Friday, July 26, 2013

School Year in Review: 1st Grade

*Affiliate links may be included in some posts, see my Disclosure tab above. *

Mayda was our 1st grader during the 2012-2013 school year. This year she really got into the enjoyment of reading, and even took on her first short chapter books. We used some books we already owned, and then during the second semester we used several provided by the TOS Review Crew. Mayda finished all of her work well before the 1st of May (started on Labor Day). She has been having a ball with the summer reading program, softball, and also getting ready for the 4H exhibits at the fair.

Click any image to view it on Amazon!

Here's my review of the 
books we used this year:

Mayda used Spectrum Phonics this year, which was a change for us. My older two had always used Christian Liberty Press Phonics, but I needed something quick and inexpensive. This was my first time using it, and I was very pleased. It has simple 2 page a day pace and she quickly worked through the basic phonics rules. The pages were well laid out and the pictures were colorful. It wasn't too easy, but she didn't struggle or cry about it. I would gladly use it again, and likely will with Wyatt.

From the website:
The lessons, perfect for students in grade 1, strengthen phonics skills by focusing on consonant blends, short and long vowel sounds, matching words, pairs, rhyming sounds, and more! Each book features full-color illustrations and provides essential tools for achieving reading fluency. They are also aligned to national and state standards and include a complete answer key. 

We used the American People and Nation from Christian Liberty Press for Mayda this year, as we had with Tyler and Emma when they were in 1st grade. All three kids found it a bit dry reading, but Mayda worked through it better than the other two. By next year I plan to find something different for Wyatt.  


Mayda had the opportunity to review ABeCeDarian Co.'s Student Workbook B1  This book is 24 lessons broken into 12 units. My biggest worry with her was that she is a sight reader. She glances at a word and knows what it is without reading it. She completely skipped the sounding-out-to-blending stage. She had memorized by sight SO many words that she seemed a great reader. But I know a time will come she will hit words she hadn't seen before, and be at a loss to know how to break them down. 

We loved this workbook because it makes her work with the sounds individually. The exercises where she sorts words into lists are really important. She is learning that several letter combinations can make the same sound, and is really slowing down to focus on them. 

Some other exercises had her focus on word lists where only one sound changes from one word to the next. This was actually really hard for her to identify, because of the way she had been reading. It is really breaking through the "code" that reading really is, helping her slow down and really put some muscle on her reading skills.  

Mayda read all of the storybooks, and loved them. Her excitement was really encouraging to Wyatt who is beginning to read the same books. She is also doing the workbook at the same pace of two lessons per week, breaking each lesson over two days. Although 6 pages in one sitting was not too much for her, the only thing she didn't like was that this was "work" compared to how she had been reading. I'm happy about this; she needed a challenge! Even though she tells me she doesn't like it, she chooses this subject to start with every day.  

Each day she pushed farther in the book than I asked her to do, and by the end of the review period we had picked up our pace to a lesson or more per day. I think initially we had moved more slowly through both books because I was struggling to absorb all the teaching materials. But as we used it more, the lessons became routines, and the kids became excited with the progress they were seeing.

At one of the local school closings, I had been really thankful to snag a copy of Addison Wesley Mathematics (Gr 1) for Mayda. We really liked the consumable workbook style and it put her well into the next level in Math skills. I'd use it again if I could find an affordable copy.

Mayda also had the chance to try out a copy of Math Rider (a computer math game) during a TOS review. It was a huge help to her basic math computation skills. She increased in her addition proficiency by 49% and her subtraction proficiency by 28%. 
Math Rider is a fun game that can easily help kids memorize their math facts quickly. It is easy to use, adapts to their needs, and rewards kids for mastering a function. There are magical elements to the story-line I don't appreciate, but the kids and I talked about those things and moved on, since the were only just part of the story, and not part of the game-play. I think all of my kids benefited from trying out Math Rider. Even I benefited from trying it out, having facts I knew, now on "rapid recall."

Mayda and Wyatt worked through this Science book together. My Father's World from Christian Liberty Press uses the days of creation as a chapter framework as they study creation as a whole. The activities are simple and there are questions to review at the end of each chapter. This one goes well with taking regular nature walks.

For Geography we used Continents and Oceans from Evan-Moor. It is the perfect introduction to basic Earth geography. This is an important subject for my kids and I love this book as a way to lead in.

From the description:
Volume 3 of Beginning Geography contains materials and projects to help children become familiar with the continents and major bodies of water on Earth. They are introduced to some facts about each continent, such as major mountain ranges, rivers, and indigenous animal species. Other exercises include naming the oceans and continents, and directions on a compass rose. There are reproducible animal, continent, and question cards for use in learning games such as Continent Concentration, Match Up, and Bean Bag Toss. Also features two-sided, full-color pull-out poster that has a map of the world on one side and a "Where in the world do they live?" animal quiz on the other side.
You get reproducible activity sheets, teacher resource pages, and cards. Complete step-by-step instructions for each project. All 16 pages perforated for easy removal. 

Mayda really enjoyed playing Go Fish with the Impressionist Artist cards from Birdcage Press. She very quickly memorized the names of 36 art pieces and picked out her favorites too. It was a fun way to get her interested in Art.

We also had a wonderful visit to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. We are currently reviewing a new book, Global Art, for the crew (review out soon!), and she has been enjoying doing a number of projects with it. 

Sometimes the disciples are the teachers, and this year I had a day like that with Mayda as we studied through our Bible curriculum, Studying God's Word "B" from Christian Liberty Press.

Here's an excerpt from my recent post about that. (please click through to read the whole story)

Two weeks ago. There was so much to do. It was a busy week, and it was my turn to cook for the Awana crowd. Tuesday's school lessons were a blur, but Mayda was motivated by something or other to get caught up. She was behind in Bible. Yes, the Bible curriculum that I had said I wasn't going to use; she really likes it. After failing to click with her two older siblings, this one clicks with her. The lesson that day was about sin. Not sin you commit, but the sin of omission. Knowing to do something and not doing it. I wanted to hurry through it, but she had figured out how to listen to the Bible readings on the smart phone... so she looked them up, and we read Matthew 25:31-46. We talked about what it means to serve Christ through serving others, and how a heart obedient to Him will follow His leading. Mayda pondered that for a bit and she said, "I want to bake some bread."
. . . Mayda and I went on through to the kitchen where the woman was sitting, and she was completely taken by surprise. I told her how Mayda had wanted to bake her bread. She turned to her grandson and then back to me, and gesturing to the crust of bread on the counter, said:
"I just told him this morning that I was going to need to order more bread!"
We exclaimed together that God had heard, and placed an order with Mayda, who was beaming now (but hiding behind me out of shyness). She wanted to pay her, but Mayda told her it was a gift. I couldn't have been more proud of my girl.
And in my heart I was humbled. How many times have I had the thought to minister to someone: to drop someone a note, or to give a quick call? Did I do it?
I have been given a mission field, and it is here. And I have so far to go, in teaching them... and I will begin with the lesson of listening. Listening to that still small voice that prompts us to love, and to be the love of Christ. In our home. In our community. In our world.
Even if that lesson came from a child, a good humbling, and a a few loaves of bread.

AWANA stands for Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed, taken from 2 Timothy 2:15:

"Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."

The best part of the Awana format is that it teaches Biblical truths with Scripture memorization to back it up. I want my kids to know what they believe, and the Biblical basis for "WHY?" as well.

I am really proud of Mayda as she finished her 2nd Sparks book with enough time to go through it completely again for a review. Of all the Sparks, only a handful did this. It was awesome.

Overall Mayda had a great year and is looking forward to the 2nd grade this fall. 



©2012-2013 Loving and Learning on the High Plains. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.


  1. Looks like a really wonderful year! I still need to post my blog about this same topic! I have to second you on ABeCeDarian's reading program. We love it!!

    1. It's great! Isn't it?! :) Thanks for coming by Kayla!

  2. Wow! All kinds of things that I now need to go research! Lol! You used some really interesting things that I hadn't heard of before. Sounds like a great year with a great student! Thanks for linking up to my curriculum post!

    1. Thanks! I have one more student post to write up... then I need to finalize what we're using this year! lol.


I always wonder if my words are encouraging to you, so please leave a comment!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...