Homeschool Life (Grades 5, 8, 10)

Life has been pretty busy since the homeschool conference, but I really wanted to leave a quick update about life in our homeschool. (If you have younger kids, scroll down to the bottom where I’ve linked to some similar posts from when the kids were in PreK, K, Grades 1, 2, 3 etc.!)

History: This year for history, we have been focusing on the twentieth century. We have read a number of literature novels to go along with each of our units. At the beginning of the year, we covered industrialization and read The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair. We studied World War I and read All Quiet on the Western Front. And then we studied the Great Depression and read The Grapes of Wrath. (affiliate links)

As you can tell, we were focusing largely on America and Europe. I wanted to spend some time studying Chinese history again. We read the later chapters of Suzanne Strauss Art’s book, China’s Later Dynasties  (we’ve used a lot of her history textbooks and really like them!) and the kids also read sections from our history textbook. While I was at the homeschool conference, the kids read a couple of fiction books about the Boxer Rebellion. (The kids loved those because they were comic-book style and were quick reads!) For literature, we started Pearl Buck’s The Good Earth. (affiliate link) Just like The Jungle and the Grapes of Wrath, this book focuses on the family life of a poor family… only this family, of course, lives in China. It is set in the early twentieth century.

The author, Pearl Buck, grew up as the daughter of missionaries in China. My kids’ great, great grandma also grew up as the daughter of missionaries (in Brazil). She came back to Virginia for college. She and Pearl Buck were classmates and friends. Pearl Buck gave her this beautiful wall hanging (pictured below)… and it has now passed on to our family and hangs on the wall! We’ve been enjoying The Good Earth and it’s even more meaningful to the kids with this family connection!

Pearl Buck - The Good Earth - Wall Hanging

While we read, my youngest often likes to color or do something else while listening. She’s been working on her latest science booklets.  ED has been doing some environmental studies. She is doing three units (which will be out sometime soon!)

  • Water Cycle – She’s been reviewing things like transpiration, sublimation, infiltration, percolation
  • Trash & Recycling – Since Earth Day is coming up, we’ve been talking a lot about what happens to our waste. This has been a really amazing unit (especially for me as I’ve done the background research/work) because China stopped accepting recycling products from the U.S., Australia and elsewhere.  Our own recycling has been affected (they don’t accept glass and some types of plastic that they accepted just a couple of years ago!) and the kids have been really drawn into the discussions about what is happening to all these waste products.
  • Carbon Cycle – This unit will be on coal, oil & natural gas (and renewable and nonrenewable energy in general). We haven’t covered this material yet, so my older two will be doing this too. 🙂

ED really likes doing the science booklets. This is what she was working on this morning. She has asked me to make a few more.  So, keep your eyes posted for those as I get them done. 🙂 I wanted to take a picture of her working on the Trash and Recycling booklet, but she ran to the other room to get the others too!

Science Booklets - Trash and Recycling Water Cycle

Meanwhile, my older two are working on genetics (remember Mendel’s peas and working on dominant/recessive genes?!) They’ve been using  Thinkwell Biology this year (plus support materials from me).

Geography: We’ve had the deserts of the world activity out on the kitchen table for review. They just take out the pins and place them back… then check their answers.  This an activity that I added to World Facts Packet last year. (That packet helps kids learn basic facts like the largest countries, tallest mountains, longest rivers and things like that!)  ED now knows all of the deserts again, but it’s something we definitely bring back out from time-to-time!

Deserts of the World worksheetdeserts pin map

Music: The kids play in a couple of different music groups. LD plays the saxophone and DD plays the flute (and piccolo). My youngest, ED, plays the trumpet in one group and the French horn in the other (long story!)  She started on a single horn, but is needed to move up to a double French horn.  A friend of ours helped us find a used double horn and she got that last week!  She’s pretty excited and her teacher says it’s a good, solid instrument!

French Horn and TrumpetGerman: All three kids are still learning German.  They can now speak and read at a low intermediate level. This year we have a pretty good routine down. We’re using several books. The kids still work on vocabulary (you can see they did some practice on tools and one on animals recently). And, we’re spending more time on grammar as well (those tricky articles… der die das die, den die das die, dem der dem den, des der des der!! Plus, adjective endings and all that!)

German - What we're using for GermanWe’ve been re-reading the quick stories in German Made Simple and we’ve been going through some of the grammar exercises provided in that book.  We really like this book and the stories are now pretty easy for the kids to understand. They all relate to a business man who is learning German and is using his German to go shopping or to talk about his sick daughter and things like that.  We also found some Quizlet vocabulary practice for each of the chapters so the kids review that on their own.  We have also been going through the exercises in Complete German Grammar. It’s a workbook that the kids can write in.

The kids have also been working through short stories. They’ve read about 20 or 30 short stories from Geschichten Rund Um Die Welt. It includes stories from various parts of the world.

Now that the kids know so much German, they also have weekly 1/2-hour German lessons that we set up online (using Zoom or Skype). In all, we spend about 30-40 minutes on German (most days).

The kids will be attending Waldsee, the German immersion camp in Minnesota (Concordia Language Villages) again this summer. This always improves their German by leaps and bounds! (If you are interested, Concordia offers all kinds of languages from Finnish, Norwegian, Spanish to Chinese, Japanese, Arabic to nearly a dozen other languages!!)

Writing: For the most part, we still use a writing workshop. We’ve been working on essay writing a lot of this year, though the kids sometimes want to work on their own projects.  Most recently, the kids had to write a comparative essay about The Jungle and The Grapes of Wrath.

I wrote a post about our writing workshop not long ago, but now that I think about it, I don’t think I published that! I’ll go back in and get that published!

Spanish: My girls are still learning Spanish with Sra. Morato.  I’ve written about that recently here. Remember, if you are interested in Spanish for your elementary-age kids or in Spanish 1, 2 or 3, Sra. Morato’s classes are open for enrollment for next year!  We highly recommend her!  The girls can already speak quite a bit of Spanish and just love their face-to-face (online) classes each week! See this Spanish page for more details about Sra. Morato’s classes! The kids can tell you all about the animals of the jungle, ocean, tropical rainforest, and desert! The girls love the online videos, flashcards and games.  This a glimpse of the printable worksheets, but I have to admit, my girls really like the online materials where they can hear how the words are pronounced. 🙂

7.3 la selva tropical Spanish Worksheets - tropical rainforest

Computer Science: The kids are doing computer science, but I don’t take care of that either. My husband comes home early from work once a week and works with them. They also have assignments (that he gives them).  He got them a subscription to Codakid that they’ve been using all year.  I asked the kids what they thought of Codakid. DD says, “It’s easy to understand.”  ED says, “It’s fun.”  The kids said it has little video lectures (which can be anywhere from 30 seconds to 25 minutes I was told) so you can build your own games. Those lectures explain how to build certain aspects of your game. But that’s for the Python coding. (This is all in their words because I’m not really a part of this!) They went on to say that there are ones for java (Minecraft activities) and Roadblocks (okay… so THAT got the kids ROLLING)… Roblox (for lua). Thanks DD and ED for your input!! Errors are all mine!  Oh and before I end this section, the kids also have done typing practice and they’ve also been learning HTML this year.

Math: The kids work on math every day, but I don’t write about that much on the blog these days, do I?! That’s just moving along steadily!  🙂  My youngest just recently moved up to Prealgebra.  This post has some of the resources we used (plus links to a couple of free printables I made):  Prealgebra in our Homeschool.

Outside activities… we’re like many of the families we know… often on the go!  My kids are involved in sports and scouts (DD is working on her Silver Award for girl scouts… she and her friend are making 300+ reusable bags for the local food pantry.  Their project has to include at least 50 hours of volunteer time.)

So that’s a snapshot of what we’ve been up to lately!

Here are some similar posts from through the years:

What we've been up to lately - grade 4 7 9




If you are planning out your homeschool year, don’t forget that we have this free Homeschool Planning Guide.

Free Homeschool Planning Guide

If you are studying China, you might like these free resources:

Ancient China Packet (Free Notebook Pages)

Ancient China Worksheets
China Geography and Landmarks Packet

China Geography Packet

This is the World Facts Packet that I mentioned above:
Geographic Features, Landform Words & Topographic Map Activities – World Facts Packet Update!

World Facts Packet - Geographic Features Landform Words Topographic MapsGeographic Features Landform Words Worksheets Activity Pages

See you again soon here or over at our Homeschool Den Facebook Page! Don’t forget to Subscribe to our Homeschool Den Newsletter. You might also want to check out some of our resources pages above (such as our Science, Language Arts, or History Units Resource Pages) which have links to dozens of posts.  You might want to join our free Homeschool Den Chat Facebook group.  Don’t forget to check out Our Store as well. :) Homeschool Den Store

Again, if you are interested in joining our Homeschool Den Newsletter, feel free to subscribe here. It’s a great way to hear about our latest packets and to learn about many of the hundreds of printables & other materials we have tucked away on the blog!


Happy Homeschooling, everyone!!  ~Liesl

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