Friday, February 6, 2015

Writing/ Using Literature Based Writing Prompts

Are they right for you?
Time to change our writing curriculum. Even though I love Writing Curriculum: Grade 3 (Week-by-Week Lessons), it became apparent that the daily writing prompts and weekly lessons were not interesting Madeline any longer.

Fictional literature, on the other hand, interests her greatly. She possesses a voracious, insatiable appetite for literature! 

What to do with the rest of our curriculum's writing prompts? Scrap 'em. Instead, I'm creating prompts from her favorite books (see examples).

Keeping up with Madeline's reading is a huge challenge. She is a reading machine. Even though I'm nearly done with Seven Wonders: Lost in Babylon (book two), Madeline has already moved onto book three!

Literature based prompts have reinvigorated daily journal writing. The transformation from September to February is absolutely staggering. So much progress!

If you are looking for a way to make your daily journaling more enticing, try literature-based writing prompts. It has worked incredibly well for us.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Math Curriculum Grade 3/ Final Exam

Our worn Spectrum Math cover
One of the best parts of the Spectrum series is their tests - pretests, chapter tests, mid-term tests, and final tests. They definitely help give you an idea of your student's skill mastery.

This week, we are working through our final exam! Madeline should finish her final test by Friday. Monday, we'll start Spectrum Math Grade 4.

Because she always asks for MORE math work, we've been adding application practice from Third Grade Super Math Success. Rather than pages of equations, the book is full of fun puzzles, games, and activities to apply the common core concepts.

A few months back, Madeline tried a couple Khan Academy online lessons. Although the video instructions were wonderful, they disappear when the math equations/questions come up. Having to toggle back and forth from the explanation to the math problems frustrated her. Thinking about it now, why not just open them both in separate windows?

This week, she asked to retry the online lessons. Perhaps with her increased computer skills, she is more confident to give Khan Academy another try. I am curious to see how our experience goes the second time around...

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Book Review/ Seven Wonders: The Colossus Rises by Peter Lerangis {FREEBIE Activities & Mini-Unit Suggestions}

Seven Wonders: The Colossus Rises Book Review via
Incredible action and adventure! 

Each chapter of Seven Wonders: The Colossus Rises seems to end with drama, a secret revealed, or incredible events. It was a huge hit with our homeschool book club. Most kids could not put it down or stop talking about it!

My third grader LOVED this book. She finished in two days, refusing to part with it until she read it all. At the end of the first chapter, she asked if there was a sequel. And then begged for me to reserve it at our local library ;)

The ending was truly shocking. My daughter and our homeschool book club readers COULD NOT believe it!!!! Everyone is clamoring to get Book Two.

One of my favorite parts of this series is the mix of mythology, real history, and original fiction! There are so many jumping off points with this book...the historical seven ancient wonders of the world, the Colossus of Rhodes, Greek mythology, medical ethics, loyalty v. betrayal, honesty v. secrecy.

This is our first read from author Peter Lerangis. He has also authored a few of the 39 Clues books which appear quite popular.

Jack McKinley is not your typical thirteen year old. Jack is one of the Select, children destined to die if the powerful Loculi are not found and returned to Atlantis. The Loculi have been scattered among the seven ancient wonders of the world. If the Select fail, they will perish by age fourteen - and life on Earth will be changed forever.

FREEBIE WRITING PROMPTS (Download printer-friendly version)
SPOILER ALERT - These activities reveal important parts of the plot. Stop reading here if you want to read the book first!

#1/ Jack held onto his mother’s mirror because it had sentimental value (emotional significance). Describe an item that has sentimental value to you, but isn't worth a lot of money. What does it look like? Where do you keep it? Why do you love it so much?

#2/ What do you think of Barry Reese’s behavior? What did Barry do when Jack initially refused to let Barry copy his homework? If you had been Jack, would you have reacted differently or the same? What would you have done?

#3/ How does Jack learn of Aly, Marco, and Cass’s plan to escape? How do Aly’s computer skills help them slip out without being discovered? Does their escape go as planned? Why or why not?

#4/ When the Select find out they've been implanted with a locating device, how did they react? What did Jack think? Would you want to be implanted with a locating device? Why or why not?

#5/ How does Marco get separated from Jack, Aly, and Cass at the top of Mount Onyx? What happened to Marco and the vromaski? How did Jack, Aly, and Cass react? How would you react in their position?

#6/ In the Atlantean maze, why does Marco survive? What do Jack, Aly, and Cass do when they find him? How does his body regenerate?

#7/ Was it a good thing Aly called home? Why or why not? Would you have called home if you were in her situation?

#8/ What do Jack, Aly, and Marco find in the Massarene greenhouse? Describe what happens when Jack touches the flame.

#9/ Imagine you are the Colossus of Rhodes that just came to life. What do you see? How do you feel? What do you want to do?

#10/ What happened to the Loculus at the hotel? Do you agree with Jack’s idea that Marco took it home? Why or why not? What does Jack’s reaction reveal about how he feels about Marco?

Teacher's Guide via Harper Collins
Interactive Map of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
The Colossus of Rhodes Facts
The Story Behind the Statue

Create your own mini-unit with additional reading selections!

Atlantis - Additional reading for Seven Wonders: The Colossus Rises - via
Atlantis: The Legend of a Lost City by Christina Balit
A short, but interesting, mythology of Poseidon's creation and destruction of Atlantis. Based on Plato's writings, but easily read by children. Most picture books do not appeal to my third grader, but this book she reads again and again!

Atlantis: The Search For The Lost City by Mary-Jane Knight
Our favorite part of this book was the last two pages (p. 44-45) - a history of the explorers who have searched for Atlantis and where they believe the actual location to be. Our family (and the kids at book club) found this historical section way more interesting than the fictional story.

Seven Wonders of the Ancient World by Michael Woods and Mary B. Woods
Awesome, awesome, awesome!!!! A nonfiction account of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The students were absolutely floored that the Colossus of Rhodes was REAL. After discussing the Colossus's true history, we also read about the Hanging Gardens of Babylon - the setting for Book 2. A perfect companion to those who love the Seven Wonders series!!!!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Tip/ Making Cursive Practice Fun

One glance at these, and my homechooler started BEGGING to practice her daily cursive handwriting.

Gel pens make cursive handwriting fun - via
Gel pens...glitter, neon, and metallic

She can choose any color, but her writing must be easy to read. Other than that, no rules. With 48 colors to choose from, every lesson is an exciting opportunity to try something new.

The first pen Madeline chose was neon pink! I've noticed the neon pens have a tendency to skip. Since switching to the other types, she hasn't had a problem. The ink flows easily and consistently. 

Of course, the glitter and metallic are her favorites.

Fiskars gel pen package - label view

Mine came online from Amazon, but you could probably find them locally at your favorite craft store. Most likely, they'll be in the scrapbook section. 

Traditional schools might turn their nose up at colored pens for handwriting practice. Oh, well...I can be a bit of a nonconformist. But why do something the boring way? Especially when it can be so much FUN!