Curriculum Choices- 3rd Grade

It is unreal how quickly summer is flying by… Temperature-wise it will be summer for quite a while longer here in Georgia, but nonetheless school starts back in 3 more weeks. I will have a 3rd grader and and 8th grader (and an infant as my TA). We chose much of the same curriculum as last year, making only minor adjustments.

Singapore Math Standard Edition 3A and 3B
We switched to Singapore our second month into homeschooling last year and have not looked back. J likes the colorful book and enjoys these workbooks so much better than our previous choice. I like how the teacher manual is organized and the multi-faceted approach to teaching concepts. After all, each child learns differently and Singapore does a fine job at offering several approaches to every concept.

Language Arts:
We chose Rod and Staff’s Beginning Wisely series. This year I went ahead and purchased the worksheets. Hopefully, this will help J stay focused a little better, instead of copying everything into his notebook. Yes, I understand that copywork is important at this age, and we will do plenty of it, but I cannot have him get bogged down with frustration at the writing part, as it takes his focus away from the topic at hand.

We are also using Rod and Staff Bible readers again. I didn’t purchase the 3rd grade work books this year, as we still have 2 units from last year to finish, but the readers are so good. He enjoys reading them as much as I like listening to him!

The goal is to plow through Levels 3 and 4 in All About Spelling. Spelling actually was a lot more fun last year than I thought it would be. Jonah enjoyed spelling many new words and learning many spelling rules utilizing magnetic letter tiles. Check out the demo video at You will see an official review on this program from me in the future!

History Prescripts from Classical Conversations (more on CC below).

History, Science, Geography, Music, and Art:

Classical Conversations (CC) is the spine of most of our learning. Last year I began the school year with a History curriculum and a  Science curriculum and quickly realized that I had simply bitten off too much to chew. This year we will continue what worked so well for us the second half of the school year: utilizing the weekly memory work from CC as a jumping off point for deeper learning. The history focus this year in CC’s cycle 3 is US history and US Geography is covered for the Geo part of our memory work. We will use the weekly memory sentence for our handwriting practice (see Prescripts) and utilize our Kingfisher History Encyclopedia to explore further. This enables J to spend more time on those topics that interest him more, and only the minimum on topics that are not of particular interest. The idea is that we will cycle through all of the info again in three years- after all, we are learning classically and subject mastery is the goal! We also supplement with Story of the World, by Susan Wise Bauer. J loves both the books  and the audio version.

Science works in much the same way. We also utilize the Kingfisher Encyclopedia here. Since the focus of Cycle 3 is Anatomy, I am able to use the fantastic curriculum I purchased last year as a supplementation. I absolutely adore the Apologia Press science books and student notebooks. I am excited that we get to use them more this year!

And FINALLY- last but definitely not LEAST…


I purchased a wonderful curriculum in Germany called Das Neue Deutschmobil, which is used in schools there for children, whose native language is not German, much like ESL is here. J will be forced to learn my native tongue… it is no longer and option. I am, after all, a German in Georgia!

The Question -1- Reading

imageReading is the number 1 most important tool to life-long learning. How do you approach reading with your child? How do you discuss books with you child that you have not read yourself? How do you encourage your child to read a variety of books?
In light of our upcoming school year, I am currently reading The Question by Leigh Bortins. This book specifically addresses how to school classically through the dialectic stage of learning. For me this is particularly interesting, since we have not taught our children classically in the past (that is before last year, anyway) and I have a 13 year-old, who fits perfectly into the dialectic stage.
We are part of our local Classical Conversations group and my soon-to-be eighth grader will be in Challenge B next school year. (I could go on and on about CC and our experience with Challenge A last year, but there are others out there, who have done a phenomenal job, so I will leave you to explore Mary’s blog at, or visit Amy at,  or for more CC inspiration go to check out Brandy’s blog at I will post more on our first year with Foundations and Challenge in the future, but for now indulge me as I share about “The Question.”
*** I have struggled with these questions, and many more, over the past couple of years, as my child seems to be reading the same books over, and over, and over. I have discussed said topics with people that I consider WAY smarter than myself and have received a variety of answers and suggestions. My fear, however, of ruining reading for my child by imposing too many “rules” has not been decimated.
I feel empowered and encouraged by Leigh! I don’t (surprise, surprise!) have to read every book my kiddo reads, in order to ask him good questions about it. The beauty of the dialectic stage of learning is that children learn by teaching or explaining things back to you. What better way to find out about what he’s reading!
Here are a few simple guidelines:
– Ask “Who? What? How? What? (who is the story about, what happens, how is the issue solved, what happens next…etc)
– It is helpful to have children own their own books, so they can highlight, circle, bookmark, etc. (Note: mine cannot STAND to mark up his books, so I try to encourage him to use little stickies.)
– An important framework to asking good questions is through the 5 Common Topics of Definition, Comparisson, Relationship, Circumstance, and Testimony. These topics lend and array of questions you can ask your dialectic child (ex: 1) What is history?- Definition 2) How is history similar to/different from geography?- Comparison  3) Did slavery cause the Civil War? – Relationship (aka cause and effect)   4) What else was going on when…? – Circumstance   5)Where did we receive this information from? -Testimony)

Finally, Leigh points out that it is totally acceptable for children to read good fiction and for them to read good books over and over. She states that “good literature investigates the experiences that are commmon to mankind and allows readers to consider the answers to our deepest questions.” In short, good literature, even ficiton, help children make sense of the world by living vicariously through their favorite protagonists.

So the next time I see P reading the same book AGAIN, I will remind myself that he is exploring ancient Greece through the eyes of Percy Jackson!

What is your child reading? How do you approach literature with your children? I would love to hear from you!


Creative Juices flowing

I have had many plans for Little Bit’s room.

This past week I completed them- FINALLY! (he’s only 7 months old…it’s about TIME)

Originally, I sewed his curtain, crib bumper pad, and crib skirt. These I actually finished before he was born.


My mother-in-law made him the precious quilt to match.


The bigger boys actually helped with the appliqué on these throw pillows.


My plans had revolved around utilizing the main main colors of his bedding (teal, red, yellow, orange) around the room. In April I finally got around to painting his changing table. I love the combo of teal and the orange on the changing pad.


In May I managed to have a little time to paint his crib. Isn’t the butter cream yellow delicious looking? I like the combo with the red sheet and the bed skirt and bumper pad kind of pull it all together.


Finally, last week I finished the paintings I had so desired for his walls. I pulled a few elements from his bedding (which, btw, is called “Boy Crazy”) and painted them on old cabinet doors. Don’t you just love the friendly little robot?


I also painted and distressed his book shelf and a step stool to complete the room.


The rocking chair would look good in red, but Pop had refinished it for boy #1 when he was a baby and there is no touching it with paint….

so I at least made a cushion to match!


Landesgartenschau Schwäbisch Gmünd

We took many field trips while in Germany last month. Here is one that I would like to share with you. My words won’t do it justice, so I will post a few pictures.

Every couple of years, a particular city in our home Bundesland (kind of like a state) of Baden-Wuertemberg, gets to host what is called “Landesgartenschau.” This is a garden, flower and plant expo, that utilizes big parts of the city, including structures, city parks, surrounding forests, you get the picture. It is quite a production and the vast variety of plants and flowers is absolutely amazing:


This tower was at the top entrance of the expo. It was built specifically for this event and each of the nearly 200 steps was sponsored by a particular business or family. We were able to get a general grasp of the layout and decide from there what we wanted to see up close!


This was taken from the tower. It is to give you an idea of how creatively the flowers and flower beds were arranged!

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Aren’t these stunning? I wish it wasn’t quite so hot in Georgia to allow for some summer gardening, but also to be able to grow some of these species here!

What was also really cool, is how the kids were engaged along the way. There was an enormous water play ground, with wooden floats, sprinklers, sand, gravel, you name it. We had a terrific lunch picnic while J was busy playing.

There was also a marble track that ran through the forest. This was brilliant! The walk down into the city was about 1.2 miles or so and to keep the kids moving, they had built a marble track that ran along most of the path. Both J and P were entertained and I never heard one of them complain about walking!

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At the end of our walk, we arrived at the Limes. Did you know the Roman empire expanded all the way into Germany? The Limes is the approximate line of how far into Germany they penetrated. Periodically, you can find remnants:


Once in town, we went into an exposition hall. While the whole expo runs for several months, through October, the expo hall features weekly displays of cut flower arrangement. We were privileged to see a rose exposition.


This was my favorite display. Doesn’t it just look yummy?

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Here is the website to the event if you are interested and want to find out more:

Welcome back!

It has been several weeks since my last post, and there are still a few excursions in Germany that I want to write about. First, I have to catch you up on some of the goings-on around here:

1) Little Bit has his first (and now second) tooth!

2) Little Bit has learned to consistently roll over and has expanded his circle of playtime in our living room. Obviously, leaving him on my bed or even taking my hand off him on the changing table are no longer an option!

3) GERMANY WON THE SOCCER WORLD CUP! Oh yeah, that was a biggie at our house. I remember being 13 when they won it in 1990 (yes, I did just give away my age!) and this year my oldest is 13. It was providential that they should win… and it really was TIME!!!



4) P is absolutely HOT for tennis these days. Last week he played every single day of the week, this week he had to “miss” a day, due to the inconvenience of being taken to Six Flags by a friend…:-) Next week, he and his team will be playing at the USTA State Championships in Macon, GA. They have all been working so hard at their game, I am excited to see, what Macon holds for them this year.

5) J is happiest when in the water or with a friend, or preferably, BOTH. He has had the great experience of jumping off both the 3m board and the 5m tower in Germany, and he did repeated flips off the 1m board as well. Sometimes I wonder if he would be better served on a swim team than tennis lessons….

6) I am coming to the realization, that we only have a few more weeks before school starts back and have begun some minor planning. At some point, I will need to kick that into a little higher gear. We have taken the entire summer off, not even done any formal reading. I have ENJOYED it as much as my boys have. We have not been bored and have had the freedom to do some other things, such as finishing Little Bit’s room (it only took 7 months….), reading a novel- actually, two!, and I have rediscovered homeopathy and have immersed myself in studying more about different remedies that fit for the individual members of my family. (More on that later!)

7) The Man is keeping busy with his bees. He has his first batch of honey harvest put away, which was very exciting to him. He ahs grown his bees from 1 hive to 3 this year, 2 of which are doing well. His third hive he calls his “experiment hive.” It has some issues and he is trying different techniques to help it thrive. I am working on having him write a post or two about his endeavor.

What have YOU done this summer? Please do share in the comment section. I would love to hear from you!