apple theme unit

Elementary school is the ideal age to learn about nature, when students have minds open to the beauty and wonder they encounter.  In the fall, an apple them unit works especially well.  You could learn about the many different types of apples, for starters.  I take my kids on a field trip each fall to a pick your own apple orchard.  They love it, no matter how many times we’ve already been.  Getting out in the cool, crisp fall air to pick apples is the highlight of the season!  There are numerous recipes out there for apples too, so it’s a great way to get the kids involved in the kitchen.  There’s plenty of science that can be incorporated into an apple unit study, and of course plenty of nutrition to learn too!  There are many free printables online, and library books galore about apples and fall.  Johnny Appleseed is often celebrated in the fall, and there are biographies of his life written for even a third-grade reading level.  There are so many apple-related resources and activities that you may have trouble narrowing down your choices!

Field trips!

What third-grade school year would be complete without a few field trips?  It’s no different for homeschoolers, except maybe that we have the advantage of more free time or easier scheduling than our public school counterparts.  In essence, homeschoolers can do even more field trips than public schoolers, so make them count!  Research is key.  Spend some time researching the opportunities in your area.  Sometimes local museums or the parks & rec departments will offer programs for homeschoolers, but there are also things like factory tours and nature hikes too.  And don’t overlook the possibility of play dates at area parks too.  When the weather is beautiful, get the kids outside to play with other homeschoolers.  Most cities have homeschool support groups who get together for park days and for field trips too.  Take advantage of these socializing opportunities and you could make some friends too, not just your kids!

back to school shopping

How can summer be ending already?  For those homeschoolers that took the summer off, the end of August is bittersweet.  Back to school is upon us.  Luckily for homeschoolers, a brand-new wardrobe and fancy new lunchbox isn’t necessary, but it may be a good idea to take advantage of some sales on school supplies.  This is really the only time of year such things go on sale, so shop around, and stock up!

Pencils, paper, markers, crayons, glue…it depends on the ages of your kids, but third-graders could easily use all of these items.  And I haven’t even mentioned paper yet!  You can never have enough paper!  As you’re deciding on your curriculum choices for the coming school year be sure to keep supplies in mind, because August is definitely the best time for homeschoolers to buy their supplies for the upcoming year.

unit studies

Sure, unit studies sound kind of strange at first, but stop and think about it and you may realize there’s nothing to it.  Third grade is a great age for doing unit studies in your homeschool because kids at this age are curious and full of questions, and they’re usually quite receptive this method of learning.  As an example, a unit study about the ocean may cover some basic geography, learning the locations and names of the oceans.  It could also include some science, as you learn about ocean currents and how they affect weather.  Some information about the life forms that live in the sea would also be appropriate, and this could be expanded to learn more about sharks, jellyfish, deep ocean exploration, how waves are created, and even tsunamis.  All of these things relate to the topic of oceans, but each is also a subtopic in its own right.  And that’s just one example.  What subjects can you turn into a unit study for your kids?

teaching kids about money

Money is one of those topics that kids need to learn about but there really isn’t a formal curriculum for it.  A child’s awareness of money begins when they’re quite young and they see their parents spending money.  These days, kids learn there’s more to money than cash in your wallet.  There’s credit and debit cards to think about too!  Kids learn to count money beginning in kindergarten or first grade, but the concept often isn’t truly mastered until second or third grade when they learn to add, subtract, multiply, and divide money too.

Real life applications are always helpful in driving the point home.  So besides seeing mom spending money on groceries, you could teach you child how the credit and debit cards work, and show them how to balance a checkbook.  If you give them an allowance, this is a great opportunity to introduce the idea of a budget, an important skill many adults still haven’t mastered!  The more your children can learn by example, the better they’ll be as adults with managing their own money.

Independence Day

So many kids these days know this holiday as simply, the “Fourth of July”.  Too many of us forget the more proper term, “Independence Day” and what it means.  Despite that it may seem so, Independence Day is not just about hamburgers and watermelon, and a trip to the beach or pool.  Teach your homeschoolers what it really means, and they’ll learn a bit of school-work even in the summer.

Talking about the symbolism of fireworks is a great place to start.  Remember the line in “The Star Spangled Banner” that has to do with bombs bursting in air?  You can talk about the different regions and capitals in our country as part of the holiday.  Kids love to make their own flags, too, especially if your holiday plans include attending a parade!

extracurricular activities for homeschoolers

There are so many ways for homeschoolers to get out and have fun, learn a skill, make friends, play sports, and many other extracurricular activities, that it’s sometimes difficult to choose!   Homeschoolers have an advantage over kids who attend school, because their schedules often allow much greater flexibility.  So by all means, take advantage of what’s out there and have some fun!

Many community centers, parks and recreation departments, and the YMCA all offer enrichment activities for homeschoolers.  Swimming or tennis lessons, chess club, Spanish classes, and sports teams are some of the common options.   Museums in your area may offer music, theater, or art classes for homeschoolers as well.  Once you start looking, the opportunities are everywhere.

homeschooling over the summer?

This is an age-old dilemma of homeschooling parents everywhere.  Should you take the summer off, like the public schools do, or continue your studies through the summer months?  Of course, this doesn’t have to be a black and white answer.  There are varying degrees of summertime homeschooling to consider.  Maybe just do math and language arts over the summer, and save social studies and science for the regular school year.  Or you could focus only on whatever area your child may be having trouble in, to give them some extra time to learn the material in the summer.  Instead of catching up, you could use the summer months to get ahead too.  And if you’re planning a vacation, why not look for educational opportunities along the way?  Your route may take you by some wonderful sights that are worthwhile enough to do a little reading about, and of course a little learning for the kids.  Summer doesn’t have to be spent at the pool or beach, to the exclusion of everything else.  Maybe you can find a way to work in a little education in the summer too!

Art lessons for third graders

Not many homeschooling parents are lucky enough to know an artist, or to have studied art much themselves, so how do you teach your children art lessons?  There are countless art books on the market, many of them aimed at homeschooling families in this very situation.  Many of them cover art history, learning about famous artists and their works, as well as directions and guidance for creating your own works of art using the same styles and techniques as the masters.   Sometimes local art museums will have classes for homeschoolers too.  Although these often are not free, many parents are willing to pay for a professional to teach art to their homeschooled kids.   Larger communities may have art schools or professional artists who provide a similar service.  Some community centers and YMCA branches offer art classes for homeschoolers, so it pays to ask around.  And finally, homeschool co-op arrangements are an excellent place to look for art classes and resources for learning art.

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo in your homeschool!

Cinco de  Mayo is the fifth of May each year.  The holiday commemorates the victory of Mexican troops over the French in the Battle of Puebla, and it is a national holiday in Mexico.  Unless you are of Mexican ancestry, it may not seem like something worth celebrating with your kids, but think of it as a way to learn about Mexican history and culture.  A one-day unit study about Mexico is perfect!  You can teach the kids some Spanish words, learn about the Mexican flag, and how the Mexicans celebrate the holiday.  Big parties, parades, and plenty of festivities are common.  Play some festive Mexican music, check out some library books about Mexico, and Cinco de Mayo in particular, and find a fun craft project your third-grader would enjoy.  It doesn’t have to be anything complex, but a simple celebration for the purpose of learning can be a lot of fun.  And there’s always Mexican food for dinner!