Category Archives: Grade 4

The First Week of School

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I consider myself a realist. In most situations I notice both the good and the bad, and I don’t get overly excited by the good or depressed because of the bad. I just notice.

This first week of school there was some good and some bad. In no particular order, here are some of the situations we encountered.

  • One child, who felt like they were missing out on buses and lockers, was in tears one day and happy the next.
  • There was getting used to a more school-like schedule.
  • I entertained thoughts about whether I’m stifling their creativity by not “unschooling.”
  • Every one completed their new additional chores without complaining.
  • We spent a beautiful morning in the mountains with our little Waldorf preschool friends. Every week we will be getting out for at least one full morning and I’m really looking forward to those days. I may introduce some nature journaling for the two older kids.
  • For foreign language studies this year, I’m speaking Spanish to the ducklings one day each week – the same day we get outside. I’m using the Waldorf resource Senderos as my overall guide and the book Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish to guide us into a more academic approach to language. Neither of these books is a “ready-to-go” curriculum for children (Madrigal’s is written for adults to teach themselves), so I have to plan our Spanish lessons each week.
  • I decided to combine Teal’s first two blocks of seventh grade which will give us a full month to read Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc and work on perspective drawing. This works much better because we can begin or finish a perspective drawing skill and read two chapters together as part of her main lesson. We will also be doing some modeling projects and drawings based on what we read in Joan of Arc.
  • Pintail began a two-week form drawing block based on Marsha Johnson’s Grade 3-4 guide. The forms have been pretty fun, and a good preparation for more of the knotted forms we will try this year, but I always find that I must edit her stories a bit to feel authentic to me. He is also doing math review of regrouping, long division, long multiplication and the metric system measurement basics. We are using Jamie York’s free fact sheets for review of the basic times tables and functions.
  • Wigeon gets songs and poems each day and we are using the story “The Autumn Blanket” found in Autumn by Wynstones Press.
  • We baby sat my eleven-month-old nephew on Friday and the kids were all so helpful. It made me proud of them.
  • One afternoon after everyone got grumpy, I took some time to sit and really think about the reasons I think it’s better to home school my kids. Sometimes, all those long-thought-out things get forgotten. It’s good to reevaluate.
  • We have really enjoyed this cold and much wetter than usual August.

Thank you for reading! Have you started school? How are things going for your family?

Planning: Our 7th and 4th Grade Blocks

IMG_5117It’s that time of year! Carrie has a new planning post up along with links to other posts she has written on planning. I wrote about the way I plan a few years ago in this post. My basic technique remains the same, but I thought I’d share a few changes I’ve made along the way.

As the very first step, I still print out our local school district calendar. Like I mentioned before, it’s nicely done and the weeks and holidays are all marked for me! I also tend to keep our schedule very similar to the public school system. This allows my children to be available to play when their neighborhood peers are.

My second step is still folding a paper into twelve parts and writing down the months, the beginning dates of each week, and any birthdays, festivals and holidays. In the past, I have made a list of the blocks I wanted to cover along with how many weeks they will cover and started scribbling, erasing, moving and changing them until I was satisfied with where they fell. This year I got smart! I wrote the names of the blocks and how many weeks I planned for each onto strips of paper that I could just slide around. Wow! Not only does my big sheet look neater, it saved time. (I know you probably already do this, so don’t laugh!) Now that my blocks are laid out, I begin the tough stuff! I spend a good portion of the summer reading material, planning what to cover, how to cover it, what art to do, which projects, etc.

The way I record my plans has undergone revision over the years. One year, I typed out most of my plans day by day! Below you can see an example of some days from Teal’s Norse Myths block.

IMG_5130That was a lot of work and a LOT of time at the computer (BUT how glad I am to have those neat and detailed plans for fourth grade this year!) The following year, to avoid being chained to the computer every time I planned, I switched to recording our plans in a generic teacher’s planning book. That worked well, but this past year I switched to an even simpler method of printing out monthly templates here and filling them in! Below you can see an example of our November for third grade. Along the right side, I list things we will be doing daily as part of our main lesson, and what they will be doing independently. I keep them together with a paper clamp.

IMG_5131Without further ado, here’s what our 7th and 4th grade year will look like:

7th Grade

  • Perspective Drawing and Math Review
  • History – Magna Carta to Magellan (including Central and South American geography)
  • Intro to Algebra
  • Physics II
  • Renaissance

Christmas Break

  • Astronomy
  • Physiology
  • Wish, Wonder, Surprise (Creative Writing)
  • Chemistry
  • Geometry
  • History to get up to where I want to be to start Revolutions and U.S. History

4th Grade

  • Form Drawing and Math Review
  • Norse Myths (LA)
  • Math I; Fractions
  • Man & Animal
  • Math II; Addition & Subtraction of Fractions

Christmas Break

  • Norse Myths (LA)
  • Math III; Multiplying and Dividing Fractions
  • Local Geography & History
  • Man & Animal II

Wigeon’s plans are being worked out, too! I’d love to hear how your plans are coming!