6th Grade Plans

grade 6

Sixth grade is new to our family this year.  We are jumping into the unknown world of middle school.  We are all excited about this year.  I is filled with some fun blocks and activities.

Sims’ first block will be the same as the other two but he will finish up with Europe.  Thus, we will be using David Sobel’s Mapmaking for children book as the guide.  He will begin with the other two kiddos looking at our house and neighborhood/community.  I am thinking about having him map out one of his favorite hiking or mountain biking trails.  He will also complete a small country project.  He will be studying Europe as a whole but he will pick one country to look at the geographical features and how they relate to the people in the area.

I am very excited about his second block which will be business math.  We will look through some information on bartering and the three types of money.  However, a large portion of this block will be going through the book Your Business Math.  Your Business Math is a Charlotte Mason based math program in which the children manage a “store.”  Sims will manage a pet store while learning vocabulary and business math skills. I am still looking into books for this block.  I am looking at Striker Jones: Elementary Economics for Elementary Detectives and The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible

The third block of sixth grade will be Rome starting with the fall of Greece.  I plan to use Charles Kovac’s book on Rome throughout this block.  Hopefully, Rome will be a fun block filled with some terrific hands on projects.  He will have one big project during this eight week period in which he will have to pick an engineering invention or architectural feature of the Ancient Roman times and recreate it in some way.  As far as reading, I am looking at the Bronze Bow and the Aenid.

Block four will be done as a group looking at geology.  We will explore trees, mountains, granite, limestone, coal, the water cycle, wind, and glaciers.  I am still working through this block so I will post more on it as we do it.

Block five is the next big block for sixth grade is the study of Medieval Times.  Sims already loves reading about this time period and know a good bit of info on it.  I would like to look at the information on how to become a knight.  During this block, he will look at Christianity and Islam, the Vikings, The Norman Conquest, Medieval Society and Castles.  There are a ton of good books around this era so we will have to narrow it down.  Right now, I am looking at The Dancing Bear, The Lost Years of Merlin, and the Castle Diary.

The last block of the year will be on physics.  Sims will work along with the others doing projects on earth, wind, fire and air.  In addition to this, he will also work through the Life of Fred Physics book.  I am fairly certain that we will have to work through the book together, but I think it has some terrific real life scenarios along with the math behind physics.

As far as daily activities, Sims will use Teaching Textbooks for math, Latin Word Roots for Latin, Apples and Pears for Spelling and Growing with Grammar for weekly grammar practice.

Now that all three grades are planned for the year, I plan to take a break from blogging for a bit!  I hope you all have a terrific summer holiday!

Fourth Grade Plans


Sawyer will begin the fourth grade this year.  I have already taught fourth grade using Waldorf Essentials, so I am excited to teach it again with a little more knowledge!  Fourth grade has three main themes including NC history, Norse Myths and Man/Animal studies.

We will begin the year with a review of form drawings and then delve into NC!  I plan to use David Sobel’s Mapmaking with Children as a guide to use mapping in order to study NC.  Some of my plans include having her imagine to be a new settler to NC and landing on the NC shoreline.  How would she draw a map or plan out where she will go?  I also plan for her to work on a three dimensional map of NC.  She will begin her vocabulary in this block with words pertaining to maps.  I have several books that I am looking into for her for this block including: Swift River by Cornelia Meigs, Rescue on the Outerbanks, Celebrating North Carolina, Rascal, The Tale of Ole Green Eyes, and Legends of the Outer Banks.  NC is also home to many pirate stories which I am sure that she will love.

Her second block is a man/animal block.  In this block, we will look at the head, trunk and hands.  We will start with self portraits and begin speaking about ourselves as humans.  I plan to use both Waldorf Essentials and Charles Kovac’s book to look at the cuttlefish, the snail, the seal, the harvest mouse, the red deer, the hedgehog, the eagle and finally focusing on different types of limbs.  Hopefully, we will get a field trip in there at some point to do some in person observing.  For this block, I am looking at reading The Jungle Book- although, I am not positive on this.

The third block is a long one.  We will work on the Norse Myths and fractions.  With Sims, I used the D’Aulaires book of Norse Myths.  I plan to use that again but I also plan to us Roger Lancelyn Green’s version of the Myths of the Norsemen.  I like that Green’s book doesn’t give constant pictures.  I hope this will help Sawyer use a little more of her imagination in her paintings and art.  Sawyer loves mythology so I know she will love this block!  I have found several books to read along with the myths including The Blackwell Pages, The Norse Code, and Odin’s Child: The Heroes of the North Live On.  Hopefully, during the block we will get to some fractions as well!  I would love for her to design her own idea for fractions.  Sims used his arteries and veins to make a “fraction tree.”

Block four will be done together.  We will look at trees, granite, volcanic rocks, different rocks, the water cycle, wind and glaciers.

In her second man/animal block, Sawyer will do more independent research on some bigger animals.  Again, I am hoping these weeks will end in some terrific projects.  The animals that I have planned include the elephant, the horse, the bear, the lion, and a dog.  She will also pick her own animal to present on.

Her final block will be a group block on physics using the Earth, Wind, Fire and Air book recommended by the Christopherus curriculum.  The spring is always a busy time filled with hiking and getting outdoors.  I put this block here so that we could all enjoy doing some experiments on our adventures!

Again-this is our preliminary plan.  I am sure it will change some, but this will definitely serve as our guide through the year!


Second Grade Plans

second grade
I am excited to do grades 2 and 4 this year since I have experienced them once already. For grade 2, I plan on doing blocks on world geography/form drawing, heroes and saints, folktales, geology and biomes, animal legends and physics.

For the first block, I plan on beginning with a reintroduction to form drawings in order to get back into the school year. Then we will move into geography. For Parks, I plan to have him make a globe and label the oceans and continents. He will also work with the other kids on geography using David Sobel’s Mapmaking with Children.

His first individual block will be on saints and heroes. The last time I taught second grade, I only taught Christian saints. This year, I plan to shift my focus on both heroes and saints-no matter what the religion. Thus, as of right now I plan on teaching the definition of hero and saint. We will then read through stories on Genevieve of Paris, Kun and Yu, Rabia of Basra, Nandanar and Lord Shive, Finn Mac Cool, Judah Maccabee, Elizabeth, Hiawatha, Martin, Francis, Basil and the Baal ShemTov. I think my son will love the idea of studying heroes!

His second independent block, I plan to take stories from the Buddha’ Apprentice at Bedtime by Dharmachari Nagaraja. The book contains tales of compassion and kindness that teach the principles of the Eightfold Noble Path. The book also works on teaching meditation to children. Parks is working very hard to control his anxiety. For him, anxiety manifests in the form of anger and frustration. I am excited to bring some stories into his schoolwork that will assist in his control over his anxiety and to work on meditation..

Next he will work on geology and biomes with the other two kiddos. I do not have these blocks completely finished yet, so I will have to give you more input as time goes on. I am planning to do a joint block at this time based on previous years. I found that the time after the holidays is tough for us. Everyone has a difficult time getting back into the groove of school. Thus, if we work together then we can get more done.

His last independent block is on animal legends. in this block , I plan to read to use the Christophorus book on animal legends and the stories from Waldorf Essentials on Grandfather Frog. Finally, to finish out the year, we will work together on a physics blocks. Parks and Sawyer will focus on projects using the Earth, Wind, Fire and Air book.

In addition to his blocks, Parks will work on Teaching Textbooks level 3, Apples and Pears book A (he started this last year and will finish it this year), Growing with Grammar level 2, nature study and journaling.

Get Out the Planner


Have you noticed that everyone is planning for next year?  Well, they are not alone.  I am working away on next year.  I will be teaching second, fourth and sixth grades.  Thus far, I have my goals for each child (they will write their own goals during the first week of school) and my blocks scheduled out.  I am also in the process of finding resources for each block.


Parks (second grade): 1) Read instructions independently 2)Reciprocity in discussions (he likes to take over the discussions) 3) journal 4)begin reading silently 5)work independently for 30 minutes 6)increase his independence with communicating his emotions and needs

Sawyer (fourth grade): 1) Independent with writing a well-thought out and planned paragraph 2) increase in critical thinking  3) increase awareness of cause and effect 4) time management skills 5)Begin vocabulary 6) Learn organization skills essential to learning

Sims (sixth grade): 1) Begin note taking with research 2)increase independence with reading and activities 3)time management skills 4)Vocabulary 5)Independent with writing a well planned 5 paragraph paper 6) Journaling


3 weeks-form drawing and geography (Sims-Europe, Sawyer- North Carolina, Parks-World)  Everyone will do this block together; however, they will each focus on a different area.

6 weeks- Sims will do business math.  Sawyer will do her first man/animal block and Parks will do heroes and saints.

8 weeks- Sims will work on Rome.  Sawyer will work on the Norse myths and fractions.  Parks will work on folk tales and time.

6 weeks- group block on geology and biomes.

6 weeks- Sims will work on Medieval Times.  Sawyer will complete her second man/animal block and Parks will work on animal legends.

5 weeks-group block on physics.

In addition to the blocks, each child has daily work.  They will all be using Teaching Textbooks for math, growing with grammar for language skills, and  apples and pears for spelling.  In addition to this, they will read and journal daily.

Once I get more specifics on each block, I will get them posted.  How are your plans going for next year?  If you have any ideas on the above blocks or grade levels, I would love to hear them!


Homeschooling Ideas for a Reader

I am amazed at how different children can be-especially siblings!  Earlier I posted some of our ideas on homeschooling a child with dyslexia.  Today I am going to post on some of our ideas on homeschooling a child who doesn’t want to stop reading!  My daughter is a reader.  She loves to read.  We have to constantly tell her to put the book down to get out of the car, to walk into the store so she won’t walk into anyone, to go to bed….you get the idea.  She always has a book in her hand.  Yes, the fact that she loves to read is awesome-however, it can also make homeschooling a challenge.

Reading, spelling and grammar are not really major areas of concern.  She is an amazing speller but I continue her spelling program to reinforce what she knows from reading.  She reads amazingly well.  I do continue to have her read aloud for at least a few minutes each day.  Grammar is interesting.  If she sees a page that has improper grammar, she can spot it quickly (she is a good editor); however, grammar does not come naturally when she writes.  Thus, most of her grammar I have her fix.  She writes a paragraph.   I have her take a break from it and come back to it the next day.  She then edits her own errors and does fairly well.  If she does not take a break, she doesn’t slow down and edit properly.

Math: How do you get a child who likes to read to do math?  Find math story books!  Our favorite series is the Life of Fred series.  All of my children read through the books; however, Sawyer reads them, works the problems and then redoes each book.  She LOVES Life of Fred!  The stories are funny and relevant.

Science and History:  Another area that I have to be very inventive.  I have stated in the past that I am a very eclectic homeschooling teacher.  We mainly use the Waldorf approach but in this case we use as many living books as possible (more of a Charlotte Mason method).  Living books are simply books that children can relate to.  Living books tell a story that becomes real and that you can feel like you are living.  For example, this year one of Sawyer’s blocks included Judaism.  She read books on Judaism but she did it begrudgingly.  I also had her read The American Girl Series Rebecca.  Rebecca is a little girl who grew up NYC and her family is Jewish.  Sawyer learned exactly what I wanted her to learn.  She learned how Judaism effects a person’s everyday life and the historical events that are celebrated throughout the year by people of the Jewish faith.  Finding living books that relate to what you are trying to teach can be a challenge but it is doable (I actually found one about a family that harvests silk worms during our textile block-that took a lot of researching!).

Organization: Now it may just be my reader that is completely disorganized but I hear from other parents that organization is an issue for their readers as well.  When Sawyer begins reading, she does not stop (a good thing right?  not when you are trying to do school work!).  We use the timer on the microwave a lot.  She can read first thing after breakfast for 30 minutes.  The timer is terrific for a lot of things.  We use it to limit her time reading during school time and as a motivator for activities that she does not want to do.  We set the timer for 10 or 15 minutes.  She sees the time going by and she is able to continue with grammar or spelling.  Getting through all of her work in a day can be a challenge as well.  I am still working on this one and am open for suggestions..smile.  We tried a daily workplan, a weekly workplan, a workbox type of system in which she moved a card from needs to be done to the done side and simply me asking her what she has completed.  I saw on a post recently (I cannot remember where so I cannot give them the credit right now, but if I figure out I will) a method with clothes pins in a jar.  The clothes pins are snapped around the top of the jar and as the activity is complete, the clothes pin is dropped into the jar.  I may give this a try this year along with a timer.

What about pesky papers?  We use our main lesson books to place all papers into.  Papers are glued, taped or stapled into the book right after it is completed.  This includes the wonderful art work that used to be floating around the house.  Once a week, she goes through her cubby to declutter.  Again, this is still a work in progress.  As she gets older and more independent, paper organization and time management will become more important goals (these will be in her goal list for this next year).

Do you have a reader?  I love suggestions!



Homeschool Resources for Dyslexia

Homeschooling is a terrific option for many children with dyslexia and/or dysgraphia.  At first, you may think that it is too much to tackle.  However, you have time on your side when you homeschool!  Children with dyslexia and dysgraphia typically need to have information presented in multiple ways.  Children with dyslexia also do much better when information is presented either in a small group or one on one.  Teachers do not have the time or the resources to do these two things even when they really want to.

My son worked with a tutor for one full year two times a week while in the third grade.  After that year, I realized that I could work with him as well.  There are a ton of programs out there for children with dyslexia.  I have tried many and the following is what we have now found that works for us.

Spelling:  We started with All About Spelling and went through levels 1-4.  This program taught/reinforced the spelling rules.  The down side was that the information did not carry over into other writing activities.  Well, it is wonderful to get a 100% on your spelling test but if you can not spell the word in your journal or in an email, then you didn’t get it.  Thus, I moved to another spelling program called Apples and Pears.  This is an open and go curriculum.  We started with the first book and are moving through the second book.  The program appears to have no rhyme or reason initially but as the teacher, you soon realize that the words appear again and the patterns are progressed.  The best part is that the spelling carried over!  He uses the proper spelling throughout his writing.  Note-he still has a LONG way to go, but there is noted progress.

Reading fluency and comprehension:  For reading fluency, we are using Dancing Bears.  He began with the fast track AB book which went through the sounds fairly quickly.  Due to the extensive tutoring, he did well with this.  If you have a reader who is still struggling with the initial sounds, then I highly recommend you begin with book A (we are doing this with our youngest and it is working well).  Again, I find the carry over phenomenal.  Reading fluency in other book continues to improve.  Reading aloud is still a struggle and most books that my son can read aloud are not necessarily what he wants to read.  This is why we use Learning Ally!  Learning Ally is an online program for people who are blind and/or have a reading disability.  Learning Ally has real people record books as they read them aloud.  Note that I added real people.  The kindle and apple programs can read aloud but the voice it automated and lacks inflection.  Real people make the stories come alive, use the proper pausing, and use the proper inflection.  Learning Ally allows Sims to read books that are at his comprehension level, which is much higher than his fluency level.

Writing:  I do not use a specific curriculum for writing.  I have him journal and write nature studies that I do not edit.  These are for him just to simply practice writing.  Then when he does have a writing assignment, we do several things.  Some times he will make notes and then dictate the paragraph or paper to me to write.  Other times, he makes his notes, forms an outline, and then writes on wide ruled paper and skipping a line.  We use form drawings (a Waldorf activity) and metal insets (a Montessori activity) to work on sizing, fluid motion, pressure and letter formation.  I use the IEW program as my teaching method for how to write a paper.  We do not do the program, but it is my main go to for lessons on note taking and paper writing.  (I also recommend using gel pens or mechanical pencils)

Math:  Luckily for Sims, math comes easy.  He gets it and he understands how to apply it.  This year we used Teaching Textbooks and he really enjoyed it.  Now the difficult part isn’t doing the calculations.  It is the writing!  In the years past, he has used two methods to keep the numbers in line.  One trick is to use large graph paper (meaning the squares are large).  This is tough to find, but when I do, I stock up!  The other trick we us is to turn a wide ruled notebook sideways.  This allows you to place the numbers in the same column.  Next year, we are going to try using Mead RediSpace paper.

Note taking/Vocabulary: We use two methods for note taking and vocabulary which are used for science and history.  One method is using notecards.  Some people love notecards.  Others do not.  They are simple.  He can put a picture on one side and a word on the other or a definition.  There are many options for using notecards.  The second method is to draw a T on a sheet of lined paper with the top of the T going across the top of the page and the perpendicular line about three inches from the left hand side of the page.  Then either dates or vocabulary words or a main topic can go on the left.  On the right, corresponding definitions, information or notes are written.  Adding color is a terrific option.  Highlighters or using different colored pens are options.

We also do a lot outside.  Thus, we take our learning everywhere.  We listen to audiobooks in the car.  We do tons of nature study, visit museums, visit historical sites and learn from the world.  As I stated in an earlier post, we know that he has dyslexia and dysgraphia but it no longer seems to be a learning disability while he is learning at home.  Thus, the stress is gone!


Homeschooling Newbies

The second question that I am asked a lot is, “do you have any suggestions for a new homeschooler?” I have LOTS of suggestions and opinions but that does not mean you need to know all of them. Here are a few that I do give most people who ask.

1. If you have been in school, plan to deschool. Don’t stress out that your child will fall behind. They won’t. You will have plenty of time to “catch up.” Homeschooling is a complete mind shift for you and your child. You both have to learn that school happens all of the time. As a parent, you teach your child daily whether you are homeschooling them or not. Take field trips together. Get outside and look at all of the things out there that you have been missing during the hustle and bustle of life. Find out what you both enjoy doing.

2. Find some resources. I highly recommend jumping on the internet to find some resources. Call your local library to see if they have a homeschool bookclub or group. If you belong to a church, ask if there are any homeschoolers that attend. Check out your local parks and recreation departments or your local Y. There are a ton of co-ops out there if you are looking for help with your curriculum or want to follow a specific plan. Also, most theatres and museums (art, science, history) will have some kind of homeschool program or discount. Take advantage of these!

3. Look ahead for activities to do outside of the house. Locate a few good hikes and a local nature center. Find out if there is a fair that comes to your area (I never knew about the fair until we started homeschooling. The fair is an amazing place to learn and spark new interests.) Find out if there is something that your child has always wanted to learn about and make some calls. We have a tough time narrowing things down! Our area has homeschool golf, tennis, PE, art, music, languages, horse back riding, hiking, biology, chemistry, geocaching, fishing-the list goes on! Many people have no idea that all of this is in their area!

4. Read. If your child does nothing but read the first year, go with it. Reading teaching children so much including the written language, grammar, spelling, and speech.

5. Relax! I think that relaxing is the hardest part of homeschooling. You do not have to hit every subject every day or every week. Your child will learn. You will go through multiple curriculums, find one that you like and then change it again. That is ok too. Breath. You will find out how complicated your life was and how relaxing life can be.

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