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



U.S. Government & Civics RESOURCES

If you’ve been here before you know that I use a lot of living books for all grades but especially High School. I have used some great resources for a U. S. Government Study at and I think that is enough to satisfy a basic requirement for Government, but I wanted to make sure that my kiddos go away with a really solid understanding of Government, Constitution, Founding Fathers, Civic Responsibilities and most of all Natural Law and the Bible’s influence on the framers, the documents and the law. So I have been looking for great resources to solve this end.

I don’t know if you might have a kid like this, but my DS16 will not ‘repeat’ anything. He has studied U.S. Government and American History- so while there is more to study- I’ll have to be more inventive with the name 😉

I plan to work on Economics and then something titled: Constitution Study or Civics or Civic Justice …..working on it.

I will post the book lists and schedule once I have it worked out, but I was SOOOO excited about this great resources list – and I can’t fit them all in. yet. I wanted to share the list with you.

Eclectic Homeschool Online has a GREAT resource list for U.S. Government and Political Science.

I have several in my shopping basket and will need to decide how many I can buy! And, how many I will be able to add to what I already have. :/



History! with living books 1: a spine

Studying History Chronologically in a repeating 4 year pattern- where to start, how to create a spine.

When we hit that point of tears and we are all DONE homeschooling one spring, I realized that the only thing I felt we were doing well- something we enjoyed and learned from joyfully was history. That is when I decided to start using more living books and our own style. We had done it all along for History- maybe out of my lack of ability to PICK one? Anyway, this is how we had studied history and enjoyed it.

I read about teaching kids history in order.

Creation to the Fall of Rome (year 1)

Middle Ages, Renaissance, Reformation, Explorers (year 2)

Early Modern World, Industrial Revolution, American Civil War (year 3)

Modern History- 20,21st centuries. (year 4)

I do not have a set pattern for history like I have set up for other classes. This one is far more loosely based. I simply follow a timeline for a *spine*. Here are some examples.

I first read about it when I began homescholing (I pulled my kids from public school in elementary- we did not begin at home) in “The Well-Trained Mind” by Susan Wise Bauer. I borrowed it from the library, so I have not looked at it in many years, but I remembered that it had a similar 4 year study where she listed important events and people in each year of study. (*a spine*)

I am an admiring fan of Tapestry of Grace. I feel guilty even saying it because as much as I admire and long for this curriculum I cannot bring myself to actually purchase it. I feel like I am advising you to follow it but not buy it. This, I hope, is not the case. I think there is a GREAT value in the curriculum! I have a tendency to have a short attention span and shy away from some prices because I tend to ditch things after a few months. This is MY weakness. Not the curriculum. If you are able to purchase this, I recommend it.

I shop through Tapestry of Grace’s recommended books! They recommend GREAT books! and I use their scope and sequence as (* a spine*).

I loosely schedule out events or people we want to cover through the year like this:

week 1:

Creation, Patriarchs

week 2:


week 19

Plato, Aristotle

week 20:

Athens, Sparta

This kind of schedule gave me a list to search for at the library each week. Sometimes what we studied that week had a lot to do with what the library had!

OR  just simply target marks,  like this:

first 9 weeks- Bible, Mesopotamia, Egypt

second 9 weeks- Greece and Greek Mythology

third nine weeks- Rome

fourth nine weeks- The life of Jesus Christ

I believe Susan Wise Bauer writes that she uses The Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of History as (* a spine*)

I collect books all the time. I know what ‘year’ of history is coming up, what my kids might like, what I want to learn. I prepare ahead with a lot of resources. (it is my favorite part 😉 )

Then after I have a ROUGH spine mapped out, I use the resources I have, shop for them as we go (Amazon, Abebooks, TOG year 1 list…I’m not the only one do you know how hard it is to buy a book from a used site in January? you’d better be quick! ) or whatever is available from the library. (If I have mapped out a list of people and events through the weeks of the year- I can search these at the library and go with whatever I find.)

Another (*spine*) is to work alongside a printed history like Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer or Mystery of History

We have often followed these resources we just don’t -stick- to them. I simply read lessons in order and when we come to -Mesopotamia, Egypt- I might set it aside and read or do projects from Ancient Israelites and their neighbors, Read from the Bible or Children’s bible, or I might make Duct Tape Armor from Egypt. I might watch ‘The Prince of Egypt‘ with my children. When I come back to Story of the World, I often find that I can skip ahead several chapters because I feel we’ve already covered that and pick up where- usually- I’m not sure what we should do next. When we get to a point that I am bored of reading from this book, I find another resource or remember something on my shelf- or as inevitably happens- I don’t really like how this subject is covered here- well we just add another resource. another point of view! I love the discussions that happen when we do that!

History is something we read together. I don’t do anything more then drag them out of their beds. They laze around under blankets looking dreary eyed and half asleep.I just read to them. Usually for an hour- but goodness is that flexible: sometime more, sometimes less, sometimes with discussions, sometimes with journaling, sometimes we work on projects or coloring sheets or sometimes even worksheets. Dover coloring books make a good listen along resources.

Two of my favorite things to DO during this time is with journaling in notebooks. Our favorites are these from Miller Pads and Paper. We buy stacks of these each year at our homeschool convention.

They draw and write something (Charlotte Mason Style) and keep their very own record.

We get out the world map and draw and map where we are studying.

I hope to put up a list of history resources we’ve enjoyed and some ideas on how to put this together but until then sample of favorite resources for year 1 that we have used repeatedly :

World History Made Simple by Ruth Beechick. Biblical stories are included. In younger years I read them from a children’s Bible.

Greek Mythology unit including The Odyssey series by Mary Pope Osborne here is book 1 (We’ve always studied the Greek Mythology. 1) my kids have loved it 2) there are SO many pop culture references! 3) they are great stories! Classic Literature! and 4) It gives a glimpse into the lives of people in this era.

Drive Thru History: Greece and the Word, Rome if you want to

Shakespeare is studied next year during the Renaissance, but we’ve always read the play ‘Julius Caesar’ during our year one study. There are some great children’s resources to read the story or the play. (another thing that Susan Wise Bauer promotes in ” The Well-Trained Mind” is that you read these (hard to read) classics in the easier kid form to introduce them and it will be easier for them to absorb the originals in High School and College)

Genevieve Foster’s book “The Life of Augustus Caesar” Beautiful Feet Books has a history Curriculum to follow using these books. I love them from the birth to death of Augustus Caesar- what was going on all over the world. also available: Life of Christopher Columbus, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln







U.S. Government- High School

I used this for High School even though I used the Middle School version of this free curriculum  America’s Heritage: An Adventure in Liberty.

We are a relatively politically active family. We’re in Iowa. We are first in the nation and we, as a family, recognize the significance of that. We’ve attended the Straw Poll as a family for years. Kids have been to political rallies, met candidates, walked many miles with literature for candidates. As age allowed they have attended our County, District and State Conventions as junior delegates and now as a delegate. And discussions around the kitchen table about candidates, our government and our economy are a regular occurrence. Now  is time for an overall view of the whole government  with a plan to do an in depth study of the U.S. Constitution (because I feel it is that important. I feel this course covers a high school government requirement on its own). We plan to dive deep, however and include  civics and economics courses as well.

I chose this free curriculum from America’s Heritage Foundation. I printed all three versions and put them in 3-ring binders. I chose to use the Middle School version for three reasons: 1) I had misplaced the High School version when I sat down to write this one! (no really. DD had set it aside to study up for Girls State and I couldn’t find it anywhere 😉 )  (2) when I found it I didn’t feel the upper level had enough more to offer to justify changing it. and (3) I intended to do this twice (or more) after all the more they learn it, the more they learn it right?  I was satisfied it would  cover all of the major factors of U.S. Government and a worthy study but also a good foundation for an in depth U.S. Constitution Study.

**I make no guarantees of any credits or level of materials. No common core or any other standards beside my own.

We studied this for one semester. We did this as a high school Government class. I schedule a 4 day week. We often have farm work days, field trips, sick days and all kinds of life get in the way. Scheduling 4 days gives us the flexibility to have a make-up day and stay on track each week. We almost always school five days a week but Friday’s are reserved for notebooking and following rabbit trails and interests as well as catch up if needed.

America’s Heritage: An Adventure in Liberty

(KGBR) The Kids Guide to the Bill of Rights by Kathleen Krull  ** note on this book: Personally I find this book to go against my views- it lays out how the amendments have changed in perception- changed its meaning-  over time and justifies that. I do not agree with the justification, personally, but I find this books lays out the history of it all well. I encouraged my kids to use reasoning skills as they read to decide whether or not they thought it justified.

Wonderful activities from :,, and

  • note on Binder Activities: We all have lazy tendencies, right? It’s not just my kids? I don’t make banana bread anymore, evidently it is too much work to unwrap, slice and eat the bread. I make muffins and they disappear with 24 hours if not 1 hour. So when I put activities into their daily assignment list- I just print them out. If they are reading, and working through studies it seem to be too much work to open up a laptop, wait for it to turn on, find a link/type in a link….if I’ve scheduled it- I just print it. I put it in a three-ring binder- hence the listing of binder activity ;). This works for us. Maybe you are better about using less paper, taking up less space, using online resources but we are not.

week 1:

1: read preface p 9-11

2: p 12-15

3: p 16-19

4: activity (part of AH)

5: notebooking

week 2:

1: Read the activity. (this is a game developed for the classroom. impossible to play with just a few kids) we don’t have enough people so use tokens, coins, doll house people- try to stage out this game to learn the ideas in it.

2: copy the cards and establish a set up of the activity

3: play the game (as best you can) and see it work

4: talk or journal about it, read the songs, what are your conclusions?

5: notebooking

week 3:

1: Read about the signers and consequences

2: binder worksheet  (again developed for a classroom but they filled out a sheet of their choice and got the gist of it.)

3: catch up (We have watched the musical “1776” It is great fun. It also has many crude and inappropriate (sexual) jokes and tends to dwell on it in a section. my kids are used to me ‘editing’ as we watch and will sometimes even alert me to things they think should be edited. I suggest you view it first!)

4: catch up

5: notebooking

week 4:

1: Read the Declaration of Independence (main body)

2:  read the grievances

3:  worksheet

4: catch up

5: notebooking

week 5:

1: read and then rewrite p 76- 78 in the simplest terms i.e. article x section y sets up the senate

2: p 79-80 read and rewrite in the simplest terms use worksheet to help

3: p 81-88

4: p 89-94

5: notebooking

week 6:

1: read (or listen)  Rush Limbaugh’s history of thanksgiving (this is the contents of “Of Plymouth Plantation by William Bradford” but simply put)

2: p 98

3: p 99

4: catch up

5: notebooking

week 7:

1: read p 104

2: binder activity- 2nd amendment activity

3: binder- 1st amendment

4:  10th amendments and Amendment game

5: notebooking

week 8:

1: Binder – Common Law

2: KGBR ch 1

3: ch 2

4: ch 3

5: notebooking

week 9:

1: ch 4

2: ch 5

3: ch 6

4: ch 7

5: notebooking

week 10:

1: ch 8

2: ch 9

3: ch 10

4: ch 11

5: notebooking

week 11:

1: ch 12

2: ch 13

3: ch 14

4: ch 15

5: notebooking

week 12:

1: p 116-117

2: p 118-119

3: p 120-121

4: catch up

5: notebooking

week 13:

1: P 127-128

2: P 129-130

3: P 131-132

4: P 133

5: notebooking

week 14

1: In God We Trust p 151

2: worksheet

3:  binder activity Money

4: catch up

5: notebooking

week 15:

1: Star Spangled Banner

2: Read Gettysburg

3: Gettysburg worksheet

4: catch up

5: notebooking

week 16:

1: Stature of Liberty

2: worksheet

3: Pledge

4: worksheet

5: notebooking

week 17:

1: Binder- bill becomes a law and/or  Schoolhouse Rock video- how a bill becomes a law

2: Binder- Branches

3: Binder- branches worksheet with pix *I did spend the time to look up our representatives and size pictures of each of them to fit in this worksheet. I think the time spent was worth it.

4: Binder –local, state, federal

5: notebooking

week 18:

1: American Courts Part 1 – Binder

2: American Courts Part 2– Binder

3: finish up!

Wonderful activities from :,, and