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2ndGenHomeschooler

US History - Sonlight?

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We’ve been doing World History for the past few years. We’re using SOTW and enjoy it. We mostly just read the chapters, narrate, do maps, and read a book or too suggested in the Activity Guide. Occasionally we’ll do a project. We’re finishing up volume 4.

 

Next year I’d like to take a break from World History and do US History. I’d like something similar to SOTW or literature based and I’ve been looking at Sonlight. I’m looking at the condensed Core D+E for my younger two (4th and 6th grades) and Core 100 for my oldest two (7th and 9th grades).

 

My questions are:

 

1) Are there any other US History programs I should consider?

 

2) I think I’d like to study roughly the same things with all four kids but would it be better to take 2 years with the younger two and do the separate D and E Cores?

 

3) How is doing Sonlight inexpensively by using the library? We really don’t have the budget to buy two new cores or even used ones really. I have some of the books already and our library has quite a few others. It’s small and I’ve never had to wait for books before. There are also larger libraries in neighboring towns. I could save quite a bit of money by buying used or new teacher’s guides and then using the library for most of the rest. Am I overlooking problems with this idea?

 

4) What is the LA like? I see that it’s included but how well is it laid out? Recently, we’ve been using LOE, IEW, Fix-It Grammar, and Spelling Power. I’ve been considering a switch to WWS and/or R&S for the older two next year. Is the SL LA well done? Can I easily leave out that part and use other materials or is it all tied together?

 

I will have an opportunity to look Sonlight in person at our convention in April but I’m trying to get some of my research done early. Also, if I’m going to piece it together from multiple places I might want to start earlier. Any help is appreciated.

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Biblioplan splits US over 2 years.  It would be Year 3 and then Year 4.   it is with World History as well, but they have a companion text and now a younger kid text as well.  But family discussions would be the same questions, just building to harder questions for the older kids.  You can purchase extras for different age groups for more output as well.  I think it works better for a split in ages than SL.  You could just get the basic companion text and family guide.  Then use the library for read aloud and readers.  The family guide has plenty of options for all ages and it also lists movies and other ideas to add on.  Like I said, they also have extras like maps and coloring pages and crafts, but it's not needed.  

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1) Are there any other US History programs I should consider?

 

3) How is doing Sonlight inexpensively by using the library? We really don’t have the budget to buy two new cores or even used ones really. I have some of the books already and our library has quite a few others. It’s small and I’ve never had to wait for books before. There are also larger libraries in neighboring towns. I could save quite a bit of money by buying used or new teacher’s guides and then using the library for most of the rest. Am I overlooking problems with this idea?

 

4) What is the LA like? I see that it’s included but how well is it laid out? Recently, we’ve been using LOE, IEW, Fix-It Grammar, and Spelling Power. I’ve been considering a switch to WWS and/or R&S for the older two next year. Is the SL LA well done? Can I easily leave out that part and use other materials or is it all tied together?

 

I don't know what ages you are teaching, but I really liked Notgrass US History (America the Beautiful).  It's geared for 5th-8th grades.  My 4th kid uses My Father's World and she loves that, too.  #5 will use My Father's World, also.

 

Our first year of homeschooling (like 9-10 years ago), we used SL core B and I just bought the IG (which I ended up not even using, because at that point, it was just a giant, over-glorified schedule) and got the books at the library.  I did have to buy a few of them.

 

Three of my teenagers are getting ready to use SL again.  It just came last week.  Their shipping is really, really fast.  It actually beat my Amazon shipment.  Two of the teens are using core 200 and one is using core 100.  I usually put our curriculum together myself, but my 5th kid has just put such a massive strain on our day that we all agreed to use boxed curriculum for a couple of years.  He pretty much needs my attention all day and the teenagers were wanting something they can do independently.  My 4th kid still uses MFW and she still needs me a lot, too.    

 

I bought the IGs and not the cores.  I'm going to get the books from the library.  There is no way I can spend $2,000 on curriculum.  If you do some googling, there are a couple of blogs about people using the library for SL.  Most of the blogs and articles talk about how foolish we are (lol) for trying to use the library and how SL is "worth every penny".  *sigh*  That is frustrating.  Just because the books are great and it's a good deal doesn't mean I actually *have* that much money to spend on it.  SL is very good at marketing.  

 

Before we clicked "buy" on their website, I printed off the booklists for both cores and cross-checked each title with my library's online catalog to make sure most of the books were actually there at the library.  I marked which books I would need to buy and then checked the price on SL's website versus Amazon.  Most of the time, SL's prices were fine, but there was a book that was $10 cheaper on Amazon and I felt that was pretty significant.  Sometimes, a book ends up being better to buy from SL.  So, on my booklist, I highlighted which books we are going to read.  I'm eliminating about 1/4 of them for the oldest teens.  

 

Total, I only have to buy 6 books (for 2 cores).  

 

I did buy our high school geometry on SL's website, because it was a good price (and free shipping).

 

Another thing- the SL binders are expensive.   :confused:  They don't have to say Sonlight on them in our house.  We know what those big binders are!  We're not supposed to resell the IGs anyway.  So, I just bought cheap binders from Amazon.  I also used sticky notes instead of dividers.  And I did put the binders/IGs together over the weekend and if I were to do over again, I would not buy a big 3" binder for the each core.  I would separate the IGs into smaller binders.  The 3" binder for Core 100 was ridiculous.  The teens were joking that it could be used as a weapon.  It weighs like 100 pounds.  We'll need a crane to carry it from room to room.   :tongue_smilie:  

 

I don't know about the LA.  The high school cores are probably different than the younger-kid cores.  I'm supplementing with Daily Grammar.  The IG is mostly comprehension questions, writing assignments and vocabulary words from the reading.  

 

I hope something out of all that helped you.  Sorry for rambling.  Good luck with your decision! 

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Biblioplan splits US over 2 years.  It would be Year 3 and then Year 4.   it is with World History as well, but they have a companion text and now a younger kid text as well.  But family discussions would be the same questions, just building to harder questions for the older kids.  You can purchase extras for different age groups for more output as well.  I think it works better for a split in ages than SL.  You could just get the basic companion text and family guide.  Then use the library for read aloud and readers.  The family guide has plenty of options for all ages and it also lists movies and other ideas to add on.  Like I said, they also have extras like maps and coloring pages and crafts, but it's not needed.  

 

Man, I tried so hard to sell my teens on the idea of using Biblioplan!!  It looks like a great curriculum and it's based on the WTM.    

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We used SL Core 100 last year for my 9th grader.  We know people who take two years to do this core, but we managed to finish it in one.  Some of the discussion notes are crazy long; otherwise, we enjoyed this core a lot and I read most of the books as well so that we could have great discussions together.

 

I wanted to like SL LA, but ended up being so much happier with using IEW's Advanced U.S. History-based writing lessons instead.  There is a near perfect match-up between the two which made for an overall great year for us that I will always cherish, actually!

 

You would have to modify the core to work for the 7th grader, but I totally understand the desire and cohesiveness of everyone in the family being on the same period of history at the same time.

 

Blessings,

 

Brenda

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I was using Biblioplan and had this crazy notion Sonlight would be easier and somehow respond to my need for less planning, but honestly—it was a lot of fluff and the IG was terribly difficult to implement for multiple cores. So 8 weeks into our year this year we went back to biblioplan. I love it. And I truly loved it before but I did have to look ahead and plan and that gets a bit tiring. However, it was still less time consuming and more easily manipulated than Sonlight.

 

Get the Family Guide and Discussion Guide. You can also get Cool History for the age group, but could make your own questions from the discussion guide if you want them to have some kind of written answer. The geography is so-so and I often deviate from that but it’s not bad—it’s just not entirely what I want for geography.

Edited by mamamoose
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What about CLE's 8th grade US history for the two olders? It's written to be done mostly independently. You can add all kinds of fun library books for both to make it like Sonlight, but wouldn't need particular ones to fit the Sonlight IG. Add a few papers for the older one to beef it up for high school. I haven't used it, but the textbook looks great. It seems more academically challenging than America the Beautiful from Notgrass, but easier on the budget than Sonlight.

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We used SL Core 100 last year for my 9th grader.  We know people who take two years to do this core, but we managed to finish it in one.  

 

We were also advised to take 1.5-2 years to do that core and you just don't have that kind of time when they're in high school.  We're doing it in one year, also.

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Thanks so much! SL looks like a ton of books and was wondering how we’d fit it all in one year. I really only want to do one year of US history with the older two right now. I’d like my oldest’s last three years of HS to be World History. My 11yo currently does all subjects except math and science with my 13yo so I’m not worried about her keeping up. They’re both strong, fast readers.

 

I have friends who use Biblioplan and Notgrass. They’re doing World History but if I look at what they’re using I could get a sense for if I’d like the programs. One of my DD’s uses CLE for math and we really like it. I’ll check out their history too.

 

I’ve printed out the book lists for SL to see what I can get from the library and take a closer look at the level of the books. My younger two (ages 9 and 11 in the fall) are not strong readers so maybe SL wouldn’t be a good fit for them. We’re working hard at it but I don’t know where they’ll be in a few months. I don’t think I’d have time to read everything out loud.

 

I have a lot to think about!

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Sonlight's US History is actually what made me vow to never, ever purchase anything from them again. They had some really shoddy info in the IG about slavery and John Holzman's response when he was called out here was less than satisfactory. I like my history curriculum to be written by historians who know what they are doing, I found that Sonlight did not live up to that expectation. 

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We switched to Sonlight HBL D from a classical history rotation, because it was to difficult for my kids to piece together US History from a world-wide scope. It has been a fantastic move for us, and besides just enjoying going deeper into US, I also really appreciate how much this program has taken off my plate planning-wise. It has been a big help. My kids are really enjoying the content, as well. I purchased our material used, however, piecing it together would work as well. There are a few books (in level D, at least) that are exclusive to Sonlight, so you will need to purchase those from Sonlight, or they are often found on e-bay. One way that piecing the program together yourself is really beneficial is that you can get some of the read-alouds on audiobook, which is just really nice to break things up. I am making the level work for my range of kids by substituting the book "The Beginner's American History"--a book of historical biographies--with picture book biographies from the library. My most advanced student is 10, and the program, as is, is very appropriate for him--he is a strong reader, and finishing the reading assignments much faster than scheduled, so I would think slower readers could keep up with he schedule fine. Another thing I have done is use some of the readers as read-alouds for my younger-level kids. The Language Arts is one of my favorite parts of this program. It is so wonderful that it is built around the history. We had been using a more classical style of language arts, and just getting really bogged down with all the parts and memorization. I think the Sonlight LA approach definitely fits our family better. It has been an appropriate level for my 10 year old. Next year I will add a supplementary grammar program. We use the prepared dictation method for spelling, and dictations related to reading assignments are included in the LA, which has been nice. 

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Sonlight's US History is actually what made me vow to never, ever purchase anything from them again. They had some really shoddy info in the IG about slavery and John Holzman's response when he was called out here was less than satisfactory. I like my history curriculum to be written by historians who know what they are doing, I found that Sonlight did not live up to that expectation. 

 

Yeah, my dd and I would just roll our eyes and keep on going when we'd come to certain sections in the notes by Holzman (just like you said), but that didn't deter us from 'eating the meat and spitting out the bones'.  And we really enjoyed the Hakim books.

 

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Sonlight's US History is actually what made me vow to never, ever purchase anything from them again. They had some really shoddy info in the IG about slavery and John Holzman's response when he was called out here was less than satisfactory. I like my history curriculum to be written by historians who know what they are doing, I found that Sonlight did not live up to that expectation.

Thanks for this information. I do want an accurate history program that’s not too biased in any direction (I know some bias is unavoidable).

 

What is the reading level of the Joy Hakim books like? My DC will be 14, 12, 11, and 9 next fall, a local library has the whole “History of US†series. Maybe I could pull together my own thing using that as a spine? I could read it aloud and then have them branch off into their own additional assignments.

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From what I recall, the first book or two of Hakim's series is written to a younger audience.  Later on, she gets more detailed, but still maintains an easy-going reading style.  You could get the Oxford Assessment tests for U.S. History with Hakim for your 9th grader and then maybe use what Vintage81 posted for the younger ones (not sure what these are like, but I also heard that common core used Hakim for 5th grade or so.  Obviously, it is learned in a different way than when reading the series as a 9th grader, though.

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SL 100 is actually pretty doable in a year (and I say that as someone who went eclectic for the higher SL cores because they were not doable for us in a year). We did drop a few books, and I did several as read-alouds, but otherwise pretty doable. I did a good portion of the SL notes with my oldest, but I'd either totally dump them or seriously cull them if I did SL 100 again. The notes on the Hakim books really need to be redone both for length and content (as the poster above mentioned). We did end up dumping them eventually. 

 

My youngest is not a history fan like my oldest, so I gave her the choice between Hakim (I was going to try to amend those notes!) or Notgrass, and she thought she'd like Notgrass. (We did still do the SL lit, and some of the other SL history books, though we didn't get to as many as my oldest did). I wasn't impressed with Notgrass for this subject though, and I'd go back to Hakim if we did it again. Hakim really has a lot of interesting content. 

 

(I did like Notgrass for government, just not for US history). 

 

All that to say--our best experience was with SL, and I think I would have liked it better with fewer notes! I hope you have a great year, whatever you choose!

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 I did a good portion of the SL notes with my oldest, but I'd either totally dump them or seriously cull them if I did SL 100 again. 

 

We plan to completely skip them.

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Thanks for this information. I do want an accurate history program that’s not too biased in any direction (I know some bias is unavoidable).

 

What is the reading level of the Joy Hakim books like? My DC will be 14, 12, 11, and 9 next fall, a local library has the whole “History of US†series. Maybe I could pull together my own thing using that as a spine? I could read it aloud and then have them branch off into their own additional assignments.

Thread in question in case you're interested: http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/468105-is-holzman-white-washing-slavery-in-sonlight-core-100/page-1

 

I used Sonlight at one point and though I had dropped it in our homeschool by that point, I still recommended to others. John Holzmann's interactions with me and others on that thread changed that. I now actively discourage people I know from using it.

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Thread in question in case you're interested: http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/468105-is-holzman-white-washing-slavery-in-sonlight-core-100/page-1

 

I used Sonlight at one point and though I had dropped it in our homeschool by that point, I still recommended to others. John Holzmann's interactions with me and others on that thread changed that. I now actively discourage people I know from using it.

Thanks! I’ll take a look at it.

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Thread in question in case you're interested: http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/468105-is-holzman-white-washing-slavery-in-sonlight-core-100/page-1

 

I used Sonlight at one point and though I had dropped it in our homeschool by that point, I still recommended to others. John Holzmann's interactions with me and others on that thread changed that. I now actively discourage people I know from using it.

What a fascinating thread! Thank you for linking it. There was a lot of information I didn’t know plus some additional book suggestions. It gave me a lot to think about.

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I loved sonlight when I did it with my two kids years ago. We used a combo of the library and buying used. A very few books we bought new. I was so happy when our local library rolled out online book reservations! We did some things in a different order due to a book not being available, but on the whole it was a good experience. Ds loved the science experiments, and dd loves to read so loved it all. They both enjoyed the biographies assigned.

 

Just reminiscing, no real help here :)

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