In this homeschool curriculum guide, I have gathered my favorite homeschooling books for grades 1-3. . These are the items that I have used and loved and go back to time after time. If you haven’t already read How to Choose a Homeschool Curriculum and Plan Your Homeschool Year in 10 Easy Steps, I recommend you bookmark this page and go back and check those out first.
But What About Kindergarten?
Okay, let’s get real here, friends. So much of kindergarten is about learning to stand in line, share, and generally acclimate to school. If you are homeschooling there is absolutely no reason (in my opinion) to do kindergarten. But what about kindy age kids who are dying to “do school”? Perfect, “do school” with them. If they are ready to learn, then teach them to read, to count, provide crayons and coloring books, and answers to their 7,456 daily questions.
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The Best Homeschool Curriculum Choices for Grades 1-3
This is the book I have learned to teach all of my kids to read. It is inexpensive, boring, and effective. The first time I sat down with Hezekiah to use this book (he was four years old) he whipped through the first TWENTY LESSONS!
This is all I have ever needed to teach my kids to read. I never made it entirely through the book, in fact. By about 70% through the book my kids were reading independently and we dropped the lessons.
As with most things, I used this in a way that worked for us. We never did the writing part. We played “say it fast” but other than that, we just went over the the letter sounds and the reading.
Yes, you can teach your child to read and it is likely easier than you imagine. Here is a more in-depth post on how I have taught my children to read.
Good handwriting is developed through plenty of practice and training little hand muscles. Practicing handwriting is one way to strengthen those muscles but another great way to develop those same fine motor skills is through drawing and coloring. I recommend keeping a few Dover coloring books on hand and getting some inset shapes that can be used for math and writing!
Wordly Wise $18
By far the best vocabulary books I have seen or used. The lessons are interesting and engaging, and your kids will learn a ton. Having a large vocabulary not only equates to higher IQ and test scores but gives your child the ability to communicate more effectively. A larger vocabulary also means your child will understand more when reading or listening to others. This, in turn, means more learning!
I cannot recommend these hilarious grammar books by Brian P. Cleary. What an amazingly fun way to teach your kids about parts of speech. There are a ton of them, so be sure and check them out on Amazon.
Homeschool Math Curriculum Grades 1-3
Life of Fred takes a very non-traditional approach to math. It is an engaging series of stories about five-year-old Fred who is a professor at Kittens University. All of my kids have loved these books.
Life of Fred books don’t have repetitive worksheets or problems. In that sense, it is not a full math curriculum. I love it because everything taught is taught in the context of why you would use math in any given situation. Something which is sorely lacking in most (all?) traditional math curriculums.
Mathematical Reasoning $38.99
I recommend for lower grades investing in the Life of Fred textbooks (or borrowing them, our local library has them) and using Mathematical Reasonsing along side it. Mathematical Reasoning curriculum is a series of workbooks that cover math for the elementary grades.
In addition, I recommend getting the following two games. Both are actually FUN and don’t seem “mathy”.
Number Chase $9.99
In Number Chase you are trying to guess the mystery number. It is sort of a mixture of Memory and Clue. It is fun and will have your kids learning about numbers and the relationships between them.
Loose Change $9.99
“Draw cards that each have a picture of a coin and how much it’s worth. Lay down a card on your turn and try to add the coin cards in play to equal exactly 1 dollar. The player with the most completed dollars at the end of the game wins!“
Begin Building a Solid Math Library
Begin building a math library that teaches your kids the real-world uses behind math. Choose great picture books early on that will inspire them to love and appreciate math, rather than hate it. There are so many good math storybooks out there now! Go through them, choose the best, and invest in a few of these. Or, better yet, use your local library.
Books That Teach Kids Math is a post that lists my favorite math based books.
Homeschool Science Curriculum Grades 1-3
Rather than use a curriculum at this age, we used books from the library. We read a ton and did experiments when the mood struck. We covered a huge variety of topics this way.
Keeping a Nature Journal is another great way to learn about biology, ecosystems, and lifecycles. We also used nature journals when we studied more specific topics as the kids got older (such as marine biology).
Why is the sky blue? Do sharks sleep? What do sloths eat? Why is it raining again….kids are a fount of non-stop sciences questions. Kill two birds with one stone. Find the answers to those questions and BOOM, science is done for the day!
History/Geography/Social Studies Homeschool Curriculum for Grades 1-3
Story of the World– this is honestly all you will need to use throughout grades 1-3. Volume one covers history from nomads up to the last Roman Emperor. These are written in a narrative style that both you and your kids will love. Story of the World also has an audiobook option.
Story of the World Activity Book– Definitely buy the activity book or the printable pages. My children would color the accompanying picture while I read the chapter out loud. Afterward, they would do the map work.
Supplement this with books from library that go along with the time period and events being studied. This will give your children a broad view of history and geography and they will be much more likely to remember it. Several of my children discovered a deep love of history through Story of the World.
Puzzles are another great way of having kids learn. GeoPuzzles are a fun way for the entire family to learn about Geography. You can’t help but learn as you are studying the pieces to find out where to place them.
Homeschool Schedule for Grades 1-3
Nevermind, ditch the schedule. Or the word schedule at least. I really, really, like to use the term routine rather than schedule. A schedule implies you need to start at 9:15 sharp…and you can easily fall behind. A routine is more like breakfast, then read aloud, then math, etc.
Homeschooling Routine for Grades 1-3
Read Aloud as a Group
When I was homeschooling ten kids, even my teens sat in during our read-aloud time. For us, this was often a few picture books we picked up from the library. Usually, they were ones related to what we were studying in Story of the World. Sometimes it was a chapter book, though we read more chapter books at night, before bed.
Story of the World Lesson
This became the backbone of our homeschool by accident. It covered history, geography, and social studies. It was simple to add in science (with books and experiments that related to that time in history).
Our Story of the World schedule went like this.
Day One read the first part of the chapter, answer questions orally, do map work.
Day Two read the second part of the chapter and answer questions orally.
Day Three– Do a project related to the chapter.
Days four and five we read more related projects (if we had time) or, if it was a busy week, we skipped Story of the World on those days.
Reading Lessons and Individual Work
After Story of the World, the kids would begin work on their own. This left me available to do reading lessons or help anyone who needed it.
First through thirde grade generally took less than two hours to complete.
Once all schoolwork was done, the kids had free time until lunch. Afternoons were often spent doing art, going outdoors, playing board games, etc.
The kids also had chores, helped with cooking, and gained so many lifeskills why being at home and living life.
Be sure and grab my FREE Homeschool Planner. I am also working on breaking down the Common Core standards into plain English for any parents who are concerned about “missing” something along the way. I will be releasing those one grade at a time.
First Grade Common Core Checklist is available here for free.
My First Grade Opinion Writing packet (which aligns with the Common Core standards) is available for $3.00.