Curricula 2014-2015 - 6th Grade

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Okay y'all, this is just getting too serious for me now. I officially have a 6th grader...a middle-schooler...a tween-ager. As I looked at his pile of books today, I realized even more the responsibility I have set before me. Fortunately homeschool, like life, comes in stages. If I had to plan for 6th grade back when my kids were still in diapers I would have had a full blown panic attack. Each new year adds more challenge, and this year will not be a piece of cake. I think Aedan is ready for it though. Summer is coming to a close, and I think I'm finally ready for our coming school year. I've been chipping away at organizing school for months, and somehow August is creeping up a little to fast for me. This year we will be part of a Co-Op on Fridays. I will miss having my 5th day to catch up, but I think the kids are going to have a great time with it. 

So here goes...these are our plans for the coming year!

This year we will continue our homeschool journey with Heart of Dakota Resurrection to Reformation. Sometimes I still look longingly at other pick and choose curricula, but this is just working so well for my family. Why mess with a good thing? The binder on the left is Aedan's student notebook. It includes almost everything he will need to accomplish the HOD guide plans. I will write another post on how I organized it all. The middle book is my own personal teacher schedule. I stick to many of the plans in the guide, but I veer enough that I need it for accountability. On the right is the main teacher guide for HOD RtR. I have cut off the binding, 3 hole punched it, and placed it in a binder. I will about 4-6 weeks of the guide to place in a separate binder for Aedan to do his independent work.

This year in history we will be studying the period from the Resurrection of Christ to the Reformation of the Church. I'm excited to be learning about the Middle Ages, and Church history along side Aedan. This is HOD RtR's Economy Package. It includes the history spines, geography, penmanship/drawing, art appreciation, Bible study, and Shakespeare study.

Every year I get my student notebook pages and am wowed. Aedan enjoyed looking over his hard work from last year on his pages. Some people feel the spaces are too small to write in on these pages. Fortunately, Aedan has pretty small handwriting. He's never had trouble fitting his narrations. There is also a beautiful set of Shakespeare pages that will go along with our study.

This is the HOD RtR Basic Package. These readers will flesh out our studies of the main figures of the time period we are studying. I love this aspect of HOD; that we don't only read from textbooks, but also read from living history books that are age appropriate and interesting.

This is the HOD RtR Extension Package. Aedan has always read the extensions. This year he is not officially in the extension range. I actually had planned to not have him read these this year, but there are a few that I think I don't want him to miss. I reserve the right to be a mean mom and have him read a few right?

This is the Science Add-On Package. Aedan absolutely loves Apologia science, so I know he'll enjoy this year. There were two options for science, and I couldn't decide, so I got both. When we get to Exploring Planet Earth, I will let him choose whether he'd like to read that or Our Weather and Water. I'm prepared for either. He may opt to read both because science is favorite thing to do besides art.

This year I agonized about Grammar. Because I pulled Aedan out of public school for 4th grade, I struggled where to place him at first. We did R&S level 3 for 4th because he had little grammar instruction up till that point. I tried skipping level 4, and going into 5 last year, but he just wasn't ready for it. I decided to go with the HOD plans to do R&S 4 half pace though the year we did CtC, and the other half through HOD RtR this year. This year he will complete level 4, and do level 5 & 6 for grade 7 and 8. He will be on track to get to level 7 by the high school guides. It's hard for me to see the 4 on the book, but R&S is advanced. Level 7 is scheduled for 9th and 10th grade in fact. I actually bought all of CLE 5 language arts thinking I could be easier on myself with a workbook format. In the end I decided to go with what I already know is working. Now, there you have it, a glimpse into my planning brain. Spooky right?! We have used R&S spelling for the past few years. I love it, but this year it hit the textbook level. I don't want to fuss with it. Aedan is an excellent speller, so we will continue HOD dictation. If I see his spelling suffer, we will add in a formal program.

We will continue to study poetry this year. In RtR we will read the poetry of Emily Dickinson. A mom on the HOD Facebook group made really awesome poetry pages to go along with our studies. I copied the poetry in the back of the guide, and made this poetry book to make it easier for him to do his work without fussing with the guide.

Writing was another subject I really struggled with. I'm not one to stick with everything HOD suggests. I was not excited about the plans to do IEW Medieval Writing Lessons. We did it last year for a while with Silas before I ultimately dumped it. It just felt too forced, stuffy, and way too left brained for this right brained family. After talking to a friend of mine who is a former teacher (and who's opinion I highly value) I decided to give IEW a try. Her son is also doing RtR this year. She felt IEW teaches writing that we wouldn't necessarily enjoy teaching, but it does teach skills that are valuable for the future. I like that it includes a vocabulary study, and teaches outline writing. I am going to give it a fair shot. My backup plan is to use Brave Writer's Faltering Ownership when it comes out in the fall if this doesn't work.

 Speaking of Brave Writer, I've had a homeschool crush on Julie from BW for a long time. I'm sure her kids write her sonnets on Mother's Day, but I digress. I bought The Writer's Jungle a few years ago. I read it by the pool, and thought, "Now this is what writing is supposed to be like." The problem was she hadn't yet released her implementation programs. Silas will be using Partnership Writing next year, but Aedan's level , Faltering Ownership, is not yet released. I can't wait to get my hands on it! Until then, I've decided to implement part of what Julie calls "The Brave Writer Lifestyle." We will have Poetry Teatimes, and will be using dumping Drawn into the Heart of Reading for Arrow and Boomerang books.

While I love HOD DITHOR books, I feel like they are sometimes a little prissy if that makes any sense. My kids are (insanely) imaginative, full of life, and love stories of courage and of other worlds no one has ever seen. Sometimes those stories aren't as pretty as protective parents want them to be. I may be stepping on toes here, but literature is one of my greatest loves. There are just too many good books out there to miss. It was really hard to narrow them down! I don't have Arrow or Boomerang issues for all these books, but I do have most of them. Instead of doing the DITHOR workbook, we will discuss the books Brave Writer style.

 These are the books Aedan will read this year. Aedan is a huge reader, but he mostly enjoys non-fiction science type books. I'm hoping to capture his boyhood imagination and love of nature with a few of these titles.

We will continue math with Christian Light. I am still dragging Aedan back up to speed after being in school, but he is making progress. He is halfway through the 5th grade workbooks, and will be halfway into the 6th grade workbooks by the end of the year.

I didn't write these into my schedule, but if I feel geography is lacking or Aedan's penmanship is getting messy I may add these in. I don't think that will be necessary though.

Aaaaand PHEW! Here's to another great year! I hope to share with you soon how I organized RtR soon!


  1. It looks great, Tara! I'm excited for you and your son as it looks like a great year of learning. Did you pick up all of the extension books? Maybe you want to read a few! ;)

  2. I do have all the extension books :) I will probably read them. I have read quite a few of the other books, but we'll see if I get to them all!

  3. Tara, everything looks great. I always like to see your homeschool line up and organization. I do have a question, how did you do R&D at half speed? Was it the oral lesson one day and written portion the next?

    1. HOD schedules Rod & Staff level 4 or 5 in CtC and RtR. They are only scheduled 2 days per week rather than 4. That's why it takes 2 years to get through it. There is also grammar in IEW, and plenty of writing in this guide.

  4. Just wanted to give you a heads up. My daughter did this program, with extensions, in 7th grade. She's an advanced reader, and I thought nothing of assigning the extension readings just as they were set forth in the manual.
    The first book, From Bondage to Freedom, threw us both for a loop. Unless your child already has a working knowledge of European history, the history of Islam, and the structure and history of the Catholic Church, I'd recommend not reading this book at the beginning of the year. My daughter had literally no background knowledge with which to comprehend this book. She didn't have trouble with the other books from the extensions, but this one we had to put aside until later, when those topics had been covered. Even as a read-aloud (which was how we eventually used it), she couldn't comprehend it until several weeks into the program.

    1. Thank you for your input! I didn't plan on having him read that one anyway. Definitely thought that would be over his head. I'm very likely to not have him read any because he has plenty of other books to read. I wanted to start the year off with as few extras as possible. Your opinion reaffirms that. Thanks so much!

  5. Hey there.. I am researching HOD for my 2 boys for next year and I found your blog... my question is on average how much time per day does it seem to take your soon to get through his work? We are looking at doing CTC for our 6th grader and Rev to Rev for my 8th grader :)

  6. We start our day at 8 and are usually done no later than one. That includes a 30 minute snack break. Sometimes we are done by lunch. Other days we may have one or 2 things to finish after, so on average around 4 - 4 1/2 hours. We start Rev to Rev next year. I'm thinking the science might add around 30 minutes extra to our day. We sometimes carry projects or a science experiment over to our 5th day. Hope you have a great year!

  7. Thank you so much! I can't wait to use your organizing ideas!!! Excited to have my boys working a little more independently! Have you found it difficult managing 2 different plans at the same time? I had always been of the mindset we both study the same time period at the same time, but think it will be best to put my younger 6th grader in CTC first and my 8th grader in Rev. to Rev.

  8. I know it is a hard shift to learning separately. I actually find that it is much easier than when they were together. The middle guides of HOD have so much independence built in that I can focus on each boy when the other one is working independently. They still always join one another for projects or experiments. My oldest always sits in on his brother's storytime books. There is still so much time spent together that it doesn't really feel like they are separated.


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