First day back to (home) school – Grade 3

So at last, after a two-month holiday, we started with Grade 3 today! (Never again that long!)

The day started off interesting when Buck was stung by a scorpion on his little foot, so first there was a lot of comforting, and discussion about scorpions and what God’s Word says about them (Luke 10:19). Some kids get freaked out very easily and need (a lot of) explanation and reassurance that people don’t just die as result of every sting or bite, and I saw this as an opportunity to prove to him that Jesus’ Blood washes us clean – an opportunity to let his faith grow.

Anyway, as usual we had a poster saying “Buck’s 1st day of Grade…”. I thought of leaving it out this year, but over the holidays he specifically asked whether he was going to have one that announces his being in Grade 3. So I made one. And took a lot of First Day photos. Especially ones with him and his 1st Day poster. He loves posing for the camera!

The classroom preparation took a little longer than usual this year, because I painted the room (blue) and then decided to decorate the empty spaces with sea-creatures, since that is our theme for the year. I enlarged selected clipart (on Microsoft Excel, because of the ease of the overlapping of the picture on several pages when you drag it bigger than a page size), traced it onto the walls and cupboard doors, and painted it with poster paint. The blue walls gave a nice background, looking like the seawater containing the animals I painted on it. I kept the “schoolroom” door closed for a whole day, so the anticipation ran high until he at last was allowed in the (class) room this morning. An exclaimed “wow” was enough reward for my effort!

Every year we have a “goodies” bag that contains all the new things we need for the year – glue, coloring pencils, eraser, crayons, magnetic letters (used for spelling), etc,; something nice to nibble, and stuff we need to do a “first-day” craft. This year we didn’t do tie-and-die T-shirts like the previous two years, but I included two shirts (one for him and one for me) that I had printed. His has “Sailing through Grade 3” printed on the back, and mine “Sailing with my son”. On the front I had a picture of a sailboat and our names printed. I first dished the shirts out so we could wear them on our First Day back to school. I let him unpack and unwrap all the new items (he loves ‘opening’ things like gifts), and put them on their place.

Then we moved on to discuss our daily schedule. I made some adjustments to our daily schedule (from what it was last year), and it now also includes chores, and physical and eye exercises (to counter what the computer does to a person). We discussed all the new rules, events, activities, approaches and goals with him (I made a list as they came up over the holidays so I wouldn’t forget them).

I believe in planning your work, and then working your plan. Since time goes past so fast, and I’m a little forgetful sometimes, I worked out a daily chores list for Buck as well as for me. Children need to do physical work. It creates good habits and gives them a sense of self-worth and belonging (and when they’re teenagers, it keeps them out of trouble). I divided our house into sections, and made lists of each and every thing that has to be cleaned. (For example, the Bathroom mirror, table top, and wall tiles have to be wiped, the bath cleaned, the toilet paper packed etc.).
Then I divided the chores into the days of the week, and selected some chores that Buck is able to do, and separated it from mine (thus creating a checklist for each of us) – But we’ll be working together in the same area in the house so it doesn’t feel like punishment to him, rather like doing something together. I laminated the chores checklists so we can mark it off with a whiteboard marker (can be erased again for use the next week) as he completes them (he then has the freedom to choose when during the day he wants to do what). At the end of the day he can record how much he earned for the day (he earns X-amount for each chore, but this amount only pays out on Saturday IF all his expected activities like personal hygiene, making his bed, schoolwork, etc. for the day have all been completed, otherwise what he earned for the day will be forfeited). This plan worked excitement in Buck, and I can honestly say that his response was a relief (it was better received than I anticipated).

Obviously after all this excitement we became hungry, so we baked some carrot muffins. I let him do all that he is able to do. I believe a boy must be able to do anything in and around the house (as do girls, on the other hand, I just don’t have one to speak for them!).

After the muffin break, we did a craft: I bought some wooden letters that spelled his name, and we painted it and pasted it on a piece of hardboard to create a “place-name” which he could either put on his room door, or at his school desk. This he enjoyed. But by this time he was so excited to start “school”, he begged me to start an official lesson.

As I mentioned before, our theme this year is Ocean Life, and we will be using Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Zoology 2 – Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day. Last year I was so impressed with Exploring Creation with Zoology – Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day that I decided to continue using Apologia’s curriculum. I gave Buck the choice of which of the other elementary science curriculum books he wanted to study, and he decided on this one. I integrated our whole curriculum with this book, so that Buck could enjoy what he has to learn (reading, writing, speaking skills etc.), and it includes Lapbook entries, writing assignments, reading assignments, projects and experiments, amongst others. My plan is to share the lesson plans as we complete them.

I obviously purchased a couple of books extra to complement the Zoology 2 book (for read-out-loud, copywork, drawing, and other reference), because the state of the local library leaves much to be desired. The good thing is that he can always use these books again later in his school career if he needs some resources. I introduced these books and the workbooks we’re going to use, and touched on our goals for the year (e.g. to learn how to write a paragraph, write creatively, and deliver a speech etc.).

Then I let him complete an “All about me” sheet, and pasted it into his My Ocean Friends “Lapbook” (But this year it is not really a traditional Lapbook, because it consists of a ring-bound book of clean sheets of paper onto which he can paste all his copywork, drawings, Lapbook and Notebook entries, and whatever else we would like to add to our study throughout the year).

This eased us into our first lesson in Zoology 2, even though it was just a short, introductory lesson.

That’s it! Interesting and fun-filled 1st day back to homeschool! Why shouldn’t it be fun?!

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