Monday, April 19, 2010

Homeschooling – 5th grade U.S. American History

Although this blog is mostly about food (ah, food – glorious food!), I frequently get emails regarding homeschooling. You’ll note that my side bar hints at our homeschooling journey, and so I thought I’d share a little bit of what we do ‘round here during the day.

This is our fourth consecutive year homeschooling, and I am presently teaching 8th and 5th grades. Over the years, I’ve used accredited complete curriculums such as Calvert (grades 5-7 in the past) and Connections Academy (currently using for Gr 8), and can’t say enough good things about them. For my current 5th grader, I’ve actually assembled my own curriculum and it’s going amazingly well.

Today’s post focuses on 5th grade, specifically highlighting what we are currently studying in US History: The American Revolution. My youngest daughter’s learning style leans towards projects, and so, with a little help from the Evan-Moor publication shown below, we are completing our first “History Pocket”.

History Pockets are focused theme lessons that enable students to engage the material via hands on projects. The end result is a compilation of mini-lessons/projects in a series of homemade binder “pockets” that allows students to experience information outside of traditional textbooks. By the way, I’m not a textbook basher. I was the type of kid who liked to read encyclopedias (HEY! I heard that! Don’t judge me! :-)), but my youngest really thrives in a more multi-presentation approach, hence our attraction to History Pockets. An added bonus, too, is that this can be placed in her homeschool portfolio should I ever be asked to provide samples of her work. Oregon is actually a homeschool friendly state, but I like to have all my bases covered, if you know what I mean. These books may be available at your local library; however, they are pretty popular and might require you to request them on a hold list.
In addition to the History Pocket, we are also incorporating information found in the book titled The Complete Book of United States History by American Education Publishing.
This little gem of a book is a great information companion that provides attractive information such as details about Women Heroines of the Revolution plus attention-grabbing tidbits like how to properly fold the flag.
Do you know how to fold a flag? I’m sure I learned in Brownies at some point, but have long since forgotten.

We are also reading the novel titled My Brother Sam Is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier. Now, don’t be put off by the slightly, uh, morbid title. This is an award winning novel that really gives a well rounded perspective of how families are affected by their differing political views, how they deal with change, how government actions affect day to day living, and the utter devastation that comes with war. Hmm ... does anyone besides me see the parallels to today’s political climate? Another good choice for reading is the great classic, Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes, which my 8th grade son read this year for his American History studies. Both books can be easily found at your local library. (Homeschool hint:  Check out two copies of the book from your library, and you can your child can easily take turns reading out loud without having to pass the book back and forth!)

Anyway, we will be wrapping up the American Revolution this week. This has been a great hands on project, and best of all, has really “clicked” with my student. Her retention is skyrocketing, and I've enjoyed the hands-on project approach, too. And, yeah, I do refer to her as my student from time to time (In my heart, she’s my youngest baby. Shhh ... don’t tell her I said that!) .

I do have one more thing I’d like to add to our lessons, and that would be to have her learn to cook something from this time period. If anyone has any recommendations, I’m all ears, or as in this cyber environment, all eyes. Remember, bread items are not an option as we can’t do anything requiring wheat. Other than that, it’s fair game. Send me your ideas, please!

For anyone considering homeschooling, I can only say that it’s been an amazing journey that I wouldn’t trade for anything. There are good days and not so great ones, but the majority are so positively rich and rewarding. I love it. I. LOVE. IT.

(By the way, the publishers mentioned in this post have no idea that I exist let alone use their products. I get no royalties from mentioning them here. However, if a publisher would like to send me their stuff for free, I’m willing to give it a go!)


Manggy said...

Hmm, I think working with vegetables - preparing them, roasting them, quick sautes, nice soups - would be a good place to start. Keep up the good work! :)

Cathy said...

Love your post, Paula. I really admire parents who take on the responsibility of home schooling. It sounds like a rich and rewarding experience.

Marjie said...

Johnny Cakes. I'm off to the neurosurgeon shortly, but I'll let you know what I find. Glad Little Miss is doing well. Mark's enjoying his Calvert 5th grade history this year (we're firmly enmeshed in the state report right remember those, right?)!

Have a great day!

The Blonde Duck said...

Hope you're doing well!

noble pig said...

My kids made those books but for Thanksgiving...they made them two years ago and they still have them and go through them. But I am amazed you home school, good for you.

Pam said...

Good for you Paula - I think home schooling is great.

Mitali Kadakia said...

Hey Paula
I also homeschool and I had some queries.Is it possible to get your email ID.My email ID is