Week in Review: Week of April 25-29

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

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

Week in Review: November 30-December 4


It’s been a few weeks since I have written about what’s been happening in our homeschool! We’ve been around, but we were off our typical schedule for a little bit. During that time we had the chance to visit Washington DC as well as some of our families! Visiting Mt. Vernon was a HUGE highlight, especially for Grace. She was so excited to see both where George Washing slept and where he ate his breakfast! 
When we got home from this trip we were all a little ragged. A week of field trips will do that to you! So we took the week off from Heart of Dakota and just worked on some follow up activities from our DC trip as well as some math and language arts. The following week was Thanksgiving so we had school the first three days of the week, but kept it simple again and didn’t delve into our normal workload. 
Finally we are back to normal! And believe it or not, this week was what I consider normal. We didn’t have any out of the ordinary circumstances (doctor visits, field trips, illness, etc.) and it flowed so very smoothly. No doubt three weeks away from our routine had something to do with that! 
Grace: Little Hearts for His Glory Unit 33

One more unit! Only one more unit and Grace will be graduating on from Little Hearts. This guide has been so precious this third time around. I can appreciate it with her more for so many reasons. I know what to expect and having done the activities and projects twice already I’m very confident in knowing what to do (usually!). Her older sisters are able to work independently and I do not have any younger littles who need Mommy’s attention while I’m teaching her. Most of all, she has devoured the history. I have a feeling growing up hearing her sisters learn history has given her an edge in this regard even though both of my other girls also really love the subject. 

Handwriting is going beautifully and Grace is finally at the point where she is making her letters neater and can work on regular lined paper. We’re continuing on with Handwriting Without Tears (which was so generously given to us by a friend!) at the pace of 2 pages a day. 
Over the Moon! This is the best way to describe how Grace felt this week about learning to tell time on a “real clock” as she calls it! Just last week she told me she thought she would just stick to digital clocks. She said, “I don’t think I’ll learn about circle clocks, Mommy. Number clocks are easier!” She did enjoy our first few lessons about time though.
If you are looking for a good way to review math facts, I highly recommend Math Rider. I reviewed this with the Old Schoolhouse Review Crew three years ago and our family purchased the game once the review period was over. It has been worth every penny as all three of my girls are solidly able to recall their math facts. They enjoy the story scenarios and I love how I can track their progress and see which specific facts are still an issue. All three use this several times a week and sometimes even play during their free screen time! 
Beth: Preparing Hearts for His Glory Unit 7

FULL SPEED AHEAD! This was the week! I moved Beth into unit 7 at full pace and she did a fabulous job! I didn’t tell her I was doing so because I didn’t want her to worry about whether she could handle it or not. My husband teaches the older two girls while Grace and I attend/teach classes on Mondays. When I came home at lunch she said, “Mommy, it seemed like more work today, but I didn’t mind and I still finished early! And this was true for the rest of the week. I’m glad we were able to go ahead and begin full speed before Christmas because while we are all ready for routine after the break, getting back to steady work isn’t always the easiest. 
Math is very easy for Beth. In all honesty, everything is easy for Beth. I rarely see her struggle except in areas of neatness or following directions because she is in a hurry. So even though she doesn’t necessarily struggle with her math facts, I have her complete Math Rider exercises and it has only benefited her. I caught her working on division the other day even though we haven’t covered this concept even a little bit yet. She has a mind which grasps mathematical concepts quickly and just from hearing me teach Rose about division she has caught on and quickly moves on. 
One of the things I had held back on was the copywork in Preparing. This week I gave Beth her very own Common Place Book where she will write quotations, Scripture, and meaningful facts from what we are learning. Her’s is covered in panda’s on the cover because they are her favorite animal. 
We are continuing on with All About Spelling and Beth actually really loves this program. Again, spelling is very easy for her, but she loves using the tiles and enjoys learning all the rules. 
We also still work through the dictation as written in the Heart of Dakota guides and I’m very pleased with her progress. You can see her adorable panda journal in the bottom left corner!
Rose: Creation to Christ Unit 27

Rose continues to excel in this guide. She loves learning as much as her younger sisters and sets an excellent example of diligence. Because I create at weekly grid for them to check off their work for each day there are often times she gets up and begins schoolwork on her own without my prompting. She knows what she can manage independently and likes having this freedom. In fact this week she helped her younger sisters get started on work while I was still getting dressed for the day. They were so proud to be able to tell me the 2 or 3 things they had accomplished before our official start time of the day and I know Rose had a lot to do with prompting this. 

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? 

We do not us the recommended Bible along with Creation to Christ because we own so many Bibles already! Instead we use Illustrated Bible Stories from Masterbooks. While it doesn’t match up absolutely perfectly we use it when it does and just read the passage directly from Scripture when it doesn’t. This is the main reason I love Heart of Dakota. My girls are learning to study God’s Word on their own, consistently, faithfully, and deeply all the while on their level.  

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!

If you have a HOD blog make sure to link up below!

Week in Review: October 12-16

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…

Rose – 5th Grade: Creation to Christ Unit 22
Rose has really enjoyed the notebooking pages in Creation to Christ. We really like the erasable gel pens from Frixion and there are often coupons for these in the Sunday paper. For coloring pictures and the timeline portion we use sharpie markers. We have worked towards neater handwriting without lines as well as proof reading. One of the best ways we work on that is for me to read her work out loud phonetically. This helps her hear both her grammar and spelling mistakes…and sometimes it gives us quite a giggle! This is also a little secret way I’m helping my perfectionist daughter treat her mistakes a little lighter. When we can laugh about it together she doesn’t take it so seriously. 
We started reading about Cleopatra this week. Rose reads her story time assignments to herself. Running three guides and a part-time business from my home teaching piano every afternoon means we have made a few changes to how the Heart of Dakota guides are done. I don’t mind because we still discuss the reading selections. I like how much my girls are learning independently. 
Here are my girls working on their weekly history projects. They were so sweet chatting away as they worked. Rose kept telling Beth how much fun her project was going to be. My girls get really excited about seeing one another do things. I used to wonder what it would be like when the were all doing projects and if they would wish they were doing each other’s. I certainly would understand that, but they seem to just take it as a matter of “this is how we do things around here”. They also are really great about complimenting each other’s efforts which is sweet to observe. 
Beth – 3rd Grade: Preparing Hearts for His Glory Unit 5 (1st half)


Beth never really seemed interested in art until this year. She was not at all excited when we first began Draw and Write Through History, but now she really seems to like it. She takes more time with her drawings and I even catch her drawing the same thing later on just for fun sometimes. 
Cursive is getting much, much easier. It’s just a matter of time. Her letters still seem a bit awkward, but I know it will come. Her printing seemed to improve overnight this summer and we will keep plugging away at cursive!
Here she is working hard at her Egyptian hieroglyphics project. She was frustrated at first because it wasn’t turning out like she expected. So I helped her see how best to etch in the hieroglyphics, she smoothed out my work and did her own pretty quickly. And yes, her body position is just about as awkward as it appears in this picture! The way my kids contort themselves while they study amazes me, but I’m glad we have the freedom for this. Beth is typically the one wanting to work on the floor. Rose likes to sit at a table Grace would rather dance her way through her work!
Grace – Kindergarten: Little Hearts for His Glory Unit 28
I love this picture! While Grace and I were working on Spelling Beth couldn’t help but listen in. She was supposed to be doing her copywork I think, but I didn’t really mind. Every time Grace spelled something correctly she would say, “That was good!”
I have a favorite handwriting program (Fundanoodle!) but, when you are gifted a handwriting series for free, you say, “Great!” and fly with it! My girls have honestly all used something different and they’ve all done fine. Grace is now in the second handwriting book for Handwriting Without Tears. I was having her do 1 page a day, but she has been asking to do more, so I think I may plan more for this coming week. 
Grace is so excited about her history now and sometimes enjoys reading it on her own. I have a feeling watching her big sisters do this is part of the reason, but I’m grateful she finds so much joy out of learning on her own. We actually call her our little dictionary because she loves to define words and if she doesn’t know what something means she’s quick to ask. She is always thinking and driven by curiosity. Her eagerness to know more is contagious!
Did you have a good week on your own journey through Heart of Dakota? We’d love to hear about it! Don’t forget to link-up below!

Week in Review: Ocober 5-9

Our weeks are in a nice routine now so that when we do deviate from the “normal” like last week it really isn’t a big deal and feels more like a break. The only frustrating thing for the girls this week was that their year-round school friends from across the street were on break and we kept plugging away. It was nice that their friends didn’t have homework in the afternoon and could play longer! Especially once the rain subsided. We certainly got a “wetting” as Winnie the Pooh would put it! 
Beth – 3rd Grade: Preparing Hearts for His Glory: Unit 4, 2nd half
Beth has settled into our routine with Preparing much quicker than I anticipated. She seems to take added workload a little more in stride than her older sisters. Perhaps knowing what is coming helps her in that way. The only thing she does not love doing right now is the cursive copy work. We did however manage to get through it this week with minimal sighs and no complaints. This may have been due to the fact that she lost certain screen-time privileges for pulling out her complaints the week prior. 
When it comes to whining and complaining I take the timeless advice of Barney Fife…
Beth really loves her history projects. I’m doing much, much better this year about making sure they happen but it is easier that she is taking two weeks for each unit. We’ll see if I continue to do this well once we move to full-speed! 
Grace – Kindergarten: Little Hearts for His Glory: Unit 27
Grace loves studying her Bible verses out of her “real” Bible as she loves to call it. She can read them on her own and seems to feel very grown up as she studies in another room and comes back to recite to me. We talk about what the verses mean, but she needs much less help from me. While it is a little bitter sweet sometimes I love that she, and her sisters, are becoming independent learners. I’m facilitating the process, but they are understanding how to discover and discern for themselves which is really what my purpose is. 
History is so much fun with this little sweetheart. She has such a passion and excitement for life! We spent some time learning about George Washington these last couple of weeks and she is very much anticipating our visit to Washington DC very soon which will include a visit to Mt. Vernon. 
A couple of years ago we were gifted a set of Handwriting Without Tears. While it isn’t the program I recommend most often (I really like Fundanoodle handwriting!) I can’t complain about free! She does tend to rush a lot when she writes and we are working mostly on taking time to do the best she can. I tell her, and her sisters, quite often that I do not expect perfection, but I do expect their best effort. 
Rose – 5th grade: Creation to Christ: Unit 21
When we started Write With the Best I was a bit nervous. I kept seeing comments that people did not like it so I was a little nervous. My background as an English teacher tends to make me very, very picky about what kind of Language Arts materials we use. I can say now we absolutely love this program! Here are some of my reasons…
1. Using the model of classic literature
2. Editing practice
3. Focusing on one concept in each lesson
4. Small steps for longer lasting projects
Rose has also been excited to get back into the Draw and Write Through History books now. She loves these and her art is improving all the time. She usually uses a pencil to draw, then outlines with an erasable pen and colors with sharpie markers. The results have been really beautiful. 
The girls finish up math and language arts after their science class on Wednesdays. This was one of the first days of sunshine in the south after all that rain! They enjoyed a honey lollipop on the back porch while doing their reading. All three girls are here, but Grace is sitting on a little stool in between the older two lower on the ground. 
Great week for us! How about you! 
If you are an HOD blogger make sure you link up below! 

Week in Review: August 24-28

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.

Rose: 5th grade ~ Creation to Christ Unit 17
Like many homeschooling mamas before me I’m always concerned if I’m doing enough. Rose tends to get the brunt of this because she is my oldest and with her it is always new territory! As I discussed this years curriculum with my husband he did a great job of helping me think through what was necessary and what was fluff or overkill. One of those areas was vocabulary. I guess the traditional school mindset of a set of weekly vocabulary words was just stuck in this English teacher’s head. We have been using Vocabu-Lit for the last few years and I really liked it, but I realized my voracious readers don’t really need a formalized vocabulary system in addition to what Heart of Dakota does throughout the guides. So we’ve dropped that. Rose was disappointed at first, but I think she likes having one less assignment, especially since the reality last year was that she knew every word before we even did the lesson!
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.

We seem to be hot or cold with math. She loves it, or hates it. Geometry has proven to be delightful for her and I anticipate beginning back with Life of Fred for supplement very soon.

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.

Learning Together

PicMonkey Collage

We are doing more “together” learning this year. Since we don’t utilize Heart of Dakota science after Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory we are going to do that together throughout the year as we have time. We are also going through a sweet little health course from Rod and Staff. It is very traditional and I personally love it. Not to mention it is a great price! All three girls are participating and it was a fun first unit. Even though it is graded for 2nd grade it didn’t feel too old for Grace or too young for Rose. it will be a great fit I think and they seemed to really like it. My girls don’t typically balk at our schooling except for the amount. Every once in a while they feel I give them too much, but that hasn’t come up yet this year. 

Weekly Review: August 17-21

We had a pretty average week across the board. I started teaching piano lessons full time and we began our schedule as if the girls were already taking their classes at our local homeschool learning schedule. I will feel more comfortable if we can practice this and this week went quite well. The basic change is that on Wednesdays the girls will only have math and language arts. We are squeezing a full unit of history (and science for Grace) into 3 days a week. This week went fine. We’ll see how this goes throughout the year. You may notice everyone wearing the same clothes in most of these pictures. Yup…one main day of pictures from this week! I’m glad I chose a good day with fun stuff going on. 
Grace – Kindergarten: Little Hearts for His Glory Unit 22

So if you have noticed that Grace sometimes has more pictures than her sisters or why she is looking at the camera more I want to clear the air and let everyone know that no, she is not getting preferential treatment! Typically she is not merely willing for me to take pictures, but she is all about the pose! Not to mention that her personality is wide open. She always has a good week although as we are approaching 6, she tends to dissolve into tears more quickly than last year.
We finished up with Fundanoodle this week. It was a bit sad to say goodbye to this series, but move on we must! We are continuing with Handwriting Without Tears. The reason I’m doing this is that a friend purchased the series and then decided she didn’t want it anymore and gave it to me. Anytime I’m given material for free I’m very grateful! 
Grace began using Math Rider this summer and loves being just like her big sisters practicing her math facts. I love that with Math Rider I can set the range to easier number sets for her and harder sets for her older sisters. 
All About Spelling is going great! Grace loves doing the tile portion of the lesson. 
This is one of my favorite pictures of the week! We are reading Owl at Home using the Emerging Readers questions in the Beyond guide. This is such a fun book. Grace loves finding humor in everyday life and she can’t get through a page in this book without giggling, and let me tell you, her giggle is simply adorable!
We missed the science lesson last week about the earth being round (Not that uncommon around here) and so we went back and did the activity this week (Rather uncommon!). She loved spinning the globe round and round.
Another science experiment we did had to do with absorption or repelling of water onto an object. She really enjoys this. 
Beth – 3rd Grade: Preparing Hearts for His Glory Unit 2 (first half)

Beth had a good week although I’m really glad we are going at half speed. This is very good for her right now as she does need a work-load increase, but not so much as to burn her out. 
This week’s research was about Noah and the Flood. We spent quite a bit of time researching both in secular encyclopedias and biblical reference books. A wonderful discussion about discerning while we read. 
Math comes easily for Beth, so when she hits something that is harder she almost always gets upset. We had a few bumps this week because of that, but we made it through and will be pressing on next week! 
Beth excelled at her poetry writing this week! I really like the poetry pages from the files in the Heart of Dakota facebook group. Because she is on the young end of the guides ages this really helps her to not feel so overwhelmed. 
Beth probably doesn’t need Math Rider to retain math facts, but I still think it is good practice and she thinks its just plain fun! You can see here an example of the story-line and this is what captivates my sweet girl. 
Rose – 5th grade: Creation to Christ Unit 16
Rose is always so serious about her studies. Although the pictures don’t always show it, she really loves what we do most of the time!
We continued our geometry unit this week and Rose learned about measuring angles with a protractor. Her biggest challenge was making sure she lined everything up correctly. 
This week I purchased some thin colored Sharpie markers for her drawings in her notebook. 
I have a good husband! 
Rose loves reading her history in the living room. Mostly because she realized last year she can focus better and the couch is more comfortable! 
Both Beth and Rose are learning typing and Rose enjoys typing her writing assignments from Write With the Best. She is doing really well with this program and I have to say that I absolutely love the way Write With the Best teaches writing! 
We had a great week! I’d love to hear about yours. If you are a Heart of Dakota Blogger you can join in the Weekly-Link Up by clicking below! 

Week in Review: August 10-14

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!

Grace: Little Hearts for His Glory (Unit 21)


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…

She finished up one level of the Rod and Staff ABC series and forged on into the next. I’m having her focus on neatness in her coloring and really trying her best. Grace tends to get so excited about what we are doing she hurries through it to find out what we are doing next! I love her zeal for learning and life in general, but this year one of our big focuses will be patience and best effort. Here she is using her colored pencils to color the animals on the first page to match what they look like on the cover. 
We finished up the main portion of the Fundanoodle handwriting book and now we are just going over the letters as review. Soon we will be moving forward onto words and sentences!
Math hit a bit of a bump this week as we started looking at fact families and how numbers relate to one another. We also added in some new math vocabulary like “fewer than” and “how many more” as related to word problems. Grace wasn’t exactly a fan of these new things because she had to put on the brakes so I could teach her the new concepts. She much prefers independent learning. 
Beth: Preparing Hearts for His Glory (Unit 1, 2nd half)

Beth was a bit perturbed at math this week as well. Honestly, I think this mostly came from the fact that she had been exposed to some type of poisonous plant which resulted in the need for some medicine which left her rather sleepy. Who wants to do math when you are sleepy? Most kids don’t want to do it when they are awake! But we made it through and even though it took longer than normal she did quite well. 
This week as we finished up unit 1 Beth was very excited to begin her new timeline! My girls have loved the Heart of Dakota method for timelines which includes drawing their own pictures. There are some great files in the various social media groups for Heart of Dakota with pictures, but I wouldn’t trade having my girls artwork in this form at all. She loved this first card about Creation.

Just like Rose, Beth loves the Draw and Write Through History book. She was not thrilled with the cursive writing portion and we clearly will need to work some on handwriting, but we will get there. I just have to remember each child is different and some will dislike certain portions of their schoolwork that others didn’t. This also could have been due to her mild sleepiness during the day. It will be interesting to see how next week plays out. 

Our first attempt at drawing Eve resulted in a disastrous meltdown that included huge tears, a scribbled mess of a design, and a ripped paper. So the next day we started over and I drew alongside my girl. We had a much better outcome this day!

This week Beth had her first taste of diagramming. Her main response was, “Why in the world are we doing this?” So I had the opportunity to explain how this shows us a map of a sentence and helps us make sure that as we create sentences we are placing words in the correct spot as well as using them in the correct way. She said, “Oh, so like a treasure map for a sentence?” Yup…we’re going to go with that! 
Written narration is new for Beth in Preparing. I had her narrate to me and then copied down what she said. We will be working on her handwriting through this as well as her narrating skills. Spacing is the biggest issue with her. 

Rose: Creation to Christ (Unit 15)

So when we need help in math, it’s always Daddy to the rescue! Sometimes it is because we have been working at it too long, or maybe because my way of explaining hasn’t worked. I’m so grateful my husband is willing to step in and support us! 
So this week with math we tried something new. Instead of doing it first to get it out of the way, we saved it for last. This was unintentional at first, but it cut a good 30-60 minutes off of our day! I’m not sure why except that we started with things that were more interesting, but we will stick with this new scheduling of math for a while to see how it works. 

Adverbs…oh adverbs. Need I say more?
Rose is almost done with Sinbad and Me. If you haven’t read this book, run to your library or local bookstore or Amazon and get it! I read and loved this book as a kid. I remember doing a big book report on this in 5th grade with a house that had windows that opened to give information about the plot. Such a fun storyline for boys or girls and Rose has been begging me to read more each day!
When Rose first started having independent work she was less than thrilled about using the guide. Now she really likes that she’s doing her own work and doesn’t have to wait on me. Usually the directions are easy to follow and this year I’m just making sure I’m doing a better job at the follow-up. 
She was sooooooo excited to find out she gets to use Draw and Write Through History again this year! 
Yeah…we’re all tired! She did manage to start a beautiful picture of the hanging gardens of Babylon from this posture amazingly enough! She’ll finish it up this coming week. 
This year I am striving really, really hard to include all of the art. For various reasons it has been sidelined in the past. This year will be different. So we are going alllllll the way back to Unit 1 for the weekly painting projects and I’m trying to get more than one done in a week. We actually have Unit 2 in the works and it will be finished up tonight. She begged me to paint with her which was a big deal. I used to love art when I was a kid and drew all the time until about junior high. Then for some reason I stopped. While I’m not sure why, I really haven’t picked up any art supplies for years. I decided to give it a go and see what happens. I’ve discovered I actually really like painting! I don’t remember ever working with real water colors like this before and I’m thoroughly enjoying the process! Rose loves that we’re doing these together and we have decided to get some portfolios to keep our work. Rose’s rendition is on the top and mine is on the bottom. 

We are using the guides as well as the tutorials from A Garden for Sara. Her tutorials for each unit are really great. She is quite an amazing artist! 

During one of our breaks this week the girls played with Story Cubes! They love this game! We have 6 differently themed sets and their creativity flowed by leaps and bounds! You can get these online or at Barnes and Noble. 

Week-in-Review: August 3-7

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.

I’m using three guides from Heart of Dakota each day this year and it so far we’re moving along swimmingly. This is my 7th year using Heart of Dakota and so we’re pretty set in our routines. Our three guides are currently Little Hearts for His Glory (continuing on from last year), Preparing Hearts for His Glory (just starting out), and Hearts for Him Through Time: Creation to Christ (continuing on from last year). 


It’s going to be a great year and so far my goal of actually getting the art done is happening! Yay!

Grace – Kindergarten (Little Hearts for His Glory: Unit 20)

P1020003I 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!

P1020009We are close to finishing up Fundanoodle’s lower case letter curriculum. For anyone who likes the idea of Handwriting Without Tears, but feels it is a bit pricey, this is an excellent option. Grace started with the upper case which I had the opportunity to review and I fell in love with this sweet handwriting curriculum. When we are done we will be moving on into the Handwriting Without Tears books, mostly because someone gave us the entire set and I’m all for using what we are given for free!


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.

Here are my girls having fun with each other! Grace was learning about the growth of a tree and Rose said, “Hey! Can I chop the tree down?” Much giggling and laughter followed…and of course some really sweet memories! I love learning together. 
P1010915The simplicity of science at this age is so nice. Real scientific concepts taught in a hands-on, active manner. Grace is super excited to begin a class this year with her sisters at Deerstream Learning Center. She’ll be learning along with her peers two days a week in a gentle and enriching environment. One of the subjects covered is science and she is over-the-moon to begin this new adventure!

I don’t have any pictures from history but we studied about King Richard which is always a fun section. Grace has loved learning all about some of the many fascinating individuals from history. 

The other science topic we covered this week was sound. My budding photographer (aka Rose) asked to take a few pictures so I could make it on the blog this week. Yup, uniform for mom at home is typically a t-shirt and comfy pants! 

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.

P1020011Each 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.

P1010863One 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.

P1010905Spelling 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.

This is one of my favorite pics of the week! Although we have desks and a schoolroom, the girls do not feel bound to remain in an assigned seat. Quite often they get a little closer together, move to another room, sit on the floor, trade desks, and lay in their beds. I don’t restrict this unless I need to be present for whatever they are learning. In this way they can learn where and how they are most comfortable. I like having the option of desks (which they really love!) but also allowing them to move around and learn wherever they prefer at the time. 
How was your week? 

Week in Review: January 5-9

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

Preparing: Unit 31

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

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

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

Bigger: Unit 13

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

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

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

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

Little Hearts: Unit 2

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

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

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

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

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

Week in Review: December 1-5

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

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

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

Preschool:Finishing up…

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

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

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

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

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

Bigger Hearts for His Glory: Unit 10

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

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

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

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

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

Preparing Hearts for His Glory: Unit 28

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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