Try the repeating method for “Rhymes in Motion”

Teaching Tip:

Do you have a child doing Little Hands to Heaven or Little Hearts for His Glory?

If you have kiddos doing either Little Hands to Heaven or Little Hearts for His Glory, today’s teaching tip is for you! It’s a simple tip, but one that makes the “Rhymes in Motion” go more smoothly with your little ones!

What is one helpful tip when you begin a new “Rhymes in Motion?”

Here is one helpful tip for beginning a new “Rhymes in Motion.” Say the rhyme and do the motions one line at a time, with your child repeating each line right after you.

What does the repeating method look like on Day 1 of the rhyme?

For example, on Day 1 of the rhyme, you will say and perform line one of the rhyme. Then, your child will repeat line one with the motions. Next, you will move on to line two, saying and demonstrating the line. Then, your child will repeat line two with the motions. Continue on through the rhyme this way to make sure your child is getting the words and motions.

How does the repeating method differ on Day 2?

At our house, we usually continue to use the repeating method on the second day too. However, at the end of the rhyme on day two, we also do the whole rhyme once more in unison.

What are the benefits of doing the rhymes this way?

Usually after two days of repeating each line after you, kiddos are more sure of the words and motions. Then, they are ready to do the rhyme in unison with you in the coming days. The repeating method is also great for making sure your child is participating and has the words down! Try this method at the beginning of a new rhyme and see what you think!


PS: For more information on how “Rhymes in Motion” help kids’ skills develop, check out this blog article here:

What are the benefits of the Rhymes in Motion?

Simplify Your Homeschool Life by Enjoying the Comfort of Home

A Heart of Dakota Life

Simplify (and Love) Your Homeschool Life by Enjoying the Comfort of Home!

Using Heart of Dakota is already a wonderful way you can simplify and love your homeschool life!  However, homeschooling is different than other schooling options because it primarily takes place in the home. That can be such a blessing if you let it be. As homeschool moms, we sometimes try to recreate a public school setting in our own homes. This is really not necessary nor advisable! While children in public, private, charter, and magnet schools alike are often confined to individual desks in one fairly cold and aesthetic classroom for most of their school day, homeschool children need not be. We, as homeschool moms, need not be either. Instead we can fully take advantage of the comfort of home by enjoying each part of it.

#3: Enjoy the Comfort of Your Home

There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.  (Jane Austen)

By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures. (Proverbs 24:3-4)

How do you feel about your home? Do you enjoy being there? Is it a place you find real comfort? Do you laugh in your home? When you look around, do you see things that bring you joy?  Have you made special memories in your home that you treasure? I remember reading Charlotte Mason’s quote that “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.”  I took that to heart. My husband and I decided that if we were going to homeschool, we were going to make our home a place we really wanted to be. In turn, we hoped this would make our home a place our children really wanted to be. Well, after 17 years of homeschooling, I daresay mission accomplished. Each one of our children truly loves not only being homeschooled in our home, but really, just being home. My husband and I love it too!

Rare and Beautiful Treasures

Our homes can be filled with rare and beautiful treasures, and these treasures need not cost a lot of money. First, I simply just love to see my children becoming wise, understanding more and more, and building their knowledge through homeschooling with Heart of Dakota. I love this not only because of the strong academics but also because of the Christ-centered focus of the guides. I see the first part of creating an atmosphere for education in our home as just making sure we invite the Lord to be a real part of it, every day.

Read in the Comfort of Your Home

Where do you like to read a book? I love to read a book cuddled up with a fuzzy blanket on the couch in my living room, preferably with the fireplace on and a steaming cup of coffee on the end table next to me. Why can’t our children enjoy reading books like this? Mine do. Each has his own place he likes to read, with his favorite blanket, and with his favorite snack or beverage. Heart of Dakota adds living books that often become favorites to this ‘comfort at home’ picture, and voila! You have yourself an atmosphere for education in the comfort of your home that makes you and your children really enjoy being there!

Write in the Comfort of Your Home

Where do you like to write a letter, a card, or take notes on something? I love to write in a well-lighted area, on a sturdy surface at my kitchen table, with a pencil or a gel pen of a color of my choice, with the perfect paper for the task. Why can’t our children enjoy writing like this? Mine do. Each has his own place he likes to write, with his favorite pencil or coloring utensil, and Heart of Dakota takes care of the proper paper for the task.

Meet with the Lord in the Comfort of Your Home

Where do you like to do your Bible quiet time? I love to do my Bible quiet time in my cozy bed, under my warm covers, first thing in the morning, in my pj’s, with my glasses on, with just my lamp on, with my door shut, with my favorite devotional and pretty journal and a steaming cup of hazelnut coffee on my bedstand that I stumbled downstairs to hastily make.  Why can’t our children enjoy doing their Bible quiet time like this? Mine do. Each does his own Heart of Dakota Bible time in his room in his cozy bed, under his warm covers, first thing in the morning, in his pj’s, with his lamp on, with his door shut, with his HOD Bible time and special Common Place Book, and tea or granola or a twilight turtle on his bedstand.

Take Action

I want to encourage you to simplify and love your homeschool life by taking advantage of the comfort of home!  What can you do today to fully enjoy teaching your children in your home?  Likewise, what can you do today to fully help your children enjoy being homeschooled in the comfort of your home? There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort, so why not start creating this atmosphere of education today?

In Christ,


What should my student use for literature when using World History for 11th grade?

Dear Carrie

What should my student use for literature if she is using the World History guide for 11th grade?

Dear Carrie,

I have always loved your book choices! However, my oldest will be a junior next year. Sadly, she won’t be able to finish all of the high school guides. She is using Heart of Dakota’s World Geography for 10th grade. Next year when she is a junior, she will be using World History. I am wondering if I should just follow the literature path you have laid out in World History? Since we’ve used Heart of Dakota since she’s been in 5th grade, she has obviously read tons of great books! I just don’t want to miss some of the classics that she should have. So, my question is, what are your thoughts on what she should use for literature if she is using World History for 11th grade?


“Ms. Unsure About Literature When Using World History for 11th Grade”

Dear “Ms. Unsure About Literature When Using World History for 11th Grade,”

As far as the novels for the literature portion, I made a point to put novels I consider especially important in the opening guides of the high school program. The novels in the World Geography guide are classics that are a tremendous stepping stone to the more difficult reading and difficult themes found in the World History guide’s literature.

The novels in the World History literature plans are memorable and timeless.

I believe many of the novels in the literature portion of the World History guide are unmatched for their quality and their themes, while still being enjoyable to read. They are memorable and timeless, lingering in the mind long after the book is completed.  They have stood the test of time and remain classics today.

I had my oldest son read several of these books as a senior, as I didn’t have the rest of the high school guides written, and I felt these novels were not to be missed.

I felt these novels were so important that I had my oldest son read several on that list when he was a senior (as I didn’t have all of the high school guides written yet). This was simply because I did not want him to exit high school without experiencing those books. He read Ben-Hur, The Count of Monte Cristo, and Les Miserables (along with other novels I added for his final year of high school). They were some of his favorite books of that year. My husband read all 3 as well, simply because our son was so enthused about them. I cannot say enough about these titles. The life lessons to be learned as students read these books, the quotable lines of the characters, the rich language, and the allusions to the Bible in these books are amazing.

Thoughts on The Scarlet Pimpernel and Pearl Maiden

My oldest son also chose to read several sequels to The Scarlet Pimpernel. This was simply because he loved the first one so much! In fact, my husband greatly enjoyed The Scarlet Pimpernel too. My older sister, who was a high school literature teacher and has homeschooled her 7 kiddos, said it was one of her favorites of all time.  This makes The Scarlet Pimpernel a winner here. Our son had read the other books on the World History literature list in previous years, with the exception of Pearl Maiden, which we included because of its terrific themes and because it is a great Haggard book (much preferred by me over Haggard’s classic King Solomon’s Mines, which I did not like due to its dark violence).

Thoughts on A Man for All Seasons

After watching the movie version of A Man for All Seasons, and having our pastor refer to it in a sermon, my husband and I discovered that play was such a picture into the time of Henry the VIII that it had to be included. What a classic I found it to be after I read it alongside the study of that time period! It brings up another side to Cranmer and Luther and another side to the conflict between the Church of England and the Catholic Church. This book too shows up on many classic book lists for a reason!

Thoughts on King Arthur

I believe reading about the legend of King Arthur, even with the character of Merlin, is important. This is because the legends of Arthur are a part of understanding medieval times. They show Britain at a time when the Christian religion was overtaking the religion of the Celtic Druids of the past. Known for his themes of bravery, honor, and love, Howard Pyle’s Arthur with his noble traits illustrates the selflessness a king should have for his people. It was for these traits that Arthur is remembered in legend, and those legends show up in so many ways everywhere! Please note that this is the only version of the Arthurian legends that we recommend!

Thoughts on Julius Caesar and Animal Farm

Julius Caesar is one of the “tamer” of Shakespeare’s plays innuendo-wise. It also omits the bawdy humor that is found in other Shakespeare plays. Exploring the issue of how the thirst for power affects those who desire it is a good life lesson that comes out in Julius Caesar. Furthermore, the play draws you in with the inner-workings of who is really able to be trusted as you see the conspiracy play out (and watch its aftermath). Animal Farm is a book that really shows socialism in a way that students will never forget. It is terrific to read along with the time period of WWII, which is where I included it.

Thoughts on The Celestial Railroad

The Celestial Railroad is a wonderful book to read after reading Pilgrim’s Progress. This is because Hawthorne’s version of travel to the Celestial City has been updated to reflect modern times. Travelers no longer have to walk to the city but can instead travel by train. Their burdens are no longer carried on their backs but instead are stowed in the luggage compartment! When Celestial Railroad is read as students are completing Pilgrim’s Progress, it has a huge impact! I chose to end the year with Celestial Railroad for this reason.

In Closing

As you can see, I wouldn’t want your student to miss the books on the World History literature list. I feel they are amazing classics that all students should read. In closing, I would recommend having your daughter use the World History literature this year. Truly, I hope she enjoys it as much as our sons did!



Why homeschool? Free Time for Personal Interests, Hobbies, and Skill Development

From Our House to Yours

Why should you homeschool?… Stop waiting for time to pass, and start choosing how to pass your time!

I bet a lot of you are like me and attended public or private school growing up. Large class sizes with one teacher often meant wasted time sitting at my desk. I would whittle hours of time away… just watching the clock and waiting.  Waiting for the teacher. More waiting for other students. Still more waiting for the class period to be over. Waiting for the bell to ring. More waiting for the lunch line to move. Even more waiting for the school bus to come. WAITING! Well, that brings me to one more reason why you should homeschool… so you can stop waiting for time to pass and start choosing how to pass your time!

Free time gives children time to pursue personal interests, develop  hobbies, and learn new skills.

There are so many things our children can do with their free time! When children are young, free time simply gives children time to think, to imagine, and to play!  Free time such as this for young children is the springboard for future interests, hobbies, and skills.  God has given each child different gifts and talents, and free time gives children time to discover them.

An Example of Free Time Helping Children Pursue Personal Interests

One of our sons as a young boy loved to build with legos, castillos, and blocks. Heart of Dakota‘s art, history, and science projects helped him learn how to build things systematically, step-by-step.  I was glad Heart of Dakota’s hands-on projects allowed for creativity, so he could design his own project rather than make a cookie-cutter project. Through the years, I have watched his creations become more and more intricate. With a lego computer program, I have seen ample 3-D creations be designed and then be built.  I imagine this personal interest could impact his future career, in a field such as drafting or engineering.

An Example of Free Time Helping Children Develop Hobbies

Our sons as young boys rode old 3-wheelers that my husband fixed up one at a time. They could often be seen racing around the yard on their 3-wheelers in the spring, summer, and fall. In the winter, they made a figure-eight track through the snow, hooked up a sled to their 3-wheelers and raced some more. I asked my husband for his brothers, who are excellent welders, to make small trailers to hook up to 3-wheelers. Soon I saw 3-wheelers with trailers whizzing to the garden to pick raspberries, down the gravel to exercise our dogs, and around the yard to pick up sticks.

One by one, each of the 3-wheelers broke down. They were old, so it was inevitable. I watched my husband fix each of the 3-wheelers, one by one, with whichever son owned the broken down 3-wheeler. Recently, I watched one of our sons rebuild an entire 3-wheeler with my husband’s help. I believe this will be a lifelong hobby for this son!

An Example of Free Time Helping Students Develop New Skills

Our sons as young boys built a tiny snow fort that promptly fell down. However, as they matured, they discovered making snow ‘bricks’ out of ice by adding water to slabs of snow made stronger bricks. I watched their tiny snow fort grow to a massive snow fort through the years.  This was all under the tutelage of one of our sons. He took a keen interest in building things, systematically, step-by-step in a way that would cause them to last.

I watched him lead his brothers in carefully creating a final fort that would withstand the elements for longer and longer periods of time.  In fact, I took a picture of one of their snow forts surrounded by grass!  The fort withstood the spring’s warmer temperatures for longer than I’d have imagined!  A few years later, I watched as this son built our retaining wall with cement bricks using a similar concept! Brick by brick, the retaining wall emerged, and it still stands strong today!

In Closing

I have found giving our sons free time gives them time to pursue personal interests, develop hobbies, and learn new skills. I think you would find the same to be true with your own children! So, in closing, why should you homeschool? So your children can have free time to discover the gifts and talents the Lord has given them! Why not homeschool, so you can stop waiting for time to pass, and start choosing how to pass time?!?

In Christ,


Is your child transitioning to independent reading?

Teaching Tip: 

Is your child transitioning to independent reading?

Do you have a child who has “completed” phonics instruction and is almost through the Emerging Reader Set? Is your child transitioning to reading books with multiple paragraphs on each page? If so, it’s important to realize that this exciting new stage of reading can come with a new pitfall. At this stage of reading, children may have difficulty keeping the storyline in mind as they read.

How can you help your child construct meaning as he/she reads?

To aid in this process, you may have to help your child construct meaning as he/she reads. This can be done by taking turns with your child as he/she reads aloud. You can alternate readers by sentence or by paragraph. This gives your child a break from the work of reading and allows him/her to figure out the storyline while listening to you read. Just be sure not to fall into the trap of reading everything to your child! Otherwise, this will no longer be a transitional stage working toward independence.

Less help is needed as your child becomes a stronger reader.

As your child becomes a stronger reader, less help from you will be needed. Also, not all children will need this help. At this stage, it is a good idea to be on the watch for reader fatigue, frustration, or lack of comprehension. These are signs your child may need this transitional step on the road to becoming a more independent reader. Try helping your reader along the road to independence and see if your day goes better!


PS: If you’re interested, here’s another useful tip concerning the Emerging Reader Set:

Do you have a child using the Emerging Reader Set?