Every year I update what we’re doing for curriculum that year. You can view previous years here: Kindergarten, Senior Kindergarten, First Grade, Second Grade or 2nd Grade, Third Grade, and Fourth Grade. This year we’re starting a Fifth Grade year. So I’m giving you our fifth grade curriculum list.
My fifth grader is advanced for her age, so she actually completed half of my typical fifth grade plans last year as part of her fourth grade year. I had to pull out some extra stuff just to keep her challenged and interested. It’s not a bad problem to have though.
Fifth Grade Curriculum Changes
We’re doing a mix of fourth, fifth and sixth grade level curriculum as part of this fifth grade year. But the beauty of homeschooling is the flexibility! So it’s nice to be able to go at my girl’s pace, and keep up with her, even if she’s already well ahead of her age-peers.
For fifth grade, my goals are to cement spelling skills, and introduce more vocabulary. I also want to start formalizing the writing process, in preparation for essay writing and longer pieces of writing. And we start getting more detailed with grammar, though we don’t diagram sentences. Also, I still do a formal reading program, with a focus on critical reading, looking at reading for information, emotion and the ways authors use words to create pictures or help you form an opinion.
We no longer do penmanship practice, the way we did in younger grades, because by fifth grade, I expect handwriting to be neat and legible. And with the extra writing that’s coming, there’s lots of time to practice still.
Spelling & Grammar
For Spelling and Grammar, I love the Rod & Staff language programs. We are doing the 5th & 6th grade Spelling and Sound program this year. This program combines phonics, spelling rules, and vocabulary along with a bit of the history of the English language. I highly recommend it!
For Grammar, we’re doing Rod & Staff Building English Skills. It focuses on the mechanics of writing – grammar, punctuation, sentence structure – without requiring a ton of copy work or rewriting.
For writing, I’m using a curriculum called Jump into Writing. It’s a step-by-step writing program, that walks students through the basics of putting together writing. It starts with paragraphs, moves through creative writing with stories and poems, and then into more formal writing, such as essays and reports. Exercises are fairly straightforward, without being so open-ended that you get confused about what the student is supposed to do, but without being so restrictive that kids can’t express themselves.
And for reading, we’re doing BJU reading 5, Pages in my Head. This involves a reader, with short stories and selections from longer pieces of writing, and a worktext. Rather than asking children to analyze the text, the workbook guides students through reading for information, for clues and context, and introduces the mechanics of writing from the reader’s perspective. I love how it asks kids to connect the dots to form their own opinions, rather than trying to guide students to a predetermined opinion.
Skills we’re focusing on this year include decimals and place value, measuring area/perimeter/volume, an introduction to geometry, and an introduction to algebra. We’re working on expressions, order of operations, and solving for the unknown.
I’m using Math Mammoth Level 5 and Level 6 this year. Last year, my girl finished all of Level 4, and half of Level 5. I expect we’ll finish Level 5 before Christmas, and start Level 6 in January.
We’re also adding in a “Minute Math” program, where I’m challenging my girl on basic skills. I give her a single worksheet with about 10 basic math related questions on it, and ask her to complete as many as she can in 1 minute. It’s timed, because the goal is to practice her arithmetic. So questions are simple, like multiplication facts, or converting fractions. It’s helping to cement those basic math facts and make learning the more complex concepts easier.
For our fourth grade year, we covered Mesoamerica and Ancient China. We’re finishing up the last project on Ancient China, and then moving on to Ancient Rome, Greece, the Islamic Empire, and early Medieval Europe. We’ve already covered all the other ancient civilizations such as Ancient Egypt in previous years. If we have time, I’d like to go into some detail about pre-contact North American civilizations, but that may have to wait till next year.
We also listened to the podcast from Hardcore History on the Mongols over the summer. It was a fantastic look at a part of Ancient Chinese history few westerners ever really study.
Because our history will be concentrating on the early European history, we’re also going to cover Europe in our geography studies. We’ll be using this worktext from Carson-Dellosa on Europe.
I like these worktexts as they cover not only maps, but other geographical information such as climate, biomes, population, economics and transportation. They are thorough, yet repetitive enough to be independently worked on, with a minimum of help and checking in.
For our science fifth grade curriculum, we’re moving on from ocean animals to land animals. We’ll cover the basics of the other 4 major animal kingdoms – birds, reptiles, amphibians, mammals – along with a bit on classification and biology. We’ll briefly touch on genetics and cellular structure, at the end, as we move into human anatomy for grade six.
Again, I like the lapbooks from Hands of a Child and A Journey Through Learning. We’re also including a visit to a zoo, a dinosaur museum, and some virtual tours of natural history museum exhibits.
French is required for our local public schools, and since it’s one of Canada’s two official languages, we also study French in our homeschool. My daughter will be using FrenchSmart 6 to continue her French studies in vocabulary and grammar, along with La Comprehension de Textes pour Filles, to extend her ability to read French.
This year, I’m hoping to incorporate more French language children’s videos and audiobooks, to help improve comprehension.
We’re continuing art studies with some paper craft books, along with an introduction to watercolors book. I like paper crafts, because they tend to be self-contained with minimal prep, but still cover a wide variety of art techniques. I’ve picked up a few paper craft books from book stores and thrift stores along the way.
My daughter is now studying voice and violin with a local music studio, so we’re not going to be doing anything extra. Her practice and theory through her lessons is more than enough to cover music education.
Since we are a Christian homeschooling family, I do cover a Bible curriculum. We’ve gone through the stories of our faith in detail, so now we’re working on the theology and the reasons behind why we believe what we believe. We’ll talk about the history of the Bible, the main beliefs of our faith, and how they are traditionally expressed by Christians around the world. And we’ll start a little bit of Church history this year, but only briefly. I’ll cover Church history in more detail in year 6 and 7, as we cover medieval and modern Europe, and the explorers.
List of books and reviews:
Here’s a brief list of our fifth grade curriculum, linked to where you can find more detail about these books.