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H.O.M.E.School Journal: 5th Grade Review (2016-2017)

dry ice science

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We survived our first year of homeschool!

In the last homeschool post, I might have mentioned that I would do a quarterly review.  I might have been a tad ambitious.  In fact, you might be able to hear me laughing out loud, right through your screen.  In said year, we put a real roof on our house, traveled to 3 different states, and had a baby.  I’m just going to push that word quarterly to the time when my youngest is reading on his own, because that’s probably when I’ll have time to sit down and write!




Onward Ho!

Ever since I heard the Savvy Homeschool Moms talk about the power of Ta-Da! lists instead of To-Do Lists, I became a believer.  I still make oodles of lists, but the Ta-Da ones are so satisfying.  This post is one of them.

homeschool books 5th grade classical eclectic
Just a few books in this year’s collection. Thank you, Godparents!


What we “Covered”:

I think it was Christopher Perrin who said, and I’m paraphrasing, if all you do is “cover” the material, then you don’t actually learn it, because you can’t even see it!  Clever.





History:  Following the advice of classical educators (especially The Well-Trained Mind) decided on history studies being in chronological order starting with the ancients.  Our focus was early humans through the fall of Rome.  We found that reading the selections in the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia and taking notes was an effective way to absorb information.  Then, I picked out specific dates, important people, discoveries, or places of interest and we delved deeper into library books on those topics to learn more.  At the end of each quarter, I made up a fill-in-the-blank review just to see how much he was retaining and found that he did really well.  Score!!   History has been one of my favorite places for schole, because I get to relearn all the awesome stuff that I rarely paid attention to during my school years.

cuneiform history 5th grade homeschool
Cuneiform and other early writing
homeschool laptop off-grid kids
Laptop use is limited, but powered by the sun!
ancient history 5th grade homeschool
Ancient battles history project using the Risk Godstorm board and pieces



Math: We completed Saxon Math 6/5 and Life of Fred: Fractions, as well as some miscellaneous downloaded worksheets.  This was the subject completed first every morning so it was sure to get done.  I’m glad I made the executive decision to work on math first thing in the morning, because it got done everyday with very little complaining or distraction.  I was pretty happy with myself during the checking process because I can still comprehend 5th grade math.  Yay!  When I asked if Julius liked the way we do math, he said yes, and that Fred makes math fun.

saxon math homeschool 5th grade
Mr. Saxon math with little brother
dry erase board checklist 5th grade homeschool
Check list dry erase board



Language Arts: I’ve been all over the place about how we would do language arts and so we have tried lots of different things.  We have relied mostly on Brave Writer resources and IEW freebies online.  I love both of their methods in learning about literature and grammar.  I assigned Homer Price as our first monthly novel and he read it in the first 2 days, so then I knew I had to step up my game.  So, I started assigning him specific chapters to read and then plenty of discussion, copywork, and dictation.  That slowed him down and allowed him a bit of literary analysis.  We did Key Word Outlines as per the Institute for Excellence in Writing, and a handful of Poetry Tea Times.  He also completed 2 big writing projects; a Greek myth that turned out fabulous and a short story on Buddhism to compliment our world religion studies which was absolutely horrid for all involved.  It was a lesson in persevering and finishing what we started.  I look forward to beginning more novels from Brave Writer’s  Pouch of Boomerangs collection for 6th grade.


poetry books
Poetry Tea Time
poetry tea time
Poetry tea time every time we have visitors
handwriting copywork
Handwriting improvement through copywork


Science:  Because I have so many great pictures of Science projects, you might think that it’s our favorite subject.  I will let you in on a little secret: science is not my thing!  It just makes better photographs than math lessons.  We used Real Science Odyssey (Biology) that we downloaded.  Now I know to get everything in hard copy because our power is limited and printers are often unreliable.  He read and took notes on the units and completed the associated quizzes, practiced using his grandpa’s high-powered microscope to look at cells and plants, and did lots of projects and research on DNA, genetics, and cells.  We also did a big unit study on Charles Darwin and did some experiments with genetic drift, mutation, and other Darwin-related stuff.  Botany in a Day was also a big hit, once he got the hang of making a nature journal of all the plant species he identified.  That study has piqued his interest in medicinal plants and their uses, giving me lots of ideas for next year’s science studies.

animal cell model
Real Science Odyssey model of an animal cell
marshmallow dna model 5th grade homeschool
DNA model with marshmallows
real science odyssey biology
Real Science Odyssey projects
grafting cactus
Grafting cactus
geology 5th grade homeschool
A little bit of Geology
owl poo
Dissecting Owl Pellets with the homeschool group
darwin finches study 5th grade homeschool 5th grade science
Darwin and his finches study



Art: Even though art is my very favorite subject, we didn’t have time for a lot of it.  And it’s definitely not his strong suite.  We did some picture study and research on: MC Escher, Monet, and Renoir, a color wheel practice and design, and art museum trips.  Because of his interest in plants, I think we’ll do more with sketching and drawing next year.

art science
Art finds it’s way into other subjects. Science here.
Chihuly sculpture 5th grade homeschool
OKC Art Museum Chihuly Sculptures
OKC Museum of art homeschool 5th grade
Chihuly Art with Shrinky-Dinks
Escher Art: Tessellations


Latin: He completed Getting Started with Latin by William Linney.  We didn’t begin this book until the middle of the year, so he finished it during his “summer break,” which is the month of September.  He really enjoys this study, partly because he can impress his friends, and partly because Latin is such a “de-codable” language.  And you should see the pride in the face of his Illinois Grandpa when they talk about this “dead language,” that just a couple of decades ago was common education.

Other: There were plenty of other “subjects” we touched on throughout the year; keyboarding, poetry memorization, tiny bits of cursive writing and guitar practice, major world religions study, bitcoin research, and command line (computer coding).



Detectives in Togas by Henry Winterfield, 1953

Homer Price by Robert McCloskey, 1943

Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelan, 2000

Frindle by Andrew Clements, 1996

Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis, 1999

Charles Darwin by Kathleen Krull, 2010

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park, 2010

Frankenstein (Children’s Classics edition) Mary Shelley, adapted by Bethany Snyder

The Omnivore’s Dilemma Young Reader’s Edition by Michael Pollan, 2015

We could not have done this without the library!



Science Museum (OKC)

3 trips to the OKC Art Museum

Our local secular homeschool group meetings

Grass-Fed Beef Conference

Young Frankenstein at the Performing Arts Theater

Art classes at the Art Muesum

Week long Starbase!

2 College graduations

steam starbase
Starbase STEAM week-long camp
Uncle Scott, one college role model
xoo trip homeschool
Zoo trips!


Pompeii: The Last Day

Alexander the Great

The Gladiator

Seven Years in Tibet


Writing Projects:

Greek Myth (Fiction Story, 8 pages)

World Religion 2 page paper on Buddhism

Several Key Word Outlines (mostly Aesop’s Fables)

Occasionally, school takes place in bed


Science Projects:

Model of a cell

Model of DNA with marshmallows

Darwin’s Finches seed study

Owl pellet dissection

Grafting cactus

Electroplating metals in solution

marshmallow tower
Marshmallow “study” was actually a meeting on heart function
Darwin day was celebrated with triple berry pie
lemon battery
Lemon battery
botany in a day
Outside the library is as good a place as any to identify plants. Botany in a Day.

Life Skills:

Working with large animals (cattle)

Driving lessons (in the pasture)

Reading instructions

Cooking & Washing Dishes

Getting along with family

Baby care

Grounding and Visualization


Catching and cleaning fish

Staying away from home (week-long visits with both grandpas)

States visited: Colorado, Illinois, Texas

Home economics
Week-long visit to Illinois
chicken coop
Chicken coop building
baby moby wrap
Baby care
Working with large animals, agriculture.

The Weaknesses of this year:

Keeping the toddler occupied.

Staying on task!

Limited internet, no WiFi.

Being unorganized due to construction on the house.

new baby
Busy family with a new addition

The Strengths of this year:

Relationship building!

Adjusting the attitudes of everyone in our family.

Learning patience, determination, focus, and constructive criticism.

Progress, not perfection (Thank you so much, Julie Bogart!)

baby brother and botany in a day
Botany lessons with baby brother
biology okc zoo
Zoo trips for Biology


At the end of the year, I asked Julius a slew of questions about changes we should make to our homeschool.  He said he’d like to do more worksheets.  What?!  And potions, alchemy, and chemistry.  He does not like taking notes and never ever wants to write a short story about religion again.  We’ll see what he says about that paper when he’s in high school.  He gave this year 7 out of 10 stars.  I gave it 8, but I’m optimistic.  Operation: Adventure in Homeschooling 6th Grade begins October 2nd.

Here’s what I thought this year would look like before it started.

Check out my homeschooling resources page.

Here’s a list of podcasts for the secular homeschooling mama.

Here’s my reflections blog, all about building our earthbag home and homeschooling and living off-the-grid. 







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Hey.  I’m Alison; author, artist, and off-grid homeschooling mama of three.  I love painting, exploring the outdoors, and a hoppy IPA.  My partner and I work together to bring this website and blog to you.  We hope you enjoy!