Our first attempt at a plan to homeschool 5th grade

I made this.  It’s hard to see but I can’t get wordpress to allow anything bigger.  Sorry!

Weekly home schooling schedule (described in more detail in the text below).

As always, all Amazon links are affiliate links.

DC1 did 5th grade in a different state so we don’t have anything leftover from hir experiences that would translate here.  Some subjects we’re fine with following the state standards.  Some subjects we really need to know what is being taught this semester compared to next semester when presumably DC2 will be vaccinated and back in school.  And some subjects I am just fine throwing away whatever garbage is being required by an evil state legislature that cares more about propaganda than educating or protecting.

While DC1 did not do 5th grade here, zie did do 6th grade and it was a total waste of a year with the exception of math and orchestra.

So here’s what we’re planning:

PE:  On M/W/F, DC2 will join DH in the morning for calisthenics.  On Saturday and Sunday we will do something outside in the neighborhood (ex. bike riding, basketball, scootering, roller skating, tennis, etc.  Probably not swimming because there’s more risk there given our neighborhood.)  T/Th are free choices for DC2– 15 min of exercycling, ringfit, YouTube videos, whatever.

Music:  As always, DC2 has 15 min of piano practicing every day and a 30 min less on Thursdays.  New this year is the violin.  DH and I were both brass players so we have no idea what to do here and you can’t really teach the first semester of violin virtually.  Fortunately, DC1 has gotten really good at violin (including tuning!) and remembers learning it and is on board with helping us out.  DC2 got the violin a few days ago and they are ADORABLE.  So far they’ve just been practicing how to hold a bow and hold the violin.  DC1 told me I needed to order fingering tape, so I have done that but it hasn’t gotten here yet.  We’ve also still got Suzuki book 1 and DC2 has been listening to the cd that came with it (DC1 runs away or starts practicing piano or hir own violin which this happens as zie is thoroughly sick of twinkle twinkle little star and all its iterations.) These lessons are for 15 min a day, which isn’t very long and even so I’m concerned about them fitting into DC1’s schedule once school heats up.  But in the worst case scenario, DC1 played trumpet in 5th grade switching to violin in 6th and started placing at regionals in high school so all is not lost.

Math:  This one is easiest for us.  DC2 is in 6th grade math.  Zie is going to continue working through Singapore Math (Not affiliate) and Brainquest Math.  In addition zie will work through Khan academy 6th grade math.  We’re not sure if we should do Khan academy by time or by topic, but we’re trying by time first.  I’m not worried about losing number sense from missing some of the new new math because the new Brainquest has some of that and Singapore math has some of it, and zie has gone through Hard Math for Elementary School at least once and will probably be doing virtual Math Circle this year.

Spanish is a hard one.  DC2 is in dual language and in theory half of hir classes would be in Spanish.  My Spanish is just not good enough to support that.  Based on a commenter’s recommendation, we’ve hired a tutor from Overcome the Barrier (not affiliate), which is ridiculously inexpensive.  The first few lessons have been great but also pretty remedial and the teacher uses too much English (saying, “What color is” instead of “Que color es” for example), but DC2 had some embarrassing summer slide this summer and forgot some pretty standard words (though zie still understands them) so perhaps understandable on the teacher’s part.  (DH says we should wait and see before addressing it with the teacher.)  We figure even if nothing else, this will add someone else to talk to besides us.  DC2 has been doing 15 min of duolinguo all summer, but that’s obviously not been enough.  So M/W/F zie is going to watch a video of hir choice in Spanish (this could be anything from Harry Potter dubbed to Pocoyo), and on T/Th zie will spend 30 min reading books in Spanish.  I have started hir with little kids’ picture books, but the hope is to graduate to chapter books (of which we have many interesting looking ones!)  We also have an unused 3rd grade biology textbook in Spanish along with solutions that zie will do (but that’s listed under Science).

Science:  We’re going to completely ignore what the state is doing and just watch a Sci Show or Crash Course Science video each day, starting with earth science.  On M/W/F when zie is not reading Spanish books for Spanish, zie will do a section of the science textbook and answer questions at the end of it.  Weekends we will try to do experiments.  We still have a few leftover from a virtual summer camp on weather that got cancelled that should be fun!  (We already did a couple that were, but needed to get hairspray and alka-seltzer and freeze ice cubes to do the remaining experiments.)

Social Studies:  Other than acknowledging that this is a US history year rather than a state history year, we are going to throw out whatever the school/state is doing and just watch Crash Course US History.  After that Crash Course US Black History.  Then if we’re still going, Lies my Teacher Told me (which DC1 told DC2 was very interesting, but DC2 tried to read it and said it was sooo boring, which suggests to me that it’s still too advanced for DC2… maybe we should get the younger kids’ version…).  We may also supplement with historical novels sort of as a History/English crossover (lots of Jean Fritz and Mildred Taylor out there… though I find Jean Fritz too “from the perspective of the plucky White boy” so maybe not her).  But that’s going to depend on English.

ELA:  I have no idea what this class is going to cover when.  We emailed the ELA teacher to ask, and she said she’d get back to us but hasn’t yet.  My sister also asked one of her friends who is taking the year off from teaching because she has a newborn and doesn’t want to be exposed to covid, but we haven’t heard back from her yet either.  So… we have Brainquest and DC2’s Spectrum Spelling (6th grade) workbooks.  The spelling workbook is almost done, and I am planning to replace it with a workbook of Latin and Greek roots when it’s finished.  In the mean time, I stole a list of 5th grade novels off a random California teacher’s website and we’re starting with From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, for which I have stolen another random teacher’s questions.  It is shocking to me, but DC2 has never had to read a novel for school before, much less one with comprehension and discussion questions.  DC1 didn’t do that in 6th grade either– all they did was crafts.  DC2 is going to read and fill out questions for 2 chapters a day, and then after work, DH (who is reading the book perhaps for the first time, which also seems crazy to me) will do a little book club discussion with her (questions for which I found online) each day.  This will be very much like my 4th-8th grade ELA experiences back in the day.  In theory, next week the book of children’s poetry I ordered will be here and I plan to have DC2 practice cursive by copying one of the poems nicely and then we’ll have some discussion questions for whatever poem it is.  By then I’m hoping that we’ll have heard back from the 5th grade English teacher to get more direction.  If we hear back affirmatively from my sister’s friend we will just dump all of this on her.

We have a few more rules that we’re hoping will help everybody get work done:

  1.  Hold questions and do not interrupt a parent to ask.
  2.  Mom will stop by to check on you every couple hours when she needs a break, ask her questions then.
  3.  Dad will have a dedicated time to meet with you after his lunch meeting every day and at the end of his work day.
  4.  If you’re stuck, try to figure out how to get unstuck (Google is your friend!) or move on to the next task.
  5.  If you run out of tasks and are still stuck on something, try to figure out how to get unstuck or do more Khan academy or more Duolinguo
  6.  After you’re done with everything you can have free time to read or play or whatever (no screens unless they’re Spanish language only), but if you’re stuck on something you cannot move to free time until you get unstuck.  See 5.

We’re open to suggestions!  Especially for getting DC2 to have virtual human interaction.


28 Responses to “Our first attempt at a plan to homeschool 5th grade”

  1. Jen Says:

    I love the idea of passing some of the history and science over to a video. When we did homeschooling last year, I wish we would’ve done more of that (less boredom for the girls and a bit more time for us). For the Overcoming the Barrier, we have had to tell the teacher to only speak in spanish and it went much better. Like you, we have found it to be a good place to hear someone else speak spanish and have a conversation rather than it acting as a supplement to a formal curriculum. There is a wide variation in quality between instructors so don’t be afraid to switch. We did not realize how lucky we had gotten with our first teacher until she found another job…..it’s been hit and miss since then.

    Are you using primary or dimensions singapore math? We supplement with primary but now I’m reading that dimensions is probably the way to go? Also, THANK YOU for introducing us to singapore math (you mentioned it a few years ago in your weekend workbook regime). We started it last year and it has completely changed my kids math trajectory. My fifth grader is halfway through 5b and is sailing through her math class at school, which is known for its rigor. My first grader is finishing up 2b and it’s becoming a problem because she is bored to tears doing the math at school. A good problem to have.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Primary because dimensions didn’t exist when DC1 went through and we own all the textbooks for it!

      I’m so glad it’s working for you guys and your kids are loving math! That’s the best! DC2 is almost done with 5b as well— just started volumes. :)

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Also: DC2 is currently loving the Green brothers on history. But I think we’re going to have to add some geography worksheets or something because I was able to briefly get onto some of the teachers webpages (the parent account hadn’t been shut off even though the student one was never creative) and the first unit seems to be “geography that affected westward expansion” which I assume means knowing where the mountain ranges and rivers are?

      Thank you for the suggestions on OtB!

  2. Mary Says:

    For online Spanish, I highly recommend anything taught by Jarrett MacDowell from Outschool (link below). My DC took several small group Spanish classes with him and really enjoyed them. Jarrett also teaches online Spanish Minecraft classes which my DC didn’t take because they aren’t interested in Minecraft, but which your DC2 might like. Most of the classes are listed for age 10 and up, but I’m sure Jarrett would be willing to let a mature 8 or 9-year-old enroll. (I don’t remember how old Your DC2 is)


  3. Noemi Says:

    For Spanish she can work through herself I highly recommend a site called Señor Wooly (www.senorwooly.com). They have a ton of music videos in Spanish but also four graphic novels that can be read aloud (and placed at different levels where the actual text + audio changes, it’s very cool). Then there are all these activities for each song and each set of pages in each graphic novel. Every year I ask my Spanish students what they like the best and what feels most effective and they ALWAYS say Señor Wooly for both. Even if you had to get a teacher account to set her up and track her progress it wouldn’t be very much (under $100 I think). At very least she would be really into it I think. The songs are silly but super engaging and the activities are really well done.

    • Noemi Says:

      Sorry about pronouns. I read “zie” and “hir” and hear (in my head) “she” and “her”. Feel free to change them in my comment.

  4. Steph Says:

    I use crash course astronomy as a supplement for my intro classes. If ze ends up watching those during homeschool, I’m happy to answer questions for hir or do some brief virtual chats. I can also try to help you find other astro resources to try.

    You may also be interested in the Zooniverse
    There are all sorts of citizen science (and other disciplines) projects that need humans to analyze data because computers aren’t good at pattern recognition yet. The “Climate” section has some projects that may be relevant for Earth Science, and I know the Space section has a bunch of quality projects, including Galaxy Zoo (the original project that launched the site).

  5. Alice Says:

    This is not at all a helpful comment, but I just had to say that I’m horrified by: “It is shocking to me, but DC2 has never had to read a novel for school before, much less one with comprehension and discussion questions. DC1 didn’t do that in 6th grade either– all they did was crafts.”

    I know for sure that we read and discussed A Wrinkle in Time in Grade 5, because I remember being really engaged with it. It kicked off a L’Engle phase. I think my earliest chapter book assignment was in Grade 2, where we had to do a diorama and a write-up on a book of our choosing. We did those pretty routinely over the next few years– I think my 3rd grade teacher required one every month (with guidance in place on what kinds of books counted, after one boy tried to get away with doing his on a board book).

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Yeah, we’re also from the diorama generation! In 4th grade it got expanded to *any* kind of project, not just a diorama, so in 4th grade I made a board game of the Westing Game and in 8th grade I baked an edible Grendal’s mother’s arm (hahaha, we read beowulf which my kids will never ever see unless I force it on them or we move). These crafts also accompanied a written book report, which is not the case for DC1’s public school middle school projects where it was *just* the t-shirt or the movie poster etc. (DC1 picked Fahrenheit 451 and had to make a t-shirt of the cover which zie is contemplating wearing to class now that they’re actually reading it as a class as JUNIORS.)

      DC1 went to private school and read a wrinkle in time for class I think in 2nd grade (no dioramas though). Zie had fifth grade in paradise and they went through a bunch of books. Then came back here to nothing until high school, and then stupid things.

      This year they’re at least reading classics in high school English. Not many, and not ones I would have chosen, but more literature than most of the ridiculous stuff they read last year. Like last year’s Ayn Rand…

    • SP Says:

      Crafts for ELA, with no novels? So strange. I loved From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, it was a book that really made an impression on me as a kid! I think we read it as an assignment, but I can’t be sure.

      I have no advice, but best of luck!

  6. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

    The comments make me feel like I need to create my own reading list for JB and Smol Acrobat as they get older just to be sure they’re getting a decently well rounded reading experience.

    I do remember dioramas but I hated all book-related crafts. I just wanted to read and be left alone. I don’t remember what I read in elementary school for class because I was reading armloads of books at a time, it all blurs together. I do remember that my first day in freshman English in college, when the professor asked who had read what and went down a list of 20+ novels, I was the only one with my hand up the whole time.

  7. Lisa Says:

    That looks like a really great and comprehensive plan! My organized brain is all over the chart you made, but my practical brain sees it all falling apart. When I was homeschooling my DC2 last year, I found that they did best with a daily checklist of things to do (like you have there) and with the flexibility to do things in the order that they felt like that day. I tried to make a very comprehensive plan, outlining what chapters we would do each week so that we’d get through the material in the right amount of time. But I also tried to include some “fun” and different activities every once in a while. I think this mostly fell flat because DC2 and I spent WAY TOO much time bickering. Your DC2 seems more agreeable. As an example, we read the novel Holes because their class was reading it and then watched the movie (this went over well). At the end of the year, I had them plan a “dream vacation” including transportation, hotels, activities, budget, etc. This is something my oldest did in 6th grade and both of them got into it. I was sad that we couldn’t actually go on the trip and am hopeful that one day the two of us can do it (they decided to go to London to see the Harrison timepieces because we read “Longitude” together as a science/lit thing and to Paris to visit the catacombs). We used the “Everything you Need to Know about … in One Big Fat Notebook” series for science and world history. They are a bit cursory in their coverage but cover a lot of topics (way more than the 6th grade at school covered). We tried a few experiments to go along with the science bits and enjoyed the National Geographic Ancient … videos to go along with the sections on Mesopotamia, ancient China, India, Egypt, etc.

    Some of the things I tried didn’t go over so well. I think I didn’t always pick age-appropriate books to read. For example, I tried to get them to read “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” by Mark Twain because I thought it was funny and would overlap with our study of the crusades period in Europe, the renaissance discoveries about the solar system, our science discussions of the solar system, etc. But they just couldn’t get into it and didn’t finish. Longitude was also above their heads in many ways, but although they complained mightily, I think they enjoyed the general story of discovery and seafaring. This one I read aloud to them so that it wouldn’t fall by the wayside.

    One question I have is how you will track the time requirements for all of the different things. Duolingo is probably easy to check. Does Khan academy also have a time tracker that you can easily verify? What about the others? How do you limit access to games and other youtube stuff on the device DC2 will use? Perhaps my kids are overly devious, or I am particularly bad about monitoring screen time, but I’m pretty sure they’d just watch youtube all day if I wasn’t looking over their shoulder constantly. That’s one reason we made ample use of worksheets and books rather than web resources last year.

    Your schedule and these memories are inspiring me a bit. We still haven’t decided about my 1st grader. I got the class list and it’s very small by local standards (17 kids in 1st grade – my oldest had 31 kids in their 1st grade class!). Although local mask mandate attempts have been made and rebuffed, the city mayor is now threatening to put a mandate in place for the city schools. If that happens, and our cases don’t skyrocket (although today’s numbers indicate a continued exponential rise), we’ll probably send them. But I need to be mentally and practically prepared to homeschool. Having done it last year without any major catastrophes, I know I can do it again, and I know you can do it, too!

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Holes got vetoed — apparently they read it in 7th grade here. I read Connecticut yankee very slowly in 6th grade during super sustained silent reading time. (Ditto A tree grows in Brooklyn.) I vaguely recall actually finishing Connecticut yankee at home over a break.

      We have about 6 timers somewhere in the house not including the ones on devices. The kids are on the honor system and generally good about tracking themselves. They are not good about returning the timers to the kitchen.

      In the past when they’ve been caught misusing devices, they’ve lost privileges and DC2 is even more attached to hir fire than before because that’s where the big city library comic books and fantasy novels get read. Much of hir stuff is on my laptop which is in the dining room. DC1’s computer is in the breakfast nook. Today DC2 actually asked me to take hir kindle because zie couldn’t stop reading when it was near hir and zie hadn’t started hir work yet. I was like, I totally understand, DC2. I get that. DC1 doesn’t have these kinds of problems (neither does DH).

      Thank you for the vote of confidence!

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        DH says, “We use guilt” … “and parental shock”… “and finally, if we have to, natural consequences”

        This is weird to me because DH wasn’t raised Catholic, but it is true that I do I’m not mad I’m just disappointed VERY WELL, so maybe he’s picked up on it. I would have said we do reasoning and natural consequences, but yeah, I guess we do also have side order of guilt-tripping. You can take the girl out of the Catholic church, but…

      • Lisa Says:

        It’s also interesting how different kids are. My oldest is still very responsive to a disappointed look (at 15!) but the two younger kids are button pushers. It’s almost as if they can’t help it – if they know they’re not supposed to do something, they HAVE to do it no matter the consequences. The middle child is growing out of it a little bit, but only a little. I guess it’s nice to have strong minded kids who don’t easily bow to peer pressure, but it’d be nice if they bowed a little more to parental pressure. It’s clear that we have a family full of CEOs – everyone wants to be the boss and no one wants to do what anyone else tells them. Urg.

      • Lisa Says:

        On the plus side, reverse psychology works really well on them – You are NOT ALLOWED to hug your grandmother, I don’t care what you think – DON’T DO IT!

  8. Debbie M Says:

    This looks awesome! So sorry you have to do all this work.

    I just want to add that doing a lot of reading seems to magically improve one’s spelling and vocabulary.

    In case something like this is applicable: my virtual human interaction is weekly Zoom craft meetings (we all bring our own crafts), near weekly virtual-reality golf games, and quarterly online presentations (called athenia)–there’s a social hour, followed by the presentation, followed by a question-and-answer session.

    For Spanish, I have enjoyed Sr. Jordan (http://www.senorjordan.com/los-videos/), a middle school teacher who gets what’s hard and has videos on specific topics but has a really terrible accent.

    Meanwhile, I’m thinking of watching some Pocoyo myself. It looks like real Spanish in stories that are easy to understand even if you don’t quite get the Spanish. But I’m not a good YouTuber and don’t really know how to find videos besides playing around on the home page.

  9. middle_class Says:

    I could not do this level of homeschooling with a full time job. Even if I relied on videos for some subjects, you have to hold discussions and/or grade their work. I don’t have the patience!

  10. RBOC | Grumpy Rumblings (of the formerly untenured) Says:

    […] how we home-schooled DC2 for a semester until zie could get a covid vaccine?  And how we had no idea what we were doing […]

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