Jun 192014
 

Third Grade Curriculum

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

It is hard for me to believe that my baby girl will be in the 3rd grade this fall! Lizzie is, for the most part, a cooperative student. She grasps new concepts quickly, and she doesn’t mind writing things down. She liked having her own school desk in the living room this year and did well with most of the curriculum, so we’ll be continuing on with much of the same for her third grade curriculum.

Third Grade Curriculum MathMath

She is a natural at math and enjoys it. Singapore and Miquon have been a great fit for her. She’ll be working in Singpore 3A and 3B as well as the final two Miquon books: Yellow and Purple.

Third Grade Curriculum Language Arts

Language Arts

I love All About Spelling. It’s super easy to use and works well for both the natural speller and the struggling speller. Lizzie will be using Level 3 this fall.

I have fallen in love with Memoria Press Literature guides. She worked through most of the 2nd grade ones this year and will be starting with Mr. Popper’s Penguins in the fall. Then we’ll be using Farmer Boy, The Moffat’s and Charlotte’s Web. All great books!

For handwriting, she’ll be using New American Cursive 3 also from Memoria Press. She has done amazingly well. This is the first time I’ve strayed from Handwriting without Tears. I like the appearance of New American Cursive so much better!

Rod & Staff English is a favorite in our house. With her literature lessons and Latin studies, she really doesn’t need the complete course. I’ll be using it as a supplement though.

Third Grade Curriculum Latin and BibleLatin

I have become a fan of Memoria Press Latin series after initially rejecting it for my oldest son. (I’m still not sure that was a bad decision. Different children learn best with different approaches.) I like the no-nonsense approach of Memoria Press. Lizzie finished Prima Latina this year and will be moving on to Latina Christiana I.

Bible

I’m trying something new this year. We’re starting Classical Academic Press’s Bible curriculum called God’s Great Covenant – Old Testament 1. We haven’t started of course, but I think Lizzie and William are going to like it.  I’ll give a more thorough opinion after use.

Now this leaves the things that I have really struggled with getting done. History and science require more time and effort from me. I really like the resources that I own and I want to give myself another chance to make it work. I am planning on making these as low key as possible, but I don’t feel like I can continue to ignore these subjects with my younger students. I hope to keep these as simple as possible.

Third Grade Curriculum History and ScienceHistory

We will be reading The Story of the World Volume 1. I own the audio version as well, so I may not actually be doing the reading. Along with that we’ll be using the activity guide for note booking exercises and I am hoping to implement a “book basket” with related resources for independent reading time.

Science

I’m sticking with my old favorite Apologia Elementary here too. We’ll be working through 1 or more of the zoology books next year. I will have a book basket with more titles there as well.

 

Jan 072013
 

Homeschooling Hearts & Minds Virtual Curriculum Fair ButtonI’m participating in the Virtual Curriculum Fair at Homeschool Heart and Mind again this year because I can’t get enough curriculum talk!

This is our 10th year of homeschooling and during that time we’ve used a lot of different resources for language arts. Some I’ve used with more than one child, other things have been just what one particular child needed. I’ve linked to reviews of the products that I’ve written. Other links are to ChristianBook.com where you can see the price. (Those are affiliate links, so I will make a small amount of money if you make a purchase.)

Let’s start with Phonics!

With my oldest son David, we used  Alpha Phonics. He was ready to learn to read and this simple book was all he needed.

When my daughter Anna was ready to learn to read, I bought Phonics Pathways. Honestly there was no reason to switch from Alpha Phonics except that I like curriculum and Phonics Pathways was recommended (at that time) in The Well Trained Mind.

Both of these books are very similar with one major difference. Alpha Phonics teaches with word families cat, bat, fat, rat while Phonics Pathways starts at the beginning of the word and teaches starting syllables – ba, be, bi, bo, bu and then adds letter to the end making bat, bet, bit, and but.

Then came William. He has had a very difficult time learning to read. I tried both of the above resources with him with no success. I had some limited success with Happy Phonics, but what has been by far the single most helpful resource for his reading was All About Spelling. Yes,  I know it’s a spelling program, but it seemed like it was just the thing to help him to understand decoding words in reading.

With Lizzie I have been blessed. She has learned to read without me teaching her! Some of it was her older brother and sister working with her and some of it was working on various on-line programs like Starfall, Reading Kingdom, and Reading Eggs. But I think a lot of it was that she was ready to learn.

It’s still too early to predict anything about my just turned 2 year old. But if interest in letters and liking to be read to are any indications of ease in learning to read, he will be a cinch!

 

What about Grammar?

With my 2 older children I have used identical resources for grammar study. They both started out with First Language Lessons and followed that by several years worth of Rod & Staff English. They’re both finishing off their English grammar studies with Analytical Grammar. It’s a rigorous program, but I love the philosophy of the author. She contends that grammar is a content subject with a body of knowledge to learn. So rather than learning and relearning the same things every year, why not learn all the grammar and be done with it? It is very heavy on diagramming of sentences. I won’t lie and say that my children love this program. BUT they do love the fact that they don’t have to do daily grammar lessons all year long. They do their intensive lessons, occasional review, and they’re done.

With William I have been very slowly working through Rod & Staff. I can’t see him doing well with Analytical Grammar, so we will probably continue with Rod & Staff the whole way through. The repetition and review that made my older children long for Analytical Grammar will probably be a great help for him.

I have been working through First Language Lessons some with Lizzie this year, but I’m finding it a bit more repetitive than I remembered. We’re often going over 3 or 4 lessons in one sitting. One new resource that I’m really enjoying is StoryTime Treasures from Memoria Press. It is covering some grammar along with reading comprehension questions.

Don’t forget Latin!

We have been studying Latin for a long time in our homeschool. Maybe too long.

Do I regret starting early with my oldest?

No.

Could he have learned as much starting later?

Probably.

David used Classical Academic Press curriculum for Latin. He started with Latin for Children and completed A, B, and most of C. Then he moved on to Latin Alive. That didn’t go as well. He made it through book 1 and about half of book 2, but he really was struggling with the material. Part of it was my fault and not being more strict about drill. Part of it is his personality. He really is just not that interested in Latin. But this year I have found a course that he is enjoying much more: Visual Latin. We didn’t start all the way at the beginning, but we did back up a bit to insure that he got a good review.

With Anna, it has been completely different. She started in Latin for Children, but when I received Latina Christiana to review, I switched her to that. It turns out that she thrives in the drill-heavy Memoria Press programs. If you’re trying to decide on a Latin program, you might find this comparison helpful.

If you’ve made it through my lengthy post, congratulations! Don’t miss reading other tips for teaching language arts. Here’s a list!

Nurturing Novelists = Building Strong Writers by Susan Anadale @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Building Blocks of Education–Learning to Read  by Kristi Kerr @ The Potter’s Hand Academy

Finding Our Way Through Language Arts by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

How Does a Unit Study Teach Language Arts? by Nicole @ Schooling in the Sun

Our Language Arts Adventure by Linda @ Homeschooling6

2013 Virtual Curriculum Fair-Playing with Words: The Language Arts by Leah Courtney @ As We Walk Along the Road

Virtual Curriculum Fair-Playing with Words by Karyn @ Teach Beside Me

Virtual Curriculum Fair ~ Language Arts by Dawn @ Guiding Light Homeschool

Writing Help in a Critical Thinking book? by Missouri Mama @ Ozark Ramblings

Virtual Curriculum Fair: Foreign Language Immersion in the Homeschool by Tonia @ The Sunny Patch

Formula for Reading by Erin @ Delighting in His Richness

Words and Learning by Annette @ A Net In Time

A Custom Designed High School English Credit by Tech Wife @ A Playground of Words

Virtual Curriculum Fair 2013: Still Loving Language Arts by Pam @ Everyday Snapshots

Word Play by Lisa @ Golden Grasses

Learning Language Arts ~ 2012-2013 School Year by Laura O in AK @ Day by Day in Our World

Virtual Curriculum Fair – The Language Arts Department by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory

Playing with Words:  The Language Arts by Christa Darr @ Fairfield Corner Academy: The Story of Our Life

Playing with Words:  Language Arts by April @ Coffee, Cobwebs and Curriculum

What Language Arts looks like in our house – Are we doing it right? by Hillary M @ Our Homeschool Studio

Getting lost and finding our way in Language Artsby Piwi Mum @ Learning and growing the Piwi Way

 

Oct 162011
 

When you tell people that you’re teaching Latin to your children, you get a variety of responses.

People who don’t homeschool tend to think it’s a bit odd and usually lump you into the category of parents who push their kids too much in academics. (OK, so they don’t say that exactly, but you can imagine the look accompanied with the standard, “Oh, really? Why? Isn’t Latin a dead language?” comments.)

People who do homeschool have usually heard of other homeschoolers who teach their kids Latin, so they’re not usually as surprised. But their reactions tend to vary based on their own homeschool philosophies. On one end you have those who think that you need to relax more. That is contrasted with those on the other end of the spectrum, who want to know what Latin curriculum you use, because they’re either planning to, or are already teaching Latin too. I’m always eager to talk about curriculum, so I much prefer the latter.

A few years ago, there were not very many options for Latin study. It seems that more people are recognizing the value of teaching Latin, and as a result, more companies have begun offering Latin programs specifically designed for homeschoolers. While it is fantastic to have so many options, it can make choosing curriculum a daunting task.

Visual Latin

One of the newer Latin programs is Visual Latin. I had heard nothing but positive things about this new program, so I was excited to take a look at it for myself.

I received Lessons 1-10 of Latin 1 to review. (The entire Latin I course consists of 30 lessons.) Each of these lessons is divided into 3 video segments. The first segment introduces the topic and discusses the basic grammar. The second segment has sentences, and the third segment is Latin reading. Also included for each lesson are worksheets in pdf form.

I received the downloaded version of these lessons. (DVD’s are also available.) These can be watched on the computer or on the television if you are able to connect your computer. (That’s what we did.) They can also be watched on an iPod or iPad. I wish I had an iPad to test it out on. I didn’t try it out on my iPod, because I don’t typically find it a very convenient way to watch videos.

My two older children have been studying Latin for several years now. (They’re on different levels using different programs. But that’s a story for another day.) Since neither of them are beginning Latin students, I didn’t have a child who could truly test this product. (My younger children are not ready for Latin because they’re not reading well enough in English yet.) But I had my older son (13 years old) view the videos with  me. I choose him so that he could start the year with a little basic review, and so that I could get his opinion of the program. (I also needed him to help me hook my laptop up to the television.)

Visual Latin

What did we think?

First, Dwane Thomas, the instuctor, is very funny. He also explains the concepts well. But we both especially enjoyed his humor.

This approach to Latin is entirely different from that in any of the other curricula I’m familiar with. Rather than starting with memorizing noun or verb endings, Dwane starts with examples of whole sentences and demonstrates the different endings by showing many examples. It definitely is a more interesting approach.

Did I mention how funny Dwane is?

The downloads were convenient and easy to use. You are allowed to make enough copies of the worksheets for your immediate family. That is a significant savings over purchasing consumable worktexts.

What I can’t say is if this different approach to learning Latin is effective or not. I can’t say because there wasn’t anything unfamiliar in the lessons that we studied, which the exception of a few vocabulary words. I tried to imagine myself not knowing Latin. I don’t know if I would be confused or not. What I suspect is that this program is super for some types of learners, but some children may prefer a more traditional program.

I think that if my older son were just now starting Latin, Visual Latin would be at the top of my list. (And I have 3 more children who will be studying Latin in the future.)

The good news is, you can take a look at this program for yourself before you buy it. Visual Latin allows you to download free sample lessons. Or, if you don’t want to download lessons, you can watch a complete lesson on their website.

You can purchase the lessons in groups of 10 to download. Each 10 lesson set is $25. That cost is quite a bit less than buying videos and texts for the other Latin programs I’ve used. (You do have to print the texts yourself.)

 

Disclosure: I receiving 10 lessons of Visual Latin to review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own. This post contains affiliate links.

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Aug 102010
 

I like to use the term “Relaxed Classical” to describe our homeschooling style. It’s a description that you may or may not consider accurate depending on your perspective. A relaxed homeschooler wouldn’t find us very relaxed, but we’re not as disciplined with our memory work as a strict classical educator. However, one classical subject that we’ve made a priority in our home is Latin. But I’ve always sought out Latin curricula to make learning Latin enjoyable for my children. That is why when we first started Latin with my oldest son 5 years ago, I chose Latin for Children. The videos especially helped to make Latin fun and interesting.

Fast forward 5 years. My older 2 children are doing well in their Latin curricula, but I have yet to start my younger son in Latin. He’s going to be in 3rd grade, and both of my older children started Latin for Children by the 3rd grade. However, his current reading level and understanding of grammar would make Latin for Children impossible for him. I could have just waited, but I like to start Latin study early. It seems that children are generally more excited to start learning a foreign language at a young age. With that in mind, I was looking for a more gentle introduction to Latin for my 8 year old. What I found was Song School Latin.

Song School Latin, like Latin for Children, is published by Classical Academic Press. It is written as an introductory Latin program for students in K-3. The text contains 31 chapters with black and white cartoon-style illustrations. Five new vocabulary words are introduced per chapter except for review chapters. Each chapter’s vocabulary is based upon a theme. Some example chapter themes are household items, manners, pets, and Christmas words. It also introduces very basic grammar like “What is a noun?”.

The text itself is very fun and gentle, but what really sets Song School Latin apart is the music. There is an original song that teaches the vocabulary in each chapter! Many of the songs use familiar tunes and include a man and woman singing accompanied by guitar and violin. They are recorded using both Classical and Ecclesiastical pronunciation. You can listen to samples on the Song School Latin page.

I’m very excited to start my younger son in Latin this year with Song School Latin. He is my most auditory child. He loves music, and I expect he will listen to this CD without much prompting from me. He also is excited and very proud that he will finally be learning Latin like his older brother and sister. I’m sure that little sister (almost 4) will enjoy listening along too.

I definitely need to mention that Classical Academic Press sent me a free copy of Song School Latin in exchange for my honest review. Actually, I would have bought it anyway! (But that’s our little secret.) They also sent me a free copy of Latin Alive Book One to give away. Please stay tuned for instructions to enter that great giveaway!

Linked to: The Homeschool Curriculum Review Roundup.

May 312010
 

As a classical educator, though somewhat relaxed, we have made Latin a consistent subject in our homeschool. While many people do not see the value of teaching Latin, especially in the elementary years, I have found the study of Latin enhances English vocabulary and provides tremendous reinforcement of grammar concepts. Not only that, but I think studying Latin helps to teach systematic thinking and even problem solving, as students have to attack unfamiliar words and determine not only their meanings, but how they’re being used in the sentence. I am very familiar with two elementary Latin programs that are widely used in homeschools. (My oldest son has used one program and my oldest daughter another. This was not because of my dissatisfaction with the first program, but the second was more suited to my daughter’s learning style and personality.) I had not heard of The Great Latin Adventure until about 1 year ago, after both of my older children were well into their respective programs.

The Great Latin Adventure, a two-year introductory Latin course that can be taught to students beginning as early as the 3rd or 4th grade, is published by Classical Legacy Press. It has been successfully used in homeschools, homeschool co-ops, and Christian schools alike. The series uses the classical pronunciation, but can be modified for ecclesiastical. It requires no prior exposure to Latin, but the student should know some basic English grammar such as nouns, verbs, prepositions, and adjectives, and be able to identify sentence subjects and predicates before starting the curriculum. The teacher also does not need to have prior knowledge of Latin to teach this program, but will learn along with the student.

It is so helpful when a curriculum clearly states not only the strengths of the program, but also states from the beginning what the program is not. I am going to quote the summary from the very first page of the teacher’s manual.

The Great Latin Adventure is for Latin beginners in grades 3 or 4 and up. It’s suited to new as well as experienced teachers. Challenging yet incremental, it’s rich in imaginative translation – from and into Latin. Well-written derivative exercises are built into each chapter. Classical pronunciation is taught, and macrons are provided. The Great Latin Adventure is for every educational setting: for homeschools, homeschool co-ops and schools. Thoughtful features make it a pleasure to use. And The Great Latin Adventure supports the goals of Christian parenting.

The Great Latin Adventure is not a self-teaching program or a video program. It’s not a primarily oral or conversational program, nor is it an immersion program. It isn’t a vocabulary-forms-and-chants program. It’s neither an inductive program, nor a program steeped in any king of educational novelty. And it makes no attempt to be a Roman culture or history program.

My thoughts:

The Great Latin Adventure is unlike any other Latin program I have seen. The first difference to mention is the thorough Teacher’s Manual. The Level 1 manual is 454 pages long! It is not an answer key, though it does contain the answers to all the worksheets and quizzes, but really is a manual instructing you how to teach the material. It has a suggested schedule for how to present the material in each chapter. There are even helpful hints on how to use the manual and an explanation of the page numbering system. The notes are much more detailed than any other program I have used. However, I don’t want to imply that there is too much information in the manual. I randomly chose chapter 7 and counted the pages. It contains 7-1/2 pages of teacher notes. Since there are only 12 chapters in Year 1, that is not an overwhelming amount of reading for the teacher to prepare to teach.

The other huge difference between The Great Latin Adventure and other programs is that it only teaches the first declension noun endings and first conjugation verbs (plus an irregular verb). I realize that if you’re not familiar with Latin you have no idea what that means. To put it as simply as possible, Latin is a language where the ending of a word changes depending on its function in the sentence. That’s not like English at all. In English the function is determined by word order. For example,

The boy loves the girl.

The girl loves the boy.

In the first sentence, boy is the subject and girl is the direct object, while in the second sentence, girl is the subject, and boy is the direct object. In Latin, the word order is not what determines the function of the word; the ending determines the function of the word.

Here are the same sentences in Latin.

Puer amat puellam.

Puella amat puerum.

In the first sentence, puer is the word for boy as a subject and puellam is the word for girl as the direct object. In the second sentence puella is the word to use for girl and puerum for boy. In addition to using different endings for the different cases, there are 5 different declensions in Latin. While puella is a first declension noun, puer is a second declension noun, so the endings are different.

Why did I teach this mini Latin lesson? Other elementary Latin programs have the student memorizing endings for at least several of the 5 declensions. (There are 10 endings for each declension.) There is a lot of emphasis placed on memorizing all these different endings. There is not as much emphasis placed on how all the different cases function in a sentence. (Some programs have more than others. One of the programs we’re using has more translation exercises than the other.) The Great Latin Adventure teaches only first declension endings (It does introduce some vocabulary from other declensions, but makes sure to use it only in the case that is used in the vocabulary list.) I find this a very intriguing difference. Is it better to go into more advanced Latin having all your endings memorized, or is it better to have a thorough understanding of the uses of the different cases? I can certainly see the arguments for both sides, but understanding material is, on the whole, much more useful than memorizing. And things that are memorized can be forgotten.

The only possible disadvantage that I find with this program is that it requires teacher input. This is not self-teaching, nor is there a video. So it does require the teacher to be prepared to teach and actually put Latin high enough on the priority list to ensure that time is made to teach it to the student. That is not necessarily a disadvantage, but it could be difficult to implement in a large family if you are unable to combine students.

The Great Latin Adventure can be purchased on the Classical Legacy Press website. The Level 1 Teacher’s Manual is $30 and the Student Book is $15. Both are loose leaf pages and are sold without binders. (You can order them with binders for an extra cost.) Also included is a pronunciation CD. The Level 2 materials are priced that same.

Linked to: The Homeschool Curriculum Review Roundup.

 

Disclosure: This product was provided to our family for free as members of the 2009-2010 Old Schoolhouse Magazine Homeschool Crew. Reviews and opinions expressed in this blog are our own.

Oct 082009
 

We began studying Latin four years ago when my oldest child was in the second grade. I read everything I could find on the different Latin curricula that were available and finally decided on Latin for Children for him. He completed the 3 books in 4 school years and this year he has started Latin Alive, which is a Latin program for middle school students, also published by Classical Academic Press.

Since I was pleased with Latin for Children for my son, I had my daughter start with the program at the beginning of last school year. Later on in the year I received Latina Christiana I from Memoria Press to review. My daughter seemed the obvious choice to try out the program since she wasn’t too far along in Latin for Children. She also didn’t seem to be retaining the information very well, so I figured a little review would be beneficial. As she used Latina Christiana, I noticed that there were some things about the program that made it a better choice for her. So this year she is continuing to use Latina Christiana instead of Latin for Children.

I was reminded of a few things in this process. First, my children are all different and what may work best for one of them may not be the best choice for all of them. Second, I need to look at products with each of the children who will be using the product in mind, not just my oldest child, and not just what I like. Finally, I can’t spend a lot of money on a product and always justify it by saying I’ll use it with all 4 of my children. That may not work.

The rest of the review and a comparison chart of the two programs can be found at The Curriculum Choice.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of the links, I will receive a small percentage.

Jul 132009
 

If you’re a homeschooler you probably are either teaching your kids Latin, planning to teach Latin, or know someone who is teaching Latin. So what is the big deal about Latin? Why are so many people studying it? How can you teach a subject that you know nothing about?

Several good reasons to study Latin are:

  • Learning Latin vocabulary helps with English vocabulary because much of English is of Latin origin
  • Learning Latin makes learning other foreign languages easier.
  • Learning Latin grammar increases the understanding of English grammar.
  • Studying Latin helps develop discipline and logical thought.

In her article Why Study Latin, Cheryl Lowe of Memoria Press explains some of the many benefits of learning Latin.

But how are so many homeschool parents able to teach Latin without knowing it themselves? There has been an explosion of resources for Latin instruction in the last decade. (Truthfully, there has been an explosion of all types of resources for homeschooling in the last decade.) To teach Latin as a parent who is not proficient, you have three basic methods to choose from. One possibility is to have someone else teach Latin. Options include co-ops, classes, on-line instruction, and teaching DVDs. You could also have your student study Latin independently. There are several Latin courses designed to be used in this manner. The final option is for you, the teacher, to learn Latin in order to teach your student.  You can use your child’s curriculum or a more advanced textbook to teach yourself Latin. Several curriculum companies offer seminars to teach parents the basics of Latin quickly in order for them to successfully teach their students. Classical Acadmic Press offers their Latin for Teacher’s Video Course on DVD.

There are many options for Latin curriculum currently available. The following list has many of the popular programs divided by the earliest starting age. They can also be used for the next higher age group. There are short reviews available for many of these programs at Paula’s Archives.

Early elementary:

Prima Latina
Song School Latin
Latin’s Not So Tough
Minimus

Late Elementary:

Latina Christiana
Latin for Children
Latin’s Not So Tough
Lively Latin
Latin Primer
Great Latin Adventure

Middle School:
Latin in the Christian Trivium
First Form Latin
Henle
Latin Alive
Latin Prep
Latin Road to English Grammar
Artes Latinae

High School (or middle school with previous Latin experience)
Wheelocks
Oxford
Cambridge

With such a wide variety of Latin resources available, anyone desiring to teach Latin in their homeschool is likely to find a program that is suited to the age of their children and the style of instruction that they desire.