Moving On: Part 2

When I posted that our family was moving away from Sonlight, you all offered a lot of  suggestions for history curriculum.  Now I have some follow up questions.

Tapestry of Grace

TOG has been our second choice curriculum for several years and we were actually able to borrow one of the years and use it for a month or so.  Here are my hesitations. 1). Lesson planning, book selection for all levels seems overwhelming.  2.)  I was less than enthusiastic about several of their book selections that I’m familiar with and so wasn’t sure about the suggestions that I wasn’t familiar with.  (edited to clarify: I was disappointed in the quality of literature that they selected.)

My questions for you:

  • How do your younger children enjoy and fit in with TOG?  Do they enjoy discussing what they are learning with the older children?  How much are all the children able to do together?
  • How long do you think it will take me each week to lesson plan for ALL levels?
  • Do your children look forward to reading the TOG selections?   What do you think of the literature quality?

Heart of Dakota

  • Will  HOD allow all of our school age kids (Kindergarten to 8th grade) to study the same topics at the same time?

My Father’s World

I’ve heard so many positive comments about this program and I have two questions.

  • Ditto on the above question about multi-level teaching with this program.  We want to study the same topics/time periods with all of our school age children.
  • I can’t use the library because I would bankrupt our family with late fees.  Is the program still doable?

Truth Quest

I’d love more info.

  • Planning time?
  • Using it with multi-levels (K-8th)
  • Can I effectively use Truth Quest without using the library?
  • What about the quality of suggestions?
  • Is there any plan or is it just a book list?

Ambliside Online and Simply Charlotte Mason

We have enjoyed and used the history and literature suggestions from both of these in addition to our Sonlight books. We are still currently using several of their recommendations, so if you’re curriculum shopping, you should check out these sites.

So let’s talk history…

Other posts in this series:

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85 Responses to Moving On: Part 2
  1. Megan
    November 15, 2010 | 8:17 am

    I LOVE MFW. We did it last year and due to life circumstances did NOT do it this year but I am starting it ASAP! I love that it gives a plan, but is not so micromanaged. It also does SHORT lessons (Charlotte Mason style), Classic history (chronological), and YES…you can teach the kids out of one plan. I have 4 ages 11 to 5 and we all do MFW together. It is also reasonably priced. You can make it work without library. Many of the “main” books are bought w/ the curriculum and any extra read alouds you can improvise w/ what you have! It gives LOTS of suggestions and allows the parents to taper theh program to their needs…and is SIMPLE! that is just my 2 cents!


  2. Samantha
    November 15, 2010 | 8:22 am

    I chose TQ over TOG. We just got it a month or so ago, and it may be just what you are looking for. The only problem I am having is bouncing between the Spine book and individual topics. It is driving me a little batty! I am actually taking a step back, and putting my oldest back on MOH (which he was good with) and the youngest and I are going to loosely follow the TQ guide, alongside SOTW (which I swore I would never use), since SOTW is not Biblical, and TQ is. There are so many book suggestions in there! You are guided by the author through, but there are no lesson plans.
    There are age levels mentioned for almost every book throughout. I takes me very little time to do lesson plans, if I have the books available.
    One word of caution- I bought the spines when I purchased TQ. I would suggest getting the guide in our hands, and THEN choose the spine. A few I wouldn’t have purchased, and now I am buying more.
    It is much more than a book list:)
    I can scan a few pages of the guides we have, so you can take a look.


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:


    I’d love to look at TQ it is one of the things that we are seriously considering. Thank you.


  3. Erin
    November 15, 2010 | 8:30 am

    I can chime in a little about MFW! I used it for K, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd before moving to SL. The library is important, because MFW offers an extensive book list in the back of their TM’s – they don’t offer many “living books” other than a few read-alouds that can be ordered with the curriculum itself. So to really delve into the richness of the program, you’d want to either go through the book list and separately order select books to have on hand… or use the library.

    Combining children is really, really easy. In the TM, it has resources for multi-levels (such a research assignments for older children that the little children just skip), as well as resources that all levels can enjoy together. One note, however, MFW doesn’t recommend combining ages until 2nd grade, they feel it is important for K’ers and 1st graders to have their own program. Of course, that doesn’t mean they can’t sit in and glean, which all of mine did when we used it.

    One of the biggest drawbacks for me with MFW, surprisingly, was the price. I only used the History and Bible portions, but it is an “all encompassing” curriculum also including Science and Electives. So we didn’t use half the program, but still had to pay for it because it is all included. Then, having to use the library or purchase separately other books was an added expense. For us, SL was actually more economical and time saving because they supply all of the needed books and left me with a budget to purchase the science and electives of our choice.

    All of that being said, MFW’s curriculum is very rich and Biblically saturated. I loved it except for the points I just mentioned.


  4. Michelle
    November 15, 2010 | 8:37 am

    Honestly, there is a reason why homeschooling moms of multiple children often grow to love Tapestry of Grace. 🙂

    By the way, you can use alternative literature in every single week of Tapestry. You can even go backward or forward by a week or two when you discover a title you don’t care for. Typically, the Teacher’s Manual will give you a “heads up” for anything which might prove controversial. Personal taste might be another issue, though.

    We are now in our fourth year of using Tapestry and do love it. I am able to use it with children of all different learning styles and abilities, for one thing.

    On the flip side, our money is so tight right now that I’m considering alternative options as we’re completing our final unit of our current Tapestry level.

    First, I could use Ambleside Online AND Truthquest together. I was online over the weekend and looking at whether I could use AO for modern American history. I can. I can use the 11th grade AO plan with Truthquest Age of Revolution III for my 9th grader.

    I could then skip buying another level for the younger ones and simply use the AO suggestions for grade 5 for my 6th and 3rd graders–and possibly K. This would involve me reading aloud to my 3rd grade dyslexic child, who obviously could not tackle reading those assignments on her own. Some might be available in audio version free online or through my local library. I would still have to use my library fairly extensively for my 11th grader, though–which can prove a challenge sometimes. And it seems my planning might be increased and my breadth of covered information may decrease. Which might be okay.

    I actually think what I might do instead is either purchase Tapestry Classic used (less likely) or purchase a unit of Tapestry at a time. Each unit costs around $75 and does contain the Rhetoric and Dialectic discussions, which is one really great thing to have right in front of you ready to use without me spending hours reading and coming up with lectures or discussions on my own.

    The past couple of years I have simply been using Tapestry with the Evaluations (tests), skipping purchasing the other extras. I use the Evaluations because my church school requires numerical grades at the middle and high school levels. So, for me, it is worth it to have the pre-made tests. I can do without the maps, lapbooks, etc.

    I have looked over My Father’s World a little at a homeschooling conference and do not see how I would avoid buying at least two levels at once and doing two different cycles of history. I left using Veritas history over that very issue.

    Hope this helps you think it through a little. 🙂


  5. Shannon H.
    November 15, 2010 | 8:47 am

    I just started homeschooling my 3 and 4 year old, and my youngest is 9 mo. so I am no help to you, but I appreciate you sharing this transition that you’re going through, b/c it helps me see that even when my kids are older, and I’ve settled on curriculum, things could always change or need tweaking.

    I also wanted to say thanks for sharing the post on marshmallow blow guns. My girls and I made a couple for my husband for his birthday, and told our friends about them, who made 10 guns for their family and we had marshmallow wars at my husband’s birthday campout. What a blast – it was such a great idea- thankyou!


  6. Cindy
    November 15, 2010 | 8:47 am

    I can’t really tell about older children, since my oldest is just a first grader. I have managed to work some preschool stuff in there for my 3 year-old. They both beg for history and geography!

    As far as multiple children go, I imagine it won’t take much longer to plan for several levels than it does for one. It’s laid out in a very user-friendly way. It’s one of the reasons I’m sticking with it, in fact. I can already see how I’m going to use it as my kids get older. Plus, you only have to buy 4 years of curriculum, and then you’re done with that. That will come in handy for me when the kids are older and doing more expensive extra-curricular stuff.

    Love the book selections! The curriculum makes sure to offer alternates in case you can’t find or don’t want to use their selections, and you can easily find your own, too. So far, I’ve stuck with their suggestions, and we’re loving it! The only drawback for me has been storing them. Since our local library is pitifully small and can’t seem to get books on inter-library loan fast enough to keep up with our schedule, I’ve had to buy a lot of our books. Thank goodness for Swagbucks and Amazon. We’re gonna need a room just for a library, soon! (Which sounds awesome, but we can’t afford it.)


    Harmony Reply:

    Cindy, to which curriculum are you referring?


    Cindy Reply:

    I was talking about Tapestry of Grace. Sorry I didn’t make that clear.


    Harmony Reply:

    THANK YOU! Your review was excellent, so I wanted to make sure! 🙂


  7. Kathi
    November 15, 2010 | 8:50 am

    TOG – ? Looks completely multi-level, and all the comments from your last post had us taking a peek over the weekend. DH loves the look of it, I just wonder about the cost…buying ALL those books…

    I’ve never looked into HOD.

    MFW – is only multi-level for 2nd – 8th. K, 1st, and each 4 different high school years study their own curriculum. I also agree that you get a few good books in your package, but it relies heavily on the Library.

    TQH – we use this with VP. I really like it. You don’t really make lesson plans…very CM based. But you would have to plan which topics you are actually going to study. The year we have (1700) has something like 88 topics. You would also have to find a way to get your hands on the most important books. She does suggest spines, but under each topic are several, several books…Library. Bottom line, Book List, with author’s Christian-based World View commentary as Intro.

    AO – very overwhelming, not multi-level.

    SCM – I like this…wonder why I’ve never considered it. The Bible/History looks completely multi-level. And it looks like you purchase the lesson plans, which seem inexpensive to me. And there is also a book list that is not so overwhelming. Hmmm…

    Now my head hurts. Hope you find a solution soon, and I’m looking forward to hearing what you choose.



  8. Kelly
    November 15, 2010 | 9:04 am

    We have 4 children so far- Mary (6yo. 1rst Grade), Nathan (5yo. Kindy), Savvy is 3yo and Lyra is 8 months. This is our second year using TOG and we are very pleased with it.

    Here’s the thing with TOG- if you are someone who is comfortable picking & choosing, and don’t feel like you HAVE to do everything- TOG can work. It really is a buffet with lots of suggestions and you are NOT meant to do it all. People who struggle with TOG often seem to have difficulty with this aspect.

    Our 1rst and Kindy seem to be getting a lot from TOG- I’m not worried that they understand it all at their ages but I think it gives them a good overview. Since we’ll be visiting these topics again at least 3 more times, I don’t sweat over how much they’re retaining. That being said, my husband and I have both been pleasantly surprised at how much they are learning.

    So far, we’ve loved the books chosen, *especially* the literature selections. The LG pictures books are often quite beautiful. We just finished “Marguerite Makes a Book”- it was a wonderful story and the illustrations were gorgeous.

    As to planning- I spent about a day and a half this summer and planned the whole year for my LG kids. So I’ve had to do no planning during the year really. I would think that you could spend an hour or so a week to plan for everyone. I found it easy to sit down with my big TOG binder and the activity/art book and just wade through it- I opened up a word doc and made titles for each week with subcatagories. For example: Week 19: Columbus (or whatever it was)- then I had subcatagories of “READ”, “DO”, “TIMELINE” plus a few others I wanted to add in as a group activity “PRAY”- (we’re using Windows on the World), “POETRY”- (Favorite Poems Old & New), etc.

    So each week I just listed the books we needed to read, for “DO” I chose one of the suggested activities from the Activity/Art book. It really was super easy.

    Here is a sample I posted on my blog a few months ago for someone who asked how I do it:


  9. b.
    November 15, 2010 | 9:17 am

    I have read your blog for a long time but never commented.=) I live in Wisconsin and I was able to get a “teachers” library card because we homeschool. with it I am able to check things out for 4 weeks and I do not have any late fees. Didn’t know if that is something your library could do for you?? again love your blog!


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Thank you! I actually spoke to the librarian about this. It would solve a lot of problems. 😉


  10. Jenn
    November 15, 2010 | 9:32 am

    Agreeing with Kathi and Erin re: MFW. We have used the preschool package, K, 1st, Adventures in MFW, and then the multilevel years from ECC (year 1) through year 4. I have 7 kids ranging from 4 months to 13yo (8th grade). We used MFW for most of our homeschool years and loved it. The content is solidly biblical.

    We did not use it with a library (we are too far out in the country). Mostly I purchased books from Amazon or used books sellers. This was expensive, and it was time consuming to go through the MFW book list and choose which books to buy. We did usually approve of their selections (but not always). We are very conservative.

    Here are some reasons we have finally moved away from MFW after so many happy years.

    1) It really would work better with access to a good library. There just are not that many living books in the package, less so in the later years of the cycle.

    2) I felt the program became less “Charlotte Mason” as we moved up through the 5-year cycle. I have several young children and I want to be able to teach everyone together, and by year 4 that just was not possible anymore.

    3) We did not use the science but had to purchase it with the rest of the curriculum. We had gotten to the point that we did not use the Bible either, but I have to say that in some of the years the Bible is really excellent. Also I was having to do so much changing around to involve all my kids that I began to feel that I was writing my own curriculum. I just don’t really have time for that; and it didn’t make sense to pay for a curriculum that really was only serving my oldest.

    4) We would like to keep the family together even when we have high school kids in the mix. With MFW that is not possible. Additionally the MFW high school program has the student in school more hours every day than my husband and I prefer. We felt it did not leave enough time for other pursuits and ministry opportunities.

    In short I think it depends on which year you would need to use.


  11. Crissi
    November 15, 2010 | 10:14 am

    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE TOG!!! Currently I have Dialectic, UG, & LG students. This is what works for us: TOG is laid out in 9 week units, so we school for 9 weeks and then we break for a couple of weeks. I use the school breaks to enter my lesson plans for the next week. If you use Edu-Track, you can save yourself a LOT of time later. I input all my plans into Edu-Track week by week and then export them out to a TOG file I created in my Documents folder. Then I have individual files labeled with the Year and Unit that I place the weeks in. As I enter them into Edu-Track, I will save them off as individual weeks, under each level. So the next time I come back to that year, I will have the lesson plans already done for that year, that level. I can then just import it in and VIOLA, lesson plans done. Now I may tweak it a bit if one child isn’t ready for a particular book or I may add reading to that level, it just really depends.

    As to ordering all the books… The Rhetoric level books are the most expensive and the ones that are typically not found in your library. The rest of the books, about 90% of are in our library. So the only books that I really buy are multi-unit books, ones that I think they might enjoy reading over and over, and then books that might go on for almost a full unit. Right now, for about 9 weeks worth of books for the D & UG levels I spend about $60-$100. I only order then every 9 weeks so it gives me a little time to save for them. I don’t buy the books for the LG level, I will pick out books and let my older ones read to the younger ones. I usually pick out books on the subject that TOG has for that week, sometimes getting their recommendations, sometimes getting other books.

    Scheduling… THis is the ONLY part I do not like w/Tapestry. I have to input all the plans into Edu-Track, so I look at spending about 20-30 hours per unit entering them all, deciding what books I want them to read/don’t read. As they progress into the Rhetoric levels, you should be able to hand them the sheets and give them what you want them to do. I am slowly transitioning my D student to that.

    If you have Edu-Track, I can send you a week of what I have planned and you can look at it. All you would have to do is import it into your program. I have also started typing out all the Accountability Questions and letting my son answer those on the computer. (I have the print version, with the Digital version you can manipulate all those things)

    With all that said, our TOG life is VERY flexible. I enjoy being able to use a week laid out, or take a book out from their selection and use my own or use one of their alternative books. We also have taking one unit and stretched it to 2 or just done that with a few weeks. Right now we are in the Civil War era and there are SO many things I want them to read, we started learning about it and we are taking a 2 week break to do just some reading that wasn’t in TOG, but I wanted them to read.

    One word about their writing… While I love TOG, I’m NOT fond of their writing. Right now we are using Institute for Excellence in Writing. I would like to use it for a couple of years, get the basics all down and then start to use TOG’s writing. I LOVE the ideas that they have incorporated, but I needed more information on HOW to teach writing. IEW gives me that and later, I believe, that my kids will be better able to complete the writing projects assigned by TOG.

    I hope that helps! If you have any more questions, I’d be happy to help!


    Sarah Reply:

    I have been using TOG for a couple years- I have two UG (one bridging to D) and one LG. Honestly, it has been a love/hate experience for us. I really love the curriculum- and the philosophy Marcia Sommerville has. I like the layout, the approach, the research she has put into it. Which is why I have continued to stick it out.

    But the prep work is a BEAR. It takes me hours before each unit to JUST figure out what books to use- our library stinks and so I have to buy a lot. And if you are buying, then it is a very expensive curriculum. And I also spend a ton of time copying the SAPS for the kids, although I did see that they now sell a set of SAPS you could buy- but I have three kids so that adds up too.

    I am not a person who feels like I have to “do it all” but I DO feel like I wish there was a bit more direction. Like Crissi, I am not using their writing (I also went with IEW) because it is just not directed enough, and I am about to scrap the geography aspect for the same reason. TOG touts flexibility as a strong point- but sometimes it feels TOO flexible.

    Honestly, there are times I feel like I just use it for a very expensive book list.

    BUT I will say that I have been told that once we get further into the Dialectic and Rhetoric stage that this is where TOG really shines. So… for now we will continue to stick it out. But if something better presents itself I am jumping ship!


    Dawn Reply:

    I used TOG for one year and I completely agree with what Sarah has said. I did jump ship.

    I will add that it is written from a reformed perspective which was what made it so appealing for me. However, the reformed world view is NOT within the reading material itself but in the commentary and discussions questions provided in the TG. You have to do a lot of reading yourself to get those points across to your kids.

    Most of the reading materials are not very different from SOW which I know is what prompted your move from Sonlight. The TOG discussions and TG provide what the teacher needs to direct the students through the reading but there’s extra work to be done there.

    I also felt frustrated, as did my child who learns similarly to me, because we had to fit lots of little piece of info together to get the big picture. Although the kids are all studying the same era, having one child focus on one aspect while another focuses on a different aspect just didn’t work for us. History felt like a series of plates that we had to keep spinning. Frustrating.

    We are currently using History Revealed. It is written for middle school but has an elementary activity book to accompany. I’m not a fan of the elementary book but the middle school is really good. Not reformed and we’ve had some issues with a few theological points but have been able to work around those issues.

    I’ll be praying you find a good fit for your family and I love the table cloth idea!! Thanks for sharing.


    Sarah Reply:

    “However, the reformed world view is NOT within the reading material itself but in the commentary and discussions questions provided in the TG. You have to do a lot of reading yourself to get those points across to your kids.”

    Dawn that is EXACTLY what I have felt! And nobody on the TOG forum seems to understand what I mean!


  12. AmyG
    November 15, 2010 | 10:37 am

    MFW – the books not being sold with the curriculum like Sonlight is the biggest downfall in my opinion. This year I am buying many of the books used from Amazon or from Sonlight. We do not have a good library close. (However, with that said, the books are enrichment and not essential to the program. Any good reading material on the subject or not would do. But I have been enjoying their suggestions, and I can find more of them on Amazon or SL than at our library.

    We love it in all other respects. You are able to study together through 8th grade. K and 1st (and optional 2nd) have their own curriculum as well. But I find it doable to work with the littles a bit separately and then everyone studies the group subjects together. MFW has really encouraged this….always getting enough of the fun materials to encourage the littles to join in on the discussions and activities at their own level. We don’t “do grades/i.e. label kids in 2nd,3rd, etc” and this really helps us to make learning natural, family centered and fun. WE are also adopting a sibling group of older kids this year. It will be great to be able to continue to “do school” together with them.

    When we get to the high school levels, MFW assumes the kids learn much independently. WE aren’t there yet and can’t comment on this, other than (as an ex-high school teacher in public/private schools) I thought the quality of their programs looked great…one of the major reasons we have chosen this curriculum for our family. At this point we plan on using it all the way through.


  13. Kathy M
    November 15, 2010 | 10:37 am

    Have you looked into Illuminations from Bright Idea Press? They use Mystery of History as their spine(meshes biblical and world history). Illuminations comes in 2 levels (3-8th grade & high school). Both levels study the same time frame and have the same family read aloud. Literature guides are included, as is a flexible teacher’s lesson plan ( there is very little prep).
    The downside is that you will need to look around for the books. There isn’t an option to go to one place and buy all your books.


  14. Jessica
    November 15, 2010 | 11:35 am

    Does the new home school program you’re using completely omit aspects of history that conflict the bible’s teaching, or just integrate the bible into it?

    Also, how do you teach science? Are dinosaurs part of your curriculum? What about early humans, before 6000 years ago, like cro-magnon man/cavemen?


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:


    Thanks for taking the time to comment.

    We teach and present all the facts to our children. The difference between what we teach and what you (or those who believe in the theory of evolution) teach is the interpretation of the facts.

    We have never come across ANY history that conflicts with the Bible’s teaching. And as far as science, if people are intellectually honest the facts and laws of science more closely support a theory of intelligent design rather than random chance and millions of years.

    Evolutionists choose to ignore facts that refute their theory of an ancient earth (like the saltiness of the ocean or the amount of helium in the atmosphere among other things).

    As far as the cro-magnon man what makes you believe that he lived more than 6,000-7,000 years ago? A team of geneticists led by scientists at the University of Ferrara and the University of Florence have shown that a Cro-Magnoid individual allegedly 28,000 years old was genetically and anatomically consistent with modern humans. Interesting there has been no evidence of evolution in DNA over the past 28,000 years.

    The world view of evolutionists prompts them to interpret facts differently than those who believe in intelligent design.


  15. Hannah Schultz
    November 15, 2010 | 11:35 am

    With regard to the library, (and perhaps you are already aware of it/have checked it out) a lot of libraries have teacher programs which allow teachers to check out books for an extended period of time—sometimes 3 months or a school semester—and a lot of those libraries count homeschooling moms as teachers.

    Of course, from family experience I can tell you, this only helps if you can find the books after the three months are up. =-)


  16. Branch Of Wisdom
    November 15, 2010 | 11:54 am

    As a long time user of MFW and this year making the switch to Sonlight, I have to say, I LOVE and miss My Father’s World. We enjoy Sonlight, but some of the books, I feel I have to watch…with MFW, not the case and very Biblical based. I miss that greatly with Sonlight. We have multi-aged children and used MFW and had no problems with the littles and even beefing it up for some High School.

    In my blog’s left sidebar, I have MFW posts listed by year and I tried to include photos to give you an idea of some of the activities that we did.

    Have fun in your quest!


  17. Meredith_in_Aus
    November 15, 2010 | 12:42 pm

    Hi Kimberley,

    This will be our fourth year using TOG. (Our school year starts in Jan/Feb here in Aus). So in 2011, I’ll have 2 D students, 1 UG student, and 3 LG students (plus toddler). I honestly don’t know how I would be able to do school w/out TOG. Pretty much all the planning has been done for me, it’s just a matter of making sure I have the books and that I print out the Lit worksheets. I spend quite a bit of time (1 hour?) reading the TNs each week, but they are so full of great stuff, it’s really interesting and they have everything I need contained in them. Each week they have a ‘Glance Ahead’ section which outlines any questionable material in the next week’s reading. Then you can either tell them to skip those certain pages or whatever. I know next year we have an African history book that contains one image (Hutu/Tutsi massacre) that my husband and I feel is too graphic. He wants me to locate another famous image he is aware of (he studied it) and glue that image into the book over the top of that image… Others we haven’t had a problem with. I think they err on the side of ultra conservative with their warnings.

    I love how from UG on up they work so independently, giving me plenty of time with the littles (I do all their reading aloud). But after lunch I do do the selected Read Aloud for all levels. Their RA selections have been SO good everyone has begged me to do it on the days where I’ve sometimes thought, “I’m too tired…we’re running behind…” This is usually the forum when their discussion amongst themselves comes out, after we’ve done our read aloud. It seems to trigger discussion and they add in other stuff they’ve read about during the week.

    Another way of bringing them all together would be through the hands-on activities, but I’m just not that great at that. I ‘wish’ I was more of that sort of mum, but I’m just not. I do, however, buy most of the activity guides so the older ones can do the activities when they want to.

    As to keeping up with the other levels, I just schedule ‘meetings’ with the older kids in the afternoon. Eg., my UG students read their lit on Mon/Tue, then do their lit wksht and we meet on Tue afternoon to go over it. Sometimes they need help, other times it’s just talking it through. When we do it this way, that’s my ‘marking’ done.

    Did you check out my blog for the way I order our books? I will be posting more on our TOG studies soon. Most of my planning happens before we start each unit: printing out Reading Assignment sheets/Student Activity Pages for UG+, w/shts for each level, so weekly it’s not that much. Each week I just get them out of my working file and hand them out to the kids to put in their “This Week’s Work” envelope. Then I locate the books we need for that week (all year-level/unit colour-coded on my TOG bookshelf) and move them to our current week shelf (Your rain gutter shelf would work great for this…). As to the kids impression of our reading – all I know is that EVERY morning they are reading something from our TOG shelf. These books are so used (I’m glad I spend the time covering them in clear Contact paper…) in our home. I will say though, my boys complained about reading Little Women! It was too ‘girly’ for their liking (I told them to get over it ;oP ).

    I am really SO impressed with their upper level studies. They are learning good literary/historical analysis bit by bit. No working out how you’re going to manage to teach it. You know that you will cover everything you need to.

    Okay, I’ll stop now, I’m rambling. I hope I’ve answered your questions. Any more, ask away…

    In Him



  18. vicki
    November 15, 2010 | 1:16 pm

    My thoughts on MFW> You will find its WAY less reading for you. You will also find that it is complete WITH OUT the library selections. Not as full as Sonlight but just as complete. I also find that Sonlight readers tend to quite well with MFW years. Its great for the younger set because it includes them with hands on activities which are generally simple to implement. (With shopping lists before each week aslo the yahoo groups people have typed a years worth of shoppign lists so you can keep those in the van all the time (lol) MFW also has a great highschool program for when you have a kiddo above the 8th grade. The best part is your not buying a new year every year. You re-use a year in 5 years and because of the supplements its all new to the repeators. 🙂 We kept our Sonlight books so we have doubles of alot of the core books which is nice and also our SL cores have some of the book basket books so we have kept those as well.


  19. Rebekah
    November 15, 2010 | 1:29 pm

    Perhaps I shouldn’t be suggesting anything because my oldest is only in 4th grade. We have five children with number six on the way. But…we enjoy the history books that Vision Forum and others sell.
    I do not go by a certain curriculum; I like the freedom from making this decision. For example, last year we read, Unwrapping the Pharoahs. I think this is an Answers in Genesis book. You can get it at either place. We read this for several weeks. I would read a couple of pages ahead at night, omiting what was above their heads, but for the most part, we read it entirely. At the end, we read G.A. Henty’s, Cat of Bubastes. It was wonderful. Because we had already learned so much about the Egyptian history in the previous book, it was easy to relate to and all of the children loved it. We finished up by watching the DVD that came with the book and then made a salt dough pyramid with mummies inside. It is proudly displayed in our living room and we learned so much!
    We are doing the same thing with the Civil War. A Civil War book, Henty’s, With Lee in Virginia, and then the Civil War movie that Vision Forum sells, Walking Through History (I think is the name).
    I’m definitely a beginner at this, but we love it and I don’t sit and plan out lessons or think too much about it. The Civil War book we’re currently reading, enables me to read right along with them because it is not as advanced as the Pharoah book. There are so many good history books out there (Wallbuilders, Vision Forum, Answers in Genesis) the possibilities are exciting! My husband and I love going to the used curriculum sales to find such good books, but the bulk of our history books, we have ordered new.


  20. Kris
    November 15, 2010 | 1:45 pm

    I am thankful for this discussion! I was currently looking into MFW and liked the look of it. I took note that they, too, used several volumes of Story of the World – one of the main reasons for leaving the SL curriculum. This concerned me about using MFW. I’m interested in hearing others’ thoughts on this issue. Has anyone contacted MFW and asked similar questions about using this resource? Basically, I’m rethinking MFW, but am torn because I like their program, otherwise.
    Thank you so much for having this discussion. Very helpful for my family!

    In Christ,


    My Boaz's Ruth Reply:

    Here is a thread on why MFW uses SOTW vol 2 and not vol. 1


  21. Shannon F
    November 15, 2010 | 1:56 pm

    We use TOG, and I have a love/hate relationship with it.
    What I love:
    1. They have samples you can print from their website. I knew exactly what I was buying. Also, you can just buy one unit (9 weeks) at a time, making it quite economical to try out.
    2. It is loosely planned for me, giving me the room I need to add/subtract books, re-read the books they love, or dive deeper into a subject, etc…
    3. It teaches me to teach my kids to make their own schedule. So in the beginning (and with the littles)you are spending a little more time on planning, but you will move toward planning less and guiding the planning more. I only have two, but I can’t see how it would take much more time to plan for more children because they are doing most of it themselves. Does that make sense?
    4. It is a no-brainer to use for multiple levels. My pre-k dd loves to listen, look, learn with her 2nd grade sister. I can not attest to a little being interested in a much older siblings discussions.
    5. You need only buy 4 year plans, then never have to purchase the curriculum again.
    6. It is almost all inclusive. I only HAVE to add in Math, Science, and Phonics.

    What I hate:
    1. Like you, I don’t do well with getting my books back to the library on time, making it near impossible to not spend a fortune on fines. The cost of buying all the books in the plans are too much for our family to afford. (I have started going to the library twice a week to read, discuss, and do worksheets. This works for us because our library is near the YMCA, and we spend a fair amount of time at the Y anyway.)
    I guess that is the only thing I don’t like, it is just a pretty big one.

    We are currently using Year 2 Unit 1, Middle Ages. If you have any specific about what we are using please send me and email. I would be happy to help.


    Grateful for Grace Reply:

    These are my concerns with TOG. We did Years 1 and 2 and loved it, mostly, but it was waaaay too expensive. I am not good with ‘pick what you want, but these are some good books’. I can’t say no to books. It got really expensive to do TOG with 3 levels. I didn’t even buy as many of the LG books as I wanted due to cost constraint (and I have the same problem with the library, plus some others, so that option is really out).

    MFW looked too simple for us after 7 years of SL. Just my opinion. My kids are voracious readers and MFW didn’t seem to have enough, plus I still couldn’t have them all on the same page.

    I looked into Winter Promise, but still couldn’t combine all the kids.

    Ambleside is intriguing, but I really want an IG (7+ years of SL will do that to a girl).

    TOG was the choice, but I’m not 100% thrilled. A friend has studied it more and says she has some doctrinal concerns (we are not Catholic and she says the author is, I hadn’t realized that). I’m checking that out. I like the TOG lesson plans just fine. I’m not really liking the look of Years 3 and 4 (why stretch out those years so very much??).

    I’ve considered MOH. Will look to see if you’ve shared thoughts on that yet.

    I’m going to be following your ‘study’ as I am on the same one, but hadn’t wanted to figure it out yet. I need to though. Avoidance is bad. 😉 Having a plan before May would be great.

    As we continue with Core 5, which I just love, you are keeping me from pretending the problem of next year doesn’t exist.


  22. Jenn
    November 15, 2010 | 2:06 pm

    Someone mentioned that MFW uses Story of the World as their history spine. They do use SOTW 2, 3, and 4 — but not SOTW 1. Just thought I’d clarify that.


  23. Tara
    November 15, 2010 | 2:09 pm

    We used TQ for a few years and now we use Mystery of History. We loved TQ but it was hard to determine which books to choose for each topic and so I usually put several on hold at the library and then we had several good ones we wanted to read from those so it ended up taking us too long to get through the book. I like the lessons in MOH and the activities are divided by age range. We don’t do every activity but they (6th and 4th) make memory cards for each lesson and we do a timeline. I do love the idea of TQ and with lots of ages to share the books, it might work better. I just didn’t want to miss any of the books myself!


  24. Jamie
    November 15, 2010 | 2:18 pm

    MFW: I have some friends using it this year and loving it… but they extensively use the library. Also, it does use Story of the World, which I know you are not thrilled with (I’ve never used it so I have no strong feelings about it whatsoever at the moment!). From what I understand, you can combine with fairly minimal tweaking until high school. You also have to order their science, so if you’re happy with your own science, you’ll be buying something you may or may not use. Most of the people I know love it, though :).

    HOD: We were contemplating HOD, Sonlight, MFW, and TOG prior to temporarily deciding on Sonlight. We chose not to do MFW because we LOVE books and I cannot rely on our library… I am REALLY BAD with not returning things on time and constantly owe money. I do not see how you would use HOD with multiple levels without a lot of tweaking. Which is partly my issue with using Sonlight long term… same thing. Good for multiple ages… TO A POINT. Anything more than a 3 year age stretch and you would need to tweak the life out of it. DOABLE, but by the time you make it work, you might not really be using HOD. That being said: I still love the look of HOD :).

    So, not much new information from me… but thought I’d chime in with the little bit I do know ;). Have fun with decisions! Would love to hear how Nick is doing sometime :). Titus man just graduated from in home therapy to having to go to therapy every week. I like where he goes, but loading everyone up every week is *really* annoying!



    Shelly Smiths Reply:

    I am using the HOD for our third year and absolutely LOVE IT! My two older boys are 20 mos apart, so they do well together. My third is only 4 so we have not begun formal schooling yet. However, because the CM method is so prevalent, I find that our “class work” time is relatively short. I think adding in another child should not be too difficult. 🙂


  25. Michelle Ross
    November 15, 2010 | 3:11 pm

    We are in our second year using HOD and we LOVE it. I will say that I’m only schooling 1 child now though. Next year I will have a K and 2nd grader. It terms of use I find it extremely user friendly and so far have really loved all of it. I looked into MFW but the fit just wasn’t right for us.


  26. Pam Graham
    November 15, 2010 | 3:39 pm

    Ambleside online is NOT multi-level friendly. I don’t care for some of the book selection either. MFW & Sonlight are my favorites for my six.


  27. Rachel
    November 15, 2010 | 4:07 pm

    We are beginning to debate using a curriculum (vs using the hodgepodge we currently throw together each year). Thanks for some places to begin the hunt for a good Biblically sound curriculum.


  28. Christine @ Our Homeschool Reviews
    November 15, 2010 | 4:47 pm

    We use HOD and you can have multiple children using the same program, but probably not K-8.

    Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory (overview of early American history from 1565 – 1860’s) for ages 6-8.

    Bigger Hearts for His Glory (American History from 1500’s – 1970’s.) for ages 7-9, extending to 10-11.

    Preparing Hearts for His Glory (Creation to Modern Day overview) for ages 8-10, extending to 11-12.

    Creation to Christ for ages 9-11, extending to 12-13.

    Resurrection to Reformation for ages 10-12, extending to 13-14.

    There are two more planning to come out but they are not ready yet.

    Our daughter is 7 and we are using the Preparing book, so technically children ages 7-12 could use it. Less writing for 7 yr olds and more for 12.

    They have programs for younger children as well, I just didn’t list those.


  29. Celee
    November 15, 2010 | 5:06 pm

    I like the structure of Sonlight, but also have added titles from TOG and even MFW. We LOVE books and my 9 and 11 yr olds needed more to read than the 3+4 core provides. When I looked into TOG, it seemed possible, but a bit overwhelming to do with kids of different ages and reading levels. If you go with TOG, I know you’ll figure out a way to streamline multi-level homeschooling. I’ll be interested to see what you guys decide on.

    Also, what about Heart of Wisdom? I’m curious as to why it’s not in the running. Not multi-level friendly?



    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Thanks Celee!

    Heart of Wisdom is in the running. It just hadn’t been mentioned in any of the comments, so I didn’t ask questions about it. 🙂


  30. Sherri
    November 15, 2010 | 5:43 pm

    This is my first year using MFW, but I LOVE IT!

    My kids are in K & 3rd, so we’re using their Kindergarten & Adventures curricula.

    Prior to this year I used Ambleside & SCM and my MAIN reason for choosing MFW was the fact that that the Lesson Planning is DONE! 😉

    Of course, we also live in the suburb of a large city & are blessed with an EXCELLENT library system, which we use extensively. I too was always horrible about getting my books back on time, but I’ve just had to seriously buckle down & get it done. Plus, I have a special area where all those library books are kept so they don’t get scattered or lost.

    We have a VERY limited homeschooling budget & I felt that MFW offered a Charlotte Mason-style education, with lesson planning done for ya, for the best $ value that I could find. 🙂

    Good luck & God bless!


  31. Wendy
    November 15, 2010 | 5:57 pm

    This is my 6th year with MFW and we love it. Their philosophy is to give K & 1st grade their own program, so the child can learn to read well before joining in with the family from 2nd-8th grades. If you have your own phonics program that you’re happy with for the little ones you can easily do that and let them sit in on the read-alouds and hands-on activities of the olders. The high school years are written *to* the student so they can learn to work independently and pace themselves, with a once-a-week check in with mom scheduled.

    Someone else mentioned that they do use SOTW, but they don’t use SOTW Vol.1 due to its content. It is used in conjunction with other history texts like Streams of Civilization, so it’s not the only point of view that you get.

    The library book list can be omitted, but it’s there to enrich and broaden the students’ understanding of the different topics, and where the living books come from. I would assume that you have a decent home library built up by this time that you could use to supplement your studies. Also if you’re used to buying books yearly from SL, you could always buy the books from their booklist (and sell at the end of the year, if you want to recoup the money). They mark the ones not to miss.


  32. Lollie
    November 15, 2010 | 6:08 pm

    We love TOG, but we’ve molded it to fit us! I have 3 levels right now. We do lap-books all together. If I know of a better book about the same subject I use it. I never buy all the books. I check my library first before I buy. I mostly buy the older level books that my library doesn’t have or can’t get through inter-library loans. If there is a subject I don’t like, I modifiy it or skip it. It is just a curriculum, a guide to teaching your children, you are the one in control. I like the layout and flexiblity. Some times we take 2 weeks to do subjects we’re really enjoying!
    There is a TOG second hand message board, you can get books there:)


  33. Valerie
    November 15, 2010 | 7:02 pm

    I cannot wait to scroll through some of these answers. We did not do Sonlight, but we were listening to Story of the World for a while and quit for the exact reasons you laid out in your previous post. We are excited to be looking for a new curriculum for History. Lately we have just been using the A Beka history readers, which we like.


  34. Megan Volmer
    November 15, 2010 | 9:33 pm


    We are in our sixth year of homeschooling and have been with MFW since our second year (1st grade). I used it with my oldest, but with my second grader and my current first grader I just used Alphaphonics and they listened to whatever we were reading.

    We are a military family and while in MA – Grades 1-3 we had a great library system where we were able to get 95% of all the books in the bibliograhy. Grades 4 and 5 have been in SC and we probably do not have access to 95% of the books. That being said, I do not feel my kids have suffered from the lack of enrichment. I really like the fact that the author of MFW was a missionary overseas and the curriculum incorporates Scripture into everything. When we tore the veil in the temple we had made last year right after reading the crucifixion story I had goosebumps. The projects are easy, yet very meaningful.. Not sure how much time you spend reading per day, but I would say I spend about an hour and a half reading the Bible, History and Science. There is also a corresponding read aloud schduled. We are reading Augustus Caesars’ World for History and though it is nearly 300 pages it is not textbookish in the least. My kids beg me to read ahead. Hope this helps.

    Love your site.



  35. Tami Rod
    November 15, 2010 | 10:20 pm

    We are looking at switching from Sonlight to Hearts of Dakota for literature. I’m looking at doing my kids (K-8)all with the Drawn Into the Heart of Reading. For history we are considering some of the great looking dvd series from Vision Forum. I’d love to see what you decide.


  36. Charlene Martin
    November 16, 2010 | 5:48 am

    We love using SCM! I find it SO easy to follow, love how concise their plans are and in one place. They give the reading for each day broken down by age level. The books are pretty easy to find either on Amazon or at the library.

    We’ve used Weaver and SOTW before and I felt overwhelmed with too much to do, too many options. I don’t feel overwhelmed with SCM. There’s plenty of reading to do without all the extra fluff just to make you feel like you’re doing more.

    I also love the forums on SCM. The women are wonderful, full of information of how they tweak it to fit their family and full of encouragement.


    Deja Reply:

    What is SCM? Do you have a link you could send?


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Simply Charlotte Mason 🙂


  37. Heather P
    November 16, 2010 | 7:12 am

    Kimberly, as you may remember, I’m no longer homeschooling. However, I had begun to re-evalulate our history plans as well, during the last year I taught the girls at home. One resources I purchased that I truly value still is a book called All Through the Ages. It is a booklist, but it really is more. You can Google the title and get to the website easily, and it gives great samples. I don’t know what your time constraints are for planning, but I found this plus the revised Guerber spines they sell at Nothing New Press to be very flexible and easy to add living books to. Not sure how much planning time you have but rather than buying a package that only partially meets your needs, this might be the way to go. It definitely allows for multi-age teaching pretty easily, as the books are divided by age within each topic/period so you can pick what you want.


  38. MomStarr
    November 16, 2010 | 7:21 am

    Kimberly, We have used TQ; American History guide. The planning is simply looking through the guide and choosing the people and events you want to cover in each era and deciding how much time to spend on each one.
    It is not a problem to use it with multi-levels. Even if you choose some books to read together that are not enough for the older ones or are too much for the younger ones then you can always give them a little extra reading on their own from the list. Even ask that older child to come to the discussion one time and share what they learned from their reading. But the guide has plenty of suggestions and you can easily find books for all the ages. I have found much benefit and sufficiency in all her suggestions.
    I have never been able to find TQ books at libraries near me. I gave up and we too have trouble returning books on time. 🙂 She suggests certain binds that are overviews of history. Some I really like and a few I don’t. I use these on people/events that I just want an overview of and then I just buy books that are about people and events that are important to Jim and I. Our desire is to collect great books for our children to use not only now but when they begin to homeschool their own children. Many GREAT books are out of print and some TQ suggests are and I have had fun searching for these. As a side note searching for these OOP books on Ebay has turned my oldest son into an Ebayer (buyer and seller).
    There is no plan in the guide just a great list of books. Hope this is helpful. Lori


  39. Lizzie
    November 16, 2010 | 7:23 am

    I have used TOG, too much for me. MFW looks stunning but not as rigorous as I am used to using. I used Mystery of History with Truthquest for 3 years, my TOG “lite” I called it. That was a winning combo for 5th-7th.
    Now my older one is using Spielvogel with Omnibus for high school and my little one is doing Ambleside and I still use Truthquest with both. TQ is a great supplement to any history curriculum as it is a Christian commentary chronologically by topic. Good luck with your choice, I am sure you will find the right fit for your family.


  40. Rachel Q
    November 16, 2010 | 7:27 am

    Since you mentioned Simply Charlotte Mason, I will add comments to that. We’ve been using their products and suggestions for the last year or two. My kids really do like it. Right now I’m only planning for 2 different grade levels (unless of course preschool is included). We have also started using materials from Queen Homeschool…another CM supplier. We really enjoy this, too and have plans to use more of their products. I love the looks of their history and science, although we will probably stick w/ SSM history simply b/c it’s working well. Wish you the best in your endeavors.


  41. marla
    November 16, 2010 | 8:30 am

    Just want to say that I can testify about MFW being used without the library. We live in Japan and for the entire 1st Grade book list, I could only find 5 books at the main library in our city. We just go on without them. We read tons and tons of books, they just don’t always fit perfectly in with the theme of the curriculum. But I think that doesn’t set us back at all. The curriculum seems pretty complete without the library books to me. and it is so inexpensive compared to others I looked into.


  42. Lisa
    November 16, 2010 | 9:22 am

    So many comments! I doubt you’ll even get to mine but here’s my two dollars

    I have 6 kids, one graduated, one in high school, and the rest young-2nd grade and under. Just to give a picture of where I am. 🙂

    TOG- I tried to like this curriculum. I hated the book selections especially after using Sonlight from levels 2-300. I did not find it easy to use or easy to use with youngers. It was dry, more expensive than SL and did not make my life easier.

    Ambleside- I really liked this curriculum! My kids did not like the old-style language in a lot of the books but I found it to be of good quality. BUT I think it’s something best started early or you really need to go back a few levels for the older student. There is also a new sorter that will help to combine lots of kids. Here’s the link if you haven’t come across it yet…

    Next, lol
    HOD- I’m using this with success with my younger kids. I am combining two levels without any stress on my part. I have my second grader in the blue one and my 5 and 3yo in the red one. I think that what I like most is the focus on Bible learning and memorization in each level. I love the reading selections and it’s a little different in the approach than SL. Instead of a million books to read in a year, it’s more of a CM approach that allows the kids to linger in each book. We’re enjoying the pace and it’s not too overwhelming for ME since I am reading two levels of read alouds and those kids that really enjoy listening, ie: the older kids, can listen to all the read I can forsee a time where I’ll need at least three different levels but it’s so easy to open and go, that I don’t think it’ll be a problem. It’s also very economical, so buying more than one level doesn’t break the bank.

    Winterpromise- I tried to like this but again, didn’t like the book selection and really didn’t see a way to combine many different grades. Also the price was too much for me to buy many levels at one time.

    MFW- I almost bought this but went with HOD and am really happy with it. One thing that I didn’t like about this, is that there aren’t any reading books listed that come in the package for the kids. That means that it’ll be like TOG in that you will be spending a lot extra in buying books or at the library and I just can’t go

    Really, once your older ones are in late middle school-high school their needs will be quite different than the younger set. You will be combining what they do with what your youngers do already, so I’d go with what is easiest to combine for YOU. 🙂

    My olders are mostly doing their work independantly by 8th grade so I just periodically enter in their grades and keep track of their transcripts and when they need the different testing and such. I’m more of a counselor at this point. For the older kids, I used Notgrass, Apologia, MUS, IEW, and many

    Anyone younger than 8th grade and I’d use either Ambleside or HOD. They are easy to coordinate the different levels and are quite thorough in their teaching.

    My oldest graduated with a 3.9 GPA and is currently going to school to be an Art major and has a 4.0 in college. She took all college classes her last year of highschool and is doing well. My second oldest in currently in 11th grade and taking all classes at the local community college and has a 4.0 currently. He’s hoping to major in Engineering.


    Lisa in Jax


    Grateful for Grace Reply:

    Lisa- have you tried Mystery of History? I’m considering it because of all the reasons you shared about the others.


    Lisa Reply:

    No, I haven’t. 🙂 But you peaked my curiosity and I looked it up. Unfortunately, upon looking at the samples, it just wouldn’t work for us.

    Looking at the sample I see that it is basically a history curricula with some writing involved. I prefer to combine as many subjects as I can so that I don’t have as much to juggle. I also see that it has many hands-on projects that require much from me. I’m not against hands-on but I want it to be easy to do, or I’ll be tempted to skip them. I notice that it has a lot of writing for the youngest level which means that it’s really best for the 3-4th grade and up even though it says it’s for K and up. I know my K-2 graders aren’t going to write about elephants with much Now, cats maybe. It’s a shorter word and they should know how to spell it and won’t get tired just writing that one

    Another thing, I don’t see any other books listed. You just read what is written and then send them off to do “more research”. That means more work for me. I have to find the books. I have to research the subject to find books that will provide the answers for the younger set and also find books that will peak their interest in the subject. That means the dreaded library and well, let’s face it, that’s more expensive than I care to tell

    I can see that everyone would be on the same page, a bit like TOG but you would not have any support like TOG or SL. You would have to find the extra books, the extra readers for your younger set and the read alouds for everyone else, unless the plan is to skip it all together? If that’s the case, then what is the difference than just purchasing a textbook for each child and having them go through it themselves? Abeka has a great line of history texts. One good thing about them is that they are written at the child’s reading level, have great photos, and interesting topics. I used to buy them for my older kids and give them to read them for If they read the whole book, then I gave them credit for history that

    Boy, I like to talk!lol Sorry for the book. My littlest one has been a bear the past week and I think the lack of sleep is getting to me. 🙂


    Lisa in Jax


    Lisa Reply:

    Looking at the ages of your children, but not really knowing their level of abilities, here’s what I’d do. 🙂

    Your oldest dd is 13? or is your bio outdated?lol I’d recommend separating her from the pack. She’s ready for independant work and will need to go more indepth than the others. I really love this age! You might want to check out Notgrass for her, although I’d preread the books. I found C.S.Lewis’s Mere Christianity to be a bit more info than I’d want to give my kids. I read it aloud and skipped the chapters that I didn’t want them to hear. 🙂 The writing portions were a little dull but I think they learned quite a bit from this curricula.

    If you’re looking for a good language arts for this level, I’d recommend CQLA. It would shore up any problem areas before you got into literature and essays. I’d follow this up with IEW lectures, 501 writing prompts, The Elegant Essay and a wonderful lecture on Literary Analysis.

    MathUSee has been a real blessing for my preAlgebra set and up group. We didn’t care for it for the younger grades but the higher levels are spot on. My kids went through all levels up to PreCal and then went off to college for the rest and haven’t had any holes in their learning.

    For science, I think Apologia is the cheapest way to go. Is it the best? I’m not sure. Biology was a real drag for my kids, but my son really has excelled in Chem and Physics although he said the experiments were very dull. I ended up buying an extra kit from Home Science Tools to help with that. 🙂

    Extra subjecs should be based on her interests. My kids have had these as highschool credit: Art, graphic arts and photography, health and safety (lifeguard program with the YMCA), home repair and remodeling, dance, guitar, Japanese art, Japanese language, Spanish language, culinary arts I and II, bicycling, PE, football, soccer, and extra sciences like adv. biology, adv chem, and chem III and extra maths like Cal I, and next semester, Cal II


    Lisa Reply:

    For the rest of your kids, I’d combine them into 2 or 3 HOD levels and call it good. It really is very easy to implement! Each two page spread has around 7-8 boxes to do each day. The crafts are easy to do, I never feel like skipping them. It would depend on their abilities on whether you’d need 2 or 3 levels. They have a sample week for each level on line so you could get a feel for what levels would be best.

    Your 9-11yo’s could do Creation to Christ, you could even allow your 13yo to go along with it since it has a suppliment for that age and your 7,6,and 4 could use Little Hearts for His Glory. I’m using that right now for my 6 and almost 4 and it’s good. If your 7yo is reading and writing really well, then you could keep the 7 and 9yo together and then have your 10-13yo’s in CTC. Your 6 and 4 could just listen to the reading from the higher levels and you could get the correct levels of math and reading for them.

    Well, I guess that’s it for me. I need to get some work done while the little one is asleep. Just to let you know, I’m right there with you. It’s hard to have a collection of kids needing different things from I can’t wait until my son graduates. Then I’ll be an elementary homeschooler again and won’t have as many hats to wear…in theory…lol


    Elizabeth Reply:


    It sounds as though you manage your homeschool much the same way I manage mine. But, even though I really like AO, I had yet to come across the sorter link. Thank you so much, this will save me a lot of time!


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:


    Thank you. All this information has been very useful.


  43. Dana Caywood
    November 16, 2010 | 1:40 pm

    Hi ladies,
    Just wanted to drop in and say “hi” from Tapestry and address an issue…just to confirm. Please know that TOG understands that what works brilliantly for one family may or may not work for another.

    The authors of TOG are Protestant, not Catholic. However, we do have a number of families who are Catholic and we certainly welcome them. You might be interested in our statement of faith:

    Do feel free to email me: if you have other questions.



    Jama Reply:


    Good to see you “pop-in” on this discussion. I spent a long time talking to Kimberly about TOG yesterday. I told her about you and your wonderful store. 🙂


  44. Heidi C.
    November 16, 2010 | 3:56 pm

    I’m using SOTW this year and while I don’t agree with some of the stuff, I can skip it and/or discuss why we believe differently. That said, I was also dissappointed with the amount of evolutionary stuff in the Sonlight curriculum. I found myself having to do a lot of explaining.

    However, this comment isn’t for the purpose of discussing history. I’m concerned with the lack of library use! 😉 Have you all checked your libraries to see if you can get reminders sent to you when your books are due in a couple days? My library does this if you sign up online. I can hold all my books online, run in and pick them up, and drop them off when they are due. Just an idea so that you all can use your libraries again. I don’t know how I’d homeschool (or read at all!) without using the library! But maybe you all already know about this… 🙂


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Thanks Heidi. I’m working on using the library. So far not late fees. We’ll see if I can keep that up.


    Heidi C. Reply:

    Kinda funny, but after I wrote this I had two late fees! Ha!


  45. Becky
    November 16, 2010 | 6:20 pm

    It’s me…We use MFW and I LOVE it. We do go to the library, BUT I told the librarian we homeschool and asked if she would give us a break on due dates and fines. She said she loves to encourage homeschool families and we can keep the books as long as we like and there are no fines. TALK TO YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY. They may work a deal like this with you.


  46. Jennifer
    November 16, 2010 | 10:17 pm

    It’s been great reading the information that everyone has put on here. We are kind of in a similar problem because we are secular homeschoolers and have a hard time finding curriculum that fits our beliefs too :o)
    Our library here is awesome. We go online and order the books, they email when they come in, and then 3 weeks later we get another email that they are due back. If we want to keep them longer we just renew them online. I LOVE it! No more dragging 8 kids into the library anymore :o)
    If you have any secular recommendations I’d love to hear them as well :o) Right now we are doing Moving Beyond the Page, Math Mammoth, and some workbooks from the public school curriculum for handwriting and spelling. We also do a lot of reading from our library books.
    Love you blog :o)


  47. Jama Joyner
    November 17, 2010 | 12:09 pm

    I sent you an e-mail with some additional TOG info. Just wanted to make sure you see it, because I left out some key points in our previous conversation.


  48. Rachel T.
    November 18, 2010 | 7:55 am

    Hello! What a good discussion! I wanted to comment because we have been so pleased with using MFW. This is our 5th year to use MFW and we have used their K, 1st gr., Adventures, Exploring Countries and Cultures (ECC), and now we are using Creation to the Greeks (CtG). It is helping us to lay such a Biblical foundation and we have not used SOTW yet. I think it is scheduled in other years, but we use the Bible as our main history book and also some of Streams of Civilization. I have two children, but even when the younger one was in K or 1st, where they have a shorter, more developmentally appropriate curriculum for learning phonics and other things, she was able to still participate in most of the activities for the “older” program as well. I just didn’t double everything and kept teaching them together for science, Bible, art, music, etc. Although we do use the library, MFW is complete without tons of library books. If you have already used SL, you probably have lots of “living” books in your home to supplement history/geography or science topics and literature studies. I think that when people comment on MFW and say it is “light” that they don’t fully understand all that is involved. For example, spelling and English and reading are scheduled into your lesson plans, but you get to help your child select what books to read after they have had phonics instruction so they could read EZ readers or full chapter books at that point, whatever they are ready for. Other writing and composition work will also be done during history for notebook assignments. It is also flexible and while the MFW recommendations for academic subjects are very manageable, I do think they challenge my students each year, but I can use something else if I wish. We use another math program that works for us and I am able to use other programs for reading, spelling, and handwriting for my child who has learning challenges. I know that the high school levels are designed for increased independent study in order to prepare students for college. The Hazell family that authors the curriculum has several children, so it really is designed for any family that wants to do most of their learning together. There is also a great discussion board on their website!


  49. My Boaz's Ruth
    November 18, 2010 | 11:10 am

    ’ve heard so many positive comments about this program and I have two questions.

    * Ditto on the above question about multi-level teaching with this program. We want to study the same topics/time periods with all of our school age children.
    * I can’t use the library because I would bankrupt our family with late fees. Is the program still doable?

    I have not done My Father’s World yet. But I’ve been reading their website, etc. They always encourage you to call and talk to them personally about anything.

    (1) The program is designed to school all your children 2nd grade through 8th grade together. They have a MFW K and MFW 1st grade program special for those kids — but many people just do parts of those and fold the kids in with whatever they can handle of the other levels.

    Starting at 9th grade, they have separate HS programs for 9th and 10th grade (and working on more) and the children are expected to be fairly independent.

    (2) The program was designed for folk on mission fields, without access to libraries at all.


  50. Jane
    November 18, 2010 | 6:10 pm


    I was just cleaning out my shelves and came upon a flyer for Heritage History. I had spoken with the family who put this together a couple years ago and filed it away thinking I would spend some time looking in the future. Heritage History is not necessarily a curriculum, though it could be used as such. It is a compilation of edited and formatted out-of-print history books on CD designed to put the “story” back in history, as they say. All of these titles can be found through the public domain/Baldwin Project, etc. However, Heritage History has organized them so well, classified them according to age, and made it possible to do multi-level schooling. Some of the books are recommended by Ambleside, and all the selections that I have read are fantastic. They say that it only costs about $3-5 to print and bind each book, or you could just read them off the CD on your computer. To purchase a CD containing about 60-90 books (4000+ pages and illustrations) is around $30. They have great timelines and maps available as well. I am rambling now so I will stop, but you should check out their site. It may make your “no library usage” a bit easier as you study history and with a bit of time you could have a working history curriculum fairly inexpensively. If nothing else, this is a great supplement!
    Here is their website:
    Just click on the Welcome button to get a great overview. Hope this is helpful!

    I have so enjoyed your blog- it is a great encouragement to me and the Lord truly uses you to speak to my heart! Thanks!


  51. Beth West
    November 19, 2010 | 5:46 pm

    Regarding TOG, we tried it and I had several concerns:
    1. Although they talk about being able to substitute books, the LP’s are so synced with their selections, that it gets to the point you’re asking what you’re paying for if you make alternate selections.
    2. We find it cost prohibitive.
    3. I had to do so much lesson planning that I again kept wondering why I was paying for their curriculum.
    4. I like hard copies of everything. They switched over to electronic format right after we began and although you could still order it in hard copy, I got the feeling this was being discouraged and when I did order a hard copy, the paper quality was not good.

    All of that said, there were a lot of things I did like, especially the notes on all of the different subjects. If I could get nicely printed hard copies, had much more generous shelf space here and could afford it, I would love to have all 4 years available for notes and references as I put together our curriculum.


  52. April
    November 19, 2010 | 5:49 pm

    Thank you for your lovely blog. Our family uses TOG and love it! At first it is not easy to use. They call it the TOG fog! BUT once past that TOG is really is easy to use. We have a 6th, 5th, 2nd, K, preschooler (3) and newborn!

    What I have found works for us is to print all the maps at the beginning of the year and I think I will attempt to print all of the Student Activity Pages in the beginning. So far I have only printed them for each unit. When you have your weekly meeting you can hand them their list and decide together or allow them to choose what they will do. When you decide on a system the planning is very simple!

    The book list can be exported in excel and you can make notes, delete columns you do not need etc… so it becomes part of your planning. The children are always studying the same time period, although the book selections are different. I do NOT purchase all the books and still we love the program. TOG allows me to decide what will happen–they simply give me the ideas and information to make it happen! I am gaining a wonderful education also!

    Let us know what your family decides on.



  53. melinda
    November 20, 2010 | 6:01 am

    Hi Kimberly. I’m a new reader. I have been really encouraged by some of your posts. We seem to have a similar styles and it’s nice to read about how you execute that style.

    I have 2 boys just 5 and 8 but I wanted to chime in because I use MFW and I love it. Not everything of course. I keep thinking other curriculums may be better for us and I go and search and borrow to look over other options and I keep coming back. We have done K, 1st, (which can be substituted easily by any phonics program and sitting in with what the older kids are doing); and we have done Adventures and Countries and Cultures. I do think you need to add supplemental books to this program. They have such GREAT picture book and read aloud recommendations. You may have many from your years of Sonlight. They tell you which ones not to miss and they seem to supply the hard to get ones. They also note in the book list if something has questionable material in it. I got a note from them in our copy of Honey for a Child’s Heart (comes with 1st gr) saying they don’t necessarily agree with certain recommendations in the book and why. I find this REALLY helpful.

    I also want to add that if you’d rather stick with a 4 year cycle you can just cut out the Countries and Cultures year and just make sure the kids learn geography and climate throughout the rest of your history cycle. (If my kids were older I would have opted to do that but I didn’t want to introduce ancient history, with all the gods and goddesses, too young).

    I hope this was helpful. 🙂


  54. Tami
    November 21, 2010 | 12:10 pm

    I’ve really been enjoying reading your posts (and the comments) on curriculum. I’ve been thinking about moving to TOG and was digging though their forums to answer some of my logistical questions. Anyway, I came across a post I thought you might find useful/interesting:

    Those who combine TOG with Sonlight books


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Thank you for that link Tami!


  55. melinda
    November 23, 2010 | 9:07 pm

    So not that you need yet, another suggestion, but here’s what we have started…
    I am using The Story of the World as our spine and read aloud. I do wish this added more religion/Bible, but I also do so many different things that are religious based, and it is all entered into our timelines. We are studing the Medieval Times, and I am also using the IEW (Institute for Excellence in Writing) History based study guide for my oldest. Along with that we will be adding plenty of readings, both independent and together. I am also using Classical Conversations, for some ideas, family spelling and dictation along with their memory suggestions. Veritas Press I am hoping to purchase their timeline cards to incorporate more Bible into our Spine. I use the suggested projects and ideas, geography and reading suggestions in the Story of the World Supplement. I can cater to all or individual children as I feel it is needed. I am still considering where I want to go with Grammar. I also hope to start adding in FIAR for a preschool/younger children time.Just because I love it and hope to have that time with my younger ones too. It’s hard homeschooling and being Mama to a large crowd sometimes, I want to do so much, but I honestly am only one person, and do need to be Mama too!
    I hope to post another blog post about this soon… will see, it seems my blogging days are coming shorter and shorter as of the new baby!


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  59. Stephanie
    March 29, 2011 | 9:29 pm

    I am curious if you have decided what you are leaning towards.


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Hi Stephanie. I posted about our history choice here, The History Mystery Revealed.


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