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Celebrate 4th of July!

Celebrate 4th of July!

Certain Holidays get celebrated big time at our house, and the 4th of July is one of them! We love this country and the principles it was founded on. But we don’t consider ourselves proud Americans- more like grateful Americans. We had the opportunity to choose our education, vocation, spouse, faith, location, and lifestyle. Is it any wonder that people are clamoring to live in the land of the free and the home of the brave?

So, yep, we celebrate by decorating the house with red, white, and blue buntings that look about perfect on our 100-year-old house, along with Old Glory flying, friends to celebrate with and fun to be had by all!

Family recipes, activities and traditions are an important part of every holiday – here are some of ours!

Good Food

  • Grilled Chicken or Flank Steak, marinated in soy sauce, honey, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, and a ton of cilantro.Celebrate 4th of July
  • Deviled Eggs: My deviled eggs are de rigor for holidays and perfect as is. Peeled boiled eggs, sliced in half. Smash yolks with real mayonnaise and mustard to taste.  Set egg white halves on your beautiful carnival ware deviled egg plate, and spoon the generous yolk mixture into each half. Sprinkle with paprika and enjoy. Perfection!
  • Veggie Tray: all the veggies. Sour cream with Spike and lots of Dill if you want a dip.
  • All the Fruit is in a scooped-out watermelon half. Get fancy and scallop the edges if you want.
  • A beautiful charcuterie tray
  • And Cheesecake, with berries and a swirl of chocolate, or topped with berries, like ours!
  • Easy Punch: Grape juice with 7up and Lemonade and lots of ice, because we can our own grape juice every year and it’s just part of the summer holidays. Serve in pint-sized mason jars, of course.
Celebrate 4th of July!

Celebrate with Good Fun!

We often spend the afternoons doing target practice and then eat. When everyone is full and just schmoozing, everyone gathers together and my husband reads the Declaration of Independence out loud.

We take time to read the signers’ names. It’s sobering. These men, and their families, were willing to give up so much for an ideal. An ideal that we have all reaped the benefit of. I am grateful to each one of them for their vision and willingness to sacrifice for the long view.

Declaration of Independence

Reading the Declaration of Independence used to be the main focus of Independence Day celebrations in small towns across America. A national remembrance and vision casting for who we were and are as a country. It’s worth re-visiting annually. As one of my favorite pastors, Skip Heitzig says, “Truth needs a memory”.

Laura Ingalls Wilder writes about the importance of reading the Declaration of Independence as they celebrated the 4th of July, (she and her sisters have it memorized, of course) and the natural law on which this country is founded!

Fireworks & Savings!

And then comes the fireworks. We live in a state that allows fireworks and our property is situated so that we have an entire valley to light up.

At True North Homeschool Academy, we appreciate and celebrate Faith, Family, and Freedom. In celebration of this great country, we are offering a store-wide sale. Thanks for standing with us, in appreciation for this sweet land of liberty!

My country, ’tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee, I sing…

Long may our land be bright

With Freedom’s holy light.

Protect us by Thy might,

Great God, our King!

More About Freedom & Our Nation’s History

If you’d like to learn more about the values that our country was founded on, check out Politics, Philosophy, and Economics, taught by Adam Pruzan. Classes are filling up and we can’t always add a second section, so take advantage of our last sale of the year and sign up now for a live online class where the students and teacher engage in discussions about our heritage.

This is the perfect time of year to tune in and listen to our five-part Podcast Series  Authentic Values which speaks directly to the ideals upon which this country was founded. Download these episodes and add some learning to your summer road trips!

More About the SALE

And stay tuned to all our social media accounts for more information about our sitewide 5% off sale. It is the last sale before our True North Homeschool Academy Classes begin on August 22! You’ll want to be on our mailing list to grab your coupon code! Subscribe here:


History Classes

  • World Geography: Expedition Australia live online class taught via zoom
    World Geography: Expedition Australia
  • Live online homeschool class for Geography - Expedition Everest
    Geography – Expedition Everest
  • Medieval World History taught live online for homeschoolers
    Medieval World History
  • World History of the 20th Century taught live online for homeschoolers
    World History of the 20th Century
  • Middle Ages Exploration taught live online for homeschoolers
    Middle Ages Exploration – Elementary
  • high school world history class taught live online for homeschoolers
    World History – Strategy: War & Peace
    World Geography – Full Year
  • TNHA Modern History Exploration - Elementary Class Online
    Modern History Exploration
    Product on sale
  • American History in Films
    American History
Thanksgiving Amidst Battles

Thanksgiving Amidst Battles


Thanksgiving is hardly a time to think of battles. We were at Gettysburg recently. It was sobering. The wheat field, the hospital, the pillars from the states erected over acres of war-torn land. It was amazing and quieting. We attended a luncheon with our State Senator who mentioned that President Lincoln declared a day of National Thanksgiving after the battle at Gettysburg.

A Day of Thanksgiving after a horrible 3-day butcher-fest.

And the pilgrims- think what you may- lost 45 of the original 102 souls who landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts. They were people who were willing to suffer and die for the hope of freedom and the right to religious liberty. Those that survived celebrated with a feast: a day of thanksgiving after a year of profound suffering, death, and loss.

Battles and Loss

Maybe you feel like you’ve just come through a battle of sorts: a battle for your health, a battle for a child struggling with addiction, a battle for your soul or the soul of someone you love. What I know for sure and for certain is that this life is chock-full of battles, hardship, and disappointments. And holidays can be like pouring lemon juice on a paper cut!

But I also know that regardless of the battles you’ve fighting or just won or recently lost, there is much to be grateful for. We live in America. We are the fortunate 5% of the world’s population that lives in a place of relative freedom, choices, prosperity, and opportunity.

In spite of the battles being fought, lost and won, we have much to be grateful for.

An Attitude of Gratitude

My daughter and I went to see A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood when it came out. Mr. Rogers was beloved by many precisely because he continuously found thanksgiving amidst the battle. I certainly didn’t expect to cry throughout, but I wasn’t the only one as you could hear others in the theater muffling tears, sniffling and blowing their noses.

At the end of the movie, Mr. Rogers leans in to whisper to a dying man, a man whose life has been exemplified by loss, addiction, and desertion of the people he was charged to protect. He is asked later, what was it that he whispered. He has asked the man to pray for him because someone so close to death would be close to God. It is a beautiful re-frame. Instead of pitying the man, he sees that death brings clarity and refined purpose. This woeful sinner repented, asked forgiveness in a clear and profound manner and used his last days to redeem and bring healing. Mr. Rogers is grateful for this man’s life-all of it- the pain, suffering, redemption, and healing. He finds thanksgiving amidst the battle.

Holidays can be hard. My prayer for you is that you see all that you have to be thankful for and that despite the current or recently fought battle, you will feel God’s good presence and experience joy!

A Thanksgiving Day Prayer 

May it be your will, Lord, our God and the God of our ancestors, that You lead us toward peace, guide our footsteps toward peace, and make us reach our desired destination for life, gladness and peace.

May You rescue us from the hand of every foe, ambush along the way, and from all manner of punishments that assemble to come to earth.

May You send blessing in our handiwork, and grant us grace, kindness and mercy in Your eyes and in the eyes of all who see us.

May You hear the sound of our humble request because You are God who hears prayer requests. Blessed are You, Lord, who hears prayer.

Dreaming Englishmen and Treason

Dreaming Englishmen and Treason

Our Founding Father’s were dreaming Englishmen who committed treason. Their dream was about about a place that allowed freedom of idea, thought and expression. It was about a place where the common man could forge his or her own destiny. They believed in the hope of that dream so much they were willing to commit treason against their fatherland, family and friends.

We are political watchers in our house and we are grieved by the denegration of that dream and the easy disposal of the liberties we’ve been afforded as Americans. It’s as if because the reality isn’t a picture perfect version of the dream, the immense good that people HAVE in America should be completely thrown away.

Dreaming Englishmen and Treason

We read the Declaration of Independence on July 4. It used to be what towns and cities gathered for. To read, hear and remember. To appreciate that the liberties we experience as commoners in America are hard fought or non-existent in many places through time, history and our current landscape.

So we read, we listen, we remember. We thank God for men and women who were bold enough to be treasonous in the face of corruption and elitism, for those who dreamed of a land where we could pursue life, liberty and happiness, and that they were willing to lay down their fortunes, families and lives for this cause.

Dreaming Englishmen & Treason

It’s not a perfect place. It is not utopia. We have a long history of not living the dream for others we want so dearly for ourselves. But, in my long and involved study of history, I can still say that America is beautiful, that it is the beautifully flawed and beautifully imperfect land of the free and home of the brave. I am grateful to be an American, grateful to still hope in a dream, however imperfectly executed, that still inspires people around the globe to want to live here.

To fully understand what America is all about; dreams, flaws and all check out Humanities: U.S. Foundations– a 2 1/2 credit course including American History, American Literature and Fine Arts, taught by Cindy Brumbarger as well as Government and Economics, taught by Jeff Burdick.


Education: Power tool of Character & Virtue

Education: Power tool of Character & Virtue

Scalia Speaks

I hadn’t known the late justice Antonin Scalia was an advocate of education until the cover of the recently released Scalia Speaks caught my eye at a local bookstore. Just a few moments with the book revealed his thoughts on the deterioration of American schools, the sinking standards of higher education, and the need for learning based on scripture and civic responsibility. Drawing on his experiences in law school, on the bench, and with the younger generations he mentors, he warned urgently against following the veering moral compass of our nation.

Scalia drew his opinions extensively from the words and writings of the earliest Americans, challenging me to examine my parent’s motivations in their decision to teach me at home. Each phrase directed me to the firm understanding that knowledge was worthless unless grounded in faith and virtue. An excerpt from Noah Webster’s On the Education of Youth in America impressed me so deeply that I pondered the meaning through the rest of the day. “The virtues of men are of more consequence to society than their abilities; and for this reason, the heart should be cultivated with more assiduity than the head.”

On the Education of Youth in America

I later found a copy of Webster’s entire essay, where he outlined the subjects he believed a child must be taught in school. He emphasized a rigorous study of law, history, and ethics, seeing these studies as not merely the acquisition of knowledge, but of virtue and character.  Along with Scalia, he believed schools should place a higher importance on forming a strong character than a brilliant scholar. Furthermore, Webster did not suggest teaching these subjects to produce a successful career. He believed instead in forming citizens qualified to take their place in governing society.

Character Formation

The message resonated with me as I recalled my parents, who valued the formation of their children’s character first and foremost, guiding their decision to raise a homeschool family. They believed in education as the transmission of Christian virtues and culture to their children, and saw home education as a powerful tool in achieving this goal.

Technology, Skills, Character

In our technology driven world, a person’s knowledge and skills are incredibly important. Yet it is character that determines how those skills are put to use. A child’s moral grounding will provide the rudder to steer through career development, civic duties, and family life. My parents were confident that they could give adequate instruction in the practical skills of learning, and that they would also be in a better position to court the developing hopes, dreams, and character of their children.

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth that which is good: and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth that which is evil. For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.~ Luke 6:45

Sarah Frederes is a homeschool graduate and a Dakota Corps Scholarship recipient, which allowed her to attend and graduate from college debt free with a Summa Cum Laude and a BSN. She is the oldest of eleven children and has a love and passion for music, parrots, writing, gardening and photography. You can find more of her writing and lovely photography on her personal blog All That is Gold 

Teaching History In Your Homeschool

Teaching History In Your Homeschool

I often hear people say that they think history is boring or their kids can’t stand it because it’s dry and irrelevant. After years of teaching history, I am convinced that people often don’t like a subject because of a lack of understanding of the fundamentals of the material.

In this post, I want to give you some tips and pointers on how to teach and enjoy history!

Teaching History with Timelines

One of the most fundamental things you can do while teaching history to develop an appreciation of the importance of history is to create a timeline. There are many ways to do this- in notebooks, on the wall, or even by creating a foldable file folder. It can be as simple as drawing a horizontal line across your area and then using tick marks vertically by centuries.

When a historical date, person, or event comes up, write them where. You can use colored pencils or pens to show an event versus a person, print off small pictures, buy beautiful timeline cards, or create your own. We’ve memorized timeline cards from both Veritas Press and Classical Conversations. They are slightly different and don’t include everything, of course.  They each have 180 cards in their complete decks.

I will admit that tackling the first 180 events and people is challenging. But once you do, you have a great framework to build on, and the next 180 people and events are much easier to memorize.  Before you know it, you’ll have hundreds of people, places, and events memorized. This memorization is simple but profound because they have an immediate recall when conversing about ancient, medieval history.  For more information, check out this article on how and why to memorize a timeline.

Teaching History with Programs

Choose an engaging history program. We have loved Story of the World, have read the books and listened to the CD’s countless times and have moved on to the History of the World Series, all by Susan Wise Bauer. She is a consummate historian and brings in information from around the world. My son’s understanding of the Old Testament blossomed after he read Bauer’s History of the Ancient World (though it is high school level material and not for the faint at heart).

We’ve also loved the Famous Men series by Memoria Press, History of Mystery, Beautiful Feet, and various literature units, and have read hundreds of historical fiction books.  You can find some fantastic history reads through Bethlehem Books, books by G.H.Henty, Veritas Press, and Sunlight catalogs.


Teaching History with Magazines

Find some good magazines that you enjoy that will bring history to your home in bite-sized pieces every month. Some magazines we have subscribed to regularly include:   Biblical Archeology Review (from a secular perspective, but very scholarly and thoughtful discussion) and Artifax (Christian point of view) as well as National Geographic, which we intermittently subscribe to, but we have many, many old copies. Both BAR and Artifax deal with biblical research and archeology, bringing Biblical (and by association Ancient history) research to life in a real, scholarly, and exciting way.

Teaching History with Websites

Check out websites that allow you to see what’s happening now in the field of history. Eliat Mezer in Israel is doing some ground-breaking (literally) work in Israel as she unearths Kind David’s temple. If you want to learn about the history and the story of Judaism and Christianity, follow her blog.

She is an interesting woman who uses the Old Testament to inform her professional life as an archeologist!

Teaching Church History

Speaking of church history (because the point of all history is Truth), Memoria Press’s church history programs for high school are not to be missed. We’ve used their high school program for our Morning Basket time (c’mon, even teens love gathering together to read, discuss and learn!), and we’ve had to discipline ourselves time-wise, or we’ll just spend the day reading, talking, looking up sites on maps and discussing this fascinating, close to our heart subject!

Teaching History with Hands-On Activities

Don’t forget about narration, recitation, and theatrical performance to cement history. Our kids have done numerous historical re-enactments, readings, and full-blown plays, from George Washington to Shakespeare. Memorizing information causes you to think deeply about the information; once learned, the person owns those words and ideas. Memorizing is highly overlooked and a teaching tool that I cannot say enough great things about.

True North Homeschool Academy Live online History Classes!

You might have noticed by now, but history is significant to our family, and we invest time in learning it. I am super excited to share our fantastic history courses with you!