A book for the up-and-coming American history curriculum is on sale!

Today’s Kindle Daily Deal is one of the books that is going to be scheduled in our up-and-coming high school American history curriculum! Get it while it’s on sale (Kindle version) for 2.99!
News of the World
In the aftermath of the Civil War, an aging itinerant news reader agrees to transport a young captive of the Kiowa back to her people in this exquisitely rendered, morally complex, multilayered novel of historical fiction from the author of Enemy Women that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust. News of the World is a National Book Award Finalist.
Click here to purchase it on Amazon! You don’t need a Kindle to read Kindle books. The Kindle app is available on iOS, Android, Mac & PC. Click here to access the app and more info!  I’ll be watching the Kindle deals to see if any of the other American history books pop up and posting about them here, if they do!


High School American History Update

Civil War map







Do you know which states were aligned with the Confederates, which were aligned with the Union, and which were considered border states during the Civil War? Your students will after using Guest Hollow’s up-and-coming high school American history curriculum! 😉 I’m hand drawing maps for the workbook / study guide! Civil war map








I’ve always been a big believer in using maps while studying history. 🙂

High School American History Update

american history booksThis is what it looks like as I’m working on a curriculum! The people at the library know me by name, lol….This pile doesn’t even show the books I’ve already returned or the books I’ve managed to get on my Kindle (my reading preference).

american history books

I’m reading through TONS of books for the future high school American history curriculum to decide what I want to use and what I don’t! I’ve already culled quite a few and have added others to the YES list. 

I’m glad I’m a fast reader. Usually I can read an average of 400-500 pages a day (give or take). I’m making sure every book choice meets my standards and has that “interest” factor. My husband and I will also be watching quite a few movies in the weeks to come. Let me know in the comments if you have any early American history favorites!

I’ve also started working on the study guide! YES, there will be a study guide with this program as there is with chemistry and physics. I plan on putting some comics in this one to add a little humor and to help students remember concepts. I can’t wait to share more!!

History Timeline Schedule Update

Homeschool History Curriculum

It was recently brought to my attention that some visitors to my site couldn’t access the entire right-hand side of the online Awesome History Timeline Schedule pages. I’ve fixed the html and now you should be able to see ALL of the assignments, even if you have a smaller monitor screen. Just scroll back and forth horizontally using the bottom of your browser bar.

For those of you unfamiliar with this FREE homeschool history curriculum, it’s completely based on WHEN things happened and covers both American and world history at the same time. It’s set up so that you can study American history by itself, world history by itself or both together (my preference). It’s totally flexible and can work as a stand-alone curriculum or can be used to supplement any other history program.

I designed it because I got sick and tired of history curriculums jumping from one event to the next going back and forth in time. How confusing!  It was always difficult to keep track of what was happening in the context of time. It was also nearly impossible to see how so many events in history are interrelated! With the History Timeline Schedule, a student can immediately see in a VISUAL context things like how the French Revolution followed the American Revolution, what was happening in the Americas during Henry the VIII’s reign, and that Victoria became Queen of England right after Texans lost the Battle of the Alamo.

As with all my other homeschool programs, I’ve scheduled in lots of goodies like “living books”, colorful non-fiction, hands-on activities, video suggestions, map assignments, art & music studies. It’s probably best used as-is for 6th graders and up, but you can easily adapt it for 1st grade to adult learners.

The History Timeline Schedule is totally flexible! Don’t like a book I scheduled in or can’t access it at your local library for free? Replace it with ANY other suitable book. Just plug your book (or activity or video) into the correct time slot. It’s that easy! Want even more book and video suggestions? Visit my free History Shelf that follows the same timeline format but has hundreds and hundreds more book and video suggestions for an even greater variety of ages.

Happy homeschooling!

The History Shelf – A New Part of Our Website!

The History Shelf







We have a new part of our website up: The History Shelf. Ever want to read a book or watch a movie set in a specific time period but don’t know where to start searching? With the History Shelf you can choose a time period via the timeline and browse books and videos for all ages in a visual, easy to browse manner. There are books listed for all ages with separate columns for adults and children to make browsing your choices easier.

If you are homeschooling, browse the timeline to find literature and video supplements for your favorite history program. Or, if you just want to find something for yourself to read or watch, it’s as easy as looking up the time period and clicking on the book or movie cover for more information on each book title and movie.

I LOVE history and will continue to add tons more books and videos to the History Shelf.

Feel free to post and share the graphic above if you want to spread the word!

Happy reading and watching!

A Walk-through of Otter’s Timeline

As promised in an earlier post where I featured the free timeline printables available on my website, here is a walk-through of Otter’s timeline.

I’ve had Otter work on a timeline ever since Kindergarten. He filled up his first timeline and is currently working on the one I feature below. This second one will last him through high school. It’s not the timeline I offer on my site (my own personal timeline actually uses those printables – yes, I’ve made one too over the years with the kids!). Otter’s current timeline is one I purchased from WinterPromise years ago. I actually don’t like the WinterPromise timeline very much because the background isn’t clean and uncluttered. Also, the pages face each other, so in between each timeline spread you have blank pages. I believe WinterPromise designed their timeline this way so you can insert maps and other items in between the timeline pages in the appropriate time period. We don’t use it like that though since I put those types of papers in Otter’s history notebook, so it makes flipping through the timeline a little more difficult. I do like that the pages are sturdy card stock.

Timelines are a great way to SEE history unfolding and to be able to better understand the march of events and people through time. Our timelines are a scrapbook of memories of all the things we’ve studied and also a great way to visually review our history lessons. Otter really enjoys flipping through the pages. We usually play a little “game” when we pull it out where we verbally pick our favorite image or item studied on each page.

First I’ll show you some of Otter’s timeline pages and then I’ll dissect an individual page and point out some of the different items on it. His timeline is in a THICK notebook with really sturdy binder rings. I chose this type of timeline because it’s easier to handle, store and doesn’t take up space on the wall, etc. I’ve used wall timelines with the big kids, in the past, but found that eventually they have to come down off the wall (even if you leave it up for years) and then they aren’t really practical to store. I wanted more of a scrapbook style BOOK that could be kept and shown to Otter’s kids someday. A wall timeline, while neat for awhile, is just junk when you are finished with it.

Click on each picture to see it larger (my apologies to those of you reading this post in an RSS feed where the pictures may be featured full size). I’m not showing ALL the pages, just several examples from different time periods.

1200-1000 B.C.

As you can see on this page spread, there are a variety of items pasted in: books we’ve read, people and events we’ve studied and even pictures of “things” from that time period like Solomon’s temple and a picture of Canaan merchants. Other timeline pages from this era (not pictured) show an Egyptian home and other similar things that show not just an event or person, but how people lived.

Homeschool timeline page

600-400 B.C.

Besides people and events, we also sometimes put in inventions (such as the Chinese kite) or discoveries and advancements in science, math (Pythagorean theorem as seen below) and even art and/or artists.

Timeline example


500-700 A.D.

Even though we are Christians, I’ve always felt it important to cover major people and events from other religions. In the page spread below, you can see Otter’s timeline entry for Muhammad as well as the cover of a book about him that we checked out from the library.

Timeline example

700-900 A.D.

On the left-hand page on the entry for King Egbert I’ve placed a small genealogy symbol to show that we directly descended from him. Otter has enjoyed learning about famous people in our family tree and we make sure to mark them in his timeline for an extra bit of fun.

Homeschool timeline

1500-1550 A.D.

There are a lot of WinterPromise timeline figures (created by Homeschool in the Woods) on this page spread. They are the black and white ones with a bunch of text underneath. Later on I decided I liked my homemade timeline figures better as they were more customized and colorful so we switched to them after we left off using the WinterPromise curriculum.

Homeschool timeline example


1550-1600 A.D.

As you can see from the pages below, some parts of Otter’s timeline are not as full as others.

Homeschool timeline


Timeline page

Here I’ve dissected a timeline page in a bit more detail so you can see specific things we’ve entered in. You can see how we incorporate the covers of various books we read as we move through our history studies (we use the custom made GuestHollow history curriculum I created which is available for free on my website). I get the pictures we use in our timeline from the Internet and then I paste them into a timeline template page via either Photoshop or Microsoft Word (I have templates created for both programs). You can download a  free timeline figure template from the timeline section of my website.

Timeline page


So there you have it! We really love our timelines! I think they are really helpful for seeing the big picture and for remembering things we studied in our history lessons. If you haven’t started a timeline with your kids, I highly recommend it. They are a fun and colorful addition to any history curriculum that your kids can look back on and remember their lessons in the years to come.

Printable Timeline

I recently received a request for “extra” timeline pages for the free printable timeline I feature on my website. Instead of creating a bunch of new pages, which I don’t have time for right now, I went ahead and made an editable PDF. Now you can add in your own dates and customize the timeline dates without having to write them in by hand. Just open the PDF, type in the custom dates and print!

Using a timeline is a terrific way to help kids visualize when things happened. With a timeline, different people and events can be put into context. We’ve used our timeline for years and often paste in the covers of books we’ve read. The end result is a beautiful scrapbook of not only the things we’ve learned but many of the books we’ve read as well!

In an upcoming post I’ll show you pictures of Otter’s timeline so you can see one in action. For now, here are the free timeline downloads:

Timeline cover



Boy’s Timeline Cover

Girl’s Timeline Cover

Timeline Spine



B.C. Timeline Pages
30 pages:
(4100 B.C. – 0 B.C.)
The Ancient World
The Classical World

A.D. Timeline Pages
70 pages
(0 A.D. – 2010 A.D.)
The Classical World
Early Middle Ages
Middle Ages
Trade & Empire
Revolution and Independence
Unification and Colonization
The World at War
The Modern World

Blank Timeline Page (Use this page to print out extras or to make smaller timeline portions. This is the new editable PDF so you can add in your own custom dates!!)

Finally, here is a timeline figures template (scroll to below the image for the links). Add in images from online & type in your own dates, names, etc. to customize.

timeline figures template

Timeline figure template in .doc format

Timeline figure template in .docx format

If you aren’t using a timeline in your homeschool, give it a try! You might be surprised at how it helps your children better retain their history lessons.


Free notebooking pages

I like to use notebooking pages with Otter. We often use them for history or science to summarize the things he’s learning. At the end of the year we have a beautiful portfolio that’s fun to look back on!
Here is a free package of notebooking pages for Ancient Egypt and Africa that are available this week from Currclick. Click on the image to go to the download. This download is available for a limited time only so grab yours while you can!

Ancient Egypt Notebooking Pages

Book Review: Living Through the Mexican-American War

 I’m always on the lookout for engaging books to use with my history curriculum. Sometimes it’s hard to find a good book that’s affordable, covers a topic with enough depth and yet isn’t something a student has to “slog” through. Non-fiction can be especially challenging because I have fairly high standards. Each book has to be something Otter is going to connect to (unless there really isn’t anything else to choose from and it’s something I want to cover!).

I recently was on the lookout for a book on the Mexican-American War – a conflict that still has some present day repercussions and one that I think is generally ignored in most history programs but shouldn’t be! Living Through the Mexican-American War by John DiConsiglio does a great job of presenting this conflict as well as other related stories covering the years 1821-1849. The book itself is colorful and has a nice layout. There is a mix of maps, photos, illustrations and colored sidebars that bring some visual interest to the pages. I like the added touch of the “burnt/worn” edges look on each page. It’s details like this that set this particular book above the rest I’ve looked at for this topic.

The Mexican-American War

Even though it’s 80 pages long, Living Through the Mexican-American War is a fairly quick read that shouldn’t take your students more than a day or two to finish. Or, if you prefer to use it as a read-aloud, you can easily get through it in a week.

All throughout the book more difficult words and terms are presented in bold and defined via a glossary in the back. Here are a few examples:

  • Whig Party
  • Manifest Destiny
  • sovereign
  • chaparral
  • fortified
  • adobe
  • guerrilla
  • dysentery

If you like to combine assignments, it would be super-easy to pick out words your student isn’t familiar with and assign them for vocabulary study.

Based on the vocabulary and the writing style, I’d say this book targets the upper elementary to middle school age bracket, although I think it’s perfectly appropriate for high schoolers as well. Even I learned a thing or two after reading it and it’s written/presented in such a way that I think most students will retain most of it.

There is also a small “Find Out More” section in the back with a list of books, websites and DVD’s to explore, if interested.

I feel the book does a good job at presenting both sides of the Mexican-American War. It gives you a great understanding of the circumstances surrounding it from various perspectives and not only gives an overview of incidents like the Battle of the Alamo but various sections cover some of the people involved and topics like weaponry and hardships. There is even a section about Sarah Borginnis “The Heroine of Fort Brown” so your girls don’t have to feel too left out amidst all the battle-talk.

The Mexican American War

The Mexican-American War happened because of a variety of factors and if affected different people in a variety of ways. Living Through the Mexican-American War doesn’t shy away from these topics and yet covers them in an age-appropriate way. Portions of the book cover various interesting facts about things like yellow fever, deserters, Irish immigrants, the Donner Party and more. It’s written in a way that shows your students how all of these different things were connected. I like that.

Since there are no previews that I can find online, I’ve pasted an example of a small section below so you can get a feel for the writing style.

Mexican American War

After reading through the book I’ve decided it’s a winner! I’m planning on including it in my Awesome Timeline History Schedule, which will be posted here in the next several months (hopefully!) on my website. It’s an excellent resource that should help any student learn about this important part of our nation’s history. Click here to take a look at it on Amazon.

*Note: We received this book for free after I requested it for the purpose of reviewing it. However, our review was not in anyway influenced by this fact. All our reviews reflect only our personal opinion(s) of materials. We aren’t experts! We’re just a homeschooling family with ideas of our own about what works and what doesn’t for US. smile

In the Hands of a Child Renaissance Project Pack Lapbook

Wow! It’s been a long time since I’ve worked on my website or blog! I’ve finally found a minute to post a review of In the Hands of a Child’s Renaissance Project Pack Lapbook.

My rating:

my rating

Otter’s rating:

Otter's rating


Renaissance lapbook

This 72 page, affordable lapbook project pack from In the Hands of a Child has everything you need for a 7 day unit study on the Renaissance! It’s designed for grades 6-12, although I think it could easily be adapted down to 4th grade.

I’ve always liked lapbooks. They offer a hands-on, interactive way of learning a subject. Lapbooks are crafty, they break up writing into manageable chunks and they look GREAT as a finished project.

In the Hands of a Child contacted me and asked me if I was interested in reviewing one of their lapbooks. I jumped at the chance. Our history study was heading into the Renaissance and this offer came along at the right time! Over the years we’ve finished lots of lapbook projects. Some have been absolute hits (like this one I made for nutrition) and others have been disastrous flops! Here are my impressions of this particular lapbook project pack.

My project pack came as a PDF. Instead of printing out the entire thing I only printed out the items/elements I wanted to use and read the instructions from my computer.

Graphics / Illustrations:

  • All of the graphics and illustrations are in black and white or grayscale.
    Pros Cons
    Printing only in black helps save expensive color ink. Some may find black and white graphics boring.
    A creative child may enjoy coloring things in. A kid who doesn’t like coloring might think it’s busywork to decorate his lapbook.

The sample lapbook displayed inside shows most of the lapbook elements printed on colored paper, which kind of jazzes things up a bit more (note: the picture below only shows part of the lapbook). I think the sample actually looks quite nice:

Renaissance lapbook

Everything appears to be clip art-based with different fonts for variety. This is not a beautifully “hand” illustrated lapbook like the ones featured at Homeschool in the Woods. However, the graphics are mostly crisp, clean and print well.


  • This lapbook covers a wide variety of topics from the Renaissance. All of the research for each lapbook element has been done for you and put together in an easy-to-read format sprinkled with pictures and clip art. Culture, art & artists, religion, architecture, music, literature, government, and exploration are all explored.


Because the lapbook is intended to cover only a 7 day period, nothing is covered in great depth. However, you get a good overview of the main topics and what the Renaissance was all about. I think this lapbook would be a good addition to just about any history curriculum and it could stand alone as well if you didn’t want to linger in this particular time period too long.

Lapbook Elements:

  • There are quite a few different lapbook elements to create (20 in all). A few of the items you can make are:
    • Booklet for vocabulary words
    • Flip flap book about Renaissance facts
    • Venn book comparing the Middle Ages to the Renaissance period
    • Shape book about Gutenberg
  • All of the lapbook elements come with written instructions on how to construct each one. I thought it was a little inconvenient that the instructions were separate from the actual lapbook element pages (all instructions are together in the beginning of the lapbook guide), but you could easily print the instructions out for reference. Perhaps it was designed this way so that they aren’t cluttering up each project page.
  • Answers for each lapbook element are contained at the end of the guidebook. Most of the answers are suggestions showing what your child could write on each project piece.
  • Reluctant writers may like how each element breaks down the task of writing into a smaller chunk. Instead of writing papers, information is displayed on each lapbook element.

Fun Factor:

Crafty kids who love to cut, paste and color will most likely enjoy completing this lapbook. Kids who like their schoolwork to be cut-and-dry will probably groan their way through it. If you already know your children like lapbooks, then I think this particular one will probably go over pretty well. It’s one of the better ones I’ve seen for this topic. On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being the worst and 10 being the most awesome activity we’ve ever done in our entire school career) I’d give this lapbook about a 6 1/2. Otter rated it as a 2. When I asked him why, he said there was too much writing and he didn’t think it was varied enough (with drawing or cut/paste activities, etc.). He also disliked the lack of color.

Overall Impression:

I think the In the Hands of a Child Renaissance Project Pack Lapbook is a solid choice if you are a fan of lapbooks or want to give one a try to add some variety to your studies. I think this particular project pack is a great overview of the Renaissance with plenty of activities at an affordable price. This is definitely something I would have considered purchasing to supplement our history lessons and add in a hands-on element. It’s well put together and saves a LOT of time! Unfortunately though, Otter doesn’t like it at all and while I like the content, I’m not in love with all of the graphics. I think it’s a professional product but not as polished as I personally would like it to be.

Check out the free sample at the In the Hands of a Child website and see for yourself whether it would work for you and yours!

*Note: All our reviews reflect only our personal opinion(s) of materials. We aren’t experts! We’re just a homeschooling family with 3 kids and ideas of our own about what works and what doesn’t for US. smile