What We Did for 6th Grade

6th grade, as of April 23, 2010

  • Main Core:

    • Trail Guide to Learning: Paths of Exploration, published by Geography Matters.Paths of Exploration

      • We use this as our literature-based history core. It is really designed much like a unit study, covering copywork, reading, discussion, narration, word study (including spelling, vocabulary, and some grammar), geography, science, writing, and art. We are just now modifying how we use it a lot these days, pretty much eliminating the language arts components (except, of course, the read-alouds and readers.) Designed for grades 3-5, we are adding  things to it to “boost” it to what the boys need as 6th-graders. It has 6 six-week units, which I really like so I have set up our entire “school calendar” to follow. I like that 6 weeks is not too long to spend on a unit such that everyone is getting bored with the subject, but it’s long enough to really enjoy the focus topic and become immersed. I think Charlotte Mason would approve!
  • Language Arts:

    • Michael Clay Thompson’s Language Arts, published by Royal Fireworks Press.Grammar Island

      • We are using the complete Island level of this program. It is a wonderful combination of grammar, writing, poetics, vocabulary, and 4-level analysis which requires them to apply what they have learned in each area. We just started it this past week, and even though the boys started grumbling about trying something new and having to do it at night in addition to our read-aloud, I told them that this was to replace the copywork and word study in their Paths program (above) and we would be doing most of it together. They liked the idea of dropping copywork and word study from Paths, though. They haven’t admitted it yet, but I see them becoming engaged and having fun with the poetics book! We moms are so sneaky! 😉 
  • Science

    • Beginning Life Science is included in our Paths of Exploration curriculum.North American Wildlife GuideHandbook of Nature Study

      • It has mostly covered animals, plants, and insects that the colonists encountered when coming to America. The 2 books used for this study are The Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Comstock and the Reader’s Digest North American Wildlife Guide. The boys like the latter book better because of the colorful pictures and shorter text. And initially, I didn’t purchase the former book because it was available online. But it is such a big book and the PDF file pages don’t match the actual page numbers in the file, that I finally broke down and bought the book. The authors of Trail Guides said that we will be using this book every year anyway.
    •  Science-In-A-Nutshell Kits by Delta Education.Science in a Nutshell Microworlds

      • I bought just one kit, Microworlds, to try these out. I knew the boys needed more hands-on science than the Trail Guides were providing, but I also needed something that would be really easy for them to follow and complete on their own while I am at work. It is working out well so we will probably use more of these kits. Buying one kit provides enough supplies for 3 students, so it works. I also happened to stumble upon 4 used kits from their Earth Science series that a local mom was selling, so I bought those at a substantial discount. The authors of Trail Guides said that Earth Science will be the focus in the upcoming year, Paths of Settlement.
    • Rader’s Biology4Kids web site. Biology4Kids

      • I recently rediscovered this web site in my long list of browser Favorites. I should have used this site all year as our “spine” for science and use the science in Trail Guides and “Nutshell” kids as the supplements! This site is very well laid out, has easy to read text on each subject, has mini-quizzes on the reading that they do, and extras like slideshows, videos, and wallpaper images. While it is not an extensive web site, it does provide a nice framework of organized topics to cover and use as a launchpad to further research.
    • REAL Science Odyssey Life Science, published by Pandia Press. REAL Science Odyssey Life Science

      • Even though this science guide is “Level 1”, intended for grades 1-4, I  pull ideas and topics from this guide, book lists to help me start book searches fold older children, and maybe even an activity or 2 to further supplement our science program. They offer a  “Try-Before-You-Buy” program whereby you can download the first several lessons as a PDF and try it out. I am going to see how much I can use this and, if I find it worthwhile, I will buy it.
  • Nature Study

    • Katie’s Homeschool Cottage ebook Using Nature Studies, Nature Journals, and Poetry Throughout the Year. Katie's Homeschool Cottage Nature Study

      • This is a wonderful resource for Nature Study! It has 4 sections, one for each season. There is poetry for the season and for each month of the season. Each month of the season has ideas for nature study for that month, questions to encourage going beyond the nature study itself leading to “rabbit holes”, and wonderful book lists for all the topics! In fact, one of the reasons I really liked this book is that she shows you how you can use nature study as the jumping off point for ALL of science! What a wonderful idea! Since we just changed the way we schedule our homeschool during the week, we now will be using this resource on Fridays for doing Nature Study and Beyond!
  • Mathematics

    • Life of Fred  math series by Sr. Stanley SchmidtLife of Fred Pre-Algebra 1

      • Alex Rider is using this series of math books. This year, he has completed the Fractions book and next week will finish the Decimals/Percents book. He will move right into the book Pre-Algebra 1 with Biology. The author, Dr. Stanley Schmidt, says that there is an old saying that you should not start algebra before you have hair under your arms. So I am going to have him do Pre-Algebra 1 and 2, which is due to be released this summer, and then check his readiness for Beginning Algebra.
    • Making Math Meaningful, published by Cornerstone CurriculumMaking Math Meaningful

      • Dragon Rider is using this curriculum. He is mostly using Level 3, but he is doing one Unit from Level 2 which introduces multiplication and division. Dragon Rider has several learning challenges that has made learning math very difficult for him. The name for this difficulty is dyscalculia. This curriculum is very thorough and systematic, building from the concrete to the pictorial to the abstract. This is the first math curriculum that he has said he actually understands and doesn’t fight to get done. The workbook pages are uncluttered with large fonts and room for the child to write. Dragon Rider has dysgraphia and this workbook has been very accommodating for him.
    • Hands-On Equations, published by Borenson and Associates.Hands-On Equations

      •  This will be used as a supplement for Alex Rider and possibly for Dragon Rider, as he shows interest. I plan to have Alex Rider use this day/week in lieu of his Life of Fred Pre-Algebra to build tangible understanding of how to keep equations balanced while solving for unknowns. But first, I have to convince him that it is worthwhile! He doesn’t like this program since he is not a big fan of hands-on math.
    • Living Math History Lesson Plans from LivingMath.net. Living Math

      • I plan to use these with Dragon Rider to provide a break between weekly lessons of his Making Math Meaningful books. These use a variety of living books and activities to explore math concepts in a more relaxed way. I am hoping that these will provide him some small incentive to get through each week’s lessons so that he can be “rewarded” with a Living Math Day. I will also use these plans for Alex Rider if he shows interest.


5 Responses to What We Did for 6th Grade

  1. Cindy says:

    Oh, no! I forgot about another science curriculum/resource that I have seen in the past that is really good! It’s called Classical Science and it is located at http://eequalsmcq.com/classicsciinfo.htm. Once again, it is designed for a younger crowd and while it doesn’t have a list of books for supplement, it looks like a fun program. Now I will have to figure out what to drop if I want to use it as a “spine”! LOL!

  2. Cindy, this is wonderful! I’d love to put my hands on those Trail Guides and Grammar Island. I believe Lisa at Keen Kids at Home likes Grammar Island too. I have a few friends who love your math choices too. We love science. I look forward to following your blog. As you know, we are a couple of years behind you…

    • Cindy says:

      We really like Trail Guides! And your kids are the PERFECT age to start using them! There are 2 reasons that we have decided to move away from the built-in language arts in the program. One is that Dragon Rider can’t really do the copywork as written. His LDs make copywork one of the most difficult tasks, especially if he is copying from a book and not on the same paper. The other reason is that I felt like the boys needed more focused instruction on grammar and writing at this age. Since they are ending 6th grade and entering junior high school, I felt like even Charlotte Mason had them doing specific instruction in those areas beyond the gentle approach of copywork and discussion of passages in the books they are reading. I originally had intended to wait until they actually started 7th grade for a grammar course until I decided to try out the Grammar Island series of books. With the age of your kids, you could probably do a little of both. Do copywork/word study only 2 days/week instead of 4, and do the Grammar Island, et al, the other 2 days/week.

      The plans for Trail Guides are to do 3 years centered around American History, then spend 3 years on World History and then build a high school program of Modern American History, Modern World History, and a Government/Economics program. We will have to figure out how to handle high school with or without Trail Guides because my boys are on the high side of the age range. But by then we will have lots of practice using living books to study history and literature and should be able to design our own program! 🙂

      • Cindy says:

        Actually, your boys might still be a bit young for Trail Guides. You probably would do better waiting another year for them in order to get more out of it. By then, there should be copies of it available used (including mine) so you could save some money! 🙂

  3. Pingback: New page added to my blog site « Desert Ramblings: Living in the high desert of Northern Nevada

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