Homeschooling Update: Core A Progress and Getting Ready for Summer

Homeschooling Update Core A Progress May 2015We’re now roughly through week six of our plans for First Grade, using Sonlight Core A. Here were some of the highlights from the past month:

History & Geography

Ongoing reads:

Usborne Children's EncyclopediaMy son says the Children’s Encyclopedia is his favorite. He wants to read from it every day (and every day doesn’t have something scheduled, so he’s extra happy when it is an encyclopedia day.) Fortunately it’s also used in Science A, and between the History and Science readings I can make it so most days get an encyclopedia entry. ๐Ÿ™‚

Living Long Ago is still popular (and he’s definitely learning from it). On the other hand, I’ve officially given up on I Heard Good News Today. I may try it again next year, or with another core even, but for now I’m substituting something else for it.

New this month

The Story of ExplorationAnd that something else is The Story of Exploration. I went through and scheduled out this book in place of IHGNT, and we’ve read two sections of it. My son loves it, I love it, it’s a much better fit for us. It’s a great book with lots of fascinating information (including some details that I never knew about the Vikings!)

Read Alouds

Ongoing reads:

The Arnold Lobel Book of Mother GooseLast month I wasn’t sure how they felt about the poetry selections The Arnold Lobel Book of Mother GooseThe Arnold Lobel Book of Mother Goose: A Treasury of More Than 300 Classic Nursery Rhymes and The Llama Who Had No Pajama but there’s no doubt now – they really like them. We’re likely to finish both of these super early, and end up rereading them at least once. After seeming fairly indifferent towards them last month, now my son is enthusiastic about them, and requests many pages each reading session.

New this month

HeidiIt’s not scheduled in the core, but we read HeidiHeidi (Great Illustrated Classics) by Johanna Spyri, abridged by Deidre S. Laiken this month. My kids were not all that impressed with it, and my daughter barely listened to it. I think they were just a bit too young to appreciate it. I thought they’d enjoy this abbreviated version that’s loaded with illustrations, but it wasn’t to be. And actually, I wasn’t all that impressed with the abridgment, or the illustrations. I tried playing the audio book for them, but that did not go over well – I’d like to keep trying that with him, to see if I can find some he’ll like. Clearly Heidi was not it!

Dolphin AdventureI already shared how we finished Dolphin Adventure, and my son really liked it. He’s excited to read the sequel.

We’ve also just started My Father’s DragonMy Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett and James Herriot’s Treasury for ChildrenJames Herriot's Treasury for Children: Warm and Joyful Tales by the Author of All Creatures Great and Small, illustrated by Ruth Brown and Peter Barrett. So far I’m not sure how successful My Father’s Dragon will be for them (maybe they need another couple of chapters to get into the story?), but they’ve liked the James Herriot book. I love the illustrations in Herriot’s book – they add a lot to very familiar stories, and they’re simply beautiful. It’d make for a fabulous gift book!


The Story for ChildrenMy son really disliked the assigned Egermeier’s Bible Story BookEgermeier's Bible Story Book and I feel like we gave it a good try. Instead, I’m substituting The Story for ChildrenThe Story for Children, a Storybook Bible, which we already owned. The illustrations are fabulous, and he likes listening to it (and he follows along with what I’m reading much better than he did with Egermeier’s.) Plus I like reading this one more too.


Math Mammoth 1A We’re still working in Math Mammoth 1A, and we’re right in the middle of Chapter 2, on subtraction. I’m not sure he really gets subtraction yet – somedays he seems to, and once in awhile it’s like he’s never heard of it, and has no idea what I’m talking about. We use the abacus and Legos a lot at those times. ๐Ÿ™‚


WeatherWe finished reading WeatherWeather (Usborne Beginners, Level 2) in about two days, because my son wanted to read more and more and more of it. He loves those books! These are easy enough where he can read much of it himself, and we often took turns reading the page.

We are quite behind on the experiments, and even on watching the DVD of the experiments. Hopefully daddy can get things set up so we can watch it soon on the TV (we’ve got a weird setup and I have passed on learning how to do it myself.)

Language Arts

ShipwreckLast month, I said my son had just reached the halfway point of All About Reading Level 3. Well, he then went on a tear and finished the final 18 lessons in a week and a half – he was super motivated! We’ve just received Level 4 and started it this week. I cannot say enough how much we love this program. Full post about Level 3 coming eventually. ๐Ÿ™‚

Since he was doing so much phonics work ever day with reading, I didn’t start spelling like I’d originally planned. We’ll start that next week.

Handwriting is the big thing that I’m struggling with. How picky should I be as far as his letter formation? Am I expecting too much from him? Am I not expecting enough?


He received his senior orange belt in taekwondo last month, and he might even be ready to test for his green belt next month.

The baseball season is about halfway over, and is having lots of fun playing. And lots of fun getting snacks after every game and then playing on the playground next to the ball fields. His sister is enjoying getting to play on the playground during his games, so it’s been a success for everyone. ๐Ÿ™‚

Swimming lessons have begun again – they’re both scheduled for about 10 weeks of instruction. I’m hoping they can get to be semi-independent to independent swimmers by the end of that. Wishful thinking? Perhaps; I have no real idea what is reasonable to expect at those ages, with once a week lessons.

Art & Music

Harmony Fine Arts Grade 1 We’re still doing Harmony Arts Grade 1 plan – and I still really like it. I’m not exactly consistent on doing it every week, but I’m doing more than I did last year when I had no plan.

I especially like that it’s easy to include his sister with it as well. She adores art and is a much more enthusiastic participant in this program than he is! So far everything we’ve done has been easy enough to adapt to whatever level of skill or interest fits. I’ve even joined in with them occasionally – those art supplies are lots of fun to use!


Our homeschool group has wrapped up for the summer, and I’m still thinking about what I want to do for next fall. Part of me wants to just do my own thing, or try to coordinate some easy things with some of my homeschooling friends, but then I wonder how complicated that would be, and do I have the time/energy to try and do that? Maybe I should first gauge interest in it.

Looking Ahead

I have wanted to slow down our progress through Core A, but so far I’m not being all that successful at it. G really loves it and generally wants more in a day, not less. This summer may make it easier to take our time, as we’ll have lots of extra things going on and taking up our usual school hours. Taekwondo camp, VBS, and a planned visit from Grandma will all be weeks when I’m not planning on doing any school. Add in lots of time playing outside with the neighbors (hopefully) and we may have other shorter school days ahead.

Next month’s update should be the real test: do I have much to report? Have we done anything? Have we done lots, proving that this core just will not be slowed down, despite my initial plans?

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  1. If you want to slow it down but don’t want to lighten up on reading (that’s a problem we have too) you can always supplement with other things. There are TONS of great resources for history and literature for most time periods, so you could just keep up whatever pace Sonlight suggests but add in more in-depth reading (like about Vikings or whatever). Ambleside Online is a good resource for that, as is the book All Through the Ages (I just remembered I was supposed to loan that to you–sorry!) and Memoria Press just put out a new book listing titles grouped by reading level and time period/topic as well. I haven’t looked at it, but added it to my Amazon wish list–it’s called The Classical Reader.

    • I’ve got a huge list of other ideas to add to it as needed – general read-alouds, and books to coordinate with the history being discussed. Right now though, G specifically wants to read that encyclopedia, and I haven’t found another substitute for it, so we’ll just end up having days where he’s disappointed.

      I may also start alternating history and science days more intentionally, or at least the days that use the encyclopedia.

      Right now we’ve got so much going on the next 6 weeks I don’t think it’ll be a problem – we may only do read-alouds and math.

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