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

Uprooting and Replanting

Whenever you face a move, whether God is sending you 600 miles or 6,000 miles, there is a transition – an uprooting and replanting.  As part of our home church’s most recent missions conference, they referred to it as ‘Breaking Camp’ and ‘Advancing’ based off of the Scriptural references in Deuteronomy 1.

The LORD our God said to us at Horeb, “You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Break camp and advance into the hill country of the Amorites; go to all the neighboring peoples in the Arabah, in the mountains, in the western foothills, in the Negev and along the coast, to the land of the Canaanites and to Lebanon, as far as the great river, the Euphrates.  See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land that the LORD swore he would give to your fathers—to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—and to their descendants after them.”
(Deuteronomy 1:6-8)

Breaking Camp for our family came in March of 2013, but the steps God used to work in our hearts and minds, before that actual breaking and leaving, began several years before that.

Our family had valued missions. We already supported those who went and we often prayed that God would use our children one day to serve Him. However, as a true type A personality who likes to plan and know what’s coming next, I wasn’t expecting to hear a call for us to go. Between our pastor’s sermon series on the book of Matthew, my daily devotional, and even our kids’ homeschool curriculum, God was gradually pricking our hearts, and unbeknown to us, was preparing for us to be able to clearly see the need and to hear His call.

When it came, His call to me wasn’t a ‘go to such and such a people and spread the name of Jesus’, it was a ‘Will you follow me? Step out of your comfort zone, away from the trappings of this world and trust and follow me. Are you willing to give up your home? your comforts? your security in possessions?’

God was wanting to know if I was willing to obey and to come, follow Him.

And I knew that I wanted, and needed, to be in the center of His will.

Our family never envisioned that we would be able to assist with others receiving the Bible and hearing of Jesus in their own tongue, but once God showed us the need and how He could use the skills in software development He had given my husband, we knew we had to follow His lead. For we have the entirety of God’s Holy Word in our own language, but thousands of other language communities do not – not even a single verse. We knew that we had to take the next steps to ‘break camp’ and be willing to head wherever He wanted us to go – which, we later learned, was just to the east coast of our own country. =)

When we started pursuing Jesus on this journey into missions, we had three children
that  I was homeschooling in grades Kindergarten through fourth, as well as an energetic preschooler, and a precious little guy who was just learning to walk. I was in the throes of motherhood and the thought of all that had to be done to join a missionary organization and prepare to leave was overwhelming. We didn’t know how we could add hours of training and partnership building to what already felt like crazy, busy days. On top of that, my husband had to be away for a full summer of linguistics training to take courses that would prepare him to better serve in his new role with Wycliffe and provide background for his work in writing software for Bible translation.

kids with signIt was a challenging season, but God showed me two ways that we weren’t in this endeavor alone. First, He taught me how to distinguish between self reliance and strength in Christ. He reminded me that as I focus on Him and not on my own limitations or circumstances, God would supply the strength needed each day. For it is His strength that clothes my weaknesses. Christ’s presence and strength sustaining me created needed joy and a greater dependence upon Him! Secondly, He allowed us to see, first hand, the body of Christ work together as God sent friends and our small group family to come alongside us, allowing us to follow through with what God was telling us to do.

So, those were all the necessary preparations for us being able to ‘break camp’.  And, then, after seventeen years of calling our church ‘home’, it came time to say goodbye. Stepping away from the excellent preaching of the Word, leaving our close friends and our small group, pulling our kids away from their own good friends, and even trusting God with our aging parents whom we were concerned about spiritually and physically … that final step of parting and driving away … was hard. There were lots of tears – from all of our family members.

It is now three and a half years later. Between developing mobile apps for sharing God’s Word through smartphones, working out technical issues for language translators, recruiting and sharing a vision with other IT professionals, and communicating with other Bible organizations and IT missionaries, I can see God using my husband to spread the Gospel …and it brings joy.

For me though, as a homeschooling mom of five, advancing hasn’t come as quickly or successfully and it looks a bit different. It’s hard to admit, but, it took me three years to stop looking back, to stop comparing churches and situations, to quit feeling unsettled and searching for ways I could be more involved in the mission, and to finally hear Jesus whisper to my anxious heart – EMBRACE.

I guess that is the beginning of my own journey into the ‘Advance’ part. I haven’t completely figured out what ‘embrace’ looks like yet, but Psalm 37:4-5 has helped greatly.  It states,

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord. Trust in Him and He will act.”

Delight.  Commit.   Trust.

Embracing seems to encompass those three things!

Delighting in the Lord makes me want to dwell and focus on His attributes – His sovereignty, His goodness, His mercy, and love. Committing gives me a visual of leaning in and not holding back.  And trusting, well, it involves acknowledgement of His goodness and our dependence upon Him alone.

Delight Commit Trust

(free printable Scripture)

So, advancing for me right now is more about developing contentment as I try to delight, commit, and trust- embracing where God has placed our family, embracing the opportunities set before me to serve, encourage, and connect deeper in our new community, and embracing, with joy, the role and mission He has given me within our family – which never really changed –to lovingly support my husband in his role and to train, disciple, and equip the next generation.

As our Lord, Jesus has the authority to reveal the direction for our family and for our lives. He knows what is best, what is enough, and what our priorities should be. My responsibility is to obey Him and to keep following and trusting in Him.

A Day in My Life ~ as a 9th Grade Homeschooler

Taking Photos

This post is part of the 8th annual “Not” Back-To-School Blog Hop over at the iHomeschool Network.  This week is ‘Day in the Life’ Week in which homeschooled students share what their days are like!  Today, I’m letting my oldest daughter take over the blog so that you might be able to get a glimpse of her day to day life as a homeschooler.  Enjoy!


Well… I don’t think you are usually allowed to do cartwheels with your little sister in a typical school hall way,
or make special treats for snack.


Also, you are not normally in a class room family room with five different grade levels, all learning different things at the same time. Unless … Your home is your school, your mom is your teacher, your siblings are your classmates, and the world is your classroom!

This is my day as a ninth grade homeschooler.

We generally get up about 7 o’clock each morning. Once we’re up, we can work on school before breakfast, read our Bible, etc.  I found my 5th grade brother doing school this morning when I came out of my room. (This often occurs because he is an early riser.)

This is what happened though when I tried to take his picture. 😉

After breakfast, I go up to the school room to see what I have for school that day.IMG_0436 IMG_0439

This is my sheet that tells me what to do each day. As I get things done, I highlight them with a highlighter. To make it easier to see which day I did each subject, I use a different color for each day. (My curriculum this year is scheduled for four days each unit, but I can spread it out over five days or have one lighter day!)

My 7th grade sister is also taking pictures of her day today.

Now, it’s time to study!
IMG_0459 IMG_0469IMG_0470 IMG_0518IMG_8668

Ok. So, maybe it didn’t quite work out like that. If you have ever been homeschooled for any amount of time, you know studying doesn’t always go that smoothly. There are almost always distractions …

IMG_8657 like funny little brothers…

IMG_0524or beautiful butterflies….

or chores (Does that count as a distraction? Maybe not.)

or giving piano lessons…but we normally get back on track.


Also, did you think we just did book work? No way!

IMG_8535 IMG_6994

Above, I’m making clay stamps. In the picture to the right of that, we are all painting our clay turtles that we had sculpted on a previous day. In the photos below, I’m writing a song and playing violin. (I also play piano.)

IMG_8629 FullSizeRender

For recreation, I like to do gymnastics (Remember the cartwheels in the hall way?), dance about the house,  and ride bikes around our neighborhood when it’s not too terribly hot.

Additionally, our family gets together with other families from church to do our science labs and more art. Yay!

After I finish my school work, I enjoy reading a good book (Historical fiction is great!), sewing, playing music with my siblings, and writing stories.

So, that’s my day. It’s busy, but it is also fun! Sometimes people ask me how I like homeschooling, and, to tell you the truth, I love it!  I wouldn’t trade this style of learning for any other way. Thank you for pouring so much time and effort into my life, Mom!  I love you!

P.S:  The special treat that is shown towards the beginning of this post is called Chocolate Bread. It is a yummy, easy to make, snack that my siblings and I enjoy.

Chocolate Bread


– 1 slice of bread  – butter  – chocolate chips  – peanut butter chips (optional)


1. Spread butter onto your slice of bread.
2. Place your chocolate (and/ or peanut butter) chips onto your slice of bread.
3. Bake your bread in the oven until the chips melt. (As you saw, we used a toaster oven.)
4. Once your bread has been baked, spread your melted chips over the bread.
5. Eat your Chocolate Bread and enjoy!

Yes! Workboxes are Still Working for Us

Mostly.  =)

IMG_8704(Above:  Our first grader’s workbox and supplies on his desk)

Over the years, we have found that implementing the use of a modified workbox system has helped tremendously in keeping this busy family of five homeschooled kids on task and moving forward each day.  Our kids know what to expect.  It is easy to use and rewarding as they can clearly see the progress they are making throughout the day.  I have greatly enjoyed witnessing our children becoming increasingly independent and taking ownership of their schoolwork.  I attribute a large portion of their self-sufficiency to the use of the workbox system.

Our first, third, and fifth grade children still successfully use a plastic file box with hanging files (what we call our workboxes) for their Bible, math, and language arts.  However, once our older children hit 7th grade, the hanging files began to droop and break due to the increasing weight and width of their books!

So, what do our older children use?

Workboxes!  Just modified, once again…

IMG_7603 (2)(Above:  Rearranging and making room for the new ‘workbox’ drawers)

Since we no longer needed our drawers to house ABC and Math Learning Games for our younger kids, we decided to repurpose the drawer units for the older girls!

High School…

IMG_8514 (2)


and Middle School….

Things that are different…

  • There are labels for each subject attached to the drawers.
    (Printable Labels)
  • There are no longer removable tags to show when subjects are complete.  (They have a weekly sheet that shows them what needs to be done each day.  Also, we require them to write down assignments that they complete each day.)
  • The ‘workbox’ drawers take up more space and, obviously, can no longer sit on top of their desks.
  • They provide so much more room for their larger materials (books, binders, etc.)!

Things that are the same…

  • The drawers provide clearly divided sections to place materials for different subjects.
  • The organization system keeps things neat and tidy.
  • The drawers continue to support the goal of working towards greater self sufficiency.

So, yes!  Workboxes are still working for us.  =)   And…we’re doing what homeschoolers do best.. tweaking our learning materials and environment to meet the ever changing needs of our students!


Take a Peek at our past ‘School Room’ Posts…
Homeschooling With a ‘School Room’ – 2014
Homeschooling – Apartment Style – 2013
Home + School = Homeschool – 2009

This post is part of the 8th annual “Not” Back-To-School Blog Hop over at the iHomeschool Network.  Check out  the learning environments of other homeschool families!

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!

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