Our Curriculum Choices for Middle School

This coming year marks our eighth year of homeschool and it is full of changes and new beginnings. Both of the kids will be in middle school – 7th and 5th grades. I can hardly believe it!

They are both more independent and their skills have grown enough that I know they are ready for more. To achieve the goals they have for themselves, I need to strengthen our schedule. Push them a little harder.

curriculum choices

Science

As science is my strength, I will continue to plan and coordinate hands-on activities in science for small groups of local homeschoolers. I will be sharing many of these resources here so be sure to check back if there is something you need.  Our plan this year includes geology, human anatomy, light and sound, and chemistry.

I am very excited to share that I have finished the complete life science series, Botany: Plenty O’Plants, Zoology: Amazing Animals, and Ecology: Exploring Ecology. All my curriculum units can be found in my store, Science Logic, and the freebies are organized here, Science Freebies.

This year, however, we will be augmenting our study with Joy Hakim’s The Story of Science, the first of which is Aristotle Leads the Way. We are really excited to explore science in a chronological perspective alongside our history studies.

We will continue to do informal nature study. This is best described as enjoying nature, spending time in nature, observing what we see, identifying or researching in order to identify once we get back home, and recording (via Project Noah and our nature journals). I use the Handbook of Nature Study newsletters and posts for inspiration – as well as share articles with you through this outlet.

History & Geography

We are particularly excited about history as we will begin the cycle again. This time we are using The History of the Ancient World by Susan Wise Bauer. While is is the same author as Story of the World, we have heard so many good things, we opted to stick with it.

Years ago, I had purchased Mapping the World by Heart but it has done nothing but collect dust.  This year, I vow to put it to use. I know a solid foundation in geography will serve us well in the future.

Math

Early on, I discovered Singapore Math and it worked well for us so we stuck with it all through the elementary years. As my oldest moved through 6A and finally 6B, however, it was clear she needed more review.

We thereby gave Life of Fred – Fractions a tryShe was thrilled with the story format and her love of math returned.  I encountered the same struggle with my son as he finished Singapore 6B. Thus, I am delighted they will both be using Life of Fred this year, Beginning Algebra and Fractions.

Language Arts

This is the one area I struggle with the most. I can’t seem to settle on one curriculum. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I know I can successfully teach without it. But as they approach high school, like any homeschool mom, I worry, “Am I doing enough?”

I lean towards a Charlotte Mason style of education, full of living books, the arts, and real life learning. The whole language approach has worked well for us in elementary. Through middle school, however, I know I need to make some changes.

My daughter is an avid reader and I have never had to push her to read. My son, on the other hand, is always moving and doing something with his hands. He also has nystagmus. He thereby prefers books with larger print which are harder to come by.

This past spring, I started a Literature Circle to give the kids an opportunity to learn from their peers. It incorporates a weekly Writer’s Workshop and the kids are loving it! Getting feedback from their friends has strengthened their confidence as young writers and has encouraged them to write more.  As we move forward, I will incorporate more tools and strategies to improve their writing. One idea I gleaned from Jimmie Lanley is peer editing. I am excited to give this a go this year.

Literature Circle also incorporates a monthly Book Club, whereby the kids choose titles which we discuss as a group.  It has been working well but I need help coming up with discussion questions. I thereby purchased the Words Aptly Spoken series. Each of the study guides provides a useful tool, combining both author information and study questions of classic literature for deeper analysis.

I am also very intrigued by the Boomerang program at Brave Writer.  I will be purchasing several single issues to give the program a try this coming year.  Selecting our own Boomerangs according to the books the kids have selected will allow me to tailor the language arts program specifically to each of them.

Foreign Language

Perhaps the biggest change of all, however, is that our Mandarin teacher and his wife are expecting a new baby any day now.  While this wouldn’t necessarily impact us, he also finished his doctorate degree last year, and has thereby accepted a full-time position at Marshall University in West Virginia.

As we travel often, we have become comfortable with occasional online lessons via Skype. The kids are adapt at using multiple tools simultaneously. Moving forward, however, we will need to adjust to all of our lessons via Skype.

We will continue to use Better Chinese curriculum. However, the kids will move away from Our First Chinese Reader (essentially the elementary program) and begin Discovering Chinese. Designed for middle school students, it integrates more collaborative projects and I hope more opportunities for the kids to communicate with one another in their second language.

In addition, the complete series is available on iPad with reading, speaking, and listening activities making up the backbone of the program. Audio and video are streamlined throughout the lessons as well as cultural lessons.

More Curriculum Ideas

Do you wish you could pick-the-brain of experienced homeschooling moms?  Then you need to get this amazing, resource-filled e-book download (including a chapter I authored on Inquiry Science for Middle School) for just $10.99! Click HERE to buy or for more information.

Big-Book-promo-2
You can also see what curriculum choices other homeschool families are making this week at the Not Back To School Blog Hop from the iHomeschool Network.

Come back often to visit new additions all week this week. Next Monday is the school room post. Get those “where we do school” photos ready! Grab a button so your bloggy friends can share their hard work, too.

nbtsbloghopcalendar2014

About Eva Varga

Eva is passionate about education. She has extensive experience in both formal and informal settings. She presently homeschools her two young children, teaches professional development courses through the Heritage Institute, and writes a middle level secular science curriculum called Science Logic. In addition to her work in education, she is an athlete, competing in Masters swimming events and marathons. In her spare time she enjoys reading, traveling, learning new languages, and above all spending time with her family. ♥

10 comments on “Our Curriculum Choices for Middle School

  1. I am excited to see how your year goes. I’ve thought about using The History of the Ancient World by Susan Wise Bauer for high school since we’ve loved her Story of the World so far. We also love Life of Fred; my oldest will hit Fractions this year, too. And thanks for sharing about the Boomerangs at Brave Writer because not I am thinking about trying one of those to see how we like it.

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    • What a great idea! I hadn’t thought of that. We have numerous eBooks – I share that option with him. Thank you so much! :)

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