A Peek at Our Week: June 1-5

We had a really fun week! School was great, but the real fun began when my sister-in-law surprised the girls by bringing their cousins to visit!

First off school…

Little Hearts for His Glory: Unit 16

Grace almost always wants me to allow her to read her history on her own now. She can always narrate to me about what she read so I’m allowing it to encourage her independence. I still read to her, but I appreciate that she wants to learn! This week we learned about Christ’s resurrection. While she has been told this beautiful truth from history from the time she was first born, it is always meaningful no matter how many times we hear it.

Grace like her older sister loves our old Dick and Jane reader my husband’s grandmother gave us. She thinks it is so much fun! She’s close to finishing this book and I think she will find it sad. I’ve looked at getting more of these old books, but they are a bit pricey on ebay so I’m hoping to stumble upon some at a book sale sometime.

She’s moving along quite well with All About Spelling. Teaching three different levels isn’t as hard as I expected! I’ll chat more about that later, but for now if you are looking for what to follow up with for your phonics instruction I think All About Spelling is the best choice. It take what your kids learned with phonics and helps them reverse the process while learning to spell and solidifying what they learned. My older daughters are both reading 3-4 grade-levels high with excellent comprehension and feel their solid phonics and reading instruction through the Heart of Dakota Emerging Readers set.

Bigger Hearts for His Glory: Unit 27

Beth is doing really well with her cursive handwriting. She is now working towards writing on her own in cursive without having a model. It is a process through which I have learned to be patient. I’m very pleased with how well she is doing as she finishes up 2nd grade.

This is her picture after studying imagery within poetry this week. She very much enjoyed this assignment!
Beth looks bored here, but she really loves math. Honestly, she may be a bit bored too! She’s coming to the end of her curriculum and as we study money she is probably finding it a bit tedious. This is the girl who watches the purchases ring up, asks how much we are giving the cashier and tries to figure out the difference before the change comes up on the little screen. Yeah, she’s math-minded! 
Creation to Christ: Unit 10

Rose is really enjoying this guide. It wasn’t a huge jump for her from Preparing and we didn’t even have to start at half-speed like I did with Bigger and Preparing. She really likes learning about ancient history. We talk a lot about what other cultures believed and why. 
For a girl who doesn’t love math, Rose loves long division. Who knew? Somehow all those multiplication facts which couldn’t seem to stick suddenly make sense to her and she really likes it. She’s doing quite well and we’re just moving right along. We aren’t even needing to take the lessons at half-pace anymore. I think one of the biggest reasons is she received and enormous boost in confidence when she received her standardized testing scores which showed she is working 2 grade levels higher. She suddenly brightened up and math isn’t quite so bad any more!
She’s recently discovered the Little House books and is almost finished with her second one. I’m moving her own to a new series soon and allowing her to read these on her own time. I love how she is drawn to these books, but I try to expand her exposure to different types of literature and authors. She tends to focus in on one and devour everything in that genre or by a particular author so I feel it necessary to help her branch out. 

If you follow me in Instagram you’ll see this hashtag quite a bit. My girls are all working in different guides at different levels, a true one-room schoolhouse. Yet one of my favorite blessings on homeschool is how much learning takes place together. Here are a few pictures of that taking place…

This is what my desk looked like during spelling one day. All three levels of spelling at once. Yikes! I do the main instruction separately and then call out the words. Sometimes we do this separately but on this particular day I tried out juggling the three levels at once. It actually worked quite beautifully. I’m training them to put their pencils down when they are done writing what I have called out so I am cued to give them another word or sentence but they at the same time do not distract their sisters by talking out loud. So far it is working and although I won’t always do three at once, it is sort of fun when I do!And now for the visit! We had so much fun having family here. My sister-in-law was my roommate in college and we are very close. It is always refreshing to spend time together and it is so much fun to see our kids playing together. 

First the surprise! 
Then the fun!
They stayed from Tuesday through Thursday and it was a really fun diversion during the middle of our week. 

Week in Review: May 25-29

We had a great week! Our week began with a field trip to a Science Center which gave us a great start. I’m planning on more field trips this summer and will blog about them all!

Lessons went really well and we had some fun almost every afternoon at the pool!

And when we weren’t playing, here is what we were learning…
Grace: Little Hearts for His Glory Unit 15

Rod and Staff is the best for thinking skill type workbooks. I’ve used them with all three of my girls and all three have loved them. Grace  is in the G book. She began with these when she was 4 and we have just moved through them steadily. She has gotten to the point where she will read the directions ahead to herself, so I have to watch her and make sure she is doing it correctly! She sometimes has trouble identifying some of the pictures as the words intended for activities such as rhyming. It’s been a neat way to introduce her to some things we don’t have around our house as well as synonyms. 
My little girl isn’t so little anymore! Look at her being all grown up and working on 1st grade word problems for math! I am not one to rush my children in their academic abilities, but neither am I one to hold them back. My little smarty pants was begging for more math so I tried out 1st grade an I’m so glad I did. She is learning at her own pace and just moving right along so smooth like a hot knife through butter. 
She’s seeming rather bored with our Abeka readers. Maybe bored isn’t the right word, but Grace is definitely not being challenged. I believe we will be starting with the Emerging Readers from Heart of Dakota. We may skip the Bible which comes first because she has read this over and over both with our family devotions and during her afternoon quite time. 
Beth: Bigger Hearts for His Glory Unit 26

Do you remember how much I said my girls loved their Rod and Staff ABC books? Well Beth is finished up one this week. I intended her to only use them through 1st grade but when Beth figured out there was a new one, she begged me to buy it! She spent some time finishing up her last workbook this week. I find it really sweet that she loves them so much. 
Math is always easy for Beth, but she has recently begun making hasty mistakes. What I mean by that is she knows what to do, but does not take the time to carefully make sure she isn’t making errors. I’m working to correct this with her by making her redo the problems she misses. We’ll see how quickly she moves past it. 
History! We have moved on to the Civil War. One of our next field trips will focus on this time during history, especially slavery. Beth is more familiar with slavery because of our previous field trips and listening to the discussions I’ve had with Rose over the last couple of years. This week we looked at the states which sided with the Confederacy as well as some of the things which led to the war. 
Rose: Creation to Christ Unit 9

We are very much enjoying Write With the Best. I’ve seen some threads recently that some do not like it. I have not come across anything I dislike yet as we are about to finis up unit 2 this coming week. I also am looking at it from an English teacher’s perspective. I love how classic writing is analyzed and then used as a model for her own writing. She still has some editing to do, but I will share her completed piece next week.  
Math is flowing along swimmingly! We started long division like it was an afternoon spring breeze. That’s right, believe it or not, my Rose said to me, “Wow Mommy! This is pretty easy!” How sweet and beautiful those words were to me after the many struggles we have had. I cannot attribute this to anything except prayer, patience, and finding a math program (through prayer and patience!) that really works for us. 
One of the reasons I don’t have as many pictures of Rose this week is that my little studious worker got up early two days and began doing her schoolwork while I was getting ready for the day. Having a checklist and giving my girls access to it has allowed them to be independent which is great. 
And now for my favorite photo of the week…
This is pretty normal study habits around our house. Beth especially loves reading outside on our front porch. Grace has also been begging me to read her history alone most days. How beautiful is this? Here are my girls studying together independently. Our one room schoolhouse is just beautiful. 

Week in Review: May 4-8

Happy Mother’s Day to you all!

We had another good week although we got a little off track towards the end. Some unexpected doctor’s appointments came up and we had to compact our days a bit at the end of the week. I also only remembered to get my camera out one day, just so you don’t think my kids wear the same thing every day or something!

Before I go into our week…how about a giveaway?!?!?! Just click on the CD cover below to see how delightful this CD is! (You’ll also get to hear my three darlings sing!)

Now me as we review our week!

Little Hearts for His Glory: Unit 14

Grace begged me to read her history this week. She reads aloud which is good because I can make sure she is understanding what she is reading. Her favorite story this week was when Jesus had the children come to Him even though His disciples said He was too busy. This is such a good reminder for me too. In the busyness of our days I can’t forget that Christ made children His priority and made sure they knew it. I need to follow His example in this more fully.

Rose helped Grace with her handwriting on this day, helping her make sure she formed her letters correctly. We still love Fundanoodle and Grace is much happier now that we are moving more quickly. I would have her practice the same letter more than one day in this book at first because she needed shorter amount of practice in order to stay neat, but she has matured past this and does one letter every two days with Handwriting Without Tears on the in-between days.

We are moving right along with All About Spelling, level 1. She reviewed her phonograms herself some and did a great job with that, so we moved onto segmenting words by each letter. Well be moving on to actually using the tiles next week which she is very excited to do.

Bigger Hearts for His Glory: Unit 25

Since we had to catch up some during the week Beth read this history assignment by herself. She loves finding each of the numbers on the map in the Journeys in Time book for each reading. This is her favorite of the history books.

 Beth does not care to read A First Book in American History herself so she will often color a colonial coloring book while I read to her. I’m fine with her coloring or drawing while I read as long as she can accurately tell me what I read to her afterwards. If she cannot, then she has to read it on her own again and then tell me about it.

I love this picture. Beth twirls her hair all the time while she studies. This is just her normal thinking state. She also tends to pace while she recites verses for homeschool or for Awana at church. She’s very studious these days and works hard to finish quickly most of the time, which is nice as I think ahead to Preparing next year and the big jump it is to that guide.

Creation to Christ: Unit 8

We started off the week with Arithmetic Village and King David Divide to practice more division and learn about remainders. These sweet little books teach the concepts behind the traditional math so clearly. Rose is 9 and I wasn’t sure she would want to use this, but when I asked her she was really excited.

Rose still completed her Math Mammoth pages. I’m very excited that she finally realizes she is not “bad” at math. This has been something I have been trying to help her understand since we started homeschooling in 1st grade. Because she struggled with the pressure of timed tests she believed she wasn’t good at math. At some point in the last couple of weeks she looked up at me during her math lesson and said, “Mommy, maybe I really am good at math. What do you think?” Oh yes, sweetheart! You are very good at math! I’m so grateful she has finally realized her ability is not measured in a timed test.

For story time this week Rose read the Book of Ruth. We used I Am Ruth, an incredible book from New Leaf Publishing which includes amazing photography as well as cultural and historical background information on each chapter. The entire book from Scripture is included. I had Rose look at the pictures before she read the chapter and she really enjoyed it.

I love, love, love how independent Rose is becoming through Heart of Dakota. I still oversee her learning and we discuss what she is learning, but as a 9-year-old 4th grader she is becoming more and more in charge of her own knowledge. I’m merely a facilitator. What is really cool is that she now knows how to find out information on her own when she has a question. She understands to look words up in a dictionary, information in an encyclopedia, and even more details in resource books using the index. What is even better is that it is her idea to look things up instead of just asking me the answer. I’m more than happy to help her, but seeing her mature in this way because of Heart of Dakota is such a blessing.

Here is our history project for the week. She loves the projects. Rose parted the red sea with paper. I love that I just give her the guide and the materials and she can usually figure it out on her own. Learning at its best! 

I had some great health news this week as I anticipated the possibility of another thyroid surgery. It was heavy on my mind and made it hard to focus. I also had some news about a good friend that grieved my heart. Our neighbor from Florida and one of my students when I was teaching full-time early on in our marriage lost her baby unexpectedly a few days ago from either SIDs or a medical complication. My heart grieves for this family. If you have a moment, pray for this family as they grieve the loss of their beautiful baby girl, Ella.

Week in Review: April 27-May 1

Two weekly reviews in a row feels great! This week went very well. We didn’t get through quite everything I wanted to and got a little sidetracked by some some health issues, but I feel good about the week. We had some really neat experiences in addition to our regular lessons I’ll share at the end.

Little Hearts for His Glory: Unit 13

Grace thoroughly enjoys all of her history, Bible and poetry in her guide. She really likes having her own readings and focused attention at her own level. We will continue through the summer and probably start Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory in the fall even if we haven’t finished Little Hearts.

For handwriting we are using Fundanoodle. This is a program I reviewed with The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew a couple of years ago and we absolutely loved it. It has the same type of feel as handwriting without tears, but is more affordable. I love that Grace builds the letters on a magnet board before writing them. She has worked through all of the upper case letters and is now doing lower case. My younger two daughters both used A Reason for Handwriting, which was good and did the job, but I really like the tactile nature of this program. She uses this one day and then practices the same letter in the Handwriting Without Tears book the next day.

For reading Grace is using the 1st grade readers from Abeka and a Dick and Jane book her great grandmother gave her. She loves the stories about Dick, Jane, and their little sister Sally. She actually likes it better than the Abeka books. If I could find more Dick and Jane reasonably priced I would probably just stick with that. After we get done with the 1st grade readers we’ll move onto the Emerging Readers set from Heart of Dakota. She could probably handle them okay now, but I like the idea of building her retention and comprehension before moving onto those too quickly.

Since she is reading really well, I let her call out sentences to Beth this week for her dictation in All About Spelling. She really enjoyed this and felt quite grown up. Her older sisters quite often help her with various subjects so this was a nice change for her.

Bigger Hearts for His Glory: Unit 24

We only have 10 more units left in Bigger! I may just do the history activities when summer comes because I want to start Preparing as she is entering 3rd grade. She may only go half-paced as her older sister did, but I feel she is definitely ready to move ahead in the guides.

As Beth has progressed I am encouraging her to read some history on her own as well as do some of the activities with little guidance from me. I now give Beth the guide and she works on her timeline alone. She is free to ask questions or ask for help, but this is one way I am helping her become more independent.

This week we had to catch up with four units on the timeline. Sometimes this box gets left out, but it’s something I always make sure to go back and catch up all the way. She has very much liked reading Stories of Great Americans and she can easily read and comprehend this book. I like giving her the freedom to read on her own although I do still read it to her sometimes.

Isn’t this the best picture???? We are working on math. Ha! The thing is that both girls are doing well with math, even Rose who has struggled some in the past. They weren’t upset or anything, just a bit tired and ready to be done. But hey, I felt the same way they did at this point that day!

Creation to Christ: Unit 7

Although it is a little strange to have started this guide mid-year, it’s working out well. The level of work has increased, but not too significantly. Rose really likes the notebooking pages and has done well to transition to using cursive all the time. She forgets sometimes, bu these erasable pens recommended in the forum and facebook group have been excellent. She loves having a special pen just for her to use.

Here she is listening to the “What in the World?” CD by Diane Warren. She absolutely loves this and I’m excited that she’ll get to use the next 2 CD sets in the upcoming guides.

I love learning about grammar, but I never expected my kids to! I’m so thrilled they love it. Yes, Rod and Staff can be a bit tedious, but the more you can do aloud, the better. I usually leave the written work for diagramming. I know diagramming can seem old fashioned and unnecessary, but I do see a benefit in being able to identify and classify the part of a sentence not only for school studies but for language study in the future. I don’t know what language she will study, but when she does having a solid grammar base will help her tremendously.

Other exciting opportunities…

I know other families have the same opportunity to do fun stuff that we do, but I think it is sometimes a little easier to fit into our lives because we homeschool. Here are some fun things we did this week.

This week was the Deerstream Learning Center Art Show and Exhibition. Each students has several pieces of art showcased. These are just a couple of pieces my girls had in the show. Grace is very excited to be a part of this next year. 
Another really cool thing is that these…
Hatched into these! 
This has been an amazing observational experience for them! They check on the little babies daily and have named them. They are at ground level inside an old plastic filing cabinet and easy for the girls to see without disturbing the chicks or their mama. 
Our final really cool experience was skyping with my aunt while she was in Haiti. My aunt takes a yearly trip to Haiti and works with a school there. We arranged for the girls to Skype with students in the second grade class there. They sang Jesus Loves Me and the girls sang Amazing Grace. We showed them around our schoolroom. It was really cool! 
I also enjoyed International Scrapbook Day and purchased some digital scrapbooking supplies on sale and completed a few layouts. This is one of my favorite leisure activities. I love preserving our family memories and I like the creativity of scrapbooking. I’m working on our 2008 album so Rose and Beth are quite little! Grace was a little confused that she wasn’t in any of the pictures, but very much enjoyed seein gher big sisters at play. 

So there was our week. Pretty smooth and lots of fun!

Week in Review: January 5-9

Oh the first week after break…glad we’re back at it, but I couldn’t help but feel like I needed a vacation to recuperate from our vacation! Anyone with me? But, we persevered and got a good start in the new year.

Preparing: Unit 31

We are so close…so close…to finishing up this guide. I can’t help but feel a little anxious to get to the end. I always feel this way. Sometimes I forgo the last few units if I feel like I just want to move forward, but I’m not doing that this time. Preparing is such a sweet guide and we are both enjoying it immensely. Here she’s reading about Peter the Great. We had to catch up from the previous unit learning about Shakespeare because our library had it at the beginning of the year, but not anymore when I needed it! I save a lot by using what our library has from the HOD books, but every once in a while I run into a situation like this. No biggie though. I hopped onto the ABE Books website and snagged a copy.

 History vocabulary was once a pain to get through for various reasons. This year I’m letting Rose define what words she already knows aloud and only write out the ones she doesn’t know. She likes this and does well with it. She still has to write her sentences, but this is working to keep her on task.

One of the things Rose is enjoying this year is writing poetry based from the Robert Lewis Stevenson poems we are reading each week. This week was supposed to be a multiple paragraph writing, but she chose to do a poem instead which was really liked.

Bigger: Unit 13

I really, really wanted to be to unit 17 by Christmas, but since that didn’t happen I’m letting my original plan go and be okay with that. I’m really good at planning and not so good at keeping the plans loose. But Beth is doing great and doesn’t care one bit we’re behind where I’d planned to be so I’m taking her lead in that! She had some grammar tests to finish this week that I thought she had done before Christmas, but hadn’t checked yet because of kids coming down sick and distracting me! No big deal to her though. She sort of sighed when I told her, shrugged her shoulders and carried on.

Dictation has been going quite smoothly…until right now. Beth suddenly got stuck on one particular set and we spent an entire week on it! Now we’re past it and she’s fine. Whatever mental block she faced, she overcame and I’m grateful she persevered!

Sometimes I feel a little jealous of Beth. Math makes so much sense to her and she easily handles new concepts and ideas. She loves nothing more than to work on new math concepts, as long as it doesn’t take too long! This week she’s working on geometry and building shape patterns with smaller shapes. Think pattern blocks, but for older kids. I found an app for my iPad which she enjoyed using to complete the pattern assignments.

My oldest girls really work well together and do a good job of staying on task for the most part. They have their moments of being distracted, especially Beth. Her biggest challenge is wanting to play with her youngest sister. They like to chatter while working which can be distracting for Rose so I have to get creative and sometimes send one or both out of the room to work alone. She hates this, so it is quite the incentive to settle in and focus!

Little Hearts: Unit 2

Well, after several months of waiting, Grace is finally in Little Hearts for His Glory! The first time I taught this was in 2008. I’m looking forward to this third time around and Grace is even more excited to have history and activities just like her big sisters. This is a picture of her working on her poetry for the week which she thoroughly enjoys.

This little girl is such an avid reader! She is working through the 1st grade readers for Abeka, but she’s charging through chapter books like crazy. Magic Tree House, Imagination Station, American Girl…she just can’t get enough of the written word and it makes my heart smile. She doesn’t always understand a word, but she’s quick to come and ask without being frustrated. Her older two sisters didn’t accept help as easily and I see so much benefit in her easy way of handling both questions and corrections.

When we’re done with her work for the day she begs for more, so to keep her occupied I pull out one of the many fun learning games I’ve collected through reviews, freebies, or friends who gifted them to us. This is one of her favorites currently, the Cookie Sheet Challenge for sight words. Such a fun and simple activity which is already helping her build spelling skills. You can click the link to see my review, but forgive the lack of pictures. All of the pictures from my older posts have disappeared. Boo!

Here is another fun activity. I have no clue where these little cards came from, but they are like puzzles that spell three-letter words. She loved doing this and it occupied her happily for about 45 minutes!

Okay, so there was our week. It was great and I’m glad to be done with the first week of the new year. I’m anticipating the year more now!

Week in Review: December 1-5

It’s been a while, right? Well my unintended break from blogging has ended. We’ve gotten past the really rough spot we were in getting work done happily and weathered a rather wicked cold. We enjoyed a wonderful visit from Grampy and Grammy from Florida, celebrated Grandpa’s (my dad’s) birthday, and had a delicious Thanksgiving feast! Oh, and we also spent a few days in Atlanta. So, now you see why I haven’t been around blogging!

JUST in time for Christmas I have an awesome giveaway to bless one of my readers with! My kids love Signing Time and they have a brand new Christmas collection just in time for the holiday!

Here is a little peek into just this past week. Maybe I’ll get some posts about our Atlanta field trips up soon!

Preschool:Finishing up…

So after Christmas I plan to have Grace begin Little Hearts for His Glory. She’s already handling Kindergarten math and 1st grade reading, so I’m certain she is ready. Honestly, she was probably ready a little sooner, but with the problems we were having staying on task and with a good attitude the last thing I wanted to do was add in another guide!

She’s been begging me to learn to tie her shoes so we pulled out the practice shoe someone gave to us a while ago. It somehow doesn’t seem possible that my littlest sweetie is old enough to be learning to tie her shoes…and be in Kindergarten! But she is, and I have to embrace it.

The big news for the week is Grace has finally mastered the correct way to write an S!!!! Yippee!!!! I have to admit the reason I am so happy about this is a little selfish. I’m not sure if you experience this or not, but at times when my girls have something academic they do not know or haven’t yet mastered I am given a raised eyebrow and the ever so subtle, “Is this something you are working on?” comment. I’m grateful these comments and looks don’t come from family, but they can be a little frustrating nonetheless. So, this is a personal victory of sorts.

Grace enjoys her end of books assessments in the ABC series from Rod and Staff. This week she said, “Is this like a test?!?!?” She thinks it’s great because she knows her big sisters take tests and so it’s just such a big deal in her mind.

My best moment with Grace this week was when she said, “Mommy, I love that you homeschool me because I get to hug and kiss you whenever I want!” Warms a mama’s heart!

Bigger Hearts for His Glory: Unit 10

We’re plugging away in Bigger Hearts and honestly it is so much easier. Nothing like completing a guide once before to make it seem like a piece of cake the next time around! Everything about school is easier with Beth. Maybe it’s because she’s heard it all before so it sounds familiar, or maybe that she isn’t quite the perfectionist that her older sisters is. Who knows, but I typically find her more laid back even if she is always asking when we’ll be done so she can go play. She’s started reading some of this history on her own by her request. I am happy to say yes most of the time because she is still comprehending and she’s moving forward with independence in her learning!

The girls did their vocabulary words on the same day this week…by accident. I accidentally had Rose’s guide turned a page ahead. Whoops! Anyway, they shared the dictionary and helped each other look for words, so maybe this happy accident will occur again!

Whenever I tell Beth it’s time for a timeline entry she bounces up and down and says, “Yay!” What more could I ask for? All my girls love history, but Beth seems to engage a bit more in the history right now. She loves early American biographies so Bigger has been a great fit for her.

This week I really started working with her on rhyme scheme. As an English teacher I really love how much literature is emphasized in the Heart of Dakota curriculum, especially poetry. My daughters are so very comfortable with poetry and I anticipate their ability to understand and analyze poetry to only increase as we progress. To begin their rhyme scheme instruction I teach them to highlight or underline the last words in each line of poetry which rhyme with each other in the same color. It is very simple and is a very visual way to see rhyming patterns. She loved it so much she begged me to go back and find the rhyming patterns in her previous poems! She didn’t really have to beg, but this is how she asked!

Last but not least, can I just say I am so happy that my daughters love grammar. I didn’t really learn to love it until my history of English class in college, but I did appreciate the order and need for it. I envisioned groans and complaints every time we cracked the grammar books, just like I experienced when I was teaching full-time. Not with these girls of mine! They love it and seem to enjoy picking out sentence parts. That’s what comes of learning in an environment without peer pressure to dislike some aspects.

Preparing Hearts for His Glory: Unit 28

My ever studious first-born rarely smiles in these pictures, but she really loves to have fun! Rose seems to separate school into a work-is-serious type of category. At least, that is how she wants to look when I’m snapping pictures! We talk a lot about diligence and the need to work this way each day. She made great effort this week to work diligently and also helped her sisters stay more focused. Such a sweet, grown up little 9-year-old!

This week Rose very much enjoyed our book-mark history project. I modified it a bit because I was concerned the original instructions would leave it too thick and break the binding in her Bible eventually. So we used 3 flat ribbons to mark sections in the Scriptures and she was so pleased she asked to make more for Christmas gifts!

Rose writes a 3-5 sentence narration (or summary if you aren’t familiar with Charlotte Mason terminology!) about one of the history readings each week. This weeks turned into a full-page! When I realized she had written so much I reminded her it didn’t have to be that long. She said, “Yes it did! There were too many things I needed to say!” I think I have a writer on my hands. Here is what her narration about the Aztecs…

The Aztecs were very civilized people. They had houses, treasure, and temples. Now the Aztecs were not Christians and they worshiped idols and sacrificed human beings to their gods. Cortes sailed to conquer them. The Aztecs thought that their ship was a bird that sent them from heaven. Cortes burned the ship so the sailors could not go back and then they started to shoot cannons which the Aztecs thought were lightening. But their leader offered him gifts. Then Cortes went into the temple to get their leader to become a Christian, but he wouldn’t, so Cortes captured him. This caused great fighting, but they were no match against shells and cannons. 

We had an excellent conversation about why what the Aztecs were doing went against God’s Word, but Cortes’ actions weren’t godly either. One of the things I’ve loved about Preparing Hearts for His Glory is how my daughter is encouraged to think critically on her own about the rights and wrongs in history. While we don’t delve into all the dirty and dark corners of the past, we touch on them enough for her to begin realizing how people sometimes do things in the name of God, without really doing them for that reason in their hearts.

We are taking our time reviewing the multiplication math facts. The first time around they didn’t seem to stick and higher level multiplication just wasn’t going to happen. I’m so grateful I paused and reflected before pushing her on to something which would cause greater frustration. As my husband is fond of reminding me, “This is why we homeschool, right?” I’m grateful for my man to remind me of this so faithfully!

I keep hearing that eventually all the spelling rules we are learning through All About Spelling and dictation will translate beyond spelling lessons. I’m still waiting for that to happen, but in the meantime, All About Spelling level four is going splendidly. Rose and Beth both typically remember the previous rules we have studied without pause. Grace will start this up in January as well…oh boy! Three levels of Heart of Dakota and three levels of All About Spelling! We’ll see how long my sanity holds out.

So there was our week. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway!

Week in Review: October 13-17

I could tell you this week was so much better than last week…but I’ll go ahead and be truthful. Honestly, the temptation is there to gloss over it, but seriously, this week was worse than last. At least I can pinpoint the reasons why and I have a plan in place for next week.

First, let me share why things fell apart once again, because I’m one to spend a lot of time analyzing the why of everything. The week why was easy: Daddy wasn’t around. We are incredibly blessed that my husband’s schedule allows us a lot of time together as a family and that he is an incredibly involved daddy! This week he attended a conference for our denomination (The Christian and Missionary Alliance) which was just a short distance away. That meant he was here, but only early in the morning and late at night. This seemed to totally throw them off emotionally. We did get to celebrate with him on Tuesday as he was recognized for 15 years in the ministry and that was fun. (The quality is horrid {translate via iPad} because I forgot my camera at home!!!!)

Since this was during a business meeting the girls did quite a bit of schoolwork during the meeting which was great, but that didn’t involve any of our Heart of Dakota history stuff because that definitely wouldn’t have worked! They quietly did history, math, reading, grammar, vocabulary, and probably a few things I’m forgetting. Then Daddy took us to a nice restaurant and things fell apart! I won’t go into details, but I’ll just say it wasn’t pretty and I was never so glad to be leaving an eatery.

So, after that, here are just a few pictures of what happened the rest of the week…it isn’t very exciting, but we made it through! Read through to the end to read my game plan for next week…

Grace: Preschool

A blog about how I do reading is going to be in the works soon because I get asked about it a lot. My girls are all three reading well above grade-level and I am blessed that we are not faced with many of the reading challenges I know so many struggle through. Grace is blowing me away with her reading. She is becoming more and more expressive and has even started changing voices for characters at times! She asked me on this particular morning if she could read to her polar bear instead of me which I thought it was just fine.

Just about the only other thing we did was her Rod and Staff E book. She did tons of pages in this. I usually restrict her to 3 a day, but since everything else was crazy if she asked to do more I said, “Sure!” The look on her face each time was priceless and I’m wondering if I should restrict her at all?

We did a little math, but not much to speak of and she’ll be moving out of those books really soon.

Beth and Rose: Bigger Hearts for His Glory Unit 7 and Preparing Hearts for His Glory Unit 25
I know this is totally not Heart of Dakota or Charlotte Mason-y, but we did almost all the history on one day this week. Don’t tell on me! Because of our crazy week I was okay with stalling some on other subjects, but really didn’t want to get behind in history. We mostly read and did oral narration this week. I’ll admit we skipped out on Bible, poetry, and all of the history activities. Those are really some of my favorite parts, but I feel okay about it because I’m not behind. 

We did get through the weekly vocabulary and I’m very pleased with both girls’ effort on this. I’m still helping Beth quite a bit with looking things up and I did the same for Rose this week since they were doing it simultaneously with only one dictionary.

This is a really fun picture of how school looks sometimes…underneath a table! Our L-shaped school desks often get sat underneath instead of at because the girls just want a change. If no one else is in the room Rose will quietly slip under the table without my even noticing sometimes.

The End of the Week…

The end of the week was quite sweet. On Fridays I teach piano lessons to three sisters very close in age to my own girls. They have become close friends over the last few years and my girls look forward to Fridays and their time together. They get along so well and we are so blessed to have them in our lives! For movie night the girls watched one of my childhood favorites, Muppet Babies, on YouTube and enjoyed a pizza.

Next Week’s Plan…

So, my plan for next week…prayer. Now before you tune out because it is what you always hear, just give me a minute. I have always, always, struggled to maintain a consistent time with God alone. While I’m striving to do better this year, I’m still not doing great, and although I should fall to my knees when my plans fall apart, I didn’t do that once this past week. I didn’t respond well at all and had a hard time regaining my own composure. When this is true, how in the world can I expect my girls to regain theirs? When my own temper flairs, my words to them to control their emotions mean nothing.

I’ve decided to take the advice I’ve given my girls. They have each committed their hearts and lives to Christ meaning the Holy Spirit is there to help them when it gets hard to live in a Christ-like way. I have encouraged them repeatedly to seek the Holy Spirit’s help to them stay calm, respond appropriately, and think of others first. Good advice right? I think perhaps if I had followed this advice myself we would have had a better week.

So next week will be a new week. In the midst of world-wide turmoil and fear abounding, we will have peace. We will have joy. We will have love. When learning happens in the process, that will just be the icing on the cake.

Week in Review: October 6-10

Well…the following pictures need a bit of a disclaimer. They look great…and in no way represent what this week was actually like. You see, I wasn’t snapping the photos of the crying, procrastinating, or storming off…I mean, I’m not trying to hide those things, but who actually takes those shots? I can’t pinpoint an issue exactly, just little things. There were some bad attitudes, a bit of disorganization on my part, and unplanned circumstances. We didn’t do anything new or difficult either, but boy am I thankful we get to start over tomorrow!


Grace actually had a really good week and was the easiest to teach! We worked with the letter O, which you would think is fairly easy to write, but we struggled a bit with this one. Partly because she wanted to hurry through it I think. We conquered capitol O however by the end of the week!

Reading is so easy for her now and we’re easing through the Abeka 1st grade readers to solidify her phonics instruction. Once finished with these we will begin All About Spelling level 1 to continue with phonics.

We started Rod and Staff’s level E book from the ABC series. It is hard to pace her through these books. She wants to do as many pages as possible, but I’m trying to limit her to 3 a day. When I let her do as many as she wants she tends to hurry and not really try for neatness which totally defeats the purpose. She doesn’t care to color much anymore in this book which is fine by me because she takes more time and is very careful when that isn’t in her mind for the future.

Grace loves reading with me on the couch. I’ve started doing her work mid-morning, around 10:00 am after I’ve had time to work with her sisters on history, spelling, and language arts. This has been a really good plan and is working great for her. Her sisters work in the school room independently and we enjoy a little cuddle.

Bigger Hearts for His Glory: Unit 6

Beth very much enjoyed her cursive book and we should finish it up this week. We’ll move into joining cursive letters together, probably with a book Rose worked part-way through a couple of years ago. She was excited to get to color van Gogh’s painting, Starry Night, since she studied it in her homeschool class last week. She took some liberties with the colors, but really enjoyed it!

She’s getting quite good at history vocabulary each week. She still needs some help looking words up, but it is mostly just because she gets frustrated from not being able to find the words quickly. Her sentences are really quite good and thoughtful. I sometimes think she is creating an entire story with her sentences!

Math…oh math…Usually this is the subject which Rose struggles to complete in a timely manner, but for some reason Beth just had trouble this week. We did have a new concept, but she quickly mastered the idea. For whatever reason she had a difficult time staying on task. We struggled through, however, and did get finished with all I had assigned last week.

The girls have been working on a model of Jamestown together while I read their history for a couple of weeks and completed it this week. It was a lot of fun for them to color and build together and a wonderful way to occupy their hands while they listened to their history readings.

Preparing Hearts for His Glory; Unit 24
We began multiplication last year. The concept was mastered, but memorizing the facts has been a struggle. We started back this week with studying the facts and will go through them over the next month. I love that with homeschooling I can do whatever I need to in order for my girls to succeed. Sometimes it means reviewing…
…Sometimes it means trying something new. In addition to the regular curriculum from Math Mammoth we are using Math Sudoku and Math Fun-Flaps from Scholastic to review the facts each day in addition to flash cards. It seems to really be helping and as we head towards more complex multiplication knowing the times tables will be vital to Rose. 
The Fun-Flaps are like those old-school fortune tellers. I remember playing with one once which a friend gave me. When I brought it home my parents explained why they did not want me to play with these from a biblical perspective, and so I didn’t, but boy were they fun! This is a really cool way to practice the facts and there is a type of word problem when you lift the flaps to further review. 
Math was a HUGE victory this week, but history was great too. We studied about the Dark Ages and Vikings. I wouldn’t say it was the most fun part of history, but it was incredibly interesting for both of us. Beth has enjoyed listening in. I’ve been keeping the girls separate until a couple of weeks ago as I read as suggested by Heart of Dakota, but his is working out best for us. 
The end of the week was super fun with family pictures! So, even if it was a little rough, we did have a great time with a wonderful friend who took pictures for us. Looking forward to a NEW week starting tomorrow and praying for it to be a FUN week instead of a thank-the-Lord-we-made-it-through week!

Week in Review: September 29-October 3

Another week is done…yay! We had a lot going on outside of homeschool, so it wasn’t exactly a stellar week, but we made it through and finished strong. Unfortunately, I’m behind on grading the girls’ work and getting next week’s lessons ready so guess what my Sunday afternoon will hold?

First off some highlights…

My husband ran in our local Chick-Fil-A 5K race and placed 10th overall and 1st in his age group. No, I didn’t run. I completely hate running, so while we enjoyed the race I have absolutely no motivation to join in! The girls had a blast with all the fun stuff to do while Daddy raced and our big news was the Grace is no longer afraid of the cows! This is huge…majorly huge! She’s been afraid of them since she was just an infant and yesterday she kept running around hugging all of the cows (I think there were 6!).

Our other big event was Grace’s 5th birthday! We had a family party like we always do with a Splash Mountain cake as requested by the birthday girl. We celebrated with my parents since Grace and my mom share a birthday. Fun, right? When Grace requested a Splash Mountain cake a few months ago I had no idea how I was going to pull it off, but it came out pretty great thanks to the adorable figurines I found cheap on Ebay!

And onto school news…the other stuff was more exciting, but most of you reading are much more interested in school than the other details I’m sure! We had a good week. Like I said, nothing really spectacular, but good nonetheless. I love these pictures of all three working studiously. It isn’t like this is what our day looks like most of the time, these are the rare moments and I love capturing them! Most of the time it is me sitting in that empty chair trying to answer questions while simultaneously teaching a completely different subject. I have figured out that my oldest two do better if I do the same subject at the same time with them. We do everything they need me right there for (History, grammar, spelling/dictation, poetry, Bible, etc) first and then what they can do fairly independently (math, literature, vocbu-lit, handwriting, independent history, etc.) afterwards. This has not only created a smoother morning, but given them greater incentive to get done sooner. If they don’t get finished before lunch they have to work after lunch which they prefer not to do.

Grace: Preschool

Grace and I used to do our work together first thing, but since I switched how we work with my older two, she does her lessons about 10;00 or 10:30. This seems to be working well for everyone. She doesn’t mind waiting and I feel less pull from my older girls needing me. This week we practiced writing capital H for handwriting. We use a combination of Fundanoodle and Handwriting Without Tears along with some traditional manuscript paper.

We got to move into the next Abeka reader this week and I like that we’re focusing more on reading comprehension. She sometimes likes to add to the stories or make up new stories with the pictures!

Grace also finished the D book with Rod and Staff. I’m trying to figure out exactly when to start Little Hearts for His Glory. I think she could actually handle it right now, but I don’t want to push too hard and it will be a jump for her to get used to more work, not to mention more for me! I want Beth to be a little more comfortable with Bigger Hearts before adding in another full guide. Who knows, maybe in a couple of weeks we’ll start out half-pace or maybe we’ll wait until January. I guess you’ll just have to stay tuned to find out!

On Friday I had a few things left for Grace to do so I let Rose be her teacher. Both of them loved this arrangement, at least for this one morning. We tried it once or twice last year and it failed miserably! It was really nice for this to work out particularly on this day because I had some things to finish up with Beth.

Beth: Bigger Hearts for His Glory Unit 5

Beth seems to relaxed and doesn’t even seem to mind the increased workload. I remember last year as we were finishing up Beyond Little Hearts she would sort of grump around with a bad attitude about it all. I guess this shows how ready she was for the jump! Vocabulary is especially an area I see her doing much better than expected. I’m still helping her find the words, but for the most part she does an excellent job without my help. The sentences are challenging and this week she forgot to use the word in a sentence, but wrote a sentence which was about the definition. They were great sentences though!

This history activities are her favorite part and sometimes Beth will ask to do them again on another day. This week she made a collage about wants vs. needs. The hardest part about this for her was acknowledging our pets were wants, not needs. It only came up because of the examples in the guide, but she did agree in the end they weren’t a necessity. She also had a hard time with clothes because she felt we don’t really need those, just wanted to have them. It was a great time to talk about modesty!

We do Bigger mostly in 4 days. On Fridays we complete a math lesson, a grammar lesson, dictation, a chapter for literature, and the timeline and notebooking page if they haven’t been done already. She gets soooooo excited about her timeline. She isn’t not typically into art, but enjoys drawing the miniature pictures. I think writing on the small timeline has really helped her handwriting!

This girl loves dictation and grammar. I have no idea what it is, but she gets so excited and says, “Oh goodie!” when I tell her it is time for either of these two subjects. Let’s hope it lasts!!!! (Don’t worry, I’m not going to be crushed when it doesn’t…)

Rose: Preparing Hearts for His Glory Unit 24

I’ve figured out we are hopefully going to be finished with this guide just before Christmas. It is going to be bitter-sweet saying goodbye to this guides. We have loved it so much, but I also know how great Creation to Christ is going to be! At least I have the pleasure of knowing we’ll hit Preparing 2 more times!

Rose has very much enjoyed the globe activities this year. We’ve been using a globe since Little Hearts for His Glory and this is the first year where I feel like she really gets continent placement and how to find stuff. Once again staying with the HOD way has paid off. Sometimes I wondered if she would ever grasp these ideas!

One of Rose’s favorite activities is diagramming sentences. When I tell her that is what we’re doing she says, “Yes!!!!” I love this girl!

Since I’m often calling out spelling or dictation while working on something with another of my daughter’s Rose will often draw on our whiteboard. This week she suddenly is writing beautifully and is being much more careful about her spelling and neatness. Now I’m just waiting for the breakthrough in math.

Rose really loves the timeline cards as well. I forgot to have her do them last week (oops!) so she had double this week. Even so, completing 6 cards didn’t seem to bother her at all. Her favorite was the Mt. Vesuvius card to remember Pompeii.

For me, this is what homeschooling is about…
…learning together. We may not all be learning the same thing, but we’re learning together, all in the same place, all with the same goal. It isn’t always pretty. Right now our school room is a disaster and I’m going to clean it up a bit after I’m done typing. But pretty or not, learning is happening and we’re growing together as a family as well as academically. 
How was your week? I’d love to hear about it!

Week in Review: September 22-26

We had such a great week! We enjoyed our bi-annual global focus week (think missions conference) so much as we learned about what God is doing in Japan. We made new friends and enjoyed fellowship with our church family for four days. It was a great time, but as you can imagine, the kids got worn out pretty quickly. We started off strong and got all of our work done the first two days, but I took a cue from the kids that they were getting really worn down, so we just stuck to history and literature for the end of the week.

Grace: Preschool

Grace is counting down the days to her 5th birthday! She’s feeling quite grown up and can’t wait to celebrate turning five. It’s bitter sweet watching my baby’s birthdays pass each year, but much more sweet since I am able to enjoy watching them grow and develop through homeschooling.

We focused on writing the letter I this week and she really liked this one because it was so easy and because it is in her name. We are not learning the letters in ABC order, but by style. Right now our Fundanoodle book is teaching the basic lined letters first. I think this is a really smart way to build their fine motor skills.

Grace enjoyed some time using our school-room computer this week. She can use this really well now and navigates to the approved websites with ease. It is a bit overwhelming how well young kids can use computers and the internet. We use their computer time to help them learn responsibility and teach rules of use as well as enjoy whatever learning games they are using.

Beth: Bigger Hearts for His Glory Unit 4 (2nd grade)

Beth seems to enjoy spelling and I think she is a natural speller as long as she is putting forth the effort. I don’t know what one child finds spelling easy while another doesn’t, but I’m glad for her sake it isn’t difficult. We’re over half-way through book two of All About Spelling and I can’t say enough how great this curriculum is.

Beth loved loved loved our history readings this week. We studied about Pocahontas! She wrote an excellent acrostic about her and just like her big sister the best part of the week was when she found out Pocahontas became a Christian because that meant she will get to see her in heaven one day.

We really enjoy the history readings. I feel badly for families who struggle through them, but so far we haven’t found them to be tedious at all. If you are in Bigger and finding the readings hard, try giving your child something to do. Right now my daughters are working on a 3D version of Jamestown, which goes along with Beth’s history at the moment. They are actively engaged in listening because they can answer questions, but they enjoy keeping busy while I read.

I didn’t get a picture of it, but she also passed the first level of Typing Tournament! She was so excited.

Rose: Preparing Hearts for His Glory Unit 23 (4th Grade)

Rose is so very close to passing the second level of Typing Tournament. She really enjoys it, but like with many things, gets frustrated when it takes her longer to complete than she wants it to. I think she is learning to take this much better this year and I’m happy to see her getting closer.

We took a look at Rome this week and the various cruel and not so cruel leaders. We learned about Pompeii as well and she was fascinated by this ancient city. I recently read a wonderful historical fiction book called City on Fire by Tracy Higley which is just excellent. It was like my own living book study!

I would not say Rose is a natural speller, but she is a determined student. She’s doing incredibly well as we enter into the fourth book from All About Spelling. She takes her time and really thinks about it. I’m finally able to see some improvement in spelling in other areas. Not always, but most of the time which is a huge thing for her!

Good week and I’m so thankful for the flexibility of homeschooling which allowed us to more fully enjoy our global focus week. Here we are enjoying one last meal with our new friends. 10 Points if you can guess what restaurant we were enjoying!