Apr 142014

As I look back over David’s homeschool career, history has often been a struggle. We started off well, with lots of hands-on projects and notebook pages. He began to use the computer for making notebook pages at a young age (about 2nd grade). We had one year in a co-op for Tapestry of Grace and in hindsight that was a good year. At the time I was often frustrated with the group setting.

Starting in David’s 6th grade year things really started to go downhill in the history department. We focused on reading real books, but we often rushed. I tried to keep all the children together in their history assignments. I was frazzled. Most of the hands-on projects disappeared from our home. Basically the only thing that we managed to slog through was the reading.

With high school coming, I knew that something had to change, so I went in a completely new direction for David. I went with the Textbook – Get It Done Approach for World History. And honestly, there were some things that worked really well with it. The program we used was broken down into daily readings so it was very simple to use. It included comprehension questions, quizzes, and tests. And we made it through.  It did nothing to ignite a love of history though.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. I received a free download of Part 1 in order to write this review. I was not compensated for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.

Next year is American History. I was going to have David use the Textbook – Get It Done Approach again. That is  until I had an opportunity to review Dave Raymond’s American History Curriculum from Compass Classroom.

American HistoryI am excited to give this curriculum a try. It has some of the features that have worked well for David.

  • Well structured and divided into daily lessons
  • Includes quizzes and tests

But there are some major differences that I am excited about.

Video format -

The daily lessons include a relatively short video (about 10 minutes) with Dave Raymond teaching. I think this format will work well for David. He tends to lose focus with lots of reading. I like that Dave Raymond stresses taking notes. That is a skill that David needs to develop before going to college and this will be good practice.

Accompanying readings -

The readings are mostly primary source documents that go along with the lecture. They are typically not lengthy. One thing I love about both the student and teacher guide is that the download includes  a pdf version, a Kindle version, and an epub version! So David can read from the Kindle, but I can print things as necessary from the pdf version on my computer. Super idea!

Portfolio and other projects -

This is what I find the most exciting about this curriculum. I feel like we’re coming full circle back to our early days of studying history. (Ones that David actually enjoyed!) Along with the lectures and the reading, the student completes a portfolio of their work. (Similar to the notebook pages we used to do.)It’s described as a scrapbook type of book, but I think we will likely modify it for David and have him create his in electronic form. There are also several other assignments – some of which include a research paper, delivering an historical speech, and the final project called the Hour Project. The options on the Hour Project are limitless, but knowing my son, the project will likely culminate with a video production.

The curriculum is available in 2 parts with each part containing 13 lessons. It’s available as a download (current price $65/each part) or on DVD (current price $120/set). You can also download 5 lessons free! To make this a full high school credit, it is necessary to complete the extra projects, however, the curriculum is suitable for upper middle school as well.

By Kristen H.
Apr 052014

I can’t believe it, but next year 2 of my students will be in high school! I must say that overall high school has not been as scary and hard as I thought it would be, but it has been a big change in our day to day schedule with the addition of outside classes.

David will be a junior next year and that’s the year to really ramp up the college planning.

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been busy lining up the classes that David and Anna will be taking both inside and outside the home next year.

*Disclosure – This post contains affiliate links.

Curriculum Choices-00211th grade plan

The current plan is for David to take Spanish 1 with a small group in someone’s home.

He will hopefully be taking an American Literature class with our local homeschool enrichment group.

High School American HistoryComplementing American Literature is American History. We are planning on using the American History course from Compass Classroom. (Read my review)

We’re brining him home for math again and will be using both Thinkwell and Life of Fred for Calculus. We purchased Thinkwell through the Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op. They run periodic group buys for Thinkwell classes.

He’ll be taking Physics using Apologia. Right now the plan is to do that at home, but if we suddenly come into extra money, we could sign him up for an outside class for that as well. But that’s not likely.

Curriculum Choices-0019th grade plan

My daughter Anna will be in the 9th grade next year!

We are planning on her taking Apologia Biology with our homeschool enrichment group.

Notgrass World History High SchoolWorld History will probably be Notgrass.

Literature will be a combination of the Notgrass readings and Excellence in Literature. I’m also strongly considering The Elegant Essay from IEW.

For math, she will be finishing Jacob’s Geometry at the first of the year, then moving on to Algebra 2. (I have Foerster’s for her to use. I’ve never used it before, so we’ll have to see how that works. David used Life of Fred, but Anna doesn’t think that would be very effective for her.)

We also are planning on her taking an on-line Latin 3 class from Memoria Press. The text is Henle 2nd year.


Hopefully we will be taking a reasonably long summer break. However, there are a few things that definitely need to be finished.

David has to finish his chemistry course. Our journey through chemistry is a subject for another day. Lucky kid. Since he’s the oldest, I get to experiment on him.

Fourth Form LatinAnna has to finish Fourth Form Latin before she starts Latin 3 in the fall.


I have to get David’s transcript updated. To do that, I need to write some course titles and descriptions for his electives. I also need to get the big picture mapped out for Anna.



This post is linked to the Let’s Homeschool High School Blog Hop and Finishing Strong.
LetsHSHS.com High School Homeschool Blog HopHomeschooling the Middle & High School Years



By Kristen H.
Apr 012014

Our friends at Compass Classroom asked us to help put together a contest for Dwane’s new mystery video series.  Apparently after finishing Visual Latin, the producer said he had to teach a bunch of new classes – more than he could do in one year.  So he’s in a dilemma and needs your help. Watch this video for a special message about what you can do to assist him.

Visit Hip Homeschool Moms to vote! By voting you’ll automatically be entered to win one of three Amazon Gift Cards. To get more entries, share with your friends and on Facebook (as well as a lot of other things).

By Kristen H.
Mar 142014

Do you have teens or preteens that use computers, smart phones, or tablets? If you have children that age, then the answer is probably yes.

Coming this June is a new website to help parents be aware of on-line dangers. iParent.TV will help you stay up-to-date on all the latest apps that your kids are using.


The giveaway is over.


Disclosure: I am receiving a free 1-year membership to iParent.TV in exchange for sponsoring this giveaway. 

By Kristen H.
Mar 062014

Despite the fact that I get a lot done, I do not consider myself a high energy person.

So I wasn’t really concerned with how tired I have been. At least not at first.

I homeschool 5 children, work part-time from home, do the housekeeping, cooking, laundry, etc. It’s a lot of work. Being tired at the end of the day is a sign that it’s been productive.

The problem is being tired all day long.

I noticed that I wasn’t feeling refreshed when I got up in the morning, even after a relatively good night’s sleep. I am not a night owl. I’ve been going to bed at 10 or 10:30 most nights.

Another thing that I’ve noticed over the last 9 months or more is that I’ve had periods of depression. They seemed to be somewhat cyclical, so I figured it must be hormonal.

But I didn’t do anything about it. I tried to make sure I wasn’t doing “too much”. Get rest. Tried to exercise some, but I was so tired, that didn’t happen much.

I have yearly visits to a dermatologist for a skin check and while I was there I mentioned that I’d had a lot of hair loss. She thought it would be good idea to run some blood tests.

It turned out that I have both a Vitamin D deficiency and Iron-Deficient Anemia!

No wonder I’ve been tired.

I should mention that I have never had anemia before. I’m not sure about the Vitamin D deficiency, but I suspect that it’s due to some dietary changes that I’ve made. In my efforts to eat more whole foods, I’ve cut out some processed things that were enriched with a lot of vitamins. (Carnation Instant Breakfast was my daily breakfast for approximately 20 years, I’m embarrassed to admit.)

I’m not going back to the processed foods. I’m taking Vitamin D and iron supplements for a while to increase my levels. I’ll be adding more foods that contain iron to my diet.

After less than a week on the Vitamin D, (I’ve just started the iron) I am already feeling a little better! It’s very likely that the Vitamin D deficiency was the cause of my more severe periodic depression. That’s my working hypothesis at least. We’ll see.

I know this sounds weird, but I was happy to find out there really was something wrong with me. (Especially since it was so simple.) I was afraid that it was just how things were going to be. And that was depressing.

By Kristen H.
Feb 202014
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