Homeschool Curriculum for 2014-2015 (3rd/1st)


We are entering our fourth year of homeschooling this September. Agent E will be in 3rd grade. Agent J will be in 1st grade. Agent A will be coming along for the ride.

So far we've been putting together our own inexpensive "curriculum" to follow. This works well for the most part, because we can roll with their changing interests and not feel too committed to any one plan if it's not working.

In a few weeks we are moving to a new state with somewhat tighter regulations, including the need to submit curriculum ahead of time. So, we're doing a little more advanced planning this year than we usually do. This will probably be good for us; we've been kind of struggling with our overall routine and this will give us a little more needed structure.

Per our new state guidelines, for 1st and 3rd grade we are required to teach Math, Language Arts (including Reading, Writing, Spelling, and the English Language), Geography, United States History (including Patriotism and Citizenship), Science, Health Education (including Alcohol, Drug, and Tobacco Misuse; Highway Safety and Traffic Regulations; Bicycle Safety; and Fire and Arson Prevention and Safety), Music, Visual Arts, and Physical Education.

Following is a breakdown of what we intend to study and a few resources we plan to use in each of the aforementioned subjects. We will likely add and change as we go; I consider this to be a good starting point but a work in progress. All topics will be tailored to grade level as appropriate.

For every subject listed we will also Read All the Books. Our preferred method of learning is to read as many books as we can from the library on any given topic we are studying.

Math

We plan to study addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, percentages, money, place value, greater than/less than, skip counting, time and calendar, temperature, estimating and rounding, charts and graphs, perimeter, area, volume, and measurement.

For Agent J we will be using this 1st Grade Math workbook by Workman Publishing (because, seriously, what could be better than learning math with Vader?) as well as a Let’s Grow Smart Addition workbook by Bendon Publishing we picked up at Target for a dollar.

Agent E will be starting her 4th Grade Math Basics workbook by School Zone Publishing Company. (We completed the 3rd grade workbook last year, but I expect to do a lot of review with her as well.)

Some of my favorite websites (for printables as well as games) for elementary grades include KidZone MathWorksheet Works MathematicsTLS Books Math, and ABCya.

Both girls will also enjoy Kindle math games such as Splash Math, Math Bingo, Planet of the Stolen Math, Madagascar Math Ops, and DragonBox Algebra.

Language Arts

Our language arts curriculum will cover reading, writing, spelling, keeping a journal, grammar, sentence structure, parts of speech, punctuation, capitalization, writing paragraphs, alphabetizing, cursive writing, dictionary and thesaurus, poetry, short stories, fables, and fairy tales.

The Agents will do massive amounts of reading of all types of fiction and non-fiction, because that's kind of their thing. I will supplement by sneaking in specific grammar and writing lessons as needed.

Normally we don't really separate out something like "spelling" as a distinct category, we just pick it up as we go along through all the reading we do. But, I'm trying to think in more precise terms for completing our state paperwork, so I'm including more specifics here than I usually would.

We love the Words are CATegorical series by Brian Cleary for learning parts of speech and grammar in a fun way.

For Agent E we will be using a 2nd Grade Writing workbook by Workman Publishing (partly because they only go up to 2nd grade so far and partly because she can use a bit of review in this area) as well as a 3rd Grade Reading Comprehension workbook by Dalmatian Press.

We will also make use of the printables at Worksheet Works English and more games and fun from ABCya.

Geography

For geography we plan to cover maps and globes, continents, countries, the 50 states, oceans, rivers, lakes, mountains, deserts, volcanoes, and islands.

I'm thinking of going with a country a week or state a week thing (or both). We tried this before and kind of got off track, but I know both Agents would enjoy it.

Some resources we already have on hand include a giant wall map of the United States and the world (plus Illustrated Map Guides) by Rand McNally, 50 Great States by Dalmatian Press, and some United States flashcards (because they love them).

We will also use printables and ideas from Worksheet Works Geography and 50states.comI anticipate multiple games of Stack the States being played as well.

US History

We will study patriotism, citizenship, biographies of famous Americans, holidays and traditions, inventions and technology, Native Americans, colonial America, and presidents.

Confession: The Agents don't know the pledge. We will cover that. Ahem. (We do have an American flag. It's actually hanging in the kids' bedroom right now. It flew over a US Navy ship during it's final deployment, which is pretty cool.)

We picked up several mini-fact books at Target (the dollar section at back-to-school time is dangerous) to act as starting points for some things we might cover. The girls, especially Agent E, like to have something to hold and look at get ideas from. We will be using 50 Great States, Presidents of the United States, Famous Events and Symbols of America, Famous Folks of America, and Understanding the Bill of Rights (all by Dalmatian Press) as well as United States and presidents flashcards.

Science

We plan to continue our study of several topics we covered in 1st and 2nd grade for Agent E and add a few new ones. These will include the human body, animals and habitats, plants, dinosaurs, evolution earth, moon, sun, stars, planets, weather, climate, magnets, electricity, light and color, energy, simple machines, and the scientific method.

As with history, we like to use basic fact books as a starting point (and because they are just cool). We picked up titles covering a few of our topics, including Incredible Sea Creatures, Strange and Amazing Plants, and Strange and Amazing Insects (all by Dalmatian Press). We will also use animal and dinosaur flashcards as well as several field guides.

We have used worksheets and printable activities from education.com for various science (and other) topics in the past. (I should add here that the site limits the number of downloads per month unless you are a paid member, which is approximately $48 a year. We have the limited "free" membership, but have considered upgrading.)

Some of our favorite online resources are KidsHealth from NemoursNational Geographic Kids, and Science Kids.

Health

We will first cover the issues required by the state: alcohol, drug, and tobacco misuse; highway safety and traffic regulations; bicycle safety: and fire and arson prevention and safety. Then we will turn to other topics, including basic first aid, safety in the home, safety in the community, nutrition, vitamins and minerals, vaccines, and dental health.

Since much of this is hands-on, it will be mostly conveyed through chatting and demonstrating. Of course we'll read about the issues, too, but I anticipate much of this being "taught" through conversations tailored to our specific home, neighborhood, and family. We will likely go back to the KidsHealth from Nemours website for many of these topics as well.

Music

Music is one of the Agents' favorite subjects. We will look at composers, instruments, musical time periods, and music genres. Perhaps even cover reading music, although this is not a skill of Momma's. They have both expressed interest in starting lessons; I'm not sure if they are quite ready.

Visual Arts

For our study of visual arts we will look at famous artists, paintings, sculptures, photography, film, art movements, and art history.

Physical Education

We will address cardiovascular, strength, flexibility, coordination, and balance as well as keeping fit as a lifestyle.

For the section on the form where we must list "syllabi, curriculum materials, textbooks or plan of instruction to be used in each of the required subjects" you have no idea how tempted I am to write the following:

Weather permitting P.E. will be conducted daily. I will open the back door and gently nudge my students outside for a one-of-a-kind, personalized physical activity curriculum called Playing Outside and Running Around the Back Yard.

Yeah, I probably won't do that, though.

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