It is that time of the year where we look back over our school year and see what worked and didn’t work and where we want to make changes for next school year. Below, I share with you how our choices for our 5th grade homeschool curriculum worked so you can make better informed decisions about the curriculum that might work for you. Here were our plans for 5th grade this year.
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5th Grade Homeschool Math
We switched to RightStart Math this year after using it for a year with our youngest and it was the best homeschool decision I made this year! We backed up and started with Level D and then moved on to Level E, which is more aligned with 5th grade, later in the year.
At the beginning of the year, Big Fish was frustrated because he wanted to still use the “guess an answer and then if it wasn’t correct, guess another answer” technique. He had picked up this very bad habit from the computer based curriculum he had done for the past two years.
Once he realized that was not going to work here, he took off with this program. He enjoyed the different hands on activities, puzzles, and games for learning math and discovering math patterns through exploration. And, I could see his number sense really develop. I also think he enjoyed having more 1:1 time with me. This is the one drawback of this program as it does require more direct teaching time than some other math programs. However, there is plenty of independent work involved as well.
The real sign this was our best homeschool decision came when we got his end of year test results back! (We are required by our state to do a standardized test each year.) Big Fish improved TWO grade levels in his math skills in just one year!! We will definitely be continuing this program.
5th Grade Homeschool Spelling
Big Fish has used this curriculum since 1st grade and it has worked great for him. We finished Level 6 this year and are about half way through Level 7, which is the last level. We typically introduce a new lesson on Mondays, which takes about 20 minutes. Then, the next two days, he writes sentences that are dictated to him. The fourth day he has Writing Station, where he picks fun writing prompts and uses words from the lesson to write letters, paragraphs, lists, or stories. Some lessons have challenge words, which we work through together reviewing all of our spelling strategies and developing his vocabulary at the same time as he always likes to know what the words mean.
5th Grade Homeschool Reading
Big Fish reads a ton on his own from a variety of genres. But, I still wanted him to read a few books for school this year. The goals were to make sure his comprehension was on point and to discuss new vocabulary words we found in the books. Another goal was to compare and contrast some books this year. We picked three books that went with part of our history curriculum this year. It took us most of the year to read, discuss, and compare and contrast them. King Arthur was at a much higher reading level than I realized and it took us longer than expected to read it.* Luckily Sword of the Samurai was really short so that balanced it out!
*Tip: You can not always trust the grade level on Amazon and rather should look at the Lexile Measure they provide or look up the reading level on your own!
We decided to finish out the year with Five Little Peppers (which had nothing to do with our history curriculum!). Big Fish is working on summarizing each chapter in a notebook. This is a skill I would like him to develop next year and this has been my way of seeing how skilled he is at this and to start to develop some ways to help him improve.
5th Grade Homeschool Grammar
We have used a structured grammar curriculum since 1st grade, but I decided to do something different this year. One, because grammar has been one of Big Fish’s least favorite subjects. And two, there is a lot of repetition from year to year and I just couldn’t see investing in another book so similar to the year before.
So at the beginning of the year, we started with grammar notebooking sheets that I made. When he completed his reading each day, he would copy a sentence and then identify different items in that sentence such as the subject and predicate, nouns and verbs, etc.
The sheets also had a place where he could write a word he did not understand in the text and then make a guess as to what the word meant. He would then confirm the guess with the dictionary. You can download the sheets for yourself from our post Homeschooling with Grammar Notebooking.
These were definitely the least favorite part of Big Fish’s homeschool week so we discontinued them after the first book and relied on our writing program for our grammar development the rest of the year.
5th Grade Homeschool Writing
After completing Level C of this program in 4th grade, we skipped to Level E this year to make it more challenging. We still have two units left in it, but it has gone well. Big Fish has learned a variety of writing techniques this year including how to write in a variety of genres such as humor, mystery and fables.
Most recently, he has been learning how to write a five paragraph narrative, which has really pushed him. The curriculum is great about teaching a concept and then providing graphic organizers to really help plan each writing project before you begin. This has also been how he developed his grammar skills for most of the year as there are grammar worksheets included with each unit that relate to the writing concept being taught.
5th Grade Homeschool Latin
We continued moving through this program at a slow pace this year and have about 6 lessons left. We are learning together and Big Fish LOVES when he beats me on a test! It is providing a great foundation for vocabulary development and for learning other languages later in his school career. He enjoys the variety of activities: videos, stories, crossword puzzles, chants, and worksheets. This also helped develop his grammar.
5th Grade Homeschool Geography
We targeted geography in a variety of ways this year. Big Fish is naturally drawn to maps and curious to know where places are so he does a lot of learning on his own. Our history curriculum also included map work with each chapter.
We also used an idea Sarah Mackenzie shares in her book, Teaching From Rest. She suggests giving your child a blank map along with a completed map and have her fill in some of the information, such as five countries and one or two bodies of water. Then the next day, give her just the blank map and see how much she can fill in on her own from memory. Once she has done this, you give her the educational map again to fill in anything she missed and add a few more pieces of information. Then, continue in this manner so a child commits a few more pieces of the map to memory each day. This method worked well for Big Fish. I will admit, though, that we only did it for a short time and then it was one of those things that fell off our schedule!
Big Fish also worked through this Map Skills book and enjoyed it. It is listed as Grade 4, but there was plenty of information in here that was good for Big Fish to review. When he finished it, he asked for something more challenging.
So we purchased Mapping the World by Heart. This is a year long curriculum that comes with a variety of blank maps. It starts with lessons about latitude and longitude, contour maps, thematic maps, and more. Then, it has you make maps of your house. Finally, the bulk of the curriculum leads you through completing maps of each country in North America and then each continent in the world. Big Fish has enjoyed it, but I think you need a child that really enjoys geography to dive into it this deeply!
There were a few subjects that we did as a group this year with both boys.
Big Fish loves history and Story of My World! He enjoyed coloring the picture for each chapter while I read aloud and he would have loved to complete a lesson each day. However, we only did 1-2 lessons a week, which spread Volume 2 out over the school year. He usually answered the open ended questions after each section well. I had him answer verbally, but you could easily have children write their responses. He did not like the map work very much because it incorporates following directions into it. However, this is exactly why I love it! This is an area he needs to work on!
We didn’t complete many of the extra craft activities in the book as it was just one more thing to prep and squeeze into a busy schedule. The teacher’s manual does provide fun activities and clear instructions for each chapter if you do like these activities!
We finished our Chemistry curriculum half way through the year. (Don’t be impressed…we had started it the year before!) Big Fish enjoyed it, especially the hands on experiments! The lessons were fairly short and information was presented in a fun way. He did well completing the lab sheets, which contained a variety of fill-in the blank, multiple choice and open ended questions. There were also sections for drawing results. This variety is good for children who do not like to write a lot.
After we finished chemistry, we started R.E.A.L.: Science Odyssey Physics, which is geared toward 3rd-6th grades. Once again, the lessons are short and fun and Big Fish is enjoying the hands on activities! We still have several more units to go in this book and will spend the first part of our summer exploring simple machines!
If you want to learn more about our chemistry lessons from last year, read: Can You Teach Homeschool Chemistry to Your Elementary Aged Children?
Art once again was hit or miss this year. It seems to be the first subject to go when bumps happen during the week. However, in the middle of the school year, Big Fish worked his way through Take Time for Art’s Middle Ages Art Curriculum. He enjoyed this very much! He has become much more independent with their curriculum, watching the videos by himself and then completing the projects. I was able to just give him gentle nudges about how he could better organize himself or take the project to a higher level.
Next year, Big Fish starts middle school!! We will be focusing more on working independently, taking notes, researching topics, writing about them and creating projects throughout middle school. I have almost all of his curriculum purchased for next year and will be sharing it here in the next few weeks.
If you are interested in seeing our curriculum choices from last year and how they worked out, check out:
What curriculum did you use for 5th grade and how did you like it? Comment below!
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