Welcome! If you’re new to This Little Home of Mine, I’m Elizabeth. I am a former elementary school teacher who is now homeschooling my kids. In this post, I’m sharing all about homeschooling third-grade!
Around here, we embrace a year-round family-style approach to homeschooling – a 365-day-a-year round-the-clock approach to living and learning together. I love how educational opportunities can so naturally be woven into our day-to-day life, and I’m excited to give you a glimpse into what that looks like in our house during the third-grade year.
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If you’ve visited me in this space before, you may have seen me share about homeschooling for preschool and elementary, too! I have put together age-specific posts to assist homeschooling families in their journey, and my hope is that as I share what is working well for us that you will be inspired to find what works best for your family.
- Two-Year Old Homeschool Preschool
- Three-Year Old Homeschool Preschool
- Four-Year Old Homeschool Preschool
- Homeschooling Kindergarten
- Homeschooling First-Grade
- Homeschooling Second-Grade
- Homeschooling Third-Grade
- Homeschooling Fourth-Grade
In this post, I am sharing all about Homeschooling Third-Grade! If you are considering homeschooling your third-grader, I’m so glad you’re here. I’m going to share my favorite resources, teaching strategies, and planning tips – things that have worked well in our learning environment – let’s get started!
My goal for this post is to keep things as simple as possible – providing you with a glimpse into what we’re doing, hoping you will feel inspired in our own way.
Bible – When my boys were younger, we used resources like The Jesus Storybook Bible for our Bible time. I know we will continue to enjoy that book as a family (It is truly beautiful!), but as the boys have gotten older, we have started reading the actual Bible out loud together as well as exploring other read-alouds, and I have shared several of our top picks here.
One of our favorites times to read together is while we’re eating breakfast – during what we call Morning Time. The kids start eating, and I start reading. We’re all around the table – the whole crew, and it is truly one of the highlights of my days with my kids!
Another time we enjoy reading through Bible resources together is before bed each night. These Bible-centered science resources have been so fun to read together during family devotions before we turn out the lights.
As far as Scripture memory goes, we are part of a local AWANA program! Throughout the school year, our memory work comes directly from our handbooks. If you have an AWANA program near you, I would highly recommend it. It is a fantastic way to encourage your children to learn Scripture. My kids are wild about it!
Free Mail-In Bible Lessons We’ve Used As Well
Language Arts – My kiddos are second generation Abeka students. Abeka’s phonics program was used to teach me to read, and as a classroom teacher, this was hands-down my favorite phonics/reading program to use with students.
Throughout the third-grade year of Abeka’s Language Arts program, we move beyond the basics of phonics and focus more on application: using the special sounds we know to spell more challenging words and using our fluent reading skills to understand and apply text.
You can find one of our favorite spelling practice activities here.
Heads up: My ideas are usually a little bit outside of the box.
Handwriting – In the early years, we begin with Abeka’s manuscript option for handwriting. In the second-grade year, we begin learning cursive using Abeka’s cursive option and throughout the third-grade year, we continue along with a focus on neatness in our form as well as exploring practical opportunities for using cursive writing in everyday life.
In addition to Abeka’s daily workbook practice, I like to find creative ways to encourage handwriting practice – activities that don’t include pencil and paper. Many of these five-senses-friendly ideas can be used to practice manuscript or cursive letters.
Creative Writing – This is an area where I like to add in some additional activities – fun writing prompts, out-loud storytelling games, various holiday activities, etc. These storytelling cards and this Storytelling Game have been fun to include in our Bedtime Basket and enjoy together as a family in the evenings.
Building Writers is another fantastic option we have used – mostly during the summer months – to provide additional opportunities to write creatively. The sky is the limit for how families can incorporate these writing books into their learning lifestyle.
We have also enjoyed several of the Creative Writing books from Usborne:
- The Usborne Writing Box
- Write and Draw Your Own Comics
- Write and Design Your Own Magazines
- Write Your Own Poems
- Write Your Own Scripts
- A Year in My Life
All perfect for older elementary students!
Math – In the summer months, Kumon books as well as Usborne Activity Books have been great for extra reinforcement – with Abeka’s math curriculum being our go-to throughout the year. For the third-grade year, their colorful Teaching Charts do a fantastic job of explaining concepts in creative way:
and the Rapid Calculation Practice activities have been a favorite – Daily challenges that give your child the chance to show off all of the math facts they know!
I like to bring to life whatever is on the page – using as many hands-on manipulatives and activities as possible. Does this mean veering from the lesson plans a bit? Sometimes – and that’s okay! Abeka’s program makes it easy for me to teach concepts in ways that work best for my kids.
I am always on the lookout for items I can use in our homeschooling: yard sales being my favorite way to shop for fun manipulatives and Usborne books being my top-pick for supplemental books! Then, of course, yes, there’s always Amazon.
History/Science/Health – As my oldest walked through the kindergarten through second-grade years, I used Abeka’s history, science, and health readers as guides for various topics I wanted to cover with him and his younger brother – using each chapter as our guide, but finding my own ways to bring the material to life: read-alouds, field trips, hands-on experiences, experiments, art activities, etc.
This continues to be a great approach for us when it comes to the Science and Health Units, but for third-grade history, Abeka offers students the opportunity to walk through U.S. History following a timeline – learning about great Americans along the way.
The summer months gift us with additional time to focus more heavily on these kinds of things. So that’s when we get started on our history and science lessons – reading in our textbooks as well as interacting with other resources I like to use to bring to life the chapters in our curriculum.
We do this whole thing family-style…even though Abeka isn’t necessarily set up that way, it has worked well for us to all read and learn together with the oldest’s textbooks being our content guides in these subject areas.
We also continue with our Continent Boxes – which pair perfectly with the Geography/Map Skills piece of the third-grade history curriculum.
Art – Around here, we don’t really do a lot of crafts (I’m specifically scared of glitter! ha!), but we do appreciate any chance to be creative.
My kids are specifically wild about all things drawing and painting! They love grabbing their sketch books (simple Melissa & Doug art pads I found online) and drawing along with Art for Kids Hub. If we’ve been reading about a specific plant or animal, historical figure or landmark, etc. we look to see if he has a video where we can draw that exact person, place, or thing along with him, and he usually does! Usborne’s Step-by-Step Drawing books are another favorite around here!
Music – When my oldest started kindergarten, we kicked things off with piano lessons at a local studio where he worked along in the “Teaching Little Fingers to Play” book. Though all was going well there, I decided to make the switch to an area group whose teachers COME TO THE HOUSE. Yes! For our current season of life, this has been amazing! The teacher comes weekly and now actually works one-on-one with my three oldest kiddos. While the teacher rotates through lessons with each child (using hands-on activities as well as the flashcards and Piano Adventures series you see here), this gives me time to work more closely with my other kiddos. This setup has been perfect for many reasons!
In this house, music is constantly in the air – while we play, while we learn, while we eat, while we rest, while we ride along in the car (Thank you, Pandora! ha!), and though I am excited about having my kiddos spend time with a trained teacher, I also love finding ways to enjoy music with them myself.
I have received a lot of questions about when might be best to start lessons, what resources to use, etc. but like with so many things, I think it depends on each child – always taking in to account their development as well as their interests and enthusiasm for different things. My advice: Consider your own kiddo – just them, no one else’s – and let that guide your decisions. In most situations, that alone will give you the answers you need!
P.E. – Throughout different seasons, our kids have participated in low-key sports programs. Emphasis on low-key! The intensity level from the coaches (and fellow parents!) is chill with the focus being on learning basic skills and having fun!
The best thing kids can do for physical activity? Play outside! Take walks, ride bikes, run in the yard! While my kids enjoy going to swimming and soccer and basketball, they love the freedom that comes with simply playing outside together.
GAME NIGHT – Around here, Thursday night is Family Game Night! Sure, we play classic just-for-fun games that families have enjoyed for years, but this has also been a great opportunity to connect over games like Zingo®, Math War, Money Bingo, Sequence® States & Capitals, and more.
It’s evening…we’ve just finished dinner…Daddy is home…and we’re learning together. Not only are we practicing how to take turns and how to win and lose graciously, but we’re also reinforcing many of the things we’re learning in school.
STEAM – At least once a week, I like to have some kind of SIMPLE science experiment for us to do together as a family. This usually happens in the evenings or on the weekends – when Daddy is home. This is one of the ways he is able to participate in our homeschooling activities, and the boys go wild when it’s time to do an activity with their dad.
The ideas I use are usually something I have spotted on an Instagram account I follow or from this book: Science Experiments for Young Learners: K-2 – I realize the cover might seem a little out-dated (I’ve had this book for years!), but the experiments included are easy, peasy ideas that you can do with objects you already own – very little (if any) prep required for most of them!
Another thing they love to do with daddy is build! Their playroom has been turned into a place where they can build and build and build some more – Legos, Magformers, K’nex, Erector Sets – you get the idea! We call this space their Tinker Lab, and it’s their favorite place to be!
As the boys have gotten older, another activity they love to do with their dad is what we like to call Coding Academy. At the time this post is being written, Coding Academy happens every Monday night. What do they do together? They’re simply working their way through these books, and it might just be their favorite night of week.
- Coder Academy
- My First Computer Coding Book Using Scratch Jr.
- Coding Using Scratch
- Lift-the-Flap Computers and Coding
- 100 Things to Know about Numbers, Computer, and Coding
- Build Your Own Website for Beginners
- Coding for Beginner’s Using Python
As you can see, we take a little bit of the out-of-the-box approach to our schedule…our resources…the way we learn together as a family as much as possible, but embracing the freedom and flexibility to do this has made learning together so much fun for everyone.
A Couple of Things I Say Yes! To:
Local Activities: I am always on the lookout for local events/activities that would be a good fit for our family. I consistently watch what’s going on at our libraries, museums, parks, children’s theaters, farms/orchards, etc. and this has gifted us with so many great opportunities for learning – and another chance for daddy to be involved.
With a batch of little ones, it works best for us to do these things in the evenings or on the weekends. The extra set of hands is helpful for me, and we all love having David along for these experiences.
Summer Camps: In our area, we have a handful of different places that offer excellent summer camps for kids. I am looking for quality programs that TEACH, and I have loved seeing my boys enjoy a variety of different camps that encourage them in things that interest them. STEAM camps have been their favorite: especially the ones that involve Legos, and these kinds of opportunities have been an excellent addition to our homeschooling lifestyle.
Technology: While I realize too much screen-time can have a negative impact on kiddos, I’m definitely not one to say that it’s all bad. We include all kinds of technology in to our homeschooling routines: educational apps, on-line computer games, YouTube videos, and television shows (Yes, television shows!). Our current routine includes a daily Tech Time. This includes regular practice with Keyboarding without Tears as well as other favorites.
- Adventures in Odyssey
- Jonathan Park
- Patch the Pirate
- Geronimo Stilton
- Playaways from Our Local Library
- C.S. Lewis Chronicles of Narnia Radio Theater by Focus on the Family
A Few Things I Say No! To:
Crafts –While I realize Pinterest is full and overflowing with all kinds of cute craft ideas, we honestly don’t include many crafts in our homeschooling activities. Opportunities for art exploration? Sure, but not many crafts.
Supplemental Resources – When I hop on Instagram, I see all kinds of amazing printable resources – super cute goodies that are right there at my fingertips ready to be printed and used with my kids. However, I have to think carefully before I get too carried away with things like that.
- How well does it fit with what we’re learning?
- Is it just busy work or would it play an important role in their learning something new?
- How much time is it going to take to print and prep this printable or activity?
- Keeping our other work in mind, do I want to make time to complete this activity?
My answers to these questions determine whether or not I pin things to a board I set aside for activities I actually want to make happen with my kids. Needless to say, if something is just busy work…or if something is going to take more prep time than its worth, I usually skip it.
Play Dates – When my boys were younger, play dates were a regular part of our routine. In fact, most Fridays, you would find us at the park with other mommies/little kiddos. These days? Not so much. It’s not that we don’t ever have play dates anymore, but honestly, they are few and far between. We are currently in a different season of life that requires me to be more focused at home with my kids, and the truth is that all of those play dates in the first few years of motherhood were really more for me than my babies. ha!
Outside Commitments – My current season of life as a wife and mommy is a full-time ministry of giving and serving at home. There can oftentimes be a lot of pressure for at-home moms to commit themselves elsewhere. I’m not sure why others assume mamas have extra time on their hands, but if you allow them, they will quickly fill your schedule for you – over-committing you in ways that are not a good fit for your life with littles. This is an area where I have had to be careful to set boundaries. I want to say Yes! to everyone, but when I do that, I am forced to pull away from where I have been called to serve right now. This is an area where I am constantly having to keep myself in check. Anyone else struggle with this same thing? Maybe it’s just me! ha!
We also have a new Instagram account that is dedicated to all things homeschooling:
A Few Helpful Family Life Tips
In our routines, there are a few things we do that help all of this juggling run smoothly…well, on most days anyway. ha!
Reading Time: When my kiddos wake up (and before they go to bed), they have reading time. Thirty minutes or so for them to independently explore books. In the mornings, it sets the tone for a day of learning together, and in the evenings, it serves as the perfect way to wind down before sleep.
Rest Time: All of my kids have an afternoon rest time. The little ones sleep and my older ones use their time to complete independent work. They head to a quiet spot – but instead of sleeping, they finish their school work. Then they can choose which way they want to relax until the little ones wake up from their nap time. This gifts them with time to work and learn independently – something I want to encourage with each one of my kids.
Mommy’s Helper: Have you ever used a Mommy’s Helper? For us this describes a young babysitter who simply plays with my littles while I either tackle household chores or do school activities with my older kids. Throughout different seasons, this has been really helpful for us – especially at times when we were preparing to welcome a new addition to the family.
Flexibility: That has been the key word for me! Always being willing to adjust and find creative ways to make things work in my current season, and I hope you – as a homeschool mom (or future homeschool mom) feel that same freedom.
Want to read more about our family’s Lifestyle of Homeschooling? Our daily schedule? A look at our week? I would be honored to share with you how we have adopted a lifestyle of living and learning together and how you can do the same with your own family: