The Good & the Beautiful Curriculum in High School


The Good & the Beautiful is a breath of fresh air for your homeschool! The price is very affordable for families, there are morals included in every lesson, and it’s designed for the busy mom with its open-and-go format.  While it is Christian-based, it offers up a neutral world-view, allowing parents to tailor it toward their family’s beliefs.  The print quality is amazing, and the vintage reading material is a delightful change from what our children were gravitating toward before we switched to this curriculum.  At the high school level, the curriculum is set up to reinforce time management skills and responsibility.

The courses combine subjects, using a cross-curricular approach to tie concepts together.  It is faith-based, with a general Christian, non-denominational worldview with the goal of producing not only intelligent minds, but also high character and the ability to recognize and appreciate what is good and beautiful in life and in learning.  The goal is not to teach specific doctrines, but to teach general principles of moral character such as honesty and kindness.  Affordability is another aspect that separates this curriculum from others — namely, it is affordable!  In fact, the company makes their math and language arts curriculum, from levels 1-8, completely FREE for anyone to download

Language Arts

The Good & the Beautiful’s language arts is one of my favorite program components, as it covers reading, spelling, writing, dictation, literature, grammar, vocabulary, geography, and art.  By including geography and art, it takes a bit of a unit study approach.  For example, in High School-1, unit five covers the Arctic areas.  They read a book about the Arctic, and the geography, art, vocabulary, and writing assignments tie in with that region.  You can cover quite a bit with just the one class!  Each high school course is one credit of English, ½ credit of geography, and ½ credit of art.  Pencil drawing is taught in each level. The other mediums taught are watercolor, charcoals, and acrylic paint.

The curriculum is set up to reinforce student responsibility and time management skills in addition to grammar, writing, and reading.  Each year is divided into ten separate units.  The student is able to take a unit and work on it for two to three weeks before turning it in for grading.  However, some students need a little more guidance.  In the online support group, there are course schedules free to download in the files section.  Additionally, Sparks Academy offers live / blended classes for students using the Language Arts curriculum (level 7, and high school levels 1-3 are available).  These classes meet with a flexible schedule on a weekly basis, as well as live meetings quarterly via video chat.  Students have schoolwork assigned each week and work on group assignments throughout the year.  These classes help not only the student, but the parent as well, as it puts the burden of teaching onto an outside source, provides a sense of accountability for the student, and allows for grading from a source other than the parent.  


History

The current history includes read alouds, audio recordings, and accompanying worksheets.  At the high school level, each quarter (each historical era), the student has a short list of research projects to complete before we move on to the next era.  This goes back to student responsibility and time management.  I use the term ‘current’ because TGTB is in the process of re-writing all of their history units, but we don’t know when they will re-release or what they will look like.

One of the things I like about history is that it takes the classical education approach – of four different eras of history – and teaches from all four of those each school year.  Rather than doing an entire year of ancient history, we’re doing one quarter on ancient history each school year (with each year focusing on a different region, such as Egypt or Greece).  It’s easy to get burnt out on a particular era when you’re knee-deep in it for an entire year, so we like that things get mixed up!  The history curriculum has a minimum of four read-alouds each year, so if you don’t like reading together, it might not be a good fit for your family.  However, for us, it’s given the kids the perfect excuse to still curl up with mom in their teen years.

For folks wanting something a bit different, or teacher-led, Sparks Academy offers live / blended classes for middle and high school students using The Good & the Beautiful’s Constitution course for Government and Economics and Notgrass for World and American History.

Science & Math

These subjects are topics that come up regularly in the TGTB with Middle and High School Students group.  The short answer is that TGTB doesn’t currently offer these subjects specifically for high school and there is no one recommended program, but dozens of choices.  You’ll need to choose the one that fits your family’s teaching style, and your student’s learning style, the best. 

The available math courses currently go up through Level 6, with levels 7 and 8 projected in 2023 and 2024.  These are amazing for visual learners!  See what we thought of Math 5 and Math 6.  Sparks Academy provides three levels of science: General Science, Physical Science, and Chemistry.  If you want to use what you already own, there’s also a printable plan for using TGTB sciences in high school.  You can find more vetted online options for math and sciences here.

Record-Keeping & Grades

While you won’t need to keep everything from the courses for a portfolio, you’ll want to keep copies of any essays or research projects, as well as some of that beautiful artwork!  Some states require more record-keeping than others, so always check into your state requirements.  For our own family, we keep one complete language arts unit, in case there is a question of what type of work was completed, in addition to the above list.  Also, you may want to add complete course descriptions (many of which can be found in the files of the high school support group).  These, along with the aforementioned portfolio pieces, will usually satisfy any inquiries from colleges or other outside sources…include well-meaning family members.

If you’re thinking on college prep and being ready to submit all that information, we have created a low-cost program for parents homeschooling high schoolers that covers college-prep topics.  Check out Through the Door: Homeschool to College Success!

Sparks Academy

 Sparks Academy provides live / blended classes for high school students, using The Good & the Beautiful for language arts, Apologia / Berean Builders for science, and Notgrass for history.  These classes meet weekly, allowing students the opportunity to discuss the literature, get additional instruction on concepts covered, and show off their art projects and recitations.  Students receive a grade for these courses from a source outside of the home.

Sparks Academy is not affiliated with The Good & the Beautiful, but is run by parents who use and love their curriculum.  They are providing support, accountability, and community for upper grades families who use this curriculum by creating an online homeschool co-op for high school students.  Currently, students can register for High School Levels 1-3 in language arts.  For families who just need a bit of extra help, there are writing consultation packages for Levels 6, 7, and High School (for those who only want essay feedback).

Visit Sparks Academy to Learn More!

A few Extra Notes

Finding Your Groove — Homeschool Styles

When looking for curriculum, you’ll want to consider your homeschool style.  It may take a few years to settle down into the right fit for your family, and that’s completely normal.  

Not sure what your style is?  


Consider…

  • What’s your teaching style?
  • What are your goals?
  • How do your kids learn best?
  • What values do you want to instill in your children?
  • What’s your lifestyle? Do you prefer routine or flexibility?

Within each of these homeschool styles, you have the flexibility to be creative and make your own student-directed classes.  Maybe your child is interested in becoming a veterinarian, but you can’t find a class for that…make your own!  You’ll need approximately 140 hours of work, hands on and academic, to count it as a full year.  Use this Create-Your-Own Class Planner to help you get started.

Download and print the Homeschool Curriculum Guide

Classical

Focusing on the trivium, the three stages of learning: grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric, this is a Socratic method that includes public speaking, memorization, and a full school day. The trivium stages match up with elementary, middle, and secondary school. This is a rigorous approach to schooling, but produces results.  Compass Classroom offers several great options for classical instruction, and you can try their sample resources for free.

Charlotte Mason

Developed by a 19th century educator who believed in reading ‘living books’ rather than ‘twaddle,’ this approach involves living learning. It revolves around reading aloud together as a family, and following child interests. Nature walks, art museums, fine arts studies, and living books are all a part of this approach, and there is a focus on instill good character habits.  One of our favorite Charlotte Mason providers is The Homeschool Garden.  (See more information, or just try them free.)

Unit Studies

This approach takes all of the subjects and integrates them in an in-depth study of a topic. For example, a unit study of Rome might include reading and writing about Rome, studying the history of Roman emperors, calculating timelines and marketplace purchases, creating artwork and projects from Ancient Roman times, and studying water (from the aqueducts built during this era).  Field trips and hand-on projects are frequently utilized. Units may be literature-based, and this is a great style for teaching multiple grades together.  Techie Homeschool Mom offers fantastic, online unit studies that also teach various technologies.  Try one free!

Unschooling

Definitely for the Type B family, this is a child-centered approach to schooling. There are no formal lessons, or even formal curriculum, but the children follow their interests and learn from life experiences. Schedules are not utilized, and there is much flexibility and freedom, with a focus for teaching a love of learning and developing the ability to be self-educating. This does not mean that they don’t read, write, and do math, but that they follow their interests. Math might be adding up the tab at the restaurant, or figuring the tax.

Waldorf

Similar to unschooling, this is a child-centered approach that focuses on nature, arts, crafts, music, and movement.  Much of schooling is done out in nature, and technology is not a big part of this curriculum.

Eclectic

The eclectic method is just a fancy way of saying ‘a combination of styles.’  This includes picking and choosing from the smorgasboard of different curriculum providers to meet your student’s various needs.  Literary Adventures for Kids is a beautifully-eclectic, online language arts program that your kids are sure to love!  Try their Psychology course for upper grades free here.

Textbooks

This is a fairly common style in the first few years of homeschooling, especially if you’ve pulled your children out of public school, to build confidence.  Don’t forget to do a bit of de-schooling before starting the semester!  Traditional schoolers focus on common standards and often complete a full day of classwork.

Stay-at-Home School

A lot of organizations don’t consider this to be “real” homeschooling since it’s being paid for and run by the government and someone else is doing all of the teaching.  For a small percentage of people, though, whether it be because of job commitments, life ‘events,’ or something else that is preventing them from being able to sit down and dedicate themselves fully to educating their children, institutions such as K12 and Epic really are the best fit.  It’s never my first recommendation, but still a valid option.


One of our favorite all-in-one resources for families is SchoolhouseTeachers.  It includes all classes, for all grades…and it’s one price for the entire family, whether you have two children or twelve.  There are many different learning styles to select from, so if you have one visual kid who needs a relaxed pace and one aural kid who needs a more stringent pace, there are classes that will fit them each.  With over 475 classes available, plus extras for mom and dad, this is my favorite resource to offer new families who are wanting to dip their toe into homeschooling but aren’t sure how to begin!


Want a little help getting started?  Download the free e-book, Getting Your Homeschool Off on the Right Foot!

When choosing a curriculum for your family, you’ll want to consider ‘intelligence’ and learning styles.  A Genius in Every Seat helps you work through determining these factors…
This e-book comes with a workbook component for surveying yourself and your students, along with suggestions for putting the results into practice.

Connecting World War I and World War II in History Lessons

world war resources

While WW1 did not directly cause WW2, many of its after-effects led to weakened European states who were weak, needed strong leadership, and opened the door for dictatorships. The consequences of the first world war indirectly led to the second.

End of World War I

On the morning of November 11, 1918, the French delegation witnessed the Germans signing the Armistice that would go into effect at the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918. It was exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, the event that had set the ‘world’ part of the war into motion. The perceived humiliation and harsh terms of the subsequent Treaty of Versailles created a motive for Hitler and the leadership of the Third Reich to seek revenge. One of the terms of the treat was that Germany had to pay the equivalent of $124 million (in 2021 terms). Another term took sections of Germany and gave them to Czechoslovakia and Poland.

Dictators from the Depression

After the Treaty of Versailles was signed, the world plunged into a different kind of chaoes. Germany fell into economic troubles, but they weren’t the one country struggling. Russia and Italy also had difficulties recovering. History has shown us that, during times of chaos, people look to strong leaders who they hope will get the job of done so the country can recover. This was no exception. The political leaders who came to power during this period – Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini – were very powerful.

Though born in Austria, Hitler considered himself a German. He fought for Germany during WWI, being partially blinded and shot. After the war, he became a spy for the Social Democratic Party who spied on another German group, the German Workers Party. It was during this time that he became well known and began to get a following. Germans were struggling, financially, as they were required by the Treaty to pay back damages and reparations from WWI. Hitler began to speak out and lead protests. He was sentenced to jail at one point, where he wrote his autobiography, Mein Kampf. After release, he had even more followers and began his ascent to power.

Tsar Nikolas was overthrown in the Russian Revolution, at the end of WWI, by the Bolsheviks, a Communist party. In 1922, Russia and several other countries joined together to form the Soviet Union under Lenin’s leadership. In 1924, when Lenin passed, Stalin came to power. Stalin wanted to industrialize the Soviet Union to strengthen the economy. He introduced a plan called ‘collectivization,’ where the Soviets took land from individual owners, and gave it to the State (the government). The idea was to increase efficiency, store more food, use less labor (more machines), and send farmers to work in factories.

Mussolini is often seen as the founder of facsism, a fom of totalitarian government with a capitalist economy. Before he came to power, the Italian government was led by a king-appointed Prime Minister. Mussolini had a group of ‘blackshirts,’ people who went around stirring up trouble, beating up political opponents, and generally clearing the way for his rise to power. The king appointed Mussolini as PM in 1922 so that the blackshirts would stop the violence. (This is called ‘appeasement,’ and it’s not a good idea.) In 1925, Mussolini became a dictator, taking away freedoms and forcing loyalty.

Appeasement & the League of Nations

The precursor to the United Nations, the League of Nations was formed at the end of WWI to ensure world war never occurred again. Unfortunately, they were afraid to act against aggressive countries, for fear of starting another war. This was another form of appeasement (remember the king of Italy?). One of the earliest instances of appeasement was when Mussolini decided to invade and conquer Ethiopia in 1935…and the League of Nations did not act. Hitler then decided to try his hand at reconquering some lands.

Under the Treaty of Versailles, Germany was not to have a large army, but that was ignored as the German army swelled and the country also formed an Air Force and Navy. By the late 1930s, Hitler had begun to annex places like Austria and Sudetenland (part of Czechoslovakia that had been taken from Germany after WWI). The League of Nations did try to act at this point, and on September 30th, 1938 they created the Munich Pact, which allowed Germany to have Sudetenland, but would not allow them to go any further. This was another act of appeasement.

Post World War II

After World War II, Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin created a new international security agency, the United Nations, with hope of preventing WWIII. The Soviet Union and United States emerged as new world super-powers at the end of WW2. They had been allies during the war, but mostly because they had a common enemy. These new super-powers had extremely different views about government and economics — one was capitalist and the other communist — and they had a lot of distrust of each other. This distrust led to nearly fifty years of a Cold War – a war without actual fighting, but with the continual threat of nuclear warfare. Both the Korean War and the Vietnam War were extensions of the Cold War.

World War I – Era Resources

Novel Studies & Printables

Videos

World War II Resources

Printables

Novel Studies

Field Trips

Videos

Audiobooks

Post World War II Resources

Novel Studies & Printables

Download the FREE World History Timeline with Study Connections!

37 Ways to Make Your Homeschool Delight-Directed!

student led schooling

What is Delight-Directed Homeschooling?

Delight-directed homeschooling can be a remedy for mid-winter burnout, but it can also be an all-the-time homeschooling style. It is a method of education that allows your children to explore what they love and work at a flexible pace, ebbing and flowing with each new bunny trail.

To those thinking along the lines of traditional schooling (ie, government schools), it may seem that the student isn’t really learning anything, but not only will your student be learning…they’ll be learning far more than you could have imagined! It’s about depth…not breadth. The topics can vary through the year, jumping around, or they can stay fairly focused.

Delight-directed schooling is very similar to the unit study method, but tends to go even deeper than a typical unit study. Let your student be the guide!

Learning through Literature

Literature studies are so much more FUN!  As an added bonus, because they incorporate knowledge through relating to a character and / or story, your students are apt to retain more once the year ends. 

What are living books, and how can you use them to make your homeschool shine? Get all the tips & tricks in Using Living Books to Homeschool.

Novel studies can be used to cover concepts from language arts and history to science and math.  It’s been our students’ preferred learning method for years, and we’ve created well over one hundred of them! Here are just a few of the odd topics that cropped up as a result of their delight-directed learning…

  • Fever 1793 + Epidemics in World History
  • Willa of the Wood + Basic Foraging
  • Shouting at the Rain + Severe Weather
  • Nick & Tesla + Nikola Tesla / Electricity
  • The Golem & the Jinni + Kabbalah unit
  • Charlie Hernandez + Hispanic Mythology
  • The Watsons Go to Birmingham & Civil Rights
  • My Side of the Mountain & Wilderness Survival
  • Serafina and the Splintered Heart & Writing a Ghost Story
  • Island of the Blue Dolphins & Introduction to Sailing
  • Finding Langston & the Poetry of Langston Hughes
  • Motel of the Mysteries & Archaeology
  • Caroline’s Comet & Astronomy
  • Writing Fantasy with the Hobbit
  • Crime and Punishment & Free Will vs Determinism
  • Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation & Albert Einstein

Audiobooks

Some students learn better through audio, rather than reading. Audiobooks are a fantastic way to incorporate literature unit studies, without taxing struggling readers to frustration. Which is not to say that you shouldn’t keep working on reading, but sometimes a work-around is in order…

Specialized Topics

When students are REALLY into a topic, they’ll even begin to educate you. You never know what you’re going to be learning each day as a homeschooling parent! These bundles help dive into some very specific interests…

In-depth Classes

The classes at Sparks Academy utilize literature, videos, and student interaction to study science, language arts, history, geography, character, writing, and literary concepts. This online co-op includes weekly student interaction in the private classroom forum. Learn more here.

Try-It-Out Deals

delight directed learning

38 Ways to Teach Writing (that are FUN!)

teaching writing

Writing is an integral part of the language arts classes taught at Sparks Academy. We offer four levels of instruction, each building upon the last, until students are ready to write in any form requested of them – whether at a career or college! But maybe you don’t want a full class….how can you make writing fun at home?

Literature Studies & Living Books

What are living books, and how can you use them to make your homeschool shine? Get all the tips & tricks in Using Living Books to Homeschool. Scroll down to snag pre-made bundles of novel studies!

Literature Units for Middle School

Virtual Classes
  • My Side of the Mountain & Wilderness Survival
  • Serafina and the Seven Stars & the Biltmore House
  • Serafina and the Black Cloak & Appalachian Folklore
  • Serafina and the Splintered Heart & Writing a Ghost Story
  • The Call of the Wild
  • Alex Rider & Spies
  • Ranger’s Apprentice & Creative Writing
  • Theodore Boone & Understanding the Legal System

Literature Units for High School

  • Oliver Twist & the Industrial Revolution
  • Crime and Punishment & Free Will vs Determinism
  • The Things they Carried & the Vietnam War
  • Five People You Meet in Heaven & Human Impact
  • The Chosen & the Zionist Movement
  • Things Fall Apart & the Colonization of Africa

Online Classes

Another fun option for teaching writing is through the language arts classes Sparks Academy! There are four levels offered currently, including High School 1, High School 2, High School 3, and Level 7. (The last one is for 7th/8th/9th grade, depending on your student’s skills.) This is an online co-op, with weekly student interaction in the private classroom forum. Learn more here.

Writing Projects & Activities

Writing Units

Writing Activities

Maybe you just need help with writing feedback for your student? We’ve got you covered!! Use the form specifically for the Good & Beautiful or any other curriculum.

writing styles pin

51 Ways to Teach World History with Literature

Trying to recreate public school at home, right down to the textbooks, is something new homeschoolers often do (especially those pulling students out of school).  Literature studies, however, are so much more FUN!  As an added bonus, because they incorporate knowledge through relating to a character and / or story, your students are apt to retain more once the year ends. 

world history

What are living books, and how can you use them to make your homeschool shine? Get all the tips & tricks in Using Living Books to Homeschool.

Novel studies can be used to cover concepts from language arts and history to science and math.  It’s been our students’ preferred learning method for years, and we’ve created well over one hundred of them! If you’re looking to teach World History through literature, here are 51 units to try….and don’t discount audiobooks, too! They’re a great addition to a busy homeschooling day!

Another fun option for teaching history is the World History class offered through Sparks Academy. This is an online co-op, with weekly student interaction in the private classroom forum. Learn more here.

world history pin
  • Motel of the Mysteries & Archaeology
  • Island Boy & Ancient Hawaii
  • Encounter & the Tainos
  • A Loyal Foe & Wars of the Roses
  • Around the World in 80 Days & International Eats
  • Number the Stars & the Holocaust
  • To Kill a Mockingbird & Racism
  • House of the Seven Gables & Witch Trials
  • The Night Witches & Women in Aviation
  • The Lookout Tree & the Great Acadian Upheaval
  • Animal Farm & the Russian Revolution
  • Breaking Stalin’s Nose & Josef Stalin
  • King Arthur & the Knights of the Round Table
  • True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle
  • Flashback Four: Pompeii Disaster
  • Someday We Will Fly
  • Zlata’s Diary & the Slavic Wars
  • Treasure Island & Pirates of the Caribbean Sea
  • Farenheit 451 & Types of Government
  • Red Stars & Russia in World War 2
  • The Long List of Impossible Things & Post-War Germany
  • A Tale of Two Cities & French Revolution
  • The World Made New & Early Explorers
  • Kane Chronicles + Egyptian Mythology
  • Percy Jackson + Greek Mythology
  • Heroes of Olympus + Roman Mythology
  • Magnus Chase + Norse Mythology
  • Midsummer Night’s Dream + Celtic Mythology
  • The Golden Bull + Mesopotamian Mythology
  • Call It Courage + Polynesian Mythology
  • Mansa Musa + African Mythology
  • Tristan Strong + African-American Mythology
  • Charlie Hernandez + Hispanic Mythology
  • Aru Shah + Hindu Mythology
  • The Storm Runner + Mayan Mythology
  • Where the Mountain Meets the Moon + Chinese Mythology
  • The Dragon Pearl + Korean Mythology
  • Coyote’s Daughter + Native American Mythology
  • Race to the Sun + Navajo Mythology
  • We Were There with Byrd at the South Pole
  • We Were There at the Normandy Invasion
  • We Were There at the Battle for Bataan
  • We Were There with Richard the Lionhearted in the Crusades
  • We Were There with Florence Nightingale in the Crimea
  • We Were There at the Battle of Britain
  • We Were There with Cortes and Montezuma
  • We Were There with Caesar’s Legions
  • We Were There with Charles Darwin on H.M.S. Beagle
  • We Were There with the Lafayette Escadrille
  • We Were There at the Battle of the Bulge
  • We Were There on the Nautilus
  • The King’s Fifth
  • Red Falcons of Tremoine
  • Golden Hawks of Genghis Khan
  • Red Hugh of Ireland
  • Calico Captive
  • The Story of Eli Whitney
  • Island of the Blue Dolphins
  • The Lost Kingdom
  • The Secret Garden
  • Heidi
  • Girl of the Limberlost
  • The Winged Watchman
  • When the Dikes Broke

Charlotte Mason History

If you’re more of a simply-Charlotte-Mason style family, check out the Homeschool Garden sessions. These easy to implement sessions are planned out and ready for you to place in your schedule wherever it fits best.  I could spend several hours trying to dig up resources, but they have already done the work for me (and really, who has that kind of time anymore?).  They have a variety of subject sessions, plus five different Advent studies, and you’re sure to find a few that intrigue your family.  One of the best parts about these units is that everything is included – there are no other purchases required. See inside a sample session here.

Want to give it a go? Use code FRIENDSANDFAMILY to take 50% off any one session (not bundles) at The Homeschool Garden.  Where it asks, be sure to tell them Yvie sent ya!  😊

You can find all of the above novel studies in the five unit bundles below! (Sample units are in blue.) Enjoy the journey, and remember….DO THE VOICES!!!

45 Ways to Teach US History & Geography with Literature

Trying to recreate public school at home, right down to the textbooks, is something new homeschoolers often do (especially those pulling students out of school).  Literature studies, however, are so much more FUN!  As an added bonus, because they incorporate knowledge through relating to a character and / or story, your students are apt to retain more once the year ends. 

What are living books, and how can you use them to make your homeschool shine? Get all the tips & tricks in Using Living Books to Homeschool.

us history

Novel studies can be used to cover concepts from language arts and history to science and math.  It’s been our students’ preferred learning method for years, and we’ve created well over one hundred of them! If you’re looking to teach American History and Geography through literature, here are 45 units to try….and don’t discount audiobooks, too! They’re a great addition to a busy homeschooling day!

Another fun option for teaching history are the US History and Government/Constitution classes at Sparks Academy! This is an online co-op, with weekly student interaction in the private classroom forum. Learn more here.

american history pin
  • Casualties of War & Vietnam War
  • No Promises in the Wind & the Great Depression
  • Out of the Dust & the Dust Bowl
  • The Watsons Go to Birmingham & Civil Rights
  • Dusty Sourdough & Alaska
  • The King of Mulberry Street & Ellis Island Immigration
  • Paper Son & Angel Island Immigration
  • The Red Menace & McCarthyism
  • Johnny Tremain & Faces of the American Revolution
  • Sounder & Sharecropping
  • World War II Code Talkers
  • Flashback Four: Hamilton-Burr Duel
  • Within These Lines & Japanese Internment Camps
  • Flashback Four: Titanic Mission
  • Flashback Four: Lincoln Project
  • Freedom Summer & the Summer of 1964
  • Farenheit 451 & Types of Government
  • The Great Gatsby & the Roaring Twenties
  • Witch of Blackbird Pond & Salem Witch Trials
  • The World Made New & Early Explorers
  • Stitching a Life & Jewish Immigration
  • We Were There on the Oregon Trail
  • We Were There at the Battle of Gettysburg
  • We Were There at the Boston Tea Party
  • We Were There in the Klondike Gold Rush
  • We Were There with the Mayflower Pilgrims
  • We Were There with the Pony Express
  • We Were There with the California Forty-Niners
  • We Were There with Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys
  • We Were There with Jean Lafitte at New Orleans
  • We Were There at the Oklahoma Land Run
  • We Were There on the Chisholm Trail
  • We Were There at Pearl Harbor
  • We Were There when Washington Won at Yorktown
  • We Were There at the Battle of the Alamo
  • We Were There at the Opening of the Erie Canal
  • We Were There at the Battle of Lexington and Concord
  • We Were There with Lewis and Clark
  • We Were There when Grant Met Lee at Appomattox
  • We Were There with the California Rancheros
  • We Were There at the First Airplane Flight
  • We Were There on the Santa Fe Trail
  • We Were There at the Driving of the Golden Spike
  • We Were There at the Opening of the Atomic Era
  • We Were There on the Nautilus
  • We Were There with Lincoln in the White House

You can find all of these in the three unit bundles below! (Sample units are in blue.) Enjoy the journey, and remember….DO THE VOICES!!!

18 Ways to Teach Science through Literature

science nature homeschool

Trying to recreate public school at home, right down to the textbooks, is something new homeschoolers often do (especially those pulling students out of school).  Literature studies, however, are so much more FUN!  As an added bonus, because they incorporate knowledge through relating to a character and / or story, your students are apt to retain more once the year ends. 

What are living books, and how can you use them to make your homeschool shine? Get all the tips & tricks in Using Living Books to Homeschool.

Novel studies can be used to cover concepts from language arts and history to science and math.  It’s been our students’ preferred learning method for years, and we’ve created well over one hundred of them! If you’re looking to teach science through literature, here are 18 units to try….

science literature pin
  • Fever 1793 + Epidemics in World History
  • Willa of the Wood + Basic Foraging
  • Shouting at the Rain + Severe Weather
  • Nick & Tesla + Nikola Tesla / Electricity
  • N&T Robot Army Rampage + Introductory Robotics
  • N&T Secret Agent Gadget Battle + Spy Gadgets
  • N&T Super Cyborg Gadget Glove + Robotics
  • N&T Special Effects Spectacular + Making Special Effects
  • N&T Solar Powered Showdown + Solar Energy
  • Misty of Chincoteague & Horses
  • Hugo Cabret & Clocks / Time
  • Caroline’s Comet & Astronomy
  • Fuzzy Mud & Microbiology
  • Hatchet & Outdoor Skills
  • Legacy of Flight & Airplanes / Flight
  • The Science of Breakable Things & the Scientific Method
  • Frankenstein & Human Anatomy
  • Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation & Albert Einstein

Another fun option for teaching science is the Physical Science class offered through Sparks Academy! This is an online co-op, with weekly student interaction in the private classroom forum. Learn more here.

Using Living Books to Homeschool

When you were a kid, did you learn more from textbooks or from reading books just for fun? I definitely learned a lot more from historical fiction than from any history textbook!

Trying to recreate public school at home, right down to the textbooks, is something new homeschoolers often do (especially those pulling students out of school). But, by using living books in your homeschool, coupled with family-style learning, it can be so much more FUN and rewarding.  Plus, when you use living books in your homeschool, your students are apt to retain more once the year ends. 

What is a Living Book?

Living books are reading material that pull you into a subject and get you emotionally involved with the characters (a la chapter books), so it’s easier to remember the events and facts.  These books literally bring the event(s) they are talking about to life with storylines and imagination! When is the last time a textbook made you feel alive and invested in what was being studied? Probably never.

Living Books….

  • Allow the reader to visit another era and experience the culture or history.  During the ‘Rona, one of the books we read together was Fever 1793. We like to take our read-alouds and turn them into learning units, like this one, to reinforce concepts learned in the story.
    • TIP: If you’re using read-alouds as a base for school, it’s helpful to read multiple books about the same event. Having different perspectives helps students to learn critical thinking skills.
  • Put the reader into the book.  This allows your children to experience different cultures and places that they may not otherwise see. The more detailed the descriptions, the more vividly your child will relate, and it is through learning about and relating to other cultures that we break down barriers. 
    • TIP: Cultural literacy is learning about other perspectives, including across genders, world regions, and historic eras. It is helpful if you have some background knowledge to incorporate the protagonist’s perspective — so if you are going to read a book set during the Civil War, do a bit of research on the Civil War before reading the novel. It will help bring the story to life!

Benefits of Family-Style Reading

Reading together as a family helps to encourage a lifelong love of reading and literature. Whether you begin when your child is a newborn or as a teen, there are so many positive effects!  

Note to parent: If you do not start reading aloud until your child is a teen, there will be a transitional time as they become accustomed. Do not give up!

Tips for Using Living Books as Read-Alouds

1. Do the voices

Sure, you might feel goofy at first, but nothing gets children engaged in a story faster than having a different voice for each character! Through the years, we’ve had many a good laugh as mom tried to pull off several accents, with varying degrees of success. But you know what? They remember the stories!

2. Let them be active

Legos, play-do, and coloring books are great quiet activities to keep hands occupied while ears are listening. It never hurts to pause and ask a few questions, but you’ll probably find that they are more engaged than you think.

3. Read from many genres

Mix it up, with historical fiction from multiple eras, contemporary fiction, and the occasional non-fiction.

4. Keep a home library

Yard sales, Facebook groups, and consignment stores are a great place to scout used books. Even if your child is a toddler, when you find a classic piece for a few years down the road, go ahead and snag it. A good home library will encompass many different topics and genres, including both fiction and non-fiction books.

5. Read every day

Whether you read for five minutes or an hour, set aside some time each and every day to read.  We get it…busy days mean shorter reading times.  But it’s too easy to get out of the habit, so make it a priority!  If necessary, use an audiobook to do the reading in the car.

6. Pass the book

If your children are old enough, take turns reading. Keep it age-level appropriate and for short lengths of time. When my children started reading aloud with the family, they read one paragraph at a time, then a page, and then a full chapter.

7. Read at level AND below level

As an adult, do you only read collegiate-level and above books? Neither do I. Sometimes it’s nice to settle in with a fun book, regardless of the target age range. For struggling readers, this can help them feel more successful, too, as they build those skills.

8. Use picture books.

In the non-fiction realm, picture books are an excellent way to help illustrate and explain difficult concepts… I’m looking at you, science! But also understand that not every book needs pictures. Not having pictures in a book allows children to stretch their imaginations and come up with those mental images.

Choosing Quality Books

As with everything in life, there is yin and yang. When choosing living books for read-alouds, or as a base for studies, keep in mind that not all books are “good” books.  “Good” books…

  • Have realistic characters. They are flawed. They live in the real world. But they often learn to overcome their flaws during the story.
  • Teach a moral lesson. Whether through acceptance or overcoming, the protagonist learns some sort of character lesson in the story.
  • Are engaging. These are not dry reads, but intriguing plots full of details that will keep the reader hooked and involved.

“Bad” books…

  • Are not real world. In these books, everything is awesome. Or horrible. There are no real-life events. Or they are overly moralistic.
  • Are poorly written. With poor grammar and speech (we’re not talking about the use of dialects, which can add to the authenticity), these books do more harm than good for your student’s mastery of language arts.
  • Have poor characters. They are boring, self-absorbed, and do not learn anything through the story.

Using Living Books to Study Core Subjects

Sparks Academy

The language arts classes at Sparks Academy utilize five to six novels each year to teach history, geography, character, and literary concepts. Each of the four levels builds upon the last, until students are ready to write in any form requested of them – whether at a career or college!  There are four levels offered currently, including High School 1High School 2High School 3, and Level 7(The last one is for 7th/8th/9th grade, depending on your student’s skills.) This is an online co-op, with weekly student interaction in the private classroom forum. Learn more here.

It’s Time for Holiday Homeschool! {18+ Tips & Unit Studies}

holiday homeschool ideas

The holidays are a time for creating moments with the family.  Many homeschooling parents choose to take the entire month of December off to participate in holiday events, including the Sparks Academy co-op, but there is a way to incorporate holidays into those school days, and there are many Christmas & Chanukah resources for your holiday homeschool.

Even if you live in a state with strict requirements on hours and subjects, there are ways to be creative!  Cooking is home economics; shopping is budgeting and math; writing cards is language arts.  Kids in public schools are spending most of the month of December – particularly in elementary grades – doing arts and crafts, and there’s no reason you can’t, too.

Classified by age group, pick and choose from these resources to create a #HolidayHomeschool plan that’s just right for your family!

Chanukah Resources

Chanukah homeschool resources
  • History of Hannukah (elementary / middle)
    • Learn the history of Chanukah, how it relates to Alexander the Great, and how to play the Dreidel game in this holiday-themed unit.
  • All About Chanukah (family)
    • Each of the ten unit studies in this year-long bundle centers around a book for middle school level and includes videos, cooking projects, hands-on activities, writing assignments, and more.  There are also resources for younger children in eight of the ten units.
  • TalkBox.Mom Chanukah story (family) – This free Hebrew printable also has an English translation and comes with an audio download to assist in pronunciation.   {Bonus:   Get $15 off your first TalkBox when you bundle it with your book! Use coupon: REFGSZXRLU9KL}

Christmas Resources

elementary homeschool christmas resources

Elementary

  • 12 Days of Christmas Math
    • This huge 200+ page PDF is stuffed with hands-on activities and printables to complete 12 fun Christmas themed math lessons!  Each day includes complete directions and printables, plus bonus tips, extension activities, and worksheets to reinforce the concepts your kids are learning. Harness that Christmas excitement to make homeschooling fun this season with this easy-to-use resource!
  • 12 Days of Christmas School
    • Press pause on all the traditional curriculum for an easy to implement and fun Christmas curriculum for homeschoolers! The 12 Days of Christmas curriculum includes: Language Arts, Science, Nature Study, Math, Art, Music, and World Cultures. With over 12 days of lessons, this is the perfect curriculum for those crazy days between the holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Give your elementary student a full curriculum for the holidays!
  • Budgeting for Christmas
    • Using catalogs, mailers, flyers, gift books that you collect, students can create shopping lists and budgets for a holiday gift giving.
  • Candy Cane Unit
    • This 23-page unit study includes the history of the candy cane, candy cane puzzles (Math), a candy cane STEM challenge, and funny candy cane mad libs (grammar). You’ll also watch how candy canes are made (both by hand and in a factory), conduct your own candy cane experiment, and finish it all off with a fun treat.
  • Christmas Around the World
    • Your family will love studying world cultures and geography this season with this Christmas Around the World unit! This print-and-go resource will transport your family around the globe to study 7 countries. Kids will use the critical thinking skills of comparing and contrasting as they study what makes each culture unique. And the best part is that all the facts are included- no need to waste hours searching for resources and doing research. Enjoy celebrating Christmas Around the World with your kids this season!
  • {Techie} Christmas Around the World  
    • Learn about 10 countries and their Christmas traditions, create hands-on and digital projects, and prepare an ethnic Christmas feast!
  • Christmas Science Projects
    • This downloadable PDF includes 4 science projects in the fields of chemistry, physics, biology, and engineering. Each experiment ties in with a popular children’s Christmas picture book. Complete supply lists and step by step directions make it easy to complete the projects. Each project includes a printable observation chart to help kids make observations, collect data, and record their experiment results. Each experiment also includes a brief explanation of some of the science concepts that kids will be learning about. Bonus extension activities are included for 2 of the experiments.
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas
    • Let’s read the book, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Then let’s go on rabbit trails of discovery about Christmas, Mistletoe, Santa Claus and more! We will toss some magic dust in the air and jump into the book with hands-on adventures. And when we’ve finished the book, let’s throw a party and celebrate like the Whos in Who-ville!
  • {LIVE} How the Grinch Stole Christmas:  Part I & Part 2
    • Jon Miller, Instructor of Humanities at the North Carolina School of Science and Math, has been reading ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ to the delight of students and alumni (and their children) for over 25 years.
  • NORAD Santa Tracker  
    • NORAD has done a great job with video shorts that introduce your children to landmarks and Christmas traditions from around the world! In the Village, kids can play games, build gifts, code Santa’s computer, and more!  
  • Schoolhouse Teachers Christmas Corner
    • During the month of December, there are TONS of great resources for you to cover every subject with Christmas-schooling.  (They have these for several other holidays, as well.)  Resources are available for all ages.

Middle

  • A Christmas Carol
    • In this course, A Christmas Carol Online Book Club for Middle School, we will read through the book A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. As we are reading, we will go on rabbit trails of discovery into history, science, art, and more. We will find ways to learn by experiencing parts of the book through hands-on activities. At the conclusion of the story, we will have a party school to celebrate this classic Christmas story. This online literary guide has everything you need to study the book. This course includes vocabulary, grammar, rabbit trails, and a writing project. It is perfect for advanced elementary or middle school level literature.
  • Have Yourself a Little Latin Christmas
    • Get into the holiday spirit while continuing Latin studies with these 22 pages of games, activities, and history!  Includes: Crafts, Caroling, Reading, Games, and Puzzles.
  • Budgeting for Christmas
    • Using catalogs, mailers, flyers, gift books that you collect, students can create shopping lists and budgets for a holiday gift giving.
  • {Techie} Christmas Around the World  
    • Learn about 10 countries and their Christmas traditions, create hands-on and digital projects, and prepare an ethnic Christmas feast!
  • Christmas Science Projects
    • This downloadable PDF includes 4 science projects in the fields of chemistry, physics, biology, and engineering. Each experiment ties in with a popular children’s Christmas picture book. Complete supply lists and step by step directions make it easy to complete the projects. Each project includes a printable observation chart to help kids make observations, collect data, and record their experiment results. Each experiment also includes a brief explanation of some of the science concepts that kids will be learning about. Bonus extension activities are included for 2 of the experiments.
  • Home for the Holidays
    • Homeschool through the holidays with this holiday bundle that includes three full-length history-based holiday unit studies plus several extra crafts and activities!  Full length units include: 1940s Christmas, Victorian Age Christmas, and Christmas in England.
  • Schoolhouse Teachers Christmas Corner
    • During the month of December, there are TONS of great resources for you to cover every subject with Christmas-schooling.  (They have these for several other holidays, as well.)  Resources are available for all ages.
  • Symmetry Snowflakes
    • If you’re looking for a way to decorate for the holidays while also proudly declaring your love of science, here are templates for paper snowflakes with winners of the Nobel Prize in Physics incorporated into the designs.
  • Winter Wonderland: Mixed Media Workshop
    • Includes 20 full-length, step-by-step video art lessons. Each unique art piece reflects a different aspect of winter – Christmas, snowy winter scenes, winter flowers, winter poetry and even a few delicious holiday recipes! And for the holiday season, we’ll be including easy and beautiful handmade gifts to give, ideas for Christmas cards, and simple homemade Christmas decorations and ornaments to create. In this workshop, we explore and experiment with various art forms including: sketching, acrylic painting, watercoloring, collage art, sculpting, hand lettering, art journaling, and MORE!
high school homeschool christmas resources

High

  • A Christmas Carol
    • In this course, A Christmas Carol Online Book Club for Teens, we will read through the book A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. As we are reading, we will go on rabbit trails of discovery into history, science, art, and more. We will find ways to learn by experiencing parts of the book through hands-on activities. At the conclusion of the story, we will have a party school to celebrate this classic Christmas story. This online literary guide has everything you need to study the book. This course includes vocabulary, grammar, discussion questions, rabbit trails, and a writing project. It is perfect for high school level literature.
  • Have Yourself a Little Latin Christmas
    • Get into the holiday spirit while continuing Latin studies with these 22 pages of games, activities, and history!  Includes: Crafts, Caroling, Reading, Games, and Puzzles.
  • Advent Calendar Project
    • Art meets home economics when your high schoolers create a personalized advent calendar for the entire family to enjoy year after year!
  • Home for the Holidays
    • Homeschool through the holidays with this holiday bundle that includes three full-length history-based holiday unit studies plus several extra crafts and activities!  Full length units include: 1940s Christmas, Victorian Age Christmas, and Christmas in England.
  • Schoolhouse Teachers Christmas Corner
    • During the month of December, there are TONS of great resources for you to cover every subject with Christmas-schooling.  (They have these for several other holidays, as well.)  Resources are available for all ages.
  • Symmetry Snowflakes
    • If you’re looking for a way to decorate for the holidays while also proudly declaring your love of science, here are templates for paper snowflakes with winners of the Nobel Prize in Physics incorporated into the designs.
  • Winter Wonderland: Mixed Media Workshop
    • Includes 20 full-length, step-by-step video art lessons. Each unique art piece reflects a different aspect of winter – Christmas, snowy winter scenes, winter flowers, winter poetry and even a few delicious holiday recipes! And for the holiday season, we’ll be including easy and beautiful handmade gifts to give, ideas for Christmas cards, and simple homemade Christmas decorations and ornaments to create. In this workshop, we explore and experiment with various art forms including: sketching, acrylic painting, watercoloring, collage art, sculpting, hand lettering, art journaling, and MORE!
family style homeschool christmas resources

Family-Style

  • Christmas Around the World
    • Eighteen countries (not including the United States) are addressed in the e-book.  It also includes a recommended reading and activities list, cultural movies, and Christmas music from around the world.
  • Friday Boxes
    • Give the gift of gratitude for Christmas and the New Year to follow!
  • History of the Holidays
    • This includes eight holidays, and each unit has introductory text, which will give the student the holiday’s history and customs. After this text, there are featured videos, which augment the background information and help make the topic more accessible for more visual students. You will also find a short list of reading books and fun hands-on activities!
  • Spanish-English Christmas Carols
    • Celebrate Christmas and practice your Spanish foreign language simultaneously! This 14 Christmas carols are beautifully printed in both Spanish and English – to help with language learning and for your caroling pleasure.
  • TalkBox.Mom Christmas stories 
    • Available in seven different languages, these free downloads have English translations and also come with audio to help you with pronunciation!

Keep in mind: 

  • Flexibility is good, but try to keep some semblance of a schedule.  This will make it easier when you go back to ‘regular’ school in January.
  • Time spent reading together as a family is never time lost.

Looking for something? Check the Gift Guides for Families

Holiday Homeschool Giveaway!

The last two years have been crazy to say the least! We all know families that have been hit hard with job loss, displacement, and more. In efforts to ease financial burdens and help you further explore your homeschool opportunities, we’re giving away over $1050 of homeschool and educational printables, courses, and curriculum! Thanks to these amazing bloggers and brands that love supporting the homeschool community, we’re able to give back to not one, but 3 lucky homeschool families in the best way! Inside the giveaway, you’ll find more than $1050 spread across 3 prize packages to bless three amazing families! Learn more about each of our prize packages:

Prize Package 1 ($378 Value)

Cover Story Cloud Set (Grades 6-9) from Clear Water Press, 1 year subscription from Connect through Music, DIY Printables for Teachers and Homeschoolers from Living Life and Learning, Planet Voyagers from Simply Fun, a Personalized Name Meaning Gifts & Amazing Name Cartoon from CrossTimber, and a Complete Diagnostic Assessment package from Basic Christian Education.

Prize Package 2 ($391.90 Value)

Annual Family Membership from SkillTrek, 1 year subscription from Connect through Music, God Made Music from Praise Hymn, Inc. (Winner chooses grade level and either CD’s or MP3), The Homeschool Garden Ancient History I morning time curriculum from Everyday Graces Homeschool, Holiday Big Book Bundle from The Successful Homeschool, Year 1 Curriculum + the companion Discovery Pack from Let’s Go Geography, and a Personalized Name Meaning Gifts & Amazing Name Cartoon from CrossTimber.

Prize Package 2 ($391.90 Value)

Online Music course of your choice (up to a $97 value) from Music in Our Homeschool, 1 year subscription from Connect through Music, 2 Titles from The Great Science Adventures series (K-8) from Common Sense Press, The Good Manners Resource Pack (digital edition) from Homeschool Adventure, Julia Rothman Notebook Companions Complete Set from Daily Skill Building, 3 books from Carole P Roman’s diverse cultural and historical series from Carole P. Roman, Mommy & Me Journals (Complete Year) from In All You Do, and a Personalized Name Meaning Gifts & Amazing Name Cartoon from CrossTimber.

Want to enter to win? Simply enter by following as many sponsors on the form below, and you’re in it to win it! You are responsible for reading the Terms and Conditions before entering. Entering this giveaway confirms that you have read and understand the terms.


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