On this page we'll try to answer the questions that have cropped up so far. If you have more questions, leave a comment at the end of this page, and we'll answer as soon as possible.
No. Our worldview, including our western heritage and respect of others do come through in the units. But we do not intersperse Bible quotes or references or preach. The exception is that in the Unit on Christianity (1-19) and a few other units, where historically relevant, we do reference and quote the Bible in the context of history, not spirituality. We do not teach either evolution or creationism.
Instead of teaching our version of religion, our approach is to ask questions that challenge you to think actively about your philosophy regarding religion, politics, morals, and your worldview. We ask, you discuss with your kids what you believe, and together you develop your own answers to the important stuff. Critical thinking is built into the program. Parents are given back the responsibility of training their children's morals and worldview.
There are three ways to approach scientific knowledge. We'll use the example of the turtle's shell to explain.
Evolution method: The turtle's shell evolved to protect it from predators.
Creation method: The turtle was created with a hard shell that protects it from predators.
Factual method: The turtle has a hard shell, which protects it from predators.
We use the factual method. We simply explain what is observable and don't speculate on origins. This is actually the most scientific and responsible way to present information. Science is merely one way of learning about the world, not the only way. Science can only answer questions about what is observable and testable. It cannot answer questions in the realm of faith or about knowledge gained in other ways. That does not mean other ways of gaining knowledge are wrong, but they are unscientific. We keep science firmly in the realm of science and don't allow it to creep out of its area of expertise. In a few places we do address how different points of view have affected scientific inquiry, classification, and politics. We usually do this in the form of questions for you and your student to think about and discuss.
Just because we present the facts doesn't mean we assert that science isn't about questioning. That is precisely what it is about. We present facts and then encourage you to experiment, research, and pursue further knowledge. That's what scientists do! They are always trying to experiment and explain. Layers of Learning is a springboard for pursuits of knowledge. We provide facts, topics, resources, questions, and experiment ideas, and then allow you to explore and establish theories, beliefs, and ideas.
It is for kids from 1st grade through 12th grade (6 years old to 18 years old). There are colored smileys throughout the books to indicate which age group we feel particular books and activities are best suited for. It was written so it can be used with multiple ages of kids at the same time.
No. The book lists are comprised of the best books we have found on the particular topics in each unit. Search for them at your library. But if you can't find these or don't like these, read something else. We list far too many books to read in just one unit anyway. Choose your favorites and pass on the rest. Only rarely do activities in the units depend on the library list. Instead the books are listed because we expect outside reading to be your main source of information as opposed to textbookish writing that we might supply. We also add more resource ideas to the Layers of Learning Pinterest Community pages we keep for each unit as we find them. These are options; not requirements.
"Common Core" is a set of standards that has been developed in the United States and which most states have adopted. Some states require homeschools to use common core aligned curriculum while some parents want to make sure their students are getting the latest high standards in education.
Common Core standards primarily apply to language arts and mathematics, but the principles extend to social studies (history and geography) and to science.
When we wrote Layers of Learning we did not make an attempt to align the curriculum with any set of standards or learning goals except our own. Our personal standards include these things:
- Literature based learning instead of textbooks
- Many learning styles from reading and writing to hands-on to visual and auditory
- Rich in facts and information
- Primary sources used frequently in every subject
- Children learn to think instead of read and regurgitate
- Children learn to produce their own thoughts and develop their own opinions in written and verbal forms.
- Children learn how to learn and love it so learning becomes a life-long habit and not just for school.
Basically we used our own experience in teaching our own kids who have a diversity of learning styles and personalities coupled with the educational philosophies of the last several hundred years.
Common Core standards include things such as:
- Reading and analyzing primary sources
- Understanding the messages an author is trying to convey
- Understanding the definition of key terms an author uses
- Distinguish between fact and opinion
- Cite text in support of your own argument
- Read and analyze multiple sources on the same subject
- Evaluate an author's premise or claims
- Follow a multi-step procedure while doing science experiments
- Understand science terms and symbols
- Compare what you learn through experimentation in the real world with what authors say
You can read more about Common core standards at CoreStandards.org.
Common Core standards are not a set of facts to know, but are instead goals regarding how children learn to evaluate and process information they find in the world. Layers of Learning easily meets these standards as parents and children read, discuss, and analyze books, videos, and other information in the curriculum.
Each year, if you do all the topics in Layers of Learning, gives you a credit or course in history, geography, science, and art. For a high school transcript you would give one credit (.5 credit per semester) for each topic. Here's a chart to show how it breaks down.
|Year One||1 credit world history||1 credit geography||1 credit science 1||1 credit art 1|
|Year Two||1 credit world history||1 geography||1 credit science 2||1 credit art 2|
|Year Three||1 credit world history||1 credit geography||1 credit science 3||1 credit art 3|
|Year Four||1 credit world history||1 credit U.S. geography||1 credit science 4||1 credit art 4|
Also, more information on evaluating Layers of Learning assignments and courses.
And general info on how to grade courses, especially for high school.
The units were designed to be used for two weeks each. For example, Year One Unit One has the Fertile Crescent, Maps, Planets, and Cave Paintings. Each day of that two week period you will spend around an hour or two doing Layers of Learning. Here is a sample schedule of how it might break down:
Day One: History - You might do a map of the fertile crescent and make some flat bread.
Day Two: Geography - The second day, you might talk about maps, explore the globe a bit, and start making a paper mache globe of your own.
Day Three: Science - The third day you might make a model of the solar system.
Day Four: Arts - The fourth day you might take a virtual expedition of Lascaux cave and make your own cave painting on a brown paper bag.
Day Five: This is a flex day. You can use it for a field trip, homeschool group, catch up, another project, or nothing at all. This week you might want to work more on those paper mache globes for geography.
Day One: History - You could do a project about the tale of Gilgamesh and create your own cuneiform writing in clay. Write about your cuneiform desing and explain what it means.
Day Two: Geography - Finish your paper mache globe by painting on the oceans and continents. Label the globe once it is dry.
Day three: Science - Maybe you choose to do a few experiments to learn about some of the individual planets in the solar system. Do an experiment write-up as well.
Day Four: Arts - You could take a field trip to a petroglyph or pictograph site near you. Take photographs, then create a scrapbook page with captions that explain the art.
Day Five: Flex day! Finish up any work you didn't get to during the week.
All through the two week period you are also reading books from the library on all these topics during reading time and possibly using writing prompts from the sidebars for writing practice. You should always include some sort of writing in every unit, whether that is a report or a narration page or a poem or captions under pictures.
Not everyone will use the curriculum as a two week program or in the subject-of-the-day pattern. You might want to do history several times a week, or spend less time on some topics and more on others. It's very flexible, allowing for you to create your own schedule, while still organizing your studies in a logical way.
No. This is a pick-and-choose curriculum. We give ideas, you decide what works for you. Most people will probably only do one or two explorations per topic. Think of the units like a learning buffet; if you tried to have it all, it would be too much. But you should complete a few activities in each unit to make this a complete learning course for your kids.
After you complete a purchase you should be immediately returned to a page with the download links. You should also get a receipt in your email inbox within seconds of your purchase. Click on the link to your online receipt. The link to download your purchases is located in the lower left of your online receipt. If you do not receive an emailed receipt within a few minutes of your purchase then contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org) right away. We can send you your receipt or your units directly.
When you click on a link on the receipt, your download should start automatically. If it does not, it is most likely a problem with your email client or your virus protection. Most email clients use virus protection to check uploads and downloads. If both the email virus protection and your personal virus protection are running at the same time they can conflict and block downloads, especially of large files. If you can't figure out the problem, email us with as much info as you can. In particular it helps us to know what kind of device you are downloading to and which browser you are using. Screenshots are golden.
The units we sell are large files with lots of graphics so most phones and many tablets do not have the memory required. Phones and tablets also have to have a way to view the files once downloaded. The files we sell are all pdfs. Use the free Adobe Acrobat reader to view them.
The planners we sell are in zip files (so we can bundle a set of individual files together in one product) and a few people have had trouble opening them. You have to have a program on your device that can unzip files. Desktops and laptops usually come with this, but phones and tablets may not.
Once you are sure you have the software to unzip the files, right click on the file to see a menu of options, click on "unzip" or "extract". The files will open and you will be able to view them as normally.
If you can't figure out how to view a file, email us (email@example.com) and we will do our best to help you. We need to know your operating system and the type of device you are using. Again, a screenshot can be very helpful so we can see what you see.
Digital products may be printed for personal use within a single family or classroom (including co-ops), but not to pass out to friends, share with your whole school, or resell. Please do not share digital copies as this a violation of copyright law.
Once downloaded, digital products cannot be returned or refunded, though we are happy to work with you if you are not satisfied. We encourage you to get the free unit (look in the sidebar) to view before you make a purchase so you are aware of what you are buying. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of the quickest places to get support for your questions is in the Layers of Learning Facebook Group. You can ask Karen and Michelle as well as other users questions about Layers of Learning.
If you have questions about your order, are including personal information, or would rather keep your questions more private for any reason, you can e-mail us directly at email@example.com.