Tuesday, July 14, 2020

5th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices

Updated 7/27/20: Updated to reflect a change in history curriculum.

Why Homeschool?
We have officially made the decision to homeschool Xander this year. He is 9.5 and will be in 5th grade. Anyone who has followed the blog knows we have always done a lot of education at home. He was reading as a toddler, was doing 2nd grade level math at five and always received an allowance for doing academic enrichment rather than chores. While I really felt he needed homeschool in kindergarten, I was a single mother at the time and it just wasn't feasible. When I eventually became a stay at home mom, Xander liked his friends and teachers so much, we left him in school. However, I've always had to work with the school and teachers (and at home) to keep him challenged and growing. Distance learning is just not conducive to that. Teacher have to adapt lessons, deal with students not attending or completing assignments. Our state/district has still not released their plan for the fall (I understand, how can they??), so I'm concerned about them going and then having to distance learn, or only going a few days a week. We are going to homeschool in order to provide academic rigor and consistency. Xander is excited. I am excited. Archer will be happy to have his brother home. We all win.

Curriculum Choices
While we're jumping in in the 5th grade, I feel pretty comfortable with our ability to have a great year. I am a licensed high school teacher, I've done academic enrichment with him his whole life and I've been part of some great accelerated learning groups with other parents teaching their kids at home. That being said, a lot of effort still went into our choices. Here is what we decided on.

Note: Whenever possible I purchased materials used. I also purchased most of the books from the Critical Thinking Company in electronic format so that I can print them as we use them. It will make organizing a lot easier. I will make a lesson planning/organizing post soon to show how I'll go about each week.

  • Visual Reading List - a list we came up with together of books with the aim of representing different genders, races, cultures and time periods. A lot of them are Newbery winners. I will read some of these to discuss with him in depth. Others he will just write a quick synopsis.
  • Reading Log - a place for him to keep track of what he reads and his rating. We decided not to record his re-reads.
  • Vocabulary Riddles - These focus on using context clues to figure out what words mean. He will do only one or two of these a week.

  • Fables, Myths and Fairy Tales from the Institute for Excellence in Writing - Xander LOVES mythology, so it seemed perfect. Plus, I've read nothing but wonderful reviews of IEW. 
  • Editor in Chief - This focuses more on grammar through editing passages. 
  • Word Roots - Xander is a good enough speller that I did not feel we needed a dedicated spelling curriculum. Instead, this focuses on the meaning and spelling of roots, prefixes, and suffixes.
  • If I felt he actually needed more organized curriculum, we did like the All About Spelling (aff link) series when he was younger. I adapted it for him to use when he was way too young to write and stayed with it til he was about 6.
  • Gratitude Journal - Once again, I do not feel we needed a formal curriculum at this age. Instead, Xander will have a notebook where he will answer the prompt "In neat handwriting and complete sentences, describe one thing from yesterday for which you are grateful or that made you happy." The expectation will only be 2-3 sentences.


  • Warm Up - He will have one challenge word problem a day for warm up.
  • Primary Mathematics Standards Edition 5A and 5B - We will use this 4 days a week.I went with the standards edition just to try to stick closer to what the school district will do. I think these are a bit more challenging than what he would get in school, though. We will also go at his pace, rather than the recommended pace. If we finish early, we'll start 6A. If it takes longer, we will go into the summer.
  • Beast Academy (4C) - We have been using Beast Academy as a supplement for about a year. We will use this 1 day a week for enrichment. I love this curriculum, but worry it does not cover the standards well enough for if Xander wants to go back to 6th grade at the public school. It does fewer things, more in depth. Focusing on problem solving.

  • Unit Based Science - As a former science teacher, I have spent hours and hours learning and understanding the Next Generation Science Standards (newer national standards). Therefore, I am writing my own science curriculum based on the 5th grade standards. I'll share it as I complete the units.
  • Nonfiction reading - we will supplement the units with lots of science books, both from the library and home. For instance, I found a series of Max Axiom graphic novels that each focus on a science topic. The Wile E Coyote physics books are also really good. There's also a series of Monster Science books I'm hoping we can check out. Technically they are directly related to this year's units, but the Annabelle and Aiden books are great evolution books.
Iowa Grade 5 Social Studies Inquiries BUNDLE
Social Studies
  • Inquiry Units - Our state has some random and specific standards for social studies, so I'm just going to use these units to cover them. It should be pretty quick and easy, leaving us time for other interests.

secular homeschool history curriculum

    • Blossom and Root: A River of Voices - I decided to switch to this US history curriculum because I like that it is told from varied perspectives. It involves reading a lot of other books focusing on history from Native American, African American, Latino and White viewpoints. I feel like if I only homeschool Xander for one year (I'm leaving it up to him for middle school), this will provide a better world view and grant us better discussions. 
    • I was originally going to use Story of the World Volume 1: Ancient Times.- Xander loves reading about ancient Greece and Rome, so this seemed like a great fit for history. I will keep this text, because I think he will enjoy reading it, but I will not be assigning any readings or activities.


  • Elementary Economics Book Club - Xander asked to do economics, business and government. He's going to reread the Tuttle Twins books and do the discussion questions. He also wants to read a bunch of other nonfiction books about these topics.

Logic and Thinking Skills
  • IXL Spanish
  • Movies and Videos in Spanish
Choice Time
Xander's required school subjects will only take up a couple of hours a day max and I don't want the entire rest of his day to be completely unstructured. Therefore, a portion of his day will be "Choice Time," where he gets to choose what he wants to do from a pretty loose list of educational activities. I've listed some of the options below, but I plan to approve anything reasonable he wants to do.
  • IXL
  • Email friends (in real sentences)
  • Creative writing
  • Learning videos
  • Reading new books or nonfiction (he tends to reread old favorites only if given the choice)
  • Turing Tumble/Snap Circuits
  • Hour of Code
  • Hooda math
  • SolveMe Mobiles
  • Educational websites
  • Educational iPad Apps
  • Art
  • Movies in Spanish
  • Logic Games

  • Piano Lessons - Xander has been taking piano lessons for a few years now, so will continue.

Friday Email

  • We're planning on having Xander write a weekly email to his grandparents, updating them on all the things he has been learning in school and anything else going on. It will be a good way to make sure he stays in communication with them, as well as good practice giving good explanations/summaries (avoiding getting stuck on very specific details) and writing paragraphs.

Xander LOVES to read, so I have no doubt he will spend lots of his choice time (and free time) reading. He reads both fiction and non-fiction, and we're fortunate enough to have collected a lot of non-fiction over the years. Here are some of the books that we've gotten for year, are on our wish list or we've moved to the home school shelf to augment his schooling. (Can you tell he's very interested in brain teasers, politics and math?)

Fun Extras

  • Board Games - I've already written about several of the fun board games we play and their educational value (although we have many more that I just haven't written about). We will incorporate them into our school week to build critical thinking skills.
  • Lap Desk - Xander likes to read and do school work in all sorts of weird places. He is super pumped about the idea of this portable desk.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...