Layers of Learning Story

The first thing you should know is that besides being homeschool moms, we’re sisters.  Michelle is big sis and Karen is little sis.  Here we are as little learners . . . we’ll just say, some years ago . . .

About Karen and Michelle

When we grew up we started homeschooling our kids.  Mostly we loved it, but there are always struggles.  One of those was finding the right curriculum for our needs.

Why We Started the Layers of Learning Project

The Layers of Learning Project started in 2008 when our family got together for a family reunion and we were complaining about how we could not find the perfect curriculum.  See, we wanted something that would bring our kids from 1st grade clear through 12th in a unified way.

Karen wanted lots of hands-on crafts, games, and field trips.  Michelle wanted printables, discussions, and historical maps.  Karen wanted a complete idea and resource book organized by units so she could plan her whole year in advance down to the supplies.  Michelle wanted something that was grab-and-go for the days (could be every day, but we’re not sayin’) that she doesn’t get everything planned ahead.

We both wanted a master outline of learning that we could add all sorts of project ideas to.  Something that would be linked to all the vast resources of the internet.  Something that could grow with our kids.  And something that we could use to teach all our kids at once, family school style, since we both have large families.  Michelle has six kids and Karen has four.

Our Solution

So Mom said we should just write one. Karen looked at Michelle doubtfully.  Michelle looked at Karen with trepidation.  And then we said, “Yeah, we can totally do that.”

So now we’re homeschooling our kids, writing a spankin’ good curriculum, maintaining a website (channeling our inner techies has been a whole adventure right there), writing regular blog posts, and most days getting dinner on the table.

If we talk about Layers of Learning incessantly at the family reunion each year instead of complaining about the lack of decent curriculum in the homeschool world, that would be Mom’s fault.  Thanks Mom.  For everything.


Come See What We Created

We would like to direct you to our curriculum guide.  It walks you through the Layers of Learning Curriculum, explaining what’s inside, our philosophy, and how to use it.

More On Michelle


Michelle and her husband, Cameron, have been homeschooling since 2001.  They teach their six boys in beautiful North Idaho.  Michelle has a bachelor’s degree in biology and loves history and government.  She writes most of the history and science sections of Layers of Learning.

Michelle was nicknamed “the vocabulary kid” when she was young because she knows so many word definitions.  She can most often be seen either at her computer or with her nose in a book.  She’s a chocolate fanatic.  She has an absolute no whining policy in her house, and she runs, reads, and writes for fun.

Michelle homeschools at the kitchen table with a big chalkboard on one wall and bookshelves on the other.

michelle's school room
Michelle's books and supplies
Michelle's schoolroom with bookshelves

A Little About Karen


Karen, a mother of four (2 boys & 2 girls), has homeschooled her kids for over a decade with her husband, Bob.  She has a bachelor’s degree in child development and education.   She lives in North Idaho as well.  Karen is our resident arts expert and loves teaching writing and reading. Her dream job is being a childrens’ librarian.

If you’re talking to us on facebook or other social media, it’s Karen you’re talking with.  She’s also the one who signs our email to you with “warmly”, and she really means it.  She is often found on the sidelines of a basketball court cheering her kids on, in her garden puttering, or playing board games whenever she can garner competition.

Karen’s schoolroom is a colorful cozy space above her garage. There are desks for each kid, comfy couches to sink into and lots of organized supplies.

Karen's supply cart
Supply cart on wheels!
Karen's book shelves
Colorful bins and boxes for organization.
Karen's desk
Karen’s desk where she works on Layers of Learning.

Thanks for getting to know us.


  1. I would like to use your website as a reference in my annotated bibliography that I am doing for school. I am currently in the Teachers College at ASU and creating a thematic unit. I just need to know your last name(s) to cite your information properly.

    Thank you!

  2. Hi,

    I found you on the web and am using your “government-matching-game pdf.” I like it and my high school special ed kids used the activity on Thursday. I want them to check the homework today.

    How can I find the answer key for it?- is it unit 4.1? I could not find the key.


    Mr. Martin Chavez
    Loara HS Anaheim California

    1. Mr. Chavez

      We’re glad you like the game. And thanks for pointing out the lack of a key. You’re quite right, there should be one. I’ll email you now with the answers and also get them up on the page right away.


    1. Thanks for letting us know Amanda. I believe we’ve got the links fixed now. We’re glad you let us know before the Thanksgiving rush! You’re on top of things! (;
      Hey, hope you check back in the next month because we have lots more crafts and ideas for Thanksgiving planned (just as soon as we get Halloween out of the way!) Let us know if you have any more trouble and have a great day.

  3. This sounds very interesting to me as we are teaching preschool through high school and want a very hands-on approach. I am wondering what angle you come across on the Christian scale. Do you teach a Christian worldview?

    1. We teach by asking questions that encourage you and your kids to explain, defend, and analyze your own belief system. We don’t think it’s possible to align well with the belief systems of the wide variety of homeschoolers, even within the confines of the Christian philosophy, so we don’t try to. Instead we teach what is known, the facts, and then get you to apply your own philosophy to understanding those facts and then you go a step further to applying what you know about the Ancient North Americans, for example, to your own life.

      Here’s an example from Unit 1-15. In one sidebar in the Geography section of the unit, which is about the North American continent we present this philosophical idea:

      Modern text books and teacher lesson plans call the melting pot a myth and instead insist that America is a tossed salad.
      Of course definitions are important. Generally a melting pot implies that many cultures have come together to create a unifying culture. The tossed salad metaphor implies that many different and distinct cultures are living side by side, but not really mixing.
      Which do you think is true? Was one true in the past and one true now? Is one more desirable than another?What are the problems and benefits for a nation under each method? Which societal structure do you think is best for a nation in order to create stability, culture, prosperity and peace within the borders? Are these the only two choices?

      We don’t ever give the answer to what we think, we expect that you are fully capable of figuring it out for yourself. In other words critical thinking is embedded as a natural part of the curriculum. Every unit has thought provoking questions on a myriad of philosophical questions.

      It is not a religion course, but we hope it very strongly supports your family’s personal belief system, about religion, politics, philosophy, and everything, as you have discussions with your kids.

      1. How refreshing! I’ve been looking at your Unit 1.1 and am very excited. I love that you leave things open for parents to teach their own philosophy with the curriculum. You are so right that there are so many philosophies within the Christian religion it would be impossible to encompass them all without an approach like this. Even within my own religion I have looked at curriculum and have been uncomfortable with their own “flavor” or interpretation of our beliefs. So, thank you so, so much for writing a curriculum in this broad way. It is such a relief to find something like this!

        1. Thanks for the kind words Sarah. We have felt just the way you described. We firmly believe in passing on beliefs and morals to your kids, but feel like it is best done by parents. So many curriculum resources overstep that role. Hope you continue to enjoy our units. All the best!
          Karen and Michelle

  4. I have been interested in this curriculum for over a year now. I am very excited to take the plunge as I have three children I will be homeschooling. I was planning to purchase all 4 years at once but I noticed the fourth year was not yet completed. Do you have an idea when the complete fourth year will be available?

  5. Hi
    I am a student in a First Nations Metis and Inuit studies course from Queen’s University in Canada. As part of our course, we have been asked to record a First Nations (Native American) story to share in our online discussion board. I would like permission to record your “Raven Steals the Sun” story.
    Thank you,
    Stephen Fergusson

  6. Hi there! First, I want to thank you for creating this curriculum. It’s exactly what I’ve been looking for in my hopes of homeschooling! It’s structured enough to keep my son and I focused and on schedule, but flexible and broad enough to customize it as well. Second, I want to ask if there is anything you recommend for preparation (as far as prepping him and myself, other than the basic alphabet and counting realm)? I’ll be starting in 2 years, so long as everything goes to plan, since my son is 2.5. Thanks so much!

    1. There’s really no preparation you need in order to use the Layers of Learning curriculum. Before your child is reading and writing on his own you can have him narrate while you write and read aloud, and then guide the reading and writing portions. As for you, you will probably enjoy the curriculum most if you learn along with your child. Do the reading and projects together, write together, keep notebooks together and so on.

      As far as general preparation for school the ABC’s and the sounds, counting and recognizing the numbers, and being read aloud to are by far the best preparation you can do. When your son is about 4 or 5, if you want to, you can get a preschool workbook. The main benefit of this is that it eases a child into doing written seat work.

  7. I would like to thank you for a curriculum that is perfect for our family. We already have math and reading covered, and your adaptable layers give us the ability to cover all the other important topics! I love the combination of structure and freedom! This curriculum fits perfectly with our home school family!! Many thanks for your hard work and creating a great product.

  8. hi ladies
    do you have the experiment worksheet It has visuals such as our question with question mark visual and our equipment with test tube visual etc. thanks much have a great day


  9. Thank you very much, Karen and Michelle. You both are God sent. I appreciate your sharing such valuable educational materials to help us along. Love you both so much for all the great things you do.

  10. Hi Karen and Michelle,

    I’d like permission to use certain elements of your “Exploring Magnets” PDF in a Magnet Fun Kit that we are developing. I’d be happy to discuss further via email. What a wonderful site / resource you’ve created for homeschoolers!

  11. Hi Karen and Michelle,

    I love your ideas for the layers of learning! It’s exactly what we need for our homeschool. I was wondering if there is an option to buy both the print and digital versions? I’m what I guess has been coined an “Xennial” and I want the best of both worlds.

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