Charlotte Mason Homeschool: Fifth Grade Plans

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It is much to be wished that thoughtful mothers would more often keep account of the methods they employ with their children, with some definite note of the success of this or that plan.


I say the same thing at the beginning of every year and I’m not planning to break the routine this year… I can’t believe I have a fifth-grader. This will be our sixth year of homeschooling which is also hard to believe. I know it’s not as long as many, but it doesn’t feel like it’s been five years…. it feels like I was just setting up our little school area in the basement for my son’s kindergarten year last summer. Time flies when they’re young and every time I’m reminded of that, I am also thankful that we’re choosing to educate this way so I can spend as much time as possible with them before they fly the coop.

This will be the first year since kindergarten that we’re not in a homeschool co-op which is both sad but also exciting as I will be teaching (and got to choose) all of our subjects this year. Another former co-op member also recommended a very casual local nature group that meets once per week during the school year. We were able to meet up with them this summer and it went really well, so I think that’s going to be a good option for us a few times each term.

As with previous years, we’re turning to AmblesideOnline (AO) for the majority of our curriculum with just a few minor changes here and there which I’m outlining below.

Morning Time

In the Fall of the Year
In the Spring of the Year
The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady

Our Morning Time routine will have a few changes from last year as I decided I needed to make this time a little shorter at least until both kids are reading more on their own. Here’s the schedule I have planned:

  • Prayer
  • Doxology
  • Proverb (based on the day’s date)
  • Music
    • Monday/Wednesday: hymn
    • Tuesday/Thursday: folksong
  • Seasonal Reading/Riches
    • Monday: from that month in The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady (good nature journal inspiration) or from one of the seasonal books listed above (I set the timer for 5 minutes and read as much as I can – no narration)
    • Tuesday: Picture Study (see below for more details)
    • Wednesday: from one of the season books listed above
    • Thursday: Composer Study (see below for more details)
  • Lord’s Prayer
  • Benediction

I’ve also been thinking about adding a daily catechism reading, but I want to see how this routine goes first. I may add that in later in the year.


Bible Book List Here and Here
The Student Bible Atlas

The atlas! I really need to remember to use the atlas this year! I say this every year, but I always forget. Someone, please remind me!

I’ll continue using the J. Paterson-Smyth commentaries, but AO also mentions a commentary by Eugene Stock being used for some of the passages as well. The only thing I was really able to find on him was a post on the AO forums that links to this book, but it’s listed for Year 6. I also looked through most of the readings and they seem to match up with the Paterson-Smyth commentaries, so I’m not sure where Stock comes in. I did post on the AO Forums about this, so hopefully someone can clarify for me!

History & Biography

History Book List Here (we will not be reading The Courage and Character of Theodore Roosevelt)
Biography Book List Here
Peeps at Many Lands: Ancient Greece
Peeps at Many Lands: Ancient Rome

I really enjoyed George Washington’s World last year and there were parts that B liked as well. The only issues that we sometimes ran into, which I’m keeping in mind as we dive into Abraham Lincoln’s World, were fitting all of the assigned reading into one week and B sometimes struggled with following the different storylines.

I am very interested to start the Susan Wise Bauer book in Term 3 as I have heard good things about her books. It will also be one of the most modern history books we’ve read so far.

Changes: A friend recommended adding in an ancient history stream to accompany our Plutarch readings, which we’ll also begin this year. So I’m adding in the two Peeps at… books listed above. We’ll read ancient Greece in the first half of the year and then switch to ancient Rome and she also suggested we add in ancient Egypt for next year. I’m going to be open-minded about this one as I want to make Plutarch a little easier to understand, but I also don’t want to overload him with readings, so, again, we’ll see how it goes.

We will also not be reading the Teddy Roosevelt biography as I will also be adding books to our history/biography selections that cover this time period from the point of view of Native Americans and African Americans. I haven’t finalized my list yet and probably won’t before we begin our school year. I do plan to share what I end up adding in my end-of-year recap post. A few resources I’m using for this are The Parallel Narrative and Stories of Color (Amber at Heritage Mom also offers booklists in this vein, but not for this time period and another AO mom also recently posted on how she has altered Year 5 to add more diversity also.) Here are the ones on my shortlist:

With Books and Bricks: How Booker T. Washington Built a School by Suzanne Slade
Spotted Tail by David Heska Wanbli Weiden
A Boy Named Beckoning: The True Story of Dr. Carlos Montezuma, Native American Hero by Gina Capaldi
Now Let Me Fly: The Story of a Slave Family by Dolores Johnson
Crossing Bok Chitto: A Choctaw Tale of Friendship & Freedom by Tim Tingle
Minty: A Story of Young Harriet Tubman by Alan Schroeder


Literature Book List Here (we’re using the Howard Pyle version of King Arthur and skipping Kim)

Yay King Arthur! And yay Howard Pyle! We really enjoyed Pyle’s Robin Hood in Year 2 (which I get to read with C this coming year!), so I am very excited about this book!

Changes: I decided to skip Kim because of some concerns that were brought up on the AO forums and the fact that I added in more readings above. If I feel like we can add another reading it, I will most likely pick one from the free read suggestions.


Term 1: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (play text only)
Term 2: The Tempest (play text only)
Term 3: The Comedy of Errors (play text with some footnotes)

B did read one “real” Shakespeare play last year with our co-op, but he was still missing a lot of what was happening, so when they decided to do Romeo and Juliet in Terms 2 and 3, I brought him back down to the younger form Shakespeare class. We’re going to go ahead and try “real” Shakespeare again this year, though I know it won’t be nearly as engaging for him as it’ll just be the two of us. I’m hoping to find some friends we can read it with.

Changes: I’m not going to be following the AO rotation as I wasn’t comfortable with him beginning with Julius Caesar. Instead, we’re starting with comedies that he really enjoyed when we read the Lambs’ versions and I hope this is an encouraging introduction to Shakespeare before we get into the heavier plays.

I’ll be using the Folgers versions for myself (because I’m not all that well-versed in Shakespeare either!) and B will have a very basic version with little or no footnotes (usually Wordsworth classics which is what our co-op also used).


Poetry Selections Here

Most of the poets assigned this year I’ve at least heard of, though I’m not particularly familiar with their poetry. I might be crazy and shake things up a little by having B read some of the poems aloud instead of me. We’ll experiment.

Language Arts


AO Copywork Files

Copywork will stay the same at one side of one sheet per day. I do like Lynn Bruce’s recommendations here (about halfway down the page) of doing different subjects each day for copywork, so we may try that. A friend also said that she has her kids pick their own copywork selections, which I also like, but B has never been interested in picking his own things so I don’t know how successful this would be for us.


Spelling Wisdom
Post-it Page Markers

We’ll continue as we did last year with two spelling/dictation sessions per week as this system worked extremely well for us last year.


Junior Analytical Grammar (JAG)

We’ll also do two grammar sessions per week. Usually, we start each section of the book by reading the introduction to whatever form of speech we’ll be learning. He can usually finish an exercise within the 25 minutes we use for grammar, but if he doesn’t we just continue it during the next session, and then I correct it the session after that. It’s a little drawn out, but this is actually the method suggested in the book and feels like a good pace, so I’m going with that.


Ruminating on Recitation Article (read this first!)
Recitation Guidelines and Student Log (updated in 2021)

Despite the good changes we made last year in Recitation, I am finding that I still didn’t fully understand how to do it. I chatted with Maria (the author of the articles linked above and my go-to resource for all things Recitation) at the end of Term 1 to tell her how I was doing it and she patiently corrected me. This year during his recitation time, I’m planning on having him read the pieces aloud to himself rather than in his head. I know the main purpose of Recitation is not necessarily memorization, but instead to know the passage/verses/poem/etc. However, there is also effortless memorization when something is read often and this was definitely true when we were reading our monthly poems aloud (back when I was doing Recitation incorrectly the first time :))

I will share what we learn for recitation in my end-of-year recap post as I am still hoping B decides to pick some of his pieces!

Foreign Language

Speaking Spanish with Miss. Mason and François, Volume I
De Colores

I will keep doing the Salsa videos with my daughter who is in Year 2 and I’m sure B will also watch those, but I think with him I’m going to try the Speaking Spanish… book again. We haven’t used it in close to two years and I’m hoping that the background he now has from the Salsa videos as well as being slightly older will help make this book more successful for us.

I did decide to drop Latin, though it was a hard decision to make. When I sat down to do our schedule, there was really no spot in our rotation that it fit well and B hated doing it anyway so I didn’t feel it was a battle we needed to have. I’m keeping it on the back burner, though, and might bring it back later on.


Geography Book List Here and Here

I am very excited about the Halliburton book, which we’ll begin this year! Way back in 2017 when I went to my first Charlotte Mason educational retreat, my friend Jennifer (who I only knew through a local book group at that time and would later know much better through our homeschool co-op) offered a geography immersion. She used Halliburton’s book (specifically the description of the Panama Canal) and I absolutely loved it. I was disappointed to discover we wouldn’t use that book until what felt like an eternity into the future: Year 5. And here we are!

We’ll also continue with map drills  (you can read about those under geography in this post) which we started last year.

And of course, we’ll continue with the Long’s Home Geography readings on general geography terms as well.

Admittedly, I’m a little sad that this will be our first year without a Holling book.

Citizenship (Plutarch)

Term 1: Aristides
Term 2: Demosthenes
Term 3: Timoleon

Changes: I strayed from the AO suggestion to begin Plutarch in Year 4 last year and chose to read Stories from the History of Rome instead (which is also what was scheduled in the PNEU Programmes). We will be diving in this year, but I won’t be using the AO schedule. I consulted with a friend who is well-versed in Plutarch and she made a few suggestions as to which lives would be best to start with, so for this year we’ll be doing the three listed above.

Nature Study & Science

Nature Study & Science Book List Here (we are skipping Madam How and Lady Why)
The Story Book of Science
Term 1: Sabbath Mood Homeschool Science Guide – Technology and Engineering (Machines)
Term 2: Sabbath Mood Homeschool Science Guide – Astronomy
Term 3: Sabbath Mood Homeschool Science Guide – Botany
Term 1: The Moon of the Mountain Lions
Term 2: The Moon of the Gray Wolves
Term 3: The Moon of the Salamanders
Various books from the Sabbath Mood Homeschool living science books lists

Changes: For science, we’ll continue with the path we began last year and forego Madam How and Lady Why in favor of the Sabbath Mood Homeschool Living Science Guides. These worked so, so well for us last year and I appreciate not only the reading schedule they offer and the experiments they include but also the guidance for the teacher they have as well. I learned so much about how better to do nature study last year because of these guides and I feel much more confident implementing it going forward.

We’ll be continuing with an alternative schedule for Storybook of Science (reading it slowly over three years as recommended in the Sabbath Mood Homeschool guides) as well. For special studies topics, B will also be reading (and narrating) more of the Thirteen Moons series. Generally, the student is supposed to pick their own special studies topic(s), and I do give him that opportunity, but he never wants to so I usually end up picking for him. I have found these books to be very engaging, well-illustrated, and a wonderful way to learn more about specific animals.


RighStart Level F

We did not finish RightStart Level E over the summer, so we’ll continue with that and then begin Level F when we finish. Since we won’t have our homeschool co-op (almost) every other week this year, I am interested to see if we get more math done as we didn’t do math lessons on the Fridays we met for co-op. I’m hoping we can finish both levels by the end of the year, but I’m also okay if we don’t as long as he is making progress. He also understands the concepts well, but the lessons just usually take more time than we allot for math each day.

I will also continue with a few things I started for us later last year. On days that we finished one lesson and moved on to another in the middle of his 30-minute math lesson, I skipped the practice problems because they by themselves were taking a half hour. I also started doing his sister’s math first and during that time, had him finish whatever worksheet he was working on or do the practice problems in advance. I debated this as I really did want to keep him to that 30 minutes per day of math, but on the flip side, part of the reason he didn’t finish it sooner is that he dawdles. I really want to get him out of this habit so I’m hoping this helps.


Picture Study

Term 1: Katsushika Hokusai
Term 2: Winslow Homer
Term 3: Mary Cassatt

Changes: Obviously we’re not following the AO Artist Study rotation here at all. We studied van Eyck last year and I didn’t want to cover Botticelli just yet. I was torn on Friedrich as he’s my favorite of the Romantic painters, but Hokusai (who was technically a contemporary of Friedrich) won out as he’s another favorite of mine and I wanted to include a non-western artist this year. Homer will go well with B’s study of the Civil War. And we actually did study Cassatt when B was in kindergarten in 2016, but I was brand new to homeschooling, he was very young, and C didn’t participate (she was 2 ❤️) so I’d like to study her again.

This also means that Picture Study Aids for these artists will be coming. 🙂


What to Draw and How to Draw It

What to Draw and How to Draw It has worked extremely well for us the last few years with B doing one drawing exercise from it per week. I think we will actually finish it before the end of the school year, so we’ll start doing brushdrawing again at that point.


Composer Study

Term 1: Camille Saint-Saëns
Term 2: Johann Sebastian Bach
Term 3: Franz Liszt

I’m excited to be teaching composer study as this was a subject always covered in our homeschool co-op in the past and, at times, taught at the same time that I was teaching picture study (when we still divided our co-op by form), so I missed out on it. I’m glad we are going to be able to learn together and that I can teach it in a way I think will be more compatible with my kids.

Changes: I’m mostly following the AO composer study rotation (though we won’t be covering Berlioz in Term 1), however, we will be doing the selections from the Tillberry Table composer study guides instead of the AO pieces.


Term 1: Ye Holy Angels Bright (Michaelmas – 29 September) & Hark the Sound of Holy Voices (All Saints Day – 1 November)
Term 2: Lo! He Comes with Clouds Descending (Advent) & As with Gladness Men of Old (Epiphany)
Term 3: The Glory of These Forty Days (Lent) & Jesus Shall Reign Where’er the Sun (St. Mark – 25 April)

Changes: I’ve decided, for this year at least, to not use the AO hymn schedule and continue a few of our homeschool co-op practices instead. We only did two hymns per term (we switch at the six-week mark) and the mom who picked our hymns for the last two years chose them based on the liturgical year, which was a practice I loved so we’ll be doing that as well. If these change later in the year, I’ll post the updated list in my recap post.


Term 1: The Song of Roland (an 11th-century battle ballad) & Arkansas Traveler
Term 2: King John and the Abbot (C will be reading about John in Term 2) & Follow the Drinking Gourd (B will be reading about the Underground Railroad in Term 2 and we’ll be studying Astronomy)
Term 3: Can She Excuse My Wrongs? (we sang John Dowland last year and enjoyed his music) & Galway Bay (I wanted to at least mention the 19th-century Irish diaspora this year as well)

Changes: We’re also not following the AO schedule for our folksongs either but, again, only doing two per term and I’m attempting to match them to the timeframes we’ll be studying. C will be from 1000 to around 1500 AD, but finding folksongs that are confirmed from that era, instead of just maybe sung for many years before they were actually published in a broadside, is problematic, so I’m giving myself grace here and just doing my best. B will be from 1800 to 1914, so the second folksong in each term will match that era. Again, this list may change before the end of the year, and I’ll share any changes in my recap post.


Hoffman Academy (use code LEARN to get 10% off new memberships!)

We’ll be continuing with our piano lessons at home at least for Term 1. B has expressed the desire to stop piano, but I’d like him to have at least two years total, which will come about in January. We’ll see how everyone feels about him continuing at that point.

Physical Education

Swedish Drill Revisited II
Swedish Drill Revisited III

We’ll also continue with our Swedish Drill exercises two times per week during our lesson time. We’re still working through the first routine in this book, but I do hope to finish the book this year and move on to the next one.

He will also be trying archery this year! I found an archery school fairly close to our house that has a homeschool class as well as equipment to rent, so we’ll be seeing how that goes in Term 1.


Term 1: Beeswax Alchemy
Term 2: Sewing School/Sewing School 2
Term 3: My First Book of Knots

Aside from Term 1 last year in which we did cooking, B’s handicrafts were challenging. Woodcarving turned out to be a lot more difficult than either of us expected, so we switched to soap carving but struggled to get it done. The list above is pretty tentative, but he’ll be doing the beeswax activities with C, so I’m hoping that makes them more likely to happen. I’m hoping to get at least a few of the projects made from that book so we can craft some potential Christmas gifts.

He also did several of the projects from Sewing School a few years ago and he really enjoys sewing so I think it would be a good idea to finish that. If we have time, we’ll move on to the next book which covers machine sewing!

And he received the knots book for Christmas along with rope, so I think that’ll be a good activity for Term 3 when it feels like it’s more challenging to get things done that require a lot of setup.

So there are our plans for Year 5! I won’t be doing recap/planning posts at the end of each term this year as I have in years past, but I will be doing an end-of-year recap post with any changes I made along the way (which I’m sure will happen) as well as how things went. I hope everyone has a wonderful school year!

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  1. Love it! We just started Moon of the Mountain Lions and last year, the salamander’s one was a favorite. I really like that series. I’m intrigued by the Beeswax Alchemy book. Where do you get your beeswax?

    1. I’m getting the beeswax from Azure Standard as I tried to calculate how much we’ll need based on the projects we want to do and this amount seems about right. 🙂

  2. Caroline B. says:

    Thank you for this post, I love to see what others are doing. This is very trivial, but where did you get the pretty folders that contain the dividers….it looks like one has a bird/flowers and the other is outer space maybe??! Thanks!

  3. Catherine Knight says:

    Can you share a resource for the salsa video?

  4. So funny… I have a Y5 and a Y2 this year as well. We are doing the Sharp books as a family and there are a few others I am doing with my Y5 making the same choices in most of the subjects for similar reasons. It confirms in this mama’s heart I am on the right track, lol… thank you for sharing your experiences. 🙂 You’ve been most helpful!

    1. Most of the changes I make are inspired by the suggestions of others, so I’m always thankful when I can take a look at how other people are doing their homeschool as well. 🙂

  5. Elyzaveta Bateham says:

    A timetable would be helpful to see on how it all fits together.

    1. I actually have a post with a video detailing how I lay out our weeks. It has changed a little this year, but you can get a general idea. If you do a search for “How I Plan My School Weeks” it should be the first result. 🙂

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