How Is Planning Going For First Grade?

(Just a brief and gentle reminder, this post is copyrighted.  The posts on the Early Years and Early Grades seem the most likely to end up in other people’s work uncredited (and being sold for a profit!)   If you want to use something from this post in a public way, PLEASE link to it or credit my work in some way.  Please do not write a curriculum and use my ideas. Many of us with experience are becoming  reluctant to share due to this, and it hurts the homeschooling community. Food for thought).

I am so glad you asked!  It is going very, very slowly.  Between planning high school biology as a year long course, our ninth grade blocks, and our sixth grade blocks, which I did a lot of work on and re-did them all from scratch (this is  our second time through sixth grade)…well, first grade is coming along slowly, even though it is my third time going through it.  It is hard to get back into gnome and fairy land after planning high school, and also to juggle between high school, middle school, and first grade.  It is a situation unique to Waldorf homeschooling families and very different than a teacher in a Waldorf School setting. At any rate, this is what I have so far:

My block layout and a general structure for the day and week.  This essentially includes jumping rope, hand clapping or rhythmic games or skipping for more movement,  something from my favorite Movement for Childhood (see the article “Classroom Activities to Support Learning Readiness” on their website), our Opening Verse, a  seasonal Circle that is fairly paired down, some active math, and then our Review/Main Lesson Material.  Depending upon the day of the week, I have also  assigned my two helpers to do something with our first grader – usually this is cooking (August we will be working with peaches) or knitting ( I plan to use the story of Captain Tinker knitting a scarf for Jenny the Cat, for those of you who are familiar with the Cat Club books) , math and language arts games,  or painting, drawing, or modeling that  I want to do outside of our Main Lesson work.  I also always have several options for movement breaks on hand that I can pull out when we need a minute to get re-focused in our work.

A lovely 3 week block of Form Drawing.  I made up a container story involving a farmer, a little boy who loves to be up in the trees, a turtle who lays a golden egg, a giant,   and a journey to a kingdom.  It is actually not a very complicated story, but it encompasses a lot of movement and  many line and curve forms, and also introduces counting  as the different characters go over things on their journey.  This should be a fun one to set up with little wooden figures, silks, river stones, and sand.

Our second block is also a three week block and will involve our qualities of numbers.  This block will include the same general structure I detailed above, but I will also introduce the pentatonic flute in this block with a story along with continuing many rhythmic activities .  For our actual  Main Lesson, I took the story, “Robert’s Harvest Loaf”  from the back of the book “All Year Round” and extended it and added more characters to make it into a story about the qualities of numbers 1-8.   After number 8, I am using individual stories for the numbers 9-12.  I am spending a lot of time in this block on developing rhythm in different ways, to really imprint that in the body as I feel this is a large key to learning mathematics in the early grades,  and in forming spacial relationships of these numbers in relation to the circle.  So we are using many active math techniques and games and a lot of bodily movement.  This will also be our time leading up to Michaelmas, so we have some seasonal preparations to do.  We will be cooking with apples this month and going apple picking, and tent camping as well.

I am sitting down today to write our third block, our Introduction to Letters.  For this block, I am envisioning a lot of fingerplays, and  fun with sounds and rhymes.  I plan to make a story off of  Dorothy Harrer’s story, “The Prince Who Could Not Read.”  I am envisioning expanding it ( a lot)  and weaving fairy tales into it to include the letters  B, C, D, F, G, H, J, K, L, M, N, P and W.  Our next block will cover the other letters and the vowels.

Our fourth block will be our second math block, and I am planning on introducing the four processes through bears.  Not gnomes, but bears. 🙂  Black bears live in our state and in fact  we had one in our neighborhood this summer.  Bears can  climb trees and swim, they can live in hollow trees or elsewhere and eat a variety of things that lend itself to math processes (berries, fruit, acorns, grasses, insects).  I think this will be a great block full of fun and being outside, along with more camping.  This block should write itself fairly quickly.

Our fifth block will be in December, and this will be a nature block and preparing for the holidays.  We will most likely do nature walks and hikes, crafts for the holiday and for winter, animal stories of the animals in our areas, and possibly look at making a calendar, which is suggested in the First Grade Christopherus Syllabus (I have a syllabus from 2005, so not sure if that has changed over the years!).

So that is what I have so far.

I would love to hear how your planning is coming along,



13 thoughts on “How Is Planning Going For First Grade?

  1. Carrie? I don’t want to be a Debby downer but the more I read about how awesome and creative your planning is, the less I feel up to doing it myself. I think, while lots of people homeschool, that you are uncommonly gifted. In any event, my oldest boy is 3.5 so my “planning” is just mapping out a fall & winter rhythm with various museum visits, story hours etc, and some sensory bin ideas and other activities. However, my bigger problem is thinking ahead to next year, his preK year…here in NYC, tours and applications start in the fall. I personally want to homeschool, but the whole Waldorf “look at the child in front of you” has gotten to me, because my son is a JOINER. He looks at any organized group of children (mostly preschool groups at the playground or park, with their orange vests on) so wistfully, it makes my heart break. I’m afraid of doing what’s right for ME (I love the idea of homeschooling!) and not for him (who would love school and thrive there). I know there’s a homeschooling community here…but I’m not sure it’d be enough. I’ll have to check it out in more detail. This is making me sad, to think of sending him to school for most of the day (not next year but kindergarten), yet I also hate the thought of holding him back from what might be the best environment for him/his personality. What to do….

    • Shira,
      If I can do this, anyone can! I am not that creative really, but I work hard and I find I have to sit a long time to have ideas come to me. Thank you for your thoughts. I know you can do this path if this is how it works out. I was thinking about what you said..and I think what it boils down to is finding a community. There has to be a ton of homeschoolers in NYC, I would find them. The groups in my area hold events for the “littles”. I bet you could connect with like-minded folks and give your child that sense of joining in (and for yourself too). I don’t feel like I need much of anyone at this point with homeschooling, but I remember how nice to was to have a community when we were starting out. I have not forgotten. Check out all avenues – there are usually unschooling groups, Classical groups, groups for field trips (down here Southeastern Homeschool Field Trips group has almost 4,000 families!), there may be groups associated with places of worship, with attachment parenting groups or other groups. Don’t be sad yet. Definitely do your homework and talk to mothers who are a few years ahead of you. That will help you decide if this is the path you really want to take ..or not. Not homeschooling is okay too! There are some wonderful schools out there. Especially in NYC. 🙂 I forget which borough you live in, but after all, a place with the oldest Steiner School in the US has to be good, right? 🙂
      You know I am from NY, and I love NYC. Keep investigating. I have a feeling it is all there but you have to search.
      Lots of love,

  2. My littlest is beyond first grade, but I just wanted to comment with disappointment on content theft and it makes me wonder about resources I use. I hope I am not paying for material written by someone not being credited, but being sold for profit by someone else. 😦

    • Nicola,
      As far as I know the major curriculum suppliers seem safe and A Waldorf Journey (Meredith Floyd-Preston), Waldorf Inspirations, seem safe. I haven’t heard complaints regarding those curriculums.

  3. First off, I’m so sorry about people copying your work/words/and ideas. Made me sad to read you are becoming reluctant to write because I have been reading your blog for 3 or so years and have been so inspired and encouraged. Often times coming at just the right time as a boost of enouragement for a mama of 4 young kids. Thanks for all the book recommendations over the years – I’ve been able to read a number of them and they’ve rally shaped the way I’ve parented my young children.

    Question.. I’m going to try and make this short – my oldest is seven and we are strongly considering him repeat first grade and homeschooling him (he’s had some delays in reading and writing). I wanted to homeschool him for Kindergarten and First, but we decided it wasn’t best for our fam with 3 other young children at home. I’m now out of the baby stage and I’m exploring all options in the area we live (we moved this summer). If I homeschool I will join a co-op where he goes to class one day a week. Your first grade planning sounds absolutely amazing. Would you be willing to share in more detail about your curriculum? I’d even be willing to pay for a more detailed outline or more info on how to teach the things you mentioned!

    I truly think you’re so gifted and fantastic! Please don’t stop writing!


    • Kiersten,
      You can always email me for free at and I am willing to help you make your own plan for your little guy. 🙂 I am sure it will be a magical year for him. First grade is so lovely and if he is 7, that is perfect. Also, if you would like to see some magical plans with lots of pictures, I recommend Jen’s Ancient Hearth blog. Have you seen that one? It is lovely.

    • Kiersten, I am not Carrie, but when my oldest (now 11) was in public school, we labored over whether to have her repeat. (She was in the very young group for her age, because of her birthday.) Long story short, we ultimately moved her to a Waldorf inspired school, did have her do first grade again, and then brought her home to homeschool. Those decisions were SO HARD but looking back, I don’t regret the choices we ended up making. They were a gift to her and to us. Good luck. You can do it a little at a time!

  4. Hi Carrie,

    I am also so sorry to hear of the curriculum theft. Your youngest is one year ahead of mine (both boys), and you have been such a guiding light for me these past two years, showing what lies just a little ahead so I know I can do it and that I want to do it. I have been working on my big piece of paper folded into twelve months (as you have suggested many times) and really thinking and researching for first grade. Well, more for the grades in general and how exactly I can expand my skills and knowledge this year to be ready/confident for the next. (My third child is due any day, so I have been thinking a lot on the future : )) I have a list of things I want to figure out (drawing, form drawing, the progression of learning math and language, etc.) and then I approach the internet, baffled and somewhat confused, looking for guiding resources on the subject. I have such a strong desire to bring form drawing, for example, to my child within a story that speaks to him specifically, but I am finding I need to buy/find resources to teach me how these things are taught before I can do that.

    I really wish I could just sit and watch more experienced teachers and mamas and chat and learn that way. Anyways, your back posts on first grade, learning progressions in general, what stories to bring to which age, have been indescribably helpful to me and I (quite honestly) would have given up on this path without them. Thank you so much!


    • Aw, thank you Jennifer.
      If you need help drop me a line at Happy to help. It is definitely easier now that it my third time through. I don’t know as I expanded too much outside the realm of curriculums and books the first time I went through, but I also couldn’t see where it all ended up and now having a high schooler I can definitely see where first grade and the early grades fits in the bigger scheme of things.
      You can do it! Keep it very simple and it will be magical just in that. First grade is a beautiful year!

  5. Carrie, I love your idea about bears! My son loved those Math Gnomes so much he was begging (and that is the right word, begging) for more stories every year! I had to be quite firm with him that there would be no more gnomes (I was over it! The creativity well had run dry!) but we did one last block at the start of 4th grade to interest him in long division. I think he would have loved bears even more!
    I’m so sorry your creative and intellectual property was taken. It’s so hard with the internet to stop that happening, it must be so frustrating! If you know who the culprit is could you write to them and ask them to credit you? I do hope you can find a way to get the recognition you deserve.

  6. For the first time in seven years, inspired by reading your posts I have actually planned out a whole year! My two children are very similar in age to your two youngest. So I have also been planning sixth grade which is getting there. I don’t have to report to anyone at all so I can do things how I want. To make my life easier I start the older child on a new grade in September (November birthday) and the younger child around Easter (May birthday) this means that I am only having to plan one grade at a time. My youngest child is part way through first grade and I will start planning second grade in early 2017.

    • Sustainablemum-
      I am so excited for you! That is wonderful. Sometimes I make incredible plans, and then throw them all out in the moment to meet the child in front of me, but there is absolutely no substitution for the hard work of planning and how that makes it possible to even do that!

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