Being Intentional

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At the end of a challenging homeschool day, my husband is the first to remind me of our vision for our children’s learning at home…

  • a love for God
  • a love for His Word
  • a love for others
  • and a love for learning
How can I keep that in my thoughts?  How do I keep that focus? 

As a homeschool mom, I see two clear strategies that can assist me in staying focused on our goals.

1) Being intentional in spending time with Jesus…

The first way, and probably most obvious, is to personally stay close to the Good Shepherd.  I need to make sure I am making time to meet with the Lord a priority.  Am I reading my Bible each day and meditating on what He says through His Word? Am I taking time to pray and listen from my Savior?  Am I leaning on Christ and letting Him direct my thinking, words, activities, and day to day?  If I neglect this most important relationship, my vision begins to wane and I can gradually lose the focus of ‘love for God, love for His Word, love for others, and love for learning’ – turning it completely to academics and the stress of trying to do more and more, and entirely missing the heart.   How do I know this?  Well, sadly, it is because it has happened frequently to me along this homeschool journey.  I need a constant reminder to sit quietly and rest, to lean on the One who has called me to this journey, and to abide in His Word.

2) Being intentional in sharing Christ, His Word, and biblical truths with our children…

A second way to attempt to stay focused is to incorporate more of God’s Word and learning through using the Bible during our school days.  When choosing curriculum, I try to look for (or create) resources that are founded on and transmit a biblical worldview.

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates,  so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the LORD swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.
~Deuteronomy 11:18-21

It’s about being intentional in what we choose to use and do
during these short years we have been given with each of our children.

Some academic areas are easier than others to find materials that meet that criteria.  For example, we have discovered numerous science and history curricula that integrate the Bible and subject matter quite well.  Other areas, however, seem to be lacking and seem much more difficult to integrate.

Can aspects of language arts be taught using the Bible?  Yes!  One example is teaching spelling skills, handwriting, capitalization, spacing, and punctuation using verses of Scripture.  Joyful Heart Spelling Skills uses this method and was developed from a desire to incorporate God’s Word with the learning of spelling skills for early elementary students.  Joyful Heart Spelling Skills focuses on 73 spelling rules, starting with three letter CVC words and gradually builds and progresses with more difficult skills.  Each spelling skill is practiced during the duration of the skill focus through use of copywork, dictation, word sorting, building words, color writing, and a variety of hands on suggestions for forming words using a different medium or practicing the skill in a more hands on way.

Teaching spelling in this manner allows us to gain one more time during the day in which we can intentionally set His Word before our eyes, write it, think about it, and talk about it – enabling us to learn both academically and spiritually.


Want More Information about Joyful Heart Spelling Skills?

Spelling – Bible Copywork and Dictation
Spelling – A Rules Based Approach
Spelling – Build It
Spelling – Write It a Different Way
Spelling – Making it Varied
Spelling – When to Start

To succeed in keeping our focus and vision before us involves being intentional.  Staying close to Christ and in His Word as well as utilizing resources with a biblical emphasis can help us stay the course – instilling a love for God, a love for His Word, a love for others, and a love for learning.

Solidifying Science Concepts

Over the past several years our children have studied, explored, and enjoyed delving deep into science concepts using the Apologia Young Explorer series by Jeannie Fulbright.  I like the author’s tone in which she writes directly to the kids, how there are hands on experiments and ‘try this’ areas throughout the chapters, the biblical worldview and young earth creation focus throughout each text, and the depth that each book in the Exploring Creation series provides – not just lots of surface level ideas. 

We also utilize Apologia’s corresponding science journals, especially for our upper elementary aged kids, with great success. The upper level journals provide note taking spaces, copywork, vocabulary crosswords, and cut apart booklets or lapbook type sheets for each chapter – all of which help our kids to develop more focused attention and to solidify and review the science concepts being studied.

For a few of the books, I have found it beneficial to create a notebook just with our youngest learners in mind.  Please hop over to Hubbard’s Cupboard and take a peek!  They love having a notebook designed just for them that they can use to engage with the science concepts at their own level as their older siblings work in the Apologia journals.

   Apologia Young Explorer Science Series     

We have free printable notebooks and additional projects for the following science topics…

My Nature Notebook: From Seed to Plant  
My Nature Notebook: Birds, Bats, and Bugs  
My Ocean Creatures Notebook  
Animals in My World 
My Body: God’s Amazing Design

From Seed to PlantBirds Bats and BugsOcean CreaturesAnimals in My WorldMy Body: God's Amazing Design
















The notebooks can be used fully, in conjunction with the Apologia books (our first choice =) ), or pick and choose a few pages to print and use to support and enhance your own theme/science learning!

100 Days of American History

So, what do you do when you come to the realization that the homeschool history curriculum you purchased for your kids just isn’t working out the way you envisioned? Well, you create your own, of course! 

The scheduled readings in the purchased curriculum for my first and third grader seemed dry and uninteresting.  So, I sold the guide and the corresponding books, but decided to focus on the same time period of American history.  I chose to use picture books that have great illustrations, are packed full of information, and hold my sweet children’s attention.   Most importantly, my younger kids (and I) are enjoying learning about history again.  =)

100 Days of American History Cover

Would you like to take a 100 day adventure of American history with us? Travel through books from the time when Squanto was a boy and the time shortly before the Pilgrims arrived through the late 1800’s and the turn of the century!  100 Days of American History is free and contains a list of books recommended for use during the 100 days as well as coordinating notebook pages!  May you and your children enjoy this study as much as our family.

100 Days of American History Read Alouds
100 Days of American History Schedule and Notebook

Our 2016-2017 Curriculum

IMG_7591(2)Can this mama be honest?  This was the most difficult homeschool year to prepare for yet.  (Yes, I think I said that last year as well.)  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’)   100 Days of American History (with his 3rd grade sister)
    IMG_8505 (2)
  • AWANA:  2nd year Sparks
  • Bible and Worldview:  Morning Worship (hymns, Read & Draw Scripture, 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’)    100 Days of American History (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, Read & Draw Scripture, 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  The Bronze Bow)
  • 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, Read & Draw Scripture, 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, Morning Worship (hymns, Read & Draw Scripture, and Training Hearts,Training Minds) with the family, personal Bible study, Middle School Girls’ Bible Study
  • Music/Art:  Cello lessons, Piano lessons, Student Worship Choir, 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



      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


This post is part of the 8th annual “Not” Back-To-School Blog Hop over at the iHomeschool Network.  Check out what other homeschool families are choosing to use for their children this coming school year!

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! **



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