I know I say this every year, but Oak Meadow Fifth Grade is now my new favorite level of the curriculum. I wish I could have sat down with all the levels years ago when I first started using the program, because there is something magical about the progression of skills. The curriculum changes ever so slightly each year, growing with the child and adapting to their needs at each stage. The core of the program is still the same. It’s still flexible, creative, and fun. The bones are always the same. But the meat . . . the meat is awesome in Grade 5.
If you are new to Oak Meadow, I really hope you take a moment to look at our thoughts on grades one, three and four, because it really will help you see the progression of the program and make more sense of how it works. With a review like this, it’s hard to fit in all the nuances, and the longer I use it, the harder it is for me to know what little things I should point out, without comparing it to earlier years.
You can jump in at any point in the curriculum (in my opinion). I’d say the deciding factor should be based more in ability and maturity than the number on the front of the book. Also, because I know I made this mistake myself, don’t jump your child ahead in the curriculum in the early years. Waldorf based programs gear up slowly- many say they are “light” but light is not the correct word. They are deliberate. They are gentle and they are child-focused. You have to see past the noise of the world, and all the people telling you to push your child harder, faster and sooner, and see your child for who they are. Kindergarteners need room for play and for magic and for nature, and there is no reason that you can’t teach all they need to know while outside digging in the dirt and telling playful stories.
The problem with jumping ahead really comes down to the fact that as your child grows, the curriculum grows. By the time you get to the fourth-grade book, the program is really revving its engines. Your child is ready, and the program is going to push them to write more and evaluate more and take on more responsibility. By the time fifth grade hits, the program is full speed ahead, and your child really needs to be ready to work independently, to read actively, to take notes, and to express themselves clearly in their writing.
If you skip ahead too much, too early, then your child is going to not be developmentally ready for the increased independence and expectations that come with the more advanced books. I know from my own (stubborn) experience that if you only have little ones, you probably won’t believe me, and you probably won’t listen. But, you’ve been warned. It really is a thing. I wish someone would have told me! (more on my thoughts about that next week when I share a week in the life with my young fifth grader!)
That being said . . .
Let’s talk about Oak Meadow Fifth Grade!
The core of the program: Fifth Grade History and English
This year is U.S. History, from explorers, through the Civil War. The end of the year briefly covers geography, culture, and a quick look at the state you live. in.
The history reading is included in the text with full-color illustrations. The assignments are found throughout and are set apart with a bold font. Assignments include things like consulting maps, writing responses, making crafts, cooking, dioramas, and other art projects.
English activities are also incorporated. Each lesson starts with a vocabulary lesson, and grammar activities. Grammar information is incorporated in the text, and topics covered in previous years are included in an “English manual” in the back of the book.
- The Story of Harriet Tubman: Freedom Train
- Ben & Me
- Johnny Tremain
- Little House on the Prairie
- Sarah Morton’s Day
- The Witch of Blackbird Pond
- If You Sailed on the Mayflower in 1620
- Where Do You Think You’re
- Going, Christopher Columbus?
- Children of the Wild West
Additional reading from the library is recommended.
Oak Meadow Fifth Grade Science
Fifth Grade science covers everything from the scientific methods to ecosystems, habitats, biomes, astronomy, weather, cells, body systems, energy, sound, electricity, technology and physics.
Science lessons include all the written material right in the book. After each section of text, there are assignments for your child to complete. While the text is more like a traditional textbook, the activities are still creative and varied at this age. There are research projects, writing, models to create, and my favorite part, thoughtful questions to answer.
Your child will be asked to think critically and evaluate the information, rather than just regurgitating the information they read. For example, when learning about blood types, your child will have a chance to chat with their family members to see to whom they could donate if someone needed blood, and who could donate to them if they ever needed it.
Oak Meadow Fifth Grade Math
The math book is the only consumable book in the set. You could have your child transcribe questions on another sheet of paper, but this slows Bug down (and leaves room for errors) so I let him write in the book directly.
Fifth-grade math covers a review of past topics, graphing, roman numerals, long division, multiplying by large numbers, geometry, and goes in depth with fractions.
There are many word problems included. At this age, math is a solid mix of answering traditional problems, and working with more practical questions that show the application of the lesson to real life.
What do I love about this program so far?
This year is very clearly laid out. I love that when I open up the student book, I can see at a glance which portions of the text are student reading, and which portions are assignments that need completed. The assignments are written in bold, and pop right out of the text. I can use the sticky flags like we did last year with Oak Meadow Four to indicate which activities I want Bug to complete, and he’s ready to go all on his own.
I love that the text and assignments are all in the same book, in the order they are expected to be done. There is no flipping back and forth or losing additional books. Even art, crafts, music and other extension activities are included right there in the text this year (in earlier years, some of this was found in the appendix instead of in the text).
What do I wish was different?
There is only one small thing I wish was different about this level, and it really comes down to me being a type A kind of person. I am a compulsive planner, and I love when programs plan everything for me. This program really is written directly to Bug, so in theory, I don’t need the same sort of lesson plans I needed in the past, but I would love to see some sort of pre-planned checklist to make tracking everything easier. I would pay handsomely for a clear checklist that JUST lists the assignments and the things Bug needs to do each week. I’d love two copies, one for him to track his work, and one for me to use to track what I have evaluated and what I have not.
The teachers manual is invaluable at this grade because it does list all of the things your child needs to do (the same bolded assignment prompts from the student text appear here) with the answers, so I am just going to take that detailed list, and break it down into a one-pager checklist.
I know there are people out there who struggle with the flexible nature of the lower grade levels, and I do want to say that this year is the most structured year I have seen yet (I expect it gets even more structured as time goes on). This year still leaves the when and how of scheduling up to you, so you can still block schedule and do one subject a day, or do it in 4 days instead of five, or even move at a half pace…. but it lists very clear assignments which will be easy to plug into a checklist like the ones I enjoy using.