Looking ahead to third grade.

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Our new school year starts on June 1st. One of my goals for third grade is that Alex start to take a little more ownership of her education, so I asked her what she would like to accomplish this year. Without prompting, she came up with the following list:

1) Learn to write in cursive, quickly.
2) Learn how to multiply fractions.
3) Know the area of a circle.
4) Know the area of the Circle of Life.
5) Be able to write an essay by the first day of fourth grade.

Not such a bad list! #1 hadn’t initially been on my own list – I honestly don’t care if she writes in cursive or print. I learned cursive in elementary school, labored over it for four years, and instantly switched back to printing the moment I hit junior high. It did not impair my efforts to earn a Ph.D. But since Alex wants to learn it, I let her pick her script and ordered a handwriting book in the style she chose (Zaner-Bloser, pretty close to the Palmer script I was taught.)

The other kind of writing has been much on my mind. In third grade, I really want to focus on translating Alex’s strong verbal skills into writing.

I don’t think she’s quite ready for Paragraph Town, the next level of Michael Clay Thompson language arts. (Boy, would she love getting to move on to the next MCT poetry book, though. Music of the Hemispheres was one of the highlights of this year.) I intended to just have her focus on writing short paragraphs or themes in history and science, but on impulse I bought Writing Strands instead. It’s written to the child – I think it’s time to start making that shift – and it has a mix of creative and expository assignments. One of the things I like is that it focuses on working on the same piece of writing over several days. It looks like Writing Strands 3 will take about six months to complete, and then we can move on to MCT Town level towards the end of third grade.

2013-04-05 09.04.24

In math, with regret, we will mostly be leaving Beast Academy behind. They’re now saying that they’ll come out with each new set of books five months apart – and a set of books is only a quarter of a grade level. We’ll still buy the guides for enrichment, and perhaps the practice books as well, but Beast Academy can’t continue as Alex’s grade-level work. Instead, over the next year or so she’s going to work through a compacted version of MEP 4b-6b. Beast Academy has shown me that Alex just doesn’t need as much practice and repetition as there is in MEP. She thrives on moving a little quicker. I’ve reduced the rest of MEP down into about a full year’s work (it will take longer if we intersperse with Beast Academy), and we’ll move at that pace as long as she feels comfortable with it.

The last new thing I want to add for third grade is art. We did great art lessons with Five in a Row in kindergarten and first grade, but since then, sadly, Alex has mostly been on her own. She does great mixed-media and fabric art projects on her own, but I know that she would benefit from some actual instruction. We’re going to try working through Mona Brookes’ Drawing With Children, and see where that takes us.

In addition to these new things, Alex will be keeping on with Lively Latin, All About Spelling, Story of the World, and Intellego science units. That seems like more than enough!

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The really major new thing we’ll have going on this year is that Colin is dropping out of nursery school and becoming a home-preschooler, for reasons I will explain in an upcoming post. Yay, I get to do Five in a Row again! Colin is ecstatic about not having to go to school anymore, although he did cautiously ask if I could give him easy homeschooling, at first. I’m not going to leap right in to a lot of academics with him. Besides Five in a Row, I think I’ll try to spend some time at the table with him most days, doing varying activities: fine motor skills, board games, cutting and gluing, games with math manipulatives, mazes, learning to write letters, and continuing on with a little MEP Reception, or, as it is known in our house, “Colin math.” Oh, and books. Lots of time on the couch reading books.

It’s going to be awesome.

2013-04-27 15.09.24

This entry was posted in art, five in a row, math, policy & planning, writing. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Looking ahead to third grade.

  1. Sharon says:

    Congratulations on the addition of a new student! I went from 1 to 2 to 3 and it is so much fun to have the whole family in on the adventures!

  2. Jinian says:

    It all sounds so exciting! I love that Alex is setting good goals for herself.

    I had a dress with that bright-pink-and-green color scheme when I was ten. :)

  3. hobbitbabe says:

    5) Be able to write an essay by the first day of fourth grade.

    This strikes me as a mature understanding of the way that working towards a skill-development goal takes time. A long time ago you used to talk about Alex getting frustrated when she would try something new and not be able to do it yet – it sounds like all the scaffolding and support that you gave her in developing those persistence skills must have helped her accept it.

  4. hobbitbabe says:

    Also, I was wondering if Colin was going to be doing dancing lessons at some point.

  5. tinderbox says:

    Thanks, everyone!

    Hobbitbabe, I thought about sending him to ballet classes, but he’s been taking gymnastics and he really loves it, so we’ll probably stick with that.

    And yes, I am amazed at how much Alex has matured in her approach to learning. It’s especially evident in math, where she has become fearless.

  6. Ailbhe says:

    We have – and I completely ADORE – The Usborne Art Treasury, by Rosie Dickins. We also have some Old Masters colouring books which are lovely; one ISBN is 978-3-7913-3713-5 and although they’re a little too guided for my children I think Alex would love them. I know *I* love them and find them really useful.

    Also she’s about the age I was when I first explored “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain,” which improved my drawing considerably.

  7. Ailbhe says:

    They’re not *actually* Old Masters colouring books, that’s the household name for them. They’re impressionists and pop art and all sorts.

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