Middle School Age Homeschool Planning 2020-2021

Back To School, School Supplies, Pencil, Education

Finally!!!  I have a few minutes to sit down and tell y’all about what we’ll be doing for our two middleschoolers, woohoo! We have a rising 7th grader & a rising 6th grader.

It is a good thing that some time has passed, as I have been having a hard time deciding what to do after one of my good friends told me about Build Your Library, I am specifically fixated on their level 5 program & books. It’s a literature based approach that offers a non-Colonialist perspective on U.S. History. I highly recommend checking it out. I went ahead and purchases the African American Poetry book, as we have enjoyed the young people’s editions of both the Maya Angelou & Langston Hughes books by the same publisher. I think it went out of print, so we ended up ordering from an independent seller.

Ok, so! I was really inspired by Homeschool of Bel Air‘s post on instagram about a Chicano Studies unit study. When I saw her post it clicked for me that I could create my own literature based reading list for my kids. I sat with what I wanted them to learn about this year, and I settled on expanding my 4th grader’s California History. We have covered California History in the past, but we stuck to the more commonly covered colonialist/missions/manifest destiny type approach.

I thought about how cool and informative it would be to cover California History from the perspective of Indigenous Californians, immigrants, activists, and other players in California’s history. I was also inspired by Oglesby Ohana’s post about a book set with the backdrop of the Black Panther Party in Oakland in the 1960s, SO, with that, and with some new to me research tools, such as Social Justice Books, I took some time to create my very own collection of California History books for my kids! I think I’ll go ahead and dedicate an entirely separate post to that and then come back and update this one with a link, or else this blog post will end up being as long as a treatise!

6th Grade Curriculum Choices:

History:

Let’s get started with my 6th grader! She is still finishing up the Bookshark Eastern Hemisphere Reading with History, which remains my favorite comprehensive study of the non-western history. It involves extensive reading, map work, and study of the social, economic, and political history of various countries located in the Eastern Hemisphere. Countries studied thus far include: China, Korea, Japan, Russia, South East Asia & India. She will move on to Africa (various countries therein with specific corresponding literature), Australia & Antarctica.

Once she finishes that, I will have the California History titles for her to work through. However, due to her extensively insane reading pace which continues to blow my mind (ICYMI this girl started reading in the middle of 4th grade), we may move onto the BYL year 5 during the Spring semester.

She will also be doing Studies Weeklies for our charter.

Science:

This is still a toss up. I am interested in the BYL Science because it specifically covers animals in a way that I think would be appealing to her. I have ordered the REAL Science for Kids middle school level Biology, that she will work on in the Fall semester, and we will see what happens.

UPDATE 7/20/2020:

From my instagram post:

Sooooo, after chatting with Kristina (@blossomandroot), I decided to go ahead and choose Wonders of the Animal Kingdom for my 6th grader for her science for next year! [ETA: this is a secular science curriculum, Kingdom is referring solely to the animal kingdom.]

I was hesitant because it basically says “third grade” all over the place, but after asking her (Kristina) questions & looking at the books used, as well as the many opportunities for expansion, I think we can make it work. [ETA: the curriculum itself says suitable for ages 6-12, IIRC.)

PLUS, most importantly, 6th grader specifically asked me for a science curriculum all about animals, and this is the best I have seen so far. It covers animals only in 36 consecutive lessons!!

[…]

Scope & Sequence (from the website):

Science (appropriate for ages 5 – 12)
• Introduction to the kingdoms of life
• Six key features of the animal kingdom
• Classification of the animal kingdom (kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species)
• Invertebrate phylums and chordates
• Basic animal anatomy and needs (we touch briefly on cells and body systems but go into
depth on these in the fourth grade year)
• Evolution, natural selection, individual variation, mutation, mass extinction, lost ancestors,
fossil evidence, etc.
• Introduction to the various periods (precambrian, cambrian, ordovician, silurian, etc.)
• Trophic levels and the flow of energy
• Food chains and food webs
• Types of animal diets (herbivore, carnivore, omnivore, filter, waste, and liquid)
• Animal senses
• Animal defenses
• Migration and seasonal adaptations
• Animal relationships (communities, parenting, communication, etc.)
• The levels of ecological organization
• What makes a healthy ecosystem
• Succession
• Micro-ecosystems
• Ecosystems of the world
• The cycles of nature
• Human impact
• Exploring invertebrates: bryozoans, roundworms, flat worms, mollusks, segmented worms,
arthropods
• Exploring fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals

I was also hesitant because we did cover the kingdoms last year. But that aspect isn’t as in depth here & if it’s boring to her because it’s repetitive we’ll just skip it! Because you can do that when you homeschool! (Plus she may not get bored because she’s obsessed with animals. So we’ll see!

I’m really really stoked for this. When I was still deciding, I showed the sample to 6th grader, and she said YES! She wanted it!! Woohoo!!!

IMPORTANT: To my knowledge, you cannot buy WAK on its own, you can only buy it as a set. The set includes the prehistoric curriculum I discussed here . That is an optional extension of this program, so it can absolutely be used in tandem/afterwards/whatever.

P.S. How did y’all not tell me about this place sooner?! I only heard of them like 1 week ago and her anti-racism stuff in her U.S. History Level 1 in particular is JUST.

6th grader will also be doing Studies Weeklies for our charter.

English Language Arts:

Duh, we’re doing Brave Writer. In addition to the middle school writing project class that didn’t work out this summer because bureaucracy (of our charter school), she’ll be doing the Arrow & maybe faltering ownership as well. (7/10/20 update: I got the faltering ownership.)

The books for the Arrow this year are (Brave Writer Links, I just copy & pasted):

AugustThe Wild Robot Escapes (Peter Brown)
SeptemberThe Nerviest Girl in the World (Melissa Wiley)
OctoberFish in a Tree (Lynda Mullaly Hunt)
NovemberChildren of the Longhouse (Joseph Bruchac)
DecemberGreenglass House (Kate Milford)
JanuaryPax (Sara Pennypacker)
FebruaryThe People Could Fly (Virginia Hamilton)
MarchWings of FireBook One (Tui T. Sutherland)
AprilAmal Unbound (Aisha Saeed)
MayMañanaland (Pam Muñoz Ryan)

Additionally, she will be doing a foreign language as yet to be determined. She has studied French in the past, due directly to her interest in baking. She will also be using Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics; Spectrum Vocabulary Grade 6; and Spelling Workout.

I am also thinking of some kind of copywork, but the Arrow will likely be more than enough for that purpose. I also got her several books for free reading, and she has ensured me that she will make a new list as well. Fortunately, our libraries are now offering hold pickup options, so we are now able to sustain these insanely high levels of book consumption within our household!

Math:

We will continue with Singapore Math & Khan Academy. She will also be enrolled in the middle school math class offered by our charter homeschool.

Enrichment:

She will continue with her virtual violin lessons. We are waiting to see whether any in person ensemble classes will be available in the Fall. We are also waiting to see what happens for soccer. We may do swimming lessons, anything in person is up in the air!

7th Grade

This girl is a bit harder to plan for as she has a very high capacity and enjoys being pushed within her zone of proximal development. This year I decided to hand her my copy of Some of My Best Friends are Books and having her make me a list of free reading material. I also let her look through the Honey for a Child’s Heart book list and make some selections. The hardest part of parenting a gifted reader is being able to find books that are intellectually challenging enough yet appropriate content wise. This child has already read through every conceivable series that exists for her age, so the librarian is one of our best friends. In these times, however, we are unable to confer so we are having to look for other tools.

History:

In addition to some of the books from the California History list, she wanted to continue with her world history progression. Last year she did two history curriculums simultaneously, Oak Meadow & Bookshark. So this year she’ll do Bookshark Level H, which is the second year of world history:

She’ll do the lapbook as well as the assigned reading, as she thoroughly enjoyed the projects last year.

I am also hoping to make a better use of the discussion questions, and maybe tie in some writing projects, as she wont have the Oak Meadow writing projects this year. She decided that she wanted to take a break from the writing intensive program this year as she has a big event coming up at the end of the fall semester.

Science:

She will be focusing on Earth Science this year, doing the middle school level REAL Science 4 Kids Geology & Astronomy.

Math:

Still undecided. We may continue with Singapore or we may go with Saxon math. She will still be using Khan Academy, and she will also be enrolled in our charter’s middle school math class.

English Language Arts:

I am the most excited about the Boomerang book selections this year!!! (Links included are Brave Writer’s):

August: Emma (Jane Austen)
September: A Long Way Home: A Memoir (Saroo Brierley) [movie edition: Lion]
October: The Hound of the Baskervilles (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)
November: How I Became a Ghost (Tim Tingle)
December: The Wizard of Oz (L. Frank Baum)
January: Other Words for Home (Jasmine Warga)
February: Blink (Malcolm Gladwell)
March: They Called Us Enemy (George Takei )
April: Our Town (Thornton Wilder)
May: Refugee (Alan Gratz)

She will be reading the books and doing the various projects. Additionally, she will also be doing Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics, Spelling Workout, and something relating to vocabulary probably Spectrum, we’ll see.

She may also take a course with Brave Writer, I am letting her look and see what she’s interested in. It may end up being a Boomerang monthly book club or a page to screen as those are the two that she’s been the most interested in.

Enrichment

She will become a Bat Mitzvah this year, so she will have classes 3-4 days a week, including Hebrew & Torah study. She will continue with Latin, though I’m not sure whether she will be doing Latin for Children C or Latin Alive! 1. Additionally, we are trying to figure out a sport for her to try, but it’s difficult without the ability to know what the options are. She has been doing some running with me when possible. She will continue her virtual piano lessons.

I also ordered most of the books on her list as well as some others I want her to read. As Julie Bogart (Brave Writer) has said, we don’t have the yellow school bus, but we do have the UPS, FEDEX & mail trucks that come every fall and deliver giant cardboard boxes filled with books.

Happy planning friends! and please let me know if you have any questions!

mail-truck-3248139_1280

I also got them some really cute school supplies, but I don’t want to post about them before they arrive! Maybe I’ll do a separate post or come back and post later!

I’ll be doing a YouTube unboxing when evverything arrives. And I will do a grade specific explanation so that you can visualize all the things. In the meantime, I have a few videos up so far, so you can see what we’re up to there!

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