5 Simple Tips to Fully Enjoy Heart of Dakota’s Creation to Christ Notebooking Pages

From Our House to Yours

Creating a “Beautiful” Notebook

Heart of Dakota’s Creation to Christ is the first year kiddos get to write in those beautiful full-color notebooks! As HOD moms, we eagerly await this rite of passage, and we just can’t wait to begin a special keepsake of the year using those lovely notebooking pages! And they ARE lovely. But, the writing and pictures and entries kiddos make on those lovely pages can be… well, lovely and not-so-lovely. So what should we expect as moms for first-time notebook users?

Expect the Plans to Be Done

#1 – Expect the plans to be done, but give extra ‘grace’ as this is a training year!

Heart of Dakota Creation to Christ Notebooking Pages
Creation to Christ Notebook Timeline pictures

So, when the Creation to Christ plans say for kiddos to draw, color, and label 3 timeline pictures; they need to strive to do that. When the plans say a certain number of sentences for their written narration; they need to strive to write that number of sentences. When the plans say for a certain passage to be copied in cursive; they need to strive to do that. However, progress should be evident! In other words, improvement from the start to the finish of the notebook should be visually obvious. The first entries being less ‘lovely’ or ‘complete’ than the last. Remember to give grace, especially at the start of the year, knowing this is a training year for learning how to use the notebooks.

Encourage Writing Within the Boxes

#2 – Encourage writing within the boxes, but understand this may be hard at first!

Learning to write inside the boxes is a skill in itself. Often students just don’t notice the edges of the boxes, and they could just write outside of them not knowing the goal is to try to stay inside them. So, just pointing out the goal is to stay inside the boxes and the frames of the boxes are the stopping places is very helpful! Students’ writing is also often larger, especially if they are on the younger side of the target age range of CTC. Learning to ‘shrink’ their writing is also a skill in itself. It takes time, but little by little encouraging students to develop fine motor skills to write smaller within a defined area is well worth it!

Know When the Goal Is Met

#3 – Know when the goal is met and call it ‘good enough’ then!

Carrie makes clear in the guides the goals for each part of the plans. The Introduction, the Appendix, and the daily plans of each guide help us know when a ‘goal’ is met. So, for example, the goal of the timeline is to keep a chronological record of what has been studied. It is not to have a beautiful artistic drawing – though some kiddos will be able to do that too! The goal of the written narration is to retell the history reading using guided questions. It is not to answer every question perfectly, as if it was a quiz to be mastered – creativity is allowed! So, if the student wrote the designated number of sentences (even if it was the minimum suggested), if the student answered some/most of the questions, and if the answers make quite good sense… the goal is met, and it can be deemed ‘good enough’!

Writing Must Be Legible

#4 – Writing must be legible, but not perfect!

Heart of Dakota Creation to Christ Notebooking Pages
Writing must be legible . . . but not perfect!

The ‘loveliness’ of students’ writing will vary greatly, and that is alright. What is not alright is if it just cannot be read at all! One sure-fire way to help kiddos understand this is to have them read aloud their written narrations with pencil in hand. As they read aloud to us, they can be encouraged to make changes they need to as they read. Often times, they will catch missing words, misspelled words, missing punctuation, etc. themselves. That only serves to help us have less to edit later with them!

If they cannot read their own writing, they will begin to understand that no one else will be able to read it either… and the real shame here is NOT that their writing is not perfect… it is that their ideas, their responses, their thoughts will not be able to be shared with others – and their ideas are what we LOVE… so writing must be legible, but it need not be perfect.

Editing Is a Skill to Be Learned

#5 – Editing is a skill to be learned one step at a time!

Editing is a process, and slow but steady progress is the goal. The best thing to do is to use the Written Narration Skills: Teacher’s List and the Written Narration Skills: Student’s List in the Appendix of CTC. Step 1 should be taught first; then, move on to Step 2, and so forth.

Focusing on teaching ONE skill at a time in the order it is listed will help you avoid overwhelming your child with too many skills at once, and will give your child a manageable plan for editing writing. This slow and steady process helps students improve one step at a time, and ensures we as moms do not to tip over to expecting perfection by making a student erase and rewrite everything; or by making them write everything twice. Written narrations are not to have a first, second, third draft. Making students do so will only cause them to dislike written narrations… intensely!

Heart of Dakota Creation to Christ Notebooking Page
Creation to Christ Unit 19 Notebooking Page

So, here you will see my son’s CTC Student Notebook… and this is the halfway mark, as he is in Units 18-19! Progress in many areas is evident, but more progress is expected as we move forward! It is LOVELY in its own way, and I look forward to it becoming more and more so as he becomes better and better at each of these amazing skills, step-by-step!!!

The next time your child works on a notebook entry for his/her Heart of Dakota guide, keep these tips in mind and see what you think!

In Christ,

Turn to ‘Team Family’ to Create a Home Full of More Unity and Joy

A Heart of Dakota Life

Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!

– Psalm 133:1

                             ‘Team Family’ Unite
Who do you turn to if you want to create a family full of unity and joy?

Life is just more enjoyable when it is full of unity instead of strife!  Heart of Dakota homeschooling can be full of peace and joy, but life at home has many responsibilities.  Homeschooling is unique in this way, as families truly dwell more together in their homes.  There are more meals to make, more messes to clean, more things to pick up… more, more, more!  But, there are also more times to talk, more opportunities to pray, and more chances to impact our children’s lives.  The good ‘more’ outweighs the stressful ‘more,’ but we homeschool mothers cannot bear the load alone.  So, who can you turn to if you want to create a home full of unity and joy? Something every homeschool mother has.  Team Family, that’s who!!!  

What tasks need to be completed?

There are many tasks to be done, and God has equipped each family member to help.  It is a good idea to put pen to paper to list tasks that need to be completed.  Rather listing every little thing that comes to mind, instead start by listing the tasks you would most like completed.  Yes, we’d all love our closets and drawers to be neatly organized.  But, a sink full of dishes or overflowing trash trumps the less than perfect closet in the day to day.  So, grab a piece of paper and a pen, and do some research for the day.  What drives you crazy that is not getting done or that is not getting done consistently?  Those are the tasks that need to be completed, and they’re the only ones that make it on the paper for now.

           Unloading the Dishwasher
Which member of the family do you turn to first?

So, how do you decide who does what?  Choosing wisely depends on age, interests, time, and ability.  There are certain tasks that age determines which family member is assigned to the task.  For example, my 18 year old is the only family member that can use our skid steer to clear snow.  Interests also play a part.  So for example, my 11 yo loves to mop the floor (he did not get this interest from me).  It just makes sense to assign him this task no one else enjoys.  Likewise, the time of the task makes a difference.  So for instance, my 15 year old doesn’t enjoy the outdoor chores as much.  As he is indoors while the other boys do outdoor chores, he has the time to help with breakfast. Finally, ability comes into play.  God has gifted each person with unique abilities, and it is wise to match tasks to family members accordingly.

          Making Breakfast Smoothies
What are the tasks that make it on my need-to-be completed list?

Top ten must-be-done tasks for homeschooling to go smoothly (from morning to evening) and who should do them

  1. beds made and rooms picked up; all
  2. dishwasher unloaded; 11 yo
  3. garbages taken out; 15 yo
  4. dogs/cat let out and fed; 11 yo and 18 yo
  5. mail brought in and letters mailed; 18 yo
  6. driveway cleared of snow; 11 yo and 18 yo
  7. breakfast help; 15 yo
  8. meal clean-up help; all
  9. homeschool help; 15 yo and 18 yo
  10. cleansweep before bed; all
                  Storytime Reading
Why were the tasks assigned to the Team Family member they were assigned?

Top ten must-be-done tasks and why they are assigned to whom they are

  1. age: everyone is now old enough to do this and should be responsible for their room
  2. ability:  11 yo has unloaded the dishwasher since he was 5; always have the youngest person able do the task
  3. time:  he can do this while the others do outdoor chores
  4. interest: both love outdoor chores and time together doing them
  5. age and ability: between the 11 yo and 18 yo doing outdoor chores, he’s the one who won’t drop or lose the mail
  6. age and ability:  18 yo is the only one able to run the skid steer; 11 yo can help shovel smaller areas
  7. interest: 15 yo loves to make smoothies and prefers indoor chores
  8. age, ability, interest, and time:
    • 18 yo washes big dishes and loads dishwasher
    • 15 yo drys the larger dishes, puts them away, and wipes table
    • 11 yo clears the table and vacuums the kitchen floor
  9. ability and interest:
    • 18 yo teaches 15 yo Algebra because he LOVES math
    • 15 or 18 yo sometimes reads aloud Storytime to 11 yo
    • 15 yo does science experiments with 11 yo because he loves this
  10. age: each person is responsible for picking up the house before bed and always has been
Look to Team Family to create a home full of unity and joy!

So, as you make your top ten must-be-done list, look to Team Family for help!  Don’t let age be a deterrent.  Even from very young ages our children have helped with must-be-done tasks.  Finally, my husband is a huge part of Team Family!  However, his job prevents him from helping much with the day-to-day of managing the home and homeschooling.  So, turning to my children, who are always home with me, is just practical!  Hope this helps you turn to your Team Family to create a home full of more unity and joy!!

In Christ,


P.S. For more helpful tips from Carrie on having an efficient chore routine, click here!

P.S.S. For more helpful tips from Carrie on having a good breakfast, lunch, and chore routine, click here!

Take Away His Slate and Let Him Read History

A Charlotte Mason Moment

Take away his slate and let him read history.

“The brain, or some portion of the brain, becomes exhausted when any given function has been exercised too long. The child has been doing sums for some time, and is getting unaccountably stupid: take away his slate and let him read history, and you find his wits fresh again. Imagination, which has had no part in sums, is called into play by the history lesson, and the child brings a lively unexhausted power to his new work. School time-tables are usually drawn up with a view to give the brain of the child variety of work; but the secret of weariness in children often show in the home schoolroom is, that no such judicious change of lessons is contrived.” (Home Education by Charlotte M. Mason Vol. 1, p. 24)