20 Best Tips
Teaching Textbooks

World Watch News – Current Events and News for Families

World Watch News 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.

Talking about current events, especially when it involves politics, isn’t typically something at the top of my list. Do I try to stay on top of what is happening in the world around us? Absolutely. However, when it comes to getting my kids involved – well, that’s where things get a little more iffy.

More and more, we are inundated with news stories on every known topic and from a variety of views and opinions. Some of those news stories involve difficult or sensitive issues, and of course we don’t want our children stumbling onto something inappropriate. That said, we do want our kids to be aware of what is happening in the world around us and intelligently take part in conversations about important topics.

This year, the boys and I have started watching a new subscription-based video program: World Watch News. The program is targeted toward middle and high school students (younger students may participate as well, but parents may want to watch a few episodes before everyone jumps in). We are really enjoying the format and have found a few ways to use the 10-minute weekday program to add learning opportunities to our homeschool day.

What Families Need to Know about World Watch

In each weekday 10-minute video segment, viewers learn about a variety of topics: science, technology, politics, arts and culture, politics, natural disasters, and more. The stories are short, but well-developed, allowing students the opportunity to hear top news stories and discuss opinions after hearing the news briefs.

WORLD Watch delivers the news with age-appropriate current events, including issues ranging from science and technology, business and economics, natural disasters, military action, family and society, arts and culture, politics, and more. The program is the newest offering from the trained Christian journalists and editors at WORLD News Group, a news organization producing daily coverage of global, national, and cultural current events, with news stories and commentary grounded in facts and biblical truth.  

Parents will enjoy watching the series alongside their children as well (in fact, I would recommend it). Set aside some time each day to talk about at least one of the stories in depth with your children.

Be sure to watch my video review as well, where you’ll see a bit of the site and can hear my thoughts in person – because sometimes it’s nice to hear instead of just reading!

Our Thoughts on World Watch News

The daily segments have opened up some great conversations between the boys and myself regarding some of the recent news stories (COVID-19, wildfires in California, Supreme Court justices, and our upcoming election). Even though we’re all in the same family, we do have some different perspectives on issues, so this has been a good exercise in sharing differing views with grace as well.

Each day’s news segment include some “feel-good” portions as well, looking at stories that are happening around the world. Over the last several weeks, they have covered the restoration of Michelangelo’s Bandini Pieta, street-side classes in India, the US Open, and a look at the jury systems in the United States.

In addition to watching and discussing the program together daily, we’re using World Watch News to work on writing activities with our boys. After the program is over, the boys take a few minutes to summarize their thoughts on our daily news summary sheet (see end of post for the download).

For us, this has been a great way to “see” how the boys are interpreting what’s happening in the world around and also discuss how friends or others are viewing the same situation. While we don’t want our kids to just mimic us and our beliefs, we do want them to dig deeper and understand WHY they believe what they believe, and we are thankful we have the opportunity to be a part of that process!

One thing that I appreciate, especially with all the crazy that seems to be happening lately, is WorldWatch.news always brings the focus back to the key point: “Whatever the news, the purpose of the Lord will stand.” No matter where you stand on issues right now, that alone is a gentle reminder and encouragement to me each time – and there are many days I need to repeat it.

In short, do we love it and recommend it – yes. And we’re positive it would be a great addition to your home as well.

Start World Watch in Your Home!

Families can start their World Watch News subscription with a monthly option ($9.99/mo) or a yearly subscription ($79.99/yr).

Homeschool Creations readers will receive a SPECIAL limited-time rate of $69.99/year using THIS LINK.

Want a look at how WorldWatch.news is put together? Be sure to visit them on these platforms for video clip samples as well as a full episode:

WorldWatch.news | YouTube | Instagram | Facebook

Recommended ages: middle and high school. Parental pre-viewing is recommended for lower grades – you know your kids and what they are ready for. :)


Download the News Summary Printable

If you’d like to add WorldWatch.news to your daily homeschool time and also use the printable news summary we created, feel free to download it by clicking below!

Teaching Textbooks Will Prep Your Kids for College

{disclaimer ~ this is a sponsored post in partnership with Teaching Textbooks}

Any of our long-time readers know that we have had a staple in our yearly homeschool curriculum. It’s a program we love and recommend whenever we can – Teaching Textbooks. As dedicated users of the program since 2010, we’ve had the opportunity to use every one of their math levels from Level 3 through Pre-Calculus.

One of the questions/concerns I’ve had from several parents over the years has tied into Teaching Textbooks and preparing their child for college. Will Teaching Textbooks be enough for college entry? And SATs? 

Here are some of my honest thoughts and opinions on the issue – and the short answer is this: I do believe that YES their program will prepare our children and is an incredible resource to homeschool families

Before I jump fully into things, I would invite you to read a little more about our switch to Teaching Textbooks back in 2010 and the overall reasons we recommend their program.  

When we first started with Teaching Textbooks, I heard and read various criticisms by some about their program. A few said it was behind other programs or that their kids used it and didn’t test well. Of course, criticisms like this are common with any widely-used math curriculum. But we had several friends who had no problems whatsoever, so we decided to move ahead because we needed a program that our kids enjoyed using – and that would help them learn.

Out of our four children, we currently have two children in high school, a child who has taken and done well on the SAT (and successfully graduated), and have had no issue with college acceptance or with Teaching Textbooks being our math curriculum. 

After the tenth grade, our oldest daughter took entrance tests in language and math so she could register for classes at our local community college (she did great on the math potion, by the way). Math is quite honestly her least favorite subject – just because she would rather delve into a good book, dissect a specimen, or learn more about human anatomy. She’s wired that way. BUT she did well on the math portion of the SAT as well, using zero outside prep other than Teaching Textbooks. (Side note: as we have completed standardized testing over the years, our children have tested highly in math each year).

Whatever criticisms we have heard have not proven true. We have seen success with Teaching Textbooks as our primary math curriculum for the past nine years. Teaching Textbooks will prepare for college – and it has!

Teaching Textbooks is a MUST for high school homeschool. 

For those who struggle in math themselves, Teaching Textbooks is an amazing curriculum to have on hand each year. The lessons are all taught via the program, meaning you as a mom get a break and don’t have to remember al the concepts you may not recall from your own high school days. Each lesson has an instructor who walks kids through the concept being taught, works through sample problems, and then kids work on daily problems and/or periodic tests.

One of my favorite features, especially in the high school years, are second chances. Parents can allow the program to offer a second chance for a correct answer. For kids that get frustrated easily, this can be a huge help. Let’s face it: sometimes kids try to rush through a problem or enter an answer too quickly. If they make a mistake, they could take a second chance and try again to get the problem correct. 

On top of second chances, the program SELF-GRADES. For those of you working with high schoolers, this is an amazing mom-help. Yes, we definitely want a program that works well for our children, but the benefit to parents cannot be overlooked either. 

We started with the textbook and CD-Rom versions of the various levels and a little over a year ago we moved over to Teaching Textbooks 3.0, a fully-online version of the program (meaning access anywhere you have WiFi access – no disks needed).  

Something I do want to note: as with any other program/curriculum, parent participation/oversight is necessary. Our family has a policy that if the kids score a 90 or better on a lesson, they can move on to the next lesson. If they are having difficulty and/or score below a 90 on a lesson, we sit down with them to review the concept they are struggling with until they understand and are ready to move on. 

You CAN Jump Ahead (or stay on grade level)

All of our kids started at their appropriate level, and we gave our youngest a placement test before he started. As our kids progressed through and enjoyed working on math, we let them work ahead. Instead of tears, our kids enjoyed doing math. 

Now granted high school can mean differences in attitude (because not all kids enjoy doing school – grins), but as our kids have been able, they have worked at the level they are able to. For both of our girls, they started Algebra 1 in the 8th grade. When our oldest reached the Pre-Calculus level, she decided to break it up over a two-year period (her 11th and 12th grade year), and that worked well for her and her school schedule.

Currently we have a 9th grader who is finishing Algebra 1 (he started it in the 8th grade), and he will move on to Geometry when he completes Algebra 1. Our 11th grade daughter started Pre-Calculus this year and her goal is to complete by the spring, wrapping up her math for high school. 

A Few Other High School Notes

  • Each level of Teaching Textbooks high school math is equivalent to a full high school credit and they currently offer Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry, and Pre-Calculus. 
  • A quick look at the gradebook will show you if a lesson is FULLY complete. This is one of my FAVORITE new features that has been added to the program. Prior to this update, the parent had to do a little more digging in the grade book to see if a lesson was 100% completed, but now – there isn’t any hiding if a kiddo “forgets” to do a problem.
  • 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 grade books can be printed off at any time for quick and easy record keeping.
  • 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. 
  • All of the Teaching Textbooks 3.0 programs work on MAC, Windows, and Chromebooks.  For our family, the Chromebook aspect was HUGE since we didn’t have a disk drive. The full Teaching Textbooks 3.0 was one of the few programs we didn’t have any issues with! 

Prior to starting high school, Teaching Textbooks was a lifesaver for our family, allowing the kids a chance to work through math at their pace and independently, while also enjoying the process of learning. As we’ve moved into high school it has continued to be a benefit to our family,

More on Teaching Textbooks

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! 

And bonus – you can try ANY and EVERY level. They are that generous! Learn more HERE. 

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

 

Win a Subscription to Teaching Textbooks 3.0

Teaching Textbooks has generously offered to give ONE FREE SUBSCRIPTION (any level) to Teaching Textbook’s new 3.0 version to one of my readers!! 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, October 7th at midnight EST. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

9th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Picks

The fact that we’ve already had two kids in the ninth grade would make it appear that picking out curriculum would be a piece of cake. But one of the huge benefits of homeschooling is that we can tweak programs, switch up the grade level we teach a program, or even completely change to a different program. As I mentioned in this post – each of our kids has been different in their likes/dislikes and focusing on individual strengths is a definite plus!

Last year Zachary started work on several high school credits and about 3/4 of the way through the year we realized that his current swimming times may shift our academic focus as we delve into the world of NCAA course approval (because life just isn’t fun enough!). 

We’ve slowed down the pace a little bit for him (which is GREAT) because his swim practices will really be intensifying this year. Last spring something really clicked for him in several events, and he made some incredible jumps in time and technique. Our mantra through this entire process has been to let the boys lead us in their desire to swim – we don’t want to push them too hard because we want them to enjoy what they are doing. Yes, work needs to be put in, but we also don’t want them to burn out. 

That said, below you’ll get a peek at our 9th 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

9th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices

Credits to earn: 6


Co-op Learning

We have a small group of high schoolers that will be meeting weekly to work on personal finance. Zachary will also be getting together with one friend to do the lab part of biology (because any dissection is better with a friend, right?). 

Math

We have the paper version of Geometry, but this year Zachary will be working on the online version of Teaching Textbooks Geometry (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.)

Confession: boy wonder still has about 20 lessons of Algebra 1 to wrap up before he can jump into Geometry. Keeping it real, people! 

Geography

Zachary is continuing to work through North Star Geography.  Last year we opted to follow the two year plan included with the book so we could “ease” him into high school work. When completed, he will have earned a full credit as a high school class. 

Writing & Literature

Zachary will be using a brand new program from Compass Classroom for grammar/writing this year: Grammar for Writers. He will be watching the lectures online and working through the workbook (we have the print version). Last year he worked through the Grammar of Poetry (1/2 credit), so these classes will be combined together for essentially an “English 9” class for him. 

We will also be continuing with All About Spelling Levels 6 & 7 for spelling. He is sitting down with me this week to choose four main books for his reading over the year. 

Biology

We’ll be working through The Riot and the Dance  biology this year and have a local friend to complete our lab activities with each week. This program is one we switched to with McKenna and really enjoyed the layout and the way things were explained in the text. We mix up the labs a little bit from how the book presents them and added more dissections (because they really are fun!!) to the mix as well. 

Reading

We aren’t focusing on a dedicated literature program this year, but there are a few books Zachary will be reading through over the course of the year. It’s a fairly eclectic list, but some are ones he chose and a few are ones I am reading along with him. 


Swimming

This past year Zachary decided to swim year round. For those of you with swimmers, he not only competed in short course (25 meter pool) but also long course (50 meter pool) this summer. He is now measuring in at a bit over 6’3″ and essentially has flippers for feet. He has been dropping even more time and really loves most everything about swimming (his parents are not as fond of the early morning practices!). :) 

Quite honestly, swimming is a mixed bag for me personally. It does mean quite a bit more running around in the evenings, especially as Zachary is in the top practice group and expected to attend a high percentage of practices each week. But he is WILLINGLY putting in over 12 hours of pool time in each week as well as multiple dryland practices weekly, so his physical activity is beyond admirable.

Sidenote: this is the boy who will now come home after practice and eat about a dozen eggs for breakfast. Our grocery budget is about ready to go nuts again.

Boy Scouts

This will be Zachary’s last year participating in Scouts. He is currently ranked as a Life Scout and our troop will be disbanding next June as our current troop leaders retire. Zachary is working hard to complete the remaining four merit badges he needs to earn and deciding on his Eagle Scout project (ideas welcome!!). Our troop has been such a great outlet for Zachary, and he has really loved it over the last four years. 

Personal Finance

One of the best things that happened for Zachary this past summer was getting his first job at our local pool. He helped serve in the snack area, and it’s been a great jumping point for teaching about saving and spending. The Foundations in Personal Finance class is one of my favorite electives to go through with the kids because it really has helped shape how they view their current and future finances (McKenna saved up and paid cash for her first car this summer and has a $1000 emergency fund!). We’ll be working through this class with a small group of kids – and it will be fun! 

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.

7th Grade Homeschool Curriculum

11th Grade Homeschool Curriculum

 

 

What I Bought from Build Your Bundle 2019

Build Your Bundle - The Biggest Homeschool Curriculum Sale of the Year
This last week you’ve likely heard snippets about this “huge homeschool sale” via graphics, giveaways, and social media. The Build Your Bundle sale officially kicked off on Wednesday, May 15th and will end on Wednesday, May 22nd. 

In case you’re uncertain how it all works, I’ll tell you this –  the first year it was held I was so very, very confused. There was a lot to wrap my brain around and by the time the end of the school year rolls around, my head is full of just wanting to be d.o.n.e. with all things school related. 

(Can I get an amen?)

BUT saving money on homeschool curriculum is something I do like, so I jumped in, trying to fully understand, and realized how much the could really benefit our family! Since then it has become one of my favorite homeschool sales of the year. 

In case you are feeling overwhelmed and haven’t quite figured out the ins and outs of the sale, be sure to look at this post for a more in-depth explanation on how the sale works. Definitely take a peek before May 22nd though – because the sale ends at midnight and then you can’t take advantage of the deals you find now! (Scroll down to see what we will be purchasing). 

In case you missed it, here’s the post that goes a little more in detail on the bundles: 

My FAVORITE Homeschool Sale of the Year! (8 Days Only)

The Items That Made My Basket

While I LOVE the pre-assembled bundles that have been put together,  I opted to build my own bundle. This year, the format of building your own has changed to make it even easier. Essentially, the more you buy, the more you save! 

Above is a graphic showing the items I purchased this year. There are several things that I am REALLY excited about: The Arrow book study, Math in the Cards, and the Ultimate US History Cheat Sheets.

Here are the items from my bundle: 

  • Math in the Cards: The Ultimate Math Card Game Collection
  • The Arrow: Literature Guide for Johnny Tremain
  • The Ultimate US History Cheat Sheets
  • Homeschool High School Grading Tool
  • How to Write the Perfect 5-Paragraph Essay
  • The Bronze Bow – Study Guide
  • State Research Project with Bonus Lapbook

Overall the total value of my bundle was $140.93, but with the 75% discount, my cost was $35.24. Here’s a quick look at the discount structure for building your own bundle. Essentially, add WHATEVER you want to your bundle and at each level you save more. 

 

Themed Bundles

Preschool Bundle
There are 15 themed bundles to choose from, ranging in price from $10 to $49 and the above graphic shows what is included in The Planner Bundle (my Weekly Homeschool Planner is included!). Save up to 96% on the pre-assembled bundles that range in topic from Early Learning through High School. 

Most popular Bundles:

  1. Mystery Bundle
  2. Preschool Bundle
  3. STEM Bundle
  4. History Bundle
  5. Kindergarten Bundle

Most popular Courses & Memberships:

  1. Start a Blog and YouTube Channel for Kids
  2. Total Time Makeover for Kids
  3. Spanish for Kids
  4. The Joy of Handwriting Success Course Plus Copywork Bundle
  5. Accounting Fundamentals

Build Your Bundle - The Biggest Homeschool Curriculum Sale of the Year

Really – there is a LOT, and it is easy to get overwhelmed because of the bundle varieties. It took me quite some time to finally decide what to choose, especially because I wanted to make sure I got the best deal for us money-wise.

BUT, all that said, there are some amazing deals to be found! Set aside a little time today and start browsing. 

Just remember, you only have until Wednesday, May 22nd at midnight to purchase. 

If you have any questions about the bundles or the sale, feel free to email and ask too! 

This post may contain affiliate or advertiser links. Read my full disclosure policy here.

Have a Little Poetry Fun with Your Kids!

Poetry is one of those areas that I’ll admit to having dropped the ball on a bit with our kids. It’s an area we plan to tackle more in depth in the upcoming year. 

BUT – April is national poetry month, and WriteShop has a freebie for us to use and get moving on some poetry learning: Let’s Write Imagery Poems

 

The unit study is geared toward children in 3rd-9th grade with a focus of learning to write three different poems that come to life through the use of imagery and sensory detail:

  1. Color Poems Using similes, metaphors, and emotion words, students compare a favorite color to objects and experiences they can see, hear, touch, smell, and taste. Their five senses will help them come up with descriptive words and phrases. The result is a vibrant sensory poem that paints beautiful word pictures.
  2. Comparison Poems How is a fox like a cloud? How is a toaster like a dragon? While most poetry includes some form of imagery, the poems in this lesson are especially rich in figurative language. Children learn to combine poetic devices with descriptive adjectives, strong nouns, and active verbs to create a striking, imaginative poem.
  3. Shell Metaphor Poems As your kids study a seashell from every possible angle, they’ll begin to see how it reminds them of many things. From one angle, a shell might be a unicorn’s horn or a mighty drill. From another angle, it could be an ice cream cone or an Olympic torch. Your child’s point of view and vivid imagination will bring their Shell Metaphor to life!

The freebie includes twenty printable activities and worksheets with: 

 

  • practice exercises
  • brainstorming worksheets
  • poem planning worksheets
  • word banks
  • colorful lined writing pages

The best part is – it’s free (and we all like that!) for their subscribers. This study is a great way to wrap up your year or give yourself a little “spring” break from your day-to-day studies and still learn together. Here’s to lots of fun poetry! 

 

 

*NEW* Weekly Homeschool Planner

For the past three years I have been working on something behind the scenes, but never got around to actually DOING anything about it – as in sharing it with you. If I’m being honest there are a lot of things I’ve started and never completely finished. The main reason is perfectionism. 

It’s something I’ve struggled with for a very long time. While it may seem like I procrastinate on projects (which I do, in a way), the honest truth is – if it isn’t matching up to what I picture in my head, something inside me shuts down and doesn’t keep going. My brain has a million ideas, and there isn’t enough time. I can’t get it put together the way I envision, so it gets pushed aside. 

The last few years have been a process of me working toward getting over that hump, one baby step at a time. I’m definitely not all the way there yet, but maybe you can relate? 

One of the things I’ve been working on is a paper and pen version of my homeschool planner. I’ve been using it the past few years and love it – it’s simple but pretty. Efficient. While I love my other planner, staying off my laptop during school time has been important to me. This planner makes me smile (and that’s a great thing) and keeps my focus on the four people in front of me, rather than off on a rabbit trail. For my brain too, putting pen to paper really helps me connect the dots and remember things.

Because I love it so much, I really want to share it with you all – and I truly appreciate your patience in waiting with me.  I’m still tweaking a few things, but the best part is, I can share those tweaks via a bonus download page available only to those who purchase the planner! 

A Peek Inside the Weekly Homeschool Planner 

A few things to know about this planner: 

  • 8.5” x 11” undated pages – over 150 pages to use year after year (just like our Student Planners)
  • Colorful – not overly crazy, but subtle. Pretty makes planning fun!
  • Plenty of room for both weekly planning and a month-at-a-glance overview.
  • 10 subject areas with lined planning space
  • Planning pages include a month-at-a-glance, a weekly layout, homeschool vision, homeschool requirements, curriculum planning, daily schedules, and more.
  • Bonus download page (password protected) where you can find additional pages to add to your planner: curriculum wish list, field trip planning, goals for children, names/addresses, notes, unit planning, yearly attendance, and (coming soon) editable monthly and weekly pages.
  • 2 layouts: one labeled Monday-Friday and another with no days of the week so you can write in your own schedule 

A quick note: Our printer will print BORDERLESS. It is one of the paper choices in our printer settings. Our front and back covers were printed onto cardstock and then laminated for extra durability. We use a heavy weight paper (24 lb.) to print the planner and make the pages a little thicker.

Purchase Your Copy of the Planner 

If you would like to purchase a copy of the new Weekly Homeschool Planner, you can do so by clicking the link below

This planner is undated so you have the option of printing off a new copy each year. The pdf planner is available for $10 and you are more than welcome to print off copies for yourself – this year and in years to come. Please note the Weekly Homeschool Planner is only available as a pdf download and prints off double-sided. 

Your purchase also allows access to a ‘buyers only’ page where optional pages will be added including additional dated covers and other pages as readers/users request.

I truly hope this planner is a blessing to you all!

 

 


Need help with reading and spelling? 

Check out these FREE resources!