Friday, August 15, 2014

Third Grade in Our Home :: An Overview

We're now halfway through our first term of the new school year, and things are going so smoothly that I'm ready to share our plans here!

We draw very heavily from Ambleside Online's wonderful booklists--our history, natural history, and literature selections are almost entirely from their Year 3 programme.  (Their site has weekly break-downs for each of those books, so go take a look!  What I have here is posted with permission from Ambleside Online.)  I have marked the portions of our schedule that are directly from AO in blue.  The rest is my own plans.

BibleNew Testament - Schuster's Bible History (focusing on the teaching ministry of Jesus through the Ascension)
ReligionSaints - Lauren Ford's Life of Our Lady
Stories -  Marigold Hunt's A Book of Angels and Tan's Guardian Angels: Our Heavenly Companions
Mass - The Story of the Mass
Catechism - Mother Loyola's First Communion (continued from last year)
In our Morning Basket - Benson's An Alphabet of Saints and A Child's Rule of Life *NN
Other projects - review First Holy Communion catechism questions, practice using hand missal
The Renaissance and Reformation

World - Our Island Story and A Child's History of the World
National - This Country of Ours 

Catholic - The Catholic Faith Comes to the Americas, Vision books for St. Thomas More and St. Edmund Campion, Crossbows and Crucifixes, O'Neill's The World's Story
Stories - Diane Stanley's Michaelangelo, Diane Stanley's Bard of Avon, and Daugherty's Landing of the Pilgrims
Natural HistoryHolling's Pagoo
Long's Secrets of the Woods
Towle's Marco Polo
The Kirbys' The World at Home (in our Morning Basket) *NN
Weekly mapwork - charting figures from all studies on European and American maps, Marco Polo's voyage on world map, life and travels of Jesus on Holy Land map
Map drills - Holy Land, Eastern United states, countries of Europe
LiteratureStoutenberg's American Tall Tales
Lambs' Tales from Shakespeare
Kingsley's The Heroes
Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress
Macdonald's The Princess and the Goblin, Merryat's Children of the New Forest, Kipling's The Jungle Books

Scheduled Free Reads - Together: Kingsley's The Water Babies, MacDonald's At the Back of the North Wind *NN
Scheduled Free Reads - Independent: Goudge's The Little White Horse, Pyle's Men of Iron *NN
PoetryWilliam Blake, Sara Teasdale, Hilda Conkling, Henry Longfellow
Music StudyBach (Term 1), Chopin (Term 2), Handel (Term 3)
Composer biographies - by Opal Wheeler and Anna Harwell Celenza *NN
Thomas Tapper's Music Talks for Children (in our Morning Basket) *NN
Art StudyMonet (Term 1), Georgia O'Keefe (Term 2), TBD (Term 3)
Art biographies - by Mike Venezia *NN
ArtWeekly drawing lesson using Mona Brooks' Drawing with Children - 
Volume Drawing (Term 1), Different Media (Term 2), Back to Still Lifes (Term 3)
Daily drawing drill from Donna Young's site
Weekly art project using various media
MusicWeekly piano lesson, daily practice
Nature Study
At the Shore (Term 1), At the Pond (Term 2), TBD (Term 3)
Weekly nature study outing
Weekly nature journal entry
Weekly lesson using Comstock's Handbook of Nature Study and Natural Science Through the Seasons: 100 Teaching Units
Monthly lesson using Headstrom's Adventures with a Hand Lens
ItalianDaily work and review; one unit each month, including lesson, conversation, songs, games, rhymes
HandicraftsSewing with felt, cooking, chores
CopyworkPrinting - copying selections of choice in copybook
Cursive - continued practice with Startwrite pages
Daily math drill - Wrap-ups or Challenging Word Problem or Timed Sheet
Daily lesson from the following:
RightStart Level E (finishing up)
Singapore 5A/B (finishing up)
RightStart Level G
Art of Problem Solving: Pre-Algebra
Challenge Math
Memory WorkBible - penitential psalms, parables, final Gospel
Poetry - from each term's poet
Hymns and Folk Songs - from music books
Shakespeare - selections from plays read
Prayers - Memorare to St. Joseph, Divine Mercy prayers, Nicene Creed in Latin

Some other notes about our third grade plans:

:: Some selections are noted as *NN, or "Not Narrated."  This is my way of adding books to our schedule without overloading my children.  (All regularly-scheduled books are narrated in some form.)

:: I'm putting a greater emphasis on mapwork this year.  My kids really enjoy geography concepts and stories, and they have very precise knowledge of the United States thanks to the simple map drills we have done over the past two years, but their knowledge of the locations we're reading about in history is fuzzy.  This year, I printed out a few blank maps for us to fill out over the course of the year, just plotting cities and countries that come up in our reading.  Before, I was pointing out locations on a map--but it wasn't sticking.  Their keeping physical track of the places is cementing the knowledge more effectively and encouraging connections across readings.  We're also going to do some map tracing.  They'll be doing this in addition to our regular map drills.

:: My kids gobble up their free reading books, but I'd like for some of them--particularly the more difficult or thematically richer ones--to be savored a bit more slowly.  So just as I did last year, I chose a few of the books from AO's free reading list to schedule out over the course of the year at a slower pace.  Some are for my children to do on their own; some we're reading together.

:: Thanks to reading Laurie Bestvater's The Living Page, I've decided to incorporate some new Keeping habits.  In addition to the binder timeline we have been doing all along, we'll also be doing a personal timeline this year as a special project--I'll share when it's completed!  I'm also having my children do their print copywork in a Poetry and Prose Copybook this year--both of them have been very excited to choose selections to include from the week's reading.  And they're narrating this year's Mass study in the form of copywork and drawings in a blank book dedicated to the project.  The way they choose to lay this out is entirely up to them, though I did have them look at Inos Biffi's work as an example.  It has been wonderful to see what they are choosing to highlight from each week's selection.

:: We're continuing our Italian learning with last year's method, still using the same format and resources.  It's going really well!  I also requested a few extra Italian CDs and books through our charter school--I'll review them when they arrive in a few months and I have a chance to see if they're a good fit for our studies.

:: Our math has been an adventure lately!  I've had some readers ask about our math plans so I'll share a bit: I have loved using RightStart Math for the last three years.  My son and I spent the past few months finishing up the long-ish geometry section of RS Level E alongside the sections from Singapore 5A/B that they don't cover in RS (some extra fractions/ration work, a discussion of volume, practice with order of operations, etc.).  And now we're moving on to something new!  RS also offers Level G, their geometry program, which they recommend using alongside a pre-algebra or algebra program over two or more years.  So once Gianna finishes up Level E, the two of them will be doing that together with me a couple times a week.  Alongside, they'll work at their own pace on Art of Problem Solving, a bit of Challenge Math, a bit of Singapore's New Elementary Mathematics...and I'm not sure what else!  We're going to have to see what ends up being a good fit for my accelerated math students.  Once we've done a thorough try of the program options, I'll let you know what we end up using.

:: In my post regarding this year's weekly schedule sheet, you can see the breakdown of their daily and weekly subjects.  My goal for my third graders this year is for them to take full responsibility for their daily work and their Keeping habits, with me only checking in with them weekly on those assignments.

:: Since we're studying the Renaissance and Reformation this year, I have been editing Our Island Story here and there, and I've added some Catholic reading to our history schedule so that my children get a true sense of the period.  I want to say a particular thank you to Amber, who suggested Crossbows and Crucifixes when I asked about children's books on the English marytrs.  We'll be reading it in Term 2 and I think it's going to be perfect.  We'll also be reading some saint biographies relevant to the time period in lieu of Trial and Triumph, one of the few books in the early years of AO that I strongly dislike and have always substituted for.

Whew!  Okay, so that's third grade here.  Next time: kindergarten!


  1. I always love seeing your plans, Celeste - you're only about a term ahead of where we are so I often glean useful ideas. :) I love the idea of marking places that come up in our historical reading on a map as we read about them too - we usually check the map, but like you said, it hasn't really stuck. I've wanted to do more historical mapping, but wasn't sure the best way to go about it. This sounds like it just might work. :)

    1. Thanks, Jen. :) Yes, this casual mapping we've been doing has really made a big difference already! And the kids are enjoying it too. I wish I had started it sooner because it's really so easy.

  2. I really loved reading this!!! You mentioned on Ambleside Facebook page about not liking the time slot idea, but more of a time FRAME and so I'm gleaning from you! :) It's helpful to see what someone does with lots of children!!! I'm curious about your map skills stuff...I thought I had understood mapping to be for more olders, but you are finding it works fine with little ones??? I thought I had read somewhere that the recommendation was for Year 4 and older...but then again, we can make that call for our children, right?! ;)

    1. Hi there! You are right that AO doesn't have formal map drills listed until...I think Year 6 or 7? But they do recommend referencing a map before/during/after readings from the beginning, as well as keeping physical track of that mapping in some form when helpful. The key is really to keep the maps relevant to the readings in these early years--we're not looking for rote memorization, after all, but more mapwork that is based first on a relationship to the places we're recording. So when we did Paddle to the Sea, we did the Great Lakes region, as well as the surrounding areas, and we continued with the rest of the Midwest. When we did Tree in the Trail, we did the Midwest all the way to the West Coast. And so on. This year, we'll do the East Coast since it's relevant to our readings in This Country of Ours, the Holy Land since we're reading about the teaching ministry of Our Lord, and the countries of Europe as they come up in our readings. (And by the way, there are some good resources for mapping on the forums sorted by year!) Anyway, I would definitely consider map drills to be an additional item for geography-interested students. We only do five minutes twice a week for the drills, and then an additional five minutes weekly for our mapping together from the readings. Hope that helps!

  3. Can you explain what the map drills look like? ~Barb

    1. Hi, Barb! For our drills, we use the basic approach described here:

      In first grade, the kids and I did this together, orally, like we would a picture narration. In second grade, they began labeling their own maps so they could check their own spelling as well. This method is really easy and really effective.

  4. Hi Celeste - We're Catholic and just starting out with AO and I've been perusing your blog for awhile and have found it SO helpful in seeing how to add a Catholic component to an otherwise wonderful curriculum. Would you mind elaborating on how you're using O'Neill's The World's Story along with A Child's History of the World? I, too, would like to use both but I wasn't sure if that would be too repetitive or how to match them up. Are you just reading select chapters from The World's Story? Thanks! --Megan

  5. Hi Megan--welcome! It's funny you ask that, as we've been discussing that very thing over in the comments of this post:

    In short, I am not using all that much of The World's Story--it would be too overwhelming to do that AND the AO history selections, and I think OIS and CHOW are superior to TWS (especially for this age group), so OIS and CHOW are our main spines. But I have used bits of TWS so far to round out topics like the Reformation a couple weeks ago, for example, and the Counter Reformation coming up soon. And also, to be clear: I haven't had any need to add to our history readings until this year, AO Year 3, when the Reformation and onward is covered.

    In that other post, Amber brought up Our Lady's Dowry, a resource you can get through the Mater Amabilis site for free. It's a good match for OIS since it too is England-based. (TWS is world history, obviously.) If you want to add more Catholic content, I would suggest supplementing your history with that rather than buying TWS. TWS is okay, but I wouldn't necessarily pay for it to use just as a supplement like I'm doing. (I got my copy for free. ;)) I might change that recommendation later on, since we may end up using more of it next year...but I won't know until then. :)

    Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any more questions.

  6. Thanks, Celeste - that's helpful. I hadn't seen the discussion in the other post and I had forgotten about Our Lady's Dowry. I agonized all summer about whether to use AO or MA and felt like I really needed to pick one to follow as our "core" - it seemed too complicated to try to combine the two. For various reasons I felt so compelled to choose AO and my only reservation has been about how to make it more Catholic, so finding your blog was such a gift! Thank you for taking the time to discuss what you're doing - I can only imagine how busy you are.

  7. Would you mind clarifying how you scheduled in the added Catholic history books? What AmblesideOnline terms did you align the Vision biographies (More and Campion) and the Garnett C&C? History is one area I haven't managed to accomplish all the prereading I was hoping to do, and am thus not sure where to schedule these three additions. Thanks so much!

    1. Sure! We did Thomas More in Term 1, Edmund Campion in Term 2, and Crossbows and Crucifixes in Term 3. I don't worry too much about having it line up *exactly* with our history readings since the AO readings go back and forth in time between books anyway. :)

    2. My son just finished the OIS chapters with Wosley and King Henry, and yesterday he read chapter in a Thomas Moore about Wosley visiting Thomas Moore. He was SO excited, “This is going to get good!” Thanks for the recommendation!

    3. Ha, we just did the same! My current Y3 student has St. Thomas More as his patron (middle name), so he was particularly delighted to see it on the schedule! :)

  8. Celeste, how do you choose your Catholic resources? I noticed you’re using Schuster’s Bible History. I found a Bible History by Fr. George Johnson, Fr. Jerome Hannon, and Sister M. Dominica also put out by TAN. Have you heard of it? I didn’t learn bible history and am having a difficult time deciding!

  9. Hi Celeste! Your third grade kids are doing Singapore grade 5? Wow. Would you personally switch a 9 yo who is in 3rd grade Singapore, to RightStart? Is it worth switching beginning 4th grade?

    1. My oldest two are both advanced in math. My next two are average. :)

      I personally think it's worth switching IF you are not enjoying Singapore. A couple years of math enjoyed vs. a couple years of struggle...that would be worth it to me. That said, I think there are adjustments you can make within programs to make them work better for your family. If you can think through some tweaking of format, pacing, etc. and still use Singapore as your spine, that might make sense so far along! So my answer is: there's no real answer here. ;) For me, it would really depend on the kid, my confidence and desire, finances, history with math, etc.

  10. Hi Celeste! Would you mind sharing the link to The Story of the Mass? I was looking for it on google but I am not sure I found the correct books. Thanks so much! We are on our second year in Catholic CM and coming into our 3rd year. I feel like my curriculum plans are all over the place. Thanks!

    1. Hi there! The Story of the Mass seems to be out of print: We have that old edition from Neumann Press. I haven't checked to see if it is being republished anywhere. But it's a really neat book!

  11. Hi Celeste! Thank you so much for including your lessons here for all to see. I'm a recent convert and have been using AO and in Y3 and struggling with so much of the protestant bias. Are there any chapters you have completely skipped over in OIS, TCOO, or CHOW? Being a new convert, I don't already have a good Catholic background and want to make sure I'm giving my kids information that isn't going to push them away from the church. Thanks!

    1. Hi! I have a more recent that lists the chapters from OIS that I skip or edit for this time period: Hope that helps!