Nature Journals Done Charlotte Mason Style in MTMM

More Than a Charlotte Mason Moment

Nature Journals Done Charlotte Mason Style

Point to some lovely flower or gracious tree, not only as a beautiful work, but a beautiful thought of God.  (Charlotte Mason, Vol. 1, page 80)

Hiking in God’s Creation As a Family

When I see a beautiful sunrise or sunset, I catch my breath!  Not only because I am looking at something lovely, but because I see the Creator in it!  Psalm 19:1  The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.

Sunrise in South Dakota

I believe this is what Charlotte Mason saw, and that is why she loved the idea of keeping a nature journal!  Many of us have read Charlotte Mason’s Volumes, and we long to instill this love of nature in our children.  We aspire to our children looking at nature in awe.  But, more so, we hope our children look deeply at nature in awe, and the closer they look, they delight in God’s hand in it all.

Our ideal picture of keeping a nature journal may not match our reality of trying to keep a nature journal.

I see many a homeschool moms trying to duplicate Charlotte Mason’s ideal picture of keeping a nature journal in their daily lives.  However, time constraints, weather constraints, and just daily life’s constraints and responsibilities prevent nature walks and nature journals from happening.  As a young mom, I remember being incredibly inspired to keep a nature  journal having read Charlotte Mason’s works.  I recall taking my little sons on a nature walk.  I believe my oldest son was 4 years old, and my youngest was just barely 1 year old and in a stroller.  Our house was in town, and not in the most affluent area, mind you.  We were young, and the house we could afford had a very small backyard.  As we walked, there wasn’t much nature; there was much concrete.

A Failed Nature Walk

We tried to sketch bugs, frogs, and butterflies.  I was upset my 4 year old son’s nature journal entries looked more like unknown blobs.  I took it over, sketched the best frog I could, and had him rewrite the word ‘frog’ a few times so it was legible as a caption.  Failure.  I knew it.  NOT, what Charlotte Mason envisioned.  My son actually asked me to put aside the nature journal, as it just didn’t ‘turn out right.’ Hmmmm.  Not what I was hoping for in a nature walk.

Nature Journals As a Focus in MTMM

It turned out my sons just needed to mature a little.  They needed years in the Psalms in the Bible and in lovely Christian-based studies of life science to appreciate nature. In short, they needed to love God’s creation and mature.  I also needed to mature.  It became clear, I needed to realize I couldn’t do everything well all at once.  Hence, the reason nature journals are added as the focus of one of the Heart of Dakota guides.  Missions to Modern Marvels (MTMM) to be exact!  One year to hone in on this, to do it right, to make a nature journal my sons felt proud of!  There are other years Heart of Dakota guides include the concept of ‘nature journals’ as well.  Just in the form of science notebooking entries, amazing God-honoring experiments, outdoor activities, etc.  But, nature journals themselves SHINE in MTMM!

One of Riley’s Nature Journal Entries
Skills leading up to nature journals help students keep a nature journal they are proud of!

So, as you are feeling inspired yet overwhelmed by Charlotte Mason’s ideals on nature walks and nature journals, know they are coming! They are an amazing part of MTMM, and they will come at a time your child can actually feel proud of what they are recording in their nature journals.  Other HOD guides lay the groundwork for this.  John Audubon’s bird studies, Arabella Buckeley’s plant and bird studies, Fulbright’s astronomy study, and so many more – lead the way for students to truly be able to fully enjoy the compilation of a nature journal!  Likewise, step-by-step Draw and Write… drawing assignments,  history projects, history notebooking entries, and science experiments help students acquire the skills necessary to be able to create a nature journal they can be proud of.

Classic poetry study further inspires nature journal entries!
MTMM draws upon all students have learned previously, so they can keep a nature journal they love!

So, this blog’s focus is Charlotte Mason’s nature journals and how HOD has this covered in such a beautiful way that you don’t have to feel the need to add it on your own to other years!  HOD’s guides all include celebrating and showcasing a love of the Creator’s handiwork.  But, MTMM draws upon all children have learned previously, so they can focus on keeping a nature journal they’ll love for years to come.

Common topics for nature journals make it easy to keep a journal wherever you live!
Two days in each unit of MTMM focus on nature journaling using lessons from Nature Drawing and Journaling.  In this book, award-winning artist Barry Stebbing shares 40 years’ worth of insights on studying nature and keeping a nature journal. Full-color illustrations, inspirational quotes, journal entries, and copies of Stebbing’s own journal will have you making your own Charlotte-Mason style nature journal in no time.
You may find you want to keep your own journal alongside your student! But, no comparing – every journal is precious to the one creating it!
Clear instructions, poignant reflections, and space for your work are provided in this spiral-bound softcover book. Also plans include over 47 nature-related art lessons to guide your student in learning to sketch and appreciate the outdoors. Art lessons and nature journal sessions are scheduled twice weekly for the student to enjoy in Missions to Modern Marvels. The nature-themed poetry of Wordsworth, Longfellow, and Whitman is scheduled once weekly to enhance the nature journal sessions.
William Wordsworth’s Poetry
Nature journals are covered beautifully in HOD, so there is no need to try to ‘add them in’ other years.
So, rest assured!  Nature journals Charlotte Mason-style are a part of HOD’s guides.  First, in the form of loving the Lord’s Creation. Next, in the way of learning to draw and record thoughts well. Finally, in the fruition of keeping a nature journal in MTMM.  I hope this helps you enjoy the journey of Charlotte Mason style skills leading up to the actual keeping of a nature journal in MTMM, knowing this is covered beautifully in HOD already!!!
Have fun seeing your own student’s nature journal come to life in MTMM!
In Christ,
Julie

Nervous About Homeschooling in High School to Be Ready for College

Dear Carrie

I love Heart of Dakota and am excited by what I see is to come each year as we progress!  I especially see much progress now that I have each of my students placed properly, which is exciting to me! However, when I look far ahead, I get nervous about homeschooling in high school so my students are ready for college. So, how does HOD prepare students for college? How does HOD high school take a student from simply doing what is planned to being able to take a syllabus and knowing how to complete work more independently?  Thanks in advance for taking time to calm my nerves about homeschooling in high school!

Sincerely,

“Ms. Nervous About Homeschooling in High School”

Dear “Ms. Nervous About Homeschooling in High School,”

This is such an important topic that is near and dear to my heart!  Many truly amazing homeschool moms feel they cannot homeschool through high school.  Let me put your fears to rest! You can, and Heart of Dakota can be your best help!  I’ll begin by sharing that at HOD it is definitely our desire to prepare kiddos as best as possible for college, should the Lord lay it upon their hearts to go. Our guides are written to help students earn needed credits expected by most colleges.

More Than Enough Credits

We take a 4 x 4 +2 approach to this by including more than 4 social sciences (i.e. geography, world history, two years of American history, government, economics), 4 years of English/composition, 4 years of math, 4 years of science with lab, and 2 years of foreign language. We also include 4 years of Bible and additional courses beyond that such as Health, Fine Arts, Logic, World Religions and Cultures, Speech, etc. This is our first step toward making sure students are adequately prepared for what lies ahead.

Plans encourage independence, initiative, responsibility, and time management.

Students gain independence in a variety of skills as they move through the HOD Guides. They must accomplish a wide range of tasks each day with minimal supervision. Getting behind has its natural consequences as the work load continues to move forward daily. The guide does not adjust itself for students who are not completing their work on time. So, the plans set goals for the day, and the students must figure out how to meet them. Simply telling students what to do does not equate to students doing it! Instead, completing assignments on time requires initiative, planning, time management, diligence, and follow-through (all essential college skills). Consider that the HOD guide’s directions are a training ground where students learn essential skills needed for success in life!

Reading and writing skills are rigorous and train students well for college requirements.

Another area in which HOD shines is in its level of required reading and writing each day. The guides are rigorous in their expectations in these two areas.  So, students can readily do the two most common portions of any college level class. They can readily read and write, manage their time well, and independently incrementally complete work!  Having these skills intact helps students have an easier transition into meeting college requirements.

Deep thinking is encouraged as well.

Our guides also require students to think deeply about a variety of areas, often foregoing the easy route and opting for assignments that require higher level thinking which must be put into words. Years of oral and written narration practice prepare kiddos to put thoughts from their mind into words and/or onto paper cohesively and creatively.

Long-term projects help students learn to budget their time over multiple days and weeks.

This brings us to the question of long-term projects and their place within the curriculum. I do believe that long-term projects are good as students learn to budget their time over multiple days and weeks. As such, we have included projects in every guide leading up to the high school guides, spreading one project over a week or longer in each guide. Drawn into the Heart of Reading also has projects at the end of each unit. We have included long-term projects in all of our high school guides as well.

College will be an adjustment, but our goal is to make that adjustment as seamless as possible.

College will certainly be an adjustment! But, our goal is to make that adjustment as seamless as possible. Two of my own sons are doing online courses for college right now. They have transitioned very well. My sons find college to be easier than their high school courses in some ways! Though they are both pursuing very different majors, they both use their time well! They quite naturally figure out how much to study each day, so they are prepared to finish on time.

I firmly believe HOD prepares kiddos for the needed skills required in college. Students who do the guides as written should find themselves able to adjust to the expectations college brings. I also believe that for students who do not go on to college, the well-rounded education received within HOD will help them all throughout life in whatever they pursue!

“Head” and “Heart” knowledge are both so important!

I cannot conclude without mentioning that the high school years are very important years for molding our students’ character, strengthening their faith, directing their attention to God’s Word, pouring their hearts into living as Christ desires, and seeking God’s will for their future. These are the goals that matter for eternity. This is why the HOD high school guides regularly address these heart issues. If we lose are children’s hearts in the pursuit of academics, what have we gained? Head knowledge does not equate to heart knowledge. So, we must address both! This was a priority from start to finish in writing our guides.  I pray our graduates are strong in both ‘head’ and ‘heart’ knowledge, all to the glory of the Lord!

Blessings,
Carrie

P.S.  To read about some of our graduates who have been featured in our Heart of Dakota Graduate Spotlight, click on the links below and arrow down in the link to read about…

Garret

Gabrielle

Tanner and Taylor

Wyatt

Isaac and Eva

Preschool with Heart of Dakota: Complete, Christian, Short, and Fun

From Our House to Yours

Little Hands to Heaven – a great preschool whether you’re just starting out or finishing strong!

Preschool with Heart of Dakota’s   Little Hands to Heaven is complete, Christian, short, and fun.  What could be better for this exciting time?!? Our little ones are full of life and energy, and they are raring to go!  As homeschool moms, we may be at the start of our homeschooling and raring to go too, dreaming about homeschooling our first precious blessing from God.

Or, we may be somewhere in the middle of our homeschooling. Realistically, multiple children with many needs can lessen the excitement of beginning to homeschool another little one.  It can be tempting to always focus on the oldest, who is forever entering new and exciting stages.  Especially if our own education was less than satisfying (which let’s face it, for most of us homeschool moms, it probably was).  We begin to love learning alongside our oldest child, and beginning to teach another little one can become, well, less exciting. In short, though we love each little blessing the same with all of our mama’s heart, we may be weary.

Well, wherever you are in your homeschool journey, if you have a preschool aged child, I want to encourage you! Little Hands to Heaven for preschool truly is a doable blessing. Each week I’d like to focus on a new guide in this blog series. So, let’s start with preschool first, and each week, let’s ‘grow up’ a guide at a time together!

Letter Activity Fun
Do you long for something more meaningful than just letters… letters… letters… numbers… numbers… numbers… for PreK?

Everything you want your preschool to include is already a part of Little Hands to Heaven!  I like it because it reminds me of a mini-kindergarten.  Many other preschool programs only focus on letters and numbers… the whole year.  Don’t get me wrong!  Letter recognition, letter formation, letter sounds, and early math skills ARE important, and they are a part of Little Hands.  However, that can get a little dry day after day, for both you and your little one. In contrast, Little Hands… adds pizazz with a mini-version of Kindergarten subjects like history, art, Bible, devotions, and music.

Bible Activity Connection

Furthermore, Little Hands… has history – BIBLE history!  What can be better than that?  It’s Christian. It’s chronological. Moreover, it’s inspiring.  Finally, it’s planting seeds that are hopefully sown upon fertile ground.  It keeps Christ front and center from the start, and the Bible history theme each week connects all the skills being taught.  Pretty memorable!  Which is exactly what we want for our little ones.  Skills meets retention meets the Lord.  A winning combination!  Not to mention, all the get-up-and-move parts of the plans! Dramatic plays, active exploration, fingerplays, art projects – your little one needs to move, and Little Hands… has that covered!

Dramatic Play
Okay, so to recap, let’s check out Little Hand’s… complete line-up below:
  • letter recognition, letter formation, letter sounds and motions
  • early math skills
  • Bible history and activities
  • devotional topics
  • art projects
  • dramatic plays
  • active exploration (science/health topics)
  • fingerplays
  • music
Fine Motor Skills and Letter Review
So, now you may be wondering, with all these great skills, will you have the time to teach Little Hands…? 

The answer is definitely ‘yes!’ No matter what stage of life you are in! Twenty-five to thirty minutes.  That’s all!  Your preschooler will demand that much attention anyway.  Why not give it in a planned, well-balanced, meaningful way?  You young, new homeschool moms may be saying, “Hmmmm.  I’m not sure that’s enough time.”  You seasoned, veteran homeschool moms may be saying, “Hmmmm. I’m not sure that I have enough time.”

Well, young moms, it is enough, and the good news is, you can add in other fun things if you want – like walks in the park, picnics in the backyard, or read-alouds and field trips galore. Veteran moms, you do have the time, and it will erase the guilt of not spending quality time alone with your little one.  And if you truly don’t have the time, an older child can enjoy teaching Little Hands… to a younger sibling, and you can come in on the parts you care most about!

Making a Color Book with Older Brother
Added benefits -you don’t need to plan ahead, leave your home, start a certain time of year, or buy extra things to do Little Hands!

Open-and-go.  Get up and teach!  Did you get to bed late caring for everybody but yourself?  Was there little sleep for you last night because you were up with a sick child… up tossing and turning… up because you aren’t feeling well yourself?  Is it November, and you wanted to start something with your little one in August but haven’t? Well, grab some coffee, stumble out of bed, and open that guide.  That’s all there is to it.  Buy one Little Hands… package. You have what you need… and it won’t cost you much… and you can reuse it.  Plus, the plans are not attached to holidays, seasons, or months.  So, anytime is a good time to start Little Hands!

One more surprising bonus – you actually get to be ‘fun mom!’

These are my sons’ words, not mine.  Let’s just be clear, when I was fun and young, I wasn’t so fun. I was trying to prove myself to all those people who thought homeschooling might not be ‘enough,’ and I prodded… quizzed… questioned… my poor oldest son too much.  Still, he thought when we did Little Hands… I was ‘fun mom’ – thank you, Lord!

Then, when there were health concerns for me and for my family when I began homeschooling my middle son, again, NOT ‘fun mom.’  Still, somehow when we did Little Hands… I was ‘fun mom’ again – who knew?!?

And then when I began homeschooling my last son, I was sure ‘fun mom’ was seriously out of commission.  I was weary, gals.  Somehow, miraculously, ‘fun mom’ reappeared apparently!  I know, because my son called our Little Hands… ‘playschool,’ not preschool.  And he brought his Little Hands… guide to me begging to do ‘playschool.’  New mercies… never-failing.  Turns out being ‘fun mom’ was awesome!  Often in the midst of some not-so-fun-things in life.

Fun Follow-up Activities That Use Whatever You Have on Hand

So, there you have it!  I hope you’ve enjoyed meeting Little Hands to Heaven!  Next time, I’ll introduce you to Little Hearts for His Glory! In the meantime, enjoy checking out the printable Introduction and first week of plans of Little Hands, as well as some of our most common questions!

In Christ,

Julie

Summer is good time to work on keyboarding

Teaching Tip

Summer is good time to work on keyboarding skills.

Summer is a wonderful time to work on skills that will help your child during the school year. One skill that we’ve worked on with our older kiddos during the summer is keyboarding.

How much time is needed to see progress?

It is amazing how much progress can be made with just 10-15 min. of steady practice each day. We set a timer and have our older boys practice typing Monday-Friday during the summer months.

What can you use to teach keyboarding?

We happen to use and enjoy Typing Instructor, but you can use any program that works well for your family. Just be sure that your kiddos are placing their fingers in the correct positions on the keyboard.

What are the benefits?

Strong keyboarding skills are a huge help during the school year as students type their essays and writing projects! Teach it this summer and reap the rewards when school rolls around again.

Blessings,
Carrie

Does everyone homeschool year-round?

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

Library Builder

Use coupon code LB-BHC for 10% on this month’s Library Builder book set: The Deluxe Package – Classic 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-BHC on our website for the entire month of July to apply the savings to your order. The coupon applies to the Bigger Hearts for His Glory deluxe package – classic 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):

Storytime
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-BHC to save!

To apply this month’s savings, just enter coupon code LB-BHC 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