Living for His Glory

Living for His glory. That is the motto God put on my heart for homeschooling as well as for life. Everything under the sun, every breath we take, every event that occurs is for one purpose and one purpose only: to bring glory to God. We may never understand it until we get to Heaven and we are in the very presence of the infinite wisdom of God. And at that point, will we even care? We have all these questions that we want to ask God and we can’t wait to find out the answers when we get to Heaven, but really, when we are finally in His presence, I’m guessing all those questions will wash away. None of that will matter anymore. The cares and concerns of the world will be no more. I think to a certain extent, if we truly believe and know that everything is for God’s own glory, then that in itself as an answer to all of our questions is sufficient enough even in this life.

We constantly hear “everything happens for a reason.” We want to know the reason and how it applies to us and our well-being. One thing I’ve learned in my Christian walk is that God is sovereign over everything and the reason for everything is so that God would be glorified. I don’t need to know how it fits into my well-being. I was created for His glory, so His glory is my well-being. In my human nature, yes, I have cares and concerns, but ultimately I know that I was created for His glory and I trust Him with my very life.

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” ESV. This doesn’t mean that I will have every worldly thing I desire in life because I think that’s what’s good for me. It means that because I love God and I have been called according to His purpose, all things will work together for my good. What I think is good for me doesn’t dictate His will. His will dictates what is good for me. My sights are set on something out of this world. My thoughts are focused on eternity. And my heart is set on God in Heaven.

Are you living for His glory, wholly surrendered to Him? What does that mean to you?

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Our Curriculum Choices 2014-2015

This is only our second year of homeschooling, so while I don’t have a lot of experience in using tons of different curricula, I wanted to just share our picks for this school year and keep you all posted on how these work out for us. The beautiful thing about God and His creativeness is that He made us all different. He made our children different, every single one of them. He made us all the way we are so that He could use us for His purpose and His glory. So I would never want to knock one curriculum choice just because it didn’t work for MY individual child. I believe there is something out there for everyone. 

So this year, we are using Heart of Dakota’s Bigger Hearts for His Glory, which is meant for ages 7-9. My girls both turn 8 and 9 this year, so this was a good fit for us. I have a friend who used HOD last year, but a different grade level. I was able to take a look at everything HOD entailed and I was really impressed. The big bonus for me with this is that I can teach them together on all subjects with the exception of spelling, math, and language arts because they are at different levels in those areas.

HOD is one of those all-in-one plans that covers all subjects, but I kind of get the feeling that if you go with one of those all-in-one plans, chances are there will always be at least one thing that isn’t a good fit for your kids. We are using about half of the HOD plan, and then I had other choices for the rest of our subjects. I’ll go over those next.

But first, below are a couple of pictures of the Teacher’s Guide for Heart of Dakota. Once you open it up, you’ll see two pages for each day. The units are 5 days of instruction, with 34 units in all. So it’s one unit per week. On the two pages you’ll see one box for each subject/section to be completed each day. The boxes include History, Poetry, Bible Study, Music (Hymns), Language Arts, Reading, Storytime (read-alouds), Math, and Science.  Those are everyday assignments. There is one more box for Geography, Art, Vocabulary, History Activity, and Timeline; however, those are only done once per week so they alternate. Since this is a Charlotte Mason type of curriculum, the boxes are meant to take about 15 minutes each, making it easy to just open and go, and to complete a box or two at a time throughout the day. Very easy to use. With my schedule (having a 1-year-old whose naps we try to work around), it works best for us to knock out as much as we can in a couple of sittings before and after lunch.

One of the small details I love about HOD is it has us studying hymns. There is one hymn to study every 4 weeks. This is one of the girls’ favorite parts of the day. 🙂

If you’re wondering what books HOD uses for History lessons, see below. 

“A First Book in American History” by Edward Eggleston

“Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans” by Edward Eggleston

HOD also comes with several read-alouds which I read to the kids. Right now we are reading the biography of Phillis Wheatley and we are all really enjoying it.

Now, here are the areas where I chose to stray from Heart of Dakota… 

I knew that I wanted a very strong science program this year because my girls love science! The science in HOD looks great, but it was very similar to what we did last year, which wasn’t as strong for my girls as we would have liked.

So this year we are using Apologia’s Zoology 2 “Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day.” Today was only our third day of reading this book, and already we have learned so much! It’s a great choice because it is very informative and doesn’t dumb things down for the kids. It’s not too hard for them to understand, yet it’s not so easy that they’re bored to tears.

I opted to go with their Notebooking Journals, but I wish I had known beforehand that when you purchase the actual book, it comes with a password giving you access to their website where you can find free journal printables. The free printables aren’t as in depth or detailed as the notebooking journal, but at $FREE, they would have done the job! We are also doing a detailed lapbook with this, so that would have been sufficient, couopled with the free basic notebooking printables. At any rate, the girls are really enjoying the journals, so it was still money well spent.

We are using Sequential Spelling this year. Last year, we tried Spelling by Sound and Structure, and Spelling Power. Neither of them were good fits for my girls, so we are hopeful that Sequential Spelling will be a good fit for both of their learning styles. I have one naturally strong speller and one who struggles greatly with spelling. It seems like this program could be suitable for different learning styles, because you get audio and visual reinforcement. I opted for the CD-Rom, which I love. The girls know how to load their CD into the computer and find the specific lesson they are on that day. They click on the folder for “Day 1” or whatever day they are on, and a video pops up where their spelling words are dictated to them. They can pause the video while they write down the word and then resume when they are ready to move on. When they resume the video, the correct spelling is spoken to them and they correct any mistakes on the spot. When they are done with their spelling list, I review their work and then they take their stuff back to their seat where they complete the backside of the worksheet, which has some type of spelling activity they can do independently. 

Another reason I love this program so far is that the words build on each other, so it makes the spelling list relevant and (hopefully) easier to catch on, as opposed to having a list of 10-20 random words to spell.  Here is an example of a list where you can see how the words build on each other: 

at 

bat 

rat 

brat

You get the idea.

HOD has an optional reading program called Drawn Into the Heart of Reading. In my research, it seems like not a lot of HOD users go for this, but we are using it this year because while the kids did do a lot of free reading last year, there was no direction and no digging deep into what they were reading. So I really wanted a strong reading program like this. There is a unit for each different genre, including Biography, Adventure, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery, Folk Tales, Nonfiction, and Humor. The kids each have their own set of books for the year, fulfilling each genre. There are 4 weeks of reading and assignments per genre, and they will be reading 1-3 books per genre, depending on the length of the books. There is daily teacher instruction involved with this, but it only takes a few minutes and then the kids are free to do their assigned reading and occasional worksheets for the program. The worksheets are to be done on various days throughout the week, so there will be 1-3 worksheets per week…it varies.

Next is Bible Study. We are completing the Bible Study assignment with HOD every day. I like it because it is focusing on godly character traits. But since it only takes a few quick minutes to get through that, I wanted to add another strong curriculum for Bible Study, since it is absolutely the most important part of the day. I often tell myself that if all I’ve accomplished for the day is pointing my children Christ and teaching them from the Word, then I’ve done enough. Seriously, some days as homeschoolers, that’s all we’ll be able to get to. We always make sure this is the first thing that gets done in our school days, so if something goes awry with our day and we’re not able to finish everything on our plate that day, we’ll still be sure to get this part of it done first thing.

We started Apologia’s “What We Believe” series with “Who is God?” We are about two weeks into this, since we started this before our school year started. We are enjoying it so far, but it’s too early to tell if it’s something we’ll want to stick with throughout the series. Stay tuned on that.

Lastly, we are using Christian Light Publications (commonly called CLE) for Language Arts and Math. My girls are in 3rd and 4th grade, but we took things super slow in these subjects last year, so they are working at a lower level than you would probably expect this year, and that’s okay. One of the beauties of homeschooling is there is no pressure to put standards on your kids. You let them learn at their own pace, while still making sure they are being challenged at a reasonable level. 

We enjoy these so far. It’s a workbook style curriculum, and if your kids are just crazy about workbooks, you can actually get a full workbook curriculum through CLE. My girls are able to work independently on their CLE workbooks for the most part. They do have to ask questions occasionally, which is fine. The work seems to be going at a reasonable pace and the instructions are self-explanatory enough that the girls are doing well with them so far.

So I believe that’s it for our 2013-2014 curriculum choices. I am currently looking for free cursive handwriting printables, so if you know of anything, please share! And if I find anything worth sharing, I will be sure to do that.  

If you have any questions, feel free to comment and I will get back to you. Thanks for reading! 

 

sdg

Our Homeschool Room

Hello all, and thank you for checking out my blog about our homeschool room. Let me start by saying that I have an Instagram account (@livingsolideogloria) where I enjoy posting regularly. I have shared many pictures of our homeschool life and just life in general, and I’ve had a lot of people ask me if I am going to start blogging. Blogging/journaling is something I used to love doing, but I haven’t blogged in the longest time, so it’s very different from how I remember it. So please bear with me while I learn the ropes.

Now, on to the purpose of this post: Our homeschool room! We just started homeschooling last year, so we just kicked off our second year this week. Over the summer, I had been reorganizing and rearranging our school room. It previously served as a school room/craft room/office, so stuff was everywhere. I moved my craft table out and organized my craft clutter, so now the room is dedicated to homeschooling, for the most part.

While rearranging the room, I had done a little research because I knew it was time for a good desk setup where the girls and I could enjoy working together. I came across the popular posts from Confessions of a Homeschooler and I really liked the table/drawer unit setup she had put together from IKEA. So I sold a bunch of stuff I had sitting in the garage and quickly raised up the money to purchase our own setup. So here it is! Please excuse the poor lighting. These pictures were taken at the crack of dawn. 🙂

I will try to go over the breakdown of what’s in the room. 

Below is our wall space and our new desk setup. 

The desk top is made with two LINNMON table tops from IKEA. These measure 2.5’x 5′ each, so when they are put together, it makes a 5 x 5 ft. table top. 

Instead of regular table legs, the table tops are sitting on four IKEA Alex drawer units. 

If you’ve read the many other blogs from other homeschoolers who use the same or similar setup, then you already know that there will be some kinks that need to be worked out in order to make this setup work. The problem is that the setup doesn’t come with hardware to secure everything in place. So the table tops slide apart, as well as sliding out of place easily, especially with kids leaning over them to reach supplies or just plain being fidgety! After reading up on how other moms dealt with this, I opted for the easiest solution, also from Confessions of a Homeschooler. She used a 4×4 sheet of pegboard to hold up the table tops, and then a rug gripper on top of the pegboard to help the table tops stay in place. This worked wonderfully! 

I got an 8×4 ft sheet of pegboard from Home Depot and had them cut it in half so I have two 4×4 ft pieces. I plan to hang the other sheet on the wall as an art display for the kids’ beautiful art work. I think I have just enough wall space by my desk. 

 Below, you can see that I taped the rug gripper to the pegboard just to be sure that it stayed in place. Probably not necessary, but I’m weird like that.

Now for the rest of the room… Our wall space is limited, and you’ll see why in the next couple of pictures.  Our school room is only 10 x 12 ft, so I was a little worried about how everything would fit, but it works. This is our one main wall for displaying maps and whatever else.  Right now there’s not much displayed except for a map of the U.S. and a world map, and then some crafty things I made myself. Eventually, I would like to get some smaller maps and display more helpful stuff for the girls. We also have an alphabet along the top of the wall. The girls don’t need that, but eventually my 1-year-old will, if I am still homeschooling by then, Lord-willing! You see the baby’s toy bin in the corner there. That keeps her occupied somewhat while we do school…not really, but it’s the thought that counts.

Next, there’s the teacher’s desk. I have my personal laptop where I can see out the window while I work on household business or just stare at a blank screen after a long day. I have an L-shaped desk, so when I am facing my laptop, I have another monitor to my right. That monitor screen is facing our group desk so that I can display relevant videos or pictures for the kids if we ever want to look anything up, which we do often. I highly recommend dual screens if you can do that. My husband just happened to have an extra monitor lying around, so he set it up for us. 

To the right of my desk, you see our small, yet cozy reading nook. I picked up this comfy chair at WalMart for $25 and the girls just love snuggling up on there with a good book. Just how I imagined it!

Below are two pictures of the same spot in the room, so we have two tall 5-shelf bookcases to the right of the reading nook and then one small 3-shelf bookcase over to the left, which is by my desk. The tall bookcases were only around $30 each at WalMart. They’re not the best quality, but they do the job on a budget. 

Don’t get overwhelmed by all the bins you see here. I’ve had friends tell me they feel like their school room is missing something because it looks like we are just stocked to the ceiling with school supplies, literally. Keep in mind this used to be my craft room before we started homeschooling. So about half of those bins are actually filled with my craft supplies 🙂 

We also house our quite small, but growing, library on those shelves.

Our school room is adjacent to the kitchen, which is nice. So here is the view walking in from the kitchen. I made a paper bunting just to add some fun color to the room. Nothing but a few coordinating pieces of scrapbook paper, a few hole punches, and some pretty ribbon. Super easy. 

I also made the chalkboard sign at the very top that says “Living for His glory.” That is the motto for our homeschool, but it is also the motto for our lives. Soli deo gloria — to the glory of God alone.

Now I’ll share a few small details about the room.  

The drawer units come with 5 drawers. They are filled with the girls’ school books by subject, so they can quickly get the items they need. It’s only Day 2 of putting this setup to use, and they’ve already memorized the contents of each drawer. The top drawer is filled with their school supplies: crayons, markers, pencils, pens, glue sticks, erasers, etc. I got these awesome drawer organizers from the Dollar Tree (one of my favorite stores). They come in stacks of 3 small square ones or 2 long rectangle ones.

I love these magazine holders. They are perfect for organizing books, workbooks, papers, whatever you can come up with. I use them to organize the girls’ reading books for the year so they each have their own set of books. On the second shelf, I have their CLE workbooks organized by level and subject. And on the tall bookshelves, I also have some organized there with construction paper, file folders, notebooks, journals, and teacher’s manuals. These are great, and I got a set of 10 from Amazon for about $10, give or take a little. They’re cardboard, but they do the job. 

Below is our homemade 4×2 ft. chalkboard. I got this piece of MDF board from Home Depot for under $4 and covered it with chalkboard paint that I already had on hand. It’s not as easy to work with as a dry-erase board, but chalkboards are fun. 

Here’s another chalkboard sign that I made. This is a Verse of the Week chalkboard that hangs up on the wall between our maps.

And last but not least, here’s a picture of one of my girls putting our reading chair to use!

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 If you made it this far, thank you for reading! I will end by saying that none of this is absolutely necessary in order to homeschool your children. If the Lord calls you to homeschool, He will equip you with everything you need to carry out His will, even if it’s just some books, paper, pencils, and a couch. We are very grateful for our homeschool room, but know we would be just fine without it. I believe that learning takes place everywhere in life, and that is something I am trying to be better at — having the mindset of “lifeschooling,” not just homeschooling. 

Feel free to comment with questions and I will do my best to get back to you!