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WUHS: Top Picks for Third and Fourth Grade

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It’s time for the Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers’ Top Picks for Third and Fourth Grade.  If you missed them, you can check out my picks for Kindergarten and First and Second Grade.

Bible Study.  I failed to mention my picks for Bible study last week, but they’re actually the same all the way through high school, with a couple of additions for older kids — Bible Study Guide for All Ages, a scripture memory box and Keys for Kids.

Bible Study Guide is one of the easiest, most comprehensive, versatile Bible programs I’ve ever used.  I love that it has activity sheets for beginner, intermediate and advanced, so everyone can study the same lesson, but do activities on their own levels.  The hardest part for me has been convincing my younger kids that they’re ready to switch to the intermediate pages…which don’t have fun coloring pages.  Josh could care less about coloring, but Megan loves the page.

Math.   Again, I’ve always been a huge fan of Horizons.  This year, I’m planning on switching Josh and Megan to Teaching Textbooks.  I’m a little nervous about it, though, because Horizons is so thorough.  I’m really going to be keeping a close eye on how the switch goes.  It may not last long.

Now, just because I know you’re wondering, I’m considering the switch for a few reasons.  One, I feel like the kids are getting to the point where they need some teaching and explanation.  Not that I don’t teach them math, but they’ve become so familiar with Horizons that they can pretty much do it independently, coming to me only when they encounter something new.  I feel like the video teaching portion of TT would be good for them — especially since I don’t want to be teaching two different grade levels of math.  And, I think the fact that TT does the checking of schoolwork would be good for me.  We’ll see how long the change lasts…or if I talk myself out of it before it happens.

Grammar.  Hands-down, for me, from 2nd/3rd grade through high school, my choice is Easy Grammar with Daily Grams for review.  The explanations are thorough and easy-to-understand.  The cyclical review and constant building upon previously-learned concepts is great for my kids.  Eventually, it sinks in.

Writing.  Years ago, I discovered the idea of a writer’s workshop online.  I really liked this for Brianna, even though she was older than the intended audience at the time.  To me, writing basics are writing basics, no matter how old you are.  I haven’t implemented the writer’s workshop with Josh and Megan yet, since Josh still struggles in the language arts area and Megan was, technically, just a second grader this year, but I plan to implement it with them next year.

I also plan to utilize WordSmith Apprentice.  I used WordSmith with Brianna this year and we’ve really enjoyed it – well, as much as Brianna can enjoy writing.  It was definitely less offensive to her than things we’ve used in the past.

Spelling.  Again, hands-down it’s All About Spelling. I only wish I’d discovered it sooner.

Reading.  If you still have a non-independent, non-fluent reader at this age (I do, so there’s no condemnation from me), my pick is still Rocket Phonics.  And, I’m totally loving the readers from All About Spelling, couple with reinforcement from the Explode the Code series.  That’s our one-two-three punch for reading around here.

History.  I’m starting to get repetitious here.  My pick for third and fourth grade is the same as second and third – Story of the World.  Although, I am going to take a close look at Pandia Press’ History Odyssey this year.  We got Level 2 to review for Brianna and I really, really like how it’s laid out.  My only gripe so far is that the book selections have been really challenging for her.  I wish there was a way to have the option of some easier reads.  That wouldn’t be the case for the Level 1 books, though, so look for an update on them after I’ve had a chance to look them over.

Science.  We’ve been pretty big fans of the Christian Kids Explore science series for several years, the only caveat being that they have to be supplemented in order to have a complete science curriculum, in my opinion.  We’re still fans, but I’ve been intrigued by two other choices I’ll be looking at closely in the upcoming school year:  R.E.A.L. Science, from Pandia Press (note:  it is a secular science series) and A Reason for Science.  I’m really liking the looks of each of these.  Again, be looking for updates as I get a chance to really explore these two.

Handwriting. We like A Reason for Handwriting.  I’ve used it all the way from beginning print for Josh and Megan to cursive writing practice for Brianna.

Fine Arts.  We were blessed to receive Young Scholar’s Guide to Composers to review this past year.  We didn’t use it as much as I would have liked because our schedule was so crazy, but I love the way it’s laid out.  Simple biographies of the composers, along with comprehension questions, coloring pages, timeline printables, study ideas and links to listen to the composers’ music make this an extremely easy-to-use composer study guide.

For art, I’m really liking a couple of things:  The Elements of Art, which can be easily adapted for this age group, and Artistic Pursuits.

Nature Study.  As always, for any age group, I’m a fan of The Handbook of Nature Study blog, coupled with The Handbook of Nature Study.  Great inspiration and, if our crew can fall in love with nature study, anybody can!

What are your picks for third and fourth grade?

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  1. Just got to say a big DITTO on Horizons math. We love it. I don't know how I missed it for my older kids. It sure makes life easy…and it's not too bad on the pocketbook either.


  2. Kris,
    We've used TT for several years. My youngest and oldest work a year ahead and my middle child is at grade level. I've been completely and thoroughly pleased with the program. Two of my children have excelled in math both in our homeschool and on the standardized tests and the other one is doing average to above average.

    My one caution would be that if one has a child who struggles with solving more complex problems in a step-by-step manner they may not get the practice they need WRITING IT OUT NEATLY unless you force them to use the written text. Of course, this ruins the automatic grading! My middle child is making mistakes in multi-step problems because he is not disciplined to write everything out neatly so that it doesn't get all confused. He's just been scribbling notes and calculations and then putting his answer in the computer. I hope this makes sense.
    So, we are sticking with TT for him as well but he will need to complete the problems in the text after watching the video.


  3. I just ordered Spelling Power….I have looked into All About Spelling, but the cost scares me a bit.I am considering sending the one back (it just arrived for next year). Thoughts? Thanks!

  4. My youngest will be a 4th grader next year. We'll stick with Saxon math, Spelling Power, Sonlight Core 5 (will be doing it with 4th and 8th graders). I think I'm going to go with Primary Language Lessons for him at 4th grade. I loved First Language Lessons but thought the next one was too advanced for a 3rd grader. DH is going to teach the kids science next year, and he's scoping out curriculum. If that falls through, I'll do lapbooks on various topics. Continuing with A Reason for Writing for handwriting, and I do my own creative writing lessons. Art and music–various.

  5. We use TT and LOVE IT!!! I use to use Horizon's but switched because I wanted the step by step instructions. In the younger grades (I believe below pre-algegbra) it does all the correcting. That is one subject I don't have to worry about.

  6. I started reading your blog last week and love it!!! You have away with words…
    I looked into the second science curricula you mentioned , but they make you buy a 'pack'- which has 5 student books. I cant see how to order just one or two!?

  7. I don't now, Beverly. I wish I could answer your question, but I'm just looking into A Reason for Science myself. I don't know if those are all workbooks for one student — like Horizons math has two workbooks for each grade level — or if that's for a group.

    I've been trying to get in touch with someone at the company to do a review and find out more, but I haven't had much luck. I will be updating once I've had a chance to look at the products.

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