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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Fourth Grade Plans


Sawyer will begin the fourth grade this year.  I have already taught fourth grade using Waldorf Essentials, so I am excited to teach it again with a little more knowledge!  Fourth grade has three main themes including NC history, Norse Myths and Man/Animal studies.

We will begin the year with a review of form drawings and then delve into NC!  I plan to use David Sobel’s Mapmaking with Children as a guide to use mapping in order to study NC.  Some of my plans include having her imagine to be a new settler to NC and landing on the NC shoreline.  How would she draw a map or plan out where she will go?  I also plan for her to work on a three dimensional map of NC.  She will begin her vocabulary in this block with words pertaining to maps.  I have several books that I am looking into for her for this block including: Swift River by Cornelia Meigs, Rescue on the Outerbanks, Celebrating North Carolina, Rascal, The Tale of Ole Green Eyes, and Legends of the Outer Banks.  NC is also home to many pirate stories which I am sure that she will love.

Her second block is a man/animal block.  In this block, we will look at the head, trunk and hands.  We will start with self portraits and begin speaking about ourselves as humans.  I plan to use both Waldorf Essentials and Charles Kovac’s book to look at the cuttlefish, the snail, the seal, the harvest mouse, the red deer, the hedgehog, the eagle and finally focusing on different types of limbs.  Hopefully, we will get a field trip in there at some point to do some in person observing.  For this block, I am looking at reading The Jungle Book- although, I am not positive on this.

The third block is a long one.  We will work on the Norse Myths and fractions.  With Sims, I used the D’Aulaires book of Norse Myths.  I plan to use that again but I also plan to us Roger Lancelyn Green’s version of the Myths of the Norsemen.  I like that Green’s book doesn’t give constant pictures.  I hope this will help Sawyer use a little more of her imagination in her paintings and art.  Sawyer loves mythology so I know she will love this block!  I have found several books to read along with the myths including The Blackwell Pages, The Norse Code, and Odin’s Child: The Heroes of the North Live On.  Hopefully, during the block we will get to some fractions as well!  I would love for her to design her own idea for fractions.  Sims used his arteries and veins to make a “fraction tree.”

Block four will be done together.  We will look at trees, granite, volcanic rocks, different rocks, the water cycle, wind and glaciers.

In her second man/animal block, Sawyer will do more independent research on some bigger animals.  Again, I am hoping these weeks will end in some terrific projects.  The animals that I have planned include the elephant, the horse, the bear, the lion, and a dog.  She will also pick her own animal to present on.

Her final block will be a group block on physics using the Earth, Wind, Fire and Air book recommended by the Christopherus curriculum.  The spring is always a busy time filled with hiking and getting outdoors.  I put this block here so that we could all enjoy doing some experiments on our adventures!

Again-this is our preliminary plan.  I am sure it will change some, but this will definitely serve as our guide through the year!

The Beauty of Light

My previous post spoke about when the lightbulb goes on for the kids.  Last week, I had my “aha” moment.  I began planning my school year in the summer.  Two holidays I wanted to incorporate into the year were Halloween and Diwali (two of my kids favorite holidays).  As you know, then I also decided to follow a Waldorf Homeschool Curriculum.  In my mind, I thought, “Will I have time to teach Halloween and Diwali in addition to this curriculum?”  Well not only can I teach these two holidays, they fit into the curriculum perfectly.  The Waldorf curriculum celebrates Martinmas and the Festival of Lanterns.  Halloween, Martinmas, and Diwali-all teach about good versus evil and use light as the symbol.  Thus, we have three weeks of celebrating light!

Last week, we began our investigation of light with the history of Halloween.  The kids learned about how the dead are believed to walk the earth on the last day of October (this tradition also fit well with the Norse myths that Sims is studying).  The kids made their jack-o-lanterns to scare away the dead and they dressed up to trick or treat.  This week, they are researching the science behind light and the properties of light.  They are also making lanterns in preparation for Martinmas.

Along the way, the kids are making all of the connections which make learning so much fun.  We are listening to “The Magician’s Nephew” and light seems to be a theme throughout the book, from the presence of it to the lack of it.  The kids noticed the theme right away.  They have also been discussing the moon, the stars and the sun a lot.  Today, they realized (they have always been told this but it clicked today) exactly how the moon reflects light and that it does not illuminate itself.

You will hear more about light in the next post, I am sure.  For now, Happy Halloween and Happy Martinmas-and one of my favorite sayings:

May the light in me, honor the light in you.

When the ligh bulb goes on….

Well it has been an exciting two weeks at Lake Norman Prep-we had fall break!  Last Thursday we packed up the car and headed to Black Mountain, NC for the LEAF festival.  The kids put their skills to work putting up the tent (with the help of Dad), drumming, kayaking, paddle boarding, meeting new people and exploring.  It was a much needed vacation and one that we look forward to each year.  Unfortunately, all good things come to an end and we had to start back to school on Monday.

One of the luxuries of camping and relaxing for a few days is time for reflection.  In my mind, I know that the kids are “on track” with where I planned for them to be up to this point.  However as a parent/teacher, I often wonder if they are getting the information or not.  As I reflected, I remembered many of the kids “aha” moments.  Several had to do with books that we have read or are reading-such as one day we saw a full rainbow over our town.  The kids started a discussion on whether or not the Norse gods were on the rainbow and if they were why.  We are reading D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths.

Theses “light bulb” moments continued through the week.  Tuesday Sawyer, Parks and I went on a hike and Parks gave Sawyer a lesson on moss and how it spreads-a lesson he had on a previous hike at Latta Plantation Nature Preserve.  The whole “class” also had lessons on the layers of the earth and land forms this week and last.  I could not have planned a better time.  We are also reading The Magician’s Nephew.  In the book, there is an inter-world with several lakes surrounded by forest.  Sims immediately realized that this was an area with a system of lakes and Parks, then, decided to make this system of lakes out of construction paper.  As scary as it is, the land forms continued through the week as the kids went on their weekly hike at Latta.  The kids learned about a ravine and erosion.  They followed the ravine to the delta.  I wish I had actually planned for everything to come together like that, but it was pure coincidence.  I love how life works out like that sometimes!