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Grade 4 Curriculum

Grade 4 Curriculum
Margaret is a bit more of an unknown. We did do a practice day where I borrowed her from public school for the day. I did a number of activities with her and we talked about them afterwords. We eliminated somethings and add some others. Overall I expect that I will make changes throughout the year as we figure out her learning style better.


Margaret has been in Catechism, so that will continue. At this level that would probably meet our requirements on its own but we have a couple of other things planned. One of the books she likes the look of from her practice day was Lord, Teach me to pray, For Kids. Since there was an earlier book in the series offered in the package we got How to Study Your Bible for Kids. We will also be using a kids Missal to study each weeks readings. They come with some commentary so that will help with the discussions.


I really liked the Student Writing Intensive for Philip. It was his weakest subject and it is not Margaret’s strongest either. The DVD lessons make it a lot easier for me and I was very impressed with Philip’s improvement last year.

For the reading portion we will be using the books that are listed in the social studies section. I like the two birds with one stone idea.

Social Studies

Our broad areas are the Early Explorers to North America, and First Nations. We also have to add some mapping to that but that we will work in to the other stuff. I plan on using a couple of living books, specifically:

The Story of Rolf and the Viking Bow
Dangerous Journey : The Story of Pilgrims Progress
Indian Captive
Children of the longhouse
Lost in the Barrens

On the explorers part we have Time Travelers Series : New World Explorers. It looks interesting but it is our first exposure to their products. We will also use researching on Wikipedia.


For science we have Light and Sound, Weather, Food Chains and habitats.

For the weather I would really like to get a digital weather station. Certainly we will keep a log. I also have a friend that is a meteorologist so I am hoping to get a tour of the local weather station. Beyond that I expect that we will do some research online.

I have some cool experiments for the light and sound section. We will play with prisms and shadows and maybe a diffraction grating. I plan on making a tin can phone for the sound part. We will also tie it into the weather with thunder and lightning and how to tell the distance.

For the Habitats we will be using the book One Small Square : Woods. It looks really good and will go well with keeping a journal. We are also going to use Healthy Habitats.


IXL has worked well for Philip so we will start with it for Margaret as well.


My wife has offered to do some music with the kids in the morning. I would like to do sketching everyday. Last year I bought Drawing with Children by Mona Brooks. I did some exercises out of it but I would like to get in to it more this year. Other than that we will wing it.

Grade 6 Curriculum

Last year I started out with a recommended package for curriculum. It was put together by out local homeschooling store and it is quite good. I made changes to it last year after a lot of research. This year with a year under our belts and a better understanding I will be even more particular about what I buy.

Grade 6 Curriculum


Last year we had a workbook that simply was boring for him. Fill in the blanks is not his learning style. This year we are going more the living books, Charlotte Mason style. I have two Christian Heroes , Then and Now Books. One was in the Recommended Package. I liked the looks of that one and they had one for C.S. Lewis that I had to buy it as well. Since Philip read and loved all the Narnia Series last year he will love this.

I also bought Mother Teresa’s biography. It is going to be some heavy reading but he is up to it. It will certainly bring up some questions and thoughts for him.

He will also continue to attend Catechism. We will also be reading a Children’s Missal for the weekly readings and commentary.


We are going to continue with Student Writing Intensive. It made a huge difference in his writing last year and we didn’t finish the course. Writing is not his strong suit so the changes we saw with the bit of the course he did do was amazing. The best direct use was when he took notes for an essay. He copied whole sentence and the essay was sounding to much like the source. I had him go back to the notes and apply the three word exercise to each sentence and then rewrite based only on those words.

We also have two books for the reading part of English. These will by no means be the only thing he reads but they are the ones where he will have to complete some sort of project on.


We use IXL. It is really designed for practice but I have a heavy science and math background. He works through it until he hits something he can’t figure out then he asks and we go over it. Math is also one of his best subjects.


We have three area to cover. The first is extreme environment for life. I plan on using this one to examine the possibility of life on other worlds. What is the minimum they would require. This will mostly be online resources including some of the podcast from Astronomy 141 by Prof. Richard Pogge. Philip has listened to some of these before. My expectations for the knowledge gained has to be lower than what the course would require but he still gets loads out of them.

The second is the diversity of life from single cell and up. We also have to cover the kingdoms. This will likely be largely rolled in with the first and mostly online resources.

The third is electricity and electronics. We have cover a lot of this area before. One of the recommended items is a Snap Circuits Kit. These are wonderful and I highly recommended them but we have had one for years and he has already done all the experiments. We will start there to reinforce and make sure we have all terms worked out. I also have an Arduino micro-controller board that we are planning on using over the summer. I just need to make sure that I keep track of our summer projects for portfolio purposes.

Social Studies:

The majority of Grade 6 is comparing countries in a number of ways, from culture, laws, government, demographics, rights, economy, quality of life and society. We are going to be doing three countries. The first is our own (Canada) of course. The second will be China. That one was picked by Philip. He has long had a fascination with China. The third, picked by me, is Pakistan. I plan on having him read Malala’s story. She has a book coming out in October that should be very informative. The Canadian stuff we will probably look up online and discuss. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is available online and is only 2 pages long. The Chinese will probably be mostly online as well although I am looking for a book for him to read, preferably a living book.

Foreign Language:

I will be enrolling him in the Rosetta Stone Mandarin course provided by our Distance Learning provider. It worked well last year so we will continue with level 2. I also found that the local Chinese Association has language lessons. I am planning to give those a try over the summer. I want to see how well he is doing in a more real world application.


This is always the one that is most up in the air. We covered the requirements last year with Irish Dance and a little bit of drawing. I would like to add more drawing to the schedule and some music. My wife has the musical talent in our family. It looks like she will do something with the kids in the morning before going to work.

BC CHEC 2013 Conference Report

Friday and Saturday I attended the BC CHEC 2013 Conference. This was my first conference and thus was a little overwhelming. I did learn a lot but it is Saturday night and I am trying to type out all my thoughts, memories and little gems from the weekend. Mentally I’m exhausted but I did take notes.

Friday started with a Praise and Worship session with some very good and lively music. I was going to see if they had a CD but I forgot. I will ask some of the people I know. There may not be as it was music interspersed with prayer but the music never really ended.

The keynote speaker was Catherine Levison. I had little knowledge of that name going into the conference and now I wished that I had signed up for more of her sessions. Fortunately they recorded everything and I was able to buy MP3s of the sessions that I missed.

The title of her keynote was ‘How do you want to be remembered?’ The notes that I took:

“Whatever you work hardest on is what you are most proud of.”

“What more can I do?” as a motto from a homeschooling family

“Try to do something everyday that will make tomorrow better”

“Show you children to not kill time by example.”

These are all things that I want to add to our home. I also what to add sketching to our daily routine. She also talked about using an If-Then chart for punishments. IF you do this THEN this is the punishment and actually taking the child to the chart to look up the punishment.

I stayed in the same room for her next talk that was and overview of the Charlotte Mason Method. I found it very informative but didn’t take a lot of notes. I also discover that a lot of what I do fits in to that philosophy. She did a whole day of sessions. My wife ended up staying for all of them. They had some cancellations of speakers and thus some of my wife’s sessions were replaced. She chose to stay as we liked some of what we had already heard.

The next one that I attended was called “Boys Can So Write”. I quite enjoyed her presentation and that resulted in my first purchase of the weekend. These books look be very good. We will be giving it a try and finding out. The books are geared towards boys and uses appropriate to boys subject matter. I liked her idea of having kids search for the errors. So in correcting she leaves the right margin blank and puts the symbols for what needs to be corrected on that line. The kids then need to find the error and correct it.

The next session was called “Research 101” and our speaker was Natalie Sing. A lot of it was specific to resources that we had access to through our school. We also talked about primary and secondary sources and the dangers of online research. With online research it is much more important to check the bias, accuracy and source of the information. She also mentioned two websites that will take a source and generate a bibliography for you using a variety of standard. Here we use MLA but there were others. The sites are:

She also has her own blog, True North: Our Canadian Homeschool, that is an excellent resource for Canadian Homeschoolers particularly in the area of social studies. (EDIT) She now has the slides from this talk available on her blog.

The last session on the Friday had my wife and I back listening to Catherine Levison for a talk titled “Balancing Act. To structure or not to structure.” It was another good talk. The funny thing that happened in it was at one point she was talking about getting your work done before relaxing. The example she used was if you go to the mall with your husband shirts still in the washer that eats away at you in the back of your head. At this point I nudge my wife and say ‘Or your pants’. To often my wife has asked ‘Did you wash my pants yesterday?’ to which I answer ‘Yes, But I’m not sure they made it in to the dryer.’ She spotted my nudge and commented to the audience ‘A husband over here just elbowed his wife. I’m not even going to look over there’ She theatrically turned away and then went on with her talk. I laughed my head off. I found it very funny that she had made an assumption on our roles and thus misinterpreted the joke my wife and I were sharing. After the session I went up and explained the role reversal and the humor that I found in it. She thanked me for telling her that side of it. I wonder if I will become a story told at future speaking engagements.

That ended the Friday sessions. On Saturday morning there was another praise and worship session but we got out of the house late and missed it. The first session was called “Home Management and Organization for the Homeschooling Mom.’ And Yes I did get a laugh out of the mom bit. I found that I already do a lot of what she talked about but there is still a lot of room for improvement in our house. The biggest item for us is to get rid of stuff . One of the things she said was about your stuff needing stuff. My stuff needs places to put it all. We have gotten rid of a lot of stuff in the last couple of years but more needs to go. Some ideas she uses.

25 minutes of work followed by a 5 minute break. Repeat 4 times then a 30 minute break. Repeat the whole thing.

Always make any room you are in cleaner before you leave it.

Putting kids art in frames on the wall. You can put more then one is and store it there as well.

The next session was back with Natalie Sing for a talk titled “Canadian History through Living Books”. Lots and lots of wonderful books. She is going to be putting the list up on her blog so I won’t bother writing it out here. (EDIT) The slides are now available on her blog.

The next one was on short stories. I thought it was going to be about writing them but it was about using them as living books. It was good but my exhausted brain took more than a minute to switch tracks. Two books that she mentioned were:

Both are by William J Bennett. She also mentioned the Teaching the Classics program which I hadn’t heard of before. So I am looking at that. I’m not sure I want to buy it but it sounds interesting.

The closing keynote was Cori Dean. At this point I was mentally exhausted So I sat back and just listened, no notes. The two messages that I got from her story was to be content in what you have and to trust in the Lord to provide.

Overall I had a wonderful time and will be back next year.


My lone picture for this post. I took his picture back at our old house. It is now Sunday night and I feel that he captures my mood right now which is a little nuts.