Short Stories & a Journal -Reluctant High School

My son likes to read and absorb interesting material- science, lore, biographies of famous brilliant men (a serious interest here 😉 ) …. but literature? poetry? grammar? spelling? writing? uh!

This is my new approach for the year. I’m excited about it. I haven’t ‘tested’ it yet. We’ll see 😉

I have created a journal- journal entries that are full of thinking, opinion and that there are no right or wrong answers to, and I combined it with short stories. These often have a great twist or irony in them so I think he will enjoy them.

we operate on a 4 day schedule for flexibility.

So I scheduled a short story and discussion questions on Monday (day 1), and 3 journal questions.

I printed out the 15 short stories I planned for him to read, and discussion questions for each. I just googled ‘the most dangerous game full text’ and ‘the most dangerous game discussion questions’ I printed each (you can read here if you want to know why I print. If you have a kid that will read them online- go for it!! they are FREE!)

here are some examples:

Short Story & Discussion Questions: Ruthless by William De Mille

Describe the perfect place to live

Summarize a typical family Christmas

Summarize a recently watched movie

Short Story & Discussion Questions: The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin

What does Justice mean?

If I could make a law….

If I could get rid of a law….

short stories 2

Here are the Short Stories I selected:

The monkey’s Paw by WW Jacobs

Lamb to the Slaughter by Roald Dahl

All Summer in a Day by Ray Bradbury

Ruthless by William De Mille

The Chaser by John Collier

The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin

Eleven by Sandra Cisneros

Test by Theodore Thomas

Lob’s Girl by Joan Aiken

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

Raymond’s Run by Toni Cade Bambara

There will come Soft Rains by Ray Bradbury

The Schoolmistress by Anton Chekhov

The Veldt by Ray Bradbury

An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce

The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell

Here are the journal Entries/writing prompts I used. I scheduled this for 16 weeks (I tend to over schedule with an 18 week fall semester, so I decided not to overtax this one. many other lessons are 30 for the year so 16 seems perfectly reasonable for a semester study.)

short stories and journal with writing prompts

short stories 3

Good Luck. Please share with me your reluctant HS plans- especially reading and writing.

Architecture & Engineering and my experience with YouTube schooling

I have wanted more art history. As we work through Rome, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance I know I learned a great deal about architecture- you know in the old days- but where was that and how do I share it with my kids?

As they love studying sciences, inventors and explorers I wanted to approach this as part history, part art, part engineering and inventing. So that is what we did. We added it to the end of our read aloud/morning basket/history.

age? good question! I did this as a read-a-loud with my 8th grader and 5th grader. Some of the materials looked geared younger and we all LOVED them. Some were geared much much higher and we all struggled with the weight of the reading so we began supplementing with YouTube tours. It’s been amazing! We’ve enojoyed this so much that friends keep asking me to share…..the trouble is- I didn’t take notes. Maybe that is the key? or maybe I just don’t keep records enough to share- I’m not sure.

So, this is just an idea. How I handled. it. Some jumping off places I guess. Please take what you can- change to what suits you or use it as is- just explore.


k5 Architecture: It’s Elementary-FREE download * this served as an introduction. vocabulary. and art. I printed all levels: k-5. I liked some of the lessons and drawings but not any of them necessarily the way they were written. I printed them and then grouped them together (give or take):

  • houses people live in
  • features of houses
  • the lay of a city
  • a park or outdoor space
  • perspective drawing.

I sorted the papers the way I wanted, three hole punched them, paper clipped my  ‘groupings’ and put them in a binder. This worked for me, but I find as I go back to share them it is nearly impossible- for that I apologize. I titled them in our schedule with whatever was on the first page- not what the material was. It would’ve helped, I think, If I’d kept the paperclips in place too :\ We spent about 4 -6 weeks on this material.

Bridges: Amazing Structures to Design Build and Test– This may be my favorite book EVER!! This was sooo much fun and so informative. This looked and was geared toward my younger girls but the information was SO wonderful that I learned amazing (BIG!) things. I recommend it to anyone!

In between lessons I filled in with some books from my shelf, friends and the library. I will try to name them and we did enjoy them but none were shining examples I’d recommend (I can’t remember the titles- it’s like the library books you opened and enjoyed and then sent back. they were fine. I would encourage adding books like these- I just don’t know that I have a specific suggestion. sorry)  little like this:

cities then and now– we really enjoyed the pictures in here. The reading was heavier then we wanted. I’m not sure I would purchase it for the pix but I did really enjoy them- they are an overlay picture. The top clear sheet lets the current/modern picture behind show through where buildings are still there while the overlay has the ancient cityscape on it.

Buildings of the World

Stone and Steel

Bridges were Made to Cross

ONE more book I used first semester that I do recommend- but is EASILY adaptable to anything- I had picked up a big coffee table book of Manhattan. The book is predominately photography of the architecture of Manhattan- very artfully taken. Any city, any coffee table book…. We opened each day, oooh’d and ah’ed and drew some of the beautiful lines of the architecture as much as the lines of the photography. (we draw for memory. for exploring, for experiencing- the CM method right? not for beautiful finished drawings!)

we LOVED the book Bridges: Amazing Structures to Design Build and Test so much that we wanted to see more and added a couple of videos in the middle like these:


I began to learn the real value of YouTube in my homeschool!

SO, second semester we stepped it up and toured the world! 😉

We began the semester with this book:

annotated arch   The annotated Arch by Carol Strickland

While I was, and still am, very impressed with this book- both in information and in photos- it was heavier reading than we wanted in our read aloud study. SO- this is my spine. Every morning after history, we open this book. sometimes we read, but sometimes we just look up a building, an architect or a style and watch videos.

I did not keep a record to share 😦 but some stick out more than others, so I can give you some examples (and btw- I think you could google a timeline of architecture, or styles -I’d do a google image search- and find a spine that suits you too)

The Khan Academy videos, when they emerge, we’ve found very informative! and short.

and this


and then there are the ones I found quite impressive with information and I DID watch them with my girls but are a little shakier on content…I watch with them which I think is a HUGE factor.

This one was SO impressive. I really did enjoy it (below). I would caution two things: 1 camera shot, in my opinion, stays too long focused on a nude classical statue of a lady with bare breasts. These image are all over in these works and classical architecture but this one was too long (IMHO). The other is in the history of the building. It spent a minute or two discussing the fact that one room exceeded its intended use and was often used as a brothel for a time. again- history of the building. This video is filled with incredible pictures, amazing architectural and design feats of just one man and a rich history. (so many of the videos spend so much time on the connection to the Phantom of the Opera- FUN! but I wanted more than that story)

the architecture of Versailles (2-each below).

I confess. We watched another video on Versailles that I really enjoyed-but I would really caution you to view this for content. It is rich in the history of Louis the XIV, builder of Versailles, but is also full of the libertine life in the palace.  I did enjoy knowing the political history! It is an extraordinary lesson on how he usurped absolute power! So I’ll share it here, but not as easily accessible. It is a documentary, well done, just possibly too intriguing into the lifestyle and drama of the palace. ( There is little in this 0f the architecture- but so rich in history and life I thought I’d share- quietly I hope, so that you can be the judge. 😉

please share ideas you’ve used to learn architecture, art history or tour the world.

I hope this inspires you to explore rabbit trails and fun learning in your homeschool! (and to share them!)





Let the Lord Lead.

I panicked. High School? How do you keep track? How do I issue a diploma? How will I grade? WHAT IS A TRANSCRIPT?!?!?!

I went to homeschool seminars. I quizzed my friends. I read. It all helped! But I was panicked. Then I remembered the Lord called me to do this and He will equip me to continue.


Feel better? Here is the deal: Homeschool works because parents have their kids best interests in mind. always. They know their child’s strengths and weaknesses better than anyone else. God has always called on people that felt less than perfect for the job He knew they were perfect for. You can do this.

A friend once told me a story about her husband who’s job has moved them around the country. She told him ‘I will follow you to the ends of the Earth, but I’ll be praying the whole time that the Lord is leading us there.” and it struck me. This is what I want for my kids!

This I vow. I will help you and support your and guide you as best I can in the best direction we can manage ALWAYS praying that the Lord is leading you there.

My oldest is a terrible student. She doesn’t stay on task. Ever. And yet on her own task she is UNSTOPPABLE. She wanted to sing on a stage- at a State event, accomplish a difficult Extemporaneous Speech, be in a play, play in a national band… those things seemed impossible when she told me. This is the kid that can’t find her pencil to finish begin her math. But she did all of those things. (and not with my help.) Do you follow me? terrible student- and unstoppable. ** Some of us follow God easily I guess. Me? I like to do it kicking and screaming until I finally say ‘oh! that is what You wanted! me too!’ :/

This girl- she scored OK on the ACT. It was enough. not good- but enough. After what I’ve told you- Do you think the ACT tested her on her gifts?? I didn’t think so either. God has a plan for her. I stopped fighting Him and her and I support the things she loves- AND make sure she has a grasp on the basics- the core subjects one needs to know. I think that is OK. She chose community college and is doing very well…. and trying to begin a new club. whew. this kid.

I vow to support you on YOUR path. Always praying God is leading you there.

Aristotle (some credit Socrates- either way….;) ) said “Education is the kindling of a fire, not the filling a vessel”. That is powerful. Prepare them to love to learn- they can find a way to learn it. If you fill a vessel there will always be things that didn’t fit.

Einstein said “Imagination is more important that knowledge” teach them to find a way. develop a way. Ignite a passion, a curiosity to learn.

Okay none of that is easy BUT knowing that your job is shepherding your child and creating an environment of learning- not making sure you fill a vessel-well, it’s very freeing.

I try to pick things in their interest. I pick things that challenge their weaknesses. I remind them “I’m on your side. always and forever.” I try to find a way to cover all the basics. I try to challenge them. And I try to follow their lead. Only the Lord knows where we are going.

I’ve begun crafting and tailoring studies to each child. That is what this blog is all about. 1) a way to store and keep it and 2) to share and hopefully inspire other parents to create their own homeschool- tailor it to your home, child, future….

I’ll do my best to support them, inspire them, encourage them, challenge them and push them, praying the whole way for God to lead the way.




World Geography & a History of Cartography

A homeschool dad in our group once did a few history lessons. He used a chalk board. I attended and meticulously drew out the map he had on the board as I took notes. Then I watched in amazement as he erased the map, outlined some notes then erased and drew out the entire Holy Land map again. WOW! How do you learn that?

After that, this became a new homeschool goal. For the youngers- well, we begin early. I read most of our history aloud as a family. We discuss, watch movies and we journal I often have them draw out the region we are studying. My 10 year old’s map of Asia looks like a Volkswagen Bug but she can show you where China, India, Vietnam, Korea and Japan are. I’m OK with that 😉

We study a four year plan, but as my olders reached high school, they asked for their own material to study. This kid did Notgrass World History, followed by Notgrass U.S. History. As we headed into his Junior year, I wondered what else will we study? After all, we studied the 4 year cycle on repeat and always learned new things. There is always more history to learn. And we’ve enjoyed it. He enjoyed it. I like to stick to the core subjects. There is a reason they are core. So, what to study?? In truth I knew we could easily study more world history but I’d need to call it something else- he wasn’t going to ‘repeat’ and I didn’t want his transcript to appear that way either (who can study all of world history in one school year?!? 😉 )

I found this Ellen J McHenry’s Mapping the World with Art. We’ve used a number of her science books and really enjoyed them. THIS was how I wanted to attain the goal of being able to draw maps from memory- at least a rough idea, right?  The trouble was the name! My son does not enjoy art. This could definitely be an art course. But, as I’ve said, I wanted him to have general understanding of where everything is, not necessarily an accurate cartographer. So we settled on the book- loosely drawing it out and no DVDs.

Then I began to look for other books to fill in- If you haven’t followed DS’s studies before, He enjoys reading an digesting piles of interesting information. We discuss the orally and debate often. He loves logic and critical thinking but not busy work. So, we search for interesting reading to learn and digest more.

Now, what to call it? While I’ve not decided for certain yet, I’ve settled on World Geography and history of Cartography because I thought world geography was really only a semester course usually? I had more material I thought was valuable and really covered the span of map making and discovery. full year- 36 weeks. We study a 4 day week. I grade on content and diligence.

*I make no guarantees of content, grade level, benchmarks or anything else.

*There are no affiliate links. I do not own anything including this site. Links are provided for your convenience only.

Longitude by Dava Sobel

Benjamin Banniker by Weatherly Compass Point Books **he surveyed Washing D. C. so this seemed like a good time to study him 😉

Mapping the World with Art by Ellen J McHenry

Maphead by Ken Jennings (this has about 4 objectionable words/phrases/content stories, but as a high school junior I decided interest in learning and being able to navigate objectionable content were both in line with what we needed 😉 )

Where am I by A.G.Smith **truly this has the same content as Ellen J McHenry’s book, but it is presented differently. I sometimes enjoy covering these on repeat because we do not test on the information so this allows him to file it one more time. This stuff was interesting, and well presented int he book, so I assigned both.

Where on Earth am I? **this could be used for a truly incredible math supplement! It shows, for starters, how to use the equation used by Ancient Greece to calculate the diameter of the Earth! We just did the reading with the equations given as examples

Stories of American Discoverers for Little Americans by Rose Lucia this is a book I found at a local homeschool book sale and I really like it. My searches seem to indicate it is a free download. try here or here.

** Haha. It appears that when I wrote this schedule I was still undetermined whether I would make this a one semester or two. As we head into 3nd semester I’m grateful my attention has been drawn to this because I didn’t fully schedule the 2nd semester. I am adding it here and hoping to complete and come back and fix. The books are sort of mapped out- just divide the pages and this can be followed.  some days are more successful than others I suppose 😉

this is my slightly incomplete schedule 😉 world-geography-and-history-of-cartography-36-week-school-planner-single-subject-schedule




CIVICS! Justice, Constitution-Our 2nd Semester of U.S. Government

I’m still struggling with the name of this course as you can see.  We’ve had one year of U.S. Government– a good baseline. (no previous requirements for this course though!)  But I wanted a more in-depth study of the Constitution. In the end this turned out to be more of how the idea of America was so very different and why it is special. Also on the role of the justice system and the branches. I think I’ll call it Civics. 😉

I have designed this for DS. He seems to prefer to read and soak up information. He is best tested orally as he really enjoys a debate. I’ve tried to make sure he has the ability to write. He does. After that, I think the critical thinking of information AND willingness to learn is more important than how it is tested. He and I have a lot of debates and discussions. I enjoy that time with him almost as much as he enjoys the freedom to digest it and not be tested and quizzed on it. So, that is how we do it. I grade 80% on completion of the material and 20% on attitude, neatness, and diligence. I feel confident (or as confident as any of us are I think) that he is prepared for HIS path

*My homeschool philosophy is something like this:

I’ll do my best support, guide and prepare you for wherever you are going and praying the whole way that God is leading you there.

By fourteen or so my children- so far- have shown strengths and weaknesses,  preferred methods of studying and learning, and a bent toward some subjects more than others. While I believe in (and demand)  a well rounded education, I also believe that as a homeschooler, I can tailor that learning to their own unique style. I try to do that.

The 5000 year leap by Skousen

Whatever happened to Justice by Richard Maybury

Judge for yourself by Suzanne Barchers (reader’s theater)

The Cabinet by Barbara Silberdick Feinberg

The story of the Powers of the Supreme Court by R.Conrad stein (Cornerstones of Freedom)

Supreme Court by Richard B Bernstein and Jerome Agel

Alternate or Additional Resources: I seem to have gotten into the habit picking out an buying books for a course I want to build… so much so I seem to over buy and then find I can’t fit it all in 😉  Options are good, right 🙂

Understanding the Times by David Noebel.

American Heritage Series DVD’s from David Barton

*there are no affiliate links. I do not own anything including this site. Links are provided for your convenience only

*I make no promises of content, grade level, benchmarks or anything else. I have made these decisions for my children as their mother and teacher and will be glad to answer for that. 😉 (that is what we do, right?)

Here is the schedule we used. 18 weeks.civics-18-week-school-planner-single-subject-schedule



Chemistry- High School

I began writing my own homeschool because of Science. I know Apologia is good and well liked and great college prep- but the simple fact is my kids had a strong distaste for it. It wasn’t working! I researched a lot to prepare something for Biology. I found inspiration to write my own at I hope I can provide inspiration to you to tailor your homeschool to your own taste. It has made my home and school a happier place.

This is our study of Chemistry.


The Elements by Ellen J McHenry

Carbon Chemistry by Ellen J McHenry

The Golden Book of Chemistry Experiments *FREE

Friendly Chemistry *this is it’s own course! My older daughter used JUST this curriculum. I like it. THIS KID would be bored with it. I scheduled it faster and added in other things.

Marie Curie’s search for Radium *this one is pretty basic but a good read

Louis Pasteur by John Hudson Tiner

Exploring the World of Chemistry by John Hudson Tiner * I believe Master Books calls this 1 semester of High School credit.

Chilled by Tom Jackson * there were a number of books like this I wanted to add in but there just didn’t seem to be room and this is the one my kiddo chose.

**Alternates: I collected more than I could fit in :p

Chemistry 101 – I absolutely love this series. Weirdly enough, THIS KID, is annoyed by watching lessons. He’d prefer to read them. I *think* it has a lot to do with the fact that he is such a fast reader. He can get through his reading much faster without ‘waiting’ on the teacher. I would ABSOLUTELY use this for any of my other children. (In fact I sneaked  in a few on this one- I just couldn’t do it all so I did not include it here.) It’s worth it.

The Invention of Air


Men of Science , Men of God

Elements of Faith

Oxygen is not Air

The Mystery of the Periodic Table ** this is a FAVORITE in our house but we read it in middle school in their NOEO science– our introduction to schooling with living books and a four day schedule

My schedule: chemistry-36-week-school-planner-single-subject-schedule

LAB- I don’t really include a lab here (there is some in the books and can easily be added in, but I didn’t leave much room in the schedule here) because 1) He did the Thames and Kosmos Chem2000 lab in 8th grade so a lot would be repeat. I do feel that the Golden Book and the previous lab experience is enough to credit him with the lab work, however since we didn’t do it this year I do not plan to add that to his transcript unless it is needed when he applies to college. So far, the Lord has provided exactly the opportunities we’ve needed with His perfect timing. So, if we need it I think it will work out. (Example- DD1 did Apologia Biology and it involved a lot of tears! I began writing my own after that- because of that. In that process she developed a STRONG distaste for Biology however 1) she had completed a solid semester- with the tears 2) we moved on to some origins studies 2nd semester 3) she is an involved cattle farmer and therefore learns about animals and biology there and 4) our homeschool convention that summer had an all day dissection lab THEN we studied Anatomy and Physiology her senior year. I feel we covered it. Just not very traditionally. I’m ok with non-traditional schooling 😉 )

I grade– 80% completion of the assigned work (lets face it, sometimes the timing or the material isn’t going to work out. almost all of it does. if it is a specific book he is struggling with, I switch it for one of the alternates. He completes I’d say 95% of what is assigned. I’m OK with that- just don’t tell him 😉 ) 20% diligence, neatness, attitude. (when these things are in line the learning is EASY. honest)

If you want to see how we work a 4 day schedule, the planner I create, our record keeping and my transcript page you can follow the links. You can also check out other courses I’ve put together for my kiddos here.

*I make no claims of age/grade level or credit or anything like that. We did this in 11th grade.

**I do not own anything including this page so any links provided are simply for your convenience. I will not earn any money for them.

UGH! I am finding that *this guy* is bored with this study 😦 I am searching for materials to change up ‘Friendly Chemistry’ if needed. (he feels like he has covered all of this before. Not sure if that means we’ve already read the good stuff, or I missed the big stuff. (fret, fret) but am hunting other resources- and yet NOT ready to alter this schedule any…. so If you wish to explore more titles I’ve found a great list here

Some thoughts on Literature and other LA

We’ve done a few things for Literature. I can’t say I’ve found a favorite plan of attack yet. I do have some general ideas to share though.

We use a lot of living books- so it is all pretty reading intensive… but literature…

DD1- did a Sonlight Literature pack alongside Apologia’s Around the World in 180 days. She spent two years doing it and LOVED it. The schedule she used was developed by a homeschool mom.

DS2- worked through literature studies with Notgrass history programs. He didn’t love it, but we tackled some good stuff.

DD3- this was the one that loved to read. I could suggest books and she’d read. I wanted a little order to it though so I looked at Drawn Into the Heart of Reading (DITHOR)  and LOVE this idea! but we don’t do very well with the workbook type stuff so, we only followed the idea of reading them by genre:

  • Biography
  • Historical Fiction
  • Mystery
  • Nonfiction
  • Realistic Fiction
  • Adventure
  • Fantasy
  • Folk Tale
  • Humor

I added the category of CLASSICS. I wanted Classics to be a specific focus of our lit studies and though they fit into the other categories, I kept them as their own category.

I didn’t follow the book lists. I didn’t buy books. I just organized my shelves this way.

I don’t test them. We discuss them. We do our story dissection and plot work with movies. yes movies. Here are some examples of how I might start a discussion about a theme in a movie or some part of the plot. (This was written for my friend that wanted to expand writing but we often do it verbally) Character discussions are BIG here- Do you watch Fairy Tales? Superheros? and we like to compare- again classics and fairy tales work well here.

I don’t push or force this, but my younger girls like to do creative projects. I encourage that by printing off ideas I’ve found on Pinterest on creating non-traditional book reports. (see how I print and store digital recources. I have a few printouts collected in a report binder on our bookshelf for non-traditional book reports.)

other LA resources we enjoy

IEW’s SWI- with the DVD’s. NOT the teacher DVDs (sorry IEW great philosophy but not necessary and sleepy) print the ‘student’ part, plug in the DVD and go. They all learned to write. some love it more than others but all are capable. (we used B in middle school to early HS)

Notgrass- it includes lit and writing. awesome.

Easy Grammar Plus – we spend 2 years on it around middle school age.

King Alfred’s English – a study of the history of English supplements too.

One Year Adventure Novel!!(OYAN) – what a great program. As much for the study of literature as writing. It is pricey and NaNoWriMo does nearly the same thing but it is more difficult without the videos I think. NaNoWriMo is free.

I also like Progeny Press! If we are going to do an in depth study this is the resource I like best. I usually read alongside them then and we work through the PP study verbally together.

I made them all do a specific study of poetry. We used the PP guide and suggested books.

Logic and Debate are a big thing around here too- from dinner table discussions about politics and current events to comparing characters or stories (Once Upon a Time to Disney  Movie telling to the Hans Christian Anderson original fairy tales…) The Fallacy Detective is a favorite.

It wouldn’t be fair not to note 4H here. every project and every year’s record book had lots of writing: goals, how you worked through your ideas and goals, what you learned. They did a lot of public speaking with 4H too. So we had:

structure and style- IEW

answering questions, following goals, answering in complete sentences with correct spelling and public speaking- 4H

we did creative writing with OYAN and NaNoWriMo, ideas from BraveWriter and the book Story Starters.

We studied plot, dynamics, characters, suspense…. with movies and OYAN

Poetry and History. I’m sure we’ve missed things but then- don’t we all?