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?

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!



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?

Placement for Switching to Homeschool with Heart of Dakota Mid-Year

Pondering Placement

Please help me with placement for my 3rd grade daughter, as I switch to Heart of Dakota’s homeschool curriculum mid-year.

I am switching my 9 year old daughter to Heart of Dakota mid-year. We did Little Hearts for His Glory for first grade, and Beyond for second grade. Then, I thought I should try something else – not really sure why because we liked what we were doing. Now we are in week 18 of a different homeschool curriculum for 3rd grade. We are miserable. My daughter hates to write, and we have not done much notebooking or narrating this year. I am reading books to her, but we are not doing anything else with them. We’ve done a little copywork, but not much. We are doing math and spelling with other programs than Heart of Dakota (HOD). We’re also using BJU’s writing/English program a few days a week, but I am not seeing the growth in her like I did with Heart of Dakota (HOD).

The only two things I have liked this year are from Heart of Dakota.

I loved the look of HOD’s Emerging Reader’s Set, so I did get those. However, I am not having my daughter do any kind of literature study with them. I also liked HOD’s recommendation for R & S English 2, so we are doing that. Really the only two things I have liked doing this year are from HOD. She reads well and is really enjoying the books in the Emerging Reader’s Set. Right now, she is reading Tornado and can’t put it down! But then when she finishes reading, I don’t do anything with her. I feel like I’ve wasted this whole year. I’m not sure why it took me so long to realize it.

Should I switch my daughter to full-speed Bigger Hearts or half-speed Preparing Hearts?

So, now I know I want to make the switch back to HOD. But, I am wondering if I should just stop what we are doing now and switch to Bigger Hearts for His Glory? But then, she won’t finish all of HOD’s high school guides. So, would it be better to have her go half-speed with Preparing Hearts for His Glory? Help!!!

Carrie’s Reply:

Thank you for sharing about your daughter!  From what you’ve shared so far, I would lean toward placing her in Bigger Hearts. The jump up to Preparing with the struggles you mentioned in writing and narrating would be very challenging. Bigger is such a foundational year in helping kiddos grow in the areas of writing, reading, copywork, and spelling. I wouldn’t want your daughter to miss that. So, placement in Bigger Hearts makes good sense.

I would recommend finishing R & S English 2 and dropping BJU.

Whenever you head into Bigger, I would just finish Rod and Staff English 2 and move into Rod and Staff English 3. I wouldn’t use both BJU and Rod and Staff for English as you go up, because you’ll be double-dipping.  We don’t want her worn out from writing for grammar when we want to get her copying daily for practice. You wouldn’t need to continue on with BJU for writing either, as Rod and Staff will include writing in the coming levels when she is more mature and ready for it.

I would recommend using studied dictation for spelling, and I’d keep going with your math if it is working.

For spelling, I’d be inclined to switch her to studied dictation (as included in Bigger‘s Appendix). If you would rather continue with the spelling you are using, you surely could! However, I will say Charlotte Mason’s method of studied dictation is a very effective method for teaching spelling in a time conscious way. No matter what, I wouldn’t do both spelling programs though, as her day will get very long. If your math is working well, I’d just keep on going with it. If it is not, you can give your daughter the Singapore Primary Math placement test by clicking here.

I would finish the Emerging Reader’s Set and then move into Drawn into the Heart of Reading.

It sounds like she is doing well with the Emerging Readers, and she can just finish them out. I would have her start doing the follow-up comprehension questions with the remaining Emerging Reader’s Set books. Then, she can head into Drawn into the Heart of Reading Level 2/3 (DITHR). You can have her use the DITHR Level 2 Book Pack, or books of your own choosing. The Sample Book Ideas List provides some good books to choose from as well.

Full-Speed Bigger Hearts vs. Half-speed Preparing

Believe it or not, Bigger at full-speed with daily grammar, math, dictation, and DITHR will probably be harder than half-time Preparing. It sounds like your sweet daughter would be very well placed in Bigger and be challenged by the work. Being well-placed means that she will be getting what she needs as you head into each successive guide. Shooting too high can really result in frustration and in being unsure of how much to downsize each day to suit your child’s needs. It’s so much better to be accurately placed and know you can expect your child to do all that is within the guide each day. There are many families who will not finish all of the HOD guides, and that is fine. We can make sure that your daughter still gets what she needs to count credits for graduation and for her future plans.


Extension Package: More Mature Reading, Follow-up Skills, and Assignments for Older Students

Dear Carrie

Is the Extension Package just an extra set of books, or does it include skills that are pertinent to students being older?

Dear Carrie,

I used Heart of Dakota and loved it! We then put our daughters in public school due to health problems. But, I’m excited to be returning! I looked at the placement chart. My daughters place best in Preparing Hearts for His Glory. My daughter, who is in 4th grade this year, is a very slow reader.  On the contrary, my daughter in 5th grade is a very advanced reader. However, due to the writing, both of them are not ready for Creation to Christ. So, I have placed them in Preparing Hearts for His Glory.  My question is about the Extension Package.  Is the Extension Package just a set of more books? If so, I probably will just let her choose other books on her own. Or, does the Extension Package include reading and assignments that are pertinent to her being a 5th grader?


“Ms. Please Help Explain the Extension Package”

Dear “Ms. Please Help Explain the Extension Package,”

The Extension Packages are so much more than just extra books to read. I’m glad you asked!  If you have a child in the extension range, they are actually a needed part of the program. This is because I chose the books to show a different part of history or a different point of view than what is being covered elsewhere in the history study. The books are designed to deepen the study in this manner.

Older students in the extension package age range need to be reading their own history at a higher reading level.

The books are also intended for the student to be reading on his/her own in order to raise the reading level of the history material being studied by the older child. This is necessary in Preparing, because if you are still reading aloud the history as scheduled in the guide, an older child should also be reading his/her own history material.

Follow-up assignments are designed to address higher level skills for older students.

The oral narrations, written narrations, and notebook assignments are designed to address skills that an older student should be practicing and showing progress in due to their age level. These assignments aren’t meant to be optional for an older student. So, if you choose to forego the extension books for a child in the extension range of a program, you are missing the part of the program that makes it extend for that age level.

Extension package book are interesting, engaging, and enjoyable.

Finally, the extension books are also very interesting and engaging, and kiddos who do the extension books do truly enjoy them!  If you have a child in the extension range, you should plan for these books to be a daily part of Preparing Hearts as intended. Drawn into the Heart of Reading is the place to allow your daughter to read books of her own choosing. DITHR works with any books you choose and will work well in that capacity for your older daughter.



P. S. To read more about Heart of Dakota, click here!