16+ Curriculum Options for High School


It’s hard to believe that High School, Round 2 is right around the corner. I’ve been considering what I want to do differently this time around and have been making a general plan for high school. I thought you might be interested in my thought process and what I’m looking at for homeschool curriculum for high school.

16  Curriculum Options for High School

photo credit FutUndBeidl on flickr

I’ve put together a general outline for how we’ll tackle high school for Josh and Megan so that I can make sure we cover everything we need to and get the right number of credit hours.

My rough plan (with credit hours needed in parentheses next to general subject and credits that will be earned next to subject title) looks something like this:

Grade English (4) Math (4) Science (3-4) History (3-4) Electives (5-6) Foreign Language (2)
9th Grammar/Comp (1) Algebra I (1) Biology (1) Ancient History (1) Health & P.E. (1)  | Entrepreneurship (1)
10th Word Lit/Comp (1) Algebra II (1) Astronomy (1) World History (1) Economics (1)  | Elective Spanish I (1)
11th American Lit/Comp (1) Geometry (1) Chemistry (1) Am. History (1) Govt./Civics (1) | Elective Spanish II (1)
12th Lit/Vocab for College (1) Pre-Calc (1) * Psychology (1) Speech (0.5) | Elective

Literature and composition classes

By Brianna’s junior year, we had worked out a pretty good system for literature – one that should feel pretty familiar to Josh and Megan after using Trail Guide to Learning. We incorporated literature with history. That worked really well for her and has been working great for Josh and Megan in middle school.

I plan to continue that by covering American literature alongside American history and world literature alongside world history by choosing books that fit the period in history being studied.

Lee Binz has a fantastic reading list for college bound students that I will use as my starting point when searching for books to use.

For the composition component, we’ll continue to work our way through WriteShop, fitting the assignments to other school topics as much as possible. Once we’ve finished with WriteShop, we’ll just continue to put what we’ve learned into practice with regular writing assignments across the curriculum.


As I mentioned in my REAL Science Odyssey review, I think I’m going to use Biology 2 for high school. We’re only a few chapters in, so it will take us most of the school year next year (Josh’s 9th grade year) to finish. Unless something else catches my eye between now and then, I plan to use Focus on High School Chemistry, the high school level chemistry text from Real Science 4 Kids.

With both of those options, I’m thinking that we’ll supplement with the Biology 101 and Chemistry 101 DVD sets. I’m also considering the Supercharged Science courses for some of our science. Has anyone used them yet?

For our third science course credit, I’m strongly leaning toward astronomy, but I haven’t decided on curriculum yet. Any suggestions?


We’re anxiously awaiting the first middle school book in the Trail Guide to Learning series. I may have to wait until the high school extension for it is ready since I’ll have at least one in high school when we go through it, or I may just try to beef it up myself. I’m also seriously looking at the Diana Waring history curriculum that I’ve only recently discovered. It sounds like a really good fit for us.

In addition, we’ll be using the Uncle Eric books where we can. We’ll definitely be using the World War I and World War II books as part of our world history study.

For American history, I’m leaning toward doing something a little different since we just spent the last three years or so going through American history. I’m thinking of doing a recap, which will include some American lit, and pulling in government and civics with Zeezok’s A Noble Experiment.


I have several things that I want to use to cover economics with the kids. I think we’ll use the following over the course of their high school years (not all at the same time):


We’ve been really pleased with the CurrClick Live Spanish class Brianna has been taking, so my plan is to have Josh and Megan take it in a couple of years. That way they can take it at the same time for high school foreign language credit. This has several advantages. For one, they can practice with each other, which always makes learning a foreign language easier. For another, unless something changes between now and then, they can both take the class at the same time at the family rate, which is a nice savings.

I also really want to do a psychology class with them. That’s something that I never even thought about with Brianna, but I really enjoyed my high school psychology class – so much so that the kids know all about Pavlov’s dog since I’ve mentioned it, then, had to explain it a few times. I’ve also explained the id, ego, and superego on more than one occasion and I still use the term “anal-retentive” from my high school psych days. I want other people in the house to know what I’m talking about.

I’m looking at Intro to Psychology from a Christian Perspective or Psychology: A Christian Perspective. Have you had any experience with either? Any recommendations?

Health and P.E.

I’m trying to decide what to do for P.E. It was easy with Brianna – she was on a volleyball team. Megan is doing gymnastics right now, but I don’t know if she still will be in high school, and Josh isn’t into sports at all. Megan does want to start running and, since I want to build back up, now is the perfect time to start with her. The only problem is, she wants to run in the afternoons, while I prefer mornings. If I could get her started, though, that would be great for P.E. credit. We could even do some 5Ks together.

For health, I really want to go through Nutrition 101 with them. We started it several years ago, but, because it was an eBook, we got off track after awhile. Now that I’ve got an iPad, it would be much easier to deal with the eBook format. I really loved the book and I think they might appreciate more now that they’re older.

Those are the things I’ve got in mind, as of right now, for our high school curriculum and coursework. I’ll narrow it down and share our plans for 9th grade later this summer.

What are you going to be using for high school? I’d love suggestions of great curriculum you’ve found or are considering.


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Weekly Wrap-Up: The Spring Break Edition


Happy Friday…I guess. The Friday at the end of spring break is never quite as happy as the Friday before. It has been an insanely busy week headed into what I fully expect will be two more insanely busy weeks. Still, it’s nice to have break weeks to take care of things like eye exams (check) and hair cuts (check). It has, however, been the sort of week that makes me wonder how we ever have clean laundry.

Other than eye exams and hair appointments, the most visibly productive thing I’ve done this week is order a new phone. My Droid, which I have loved, has not been wanting to play nicely lately. It hasn’t held a battery charge worth a flip and you should see some of the texts it has sent. It just randomly adds words and letters and sends the text before I can fix them. No joke. I can only imagine the utter confusion and helpless laughter of the recipients.

I was leaning toward an iPhone since high quality photos were a prime consideration for me. Hey, I’m a blogger. I just couldn’t bring myself to pay iPhone prices, though, and I do love the Android operating system, so I finally opted for a Samsung Galaxy 4S. It’s supposed to be here today, so that should give me the weekend to play.

I’ve also spent some time this week considering high school curriculum. I’ve got lots of ideas jotted down and I’ll be sharing them with you soon, in case you’re curious. Probably not until after these back-to-back travel weekends, though. I’m starting to break out in hives just thinking about that. (Not really.)


(Our school table midway through the day on an average day)

On a totally random note, I’ve been watching past seasons of Bones on DVD. You may recall that I discovered the show while I was at the hospital waiting for my niece to be born. The way I watch is a convoluted mess. I started at the beginning with Season 1 for my treadmill-walking viewing pleasure. Then, after we finished Castle, Brian wanted to start watching it with me. We started with Season 5 in our room since the earlier seasons are in my workout room.

That means that this week I have finished both Season 3 and Season 6. I watched the last episode of Season 3 just before Brian got home on Tuesday. I knew basically what was going to happen because I accidentally came across a spoiler online (grrrr!), but it still made me cry. Yes, really.

When Brian came home, I mentioned to him that Bones had made me cry. A few hours later, at supper, he looked at me kind of funny and asked why my nose had been red earlier. “Because Bones made me cry,” I said.

His reply, sounding rather surprised, was “You were serious about that?”

Um, yeah. I don’t know why, but I found the whole exchange terribly amusing. Not quite as amusing as this, though:

cat drinking out of bird bath

I don’t know what to think about a cat who insists on drinking out of a nasty bird bath even though she has a clean bowl of fresh water. Freak.

I guess those are the highlights from my not-so-interesting-but-very-busy week. Will I see any of you at Great Homeschool Conventions in Cincinnati next week? Stop by the Geography Matters booth and say hi if you’re there!

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REAL Science Odyssey Biology Level 2 Review


I received this product free for the purpose of reviewing it.  I received no other compensation for this review.  The opinions expressed in this review are my personal, honest opinions.  Your experience may vary. Please read my full disclosure policy for more details.

We used – and loved – REAL Science Odyssey from Pandia Press when my younger two kids were in elementary school. (You can read my reviews of Life and Earth and Space.) We loved the engaging lessons and hands-on labs. So, it makes sense that we would come back to the series for middle school.

REAL Science Odyssey Biology 2 Review

I get asked to do a lot of reviews on my blog, but this is one of those cases when I emailed the company and asked if they’d let me review their products again – and we were not disappointed. The REAL Science Odyssey Level 2, Biology, is just as engaging, just as well-written, and just as hands-on as its elementary-level predecessors.

How are REAL Science Biology lessons set up?

I really love the fact that the biology lessons are set up in predictable patterns. Y’all probably know by now that I am a creature of habit. Each lesson contains:

  • Read – This is the written text of the lesson, which introduces new concepts and expounds on those previously taught. This is designed so that most middle school students can read it independently. New vocabulary is printed in bold text and typically includes an explanation with the formal definition included in the glossary.
  • Explore – The explore section includes both general and microscope labs. The microscope labs are optional, but highly recommended. We love them! (Because everyone always asks, this is the microscope we use.)
  • Absorb – This section includes the Famous Science series and offers a chance for students to do some research on their own about topics related to that unit’s study. The topic will either be a famous scientist, pathogen, molecule, or discovery. The answers are not included in the student’s text, but are intended to be discovered through research. We have used the Internet for this.
  • Learn – Finally, each chapter ends with a Show What You Know section, which is a comprehension quiz over the topics studied in the chapter. I really, really like this because it offers a good opportunity to review, gives my kids some test-taking practice (which they haven’t had much before), and shows me what we may need to go over again.

The available texts for Biology 2 include the teacher’s manual, a student text, and extra student pages, which contains only the printable pages if you have more than one child using the text. Each is available in print and digital form. I appreciated the fact that the digital form includes rights to download it to each of your children’s computers, so all your kids can use the books without violating copyright.


I haven’t used the teacher’s manual much, but the times I’ve used it, I’ve been very glad to have it. It contains answer keys and lab notes (for those times when you’re not sure the lab turned out quite like it was supposed to). It also has a suggested weekly schedule for covering science 2, 3, or 5 days of the week.

Can REAL Science Biology 2 be used for high school?

One of the reasons I was really interested in checking out the Level 2 Biology text was that I had heard that it could be beefed up enough to use for high school science. In my opinion as a homeschool mom, not a science instructor, I think it could. It includes both general and microscope labs for each chapter. It even includes a couple of dissection labs.

Science Experiment 04.01.14

If I were using it for high school credit (and I’m leaning toward doing so), I’d want to add some more dissections, I think. I’m not sure what else I would adjust since we’re only into the second unit, but it might also work well alongside something like DVD lessons.

What were our thoughts about REAL Science Odyssey Biology Level 2?

As I said earlier, we are really, really enjoying this curriculum. It’s brought excitement back to our science lessons. The lessons are easy to understand without being “dumbed down.” The reading portion of the lessons is much longer than the Level 1 books, which is to be expected. It’s very appropriate for middle school students in length, subject matter, and reading level.


The labs are engaging and age-appropriate. The directions are given in numbered, step-by-step instructions so that students can do them with minimal supervision. The labs don’t shy away from math, but give kids real-life applications for all that math they’ve had to learn. (We haven’t gotten into anything too complicated, but that may be another reason this math-phobic mom is glad to have the teacher’s manual.)

The lab reports are laid out in such a way as to prepare students for high school and college level lab write-ups, with sections for:

  • hypothesis
  • procedure
  • observation
  • results and calculations
  • conclusion

I also like that the microscope view sheets have a graph-paper-like space for students to draw what they saw. The graph lines encourage students to attempt to draw to scale what they saw through the microscope lens. I think it encourages more detailed drawings than my kids might normally attempt.

We love the hands-on labs, such as building a cell model, though we opted for a  cake version, rather than the Plaster of Paris version in the text. What can I say? We each have a sweet tooth.


It’s worth noting that REAL Science Odyssey is a secular curriculum, so there is a unit on evolution. I know that will excite some of you and disappoint others. We are a Christian family, but I plan on covering the evolution unit because I think it’s important that my kids understand the Theory of Evolution and how it compares to our Ceationist beliefs, so the unit doesn’t bother me.

Finally, I want to be sure to point you to one of things I really love about all Pandia Press courses – their Try Before You Buy option. They allow you to download several week’s worth of the full curriculum at no charge – not just sample pages, but full lessons. If you like it, you just come back and pay to download the remainder. If not, you move on. That’s it. I love that!

We are so happy with our science choice for this year. I’ll be bringing you a review of Pandia Press’s history curriculum soon, so be on the lookout for that.

Have you used any curriculum from Pandia Press? What did you think?


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