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Benefits of Homeschooling 3rd-Grade…
In Public school, 3rd-grade can be a stressful grade.
Almost all States in the U.S. require 3rd graders to pass a reading and math standardized test to determine if they are ready to advance to 4th grade.
These Standardized Tests put a great amount of pressure on parents, teachers, and students, as the last couple of months of school are pretty much fully dedicated to practice, practice, practice, so each of these pupils can pass.
The stress trickles down from the very top of the school system all the way down to each of these young students for various reasons. In general, if the student fails the Standardized Test (unless he’s part of an exemption) he will be held back, the teacher’s performance (and in some States even their yearly raise), will be based upon the number of students passing this test, and lastly, the School’s Rating will be determined by this same number, which determines the federal funding it will be eligible to receive.
I am a staunch opposer of Standardized Testing being introduced so early on, I not only think it’s absolutely unnecessary, but also feel that 2 months wasted on preparing these kids to pass a test is a disservice to kids, parents, and teachers. Those are 2 months students could have spent on enriching their academics instead of being completely stressed out, day in and day out, about failing a test that solely determines if they are ready or not to move forward.
Many kids are just not good test takers since stress gets the best of them, but are still very well prepared to move on to the next grade!
Thankfully many States realize Homeschoolers don’t need such a ridiculous way to measure their progress or knowledge and we can solely focus on teaching real academics and not waste so much time on just teaching a way to successfully take a test. Don’t get me wrong, kids do need to learn how to take a test, and introducing test sheets and test-taking while homeschooling in different subjects can be beneficial.
Thankfully as homeschoolers, this can be done gradually following kid’s pace, readiness, and treated just as test should be, not as a whole subject on its own.
Homeschooling 3rd grade is really not that scary. This is the year when kids start to become fluent readers for the most part, and the time has now come to introduce History, Science, and Geography if you haven’t yet.
This is our second year using a heavily Customized Timberdoodle curriculum kit.
Each and every year I homeschool, I’ve grown more and more confident in breaking away from boxed curriculums and making my own curriculum choices customizing it to match my children’s learning style.
Third Grade has been a great school year in which my son has hit many milestones.
- After going through a rough patch in reading last year, his reading has now flourished and we added many great books to our curriculum, (I explain how we accomplished this in my “From Struggling…to Avid Reader” post).
- His Critical and Strategic Thinking skills have really come together, which has helped him immensely in math (my article “Best 10 Educational/STEM gift Ideas” explains the importance of critical thinking skills and great games to get it going).
- Surprisingly, History and Science have been subjects he truly enjoys, and I credit the curriculums we are using for it.
At the end of it all, make sure you meet your States’ requirements and introduce as much or as little is appropriate for your child to learn while still enjoying the process. Now, Let’s take a look at our 3rd-grade picks for this 2018/2019 year.
1. All About Spelling AAS – (Level 1, 2, 3)**
Before using this program my son has really had no luck learning spelling. AAS has been a complete game changer for us, making spelling easy to learn using a multisensory approach. Because we only started using this program with my eldest son in 3rd-grade we had to backtrack and begin from level 1, and we have quickly gone through the first 2 levels in 3 months.
“All About Spelling” teaches great unique little tricks that truly makes learning spelling a breeze, without relying solely on memorization.
My son finally feels like his spelling light bulb went on and says this program has taken the confusion and guessing out of spelling. I highly recommend this program as it can be easily adapted to many learning styles. **(Not a Timberdoodle Item).
This is a complete Writing curriculum with Video lessons that is split into 2 parts. The first half of this program covers basic Grammar and sentences, and the second half teaches basic Composition.
We have been using this curriculum for the last 2 years after using a very demanding and completely inappropriate formal writing curriculum in the 1st-grade year. If you push too hard, to soon your child will resist and dread learning how to write for years to come, having a long hard journey ahead of both of you. I made this mistake and from experience, my advice is to be cautious and pick a writing curriculum that uses a gentle and easy approach for the early years.
Thankfully “Essentials in Writing” uses a very gentle approach, teaching short 3-5 minutes video writing lessons, and student assignments are explained Step-by-Step by the teacher and founder Matthew Stephens, by only presenting small chunks of information at a time.
My now 3rd grader is thriving using this curriculum and I’ve also started his younger brother on level 1. There is no other writing curriculum I’d use, at least during the elementary years. **(Not a Timberdoodle Item)
3. Word Roots Beginning
This is a small but powerful book published by The Critical Thinking and Co. that has made a world of difference in my son’s reading journey.
To truly understand the importance and greatness of this book you can read my article “From Struggling….to Avid Reader“, where I explain how this book has made decoding words easier which has greatly improved his reading skills.
←Link to “Word Roots Beginning” book.
4. A Reason for Handwriting – Transition
This is a great book to use to teach kids cursive handwriting. It is divided into 2 section, the first half is for manuscript practice which we skipped and went right into the other half where it begins teaching cursive letter formation.
I love and prefer the cursive letter styles this book teaches to the many other styles out there (Abeka being one of those), and my son enjoys it very much.
←Link to “A Reason for Handwriting T” book.
We invest about 10 minutes a day 3-4 x week and you can read more about the importance of teaching cursive in my ” Making Homeschooling Kindergarten Easy” post.
5. A variety of Biographies – level (8-12 yrs), 50 Informational Scholastic books (grade 3-5), and many Animal books.**
Third grade has been the first year my child has chosen most of his own reading material and it has made all the difference in the world. My son has been reading many biographies of Famous people he’s been learning about in History, alternating with many informational animal books and together with a variety of other different topics. In a future post, I will list our 3rd-grade reading list choices for everyone to use as a reference and guidance as needed. **(Not a Timberdoodle Item)
6. Simple Book Report Forms**
I use a few different FREE and Simple book Report Forms I find on Pinterest. My advice is to keep it Simple and not Overuse these, to avoid taking the Joy out of their reading experience.
Many kids at this age have not developed their creative writing skills yet. By pushing kids too much and too soon, they will dread picking up a new book to read as they will predict what’s to come when they finish it.
Keep it light, basic, and sporadic, as this is only an introduction to book reports. Our kids will have many years ahead of them to learn more and master this skill. **(Not a Timberdoodle Item)
7. Read & Think Skill sheets – (Abeka)**
How many times have you sat next to your child during their read-aloud time and almost fell asleep? I HAVE! 🙋♀️😴.
By using Abeka’s Read & Think Skill sheets each week, it helps kids learn how to speed up their reading while still making sure they are comprehending what is read.
Using these Read & Think Skill sheets have made a positive impact on my child’s reading speed and fluency. **(Not a Timberdoodle Item).
←Link to “Read & Think 3 Skill Sheets”.
1. Math-you-see (Level- Gamma & Delta)
We have switched to using MUS with my eldest child in 2nd grade and after going through 4 levels between 2 kids, I can confidently say we will never use anything else. Many parents are thrown off by the sequence of this program and believe their kids are “behind” compared to what kids in public school are learning. First of all, have you heard the insanity of public school’s common core elementary math? For that alone I couldn’t be more grateful we are homeschooling.
MUS is a mastery-based program which means it focuses on one concept at a time for each level. Gamma is the level that would correspond to 3rd-grade and it solely focuses on multiplications.
You can move through each level as fast or as slow as your child needs to, we happen to do math year round and my son will be moving into Delta (divisions) in the middle of his 3rd-grade year.
With weekly video lessons, MUS takes the stress of teaching math off the parents and put’s it into Mr. Demme’s capable hands. There is no better math teacher out there I would rather my kids learning math from!
History & Social Studies
After using Daily Geography lessons in 2nd grade, I decided to follow Timberdoodle’s lead and for 3rd-grade use “Skills Sharpeners: Geography 3” by Evan-Moor. (here is a link to my full review of “Daily Geography vs. Geography Skill Sharpeners”
This book briefly covers many geography concepts like Famous mountains, Rivers, Volcanos, Deserts, but it also covers some other concepts like Weather (ex; briefly explaining about tornadoes and Tornado Valley, earthquakes and the Ring of Fire), and some more. With each concept, this book includes a reading assignment, then followed by a couple of comprehension questions, and at the end of each unit, it asks students for an informative writing assignment to be completed.
Although I can appreciate the Author’s intentions of trying to stimulate a student’s “creativity while using higher-order thinking skills” (using their words), I find this curriculum to not include enough geography facts as much as I would like it to in this grade. Next year (in 4th grade), we will be using this book as a supplement while using Daily Geography Practice 4.
Links to “Daily Geography” & “Geography Skill Sharpeners”→
2. Our American Heritage (Abeka) + Test & Quiz booklet.**
This is easily my favorite history book we have used in our 4 years homeschooling.
“Our American Heritage” is a history reader where kids learn about 22 Famous People in U.S. History, the deeds they are known for, and the important events happening during their time.
This Christian based history curriculum is a delight to read to our children and has taught us so many facts we didn’t even know!
←Link to “Our American Heritage” book by Abeka.
We usually do history once a week and cover one famous person per lesson, and a couple of days later I give the test. In our household, we use tests as a review tool this early on, without giving any grades or time limit. This method takes the stress away from test taking but at the same time, it helps kids familiarize with Multiple Choice tests, True or False, Fill the blank, and other types of Tests formats. **(Not a Timberdoodle Item).
3. Health, Safety & Manners 3 (Abeka) + Tests booklet**
We have been using this course since kindergarten and find these readers to be very informative and appropriate.
Level 3 of this book series covers these 8 topics: Posture, Exercise, Nutrients, Balanced Diet, Cleanliness, Fighting Diseases, First Aid, and Health (Spiritual, Social, Mental).
←Link to “Health Safety and Manners 3” book by Abeka.
By Reading 1/2 chapter once a week to the kids, this course can be covered in a semester or it could be stretched out longer if desired. Just as we do with history after finishing a chapter, a day or two later kids take the quiz/test as a form of a review of what they have learned. **(Not a Timberdoodle Item).
1. Apologia – Zoology 1 Flying Creatures + Jr. Notebook and Audiobook.**
We absolutely love Apologia’s Christian Based, Full Immersion Science teachings!
Our boys LOVE, LOVE, animals and for them to get to hear all about Flying Creatures (insects and birds), for the whole entire 14 chapters is an absolute treat and delight!
We personally skip all projects and experiments but still enjoy this program very much. I do not read this book to my kids but use the Audiobook instead, which is a great addition to this course and money well spent. The audiobook is read in a very engaging way and easy for kids to follow along in the book.
←Links to Textbook, Jr. Notebook Journal, Audiobook.
We alternate listening to one lesson on one week and completing some of the Jr. Notebook activities (mini-books and crossword puzzles) the following week. Following this schedule, this course can be finished in 28 weeks or within a regular school year including the different Holiday breaks.
I highly recommend pairing this course with the Audiobook and Jr Notebook, as it’s activities help kids remember all things learned, even if you choose to only do just a few as we did.**(No longer a Timberdoodle kit Item).
2. Dr. Bonyfide – book 1
Dr. Bonifide is a cute kid-friendly series of 4 books, that teaches kids in a super fun way about the human skeleton, the different names, and functions of our bones.
This year we are using “book 1” where Dr. Bonifide with the aide of X-Ray glasses and fun activities, teaches students all about the Bones of the Hand, Arm, and Shoulder. My kids love this book so much they don’t even consider it to be part of school work, SCORE!😄
←Link to Dr. Bonyfide 1 book.
1. Creative and Critical Thinking Activities 3 – by Evan Moor
As I mentioned in my “Abeka vs. Timberdoodle” post,
I strongly believe it is very important to teach kids from the early school years Analytical & Critical thinking together with Problem-solving skills.
These skills are beneficial across ALL curriculum areas, and incorporating a Critical Thinking workbook is a must in each one of our kids’ curriculums.
“Creative and Critical Thinking Activities 3” offers a variety of brain teasers that kids enjoy and really gets their wheels spinning all while having fun! I highly recommend this or any Critical Thinking workbook of your choice, and if you add one you won’t regret it.
←Link to “Creative & Critical Thinking 3” book.
1. Circuit Maze – Electric Logic Game
Circuit Maze is an Electric current Logic Game, where kids learn basic concepts about electric circuits.
The player needs to figure out how to get electricity flowing through the Path Pieces to light up the specific Beacons, and while solving these challenges, kids learn how to create a parallel and series circuits by using their problem-solving skills.
Although the electricity concepts taught are very basic, some of the puzzles can be pretty challenging which teaches kids resilience, while also forcing them to use reasoning, logical and problem-solving skills to make those circuits light up. We also use many other STEM games throughout our school year. Here is a link to my Educational/STEM Games top picks.
←Link to “Circuit Maze Electric Game”.
2. Ozobot Evo
Ozobot Evo is a small but powerful robot that teaches kids coding.
Honesty, I haven’t had the time to look into this tiny mystery robot as much as I would have liked to, as to discover more of its many functions. My son can spend endless hours playing with his Ozobot and has drawn his very own path for it by using big white poster cardboards from the dollar tree, and enjoys watching all his plans coming to life.
Now that my son has learned what Ozobot can do, our next step is going to the Ozobot website and learn how to code in Blockly language into it. This step teaches kids how to program their own Ozobot by writing the code, then holding the robot up to the computer screen to get it transferred over to it. Cool right?!
For Siblings, it’s a good idea to get each its own so they can race and maybe compete on who wrote the best Program. 😉 **(No longer a Timberdoodle Item).
←Link to “Ozobot Evo” robot.
3. Typing Instructor for kids – Platinum 5.0
Whether your child is planning on becoming a writer or not, Keyboarding skills are required in most jobs these days, and many employers are looking for fast typers, not your average Joe (I’m a below average Joe).😔
Think about today’s professions and tell me if Keyboarding isn’t in it. From a Bank Teller to a Police Officer, Physician, Lawyer, CEO, or Programmer, they all require typing skills.
Unfortunately the slower a person types, the less productive they are, which also make them a less desirable candidate for the job or promotion. Anyone out there reading this still wants to skip Keyboarding lessons??😆
We have used “Typing instructor for kids” as our keyboarding program and it’s a good program to use for young children. I did find its games could become a bit too distracting for some kids. In the future, we might try the free website Typing.com for practice and see how we like it.
←Link to “Typing Instructor for kids” cd-rom.
4. 3-D Birds of Prey – Construction Kit**
This is a construction set Timberdoodle was including in their kits when they still offered “Apologia’s Flying Creatures” as their science curriculum. However, in their new 2018/2019 curriculum kits, Apologia is no longer offered and neither is this set.
Our family loves Apologia’s young explorer series and we have kept these 3-D Birds of Prey Construction kit in our curriculum as well. My boys are big fans of any type of animal and construction and I always encourage building, so this is a home run for both of us! **(No longer a Timberdoodle Item). UPDATE: I wouldn’t recommend this item. Pieces will not stay locked together making building the birds close to impossible. Ended up being foam pieces lost all over the house.😭
Complete-A-Sketch is a great program recommended for any child who loves to build and might have an inclination to any engineering skills.
I’d like to say, although we absolutely love this program, Complete-A-Sketch is not for everyone.
Its attention to detail and precision drawing requirements do need lots of dedication and patience for a child of this age and it can be frustrating or boring to some. My child is naturally very detail oriented, loves to build and dreams of drawing his own constructions, so this is right up his alley.
I love how by using this program and learning how to simply draw an equilateral triangle or a circle, my child is learning and practicing his Fine Motor Skills (by using the ruler to precisely make those straight lines or learning how to use a compass to draw a perfect circle), but also his math skills to make sure all sides are the same size, or how the radius of the circle size determines the size of the circle itself). These are some serious Fine Motor, Thinking and Math skills all packed in this CD, together with great sketches just waiting to come to life! – by INSIGHT TECHNICAL EDUCATION.
←Link to “Complete A Sketch 123” curriculum.
2. Paint by number Museum Series – by Faber Castell
We have not used these yet but plan to during our Christmas break. I’m not artsy, it’s not my thing, and my boys sure enjoy some arts and crafts but that’s something I leave for my mother-in-law when she comes over. As I explain in my “How to Homeschool Along with your everyday life” post, delegating is a very important part of being able to Balance Life, Family, and Education without losing your mind, and Art is one of those things I delegate to others.
3. Draw-Write-Now books**
This is a series of 8 step-by-step Animal drawing books and each book has a different animal theme.
I, for example, bought book #4 & 8 which teach how to draw Polar Regions animals and Grassland/Desert animals.
Although these books can be used by beginners they also show kids how to make a drawing more complex and looking realistic. Each Animal drawing comes with a short story about it, this way kids are also practicing their reading skills. Draw-Write-Now by MARIE HABLITZEL and KIM STITZER. **(Not a Timberdoodle Item).
←Links to “Draw-Write-Now” books.
Homeschooling 3rd-grade is truly not so scary and with our curriculum, it only takes 3-4 hours on average.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.