2018-2019 Curriculum Choices – 1st and 3rd Grades

Our 2018-2019 School Year began back in July.  Perhaps not the most well timed start as we had a couple of major interruptions. But such is life, right?

I noticed a couple of weeks ago that I needed to make a few adjustments to the schedule and book selections. I think that I finally have things set to a good and reasonable flow for my younger students.

We do some studies all together and those things are not included in this post but will soon follow. The selections listed below are used with my Form 1 students.


Math Mammoth is used by both students at their appropriate level. I switched a few years ago to using Math Mammoth with my younger students and they are doing well. Not only do I appreciate the presentation of the math but the price is affordable as well. I also use Ray’s Primary Arithmetic. My 1B daughter really enjoys it and I think it works very well for mental math work. We use it once or twice a week.

Reading/Phonics Instruction:

My third grade/Form 1A student is working through the Treadwell Readers and has about two pages left in the First Reader. He will immediately move into the Second Reader. He is really enjoying these books and moving at a fabulous pace. Since I prefer a hard copy, I purchase copies from Amazon at a reasonable price. But you can access these readers for free online!

My first grade/Form 1B student is about a third of the way through Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. I love this resource and have used it for several children. Simple, straight-forward, short lessons are a win for me. All of my children who have used this book are excellent readers!


Beautiful Handwriting for Children by Penny Gardner is an italics handwriting program that I am using with multiple children. This resource covers print and cursive writing. It includes pages to practice letters, words, and then sentences. Additional blank pages for practice can be printed as well. The PDF download is only $10! My 1st and 3rd grader are working through the print pages at their own pace.

Within this post, the books highlighted link to Amazon. I choose to link to Amazon because they offer a great “look inside” feature that often allows you to read a few pages of a text. I have always found that helpful. However, I often use ThriftBooks.com because I find better pricing. It has helped my budget tremendously!


All of my children are studying 1650-1800. For my Form 1 students there is more of a focus on just the years of 1700-1800 with a slight bit of the “heroic age” tossed in for my 1st grader. A First Book of American History and Meet the North American Indians are our current history books. I am also including a historical fiction read aloud. We are currently reading Johnny Tremain. A couple of times a week, I read a chapter or two during lunch. In a separate post I will share the history free reads that are available to the children; these include picture books as well.


I have a few resources on hand for geography. We will be working through Paddle to the Sea by Holling C Holling as well as Charlotte Mason’s Elementary Geography. To add a bit of fun in the mix, I am including Blue Ridge Billy by Lois Lenski. Her regional stories of America show the beauty of the different ares and people! Naturally we will work with a few basic maps and use our wall maps often to locate places we read about.


Sam and Martha will be enjoying Pagoo by Holling C. Holling. This one is always a favorite! We are also reading A Drop of Water and doing some of the experiments shared in the back of the book.  This term our Special Study will be on trees and dragonflies. I may be adding in reading Tree and Shrubs by Arabella Buckley. I do not have a copy of this yet so we shall see if we work it in. Science is a favorite with Sam and he asks for it daily!


Form 1B typically includes Fairy Tales and Form 1A often incorporates Mythology if I am remembering correctly. I am alternating reading fairy tales and Greek myths. I am utilizing a copy I own of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. While I have D’ aulaires Book of Greek Myths on my wish list, I am trying to use what I have. I own Greek Myths by Oliva Coolidge and Usborne Greek Myths. Which one will I use? I’m not quite sure!

I am also reading Swallows and Amazon by Arthur Ransome. This was just a spur of the moment decision. I am fairly confident that my third grade kiddo is going to love it! I may also have him listen to the audio of Pilgrim’s Progress in the evening as he falls asleep.

I think that covers the Form 1 work for the coming term/year. This is such a delightful age. I love their insights and narrations on the things we read and observe. We do not read these books daily and some are not read even weekly. My goal is to spread a feast for my children. We are savoring it slowly.  My hope is that this might be helpful to someone. As time allows, I will try to share a weekly schedule for my Form 1 Students.


**Please note that there are affiliate links included in this post. These links in no way effect your shopping or browsing experience. If you decide to make a purchase, I earn a very small percentage.





Salt to the Sea

Most of my personal reading is unplanned and driven by my mood. Over the last several years my reading tastes and preferences have expanded and grown for which I am thankful. Naturally a great deal of my reading time is spent with selections from the Children’s and Young Adult areas. What I have found surprising is that I am constantly reading books that share about people and events during World War II. It is most definitely unplanned yet I find myself captured by these stories.

During a recent library visit, Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys caught my eye.  Between Shades of Gray by this same author had been on my to read list but I had to return it before I reached it in my pile. I grabbed Salt to the Sea and determined that I would bump it to the top of my stack.

With Salt to the Sea, we journey with four young people to one of the greatest maritime tragedies but a tragedy that is not known by most. Four refugees, all carrying heavy, heartbreaking secrets and burdens, are all traveling to gain passage on the Wilhelm Gustloff. At one time the Wilhelm has been a luxury ship but now it would serve as the means of safety and hope for thousands..

Florian, Joana, Emilia, and Alfred. Four young people who will capture your interest and some your heart. Each person is telling their story; the book switching from character to character. This not only allows you to see the character from their own perspective, but also gain the insight of how they are viewed by those around them. It allows for great depth in the characters. The secrets and the burdens they are carrying are slowly peeled back layer by layer. This can be quite gut wrenching for the reader. So quickly I came to love some of these characters.

Salt to the Sea is set during a tragic, horrific time in our history. So much pain, death, suffering, loss. As you read the stories of these four young people, there will be pain, sadness, despair, and loss. But there is also beautiful hope. Clearly you see forgiveness, strength, determination, friendship, sacrifice, and love. This time period seems to highlight man’s evilness and depravity. However, it is countered with such love and goodness.

Salt to the Sea reminded me much of my reading experience with All the Light We Cannot See and Code Name: Verity. Powerful, powerful stories that reveal so much about us as people and our capabilities of hate and love. And in the end…hope. Always hope.

I quickly passed this along to my 17 and 15 year old daughters. I will wait a bit before allowing my twelve year old to read it. I do highly recommend this for mature teens and adults. I’d love to hear your thoughts if you have read Salt to the Sea!

The Climbing Knights – A Review

The king has issued a tournament. Knights have gathered to accept the challenge. Who will be the first knight to reach the top of the castle? Ah, do not be mislead, my fellow knight. Speed will not give you victory. Skill and strategy will decide the winner as castle guards lurk around each corner and will send you down the castle wall.

The Climbing Knights from SimplyFun has brought together the excitement of knights and castles in this game of skill and strategy. Designed for ages 8 and up, The Climbing Knights offers a fun, exciting, and engaging opportunity for children to visualize a plan of action, to not accept defeat, implement a strategy, and claim victory.

I’m reviewing The Climbing Knights; one of the four of SimplyFun new releases.

The Climbing Knights is quick and easy to set up and begin playing. As soon as our game arrived, the kiddos wanted to play immediately. I quickly read through the simple, straightforward rules and the challenge began. The game includes a base to hold the castle securely, a three tiered castles (magnetic), 4 Knights (magnetic), 8 Coat of Arms (2 for each knight), 2 Guards, and three dice.

The goal of the game is to get your knight to the top of the castle without being seen by the guards. If a guard catches you scaling the wall, you are sent down a tier or level of the castle. If your knight is the first to reach the top of the castle twice and retrieve both of your coat of arms, you are named the winner! But you must play smart.

The three dice control the guards and how many moves you can make on a turn. A good roll of the dice will cause your guards to take a snooze! Perfect time to be out in the open. The castle wall provides window ledges that hide you from the guards’ patrol which can offer much needed protection for your knight. The slow, stealthy ascent may perhaps be wiser that speed.

Our Thoughts on Climbing Knights

It can be challenging to find games for younger children that present the opportunity to build skills while also being entertaining and engaging. They most definitely are working their strategy skills with The Climbing Knights. I have yet to win!

“I really liked it. I love anything with knights and castles.  I liked how the guards circled the castle. It was nice that the castle was standing up and big. I like that you can actually move the knights up a standing castle. The yellow knight is my favorite. It is really fun to play.” Hannah, 10

While this game is geared for ages 8 and up, depending on your child, children younger than 8 can most definitely play. My son, Sam, is 6 and he had no problems at all understanding the concept of the game and doing well moving his knight up the castle wall.

“It has knights. I just like it. It was a fun, fun game. Are we keeping it? Don’t put it in the trash.” Sam – 6

The Climbing Knights would work beautifully as a fun resource if you are studying the medieval period or are doing  a unit study on knights and castles. For us, it has found a home in our game closet and has been played frequently by my kiddos. Game play only take about 30 minutes or so. We can quickly set it up and play a game before dinner, right before bed, on a rainy afternoon, or those days when we just have to ditch school for an hour or so.

“I loved it. It was great! I like moving up with the knights. The guards were fun, too. We took turns and had different winners. It is a fun game.” Sarah – 8

If you are a game playing family or want to add a bit of fun learning to your day, take a look at SimplyFun. They have a wide variety of games available from preschool to whole family fun. Make sure to see what other Review Crew members are saying!

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