Keep Calm, It’s First Grade: My First Attempt at a 1st Grade Curriculum

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What if this year I allowed my 6 year old son to  choose his own curriculum?  What would it look like? Well I asked him and this is what he said.

α  I would like to learn how to draw.

β  How to do cool moves on my bike.

γ  Learn to swim and go swimming.

δ  Build stuff with my tools like a little barn or using things around the house to build my    brother a toy car for his birthday.

ε  Do science experiments that will explode.

ζ  Visit the science center more often.

Now what if I incorporated reading, writing and arithmetic into his 6 year old interests?  It’s an idea experiment I am willing to try, I am looking forward to trying, I am actually excited and thrilled about trying—next year.

You see it didn’t occur to me to think of his interests when planning his 1st grade curriculum.  I thought only of what I must do based upon my own upbringing and experience in traditional school.  I forgot I was now a homeschooler and that I had options; crazy, cool, creative options to teach, explore, discover, wonder and learn with my sons.  I forgot that I didn’t have to follow the boiler plate grade-level workbooks my gracious mother in law sent to (help).  I forgot I am not trapped by standardized tests and common core.  I forgot I live in  America where making a living doing what you love is not only possible but proven.  I want to teach my children they can do what they love and make a living from it; They were born with gifts and talents that are meant to be their contribution to perhaps solving some world problem, however large or small instead of set aside as extra curricular, elective or 2nd fiddle to a “box education”.  I want to provide environments where they grow in their confidence, dismiss the status quo, and acknowledge and encourage others. Beginning with their interests in mind just may be the launch this mission needs.

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It didn’t occur to me to consider my son’s opinion.

Why would I?  I am the parent/ educator here.  It’s my husband and I job to adequately prepare and guide our sons. They’re kids-blank palates waiting for paint- which is rendered through the experiences and exposure we allow, in part, as parents. By nature, I am not that parent that allows my child to dictate his day and much more his education.  That’s hard for me to do which is why I called this interest-led  idea an experiment. By no means,  is it a new idea.  Many in the homeschool world use this approach for their schooling.  However, it’s an alternative approach I am definitely game to try especially after doing “school” my semi-formal way for 1st grade.   Below you will find a short description of what I planned for 1st grade.  

After much toiling, researching and soul searching,  I arrived at a 1st grade curriculum based on what I deemed as important for my son to learn. Hopefully you are inspired by it in the development of your own curriculum.  It’s just I felt like I was planning college courses, hence the title, “Keep calm, it’s just 1st grade”.  Just like all parents, I want the best for both my sons and homeschooling makes room for that in so many crazy, cool, creative ways.   Education can be customized. On the other hand, it can also become very consuming.

Would you like one choice to make or 1,000,000,000 choices to make?  Welcome to my brain.

There are non-negotiables in life like wearing a seat belt, maintaining good hygiene (depending on who you are), telling the truth (okay, depending on who you are, too). I agree that in education there are non-negotiables as well, such as reading, writing and math but how we arrive at those non-negotiables, I am learning,  are up for experimentation.  Outside of reading, writing and math, education is quite subjective. Since I am committed to carrying out these basics, I give myself permission to allow the subjective to actually come from the subject, himself…next year.

 

As you browse my 1st Grade Fall and Spring curriculum know this:  My son took to some parts and not so much to others.  Our schedule was flexible and not everything was tackled consistently, exactly as described nor perfectly.  Some of this list became more of a wish list. (Regardless, I believe in always writing down my plans whether I follow it to a T or not because things written live to see another day.) Tweet that.

Interestingly, our real challenge has been with the non-negotiables.

The more I think about it, it seems a natural strategy to use he and his 4 year old brother’s interests in these early stages as a stealth way to master the basics.  

We shall see— next year!

 

 

as of this year…

MY FIRST GRADE CURRICULUM

BIBLE STUDY:  I create my own lesson plans around the book of Genesis and Exodus. It’s a daily study that includes games, reading, writing, video, narration and suspense.

READING:  Early Learner Readers from the library are read daily, aloud with me -*after we completed Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons which he started in kindergarten.

MATH: Life of Fred: Elementary Series plus living math books from the local library with a focus on the history of counting, numbers, money, etc.

BLACK HISTORY:  Read elementary age biographies of African American explorers, inventors and scientists weekly.

GEOGRAPHY: Explore the continent of Africa with a focus on North Africa and it’s countries through digital puzzles, art, video and hands-on map games.

DEVOTIONAL: I created an interactive devotional which involves physical activity, art exercises and journaling to introduce the design and purpose of God’s masterpiece—the human body.

SCIENCE:  A store bought science kit (which was given to me by a neighbor) with everything you need to conduct @20 experiments.

PIANO:  Weekly lessons.

CODING:  Hour of Code program plus various other apps such as Hopscotch, A.L.E.X. done weekly.

FILMMAKING:  Plan, shoot and edit his own movies using the iPhone and iPad. Involves storyboarding, voice over, sound and visual effects and filmmaking vernacular.

ENTREPRENEURIAL WORKSHOP:  Learn about kids who have started their own businesses via internet news.  Create entrepreneurial opportunities of our own. Every time he shows an interest in something, say, “Somebody came up with that idea” and proceed to research that person and thing.

COMMUNITY:  Connected to the entrepreneurial workshops, the goal is to expose him to the behind the scenes by touring local businesses in addition to other community places like firehouse, postoffice, police station, college campus,etc.

If you are interested in more information about any of the subjects above, let me know in comments and I will gladly create a post describing a more detailed account of our experience with each.

Also, I am working on making the bible study and devotional curriculums accessible to those who may be interested.  For a short time, all I would want in return is your feedback.

-altesa

 

 

 

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THE CLOSET ACTRESS: Waiting to Exhale

THE BACKSTORY

You know how birthdays have a funny way of inciting reflection and possible depression.    Well, It’s about 2 weeks shy of my **th birthday and I had been reflecting and depressing, cleaning and shopping when I came across clothes in my closet l had not seen since before I had become a wife and mother to two– 8 years ago.  Naturally, I want to try them on. Of course to see if this aging lady has really changed.  Because if they still fit then that would mean, in my world,  I haven’t really aged or changed “physically” at all. (oh yeah!)  After praying and slowly slipping on the first dress, memories of a slimmer waistline flooded my mind.  If. I. could. just. hold. my. sto. mach. in… I could fit it.  (exhale). It worked.  I have to capture this moment.  Honey take a picture!

…and The Closet Actress Series was born.

I’m in the closet too. Me, the actress. Much like my forgotten but favorite digs, Me, the actress has been tucked away for so long for reasons I am not prepared to explore in this post. Perhaps the stills below would help to express the frustration behind that story. In any case, this series premiere of The Closet Actress is about rediscovering the forgotten.

It was my birthday and I needed a way to celebrate. Dinners and lunch with friends were on the list but I wanted something more. Purposefully more.  

THE WARDROBE

The clothes I am wearing in this episode of The Closet Actress are dresses and skirts I haven’t worn in 10 years.  I am proud to say they fit! not perfectly as in pre-kids perfectly but they never the less fit at least for an at-home birthday photo shoot with my husband.

I am glad to have created an occasion to take both the clothes and the gift out of the closet.

May you be inspired to rediscover what’s been tucked away and forgotten in your life.

Are you a closet actress, photographer, artist, writer, knitter? Do tell.IMG_5898

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Wardrobe in order of  appearance:

Green Circle Dress with Belt, MICA   

Floral Halter, Mario Balthazar   

Black Sleeveless, Rubi Rox  

Pleated Skirt, Mohji Kohji   

Film and Theater Inspirations:

The Birds, 1963  Imitation of Life, 1959

Raisin in the Sun, 1961  Grease, 1978

The Elephant In The Homeschool Room

I came across this interesting article, “Confessions of an Unsocialized Public Schooled Child”,  by Eliza De La Portillia, via HuffPost Parents at thee perfect time. For weeks, I have planned (in my head) the words to write for a post of my own on it’s very subject…

Socialization.

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For the first time in my homeschool journey, (a whopping 7 months now), I was asked about socialization. It was by a well-meaning, dear friend, who I have known since grade school. City girls, she and I watched our single moms work 2 or more jobs to provide for us outside of the home.  School/Career/ Work was our immersion program.

Getting married and having children were rarely apart of our childhood or young adult conversations, although we both are married with kids now.  Much less, staying home with our kids.  Much, much less, (like never) HOMESCHOOLING!  Who?! is going to do What?!  The tradition of school and friendships are ingrained in us.  After all it was through school that we met and remained friends these many years. So I understood her reaction to “homeschool” with a question about socialization.

Yet, I felt unprepared and offended.

Feelings of defensiveness rose.  I replied to her query in my best matter-of-fact, nonchalant way.  The truth is socialization never really played apart in my husband and I decision to or not to homeschool.  It is a non factor.  It is something I read about on other homeschooler’s blogs but never concerned myself with personally.

This direct question about socialization and the timely HuffPost Parent article was my call to action.  Not as you may suspect.  It woke me up to the need to educate myself on this subject further for the sake of those who are allowing it to be the elephant in their homeschool rooms or on their long distance phone conversations, as it related to me.  It’s probably the #1 question any given homeschooler is asked by a new, non or anti-homeschooler.  It’s time to demystify this reactive argument that is often bait for anxiety and worry.

There’s a popular saying: “The way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time”.  While I work on cutting up that elephant, why don’t you take a gander at Confessions of an Un-Socialized Public Schooled Child originally posted on www.TheTattooed Homestead.com. Perhaps you will be inspired by her perspective on socialization as I am.

Thanks for reading.

altesa

 

Happy New Year or nah

New Year’s Day is like a reset button for most of us.  It’s a chance to start again–fresh and focused!

While you are planning to start at 1 and do “life” differently this year, consider equipping yourself with these three timeless truths from the Bible, sure to keep the happy in your year long after it loses its new.

Monitor your progress by comparing yourself to your past and not to others.

“Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else.” (Galatians 6:4).

Positive change occurs best with slow, steady progress.

“A bonanza at the beginning is no guarantee of blessing at the end.” (Proverbs 20:21, MSG)

Sometimes we need to wait to sense God’s presence and help.

“Meanwhile, friends, wait patiently for the Master’s Arrival. You see farmers do this all the time, waiting for their valuable crops to mature, patiently letting the rain do its slow but sure work.” (James 5:7, MSG)

Thanks for reading!

 

Source: Bill Gaultiere, Soul Shepherding 

 

Ordinary Glory

“Never believe that the so-called random events of life are anything less than God’s appointed order. Be ready to discover His divine designs anywhere and everywhere.”- Oswald. Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest

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When I allow thanksgiving to invade my ambitious mind, I see strokes of beauty in the day to day part of life; the grocery store runs and Chipotle lines, the wet grass and playgrounds, audition slates, LA traffic (believe it or not), early morning piano for kiddos and last-minute trips to Target. It’s my life, in all its ordinary glory.