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!)





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?





Economics- a study of Capitalism for High School

This is a list of great resources on Economics and Capitalism. You could create a semester out of one or a couple of these easy enough. I find that each kid is different and this one likes to read and devour information- then later talk it over and debate. So that is how this is arranged. I encourage you to tailor it to your child too. Use this as I have it (download my schedule below) or use it as a springboard to create what will work for you. I collected more resources than I could schedule in, so alternates are listed too.

Simply Put: A Study in Economics  * I’ve followed for years collecting free downloads. As I was ready to hit ‘checkout’ with this book, I thought to check my files. There it was, filed away on my laptop. I was able to print it out. So, with some searching I imagine you can find this as a free download- unless it was a once upon a time special. anyway, worth a look. There is a student and a teacher edition. I do not believe we used the teacher’s book. It has more hands on activities I may use for my younger high schooler when she is ready- but this one prefers to read, so I assigned the reading in the student edition.

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Capitalism by Robert Murphy 

Whatever Happened to Penny Candy by Richard Maybury

The Money Mystery by Richard Maybury

A Bluestocking guide to Economics *I intended to use this to supplement Whatever Happened to Penny Candy, but as I began to work out a schedule, I found that it was really an additional study. I think it is quite valuable but we did not have time for everything, so I decided that this ‘side by side’ was the busy work and went on to new material. I do not discount its value though so I have listed it here.(an ALTERNATE) I listed it in the schedule to be used on notebooking days.

The History of Money from  * also collected from

The Family as the basis for Political Existence by Fredrick D Wilhelmsen * also collected from

Biblical Economics Today by Gary North * also collected from

Understanding the Times  *excerpts

another good alternate resource – FREE- I did not add it in simply because I could not fit everything- Economics in one lesson by Henry Hazlitt


here is our 4 day schedule:

economics-blog-single-line schedule

If this is your first experince here, you might be interested in:

how I develop my high schoolers schedules

how I grade

other courses I’ve developed using living books



Fine Arts? Musicals! movie fun. WRITING!! create your own homeschool

Whether you are catering to your child’s (or your) interests, you can create your own homeschool from anything! Fine arts is a big basket. Find something you enjoy to do with it- after all, that is what it was meant for… Or was it? We found ways to explore musicals (like the Broadway shows- but the ones filmed I can watch in my living room with my kids) and any deeper meaning the authors may have wanted to convey. Maybe that is the true work of an artist– what it communicates. See what you find.

I put this together for a friend’s daughter. I like it. Having put it together for a specific child in mind here were the ideas in my head:

  1. She had fallen in love with the musical “Hamilton” and Mom wanted to maximize on that interest. (smart mom!)
  2. She is VERY strong willed and has a very rebellious nature- the writing prompts, I believe can be a good thinking device for anyone, but I designed these questions for her to ARGUE and reflect her ideas and opinions.
  3. Mom had indicated she needed more motivation to write. I think these could easily be papers assigned, but I think the mom I worked with on this planned to use them as journal prompts.
  4. As a rebellious teen, she had already sought some controversial content (RENT) and Mom wanted to concede that- as long as we explore____ we also explore____. We had discussed offering her a list of options, her having veto power of x number so it was designed to have concessions on both sides.
  5. We originally discussed using these in a historical timeline so they were arranged that way, but ultimately we decided on more of a writing program- but they could easily be used alongside a history curriculum as they are (roughly) arranged by time setting.

I had a ton of fun putting this together because I am a big fan of musicals. I focused more on my favorites for two reasons: 1) I could come up with out of the ordinary questions because I was familiar and 2) i owned them on DVD making it easier for my friend to share with her daughter.

Since I’ve put this together, I’ve learned of other moms that looking for a way to cover some fine arts. This, to me, qualifies. So here is what I have:

*Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat- Does adversity mean that God is not with us? How does Joseph’s faith lead him to God’s plan for his life?

Jesus Christ Superstar – Does Judas behave as a Christian? He follows the rules- he repented, asked for forgiveness, gave back the money- why is he lead to suicide? Do you think Jesus forgave him?

The King and I (1956)- What does Mrs Anna do to honor the King’s culture, what does she refuse to do? How does this help or hinder the King’s objective?

*Les Miserables- Who does the justice system work for in this period in time? What have we learned and failed to learn from this justice system?

*1776- Are our forefathers remembered as demi-gods as Franklin suggests in the movie. Do we have a fair image of the men they were?


*The Phantom of the Opera – How can our own ideas and experiences blind us to reality?

*Oklahoma!- How does courting differ from Oklahoma to now? What is better and worse about them?

*Chitty Chitty Bang Bang- How can having an inventive mind help and hinder a families well-being?

*Guys and Dolls- How do Sky’s and Sarah’s view of the Bible differ? Who, in your opinion has a better understand of life’s rules?

*Chicago- Is this a good or bad portrayal of the power of the Press and its role in our justice system? Do you think it is better or worse than today?

*The Music Man – Do you think traveling salesman are able to maintain a respectable image? Why or why not?

*Fiddler on the Roof- Have you ever considered the effect of changing times’ effect on fathers? How does this portrayal of a father’s decisions prove his love for his children? Is it enough to fit into the changing world?

*The Sound of Music- This family’s decision to escape in the face of the Nazi’s takeover is portrayed as heroic. Is this because of our ability to look back on history and see what would happen? Is it because they were successful? How do you think you would know if you were living in such a perilous time? Do you believe you would take the same risk?

South Pacific

*Hairspray- How did the changing music industry affect the Civil Rights Movement in the US? Did it help, hinder or both?

*West Side Story- Why do you think the story of Romeo and Juliet is such a popular and timeless story? How does this modern version approach the idea?


Other musicals – just a list we discussed. I thought I’d share our brainstorming ideas- however slight they were 😉

Not sure where these fall in a time period:

  • *A Chorus Line
  • Singing in the Rain
  • *Wizard of Oz
  • Cabaret
  • Oliver
  • Annie Get your Gun
  • 7 brides for 7 brothers
  • My Fair Lady
  • *Annie
  • Evita
  • Funny Face
  • Funny Girl
  • Rocky Horror
  • Little Shop of Horrors
  • Sweeney Todd
  • Carousel
  • State fair
  • Damn Yankees
  • Gigi
  • *Mary Poppins

NOTES: * were put in for local friends- these are ones I own 😉 I DO NOT guarantee the content of these AT ALL. Use at your own discretion. Some of these I have, indeed, studied with my children. Other I have not! This was designed with a specific audience- not all. Please use your judgement and look up content.