A Minimalist’s Curriculum Picks for 5th Grade (2021-2022)

Instead of listing out all of the homeschool picks for all four of my kiddos, I thought it might be a tad easier to post individually.

If you are not familiar with my homeschool style, I like to keep things rather simple on myself and focus on the 3R’s (reading, writing, arithmetic). All other subjects fall into these three.

As a pursuit to not acquire homeschool burnout, I teach my children as quickly as possible to learn independently. This I have learned to be quite necessary as I have gained more school aged children.

For my 5th grader, we are continuing our journey using the Robinson Curriculum or what I like to call- the Robinson Method; as I am not a RC purist.

If you are not familiar with RC, refer to my other posts here and here.

My daughter is now a independent student. Hallelujah! She no longer needs me to teach her but I will assist in small things like read dictation sentences or help her pronounce new words. All of these take only minutes to accomplish.

In general, the RC formula is 20 minutes of math, 10 minutes of writing, and 20 minutes of reading per grade level starting in first grade.

Math: I have chosen Teaching Textbooks 6th grade and math fact flash cards. We tried Saxon, we really tried. But, it is just not for us and that is okay. Teaching Textbooks is still independent…check! I had some concern about TT being too easy and honestly grade for grade it is.

I did some research, read over the syllabus, and had my daughter go through the first 15 lessons for grades 4-6 (which are free by the way), and printed off the placement tests. After finally deciding that the 6th grade level is where she is, I bought the CD-ROMS for $40 on Ebay.

She is already halfway through it since we had to switch midyear; I really hate to do that! But it is going very well. The 6th grade level is still just challenging enough that she occasionally has to revisit the lecture… which I find to be a good thing. Most likely she will be done before the school year ends so most likely I will just start her on grade 7 and go from there, unless I feel it necessary to reassess.

The aim for math in 5th grade is 1 hour and 40 minutes. However, each day is different and I am flexible. If it was a pretty hard lesson, I allow her to stop math there. If the lesson was a review or quiz, she does math facts for 30 minutes.

Writing: This year my main focus is composition. Up until this point, we have been doing copywork and some letter writing to family. I have also cut out pictures from magazines, glued them in a composition notebook, and had my daughter just write about the picture. If she struggled, I would ask questions like, “What do you think the people are feeling? Where are they? What are their names?” etc.

For her 5th grade year however, I feel like she needs a little more direction in writing, so I purchased Dr. Lybrand’s Writing Course. We are about 8 lessons in and there already have been so many light bulb moments, it’s amazing! I have learned so much as well. Where was this course when I was in school?!

I have to be really honest, I struggled with purchasing this at first. It’s $97! Which, if any of you have been reading this blog might have picked up on, I am super frugal. Shocker I know.

So here was my thought process, weighing the worth of this pretty hefty purchase: If my daughter goes through the course and doesn’t learn anything, there is a 100% money back guarantee; it is independent and aligns very well within RC; it combines subjects (writing and grammar); it’s non-consumable; and it covers multiple age groups.

So there we go. Once we finish it, I will make sure to give you all a full review.

On top of the writing course, since it is only about 20 lessons long and about 10 minutes of time, I plan on using Intermediate Language Lessons by Emma Serl. This book is full of great writing prompts and I think it is the perfect transition from copywork to composition. I have went through and highlighted the lessons that I want my daughter to complete. The idea is to get her to write whatever she wants but she does prefer a writing prompt so I think this will be a great tool.

Spelling: My daughter LOVES spelling. I prefer to just have her write out words she missed from her daily writing, which I find to be the most effective, but she wants to do spelling. So The Modern Speller Book 2 she will do. This free public domain resource is probably my favorite spelling curriculum. It gives my homeschool a little Charlotte Mason flare. There is a short passage for copywork everyday that she will copy a couple times, study the punctuation, and define any unknown words. I will then dictate the passage to her as well as a few of the review words. At the end of the week, she is to know all the review words and can write any of the passages by dictation.

Between the writing and spelling, all this should take no more than an hour.

Reading: RC is mostly a reading list however, I pick and choose. There are so many books that I want her to read that are not on the list, so I don’t feel a slave to it. As long as it is great literature, I’m a happy mama.

My daughter will read for 1 hour and 40 minutes a day. This is broken up into 2 times- 60 minutes during the school hours and 40 minutes before bed.

As for the books go, I will use some from the RC book list and the rest from my home library as well as our local library. I prefer to borrow opposed to binding or buying for the cost aspect and for the sake of space.

To add a fun flare, I have chosen some books that have movies like Indian in the Cupboard, My Side of the Mountain and Around the World in 80 Days. We like to talk about and compare the book to the movie. This also gives me a sneaky way of testing reading comprehension. We make a family movie night out of it; I find this to be a great incentive.

History: Aside from books during reading time, I have purchased Mystery of History audio-books…$30 on Ebay! I don’t find it necessary to have a separate history curriculum but I really enjoy learning it. We listen to these CDs when we run errands. So easy!

My kids will also learn world geography this year at our homeschool co-op.

Science: Again, science is through reading. Herbology class at co-op.

Total Schedule: We have 4 regular days of homeschool, one day at co-op plus a math lesson, and Saturdays we do math and free reading (daughter gets to read whatever she wants for 1 hour). We homeschool year round with no more than 2 weeks break at a time.

Extracurricular: We have play dates at least once a week after school is done and enjoy going to the park or on hikes often. All four of my kids also have homeschool co-op on Tuesdays, Taekwondo 4 days a week and Awana on Wednesdays.

Cost breakdown:

Teaching Textbooks: $40

Mystery of History: $30 (really this was a purchase for me! haha)

Dr. Lybrand’s Writing Course: $97

The Modern Speller: Free (about $1 worth of paper and ink)

Intermediate Language Lessons: Free (about $2 worth of paper and ink)

RC books: $15 worth of paper, ink, duct tape, and staples


Not the most frugal school year but not bad for all non-consumables that I can use for all my kiddos.


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