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Sonlight Intro to American History Part 1, History/Bible/Literature D, and Language Arts D Review by Jennifer Ladewig

Sonlight Curriculum, Ltd.
8042 South Grant Way
Littleton, CO, 80122

The Intro to American History, Year 1 of 2 Level D (4-Day)is a complete History, Bible, and Literature curriculum for grades 3-5 or ages 8-11. The cost of this 4-Day, Regular Reader Set Program is $439.30. When ordering you have the option of choosing between two reading level sets: Regular Readers or Advanced Readers. You also have the option of either a 4 day or a 5-day school week.

The list of books included in the Intro to American History, Year 1 of 2 Level D (4-Day) includes:

Instructor’s Guide

Sonlight D Instructor’s Guide by John and Sarita Holzmann and Rebecca W. Lewis


American Indian Prayer Guide by Danette Maloof

The Discoverer’s Bible for Early Readers NIrV by Zonderkids

Sing the Word: Great in Counsel and Might in Deed – CD

History & Geography

If You were There When They Signed the Constitution by Elizabeth Levy

The Landmark History of the American People: From Plymouth to the West, Volume I by Daniel J. Boorstin with Ruth F. Boorstin

North American Indians by Marie Douglas Gorsline

The Lewis & Clark Expedition by Richard L. Neuberger

Timeline Figures D ~ Intro to American History, Year 1 of 2 by Sonlight

Children’s Encyclopedia of American History by David C. King

The Beginner’s American History From Christopher Columbus to John Sutter by D.H. Montgomery

Read Alouds

The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes

Toliver’s Secret by Esther Wood Brady

Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham

Walk The World’s Rim by Betty Baker

Justin Morgan Had A Horse by Marguerite Henry

Swift Rivers by Cornelia Meigs

A Child’s Introduction to Poetry by Michael Driscoll

Adoniram Judson ~ Bound for Burma by Janet & Beoff Benge


Pocahontas And The Strangers by Clyde Robert Bulla

Phoebe the Spy by Judith Berry Griffin

Robert Fulton, Boy Craftsman by Marguerite Henry

Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan

The Courage of Sarah Noble by Alice Dalgliesh

Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims by Clyde Robert Bulla

Sarah Whitcher’s Story by Elizabeth Yates

The Skippack School by Marguerite de Angeli

The Thanksgiving Story by Alice Dalgliesh

Om-kas-toe, Blackfeet Twin Captures an Elkdog by Kenneth Thomasma

Timmy O’Dowd And The Big Ditch, A Story of the Glory Days on the Old Erie Canal by Len Hilts

The Intro to American History, Year 1 of 2 Level D (4-Day) Instructor’s Guide is divided into four parts:

  1. Introduction to Your Instructor’s Guide
  2. Schedule and Notes
  3. Reading Assignments & Notes
  4. Instructor’s Guide Resources

Each of the subject groups above has its own list of books to be read throughout the year. It should be noted that readers are broken down into two categories, readers and advanced readers. Sonlight realizes that children have a wide range of reading abilities and therefore offer books to challenge the more advanced reader while providing books that will not overwhelm the more reluctant or lower level reader.

Each week’s lessons are laid out and tell you specifically what you child needs to complete each day. The day is broken into the following sections: Bible, History & Geography, Read-Alouds, and Readers. Read-Alouds are books that the parent is to read to the child. At the bottom of the page parents will find a picture key which notates: Parental Notes, Map Point, Timeline Figure, and Timeline Suggestion. The parent resource pages that come in between the schedule pages give great hints and suggestions for helping your child memorize scripture. Discussion questions with answers are listed to help your child interact with their reading as well as insure that they are understanding what is being read to them or what they are reading independently. This is also the perfect time to discuss topics of interest or something that may need further explanation. Timeline and map points are given as well as important dates for keeping up on geography. The timeline becomes a chronological context of history that you child will be able to continue to build upon in the coming years of study.

In Section 3, entitled Read-Aloud & Reader Index, your will find a chapter by chapter, or in some instances, chapters are broken down and are therefore notated with page numbers. Each book read throughout the year will have the following points covered:

  • Cultural Literacy
  • Vocabulary
  • To Discuss After You Read
  • Timeline and Map Points
  • Setting

For example, in chapter 11 of, Carry On, Mr. Bowditch, we learn that “Napoleon Bonaparte: (1769-1821) was a famous, supremely ambitious French general who would eventually become the emperor of France.” This would be a cultural literacy finding. Like most 4th graders, my daughter did not know what the word despotic meant when she came across that word. Well, that would fall under vocabulary. “The Press is dangerous in a despotic government, but in a free country it is very useful, so long as it is free. (governed by an absolute ruler)” In the section, To Discuss After You Read, one of the questions asked is, “Why were Salem sailors angry with the British navy?” Answer, “The Brits would board American ships, claim some sailors were British, and force American sailors to serve on British ships.”

You may be wondering, What does a typical Sonlight day look like?

Week 11 Day 41


Parent Reading ~ Luke 17: 1-19

Student Reading (Discoverer’s Bible) ~ Exodus 10:8-27

American Indian Prayer Guide ~ Choctaw Day 1 p. 49

Memorization ~ Romans 8:28

Sing the Word: Great in Counsel and Might in Deed ~ Track 4


History & Geography

Children’s Encyclopedia of American History pp. 34-35 (timeline suggestion)


The Sign of the Beaver ~ chapters 14-15



The Courage of Sarah Noble ~ chapters 8-9


The Secret of the Sealed Room ~ chapter 2

I found it easiest to break the work down into two chunks. Normally we do Bible along with the History & Geography in the morning and then work through the reading in the afternoon. This set-up works great for us. It takes approximately 3-4 hours a day to complete a day’s worth of Sonlight. For some it may take longer or a bit shorter. Sonlight’s curriculum is very intensive and it is definitely not a curriculum that you can accomplish in an hour a day. It requires a great deal of parental involvement and commitment on both the students as well as the parents side. Early on in our homeschool journey I knew that I wanted to follow a literature based curriculum. I didn’t want to be stuck in textbooks learning bits and pieces of information throughout history without truly learning history. That is where Sonlight comes in. “Our challenge to homeschoolers is to skip the scattered Social Studies approach and instead study History.” In this year’s study students will learn why people came to a new land, how they persevered and settled this continent America. Every day they faced challenges and decisions that would lay forth a path that over the years has made the framework of our American History.

I absolutely love Sonlight’s approach to learning. Over the years I have not always been able to afford Sonlight’s curriculum but I have always used their choices of books as a guide in children’s academic studies. Learning history in a sequential, story like manner verses a Social Studies textbook that is a chopped-up concoction of bits and pieces of history without any substance or flow. Using historical fiction and autobiographies your student will feel like they are living history. Each book that your child reads over the course of the year has overlapping themes and topics from varying angles and storylines.

Of course, I cannot end without giving a shout out for the poetry portion of Sonlight’s curriculum. Children’s brains are like sponges and soak up not only scripture but also poetry incredibly well. It never ceases to amaze me at what a child is capable of memorizing. Not only will your child learn what a limerick, haiku, ballad, pastoral, sonnet, and so on are but they will be introduced to some great poets and poetry. On one side the genre of poetry is introduced and on the opposite page the poem is written out and illustrated. One fond childhood poem is Paul Revere’s Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. “Did you know that ‘Paul Revere’s Ride’ describes a dangerous and exciting event that took place at the beginning of the American Revolution.” This poem as well as many other great poems can be found in A Child’s Introduction to Poetry.

Language Arts, Reading D (4-Day)

This is intended for grades 3-5 or ages 8-11. The cost of this program is $45.99.

This instructor’s guide covers both the regular and advanced readers with the main program features being on diction, 5-minute mechanics, creative expression, spelling, vocabulary, and student activity sheets. Much like the Intro to History student’s lessons are laid out in a 4-day week schedule that they are to follow. Sonlight uses Spelling You See,Handwriting Without Tears 3: Cursive Handwriting, and Wordly Wise 3000, Book 3 (Optional). 

The breakdown of the weekly schedule subgroups are as follows:

  • Spelling
  • Handwriting
  • Reading (Regular or Advanced)
  • Vocabulary Development
  • Creative Expression

All notes for the readers can be found in section 3 of the instructor’s guide. A Weekly Overview box can be found in the lower left-hand corner of the weekly schedule page. This is a great way to see exactly what your student will be learning that week. Again, in between the weekly schedules you will find detailed instructions about every section to be covered each day.

Towards the beginning of the teachers notes there is a section entitled “Feeling Overwhelmed?” It talks about the myriad of concepts covered and how everything may seem so daunting. They point you to an article in another section of the manual. Sonlight truly wants to help the parent succeed in their endeavors as they teach their child or children as much as they want to see students succeed.

Sonlight provides grading Rubic’s so that you are not having to figure out how to grade your child’s writing on your own. They teach you how to evaluate your child’s writing and critique it subjectively.

I have always been a huge proponent of dictation. For dictation, Sonlight has your child read through a short passage paying close attention to words, capitalizations, and punctuations. The child is then to listen as mom or dad dictates the passage and the child writes the passage. Next, is dictation application. For example, we know that two basic rules of sentences are that they begin with capital letters and end with punctuation marks. The child then looks at a passage and says what punctuation marks are used and why. Then looking at the passage you discuss the nouns found. The application continues on in greater depth. This makes so much more sense when teaching grammar.

For one of the daily activities the child is asked to use their five senses. “When writers describe nouns with adjectives, they often think in terms of their five senses. What does it look like? What does it sound like? What does it smell, feel, and taste like? In this way, they are able to bring nouns to life with vivid descriptions.” Using their own senses the student is asked to write adjectives under the five categories: sight, hearing, smell, feeling, and taste. Then to take it further students are asked to write a descriptive paragraph using their senses describing an object.

When reading the novel, The Courage of Sarah Noble, students in week 12 will work on the topic of themes. They will be asked to write a short essay on the primary theme of The Courage of Sarah Noble. Well, we know that it is courage. You will be guided through a series of questions to ask your student based on the book as it relates to theme. They will create an outline with guided bullet points of what needs to be included in the outline. You will be guided through the rough draft as well as the editing and polishing up of your final draft. And of course, for parents a grading rubic is included to help guide you in grading your students final paragraph.

Day 93 Dictation says, “Let the words you speak always be full of grace. Season them with salt. Then you will know how to answer everyone.” That is taken from Colossians 4:6. Isn’t that just an amazing word of truth for your child to be hearing and writing down on paper!

Section 4 entitled, Instructor’s Guide Resources, is chalk full of great resources. The Scope and Sequence Schedule for Topics and Skills is a great go to reference to see exactly what your child will be covering each week throughout the year. The schedule is broken down into two sections: Dictation Application (Mechanics) and Activity sheet/Creative Expression. Also included in this section are:

  • Recommendations for Teaching Writing
  • Glossary of Phonics Rules
  • Basic Spelling Rules for Phonics
  • Language Arts Check-off List
  • Grammar Guide
  • How to Do a Research Project
  • Tips When Using the Internet

I am thoroughly enjoying working through both of these amazing curriculums with my 4th grader this school year. My daughter is not only enjoying each and every book that she is independently reading but her reading speed and comprehension has greatly improved due to the reading intensiveness of Sonlight’s curriculum. Before we started the school year my daughter did not like to read and was a reluctant reader. Now I find her reading on her own. Last week after I had put her to bed she came out and said to me, “Mommy, please can I read. I just have to know what happens next. I don’t think I can go to sleep until I find out.” How can a mom say no to that! Just another reason I love Sonlight. I also really enjoy the read-aloud, cuddle time that I get with my daughter as I read to her. Who doesn’t love to be read to? I really cannot think of any aspect of Sonlight that I do not like. Maybe if there were more hours in the day or less obligations or chores so that I could spend more time on Sonlight, lol.

I love the verse at the beginning of the Language Arts D Instructor’s Guide which says, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” What a better verse to begin a rigorous academic adventure than, Psalm 90:12. It is always my hope and prayer that my children will grow in truth and wisdom in the Lord through Scripture but also grow in wisdom through academic studies which takes determination, time, and effort. What you put into your education determines what you will receive in return. Sonlight comes alongside both student and parent and guides them along the journey in order to enable students to get the most out of their educational experience and prepare them for higher education.

-Product review by Jennifer Ladewig, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, October, 2017