Sunday, June 24, 2012

Looking Back: Year 3 (AKA 3rd grade)

This is the year we just completed, so not that far back. This was a very challenging, but also a very good year. Although he was resistant, the kiddo made great strides - eventually. So, here's what we did:

  • Beginning Reading: Really Reading from Tanglewood Education (click on the apple in the red box for the free pdf). We went through this twice, revisiting Progressive Phonics in between. Then we were finally able to start working our way through some first grade readers - Pathway Readers Days Go By, More Days Go By, and I Wonder from CLE.
  • Bible: We read through a devotion book for boys, and in preparation for Bible Study, I had him keep a notebook in which he wrote/drew something after each reading. Towards the end of the year, we were able to start Increasing in Wisdom, a study of Proverbs for elementary age students from Queen Homeschool. We are taking this very slowly.
  • Character study: We read a chapter from Wisdom and the Millers each week. I think he liked this book, as he's asked to read it again.
  • Handwriting/Copywork: Beautiful Handwriting by Penny Gardner. Again, we went through the italic section twice.
  • Foreign Language: I purchased The Easy Spanish Junior Level. While we didn't love this program, the kiddo did grow more willing to learn and actually try to speak some Spanish.
  • Geography: We continued reading through Window on the World, and are almost through it. When asked he will tell you Geography is his favorite subject and has asked to read this book again, too.
  • History: We tried a relatively new curriculum available through Queen Homeschool, A Living History of Our World, Volume 1. I really thought we would love this, and I did enjoy the readings, and really liked the timeline cards. However, the kiddo did not care for the writing style at all and I would have liked to have spent a little more time in some areas of history. While I know I could have brought in lots of extra books and spent as much time as I wanted on each chapter, this did not turn out to be a good fit for us.
  • Literature: We've read so many great books! Robin Hood, The Jungle Book, Hans Brinker, The Secret Garden, and Black Beauty (we're a little more than halfway through this one now). We also listened to some poems from Poems Every Child Should Know by Mary E. Burt each week, on You can also find the text online at The Baldwin Project. And I almost forgot, we had our first look at Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream. That was fun.
  • Math: oh, yeah, that. Have you seen this Calvin & Hobbes cartoon? That would be us. We were all over the place with math this year. We started the year off trying some math facts copywork, which went over like a lead balloon. We went through MEP Year 1, which seemed to help a bit, then went back to Math Mammoth 2nd grade. There is some hope for us, though, which I will discuss in another post.
  • Science: The kiddo wanted to study Astronomy, so we used Exploring Creation with Astronomy by Jeannie Fulbright. He really liked it, at first. Unfortunately, the writing style is quite similar to the Living History I mentioned above. And he wanted to do more hands-on experiments. Personally I think these are wonderful books and would like to get the Botany book for myself. But it was another misfit for the kiddo.
  • Spelling: Yes, this year I added spelling into the mix with Sequential Spelling. I had hoped this would help his reading with the way the lists are set up. While it did to a small extent, not nearly enough. Although this is an excellent program that has helped lots of kids with learning disabilities, it didn't stick with this one.
  • Grammar: I also started English for the Thoughtful Child this year. We worked together orally, introducing some basic grammar concepts, through half of the book. We'll do the other half this next year.
  • I did have nature, artist, and composer studies in the plans, as well as drawing. But those somehow fell by the wayside and did not get done. I am reworking the plans for those next year to try to make sure we don't forget them.
While we had quite a few mis-fits with our curriculum this year, I feel I've learned quite a bit from it. I am very pleased with how the kiddo progressed towards the end of the year. A main focus for us through all this was building strong character with a strong work ethic. And while he still has a ways to go (don't we all) we really overcame some hurdles with attitude and willingness, as well as readiness, this year. Overall I think we met our challenges well and had a successful year.

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