Heart of Dakota - HOD CtC - Unit 14

Friday, December 9, 2016

Have you ever just stumbled upon something you knew would truly make the kind of change you needed that very moment? I'm really happy with many of the choices we made for this year, but language arts was starting to feel a little soggy. When things are going well there is excitement, joy, and far less push-back. A few years ago I discovered Brave Writer. I remember reading through The Writer's Jungle and fell completely head over heels with the philosophy. The problem was I wasn't really brave enough just yet to trust the process.

I pulled out my Brave Writer resources and decided we need a change for how we were approaching writing. We set aside the more formal writing and are now enjoying freewriting and other really fun writing projects. My kids actually have loved this approach. I'm finding my kids writing in their free time. They love sharing their stories with each other and with us. It has brought me such joy to see them so excited about a subject that seemed like drudgery so often. Truly. I'm so grateful.

I have also been regularly watching Julie from Brave Writer's A Gracious Space daily readings on Facebook. I plan to write a whole big gushing post about how all of this has revolutionized so much of how I was thinking abut school, being a teacher and being a mom for that matter. I've learned so much. I'm still processing it all, but I really want to share it with out when I can more adequately communicate how I've been feeling.

Silas finished the book Wonder and did a Brave Writer Faltering Ownership project. This time he did a book cover book report. First he designed the cover.

He wrote a synopsis of the book on the inside cover.

He also wrote about the author.

On the back he wrote reviews. One is from his character The Red Traveler (who never adds the final letters to his words), one was copywork, one was from one of his free writing characters, and the final one was from our cat. Meow.

The next book he chose to read was The Phantom Tollbooth. This is a really great book! It was one of Aedan's favorite books a few years ago. In this book cliches come to life as literal. It's all a big play on words. Silas is really enjoying it.

I have discovered how much I love BW Arrow and Boomerang Issues. When I used them the first time around I wasn't sure it was enough. I had come from a workbook type literature program, and didn't realize how much depth is hiding in these issues. I'll share more in depth about these later.

One of the suggestions was to bring to life and illustrate some of the characters. The Duke makes mountains out of molehils. The Earl leaves no stone un-turned. The Under Secretary is hanging by a thread and so on.

Things are still going well with HOD Creation to Christ. Freeing up our LA has given us more time to linger and slow down here.

This week Silas learned about Israel's fall to Assyria. His history project was to make an Assyrian mosaic. First he drew a picture of an Assyrian chariot and horse.

He had to divide up the back into 1/2 squares. I helped him with this, but he patiently glued all the pieces himself.

This was the model for his picture.

All of his drawings this year are a variation of The Red Traveler that he created. I need to show you some of their hilarious comics with him in it.

We are almost through God King. I love how our storytime books always end right where we are in history. This week the story took us to the throne room of Hezekiah with the Assyrians camped outside the walls. He is reading Within the Palace Gates for the extensions.

Shalmaneser, King of Assyria - 858 B.C.

Death of Elisha - 839 B.C.

Judah Defeated by Israel - 826 B.C.

We are reading A Child's Geography - The Holy Land for geography. We finished the chapters on Israel. So, not the best picture, but we enjoyed bagels and lox for dinner one night. My husband is a great sport and thought this was really actually very delicious. I couldn't find the thinly sliced lox, but this was still tasty. Aedan said it was way better than he expected. Silas said it made his stomach feel weird. Can't win em' all!

This week our poem was "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost. This was one of those moments I was thinking "WOW" this painting is going to be amazing! The colors were lovely, and it was going so well. He said we shouldn't paint the trees. I didn't listen.

Aaaannd then this happened. We laughed so hard about this painting! Don't think I'm mean. He was the one who laughed first I promise :) I almost wanted to do it again, but just chalked this up to a #nailedit moment.

Silas is doing well with his poetry reading each week. He has figured out how to read each poem without much coaching. This has been a great practice.

In science we learned about air pressure.

We added a zip bag and pushed it inside of the jar. We secured it with rubber bands. Silas tried to remove the bag, and as you can see it wasn't easy!

Next we poked a whole in the bottom. Easy peasy. 

We started a new science book this week. This is Silas's science notebook for the week.

Sooooo......I never, ever, ever, ever thought I'd even consider stepping away from Rod & Staff Grammar. I actually really love it. It makes my nerd heart just so happy, but my kids weren't loving it. I wasn't loving the groans, and after a while I started seeing less progress. Silas is not one to complain about much, so I decided to just risk a change. I have both boys using IEW Fix It. So far we are loving the change. I will reserve judgement until after we have used this for a while.

Silas had his last robotics meeting where they celebrated a job well done. He made these sweet cards for each of his coaches. They asked us if we would be interested in meeting once a month (instead of the 8-10 meetings per month we were doing.) Silas decided he would love that, and this mom loves the once a month commitment. It will keep his skills sharp and keep him in touch with his friends he made this year.

This week Silas grabbed the opportunity to do a few of his brother's assignments. Aedan had to plan an ice cream social for history this week. Silas asked if he could do it too. I told them if they made a menu that I would buy the toppings.

These are the toppings he chose. The others were ones I told him we would already had.

And here is the grossest ice cream creation you can possibly imagine, but not according to Silas :)

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Heart of Dakota - HOD MtMM - Unit 14

Thursday, December 8, 2016

We made it through the fall schedule commitments and have been really enjoying the slower pace of these past few weeks. When we have time in our week I love to make some of our activities a little more fun than if we had to rush through them. I'm so thankful to not be rushing out of the house 2-3 days a week. School is far more enjoyable on these days we get to take our time.

In history we learned about education, entertainment, prohibition, Stalin and Mary McLeod Bethune. We learned that a popular thing to do during this period was to have ice cream socials.

Handmade Gift Ideas and Holiday Recipes {Giveaway}

Tuesday, December 6, 2016


Happy December everyone! Some of you that follow Monarch Room know that we love our essential oils. We use them for about everything you can think of under the sun. We keep our immune systems ship-shape, make our own personal care products, and also scent our home with these amazing oils.  As we head into the holiday season I wanted to share some of the ways we use them this time of year and also share a few handmade holiday gift ideas. There are so many people in our family that often we draw names for gift giving. It's still fun for me to make some handmade gifts even though we aren't officially supposed to buy gifts for the adults in the family. Here are a few of the things I'm sharing with my loved ones this year. Keep an eye out for a giveaway at the end!

Thanksgiving 2016

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving week! Instead of doing our regular weekly schoolwork that we would enjoy a light week. We already took a fall break, so I thought it would be fun to just have a week of cooking and learning about Thanksgiving. The kids loved just taking some time to enjoy a slower pace, and so did I. It was a lovely week!

One of the very first homeschool curriculum books I owned was Five in a Row. A dear friend bought me a copy when she knew I was considering homeschooling the kids. That year one of our first rows I did was Cranberry Thanksgiving. What sweet memories I have of that first year with little Silas at home (happy sigh.)  I decided to re-purchase a copy of this book. I tragically sold my FIAR books (and have re-bought many since.)

Heart of Dakota - HOD MtMM - Unit 13

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

We ended our study of WWI a few weeks ago. It's always nice to leave the heartache of war for a time and learn about the good things that were happening after it ended. This week we learned about the advances of agriculture, transportation and communication in the period of peace that followed.

One of Aedan's history projects was to make a paper airplane. Silas and I made one too! There was a website address in the guide that led you to a site that let you design your own airplane. Aedan's is the red one, Silas the clouds, and mine is the floral one.

Heart of Dakota - HOD CtC - Unit 13

We made it through robotics season this week! Silas was a part of First Lego League's Animal Allies this season. His meetings started in August and ended this past week. Phew! They met twice a week for the last several months, and he really worked so hard. I'm so incredibly proud of him. We struggled with whether or not the commitment would be worth it. There were days I wasn't sure when I saw him sacked out on the couch. He told me he didn't think he would want to do it again next year until he had to say goodbye at the end. I think he made real friendships that he truly enjoyed, and even though it was a commitment he felt it was worth it in the end.

There were 6 kids on his team, 3 of which were first time robotics members. This was Silas's first year. They didn't qualify for the next competition, but they got a lot of really great feedback. They got especially high marks on their project. I was surprised that Silas said he would like to do it again. He said he knows they would be even better next time. I suppose we will see what he ultimately decides next year. It's such a great organization to teach teamwork, leadership and presentation skills. Overall, it's an excellent program!

Somehow we managed to fit in some school work this week. Next week we will be taking a very light week to enjoy an old FIAR favorite and to learn about Thanksgiving. It will be a nice break from all our driving all over the world this fall.

Silas's team decided to do their project on how water conservation can help the coral reef. They did a sketch where each of them was an coral reef creature. He decided to be a sea polyp (with lots and lots of glitter.) He was so nervous about presenting in front of the judges, but he said it really wasn't as bad as he expected it to be. I'm so thankful for the coaches who committed so many hours to be a part of this year's team!

Heart of Dakota - HOD MtMM - Unit 12

Sunday, November 20, 2016

We are entering the final days of fall. The leaves are mostly blown away, and we have dug out our winter coats. We fortunately had a mild warm autumn with plenty of days to enjoy the changing colors of the season. I love the slowing of autumn and winter. There are fewer sunny days to feel guilty for wasting, and sometimes our souls just need to take a breather. I'm ready for these slower days with fewer places to go and more time to just enjoy each other.

There were still a few leaves floating around outside for a leaf study for Aedan's nature journal.

Heart of Dakota - HOD CtC - Unit 12

We are nearing the end of robotics season, so we have had a little more work to do in that area over the past few weeks. Silas has learned so much working in a team environment. At first we wasn't as excited about having fewer free days. However, as he grew in relationship with the kids, he gained not only knowledge but friendship too. I am looking forward to slower afternoons and time to linger a little longer on the fun stuff. Silas is looking forward to that too.

Our poem this week was "Going for Water" by Robert Frost.

Raddish Cooking Kits for Kids

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

My mom collected cookbooks. From a very young age I remember her cooking away in the kitchen. Now that she's retired she is often found on the doorstep of friends, sharing food from recipes she has refined over the years. She is a very complimentary guest as well. She has always gathered recipes from her friends and family. Her own personal collection of recipes will be a legacy that I will treasure. I guess the apple didn't fall too far from the tree, because I too grew up to love being in the kitchen. One of the things I can look back and say was that my mom always let me make a mess. The moms who raise creative kids must allow spills, and counters floured to high heaven. There has to be room for mistakes and messes or there's really no way to grow in learning a skill.

http://www.raddishkids.com/
My boys also cherish having a mom who loves to cook. Silas, my youngest, has taken an interest lately in learning how to make his way around a kitchen without my help. As a homeschool mom any time I see my kids take interest, I want to do whatever I can to nurture that growth. I have had my eyes on Raddish Cooking Kits for a while now. I haven't done many reviews here on the blog because I have always wanted to write about the things we use and love without bias, but I decided to write to them to see if they would be willing to send us a box to review. They kindly sent one for us to try. I wasn't sure if the concept would appeal to boys as much as to girls. As soon as the box arrived, however, my son leaped into action!

Heart of Dakota - HOD MtMM - Unit 11

Monday, November 7, 2016

I never loved history growing up. It wasn't until I took art appreciation and literature that I started seeing what I was missing. I loved reading about and seeing history from the perspective of those who actually lived it through poetry, fiction of the time period, and through art. History had always been so cold and dry. It was presented by, more often than not, history teachers that I either didn't like or were far too opinionated for their own good. I didn't really start loving history until I had the opportunity to homeschool my boys. I'm especially loving as we are finally rounding the end of a full history cycle and seeing how it all comes to where we are today.

Heart of Dakota - HOD CtC - Unit 11

I didn't get as many pictures of our school work this week because we were having a ton of fun cooking (which I will share in another post.) Some weeks we have tons of activities and others are more quiet. I like it that way. I couldn't sustain week after week of super full school days anyway. Silas is nearing the end of his robotics season, and he is looking forward to more time with his buddies. I am too! I'm excited to see his competition and hope he does really well and is glad that he did it even though it was quite a commitment.

This week we played an ancient Phoenician board game. I love that we have a few of these projects left over from when Aedan did CtC. We got to enjoy the game without the fuss of having to make it. We left the game out and played a few times. It's a fun one!

Heart of Dakota - HOD MtMM - Unit 10

Saturday, November 5, 2016

This was our first week back to school after our fall break. While a break is nice, I'm always happy to be back to home and our daily rhythms. Aedan has decided lately to get up at the crack of dawn and start his day far before any of the rest of our feet have hit the ground. He is very motivated by free time which he often spends drawing or reading books he enjoys. He of my two boys is far more schedule oriented. He likes to know what to expect each day. I often will set out a stack of work that he can choose to do early or not. I was worried at first that he would rush through things, but he has done a really great job. I think his brain works best in the early morning.

This week our nature study was a flower study. Aedan picked a few mums to sketch.

Heart of Dakota - HOD CtC - Unit 10

I'm a little behind on posts! Somewhere between the end of week 9 and the beginning of week 10 we took a family vacation to Kentucky and then to Florida. I'll hopefully get some of those pictures up eventually. It was wonderful to enjoy time with friends and time of from work and school. We came back and hit the ground running after a lovely 10 days off.

The week we came back was the last week our favorite pumpkin patch would be open. Silas really wanted to carve a pumpkin this year, and this was our last chance.

Heart of Dakota - HOD MtMM - Unit 9

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Well...We have officially made it through a whole quarter of the school year. We are going to be taking a break from hitting the books next week and enjoying some time off. After 9 whole weeks, I don't regret any of our choices this year. For that I am exceptionally thankful.

This week in history we read about The Boxer Rebellion, the Russo-Japanese War, the Balkan Wars, Jonathan and Rosalind Gofoth and how Russia and Britain were both trying to gain control of Persia.

Heart of Dakota - HOD CtC - Unit 9

This week we read more about the Judges of Israel. We read about Jepthah, Ruth and Naomi, Samson, Eli and his sons and the Philistines. We read about the unfortunate end to some of these people this week. Silas is sometimes astonished by the stories in the Bible even though we have read these stories many times before.

We read about how the Philistines conquered Israel.

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