Early Girlie Homeschool

1st Grade Prep

Back to School, Back to Basics.

I'm starting out with some Montessori basics - Geometric Forms.

Geometric blocks, nomenclature cards, and shape insets (to help with dexterity).

This will keep Earlie Girlie'shands busy, as she can hold the blocks in 3D form, move the cards, which give the written and symbol expression of the concept, and practice tracing and filling in shapes, which is what she needs the most work on for 1st grade tasks. Also, we can do some simple physics, learning about motion, pulls and pushes.

In art, it's fitting to study the founders of De Stijl and the Neo-plastism genre. Piet Mondrian (1872-1944), a Dutch painter famous for his De Stijl block-like patterned works in white, black, and primary colors.  Vilmos Huszár (1884–1960), a Hungarian painter and designer, was also a founder of De Stijl. His works featured the blend of two colors, so he would use blue, yellow, and green blocks on a white background, with black lines defining the space.  Neo-plastism, in which natural form and color is ignored, and pure abstraction is used to represent the subject.  The goal was to reduce everything to directional lines (form) and reduce things back to the most basic colors. Theo van Doesburg (1883-1931), was a Dutch artist who helped spread the De Stijl movement, and used typography, and designed houses for artists. His most famous contribution is his composition called The Cow, which shows various drawings and how the form is broken down to abstraction. (Someone should benefit from the years I spent in Art History classes.)

In music, we are going to review some basic Music Theory, such as piano (soft), pp (very soft), forte or f (loud), and ff (very loud), as well as crescendo (increasing volume) and decrescendo (decreasing volume). This is important not only in playing an instrument, but also in vocal training. Children often have trouble regulating the volume of their voices. Games surrounding this concept are a great way to practice. We have flashcards, a conductor's baton, and instruments to use for these lessons.

For PA History, we will study Andrew Mellon (1855-1937) and (brother) Richard Mellon's philanthropic work. They financed Carnegie Mellon University, the land on which the University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning and Heinz Chapel still rest on, and established the National Gallery of Art. (I'm going to skip over all of the taxes and feud with President Franklin Roosevelt.)

In Civics, we are to study rules and order, which is fitting for the beginning of school. I plan to have us create some "house rules" to post, as well as reviewing "school rules". I like some of the Montessori methods for teaching manners, such as how to politely ask for someone's attention, how to solve a dispute, and how to restore peace. 

I don't have a book list yet, but I'm going to start with Flat Stanley, which I found amusing as a child. We will make a Flat character to tag along for adventures throughout the year.

Picture Gallery: Heinz History Center (Jazz History) and Carnegie Museum of Natural History

And All That Jazz

Earlie Girlie is obsessed with all musical instruments. She is able to group them into families, and knows how to set up a band for an orchestra, jazz trio or quartet, bluegrass, electric rock, tribal beats, among various combinations. Linking history and music is easier than imagined. People have used music to teach and provide organization throughout history, whether it's to learn knitting patterns, sow fields, march in line, or learn the alphabet.

Learning about the people behind the music is intriguing. She is able to study this more in depth, not being limited to a 40-minute lesson. Of course, with the Internet, it's easy to figure out who sang that song, who was in that band, how did the band meet and form (relationships), what inspired them, and what was different about the way they communicated through music? Every artist ends up contributing to a culture in profound ways, whether it's repeating and reinventing historical musical styles, or bringing something new to the ears.

Music is universal yet idiosyncratic. Sometimes it only takes hearing a few notes, or a few lyrics before knowing who the musician is, what instruments are playing, and what decade the music is from.

Ballroom Dancing

"Dancing with the Stars" has been a great discovery for us. Reality television shares the ups and downs of learning new skills, and how people get along when scenes aren't scripted. Although the language is not the most child-friendly, it's language people use daily, and often in lyrics. I can't keep her in a bubble and censor the world. Artists often push boundaries, and dance is no exception. This particular season was the 10th anniversary, and the performances were spectacular. Now Earlie Girlie can identify styles of dance, and has tried out some of the steps.

Learning ballroom dancing requires physical coordination, and following directions. Your body memorizes how to do the standard steps, yet there is still freedom for self-expressive movements. Choreography is meant to tell a story through movements, without words, in a short timeframe. Music can often provide the words, but words are not necessary for communication in dance.

The story of Noah Galloway was powerful. During his tour of duty, he lost his arm and both legs. They showed a picture of him in the hospital with a tracheostomy, which Early Girlie recognized immediately - he had a trach, just like she did! It wasn't until half way through the season that she asked me, "Where is his other arm?" So we talked about injury, and how some people are born without limbs, or needing extra support (she also wore ankle-foot braces, which aren't the same as his prosthetic legs, but understandable to her). I explained that sometimes people have injuries that are so severe that only part of their limbs are able to stay. He danced his story with such grace and strength, and completely transformed the way everyone has viewed dance. 

Rumer Willis and Charlotte McKinney both revealed how they were bullied for most of their lives by the media as well as schoolmates for the way they looked. Both women are stunning, yet were both targets for derogatory comments and battled self-image and self-esteem issues because of this. When asked what she noticed about Rumer through this process, Demi Moore said, "watching her passion become greater than her fears." 

When I say that learning is everywhere, I mean everywhere. When we examine anything more closely, there are lessons to be learned. Music and dance aren't frivolous byproducts of our culture. They are keys to unlocking expression, learning about life, and relationships within our bodies as well as in relating to others. 

Educational Objectives Grade 1

English Language Arts:

  1. Foundational Skills – PA State Standards.

  2. Phonics – PA State Standards.

  3. Spelling – PA State Standards.

  4. Build vocabulary.

  5. Listen to stories and answer questions to show comprehension.

  6. Demonstrate ability to research a subject of interest and cross reference.

  7. Relate text and illustrations.

  8. Create written and illustrative work, with help.

  9. Work on expressive and receptive spoken language skills.

  10. Utilize library resources.

  11. Research at least one author and illustrator's process.

  12. Learn to print the alphabet correctly. (IEP goal)


  1. Use mathematical concepts in free play, using various materials.

  2. Use measurement in cooking and other practical situations.

  3. Counting and Cardinality (100-200).

  4. Study quantities. Count to tell the number of objects and answer “how many?”

  5. Compare numbers as more than, less than, or equal amounts.

  6. Addition and Subtraction within 10.

  7. Geometry: distinguish two- and three-dimensional (flat/solid) objects.

  8. Fractions: identify halves and quarters.

  9. Lengths in order of shortest to tallest.

  10. Physics: Study motion (push/pull).

Geography PA State Standards:

  1. Increase knowledge of U.S. States.

  2. Study of maps.

  3. Describe the location of familiar places.

  4. Express an awareness for other countries.

  5. Identify various climates and habitats.

Science Objectives: 

Increase scientific knowledge through observation, experimentation, and data collection.

Identify scientists who have contributed to areas of study.

1. Botany: Types of plants. Identifying various fruits, vegetables, edible herbs, flowers, and plants and where they grow. Gardening basics.

2. Earth & Atmosphere: Distinguish between types of soil (State Standard). Identify bodies of fresh and salt water. Identify various types of precipitation. Identify seasons and impact on living things.

3. Space: Utilize NASA website to explore a variety of information about astronomers, planets, stars, and astronautics. Observe the natural sky and photography of our planet, sun, moon, and outer space.

4. Chemistry and Physics: Recognize that everything is made of matter. Distinguish properties of matter (solid, liquid, gas). Identify how heating, melting, cooling, may cause changes in properties of matter. Discover gravity and how objects move through space through force and motion (push, pull). Explore chemistry and physics through adult-lead experiments and field trips.

5. Energy & Ecology: Sunlight and electricity. Energy is needed for all organisms to stay alive and grow. Study renewable and nonrenewable resources. Waste disposal and recycling processes.

6. Information Technology: Use touch screen, trackpad and keyboard devices to research areas of interest, play educational games, use applications (apps). Identify basic components of a computer and internet source: hard drive, RAM, servers, routers. Distinguish software from hardware.

U.S. and PA History:

  1. Study calendar time (days, weeks, months, years).

  2. Explore local historical sites.

  3. Examine photographs of documents, artifacts, and places unique to Pennsylvania.

  4. Identify different celebrations of different cultures from around the world.

  5. Demonstrate an understanding of conflict and cooperation.

  6. Identify important people in local and national history.

Civics PA State Standards:

  1. Understanding purpose, need, and respect for rules.

  2. Identify significant American holidays and their symbols.

  3. Identify a problem and provide possible solutions.

  4. Identify roles of community helpers.

  5. Describe and utilize principles of equality.

  6. Economics Scarcity & Choice: wants, needs, choices based on personal interest.

  7. Economics Materials & Resources: local business services and products; identifying currency.

Safety Education:

  1. Discuss fire prevention, poison control, and responding to injuries and emergencies.

  2. Identify what is needed during a respiratory attack (chest percussion, coughing, inhaler, clearing of airway, supplemental oxygen).

  3. Identify proper wound care for blood disorder.

  4. Identify what to do if separated in public and when not to engage with strangers.

  5. How to safely approach animals, and when not to.

  6. Practice safety drills.

Health and Physiology:

  1. Student will strive to meet State Standards.

  2. Identify food groups.

  3. Identify food allergies, intolerances, and reactions.

  4. Learn about the digestive system and immune system.

  5. Beginning cooking and baking, with adult supervision only.

  6. Experience a variety of regional cuisines.

  7. Understand basic human physiology: bones, muscles, joints.

Physical Education:

  1. Take time for daily movement and play.

  2. Engage in three general types of physical exercise: flexibility, aerobic and anaerobic.

  3. Participate in gymnastics program to meet physical therapy goals.

  4. Explore various systems of exercise, including yoga, dance, games, and gross motor play.

  5. Increase physical skills in each area: cardio/respiratory, endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance and accuracy.

  6. Identify various sports such as football, hockey, tennis, and baseball.

  7. Select one sport to learn the rules of a game, as well as techniques to play.

Performing Arts & Visual Arts:

  1. Attend performances, galleries, online exhibits, museums, and the like.

  2. Develop aesthetic response and awareness as a viewer.

  3. Improvise vocal and instrumental music; dance and theatrical works at home.

  4. Participate in enrichment activities or workshops.

  5. Recognize and use fundamental vocabulary within each of the art forms.

  6. Learn proper care and handling of instruments, materials, equipment.

  7. Learn about famous and local artists and their works.


  1. Learn to sing with proper posture, breathing and air support, vocal registration, vocal resonance, tonality (pitch), rhythm, and vibrato.

  2. Understand and demonstrate a musical scale (octave) vocally and on a keyboard instrument.

  3. Be able to distinguish genres of: Classical, Jazz, Folk, Country, Pop (Kindergarten). Swing, Opera, Theatrical, Rap.

  4. Identify individual instruments and instrument families.

  5. Practice percussion instruments (hand and stick drums, cymbals, wood blocks, bells, xylophone)

  6. Research music history and explore musical instruments based on student interest.

  7. Beginning Music Theory: Octave and solfège (do-re-mi-sol-fa-mi-re-do).


  1. Identify dance as a way to tell a story nonverbally; as a form of emotional expression, social interaction, physical exercise, or ceremonial performance.

  2. Explore dance genres, choreography, form, improvisation and styles.


  1. Understand elements of Theatre: scenes; script/text; set design; actors, directors.

  2. Become familiar with theatrical works.

  3. Rehearse introductions, segues, and closing of performances.

Visual Arts and Crafts:

  1. Create and title original works and collaborative pieces.

  2. Recognize, identify and mix colors.

  3. Become familiar with, and utilize, art elements and principles of design.

  4. Demonstrate the ability to define objects, express emotions, illustrate an action, or relate an experience through creation of works in the arts.


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