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Middle School is an exciting time in our homeschool! Math, Reading, Ancient Civilizations, and even video games all getting planned out for the coming year.
If I had to define my homeschool style, I would say we are relaxed, eclectic homeschoolers. I do not purchase an all-in-one curriculum. It’s not how my brain works and those types of packages don’t work for us. While I love the idea of literature-based instruction, my children don’t learn best following that style. So, instead, we piece things together from a variety of resources. Now for the adventure of homeschooling middle school!
Our children have discovered Teaching Textbooks and do incredibly well with that program. During the early review chapters, I have them take the quiz prior to completing the lessons. If they earn a 95 or better, they get to skip the lessons in that chapter and move on to the next. This is particularly helpful during the chapters that review addition and subtraction.
All three children have asked to learn about outer space this year. We have the elementary and middle school copies of the Real Science4Kids Astronomy textbook that we are using as our jumping-off point. We also have several Seymour Simon books that we will read, a puzzle of the solar system, a telescope, and some fun projects that I have found on Teachers Pay Teachers. With my older children, I will also have them keep a notebook and will use an interactive notebook I found on Teachers Pay Teachers.
Language Arts & Writing
This year I’m planning to review basic grammar using a variety of workbooks that we didn’t finish in past years. The children will keep a journal for free writing, but we will not focus on taking most written pieces through the entire writing process. I do want them to write a 5 paragraph essay and with that we will walk through the entire writing process. We are also going to learn how to write friendly letters and thank you notes this year.
In the past, we have used a developmental spelling program. While I still prefer that program, I wanted something that was more hands-off for me this year. Something where I didn’t have to create the word lists, assignments, and assessments.
After a lot of looking around, I found Spelling Workout by Modern Curriculum Press. These workbooks are similar to the spelling textbooks that I remember from being a child. There is a weekly word list and a series of activities to complete over the week. I plan on doing weekly spelling tests, but I’m realistic that I’ll lose momentum with those at some point during the year. I have purchased the homeschool bundle for levels F and G because they came with the teachers manual and were still under $25 each.
There aren’t really handwriting books for middle schoolers, so we are making the switch to copywork. I have made practice workbooks for David & Emily using ZB Fonts Online by Zaner Bloser Handwriting. They will be practicing their handwriting while copying famous quotes, song lyrics, as well as excerpts from movies, poems, and books.
We are integrating reading instruction into all subject areas this year. We will not be doing many reading only lessons. The children were told they are expected to read a book each month – ten books during or academic year – that are from a grade level reading list. I have found several lists on Pinterest, but haven’t compiled them into something usable quite yet. Once I do, I’ll be sure to share.
David and Emily have requested to learn about Ancient Civilizations for middle school social studies and history. I have decided to expand on that a bit to include pre-history through the Reformation. We are using Everything You Need to Ace World History in One Big Fat Notebook as our starting point, and then expanding with Eye Witness Books, art projects, documentaries, mythology studies, and even video games!
We will be creating an interactive notebook for chapters 1-19. I have found several ideas on Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers, so I’m leaning that direction for the note-booking part. It is important to understand that events don’t happen in isolation. We are printing off timeline accordion books for each of them, and we will add to it in future years as we study other areas of history. I’m also going to print off a copy to put across the ceiling specific to this year’s social studies units.
As for the video games, my husband is a fan of the Assassin’s Creed games and our children, specifically David, has been asking to play for quite some time. While these games are rated M, we have decided as a family that they are ok for our children to play. They may not be a good fit for your family at this age, and you may want to wait until your children are older. Every family gets to choose what is best for them which is the best part about homeschooling!
Last winter, we began allowing our son to play them under the condition that when he beat the game he would write a summary of the storyline and then would look up at least 3 facts on the time period of the game to share with the family.
David is currently playing Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood which takes place during the Renaissance. He’s looking forward to Origins which takes place in Egypt. Ubisoft has also released a Discovery Tour of Ancient Egypt which I’m looking forward to watching when we read the chapter on Egypt.
Music is a big part of our lives. We always have music on and listen to a really wide variety of music. We enjoy watching Rick Beato’s YouTube channel, and older concerts by the bands my husband and I enjoy.
This past year, my brother gave each child an instrument for their birthdays. David has an acoustic guitar and Emily has a ukulele. He has gotten them several chord books and the plan is for them to practice three times each week for 15-20 minutes.
Health & Phys Ed
Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts saves the day for this one! David will be completing his Personal Fitness merit badge this year and the activities for that badge will cover health and PE. Emily will be working on her Cadette Archery and Eco-Trekker badges. We will also be doing some of the other homeschool phys ed activities we have done in the past, like yoga and wearing a pedometer to count steps.
We will also be talking about good nutrition as we begin to make some lifestyle changes after developing bad eating habits over the last year. This will be a good health lesson for the entire family.
There are several crafty projects we will be doing along with our social studies lessons. I also have plans to go to Grounds for Sculpture in the fall for a field trip in the cooler weather. In addition, the children have expressed interest in woodworking and sewing so we will explore those topics this year.