Our 2016-2017 Curriculum

IMG_7591(2)Can this mama be honest?  This was the most difficult homeschool year to prepare for yet.  I devoted more time this summer to planning, preparing, and reorganizing than ever before.    From devising activities for our youngest so he can continue making progress in reading to typing out high school course descriptions (and everything else in between), it was a huge undertaking.  And, the task wasn’t just physically and mentally challenging, but emotionally as well.  I chose curriculum, organized, and scheduled for 1st – 9th grades.  FIRST through NINTH grades!  This may not seem like a big deal, but to me it means there are no more preschoolers or kindergarteners AND there is now a highschooler in the house!   How can this be?!  It seems like only yesterday that I was a new homeschooling mama – juggling a kindergartener, a three year old, a toddler, and expecting our fourth.  It feels like this lovely eldest daughter, who (ahem) is likely to surpass me in height this year, was just recently enjoying Blue’s Clues, making marble painting creations, and dancing/singing her heart out with her Word and Song Bible. Word and Song Oh, wait…That was over ten years ago!
I guess it is safe to say that time only stands still in my mind.

So, since time keeps marching on, here are our homeschool curriculum choices for the 2016-2017 school year – for 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, and 9th grades.IMG_8355 (2)

our 1st Grader…

  • Reading/Phonics:
    Completion of his ABeka K readers, Vowel Team Word Work, and Explode the Code book 3
    Then, we plan to move onto the ABeka 1st grade readers, reading from My Father’s World Bible Reader, and possibly the Early Reader’s Bible as well.  For phonics, we plan to move onto Explode the Code book 4 (and maybe 5).  For spelling and writing, we will begin Joyful Heart Spelling Skills and Write a Super Sentence.
  • Math:  Horizons 1; Xtra Math fact practice
  • Science:  Apologia Exploring Creation with Land Animals  (with his 3rd grade sister)

    (Above: I don’t think my little guy is quite ready for the Jr. Notebook that his older sister will be using, so I made him his own ‘Animals In My World’ notebook!)
  • Social Studies:  Heart of Dakota Bigger Hearts for His Glory (Reading About History/History Notebook, Geography/ Vocabulary/History Activity/Timeline, Storytime boxes plus ‘A Pioneer Sampler’)   (with his 3rd grade sister)
    IMG_8505 (2)
  • AWANA:  2nd year Sparks
  • Bible and Worldview:  Morning Worship (hymns and Training Hearts,Training Minds) with the family, Continue with Big Truths For Little Kids and memorizing the Ten Commandments (Scripture Memorization : Exodus 20:1-17). Once completed, we plan to switch to God’s Word from Sally Michael and memorize Psalm 19.
  • Music:  piano


our 3rd Grader…

  • Reading/Literature:  ABeka readers (3rd and 4th grade), Explode the Code book 8;  Memoria Press Literature (including Little House in the Big Woods, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, A Bear Called Paddington, and Charlotte’s Web)IMG_7798
  • Writing/Grammar/Composition:  BJU English 3;  Joyful Heart Spelling Skills,  Draw Write Now(animals that correspond with science); A Reason for Handwriting Book C (cursive)
  • Math: Horizons 3, Xtra Math fact practice
  • Science:  Apologia Exploring Creation with Land Animals (using the accompanying Jr. Notebook)  (with her first grade brother)
  • Social Studies:  Heart of Dakota Bigger Hearts for His Glory (Reading About History/History Notebook, Geography/ Vocabulary/History Activity/Timeline, Storytime boxes plus ‘A Pioneer Sampler’)   (with her first grade brother)
    IMG_7806 (2)IMG_7808
  • AWANA:  1st year Truth and Training (T&T)
  • Bible and Worldview:  Reading through the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs and completing a daily devotional sheet, Morning Worship (hymns and Training Hearts,Training Minds) with the family
    IMG_7810 IMG_7811
  • Music/Art:  Choir, Violin Lessons, piano practice, See The Light Art Class


our 5th Grader…

  • Reading/Literature:  Memoria Press (including Adam of the Road, Robin Hood, Door in the Wall, King Arthur)
  • Writing/Grammar/Composition/Spelling:  BJU English 5; Joyful Heart Spelling through Scripture (dictation for spelling and handwriting)
  • Vocabulary:  Word Roots 1
  • Math:  Horizons 5, Xtra Math fact practice
  • Science:  Apologia Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Apologia Exploring Creation with Botany
  • Social Studies:  Beautiful Feet Books: Modern American and World (including portions of Mystery of History volume IV)   (with his 7th grade sister)
  • AWANA:  3rd year Truth and Training (T&T)
  • Bible and Worldview:  Apologia Worldview; Reading through the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs and completing a daily devotional sheet; Morning Worship (hymns and Training Hearts,Training Minds) with the family
  • Music/Art:  Choir, piano practice, See The Light Art Class


our 7th Grader…

  • Reading/Literature:  Veritas Press Omnibus 1, Secondary
    (including Chosen by God, Till We Have Faces, all books in The Chronicles of Narnia series, The Best Things in Life, Unaborted Socrates, The Eagle of the Ninth, The Screwtape Letters, and The Holiness of God)
  • Writing/Grammar/Composition/Spelling:  Rod and Staff English, Gumdrops (editing), Write with the Best, Spelling through Scripture (dictation for spelling and handwriting)
  • Vocabulary: Word Roots
  • Math:  Saxon 8/7 Pre Algebra
  • Science:  Apologia Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Apologia Exploring Creation with Botany  (with her 5th grade brother)
  • Social Studies:  Beautiful Feet Books: Modern American and World (including portions of Mystery of History volume IV and a homemade history notebook)
    (with her 5th grade brother)
    IMG_7812 (2)IMG_8287
  • AWANA:  2nd year Trek, serving as a Leader in Training with a preschool Gopher Buddies class
  • Bible and Worldview:  Apologia Worldview, middle school Bible study, Morning Worship (Scripture passage review, hymns, and Training Hearts,Training Minds), personal Bible study, Middle School Girls’ Bible Study
  • Music/Art:  Cello lessons, Piano lessons, Student Worship Choir, Orchestra, See The Light Art Class

our 9th Grader…

IMG_7595 (2)

With a growing heart for missions, our new high school student joyfully helped choose Heart of Dakota’s World Geography as her main curriculum for this school year!  We plan to follow the plans, as is indicated in the guide, with the exception of their science and math selections.  Once completed, she will earn a total of 8 credits her freshman year.

    • English I (English Grammar, Literature, and Composition)  1 Credit
      BJU Fundamentals of Literature; Essentials in Writing: Grade 10 Student Text and DVD; Building Securely English by Rod and Staff; Classic Novels:
      A Lantern in Her Hand by Bess Streeter Aldrich
      Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
      Papa’s Wife by Thyra Ferre Bjorn
      The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
      Children of the New Forest by Frederick Marryat
      Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling


    • Algebra 1 with Integrated Geometry  1.5 Credits
      Shormann Algebra 1 with Integrated Geometry


    • Biology  1 credit
      Apologia Exploring Creation with Biology (with labs)


    • World Geography  1 Credit
      The Archaeology Book; A Book of Discovery; Mapping the World with Art; The Seven Wonders of the World; Must See Places of the World (6 DVD set): Magnificent Planet/Marvels of Mankind, Wildlife Treasures, Journey of a Lifetime, Australia the Beautiful, Mysteries of the Ancient World, Scenic Cruises of the World; World Geography: Expedition Journal; History Through the Ages: World Geography Timeline Figures, Book of Centuries; Living Library:
      The Sign Above the Door by William Canfield
      Big John’s Secret
      by Eleanore M. Jewett
      A Silk Road Pilgrimage
      by Richard and Jewel Showalter
      The Captive
      by Christoph von Schmid
      God Spoke Tibetan
      by Allan Maberly
      Around the World in Eighty Days
      by Jules Verne
      Florence Young: Mission Accomplished by Janet and Geoff Benge
      Kisses From Katie by Katie Davis


    • World Religion and Cultures  .5 Credit
      But Don’t All Religions Lead to God?; World Religions: An Indispensable Introduction: Mimosa; Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus; Sundar Singh: Footprints Over the Mountains; Queen of the Dark Chamber; Japan Diary of Cross-Cultural Mission; I Dared to Call Him Father; God’s Global Mosaic; Foreign to Familiar; World Religions and Cultures Notebook


    • Bible  1 Credit
      Rooted and Grounded: A Guide for Spiritual Growth; Prayer Journal; personal Bible study; AWANA Journey – Bible Reading and Scripture Memorization


    • Logic  .5 Credit
      The Fallacy Detective, The Art of Argument


    • Spanish  .5 Credit
      Getting Started With Spanish


    • Instrumental Music I  1 Credit
      Violin lessons, Piano Lessons, orchestra


    • Additions: Apologia Worldview, Student Leader in Awana/Trek, See the Light Art Class, SAT Vocabulary App, High School Girls’ Bible Study


      As I look at the credits and amount of work involved for each of our daughter’s 9th grade courses, I sometimes get overwhelmed and want to scream, ‘She can’t do this! How will she ever have time each day to complete all of these assignments?’  But, then I catch myself and speak Truth – God’s got this.  God’s been preparing her every step of the way.  I sneak a peek at our new high school daughter.  She has matured so much and grown tremendously over the last couple of years.  Is she perfect? Of course not.  Does she have academic areas in which she struggles?  Most definitely.  Does she seem fearful of the amount of time and effort this year requires.  It doesn’t appear so.   She’s handled her first full week of high school fabulously and is calm and confident in Christ.  I think I could learn a few lessons from this rooted and grounded young lady in the area of trust.

IMG_8511So, in the blink of an eye (from Blue’s Clues to Algebra),we race with grateful hearts focused on Him into another great year of learning!


Would you like to see our curriculum choices from previous years?
2015-2016 (8th, 6th, 4th, 2nd, Kindergarten)
2014-2015 (7th, 5th, 3rd, 1st, PreK)
2013-2014 (6th, 4th, 2nd, K, preschool)
2012-2013 (5th, 3rd, 1st, PreK, 2 year old)
2011-2012 (4th, 2nd, K, 3’s preschool, toddler)
2010-2011 (3rd, 1st, PreK, 2 year old, 4 mo old baby)
2009-2010 (2nd, K, 3’s preschool, toddler, baby arrived end of year)
2008-2009 (1st, PreK, 2 year old, 6 mo old baby)
2007-2008 (K, 3’s preschool, toddler, baby arrived mid year)
2006-2007 (PreK, 2 year old, 7 mo old baby) – Joyful Heart Character
2005-2006 (3’s preschool, toddler, baby arrived mid year) – Joyful Heart Bible and Rhyme
2004-2005 (2 year old, 6 mo old baby) – Joyful Heart Learning

Persevering in the Race


We began our 2016-2017 school year with an Olympic theme
– “Racing Into a Great Year!”

IMG_8311 IMG_8323

Much more important than the flag decorations, Olympic ring colored streamers, yummy special foods, and fun activities, I pray that the kids and I will continually reflect on the verses we studied during our devotional time that day.


Our main verse was from Hebrews 12:1-3…

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

What race are we on?  Well, obviously, we are not in an Olympic running race.  However, if you have accepted God’s One and Only Son Jesus as your Lord and Savior, your race is your daily life.  The ‘race’ we are referring to is our daily Christian walk that we are on with Jesus.

We read passages about how to prepare for the race.  To prepare to run in any race, one must know the rules and go into training.  We learned that, as believers, we need to know God’s rules — and those are found in His Word the Bible.  We need to read, meditate, and memorize His Word so that we can know Him, His heart, His desires, and (yes) even His perfect rules for our lives.

We also looked up Scriptures to try to figure out HOW we can run with perseverance – without giving up when things get hard.  Hebrews already spoke of a huge way to endure – by not letting sin hinder us in our race!   Unwholesome thoughts, desiring our own way, temptations, mocking by others, wanting to give in… are all real struggles that can slow us down and trip us up on our race.   Being prepared by knowing God’s Word will help tremendously.   But, it was when we read Romans 15:4-6 and 13 that we began to see how God has already equipped us to be able to persevere.  We can gain endurance through trusting Jesus, through the reading of His Holy Word, and through the gift of His Holy Spirit that He has given to live within us!  He has provided all of these to bring us hope, joy, peace, and encouragement to press on.

WHY do we need to endure?  What is at stake?  A gold medal is not our end goal and prize in this lifetime.  Hebrews 12 says that we are to keep our focus on Jesus!  We look forward to one day being with Him in heaven, united face to face, no sin, no struggles, praising our Lord and Savior.  Don’t be confused, we are not working our way to heaven.  Our ‘reward’ isn’t earned.  It is a free gift from God that is promised to us once we have repented of our sins and accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  But, we are called to run this race well and to bring glory to Him!  He is faithful.IMG_8404


With Christ as our foundation, we are looking forward to a great homeschool year.
May we fix our eyes on Jesus!

Summer Olympics 2016

DSC_2709Are you ready?  Opening Ceremonies for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil begin Friday, August 5th!

DSC_2718Photo from our 2012 Summer Olympics

Ideas for Hosting Your Own Backyard Olympics…

Printables from Hubbard’s Cupboard
Olympic Sign
Drink Labels
Welcome/Olympic Creed
Running with Perseverance
Colossians 3:23

Game Ideas
Backyard Olympics From Hoosier Homemade
32 BackyardGames from Listotic
10 Wacky Olympic Games from Ministry to Children
Pool Noodle Backyard Obstacle Course from Learn/Play/Imagine
Nursery Rhyme Olympics from Hubbard’s Cupboard

Olympic Food cupcakes
Olympic Torch Cupcakes from Hoosier Homemade
Printable World Flag Cupcake Toppers from Hoosier Homemade

Bible Olympics
Printable Bible Studies from Bible School Resources

Olympic Crafts / Decorations

Homemade Torch from Busy Kids
Country Flag Printables from Homeschool Creations
Olympic Colored Friendship Bracelets
Olympic Torch Chalk Pastel Tutorial from Hodgepodge IMG_8424
Olympic Rings Chalk Pastel from Hodgepodge
3D TorchIMG_8423

STEAM inspired Olympic Events
Race to Build from Moss Wood Connections
5 Olympic STEAM Related Track Events from Views From a Stepstool

A Peek of  Some Past Olympics at our Home
Our Summer Olympics 2008
country flags

Our 2010 Indoor Winter Olympics

Let the games begin!

Spelling through Scripture

Are you searching for an opportunity for your children to…

  • practice and use correct spelling within the context of God’s Word?
  • focus on correct capitalization, spacing, punctuation, grammar, and handwriting?
  • study, memorize, copy, and type passages of Scripture in manageable sections?

Try Joyful Heart Spelling through Scripture!


JH Spelling through Scripture Cover

All you need to get started is…
1) a binder with tabbed dividers…

IMG_5692 2) a few materials for word practice set aside…

(You can use items like letter tiles, window markers, gel pens, letter stencils, etc.
We currently store all of our  spelling materials in zippered pouches within a drawer.)IMG_7234

3) a computer in which students can perform basic typing…IMG_5977

4) sheets printed from Spelling through Scripture…

  • Scripture Passages ( 27 passages broken down into manageable sections)
    Sample Passage1Sample Passage2








  • Copywork Sheets (available in print and cursive)
    Print CopyworkCursive Copywork 

    With 27 Scripture selections, ranging from a few verses in length to entire chapters, Joyful Heart Spelling through Scripture could easily span several grade levels.  It is ideal for students in the 4th through 7th grades who already have a firm understanding of essential spelling and phonics rules (Our family personally uses and recommends Joyful Heart Spelling Skills .)

    Once the foundational skills have been established, students still need practice within the context of writing.  We have chosen to review and practice skills by incorporating copywork, typing, and studied dictation of God’s Word using Joyful Heart Spelling through Scripture.

    During copywork (either handwritten or typed), children are constantly referring to a correctly written model and visualizing the correct spelling of words as they write or type their own copy of the selected Scripture passage.

    Dictation comes after copywork and a thorough review of the Bible selection.  Children study the verses before having the section dictated to them.  This is modeled after the Charlotte Mason method of prepared dictation.  The dictation aspect of Spelling through Scripture is similar to that in Joyful Heart Spelling Skills.  Dictation helps to solidify previously learned spelling rules in context.  Children check their own copywork and dictation against the original, using careful observation.  Students have a correct model to compare to as they work toward accuracy.

    The concept of Spelling through Scripture is easy to implement and is packed full of literacy skill review!  Spelling through Scripture gives children the opportunity to focus on correct capitalization, spacing, punctuation, grammar, and handwriting.  It gives children the opportunity to practice and use correct spelling within the context of God’s Word.

    JH Spelling through Scripture Cover
    When you purchase Spelling through Scripture, you will receive 3 PDF files in a zip format…
    1) Spelling through Scripture
    (instructions and 27 printable passages broken down into manageable sections)
    2) Spelling through Scripture Print Copywork
    3) Spelling through Scripture Cursive Copywork

    ** If you are interested in both Joyful Heart Spelling Skills and Joyful Heart Spelling through Scripture, just purchase Joyful Heart Spelling Skills and receive both bundled together! discount when you purchase**



‘Hot on the Trail’ of Learning

detective 004 (2) Have you heard of the 100th Day of School?   Typically, it is an elementary school celebration and is a HUGE day jam packed with fun learning activities – especially in kindergarten and first grade classrooms across the country.  

As a former K teacher and now a homeschool mama to 5 kiddos ranging from Kindergarten to 8th grade, I’ve helped our children celebrate their fair share of 100th days around here.  With each year, it has become more and more challenging to figure out how to include both the younger and older kids in the day’s festivities, making it engaging and relevant to what they are learning.  I tried to break it to the older kids that this year the 100th day activities would be just be for the elementary aged kids, but that didn’t go over so well.  LOL!  

Take a closer look at a few of our ‘hot on the trail’ activities (across grade levels)…

detective table

detective hats for our younger kids as they begin their learning investigations

tiny clues 
Tiny Clues

100 Hunt (2) 
100th Day 1-100 Sticker Hunt

100th Day Collections 
the younger kids’ 100th Day 100 Item Collections

detective donuts 
Don’t all good detectives deserve some donuts (and coffee, aka hot cocoa)?!

fingerprint suspects 
Fingerprint Suspects

 game (2)
The Cupcake Mystery Game (A ‘Clue’ Math Game)

hot on the trail mix
Our 100th Day ‘Hot on the Trail’ Mix
(The kids discovered that ten groups of ten small snack items add up to be a pretty large snack!)

revealing secret words 
Revealing Secret Words

Scripture search
Scripture Search for the older kids

secret case files 
Secret Case Files (The numbers correspond to each detective’s grade level.  =) )

detective cupcakes
A special dessert fitting for our super sleuths!

That was just a quick glimpse, but there was so much more to our day!  I’ve added our resource packet (with both elementary and middle grade ideas), to our Joyful Heart Learning shop.  Come check it out!



More 100th Day Resources:
100th Day (free ideas and printables at Hubbard’s Cupboard)
Touchdown: Celebrating 100 Days (for purchase at our Joyful Heart Learning Shop at Teacher’s Notebook)

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