Heart of Dakota BHFHG - Unit 2 Week in Review

Friday, August 31, 2012

Here is a look at our second week here at the Monarch Room. This week's HOD unit focused on the end of Columbus's life and Cabot's attempt to discover Asia. Both, of course, kept bumping into the new world. My kids thought it was funny how dramatic Columbus was in carrying around the physical chains of his imprisonment even until his final days.

Many of these activities take 10 minutes or less (I just take a LOT of pictures!) We have one science activity or experiment per day. They don't all happen on one day. A friend said it looked really fun, but also said it looked a little overwhelming. Please remember that this is our whole week wrapped up into one post. My heart is to give others a glimpse of how our curricula choices play out during our school day in hopes that it may help someone. Your day won't always look like mine, and mine won't always look like yours. Life deals us seasons that give us the luxury to spend more time in one area than in another. My pre-k school days were spent flying by the seat of my pants with little knowledge of where I was going. I've spent a lot of time since then researching my options, praying and searching my heart as to why homeschool is the best choice for our family during this time. Your philosophy may be different than mine, but my guess is that you love your children and want the very best for them just as I want the same for mine.

Most of our days are completed in about 4 hours, give or take 15 or 20 minutes. The work I put in before our year began is making it all easier to complete our work more efficiently. We don't take a ton of breaks, so we get our work done pretty quickly. We start our day at 8:00, and are usually done by lunch. We do things this way so we can have the rest of our afternoon free for library programs, nature sanctuary events, and to spend time with friends.

 The boys made a little boat, and we sailed it around the earth. We learned that it is hotter nearer the equator, and colder at the poles. We sailed our little boat on both Cabot's and Columbus's routes.

 Cabot thought he landed on Japan or what they called Cipango then. He never brought spices or gold back to the King of England, and so his mission was considered a failure. It didn't stop him from thinking he was pretty awesome though. He promised to give an island to his barber. This was a great illustration of pride vs. humility. My kids do bathe, by the way :) We have a new pet turtle, so they are often trying to dig it out of its little habitat. Oh, those nails are killing me!
 
 This was the page from our geography activity in HOD.

 The natives helped Columbus and his crew for a while by providing them with food, but tired of helping them eventually. Columbus knew that there would be an eclipse of the moon, so he threatened the people that a god would punish them by taking away the moon's light for not providing his men with what they needed. As soon as the eclipse happened, the people brought Columbus all they had. I felt so sad for the natives. They were often mistreated or taken advantage of. This was our activity to show how a lunar eclipse happens.


 Our poem of the week was The Ship That Sails. The poem is about wanting to be someone that dares to be adventurous even if failure is sometimes inevitable rather than being someone who is too afraid to take risks in life. My boys really enjoyed this one. It's always fun to see the pictures the boys draw with each poem. You have to love a little boy's perspective :)

 The boys added Cabot and Columbus to their timelines.
 We learned about the animals that live on the shore and between the tides of the ocean.

We used pliers, clothespins, and tweezers to represent the many different ways bird's beaks are shaped.

In HOD science we learned how bird's beaks are shaped differently according to the food that they eat. They found it was easier for some birds to gather certain kinds of foods than others.

These were our science experiment sheets for the activity.

 We focused on the character trait of humility this week. Our memory verse was Proverbs 11:2

We are learning hymns this year. I was wondering how my very boyish boys would handle sitting and singing songs together. I explained in the beginning that these songs are sung to God alone, and that they help us understand who He is. The boys have been very reverent during music time. I am really proud of them.

HOD has a few physical activities mixed in with Bible Study. I thought at first that it would seem forced, but both boys jump in and do whatever is asked without complaint. They actually have enjoyed it. 

We mapped Vermont and New Hampshire in Trail Guide to US Geography. The boys both love learning about the states.

 So far math is going really well. Each boy has about 3-4 sheets of work per day, plus some fun math games here and there.

 Aedan hasn't complained so far about math. Most of it of course is review this early in the game.

 The boys ask every single day if we can do Life of Fred. We only do it 2 days a week. They really look forward to hearing about the adventures of Fred.

I wasn't sure how well I'd like Rod and Staff English. It's going great so far. I love all the daily review in the Teacher's Guide. It really helps Aedan remember what we've learned. 

 Silas is working in R&S level 2. We are doing most of it orally, but I have him do some of it on paper as well. I think R&S is really sweet. Some people don't like all the references to God. I've enjoyed the reminders about God. Aedan giggles sometimes when there is old English :)

 I switched from the vocabulary boxes to these sheets, so that all of our work can remain in the student binder without having so many components to gather each day.

This are going well in Cheerful Cursive. Silas does his work in the workbook, and Aedan does a line or two on handwriting paper.

The boys drew a sea life scene on wax paper that transferred onto the watercolor paper. We then painted over it, so that only the images remained colorless. I thought these were nice :)

 A closer look. 

Elemental Science at the Monarch Room

Experiments in air pressure.

 Does air take up space? Yes! The boys thought this simple experiment was super fun and hilarious :)

 It's fun how such simple experiments bring just happiness to a kid. 

We've been learning about the earth's composition. This activity helped us understand how the earth's contents affect its rotation. I obviously can tell the difference between spun and span. Bear with me :) 

Well that about covers it. Tell me about your week! 2 weeks down, 34 to go.

American History Timeline Figures - Heart of Dakota BHFHG

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

I'm trying to catch up with some of the requests I had from my HOD organization post. Some of you had asked about the American history timeline figures I made. I had run out of laminating sheets. They arrived today, so I was able to laminate and cut out all of my timeline cards. Each of these cards corresponds to the HOD timeline activities on day 5 of each unit. I printed them on cardstock, and laminated them.

I found similar cards last year for the Ancients, but couldn't find anything for American History. Even if you don't use HOD these cards will cover many of the early American history figures you would study. You can find the file for these cards here in Google Docs. The files are also located here or here if you have trouble with the first location.

 So far our timeline figures haven't reached into what is considered "early modern" history. I never realized that Columbus was making his discoveries in the middle ages. I love the having the chance to re-learn history. It's so fun!

  We have the History Odyssey timeline (that I also laminated.) I adhere the cards to the timeline with velcro dots. You could use these cards on a homemade timeline just as easily of course. By the way, if you have a Mardel in your town, it has been the cheapest place I have found for lamination. It's only 25 cents a foot. I laminated all of my timelines for 3-4 bucks (along with a few other things.)

A few others asked for the files for the HOD timeline sheets I made as well. These enlarged sheets are better for you who have smaller children that have a more difficult writing small. I uploaded them to Google Docs for you here.

I still have more questions to answer that you folks asked, and as I have a minute here and there I will answer them. For now I hope these make fun additions to your homeschool day.

Heart of Dakota Character Cards - Bigger Hearts

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I got a lot of requests for the Godly character traits cards that I made. Each week Heart of Dakota BHFHG covers 1 character trait. Last week we studied persistence. I wanted a way to continue the discussion of these traits instead of letting the discussion end each week, so I made these cards to refer to as the year progresses. HOD BHFHG also has a weekly scripture memory verse out of Proverbs that I included. Each card correlates to a HOD unit. The scriptures are in the (1984) NIV version. I chose to print them on cardstock, and laminate them. Each printable page has 4 cards that can be easily cut out. I have a nifty scrapbook paper-cutter that made it even easier.

 Can you tell I love color? :)

 There are 34 cards for each HOD unit.


I plan to re-make these cards with scriptures I would choose for the character trait. I would love to include more New Testament passages. To be honest, I don't always love the HOD choices as memory verses. They are all great for discussion, however. I hope you all enjoy these. 


Happy day to you :)

Organization for Heart of Dakota Bigger Hearts for His Glory - BHFHG

Sunday, August 26, 2012


One thing many new homeschoolers struggle with are the nuts and bolts of the everyday details of their school day. I scoured blogs, and homeschool forums (and still do for that matter) for any insight on how to make my day more manageable. Fortunately, many have gone before me. As many new and old home educators know, there is no real "open and go" curriculum out there. Many do most of the work for you, and I'm thankful for that. The reality is, there is still much work yet to do if you want to make your life easier. I found that the more work I can put in before the year begins, the less road-blocks I run into as the year progresses. Last year I stumbled a bit in science about 2/3 of the way into the year. If I had the materials I needed as I hit experiments, I wouldn't have struggle to complete the program I had in place. This year I wanted to make sure I was successful as it was my first year to have both my kiddos home. 

This is our first year in Heart of Dakota. Many have offered their insight on how to organize this program. There is a great resource on Yahoo for HOD users here. Many of the printables I have were found there, or I made them myself. I will share what I made in the future as I get the chance. This is how I organized my Heart of Dakota BHFHG portion of our homeschool curriculum.

(My apologies for the images. I took these pictures on a dreary rainy day, and the lighting is terrible. I hope they are helpful nevertheless.)

I chose to have the spine of my teacher's manual removed. I then laminated the cover, and had it spiral bound. You can do this at many places. I usually use Kinko's. It costs about $4 - $5 to have the spine removed, and for your book to be spiral bound. I find that whatever book I choose to do this to lasts longer, and is easier to manage.

I'm a huge fan of Staple's Better Binders. Every school year they go on sale, and I scoop them up. They are such great quality that they are worth the extra cost. I was able to recycle all the binders I bought last year. I used Better Binders for both kiddo's HOD assignments this year.

Staple's also has Better Binder Dividers. I love that they're see-through, and great quality. I will be able to use these again next year as well. You can see how I organized the kid's notebooks by these sections: History Notebooking, Science Notebooking, Science Experiments, Drawn into the Heart of Reading (DITHOR), Poetry Copywork, Bible Copywork, and Timeline.

Our first section is the History Notebooking. History notebooking is done once a week in HOD. I found the templates for this section on the Yahoo HOD homeschool group. I love that there are so many generous moms out there that have contributed so many useful resources. It made things so much easier for me.

The next section is Science Notebooking. Science Notebooking is usually done on the second day of each unit. Again, I found the template for this on the HOD yahoo group. I edited the pages so that the Bible version was in NIV.

Our next section is the Science Experiment section. I own HOD's Preparing Hearts for His Glory guide. This template was in that guide, so I copied it for our use this year. I made 34 copies for our complete year.

 
Both boys are using DITHOR this year. I had the spines removed of the workbooks, and 3-hole punched them. It's nice having all of our materials in one central location.

Each week HOD studies a poem. It is suggested that students copy the poem. I used reinforced wide ruled paper for this section.

Each week we will study a passage of Proverbs for study and memorization. On the 4th day we copy that passage. It is suggested that the scripture would be copied on a index card. I chose instead to use paper as some of the passages are too long for my little guy to fit on one small card.

This is the timeline section of our binder. I made these timeline sheets bigger so that the kids would have more room to write and draw the picture of the timeline figure. Fitting it all on 2 sheets wouldn't have worked for us.

The timeline I made consisted of 5 pages.

In addition to drawing and writing about our timeline figures, I chose to make these additional figures for our wall timeline. I will share more about them later.

Timelines are an excellent way for the mind to place figures in history. We used this timeline last year when we studied the ancients in Story of the World. I made figures to correlate to the timeline figures in HOD BHFHG. My kids have been asking for me to make ones with our family's faces too :) We all have our place in history. It's fun to see where we all fit in.

I copied and laminated the student's oral, and written narration lists. We have been going over these the past week to get them used to knowing what is expected of them after our readings.

I copied the dictation passages for level 2 and 3 for both boys. Level 2 is the only list included in Bigger. I own PHFHG, so I was able to copy the level 3 list as well for Aedan. This is so much easier than each boy having to have a look at the teacher's guide when it's time for dictation.

On the left: I made poetry books for both boys. The Yahoo group has a template for a poetry book. Rather than them having to share the TM, they each have their own book of poetry for copywork, and readings of poetry each day. I laminated the covers, and spiral bound them. Top: Vocabulary is covered each week on the 3rd day of each unit. Each boy has his own alphabetical box to file his vocabulary words in. A new file was uploaded the the Yahoo group that has each work written. I may switch to those sheets instead of the boxes. We'll see. Right top: I have a small Better Binder of each unit's memory verses. I like having this standing up and open, so we can review our memory verses regularly. Middle: Each boy has a composition book for Grammar, Spelling, and Dictation. Right: Each week a Godly character trait is studied. I made these cards so that we could review these character qualities over the year, rather than letting the discussion end each week.

Poetry books up close. These covers were edited from ones I found on the HOD yahoo group.

These are the sections of my teacher binder. It includes lists of all the materials I need each unit for HOD, calendars, and Elemental Science materials lists, etc.

I keep the dictation lists here.

I was thrilled to find this list on the Yahoo group. It includes all the materials needed for HOD science, and history activities. It also included an extension readings schedula, and books to look for at the library. The mom that made it must have had girls. I edited it to include the books we would be reading in our boy interest pack. This list is a lifesaver!

I bought the Desk Apprentice when we started homeschool in Pre-K with Silas. I was able to fit all of his materials in this one spot. We didn't use it much last year, and I considered selling it. I'm glad I didn't because it is a great spot to fit all our HOD materials for the week. We store our homeschool books and materials in our third bedroom, but I haven't yet set it up for 2 boys. The Desk Apprentice allows us to work in the kitchen and living room without making a huge mess. Our other subjects are on bookshelves in our school room. By the way, the Desk apprentice is much cheaper in the store than online. I think I paid $25.

I am able to fit all of our weekly items in here. As books change, we will be able to swap out what we no longer use for the new books HOD calls for. I can fit our history reader, bible study items, storytime, DITHOR books for both boys, composition books, and R&S teacher guides in the center.

Aedan's side has his grammar, spelling, and health books.

Same for Silas; Grammar, Spelling, cursive, and Health books fit nicely

DITHOR even has a place.

Well, that's about it. Please feel free to ask any questions. I know I would have loved to see more pictures like these as I was putting things together. I hope this was helpful to you in someway. :)
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