My Blog Adventure!

Welcome to my blog! It's high time this 48-year-old ventures into blog world and joins the ranks of you intriguing bloggers. First off, you should know I love the Lord Jesus Christ with all my heart. I love His Creation, His Word, His forgiveness, His mercy, and His being the Savior of my life. He is my reason for living! After the Lord, my next love in life is my outdoor-lovin', prankster pullin', hard workin' man I've called my husband for 24 years and counting. My 3 sons - to whom this blog is dedicated - have the next piece of my heart, and they fill my world with laughter, love, and laundry. I am calling this MY BLOG ADVENTURE... so hop into blog world with me... let's get to encouraging one another... this could be fun!

Friday, February 28, 2020

Heart of Dakota USI Week 26 and RevtoRev Week 25

Need some encouragement? Check out my devotional for homeschool moms here...
God's Hand in Life's Little Moments devotional

Hi ladies!

I loved posting weekly check-ins for many years, and then photobucket crashed! I missed posting pictures, and alas, my weekly check-in posts faded away.  Well, Photobucket has apparently had some revisions, and I believe it is now working again.  I snapped some pictures this week and thought I'd test drive sharing pics via Photobucket again here in the weekly check-in!

Riley is working on Unit 26 this week. He's been learning about The Compromise of 1850, Statehood for CA, and the Fugitive Slave Law. Here he is with his work in his USI Notebook...

I especially enjoy hearing his talking points narrations from America: The Last Best Hope!  I like how the USI guide's plans help him prepare for these narrations by providing suggested headings for him to jot on an index card. He lists his headings, and then under each heading he lists words, phrases, and brief sentences to reference as he narrates. He also must always plan to share a visual aid that is noted in the plans. Such amazing oral narrations come from this simple prep! It reminds me of when I taught speech class in college. A small index or note card was allowed, and a visual aid was expected to be used as well. Such great prep for future speech-type situations!  In a similar way, the USI Notebooking pages help Riley organize his thoughts on topics by having him choose from a bulleted list of topic suggestions. Then, he writes his thoughts for each topic, each in their own box in his notebook...

I also enjoy the neat Map Trek maps Riley is making as he journeys through USI...

Revival to Revolution:
Emmett is working on Unit 25 this week. He's been learning about Arctic Expansion, Uncle Tom's Cabin, and Japanese Trade. It is interesting that Emmett is often learning about the same things Riley is in USI!  Only on a much younger level. They have had some interesting talks about it!  I was thrilled this week that Emmett did his Carpenter's Wheel history project 100% solo! He followed all the directions on his own, and it turned out so neat!...

I also asked him to try to focus on writing neatly and in straight lines for his written narration in his RevtoRev notebook. What an improvement!  We had a 'case of the messies' for awhile, and this narration was so much neater!...

I am just so happy, in general, with how much Emmett's work has improved this year. Week 25 is a great place to be!  Here he is with his notebook...

Finally, I love having my 3 sons home to hang out together and be each other's best friends!  Homeschooling is such a privilege, and online college is too...

You can check out my blog post about raising my sons to be best friends here...

If you need some encouragement, my devotional for homeschool moms is now available here...

Hope you had a wonderful week, ladies!

In Christ,

Friday, January 31, 2020

Need some encouragement? Check out my devotional for homeschool moms!

Need some encouragement? Check out my devotional written especially to encourage homeschool moms, now available on ebay! I've reprinted this, and as only items directly written into Heart of Dakota guides are carried by HOD, I've made my devotional available on ebay!  

God's Hand in Life's Little Moments 

Be encouraged as a Christian Woman, as a Wife, 

as a Mother, and as a Teacher! 

 Each chapter has a theme and includes devotions encouraging you as a Christian Woman, a Wife, a Mother, and a Teacher!

Days 1 through 4 include an inspirational quote, a personal story, a Bible Connection, a Personal Connection, and a Welcome Retreat prayer.

A Sneak Peek at a Week...

 If you have 10 minutes a day, you have time for God's Hand in Life's Little Moments!

Be encouraged, so you can then go and be an encouragement to others!

In Christ,

How A Little Oral Review Helps a Lot in Singapore Math

How a Little Oral Review Helps in English

My son, Emmett, is in RevtoRev this year. He does well with reading, writing, narrations, poetry, notebooking, projects, experiments - I am so happy with his progress this year as I see him maturing! However, Emmett's hardest subjects remain English and Math. One thing that really has helped him in English is first studying the oral review questions and answers. This kind of 'review' has seemed to help him better retain what he has learned and apply it to his lessons.

How Charlotte Mason Used a Little Oral Review in Narration

Charlotte Mason also advocated reminding oneself what was read yesterday, before continuing on with reading a living book. In fact, in HOD's How to Narrate: Student's List, this is the first reminder: If you are in the middle of a book, briefly remind yourself what was read last time. This has also been very effective with Emmett and his oral narration progress.

One Example of How to Use a Little Oral Review in Singapore Math

So, this past week of math lessons, I decided to give a quick oral recap of our last Singapore lesson. We are working on circumference and area of circles in 6B. So, I began by asking if he remembered how to find the circumference of a circle. He didn't. So, I just said, "Remember we first find the diameter of the circle or the line that goes all the way across. Then, we multiply the diameter times pi. Do you remember what pi is?" He thought it was close to 3. I said, "Yes! Pi is 3.14. So, to find the circumference or distance around a circle, we multiply the diameter by pi or 3.14."

We also learned pi was the same as 22/7. A shortcut is to check if 7 can go into the diameter evenly. If it can, it is much quicker to multiply the diameter by 22/7 than by 3.14. Over the next few days, at the start of our math lessons, I asked him a few quick questions again. This time, he happily answered that to find the circumference of a circle, which was just the outside not the inside of the circle, he would just take pi times the diameter. He'd try 22/7 first if he could use it, but if not, he'd have to multiply it by 3.14.

How a Little Oral Review Helps a Lot!

WOW! I was so encouraged by this! We have now gone on to find the area of a circle is pi times radius times radius. He needed help remembering the difference between radius and diameter, but now he has down both formulas for a circle's circumference and area! If he can't remember things when I ask him, I just say them briefly and clearly as I jot them on a marker board or point to the formula/picture from a past lesson. I don't do this in an "I can't believe you don't remember this" way. Rather, just as a super quick review to help him. When we start a new section, I'm not planning on reviewing the previous section anymore. Just thought I'd share this less-than-a-minute tip that has helped so much in math for Emmett!

In Christ,

P.S. Need some encouragement? Check out my devotional written especially to encourage homeschool moms, now available on ebay! I've reprinted this, and as only items directly written into Heart of Dakota guides are carried by HOD, I've made my devotional available on ebay!  

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Meet Charlotte Mason

Let us take a moment to meet Charlotte Mason, and in doing so, gain inspiration and direction for homeschooling our own precious children! Charlotte Mason was born in England in 1842 on New Year’s Day. Her father was a Liverpool merchant, a simple but refined man who was very fond of books.  Both of Charlotte's parents loved to educate her. As only children themselves, teaching  Charlotte, their only daughter, was a special joy.  Unfortunately, Charlotte's mother died when Charlotte was just 16. Her grief-stricken father died the following year. Suddenly alone in the world, Charlotte lived with friends until at 18, she moved to London. She enrolled in the only training college available to teachers in England at the time.  From these difficult beginnings, Charlotte rose to become an advocate of parents as educators for their children.

Heart of Dakota - Inspired by Charlotte Mason

Heart of Dakota is inspired by Charlotte Mason, and it is our family's hope that you will be too!  So many  educational cornerstones of Charlotte Mason's approach to education form the foundation of Heart of Dakota's approach to learning.  It is no surprise to me that an orphaned young daughter would grasp the importance of the education parents could give their children and long for it herself.  We believe this too.  Through Charlotte Mason's approach to learning, we find we as parents can hopefully give something Charlotte's parents could not - an education provided by loving parents that carries our children to adulthood. 

Education is an atmosphere!

“By the saying, 'education is an atmosphere,' it is not meant that a child should be isolated in what may be called a ‘child environment,’ especially adapted and prepared; but that we should take into account the educational value of his natural home atmosphere, both as regards persons and things, and should let him live freely among his proper conditions.  (Mason 1923: preface).
I think Charlotte longed for her childhood days of her parents lovingly creating a home atmosphere for education.  It was powerful to her, because she once had it and lost it.  She spent her life trying to help parents create this atmosphere of education within the home setting - perhaps because she longed for it herself.  We long for this ourselves as parents, and we also long for it for you, as fellow homeschool parents.  Hence, Heart of Dakota.

A dream dreamed, from an orphaned child, coming to fruition through you!

I believe Charlotte Mason was a strong woman whose difficulties in life brought about a newfound respect for the once well-respected old adage that parents are the best teachers for their children.  Parents love their children as no others could. They are invested in their future, and there is no 'passing on' of the children to a new teacher. The parent is the teacher. She knows her children well, and she has a heart full of love and hope and fortitude to see them through to be the best they can be.
I like to think we as homeschool parents have the love and hope and fortitude for our children Charlotte's parents surely had for her.  Only, Lord willing, perhaps we will be blessed enough to journey on this home education road a little longer.  I believe this was an orphaned child's dream, and it can come to fruition through you. Over the next few weeks, I'll be introducing Charlotte Mason to you as she makes her presence known in Heart of Dakota. I hope you take as much inspiration in meeting her this way as I have.

In Christ,

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Hands-on Learning Engages All Types of Students

From Our House to Yours

Hands-on projects in Creation to Christ bring history to life!

Three days each week in Creation to Christ Emmett progressively works on a history project.  Projects closely correspond with the weekly history theme and give a creative outlet for him to express what he's learned.  They use items I readily have on hand, and they are never the same from week to week.  Emmett adores his history projects!  In fact, he took these pictures himself this week.  He was so proud of his Roman decked out 'soldier!'  His Roman soldier has a helmet, tunic, armour, belt, sandals, and travel pack equipment.  Emmett will not soon forget how a soldier in the Roman Empire was at all times ready for battle! 

Hands-on projects engage every kind of learner!

It's obvious hands-on projects engage children who are kinesthetic or tactile learners, who enjoy movement while learning.  But, did you know they also engage auditory learners, who enjoy talking about what they are learning?  They even engage visual learners, as they see what they create come to life!  Finally, social learners naturally enjoy getting to share their projects with us as moms.  So, every kind of learner benefits from hands-on projects!  

Hands-on map drawings in World Geography bring history to life!

World Geography provides a chronological approach to geography that is based on the history of exploration, discovery, and mapmaking.  It starts with the ancient cultures and ends with polar region exploration.  Ellen McHenry's Mapping the World with Art gives step-by-step DVD instructions to help students make their own world map.  This is only one part of earning World Geography credit, however, it is one of Riley's favorites!  

Hands-on drawing of maps engages learners in a more memorable way!

As students study cartography and mapping through history, they connect in a more memorable way by making their own maps.  Riley understands first-hand how difficult it is to make maps.  This is something that cannot be learned from simply studying others' maps!  As he reads about the struggles cartographers faced making maps, he can empathize with them.  It's not easy to visualize that which you cannot aerially see.  Hands-on drawing helps him commit to memory what he is learning!

Hands-on Book of Centuries entries in U.S. History II bring history to life!

U.S. History II marks the end of a 4-year journey of keeping a Book of Centuries.  Keeping a Book of Centuries is a Charlotte Mason hands-on skill that pairs well with high school students.  Printing, cutting, coloring, and gluing timeline entries helps students gain a  mental picture of individuals and events within a century.  Wyatt wanted me to snap a picture of this today because he 'had an entire 2-page spread' completed!  

Hands-on compilation of a Book of Centuries gives high school students a keepsake of the history studied in high school!

Compiling this Book of Centuries provides a hands-on way to create a keepsake of history that has been studied.  This helps students commit to memory the overall flow of history, rather than memorize individual unconnected facts.  I like how the Book of Centuries is handmade and not just a preprinted timeline chart someone else made professionally.  Wyatt has made reference to keeping his Book of Centuries handy after graduating, just as a chronological resource.  Now that is truly a special high school keepsake from his time spent studying history!  My quizzes I took in history never made their way into my 'have to have reference resources' post high school.  I'm so glad Wyatt has something to show for his years of high school history he cares enough to keep.  This is just more reason to keep meaningful hands-on learning a part of Heart of Dakota from start to finish!  

In Christ,

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Family Time Sharing Together When Doing Separate Guides

From Our House to Yours

Do you have family time sharing together when students are doing separate guides? 
Absolutely! In fact, there are natural times within the day when it just makes sense for our family to share learning. The Roman feast Emmett prepared for his Creation to Christ history activity gave us the perfect time to get together. Emmett dressed in Roman attire and prepared a simple meal. He set places for each of us, explained each course, and served us. Putting his own personality into it, as he often does, he found Roman music online to play in the background. Providing entertainment was another part of the plans in his guide. So, Emmett theatrically read some of his favorite poetry (into a microphone, of course)!  He also became our Roman tour guide, giving us an 'audio tour' of life based on his storytime City reading.  

Riley shared his Essentials in Writing composition with the family as part of the entertainment for the Roman feast. 

Riley chose to write his Essentials in Writing essay about the differences between dogs and cats. I really wanted him to share this with his brothers. We own two dogs and one cat, so I knew his brothers would love this essay. Riley worked hard on this composition piece, and all that was left for him to do was a final edit. Reading aloud an essay is a wonderful way to catch mistakes! So, for many reasons, it made sense to have him read aloud his essay during the Roman feast. 

Wyatt shared his Economics "Enterprising Entrepreneur" project with the family as part of the entertainment for the Roman feast.

Wyatt chose to research Donald Trump for his Economics "Enterprising Entrepreneur" assignment. His research was focused on Donald Trump's real estate success and business savvy that led him to the White House. Part of his grade was to present his project to an audience and allow them to ask questions afterwards. Sharing is easier when others share something too, so adding it to the entertainment of the Roman feast was perfect.

Guard against a few things when planning family sharing times within multiple guides.

There are a few things to guard against when planning for family sharing times within multiple guides. First, adding a lot of additional time to the day causes students who have more work to get behind. This may result in things being skipped in the guide they are actually responsible for completing. Or, it may result in a longer day, which makes being involved in the next family sharing time a negative. 

Having everyone do everything in every guide adds unnecessary time to the day and confuses intended roles.

Second, having everyone do everything in every guide adds unnecessary time to the day as well. It was Emmett's turn to lead the Roman feast. His brothers had their turn years' back when they completed Creation to Christ. So, Emmett was in charge leading the event, and his brothers simply shared in the 'entertainment' part when called upon. The older two siblings were folded into the primary event of the Roman feast. In this role, though they may have thought they could lead it better, their place was on the sidelines. Being the encouraging audience was their role, rather than being the 'star of the show.' One must remember, Creation to Christ is not the guide they are completing. Likewise, when it was Riley's turn to share his Essentials in Writing essay, his siblings took on the role of being the attentive audience. They were to be the encouragers, not the editors.  Editing is Riley's role in this Essentials in Writing assignment. Finally, when it was Wyatt's turn to share his Economics Enterprising Entrepreneur presentation, his siblings took on the role being the attentive audience. Their role was not to interrupt but to listen.  Time for a few questions was provided at the end, and that was the time for them to talk. 

Time Wasters Versus Time Savers in This Particular Family Sharing

  • Waster - making the Roman feast a separate meal on the weekend with extra groceries VERSUS...
  • Saver - making the Roman feast our lunch for the day using what we have on hand

  • Waster - searching endlessly for poetry on the Internet or in books VERSUS...
  • Saver - reading poetry already part of the Creation to Christ Appendix

  • Waster - having everyone dress up for the feast and plan the meal VERSUS...
  • Saver - having only Emmett dress up and plan the meal, which was part of his responsibility in his guide only

  • Waster - having my middle son in World Geography share random things he is learning VERSUS...
  • Saver - having him read aloud his Essentials in Writing assignment and edit it, which he needs to do anyway for his plans

  • Waster - having my oldest son in U.S. History II share random things he is learning VERSUS...
  • Saver - having him read aloud his Economics "Enterprising Entrepreneur" assignment, which is a required part of his plans

The only 'expert' in the sharing is the one carrying out the plans in his guide.

Respect for the one who is carrying out the plans within the guide is a must.  There is no room for 'tips' on how to improve, for interruptions that distract, or for additional knowledge being shared. A positive sharing experience can quickly become a negative sharing experience if someone else is 'always the expert.' The only expert in the sharing is the one sharing.  It is their turn to shine when it is their guide. Others will have a turn to shine when it is their guide's assignment to do so. These are a few of the staples for creating an encouraging, safe environment to share learning together.  Hope it gives you all some ideas! 

In Christ,

P.S. If you want to read more on this topic, Carrie has excellent commentary on this.  Check out her response to the commonly asked question "How will we be learning as a family, if we do separate guides?"

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Personal Style Within the Structure of the Plans, Part 3

Can you encourage personal style within the provided structure of Heart of Dakota's plans?  

Without a doubt!  As I shared last week, the opportunity to include creative personal style is already part of Heart of Dakota’s plans.  So, how are both included then you may wonder?  Well, the daily plans provide specific guidelines for each school subject, which gives structure for each assignment.  Structure might include questions that must be answered, topics that must be addressed, key words that must be included, etc.  So, specific parameters are given, but they need not take away the creativity of personal style!

How can students get creative with their personal style then?
Glad you asked!  Personal style is included in a living books approach to homeschooling, and Heart of Dakota uses a living books approach.  Narrations have structure, like which book to read, which pages to narrate upon, and which kind of narration to give.  However, they still encourage personal style.  Students can choose what to retell, how to retell it, and when to connect it to an author's style.  In contrast to Heart of Dakota's living books approach, a textbook and workbook approach includes a more robotic response.  Likewise, assessments in textbook and workbook approaches include one right answer only questions - not much personal style allowed there!  Instead of this dry approach to learning, Heart of Dakota includes varied assessments within the daily structure of the plans.  

Do you have some examples of personal style being encouraged within the structure of the plans?
Absolutely!  This week, let's chat about my son, Wyatt, who is using U.S. History II.  I’ll start with the 'Key Word' Written Narration assignment.  Wyatt is my 'big picture' narrator, so including key words in his oral narrations is something he does quite naturally.  Writing 4-5 paragraphs in response to his America: The Last Best Hope II reading is something he does well now.  But at the start, we worked together to learn the ins and outs of the structure of the plans.  Underlining each required element of structure helped nothing to get missed.  Initially, I assigned points for each structure noted in the plans.  For example, 10 points for choosing key words, 10 points for including key words in the writing,  etc.  I didn't assign a grade for this as he was still learning how to follow the structure of the plans.  But, if he received 40 out of 50 points, he could see where corrections needed to be made. A few months into the guide, this point system was no longer necessary.  Spending time helping him learn the structure of each assessment set him free to add his own personal style! Once all the structured elements are included, personal style can then be added, and that's when the fun begins!

Key Word Written Narration Assignment

Structure in the Plans: 

  • certain pages must be read
  • a key word list must be made
  • key words must be included in written narration
  • written narration must be 4-5 paragraphs long
  • key words used must be highlighted
  • written narration must be read aloud
  • narration must be edited using Written Narration Skills checklist
Personal Style:           
  • chose own key words to use
  • chose own topics to narrate upon
  • chose how to include key words such as names, dates, places, actions, and/or quotes
  • chose to write in print or cursive
  • chose to read aloud written narration to me
A Few Things to Remember:
Key words are to be chosen by the student. If the key words aren't the words you'd have chosen - for personal style - let it be!  However, structure demands key words are pertinent to the reading and included in the narration. Likewise, students need not be made to write in cursive. But, if the writing isn't legible enough for the student to read it aloud, it must be fixed.

Living Library 'Triple-Entry Journal' Assignment

Structure in the Plans: 

  • certain pages must be read
  • meaningful passages or quotes should be flagged
  • triple column entry format must be used
  • column 1 must include quote
  • column 2 must include the context
  • column 3 must include personal commentary
Personal Style:           
  • chose own quotes or passages
  • chose own personal reaction to share in commentary
  • chose to write quotes in cursive and context and commentary in print
  • chose to read aloud triple-entry journal assignment to me
A Few Things to Remember:
This is an extra credit option in the plans. So, if the quotes chosen aren't your favorite - in the name of personal style - let it be! However, structure demands the triple-entry journal format is followed. So if any portion of the assignment is missing, it must be completed to be called 'done.' 

Key Decisions in U.S. History II History Activities Assignment

Structure in the Plans: 
  • certain pages must be read 
  • certain question must be answered
  • a decision from provided options must be chosen
  • chosen decision must be supported and explained
  • Key decision actually made in history must be read at end
Personal Style:           
  • chose which decision he would have made
  • chose to support his chosen decision by explaining why he would have not chosen the other decisions
  • chose the length of his explanation
  • chose to read his decision aloud to me
A Few Things to Remember:
One of the decisions listed was actually the decision made in history.  However, in the name of personal style, if the student chose a different decision, that's absolutely fine!  That's the goal of this assignment, to show how decisions made in history are not always easy.  Nor are the decisions made always right.  However, structure demands one of the given decisions is chosen, explained, and supported.

British Literature Journal Assignment

Structure in the Plans:
  • ponder the questions in the Introduction
  • read and annotate given pages
  • must include given annotation
  • must reflect in writing upon given questions in British literature journal
  • must view Pride and Prejudice DVD
Personal Style:
  • chose his own annotations to make
  • chose how much detail to include in his answers in his journal
  • chose whether to write in print or in cursive
  • chose to read aloud his British literature journal assignment to me
A Few Things to Remember:
This isn't a quiz!  So, if your student didn't make the annotations you would have - for personal style – let it be!  However, structure demands annotations are made and questions are answered.  If all of the questions are not answered in writing, the assignment isn't 'good enough' until they are.

The past few weeks, I've shared assignments from Creation to Christ, World Geography, and U.S. History II.  Hopefully, you've enjoyed seeing how the structure of Heart of Dakota's plans still encourages personal style!  I hope you can embrace not only the solid academics structure provides, but also the joy personal style can bring.  Have a wonderful week, ladies!!!

In Christ,