3rd Grade This Year

Starting tomorrow, I’m going to get into the spirit of Halloween and celebrate by counting down the days with silly and only slightly scary ideas. Before we get to that though, I want to do a little homeschool catch up post on what structure we’re working with in 3rd grade this year. Today is our 40th day of school for 2013/2014. I only know because we’re going to celebrate the 100th day of school this year and I figured that we should be counting so the days don’t get away from me. This will be our second full year homeschooling and I really feel like I have a better way of running our days than I did when we started. This was our schedule and our materials last year.

We work a standard schedule 5 days a week, taking Wednesdays and Saturdays off, though the weekend is usually when our 8th grader reads his assigned literature and our 3rd grader finishes all her art.

Since our youngest isn’t 5 yet, she can’t be enrolled in the same homeschooling program as our other two children. Obviously, she can still do a kinder program at home with me. The program I’ve set up for her is very similar to the junior kindergarten program in Ontario, it needs it’s own post. Our 8th grader works on a three classes per semester schedule and since it is technically an independent study program, he also has options open to add more and more onto what was assigned. I’m really impressed with the way he has chosen to build onto this system, and this will get it’s own post as well. For now though, the grade I think I end up spending the most combined hours on…3rd.

3rd Grade
8:00am – 8:45am Language Arts – Spelling / Reading
8:45am – 9:30am Language Arts – Grammar, Reading Response
9:30am – 9:45am first break
9:45am – 10:45am Math
10:45am – 11:45am Lunch
11:45am – 12:45pm Social Science or Science
12:45pm – 1:45pm Math or Language Arts Homework
1:45pm – 2:05pm Cursive
2:05pm – 3:00pm Art or Music
3:00pm – 4:30pm FREE TIME 🙂
4:30pm – 6:30pm PE (swimming, dance/ballet)

Our 3rd grader is in her second year in the primary program and I really like the way it is laid out. Essentially, we work on a 5 day schedule and hand in the previous week’s work mid-week. We try to stay a day or two ahead of schedule as a buffer in case something comes up and of course something usually does so I try not to deviate from the schedule too often. As far as how each class breaks down, here is a general idea. Aside from the classes listed, our 15 minute breaks are spent however they choose to use them. Sometimes they’ll all go outside, sometimes they’ll all relax in the living room for a while and sometimes they all scatter and do different things. Lunch is almost always taken as a picnic poolside. Some days it is too cool to go to the pool, but it’s not like that enough days in a row to make it off limits for a prolonged period so they get to have a nice break mid-day. On days when it is too cool for the pool we have a backyard picnic instead. Just the concept of not having to think about school for an hour, and eat food you love with your siblings, preferably outside.

Language Arts – Spelling / Reading – 45 minutes
Each day, we start with the vocabulary words for the week by going over their spelling, definitions and using them in context. We do a pretest on Mondays and a spelling test on Fridays. There are also usually 4 or 5 worksheets related to our spelling words and the phonics we are working on and we do those now. She reads aloud the selection for the day and we go over the reading comprehension for it. There are usually a few worksheets we will do for this portion as well.

Language Arts – Grammar, Reading Response – 45 minutes
We have daily language activities we complete for grammar and the flow on my end goes; introduce the concept, teach the concept, review and practice, review and proofread, and then on Fridays I assess and reteach. There are always worksheets for grammar and we also do a daily composition book prompt and a paragraph practice exercise that we usually do twice a week.

Math – 60 minutes
Generally speaking, we introduce a concept each day that builds on what we did the previous day. The workload is usually about 20-30 questions in the textbook and about 15 questions on an accompanying homework sheet. Throughout the math text there are pages with mini tests, prompts to review work from the previous topics, and opportunities to reteach. We use the time left at the end of the formal lesson to go back and cover these extras to both keep older lessons fresh and to practice the new lessons until they become simple.

Social Science – 60 minutes
The curriculum we follow outlines one chapter a week in the textbook. The first day she reads the chapter aloud, goes over the captions, photos, charts and additional information and then we do the lesson review. The second day there is an art activity where the lesson is made creative, the third day the lesson is extended with a personalized activity. The fourth day is a writing activity or a skillbuilder activity that relates to things like map reading and finding information. The fifth day is used either for assessment or to work through a primary grades history of the United States program we have. There are also assigned worksheets for each lesson, two of them relate directly to the lesson, and two additional ones are for related reading comprehension and new related vocabulary.

Science – 60 minutes
Much like the social science curriculum, the outline for this program is one chapter per week, and there is plenty to build on in the text. We go over the whole chapter on the first day and do the lesson review. The following day and often also the day after we devote to that week’s experiment. This year we are also working with a second text that teaches different concepts from the main text. It’s neat to have a secondary lesson every week, and the homework completion for that one is one review page a week, usually no more than 5 questions, but her responses have to be detailed.

Math / Language Arts Homework – 60 minutes
This block of time is not always necessary. Sometimes, a new math concept will take a little longer to fully grasp and that’s more than understandable, it’s expected and totally normal. Other times, there is just a lot of writing to be done in the language arts program and in order to keep her writing neat she can’t rush though it so it can be time consuming. This period is just used to catch up on any class that had unfinished work after we moved on to the next. Some days there is no unfinished work. In that case we usually just work for an hour on whatever comes next in any subject she wants.

Cursive – 20 minutes
I assign one cursive writing page per day. Most of the time there are two letters on each page, with either a few words or even a phrase to write in cursive. Sometimes we’ll do a review of words we know by handwriting sentences with the letters she has learned.

Art – 55 minutes
We have been working through a really fun 3rd grade art program this year and so far she loves it. She has had to draw the same picture twice once with cool colors and once with warm colors, we’ve made air drying clay and she’s used it to make Native American style bowls and Greek style vases. She has made collages and worked with watercolors. There is so much going on in this program it deserves a post of it’s own! This week coming up she will be working a crayon resist project, create Greek theater masks and make a Romain coin!

Music – 55 minutes
I’m not a big fan of the recorder, but I appreciate that it is an approachable way to get kids to learn the basics of sheet music. Once they have that down we’ll move onto the piano, but for now we’re working through Recorder Karate, which is a program that relates songs for the recorder of increasing difficulty to karate belt levels. So first you learn the sheet music for the notes, then you practice the song and once a week she has to perform that week’s song to reach the next belt level. It’s actually pretty fun and all three of them try!

Free Time – 90 minutes
This is their anything (within reason) goes time between finishing school for the day and going to their physical programs of choice. Our 3rd grader is in dance and she is at the studio 5 days a week, since our other children are also involved in after school activities as well, they’re off to drop off and pick up even if they are not doing anything that afternoon. Since this block of time is right after art, she will often just keep working on whatever she’s working on that day or if she’s finished but still feels like being creative she will continue to paint or sculpt or paper mache it up.

There is always room for tweaking and of course we take a lot of field trips that we sometimes try to work into the programs we’re teaching from but we also just go on field trips to learn things for the sake of learning them. We also do one library day a week and now that she’s learned how to log in and request books from other branches she’s well on her way to reading every Nancy Drew in the County of Los Angeles Pubic Library system.

The 8th grade and kindergarten programs have been in full swing for the last 40 days as well and they are both also a lot of fun and have been working out well for each child and thankfully for me as well!