As the school year is wrapping up and my youngest finishes Fifth Grade, I thought it would be nice to look back at what we planned, pulling from a post I wrote last summer for another blog. In a future blog post, I will take a look at what worked, what didn’t, and what got thrown out the window, but first let’s look at where we started.
My guiding homeschool philosophy is definitely classical, and very much rooted in the Well-Trained Mind approach. In fact, each year as I come back to it, it seems to make more and more sense for us. I do not stick to the WTM prescribed plan religiously, as I see it as an ideal guideline and not a check list, but it’s working for both of us.
CCM Co-op: For the 3rd year in a row, we are joining a Classically Catholic Memory co-op. My daughter loves the memory work, and it has become the nexus of our social universe. We are on Delta Year, which covers ecology, plants, and the human body for science, and modern times for history. I will be teaching a pilot pre-Logic class for the middle school children, which is not an official part of the CCM curriculum, just something we are trying out on our own. More on that in a future post.
Religion: Once again, we are going with Seton Religion. My daughter loves it, and the images are beautiful. She is also able to complete it independently. We are supplementing this with a homeschool catechism class that meets once a month at a local parish.
Latin: Sticking with Memoria Press, moving on to Second Form Latin. We both like this series quite a bit, and my daughter has been very successful with it. With the DVDs, she is able to complete this mostly independently. We also buy the CDs and the flash cards, but do not use either regularly (although I am glad to have them when we need them.) We supplement with Lingua Angelica, and will add some Latin copy work to help with the handwriting. We are also adding a little Greek this year, at her request. She wanted to start another language, but I was not ready to go head-long into a new ancient language, so we will just be working through the Greek alphabet with help from Memoria Press once again. It’s a lot of work, but it’s all at her request, so I am encouraging it.
Math: We are sticking with Teaching Textbooks, although she is still a grade-level ahead. I like this because she is able to work independently here, too, and has the choice of either doing the workbook by itself and using the software to “grade” her work, or using the software program as an instructional aide if she needs it. We are supplementing with 15 minutes a day with the XtraMath app on her iPod touch, just to nail those math facts.
English Arts: This is my word for all the mechanical components to English. We have a lot to do here, but I didn’t want to overwhelm her with all the different parts of it. I also like “English Arts” better, to distinguish it from “Language Arts” which I had in public school. “Language Arts” sounds like a study in foreign languages to me. “English Arts” also fit better in the planner I had printed – haha. This umbrella subject includes Spelling with Spelling Power, Vocabulary with Vocabulary from Classical Roots, Grammar with Jr. Analytical Grammar, and Handwriting, and occasionally a writing mechanics lesson from IEW. We are going to cover all of these in 30-45 minutes per day, four days a week. It may not seem like much, but this is an area where she is ahead of grade level, with the exception of Handwriting. We will also be doing a LOT of writing mechanics as a part of History and Science.
History and Literature: This is going to be really interesting this year, as this is going to be the biggest evolution from Grammar to Logic. As well it should be, I think. We are going to stick with Story of the World, Volume 1 Ancient Times as a loose spine, and start the school year with Rome. We started this last year a couple of months in, after discovering a different history spine was just NOT a good fit for us (contact me privately if you want details). We both LOVED it, and spent a LOT of time on Egypt, and a LOT of time on Ancient Greece. Talk about your discovery driven learning. We used the Usborne Encylopedia of World History as a primary research tool, adding a Barnes and Noble bargain history encyclopedia for children, and a LOT of library books. My daughter’s work products were primarily the worksheets from the SOTW Activity Guide as well as hands-on projects, which were cataloged in a History Binder by continent. (I initially purchased the bound Activity Guide, but then re-purchased it as a PDF from the Peace Hill Press website … it was just easier to print the worksheets out as I needed them, than to try to pull them from the workbook). We also kept a time-line poster board that was a lot of fun for us.
This year, we are basically going to continue with this approach, but switch to the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia as the primary research tool, and and as she is ready, she will do more paragraph writing and less worksheets, although we may continue to use the SOTW maps for map work. She is also going to start a timeline notebook for both history and science (and literature), although I think we’ll still pull out the old time-line poster board when we need to do some hands-on work. I have also spent a lot of time finding library books to reserve and pull for each period of history. I am going to talk about my “method” for doing that in a future post.
As far as literature goes, we are also going totally Well-Trained Mind here, as well. I have a list of myths and novels for her to read through that will parallel what we are covering in history. Most of these will be on a Kindle Paperwhite, and I am going to require her to do 30 minutes of “Literature” reading per day, after which she can read whatever she likes in her free time. We started this mid-way through last year, and it’s really working for us. With Kindle FreeTime, I am able to track how much time she reads, and how often she is looking up words, so I can track how she is doing with her reading. I can also setup her profile so she only has access to the “assigned” literature books, and since it is a Paperwhite, there are no games or apps to distract her. I am a little ambivalent about her using an e-Reader at this age, but she is doing plenty of other reading on paper, and there are definitely advantages of her doing her school related reading on the Kindle, so we’re going to continue with it for now.
Science: I am very excited about the new science curriculum we are starting this year. We are switching to Elemental Science Biology for the Logic Stage. Last year, we switched to Noeo Science Biology 2, which I chose because it is well aligned with a classical, Well-Trained Mind approach to science, using the Usborne Science Encyclopedia as a spine. The advantage to just “rolling our own” march through the biology sections of the Usborne spine is that it laid out lessons, week by week, including a number of experiments each week, and it also incorporated some other supplemental books, such as the Usborne Microscope Book and the Usborne Mysteries and Marvels of Nature. What I didn’t like about it was there was no supplemental text to reinforce the key ideas for each lesson, and not a lot of guidance on sketching. Elemental Science is also an excellent classical approach, but adds just a bit of “textbook” instructional text to guide students to and reinforce the key ideas. Elemental Science also cites a number of interesting, but optional, supplemental resources, which are listed on a convenient Amazon store page, so I was able to get the exact right versions of the books, many of which I found for a GREAT price used on Amazon.com. We are going to start with the first section on ecology and taxonomy in August, then skip insects and skip around to stay roughly aligned with the CCM co-op science topics. We will do Science at home twice a week, probably in large blocks of time in the afternoon.
I would love to hear from you! What are some of your favorite curriculum resources for these late-elementary grades?
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