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WUHS Top Picks for Fifth and Sixth Grades

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I’ve really enjoyed this Top Picks series. It’s been fun to share what my favorites have been and I enjoy hearing the feedback on your top curriculum choices.  You can see the previous Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers’ Top Picks for Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade, and 3rd and 4th grade.

Today, I’ll be sharing my top picks for 5th and 6th grades.  Really, there aren’t a lot of changes this week because so many of my favorites just move into higher levels.  But, for what it’s worth…

Math.  My top picks are still Horizons and Teaching Textbooks.  Up until Pre-Algebra, Teaching Textbooks does the grading for you, plus you’ve still got the video teaching lessons.  This makes it really great for fifth and sixth graders who are most likely ready to begin working mostly independently, if they’re not already.

Grammar.  Again, hands-down my picks for grammar are Easy Grammar with Daily Grams.  I can’t say enough good things about them.  The cyclical teaching format, along with continually building more complex concepts on previously learned concepts makes this duo my top choice for grammar from elementary through high school.

Writing. During the upcoming year, we’ll be using WordSmith Apprentice.  Now, I’ll be completely honest and tell you that I’m making this a sight-unseen pick based on the fact that we’ve used and enjoyed WordSmith.  I expect this to be a gentle introduction to the art of creative writing.

Reading.  By this point, reading instruction should (hopefully) be over and kids should be reading for information and, we hope, pleasure.  I try to tie reading into our other studies, with my favorite being historical fiction.  This would also be a prime time to explore great books.  Period.  Those books that you remember from childhood or the award-winners are great places to start.  Some that come to mind for me are:  The Black Stallion series, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Where the Red Fern Grows, and Little House on the Prairie…and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  What are some of your personal favorites?

Spelling.  You know, by now, that I love All About Spelling.  Currently, this curriculum only goes up through Level 6, which doesn’t necessarily correspond with grade level.  If you’re using AAS and your child is still working his or her way through the levels, this would still be my top choice.

If you’ve got an older child who struggles with spelling, we’ve had great success with Apples: Daily Spelling Drills.  Apples is designed for older students who are struggling with spelling and it does a great job of breaking down the spelling and phonics rules for older students (middle to high school age).  It is decidedly Christian, so if you’re looking for a secular spelling program, this would not be for you.  If you are Christian, you may run into some issues with Bible translation differences for some fill-in-the-blank spelling practice.  We had this issue — a lot of times the word that the workbook was going for was not the word used in our translation.  This wasn’t a big issue, but it did come up from time to time.

History.  I really like Pandia Press History Odyssey for kids who have completed the four year Story of the World cycle.  Pandia Press History Odyssey combines great, hands-on learning with fantastic literature.  Based on what I’ve seen so far, unless you have a really strong reader, I would stick with Level 1 through middle school.  Brianna is finding the Level 2 reading very challenging.  If you take a look at History Odyssey, be sure to read the book lists for each level to find the right fit for your child.

Science.  We’ve long been fans of the Christian Kids Explore science series.  Fifth and sixth grades would be a great time to take your child through the Chemistry and Physics books in the series.  This year we’re also going to be taking a look at two other science options that look promising: R.E.A.L. Science, by Pandia Press, and A Reason for Science from the same people who brought you A Reason for Handwriting and A Reason for Spelling.

Just a note, R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey is a secular science curriculum.  From what I’ve been told, evolutionary topics are not really addressed in the younger levels.  We don’t have a problem using those references to talk about our beliefs and what other people believe, but I did want to make you aware of that fact so that you can make the best decision for your family.

My Bible Study, handwriting, fine arts and nature study choices haven’t changed from those I suggested for third and fourth grades, so I’m going to be lazy and not type those out again.  😉  (Hey, it’s late and I’m a very slow typist.)

What favorite choices would you add for fifth and sixth grades?

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This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday.

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Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.

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  1. Did you find that you had to supplement the Christian Kids Explore series? I was wondering if it might be too young for my boys (soon to be 9yo and 11yo).

    I've already bought everything for next year except for science. I think I'm going to check out the Easy Grammar next year.

    Thanks for all the great recs, Kris!

  2. Yes, I've found it necessary to supplement the Christian Kids Exlpore series, but not heavily. Books and videos from the library were usually sufficient, though sometimes I have also supplemented the activities with some of my own or those I've found on the Internet. For me, Christian Kids Explore is not a complete, stand-alone science resource, but it makes a great spine.

    I don't think you'll find it too young for your boys. I've beefed it up for my oldest (14) for the last few years and it's still be suitable.

    Hope that helps! And, I hope you enjoy Easy Grammar as much as we do. If it tells you anything about, all three of my kids enjoy it. Yes, my kid enjoy grammar. You don't get a much better recommendation for a grammar program than that! 😉

  3. Great recommendations Kris! I was very impressed by the Pandia Chemistry program. We've been very faithful to Singapore Math. My kids have really liked Apologia Science books.

  4. We enjoyed using BiblioPlan for our history, It has suggested readings for all age/grade levels all the way up to high school right in the plan so there is no need to buy different levels. This works well for us since my daughter is a struggling reader we some times pass over the harder books and read something more appropriate for her.

  5. i'm using wordsmith apprentice this year with my 11-y/o and have previously used it with 2 other kids. we've never actually FINISHED the book, as i alternate it with other types of writing (history- & science-based, book logs, journal, etc). you are right that it is "gentle". it's more fun than it is meaty, which is great for a beginning writer. (fuzz doesn't really fit that category, but since i supplement as noted above, it works fine for her.) the fact that it's self-directed and written to the student rather than the teacher has been beneficial in different ways for my kids: with my girls, it provided a light-but-structured writing program with assignments that i didn't have to create, thus enabling me to give more attention to younger or older children. for spaz, my kid who struggles with focus and self-management, it was a great means of transitioning into independent work.

    i agree w/you about christian kids explore, though i can speak only for the biology, since that's all i've used. i do find that book in particular to be a bit young for my 11-y/o. i have supplemented and expanded quite a bit. however, it's been a good "base," and really, that's usually all i need. i'm undecided about science next year but would consider another cke book, since some are said to be geared just a little older.

  6. If my soon to be 5th grader has never used Easy Grammar would you still consider Easy Grammar?

  7. Yes, absolutely. It's a very cyclical teaching style, so it just goes over the same concepts each year, just in greater detail. For example, in the 3rd grade book, the kids learn 28 prepositions and in the 4th grade books it…okay, I don't remember the exact number, but it's the 28 learned previously, plus a few more. And I may be off on the numbers for 3rd grade, but you get the idea.

    It might require a bit more explaining than it would for a child who's used it all along, but I'd guess not much. My dd started it in 4th grade, I think, and didn't have any problems with it.

  8. I do themed study units: For example while reading Little House on the prairie series to my 10 y.o BOY.. We learned how to cut a tree down with an axe, how to cook over an open fire/use of stove. Sewing 101 and other "fun" studies. While I am open to work-books both my son and I dread work book related activities. I am looking forward to Life with Fred starting this next year and the Apples series you mentioned.. 🙂 We read Tuck Everlasting, The Cay, Robinson Crusoe, Tom Sawyer, 3 Little house on the prairie books, and several other books that took us to far away places.. 🙂 I love, Love your blog!

  9. We are looking into Teaching Textbooks for our (next year to be) 6th and 7th graders. Been doing online sample and placement tests. I've heard of many who really like this Math program.

    That Wordsmith sounds really neat!

    We love Rod and Staff English, Tapestry of Grace and Spelling Workout 🙂

  10. This was the perfect post for me as our oldest daughter will be in 6th grade in the fall. I've been looking over different curriculum to see which ones might work best for her. I'm excited to do some more research on your picks!

  11. So which do you like better, History Odyssey or Trail Guide to Learning?  I am trying to decide between the two for my 6th grader next year.   I have not used either; I've just looked at them online.

  12. It really depends on what you're looking for. History Odyssey is just history. It's literature-based, which I like. Trail Guide is an all-inclusive history-based program that covers everything except math. It is literature-based, too. We have enjoyed both. For me, right now, I like the all-inclusiveness of Trail Guide, but I don't think someone who is looking for just history would enjoy it because all the other subjects are so enmeshed.You could probably pull out just the history, but I think you'd feel like you were wasting a lot of the program.

    Hope that helps.

    **Just as a note: I wrote this Top Picks series before we'd even heard of Trail Guide to Learning.

  13.  Thanks.  We are using Sonlight this year, but it just doesn't seem like there is enough thought provoking work. I have printed out several lessons of both.  Maybe I  can figure it out before time to buy.

  14. Questions… Oh boy do I have questions…  We are beginning our HS journey this fall. I will have a 4th and 5th grader when we begin.  Having not done HS, where/how would you suggest I jump into curriculum choices?  Should I just forge ahead and figure out where the gaps are?  Should I stick with what they are currently using at their charter school? (i.e. Saxon Math, Horizons Reading, etc.)  Overwhelmed by all the choices…  This newbies head is spinning. 

  15. Janelle,

    Most curriculum vendors offer placement tests on their websites. That should give you some idea of where to start your kids. Whether or not you choose to stick with what they're currently using really depends on whether those resources are working for your kids or not. The first year we homeschooled, we continued using Saxon math, which was what my daughter's school was using, just in case we decided to return her to public school the following year. We chose to continue homeschooling and switched her math curriculum after that first year because Saxon wasn't a good fit for her.

    I know it can all be overwhelming. There are just so many choices. Just remember that you don't have to have it all figured out immediately. This is going to be an adjustment for all of you. Allow yourself some room for trial and error without beating yourself up.

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