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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Fourth Grade-Norse Myths Blocks

We LOVE myths-Greek, Norse, Roman, Egyptian, Native American.  It doesn’t matter.  We love the stories and the connections among them all.  Thus, Sawyer was very excited to begin her Norse myths block.  She listened to the Norse myths from the D’Aulaire’s book when Sims was in the fourth grade.  This year it was her turn.  I did not want to do the same thing over again so I chose to use Roger Lancelyn Green’s Myths of the Norsemen.  We started with a discussion about myths and the people of ancient Scandinavia.

We then read aloud the first 7 chapters which covered the Yggdrasill, Odin in search of wisdom, the apples of Iduna, Loki and the Giants, Loki making mischief, Freya the bride, and  Thor’s visit to Utgard.  Sawyer chose one chapter each week to draw and write about.  We also rented the first two Thor movies.  We both enjoyed Green’s telling of the myths; however, there is something magical about the illustrations in D’Aulaire’s books.  Thus, we ended up using both books as we read through the myths.  We have one more block to finish up the book which will hopefully happen in the next few months!

 

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SUMMER!!

We are done with “school” for the year which means that it is officially SUMMER in our book!  This is one of the benefits of homeschooling!  We control our schedule.  We are in NC and the law here states that we must have “school” for 9 of the 12 calendar months.  We do not have a day count or anything, but I have kept count.  We completed 179 days of school (this excludes all holidays that we took off and other random days here and there that we took off).

Of course, the last day of school was on our calendar.  However, there are still several days marked on the calendar with classes.  The kids were not to keen on this but they are getting over it fast!  Sims is still finishing up his Aquatic Ecology class and Parks is finishing up his Soil classes.  Then they all have one more class on bioluminescence and one more hike.

So here is the rundown of the year!

Sims finished fourth grade!  He learned NC history and geography, grammar, the Norse Myths, Zoology, Human Anatomy and Physiology, Ecology, Geocaching, Biology, Fractions, Decimals and Percents.  He made HUGE gains in his independent reading comprehension which was one of our goals for this year!  He also found that he actually does enjoy reading for pleasure.

Sawyer completed second grade!  She learned about several Saints, folktales and fairy tales, multiplication, Biology, Geography, grammar, Jakata tales and Anansi tales.  She also wrote several stories and poems throughout the year.  She is my writer and she learned a lot more about the technicalities that go into writing this year.

Parks is headed into the big leagues next year!  He finished kindergarten!  Parks worked on fairytales, folk tales, adding, subtracting, telling time, cursive and reading.  This was his first year out of “school.”  He did a good bit of deschooling this year and finding where he fits into the mix.

As a family, we celebrated Labor Day, Halloween, Diwali, Michaelmas, Thanksgiving, Christmas, the Winter Solstice, Valentine’s Day. and Easter.  We read several books together including: To Kill a Mockingbird, Charlotte’s Web, Because of Winn Dixie, The Whipping Boy, Peter Pan and Wendy, The Bridge to Tarabithia, Three Cups of Tea, The Magician’s Nephew, Pippi Longstocking, Dolphins at Daybreak, Robinhood, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, Twenty-One Balloons, Paddle to the Sea, Frindle, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and Cheaper by the Dozen.

Now to finish up the school yearbook and to experience some new adventures!

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April-Part 2

Sims’ block for the month of April was on human anatomy.  Anatomy is one of my favorite subjects!  I was very excited about this block.  I think of anatomy as the systems of the body and how they work together.  The Waldorf curriculum we are using looks at anatomy a little differently, so we combined the two methods.  Again, our curriculum gave both of us the opportunity to learn!

We started by looking at the body parts in four parts-the head, the chest, the stomach and the extremities.

We then moved to the extremities.  We discussed what we use our extremities for and the systems that are the “most important” in the extremities.  We looked at the joints, the skeleton, the muscles and how they all work together.

Next we looked at the nervous system and the brain.  We looked at brains in different animals and discussed how amazing our brains are!

From the brainstem, we moved onto the chest.  The chest contains the main organs for the respiratory and circulatory systems.  We started with the big picture of how the two systems work together.  Throughout the next week, we looked at how the systems discussed thus far work together.

The final system is the digestive system.  We connected the two systems by looking at hiccups-a common issue between the respiratory system and the digestive system.  We also looked at the difference between humans and animals that graze.

We will finish up our anatomy this week by adding organs to the large body.  We are in the last three weeks of school which we plan to look at the anatomy of some animals.  We have had lots of discussions about how different animals focus on one system whereas humans use all four of the areas.