Last week when I shared my review of the Oak Meadow Third Grade program, I promised you a more in-depth look at how the program actually looks in use. I love reviews and all the details they provide, but with a complete program like this, you really need to use it for a while to understand the big picture of how it’s going to work.
Every family is going to do things just a little bit differently, and I will be the first to admit that I am a notorious “tweaker” when it comes to curriculum. For example, our “week” is actually only 4 days instead of 5, because I reserve Fridays for gallivanting around Europe. For the most part, this week I stayed right with Oak Meadow’s recommendations- but I will let you know where and how I strayed from the course.
Each week, the Oak Meadow Third Grade Syllabus gives you a “Lesson” to complete. This one lesson contains the full week’s worth of materials. They don’t tell you what to do and when, but instead you have the flexibility to complete what you want, when you want to. They do recommend following a routine and giving your family a daily rhythm, to include chore time, reading time, school time and play time, as well as a recommended pace for the lesson.
Our weeks vary slightly because of the nature of the open ended lesson schedule. On average to complete a week’s lesson we would do Math 4 days a week, some form of Language Arts with writing 4 days a week, with History and Science each twice a week. Health is once a week, and Art and Music (recorder) are done 1-3 times a week depending on what it is and how much Bug begs to bring out the supplies! Before the week starts, I sit down with my planner, read the lesson and roughly schedule it out around our other activities and appointments for the week.
Lessons are done in the Main Lesson Book, which is a blank, large pad of white paper. Oak Meadow’s recommends you have one for Math, one for Science and History and one for Language Arts. Personally, I am terrible at keeping track of too many different elements. So, we put all of our work in one book and simply use the next page instead of separating by subject. The only exception is math, which we do on loose leaf paper. These books are heavily illustrated (Bug is drawing pictures for almost every lesson) and are meant to be beautiful keepsakes and reference books when you are finished with them. If you live in a state where you are required to keep a portfolio, this program would be great because the Lesson Book is a perfect ready-made portfolio for your records.
Without further adieu-
A Week in our Life with Oak Meadow’s Third Grade Program:
(We were on Lesson 4, which also happens to be the Sample Lesson included on Oak Meadow- check it out to see how the Lesson translated to our experience)
After breakfast is cleared off the table and everyone is dressed and ready to go, we all gather around the table for Circle Time. Oak Meadow’s syllabus outlines how to do this- they recommend an opening verse, a poem, an active song, finger play or game, and a closing verse. Circle Time is something we have been doing as a family for a long time in one form or another, so our routine is a little different. We do an opening verse and light a circle time candle. We go over the calendar, date and weather, and then We do the active song/finger play/game first with the little kids. Bug and I choral read a poem together (another tip I picked up from The Heart of Learning) and we practice our memorization (the little’s stay at the table and listen in while they play with play dough). We review things we have learned previously, say a closing verse, and get started.
The syllabus includes all the poems, verses, games and ideas for you, so it’s pretty open and go even if you aren’t a “circle time” kind of person. I love that the little verses have different themes for the different seasons, and active games are included to get our blood pumping to start the day. I really like this part of our morning because it signals to all of us that the day has begun and it’s time to focus. I like that the little’s are included and get to feel special, and are learning a little bit too just by hanging out with us.
On Monday, we focused on Math, Language Arts and Science. We read a story from the Oak Meadow’s Folktales book, and Bug summarized it verbally, then wrote his summary of the story in his Main Lesson Book. He did some form drawing practice as a border on the page, and we talked more about using proper punctuation in his writing.
After that, we moved on to math. We reviewed skip counting by 3’s, and he did some problems on a separate sheet of paper.
Monday is science day, so for this lesson, we learned about Gravity. We talked some about what gravity is, and then gathered up balls to test out gravity in action. Each ball was a different weight, so I had Bug estimate which ball would hit the floor first. He had a blast standing on the table (Don’t worry, I was close by and supervising the entire time!) and testing his theories. I used the “photo-finish” setting on my camera so we could both sit down and see which balls were landing first, and how close their timing was.
We continued practicing with cursive this week, so Bug tried to use cursive when doing his Main Lesson Book entries. Because today’s science lesson included a creative writing assignment, we did not read and summarize one of the folk tales.
For this, Bug first verbally told me a story titled “A Day without Gravity” and then once he got his thoughts together, he added the story to his Main Lesson Book. Also in Language Arts this week, he finished reading “Winnie the Pooh” and started in on Pippi Longstocking. He enjoys reading, so instead of reading these classics together, he’d rather read them independently. I ask that he reads at least one chapter a day in them, although a lot of the time, he reads more than that. I require that one chapter from the classic “school book” before he can read his other books.
After Language Arts and Math, I told him the story of Elyssa and the founding of Carthage. He summarized the story and wrote one sentence in his Main Lesson book before illustrating it. We have been learning about Phoenician Cultures, so we made some flat bread, a traditional Phoenician staple.
On Wednesday, we did another Folk Tale summary for language arts, and learned a little bit about the Phoenician alphabet. Bug wrote some of the Phonecian alphabet in his Main Lesson Book and we talked a little bit about gender roles back in ancient times.
For Math, we explored more skip counting patterns, and practiced 4’s and 6’s. Bug was amazed that they made the same pattern when he drew them on the skip counting circle. After practicing the 4’s and 6’s, he spent a while drawing stars now that he knows how to make them!
I think the bottom picture of him is so cute, when he realized it was the same pattern
Again, we did another Folk Tale Summary, and more math problems, and then jumped right into our history lesson for the day. I really enjoyed the story about Elyssa buying Carthage with an Ox Hide, but I wanted to drive home how she did this. So, I took the kids down to the playground and brought with me one piece of printer paper, and some scissors. I told the boys that they could play on the playground, but only what they could buy with their “Ox Hide” (my paper).
First, Bug stood on the paper and realized what little ground it covered- but then we took the scissors and cut very narrow strips to make one long string of paper. (to do this at home, cut along the edge of the paper in a spiral pattern to the center). He then wrapped the string around the playground, and happily “bought it.”
Speaking of strings, this week Bug also worked on a finger knitting craft I read about in the Home Teacher’s Process Manual. I bought him this fantastic string made of fabric strips, and he is knitting it so he can make a rag rug out of it. I was surprised at how much he enjoys it, and how quickly he learned. It’s great for his finger strength too, so I am thrilled we tried this project!
It started small, but he now has about 15 feet done!
Friday is Field Trip Day, so since we finished all our work for the week, we headed off to the local zoo! Germans do things a little different in the states, and we really got to be hands on with the animals. We bought carrots and fed everything from goats to monkeys and elephants, and the kids were able to ride a camel. It was AWESOME.
That’s it! Looks fun, right?
And now, to answer some of your questions:
On it Being “Involved” and “In Depth”
This program does cover a lot of ground, but it does not take a lot of time. I really like that Oak Meadow is flexible enough to allow me to only have a 4 day school week, but we are still covering ground in an efficient and gentle way. I like knowing that this program meets all the standards and expectations I have set for my child for the third grade, without needing to do anything else. At the same time, I am an eclectic Homeschooler. I like unit studies and to chase rabbit trails. With this program, I am finding that we can do everything “assigned” in just a couple hours a day, which leaves me time to continue to do extra “optional” things, like Latin, experimental learning and unit studies.
Part of my goal in trying this program was that I had wanted more time to do those “fun” things, and I wanted to take back some of our time to Homeschool in a more purposeful, deliberate way. This program simplified what we needed to get done so I am not taking all day to teach it. It’s efficient, yet fun, and allows us time for all our interests.
On Teaching Multiple Children
I love that this Oak Meadow works with a family rhythm instead of against it. Each day, we do chores together, and I have been deliberate about modeling the skills I want the kids to learn. Together each morning, we clean the table and sweep the floor. Bug has learned to cook a few simple dishes for his siblings, and is now in charge of feeding them lunch most days. Because Bug is being so responsible and helpful, Mr. Man also has wanted to get in on the fun, and is now learning to serve breakfast for himself and his siblings.
I have found that this program is easy to use with multiple children. Little Miss is too young for formal learning, but I gave her her own Main Lesson Book and she has been coloring along with Bug as he does his lessons. During reading time, Bug reads to Mr. Man from his classics. Mr. Man has joined us for history and science lessons. I have found that it is easy to include him on those lessons, which leaves me only needing to work on Math and Phonics with him on his own.
The Third Grade level is taking me about 2 hours to teach the formal portion of the lesson, with extra time being used for independent reading or additional math practice. I can’t promise you what other levels will take, but I think I could easily teach more than one early grade level with multiple children. If you have many kids and want to try Oak Meadow, I would encourage you to call them and see what they have to say about combining ages and grade placement and making this program work for you. In the older grades, you can purchase subjects individually and mix and match to create a better fit for schooling multiple children.