Monday, July 28, 2014

3rd Grade

World Dry Erase Wall Decal

The theme for this year is Zoology and World Geography. I'm going to combine Jibber Jabber's (JJ) favorite subject, animals with Hermione's love of reading and coloring. Sassafras Science has a living book science series out that includes a book series following two kids around the world while they learn about habitats and animals. They record their findings in a logbook that looks very similar to my homemade animal sheets I used with JJ when he was doing oral reports on his animal of the week. So he should be very familiar with the format. He is, unfortunately, still a reluctant writer, colorer, and a lazy reader UNLESS it's something he's really interested in. Hermione, on the other hand, is a perfectionist who loves everything coloring and reading. Together, they make planning the school year very complicated. I have finally been able to consistently school them together which allows me to go deeper in the fun content subjects. They do math separately since Hermione does everything but math at a 3rd grade level.

Here's my plan:
Language Arts
My own reading list themed around what we're doing in Science and Geography.
Read-Alouds with BraveWriter + Subject
  • Charlotte's Web* - Alliteration
  • Because of Winn-Dixie* - Collage
  • Nim's Island* - Similes and Metaphors
  • Stuart Little* - Details
  • Just So Stories* - Invented Language
  • The Mouse and the Motorcycle* - Viewpoint
  • How to Train Your Dragon - Punctuation
  • Wind in the Willows* - Imagery 
  • Trumpet of the Swan* - Appeal to Known Experience
  • Mr. Popper's Penguins - Feeling Words

  • The One and Only Ivan
  • Rabbit Hill
  • Runny Babbit: A Billy Sook by Shel Silverstein
  • The Tale of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves: A Story from the Arabian Nights
  • The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor
  • Traveling Man: The Journey of Ibn Battuta 1325-1354 by James Rumford
  • Geraldine McCaugherean: Myths and Legends of the World Series
    • The Silver Treasure
    • The Golden Hoard
    • The Crystal Pool
    • The Bronze Cauldron
  • Jeanette Winter
    • Nasreen's Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan
    • Wangari's Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa
    • Calavera Abecedario: A Day of the Dead Alphabet Book
    • Biblioburro: A True Story from Colombia
    • The Tale of Pale Male
    • The Secret World of Hildegard
    • Mama: A True Story in Which a Baby Hippo Loses his Mama During a Tsunami, but Finds a New Home, and a New Mama
    • The Watcher: Jane Goodall's Life with Chimps
  • My Librarian is a Camel: How Books are Brought to Children Around the World
  • Evangeline Mudd and the Golden-Haired Apes of the Ikkinasti Jungle
Independent Reads
  • Stellaluna
    • Graeme Base
      • The Water Hole
      • Little Elephants
    • Fox and His Friends
    • The White Nights of Ramadan
    • Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau
    • Flat Stanley's Worldwide Adventures 
    Globetrotting with Cinderella - Intellego Unit Studies
    I'll be doing these out of sequence in order to align them with Sassafras Science. 

    From the website:
    Globetrotting with Cinderella - Literature, Geography and Culture
    In this 174 page unit study, your children will explore much more than fairy tales and Cinderella stories! This unit study takes your child on a tour of 6 distinct global cultures, looking at history, music, art, food, and scientific contributions. Children will explore the literary genre of fairy tales and learn the elements of this genre while comparing the six Cinderella stories across the cultures. While on their journey, children will also explore culinary arts, literary devices, public speaking, listening skills, chomatics, trees, volcanoes, kites, fermentation, Egyptian math, and so much more!

    Nations studied: France, Micmac Tribe of Nova Scotia and Maine, Russia, China, Egypt and Korea. 

    Spelling: Sequential Spelling (SS) - I have been shopping around for a spelling that works for both of them. JJ hates busywork and writing, but needs to work on encoding as well as decoding larger words. This looks like it will help him practice seeing where he needs to break words into parts. Sequential Spelling is also a good fit for my terrified-of-making-mistakes girl. She definitely had a period of adjustment where she would melt down because we were going over larger words. Part of the program is to have the kids correct their own spelling immediately which takes a ton of pressure off of Hermione. She's more focused on handwriting and making it all pretty. I bought the original AVKO versions (Homeschool Edition) through Rainbow Resource. The only thing you need is the book. The student response books are optional. I just Pro-Clicked some writing paper for them.

    Bravewriter Arrow - Uses quality literature as read alouds to teach grammar, punctuation, spelling, and literary elements. Each module focuses on a specific topic and lasts a month. This will be my first year using this, but I have heard many good things about it. I am in love with the idea of adding in poetry tea time once a week and discussing the read aloud or some poetry while eating cookies. It's what I always imagined homeschooling should be like. A girl can dream....

    Getty-Dubay Cursive Italics Book D
    3rd Grade Sample
    "Energizing writing practice for basic italic and cursive italic includes capitalization, vowel and consonant sounds, prefixes, suffixes, phonograms, homophones, tongue twisters and six poem forms. Cursive capitals are introduced with historical development of each letter." Handwriting Success

    Hermione: Math Mammoth 2A/B supplemented with homemade Montessori materials. I found this combination worked really well for for her. I introduce the concepts using the Montessori manipulatives and allow her to develop some confidence. Then we go into MM and do the work. It's been slow work and she had to repeat a couple of chapters in 1A/1B until she really got it. It feels so good to finally see her enjoying math.

    Jibber Jabber: Testing out Beast Academy 3A if that doesn't work out I have all of the grade levels of Math Mammoth. I'm a little nervous about this because MM has been going well for JJ. I do think, he would like BA and do really well with it. He is strong in math and it seems this program is just his style.

    Story of the World: Volume 2: The Middle Ages
    We are still working on this since we spent so much time on the end of Rome, then learning about Knights and Castles. We still have Celts and Vikings to get into. Lots of fun stuff to do still!

    The Sassafras Science Adventures Volume 1: Zoology - This is a living book series from Elemental Science. The Story follows a brother and sister around the world learning about different animals and habitats. The Activity Guide is similar to the Story of the World Activity Guide. There are encyclopedia pages, recommended living books to read along with the chapter, experiment information, logbook information, vocabulary, copywork and dictation sentences. There is a Logbook that is similar to the animal report sheets I made for JJ. There is an optional Lapbook that will be perfect for Hermione's cut, paste and color addiction. Sassafras has two different scheduling options, 2 or 5 days a week.

    I have collected a few Scholastic books from their dollar sales that could be fun to include.
    Possibly adding in some pages from Teacher Filebox

    World Geography
    Evan-Moor: 7 Continents and Evan-Moor: Daily Geography Practice - Through Teacher Filebox I can print out the pages that go along with Zoology.

    Draw Write Now Boxed Set - Teaches children how to draw animals.
    Coffee Filter Spider Webs

    Around the World Coloring Book

    Ticket to Ride - They love this game! I might have to get the expansions.
    Brainbox: The World - Quick and easy way to remember facts
    Not sure they are ready for these, but I have them. 
    10 Days in Europe
    Passport to Culture

    I had him take the DORA test through Lets Go Learn. It told me exactly what I had expected. He has a very low word recognition score, but very high reading comprehension. I suspect it's partly because he guesses at words rather than decodes them. He's working so hard at guessing, he can use the context of the sentence to get the gist of what is being said. I also know his ability to break larger words is not as strong as I'd like it to be. For him, I plan to add in Explode the Code books starting with 4 1/2 and using Sequential Spelling is helping him see word patterns as he spells. We are practicing those word patterns and endings daily with spelling. Those together, I hope will help strengthen his encoding as well as decoding skills.

    Her DORA test came in almost exactly opposite from JJ's. She had really high word recognition (6th grade) but below grade level (K) reading comprehension. She's currently technically in 1st. Her phonics skills are strong, but she breezes through reading without grasping it. I printed Evan-Moor's Daily Reading Comprehension books to start with. 

    Thursday, July 17, 2014

    Well, I did it and I guess I'm positive about it....

    After working out many, many different plans, I signed my oldest up with Connections Academy. He will be entering 9th and I think we both need to give this a try. I had planned to homeschool him through high school and I had even bought some of the curriculum while it was on sale, but after quite a few discussions with my moody, indecisive, and somewhat mute son, (life decisions at 14 is just not fair) we decided we needed to go with an accredited school. Some of the colleges that have the major he is interested in require an accredited diploma or a GED. GED is not an option, so accredited it is. And so began my search.

    He stated he did not want to go to a brick and mortar high school. He likes keeping his own schedule. Being  a night owl, he likes to work at night. He's always been easy. A self-starter, disciplined, box-checker, independent learner, I've never had to work hard at keeping him on track. I looked into all of the available charter schools in the area. We've had a few open, but none that jumped out at me. I looked into American School and considered that for a long time. It's a good program, but I didn't like the College Prep Track, there was too much I would have wanted to change. It is affordable and is known as a solid checks the boxes to pursue other interests type of school. Then I looked at all of the university high schools.
    There's :

    Then there's independent online schools:
    I'm sure there are more schools, but these are the ones I seriously considered. My school district and local university both have programs that put a select few students on the campus for a small high school class. The school district is associated with the community college. It's a great program, but he was not interested in that. 

    So all of this searching, lead us back to the online charter we used when he was in 5th. Our plan is 2 years with the online charter, then 2 years at an early college charter.There are a number of reasons we ended up here. First off, we've used them before and know what to expect. Second, at this stage, I would like to make sure he's prepared for the early college program. I'm afraid that if I went with something that is more flexible like BYU or American School he would be losing a valuable lesson in juggling schedules, other teachers, different standards and requirements. He's always completed work on time or near that, but having tests all on the same day or papers due all at once, I'd rather he get used to that now, than when he's in college. Finally, it came down to cost. We could afford American School with the payment plan and possibly BYU Independent Study with the scholarship program (every 6th class is free if you get grades above B), but was it that worth it to me? I figure if he really hates the online charter, we could drop it and use BYU Independent Study. Despite the affiliation with BYU, it is a secular high school program, it's also accredited, affordable and highly respected.

    Obviously, this wasn't an easy decision. I'm not looking forward to the stricter 9-month schedule. The monthly calls and other various hoops I will be forced to jump through. I'm also excited to see how he does with these new demands. Admittedly, it will be a little bit of a relief to place myself in the supportive role, rather than purely the teaching role. Don't get me wrong, I'll be by his side a lot the first few weeks to make sure he's adjusting and to guide him through this transition. I'll also happily help set up Biology labs and explain Geometry, but to have someone else do the grading of papers will provide a small bit of satisfaction.

    The early college charter I plan to transfer him to his Junior year pays for all of his courses at the community college. They have a fantastic support system for the students. They require a preparation course for attending college and meet once a month about various subjects relating to studying and college choices. They offer tutoring and other means of support. They require volunteer work.

    His 9th grade courses are:

    • Honors English
    • Honors Biology
    • Geometry
    • Honors World History
    • German
    • PE/Physical Fitness

    He'll be working towards an Advanced Honors diploma. The only thing I'm worried about is that it requires 2 Honors math units. While he's finally clicking with Algebra I, I'm afraid that is pushing it. So I put off Honors math for now to see how he does. If he doesn't get the math honors courses, then he'll receive an Advanced diploma, which is still college prep. From what I'm told, the Honors courses are a lot like the Gifted courses he took there in 5th. They require some extra work and reading, but it was manageable for him.

    I do need to ask to see if he can receive credit for his high school level geography and health courses I gave him. My state gives 3 options to attain credit.

    1. Assessment - proctored mid-term or final exam
    2. Portfolio - student work reviewed by a teacher in the subject
    3. Competency - applicable to sequential subjects like math or foreign language
    In my state, the requirement is World History or Geography and since he has World History on the schedule, there may be no need in their opinion to grant credit for Geography. I would really like Health to be credited though because that would count towards his other PE unit which frees up time to satisfy other core courses before he heads off to early college/dual enrollment.

    Monday, July 14, 2014

    Summer Bucket List

    We school year round so we can take a lot of time off from school during the fall and spring when the weather is much more tolerable. Now that it's hotter outside, we have a few subjects remaining, but should be done by noon every day. We'll have plenty of time to scratch some things off of our summer bucket list. Here's what we came up with.

    1. Go swimming a couple of times a week
    2. Sleepovers with the cousins
    3. Try out every board game we have at least once. We started with Ticked to Ride and they loved it!
    4. Family movie night using this list.
    5. Watch some nature documentaries
    6. Build something giant out of Lego
    7. Build a fairy garden
    8. Use up some of our kits I'be sitting on forever. We have a crystal growing kit, a robotic arm, Snap Circuits, and a bunch of Magic School Bus science kits they always enjoy.
    9. Make some no-bake pies
    10. Make ice cream in a baggie
    11. Read.
    12. Bowling

    Thursday, July 10, 2014

    Sequential Spelling....I Finally Settled on a Spelling Curriculum!!

    Sequential Spelling (SS) - I have been shopping around for a spelling curriculum that works for both of my soon-to-be 3rd graders. I wanted to love All About Spelling after hearing so many good reviews, but it just wasn't for us. Sequential Spelling is a super efficient program that has helped both of my kids with spelling, handwriting and decoding larger words all without taking a ton of time. We are on Day 31 and so far, it's a keeper!

    JJ needs to work on spelling as well as reading larger words. This looks like it will help him practice seeing where he needs to break words into parts. It's also good handwriting practice for him.

    Sequential Spelling is also a good fit for my terrified-of-making-mistakes girl. She definitely had a period of adjustment where she would melt down because of a mistake. The part of the program that I love is that the kids get to correct their own spelling immediately which takes a ton of pressure off. She's finally able to relax and focus not just on spelling, but on making her handwriting pretty.

    I bought the original AVKO versions (Homeschool Edition) through Rainbow Resource. The only thing you need is the book. The student response books are optional. I just Pro-Clicked some writing paper for them.  

    As you can see, the Homeschool (AVKO original) version is just lists. Each section works on a few word families. As you progress through the week, additional words are given that build on the root words. The Day focuses on one suffix with homophones and even includes a few contractions. Having just finished Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading and adding in Explode the Code 4.5 and up, we are familiar enough with the phonics rules to understand and explain the rules...or at least be reminded of them. ;) 

    Note: If you see the Revised Version, the Teacher's Book has the same lists along with activities such as word searches, making them more like a workbook. I'm perfectly happy just using the lists. 

    For more reviews, check out Pioneer Woman's homeschool blog and this one from Modern Homeschool.  Here's the full 8 lesson sample where they start with spelling in and be and by day 5 they are spelling beginning


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