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10th Grade Year in Review – Curriculum Choices

To say the least, Laurianna’s 10th grade year has been short from boring. The words to more accurately describe it would be exhausting, emotional, challenging, and growing among a slew of other words. The highlight has been starting to drive and subject-wise her favorite was history. 

The year started out fairly normal, but as Laurianna’s health went completely out of whack and the doctor’s visits started, we were scrambling to adjust her daily schedule to accommodate her exhaustion and inability to focus during the day. It didn’t matter how much sleep she had or didn’t have, one day she would be great and another completely opposite. What started with a tick bit has turned into a variety of other issues as well that no one can quite figure out at this point. She put subjects aside for a time in order to focus more attention on a few key ones: history, literature, and science, and still has a two subjects to finish 100%. 

As of the end of her 10th grade year, Laurianna has earned a total of 20.5 credits toward her high school diploma. While we did bulk up her course load the first few years (and she still has two years left of school), I’m honestly thankful we did based on her health. In the upcoming two years we are focusing more on dual credit classes and upcoming college visits and entrance exams – yikes! I cannot believe we are already at this point! She attended our annual homeschool convention with me this year to check out the college fair and sit in on some SAT and scholarship sessions – HOW IS SHE THIS OLD??

Our 10th Grade Year Plan

Credits earned: 7

US History with Notgrass

Last year we made the switch to Notgrass in history and we have LOVED it. We don’t use all the components of the program (literature and Bible credits). Although the program offers two additional credits that can be earned through the year (literature and Bible), we decided not to do those. Personally I didn’t feel the literature component was as strong and detailed as the program we have used in the past several years. 

The hands-on projects are ones that Laurianna loves, especially when she can add in her own twist of creativity. Her favorite (and most time consuming) project this year was a children’s book. She decided to create one based on the ABCs of George Washington – and it turned out adorable!! She wrote and illustrated the entire thing – and I LOVED it. :) 

This was one subject we decided to do as a co-op class this year so the kids could also take a big field trip together to Charleston, SC in the spring. She had three other friends in her class and they got together once a week to review the lessons and cover some additional topics. 

Officially she has completed all of her history and government classes for high school – yay! 


There was a LOT of reading this year and we did something a little different. We used the format of the American Lit program from Excellence in Literature (we’ve used their program for two years prior) and mixed some of the books suggested in their guide with a few other choices and lined up the time periods with what the kids were studying in history together. 

Overall it went great! I was a little nervous at first, but watching a corresponding movie with each unit was also a fun ending to each of the 600+ word essays the kids had to write. Typically for each book read (there were eight books on their American Literature list this year), the kids had three papers due: an author profile (learning about the author, time period, and influences), an approach paper (looking at a specific time period or breaking down important parts and characters of the book), and then a 600+ word essay using one of two provided essay prompts. 

This group of kids is one I have been working with for the past three years and it’s been so much fun seeing their growth and hearing their thoughts and ideas as they dig into literature and various themes. Sadly, this was our last year together since many of them have now met their lit requirements and will be taking dual credit classes next year. 


This year we again worked in a small group setting with two other families on chemistry. The mom teaching them is super sweet and always came up with fun ideas for the kids to work on during class. 

Chemistry may not have been her favorite subject (especially since more numbers/math), but this is the year that Laurianna made the decision to pursue nursing (hopefully pediatric), so there will be much more science in her future! 


No exciting pictures. This was one area Laurianna had to put aside every now and then when her concentration was struggling, especially since it required a lot of focus on her part. :) Next year we are looking at Pre-Cacl and possibly a statistics class at our local community college. 

Government/Constitutional Literacy

Laurianna is almost completely through this class as it was one of the ones we put aside temporarily when she wasn’t feeling well. I do plan to share a full review of the Constitutional Literacy program (and we really do love it). It’s one I think would also be great in a co-op setting as it would bring up some great discussion. 


Laurianna is a very creative girl, so art isn’t as much of a subject as just plain enjoyable for her. Thankfully it’s one area that doesn’t require a lot of energy and she can rest and relax by sketching or drawing. 

Using Artistic Pursuits Book 1 was a great fit for her this year for sure. She has a definite love in this area! 




In just a few short months Laurianna will officially be a licensed driver! We are car shopping already and she is working hard to save more money toward her purchase and insurance and all the other good things that come along with car ownership! She is about 2/3 of the way through her DriversEd class (online) and has driven all of the required hours for our state. I do have to say it’s rather handy and will be so even more in the upcoming year! 

Swim Team

Laurianna’s swim season ended a little early (November instead of end of February), which was very difficult for her. Swimming is definitely a time to decompress for her but it became something she struggled with physically when her health went out of whack. Ironically, in some of our more recent doctor’s visits, the recommendation has been 45 minute sessions 4-5 times a week and also water therapy, so at this point it is full on summer league for her! 


All that said, the last few weeks have been spent looking at classes that Laurianna can take at our local community college this upcoming year – specifically ones that will transfer over into several different colleges when she pursues nursing. Because she hasn’t taken her PSAT yet, she will be taking entrance exams, which does make her a little nervous, but I’m sure she will do fine! 

This summer she is also working through College Prep Genius to get ready for both the SAT and the PSAT this year. 


Other Year-end Reviews

Take a peek at our year end review for 4th grade.
Take a peek at our year end review for 6th grade.
8th grade homeschool year in review - Homeschool Creations
Take a peek at our year end review for 8th grade

8th Grade Year in Review – Homeschool Curriculum Choices

8th grade homeschool year in review - Homeschool Creations

The first few weeks of the school year I’ll be honest – they were rough. McKenna has done well the last two years working at her own pace and getting work done, but the first couple weeks were tough. While I had suggestions on how she could best manage her time/subjects, she was way overthinking some of the things and putting herself through much more work than she needed to. Once she settled into a good groove though, she was flying! 

Her favorite subjects overall were science and literature. Both were ones we did together with friends (I have a sneaky suspicion that is one of the main reasons). McKenna is very outgoing and loves to be interacting with others. One of the highlights of her year was attending Teach Them Diligently in Atlanta with some friends of ours – and being able to hang out all weekend with a group of kids. 

This year she has learned to play the ukulele, started working as a sports photographers assistant (earning money is always nice), and also learning how to play the piano (she is practicing herself and wants to be on the youth worship team this upcoming year). 

You can see all of our 8th grade curriculum choices in this post here, but below is a quick peek and then a brief look at how the different subjects/programs worked for her. 

The 8th Grade Year Plan

Credits earned: 5.5

Although McKenna is in the 8th grade, we opted to let her try earning a few high school credits over the course of the year – and she did great! Getting into a good groove was hard the first little bit, but once she figured out a routine that worked for her, she stuck with that and owned it. 


This one definitely one of McKenna’s favorite classes. Her literature load involved reading one book per month (you can see her literature list here). While some of the books may not have been on her “must read” pile, she kept up (and ahead). 

Each of the units involved writing three papers, some a bit shorter than others: an author profile, an approach paper, and then an essay, typically around 500+ words. Although she balked at the longer papers first, hers ended up much beyond that word limit. Overall her writing capabilities have exceeded what I even imagined (such a great surprise!!). I definitely credit WriteShop in prepping her the last few years for these assignments. 

And – being able to take a field trip during our Shakespeare unit was so much fun!! Incidentally, this book is a FABULOUS resource for teaching Shakespeare to kids.

Earned: 1 credit.

She also finished level 6 of All About Spelling. 


For eight months we met with a small group of other students to work on the lab part of physical science (once a week). While McKenna worked on the reading and other work during the week, building the hands-on projects, they would get together to review the projects and test their theories (we used this same program with Laurianna and loved it).  Earned: 1 credit.

McKenna also worked through two smaller science books from Masterbooks: Archaeology and Fossils Earned: 1/2 credit combined


So, no pictures to share from this subject, but overall McKenna loved Visual Latin and will continue with the second level next year. One of the things she mentioned is how it has helped her in various subjects (science). 


Maps aren’t necessarily McKenna’s favorite thing, but this girl is nothing but thorough while studying North Star Geography. She definitely loved the hands-on aspect for each of the units, including a salt dough map of our state and so many other great projects. 


Math is definitely not McKenna’s favorite class. At all. It isn’t the program we are using, Teaching Textbooks, and definitely appreciates it, she just isn’t a fan of Algebra. Period. Next year she will be moving on to Geometry. 


Swimming is one of McKenna’s favorite things and she grew so much this year in this area. Their team had new coaches this year, which pushed her in ways she didn’t always like, but she discovered new strokes to love and pursue and figured out that hard work definitely pay off. We are definitely considering the long term swimming in the fall again and she is currently swimming in a summer league. 


Other Year-end Reviews

Take a peek at our year end review for 4th grade.
Take a peek at our year end review for 6th grade.
I’ll be sharing our 10th grade soon, so be sure to check back – as well as our plans for the upcoming year!  

6th Grade Year in Review – Homeschool Curriculum Choices

Hands-down Zachary’s favorite subject again for the year was science (and much of that was tied into what he worked on with EEME). Another close second for him was his work with Who is God?  and Who Am I? This boy loves any activity that a project can be added to for him to DO instead of observe. 

I hope you’ll indulge me a little as I’m writing these year-end posts. They help my brain process our year and also answer some reader questions when people want to know what our thoughts were on some of our choices. You can see all of our 6th grade curriculum choices in this post here, but below is a more in depth look at what we used for Zachary this past year and how it worked overall. 

The 6th Grade Year Plan…

Here’s a quick look at the overall plan for our 6th grade year…


As I mentioned earlier, science is hands-down one of Zachary’s favorite subject areas. This year he switched over to a two year program using Rainbow Science Year 1. It’s a program we’ve used with both of our girls and had great success with. One of the big parts of this was Zachary working almost completely independently. He had two days of reading followed by a lab or experiment. This was VERY successful for him and he ended up finishing his program almost two months early (no small feat for a boy who struggles to stay on task!). 

In addition to Rainbow Science Year 1, he worked on several projects with EEME. These were HUGELY favored, especially since he began working on more robotics (check out Q the Robot for sure!). Because he is a hands-on kiddo, he also created a lot with Legos, Little Bits, Sphero, and pretty much anything else we had on hand. :) 

Essentially this means that our science for next year is already figured out. We will continue with Rainbow Science and work on EEME projects as they become available! 


Reading & Read-Alouds

Reading was one area we struggled a little bit more with this year. At the beginning of the year I set up a list of books for him, and while we did get through all of them, it wasn’t without….incident. His idea of what constitutes a reading list vs. my idea has a wide area of difference. :) 

There were days when we struggled to get him to focus in on an assigned book. He definitely would like more control over the books on the list and we had several talks about his personal reading choices vs. assigned school reading – and why those two are different. After reading most of the books, he would complete a book report  and we would discuss key points of the book using this helpful guide.

That said, his personal reading time grew by leaps and bounds this year. Typically he isn’t a “for pleasure” reader, but there were several series that he either re-read in a very short time or started and loved. 


Teaching Textbooks is definitely another program we plan to use next year with Zachary. It has been a perfect fit for our family. Math may not be his favorite subject, but he does enjoy it much more when we use this program. :) And so do I!


This year we switched up our history a bit and followed along with Laurianna in her US History learning so we could go on field trips together. Another bonus was using the same book as friends were using so we could work on a few projects together. 

Each week we spent an afternoon together reading, creating, and learning – which was definitely fun. :) One of the activities we did was making a simple compass

Writing & Grammar

Turns out our writing curriculum this year also had grammar included in it – something I neglected to process until about 2 months into the school year. Zachary still continued on with Growing with Grammar 6 , even though Writers in Residence would have been enough. My theory with this boy is he can use all the extra help he can get (and he didn’t complain, so there’s that too). I’ll be sharing more about this particular curriculum soon and overall loved the layout. 


For All About Spelling we typically worked on one lesson a week (a few chunks where we did every other week). We didn’t push hard, but over the last year he has shown remarkable improvement in both spelling and reading but did see huge improvements in the area. For those of you who know me well, you know that it is our favorite homeschool spelling program, hands down!


One of the other subjects Zachary really enjoyed was Bible using the What We Believe series. I mentioned that we used it a little differently (he isn’t huge into notebooking), but he did enjoy the two books in the series he worked through. 

Art (via co-0p)

One of the classes Zachary had this year focused on different art techniques. One of the kids favorites was learning about fondant icing – because, HELLO FOOD. 

Other Activities  

Swim was (and continues to be) a sport the kids love participating in. Through January they participated in a local swim team and then moved to summer league. We will likely participate again in the fall, but it’s tough with the timeframe (it’s a lot of driving to two different pools for us). 
Boy Scouts has been another area of HUGE interest for Zachary. He recently completed all he needed to achieve First Class status and wants to hit Eagle Scout by the time he is 16 (his goal). He only joined this past year, but has truly jumped in running! This year he had multiple camping trips, day hikes, and projects to work through – and he loves it. :)

Other Year-end Reviews

Take a peek at our year end review for 4th grade. I’ll be sharing our 8th and 10th grade soon, so be sure to check back – as well as our plans for the upcoming year!  

4th Grade Year in Review – Homeschool Curriculum Choices

It is always VERY helpful for me to sit back and reflect via a few blog posts on what worked (and what didn’t work) during our homeschool time. While sometimes I can be really hard on myself in some areas, it’s always good to see where we can improve in areas – or where we really excelled. 

Looking back also helps me with my overall look at the upcoming year too. You can see all of our curriculum choices in the linked posts, but I wanted to focus this post more on Kaleb’s 4th grade year and how everything worked out overall. 

Patience and determination – those are the two words that I think of most to sum up Kaleb’s year. I’ve shared quite a bit about our struggles and celebrations over the last year, but those two really hit home for me this year. Sometimes it’s the little things that matter most and leave the biggest impact. 

Our 4th Grade Plan

Here’s a look at what the overall plan was for 4th grade…


While we didn’t start out with a formal curriculum for this area, it was an area that we moved to having more structure. This is probably one of Kaleb’s favorite areas of learning, so we started using A Reason for Science (Level D) in January.

homeschool science kits from Insight to Learning

We also worked on quite a few projects and experiments with Little BitsInsight to Learning, and several other hands-on extras. Kaleb LOVES these hands-on projects! Next year we will be switching over to a more formal year-round science program, Nancy Larson Science 4 (not grade level specific) and I’m hoping to add in several of the Tinker Crates from Kiwi Crate

Reading & Spelling

This is probably the BIGGEST area of achievement for Kaleb over the past year. Truthfully, I’d call this year a success no matter what based solely on the progress made in this one area and wouldn’t care how any other subject area went. That may sound off, but reading has been the hardest struggle for this boy and one that led to tears (from both him and myself) but also huge celebration. 

We didn’t finish our entire reading curriculum (the plan was to work on Level 3 and 4 ofAll About Reading) – and that’s ok! We’re going to continue on with it next year and move at the pace that Kaleb is comfortable with. The big thing is – KALEB READ TWO CHAPTER BOOKS! We worked through the bulk of the books on his 4th grade reading list (woot!), but once we moved to those chapter books, he didn’t want to go back. That was probably one of the most exciting moments – rather than choosing an easier book, he made the decision to keep going. :) 


One of the biggest helps for Kaleb this last year was using these multiplication worksheets I put together to keep those numbers lined up. Teaching Textbooks Math 5 worked wonderfully for us (as always) and we will continue on with the next level next year. 

History & Geography

This year another friend and I used the same history program and once a week a few of her kids and our boys would work on related projects together. Sometimes we cooked. Or learned how to fold a flag together. Traced the path of Lewis and Clark. Or built miniature teepees together. Overall – SUCH FUN! But things are always more fun with friends, right? 

While we didn’t cover as much geography as I would have liked, we used a variety of printables, our Little Passports, and other hands-on materials and did manage to get around the world quite a bit. This is definitely an on-going area that will carry over into next year. 


So there aren’t many pictures to share of grammar, because diagramming isn’t that exciting for many, eh? 

Ivy Kids Pezzettino Kit

Periodically we also spent time working on Ivy Kids Kits. Sometimes it was a simple activity like creating a puzzle or a writing activity, and other times we had a chance to play with some fun new art products. For us it’s very reminiscent of our Five in a Row work, but also another excuse to cuddle up with a good book together. :) 


We love using WriteShop and I realized this is about the only documented image I have from this last year. One of the best parts about the program is the hands-on aspect it offers, other than just ‘writing.’ Early on kids learn the process through different means and it ties in so well with our grammar program as well. 


Quite honestly, this was one area we decided to let go early on. Between what the kids are doing at church (I love our children’s ministry) and 


Art has been and continues to be one of Kaleb’s favorite areas. While we didn’t do quite as much as I would have liked to do this year (we skipped some of the lessons in our Home Art Studio dvds), we will definitely continue with both the structured lessons next year as well as impromptu ones such as our fun with Kwik Stix


One of Kaleb’s favorite additions this year was Spelling You See C.  We used this primarily as our handwriting program and also for additional reading practice.  He loves the daily practice and it has also been great for him to work on daily identifying various vowel blends and additional reading and dictation work.  Definitely planning to keep this on our list for next year. 


This past year we participated in only one co-op group. The chance to get together is so much fun, especially when we have the chance to work on a few classes that we might not put in our normal day. Different classes Kaleb had this year were Five in a Row books and Spanish. 
The kids were also a part of a year round swim team until the end of February when my energy began petering out. Kaleb is one of our strongest swimmers and truly loves it, but it involves a lot of driving and time in the evenings, so sometimes finding the balance is tough! 

I’ll be sharing our year end review of 6th, 8th, and 10th grade soon, so be sure to check back – as well as our plans for the upcoming year as well!  

New to Homeschooling? 

If you are new to homeschooling and aren’t sure where to begin in choosing homeschool curriculum, I have some helps for you! Check out the entire Homeschool Basics series for answers to more frequently asked homeschool questions.

Curriculum We Used This Year

Click any of the images below to see our homeschool picks for the 2016-17 school year. You’ll also find links to past years choices in each post. 

4th grade homeschool curriculum choices - from Homeschool Creations 6th grade homeschool curriculum choices 2016 from Homeschool Creations 8th grade homeschool curriculum choices 2016 10th grade homeschool curriculum choices from Homeschool Creations 2016

10th Grade Mid-Year Homeschool Curriculum Review


This homeschool year with Laurianna hasn’t quite gone according to plan, which has been a little hard on both her and myself (definitely more her though). I mentioned a few months ago that she has been dealing with some health issues thanks to a tick bite almost two years ago. That has in turn meant a lot of changes in our home, both physically and academically. 

Prior to our Christmas break she was becoming extremely fatigued and it was difficult for her to get all of her work done, so we had to slow down in some areas to help her out. Over the last bit we have been trying some different avenues to help her feel better and have a lot of doctor’s visits in the future and will keep you posted. If anything, I am most thankful at this time that we homeschool and have the flexibility in her schedule to adjust things and timing. 

10th Grade Curriculum Choices

10th grade homeschool curriculum choices from Homeschool Creations 2016

Credits to earn: 7


Overall, Laurianna has been keeping up grades in her core subjects have excelled: chemistry, literature, history, math, and Latin and slowing down in art (she tends to focus on this when she is resting more). Art and history are her two favorite subjects this year. 

Co-op – Three of her classes meet once a week in a co-op setting (literature, history, and chemistry) for 1-2 hours, although she is responsible for the bulk of the work during the week at home. The group setting has been wonderful for feedback from her peers and in two of the classes also having a different mom giving helps is great too! :) 

notgrass history creative assignment

History – History is definitely one of her favorite subjects. The focus this year has been American history and we’ve been able to include several field trips to go along with the period of history we are studying. We have a few more trips planned for the last half of the year (warm weather would be nice!). It has been fun seeing the various artistic avenues she has been exploring for history as well: writing a small children’s book, designing flyers, and a range of other projects. 

Math – We are definitely thankful to be using Teaching Textbooks for geometry this year. Math is never a favorite, per se, but any way we can make it easier and more enjoyable is wonderful – and Teaching Textbook does that! 


Chemistry – Although this may not be a favorite subject, but with friends (and fun hands-on ways to learn), it is definitely easier. This year has definitely confirmed for her the course she wants to pursue for college. We’ve sat down with a friend and been talking about colleges for nursing degrees – and here it begins! 

Latin – Visual Latin has been a great fit this year for her as well and we will definitely plan to continue with a second year next year. She has finished up her second year of Spanish and we are determining if she will do a third year as well. 

black and white sketch

Art – Even though she is focusing on her core subjects, art is one subject she is able to work on when she is resting – and truthfully it helps her unwind as well. 

Government/Constitutional Literacy – This class has been one we have slowed down on because we know we can continue it through the summer if necessary. While we love it, it was more of an elective this year rather than a core program and was one we needed to put aside when needed. At this point she should be halfway through the program, but we are about 1/4 of the way through instead. 

Literature – Lots of reading (and maybe some books that are on the dry side – in the kids opinions, at least). One thing I love about this class is we have tied in the books with the periods in history the kids are studying and we celebrate the end of a book (and the corresponding papers) with watching a period movie or one that goes along with the book we are reading. A few of the books have surprised Laurianna – she really enjoyed Uncle Tom’s Cabin – and she has been doing great keeping up with the three papers due each month for each book read. 

Swim Team – With her fatigue, swim team had to be pulled from her daily schedule. This was really hard for her because it was something she definitely enjoyed, but she physically could not keep up with the demands – which has been difficult emotionally for her. She knows that long term it will work out and she is looking forward to summer swim team, but knows that right now she needs to focus on resting and getting her health back to a more “normal” range. 


Drivers Ed – Laurianna also started DRIVING! Ack! You all – I feel for my parents and how that must have been for them so many years ago. There is something rather nerve wracking having your child behind the wheel and not having physical control (maybe that’s just my issue alone – cough). I know this is an area that as our kids get older we are ‘releasing’ them – but oy, it’s hard! The first few trips were a bit challenging, but there will definitely be some huge perks when she finally does have her license later this summer and I’m not opposed to those! 


That’s it so far! How has your year going?


Click any of the images below to see our homeschool picks for the current school year. You’ll also find links to past years choices in each post. 

4th grade homeschool curriculum choices - from Homeschool Creations 6th grade homeschool curriculum choices 2016 from Homeschool Creations 8th grade homeschool curriculum choices 2016 10th grade homeschool curriculum choices from Homeschool Creations 2016

8th Grade Mid-Year Homeschool Curriculum Review

I’ll admit that this year I was a little anxious about how McKenna would fare taking high school credits. While she was almost completely independent her 7th grade year in most subject areas, her load was going to increase quite a bit and with that – her stress level – and this is a girl who gets overwhelmed quickly. Typically it isn’t ever as bad as she believes it is and she settles down, but it can be rough going for a little bit. 

Homeschool happenings 2016-12

The first few weeks were hard and required copious amounts of patience on my part as she tried to find her own balance. About 4 weeks into the year is when she found her rhythm – and this momma was able to exhale. Granted we still have days of craziness, but she is very dedicated to her studies and doing well, and truly I am so proud of this girl! 

8th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices

8th grade homeschool curriculum choices 2016

Credits to earn: 5.5

Latin – Overall McKenna is LOVING Visual Latin (probably her favorite class by far). She is happily flying through spelling at this point as well. 

Geography – While memorizing maps with North Star Geography isn’t necessarily a favorite thing of hers, this girl excels as memorization and is doing very well with the class.

Literature/Writing – I’m take a minute to brag on McKenna – she is a fabulous writer! I know her literature load has been heavier this year than in years past, and involves many books she’d probably rather pass over, but her insight and writing capabilities have far exceeded what I thought she had in her (and I LOVE that surprise!). I definitely credit WriteShop in prepping her the last few years for these assignments. 

Math – Not necessarily her favorite class. At all. She is very thankful for Teaching Textbooks, but not a fan of Algebra. Period. 

Science – The physical class, while challenging for her, is definitely more fun with friends! This is one class we meet together with a few other families each week and another mom teaches the group. The hands on projects have been fabulous (we used this same program with Laurianna and loved it).  McKenna has finished the Archaeology part of her science and will be starting the next book this month.

SpellingLevel 6 of spelling is done – woot!

Swim – We’ve wrapped up our swim season for the year – PHEW! – but it has been wonderful to see McKenna push herself even harder this year in this area. She is discovering the strokes she loves and her new coach also had her try some things she didn’t necessarily want to do, and shockingly she even liked some of it. Because the back and forth travel was getting a little overwhelming for us (separate practices for the boys and girls), we decided to stop after our most recent meet and the kids will pick back up with summer league in May. 



Click any of the images below to see our homeschool picks for the current school year. You’ll also find links to past years choices in each post. 

4th grade homeschool curriculum choices - from Homeschool Creations 6th grade homeschool curriculum choices 2016 from Homeschool Creations 8th grade homeschool curriculum choices 2016 10th grade homeschool curriculum choices from Homeschool Creations 2016