With only about 20 days left in our 4th grade year, I’m ready to share with you my thoughts about the resources we used. These are my very honest thoughts, and you’ll see that in some instances we tried a curriculum and abandoned it when it wasn’t a good fit for us.
All About Reading – A
Both of my dyslexic kids are going to reach the end of this program by the end of the school year, and I’m so grateful for the relative affordability of this Orton-Gillingham program. I do use the program a little differently than it is laid out by the creator, but the explicit, incremental instruction and decodable readers were exactly what my kids needed.
Explode the Code Workbooks – A
When my kids needed a little more practice with a phonogram than All About Reading provided, Explode the Code workbooks were the perfect supplement. While the books don’t exactly align with All About Reading, a quick search through the workbooks’ Table of Contents made it easy to locate the phonogram I was looking for.
Book Club – A
This year I started a book club for homeschool kids in my area so that my kids could enjoy the fulfilling experience of sharing a reading experience with friends. It wasn’t a ton of work for me, and the positive experience was absolutely worth the time and effort invested.
Bravewriter The Arrow – A-
I purchased an Arrow guide largely out of curiosity, and I can say that if you share my philosophy about language arts education, you’ll probably be a fan of The Arrow. I don’t plan to purchase any more Arrow guides, but that’s only because the copywork, discussion, and reflection activities included are more or less what I do on my own. If you want to outsource some of that preparation and thought to Julie Bogart, though, The Arrow is helpful. My biggest complaint with Bravewriter is that all of the resources are only available in digital format, and for the price, I think it’s just a little too much to have to also pay printing costs for those of us who prefer a hard copy.
All About Spelling – A
All About Spelling is relatively painless and takes no more than 10 minutes or so per kid. Its explicit, systematic Orton-Gillingham approach is appropriate for my dyslexic learners, but it’s a good choice for all kinds of learners, too.
Writeshop Junior, Level D – B
I think Writeshop does a good job of teaching the writing process and breaking projects into very manageable chunks. I think, though, that I needed to take a step back from it because my kids weren’t developmentally there. With a little more groundwork in grammar under their belts, I think they would have gotten more out of Writeshop. The other minor issue I had with Writeshop is that a couple of the practice assignments struck my kids as hokey. The program states that you can change things around to accommodate the child, but then the neat formatted sheet that came with the project doesn’t work. Again, a very minor complaint, and I wouldn’t let that dissuade you from it if it otherwise seems like a good fit.
Bravewriter’s Partnership Writing – B
We worked through a few of the projects in the Partnership Writing project, and, for the most part, my kids enjoyed them, or at least didn’t complain about them. I do wish that Bravewriter provided some sort of mentor text(s) for the projects that could help both kids and parent-teachers envision how the project could be formatted or what an excellent finished product might look like. And, again, I’m not a fan of Bravewriter’s offering of exclusively digital products. I definitely prefer a hard copy, and for the price of the product, I shouldn’t also have to incur printing costs myself.
Envision Math for Homeschoolers – F-
We started the year out with the homeschool bundle of Envision Math. It was terrible. Every day the instructional and workshop parts of the lesson went well, and then when the time came to do work in the book, the problems suddenly increased radically in difficulty and demanded a level of inference that just isn’t realistic for kids this age. I wrestled with it for about two (terrible) weeks and gave up on it.
JUMP Math – A-
This is, I think, the fifth math program we’ve used since kindergarten, so when I say that I landed on the math program that’s *just right* for us, that’s no small thing. First of all, JUMP Math is a blessedly inexpensive program to use. I already had a collection of manipulatives, so the only costs I had were the costs of two workbooks for the year (about $15 each) and the printing costs of whatever I chose to print from the teacher’s guide, blackline masters, and tests and quizzes located online for FREE. I love that this program walks students through math processes in a very incremental way, building from the very basic, first steps and concepts, and slowly building to some pretty complex stuff in a gentle, gradual way. I will say that when we got to some tricky skills, like long division, I did need to seek out additional practice, and I also supplement our math learning with fact fluency work and the Usborne Math Puzzle Pad in our morning time.
REAL Science Odyssey Chemistry Level 1 – A
High school Chemistry was not a good experience for me. I had no idea what was going on, and it always felt like I was on the verge of drowning. REAL Science Odyssey’s approach to Chemistry just makes so much sense, and I’ve been happily learning the basics along with my kids through the curriculum’s brief readings, labs, and projects. Since we do history and science on a block schedule (science in the fall, history in the spring), we only completed the first half of the book, so we’ll be completing this curriculum in the fall of 5th grade.
Field Trips, Library Books, Book Club Historical Fiction, Movies, Documentaries, and Home Library Collection
I’ve been making it up as I go with history with help from the library for a while now, and I love the price tag that comes along with this lack of curriculum, haha.
Here’s my curriculum report card for 2nd grade.
And read about our 3rd grade resources here.