How We Are Exploring Our World as Homeschoolers

Today for the Virtual Curriculum Fair for homeschoolers, we are sharing about Exploring Our World: Social Studies and more Science. This theme can include history, geography, world cultures, worldview, biology, botany, geology, etc., etc., etc.


Last year I shared about our approach to these subjects in Learning About The World Around Us.  As is typical for a homeschool family who’s mother is rather eclectic in life, we’ve been changing it up a bit this year.


Exploring Our World ~ Geography and History

For the current school year, all of the boys are covering American History and we are using Sonlight as the spine.  I’ve appreciated the detailed lesson plans and for my high school student the student lesson plans (everything minus the answers) so everything is ready to go.  I will admit that I’ve been buying the books as we go and could see serious benefit to having them all in the house at once.  But, as I already owned several of the materials and we are not doing the bible component, the cost for the full core package made little sense.


P is working in Core 100 and has followed the lesson plans for the history section which included mapping activities for learning geography. 

Sonlight Core 100


Initially, he complained the the materials were ‘too easy.’ But, he has found that while the material is easy to read and comprehend, the lesson plans provide questions that delve much deeper than a cut and paste response from the text.  And, he is still struggling with formulating his own opinions about historical events beyond basic responses (like yes or no!)  My goal for him is that by the end of the year he will become comfortable with those types of questions and be able to articulate his opinions.


American History on the ScreenThe other tactic I’m taking with P for history this year utilizes a little teacher resource I picked up at a used curriculum sale, American History on the Screen.  This resource breaks up American History by ‘era’ and provides materials for their primary recommendation as well as a list of other films for that time period.  Some (like The Patriot with Mel Gibson which we actually own) are familiar while others (Three Sovereigns for Sarah) were ones I had never heard of before this book.  As the resource is geared for the high school classroom, there are several films like The Patriot which are rated R.  We made the decision to allow him to watch ones that we’ve already seen and know have historical merit.  Plus, we watch it with him and can pause as needed.



D and R are working together through Sonlight Core D&E this year.  I have to admit that we are a bit behind schedule and some of the materials (like the History of Us workbooks) have been ditched.  While they have enjoyed the books once they are far enough into them to ‘catch’, they were dragging their feet for a while that has us in week 13/14 when we should be starting week 20 right now.  But, I’m not worried like I would be for a high school course.


Instead, we have pulled the Catholic From Sea to Shining Sea off the shelf to be a textbook spine for the boys.  What I haven’t shared with them is that I have a lapbook that goes with the textbook where I’ll be pulling some activities as we go through the materials.  (Sometimes the boys are not as excited about lapbooking as I am!)


Additionally, I have pulled some activities from the few Homeschool in the Wood’s Time Travelers series that I own to bring more hands-on learning to the mix.  Finally, we’ve supplemented with History videos covering topics like the American Revolution which sometimes help solidify aspects of history for the boys.  And, a few films based on history (e.g. Disney’s Johnny Tremain) are included in our days.



Exploring Our World ~ Science

This year all of the boys are doing life science.  Well, technically, P is doing Biology for high school.  But, it’s all the same types of topics covered which makes life a little easier for me. 


Prentice Hall BiologyFor P, I purchased lesson plans from Kolbe Academy so I wouldn’t be spending hours trying to lay out which chapters from the textbook to cover, which order to do them, and which questions from each chapter he should be doing.  Anyone that’s had a textbook and teacher manual in hand can most likely relate to how easy it is to be overwhelmed and try to cram too much into the school year.  The Kolbe course was highly recommended to me by several Catholic homeschooling mothers who found the book (secular in nature) to be well written and balanced in approach with the lesson plans providing the opportunity to weave our Catholic faith into the class.  I’m seriously considering sticking with Kolbe for science with the boys, now.


This fall we had several co-operative lab courses with a few other Catholic homeschool students working through this particular course.  We plan to do another round of labs as a group later in the Spring semester, too.  I think they are all looking forward to dissection and I know that they loved the hands-on genetics labs using kits from Lego that I won at a homeschool event last year.

Lego DNA and RNA models

R and I began the year using a student textbook and teacher manual combo from Prentice Hall (Life Science), but we are now including some targeted studies using In the Hands of a Child project packs I already own from my lifetime super membership. 


I was provided with a Science 3 from Sonlight from a homeschooler who used it last year and have been doing this with D.  He’s going to be joining his brother in some of the project pack studies, though, as the passed down lesson plans are missing student pages for several weeks in the middle.  So, I’ll have him do the reading and projects, but supplement with the other materials for written work.


How do YOU approach learning about the World Around Us in YOUR homeschool?



fair button2013-001[3]This post is being linked up with other homeschoolers as part of the Virtual Curriculum Fair hosted at Homeschooling Hearts & Minds.  

Exploring Eastern Cultures with Sonlight
by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Cell Unit Study – Mitochondria and Energy by Julie @ Highhill Education

Our Blended Social Studies by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

2013 Virtual Curriculum Fair-Exploring Our World:Social Studies and more Science by Leah C @ As We Walk Along the Road

Exploring Canada by Annette @ A Net In Time

Project Passport: The Middle Ages by Missouri Mama @ Ozark Ramblings

Virtual Curriculum Fair- Exploring Our World by Karyn @ Teach Beside Me

Our Absolutely Positively Favorite History Curriculum Ever by Wendy @ Homeschooling Blessings

Science: learning to use what you are given byPiwi Mama @ Learning & Growing the Piwi Way

Historical Significance by Kristi @ The Potter’s Hand Academy

VCF:  Week 3 The Social Sciences by Lisa @ Golden Grasses

A Trip Around the World:  Homeschool-Style by Nicole @ Schooling in the Sun

Virtual Curriculum Fair ~ Exploring Our World: Biology by Dawn @ Guiding Light Homeschool

Virtual Curriculum Fair: Learning about our World  by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory

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A Catholic mom to four boys, Laura has been homeschooling since 2005. Currently, one son is in school while the others are at home. When not 'working', she is enjoying life up in Alaska.


  1. Very cool, thanks for sharing 😉 We use Homeschool In The Woods Time Travel kits for history.. so fun.. its like an adventure around the world too!
    Dawn Lopez recently posted..Printable Valentine’s Day Craft: Gangnam StyleMy Profile

  2. I love that Lego kit, I’m going to have to look around for it for next year! Thanks for sharing!
    Kristi recently posted..Martin Luther King, Jr. DayMy Profile

  3. How do you like the History of US books? I had been collecting those to use at some point in the future, but was turned off by the author’s pretty liberal bias in the one volume I happened to peruse. The one area I’m really bad about covering in our homeschool is American history, so I’m seriously considering my options.

    Thank you for joining the Virtual Curriculum Fair!
    Susan recently posted..Exploring Eastern Cultures with SonlightMy Profile


  1. […] How We Are Exploring Our World as Homechoolers by Laura O in AK @ Day by Day in Our World […]

  2. […] How We Are Exploring Our World as Homeschoolers shares about the biology studies done during the 2012 – 2013 school year. […]

  3. […] about past years in our homeschool?     Visit How We Are Exploring Our World as Homeschoolers and Learning About The World Around Us which covered the 2011 – 2012 school […]

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