Kindergarten to Second Grade

Since I am updating the curriculum section, I thought I’d retroactively go back and add in a section about what we used way back in our first homeschooling years.


Math was very free form for kindy. We used the task cards and guidebook for the Cuisenaire rods called Mathematics Made Meaningful (though the videos from Education Unboxed would now make a better guide choice). We used Games for Math by Peggy Kaye. We used lots of living math books, especially the Stuart J. Murphy Mathstart series and the various Anno books.

Phonics and language arts were also pretty free form. Both the boys played a lot of games on Starfall. We used the BOB books. We played lots of the games in Games for Writing by Peggy Kaye. For handwriting, we used Handwriting Without Tears. We read a ton of wonderful picture books.

Logic was lots of games such as Set and Mastermind. We used the Lollipop Logic workbook (at the time, there was only one!).

History was covered by Story of the World, volume 1, which we read aloud and colored pictures from. We did lots of fun projects such as building a tiny Greek temple from toilet paper tubes and pretending to take a visit to the Roman baths. SOTW1 is supposed to be for first grade. However, we just read and enjoyed it, and read lots of picture books to go alongside it. The kids thought history was lots of fun.

Science was mostly Magic Schoolbus science kits. I’ve since come to dislike most science kits, but these were simple and easy to use and while a couple of them, in retrospect, were sort of duds, a couple of them, like the polymers one and the germs one, were pretty excellent.

Everything Else was surprisingly the same even in kindergarten! We did Destination Imagination Rising Stars. The boys played soccer for the first time. BalletBoy started his first ballet class. We did a lot of art at home.

First Grade

Both the boys did MEP 1A, but struggled with the emphasis on balance equations. Next, we tried Math Mammoth, but this only worked for BalletBoy. Mushroom found math to be very anxiety ridden. He took a long break from math. When he started up again, we tried a lot of different things and finally settled on Miquon Math.

We used Handwriting Without Tears again. We continued using Games for Writing. We tried our hand at some workbook curricula for early writing, but without any luck. We also tried copywork, but mostly beyond handwriting, I floundered trying to figure out what to do for this subject.

We used Explode the Code for phonics. At the time, the program seemed good for BalletBoy and later I thought it was good for Mushroom. We also tried the online version and hated it. In retrospect, I have my doubts that this program was worth so much of our time. Mushroom also used Progressive Phonics. I used Blend Phonics as a sort of guidebook for myself in teaching him. Mostly we read lots of real books.

We used Story of the World volume 2 for medieval history. However, as the year went on, I became more disillusioned with it and we ended up using Builders of the Old World to finish up the year. You can read more about my thinking at the time here. As always, we took lots of field trips and read lots of individual books as well.

We began DIY’ing science and for the first year we focused on physics. I relied heavily on Bill Nye the Science Guy episodes, as well as Let’s Read and Find Out books. I used a variety of books which you can now find in one compilation called 101 Great Science Experiments by Neil Ardley. You can read more about my science plans at the time on Science Without a Net, linked in the tab above.

We used Logic Safari book 1 and Analogies for Beginners.

We did Destination Imagination Rising Stars and soccer. We did our first Shakespeare show that year. We did lots of art. BalletBoy continued ballet and that’s the year Mushroom tried it as well.

Second Grade

Mushroom continued Miquon Math. BalletBoy continued Math Mammoth. We tried using the Singapore Challenging Word Problems, but they weren’t super successful. We kept reading lots of living math books.

We finished using Handwriting Without Tears. After some detours, including a workbook that I made for the kids which they actually enjoyed, this is the year we discovered Brave Writer! By the end of the year, we were doing a Brave Writer routine of copywork or dictation, narration, poetry tea, and freewrites. Our writing lives were much improved.

Both the boys began reading more independently, including chapter books. We also continued Explode the Code, though, again, in retrospect, I think BalletBoy would have been better off with a proper spelling program and Mushroom would have been much better off with a stronger phonics program.

We moved to doing American history this year. We used the American Story series by Betsy Maestro and the USKids History series from Brown Paper Schoolbag as our core books, alongside a ton of great biographies, like the Jean Fritz books. We also did a unit on Africa, since this is the year we traveled to southern Africa. You can find more about that unit here.

For science this year, we studied chemistry and earth science, again using individual books and experiments. You can find more about that year in my Science Without a Net posts linked above.

We used more Prufrock Press books, though I remember that Logic Safari book 2 was too difficult for that year. We discovered Tin Man Press as well and used several of the Tin Man Press materials.

Our extras stayed mostly the same. More Destination Imagination, more art, more soccer, more ballet.


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