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Mid-Year Homeschool Curriculum Review for 6th Grade

Our 2016-2017 6th grade homeschool curriculum reviews
Our 2016-2017 6th grade mid-year homeschool curriculum reviews

So how are things going this year in our homeschool? Which homeschool curriculum are we still using and why? Which curriculum did we ditch and why? What’s been added? What’s changed? Below is our subject by subject 6th grade homeschool curriculum review and changes. Click here to read what we started with at the beginning of the year: Our 6th Grade Homeschool Curriculum.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links that I have provided for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

Homeschool Curriculum Review of Our Essential Subjects

Math

We have been using Math-U-See for 4 years now and so far it is great. Are my children in love with math as I am? No, but they are mastering all the concepts presented in this curriculum. Read my post, How to Effectively Implement Math-U-See to get an idea of how we use this curriculum in our homeschool.

English

We have been using BJU Press for 4 years for our language arts and writing. When it comes to learning grammar, I think this curriculum is great. However, after 4 years of their writing component, the boys and I are bored to death of it. It is really turning us all off to writing.

With that, I started the new year by omitting the writing chapters. Instead, I am allowing the boys to work on research papers of their choosing. They are to choose a historical person, event, or scientific concept on which to do their papers. I can’t begin to tell you the difference in their attitudes towards writing assignments now. What took days to draft a single paper now takes about a couple of hours.

So what does this look like in our homeschool? We take on a writing assignment every other week. This gives them time to decide on their topic or person, do a little research, and order books from the library. We also use our membership with NotebookingPages to make our reports look good.

Here is what that week of writing looks like:

  • Monday: planning (usually an outline of their paper based on their research)
  • Tuesday: drafting
  • Wednesday: revising and proofreading
  • Thursday: bibliography and images added
  • Friday: formatting and publishing the final paper

Literature

So far this year, we have read Shakespeare’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ and will end the year with ‘As You Like It’.  Josh really likes it and gets into character when his speaking part comes up. Jack, not so much. He really hates reading the parts. However, he does pay attention and enjoys watching the movie clips for each part we read.

We continue to read the Harry Potter series for independent reading and are enjoying the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series for school reading time. Next month, we will be covering short stories.

This is a list of all that we have read and will cover soon:

World History/Geography

We are still using Susan Wise Bauer’s Story of the World Curriculum. I like this curriculum because it doesn’t just cover the typical European/American history I encountered throughout my elementary years. This curriculum covers the Far East, Africa, and even Australia.

I pair this curriculum with writing now (see above) allowing the boys to do a one-page research paper on a historical person or event of their choice. We also watch parts of the History Channel’s DVDs: Mankind, The Story of All of Usand America, The Story of Us. The boys love watching these DVDs. These really bring out history for them.

U.S. Geography

This has not changed from last year. We take 6 days to cover each state and use NotebookingPages‘ individual state study sheets. I also pair this with Scholastic Highlight’s Which Way, USA subscription. While I do not like the mazes and crossword puzzle activities in the book, they do have other fun activities that require fact checking and mapping skills. We are almost done with this curriculum having covered this over the last two and half years. 50 states are a lot!!

U.S. Government

This year we read Presidential Elections and Other Cool Factsby Syl Sobel around the time of the election. On election day, I printed out a blank U.S. map where the kids could color in each state red or blue depending on the candidate who won that state. We also tallied the electoral college votes on our white board until we reached the winning number.  I still can’t believe how excited the boys got on election day. They really took to their activities. It was fun watching them cheer on the candidate of their choice.

Science

This year, I changed things up and purchased Dr. Bernard J. Nebel’s Scientific Understanding and Elementary Science Education books. Both these books cover K to 5th grade but can be used for any grade with some modifications. These are not textbooks or workbooks for kids. These books are guides for parents to use in order to teach different science concepts.

I really loved these books. Dr. Nebel explains each concept in simple terms and best of all, his experiment suggestions are doable. That is, most of the materials can be found in the home. The few items I have had to buy were things that I found easily at Walmart or on Amazon. You don’t have to worry about trying to find crazy electronic parts or chemicals.

I am also pairing this subject with writing as well. The boys can research either a topic or scientist of their choice. We will be working on creating a periodic table (coming to a post soon) where we will cover each element on a report sheet from NotebookingPages (this site has everything, can you tell?).

Homeschool Curriculum Review of Our Electives

Technology

We are currently using Homeschool Programming Inc.’s Digital Savvy for learning simple computer skills. The boys can’t wait to learn programming but I believe that they should learn the basics first. I am so glad I decided to do it this way. What they are learning now, they are applying to their research reports such as word processing, using images, and search engines. This program even teaches about spreadsheets, social media, and how to be safe online.

We also included the subscription based EEME as part of their tech curriculum. Read my review of EEME to find out more about it.

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Spanish

So far I have been winging this without curriculum. I have not found anything that goes beyond simple labeling and maybe a few common phrases. I did start touching upon the basics of verb conjugations in order to get the boys creating simple sentences but I am running into a little trouble finding resources to further their grasp of the language. Would love to hear from anyone who has a great resource.

Typing

We are using Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing Family Edition that we purchased as a download off of Amazon. Scheduling this every day, the boys ended up finishing the tutorial part before Christmas. I think it did a good job of teaching the boys how to type. Josh has really taken to using his skills whenever he is on a keyboard; Jack, not so much.

Right now, the boys are working on the typing tests available at the end of the tutorial. As far as scheduling goes, I only require typing practice on those days that they are not working on research papers since this gives them an opportunity to practice their typing skills already.

Health

We have not done health yet. We will be starting after U.S. Geography is finished which will be some time in March. I’ll update this post with that review once we finish it.

And this is it folks, our mid-year homeschool curriculum review. I hope you found it helpful and if you have any suggestions for curriculum, I’d love to hear from you. If you would like more information on a particular curriculum, don’t hesitate to contact me or leave a comment below. Also, don’t forget to sign up below to receive my newsletter alerts. I am in the habit of making lots of freebies so don’t miss out!

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How to Effectively Implement Math-U-See for Homeschool

Image of Math-U-See Zeta Textbook for 6th grade homeschool curriculum review

Are you feeling frustrated with scheduling and using Math-U-See in your homeschool? I have seen comments across many homeschooling communities from parents who are having trouble scheduling and implementing this curriculum. The result: kids crying and sometimes, parents crying. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Pinterest Pic 1 for Math-U-See post

Math-U-See: 215 Days of Work!

Math-U-See Zeta Textbook

For every level workbook in Math-U-See, there are 215 sheets, a combination of worksheets and tests. Each workbook has 30 chapters:

  • 3 lesson practice sheets (worksheets A, B, C)
  • 3 systematic review sheets (worksheets D, E, F)
  • 1 application & enrichment activity (worksheet G)
  • 30 lesson tests
  • 4 unit tests
  • 1 final

It seems like a lot, but I find this to be just the right amount of practice sheets and tests to confidently measure my children’s mastery.

How I Schedule Math and Still Enjoy Summers Off

If you already familiar with Math-U-See, you know that it comes with a DVD where students and parents can watch Mr. Demme explain a new concept and then demonstrate ways of solving them. These lessons are short and sweet, averaging about 5-10 minutes. Not too bad. Listed below is how I schedule a particular chapter.

Pinterest Pic 2 for Math-U-See Post
  • Day 1: we watch the video clip for that lesson/work on sheets A & B. (Sheet A usually has the first two problems already done, so assigning both sheets isn’t a big deal. Plus, it gives them enough practice to learn that new concept.)
  • Day 2: we work on practice sheet C
  • Day 3: we work on practice sheet D
  • Day 4: we work on practice sheet E
  • Day 5: we work on practice sheet F
  • Day 6: I use practice sheet G as a bell ringer and give them their lesson test

In this way, I am able to fit 8 of those sheets into 6 days….except when practice sheet F lands on a Friday. I am reluctant to giving kids a math test on a Monday after a weekend. In this case, I have the kids do their sheet G on that particular Friday and save sheet F for Monday. Then I give them their test on that following Tuesday. Below is what our math schedule looks like for a typical month.

Example of Math-U-See Schedule in Google Sheets

This cuts down that 215-day year into a reasonable school year. If giving them two sheets the first day seems excessive to you then skip A and give them B for more practice. Click here: Our Math Schedule if you would like to copy and edit it in your Google Drive for your own homeschool.

Go as Fast or Slow as You Want

Math-U-See is not assigned or designed to a particular grade level. This means that you don’t have to finish an entire math book in a year. You can do 20-25 chapters then resume the rest the following year.

Math-U-See levels are not assigned a particular grade so you don't have to finish an entire level in 1 year.Click To Tweet

If you would like to see how we fit our math schedule along with other subjects, check out our 6th grade schedule and 6th grade  curriculum picks.

Quick Tip #1: The Goal is Mastery

In math, the goal is mastery, not memorization. Practice is key because it provides different ‘scenarios’ to apply what they have learned. My children’s mastery of math has made learning new concepts easier and less frustrating. So try not to skip practice sheets.

Quick Tip#2: Don’t Hate Math

For those of you who ‘hate’ math: instead, embrace it. And above all, don’t convey your hate of math to your children. They will see it as this evil thing and follow your behavior. If you really, really hate math, then perhaps have someone take over that part for you. Have your spouse, an older child, a friend, or maybe a next door neighbor work with your child.

To learn more about Math-U-See, visit their website at: http://www.mathusee.com/ They have plenty of videos demonstrating their products.

So how do you schedule Math-U-See into your homeschool? Let me know below in the comment section. I am curious to see what you do.

Take care,

Post Signature for Implementing Math-U-See

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links that I have provided for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.



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EEME Review

boys working on EEME project 3 EEME review

EEME Review as Part of Our Homeschool Curriculum

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links that I have provided for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

pin pic of EEME review

What does EEME Stand For?

EEME stands for Electrical Engineering/Mechanical Engineering. I added EEME to our 6th grade curriculum this year after searching for an elective that the boys would love (and stick to). This is my EEME review.

Why EEME?

After homeschooling for three years, I’ve tried to get them interested in art. The boys just don’t care for it. They have my tone-deafness, so playing an instrument is off the curriculum. They love their Legos and building things. However, when I require they build something for school, their motivation and creativity shut down.

One thing they do love: video games!! and Legos, of course. So, I decided to add computer science to the curriculum. Right now, they are learning the basics of computers and programs and will graduate into creating gaming programs and coding in the next few years.

They like their new course but learning the basics is not really exciting. I felt that something was lacking. The curriculum needed a hands-on creative outlet that ties in with electronics. This is when I found EEME. EEME provides project-based activities where kids put together various electronic and mechanical components. The results are thrilling as my boys light up a bulb, display different numbers on a LED, and recently, sound an alarm.

josh showing off EEME light project

What is EEME?

EEME is not your typical textbook/exam curriculum. The company sends a different project every month and provides video instructions online at their website. So far, each project has 20-30+ modules that consist of activities (putting together pieces), and review questions before they progress to the next activity. This monthly subscription is $18.95.

boys working on EEME project 2

I have to say that the boys really like EEME and truly cannot wait until their next shipment. I am beyond happy that I was able to find something that the boys are sticking to (unlike karate.) It doesn’t hurt that it is educational too. Now, the boys are realizing that their computers are not just a screen and keyboard (or console) but a set of electronics put together and programmed to make it work the way it does. They truly are learning the bare-bone basics of all things electrical and mechanical.

boys working on EEME Project 1

Fitting EEME into Our Curriculum

As for fitting this into our curriculum, I have designated it an elective so there is no one special day we work on our EEME. I check out our work load and if there is time, they will do a handful of modules (usually one activity followed up with review). This allows the boys to work on their projects once or twice a week without too much down time between shipments.

EEME also offers other projects on their site that include robotics. I am thinking about saving that for the summer. So take a look at what they have to offer and consider this as an elective for your son(s) or daughter(s) whether you homeschool or not.

This post may contain affiliate links.

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Top Homeschool Resources for First Timers

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My Top Homeschool Resources for First Timers

top homeschool resources pin pic of pencils

We are in our fourth year of homeschooling and so I have here my top homeschool resources for first timers and those who are still on the fence about it.

When I made the decision to homeschool I thought it would come easy to me since I was a teacher. However, I was wrong. Yes, I could teach but I had no idea how to choose the right curriculum or what subjects I would have to teach at certain levels. I also did not know any of the state or city laws that pertained to homeschooling and forget about the requirements for ‘proving’ your children’s mastery. It was July of 2013 and I had a month to learn everything I could before handing in my Notice of Intent to the city’s school division and preparing the boys for their first year of homeschooling.

After so much research, most of it online, I found the following resources that I still use on a regular basis.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links that I have provided for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

Top Homeschool Resources for Those Who are Unsure About Homeschooling

Before I handed in my Notice of Intent that first year, I stumbled upon Erica Arndt’s website: http://www.confessionsofahomeschooler.com. This mother of four is amazing. She has been homeschooling her children from the top homeschooling resources 101 start. With her experience, she has created the book: Homeschooling 101, A Guide to Getting Started. In it, she describes every facet of homeschooling and provides step by step instructions to help prepare one’s family for this new adventure. She also provides exercises that I found helpful in solidifying my decision to homeschool.

The second resource I recommend is your state’s department of education website. Here you can find the legalities associated with homeschooling and check whether you are able to comply with them. Also, some states may provide a ‘virtual academy’ where the students are taught and tested according to the state’s standards. The only difference is that the child is learning from home via a computer. This may be a good option for parents who want to homeschool but don’t feel comfortable doing the actual teaching.

And finally, the third resource is your state’s homeschool association. You can find your state’s homeschool association by visiting the Homeschool Legal Defense Association at www.hslda.org. These organizations have a wealth of information about all aspects of homeschooling within your state. You can find the legalities of homeschooling in your state and/or city district as well as other resources to help get you started. My state’s homeschool association sends me newsletters when a law has changed, dates and places to homeschooling conventions as well as family picnics for getting together with other homeschool parents. I especially like receiving my monthly field trip suggestions newsletter. This is where they provide me with a list of places that cater to homeschoolers and even provide discounts. Also, for many associations, if you join up (this usually comes with a yearly fee) they will provide you with legal support for homeschool issues.

Ok, I’m In, Now What? My Top Homeschool Resource for Choosing Curriculum

After visiting the sites above, the next thing you are probably wondering about is curriculum. If you don’t know where to start, I recommend cathyduffyreviews.com. You can find almost every subject here with reviews and prices. I actually purchased her book,top homeschool resources cathy duffy 101 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum when I first started and I was glad I did. It is still my go-to book when I am looking for curriculum. For first timers, I suggest getting the book. In it, she outlines all the different teaching styles and matches the curriculum to that type. This is how I learned about the Charlotte Mason style. She also provides religious affiliations associated with a given curriculum. She recently came out with an update version, 102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum.

My Top Homeschool Resources for the Charlotte Mason Style

If you have chosen this style or parts of it like I have, then you will want to visit: simplycharlottemason.com. Here, the Shafer and Smith family explain in great detail this method of teaching. You can even catch them on YouTube showing step by step how to implement this method to different subjects. You can also purchase their curriculum at this site as well. What I love is their CM book finder. They have gathered every available ‘living book’ and listed them here by subject and grade.

Another site to check out is notebookingpages.com. Here, Debra Reed provides assorted pages for implementing the Charlotte Mason approach for almost every subject. I purchased her lifetime membership four years ago and have to sayFree Notebooking Pages Sampler that it was worth it. With your membership you’ll receive free samples of curriculum from other vendors to try out as well a year free to her web app that allows one to create their own notebooking pages. After that, it is only $2.49 a month to keep. Since my boys were too young at the time, I opted out of the web app, but have recently added it since the boys are becoming more and more computer savvy.

Other Top Homeschool Resources that I Recommend

If you have a young child, I would recommend confessionsofahomeschooler. Here, you can find Erica Arndt’s assorted curriculum from kindergarten to middle school. She also provides reviews for other curriculum.

For homeschool freebies, visit: homeschoolgiveaways. I get a ton of free printables that range from homeschool subjects to schedules and planners.

Try your local library’s website. I use my library’s site to put books on hold for the coming week, listen to audiobooks, and register the boys in upcoming educational events that take place there.

Well, I hope you find this helpful. I will continue to add and update this post when I find other useful resources. And if you have a fifth or sixth grader, check out my reviews of the curriculum we used. You can find this on my homepage under the tab ‘homeschool’.

This post contains affiliate links that help pay for this blog.

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2016-2017 6th Grade Homeschool Schedule

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Our 2016-2017 6th Grade Homeschool Schedule

6th grade homeschool schedule pin pic

Below you will find the boys’ 2016-2017 6th grade homeschool schedule. After choosing their curriculum, I was able to create the boys’ school day schedule that takes us from 9am-3pm. Keep in mind that there are days when we are unable to stick to our schedule due to appointments, errands, etc. We try our best to stick to the schedule so that we can finish our day on time.

2016-2017 6th grade homeschool schedule
http://www.homeschoolingtwinkies.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Our-2016-to-2017-school-schedule.pdf

We will be starting our first day of school this year on August 8. It does seem a little early but I plan on making several trips this year. The boys are bummed out about the early date but they are looking forward to those breaks throughout the year.

Coming soon…Planner inserts!

This year I created a student planner for each of the boys so that they can keep track of their schedule, work, and grades. Just another little step towards independence. I included a laminated daily schedule and a laminated school day schedule where they can insert tasks with a dry erase marker. Jack really likes this since he tries to stay on task. Josh, not so much.

I am currently preparing to offer planner inserts for students and moms (and dads). These inserts were made for mini binders but I realize that some people prefer regular binders and so I will make both available soon. Here is a sneak peek of what I am creating:

  • goal worksheets
  • menu planner
  • fitness tracker
  • blogger’s planner
  • homeschool planner
  • household chores checklists
  • weekly couponing checklist
  • finance tracker
  • student reading logs
  • grade tracker
  • attendance sheet

It seems like a lot of inserts but some are laminated so that you can use them over and over like the daily/weekly chores list insert. One simply crosses out each chore using a dry erase marker once its been completed. Then simply erase the marks and reuse it for the following day/week.

Stay tune for future posts where I will make these available for you for free. ????

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links that I have provided for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

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Our 6th Grade Curriculum

6th Grade Homeschool Curriculum 2016-2017

Our 6th Grade Curriculum for 2016-2017

6th grade homeschool curriculum pin pic

It amazes me how time flies. The boys are now entering 6th grade: middle school. This homeschool year will be a little different in that the boys are expected to take on a little more independent work. They will have less ‘elementary activities’ such as lap books, and have more writing assignments in the form of reports. I know the boys won’t mind the first two things but the last is going to be difficult to sell since they hate writing, but I have a plan for that. Below is our 6th grade curriculum along with how I am scheduling these subjects so far.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links that I have provided for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

6th Grade Curriculum for Math

math 6th grade curriculumWe have been using Math-U-See for the past three years and it works very well for our family. The boys really enjoy watching the videos and seeing if they can solve a given problem before the answer is given. This year they will be taking on the Zeta level which deals mostly with decimals and percents, but also metric conversions, mean, median, mode, probability, area of a circle, angles, and more. Math is a daily, Monday to Friday subject.

6th Grade Curriculum for Language Arts/Writing

English 6th Grade CurriculumFor our Language Arts and Writing assignments, the boys will be using BJU‘s English 6 Curriculum. We used BJU for third and fourth grade, but last year I decided to try a more Charlotte Mason approach to this subject. Unfortunately, we ended up going back to BJU’s curriculum because Joshua was having trouble with dictation. We did well with BJU in the past so we are sticking with them again. This curriculum is also a daily, Monday to Friday subject.

6th Grade Curriculum for Literature

6th grade curricula literatureOur approach to this curriculum will be a little different this year. Each month we are going to tackle a different form of literature.

For August, we will complete our last ‘Classical Start’ lap book activity for Gulliver’s Travels, by Confessionsofahomeschooler.com. We really enjoyed their literature curriculum.

In September, we will concentrate on the poetry of Robert Louis Stevenson. The twins will read and discuss selected poems from his book, A Child’s Garden of Verses.

For October and part of November, and in April, we will delve into Shakespeare covering the plays “Much Ado About Nothing” and “As You Like It“. In the past, we did one Shakespearean play per year but I am doubling that now mostly because the boys really love it. Every day we read a scene then watch a movie clip for that scene.

In March, we will cover selected short stories by O. Henry. In between these assignments (part of November-March), the boys will be given independent reading time. I selected the Percy Jackson Series by Riordan and Classic Start’s The Man in the Iron Mask. This is also a Monday-Friday assignment.

6th Grade Curriculum for Technology

This year I am introducing the boys to computer science. I scoured the internet trying to find an appropriate curriculum and found Homeschool Programming Inc. They offer both textbooks and online courses. They also provide a curriculum syllabus for each course helping to plan out my whole year. We will be doing the online course called Digital Savvy. Once the course is paid for its access is granted for only one year as their servers cannot hold student records for an indefinite period. After reviewing the syllabus, I decided to make this a daily Monday-Friday course because it offers so many different modules.

I am also considering adding another technology component as an elective. Right now, I am looking into EEME‘s monthly subscription kits that get kids to create various electrical components. The subscription also includes lesson plans. I came upon this after being disappointed with Lego’s kits which are very pricey. I am going to wait a few weeks after we settle into homeschool mode and then work this into our curriculum.

6th Grade Curriculum for Typing

This is a also a new subject for the boys. Seeing that they will be taking a computer course I figured they should start learning to type as well. I chose the Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing Family Edition download from Amazon. This will also be a Monday-Friday course but I will omit it only on days when school runs a little late for the boys.

6th Grade Curriculum for World History/Geography

History 6th grade curriculumThis year we will stick to our newly loved curriculum, Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer, Volume 3, Early Modern Times.The boys will have to write short summaries of famous historical people and events using NotebookingPages.com inventory. We will also use Homeschoolinthewoods.com’s timeline record for placing the figures and events that we touch upon. For a review of these curriculums, see my post: http://www.homeschoolingtwinkies.com/2016/02/01/history-curriculum-reviews/. This is a Monday, Wednesday, and Friday subject.

6th Grade Curriculum for Science

This year I am taking a different approach to our science curriculum. I tried to find a curriculum online instead of trying to create my own using Virginia’s Standards of Learning. Because I love the Charlotte Mason approach to this subject, I went to Sonya Shafer’s site: https://simplycharlottemason.com/ and looked up science books in her very handy guide, the CM book finder. I came upon Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding by Bernard J. Nebel, Phd. After reading the introduction to this book, I was hooked. In fact, I went ahead and purchased the next book as well, Elementary Science Education.

The first book is geared towards K-2 grades but as the author suggests, no matter how thorough a science course is, there may be gaps that are missed. He recommends using his books (there are 3) together as he has created a way to integrate science topics for better understanding. He provides a flow chart for how to teach each topic as well as the pre-requisite topics students need before moving on to the next topic. Once we complete a couple of months of this curriculum, I will provide a review of our progress.

6th Grade Curriculum for U.S. Geography

Scholastic 6th grade curriculumJust as last year, we will use NotebookingPages.com United States state study forms to research various state facts such as the state motto or state symbols. We also accompany this with Confession of Homeschooler’s Road Trip USA curriculum and Highlight’s Which Way, USA subscription. We only have 16 states left and will finish this curriculum in March. This is a Monday, Wednesday, Friday course but I plan on suspending the course for the month of October so that I can add in our U.S. Government before Election Day in November.

6th Grade Curriculum for U.S. Government

Government 6th grade curriculumFor the month of October, I added this curriculum with a focus on presidential elections. This will primarily consist of reading Presidential Elections and Other Cool Facts by Syl Sobel and watching presidential debates as they air on T.V. The boys will write down definitions for certain vocabulary and I may add in activities where the boys can debate each other and create a mock election and ballot box. This will be a Monday, Wednesday, Friday component to replace U.S. Geography for a few weeks.

6th Grade Curriculum for Spanish

I am currently working on creating this curriculum as opposed to buying one. For the past three years, the boys’ Spanish consisted mainly of naming and labeling objects. I believe they are ready for small phrases and sentences. I’ll keep you posted if I am able to create this curriculum or give in and buy a curriculum. This will be a Tuesday/Thursday subject.

6th Grade Curriculum for Health

Health 6th grade curriculumThis year I decided to add this component as the boys are embarking on puberty very soon. I chose Kelli Dunham’s The Boy’s Body Book because it has a strong focus on puberty, hygiene, and safety. I plan on adding this in when our U.S. Geography component is finished in March.

Well, this is it, guys. It seems like a lot but I do spread this out so that the kids can get done before 3pm. I usually allot about 30-45 minutes per subject. If I make any changes to their curriculum I’ll be sure to update them here.

Please note that I added affiliate links to some of the products. I have, in no way, been given any free curriculum and even if I had, my reviews would still be honest. If a product disappoints me then I will say so. Throughout the school year, I will also try to review products so you can see if it is a fit for your family.




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5th Grade Science Homeschool Curriculum

5th grade Science Feature

5th Grade Science Homeschool Curriculum

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How We Implemented 5th Grade Science in Our Home

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links that I have provided for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

For 5th grade science in our homeschool, I do not rely on any particular outside textbook/workbook curriculum. In trying to follow the Charlotte Mason approach, I rely on finding information on our science topics by borrowing books from our local public library. We used this same approach last year and it worked very well for us. The following is how I put together the boys’ 5th grade science curriculum but the approach can be applied to any grade.

In order to find our topics, I, first, go to the Virginia Department of Education’s website and search for their standards of learning (SOLs) for the 5th grade science. I print out both the standards and its accompanying curriculum framework. These documents help break down each topic into smaller manageable units as well as provide the essential knowledge, skills, and processes that students in this grade level should possess and/or demonstrate. For example, SOL 5.2 deals with the topic of sound:

“VA SOL 5.2: The student will investigate and understand how sound is created and transmitted, and how it is used.

Key concepts include

a) compression waves;

b) vibration, compression, wavelength, frequency, amplitude;

c) the ability of different media (solids, liquids, and gases) to transmit sound; and

d) uses and applications of sound waves”

As you can see the standards list the concepts involved with sound such as compression waves, vibration, wavelengths, etc. I then use these concepts as my keyword entries when looking up books in the library’s online catalog.

After gathering as many books as I can find on the topic, I use the curriculum framework to choose the best and most appropriate books to use. When searching for these books, I stick to those found in the juvenile or youth section. I also try to include books that have experiments. After choosing the books I want to use, I also like to search online for supplementary activities and worksheets. You can find lots of ideas on sites like Pinterest and Teacherspayteachers.com. For example, I scored some free printables on plant cells where the boys color coded and labeled parts of the cell.

Now, remember that I use the 5th grade science standards as a guide but I don’t stick to them to the letter. For example, when we covered the phases of matter, the standards addressed solids, liquids, and gas. As the boys and I read our library books, there was one more phase that was not included in the framework, and that was plasma. The boys were fascinated by this 4th phase and I saw no reason why we couldn’t add this to our learning.

Each of the boys has their own science journal. 5th Grade Science Journals

These are divided by the standards’ main topic. For example, the boys learned about sound and light, SOLs 5.2 and 5.3. Both these standards fall under the broader topic of Force, Motion, and Energy. In their journals, the boys keep vocabulary, worksheets, drawings, scientific histories/biographies as well as any data taken during experiments and any results. The examples below include: (from upper left going clockwise) a diagram showing the changing phases of matter with labels, planets sorted by whether they are terrestrial or gas giants, a Venn Diagram comparing and contrasting frogs and butterflies, a unit’s vocabulary with definitions, a small biography of Aristotle and his belief on the orbits of planets and data from a plant experiment we did last year. Note that some of these sheets below come from my membership with NotebookingPages.com.

Another thing I sometimes do as part of their science studies, is to find kits online. Amazon has plenty of these if you have the money in your budget but it really isn’t necessary. For example, I recently purchased a rock science kit as a way to incorporate the classification of different rocks, SOL 5.7. It was $10 and since I have Amazon Prime it shipped free. I am sure we could have went into our backyard and found some rocks to do this (and we still can) but I was afraid we may only find two or three different types of rocks whereas the kit has 15 different types.

Lastly, I also try to incorporate relevant biographies as part of the topic we are covering. For example, we read about Alexander Graham Bell when we covered our sound unit as well as Marie Curie when we finished our unit on atoms and elements. I used lap book activities that I purchased from one of my favorite homeschool sites, ConfessionsofaHomeschooler.com.

Now, I know that some people may question my use of the state’s standards but here is my reasoning: if something should happen to me and my children are put back into the public school system, I can feel confident that they will be at the same level as their peers if not more so. Again, I use the standards and framework as a guide but I supplement their learning with lots of hands-on activities and scientific histories/biographies.

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5th Grade English Homeschool Review

5th grade english Writing

Our 5th Grade English Homeschool Curriculum Review

5th grade english homeschool curriculum pin pic

Welcome to our 5th Grade English Homeschool Curriculum Review. This review covers language arts, spelling, cursive, and writing.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links that I have provided for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

In an attempt to get away from ‘textbooks’, I had decided to use the Charlotte Mason (CM) approach to our 5th Grade English/Language Arts/Writing/Spelling/Cursive requirements this year. Last year, we used BJU Press textbooks for English/Language Arts/Writing and 5th grade english spelling wisdom coverSpelling. So what is the CM approach? To understand this method in detail, I suggest visiting SimplyCharlotteMason.com. Sonya Shafer does a beautiful job of explaining this approach in great detail and provides instructions on how to implement it. I was intrigued and fascinated by CM. I love the idea of using ‘living books’ to educate our children rather than using textbooks. I purchased Spelling Wisdom Book 1 and Using Language Well Book 1 from SimplyCharlotteMason.com. Spelling Wisdom contains 140 excerpts which the students are expected to write as I dictate. By doing this, the students are not only exposed to these wonderful excerpts, but also proper grammar usage, spelling, and language mechanics, all while practicing their cursive.

The boys were excited about this new curriculum for their 5th Grade English component because it eliminated having to do three separate curricula for each of the above requirements. Jack did very well with this curriculum. His copywork was near perfect and his handwriting was improving. Unfortunately, Josh was having a hard time with this method. It didn’t matter how many times he practiced his work, he couldn’t 5th grade english Using Language Well Book Coverproduce a good sample of the excerpts. As the excerpts increased in size, he was becoming more and more frustrated and so was I. I should note that Josh has always had trouble with understanding vowels and their sounds. To him, they all sound alike.

We were three months into this curriculum when I decided that the boys needed to practice writing their own work. I wanted the boys to practice writing a book report or a friendly letter, the types of writing that were not part of this new curriculum. So I added this component to their schedule. I started by giving them a theme to work around and every Friday this assignment was due. To start them off, I had them write a paragraph around a Minecraft theme. They enjoyed doing this.

So now we had two separate components for our 5th grade English to work on every week and again, Josh was not doing well on the copywork component. I decided to end these components and revert back to the previous curriculum that we had used before, BJU Press English 5. What I like about BJU is that it covers the language arts/mechanic component and every other chapter is a writing assignment. I would use 5th grade english BJU Press English 5these writing assignments to cover the cursive and spelling components that I eliminated from their schedule.

Please don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed using the Simply Charlotte curriculum but it just was not for our family. As I said, Jack did well using this curriculum; however, I felt he was not being challenged enough. I wanted him to formulate his own writing. Since switching to BJU Press, both boys have written a compare/contrast essay, a business letter, a couple of poems, and a personal narrative.

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Growing Crystals for Science Homeschool

Growing Crystals Crystal Growing Kit

Growing Crystals for Science Homeschool

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links that I have provided for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

pin pic of crystals

I bought this Crystal Growing Kit by Thames and Kosmos for Josh this past Christmas. After reading through the manual, I decided that both boys could benefit from doing the activities so I added to our science curriculum. Here is a review of this product for growing crystals, a review of what we learned, and pictures of all the different crystals we created.

Growing Crystals Kit

I purchased this kit from Amazon and found it reasonably priced. Before you attempt to start growing crystals, I suggest reading the manual not only for the safety precautions but you may also have to make a few purchases. For example, you will need to have distilled water and several small jars. I thought I could get away with using old spaghetti sauce jars which ended up being too big for many of the experiments. They did suggest smaller jars (like those used for jam) so I would recommend that if you do not have small jars, head to your local Walmart or Target and pick up small canning jars.

Growing Crystals Manual

Also, be aware that growing crystals will take a few days. This means that you will have several jars of ‘chemicals’ around. For safety, make sure that they are stored in a safe and out of reach place if you have very young children.

There are 15 different experiments that teach basic concepts of solubility and saturation. We also performed experiments that involved the evaporation and cooling methods so that we can see the effects of temperature of particular solutions.

Growing Crystals cooking

One of the first experiments, we were able to create a few small crystals which we stored in a clear treasure chest that came with the kit.

Growing Crystals Hand

Growing Crystals chest

In another experiment, we created crystal ‘seeds’ that we could use to grow larger crystals.

Growing Crystals Jar

Below are the larger crystals.

Growing Crystals Jar 2

Growing Crystals Big Crystal

If you look carefully, you can see the hexagonal shapes of these crystals.

Growing Crystals Crystal Collection 2Later, our experiments would include some artful designs. Below are the plaster moldings we created before encrusting them with crystals. (And yes, the molds and plaster come with the kit.)

Growing Crystals Crystal Mold Shapes

Growing Crystals Crystal DolphinOne of the last experiments we did was making an crystal-filled geode. At first, the geode came out in a lavender color, not the dark purple we were expecting. Also, the picture below doesn’t do a good job of showing the crystals but believe me, they are in there.

Growing Crystals Inside Crystal GeodeAfter waiting a day, the geode’s outer shell did finally change into a deep ‘denim’ color which was so cool. You can really see the difference between that lavender and denim color below.

Growing Crystals Crystal Geode Front View

Growing Crystals Crystal Geode Side View

I have to say that this product was fun to do even if it took weeks to perform all the experiments. By the way, we still have so much of the inventory left that we can do all the experiments again, at least 3 more times, making it worth the money spent on it.

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History Curriculum Reviews

history curriculum World Globe

5th Grade History Curriculum Reviews for 2015-2016

5th grade history homeschool curriculum

History Curriculum Reviews for World Geography and History

As promised, our history curriculum reviews for World Geography and World History.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links that I have provided for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer

Volume 1: Ancient Times

We started out the year with volume 1: Ancient Times. This was more of a review because we had covered ancient times the year before. This world history curriculum came with many endorsements from other homeschooling blogs and curriculum review sites. I decided to order the first book in the series to see if it would be a good fit for our homeschool. I have to say that we, the boys and I, really enjoyed it and only wished we had started using it in 4th grade.

What I Liked

The text covered ancient times starting with the rise of several civilizations to the fall of the Roman empire in forty-two manageable chapters.

history curriculum Story of the World volumes

The student activity book provides a ton of various activities. These activities enhance each chapter and challenges the students to a deeper understanding of what life is like during those times. Every chapter has a mapping activity that fulfilled our world geography component of homeschooling. The activity book also contains a ton of hands-on activities such as creating mosaic artwork, costumes, weapons, and sticker booklets, as well as some recipes to try.

There is a teacher’s edition component of the workbook that contains review questions and suggested narration prompts. There are also outside reading suggestions for each chapter if one wants to delve in more deeply into a certain event and/or person. The tests/quizzes compose of fill-in-the-blanks, matching, multiple choice, and true/false formats.

Volume 2: The Middle Ages

We just started this volume three weeks ago and the same review above goes for this volume. The only difference I see is in the tests/quizzes portion. There is an expectation for students to expound a little more information on the last question.

What the Kids Like

For both volumes, the boys like that there are illustrations sprinkled in every few pages. They love when there is a folk tale/lore included in some chapters such as the Story of Gilgamesh, the Jakata Tales or Anansi the Spider stories. The twins also like that the tests/quizzes are simple and not so overwhelming.

Timeline

As part of our history curriculum, I added a timeline requirement. For this portion, I recommend the “Record of Time timeline notebook binder by HomeschoolintheWoods.com. I also suggest buying their History Through the Ages Collection of Historical Timeline Figures CD. The binder is great for children because the pages are made from card stock making them a little tougher to withstand accidental tears. We’ve had them for a year now and so far no rips.

history curriculum

history curriculum Timeline page

The CD contains almost every possible historical figure and event. You simply click on the figure/event that you want, copy, paste and print out. Because we will repeat these historical times later in high school I did not want the boys to glue these figures into their timeline binder. What I did was glue these individual figures/events onto Post-it’s Full Adhesive Notes. Once dried, I re-cut the figure again and then have the boys place them in their timelines. So, if we have to make room for another figure or event, we can simply peel them off and move them over a bit. And if you subscribe to Homeschool in the Wood’s website, you get a new figure/event for free in their monthly newsletter.

Notebooking

For some of the more significant figures and events that we touch upon, I have the boys copy a quick biography or explanation using NotebookingPages.com‘s notebook pages. For now, I have them write bulletin points of a figures’ accomplishments, or the results of a particular event.

history curriculum Notebooking page Socrates
Single-lined notebooking page on Socrates
history curriculum Notebook page example 2
Dotted line notebooking page where boys practiced their handwriting using a Benjamin Franklin quote

As the kids get older I will expect their pages to show a deeper, more researched typed of understanding. Since I have a lifetime membership with notebookingpages.com, I simply visit their site, enter the figure or event and choose from an assortment of pages that are specially lined for specific ages. Some come with images while others have blank boxed areas in case you’d like to choose a photo of your liking or create an illustration of your own.

Crafts/Hands-On Fun

Although the Story of the World provides an array of hands-on activities for each chapter (some of which we do), I also included The Barbarian Book: Warfare by Duct Tape to our history curriculum.

DuctTape history curriculum

The Barbarian Book: Warfare by Duct Tapehistory curriculum

Since we ended the ancient times and began the middle ages learning about the Barbarians, we had fun creating Celtic swords and battle axes out of PVC pipes and duct tape.

 

Not to worry, PVC piping insulation helps keep these weapons from becoming too dangerous to handle. After making a sword, I realized that these ‘weapons’ were too big for the boys so I changed the length for the battle axes making them much easier to handle.

I hope you find these reviews helpful especially when it comes to figuring out which curriculum you’d like to implement in your homeschool. As you can see we a variety of different curricula just for world history/geography. As for scheduling, we do world history/geography three times a week and a lesson can last from 15-30 minutes.

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Learning Strategy-Writing/Subtraction

Learning strategy Number Line

Learning Strategy for Writing and Subtraction

learning strategies pin pic

Today, I want to share a learning strategy that I put together to help Josh with his handwriting and another that I employed in order to help him with subtraction. My hope is that these strategies will help other children whether or not they have autism and/or whether or not they are homeschooled. You will also find these strategies in the form of free printables at the end of this post.

Learning Strategy for Handwriting

When my boys entered second grade (while still attending elementary school), there was a tremendous difference in their handwriting. While still not perfect, Jack had learned to write his name across a straight line and to minimize the size of his lettering. However, Josh was having a hard time with this. It didn’t help that he just hated writing and still does. His lettering was huge and it often drifted far below or above a given line.

Halfway through his semester, Josh’s handwriting was becoming a concern with his resource teacher who informed me that he needed help getting Josh to practice his writing. I began watching Josh as he would write words and tried to get him to make the lettering smaller and to write as straight as he could. We tried tracing letters first which he did well but he was having trouble translating the same letters without the tracing. This was becoming painfully frustrating to the both of us. I just wanted to give up and he was shutting down quickly.

Then I came up with the idea of boxing his letters. I thought what if I get him to print a letter in a box and then gradually shrink the box. I quickly got onto my word processor and began creating grids of varying sizes from large to small. Starting with the largest grid, I had him practice his name as well as complete any writing assignments that were due. I also made copies of these grids to give to his resource teacher. I explained how I was using these grids and he agreed to implement them in class.

It didn’t take long before we saw some improvement. Josh liked the grids and he was able to keep his lettering in the boxes. Over time I got him to write smaller and smaller with each new grid. Eventually, we took him off the grids when he was able to write his words at a reasonable height and on the lines without drifting. Unfortunately, I don’t have any old samples of his work but as you can see from the pic, his handwriting is pretty spot on.

Learning Strategy Handwriting Sample

Now if you want to create these grids, it is quite simple. Using Microsoft Word, just add a table and format the size of each column and row. I have also provided free printables of this learning strategy at the end of the post if you prefer not to create it yourself.

Learning Strategy for Math

Josh also had a hard time when it came to subtracting double digits. He understood subtraction but once he didn’t have enough fingers to begin with, he started getting frustrated. Mind you, we used manipulatives which was a great start but was very time consuming. He had to count his starting amount, then count out what he was removing, and then count out the result. He did this with every problem and so our days were getting long. I tried to wean him off of these, but he would put up a fight. I figured the next best strategy would be a number line. So, again, I got on my word processor and created a number line from 1 to 20. I added small dots above each number so that he could place his finger at the start number and then move and count backwards. This did the trick until he miscounted and crumpled up the number line. Lucky for me I saved the number line, reprinted it and this time I laminated it.

So for the next few weeks, he continued to use the number line and realized what a great help it was on his assignments and tests. It also helped that the now laminated number line was crumple-proof. I never weaned him off the number line. One day I just happen to notice that he was working his subtractions problems without it. In fact, he is quicker than I when it comes to calculating answers to subtraction problems.

Again, this is a simple number line that anyone can make by hand or if you like to get fancy, with a word processor. To save you time, I have also provided a free printable of this number line at the end of the post. Just remember to print it out in the ‘landscape’ orientation.

I hope these strategies help and please note that the writing grids can also be used for children learning how to write their name.

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5th Grade Here We Come!

Welcome to 5th Grade Boys!

So this is it! 5th grade: our last year of “elementary” school. I can’t believe how fast time has passed. As usual the boys are not so thrilled about starting school again. I can’t blame them. I wasn’t so thrilled about the first day of school when I was their age. However, I like to remind them the many benefits of homeschooling:

  • Do not have to get up so early (they get up around 8:30am)
  • No rushing out the door to get to school
  • Wearing pajamas in school (what can possibly beat that)
  • No homework (all work is done in class)
  • Field Trips (unfortunately, the schools in our district have had to cut these because of lack of funding)
  • Get out early (if all work for the day is done, I release them. This varies but for the most part we end at about 2pm.)
  • It is safe to bet that their teacher loves them very much.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links that I have provided for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

This year we have changed our curriculum a bit. You can find our 2015-2016 curriculum posted on July 31, 2015 at: http://www.homeschoolingtwinkies.com/2015/07/31/2015-5th-grade-homeschool-curriculum/ This change has also decreased our school time as well. That is, I have combined spelling, writing, grammar, and cursive into one subject. I also purchased Susan Wise Bauer’s The Story of the World5th grade for history which the boys (and I) like. Stay tuned for curriculum reviews in the coming months.

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