Our Free & Frugal 5th Grade Curriculum Picks
It’s hard to believe it’s already January and we’re halfway through another school year! As we begin 2019 and a new semester, I thought it would be a good time to share what curriculum we use with our own children. Here’s what we’ve been using for 5th grade curriculum.
Our 5th grade son, who I’ll call Gamer Guy for this post, uses Math Mammoth grade 5. In March of last year, I purchased the complete Math Mammoth Light Blue Series from Homeschool Buyers Co-Op at 50% off. This PDF bundle included everything needed to teach math for grades 1st through 7th for only $87.50. That works out to only about $12.50 per grade and even less if you consider it can be reprinted for younger children! Homeschool Buyer’s Co-Op usually has this 50% off sale every March, but they also frequently have 30 to 40% off sales throughout the year. So far, I have found that nearly all of the pages of Math Mammoth work fine printed in black and white, which keeps printing costs low. We like the worktext format of Math Mammoth. The explanation and practice problems are on the same page with plenty of space to work the problems. Also, we have found that Math Mammoth’s mastery-based approach works better for Gamer Guy than curriculums that are more spiral in nature. Math Mammoth also offers free video lessons, which will be helpful to users of any curriculum.
Gamer Guy uses XtraMath a few times per week to review math facts and work on speed. This free math facts fluency program helps children master addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts. XtraMath tracks progress and generates reports for the parent/teacher. After the child has mastered an operation, they are awarded a printable certificate, which we have found to be motivating.
Gamer Guy started out this school year a little over halfway through The Good and the Beautiful Language Arts (TGTB) Level 4. The Good and the Beautiful has generously made levels one through five of their language arts curriculum available for free download. This curriculum includes much more than you’ll typically find in a language arts course—grammar, composition, reading, literature, spelling, art, and geography! We love how all these different subject areas are woven together, rather than being unrelated (and boring) workbook pages in a stack of separate books. For example, while reading Carlotta (a book about a family who immigrated to America from Italy), Gamer Guy studied Italian geography and art, created a pastel drawing of the Italian countryside, and prepared an Italian dish. Sentences for grammar exercises and diagramming practice were even taken from Carlotta. There was also a writing exercise related to the book.
Gamer Guy has finished TGTB Language Arts Level 4, but needed a little more grammar practice before moving on to TGTB Language Arts Level 5, so now he’s using Beowulf Grammar from Guest Hollow. Beowulf Grammar is a one-year grammar curriculum designed to be used by second through sixth graders. The comic style lessons, humor, and memorable characters in Beowulf Grammar make learning grammar fun. A homeschooling family, including three siblings and Beowulf, the family dog, are featured throughout the book. The lessons incorporate sentences, short stories, and comics about the family, all within the context of normal family life. This makes the content more relatable for homeschooled children than other grammar textbooks, which are often designed for a school setting. Beowulf Grammar is sold on Guest Hollow’s website in PDF format. The cost is currently $40 for a set including the student workbook and teacher’s manual, however, I was able to purchase it during a sale for $30. This may not be what most would consider frugal for something you have to print yourself, but considering you can reprint it as many times as you want for younger siblings, the price isn’t too bad. Additionally, I’ve found that I only need to print the student workbook. I view the teacher’s manual on the computer.
We added Spelling Plus to Gamer Guy’s language arts curriculum. TGTB Language Arts Level 4 was lacking a bit in spelling instruction and Beowulf Grammar does not include spelling since it’s only grammar. Spelling Plus is a complete spelling program for kindergarten through 6th grade. The program focuses on the 1000 most commonly used and misspelled words, teaching ten in kindergarten and 165 in each of the remaining grades. I purchased Spelling Plus: 1000 Words Toward Spelling Success new for about $16 and the Spelling Dictation Resource Book for about $11. That’s less than $30 total to teach all or your kids spelling through 6th grade! The most valuable part of this program has been the Spelling Dictation Resource Book. It contains short sentences and paragraphs to be dictated to the child after completing each word list in Spelling Plus. Not only do these dictation exercises help Gamer Guy commit the words to memory, but they also provide needed grammar reinforcement and writing practice.
Gamer Guy uses Pentime Penmanship 5 for cursive writing practice. This simple and affordable workbook only costs $6. Each grade level of Pentime’s handwriting program has a different theme. The theme of the 5th grade book is wildlife and nature, so Gamer Guy has been learning interesting facts about a variety of animals as he completes his cursive workbook.
This school year Gamer Guy has been learning to type with typing.com. This free program teaches touch typing through interactive lessons. The Student may begin at the beginner, intermediate, or advanced level. The program tracks progress and provides additional lessons for frequently missed keys. We’ve found this to be a simple and enjoyable way to learn to type. Gamer Guy likes working to increase his speed and accuracy scores.
Gamer Guy has completed two levels (Courses E & F) of code.org this school year. This free website teaches visual block-based programming through interactive coding activities, projects, and videos. The free teacher’s account tracks progress and includes lesson plans and assignment solutions. When the child completes a course the website generates a free printable certificate of completion. Gamer Guy says that learning to code with code.org has been fun.
Gamer Guy is currently working on GCF’s FREE Computer Basics course. This is a fairly short course which covers basics like, parts of the computer, software, using the internet, safety, and maintenance. The lessons are presented with text and videos. This would be a good first introduction for a child or adult who hasn’t had much computer experience. Gamer Guy says that, so far, a lot of it has been things he knows, but he has learned some new things too.
We haven’t done a lot with Spanish this school year, but Gamer Guy is using Memrise to learn and review Spanish vocabulary. Memrise is a free program that helps students memorize vocabulary. The activities include multiple choice questions, typed responses, and listening activities. An unexpected benefit of using this is that Gamer Guy has taught himself to take notes, in order to do well on the questions that require a typed response.
Gamer Guy does history, science, and Bible with his 3rd grade sister, Unicorn Girl. Doing these subjects together as a family simplifies our homeschool day and is much more fun, because we can do science experiments and other activities together.
For science, we use Mystery Science. Mystery Science offers a limited number of FREE annual memberships each week. Mystery Science’s online lessons teach using a discovery approach. Each lesson features engaging videos which stop frequently for an activity or discussion. All of the experiments and activities use items that you should be able to find around your home or at your local grocery or discount store. This curriculum is designed for classroom use, but most of the activates are easily adapted to a smaller group or single child. Each lesson includes printable assessment questions and many also include printable handouts or templates for use in the activities. Both of our kids have really enjoyed the videos and activities in this curriculum. In fact, they both say that science is now one of their favorite subjects. Each unit in this curriculum has a suggested age range, spanning a few years, which makes it easy to teach siblings together. Mystery Science offers a suggested sequence for the units, but they may be taught in any order. I like that this makes it easy to choose science units to go with what they are learning in other subjects.
For history, we use The Good and The Beautiful History Year 2. We purchased the physical course set for $77. This set includes a physical copy of the Course Book and the Maps & Images Book, a link to 24 online audio dramatizations, Student Explorer workbooks (PDF download), Explorers and Settlers card game, and a history timeline with stickers for Years 1 & 2. This history curriculum is perfect for children 1st through 12th grade to do together. The entire family uses the same Course Book, but there are separate Student Explores for different grade ranges. Assignments in the Student Explorers increase in complexity for higher grades. The Good and The Beautiful (TGTB) History courses are written from a Christian worldview and incorporate Christian and Biblical history. The engaging audio dramatizations feature homeschooling siblings who explore history with their aunt, uncle, and cousin. The Explorers and Settlers game makes reviewing the material in the course entertaining, rather than a chore. Something different about TGTB History is that every course (Years 1-4) covers ancient history through modern history, but each course stops in different places and time periods to explore. This allows children to see the whole sweep of history and how it fits together each year. I think this approach makes it much easier for younger children to understand history. And it’s more interesting than spending an entire year on a single time period. It also means that both U.S. and world history are taught every year, which is another plus.
Our Family uses Long Story Short for Bible. This book consists of 78 weeks’ worth of devotionals. Only $20 for a book of devotionals that lasts a year and a half makes this book very affordable. Each week consists of five daily devotions. Days one through four chronologically study the Old Testament. The fifth day studies a passage from Psalms or one of the prophets that relates to what was covered in the first four days. Each daily devotional ends with group discussion questions and prayer suggestions. We enjoy how simple, yet comprehensive this Bible study is. As you progress through the devotions you’re reminded of the previous days’ readings, which helps the children remember what they have learned. Also, throughout the book children are encouraged to apply what they are learning to their lives. Both of our children have enjoyed this book and learned a lot. The author of this book has also written a devotional book called, Old Story New, which covers the New Testament chronologically over the course of a year and a half.
Thanks for stopping by! Stay tuned; my next post will be Our Free & Frugal 3rd Grade Curriculum Picks.