Favorite Reads from 2017 {Sonlight Core E, Fourth Grade}

There are lots of great books in Core E. You can see what the kids liked last year here and here. This year Annelise, age 8, really enjoyed In Search of the Source. It is a pretty awesome book about missionaries to a tribal people in Papua New Guinea and the struggles they went through to not only share the gospel, but to give them the written Word of God.  Here is what Annelise had to say:

  Annelise, age 8

In his book, In Search of the Source, Neil Anderson and his family share the gospel with the Folopa tribe of Papua New Guinea. Along the way there are many difficulties, but the power of God’s word helps them find a way through. This is a story of true faith, bravery and lovingkindness.

Neil and his family went to Papua New Guinea to translate the Bible into the Folopa language. To do this, they had to learn the language and make it into a written language; be accepted by the people; and teach them how to read. God had called them to do a BIG JOB!

On the first day of translating, Neil had begun to write, but he was struggling to find a Folopa word for “created”. It was hard for him to describe it, and harder still for the Folopans to understand what he was asking. Two days later, on a hunting trip, he found the answer in a surprising way while eating a leaf-plateful of grubs!

This account is full of the amazing ways God reveals Himself to man, and helps someone like Neil to do the work He had called him to do. The faith that the Folopans had and the joy they found in knowing Christ encouraged me and I know you will enjoy it, too.

Spring Photo Booth Writing Prompts

We had some fun this week celebrating sping and looking forward to Easter. My kids love it when we celebrate with a photo booth (Krista’s props make them especially fun) and I love it when we work on their writing skills :). So, I put together some fun spring writing activities that you can use as crafts, as a display, or in a photo booth like we did.

1. Our Easter is Filled With—Why is Easter special? How do you celebrate it? Your students will write and draw about their Easter traditions using this brainstorming writing prompt. They will put each idea on a separate egg and then place it into their Easter basket.

2. In the Spring (Five Senses)—Using their five senses and descriptive words, your students will write about spring. Their responses can then be used to write a spring cinquain. Four colors of flowers are included.

3. Spring Cinquain—Your students will use the descriptive phrases and action words they came up with for “In the Spring” to write a Cinquain (a short, unrhymed 5 line poem of 22 syllables). Cinquain poster and instructions are included.

4. Rain is a Blessing—Your students will ponder HOW (what if it did not rain), WHY, and to WHOM rain is a blessing in this photo booth writing craft. This also a fun writing craft to use after discussing the water cycle.

Grab this set of PHOTO BOOTH WRITING PROMPTS for half-off today only!

Favorite Reads from 2016 {Sonlight’s Core D/E}

Here are Annelise’s favorite books from this past school year.


Annelise, 7

As Om-kas-toe and his sister were serving as lookouts for their Blackfeet tribe, the discovered a strange animal. Life for their tribe would never be the same. Om-kas-toe, by Kenneth Tomasma, was my favorite read-alone book from this school year. In this book Om-kas-toe learns how to hunt, fish and take care of himself. He has lots of exciting adventures in this book. The most exciting is how he captured the elk-dog. You’ll have to read Om-kas-toe to find out what happened.

I listened to my brother, Knud’s Core E read-alouds this year. Caddie Woodland, by Carol Ryrie Brink was my favorite book that we read together. Caddie spends most of her time with two of her brothers. She’d rather be outside having adventures and getting dirty with them, than be inside learning how to sew and cook like the other girls. This story is based on the real life of Carol Brink’s grandma. It takes place during the 1860s in the woods of western Wisconsin. This is a great book to listen to. You’ll like hearing about Caddie and her brothers’ adventures—some are really funny!

Favorite Reads from 2016 {Sonlight’s Core E}

Here are Knud’s favorite books from this past school year:


Knud, age 9

My favorite read-alone book was All-of-a Kind-Family by Sydney Taylor. It is a story about an immigrant family living on the Lower East Side of New York City in 1912. There are five girls living in this family. We have a big family, too—but not all girls! What I liked about this story was how the girls were kind to each other and helped each other. There was one time that Sarah, the third oldest, lost her library book because she had shared it with a friend. The librarian said she had to pay a dollar for the lost book. Sarah was so sad. She had been saving her pennies to buy a doll with real hair. Her sisters decided to help her pay the fine, so she could still get the doll she wanted. This is a great book about a family that cares for each other.

I really liked Usborne’s The World Wars. It is an action-packed, picture-filled book about World War I and II. It describes the events that took place before, during and after the World Wars. I especially liked hearing about the aircraft they used and the stories of people who fought in the wars. You will learn a lot about these two world-wide events when you read this book.

Let’s Master Multiplication!

We love Math-U-See’s curriculum! All of my kids have benefited from the instruction and structure of this math program. But, although we are not yet at the end of a school year, my Gamma girl is “finished” with her math for the year.  (Math-U-See’s Gamma is a 30 week multiplication curriculum and our school year is 36 weeks :).

Like you, I don’t want my children experiencing the summer slide–especially since summer hasn’t officially begun around here. So, this is what we do:

Slide1Mastering Multiplication is great for review!




For each number, 2-16, your students will review skip counting with that number (multiples) and apply it. They will write equations, solve the arrays, determine factors, create equivalent fractions and answer simple word problems.


Then we review that number’s standard units of measure and apply it with real-life examples.


Mastering Multiplication also reviews squares and prime numbers. And the fluency sheets are the icing on this math-cake! Your Gamma kids are going to LOVE this review and you will have the next four weeks of math covered!

Grab a copy this weekend (Saturday & Sunday, 14-15 May) from my TPT store for 20% off!!!


Graphic Multiple-Digit Multiplication

For some of our children, like my eight-year-old, multiple-digit multiplication can be quite a challenge. It isn’t the math facts that are a stumbling block, its the structure–the placement of products–that creates a problem. So, after multiple explanations of the WHYs and WHEREs with me watching like a hawk as she worked each problem, I decided we needed a different approach.  One that appealed to her visual learning style, but didn’t keep her stuck there–always needing the visual cues.


Graphic Multiplication is based on a two-step traditional method approach to multiple-digit multiplication.  Your students will find all of the products FIRST, and add SECOND. They will also CHECK their own work–immediate feedback to ensure success.


Graphic Multiplication has three stages, or levels of computation independence. You can see the variation between the three stages with these two sample problems.


Once your students have mastered STAGE ONE—the graphic organizers that identify the place value of each number and number’s location for each step—they should complete problems on the STAGE TWO graphic organizers that only have the initial prompts. This second set of sheets will test your students’ understanding of the organization of multi-digit multiplication problems. Finally, STAGE THREE sheets have no prompts—just a reminder to be cautious about number placement.

These graphic organizers can be used with whatever math program and multiplication problems your students are working on!


Week Three {My First Research Paper}

This is the third, and final week, of your student’s first research paper!  (You can view Week One and Week Two by clicking the links). It is writing week and we are ready!  Begin this week by having your students fill in the “Possible Hooks” page of their Research Booklet.  If writing a hook is a new idea for your students, use the worksheet provided in the My First Research Paper download to get their creative juices flowing.

Their favorite hook can then be used in their opening paragraph (introduction). Now, they are “Ready to Write.” Use these cards and the “Revision Checklist”, from My First Research Paper to go over what you expect to find in their rough draft and set them working.



When my daughter was stuck (getting stuck is part of the writing process at this age–at any age!!!), she found using her notecards helpful. Be sure to have your students use their graphics in their rough draft as “place holders.” Simply lay them on the page to see how much space they need.  Then take them off and write which graphic goes in that spot.

Once their rough drafts are complete–its is time to publish! They are heading toward the finish line–and need lots of time for writing (and breaks)! Keep encouraging them to finish well.

Oh, how fun it is to be done!




Week Two {My First Research Paper}

This week your students will transform their notes into an outline.  Begin this week by ensuring that all of your students’ notecards are complete–as complete as your third graders can get them :)!

The next step is organizing the notecards into groups–the prompted notecards make this a simple step.


Now it is time for your students to begin their informational outline–this is part of their Research Booklet. On the first day of starting the outline, just have them enter the topic headings.


Your students will use the next two days to add in the key points to the informational outline from each notecard.  Don’t let your students write everything from each notecard–just simple phrases to help remind them what important fact they want to include.


The last day of this week have them develop their working outline (also found in their Research Booklet). This is a KEY step, so don’t skip it :)! The goal here is to condense their topics into three main body paragraphs. So, if they have more than three topics (my daughter had four) in their informational outline, they will need to do a bit of regrouping.  She combined her first topic–Characteristics with her fourth topic, Family Life and Lifespan.


It has been a GREAT week of Getting Organized.  We are a week away from Getting it Done!! Be sure to encourage your students–they have been working hard!


Week One {My First Research Paper}

Before we jump into the first week of our research paper, let’s take a look at our plan for the next three weeks:

WEEK ONE:  Pick a Topic; begin research—compile information on note cards; document sources in research booklet.

WEEK TWO Finish research and develop an outline

WEEK THREE:  Turn outline into a rough draft and then a final, polished research paper.

I’ve included instructions throughout My First Research Paper (Get Organized and Get it Done!) that will help guide you through each week, so I won’t repeat all that in this post. Instead, we’ll take a look at an example of how our first week went.


Annelise picked Moose to research (which is pretty fun since she has seen a few around our home). We went to the library and were able to find a good book in the junior non-fiction section that described the Moose in detail. She spent Tuesday reading/looking through the book. On Wednesday we went over the Research Booklet, Prompted Notecards and completed a Bibliography of the book that she found at the library. I also showed her how to begin taking notes on the notecards (writing simple phrases and focusing on the facts in the text).  She spent about twenty minutes that afternoon and Thursday filling in the notecards.



My First Research Paper

This is an exciting time of year for third graders as they embark on writing their first animal research paper.  Okay, maybe for some it is a nail biting, tear-filled experience–but, it doesn’t have to be!  My First Research Paper will help you (and your students) Get Organized and Get it Done!


Here is what is included for YOU:
** a suggested daily schedule of tasks for the next thee weeks
** week by week (and task by task–topic selection, completion of notecards, sources and graphics, development of informational and working outlines, creation of rough draft, the process of editing and drafting the final paper) instructions
** student tracking sheets (to help monitor each student’s progress)
** weekly status reports for parents (these are not included in the homeschool edition).
** mini-lessons on choosing a topic, and writing “hooks,” and documenting sources (with posters)
** and a grading sheet.


For YOUR STUDENTS there are:
** prompted notecards
** a Research Booklet—Everything you need to keep your students’ research organized is included in this booklet.
** a “Ready to Write” rough draft guide
** revision checklist (that mirrors your grading sheet)
** and lots of FUN!

Your students’ FIRST RESEARCH PAPER doesn’t need to be a struggle! Spend the next three weeks helping lay the foundations of some vital life skills—research, critical thinking and analysis of information—not wiping tears or writing lots of animal papers yourself. This pack will help you to get your students organized, so they can get it done!