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An Unplanned Delight-Directed Homeschool Day

An Unplanned Delight-Directed Homeschool Day

I teach using a combination of several different teaching methods ( called the Heart of Wisdom approach) I have used these methods for years and rarely think of them being different methods. Just as when I am fixing a meal I rarely think of the different methods used (chopping, mixing, blending, frying), I focus on the end result. This morning was a combination of unit study, delight-directed, writing to learn, and thematic studies.

Here is a sample of our homeschool day. Our study took on a life of its own going in several unplanned directions (lessons running a muck is norm for us). Click on images to view larger images.

(From the archive) This morning (teaching two boys, ages 6 and 7) we read The Narrated Bible “The Final Week: Monday” (pp1442-1443)

We spent a few minutes on Jesus cursing the fig tree which lead us into a discussion of fruit and fruit trees. We touched on, but did not go into detail on, the barrenness of the priests and the house of Israel.

We spent a few minutes on Jesus clearing the temple and a discussion of money changers and unfair weights and balances (something I was recently studying so I shared what I was learning).

When we got to the part where Jesus explained “Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies it only remains a single seed.” This started my wheels turning. We have been saving watermelon seeds for planting. I was not ready to plant so we just discussed seeds, planting, vines, types of watermelons, and Jesus’ sayings about the seed. I bought them to the dining table. We discussed the seed dying, estimated the number of seeds and compared the size of a watermelon to the seed.

The boys copied “Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies it only remains a single seed.” for writing practice (copywork).

Meanwhile I went out to the barn to find a piece of wheat to illustrate the lesson. I usually see wheat in the hay but today couldn’t find one piece. So I went on the Internet to print a picture of wheat. The next two-plus hours turned into a science/history/language lesson on farming methods and the evolution of grinding mills.

I found and printed an image of wheat and a threshing tractor. As soon as I found the tractor, I knew I had hit pay dirt and could expand this into a delight-directed study as both boys are tractor crazy.

I used Google video search (which is quickly becoming part of our school day) to find several online videos on threshing and grinding wheat and corn. Each video is only a few minutes so we watched several.

  • Threshing wheat in India
  • Threshing at a farm museum thatching straw
  • Threshing beans with a combine harvester (patented in 1834)
  • Threshing wheat in the Middle Ages with a stick
  • A snake coughing up a hippo (OK, not related, but the boys found it fascinating!)
  • Grinding whole wheat (electric mill)
  • Threshing wheat in 12th century England
  • Water wheel powered grain mill
  • Ancient Indian wheat grinding machine
  • 1905 corn grinding machine
  • Hmong woman grinding corn with stones
  • Grinding corn with a gas engine
  • Several modern tractors and threshing combines demos

We used Google image search to find images of threshing, milling and tractors. We used Scrapbooking to Learn methods and Photoshop Elements to create scrapbook pages showing changes in threshing and milling from Bible times to modern times.

David remembered a book on tractors and got it so we could examine the combine harvester. This lead to another Google image search and two more scrapbook pages of the steam engines and the modern combine harvester.

As the boys worked on the scrapbook pages, I read the book Johnny Appleseed aloud. I had the book out from the day before (ran out of time to read it) and had no idea it would fit with today’s Bible/history/science study.

When the boys finished the scrapbook pages they started playing the interactive game “How Things Work In Busytown.” Huckle and Lowly and other characters build a tractor, harvest wheat, mill the wheat, grind it into flour, and measure it to bake bread. I have to admit it would have been even better to grind my own wheat and bake fresh bread to wrap up the theme. But I gave my electric wheat grinder to my daughter years ago (no time to bake since I started writing. I now buy bread).

The reminder of our school day was structured with phonics and math.

This is pretty much a typical delight-directed day school day. We always start with Bible. Our phonics and math times are structured workbook time. And I have a large pile of history- and science-type books (like Johnny Appleseed) in the school area to read based on how the day goes. We were finished with school work by noon.

I’m a semi-structured homeschooler and the rest is, as they say, by the seat of my pants. Now, for those of you gasping at how I am probably missing large gaps, I can assure you I do have an overall plan and touch on all the required history and science topics (we’ve been homeschooling almost 20 years). We just do it a little differently. I try to encourage a love of learning by looking for a spark and fanning the flame.

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You can read more about Delight-Directed learning here. Download a 10 pages (PDF) on Delight Directed Teaching here.


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About Robin Sampson


  1. Natalie

    Wow! We will begin homeschooling in the fall and I hope that we have lots of days just like this one. Thanks, Robin, for this precious gem of encouragement.

  2. Oh wow, what a great day! I just love homeschooling, especially on days when it just gels. And great job on your site, if I haven’t said so already.


  3. Hi Robin,
    Great job at getting your new blog set up! Love hearing and SEEING your “school” day! Sometimes those unplanned days work better than the planned ones. 🙂 I have a HSB friend that just asked me about HOW this morning, so I’ll be writing about it soon. If you don’t mine, I’ll be referring them to this post (as well as the HOW web page).
    Lots of Love & ((hugs))
    Your Friend, Jane in MN

  4. HmscMom

    Great ideas!

  5. Rebekah

    This is very helpful. I have a K and 2nd grader. Thanks.

  6. Cindy sparks

    We just got Scrapbook Max. I love looking at the pages in the gallery. Lots of ideas.

  7. Found you on Blogging 101. Thanks for this link. I missed this page. I scrapbook the traditiaol way but we are considering Scrapbook Max.

  8. Good Morning. Homeschool4Him told me about this blog. Just super. I love the Bible focus of your day.

  9. Terrific explanation of delight directed. Thanks

  10. Sabrina Thompson

    Thank you for this. Enjoyed it.

  11. Just getting to know your website – sooo glad I found this example. It really helped me alot – this fall I will have 3rd, 1st & K5. I know the Lord let me to your book and doing unit studies for our family. You’re book is very encouraging and I have recommended it to several friends. Thanks again and God bless! I can’t wait to start this next year with unit studies and HOW!

  12. I’m a very visual learning myself and have been reading “A Family Guide to the Biblica Holidays” Do you have any pictures of your centerpieces that you could share or email to me? I would GREATLY appreciate “seeing” them.

    email: TrainingHearts-emailATyahoo.com

  13. Sounds like my kind of a homeschooling day! I totally agree with “looking for a spark and fanning the flame,” and love the way you demonstrated it.


  14. I have always love your blog.
    I love to school like this and am learning. Do you go through alot of ink. Do you do the pages or do your boys? It would take hours for my son to do that. He would love it though. We have Scrapbook Max too and love it also.

  15. Michelle B.

    I love this sort of teaching I pray I learn to teach this way using the resources avialable to me. I am thankful for HOW and know God is leading me to grow in the delight directed teaching. I have not attained or let go of the “old
    schooling” methods. Robin, please don’t make apologies for any gaps from where I am sitting there are none in this approach. with a grateful heart, Michelle B.

  16. Hey, I just wanted to say that I really like the way you approach schooling. When my kid and possible future kids are older I really think I would like to use your HOWTA. It seems the post in line with the Bible of the approaches I have come across in my research. My baby is only 9 and half months but I think it’s a good idea to think ahead a little. God bless!

  17. I love how you documented this! Fun!!

    Laura @ Laura Williams’ Musings’s last blog post..Do you wash and reuse plastic baggies or bottles?

  18. Thank you. It’s very nice to see the HOW approach in action. I’m the kind of person that needs examples. This helped a lot. 🙂

  19. Kristin

    Thanks for the illustration, quite helpful!

  20. First time on your site very interested in knowing more about this method. Want to use it for my 4 year old.

  21. Wow! Our home educated children are all grown with advanced degrees. As I see the sample of your day, I want to do it all again! How exciting for your sons to have such great experiences at their ages. You are a wonderful blessing to all of us.

  22. I just discovered your site. Wonderful! I love it. I have a dozen questions, many of which I am finding answers to on your site. But one I must ask you. You say you have been homeschooling 20 years, yet your delight-directed school day is with your 6 and 7yos. I have homeschooled just 19 years, and I have 4 and 5yo boys. I love to spend my mornings with them the same way! My question is what are your older students doing that you can spend all morning with the little guys? The days I do this we have a great time, but I am not getting in some of the other things I need to do with my older students. I would love to see how you actually schedule your week. Do you do the boys some days and not others? I just have to confess that delight-directed mornings are much more fun than writing workshop, or spelling, or even a group time that I have not planned well… Just being honest. What does balance look like at your house? Sorry, not many moms I know have the dynamic with the olders and eager youngers. (Three graduated, 17yod, 15yos, 13yod then my little guys, 4 and almost 6.)
    May the Lord bless you exceedingly!

  23. comment by Lisa

    I think God led me here on purpose. I’m searching for the right way & the right program for my kids & stumble along to your article. This is exactly how I homeschool my kids. I homeschool this way & have been told I’m nuts & that I should be careful. Yet my kids all are very happy, score extremely well on national tests, and they love homeschooling. I’m going to take this (sidetrack) as a wink from the Lord to keep doing exactly what I’ve been doing. Trusting in the Lord that he called me to homeschool in the first place & trust He’ll guide me through. He is faithful to not misguide us …. and He also knows for me to teach any other way for now wouldn’t work.

  24. Interesting post reminds me of another gem. – I am writing my life to laugh at myself, and I am succeeding. – Giacomo Casanova

  25. Here is the article that I like very much. I want you to write an article like this a lot more.

  26. Greetings,
    We are starting to home school this year and your site is very encouraging and helpful to us.
    We wanted to say thankyou so much for shareing your journey with us as it has really encouraged us in showing an working example of what is possible with homeschooling.
    Thank you again and May God bless you and your family.
    The Atkinson family
    Larry W. Atkinson

  27. Thanks for the ideas. I’ll introduce scrapbooking to my kids. Lovely!

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