3rd Grade Charlotte Mason Homeschool Plans, 2020-2021


This is my second time around planning a full year of Charlotte Mason style plans for a third-grader and I know these plans are MUCH more realistic than the first time around. Below are the books and resources I am planning to use for 8-year-old John this year.

A bit about my third grader
John has been doing Charlotte Mason style lessons for the last two years so he has a good handle on what to expect. As this is his final year in Form I, he will also have no new subjects this year so it is pretty much just a continuation of what we did last year.

As John is not yet a fluent reader, I will be reading all of his lessons to him until he becomes fluent enough to take on this work himself. He can read a lot of what is put in front of him but it takes so much work that it detracts from his time and ability to focus on the subject at hand. We are really going to work hard to move toward fluency this year! That said, my biggest challenge in scheduling this year has definitely been that I will be educating two non-fluent readers.

About planning our homeschool
Each year, I consider the subjects that Charlotte Mason included for her students as well as the time spent on each subject per week and information about the number of pages read each term

I do not aspire to do everything just as Charlotte Mason did. Like my children, I am a born person with strengths and limitations so I feel like it is my duty to do only what I am capable of doing right now in a respectable, patient way with the children and resources I have available to me.

This year, I planned out material for a 10-week term followed by two 12-week terms with the last week of each term being designated for exams and for finishing up a few readings that we didn't get to. You can read much more about how and why I plan our homeschool schedule this way in my introduction to our 1st Grade Homeschool Plans, 2020-2021.

Our Timetable for Students in Form IB and Form IA
This year, I have created a timetable to schedule the work for a 1st grader and 3rd grader, both of whom will require all of their lessons read to them. Sometimes the times do not line up 100% correctly and sometimes it might not be clear how I can be in 2 places at once (hahaha!) but my husband will be helping out with the first lesson of the day. Here is my initial attempt to make this work . . . it will likely be tweaked as we put it into action. Some of the subjects do not appear on the timetable because we do them at morning time or another time, so be sure to read below to see how we fit those into our day.

3rd Grade Charlotte Mason Plans, 2020-2021
I have tried to note in [ ] whether I'm using a free book or how much I paid for each of the resources we are using. I am committed to homeschooling with free or really cheap books as part of our journey to be debt-free while living on one income.

This post contains affiliate links. Read my full disclosure to learn more.

Bible Lessons
Morning time, oral narration after each lesson
We will read narrative portions of the bible during our morning time during breakfast using the lists available on Ambleside Online and using a New Revised Standard Translation. Using this translation worked better for us than using the King James Version, so we will continue to use this version next year. Unlike Ambleside Online's plans (which coincide with the way Charlotte Mason planned bible lessons) we choose to read only 1 book of the bible at a time instead of alternating between the old and new testaments. We will begin this year with Exodus and move on from there.

Language Arts: Reading/Literature, Copywork/Handwriting, Spelling, Recitation
Reading/Literature (5x10min/week one-on-one lesson, 4x10 Explode the Code Online [$40 from Homeschool Buyers Co-op])
John's reading has come a long way over the past two years but decoding most words is still a lot of work for him so he is not fluent yet. My current assessment is that John is just one of those kids who wasn't developmentally ready to read at an early age. 

This year, his daily schedule includes 10 minutes for a Charlotte Mason style reading lesson (as described by Leah from My Little Robins in her helpful reading series).  For these lessons, we'll use a movable alphabet, whiteboard and many books--including Treadwell readers, easy readers, All About Spelling readers, Frog and Toad, Little Bear, and anything else that seems at the right level to practice and improve skills.

I have also scheduled 10 minutes four days a week for John to drill on his phonics skills using Explode the Code Online. John doesn't pick up phonics rules quickly so Explode the Code seems to be really helping him practice basic skills that he just wasn't mastering no matter how many times he studied words with those sounds during reading practice. 

I have often looked at the Explode the Code Workbooks but I always decided that they would be too much writing for John. This summer we gave the online version a test drive and I could see John's improvement through the program's reports and he doesn't mind doing it. Most importantly, I can notice an improvement in his book reading. He will start the year working near the beginning of book two (online). After a lengthy assessment (90 minutes!!!) he was placed at the end of book one, but in about 10 days he has already progressed quickly through the beginning material. This "computer time" will also give me time to do work with his sister and may even attract the toddler's attention away from being disruptive toward the end of lesson time.

John really wants reading to be easier because he loves books. Hopefully, this will be the year that he is able and willing to do the hard work needed to master this subject. 

John will also listen to family read alouds at morning time, at lunchtime, and at bedtime, as well as audiobooks in his spare time.

Copywork/Handwriting (4x10min/week)
John will complete Beginning Traditional Cursive, Grades 1-3 this year [bought for him last year - $6.99 on Amazon] and will move onto using Kumon's My Book of Cursive Writing: Words [$7.65 on Amazon]

He will begin the year printing a few lines in a primary notebook from Spelling Wisdom selections and will transition to writing those selections in cursive at some point during the year. His brother started doing copywork in cursive at the beginning of 3rd grade but John needs to finish his first cursive book and get a bit more practice before he is ready to take on that challenge.

John continues to do only a small amount of writing daily, but it must be his best work.

Spelling (3x10min/week)
Charlotte Mason didn't include spelling at this age and she didn't do it this way. To me, this is another way to explicitly learn and practice phonics rules. John completed Level 1 last year and this year he will use:

Poetry (Listen to the same poem read aloud every day for a week at morning time) While I do not follow Ambleside Online's poetry rotation, I do choose the majority of our poets and poems from their collection. We will focus on a different poet each term:
  • Term 1: Christina Rossetti
  • Term 2: Carl Sandburg
  • Term 3: Paul Laurence Dunbar

Recitation (3x10min/week)
Each 6-week half-term John will work on reciting beautifully (to the extent that he has memorized or can read) 2 poems and 1 passage or another poem. I pick 2 selections and he picks the other poem with my approval. 

Out of necessity for our schedule, I am recording his pieces for him to listen to using the Easy Voice Recorder App. I chose this app because it was easy to name the files and easy to save them to my Google Drive so that if my phone was dead or unavailable, he could use any browser on any device to listen to the recordings. I hope that his dad will be able to read the pieces to him some of the time because last year we learned that he learns better from a person than a recording, but we'll content ourselves that rich exposure to the pieces is still worth it even if his recitation itself isn't as good as it could be . . . 

As you can see, I choose many pieces from our current poet for the term, as well as from the plays I hope to see and the historical figures we will be studying. This year, I have selected the following pieces for John:

No foreign language?
I am not including a conversational foreign language in our homeschool this year for John. We have used Talkbox.mom for the last few years, but I find it challenging to use with children who are learning to read . . . especially if memorization does not come very easily for them. This year we are focusing on the things I am more capable of doing because I know the limits of my patience and energy!

Social Studies: History and Geography
History (2x20min/week, oral narration after each reading)
I created my own booklist and schedule of readings for John as we study the 1900s.
We are not able to come close to covering all of the major events of the 1900s in the time I have allotted for history this year. We will supplement our formal history study with fiction and nonfiction read alouds, but we still will have gaps. I think it is much, much better to read a few interesting, living books than to worry about rushing through lots of content. 

John will also be completing a century chart this year . . . sort of like a visual timeline of 100 years. Next year, he will begin keeping a Book of Centuries and I think that the century chart is a nice baby step toward that practice.

Geography (2x15min/week, oral narration after each reading, plus related mapwork that I keyed to the readings)
We'll be reading Marco Polo: His Travels and Adventures throughout the entire year, alternating with the other assigned books. We will fill in details on blank maps (printed from an old Uncle Josh’ Outline Maps CD-ROM I bought on Amazon several years ago)  using our 2010 atlas [already owned - $25.20 used on Amazon]. 

Math (5x20min/week)
John will continue to work through Beast Academy, supplemented with any other materials as needed. He will pick up where he left off . . . about halfway through Beast Academy, 3B [purchased for my older son for $32 and used with dry erase marker in slip sheets so we could reuse it without buying another workbook.

I anticipate that we will also need to drill on multiplication tables, and we may break from Beast Academy to work on
Science: Natural History, Special Studies, Nature Notebooking
Natural History (2x10min/week, oral narration after each reading)
Special Studies (Morning time and object lessons)
I chose the following topics for the year:
  • Term 1: Wildflowers & Fruits / Birds & Mammals
  • Term 2: Fruit Trees / Birds & Animals (Migration and Hibernation)
  • Term 3: Wildflowers & Trees / Amphibians
I used the rotation found on Sabbath Mood Homeschool to come up with this list.

Because this is a family subject, I will read books on the topic at morning time and I will also try to plan brief object lessons on these topics as possible. I also tend to seek out special nature experiences on our topics (likes one's hosted by a state park or naturalist) as possible.

Nature Notebooking (daily entries, weekly nature watercolor drawings)John will continue his practice of noticing something in nature and dictating it to his father to write in his nature journal every day. We still miss a few days a month and that is perfectly fine for us. We do this all year round, 7 days a week. Once a week there will also be 20 minutes in his schedule to make a watercolor drawing of his choice in his nature journal. [John already owns all of his nature journal supplies - our supplies and costs here]

Morning Time (at breakfast)
I select additional living science and natural history books as part of our morning time. These titles are not narrated.

Wild + Free Nature Group (3-4+ hours every Friday) [$50/year for our family]
We will participate in our weekly year-round nature group at a rural property. With a dedicated group of other homeschooled kids and preschoolers, John will climb trees, play in the creek, cook food over a fire, play with sticks, hike, and observe plants, animals, weather, and more. This group is an important part of our homeschool week and it helps me actually achieve giving my kids a good half-day in nature each week. 

We will certainly plan for frequent nature walks in our neighborhood and observations in our own yard in addition to weekend and break weak nature experiences as a family, but this group definitely keeps me accountable to get the kids out for hours at a time even in bad weather.

Art & Music: Watercolor, Drawing, Handicrafts, Singing, Artist Study, Composer Study, Piano
Watercolor drawing (2x20min/week)
Once a week we use watercolors to draw something from nature or draw a picture based on some of our history or reading books or maybe draw along with a how-to-draw book.  Once a week we illustrate something in our nature notebooks.

Handicrafts (2x20min/week)
Twice a week, I have scheduled handicrafts during our morning lesson time. I try to have a primary handicraft to work on each term, but sometimes we dabble in several different crafts. This year I'm planning to focus on:
Soap carving will be a new endeavor for us, but the other books and handicrafts have worked well for us in past years. John will also continue being a big help in the kitchen and the garden. 

Singing (2x10min/week)
I choose folk songs each year mainly by browsing Ambleside Online and the book Gonna Sing My Head Off!: American Folk Songs for Children by Kathleen Krull. This year I choose 14 songs:
Why I choose what I did:
  • Last year I chose several songs to complement the historical time period we were studying and I thought it worked well so I'm doing that again this time. 
  • I also choose several songs geared toward young children this year because I think they will strongly appeal to 1st-grader Sylvia and 2-year-old Harry and I know that my days where they will appeal to Peter are numbered!
  • Finally, several of these songs are ones that my mother taught me . . . I needed an easy year ;-) I enjoy singing, but have trouble carrying a tune so each familiar song or easy melody will make getting this done easier.
Artist Study (1xweek at morning time)
Each term we read about the life of the artist and study 6 works by the artist. My school-aged children are expected to look at the picture, narrate about it from memory, then participate in a picture talk about it. For the rest of the term, I display the print in our family room. This year we are studying:

Term 1: Winslow Homer [Free PDF artist study from A Humble Place]
Term 2: Peter Paul Rubens [Free PDF artist study from A Humble Place]
Term 3: Henry Ossawa Tanner [Free PDF artist study from A Humble Place]

I printed the study guide from my home printer and intended to have the prints made at our local university print shop for about $.50 each. I have yet to hear back from them (possibly due to issues surrounding covid-19) so I will begin the year using a tablet and book stand to view the images and go from there. I had already ordered 4x6 prints from Shutterfly to put in our family art album so I will at least be able to display those during the term.

Composer Study (1x10min week)
This year we will study one composer per term by listening to their music for 10 minutes a week using the following playlists (pieces selected from ones included on Ambleside Online):

Piano (afternoon occupation, 6-7x20min/week)
Hoffman Acadamy [Not an affiliate link! We just love Hoffman Academy.]
John will begin the year about halfway through unit 5. He usually isn't thrilled to practice piano, but I think deep down it is only because he wishes it were easier for him. His progress (especially when he has a practice partner to help him with reading and technology for the practice sessions) is steady and I love to hear him play. He always enjoys starting a new song so I think he really does enjoy it too.

Physical Education
Our tentative plans include:
  • AYSO Soccer (Fall and Spring) - Not sure if the fall season will happen yet . . . 
  • Ice Skating Lessons (Winter 2021)
  • Swimming Lessons (Summer 2021)
  • Hikes, bike rides, and walks around often, especially in spring, summer, and fall
  • Wild + Free nature group which gets us active and outside as a family for about 4 hours each week
See the rest of our yearly plans here.

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