Wednesday, September 6, 2017

First Day of School: Our Journey to Heart of Dakota

First Day of Homeschool 2017

Is it cheating if we started school before our first day of school?

Last year, after tons of research, I bought a curriculum for our kindergarten year that in theory was perfect… You can read all about it in my earlier blog post HERE.

While on paper (literally) it was all paper work. It looked good, when presented as “school” to my children, it wasn’t a hit. The Curriculum wasn’t the only thing to blame for our difficult kindergarten year. My son had at the time a medical issue we weren’t aware of that was diagnosed in January causing issues with focusing and other areas. Not to mention, once he was diagnosed, we had to take a month off of school just to get our lives back together.

Unfortunately, all the stress from last year has caused him to think of school in a negative way. That last statement has literally caused this Mama-teacher’s heart to break. In my years as a kindergarten and second grade teacher, I have always strived to make learning enjoyable even for the strugglers. “I hate school!” is not an easy thing to hear from your own kid when you have dreamed of being his kindergarten teacher for 5 years, eagerly waiting for the day to officially homeschool him and bring that same love of learning that you ignited in other people’s children to your own.  

So, I began my search again for another curriculum that would help guide me through his first grade year… Something that tied learning about God’s world throughout the subject lessons. Something that kept lessons short, engaging, and rich academically. This year, I chose to go with the Heart of Dakota Curriculum (HOD). Little Hearts for His Glory is their first grade level. I purchased the first grade economy package and the first grade basic package for Caleb and then some extras for Lily because she always does work with us. I decided to continue on with Cupp Readers for our phonics program instead of purchasing the ones suggested.

I loved how the lessons were divided up on the page for each day. You can see a sample HERE. I loved the activities they suggested. I loved the books that we received from our purchases… I was excited!

But… I was also nervous. We have 12 more years of homeschooling. 12 miserable years if I can’t change his attitude about school. This leads me back to the question I first asked…

Is it cheating if we started school before our first day of school?

We took our new HOD curriculum out for a test run. My initially thought was to do one lesson a day and see how it went, but to my surprise and delight, when we finished the first Science lessons, they were asking for more! I almost cried, but I didn’t have time, because I was too busy reading the directions for the History lesson, and then the Bible study lesson, and the Rhymes in Motion lesson, and then Music lesson! We finished the entire school day except reading and math. Over the course of the next 3 weeks, we did a little more and a little more. Before the actual planned first day of school, we had finished 6 days of lessons! On September 5, 2017, we started with a little photo session (as you can see) and then began our official first day of school, which went great! We still have up and down days and times within the school day, but things are better. I pray they continue to improve as the school year goes on so I never hear those horrible 3 words again.

I may be crazy wanting to add any more to our plate during the school day, but I still think calendar time is important and keeping track of the number of days of school is a great way to develop number concepts. HOD does not include lessons for these activities, so I decided to create my own, which I plan to share more about in a future post, so visit back soon to hear more about it.

I hope your school year is off to a great start. I pray you never hear those 3 awful words and if you do that you are able to restructure your homeschool in a way that works for your whole family. I’d love to hear your first day stories below and I’d be happy to answer any questions about the first grade Heart of Dakota curriculum.

God Bless You on Your Learning Journey ~

Monday, March 13, 2017

Roadschooling: A Snowy Experience

Roadschooling:  A Snowy Experience

There are many children that get to experience snow first-hand every winter. But there are many that don't. Because we stay in Florida for the winter, our kids have not seen snow very much, but the great thing about roadschooling is that when your children want to experience snow first hand, you can pack up and go find some. That's exactly what we did. We watched the weather and headed to Maggie Valley, North Carolina on Saturday night where they were predicting 3 - 5 inches. On the night we arrived, snowflakes began to fall! As you can see we were VERY excited!

 We found this cute cozy cabin, Country Cabins, where the kids would have a large area to play when the snow arrived. I’m so glad we did! Not only did they have a play house with toys inside just for the kids, but the manager also provided our kids (and ME!) with toboggans! We had such a great time! Check out our cabin!

The inside even had a wood burning fireplace to warm us up after our cold play!

Check out their expressions when they first stepped foot in the snow the next morning! There was about 4 inches of snow covering the ground.

When we first walked outside, the snow was light and powdery. The kids had a great time playing in it!

We eventually got cold and tired, so we went inside, dried off, changed clothes, and ate a late lunch. By the time we went back outside it was above 40 degrees, so the snow was melting, making it perfect for snowball fights and snowman building!

Like I said, the awesome manager of the Country Cabins brought us toboggans to play with. Of course Mommy had to test it out to make sure it was safe a few  LOT of times. Honestly, I've never ridden a toboggan myself. I'm a Georgia girl, so snow is not the norm for me. I have to say it was super fun and probably my favorite thing to do! 

Was it worth it? Absolutely! We had such a great time playing in the snow and making awesome memories together. Caleb told me repeatedly, “Mommy, I’m never going to forget this day!” “Me either, Bud… Me either!”

This will definitely go down as one of our more memorable trips. These kinds of trips and experiences are the ones I love the best. How about you? I’d love to hear about your memorable travel experiences too!

God Bless You on Your Learning Journey ~

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Roadschooling Adventure: The Atlanta Zoo… FREE!

Roadschooling Adventure: The Atlanta Zoo… FREE!

I have lived my entire life in Georgia and I’ve been to the Atlanta Zoo one time for a field trip in fourth grade. I was telling my husband that I don’t remember much about it except that it was a really hot day and I was disappointed because I didn’t get to see my favorite animals, the lions. I’ve always wanted to go back. Even though we’ve visited close to ten zoos around the country, I haven’t made it back to my hometown zoo in Atlanta. That is until this past Saturday!

I always try to Google discounts to the museums, zoos, and other attractions we visit along our travels. Earlier, I shared about the See 3 Pass in Savannah, Georgia. This time I came across a great one for anyone that lives and has a library pass in Georgia. Many of you may know about that, but I had never heard about it, so I figured there were others like me.

The Atlanta Zoo Library Pass:

Once a year, you can go to your local library and check out the Atlanta Zoo Library Pass. It’s a DVD that lasts 18 minutes. You watch the DVD that describes the history of how the Atlanta Zoo became what it is today either at home or possibly at the library and return it. I found it quite interesting since this is some of my hometown history. When you return the DVD, the librarian will fill out and provide you with a voucher that will provide entrance to the zoo for up to four people… FREE! You only get to check it out once a year and you only have 14 days to use it from the time you return the DVD, so you need to plan ahead and look at weather.

You can learn more about the Atlanta Zoo Library Pass HERE!

When I talked to the librarian, she shared some insight about peak times the Library Pass is checked out, like Fall Break and Spring Break during the public school year and in the Summer it’s pretty hot too. Call ahead to make sure the pass is there before you make the drive. They may even put it behind the desk if you tell them you are on your way to get it right then.

The Atlanta Zoo is a small zoo, but it has some great exhibits. It’s definitely worth a visit, especially if you can do it for FREE! That's my favorite word!! I love that many of the exhibits are set up where small children can see the animals at their level instead of needing to be lifted over a fence or other barrier. We were literally 3 feet from the Moma Panda eating bamboo!  Check out some of the animals we saw…

Did you know about the Atlanta Zoo Library Pass before? Would you care to share any other great discounts to fun and educational attractions either near or far? I’d love to hear from you!

God Bless You on Your Learning Journey ~

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Candy Heart Subtraction Craftivity


I know this is a bit late, but I’m playing catch up around here. You may choose to do this activity now or save it until next year, but I know you and your students will love it.

Both my children and I love doing crafts, but I’m not a fluff person. I usually tie my crafts into some academic learning that we’re focusing on in school. This is a fun craft to practice subtraction and story problem skills.

Craft Time:

Construction paper
        * 1 (9” X 12”) Sheet of red construction paper
        * ½ sheet of pink construction paper cut length wise
        * Cut 2.5” hearts out of red (1/student). Cut 2” hearts out of pink (1/student).
        * Cut 1” hearts out of pink, purple, blue, orange, green, and yellow
        *Print and cut out prior to lesson

1. Provide your students with a sheet of red construction paper and have them write their name on the back.

2. Provide each student with a half sheet of pink construction paper and have them fold it in half length wise.

3. Have students glue the outside of one side of the folded pink paper and place it toward the upper center of the red paper with the fold at the top. The pink paper should open by lifting it up.

4. On the outside of the pink fold, have students glue the Sweethearts label found on the Subtraction paper download. I created this for you. As you can see from the example above I just wrote the word Sweethearts on construction paper. Then, glue the red 2” heart below that and a pink 1” heart inside the red heart.

5. At the lower center of the paper, have students glue the subtraction story paper found on the provided download.

6. Provide students with a variety of 1” hearts in the colors listed in the materials section.

Now, that the set is ready, the learning begins…

Begin by telling the students subtraction stories. For example, you might say…

There were 5 candy hearts in the box. 
(Students should move 5 hearts to the inside of the box.)
You ate 2 candy hearts.
(Students should move 2 hearts out of the box.)
How many candy hearts are left?
(Students count the hearts left in their box and provide the answer.)

Progress into helping your students tell the story with you. An example, might go like this…

How many candy hearts did you start with in your box?
(Accept a number from your students and have them move that many hearts into their box.
How many candy hearts did you eat?
(Accept a number from your students and have them demonstrate removing that number from the box.)
How many candy hearts are left?
(Students count the hearts left in their box and provide the answer.)

Last, allow students to make up their own stories and demonstrate them to you. Allow the students to glue their hearts to match their story.


Then, have them fill in the blanks of the subtraction story and write the subtraction problem to match.

We had a great time with this activity. It was definitely a fun way to practice subtraction. Even my 3-year-old was excited about telling the stories.

God Bless You on Your Learning Journey ~

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