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6th Grade Year in Review – Homeschool Curriculum Choices

Hands-down Zachary’s favorite subject again for the year was science (and much of that was tied into what he worked on with EEME). Another close second for him was his work with Who is God?  and Who Am I? This boy loves any activity that a project can be added to for him to DO instead of observe. 

I hope you’ll indulge me a little as I’m writing these year-end posts. They help my brain process our year and also answer some reader questions when people want to know what our thoughts were on some of our choices. You can see all of our 6th grade curriculum choices in this post here, but below is a more in depth look at what we used for Zachary this past year and how it worked overall. 

The 6th Grade Year Plan…

Here’s a quick look at the overall plan for our 6th grade year…

Science

As I mentioned earlier, science is hands-down one of Zachary’s favorite subject areas. This year he switched over to a two year program using Rainbow Science Year 1. It’s a program we’ve used with both of our girls and had great success with. One of the big parts of this was Zachary working almost completely independently. He had two days of reading followed by a lab or experiment. This was VERY successful for him and he ended up finishing his program almost two months early (no small feat for a boy who struggles to stay on task!). 

In addition to Rainbow Science Year 1, he worked on several projects with EEME. These were HUGELY favored, especially since he began working on more robotics (check out Q the Robot for sure!). Because he is a hands-on kiddo, he also created a lot with Legos, Little Bits, Sphero, and pretty much anything else we had on hand. :) 

Essentially this means that our science for next year is already figured out. We will continue with Rainbow Science and work on EEME projects as they become available! 

 

Reading & Read-Alouds

Reading was one area we struggled a little bit more with this year. At the beginning of the year I set up a list of books for him, and while we did get through all of them, it wasn’t without….incident. His idea of what constitutes a reading list vs. my idea has a wide area of difference. :) 

There were days when we struggled to get him to focus in on an assigned book. He definitely would like more control over the books on the list and we had several talks about his personal reading choices vs. assigned school reading – and why those two are different. After reading most of the books, he would complete a book report  and we would discuss key points of the book using this helpful guide.

That said, his personal reading time grew by leaps and bounds this year. Typically he isn’t a “for pleasure” reader, but there were several series that he either re-read in a very short time or started and loved. 

Math

Teaching Textbooks is definitely another program we plan to use next year with Zachary. It has been a perfect fit for our family. Math may not be his favorite subject, but he does enjoy it much more when we use this program. :) And so do I!

History

This year we switched up our history a bit and followed along with Laurianna in her US History learning so we could go on field trips together. Another bonus was using the same book as friends were using so we could work on a few projects together. 

Each week we spent an afternoon together reading, creating, and learning – which was definitely fun. :) One of the activities we did was making a simple compass

Writing & Grammar

Turns out our writing curriculum this year also had grammar included in it – something I neglected to process until about 2 months into the school year. Zachary still continued on with Growing with Grammar 6 , even though Writers in Residence would have been enough. My theory with this boy is he can use all the extra help he can get (and he didn’t complain, so there’s that too). I’ll be sharing more about this particular curriculum soon and overall loved the layout. 

Spelling

For All About Spelling we typically worked on one lesson a week (a few chunks where we did every other week). We didn’t push hard, but over the last year he has shown remarkable improvement in both spelling and reading but did see huge improvements in the area. For those of you who know me well, you know that it is our favorite homeschool spelling program, hands down!

Bible

One of the other subjects Zachary really enjoyed was Bible using the What We Believe series. I mentioned that we used it a little differently (he isn’t huge into notebooking), but he did enjoy the two books in the series he worked through. 

Art (via co-0p)

One of the classes Zachary had this year focused on different art techniques. One of the kids favorites was learning about fondant icing – because, HELLO FOOD. 

Other Activities  

Swim was (and continues to be) a sport the kids love participating in. Through January they participated in a local swim team and then moved to summer league. We will likely participate again in the fall, but it’s tough with the timeframe (it’s a lot of driving to two different pools for us). 
 
 
Boy Scouts has been another area of HUGE interest for Zachary. He recently completed all he needed to achieve First Class status and wants to hit Eagle Scout by the time he is 16 (his goal). He only joined this past year, but has truly jumped in running! This year he had multiple camping trips, day hikes, and projects to work through – and he loves it. :)
 

Other Year-end Reviews

 
Take a peek at our year end review for 4th grade. I’ll be sharing our 8th and 10th grade soon, so be sure to check back – as well as our plans for the upcoming year!  

Teaching Shakespeare to Your Kids

Reading Shakespeare can seem a bit like a foreign language to both children and parents. Despite having studied (and loved) Shakespeare in college, teaching it has been a bit daunting. I don’t want our kids to just read it, muddle through, and not really appreciate it and all the subtleties each work contains. Granted that’s true of any piece of literature our children read, but works by Shakespeare tend to seem even more overwhelming because of the format and language.

A few weeks ago I picked up a book  How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare by Ken Ludwig (aff link), dragged it along with me through multiple airports, and FELL IN LOVE. You all, if you have ever doubted your ability to form a way to work on Shakespeare with your kids, you need to check out this book. Yes, you will have to read the actual book itself, but it has a plethora of information inside (I promise, it’s worth it). Technically, there are a few chapters you really want to read first and the remainder you could skim through unless you are studying those plays (definitely read the intro and chapters 1 – 6, 10, 14, 21, 31, and the epilogue), but I would recommend reading the entire book.Personally I would recommend a hard copy of this book (instead of Kindle) because it’s a book you will likely do a lot of flipping around back and forth.

Ludwig believes the younger you start kids learning and memorizing the better. While memorizing seems daunting, he breaks down the process, making it manageable and even something young children can work on. In addition to memorization techniques, Ludwig talks about Shakespeare’s life and history, components of Shakespeare’s plays (imagery, humor, poetry/prose, metaphors), and so much more.

While not an exhaustive look at all of his plays (Shakespeare wrote many!), the insight Ludwig provides into the various works is very helpful and will prompt some great discussion. In addition to delving into the reason for his book, how to use it, and giving a biography of Shakespeare’s life and works, a variety of Shakespeare’s plays are discussed in detail:

  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  • Twelfth Nigh
  • Romeo and Juliet
  • Macbeth
  • Henry IV, Part 1
  • As You Like It
  • Henry V
  • Hamlet
  • The Tempest

This year is the third year that I have taught a high school literature course as a part of a small co-op we belong to, and each year we have discussed one of Shakespeare’s plays and also attended a nearby Shakespeare production (more on that in a bit). Rarely do the play we are studying and the performance line up to be the same, and this year was no exception. We are studying The Tempest and the one performance we could attend was Romeo and Juliet. While I have quite a few notes and guides for each play, I loved the chapters of help on the both plays that Ludwig provides in How to Teach Your Children ShakespeareEach chapter offered some different insights and discussion ideas for our class (and a little something “fresh” for me to ponder as well). 

Understanding the Language of Shakespeare

Even if you understand the plot of one of Shakespeare’s plays, muddling through the language of the day can be hard for kids. There are key words and phrases that are interpreted differently today or than how we think they were written. A few resources I highly recommend are the No Fear Shakespeare guides or the Shakespeare Made Easy series which both offer the original words of a text on one page and then a modern day translation on the facing page so kids can better understand what is happening. While we go over and review various phrases in class with the kids, these have been extremely helpful for kids when reading through on their own.


Go See a Play (or Watch One) with Your Kids

We are also fortunate to have an incredible Shakespeare theatre not too far from us. Each month they offer student matinees and a “talkback time” with the actors after the show is over and we love to take advantage of their acting and knowledge. The theatre we visit is a recreation of Shakespeare’s indoor theatre and the actors and actresses are fabulous.  It’s one thing to read a play, but seeing it come to life in front of you is a completely different thing! The subtle delivery of a line or the mannerisms that go along with a monologue can completely change the meaning and understanding of a scene (body language speaks volumes). 

If you have a theatre nearby, I highly recommend taking time out of your day to attend with your kids (granted, remember that Shakespeare has quite a few innuendoes in his plays that may not be suitable for younger kids, but often pass over their heads as well). Our high school group laughed and followed the bulk of the performance we saw, but at times the dialogue moved so quickly some parts were lost on the kids. Still, it brought a deeper level of respect and understanding of Shakespeare to the kids, and they went home not dreading their upcoming reading as much (and that’s a win in my book!). 

A Few (Fun) Additional Resources


While reading the actual plays are key, above (and below) you’ll find a few other fun resources to go along with your Shakespeare studies. 

Our 6th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices

6th grade homeschool curriculum choices 2016 from Homeschool Creations

This year we have some familiar programs coming back to the desk and have one new (fresh off the presses) program as well. Zachary’s going to have a little more responsibility on his plate. Last year was stretching for him, and when I asked him what he wanted most this year, the answer was focus. (I’ll amen that.)

We had great intentions of geography last year, so this year we are definitely targeting that area together with his younger brother. Friends of ours are also studying US History, as well as Laurianna our 10th grader, and our intent in history is to work on a similar cycle with the boys so we can tie in some field trips with another family. Granted, we don’t really need to have every field trip go-along with with the era of history we are studying, but it does make it more fun! 

Zachary is moving away from our workbox system this year as well and trying to manage his own paperwork. It’s a step back for me and a more hands-off approach, but it’s something we both felt he needed – taking control of his ‘stuff’ so we could let go of some of the mental battle with each other. I don’t know if that makes complete sense, but suffice it to say, it’s a battleground some days and we will see how it goes. 

6th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices

Here’s a look at the overall plan for our 6th grade year…

While Zachary isn’t necessarily thrilled at all the curriculum at his disposal (grins), he is looking forward to his new science program – and I’m looking forward to see how he likes Writers in Residence this year. History is also shaping up to be fun since our friends are doing it alongside us, meaning the boys will have projects to work on together as well. 

The ‘extra’ incentive of EEME is also something motivating for Zachary. While it technically is science, he works on his projects from them when he is done with his day-to-day subjects. He likes to keep the most recent box on his desk to remind him of what is coming! 

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One thing Zachary asked me to do this year – make him his own mini-planner of sorts. I printed off about 10 copies (front/back) of the daily assignment sheet I made for him last year, had it spiral bound for about $3, and he is using that to track his school work. He wasn’t quite ready for a full student planner yet like his sisters, and this is enough to help keep him accountable and make sure he is getting the things finished he needs to. It’s so tiny and cute – perfect for him. :)

Co-op Learning

Art isn’t necessarily Zachary’s favorite subject, so having it as part of co-op this year and being able to work on projects with friends may help sweeten the pot for him. Twice a month he will be getting together with a small group of middle schoolers to work on the following classes. 

  • Mad Scientists Club – kids will be reading short stories from this book and also working on go-along experiments. Last year they also completed a science fair project – FUN! 
  • Art – learning about a different artist and art technique each week/month. We’re still figuring out the best method of attack for this one. 

Curriculum in Year’s Past

In case you are interested in seeing the curriculum that brought us to this point, here’s a peek at what we’ve used with McKenna the past few years:

If you are new to homeschooling and aren’t sure where to begin in choosing homeschool curriculum, please don’t let this post overwhelm you! Check out the entire Homeschool Basics series for answers to more frequently asked homeschool questions.

See What the Other Kids Are Up To…

Click any of the images below to see our homeschool picks for the current school year. You’ll also find links to past years choices in each post. 

4th grade homeschool curriculum choices - from Homeschool Creations 6th grade homeschool curriculum choices 2016 from Homeschool Creations 8th grade homeschool curriculum choices 2016 10th grade homeschool curriculum choices from Homeschool Creations 2016

Student Planner PDF Download – TWO Choices! (and a SALE!)

Two choices of student planners from Homeschool Creations - help get your student on track_edited-4

Last fall I shared the student planner I had created for our daughters and after a full year of using it, both she and her sister decided they love it! It has been a perfect fit for our family, but several of you emailed and asked if there was another graphic option available – because a few sons felt it wasn’t quite for them. 

After some digging, we found one that our family loved, so another graphic choice for the Student Planner is now available – yay! To celebrate, be sure to read through to the bottom of the post because we are having a sale for one week only! 

About the Student Planners

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The planners are undated, so you can save the file to your computer and reprint them year after year. At the back of the planner you’ll even find a link to a ‘secret’ page where you can download bonus pages to go along with the planner (and if you have a suggestion, feel free to email me and ask!). 

Want a peek inside? I promise it’s super simple – because we found we really didn’t need so much extra stuff, full of color, and ready to download and print. This is a look at our planner from last year (the circle graphic version). 

Email subscribers can watch the video here.

A quick note: I figured out that our printer will print BORDERLESS. It was one of the paper choices in settings. In the video you’ll see some of the pages that we experiments with (ones that were or weren’t printed all the way to the edge). Our front and back covers were printed onto cardstock and then laminated for extra durability. We use a heavy weight paper (24 lb.) to print the planner and make the pages a little thicker.

The Student Planner contains:

Weekly Student Planner layout from Homeschool Creations

  • 8 1/2” x 11” undated pages – use it year after year!
  • year at a glance dates
  • student information and schedule page
  • 12 blank monthly planning pages
  • weekly planning pages for 8 subjects
  • planning for every day of the week (smaller spaces for Saturday/Sunday)
  • goals, notes, and ‘what I learned’ section
  • tracking for books read
  • 2 layouts: August through July or January through December
  • link to a password protected page where you can download updated calendars and bonus pages for the planners

Two Great Designs

Choose the student planner that best fits your family’s needs – or choose both (there’s a special bundle price for purchasing two).

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The abstract circle graphic student planner features the colors green, dark blue, and a turquoise blue color for the monthly layouts. 

Student Planner collage hexagon_edited-1

The hexagon graphic student planner features the same inside layout with the colors green, orange, and a medium blue for the weekly layouts. 

Purchase a Student Planner

Each student planner is undated so you have the option of printing off a new copy each year. Each planner is available for $10 and you are more than welcome to print off copies for each of your children – this year and in years to come. Purchase both planners together in a bundle and save even more! There are THREE different purchase options.

Memorial Day Printables – Free Printables

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Every year families around the country gather for parades and get-togethers to observe Memorial Day, but do we fully understand the history behind Memorial Day? Over the last bit, we’ve been talking about how the holiday first began. 

To go along with our learning, I put together a set of Memorial Day Printables to use with our kids this upcoming week, and I am more than happy to share them with you all!

The Memorial Day Printables include thirteen pages of copywork, trivia cards, a word find, and coloring pages – a little something for kids of all ages. 

Memorial Day printables from Homeschool Creations Memorial Day printables from Homeschool Creations-2
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The below clip from the History Channel has a quick history of the holiday as well…

Books for Kids About Memorial Day

 


Ready to Download? 

Feel free to download a copy of the Memorial Day printables by clicking on the download button below! :) Enjoy!

Are you planning to do anything special to celebrate Memorial Day? Share your ideas with us in the comments below.

 

Download button

 

Don’t Miss These Printables

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You may also enjoy these Constitution Day printables as well in the upcoming months.