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We have just finished up our FIRST year of homeschooling and the completion of Ezra’s 3rd grade year! June 1st marks our first day of year two!
As we moved through the summer of 2019, I spent a lot of time just trying to figure out where Ezra was, academically speaking. Some areas needing improvement were VERY obvious – like penmanship. Other areas, I did not realize just how behind he was until I began trying things with him. I began a list on my computer of things he didn’t know.
Ezra is a very bright child. As I was now able to observe his behavior all day, every day, for the first time since he was four years old, I realized just how detrimental his ADHD and mood issues are to his learning environment. My heart broke as I kept thinking, “I have no idea how he functioned for so long in public school!”
While his reading skills were above average, I noticed deficits in math (which surprised me, because he has a very mathematical/engineering brain), as well as grammar. After much internal struggle, evaluating his deficits combined with his fine motor skills / penmanship issues (and setting aside my own pride), I purchased a lot of kindergarten, first grade, and second grade curriculum.
This was definitely the right call for him! I also fell in love with two curriculum options. There is no perfect curriculum, and I liked them both (and for totally different reasons), so I went ahead and got both. Meaning we are working through two curriculum for both language arts and math. This may be overkill; but, giving Ezra a good foundation in these KEY areas is very important to me. I feel like the curricula complement each other very well and make up for each other’s weaknesses. It’s been the perfect pairing for Ezra.
The Good and The Beautiful is very strong in managing multiple learning styles and regularly incorporates kinesthetic and auditory learning options throughout the curriculum. It’s fun and games, with a lot of manipulatives and variety! The Good and the Beautiful also is stronger in its “spiral” approach and a lot of review!
Masterbooks has a stronger doctrinal base, and incorporates Scripture and Bible stories into the curriculum (even the math and language arts). It is also more closely aligned with the beliefs which our family holds. There is also more copywork, which is good for Ezra to continue practice and honing his penmanship and fine motor skills. I feel like Masterbooks is a weaker in how it explains things, especially with math, and its amount of review.
What Ezra Finished for 3rd Grade:
- Learning Without Tears Letters & Numbers for Me (Kindergarten)
- Learning Without Tears My Printing Book (1st Grade)
- A Reason For Handwriting Level K (Kindergarten)
- The Good & The Beautiful Handwriting Level K (Kindergarten)
- The Good & The Beautiful Math Level 1 (1st Grade)
- The Good & The Beautiful Language Arts Level 2 (2nd Grade)
History (Combined with Little Brother):
I originally intended to study the 50 states using Road Trip USA from Confessions of a Homeschooler to have a US History overview – one state per week. This did NOT work! I joked that we were “being held hostage” by the Northeast, because there was SO much history to cover. We did a ton of reading and studying using living books, TV documentaries, art projects, YouTube videos, and so much more! Here’s some of the things we covered in a LOT of detail – click the links for our book lists!
- Landmarks & Symbols:
- Washington D.C. and all of its landmarks (the White House, Capitol, etc.)
- The Liberty Bell
- Ellis Island
- The American Flag
- The Pledge of Allegiance
- The Statue of Liberty
- The Star Spangled Banner
- The Declaration of Independence
- The Constitution and the Bill of Rights
- New York City
- Niagara Falls
- The Erie Canal
- States (The 13 Original Colonies)
- The Pilgrims
- Paul Revere
- Sybil Luddington
- Nathan Hale
- George Washington
- Thomas Jefferson
- John Adams
- Abigail Adams
- Alexander Hamilton
- Thomas Edison
- William Penn
- Betsy Ross
- Molly Pitcher
- Milton Hershey
- Benjamin Franklin
- The landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock (1620) and the First Thanksgiving (1621)
- The American Revolutionary War
- The Boston Tea Party
- The Boston Massacre
- The Battle of Lexington and Concord
- Valley Forge
- Washington crossing the Delaware River
- The First and Second Continental Congress
- The War of 1812 & The Battle of Baltimore
- Immigration in the late 1800s and early 1900s
Our favorite US History Resources:
- Chasing American Legends (free on Prime Video)
- Liberty’s Kids (DVD)
- Rush Revere
- Childhood of Famous Americans
- Discover America State by State
- America By the Numbers
- Graphic Heroes of the American Revolution
- Graphic History by Graphic Library
- Jr. Graphic Founding Fathers
- Jr. Graphic American Legends
- Graphic History by Graphic Planet
- History’s Kid Heroes by Graphic Universe
- On My Own: History / On My Own: Biography
- Tales of Young Americans
- Who HQ
- You Wouldn’t Want To… Series
- If You… Series
- If You Were a Kid… Series
By March, we were still only on our 9th state. I was starting to feel that, if we continued at our current rate, we will be studying US History until Ezra graduates from high school! From March until May, we did a rush overview of the last few colonies (Vermont, Rhode Island, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia).
Science (Combined with Little Brother):
For science, we are doing a DEEP DIVE through the seven days of God’s creation with both of the kiddos FOUR curricula (listed below as “in progress”) as well as a lot of additional living books and educational TV shows. We have just finished up Creation Day 4 and are moving onto Creation Day 5 on June 1st!
We have studied the following subjects in great detail:
- Creation Day 1: Light science, shadows, colors, and the rainbow
- Creation Day 2: clouds, the water cycle, thunderstorms, rain, snow, and the layers of the earth’s atmosphere
- Creation Day 3: the 7 continents, the layers of the earth, dirt, soil, and botany (trees, leaves, plants, fungi, flowers, seeds, grasses, fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, photosynthesis, and pollination)
- Creation Day 4: sun, moon, stars, space exploration, including biographical studies of Neil Armstrong, John Glenn, and Mark Kelly & Scott Kelly
Our favorite science resources:
- Nature Cat (Prime Video / PBS Kids Subscription)
- Sid the Creepy and Annoying Science Kid (Prime Video / PBS Kids Subscription)
- The Cat and the Hat Knows a Lot About That (Netflix / Amazon Prime)
- *Ready, Jet, Go (Prime Video / PBS Kids Subscription)
- *Magic School Bus (Netflix / Library DVDs)
- *Show Me Science (Prime Video)
- Wonders of God’s Creation (Prime Video)
*Stars indicate that these shows do contain evolutionary concepts. It’s not pervasive, but worth noting and discussing with your kids if you hold to Christian creation beliefs.
While we studied the states, I also chose certain of the state symbols to study to enrich our science studies. We studied the following state symbols:
- Maryland: Atlantic blue crab, black-eyed susans, Baltimore oriole
- Maine: lobsters, blueberries, pine cones, black capped chickadee
- Massachusetts: cranberries
- New York: ladybugs
- Pennsylvania: white tailed deer, fireflies, and chocolate
US History (1st 13 Colonies & DC): 595
Creation Science: 759
Language Arts: 50
Character, Behavior, & Social Skills: 136
Art & Music: 1
GRAND TOTAL: 1973
What’s In-Progress for Ezra:
- A Reason For Handwriting Level A (1st Grade)
- The Good & The Beautiful Handwriting Level 1 (1st Grade)
- The Good & The Beautiful Math Level 2 (2nd Grade)
- Masterbooks Math Lessons for a Living Education 2 (2nd Grade)
- Masterbooks God Made the World and Me (PreK)
- Masterbooks Creation: 13 6-in-1 Comprehensive Curriculum Lessons (Grades 1-4)
- Masterbooks Adventures in Creation (Grades K-3)
- Masterbooks God’s Design: Life for Beginners (Grades K-2)
Bible (Combined with Little Brother):
Music (Combined with Little Brother):
What I Shelved:
- The Verbal Math Lesson – I still may go back to this, but Ezra is a tactile learning more than he’s an auditory learner
- A Reason for Spelling – honestly, I just hated the illustrations, as well as layout with a separate teacher guide. Plus, he’s getting enough spelling in his other two curricula.
- Life of Fred – we tried the first book. I do not understand how people consider this a curriculum!!
- Masterbooks My Story and the World around Me (social studies) – I like the concept, but it is SO disorganized and disjointed, it just didn’t make sense to me. It felt mostly like busywork!
3rd Grade Level Testing:
During the last week of May, I administered the 3rd Grade Level California Achievement Test (online, untimed) to Ezra. I was pleasantly surprised that, while we spent the majority of this year in review of 1st and 2nd grade material, he tested at or above 3rd grade level in every subject! Thus, I feel confident advancing him to 4th grade!