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Homeschool Planning Lower Elementary

Last year I homeschooled a first grader, kept a pre-schooler busy, and worked around a baby. This year’s homeschool planning includes teaching two lower elementary children in second grade and kindergarten while keeping a toddler busy. It feels like a big leap jumping from one official student to two!

Little House on the Prairie is on in our living room while I type this out. My husband is chuckling at the jokes between Charles and Caroline (if you know, you know) as our boys play with trains, occasionally glancing at the television. My life looks nothing like I ever imagined it would when I was a child. I’ve been blessed with the option to spend almost every waking moment shaping how my children experience their first tastes of the world. I want those first tastes to be filled with the love and goodness of God, timeless stories from engaging literature, and the peace and safety to always know where to call home.

Charlotte Mason Philosophy

One of the ways this dream is being cultivated is by homeschooling using the Charlotte Mason method. I won’t go into details here about this method or why we chose it. However, I include this so that you can look into it as well as other philosophies like Montessori, Waldorf, Classical, and so on. It’s important to research these things before making plans to homeschool. The right thing for me might not be the same for you. Do not just take the ideas I give you here and run with them. Figure out how you want this to look for you, and research.

Knowing which philosophy you align most with allows you to move forward on curriculum choices, etc. All of the resources in this post are heavily influenced by the Charlotte Mason philosophy and heavily influenced by the incredible (and unbelievably free) curriculum provided by Ambleside Online.

The Resources I’m Using for Homeschool Planning for Lower Elementary Children

When I set out to write this, I pictured that list being much longer. It is surprising to me that it’s such a simple list! Planning it all out makes it appear to be much more complex. Our main curriculum from Ambleside covers the bulk of our study subjects, including: bible, history and tales, natural history, literature, poetry, nature study, artist study, composer study, and folksongs. They cover much more, but for simplicity’s sake I am utilizing More Than Words for scripture memorization (recitation), our hymns, some copywork and some artist studies.

So Much to Choose From

I get it, trying to figure all of this out can be so overwhelming. I remember wondering how I was ever going to decide on anything when it came to choosing our education resources for homeschooling. Homeschool planning for lower elementary doesn’t have to be complicated. My biggest suggestion to making this work for you and your family if you’re feeling the nudge to homeschool is to make sure there is order and peace in the rest of your home. Doing things like creating a custom and simple meal plan can take so much stress off your plate.

Get with friends you admire who are already homeschooling. Ask them if you can take them for coffee (and buy theirs, please) to ask questions about how they manage to accomplish it. Bring a notebook and soak all of the wisdom in they have to offer. I’ve learned so many valuable things just by listening to experienced homeschool moms share their hearts and experiences.

homeschool planning lower elementary

Final Thoughts on Homeschool Planning Lower Elementary Children

Hear me when I say this: don’t rush the precious time of your littles being “little.” One thing I adore about Charlotte Mason’s philosophy is suggesting that kid’s don’t begin formal education until age seven. Y’all, please heavily consider this. Spend those first six formative years exploring nature with your babies and reading rich literature filled stories. Cultivate a love for learning through those stories and see the world through their little eyes. Build a library by visiting thrift stores, asking for specific ones for gifts from family members, and keep a master list so you don’t end up with repeats!

My kindergartener will be five this September, and he has begged to “do school” with us so that is the only reason I’m even including him in the school portion of our days. He is included with much of it, but it’s on a very simple low level for him.

Exploring Nature with Children is the curriculum by Raising Little Shoots I used when I wanted to do something while my kids weren’t quite school aged. I still recommend it frequently as an all around great option that encourages being outside and reading rich literature. Plus, it’s super affordable. Really great option if you’re itching to do something before and during the official school years.

I hope this helps you with some fresh ideas as you plan your year, or future with your kiddos!

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First Grade Reading Book List

As we wrap up this year of school, looking back on our first grade reading book list gives me all the feels. Whether you homeschool or choose an alternative learning method for your family, I believe having these books available to read will only enrich your child’s education as well as your connection with them. Ambleside Online is the main source we rely on for the bulk of our curriculum. The book list is simply phenomenal. I often learn right alongside my seven year old many things I was never taught in public school. It is a lot of fun to go back and learn new things!

Charlotte Mason

While talking about our choice to homeschool, the main style we rely on often comes up in conversation. I find that not many people know what the “Charlotte Mason Philosophy” is. There are so many beautiful ways of teaching and learning that exist. You may have heard of Classical education, or perhaps Montessori and Waldorf. Unschooling seems to have also gained some traction, especially for large families. Charlotte Mason is the method we have aligned the most with. However, we also enjoy many aspects of multiple philosophies like the ones I’ve just mentioned.

Charlotte Mason…was a British educator and reformer in England at the turn of the twentieth century. She proposed to base the education of children upon a wide and liberal curriculum. She was inspired by the writings of the Bible, John Amos ComeniusMatthew Arnold and John Ruskin.


“We may not make character our conscious objective,” she wrote, but she believed that parents and teachers should “Provide a child with what he needs in the way of instruction, opportunity, and wholesome occupation, and his character will take care of itself: for normal children are persons of good will, with honest desires toward right thinking and right living. All we can do further is to help a child to get rid of some hindrance––a bad temper, for example––likely to spoil his life.”


Two key mottos taken from those principles are “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life” and “Education is the science of relations.” She believed that children were born persons and should be respected as such; they should also be taught the Way of the Will and the Way of Reason. Her motto for students was “I am, I can, I ought, I will.”


Ambleside Online

This first grade reading book list comes from the curriculum we utilize throughout the year called Ambleside Online. It’s a (free, and so amazing) Charlotte Mason based curriculum that relies heavily on learning through reading. It also facilitates spending loads of time outside. Not an easy task in the very humid south we currently reside in. (Typing this after just coming inside from trying my best to work in our garden in July in the middle of the afternoon…I don’t recommend that.) We may not get in the minimum six hours a day mid summer, but we do our best.

first grade reading

Living Books

Mason placed great emphasis on the reading of high-quality literature, and coined the phrase “living books” to denote those writings that “spark the imagination of the child through the subject matter.


Ambleside’s booklist consists of these books referenced in the quote above. “Living Books” are the books our home is filled with. High-quality literature is something I could have only dreamed of having more readily available and encouraged to dive into as a child. Some of these books are certainly tougher to read than your average picture book. If you start now, you can facilitate a love for beautiful literature that basic modern books pale to compare with. Kids are way more capable than I dared to believe at hearing stories told in various different ways from classic books and authors.

First Grade Reading Book List

Without further ado, here are the lists! All of the books in bold are the ones we did not get around to reading this year, or that we didn’t finish cover to cover per reading requirements.

Free Reads

  • Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  • King of the Golden River by John Ruskin
  • Peter Pan by James M. Barrie
  • Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
  • The Red Fairy Book by Andrew Lang
  • St. George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges
  • The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
  • Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Pocahontas by Ingri D’Aulaire

History and Tales

  • 50 Famous Stories Retold by James Baldwin
  • Our Island Story by H.E. Marshall
  • Trial and Triumph: Stories from Church History by Richard M. Hannula
  • Benjamin Franklin by Ingri D’Aulaire
  • George Washington by Ingri D’Aulaire
  • Buffalo Bill by Ingri D’Aulaire

Natural History

  • The Burgess Bird Book for Children by Thornton W. Burgess
  • Paddle to the Sea by Holling C. Holling
  • James Herriot Treasury for Children by James Herriot

Literature and Tales

  • Aesop’s Favorite Fables by Milo Winter
  • Parables from Nature by Margaret Gatty
  • Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling
  • The Blue Fairy Book by Andrew Lang
  • Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare for Children by E. Nesbit and Arthur Rackham


  • A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • When We Were Very Young (Winnie-the-Pooh) by A.A. Milne and Ernest H. Shepard
  • Now We Are Six (Winnie-the-Pooh) by A.A. Milne and Ernest H. Shepard
  • The Oxford Book of Children’s Verse by Iona and Peter Opie
first grade reading

First Grade Reading with Children

It’s not always the easiest to slow down enough to read out of a stack of books each day. However, I’ve found a lot of rest in cuddling up on the couch with at least one little man in this house for his first grade reading. Sometimes there’s a 4 year old nearby, giving his best at narrating like his big brother does. He often even points out things my first grader misses. Other times my year and a half old is climbing up in the middle of it. I know this season won’t always be, so I try to enjoy it, interruptions and all.

I hope this book list will help you on your next library trip, or adds to your home library if you decide to purchase them for yourself!