Happy Hearts in Planning Mode


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It has been a busy summer here at our house, but it’s time I nail down our plans for this upcoming Happy Hearts homeschool year. I feel like we’ve come full circle. We started out homeschooling with just the two of us (my youngest son and I), and here we are, seven years later, back to just the two of us, now that both of my daughters are homeschool graduates.

So here goes… this will be Marcus’ eighth-grade year. I have already registered him as a distance student through the amazing Liahona Academy. His online classes will cover earth science, American government and civics, and a combined Geometry/Algebra 2 class. The best part about these classes is that they are filmed live, but the recordings are available anytime, and they are only Monday-Thursday. So, there’s a lot of flexibility for homeschoolers. Also, these classes are gospel based, which I love. This will be Marcus’ fourth year with Liahona.

That was the easy part! Now for the rest…

English/Language Arts- I want to cover more poetry this year. I purchased three poetry books to give us variety:

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The first is called, Pocket Book of Poetry and it contains select poems by several poets, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emily Dickinson, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Lewis Carroll and Robert Frost. The second book is called, The Bridge Across the River by Shepherd Thorleif Halvorsen, and the third book is from Simply Charlotte Mason’s Enjoy the Poems collection (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow).

We have yet to try any Shakespeare, so with my daughter’s help, I chose, Much Ado About Nothing and I found some free online resources to accompany it, which I’ve downloaded into a folder.

We will also cover grammar and essay writing.

For our read-alouds, so far I have, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain, and the third book in the Mysterious Benedict Society series, and the second, Nightmares! (The Sleepwalker Tonic), by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller. And then, we’ll go from there, but I want to include a novel by Jules Verne (Last year we read, Around the World in 80 Days).


Geography/History- I love geography so we have already learned the states and capitals twice, and having lived in Peru, we experienced another culture, but I want to go deeper this year and do a state history unit in order of the statehood dates, as well as a seven continent (with select countries from each continent) unit. This is where I’m still planning, but I have ideas swirling around my head (and jotted down), plus, I’ve purchased a couple of goodies to get us started. The first is this set of 50 state postcards. The second is this decorative USA map which I’m going to frame.


Art and Music- We will continue with our set of Maestro Classics, which we started using last year. Since the only art my son currently enjoys is chalk pastel art, I purchased a couple of e-books from chalkpastel.com. One is American Landmarks so that will go nicely with our state history unit.

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I’m sure I’ll be adding a few more resources/curriculum as we go, but for the most part we keep things simple and leave time for new pursuits. As for our schedule, I can’t plan that in detail until I know his online class times. I only know the starting day is Aug. 30th. I’m also checking out different homeschool planners to see if one appeals to me.


My Homeschool Planning


With our move just five days away now, and our upcoming Happy Hearts year just around the corner, I’ve been combining my homeschool planning with our packing. We are driving to Arizona so that I will have my own car there. With only the four of us moving (my oldest two kids are university students), we can put the whole back row of seats down and have more trunk space.

I purchased containers for my son and daughter to house their school supplies. This way they can tote their supplies around the apartment and keep everything all together.


My husband gave me the idea to use the One Note app for my planning. I’ve created a homeschool notebook on there, with pages for each subject. In the past, I’ve always used a regular spiral notebook for my planning. I kind of like One Note, but I’m also still learning how to use it and it definitely has some quirks. I plan to print off each page once it’s complete and have a paper version as well. These pages will go into a homeschool binder I’m creating. I’ll write a post about my binder once it’s more complete. Right now it doesn’t look like much.


I have chosen two scripture verses to represent my ultimate goals for this Happy Hearts year. They are found in Doctrine & Covenants, section 88 (verses 118 & 119).

Seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith. Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God.

Happy Hearts Curriculum Choices for 2015-2016


We are moving in less than two weeks! I wish I had a real-life homeschooling friend who could help me nail down my plans for this upcoming homeschool year. I feel a little scatter-brained at the moment.

I can’t believe my baby girl is a senior! I am going to cherish every day of this school year with her. She will continue with her basic subjects as online courses through the awesome Liahona Academy. What we love about Liahona is that their classes for middle and high school grades are filmed and streamed LIVE, giving their distance students the choice to view them live (and participate) or to view them at a later time of their choosing.

We have ordered all of her textbooks, either directly through Liahona or from Amazon.

For English, she will be reading and studying the following books/novels-

  1. The Book of Mormon, which is basic scripture for us.
  2. Jane Eyre (A Norton critical edition), Charlotte Bronte, edited by Richard J. Dunn
  3. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
  4. Oxford World’s Classics Twelfth Night, or What You Will, William Shakespeare, edited by Roger Warren and Stanley Wells
  5. Stone Mage Wars, Journey to the Fringe, Kellie Swofford Nielson
For grammar, she will be using the Line Upon Line series, which is Liahona curriculum.
Saxon Geometry

For math, she will be using the Saxon Geometry, 1st edition

Exploring Creation With Chemistry

For science, she will be using Exploring Creation With Chemistry, 3rd edition

For history, both my son and daughter will be studying World History and World Government and they will use textbooks entitled: Threads of Religious Liberty, DeGraff & DeGraff, and Our Old World Beginnings: An LDS Supplement to European History, DeGraff & DeGraff

My son will be in 7th grade. He will be taking two online courses through Liahona (history and science) and I will tackle the rest of his subjects with him (English, math, art and music, etc.)


For science, he will be using CK-12 Life Science, which is a free download after signing up for a free account. He will read the text directly from my laptop and we will only print when he needs a paper copy of a certain page.

For English, we plan to read the following novels together, from our home library-

  1. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
  2.  Bud, Not Buddy, Christopher Paul Curtis
  3. Hoot, Carl Hiaasen
  4.  Just So Stories, Rudyard Kipling
  5.  Summer of the Monkeys, Wilson Rawls

For grammar, we will use free resources online such as Grammar-Monster, Daily Grammar and my daughter’s favorite, Purdue Owl


For music, we will be using Maestro Classics, Stories in Music collection.


For art, we are going to try the free resources on Teach Art at Home and Incredible Art Department. We will also use the book, Teach Art to Children.

At least I have our curriculum figured out. Now I just need to plan a sort of schedule to follow, but I’m waiting to learn when their online classes will be. And once we move into our cozy apartment in AZ, I want to set up a homeschool nook where we keep all of our books and supplies in one place.

Curriculum Finds- Free Online Resources For Kids


I’ve arranged these learning websites by subject. We have either used these websites or I’ve looked at them enough to be confident in recommending them, but parents should always preview sites and be aware of what their children are doing online.

A Little of Everything

BrainPOP and BrainPOP Jr. offers a selection of free videos, games, quizzes and activities that covers different subjects. The rest of the site requires a membership subscription.

Learning Games For Kids features educational games covering multiple subjects, plus some songs and videos.

Art & Music

Classics For Kids introduces kids to composers, instruments and music.

Tricia Hodges offers free art lessons at Hodgepodge.

The Piano Guys and Lindsey Stirling are just…. AMAZING! I’m thinking “music appreciation”. Now, that’s talent.

Foreign Language

Duolingo is somewhat similar to Rosetta Stone’s approach to learning a second language. I’ve used both and while I loved Rosetta Stone, it’s quite expensive. Duolingo is free, fun, easy to use, and works just as well.

Geography & Science

lizardpoint has free geography quizzes and in study mode, offers facts on individual states and countries. Your child can register for free.

National Geographic Kids features games, animal facts, videos, etc. Your child can create a free account.

Switcheroo Zoo lets kids create funny new animals, as well as offering several other educational games and activities, all related to animals.

Science Monster offers free science lessons and games.

MakeMeGenius offers free science lesson videos, categorized by grade level.

The following sites offer free science experiments/labs. All you do is add the supplies, usually common household items or easy-to-find, inexpensive items from the store:

Science Bob features demonstration videos.

Steve Spangler Science also features videos. This website is my son’s favorite.

TOPS Science has free labs for science activities.


Have Fun With History features free history videos, timelines and activities. I recommend that parents preview the content on this site before showing it to younger children, but I think this would be great for the middle school range.


Cool Math 4 Kids offers free math lessons and games.

Phonics & Reading

Starfall features phonic activities in four steps to help your preschooler learn how to read.

Storyline Online features videos of storybooks read by celebrities. Very cool!

There are a lot of ways to access free books online. Check out a few of these sites: International Children’s Digital Library, Children’s Storybooks Online and Kids World Fun.

If your family has a favorite free website not listed here, I’d love to hear about it in the comment section.

Happy Hearts Fall 2014


Here is how our fall year is shaping up-

For Marissa Girl, who is in her Junior year of high school, she will take her usual online courses (Algebra, English, History and Science) through the awesome Liahona Academy, plus she has dual-enrolled at the local high school, just for the first trimester which ends November 18th. This will give her 2 additional credits towards her high school diploma. She started these classes last Thursday.

She is taking a watercolor art class and a veterinary assistant course. She is also taking her third year of Seminary, which is an LDS (Latter-day Saints; short for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) scripture study course for youth in 9th-12th grades.

I have to explain why we occasionally dual-enroll when we dislike public school so much. Well, Marissa would be going to the school’s campus for Seminary anyway, and we’ve worked with this particular high school before with my oldest daughter, Darcie. It was a positive experience and gave her some extra credits easily enough. It’s only temporary, for one-third of the school year, and she will not be taking any state tests since her diploma will be through her private school.

Here is some of the content Marissa will be studying, plus some of the curriculum she’ll be using this year in Liahona-

History- 1860 to present day, including the Civil War, 2 World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, the Great Depression, 9/11 and LDS Church history.

Science- Human and animal Biology

English- Rhetoric, persuasive writing, Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Aesop’s Fables, Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift, The Book of Mormon, The Federalists Papers, The Gettysburg Address, The Republic by Plato, The Phantom Toll Booth by Norton Juster

Math- Saxon Algebra One Student Edition

This will be Marcus’ 2nd year with Liahona Junior’s 5th & 6th combined class. Last year rocked! We love his teacher, Sister Rowley. Through her class, he will have English, History and Science. I’ll continue to teach him math and I have 2 fun units planned (Around the World in 80 Days & Greek Mythology). I also need to look into a typing program for him.

Here is some of the content Marcus will be studying, plus some of the curriculum we’ll be using this year in both Liahona Junior and Happy Hearts-

History/Geography- Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of World History, Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne (this will be a unit I’m creating)

Science- Physics (force & motion, electricity, atoms, magnetism) We are using this book- Christian Kids Explore Physics


English- Spelling Smart by Cynthia M. Stowe, National Geographic Treasury of Greek Mythology (part of a unit I’m creating), Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordin

Math- Learn Math Fast System Volume 2 (fractions, percentages, greatest common factor, cross canceling, decimals)

Other- Typing, piano and Spanish lessons, Boy Scouts

Reading together- Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, Marry Poppins by P.L. Travers, The Fourth Nephite by Jeffrey S. Savage, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, Rudyard Kimpling’s Just So Stories

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Reading on his own- Because of  Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo, Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh, A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck, Hazzardous Universe by Julie Wright & Kevin Wasden, How to Train Your Dragon Book 8 How to Break a Dragon’s Heart