Wednesday, September 7, 2016

5th Grade Plans

fiddle lesson

Our school schedule has changed the last couple years. We used to do schoolwork in the morning and run errands in the afternoons. Sunshine has a hard time focusing when the boys are running around so most of her schoolwork is now done in the afternoon, during nap time. As a result, we're running errands in the morning, before it's time to get the boys down for their naps. Our curriculum has changed up a bit as well, as it always seems to.

This year's subjects:

History & Geography
We've completed all four years of Story of the World and are starting over. We're supplementing with the year 1 history curriculum from The Good and the Beautiful. It covers in one year the time frame covered by the full four year cycle of Story of the World, but it includes more Biblical events, which is what we're using it for. We're also finally using the timeline I put up on the walls of our basement stairs several years ago. I had printed off cards to put on it, but it never really worked for us since the cards I found online didn't necessarily line up with the events and people Story of the World focuses on. This year I'm having Sunshine make a card for each major event we talk about. I think it's a lot more meaningful this way. If I can get my act together we'll also be better about requesting supplemental reading books from the library.

the timeline wraps around the basement stairs- the cards next to the map are what Sunshine has just started doing. the cards straight ahead are the old ones that didn't match up with our history curriculum and will be removed.

Math & Logic
CTC math is still working well. We'll be supplementing with games, including the Zillio tower I bought this past year and haven't quite figured out how to use. I also have Dave Ramsey's personal finance course for middle school kids that we're going to start using. For logic training we're using MindBenders level 4. I remember doing these types of logic puzzles as a kid, and I loved them. Once Sunshine figured out how to work through the clues to find the solution, she has been able to work through them pretty easily and enjoys them. I like that they're helping her think through a problem to find a solution. I think it helps that at this stage there's a concrete solution to arrive at.

We're continuing with Song School Latin 2, which we started at the end of 4th grade. I'm still deciding if we'll move to a different Latin curriculum when she finishes Song School Latin 2, or if we'll switch to Song School Greek, which Sunshine has expressed interest in.

I had Sunshine copying scripture mastery verses last year, and it worked well enough. Then I found this handwriting course from The Good and the Beautiful and I decided to give it a try. We're just a few lessons in, but so far it's reinforcing proper letter formation, which I have not been very good at. I'm hoping it will be effective at improving her handwriting.

Spelling & Grammar
We don't have a specific spelling or grammar curriculum we're using this year, though the handwriting course purports to incorporate grammar and spelling rules. For the most part we're relying on what she picks up as she reads. Her CAT scores showed that she's above grade level in these areas, so we're not going to focus too much on them. We will come back to grammar in the future, but not this year. I do want to find a book of spelling rules for Sunshine to read. She can spell pretty well, but I'm not sure that she knows all the rules, which would help her spell even better. If you have any suggestions of books that might fit this description, let me know!

We're starting with the meteorology course from Good and the Beautiful. It's not a full year course, so I will either purchase another course from them or we might use one of these dvds. We're also doing kitchen experiments from this book.

Sunshine is reading the scriptures, fiction books, and assigned reading for school. We also still read aloud to her and she still enjoys listening to books on cd. She hasn't been super interested in the "classic" type books that you find on all the book lists (The Good and the Beautiful has a book list, as do lots of other sites, like Read Aloud Revival), so I think I'm going to start sneaking them into our read aloud time. Mr M and I have seen in the past that she won't want to read a book, usually based on the cover, but if we read it to her she discovers she likes the book.

We haven't done much writing the last couple years, though Sunshine has written stories and letters on her own. This year I'll give her some story prompts (I found a list of writing prompts on this blog) and see how she does with them. I'm not going to push the writing, but I do want to see if she's mature enough to start increasing the amount of writing she does. A few years ago I attended a seminar taught by Susan Wise Bauer where she talked about being patient and not pushing children to write extensively too early, but to wait until they're mature enough physically and mentally. I took that to heart, and she has yet to write an essay or a book report. Her time will come, though :)

We'll continue to do projects as we have time.

We weren't able to do this last year, so I'm hoping we can fit it in this year. But we may just wait until 6th grade when Mr M's schedule calms down and he has the time to help her.

Extra Curriculars
Weekly fiddle lessons
Weekly Irish music class/performing group
Weekly park day
We haven't gone much lately, but we're making more of an effort this year. We changed Sunshine's fiddle lesson to an earlier time in the hopes that I can get the boys down for naps earlier so they can get decent naps and we can still go to park day.
Weekly gymnastics class
This is new and we'll see how she likes the first two month class before committing to more. A friend of hers is taking the class as well, which I'm hoping will encourage her to stick with it. I'd like her to find a physical activity that she likes, and so far she's rejected Irish dance and running. She still gets to walk races with us as a family, but it's not something she does for fun.
Monthly science experiments group
This is also new and should be fun.
Monthly history club
We've met with this group for several years now and have enjoyed the activities.
Summer day camps
Irish music day camp, nature camp, church day camp

Field trips
I haven't been as consistent as I'd like with scheduling field trips, but we're changing that this year. Our trips to Philadelphia and the Blue Ridge Parkway have inspired me to search out all the Jr Ranger programs that are within a day's drive, and there's a lot more than I thought there were. The current plan is to visit one (or two, if they're in close proximity) every other Monday.


Last year I had a check list of what I wanted Sunshine to accomplish each week, with the hope that she would finish it at the beginning of the week and have more free time towards the end. It didn't work that way at all. I think it might when she's a few years older, but not yet.

This year we're using a notebook to write her assignments (I the idea here), and so far it's working out great. I write the day's assignments the night before or that morning during breakfast and can adjust it based on that day's schedule. I include chores with the schoolwork, as well as other things I want her to get in the habit of, like reading her scriptures on a daily basis. There's a line for her to write down the title of her current book so we can make a book list for this year. Getting in the habit of writing these things down will come in handy in a couple more years as she starts high school and we need to record everything so we can write up good class descriptions and transcripts.

Sunshine is rapidly approaching the middle school years, which will naturally be followed by the high school years :) One thing we discussed this summer was whether she wanted to skip a grade in the next year or so. Though in reality, she wouldn't be skipping, so much as combining, so she'd end up doing 5th and 6th grade work in one year. The real limiting factor is how quickly she can get through her math course.

Why would we be worrying about this now?

Sunshine has to have a say in the decision, so we have to discuss why she would or would not want to skip a grade. Should she decide to graduate early, I feel like there's some timing that needs to be considered.

The real issue in my mind is making sure she gets four years of seminary in. If she waits until 9th grade to skip a head, she'd only have 3 years of seminary. If she skips a grade before 9th grade, then she can get all 4 years in and still graduate early. She'd just be starting seminary at a younger age than the other kids in her primary class.

Since middle school is prep for high school, I'd prefer Sunshine to skip ahead sooner rather than later so we can make sure that she's got a solid academic base for high school.

Of course, this all could be moot. Some days she wants to do it, other days she doesn't. We do need to spend some more time discussing what she would do if she skipped ahead: gap year, start college early, etc.

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