Jury Duty, Civics, and American Government

Talk about going down the rabbit hole!  Today I had Jury Duty.  That great institution where we drive into the metropolis, to sit in a room with a couple hundred strangers and await our fate.  We hold our breaths as they call out a range of numbers, feeling both relieved it’s not ours, and commiserate those that get called.  As my #1 son is about to take American Government as dual credit, and I was researching reading material to add to his experience, I figured this was the best opportunity to really dive into Civics, American Government and our Judicial system.

20180710_172448000_iOSFirst, every citizen has the right and responsibility to serve as a juror in our courts.  It’s not the most convenient, to be taken away from our work and family to serve, but as voters, it is definitely our responsibility to provide our fellow citizens a trial by a jury of their peers.

So as a homeschool mom, what does it mean for my family?  In the state of Texas, the law requires we teach Civics in our homeschool.  In general, when asked, I usually recommend teaching our American History to start.  In most curricula, a study of our history will include a cursory mention of our founding documents and our government. In the younger ages, this is crucial to understanding certain vocabulary so that it is not so foreign as they progress through their education.

To assist us, there are a couple of resources for the younger ages, and available curricula. (For Full Disclosure, by clicking on links, I may receive compensation either through affiliate marketing, or purchases through my business site, HERDistribution.com.  These have been marked with #ad to be identifiable.)

  1. For downloadables, my favorite place is Currclick.com (#ad link searching “civics”).  KnowlegeBox and A Journey Through Learning, and a variety of others have placed their ebooks on Currclick for purchase and printing.  The list can be narrowed by age group, publisher, and sorted by price.
  2. For history, Notgrass has become my favorite publisher by far.  The quality and design of their texts is fantastic, and their literature bundle choices are excellent.
    • For middle grades, Uncle Sam and You (#ad) is written specifically to introduce students to American government and citizenship.  The material is divided into units, with lesson reviews, activities and reading suggestions.  I recommend for the 5th/6th grade with supervision and the student workbook.  I recommend independent study for the 7th/8th grade student.
    • *NEW* for elementary grades, Our Star Spangled Story (purchase from Notgrass) is now available for pre-order to be released in August.
  3. The Land of Fair Play from Christian Liberty Press is an excellent (economical) resource that teaches Civics.  The CLP website includes this text in their 8th grade set.  However, with supervision, this would be a fair text for middle grades, and could be completed in one semester.  Combined with field trips and activities, this text could be used for two semesters.

For high school, the civics and American government curricula should be in-depth.  With dual credit, it’s also an opportunity to provide a conservative discussion on the history and actions of our government and judicial system.

  1. Again, Notgrass would be my top choice for an extensive study on American Government.  The unit study design of Exploring American Government (#ad) is perfect for any at-home study, and can be used independently by the student.  The set is designed to be completed in one semester, followed by the Exploring Economics (#ad) in the next semester.
  2. Sonlight is also another favorite.  As some of you may know, my #1 son is an avid reader, so I have used the Sonlight list to supplement his education.  In 2017, we completed the Modern World History 300 series.  The 600 series represents with American Government/Civics study for Sonlight.  Over the years, the reading list has changed.  When they do this, I have to carefully consider which books we want to include with our studies, or if we’re going to use the new Instructor’s Guide.  At this level, the student should be completing the work independently, so you need to consider your student’s learning style to determine if you need the formal schedule, or if a basic numbering system may work.
  3. Another great system of books is from Uncle Eric Book from Bluestocking Press.  I’ve inserted a picture for reference, but you can start as instructed with the Uncle Eric Model. UncleEricseriesofbooks

These two books,Whatever Happened to Penny Candy? and Whatever Happened to Justice? provide the overall model of how human civilization works, especially the world of money.

Once the model is understood, read Are You a Liberal? Conservative? or Confused? This book explains political philosophies relative to Uncle Eric’s Model – and makes a strong case for consistency to that model, no exception.                                  ~Bluestockingpress.com


This is the question I receive most often.  As I am in the finalize stage of planning, I am poring over book choices for my senior #1 Son.  As he will be taking American Government as dual credit at the local community college, I wanted to take the opportunity to provide some more conservative reading choices.  Another aspect I need to consider for this next semester, is that he has multiple classes, and will need a dedicated schedule to keep him on track.  Sonlight is still the best option for scheduling, but the current lists are not my favorite.

If you’re unsure where to start, message me.  I will be happy to help.  So while I decide for my student, I will include pictures and links for your perusal!  Enjoy!  (These are Amazon Ads, so just know if you click through and make purchases, they help to support my book habit!  And I thank you for that!)

The following list has 8 titles, if you cannot see them all, please message me!  As I work in a homeschool bookstore, we also have many of these titles.  Please message me if you would like to check inventory!  I am here to help!

And thanks for visiting!


I call a “Do-Over”!

It’s August of 2017.  My oldest is a Junior in High School now, and my youngest is a Seventh grader!  Where has the time gone?  There are still so many things I want to do with them!

My kids have their own individual learning styles and personalities, and they are not in to doing the same things that I am!  (Strange, I know).  For example, the Summer Olympics in London did not go well for me.  I found this great downloadable Olympics LapBook.  I loved putting it together!  London history, history of the Olympics, tons of places to keep track of the Gold Medals.  My kids would not even look at it.  I was so sad.

As a bookstore manager for homeschool materials, I come across many, many, MANY books.  And I have to admit, I have used my kids as Guinea pigs to try out a variety of them.  It’s a great way to determine how much time and energy is needed, and how much interest there is in the material.  LapBooks may be fun for me, but my kids just don’t get into it.  (One of these days I will tell you about my World History timeline book.)

 My DO-OVER this time is all about studying classical music and the master composers.  10 years ago, when we first opened the bookstore, I started David Quine’s  Music and Moments (cornerstonecurriculum.com) with my nieces, nephews and children as a class for the teachers kids.  I recently came across the bin that still held the curriculum, CD’s and the kids folders.  Their personalities shining through!  Unfortunately, the bookstore became busier than expected and we never finished the curriculum.  At the same time, at the bookstore recently, I came across Amy Pak’s (Homeschool in the Woods) Composers LapBook.  Again, I cried, “I need a DO-OVER!”  My kids will never go for it of course, so maybe I will do it for myself.

So if you’re reading this, and you’re wondering what to do with your kids this year for Art, might I recommend studying the Masters.

  1. First, choose a curriculum as a guide:
    • Music and Moments with the Masters is an excellent curriculum to guide you through studying the masters in-depth.  It’s divided into four (4) years, but obviously you can make it your own.
    • Beautiful Feet’s The History of Classical Music for Intermediate Grades.  This is a one (1) year study using a variety of resources (ie. The Story of the Orchestra, Spiritual Lives of the Great Composers) and literature (ie. Dance Me a Story, The Farewell Symphony, A Coloring Book of Great Composers by Bellerophon) in 75 lessons.
  2. The fun part is the supplements!
    • I love the printables in Amy Pak’s Composers Hands-On History Activity-Paks.  So many activities to create a card game, symphony page, and timeline.  I’m in love with the visuals!
    • Dover Coloring Book series: “Great Composers” and “Musical Instruments”.
    • Color the Classics – Composers Series by Carmen Ziarkowski.  This series has a variety of pages to color for each Composer or Hymn Writer.  It is a 2 piece set that comes with a sample of the Composers music.  Inside the front cover, a School Year Plan is provided if you wish to use this series as the curriculum.
    • For a variety of downloadable material by composer, see currclick.com
  3. Need to step it up for various ages?
    • The Gift of Music by Jane Stuart Smith and Betty Carlson – RA: all ages; IR: 7th+.  A very thorough book on the lives of the composers with suggested readings and musical selections.
    • Getting a Handel on Messiah by David W. Barber – RA: all ages; IR: 7th+  David Barber has a few titles to recommend regarding music history, such as If It Ain’t Baroque….  They are conversationally written, and can add to any music curriculum.
    • McGraw-Hill’s The World of Composers series – RA: all ages; IR: 4th+.  Many of these can be found at the library.

Don’t forget to check out the CD pack from Cornerstone Curriculum, or search them out on iTunes and Amazon music.  If you can only choose one, I highly recommend “Peter and the Wolf”.  Beautiful Feet recommends “The Music Masters” 18 CD collection.

Shopping Recommendations:

  • Shop Local! – As a bookstore manager myself, I highly recommend shopping your local homeschool resource store.  They work really hard to be there for their homeschool families! If you have trouble finding one in your area, let me know!
  • Shop the publishers directly!  These publishers put much energy into creating great homeschool resources,  so I recommend shopping their web-sites:
  • For the out-of-print, and hard to find pieces, I’m including Amazon pictures and linksBy clicking links into Amazon Marketplace, I do earn a small commission based on your purchase.  It doesn’t change the listed price, it just supports my glorious book addiction.


Thanks for visiting! Leave me a comment or question!