Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fourth grade social studies: Branches of government

Fourth grade social studies: Branches of Government

Ah, the workings of government! The fourth grade year is the year when our children begin to learn the way our government works and why it is unique in the world. Without entering into a political conversation, or a debate of the merits or pitfalls of our way of government, it is important that our children understand the basics of its structure. The Founding Fathers, drawing on their experience with the British government decided that the United States needed a strong government, but one that could not get out of hand. To that end, they developed a set of checks and balances that would keep any one part of the government from overstepping its bounds. The way they hoped to accomplish that was to divide the main government into three separate but equal branches. The executive branch consisted of the President and the Vice-president. The legislative branch consists of the House of Representatives and the Senate. The judicial branch consists of the Supreme Court. For our forth graders, the most important part of this is that it was no accident that our government was set up that way, and that we were the first country in the world to ever set up a government in such a way. There are several places on the internet that detail the functions of each branch, and how the three branches balance each other. Good luck with this study.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Fourth grade language arts: Spelling can be fun!

Fourth grade language arts: Spelling can be fun!

By fourth grade you and your child have probably gotten a routine down to help with spelling. The words get harder in fourth grade, of course. Depending on your curriculum, spelling can either be a separate subject, or be considered part of language arts, along with vocabulary. I haven’t spoken much about games to this point, but here is the place where I tell you that making things fun makes things easier. At our house we have always had a little bit of trouble with spelling, and in fourth grade it became very evident. We had lots of tears and lots of fights. I began to seriously consider that my child had some learning disability associated with spelling. Then a fellow homeschooler asked if I let my daughter play games to spell. I let her play games for math, but with spelling I just never considered it. We began to play games with the spelling words online. It eased the tension associated with spelling, and as the tension eased, so did the block that had been in our path. I won’t tell you that spelling became easy, but it did become doable. Playing spelling games has just further confirmed to me that the more fun learning is the more successful it will be.