Monday, January 20, 2014

The Whos, Wheres and Whys- Week 3 VCF

Are you getting the curriculum itch yet?  I am! Usually it does not hit me until March or April when I can start seeing the light at the end of the year's lesson plans but with the last few weeks of this Virtual Curriculum Fair it has begun early for me.  Last week's topic of Math and Sciences added a few more "new to me" items on my ever growing wish list.  If you missed last week, I would encourage you to jump over and check out all the posts.  25 ladies joined in last week and there are some fun ideas out there, no matter what type of homeschooler you are.

This week's subject-
History, Geography, Worldview

Let's start with History!
I am going to be honest here, history was not my favorite subject in school.   I was public schooled and quite frankly all I remember of importance was you better know these dates for your test kind of stuff.  That, and the fact that I am pretty positive we studied Christopher Columbus EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR.  Seriously.  Not much fun and certainly not very inspiring.  I am happy to say that things look a little different in our house these days!  And thank goodness, because I have a 6th grade son who loves history, as did his college sister.

So what do we use?  For Kindergarten I like reading the first few levels of Abeka History books. They are on the simple side, but fun and easy reading for young kids.  In 1st grade we jump into The Mystery Of History.  I love these books.  They are Christian based and do a good job of showing the great biblical events hand in hand with more "worldly" events.  As a youth I am pretty sure I grew up believing there was a "Bible Time" and then there was a "Real World" time but none of those things went hand in hand.  I am so glad my kids are growing up knowing that while something was going on in Jerusalem there were other things happening in other parts of the world as well.  Makes for a less confused adult, for sure! ;)  There are three volumes of this book and we are eagerly waiting the 4th edition.  Each chapter is fairly short but followed with ideas for all sorts of activities from crafts to additional writing assignments.  We tend to just read and do a few easy assignments the first year and then add notebooking in the next years when my kids are old enough to work a little more on their own with writing.

After those books we move on to Sonlight History.  While it is not the perfect fit for us, I do like that the kids get to read fiction that is tied into the time period they are studying in addition to the living "textbooks" assigned.  If your child is not a strong reader however, you may find them frustrated with the sheer number of books assigned and have to cut back a little.

New to us this year is  the Notgrass Company.  We had the privilege of reviewing the America the Beautiful history set and fell in love with it.  After my son finished the 6 week review period he asked if we could continue on with it so we have.  It is more of an old fashion school textbook with optional map and activitiy books and even includes a book of original documents.  Each lesson ends with the assigned pages for those books as well as optional Bible and Writing assignments, so you really could stretch it to cover language arts and Bible if you so choose.  We look forward to using their Uncle Sam and You book next year for 7th grade.  If it goes well, we may switch over to their high school curriculum as well- we hear people rave about it and by completing a year your child can get credit for Bible, history and English!

Ok, so what about Geography.  There is a lot out there to choose from and quite honestly I think they are all probably sufficient.  Prices range from inexpensive little workbooks to full out mapping the countries type of stuff, so I say just find your comfort price level and what looks like fun and go for it.  In the past we have used the Maps, Globes and Graphs series and been happy with them.  If you want your children, particularly younger ones, to be able to do well on that part of standardized testing these will work for you and are inexpensive.  For slightly older children we reviewed Memoria Press Georgraphy- The Middle East, Africa and Europe book and really liked it.  My son loved that it was not just about a map but also has a two page spread on each country with interesting facts and locations talked about.  (remember- History boy here!)  They also have a United States series which we will work through by the end of this year as review.

And last but not least- Worldview!  For our family this is Bible.  While we read the Bible nightly together during our devotion time and the kids have their own personal reading time, we also feel strongly that they need to do some "just the facts" learning about the Bible and how our belief in it affects our daily life and especially our worldview.  We have used lots of programs but I want to tell you about the best two I have found.
For younger kiddos I would start with The Bible Study Guide for All Ages.  Again, we got this as a review and have continued to use it on a daily basis, ordering more worksheets as we have needed them.  Right now, my 1st grader and I start every school day with this short little study.  With a few fun activities, a little coloring, flash cards, and reading from the Bible it is a perfect way to start our day together.  While it does review "the Facts" it also addresses the child's heart and motives which we enjoy discussing together.  I am looking forward to going through the Bible with this program for several years!

For older kids, I highly recommend Apologia's What We Believe Series.  This is not a "stories of the Bible" type of curriculum, but rather explores your faith and how it forms your worldview.  After reviewing the second book for a month, we went back and purchased the first in the series to study.  I own the first three now and hope to get the fourth and last in the series soon.  Each book has a corresponding notebook you can purchase that has a lesson plan in it for ease of use.  I recommend using it!

OK, stopping for now.  There is so much more out there I could ramble on about, but I do not want to overwhelm you all at once.  Got questions- feel free to leave me a note and I will get back to you with any answers or ideas I may have.  In the meantime, don't forget to read all the other posts my blogging friends have written this week just for you!


Exploring Our World with Social Studies and Science:  (note links will all be LIVE by noon on 1/20)
A Classical Approach to Ancient World History for All Ages by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
Supercharged Science's eScience Program by Kristi K. @ The Potter’s Hand Academy
Social Studies & Science Resource Lists by Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses
History and Science: Learning About the World Around Us by Leah@As We Walk Along the Road
Designing a Unit Study for History, Geography, or Science by Amy @ Eclectic Homeschooling</ p>
Virtual Curriculum Fair:  Social Studies by Joelle @ Homeschool for His Glory
Uncle Sam & You- Notgrass by Lynn @ Ladybug Chronicles
My Favorite History Books for Boys by Monique @ Living Life and Learning
Social Studies in Our Homeschool by Laura @ Day by Day in Our World
A Peek into our Homeschool: The Sciences by Brittney @ Mom's Heart
Our Curriculum Choices 2014 ~ History & Science by Renata @ Sunnyside Farm Fun
We're having a Social Studies-heavy Year by Debra @ Footprints in the Butter
Our Journey Around the World by Laura @ Four Little Penguins
My Favourite Social Studies Curriculum by Kim @ Homestead Acres
RaisingMap Nuts: Learning Geography Naturally by Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset
The Whos, Wheres and Whys by Michele P @Family, Faith and Fridays
Exploring Our World: Social Studies and Science in our Classical Homeschool by Sharra @ The Homeschool Marm
Time Travel Throughout the World {or History and Geography in Our Homeschool} by HillaryM @ Our Homeschool Studio
Virtual Curriculum Fair Week 3: Exploring Our World – Social Studies and More Science</ a> by Stacie @ Super Mommy To The Rescue
Why We're Ditching Story of the World by Tauna @ Proverbial Homemaker


  1. I think I will look into the Abeka Book you mentioned as I am looking at something for my daughter to do for History.

    1. Stacie, they covered simple stuff like community helpers and us history, but are fun read alouds to use to hit high spots until a more formal study.

  2. what a great post. We love Notgrass. My oldest son did the America study last yr for 8th grade and learned so much. The high school level is awesome too. My daughter did the US History as well as the government/economics.

  3. I haven't heard of Maps, Globes and Graphs before, but my son is particularly interested in that area right now. I will have to look into those books!

    1. I think they are a good place to start to cover the basics- especially fo rkids you will be testing!

  4. We have used Maps, Globes, and Graphs in the past, too. It gets the job done. Another good resource for physical geography for young kids is Home Geography by CC Long (you can view if for free online)

    1. Thanks forthe link, Susan. I will look this up! And thanks for being themastermind of this VCF!


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