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!)






Ag Literacy Resources: Where does my food come from?

As a farmer, I have a passion for Ag Literacy! I work with a couple of organizations working with Ag Literacy, volunteer in school organizations and am active with FFA, 4H and my County Fair. Extension has some great resources too.

I’d like to have ongoing information about Agriculture, but at this point I’d like to share some resources and lesson plans that are available.


searching online for resources can be a tricky minefield these days. It is akin to seeking medical advise online- you may find that you are dying!! Hopefully I can help you find some resources that you can use.

  1. My first suggestion to you is check the terms. If any resource is using what I call ‘terror words’ then it is more likely they are trying to sway your opinion rather than teach. I think you can recognize these words easily enough. Be aware.
  2. Ag Literacy is a good search term. It allows you to find farmers and folks in the business of producing food to tell you what is happening in their world.
  3. Other good search terms: Agronomy, Soil Science, Seed Science, Seed Genetics, Animal Husbandry, Animal Science
  4. Farm Bureau is very active in the Ag Literacy movement so they might be a good place to look. I am an active member of Farm Bureau and am often confused with an insurance company agent, so please let me help define that ;):

American Farm Bureau is an organization is made up of farmers all across the country. We band together to help be one voice for ALL kinds of farming operations. We don’t promote only conventional or only organic or only livestock- but EVERYTHING farming. Ag Literacy is a major focus these days and Farm Bureau is getting involved.

Each state has a State Farm Bureau. (i.e. Iowa Farm Bureau, Florida Farm Bureau, Hawaii Farm Bureau, Kansas Farm Bureau) We grow food in every state, and each state has their own grass roots organization. (you can actually find one in each County (or most, I know Iowa has 99 counties and 100 County Farm Bureaus. Not sure about other states specifically))

American Farm Bureau Federation is the group of all state’s FB members (think federal  government and state government and county government) It is a similar system EXCEPT this is NOT a government entity at all but private citizens coming together as ONE VOICE for agriculture. Often to address government or citizens with its members’ voice.


I follow a few individual farmers around the country just because they have taken an active role in showing us and telling us what they do. They share what happens on their farms, how and way they make certain decisions and sometimes have fun ways to share that.

I happen to follow many of them on Facebook because it is a ‘news feed’ I follow fairly regularly and I will get new stuff as it is posted. All of these folks have several ways to follow them whether it is blogs, youtube channels or something else. I’m going to share Facebook pages because I like to follow them there.

Peterson Farm Bros – these Kansas farmers have been making fun song parody videos to share their story, and have recently added written blogs.

Dairy Carrie– just like her name sounds- she is a dairy farmer. She shares her love for her girls (milking cows) and daily life on a dairy farm in Wisconsin

The Foodie Farmer– another family farmer on the east coast of the US. (Maryland maybe? I’m not sure. sorry.) She has a lot of good information on how her operations works and since she grows both Organic AND Conventional crops, we can learn about both operations here. She is also a part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed where there has been a lot of news and regulation in recent years.

There are others! These guys post often and I collect constant information just by following these three. They will often post great articles or link to other blogs posts worth your time and maybe someone else you would enjoy following. I know there are a few I read from time to time: I am agriculture Proud, Nurse Loves Farmer (Canada)


My American has interactive games, lesson plans and resources for home, school, and community.

Iowa Ag Literacy has lesson plans (some great ones for younger students especially) you might search your own state to learn more about crops grown in your area.

American Farm Bureau Agriculture Foundation is a foundation set up to make resources available for ag literacy.  There are free resources and lesson plans available here. There is also a great list of agriculturally accurate books and teacher books/lesson plant to go with them. They spend a great deal of time researching children’s books for accurate portrayal of farm and animals. For example- animals that are not animated or talking but animals being animals.

There are links to resources from Ag in the Classroom (this is a classroom program that has been a part of Farm Bureau for a long time and as demand for this information continues to expand, so does the program and websites.) – there is certainly a lot of talk about GMO- do you know what it is and what it isn’t? This site has all kinds of folks from all kinds of ag fields answering any and all questions you have. Read through others questions, or ask one for yourself. Test your own knowledge.

Nutrients for Life is a foundation supplying FREE resources about soil and fertilizer among other things. Farmers make up only 2% of the population. It used to be that we were all connected to someone who farmed but now we are 3 generations removed. It is because we have all specialized- not just farmers and we all do what we do best and share it. Farm kids have grown up to leave the farm, get an education and work away from the farm. As a result- we (as a general class of people) don’t understand AGRONOMY (that is the study of SOIL) These resources help us understand why we fertilize- how important it is to have just the right amount- keeping the soil healthy is our number one objective- too much is wasteful, expensive and can affect other things like ground water. Farmers are careful to keep the soil, air and water healthy. It affects us every day and every generation.

Norman Borlaug Heritage Foundation has some great teaching materials. If you are from Iowa, you’ve heard his name. Norman Borlaug spent his life farming and working against world hunger. He was recognized and honored with the Nobel Peace Prize for his work because there was not prize for working against hunger- so he started one. the World Food Prize. (headquarters is in Des Moines, Iowa and if you have the opportunity to stop in or schedule a tour- do it. It is amazing!) These materials teach about the man, Iowa history (because he is from Iowa) his lifelong passion to feed the world, the work he did, and the World Food Prize. This link is the curriculum package available FREE on the website. Here are related sites including World Food Prize.

TEXTBOOKS and Living Books:

Exploring Agriscience by Ray Herren is one we have used an enjoyed. We located a less expensive older, used edition, but I assume this one is even better 😉 *textbook

Life in a Bucket of Soil – this is geared toward young readers, and yet the information is pretty good. I kind of have a philosophy like this: if we haven’t learned it yet- then it is our level, and we’ll continue to build on it as much as we can find- curiosity being our guide. So, this may be labeled elementary but we’ve used it in middle school and early high school. It’s good information.

Farm Anatomy – this book is beautifully illustrated! It gives a great overview of things. Not very deep in its content but so beautifully done.

Soil by Richard Cromer seems to be an out of print 1960’s elementary science picture book. It’s pretty good. you might find something used. I happen to have an old library copy. Is it funny how these old elementary books cover more than today’s high school books in some ways… at any rate I think this has good information that can be easily understood and retained. I did find a generic re-print? not sure but it doesn’t look like mine yet has the same name and author!  here. is BOVINE (cattle) anatomy. good stuff!

Botany by Ellen J McHenry is a really fun study of plants! I used this as part of my Biology curriculum. She has also just published one called dirt and rocks. I haven’t had the chance to check it out yet but I hope it is a good agronomy resource!

I did a Biotech unit in my Biology curriculum that used this printable resource from Ag Literacy Foundation

My children dual enrolled with the local school to participate in the FFA organization. It has been very helpful for them in learning about Agriculture and Leadership.

 ****** READ THIS!******

Articles, videos and blog posts I enjoyed:

‘Allergic to All Known Chemicals?’ – Forbes Magazine by Henry I. Miller

RoundUp: What It Is (and what it isn’t)

It’s Practically Impossible to define “GMOs”

How My Visit to a Small Farm Led to a Food Attitude Change

What is a GMO? by Piffle

High School Human Anatomy & Physiology

I make no guarantees of credits, or level of materials.

We use a 4 day schedule leaving time for flexibility.  We almost always school 5 days and then use Fridays to follow rabbit trails, notebook and catch up.


(BBD) Body by Design: An Anatomy and Physiology of the Human Body by Allen Gillen

(DVD) Answers in Genesis Series Body of Evidence with Dr David Menton

(Bio) Biology Instructional Fairs

(H) Human Body Instruction Fairs

(Blood and Guts) Brown Paper School Book: Blood and Guts by Linda Allison  *this one targets a little younger audience by this child does better with ideas she can picture and this book is written that way.

(famous scientists) The How and Why book of Famous Scientists by Jean Bethell * this is a book I had on my self- quick, short biographies to supplement.

(origins) A Question of Origins: Created or Evolved by Shelby MacFarlane

(brain) The Brain by Ellen J McHenry

(galen) Galen and the Gateway to Medicine by Jeanne Bendick

(IBG) Inspector Bodyguard patrols the land of U by Vicki Cobb ** again not a very science-y kid,  better with an image in her head. geared young but fun and informative.


anatomy and physiology printable schedule

or Anatomy and physiology one line schedule if you wish to use my organization and paste into a planner blank.

Forensic Science with lab

My 7th grader enjoyed this. This is scheduled for just a little less than an 18 week semester- 14 weeks. She studied an Agriscience textbook we used an older edition of this textbook for the first half of the year and this after that was finished. It seemed too slow to study that book all year, but too much to cram into one semester too, so this was my solution.


(proj) Detective Science by Jim Wiese

(CD) DK Eyewitness books: Crime and Detection by Brian Lane

(Pieces) Forensic Science: Putting the Pieces Together by M. Langley Biegert

(cells) National Geographic Reading Expeditions: Life Science: Looking at Cells by Rebecca L. Johnson (when searching for this one on Amazon, I only found this 6-pack and cannot tell what the other books are. I purchased this one used.)

(fingerprints) Fingerprints and Talking Bones: How Real-Life Crimes Are Solved by Charlotte Foltz Jones

Introduction to Forensics by Farm School Iowa downloadable schedule 14 weeks

lab supplies for this in general: she asked for a microscope for her birthday one year so that is available for this study. I know one lab requires super glue, tin foil and a jar or container to seal it in (we used a canning jar and lid), one required we each run our fingers through our hair and give a strand of hair to my young scientist, one lab required ink to make fingerprints (which we couldn’t find so we used paint) most of the labs do not require too much, but if requested, I can make a list of needed supplies here.

however, some are more complicated. One made a plaster cast of a print in the ground (we talked about and explored using playdoh to make an simple cast to look at) and one lab required a tape recorder, speaker and wire. We did not accomplish that one. When we encounter this we look on youtube and sometimes find that we can watch someone else do this lab.









Tenth Grade Biology

I know. Apologia Sciences are great! Everyone says so…. but for whatever reason my children have a strong distaste for them. Even though they are very interested in Science, I’ve found they far more enjoy living books than any textbook….so I wrote this out myself. I try to use as many Christian materials as I can, but with living books- many are secular.

While looking for some kind of science that they would not turn up noses at, cry over, and would actually read… I found a great site! She has put together living book studies for her High Schooler and I love them…. however here in the boondocks, we were not able to get unlimited internet and as her textbook was an online, interactive one, we needed to make quite a few adjustments. I found some great books on that site, in my own collection and borrowed a few resources from friends.

We generally schedule school 4 days a week. Fridays are left for catch up or flexes in case of farm work days, field trips or other activities. On good weeks we will use Fridays for notebooking and interest learning.

I did not choose to include an Anatomy and Physiology unit inside of Biology, but instead wrote a year study for my 12th grader (not as sciencey as the youngers- and the one that struggled with our earlier use of textbooks, but a good mix of materials I think)

I spend the last few weeks on what I think of as an optional book Genesis of Germs- good reading for sure but in all honesty they will be itching to be done, outside and I have a graduation to plan this year 😉 also we spend some time on Biotech. It is important on our farm and though we already spend a lot of time talking and learning about it here on the farm researching the technical stuff, and writing on the ethics we important to me. The point is, not all homeschoolers plan 36 weeks and this is a good place to look at shortening it if needed depending on your needs.


Books and resources for Biology:

(Botany) Botany by Ellen J McHenry (activities listed here are in the book, and many are on her website )

(cells) Cells by Ellen J McHenry

(Bio 101) Biology 101 (DVD)

(BIO) Biology (coloring book/worksheets/Reproducibles)  by Instructional Fair, Inc

Binder activities- I printed these ahead and put them in a 3 ring binder. I’ll try to include links in the schedule. Some were from Otter’s Christian Biology on and some were found through Pinterest or searches.

(Ev Expo) Evolution Exposed by Roger Patterson

(WOB) Exploring the World Of Biology  by John Hudson Tiner

(entomology) The Practical Entomologist by Rick Imes

(DOW) A World in a Drop of Water: Exploring with a Microscope by Alvin & Virginia Silverstein

(Ocean) The Ocean Book (Wonders of Creation) by Frank Sherwin

(enzymes) Enzymes in Action by Melvin Berger

(genetics) The Cartoon Guide to Genetics by Larry Connick ** Please note the some of the content bordered on inappropriate for us so please take a look at the book but I decided that such complex material in such and understandable way and then lets face it genetics requires reproduction so I decided to work with this while we still had parental supervision and lots of time for questions- though to be fair we do live on a farm so breeding is common speech here. 😉

(genesis of germs) The Genesis of Germs by Alan Gillen

Animals for dissection. I purchased just the animal kit from Heppner’s Legacy and printed dissection instructions (links below) or you can buy a full kit that has tools and instructions.


downloadable versions:

biology book grid one line

biology book grid


Week 1

Botany 1.1 ; 2 activities ; 1.2 ; BIO p 35 & 2 activities; notebooking

week 2

Botany 2.1 ; 2 activities ; 2.2 ; Activity 1,4 ; notebooking

week 3

Botany 3.1 ; Activity & BIO p 21 ; 3.2 ; Activity 1,2 ; notebooking

week 4

Botany 4.1 ; Activity 3,4 ; 4.2 ; BIO p 45, catch up ; notebooking

week 5

Botany 5.1 ; 2 activities ; 5.2 ; activity & app ; notebooking

week 6

Botany 6.1 ; Bio p 47-49, activity 6 ; 6.2 ; Activity 1 ; notebooking

week 7

Botany 7.1 ; Activity 2 ; 7.2 ; 1 activity ; notebookingdxsdc

week 8

Botany 8.1 ; 1 activity, Bio 101 intro ; 8.2 ; 1 activity Bio 101 Plants

week 9

binder activity make a dichotomous key ; Bio p 34, 35 & Bio 101- Classification ; Ev Expo p 33-40 ; Ev Exp p 40-50 ; notebooking

week 10

WOB ch 1 ; WOB ch 2 ; WOB ch 3 ; WOB ch 4 ; notebooking

week 11

Entomology p 8-25 ; Entomology p26-40 ; WOB ch 9; binder activity ant sheets & Grasshopper sheets from BIO  p 61,63-66 ; notebookingAx5553wwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww

week 12

Ev Exp origin of vertebrates; Ev Exp origin of invertebrates ; Ev Exp microorganismss ; Binder activities: Invertebrates flip chart

week 13

binder activity clamshell ; Dissect worm, Bio 60, 63, 65,66 ; DOW ch 1-5 ; DOW ch 6-10 ; notebooking

week 14

catch up (this week was Thanksgiving for us)

week 15

Ocean ch 7 ; Ocean ch 8 ; Dissect Perch, BIO p 70 ; BIO 101 Aquatic Creatures ; notebooking

week 16

WOB ch 10 ; Dissect crayfish, Bio p 69 ; Bio 101 Avion Creatures ; WOB ch 12, Bio p 51, 71 ; notebooking

week 17

WOB ch 11 ; Dissect Frog and here Bio p 59,62,64,67 ; Ev Expo- natural selection ; Ev Expo Geological records ; notebooking

week 18

Ev Expo- Origin of Life ; WOB frauds ch 14 ; catch up

Week 19

Bio 101 land animals pt 1 ; Bio 101 land animals pt 2 ; WOB ch 13 , Bio 101 human 1 & 2 ; notebooking

week 20

cells ch 1 ; 2 activities, Q’s ; cells  ch 2 ; 2 activities, Q’s ; notebooking

week 21

cells ch 3 ; ATP pop gun from botany book or website, 1 activity, Q’s ; Catch up, shopping list for next week Candy ; Bio 101 cells ; notebooking

week 22

cells ch 4 ;  binder activity build DNA and eat it too ; Bio 56, 57 ; activities 2,4 ; notebooking

week 23

cells ch 5 ; 2 activities, Q’s ; Enzymes ch 1,2 ; Enzymes ch 3,4 ; notebooking

week 24

enzymes ch 5,6 ; enzymes ch 7,8 ; enzymes ch 9,10 ; enzymes ch 11 ; notebooking

week 25

cells ch 6 ; 2 activities , q’s ; ch 7 ; 2 activities, q ; notebooking

week 26

cells ch 8 ; 2 activities ; Bio p 29,30,31 ; 1 activity ; notebooking

week 27

cells ch 9 up to blook cells ; Bio p 81 ; blood cells to end (cells) ; Bio 77, 78, antigen game binder activity and blood cell bingo; notebooking or finish games

week 28

Genetics p 1-25 ; genetics p 26-50 ; genetics p 51-75 ; genetics p76-100 ; notebooking

week 29

genetics p 101-125 ; genetics p 126-150 ; genetics p 151-175 ; genetics p 176-209 ; notebooking

week 30

binder activity design-a-saur lab ; Bio 52-53 ; Bio 54-55 ; Bio 56-57

week 31

binder activity read Viral Attack ; binder activity read Microbes ; genesis of germs ch 1 ; genesis of germs ch 2

week 32 –

**GMO video from Piffle youtube

*BioTech study from The Ag Literacy Foundation

1: video & Biotech lesson 1

2: lesson 2

3: lesson 3

4: read about GMO’s on

5: homeschooling

week 33:

1: lesson 4

2: lesson 5

3: lesson 6

4: read about GMO’s on

5: notebooking

week 34:

1: lesson 7

2: finding a gene on the Chromosome Map

3:  Read about GMO’s on

4: catch up

5: notebooking

week 34

You’ve come a long way Dolly -binder activity on cloning ; notebooking- write on the ethics of biotech ; Cloning a mouse, mouse, mouse – binder ; notebooking- reading or writing on biotech, cloning or ethics

week 35

genesis of germs ch 3 ; ch 4; ch 5 ; ch 6 ; notebooking

week 36

genesis of germs ch 7 ; ch 8 ; ch 9 ; ch 10 ; notebooking


DISCLAIMER: I make no guarantees of any grade level or credits as compared to any accredited school or published curriculum.

I don’t own anything (this site..) and I’m not selling anything. I have not affiliate links- the links are for you convenience.  I share these just because I’ve found things that make my school easier and more fun and I share these ideas in case it can help another mom. we have to stick together 😉

*** I wish I had remembered this site before we completed this. If I use this again, I may add in some of the activities from this site