Week in Review - HOD MtMM - Unit 17

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Here's where we finally took a winter break! Instead of taking the week before Christmas off, we are taking the week after. That week is usually anything less than restful. I thought the boys would enjoy some time to enjoy their gifts. I know some folks take 2 weeks off at Christmas. Instead we will take another break coming up in February. I'm trying to take more regular breaks instead of ending so soon like we did last year.

This is my mom's idea of Christmas chocolate. Ha! She was more excited to see my reaction than to see the kids' faces. I have never been able to stop her from being generous. I just let her now. Someday I'm sure I'll be the same kind of Grandma.

Week in Review - HOD CtC - Unit 17

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Happy winter! This month has been slow and full all at the same time. It's been nice having a break from afternoon classes, but at the same time we have also spent more time with family and friends. I would rather the latter any day. We made it through Christmas, and we are thoroughly enjoying some time off. Phew.

Last week we learned about the Persian empire through the eyes of Queen Esther. We have been reading the Book of Esther for storytime. Every year at Purim many Jewish people celebrate the salvation of the Jews during Esther's time. Hamantashen cookies or Haman's Ears are a traditional Jewish treat eaten during Purim. We love these kinds of history projects!

Week in Review - HOD MtMM - Unit 16

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

After WWI America enjoyed a time of prosperity and peace. This week we learned about what was to come after the roaring twenties. After The Stock Market Crash of 1929, The Great Depression followed. We spent some time this week hearing first hand accounts of that period from those who lived in the dust bowl. This was such a sad time in American history.

The Golden Gate Bridge was built in San Francisco during the Great Depression. San Francisco is my home town, so it was fun for me to see this picture. Aedan followed the instructions in Draw and Write Through History to complete the drawing.

Week in Review - HOD CtC - Unit 16

Monday, December 19, 2016

We got our first snow this week. It's been nice having a really long fall. I can handle the snow if it won't last for months on end. The boys enjoyed being outside all bundled up. There were plenty of hot drinks and even a few snow angels.


Week in Review - HOD MtMM - Unit 15

Saturday, December 17, 2016

We are nearing the halfway mark here at Monarch Room. We have made a few changes lately that have made our days more enjoyable. I think this has been one of the most enjoyable history periods we have done. Maybe that's just me talking though. I'm fascinated by all we are learning this year, and hopefully Aedan catches a little of that enthusiasm.


Week in Review - HOD CtC - Unit 15

Friday, December 16, 2016

Brrr....It's getting cold here in the Midwest! This is always my favorite time of the school year. I feel less guilty staying home when the fireplace is lit and the day is too cold to venture out. We have a few more weeks before we will take some time off, but until then we are doing our best to make the best of our days.

One of the things I love so much about Heart of Dakota is how it is so centered around Christ. There is always so much Biblical insight. It's been so sweet seeing Silas learn Bible history this year. We have had so many great conversations. 

Every day Silas reads a portion of scripture. The guide gives some direction on how to pray. For some this feels forced, but I remember what it feels like to be a new Christian. I had no idea how to pray. Having a model really helped me as a new believer. Each day our HOD guide will direct the kids to pray in the A.C.T.S. way. This week's project was to make a prayer box to store his prayers.

Another Raddish Cooking Adventure - Apple Pie

Monday, December 12, 2016

Ok you guys...Raddish is just too fun! We still had one recipe from last month's box that we needed to make. We had a quiet Saturday which was the perfect opportunity for pie making. We got an invitation to eat at our family's house that night, so we wanted to surprise them with a special treat. A pie in the hand is an open door to the heart and an open door to any home in my opinion. 

Truth be told I'm not really awesome at making pies. My mom is a fantastic pie maker. I once tried to make a lemon meringue pie for my dad and he thought it was really weird. To my credit it was completely from scratch. He didn't like the lemon zest, but my pie self esteem still suffers. I can make a mean birthday cake, tiramisu and cheesecake, but pies have never been in my wheelhouse - at least not until now.


Week in Review - 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.


Week in Review - 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.)

Week in Review - 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.

Week in Review - 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!

Week in Review - 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.

Week in Review - 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!

Week in Review - 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.

Week in Review - 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!

Week in Review - 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.

Week in Review - 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.

Week in Review - 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.

Week in Review - 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.

Week in Review - HOD CtC - Unit 8

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Happy October! This week we learned about Joshua, Deborah and Gideon. We crossed the Jordan River as followed God's People into the promised land. I love so much that we get to study this history together. I wasn't a believer until after I graduated from high school, so reading these stories with my kids is especially sweet for me. I pray Silas grabs hold of the faith of some of these wonderful men and women we learned about in our studies this week.

Silas's history project was to make the Jordan River, the Ark of the Covenant and 12 stones. We read Joshua 3:9-17 and 4:1-18 as we acted out the story with his little Lego men. Even Aedan wanted to make sure he was there for this one. Sometimes he sees a book or an activity, and says, "Hey! I did that too!" I hope he will be reminded of these sweet memories as he sees his little brother do them too.

Week in Review - HOD MtMM - Unit 8

Monday, October 10, 2016

We survived the week with all the birthdays, and we fortunately had a much slower week. We have one more week of school before our first break of the year. We will take off around 4 weeks this year. The last few years we tried to be done before May 1st, but with a teenager on my hands this year I'm not as quick to be done. Our days are better with routine, and more breaks in between. One month of break before the pool even opened wasn't the brightest idea last year!

One of the things you may have noticed is how much I love cooking our way through books.

Week in Review - HOD CtC - Unit 7

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Welcome to week 7 in Creation to Christ! This is the first Heart of Dakota guide that I have done before. I wondered if I wouldn't be as interested the second time around, but I am enjoying it even more the second time. Learning Biblical history is the most important history we will ever have the privilege to learn. Each time we study these portions of scripture we add a new layer of understanding.


Week in Review - HOD MtMM - Unit 7

I'm a little behind on posts, but it is always better late than never! September was a very full month with birthdays and other events. The weather is cooling though, and I feel the slower months of autumn and winter calling my name.

This week in school we learned about Barnum & Bailey, Amanda Smith, the Great Chicago Fire, Charles Albert Tindley, and Dwight Moody.

That Week With All the Birthdays

Friday, October 7, 2016

One of the reasons I originally started this blog was so that I had a memory keeper. I had no idea anyone would actually read it. Sometimes I love to look back to see how much my boys have grown since I started this little blog 6 years ago. I just might want to post a little bit of what it was like around here during the celebrations of our lives, so please humor me (smile.) Both boys and I all share birthdays within the span of 10 days, so it's usually a birthday extravaganza for that week and a half. We tend to eat a little too much, and hopefully have as much fun. Here is a glimpse into how we celebrated this year.

We usually have a birthday party where I have fun decorating. We never invite a ton of people, but it's always more relaxing that way.

The Feast of Trumpets

Monday, October 3, 2016

Happy Feast of Trumpets! This year we decided to learn more about the Biblical feasts. It's been even more fun because several family friends are also studying the same period of history and were also interested in celebrating the feasts with us. This week was a very contemplative one for me. I really tried to take to heart all of what this feast is about. There is so much depth in it that it would take me years to understand all of its mysteries. Forgive me if I don't get all of our representations right for this feast. We are still learning (blush.) Either way, we enjoyed a beautiful day with friends and ultimately we pray God was honored in our celebration.

I set the table with apples and branches clipped from our little forest.

Week in Review - HOD CtC - Unit 6

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

As I said in Aedan's post, this week was very full! We celebrated 2 birthdays this week, so our days were full of other kinds of fun. This week we learned more about Egypt through the lives of Akenhaten, Tutankhamen, and Moses.

Our poem this week was "Fireflies in the Garden."

Week in Review - HOD MtMM - Unit 6

Hi friends! Do you ever have weeks that you wish would just slow down?  My favorite weeks are when we have very little on the schedule. This one turned into one of those get er' done kinds of school weeks. We still managed to get everything done, but I'm looking forward to the slower days of winter. What crazy person looks forward to snow days?

This week we read about progressivism, Plessy v. Ferguson, The RMS Titanic, women's suffrage, mass production and what that meant to the lives of the working poor. We finished reading Factory Girls. This was such a heart breaking book about what it was like to be a child laborer. Many people took up their cause to better conditions for workers and to abolish child labor altogether. Sadly, there are children of migrant workers who are still in the same boat.

Homeschool Necessities - Storage Clipboards

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Can I totally geek out with you for a minute? I mean, I might totally go full on office supply nerd up in here. You ok with that? Good. Sooo....I've always talked about how much we love clipboards for our little school. They are portable writing surfaces that can be taken just about anywhere. We use them for history, art, math, science, and pretty much everything you can print or rip out of a book. But, did you know there was such a thing as a storage clipboard? Apparently nurses and coaches have been clued in on this genius little invention a long time ago, but failed to share the wealth with teachers. Well, suffer no more my homeschool friends.

A friend of mine told me about these last year (Hi Micah!), but I was satisfied with our dollar store cheapies. The boys love to draw, so our school clipboards were always strewn around the house. We had plenty, so I didn't think this would be much of an improvement. However, these babies are amazing (that is if you get as excited about office supplies as I do.)

Week in Review - HOD CtC - Unit 5

Monday, September 19, 2016

Welcome to Ancient Egypt! This week we spent a lot of time learning about this long lost culture. We also read about Joseph and the part he played in Egypt., Hatsheput, and Thutmosis. Fair warning - there are a lot of pictures.

This week our poem was "One Step Backward Taken" by Robert Frost.

Week in Review - HOD MtMM - Unit 5

Sunday, September 18, 2016

This week whirled on by, but we found time to finish what we set out to accomplish. We had our first week of co-op. Aedan is taking an animation class for 8 weeks. I'm so thankful for our co-op. It is a very relaxed co-op that we can choose how many classes we want to take. This fall we are just doing one which is nice for now.

This week our studies focused on the Immigration during the Gilded Age. We read about the struggles of immigrants and the working poor that was caused by industrialization. It has been heartbreaking to read about how poorly children were treated during this period in history in our country.

Week in Review - HOD MtMM - Unit 4

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Aloha and welcome to our week 4 update! It's so fun when our history studies bump into familiar places in our own personal history. Hawaii is near and dear to my heart as this is where I have family roots.

The first person we learned about this week was Ka'iulani who was the last princess of Hawaii. She was the last royal leader of Hawaii before it was annexed to the U.S. in 1898. My grandparents on my dad's side were both born and raised in Hawaii. My dad also spent most of his childhood and adolescence there. Much of my childhood was spent listening to Hawaiian music and enjoying my grandma's Hawaiian cooking. I looked for a picture of her to share here. She looked like a Hawaiian princess too. My dad was born in 1944 and he can remember finding Japanese airplane parts from the Pearl Harbor bombing.

Week in Review - HOD CtC - Unit 4

Welcome to week 4 in Creation to Christ! Our weeks have been very full, but profitable. I'm so thankful we got to truly rest this summer because this fall has been full of opportunities. It's neat being able to do a guide the second time around. I can see what's ahead and remember what I thought I might do differently the second time around. This time I wanted to have more opportunities to experience the cultures of the places and people we are studying. That has always been Silas's favorite part of school. I see a future traveler growing up and setting off to different parts of the world someday.

Silas's best friend is also doing HOD CtC, so we hope to enjoy as many activities together as we can. This week we shared efforts on our history project which was to enjoy a Hebrew meal. My friend brought half of the items which made for the best ever afternoon snack. Homeschool kids don't know how good they have it sometimes! My friend brought delicious homemade hummus to go with our veggies. We also enjoyed olives, grapes, fresh pita bread, raisins, medjool dates, baklava, tea and grape juice.

Week in Review - HOD CtC - Unit 3

Friday, September 2, 2016

School is starting to feel more like fun and less like a brain battering. I don't know about you, but the first few weeks always feel a little rough. I feel like Silas is doing a great job of taking the initiative to find out what he has to accomplish next during the day. CtC is step up from what we were doing last year, but he is doing well with the additional expectations. He is especially enjoying the creative elements of this guide. He is a very hands on kid who enjoys art, experiments and projects.

This week our poem was "A Peck of Gold" by Robert Frost. I absolutely loved his vibrant painting this week!

Week in Review - HOD MtMM - Unit 3

Happy Friday! Week 3 started feeling a lot better than our first few weeks of school. By now we are getting into our groove, and days are shortening up a bit for the most part. Aedan has been getting up early each morning to start Bible study and get ahead of the day. That really helps on days we have to be at afternoon activities. He does this of his own volition. If I ever suggested it, he wouldn't do it without complaint (my independent son needs this to be his own idea.) So, I just quietly set aside a few things that need to be accomplished and let him decide how to manage his time and if he would like a shorter or longer afternoon.

One thing that I am really enjoying seeing is Aedan's work for his Nature Drawing & Journaling book. I asked him what his favorite subjects are so far, and this one was at the top of the list. He has been adding elements here and there 2 days a week. This is the completed first page. This journal is used alongside the poetry study, so he added some copywork from our poem this week.

Week in Review - HOD MtMM - Unit 2

Friday, August 26, 2016

Welcome to our week 2 in review! I think our bodies have gotten used to being back to work. I always find that I'm far more productive with less time - strange how that works. Aedan has started getting up and starting work a little earlier than our official 8 a.m. start time. This has been a great help as we have several afternoon commitments that would otherwise make for a rushed day.

Overall, I'm really happy with all our curriculum choices so far. Sometimes what might seem like a great idea isn't in practice, but everything is going well. Of course we shall see how everything works out long term after we get further into our year. We are really enjoying learning about this history period as most of it is new to Aedan. This week we focused on Asia through the lives of missionaries that were called to that part of the world. We read about Hudson Taylor in China, Nijima Jo in Japan, and the Russian priest Nicholas who was also called to Japan.

Our history project this week directed us to paint these Chinese characters. The translation is Christ's Disciple or Christ's Apprentice.

Week in Review - HOD CtC - Unit 2

Here's a peek into our week 2 in Creation to Christ. This is such a fantastic guide. I am loving seeing how Silas is approaching his work this year as a bigger kid. It's neat reading the Bible as the beginning of all history books. This week we learned about the cities that rose after the flood, about the Tower of Babel, Abraham and the city of Ur. Silas really likes the What in the World? CDs. When I asked him his favorite part of school this week he said making his cuneiform tablet, science and Phonetic Zoo (this one makes me laugh.)
 
I have been having so much painting along side Silas. This week his painting is inspired by our poetry reading of "The Pasture" by Robert Frost.

Week in Review - HOD CtC - Unit 1

Monday, August 22, 2016

Welcome to our very first week of school! This will be Silas's first year back to Heart of Dakota in 2 years. I never know how the year will go until we actually start. After making it through the first week I am so happy that we chose to go this route this year. Silas will be studying ancient history with HOD Creation to Christ. We haven't done ancients since way back in kindergarten, so a lot of this will be new to him. I especially love the focus on Biblical history in CtC. I always say that a kid doing this guide will likely be more Biblically literate than many adults.
One thing I especially love about this guide is the poetry and watercolor study. Each week we will study a Robert Frost poem and paint a painting that is inspired by that poem. I looked back to see Aedan's picture from the same week. It's neat to see how each kid interprets it in their own way. This week we studied the poem "A Late Walk."

Week in Review - HOD MtMM - Unit 1

Welcome to 8th grade here at Monarch Room! We had a great start to our school year this week. We were definitely feeling the summer fatigue weighing heavily on us the first few days, but we quickly got up to speed. Aedan will be using Heart of Dakota Missions to Modern Marvels for the bulk of his studies this year. I'm especially excited to study this period with him as we have never had the chance to take a whole year to do it yet. I love how we will study missionaries alongside all of the historical events that happened in the modern world. I am looking forward to seeing a lot of growth in Aedan spiritually and educationally.

This first week we studied the Irish Famine, the Alexander II of the Russian Empire, Abdullhamid the Red in the Ottoman Empire, Dom Pedro II in Brazil and how Ethiopia won its freedom from Italy. I love how there are so many aspects of history we will cover and in different ways. We will read historical fiction, biographies, study the geography of the period as well as read first hand accounts of those who experienced these events first hand.

Aedan worked on his Map Trek World Empires map.

First Week of School 2016

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Here begins the story of our 2016-2017 school year! We took a nice summer break which was desperately needed. After about 3 months of that we start getting ready to be back to school. My boys wouldn't say that, but everyone here functions better with some kind of routine. Having a break from any expectations is nice for a season, but it was time to get back to work. 

I'm always so nervous starting out every new year. While you can make all the plans in the world sometimes things don't always go according to plan. We have some new afternoon commitments that we haven't had in years' past. Silas was invited to be a part of a robotics team that will meet 2 afternoons a week. We will have to do our best to adjust where necessary to make it happen. Aedan will also have a few classes he will take as well. This is the season where life might give us opportunity to learn where to say no and keep some sort of simplicity going while also accomplishing our goals.

So basically, my kids are now BIG kids! Aedan has grown so much over the last year. His feet are as big as his dads. Sometimes I think Silas seems smaller than Aedan was at his age, but I compared pictures of Aedan's first week of 5th grade to Silas's and he is exactly the same size. These boys are really growing up. It's so fun to see their personalities developing.

HOD Creation to Christ Book List

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

As I started remembering some of my favorite years of school with the boys I remembered how much we especially loved MFW's book basket. We had so much fun finding inspiration in those books. While none of them were required reading, I would often find both of my boys with books in hand that they had discovered from the book basket. I decided to make a list to go along with our studies in Heart of Dakota Creation to Christ. I may update this list as the year goes by (some units have more books than others) and include links, but for now I wanted to share it with those who may find it useful.

Heart of Dakota Creation to Christ is a complete program. None of these books are needed to round out or add to what is already planned. Sometimes, however, it's nice to add a splash of color here and there. I've added some of the book suggestions that were in the Child's Geography book to give a visual of the places we will be studying. We will also be studying the Biblical Feasts this year, so I've added some of those resources at the end of the list.

Painting Supplies for HOD Creation to Christ

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Do you ever feel like you're ready for school, and then realize you still have a few things on your list? All of a sudden school is right around the corner. I can't believe it! I love to chip away at school planning throughout the year so it doesn't hit me upside the head in late summer. Even so, I realized in looking at my plans for next year that I still had a few art and science supplies to gather. I still had some paints left from last time, but many of them had dried up or been mostly used. I thought I'd share the supplies we got this time for any of the rest of you in this guide now or in the future.

This will be our second time around in HOD Creation to Christ. One of the things I especially love about this guide is the watercolor and poetry study. Each week we will paint a watercolor picture that is inspired by the poetry of Robert Frost. I love looking back and seeing those paintings that Aedan did when we did this guide. This year I hope to paint alongside Silas as I didn't have as much time to do that the first time around.

Here are most of the supplies we will need. You will also need a small dropper. I bet you have one in your science supplies like I did. There are a few others that you can easily find around the house like toothpicks, sponges, and paper towels that I won't include here.

Curricula 2016-2017 - 8th Grade - Aedan

Thursday, July 21, 2016

 I am finally getting around to putting up our Aedan's 8th grade plans for next year. There are a lot of books this year which made for an unintended workout session hauling them up and down the stairs - not that I couldn't use a little extra exercise! Our main program we will use is Heart of Dakota Missions to Modern Marvels. This will probably look like an overwhelming amount of books, but don't worry. We won't read all of these at once. Last year we took a break from HOD, but came back around halfway through the year. It just has always been a great fit for Aedan and for me. I have loved learning alongside him so much of what I never got to learn as a kid. I never loved history until I became a homeschooler. I have loved the biographical and living book approach to learning that we have been able to enjoy over the past 5 years together as a family. I am really looking forward to seeing how Aedan responds to our choices this coming year. I have a feeling that this will be our favorite guide yet!

 This is the teacher's guide for Missions to Modern Marvels (HOD MtMM.) I shared how I set up and organized this guide HERE.

Curricula 2016-2017 - 5th Grade - Silas

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

It's that time of year when it's time to start putting the final touches on our plans for next year. I'm so excited to be back in Heart of Dakota Creation to Christ, but this time I will get to enjoy it with Silas. He hasn't been in an HOD guide for 2 years, so I'm looking forward to him diving into all these wonderful books with him! We will be using HOD Creation to Christ with some changes, but we will keep much of it as is. There are inevitably things we will drop or add, but these are our choices as of right now. 

I did much of my planning back in the winter. Over the summer I like to get familiar with any new programs or to read independent books if I have the time. I'm fortunately very familiar with most of these books and programs because Aedan used them a few years back when he was in 5th grade. I can tell you it was lovely having most of this on the shelf already. This is the first year we get to start re-using a guide that I have done before. It was such a wonderful thing that we were only buying one program rather than two this year.

 Our main program is Heart of Dakota Creation to Christ. It includes Bible, History, Science, Geography, Storytime Read Alouds, Language Arts, Math and Art lessons. This guide starts at the creation of the world and ends at the time of Christ. Silas hasn't studied this period since way back in K when we used Story of the World Ancients. I look forward to learning alongside him about God's people and the ancient civilizations of the world. There are SO many wonderful things to discover in this guide. I have his notebook all set up which includes HOD's beautiful notebook pages.

End of the Year Musings

Thursday, May 19, 2016

It's a beautiful spring day here in the Midwest. The windows are open, and the coffee is hot. The newly installed bird feeders are full of life and color. Life free from thinking (as much) about school for a few weeks has done my heart a lot of good. Last year was a year of a lot of lessons learned the hard way, so I thought I'd share some of my experience.

This summer my goal is to slow down. A friend recently sent me a blog post about wanting to have a summer from the 50's. I grew up in the 80's, and I'm pretty sure it was just as good. I remember being outside with friends until the streetlights went on, and my dad would whistle for us to come back home. There were long days swimming in the lake. There were mud pies and baseball games. I want to slow down like that. I want enough room to breathe. I want to remember why we homeschool. I want to be true to our family's mission to nurture relationships with God and one another. I want long and lazy days filled with warmth. I want fresh food from the farmer's market and to share my table and couch with good friends.

Last Day of School - First Day of Summer

Friday, April 29, 2016

 Welcome to Summer! Ok, well....maybe it's really just mid-spring, but it's our summer! We just crossed the last day of school finish line. We live in the midwest, so I love being done by May 1st if possible. One of my besties and I usually start and end at the same, so we try to do something fun with the kids at the end of the year to mark a job well done.

 This banner actually makes me giggle. I'm sure the people at the park were thinking "What in the world kind of summer party is this?" It was a dreary day, and our toes were cold. Aedan forgot his jacket. We were a motley crew, but it was our party and we were going to celebrate rain or shine. It's hard to be sad when you know there is rest coming! I found this printable banner HERE. You can edit the letters to say anything you like.

Learning with Laura - Prairie Primer - Week 33-35

Thursday, April 28, 2016

This week we wrapped our final chapters of Little House on the Prairie and also our 4th grade year. Prairie Primer has been such a sweet end of the year. I wish I had thought to do it sooner in the year to do maybe just one more book. We have really enjoyed snuggling on the couch and getting to know the Ingalls and the part of the country that we live in now that was quite different than the one we know now.

As I said in Aedan's final post this year was a lot of trial and error. I'm thankful I had the freedom to enjoy a few learning tangents this year, but I am looking forward to next year's steady plans too. Silas is becoming a very wise little man. It's fun to see him growing into his personality and watch him as he grows in so many ways. I can't wait to enjoy long and warm afternoons with these two.

There was just so much goodness wrapped into Prairie that it was hard to fit it all in. I let Silas choose a few things each week rather than over-burdening us with activities. I think Prairie Primer makes a wonderful and full program. I wish I had found it sooner. This late in the year I chose to take a more relaxed approach to it.

One of the things Silas wanted to do was make these little heart cakes. One of the stories in the book takes place on Christmas. The children are awaiting a visit from Santa, but Santa happens to be Mr. Edwards coming from Independence. The river was too difficult to cross, so Ma feared that there would be no presents in the stockings for the girls. Laura heard her mom whisper "There's still the white sugar." Thinking that Mr. Edwards wouldn't come Ma made these little heart cakes and wrapped them in tissue paper.

The boys just started flag football. They each have a practice on a different night, so one boy stays home with me. When I asked Silas what he wanted to do it was to make the little heart cakes from the book. We have the Little House Cookbook, and the recipe was in there! We subbed butter for shortening.

It was neat making the recipe together. I love that this is what he chose to do when we had some time together just the two of us. 

These were quite delish! They are sort of a cross between a biscuit and a scone. It was neat experiencing something that was so special to Laura so long ago.

Mr. Edwards did in fact make it across the river. He didn't want to let the girls down. He brought sweet potatoes which were a special treat for their Christmas dinner. They had turkey, but I ended up making a roast chicken and sweet potatoes instead. We pretended it was a prairie hen. We also got to go to a really neat farmstead in town where there were many things that were relevant to the book. I left my phone in the car that day. It was nice to not think about pictures.

Ok, so I adore Center for Lit products. I got the Ready Readers picture book guide just to get a feel for how they apply the Socratic questions in Teaching the Classics. I love that they schedule picture books all the way up through even the older grades to teach different literary devices. These were all absolutely wonderful books! I need to write a whole post on Center for Lit products. Soon and very soon.

Of all of the books this was my very favorite. I could write a whole post on this book alone. Absolutely beautiful and deep. Silas thought the book was kind of sad until I explained why it was so beautiful. Maybe someday he'll understand.

Silas has been reading 13 Clocks. He absolutely loved this book. It was one of the books on the Reading Roadmaps 4th grade list.

We completed our final visit for SCM Visits to Europe. We finished our final book Children of the Northlights. This one is going in my D'Aulaire collection to never be sold. We spent some time in Finland, and this book captured that part of the world so well. Silas got every single country correct on his final map test! I highly recommend this program!

Next year we will be using HOD Creation to Christ. Aedan adored the science from that guide. Silas has covered animals multiple times and asked if he could learn astronomy this year instead. He said he would like to still read some of the CtC science books, so he read through this one over the past few weeks. Instead we will use the science from HOD Resurrection to Reformation next year.

We wrapped up the rest of our science experiments. We made it through the whole thing! That was no easy task. REAL Science Chemistry had a ton of experiments! I can't bear to skip them for my hands on kid. A few weeks ago we did an acids and bases experiment with cabbage indicator. We had leftover cabbage water for yet another stinky experiment. P-U!

We dipped coffee filters into cabbage indicator to make PH strips.

Next we tested water, baking soda water and vinegar to see which was most acidic. The paper turned pink for acid and blue for alkaline.

Silas painted with the various mixtures.

We made a PH scale.

Next we did an activity where we built teeth. First we took chalk (calcium carbonate) and ground it into a fine powder.

Silas had fun smashing it to bits!

Next we poured vinegar into the jar to dissolve the calcium carbonate.

It was fun seeing something bubble that wasn't vinegar and baking soda.

After a while the mixture separated.

Silas thought the bubbles were weird.

We left the calcium carbonate mixture over night. We also mixed baking soda and water.

Mixing these two liquids together formed a solid. I didn't get a picture, but we poured off the liquid and saw our solid. Awesome!

The last few experiments we played with fire. Always a hit with boys! Sooo.....Our next experiment was to light a dollar on fire without actually burning it. Umm...

We were supposed to soak the dollar in 90% alcohol, water and salt, buuuuuttttt we only had 70%. Sounds like a good sub right?

Silas took the dollar out and let the liquid drip off. You know that inner voice that says, "This isn't a bright idea." I had a bad feeling about that substitution.

 Next we lit our dollar on fire that wasn't supposed to burn, and well, it burned anyway. Ha! Can't win em' all right?

 Sorry George.

We also learned how oxygen and fire are a team.

After lighting the candles we put a small, medium and large jar on top of the candles.

We had to get them on the same time to see which candle would burn the longest.

Of course it was the large jar with the most oxygen present.


Here is where we say goodbye to the memories of last year. I'm so thankful for this sweet boy. He sure lights up our days. I'm sure I will check in with you all between now and next year. For now I am thankful you have come to walk alongside us on our journey. Best of days to you!
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