Saturday, August 22, 2015

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. 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! 

Heart of Dakota Weekly Link-Up: August 17-21

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Berenstain Bears Harvest Festival: A BookLook Blogger Review

My favorite season is autumn! I cannot wait for the cooler temperatures and changing color each year. September 1 brings out the fall decor in our home and I always feel the coziness or this time keenly. Anticipation of the winter and brisk fall days delight my senses. We have lots of books about winter and Christmas, but I believe my latest review is our very first book about fall!

This sweet little story about the Berenstain Bears enjoying the Harvest Festival delighted my little Grace to pieces. She is a big fan of this Bear family and especially loves Honey Bear.


All the things I love about fall are included in this sweet book...leaves changing, enjoying the harvest of fall vegetables, observing the animals, and feasting with friends. Grace really liked the pumpkin Honey Bear picks out!


Grace said her favorite picture was the one of Honey Bear and the pumpkin pies. The illustrations in the Berenstain Bear books are always beautifully illustrated and this one is no exception. I love the nostalgia of simpler days represented in these stories! 


Grace has begun to really appreciate the humor in various stories. She loves to talk about what she is reading while she reads it as well! Discussing books with her is such a joy! One discussion we had was about Mother Nature. We are used to this phrase and my girls know that we see Mother Nature as a pretend person that is okay to read about, but we need to acknowledge that God is the Creator and giver of all the beauty on the earth. It was a pleasant surprise to find this book affirm this belief. The Berenstain Bears are a great way to help point your little ones back to God.

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

Among the Fair Magnolias: A BookLook Blogger Review

I'm always excited when I have the opportunity to review fiction titles! I read a lot throughout the day with the girls so I don't always take the time to read just for pleasure.

Among the Fair Magnolias is a set of novels from four different authors set in the south. One of the four is set in the pre-Civil war years and the remaining three take place after the war. Each centers on very different characters in different life situations. It was fun to have the various viewpoints of so many individuals.

I'm typically not a fan of these types of books because the stories feel too short. I still wouldn't say this is my favorite style, but I did enjoy it more than I expected at first. Each story had its own unique style which showed each author's personality.

The characters in each story were quite believable, but I felt the romances were often too quick or forced in some ways. I love believable relationships and those that seem unrealistic leave me feeling a little blah at the end. I think this is all too often the nature of shorter novels. I am sure it must be a struggle for the authors to condense their stories in order for it to fit. This is why I typically prefer very long novels or series of books.

My favorite of the novels was An Outlaw's Heart by Shelley Gray. I'm already a big fan of Shelley Gray's other novels so I wasn't surprised this one stole my heart. I really liked that the central character was a man and that the relationship had a past prior to their introduction to the reader. It definitely left a more believable feel to the story. I also really liked the journey the characters made spiritually and emotionally. This is very hard to convey in a shorter novel, but Ms. Gray did an excellent job.

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

Friday, August 14, 2015

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. 


Hi, my name is Melissa. Pour yourself a cup of tea and stay a while. I'm completely devoted to my Savior, madly in love with my husband, and joyously raising my daughters. I'm so glad you stopped by and I hope you enjoy your time here!