1st Grade

Decisions, Decisions

(This turned in to a long, rambly post which I decided to leave as is.  That way if I come back and say hey---I scratched that.  Or wow!  We made it!  I'll have this for reference of a starting point either way.  :-) )



I'm making headway in planning for our new school year which begins in July, 2019.  I'm so excited to be at peace with a decision for the year for my youngest----at least for the start of it.  (I'm hoping there is no need for a disclaimer and no need to come back later and say I couldn't hang in there with the original choices; but there's always a chance of it with me.) 

There are so many great complete curriculum choices out there for families following the Charlotte Mason method that it can be hard to pin down a decision.  Especially for someone who wants to read all the books. Or who loves planning from scratch.  Or who has never been able to follow the plans as written by anyone else for long in the past 12 years of homeschooling----thank you for your hard work though you wonderful CM curriculum (and other curriculum) developers!

I even began working out my own history rotation along with other curriculum areas and posting them on this site.  But.  Life happened.   A. LOT.   It has a funny way of doing that, doesn't it? 

We spent over four months this year living at my mom's while our house was undergoing a lot of work.   We are still dealing with chronic health issues of our own along with some of those we love dearly facing health issues.  So needless to say, the brain space has not been there for planning nor the physical time to do it.    Even when I tried---I spent much of the time lamenting to myself how much I wanted to try Ambleside Online again because I LOVE the ladies who developed it and those who have come alongside over the years to lead and help others.  LOVE THEM.  (As much as one can from afar and from listening to their talks, reading their books and blog posts, following them on Instagram. Which is a great deal even though I may never meet one of them face to face.)  But I have remained unsettled with AO as a best fit for us due to the history book selections mostly and other choices to a lesser degree.  I tried subbing out books with my oldest and still using parts of the program, but it always felt disjointed and never quite right.

And then there was Wildwood and A Mind in the Light to consider.  Both awesome looking with great ladies working on them!   I will no doubt add in books from both of these along with Ambleside Online to free reading choices and bedtime reading.  A Gentle Feast got quite a bit of time and consideration from me as well----another solid choice.  (And there are more out there!  These were the ones I kept circling back around to though.)

But the Alveary.  The Alveary has been in the back of my mind for my youngest since I learned of it a few years ago.   The idea of a cohesively planned 1-12 course of study that was closer to my own ideas about history sequence and book selections caught my attention straight away.  Decision fatigue is real. And it's hard.  And although part of me really enjoys planning out all the details of a year and doing my own thing, another part of me just wants to relax into the plans of someone else.  To free up the time and space all the planning takes and to put that energy into being fully in the present as much as I can vs. always thinking ahead, always searching, always planning.  Because boy does the time go sooooooo fast! (Too fast!)

My oldest has reflected on her schooling as she's listened to me talk a bit as I've wrestled with decisions for my youngest. (They are over eleven years apart.)  She thinks it has been great that for the most part we've done our own thing and that I planned her education based on her needs and interests and gave her choices when appropriate (there has been a lot of choice given to her in high school.  As a funny aside:  she read some books other curricula use in first grade or other early years as a teen and as said---thank you for not reading that to me when I was little.  Ha ha.  She has always been a very sensitive soul.)  So there has been that voice in the back of my head saying I could do it again.   That maybe I should do it again.  But I don't know.  I think the strategy I feel led to take right now is to really try out the use of plans from someone else and adjust as needed. 

I was an Alveary member for the 2017-18 school year, though it was not the best fit for my oldest as it turned out so I did not really implement much of the actual curriculum.  However, I enjoyed the teacher resources and training webinars a lot.  Even though I have studied Charlotte Mason for years, I continue to find so much to learn.  (I think it shall always be that way because her ideas are living and lasting.)  Because  I could not commit to the high school pilot for the current school year and my youngest wasn't old enough for Form 1b (1st grade) I did not renew my membership.  

Also because I'm wired to start planning with the end in mind I almost discounted the Alveary entirely when I realized the little one would end up having a high school history sequence that didn't start at the beginning of the rotation or finish at the end.  (Yes, the rational side of me knows that x, y, z can happen between now and then and things could change in major ways, but it's still how I think best.  I like a long term vision that I can adjust as we go along rather than a vision that is constantly under development.) Because she is my only one going through the majority of her school years and I don't have to consider combining children, this bothered me.  I like the sequence the oldest has had in high school.  And I like the idea of ending high school studying current times.  But then LIFE again.  So shortly after the Alveary opened registration for the 2019-2020 school year, in a moment of "hey maybe I can make this work"---I purchased a membership. (Then immediately felt ridiculous because I have shelves and shelves full of books that I could use already....but that's another ramble for another day as this is already getting long.)

Months later though I still felt so unsettled.  I kept weighing the decision of what to do, what to use, following my own path, combining others, or picking one to try to follow.  Usually by March or April I have the next school year's resources completely decided but this year has been so very different.  We moved back home in May and I felt like we should still be back in January somewhere.   Like time stood still at home even though it moved at a pace like no other time before otherwise. So when I finally sat down to work in earnest on planning next year, I just couldn't.  There was exhaustion and tears and frustration.  And I opened up the Alveary membership site and started reading anew and said to myself----just commit to the first term and see how it goes.  You  know what?   My whole self finally said YES, I can do that.  Not just my head or my heart---but both.  Thank you, Lord. (Sincerely---not saying that lightly.) 

That yes, that peace---has even turned into excitement.   I watched the webinar on the Alveary's art program for the upcoming year and it was a big YES!!!  I LOVE art.  This was a breath of fresh air to my weary soul.  And then I started reading the Member Tutorial in earnest.  Not just skimming it.  More excitement.  There is so much I can do better and understand more this second time around.  After years of thinking there would be no second time around and the weight of one shot at doing this homeschooling thing well, along came our little one.  (Another sincere thanks to the Lord for His indescribable gift of both of our children.)  And I GET to do it again!  

So the Alveary is where I've landed with this big decision.  I know that I will add some to it and the schedule I've started working out includes my own additions (and possible deletions....I have to wait to see the plans to decide how many time slots I'll give to certain subjects, especially since I'd like to do most of our work in four days vs. five if possible.) I hope to have many happy updates to share!

I'll write a post about plans for the oldest sooner than not I hope.  I'm a terrible blogger in these recent years---but it is a goal of mine to try to write more again.  I've never been a great blogger, but we have an awesome blog book from my oldest's elementary years and I really want to have that same sort of record for my  youngest.

Until next time....


Image by yabayee from Pixabay

Isn't that bee cute?  I used it to make a curriculum notebook cover for this year.  Feel free to DOWNLOAD the cover and use it too if you'd like (PDF file).

Read Around the World


As a part of my daughter's kindergarten year we will be "reading around the world".  She loves maps and globes and learning about people, and I've been collecting books that are set in or about various parts of the world for years.  So we have an abundance!  I've narrowed it down to the following as part of our scheduled plans (it was hard!).   While I think these books are great for a target age range from 5 to 7 years old,  I think most of them could be used for any elementary age in various ways. (Bee Bim Bop is definitely for younger students, as an example of one you might leave off for older children.  And My Name is Gabriela:  The Life of Gabriela Mistral by Monica Brown is written in both English and Spanish and could be used with even older students, especially those learning Spanish.)  But overall, these could be read and enjoyed with many ages.

We will likely simply read and enjoy the books, find places on the map and such; because we will be reading in other "subjects" as well this year.  However, this study could definitely make for a full stand alone year/spine/springboard for lots of fun learning!  I imagine that I will try to tie in some art projects, types of music and cooking certain dishes as we go.  If/when I do that----I'll update this post and add more information and links I use.  

For now---here's the booklist we will focus on as we learn about different places and people.  I'll be posting our History Tales books for this year at some point soon too---and they are all picture book biographies.  So if you'd like even more ideas for books that you could use----stay tuned.  Most of the picture book biographies are based on Europeans or North Americans, but I'm excited about those choices too.

As always, PLEASE preview for suitability for your own family or classroom. 

Download all of the information below as a PDF. (Without the photos.)

Book List and Resources                       

Notes:  The books by April Sayres are non-fiction and they have large print text which could be read as is with the youngest children if so desired, and smaller text which adds more information. The Little Kids First Big Book of the World was selected for the amazing photography and to supplement with additional non-fiction content.  In this book each continent has a page with a map, the countries (where applicable) the weather, the people (where applicable), and the animals. There is also a “Let’s Go” page with each continent to suggest an activity or project.

Most books are in fictional/story form with some exceptions being:  A is for Africa, Colors of Australia, The Very First Americans, and Rain Forest Secrets which are more informational (non-fiction) text.  There are also several biographies included in the list.


I hope you will find books that you and your students or family enjoy on this list.  I’d love to hear if there are other favorites that you recommend!



Introduction to Maps

            *As the Crow Flies:  A First Book of Maps by Gail Hartman

            *Me on the Map by Joan Sweeney

For Use Throughout the Year (reference pictures, factual information, maps, etc.)

            *Little Kids First Big Book of the World by Elizabeth Carney

            *Maps by A. Mizielinska and D. Mizielinska

            *A Child’s Introduction to the World by H. Alexander

            *The Usborne Peoples of the World by G. Doherty and A. Claybourne

Optional Resources

            Globe, Map(s), Atlas

            Internet (for pictures, Google Earth, etc.)

            Music from around the world

            A Children’s World Cookbook



North America

            *Welcome to North America! by April Sayre

            *The Very First Americans by Cara Ashrose  (Tribes of North America)

            *Arctic Son by Jean Craighead George (Alaska)

            *Hill of Fire by Thomas P. Lewis (Mexico)

            *Erandi’s Braids by Antonio Madrigal (Mexico)

            *The Very Last First Time by Jan Andrews (Canada)

            *How to Make a Cherry Pie and See the USA by Marjorie Priceman (USA)

            *Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney (USA)

            *Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold (USA)



South America

            *South America, Surprise!  by April Sayre

            *Biblioburro:  A True Story from Columbia by Jeanette Winter (Columbia)

            *My Name is Gabriela:  The Life of Gabriela Mistral by Monica Brown (Columbia)

            *The Great Kapok Tree:  A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest by Lynne Cherry

            *Rain Forest Secrets by Arthur Dorros

            *Welcome to the Green House by Jane Yolen



            *Hello Europe! by April Sayre

            *The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf (Spain)

            *Chanticleer and the Fox by Barbara Cooney (England)

            *Mirette on the High Wire by Emily McCully (France)

            *Starring Mirette and Bellini by Emily McCully

(Note:  The story takes place while Mirette and Bellini are on a European tour and Bellini is actually arrested.  A major part of the story focuses in/on, St. Petersburg, Russia.  St. Petersburg is considered European Russia, but Russia is geographically on the continent of Asia.  Source: https://www.worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/europe/eurlarge.htm )

            *Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans (France)

            *Strega Nona:  Her Story as Told to Tomie dePaola by Tomie dePaola (Italy)

    *The Glorious Flight: Across the Channel with Louis Bleriot by A. and M. Provensen

    *The Treasure by Uri Shulevitz




*Greetings, Asia! By April Sayre

*The Empty Pot by Demi (China)

*Once a Mouse… by Marcia Brown (India)

*Hush! A Thai Lullaby by Minfong Ho (Thailand)

*Tikki Tikki Tembo retold by Arlene Mosel (China)

*Bee-Bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park (Korea)

*How My Parents Learned to Eat by Ina R. Friedman (Japan)

*A Pair of Red Clogs by Masako Matsumo (Japan)



            *Good Morning, Africa! by April Sayre

            *A is for Africa by Ifeoma Onyefulu

            *The Day of Ahmed’s Secret by Florence Heide and Judith Gilliland (Egypt)

            *Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain by Verna Aardema (Kenya)

            *Beatrice’s Goat by Page McBrier (Uganda)

            *Galimoto by Karen Williams (Malawi)

            *Emmanuel’s Dream:  The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah by Laurie
                       Thompson (Ghana)


Australia  (I'd love any recommendations for Australia especially!)

            *G’Day, Australia! by April Sayre

            *Colors of Australia by Lynn Olawsky

            *Over in Australia:  Amazing Animals Down Under by Marianne Berkes



            *Hooray for Antarctica! By April Sayre

Other Possibilities:  Books on penguins


Optional Reading: 
Tales from Around the World

(Please preview for your student(s).  I have not read every selection in this section to be able to add any notes/cautions.)

--The Eskimo Twins, The Dutch Twins, The Japanese Twins (and others in series) by
            Lucy Perkins

--Nursery Tales Around the World selected and retold by Judy Sierra

--Around the World in 80 Tales by Saviour Pirotta

--The Adventures of Spider: West African Folktales retold by J. Arkhurst

Since I am developing this study for my child in the upcoming school year (2018-2019) I do not have any print resources to share.  Though we will likely just read, discuss, find places on maps and such---I am toying around with the idea of a continent collage as a tie in and a passport of sorts with book covers as “stamps” or country flag stickers.  

Helpful Online Resources:

Outline Maps:  https://www.eduplace.com/ss/maps/ (I use this site for map drills with my

Passport:  If I make one geared toward this study, I will update the PDF and announce it on my blog.  This pdf file may give you an idea of how to structure one for yourself.  http://www.startwithabook.org/content/pdfs/Passport.pdf






And now for my standard Charlotte Mason/Kindergarten disclaimer:  CM did not suggest formal lessons for children before age 6.  This is just what we are doing in our family.  We will not begin narrations until next year. 

More For the First Day or Week

I was able to finish up revisions for one of my oldest's first day of school traditions---filling out a page of favorites/all about me type of pages (11 years and counting)! I also made some updates to intermediate pages that we use once we pass the Memory Book phase.


Feel free to download them to use with your family/students if you would like to.

Primary-3 page "All About Me"  Download PDF

Upper Elementary-2 page "All About Me"  Download PDF

Older Students- 1 page "Fast Facts" black/white with Bible verse  Download PDF

Older Students- 1 page "Fast Facts" black/white without Bible verse  Download PDF

Older Students- 1 page "Fast Facts" Color (blue/pink/purple/green) with Bible verse  Download PDF

Older Students- 1 page "Fast Facts" Color (blue/pink/purple/green) without Bible verse  Download PDF