Living Books: Underground Railroad and Freedom from Slavery

I read slowly and carefully while my children hung to my every word.

The running, hiding, and terror, in the story,  edged my kids on to root for the poor colored family that was trying to find the way to freedom and happiness. 

All too soon, in the middle of an exciting moment, I had to place the bookmark in our chapter and shut the book, announcing that this is where we needed to stop for now.

Their cries of “No, No! Keep reading! Please?!” Made my husband and I smile. Not only was this quality family time together, but we were all learning about the underground railroad.

Living Book list about the underground railroad and getting freedom from slavery

Living books in your homeschool is a great and memorable way to teach your child about all sorts of topics. If you’re unsure what a living book is and how to use them in your homeschool this article will help you out. How to use Living Books Effectively in Your Homeschool. 

The following books are ones that I’ve picked up at yard sales or book sales, and they are really good. Our family has really enjoyed them, and if you can borrow them from the library or purchase them on the internet, your kids can enjoy them too. 

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss

Amos Fortune; Free Man

Written by Elizabeth Yates

This story is based on a true story, about a fifteen year old boy in a tribal village in Africa. He is prince of this African tribe, but is taken captive by slave traders from America. He watches his parents die, and is torn apart from his disabled little sister.

In America, he is given the name of Amos, and is sold as a slave. This book tells the story of how Amos worked hard, obeyed his masters, saved his money, and thought about others.

Amos’ life mission was to work hard and long enough to buy his own freedom and then to buy the freedom of others, particularly of disabled young ladies.

Amos’ problems never stopped as he dealt with racial prejudice, and the injustices that people caused him. But, Amos rises above it all, and teaches the reader that love toward others is the most important, and that is how to have true freedom.

This is an excellent book.

Your child will be introduced to tribal customs and life in an African village, and as Amos learns the trade of tanning, your child will be learning about that as well.

There are no pictures in this book, but Elizabeth Yates does a good job of making the story come alive with her vivid details.

Living Book descriptions about the underground railroad and freedom from slavery

“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” – Frederick Douglas

Stealing South: A Story of the Underground Railroad

Written by Katherine Ayres

Sixteen year old Will is ready to leave home and make his own way in the world.

Following in his family’s footsteps, of helping runaway slaves, Will promises to help a separated slave find his other family members and get them north to the free states.
Will’s eyes are open to the horrible reality of slave breeding, but through this topic, Will is able to assist a whole wagon load of slaves escape the south.

A picture of book covers from stories about the underground railroad and freedom from slavery

This is a good book that will keep you reading.

The topic of slave breeding  took me by surprise because I had never thought about that aspect of slavery and of farmers making a profit, literally by selling their good “slave-stock” for higher dollar amounts.

Katherine Ayres does a good job of making the story come alive, but I wish that she would have watched Will’s vocabulary more, as he says “durn it” quite a bit.

Will’s experiences keep the reader reading, as the poor child  has plenty of trials to go through, as he becomes a peddler in the south.

He faces his own medical emergencies, getting lost, being chased by mean men, being chased by dogs, and swimming for his life against raging river currents.

“I kept always two books in my pocket, one to read, one to write in.”
 – Robert Louis Stevenson

From Slave to Soldier: Based on a True Civil War Story

Written by Deborah Hopkinson
This book is a Ready to Read, Level Three book: Rich vocabulary, more-challenging stories, and longer chapters.

This wonderful reader includes a colorful map at the beginning showing your learner the free states and the slave states. There is plenty of colorful illustrations that help your elementary-age child figure out the words of the story.

Little Johnny works hard every day at his chores, to please his master.

He takes care of the cows and helps make butter. Unfortunately, Johnny receives no thanks for his long days of work, and even at times gets punished when something doesn’t go right.

When Johnny comes across some union soldiers out in a field, Johnny has to make up his mind if he wants to go back to his master, or join the army and be free. Johnny chooses the army, and soon finds himself working hard with the mule teams.

Living book summaries that have been written about the underground railroad and freedom from slavery

Johnny has to prove himself to the others, that he can drive the mules, as a flash flood is washing out a bridge that he is crossing.

In the end, Johnny really does become a free army man, and the captain gives him his own uniform.

This story is based on the real life of John McCline.

It is a good book for a little person, with just enough suspense to make it great, but not too scary.

“The person who deserves most pity is a lonesome one on a rainy day who doesn’t know how to read.” – Benjamin Franklin

The Drinking Gourd: The Story of the Underground Railroad

Written by: F.N. Monjo
An I Can Read book, Level 3, for grades 2-4

Little Tommy is sure to get into trouble because he just can’t sit still during the church service.

When he disrupts the entire congregation and the service, his dad sends him home.
Once home, Tommy discovers there are runaway slaves hiding out in his dad’s barn.

Tommy is given a big job to hide and then drive the hiding slaves to the next station on the railroad.

Picture of the book cover for The Drinking Gourd

How does Tommy know that squirming and getting in trouble at church is the exact thing he needed to get out from under the sheriff’s watchful eye?

This book is filled with great pictures and large text. It is perfect for the beginning reader.

“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.” – Walt Disney

Riverboat Adventure Series (Also known as The Freedom Seekers)

This extraordinary series of six books will have you on the edge of your seat as soon as you start page one.

You won’t want to miss any book in this set.

The titles are:
1. Escape into the Night
2. Race for Freedom
3. Midnight Rescue
4. The Swindler’s Treasure
5. Mysterious Signal
6. The Fiddler’s Secret
This series was written by Louis Walfrid Johnson
For ages 8-13

After the death of her mother, thirteen year-old Libby Norstad gets to travel full-time with her dad on his boat, The Christina.

Mr. Norstad, uses his boat to hide and transport runaway slaves up north. Caleb, Mr. Norstad’s fourteen year-old cabin boy, is a helping hand to the hiding slaves, and soon Libby realizes that something on the ship isn’t what it seems.

When Libby learns the harsh reality of slavery, and the ability to help slaves, Libby pleads with her dad and Caleb to help out on the underground railroad.

Unfortunately, Libby’s mouth and actions get ahead of her thinking and she says and does things that jeopardize the safety of her “cargo”.

Many different people ride on The Christina, and Libby and Caleb often find themselves in dangerous situations with slave catchers on board.

Pictures of book covers from stories about the underground railroad and freedom from slavery

Within all of the books, Libby and Caleb attempt to rescue Jordan and his entire family and get them north. They must not be spotted and caught by the awful dangerous Riggs, Jordan’s slave catcher.

With disguises, detours, and disasters, they barely miss being captured.

All the while, Mr. Norstad runs a tight ship, hiding fugitives, battling storms, dealing with sabatoge, and almost losing The Christina with financial troubles.

Libby learns to deal with anger, jealousy, and fear by trusting in God. Louis Walfrid Johnson does an excellent job within the stories, weaving in biblical principals and the gospel message.

There are a few pencil drawn pictures throughout each book that are very well done, and add just enough visual help to keep the characters real in our minds.

Each book comes with a layout of The Christina, which is really interesting to look at.

While reading, your child will be exposed to plenty of boat terminology and seaman terms.

Also, many river names and states are mentioned as the Norstads and Caleb travel.

Some books have really good maps in the beginning so you can follow along as The Christina travels north.

Bible Trivia: Start Your Homeschool Day the Fun Way

Free printable Bible trivia calendar for homeschool students

What is the name of the Sea that Moses crossed with the Israelites, when they left Egypt? The correct answer is… the Red Sea.

What weapon did Jael use to kill Sisera, the captain of the Canaanite army, during the time of the judges? A tent peg

What was the present that Jacob gave to his favorite son, Joseph? A coat of many colors

Free printable Bible trivia school calendar for homeschoolers

Bible facts. Sometimes it’s really hard to remember everything.

I know that whenever I reread a Bible story, from the Bible, I always learn something new and interesting that I have never seen before.

The same thing goes for your children. How can we as parents, get them to recall Bible facts about present and past Bible stories that they have or are studying?

The answer comes in the form of a fun, non-threatening Bible trivia calendar.

This free calendar is colorful and easy to use. Each school day has one question on it, with the correct KJV answer given on the back side.

If you need to look up an answer, to reread a story, or discover a new story you have never heard of before, the Scripture reference is right there along side the correct answer.

Different forms of questions are used including fill-in-the-blanks, and multiple choice.

If you or your child don’t know the answer, it’s ok. Use this free printable calendar to encourage learning and fun.

Mark the question and come back to it in a few days. See if your child remembers it then.

Free printable homeschool school calendar of Bible trivia

             Make it fun. Start your day the right way, with Bible trivia!

                                     Download your personal copy today.

How to Create a Mission-Minded Homeschool

make your homeschool mission-minded

STORY:  My husband, daughters, and I stood at the airport and watched my son get in line to board his plane to Ecuador for his medical missions trip.

He was excited to be going with the team, and he was anxious to be helping any way that he could so that the patients there could hear the Gospel message.

Not every child will have such an opportunity to go on a missions trip, but can we as parents help our kids be mindful of lost souls, and be aware of the men and women around them that are witnessing to folks locally and around the world?
I believe we can.

How Can We Keep Our Minds on Missions in our Homeschool?

Buy Christian Curriculum That Emphasizes Missions

My Father’s World, a Protestant based curriculum, does this very well.

When my kids and I did their geography for a year, I was blown away by the wonderful books that brought to life children in different lands, and missionary stories that were both happy and sad.

We really enjoyed that year of social studies and it was a real eye opener for all of us.

Read Books About Missionaries

Family story-time is a good time to share a missionary story.

Youth With A Mission (YWAM) has excellent missionary stories that my kids have enjoyed over and over.

YWAM has missionary stories for two age groups. The ones for the elementary years are written in rhyming poetry, and have good pictures.

The set for middle school age to adult is in novel form. YWAM fills all of my personal criteria for a living book.

Do you know how to use living books in your homeschool? If not, here’s where there is help for you.

Make your homeschool mission-minded

Watch Videos About Missionaries

The Torchlighters DVD series are animated stories highlighting missionary lives.

They are done in a cartoon form, perfect for little people to get used to hearing missionary names like Corrie Ten Boom, Adoniram Judson, and George Mueller.

Christian Book Distributors has the Torchlighter videos, plus movies aimed for the older child and adults, such as C.T. Studd, and Steve Saint.

“You have one business on earth – to save souls.” – John Wesley

Get to Know A Current Missionary

This has been the BEST way to keep missions on our minds. Getting to know a missionary that is currently on furlough or on the field opens up a whole host of opportunities and ideas.

When your church has their missionary conference or a missionary visiting for a Sunday or service, be sure to attend. In this way, you can:

make your homeschool mission-minded

*Watch/listen to their report
*Get introduced to the part of the world that they are called to
*Introduce yourself to the missionary
*Sign up for their prayer letter
*Take their current prayer letter home with you
*Take their prayer card home with you
*Ask them to sign your Bible with their favorite verse
*Get to know their children, especially if they are your own kids’ ages
*Ask them if they would like to connect with you on social media
*Asking questions is a great way to break the ice and be memorable in the missionary’s mind
*Offer to take the missionary out for a meal, or have them to your home
*Provide lodging while the missionary is in town

Provide Support and Encouragement to Your Missionary

There are multiple ways to support a missionary:

A. Write their prayer requests in your prayer journal and pray for them daily.

B. Raise/collect money to support a project/need that the missionary has.

(You will need to obtain the missionary’s Mission Board address off of their prayer card or website to send the money to.
You should write on the check the project or the need so the mission board knows how and where to send your money.)

STORY: One missionary our church supported, had a need for a van to transport his family and community children to special church events and church services.
Thankfully, God provided the funds for our church to buy a van for them. My husband and I volunteered to drive the van to them, a few states away. We had a wonderful time delivering the van and staying two days.
Our kids became friends with their kids, and had a good time together.
This missionary was part of an aviation ministry. He offered us a plane ride, but unfortunately, because of time, we couldn’t take him up on the offer.
(I’ve never been on a plane before, so it worked out! (RELIEF!)
No, I’m sure the kids would have really enjoyed it, if we would have had time.

C. Acknowledge their birthday and anniversary

D. Send holiday cards or letters

E. Respond to their prayer letter and ask for updates on previous requests

F. Send a “praying for you” e-mail occasionally

G. Make a visit to their home, if possible

STORY: We had the privilege to visit a missionary family that was serving on an Indian reservation in the Dakotas. We arrived on a Friday afternoon and left on Monday morning. We had a great time with this family. The Saturday we were there, we were blessed to be able to pick potatoes, help with wood cutting, and can green beans. On Sunday, we attended their church. I was given the opportunity to teach the children’s class, and it was wonderful to meet the Indian children and their parents.
We were able to get so many pictures, and we have so many happy memories. It was really a great time.

H. Attend a special event or service that they host

STORY: My family also had the privilege to visit a drug rehabilitation facility that was located on a farm on the East coast. This special service was for the participants who had graduated from the rehab program. We were able to tour their facility, encourage them with our presence, and meet some of the guests that had completed the program. The missionary had a free meal for everyone, a time of testimonies, an award ceremony, and then all of the children in attendance got to have pony rides. Once again, we were able to get so many great pictures, and we have a lot of good memories of that visit.

I. Send their child a Christmas gift box (Beware if you send a box overseas. Make sure that the fee and time that the missionary has to pay to get the box is worth it, if the box gets delivered right to their door, then perfect!)

STORY: For a few years, our church was able to send a Christmas box to one of our missionaries in Liberia. This missionary lived in such a remote area that he had no address to send the box to! We were able to send it to the closest ship docking area, but the missionary had to travel there to receive the box. He couldn’t get the box though, unless he payed the fees to receive it. We took the chance that our box might be stolen or broken into, but it never was. Unfortunately, we had to stop sending the gifts because it was just too hard for the missionary to obtain.

STORY: Another missionary in Cameroon also received our gift boxes for a few years. The missionary wife had a great idea. She would only let her kids open one gift per day. (Every item was wrapped individually) In this way, Christmas lasted a while! They were so happy to receive even the simplest gift. Who would have thought that Jello would be a delicacy for them?

Sometimes, a mission board will be having a freight container being sent to the missionary. If you ask the mission board, sometimes your item can get on the container too! 

STORY: Our church was blessed to be able to send linens and toiletry items to a deaf school in the Philippines. It was really awesome to track the container, which was on a boat, across the globe. Unfortunately, it took months to get there, but it finally made it!

J.  If your missionary is part of an organization, organize a work-day.

STORY: One missionary we supported was a director of a homeless rescue mission in the city. We were blessed to be part of our church’s work group to spend a Saturday working at the mission. The men did construction and other type work, while us ladies worked at filling bags with gifts that would be given to the homeless on Christmas day. We all got a lot done that day, and we were a big help to the missionary.

Take Advantage of Your Missionary's Geography

Use the missionary’s geography as a starting point for more study.
You could find out:
1. The country name
2. The country’s flag
3. The population
4. The types of food the people eat
5. The climate
6. The type of housing
7. The main religion
8. The language

Take Advantage of Writing Opportunites

Here are a few ideas:
1. Become a pen pal with the missionary’s child
2. Ask the missionary if your child can be a pen pal with another child their age in the country where the missionary lives. That would be awesome for that child far away.
3. Conduct an interview and write a report on the missionary.

have a mission-minded homeschool

Art Assignment

Do you have any empty wall space? You can have your child make a mission wall and post a map, the missionary’s prayer card, and latest letters.

Bible Assignments

“If you take missions out of the Bible, you won’t have anything left but the covers.” – Nina Gunter

Studying missionaries in the Bible is a great way to see how they spread the gospel.
People like Jonah, Paul, and Peter would be an excellent place to start!

Being mission-minded is a lot of fun, and it is incredibly awarding as you get to know your missionary.  

The more you correspond, talk about, help, and encourage your missionary, the more it will keep the missionary on your children’s minds, and in that way, your homeschool will be very mission-minded. Yeah!!!

Homeschool Curriculum Review: Ready for Reading

Are you ready to begin teaching your 4-6 year old child to start to read?

Finding curriculum that is easy to use, fun for you both, and has a great system is no easy task.

With Ready for Reading, Level One by Jen Merckling,  your search is over.

Fun, Fun, Fun!

Jen has done an excellent job in creating a course that meets all the expectations that I look for when I search for curriculum for my own kids.

Ready for Reading, Level One helps you to teach your child to recognize and name all the letters of the alphabet, recognize all of the initial consonant and short vowel sounds, and master twenty sight words.

This colorful, 240 page curriculum gives you all the lesson plans, worksheets, readers, games, ideas, helpful hints, teaching tips, flashcards, recording sheets, and encouragement that you will need to be successful and organized.

From one homeschool mom to another, Jen knows exactly what you need and she really delivers.

Each week of lesson plans is broken down into four daily plans. One alphabet letter per week is learned, plus review.

Jen's Unique Approach to Learning the ABC 's

Instead of learning the alphabet in alphabetical order, Jen has creatively fashioned the list in a way that your child will learn the most-used letters first.  In this way, blending consonants and short vowel words together will happen earlier.


Each daily lesson through the week builds upon the previous, as review, games, worksheets and creative ideas and tips are given for you and your child’s success.

No Need to Guess What to Do Next

There is no need to guess what you need to do.
The lesson plans are simple to use and the worksheets, readers, and game idea lists are easy to find. 

You will find that beginning phonics awareness can be fun and easy
at the same time.

I highly recommend Jen Mercklings
Ready for Reading, Level One.

Homeschool Curriculum: Choose with Confidence

Choose your homeschool curriculum with confidence

Choosing your homeschooling curriculum is no easy task. 

It’s hard comparing curriculum and trying to decide which one will be the best for you and your child. 

But it doesn’t have to be too difficult if you can figure out the basics first.

I’m going to let you in on my first steps so that you can look at the broad picture, and then narrow down your focus so that you can choose your next homeschool curriculum with confidence.

Choose your homeschool curriculum with confidence

I should say, before we get too far, that I use an eclectic method to homeschooling. 

Being eclectic means that I pull curriculum, ideas, videos, and techniques from everywhere.

While this may sound like the perfect choice for some, beware, you have just opened up the whole entire world of curriculum publishers to peruse, analyze, and choose from. 

But don’t let that deter you, because once you find a curriculum publisher or series that fits you and your child, you will absolutely fall in love with it, and you will come back to it year after year.

So let’s get on with it.

Step One: Identify the Legal Requirements

Each state has its own requirements for what your child should be studying for each grade.

Now granted, it most likely is a generic subject that they will tell you, but you should still know if you need to find a tenth grade science class for Junior or if you’re going to need a fifth grade health class for Suzie.

Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) has a page where you can choose your state and they will lead you to the information where you can find exactly what is required of you, according to your specific state laws. It’s very nice of them.

If you’re required to be under an oversight group’s supervision, then they also will most likely have some guidelines that you should follow to be compliant with the state laws. You’ll have to talk with your oversight administrator and make sure you have the exact details of what is required of your child for the coming year.

Most likely, for Kindergarten to fifth grade, you will need all the basic subjects: math, social studies/history, science, language arts (reading/phonics, writing, spelling, grammar), health, art and physical education.

For sixth through eighth grade, you will probably need all of the basic subjects, but you should also look into the fact that the subjects are getting harder. 

choose the best homeschool curriculum with confidence

More states now are requiring pre-algebra and introduction into geometry during the middle school years. Also, high school credits are now being opened up to middle schoolers, either required credits or voluntary credits. So it’s wise to know this stuff ahead of time, for your state.

High School is where the real fun begins as the basic subjects are now extremely focused into specific areas of study. 

Each state and oversight group rules will be able to tell you how many credits are required for each basic subject. 

For example, they’ll say you need three credits of science. So that could be biology, animal science, and veterinary science. 

You as the parent, will have to keep that in mind as you order curriculum. You certainly don’t want to order something that is not an interest or isn’t even a credit/class that is needed to graduate.

Step Two: Identify Your Personal Requirements

We as parents know there are items that we think our children should learn that is not taught in a textbook or curriculum. You may want to think of these things so that you can add them in. It’s nice to plan ahead.

For instance, I think computers are going to be around for a while. Don’t you? 

You may want to plan on a typing curriculum in the elementary years. 

 As your child grows, their computer skills should also increase.
It’s helpful to answer this question each year.
What do I think is important for my child to know about
computers right now?

Here is a list of possible ideas:
1. Computer basics
2. Computer and internet safety
3. Working with email
4. Using social media
5. Using word processing software
6. Web design
7. Blogging and Vlogging

How about Home Economics? I had this class when I was in middle school. It covered everything from cooking, cleaning, to personal hygiene. 

I remember that shop class was also a requirement. Now you may not have access to drill presses and big power tools, but being able to handle a hammer, nail, and a saw, could come in useful one day.

As your son gets older, you may want to consider a home improvement class that covers basic electricity, plumbing, heating & air conditioning, and landscaping.

Automotive fundamentals is not a bad class either. 

These types of classes may not be “required” but sometimes this basic stuff can get overlooked, and we are trying to raise our kids to be independent adults, right?

Step Three: Identify the Type of Teaching Assistance You will Need for Each Subject

Based on your own personality, interests, and talents, you will be able to figure out how much assistance you will need from a curriculum’s teacher’s book or publisher.

As you read through the descriptions below, think about each subject or topic that you decided on from above, and make a note on what you will be looking for in each teacher’s book, for each of those subjects.

#1: I am a confident teacher about this subject.

The teacher for this subject is o.k. with having a teacher’s book, but does not feel bound by it. 

The teacher’s own knowledge for this subject is high, so she does not need to be told in the manual what to say or ask, and what the student’s response should be.
This teacher is confident enough, where a general outline of topics may be all that is necessary to have.

This teacher enjoys teaching this subject so much that she is able to come up with her own creative ideas and supplemental materials to enhance her children’s learning. She does not feel that seeking out her own supplies is a burden for the ideas that she is able to come up with on her own.

#2: I am somewhat comfortable with this subject, but not one hundred percent sure.

The teacher for this subject would definitely prefer a teacher’s book that has the answers and examples on how to do problems. 

She likes to see the pages that are assigned for the day, but does not feel compelled to follow it strictly, because of her own interest in the subject. 

She would be happy with the option to use a “teacher asks/student says” format in the teacher’s manual for each lesson. 

She would like supplemental and creative ideas for experiments or crafts, along with the list of supplies that will be needed. She would like the option of being able to order these supplies to come ready-to-use, if time becomes a factor.

#3: I am not comfortable at all with this subject

This teacher honestly admits that she will need a high level of help with this subject.
She will not be able to deviate from a lesson plan because she will be learning along with her child. 

This teacher would be o.k. with another teacher teaching, but would still definitely need the answer key, with each answer explained and shown, how to do.

Any supplemental materials or creative options should be explained in detail, along with good pictures on how to do crafts or experiments. This teacher would really like to have that availability to have all supplemental books, videos, craft supplies, and/or experiment supplies come packaged, organized and ready-to-go, as all of her energy will be focused on getting through the subject.

“Dear Homeschool Mom, You’ve got this! God called you to it, and He will see you through it. Inhale Grace. Exhale Doubt.” 
― Tamara L. Chilver

Step Four: Identify Your Child's Learning Style According to Their Senses

Each person learns things differently, and it changes with time and maturity. There are three ways that our senses help us to learn.
Analyzing your child, to see which way of learning is the most prominent, will help you know what to look for when choosing your curriculum. 

* Visual Learner: 

a child that is a visual learner, seems to remember what they see and can recall information just from visually picturing it again, in their mind. 

Some may say this child has a photographic memory. This child enjoys plenty of colorful pictures, diagrams, maps, videos, and labels. 

Memorizing spelling words comes easy.

* Auditory Learner: 

This child remembers what she hears. 

She may not need to be looking at the video to remember and retain what was said. You would probably never say that what you say to this child goes in one ear and out the other. 

This child enjoys and can remember songs, jingles, commercials, and facts that are put to music. 

This child also has the ability to do more than one thing at a time. He/she can be doing something with his/her hands, but also be listening and memorizing what is being said.


* Tactile/Kinesthetic Learner: 

This child learns best with hands-on learning and moving around physically.

 If you can make a concept more concrete instead of abstract, this child will understand it better and faster. Building a history lesson with play-do or blocks will keep this child more engaged and interested and then he/she will remember the lesson more. 

This type of learner, requires more work for the teacher to come up with creative ideas to make the abstract principle more concrete.

Step Five: Putting it all Together

Now, all you have to do is evaluate your
curriculum choices based on
the options that you chose above. It’s like a puzzle.

Make sure you know:

  •  What subject/topic that you need
  •  What kind of support that you will
    be looking for from the publisher or
    in the teacher’s manual for that
  •  What kind of learning style(s) does
    the curriculum cater to. 

When you find what looks great and all
the pieces of the puzzle fit well, it’s a
good chance this curriculum will
work for you.

Choose your homeschool curriculum with confidence

Step Six: Get Connected

Homeschooling tips, free resources, curriculum reviews, and courses will be coming your way. In order for you not to miss any of the good stuff, just fill out the form below. 

I look forward to meeting you!



How to Homeschool Effectively with Living Books

Finding curriculum for your homeschooled child can sometimes be an overwhelming task. There are a lot of different choices and styles out there, and today, I want to help you investigate using living books for your kids and help you see that they are an excellent option to teach with.

What is a living book?

Good question to start off with! A living book can be fiction, non-fiction, or even a biography.
The book brings the subject and people to life. Hence the word “living”. Living books are so much more than this though.

They are memorable, they capture our interests, they hook us in and stimulate our feelings. They make us think, but are also very enjoyable.

For me personally, a great living book will also have a lot of conversation between the characters, and the characters will also portray good morals and values that would set excellent examples for my children.

Let me give you two choices and see if you can guess which one would qualify as a portion in a living book.

Meriwether Lewis sat quietly on the ground, his back against the rough bark of a large tree. Nearby, the Missouri River gently rippled, as it flowed away from him.
He glanced at the towering mountains that loomed ahead of him on his journey.
“How are we going to do it?”, thought Lewis. “How are we supposed to get over those mountains?”
Lewis’ brow furrowed as he contemplated the next movements for his team, the Corps of Discovery.
They needed to get over those mountains as fast as they could, before winter set in. Hopefully the Pacific Ocean was just on the other side of them.

Now compare that to this:
The Lewis and Clark Expedition from May 1804 to September 1806, also known as the Corps of Discovery Expedition, was the first American expedition to cross the western portion of the United States. It began near St. Louis, made its way westward, and passed through the Continental Divide of the Americas to reach the Pacific coast. The Corps of Discovery was a selected group of US Army volunteers under the command of Captain Meriwether Lewis and his close friend Second Lieutenant William Clark. (Wikipedia)

Could you tell which section would possibly be found in a living book? I hope so! It was the first section. There was emotion, a conflict, some conversation/thoughts, and details of the scenery. Could you picture the scene in your mind? 

What did you picture when you read the section from wikipedia?


1. Your child can and will learn with living books.
Let me ask you a question. Do you have an easier time remembering a story that was told to you, or a list of facts? For me and my children, it’s the story.

When a book becomes so interesting that the child just doesn’t want to stop reading it, learning will occur. Their brain is taking in all of the words, details, and mental imagery, and the topic, subject, or person is literally coming to life in their mind. They will remember it.

When you read the story out loud to them, they will actively listen and remember it as their mind pictures the story happening, and the conflict resolving. They won’t be bored with a living book, and their mind won’t wander like it will with boring facts.

2. Their interest in a book will drive them to want to learn more about that topic or person.
For instance, as I was growing up, I was very interested in the medical field. I began reading stories about people that had overcome great physical or mental obstacles in their life, and these people went on to make their life wonderful!

It wasn’t just the triumph over tragedy saga that caught my attention, it was the physical therapy that they had to go through, the surgeries, the hospital settings, the psychiatrists, the wounds and treatments, etc. 

Just by reading about people having to get those kinds of things done, I was learning about different diseases, diagnoses, and medical terminology. 

These stories just kept fueling my desire to learn more and more and more! And by the way, I was blessed to be able to graduate from nursing school, and I enjoy using my nursing skills to help others.


Unfortunately, there are some disadvantages of using just living books.
1. The biggest one for me was the fear that I was not covering all of the topics that a secular or even a private school social studies textbook was.

I learned quickly though, that even if I didn’t cover a large time period or a large topic list, that my kids were remembering more of just these topics than what a public school kid was by reading through a textbook quickly.

I grew up in a public school, and I can tell you the truth. I have learned so much more with these living books than I ever did in my school classrooms.

2. Good books are hard to get rid of! This means that you’ll have to find room to store them. I know that I have a ton of stories that I want to save for my grandchildren one day. I want them to have the same happiness reading them as I have had.

3. Lesson planning with living books takes work. You have to plan ahead your activities, book sections to read, videos to watch, etc. But… it’s worth it, if you have the time to plan it out yourself.


First choose a topic or person. Suppose you already have an interest in Clara Barton. (Gotta keep with the medical stuff, ya know?) So, start at the library and get a few books on her.
When you flip through the book, I always look to see if there is conversation. I don’t like to see: she did this, and then she did that, etc. That gets boring.

You want signs of life in the book. As you peruse the pages, look at their language. I always do a quick skim and look for curse words. I put those books back.
If the book has pictures in it, that is perfectly fine. 

I love books that have maps or diagrams in the front, and also historical notes in the back. Sometimes there will be real-life pictures in those historical notes.
These kinds of books are usually keepers. 

When you get home, if the book you’re interested in is short enough, go ahead and read it.  Keep a pen and paper handy to write down some further study notes and any ideas you may come up with.

For example, every story has a setting.  Since you’re reading about a topic or person, you’ll want your child to learn where that place is on the map.  So that is number one.

Next, what is the date of the event or person’s life span? When you figure that out, you can start a timeline of the event/person’s life, or see what else was happening in the world around this time as well.

Third, as you read make a list of topics or ideas that come to mind that you could use for creative ideas.

For example, with Meriwether Lewis he kept a journal of the animals and plants that he saw. So, while your learning about Lewis, have your child keep a nature journal. Learn to draw trees, plants, and animals. 

You can even use different kinds of mediums to do your art with. Such as markers, watercolor paints, pencil, and colored pencil. If drawing isn’t your style, use modeling clay and sculpt some birds or squirrels!

Clara Barton ideas are fun for me. Have your child bandage you up. They could practice wrapping up your forehead, or putting your arm in a sling. Don’t forget to let your child take a picture!

After your story is over and if the topic was interesting, you’ll want to gather some supplemental items. If you want to read another book on that person, go ahead. Check out YouTube, the History channel, Nova, and Discovery. The library also has videos and if your library has online videos, these are nice to use as well. 

You can gather craft books or search online for different crafts for that era, or even look for recipes to try for different types of food.

Lapbooking is good to do if your child likes to cut and paste. These types of folders are wonderful to look at in years to come.

 I always enjoyed notebooking. Keeping your maps, written work, and timelines organized in one place. This is a great keepsake as well.
Whatever you do, don’t make this mistake that I did!


Testing isn’t always essay questions or multiple choice. You can find out if your child is remembering details just by talking with him/her. 

The Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling stresses the importance of narration. Narration is the skill of summarizing and then verbalizing what you have heard and learned. 

I did this a little bit with my kids, but basically I just asked them what they remembered from our reading yesterday. Any other type of open-ended questions also works well.

When you do the lapbooking or notebooking this is also a good way to evaluate your child. It’s not a test but just the action of your child writing down what they remember is good for them.


The library is a great place to start. Keep your ears open for books sales coming up in your area, and attend those. You can also find some good bargains at yard sales. Look for covers that pertain to either a real life person, or a historical event. 

Living book lists can be found online and are also a great place to start if you want to buy online or from amazon. 

When you get a book title you may be interested in, see if there is a book review written on that book online.

 I have a book review and free workbook and answer key written for Abraham Lincoln Gets His Chance. This book is available free with Amazon’s kindle edition.  



Over the years I’ve collected more books and more books and more books. I have learned to keep my books organized. Nothing is worse than having to hunt through your home for one little paper backed book that you know you have “somewhere”. 

My system starts with all of the biographies. I have them arranged alphabetically by last name. 

Next I have my books arranged by event. The events are in chronological order. So all of the World War I books are in front of World War II, etc. 

It gets tricky with people like Abraham Lincoln. Do you put him in the biography section or with the Civil War?

I chose to keep Lincoln with the Civil War, and Washington with the Revolutionary War, etc. I figured my biography section was for people that only had one or two books to their name. Lincoln and Washington have a ton, so I put them all together in one group with “their” war. 

Finally, I like to collect series. When you find a great book, it’s always nice to have book 2, 3, & 4! I keep my series together. Usually they deal with the same event, and are easy to find on the shelf. 

Sometimes the same publisher prints different people’s biographies. You may end up with ten biographies that all look similar on the spines. Since these are biographies I do separate them. 

And for the final tip about your library, I have found that when you remove a book, or let someone borrow a book, use a sticky note to write the book title, date, and person that borrowed it and place the sticky note where the book will be replaced. It works wonders to help keep your library organized!

Using living books has been a wonderful addition to my homeschool. I hope that you find as much fulfillment with them as I have. 

Due to my love for these types of stories, I will be posting living book reviews along with study guides and workbooks on this site. You don’t want to miss any of it! 

If you wish to subscribe to my newsletter, you’ll be the first to know when a new review and guide is being made available.

 I look forward to meeting you. Happy reading!

Homeschool Book Review of Abe Lincoln Gets His Chance

Abe Lincoln Gets His Chance. Free study guide and answer key
Click here to get your free workbook and answer key!

Abe Lincoln Gets His Chance was written by Frances Cavanah in 1959. 

This great book is currently free in Amazon’s kindle edition! Also, I have a corresponding workbook and answer key available for free!

This is a fictional story based on real facts about Lincoln’s life from the time he was born, until the time he was elected president.

Because of the larger vocabulary at times, I would recommend this book for a third grade reading level. 

What makes this book, a living book, in my opinion, is that there is plenty of conversation between characters, which really makes Lincoln’s life come to life, on each page.

Frances Cavanah has intertwined Lincoln’s thirst for knowledge and the way that he was able to learn independently, by reading books, very creatively in the story, and this is continually brought up. I think that this is a good reminder to children the importance of reading and continual learning.

“My best friend is a person who will give me a book I have not read.” – Abe Lincoln

The different settings of Lincoln’s life, while growing up, are very detailed, and gives the reader an excellent realization of how life really was back then. 

I would highly recommend this book. It keeps your interest, it grabs your attention from the very first chapter, and children will remember the facts and personal character traits of our fourteenth president, Abraham Lincoln. 

At the time of this review, Abe Lincoln Gets His Chance is free with Amazon’s kindle edition!

And don’t forget, if you would like to use the study guide workbook and have the answer key, they are free!

Download your free workbook and study guide for Abe Lincoln Gets His Chance

How to Overcome the Worst Homeschooling Mistake in 2019

My husband and I walked into Jill’s home. We had an appointment with her and her husband to discuss homeschooling. John and I wanted to learn more, and see what the homeschooling life was really like.

Jill was the first person I ever knew that was homeschooling her kids. I met her when I was about twelve, and when I found out she taught her kids at home, I instantly fell in love with the idea, and knew, at that very moment, that I was going to homeschool my kids too.

When we walked in, the first thing I noticed was that she and her children were talking to each other in French.

She told me that they were all learning French together. I thought that was really cool and neat, that the whole family would learn a new language together.

As she and her husband talked with John and I, she told us about how they all built this gigantic t-pee out in the backyard when they were studying Indians.

The projects that her family completed were very inspiring to me. I wanted to do those cool things too.

I wanted my homeschool to be fun and memorable like that too.

When I actually started homeschooling, Zachery had trouble. He had speech difficulties, and he wasn’t able to read well. Math was extremely difficult for him, even though he wanted to learn and do well for me.

During our school days, by the time we got finished our “necessary” work, we were both tired and we each wanted to go do our own things.

We never did build a t-pee in the backyard, and our family never learned French together.
Without even knowing it, I had fallen into a comparison pothole, and my pothole was a biggie.
I knew I wanted our schooling to be fun, but there was no way that I could do big projects, like Jill’s family had done.

I had to give myself permission to say that our homeschooling was just fine. If Zachery and I had to move at a slower pace, and only got done the “necessary” work, then that was ok.

Instead of relying on hands-on projects to make our schooling fun, I found that the best thing I could do for my children was to read to them.

I scoured the internet for book lists that were kid favorites. We went often to the library. I read books and stories before bedtime, and I always read in the car.

I realized that through these stories, my kids’ imaginations were making these experiences come to life. Historical events and science inventors’ lives were coming alive and my kids were learning in a fun way. It worked for us.

And now, I know that I should have never felt like a failure. I should have never felt like I wasn’t doing enough.

If I had to do it all over again, what would I do differently?

#1: Pray. God is there to help you. He has given you your child to take care of and to teach about Him. He will never leave you nor forsake you. He can hear you and He cares about your difficulties.

#2: Dwell on the positive. Think or write down all of the positive things you can think of about what and how your kids’ are learning?
Are your kids kind?
Have they been taught to behave in public?
Are your kids improving in the “necessary” subjects?
Are your kids obedient?
Do they think of others’ needs?
Do they love God?
There’s a lot of avenues you can go down with this, but if you are teaching them how to live,especially for God, then you are doing wonderful work.

#3: Record your kids doing some school work. Have them read a story, play an instrument, do math drills in front of a video camera. In a month’s time, have them do it again. You and your kids will see a difference. It’s a great way to monitor how much your kids are learning and how much they change!

#4: Be real with yourself on what you can accomplish. If you really have it in your heart to build that t-pee in the backyard, and you also have 12 more big ideas you want to do, think about your schedule, your strength, and your ambition. If it would be easier for your family to just build that t-pee at the end of the school year for an end-of-the-year fun finale, then just plan it then. If you can’t do a big project everyday, it’s ok. Your kids will grow up to be competent adults, I promise.

#5: Contact me. I would feel honored if you e-mailed me, and let me know how things are going for you. I read all of my e-mails and will get back to you personally.