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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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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.

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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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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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