2017-18 school plans

The days are starting to get cooler and wet. That means fall up here in Alaska isn’t too far away. Time to plan and order school stuff!
To hopefully avoid the long delays we’ve had in the past from Sonlight, I decided to do something different. I ordered the reading books through Amazon, and only got the 2 guides directly from Sonlight. Unfortunately, Amazon broke the invoice into 25 different orders! Ugh. Oh well, there’s a lot of books. I was able to get decent free shipping on about half the items. Plus, since they were mostly used books, it was a lot cheaper than buying from Sonlight. I had to make a spreadsheet to put the books into the correct courses again from the different sellers to figure out total costs. The disadvantage is we won’t have a nice, study box for it all, but that’s not worth the extra cost.
Both kids want to continue FXC skiing. Richard’s coach convinced him to join the high school XC running team to get ready for ski season. Practice starts this afternoon and is 2 hours every day. There are 2 groups of people in FXC: skiers and runners. The skiers run to stay in shape for skiing. The runners ski to stay in shape for running. Yet, it’s the same big group of kids in both. Just different attitudes. Richard says he’s a skier. Hopefully this will help, since he didn’t make the top level summer training team like he was hoping.
They are both still finishing last school year’s work. They took too many days off between me and Richard being gone when my dad died, and Ray’s business trip when I had to run things here by myself. So, they used up their summer. We plan to start the next school year September 1. If they finish before then, they get that time off until we start again.
RICHARD, officially a sophomore:
US Gov’t/Econ: $143.10 & 23.49 ship, 29.69 guide  Total spent $196.28.  The Sonlight package price was $507! The Econ was supposed to have a Thinkwell internet course. I did not order that. I’d like to try to find it cheaper. Sonlight was $150. Even if we get it from them, we’ll still have saved $150.
Amer Lit: $134.54 & 43.67 ship, 25.19 guide Total spent $203.40. The Sonlight package price was $387.66! Again, well over $150 in savings.
Math: I found a kit that includes Saxon textbook, answer key, tests, and video explanation of lessons for $117. It’s algebra 2. That’s getting beyond what I can help him with, which is why I think the video will be a good resource. $7 shipping, plus lower cost than the store in Anchorage we got his math from last year!
KAREN, 8th grade:
I ordered math, US history, reading, and Language Arts from Christian Light for $167.30 plus $15 shipping. Total spent $182.36.
Science: Apologia General Science we already have.
Time to get the kids up. I couldn’t sleep, so took care of this. May need a nap this afternoon. We’ll see.

Curriculum delays

Ugh. After waiting 6 weeks for our homeschool order to arrive, I finally was able to get in touch with our district’s homeschool coordinator and find out what was going on. Apparently they had some confusion about what items they could and could not order so they didn’t order anything, nor did they notify me about the problem 😦

Anyway, we decided it would be best if I would place the Sonlight order myself then sort  out reimbursement with the district after items arrived so our school year won’t be delayed any longer (we actually started last Monday, planning for these items to be here by now). So I  submitted the order today. Unfortunately, that meant paying $150 for 2-day Fed Ex shipping since we’re in Alaska. Oh well, at least I know we’ll have all the items soon.

The Rainbow Resource order did finally go through this morning. I recently found out that the chemistry textbook is available as an e-book, but only for I-pads. I’m hoping to find someone to lend me one until the regular textbook arrives so he can begin science sooner.

EDIT: After searching more, I found a pdf of the entire chemistry book. My son needs to download it and make sure it will run on his computer. If it does, that will save hauling around another heavy textbook this year.

Sneaking math

All of my daughter’s school books have arrived. Not all my son’s have arrived, but his math and carpentry have. The high school items from Sonlight haven’t come in yet. (They were very slow arriving last time we ordered from them too. So keep in mind if you plan on using anything from Sonlight to order early as possible.) We still plan to start school on Monday, August 1 and will just catch up on the late subjects as they arrive.

However, the kids’ have both been literally begging to start their math. This is surprising considering how much my son struggled last year and my daughter usually does not like to do it. Night before last I saw my son’s bedroom light still on late so I went to see what he was up to. I was expecting him to be reading or perhaps drawing. Nope! He was doing the second lesson of his geometry at nearly 11pm LOL

When I told him to quit and get to bed, he begged to finish. He says he likes the Saxon math better than the other programs we have used. Hopefully that means less trouble this year with math. However, I knew he needed sleep more than geometry so I praised his enthusiasm for what he had done but told him to finish it at a more appropriate time.



2016-17 curriculum plans

Sorry, it’s been too long since I last wrote. Already it’s July and we hope to start our new school year next month. Last week was rainy so I took the time to do much over due organizing of old school work and finalize our curriculum plans for the upcoming school year.


  • MATH: Saxon geometry
  • SCIENCE: Holt Modern Chemistry (AP?)
  • HISTORY/BIBLE: Sonlight 320-20th Century World history
  • LITERATURE/ENGLISH: Sonlight 230-Classical Literature
  • PE: FXC Prep running & ski team


  • MATH: CLE math 700
  • READING: CLE reading 700
  • SPANISH: Speedy Spanish (CLE)
  • HISTORY: CLE Social Studies 700 (world history)
  • PE: FXC Jr. Devo running & ski team

Richard will officially be in high school. I say officially because he has been working a year ahead so already did one year of high school level work. The good thing is that we have an extra year to play with so we can explore more things he is interested in before college.

Richard’s science homework, tests, and quizzes are online this year. We found a great deal on a used computer. It’s a 2013 Alienware laptop that he’s been wanting. Our friend picked it up for us and set it up for him. Then we surprised him with it Thursday as a welcome to high school present. Needless to say, he loves it.

We decided to move away from Christian Light Education for Richard this year. While we’ve had good success with most of Christian Light Education’s courses, many of the high school ones are not the updated Sonrise editions yet and so do not fit his learning style very well. He will switch to Sonlight for history, bible, literature, and English this year after he struggled last year.  Plus, he now knows his facts well so more drill won’t be useful. Instead, I’m hoping Sonlight’s literature based programs will give him more of a chance to apply what he’s already learned. Plus, Sonlight uses real novels rather than an anthology textbook for literature study. Sonlight is a LOT more expensive but I’m hoping it will spark his love of learning again. He’s also using Saxon math instead.

If Sonlight works out, I hope to also do Literature 400-American Literature next year then Literature 600-British Literature the next along with their economics course. He probably will skip Literature 500-World Literature. This is mostly ancient classics and tragedies that don’t interest him. He’s really excited about the other 2 courses though.

One of the standards he needs to complete is reading a book and watching the movie version then comparing them. I would like to use Great Gatsby and do this over Christmas break as a family or perhaps Weeks 6-7 of history since that covers the 1920’s. I’d substitute it instead of All Quiet on the Western Front.

Karen is continuing with Christian Light Education again. However, considering how much Richard struggled with Bible 700 & 800, she’s not doing them. For us, the focus on using a concordance and other Bible reference books isn’t as important to know. Not sure what, if anything, she will do for Bible instead. She will be learning Spanish this year. When Richard was in 7th grade, we did a combined study with her that covered astronomy and geology so this was a empty year of science for her.

Both of them will continue with the FXC running & cross country skiing program. Richard moved up to the Prep level. Most of the others his age did Prep last year and will do Comp this year, but since he started skiing later and had a lower overall fitness level it was decided he should do Jr Devo last year then Prep this year and finally Comp next year. Karen will remain in the Jr Devo level for another year.

Monday I ordered everything, so we are now eagerly awaiting Box Day when the orders arrive.


Homeschool order savings

I finally found the purchase order forms I need to order school materials thorough my homeschool program. Originally I planned to order from 4 companies. However, when I got to comparing prices, it turned out I could get many of the items I needed 10 to 30 percent cheaper on Rainbow Resource. That meant I didn’t have an order with Sonlight this year and the Veritas Press and Winter Promise orders were much smaller than originally planned. I didn’t figure it exactly, but I think I saved about $20. Even though I’m not directly paying for these items, it’s always nice to save money so I can buy other things later. So here’s how it turned out. Mostly this is so I can re-do the orders if they get lost. The abbreviation in parenthesis is the content standards the item will be used for.

Winter Promise Publishing ($15 & $12 shipping)

QMA-604 Medieval Activity Pack $15 (SS 7.7, 7.8)

Veritas Press ($81.71 & $8.23 shipping)

490750 Pompeii Buried Alive $3.99 (RE 4.16, SC 5.20)

190090 Great Physicists $6.73 (RE 6)

280630 Michael Faraday $10.99 (RE 6)

000751 Call of the Wild/White Fang Comp Guide $12 (RE 6)

000740 Fahrenheit 451 Comp Guide $12 (RE 6)

000733 Adv of Tom Sawyer Comp Guide $12 (RE 4, WR 3.6)

000766 Robin Hood Lit Guide $12 (RE 4, WR 3.6)

000745 Fairy Tales Comp Guide $12 (RE 4, WR 3.6)

Rainbow Resource ($165 & $16.50 shipping)

010085 Geology Rocks $9.75 (SC 3.14 & 5.16)

033417 Volcanoes & Earthquakes $11.50 (SC 5.22, 5.16)

023838 Science Detectives $7.50 (SC 5A, RE 6)

040531 Great Ancient Egypt Projects $11.95 (SS 7.7)

017774 Our Planet Earth $19.75 (SC 5.16 & 3.12)

048004 Our Planet Earth Teacher Supplement $7.95 (SC 5.16)

017808 Our Universe $19.75 (SC 5.17 & 3.15)

048005 Our Universe Teacher Supplement $7.95 (SC 5c, 5D)

017457 Heaven & Earth Student Supplement (SC5 c &5D, RE6.9)

046013 The Fallacy Detective $17.50 (RE 6.13 & 6.19)

041452 Cool Stuff and How It Works $14.50 (SC 5, RE 6)

005262 Magic School Bus Lost in Solar System $5.25 (RE 4.16, SC 3.15)

009891 Lit/Sci Guide Magic School Bus Lost in Solar System $7.95 (WR 3.6, SC 3C)

016218 Magic School Bus Inside Earth $5.25 (RE 4.16, SC 3.12)

009888 Lit/Sci Guide Magic School Bus Inside Earth $7.95 (WR 3.6, SC 3C)

013669 Planet Earth $4.25 (SC 5.15

Plan for 2013-14 school year

It’s that time again. Time to think about and plan curriculum for next school year. We have the added complication this year of going on vacation from mid-August to mid-September. That means we need to order at least the items we will use at the start of the school year in time to have them by July so we aren’t a month behind when we get back.

So here’s what I’ve come up with. I will be ordering from several different companies again including Sonlight, Veritas Press, Christian Light Education, Winter Promise, and Rainbow Resource. For science I want to finish up the physics programs from last year then move on to geology and astronomy. They will continue with Christian Light Education for Bible, Reading, and Language Arts. Richard needs some basic geometry so I will take a break from Math-U-See and do Math 700 from Christian Light instead. That means both of them will be using CLE for math. Richard will be using a few of the programs from Institute for Excellence in Writing.

SCIENCE will be the same for both of them this year. Start off with physics finishing Exploration Education from last year. Geology and astronomy will be 2 textbooks and several fun add-ons.

(God’s Design for) Our Planet Earth: Rainbow Resource: $19.95 textbook, $8 guide

(God’s Design for) Our Universe: Rainbow Resource: $19.75 textbook, $8 guide

Heaven & Earth worksheets: Rainbow Resource: $8

Pompeii Buried Alive: Veritas Press (3rd grade), $4

Cool Stuff 2.0: Sonlight science G, $25

Bell & Science of Telescopes: Sonlight science E, $9

Planet Earth: Sonlight science C, $5

Magic School Bus Inside Earth: Sonlight science C, $7

Magic School Bus Solar System: Sonlight science C, $7

Geology Rocks: Winter Promise, $13

Volcanoes & Earthquakes: Winter Promise, $16

R: 7th grade

MATH- Math 700: Christian Light Education: $3.35×10 workbooks, $6.70×2 answers

LANGUAGE ARTS- LA 700: Christian Light Education: $3.35×10 workbooks, $7 guidebook, $3.35×2 answers, But Not Forsaken (novel) $9

READING- Reading 700: Christian Light Education: The Road Less Traveled (reader) $10.50, $2.75×5 workbooks, $2.75×2 answers

HISTORY- God’s World His Story: Christian Light Education: textbook $25, $2.75×10 workbooks, $2.75×5 answers, Illuminated Lettering: Winter Promise $18, Ancient Egypt Projects: Winter Promise $15, Medieval Game Pack: Winter Promise $15

BIBLE- Bible 700: Christian Light Education: $3.35×10 workbooks, $3.35×2 answers

LITERATURE- Great Physicists from Galileo to Einstein $6 Veritas Press (grade 7), Science Detectives $9 Veritas Press (grade 7), Michael Faraday Father of Electronics $11 Veritas Press (grade 7), Call of the Wild/White Fang Guide $12 Veritas Press (grade 7), Fahrenheit 451 Guide $12 Veritas Press (grade 6)

CRITICAL THINKING- The Fallacy Detective: $22, Veritas Press (grade 7)

WRITING- “Teaching the Classics” and “Fix It! Grammer and Editing made easy with the Classics”: Institute for Excellence in Writing. I have the workbooks but need to figure out how to order just the DVD’s.

K Grade 4

MATH- Math 400: Christian Light Education: $3.35×10 workbooks, $6.70×2 answers

LANGUAGE ARTS- LA 400: Christian Light Education: $3.35×10 workbooks

READING- Reading 400: Christian Light Education: Beyond Bridges (reader), $2.75×5 workbooks

HISTORY- American Story 2: Winter Promise

BIBLE- Bible 400: Christian Light Education: $3.35×10 workbooks

LITERATURE- Tom Sawyer Guide $12 Veritas Press (grade 4), Robin Hood Guide $12 Veritas Press (grade 4), Brothers Grim Fairy Tales Guide $12 Veritas Press (grade 3)

Curriculum recomendations

I’ve included websites for these companies below.

SCIENCE: Apologia science is good for high school. They offer several different subjects like biology, general science, and chemistry. I’ve also used science books in the God’s Design series. You can get both online from Rainbow Resource.

If you want to do physics, Exploration Education is fun. They do a lesson the computer then a hands-on activity and answer a few questions. There are 3 levels, but level 2 and 3 are similar but with more in-depth questions for level 3. This year my son is doing a science program from Sonlight (Core F science) focusing on anatomy and nutrition.

WRITING: For writing, the Institute for Excellence in Writing is very good. They offer many different programs for several different levels from elementary through high school.

For handwriting, Christian Light Education offers supplementary workbooks that are good (I Can Write Manuscript and I Can Write Cursive) that can be used independently. They take students from the basic stroke formation to writing letters, sentences, and finally short paragraphs or poems. We like them much better than the Abeka writing workbooks.

MATH: Math-U-See is good for hands-on learners. Each workbook has 30 lessons. Each lesson has 3 practice pages and 3 mixed review. You do as many pages as needed. The books are topical (single digit add/subtract, multi digit add/subtract, multiplication, division, fractions, decimals, etc) rather than spiral. They go up through high school calculus. There is a video the student watches before doing the lesson. There is a manipulative system for all books to help understanding. They use the same system for all books, so they don’t have to keep switching once they are used to it. There is a test book with lesson tests and unit tests as needed. Some people find it useful to do a page a day. My son does math only 2-3 times/week and is doing great.

My daughter does math using Christian Light Education. It is a spiral approach so you cover a broader range of topics in each year, but not as in depth. There are 10 workbooks per grade. Each lesson has an explanation at the start, then practice and mixed review. It is designed to do a lesson each day. There are also daily timed drills. Each workbook has 2 quizzes and a unit exam. Christian Light Education also offers a full range of other subjects for all grades.

READING: A good list of age appropriate literature books for each grade can be found on Ambleside Online. It’s a good resource but can be adjusted as needed. We also use Christian Light Education for reading. There are readers and workbook questions to improve reading skills and comprehension. The stories are old fashioned, but keep my kids interest.

HISTORY: For history, I use programs from WinterPromise. They are rather expensive, but include lots of quality literature and activities instead of textbooks and workbooks.


Plans for 2012-2013 school year

Where has the school year gone? Between Richard being sick and our vacation this spring, we have fallen rather behind. That means we will be doing summer school to finish up. If everything goes well, we will be living on our boat which means fewer distractions demanding our attention. Hopefully that will allow us the time needed to get everything done.

Even if we don’t quite manage to finish up, I still need to decide what they will be doing for next year. They will be in 3rd and 6th grade. Hard to believe Richard will be half done with school.

They will continue with Christian Light Education for reading, language arts, and Bible. Karen will probably also use them for math since she is doing better since I switched her into it. Richard will do Math-U-See level Zeta which covers decimals and percents. I always struggled with that so it will be good for me to review it with him.

They will be doing health for science. As part of that, we need to do a physical fitness test. Karen will use Health, Safety, & Manners 3 from Abeka which is a basic introduction to good health. Richard enjoyed going through it and I think she will too. This is only one semester so I’m not sure what else to do the rest of the year.

I will order Science F from Sonlight which covers health, medicine, and human anatomy for Richard. He’s already done the Abeka Health 3, so this will cover many of those topics in more detail as well as others. I can’t decide if I want to get the 4 or 5 day package. The 5 day has four more books than the 4 day. I just don’t want to get overwhelmed. On the other hand, those 4 books seem like things he is interested in like DNA and fossils. I’ve given up trying to do my own unit studies or cobble together related books. I’m just not organized enough to get through a full year like that.

I just added it all up. Richard’s will be $335 or $375 depending which science package we get (4 or 5 day). His is more expensive because of the Sonlight science. Karen’s will be less because we can use Richard’s old reader and teacher guides. It will be $145. That’s a total of about $500 for both of them.

Mid year homeschool update

I haven’t written much about the kids school this year. Our business has been hectic and so the kids schoolwork has fallen into a dull rut. We’ve managed to stay on track with things that have a workbook or can be done fairly independently (math, language arts, reading, science assignments and readings). However, things like science projects, history, and art haven’t really happened. As a result, my husband is a little panicked about getting it all finished up. He tends to do this every spring, but this year more than others since we are going on a month long trip in mid-April. We will take some school work with us, but not as much as we’d do at home.

So between now and when we leave, I’m trying to balance it all out. History and writing are now several times a week. Workbooks are less important because they are easier to take with us. Karen is studying Pilgrims and colonial America. Richard is up to WW2. Somehow I have to get her up to the civil war and him to the end of 20th century. This is the last of American Story 2 which we were supposed to finish last year. Right now he’s reading Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. I was going to do some writing tonight, but decided to let him read more instead.

I’ve been doing some thinking and planning for next year (6th and 3rd grades). Here’s what I’ve come up with:

I’m not sure about social studies for Richard. Both of them will study health. Richard will just go into more depth. They will both continue in their current math, language arts, and reading programs. They are doing fairly well with science packages. I was probably going to do one of Sonlight’s core science kits (F?) for him next year.



Math: Math-U-See

Language Arts: Christian Light

Reading: Christian Light, literature

Science: Sonlight science 5/6 (health, first aid)



Math: Christian Light Math 300

Language Arts: Christian Light

Reading: Christian Light, literature

Science: Abeka health 3 (health, first aid) 1 semester

Handwititing: Christian Light cursive practice

History: American Story 2


Thinking ahead

I am thinking ahead again. While I am ordering for this year, I am starting to think about next year. This helps me keep an eye out for interesting things of the topics I think we may want to study. One thing I’d prefer to do is have both kids studying similar things for social studies and science.

They may be on different levels, but if the topics are similar, it makes it easier for me. In fact, this is how the district is set up. Each level delves deeper into the science content areas. So while the content areas stay the same, the student is learning new things each level. This works great because instead of bouncing around and learning a little geology, biology, physics, and chemistry each grade, I can concentrate on one for a year and get several levels of that content area finished then switch to another. My children enjoy the more in depth study as well. They are understanding more specifics rather than just a general understanding. It’s a mastery approach rather than the spiral approach general used in elementary school.

The drawback is finding quality materials instead of general textbooks or small, disjointed unit studies. Luckily WinterPromise and Sonlight seem to share this approach to teaching science. While filling out forms and browsing websites for this year’s items, I discovered WinterPromise has redesigned their geology program. It now has several items I was interested in. The target grades are 3-6 so Karen will be a little young using it in 2nd grade. However, most of their science programs are on the light side so I think it will be fine for both of them.

Then I’d like to revisit biology for their 3rd and 6th grades respectively. The Sonlight Science 3 has some good books.

For 4th and 7th grades we’ll do chemistry.

Then Richard will be ready for Apologia science texts while Karen does the more advanced parts that he already did. I’ve heard mostly good about them. From the review on homeschoolreview.com the general science text has been successfully used starting as early as 6th grade so I may do it then with Richard considering how gifted he is in science. They are available from Sonlight and Christian Light Education. Sonlight is on the approved vendor list for our allotment so I’ll likely order from them if we end up using it.

I may put together an Alaska study using books such as Julie of the Wolves, White Fang, The Call of the Wild, To Build a Fire, and Robert Service poetry (such as the Cremation of Sam McGee. Add some history books such as the journals of Judge Wickersham, native stories such as The Roots of Ticasuk, early Fairbanks such as The Way it Was; along with Alaskan geography such as building the Alcan Highway in The Trail of ’42, stories of the great 1969 earthquake,;the Valdez oil spill, and biology (Wild Harmony, To the Arctic) for a cross-curricular theme for middle or high school. Or turn it into a wilderness adventure study by adding My Side of the Mountain and Where the Red Fern Grows (I still cry when I read that one).