Homeschool Curriculum: 5th Grade & 3rd Grade

I was working on the post recapping our first Gather Round unit that we just completed (space!), but before I dive into the specifics of that unit and our experience, I realized I hadn’t yet shared our line up for the girls’ 5th Grade and 3rd Grade homeschool years.

Like I seem to be every new year, I am pretty excited about our line up. I tend to switch things up a little each year, allowing myself to explore and find the best fits for our family. A few things have started to stick around though, as you’ll see below. Let’s jump in!

Hailey (10 Years Old/ 5th Grade)

  • Strengths: creativity, writing, finishing tasks
  • Math: E-Singapore. A month or so into our schoolyear last year I began looking for online options to help me with teaching math. I felt I wasn’t being very effective and it took a lot of prep work on my end. I found E-Singapore and it’s been a gamechanger for us! The kids now don’t fight math and even enjoy it sometimes. They offer short and simple lessons. It allows us to go at our own pace; we can stop and practice a concept for as long as we want before continuing. I would shout this from the rooftop, but I am not convinced it’s a good fit for everyone, as it seems like it isn’t quite perfected yet (we sometimes find errors) and it’s not particularly engaging, just straight forward and simple. We love it though because for us a small, steady drip of math 10 minutes a day works better than hitting it harder and longer for fewer days.
  • Language Arts: IEW SSS, Fix It Grammar, and the language arts incorporated into Gather Round Units
  • Science: Co-op, the science incorporated into Gather Round units, Mystery Science, and Tinker Crates
  • Geography: Beautiful Feet Around the World in Picture Books Part 2
  • Extras: Synthesis, Handwriting Without Tears, Typing, Piano, Spanish and Art at Co-op

Kaitlyn (8 Years Old/ 3rd Grade)

  • Strengths: Mathematical reasoning, science, dramatics
  • Math: E-Singapore
  • Language Arts: All About Spelling, mom-based writing/reading, and the language arts incorporated into Gather Round Units
  • Science: Co-op, the science incorporated into Gather Round units, Mystery Science, and Tinker Crates
  • Geography: Beautiful Feet Around the World in Picture Books Part 2
  • Extras: Handwriting Without Tears, Typing, Piano, Spanish and Art at Co-op

How I’m Structuring Our 2022-2023 Homeschool Year

I’ve implemented a loose structure. We don’t have a strict start time, though it’s usually around 9:30 AM after breakfast. We don’t do a strict “6 weeks on, 1 off” or anything like that. We began in early July and plan to follow this rhythm: Gather Round unit (4-5 weeks), switch to focus on Language Arts (IEW, Fix it Grammar, All About Spelling) and Geography (2 weeks), then begin our next Gather Round unit. Math is a constant through it all.

I feel really good about this right now. I’ll let you know how it works out in practice, but for me it feels like the perfect balance of unit studies, which are fun and engaging, with some extra focus in writing, reading, spelling, and world geography. We just entered our two week focus on language arts and geography and so far, it’s going well!

Why I Chose Gather Round

I chose gather round after hearing several friends say good things about it. We love learning together so it seemed like a good fit. Also, the units offered had several we were really excited about (farming and food, chemistry, entrepreneurship, living off the land, etc). It seemed like a fun way to incorporate some deep dives into topics while keeping it fresh since we’ll begin a new unit every 6ish weeks. Overall, it looked fun and engaging!

Initial Thoughts

We jumped into our first unit, Space, in early July. A few of my initial thoughts during the first week were:

  • This is fast; how are we done for the day already? Sometimes it only took us an hour.
  • I love how this is so easy to open and go- so great for travel! We did it in the car a couple of times on road trips.
  • There’s no way this is enough. Right? Or is it?
  • Oh… that’s fascinating, I didn’t know that. Let’s watch a video/read a book/google that and learn more.

Final Thoughts

After 4 weeks and completing our first unit, I had a better sense of the scope and sequence of the units (at least the space one, but I am looking forward to comparing an earlier released unit, space, to a more recent unit, farming and food). Here were my thoughts at the end of the unit:

  • I love the unit studies! It kept things fresh and fun with a new focus. It also works out well to explore different interests without committing long term. For example, Kaitlyn loves the human body and Hailey does not. So a unit on that would be great for Kaitlyn and tolerable for Hailey since it’s only a short term commitment.
  • I appreciate some assignments it includes that I sometimes forget to do or don’t make time for like copy work and art.
  • The add in hands-on activities are perfect for us- nothing too complex and optional if we feel too busy to pursue them.
  • The community is strong and the support is sincere. The app provides more information than I could use on additional crafts, books, videos, and resources to expand the experience. I see how people could made these units last months and months if they went deep on a topic.
  • It’s fun! The kids liked learning about it and I enjoyed teaching it.

Is Gather Round Enough?

That seems to be the top question I’ve received. The answer is complex and will depend greatly on your family dynamic, your child’s needs, and your homeschool style. I absolutely see how it could be enough, especially if you take your time, dive deep into each lesson, and add on the activities and rabbit trails. And what a fun way to learn!

For us, I knew I wanted to continue to expand Hailey’s writing skills and focus in on reading and spelling with Kaitlyn, so it felt like the right fit to make time for focusing on these areas. Since I only have 2 children, this is feasible. I could see if you have a larger family, sticking with just the Gather Round units would make more sense, as you could all learn together, then add on additional, on-theme bonus activities/assignments to fit each child’s needs without having to purchase and implement separate curriculum.

I have heard that each unit focuses on a slightly different skills. In space, the kids created their own comic books, complete with storyboards, original artwork, and stylistic elements of graphic novels. They turned out SO cute! Perhaps the writing assignment in another unit would focus more on structured writing and over a year’s time of doing different units, you would touch on a lot of different writing (and geography, science, etc) elements. I’ll report back in 2023 🙂

There it is, our 5th grade and 3rd grade curriculum line up; cheers to a great year ahead!