School Year, Part 2 (6th grade)

So if you want to know the truth, the 2017-2018 school year has been planned in its entirety for a couple weeks now…

With the exception of one subject of Astro’s.

So I waited until I was done before I started blogging about any of them.  Because I’m a little obsessive like that.  And I could have gone ahead and done Pink’s but then they’d be out of order, so….

I may not be melancholy in most things, but in some…. 😀  lol

Sixth grade is still a pretty fun year to plan.  Astro has his own things that he enjoys, his own things that he wants to study (well… truthfully he doesn’t want to study anything, but there are things he’d rather have to do than others 😉 ), and his own way of learning.  So far, I haven’t felt like we’re doing ‘more of the same’ with him because he’s so much the opposite of Link.

Anyway, without further adieu, sixth grade.


Here we are again, trying another logic curriculum.  I do have to admit, I *think* I like the look of this one the best of all those we’ve tried and looked at over the last few years. James Madison Critical Thinking seems to go at things from a detective-style perspective, which should be refreshing and hopefully not too huge of a transition from all the fun things the kids do for logic in 5th grade.  Astro loved Mind Benders last year…  Then I always have to go and make things no-more-fun anymore! 🙂 😉  The plan is to go through half of the book this year, the second half next year.  Hopefully this one will be a winner!!


‘Language Arts’ subjects:

Astro will finish up with the Queen Language Lessons for the Secondary Child this year.  The series goes further, but I don’t think we’ll progress with it any farther.  It provided a good, simple, straight forward and ‘gentle’ (Charlotte Mason style!) program for these later elementary/early middle grades.  This year I’ve actually gone ahead and gone through and marked out a few lessons – I usually end up doing it at some point toward the end of the year, anyway (usually copywork ones).

And yes, that is a SPELLING program!!  I have a hate/hate relationship with spelling programs lol.  I’ve heard good things about Rod & Staff Spelling, so I figured we would give it a try this year.  Astro’s spelling is… well… horrendous.  😀  So I figured we’d go ahead and get a curriculum for it again.  His last spelling curriculum was in about 1st or 2nd grade, but it didn’t work so well, and then we spent a lot of time just tackling words as we came across them.  And yes, I bought the third grade book.  I figured we will start there and if we move through more than one in a year, great.  If not, that’s fine, too.

What I’ll probably do is start off the year seeing what words he can spell from the given list(s) and then go from there.  I’ll probably do that throughout the year so that we aren’t spending time on words he already knows, but I also wanted to go ahead and go back this far so that we wouldn’t miss anything.

Lastly, I decided to have Astro try Killgallon writing this year.  He’ll start the year with Sentence Composing for Middle School and then move to Paragraphs around 1/3 to 1/2 of the way through the year.

Oh, and of course, I’ve included his reading lists.  🙂



Pictured: The Lantern Bearers, Otto of the Silver Hand, Brendan the Navigator, The Once and Future King, Augustine Came to Kent, Adam of the Road, China’s Later Dynasties, Beowulf, The Story of Rolf and the Viking Bow, Call it Courage, Inferno, The Door in the Wall, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, The Canterbury Tales, Leonardo DaVinci


Pictured: In Freedom’s Cause, Shakespeare Stories, I, Juan de Pareja, Hans Christian Andersen Tales, The Ugly Duckling, Where the Wild Things Are, The Selfish Giant


It’s pre-algebra time!!

I decided to go ahead and start Astro in the same pre-algebra book (Lial) as Link this year.  Now that I’ve gone through the entire elementary sequence of Math U See, I feel comfortable switching over sooner than I did with Link.

Why the switch?

First off, Astro was beginning to get bored this year with MUS.  Now, let me reiterate that we LOVE MUS in the elementary grades, and I think it provides an excellent foundation.  But this year he was beginning to just get a little tired of the format and the repetition.  Knowing what would be covered in the last two volumes of elementary MUS and how it would be similarly covered in Lial, I decided to go ahead and switch over.

Second, Astro is a little more mathematically inclined than Link, at least from what I’ve been able to tell over these last several years.  So I think he’s definitely ready to move into pre-algebra this year.

I still have plans to spend as much time as necessary on new concepts and make sure he masters things, like MUS.  As of right now my only goal is to make it through the first half of the book this year.  If he makes it all the way through, awesome.  But I don’t have any qualms about spending a couple years on pre-algebra so that I know he’s got it.



Astro picked his own science for this year – robots.

I’ve expounded on it a bit, pulling in more electronics as well as some engineering-style construction basics.  Again, since I see a bit of a leaning in that direction, I thought it would be fun to explore for this year.  I’m not saying I think he’ll have a career in any of those fields – however, science that involves building things is his favorite kind.  He had a robotics/simple machines class at co-op last year and he adored it.  It was his favorite class all year long.

So we’re going with some recommendations from the latest version of The Well-Trained Mind : The Robot Book, which we’ll spend roughly 12 weeks in, making fun little robots with brushes and hacked toys; Make: Electronics, which is quite detailed the farther you go in the book – my plan is to try to make it through about the first 10-15 experiments.  Beyond that I think it starts getting a little too involved for a 6th grader.  That said, though, I’ve left wiggle room, so if he ends up taking off with it, then he can continue.  It’s entirely possible, by the way, that the electronics section will be done with The Man in the evenings – I can handle almost everything, but as I glance through this Make: Electronics book, I literally feel like it’s all going right over my head! 🙂  But that’s ok.  The last book he’ll be using will be The Art of Construction, which he’ll spend about 8 or so weeks on, reading through it and making little models of different architecture and discovering why things work better, etc.  I’m really looking forward to his science this year!!


6th grade history:

I already went into how we ‘do’ history in the logic stage in the post on 8th grade – Astro will do it pretty much the same, only a different time period – he’s in the medieval time period this year, from 400-1600.  Here I’ve included a picture of the books that are included as a part of his history studies.


Pictured: The Measly Middle Ages, The Cut-Throat Celts, The Smashing Saxons, Vicious Vikings, The Boy Knight, Traditional Irish Fairy Tales, The Angry Aztecs, Incredible Incas, The Terrible Tudors, First Voyage To America: From the Log of the “Santa Maria”, Sir Francis Drake, The Trumpeter of Krakow, Explorers Who Got Lost

Bible/Ethics/World Religions:

Sixth grade is always a fun one because we include some books on virtue this year, as well as a simple book on world religions.

Astro will be reading through Tending the Heart of Virtue, along with several of the books that are mentioned in it ( most of them are in the picture below this one, with the exception of a couple selections from Hans Christian Andersen, as well as The Selfish Giant, Where the Wild Things Are, and The Ugly Duckling, which are all pictured with his other reading list above, as well as Prince Caspian, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and The Last Battle, which aren’t pictured).

For world religions, we make our way through A World of Faith, which is essentially a picture book that dedicates a page each to several of the world’s major religions.  We cover one per week.

We’re trying something new for Bible this year, and I’m actually really excited about this one!  Astro will be doing Route 66: Travel Through the Bible from Positive Action Bible Curriculum.

Their booth has always been at our local homeschool convention, but truthfully, the covers of their elementary-level Bible curriculum was a bit off-putting for me.  This year, however, I happened to glimpse the sign that said ‘Middle School’ above books that didn’t look nearly so cheesy!  😀  lol.  So I ended up getting this one.  It’s a survey of the entire Bible, covering the basics.  It looks like a good amount of work – not too much writing, but still in depth enough to be learning.  They have several more books, so I’m hoping this one goes well and we can stick with them for several years coming!


Pictured: Pinocchio, A Wrinkle in Time, Charlotte’s Web, The Princess and the Goblin, The Wind in the Willows, The Trumpet of the Swan, The Velveteen Rabbit

Astro will also be doing other electives at Co-op – he’ll be in the ‘Junior High’ age group this year with Link, so they’ll have the same ones.  I’m also assuming that he’ll play soccer again, as he’s our soccer guy.




How We Do: Language Arts






Hard to believe that we’re almost a month in already!

Occasionally, I get asked for more specifics on what we do.  So I’m going to be doing posts on each subject that go into a little more detail, while hopefully still not being too incredibly dull.

Language Arts



Language Arts for the Secondary Child (daily); Apples Daily Spelling Drills (daily)




Language Lessons for the Elementary Child (daily); Zaner Bloser Handwriting (2-3x/week; this is an older edition – the linked is new)

Both Boys




Spelling Wisdom (1x/week); Writing With Ease (2x/week, doing levels 3 and 4 this year); Elementary Diagramming (1x/week)



The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading (daily); First Language Lessons (3x/week); Explode the Code (2x/week); Draw Write Now (2x/week)

Here she is doing some DWN.  She has actually done everything in Book 1 once already, but she loves that one because it’s all animals.  She’s less thrilled with Book 2.

Each kid has their own set of reading books.  For Pink, there are books that are specific to what she’ll be studying in Science as well as those specific to what she’ll be studying in History.  (The picture I got of the books for History turned out blurry, so I only have Science ones here)

She also has these two tubs of books – the ones in the tub on the right are all easy readers – she reads one to me each day.  The ones in the tub on the left are those that are just picture books/short story books, that she picks one from each day for me to read to her.


Astro’s books are mostly chosen from the Language Arts and History sections of The Well Trained Mind.  He’ll go through them in this order this year (he’s currently on the 4th one):IMG_2605


Also, I have these set aside for him to read when he has some free time – the ones in the stack above won’t take the whole school year, so I picked some that I thought he’d enjoy from the ones that are around or just below his reading level.  IMG_2607


He has a couple different reading lists: the one taken from the selections in the Language Arts and History sections in TWTM (he’s also currently on the 4th one from the top):IMG_2608

Some YWAM biographies I picked up this year; I decided to stick with India this time around. 😉IMG_2609

And then his official reading list for language arts this year (currently waiting on one book that is backordered – Oxford School Shakespeare Henry V, which will be at the bottom of the pile anyway).IMG_2611

So that pretty much sums it up!!  The boys are each assigned a book for a certain amount of time.  They are required to read daily, including weekends.

I did not include links for all of the books for reading, but if anyone is interested in any of them, I can edit and add those.  🙂



Have a great week!  September will be here soon – WHAT?!  🙂

It’s the planning time of year

You know how, at Christmas, ‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year’ plays?

Well, I also feel like there needs to be a version that gets sung by people like me during the time of year that they beginning planning for the next school year.

Because it’s oh so fun.

So…Since it’s March, and March is when I post my plans, and when I’m beginning to order used curriculum and books I find cheap, that means it’s time for me to bore regale you with the wonderful tale of what we’ll be doing this coming year!

I know, you can hardly contain your excitement, right?!  RIGHT?!

Thought so.

Ok.  To start off I’ll say that we’re still following the Well Trained Mind philosophy and many of the suggestions listed in the book.  We have obviously tweaked here and there (where we absolutely didn’t like some things, or they didn’t work for one or more kids, etc), but for the most part, we’re pretty WTM-ish.

Link – 6th grade, Astro – 4th grade, Pink – 1st grade

Ok, first off, how in the world do I have a kid in sixth grade?  I mean seriously.  #Imold … That’s I’m old, not I mold.  I don’t mold.  I shower regularly.

Ahem.  There went a bird.  Anyway…

Logic – Next year Link will begin his first foray into the actual study of logic.  I was actually looking through the books – Critical Thinking, Books 1 and 2 – yesterday and I’m pretty stoked about logic!  It would be a great subject to teach to a class, as well, though I say that and then when I think about it realistically I have no desire to teach a class ever.  So there’s that.  But if you do, and are interested in Logic, take a look at those books.

MathLink’s going to be doing math over the summer, at least until he finishes up MUS Epsilon, so he can get started with Zeta next year.  I’ve decided to switch up how we do our morning ‘Mental Math’ and stray from one workbook of daily problems.  This coming year we’ll be pulling from a few sources – Checkbook Math, Scratch Your Brain, Market Math, MUS online drills (to stay sharp on all the basic facts), and something for word problems – and do something different each day.

Astro will move forward with MUS Delta.  I’m interested to see how he does with long division – so far he has proven to be a little more math-brained, and it’s always interesting to see how he picks up on things differently.  For his morning math, he’ll be doing some graphing, MUS online drills, word problems, and math logic puzzles.  There’s one more day in the week and I’d like to find something else (different) for that day – if it comes down to it, we may just do some apps on the iPad for that.

Similarly, Pink will move into MUS Alpha.  She’s done really well with the Primer level of MUS, and I’m glad I decided to go ahead and get it this year.  We really like MUS for the foundations of math.

HistoryLink will be in 400-1600 AD this coming year.  We’re going to approach History the same way, using the encyclopedia, the timeline, and taking notes.  The Jackdaws we’re planning on getting for this coming year are Columbus and the Age of Explorers, The Conquest of Mexico, and The Vikings.  He will also have reading books (both assigned and not) that coincide with what he’s studying.

Astro will do Story of the World 4, along with some state history.  We don’t use the Activity Guide for SOTW at this stage – perhaps Pink will when she gets this age, but neither of the boys was really into it.  I’ll admit, as well, that our narration is limited.  In elementary, I do still ask some questions about what we read, but I’m just happy to get those things in their brain for the first time.

Pink will start with SOTW 1.  I do plan on getting out the Activity Guide and looking through it for some things to do with her next year, because I think she’ll enjoy them.

You’ll notice that again, this is all 3 kids in a different cycle of history.  This past year we gave that a test run and it really worked well for us, so we’re sticking with it.  Some people think it’s completely insane and that it would make much more sense/be much easier to group them together, but that has just not proven true at our house.  So, we do what works!  And for us, that’s each kid in their own place as much as possible.

Geography – Link will be taking his first ever online class this fall – Geography with The Well-Trained Mind Academy!  

Grammar/Language Arts – We enjoyed Total Language Plus this past year, but Link has expressed that he’d rather do what Astro does for this portion of Language Arts, so he’ll be moving to Language Lessons for the Secondary Child, Volume 1.  Both boys will also continue doing Daily Grams for their respective grades, though I think I’ll give in and get the workbook this year – last year getting both boys’ Daily Grams copied every day was something I wasn’t awesome at keeping up with.  Oh, well.

Astro will continue on with Language Lessons for the Elementary Child, Volume 2.  We like these books – they’re straightforward, short and to the point.  I plan on starting Pink on them once she gets into 3rd grade.

For first grade, though, we love First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind Level 1.  So Pink will start with that next year.  Most likely she will do levels 1 and 2 – I wasn’t a big fan of level 3, hence the switching over to LLEC in 3rd. 🙂

Spelling – I’ve not decided on this 100% yet.  Link and Astro have done well this past year using SpellingCity, so it’s likely that we’ll still use that at least a little bit.  I plan on looking at various spelling programs at convention to decide for sure.  As of right now, there are many that have caught my eye as a possibility – Rod & Staff Spelling (though I can’t stand their LA program, and that may rub off onto spelling… Idk, I’ll have to see it in person to decide!), Phonetic Zoo, Soaring with Spelling (though, again, I’ve used Growing with Grammar and was unimpressed…), Spelling Power, Spelling You SeeBuilding Spelling Skills, Apples Daily Spelling (this would be for Link only)… the one I think I like the best so far is Natural Speller.  But like I said, Idk, I’ll have to see to decide!

Pink will not be starting spelling next year, most likely.  I’m seeing increasing evidence that starting a child on spelling early doesn’t necessarily do anything more for them than starting them around 3rd grade, so as of right now that’s my plan – to wait and start her in spelling in 3rd.  I may change my mind next year, depending on how she’s reading and all that, but for 1st grade, at least, I’m not finding spelling to be necessary.

Writing – At the moment Link is still working through Writing With Ease with Astro.  Originally, Link was doing a different writing program this year, but overall I wasn’t impressed with it, so I ended up switching him over to WWE at the same time as Astro.  He’s breezing through it pretty easily, but I’m thinking we will stick with it through next year (at which point they will have finished all 4 years of WWE).  You know, CAP’s Writing & Rhetoric was so nice, and I wanted to love it… but I just didn’t.  Occasionally it comes up in a conversation and I am tempted by it again, but in the end, I have to remember that I wasn’t a fan.  Sigh…

I have WWE 1 written down for Pink for next year, but again, I’m just going to have to wait and see.  Instead, we may stick with some simple Draw Write Now and wait to do WWE with her until 2nd or 3rd.  Or, who knows, maybe I’ll have more motivation to go back and try W&R again with her… we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

Astro is still also doing handwriting this coming year, with Zaner Bloser Handwriting 4.  Pink will do ZB Handwriting 1.

Reading – We do a lot of reading at our house – there is always assigned reading going on.  Next year, Link’s reading list will include various suggestions from both the History and Language Arts sections of TWTM, as well as some titles from the Great Books Academy 6th grade reading list.  His main reading list: Beowulf: A New Telling (Nye), Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Tolkein), The Canterbury Tales (Chaucer), Prologue to the Canterbury Tales (Chaucer), Inferno, Cantos I-V (Alighieri), Saint George and the Dragon (Spenser/Hodges), The Sword in the Stone (White), Shakespeare Stories (Garfield).  There will be several more, but those I generally decide on based on what I can find and what looks the most interesting or worthwhile.

Astro’s reading list will be pulled from the fourth grade sections of TWTM and GBA; Pink’s from the first grade sections (you really needed that spelled out, right?) 😛

Pink will also continue with The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading, supplemented with some Explode the Code workbooks (which technically shouldn’t be in the reading section here, but oh well).

Science – Ah, science.  Link did the WTM recommendations for 5th grade science this year and really enjoyed it.  However, next year, I’ve decided to go a little more traditional and do a curriculum/textbook.  At the moment, I’m liking Prentice Hall Science Explorer Earth Science for both Link and Astro next year (technically Astro should be on Physics, but I’ll talk more about him later).  With Link, I *think* I may want to start him on the upper level Apologia Science curriculum when it begins in 7th grade (I’m going to look at it a lot at convention and think on it further – I still have a year!) with General Science.  So this year I decided to try something different that could stand on its own, and I’m *hoping* that PHSE is what can do that.

Another thing I really am liking the look of for Science is Galore Park’s ‘So You Really Want to Learn Science?’  — this is a two book series, which looks like it will take about 2 years.  Can you guess where I’m going here?  I’m thinking PHSE for Astro with Link this coming year, followed by the two years of SYRWTLS, and then (if Apologia ends up being the way we want to go) moving him into the Apologia sciences in 7th.  Yes, I think that far ahead…

Pink will do TWTM recommendations for 1st grade science, with the animal encyclopedia, the human body encyclopedia, and Green Thumbs.  I will say that I 100% recommend TWTM Science for the grammar stage, from what we’ve done so far!  I know she’ll be doing them for 1st and 2nd grade, at the very least.  It’s laid back, fun, and allows for their interests to guide.

Japanese – Yes, Link is finally getting started with Japanese!  First off, we’ve started with some basic apps that are fun and educational (I’d be lying if I said I haven’t spent a fair amount of time on one of them!) and we’re getting Human Japanese.  Next year, Link will start Irasshai, which will probably take him a few years to complete.

LatinAstro, on the other hand, will be doing his first (only, depending on how he likes it) year of Latin.  We’re going with Latina Christiana 1, despite my dislike for Prima Latina, because in the end Latin for Children was just very… busy.  And I think LC will be more suited to Astro’s personality and learning style.

BibleLink will continue with The Most Important Thing You’ll Ever Study.  There are a total of 4 workbooks, so we’re aiming for one per year, which will take him through 8th grade.  In a similar line – more ‘ethics’ than ‘Bible’ – he’ll be reading through Tending the Heart of Virtue and the books that are discussed in there.  Again, this is something that we’ll be doing over time, from 6th through 8th grades.

Art – (all 3 kids) This past year we ended up being a part of a local art class, and I’m hoping to continue with something similar this coming year.  I’m not sure yet what that will look like, but hopefully we’ll have class out of the home, and honestly, for at home (in those months when we don’t have art, or for the off-weeks), I’m thinking about just taking the kids to Hobby Lobby and letting them each pick something to do every once in awhile.

For art appreciation, we’ll continue with the Picture Study Portfolios from Simply Charlotte Mason.  I LOVE THEM!!

Music – hoping, hoping, hoping for homeschool band next year for Link!  If not, possibly private lessons on an instrument that he could join the youth symphony with in the future.

We may try out the Music Study with the Masters (all 3 kids) from SCM this coming year, as well, for music appreciation – that’s another I’m looking forward to getting my hands on at convention this year!

Typing – Astro will do some Dance Mat typing next year online – it’s free and it’s a good introduction.  For Link, I’m not sure yet – he needs more practice typing on the keyboard, so starting in the next year or two he’ll be doing more on the computer.   I’m not sure that another ‘keyboarding/typing’ book is needed to get him there, though.

think that pretty much sums it up, at least so far!  Is anyone else in full planning mode with me?  Any suggestions on any of my ‘undecideds’?

Have a great week!

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