Charlotte Mason Homeschool: Our Plans for Sixth Grade
It is much to be wished that thoughtful mothers would more often keep account of the methods they employ with their children, with some definite note of the success of this or that plan.CHARLOTTE MASON (HOME EDUCATION)
As I started planning this year, I realized that this is the last year before we are at the halfway mark of B’s education. Of course, because I’m sentimental to a fault, this made me a little sad. On the other hand, I was also so thankful that we spent the last five years (plus kindergarten) of his education together every single day with no plans for that to change any time soon. As with many homeschoolers, when we first started this adventure back in 2016, I always held it in the back of my mind that we would take it year by year while also keeping the idea of enrolling him in a brick-and-mortar school as our backup plan. Six years later, I can’t imagine either of my kids being educated any other way, and I’m thankful that this is the path we took.
With all that said, we begin Year 6 of AmblesideOnline next Monday. The Advisory describes this year as “a transition year between the education of childhood and the challenging education of the upper years,” and I think this is true not only in the material being covered (particularly WW1 and WW2) but also in the reading load. B began reading a few of his books on his own (with me pre-reading and him narrating to me when he was done) in Year 4, then increased to an average of six per week last year, and this year will be an average of eight. He’ll also be adding one more written narration to his weekly assignments but also learning to type, so I’m hoping those written narrations will be easier for him to do.
I know I’ll get some pushback from him for the extra reading and any other new things. But as Mystie Winckler suggests, I’m trying to be gently impervious while still encouraging him to do the hard things, which he generally does. I’m excited to see how we both grow this year.
We’ll be continuing Morning Time with the schedule we used at the end of last year, but I will probably make changes later on. I have added quite a few more things to our rotation overall this year that are for both kids and could conceivably be done during Morning Time, but when I’ve added too much to it in the past, it has given our days a rocky start. Here is the schedule we will begin with this year, and any changes I make will be noted in my year-end recap post.
- Monday/Wednesday: hymn
- Tuesday/Thursday: folksong
- Monday: a single reading from The Book of Virtues (we’re still making our way through the section on courage)
- Tuesday: Picture Study (see below for more details)
- Wednesday: five minutes from one of the seasonal books listed above
- Thursday: Composer Study (see below for more details)
- Lord’s Prayer
This year we will have an Old Testament reading, a New Testament reading, a Psalm, and a Proverb nearly every week (some weeks will not have a NT selection). I plan to spread these out over the week with OT on Mondays, NT on Tuesdays, the Psalm on Wednesdays, and Proverb on Thursdays, at least in the beginning. If I find that our OT/NT readings are too much for our 20-minute Bible lesson time, or that the Psalm and Proverb readings are better accompanying the other selections, I’ll adjust as needed.
There is a slight change this year also in that there is no commentary to go with any of the OT readings, and after Term 1 (which uses The Road to Jerusalem), there is none for the NT readings either. I’m not sure if I want to try and find a new commentary for these readings, rely on my old J. Paterson Smyth commentaries (at least for the OT readings), or not bother with commentaries. I really did appreciate the Smyth books early on, but I also fell behind in pre-reading the commentaries last year, so it may just work out that I don’t do it this year. We’ll see.
History & Biography
We’re getting into the modern age and will begin this year with World War I, which I think will be interesting for both of us. I enjoyed The Story of the World, Volume IV last year and thought Bauer did a fantastic job of writing in a living way as well as covering so many different parts of the globe. I know we both learned a lot from it.
* Changes: I’m making a few changes to our history/biography selections in that we’ll be skipping Trial & Triumph and Genesis, Finding Our Roots. Instead, in the last half of Term 2 and all of Term 3, we’re going to tentatively read Ben-Hur (I’m going to pre-read it to see if I think it’ll work for us) as suggested by AO for those skipping Genesis, Finding Our Roots.
I’ll also be adding some free reads from the Stories of Color book lists for this time period that are age appropriate. I’ll share that list at the end of the year.
I fell behind in our Age of Fable readings at the end of last year, so we’ll have some catching up at the beginning of this year. Fortunately, they don’t take too long, so I can usually get more than one in per reading session.
I’m very excited for B to read The Hobbit this year! We started listening to the audiobook during our road trip to Utah in April but didn’t finish it, so I’m glad he’ll get to know the ending. I’m also interested in Animal Farm as I’ve never read any George Orwell books, but my husband remembers liking this one when he read it in sixth grade.
Term 1: Folger Shakespeare Library: Henry V (and Arkangel Recording)
Term 2: Folger Shakespeare Library: Coriolanus (and Arkangel Recording)
Term 3: Folger Shakespeare Library: The Merchant of Venice (and Arkangel Recording)
We’ll continue with listening to the Arkangel recording of our plays while reading the text together. I am thankful to Jen @ Bookish Family for telling me about the free Folgers texts online! I printed out our first play and put it in B’s school binder for him to read (I have the versions with notes for me), so that’s one less thing I need to buy.
Changes: We are following the AO Shakespeare schedule for Terms 1 and 3, but we read The Tempest last year, so we’ll be doing Coriolanus in Term 2 instead.
I enjoy what I’ve read from Robert Frost (“miles to go before I sleep…”) and Carl Sandburg (“the fog comes on little cat feet….”) but Langston Hughes will be mostly new to me, so I’m looking forward to our poetry readings this year.
We’ll continue with what we began doing last year, with B doing about one page of copywork per day from his recitation pieces. I always give him the option to pick his own copywork, but he generally doesn’t want to, and I’m sure that will continue this year. I have also debated getting him a special notebook just for his copywork (instead of notebook pages we keep in a 3-ring binder) as I’ve seen other CM families do, so I may see if he’s receptive to that.
We’ll keep doing spelling (or dictation) for 30 minutes twice per week. It took us two years to get through about 100 lessons in Spelling Wisdom Book 1, but a lot of that was when we were still only doing it for 15 minutes, so I don’t know if we’ll end up finishing the book before the end of the year. If we do, we’ll move on to Spelling Wisdom Book 2.
We’ll keep doing our grammar lessons for 25 minutes twice per week. We’re nearly all the way through Junior Analytical Grammar, and once we finish that, we’ll move on to the Mechanics book.
We’ll continue with one repetition daily, rotating through Old Testament on Mondays, New Testament on Tuesdays, Psalms on Wednesdays, and poetry on Thursdays. I’ll pick the Bible selections from the term’s Bible lessons and allow the kids to pick their own poetry or pick it from our poetry readings if they don’t want to choose.
B has been very resistant to writing, which has been challenging when it comes to his written narrations. They did get better as the year went on, which showed that he was trying to do his best, but he complains that he doesn’t like the actual act of writing. This I understand because I much prefer to type, so I decided we would start a typing curriculum this year, and he could choose to type his narrations.
In my searches for a good typing curriculum, I found that the majority of them were online, and they were in a game format. I didn’t like either of these things, so I was happy when I found the TGB typing curriculum as it’s just a book with lessons that I can print out at home, prop it up next to a computer, and he can do his typing practice in any word processor program. I only ordered level 1 to see how it goes for us, but I have a feeling he’ll fly through it.
Our Spanish lessons are an area where I’m still kind of uncertain. We used Speaking Spanish with Miss. Mason and François last year, and while it was effective, we both kind of dreaded our Spanish lessons. We also finished all of the Salsa videos my Form I daughter was watching for her Spanish time, so I wanted to find something that both kids could do together.
I have read very positive reviews about Charlotte Mason Simple Spanish on the AO forums, and Year 1 Unit 1 was recently offered as a free download, so we’re going to try doing this all together. If it goes well, I’ll buy the rest of Year 1, and we’ll continue with that. If it doesn’t work for us, I was also looking at The ULAT, or we might try Speaking Spanish with Miss. Mason and François again but at a slower pace.
We’ll continue with our Book of Marvels readings each week (except “The Slave City” as I don’t find slavery, especially that of children, something that should be treated lightly) using the video companion linked above. There have only been a few instances where I’ve found the videos to have some inappropriate language, were no longer available, or I found different ones that I liked better, so I’ve been very thankful for that resource.
We’ll also keep on with our map drills using some of the resources linked on the AO Forum above and the Seterra blank maps. I do plan to begin working on Europe maps since we’ll be starting our history readings in World War I this year.
* Changes: As mentioned above, we’re skipping the “The Slave City” chapter from Book of Marvels: The Orient.
This can go under either the Geography or Natural History/Science headings (as referenced in PNEU Programme 94), but I thought it might be suitable under its own heading. I’m very excited about this book as I think it’ll be a good option for us to do on the Fridays that we don’t meet with our nature group. I’m only planning to do one lesson every other week, so we’ll go through the book very slowly, but I think that’ll be a good pace for us anyway. I also hope to find patches on Etsy once we get through each unit (and they pass the tests) so we can have nice mementos of what we learned from this book!
Plutarch went so well for us last year that I feel comfortable just following the AO rotation for the lives now, so we’re following that this year. We’ll of course be using Anne White’s fantastic guides again as well.
Nature Study & Science
Nature Study & Science Book List Here*
Term 1: Sabbath Mood Homeschool Science Guide – Chemistry
Term 2: Sabbath Mood Homeschool Science Guide – Weather
Term 3: Sabbath Mood Homeschool Science Guide – Physics-Energy
Storybook of Science (following the Sabbath Mood Homeschool Science Guides reading schedule)
Various books from the Sabbath Mood Homeschool living science books lists
Bruce and Stan’s Guide to How It All Began
We’re continuing with the Sabbath Mood Homeschool science guides this year, but since the readings are relatively short, I haven’t felt the need to drop any of the other books on the regular AO schedule for science (other than the change I list below). I’ll monitor this as we go, though, to see if I need to cut back at all.
Because we switched to using the SMH guides instead of the AO readings for science beginning in Year 4, we’re still working our way through Storybook of Science but will finish it this year.
I plan to get The Sea Around Us Young Reader’s Edition from the library and renew it every six weeks. I’ve never done this before as I generally like to own the books we read, but I wanted this specific version as I think it’ll be more engaging for B. However, it’s costly for a used book, so we’ll see how it goes to use a library book for our entire school year.
* Changes: We’re skipping It Couldn’t Just Happen and tentatively reading Bruce and Stan’s Guide to How It All Began per recommendations on the AO forums. If it does turn out that this is too much for B, I’ll probably drop either The Sea Around Us or the Bruce and Stan book.
We worked on RightStart Level F through the summer but didn’t finish, so we’ll continue with that into the first part of this year and then switch to Level G when we’re done.
My Form I student will be reading a biography on Leonardo da Vinci as well as Marco Polo (who visited Kublai Khan’s Yuan court in the 14th century), so I thought it would be fitting if we learned about these people and areas for picture study. John William Waterhouse included Greek and Roman mythology in many of his paintings which I thought would go well with B’s readings (especially Age of Fable, The Illiad, and The Odyssey), so we’ll learn about him in Term 3. Of course, our picture study doesn’t have to match any other topics we’re studying, but I chose to do that this year.
Changes: We are not following the AO Artist study rotation as I wanted to pick my own artists.
I have been debating using Creating a Masterpiece for a while. Both kids finished the drawing book last year, and while I did like brushdrawing for B in the past, I craved something that had more guidance for us. We had used Creating a Masterpiece courses in our co-op in the past with great results, so I began looking into it more this summer. Unfortunately, it’s not a cheap course, and I wasn’t sure it was something we could swing. Then, literally about five minutes after I had been looking at it and pricing it out again one day, one of the other members of our umbrella school asked if anyone was interested in making a group purchase for Creating a Masterpiece that significantly reduced the price. I felt like it was meant to be, so we’re signed up, and we’ll be starting with the northern lights in Term 1! This will most likely be a Friday activity, so we have a reasonable amount of time to spend on it.
I plan to continue using the Tillberry Table composer study guides this year as they worked so well for us last year. She doesn’t offer all of the composers on the AO rotation, so I made changes as outlined below. I’m looking forward to learning more about these composers and their music.
Changes: Bruckner and Mahler are on the AO rotation for Term 1, but Tillberry Table doesn’t offer a guide for either of them, so I’m substituting Richard Wagner. She does offer one for William, so he will be our Term 2 composer, and she announced that she will be releasing a Grieg guide in September, so he will be our Term 3 composer.
Term 1: He Leadeth Me & Dear Lord and Father of Mankind
Term 2: How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds & What a Friend We Have in Jesus
Term 3: I’m Not Ashamed to Own My Lord & Rock of Ages
Last year I chose our hymns based on the liturgical year, which was a practice we had in our homeschool co-op that I enjoyed. This year, however, I decided to make it easier on myself and chose songs from the AO schedule. Instead of doing one every month, though, we’ll just be doing two per term as I feel that gives us more opportunity to get to know them. I’m also very thankful for the Hymns and Folksongs channel on YouTube as we’ll be using that and Andrew Remillard as our accompaniment.
Term 1: Did You Go to the Barney & Waltzing Matilda
Term 2: The Mermaid & Poor Wayfaring Stranger
Term 3: Red River Valley & Crawdad Song
I also chose not to pick our folksongs this year, again, just to make things easier, so I’m using the AO selections but only two per term instead of one every month. We’ll also use the Hymns and Folksongs YouTube channel for this.
We had a little bit of the last routine in Swedish Drill Revisited II left last year, so we’ll finish that and then start on Swedish Drill Revisited III this year.
I had also planned to enroll our entire family in archery lessons over the summer, but the local archery business that I was going to use went out of business, and our other options are few and far between in this area. There is another business that offers lessons about 45 minutes south of us that looks very good, so that may also be something we do together this year.
Last year was a complete bust for our handicrafts (though we did get a garden planted in Term 3!), so I was thinking of taking a different approach this year. Rather than scheduling a different handicraft each term, as well as different handicrafts for each kid, I decided we would choose just one or two skills for all of us to do together over the course of the whole year.
I landed on these two books because I think they teach a good range of skills, fit in well with some of our other subjects (particularly scouting), and teach skills that the kids have expressed a desire to learn. We’ll alternate these each week and read and narrate the lessons on Fridays. Then the kids can do any projects or activities that go along with the lessons in the afternoons.
Of course, if either kid expresses an interest in learning a handicraft outside of these things, we are quick to encourage them however we can in that regard. But these are the two I have planned to intentionally do during our school year.
There are some wonderful books on this year’s free reads list, some of which were my favorite when I was a kid. We jumped ahead this summer, and B has already read The Bronze Bow and The Call of the Wild, and we’re currently reading 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea together. I’d also really like him to at least read Where the Red Fern Grows. I’ll record what he ends up reading in my year-end recap post.
I’m always open to suggestions and recommendations from more seasoned homeschoolers, so if you have any advice, please feel free to share it!
The post Charlotte Mason Homeschool: Our Plans for Sixth Grade appeared first on a humble place.