Nov 01

Making online computer games part of your 3rd grade curriculum

We have used a lot of educational games at different times during our school year. Sometimes it is to relieve boredom of rain or snow outside, at others it is to occupy your time while you work on problems with a sibling. These sites with learning games can also be a valuable resource of free educational topics. Just playing some of these games allows today’s kids to become more productive on the computer.

Some examples of sites that I am talking about are-
SpellingCity.com (great site for helping with spelling tests)
http://www.learninggamesforkids.com/ ( games in many different subjects)
Scratch ( free down-loadable computer programming for kids)
Animal Planet ( information and games about animals and the environment)
These may not be what your children are into but it can give you some ideas to think about based on your child’s strengths and interests.

The programs above are ones that I use on a daily basis for our 3rd grade curriculum, but there are so many others available for free or at little cost. Usually you can decide on a need that you have and find, after a small amount of time researching, a online computer game that explains or demonstrates the concept you are looking for. My 3rd grader has spent several hours on multiplication game Timex Attack, he even asked for the upgrade for a Christmas present! Now that is a learning game!

So don’t forget to use computer learning games and sites for your 3rd grade curriculum.

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Oct 15

Add Volunteering into your 3rd Grade curriculum

Public service is a wonderful gift to give to your child and to the world around them. Is there a better way to show our children about those less fortunate? There are a few volunteer opportunities for your 3rd grader, you just need to know where to look. But getting them involved now with community service of any kind can be a great asset to their academic career. If they have been volunteering for a long enough time you can even get a letter of recommendation from that place to put in with your transcript, which will help you further down the road.

I am not talking about just helping out at the soup kitchen once or twice a year; usually they wouldn’t even remember you in that amount of time. But by adding a consistent routine of volunteering into your schedule, your child will reap the benefits of this public service. There are a couple different volunteer opportunities that are always in need of help (and you may not even be aware of them).  The SPCA is a great place for animal-loving kids to help out, as long as you are willing to volunteer with them since anyone under 16 must have a parent there with them. If you are raising a future caretaker, you might want to gear your volunteering towards hospitals and senior citizen centers. There are also road cleanups for environmentally concerned families. At this point in their lives you will be a big part of teaching by example, so why not add
it now to show them the benefits of helping those in need.

Anything that you can do for this wonderful world we live in would be a great learning experience for you and your child. So add volunteering to your 3rd grade curriculum!

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Oct 01

Make sure to add the fun into your 3rd grade curriculum

This ought to be a no brainer, right? Well most of us think that homeschooling is fun everyday, HAHAHA!  But seriously – – it can be fun everyday, as long as I am willing to do a lot of work on my part to make it so! Of course, at the end of the day we all feel better when the day has been refreshingly pleasant with no outbursts of brotherly love or that back talk that accompanies even the most respectful of teens from day to day.

Are you wondering about some ways to add fun into your 3rd grade curriculum? Here are a couple that I have tried and that have worked for us. They will give you a jumping point to find activities that work for your family. We have made a history day – – a day of studying  about a time in history that is fascinating to the boys or myself, where we do activities all day about that place and time in history. We have meals that were common during that time in history, (some are better than others). Sometimes we dress like the people we are studying, or we go without the comforts they wouldn’t have had in those days. Our favorite activity is making the crafts from the time period. We have weaved baskets out of grasses and made seals for our important documents.

Of course you don’t have to go all out like that; you could just visit a museum or learning center that has an exhibit on the history you are studying. It all depends on what is fun for your family. I love homeschooling, it is the greatest single thing I can do for my kids and I am learning along with them.

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Sep 15

Computers Computers Computers

There is no lack of information on this subject; computers are here to stay for the foreseeable future.  Most kids are already computer savvy, but giving them some basic lessons if they need them is a great addition to your 3rd grade curriculum. There are many different areas in which you can go with a computer’s class:  keyboarding, basic computer outlay and functions, and the more advanced computer programming. Don’t worry if you are not knowledgeable in all or even any of these areas, there is so much help in these subjects that you will be able to find help on almost any problem.

Keyboarding has almost replaced handwriting so adding a keyboarding class is a necessity in our life. There are both free programs, games and sites dedicated to keyboarding or you can buy a program or subscription to add a more structured course. My boys personally like the online keyboarding games which offer them fun ways to study correct hand and finger placement. Their keyboarding is improving in speed and accuracy,which means no more one-finger-hunt typing for them.

Learning all about computers is another key skill to have. Most can turn the computer on and off and find their favorite sites. But to know how to properly shut down a computer so that you do not lose valuable data is a lifesaver! Add to that the skills to use search engines and create, then save, files will save them many headaches down the road.

Computers are here to stay, so why not give your 3rd  grader the skills that will help them throughout their school career and their future jobs.

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Sep 01

Foreign Languages in our 3rd grade curriculum

Learning a foreign language during the 3rd grade may be just what you and your child are looking for and maybe not! I have noticed that a lot of homeschooling parents have added a foreign language into their child’s 3rd grade curriculum ( and many have added it at even lower ages). I ,too,believe that it is an important step for children to explore languages other then their own to fully understand this world we live in. But what language should you teach? Should it be the basics on several or an in depth study of one? This answer will vary from family to family. If your son or daughter wish to travel the world the basics in several might be in order. But maybe your family business is in an  area of the U.S. with a high percentage of Spanish-speakers, then speaking Spanish fluently might be prudent.

So far in our household, only my oldest has shown interest in learning a different language.  Until my youngest shows peculiar interest in one language or another, we will be studying Spanish. Only because there is a need in our area for him to have a basic understanding of this much used language.

If teaching a foreign language isn’t something that you are ready to teach, think outsourcing.
There are many learning centers that teach kids and adults how to speak different languages. They usually have native speaking teachers which adds a lot to the class. You can receive a higher quality of  instruction from these teachers. ( well at least we have learned more).
Or again online there are so many programs and sites that are free to use. Many of the more kid-friendly sites are geared towards younger children, just like your 3rd grader. Don’t let your child be left behind in this subject!

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Aug 15

Don’t forget the recess in 3rd Grade

I know that I can get extremely busy during the school year, that  I sometimes forget to have recess for my 3rd grader. This important “school” tradition isn’t something that I usually  remember since we started homeschooling. But it is an important time for every 3rd grader to  experience. Yes, its true they will not usually have a group of friends to play with (unless the local school is tracked out) ,but it may be time to have a play group at your house at least once a week so that your child can play with their peers. Or make it to the local homeschool park day. (if yours has one) I was surprised to find out that our local community had track out days for the public school kids which we could go and partake in their “open” gym time. There are so many ways for you add the recess into your 3rd grade curriculum, even during the winter months.

I can tell the days that I have forgotten to add recess into my youngest day. He becomes very irritable and sometimes emotional about the trivial of things. One day he said, “ I just want to ride my scooter, is that too much to ask?” I was flabbergasted, up until that point he was doing a spectacular job with his multiplication facts. It just goes to show you that public had a good practice that I used to think was there to give the teacher or students “free time”. It is also a down time for the growing brain, and it gives at least my 3rd grader just enough rest in between difficult tasks.

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Aug 01

Drama, music, poetry and more for your 3rd Grader

When you think about all the headlines on schools cutting  extracurricular programs from their schools, isn’t it wonderful that we as homeschooling families don’t have to!  I know that I have talked in the past about how important I believe art is, but I am talking about the other arts here. Drama, band, poetry classes and more are important to kids as a way to express themselves. I love the fact that the national problems of the schools do not effect our extracurricular art classes. And a lot of parents in my local group feel the same way. We have an abundance of parents setting up classes, plays and group get-togethers for elementary aged kids to share talents with their peers. Some might think that it is too early to worry about adding these types of classes for our 3rd graders. But I do not, and here is why.

Every child needs an outlet for their interests, some are content with playing with toys while others are creative in other ways. Poetry , for instance, is a popular subject right now with our homeschool group- yes ,mostly the girls but some boys too. Drama is another area that is gaining popularity with our group, there are parents who are directing plays through our local theater so that their children can explore this worth while of endeavors.

In our house, it is music what is creating an interest with my youngest. Unlike his older brother, he chose the guitar, to be more precise the electric guitar, and he has already made up part of a new song. OK, so it is a mixture of chords that he loves, BUT I could have the next rocker in my house;) So why not let him go nuts! At least, he isn’t sitting in front of the TV vegging out or on video games, he is using his brain even when I haven’t told him too.

I talk a lot about online programs because they are a staple in my house where my oldest can explore his interests from the comforts of home. I also research online games or videos that show them the results of others whose lives have been influenced by, or who influence the arts.One local boy we know made a movie about tracking animals and put his video on http://www.youtube.com/ for everyone to see! The sky is the limit and now is a perfect time to experiment with different interests to see if your child shows a desire to take it to the next level.

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Jul 15

3rd Grade Sports, teaching teamwork

Every child -even those who are not coordinated-need to get out and exercise. One of the most favorable ways to do this is through sports (and no I am not talking about sitting on the couch watching them or playing a video sports game). I am talking about getting out to the basketball hoop and shooting hoops or joining the local soccer or baseball teams. Some who are not inclined to these types of sports could also do swimming or the Martial arts, which are still an intense workout.

My youngest likes to kick around the soccer ball, but wasn’t interested in playing the sport on a team. I was wanting him to be involved with not only the physical part of a sport but also the feeling of being on a team. So last year we joined our neighborhood swim team, and he loved both the practice and completing in the meets! When the season was over for the neighborhood swim team, we joined a local year round swim team.  It is great exercise for him and helps get him around other kids his age. A double bonus is that he works up a sweat and socializes in between laps! (really not a problem for my talkative child) We joined the non-competitive league so that we were not committed to the five days a week and meets on the weekend. Most team sports require something like this, but you can always find a sport that meets your family’s needs. Martial arts is another sport that you can tailor to your schedule. You can go as much as six days a week or just twice a week whatever works for your family.

At this point in your child’s school career, they should have the choice on which activity that they would like to pursue. But they should be getting their PE time at least twice a week, so that they are not driving you crazy with all of the energy that they have. I love being able to find the right mix of peer activities for my 3rd grader to participate  in. Bonus, when I don’t have to listen about the Captain Underpants books story again, good humor for him- not so much me!

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Jun 15

Field Trips ARE Important for any curriculum

Field trips are a lot of fun for any age – – its not like the field trips in public school to the pumpkin patch! Just about any subject – – from chemistry to art – – can turn into a field trip! Almost every state has wonderful resources for you to use if you know where to look.  There is an abundance of information on this topic on the internet; just sit back and relax and let your fingers find your next field trip! Or talk with your local homeschool group and see what others have found. You will be surprised with the amount of information most groups have.

Now you might be wondering? “Why would my 3rd grader want to go and see the dinosaurs at the museum  again?” or “ We have been to the historic home of (insert someone famous here) a bazillion times, why do it again?” Well I think it comes down to this simple saying: repetition is good for any growing mind. Their bodies and minds are changing sometimes at such a rate that they might need to go back and visit places again.  Another benefit is that you can go deeper into the meaning or history of something once you have been there. For example, my boys love the outdoors and we often take classes through the local nature preserves in the area. Whether it is doing the snake identification class to bird seed feeders and the ever popular bat finding class (at night), your child will love to learn on these fun field trips.

Yes, field trips sometimes are the one thing that we as homeschoolers love to plan for our kids. Thus giving them the freedom to be with their peers is a wonderful thing. But they can also bring you and your children closer if it is a family field trip for you all to explore and discover the wonders around you.

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Jun 01

Science Studies in the 3rd Grade

My boys can’t get enough of this (hard-for-me-to-teach) subject; we all love the experiments or science field trips that we have done. But trying to explain to them why the cold water crushed the soda can and other such scientific oddities is a bit of an issue for us.They can’t wait to show their dad when he comes home about the newest experiment that we have done, but when he asks them why this or that worked  they become tongue-tied trying to explain. A lot of homeschooling parents have this issue as well. (Okay, maybe not the science majors but the rest of us do!)

A couple of ways to teach this subject so that your kids will retain the important information (not just the explosions) are to show the concept first using he many free videos on http://www.freelyeducate.com/ and http://www.youtube.com/. Then talk about the scientific reasoning behind each experiment as you are performing it .(for example: what causes the can to implode when it goes into the freezing water)  I always repeat the experiment a couple more times explaining as we go-sometimes they will remember and sometimes they don’t. But they usually retain a little each time we do it, so in my house repeating is key!

Yet another way to teach science is to outsource it to someone who can! There are always classes through the parks and rec or some cities even have science centers where some experiments are available for anyone to try. My favorite by far have been online science classes. There are many to choose from, ones that are included in online schools or curricula or specialty sites that offer more science than you can shake a stick at!

There are other families that I know that group science with math studies. This works extremely well for some children, and we are even going to give it  a try with some of our work this year. I love the experiences that we have had so far for the first half of 3rd grade. Our family is all about tweaking our schedule to accommodate whatever interests us at that moment. Science is no different for us.

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