Third Grade Plans

My 8 year old son will be doing mostly 5th grade level work, with some accommodation for his 8 year old motor skills.  We are mostly doing the next level of things that worked well last year.

Math: We will be continuing with Primary Mathematics 5A this fall.  We had good luck last spring with accelerating math to double speed by losing the workbook and only doing the problems in the textbook.  We supplement with the old Challenging Word Problems books that, unfortunately, are out of print (but I bought a whole set back when Son8 was in level 1).  Son8 seems to retain the material well, is able to apply the concepts flexibly, and seems to be much happier going at a faster pace with less repetition.  In fact, there is research backing the idea that gifted math students do better with this approach (see this link).

Literature: We enjoyed the Ruby level of Mosdos literature last year, with its wonderful stories and beautiful pictures, so it was a no-brainer to continue on with the Coral level.  In fact, in reviewing the Coral level, I discovered that it seems to be doing a much better job with presenting literary elements than the Ruby level, so I’m excited about starting.  Son8 will even be doing some of the writing assignments, though I did not get the workbook.   He will also be reading books he chooses from a pile of classic literature that I just happen to have lying around here somewhere.

Grammar, Writing, and Vocabulary: To say that we loved Michael Clay Thompson’s language arts materials last year would be a huge understatement.  While there seems to be a huge jump between the Island level that we used last year and the Town level this year, we will go slowly; my plan is spread this level over one and a half years, finishing in the middle of 4th grade.  The writing component will focus on paragraph writing, which can only be a good thing.

Spelling: I’m stewing about spelling, which is completely nuts because Son8 is really good at it.  Unfortunately, he isn’t good enough for us to just drop it.  We tried Spelling Power last year, which from my perspective was great because he only had to study the words he didn’t get right on the pretest.  The problem was that when he didn’t get a word right on the pretest, he would throw a fit.  So no more Spelling Power.  Megawords is a workbook program for grades 4 and up and deals with, well, big words.  It teaches spelling rules and he’ll only be tested on words that he has studied.

Latin: We will be finishing volume 1 of Lively Latin and supplementing with Minimus Secondus.  Lively Latin has been straightforward and gentle.  I love having the pronunciation CD.  And best of all, it has been a wonderful complement to our grammar and vocabulary studies.  Son8 enjoys it and is actually quite good at it.

History: Instead of doing a four year history cycle, we will be doing three this first time around, consolidating the time period 1650 to present into a single year.  We will do this by going quickly through events from World War I on.  I have a few reasons for this.  First, I’m just not wanting to do deeply into the darker side of human nature with someone whose age is not in the double digits yet.  Also, for the past few years we have been enjoying supplementing Story of the World with picture books.  The visual element has added much to our study of history, and frankly, there just aren’t that many resources available for that time period.  Another reason is that I plan to break out American history as a separate study after we’re done with world.  Again, most supplemental resources for 8 year olds focus on the American side of things.  All of this is to say that we will use Story of the World volume 3 for about two thirds of the year and follow it with the last half of K12‘s History 4 course, which will bring us up to the present.

Science: We had quite a bit of luck with K12’s science courses aimed at grades 1-3, but last year when we did level 4, I started becoming less and less impressed with it until, finally, halfway through the year, I gave up on it altogether.  I decided to make the switch to Science Explorer this year, rather than in 4th grade as originally planned because, frankly, I was afraid if I waited a year, I might only get a year out of the program.  When I used it with Son14 back when he was in 5th grade, he was constantly telling me how underchallenging it was.  This way, I’m pretty sure to get two–and maybe even a full three–years out of the program.  We will be doing the earth science books this year: Weather and Climate, Earth’s Waters, Astronomy, Inside Earth, and Earth’s Changing Surface.  Actually, we’ve already finished the weather and climate book, and it’s been a good kind of challenging.

For hands on work, I’ve decided to have Son8 do several Science in a Nutshell kits.  These kits normally drive me nuts because they are inquiry-based which is edu-speak for “there are no right answers.”  But I think Son8 could use the relaxed approach that I intend to take with these kits.  So while I hope it goes well, I’m not completely convinced, and have only ordered two of the eight I intend to use.  They are: Water Cycle, Oceans in Motion, Destination Moon, Planets and Stars, Our Changing Earth, Rock Origins, Soil Studies, and Fossil Formations.

So that’s it.  I’m hoping for a year that is challenging but not too challenging.  My biggest goal for Son8 this year is to increase his stamina for writing–I’d like for him to be able to write three paragraphs in a sitting and to not freak out if he is required to write more than he deems necessary for math.  I actually thing that the three paragraph thing is more likely to occur.  We’ll see.

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2 Responses to Third Grade Plans

  1. Jenny says:

    How did you end up liking the Science in a nutshell kits? I’m thinking of ordering one.

    • I find that most of the Nutshells we’ve used over the years are mediocre at best as far as the activities go. There have been a few that were excellent–Clever Levers and Oceans in Motion come to mind. I do appreciate that the materials are generally of good quality and that I rarely have to supply more than water.

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