20 Best Tips
Teaching Textbooks

LIFEPAC – History and Geography Review

Alpha Omega is a blog sponsor and we received this product free for the purpose of reviewing it. All opinions expressed are my personal, honest opinions. You can read my full disclosure policy for more details.

This year we had a little switch up in one of our curriculum choices. The vendor halls at conventions are always a place I love to browse and get a hands-on look at various companies and their products. I’ll admit that Alpha Omega isn’t typically a booth I visit – we’re in our thirteenth year of homeschooling and many of the pieces we use are already on our shelves. 

With our oldest three moving on to high school classes and using their own texts, our group history time has ended, and Kaleb, our sixth grader, needed something that would fit his learning style a little better. 

Enter Alpha Omega’s LIFEPAC History and Geography units.

For the few days at a homeschool convention this past spring, I reviewed the program, talked (a lot) to one of the representatives at the booth, and went home to talk with Kaleb about it. A short while later I was asked if I would be interested in reviewing LIFEPAC and decided we would love to give it a try.

A Little about LIFEPAC History and Geography

 

LIFEPAC History & Geography develops students’ understanding of and appreciation for God’s activity as seen in the record of man and his relationships. The LIFEPAC History & Geography worktext-based curriculum targets this goal by focusing on six major themes: Geography (World and American), History (World, American, and Religious), Government, Citizenship, Economics, and Social Sciences.

Our Thoughts on LIFEPAC History & Geography

As soon as our LIFEPAC arrived, Kaleb and I sat down to go through the set so he could get a good grasp on how the upcoming year looked. One thing we both love is the way each set is broken up into ten individual units to go through over the course of the year. For our boy who struggles with being overwhelmed by a lot of text, the breakdown into smaller chunks was right away a huge plus

Kaleb’s reading struggles were one of the primary reasons that I personally wanted to make the switch to LIFEPACs. I knew he would enjoy the format (he is a fill-in-the-blank kind of boy), but being able to break the reading up into smaller daily bites with a visible end is definitely something that encourages him to keep going. 

Each unit and sections within the unit begin with clear objectives and vocabulary words for kids to focus on throughout their reading. These have been handy for us to refer back to through the reading and review times. Download a sample of the History & Geography LIFEPACs here

The text is broken up into segments that are followed up with various forms of review activities (fill in the blank questions, true/false answers, multiple choice, etc…) so children can see what they are learning. Each LIFEPAC unit is broken up into smaller sections. Each section then has a short self-test to review all that has been studied.

Once the individual LIFEPAC is completed, there is an overall test for that unit (see the video for further explanation). The test is included in the center of each unit and can be removed prior to children starting. 

All LIFEPACs are full of color and while I know I’ve mentioned it before, we love the “grab and go” aspect of this curriculum. Because the text is broken up into smaller books, it’s easy to pull the one we are working with and not worry about grabbing a huge textbook. 

The smaller units allow for a feeling of accomplishment as one is completed, giving both Kaleb and myself an added bump of encouragement. We are currently ten weeks through our school year and already working through unit 5 – ahead of schedule! 

Although he hasn’t been working through the reading on his own yet (we typically trade off reading paragraphs), the format would be great for kids that can work more independently: they could read the text and answer questions on their own. Personally I enjoy reading the text along with Kaleb and making sure he is understanding everything (and let’s face it, sometimes there are words I can’t even pronounce!). :) 

Over the years, we have only used a few pieces of curriculum that are not reusable (or reproducible), so while the workbook layout is a bit of a switch for us, right now the convenience of the program is definitely a plus and one we are planning to continue using. 

What Mom’s Need to Know…

  • Teacher’s Guide – The teacher’s guide provides an overview on how the LIFEPACs are laid out, along with additional teaching tips and extensions for each unit, answers to all of the unit questions, and alternate unit tests. Give yourself 10-15 minutes to read through the first section and get a handle on the set.
  • No experience needed – All of the answers are provided in the teacher’s guide in addition to helpful discussion questions, tips, and lesson plan layouts. It’s truly an “open and go” curriculum. 
  • Scope and Sequence – Alpha Omega provides LIFEPACs in a variety of subject areas, and each LIFEPAC shares the scope and sequence for that specific subject.
  • Christian Worldview – Text is written from a Christian worldview.

Start Learning With LIFEPAC

Visit Alpha Omega (aop.com) to learn more about LIFEPAC and other curriculum options offered. Recommended ages for the LIFEPACS begin in kindergarten and extend through high school – choose the level that best fits your child’s learning.

Don’t forget to download the sample of the History & Geography LIFEPACs here for full information on what is covered at each level.

12th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Picks (2018-2019)

There definitely aren’t as many textbooks in the pile this fall, but Laurianna is still hard at work on her classes. 

At home Laurianna is finishing up one class (Pre-Calculus) and taking four fall classes at our community college. We haven’t determined how many classes she will be taking in the spring yet and have plans to meet with an advisor at the college she would like to eventually attend to decide what courses would be best for her (and not need to be retaken). 

The current plan, pending Laurianna’s applications to colleges, is for her to work on the RN to BSN program offered through our local community college and then transfer over to the school she would like to complete her degree with. She will be applying to that school as well this fall (if they would like to offer scholarships, we are more than happy to accept), but so far the community college and then transfer is looking like our best option.

By the end of the fall semester, Laurianna will have 29 credits toward her high school diploma and have completed eight of the courses toward her RN program requirements at the community college.

Fall Semester

  • MathAmazon textbook rental(finishing)
  • ScienceMicrobiology and lab (community college)
  • English CompositionArguing About Literature 
  • Philosophy/Ethics: Ethical Choices
  • Sociology: Marriages, Families, and Relationships
  • SAT – taking October 2019
  • Kaplan for nursing – taking prior to November

Spring Semester 2019

  • TBD

 

12th Grade Curriculum Choices

Last year Laurianna started and stopped Teaching Textbooks because we couldn’t install the disks on her Chromebook and the other laptop she uses was literally falling apart. We were able to switch to the 3.0 online version of Pre-Calculus and she is now working on that since it works on her Chromebook wonderfully!  I’m really excited about this switch since I can log into the account at the same time and view the lesson, and we can access from any computer, not just one specific (which we had to do with CD-rom version).  

We were fortunate this semester because one of her books (Microbiology) was included in the cost of her class enrollment, and the other books we were able to rent through either Amazon textbook rental (referral link) or through the community college. We’ve found that Amazon has been by far the cheapest for rentals, but they don’t always have all the books either since the professors sometimes like to choose obscure books. 

 

Does High School Have You Scared?

If homeschooling high school is worrying you, don’t miss the free middle and high school planning printables and map out your middle and high school years!

Homeschooling in High School Middle and High School Planning How to Choose Homeschool Curriculum

If you are new to homeschooling and aren’t sure where to begin in choosing homeschool curriculum, please don’t let this post overwhelm you! Here are a few posts that you might find helpful as you discover what is best for your family. Be sure to check out the entire Homeschool Basics series for answers to more frequently asked homeschool questions.

 

Curriculum in Year’s Past

In case you are interested in seeing the curriculum that brought us to this point, here’s a peek at what we’ve used with Laurianna the past few years:

See What the Other Kids Are Up To…

Click one of the images below to see curriculum picks for our other children.

10th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Picks (2018-2019)

So far, McKenna has earned a total of 13.5 credits toward high school diploma. At the end of her 10th grade year she will have completed 6.5 more credits, making a total of 20.5 credits toward her diploma. Several of her classes will require a bit more from her (hello, we’re looking at you chemistry).

McKenna did a fairly good job establishing her own routine last year, but this year we are going to tweak it a little bit and set it up together. McKenna has a tendency to over-plan and over-do and be very thorough in her work. Sometimes a little too much (gotta love the girl). This year I’m hoping to help her establish a little more balance so she isn’t quite as hard on herself, since she tends to stress herself (and those around her) out. 

Rule #1 for the year though is to make sure her cell phone (and mine) are put aside during our school time. Distraction can be a huge impediment to our day, so the phone will disappear fairly early in the day and provide incentive for her to get through her work. :) 

We will be working with one other family in a small co-op to complete our chemistry review and labs as well as our literature class.

10th Grade Curriculum Choices

Credits to earn: 6.5

Algebra 2

We’ve used Teaching Textbooks in past years and this year we will be continuing, but instead of using the typical textbook/CD-rom we are switching to the Algebra 2 3.0 online version. I’m really excited about this switch since I can log into the account at the same time and view the lesson, and we can access from any computer, not just one specific (which we had to do with CD-rom version).  

Government/Economics

Each of these classes will take place over a semester (each a 1/2 credit). We’re planning to start with government and will then move into economics. We’ve used Notgrass other years (for different subjects), but haven’t used the Government or Economics specifically. McKenna really enjoyed the format of the books last year, so we’re looking forward to the continuity and familiarity of the layout. 

Spanish

We’re switching to a new Spanish curriculum this year. I did a lot of research over the last year trying to figure out what to use with McKenna (Spanish with Laurianna wasn’t one of our favorite subjects at all and we really disliked the format of what we started with – and that the program had no support since it was bought out by another company). 

A few friends recommended Breaking the Barrier, and while it is not online, we’re hoping the workbook format will be a little more user friendly for us overall and easier to follow. 

Chemistry

This is another new-to-us curriculum. After Carisa’s son used it last year, we sat down and reviewed it with her and decided to make the switch to this program. Truthfully, I’m a little nervous about this class since Laurianna went through chemistry in a co-op setting. BUT, if anything, we have a great teacher’s manual and will have fun working on experiments/labs together. :) 

Literature

The last few years we have used two of the literature programs by Janice Campbell and love the format of them. This year we are using her British Literature program. It isn’t one we’ve used before, but has a few books I can’t wait to dig into with McKenna. 

Drama

McKenna is really excited to be taking another theatre class at our local community college. Each week she is participating in workshops, vocal training, and at the end of the semester the group will be performing the musical, Urinetown (I know it sounds crazy, but it looks hilarious). Because this is an intense class with a lot of in-class and out of class hours (and she will be one of the leads!!), she will earn 1/2 credit for the class. If she decides to participate in the spring semester class as well, we will bump it up to a full credit. 

Poetry

This year we will also be working through the Grammar of Poetry from Compass Classroom. There is a local workshop that will tie-in with what we are learning in the program, and McKenna will earn .5 a high school credit for this class. 

Curriculum in Year’s Past

In case you are interested in seeing the curriculum that brought us to this point, here’s a peek at what we’ve used with McKenna the past few years:

Planning the Middle and High School Years

Overview planning pages for middle and high school

One thing that has been a huge help to me in mapping out the upcoming years with our kids  is this middle school and high school planner. Essentially I am able to get an extended view and map out the future years to see what we need to work on and when it might fit in best -and make sure we aren’t missing anything overall. 

If you are new to homeschooling and aren’t sure where to begin in choosing homeschool curriculum, please don’t let this post overwhelm you! Check out the entire Homeschool Basics series for answers to more frequently asked homeschool questions.

Homeschool Teaching Styles and Philosphies.png Identifying Children's Learning Styles copy How to Choose Homeschool Curriculum

See What the Other Kids Are Up To…

Click one of the images below to see curriculum picks for our other children.

8th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Picks

My word for Zachary this year is FOCUS. He is a boy with many interests who can excel in many things, but sometimes his focus can be hard to refine. Along with the focus, we are honing in on doing things well and completely (the first time).

He is a teenage boy. :) 

Both of our girls worked on a few more credits their 8th grade year, but if anything I’m realizing that each of our kids has different learning curves, interests, and also doesn’t need to start on credits as early. Yes, it’s a bonus, but not a necessity. That said, Zachary isn’t in the same place academically (and that’s perfectly fine), so he will be working on 3.5 credits overall throughout the year. 

Below you’ll get a peek at our 8th grade homeschool curriculum choices – a look at the new (and favorite) programs we are using for the upcoming school year. An * depicts curriculum/programs that are new to us this year. 

*feed readers, please click over to the blog for some of the additional links to curriculum

8th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices

Credits to earn: 3.5

 

Math

We have the paper version of the Algebra 1 book, but this year Zachary will be working on the online version of Teaching Textbooks Algebra 1 (3.0). It follows along with the book, and I’m excited that I can log in on my laptop and see what he is doing since everything is stored online! (He’ll earn 1 credit for this class.)

Geography

Another program we will be using again is North Star Geography. In the past we have worked through it in one year, but this time we are choosing the two year schedule for Zachary. When completed, he will have earned a full credit as a high school class. 

Language & Spelling

Zachary will be using Learning Language Arts Through Literature Gray, and his reading will be tied in with his language/grammar program. There are four main books as the focus of the curriculum: Daddy-Long-Legs, A Lantern in Her Hand, Eric Liddell, and God’s Smuggler.   We will likely add on an extra book or two over the course of the year, but these are the four we will start with. 


This year we will also be working through the Grammar of Poetry from Compass Classroom. There is a local workshop that will tie-in with what we are learning in the program, and Zachary will earn .5 a high school credit for this class. We will also be continuing with All About Spelling Levels 6  for spelling. 

Writing

We will be continuing with the second half of WriteShop (Zachary completed WriteShop Basic Set 1 last year). Used it with both girls and LOVE it! 

Science

Both Laurianna and McKenna used Physical Science from Exploration Education. When they worked through the program, they were in a smaller group co-op setting, so this year will be a little different with Zachary doing it with me each week, but he is really looking forward to the program and the hands-on projects.

Swimming

Zachary and Kaleb have both asked to swim the full year again. With Zachary’s growth the last year, he has been dropping time like crazy and is hoping to qualify for nationals (he did last year), but this year will definitely be more difficult for him. The last few months have seen him becoming more focused on what he enjoys and loves and how it will impact him in the future (thinking ahead to college – yikes!).

Curriculum in Year’s Past

In case you are interested in seeing the curriculum that brought us to this point, here’s a peek at what we’ve used with Zachary the past few years:

Planning the Middle and High School Years

Overview planning pages for middle and high school

One thing that has been a huge help to me in mapping out the upcoming years with our kids  is this middle school and high school planner. Essentially I am able to get an extended view and map out the future years to see what we need to work on and when it might fit in best -and make sure we aren’t missing anything overall. 

If you are new to homeschooling and aren’t sure where to begin in choosing homeschool curriculum, please don’t let this post overwhelm you! Check out the entire Homeschool Basics series for answers to more frequently asked homeschool questions.

Homeschool Teaching Styles and Philosphies.png Identifying Children's Learning Styles copy How to Choose Homeschool Curriculum

See What the Other Kids Are Up To…

Click one of the images below to see curriculum picks for our other children.

6th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Picks (2018-2019)

This year our youngest, Kaleb, is in the 6th grade – it seems strange typing those words. Last year Kaleb made some great progress in a few areas he struggles (specifically reading and handwriting). We were able to make adjustments and he took keyboarding (which he loves) and his reading made some great jumps, which was encouraging to him. 

While typically we add more and more independent subjects as the school levels progress, Kaleb will still be working a little more 1:1 with me until I’m sure he has a firm grasp on reading comprehension. His tendency is to get a little more frustrated – he gets it when he reads it, but the speed/fluency is more his struggle. That said, I’ll be sitting along side him for a bit more than I normally would. Besides that, he’s our youngest and frankly, I want to enjoy every last moment I have with him.  

We’ve stuck with some tried and true curriculum pieces, but we are also adding in a few new things this year, tailored more to Kaleb’s learning/doing process. One of them does involve a little more reading (another reason why I will stay alongside), but it’s one he can pace himself and work ahead (he likes seeing he is completing something), so hopefully that will work to our advantage. :) 

Below you’ll get a peek at our 6th grade homeschool curriculum choices – a look at the new (and favorite) programs we are using for the upcoming school year. An * depicts curriculum/programs that are new to us this year. 

*feed readers, please click over to the blog for some of the additional links to curriculum

6th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices

 

History & Geography

For history this year we are switching things up and trying something new to us: AOP Lifepac History and Geography Units. The older kids each have their own programs they are working on, so this is one Kaleb and I will be going through together. There are ten units for the entire year, and each unit is broken up into small booklets which will be an encouragement to Kaleb (seems less overwhelming, but gives him bite-sized chunks to work through). 

Math

Although we have the paper version of the book, this year Kaleb will be working on the online version of Teaching Textbooks (3.0). It follows along with the book, and I’m excited that I can log in on my laptop and see what he is doing since everything is stored online! (WOOT!). 

Handwriting/Cursive

As I mentioned earlier, Kaleb really enjoys the subjects that are do “this” and you are done. He struggles with his handwriting and keeping his letters smaller, but is really fascinated with cursive writing (last year he kept practicing different letters and his name), so he will be using Teach Yourself Cursive. Copywork is something he doesn’t mind as much, even though he isn’t a fan of writing in general, so we’ll use that to our advantage. 

Language & Spelling

To keep reading a little more laid back for Kaleb, we will be using Learning Language Arts Through Literature Orange. There are four main books as the focus of the curriculum, one of which Kaleb has already read.  All About Spelling Levels 4 will be our primary spelling curriculum. 

We’re also continuing with Growing with Grammar (Level 6) and working through several of the Reading Comprehension skill builder books from Carson Dellosa. We used one last year and they were great for helping Kaleb with not only his reading speed, but his comprehension and confidence in his reading. 

Science

A few years ago we used Christian Kids Explore Chemistry with Zachary and he loved it. Kaleb remembers the fun hands-on projects that went with the program and was really excited when I mentioned we would be working on it this year. He especially remembers the atomic cookie skillet models we made and is looking forward to those!

EEME projects are going to be a ‘bonus time’ at the end of each day for him for some STEM work.

Lego League

This year we will continue with our small Lego League group. Last year was Kaleb’s first year participating and at first he wasn’t too sure about it all. As the year progressed he started enjoying it more and more (despite the practices typically falling during Sunday afternoon football – the boy is serious about his football!). We’re excited to see how the boys do this year! 

Curriculum in Year’s Past

In case you are interested in seeing the curriculum that brought us to this point, here’s a peek at what we’ve used with Kaleb the past few years:

If you are new to homeschooling and aren’t sure where to begin in choosing homeschool curriculum, please don’t let this post overwhelm you! Check out the entire Homeschool Basics series for answers to more frequently asked homeschool questions.

Homeschool Teaching Styles and Philosphies.png Identifying Children's Learning Styles copy How to Choose Homeschool Curriculum

See What the Other Kids Are Up To…

Click one of the images below to see curriculum picks for our other children.

Teaching Textbooks 3.0 Online Version (Giveaway!!)

Eight years ago we made a mid-year math switch and started using Teaching Textbooks. It’s been a decision we haven’t regretted and love to this day, especially now that they have added a *new* feature – online subscriptions! 

While I am typically a “have the book and disks in front of me” kind of mom, the new online feature became a necessary component for us this past year. Our oldest needed a new laptop, and we purchased a Chromebook for her. No CD-Rom. For a bit, we were having her work on a laptop here at home, but that quickly became an issue because she couldn’t bring that laptop back and forth to her classes at the community college with her – and the laptop was also falling apart (literally). 

She started getting behind her math schedule which frustrated her. Needless to say, when we found out Teaching Textbooks was scheduling the release of their 3.0 online version, we were rather excited! 

Here’s the thing: version 3.0 has all the great qualities Teaching Textbooks is known for, but now has the added features of being online, accessible from any wifi, and yearly subscriptions! It’s the best of everything rolled up into a convenient format. There’s more too, but that’s just a quick look.

Why We (Already) Love Teaching Textbooks

We already love Teaching Textbooks as our math program. Hands-down it is one of the best curriculum choices we’ve made in our eleven years of homeschooling. We’ve been using their programs for a little almost eight years now, and that alone should speak volumes. Here are a few reasons why we love it so much.

  • The lessons are all taught via the program, meaning you as a mom get a break! Each lesson has an instructor who walks kids through the concept being taught, works through sample problems, and then kids work on daily problems.
  • Each lesson is self-graded. There is no grading needed by mom or dad. Period. The lessons automatically let kids know if they were correct and score the overall lessons and tests. 
  • Extra chances have been huge for our kids! When we first started the program, it was one of the things that helped make math FUN for the girls and not frustrating. If they made a mistake, they could take a second chance and try again to get the problem correct. 
  • Lessons can also be “re-set” if kids are really struggling with a concept. You can delete answers to single problems or all of the problems in a lesson and give kids a do-over. 
  • Print gradebooks anytime.  Maybe I’m not the only one who struggles to keep up-to-date records on subjects, but Teaching Textbooks grades it all for me, and gradebooks can be printed off at any time. 
  • The program provides constant review. Once a topic is taught it is reviewed in subsequent lessons. One additional helpful feature is problems reference what lesson a concept was learned, so kids can flip back to the lesson and review if needed.

Features to Love in 3.0

In addition to the above, the Teaching Textbook 3.0 online versions offers even more! 

  1. ANYWHERE access. If you have internet access, you can work on math. The kids may not be as thrilled to hear this, but it is a great feature. 
  2. No disks or books to carry around. My boys are famous for causing covers to magically disappear from books. The 3.0 version has an ebook that can be viewed in a different browser window or even printed off if you choose. One thing I love about this: I can pull up my browser and flip back to a specific lesson we may need to review a concept on while working on a problem on one of the kid’s computers. More than one person can be logged into the account at a time. 
  3. Grade storage. We won’t talk about how many computer issues we’ve had over the years and how many hard drives I have in a drawer (for real).  With the 3.0 version, Teaching Textbooks stores your grades for you, even after your subscription is over. You don’t have to worry about where that grade book disappeared to. They’ve got you covered. 
  4. The programs work on MAC, Windows, and Chromebooks. Tablets and phones can be used as well with the Puffin browser (3rd party browser, support limited). For our family, the Chromebook aspect has been HUGE this year and having the 3.0 version has been a lifesaver! 
  5. You can “pause” your subscription – each subscription lasts for 12 months (per student, per course). Each subscription also allows for 90 days’ worth of pause time. You may activate the pause any time you choose, but you must use at least 7 days of pause time before unpausing. 
  6. No more disks to lose/scratch. While our girls kept things all neat and tidy, the boys have been a little harder on their curriculum. With online subscriptions, we don’t have to worry about losing a disk (or having that excuse!) and not being able to complete a lesson
  7. BETTER PRICING – Whether you have one child or eight, the subscription prices are lower than purchasing the physical products AND if you have a larger family (up to 8), their is a price cap of $199.08. The more kiddos you have – the lower the cost!! Read more about the Teaching Textbook family plan here.

p.s. if you still want to use the textbooks and CD-ROMs, you can still purchase those. :)

Try Teaching Textbooks 3.0 for FREE

If you’d like to test out the 3.0 version, you can start a Free Trial of the complete program, up through Lesson 15. The trial includes lectures, solution, eBook, and grading on each of the products. If you decide to purchase the full version, everything transfers over for you! Learn more HERE. 

Not sure where to start? Download and print a placement test online. 

Win a Subscription to Teaching Textbooks 3.0

We’ll be sharing more of a step-by-step through a lesson with Teaching Textbooks 3.0, but want to get you all a bit excited about this new release – AND offer a giveaway to go along for ONE FREE SUBSCRIPTION (any level) to Teaching Textbook’s new 3.0 version. The Rafflecopter widget below will give you instructions below, and includes the option of the free trial as well. :) Because it is an online platform – everyone can enter, provided they are 18 years of age or older. Giveaway ends Monday, July 30th at midnight EST. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway