As I've mentioned before, history was my least favorite subject in school, and I really think a literature-based approach, including historical fiction, is the most intriguing way to teach history. However, I also really liked what I saw in the sample elementary-age distance learning history videos from BJU. They include skits, re-enactments, and props which I think can bring history alive just as much as historical fiction. If I'm going to be buying a full-grade BJU distance learning kit anyway, I am very tempted to use their history too, and not just the English and math which is my primary teaching concern.
Sonlight, BJU - is there a way to combine them? Is it too much to do both? I think it would be too much to do both in their entirety, unless history is going to be your primary focus in school. (That's one qualm I had about Sonlight earlier even - history is pretty much the core for them, and is more of a focus than I had really wanted. Math and English should be the primary focus for the earlier grades, and I really prefer science to history, as far as the secondary subjects.)
However, BJU history (which they call Heritage Studies) in 1st-4th grades and in 6th grade, are just 1 semester courses. I think there will be time to add in select books from Sonlight to go along with each BJU course, spreading it out to a full year. To add even more flexibility, BJU is a textbook approach, despite the videos, and has quizzes and tests, which I could easily omit for elementary history work. Now, I am more comfortable with having some form of testing for student accountability, which is an aspect of using BJU that relieves some of my concerns about homeschooling, but I'm not too set on using tests for elementary history. As long as they are hearing (and seeing) the material and able to tell me about it verbally, I think that's enough for their age in history.
Another issue for combining is that BJU history does not follow the same sequence as Sonlight. BJU focuses on chronological US history for 1st-5th grade, not going back to do world history until 6th grade. Sonlight does world cultures in Core A, world history in Cores B & C, and US history in Cores D & E. But even though BJU does primarily US History, they add in a few choice world history tidbits from the same timeframe for each year. I have gone through the Sonlight book lists for cores A-E and categorized the books I like by time period and location, fitting them into whichever BJU year they match. Most of them end up being readable by the student at that grade level, though for 1st and 2nd, many of them I will have to read aloud. Adding these books is essential, I believe, for gaining the broader cultural "friendliness" and exposure which I love about Sonlight. The Sonlight books that are not history-related (just being readers), or that don't have reviews I like, we will just skip (or replace). This brings the total down to a very reasonable number to go along with the BJU videos.
For 6th grade world history, I will most likely add in more of my own choices to preface the BJU course, adding in prehistory from an old-earth perspective. In some ways, it is better to do this in 6th grade instead of in Core B of Sonlight (around 1st-3rd grade), as the student will be more mature and able to understand all the controversy and different options concerning this time period.
As for the higher grades, I will probably use more of Sonlight. I think I want to do the entire Core F of Sonlight, as it will introduce many valuable history lessons, instead of BJU 7th grade (more ancient/world history). I will probably use Cores G & H too (world history) in the next 2 grades, though not in their entirety, since I don't like the core spines Sonlight uses then. I may even use portions of the BJU 10th grade world history text as a spine. We'll see when the time comes. I plan to combine Sonlight's Core 100 and BJU's 11th grade US history courses for 10th grade, similarly to how I'm combining the elementary courses. I will also use parts of Sonlight's Core 300 (20th century world history) in combination with BJU's 10th grade world history textbook (not the video) again for 11th grade. For US government and economics in 12th grade, I will most likely use BJU's video course alone. So, that gives me a full plate for each year!
As we actually get to these grades, I will post a list of the extra books we end up using. Soon, I'll post a list of what I'm planning on using for 1st grade. If you are interested in what books I'm thinking of for a certain later year, feel free to ask me, and I can go ahead and give you my preliminary list.
As for other BJU courses past 6th grade, I am trying not to make up my mind yet, until we see how the first 6 years go. I do favor BJU English for the entire schooling adventure. Their math sounds good (mostly mastery), but they do not go all the way to calculus, so if my children are math whizzes, we may switch to something else at some point - either plain textbooks or other more advanced video/dvd programs (Chalkdust or Thinkwell, for example - see my earlier post too). We will probably use Math Mammoth worksheets for summer review sessions during elementary school too. So, we may or may not get full-grade BJU videos past 6th grade, but for the 1st 6 years (or 7, including kindergarten), I think I will easily make use of BJU math, history, and English (which includes reading, phonics/grammar/writing, handwriting, and spelling).