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History & Science without Curriculum


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Basically I can't find engaging, challenging secular curriculum for either of these. I don't want a ton of worksheets and I want them to be excited to learn (Tall ask but I felt that way in the younger years with other curricula and I think it can happen!)

 

They are 5th graders and have already done a lot of US history so we want to study something else. They have expressed interest in the Middle Ages. (We did do an Ancients unit at some point that they remember and have emotionally deemed done and moved on from. 🤣)

Edited by Runningmom80
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I never use a history curriculum all the way through graduation.  Science, only for core physics, chemistry, bio high school courses.  It really isn't hard at all.

I have already started school for the yr with my 5th grader.  We are doing American history this yr (she has never studied American history before unless Liberty Kids counts.  😉 )  When I was creating the course, I made a list of topics that I wanted to highlight.  We tend to read biographies or nonfiction books focused on specific topics bc by doing that their reading encompasses much broader topics bc as whole books do, they cover more than a textbook synopsis.  The order of her reading themes for the first five weeks of history reading goes as follows: Eric and Leif Erikson, Columbus, Cartier, pilgrims, Squanto, native North Americans, and Rogers Rangers and the French Indian War.  When we start back after our week off, we will start with the Revolution.  I have a general framework of the yr laid out with more books listed for time periods than we can realistically read.  I will simply make selections based on our pace.  You can do something similar for any time period/culture/geography you want.

For science, if your ds is going to study ecology, why not take a similar approach with the 5th graders.  Choose an ecosystem and study it.  You can study the wild life, botany, impact on other ecosystmes, threats, etc.  Make a list of the systems you want to study: forests, mountains, caves, ocean, ponds, deserts, streams/rivers, jungles, African plains, sea shore, islands, etc.   There are all kinds of books and documentaries that are easily accessible to 5th graders.  You could even incorporate biographies like Scientists in the Field, etc. 

ETA: I was typing when you deleted your OP.  Not sure why you did?  I'm leaving my response bc the questions were good ones and I spent my time responding.

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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I deleted because I realized that I just asked about science & history in another thread two days ago that I completely forgot about! 

I appreciate this very thoughtful response, I'll re type my initial question! 

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1 hour ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

I never use a history curriculum all the way through graduation.  Science, only for core physics, chemistry, bio high school courses.  It really isn't hard at all.

I have already started school for the yr with my 5th grader.  We are doing American history this yr (she has never studied American history before unless Liberty Kids counts.  😉 )  When I was creating the course, I made a list of topics that I wanted to highlight.  We tend to read biographies or nonfiction books focused on specific topics bc by doing that their reading encompasses much broader topics bc as whole books do, they cover more than a textbook synopsis.  The order of her reading themes for the first five weeks of history reading goes as follows: Eric and Leif Erikson, Columbus, Cartier, pilgrims, Squanto, native North Americans, and Rogers Rangers and the French Indian War.  When we start back after our week off, we will start with the Revolution.  I have a general framework of the yr laid out with more books listed for time periods than we can realistically read.  I will simply make selections based on our pace.  You can do something similar for any time period/culture/geography you want.

For science, if your ds is going to study ecology, why not take a similar approach with the 5th graders.  Choose an ecosystem and study it.  You can study the wild life, botany, impact on other ecosystmes, threats, etc.  Make a list of the systems you want to study: forests, mountains, caves, ocean, ponds, deserts, streams/rivers, jungles, African plains, sea shore, islands, etc.   There are all kinds of books and documentaries that are easily accessible to 5th graders.  You could even incorporate biographies like Scientists in the Field, etc. 

ETA: I was typing when you deleted your OP.  Not sure why you did?  I'm leaving my response bc the questions were good ones and I spent my time responding.

 

This is all very helpful! I think I will use our Kingfisher Science and Big History books as a jumping off point. I guess I'm a little worried about finding supplements. I like the idea of doing ecology, and we can definitely make use of our microscope. 

 

Thanks again!

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
2 hours ago, Sarah0000 said:

I wonder if you would like Beautiful Feet's History of Science for something a little different for both subjects. We're loving it over here.

 

We are secular homeschoolers. It does look lovely! 

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I design our history units. We spent a whole semester on Native Americans. We did use some Usborne books, and some other books (they were each based around a tribe). We wove baskets and did some other traditional crafts. Then we drove to Oklahoma and visited the Museum of the Great Plains and the Choctaw nation and their museums. We had done some frontier stuff before the NA stuff, we had read the little house books, and we listened to all the Kaya (American Girl) books on the way up. It was a fantastic unit.

Last year I designed a world religions unit. I used Usborne world religions, as well as a whole series of books I collected secondhand, "Christian Stories", "Hindu Stories" etc, as well as "Out of the Ark", which tells major stories from the world religions. So all the creation stories, flood stories, etc. Easy to spot the similarities among religions. We also used the "Story of God" documentary series with Morgan Freeman which is a phenomenal and interesting resource, and Brainpop. So we started with Hinduism, and she would read the section on creation in the Usborne book, read the creation story in one of the other books, watch the section on Hindu creation in Story of God. I had it all in a syllabus with hyperlinks and everything. Then after we'd gotten through say, Hinduism and Buddhism, there was some compare contrast...Brainpop actually has a lot of printable add-on assignments in their "extras" section. And so on. During the section on Judaism, we also tied in "All of a kind family" as our read aloud and we hit a local production of Fiddler on the Roof just for fun. Towards the end we did things like "Pick an aspect of life creation/love/death, etc and two religions and compare their views or stories...we tried many of the foods we read about in these traditions.

But yeah, I start with a spine. Usborne is usually good for this. Religions was the first time I use the "internet-linked" aspect of Usborne and it is really worthwhile if you have the time to wade through all the links. I almost always tie in Brainpop, and look at their extras for the videos in that section. There will be primary sources, blank venn diagrams, writing prompts, etc. I will then do google searches for "good books on world religions for children" and wade through the lists. For the native american section it was important to me to have native-approved sources. Then I buy them used because the library and I are not friends. I will spend some time on Youtube looking for age-appropriate and interesting videos to fill in any gaps I have. It does take a couple solid days of using my spare time to plan, but history is the only subject I design myself and we are a history-loving family so it's worth it to me!! Always look at your local resources. When we did ancient mesoamerica, there is a large exhibit at our musem, and we just happened to be going on a cruise, so we got to see and climb temples at Lamanai. When we studied China, we hit a major festival at our local Asian cultural center. We did a pretty large unit on Day of the Dead and went to local celebrations put on by the Hispanic cultural center that were open to all. We always tie in foods and try to cook something traditional. After cooking and tasting it, we realized that one of the ancient Mayan recipes was remarkably similar to a Mexican recipe we frequently make!

Just have fun! Tie in as much real world stuff as you can. My kid got to participate in a Chinese fan dance, walk through a Chickasaw spirit forest, make an Ofrenda, have pieces of ancient Mayan pottery pulled out of the gravel and handed to her by a guide. Heck, we can't exactly travel to Egypt, so not only did we hit the museum multiple times in our unit, but she also dressed up like a priestess and as-accurately-as-possible mummified a Goodwill baby doll, complete with charms/amulets, canopic jars made from spice bottles and pulling yarn brains out its nose with a crochet hook. She was 6 when we did that one, but I'm pretty sure she'd eat it up just as much today. 

I do plan the real-world stuff for the last part of the unit - they get way more out of it and are able to pick out all kind of things they learned about when they see them.
 

Edited by Sk8ermaiden
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We use SOTW for the first history pass, but for the second I'm doing our own thing for the second.  I use a huge Smithsonian coffee table book as the spine, and then heavily enhance it with the library books and documentaries.

We're loving it, though I struggle to assign the right amount per week. It's hard to know how long a resource will take.

We like to watch the documentaries as a family; DH is really into the history channel stuff. At the moment, we're all reading Stamped (the YA adaptation of Stamped from the Beginning.  I love that DH is getting involved and interested, and I don't think that would necessarily happen without the homemade approach. 

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9 hours ago, Sk8ermaiden said:

I design our history units. We spent a whole semester on Native Americans. We did use some Usborne books, and some other books (they were each based around a tribe). We wove baskets and did some other traditional crafts. Then we drove to Oklahoma and visited the Museum of the Great Plains and the Choctaw nation and their museums. We had done some frontier stuff before the NA stuff, we had read the little house books, and we listened to all the Kaya (American Girl) books on the way up. It was a fantastic unit.

Last year I designed a world religions unit. I used Usborne world religions, as well as a whole series of books I collected secondhand, "Christian Stories", "Hindu Stories" etc, as well as "Out of the Ark", which tells major stories from the world religions. So all the creation stories, flood stories, etc. Easy to spot the similarities among religions. We also used the "Story of God" documentary series with Morgan Freeman which is a phenomenal and interesting resource, and Brainpop. So we started with Hinduism, and she would read the section on creation in the Usborne book, read the creation story in one of the other books, watch the section on Hindu creation in Story of God. I had it all in a syllabus with hyperlinks and everything. Then after we'd gotten through say, Hinduism and Buddhism, there was some compare contrast...Brainpop actually has a lot of printable add-on assignments in their "extras" section. And so on. During the section on Judaism, we also tied in "All of a kind family" as our read aloud and we hit a local production of Fiddler on the Roof just for fun. Towards the end we did things like "Pick an aspect of life creation/love/death, etc and two religions and compare their views or stories...we tried many of the foods we read about in these traditions.

But yeah, I start with a spine. Usborne is usually good for this. Religions was the first time I use the "internet-linked" aspect of Usborne and it is really worthwhile if you have the time to wade through all the links. I almost always tie in Brainpop, and look at their extras for the videos in that section. There will be primary sources, blank venn diagrams, writing prompts, etc. I will then do google searches for "good books on world religions for children" and wade through the lists. For the native american section it was important to me to have native-approved sources. Then I buy them used because the library and I are not friends. I will spend some time on Youtube looking for age-appropriate and interesting videos to fill in any gaps I have. It does take a couple solid days of using my spare time to plan, but history is the only subject I design myself and we are a history-loving family so it's worth it to me!! Always look at your local resources. When we did ancient mesoamerica, there is a large exhibit at our musem, and we just happened to be going on a cruise, so we got to see and climb temples at Lamanai. When we studied China, we hit a major festival at our local Asian cultural center. We did a pretty large unit on Day of the Dead and went to local celebrations put on by the Hispanic cultural center that were open to all. We always tie in foods and try to cook something traditional. After cooking and tasting it, we realized that one of the ancient Mayan recipes was remarkably similar to a Mexican recipe we frequently make!

Just have fun! Tie in as much real world stuff as you can. My kid got to participate in a Chinese fan dance, walk through a Chickasaw spirit forest, make an Ofrenda, have pieces of ancient Mayan pottery pulled out of the gravel and handed to her by a guide. Heck, we can't exactly travel to Egypt, so not only did we hit the museum multiple times in our unit, but she also dressed up like a priestess and as-accurately-as-possible mummified a Goodwill baby doll, complete with charms/amulets, canopic jars made from spice bottles and pulling yarn brains out its nose with a crochet hook. She was 6 when we did that one, but I'm pretty sure she'd eat it up just as much today. 

I do plan the real-world stuff for the last part of the unit - they get way more out of it and are able to pick out all kind of things they learned about when they see them.
 

 

These studies all sound amazing! 

We have lots of "spine" books, so this will work really well for us. I think that will help me stay focused. When I've tried to put together units in the past I've gotten overwhelmed with the amount of books I wanted to use. 

Unfortunately real world stuff may be difficult this year, but in general that is how I love to homeschool. Thank you for the inspiration!

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8 hours ago, elroisees said:

We use SOTW for the first history pass, but for the second I'm doing our own thing for the second.  I use a huge Smithsonian coffee table book as the spine, and then heavily enhance it with the library books and documentaries.

We're loving it, though I struggle to assign the right amount per week. It's hard to know how long a resource will take.

We like to watch the documentaries as a family; DH is really into the history channel stuff. At the moment, we're all reading Stamped (the YA adaptation of Stamped from the Beginning.  I love that DH is getting involved and interested, and I don't think that would necessarily happen without the homemade approach. 

 

I have Stamped! We are going to start the year with that. The author Jason Reynolds was recently on the podcast On Being, I highly recommend it!

Love the Smithsonian books and I have some Kingfisher too. I have so many books I could use as spines, I think I just got confused as to where to go from there. I need to get to planning on my Trello boards and just start collecting resources. 

We dabbled in SOTW. I went through them with my oldest and didn't really want to read them again. My twins didn't love the audio so then I dropped it and they went to school.

Thanks for the help and motivation!

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I am trying to design my own 5th grade Ancient History this year, and while I know it's doable, it is also a struggle. For me the hardest part is balancing the amount of reading, as I have a very fast and eager reader, but I'd hate to assign a lot of reading that he ends up hating. We are using spines like the Kingfisher Encyclopedia and the Oxford University Press Ancient History series, and I'm lining it up with SOTW as I am also using that with my first grader. I find it easiest to tie everything together in a spreadsheet, week by week, and work from there. Here is mine so far if it helps: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/152fsn8ma3n6Sto-ngkY6rAQq7d5JyM1pX_52rkzR9Bw/edit?usp=sharing

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For my 6th grader, I have opted for Choose Your Own Adventure history.

Each week he starts by reading a page or two of Kingfisher as the spine (I just decided how much I want to cover this year and divided it by the number of weeks).  He also completes a MapTrek map if there is an applicable one.

Then, he is expected to spend an hour, split up however he wants, reading/watching associated supplementary materials.  I have pulled together a wide variety of choices: SOTW, A History of the World in 100 Objects, TedEd videos, Letters of Note, Mapping World History, Timeline of Everything, Great Courses lectures, Mammoth book of How it Happened, Visual History of the World, and Human Odyssey.

This is putting the onus of finding related materials on him; he has to figure out how the books are organized, use the index, think about what terms to search for, etc.  It also gives him a lot of freedom to learn more about his particular areas of interest...be it warfare, art, technology, etc.

At the end of the week, he adds events and people he read about to his timeline, and makes Anki flashcards of all the main ideas he learned (this growing deck of cards gets continually reviews along with all his other Anki cards on a daily basis).

Every few weeks we pause and he completes a Reading Like a Historian Lesson.

Hopefully, this system will work well for our second cycle through history.  (We used SOTW for our first.)  

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14 hours ago, Btervet said:

I am trying to design my own 5th grade Ancient History this year, and while I know it's doable, it is also a struggle. For me the hardest part is balancing the amount of reading, as I have a very fast and eager reader, but I'd hate to assign a lot of reading that he ends up hating. We are using spines like the Kingfisher Encyclopedia and the Oxford University Press Ancient History series, and I'm lining it up with SOTW as I am also using that with my first grader. I find it easiest to tie everything together in a spreadsheet, week by week, and work from there. Here is mine so far if it helps: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/152fsn8ma3n6Sto-ngkY6rAQq7d5JyM1pX_52rkzR9Bw/edit?usp=sharing

 

this is awesome! thanks for sharing!!

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13 hours ago, wendyroo said:

For my 6th grader, I have opted for Choose Your Own Adventure history.

Each week he starts by reading a page or two of Kingfisher as the spine (I just decided how much I want to cover this year and divided it by the number of weeks).  He also completes a MapTrek map if there is an applicable one.

Then, he is expected to spend an hour, split up however he wants, reading/watching associated supplementary materials.  I have pulled together a wide variety of choices: SOTW, A History of the World in 100 Objects, TedEd videos, Letters of Note, Mapping World History, Timeline of Everything, Great Courses lectures, Mammoth book of How it Happened, Visual History of the World, and Human Odyssey.

This is putting the onus of finding related materials on him; he has to figure out how the books are organized, use the index, think about what terms to search for, etc.  It also gives him a lot of freedom to learn more about his particular areas of interest...be it warfare, art, technology, etc.

At the end of the week, he adds events and people he read about to his timeline, and makes Anki flashcards of all the main ideas he learned (this growing deck of cards gets continually reviews along with all his other Anki cards on a daily basis).

Every few weeks we pause and he completes a Reading Like a Historian Lesson.

Hopefully, this system will work well for our second cycle through history.  (We used SOTW for our first.)  

 

great list of resources, thank you!

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History has always been audiobooks for us. We did SOTW, which a lot of other people recommended, and now we're doing The History of US. They love it because they get to quietly play with Legos while they listen to the audiobooks or paint. Sometimes I suggest for them to build something with the legos related to the history, like the Mayflower ship or the different types of Native American's homes and they really enjoy the challenge. They seem to be retaining the information and look forward to it. And I love that I get some free time while they listen... Is that ok to say??

For science I like Nancy Larson from 1-5th grade with a LOT of science experiments then I think I'll be going with some sort of online science class because my kids absolutely love science and I don't know what to do 🙃

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We are just reading aloud SOTW and historical fiction for the rest of 2020(5th) and 2021 (6th).  He is getting more confident at writing now so we may do scrapbook style pages next year as output.

 

I have been avoiding turning everything into a writing lesson as it causes too much stress.

Edited by kiwik
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  • 2 weeks later...

I don't know what you mean by "engaging," per se, since that seems super dependent on personality, but my 5th grader is LOVING the Great Courses audio lectures. He sits and draws while listening or plays legos. He got started on Hoopla, but hoopla ones don't come with the supplemental PDFs that the audible ones come with, and those are helpful for me and him to be able to talk about what he's learning. I don't require a ton of output - just some basic conversation - but I feel like you could require as much output/rigor as you wanted, if you had the Lecture note PDFs to base assignments on. He got started with the Greek and Persion Wars, then moved on to War and World History, and was hooked after that. I don't even know which ones he's listening to now, but he loves them. 🙂

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