The book has been officially closed on third grade!
I can’t believe we’ve finished our fourth year of homeschooling. I guess we’re no longer novices at this, especially since I’m now on my second cycle of going through things with Ladybug.
This week was pretty much what you’d expect from the last week of school: wrap-up and review. We finished our state study in “Adventures in My Father’s World,” (which, having completed it, I have to say, was an awesome program!), and in doing so, wrapped up westward expansion, as well. We’ll pick up where we left off next year, reviewing the Civil War, and then going on from there in American History.
We finished our math books, and I think that may be our greatest achievement this year. Not finishing the book, because we always do, but learning everything in it. We’ve conquered multiplication and division, (although, not long division…yet), we learned about fractions, geometry, and simple equations…in short, we covered a lot of ground this year!
We wrapped up everything else, as well…except Latin. We’ll have to finish Latin Christiana I up in fourth grade, before we move on to First Form Latin. Something had to give following Chickadee’s birth, and that something was Latin. I’m just glad we kept up with our vocabulary review…hopefully that means when we pick it up again, we won’t have forgotten everything!
We did have a great time celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee this week. I’d like to think we would have done this even if we weren’t homeschoolers, as it was a once-in-a-lifetime event. I think we would have, but I probably wouldn’t have worried about the educational aspect…we just would have had fun of making crowns and having a tea party. We probably wouldn’t have worried about the documentaries or the worksheets, though. I do think that when I look back at Turkey’s and Bunny’s third grade year, this will be my favorite school memory. Like I said, it was a once-in-a-lifetime thing, and sharing it with my children made it even more special!
On the agenda next year? Fourth grade for Turkey and Bunny, (and I’ll be designing our curriculum!), and a more formal kindergarten for Ladybug. I can’t believe I’ll be starting my fifth year as a homeschooling mom!
This week, we really started moving ahead in Adventures in My Father’s World. We’re doing one state sheet a day until they’re done, (which happens to coincide perfectly with how many math lessons we have left!). We’re ready for summer vacation, and we’ve almost met all of the days the state requires us to have, but we also want to get through every state sheet, because Turkey and Bunny love learning state trivia, so we can’t skip any. I’ve also had to adjust our book basket readings to go with the states we’re studying, but seeing as how Turkey and Bunny have usually finished the book basket selections by Wednesday, anyway, having some extra books to choose from is not a problem! We only have one major topic left in our overview of early American history–Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War. We’ll be starting on that next week, and it will last us for two of the remaining three weeks of school.
We also had our annual field trip to Art on the Square this week. I give the children an assignment every year–for example, one year, I picked a few different types of paintings, and told them to find examples of each. This year, the assignment was fairly simple–choose your favorite piece of art, and then explain why it’s your favorite. It was fun hearing their explanations as to why they chose a particular piece–the artists did a good job making their audience feel something! Turkey loved watching these sculptures move in the wind…it’s what he looks forward to the most every year!
We finally finished all of the schoolwork we needed to do before Chickadee’s birth! This included a math and spelling test, our continued readings to correspond with the Jesus Tree and studying baptism in Luther’s Small Catechism in religion, a lot of state sheets from “Adventures in My Father’s World,” read-alouds scheduled in our curriculum, (as well as some scheduled by me for St. Patrick’s Day from a great book–Shamrocks, Harps, and Shillelaghs), and handwriting and grammar. It did not, however, include Latin, because I just don’t care at this point!
We did start a new concept in math, this week. I’m not entirely thrilled with that, because I was hoping that the break in our math lessons would be a little cleaner, and I wouldn’t have to worry about them either forgetting the concept and/or me needing to reteach it once we start back to school. If I had looked ahead, I may have just ended our math lessons last week, like I did with Latin; on the other hand, I really wanted to finish up the unit and have the test before our break. I do have some worksheets that hopefully I’ll remember to have them do while I’m recovering, though, and that should help keep the idea fresh in their minds, so we don’t have to back up and start the whole process over.
Ladybug finished the first Explode the Code primer this week, as well. We had to do a few extra pages in order to finish the book, but I really wanted to get it done, and she really loves workbooks, so neither of us had any complaints. I continue to be impressed with this series, and can already see how a foundation for reading is being laid, in the way she’s trying to sound things out on her own now. It will be fun to get into the next book, and add more letter sounds…but not until after I’ve had a chance to recover from the c-section!
We also worked on our St. Patrick’s Day activities a little early…more on that later, but here’s a sneak peek at some of the fun we had:
I’ll be honest…my energy for and interest in school is waning as my due date approaches. We still have two more weeks of work that I’m determined to get through before Chickadee’s arrival, though, if only because I don’t want to look at schooling all summer long. We’re still doing all of the “important stuff,” but some of our electives are a little on the overlooked side right now. On the other hand, the local public school is going to be spending the next two weeks on standardized testing, and anything we do at home will be better than that major waste of time!
I continue to be astounded by what Turkey and Bunny are learning in math. They’re doing measurements of area and volume, adding and reducing fractions, and working on simple equations. When I was in third grade, I remember the big thing being division tables, but that’s old hat around here. Turkey and Bunny are working on division with remainders, though, and they’re both doing really well with it, for which I’m very thankful. I dread the day long division enters this household…as far as I’m concerned, that’s what calculators are for!
Adventures in My Father’s World is still our favorite thing about any school day. This week, we learned about Robert Fulton and his inventions, (more than “just” the steamboat), as well as another couple of states, and continued to study the “Star-Spangled Banner.” I say study, instead of memorize, because Turkey and Bunny already know the first verse, (thank you Cardinals baseball games), and I don’t think they need to know any more than that by heart. We did use the first and fourth verses for our dictation this week, however, which led me to realize that Bunny has also memorized at least the fourth the verse, if not two and three, as well. It’s strange what children pick up on, and she seemed quite amused at my surprise when she was saying the dictation before I could!
In addition to our regular schoolwork, we’ve been getting a lot of P.E. time this week. The weather has been unusually nice for February/March, so we’ve been walking, (some of us slower than others!), kicking around the soccer ball, practicing swinging a whiffle ball bat, and riding bikes, (although I haven’t been doing that last one). Physical education is still important, even in homeschools, but it can be hard to remember to schedule it in. I try to make sure we get outside on nice days like we’ve been having, because fresh air and exercise are so important, both to health, and to performance in other school subjects. We’ve even been known to do our schoolwork outside on particularly nice days, to really benefit from the fresh air!
The real fun this week came from celebrating our first Leap Day since we’ve been homeschooling. It’s funny that this is our fourth year of homeschool, and it’s just now come up, but we didn’t start school until Summer 2008, so we just missed it the last time. Four years is a long time, anyway, so I’m guessing Turkey and Bunny wouldn’t really have remembered anything we might have done back then, and Ladybug wasn’t even one yet, so I know this is all new to her! I’m looking forward to other special days coming up before Chickadee arrives, including St. Patrick’s Day and the First Day of Spring–I just hope I still have the energy for the activities I have planned!
We’re still chugging along with our school work. Have I mentioned how much we’re loving Adventures in My Father’s World? Turkey and Bunny really look forward to the daily activities, way more than they did with Sonlight. I think they really need worksheets and activities to round out their school experience!
We’re working really hard on grammar right now. In addition to using Primary Language Lessons, as recommended by My Father’s World, I also bought a workbook–English Grade 3. This gives us an opportunity to really practice what we’re learning, and helps me make sure we’re not missing anything. I made some flashcards to go along with the lessons, particularly for the parts of speech. Ever since prepositions were introduced in Latin last year, Turkey and Bunny have had some kind of mental block as what they actually are. So we review that almost daily, and I think it’s just about drilled into their heads. We’ve just started working on subject/predicate, which is a big part of the back half of the book, and so far, that’s been going well.
In this week’s post, I want to focus a bit on supplementing. I know many homeschoolers, like myself, use a “boxed curriculum,” so that they have everything they need, and don’t need to worry about having gaps in their materials. But even with a boxed curriculum, supplementing, either to the subject, or the child’s particular interest, can be very beneficial.
This week, I’ve supplemented in two ways, (three, if you count adding some of my own selections to the My Father’s World book basket). First of all, I was able to use ideas from the children’s worship folder my children received in church last Sunday to supplement our religious instruction. This year, our daily religion usually consists of reading through at least one part of Luther’s Small Catechism, reading from the Treasury of Daily Prayer, (if not the Bible readings, at least the biographies for any commemorations/feasts/festivals that may be taking place), and reading through Concordia’s Complete Bible Handbook for Students, (with which Turkey and Bunny are completely fascinated!). So, no workbooks this year, and also not many crafts. So, when Turkey pointed out a project making a shield with the Word and Sacraments on it that was meant to be completed over several days, I figured it would be a great addition to our religion lessons for the week. It was fun to do, didn’t take too much time, and fit in nicely with the things we’re already doing.
Another thing I’ve been using to supplement this year, in light of the focus on the 50 states in Adventures in My Father’s World, is the Which Way USA club offered by Highlights magazine. Every six weeks or so, we receive two different state puzzle books, along with state maps. These books have all kinds of puzzles–word searches, crosswords, hidden pictures, math puzzles, etc. And in solving each puzzle, the child learns some interesting facts about whatever state the book is about, and completes part of the final puzzles in the book. Is this a necessary supplement? Of course not! It’s mostly for fun. But, I think the wide variety of puzzles are good for Turkey and Bunny’s brains, and helping them think in different ways, and they’re also learning weird facts while they’re having fun. I think this is one of the best “extras” I’ve bought for our homeschool, and the price is reasonable, especially given how much use we’re getting out of it. I’m thinking we may try Top Secret Adventures when we’re done with all 50 states!
There are lots of different ways to supplement your regular homeschool materials. It can be as simple as adding some different, extra books for quiet reading time, finding craft projects, going on extra field trips, or getting a subscription to something, whether a magazine or puzzle club. Supplementing doesn’t have to be expensive, either–there are plenty of free ideas available online. But, however you get it, extra enrichment is always a good thing, so look into adding something extra to your school, even if it’s something you only do one day a week!
We’re finally back to our full, regular school schedule this week, which includes working through week 14 of Adventures in My Father’s World. We’re actually on week 18 of school, because of our special Thanksgiving and Christmas units, but it’s easier to keep track with the My Father’s World numbering, so I’ll keep using that. We will be celebrating our 100th day of school next week, though, (when you include Christmas School and field trip days)!
I was really excited to get back to all of our regular curricula, especially Adventures in My Father’s World. I can’t say I’ve ever felt that way before. I like the special units we do so much, especially the holiday ones, that it can be kind of a drag to get back to the same old, same old. But with the fun worksheets, (we still haven’t run into the state sheet burnout that I’ve heard has plagued so many other families), and the hands-on activities My Father’s World offers us, (we did a fun experiment with popcorn and milk this week that was a huge hit), we’re still having fun learning like we do with our specialized units, but it’s less work for me than putting together Christmas School was. Talk about the best of both worlds!
I’m guessing that this is a sign that My Father’s World is a good fit for our family, because we’re all enjoying it so much. Ladybug is even interested, begging for her own set of state sheets…but she’ll just have to wait a few years for those, (and then I can have the same conversation with Chickadee!). I’m a little sad that we won’t be using My Father’s World next year, (personal reasons), but I know we’ll all be excited about returning to it for our fifth grade studies, when we begin the four-year history cycle again!
This week, we got to enjoy one of my favorite features of Adventures in My Father’s World–a week-long Thanksgiving unit.
This is something that I’ve done every year, anyway. But it was nice to have everything planned out for me for a change. Some of the books were new to us, (somehow we had never read The Thanksgiving Story, even though we have enjoyed the sister book, The Fourth of July Story), and we also used some old favorites (all of the Kate Waters books about colonial children). Some of the crafts were new, (somehow, we had managed to never make woven construction paper placemats before!), some we had done before, (hand and footprint turkeys are a yearly must around here), and some we had done before and skipped doing this time, (we didn’t feel like making paper grocery bag Indian vests again).
There were even dedicated science lessons for this week. There were estimating and measuring assignments, and I added the book From Seed to Pumpkin, particularly for Ladybug’s benefit, so we could see the life cycle of the pumpkin. There was even a fun experiment for discovering the density of a pumpkin, as well as growing your own plant using the pumpkin seeds from the previous estimating and measuring experiments.
I love that this was incorporated right into our school year. The unit is designed to be done whenever necessary in your school year, (although it is labeled as week 13, and is arranged in that spot in the teacher guide), whether you start earlier in the year, and so need to delay the Thanksgiving study, or if you start later, and need to do it even closer to the beginning. The flexibility of this program is another big must!
I wish that My Father’s World could find a way to add a similar Christmas unit to one of their programs. I’m thinking that their global curriculum, Exploring Countries and Cultures, would be the perfect opportunity to learn about Christmas around the world, (and would offer a nice counter-option to Winter Promise’s Children Around the World program, which does have such a unit). While I also create a Christmas unit every year, it would be fun to look at it with fresh eyes, and get some new ideas that I might otherwise overlook, or never think of at all!
This week, we got to start on one of the most unique aspects of Adventures in My Father’s World–the state study.
The states are studied in order of admittance to the union. While we did four states this week, the number of states learned about at any given time varies. The pattern is the same for each of the fifty states. We start by looking for the state on the U.S. map, and then color in the state on a smaller version of the map. We identify the state bird and flower, and color them in on the state sheet. After that, it’s time to label the state capital, and find and write down the postal abbreviation for the state. There is also a sticker sheet of the state flags, and after the correct sticker is found it’s added to the state sheet. We also look at the state’s nickname and motto.
After we’re done with the front side of the sheet, we look over the information on the back. There is both state trivia and history on the back. Of course, we learn the date of statehood, as well as other things, like notable residents, how the state was originally chartered, important exports, and other interesting items of history. We also get a chance to look at things such as the state tree, bug, and fish, where applicable.
Each state also comes with a flashcard with pictures of the bird and flower. Although these don’t have a lot of practical purpose, other than letting us know what color the birds and flowers are supposed to be, they’re a huge hit with the children. Even though they don’t need to memorize the information on the cards, they love collecting them and looking through them.
Being part of the My Father’s World curriculum, the state study also has corresponding book basket books. These can range from simple picture books about or set in a particular state, to full-length fiction or non-fiction works about residents of the state. This is one area, in particular, where I’ve learned of many books with which I hadn’t been familiar previously.
I know that a lot of people get bored with these sheets, and the seemingly endless state information, and perhaps by the end of the year, I will, as well. But right now, I’m only impressed. There’s no pressure to memorize the state information, but it comes naturally, anyway, just because of the activities provided. And it’s fun to learn interesting trivia about different places around the country. In my opinion, this is one of the biggest advantages of this program!