2012-2013 Curricula

Amber's 5th grade curricula. We are terribly excited to try all the new books this year. It is our first year selecting the curricula on our own, and we can't wait to see if this makes homeschooling an even bigger success.

Saxon Math 7/6  -Amber will be starting with Math 7/6 for 5th grade.  We used Math 6/5 as our summer math review and she is now ready to move on.

Language Arts:

Grammar - BJU English 5  -
It has a good study of grammar, and many writing assignments in various styles.  There is even creative writing assignments.  It does teach sentence diagramming as well.  The teacher's manual comes as a physical book and has extra practice pages and Keeping Up masters to help review grammar during the writing chapters.  I actually love the teacher's manual.  It also received very good reviews just about everywhere.  UPDATE (12/31/12):  We are keeping the grammar portion of this and one or two select writing assignments. The rest are being completed in writing curriculum.

Creative Writing- NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month - Young Writers Program -  (Completed)
Amber has shown a love and affinity for creative writing.  Originally, we were going to use Wordsmith Apprentice.  I even have the the curriculum.  But then I was reminded about the NaNoWriMo program, which even has a free downloadable PDF workbook to use for elementary or middle school level.  I let Amber choose between the two and she selected NaNoWriMo.  So, this year we will be using it for creative writing instead of Wordsmith Apprentice.

Poetry -
We are also going to start studying types of poetry and samples of poetry in each style. I selected to use A Child's Introduction to Poetry.  We will intersperse poetry with the Literature from below, starting first with types of poetry before moving on to well known poets. 

Literature -
Amber will also have assigned literature reading throughout the school year.   We have study guides from various publishers for each book.  Some are actually unit studies, but we will not being using all of the ideas in the guides.  Just some out of each to help us discuss and understand the books.

UPDATE (12/31/12): We made it through A Christmas Carol in the first semester of the year. Due to a re-vamping of the entire Language Arts / Reading curriculum, we are going to emphasize literature more and slow down our study of each book.  The list has been shortened and we probably won't finish what is listed here.  The remaining books will move to 6th grade.

Current list of planned books: (subject to change)
  • Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain (Completed)
  • Mrs. Frisby & the Rats of Nimh by Robert C. O'Brien (completed)
  • King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table by Roger Lancelyn Green (Completed)
  • The Extradordinary Cases of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Completed)
  • The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by  E.T.A. Hoffmann (Completed)
  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (Completed)
  • The Adventures of Robin Hood by Roger Lancelyn Green (Completed)
  • Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien 
  • (She's already read the Lord of the Rings trilogy for fun, but this may wait until 6th Grade)
  • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (put off indefinitely, perhaps summer reading)
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (moved to 6th grade)
  • Selections from Shakespeare (this is iffy.. depends on time)

Writing - 
We will start second semester of 5th grade using Writing with Skill, Level 1.  Amber needs work in advanced reading comprehension and with her writing skills.  I chose this curriculum because it will help with both, at a higher level than the Reading or English curriculum that we used first semester.  After a lot of research, closely working with Amber this past year, and a small trial change, I've decided to move to a more classical type of education for Amber.  We will never be strictly classical, but several subjects will greatly benefit from a style change.

Social Studies

BJU Heritage Studies 5 -  I think we are going to like this curriculum, but I have to say that Amber has really enjoyed the AO LIFEPAC History that she did last semester and this summer.  However, it doesn't include as much discussion and social studies as I'd like.  So, we are going to use Heritage Studies as our primary Social Studies / History curriculum.
Negative for this one is that it doesn't start until the late 1800's.  Amber has studied Colonial times, twice.  She has studied Native Americans, twice.  She has never studied the Civil War or anything directly past the Colonial times.    On the positive side it does study more than just the wars; it studies inventions and their effect on history. It studies World War I, the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, World War II, the Vietnam War, struggles over civil rights, the war on terror, Agfhanistan and Iraq wars, and immigration decisions. It also studies topics important to the world during those times not just the surface details about the main historical events.

Alpha Omega LIFEPAC 5th Grade History -
We used this for the last portion of 4th grade Social Studies because the curriculum from Amber's parochial school was just awful.  We knew there would be a timeline gap between what Amber had previously studied and where BJU Heritage Studies starts.
Amber also used it over the summer a few days a week, just because we always do something extra over the summer.

When we finally hit the point in time where the BJU Heritage Studies picks up, we will continue to use the LIFEPAC as additional detailed information.  I think between the two curricula we can get a good balance of historical details and social studies. Amber truly has enjoyed this curriculum and we may have to think about using the 6th grade version as well.

Election Unit Study by Amanda Bennett -
We will be taking the four weeks before the national elections to go through this unit study.  We will only be using it for our Social Studies class, so there are some of the activities that we will be leaving out.  We are both excited to start on this and it will be a good break from the other Social Studies curriculum.

BJU Science 6 -  I looked into the science courses at BJU and found they had the same topics in their 5th grade science as Amber had already done for 4th grade.  Most curriculum I looked at was this way.  Apparently, Amber was a year ahead in the parochial school.  Great.

I decided to use BJU Science 6 for 5th grade. It is clearly presented from a Christian and Creationist point of view. It comes with high reviews and I think we will be pleased. 

Update:  We are pleased with the science information in this curriculum.  It is a little preachy with biblical tie-ins, but that can be toned down.  What we are struggling with is the dry and "lame" activities.  Many are very predictable and some seem just like busy work.  Unfortunately, we will be looking for a different curriculum next year and are already supplementing the topics in it this year.

Elemental Science - Lapbooking Through the Periodic Table
We are using this as a supplement to the Atoms and Molecules chapter of BJU science.  It has fun activities / labs that are recommended, and has more to do than fill out worksheets.  It uses both the Usborne Illustrated Dictionary of Science and Fizz, Bubble & Flash as spines for the unit study.  It is designed to be a 13 week course, when used for younger grades.  It can be used as a supplement, as we are doing, for older children.  We are actually using it with a lesson per day, instead of one lesson per week. 


Building Thinking Skills Level 3 Figural from The Critical Thinking Company.
We've moved to a more classical style of education and given my background in science I really saw a need for more formal logic training in Amber's education.  This is a second semester start for us, and I plan for us to move slowly through this, probably only using it 2-3 times per week.

BJU Handwriting - 5th Grade -  At the last minute we changed our mind and went ahead with the BJU Handwriting.  We had intended to use A Reason for Handwriting, but after Amber looked over the handwriting styles she preferred the BJU to the current style she uses.
Go figure.  I assumed she'd prefer to continue her current style.  Turns out, she doesn't like the way some of the letters are formed and jumped at the chance to change.  I can't really blame her though, I don't write with a standardized cursive either, so we will go forward with the BJU for this year and see what it gets us. This might be her last year of handwriting anyway.

BJU Spelling - 5th Grade - I know we could probably just pull some words off the Internet and call Spelling done.  I'm just not at that point.  This curriculum from BJU not only provides spelling words to be learned but also studies word origin, dictionary usage, writing and structural patterns with words.  Amber has always been interested in where words came from. We have looked up many words and traced their history.  I believe this type of Spelling curriculum will interest her. She also doesn't have any trouble in spelling and needs it to have a little more than just words to spell.

The BJU Spelling for 6th grade also looks promising.  It studies word origins and that relationship with spelling.  It also studies Greek and Latin prefixes and their meanings.   Since Amber has chosen to take Latin (starting in 4th grade homeschool), this Spelling curriculum should also interest her.


BJU Reading 5 - This looks to be pretty standard fare.

The stories in this curriculum do seem interesting enough to keep Amber's attention and I'm sure it is no worse than the majority of the stuff out there. It does seem more structured than a lot of the curriculum I looked at.  I like the format they are using.

UPDATE (12/31/12):  Unfortunately, this curriculum just didn't work for us.  It is a perfectly fine curriculum, but it didn't suit our needs.  Amber's last asessement at the end of 4th grade showed her reading at an 11th grade level.  The BJU Reading 5 curriculum did not work on her specific needs for deeper reading comprehension past the 5th grade level.  We found there was no point to a curriculum that did not challenge her.  We have implemented an entirely different plan based in a Classical style education.  For second semester, we will no longer have a separate Reading subject, but it is all under the broad subject of Language Arts.

Foreign Language - Latin

Latin for Children - Primer A
We have already started this curriculum.  Amber was anxious to start her Latin lessons and I was happy to start her on anything she is that excited about.  Assuming this continues to go well, we will use it through Primer C.  We may take it slower than the curriculum suggests, just because I don't want to push her too far too fast.  

It comes with a student text book, an activity book, a Latin history reader, and a teacher's answer key book that also provides some lesson planning ideas.  There is also a 3 dvd set that has weekly lessons with a Latin professor and his students.  The DVD lessons correspond to the weekly chapters in the primer book.  The actual text from the book even appears on the screen while the lesson is being presented so we can follow along.  This really helps with pronunciation of words.

The curriculum also allows for the use of either classical or ecclesiastical pronunciation.  I think we will continue to concentrate on the classical pronunciation, but it is nice to have the option.

I feel a little unfaithful to the LCMS by doing this, but I've purchased a religion class curriculum for Amber and it's from the WELS (Wisconsin Synod Lutheran) publishing house.  It's called Faith Foundations Yr 1.  This curriculum is designed specifically for 5th grade, and not a broad age range in the upper elementary years.  It is a type of pre-catechism curriculum that includes real life applications and settings.  I do think we will probably supplement with Bible stories too, because there are so many that her religion curriculum have never focused on.   But I'm thrilled that I finally found something suitable and it is Lutheran. 


We have decided to do Art Appreciation along with actual art projects for 5th grade.  We will be using  A Child's History of Art: Painting and A Child's History of Art: Architecture.  I've read only good things about them and they look like a good basis to start an art appreciation class.  The pictures in the books are not in color, but they do come with color art cards as part of the set for each book.  We will also supplement as needed with some field trips to the Art Museum. 

Any ideas for the artistically impaired?   I don't have anything in particular that I'm looking at right now for this subject. We are currently using various projects that I've found in the Usbourne Complete Book of Art Ideas along with lots of crafts and fun things that we always intended to do together but never had time.  At some point we will have to do some real thought out art class though.  Art is important, but Amber and I are both drawing impaired and she has quite a poor view of her abilities complements of her parochial school art classes and the children there.  We are avoiding art projects that highlight her weaknesses for the time being.   Amber's dad has been blessed with the ability to draw well, so when it is time he will be the one to assist her with those types of projects.  We just aren't ready for them yet.


We really aren't doing anything additional for music than we had already been doing while she was in parochial school. Amber has been taking piano lessons from me since Kindergarten.  We did take a piano break for a large portion of 2nd grade because school work and competitive dancing took up too much time.  Now we definitely have time to make piano a priority.  We have been using the Faber Piano Adventures curriculum since Amber was 5. We started with My first Piano Adventure Levels A - C, but were then able to skip the Primer level. The curriculum has lesson, technique, theory, performance, and fun music books.  We've also moved into using the Developing Artist supplemental books. I am pleased with this curriculum and plan to complete the series.

Amber is also part of our church's chimes choir.  The choir practices once a week during the school year.  She will be in the chimes choir through 5th grade, at least.  After that it depends on how good she is if she can go on to another handbell choir.


  1. It looks like you're really organized already. I still have a few things left to figure out for the coming year. Hope you have a great year!

  2. Thanks for linking up with the Not Back To School Blog Hop. It's so exciting to see what everyone is doing. I like that you're stepping out a bit and choosing your own books to fit your learning style. I hope you can take a moment to come read about our choices and visit with my blog for a while :) (I'm your follower now, too! I'll be back!) You can find me at
    http://www.littlelearninglovies.com/wordpress/2012/08/05/not-back-to-school-blog-hopcurriculum-week/ See you there!

    1. Thanks! We are excited to start, but are getting a later start than planned. Hopefully this week.

  3. Hi again, sorry for asking you another question, but I purchased Saxon math and it looks good the only thing I am wondering is do you write in the textbook or do you copy it into a notebook?
    Thanks again

    1. From level 5/4 and up she has written on paper and not in the book. The earlier levels were designed to write in the book, but from 5/4 and up you should be writing on paper and not in the book.

  4. Oh, and how do the worksheets work? sorry for asking can't find any anwsers

    1. Do you mean the supplemental worksheets in the booklet that contains the tests too? Those are to help the students with their facts, based on the level.

      Amber used to do them frequently when she was younger to increase her fact speed. Now we just use them once in a while if she seems to need a review or when I want her to practice a topic, like fraction reduction.