2014-2015 Year End Wrap up: Fourth Grade

The 2014-2015 school year proved to be a fun year FILLED with activities.  The three kiddos finished up grades 2, 4, and 6.  I reviewed our grade 2 plans in my last post.  Today, I will look back at fourth grade.  I have to admit that I love teaching fourth grade (which is even funnier because my mom was a fourth grade teacher).  Now I made excellent and achievable goals for my second grader but I didn’t do as well with my fourth grader.  Below are the goals that I set for her for fourth grade.

Sawyer (fourth grade): 1) Independent with writing a well-thought out and planned paragraph 2) increase in critical thinking  3) increase awareness of cause and effect 4) time management skills 5)Begin vocabulary 6) Learn organization skills essential to learning

Sawyer rocked the first goal and wrote not just a well thought out paragraph, but she wrote a fascinating, fun-filled paper on wolves.  Unfortunately when she went to write the final draft, she couldn’t find the rough draft-goal number 6.  I am thrilled that my dad and I both were able to proof read her paper. She “taught” about wolf behaviors, habitats, and life through a narrative that was fun to read and kept me engaged through the whole paper.  We tried using clip boards, our travel bags, folders……nothing has worked yet for her.  We will keep trying! Sawyer also did demonstrate critical thinking skills and increased awareness of cause and effect. She also started learning vocabulary.  Time management definitely improved but is far from mastered.

Onto the fun parts-curriculum:

Spelling: Sawyer is a strong speller.  Thus, I did not focus a lot of time on a spelling curriculum but more on spelling in her main lessons.  She worked through book C of Apples and Pears.  Her favorite part of the series is the sentence writing (which is the exact opposite of the boys).

Grammar:  We chose Growing with Grammar this year for grammar practice.  The fourth grade book is slightly different from the second grade books.  Sawyer had a lesson book and a workbook.  The lessons were short and could be read in a few minutes.  The workbook did an excellent job mixing up the type of practice.  After each lesson, the student completes two pages in the workbook.  You know that I am not a big workbook lover, but in this case-everyone was content.  No one really complained about grammar.  It was very straight forward and well explained.

Math:  Sawyer loathes math.  I am not sure why because she is fairly good at it.  She does not feel confident on her math skills but she  does well.  For her main math lessons, she used Teaching Textbooks level 4. She also did a couple of the Life Of Fred books.  She does love Life of Fred.  I am hoping to help increase her confidence in her math skills over the summer.

Main Lessons: We followed the Waldorf Essentials fourth grade curriculum for the most part pulling in the appropriate resources as needed.  She learned geography terms, NC geography and history, man/animal studies, the Norse myths, geology and multiplication.  All of the main lessons were fun and thought-provoking.  Together, Sawyer and I found amazing literature to read about each main lesson.  We also really lucked out with a few local class offerings that taught about the Catawba Indians (a Native American tribe who inhabited our area) and about NC history.

Enrichment: As with Parks, Sawyer took a lot of classes this year.  She took classes in wildlife biology, adventure journaling (following the methods of Lewis and Clark), gymnastics, violin, African drumming, horse back riding, archery, fencing, and art.  She also worked on knitting, sewing and whittling  throughout the year.

Sawyer grew up a lot this year.  I love watching her develop into a beautiful (on the inside and out) young lady.  I look forward to next year and to seeing what she  accomplishes!

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2014-2015 Year End Wrap Up: Grade 2

I enjoy writing this post each year.  I always feel that we could have accomplished more or that we should have worked more on an area until I take the time to reflect.  We had a fantastic year filled with many fun activities.  I will work through each grade over the next few posts.  Now onto the review of how grade two actually went!

My original goals for Parks:

Parks (second grade): 1) Read instructions independently 2)Reciprocity in discussions (he likes to take over the discussions) 3) journal 4)begin reading silently 5)work independently for 30 minutes 6)increase his independence with communicating his emotions and needs

Believe it or not,  Parks met all of my goals (note, that these are not his goals but mine.  He makes his own goals for the year and we discuss them).  He continues to struggle with reading endurance, however he did wonderfully with reading his activities/instructions which allowed him to work more independently than he has in the past (yes, I know he is only in second grade, but I need him to be comfortable with working by himself a little bit).  He also asks people questions and is doing very well with actually conversing with people instead of just talking to a person.  The fourth goal was just recently accomplished-sort of.  He continues to fight me on reading stories himself but he finally opened up to the idea of using Learning Ally to listen to audiobooks on his own.  He loves it!  Goal 6 was Parks’ biggest undertaking this year.  He works through a lot in his brain-ie, it never stops thinking!  He has worked very diligently this year to be aware of his emotions and what he needs.  He can take a break when he needs it and is able to walk away/verbalize when he begins feeling overwhelmed.

Onto curriculum.  I know this is what everyone wants to know about this time of the year.

Spelling: We started the year using Apples and Pears.  He began to complain almost instantly.  We worked through it for about two months and then took a break.  I noticed that he began taking interest in spelling words that he used in daily life correctly so I went with it.  We are now using All About Spelling in conjunction with the cursive Montessori movable alphabet.  So far, it is going well. He is also enjoying Spell Well as an independent workbook.

Math: Parks star year off with Teaching Textbooks level 3.  The work was a good fit but he did not enjoy doing math on the computer.  Thus, we made another switch (the lesson to be learned here is that there is not one curriculum that fits all-unfortunately).  We started out with going through the Life Of Fred Cats books until I found a good fit for him.  He ended up working through the Math Mammoth level 2.  Overall, he enjoyed Math Mammoth.  We did break out the Montessori bank game and beads throughout the year to have some manipulatives.

Grammar:  I know, I know-why is a second grader doing grammar?  Well, mainly because he enjoys it.  He chose to work on grammar first most days of the year.  Everyone used the appropriate level of Growing with Grammar.  We LOVED this series.  Overall, it was very easy to adapt.  Some days, Parks was ready and willing to write out the answers.  Other days, he wasn’t so he could simply cross out what was incorrect and write above the sentence (such as “rewrite the sentence using the correct usage of capital letters) or insert the appropriate punctuation.

Main Lessons:  We continue to love Waldorf Essentials.  For Parks’ main lesson blocks, he worked on maps, heroes, trickster stories, stories from the Buddha’s Apprentice and geology. During the main lessons, Parks worked on comprehension, narration, copy work and art.  The main lesson times are cherished as they are the most intimate part of schooling.  We have lots of discussions as we each work on our drawing, painting or sculpture together.

Enrichment:  We are a little over zealous in this area.  🙂  Parks took classes on physical science, chemistry, woodworking, orienteering, geocaching, drumming, horse back riding, gymnastics and art.  Of course, he participated in our weekly hiking adventures as well.

I am very pleased with where he ended up this year. Throughout the summer we will continue to work on a couple of activities such as spelling and reading.  I will give an update on those later as we just began three weeks ago on our new curriculum.

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End of Quarter Review

End of Quarter Review

Can you believe we have been in school for 9 weeks?  Amazing how quickly the time goes by.  I decided I would give everyone an academic update and a quick recap of the year up to this point.  We started school officially on August 13, 2012 with three students.  I was definitely slightly nervous about adding one but I also knew somehow it would all work out.

As a group we read To Kill A Mocking Bird (one for me), Charlotte’s Web (Parks’ pick), Swiss Family Robinson (Sims’ pick) and Peter Pan (Sawyer’s Pick).  Sawyer and Sims are in a book club at the library.  They started with The Whipping Boy and just finished Because of Winn Dixie.  Now they are reading The Bridge to Terabithia.


  • Reading: He is doing the Primary Phonics program.  He is on the second level which covers vowels digraphs.  He can read most level 1 books and is starting to realize that he can read signs around.
  • Spelling: All About Spelling.  He knows all of his basic sounds and how to spell them.  He is now spelling CVC words and his sight words.
  • Math: He is still doing Montessori Math and he loves IXL.
  • Waldorf curriculum: Through this curriculum he follows a story that integrates folk tales and fairy tales which he then recaps and illustrates.
  • Language: First Language Lessons.  He knows nouns and can distinguish a noun.  He does very well with doing picture studies but his favorite thing to do is to recite poems.  So far his favorites are Caterpillar and The Goops.  He listens to Sims and Sawyer do their poetry and he will memorize theirs too if he can.
  • Art:  This is Parks.  He is art.  If he can build, paint, create or collage something then he is a very happy camper.  I try to make sure there is some kind of art in most of our lessons.

Sawyer and Sims:

  • Reading: Anything Sawyer can get her hands on.  Sims has been into almost anything nonfiction.  He has read about the revolutionary war and animals and is just starting to get into mysteries like the Hardy Boys.
  • Writing: She and Sims are working on a writing program from the Institute in Excellence in Writing.  This week they each did their first independent outline of a folk tale and they did it perfect.  I was very surprised.  They both also journal each day.  This semester they worked on paragraph writing, outlining short stories, writing a poem and journaling.
  • Spelling:  Both kiddos are using All About Spelling.  Sims is amazing me with his spelling.  I love this program, his tutor from last year and Sims’ amazing memory.  Last year, I was worried he would not pick up spelling but now I have no worries.  Sawyer is a natural speller.  She boggles my mind.  She is learning the spelling rules but she generally can just visualize how the word looks.
  • Language: Both are using First Language Lessons (Sims fourth grade and Sawyer third grade).  Thus far, they have learned nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs and how to diagram a simple sentence.  Diagraming-brings back memories of fourth grade for me. 🙂
  • Math: Both kids have been reviewing addition and subtraction and had lessons on Roman numerals.  Sawyer started multiplication, and Sims is starting decimals and fractions.  They both work on www.IXL.com each day also.
  • Handwriting:  Both kiddos asked to learn cursive so that is what we are doing.  I think they will do well with writing in cursive once we get through all of the letters.
  • Waldorf curriculum: Sawyer studied the Saints for the first four weeks and is now onto folk tales and fairy tales.  Sims did animal research and compared several different animals.

We do science as a group except for Sims.  Sims also takes ecology at Latta Plantation Nature Preserve.  On the days he goes to ecology, we take hikes and do nature study.  In our science at home, we have looked at matter and investigated the three states of matter.  We have all done lots of animal research.

The school room, which was so nice and orderly in my first post of the year, is now messy and lived in.  There is fabric on the floor, paper all over and books on desks.  Our schedule is hectic but on the days that we are home, we are in the schoolroom  by 830.  They work diligently for about 2 hours and then they crash.  They take a short game break and start working again.  Unfortunately for them , school never ends.  They cook (math), clean (practical life), help in the garden (science), discuss the world and play with unbelievable imagination and happiness.  I am sure that sounds cheesy but for the most part it is true.  They are all full of life all the time.

How is your first quarter going?  What do you have planned for the next 9 weeks?