Curriculum Reviews · What Works

5th Grade Curriculum and Routine

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Our Morning Routine

We do these things in this order because it’s what works for us. If any part of it doesn’t suit you or your kids, it is OKAY to do things differently. Even if it doesn’t work exactly as written for you, I hope that you’ll at least find some information and ideas that will be useful to you.

Read Aloud

(start time – roughly 10am)

Even though my kids are capable of reading on their own now, I still start our days with a read aloud because kids continue benefitting from read alouds through their teen years. It’s a great way to model skills like prereading, inferencing, and predicting by thinking them aloud. If you’re looking for some read aloud book ideas, you’ll find some great ideas in my 4th Grade Read Alouds post. We enjoyed them last year, but each selection is also perfect for 5th graders.

History and Geography – Core Knowledge as Spine

We’re following the order and using the student readers from the Core Knowledge history and geography curriculum, but I edit their resources down to just what I know will be valuable and interesting. No busywork worksheets here. Then I like to add in resources from our library, applicable documentaries and videos from streaming services and YouTube, as well as any crafting or other activities that will make learning memorable and fun.

Inca Pottery Painting

I like fitting history into our day in this spot because we are NOT morning people, so extra time snuggled up on the sofa with books and coffee is always a plus.

Grammar – Michael Clay Thompson

We round out our first block of the school day with MCT grammar. As far as grammar programs go, it’s pretty cozy.

Alternating Short Break

After our grammar work, the kids take turns taking a short break to stretch their legs and working with me one-on-one for spelling.

Spelling – All About Spelling

Spelling is the only morning activity that we don’t do together. It’s no accident that everything else in the morning is done together. Doing at least some of your work together is CRUCIAL to helping you get through the day with efficiency and sufficient patience and energy. Spelling, though, is one subject that needs one-on-one focus. Working with one child at a time helps me hone in on exactly how well the child is understanding the rule we’re working on and allows me to give immediate feedback, which is an important component of effective spelling instruction.

Doing at least some of your work together is CRUCIAL to helping you get through the day with efficiency and sufficient patience and energy.

Science – R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey

We’re finishing the Chemistry level 1 book that we didn’t quite finish last year, and I placed it at this point in our routine because the frequent labs/experiments tend to give my kids an infusion of energy and curiosity that helps us make one last push before lunch.

One of my pet peeves about homeschooling science is rounding up the collection of stuff needed to complete the labs, so I was really pleased to see that Home Science Tools sells lab kits specifically compiled for each Real Science Odyssey (aka R.S.O) level and subject. Totally. Worth. It. Here’s the Chemistry kit.

Working on the Group 17 Page in our Book of Elements

Lunch – Lunch Documentary (roughly 12 pm)

Ahhh, we’ve made it through the first half of the day! Some families may use meal times to reconnect and talk about their days, but this homeschooling family of introverts is ready to disconnect from each other a little bit by this point. We use this time to sometimes watch a documentary that coincides with a history or science unit we’re studying, and we often use it to let the kids steer the learning to whatever interests them. They’ve been watching National Geographic shows about sharks lately.

And, YES, the lunch documentary is fair game to count as instructional time. If you’re worried about meeting a certain number of daily hours set by your state, lunch documentary time can absolutely help you meet that requirement comfortably.


After the lunch documentary, we take an hour long break to recharge. They usually play in their bedrooms or outside if the weather is nice, and I tidy the morning’s school stuff and the kitchen mess.

Our Afternoon Routine

(reconvene at roughly 2 pm)

In the afternoon, the kids split up and take turns working with me and working at the computer.

Kid #1 – Working with Me

It really is amazing how much more efficiently we can work when we tackle the biggies (math and reading) one on one.

Math – JUMP Math

Every day we complete about two pages from this workbook. On days when the concept is something we’ve worked on before, we usually pick straight up with the workbook and save a little time in our day. On days when we’re working on a new concept, I take the time to work through the instructions in the teacher manual, and those days tend to take longer.

P.S. If you’re looking to save a little money on curriculum, the JUMP Math workbooks are only about $15 dollars each (2 workbooks needed for the year). And teacher’s manuals and other materials are available for FREE on the JUMP Math website. In my experience as a homeschooler, it’s a rare value for a quality product.


My kids completed the All About Reading program last year, but we still invest time in developing fluency and reviewing some of rules of reading.


Kid #2 – Working at the Computer

As my kids get older, I always have an eye toward helping them gain some independence. This time in our day helps us work toward that, and it’s one of the kids’ favorite parts of the day, too.

Typing – Typing Pal

Typing Pal is a real bargain at the Homeschool Buyers Co-op. I love that the layout is friendly without being too babyish for my older kids and that the exercises come in bite-size chunks, so if we’re short on time, we could make some progress in less than five minutes in the program, or if one of the kids is feeling extra motivated, he or she can go and go.

Find Typing Pal at the Homeschool Buyers Co-op

Math Fact Fluency – ST Math

We’ve been working on select units and the 10 minute fact fluency exercises all summer long while ST Math has been offering their excellent program for FREE to parents working with their children at home during the pandemic. It’s wordless, which confused me at first, but I’m really digging it now. Especially for my dyslexic learners, it just seems to magically make some connections that they hadn’t made before because it’s more aligned with how their brains work.

Art – YouTube videos and practice

The kids like extending their time at the computer by watching YouTube art tutorials. No complaints here! It’s fun to see what they’ve learned popping up in other art they create.

Still need a little more guidance in creating your own routine? Check out my post about How to Create Your Homeschool Routine.

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