We have jumped into 5th grade here at our little homeschool! We are a few weeks in and things are going great. I often get asked about curriculum - it can often seem like the curriculum defines your homeschool, but it really is the other way around. Curriculum is just that - a tool to use to teach your children. Over the years one of the best things I have learned as a homeschool mom is that I am in charge of the curriculum, it is not in charge of me. As you look through all the great things we are using, remember we don't necessarily do every single page in every single book. I believe offering a great feast of learning before a student can be rich and fulfilling, as long as we don't let it become overwhelming. Boo is an eager and independent learner, so it's important that I stay a step ahead of her in what I have to offer. I always love sharing with my blog readers all the fun things we have planned for this year! Enjoy!
This year, as part of Timberdoodle's Blog team, we have been able to incorporate so much more fun, hands-on, kinesthetic type of learning to our more tried and true classical and Charlotte Mason inspired learning. This post summarizes our core curriculum - be sure and click the link at the bottom to see all the great supplemental Timberdoodle products we are reviewing this year as well. Here is what we are using this year!
Veritas Press History Self Paced - Explorers to 1815 - This is a tried and true portion of our curriculum that we have done from the beginning. This is probably our anchor for our entire curriculum. Boo begins her day with this self-paced on line program from Veritas Press. She memorizes an entire era of history of important dates and events in chronological order through an engaging song. Using the classical approach of studying history chronologically at different levels through the grammar, logic and rhetoric stage, she is in her next to last year before we begin the cycle again at the logic state. We are beginning American History this year and it's always a favorite for our family! We live in such a great spot for American History field trips being so close to Philadelphia, DC, Gettysburg and more! The program is completely independent (though I learn so much just listening in), it uses a talking historical character, interactive teaching, engaging video and fun games. It teaches a Christian worldview of how God has worked throughout history. Along with a long list of history readers included in this program, our literature will also be largely inspired by the study of American History. Each of these cards represents a week worth of study.
Writing and Rhetoric 3 and 4 - This is our second year using this program and I can't say enough about it! Both my older girls went through Institute for Excellence in Writing and they are certainly strong writers now - however, that program can be very labor intensive for a homeschool mom. Writing and Rhetoric from Classical Academic Press takes all the hard prep work out for mom, but still teaches excellent writing in a natural way that is basically open and go. It uses clips of excellent literature as examples, uses Charlotte Mason methods such as dictation and narration, while encouraging and teaching excellent methods of writing using a clear model before them. I have found not only is this method extremely effective but also allows for much more creativity than her big sisters had in their writing programs. It is very much like an apprenticeship program in which a student is learning from a master teacher, using great stories and great writers from history. Effective communication and proper rhetoric are an added bonus!
Shurley English/Grammar 6 - This is one of our tried and true curriculums that we have done from the very beginning. It's one of those products that you either love or hate. It clicks really well with some kids and really NOT well with others. It is perfect for Boo and she just loves to do grammar every day. It uses lots of fun jingles and chants to help memorize parts of speech, proper usage, vocabulary, capitalization and punctuation. It uses a question and answer flow highly structured program to basically diagram a sentence. This program has made Boo a grammar FOOL! She can diagram a sentence so fast and accurately it boggles my mind. Sometimes I have her do it simply for my own entertainment. Haha!! Proper grammar is so important for good writing - something that I never learned as a kid - but I'm learning it now as a homeschool momma (no judging my use of grammar here - I know it's horrid). We were advised to skip Shurley 5 as it is mostly review of Shurley 4, so we went straight to level 6 this year and so far it seems to be the perfect fit to make slow but steady progress in the subject of grammar. We tend to skip over the composition portions in this book since we prefer the writing program mentioned above.
Teaching Textbooks 6 - Can I just say that Teaching Textbooks is my new best friend? Math has always been Boo's least favorite subject. I was the same way as a kid. I could just never quite make math click for me. Boo seems to have inherited the math section of my brain - I offer her my deepest condolences. After suffering through Saxon math in third grade, we tried Horizons math in fourth grade. It was much better but still we had plenty of days of tears and frustration - from Boo AND mom. This year, we have taken mom out of the equation (haha - see what I did there?) and math is now so much more pleasant - well, for me at least. It is a very independent math program, plus quite a bit more multi-sensory in it's approach. I feel like Boo still has very strong math instruction, even if she still doesn't enjoy it too much. She does enjoy doing her math on the computer and has better options for learning if she doesn't understand a concept. Math is just one of those things you have to just buckle down and tackle no matter what. Teaching Textbooks makes it much less likely that Boo and I tackle EACH OTHER now. HA!
Spelling You See - level F - The jury is still out on this one for us. Boo has always enjoyed a traditional list of words each week and using different methods to explore the words throughout the week. I love how it is multi-sensory and she enjoys using different colored highlighters as she learns through visual memory rather than rote memory. It also uses Charlotte Mason methods of dictation which is a bonus for us. It uses real words within their context instead of just a list of words which seems like a much more natural approach. Boo seems to think it's a bit too repetitive and "busy-work-ish". We will try it for a few months more to see if I see some good results, but we may go back to the traditional spelling word lists also.
5th Grade Literature Books:
Lad: A Dog, Old Yeller, Anne of Green Gables, Little Britches, Plain Girl, The Family Under the Bridge, Where the Red Fern Grows, Calico Bush, A Long Walk to Water, Heidi, Robinson Crusoe, Pollyanna, Buried in the Snow, Sarah, Plain and Tall, Skylark , Ms. Bixby's Last Day - In this picture you also see several of her history readers that are part of the Veritas Press History program.
Artistic Pursuits Book Two - These are great books that can be used very independently or together with mom. It's a systematic approach, but Boo doesn't get excited about art, which always surprises me. In addition to this curriculum, we have lots of other art kits and supplies that we get to experiment with throughout the year, as well as doing plenty of art appreciation, and studying great works of art and artists in our Morning Basket Time.
Horizons Health - We are doing health this year mainly because it is required by our state for our homeschool review. It's a great program with a Christian worldview. I have other books that I use along with this to supplement the subject.
Building Thinking Skills - This is a super book that gives small daily doses of critical thinking skills. Boo doesn't love this book, she thinks it is hard and boring. However, mom sees the benefit in the daily practice of it so it's something I continue to keep in circulation within our curriculum.
The Geography Drawing Series - USA - This is a really fun Timberdoodle product that we are using for the first time this year to go along with our American history studies. Boo is learning all the state facts and how to draw each state with daily practice. At the end of the program she should be able to draw the USA from memory! I can't wait to see if this will really work! We have SOO many other geography tools to help us learn this year - be sure and click the link to the Timberdoodle post at the bottom of this page.
Latin Alive Book 1 - This is our third year in Latin and I am so THRILLED that I get to source this one out. We have an excellent Latin teacher from our local classical school that teaches this subject. Both of Boo's big sisters were seven year Latin scholars and I believe the study of Latin is almost crucial to the study of the English language, not to mention any other language they choose to study in the future. We have gone through the Latin for Children program and now we are beginning Latin Alive which I believe is a middle school program. Boo just loves heading to our local library where they meet for Latin class each week. She gets to use her backpack - which lemme tell ya is a BIG DEAL when you are a homeschooler and a fifth grader.
So - that's a basic overview of our main curriculum. We also have our Morning Basket time which looks basically the same this year as last year with a few different books thrown in. Morning Basket is the other anchor to our day. I feel like if nothing else gets accomplished during our day, if we have covered morning basket time then the most important things have been covered.
What is REALLY different for us this year however, is the addition of almost an entire Timberdoodle Custom Curriculum Kit for our STEM learning, robotics, HTML coding and all of our hands-on "crazy smart" homeschooling. A few things listed above were from our custom kit, but to see our full review and all the fun products included in our kit.