Saturday, May 14, 2016

Curriculum Reviews -- 3rd Grade

My 3rd grader is a completely different kind of learner and requires a lot more trial and error. Mostly I have to work on my approach with her and let her have some control over when she does her work. This takes some negotiation. She is more of a visual and kinesthetic learner and I can't rely on auditory instruction. She is an excellent reader and most likely to do reading on her own. Here is what we did in 3rd grade:

Bible-God's Great Covenant New Testament  by Classical Academic Press. I continue to like this series a lot; it primarily stays out of the weeds of controversy and focuses on the story of God's redeeming work. This year's focus was the Gospels and it was understandable right down to my kindergartner without being juvenile.  The teacher's guide was really busy, with a lot of supplementary information. I did not have her do the worksheets and quizzes but she did work on the memory verse and listen to the Bible reading and lesson instruction. She also helps me read to reinforce her learning style. (5 days a week)

History-Story of the World V2 by Well-Trained Mind Press, continues to be our anchor curriculum for the humanities. Everyone is involved in this class which involves a lot of external reading (we check books out from the library on literature and history and read thru them during the week.) The Activity book makes this curriculum with art, craft, cooking, sewing and other activities that support the reading, along with geography and a coloring page. Kyrie finds it much easier to write out a summary and then read it rather than giving an impromptu verbal summary. She also helps me with the reading to keep her mind focused. (4-5 days a week)

Math - We used Horizons 3 this year. The first three grades are my favorites and I watched Kyrie make a big jump in math skills. Horizons is advanced and introduces long division earlier than other curriculums. This was really challenging and an educator friend reminded me that often little minds aren't ready for long division so soon. We took a deep breath and worked through it slowly, and she has it down now. She has added some flash card programs on the tablet that she uses to work on multiplication tables and I have fallen back on Khan Academy a time or two to help with instruction on difficult concepts. We also use some Adapted Mind Math.  (5 days a week)

Grammar - Every year I realize more how much I love First Language Lessons. I have now used other grammar curricula and know how very well Language Lessons covers the topic while avoiding busy work. We can complete a lesson in 10-15 minutes and Ben still remembers his work. Our deep sadness is that it only goes through 4th grade.  Kyrie loves Language Lessons and has a strong handle on parts of speech and is excellent at memory work. (3 days a week)

Spelling and Handwriting - We used Spelling Workout C and Zaner Bloser to cover these topics. There is no need for expensive teacher's manuals and Zaner Bloser offers free lined paper printouts (by grade level) on their web site, which makes having practice paper available easy. (2-3 days a week)

Writing & Rhetoric -  We started Classical Academic Press's Writing & Rhetoric: Fable program mid-way through the year. While this program is challenging for Kyrie, she loves the creativity of it and has really pushed herself and excelled. It is an excellent introduction to writing for a beginner. (2 days a week, but 3-4 is ideal)

Science  - She participated in our local nature center classes on various topics throughout the year and jumped in on experiments with Ben.

Spanish - Kyrie is very motivated to learn Spanish and put her all into a very rigorous program for a 3rd grader. We used Classical Academic Press's Spanish for Children Primer A. On the positive side, the teacher is funny, warm, and engaging (we see her on the DVD which offers occasional humorous puppet animation clips).  The website Headventureland offers valuable reinforcement activities. However, this program moves a little fast and is more difficult to assimilate than Latin for Children Primer A. I have had 2 years of college-level Spanish and the grammar is complex. Primer A pushes through it and should probably have been about 5 chapters shorter and been stronger on review and going slower. The teacher has anything but a natural accent, which often cracks me up. Regardless, Headventureland is such a valuable resource and Teacher Julia so wonderful, that Kyrie has loved this program. (Ben is begrudgingly learning Spanish and while not loving it, he seems to enjoy the curriculum.) This is probably a better curriculum for 5th or 6th grade, but motivation is everything. And she is learning. (4 days a week, but 5 would be better)

Art/Music - I gave up piano lessons for the year and we need to continue. We did some music appreciation and she is working on Little Annie's Art Book of Etiquette & Good Manners. The fonts and styling are outdated and this book is ideal for Kindergarten/1st grade but we have enjoyed learning some thoughtful things about relationships and friendships that have been relevant this year. It has less "art" instruction than other books by the same instructor and is more of a coloring book with tips. (1 day a week)

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