A Year Considered – 5th Grade

I’m finally getting back to sharing some of our plans and choices for the year upcoming.  As I mentioned in the beginning planning post, ours is a year considered, and this post detailing some of my considerations and plans are the fruits of those initial efforts.  We’re into week 5 of this plan – over halfway through the first term.So…let’s talk 5th grade!  My 5th grader this year is an imaginative, mechanically minded, creative, science loving boy who loves to read and is passionate about baseball!  He’d rather be building something than just about anything!  LOL!  If you’ve got a big fella – you know exactly what I mean!
{Sparkly and Peanut are best of buds!  In the corner of this picture is their other favorite buddy – UC!}



{Our big fella adores his little sister!  Here they are dancing around the American Impressionist exhibit at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens.}


{He’s super passionate about baseball!}

So, what kind of year is in the works for this fella?  We’re calling it a Year of Knights and Explorers!  Each term is named in an inspiring way for a young knight: The Shield, The Arrow, The Bow, The Sword.

** Math – This year we’re chugging along with Saxon math 6/5.  It certainly isn’t a glamorous math program (LOL!), but I happen to have all the books from Saxon 5/4 up through Calculus already on my shelf, and I’m all about being frugal and making good use of the resources already living on my shelf!  I do think it’s a good program – not perfect, but I’ve learned how to make it work with each of the different children in my family!

** History – History really sets the tone and theme of the year.  This year the theme of a Year of Knights and Explorers is a summary of the history reading on the booklist this year.  We’re studying the Middle Ages and our overall reading comes from this period, but I hunted down some out-of-print treasures to build a theme of adventures through knights and world explorers.  Sparkly reads a book, narrates to me what he read, and often his copywork comes from his reading.  He’s continuing to work with his Book of Centuries which connects his reading by adding pertinent events and people in their place in time.  In addition, he’s using these World Explorers Notebooking pages to make a notebook of the adventures he reads about.  Here is his booklist of history reading for the year:

** Geography – Follows our history reading.  We’re doing some mapwork using outline maps from Blackline Maps of World History – Middle Ages, as well as some blank maps for map skills using Uncle Josh’s Outline Maps (I have the book since I ordered a million years ago before the cd was available, but I recommend the CD so you can print, or just google blank maps for printing – there are a gazillion available on the internet now!!)

** Religion – We’re continuing our work in the Baltimore Catechism #1 this year using both the St. Joseph’s Baltimore Catechism and sometimes referring to the wording in the original 1933 Benziger Press edition of the Baltimore Catechism .  We’re still making use of Big Picture Chart that coordinates the AngelFood_Baltimore Catechism lessons series by Father Brennan with our Baltimore Catechism lessons.  In following our theme of chivalry and noble figures, I chose Andrew Lang’s The Book of Saints and Heroes for him to read and narrate from each week.  And he’s really enjoying this fantastic book I found for him – The Catholic Bible in Pictures by Fr. Dante Fiorentino.  This book encompasses the entire Bible through amazing black and white illustrations which are beautifully and highly detailed along with captions of simple text below the illustrations (based on the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine translation).  Sparkly will also be reading several Mary Fabyan Windeatt books on the saints as they coordinate with the liturgical year and we will, as always, be crafting, cooking, and reading along as we live out the richness of the liturgical year as a family.

** Language ArtsNeed I say more?  LOL!!!  We’re following our plan, making use of some review work with Primary Language Lessons, moving into Intermediate Language Lessons later this year, and Sparkly is finishing up Keyboarding Skills.  I’ve never really explained much about Keyboarding Skills, and since it’s an out-of-print resource, I’ll give you a quick review of it.  It’s a book, not a software program, which offers simple, straightforward lessons in learning to type.  I use the book over 2 years – 4th and 5th grade.  There is a newer version here.  There’s no fluff to this resource – it’s nice and straightforward and builds skill upon skill, starting with learning home keys and building to typing/keyboarding proficiency.

** Science and Nature Study –  We’re spending some time on physical science topics this year:

In addition, we’re still having fun with Boy meets Machine, and this year we’re moving into The New Way Things Work!  Sparkly requested some fun projects and experiments with Detective Science, and he’s really enjoying that!

We’re all reading from Nature Friend Magazine together, and enjoying some family studies during our teatime reading.  This term we’re reading from The Burgess Bird Book for Children by Thornton Burgess and we’re enjoying sketching some of the birds in our nature sketch books as we see them.  These 3 part cards with the original color illustrations from the Burgess book by Louis Agassiz Fuertes are a great addition to our study providing visuals and a fun way to learn the different birds.
** Latin – We’re using Prima Latina this year and also using Lingua Angelica to learn some hymns at appropriate times of the liturgical year.  I’ve found that we prefer the Memoria Press series of Latin instruction because of its use and instruction in ecclesiastical pronunciation of Latin (vs. other really good programs like those from Classical Academic Press which use classical pronunciation.  The programs from Classical Academic Press are excellent programs in a classical style though – so do consider them if that is not a consideration/priority for you!)** Fine Arts –  We’re studying some familiar painters this year for picture study – Michelangelo, Raphael, Rembrandt, and Monet.  A book we’re using that has extraordinary images for picture study is Michelangelo and Raphael in the Vatican (which my brother brought back to me from the Vatican when he went to Italy).

Suzanne shared a link with me to Deep Space Sparkle, an elementary art teacher’s blog.  She shares her many art lessons there.  Most are free, and some studies are neatly compiled and available for purchase as pdf’s.  We’re really enjoying them here and they form the basis of our art studies for the year.  Sparkly loves the Architecture Made Easy plans, and is really enjoying Drawing Castles since it ties into his history studies so well.  The rest of our year of art springs from Line + Color = Fun and Fun With Portraits.  Check out her blog if you’re in need of a little art inspiration!!

For Shakespeare, Sparkly is reading from Edith Nesbit’s Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare.  Not sure yet if we’ll attempt a group reading of any Shakespeare this year.

Poetry is selected seasonally and comes from a few favorite sources —  Nature Study and Related Literature by Anna McGovern, copyright 1903 (in looking just now I found a copy at Amazon for a ridiculous price…check around because I know affordable used copies are out there!) is a treasure if you can find it.  (Edited to say…Paula reminded me that the 1905 version of Anna McGovern’s book can be found at google books! ) It has some great idea for nature study lessons along with a copious amount of poetry that is so lovely and coordinates with the seasonal year.  As always, I make use of our primary source of poetry very frequently – Favorite Poems Old and New, edited by Helen Ferris.  This book would be one of those, “if-you-could-only-recommend-one-book-of-poetry-what-would-it-be?” books!  Used copies are inexpensive, and even new it’s worth it!  I have used this book consistently every.single.year we’ve been homeschooling.  It’s a FAVORITE!

For music appreciation, we’re listening to Beethoven, Haydn, Vivaldi, and a few modern composers like Holst to coordinate with our study of Astronomy (have you ever listened to The Planets?  You should!).  I really appreciate the detail and gentleness of the Opal Wheeler series of books on composers and that’s what Sparkly is reading independently from this year.

* * *

That’s it!  A fun year of Knights and Explorers for my 5th grader!  Sure hope you enjoyed this post detailing our plans!  Up next, our first year of high school with Sarah’s 9th grade plans!  Happy planning and book-list making everyone!

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  1. do you have a recommendation for keyboarding/typing for an older child? r would you still use the book you are going to use this year for your son?

  2. What a great 5th grade year! I can't believe you're already more than half-way through your first quarter, fun! I think it's so great that you've tailored Sparkly's year to his interests, makes the learning so much more enjoyable and inspiring! Happy half-quarter and beyond 😉

  3. Thank you for your sweet words as always, Meredith! Your planning posts have been sooo inspiring to me!!!

    If I were working with an older child that needed keyboarding skills, I'd still recommend the same resource. That's one of the reasons I like it so much. It isn't filled with cartoon characters, or references that might seem twaddly, or belittling to an older student. It's super-straight-forward skill building…and that's it. Nothing fancy. I've heard good things about *Mavis Beacon teaches typing* so you might check into that. I don't have it and have never used it though. Good luck hunting down something that works for your family, Kris!

  4. Jen, last August I downloaded the Anna McGovern book with the title “Type Lessons for Primary Teachers in the study of Nature, Literature and Art” from Google Books, so that is another option. It is arranged by seasons for primary grades, but truly a treasure.

  5. Thanks, Kelly and Paula!!! You're so kind!

    I'm so glad you mentioned that Anna McGovern's book was on google books! I forgot that I found it there at one time, too! Here's the link:


    I'm going to add it to the post as well! Thanks for mentioning it!!

  6. Jen,

    Thank you for this post. I will have 4th and 5th grade boys this fall and it was very helpful to compare notes between my plans and yours.

    Many things are similar, but you gave me some new ideas too! I love the Timeline book resource and will add it this year. And I bought the Angel Food books some time back and printed your chart linking the stories to the Baltimore… we'll add that into our Religion studies this year!

    God bless you and your family. Love your blog!

  7. Hey Jen!! I was so excited to see this post and compare what I have selected for my fifth grader too. I can't believe it – so many things are the same! We really should be neighbors – LOL!! We are doing Medeival times as well for history and have selected so many of the same books. You have inspired me to do a post on our curriculum for the year!

  8. Thank you so much for this, Jen! I just purchased a few resources that you mentioned. My son is going into 5th grade and I'm feeling a little scared (my specialty is 1st-3rd, after all!) but your post is so helpful.

  9. Thank you so much, ladies!!! What a joy to hear that you might find some inspiration or idea here to use in your homes! It is truly a delight to share with you all!!!

  10. Hi Jen~ You are amazing! You work so hard and how blessed we are that you share with us! I am just getting started with my planning for the year (6th,
    3rd, and 1st grade) and feel so blessed to glean ideas from fellow bloggers like you:) I know this takes so much time to do and I thank you so much. God bless you abundantly!

  11. Oh, Dear Friend!!! You have helped me so much with these sweet plans. I was sort of…..struggling…..after the last few weeks to get my act together. While my guy is a tad older, this is really the level he is at right now, and so much of this would really work for him.

  12. Hi Jen! I tried to go to the chart for the Angel Food books and the Baltimore Cat, but the link is broken or something. Could you possibly repost? Thanks so much!

  13. Kelly,
    I'm so sorry! That's the second time I've heard that the google docs link isn't working. I moved the document to Adobe's site and fixed the link. You should be able to click through and download and print now!

    Hope this helps!!! 🙂

  14. Hey Jen, I know this is an old blog post, but I come back to your blog every now and then because I really admire the way you are organize and get this homeschooling thing done. Would you be open to emailing me? I need some mentoring. Sigh. Thank you in advance!! God bless you.

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