Curriculum 2016/2017 – Fifth Grade and Kindergarten

We have officially started our new school year around here – lots of new books on the shelves, and new binders are set up and ready to go! Kyri is now working on Fifth grade, and Ender is Kindergarten.

We have started using a few new programs, so look for some detailed reviews on those soon. But this is a good overview of our resources for the year.

Fifth Grade


Singapore Math 3B/4A/4B – We decided to change direction in Math and work on Mastery of concepts rather than the Spiral approach used by Saxon. Kyri has responded well to the change in pace and approach and we will continue with Singapore through the remainder of summer and into the new school year.

Additional Resources:

Usborne Dictionary of Math (3 book series) – not a curriculum but a great resource. Colorful and engaging, these are fun to read and glean knowledge. Click here to check them out.

Family Math (series) – this is a wonderful resource, with games and activities that teach and reinforce math concepts. the series is being used over a range of ages, down to preschool.

Mathmania – this is a subscription magazine through Highlights. Two issues each month arrive, full of math-based puzzles and activities.

Language Arts

Vocabulary from Classical Roots – Grade 4 and Grade 5 This series presents new words that are grouped according to Greek or Latin roots. Covers root words, spelling, meaning and usage.

Writing and Rhetoric: Book 1 Fables and Writing and Rhetoric: Book 2: Narration 1 We are working on writing skills through reading good examples and modeling.

Well-Ordered Language 1A and  Well-ordered language 1B This is an depth study of grammar skills. Each chapter focuses on one part of speech and has extensive practice. Sentence analysis, a precursor to sentence diagramming, is introduced.

Junior Great Books Series 5 – We will be reading short stories and working through the Interactive Activity book for reading comprehension and in-depth analysis.


Beautiful Feet – Ancient History this is a literature based curriculum, with Streams of Civilization as the spine, and including a large selection of books, through the Ancient Roman Empire. Each lesson includes several reading selections and discussions.

Beautiful Feet History of the Horse – This study goes through the physical characteristics of horses, specifics of the various breeds, as well as cultural significance of the horse.


Beautiful Feet History of Science – this is a lesson guide that goes through major scientific discoveries and inventions, starting from ancient times up through modern times. This is literature based, with in depth reading on the discoveries as well as the people involved. The two spines (along with various living books) are:

The Picture History of Great Inventors

DK’s The Way Science Works

Experiments are included in the lesson plans and will be extended as interests, time and resources allow.

Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding  – This isn’t our spine this year, but Volume I  and Volume II are excellent resources for planning lessons as well as having a flow chart of topics in an intuitive order to be studied. I will be using this as a reference and support.

Additional Resources:

Carson-Dellosa Just the Facts: These provide excellent supplemental exercises to enhance and expand lessons.

Earth and Space Science (4-6 grades)

Life Science (4-6 grade)

Physical Science (4-6 grade)

This is a great series that provides in-depth activities and puzzles. I will be pulling from all three volumes to go along with our BFSU lessons.

Real Science 4 Kids – We are using the Elementary level books (Biology, Earth Science, and Chemistry) as supplemental reading this year. These are written for children to be able to read independently, so they serve as a gentle introduction for many of the topics we are covering this year.

Nature Study

Handbook of Nature Study – an extensive resource for implementing nature study time. Incorporates nature notebooking and various nature guides, including as a main resource:

Nature of Handbook Study by Anna Botsford Comstock . This is a must have for a personal library. It is packed full of information about the nuts and bolts of nature study, details on pretty much anything you could want to find during nature study, as well as lessons to carry out during nature study.


Beautiful Feet – Teaching Geography Through Literature This is a literature based lesson plan. Four spines are read, and detailed discussion and mapwork are used to develop key geography concepts throughout the year.


AWANA – Kyri is going into her second year of TnT (Truth in Training) this Fall, and is very excited!

Bible Road Trip – This has been a great study this past year. We typically do the daily reading and discussion in the morning during our Kidschool. This year I would like to put a little more emphasis on Notebooking for each week’s reading.

Additional Resources:

How to Study Your Bible – For Kids by Kay Arthur

What the Bible is All About: Bible Handbook for Kids

Reproducible Maps, Charts, Timelines and Illustrations

Health and Wellness

The Care and Keeping of You 2: For Older Girls (book and journal) an excellent resource for learning about body issues, changing bodies, peer pressure, emotions, etc. We have used The Care and Keeping of You 1 extensively and love the series.

Vintage Remedies for Tweens (continuing) – covers a variety of topics from food, natural health

Raising Vegetarian Children  more of a guide for me, but we will be pulling recipes and discussing healthy habits.


For writing practice and mastering the Alef Bet we are using a couple of different resources:

Sarah and David (Read Hebrew Now)

Hebrew for Christians

Torah Tots

For reading and speaking we are using:

Mango Biblical Hebrew


Song School Latin – this is a wonderful resource aimed at a younger audience. It teaches vocabular and simple sentences. It also teaches about the many words that are Latin derivatives. We are using the workbook, DVD, CD and flash cards.

Character Development

This may go along with Health and Wellness, but I will list separately for organization.

Beautiful Feet Teaching Character Through Literature – this includes a wonderful reading list appropriate for both Primary and Intermediate Readers, as well as Study Guide lessons geared toward Primary and Intermediate Reading Selections.

Laying Down The Rails – this is a compilation of Charlotte Mason’s writings, organized to cover wellness topics (such as Cleanliness) as well as Character topics such as courtesy. There is a book for parents/educators along with a student book that includes discussion topics.

4-H Kyri has participated in our county 4H program since the beginning of 2016. She is active in the Horsemasters Club as well as the Green Thumbs Gardening Club. This year she will continue. In addition, she is working independently on 4H projects, including Cooking 101 and Entomology.


While more formal education is taking place, a lot of focus this year is still on free play, exploring, read alouds, interactive games.


Singapore Early Bird Kindergarten. A gentle and colorful approach to early math concepts. Counting, sorting, weigh and capacity, etc. are covered.

Starfall – we are a Starfall family. we have subscribed for years. Starfall has continued to add activities to their online lineup, and their Teacher’s Lounge has also expanded. Starfall Math reinforces counting, place value, geometry, addition and subtraction, weight and capacity.

Language Arts

In general, lots and lots of reading together is our focus for the year. But we are tackling some specifics.

Starfall – For language arts we are using Starfall to reinforce letter recognition, phonics and CVC words. There are also rhymes and songs, and talking books to enjoy. From the Teacher’s lounge, I am printing handwriting pages that cover upper- and lower-case letters as well as simple words.


We are not using a formal curriculum for Science. We are pulling activities from a variety of sources, including:

More Mudpies to Magnets – simple experiments for preschool and kindergarten ages to explore basic science concepts

Evan Moor Learning About Animals – reproducibles for teaching about animals.

Handbook of Nature Study – while Ender won’t be expected to keep formal notebooking pages, he will participate in nature outings and will be encouraged to record observations in his own binder.


AWANA – Ender is officially a Spark this year! He will be working on memoring key biblical concepts and verses throughout the year.


Using Math Journals

I decided over the Christmas break to mix up our Math time a little by having Kyri use a Math Journal. I had seen them mentioned on some homeschool blogs in the past, and occasionally pins for journal pages will show up in my Pinterest feed, but I hadn’t really considered them until recently. What we are doing around here is working, so I haven’t felt the need to change things.

Honestly, the idea to introduce the Math Journal came about while shopping at Target shortly before Christmas. I happened to see a purple composition notebook in the school and office supply aisle. I decided on a whim to buy it since Kyri LOVES the color purple.

I figured she would be smitten with the purple notebook (she has also inherited my love of office supplies…) and would be more than willing to do school assignments that included this notebook.

I told her we would be using it for a Math Journal and explained briefly what a Math Journal was. I told her we would be doing a page a day, a couple days each week, and that often our Math exercise for the day would involved cutting and pasting, and oh yeah doing some Math. Have I mentioned she loves paper crafts? She thought this Math Journal idea sounded great!

So when we started back to school after the holidays, I incorporated our new Math Journal into our weekly schedule.

Review and Reinforcement

I have been actively searching Pinterest and other sites for free or inexpensive worksheets to use in our Math Journal. I have found several that reinforce what we are learning about Fact Families and equalities,  place value and expanding numbers, things like that. While these worksheets we have been using would work fine as homework sheets to be holepunched and placed in her binder, she really enjoys cutting them up and putting them into her journal.

While I usually will print worksheets to be used in the journal, I also sometimes take ideas I happen to see online and just write them out on a page. For example, I will give Kyri a number and ask her to write it down in several different forms – as a written word, as a tally, in an expanded form to show place values, drawn in pictures.

While I have pinned several resources that can be used in a math journal, I wanted to mention a few that we have really enjoyed using, and are making quite the impact.

First Grade Shenanigans We have used her math printables in our journal and Kyri has really enjoyed them. This blog offers more than just math resources though, so please check out her site.

Mrs. T’s First Grade Class This has been our resource for balancing equations and equalities. This is a great site for math worksheets!

Made for First Grade This site has both reading and math resources. Some resources mentioned are available throught the site Teachers Pay Teachers, but they do offer freebies.


Incorporating Manipulatives

I am trying to build up a collection of math manipulatives that we can use to learn different concepts, such as time, measurement, place value, and fact families.

Recently we put together a set of pipe cleaner rings, each one containing a different number of colored pony beads. We use these rings to practice Fact Families. In her notebook, she labels her activity “How Many Ways?” and then chooses a ring. She uses the beads, moving along the ring, to determine how many ways she can add parts to get the whole. She lists these part-part addition problems in her notebook. The activity is dynamic enough so that she doesn’t get frustrated as she might had I just given her a worksheet asking her to generate Fact Family equations.



I found another idea online which uses a set of dice. On her journal page, she labels three columns Roll It, Make It, Expand It. She rolls the dice and this gives her a two-digit number. She then draws this number as cubes – single cubes for Ones and stacks of ten cubes for Tens. In the Expand column, she lists how many Ones and how many Tens make up her number. She had a blast with this activity, doing several pages in one sitting.


Thinking about Math

Math Journals can be very good at getting a student to think about math, rather than spitting out answers. The Math Journal format really allows for open ended questions that let the child think about why they are getting a particular answer and how they arrived there. It is a good tool to have a child learn to explain in words what they are doing mathematically. Math discussion prompts, rather than straight-forward questions can be used here. Journal prompts could facilitate thought on a topic, such as:

What are some ways we use fractions around the house?

What is my favorite shape and why? What are some everyday objects with this shape?

These types of prompts would result in more traditional, written responses (perhaps with illustrations) that might be expected in a journal.

Other prompts could be used to facilitate open-ended thinking on a problem. For example:

There are five items (i.e. cupcakes), and there are two varieties (flavors). How many of each (flavor) are there?

This entry would have words and illustrations to show addition fact families. Kyri can show a single possibilty, or several different possibilities (showing her understanding of addition fact families).

I am really excited to be using this as part of our Math studies. I am actively searching for printouts, ideas, and writing prompts to incorporate into our journal. I am pinning my finds onto my Homeschool Math pinboard, so check it out if you are on Pinterest. If you have a Math resource or pinboard you would like to suggest, please share in a comment.