Grade 6 Curriculum for the 2017-2018 school year
I decided to spend a lot more time planning and scheduling this year then I usually do. Next year will be our seventh year homeschooling. I started off as an unschooler, and every year I’ve become more and more structured. I haven’t ever made a specific daily schedule, usually I would only schedule about a week or two at a time. I want to do things differently next year by incorporating a loop schedule prepared for the entire year in advance.
I should preface by explaining what kind of homeschoolers we are. I consider us to be “Eclectic Classical”, so a large component of our curriculum is based on history and a Classical approach to literature. (What is Classical Education?) But we are also Eclectic, in that I borrow bits and pieces from other approaches (primarily Charlotte Mason, Montessori, Waldorf). My son is also gifted in science, so we do a lot of STEM (science, technology, engineering, math). We are registered and do not follow the Provincial curriculum. We are Christians but only use secular science curricula.
So what I’ve done this year is previewed and read through almost everything to assure that it will be a good fit (so many times something that looks good on the surface ends up being a bad fit later on!). I’ve been a follower of “The Well Trained Mind” by Susan Wise Bauer for the last 3 years and I’ve slowly been adding in more and more of her suggestions. She recently came out with a new version of her book and it’s *awesome*! Many of our choices are based on it.
I’m scheduling everything so it fits into approx. 180 school days (with some grace time, since we school year round). We do core subjects daily (basically math and alternating portions of LA), and everything else will go on a loop schedule. I plan to post the loop schedule when it’s finished. I’ve started a post with our daily plan here, and I’ll add the loop schedule as I work on it.
*This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, I’ll receive a small commission. I’ve only included products we actually use or plan on using. All curriculum has been purchased with my own funds, I haven’t received anything for free or with any kind of exterior funding.*
An idea that has intrigued me but we haven’t implemented yet is a morning time basket. We’ve never done morning time. Our mornings can be chaotic. The idea of taking time to start the day all together with some thoughtful and calming books and/or activities sounds appealing to me. I’ve made a note of what parts of our plan I can use for a morning time basket, and so far I’ve come up with this list of ideas. We wouldn’t do all of these every day, maybe just 3 or 4 things – I’m only brainstorming for now.
- Singing “Oh Canada”.
- English from the Roots up flash cards
- Reading poetry out loud
- Reading Aesop’s Fables out loud
- Reading DK Illustrated Children’s Bible
- Reading less well known fairy tales
- Montessori Art History flash cards and games
- Memorizing scripture, poetry, parts of speeches (really want to get back into this!)
- Listening to music/singing
- Doing some geography, science or anatomy colouring books while listening to music.
- Waldorf style drawing notebooks with a science theme
Spelling: All About Spelling (includes dictation). We tried other spelling programs the last couple years but we’ve come back to AAS and are seeing tremendous improvement very quickly. For extra language exposure I might have him do some of the Spelling Workout workbook, I do like the parts where they have to fix spelling and grammar mistakes, and the literature selections for context. It just wasn’t working well as a core curriculum.
Grammar: We didn’t do much grammar last year, so to refresh we are doing Junior Analytical Grammar combined with Montessori Grammar symbols and methods over the summer and early fall. Junior Analytical Grammar is an 11 week course which we’ll be condensing somewhat. We are going to keep going the rest of the year with Voyages in English (2011 version). We haven’t used VIE before but I’ve read quite a bit of it and I think it will be a good fit. The only downside I can see is the price. If it ends up not working out I might try out Susan Wise Bauer’s new middle grades grammar (which is also a lot more affordable). VIE also includes writing assignments but we’ll try to stick with Writing With Skill for those.
Handwriting: Getty-Dubay Italics (use some important quotes, poetry, verses, selections from famous speeches, etc for copywork). We have used Zaner-Bloser the last couple years which is my favourite way to teach manuscript writing to young students, but my son has atrocious writing so I think switching to something like italics might help improve it. Apparently it’s a more natural and fluid way to write, which would help when he has to start taking lots of notes in the future.
Writing: “Writing With Skill” by Susan Wise Bauer. It took me forever to decide on a writing program, but when I previewed WWS I was just blown away by it. For some reason I expected it to be much more difficult and complicated, but I don’t know why. Susan Wise Bauer is known for her stellar products and this is no exception. My son is a struggling writer but I still think this format will be great for him. I also like that it involves some STEM topics and a heavy focus on non-fiction writing. From the advice I’ve read by the author and others, I expect it to take two years to complete the first book.
I had also been considering Bravewriter Arrows, but after buying and reading one I knew for sure we did not want to go that route. I did not like the format (you would have to buy a lot of Arrows year after year to make sense of the program I think, at about $1 per page!) and I think they are way overpriced for what you get. I do own “Writer’s Jungle” as well which is a good “hand holder” if you need it (although again, definitely not worth the price – there is so much free stuff on their website, I’d start there instead). Homeschool Buyers Co-op sells Bravewriter products at a discount.
Creative Writing: “The Creative Writer” by Boris Fishman (though honestly, creative writing is not a priority for us so this may or may not get done). There are also some creative writing assignments in the curriculum we use for literature analysis (Mosdos Press) and history (Oxford University Press) which we might use instead.
Vocabulary: Michael Clay Thompson “Caesar’s English” (start now, but probably continue into Grade 7)
Advanced Phonics: Megawords by EPS, and reading McGuffey’s Eclectic Readers.
Literary Analysis: Mosdos Press Pearl (not every little thing though, cause it’s massive!). The way I will schedule this is that we will probably take 2 days to read the literary selection, and a third day to do some worksheets or writing assignments from the student workbook. Some people take a fourth day to do vocabulary or extra worksheets. I plan to do at least some of the reading out loud together, so this will be time intensive. Since the writing assignments are quite intensive and my son is a reluctant writer, we will probably still use Daybook of Reading and Writing for many of the assignments. The “scrapbook” format is just so much less intimidating to him. That said, the literary selections are too short if that’s all we did… so that’s why we are using Mosdos as the core. We’ll probably do a lot of the literary analysis in Mosdos orally as discussion. The selections in Mosdos are a lot longer. My son is a very good reader and I expect each selection to take around 20-30 minutes. If we read out loud together it will take longer though, so I will probably give us two sequential days for selections we do out loud. The Mosdos reader is jam packed, and the teacher guide comes in not one but two huge volumes so it’s a LOT of material. I’m not sure if we’ll get through all of it, I think we’d have to spend two days max on each selection to do that. But I do plan on scheduling this daily, and it may take us into next summer which is fine.
Reading: Basically the literature and history list from “The Well Trained Mind” by Susan Wise Bauer, and whatever sounded interesting or we haven’t read yet from the Wayfarers Ancients and Middle Ages book list (the books are listed in the free previews btw). Plan to do two novel studies but haven’t decided which ones yet, one of them might be “Island of the Blue Dolphins”.
Math: CLE (Christian Light Education) with some supplemental from Stanford RedBird math online for word problems and projects. CLE is like a workbook version of Saxon math. RedBird math is like an online version of Singapore math. We started using CLE Math about 2.5 years ago and it’s soooo good. Drop everything and check it out. Seriously. It’s been such a life saver for us. Best things about it is that it is written to the student, it’s thorough, challenging without being tear inducing (most of the time lol), and it can be done almost 100% independently.
History: Oxford University Press “The World in Ancient Times” and “The Medieval and Modern World“, all of the books in both series with the student guides and also Human Odyssey by K12 (which is arguably the most readable history book I’ve read so far, and I’ve been reading a lot!). This is a lot – if it takes longer than a year to finish that’s okay – it’s worth it! 🙂 I’ve been reading through this ahead of time and it’s *amazing*. The worksheets in the student guides are short so it’s mainly just a lot of reading. The teachers guide includes short chapter tests and a blackline master worksheet for each chapter (usually some kind of a diagram or mapping work). We’ll add in a few projects and documentaries here and there to round it out. I plan to post our schedule and the documentaries we add in later. We plan to continue this path by studying Oxford University Press “Pages from History” primary documents series for grade 7 and 8 combined with literature and writing.
- CPO Life science with lots of videos and extra reading added. Books are suggested in the teacher’s guide, which is a must-have component (it also includes an answer key and scheduling plans). I buy the student textbook and teacher’s guide secondhand online (Abebooks or Amazon) and then download the worksheets from their website. We usually take 3-6 sessions per chapter. I really appreciate the literature recommendations for each chapter. We’ve found some really cool books this way. We don’t do all of the experiments since they are meant for classroom use and some of them are quite in depth or expensive. Instead we watch a YouTube video on the experiment, and then use Mystery Science and TOPS science for hands-on experiments.
- Mystery Science together with younger sister. We did Mystery Science this past year and the kids loved it.
- TOPS Learning Systems (choose from: corn and beans, electricity, analysis, magnetism, astronomy… these he does independently just for fun). I love that these can be done independently! We have a science table set up just for these “experiments”.
- Some reading selections from Guesthollow Botany
- Various scientist biographies (probably DK Biographies)
- Nature journaling based on “Nature Connection” book. Nature studies are really important to me, I want to make this a priority.
- Universe Sandbox 2.0 and Kerbal Space Program computer game for astronomy
- Dragon Genetics with Geniverse (maybe)
- CNN 10 Student News Videos on iTunes
- Book: “Who Runs this Country Anyways?“
- Create Your Own Country project using “Micronations: Invent Your Own Country“
- “Material World: A Global Family Portrait” by Peter Menzel
- “Hungry Planet” by Peter Menzel
- “Where Children Sleep” by James Mollison
- “A Life Like Mine” Unicef
“Off to Class: Incredible and Unusual Schools Around the World” by Susan Hughes
- “Maps, Charts, Graphs E: Eastern Hemisphere” (one lesson per week)
- ArtK12 Draw Europe
- ArtK12 Draw Canada and Greenland
- Reading selections from Guesthollow Geography Book List
- National Geographic Atlas
- “A Child’s Introduction to the World” (together with younger sister for morning basket)
Also several reading selections from this list.
- Montessori Style Country Boxes or theme weeks (ideas on Pinterest)
- Documentaries and travel shows about different countries
Visual Latin video online subscription with the activities. Haven’t previewed a lot of this yet. From the samples I’ve seen it looks good, but I’ve also heard it can be challenging. Hopefully this curriculum will work out. I’ll keep you posted!
Homemade vocabulary and verb flash cards based on the book “Fluent Forever“
- Memrise App. This is the best language learning resources I’ve come across yet. I’m bilingual and most language learning curriculum I’ve come across seems to be a waste of time to me, this one is an exception. It really works (at least for spoken language).
I want to do a lot of art this year cause it was neglected the past year and both my kids just love art.
- Atelier Art DVD based art teaching program, probably level 4. The kids would do this together.
- “A Child’s History of Painting” curriculum by Calvert School and “A Child’s History of Architecture” curriculum by Calvert School (ongoing, so probably won’t do all of it this year… I’m considering matching up these art lessons to the periods in history we are studying). This curriculum includes history, art cards, and also projects for each chapter.
- Mike Venezia biographies on various famous artists
- Montessori style art history with Child-size Masterpieces cards
Some other options in case some of the above don’t work out, is Scott Forsman art textbooks or Artistic Pursuits. We used Artistic Pursuits this year and it worked quite well but the format was not very organized and that bugged me. It also seemed very repetitive and some of the instructions were unclear. Though I think I may have had an older version, the newer higher level one I’ve previewed looked a whole lot better.
- Telling God’s Story Volume 1 and 2 together with sister during Morning Basket Time. This is probably a little “young” for him, but I think he’ll still enjoy doing it together with his little sister.
- There is also a lot of Biblical history being covered in our history curriculum, a whole month on the ancient Near East which includes things like archaeology and cultural context.
- Scripture memorization during Morning Basket Time, and scripture used as copywork during language arts.
- Daily Devotional “Jesus 365 day devotional” by Zondervan, he does this daily before bed.
- Read through parts of “What the Bible is All About For Kids“
- Watch “What’s in the Bible?” DVDs set – we LOVE these!!
- Read through parts of “Window on the World“, either during Morning Basket Time or during loop schedule.
- Possibly read through “How the Bible Came to Us“
- Read “History Lives” Volume 1 and 2, middle school level church history that covers ancient and middle ages period of church history.
Typing: MAC Typing Tournament
Music Appreciation: Mike Venezia’s composer biography series, listening to various composer’s, The Composer’s Specials DVDs (these are amazing, some of them have won Emmy’s!)
Health and Careers:
- Janice VanCleave’s Food and Nutrition for Every Kid (experiments)
- “Gods Design” series
- Engineering for Every Kid (Janice Van Cleave book)
- Filmmaking/Animation (Pixar in a Box, and maybe some other sources)
- Architecture (resources from Rainbow Resource)
- short reading list on history of health and disease
- biographies for free reading time, from this list
PhysEd: gymnastics and swimming