Third or Fourth Grade Homeschooling – Preparing Hearts for His Glory

From Our House to Yours

Third or Fourth Grade Homeschooling with Heart of Dakota- Preparing Hearts for His Glory

With Heart of Dakota, there are flexible age ranges because, as we all know, not all kiddos at one age are the same. Preparing Hearts…, which will be the focus of this blog post, has a target age range of 8-10 (third or fourth grade), with extensions for ages 11-12 (fifth to sixth grade). It has complete plans for all necessary subject areas but customizable plans in reading, spelling, grammar, and math.  It is Christ-centered and full of Charlotte Mason style unforgettable living books. I’ve ‘met’ Preparing Hearts… myself 3 times with my 3 sons, so I’m pretty confident in saying, I think you will love her!

Preparing… says let’s give our children the backdrop. Let’s give them the timeline of history running from start to finish. Then, we will know they are well prepared for the ‘hooks’ of each of the 4 time periods to come in Hearts for Him Through Time.  Let’s also get them prepared for middle school work, by having them gradually take on some necessary independence. But, hold on to your hat! Let’s still recognize they are not all that grown-up, and let’s still plan for some needed time together. So, you can see Bigger Hearts… laid the foundation, but how does Preparing Hearts… answer back?

Preparing Hearts says, “Let’s grow up a little, but not too fast!”

Little brother Bigger Hearts… planned for a big teaching year.  He didn’t let anything slide because he knew how important it would be to prepare for Preparing.  He took a little time, depending on you as the parent to work side by side your child to lay that foundation well.  But, this is when you thank him, because here comes Preparing to prove your time in Bigger was well spent. Bigger… bows and happily hands the reins over to Preparing Hearts. Bowing back, Preparing Hearts… tips her hat to Bigger Hearts…, and says, “Thank you kindly, Bigger. I’ll take it from here! Now let’s just see what we can do!”

Introducing Some Notable and Exciting Changes in Preparing Hearts

You know how you worked alongside your children for most of Bigger Hearts? Well, Preparing Hearts will change that and in a way that is in no way confusing.  Little letters begin to show up in each box of your teacher guide’s plans. “T” for teacher-directed, “S” for semi-independent, and “I” for independent.  Why?  Because there is less confusion about who does what.

Charlotte Mason said when children reach the age of 9, they should begin reading their own books for all school subjects. Preparing recognizes this, but eases children into it by only assigning a manageable amount of reading each day.  A part of history with just a few directions to follow, all of science, and all of reading become the student’s reading responsibility for the day.

These readings and directions are short, and they are on the student’s appropriate reading level, so they can feel success with this newfound independence.  The Self-Study History Package for the Newly Independent Reader, the Science Package, and a choice of either the Level 2 or Level 3 or Level 4/5 Boy/Girl Drawn into the Heart of Reading book packages comprise their reading for the year. But, what else is a notable change, you may ask?

Well, say ‘goodbye’ to 5 days of school each week, and say ‘hello’ to 4!

Bigger Hearts was laying the foundation, so 5 days a week was important.  But, Preparing Hearts takes 5 days of work and converts them to 4 days a week, so your child (and you) can have a day off to explore other interests (or to just do the laundry).  Hmm, we like that, right?  But, what else?

Well, say ‘goodbye’ to 1 day history activities, and say ‘hello’ to 3 day history projects!

History activities in Bigger Hearts were 1 day responses to the history readings.  In contrast, Preparing Hearts recognizes students need to learn to follow directions to complete multi-step projects from start to finish. (Project-based assessment is the spine of much of high school and college.)  Before you as a possible project-phobic parent want to throw in the towel, know that Preparing’s projects are never fluff.  They are connected to the history reading, and they are often the basis for multi-media history-based research.

Small increments of 15 minute segments are planned on Days 1-3 for students to step-by-step complete history projects directly related to their history. Every week is a different project, and every week they are done in 3 days. So no projects left out for weeks on end on your kitchen table, and no strange materials either.  An average kitchen and an average amount of typical art supplies are all you need.  But now you may be asking, if the history project is on Days 1-3 of the plans, what fills its place on Day 4? Written narrations – that’s what!

Say ‘hello’ to written narrations, but don’t say ‘goodbye’ to oral narrations – just take them up a notch!

Oral narrations were modeled and practiced previously, and children continue to hone those skills in Preparing.  Orally narrating on the read-aloud Storytime book was practiced in Bigger and is continued in Preparing.  Narrating on the Reading about History read-aloud is a new skill. Oral narrations are taken up a notch even further as children orally narrate on history readings they have read by themselves independently.  Likewise, children orally narrate on a totally new subject they also read by themselves independently – and that is science.

Finally, written narrations are introduced one day each week in response to the history read-aloud. But, as always, this skill is taught in a guided incremental way, so children can get off to a good start with it.  Plans let kiddos write narrations on smaller segments of the history read-aloud, with guided questions according to Bloom’s Taxonomyto get them started.  Simple step-by-step editing tips in the Appendix help make this transition even easier. Kiddos get off to a good start in written narrations, so they are sure to do well!

So, what else is added to Preparing Hearts, you may ask?

Well, creative writing lessons are added to Preparing Hearts in response to the classical poetry.  Likewise, the poetry study becomes more in-depth, focusing on the work of one poet, Robert Louis Stevenson (very Charlotte Mason-like).

The Poetry Study includes the following skills each week:
  • First Day: questions and discussion related to the meaning of the poem
  • Second Day: creative writing lesson based upon the poem’s style, content, pattern, or poetic devices
  • Third Day: personal connections with the poet and the poem
  • Fourth Day: suggested ways to share the poem with another person
  • *Each 12 week term: memorization of a previously studied Robert Louis Stevenson poem of the student’s choice
Other Noteworthy Changes

Other noteworthy changes to Preparing Hearts include the addition of history-based research using an encyclopedia.  This includes a specific topic to be researched, as well specific questions to be answered orally.  Geography quick-finds are included, and though they are matched nicely to the history, they are also matched nicely to typical state standards.  Comprehension questions must be answered each week for science, five questions to be exact, and they include the page number to locate the answer, as this is a new skill.

The Bible Study ‘grows up!’

Two days of Bible Study are led by the parent, but two days are practice for an independent Bible Quiet Time. Charlotte Mason’s Common Place Book is introduced. Instead of one Scripture verse being memorized, passages are being memorized, and further reflection and personal application are added, as well as the ACTS model of prayer. This is training for next year, when students will have daily Bible Quiet Time and parents will have Bible Study that is more in-depth.

But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, let’s first check out the Bible layout of Preparing:
  • First Day : Discuss a portion of a Psalm using heartfelt questions that encourage students to read and reflect upon God’s word.
  • Second Day: Identify the mood and purpose of the Psalm, and pray about the Psalm.
  • Third Day: Have a personal quiet time filled with prayer and praise based on a portion of a Psalm.
  • Fourth Day: Copy the Scripture memory selection in a Common Place Book (Note: See the description of a Common Place Book in the “Bible Study” box of the plans for Day 4 in each unit.)

Everything else from Bigger just grows up a little more in Preparing

The 1-3 vocabulary cards in Bigger become 3-5 vocabulary cards in Preparing. Biblical connections  are just part of more and more in the plans. There are more timeline entries, longer readings, more mature topics, and longer dictation passages. Children do more diagramming and complete writing assignments in English, and they practice both cursive and print throughout the year.

Drawn into the Heart of Reading covers more difficult story elements, Godly character qualities, projects, and comprehension questions. Draw and Write Through History adds step-by-step drawing assignments. History and science notebooking assignments become more involved, as do science experiments.

In Closing…

Preparing has some of our favorite all-time books.  Grandpa’s Box partnered with Child’s History of the World – amazing!  I dare you not to cry when you finish the last reading of Grandpa’s Box. It made me long for my Dad’s storytelling and want to learn how to whittle (don’t ask about the whittling… you’ll understand once you read it).  It also made my kiddos see how God’s plans truly are best, even when we don’t fully understand them.

Last, it made me see how my role as a homeschool teacher and mom was changing.  I would not forever only read aloud, but instead I’d embrace new and exciting things my kiddos needed.  And though I thought I might not like that, I did.  In fact, I loved it, because I got to know my children better and better – their ideas, their hearts, and their dreams.  I hope you enjoy it too!

In Christ,


P.S.  You can check out our placement chart to see if Preparing Hearts… is a fit for your kiddos! If your child places better in Bigger Hearts…, check out this blog post by clicking here!

P.S.S. Click on each link below for Preparing Hearts...
P.S.S.S. New to HOD?  Check out our top ten questions!

Use coupon code LB-BHB for 10% off the Deluxe Package – Boy Interest in Bigger Hearts for His Glory!

Library Builder

Use coupon code LB-BHB for 10% on this month’s Library Builder book set: The Deluxe Package – Boy Interest in Bigger Hearts for His Glory!

We are excited to continue our  Heart of Dakota Library Builder book set promotion! On the 1st Wednesday of each month we will be promoting one of our book sets with a 10% coupon code. For this month’s special use coupon code LB-BHB on our website for the entire month of August to apply the savings to your order. The coupon applies to the Bigger Hearts for His Glory deluxe package – Boy Interest set of books.   To view all of the books in this set, just click here!

This set of books contains nine read-aloud titles, one for each genre of literature that is scheduled in the storytime part of the plans in  Bigger Hearts for His Glory. Each book is used for 20 days of the plans.

How is the Storytime part of the plans in Bigger Hearts for His Glory used throughout the year?

(From the Introduction of Bigger Hearts for His Glory):

Daily storytime sessions are based on literature that is read aloud from the following nine genres: Biography, Adventure, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery, Nonfiction, Humor, Realistic Fiction, and Folk Tale. Each type of literature is read aloud for 20 days, except for Folk Tale which is read aloud for 10 days.

The instructions and activities are written to be used with any literature. This flexibility allows you to use your own discretion in selecting literature to read aloud to your students. The structure also allows you to select the pace at which you’ll complete your read aloud selection.

Each 5 day unit in the guide includes the following reading activities in coordination with the read-aloud assignments:
*1st Day: introduce and study different types of literature
*2nd Day: model narration to foster comprehension
*3rd Day: identify and analyze a different story element for each genre
*4th Day: relate personally to one Godly character trait, compare Biblical and book characters, and make a bookmark as a reminder of the trait
*5th Day: practice narration by retelling the story in a variety of ways

Use coupon code LB-BHB to save!

To apply this month’s savings, just enter coupon code LB-BHB on our website when you check out! We hope these books will be as treasured to you as they are to us!

Have a great rest of the week!
Heart of Dakota

Does Heart of Dakota follow Charlotte Mason’s approach to learning?

Dear Carrie

Does Heart of Dakota follow Charlotte Mason’s approach to learning?

I have been researching Charlotte Mason’s approach to learning and find it intriguing. I have also been researching Heart of Dakota, and I love what I see!  So, my question is, do these programs follow a “Charlotte Mason” approach to learning? Thanks in advance for answering!


“Ms. Mason Meets Heart of Dakota”

Dear “Ms. Mason Meets Heart of Dakota,”

We love the Charlotte Mason philosophy of learning at our house. I’ve read so much about her philosophy and how to implement it. We followed CM principles almost completely with my oldest son. I do follow CM ideas as much as I can in the guides I’ve written as well.

Charlotte Mason-style curricula should include narration, copywork, dictation, short lessons, poetry, living books, and recitation.

Many claim to be Charlotte Mason-style curricula. But, they leave out her staples of oral and written narrations, copywork, dictation, short lessons, poetry, recitation/memory work and slow reading of excellent, living books. Without these things, there is almost no connection to the CM philosophy. You will find all of these things in our guides.

Living books are different than encyclopedia-like books, and Charlotte Mason intended the pace of reading living books to be slow.

The sheer volume and type of books consumed in most curricula strays far from Charlotte Mason’s philosophy. She believed in fewer, living books read slowly over time. She also believed only living books can be successfully narrated upon. This is because if you ask a child to narrate from an encyclopedia-type book such as many Usborne books with little to no storyline, the children will not be able to narrate well. All those little boxes and snippets of information in that style of book do not lend themselves to being retold easily, nor are they easily remembered. Those books are meant to be reference materials or browsing books. They are not stories to be read from cover to cover. We choose our history books so carefully, so we can make sure CM principles can actually be used with them. The same goes for our science books and read-aloud literature.

Heart of Dakota is not purely Charlotte Mason, but if you love Charlotte Mason, you will find much of her ideals in our guides!

Since we differ from Charlotte Mason in a few areas, we do not call ourselves a purely Charlotte Mason company. But, if you love the CM philosophy, you will find much in our programs that supports that style of learning. We even added her ideals of a Common Place Book, Book of Centuries, hymn study, nature study, classical music study, poetry study, picture study, and more to our guides through the years! So you will find much of Charlotte Mason alive and well in our guides!

The main area we differ from Charlotte Mason is when to introduce formal grammar instruction, so I’ll spend the most time explaining that.

The main area that we differ with CM is in the introduction of formal grammar instruction. We do delay it until Bigger Hearts, when we begin to schedule Rod and Staff English. Charlotte Mason did not advocate starting formal grammar instruction until age 10 or even later. She felt all grammar could be absorbed in a single year with review after that.

Formal instruction in grammar gives a way to communicate about how to improve writing.

Initially, I really wanted to go the Charlotte Mason route for delayed formal grammar. But, I found this left me without a way to communicate to my sons about how to improve their writing. For example, if I’d say, “You don’t have a complete sentence here, because you’re missing the subject,” they’d look at me without any comprehension. I couldn’t explain how to add more detail by using adjectives or adverbs or explain why something was a run-on sentence that needed punctuating.

Likewise, when we ask for written answers, it helps if our kiddos can compose their sentences in a way that makes sense (with parallel usage). When asking kiddos to fix sentences that aren’t grammatically correct, it helps if the kiddos know their basic parts of speech.  For all these reasons, I finally settled on the fact that for my family, I wanted grammar to be taught for the purpose of learning to write better.

Rod and Staff English provided a way to teach grammar for the purpose of improving writing.

When we discovered Rod and Staff English, it was as if a lightbulb finally went on with my oldest son. He finally understood why we were learning grammar. I loved the straight-forward, clear explanations. For me the Godly tone of the books was a huge added benefit. It gave an entirely different feel to our grammar lessons.

While I can see that Rod and Staff is not flashy and some kiddos may miss the “bells and whistles” of other grammar programs, since we’d already tried the bells and whistles with other programs, we found that instead we really needed the no-nonsense lessons that systematically built one upon the other. I also found I loved the no prep, open and go, short lessons with built-in review. One barrier we found to Rod and Staff was the amount of practice and writing (if you follow their plans). We modify this by doing much of each lesson orally and only writing one of the sets of exercises on paper.

One final reason I decided not to delay grammar was due to the upped requirements in state standardized assessments.

As many states require writing assessments, we found it necessary to do an earlier introduction to formal grammar. Also, for the mechanics and usage portion of standardized tests (Iowa Basics or SAT’s) kiddos need to understand the use of commas, end punctuation, and capitalization. So, even though it makes sense to delay formal grammar instruction, we are forced by the state to show progress in these areas by the way we report to them.

Another way we differ from Charlotte Mason is we add more hands-on activities to our guides.

We also add more hands-on activities than Charlotte Mason advocated, although she did do some. We do this for the very active boys in our household who thrive on getting up and moving.  Hands-on activities also give one more way to connect to learning in a bodily-kinesthetic way, as opposed to connection to learning  in a solely seatwork-type way.

Additionally, we like adding some elements of a unit study when connections make sense, as this often improves retention.

We also like some elements of a unit study and enjoy making connections among subjects as we can. The left Learning Through History side of the plans incorporates a unit study feel as much as possible. CM didn’t do much of this and was a strong believer in the children making their own connections (which we also agree with).

So, you can see many similarities and a few differences. But, Charlotte Mason is my favorite educator, and we hope you can see much of her in Heart of Dakota.



P.S. For 3 simple things that help oral narrations and 3 that don’t, click here!

P.S.S. For 3 ways to study for dictation passages, click here!

Second or Third Grade with Heart of Dakota – Bigger Hearts for His Glory

From Our House to Yours

Second or Third Grade with Heart of Dakota – Bigger Hearts for His Glory

With Heart of Dakota, you can place your children exactly where they will thrive!  Target age ranges are small enough to be specific to necessary skills and standards that should be met, but large enough that combining is feasible. Bigger Hearts for His Glory has a target age range of 7 to 9 years old, with independent extensions in science and history for 10 to 11 year olds. It has complete plans for all necessary subject areas.  Likewise, it has multiple levels of reading, handwriting, grammar, math, and spelling.  It even has a choice of read-alouds, which I have loved!  Having taught Bigger Hearts…, three times, I’ve enjoyed different read-alouds (for me) each year! Not to mention, Carrie just finished working with our graphics designer to put together full-color, preprinted, 3-hole punched history notebooking pages and a timeline! What a wonderful time this is to start Bigger Hearts…!

Bigger Hearts… is a big deal! 

I look at this as a very important year for me as a homeschool teacher. The skills we are working on together will soon be skills my kiddos will need to do solo next year. I want them to be successful with their next year newfound independence in Preparing Hearts…So, when I have a child in Bigger Hearts…, that child is usually my focus. I look at this as my opportunity to train them for success.

This is where the rubber meets the road.  If I drop the ball in Bigger Hearts…, my kiddos might be missing skills that are tough to recover later.  So, nothing on my watch, and I mean nothing, gets skipped in Bigger Hearts. Why, you may ask?  Well, Bigger Hearts… is the bridge between Beyond… (where children are little and needing mom by their side practically 24/7) to Preparing Hearts… (where kiddos are taking on a fair share of independence).  Drop the ball in Bigger Hearts…, and you will know it when you get to Preparing Hearts. So, what’s the big deal about Bigger…, you ask?

Well, Bigger Hearts… ramps up the writing!

Daily cursive.  Daily R & S English 2 or 3 (though we do suggest doing much orally, choosing one small section to write).  History notebooking with writing.  Science notebooking with writing.  Daily copywork.  Upper level spelling or dictation.  Vocabulary cards – fairly involved.  Possibly Drawn into the Heart of Reading Student Workbook (or a hiatus from that writing, if your kiddo is in the Emerging Reader’s Set).

This is where you will feel the burn if your kiddos talked you out of doing the daily copywork of the poem in Beyond Little Hearts… , or if they didn’t do the 3 sentences for spelling each week.  Their writing will be way too big in size. Those little hand muscles will quiver and shake, and they will want to throw in the towel in Bigger…! Don’t give in!  Work up to it.  Or, they will never do Preparing…, and if they can’t do Preparing…, there is no way they can do Creation to Christ, and if they can’t do Creation to Christ…, well, you get the picture.

So, as they try to convince you they ‘just can’t write,’ encourage them that they can, or they will forever be playing ‘catch-up,’ and you will forever be writing for them, which doesn’t equip them to be able to share their thoughts and opinions in written form (which is what we want).

Bigger Hearts… prepares students for successful independent work!

What we teach in Bigger… becomes either semi-independent or independent in Preparing Hearts. Step-by-step history and science notebooking assignments that are teacher-directed in Bigger… become more independent in Preparing Hearts. Science experiments you led in Bigger… become student-led in Preparing.  One to three vocabulary cards in Bigger… becomes three to five vocabulary cards in Preparing. Poetry study becomes a creative writing  lesson in Preparing. Bible study becomes a half parent-led and half student-led Bible quiet time in Preparing.  Hands-on math activities are dropped in 3A/3B, and mental math must be applied.

The modeling of oral narration is all done in Preparing, and the guiding of written narrations begins.  The double-dipping of genre studies and story elements in Bigger… is finished, and now kiddos must embrace formal literature study in Drawn into the Heart of Reading.  In short, this is where you will feel the pain of skipping skills in Bigger…, tweaking written work to oral, or putting a child too young to do the work with an older sibling. This is where you will come to the realization that if kiddos couldn’t do Bigger…,  they 100% won’t be able to do Preparing, which is why I make the point, Bigger… is a big deal!

Bigger Hearts… introduces kiddos to Charlotte Mason style skills!

We love Charlotte Mason!  Carrie has chosen awesome living books, so check that off the list…  done.  Likewise, she has also assumed you are not familiar with orally narrating yourself as a form of assessment (alas, would we not have loved that in our own school background?!?).  But, tis most likely not so. So, in Bigger…, Carrie has specific plans one day every week within all 9 genres of Storytime based read alouds where you as a parent successfully model oral narration skills. She also has practice planned with orally narrating in response to living book science readings.  After Bigger…, this modeling of orally narrating is all done. So, don’t take it lightly.

Bigger Hearts… amps up the science with daily living books readings and follow-up assignments!

Daily science with a rotation of follow-up skills that are sure to draw in the science/math minded student, as well as the more language arts minded students.  Living books.  Authors passionate about their one science topic as opposed to science textbooks.  Whoever asked who wrote a science textbook like, “I just have to read the next book written by that person?”  No one!  But living books.  They’re different.  Authors care intensely about their topic, and you can tell.

Plus, science is meant to be a hands-on subject.  Not hands-on for the parent, but for the student.  So, twice a week experiments are written for the student to be able to conduct them, not you as the parent.  You’ve had science. This is for the kids now.  What the body does the mind remembers, so kiddos need to do the experiments, not the parents.  Check out this all-star line-up of follow-ups to living science book readings…

  • Practice narration by retelling the science story
  • Create a science notebook entry
  • Conduct an experiment related to the reading and log it in a science notebook
  • Practice narration by retelling the science story
  • Conduct an experiment related to the reading and orally discuss it
Bigger Hearts… is for more mature kiddos, ready for more!
In contrast to the poetry study in Beyond… , Bigger’s poetry study includes more in-depth classical poetry.  You’ll introduce unfamiliar vocabulary. You’ll have questions and discussions relating to the meaning of the poem. Your kiddos will practice proper choral reading.  They will learn specific poetic devices.  Likewise, Bible study will include the study of Godly character qualities, personal application of those qualities, devotional connections, an in-depth hymn study, and longer Scripture memory work.
Furthermore, art projects have multiple steps.  Geography gets more in-depth.  Timeline entries increase in number.  Bigger Hearts… says ‘grow up’ to kiddos, because independence is coming!  Often times, we as homeschool moms breathe a sigh of relief.  For we many times have a little one needing to learn to read and write, and maybe even another little babe needing us through the night.  Even if we don’t have another little one, we sense the times changing.  Our little one must take steps toward independence, or the future looks less bright.
Finally, Bigger Hearts… brings on the books!

You will see more books in Bigger Hearts.  Furthermore, you will see longer books in Bigger Hearts.  Get ready to cuddle up on the couch to read! Prepare to squelch the desire to sneak off yourself and read ahead to see what happens next in the book you are reading!  Know you will be inspired.  This may be the first time you have the thought you LOVE history yourself!  Yes.  The books are THAT good.  Find yourself taking joy in American heroes.  You’ll probably retell the stories yourself!

For all of these amazing things your kiddos are learning, don’t stress about the time it will take to do!  Just 3 to 3 1/2 hours each day. Easy as can be! And the history connections?  Amazing! This is what it’s all about.  Living books that you just connect to and therefore remember.  Prepare to be a little sad about the American history you learned back when. It won’t compare.  So, dive in!  Have fun with Bigger Hearts…, but take it seriously.  It provides the building blocks for what is to come. And if it is done right, it will provide the ‘harvest’ for years to come.

In closing, for easy reference, here’s a the quick list overview of skills in Bigger Hearts…!
  • History Notebooking
  • Geography Lessons
  • Timeline Entries
  • Vocabulary Study
  • Art projects
  • Narration Practice
  • History Activities
  • Classic Poetry: reading, study & copywork
  • Bible Study
  • Biblical Character Trait Focus
  • Devotions
  • Bible Memory Work from Proverbs
  • Gross Motor Skills
  • Classic Hymns
  • Spelling: word lists/dictation
  • Grammar and Writing Lessons using the text Preparing to Build: English 2
  • Cursive Handwriting Choices
  • Reading Choices
  • Storytime Genre Studies
  • Guided Literature Discussion
  • Story Element Lessons
  • Godly Character Lessons
  • Math Exploration
  • Biographical and Living Book Science Readings
  • Science Experiments
  • Science Notebooking

In Christ,


P.S.  You can check out our placement chart to see if Bigger Hearts… is a fit for your kiddos! If your child places better in Beyond Little Hearts…, check out this blog post by clicking here!

P.S.S. Click on each link below for Bigger Hearts...

A streamlined lunch is a huge help in the homeschool day

Teaching Tip

A streamlined lunch is a huge help in the homeschool day.

As you plan for your school year, it is so helpful to have a streamlined lunch menu. The menu should include items that are quick to prepare. Having a set lunch menu makes the day run more smoothly.

Why is it good to post your lunch menu?

I post my lunch menu on the fridge. Then, if my kiddos are ahead in their schedule they can begin to prepare what is on the menu. This is a huge timesaver for me. It is something I started when the kiddos were little. Even the littlest ones can help get lunch ready if it is easy enough!

What are some tips for designing a lunch menu?

We have a 5-day easy lunch schedule that we use all school year. This means that the kiddos get really good at following it! I try not to rotate it too much, or the ease of preparation is quickly lost.

Lunch isn’t the time to be particularly creative.

Doing a huge lunch preparation takes valuable time away from school. So, we’ve always kept to quick lunches that are easy to prepare and to clean up. At our house, we have our larger meal in the evening and that is where the variety takes place.

What might a streamlined lunch menu look like?

In the past, our menu looked like this:

Monday: Ground beef, chips, salsa, cheese, corn, mandarin oranges

Tuesday: Ham n’ swiss panini, apples with peanut butter, yogurt

Wednesday: PBJ’s, red grapes, cheese stick

Thursday: Tuna sandwiches, peas, applesauce

Friday: Rotation of frozen pizza, hot dogs, pot pies, or mac n’ cheese and pears and gogurt

What might a quick menu with some dietary restrictions look like?

Our current menu reflects the changing needs at our house to grain-free, gluten-free, low dairy, low sugar. So, this unfortunately takes a bit more time as you can see below. Without these restrictions, your menu will be much quicker to prepare!
Monday: Tuna with lettuce salad, mandarin oranges, cut up cheddar cheese

Tuesday: Rotisserie chicken, cut up apples, green bean steamer

Wednesday: Hamburger patties with cheese, salad with dressing, pears, baby carrots

Thursday: Salmon patties, cooked peas, peaches

Friday: Applegate Farms hot dogs, cooked crinkle cut carrots, pineapple chunks, cut up Havarti cheese

Try streamlining your lunch menu.

Consider having a streamlined, standard lunch menu at your house. Find one that works for you! Practice this summer. Then, see how much it helps during the school year!


The way you handle breakfast sets the tone for your day