Week in Review: January 13-17

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week in Review: January 6-10

Back at it again…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory: Unit 12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’d love to hear about your week!

Week in Review: November 18-22

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

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

And now onto our week…

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

Little Hands to Heaven: Unit 29

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

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

Little Hearts for His Glory: Unit 11

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

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

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

Preparing Hearts for His Glory: Unit 7

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week in Review: November 11-15

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

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

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

Little Hands to Heaven: Unit 28

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

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

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

Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory: Unit 10

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

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

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

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

Preparing Hearts for His Glory: Unit 6

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

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

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

Week in Review: November 4-8

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

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

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

Little Hands to Heaven: Unit 27

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory: Unit 9

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preparing Hearts for His Glory: Unit 5

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week in Review: October 21-25

We were doing so well…just so so good! We were on track, everyone was having fun…it was fabulous!

And then the fevers started on Tuesday…sigh.

So what did I learn? For all my good intentions, for all my planning, life still happens. And it is okay. Grace for every moment is how I try to live. I used to get really frustrated when we got off, but this past year has taught me so much about leaving room for life and being flexible.

Unfortunately because of their fevers the girls have not been able to spend as much time with Diego as they usually do. He is our sweet neighbor who is currently battling cancer. Click here to read more about his story.

Little Hands to Heaven: Unit 24

We’re getting really close to finishing up the About 3 series from Rod and Staff. I have loved these books for helping her fine motor skills. They are age appropriate for preschoolers ready to learn to write. They progress well from the beginning to end of the four book set and they are inexpensive. Grace loves these too and will even go back and do the pages again.

Grace’s favorite new show is Peg Plus Cat on PBS. It’s a funny little show and she was thrilled to find a game online she could play!

U was our letter for the week, even if it was a short week! This is one of Grace’s favorite things to do each week, especially since I let her eat the leftover Cheerios. I let her choose what she wants to clue on to the letter and since she can’t eat the beans or uncooked noodles, Cheerios usually win! 
Little Hearts for His Glory: Unit 8

Beth was the first to succumb to the fever of the week, which started the evening after these pictures. She’s so very easy to teach. She may sometimes ask if she has to do work, but when I say, “Yes,” she goes right to it with a good attitude. She is also often the first one to have her school books out on the table. (…Or on the living room floor!)
She very happy to move on in her cursive book. She loves the artistic aspect to what we’re using now from Classical Conversations. I’ve encouraged her to be more careful and take her time using her colored pencils for the fine details. I’ve told her it is better to take a break and come back to it if she gets tired of coloring than to just scribble. This seemed to be an incredible revelation to her and she is much more willing to do fine detailed work now.
Yay for getting back to history! My girls were so very excited we were back to our regular readings. We finally got those Pilgrims on the Mayflower! Here she is counting out 180 Cheerios and loading them onto the Mayflower she made. This was a really fun math/history connection. Another reason I love Heart of Dakota!
Preparing Hearts for His Glory: Unit 4 (2nd half)

Life of Fred continues to delight and we finished up with our 3 times tables. Next week will be review of 0-3, which I anticipate going very well. Rose started Butterflies from the Life of Fred and is happy to be moving on through this new book. She’s already on chapter 5!
Rose was also excited to get back to history and continue on with her notebooking pages. She has loved history so much! I understand now why so many on the official Heart of Dakota message board rave about how Preparing is their favorite guide. We are also looking to start full-speed next week. We did the last two days of the week at full-speed and it went very well! I just have to include several short breaks and be willing to do some work after lunch if needed. 
Other highlights of the week…

Playing Kids of Catan with Grammy and Grampy. This was actually the previous week, but it was fun!

Beth lost her 2nd top front tooth. Now we’re working on learning All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth. If it goes well I’m sure you’ll get to hear it!

And of course the sickness. Poor sweet Beth got the worst of it and has a fever which keeps spiking throughout the day and night. Her sisters tried to make her feel better by surrounding her with their favorite stuffed animals. Poor thing…she felt so bad, but gave me a sweet smile in this picture anyway!

Week in Review: September 20-October 4

We had a good week! Everyone was more focused, especially Grace, which made learning so much easier for all of us. We started off the week with a field trip. It was actually a kids concert on Sunday evening before our week actually started, but I’m including it for this week. We had a great time with Mrs. Kate! Check out the post to see just how much fun!

Little Hands to Heaven: Unit 24

Like I said before Grace was much more cooperative this week when it came to lessons. She is very happy to do her work, especially her reading lessons. She has caught on much more quickly to reading than I expected. All my girls were reading at about a 1st grade level before they turned 5. Grace didn’t beg to read the way her sisters did because she was convinced she already knew! Now that we’re almost 20 lessons into Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons (I’ve used this for all of them) she has really caught on well. She can already sound out words without any trouble as long as they include letters she has learned.

I’ve really enjoyed using the ABC Bible Verse devotionals each week with her this year. This is one book I never had with the set and I purchased it used this summer. Grace really likes the little stories that go along with the verses. It uses KJV which we don’t usually use, but I’m not absolutely opposed to either. I love the flexibility of HOD and being able to use whatever version I prefer!

Grace finished up capital F in Fundanoodle. I really wish I’d found this handwriting curriculum for my other two. She loves getting to put the sticker at the bottom of each page. Her handwriting is really good for a just-turned-four-year-old! Although she isn’t consistent, about 1 in every 6 letters looks amazing well-written. She also is easy because she doesn’t get frustrated that it isn’t perfect yet.

She also enjoyed some fundamental Pre-K skill practice by playing matchy socks (her name for pairing sock I hide around the room), lacing, and cutting. These were great skills for her to work on while I worked with her sisters and she finally was willing to do them this week. Yay!
Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory: Unit 7
Beth read Buffalo Bill this week. Sometimes she read aloud to Grace who absolutely loved the story! Beth loves reading. I’m so blessed to have bookworms!  
One of my favorite aspects of the Heart of Dakota Curriculum is the early integration of poetry. The first two guides uses rhyme and poetry to teach, so by the time the third guide comes around they are very ready to listen to classic poems and think about what they mean. One of Beth’s favorite part of poetry is making motions that go along with words! She is just so sweet!
Beth’s handwriting has suddenly matured! I am not using the traditional copywork with her because we have a lot of handwriting each day through All About Spelling, her HOD spelling, and the journal activities we have recently begun. You can see at the top of this page where I showed her how to write a small r, but usually this is just a reminder because she likes to write them fancy. She’s also working on learning cursive so she sometimes likes to try to curly-cue her print letters.
Preparing Hearts for His Glory: Unit 4 (1st half)

Preparing has been such a fun guide and we’re only 4 units in! There is so much solid material here and we’re really enjoying it. We are unashamedly believers in a literal Genesis account of creation and I appreciate that Heart of Dakota falls in line with our beliefs. Rose loves the history and so do I! The last three guides have had a sweeping view of history from the explorers to early America. I have enjoyed starting at the beginning with Rose and seeing how Scripture is right in line with history. 
 Ahhh vocabulary…Rose really doesn’t like this part for some reason although this week has been easier than the others. I’m currently only having her do 3 of the 5 words, but I’m planning to have her up to all 5 by January. I’m also hoping we’ll be full-speed by January, but if we take this guide for 2 years I’m okay with that. Math and English will remain on course no matter what. 
We’re half-way through All About Spelling Level 3 and I’m seeing wonderful application beyond our lessons now. As I remind her to proof-read she will break down the words she has written into their individual phonemes and figure out on her own the correction. I’ve also caught her mumbling some of the All About Spelling rules under her breath. “This letter has to be doubled to protect the short vowel.” It is so wonderful to see a curriculum cross into life application! 
Poetry is one of my favorite parts of the unit! We’re studying poems all by Robert Louis Stevenson this year, one of my favorite poets and authors! I love that as we are studying the poems we also learn a little bit about the poet’s life. 
Oh my voracious reader! This picture was actually taken after our lessons for the day were over and I caught her reading her book for literature because she just had to read one more chapter! I struggle to get her to pace the books we read so I can discuss them with her, but I can’t really complain. I’d much rather see this than have rolling eyes when I mention literature!
We won’t have too many more days when the ice cream truck will come through the neighborhood. We usually do this once or twice in the summer, but this time the girls decided they wanted to use their money so Daddy took them down. This was a fun mid-week break in routine!
Grace turned 4 on Friday! She’s so very grown up. Her favorite gift was a digital camera. Her older sisters each got a camera at 4 and she’s been anxiously awaiting her turn. She already knew how to use it because Rose has been teaching her with her own camera. She took over 200 pictures on the first day! We enjoyed spending the day with my parents, especially since my mom shares a birthday with my littlest sweetheart! It is so special that they have this special bond. 
This week was good. A nice refreshing week after last week…and then as I was finishing up this post our upstairs toilet overflowed…So the end of our week didn’t feel quite as refreshing as the rest of it, but that’s life, right? 

Week in Review: September 23-27

Another week has come and gone. We read, we calculated, we learned. Maybe this should be our mantra!

Little Hands to Heaven: Sigh…

That’s all I’ve got: a sigh. Grace is almost four and she’s been testing me in a lot of areas. It isn’t that she doesn’t want to do school, there were just other things which needed attention this week! We didn’t really go through a terrible twos or threes. She of course tested us, but not to the extent her older sisters did at that age. This week there was a lot of time spent seeing if Mommy and Daddy really mean what they say.

She’s spent a long time at the kitchen table after refusing to eat the very thing she asked for breakfast just minutes before and time in her room for being sassy with her responses to me. She’s told me she’s mad at me for making her lay down for her nap and yelled at her sisters for not doing what she told them to do. It’s tough being almost-four! Although at the moment I think it is tougher being the mommy of this almost-four-year-old!

We did manage to get a few reading lessons in and she enjoyed some more time on the computer using Reading Kingdom and a handful of other learning games. I’m hoping this week will go better since Friday she seemed to be quite cooperative.

Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory: Unit 6

I think I am enjoying Beyond Little Hearts as much as Beth! This is my second time going through the guide, but the first time was with Rose during our first year of homeschooling. I had a hard time enjoying and appreciating it then because I felt such pressure. I’m really having fun with all the history readings and activities.

She did a “scrubbing day” just like the ladies in Holland did and she really enjoyed it. She scrubbed our stove completely and now it is shining!

The poem we studied was about the months of the year. She really enjoyed putting the poem in the correct order and showing off her knowledge of the months!

She is really enjoying her timeline now! At first she was so nervous about being able to do it correctly, but now she just goes right ahead. I usually write it out for her on another piece of paper so she can see just how to space it and to give her a sample of the picture.

For grammar this week we looked at question words. She was supposed to draw a question word from the pile and ask a question starting with the word about what I had hidden in a bag so she could figure it out. 
She picked “what”. 
Her question?
“What is in the bag?” 
Well played little girl. Well played.

Preparing Hearts for His Glory: Unit 3 (2nd half)
Rose finished up the second half of unit 3 in Preparing this week and begged me to start going full-speed because she just couldn’t handle not reading more for history! I explained part of the reason we were still going half-speed was because it was taking her so very long to do her work each day and honestly to even get started! We’re doing at least one more 1/2 speed unit and we’ll see how it goes.

Math is finally going really well. I found a wonderfully large pdf collection of math fact pages for her so she doesn’t have to copy the problems while she’s learning the facts. While addition facts seemed to take forever, this is going much better! I’m not sure the difference, but at the moment she is flying through her times tables! Click on the picture to the left to see the website. I happened to stumble upon it one day and I’m so very glad I did!

This is the newest book we’re reviewing for the TOS Review Crew. I seriously can’t tear her away from this! She loves this novel and has been taking it with her everywhere she goes. She very much takes after her mother and both of her grandmothers. I am just thrilled to watch her world open up as she continues to devour great literature!

Rose once detested spelling. She now loves it and actually asks to do spelling. We follow the HOD suggestion for dictation twice a week and do a unit from All About Spelling twice a week. I really believe both methods have improved her spelling and am grateful for the change in her attitude this year. She doesn’t always get everything right the first time, but she now has the skills to make corrections without me just having to tell her how it is spelled. She has also started proofreading her own writing better and checking herself for mistakes. Yay! 

We are studying a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson during each unit this year. She is supposed to share the poem in a special way so she rewrote Rain using the quill pen she got from Williamsburg. She’s getting pretty good at it although she does have to make lots of cross-throughs and corrections! 

I’m hosting another wonderful giveaway from Applewood Books through this coming Friday. Make sure you take a minute to enter by click on the link! The choice for the winner is going to be difficult. We loved all four books so much!

We had the chance to have two field trips in one at the end of this week! Take some time to read my review of the Children’s Museum of Alamance County…

Week in Review: September 2-6

Fall is here! This is my favorite season of the year and it seems to be coming early to the south. The leaves on our trees are starting to fall, something that doesn’t usually happen until mid-September at the earliest. My girls will soon be outside raking up leaves and we’ll be enjoying the cooler air. I decorated last week for fall inside, something I’ve done since we lived in Florida where fall simply does not exist! I’ve also been enjoying my favorite Yankee Candle, Pumpkin Spice…mmmmm!

School has finally seemed to hit its groove for us this week. We have the normal bumps, but much less dragging things out and a lot of

Little Hands to Heaven: Unit 23

This week’s letter was S and the Bible lessons focused on Jesus performing miracles. For our math activity Grace practiced choosing which group had more or less. I even had groups of smaller numbers, like 5 and 7, and she was able to tell me that the group with 7 had more. I continue to be surprised by concepts she already grasps and continue to see the benefit of doing school with older siblings. Both Grace and Beth have learned many things I’ve never had to teach them simply from observing Rose.

We are also reviewing a new handwriting and letter recognition curriculum that is so much fun! I can’t wait to share it! As you can see, Grace’s fine-motor skills are really accelerated for her age. She’ll be four in a few weeks and already can write almost all of her letters without any help or guidance from me. There are a couple she forget or gets confused, but so far she hasn’t needed a lot of help.

This is my favorite picture of the week! After reading about the little boy Jesus healed Grace said, “That was so sweet. Jesus is really sweet to make the little boy well.” Then she asked to pray for our friend, Diego, who has cancer that Jesus would heal him too. I was again surprised at the depth of her connections to real-life.

Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory: Unit 5

We have continued to study about the Pilgrims and I was reminded again this second time we are going through Beyond that there is so much I just wasn’t taught in school. I can’t help but wonder if it was intentional. I mean I know the whole argument of there is only so much time we have to teach and something has to be left out, but if they are going to spend time on the information in class, shouldn’t it be accurate and complete? The Pilgrim’s frequent imprisonment and hardships in Holland were never mentioned, but merely glossed over. My husband and I watched Kirk Cameron’s documentary, Monumental and there is much which we have learned included in it. This documentary is excellent and I plan to let the girls see some of it as we continue to study about the Pilgrims.

Math has always been a favorite part of Beth’s day. She frequently requests to do more than one lesson in a day and I usually let her. I’m happy for her to move at her own pace and she rarely makes any mistakes! This week she learned how to read a thermometer which is marked of by twos. Rose didn’t remember learning this before so Beth volunteered to teach her! It was so sweet to see her be the teacher and she did a great job! She explained the concept clearly, did an example, then had Rose try one. Since her answer was correct Beth followed it up with lots of encouraging words! Sweet moments that make homeschooling such a wonderful blessing!

Preparing Hearts for His Glory: Unit 3 (first half)

This history in Preparing has been so much fun for us! I had heard that it was a favorite guide for long-time Heart of Dakota families, and it is fun to finally experience it ourselves! Rose loves our history readings. She loves them to the point that she is incredibly disappointed that I don’t keep going. She also really enjoys the drawing for her notebook. She loves art anyway and it has been fun for her to do the independent history.

We have continued on with both dictation and All About Spelling and she’s doing great. We had taken a bit of a break from All About Spelling for the summer and have had a little trouble staying consistent with it, but that has been my issue with planning for all three and I’m getting the kinks in our day worked out. We started working with suffixes which gave us an entirely new set of tiles to work with! They’re pink and pretty. What more can I say?

The Rest of the Week

I’m trying to make sure I take time to enjoy my girls. This week we enjoyed more read-aloud time, playing Kids of Catan, and playing some putt-putt in the backyard. It is easy to get distracted with the duties I have, the work I must complete, and the things I would like to do, but I’ve decided missing out on time with my kids is just not going to be an option anymore. I will stop and take time to enjoy them, learn about who they are. I will not make it just something I check off a list or try to claim school-time is the same as spending time with them just having fun.

Next week will be a break for us and I’m looking forward to a really fun field trip at the end of the week!

Week in Review: August 26 – August 30

Phew! I’m one tired mama! I’m always tired by the end of the week, but it is a good tired. Can you relate? This week has been good, a bit more relaxed and felt more in routine. We have one more week before Rose and Beth start classes at Deerstream Learning Center and I’m enjoying the slower pace.

One of my major goals this year is to make story time with the girls a priority. Until this year I have found it very hard to have a consistent story time. Not only am I doing the girls’ individual story times with their own guides more consistently, I’m also trying to do group story time. I let them color, draw, build with legos, or whatever else to keep their little hands busy. Right now we’re reading through the Felicity American Girl books in anticipation of a trip to Williamsburg coming very soon!

Little Hands to Heaven: Unit 22

Sooo…I forgot to take any pictures of our Heart of Dakota work in Little Hands to Heaven this week! Our letter was R and Grace enjoyed the Bible stories about Jesus as a boy and the early part of his ministry. We also continued with reading lessons. Some days are easier than others, but she’s doing great. The biggest challenge is that she is convinced she can already read after 10 lessons and sometimes balks at doing a lesson each day!

We got a chance to review the sweetest little book about safety while crossing the road. All three of my girls loved it even though I think it was geared more towards Grace. You can read my full review here.

Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory: Unit 4

Beth has matured an amazing amount from last year to this year.  A lot of this just has to do with age, but I also credit Little Hearts for His Glory. The beauty of Heart of Dakota for my goes far beyond the wonderful history readings and delightful activities. It reaches farther than the outstanding weekly poetry selections. Heart of Dakota has been a wonderful asset as we teach our girls of the grace of God. Beth accepted Christ as her Savior just a couple of weeks prior to beginning her kindergarten. Our curriculum’s primary focus is pointing our children back to their Savior. Yes, academics are major, but seeing my girls’ hearts seek after Christ is primary.

I clearly got distracted this week and flaked on taking pictures! Beth’s handwriting is becoming quite lovely and I am so happy with her efforts! Spelling is also going smoothly. Our pretest usually reveals a couple of words she needs to work on, usually rule breakers, and this has been going well. I tried orally quizzing her on her words this week, and this didn’t go so well…and back to our original quizzing it was!

Preparing Hearts for His Glory; Unit 2 (second half)

Rose is loving this year’s guide! I am seriously having trouble holding her back in history. I am going to go with at least one more week at half-speed, however, as we adjust to the schedule once her science class starts. As we move through our sweeping look at history we have continued to focus on the Ice Age.

She is enjoying every subject this year…except math…until this week! I am not a fan of changing curriculum for math or reading. There has to be a rather big problem for me to be willing to make a major change. The reason for this is because although math and reading are fundamental, no one curriculum teaching in the same way or order. I am, however, more than willing to try something new to supplement. Enter Life of Fred.

In addition to shortening the amount of work she does each day, Rose also has been reading a chapter (or more!) from Life of Fred. This is a very unique approach to mathematics instruction. While inteded to be a stand-alone curriculum I am choosing to use it as a supplement. Math is no longer an issue. In fact, for the first time in I’m not sure how long Rose is now asking to do her math lesson first each day. I typically find her giggle over something she’s reading about Fred. I’m not sure how far we’ll continue with Fred, but I’m thrilled he is now part of our homeschooling!

And so ends another good week. The girls are right now having their weekly slumber party in their playroom. I’m so blessed our girls enjoy one another. Today they told me they’d formed a club of which they were all a part. My girls are truly friends, not merely just sisters. Do they bicker? Yes. Do they get tired of each other sometimes? Absolutely! Yet, at the end of the day, there is a love and a bond which cannot be missed. I frequently pray their relationship continues to grow as they grow up.