This year is the first year that I am not using a packaged curriculum with my boys. After five years of homeschooling, I am finally getting a good idea of what works with my boys and what doesn’t.
In past years we used the Bookshark grade level all-in-one curriculum, and while I loved parts of it, not everything worked for us. The literature selections were excellent, but the language arts portion was writing-heavy, and since my boys enjoy writing the least, it was always a struggle (and usually tear-inducing).
Bookshark History was great in the earlier years, but last year’s study of early 1900’s American history was, well, boring. That was the year we abandoned our studies mid-year and jumped into a US Geography study instead.
I am still a big fan of the Bookshark Science program though, and we are using it again this year and will most likely continue with it next year as well.
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Third Grade Homeschool Language Arts
Since both of my boys are so averse to writing, I decided the route this year would be towards strengthening the basics — spelling, grammar, sentence structure, etc. For this I chose Language Smarts (TM) Level D from the Critical Thinking Company.
I started the year also incorporating Writing Detective from CTC but I didn’t love it and the boys definitely didn’t enjoy it.
My “aha” moment in writing this year came when I realized that the boys’ dislike for writing generally comes from being told what to write. To my delight and surprise, my oldest spontaneously started writing his own book and keeping a journal this year (to which I begrudgingly credit Diary of a Wimpy Kid books). And you know what? He has been incorporating good grammar skills, punctuation, and best of all, some really good descriptive adjectives!
And now more recently, my third grader has started his own book as well. So it looks like I’ll be sticking with the basics for now, and gently encouraging them to continue their free writing.
Third Grade Homeschool Spelling
We are using another Critical Thinking Company workbook for spelling this year, a great program called Word Roots. I chose this because it teaches the meaning and spelling of roots, prefixes, and suffixes, that are the essential elements of used to form English words. Plus, you can never start prepping for SATs too early, right?
Third Grade Homeschool Math
Though we started the year with Teaching Textbooks, my third grader just did not enjoy doing math on the computer. He’s a doodler. I think that not having paper in front of him was an issue for him.
So, we switched back to workbook-style math and he’s been much happier. Again I turned to the Critical Thinking Company since we have used their math workbooks in the past. Although he was working a grade ahead in Teaching Textbooks, I chose the third grade Level D Mathematical Reasoning book because it includes concepts that are usually taught in fourth grade.
Third Grade Homeschool Science
This year we are using Bookshark Level 3 Science. We’ve had a lot of fun doing experiments with growing corn and beans, dropping objects off a bridge to text the theory of gravity, and learning about all the interesting adaptations that plants and animals have to help them survive.
Third Grade History
Although my oldest (5th grader) has already studied early civilizations, I decided this year to revisit since we haven’t covered it yet with my youngest.
I chose to start the Story of the World history sequence since I had heard so many good things about it. Since we’d already used the equivalent Bookshark history course, I wanted my oldest to at least have a different perspective. We did however use a few books leftover from our Bookshark study like Time Traveler and Usborne’s Book of World History.
Most of our readers this year have been living history books that correspond to what we are studying in Story of the World. The favorites so far were the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, which both boys just devoured. I actually only assigned the first book while we were studying ancient Greece, but they continued reading the rest of the series on their own. My oldest even went on to read the next series about Roman gods.
In addition to the usual language arts, math, science, and history, both boys are learning coding, Spanish, and how to type.
For Spanish we are using Duolingo. I love that it’s free, it works on computers and tablets/mobile, and I can create a classroom that allows me to keep track of the lessons my boys are completing. I do believe that I will at some point need to reinforce the grammar and verb conjugation but for now this works for us.
We tried quite a few different typing programs but the boys ended up choosing NitroType. They are using it in their homeschool enrichment program and enjoy the race car and competition aspect of it.
I didn’t start out assigning coding this year because although the boys showed interest in the past it never seemed to be something that held their interest. Finally this year they were lured in by code.org and its crazy Dance Party lab. They use blocks of code to create a, well, dance party, complete with music and dancing characters.
After seeing how much fun they had with the Dance Party and their sudden renewed interest in coding, I was intrigued when an ad for Bitsbox turned up in my Facebook feed. Bitsbox is subscription-based learning system that teaches coding. You can choose to receive a monthly box with all of the lessons printed for you, or you can choose to just have the PDFs emailed to you. We chose the PDF version (it’s cheaper :). So far the boys are loving it, and they are both able to have their own accounts and share the subscription. I definitely recommend checking out Bitsbox!
Phew! So that’s what we are using this year for third grade. To see what we chose for our fifth grade curriculum this year, hop on over to this post!