(Please note that I have linked to book lists on the AmblesideOnline website to respect their licensing terms and the hard work they’ve put into such an amazing curriculum that they offer for free. Books that use affiliate links here are not listed on AmblesideOnline.)
Third grade, and Form I with it, are a wrap! What a strange end to the year, though. Almost our entire third term co-op meetings took place via Zoom which was both good and bad. It was nice not to have to make the drive those Friday mornings, or frantically clean my house on the Thursdays before we were scheduled to host, but it was hard not being with our people and doing everything on a screen presented other problems as well. Still, I am so thankful for the technology that allowed us to keep going with co-op and for my kids to be able to see their friends.
As I mentioned in my term 2 recap post, I decided to try having a sabbath week in the middle of the term and I think it was a great thing for us. I’ve already planned out our schedule for next year and included sabbath weeks in the middle and at the end of each term there as well, so this is a practice we’ll continue doing.
There were so many times this term when I was so thankful that we homeschool, beyond the gratitude that I normally feel. Knowing that my kids’ days were not really all that affected by COVID-19, other than their dad working from home every day (a good thing!), was at least one less thing we had to worry about in all of this mess.
And now the recap….
This year we read about Moses and the Exodus as well as the book of Luke. I really enjoyed how reading through Exodus and Numbers felt a lot like reading the story of Moses’s life. There is so much I learned here right along with B and I feel like this gave him an excellent foundation for all of the things we’ll read later, but also continued very well the story of how God has used the Jewish people to bless the entire world.
Luke was a lot of “review” for B, or so he felt. Many of his narrations began with him saying something along the lines of us already having read a certain part. So I explained to him how there are four gospels and he’ll be hearing these stories again. And again. And again… (I hope, anyway. ) I am glad that I’ll have another commentary to read along with Mark next year, but it was also nice to have a break from reading two commentaries at the same time to prepare for our Bible time.
Again, I can’t recommend the J. Paterson Smyth commentaries enough. While I don’t agree with everything he writes, I so appreciate the refreshing view on stories I have heard my whole life, yet am only realizing I didn’t fully understand until now. I love that I can offer these views to my kids from an early age.
In American history, we learned about early European exploration in North and South America and the eventual colonization of North America. We read about Jamestown and the Plymouth colony (as well as briefly about other, smaller colonies) and all of the challenges (and some failures) surrounding those.
In European history, we read about the European perspective of North American colonization. We also learned more about the British monarchs from Henry VIII to to George II (including a LOT about Queen Elizabeth I). And we read a few short biographies of people involved with the Reformation.
B has been much more engaged with This Country of Ours and Our Island Story readings this term, even though he still groans when I take them out. I think keeping the monarchs straight has definitely been a challenge for him, so I used the whiteboard a lot more this term, taping off the middle so we had four sections where we kept track of different names in different books that were important to our reading. This helped a little but when it came time for exams, he struggled with questions about specific monarchs. Admittedly, I have even had a hard time keeping them all straight. A few people have posted charts with all of the British monarchs on the AO Forum that have helped them, so when C’s turn comes around for this, I may use one of those. B’s American history narrations and exam answers, however, were very good, so that’s encouraging.
I continue on with my recommendation to pre-read This Country of Ours, Our Island Story, and Trial and Triumph. They were much tamer in term 3 than in past terms, but there were still parts I’d be wary of reading to a sensitive third grader and, at least on our part, required some editing.
This year we read biographies about Leonardo da Vinci, Queen Elizabeth I, William Shakespeare, and the Pilgrims.
In term 3 we read about the landing of the Pilgrims and it was interesting to hear a more thorough story than the summary of their landing and first few years here that I got when I was in school. I’d recommend, again, pre-reading Landing of the Pilgrims as, while the overall story I think is good from the point of view of the Pilgrims, there are definitely racial slurs (eg. “savage,” “red man,” etc.) that are easily replaced with more respectful terms like “Native American,” “man,” or even using their nation name, eg. Patuxet There is also a particularly violent scene toward the end of the book between Captain Standish and Wituwamat that I felt it was necessary to tone down and I skipped over some of the more lurid details.
We read the biography of Marco Polo over the course of this year and explored 14-century China (the Yuan dynasty!). We also learned about different climates and how the shape and tilt of the earth affects them. And we learned about the lines of longitude and latitude as well as different types of room/city plans and basic maps.
Marco Polo was not a hit for B, except near the end. While he found a lot of the descriptions interesting and amusing at times, I think he had a hard time keeping all of the different places straight in his mind. I did have a map of Marco Polo’s travels that we looked at in the beginning, but it wasn’t particularly detailed so we essentially only pulled it out a few times. I think when it’s C’s turn for this book, I will try to find a more detailed map for us to use.
When learning about room and city plans, as well as overall maps, I highly recommend doing the exercises in Long’s Geography and Charlotte Mason’s Geography that are offered in the readings listed on the AO website as I think these really help cement those ideas in little heads. B hemmed and hawed and complained to no end when I told him he had to draw a map of an imaginary country for his exam, but he has a hard time with more abstract tasks and, eventually, he made a very nice map.
This year in natural history and science, we learned about hermit crabs, the properties of water, and woodland animals.
In term 3, we all really liked the stories in Secrets of the Woods. I really appreciated the balanced point of view the book offered from a man who did hunt the animals, but who was also respectful of the wildlife he was hunting. Admittedly, though, I was very thankful he didn’t actually shoot anything in the book!
I also found it helpful to to find videos of the animals we were learning about if they weren’t familiar to us. In particular, for the ruffed grouse, I found a video of the males drumming that really helped us picture the bird in the story better.
This year in literature, we read a nice variety of books that were a range of enjoyment levels for B.
In term 3, we finished The Heroes with the story of Theseus which B liked the least of the three contained in the book. While he, again, grumbled about narrating and said he didn’t like the book as a whole in the end, there were several parts where he was definitely emotionally invested in the story. This one is another book that I’d recommend pre-reading as there are definitely violent parts in it.
In Parables of Nature, we read a few stories, but I thought “Kicking” and “Imperfect Instruments” were probably two of my favorites that we’ve read from that book. B doesn’t care for it, but he gave good narrations so I’m hoping the lessons learned stay in that little brain and reveal their deeper messages some day.
The Jungle Book, after “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” (which we’ve read several times before), wasn’t much of a success and neither of us liked the story of the seal, especially the fairly graphic description of clubbing. I’d recommend pre-reading this.
And we finally finished both parts of Pilgrim’s Progress! It was a challenge at times, but I thought it was a good read and despite the fact that the language can be tough, B gave mostly good narrations, only really struggling when there was a lot of dialog. I’m very glad we included this one in our readings over the last two years as, admittedly, when we started it in year 2, I was really second-guessing keeping it.
In co-op, for Shakespeare we read the Lambs’ version of Pericles, Prince of Tyre (this was the second time for B as we read it at home earlier this year) and Nesbit’s version of Much Ado About Nothing at home. I chose Nesbit mainly for time constraints. If the play is a comedy, I generally go with Lambs, but if its a comedy or we’re short on time, I got with Nesbit as her versions are generally shorter and less descriptive. Hamlet was also on the AO schedule for this year, but we read it last year in co-op, so I decided to skip it this time around.
Over the year we read the poetry of William Blake, Sara Teasdale, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. In term 3, I decided to read poetry from a Longfellow book we already owned, however, I think in the future I’ll stick to the AO schedule as this didn’t work well for us. We read a few of his shorter poems and then spent the second part of the term reading The Courtship of Miles Standish which was so long that we didn’t finish it. It also contains a recount of the fight between Standish and Witawamat that I mentioned above. I think if it had been a larger anthology of his poetry, it would’ve been better, but since it was really just a sort of “greatest hits” it didn’t work well in this setting.
We did not finish RightStart Level D, but that was to be expected. This was mainly due to the fact that we only do 20 minutes of math per day and B is sometimes very slow, especially when doing the practice/review problems. He is definitely, however, making progress and always does very well on his assessments (which RightStart does throughout the year) and worksheets. He does get so very, very frustrated, though, so I am thankful that we’re able to take this slowly. We will be working on it over the summer at a lesson per day so I hope that we’ll be ready for Level E in the fall.
We continued with cursive through the end of the year. I used the now defunct Yahoo AO copywork group to create copywork sheets in cursive on worksheetworks.com with every other line having the text that he was to copy on the line below it. Even though I thought his handwriting was fine at the beginning of the year, I can still see improvements in his letter formation between then and now so I’m gald this is part of our daily routine.
We continue with B taking 10 minutes per day to read outloud. I used the additional reading suggestions on AO for a Year 3-4 student after we finished the third Treadwell reader earlier this year. This term we started The Matchlock Gun, but I didn’t care for the content, so we switched to The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen by Lloyd Alexander, who was one of my favorite authors when I was a kid. This one has been a hit so far, though we weren’t able to finish it before the end of the year so I am debating having him read it outloud over the summer. He is, of course, resistant to this idea.
This year for Spanish, we alternated days by watching a Salsa video on Mondays (the same one 3 weeks in a row), then doing an activity for that episode from the Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) materials on Wednesday, and then also singing a song from De Colores on Tuesdays and Thursdays (one song per month). I think this worked a lot better for us at this age than what we’ve done in the past, so we’ll be continuing with this routine next year. I used the kindergarten pace mentioned in the WDE guides for C, so we’ll move that up to the first grade level next year. This year they learned basic parts of conversation, colors, and parts of their head as well as other random words. They also like singing their Spanish songs over and over again until they are permanently stuck in mama’s head.
We did a little bit of a gamut of activities this year in nature study. In the first term we went along with the AmblesideOnline nature study schedule and learned about cultivated crops by reading parts of The Handbook of Nature Study and watching videos that went with that crop (in co-op, we studied wildflowers). In the second term, I decided to use one of Joy Cherrick’s nature study guides and we learned about weather (we were also studying this in our co-op), and in the third term, I decided to give us a little break and we only did our co-op nature study assignments which were about birds. We’ve studied birds before, but this term we went a little more in-depth on the different parts of birds, rather than different kinds of birds, and I think this was a nice way to round out our education on our feathered friends. It was also nice to have a lighter load since we were not doing both our co-op assignments and the additional lessons from the nature study guides each week, especially as it ended up being difficult for us to go on hikes or walks due to COVID-19.
Timelines was an epic failure this year. I think I had B color in about two squares of his personal history. Not good. In the fall, he’ll be starting on his own Book of Centuries and adding items from our readings, so I hope I am more diligent about that. I hope…..
I’ve been making them slightly longer and longer and he has been reciting them very well, so I’ll continue on that path. I’d love to get to the point where he picks his own pieces for recitations, but he’s not all that interested. Over the summer, I plan to read Maria Bell’s article on recitation more thoroughly and give our own practice of it a revamp for next year.
Brushdrawing, which B does for fifteen minutes every Wednesday, started so well last year and he was making beautiful paintings, but then as we got further into it, it became less and less neat. I’m not sure if this is because we switched paint. Initially, when he was doing the red blobs, I was using a fairly expensive watercolor paint I bought several years ago. I’m a firm believer in providing high-quality art supplies for my kids, but I felt I had to make a tiny bit of a compromise when it came to the watercolor paints as each one of those little tubes really adds up! I tried two different kids of paint and the first brand smelled horrible. It was really, really awful and I ended up throwing the whole thing away. The second brand was better in the aroma department, but the quality of the paint was questionable. I may explore other options over the summer as I know it’s frustrating to him also when his paintings are sloppy.
Over the course of this year, we studied Claude Monet (and were able to see an enormous exhibition of his paintings in January at the Denver Art Museum with our co-op), Emily Carr, and, in term 3, Norman Rockwell. I originally scheduled Norman Rockwell because there was another exhibition scheduled for May at the Denver Art Museum with many of his paintings, including the four freedoms, but they closed the museum in March due to COVID-19 and it hasn’t been open since. It was still a good term of art, however, as we studied the following:
- The Catch (1919)
- Painting the Little House (1921)
- Freedom from Fear (1943)
- Rosie the Riveter (1943)
- Golden Rule (1961)
- The Problem We All Live With (1963)
We continued having a little drawing session every Monday for fifteen minutes, simply going through the book and doing a new object or animal each week. Sometimes C would join us and sometimes not, but I think it’s not only a nice way to build up his drawing skills, but is also a good way to alternate the types of lessons we’re doing (eg. reading/drawing/reading/something else/etc.).
We did Swedish Drill once per week one Tuesdays during the year and then again when we met for co-op on Fridays. In term 3, we finished learning the first official routine. I think next year I’d like to do this more than just one time per week as it was actually scheduled three times per week in the PUS and I think the movement is good for ALL of us.
B completed three pastel drawings this year which we learned by watching videos. I think he really liked the first two, which were a meadow scene and a mountain scene, but he did not like the last one, a rooster, as much. This was mainly because he had a hard time blending the pastels after having put on so many layers, and that was very frustrating for him. The rooster didn’t turn out quite how he liked, so he really did not enjoy this project. Still, I think he learned a good amount about pastels and can hopefully extend that knowledge to other areas of art.
This year we learned about Claude Debussy, Aaron Copland, and, in term 3, Miles Davis. We get our composter study instruction during co-op, so we spent part of our co-op meetings listening to jazz. It was interesting to learn more about Davis’s life as I knew virtually nothing about it before this term. Also, he tied in so well with our folksongs (see below) and Norman Rockwell picture study (particularly the last two images).
Our hymns for term 3 were 40 Days and 40 Nights and This Joyful Eastertide. I appreciated that the leader of hymns in our co-op chose to include ones that fit along with the liturgical calendar this year.
B and I decided that for the sake of shortening our school time in the morning, we’d move his lessons to the afternoon, so he has been responsible for making sure he gets them done every day. He’s still plugging away, though it has definitely become more challenging for him. I’ve been impressed by the fact that he has continued to persevere with the lessons, even though they are sometimes difficult. In particular, the recordings that play along with the practice sessions are too fast for him at this point, so he has learned to pause and play as he can. Usually when something is especially challenging for him, he wants to quit, but this has not been the case with piano.
Also, we’re still really liking Hoffman Academy. It was especially nice to have online lessons when all of the stay-at-home orders began!
And here we are at the end of another year. It’s hard to believe we’ve been doing this for four years now, but as we get further and further into it, I’m so glad we chose this path!