Until Math Mammoth came into our home I struggled to find a fit for my oldest. I have a feeling part of her struggle with math is due to my own inadequate feelings about teaching it. However, she now smoothly flows through the lessons each day and when we hit bumps there are fewer tears, more patience, and lots of smiles once it is conquered!
My girls can be found reading in any number of rooms around the house or even outside when the weather is nice! One of Rose’s favorite places for reading history and literature now is on the couch snuggled up near the Christmas tree. Can you blame her?
Just this morning as we were working on finishing up the work for the week we had something new occur. I was listening to Grace read her literature for the day and Beth asked if Rose could teach her grammar lesson instead of waiting for me. I knew the topic was something Rose had already mastered and was also actually review for Beth so I thought it was worth a shot. Wow! It was so beautiful to hear the girls interact in this way. I’m not planning on giving over teaching responsibilities to them or anything, but I think it was a very neat thing for Rose to take on the role as teacher. She corrected gently and Beth patiently listened. It made my heart smile to see them working together and I know it benefited them both.
We had a fabulous week. Not all of our weeks are this lovely, but this one was. I’ll need to tuck it away in my mind to pull out and remember on those days when my plans fall apart!
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The beginning of this week was a little harder than usual. My husband was away at his annual District Conference for all the pastors in our district of the Christian and Missionary Alliance. We did just fine on our own (It was only one night after all!) but my husband is a very hands on dad, so even just a night away left my girls missing him a lot!
We kept our routine as usual for the most part. Daddy did come home with a cold that is now making its round among the rest of us. Thankfully it doesn’t seem all that serious so we’re hoping to bounce back soon.
Here is a peek at what school looked like this week…
Fall is almost here! Actually, we are already seeing leaves turning even though it is a bit early in NC to see this. I’m over-the-moon to see fall come! I appreciate all seasons now after living in Florida, but Autumn will always and forever be my favorite with winter/Christmas coming in at a close second.
Dictation continues to go well for her now. It took us a while to really get that, but she is progressing more quickly now. I do think All About Spelling has had a lot to do with helping her see spelling patterns more clearly, so we will continue through that entire program. She’s almost done with level 4 and we will soon move on to level 5.
History went well this week, I just forgot to take any pictures! History is never an issue with my girls. For them, that is the frosting on our homeschool curriculum cake. They love all of the books we read and tend to pursue history outside of our schooling as well. Although my husband and I both love history I really give most of the credit for this to our curriculum. Rich literature and engaging activities is what has drawn my girls to love learning about our past!
Beth: 3rd Grade ~ Preparing Hearts for His Glory Unit 2 (2nd half)
Beth is settling into our routine with this new guide. My goal is to have my girls independently reading the history by the end of the guide to prepare them as they move into Creation to Christ. This made the transition smooth as silk for Rose so I’m planning to take the same approach with Beth.
Beth loves activities that are hands on. I really appreciate that even as the guides mature in learning there are still hands-on components. I was also pleased that she remembered all of the continents and where they were! This is something we have learned and reviewed since Little Hearts for His Glory. Seeing the progression and retention of something as simple as this helps me love Heart of Dakota even more.
Timelines are a favorite in our house. While many other programs give pre-printed timeline pictures Heart of Dakota encourages students to draw and create. It doesn’t matter how advanced of an artist they are, just that they draw a meaningful representation of the picture idea given. This week Beth drew Noah’s ark and it was neat to see how she drew it much like the Draw and Write Through History book showed, which is much more accurate than many traditional drawings.
Just like her older sister, history is the icing. She has loved reading about the Ice Age and is anxious to get back to Grandpa’s Box soon!
Grace: Kindergarten ~ Little Hearts for His Glory Unit 23
Grace has so much energy! This girl dances everywhere she goes. She has so much joy for life and that translates into her learning as well. Usually, no matter what we are doing, her response is, “Math? Goodie!” or “Handwriting? Yay!”
This week we learned about the Pilgrims and she really enjoyed the activities. On this one she scooted along the floor pretending she was on the Mayflower and then landed on Plymouth Rock, which was supposed to be a pillow, but she wanted to use a real rock from her ever growing rock collection.
First math test….drum roll…100%!!! Grace still just gets effort based grades from me since she is technically in Kindergarten, but since she is working on 1st grade math I want her to get used to seeing it graded. She loves math and I really like how Math Mammoth lays out the teaching. All three girls are thriving with this which is pretty amazing considering they have very different learning styles.
Another week has come and gone. This week was easier in some ways and harder in some ways. We battled this week with negative attitudes and bickering between my girls. School has gone well, but it hasn’t felt like a “good week” because of the other stuff. We’re all a little tired perhaps…I know I am! I’m also gearing up to begin my part-time jobs teaching piano to 32 boys, girls, and adults next week as well as anticipating the English class I teach to junior high homeschoolers starting in a few weeks. So maybe my own distractions have played a part in a less-than-stellar week. All the same, school was amazing and my girls had fun learning, so even if we had some rocky bumps at least we had this as a bright spot!
Each week I feel conflicting emotions as we forge on. This is such a sweet and gentle guide and while my girl is growing as I want her to, I hate to see it come to an end as this is also my youngest. We read about Native Americans and some of the earliest explorers. In particular my favorite day was reading about Ponce de Leon “discovering” Florida. My in-laws live in Florida so with that frame of reference as I began to read the story Grace pipes up with, “Were Grammy and Grampy already living there when he found it?” Tee hee…
We officially kicked off our school year this week! We’ve been schooling throughout the summer, but not strictly and not every day. August always feels like our official “restart” whether it is the first week or sometime later. This year all of our vacations were done and so the first full week of August fit well for us.
Grace – Kindergarten (Little Hearts for His Glory: Unit 20)
I am doing my best to savor every single moment in this guide. It is my third (and probably final!) time through with Kindergarten in Little Hearts. I have a better “bigger picture” view of Heart of Dakota this time and realize just how deep and rich it is for this age. Grace is gradually being prepared to move up through the ranks of Heart of Dakota and loves every bit!
I am the worst at keeping up with our school calendar so when Grace asked if that could be her job I jumped right on board. Each day she changes the calendar and has quickly learned her months and days in the correct order. She loves this job. I wish I had thought to have my olders to this when they were in Kindergarten!
Grace is working through Math Mammoth’s 1st grade curriculum. She was more than ready for this last year and I’m glad we went ahead. We are moving at a slightly slower pace, but she is grasping concepts quickly and solidly. She gets bored quickly though and if I’m not on top of her I’ll find her drawing pictures on the blank back-sides of the pages. She finds math comes easily, but she’d much rather be doing something else!
My girls have all loved the ABC series from Rod and Staff. Instead of just using the ones listed in the guide on certain days we use the entire series from start to finish. Grace is working on Hearing and Helping and will soon be in the next book.
Beth: 3rd Grade (Preparing Hearts for His Glory: Unit 1 first half)
My girls all start their guides on the “young end” as it is explained by ages. They do well, but there comes a point where we usually need to go half-speed for a bit. Preparing is a pretty enormous jump up from Bigger as far as work-load is concerned so even though she is prepared, I wanted to ease Beth into the greater amount. This was a good choice because she has thoroughly enjoyed taking her time as we are learning new skills and she is gaining more independence in her learning.
Each of my girls has a tablet in addition to our schoolroom computer. As they get older many of their books are on the Kindle App and they use the Bible as well. Here Beth is studying her Bible verse for the week. Most days they use a traditional Bible, but many times for the story time portion I’ll use the app because I can choose a more kid-friendly translation.
I also use the myHomework App each day. They have a list of their assignments and can work on many things on their own which helps them with their independence and keeps us all on task!
Beth is one of those kids who finds just about everything in school easy. She rarely misses a problem in math, unless she is feeling crabby and not really trying very hard. You can see the calculator there. She does NOT use this to calculate answers, but rather to check her work on her own. She doesn’t always do this, but I’m finding great value in allowing them to find their own mistakes in math. It has been very useful for both of my older girls to do this.
We use both All About Spelling and the standard dictation written in the Heart of Dakota guides for my girls. I see good things coming from this with regards to their reading. We did complete the basic phonics curriculum and my girls are all really good readers. I feel All About Spelling is a natural way to continue reading instruction alongside spelling because of the phonetic practice they are receiving. Three levels of All About Spelling calls for some creative scheduling! I’ll be writing up a post about that soon.
One of the new skills Beth is learning in Preparing is research. I do not use the internet unless absolutely necessesary. We have acquired Encyclopedias, several dictionaries, and a large assortment of other resource books for the Bible, history, and science through gifts and yard sales. I much prefer this type of research because it is more reliable and is teaching them more than just a search function online. They already know how to do that, so I’m hoping to increase their knowledge this way. I’m very pleased that when my girls want to know the answer to a question they have they usually ask what book to look in first.
Beth’s first research assignment was about a coat of arms. It took us some time finding a book with some good pictures, but one of my yard sale finds (A retiring teacher’s sale!) was the perfect source. After she was able to answer some of the questions we started work on her own coat of arms. Since we are taking two weeks to finish up unit 1, she will finish this next week.
For history we began my favorite book we’ve used in Heart of Dakota, Grandpa’s Box. Even if you aren’t using Heart of Dakota curriculum, even if you aren’t homeschooling for that matter, this book is a must-have for families looking to disciple their kids and point them to Christ throughout the Scripture. I absolutely treasure this book and it is one which will remain with us for years to come.
Rose: 5th Grade (Creation to Christ: Unit 14)
Rose has grown up through the Heart of Dakota curriculum and she is the reason we continue through and never even consider another company. I’ve seen her grow and mature in her studies and in her love for God. I can’t say enough about how gently this curriculum has helped me to disciple her in her faith. She can’t wait to get started and usually asks the night before if she can begin working on school when she gets up if I’m not downstairs yet. Several times this past week I found her up at 6:30 busily reading history or working on a project with great zeal and excitement. I don’t have quite the enthusiasm she does that early in the morning, but it makes my heart smile to see her so eager and happy to learn.
Up until this summer math has been a bone of contention between us. This was the subject that revealed her tendencies to learn towards perfectionism to the point of extreme anxiety way back in 1st grade. Ever since that point she has said repeatedly, “I hate math.” and “I’m not good at this.” It broke my heart because I know just how able she really is. We finally settled on a math curriculum which we all enjoy, Math Mammoth, and I slowed down to accommodate her. About a month ago as we were working she suddenly looked up at me and said, “You know what? Math is my favorite subject now!” I’m not sure why, but I’m praying this remains! She definitely has more confidence and doesn’t get quite as upset when we have to rework some problems together.
Spelling and handwriting are two more areas which I have seen sudden maturity. I have a suspicion there might be some very, very minor dyslexic tendencies which she displays. Nothing which would be severe enough to show up in a classroom potentially, but consistent enough I see it. She has begun to more carefully address spelling issues and be more concerned that she is not only spelling correctly, but also writing more neatly. This is a relief. I’m not certain when most kids come to that point, but I was starting to wonder if it would ever happen!
We love history! As Rose progresses through this guide she can’t seem to learn enough to satisfy! I’m so grateful for all the resources we have at her disposal to dig more deeply. We are having some great discussions about historical events and she loves researching for her history projects each week. She is also really good to help her younger sisters find out more information or understand what they are learning more clearly. She has some teacher in her and I would not be surprised if her dream to be an art teacher comes alive some day.
We purchased the E-book for many of the HOD titles this year to save some money. I really like that we both have a copy to read from for the read aloud times together, and she loves using her tablet as much as she is allowed for school. I’m not sure if she is reading her main history text or one of the extra books here, but this is quite often how I find her reading.
Oh the first week after break…glad we’re back at it, but I couldn’t help but feel like I needed a vacation to recuperate from our vacation! Anyone with me? But, we persevered and got a good start in the new year.
Preparing: Unit 31
We are so close…so close…to finishing up this guide. I can’t help but feel a little anxious to get to the end. I always feel this way. Sometimes I forgo the last few units if I feel like I just want to move forward, but I’m not doing that this time. Preparing is such a sweet guide and we are both enjoying it immensely. Here she’s reading about Peter the Great. We had to catch up from the previous unit learning about Shakespeare because our library had it at the beginning of the year, but not anymore when I needed it! I save a lot by using what our library has from the HOD books, but every once in a while I run into a situation like this. No biggie though. I hopped onto the ABE Books website and snagged a copy.
History vocabulary was once a pain to get through for various reasons. This year I’m letting Rose define what words she already knows aloud and only write out the ones she doesn’t know. She likes this and does well with it. She still has to write her sentences, but this is working to keep her on task.
One of the things Rose is enjoying this year is writing poetry based from the Robert Lewis Stevenson poems we are reading each week. This week was supposed to be a multiple paragraph writing, but she chose to do a poem instead which was really liked.
Bigger: Unit 13
I really, really wanted to be to unit 17 by Christmas, but since that didn’t happen I’m letting my original plan go and be okay with that. I’m really good at planning and not so good at keeping the plans loose. But Beth is doing great and doesn’t care one bit we’re behind where I’d planned to be so I’m taking her lead in that! She had some grammar tests to finish this week that I thought she had done before Christmas, but hadn’t checked yet because of kids coming down sick and distracting me! No big deal to her though. She sort of sighed when I told her, shrugged her shoulders and carried on.
Dictation has been going quite smoothly…until right now. Beth suddenly got stuck on one particular set and we spent an entire week on it! Now we’re past it and she’s fine. Whatever mental block she faced, she overcame and I’m grateful she persevered!
Sometimes I feel a little jealous of Beth. Math makes so much sense to her and she easily handles new concepts and ideas. She loves nothing more than to work on new math concepts, as long as it doesn’t take too long! This week she’s working on geometry and building shape patterns with smaller shapes. Think pattern blocks, but for older kids. I found an app for my iPad which she enjoyed using to complete the pattern assignments.
My oldest girls really work well together and do a good job of staying on task for the most part. They have their moments of being distracted, especially Beth. Her biggest challenge is wanting to play with her youngest sister. They like to chatter while working which can be distracting for Rose so I have to get creative and sometimes send one or both out of the room to work alone. She hates this, so it is quite the incentive to settle in and focus!
Little Hearts: Unit 2
Well, after several months of waiting, Grace is finally in Little Hearts for His Glory! The first time I taught this was in 2008. I’m looking forward to this third time around and Grace is even more excited to have history and activities just like her big sisters. This is a picture of her working on her poetry for the week which she thoroughly enjoys.
This little girl is such an avid reader! She is working through the 1st grade readers for Abeka, but she’s charging through chapter books like crazy. Magic Tree House, Imagination Station, American Girl…she just can’t get enough of the written word and it makes my heart smile. She doesn’t always understand a word, but she’s quick to come and ask without being frustrated. Her older two sisters didn’t accept help as easily and I see so much benefit in her easy way of handling both questions and corrections.
When we’re done with her work for the day she begs for more, so to keep her occupied I pull out one of the many fun learning games I’ve collected through reviews, freebies, or friends who gifted them to us. This is one of her favorites currently, the Cookie Sheet Challenge for sight words. Such a fun and simple activity which is already helping her build spelling skills. You can click the link to see my review, but forgive the lack of pictures. All of the pictures from my older posts have disappeared. Boo!
Here is another fun activity. I have no clue where these little cards came from, but they are like puzzles that spell three-letter words. She loved doing this and it occupied her happily for about 45 minutes!
Okay, so there was our week. It was great and I’m glad to be done with the first week of the new year. I’m anticipating the year more now!
It’s been a while, right? Well my unintended break from blogging has ended. We’ve gotten past the really rough spot we were in getting work done happily and weathered a rather wicked cold. We enjoyed a wonderful visit from Grampy and Grammy from Florida, celebrated Grandpa’s (my dad’s) birthday, and had a delicious Thanksgiving feast! Oh, and we also spent a few days in Atlanta. So, now you see why I haven’t been around blogging!
JUST in time for Christmas I have an awesome giveaway to bless one of my readers with! My kids love Signing Time and they have a brand new Christmas collection just in time for the holiday!
Here is a little peek into just this past week. Maybe I’ll get some posts about our Atlanta field trips up soon!
So after Christmas I plan to have Grace begin Little Hearts for His Glory. She’s already handling Kindergarten math and 1st grade reading, so I’m certain she is ready. Honestly, she was probably ready a little sooner, but with the problems we were having staying on task and with a good attitude the last thing I wanted to do was add in another guide!
She’s been begging me to learn to tie her shoes so we pulled out the practice shoe someone gave to us a while ago. It somehow doesn’t seem possible that my littlest sweetie is old enough to be learning to tie her shoes…and be in Kindergarten! But she is, and I have to embrace it.
The big news for the week is Grace has finally mastered the correct way to write an S!!!! Yippee!!!! I have to admit the reason I am so happy about this is a little selfish. I’m not sure if you experience this or not, but at times when my girls have something academic they do not know or haven’t yet mastered I am given a raised eyebrow and the ever so subtle, “Is this something you are working on?” comment. I’m grateful these comments and looks don’t come from family, but they can be a little frustrating nonetheless. So, this is a personal victory of sorts.
Grace enjoys her end of books assessments in the ABC series from Rod and Staff. This week she said, “Is this like a test?!?!?” She thinks it’s great because she knows her big sisters take tests and so it’s just such a big deal in her mind.
Bigger Hearts for His Glory: Unit 10
We’re plugging away in Bigger Hearts and honestly it is so much easier. Nothing like completing a guide once before to make it seem like a piece of cake the next time around! Everything about school is easier with Beth. Maybe it’s because she’s heard it all before so it sounds familiar, or maybe that she isn’t quite the perfectionist that her older sisters is. Who knows, but I typically find her more laid back even if she is always asking when we’ll be done so she can go play. She’s started reading some of this history on her own by her request. I am happy to say yes most of the time because she is still comprehending and she’s moving forward with independence in her learning!
The girls did their vocabulary words on the same day this week…by accident. I accidentally had Rose’s guide turned a page ahead. Whoops! Anyway, they shared the dictionary and helped each other look for words, so maybe this happy accident will occur again!
Whenever I tell Beth it’s time for a timeline entry she bounces up and down and says, “Yay!” What more could I ask for? All my girls love history, but Beth seems to engage a bit more in the history right now. She loves early American biographies so Bigger has been a great fit for her.
This week I really started working with her on rhyme scheme. As an English teacher I really love how much literature is emphasized in the Heart of Dakota curriculum, especially poetry. My daughters are so very comfortable with poetry and I anticipate their ability to understand and analyze poetry to only increase as we progress. To begin their rhyme scheme instruction I teach them to highlight or underline the last words in each line of poetry which rhyme with each other in the same color. It is very simple and is a very visual way to see rhyming patterns. She loved it so much she begged me to go back and find the rhyming patterns in her previous poems! She didn’t really have to beg, but this is how she asked!
Last but not least, can I just say I am so happy that my daughters love grammar. I didn’t really learn to love it until my history of English class in college, but I did appreciate the order and need for it. I envisioned groans and complaints every time we cracked the grammar books, just like I experienced when I was teaching full-time. Not with these girls of mine! They love it and seem to enjoy picking out sentence parts. That’s what comes of learning in an environment without peer pressure to dislike some aspects.
Preparing Hearts for His Glory: Unit 28
My ever studious first-born rarely smiles in these pictures, but she really loves to have fun! Rose seems to separate school into a work-is-serious type of category. At least, that is how she wants to look when I’m snapping pictures! We talk a lot about diligence and the need to work this way each day. She made great effort this week to work diligently and also helped her sisters stay more focused. Such a sweet, grown up little 9-year-old!
This week Rose very much enjoyed our book-mark history project. I modified it a bit because I was concerned the original instructions would leave it too thick and break the binding in her Bible eventually. So we used 3 flat ribbons to mark sections in the Scriptures and she was so pleased she asked to make more for Christmas gifts!
Rose writes a 3-5 sentence narration (or summary if you aren’t familiar with Charlotte Mason terminology!) about one of the history readings each week. This weeks turned into a full-page! When I realized she had written so much I reminded her it didn’t have to be that long. She said, “Yes it did! There were too many things I needed to say!” I think I have a writer on my hands. Here is what her narration about the Aztecs…
The Aztecs were very civilized people. They had houses, treasure, and temples. Now the Aztecs were not Christians and they worshiped idols and sacrificed human beings to their gods. Cortes sailed to conquer them. The Aztecs thought that their ship was a bird that sent them from heaven. Cortes burned the ship so the sailors could not go back and then they started to shoot cannons which the Aztecs thought were lightening. But their leader offered him gifts. Then Cortes went into the temple to get their leader to become a Christian, but he wouldn’t, so Cortes captured him. This caused great fighting, but they were no match against shells and cannons.
We had an excellent conversation about why what the Aztecs were doing went against God’s Word, but Cortes’ actions weren’t godly either. One of the things I’ve loved about Preparing Hearts for His Glory is how my daughter is encouraged to think critically on her own about the rights and wrongs in history. While we don’t delve into all the dirty and dark corners of the past, we touch on them enough for her to begin realizing how people sometimes do things in the name of God, without really doing them for that reason in their hearts.
We are taking our time reviewing the multiplication math facts. The first time around they didn’t seem to stick and higher level multiplication just wasn’t going to happen. I’m so grateful I paused and reflected before pushing her on to something which would cause greater frustration. As my husband is fond of reminding me, “This is why we homeschool, right?” I’m grateful for my man to remind me of this so faithfully!
I keep hearing that eventually all the spelling rules we are learning through All About Spelling and dictation will translate beyond spelling lessons. I’m still waiting for that to happen, but in the meantime, All About Spelling level four is going splendidly. Rose and Beth both typically remember the previous rules we have studied without pause. Grace will start this up in January as well…oh boy! Three levels of Heart of Dakota and three levels of All About Spelling! We’ll see how long my sanity holds out.
So there was our week. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway!