Level 1A Online Syllabus

General Instructions

+ Subjects considered to be essential at this level. Other subjects should be included if at all possible to give a broad Charlotte Mason style education.

(N) Books/subjects intended for narration.

* Key curriculum – books considered to be key parts of the curriculum are shown in bold type and marked with an asterisk.

Highly Recommended materials/subjects are shown in bold. These should be included if possible, but are not essential.

Optional extras – optional books and suggestions are shown in italics

Selections listed in bright blue are alternatives for home educators in the UK

History Cycle for Australian students [provided by Ruth Marshall]

At this level most lessons should last around 20 minutes. 


(1)  New Testament (Weekly, except during Advent)

(N) * A Life of Our Lord for Children by Marigold Hunt. We recommend the  2003 Sophia Institute Press® edition which contains new illustrations and minor editorial revisions to the original text.
Approximately three pages to be read (aloud in the first year, independently if possible in the second year) and narrated for each lesson. The schedule is lighter in the second terms to allow a break for Advent.

Year 1:A Life of Our Lord for Children

      • Term 1: pp. 3-35
      • Term 2: pp. 35-49
      • Term 3: pp. 49-79

Year 2: * A Life of Our Lord for Children

      • Term 1: pp. 81-124
      • Term 2: pp. 125-150
      • Term 3: pp. 153-188

Recommended Reference Materials:
OSV Catholic Encyclopedia for Children,
for background information, maps and pictures of houses, clothing, every day items and locations.

(2) Catechism (Weekly)

(N) * Faith and Life Series Read, narrate and discuss one lesson each week.

Year 1: Jesus Our Life, Faith and Life 2

      • Term 1: Lessons 1 to 11
      • Term 2: Lessons 12 to 22
      • Term 3: Lessons 23 to 34

Year 2 : * Our Life with Jesus, Faith and Life 3

      • Term 1: Lessons 1 to 9
      • Term 2: Lessons 10 to 20
      • Term 3: Lessons 21 to 30

Optional Extras: Faith and Life Activity Books 2 and 3 – for children who like workbooks

UK: Abbreviated Catechism with Explanations by Canon F. Drinkwateruses penny catechism, which has simpler and clearer language than the catechism questions in Faith and Life;
UK: 250 Catechism Stories by Canon F. Drinkwater

(3) Saints (twice weekly, once for UK alternatives)

(N) * A Catholic Child’s Illustrated Lives of the Saints by L.E. McCullough
(N) * Saints for Young Readers for Everyday, Volume 1 and Volume 2 by Susan Helen Wallace

Read and narrate the saint of the day twice a week.

UK Alternatives:

(N) The Lion Treasury of Saints by David Self. Note: From an Anglican publisher, but almost all the saints covered are Catholic. Note that the section on Mary does not give the full Catholic perspective.
(N) * The Young People’s Book of Saints by Hugh Ross Williamson.  Read and narrate one saint each week.

(4) Advent (Three times weekly)

* The Way To Bethlehem by Inos Biffi
* The Life of Mary by Inos Biffi

(5) Lent (Twice weekly) One story to be read each lesson. Not for narration.

Year 1: * Catholic Tales for Boys and Girls by Caryll Houselander

Year 2: * More Catholic Tales for Boys and Girls by Caryll Houselander

(6) Easter (Twice weekly)

(N) Year 1: * The Way of the Cross: A Story of Padre Pio by Claire Jordan Mohan

(N) Year 2: * The Young Life of St. Faustina by Claire Jordan Mohan



(1) Work through any math program of your choice at a pace appropriate for your child. Short daily lessons lasting 20 minutes (including drill) are recommended.

(2) Five minutes of daily drill in math(s) facts.

Further Resources:

Basic Facts Worksheet Factory – free downloadable software for creating worksheets to practice basic arithmetic facts.

You might like to vary your week by making Friday a fun maths day, doing activities and mathematical reading instead of your usual maths scheme.

Recommended Resources:
G Is for Googol: A Math Alphabet Book by David Schwarz


(1) Reading (Daily)

Continue using the reading program of your choice. Daily reading practice

Year 2: Books set for religion, history and geography to be read independently or read aloud by the child. When making the transition to independent reading “buddy reading”, alternating paragraphs or pages between parent (or older sibling) and child can be helpful.

(2) Writing (10 minutes daily)

(a) Handwriting
 Continue with handwriting scheme of your choice. Schemes we can recommend personally are D’nelian cursive and Getty-Dubay Italic

(b) Written Narration
Depending on your child’s writing ability, you may want to start making the transition to written narration in the second year of Level 1A. If so, then start with shorter, simpler narrations.  Saints for Every Day for Young Readers may be a good choice for this.

(c) Copywork and Studied Dictation
Short selections taken from the literature, history and religion selections, or from * The Harp and Laurel Wreath by Laura Berquist. The Faith and Life books contain a number of Bible quotations suitable for copywork.

Optional Extra: The Child on His Knees by Mary Dixon Thayer –short, interesting but simple poems and prayers

Suggested Activity: Copy two or three lines of a prayer or poem daily. When the whole thing is done illustrate it, decorate it, cover it with contact paper and use it as a placemat.

(3) Grammar / English Language (Three times weekly)

* Primary Language Lessons (PLL) by Emma Serl
We recommend the Hillside Education edition of PLL which retains the charm and grace of the original with some additions: color pictures, larger page size, updated poems, and a variety of new lessons. Page numbers reflect the Hillside edition.
Hillside Education has also made the Primary Language Lessons Answer Key and Teacher Guide available for download.

Year 1:

      • Term 1: Lessons 1-27, pp. 1-28
      • Term 2: Lessons 28-55, pp. 29-53
      • Term 3: Lessons 56-82, pp. 53-75

Year 2:

      • Term 1: Lessons 83-108, pp. 75-95
      • Term 2: Lessons 109-136, pp. 95-115
      • Term 3: Lessons 137-164, pp. 116-138

UK Alternative

Year 1: Grammar Skills 1 or 2 (Learners Publishing, Singapore)

Year 2: Grammar Skills 2 or 3(Learners Publishing, Singapore)

Note: These books use British English and spellings. Singapore schools start using this series at age 6. As the series provides considerably more grammar coverage than would be usual in British schools, you may prefer to start at age 7. You can see samples here to decide which book would be the best fit for your child.


(1) Tales (Twice Weekly)

(N) * Classic Myths to Read Aloud by William F.Russell

Year 1:

      • Listening Level 1 (22 stories)

Year 2:

      • Listening Level 2 (17 stories)

(N) Stories taken from books of your choice from the following list:

(2) Classic Children’s Literature (ad.lib.)

Choose at least one book each term from the selection to read aloud. Not for narration, just read and enjoy!

(3) Poetry  (weekly)

* The Harp and Laurel Wreath by Laura Berquist.


(twice weekly; additional book ad.lib.)

Continue with a three-year course in the history of your own nation. If your child has not done Level 1B then start with Year 1 of this course. Otherwise, continue with Years 2 and 3.

Option 1- Introduction to American History (Twice weekly)

(N) This Country of Ours by H.E. Marshall (Notes on This Country of Ours)

(N) The Catholic Faith Comes to the Americas ( History 3 For Young Catholics)  by Illeen Reninger

Recommended additional book each term, to be read aloud at your own pace. See additional schedule and suggestions for further reading**.

Optional Extra: Everything You Need to Know About American History Homework Charts, maps, timelines, and short summaries of important facts about American history.

Option 2: Introduction to British History

(N) * Our Island Story by H.E.Marshall Notes on Our Island Story)

(N)Our Lady’s Dowry by Kathryn Faulkner. (In preparation. Chapters are being made available to Mater Amabilis users through the Teacher Training Forum as they are written.)

Recommended additional book each term, to be read aloud at your own pace.

See additional schedule, suggestions for further reading and British History Reading Plans.

Option 3: History Cycle for Australian Students

See Australian history outline. Two year study of British history recommended for this Level.

+ ANCIENT HISTORY(twice weekly, during Ordinary time only)

Year 1: Bible History

(N) * New Catholic Picture Bible by Rev. Laurence G. Lovasik

Read aloud and narrate Lovasik’s New Catholic Picture Bible, Part One, the Old Testament. (43 lessons)

  • Term 1: Introduction to Ch. 12 (Introduction to The Burning Bush)
  • Term 2: Ch. 13 to 27 (The Plagues of Egypt to David and Goliath)
  • Term 3: Ch. 28 to 43 (David Loves Saul to The Return to Jerusalem)

Recommended Reference Materials:

Ancient Israel Fold-Out Timeline
The Ancient World of the Bible by Malcolm Day

UK Alternative: Great Events of Bible Times: Stories and History from the Old Testament by Malcolm Day
This book supplies a broad range of background material, including pictures of everyday objects, maps, and reconstructions.

Year 2: Ancient Egypt

(N) *The Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt by Elizabeth Payne (Landmark Book).

Read aloud and narrate according to the schedule (40 lessons).

Recommended Reference Materials:

Ancient Egypt Timeline
The Usborne Encyclopedia of the Ancient World

Optional Extras:

Pharaohs and Pyramids (Time Traveler Series)
The Orchard Book of Egyptian Gods and Pharaohs by Robert Swindells. Further reading according to interest -a booklist is included at the end of the schedule.

+ GEOGRAPHY AND EARTH STUDIES(three times weekly, plus map work)

Each term you should cover 36 lessons and also spend a short time each week on map study. How you want to schedule these lessons is up to you: you could take one lesson from each section each week, or you may prefer to work in blocks of lessons from one section at a time. Please read our introduction to geography in a Charlotte Mason education.

Recommended Reference Material
Atlas suitable for the child to use independently.

For Parents: Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding: A Science Curriculum for K-8 and Older Beginning Science Learners, 2nd Ed. Vol. I, Grades K-2 by Bernard J. Nebel, Ph.D.

Map Work
Spend a short time each week locating places mentioned in reading for other subjects. You will also be focusing particularly on the map of Europe in the 1st Year and the map of Asia in the 2nd Year.

Year 1: [Themes: Europe; Maps and Plans; Weather]

(1) Peoples and Places [Europe] (12 lessons each term)

Choose one book each term from the list below to read aloud (not for narration) over the course of a term. Before each lesson, spend five minutes studying the map of the region. Aim to be able to quickly name and locate countries, capital and other major cities, important rivers and mountain ranges.

Note: We have not been able to find suitable literary non-fiction books for this Level, so have had to rely on fiction set in European locations.

(2) Maps and Plans (36 lessons)

* Maps and Mapping by Barbara Taylor (also part of  The Earth:The Geography of Our World by Barbara Taylor)

(3) Weather (36 lessons)

* Weather and Climate by Barbara Taylor (also part of  The Earth:The Geography of Our World by Barbara Taylor)

Schedule of lessons, including practical and outdoor activities

Year 2 [Themes: Asia; Extreme Environments; Mountains and Volcanoes]

(1) Peoples and Places [Asia] (12 lessons each term)

Choose one book each term from the list below to read (or read aloud) over the course of a term. Before each lesson, spend five minutes studying the map of the region. Aim to be able to quickly name and locate countries, capital and other major cities, important rivers and mountain ranges.

(2) Earth Studies – Extreme Environments (36 lessons)

Most children should be able to read these books independently. Read and narrate the main text for each chapter, then explore the photographs, captions and supplementary text after the narration.

Optional Extras:
Arctic and Antarctic (DK Eyewitness Guides) (Dorling Kindersley)
Race to the Pole by Meredith Hooper
Antarctic Journal: Four Months at the Bottom of the World by Jennifer Owings Dewey

(3) Earth Studies – Mountains and Volcanoes (36 lessons)

* Mountains and Volcanoes by Barbara Taylor (also part of  The Earth:The Geography of Our World by Barbara Taylor)

See schedule of lessons 

+ SCIENCE (twice weekly)

Science study at this level will focus on nature study in Year 1, and on a study of magnitude in Year 2.

Year 1: A year’s study of the natural world, concentrating on plants, birds and insects.

Key Resources

For Parents:
Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding: A Science Curriculum for K-8 and Older Beginning Science Learners, 2nd Ed. Vol. I, Grades K-2 by Bernard J. Nebel, Ph.D.

For the Children:

Plant Secrets by Emily Goodman
Science With Plants (Usborne Science Activities)
The Burgess Bird Book for Children by Thornton Burgess
UK Alternative: Wayland Book of Common British Birds: a Photographic Guide by Nick Williams
The Tarantula Scientist by Sy Montgomery
Home Science Adventures: Discovering Birds
Home Science Adventures: Discovering Insects

Schedule of lessons and activities

Year 2: This year’s study will help your child to get a sense of the order of the universe. Your child will learn to classify everything within creation by magnitude, and will set up a binder which will also be used in future years.

Key Resources

The Universe in My Hands by Mary Daly Note: You will require both the booklet and the set of dividers. We advise you to read through the booklet before starting the lessons with your child.
[UK: As the dividers are intended for American sized 3 ring binders, and there is no UK source for them, you may prefer to make your own set. They will not be as good as the real thing, but will save on postage and on the frustration of having dividers the wrong size for your file and paper!]
Home Science Adventures: Microscopic Explorations
Home Science Adventures: The Astronomy Adventure
Adventures With Atoms and Molecules: Chemistry Experiments for Young People (Adventures With Science, Book 1) by Robert Mebane and Thomas Rybolt

See schedule of lessons and activities

Recommended Resources:

Heaven and Earth : Unseen by the Naked Eye by Katherine Roucoux
OR Power of Ten: A Flipbook by Charles and Ray Eames 


(1) Take at least one nature walk each week.

(2) Keep a nature journal.

Recommended Resources:

Keeping a Nature Journal by Claire Walker Leslie and Charles E.Roth
Wild Days: Creating Discovery Journals by Karen Rackliffe

Optional Extra Reading:

Secrets of the Animal World by Eulalia Garcia (series)
Natural Partnerships: The Story of Symbiosis by Dorothy Shuttlesworth

See also: Notes on Nature Study 


Option 1 – Spanish

* Learn Spanish with Grace! The Catholic Approach to Learning Spanish by Miriam Alvarez Gallaher

Option 2 – French

* Skoldo French Book 1**

Year 1:

      • Term 1: pp.1-9
      • Term 2: pp.10-18
      • Term 3: pp.19-27

Year 2:

      • Term 1: pp.28-36
      • Term 2: pp.37-45
      • Term 3: pp.46-53

**Children need to be reading and writing fairly well to use Skoldo Book 1. If you think your child might not be ready for this you can start with the Elementary Book. The vocabulary covered is the same in both books, but Book 1 adds in conversation and begins simple French grammar. Children who have used the Elementary Book (either in Level 1B or Level 1A) are likely to be able to complete Book 1 in one year because of the overlap. We have scheduled the Skoldo books at a slow pace to allow time for extra French books and activities, and to prevent children being overburdened by the grammar element. 


Music Masters Set 1 (Bach, Mozart, Chopin, Schumann/Greig, Mendelssohn, Schubert).

Follow up each Music Masters CD by listening to complete works by the featured composer.
Note: Other Music Masters CDs can be substituted so that all children in a family can study the same composer.

Recommended Resource:
Masters of Classical Music (Box Set) – economical set of 10 CDs, each featuring works by a different composer. Ideal as follow up listening to the Music Masters CDs (includes Bach, Mozart, Chopin and Schubert). 


Year 1: Impressionists

Year 2: Post-Impressionists

See also: Notes on Picture Study.

Optional Extra:
A Child’s Book of Prayer in Art
by Sister Wendy Beckett 

ART (twice weekly)

The resources below provide ideas for a wide range of art projects.

Recommended Resources:

Discovering Great Artists by Mary Ann Kohl and Kim Solga -lots of art projects in the style of great artists. All projects are given a rating for both difficulty and the amount of preparation required.
Oxford First Book of Art by Gillian Wolfe – looks at many different aspects of art, with each double page spread having a different theme. For each theme there are pictures of various works of art, questions to help children focus on the pictures and a suggested art activity.
The Usborne Book of Art Skills by Fiona Watt – lots of simple but effective projects, using a variety of media.

[UK] Artists Workshop Series by Penny King and Clare Roundhill – pictures of different works of art and styles are used as the inspiration for art activities for children.

If you would prefer more formal art instruction I Can Do All Things from How Great Thou Art provides three years worth of lessons, covering drawing, coloring, painting and art study. 


(1) Singing

Learn two new songs and two new hymns of your choice each term.

Optional Resources:

Wee Sing America
The American Song Treasury: 100 Favorites

(2) Instrumental (Daily practice)

If you have a piano or keyboard available, either start or continue learning to play it. Two beginners’ piano programs that can be used independently are:
Beginning at the Piano books, by Alan Jemison (Catholic)
Bastien Piano Series.

Alternatively either continue or start learning to play the recorder. A good starting point is the The NEW Nine-Note Recorder Method: Easy Music for Beginners by Penny Gardner.

Optional Extras:

The Usborne Book of Easy Recorder Tunes
Easy Duets for Catholics: A Nine-Note Recorder Book by Penny Gardner
Easy Christmas Duets: A Nine-Note Recorder Book by Penny Gardner 


  • Help in house and yard (garden).
  • Work on learning a practical craft or skill of your choice. Ideas for this level could include simple sewing or knitting; clay modelling; making simple toys.

UK Resource: Opitec sells a wide range of reasonably priced craft kits, projects and hobby materials. 

*Purchasing resources through the affiliate links here will result in our receiving a commission that helps pay for this site. We greatly appreciate it.

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