Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Mystery of History and Sonlight Combined

I'm often asked how I used The Mystery of History and Sonlight together, what additional books I've used and so on, so I thought I'd post a list today.  This post covers MOH 1 and 2 with SL B and C, and also MOH 1 and 2 with SL G and H.  Scroll to the heading you are interested in.  You might also want to see my posts on MOH 3 with Sonlight H, and MOH 2 and 3 for High School.

MOH 1 with Sonlight 1 (B):  I actually did Core 1 (now called B) over 2 years with MOH 1, when my kids were 2nd-K, 3rd-1st grades.  (Note, I didn't have to take 2 years to use MOH with Sonlight 1, I chose to because I was letting my youngest get a bit older to be in the recommended age ranges for Sonlight).  It was a lot of fun to be able to add in extra projects, books, field trips,and nature walks in those early years, plus doing the core over 2 years helped me get to the point where both of my kids were in the age ranges that Sonlight suggests.  I used MOH 1 in place of the scheduled spine, CHOW (Child's History of the World).  We also dropped the Usborne spine as my kids didn't particularly care for it that year.  I used all of the other Sonlight books, plus added in some favorites from childhood, not to "line up, " but just to enjoy.  We sometimes alternated history and science days in order to stretch things out too.

MOH 2 with Sonlight 2 (C):  The next year I used MOH 2 with Sonlight 2 (C).  I planned to do MOH 2 in about 22 weeks, and then finish the year with CHOW.  (At this point in time, MOH 2 was the highest level out; plus I'm not sure I would use MOH 3 with this age group, though 2 worked out ok here).  This turned out to be an overwhelming year for several reasons:
  1. Now that my kids were 2nd and 4th grades, I took this opportunity to do a core in 1 year--faster pace meant everything was more challenging
  2. In this core, Sonlight incorporates an additional topic, Geography, with the Window to the World book.  Beautiful book, but additional reading time.
  3. Instead of doing MOH as scheduled (3 lessons per week), I was trying to squeeze in 5 lessons per week in order to be able to finish out the year with CHOW.  This felt like a break-neck pace because of all the topics that MOH covers.  I decided then that I would only follow the MOH pacing if I chose to use MOH again.
MOH 1 with 1/2 Sonlight 6 (G):  Last year I used this with both of my kids.  It was perfect for my then 6th grader and created an enjoyment of history for her for the first time (she loves Sonlight's readers and read-alouds but history has never been a favorite subject for her).  Unfortunately my 8th grader who LOVES history was bored; he remembered much of MOH 1 from doing it 5 years previously, plus he's well-versed in the Bible and much of MOH 1 is Bible Stories.  For my daughter this created familiarity, confidence, trust, and additional "hooks" for her to organize what she knew. 

Because of my previous experience, I decided we'd follow the "MOH" timeline, and take a full year for each MOH book.  This meant using only half of a core from Sonlight...and needing to fill in with other books.  I used Winter Promise and Illuminations for more book ideas.  Here's what we used  (Note:  The number before each book refers to the approximate week I expected to start reading the book.  I also kept a list of "alternates" on hand in case we got ahead of schedule.  I did not see or copy Sonlight's scheduling in any way--if I happen to use a book the same week they did, it's purely by accident!  One more Note: originally I intended to do a combo of Sonlight cores G, H, 100, and 200 so there are a few higher level books in this lineup. I also included a few lower level books I had on hand for my daughter who might not remember them):

History Resources:
Mystery of History 1
Usborne Encyclopedia of the Ancient World (This is a wonderful book, great illustrations, set up in 2-page spreads on a topic rather than lots of little pictures with blurbs.  I've heard there is another book with a similar title--this is the one for older kids, not the younger version).

Cleopatra (Stanley)
Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
Augustus Caesar’s World
Tut’s Mummy Lost and Found
The Trojan Horse
Famous Men of Greece
The Challenge Cards from Illuminations
Diana Waring Ancient History CD's (liked the info but struggled at times with the presentation).
Truthquest Egypt and Greece--tried mixing these in, but eventually dropped near the end of Greece.

Read Alouds 
1 – Mara, Daughter of the Nile
4 – Golden Goblet
6 – Phantom Tollbooth
9 – Trojan War
12 – Adara
15 – God King
18 – A Christmas Carol
19 – Swiss Family Robinson
22 – Treasure Island
24 – Bronze Bow
27 – Victory on the Walls
29 – Ben Hur
33 – Twice Freed
35 – Beyond the Desert Gate

Best of Father Brown
Bartholomew’s Passage (Advent book)

1 – From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
1 – Rascal (dd only)
3 – The Epic of Gilgamesh
3 – Banner in the Sky (ds only)
6 – Tirzah
9 – Hittite Warrior
12 – Greek Myths
15 – Theras and His Town
17 – Best Christmas Pageant Ever
18 – Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh
21 – Detectives in Togas
24 – Mystery of the Roman Ransom
27 – Archimedes and the Door of Science
30 – Ides of April
33 – Dear Mr. Henshaw
35 – Free Reading (oldest read Gammage Cup from Core 200)

Aesop’s Fables (wk 20)
Mary Jones and Her Bible (dd only)
Maniac Magee (ds only)
Kildee House (dd only--love this book!)

Bible:  I like Bible to have some tie-ins with history, and I also like to try to include something from the major categories of history, prophecy, Gospels, letters, and wisdom literature, though I might not do all categories every year.  When there is a history tie-in, I focus on that instead.  Here's the mix we did this year:
1-Genesis (50)
11-Exodus (40)
19-Deuteronomy (34)
27-Joshua (24)
32-Zephaniah (3)
32-Habakkuk (3)
33-Mark (16)

MOH 2 with 1/2 Core 6 (G):  This year I am continuing the MOH/Sonlight combo with dd, while ds has branched off on his own to do Sonlight 100 for his 9th grade year.  Great match for both kids!  Although I miss having us all together on one topic.  Next year we'll have that somewhat as I'll have DS do an overview of world history, AD times, to fill in what he missed before he does Core 300 his junior year.  This year I've read a few Core 100 books as read-alouds, as we read together before bedtime still, and I wanted to tie in to both histories, though mostly I do books to go with MOH 2.  I'll put asterisks by the US history read-alouds that we did.  My daughter is really getting into history, she takes notes as I read (or writes summaries if she reads it on her own--she prefers I read to her though, and we enjoy this time together).  This year we've used:

History Resources:
How the Bible Came to Us
Joan of Arc
World of Columbus and Sons
The Kingdom Strikes Back
Bard of Avon
Cathedral Stained Glass Coloring Book
History of the World DK Encyclopedia (MFW--ok, dd didn't love it)
Famous Men of Rome
Famous Men of the Middle Ages
Bach – His Story & Music CD
Vivaldi/Corelli – Their Story & Music CD

1 – Beyond the Desert Gate AD 70
3 – Masada, The Last Fortress, AD 72
6 – Eagle of the Ninth AD 119
9 – Augustine Came to Kent AD 354-430
11 – Flame over Tara AD 432
13 – Otto of the Silver Hand AD 600-800
15 – Beorn the Proud, 800’s
17 – Son of Charlemagne 800's
19 – Dragon and the Raven, AD 871-899
22 – Tom Sawyer*
25 – A Single Shard AD 1100
27 – They Loved to Laugh*
29 – Amon's Adventure
31 – Crispin, A Cross of Lead, AD 1300’s (after Plague)
33 – Christy*
Shakespeare Stories
Basket of Flowers

1 – Twice Freed, AD 50, 2 ch
3 – Pirates of Pompeii, AD 79,
5 – Black Horses for the King AD 400’s 10-15 pgs
9 – Great and Terrible Quest MA, 1 ch
11 – Adam of the Road, 1200’s, 2 ch
15 – Minstrel in the Tower
16 – Catherine Called Birdy, 1290, 15 pgs.
19 – A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver, 1200’s, 15 pgs
22 – Door in the Wall
23 – Beduin’s Gazelle, 1302, 2 ch.
25 – The Apprentice
26 – Joan of Arc (100 Years War)
27 – Leonardo da Vinci, 1452, 1 ch.
30 – The Second Mrs. Giaconda 1480
32 – Free Reading

(note:  The chapter markings after the above titles are my guesses as to how much my daughter might read in a day, so I could gauge if she was working ahead of what I planned or not.  She did read all of the alternates, plus one or two other books, and a few of the read-alouds--enabling me to work in some of the 100 books for my son--her reading really sped up this year!).

Viking Adventure
Castle Diary

1 Gospel
The rest of the New Testament

Hopefully this will be helpful as a starting point for others planning to use a literature approach alongside MOH.  I find it very helpful to have a general idea of the week I might start a book, so this approach is one that helped me plan out my year.  I got the dating of the books from the back covers or first few pages or author's notes of each book--not too difficult to find.  There are numerous other lists out there--check Paula's Archives, yahoo email loops for MOH by level--I used the MOH 1 yahoo loop when I was choosing for MOH 1.  MOH also includes some resources in the back.  Next year we'll do MOH 3 and SL 7 (H), I'll post a list when I figure that out!


  1. Thank you so much for this! I have been avoiding sitting down and doing this myself for weeks. Now I don't have to :).

  2. This is fantastic! I was just considering if there was a way to combine MoH 1 and SL's book lists, and I stumbled on your blog. This is perfect. I have used TQ up until this point with American History, but I'm interested in MoH for a number of reasons: 1. It's a spine, and I don't know much about history, so it's more of a road map and 2. a few friends are doing MoH, and it would be fun to do the activities together.

    However, I do love the literature approach to learning that TQ provides, and I knew I'd want more books than just what MoH offers.

    So... thank you! :)

  3. You're welcome! If you join the MOH email loop, there are tons of schedules in their files section too. I used TQ for a little bit last year (Egypt and Greece) to get a flavor of it, but ended up sticking with MOH/SL and dropping TQ. There are so many great programs out there, sometimes it's hard to choose!

  4. Thanks for posting this!! I have been struggling with what to do next year. I really want to like Sonlight, but I wanted something that integrated Bible and history. I was thinking of possibly combining the two. I have also been looking at My Father's World, but I have heard several say that it has gaps and is too light. I think it may be easier to use Sonlight along with MOH instead of adding to My Father's World.

  5. Merry, thank you so much for this plan, and for posting it on the SL forums. We will likely be following the same type of plan (MOH 1 with SL 6) in 2 years and I plan to bookmark your blog to come back to this.

  6. You're welcome, I'm glad it's helpful! :-)

  7. Merry, thank you for sharing details about how you combine MOH with SL! I am doing Core B and G next year and want to use MOH for both cores, combining read-alouds when I can. I'd rather not spread it out over two years, though... but don't mind not doing every resource or read-aloud - is this doable?

  8. It may be--it really depends on the child. For a Junior High Student, doing MOH 1 and 2 in a year may be doable, especially since a lot of MOH 1 consists of Bible stories he or she would be familiar with. For a 1st or 2nd grader, you may find it overwhelming to do 2 levels of MOH in a year. The time periods of B and G are not exactly analogous either. B goes to the fall of Rome while G goes to the 1600's. You can make it work, just know it's not an exact science, if you know what I mean!

    1. I ordered the audio of MOH 1, so we shall see! Thank you!

  9. Thank you for taking the time t write this post in detail. I have been struggling with combining the two and I am so glad to have found this. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  10. You're welcome! Hope this helps somewhat! I find most of the time when I am combining two programs, if I just do each as they are laid out instead of trying overly hard to line them up, they'll still reinforce each other and you'll still get the benefits of both without a lot of time spent. With literature, things never line up exactly anyway--you might read about several people/places/events in history over 2-3 weeks while you read one read-aloud--so it's really ok if it isn't a "perfect" line-up. You can relate the read-aloud or the history entry back to whatever reading you did before. Have fun with it! Merry :-)

  11. I have been thinking also of combining MOH w/ Sonlight for the Biblical integration and after a search, came upon your blog! Thank you for sharing how you did it! I've looked at MFW and TOG, but I'd rather do a Sonlight/MOH combo if possible. The one I'll do this with will be in 7th grade. I've thought of splitting MOH 1 between our Bible time and history time, and also trying to cover MOH 2. Would this be possible along with both SOTW 1 and 2, or is this completely unrealistic? Did you use SOTW or just replace it with MOH?

  12. I didn't use SOTW. I think if you want both, I'd consider getting an audio of one or the other for the kids to listen to. The MOH 1 readings are short, so if you are going to combine any 2 levels in 1 year, 1 and 2 would be easiest. For me, it more explains Bible than replaces it, but it could be a good supplement to your Bible time. However, doing just one level per year gives you more time to dig into some of these time periods. We did an extensive historical study on each of the early civilizations with MOH 1, and also spent a few days researching how the 10 plagues were targeted towards various Egyptian gods--things we might not have had time for with a faster pace. So, it just depends on what you want out of it. My oldest did 2 and 3 in a year for a high school world history, and it was doable--wish he could have done the slower pace though! Just how it worked out for him though. Have fun with it, I think however you combine MOH and Sonlight, you'll enjoy it. Merry :-)

  13. I want to do Core H with MOH 3. Does anyone have a schedule for that?

    1. Hi Mish, Here's a post I did on MOH 3 and Sonlight: http://hopeforhomeschool.blogspot.com/2013/01/sonlight-and-mystery-of-history-3.html

      We'll do the rest of H with MOH 4 when it's out. You might also look in the "files" section on the yahoo email loop. HTH some! Merry :-)

  14. So do you read aloud "Beyond the Desert gate" and read "Twice Freed" with MOH 2 chapter 1? and so on as listed. How is this coordinated with Sonlight? Is it the readers? Do you use any of the other Sonlight scheduled things. How does Sonlight fit in here. I'm trying to coordinate the 2013 Sonlight G with MOH 1 & 2, but having a little trouble as they use STOW as thier Spine so I was trying to coordinate it all and I think I am losing it. They go in sequential order with it and it doesn't match to MOH. I hope this makes sense. LOL

    1. Actually, the numbers I listed are the weeks when I planned to start reading each of the books. It's just a rough guide. It would be nearly impossible to read an entire chapter book with just one MOH lesson (you'd either read a lot in one day, or no MOH lessons for quite awhile!). Sonlight is scheduled similarly--a lesson will come up in history for a day or a few days before, during, or after a related read-aloud. This is the nature of doing a literature-based history--the spine and the read-aloud will review each other, depending on which one comes first.

      Personally, when I am using 2 different histories such as MOH and Sonlight, I find it easiest to just do each in order. The amount of work it takes to try to line them up exactly is rarely worth the little benefit you get from doing all that work. And sometimes, lining things up takes away from a program. For example, the benefit of MOH is it's strictly chronological nature, and the benefit of Sonlight is that it follows a culture chronologically, but then will go back to pick up another culture and follow it chronologically for awhile...you lose those benefits of each one if you try to change the order of one or the other. Instead, just use each in order, and when the topic comes up in one, say, "remember when we read ___ in such & such book?" by way of working in review. This way you are also teaching your children to think actively about what they learn, and to begin making connections and tying events together.

      I hope this helps! Merry :-)

    2. Thank you for answering so quickly. So when you say you are doing the mystery of history 2 and 1/2 sonlight G combo; which is where I am at. Do you just start with say Sonlight and the particular RA and Reader with the appropriate section (eg Medieval) and follow Sonlight schedule, then additionally read MOH 2 from beginning or appropriate starting point and follow it through? Do you just pick and choose the readers (from Sonlight or appropriate substitute) to match what your DD/DS will like. Do you use the G-instructors guide for questions to books or additional stuff on Sonlight schedule or do you pick and choose between the two. I guess I'm wondering why people buy the instructors guide, What do you use in it if different than my above questions about books, if you don't mind me asking so many questions. I have home schooled for a while but wanted to try Sonlight, not sure if I like it but want to...again, LOL. Thank you, Tina T.

    3. Hi Tina,

      I've done it both ways--I've used Sonlight and MOH with the Sonlight guide (did this with MOH 1 and 2), and I've used MOH and just selections of books from Sonlight (with selections from G, H, and upper cores, depending on where I was in MOH and how old my student was). So, this post's info with MOH 2 and Sonlight, I did not use the guide.

      Sonlight has a daily guide that you can follow, telling you what to do each day, but as I started using it, I found we'd be ahead in somethings and not as far along in others. Then I saw that they also have a one-page guide that lists all of the books used for the year, according to the week they were introduced. In some of the earlier cores, I started going by that. I only occasionally looked at the daily guide if I wanted a feel for how they scheduled a book. After awhile, I didn't even do that. After Core F, I decided I didn't need the SL guide, and went back to MOH and just used Sonlight for a booklist. I made up my own 1-page guide based on how I thought we would work through the books, and I kept an optional list in case we read faster than I expected. So...my method has evolved!

      I haven't used guides since Core F except for Core 100, so I can't speak to the ones for G & H. You can download a 3 week sample from SL. They have map work, vocabulary, writing prompts/LA, history questions, and so on. There LA doesn't work for us, and if you are using MOH, you don't need more map work, history writing/project ideas, or questions--you can use MOH for that. I am light on map work here and have my kids point out things on our wall map, but I did all of the quizzes/tests, and some of the activities in MOH. If I want a lit guide (which I mainly use in high school for harder books), I have used free ones online from Glencoe and SparkNotes. In the younger cores, when I had questions about books, I didn't like the lit guides--they never discussed the kinds of questions I was interested in discussing. I discuss vocabulary when I do read-alouds with my kids--I don't rely on a guide for that...and so on.

      So, I've gotten away from using them. Some people do really like them though--so I would download the samples and read through them, to see if you think it's something you would like and use. Once I stopped using the daily guide and was confident coming up with my own order of using books, I no longer needed the guides. HTH! Merry :-)

  15. Have you done MOH 3 with Sonlight yet? Thank you for posting this!!!

    1. Yes I have! Check out these two posts:



  16. Hi Merry,
    Are the History Resources you've listed here (besides MOH) found in the Sonlight IG schedule? If not, how do you schedule them? I was hoping to use the Sonlight IG as a crutch even though I would not be following it as written. I'm very weak at scheduling. Thanks for sharing this!

  17. Hi Joanne,

    Most but not all are Sonlight books. The number before the book indicates the week in which we started the book. For example:

    1 – Mara, Daughter of the Nile
    4 – Golden Goblet

    Means we started Mara in week 1 and Golden Goblet in week 4. (Sonlight actually schedules one of these as a reader, I forget which one--for my kids I felt it was better to do both as RA's.).

    My use of Sonlight transformed over the years. In the beginning I followed the daily schedule fairly closely, but sometimes we'd get ahead or behind in something or I'd want to read a book just for fun... Then one year I saw that Sonlight had a one page "weekly" schedule in addition to the daily one. The weekly schedule simply listed what week the book was first scheduled. I found that I really liked that flexibility. Most of the time, SL scheduled a chapter or two, or a section in a history spine, or 2-page spreads in the younger science books etc... It was pretty easy to guess how they would schedule most things on a daily basis. But sometimes we needed more time than they scheduled, or sometimes we wanted to read more--so having the weekly schedule allowed me to take things at our pace. It also made it easy, if we got behind, to drop a book by simply crossing it off our list, or even to add one in. I also liked being able to see the year at a glance, easily seeing what book was coming up next, and so on. So, I started following the 1-page SL guide instead of the daily one.

    Finally I just decided to make my own 1-page schedule--so the lists you see above are from my 1-page version. I actually never used the Sonlight IG for G and H, and I went more eclectic for high school. (I did use Core 100 mostly as is for one of my kids.)

    I "grew" into scheduling. I looked at how much time I wanted a subject to take. Then I looked at chapters or page numbers plus print size and guessed how much I thought we could do in that time. Once I knew how much I thought we'd read in a day--it was easy to guess how many weeks. I always put a few books on my "optional" list in case we needed more to do or I wanted to switch a book mid-year. Doing it this way, I never had to worry about scheduling "too much" or "too little" for a day. We went at our pace. I could still drop a subject for a day for field trips etc..., or make any adjustment I wanted to.

    I should do a blog post on this sometime! Anyway, HTH some as you consider what will help you. Those SL IG's helped me get a feel for things, and then gradually I branched out.

  18. Thank you for sharing your schedule!! I found this by searching for MOH or Sonlight!! LOL I am trying to decide if I want to continue Sonlight as is, or use MOH and add in my own readers and read alouds. I am a box checker, and I am trying to move away from that! I had considered using Illuminations, but just CANNOT decide! UGH GRRR

  19. You're welcome! I like box-checking too, so I worked with that tendancy by making up my own daily schedule so I could check a subject off as done each day. I liked to write it what we did rather than ahead of time--then I could also check the day off if we did a field trip or an alternate activity too. Hope you can find how to make things work for you!

  20. Do you have post itch suggestions for American history?

    1. Hi Shelly,

      We used Sonlight 100 for US history. One time I used it pretty much "as is" (but I read some of the books aloud to lighten the reading load and there were a few books we still didn't get to). The other time I switched out the spine and used Notgrass instead of the Hakim books, but still used the other SL 100 books. That was okay--I did it mainly to avoid SL 100's incredibly extensive notes on the Hakim series, but I think if I did it again I'd just go through and cull the notes. The notes provide interesting balance, just more than we wanted (a few hundred pages of notes). We enjoyed SL 100 otherwise. I did like Notgrass for government though, and used SL 400 with that, which also has some American literature--I posted about that here if you're interested: https://hopeforhomeschool.blogspot.com/2016/01/combining-notgrass-government-and.html