5th Grade Charlotte Mason Homeschool Plans, 2020-2021

How do I have a 5th grader? I remember daydreaming about homeschooling when he was still 1-year old. I had so many plans, hopes, and dreams for him. I'm so glad that I held off the bulk of academics until I had time to read books and blogs about all types of homeschooling - unschooling, life-schooling, road-schooling, and more "eclectic" styles that blended what worked from many different styles and traditions.

Now, 10 years after meeting my first baby boy, I feel very settled in a lifestyle of homeschooling that works for us. I like to describe it as two hours or so of old-fashioned tutoring plus unschooling in a rich learning environment . . . aka the Charlotte Mason Method. I haven't found Mason's method to be limiting or rigid, but instead have found it to be an excellent foundation for my children to grow their love and appreciation for many branches of knowledge to inspire their passions, and to force them (gently) out of their comfort zones to experience the interconnectedness of knowledge.
A bit about my fifth grader
This is Peter's fourth year of doing a full Charlotte Mason style curriculum (we started when he was in 2nd grade) with short, morning lessons on a wide variety of subjects, but this is the first time that he will not be following along with a strict timetable

Instead, I have created a daily checklist for him to manage his own work. Personally, I think 10-years-old is usually the absolute minimum age for a student to have this much responsibility, but Peter is a very focused child who has been carefully planning his days full of meaningful work (outside of homeschooling) for years. Nevertheless, this is going to be an important transition and I think I've planned how to make it go smoothly by:
  • Creating a daily list of work based on short readings or specific amounts of time, but giving him the flexibility of choosing what order to complete his work.
  • Giving him an explicit list of procedures for each subject.
  • Setting up a new workspace for him in my 1st-floor bedroom--nearby to where I'll be working with his siblings for him to get help when needed but private enough to screen out the distractions of homeschooling two other children with baby and toddler in tow.
  • Making it possible for him to narrate orally even when I'm busy using the voxer app's note to self feature.
  • Committing to checking every item on his checklist myself every day to avoid making him totally accountable for completing his work.
Peter loves to get down to business and get all his to-dos done for the day and I think that having to wait for my attention to do so many subjects would have been very frustrating to him. Still, we are going to have to learn how to make time for him to do spelling with me and also how to include him in our singing lesson time twice a week.

Daily Checklist / Flexible Timetable for Student in Form IIA

Here is my first attempt at a workable daily checklist for my Form IIA (5th grade) student. Each day he will be responsible for doing the work of that day in any order he chooses. The subjects that have a number after them designate the time for that subject--he is already very accustomed to using timers to manage his work. 

The other subjects without a time allotted have their own list of readings or lessons. Each time he gets to American History, for example, he will complete the next short reading on the list and do an oral or written narration.

The last item in the morning worklist (everything before Piano) is Weekly Work. Peter will need to choose 2 items from the last column (weekly work) to complete each day and he will write what he has done on the line under Weekly Work for me to know what to review each day. Items with a + will be done with me or siblings, but everything else he is capable of doing on his own schedule.

He can start his workday whenever he wants, but I'm planning to expect him to be done by noon. I'll adjust this if it isn't reasonable . . . 

I'm hoping he will learn to use the notes section at the bottom of the page to write notes for himself about things to put in his Book of Centuries (BOC) or page numbers of quotes for his commonplace. It is also a place for him to write notes to me about any mistakes, questions, or problems with his assigned work. I have been known to make mistakes in our reading lists and I like to correct them before they get reused for younger siblings. 

About planning our homeschool
Each year, I consider the subjects that Charlotte Mason included for her students as well as the time spent on each subject per week and information about the number of pages read each term

I do not aspire to do everything just as Charlotte Mason did. Like my children, I am a born person with strengths and limitations so I feel like it is my duty to do only what I am capable of doing right now in a respectable, patient way with the children and resources I have available to me.

This year, I planned out material for a 10-week term followed by two 12-week terms with the last week of each term being designated for exams and for finishing up a few readings that we didn't get to. You can read much more about how and why I plan our homeschool schedule this way in my introduction to our 1st Grade Homeschool Plans, 2020-2021.

I love to consult Ambleside Online, a Catholic Charlotte Mason curriculum, as well as Wildwood Curriculum and A Delectable Education for ideas and materials, but I put our plans together in my own way. I have tried to note in [ ] whether I'm using a free book or how much I paid for each of the resources we are using. I am committed to homeschooling with free or really cheap books as part of our journey to be debt-free while living on one income.

This post contains affiliate links. Read my full disclosure to learn more. 

Bible Lessons
Morning time, oral narration after each lesson
We will read narrative portions of the bible during our morning time during breakfast using the lists available on Ambleside Online and using a New Revised Standard Translation. Using this translation worked better for us than using the King James Version, so we will continue to use this version next year. Unlike Ambleside Online's plans (which coincide with the way Charlotte Mason planned bible lessons) we choose to read only 1 book of the bible at a time instead of alternating between the old and new testaments. We will begin this year with Exodus and move on from there.

Language Arts: Reading/Literature, Spelling, Grammar, Copywork/Handwriting/Typing, Poetry, Recitation, Modern Language
Reading/Literature (20 minutes/week of a book chosen by me, plus evening readings of Shakespearean plays as a family)

This year, Peter will be reading the following titles at least once per week and in other free time if he chooses:
More titles will be added to this list as needed.

We are planning to spend about 30 minutes twice a week in the evening reading a Shakespearean play aloud. We will have 2 or 3 Folger editions of the play to share among me, my husband, and my son. Our plans are:
  • Term 1 - Macbeth [2 copies of the play for $4.69 each from Thriftbooks - one was free with reading rewards!] - There was supposed to be a touring company performing at our local university in November, but I doubt that will happen now.
  • Term 2 - Twelfth Night [2 copies of the play for $4.69 each from Thriftbooks]
  • Term 3 - Coriolanus [2 copies of the play for $4.19 and $3.99 from Thriftbooks]

Charlotte Mason didn't do spelling this way and instead had students study passages and then write them while they were dictated. This past year, I tested Peter's spelling using the unprepared dictation passage included on Ambleside Online's exam bank and he performed very well. So I think our open and go method of phonetic spelling with All About Spelling is working so far and I plan to complete all 7 levels of AAS.

Grammar (2x~15-20min/week)
Last year, I had to adjust our grammar plans midstream because KISS Grammar didn't work as well for Peter as I had hoped. This year, Peter will work through a curated list of lessons from Intermediate Language Lessons by Emma Serl [bought used - $4.69 from Thriftbooks, which was less expensive than printing out the lessons from the free ebook!]

Copywork/Handwriting/Typing (2xweek commonplace entries, 2xweek written narrations, 2x10min of typing)
  • This year, Peter will select his own passages to enter into his "commonplace"--a basic, wide-ruled notebook he began using for this purpose last year. 
  • He will also select two subjects (at the beginning of the week) to do written narrations in a wide-ruled notebook.
  • He will also learn touch typing using a student account at Typing.com [I purchased a lifetime ad-free membership for $7.99]
Handwriting is not something Peter enjoys. If typing goes well, I hope to allow him to transition to typing written narrations at some point. Once he completes (or gets far enough?) the lessons on Typing.com, we may swap out typing for computer programming in his schedule.

Poetry (Listen to the same poem read aloud every day for a week at morning time) 
While I do not follow Ambleside Online's poetry rotation, I do choose the majority of our poets and poems from their collection. We will focus on a different poet each term:
  • Term 1: Christina Rossetti
  • Term 2: Carl Sandburg
  • Term 3: Paul Laurence Dunbar

Recitation (3x10min/week)
Each 6-week half-term Peter will work on reciting beautifully (often memorizing) 2 poems and 1 passage or another poem. I pick 2 selections and he picks the other poem with my approval. 

As you can see, I choose many pieces from our current poet for the term, as well as from the plays I hope to see and the historical figures we will be studying. This year, I have selected the following pieces for Peter:

Modern Language: German (3x20min/week)
Peter has really enjoyed learning conversational German through Talkbox.mom [generously funded by a grandfather]. We still have some Talkbox boxes to work through so I have paused our membership for now. To make this subject more independent we are going to try using Rosetta Stone Language Learning Suite [free access to our family because my husband is a Brown alum].  

Social Studies: History, Geography, Citizenship
History (American history 1/week, British/European history 1/week, Ancient history 1/week, oral or written narration after each reading)

This is Peter's first year reading books across three different "streams" of history. I always spend the longest time choosing history books and I am particularly happy with our new American history spine. After hearing about it for many years, I chose to purchase the "A History for Peter" series (perfect for Peter!), recently back in print through Yesterdays Classics. It isn't a perfect book, but I think it is a great place to start the conversation.

He will study American history of the 1900s using the following books:

He will study British and European history of the 1900s using the following books:

He will study Ancient history of the early middle ages (500-1000) using the following books:
Peter will also continue keeping a Book of Centuries [bought for last year - $34 shipped] and will be expected to add at least one entry and one drawing per week.

We are not able to come close to covering all of the major events of the 1900s in the time I have allotted for history this year. We will supplement our formal history study with fiction and nonfiction read alouds, but we still will have gaps. I think it is much, much better to read a few interesting, living books than to worry about rushing through lots of content. 

Geography (2x20min/week, oral or written narration after each reading, plus related videos or mapwork that I keyed to the readings)
Note: We used the North American section of the Guyot book for Peter's 3rd-grade geography and I liked it. I decided to use the South American and European sections this year, but they have their problems. I concluded that the African and Middle East sections are completely unworthy to be used so we are finishing with this book after Europe.

I took all of these resources and used PowerPoint to prepare an open and go binder for Peter to work through with blank maps (printed from an old Uncle Josh’ Outline Maps CD-ROM I bought on Amazon several years ago), worksheet pages, and a list of lessons. He will use the National Geographic Mapmaker Interactive as an online atlas to complete his mapwork as needed.

In the past, this subject required me to ask Peter questions while looking at a map in our 2010 atlas [already owned - $25.20 used on Amazon]. This year, I've made it a subject Peter should be able to do independently.

Citizenship aka Plutarch (1x30min/week, oral or written narration after each reading)
Once a week, Peter and I hunker down and he follows along while I read one of Plutarch's lives per term. We will use Anne White's study guides to study Aristides (Term 1) and Alexander (Terms 2 and 3). 

I had hoped to have a student copy of the study guides for the entire year printed and bound at the local university print shop for about $11. I haven't heard back from them (possibly due to covid-19) so I uploaded Peter's student copy onto Google Play for him to follow along from there. I will read my copy using the Google Play app as well.

Peter has a definite passion for math and he pursues his math interests for hours a week in his spare time. This year, he will use the following resources:
  • Beast Academy, 5D, last chapter on exponents [already owned gift from grandparent] - He just started work on this chapter, but will probably still be working on it when we "officially" start our homeschool lessons in August.
  • The Art of Problem Solving: Prealgebra [Textbook and solutions purchased used via Facebook marketplace for $45 shipped]
  • Related prealgebra videos from The Art of Problem Solving
He will also hope to take the AMC exam in November at a local university, but I doubt that it will take place this year, which will be a big disappointment for him. This would have been his last year to take it "below grade" since it is geared toward 6-8th graders. 

He will also continue to enjoy books, websites, and apps in his free time, especially his current favorites AOPS's Alcumus (free) and Brilliant.org (free version, but he recently received a paid account for his birthday). 

Science: Experimental Science, Nature Lore, Special Studies, Nature Notebook
Experimental Science (1/week science reading, oral or written narration after each reading, 1/week activity or experiment)
He will use the following books for science this year:

Term 1- Geology: Rocks, Rivers and the Changing Earth: A First Book About Geology by Herman Schneider [already owned - purchased new from Amazon with coupon and gift card] - He will use the first 9 chapters and suggested activities/experiments.

Term 2-Physics: Still haven't figured out exactly how we will cover this topic! I bought The Cartoon Guide to Physics [bought used for $4.29 from Thriftbooks] but I'm not sure that it will work for us. I better get on it ;-) His father minored in physics (I bailed out after my first 2 semesters of college physics) so I may tap him for help with planning this.

Term 3-Biology (Anatomy): Blood and Guts: A History of Surgery by Richard Hollingham [bought used for $12.95 with coupon from Thriftbooks] and Blood and Guts by Linda Allison [bought used for $4.99 from Thriftbooks

Please note that the History of Surgery book is a really weird choice and while fascinating is probably not the best choice for Peter and certainly not a great choice for most kids. Peter has always been very into reading about the human body so I knew that I needed something advanced for him. The Linda Allison book is a great collection of activities about the human body and when I saw an interesting adult book with the same title, I impulsively went for it. Peter will read only the first three chapters of the book. The last two chapters--on plastic surgery and brain surgery are even less appropriate!!!!

Nature Lore (1/week, oral or written narration after each reading)
Peter will read 1 chapter a week of The Story-book of Science by Jean-Henri Fabre [free Google ebook] continued from last year.

Special Studies (1x20min/week)
I chose the following topics for the year using the rotation found on Sabbath Mood Homeschool :
  • Term 1: Weeds, Grass, Small Mammals 
  • Term 2: Specific trees, specific insects, invertebrates 
  • Term 3: Wildflowers and Birds
Peter will read for about 20 minutes from a book on the topic of his special study about once per week. I will also continue to read seasonal nature books and books on our special studies at morning time. I have put together a list of books for him to choose from each term pulled from our home library, public library, and free ebooks

I will try to plan brief object lessons on these topics as possible. I also tend to seek out special nature experiences on our topics (likes one's hosted by a state park or naturalist).

Nature Notebooking (daily entries, weekly nature watercolor drawings)
Peter will continue his practice of noticing something in nature for his nature journal every day. This year, I will require him to write his own entries (previously, he dictated most of them) and I will encourage him to begin keeping any kind of nature list that interests him (like birds spotted or wildflowers). Once a week, Peter will add a watercolor drawing of his choice in his nature journal. [Peter already owns all of his nature journal supplies - our supplies and costs here]

Peter will take a 15-minute walk in the neighborhood most afternoons to give him some fodder for his daily entry.

Morning Time (at breakfast)
I select additional living science and natural history books as part of our morning time. These titles are not narrated.

Wild + Free Nature Group (3-4+ hours every Friday) [$50/year for our family]
We will participate in our weekly year-round nature group at a rural property. With a dedicated group of other homeschooled kids and preschoolers, Peter will enjoy the outdoors with his siblings and friends. This group is an important part of our homeschool week and it helps me actually achieve giving my kids a good half-day in nature each week. 

We will certainly plan for frequent nature walks in our neighborhood and observations in our own yard in addition to weekend and break weak nature experiences as a family, but this group definitely keeps me accountable to get the kids out for hours at a time even in bad weather.

Art and Music: Watercolor, Drawing, Handicrafts, Singing, Artist Study, Composer Study, Music
Drawing (1/week)
This year Peter will alternate between drawing along with Art for Kids Hub YouTube videos that I curated into a list he can choose from and working through What to Draw and How to Draw It [bought new for $6.45 from Living Book Press to get free shipping]

Handicrafts (1x30/week)
Last year, I had Peter work on handicrafts several times a week and it was great for him. However, I don't think I will be available enough to support that level of work this year and he is getting older with more schoolwork so I want to give him more free time to pursue his outside interests. 

This year, he will be expected to work on handicrafts at least once per week for about 30 minutes. He has already done a lot of machine sewing and received a new book about quilt-making for his birthday so I'm hoping that he can spend time working on a longer-term project like a small quilt. He also has been interested in cooking and baking lately. I expect to use resources like:
I will teach him new skills and help out with his projects as needed, but mainly he will manage his work himself.

Singing (2x10min/week)
I choose folk songs each year mainly by browsing Ambleside Online and the book Gonna Sing My Head Off!: American Folk Songs for Children by Kathleen Krull. This year I choose 14 songs:
Why I choose what I did:
  • Last year I chose several songs to complement the historical time period we were studying and I thought it worked well so I'm doing that again this time. 
  • I also choose several songs geared toward young children this year because I think they will strongly appeal to 1st-grader Sylvia and 2-year-old Harry and I know that my days where they will appeal to my oldest son are numbered!
  • Finally, several of these songs are ones that my mother taught me . . . I needed an easy year ;-) I enjoy singing, but have trouble carrying a tune so each familiar song or easy melody will make getting this done easier.
Artist Study (1xweek at morning time)
Each term we read about the life of the artist and study 6 works by the artist. My school-aged children are expected to look at the picture, narrate about it from memory, then participate in a picture talk about it. For the rest of the term, I display the print in our family room.This year we are studying:

Term 1: Winslow Homer [Free PDF artist study from A Humble Place]
Term 2: Peter Paul Rubens [Free PDF artist study from A Humble Place]
Term 3: Henry Ossawa Tanner [Free PDF artist study from A Humble Place]

I printed the study guide from my home printer and intended to have the prints made at our local university print shop for about $.50 each. I have yet to hear back from them (possibly due to issues surrounding covid-19) so I will begin the year using a tablet and book stand to view the images and go from there. I had already ordered 4x6 prints from Shutterfly to put in our family art album so I will at least be able to display those during the term.

Composer Study (1x10min week)
This year we will study one composer per term by listening to their music for 10 minutes a week using the following playlists (pieces selected from ones included on Ambleside Online):

Piano (afternoon occupation, 6-7x15min/week)
Hoffman Acadamy [Not an affiliate link! We just love Hoffman Academy.]
Peter is midway through Unit 13 and is bumping right up against the end of the current lessons available on Hoffman Academy. Currently, he alternates between practicing Hoffman Academy and practicing out of one of my old piano books. We will be on the lookout for an in-person piano teacher in the coming year. 

I do not plan to make all of my kids continue in piano, especially once they complete Hoffman Academy through Unit 12. But Peter really enjoys playing so I want to see if we can find a great teacher to keep him learning and growing. It is likely that he will continue Hoffman Academy even with a new teacher.

Physical Education
I had hoped to get Peter started with a local running club for kids this year, but I think that is going to have to wait until next spring or fall. So, our tentative plans include:
  • Ice Skating Lessons (Winter 2021)
  • Swimming Lessons (Summer 2021)
  • Hikes, bike rides, and walks around often, especially in spring, summer, and fall
  • Wild + Free nature group which gets us active and outside as a family for about 4 hours each week

Whew! That's all. Check out past plans and recaps here.

Older Post Newer Post