Why We Love Grammar Galaxy (and What We Add) for Homeschool Language Arts

Is Grammar Galaxy a complete curriculum? See how we make it the core of our language arts and our writing and literature supplements for fifth grade.

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Fifth grade is a big year. It's our fourth year homeschooling and (gasp!) my boys' last year of elementary school. I feel like this is a big transition year: in some ways, we can still capture the joy and play of elementary life but in other ways we are ramping up the expectations that will come with middle school.  My kiddos are growing up and I feel like I'm finally getting a handle on what works best for their learning styles when it comes to homeschool. 

Language arts has always been a favorite subject for all of us, and making sure that I foster their love of reading and writing while also providing the tools they need for handwriting, spelling, and grammar has always been a top priority in our homeschool.

Secular Language Arts Curriculum Choices

Language arts looks a lot different for us this year. It's the first year that we won't be starting out with a literature based curriculum as we have in the past. We made the switch to Grammar Galaxy in the middle of last year and realized that it was a perfect fit for our family. 

While it is the core of our language arts, it does need a little bit more in literature and writing. With a few additions, we've created the perfect language arts curriculum that is engaging and covers everything that we need for fifth grade. 

You might be thinking... what made us change from a literature based program? The short answer is that it just wasn't working for us. As much as I love a good book list, I've found that centering all our language arts activities around novels doesn't work on a day to day basis. While it's great in theory, in the grand scheme of things we seemed to go off track more often than not.

But my kids love stories, and thrive when they are able to learn language arts in context. This is where Grammar Galaxy shines. It is story based, weaving language arts concepts into a fun novel format that gives us plenty of freedom to choose the literature that we love. That's why it has become our core language arts curriculum. See why we love Grammar Galaxy and what we use to supplement our writing and literature studies as well.

Grammar Galaxy Homeschool Language Arts Program

Red Star,

Grammar Galaxy is the best curriculum with the worst name. 

Why? Because it is so much more than a grammar program. I think a lot of people don't give it a chance because they think it solely focuses on grammar, when it is actually a full curriculum for language arts. Each volume covers four units: literature, grammar, spelling and vocabulary, and composition with public speaking. And it does it in a way that is super engaging with interactive lessons that make it a good fit for our family.

Grammar Galaxy has two parts: lessons told through a story format and a mission manual. The story book can be read aloud by the learning partner or independently by the student, depending on their age (it is written at approximately a fifth grade reading level). It's available both in print or pdf download, and you will only need one per family.

Red Star

The story book shares the adventures of the English family, the royal family of Grammar Galaxy. Kirk, Luke, and Ellen English are Grammar Guardians and their job is to protect the galaxy from the evil Gremlin, who is trying to wreak havoc on the English language. Each chapter skillfully weaves language arts concepts into the adventure, and makes your learner a Guardian of Grammar Galaxy helping to save the language!

Once you've read the story, your learning will be given a "mission" to complete relating to the chapter. These missions are found in the accompanying Mission Manual workbook. Each mission has a similar format, which helps your learner to be independent and makes it super easy to schedule in your planner. 

You will need one mission manual per child as they are consumable. They are big, so I recommend getting the printed version to save your ink.

Each mission starts with On Guard questions - a review of the chapter you've just read along with additional review of previous chapters. While Grammar Galaxy is a mastery based program, I do find that there is a good bit of review in each unit.

Each lesson also has vocabulary to review, along with assignments to complete in your mission manual. The activities vary, from reading comprehension, short answers, multiple choice, and writing. I love that there are hands-on activities in each chapter. 

Finally, you'll have a fourth assignment labeled "For Advanced Guardians." This final, optional activity is usually a little more in-depth and requires writing.

Red Star
In addition, there is a challenge quiz at the end of each unit to give your kids a chance to show what they have learned. This is a great way to review and ensure that your learners are solid on the concepts before moving on. Since Grammar Galaxy is a more mastery based curriculum, it's important to know that your kids have grasped each section.

Last year in fourth grade, we began Grammar Galaxy Yellow Star a little late in the year, so we completed two missions a week. This year, we are moving on to Red Star and I plan to complete one mission a week for a complete 36 week school year. This gives us the chance to dig into the Advanced Guardian activities and take advantage of additional free activities available for each chapter. These activities include videos, supplemental writing, worksheets, and more resources to help your learners with more difficult concepts.

I'm so excited that we've found Grammar Galaxy, because it is a program that my kids enjoy and that gives them a solid foundation. Plus, it covers all the elementary and middle school grade levels so we can have a consistent program to use for several years to come! You can see the full scope and sequence from grades 1-8 here. You can also find sample chapters of every level here.

While Grammar Galaxy is considered a complete language arts curriculum, I do feel that we need additional practice in literature and writing (the author of the curriculum suggests this as well). With that in mind, here are the supplemental secular resources that we will be using to cover those topics for fifth grade.

Fifth Grade Writing Supplement 

After 3 years of using a literature based curriculum for language arts, my kids have truly come to appreciate great writing. I wanted to continue using literature to teach writing, but not be tied to a specific novel study schedule. That's where our supplemental writing resource comes in with a resource orginally designed for public school that is easy to use in homeschool: the Killgallon method.

This series of worktexts by Don and Jenny Killgallon uses excerpts from great books (over 350 in the Paragraphs book!), many of which your kids will recognize. In fact, we are using the lists of source books as one of our guides to choosing read alouds this year.

The Killgallon books use a method called "sentence composing," where learners examine that parts that make up great sentences, using real examples from literature. Students are walked through various exercises where they label sentence parts, unscramble them and create their own imitation sentences. As you go through the series, these same methods are used with paragraphs and then nonfiction mentor texts.

This will be our third year using Killgallon writing. We completed Getting Started with Sentence Composing in third grade, Story Grammar for Elementary in fourth, and will now work through Paragraphs for Elementary School and Non-Fiction for Elementary School in fifth. You can find the worktexts on Amazon and other book sellers, and there are free teacher's guides to download on the publisher's website.

There is also a new series on Sentence Composing that you can check out here. This was published after we had worked through the first two books in the series so I haven't had a chance to use it, but it looks like a great alternative to get started with the method!

In addition to working through the Killgallon books, we will be using some elements of the Brave Writer lifestyle, incorporating Friday Freewrites and Poetry into our weekly routine. We actually prefer poetry picnics to tea time, and this Poetry Journal is one of our favorite writing supplements.

That brings us to the last part of our secular choices for fifth grade language arts: literature! This has been the hardest part to choose, as we are used to having a yearly book list already prepared for us. I've gone back and forth so many times as to what we will do and my final choice may surprise you.

Fifth Grade Literature Choices

When it comes to fifth grade literature, there are so many amazing books to choose from that it feels impossible to narrow down the choices. I have spent countless hours scouring book lists and reading novels that I think my kiddos will enjoy. I've looked at all sorts of novel studies and never found what we really needed. So, we're doing our own thing!

The stack above is not our final choices because I honestly haven't made final choices yet. After a lot of research and review I've decided that we are going to simply read. Choose all the wonderful books and read as much as we can. 

So practically, what does that look like? We will choose a read aloud together and read daily. Sometimes during "school time", sometimes in the car (we love audiobooks) and sometimes after bed. I'll also give my kids free reading time every day, as well as regular trips to the library and book store.

In addition, we will be using my Reading Adventure Journal to help them explore story elements, vocabulary, and creative writing prompts related to the books that they read. You can check it out below!

I designed this product when I could not find a secular reading journal for kids that fit our needs. This journal works with any novel at any level. It includes spaces for your learners to make notes on common story elements: plot, setting, character, conflict and theme. It also includes space to define vocabulary words. You'll also see a prompt to design your own book cover for each book, and a list of creative writing prompts to help your kids analyze the story as they read. 

Using a combination of Grammar Galaxy, Killgallon writing, and our own Reading Journal, I feel that we will have a wonderful year of language arts. I'm sure we will do some tweaking as the year goes along, and I'll be sure to post updates as we go on Instagram. Head over there now to see more inside our homeschool and be sure to message me with any questions. I'd love to hear what you're doing for homeschool language arts this year too!

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