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!

Yuletide Ice Cube Fair: A Book Look Review

“Is that for me!?! Is that for me!?!” Grace could hardly contain her excitement when I opened the package. We’re a family of die-hard veggie fans. I’ve been watching since high school thanks to an awesome babysitting gig and my husband since college at Liberty University. It was great when we finally had kids and had a legitimate reason to fule our veggie fanaticism!

This sweet little Christmas book from Veggie Tales delighted all three of my girls. My oldest two snuck off with it on separate days and enjoyed the story before I got a chance to read it to their little sister. It is written in poetic verse and feels Seussian in style. Kids always love a good story in rhyme. The characters are true to their personalities and once again Junior teaches us a lesson to remind us to focus on the Savior throughout the holiday.

This book is really, really short and is best suited for preschool and early elementary. Grace could read some of it on her own which really excited her so early readers will thoroughly enjoy it. I appreciated that there was a good message to focus on Christ and the simplistic message is one we can all benefit from remembering.

Grace read it on her own, then asked me to read it to her…then asked if she could read it again! That’s what a good book is like for a kid. They want to read it over and over. If they are bored, it’s difficult to get through the first reading. Rhymes are great because it helps kids learn new words while reading a little faster. They recognize the endings and can often figure out words based on the rhyme pattern.

This is a great book for the Christmas season coming up, the perfect gift for the Veggie Tale fan in your life!

Disclosure:  I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook.com® <http://BookLook.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Week in Review: September 29-October 3

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

First off some highlights…

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

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

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

Grace: Preschool

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

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

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

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

Beth: Bigger Hearts for His Glory Unit 5

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

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

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

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

Rose: Preparing Hearts for His Glory Unit 24

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week in Review: September 22-26

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

Grace: Preschool

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week in Review: September 15-19

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

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

Grace: Preschool

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

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

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

My girls using Heart of Dakota guides!

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

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

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

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

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

Week in Review: September 1-5

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

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

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

Grace: Preschool

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week in Review: August 25-29

First of all….

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

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

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

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

Grace: K4

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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


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

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

Rose: Preparing Hearts for His Glory Unit 19

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week in Review: August 18-22

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

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

Now, on to my girls’ week!

Grace: Preschool and Awaiting the Next Heart of Dakota Guide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rose: Preparing Hearts for His Glory Unit 18

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

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

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

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

Learning Together

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

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

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

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

4 Weeks in Review: April 14-May 9

Trying to catch up on my weeks in review, but seriously…4 weeks? Oops! The end of April and first week of May are always beyond chaotic in our lives. I am wrapping up my literature class at Deerstream Leaning Center as well as gearing up for my piano recital. I manage to squeeze homeschooling in, but just barely and for all my good intentions something has to give. This year clearly it was my blogging!

So here is a bit of our life from the last 4 weeks…seriously, has it really been 4 weeks???? Oy, I need to get back on track!

Preschool: Patiently Waiting to Begin Little Hearts for His Glory

Okay, so patiently may be the wrong word at this point. Grace is seriously chomping at the bit to “do history” and “have activities” like her big sisters! I can’t complain though. Having daughters with insatiable curiosities is a blessing for homeschooling and thankfully Heart of Dakota only increases their hunger for learning, never satisfying it! Sometimes the constant why-factor can become a bit tedious, but I take a moment to breathe and thank the Lord I have girls who want to know more about the world around them!

Since we finished up Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons we moved into the Abeka Kindergarten readers. I have these already because of my daughters one year in Kindergarten at private school. I’ve found these to be an incredible follow up to Teach Your Child.

So far it hasn’t felt redundant for her and we’re zipping through the books rather quickly at one or two a week. Following these we’ll move into the 1st grade readers and All About Spelling.

I love this picture! It captures my sweet little Grace so well. She craves to learn, begs to learn, but she’s every inch a preschooler holding lambie and blankie close while she’s learning. The really cool thing about homeschooling for me is that I can let my Grace move ahead academically at whatever pace she’s comfortable, but allow her to stay where she is emotionally, psychologically, and developmentally. I want to make certain as Grace is excelling beyond her age in academic expectations that I don’t push her too quickly ahead through childhood, if that means a few extra friends join us then so be it.

Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory: Units 23-26

Beth is finishing up the review workbook for 1st grade with Math Mammoth. I’m so happy with this math curriculum. I feel very confident teaching math now, something quite new to me!

I love how it uses real-life to teach mathematical concepts. For instance while reviewing graphing I sent Beth up to her room to graph her stuffed animals! Talk about fun!

We’re pressing ahead with All About Spelling. I’m trying to figure out how to manage three levels which will happen in a few months. Hopefully it won’t be too big of an adjustment.

And in the craziness of our last few weeks I didn’t remember to get a single shot of our history! I do need to mention our history lessons though because nearly every day she asks, “Do we get to read history now?!?!” She loves it and gets so excited when we read or see something that relates back to our history readings.

Preparing Hearts for His Glory: Units 15-17

Here is my seriously little learner, Rose, always the studious focused one…

But she does get a little silly sometimes!
And here is one of the main reasons I’m loving Math Mammoth. Rose still feels self-imposed pressure with math and needing to be perfect, but she’s enjoying learning about it a little more. I gave her a bucket of water, a bunch of measuring cups and off she went to learn about liquid measurement! 
Rose thoroughly enjoys all our history projects. We’ve had to skip a few because of our busy schedule, but I’m getting better at making sure they happen. This boat was particularly impressive and fun…especially since it floated!
Here are a few more things we did during the last few weeks…
Piano Recital!
Fun with friends visiting from the Netherlands! 
Rose got her ears pierced! 
So yeah, it’s been busy. And I managed to squeeze in a few reviews…
AND…there should be a review of this week coming soon!!!!

101 Color & Sing Bible Stories: Review

Grace is my youngest and as the youngest she often gets hand-me-downs for just about everything, especially toys and books. She has a few things that are her own, but just by the course of life almost all her books were once her sisters. She was over-the-moon excited to have a new Bible story book all her own! Grace has grown up knowing all about God and the Bible and enjoys reading the same stories over and over.

101 Color & Sing Bible Stories by Stephen Elkins is a great addition to our library! We have well over 10 Bible story books and that doesn’t even include individual storybooks with Biblical themes. I wondered if this would capture Grace’s interest, but I should have known she would love it!This is much, much more than your average Bible for kids!


For each story there is a child-friendly reading which has the Scripture reference clearly shown, a song to help retain what they learned, and a coloring page which matches the illustration provided. This is one of the most interactive Bible books I’ve seen for kids, and I’ve seen a lot. While the content may be predictable as it is laid out in chronological order this makes it all the more loved by kids. My daughter already knew what the next story would be because she knows the basic order of creation.

Her favorite part so far has been the CDs. She loves listening to the music during her rest time and alternates between the two CDs. Some songs were new, but most were the traditional Sunday School songs my husband and I grew up with. She loved this as well because she immediately was singing along with them all!

This is a great Bible Story book for toddlers and preschoolers whether you have many on hand or this is your first one. The teaching is solidly biblical, yet not too deep for them to understand and the music and coloring pages are the icing on the cake! 

Disclaimer: I received 101 Color & Sing Bible Stories from Tyndale Publishers as part of  the Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review and did not receive any other compensation.