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Learning Moments {Week 1}

I have been longing to return to year round homeschooling and spring has always been my favorite time to start a new curriculum. After a long winter, something new and fresh is just perfect for me!

Bigger Hearts for His Glory {Unit 1} 

I'm also needing a bit more routine and accountability in my homeschool so I ordered a boxed curriculum and started Bigger Hearts for His Glory from Heart of Dakota with Eliana. I ordered the economy packages for History and Science. We started this past week, and I am loving it. I am mostly loving being consistent, how much it is challenging her, the variety of activities that we do, and that we get school done every day!

I took lots of photos to share a day by day account of our week. 

Day 1

History: Our readings started with A First Book in American History.  This is really a great little book. It is biographical in nature and includes vocabulary, narration prompts, maps and illustrations, and focuses on virtue and good conduct. We read about the Early Life of Columbus and How Columbus Discovered America this week. 

Here are a few highlights of our day:

Rotating Box: Geography ~ Tracing continents on a globe. 

{New "school" room in progress in the background!}

Poetry: Illustrating "Four By the Clock" -  poem for Unit 1. 

Handwriting Pre-Test (Getty Dubay Italic Book C)

{She's drinking "Peppermint tea" ~ Peppermint essential oil + Truvia - a favorite of mine lately to help me wake up in the morning since I can't have coffee.}

Reading "Pine Tree Pet Shop"

All About Spelling Lesson 15 ~ Spelling and dictation continued from last time we met.

She did Math Lessons for a Living Education (MLLE) Book 3 Lesson 1 today. This math curriculum is now a FREE download! (Thanks for letting me know Mud Puddle Soup!) I've really loved this program for Eliana, but may print Book 5 for Malachi as it covers some concepts he hasn't mastered. 

Day 2

Italic C Handwriting

Cute 4 year old writing in his notebook while I do school with Eliana. 

She did MLLE Lessons 2 & 3 today. 

Science: Low Tide/High Tide Notebooking 

Today the Rotating Box was Art, much to Elli's delight! 

She learned about foreground, middle ground, and background, and shaded the water darker in the middle ground, then painted swirling clouds. (Since Columbus was finally going to sail across the ocean...)

Our character trait this week is "Persistence." Today, Elli did 20 jumping jacks and then read Proverbs 2:3-5, then did 20 jumping jacks and then read Proverbs 2:3-5, then did it again to practice persistence. :) She had many opportunities to practice this trait throughout the week. 

For Storytime, we were to choose at least one biography to read over the next 20 days. I did not order the Deluxe package since we own many of the books, but we did not have a biography and our library did not have any of the selections suggested. I ordered several of the Jean Fritz biographies from Rainbow Resource to tie into our History, so while waiting for those, I read several stories from Dave and Netta Jackson's Hero Tales, Volume I and II: A Family Treasury of True Stories From the Lives of Christian Heroes. 

Since our character trait this week is Persistence, I read stories on perseverance for our storytime:
  • Adoniram & Ann Judson: America's First Foreign Missionaries & The Book in the Pillow
  • Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground Railroad & "Wanted: Dead or Alive!"
  • Eric Liddell: Olympic Champion and Missionary to Chine & "The Impossible Run"
  • John Newton: The Slave Trader Who Found Grace & "The Minister No One Wanted."
I especially liked John Newton's story of perseverance, as he went on to write "Amazing Grace," "How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds," and "Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken" and many others. We extended our music time this day to include these songs along with a modified version of Holy, Holy, Holy. 

Day 3


Reciting "Four By the Clock"

Practicing Persistence

All About Reading and more practicing of Persistence 

Lesson 25 completed. 

Sink or Float "Experiment"

This was obviously a very simple experiment, but I think the purpose was more to focus on writing up the lab sheet or experiment log - her first one, so I resolved that it was okay that the experiment was easy. 

Experiment lab sheet

Working on skip counting 3s. 

Rotating box: Vocabulary

She wrote the word and the definition, drew a picture, and narrated sentences to me. 

All About Reading Lesson 26

Day 4

Naming the 7 continents and oceans (from Beginning Geography - a tie in)

Then cutting them up to make a balloon globe. 

The guide actually has you using sticky notes, but this worked well for us since I had already pulled it as a tie-in. 

We had a What's Next Facebook Essential Oil class this day for members. I learned so much! Like the fact that I can use Lemon for my sore throat like I use Thieves (see below!) and that I can use Orange oil to whiten my teeth! I have really sensitive teeth so cannot use whitening products. I noticed a difference after my second application (2 drops on a toothbrush and brush on). So far no sensitivity. And that I might need White Angelica to help me when I am struggling with negativity around me. (I am really affected by the moods of my older boys and one especially can be moody). These are fun classes offered only to members, but we have another 101 class coming up ~ see below!

Day 5

Marking Columbus' voyage on a map.

Demonstration to show how waves are formed by moving air. 

She had fun with this making waves in different directions and then testing to see if her Playmobil would move with the waves or stay put.

Each day, Eliana marks off the subjects as she completes them.

Eliana loves this! It kind of reminds me of our work-boxing days. 

Bigger Hearts for His Glory Guide - I had it spiral bound, but Tara no longer recommends this. So far it is working well for us, but I have to baby the spiral binding to keep it from coming out. I can see how it would cause more wear and tear on the guide. 

Notebooks & Clipboard - another idea from Tara. I pull out a unit at a time and put it on the clipboard to use all week. Love this! All the notebooking pages can be downloaded from the HOD online groups (Facebook or Yahoo groups). 

History books this week. 

I added Where do you think you are going Christopher Columbus? for our biography for Storytime at the end of the week when our order from Rainbow Resource came. 

Science book & Notebooking page (all ready to go for next week!)

Math Lessons for a Living Education 
and Math Facts for Copywork (recommended in MLLE Book 3)

Evan Moor Beginning Geography {Section 3 Continents & Oceans}

is where I am storing all of her school! 

I love it! It rolls to the dining room table with us when we do school. The rolling cart is the R├ůSKOG from IKEA - we stopped in Draper, Utah on our way home from California and had exactly 1 hour to shop before they closed. Not an easy feat! I wanted the beige one, but couldn't find it so grabbed the teal. We came home with 2 4x4 Kallax, 1 2x4 Kallax, 1 2x2 Kallax2 MICKE desks and 4 swivel SNILLE chairs. Oh, and a HEMNES coffee table, which I thought would be great for storing books under and doing school at the couch when we feel like snuggling up for couch schooling! (I think ours is natural, but I haven't had my husband put it together yet.)

Maybe I will have everything all organized to share our learning areas by this fall. :) 

Malachi ~ 4th grade

Malachi is in the 4th grade currently, but since we are transitioning back to a year round school schedule, this is an update from our 2014-2015 Curriculum.
On hold:
  • All About Reading 4
  • All About Spelling 4
  • Write Shop Junior D
I do plan to pick these up soon, but I'm really enjoying being freed up with Orphs in the Woodlands replacing his reading for the review! It covers Reading, Thinking Skills, Character and Life Skills, Math, Science and more. It's really a neat program!

He has completed 12 weeks of VP and is a few weeks ahead of us in History, but his is a two year American History program and he will continue with VP next year as well.

Boaz ~ Preschool
Bo is almost done with the first third of AAR ~ capital letters. He is also doing Before Five in a Row (I have our row of Corduroy to share soon), and we read Sonlight Preschool books during Storytime.

He is also doing Artistic Pursuits preschool art book The Way They See It, and LaLaLogic curriculum (both reviews for the Crew).

Making marks with edible finger paint! {Vanilla pudding}

In my life... 

I was sick this week. I was so good about oiling us up while on our trip and we stayed so well the whole time, but I ran out of Thieves when we got home and I caught a cold. So I put some of my respiratory oils to good use this week. My favorites were Pine, Eucalyptus radiata, Eucalyptus globulous, Peppermint, Breathe Again, and my homemade vapor rub that I got to put to good use for the first time since I made it a couple months ago. (It has RC, Thieves, Lemon, Raven, and Eucalyptus radiata in a coconut oil, olive oil, and beeswax salve).  All my upper respiratory symptoms were gone by Wednesday - except a sore throat. I got my Essential Rewards order on Thursday and the first thing I did was drop 3 drops of Thieves in the back of my throat and it instantly soothed my poor throat. Then I put 4 drops in a capsule with 1 drop each of Oregano, Thyme and Lemongrass and my throat was better the next day. I ordered two more bottles of Thieves so I don't run out again!

I am also loving diffusing Peppermint to wake me up in the morning, to help me and the kids focus, to clear up my stuffy nose, and to keep the ants out of my house! Ants don't like peppermint!  I used to really love Peace & Calming in the diffuser in our school room, but I'm really loving Peppermint and now Lemon (which helps you focus and improves memory). I still use Peace & Calming at bedtime for Bo along with Lavender & Orange in the diffuser, but during the day, I am using Peppermint (until it warms up and I have a little more spring to my step).

I am so thankful for these oils and share lots more testimonies in our Facebook classes. We have one coming up this next week that I am getting ready for...

If you are not already a current Young Living member, I'd love to have you join us and invite a friend! If you are not interested, but have a friend that might, I'd be so honored if you'd invite them. Send me a friend request on FB and a note, or send me your email so I can send you an invite by email.

If you are not on Facebook, and are interested in learning more about the oils and allowing me to sponsor you, I have an alternative class! Hint, it involves free coffee!

Thanks for letting me share!


  1. Wow, your kiddos are getting so big. I remember when Eliana was just a tiny little one! I always love your posts. I have looked at Heart of Dakota a few times and it looks lovely. Being a Canadian, however, is sometimes hard with all the American curriculum! ;) So, we've opted out mostly for that reason - so much American history, which we already get a lot of from FIAR (as you know!). But it does look lovely. We have also considered the One Small Square book so I'd love to see your photos/thoughts on that! :D Thanks for sharing your home ! xo Cass @ TheUnpluggedFamily.com

  2. What a fun window into your teaching week! Could you post a picture of a Math Facts for Copywork page? Is the book good for a first grader?

    1. Yes, it could be used with a first grader! It is very simple - just math facts organized per lesson. For example, Lesson 1: The Two Family 0+2=2, 1+1=2, 2+0=2. Then it goes up through the Ten Family, then adding zero to a number, then adding 1, 2, 3, etc. There is not room to write in the book - you have to write in a separate notebook. Like, I said, it's very simple. It covers all addition and subtraction facts, then it goes through multiplication and division facts. You could very easily do this on your own, but it is scheduled in MLLE Book 3, so I went ahead and bought it to make things easier. It is supposed to teach math facts through copywork, so I thought I'd give it a try. :)

  3. What an accomplished week! Great job! :)

  4. I love to see what others are doing in their homeschool. How do you find using AAR and AAS at the same time? Do you use both everyday?

    1. I usually do 2-3 reading lessons per week, and 1 spelling lesson (spread out to 2 or 3 days). In my post, I link to how I correlate the two - sometimes it depends on that. If it is a real intense reading lesson, we don't do spelling until the next day and then I'll skip reading that day. The spelling lessons reinforce the reading, so it all works out great!

  5. I absolutely LOVE this post! Bigger was such a wonderful guide. It's so fun to see it again through your eyes :)

  6. Can you tell me more about the 'rotating box' thing??

    1. Cass, I totally get that about American History! The rotating box this week was Geography, Artistic Expression, Vocabulary, History Activity, and Timeline. This repeats each week, but not always in the same order. They are hands-on activities, notebooking activities, art project, etc. I like the variety so far!

  7. Looks like a full week of learning!

    1. It was a wonderfully full week! ♥ It felt so good to be back in a routine and it was easy - so when I saw all that she did (notebooking wise especially), it felt good!

  8. What a great week! I love your updates and pictures. I used Bigger Hearts with my 9 yr old last year. It was our first year of homeschooling and it helped me tremendously get it all done. My daughter really enjoyed it too and it was a special time for the both of us. I am glad your oily journey is going well too. I took your tip to use orange to whiten my teeth and see a difference after 2 days. So thank you! I am always amazed at how versatile these oils are. You were also the one who inspired me to do the business side. I have used YL oils for 6 yrs and never wanted to go that route but then when I read you were, I figured if she can do it as busy as she is, why not me. Besides, these oils bring such immense value and benefit to people. It's almost shameful if I don't share. Hahaa. I just keep praying for God's will and direction. I pray you have tons of success this year with everything! God Bless you Michelle. :)

    1. Rachel, yay! When I enrolled, it was because I learned that I could use my account for personal use only - I had no desire to build a business and never dreamt that I could or that I'd be where I am now just sharing the oils I love! But, now that I am doing Bigger?! I'm even more excited! I have even more time to help people with oils and homeschooling. :) And I agree ~ I think everyone needs them! I pray you have lots of oily success! I'm so glad to hear that you both enjoyed Bigger! <3 Thank you, Rachel!

  9. I always enjoy your posts but this one...this one is almost an answer to prayer! You see we have used AAR and will wrap up Level 4 in a few weeks. My twins (8) are very strong readers thanks to AAR but now what do I do? I would like to find something that continues to grow their vocabulary and comprehension skills and that will help guide me through that. I know we can do book reports on our own as well as vocabulary work. I guess I just got spoiled by AAR. Many of the reading curriculum I looked at recently just seems so stale and boring. Ive been feeling a little lost so I look forward to your review of the new reading program. Perhaps this will be our next step.

  10. Oh, how I have missed reading your posts regularly!!! Can you tell me more about your switch from Sonlight to Heart of Dakota? As one who greatly respects you and looks up to you, I'm very curious to hear more about the switch. We currently have Core D lined up to do next year with our "third-graders" – they'll be eight and nine years old. I love the hands on stuff that you show from HOD. That has been the missing part that always makes me hesitate with Sonlight. Also, I'm currently reading EVERY part aloud to them. How/when do you transition to more independent learning with all of the literature? Since we own Core D, thoughts on combining with HOD or...? Curriculum always trips me up! Especially because right now we have a very high maintenance toddler (18 months)...I feel like nothing is running smoothly. As always, I'd love your thoughts and insights! (I also loved reading through your "Day in the Life" series again. It was through a series like this from you a good while back that I realized there is much grace to be had in using paper products while homeschooling… ;-)) Hugs, Joy C.

    1. Hi Joy! I was originally planning to do Core D next for American History, as I've kept Mali and Elli together since they were 2 and 4, but Malachi is doing so well with Veritas Press History, and has taken off on his own, whereas Elli needed to slow down. So, whereas I hadn't considered HOD before because I couldn't combine, I now considered it. Sonlight is great for combining multiple ages, HOD is not. (I also thought Core D would be too much for my daughter at the time). HOD is gentler, and also includes hands-on and notebooking. I will tell you this though - we just finished unit 7 and I really miss how Sonlight ties read alouds into history. HOD does not, but you have some flexibility to add in whatever you want for Storytime. Someone blessed me by using my referral for Sonlight and the first thing I did was go pick out books from Core D to supplement Bigger Hearts! Some weeks I'm super torn. This week I did not feel like doing the hands on and we had several projects to do - that's when I miss just snuggling on the couch reading! I love the notebook and love seeing all that she has done - Sonlight is missing that. I do like the history spines for Bigger, but it is not going to be as in-depth as Sonlight is, compared to the one year American History.

      As far as transitioning, I got Story of the World on CD starting in Core G and H to help. My 8th grader was completely independent for Core H - he did read alouds and readers. I started transitioning in Core G so they were reading history and readers, and I was doing read-alouds. I read everything through Core D&E! (except readers, of course).

      Just so you know, I plan to have Malachi do Cores G, H, and 100. I'm not sure about Eliana yet. After Bigger, we plan to do the Prairie Primer. By then, she may be caught up to Malachi and I might have her do Sonlight again with Malachi. The hard part is the notebooking with HOD in the upper guides is so tempting! But, I just plan to take it one year at a time right now. :)

      Having an 18 month old is a game changer! It was for me with Bo. I had a hard time keeping up with everything and that is when I needed Sonlight the most. I loved FIAR, but it was so much easier to get Sonlight done. I'm having a rough go these last couple weeks and the hands-on in Bigger are getting harder to get to. So, I am extending myself grace and adding in Sonlight books to make up for the ones we don't do! :) That grace, when it abounds, is freeing. ♥

    2. Wow - I clearly don't know how Blogger works...I looked at my profile was a little bit afraid. ;-) I updated things so I'm much more "me" now. =)

      Anyway, THANK YOU for your detailed response. Sounds like we're alike. I love the snuggles and reading, I'd love more hands on. I may even be able to bring the notebooking aspect into Sonlight... I question the intenseness of Core D and starting when my kiddos will be 7.5 and 8 (almost 9). I need to be praying about this!

      Thanks to your friend Monarch Room, I'm even considering a year off for MFW Exploring Countries & Cultures. Goodness! =) My thought is that coming off of World History, this might be a good time to do World geography, and let them mature another year before doing Core D (or really investigating HOD).

      Yes, our toddler adds a very complicated dimension to life. I'm so thankful for his cute little self, and will be even more thankful when we can find a routine that lets us get things done gracefully. =)