• Teaching High School Electives

    By Sabrina Justison on 30 July 2014 / By Age Group, Electives, High School / 0 Comment

    High School should include more than core academics. It's so important for teens to explore areas of special interest, to look into potential careers, to practice critical thinking and to dabble in the arts.

    Here's homeschool help for teaching High School Electives so your student has a rich learning experience. Our blog posts touch on all sorts of subjects like Philosophy, Human Development, Psychology, Drama, and more.

    You're sure to find homeschool help that will give you and your teen new ideas for High School learning that's beyond the 3 R's!

    Homeschool Help - High School Electives

    Click the image to read archive posts about teaching high school electives - so many options!

    Teaching High School Electives

    For excerpts from our unique Christian Worldview Introduction to Psychology, Human Development, World History and Philosophy, Career Exploration, or Drama ebook curriculum resources, visit the EBookstore.

    Need High School Electives homeschool help? There's lots to explore!
    Introduction to Psychology from a Christian Perspective   Career Exploration: Looking for God's leading and God-given talents and experiences   World History and Philosophy   Human Development from a Christian Worldview How to Direct a Homeschool Drama Camp - even if you are a novice director!Acting and Directing - an introductory guide to teaching young actors

    Teaching High School Electives

  • Teaching Foreign Language and Fine Arts in Your Homeschool

    By Sabrina Justison on 29 July 2014 / By Subject, Fine Arts, Foreign Language / 0 Comment

    Among us we have taught 27 kids of our own plus the many kids we have homeschooled in community in learning co-ops and homeschool day school programs.  When you homeschool for that many years, you find some favorite curriculum options and strategies.


    This post shares each sister’s favorite resources for teaching Foreign Language and Fine Arts in our homeschool high schools and middle schools.  (If you’d like to learn more about each sister individually, just click on her name.)

    Teaching Foreign Language and Fine Arts

    Click the image to view archive posts about teaching foreign language in your homeschool.

     Teaching Foreign Language and Fine Arts

    BTW, this is not a sponsored post – none of the curriculum we mention here has asked us to review or advertise their materials.  We just like to share with other homeschoolers what has worked for us over the years.



    Foreign Lanuage:

    Like the McDougal-Littel (now owned by Holt McDougal), Destinos and Standard Deviants DVDs.

    Oldest learned French in high school in classes taught by another than me. Other three have taken my Spanish classes.  Youngest two started out with Latin in classes taught by a dear friend.  The Latin has helped them with the Spanish.

    Since I began language learning in 7th grade, it has been a real passion of mine and something that seems to come fairly easily to most of my kids.  Although this is the easiest for us to have done at home, we have always done them in classes.  It’s imperative to have people to speak with!

    Fine Arts:

    Choirs, voice, piano & guitar lessons, photography (major hours logging), competitions, drama camps with Sabrina, school plays, etc. This has been like breathing for us.



    Foreign Language:

    I could not do this myself!!! We benefited greatly from day-school classes for all kids.  We had tried The Learnables on our own, but we needed the classroom experience.

    Fine Arts:

    My children were all involved in the homeschool choir and madrigal group in our area.  This was led by a very talented musician/director and they learned a great deal about music, working together with others in a choir, and vocal skills.  Art was never our strength, so we really did not do any

     Drama Camps with Sabrina have been an annual piece of the fine arts puzzle.


    Foreign Language:

    I taught my oldest 4 French in co-op settings. My youngest loves Spanish homeschool classes with Senora Kym.

    Fine Arts:

    We LOVE arts!!! Each kids has had different interests and skills to develop over high school.

    Kid 1: Orchestra, Christian rock band

    Kid 2: Choir, Indie band, art

    Kid 3: Choir, Indie band, photography (earned BA in Photography), drama

    Kid 4: Choir, Indie band, art, video production (earned AA in Visual Communication), drama (Sabrina’s drama camps)

    Kid 5: Choir, guitar, worship team at church, homeschool praise band, art and photography homeschool classes, drama (Sabrina’s camps and drama productions), violin.

    Teaching Foreign Language and Fine Arts

    Click the image to view archive posts about teaching fine arts in your homeschool.



    Foreign Language:  

    I started with Latin since that was the language I studied, and when they all had the equivalent of a year or two of Latin (I like Macmillan’s Latin for Americans), I enrolled them in day-school classes for Spanish...Senora Smythe rocks!  One kid is now studying American Sign Language as a Deaf Studies/Elementary Ed double-major in college, and she is bugging me to bring ASL opportunities to homeschoolers in the future.

    Fine Arts:

    Fine Arts is a passion for me, and all of my kids have passions for their own brands of creativity as well.  Cinematography, vocal music, piano, guitar, drums, musical theatre, acting, directing, drawing, photography, painting....all of these and more have been explored.  We mainly find that cooperative endeavors are the most rewarding.  Homeschool Support Group and Community groups are a great, low-cost option.  The Drama Camps I offer each year have been a big part of all of my kids’ high school fine arts experience, too.


    Foreign Language:

    Latin (Henle and Latina Christiana) at home; Spanish and French in day-school classes.

    Fine Arts:

    Choir; Cinematography; Acting and Directing classes at our day-school.


    Foreign Language:

    We have always done foreign language with classes. My children have all studied Spanish, but have also studied French, Cherokee, and Norwegian as “extras”.

    Fine Arts:

    All have been involved in our support group’s choirs, as well as music lessons. Other forms of fine arts have been drama, cinematography, and photography.

    Teaching Foreign Language and Fine Arts

  • Help for Teaching Language Arts

    By Sabrina Justison on 27 July 2014 / By Subject, Lang. Arts - Lit. & Writing / 0 Comment

    Reading and Writing and all that jazz...for some homeschoolers it's a breeze. For others, it's tough!

    Here's homeschool help for those who need fresh ideas, literature and writing help to keep the words and ideas flowing.

    If you need a little boost for your homeschool Language Arts, check out these posts from your 20+-year "veteran" homeschool sisters!

    Homeschool Help for Language Arts

    Help for Teaching Language Arts


    And for ebook curriculum that's full of rich learning but includes NO BUSYWORK, view excerpts of our Literature Study Guides and Writing Guides for Short Stories, Poetry, Essays and Research Papers in the EBookstore.
    Homeschool Help - Language Arts with NO Busywork


    Help for Teaching Language Arts

  • High School Curriculum

    By Sabrina Justison on 26 July 2014 / Curricula, High School / 0 Comment

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    Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale: July 21-28 Save up to 92% on Popular Homeschooling Curriculum, Many from Cathy Duffy's Top 100 Picks!

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    Your high school students will develop academic mastery and intellectual
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    resources for world history and geography, philosophy, home economics, college
    prep, grammar, a creative writing course that even “non-writers”
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    Checkout the items in the High School Bundle:



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  • American Literature in High School -- Must-Reads

    By Sabrina Justison on 25 July 2014 / High School, Lang. Arts - Lit. & Writing / 2 Comments

    American Literature in High School should include more than just the obvious lists you can find on the internet.

    American Literature in High School

    Tom Wolfe's The Right Stuff is a great example of The New Journalism.

    High School American Literature

    It's not hard to find lists of books by American authors when you're deciding on your curriculum for High School English. But oftentimes such lists overlook some wonderful writing that could be a great addition to your American Literature credit.

    Here are some things I included on my son's homeschool reading list this year:


    We chose to use a few poems from each of several highly acclaimed American poets. There are so many to choose from, but our list included Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes, Edgar Allen Poe, Gwendolyn Brooks, Marie Howe, Stephen Dunn, and e.e. cummings.

    New Journalism:

    Tom Wolfe and others ushered in a new type of writing in the 1970s that blended journalism (real stories, carefully researched facts) with a narrative voice that made room for opinion, humor and social commentary. We read The Right Stuff about the space race and enjoyed it immensely. (Warning: some profanity.)


    Speech-writing is a complicated form of writing that should not be ignored by literature students. We read a selection of speeches that included the words of Patrick Henry, Frederick Douglass, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth, Abraham Lincoln, Lou Gehrig, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Margaret Chase Smith, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., Richard M. Nixon, and Ronald Reagan.

    Short Stories:

    Edgar Allen Poe was our choice for a short story focus, but there are so many to choose from! We steered clear of the more famous horror tales and read his mysteries instead.

    Native American Tales:

    These are easy to find on the internet, and made it easy for us to explore oral tradition, the power of nature, personification, anthropomorphism, and morals.

    Modern Christian Fiction:

    We chose Brock and Bodie Thoene and Frank Peretti for our contemporary American Christian authors. Their books gave us the chance to explore ethical dilemmas in depth.

    High School American LiteratureScience Fiction/Philosophy:

    Isaac Asimov's I, Robot made us think about technology in a very interesting way! Highly recommended!


    This New England-based movement of philosophy led to much of the American identity as individuals with a responsibility to God, to man, to the Earth, and to themselves. We read Walden by Henry David Thoreau, and Little Women by Louisa May Alcott with a focus on the transcendental elements of the March girls' upbringing (Did you know Alcott's father was a lesser-known member of that Concord, MA community?).

    Your Turn:

    What works by American authors do you think need a plug so people won't overlook them?


    American Literature in High School

  • High School American Literature 1: Uncomfortable Ideas

    By Sabrina Justison on 24 July 2014 / High School, Lang. Arts - Lit. & Writing / 0 Comment

    Considering teaching American Literature in your high school this year? While American authors have a reputation for being downers, I found these titles to be full of great ideas for worthwhile discussion.

    High School American Lit

    High School American Literature

    Homeschoolers know that a High School English curriculum should include American Literature (ideally using good study guides that enrich the reading but never kill the story with busywork). Unfortunately, many of the titles by famous American authors are known for being depressing, godless, and sometimes truly offensive. The good news is, I found while teaching American Lit. to my high school junior this year that there are some really terrific choices for our book list, and this series of posts will share some of our favorites with you.

    Here was my dilemma as I prepared a curriculum for High School American Literature:

    How could I be truthful in teaching my son,

    refusing to whitewash the harsh realities of our nation's troubled reality (past and present) as presented in works of great literature

    WITHOUT wallowing in a series of depressing, godless, and offensive books?

    Here was the answer that presented itself as I prayed and prepared:

    I can choose writing that focuses on redemption in the midst of things that are ugly.

    And in doing so, I could point my son to the glory of God

    Who takes what the enemy intends for evil and works it in our lives for good instead.

    Books like John Knowles' rich coming-of-age story A Separate Peace would honestly present the fact that young men are often very confused, and a World War only makes things harder for High School American Literaturethem to make sense of themselves and the world, but it would also celebrate the beauty of learning hard truths about oneself and facing the complexities of honest relationships with others.

    We could read well-written account of injustices done to people of color, to immigrants from other countries, yet not be in despair because plays like A Raisin in the Sun and books like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn do not stop with the honest presentation of the problem, but instead go on to explore solutions (even costly ones) that just might really work...and make us better people in the process of trying.

    High School American Literature is NOT all depressing.

    Choose titles wisely. Read with your mind and spirit turned on so as not to miss evidence of the redemptive work of God in a broken world. And learn a whole lot about good writing, the effective use of literary devices, rich characters, dialogue and dialect, and so much more! Keep reading this series for more ideas (including writing assignments for high schoolers based on the books they read) in American Literature.

    High School American Literature

  • Combining Credits: Literature, History Elective, Fine Arts

    By Vicki Tillman on 23 July 2014 / Electives, Fine Arts, High School, Lang. Arts - Lit. & Writing, News, Social Studies & More, Transcripts / 2 Comments

    It is homeschool advising season and I'm enjoying looking back at various ways of combining credits for great high school experiences. Today I'd like to share how we created useful and inspirational combined credits for my youngest.

    Combining Credits: Literature, History Elective, Fine Arts

    Seth is a musician. He has played guitar and drums on church worship team for years. He is a thinking musician and wants to know how and why we do contemporary-style worship . So starting off high school with a good foundation in Christian experience and the how's-and-why's of worship was a good use of his time. We ended up combining credits for his literature, history elective, and fine arts in a inspirational and meaningful way.


    7 Sister Sabrina was teaching Great Christian Writers in our homeschool group classes. My son, Seth, and I were excited that he'd have a chance to start his high school years with some really meaningful (and some of it downright fascinating) literature.

    In his group classes (which he loved), they covered  these writers (using Sabrina's excellent study guides):

    The Practice of the Presence of God- Brother Lawrence

    Pilgrim's Progress- John Bunyan  Pilgrim's Progress Study Guide $3.99 and NO busywork

    God's Smuggler- Brother Andrew

    Born Again- Chuck Colson

    Joni- Joni Eareckson Tada

    Something Beautiful For God (Mother Teresa)- Malcolm Muggeridge

    The Hiding Place- Corrie ten Boom

    and several others inspired Seth by the Christlike characters portrayed (and some truly adventurous reading with Brother Andrew)!

    History Elective   APA Style Research Paper Writing Guide

    To understand his church's passion for contemporary worship, Seth needed to understand the history of Christian worship. He started with ancient Hebrew worship and worked his way through the birth of the church, up to the Middle Ages. (He stopped there for the year and finished the study in senior year.) He used The Oxford History of Christian Worship, The Story of Christian Music and more. Then he wrote the 10-page research paper that our umbrella school required for Language Arts on the topic. (You can find a copy of the paper as a sample paper in 7 Sisters APA Style Research Paper Writing Guide.)

    Fine Arts

    To tie everything together, Seth earned a fine arts credit in Church Worship Theory. He logged 68 hours in watching instructional videos by Paul Baloche and a number of others (even a fun "how-to write a worship song in 5 minutes" by Blimey Cow).He studied Music Theory for a solid foundation. He filled in the time he needed for his 135 hours for Carnegie credit with his practice time on the worship team.

    By combining credits for literature, history elective, and fine arts, Seth finished the year, grounded in Christian experiences and solid foundation for the callings God has blessed him with.

    In case you haven't seen it: just for fun, here's my vlog on the perfect transcript.


  • Combining Credits: Literature, Geography, History, Writing

    By Vicki Tillman on 22 July 2014 / High School, Homeschool Information, Lang. Arts - Lit. & Writing, News, Social Studies & More, Transcripts / 0 Comment

    Don't forget -- this week only! Pre-bundled curriculum for High School, Middle School, Little Ones, Moms, Charlotte Mason PLUS the unique Build-Your-Own-Bundle option. Great savings on curriculum you love -- including a couple of titles from 7 Sisters!
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    Combining Credits

    Literature, Geography, History, and Writing! They must show up a number of times on a homeschool high school transcript. Here's how to work combining credits!

    As academic advisor to the local homeschool high schoolers for the last 18 years, I've had the blessing of helping teens and parents develop courses that combine interests, gifts, and useful academic experiences. One of the teens needed to earn a .5 credit elective history credit, his required .5 geography credit, and a literature course that wouldn't hypnotize him with boredom.

    Combining Credits: Literature, Geography, History, Writing

    We came up with a course that included combining credits to maximize his interests in the World Wars. This is what it looked like:



    Tony (not his real name) was required by our local umbrella school to read 25 real books for his literature credit. Tony did not love reading but he was fascinated by the World Wars. We decided to combine credits for his history, geography, and literature. Thus his book list would be totally World War related for this school year. Here are some categories:



    Tony could demonstrate his reading comprehension without wasting his time on busywork by choosing  a few literature study guides. Two good ones were:


    A Separate Peace by John Knowles     

    A Separate Peace Literature Study Guide $3.99 Good learning No busywork


    The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom


    He filled out his list with books he truly loved on weapons, airplanes, timelines, battle strategies, and biographies and speeches of famous people from the wars. Some of these were audiobooks that he played when he traveled in the car to various homeschool and church activities.



    Tony combined credits for his .5 credit in geography by reading 4 books on World War locations and maps PLUS logging 37 hours in hands-on activities.

    The 4 books became part of the booklist for his Literature credit, so he was getting 2 for 1 in his combining credits efforts.

    The 37 logged hours included intensive map work illustrating the progress of the wars and several battles (with detailed topography and ecosystems noted). In Tony's opinion, this was FUN geography!



    Tony was able to utilize combining credits strategy for history and literature. Our local umbrella school allowed him to count 16 of his books from his literature list (not the 4 books used for geography), along with a summary paper for each as his history credit.    

    The Hiding Place Study Guide $3.99 What your student needs to know and no more than that!

    Tony went above and beyond the requirement by logging nearly 50 hours in museum visits, attending some actual re-enactments, and interviewing some relatives who were alive back in World War II. His combining credits efforts made his history hours engaging and purposeful.



    Tony went further in combining credits by writing his required 10-page research paper (umbrella school language arts credit requirement) on the World Wars. He wrote his history-book summaries as essays or reports, thus fulfilling his remaining writing requirements.

    I can't say that Tony loved the writing part of this process, but he loved the rest. His work at combining credits in literature, geography, history, and writing made sense to him. It was the perfect combination for Tony!

    For another idea on combining credits, check out yesterday's post!

    One way to capture interviews of people who lived in a time period that your homeschooler is studying is with an Oral History paper. Check out Sabrina's vlog.







  • Combining Credits: History, Art, and Literature for Homeschool High School

    By Vicki Tillman on 21 July 2014 / Electives, Fine Arts, High School, Lang. Arts - Lit. & Writing, News, Social Studies & More, Transcripts / 0 Comment

    It's time! It's time! It's finally time! Ready to save an AMAZING amount of money on high school homeschool curriculum? Look at this! Click the image for more details. Bundles are available for every age group, or use the Build Your Own Bundle option and create a unique set of resources that fits your family perfectly. Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale - Up to 92% Off!

    Here are wise ways to plan for high school courses for the fall: Combining Credits.

    Advising season has begun! I have served for 18 years as an academic advisor for homeschooled high schoolers. Today I would like to share one of my experiences (names and identifying information changed, of course). Combining Credits History, Art, Literature on the Homeschool Transcript Some years past, I met with a homeschool senior and her mother. She had chosen wisely with her high school credits over the high school years. For her 12th grade year, she only had an elective history and language arts to complete- she could fill out her requirements with courses within her interest areas. She wanted to concentrate on her involvement in the local Civil War re-enacting community and some solid career exploration- apprenticing the the office administrator at a local business. In order to steward well her time, we decided to combine her history and literature courses with a Civil War History, Literature, and Art course.

    This is how it played out:

    Civil War Literature/Language Arts: -25 books over the year, including 10 historical novels, 5 biographies, 10 non-fiction books on the culture, fashion, religious movements, and politics of the time. -Her papers, stories, and research papers on Civil War topics (her 10-page research paper explained fashions of the era) -Public speaking (talking to groups at re-enactments) -Vocabulary, grammar (didn't quite fit the Civil War topic, but had to be done)

    Civil War History -Our umbrella school required approximately 16 books with summaries for a real-book credit in history. Her rich Literature course could be double-counted as history.

    Art -She also 68  logged hours illustrating Civil War fashions and sewing some era-accurate dresses of the time for a Civil War Fashions art half-credit. This homeschool high schooler's senior year proved to be memorable and rewarding. After high school, she went on to the community college where she specialized in office administration (a career that allowed her to keep her Civil War re-enactment involvement).

    What are some interesting courses your homeschool high school student is working on?

    Our 7 Sisters Literature Study Guides help homeschoolers build comprehension and inferential skills WITHOUT busy work! They are "levelable" so that average high schoolers and honors high schoolers can all adapt the learning experiences to meet their needs. $3.99 makes them affordable- download some today! What history is your homeschooler studying next year? Check our Literature Study Guides and download one that you can double log!

    Here are a few of our high schoolers' favorites: God's SmugglerGod's Smuggler Study Guide The Good Earth Les Miserables The Hiding Place  

    Watch Sabrina's vlog on double-logging credits:

  • High School Career Exploration: Our Experience, Part 2

    By Sabrina Justison on 19 July 2014 / By Age Group, High School, News / 0 Comment

    This is the second in a 2-part series. For the first part, click here - High School Career Exploration: Our Experience.

    high school career exploration

    High School Career Exploration

    High School Career Exploration: Our Experience Part 1 left us ready to look seriously into three career fields:

    * Chef/Restaurant Industry

    * Architecture

    * Fitness/Personal Training

    We found people we knew who were working in these fields or had connections to people working in them, and picked their brains. One of the most powerful of those brain-picking sessions was with a friend of my older children who had just finished chef school and loves working in his field. He came to the house and shared glowing stories about his time in culinary school, about what he loves about the restaurant industry, about all the various special disciplines you can study. It was great fun, and as we were winding down I figured visiting some culinary schools was going to be added to our calendar. Gordon asked Jonah, "So what thoughts do you have, now that I've shared my experience? You've asked lots of specific questions, but what's your gut feeling? Think you might want to go further with this?"

    With no hesitation, Jonah said, "I feel bad saying this because I can tell you love it, Gordon, but no. I actually think I'm definitely taking this option off my list."

    I was so surprised! I asked him why.

    He said that it had never occurred to him how fast-paced/high-pressure the restaurant environment would be (he's a pretty laid back guy) or how much his nights and weekends would be totally dominated by his work if he pursued this career. His time with family and friends is very important to him, and the schedule in this field would not mesh well with others who work more traditional daytime hours. He said he thinks he'll keep his cooking for fun and entertaining his friends, but culinary school was off the list.

    What a valuable opportunity! Finding out you definitely DON'T want to pursue a career (and why) is just as valuable as making your choice to settle on one that you DO want to pursue.

    Our investigation of Architecture started with looking at the required courses for this major at several universities. Jonah quickly decided that these required courses did not interest him enough to warrant the time and money needed to go this route.

    Our investigation of school options in the Fitness field revealed that several options were available. Everything from independent intensive programs (less than one year) to prepare for the National Certification Test from 4-year Bachelor degrees in Exercise Science could be had...with several variations in between.

    We met with people working in the field and learned of the need for perseverance in building personal client lists, excellence in people skills, a teaching mindset as each client has different needs and unique learning styles (remember the personality test and Keirsey report that indicated he was a natural teacher?), and flexibility in work schedules. All of this was really sounding like a good fit to Jonah!

    He has made his choice and just graduated from high school. He begins his 1-year Certificate Program at our local college (very affordable option) with plans to extend for a 2nd year to complete his Associate Degree in Exercise Science. After that, he has the option to transfer those credits in to any of the state universities to be an incoming Junior in an Exercise Science Bachelor's program if he wants to.

    His very intentional decision to work on high school career exploration in 10th grade resulted in him learning a lot about himself, ruling out several careers he thought he might enjoy, and educating himself on the various ways he could pursue the field he's chosen to go after now that high school is over.

    Do we know for sure that this career will be "successful"?

    Of course not! Life doesn't offer those kind of guarantees.

    But we do feel confident that he is starting in a wise direction, taking smart steps after high school graduation.

    And we hope sharing our experience may encourage some of you to be intentional as you look into high school career exploration!


    High School Career Exploration

    Jonah's journey started with Vicki Tillman's Career Exploration Workbook. Download here for $6.99.


    High School Career Exploration

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