Sep 14

Science Education for Early Elementary

Science4Us utilizes the inquiry-based 5E Instructional Model (Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate and Evaluate) as an effective educational approach shown to improve students’ science achievement (Bybee, Gardner, Van Scotter, Powell, Wesbrook, & Landes, 2006). S4U uses casual games, animation, video, embedded assessments, grade-appropriate reading passages, read-alouds, vocabulary exercises, electronic notebooks and virtual laboratory experiences for whole class, small group, or individual use. S4U is teacher friendly and provides students with recursive learning opportunities that can confront and correct naïve ideas and misconceptions. Students, be they pre-readers or literate, are guided through the multimedia experience at their own pace. The S4U curriculum provides a suggested sequence for usage and includes opportunities for differentiated instruction through leveled, offline support materials, activities and usage models. A student portfolio is compiled as journal entries are created and activities completed. Automated assessment reports are generated at the end of each activity to show student growth. The assessment reports depict when an activity was attempted, when it was completed, and time spent to complete the activity. Additionally, a record of students’ responses is catalogued on scorable activities. The assessment reports allow the teachers to evaluate, in real-time, students’ progress, thereby allowing the Evaluate component of the model to be continuously integrated. Student progress is presented digitally in an online “grade book” as a built-in function of the S4U management system for teachers.  


Teacher Professional Development and Capacity Building

A key component of S4U’s methodology is to provide professional development to teachers in small, easily-digested chunks at the time teachers most need it. The S4U internal professional development components includes short videos, embedded teacher guides, teaching strategies, and offline support materials including lesson plans, hands-on investigations, evaluations, as well as student literacy and demonstration of mastery activities. The professional development tools are designed to enhance teachers’ instructional approaches and content knowledge. Each module includes content specific videos regarding background knowledge, common misconceptions, proper conception, and best teaching practices. S4U is aware of the sensitivity teachers may have about weaknesses in their own content knowledge, so the curriculum provides information to teachers as short embedded videos that can be viewed, or read, at the teachers’ convenience. In addition, S4U will provide videos of teachers engaged in best science practices and will provide teachers with an opportunity to hear master science teachers reflect on their practice. The Science4Us professional development materials incorporate the new Standards for Science Teacher Preparation (SSTP) from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). The SSTP framework seeks to help teachers develop the skills, knowledge, and abilities needed to become effective science teachers. These new standards will be implemented starting in the 2012 school year (Veal, 2011). S4U, by providing embedded, content-based professional development, is poised to address the goals of these new standards.

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Sep 11

Third Grade Words

In third grade, the new challenge is accumulating words, learning third grade vocabulary.  Why? It works like this: in kindergarten through second, the major focus is phonics and decoding.  Kids learn these basics. In third grade, they start to read real chapter books which they can only hope to do if they accumulate the vocabulary that they need.  Here’s some info on 3d grade spelling and vocabulary word study should be like (from VocabularySpellingCity):

VocabularySpellingCity offers a wide range of free third grade spelling and vocabulary word lists. Teachers can choose from hundreds of word lists to assign engaging, interactive games in phonics, spelling, or vocabulary. VocabularySpellingCity also provides activities and printable worksheets to supplement the third grade language arts curriculum.

Third grade spelling lists include Dolch and Fry sight word lists; word structure lists (contractions); and VocabularySpellingCity’s beginning spelling curriculum, which is aligned to the research of Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Third grade students can practice grade level literacy skills, like compound words, through the use of VocabularySpellingCity’s interactive online games.

Additionally, there is more profound work in the other subjects such as math, science, and social studies.  For 3rd grade math vocabulary, and I again I quote them:
Learning third grade math words in the right context is a challenge even for third graders. For example, the term “degree” can have many meanings, with several that are particular to 3rd grade math vocabulary itself. Keeping track of the many varying usages of terms for math study can be daunting. Still, thanks to targeted online games and corresponding printable worksheets, learning these alternate 3rd grade math definitions can be as simple as 1-2-3!

The third grade math vocabulary lists are based on the Common Core Third Grade Math Standards. Third graders can use the automated reader to listen to the third grade math terms that they need to learn. They can also gain concrete experience through the many interactive and exciting math vocab grade 3 games available to them. Every child responds better to elementary math vocabulary when it is presented in context rich, meaningful ways. Third grade students who use the themed math vocabulary lists gain math confidence and benefit from math vocabulary drills and practice that keep them interested and coming back for more!

Now science and social studies for third grade has more diversity around the country.  While math and language arts are, despite the bruhaha, standardized around the country thanks to the CCSS, there were no real set of social studies standards published.  Well, to be honest, the social studies standards were developed and were published by the much less prestigious National Council on Social Studies:
VocabularySpellingCity nevertheless has third grade social studies vocabulary word lists available for everyone too.

The fourth specialized area of vocabulary for third grade is …Yes, it is science. The NGSS standards or framework has helped develop some national level of standards and it’s moving forward slowly.  VSC has some third grade science vocabulary words accumulated and collected. Here is an example list of third grade science vocabulary for space science:



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Aug 22

Remembering Third Grade

She went to Manatee Bay Elementary and what she remembers about third grade:

  • Teachers name – It was Miss Allen. She was a tall hispanic lady with two kids and some health problems during the year
  • The classroom had long tables split with three kids to a row, 24 kids in the class
  • There was a special teacher for art, music, library, and science
  • She’s a little unclear about what she learned in third grade.
  • She does remember studying for and taking third grade spelling tests. She is pretty sure that she got 100 on all of third grade spelling word lists. Lists were 20 words long
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May 11

Music in Homeschooling

Music is a big part of our culture. Most people enjoy listening to it, some even play an instrument, and/or sing. There are some of us who picked up these talents later on into adulthood, but most started when they were kids. Yes, music is a big part of who we are in today’s modern world.  So, of course I have made sure to include it as part of our homeschool curriculum, with music history, fun music games, and lessons. Currently, my children are taking piano and guitar lessons. So, if you have never considered teaching your child about music, maybe now you might decided to. (;

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Apr 01

3rd Grade Writing

Learning to write can be difficult for some children, easy for others. Now, I am not talking about penmanship, I am talking about using one’s imagination to create a story. For some, the words flow naturally, but for others it can be hard to just come up with a catchy title. What I found is that a good topic can really help get those juices flowing. That is why my children have just started a story about the Easter bunny. With Easter almost here, I figured how fun it would be to have them create a short story involving this character. Kids seem to really love it when you use themes in their homeschooling lessons and when they are happy, they tend to do better work.

Happy Easter!

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Mar 09

3r Grade Reading

Since my children were learning to read, they have been hooked. They love it! They are always at the library looking for a new book to read and they will even use their allowance to buy an eBook from time to time. Besides the mystery, thriller, action adventure books, my children love to read books by homeschoolers, but I guess we all like to read books we can relate to. If your 3rd grader has not developed a love for reading yet, maybe try to find books that they can relate to. (;

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Feb 02

3rd Grade Poetry

If you have wanted to have your third grader practice their writing skills, February is a unique opportunity to do just that. With Valentine’s Day on the fourteenth, you can let your child have fun creating poetry. You can find age appropriate samples online, that you can read together, to give them some inspiration first.  You can also take this assignment one step further, by giving your child a Valentines spelling words list that they must use in their poem. There are some fun spelling games you can also have your child do as well.

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Jan 08

Third Grade Math

Third grade math can be easy for some children and hard for others. Addition and subtraction was one thing in previous grades, but learning math facts like multiplication, division, and fractions is a bit harder. Kids can sometimes develop a bit of math anxiety, when they do not automatically understand the material being taught to them. If your child is having some issues with learning their math this year, I have a suggestion for you. Math games! They are a great way for children to learn without any pressure. Learning games are great because they allow children to learn while having fun. You can find many, many math games on the internet, some even free. Which is always helpful when homeschooling 😉

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Dec 01

Christmas Crafts for 3rd Grade

The holidays are a wonderful time to add some fun crafts to your regular art curriculum. There are so many to make, it can be hard to pick. So, I will share with you two that I plan to do with my children this December.

Angel Plates

What you need: White paper plates, pipe cleaners, markers, scissors, stapler

Home-made Snow Globe

What you need:  Jar, glitter, anything you would like to put in the globe.

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Nov 03

Thankful Turkeys

If you are looking for a fun Thanksgiving craft to add to your homeschooling this month, here is one that I like to do every year called “Thankful Turkeys”. What is a Thankful Turkey? Well you have you child trace their hand on a piece of paper. Then have them cut out that paper and glue it to another piece of paper, preferably a different color. Next, you will have your child draw feet, eyes, and a beak on the hand. Then have your child cut out different colored feathers. Then all at once, every day, or every other day (that is up to you), have your child write what they are thankful for on the feathers and glue them onto their turkey “fingers”. A fun craft for all ages!

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