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4th Grade Reading Comprehension

I remember in 4th grade that we were doing the SRA activities daily.  SRA was an odd system with stories and articles on cards organized by colors with reading comprehension and vocabulary questions related to the readings.  It’s not clear to me whether it worked or not but I do remember that it was sort of fun to work individually reading all the different stories and articles.

There was also the 4th Grade Weekly Reader that we read.  In terms of books, I think that I was still reading the Enid Blyton books such as The Magic Far Away Tree and the Five Run Away Together.  I think that year I started to read the Narnia Books in 4th grade.

Back to Homeschool!

All the stores are displaying their back-to-school sales at this time of year. You can see class supply lists made available in the stationary isle. You are probably pulling together your list of needed supplies for homeschool. What curriculum will you use this year? How well did last year’s curriculum work out? What do we need to do differently? These are all questions that run through a homeschool mom’s mind as she gears up for the new year. If you are like me, you’ve been pondering these questions all summer and are pretty close to making some decisions. This is one my favorite parts of the school year! Aside from letting out for summer! It’s a brand new start and a chance to avoid the mistakes I made the year before. Of course, I will make different mistakes this year, but my kids and I will learn and grow from them!

unit studies

You’ve probably heard of them, but what exactly is a unit study?  A unit study is simply learning about a particular subject, whether it be grasshoppers, ocean currents, or a particular book.  A unit study could be about anything, as long as you’re able to cover the material in depth and from different angles.  This method is great when you’re homeschooling multiple children, because the older kids can learn about predicting weather from ocean currents, for example, while the younger ones learn about the life cycle of a fish.  It’s all connected as a unit study about oceans!

Unit studies allow for superficial review of less interesting aspects of the subject matter, while allowing kids to explore particular areas they enjoy.  A unit study on oceans should probably include some geography, but could be expanded to include things like scuba diving and deep sea drilling too.  The flexibility appeals to moms and kids alike.

writing prompts

Besides online sources, there are books and teacher magazines galore with suggested writing prompts for kids, which are suggestions for what topic to write about.  Quite often these prompts will consist of a sentence or two and the child should complete the thought in a story.  For example, “If I had a million dollars, I would…..” or “As Sally got off the school bus this morning, a squirrel came by and grabbed her lunch bag.  Then he ran up a tree with her lunch and Sally…..”

Creative writing and storytelling are great ways to expands kids’ minds and sharpen their writing skills too.  Who ever said there was no room for imagination at school?

schoolwork while on a road trip

With our Thanksgiving trip to Grandma’s house this week, my family did some test-driving of the concept of roadschooling. What’s roadschooling? You know, homeschooling while on-the-go…In this case, we were just driving 8 hours to Grandma’s house, but lots of families employ this technique to their everyday lives. An image of RV’ers comes to mind, driving across the country in a motorhome and seeing the sights along the way. We stick to home base most of the time, but thank goodness for the internet, because we can do some schoolwork online while driving. My kids played online nature games and did some workbook pages about Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving hundreds of years ago. I brought the Schoolhouse Rock DVD for them to watch in the car, too. Every little bit counts, right?

What did the Pilgrims eat?

What better way to celebrate Thanksgiving on a nutrition blog than learn about what the Pilgrims ate!  I came across this book at the library while searching for Thanksgiving books for my own kids.  Wow – this is a great book!

Eating the Plates: A Pilgrim Book of Food and Manners
by Lucille Recht Penner

A lot of what the Pilgrims ate, they ate because they had to.  They didn’t want to starve.  Aboard the Mayflower, supplies were limited and were largely infested with bugs.  The book mentions that some Pilgrims preferred to eat at night so they couldn’t see what might be crawling on their food!  (This garnered a round of “EEEW” and “YUCK! from my kids!)  They couldn’t risk a stray spark from an open fire burning down their ship, so they mostly ate cold foods.  And while they kept a goat, chickens, and other animals on the ship, they weren’t used for food.  They were merely bringing the animals to the New World with the intent of starting a new herd or flock there.

teaching analogies

Worm is to apple as cow is to___________.

Does this sound familiar?  Teaching your 4th grader about analogies is a great strategy to improve their logic and reasoning skills.   In addition, it deepens their vocabulary and increases reading fluency.  It’s worth a few minutes each week of your time!    Try this one:
vitamin C : oranges
_______ :  milk

Oranges contain vitamin C.  What important nutrient is found in milk?  Calcium!

Yea!  You’re on a roll!  How about one more?
red, shiny : apple
yellow, curved : __________

Banana!  Analogies aren’t just for the SAT test anymore.  Kids can really enjoy analogies, and if you start when your kids are young, they’ll have lots of time to master them way before SAT-time.

handwriting skills

Some kids pick up the skill of handwriting more quickly than others.  Different school districts may advocate different writing styles, for many different reasons.  One of the perks of homeschooling is that you don’t have to go with what the public school wants, but you can determine what works best for your individual child.  Two of the major handwriting styles are Zaner-Bloser, which is a traditional block printing style, and D‘Nealian, which is a more recently developed curvy style of writing meant to make the transition to learning cursive a bit easier.

By fourth grade, most children have mastered basic handwriting.  But remember, practice makes perfect!  If your child is struggling, there are several handwriting programs designed to help.  A program called Handwriting Without Tears seems to be especially popular with public schools in this country, and it works very well to help kids learn proper letter formation.   There are other programs too, so be sure to research the subject if your child needs a little extra help that simple repetition isn’t providing.

tutoring

Even in the world of homeschooling, there are some constants and there are some things that are constantly changing.  One option currently popular with parents is to hire a tutor for subjects in which parents may not be proficient.  This isn’t a completely new idea, of course, especially as kids get into the high school years and need help with their calculus homework!  My own daughter takes Spanish lessons from a tutor, since I don’t speak Spanish myself.   Tutoring is a great option to consider in trying to round-out your child’s homeschooling curriculum.  You can really round-out some of the areas you might be weak in as an instructor, and keep those weak areas from developing in your child’s knowledge base too.

My child hates creative writing!

I know it’s something I need to push, but on the other hand, it’s probably pretty normal to dislike creative writing.  Did you ever have to do that writing experiment in elementary school where the teacher makes you close your eyes for a minute and try to clear your mind?  Then you open your eyes and write down whatever pops into your head.  Most kids hate this kind of thing because the lack of direction makes them a bit uncomfortable.  It’s one thing to have a writing assignment, and quite another to be left floundering, trying to figure out what you’re “supposed” to write!

But this sort of experience is a type of creative writing, and sometimes it’s actually quite a good idea to write in a more unstructured and free-flowing way.   In second grade, many kids enjoy telling stories, so you can ask your second grader to write a story, either anything they want, or within certain parameters, and this is a painless and fun introduction to creative writing.