Week in Review: September 15-19

We had a really good week overall. Last year it took maybe 2 or 3 months to feel like we were in a routine. Even then it wasn’t a consistent routine for a lot of different reasons. I’m so grateful this year to God for good health as we start out this year. I know there will be bumps, but starting off healthy is just such a wonderful feeling.

Oh, and I have last week’s post, but completely forgot to share it anywhere last week! So you can click here to see what last week looked like.

Grace: Preschool

We are plugging away at our “preschool” curriculum which is actually kindergarten level work. She’s reading at a beginning 1st grade level and I found out by accident she already gets the concepts behind addition. She is flying through the the ABC series from Rod and Staff. To be honest, I think she could handle the work in Little Hearts for His Glory, but I want to make sure I’m ready to add in another guide! We’ll see how things go.

She completes her work so well and then I let her have some time on the computer, usually PBS kids. She likes having a little freedom to play and I love letting her. Our computer is used from a friend and we can set it so they can only go to particular websites. Recently she’s also been using Nick Jr.

We have some art projects from a preschool Abeka book that was passed down to us. They are super simple, but Grace loves them so we did one this week with her hand print and footprint! They didn’t exactly fit in either square.

My girls using Heart of Dakota guides!

They study well together and enjoy listening to each other’s history and read alouds. I’m so thankful for what I feel is an academically rigorous guide, but doesn’t feel academically rigorous to them. It just feels fun!
I give the girls the English tests from Rod and Staff and they just happened to both be taking one on the same day. That won’t usually happen, but they thought it was pretty neat!
Beth: 2nd grade, Bigger Hearts for His Glory Unit 3

This is by far my favorite picture of the week. Beth almost always goes outside to read her literature. Even when it is raining she’ll sit on our porch swing. Sometimes she doesn’t look very comfortable, but she always looks happy!
Going through Bigger Hearts for His Glory this second time has been a breeze. I’ve been trying to analyze why and I think it is because my Beth isn’t as hard on herself as Rose tends to be. I appreciate Rose’s desire to do well, but Beth’s easy going nature is making the whole process much easier. 
One thing Beth seems to really love each week is the timeline. She as introduced to this last year in Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory and was excited to start all over again. She also seems more interested in the history, however, it is partly due to my figuring out I needed to give her something to do. I figured this out with Rose, but not for several units in. Thankfully I remembered this at the start and so my second little sweetie benefits. Right now she’s working on a 3D village of Jamestown we snagged back when Scholastic was having a dollar sale. 
Beth has been really interested in biographies recently, even just for fun evening reading. This is a really neat biography series is brand new and we got the opportunity to review one of the titles! They are all about people from the Bible and incredibly engaging for my daughter. You can read my full review here!
Both of my girls have been faithfully working on their typing skills. Typing Tournament is what I recommend for anyone looking for a kids typing program. We reviewed this last year and several months later they still beg to play it even if I don’t plan to have them do it each day. Beth is doing great. She hasn’t passed the first test yet, but she doesn’t care because she keeps getting higher and higher scores making her more determined than ever to pass it. She loves the games and so does Rose. Grace is the only one frustrated by it because as 4, she’s just not ready. 
Rose: 4th Grade, Preparing Hearts for His Glory Unit 22

Rose is really enjoying school this year. Remember how I said before Bigger is easier because Beth is more laid back than Rose was when she went through the guide? Well I’m very pleased Rose seems to have relaxed a lot and genuinely is enjoying the process. We still have our moments where her perfectionism rears its ugly head, but they are becoming fewer each week. She is happier with herself and her accomplishments and tells me almost every day how much she loves homeschooling. She is why we started. Her intense nature and inward focus on her work was not a good fit for a traditional classroom. She is such a sweet girl and extends grace to those around her all the time. I’m so thankful she isn’t as hard on herself as she was in the past. 
For anyone just starting out on the Heart of Dakota Path who feels the writing is light, do not worry. I honestly felt the same way at the beginning, mostly because I didn’t fully understand that Heart of Dakota follows a Charlotte Mason methodology. Now that we are 5 guides into this program I am totally sold. Rose is becoming and excellent non-fiction writer and it is coming easily. It didn’t at first, but it has so far this year. I love her creative poems with inspiration drawing from our weekly poetry units. I’m really excited for the creative writing in Hearts for Him Through Time: Creation to Christ which we’re on track to start in January. 
She was seriously sitting like this thinking while we were working on her creative writing for poetry. I love that we’re talking about similes, metaphors, and personification. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love this curriculum and I fall more in love with it every week! 

And then my husband gave me this crazy awesome t-shirt! Icing on the cake for my week. Before anyone asks, I would LOVE to share the link with you, BUT it isn’t in the website anymore. T-Spring is the company and it seems to have been just a one-time thing. Sorry!

Great week at our house. It feels so good to say this, but honestly, I know very well what tough weeks look like. Take a look at most of my weeks in review from last year! I’d love to hear from you. How was your week? Good? Tough? Somewhere in between? Please share! 

Week in Review: September 1-5

Last week I started having trouble getting our computer to do what I needed it to, mostly read from a flash drive, and thanks to a good family friend he got it fixed for me! It was a little nice to be computer-free for a few days in some ways, but I was thankful to get it back as much of what I use is stored on this thing. 

Crazy week around here! I teach English one day a week to junior high homeschoolers and as class starts to gear up I have to once again restructure our days. The older girls also take a class while I teach so I have planned for this but our previous week and next week will be a little lighter than normal as we all get used to the new schedule. This isn’t even going to be a full week in review like I usually do and next week will be a little sparse as well.

Isn’t homeschooling great though? My kids still got quite a bit of content into their days even if it wasn’t the full-load. There is nothing wrong with doing less during a week which is intense and I’ve learned to be okay with not finishing everything on my checklist every single week. I am typically super disciplined with their schoolwork, so one or two weeks of light work is not a big deal.

Grace: Preschool

Grace is barreling through her reading books. Oh how fun it is to now hear her reading with intonation and inflection, not to mention voices for characters! I wish the picture had come out a little clearer, but you can see Grace asked if we could do her reading under a tent one day last week. She giggled the entire time we were building it and thought this was just so much fun. I barely fit, but she didn’t care. Rose is the one who grabbed my camera to take this picture. She’s so thoughtful and likes to capture “moments” just as much as I do!

She absolutely loves Fundanoodle! If you like the idea of Handwriting Without Tears, but feel like it is a bit too pricey, this is such a great option. We’re doing a letter each week, just like HOD suggests in Little Hearts, but using this along with a Handwriting Without Tears set which was gifted to us. Grace’s favorite part is the stickers!








Beth: Bigger Hearts for His Glory (Unit 2ish)

We went ahead and started Unit 2 in Bigger Hearts, but didn’t quite make it half-way through. She did do a lot of work in math, grammar, and vocabulary, all of which she enjoys. We’re finishing up a series of worksheets for vocabulary from Scholastic and then will move into Vocabu-Lit like her big sister. She always gets excited about grammar and just loves it. I’m so thankful because I know most kids don’t really love grammar! She finished reading The Littles and will The Storm next week. I’m really glad she’s past her, “I’m too little to read chapter books” phase. It didn’t make any sense to me because she has had this ability for over a year, but now she believes she can and it is making literature much easier to get through.

Rose: Preparing Hearts for His Glory (Unit 20, 1st half)

Rose has been doing great at full-pace in Preparing. I was the one who needed a half-paced week because of teacher meetings and preparation for teaching this coming week. Rose has such a sweet countenance and has been excellent in her attitude towards her school work. She helps make my day go more smoothly because she sets the tone well for her sisters.

We’re splitting up math into two different parts of the day which seems to help her feel less intimidated by it. She made the Christian fish out of apple sauce and cinnamon for the history project and it was beautiful! And then it fell and broke, so I promised we’d do it again next week. Like her sister she loves grammar and was excited to get to do some diagramming this week. She was pleased to find it was review instead of just adding in more new. She loves the history and I don’t blame her! Preparing has been my favorite guide so far, but each year I try a new one feels like it is better than the previous. Now as I am going back through them again with the younger girls I keep saying, “I just love this guide!” What a blessing to have a curriculum which engages me as much as my children!

I have been making bedtime reading a priority this year and it is going so well! We all love it. The girls have loved reading Winnie the Pooh and we are just starting The House at Pooh Corner. They asked if we could read the stories all over again once we finished. This is the sign of a good book! Such a good book filled with delightful passages, one of which I shall leave you with…

“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh?” he whispered.
“Yes, Piglet?”
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s hand. “I just wanted to be sure of you.” 

Week in Review: August 25-29

First of all….

Have you entered the contest yet?!?!?! Don’t miss out on your chance to win a really great book just for you! http://gracefilledhomeschooling.blogspot.com/2014/08/prelude-for-lord-giveaway.html

AND an awesome new giveaway is coming to you again on Monday!

I’m posting this week from my iPad, which is a new endeavor for me. Our computer is having some issues so while a friend is checking it out for us this is the backup. I love my iPad, but I’m seriously missing my nice big keyboard and screen! I can’t figure out how to make pictures smaller, so the foram will look a bit different. 

This week was good, maybe not as smoothe as last week, but good nonetheless. I started a morning meeting time over the summer. The experiment was a success and they have been asking me when we get to start again. I’m going to have to figure out how it will all work when we start with the homeschool classes my girls take which start up next week. We call it pahri mani conventu which means Lighthouse Morning Meeting in Latin. The girls love the name and have enjoyed the variety of things we learn about. Throughout the week we study a Greek or Latin root, study a painting, listen to classical music, sing a hymn, learn ABC Bible verses, study about an animal, read from Answers for Kids, and much more! One of our favorite things is reading from Grammarland by Edith Nesbit. This is a gem of a book which fits in quite well with the living book philosophy of Charlotte Mason and Heart of Dakota.

Grace: K4

Grace loves her lessons so very much. All of my girls have started their schooling with the same excitement and joy for learning. While this has waned somewhat as their work gets harder, they still love learning. Grace doesn’t yet feel the pressure of more work, so her energy and excitement is fun to watch. 



We are working our way through the alphabet for handwriting using Fundanoodle and Handwriting Without  Tears. My first experience with HWT wasn’t that great, but Grace seems to be doing well wtih it and it was given to us, so I’m utilizing what we have. 


Grace is flying through the Abeka readers faster than I expected. She is finishing up the K5 books and we will move right into the 1st grade level. Homeschooling allows such freedom with reading and I love that with both reading and math if we continue throughout the schoolyear then there isn’t need for long and tedious review. 


After her lessons are over Grace enjoys playing PBS kids on the computer. Daniel Tiger is a new favorite of hers. 

Beth: Grade 2, Bigger Hearts for His Glory Unit 1 (second half)

 We finished up the second half of unit 1. She enjoyed the history activities, Bible, and poetry which we worked on this week. I think she is probably ready for full speed, but we start our classes in 2 weeks and I’d rather her get settled into that routine before trying out full-speed the first time. 

                               

We are using the tactile handwriting cards from The Logic of English along with Classical Conversations Prescripts for cursive. She is doing great and is anxious to start stringing letters together. We’ll finish up individual letters in about 3 weeks. Then we’ll move onto some copywork I think. I have to still figure out what we’re doing for handwriting next! 

                              

Math continues to be an easy subject for Beth…almost too easy at times. What I mean by that is she has started getting rather careless in her work because she thinks she knows what she is doing, barreling ahead at times and not stopping to follow directions or really think about what a word problem is asking. This is something we are working through. It does help me personally to have both my older girls working on math at the same time so I can remain focused on just that subject. Math isn’t the easiest for me and having to change mindsets in and out of math did not go well last year. 



We practiced arranging the continents, locating the continents and oceans, and some other fun geography activities. Beth really liked working on writing out the continent and ocean names on her own. We also studied poetry and she told me she missed getting to guess the title of the poem’s name like she did in Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory. I told her we’d do that again for the next poem study. 

                                  

Beth did a great job studying her Scripture verses this week. It was a much longer passage than she was used to from Beyond, but she worked really hard and had it all memorized by Wednesday. We talked our way through the devotional questions. She understood about half of what was being asked, the rest we talked about. I’m okay if she doesn’t “get” all of it right now. Bible understanding is a process and while she has asked Jesus to be her Savior, I don’t expect her to understand it all yet. I’m pleased with her progress in this area. 


Here is the last bit of work we started this week. Typing Tournament is a really fun way to learn typing. I’m pleased that even though Beth is still working on the first level, she doesn’t mind that she has to keep practicing for the test. She told me she’s improving and was so happy about this! That matters a lot ot me. I want my girls to enjoy and appreciate the process of learning, not just look for high results. 

Rose: Preparing Hearts for His Glory Unit 19

Rose is doing great. I’m trying to encourage her to appreciate the process of learning like Beth seems to. She takes her work so very seriously. Part of this is just her personality, but I fear some of it is left-over from issues she had while in a traditional classroom. She does extremely well, but the littlest mistake makes her extremely discouraged. I’m trying once again to help her work through this and pray it will get easier for her one day. 


We did some of our reading outside since the weather has been so lovely. We’ve had a much cooler August than is typical here in the South. We have just loved Grandpa’s Box and I am certain Rose will be sad to stay goodbye to this lovely book in a couple of weeks when we are done with it. 

                                

Math is our big struggle area, but this seems to be going much more smoothly this year. I read a couple of great articles this week talking about brain growth and the need for mistakes. I wish I had known how to word this concept better to Rose early on in her education. It is the same sentiment I have tried to convey to her, but I think my words got in the way. I’m going to start doing this a little differently now. 


Research for the history project was fun this week! She looked up information about perfume and how it was made a long time ago. 


Then of course we got to make some perfume! This was so fascinating. We used rubbing alcohol as suggested and added a couple of cloves, a cinnamon stick, and a small bit of a vanilla bean. Now a week later it smells overwhelmingly like rubbing alcohol, but once you use it, that scent dissipates and what is left is just delightful. Wasn’t sure what to expect, but I’m happy with how it turned out and the lesson of how the alcohol pulls out the plant oils which old the scent. 


I stepped out of the room during spelling to deal with something else in the house and when I came back my sweet girl had a surprise for me on the board! She asked me to post it on my blog, so here it is! Rose is such a sweetheart! 


So that was our week…nothing really dramatic or overly exciting. It was simply a good, solid week of learning we can all feel good about in the end. I think those may be the best kinds. 

Here are the girls’ weekly reviews! The novelty has already worn off. Beth wanted to write, “I don’t know what to write.” I have no idea if this feature will continue…only time will tell!

Rose (9-years-old)
Beth (7-years-old)
Grace (4-years-old)


Week in Review: August 18-22

Phew! Week one down and many, many, many more to go. It was a great week, incredibly hectic, but great. I’m so proud of myself! I struggle immensely with keeping organized and especially keeping up with grading. Because I work from home for 2 1/2 hours every day I had to come up with a way to keep all this under control and I think I have found what works for me. I’ve tried several things including weekly grading (disastrous!), as soon as an assignment was finished (distracting!), and grading the following morning (Do I even need to say how horrible this was?). This past week I chose to do grading while my girls were having their alone quiet time and it is perfect. Grading was done promptly, I went any issues with my girls the following day before our lessons, and I am under less stress.

The Homeschool Helper App has been my best friend this week! I used it a lot last year, but I didn’t really utilize it to the maximum of it’s potential. I’m thrilled with how well it is working for me this year. I’ve also fallen in love with Motivated Moms all over again. My housework is getting done (mostly!) and there is a calm and peacefulness surround us because of it. If this is an area you need some help with, don’t hesitate to give both of these apps a try! You can click on these links (Homeschool Helper and Motivated Moms) to see my full reviews from last year. Yes, that is a cup of hot cocoa…I like to reward myself for a job well done!

Now, on to my girls’ week!

Grace: Preschool and Awaiting the Next Heart of Dakota Guide
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Grace has just blossomed with her reading. I first want to say I have not pushed my daughter into reading early; she wanted to…begged me to. I think it is imperative for parents to only teach reading when their children are fully ready whether 3-years-old, 8-years-old, or even later. Homeschooling provides such wonderful room for learning at correct pacing and I hope you embrace this as you walk your own journey.

Grace is reading through her big sisters Abeka readers from her year at Christian school and is doing great. She almost always forgets what the silent e does on her own, but as soon as I remind her to think about this rule she gets it. My only issue with her right now is she doesn’t see a need to read with me. She wants to do it all on her own, which clearly doesn’t work out well sometimes.

We are using Fundanoodle for handwriting this year. I reviewed it last year and fell in love with its structure and format. We will also be using some Handwriting Without Tears workbooks. I’m not quite as big of a fan of this one, but a dear friend gave us the entire set which she no longer wanted. I’m all about utilizing free! It is good and goes well with Fundanoodle’s structure.

For math we are using the old books from Singapore which are out of print. We do not have the ones used in the HOD guide and I’m not sure what I’ll use for K5 math when she is done. I’m considering Fundanoodle for this as well.

All three of my girls loved the Rod and Staff ABC series. Grace finished up Book C and is soooooo excited to be on Book D now!

For Bible we are using Rod and Staff’s Bible story book and coloring book. Grace loves this as well. There isn’t anything flashy or enticing in and of themselves, but this series does its job and definitely engages my daughters.

Beth: Bigger Hearts for His Glory Unit 1 (1st half)

Let me assure you Beth is not as miserable as she appears! She is actually quite focused. I have seen many recent conversations in the facebook group about kids having a hard time with the history readings in this guide. This was only our first week, but we completed all the history readings and so far she has been fine. I remember the same struggle expressed with my oldest until about half-way through, but so far Beth seems to be doing great. My advice is to keep at it. I like my girls reading older history readings for several reasons. I do like that it was written closer to the historical source, but I also think it helps kids develop their reading skills.

Contrary to what I expected, Beth actually loved looking words up in the dictionary for her history vocabulary. Let’s hope this continues all year!

I have another die-hard fan of Life of Fred in the house! She thinks he is so funny and I find it a great addition to our regular curriculum.

Of all my kids, Beth is the most apt to learn anywhere but her own seat. Sometimes on the floor beside me, sometimes on the porch swing, sometimes in her bed, sometimes in the living room…I even found her under the table in the kitchen a few times last year! Here she’s working on math. My only rule is she has to sit at the table for formal handwriting. She’s a little wiggle waggle and I try to give her the freedom to move as she needs.

I’ve introduced dictation in addition to our All About Spelling work. She’s half-way through AAS level 2 and doing great. Dictation will be a learning process, so I’ll let you know how it is going later.

Ahhhh grammar! This is one of the subject Beth asks to do right away. My girls love it and I love that they love it! Rod and Staff grammar is incredibly solid which I’m seeing even more now with my oldest. Rose fixed a writing assignment on her own to make the verbs match tenses without my saying anything about it! This is huge in my estimation.

I like giving my girls something a little extra for vocabulary every day to help them in preparation for required standardized tests at the end of the year. In addition to grammar and vocabulary she is also reading The Littles and loving it!

Rose: Preparing Hearts for His Glory Unit 18

Starting back in Preparing with Rose was easy peasy! She had been asking for a while to read Grandpa’s Box this summer and was thrilled when I pulled it off the shelf on Monday. She loves history and this guide has been such a joy to teach. We’re going full-speed and I hope to be finished in December or January. Right now history is focusing on the Roman occupation of, well, everywhere within the context of the life of Christ. We’ll be quickly moving on though.

I love the timeline cards she is making on her own. A lot of people print pictures or buy cards, but this has been a fun experience for her in each guide.

Math is getting a little easier. Thanks to some wonderful advice from my sister-in-law who also homeschools we are breaking her math assignments into two parts each day. She likes this idea and is able to handle the assignment better than when we try to do it all at once. We are continuing on with Math Mammoth and I am very happy with the scope and sequence of this program.

Rose is into All About Spelling level 4 and doing fabulous! I love this program as well and it is helping me become a better speller in addition to my girls! We’ve moved onto the next level of dictation and she is showing great maturity.

Learning Together

We learn all together. Sometimes on the same subject, sometimes not, but all together. Here are some pictures of what it looks like practically. 

All About Spelling Levels 2 and 4
Grace and our neighbor’s daughter reading together.
Grace and I doing Bible while her sister finish math. 

This year I’m doing something a little different and giving you a chance to see what my daughter’s had to say about their week as well! This is a great way for them to participate, practice typing (except Grace who isn’t ready yet), practice editing, and actively participate in this blog. I hope it lasts, but we shall see. You can click on each name below to see what they had to say about this week on their very own Grace-Filled Kids Blog!

Did you have a good week? Did you have a rough week? Either way, I’d love to hear about it!

Week in Review: May 13-17

This was our last week of Heart of Dakota for the year!!!! Well…sort of. I’ve held off with Grace and Little Hands for a few weeks. I’ve had something unexpected come up for this summer and I wanted to get school done sooner than I originally planned. So I bumped everything ahead and we have been doing two units of Heart of Dakota in a one week time period. This seems like a lot…and it is! Keep in mind that I do skip a lot of science due to the fact that my daughter takes a three-hour science class each week.

I also just finished up the history readings for Little Hearts for His Glory. It bothered me at first not to do all the activities and I may go back this summer and do some, which would be a lot of fun! I’m not bothered by it anymore though. I know there are times I have to be flexible and homeschooling allows for that. No matter how much I plan and schedule, my good intentions will inevitable be interrupted by sickness, unexpected life events…sometimes even surprises and amazing once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. I like those interruptions best! 
Bigger Hearts for His Glory: Units 33 and 34
We have loved our time in this guide. Rose had learned so much and grown an incredible amount since we began in July. While I intended to do this guide half speed over two years, but after four units I realized she was more than ready for full-speed. Rose’s favorite set of units was the ones about The Wright Brothers and their Sister. She enjoyed this history so much I had to stop her from moving on! 
This week she studied more about the Panama canal and we looked at why it completely changed travel and commerce between the west and east coast. Since our studies have focused on American History she completed a map of the United States and its surrounding countries. She did a fabulous job! The proportions are a little funky, but I think this is great for a seven-year-old 2nd grader. 
She also finished up 2nd grade math from Rod and Staff and Wordly Wise 3000 book 2. There is something  incredibly satisfying about finishing a book for all of us. We came to that point in the year when staying focused was difficult. I remember this all too well from my full-time classroom teacher days, but honestly didn’t expect it with homeschooling. I think it may have to do with seeing an end in sight. We feel antsy and are so anxious to get to the end that it’s sometimes hard to stay the course. 
We are looking forward and excited to start Preparing Hearts for His Glory in August! 
Little Hearts for His Glory: Units 33 and 34
This is my second time through this guide, but I have enjoyed it immensely more. The first time I used it for K-4 as I anticipated never homeschooling my daughters. I really don’t recommend this unless you have an incredibly advanced child. Even then I’m not sure I would ever recommend this! 
This time as a K-5 curriculum Little Hearts was a fabulous fit. Beth really started to enjoy history and began asking questions and wanting to know more on her own. This was one of my goals for homeschooling. Learning for the sake of passing a test is not what we want for our children. Yes, I want them to do well as they go through school and remember what they have learned, but more than that I want to encourage a heart for learning and desire to know more. Heart of Dakota is just so good at that! 
Since Beth finished up the 1st grade reading curriculum I’ve just been having her read books at or slightly above her level and narrating for me. She has really enjoyed this and got  handful of books from my parents which I read at her age. She loves that they were once Mommy’s books!
We’re looking forward to Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory next year!
Little Hands to Heaven: Off Week
Like I mentioned I took a break from this guide with Grace this week so I could get through everything else with my older girls. She was not happy. My little sweetie loves to learn! I found out this week she has learned to read colors because of spending so much time with a small book about colors. I knew she loved it; I had no clue she was learning words! I plan to start Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons soon and I’ll be highlighting our language arts plan at this point. 

I kept her as busy as I could with fun activities, but it seemed I couldn’t keep her busy enough! She’s enjoyed her year with Heart of Dakota so very much. I plan to finish the guide throughout the summer and we’ll be using it again next year for her K-4 year along with reading, pre-K math, and the Rod and Staff ABC series. 

We’ve also enjoyed reviewing some really great stuff! 
Art… (Review Coming Soon)
Games… (Review Coming Soon)
Sign Language…(Click for Review!)
Be on the lookout for some really run reviews over the next few weeks! 

Week in Review: May 6-10

The beginning of May is a whirlwind around here! We finish up with Deerstream Learning Center and I finish up teaching piano lessons. Life feels crazy and then there is a sudden and wonderful calm. It hasn’t arrived yet, but it will next week after my piano recital. With the craziness we try to squeeze in a bit of fun like New Orleans Style shaved ice! (Yes, it’s pouring the rain, but boy was it a memorable visit!)

Some things have come up for us that has made me feel like I need to finish up school for the year in the next couple of weeks. Because of that I’ve made a few changes. Grace is going full-out fast-paced through Little Hands to Heaven. I’m doing 2-3 units a week. I want to get through this guide so she experiences the poems for each letter and we’ll be doing it again next year for k-4. I’m only going to be reading the history and finishing the last several units with Beth by the end of next week. She is already into her 1st grade math and reading so I’m okay with moving more quickly. Rose will be finishing the last two units of Bigger next week.

The following week Rose and Beth will be completing their required state testing. Testing is one of the few requirements in our state for homeschooling and it is required to begin the school year when a student turns eight. I choose to test earlier because I want them to feel comfortable with testing in a comfortable environment I can control and I am covering my bases for the state. With the way educational requirements change so frequently I want to make sure I have done everything possible in order to show I am providing my girls with an excellent education.

In between all of this I have found time to still squeeze in my reviews! Make sure you check out the review of Trailblazer Books. They are offering a free e-book to my readers for this month only! More reviews will be headed your way soon!

And here is our week…

Little Hands to Heaven: Unit 19
We studied the letter P this week…mostly in one day to be completely honest! Grace did other work the other days, but we spent mostly 1 day focusing on this letter. I really enjoy adding in Do-A-Dot pages to coordinate with these. So does she! I let her pick the colors and then she has fun dotting the pages. To find these and others like them simply google “Do-A-Dot alphabet pages”. You’ll find more than you can ever use!

She opted to do her work in the hallway. Grace has been clearly trying to become her own person recently. This has sometimes played out in some rather defiant moments, but also has shown itself in small ways like when she says, “Mommy, can I do lessons on the floor?” As long as there isn’t a good reason I’m trying to allow her some flexibility. I am having to say, “No!” to her so often at the moment that anytime I can, “Yes,” it is a relief.

Her favorite part of the lessons is almost always the finger play which goes along with the letter for the week. She really gets into this and it typically involves her entire body, not just her fingers!






Little Hearts for His Glory: Units 28-29

I have several units to finish this coming week, but that’s okay. I need to finish and so we’ll make it! Beth love the GHI series from Rod and Staff. This is the new series Carrie Austin has chosen for Little Hearts for His Glory since Thinking Skills for 1st grade has been discontinued. We were using them already because Beth finished the Thinking Skills book in about a month. She kept sneaking it into her room during rest time and working on it when I didn’t realize it! I have to say I am very pleased with the switch and find these to be more challenging and fun than that Thinking Skills book was.

Since she finished up her reading books last week I’ve just been having Beth read books to me and I’ll ask 2-3 comprehension questions at the end. Her favorite book a Dick and Jane reader given to her by her great-grandmother. It is very simple for he at this point, but she loves it so much and at this age, reading is reading! I love our time cuddling on the couch while she reads to me. It is such a blessing!


Beth continues to use Math Rider in addition to her Rod and Staff math. This has improved her already strong math facts and she loves it! If you haven’t heard of it, take some time to check out my review. It has been a wonderful blessing to our homeschool curriculum!


Bigger Hearts for His Glory: Units 31 and 32

When I told Rose we were going to move more quickly through her curriculum, she said, “Oh. I guess I’ll just have to be more diligent!” What a sweet answer! We’re already on target to finish grammar and math next week without speeding up pace. Rose worked on practicing alphabetizing this week in her grammar book. This was very simple for her since the vocabulary with HOD gives her a chance to practice alphabetical order.

She was very excited to study two poems this week! Both poems for the week are on the page so it was easier. When studying rhyme scheme I have her first highlight the rhyming lines and then add in the letters. This has been a great way for her to visually see the rhyming pattern. I love that Heart of Dakota incorporates poetry from the very first guides. They are developing and appreciation for poetry and Rose has even been chosen for publication recently for a poetry contest! Her inspiration to write poetry definitely came fro her studies each week.

I often let Rose read her history on her own by her choice. Her narration skills have improved so much and I’m so pleased with her progress! She will many times read in the living room while I teach her sisters in the school-room. I will usually find her snuggled under a blanket completely drawn into her reading assignment. This week she finished up the entire book about the Wright Brothers. I didn’t intend for her to, but she got so excited about finishing she didn’t realize she was supposed to stop! You know you have an excellent history program when a child is so absorbed they completely forget to end their assigned reading for the day.

One more subject we have added to our week is typing. Rose has been hounding me to let her learn how to type. When the opportunity came up to review Typing Tournament I was so excited! Check out this really fun program for typing lessons for kids and adults. My husband said that if he’d had this to use to learn about typing when he was in school he might have actually learned the first time around.

That was our week! We’ve has a busy and full weekend with a fun surprise coming for the girls next week! I can’t wait to share it with you!

Here is a hint: They Glow 
Any guesses?

Week in Review: April 29 – May 3

School is starting to wind down and everyone is getting a bit anxious for a break. I remember coming back from spring break when I was teaching full-time was always difficult and the same seems to be true for homeschool! The excessive pollen which is still floating around isn’t helping either! Still, we are making it through our curriculum and finding fun things to do along the way. Check out our break-from-the-ordinary field trip by clicking on the picture.

We have been reviewing a lot of really great things from several companies! In case you’ve missed some here is a list of our most recent reviews:

Advice for Seekers by Charles Spurgeon
Composers Activity Pak
Dr. Craft’s Active Playbook
Tower of Babel: The Cultural History of our Ancestors

Look for many more to come in the coming weeks!

Little Hands to Heaven: Unit 18
Grace is so incredibly impatient with me if we don’t do lots of school! I’m trying to teach her that sometimes she has to wait and sometimes we won’t do everything. She doesn’t like either of those truths, but I do try to make it up to her another day and do more!

Our letter of the week was O. All of our magnet letters are stored in this large tin. We play a search for the letter game sometimes on the lid. I didn’t realize until after I took this picture that I had put the O’s all together! But Grace didn’t mind, and didn’t even notice to be honest.

She has moved on to the C book of her About 3 series from Rod and Staff Publishing. These books have progressed her thinking skills and handwriting to a really good place as we finish up her K-3 year. She is one of those kids who would either start Kindergarten as a 4 year-old or wait and start just before she turns 6. While I completely hated the idea of her older sister starting Kindergarten just as she turned 5, I knew academically it was the best thing for her. Now I don’t have to worry about those problems! I can challenge her academically without the added stresses of needing to mature somewhat.

I did a fun new activity I found on Pinterest. I actually combined a couple of activities. I put a dice into an empty baby-food jar. She shook the dice, then she put that many noodles in one of the cubes in the ice cube tray. This occupied her for a full 30 minutes. Win!

Grace enjoys these types of activities and she’s still at an age that she thinks it’s a new activity if I change from noodles to dry beans or beads! It’s also really nice to be able to give her these small things and know she’s not going to try and eat them and choke. She really likes to use Cheerios  but ends up eating more than she counts.

Little Hearts for His Glory: Unit 27

Beth is working hard and getting close to finishing up! Since our allergy attack last week knocked us off from finishing up Unit 27 we just picked up where we stopped last week. We finished up the history readings which she enjoyed as usual.

Since finishing up her handwriting book we’ve moved on to a phonics practice book which also incorporates handwriting. She really likes these activities and it has not only helped improve her handwriting, but it also incorporates critical thinking, spelling, rhyming, and reading. Yay for Grandma fining this for her!

Beth also completed her first math speed drill! Rod and Staff is a very traditional mathematics curriculum without any frills. It’s no-nonsense approach has been a good fit for my girls and they do quite well with it. I’m not actually doing the speed drills exactly as they are intended yet because she has moved on to 1st grade level math very quickly. I told her to do them as quickly as she could and I just kept track of the time. I was very pleased that she finished all 18 problems in only 65 seconds. She knows the answers quickly, but is sometimes slow about writing the numbers because she wants them to look neat.

She also finished up her reading curriculum this week. Now that she has completed through 1st grade Abeka phonics we’ll move on to the emerging readers set used in Heart of Dakota. I’m not sure if we’ll start them next week though. For now I think I will just have Beth do some reading and narration each day.

Bigger Hearts for His Glory: Unit 30

Rose started off the week with an art show at Deerstream Learning Center. She created her own national park complete with unique land forms. She was so proud of her project and her grandparents were able to come and see it. Homeschool classes have been a great addition for Rose. Beth gets to start taking classes next year and she is looking forward to joining her big sister.

Rose has adjusted well to completing all three of the vocabulary words which encourages me that she is completely ready for the next guide from Heart of Dakota, Preparing Hearts for His Glory. She does tend to get a little sloppy with her handwriting at times. Her original sentences were excellently written with good context, but were not nearly as neat as I knew she could write. I decided to have her rewrite them. She wasn’t thrilled at first, but when I asked her if she thought she had used her best handwriting, she gave me a guilty smile and didn’t say anything more!

We have added an official typing program which Rose begs to use frequently! I’ll have a review of this program coming up soon. It’s one of the most fun I’ve used and is quite affordable. She has completed 2 lessons and is working on her write hand letters. I honestly wasn’t certain how well she would do but I have been pleased with her progress!

Another great week and looking forward to just a few more in our guides!

Week in Review: April 22-26

Our week coming off of Spring Break was nice and easy. The girls were up late every night the week before…2 hours after bedtime late! Their Grammy and Grampy were visiting from FL and we also spent some time with their cousins. No wonder they were up late! Then the allergies hit. I really struggle with allergies here in the south every spring and have lost my voice for 2 weeks for the last 5 years and this was the week it started! So we had a couple of sick days when my voice was at its worst. I also pondered all the advice I was given when we first started homeschooling and wrote a fun post incorporating it all! Click the graphic and you can read the only complete list of homeschooling advice you’ll find!

Little Hands to Heaven: Off Week
I’ve been thinking about what to do next year with Grace next year since she’ll still be preschool. I plan to start teaching her to read because she is ready although I’m flexible depending on how she responds. I have decided to do Little Hands to Heaven through once more with a different Bible option and more letter and number practice in addition to the Rod and Staff ABC series. I think she’s really going to like it!

This week she just explored, colored, played games, built puzzles, and worked in preschool workbooks. My favorite part of the week was when she took her magnifying glass and examined a but outside on the back porch. She loves bugs as long as she is assured it won’t sting or bite. She looked at this little guy and said, “He looks sad Mommy!” I’m not sure what kind it was, but she had a good time inspecting it!

Moments like these make me so grateful she’s spending her preschool years with me and not in a classroom with a different teacher. I love seeing her explore, teaching her the basics, and encouraging her to try new things. She has friends her own age she plays with each week and she gets along with kids of all ages because of church. I know universal preschool is probably inevitably going to happen and almost many of my mommy friends send their youngers to preschool, but I feel blessed to have had all three of my girls for this age!

Little Hearts to Heaven: Part of Unit 27
Poor sweet Beth has inherited my allergies. She’s had a tough time getting a full night’s sleep and spends her days blowing her nose and coughing with me. So we started off with Unit 27, but then I just let her read and color for most of the rest of the week. This is not a big deal at all since she is almost finished with her first grade reading, half-way through 1st grade math, and half-way through All About Spelling level 1. Taking a few days off certainly won’t get us behind!

Beth loves coloring more than any other child I’ve seen! She begs to color and loves it when someone colors with her. Grace happily colored along with her all during the week! She did some math and spelling early in the week before she started feeling really crummy and has enjoyed learning about how to tell Time!

She spent lots of time reading and is in the middle of reading a chapter book her older sister picked out for her at a local thrift store for $0.10. I love it when the girls encourage one another’s love for reading like this! I also love that when she can’t think of anything else to do, she picks up her book to read.




Bigger Hearts for His Glory: Unit 29

I was neglectful of pictures this week! I think all the allergy medicines I’m using is messing with my thinking skills. We continued reading through The Wright Brothers and Their Sister. I have to keep Rose from reading ahead in this one! She has loved this part of our history this year. Rose loves history of any kind in reality. This week she asked permission to get some extra books off the shelf to read about George Washington. Um…yes! I also told her there was no need to ask permission to read anything we weren’t going to use in school. She told me she liked being able to learn even more about history than what our curriculum tells us. When your regular curriculum inspires more curiosity and learning you know you have an excellent curriculum!

She also spent time completing up a lapbook on composers we’ve been reviewing for the TOS Review Crew. I’ll be posting about this on Monday so stay tuned! Her favorite part has been reading about all the different composers. This is my first try at lapbooking and although it has been a good experience I have to say that I prefer our HOD curriculum. It has been a good addition to our regular studies though.

In addition to the regular schooling we did the girls enjoyed watching The Magic
School Bus. Grandpa and Grandma gave them this for Valentines Day this year. It has inspired lots of scientific conversations! This series does talk about millions of years, but that is the only reference to evolution I have found. Our family believes the Bible refers to a literal 6 days of creation and do not teach our children that the earth is millions of years old. However, this does not keep me from allowing them to watch mainstream science videos. When these references started popping up a few years ago in shows like Dinosaur Train I simply told Rose that the people who made the show didn’t believe God created the world. I also explained that the other information was good, but we just needed to remember that when they say millions of years that means they don’t believe God created in the way the Bible says He did. This has been a fine explanation and my girls are not confused or conflicted by it. 

I hope your week was lovely and you can enjoy the spring weather more than I can!

Week in Review: April 8-12

Next week is spring break! My in-laws will be visiting with us next week and we’ll be enjoying the company of Grammy and Grampy! We’ll also get to see my niece play Amaryllis in The Music Man at the end of the week. I can’t wait to blog about that field trip!

Don’t forget to stop by and enter the giveaway I’m hosting this week! It ends Sunday (4/14) at midnight! This is a really fun one and my daughters have thoroughly enjoyed this particular review!
Little Hands to Heaven: Off Week
We’re half-way through Little Hands to Heaven and I’m so pleased with Grace’s progress. I decided to take a week off because of some plans for major house cleaning! We still did “lessons” because Grace won’t let me get away with much of a break. We just didn’t follow the plans in her guide.
This is a fun math activity I’ve had tucked away which I found a while back. Unfortunately I can’t find the link to where I found this! If I find it I’ll add it in later. Each flash card up to 10 has a stack of legos. Grace simply counted and stacked until what she had matched the card. This is done to scale, but since we only have duplos our towers were MUCH taller! 
We began learning about O even though we didn’t move forward in the book. I intend to go through the guide a second time next year since she loves it so much for preschool and I found a new book of worksheets for each letter at Scholastic’s dollar deals sale. If you haven’t checked out Scholastic Teacher Express I encourage you to do that. I have found a number of resources during their Dollar Days Sale (On right now!) which have enhanced our HOD studies and provided more learning fun! I plan to use the book I found next year.

Grace also enjoyed another of my own creations for a math game! She found the correct number of dots on the ladybug wings and matched them up to the correctly numbered ladybug. This was another activity I made several years ago and never got around to printing and using. I regret not doing so for Rose and Beth, but I’m glad I did get them done in time for Grace! She loves staying with us in the schoolroom, but so much of my time is needed to be focused on the older girls’ studies. I like providing new learning for her so she can stay with us, not be a distraction to the girls, and still be learning! 
She also insisted on working in her Rod and Staff books. They are also having their huge spring sale right now for three more days on all their curriculum. I need to get my order in!
Little Hearts for His Glory: Unit 26
Rose loved our unit this week! I didn’t get any shots, but she particularly liked the poem about the start of the American Revolution which included Patrick Henry and the Boston Tea Party. She also seems to enjoy handwriting now, which is a blessing because it wasn’t always so! We’ve moved into handwriting which practices phonics (Thanks to this book my mom found for free!). It is such good practice and each page has a coloring or drawing activity to get her excited to finish well.
She continues to thrive in spelling as well. I honestly can’t say enough about All About Spelling. This has been the best follow up for phonics instruction I have found because it causes my girls to think about phonics in a reverse way. Both girls’ reading skills have improved as a result and neither one complains when it’s spelling time. I usually hear the opposite, “Can we please do spelling now?” Now that indicates a good spelling program! 
Our Word-Wall letter for the week was Q which I don’t believe we finished so we’ll pick that up again after our break. Her words were quill, quail, quake, and queen. I love how many of these words she is finding on her own. Sometimes her eager older sister wants to jump in when Beth gets stuck, but I’ve convinced Rose she at least needs to give clues, not just the word!
Beth is over-the-moon excited to be working on time! She is flying through her 1st grade math curriculum and the concepts are sticking! Rod and Staff takes a more traditional approach to math, but it seems to be the right one for our girls. I’m so happy to have found a math which is a blessing to our family instead of a trial. It has been a lesson in showing me just how unique each family is and how different curricula will work differently for each family. 
Bigger Hearts for His Glory: Unit 28
We are getting so close to finishing up this guide! we only have 6 more weeks left in Bigger Hearts and it only keeps getting better. When your kid begs to read, “…just one more chapter, Please?” You know it’s good! We moved on to studying the Wright brothers and their sister this week which is interesting considering the new controversy surrounding them which has just come to surface. I haven’t decided if I’ll let her in on that or just stick with what we’re learning!
Where I once heard grumbling about vocabulary I now hear excitement about learning new words. Sometimes it just takes a while for a new skill to sink in. She now enjoys learning new words, illustrating them, and even writing sentences which are also getting more creative and wordy. Heart of Dakota is so gentle in its instruction and I love seeing how much she has matured over the last year. 
We also finished up our biography unit on Sacagawea with a book by Knowledge Quest. She loved this really great, interactive e-book. I’ve already written a review about it, so if you want to see more click on the picture. I was very impressed with the quality and she loved being able to quickly research more information! 
Here are samples of her post-reading projects: 

I intend to blog very soon about out language arts plan because it deviates a little from the Heart of Dakota guide. If nothing else it will come this summer!
Just for fun here is what our room looks like after a day of learning! (Notice the kitty still hanging around!)

I hope you had a wonderful week as well!

Week in Review: April 1-5

Rose and I had a week off from our homeschool classes for spring break. I teach junior high literature and writing and Rose takes a science/humanities class. We both enjoy them, but also thoroughly enjoyed the week off! We had a more relaxed schedule even though we kept on with our regular at-home school schedule. Don’t worry, I’m not refusing my girls a break! My in-laws are coming up for a visit in another week and we chose to take our at-home break then. Many of my piano students are also out of town this week so it sill feels like break!
Thankfully the south decided to finally thaw a bit from the cold and dry out from the rain! The girls have enjoyed a lot of time outside. Unfortunately a fever/cold also made it’s round and we haven’t enjoyed as much time with our neighborhood friends as we would have liked! Now that they’re all better, it’s sleeting outside. What a crazy spring!
Grace-Filled Homeschooling is also now on Twitter and Tumbler! I was so intimidated by these two, but now enjoying the benefits of both! I don’t have many followers yet, so look forward to these new options for giveaway entries. 

Before I got on with our week-in-review…
There is still a chance to enter two giveaways from two fabulous companies! 
          
Click the images above to see my reviews and enter the giveaway!
Little Hands to Heaven: Unit 17
Grace was very insistent this Monday that she do her lessons first. After her week off I can understand! She loves lessons. Her sisters do as well, but Grace nearly cries when they are over each day! Our letter for the week was N and her finger-play rhyme for this was N-N-Naughty. She thought this was incredibly funny. We also studied about the kings of Israel who were often n-n-naughty! 
One of her favorite things to do now is handwriting. I have used the pages from The Learning Page with all three of my girls and I adore them. They have sets of traditional handwriting pages with just a few examples, but they also have full sheets of dotted letters for tracing for both print and cursive. It is free to sign up and there are lots of other freebies as well.  Although they do link to sites where you have to pay for resources, all of the handwriting sheets can be downloaded free.
Our printer decided to be finicky right when I was ready to print Grace’s N to glue on, so we went old-school with a sharpie and piece of blank paper! I could have just used the glue, but her favorite color is blue, so I thought this would be more fun. My girl could do this for hours. I’m not sure what it is she loves about it, but gluing things onto paper makes her day! 
We’re just about finished with the B Book in the About Three series by Rod and Staff. She has progressed so much as a result of these simple black-line workbooks. She loves coloring the pages after she is finished so I’m glad they are black and white! I highly recommend this series and you can read my full review of them by clicking on the picture. 

Grace enjoyed playing a new game this week. Back when Rose was about two, I made a bunch of file-folder type games for her for matching colors, shapes, etc. I didn’t know of all the resources to be found online at the time and I had several made and laminated. I also made a few games like this which I never ended up printing. I came across them a few weeks ago and I printed and laminated them. The point is to match the numbers on the fish with the correct number of bubbles in the fish bowl. It isn’t fancy, but she had a lot of fun with it!
Little Hearts for His Glory: Unit 25
Our cat can’t get enough of sitting with Beth during lessons. You’ll often see her little ears peaking out of Beth’s lap in our pictures! One reason is because she loves the girls, but it also helps that our schoolroom is the warmest spot in the house on cold mornings! This is partly because of the large window facing west, but in no small part due to the space-heater I keep at my cold-natured feet!

Beth’s word-wall letter was P. Her words included panda (her favorite animal), pig, pogo-stick, pumpkin, pen, pin, and Penny (the name). She has fun coming up with words and it has been a great starter for journal writing now. I really like the e-book journal I purchased at the dollar days sale for her which lets her draw pictures and fill in just a small portion of the entries. It has been an excellent tool for her and we’ll continue this on into 1st grade.

I’m hoping to do a write-up of our reading/language arts program soon because I’ve been asked a lot about it. I will go into more detail at a later date, but for now here is what we do in the order they are added:

Heart of Dakota’s Dictation

I start teaching my girls to read when they ask which has been 4 and 3 and a half so far! This is also the route Rose took via private school (k) and homeschool (1st). It left her with a very solid reading foundation which we’re building on continually with All About Spelling. It seems a bit eclectic for my style, but our choices came from what we owned and what I saw working. I plan to stick to this path with Grace.

Our study of George Washington was a lot of fun this week! We learned about the cherry tree story including that it may or may not be true as well as another story of his disobedience to his mother concerning a colt! I had never heard this one before and Beth really enjoyed it. One of the activities was pretending to be a colt and George Washington riding it. Grace filled in for GW since the purpose was to follow directions (right, left, etc.) Beth did a fabulous job and I even through in some north, south, east, west directions. The only trouble she had was being able to follow the directions through the giggling!

We are almost through with the the Inside Outside book from the ABC Rod and Staff series. We’ll be starting this series again with Grace next year and I will be a little sad to see them pass. My girls have all loved them and they have taught so very much. This last book focuses on wildlife in North America.

Bigger Hearts for His Glory: Unit 27
I have been informed this is my portrait! I’m glad she drew me happy and waving. She also asked me to take her picture with it, so I suppose she is very proud of how nice it looks. Nothing like a portrait of you to make the say just a little sweeter!

Arithmetic has become just a little sweeter for both girls thanks to this wonderful program we are reviewing for the TOS Review Crew! I’ll be posting on this in another couple of weeks, but I an tell you now that we use it daily and the girls beg to practice math facts now! Rose particularly likes that she is beginning to learn multiplication now. Her regular math curriculum starts that in 3rd grade and she’s been regularly asking to go ahead and learn multiplication. Now she can!

We’re on unit 8 of All About Spelling book 3. This is one of the best phonics follow-ups I’ve ever heard of or seen. Rose continues to easily recall all the spelling and phonics rules she has learned with ease. This rule we focused on this week was doubling letters to protect the short vowel and using y as a vowel at the end of words. Oh yeah…and my portrait is now saying, “I am a robot!” Hmmm….

For history we studied about the naturalist, John Muir, and touched lightly on the Spanish-American War. I appreciate that Rose is being introduced to the wars now lightly. She is young, but hears about them all the time. She also learned about some of the animals in North America that have gone extinct just in the last century. She drew a Florida Black Wolf as part of her notebooking page.

For literature Rose is reading a biography about Sacajawea from Knowledge Quest. It’s also a review we’re doing from the TOS Review Crew. I like that it is written from her perspective and Rose is thoroughly enjoying it. Since my background is teaching literature I make up my own literature units using a variety of pages and ideas. She just finished up her mystery unit and after the biography we’ll move on to historical fiction.

I’m excited to announce I’ll be hosting a giveaway from Safari, Ltd! If you’ve never seen their amazing animal and historical figures you’ll really need to check them out. It starts Monday, so don’t forget to stop by next week to enter!