So how are things going this year in our homeschool? Which homeschool curriculum are we still using and why? Which curriculum did we ditch and why? What’s been added? What’s changed? Below is our subject by subject 6th grade mid-year homeschool curriculum review and changes.
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6th Grade Mid-Year Homeschool Curriculum Review of Our Essential Subjects
We have been using Math-U-See for 4 years now and so far it is great. Are my children in love with math as I am? No, but they are mastering all the concepts presented in this curriculum. Read my post, How to Effectively Implement Math-U-See to get an idea of how we use this curriculum in our homeschool.
We have been using BJU Press for 4 years for our language arts and writing. When it comes to learning grammar, I think this curriculum is great. However, after 4 years of their writing component, the boys and I are bored to death of it. It is really turning us all off to writing.
With that, I started the new year by omitting the writing chapters. Instead, I am allowing the boys to work on research papers of their choosing. They are to choose a historical person, event, or scientific concept on which to do their papers. I can’t begin to tell you the difference in their attitudes towards writing assignments now. What took days to draft a single paper now takes about a couple of hours.
So what does this look like in our homeschool? We take on a writing assignment every other week. This gives them time to decide on their topic or person, do a little research, and order books from the library. We also use our membership with NotebookingPages to make our reports look good.
Here is what that week of writing looks like:
- Monday: planning (usually an outline of their paper based on their research)
- Tuesday: drafting
- Wednesday: revising and proofreading
- Thursday: bibliography and images added
- Friday: formatting and publishing the final paper
So far this year, we have read Shakespeare’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ and will end the year with ‘As You Like It’. Josh really likes it and gets into character when his speaking part comes up. Jack, not so much. He really hates reading the parts. However, he does pay attention and enjoys watching the movie clips for each part we read.
This is a list of all that we have read and will cover soon:
- Gulliver’s Travels by Classic Starts
- Poetry: A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson
- Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing
- The Man in the Iron Maskby Classic Starts
- Percy Jackson and the Olympians, The Lightning Thief
- The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry
- The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen
- An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce
- A Dark Brown Dog by Stephen Crane
- A Horeseman in the Sky by Ambrose Bierce
- The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allen Poe
- Percy Jackson and the Olympians, The Sea of Monsters
- Shakespeare’s As You Like It
We are still using Susan Wise Bauer’s Story of the World Curriculum. I like this curriculum because it doesn’t just cover the typical European/American history I encountered throughout my elementary years. This curriculum covers the Far East, Africa, and even Australia.
I pair this curriculum with writing now (see above) allowing the boys to do a one-page research paper on a historical person or event of their choice. We also watch parts of the History Channel’s DVDs: Mankind, The Story of All of Usand America, The Story of Us. The boys love watching these DVDs. These really bring out history for them.
This has not changed from last year. We take 6 days to cover each state and use NotebookingPages‘ individual state study sheets. I also pair this with Scholastic Highlight’s Which Way, USA subscription. While I do not like the mazes and crossword puzzle activities in the book, they do have other fun activities that require fact checking and mapping skills. We are almost done with this curriculum having covered this over the last two and half years. 50 states are a lot!!
This year we read Presidential Elections and Other Cool Factsby Syl Sobel around the time of the election. On election day, I printed out a blank U.S. map where the kids could color in each state red or blue depending on the candidate who won that state. We also tallied the electoral college votes on our white board until we reached the winning number. I still can’t believe how excited the boys got on election day. They really took to their activities. It was fun watching them cheer on the candidate of their choice.
This year, I changed things up and purchased Dr. Bernard J. Nebel’s Scientific Understanding and Elementary Science Education books. Both these books cover K to 5th grade but can be used for any grade with some modifications. These are not textbooks or workbooks for kids. These books are guides for parents to use in order to teach different science concepts.
I really loved these books. Dr. Nebel explains each concept in simple terms and best of all, his experiment suggestions are doable. That is, most of the materials can be found in the home. The few items I have had to buy were things that I found easily at Walmart or on Amazon. You don’t have to worry about trying to find crazy electronic parts or chemicals.
I am also pairing this subject with writing as well. The boys can research either a topic or scientist of their choice. We will be working on creating a periodic table (coming to a post soon) where we will cover each element on a report sheet from NotebookingPages (this site has everything, can you tell?).
Homeschool Curriculum Review of Our Electives
We are currently using Homeschool Programming Inc.’s Digital Savvy for learning simple computer skills. The boys can’t wait to learn programming but I believe that they should learn the basics first. I am so glad I decided to do it this way. What they are learning now, they are applying to their research reports such as word processing, using images, and search engines. This program even teaches about spreadsheets, social media, and how to be safe online.Click here to tweet about our 6th grade mid-year homeschool curriculum reviews.Click To Tweet
So far I have been winging this without curriculum. I have not found anything that goes beyond simple labeling and maybe a few common phrases. I did start touching upon the basics of verb conjugations in order to get the boys creating simple sentences but I am running into a little trouble finding resources to further their grasp of the language. Would love to hear from anyone who has a great resource.
We are using Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing Family Edition that we purchased as a download off of Amazon. Scheduling this every day, the boys ended up finishing the tutorial part before Christmas. I think it did a good job of teaching the boys how to type. Josh has really taken to using his skills whenever he is on a keyboard; Jack, not so much.
Right now, the boys are working on the typing tests available at the end of the tutorial. As far as scheduling goes, I only require typing practice on those days that they are not working on research papers since this gives them an opportunity to practice their typing skills already.
We have not done health yet. We will be starting after U.S. Geography is finished which will be some time in March. I’ll update this post with that review once we finish it.
Update: We finally got to this curriculum in March and have to say that I liked it. The boys not so much. It is really meant to be read by the boys only (to make it less embarrassing) but I thought we would read it together in case they had questions. I remember being so confused about all things ‘sex’ at their age and I didn’t want them to feel that they can’t rely on me for the truth.
Well, let me just advise you that if your a mom, let dad or another male relative handle the first chapter. Unfortunately, my husband was away at the time we started and I so wish he had been home for this. It is not that the chapter talks about intercourse, it doesn’t. I think explaining that is actually easier than explaining ‘nocturnal emissions.”
Of course the boys looked at me with big eyes and open mouths trying to understand something that I had no experience with. There was giggling, red faces, and a whole lot of questions to which I replied, “ask your dad more about it when he comes home”. Mama mia!
However, the other chapters were way more boring than that first one but I enjoyed the topics that they talked about. Such as caring for one’s body, peer pressure, cyberbullying, and even drugs and alcohol. We had lengthy discussions about each topic after we read them so that I can see whether they understood what we had just read and how important these things were as they go through puberty.
My take: I definitely recommend this book if your son is about to hit puberty or are asking questions about their body. And you don’t have to worry about it being too graphic (there is one drawing of a penis but it is in good taste, labeling parts). I wasn’t sure if they would talk about intercourse but you can rest easy if you feel your sons are not there yet. They do not touch upon that at all.
And this is it folks, our mid-year homeschool curriculum review. I hope you found it helpful and if you have any suggestions for curriculum, I’d love to hear from you. If you would like more information on a particular curriculum, don’t hesitate to contact me or leave a comment below. Also, don’t forget to sign up below to receive my newsletter alerts. I am in the habit of making lots of freebies so don’t miss out!
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