The Washington Project: FREE (One semester) American History/Bible course for High School Junior/Seniors

For many generations, the accepted method of teaching history (going back even to Hebraic roots) did not just involve the study of events but the careful contemplation of biographies, autobiographies and the collected writings of real historical persons—both “great men” and those less successful—who were deeply embedded in, or at the center of, those events.

As we in America have moved away from this method and its inevitable spotlight on character/virtue/morals, not only has interest in history plummeted, but many young people find themselves unwilling or unable to commit to even the most basic study of “dry facts.” What better way to reclaim history and build a firm foundation of Christian character than with the absorbing life story of our nation’s first president, the beloved George Washington!

Enter The Washington Project: Dunamis Study One,  a one semester course for junior and senior high students that uses Flexner’s (illustrated) Washington: The Indispensable Man as a spine. Deemed the “Joshua of America” by Benjamin Franklin, students will learn more about this great man of God with the Flexner book, Getz’ Men of Character: Joshua, Palmer’s Washington and Arnold: A Tale of Two Patriots and passages from their preferred Bible translation. Students will not only analyse what spiritual qualities made Washington successful, but will learn about God’s movements in the plans for this nation.

Besides laying a firm foundation in Christian character, the course offers a deeper understanding of our nation’s founding documents, and with the recommended supplemental history and civics texts (see Teacher’s Edition), could be the key to your student’s future success, whatever their career.

The Teacher’s Edition includes answers to study questions, instructions for projects and papers, a quick guide to memory verses and multiple graphic organizer templates, along with the access key to the LiveBinder portfolio of weblinks. The student copy is meant to be 3-hole punched and incorporated into a notebook along with the assigned projects and papers as a permanent record of learning.

 Download your copy here:
The Washington Project STUDENT COPY               
*Solely for educational purposes, not for resale.

If you have been blessed by this blog or this study, please consider making a donation (via paypal) to  Your contributions will help bring more resources to you, including a second Dunamis Study due to arrive soon.  Also, please feel free to provide suggestions and feedback at the same email address.

Deeper Character: Weaving a Biblical Vine Into Your History Studies


With so much to cover, keeping God in front of your children can be tough. But you can rise to the challenge! One of the best ways to do it is to tuck it into your history studies.

First, you will want to find a good spine. I like the Guerber/Miller series from Nothing New Press: 1) because they are engaging and 2) they revolve around the lives and times of important characters. You will want something similar with a focus on major personalities.

The Famous Men series from Greenleaf will also work, but it doesn’t start until the Greeks and this first book includes many myths that I’d rather look at separately.

Once you’ve settled on a spine, secure copies (free for now) of the Spiritual/Carnal Chart from Student of the Word (SOW) and the Knowing my God booklet from Thoughts & Designs.

You will be using these resources along with the questions below to create a card for each personality you encounter in the spine. I advise that you add an accordion foldable to the back of a large index card to give you the required room.  Use clipart/paper doll/drawings on the front.

Now for the meat—

GO DEEP! Questions:
1. When and where do we find this individual in history? What is the meaning of his/her name?
2. Who and what influenced him the most (occupation, relationships, beliefs, etc.)?

3. How does this person matter to other people or nations? (What was God’s purpose in their life?)

4. Did he obey God? What were the consequences or blessings? How does he bring glory to God?

5. What are the person’s Godly character traits? What are their negative character traits?

[ Use the Spiritual/Carnal chart or think up your own.]

6. What can you learn about God (His attributes), handling your problems or life in general from this individual (Does it change your future plans, prayers)?

[Use the attributes list from the Knowing God booklet or create your own.]

After the cards are filled out, clip to a timeline.  Later, you can play sorting and review games with them, but be sure to take a picture of the timeline first so you can re-pin at a glance.

And do not limit yourself to the people covered in the spine text. There are a wealth of biographies available. Exodus Books has a long list that includes artists, scientists, musicians and martyrs.

And don’t forget about biblical examples! Pastor Greg Laurie’s book Losers and Winners, Saints and Sinners is a good place to start. He covers several figures, such as David and Samson, and explains why they succeeded or failed based on their spiritual race.

The Following God series from AMG is also an excellent resource, especially the workbooks on Old Testament Kings, Men of Faith and Women of the Bible.  You will want to work through these first and then distill for your child. Older teens could work through them alone, but it is better to do as a family.

God bless!


COMING UP=======>More on Bible Study; VSL Resources; and Creative Writing with Boys


Nihongo for the Homeschool

300px-Naruto_newshotIf your child has developed an interest in Manga/Anime, then you might want to consider adding a study of Japanese (Nihongo) to the learning line-up.

Finally, you can put that Naruto crush to good use!

Or may01be it’s Hamtaro that they’re obsessed with. Either way, it’s an especially good language choice for those visual learners due to its pictorial nature.

And best of all, there are lots of FREE resources available on the web so you don’t have to worry about busting the budget.

genkijA good place to start is with the free videos at GenkiJapan [you will have to scroll all they way to the bottom, then look under “Learn Japanese with Songs”]. Warning: these are songs are highly addictive. I once caught myself singing the number song at a corporate training workshop.

Don’t bother with purchasing their pdf downloads. You can get tons of free printables at Hiragana Mama. She has practice sheets for Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji.  Or you might try the Aiuebu site that she recommends for learning/practicing Hiragana.

ScreenshotIt was through her blog that I first found out about the Ready Steady NihonGo! Language project. This is a very well-done, 10 week course for children that is 100% FREE, complete with lesson plans, flashcards and a catchy presentation.

cat_grimm You will want to visit E-Douwa for some online children’s books, and KanKomie for books with audio as well as text.

bg_container_headErin’s Challenge is another good site for videos and lessons (best for older students).  Sometimes, I do not quite like her attitude, but it’s a well-done set of materials from the Japanese Foundation and worth some time.

learn-japanese-sunday2YesJapan has a slew of free resources as well. More content is available with registration, and I whole-heartedly recommend their accompanying course books. I like this program much better than most of the others on the market.

maggie-sensei-profile-avatAlso visit Japanese in Anime & Manga for fun vocabulary and games drawn for the art.  Maggie Sensei is also a hoot with its cute lessons from an adorable dog. [Not too cutesy to be off-putting to boys, however.]

More learning supplements are available at AjALT (Association for Japanese Language Teaching).

momoAnd if you’re willing to shell out a few dollars, consider purchasing the Momo’s Learning Japanese app. It packs a punch for just $2.99.

slimeforestAlso, think about forking over $5/$10 for Slime Forest Adventure. This is a role-playing game that will yield surprising results. Boys love it! And will learn without argument.

I have also heard good things about My Japanese Coach for Nintendo DS, but have never been willing to part with my $70.

gradedreadersI think the Japanese Graded Readers series is a much better investment. Some will want to purchase the Japanese in Mangaland books as well.  No personal experience with these, but they look fabulous.

And that should keep you busy for awhile.

Happy learning, ninjas!!!


Yet to Come—————————-> More on the VSL













Math for Non-Conformists

einmEinstein was not a big fan of school, but he loved math and because he was not boxed into a certain way of thinking, he was able to drop the (math-laden) science world on its ear.  If you’re not familiar with his work, check out The Story of Science: Einstein Adds a New Dimension by Joy Hakim.

But wait a minute, we’re talking math here, not science. And right you are.  It’s just that Einstein’s approach to problem-solving was so interlinked and revolutionary that some jokingly called him an alien. He does make an attractive minion, don’t you think?

While surprisingly not a alien, he was one of the world’s most famous visual thinkers (having pictured his way into his most famous theories).  As the mother of one of those VSL’s myself, my own philosophy veers away from math textbooks and tends to focus on math journaling/notebooking with a good dose of games and problem-solving challenges thrown in. mathjournal

If you want a clearer picture of how this works, skip on over to, where they have kindly reprinted my article [different name, same girl].

In the past, I circled the journaling around a framework of goals from Maximum Math, but with used copies of Sadlier-Oxford’s Progress in Math so affordable, I now use these as a guide.  [Review from Cathy Duffy available here.]  It’s a solid resource with an added bonus of skills update lessons and virtual manipulatives in the  Student Center.

For more on math notebooking, go to Jimmie’s Lens, Math Wire, Integer Jim, and Let’s Play Math.

animatedthinkingcapThen spend some time at the Math Wire Archives, Math Olympiad Problem Collection, and my Enrichment Math list. Lot’s of problem-solving goodies there.

mathattackMath Attack (from my list) is hands-down one of the best resources you can invest in. I love all the Box Cars and One-Eyed Jack books, but especially that one.  Try it out! You might also want to incorporate some of the living books from Living Math.

mathgameAnd last, but not least, math games:

Printables Online Games DS/Apps Board/Card
FileFolderFun BigBrainz DS games Hoagie’s Gifted
Mathfilefoldergames HSClassroom Ipad apps  
Games for Learning ChessKid Teach Thought  
FFPrintables Tux Math CoolMom Tech  
myffgames Prodigy Game    
Mathwire Technology Tidbits    
Ultimate List Math Rider    


COMING SOON——>Resources for the VSL

Let’s Talk About Comics

comicsinbedThey’re not just for reading in bed, though, as Charlie Brown often says “happiness is a stack of comics”. If you’re the parent of a reluctant writer, a visual-spatial learner (VSL) or an artsy child, then they might just be the key to unlocking greater learning.

Yesterday, I wrote about all the reasons why you should incorporate drawing into your curriculum. Now, I’m telling you that on top of those benefits, you can teach sequencing, story structure, dialogue and even grammar with very little effort on your part.

How you ask? Well…

makingcunderstandingcIf your child is a teen, you can start by picking up a copy of Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics and its companion, Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets.  The first book explores the art and history of the medium (in other words, how comics work and why we all love them), while the second gets into the meat of making your own. Both are written in a friendly comic style (ironic, no?), and when combined with the printable layouts from Donna Young, will yield fantastic results.

rochelightfootFor the younger crowd, you’ll want to grab a copy of Art for Kids by Art Roche (got to love the guy’s name) and Cartooning for Kids by Marge Lightfoot. Roche’s book is a gentler approach, covering many of the same topics as Making Comics, but less in-depth and more child-friendly.  Work through it first, and then explore the Lightfoot book to pick up additional skills.

Whichever set of instructional texts you choose, you will want to READ as many comics/graphic novels as possible. Locating those that are, shall we say, appropriately tasteful can be a challenge. My top picks are laid out for you in my Amazon list.

If you find that the kids are struggling for ideas, Neil Yamamoto and Ralph Masiello both have books with interesting characters that you can draw. You may also want to refer back to some of the books that I mentioned yesterday.  I especially like the Ed Emberley ones.  You can make up all kinds of stories with his characters, and they are fairly easy to execute on paper.

perspectivegraphicwriteFor teens who would like to go a bit furtherand produce their own graphic novel (long comic), I suggest Rosinsky’s Write Your Own Graphic Novel along with the Perspective for Comic Book Artists text.

You can practice making shorts at Comic Master or layout longer, more original versions, in Word with the help of these tutorials (bottom of the screen). And while you’re online, you might also want to enjoy the Wormworld Saga, which is an online graphic novel that is mildly addicting. Here’s a cool screenshot:


And one more word on the VSL.  If your child is gifted with this learning style, ask them to turn Bible passages, historical events, or even mathematical concepts into short cartoons for better retention. Beyond flash cards or rote learning, the process of creating their own visual stories will etch the information into their brains for the long-term.

In the future, I will feature a two-part article on curriculum and techniques just for the VSL’s in your life. So stay tuned!


NEXT UP-——————–> Non-traditional Math




Why You Should be Teaching Drawing and How to Do It Well

  childBecause the 3 R’s take priority and then you have to somehow squeeze in history, geography and science–not to mention Bible study–art often falls by the wayside.  Public schools have even dropped it from their curriculum. You as a home educator should not make that mistake.

Drawing should be a priority, and here’s only a few reasons why: 1) it is the gateway to creativity, tapping the right side and building bridges to the left side of the brain, 2) it increases observational skills, motor coordination and problem-solving abilities, 3) it boosts mood/self-image, and 4) it not only improves handwriting, but boosts a child’s performance across all subjects.

horsedrawnThat’s not something that said of many endeavors. You can see why it was a compulsory course in 19th century schools.

Well into the 20th, drawing masters such as  E.G. Lutz instructed pupils in the fine art. He was an inspiration for Walt Disney.  WALT DISNEY!

[Two of his charming texts are up at the Public Domain Review. Go look!]

Now, as to where to begin your own instruction, I have laid out an


Step One: Donna Young’s FREE Drawing 1A printable lesson set. Note the two levels, and choose the one suitable for your child’s age group.

Step Two: Doodle books. My favorites are:  The Boys Doodle Book (there is also a Girl’s version), Oodles of Doodles, Doodle Zoo and Doodles,  These will require both line completion and creative work. You might also like to introduce one of the Anti-Coloring Books which should be an ongoing project throughout the next levels.

boydoodle   oodlesdoodlezoodoodlesanticolor

Step Three: Work through the following Barbara Soloff Levy books— Funny Monsters, People, Cars and Trucks, Animals, and Funny Faces . Your library might carry some of these books or others of hers, but they are such  inexpensive texts that they would good birthday/holiday gifts.

people carsandtrucksanimals funnymonsters  funnyfaces

Step Four: Find as many of Dan Green’s How to Draw 101 series as you can stand (or rather the children can stand). These are hugely popular, especially with boys (but they do have a great fairy book for girls) and are also super-affordable and LOADS of fun.

101monsters 101animalsedpurple edgreen

Once you get a grip on those, try Ed Emberley’s Purple and Green books. He has others in the color series, but these are the best.  Most libraries will have these in hardcover, as they have been around forever, but you will probably want your own copy.  They are that good and will come in handy when you need ideas for comic strips. [We’ll talk about that in a later post.]

Also at most libraries, you can find the 123 Draw books and sometimes the Draw Write Now series. These aren’t essential sets, but some kids can’t get enough of them, and the Draw Write Now books can be tied to your history studies. BONUS.  But…you knew that but was coming…you will probably find that the children prefer the likes of  Learn to Draw Disney or Best of Nick. You might even have a Manga/Chibis fan. Whatever strikes their fancy will work.

Step 5: Where some children will lose interest, but those who push on will benefit greatly from Mark Kistler’s Draw Squad and Imagination Station. Older children should start with these after working through the Donna Young printables.  Now is also good time to complete her Shading Scale exercise.

drawsquad imagination

Step 6: Only motivated students should continue on to the Walter Foster books How to Draw, How to Draw 2, and Drawing Animals, or alternatively Jon Gnagy. If you haven’t done the Donna Young Shading exercise, do it now.

walterf walterf2 walterf3gnagy

Then if you’re really ambitious, tackle Perspective Without Pain and Secrets to Drawing Realistic Faces. 

perspect realisticdrawPast that, you’re an art major and on your way to a professional career. Congrats!


STAY TUNED for————–>A Comics Unit Study

followed by Non-Traditional Math

Christmas Goodies for You


Hello, World!!! I’m back in the blogosphere bringing you the best in homeschooling resources again.  Sorry for the long absence, but you know how life sometimes gets in the way.

I thought I’d kick off the blog with a nice roundup of Christmas goodies for you.  Yes, that’s me standing under the mistletoe waiting for a big, sloppy kiss…from my dog. He’s the only one not too busy working on Lego ornaments to notice.

If you haven’t seen ’em…well, just have a gander at these:

A-Ball A-Ginger A-TreeGorgeous, I know. Thank you, Chris McVeigh for your meticulous plans. These babies are one of the few things that can keep otherwise rowdy boys happy and productively engaged. As, me for, not so good at the Lego thing, but I can whip up a batch of the world’s most decadent fudge while everyone’s building.

Dorothy of the Crazy for Crust blog recently shared her Reese’s Fudge recipe. And it is a doozy. As in, made with Reese’s peanut butter cups + chocolate chips + peanuts.  Yes, please! I’m attaching a clean copy below.

Reese’s Fudge

Reese’s Fudge


  •  16 individual Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (regular  size), unwrapped
  •  3 cups chocolate chips
  •  1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk (I use fat-free)
  •  1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  1 cup chopped peanuts


  1. Line a 9×9” pan with foil and spray with cooking spray. Place the peanut butter cups in an even layer on the bottom of the pan.
  2. Place chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk in a medium saucepan over low heat. Stir until chips and milk are melted together. Keep in over low and don’t walk away!
  3. Once everything is melted together, remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract. Spread evenly over peanut butter cups in prepared pan. Immediately sprinkle with chopped peanuts, pressing lightly to adhere them. Cool until firm. I like to cool the fudge on the counter until it’s close to room temperature, then cover with plastic and place in the refrigerator to harden completely. Cut into squares and serve.


With the help of Dollar Tree, I will be turning these into gifts for some of the hard-to-shop for family members.  Snagged some tins which I will line with parchment paper, and voila gift problem solved.  If you do make the fudge yourself, just be aware that it will contain soy and (of course) peanuts in case someone you know someone who has allergies.

6497164513_d8a56eb9a1_zNext up is ornaments, as our tree is looking kind of pathetic and bare these days. I absolutely love the “Names of Christ” dove ornaments over at Chocolate on my Cranium. [I do realize the irony of the name since I just wrote about chocolate above.] These are made with sculpey clay (or salt dough), rubber stamps and a few baubles. Adorable and a great way to incorporate Christ back into the season!

Creative Ladies Ministry doesnamesofgodcards a “Names of God” version that comes with a printable pdf to be done  on cardstock and adorned with ribbons. Beautiful and also inspired.

manger-sceneNext up, I want a Nativity scene.  But I’m picky. Fortunately, ScrapbookScrapbook has a printable one that is easy to assemble and customizable (Baby Jesus in Mary’s arms or in the manger).

There is also a nifty Nativity Advent Chain that I’d like to incorporate. It tells the nativity story over a course of daily readings, starting Dec. 11. It’s from a Catholic perspective, but we can adjust.

Then thejessetree_promore is the must-have “Jesse Tree Advent Study” from Confessions of a Homeschooler. This is one of the best Jesse Tree sets that I have seen ever. Get it. Now!

 Other sites to visit: The St. Nicholas Center for the real story of Santa and a look at world-wide customs, (not to mention great artwork); Joyful Heart for a study of Christmas-themed (religious) paintings; What’s In the Bible for the story behind 4 popular hymns; Happy Homeschool for a unit on the symbols of Christmas and 123Homeschool for more craft ideas.

adventureI also encourage you to invest in a copy of The ADVENTure of Christmas by Lisa Welchel. It has been invaluable here in reclaiming the season.  If you can only afford one book,  this is the one to get.

And for those who like to do book baskets or just want some good read-alouds, check out Faithful Provisions, Homeschoolshare, Electic Homeschool, Mabilia’s Christmas Book Basket, Three-Sided Wheel, and An Art Family.  You’ll come away with a very long list. Pick and choose your favorites.

Also one last DIY project: Holiday Wreaths. I’ll be making some of these with the angel wings design to give out as gifts.

angel-wings-paper-wreath-by-simplejoyspaperie-1001Please post your pics, if you decide to try one yourself.  Have a very Merry Christmas and God bless!!