Friday, April 27, 2018

Part 4: My Father's World and Sonlight.... Can't I Have Everything?

Sonlight Vs. My Father's World

Part 4

This is part of a 4 part series.

How I use My Father's World:

We use: the cores (this year Creation to Greeks and Kindergarten) as our overall guide, including the book basket.

We drop: the recommended math, art, or read alouds.

We tweak: We summarize the history and science readings (and sometimes skip altogether) and only choose the hands on activities that work best for our family. We enjoy listening to the cds in the van, cooking the suggested foods, and doing the occasional craft. Instead of everyone doing a timeline, we do one set in the Sonlight timeline book

How I use Sonlight:

We use: the read alouds, the timeline, and the history/reading/language arts for my oldest as his reading program

We drop: the recommended math, science, and Bible

We tweak: We listen to the verse cds in the van, but don't memorize the verses. We sometimes drop a book, or I'll stick it in the book basket for free reading. 

How I Mesh Sonlight and My Father's World Together:

As you can see, I love both My Father's World and Sonlight! Here's how our day currently runs using both My Father's World and Sonlight (Note I said CURRENT rhythm, things change all the time!)

-After breakfast and morning chores (around 9ish), we start with MFW Bible all together as a family. Sometimes I do this part DURING breakfast, and it is my ambition to start doing it the night before.

-After Bible the olders do "table time," which is phonics and math while I do K with the littles on the floor of the living room. We call this "circle time." Once we're done with circle time, the "official" Kindergartner moves to the table for written work while I check the work the olders have been doing and the others play with "school toys" (MFW preschool/preK toys). 

-Then (around 10ish) we move into the "other" subjects with MFW which are mostly "couch subjects:" history, science, music, art. I pick and choose at this part. I often will summarize a page or two of science or history into a couple of sentences, and we skip a lot of experiments and projects. I try to keep the most meaningful ones. For instance, I try to always to the meals/food. Errybody's gotta eat!

-Speaking of food, I nurse baby while reading in the above segment, and when that segment's over, it's usually around lunch time (12ish)! We do lunch and chores.

-After lunch (around 1ish), we snuggle up to read core A and the read aloud from D (if I run out of time,  my oldest will read his read aloud independently). 

-Around 2 nap time starts for the younger crew, and I direct the olders to do their reading. The 4th grader reads the Bible, history, and readers from D for his reading, and the 2nd grader is reading through Heart of Dakota's emerging readers. 

-Around 3, I go take a nap!! Woo-hoo!

-At 4 nap time's over, and so is school. But before bed we try to read a couple of the P3/4 books. 

Clay Daddy and Kids #2, #5, #4, #3, #1 2016 with SL P3/4

All the Clay Clan, Easter 2018

Does anyone else combine Sonlight and My Father's World? How do you do it?

Part 3: My Father's World and Sonlight.... Can't I Have Everything?

Sonlight Vs. My Father's World

Part 3

This is part of a 4 part series.

My Father's World:

Below I shall list my pros and cons for My Father's World. However, keep in mind that what for me is a con may be a pro for you. We are all different!

-Family Learning! There's so much I could say about this...
-All the wonderful books! People think Sonlight has a lot of books, but that's only because they haven't seen the book lists in the back of the MFW Teacher's Manuals. If you have a good library, MFW has MORE books than Sonlight!
-The history is chronological and Bible is woven in to each of the programs
-Art, music, science, and hands on projects are included
-The Teacher's Manuals that have taught me HOW to teach my children
-Their ministry to missionaries by providing discounts and sending a portion of proceeds to Bible translation 
-Less expensive than Sonlight
-Customer service is awesome

-Readers are not scheduled (I like them to be scheduled so I don't have to plan that part)
-In the lower levels the phonics is tied in to the program, which makes it difficult if you prefer a different phonics program. 
-Some of the history books have been a bit dry and there's not nearly as much great fiction as with Sonlight

Could be Pro or a Con:
-You have to use the library. This is a pro because it is less expensive, but it is a con because you have to go to the library every week (and it is a challenge if your library isn't well-stocked)
-The hands on part is generally a pro, but sometimes I'm in a season where I'm tired and I can't do much, and it makes me feel guilty to skip things
-The student sheets. It's nice to have a notebook to remember things your children have learned, but then again you have a notebook (or five) from each year to keep up with and feel guilty about tossing. Also at about $20 per child the student sheets can get pricey, especially since in some levels you still have to make up some of your own student sheets (or skip that part, like I do!). 
-The early phonics programs: I LOVE the K program. It is a simple but thorough program that can serve as a preK program. However, I pretty much hate the 1st grade program (sorry you lovers of 1st). It moves too fast and it can be confusing the way they present the material (with two very different learners I ended up supplementing with ABeka because 1st was so confusing).

To learn more about My Father's World, click HERE.

My Father's World Kindergarten

Have you used My Father's World? What do you think of their program?

Part 2: My Father's World and Sonlight.... Can't I Have Everything?

Sonlight Vs. My Father's World

Part 2

This is part of a 4 part series.


Below I shall list my pros and cons for Sonlight. However, keep in mind that what for me is a con may be a pro for you. We are all different!

-All the wonderful books! Seriously, I love almost all of them (!), aside from about 1-3 in each core. 
-The rich discussion questions and vocabulary in the IGs
-Their ministry to missionaries by providing a huge discount and sending a portion of proceeds to various ministries
-The books. I know I already said this, but these books are ones that I read over for my own pleasure, that make me think and laugh and cry. 
-Customer service is awesome
-Their Love to Learn Guarantee (return within a year for a full refund; see more details on their website)

-The cost is sometimes prohibitive (unless you purchase used!)
-The inability to group children together unless they are very close in age
-The Bible seems a bit tacked on. It's a good reading plan, but it is not linked at all to the history or read alouds and there are no notes for discussion. 
-Not many hands on activities (but they're working on it to add lapbooks and crafts to some levels)

Could be Pro or a Con:
-The books. Some people don't like them for various reasons. (See THIS article)
-Read alouds are great for snuggling, but you may get a sore throat
-The books may be expensive, but they are a great non-consumable investment with a great resale value
-There aren't many hands on projects, but for me that means no guilt over things left undone.

To learn more about Sonlight, click HERE.

Clay Girl #2, 2013 with MFW K

Have you used Sonlight? What do you think of their program?

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Part 1: My Father's World and Sonlight.... Can't I Have Everything?

Sonlight Vs. My Father's World

Part 1

This is part of a 4 part series.

My Story:

I'm a bookworm, so when my mom started using Sonlight in 2003 with my younger siblings, right after I graduated from high school, I was intrigued. I was jealous, too. How come they got to read "real" books for school when I had to read from textbooks? I knew that some day when I grew up and got married, I wanted to foster a love of learning in my children. I tucked Sonlight away in my mind for the future. 

Clay Children #1, #3, #4, #2, 2016 with MFW 1st

When my first child was yet a wee bairn, I started researching homeschool curricula. I loved the look of Sonlight (SL), and yet I learned of a newer curriculum: My Father's World (MFW). I fell in love with their family cycle and the idea of teaching all my children together. So in 2012, when my son turned 3, I started using My Father's World preschool (at that time it was only the learning toys) alongside Sonlight P3/4. We read good stories and played with toys. It was a good year!

Clay Kids #5, #1, #4, #2, #3 2016 with Sonlight Box day (used)

In 2013, my oldest was 4 and my second oldest was 2. I decided to go with MFW Kindergarten and SL A. Every morning we did Kindergarten for an hour, and every evening we'd snuggle and read with Sonlight. That year we had our 3rd child. 

Clay Boy #1, 2013 with MFW K

In 2014, my son was 5 and we moved on to MFW 1st and Sonlight P4/5... It was a rough year with baby #4 being born, and I ended up returning P4/5 because we didn't have time for it. 

In 2015 we did MFW Adventures for 1st grade and preK. Another successful year! That year we didn't even look at Sonlight. There were so many great books with Adventures, and besides I had four children 6 and under and I was expecting #5!

My Father's World Adventures

Clay Kids #3, #4, 2016 with Sonlight B

In 2016 I decided to go with Sonlight instead of My Father's World. I purchased core B and P4/5, but after a few weeks into it I realized it wasn't for us. We switched to Heart of Dakota for a few weeks before that one flopped as well. And then we tried Biblioplan (I have met the author, she's so sweet!). And then we tried plain old Story of the World. None of those seemed to "fit" just right. I didn't realize until later that I was struggling through post-partum depression, and so I was changing things up just trying to make myself happy and nothing worked. (But God brought so much healing, something I ought to share about in another blog post!) In the end we just did language arts and math and read through B in a haphazard way. 

Clay Girl #3 2016 with Sonlight P4/5

In 2017 we had 5 children 8 and under with baby #6 on the way. I purchased C and pulled 4/5 off the shelf, but it still didn't flow well for us. In the end we went with My Father's World Exploring Countries and Cultures for all, C for readers for the oldest, 4/5 for read alouds, and MFW preschool, and it was an awesome year! 

Clay Kids #4, #5, #3 2018 with MFW Preschool

Clay Girls #2, #5 2017 with a 1st grade reader

This year (2018; we start our school year early) Sonlight D was calling my name, and so I purchased the full set and planned to use it alongside A and 3/4 for the youngers. 

It was a no-go... after a few weeks in, we started to REALLY miss the togetherness that MFW provides! 

And so we are doing MFW Creation to Greeks (4th and 2nd) and MFW Kindergarten (K and preK) alongside Heart of Dakota Emerging Readers (2nd) and Sonlight D (4th; as readers), A (2nd and K; read alouds), and P3/4 (preschool; read alouds). 

My Father's World Creation to Greeks

What has your homeschool journey looked like so far?

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Book Review: Zen Camera

I got this book by mistake when I accidentally clicked the wrong link. I was hoping the book would be filled with gorgeous photos, but perhaps I just don't understand "zen" photography, because I found the photos to be rather boring. The text is filled with lingo that I imagine only a photographer would understand. 

Unfortunately, this is the worst review I've ever written. Not because the book is bad, but rather because I am an unartistic, un-zen-ful non-photographer. 

I received this book by Blogging for books in exchange for this review. 

Curriculum Review: The Good and the Beautiful

This past year, I was given the opportunity to review The Good and the Beautiful curriculum. The curriculum looked solid, but as the author, Jenny Phillips, is Mormon, I had some concerns about differences in worldview. I emailed with a list of questions about the curriculum and the Jenny wrote back personally. She offered to send me the curriculum to try out for myself. 

Here's what I tried:

Language Arts and Literature: PreK, K, and 3rd


Pros: The materials are so pretty! There are many sweet little games to teach letters. 
Cons: I didn't care for cutting out all the pieces. In fact, my sweet preschooler saw me cut things out and decided to help. She destroyed a couple of my favorite games. :( 


I did not get a chance to use this program, as I gave it away to someone who needed it more than I. However, it looks like a solid phonics program and it is printed beautifully, just like PreK. 

3rd grade:

Pros: This level includes so many things... grammar, reading, writing, art appreciation, spelling, vocabulary, geography, and more! Also, this level (along with levels 1-5) are offered free as online downloads!
Cons: The program was too teacher intensive for our family. I did not like the organization of the program, it jumped around too much from topic to topic. There was a required book to purchase that wasn't mentioned until I had gotten a few weeks into the program. There was SO MUCH in the program that it left me overwhelmed, but perhaps I was moving through it too quickly. 

 Handwriting: Levels 2 and 4

Pros: We love these handwriting books! They are practical, pretty, and fun! Both levels contain art "extras," like mazes, coloring, and drawing. My children have become quite the artists!

Cons: It's hard to think of one, except I wish there were some longer passages to work on, especially in the upper level

Year 1 History

The Good and the Beautiful History is a 4 year schedule. Each year you go all the way through history, but touching different topics each time. You can find a detailed outline of how this works HERE

There are several elements to the history program. 

-Course Book: This is the teacher's guide. Here you will find daily readings, questions, pictures, and instructions for the other parts of the program. 
-PDF Student Explorers: This is a lovely set of printables in 4 levels. There are maps, coloring sheets, research assignments, and other activities. 
-The Big Book of History Stories: Beautiful 204 page story book with maps and lovely illustrations
-Keys of History Board Game: A game for the whole family to review history
-Dramatized audio recordings: Two children listen as their uncle tells stories from history

Pros: Very good quality materials. The history portion is interesting, the student explorers sheets are excellent, and even I enjoyed listening to the audio recordings. My husband and I agree that the board game is FUN!
Cons: I just have a hard time getting into the 4 year rotation of topics. I prefer a chronological approach. But that's just my opinion. 


The Good and the Beautiful science is comprised of unit studies. You can go through them as fast or as slow as you like. We tried Arthropods and Meteorology. 

Pros: Once again, the materials are gorgeous and interesting. The activities are simple and fun. 
Cons: I can't think of any. We dropped the science program because I had overplanned my school year and was trying to do two science programs (a mistake on my part!). 

We have also been using the nature notebooks. 

Pros: These are excellent if you don't know how to "do" nature walks! My kids have drawn pictures and written summaries to describe nature, gone on leaf hunts, done bark rubbings, and more!
Cons: None

 As far as that worldview I was concerned about, the only issue I had was the occasional moralizing. Such as, "Christ taught us to be kind to others, to seek learning, to be respectful, to be clean, and to be organized." I am wary of anything that teaches my children that they have to work to become better people. The most important thing about Christ's work is that it is finished; there is nothing we can DO to add to it. We believe; and He lends us the strength to obey.

Although I have some differences of opinion on the worldview and the structure of some of the lessons, overall I am pleased with The Good and the Beautiful curriculum as a beautiful, well done, well organized program. I am deeply indebted to Jenny Phillips for providing curriculum for our family. It has been a huge blessing!

That being said, we will not be continuing with the Good and the Beautiful curriculum for the upcoming year. As stated above, I prefer a chronological approach to history, I was overwhelmed by the language arts, and we need more practice for handwriting. We will be going with My Father's World in the upcoming year, and Cheerful Cursive for handwriting and Sonlight for literature. We WILL continue to utilize the nature notebook though, along with our My Father's World program, and the board game will be fun to play to supplement our history study.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Book Review: Daring to Hope

Last year, I read a great book called Kisses for Katie, about an 18 year old girl who moved to Uganda and, by the time she was 23, had adopted 13 girls. I was moved and challenged by that book, and so I was thrilled to be able to review her second book, Daring to Hope.

Whereas the first book told the story of how she arrived at Uganda and how she ended up adopting all her daughters, this book tells of what her life was like after all the excitement settled down. She began to face many difficult things, encountering illness and death and loss, which is why the subtitle of this book is "Finding God's Goodness in the Broken and the Beautiful."

Reflecting on these challenges, Katie writes, "And I did not know that in the middle of much pain and grief and loss, I would experience a joy and a peace that far surpassed human understanding... The Lord would take the darkness and make it my secret place, the place where I knew Him more intimately and deeply than I had ever fathomed possible. In the middle of the hurricane that surrounded me, I would experience a true Comfort so deep, so clear, that it simply could not be denied. It was Jesus. He was near... No, He didn't make the pain easy. But He made it beautiful."

Katie's writing, once again, challenges and inspires me. I see myself in her words, as I wrestle with many of the same things. For instance, later in the book, as she is helping an addict, she is struck by a realization of her own insufficiency as God brings conviction to her heart: "I am the addict and doubt is my drug, this ugly lack of trust, the place I turn when I am weak. It is my lifelong Jacob wrestle, my unwillingness to lay a dear one on the altar and trust that the Lord will provide." Through her beautiful illustrations and openness in sharing her struggles, Katie continually points the reader to the Answer to our problems, the Source of our joy. I look forward to watching what God has for her future.

You may learn more about the author HERE.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.