Right now, with us preparing for the arrival of our 5th child, I don’t have the time available for planning that I normally have. We are still busy renovating our home, working on the blog, and I… am nesting – Big Time! (Have you ever tried nesting in a home you are still renovating? It is an uphill battle.)
Ordinarily, I am not a “box curriculum” person. I strive for a balance between structure, fun, and observatory learning. I never thought a packaged curriculum would share the same idea. I always thought that was something that could only be achieved…outside of the box. That was, until I received Oak Meadow.
Forth Grade Syllabus:
This is where it all happens. Almost all of the instruction provided will come from this one book (excl. math). Simplicity at it’s best. Can you imagine the space on your shelves? Social Studies, Science, Language Arts, and Art – all in one book!
My first observation was that the Introduction wasn’t speaking to me! It was speaking to my 4th grader instead!
We hope over the course of the year, you and your parent will work together to help you become a more independent learner…
My second observation was they teach with a mother’s heart. The lessons are gentle in tone. When reading the Syllabus to your child, you don’t feel as though you are reading from a text, but instead, it is like the book has you reading from your heart- with words you would use. When your child hears you reading the instructions, they already hear you [the parent]. Sometimes when you are reading lesson instructions to your child it doesn’t feel natural. You have to take those words in and regenerate them in a way that your child finds pleasing. With this, you don’t have to do that. It is already on the page in a way you would say it.
My little quirky love… it is a spiral book. This means there will be no funky folded pages half-way through the year!
As previously stated, I love the approach. Social Studies and Science for this level are right up our alley! In the first lesson, they ask the student to pick a tree native to their area, draw it, and list everything they believe that tree has seen in it’s lifetime. This tree will be known as “their tree” for the duration of their studies.
I love that they ask the children to think about the tree, more than just some tree they see all the time. But to imagine what that tree has been through. What has it survived? What history has it seen? …this is learning, thinking, and awareness of the world around them.
Another portion of this lesson was to guess the age of a tree based upon the rings. We happen to have a very old tree on our property that was cut down before we purchased the home. The rings were so close together the kids had trouble determining just how old it was!
This curriculum couldn’t be more perfect for us. We live on a five acre, old farm, in an area rich in history. My children are going to learn so much about their home throughout the year. How can someone not appreciate something they know everything about?
Don’t live on a farm? That’s ok.
The material you will study will vary depending on where you live. Students who live in cities will gather different information than students who live in rural areas. Students who live in the Eastern United States will learn a different history than those who live in the West. Taking an individual approach to learning…
This may not be included in every package automatically. I like the manual because it provides you with a brief overview of what your child will be learning in each lesson, suggestions on additional research that may need to be conducted, quick tips, and reflection questions at the end of each semester. I think it is worth the extra fee if it isn’t included in your package.
4th Grade Math:
Book Setup: Lessons are broken into a week time period, not a single day. The book consists of 36 Lessons, plus an Appendix with Extra Practice Sheets for when your child needs just a little bit more.
I don’t know that I like the Answer Key being in the back of the book. I know a child like my oldest would find this and be tempted to cheat; even if he already knew the answers. You may need to have a backup plan if you have a sneaky little one. Maybe carefully cutting it out and placing it inside of your Teacher’s Manual. Meanwhile, you could use the answer key to your advantage by allowing them to check their own work. This may take the temptation out of it because they know they will get to look at it anyway.
Big Plus: The practice pages have large print, I think this is great because it doesn’t leave the child feeling overwhelmed with a ton of problems on a single page.Why should a child spend an hour completing a math practice worksheet with over fifty problems on it? They shouldn’t – and Oak Meadow agrees!
My oldest daughter has severe math anxiety, I asked her to preview the book and provide me with her opinion. She said she likes the large print on the problems; nothing looks difficult to her until Lesson 7 (Roman Numerals). She didn’t know what those were but thought they were “neat”.
I love the games they recommend within the lessons. As a child I enjoyed Pyramid Solitaire, it never dawned on me to teach my children how to play it as part of a math lesson (Lesson 1, Pg 15). You will definitely need to purchase a deck or two of standard playing cards as there are a variety of other games offered throughout the book that require them.
I also like that once a skill is taught it is integrated into the next couple of lessons and built upon. This is great for complete comprehension and retention.
Also included is Recorder Duets. This book is to be used with a child who has already completed basic and intermediate recorder in prior grade levels. My children, however, are new to Oak Meadow and although we have a soprano recorder, they have never been introduced to it. If this the case for you as well, you may need to order the Beginning and Intermediate Recorder Books before beginning Recorder Duets.
I was interested if a child with previous instrument instruction can play directly from this book without the need to backtrack. My oldest daughter has been playing the violin for three years. She has an understanding of music theory, and is accustomed to the notes on the treble clef. Challenge: I gave her a quick lesson on finger placement, provided her with Recorder Duets, and asked her to play the second song in the book “Twinkle Twinkle”. After she practiced for an afternoon she was able to do the following:
Again, this was after a single afternoon, first time ever truly using the instrument (other than blowing as hard and loudly as possible whenever she could pull it down from the top of her closet). I am impressed. Therefore, I do not see the need to purchase the prior two books at this time. If your child is struggling to understand the instrument, you might want to invest in Beginning Recorder. Not all children will take to it easily.
I received their complete 4th Grade Package, including supplemental materials, to review with my family. As with Mindy’s kids, my children went nuts for the supplementals. They couldn’t wait to read the literature books. I myself, was in awe over them – Treasury for Children is full of great story-time reads for our little ones. (My husband discovered the Indian Legends book yesterday and took off with it – to read to the kids of course.)
Our package came with the following literature supplements:
If you run through the above materials, you can find more Supplemental Book Ideas in the Appendix of the Syllabus (Pg 283-286)
I can imagine if I had all of my children involved in different levels of Oak Meadow’s Curriculum, it may become a little overwhelming. For me, it would be easier to concentrate on one set at a time and use the grade specific resources for each individual child (purchasing recorder and math for each level separately). For example: The theme for 4th Grade is Nature and Native Americans, but the theme for another grade level is early American history. Each are in depth studies and if you don’t have independent learners.. you could be pulling yourself and your family in many different directions at once. What I love most about Oak Meadow (all subjects are tied together for one great learning experience), could also be the one thing I don’t like. Then again “how could you customize the package to allow for multiple grades to study the same theme?” I don’t know that it would be possible without compromising their purpose.
- Set aside time once per week to read your teacher’s manual while having your child read through their syllabus.
- Have your child prepare a supply list for you (weekly or bi-weekly). There is nothing worse for a child than to get excited about a project only to find out that you don’t have the supplies they need to do it! (Make sure to have them check the Crafts Appendix in the back of the Syllabus. Pages 287-300)
- Consider Block Scheduling. Many of the lesson’s activities are in-depth and impossible to complete within an hour’s time. If your child’s interest is being sparked, sit back and enjoy it, allow them to finish.
- How Homeschooling Families Use Oak Meadow
- Oak Meadow’s Homeschooling Support
- Homeschool Resources: Living Education Journal
- Oak Meadow’s FAQ
- 4th Grade Curriculum at Oak Meadow
- 4th Grade Sample Lessons
- More Curriculum Samples
- Oak Meadow Bookstore
- DenSchool’s Review of Oak Meadow’s 6th Grade Curriculum
*Disclaimer: I was given a complimentary 4th Grade Curriculum Package from Oak Meadow for the purpose of facilitating my review. No monetary compensation was given. All opinions expressed herein are unbiased and not influenced by the developing company or its affiliates in any way.*