This year I have two 3rd/4th graders. WOW! I can’t believe how quickly they have grown up and that I now have two kids about to be in their last year of elementary school! How did that happen?!
You might be wondering why I keep giving two grade levels for my kids. It’s simple. We’re homeschoolers. And part of the reason we homeschool our children is to tailor their learning to best fit their needs. Most of the time we start out finishing or reviewing a part of the previous year, so we pick up where we left off, finish or review subjects they are struggling with and then continue on.
In case you couldn’t tell by our choices for the kinder-first grader, we are a bit eclectic in our homeschooling. While I do have certain curriculum that we love and enjoy, I am not opposed to switching things up if it works for one child. I am also not opposed to trying different curriculum for different children.
That being said, this year we are starting out using the same curriculum for both our #2 and #3. So here are the choices we have decided to begin with this year.
We are continuing to use our favorite math curriculum, CTCMath, with our older middles. My son has improved so much since we switched to CTCMath a couple of years ago. He struggles with written work and doing even 20 problems was difficult for him to write it all out. However, since switching, he has gained a confidence I never thought I would see.
My daughter, on the other hand, is a math whiz. She is a full grade level above in math and could easily be more, but right now I am pacing her, because I’m not convinced she is ready for the concepts. However, we’ll see how this year goes and she may move ahead even faster, which of course, will present a problem with her slightly older brother. The competition is fierce, ya’ll!
We used a program that really projected our oldest middle into reading better than we ever expected. He turned 9 this past February and I think the combination of the curriculum and his maturity level is really what pushed him ahead and helped things click.
Even though we loved the program, it takes at least 45 minutes per child to complete. With a very busy toddler and a needy preemie, I knew we couldn’t possibly take 3 hours on just language arts alone. So, while we are using parts of the curriculum, we are changing things up just a bit.
Once again, we are using several printables from Crafty Classroom and I couldn’t be more thrilled with how our first two weeks have gone! We are reviewing their letter sounds and reading skills with the Phonics Mazes. We do a couple of pages a day to help them review some easy sight words.
After we complete the Phonics Mazes, we will move on to review some grammar in the Interactive Grammar Notebook. Then we will move on to the How to Write a Sentence Pack to brush up on those and eventually the How to Write a Paragraph pack. We haven’t done much in the way of literature, so will also be using the Fables & Fairy Tales Literacy Unit to start working on what I would call pre-book reports.
As I have mentioned many times, I am not crafty. Not in the least. You may be fooled by the printables I create here on the site, but seriously…I cannot draw, cut or sew a straight line to save my life. I do not enjoy crafts either. Glitter stresses me out. I can’t stand all the little bitty pieces of paper everywhere and I just want to crawl in a hole and die. Both of my girls love creating new things. They love coloring too. My boys are not so keen on it. So we are joining with the K-1 child and also doing some Draw & Write activity pages. Right now, that’s as far as I’ve gotten with them on art, but I am still searching and looking for more options as we complete these pages.
All three of my middle children complete a lesson in Daily Geography from Evan-Moor together. The older two middles can pretty much complete their pages without my help or assistance, which is nice because I am usually helping the younger one. However, I love that it slowly builds a map for them and teaches them directions, map keys, map scales and so much more!
We will also be using the USA State Activity Pack and USA Maze Pack, from Crafty Classroom. I love that these packs are simple and easy for them to work at their own level while we talk about each state.
I’m going to make a bit of a confession here. I don’t teach my kids spelling. I know…I’m a rebel. In fact, I don’t care if they’re good spellers, so long as they can read and write a coherent thought correctly. This day and age, they will likely be using computers to check their spelling errors, and the fact that we teach reading through phonics gives them enough to work from that I don’t stress over it.
What I am more concerned with is their vocabulary. I remember working in the Learning Center at college and reading papers with such shallow words and meanings. I want them to know and understand how to speak (and write) intelligently, so this year we are changing things up a bit and using the Daily Skill Building Vocabulary created by my good friend, Carrie from Homeschool Giveaways.
Ya’ll…I am totally impressed and in love with this curriculum! We are using Level 1 for 3-4 grade this year and so far the kids are enjoying learning new words. Each day the student is responsible for writing the definition of the assigned word (uh…handwriting). Then they are to write a sentence using the word (hello, grammar) and finally they are to find and write 3 synonyms and 3 antonyms for the word.
Being a good homeschool mom, I walked them through it the first couple of days, but now that they understand what they are doing they can complete the page all on their own. They do this 4-days a week and on day 5 they review the 4 words they learned by matching definitions and then challenging them to use not just one, but two of the words in a sentence.
I have already heard them using the words they’ve learned in conversation, which both thrills me and cracks me up. I am so excited to see how this curriculum plays out the rest of the year.
Typically we do not follow a strict Science curriculum in the elementary years. I think those years are for exploring and seeing the world God created. They are encouraged to ask questions and from there it might spur on a short unit study, some video watching or even just a quick trip to the library to find some answers or books on our most recent quest. That being said, ever since the solar eclipse last year, they have asked questions about the sun, the moon, our solar system and universe. So I thought it was time to find a fun curriculum with a unit study approach to help them start learning about the Solar System.
I am so excited about using Far Out: The Study of Our Solar System by The Multi Taskin’ Mom. We use the Color & Copywork Notebook to help the kids learn about the sun and each of the planets. As they work through those, we also work on the Reasearch Guide and I do throw in a few coloring pages just for fun. When they complete the daily copywork, they have to not only write it out, but also read it to me – so we’re covering several subjects there too. After it is completed and they have recited the fact for the day, they place it in their daily notebook behind the science tab.
Our Daily Notebooks
Speaking of notebooks…we are using the same notebook format with our older middles as we are with the younger one. I bought all three of my middles 1.5″ 3-ring binders, a set of 5 tab dividers and a pencil. For these two middles, their tabs include VOCAB, ART, SCIENCE, LANGUAGE ARTS & GEOGRAPHY. Since they have 5 tabs and 5 subjects, every night I put the next day’s papers in front of the first tab. They are free to start their notebook work any time after they wake up. However, because these two are late sleepers, if they have not completed it by the time lunch is over, they are required to start their work.
My son is not a fan of school in general, so I wasn’t sure how well the notebook and paper idea would go over with him. However, after a couple days and he saw that we were sticking with it and realized that once he sat down to actually work through the papers he could do them on his own and finish rather quickly, he didn’t give me much grief. In fact, the last few days he has grabbed the notebook on his own and done the papers with only a little subliminal prompting as his sister works through hers (he can’t possibly let her finish first and get to play a game before him – lol).
Once the papers are completed, they put them behind the appropriate tab and notebook goes away for another day. I love that all the papers are kept in one area and we don’t have to go searching for daily assignments anymore. Once notebook work is complete, we move on to math on the computer and then they are done with “formal” schoolwork for the day.
So far this system has worked remarkably well and I am thrilled with the independence it is giving my children (and time it is freeing up for me). Several times I have turned around and all three of my middles are at the table working away in their notebooks…no prompting! Now I call that a definite homeschool win!
I hope you have enjoyed a look at our curriculum choices for our 3rd/4th graders. I will tell you more about our choices for 8th grade soon! And don’t forget to check out our Kindergarten-1st grade choices!
Because we love Crafty Classroom so much, they are offering In All You Do Readers a chance to win a $40 Gift Card to their store!