Tuesday, August 12, 2014

2014-2015 3rd Grade Homeschool Curriculum

I should probably be a little more ashamed than I am that it has been over a year since I have updated our blog. But honestly, I'm not.. We have been busy living life to the fullest and I would much rather live in the moment than worry about writing it all down! But, I really do enjoy it so I will be trying to pay a little more attention to my poor, left-behind blog.

Last week, Elli and I dove into our fourth year of homeschooling! I can't believe we have made it this far, we are halfway through elementary school! I never would have imagined I would be homeschooling my children, or that I would enjoy spending all of my time with them, but I really do love seeing the passion they both have for learning and I am so grateful to be their teacher.

This year, I have decided to bring Evan to the homeschool table a little more formally than years past. He is very eager leaner! He has already learned all of his alphabet letters, numbers 1-10, and recognizes about 30+ sight words. And this is all despite of his very big speech delay! His lessons are still more play and less structured but he is just thrilled to be able to sit at the table with Sissy.

The biggest curriculum changes we made for Elli this year were switching out math, reading, science, and history. There was nothing wrong with the curriculum we have used in the past, but it wasn't my favorite, or Elli's favorite for that matter. I am always asked which curricula we have chosen so here is our list for our 2014-15 3rd grade year:

Math: Teaching Textbooks 3. We had previously used Rightstart Math and enjoyed the hands on approach, however I did not enjoy all of the prep work. Elli also seemed to tire easily from the games and lessons because she grasped the concepts so quickly. Teaching Textbooks is totally new to us. It's a computer based program that is very interactive and keeps her smiling throughout the entire lesson. I can easily check her assignments and progress on the grade book as well. Elli is very eager to begin school with math every day!

Reading: Another huge change for us this year was switching from Horizons Reading & Phonics to BJU Reading 3. The teacher manual is much easier to follow and instruct from and the student worksheets are short but do a great job reinforcing the lesson. Elli was not a fan of the Horizons curriculum and seems to enjoy our new selection! Fingers crossed this continues as we progress to more challenging work.

Language Arts/Writing: This year we are continuing with the next levels of First Language Lessons & Writing With Ease. Both books are easy to follow along as a teacher and are short enough to keep Elli's attention.

Spelling: You know how some people are just naturally good spellers? And others really struggle to spell the most basic of words? My sweet Elli falls into the second category, poor thing. Spelling has just never clicked for her. We started All About Spelling level 3 last week and I am just so thrilled with the progress she has made using this program. It really is one of the best, easiest homeschool curriculum available. I highly recommend using AAS if you are new to homeschooling. We have used it from the beginning and it is excellent.

History: Ok, first let me say that I love Confessions of a Homeschooler just as much as any other HS mom. I do, honestly. But last year we decided to use her Roadtrip USA curriculum and it was such a disaster for us. The lessons are so long, there is so much prep work involved, too many options and activities to choose from. It was just  overwhelming. This year we have decided to switch to the Time Travelers studies, New World Explorers and Colonial Life. The program is on a CD and you can easily print out your lessons for the week with little prep work involved. I think it is very age and skill appropriate for older elementary school aged kids.

Science: Another big change to our lessons this year is our science curriculum. We have never used any Apologia curriculum before. History and Science are two subjects I feel Elli should have an opinion on so I allowed her to choose what she wanted to study this year. No surprise here, my beach babe asked to learn about the Ocean. We are using Apologia's Exploring Creation with Zoology 2: Swimming Creatures. Yes, technically you should probably follow the books in order (this curriculum is biblical based and follows science through Creation) but we are rebels so what the heck, right? We are splitting the lessons up into 4 days, 2 days per week and so far we both love it. It reads well and the elementary journal that accompanies the lessons is perfect for Elli. We are very much looking forward to many field trips to Sea World this year!

Foreign Language: I would say the biggest change to our curriculum this year is the addition of Spanish. We will be using Rosetta Stone this year. Kids are sponges and this is the perfect time for Elli to tackle another language. I have no doubt she will be fluent in Spanish soon! If you are looking to start foreign language studies at home, I highly recommend Rosetta Stone! It is a great program.

So, there you have it! I will report back in a few months with longer reviews on each program once we have used each of the new books for longer than a week. ;)