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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Second Block

I decided recently to shorten our blocks and repeat them throughout the year.  Thus, everyone is pretty much finishing up their second blocks this week and beginning their new blocks.

I tried out a new curriculum this year for a few of  our blocks.  I purchased the Christophorus Waldorf books for some of the blocks.  The books have a nice layout and the story form is nice.  However, so far we are not loving them.  Parks’ second block looked at heroes.  He began determining what the word hero means to him.  We then went through the Saints and Heroes book and chose a few of the stories.  Overall, the stories were okay.  His imagination was not sparked as it usually is with stories.  For some reason, they did not resonate with him.  I do plan to try another heroes block in the next semester but I will use materials from the library and Waldorf Essentials.

 

The same went with Sawyer’s first man/animal block.  She really wanted to study owls, but for some odd reason (maybe my type A ness popped out after I had done a lot of planning) I could not bring myself to flow with it.  If I had let her study owls in the beginning, the block may have flowed better.  She began by looking at the human and the parts of the human.  We then went through the mouse, the cow and the lion.  Again, in her seconds man/animal block, I will most likely follow the plan set up in Waldorf Essentials.

So the other two blocks went ok but not stellar.  Sims’ block was awesome!  His seconds block looked at business math and economics.  He enjoyed it so much, he asked to continue it before going into our Rome Block.  We used the book Striker Jones by Maggie Larche as our guide.  The book also has a teacher’s companion that is well worth the extra money (if purchased through your kindle it was only an additional $1.99).  The teacher’s manual laid out the concepts that each chapter covers, the definitions, discussion questions, and assignments.  He loved them all!  He also demonstrated the ability to apply the concepts throughout the month in our discussions and errands.  Next, he is going to work through the Pet Store math curriculum by Simply Charlotte Mason.  He is looking forward to the Pet Store.  He designed his logo and started deciding on his inventory.  Over the next few weeks, he will “run” the store using the principles that he learned through Striker Jones.

Now onto block three!  Parks will begin  Animal stories,(although this week we read a story from Buddha’s Apprentice at Bedtime).  Sawyer will begin the Norse myths and Sims will continue with Business Math.

 

Second Grade Plans

second grade
I am excited to do grades 2 and 4 this year since I have experienced them once already. For grade 2, I plan on doing blocks on world geography/form drawing, heroes and saints, folktales, geology and biomes, animal legends and physics.

For the first block, I plan on beginning with a reintroduction to form drawings in order to get back into the school year. Then we will move into geography. For Parks, I plan to have him make a globe and label the oceans and continents. He will also work with the other kids on geography using David Sobel’s Mapmaking with Children.

His first individual block will be on saints and heroes. The last time I taught second grade, I only taught Christian saints. This year, I plan to shift my focus on both heroes and saints-no matter what the religion. Thus, as of right now I plan on teaching the definition of hero and saint. We will then read through stories on Genevieve of Paris, Kun and Yu, Rabia of Basra, Nandanar and Lord Shive, Finn Mac Cool, Judah Maccabee, Elizabeth, Hiawatha, Martin, Francis, Basil and the Baal ShemTov. I think my son will love the idea of studying heroes!

His second independent block, I plan to take stories from the Buddha’ Apprentice at Bedtime by Dharmachari Nagaraja. The book contains tales of compassion and kindness that teach the principles of the Eightfold Noble Path. The book also works on teaching meditation to children. Parks is working very hard to control his anxiety. For him, anxiety manifests in the form of anger and frustration. I am excited to bring some stories into his schoolwork that will assist in his control over his anxiety and to work on meditation..

Next he will work on geology and biomes with the other two kiddos. I do not have these blocks completely finished yet, so I will have to give you more input as time goes on. I am planning to do a joint block at this time based on previous years. I found that the time after the holidays is tough for us. Everyone has a difficult time getting back into the groove of school. Thus, if we work together then we can get more done.

His last independent block is on animal legends. in this block , I plan to read to use the Christophorus book on animal legends and the stories from Waldorf Essentials on Grandfather Frog. Finally, to finish out the year, we will work together on a physics blocks. Parks and Sawyer will focus on projects using the Earth, Wind, Fire and Air book.

In addition to his blocks, Parks will work on Teaching Textbooks level 3, Apples and Pears book A (he started this last year and will finish it this year), Growing with Grammar level 2, nature study and journaling.

Grade 3 Old Testament

As I stated before, I am having a difficult time getting Sawyer interested in the Old Testament blocks and blocks on Judaism.  She loved the Rebecca series and she learned a lot of the information through that series.  I decided that January would be her last Old Testament block.

She decided upon Moses as her last block.  We went through the story of Moses from his birth to his death. We also delved into some history about Egypt and the pharaohs of the time to keep it interesting for her.

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Grade 5 Geometry Block

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I am going to try to get caught up on my blogs now that I had a short break!  January feels like it was years ago right now!  Sims spent January working on some geometry in a fun hands on block.  We started off the block by looking at how he can make shapes without using straight edges and a compass.  The first shape he made was a circle using a rope and a person in the center.  I asked him to figure out how to make a circle that would take up the majority of the driveway.  He did an excellent job and that took us right into the many vocabulary terms that go with circles and angles and shapes.  We followed the fifth grade Waldorf Essentials books pretty closely with this block.

 

The Checklist

We are 61 days into the year.  Only 119 days to go (give or take a few).  I aim for 180 days of documented school days.  I recently printed out my blog up through the beginning of October.  One comment I received from Nick was on the update list.  He likes seeing the items that each child has completed in a bullet point form.  So for those business-like readers, below is for you (ok-mainly, this post is for my hubby so that he can have an update, neat and tidy).

Parks (Grade 1):

1.  Grammar work and language: Fairytales and folktales including: Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Ant and the Chrysalis, The Ant and the Grasshopper,Belling the Cat, The Milk Woman and her Pail, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, The Donkey and the Travelor, Once There was a Treee, The Rich Man and the Parrot, The Story of the Jumping Mouse, Zoomer’s Summer Snowsstorm, Hansel and Gretel and the Golden Goose.

2. Reading Program: Dancing Bears A: Section 1.

3. Writing: Spelling sight words, sentence structure, CVC words

4. Math: Number sense, writing numbers, greater than, less than, adding, subtracting, shapes, intro to adding double digits and carrying.

5. Extra research: Whales , birds, air, weather, clouds

6. Art

Sawyer (Grade 3):

1. Waldorf/history/social studies: Intro to Judaism, The calendar, the Jewish Calendar, Days of Creation, Adam and Eve, Cain and Able, Israel, the Middle East, Sukkah, Shelters, Continents, Oceans,

2. Reading: Rebecca, An American Girl (Books 1-3 of 6)

3: Writing: The Write Foundations: Creating Sentences- Including alphabetical order, nouns, verbs, contractions, homonyms, proper nouns, compound subjects and verbs, and compound sentences.  Poetry writing: alphabet poetry, concrete noun poetry, concrete verb poetry, animal motion poetry, personal favorites poetry.

4. Teaching Textbooks: Chapters 1-6 (Grade 3)

5.  Extra: Bird research, Geocaching

6. Spelling: Apples and Pears Level B lessons 1-27

7. Art

Sims (Grade 5):

1. Waldorf/history/social studies: US geography, African geography and general history and folklore, Atlantis, Australian geography and folklore, Aborigines, India, Hinduism, Buddhism, The Deer, the Turtle and the Magpie, Persia (Good versus Evil)

2. Reading: Tales from the Odyssey by Mary Pope Osborne (Books 1-3 of 6), and Dancing Bears Fast track

3.Writing: The Write Foundations: Creating Sentences- Including alphabetical order, nouns, verbs, contractions, homonyms, proper nouns, compound subjects and verbs, and compound sentences.  Poetry writing: alphabet poetry, concrete noun poetry, concrete verb poetry, animal motion poetry, personal favorites poetry.

4. Teaching Textbooks: He started on TT grade 6 and did the first 2 chapters.  He decided to step back and do grade 5 first so he is trying to work through grade 5. Chapters 1-4 completed

5. Outdoor Leadership class at Latta Plantation: weather, outdoor first aid, map and compass, shelter building

6. Spelling: Apples and Pears Level A Lessons 20-58 (10 lessons until he is onto the next level!)

Together, we read My Father’s Dragon, My Side of the Mountain, The Biltmore House Mystery, White Fang and we are in the middle of The Horse’s Boy.  Overall, the year is passing quickly.  I am teaching a lot more language than I ever have before.  We are focusing a lot on reading, writing, and spelling this year.  The kids are using Teaching Textbooks for most of their math.  Sims and Sawyer are working with Parks on math as well using Waldorf and Montessori materials.  Overall, the year is going well.  We are in good rhythm with school work, playing and extra-curricular activities.

Get Out the Planner….Part Two

In my last post, I spoke about the philosophies we tend to follow in our home in regards to schooling.  Today, let’s get into the nitty gritty…curriculum.

For the first time, we are going to loosely follow a science curriculum.  I have chosen the R.E.A.L Odyssey Earth and Science program and the chemistry program.  Both programs appear fairly hands on with lots of labs-which is a big plus for us.  My plan is to have the Earth and Science curriculum out with all of the needed materials available.  We will go over the big picture lesson together and then they will be able to pick which labs they want to follow up with.  I plan to do chemistry during a block, or maybe two, later in the year. 

The kids are in three very different grades.  This year we will have a first, third and fifth grader!  Parks’ main curriculum will come from the Institute for Excellence’s Primary Art of Language program.  I plan to use the program with a Waldorf Twist.  He will use his main lesson book for the work and we will go through it using folk tales and fairy tales.  For math, he will continue with Singapore math along with Montessori math using materials.  I found a new reading and spelling program this summer that I am very excited to get into.  We already started the reading program and so far it is terrific.  The programs are by Sound Foundations.  The reading program is called Dancing Bears and the spelling is called Apples and Pears. 

The mighty third grader is going to delve into Waldorf Essential’s third year program which focuses on the Jewish religion and the Old Testament.  The fifth grade Waldorf Essential’s program is filled with adventures from ancient civilizations, Greek mythology and geometry.  Along with their Waldorf curriculum, they will do teaching textbooks for math along with Montessori math and Apples and Pears for spelling.  Together, they will also use Institute for Excellence in Writing to begin some more formal writing. 

I am still trying to narrow down which chapter books we will read together.  If you have suggestion, I would love to hear them!  I would love to find a few books with themes that will flow with what they are learning.