Exploring America – History Curriculum For High School Homeschoolers

Finding a good history curriculum for high school was one of the greatest challenges I faced when I was being homeschooled. It seemed like most of the good history books stop at the Civil War or World War II. What about modern history? It’s hard to find a history book from a Christian perspective about modern history. Have you run into this problem, too? This difficulty has been overcome with a high school history curriculum from Notgrass Company. Exploring America by Ray Notgrass is an amazing curriculum that is exciting as well as educational. It begins with Christopher Columbus and ends at the present time. Each day is broken up into short concise lessons.

Sometimes history books seem to make the exciting events sound like nothing more than boring facts, Mr. Notgrass has an engaging writing style that makes the events come to life. There are also daily assignments that encourage the students to dig deeper. Sometimes they will read a document, speech, or hymn from American Voices, which is a 400+ page companion book that comes with the curriculum. Other times they will look up relevant Bible verses and also memorize verses. Writing assignments (including writing a research paper) are also part of the assignments. Students who finish the course will have three credits, one in history, one in English, and one in Bible. How’s that for hitting 3 birds with one stone?

This book is essential for every high school student and will give them the tools to take an in-depth look at American history from a Biblical perspective. If you are looking for a really good American history high school curriculum look no further. Exploring America has filled a big gap in the history curriculum for homeschoolers. Exploring America is the best high school curriculum for American history I have ever seen! I wish it had been around when I was in high school.

Exploring America by Ray Notgrass

Reviewed by Amy Puetz

The Peanut Butter Family Home School

Have you ever heard of home schooling being associated with peanut butter? If you’re like me, I hadn’t either until I read this book years ago. In fact, I’ve read it several times now, over the years, because of the author’s sense of humor and witty reflection, of what life is sometimes like for a home school family. He reveals that home schooling “is full of surprises, challenges, and blessings.”

Okay, but what is the connection with peanut butter you ask? Bill Butterworth associates home schooling and peanut butter with life. He feels life is very much like peanut butter. At different times it can be smooth or crunchy. But most importantly, like peanut butter on two slices or bread (or anything else it touches), home school families stick together.

Now, what would you call the house of a home school family that buzzes with constant activity, houses 4 young children, 2 adults, and a new baby on the way? Why Union Station, of course! As Bill says, “What else could you possibly call a home that’s like a train depot? It fits so well. Our home has all the craziness of a terminal, yet it also provides the place to rest between trips. So it was settled: Union Station.”

The chapter titles of this book are rather intriguing as well. Try to picture in your mind, Heppie Bread, Home-School Trivial Pursuit, Return to Walton’s Mountain, The Tale of a Whale, The Union Spy Station, and the list goes on.

As Pastor, radio Bible teacher, and author Chuck Swindoll states, “I happily cast my vote for the real-life Peanut Butter Family. It is warm-hearted, fun-loving, always- encouraging statement of affirmation on the value of being in touch with your kids. What I appreciate most is that it comes from a home where the parents practice a lot more than they preach. You’ll love it.”

Do you want a book that makes you smile? Read this one! I’m glad I did!!

Free Home school Science Curriculum Experiment – How Pulleys and Levers Work

I never fail to add simple machines as a home school curriculum topic, as simple machines are interesting as well as intriguing. Levers and pulleys are two types of simple machines that help to multiply force. They enable you to do more work with less force.

To understand what a lever is imagine a see-saw in the park. The plank that tilts from side to side is a lever, and the support in the center of the plank on which the plank pivots is the fulcrum. To understand what a pulley is imagine the wheel fixed over a well with a rope over it that helps to draw water from the well. A pulley is nothing but a wheel with a groove that rotates on an axle.

Levers and pulleys help lift or pull heavy objects. The trick with levers and pulleys is that the farther you are from the fulcrum or the axle as compared to the heavy objects, the lesser the force you will require to lift or pull the object. I have tons of exciting experiments based on simple machines that could make your home school curriculum fun and easy.

With a lever you can lift a person three times your weight; only you will have to move three times away from the fulcrum as compared to the person’s distance from the fulcrum. For example, if you weigh 100 pounds, you can lift a 300 pound person who is standing 1 meter away from the fulcrum. You just have to stand 3 meters away from the fulcrum. Similarly, you can single-handily lift 5 people who are standing 10 feet away from the pulley by standing 50 feet away. Aren’t you amazed at the power of levers and pulleys?

Before we move on to our exciting experiment you must understand what the term ‘mechanical advantage’ or ‘leverage’ means. Mechanical advantage is the maximum load you can lift with the same effort on your part. After the first experiment you will learn that the more the levers the more load you can lift with the same effort.

Now here’s my favorite home school curriculum experiment!

The Dowel Pulley Experiment: You will need two of your friends, two strong 18 inch dowels and a slippery nylon rope for this experiment. Have your friends stand facing each other with each friend grasping a dowel with both their hands at chest level. The dowels must be held horizontally, at the same height from the floor and parallel to each other. Let the two dowels be at least 2 feet apart.

Now tie one end of the nylon rope firmly to the dowel between the hands of one friend, seeing to it that you tie it as close to one hand as possible. Now pass the rope over the other dowel and pull it from under, bringing it over the first dowel. Wind the rope around both dowels in such a way that two complete loops are formed crisscrossing in the form of an ‘M.’ Now hold the free end of the nylon rope tightly and ask both your friends to pull the dowels apart while you prevent them from doing it. Can they do it?

Now tug at the rope and ask your friends to resist your pull. Are the two of them strong enough to resist your tug at the rope?

Next, Wind the rope around both dowels in such a way that four complete loops are formed. Now repeat the tug of war. You will see that more the loops the easier it becomes for you to defeat your friends. What does this tell you about pulleys?

Note that the dowels act as pulleys. The more loops mean more pulleys. The more pulleys mean less effort you have to put in.

If you enjoyed this experiment, there are many more that you could ask your teacher to add to your home school curriculum. Fore more great science experiments and activities visit the free “Home school Parent’s Guide to Teaching Science” at the link below.