Week in Review: Week of April 25-29

We had fun this week with my husband’s parents from Florida here visiting with us for a couple of days. They and my parents, who live about an hour away, got to see the girls’ art work displayed in the art show at our Homeschool Learning Center. They were very excited to have both sets of grandparents be able to see it! 
Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory
Unit 11
 Even though it is not scheduled in the guide we have continued on with the ABC series from Rod and Staff. It is such a sweet set of workbooks and all three of my girls loved them! Grace will be starting the last one in the series next week. I love to see how she is growing and learning!
 Grace illustrated a beautiful picture to go along with her poem for the week. She is really beginning to enjoy the poetry. She missed the straight forward nature of the poems in Little Hearts for His Glory at first, but she’s now really enjoying listening to the new poem each week and trying to come up with a title for it!
 Preparing Hearts for His Glory
Unit 19
 During the typical week my husband teaches the girls on Monday while I teach my English class and the girls have a science class on Wednesday mornings. We also really like to only have an hour or so of work on Fridays so we work very, very hard during the first four days of the week, fitting all the days of the unit into Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. Beth has started reading some of Grandpa’s Box on her own. We still discuss the chapter, but this helps us stay on target. She really enjoys it and as we are drawing near the end I know she will hate to say goodbye to this book!
Beth is becoming quite a little artist! When we first started the timeline activity last year she just wanted to rush through, but now I’m seeing a greater effort and love for what she is creating. 
Resurrection to Reformation
Unit 3 

 Every year when I keep thinking homeschooling can’t get any better, we enter into a new adventure with Rose in a new Heart of Dakota guide. Seriously, I can’t believe how rich my kids’ learning experience is! It is way more in depth (And fun!) than I could ever plan on my own. Rose has kept her same Common Place Book since we started it in Preparing. I don’t have her do every single one of the copywork activities, but she does enjoy looking back on it every now and then. She is now beginning to copy her new chapter she is memorizing this year from Scripture.
Who knew the Byzantine Empire could be so fascinating? One of the fun thinks about homeschooling is enlarging my own understanding of history. I’m as engaged and interested in what they are learning as they are, maybe more sometimes! The writing assignments are a lot of fun for Rose. She looks forward to them every week. I’m continually impressed with her beautifully constructed sentences and look forward to seeing how she progresses in writing this year. 
How was your week? Post a link from your blog if you have one in the comments or just share a little below!

Week in Review: March 3-7

So this week had some challenges…with my camera that is! You can probably tell I’m not trying to win any photo awards with this blog. I use a little $100 point-and-shoot, day-after-Thanksgiving sale camera to document our life. It serves my purposes just fine, until it breaks…which it did. Well, not completely, but the battery casing won’t stay closed. So now it is taped shut, but it took a couple of days for me to get around to that, so the majority of my pictures are from only one day. At least it was a really good day!

Preparing: Unit 10 (2nd half)

I’m super excited bout how well our week went with this guide. Rose has been begging me to do more work each day (yay for our beginning-of-the year bumps being worked out!). So I told her we’d try the last 2 days at full-speed this week to see what happened. My girl was such a champ and finished her work in record time. When I asked her what the difference was she said, “Well, I just decided I should work diligently because it is the right thing to do.” I’ll take it!

I really love using the ancient maps from Map Trek. I purchased them last spring during a sale and have found them to be quite useful, especially since the used copy of one of our history books is missing some of the maps. In Preparing we look at where specific locations on historical maps and then locate those same places on a modern  day globe.

This week part of Rose’s assignment included reading  particular verse and discussing it with  grown up. She chatted with her Grammy who lives in Florida which was really nice.

Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory: Unit 18

Beth is my little mathematician and she is very much enjoying Math Mammoth. We’re filling in some gaps from the old 1st grade curriculum before we plunge ahead into 2nd which should be fairly soon. I really like the self-directed option with this math. While Rose prefers staying close, Bet likes to figure things out on her own. She comes and asks for help when needed, but she does well moving through the work on her own at the moment.

We studied Jesus Bids Us Shine this week for poetry and Beth chose to illustrate the poem. We were blessed to see a chalk pastel presentation over the weekend which inspired all of my girls to be artistic this week! Beth created a lighthouse scene using our own chalk pastels. She spent a really long time working on this piece and was very particular about her shading and blending.

This may be my favorite picture from the week. So relaxed and focused! Ralph S. Mouse was a huge victory for Beth. She has now fully moved into chapter books. At the end of the week she started reading a young reader’s version of Anne of Green Gables, one of my all-time favorite novels!

Preschool: Patiently Awaiting the Next HOD Guide!

So sweet little Grace got the short end of the deal concerning the photos. It’s actually funny because she’s typically my little model. She loves getting her picture taken! I took more than this, but because of my battery casing issue they didn’t save. Grace finally adjusted to the “new” way the words are written in Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. She is gradually becoming more fluid as she reads. She’s enjoying it so much that on Friday she asked to do a second lesson so she could see what happened next in the story!

There is a little snippet of our week. What did your week look like? 

Week in Review: February 24-28

We rarely take breaks from Heart of Dakota, and when we do school tends to go well for a few days, then the girls start begging for their regular “stuff” again!This is where we were last week and we’re back to our more rigorous routine which all three genuinely missed! This is spelling time. Rose and Beth are in levels 2 and 3 of All About Spelling and Grace practices spelling with cards and magnets. I’m enjoying and appreciating the benefits of learning subjects together even if on different levels. We’ve been doing this some with math as well with Rose and Beth and I’ve liked it. It has helped me be able to stay more on target and focus on the subjects easier.

Preparing Hearts for His Glory: Unit 10 (1st half)
Rose was begging me this week to go full-speed with her curriculum again. I told her we’d see how diligent she was this week and maybe we’d try full-speed days with the last two days of the unit next week. She was done in about 2 hours time, which tells me she could definitely handle full-speed now. We’ll test-drive 2 days at full-speed next week and I’ll let you know how it goes! 
We’ve been doubling up on grammar for a few weeks and Rose is doing so well! We had a great conversation this week about why grammar feels easy to her right now. I explained not everyone uses proper grammar, but we shouldn’t correct them when they are speaking to us. I also told her the reason she finds it easy is because her daddy and I both speak with correct grammar for the most part and so she is used to hearing what is correct.
I loved the poetry writing assignment this week using personification. Rose wrote a beatuiful poem which she has entered into a poetry contest we participate in sometimes. Here is her poem:

The wind moves to every sort of place.
I hear her sing as she jumps from tree to tree.
She dives down to talk to me
And says,
“Shhhh, be quiet as you feel my mighty breeze.”

The history projects for this week was a lot of fun! She made a skytale, a message on a song strip of paper wrapped around a cylinder. It was really neat!

She chose to write John 3:16 as her message. Now to see if her daddy can read it!
This week Rose said something which surprised me…she said she really likes history vocabulary! She always likes learning new words, but looking up the definitions, drawing pictures, and writing sentences seemed tedious to her. I’m so glad she enjoys it now!
Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory
Beth was so so so  excited to be reading Stories of the Pilgrims again. It is really interesting to me that so many who try Beyond say they get tired of the focus on the Pilgrims. I really appreciate this focus on one group of early settlers and how they stood strong in their faith, faced persecution in England, then hardships, hunger, and death because they wanted a place to worship God the way they felt the Bible taught. Neither my oldest or Beth tired of this for history and I expect when Grace reaches this guide I’ll find her enjoying it just as much.
Beth does different things while I read history. Sometimes she snuggles with me on the couch, sometimes she asks to take a turn to read, sometimes she acts out what I read, and sometimes she colors. This week she wanted to work on the coloring page in her cursive workbook and each day did a little more. My girl loves coloring more than anything. She is very detailed oriented and will work for hours on a single picture to get it just right. 
Although poetry is one of my favorite aspects of Heart of Dakota, it has taken Beth a little more time to warm up to a more formal study of poetry. I should use the word formal rather loosely because even though we have a poem we study each week, it just feels like a bunch of fun! She’s finally gotten a little more excited about it, which is the point. It isn’t really so much about analyzing the poetry, but learning to appreciate and understand it. I often lament how most children aren’t regularly exposed to poetry until much later in their education. 
This week I used a white board for spelling and Beth liked the change. The girls never complain about using the All About Spelling tiles, but sometimes there are so many words to build it can get a bit tedious for me as I work through 2 different levels. I’m trying out some new strategies now as I anticipate three levels at once in the coming years. 
Beth is almost finished with Ralph S. Mouse. Similar to poetry it has taken some time to convince her she is ready for a book this size. She’s been ready for several months now, but was so very certain she wasn’t “old enough” to be reading large chapter books. Now the world of books is wide open to her! 
Preschool: Patiently Awaiting the Next HOD Guide!

Grace has become very cooperative over the last few weeks. She always wants to know when we’re going to do her lessons, but she’s been great about letting me get some things done with her older sisters first. I’m trying to switch it up so she isn’t always last, but she’s been such a good sport! She does get frustrated if something takes longer than she would like…for instance finding the right letters for spelling! But she does like that I give her “spelling” words now. It isn’t anything formal, but it is reinforcing her knowledge and reading ability. 
Reading has become more frustrated for Grace as we’ve moved from the phonetic script to more traditional typing. She prefers the phonetic script, but is adjusting to the new way of writing the words and learning more formal rules like silent e
Just as with her older sisters I’m letting her complete her math book at her own pace. There are times when I have to limit her, but she often does 3 or 4 pages each day. I treat her ABC Rod and Staff books the same way. Her 4-year-old attention span keeps her from moving too quickly. We’re holding off on formal handwriting until she turns five. I’ve learned not to push her formal writing until her fine motor skills are there. Rod and Staff will help us get there! 
We had an excellent week again! I hope you stop by again next week! 

Week in Review: January 27-31

We had a calm week and I’m content. We seem to have finally and genuinely settled into a groove. I never thought it would take more than half a year to get here, but here we are. I’ve learned so very much along the way…extending grace towards my girls and myself, adjusting my expectations, taking breaks when needed, loving the process over the schedule…just so many things. Now, six months into our year, I feel we have grown closer, my girls and I. I have more patients with them and they are laughing and we are closer.

Preschool – K4

Grace loves our new routine even though we both miss Little Hands to Heaven! She drags her bag of books out and brings them to me with eagerness. She simply smiles and waits for me to tell her to either open up her reading book or play a little longer until I can get her sisters settled in with their independent work. I struggled with Grace a bit in the beginning of this year. Her frequent temperamental moods were becoming more and more frustrating, but suddenly in the last couple of weeks she has calmly accepted my need to teach her sisters. Thoughtful consideration and prayer led me to the same conclusion every time: She felt I was pushing her away instead of understanding why I needed to work with her sisters. I’ve been trying to gently help her see this and I think she’s finally there for the most part. She seems to have more fun playing on her own with a variety of toys and learning games. This little computer has been with another family for a few months and she was excited to play with it this week since the last time she had it she wasn’t reading yet!
She is reading so fast now and gets quite insistent we move quickly sometimes. While she is fine with me helping her sisters who are usually sitting near us, she will impatiently move my finger along the story if I get behind! Unlike her sisters mistakes don’t bother her. What a blessing! She’ll thoughtfully look at a letter or word and simply say, “Mommy, I don’t remember that sound.” We review it and she moves on. Her older sisters definitely struggled with the need for perfection. in some ways she is a little too unconcerned with doing things well, but I’m appreciating her laid back attitude very much. 
And yes, she is wearing a pumpkin shirt. It is one of her favorites no matter the season or weather!

I have a nice assortment of workbooks for her to complete. This one is an ABC dot-to-dot. She really enjoys it and it is a nice way to review her alphabet. This particular book has been used by both her older sisters and is one of the few I have with all of their handiwork included inside!
Math right now is all about patterns, what belongs together, and the terms alike and different. She is learning excellent critical thinking skills and I enjoy watching her process a problem. She typically figures out an answer, giggles, and then tells me the wrong answer! I know she knows all along because she’ll immediately say something like, “I was just kidding you, Mommy!” or “I’m funny!” and then follow with the correct answer. 
Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory: Unit 15

Beth has started to become more anxious to finish her work each day. While she doesn’t argue with me and seems to really enjoy the work we do, she frequently cheers when the school day is over and gets a dejected look when I remind her of a forgotten assignment. I have no idea why this change has occurred with her, but since it isn’t seeming to affect her attitude during her work I haven’t addressed it yet. Is this maybe just exerting her independence? Since she gets several breaks each day and total only spends about 45 to 60 minutes doing school work I know it isn’t the amount of time!
We are continuing with book two of All About Spelling as well as our spelling words from the Beyond lists. We are getting to more and more difficult words in the Beyond guide so I do not assign more than 5 words each week. Typically after her pretest the words she needs to work on are from the 2nd year list so I’m very pleased with her spelling at the moment. 
Beth is 1 short lesson away from finishing up Rod and Staff 1st grade math! We’re making a switch in math curriculum due to cost effectiveness. Rod and Staff has served us well, but I was able to save us quite a bit in the long run with a program I have researched and reviewed at one point. My mathematically minded husband thinks it is a solid and good option so I took the plunge! We will be moving into Math Mammoth soon and I’m excited for Beth to give it a try first. 

Rod and Staff came out with a new book in their ABC series this year which completely thrilled my sweet Beth! Just Thinking and Choosing is now one of the highlights of her day. Cutting, pasting and coloring in Beth’s world are as good as life gets! 

Cursive is such a beautiful thing. It’s beautiful to read and a lot of fun for my girls to write. There are numerous studies out about the benefits of cursive. I begin cursive instruction much earlier than HOD suggests in 1st grade. I have found cursive to be less frustrating for my girls than print and they love how artistic their handwriting looks. Beth is progressing slowly through Classical Conversations Cursive and really enjoys it.

Beth’s art project for the week was weaving a Native American blanket. I’ve struggled this time around our history books using the word Indians. I’ve talked with Beth about why they were called this because of confused early explorers and explained why Native American is a more respectful term. So now as I read aloud I just replace Indian with Native American. Anyway, we used felt to do the project so she could use her blanket with her new doll from Christmas.

Preparing Hearts for His Glory: Unit 9 (2nd half)

Rose is hard at work with her times tables! She is nearing the finish line and then we’ll start with division. For whatever reason she much prefers multiplication over addition and is doing really well.

Math Rider is a huge part of times tables sine I can adjust to have her practice specific numbers.

There are so many things which make Heart of Dakota so wonderful, and the integration of history and geography is one of them! Subjects learned independently of one another do not have the same meaning as those learned incorporated with others. This week Rose found where the locations concerning the Trojan war are located now. We have a very old copy of A Child’s History of the World which means some of the expected maps are missing. I use historical maps from Knowledge Quest I purchased a few months ago and like them very much. I don’t print them, but we view them on the iPad and it has worked out quite well. 

Rose really enjoyed the story of Troy. I very much appreciated how Greek mythology and poetry was presented in this curriculum. The history reading explain it as fairy tale gods and imaginary things rather than true, like we know the One True God to be. It is wonderful to know how exactly to present this information to my very sensitive daughter. She has such a heart for the world to know about Jesus and how wonderful of a Savior He really is. At one point she thoughtfully asked me, “Mommy, why wouldn’t they want to follow God? Why would they rather follow fairy tale gods?” We had a wonderful discussion about this which I was more prepared for because of the reading and study I’ve been doing on my own with resources from New Leaf Publishing. I’m glad she asks these questions and I have the opportunity to answer. 
This is a portion of the art project for the week. She made a creative poster about her name and things about her. She had a lot of fun with this! 
Cursive is going really well for Rose as well. For her the main issue is remembering how to write certain letters, but this is getting better gradually. Her written narrations are just lovely and improving all the time!
All the girls joined in with Beth’s project this week. They had a lot of fun and even Grace was able to join in and make little blankets for her baby twin dolls. 
When I think of the great responsibility I have been given to disciple my girls I can’t help but feel inept to the task. Only by the grace of God am I up to the task. I feel unbelievably blessed to have found a curriculum which enables me to do this task. I also feel blessed my girls can learn alongside one another. It’s not without its bumps ad frustrations, but overall our family feels very peaceful. It was a good week…a very good week! 

Week in Review: January 20-24

So this is the first week I haven’t been running three guides from Heart of Dakota at once…I missed it! I’m now down to two guides for the rest of this school-year. I honestly didn’t feel any less busy even though I expected to. I really did miss having activities and things laid out for me. The girls were great, we stayed on schedule, and this was one of the nicest weeks we’ve had in a long time. This year has been extremely challenging for me for lots of different reasons and I think we’re in a good place right now…at least for this week!


Grace finished up Little Hands to Heaven last week and we are moving right into Rod and Staff’s ABC series keeping in line with the feel of Heart of Dakota. She loves these sweet little workbooks and was so excited to begin! This is the first time we’re doing all of them and I anticipate a lot of fun ahead!

She also started the first of the now out of print Earlybird Kindergarten books from Singapore. I still have 1A and 1B and wish so much I could find a decently priced copy of 2A and 2B! She is also really excited about this new book all full of bright colors.

Reading keeps her on the edge of her seat! She is so excited about our reading lessons and will sometimes be dragging her reading book around while still in her jammies because she is so ready to start! She’s charging ahead and finding the stores to be quite funny in Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. She giggles and laughs and the best part is it means she understands what she is reading!

This week was also the start of Grace being extremely cooperative about her alone time playing while I taught her sisters. She’s always been good, but just wanted to do school with me all the time and didn’t like it when I gave her older sisters my attention. This week she was so amiable and patient! When i came into the living room and found her with her babies, named Strawberry and Blueberry, she told me, “I’m teaching my babies Mommy! They’re homeschooled!”

This is something else she does while I teach her sisters. I made a light box which sets under our science table. She doesn’t play with this all the time, but enjoys it every once in a while.

Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory: Unit 14

Beth had a really fun week! I remember how fun this particular history was for Rose a couple of years ago and I think Beth enjoyed it even more! We learned about the Dutch importing cattle, pigs, and chickens to the island of New Amsterdam as well s how it became New York. We played a fun game of capture the livestock where Beth had to protect all her animals from me!

Making butter was the highlight! Beth had already read how to make butter so I let her explain how it worked in the olden days. Then we put some heavy whipping cream into a jar and shook shook shook! It finally turned into golden yellow butter and was absolutely delicious. Rose remembered this and was so excited to get to make butter again!
Bible this week focused on the Parable of the Talents. Beth memorized her Scripture verse in just one day and was very excited to act out the parable at the end of the week. She quoted her part beautifully and we had some nice discussion about doing good with the things God has blessed us with whether they are objects, money, or abilities. 
Beth loved poetry this week. She really enjoyed drawing a picture of her milking a cow to go along with the poem. She used our Draw Write Now books and did such a great job! She gave this to our neighbor, Diego, because one of his Chemo Angel’s name a cow on her friend’s farm after him! 
She did a great job with cursive F this week and also learning about initials. 
The timeline is a highlight of our week. There are a handful of units which don’t include a timeline entry and boy is Beth disappointed! She really loved this. Quite often I’ll draw an example of the picture first because it gives her more confidence, but this week she was totally into drawing her own cow!
Preparing Hearts for His Glory: Unit 9 (1st half)
Grandpa’s Box is just amazing. Even if you are not using Heart of Dakota for your curriculum, this book is so good for a read aloud or devotions. I know eventually I will not have all the school books I do currently, but this one will never be sold. It is just that good!
Rose finished up Toliver’s Secret this week. She absolutely devours books. She is usually reading 2-3 at a time. I’m not at all like this. I love reading one book at a time, but she loves to have lots of things going at once! She told me this week, “I love to read. When I read I imagine the scenes in my mind and it’s like a movie, only better, because I get to add in all the extra stuff!” 
Rose loves to draw and so her independent history. I reminded her to draw lightly with a pencil first because all artists do to begin with. She giggled shyly and said, “Mommy, you just called me an artist!” I’m learning how to meet my girls’ needs and intentionally love them the way they feel it most. Words of affirmation are definitely key for my oldest!
Quite often Rose will do her independent work in a different room from us. She is easily drawn into whatever lessons I am doing with her sisters and I’ve encouraged her to work where she can focus if needed. She’s reading A Mouse Called Wolf here and then getting ready for math. Such a diligent worker this week! 
Dictation is going very well. It has taken some time, but switching letters is happening less and less! This is a great success for Rose. We’ve struggled with spelling even though her reading is off the charts. I really feel All About Spelling has been a huge help with this. 
Mid-week we had a fun break with just a little snow. We skyped the grandparents and had fun with the light dusting. 
I also had two great reviews post this week! Here they are if you missed them…

Week in Review: January 13-17

Don’t you just love it when you have wonderful plans, plans certain to keep your children enthralled with their education, exciting plans you can’t wait to get your hands into? I know I do. I also know that is often when life intervenes and nothing goes as planned! Our week started out rough with Mommy catching a virus. Blessedly, (I would say miraculously!) no one else in the house came down sick and we were able to get back to normal and even catch up a bit by Wednesday.

Little Hands to Heaven: Units 32-33
I’ve been trying to finish up this guide for what feels like forever! We finally did it and I mushed two weeks into one and we’re done. Grace was very excited to finally learn the motions and poems for Y an Z. She kept saying, “Mommy! We have to learn Y and Z!!!!” for the last few weeks.

We hit a couple of milestones this week! Grace finished up the About 3 series from Rod and Staff so she’ll be moving on to the ABC series next week. She also reached the half-way point in Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons…Yay!!! She is now able to read some words in early reader books. Her favorite one right now is Pizza Pat. There is absolutely nothing fancy about our reading program, but it works and is very solid, especially if you are on a budget.

Grace frequently asks me to do spelling with her. While she is doing great with both writing and reading, she isn’t exactly ready for spelling. She has been known to make very good attempts at sounding out words, but she is too young to do spelling like her sisters do with All About Spelling. For now she enjoys using our Cookie Sheet Challenge activities and I call it spelling. I have some other tools like this I plan to use with her and I’m sure she’ll love it!

Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory: Unit 13
Beth was very happy to have a new book from Rod and Staff in their ABC series. These books are intended for use before 1st grade, but Beth has loved them immensely. When she saw I was ordering a set for Grace she asked if there were any more she could use. When I told her there was one new one her sweet response asking if I could get it for her I absolutely agreed. She enjoys problem solving which involves cutting, coloring, and thinking.

We read Seabiscuit which she very much enjoyed because it was about a horse. Sometimes she does not care to narrate to me, but she’s getting better at this. When she is agreeable she does quite well. Beth is my little story-teller complete with voices and inflection. Her problem is she would much rather read than tell me about what she read. If she’s particularly resistant I will ask her to act it out with toys and then her face lights up. I believe I will be asking her to do this more often.

Beth is very, very close to finishing up her 1st grade math curriculum from Rod and Staff. Math has always been easy for her and we have yet to hit any bumps. I’m letting her proceed at her own pace and she’s very much ready to move into her 2nd grade material soon.

Preparing Hearts for His Glory: Unit 8 (2nd half)

We’re working our way through multiplication facts quite well. I am very pleased not only with how well she is catching on, but how quickly she is memorizing them. This seemed to be a struggle for her with addition facts and I’m not certain why except I have taken off the pressure of timed quizzes. I do plan to introduce them again later, but relieving her of this pressure has enabled her to learn without fear of mistake. Her perfectionist tendencies were one reason we started homeschooling and they are still a constant struggle to help her balance. So instead of quizzes we use Math Rider to test speed. It is fun and feels like a game rather than a test.

History is always wonderful, but even better with Zoe around! Our sweet kitty just loves hanging out with the girls during school hours. I think the fact that they are quietly engaged makes her more amiable towards them because we rarely see her when they become more rambunctious in the afternoons. I’m very pleased with Rose’s written narrations and she was very proud to be able to write her very own this week about David. She articulated very well what she read and it is exciting to see the Charlotte Mason way of teaching writing blossoming for her. Sometimes I am afraid that what I read sounds great in theory, but not practicality. I love seeing how well these methods actually work!

You can see from the pictures we were away from our schoolroom for much of the week. That’s what happens when someone isn’t feeling well in our house. But I love the freedom of movement which we have. The girls now each have their own canvas bag with the books we will use for that week they can carry to whatever location where we will be learning.

I posted three reviews this week as I’m trying to catch up from over the holidays! In case you missed them…

Week in Review: January 6-10

Back at it again…

It is good to be back at routine, isn’t it? I enjoyed our break very much, but the girls were long overdue for some structure. Everything started back up this week, which made for a really busy start, but it was quite smoothe actually. You can read about our Christmas to see all we did!

While I was busy undecorating and redecorating Grace helped Daddy put together a rolling cart storage for me. I’ve always thought these looked great for crafting. My girls love to be given a bunch of supplies and creating whatever they are in the mood to do at the time. The school room isn’t set up for this type of creativity because of space issues and now they can roll their supplies to the kitchen table with ease.

Little Hands to Heaven: Off Week
I only have 2 more weeks to complete in this guide and I planned on squishing them into this week, but wouldn’t you know it, Grace came down with a cold and really wasn’t up to a lot of formal work. She really wasn’t all that sick, but she was incredibly tired and not in the mood to focus a whole lot until the end of the week.

On Thursday she finally asked to do some work. Her first request was the animal activity cards from our Fundanoodle sets. She loves these and so do I! They are really fun and I’ve seen firsthand how much they help her focus if we do them first.

I have quite a few file folder games I have put together for the girls to play alone or together from the dollar sales at Scholastic. Grace is now at the point where she can do a handful on her own and actually enjoy them. This one matches letters which are randomly placed on the board. While it isn’t anything fancy she really likes the activity and is good practice for letter recognition.

(You have to love a 4-year-old’s sense of style!)

After being away from our reading lessons for almost a month I wasn’t sure how our first one back would go. I love how well young minds retain information because she recalled most of the letter sounds on her own. She struggled with the one she learned most recently and after concentrating on it for a few seconds said in her chirpy little voice, “Mama, I don’t bemember that one.” After I reminded her she said, “Oh yeah…I actually did bemember that!” I have so enjoyed teaching reading this time around.

Here she is all ready to go out into the snow…of which we had none! We did experience a lot of cold, but no snow in our neck of the woods. I thought it was very cute how she bundled up in one sister’s hat, another sister’s scarf, and my boots to go play in the snow. Then I saw what “snow” she meant. She had taken Styrofoam out of my decoration boxes and crumbled it everywhere in the living room while I was teaching her sisters! Oy…

Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory: Unit 12

Beth has begun asking me, “Do we have to do school again today?” I’m grateful when I affirm that we do her answer is most always a cheerful, “Oh, okay Mommy! I just wondered.” Even though she asks she rarely complains about any of her work. We studied about Thanksgiving this week and she has really loved reading so in depth about the Pilgrims. I read how some families feel their children tire of the amount of time spent on this particular period of history, but neither of my daughter’s have expressed this. Rose frequently pipes up during our history readings with comments about what she remembers or a particular part she liked the first time around.

The Bears on Hemlock Mountain has been as much fun for Beth as it always is for me. I love this story and I’m really glad she does too. She does a great job at narrating what she reads although I don’t even ask her to very often! She just really enjoys telling me about her reading for the day. I’m sad we are done with this one, but I know her next book will be a lot of fun too! Just like her sister it seemed to be Christmas break which was the magical moment when she felt grown up to read other chapter books on her own. She’s been picking up just about everything she can get her hands on for her afternoon quiet time and voraciously reading it! Of course it did help for her Sunday School teacher to give her a Barnes and Noble gift card for Christmas. Each of the girls’ received one. It was such an incredibly thoughtful gift for our family!

She struggled a little bit more with her spelling words for this unit than she has, but they were much harder words. Since we use both All About Spelling and the Heart of Dakota spelling I’m not at all concerned. I know she will cover these words again and so we will move on and revisit them again later.

There are two areas which I add a little extra which isn’t included in the Heart of Dakota guide. Don’t get me wrong, I strongly feel the guides are full programs without any additions needed. My personal feeling, probably because of my background as an English teacher, is I like a bit more focus on creative writing and vocabulary. I have books from Scholastic for both areas which I do really like for these areas of language arts. She especially enjoys the word laddre vocabulary activities because they have a lot of riddles.

Preparing Hearts for His Glory: Unit 8 (1st half)

After some evaluation of how things were going for the 3 weeks of this guide we moved forward at full-speed I decided to go back to half-speed for the rest of this year. I think this slower pace fits where Rose is at the moment and is allowing both of us to enjoy the guide more fully. We are continuing with math and language arts at a full-pace speed, but all else is slowed down to half speed. Rose seemed to greatly enjoy history this week and it is good to see her excited rather than overwhelmed. Being at the young end of this guide I don’t mind at all as I am trying to learn to follow the needs of my children and not push forward simply because I want to get done.

Rose is incredibly mature when it comes to her understanding of the Word of God. I think many people think it is innately in her simply because she is a pastor’s daughter, but this simply isn’t true. Although we have always made Bible reading as a family a priority I believe Heart of Dakota has prepared her heart to be more tender towards understanding Scripture. It is so gentle, but so clear and guides children to become more spiritually mature. I’ve seen it before my own eyes and this one reason is why I can’t imagine using any other curriculum.

I informed her before our break that I would expect all of her work except spelling to be in cursive. She’s met the new standard without much complaint and I’m very pleased that after two years of cursive instruction her handwriting is quite lovely. She sometimes has to check how to write a letter, but this is becoming less frequent. We’ve also moved to doing all 5 vocabulary words for each unit instead of only 3.

Her creative writing is progressing well and I’m pleased with how well her thoughts are translating into writing. She does very well for her age and grade-level. This is an area I add in addition to what we do with Heart of Dakota as well. I have a harder time teaching her writing because I am used to working with older students so teaching the writing process from the beginning is a bit of a challenge at times. We’re working through it and I am learning as we move forward. I appreciate having experienced homeschool moms who are kind enough to help me through this process as well. I am looking at other writing programs but haven’t found anything I’m completely sold on yet.

Our first week back was full-force, but still a lot of fun! We ended the week with a fun day of play with a family of girls still on break from year-round school. Fun times!

I’d love to hear about your week!

Week in Review: November 18-22

Before I get into our week I just wanted to thank everyone who voted in the Homeschool Posts Blog Awards. The winners are up so take the time to go see who this year’s winners are!

There is also plenty of time to enter the Homeschool Helper App Giveaway! I’ve really enjoyed this app and have found it to be very compatible with Heart of Dakota. Click here to find out more.

And now onto our week…

Nothing really spectacular about this week, but that is a good thing. We had some bumps, a few successes, but mostly it was just a regular week and blissfully uneventful!

Little Hands to Heaven: Unit 29

Grace learned about the letter X this week. Her older sisters both have a class on Wednesdays and she has really enjoyed the time we get to spend together one-on-one. It is also nice to have this time in case things don’t go as planned earlier in the week.

I particularly like how the devotional book, My ABC Bible Verses, is preparing her little heart for discipleship. After a brief story involving children and written in a beautifully simple way, short questions are presented to help the children recall and think deeper about the Scripture. I know I write a lot about how much I appreciate the Biblical training and instruction, but it really is my favorite part about this curriculum. Even in the preschool guide children are led to the throne of God in a very gentle way.

Little Hearts for His Glory: Unit 11

Beth read the chapter book Tornado this week and spent more time learning about the Pilgrims. I find it particularly excellent timing with Thanksgiving next week. She has very much enjoyed this even though we’ve been studying the Pilgrims for several weeks now. She does not find this at all boring and is even enjoying reading some on her own. She really enjoyed Tornado as well and Rose mentioned remembering reading that book and how much she liked it.

This is Beth’s 1st grade math with which she is almost finished. You may notice her writing on the left-hand page while the right-hand page is already finished. It may seem as if I was posing her for this picture, but I wasn’t! While I don’t have my girls “pose” for these shots I do sometimes say, “Freeze!” and they know they keep still so the picture isn’t blurry since I’m really not that great of a photographer! Anyway, while she is “freezing” this is how she has been doing math recently. She may start on the left side, do a few on the right, move back to the left, and so forth. It may be a little unorthodox, but as long as she knows what she is doing I’m fine with it! She did have a little trouble with one section where she was supposed to write the number preceding and following the given number. The reason for this was that she did the jumping around thing. It was this lesson when I realized what she was doing and hadn’t given her directions for that part yet. She was only mildly frustrated when I erased the one section and made her redo it.

I only add in two items to our week which are not included in the early Heart of Dakota guides. The first is paragraph writing. As an English teacher it is very important for my girls to have a solid writing background. While I do feel the path for writing in Heart of Dakota is very well planned out, I wish it were started slightly earlier. There are very good reasons given by the author about why it is structured the way in which it is, but I just decided to add in my own writing. We’re using a Scholastic book which I purchased during a $1 sale and I’m really enjoying it, as is Beth! This week she wrote about what she would put in a mystery bag and had to include clues about what it was. She wrote: I have something special in my bag. They build nests. They eat bugs and worms. We like to hear them sing. She came up with these sentences, but we spent time throughout the week brain storming before she actually wrote them into a paragraph form.

Preparing Hearts for His Glory: Unit 7

Rose is checking out our beautiful map of the United States for math…that’s right! Math! I cannot emphasize how much we adore Life of Fred. I’m so glad I borrowed the first book from a friend to see what we thought. If you lean towards a Charlotte Mason style of schooling you should really check this out. I use it alongside our traditional math curriculum. I love how it takes math and crosses it into other subjects like geography, science, and history.

We both love love love Vocabu-Lit! This is our second unit with the book and I prefer it far and away over Wordly Wise. Rose said it is also more fun and actually asks to do this first!

Grandpa’s Box continues to be a highlight during the week. We are alternating between this and a Child’s History of the World, which I’m not as excited about reading to be completely honest. Rose does though so that is good. She is reading at a very high level and sometimes like to read on her own. I do like to read with her, but she is very good about reading passages if I get interrupted by her little sister.

Grammar is going well…extremely well actually. I remember groaning with my classmates in grade-school whenever my teachers pulled out the grammar book. I didn’t really feel that way inside, but you know, peer pressure and all that jazz. Rose seems to like the logic and order grammar provides. I have also seen a bit more order and structure to her writing aside from grammar. She is providing beautiful written narrations each week (scheduled in Preparing Hearts for His Glory) and wonderful 3-paragraph non-fiction pieces (another Scholastic resource).

And here is my favorite shot of the week. Yes, gum is allowed at Lighthouse Christian Academy, as long as it doesn’t interfere with learning or speaking. Rose recently learned to blow bubbles and I snapped this just in time! Gum chewing also seems to help the girls focus sometimes and curbs the urge to snack. I’m curious, do you allow gum chewing?

I have my own space at our school table. We’re learning in my MOPs group this year about how life is a beautiful mess and our homeschool is no exception. I am fairly well organized, but the actual process of teaching three little girls often looks quite messy. I’m beginning to think the bigger the mess, the more learning occurs. My struggle is getting things cleaned up afterwards, but I’m getting much better at it!

So how was your week? 
I’d love to hear about your ups, downs, and in-betweens!

Week in Review: November 11-15

First off, there is only a little time left to vote for Grace-Filled Homeschooling for Best Encourager Blog over at the Homeschool Blog Awards hosted by The Homeschool Post! There are lots of other blogs to vote for as well in many wonderful categories. Don’t forget to take time to vote for your favorites! 

We also got to have a very unique field trip this week with our sweet friend Diego who is going through chemotherapy for cancer. Click on the picture to read more about that. 

Here is a bit of what we did this week for school…

Little Hands to Heaven: Unit 28

We’re getting very close to finishing up Grace’s Little Hands to Heaven curriculum. This week we worked with W and she loved the poem which was done to the tune of Jesus Loves Me. This is her absolute favorite song and so learning our rhyme for the week was easy. We’re still mostly doing tracing, but will be moving to more formal handwriting soon.

Grace is doing amazingly well with her reading lessons. The only problem is she thinks she can read absolutely anything now and gets frustrated when I try to gently tell her what word is correct. I’m grateful she enjoys reading and am grateful to have three girls who love the written word!.

The older girls have a class on Wednesdays. Grace and I are really enjoying our time together. We usually do her lessons in the living room and this has been a very special time for us.

Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory: Unit 10

Beth does not have a formal vocabulary curriculum for 1st grade, but I like for her to use vocabulary worksheets from a couple of different scholastic e-books. She especially enjoys the word ladders.

We continue to study the Pilgrims for history. This has turned out to be absolutely wonderful timing with Thanksgiving coming. The first time I worked through the Beyond guide with Rose I felt like the Pilgrim portion went on  for a really long time. I don’t feel that way anymore and I appreciate the great detail put into knowing more about the Pilgrims. I was even more grateful after I found out some of my girls’ friends in traditional school are not studying any history.

I just love how Heart of Dakota bring my girls along in their walk with the Lord. In just 10 units Beth has gone from feeling as if she can’t possibly understand what a Scripture is saying to openly discussing a short verse or two with me, even asking some of her own questions. Discipleship is so very important and I’m thankful to have the resource I do with these guides.

This week Beth wrote her paragraph about singing. She did a great job and then drew a picture of singing birds. In her paragraph she added that she really enjoyed singing Amazing Grace. We heard a song this week on the radio which is fairly new but has the words, “Amazing Grace,” in it. She got very excited and said, “Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Is that the same amazing grace I like to sing about?” What a fun conversation which led to about how God’s grace is for everyone and it is the same for us all.

Preparing Hearts for His Glory: Unit 6

Although we did seem to find our stride last week we are still adjusting to the pace of this guide at full-speed. It is where we need to be as Rose is definitely ready, but keeping everything on track is a moment-by-moment task. Rose has very much enjoyed our study of the Ancient Egyptians. She said to me more than once this week how sad it was that they thought there were so many gods and weren’t interested in knowing the One God who is true. Hieroglyphics have been enjoyable to study and she even wrote Deigo a note in hieroglyphics for him to decipher with a key she made.

We have continued to work through our new vocabulary curriculum, Vocabu-Lit and I have found this to be a favorable change over Wordly Wise. Rose has also said how much she is enjoying this change.

A fun activity each day for Rose is her history notebooking. She enjoys art so very much and this week she drew the Sphinx and Joseph using Draw and Write Through History. She is very precise and the only trouble I ever have for this assignment is when she becomes frustrated at the lack of perfection in her art. She is, however, becoming more patient with herself every day.

Week in Review: November 4-8

This week has been good…just so amazingly good! Not only has our week been incredibly fun, I was surprised with a nomination for Best Encourager Blog for the Homeschool Blog Awards hosted by The Homeschool Post! Wow! I was shocked, humbled and really, really excited! What excited me most wasn’t so much the nomination, but knowing I was meeting my purpose. When I started out blogging it was with the full intention of encouraging other homeschooling families. If you were the one who nominated me, can I just say, “Thank you?” I’d love to give you a hug and speak to you in person, but I can’t. I may never even know who you were, but know this was a great blessing to me.

You can vote for my blog and your other favorites in the other categories once a day through November 18 on multiple devices, so make sure you pop over there to show your favorite blogs how much you love them!

I’ll be honest, writing my weekly updates has not been very exciting for me this year. I’ve been highlighting the best moments, but it has simply been a struggle because we just couldn’t seem to get into our groove. I know there is an adjustment period at the beginning of every year as you begin new levels and challenge your kids in new ways, yet no matter how hard I tried, we seemed to be getting nowhere. After some evaluation and discussion I decided to start our days earlier and consistently, more in line with what we had done in the past. The complete turn-around was quite amazing to behold.

Little Hands to Heaven: Unit 27

Grace is finding that learning to read is quite easy, and this week she figured out she could read words in books other than her reading book. How fun it was to have her run up to me and say, “Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! I just read is!” It is pure joy to see these learning moments with my girls.

Grace was thrilled to have her sisters join her in some of her Little Hands to Heaven activities this week. We talked about how if God takes care of the flowers we can trust He will take care of us. They pretended they were flowers growing through the seasons. It was so sweet for them to join in with her!

 On this day Grace insisted on being Hello Kitty. She’s so funny! Rose also was eager to be teacher this week. She helped Grace with some of her About 3 workbook pages and I think they both enjoyed this quite a bit.

We have very much enjoyed the ABC Bible Verse devotional. I like the questions at the end and the discussions we’ve been able to have. I’m constantly amazed at the depth of understanding even little children can have of deep spiritual truth. Part of this is because they do not question as we grown-ups tend to do. My children are a constant reminder of what child-like faith should really look like.

I love how Little Hearts for His Glory helps me make sure I cover all the typical preschooler skills. Maybe I should know these things intuitively, and sometimes I have already done the suggestions or variations of them, but knowing I have something to make sure I don’t miss anything gives me great peace of mind. This week she spent some time sorting. We used our Nature Blocks to practice sorting. She really enjoyed this!

And here is what my other two sweeties do being so very diligent while I teach Grace! They never even knew I snapped this shot. It is a great blessing to be able to assign my girls’ tasks so I can work with Grace with more focus. I won’t pretend it’s always this easy, but it really is more often than not.

Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory: Unit 9

Beth adores old-fashioned readers. She zipped through the Dick and Jane reader from her great-grandmother last year and Grandma found a book called Busy Times from Rod and Staff which she is using now. We are still doing the emerging reader’s path, but she really wanted to read with this so I’m letting her. I am using the opportunity to help her with narrating skills.

Beth likes our poetry study each week and really likes putting it in order now. This was not something she liked at first, but now she looks at it like a puzzle. It really is a fun way for her to think about the poetry.

This week I also started working with Beth on learning to write paragraphs this week. She did a great job writing about a classroom rule we have: Always work diligently. She wrote two sentences after her topic sentence and I am very pleased with her work!

She finished up All About Spelling Level 1 this week and is incredibly anxious to move on to level 2! She was actually a bi disappointed when I told her she was going to have to wait until next week.

For history this week we are continuing on with the pilgrims. Rose became really excited when I started explaining the history activity to Beth. “Oh Mommy! I remember that! It was so much fun!” You see, this is my second time through Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory. It makes me really happy Rose remembers things we did from two years ago and remembers enjoying them!

The activity centered around following north, south, east, and west directions to reach a basket of corn. I made out the grid and Rose gave the directions. Both girls had fun and did a great job!

Beth also really, really enjoyed the Bible activity. Just like the pilgrims persevered building a new life for themselves in North America, Nehemiah also persevered in rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem in spite of obstacles and individuals trying to stop them. We played a game where Beth would build a wall, three blocks high. I would slap the floor 10 times and start tearing down the wall until she made a trumpeting sound. We played until she was able to build the entire wall. We talked about how much harder it was to build this way and how much perseverance Nehemiah and the Israelites must have had.

Here I am drawing the grid for the map activity. Silly Beth grabbed my camera to take a shot of me writing. She loves photography and wanted to take some shots like I always take of her!

Preparing Hearts for His Glory: Unit 5

We are officially full-speed! Yay!!!!! It took a while, but with our minor scheduling change we breezed through unit 5 at full-speed. This made Rose incredibly happy because she has been complaining we aren’t doing enough history each day! She is really enjoying Draw and Write Through History.

Here is her picture of a pyramid. My little artist really loves this! I especially like how she gave the sky a sunset look.

Rose is now working on three paragraph writing assignments. This week her topic was about uncommon weather events. She wrote about a couple of years ago when it snowed. She is now very intent on seeing snow this year. Our area of the south is hit or miss, so I’m hoping she’s right!

Rose was so happy to be reading Grandfather’s Box once again. She is doing really well with her narrations as well. I have to admit I was pretty excited as well. This is such a great addition to our history and I understand why she is so excited!

Rose really showed patience with her sisters. I appreciate giving her opportunities to help teach them. I don’t do this often, but I may let her help out a little more as it seems to be something at which she is quite good.

So, overall, an excellent week. I can’t wait to write the post about our art projects! They turned out beautiful!