Monday, July 26

Solving the Question of High School Science!

 Disclaimer: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew

I don't know about you, but teaching the upper grades math and sciences are one of the most difficult thing I've done as a homeschooling mom! Thankfully, there are some amazing resources out there that students can access virtually. Today, we're looking at Greg Landry's Homeschool Science...

We've used this company in the past specifically for on-site science labs.  We went to a weekend intensive, and our high schooler knocked out all of the labs for both years of chemistry and biology in one weekend.  Afterward, he was tired!  Dr. Landry has branched out into self-paced classes, including Self-paced 7th-12th grade half-semester classesnow, too, in response to the growing need for homeschooler to access quality resources during the pandemic and beyond.

We recently had the opportunity to try out the new Biochemistry / Microbiology course with our eighth grader.  The class is designed for 7th-12th graders, and while we were a bit concerned that it would be too much for him due to some developmental delays, the pace was a perfect fit!  This course begins by covering the scientific method and notetaking methods, which every study needs, then it goes on to cover carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, DNA, vitamins, hormones, viruses, bacteria, epidemics, antibiotics, pathogen cultures, top 10 pathogen diseases.  There are seven lesson modules, so it is a one-semester class...each lesson spans approximately two weeks.  

The course workbook is a full-color text that beautifully illustrates concepts and keeps your student engaged!  One thing I like about the workbook is that pages are available in both full-color and black and white options, so you can choose whether to save ink or not.  In some cases, however, the pages are a little bit different (as illustrated below), and in those cases we opted for the color pages that had more detail included.


The classes are streamed online through Canvas.  We broke the lessons down into a weekly schedule like this.

  • Day 1
    • Watch the thirty minute class video.  These are recorded and can be streamed at your child's pace.
  • Day 2
    • Complete the textbook portion of the accompanying workbook.
  • Day 3
    • Complete the notebook portion (minus the lesson wrap-up) of the workbook.
  • Day 4
    • Independent research on the topic.  This may include websites and / or videos.
  • Day 5
    • Lesson wrap-up in the workbook.

It's nice to have Dr. Landry teaching the classes because science is so not my thing...and this way, I get to be more of an advisor than the actual teacher.  We like that they are self-paced, not only because he can re-watch the videos if needed, but also because on our rural internet sometimes we just don't have the ability to stream videos.  This way there is no stress about not being in class at a certain time.  There are several different options available for families who want to use teacher-led science classes.  These classes are twelve-month subscriptions, and can be used by all the students in your home at the same time.

Available Middle School Online Classes

  • Young Scientist Anatomy & Physiology
  • Young Scientist Biology
  • Young Scientist Chemistry
  • Young Scientist Physics
  • Young Scientist Earth & Space Science

Available High School Online Classes

  • Standard High School Biology
  • Standard High School Chemistry
  • Standard High School Conceptual Physics (only basic math)
  • Standard High School Anatomy & Physiology
  • Exercise & Sports Physiology
  • Biochemistry / Microbiology
  • Embryology / Endocrinology
  • Earth & Space Science
  • Student Success Skills / Studying / Measurement / Lab Reports

See what other families are saying about Greg Landry's Homeschool Science at the Homeschool Review Crew!

Greg Landry's Homeschool Science

Island of the Blue Dolphins & Introduction to Sailing

In the Island of the Blue Dolphins, Karana creates a sailboat and uses it to navigate to a new island.  This sparked an interest in our teens on the subject of we followed the bunny trail!

Beginning sailors should first learn...

  • The Lingo - Sailing has its own set of vocabulary, which we cover further down this unit.
  • Knot-tying - There are many knots, but only three or four basics.  Look for them in the Make / Do section.
  • Parts of the Boat - Knowing the parts of the boat, plus the vocabulary, will help you understand exactly what is going on and what is needed as you sail.  See the picture to the right.

How a Sailboat Works

Through a combination of aerodynamics and hydrodynamics, various forces are always at play on the boat, combining to propel the boat through water or have it stand neutral.
  • The wind blows across the sails, creating aerodynamic lift, like an airplane wing. 
  • The lift contains a sideways force and a small forward force.
  • Trimming the sails efficiently produces the most forward force and the least resistance.
  • A sailboat would slide sideways with the wind if it did not have a centerboard or keel underneath the hull. 
  • The flow of water over the underwater surfaces creates lift, too—a sideways force, countering the force of the wind. 
  • It is the combination of these forces that pushes the boat forward.

Some VERY Basics

The wind is rarely perfectly steady.  In many ways, it behaves like a liquid, flowing over and around obstructions, and seeking the path of least resistance.  Depending on the surfaces it passes over, the stability or instability of the air, weather systems, and even the effects of other boats, the wind is constantly changing in both strength and direction.  When you're sailing, it's important to be aware of the strength and direction of the wind in order to harness its energy efficiently and sail safely.

There are many ways to tell the direction of the wind. Wind blowing across water causes friction on the surface, forming small ripples perpendicular to the direction of the wind.  Other helpful indicators are flags, smoke, and other sailboats. If you see small whitecaps beginning to form, the wind is too high for an inexperienced sailor, and you should not be on the water alone.

To steer a sailboat, you use the tiller or wheel to turn the rudder to direct the flow of water passing over its surfaces—which turns the boat. Just like steering a car, you turn the wheel in the direction you want the boat to turn. When you steer with a tiller, though, the boat turns in the direction opposite to the way you move the tiller. 

Use the videos below, and the suggested books for further exploration, to learn more sailing tips!


  • Island of the Blue Dolphins
    • Far off the coast of California looms a harsh rock known as the island of San Nicholas. Dolphins flash in the blue waters around it, sea otter play in the vast kelp beds, and sea elephants loll on the stony beaches.  Here, in the early 1800s, according to history, an Indian girl spent eighteen years alone, and this beautifully written novel is her story. It is a romantic adventure filled with drama and heartache, for not only was mere subsistence on so desolate a spot a near miracle, but Karana had to contend with the ferocious pack of wild dogs that had killed her younger brother, constantly guard against the Aleutian sea otter hunters, and maintain a precarious food supply.
  • Zia (book 2 -- Karana's niece)
  • Learning to Sail: the Annapolis Sailing School Guide for All Ages 


Make / Do


  • jibing
  • tacking
  • rudder
  • boom
  • stern
  • bow
  • port
  • windward
  • leeward
  • starboard
  • aft


  • Do you think the slaughter of her people could have been avoided if Karana’s father simply refused to let them hunt the sea otter?  Why or why not?
  • If the Aleuts had taken Karana with them, would she have been better off with people and friends?  Why or why not?  Was she foolish to stay hidden?

Monday, July 19

Stitching a Life + Jewish Immigration

They left Europe because of overpopulation, religious oppression, and poverty.  They came to America seeking a better life, and transformed the face of American Jewry.  These immigrant Jews of the late 19th and early 20th century poured into cities, bringing a new workforce...

Immigrants tended to settle in poor neighborhoods, such as New York's Lower East Side.  They lived in cramped conditions and often worked long, laborious days in factories.  They brought with them Yiddish culture, which flourished in these new ghettos.  At the same time so many Jews were arriving, the garment industry was undergoing rapid expansion in America.  Many jobs were available, and the manufacturers needed immigrant labor.  By 1910, nearly 70% of America's clothing was being produced in the garment district of New York City.

Employers enticed immigrants with promises of the opportunity to continue observing the Sabbath, which was a plus as it allowed a newfound religious freedom.  However, factory workers were often exploited, working extremely long and labor-intensive days in cramped quarters.  These sweatshops offered very little pay, but they did allow workers to continue using their native language (due to the high number of immigrants employed there) and observe the Sabbath and other Jewish festivals.  Over the next forty to fifty years, the garment district would undergo even more changes, phasing out much of its human labor, but it provided a foothold for these Jewish immigrants to start a new life...


  • Stitching a Life
    • It’s 1900, and sixteen-year-old Helen comes alone in steerage across the Atlantic from a small village in Lithuania, fleeing terrible anti-Semitism and persecution. She arrives at Ellis Island, and finds a place to live in the colorful Lower East Side of New York. She quickly finds a job in the thriving garment industry and, like millions of others who are coming to America during this time, devotes herself to bringing the rest of her family to join her in the New World, refusing to rest until her family is safe in New York. A few at a time, Helen’s family members arrive. Each goes to work with the same fervor she has and contributes everything to bringing over their remaining beloved family members in a chain of migration. Helen meanwhile, makes friends and―once the whole family is safe in New York―falls in love with a man who introduces her to a different New York―a New York of wonder, beauty, and possibility.


Make / Do


  • schmatta
  • Prêt–à–porter
  • frog clip
  • furbelow
  • Armscye
  • gaiter
  • ruche
  • trade union


  • Why did so many immigrants undertake this long and difficult journey?  What did they hope to find in the United States? 
  • What choices did they make in order to feel more American?  In what ways did they maintain and/or redefine their Jewish identities?
Interested in Jewish studies?  Pick up an entire unit study bundle for Jewish holidays in Literature!

Monday, July 12

A Tale of Two Cities & the French Revolution

July 14, 1789 - The political prison known as the Bastille is stormed in Paris, France.

In the 18th century, France experienced a population explosion that led to crippling unemployment, social distress, and widespread famine.  A National Assembly convened that took drastic measures to abolish feudalism, extend the right to vote to the majority, and contain the Catholic church.  The three years following that convention were dominated by social unrest.

Maximilien Robespierre emerged as a leader, and he sparked the Reign of Terror.  This is the time we think of with Marie Antoinette, guillotines, and 'Off with her head!'  It was a time of fighting for control -- revolutionaries, royals, and Jacobins all vied for power.

Regarded as one of the most important events in human history, the French Revolution began in May 1789 and ran through November 1799.  During this time, Louis the XVI was executed and Napoleon Bonaparte was appointed as the First Consul.  The revolution established the principles of modern democracy...


  • A Tale of Two Cities (Charles Dickens)
    • The novel depicts the plight of the French peasantry demoralised by the French aristocracy in the years leading up to the revolution, the corresponding brutality demonstrated by the revolutionaries toward the former aristocrats in the early years of the revolution, and many unflattering social parallels with life in London during the same time period. It follows the lives of several characters through these events.
  • Storming of the Bastille


Make / Do


  • Reform
  • Estates General
  • deputies
  • cahiers de doleances
  • National Assembly
  • Tennis Court Oath
  • Bastille
  • Robespierre
  • Bonaparte
  • Brissot


  • What are some symbols in A Tale of Two Cities? How do they relate to the plot and characters?
  • Do you think Dickens was trying to make a political point with this novel? If so, how successful was he at making his point?

Tuesday, July 6

Blades of Freedom & the Louisiana Purchase

July 14, 1803 - The United States doubles in size overnight with the Louisiana Purchase.

How did a rebellion in Haiti end up doubling the size of the United States?

In the late 1700s, Haiti was a colony of France, known as Saint Domingue, that produced coffee, sugar, and indigo. Many of the people who lived there were slaves used to work these profitable plantations.

In 1791, the slaves unified and rebelled. The British had already seized the colony as part of their war with France, and the enslaved people drove out the British, declaring themselves a free nation. The French wanted their colony back, but were unsuccessful in attempts to reclaim it, largely due to troop loss from yellow fever. In 1804, the leader of the revolt, Dessalines, declared the island an independent nation and named it Haiti, after a local native tribe.

At the same time, President Jefferson was in negotiations to purchase the city of New Orleans. Napoleon Bonaparte made an offer to sell Jefferson all of the land west of the Mississippi instead. The French were concerned that the British, invading from Canada, would eventually seize the land anyway, especially after the loss of Saint Domingue, so they sold the whole lot. This Louisiana Purchase opened up the west for the era of Manifest Destiny.

Why Graphic Novels?

For this study, we use a graphic novel from the Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales series. For reluctant readers, graphic novels make complicated text more accessible through captivating graphics and pictures and shorter spurts of text. However, students are still learning literary skills, as they must follow plot and character development and understand perspective. Conflicts are presented, unwound, and resolved like they are in other texts. The only difference is that graphic novels have more images to support the development.


  • Blades of Freedom
    • Why would Napoleon Bonaparte sell the Louisiana Territory to the recently formed United States of America? It all comes back to the island nation of Haiti, which Napoleon had planned to use as a base for trade with North America. While Napoleon climbed the ranks of the French army and government, enslaved people were organizing in Haiti under the leadership of François Mackandal, Dutty Boukman, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, and Touissant L’Ouverture, who in 1791 led the largest uprising of enslaved people in history—the Haitian Revolution.
  • Eight Surprising Things about the Louisiana Purchase


Make / Do

  • Create a map of the United States that indicates the borders of territories and states from the early 1800s.  Label the area acquired by the Louisiana Purchase.  Label the Spanish and British controlled territories.
  • Take a virtual road trip to Louisiana!
  • Discover the French-Acadian history that comprises much of Louisiana. 
  • Learn about Jean Lafitte's legacy in Louisiana territory.
  • The US bought the Louisiana Territory from France in 1803. The cost was $15 million. The territory was 828,000 square miles. What was the cost per square mile?
  • Explore the Louisiana Territory further with this Lewis & Clark novel study!


  • Napoleon
  • Jefferson
  • acre
  • expedition
  • Continental Divide
  • New France
  • Zebulon Pike
  • Saint Domingue
  • Dessalines

  • Why did the Federalists oppose the Louisiana Purchase?
  • How was the purchase instrumental in promoting America to a global power?

Studying the Middle Ages with Homeschool In the Woods {Review}

Disclaimer: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew
Home School in the Woods is a long-time favorite vendor of this history-loving family!  We've used them as supplements to our regular curriculum, as well as for targeted unit studies.  During the several weeks that we spent on the palliative care ward recently, we used the Project Passport World History Study: The Middle Ages from the Project Passport series as a way to get some summer studies time in while keeping the kids occupied during long days.
The Middle Ages focuses on life during medieval times, class systems, Vikings, knights and castles, the Crusades, battles, inventions, herbs, church history, and much more!  Project Passport also covers Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Ancient Egypt, and the Renaissance -- we've used a few eras and enjoy all of them.  It's suggested for grades 3-8, but can be tailored a bit to make it friendly for all ages in the family.  It should take about eight weeks to complete the full study.

When you get the product, it downloads in a zip file which opens into a whole lot of smaller files.  It's a bit of a pain because there are so many files, BUT it's also a good thing because it gives me the option to print only those things that we'll need.  In some cases, there is a choice of color or black and white graphics.  I usually choose B&W to save on print costs.  

Once it was all printed out, I spent an evening putting together a binder and backpack for us to take back and forth to the hospital.  I divided the binder into three sections: our daily 'stops,' projects that would be used each day, and projects that are only used once (see top right image on collage above).  After doing a few of these Project Passports, we've found that this system of organization works best for us.  

Project Passport features twenty-five ‘stops,’ each featuring a different aspect of life in the Middle Ages.  At each stop, there is a selection of text and activities to accompany it – including timeline work, arts and crafts, and newspaper writing.  Some of the stops also have an ‘audio tour,’ which is like a short audiobook to go with it.  The audio tours are one of our favorite features of the program!

There are teacher files in the unit that will talk you through completing your first Project Passport as a family.  These contain tips and suggestions for a smoother, more fun experience.  This section also has suggestions for read-alouds, quiet reading, and movies to supplement your unit.  

I like to look at the overview of all stops (see bottom right image on collage above) to see what we'll be covering each day, and also to make sure that we have any necessary supplies.  One handy tip for you -- at the bottom of each activity sheet is a number.  This code tells you which stop (the first number) and which page of that stop (the second number) the sheet corresponds with (see bottom left image on collage above).  Should your pages get scrambled, it's very easy to quickly find what you need!

One of our favorite aspects of Project Passport are the incorporated hands-on projects!  Admittedly, we had a bit tougher time doing some of them, as we were working within the confines of a waiting room for the majority of our time, but we found some workarounds....

Moving clockwise in the collage above:

  • We colored and cut out figurines to act out some homemade (and humorous!) plays about life in the middle ages.
  • The boys had a good excuse to put together their Lego Viking ship and sail it.  There is a make-your-own, paper Viking ship included with the unit, but they were inspired to put together the Lego one instead.
  • Stained glass windows are a hallmark feature of medieval architecture, and we were able to design a beautiful church front!
  • There are several cooking recipes included in the daily stops, such as barley soup, herb bread, gingerbread, roasted chicken, and meat pies, but the only one we had a chance to make this time was gruel...which is really a more primitive form of oatmeal.  The cooking projects are amazing, and I highly recommend that you do several!
  • Make your own coat-of-arms.  We studied the symbolism behind coats of arms and then the boys had a chance to design their own.
  • The rose mosaic project was altered a bit, as we couldn't use tiles, but did use crayons to design a beautiful rose.  There were a couple of instances where we substituted crayons for tiles, paints, or pastels in the name of keeping it simple for the circumstances.
  • Pilgrims (think pilgrimages, not Thanksgiving) often wore badges to indicate that they'd been on a long, personal journey.  We figured we were all pilgrims, and made some badges from tin foil!
  • Other (not pictured) projects include - learning about medicinal herbs, making rosewater, creating a Bayeaux Tapestry, making a castle keep, vocabulary cards, and a very thorough board game that is a lot of fun to play and review Middle Ages facts!!

Honestly, this was an odd summer for our family.  We spent several weeks in palliative care as Dad came to the end of his battle with cancer.  This project was a blessing in that it gave us something portable that both entertained and educated the boys (and some cousins)...which in turn helped them to be more patient with the long days, which in turn helped the adults to focus on 'adult things.'  Should your family find itself in a similar situation, I recommend this type of product for your schooling.  It's easy to carry, covers history, science, and language arts, and can be tailored to the supplies you have on-hand.

If you're not in the market for an entire unit study, check out their new Timeline Sets, including Creation to Christ and American History.

Peek inside the Time Travellers series - World War 2 in the video below!

See what others are saying about Home School in the Woods over at the Schoolhouse Review Crew!

Tuesday, June 29

Anne of Green Gables & Canadian Provinces

July 1, 1867 - Canada declares independence from Great Britain with the Constitution Act, which united the colonies of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Province of Canada.

Canada has three territories (Northwest, Yukon, and Nunavut) and ten provinces, including Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Manitoba, British Columbia, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Newfoundland.

The provinces and territories of Canada have been ever-changing since the country first became official in 1867. At first, it was just a few provinces, but over time, has grown to become the 2nd largest country in the world. Between 1867 and today, Canada has divided its land into 13 distinct provinces and territories.  Nunavut was the last official province to join, as recently as 1999!

In the film version of Anne of Green Gables, viewers are treated to beautiful scenery from the primary locations, including Prince Edward Island; Stouffville, Ontario; Jacksons Point, Ontario; and the Flamborough village of Rockton.


  • Anne of Green Gables
    • Eleven-year-old Anne Shirley has arrived in this verdant corner of Prince Edward Island only to discover that the Cuthberts—elderly Matthew and his stern sister, Marilla—want to adopt a boy, not a feisty redheaded girl. But before they can send her back, Anne—who simply must have more scope for her imagination and a real home—wins them over completely.


Make / Do


  • decorum 
  • intricate 
  • placid 
  • innovation 
  • qualms 
  • strychnine 
  • jauntily 
  • elusive 
  • rapturous 
  • ethereal


  • Research the different regions of Canada, including the geography, culture, and economy. How do these features affect the people who live there – for good and for bad?
  • Anne has long looked for a kindred spirit, and she is sure that Diana will be that even before she meets her. Do you have a kindred spirit? What do you think Anne means when she says that?