Our 5th Grade Homeschool Curriculum

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Since my youngest son is an avid birder, I’ll share some bird photos I took on a trip to Franklin, North Carolina. This is a song sparrow.

Every year I have written a blog post about the curricula I’ve used for my boys in elementary school. (Once we get to middle school, I’ll share all the nitty gritty details in my PDF resources.) This post will cover what I used for 5th grade for my youngest son last year.

You might notice that it’s not an exact replica of what his older brother was doing when he was in the 5th grade. Younger brother is a completely different kid, and he’s going at a different pace. This is as it should be. However, it’s also partly because I had all these resources and didn’t have to search for them like I did when I was doing 5th grade with my eldest. All these factors make a big difference.

Feel free to ask me any questions in the comments. I write detailed email responses, if I get good questions. Also, if I’ve written a review of these resources, I’ll link to it.

Tree swallow

Language Arts

He finished Fix It! Book 1 (IEW) and Michael Clay Thompson’s Grammar Town and Practice Island. 

I created Type 1 and Type 2 writing prompts for him as explained in Twelve Writing Assignments Every Middle School Student Should Complete.

He worked off and on in Language Smarts Level E from the Critical Thinking Co. It’s extra practice.

He began the Michael Clay Thompson vocabulary program with Caesar’s English I. 

This kid is an avid reader, and it’s a challenge to keep enough books on hand for him. (Getting him a Kindle really helped.) He’s flown through series such as The Secret Zoo, The Familiars, Wrinkle in Time, Seekers, Guardians of the Ga’Hoole, Harry Potter, and The Land of Stories as well as single books that aren’t in a series. Right now he’s waiting for another Redwall book from the library.

Mourning dove

Math

He finished four Life of Fred math books last year, including all of the intermediate series. After trying to go further in that series, however, it didn’t seem like a good fit for him anymore (my eldest son did stick with Life of Fred for a while longer but eventually switched as well), so he switched to Khan Academy for the remainder of the year. For 6th grade, we’ve got a new curriculum, which I’ll share in another post someday.

Science

I took a real shift in science this year. Learning about science had always been part of our natural, weekly routine when my eldest son was younger, but due to a lot of factors — shifting interests, the pandemic, and how my younger son learns differently — I decided to begin outsourcing science. By this I mean online classes, and for my youngest son, Outschool.com has been an incredible resource. He enjoys the live Zoom classes. I’m also grateful for these classes because he continues to be very interested in studying birds, and if this keeps up, he may go into the sciences for a career. I want to make sure he has a good foundation in science.

So, in the 5th grade, he took the following classes on Outschool:

      • Zoology Semester Course (10 weeks) by Marc Cuda*
      • Wild Animal Wonders: Introduction to Bird Biology, Ornithology Just for Kids! (8 weeks) by Teacher Carmen
      • Wacky World of Science Summer Camp for Middle School Learners (6 weeks) by Patch Kulp
      • Extraordinary Birds Part 2 by Marc Cuda (He had already taken Part 1)

Aside from this, we also read How to Think Like a Scientist by Stephen P. Kramer, and we continued to watch science and nature documentaries on an almost daily basis, which we’ve done since our kids were babies. (So they enjoy them!)

* If you want a review of the teachers on Outschool, send me an email. You can also read teacher reviews on the site.

Carolina wren

History

History lessons were informal. My husband is a history professor, so both my boys benefit from his insights from time to time. In the 5th grade, my 5th grader read a bunch of books:

He read Story of the World, Vol. 1: Ancient World by Susan Wise Bauer by himself. He liked this book more than my older son did.

Together we read Everything You Need to Ace American History In One Big Fat Notebook, and we both liked it. As we went along, I also read history related storybooks and middle grade books that I had picked up at library book sales. We continue to do this in the 6th grade.

Foreign Language

He continued to take weekly Mandarin Chinese lessons with a tutor online last year. Hiring a tutor was the best thing I could have done to make sure we stuck with a foreign language study. We still don’t keep up with it as well as we should, but we make progress because of the weekly lessons, and my youngest son is pretty good at reviewing the vocabulary a few times each week.

Tree swallow

Music Education

My 5th grader completed four years of cello lessons in August 2021! I can’t believe how time flies. 

Last year was really weird because we were stuck at home due to the pandemic, and we continue to be mostly at home now, although that’s slowly changing. There were outside activities I had hoped to get my 5th grader involved in, but it hasn’t been possible. It’s extremely frustrating, and I don’t know how this will affect him in the long-run, but I’ll always be grateful that we were already homeschooling when the pandemic started, we have each other, and we started using Outschool!  What a lifesaver that has been! 

September

When I was a little girl, my favorite children’s book was Wacky Wednesday. I read it over and over and over again. It was about a boy who woke up on Wednesday, and everything about the world was wacky. Shoes stuck to the ceiling and planes flew backwards. As he went through his day, the world got more and more wacky, and he was the only one who could see that everything was not quite right. Finally, the day ended, and when he woke up the next morning, everything was back to normal. What a relief!

As a child, this story was funny but also cathartic. Things go wrong! Not everything is perfect. However, if we wait long enough, we’ll come out the other side.

I think we can all relate, can’t we? We might have a wacky day or a wacky year. Yep, the world is pretty wacky right now, but I’m not counting on waking up one morning and everything being back to normal. I think what we can count on, however, is our ability to adapt, grow and change when necessary, which makes it much easier to deal with the wacky world, which, actually, has always been wonkers. Some of us have a harder time with change, which makes life so much harder for them. These people can make life more difficult for others too. :/

If I’ve learned anything from this wacky time, I think it’s that whatever a person chooses to listen to, i.e. what media they read/trust, says a lot more about that person than whatever the Truth is. No media outlet, reporter, book, opinion shouter, has the whole Truth. It’s always more complicated. We think we’re so connected and that we have all the answers at our fingertips, but I think it’s even harder now to cut through the endless hype. Hmm. Less media and more meditation might help. Ha ha.

Okay, I will stop while I’m ahead.

We had a good August, and my boys are a year older! Again! Yikes. And now I’m homeschooling 5th grade again, and whoa….8th grade! It’s the last year before high school. Wow. Wow. I can’t believe we’re at this point. Every year has gone by faster than the one before it.

I’m excited about our upcoming year. Despite the pandemic, I think it’ll be a great year. The boys have a lot of activities they are involved in (all remotely). Maybe it’ll be a better year because we’re going to be home together everyday. With time moving as fast as it is, I know my boys will be growing up and living away from this house before I know it. So I’m always going to appreciate this extra bit of closeness we had together.

Still, I hope hope hope that later this year we’ll have some kind of relief, and it’ll be safer to resume in-person lessons and meet-ups. Fingers crossed. If not, we’ll deal with it, right?

At some point I’ll write about our plans for 5th and 8th grade, but I can’t promise when. I’ll probably pepper my monthly updates with tidbits, but I may wait until the end of the year to give a comprehensive overview of our curriculum because I always end up tweaking my plans and letting some things slide. This is also the year my husband and I will be doing some serious thought about high school for our eldest son. It’s so exciting! But we have a lot to consider and research. I’m thankful that my husband is big on research, and this is one area he seems to like researching.

We took a couple weeks off in August, and most of the summer we were on a lighter schedule. It was good to keep a little structure in our days, but we also played a lot of games, read lots of books, and enjoyed many movies and documentaries. Here are some of our favorites:

Exploding Kittens — Our new favorite card game. It has a big giggle quotient. 🙂

The Wrinkle in Time Quintet — My younger son is really enjoying this classic book series right now, although I don’t own this particular boxed set. We had some old copies and also used our Kindle to get the whole series. My eldest son really enjoyed A Wrinkle in Time when I read it to him many moons ago, and it was my favorite book when I was in the 4th grade. I even wrote a letter to Madeline L’Engle, and she wrote me back!

Unfollow: A Memoir of Loving and Leaving the Westboro Baptist Church — I read this book for myself, and I can’t recommend it enough. I first heard about it during an interview with the author on NPR’s Fresh Air last year, and listening to her speak about her upbringing, the realizations she made in her late twenties, and the love that she still has for her family, I wanted to read her book. If I find the time, I may write a longer review of it, but I do highly recommend it. I like it because this is not a vengeful exposé. It’s a thoughtful retelling of her experiences and the events and thought processes in realizing her family’s and church’s mistakes. And it’s a good testament that yelling, spewing insults, and arguing do not change people’s minds. What changes minds is building relationships in kind and gentle ways. Something the whole world could learn from right now!

Connected — A Netflix original, and a truly great documentary that shows how our world is much smaller than we think it is. Watch the trailer at the link. (And remember: I try to post all the educational programs we watch on Pinterest.)

So please tell me: how are you feeling right now? Are you managing okay through this wacky time? What plans do you have for this upcoming school year?

New Curriculum: Vintage Poetry for Modern Kids

You may remember that I wrote a post last year about how to teach poetry to a child who hates it. I came up with some good ideas, but I wish I had this new resource then because I think it would have been a great way to teach poetry to my boys.Vintage Poetry for Modern Kids contains 52 classic poems and hands-on projects that can be adapted for any child at any age.

This book is beautiful and truly helpful for homeschool parents and teachers. It’s everything I want in a homeschool curriculum: easy to use and designed to be flexible. The poems are arranged by season, but you can pick and choose the poems and projects you want to use. It is secular too.

Each entry in the book includes the poem, synopsis and notes, questions that will help you start a conversation about the poem, and a section on how to guide your student to read the poem like a writer. In addition to that, there are fun projects that you can do too. For example, for “How the Little Kite Learned to Fly” by Katherine Pyle, there is a lesson on how kites fly and directions and a template to build your own kite.

Here are two selections from the book that you can read for yourself:

“How the Little Kite Learned to Fly” by Katherine Pyle
“The Grass” by Emily Dickinson

You can also read the Table of Contents and Introduction ofVintage Poetry For Modern Kids on Amazon, which is where you can purchase it too. Check out the book’s webpage on The Flourish Workshop Press for copies of the individual poems and craft templates that you can print out as needed.

I’m going to try using this resource this year with my 5th grader this year. If you try it too, please let me know what you think! I’m excited about it.

Quick Review: Michael Clay Thompson’s Language Arts Program, Level 1 and Part of Level 2

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I was lucky enough to receive Michael Clay Thompson’s Language Arts Program, Level 1, a.k.a. The Island Level for free when I wrote a comprehensive article on grammar programs for home/school/life magazine. Being able to see a full curriculum before buying it is a luxury most homeschoolers don’t have, and for that reason, I was so grateful. This is not a cheap curriculum, and I never would have bought it without seeing it first.

Over that year, I read all the books to my boys, but I didn’t have them work through the Practice Books, which are essentially the worksheets that reinforce the teaching. Also at that time, I picked IEW’s Fix it! The Nose Tree as my eldest son’s grammar program because it just worked better for him then. While I didn’t feel he needed to work through the MCT workbook at the same time, I did think that reading Grammar Island and Sentence Island helped him understand what he was doing in The Nose Tree better.

Also, I fell in love with these books. I am not exaggerating when I say they are beautiful. These books incorporate beautiful artwork and large, easy-on-the-eyes fonts. I think using a beautiful textbook makes a world of difference when trying to teach youngsters, and it made a world of difference to my adult eyes, which can get quite weary trying to read small text in the cluttered books of other curriculum.

This year I bought part of Level 2 because I have ditched the Fix It! series, and I’m going to continue on with MCT. However, I can’t afford to buy it all at once. I have bought only Grammar Town (teacher’s manual) and Paragraph Town (teacher’s manual). As much as I would like to buy the student books, I have to save money. So I use the teacher’s manuals, and I type and print the exercises on my computer for him to work through. Grammar Town worked really well for my son, and I’m very pleased with it. We’ll be working in Paragraph Town this coming year.

As for my younger son, we are going back and re-reading the Island Level this year, and he will be using the practice workbooks with this program – so they will not go to waste! (And I should mention that he loved the Mud trilogy, which he read this past year.)

I would love to buy Caesar’s English I (teacher and student books) and the next book on poetry, Building Poems (teacher’s manual), but it’s just not in the budget right now. My priority will be getting through the grammar and writing textbooks of this wonderful curriculum, and I’ll buy those as I we need them.

I should mention the one flaw with this program is that is doesn’t teach much punctuation! Kind of strange, don’t you think? However, this is easily remedied. I purchased a punctuation workbook on Amazon that I’ll have my son work through this year, and I’m pretty good at punctuation, so I can help him with that as he continues to work on his writing skills.

UGA Bug Camp

My eleven-year-old’s insect collection after a week in camp.

Last week my boys went to bug camp, and they had a blast. This camp is facilitated by faculty and grad students at the UGA Entomology department, and it’s offered twice during the summer. They also do a spring break camp, and last week I heard that they may do a fall break camp, if there’s enough interest.

They spent most of the week collecting bugs at various sites around the UGA campus and Athens, identifying them and starting a collection of their own. (I think it was an extra bonus for my homeschooled boys to get to ride in buses and vans.) They always came back to the classroom for lunch and to cool off. Lunch included a movie on Netflix for fun.

A list of all the bugs that the campers caught during their week in camp.

My boys have been taking 1 or 2 day camps each summer since they were five years old (sometimes together and sometimes alone), and I wrote about that in detail in this post. It’s been a great way for them to gather with other school kids their ages as well as learn new things. They usually participated in the camps at the state botanical garden, but this year we decided to do something different. The bug camp was a big hit.

If you live in the area, and your child is into insects or nature, I highly recommend this camp.

Best of all, they got the coolest camp T-shirts ever this year!

Speaking of insects, we are raising black swallowtail caterpillars right now! I’ll be posting updates on my Facebook page, and I’ll eventually write a blog post about it too. Wish us luck!

Nearing the End of 5th Grade Homeschool

Spent a few days on the gulf coast this spring.

Officially, our “homeschool year” isn’t over until August, and I will continue to give my boys lessons through the summer. However, when the weather turns warm, we start making time to get outdoors, and I begin to prioritize our lessons in this way:

  1. What can we finish before June?
  2. What do I want to stop and carry over until September?
  3. What will we do for summer lessons?

I have been concentrating on those things I want to finish and putting other things aside so that we can enjoy the good weather, and I’m making flexible plans for the summer, which I’ll write about later.

There are a few subjects I plan to write more detailed posts about, but I wanted to briefly go over what we accomplished and didn’t accomplish as I look back on the plans I made for 5th grade at the beginning of this year. This is for my eleven-year-old.

Language Arts

writing

I’ve already written a detailed curriculum review — and our experience of — IEW’s Student Writing Intensive on the home/school/life blog. Be sure to check that out, if you’re looking for a writing curriculum. We haven’t finished it yet, and to be honest, I may try something else over the summer, and if we like it better, we may not go back to it. However, I think IEW’s curriculum has worked well as far as getting my son started with formal writing.

literature

We finished reading Blood on the River: James Town, 1607, and we’ve been reading The Porcupine Year by Louise Erdrich, which I hope to finish soon. I continue to read the Redwall series to my eleven-year-old in the evenings. We’re reading them in publication order, and now we’re on book five, Salamandastron.

Yes, we read slow! I wrote all about that on the home/school/life blog too. But we’ve also been reading some long books for our history curriculum this year, including Geraldine McCaughrean’s The Odyssey. (We used the version from our library that was illustrated by Victor G. Ambrus.) We also read D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek MythsI consider these books part of our “literature” and “history” exploration.

My son also likes reading silently to himself, and my husband will pick up a tall stack of graphic novels for him from the library every month.

grammar

I still love Fix it! Grammarand we’ll be finishing The Nose Tree very soon.

cursive

This year he completed Beginning Traditional Cursive. Not sure how I’ll continue with cursive practice yet.

Math

The Life of Fred series continues to be a winner in our house, and we’ve finished up to the book titled Liver. I will probably save Mineshaft for next year. We’ve started using Kahn Academy, which my son likes. (I tried it a year or two ago, and it wasn’t a good fit then.) We also used a Spectrum Workbook, but less so, since we began Kahn Academy. We have found the videos on Mathantics to be extremely helpful.

History

I keep detailed records of what we do for history on this blog, although I have not yet published what we’ve done for Ancient Greece (coming soon).

I’m very proud of how much world history we’ve done this past year and a half. We’ve covered these topics: prehistory, Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt, the Hebrews, Ancient India, Ancient China, and Ancient Greece. Our huge history timeline is filling up with interesting points of history!

Science

When you spend a lot of time doing one thing, something else has to give. This year I feel like we haven’t done enough science, but then again, we did so much science in the past, we were kind of ahead, so maybe that’s okay. We did watch plenty of science and nature documentaries, raised monarch butterflies, expanded our garden, and continued to learn about birds.

Foreign Language

My heading at the beginning of the year was “Spanish,” but now I’ve changed it to “Foreign Language.” This is because….yes, I may be crazy!…we’ve begun learning two foreign languages: Spanish and Chinese.

Learning languages has been fun, but we’ve taken it slow (like we do with everything), and I feel like this year has been more about figuring out how to teach the languages than actually learning much of it. It hasn’t been easy, but I’m going to keep trying. I will write more detailed posts when I feel like I have more to say about it.

You can read about my search to find the perfect Spanish curriculum in the Winter 2018 issue of home/school/life magazine. We have been using Risas y Sonrisas, and I love it. We’re trying out Better Chinese for Chinese.

Art

Like I said at the beginning of the year, our art explorations ebb and flow. I thought this wouldn’t be the year for art like it was in the past, but we’ve actually had some great art lessons.

In November, we went to Chicago to visit relatives, and we took the boys to the Art Institute of Chicago. Leading up to this trip, I spent a few weeks teaching the boys about the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists as well as a few other artists whose works were featured in that museum. We did some related art projects too. It was so much fun, and my eleven-year-old especially enjoyed it. He likes art history, especially when he learns about an artist who lived at the same time as one of the famous music composers. In fact, I gave him an assignment to find two artists who lived during the time of two composers, and then we searched for their artwork at the museum.

Besides this, we had a couple of other art history/art project days that we did when we needed a break from our regular routine, and during our Biloxi trip, we visited the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art and the Mobile Museum of Art, which I’m going to write about soon on this blog.

For our art history lessons, I have found the artist bios on ducksters.com to be a great starting off point as well as Art With Mati and Dada, other YouTube videos, and, of course, library books. I ordered several Chicago Institute of Art books from our state-wide inter-library loan system.

Music

If you read my blog regularly, you know that music is what our days are all about, so I won’t repeat that information here. I’ve already written about my 5th grader’s third year of piano lessons, and you can view his YouTube channel here. It shouldn’t be too long before we post more videos there. 🙂

That’s our 5th grade curriculum in a nutshell. It’s been a full, good year, and I’m very pleased with what my son has achieved. I’ll eventually follow up with a review of my 2nd grader’s year too.

Three Years of Piano

This is my third year writing about my son’s main interest—classical piano. In fact, I think we can stop calling it a project now. This is his chosen vocation, which, yes, I believe a child his age can have because I’ve seen it over and over again in my husband, myself, and in the biographies of people I admire.

My son may have many vocations over what I hope will be a long life, but being a musician is definitely one of them.

There’s not much more I can add to what I have already written except to say that he’s still working hard and making good progress. My husband and I continue to provide him with the time and tools he needs, and we all enjoy attending classical concerts at the nearby university. He has been entering local and state-wide competitions and doing very well in them.

We decided to take the plunge and create a YouTube channel for him. He is excited about it and hopes he’ll get a lot of subscribers. You can follow his progress over the coming years, if you care to. I feel some trepidation about putting him out there into the world, but I also know that sometimes you have to take risks in life. I hope you will check it out and subscribe.

I will write about important piano events in my monthly updates, but this will be my last project-based post because as I mentioned above, this has gone beyond a homeschool project. Many thanks to everyone who has supported my son’s endeavor.

A year of meaningful work

Here it is — the end of April — and while our homeschool year won’t officially end until July or August, I begin now to start thinking about what I want to finish, what I’ll carry over to next year, what to work on over the summer, and we start to shift to other meaningful learning opportunities, such as gardening and admiring the spring flowers. I mean, how can we not get outside when the weather is so beautiful? (The photos in this post come from a morning we spent at the botanical garden.)

When I began homeschooling, I wanted to give my children a say in what they were learning, which I thought — and now know for sure — would motivate them to learn. I also wanted the chance to pick subjects I felt was important to teach them, and I wanted to decide when and how they should learn it. After seven years of homeschooling, I’m so pleased with what my boys are accomplishing and who they are becoming. I do think that homeschooling has made all the difference.

Whatever path a parent picks to educate their kids will have its challenges, and nothing is perfect. Sometimes I wish I had more resources so that I could provide additional activities for the boys, but I think we’re doing pretty good with what we’ve got. I’m realizing that any concern I had about homeschooling in the beginning is working itself out in the long run. That’s the thing about homeschooling — it takes the long view. There are no deadlines for anything like there is in traditional school. That makes a big difference for kids.

I will be writing a bit about the boys’ projects in upcoming posts. I said I would stop doing that, but what can I say? I have to share some of it! I’ll try to keep it brief.

I’m starting to realize that homeschooling my boys is one of my projects, and I’m enjoying it more than I ever thought I would. Through their interests, I’ve learned so much, but as I sit down and think about what’s important to teach — I get so much out of that too. I enjoy exploring curriculums as much as actually using them. These may not be subjects that my kids have asked for, but I’m not ramming it down their throats either. We take our time, and I back off, if they dislike something. Over time, I’ve realized this approach has kept the boys from hating “school stuff.” They even seem to like it sometimes.

We are, of course, doing the basics, such as math and grammar and writing. I feel like I’m relearning these subjects, and it’s great. I am enjoying the Life of Fred math books just as much as my boys, and it’s not so much because of the story about Fred, but I enjoy getting a review in math in a way I can understand it! And though I love to write, I’m starting to understand how to teach writing to someone who isn’t a natural at it, and I find that very satisfying.

I’m also so pleased with our progress in world history — this past year and a half we’ve covered prehistory, Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt, the Hebrews, Ancient India, Ancient China, and we’re going to be finishing up Ancient Greece soon too. We’ve read some fun books and watched interesting documentaries, and just because we’re moving onto another time and place in history doesn’t mean we’ll stop learning about these. As we find more resources, we’ll add them to our list.

This year we began studying two foreign languages! I know I mentioned that we were going to study Spanish, but I also added Chinese about mid-year. I feel like this year has been more about figuring out how to study and teach a language than actually making a lot of progress with it, but in its own way, that is progress, and I’m so excited. Eventually I will write a post about our foreign language study, but I’m happy with it so far, and I am determined to learn it as thoroughly as I hope my boys will learn it.

The challenge is fitting it all into our days. I try to balance lesson time with my son’s work (his piano practice) and our free time too. There are things I have to let go of, such as wanting to read books all morning on the sofa or weekly art lessons. (I’m lucky if I get to one every two months.) There are also subjects I put on hold. I know we’ll get to all of it over the next seven years (only seven years until my eldest graduates! what?!), but sometimes I wish there were more days in the week.

I think I always lament about time more than anything else. But I don’t mean to complain. It’s more of an observation that I have so many things I’d like to do, and it’s impossible to do them all. But that’s good. It forces me to pick what is most important and spend my time doing that. I don’t waste time. (Sometimes I daydream, but that’s not wasted time.) And I hope that as the boys grow up, they will learn to prioritize their work and make time for fun too.

How has your year been going?

Our 5th Grade Homeschool Schedule and Curriculum

Here we are: the fifth grade! I guess you could say I “officially” started 5th grade on September 1st this year, but truthfully, I started some of this curriculum a little earlier, and some of this is just a continuation from last year. I only use grade levels as a sort of approximation or guide. I believe we achieve better results when we go at our children’s pace, while also challenging them at appropriate times too.

I came up with a game plan, and I’ve been tweaking it ever since Sept. 1st. It formed partly from necessity (i.e. to make progress, we need to do writing and math at least three days per week) and partly from my kids’ desires (i.e. they picked the times they want to practice their instruments and do their formal lessons). I have mostly tweaked the morning lessons as I’ve been able to see better how much time we have to complete things.

It’s also important to note that this schedule is not set in stone. We don’t follow it to the letter, and everyday is different, but it’s roughly how I schedule our days. It’s a guide to help me as I plan our daily lessons, which I try to do the night before or early in the morning before the boys wake up. 🙂

Click image to enlarge.

Note that I do the eight-year-old’s main lessons (2nd grade reading, math, handwriting, etc.) right after lunch time, but he also joins his eleven-year-old brother for a few lessons in the morning, such as Spanish, History, and Readalouds (a.k.a. literature).

CURRICULUM

I will be writing more detailed reviews of each of these curricula, and when I do, I’ll link them all to this page.

Writing — I’m using the Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) Student Writing Intensive Level A. We haven’t used it long enough for me to write a proper review, but so far, so good.

Literature — At the moment, we’re reading Blood on the River: James Town, 1607, which is a young adult novel about the first permanent English settlement in North America. Both my boys are enjoying it, and it’s a great history lesson. In the evenings, my eleven-year-old and I are reading the Redwall series together, and he also reads a ton of graphic novels to himself everyday.

Note: See my page Book Reviews to learn about some of the books we’re reading.

GrammarFix it! Grammar: The Nose Tree (Student Book 1) with the Teacher’s Manual. This is the same book we began about half way through last year. This past summer I also read Grammar Island to both the boys, and they enjoyed that book.

Cursive — Believe it or not, it took me awhile to find a workbook for cursive that I liked. I finally found Beginning Traditional CursiveIt’s super cheap and just what I wanted.

Math — We are still using Life of Fred, and we’re about to complete the elementary series and move into the intermediate series! Whoo-hoo! I also use Spectrum Workbooks for a little extra practice where he needs it. Also, the workbooks more closely resemble the standardized tests he’ll need to take, which I want him to get used to.

History — My husband is a history professor, so we’re having a lot of fun exploring history with his help. I’ve written about the history books we purchased in Diving into Human History, and you can follow along with our history lessons on this blog. (See the menu at the top of the page for our history lesson logs.) I’ve already written the first one.

Science — You might have noticed that science isn’t on the schedule, and that’s because I had not really decided on what to do for science when I made it. My son hated the curriculum I bought last year. I have had more luck “unschooling” science because my son is very interested in it. (See all our science posts.) He just taught himself how to use our old telescope, and we’re hoping to get a lot of use out of it this year. We’ve also decided to read The Usbourne Science Encyclopedia, which is a cool book because it has over 180 QR links that I can scan with my phone and then we can watch videos related to the material we’re reading. Perhaps we’ll figure out some experiments we can do along the way too.

Spanish — I have been on a grand search for a Spanish curriculum that would work for us, and I finally found it. I will be writing a review on this for home/school/life soon. We are using Risas y Sonrisas.

Art — Art is an important subject to me, but our exploration of art ebbs and flows. At the moment, I am not planning any formal lessons like I did in the past because we’re busy doing everything else. Both boys are also working on their music lessons in earnest. However, I have found that the best way of getting the boys to get a little creative has been to buy new art supplies once in a while. I also throw art history into our history lessons. I have found Cave Paintings to Picasso to be a helpful book. We also visit an art museum once or twice a year.

Music — Music is still my eleven-year-old’s “project.” He continues piano lessons, preparing for competitions, learning about music history, and attending as many classical music concerts as we can take him to. He’s very serious about it, and it has been an adventure for the whole family. 🙂

As I mentioned before, I will add my reviews of these curricula as I write them. I will also follow up with a post about my 2nd grader’s curriculum.

What are you working on this year?