The Half-Way Point…More or Less

24 Jan

By the calendar, we’re half-way through first grade. In our books, we’re nearly there. Here’s what we’ve been up to and where we’re at:


We’ve just finished lesson 40 (out of 100) in First Language Lessons. I skipped about 10 of the lessons because some were just too repetitive or covered things, like home address, that we’ve already done. We’ll be heading into pronouns soon.


We’ve got about 3 or 4 weeks left of Singapore 1A, then we’ll begin 1B. The last couple of weeks have been quite challenging for Esa. We’re doing subtracting within 20 and the method taught is fantastic, but challenging. Basically, you have to alter the equation so that you’re subtracting from ten, like this: 14-7 becomes 10-7, then after you subtract, you add the 4 back on. Esa can do it, but this multi-step approach is a little hard to remember.

Fortunately, the next few sections are fun things like shapes and measuring, so he’ll have a little break from it. We’ll then revisit adding with the Singapore supplemental workbooks. I also plan during the ‘fun’ sections, to work on math facts. Esa doesn’t have his addition and subtraction facts to 10 memorised and doing so will really make those larger problems easier.

World History

We’ve just finished chapter 18 (out of 42) (The Minoans) in SOTW. On BBC iplayer there is a fantastic series called How Earth Made Us which goes along nicely with our studies. The presenter talks about Crete and how it was destroyed. We also enjoyed reading about the lost city of Atlantis. I’m a definite believer. πŸ™‚

British History

This is moving slowly because there is little to read about pre-Romans and I’m wanting our British history study to correspond to world history. Well, actually, I don’t want it to match up exactly because it would be overkill, but the Roman invasion into Britain doesn’t begin in SOTW until level 2, and that’s a little too far away. We’ll probably start Our Island Story during our last term (April-June) along with the matching sections in Usborne British History. Then when we get to it in SOTW2, it will be a nice review and we can compare and contrast the accounts.


We’ve only just started Sequential Spelling, and I’m not worrying about levels with this. We’ll do a lesson a day until we’re finished. This program is excellent. We’ve just finished lesson 7 and already I see results. Without studying or memorising, Esa is now able to spell many words, including ‘beginning’ and ‘disagree.’ This program does require a fair bit of writing, at this point 20 words a day. You can omit some words, and we usually skip about 3. This is a fantastic non-workbook approach to spelling that is sure to also improve his reading.


We’re chugging along quite nicely with reading. He is beginning to enjoy his reading and occasionally picks things up and reads briefly for pleasure. We’ll be finishing with phonics instruction this summer.


We’re working on our second lesson in Buiding Foundations of Scientific Understanding: solids, liquids, and gases. This was a lot of fun and even I learned a few things. There are 41 lessons in this book, and I’m hoping to make it stretch through second grade. The next level of this book will be out in May (I can’t wait!) so we’ll have that to look forward to in third and fourth (and fifth?) grades. I’m beefing this programme up with supplemental books and activities. One thing we did was to measure the amount of air in a sponge. We did this by immersing the sponge in a bowl of water, squeezing out the air, allowing the water to fill it, then measuring the amount of water.

By the way, BBC has another great 4-part programme on iplayer called Chemistry: A Volatile History. We’re really enjoying this.


We are just over half-way through level A of italic handwriting. We plan to be finished with it in about 13 weeks. We’ll go straight on to level B; I won’t wait until second grade.


We’ve just finished week 4 in Writing with Ease. I’m still a bit unsure of this programme. And since starting spelling, I’m worried we’re doing a bit too much writing. When it comes time to do copy work, Esa’s balking a bit now. I’m hoping he’ll adjust. Before starting spelling, I was wanting to increase the amount of writing he does anyway since it hasn’t been increased at all. Week 5 sees the addition of another day of copy work, so we’ll see how that goes…


We’ve completed our first lesson from ARTistic Pursuits. This was a big hit. I’m not worrying about being on a certain level with this, either. There are only 3 books for the first 4 years, so I’m sure we’ll finish the 3rd book by then.

In Drawing with Children, we’re still working on the first lesson, but we’re enjoying it and learning a lot. We’ll probably start the next lesson next week or the week after.

For artist study, we’re still looking at Monet. We’ll study one more painting then move on to Van Gogh.


We’re struggling to fit this in. I think this may be something we do on the weekends. In about 2 months we’ll be spending a lot more time out in the garden, so we may not really get to any handicrafts (apart from our usual baking, housework, etc) until autumn. He may have more of an interest then as well.


We’ve left Grieg and are now enjoying Vivaldi. The first day I put the CD on Esa said, after about 20 seconds, ‘This is better than Grieg.’ I agree. πŸ™‚


My husband is teaching Esa to read Arabic…and he’s now teaching me as well. πŸ™‚ Arabic is very phonetic and not too difficult to read. Meaning and grammar are a completely different challenge that we’ll conquer later.

According to my schedule, we’ll be finished with first grade by the end of June. I’m not sure if we’ll acually be done with everything by then, but we’ll have July and August to finish up. And if life throws us a curve ball…well, we’ll just keep at it as best we can until we get done. πŸ™‚


2 responses to “The Half-Way Point…More or Less

  1. Umm Khadijah

    January 24, 2010 at 11:53 pm

    Assalamu alaykum,

    Masha’Allaah seems like things are going well. We’re also working through Singapore Maths, but memorising number bonds is going a bit slow, so we haven’t moved on much lately as I’ve been so eager for them to learn them before going on to further units, as recommended in the book, does your son know many of his number bonds yet? and if not many has he found it ok moving on?

    • whimsyway

      January 25, 2010 at 8:44 am

      Wa Laykum Salaam,
      Esa doesn’t really know any of the number bonds, but he understands the concept and can make number bonds. Although number bonds are used in some of the next few lessons, I’ve not really found it a problem for him not to know them. But not knowing his addition and subtraction facts is a definite hindrance.


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