As Izzy enters the fourth grade, we took an all new approach to planning out our school year. Izzy and I went on a date; we had delicious pizza and pop. While eating and people watching, we chatted about what he wanted to learn this year. It’s the first time that he’s really gotten into taking some control over his education.
There were some items that were non-negotiable. I believe that children need basic math skills along with the ability to read and write. These skills open many doors and opportunities. But, aside from the 3 R’s, the sky was the limit.
Over the summer Izzy has become really interested in reading the bible. He has struggled with understanding the context in our King James’ Versions though so we bought him a Kids NKJV study bible. And best of all he got to pick out the exact one he wanted and it’s been awesome.
He went with a really fun and funky cover that continues all throughout the book. It’s colorful and bright, drawing you into it. It’s also filled with snippets of contextual information, word definitions and more.
We got our 3 youngest boys each a new bible this year for school. You can check out the bible we chose for our preschooler in our post What Preschool Learning Look Like in a Relaxed Homeschool.
We made a big switch over at the end of last year. We’ve been learning more and more about Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of teaching and we love learning through literature.
This was a pretty big switch for us as we have always used Math-u-See for the boys. However, Izzy was getting restless with his math and actually told me he was losing his love for math. So, we made the jump, took the placement test, and switched program with 1 month left in the school year.
It worked out well because there were some areas in MLFALE that we hadn’t covered previously. We started with a level that was equivalent to the level he had just finished in MUS. Therefore, there was a lot of review for Izzy, which we moved through really quickly.
He really enjoyed the story at the beginning of each new lesson (once a week). And asked to read the stories even when we skipped the lessons. We were able to finish one whole level over the summer and we will be starting level 4 now.
We’ve never really used a focussed language arts curriculum. I prefer to use copy work and dictation to teach the basics of the language phonetically and grammatically. We use a lot of poetry from our nature studies for this purpose. But, if we need more, we often pull a sentence or two from the chapter book that we are reading.
If you want to give copy work or dictation a try, I have a free printable of our nature study poem for this September when we will be looking at trees, leaves and the autumnal equinox.
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We have added a reading basket to our morning routine as well. This is helping us to add in a lot more learning on topics that we otherwise don’t often get to. I wrote a guest post for Encouraging Moms at Home that explains how we use our morning basket; How to Teach Your Kids MORE in Less Time With a Morning Basket. There’s also a FREE 19 page printable list of living books for every subject and age. We use it to help fill up our basket with excellent literature.
We are also adding in one grammar study from Brave Writer creator Julie Bogart. There is a magazine style subscription, but you can purchase single copies as well, called The Arrow. It is a language arts program that teaches spelling, punctuation, grammar and literary elements through copy work and dictation. Also, all the books used are considered living books. The Arrow is a great resource for kids 8-12 years old. We’ll be starting with the novel The One & Only Ivan.
Not sure what a living book is? Check out my post How do you know if a book is a living book?
Izzy is just fascinated with outdoor survivalism. It’s always top priority on his list of learning wants. However, with two littles in tow it isn’t always an easy one for me to cover. But, fingers crossed, there is a company down island from us running a basic survival class based on the novel My Side of the Mountain which we just finished reading!
Okay, we actually finished reading it months ago, but it was so good we’ve also devoured last two books in this trilogy by Jean Craighead George.
The other side of the wild that Izzy wanted to learn about was the Amazon Forest. He wants to know how the tribes in the forest survive; what are their houses like, what do they eat, etc. He also wants to learn about the black jaguar.
After falling in love with the writing of Jean Craighead George, I was really excited to discover she has a book on the amazon rain forest! Therefore, we ordered it right away, along with another highly recommended story, The Shaman’s Apprentice.
I want to keep our learning about the rain forest very relaxed. So, we’re taking a break from projects and busy work this year. (Unless something pops up that Izzy really wants to do). Instead, we have a ton of hands on, real life skills to learn based on the books we’re reading.
Sara from the Happy Brown House, and Ellen from What Can We Do With Paper and Glue, both have great collections of rain forest books. So, using their lists we will be keeping our eyes open for these books at the library or in thrift stores and at yard sales.
So, these are our formal plans and we’ll see where we go from there!
This post is part of the iHomeschool Network’s Annual Back to Homeschool Blog Party. You can find more great posts about this years curriculum choices for other homeschooling families on the iHN blog.
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