Year in Review – English Language Arts Year 1

I thought that since school is coming to a close I would like to review what we covered in each subject this year, how we tackled it, and the materials used.  I might as well get the most expansive subject out of the way first.  So here we go with a review of this year’s English Language Arts. 

Last summer as I was planning out our year I felt so overwhelmed by this subject.  I wasn’t sure how to incorporate its many facets and was nervous that I would unintentionally omit something important in my quest for simplicity.  I searched and searched and researched!  Finally, almost at the point of giving up, thinking I must be the ONLY one in the world who thinks the way I do, and deciding I would have to pull together something on my own, I ran across a review of a relatively new program called “English Lessons Through Literature” (ELTL) by Kathy Jo DeVore.  Finally I had found a curriculum that “clicked” for me.  I think I was near tears of joy!  It was EXACTLY what I had envisioned doing with my girls.  (I have got to meet this woman someday to thank her in person!)  I ordered the book that includes Levels 1 and 2, and as I flipped through it, it was as if she had journeyed into my brain and put on paper what I had visualized.  These are simple lessons, gentle introductions to grammar and punctuation, totally doable stuff that I could have cobbled together myself.  But no cobbling was the beauty of it for me.  The work was done, and that meant a huge relief starting out on our first year of homeschooling. There are 108 lessons in each level which works out to 3 lessons per week for a 36 week school year which is what we did.  More on ELTL later.

Here is a recap of Boo’s year (age 6, turned 7 part way through the year):

We started out with a review of upper and lowercase manuscript letters. This is something she had learned in Kindergarten, but I knew it would be a good review for her as she still tends to write a few of her letters backwards.  I found these super cute alphabet handwriting practice pages by Rachelle at  

Reading lessons were something I felt a little lost in this year.  Boo was reading quite well at the end of Kindergarten, but because she had been attending public school, I hadn’t been the one to teach her so I felt unsure of what she had covered and where to go from there.  We used a free online phonics course called Progressive Phonics, working all the way up to their Advanced Book 6.   The books were fun.  She got a kick out of the funny stories.  She also read aloud to me each day from various easy readers and other books we would take home from the library.  Some that we particularly enjoyed were…

  • Jibber Jabber by Mary Manz Simon
  • The Ant and the Grasshopper (an Usborne first reader)
  • Reading – Literature: The Primer and Reading – Literature: First Reader by Harriette Taylor Treadwell
  • Sammy the Seal by Syd Hoff
  • One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish and The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
  • A Fly Went By by Mike McClintock
  • Put Me in the Zoo by Robert Lopshire
  • Fox All Week by Edward Marshall
  • Frog and Toad are Friends, Grasshopper on the Road, Owl at Home, Uncle Elephant, and Days with Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel
  • Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik
  • There Is a Carrot in My Ear by Alvin Schwartz
  • How Puppies Grow by Millicent E. Selsam 
  • a few books in the Henry and Mudge series by Cynthia Rylant
  • Balto (the Bravest Dog Ever) by Natalie Standiford
  • Oscar Otter by Nathaniel Benchley
  • stories from the Young Readers Bible by Bonnie Bruno and Carol Reinsma (she reads this one a lot on her own at bedtime too)
  • A huge step for Boo part way through the year was starting to read the stories from 50 Famous Stories by James Baldwin.  I had been reading them aloud to her, but then we started taking turns reading paragraphs, and now she is reading the stories aloud to me (with some help, of course, with larger, unfamiliar words).  I am so proud of her, venturing into books without illustrations!

Boo did Level 1 of English Lessons Through Literature (ELTL) this year.  Each lesson included a poem, an Aesop’s fable, and a chapter from a literature selection (all books in the public domain).  There were suggested copy work portions (including sentences from the literature, poems, maxims, and verses of scripture).  Boo loved that the (optional) copy work book (which I purchased as a pdf download) had lots of room each day for her artwork!   

I love to see her comprehension of the story come out in the details of her drawings.

 Narration exercises were scheduled once every two weeks, starting with picture narration at the beginning of the year where she would listen to me read a fable and then draw a picture to use in telling the story back to me.  Like this… As the year progressed, we graduated to oral narration where I would copy and read it back to her.  Like this (that’s my messy printing on the side, quickly copying word for word what she is saying)…

   Level 1 also covered proper punctuation, capitalization, contractions, the days of the week, months of the year, seasons, and so on.  

Here are the books on the literature list for Level 1 that I read aloud to Boo this year:

  • 20 Beatrix Potter stories
  • Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling
  • Five Children and It by Edith Nesbit
  • The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
  • Pinocchio by C. Collodi 
  • seven stories from The Orange Fairy Book by Andrew Lang
  • The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
  • Five Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sidney

I think that about sums up this subject for my first grader.  It’s been a year of firsts, but overall I think it went quite smoothly.  It was a lot of reading (considering all the books we are reading for other subjects too).  I was very thankful that my third grader (C-Bear) is such an advanced reader and was able to handle her literature selections on her own without me having to read the chapters aloud to her!  That would have been too much, and I probably would have had to find a way to consolidate the two girls into one literature list while covering different levels of grammar in their exercises.  Anyway, more on that another day when I tackle C-Bear’s Year in Review – English Language Arts Year 3!

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