ART: More “Child Sized Masterpieces” this year. You do a lot of artists and famous art. Just remember that the point is for the child to really concentrate on the pictures and examine them at length. Our curriculum calls it “close observation.” Charlotte Mason calls it “really looking.” Whatever you call it, the names of the artists are much less important than the ability and facility with close observation. And we want beauty to “do its work” on the child’s heart.
“We cannot measure the influence that one or another artist has upon the child’s sense of beauty, upon his power of seeing, as in a picture, the common sights of life; he is enriched more than we know in having really looked at even a single picture” (Mason, Vol. 1, p. 309).
GEOGRAPHY: This year he does a map workbook. You also do the states and capitals again (and every year through at least 5GRD). There are mountain heights and river lengths. The ability to attend to an retain auditory numerical information is a skill that takes time and effort. These will come up over and over in the next three years. In 4GRD, you will put the ranges and peaks on the map.
HISTORY: Big sweep of USA history this year. You go from Leif to Lincoln, depending on which spine book you use. Some of the books are repeats from last year or will come again next year. The important thing is not the content as much as internalizing the stories of bravery and persistence and other virtue. The more you point that out in the stories, the more the kids enjoy them. My older kids love them still. They never “get it all” and enjoy each round as they get older. My 6GRD kids still sit in on some of these books. Also, you do dates. If you used these as reference pegs in conversation, they take on more use as the child ages. “This church was built in 1889. That’s 40 years after the Gold Rush started.” These dates aren’t repeated in later years, but I wish they were.
LANGUAGE ARTS: Primary Language Lessons is this year. We do Intermediate Language Lessons for the following two years. It’s a lot of writing. Then we really hit the grammar hard in 6GRD. I highly recommend the Writing Manual and Language Arts Overview. It tells helps you give more instruction on composition and shows you where all of the writing skills fall in the K-12 curriculum. It also makes a good argument for not fussing with grammar to much outside of Latin class before 6GRD. There is no penmanship curriculum this year. It is assumed that you will select periodic assignments during the year to “use their best writing” to keep up cursive skills.
LATIN: English from the Roots Up is this year. Teaching Tips, recommends that you don’t drill the derivatives on the back as much as demonstrate that the roots are found in words in the child’s environment. BIOLOGY. You know bios and logos. They’re Greek. What do you think that means when you stick them together? We even make up weirdo words. What would “phobo-philia” mean? Many of the Latin roots don’t come back around until 5-6GRD Latin class, unless you use the Hayden series from the school. Then the work this year is immediately useful.
MATH: Abeka 3. This is the year of the math facts! If you can get the multiplication/division under control now, you will be so glad. If you can’t, this year is going to be TOUGH. This book is very advanced. We sometimes take it half-pace after a certain point. The good thing about it being difficult is that next year, when the worksheets are gone and he has to write on his own paper, the “math” part of that won’t be difficult in the beginning.
MUSIC: More Hayes worksheets. More Music Masters. Tchaikovsky, Verdi, Strauss, Foster and Sousa, Berlioz. This year, “closely attending” to beautiful music is extended with guessing games. Instead of attending to a single piece of music, the child is encouraged to listen to similarities across the composer’s work. FYI, some of the composer’s lives (Tchaikovsky, for one) are NOT child friendly from other sources.
POETRY: Poetry this year is longer and more involved. It’s still enjoyable, though. All of these poems are reviewed in future years. My ex-navy FIL very much enjoys hearing the kids do this year’s patriotic poems. And when my parents cruise the Rhine, the kids were very excited that they saw the actual “Mouse Tower” from The Children’s Hour. If you have a morbid sense of humor and joke about your own kids being varmits, that poem and accompanying story are super-fun. Much of the poetry from here on out is very boy-friendly. Doom, war, bravery, and some parental love expressed as storming turrets and sticking people in dungeons. Fun!
READING: Assuming your child isn’t struggling with reading, the history selections are separate from this. (My kids can never read the history alone until over halfway through the year. The second half is way easier than the first.) It is recommended that you use the 1GRD read aloud list for read-alone this year. Again, let me recommend either Teaching Tips or the Writing Manual. They have identical long articles about Language Arts, read alone, read aloud, and how to slowly build reading stamina.
RELIGION: This is Part II:Commandments of the No. 1 catechism. These questions all come back next year. See this post for the overview. Also, we restart the Old Testament. Knecht vocabulary is not easy, but it’s kind of fun. We read it aloud as a family and laugh. It is intentional that the language patterns are old-timey and hard. Getting the ear tuned in on that stuff opens up a world of great literature later.
SCIENCE: This year is an Abeka year. All of my kids like these books, though at this point, they are still “team reading” books for my kids. The comprehension level is rarely high enough to do it alone and answer ANY comprehension questions.
SPELLING: Writing Road to Reading. WRTR teaches spelling by applying rules. The genius of Spalding is that she invented a marking system so that you can “catalog” the rules that apply to each word. After you teach the initial rules and phonograms, you will practice identifying and marking a mixed bag of words weekly, increasing in difficulty (adding new rules) every hundred words or so. You will be doing it for four years. That vast majority of the English language DOES follow rules. Most people just don’t know them!