5th Grade Science Homeschool Curriculum
How We Implemented 5th Grade Science in Our Home
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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.
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.