Curricula - 2017-2018 - 6th Grade - Silas

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

It happens every year. We feel completely unprepared to go give up the work-free days of summer, but all of a sudden we all are ready to go back to school. We had a very quiet June which gave us plenty of time to recover from our school days, but July came in and all of a sudden our days were full of activity, trips, and time with friends with family. It has been a great summer, but it will be nice to return to the rhythm of our school days.

This year we will be walking through the Middle Ages and Renaissance. We briefly covered this period a few years ago, but I'm looking forward to doing it this time with HOD Resurrection to Reformation. This will be my second time through this guide, and I'm really looking forward to our school discussions this year! One of the things I absolutely love about Heart of Dakota is that there are always stories of brave Christian men and women sprinkled throughout the dark days of wars and other difficult events throughout history. HOD has done such a great time of showing how God was working through his people to bring light and hope into the broken world. He still is.

I really enjoyed the history spines that cover the history in this period. Silas will spend about 15 weeks on the Middle Ages and then will cover the Renaissance using Mystery of History. He really enjoyed listening to the What in the World? audio retelling of history last year. I love how there is a great variety of books in HOD. It is nice to hear more than one voice throughout the year.

One of our favorite parts of the day is story time. I subbed out a few books this year as we read them a few years before. I look forward to sharing these stories with Silas.

Both of my boys have always been on the high end of the age range for the guides. There are extension packages included to add to your history studies for most HOD guides up through middle school. Silas will read a handful of these as they are too good to miss.

After going through a guide once I always have ideas of what would be fun to do the next time. I asked Silas what he looks forward to the most in our school days. He said that his very favorite thing we have done was to have parties with food and friends. I plan to have a medieval feast with friends this fall to share in what we are studying. I'm also hoping to do another Narnia gathering with friends in the winter. This little book had lots of great ideas for food and activities for this period of history.

Art Appreciation is scheduled once a week in this guide. I absolutely love all the beautiful pictures included in the student notebook and the Looking at Pictures book. A wonderful HOD mom shared a file with all the images we will study this year. I printed and bound it in a book so we can take a closer look at each image. Both of my boys are such artists, so it's fun to share the works of the masters with them. I think God knew how much I would delight in boys who are always up to making things. Their creativity is such a gift to me each day.

I can't wait to study Shakespeare again! We will read through half of a Shakespeare play each week. Aedan still remembers many of the stories from when he read them 3 years ago. This book is truly such a gem. I am hoping we get a chance to see a Shakespeare play this year.

This year we will study the poetry of Emily Dickinson. I love that the HOD guides all have poetry built in. Each week we will study a poem a week as well as memorize a handful throughout the year. These Poetry for Young People books are great btw. If there is one for one of the poets we have study that year I try to add it to our library. It's neat seeing an artist's representation of a poem. We also try to do poetry tea time. This summer we did a few as a family and it was even more fun. My husband is a great poetry reader!

Heart of Dakota uses Map Trek and the World History Atlas for geography. The maps place the events of history and people on the map. Over the past few years we have also added in Simply Charlotte Mason's Visits series. We will cover the continent of Asia once a week this year. The last few years we have cooked food from the places we are learning about when we can. Silas especially loves this! He has become such a great help to me in the kitchen.

This year our Bible study will focus on the book of Philippians. Silas will also memorize Philippians 1 for scripture memory as well. This is such a wonderful book to soak your soul in. You can never read it too many times in my opinion.

Twice a week there is a devotional using these resources. I absolutely love the Boyhood and Beyond book. The other two books deal with how our bodies change as we grow. Silas is starting to look far more like a young man than a boy these days.

Can I tell you a secret about writing programs? I kind of love all of them. What I have learned about myself and the boys is that it's nice to have the freedom to switch it up. There are times we might do a more structured approach with IEW. Learning the IEW way has been invaluable for approaching written narrations. However, there are times you might want nothing but freedom. Brave Writer is fantastic for times when you just want to have fun. It makes writing not feel like work. My boys love doing BW free writes and projects. We have also enjoyed Writing Strands as well. Silas enjoyed the daily lessons written directly to him. So our (plan) is to play it all by ear. This approach worked wonderfully last year.

Good ol' Rod & Staff always makes the list for grammar. This year we will complete book 5. We tried Fix It! for a while last year, but as I looked at the following books I realized that wasn't the approach that made sense for us. We were happy to come back to the familiar and mostly oral lessons of R&S.

We used Rod & Staff spelling for a few years and liked it. I decided to return to All About Spelling for a while, and then we did Phonetic Zoo last year. When I was at our homeschool convention I picked these books back up. I like how it teaches rules but is mostly independent (and affordable.) Silas is already a great speller. After years of All About Spelling and HOD dictation he could probably drop formal spelling, but I think we will do one more year. The boys started moaning for the first time last year about dictation. I am a firm believer in it, but I had to admit that I would love a break from it too after 5 years. We may return to it next year, but we will enjoy a hiatus from it this year.

I can't wait to tell you more about Teaching the Classics and Reading Roadmaps! I'm currently working on the review. We will read the many books from the Reading Roadmaps list for literature and discuss the the books using Teaching the Classics Socratic discussion questions.

We will continue our study of math with Singapore Primary Mathematics. I had played with the idea of skipping the level 6 books and move on to Pre-Algebra, but I decided we will go ahead and complete these books first. We love the short but challenging lessons. This program has definitely served Silas well.

We will also continue through Life of Fred. Silas has always loved Fred! I hope we can find a way to still use it through the years. He says I can never sell our Fred books because he wants them for his kids someday.

Astronomy and earth science are scheduled in our HOD guide this year, but we used those resources last year per Silas's request. This year he wanted to learn anatomy. He has been asking to use this Apologia anatomy book for forever, so I'm glad we had a year to give him that opportunity. We didn't get the chance to read The History of Medicine last year in Creation to Christ, so I decided to re-buy it to use this year. Blood and Guts will add some more experiment ideas. I decided against purchasing the Apologia notebook this year and instead made and printed simple notebook pages to go with our study. This will be a really fun science year!

That's all she wrote! Well almost. I pray God's blessing over your year as I do ours. Please drop me a note if you ever need help or just to share how it's going with you. I adore hearing from you!


  1. Hi Tara! Your organization posts are extremely helpful in planning our years! This year we will be using Res to Ref for my sixth grader as well and I'd love to use the Charlotte Mason Visits with our Geography! Do you feel like Asia is the best option to coordinate with the Res to Ref guide? They all look so great, and I definitely want to purchase the one that would coordinate the best. Thanks so much again for all of your help!

    1. I'm so happy to know those posts have been helpful to you :) I actually think Visits to Europe might be a more suited match for RtR. We did it a few years back, or I would do that. Asia works well in some ways as we do cover some of those parts of the world this year. Asia is largely absent in so many history programs, so it will be nice to cover it this year.

    2. Thank you soo much! That's exactly what I was thinking!! We did a unit study on Asia when we traveled to china to meet and get our son, so I think Europe would be perfect for this year! Thank you for that affirmation! 💙

  2. You make Heart of Dakota look fabulous. I love the look of the Philippians Bible study. It's so hard for me to find good studies geared to kids.

    1. It has always been a good fit for our family this far. I'll stick with it for as long as we can :)

  3. Hi Tara,
    Curious where did you come across the download for the picture study? I've looked at Yahoo and also the HOD message board, but with over 200 pages in the RtR section, I have to admit, I did not look at every one!

    1. It was uploaded to the RtR Facebook group :)

  4. This all looks wonderful. We will be using many of HOD's RTR books this year and are really looking forward to it. Are you willing to share your anatomy notebooking pages? That's what my 6th grade girl is hoping to study as well. :)

  5. I've missed your blog posts! I'm enjoying some moments of rest and visiting my blog friends that I have missed so dearly (although I've kept up with all on a reader). It's fun to "see" the blogs again and not just a scrolling feed.

    Happy New Year!


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