Out of all the grades to begin choosing homeschool curriculum, first grade is really overwhelming. Not from the point that it will necessarily be hard to teach, but it is the first formal grade. You want to kick off your formal years right.
The first of anything can be tough just because of inexperience. Add to that the mega choices we have in homeschooling and it can be downright stressful to choose curriculum.
Starting with history and geography (because they are two of my favorite subjects) I want to give you a bit of help in sorting out the choices.
First Grade Homeschool History Secrets
When starting with history, keep these two important things in mind.
Decide an approach to history.
When I first started homeschooling, studying history in chronological order made sense to me after I read The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home (Third Edition). I started my homeschool journey with classical roots.
I started off first grade using The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child: Volume 1: Ancient Times: From the Earliest Nomads to the Last Roman Emperor, Revised Edition (commonly referred to as SOTW).
Story of the World covers history in a 4 year cycle beginning with the Ancients and moving forward to Modern. You spend one year on each time period.
The teacher’s guide is helpful and necessary because you have questions and answers to help review the reader. History is told in a story fashion and my boys found it delightful.
However, after schooling for a few years, I realized that because of his younger age, my middle son wasn’t retaining as much information as my oldest son had retained.
So I questioned the chronological approach and switched to a literature approach by Beautiful Feet where my son could learn history through a famous historical character.
This made a huge difference with him and helped my middle son make a meaningful connection to history.
So using Beautiful Feet is one example of living books and is a literature approach to history.
Using classical books, history comes alive through people and events and it’s not chronological.
If you feel your background in history was lacking, there is nothing wrong with starting in chronological order and adding in living books too.
It’s taking the best of both approaches. If you have it in your budget, there is nothing wrong with choosing one history curriculum as your spine or the essential guide you are using and another one you like to supplement with.
Now, please don’t make the mistake of doing two curriculum because that is overwhelming. But using curriculum which fits your teaching style more and using the other one to help add other things your spine may be lacking is a good technique to keep you rounded out in your teaching.
Before you can make curriculum choices, you want to take stock of how you think best your children will learn and how much background help you need in history.
Secular, Christian or Neutral.
The next biggie to decide is how you want to approach history.
Do you want the history of religion woven into your curriculum like Mystery of History, which too is taught in chronological order? Or would you prefer a more neutral stand to history like The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child: Volume 1: Ancient Times: From the Earliest Nomads to the Last Roman Emperor, Revised Edition?
Too, another reason for choosing a program like The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child: Volume 1: Ancient Times: From the Earliest Nomads to the Last Roman Emperor, Revised Edition is because you may want to add your own Bible study information to it.
I didn’t need any help with a worldview and so I chose SOTW. I also used other resources which I’m going to tell you about in a minute.
Though some may argue that a secular and neutral approach in history are synonymous, it has been my experience that they are not. In my earlier years of homeschooling I felt that you taught Bible based or used something that conflicted it and this idea is still popular among homeschoolers.
I still feel like that way somewhat but have expanded my view of what is neutral because of using so many different history curriculum.
There can be some fine differences though it is tough to tell at times until after you have finished the curriculum in full.
Then there is secular curriculum that takes a more neutral approach in that they merely introduces the idea of the big bang theory but then talks about true history like making disciples during Roman times.
The book I am talking about and is an example of a more neutral view is a book by Virgil Hillyer, A Child’s History of the World. I skipped the first two chapters of the book because of the mention of the big bang theory which I didn’t want to introduce at this age.
A Child’s History of the World makes history come alive for this age and it has been the one book that has held each of my boy’s attention as they started first grade. I can’t say enough good things about this book.
Looking back now, I could have easily only used A Child’s History of the World and added in my own free resources.
For hands-on learning we’ve always used Home School in the Woods products.
Homeschool Geography for the Littles
It is important to mix hands-on activities with formal learning.
I enjoyed using the series by Steck Vaughn called Maps, Globes, Graphs. It was a mix of coloring, crossword puzzles and search and find clues in the workbooks along with maps.
Another super resource for grade K – 4 is Galloping the Globe, which is a unit study approach.
It it not as easy to follow along because I feel it is more like a reference but it is meaty enough for this grade level to understand about the cultural of other places.
The beauty of this resource is that it adds in things like cooking and cultural, which certainly needs to be included to help a child appreciate that geography is more than just a map, which could be boring.
Galloping the Globe would compliment a workbook approach. My other love to have at this is Geography from A to Z: A Picture Glossary (Trophy Picture Books).
This is a reference book along with pictures to explain different features of geography. A must have if I were homeschooling this grade again.
I hope this background information along with some of the things I used will keep this process fun and exciting like it should be.
Also, another one that we love for this age and that fits my idea of what teaching history and geography is Beautiful Feet curriculum that I mentioned earlier.
.Have you decided what you are using already for first grade?
Also, look at these other helpful resources:
- 10 Westward Expansion History Fun Coloring Pages
- 4 Shortcuts to Teach Hands-on American History in Half the Time
- Start the Homeschool Year Off Right: 5 History Ideas for the First Week
Hugs and you know I love ya