June Library Builder: Save 10% on the World Geography Boy Living Library Package!

Library Builder

Use coupon code JUNE-LIBRARY for 10% on this month’s Library Builder book set: The World Geography Boy Living Library Package!

We are excited to continue our  Heart of Dakota Library Builder book set promotion! On the 1st Wednesday of each month we will be promoting one of our book sets with a 10% coupon code. For this month’s special, use coupon code JUNE-LIBRARY on our website for the entire month of June to apply the savings to your order. The coupon applies to the World Geography Boy Living Library set of books.   To view all of the books in this set, just click here! (Scroll down until you see the “Living Library with Queen Sheba’s Ring (for boys)” section.)

How are the Living Library sets used in World Geography?

(From the package description in our online store):

“The books in this package are not intended to fulfill your student’s high school literature credit, as students are scheduled in the ‘Literature’ portion of the World Geography guide to read separate higher-level literature to fulfill that need. Instead, the books in this package were chosen to make geography come alive and to help students experience various places around the globe through the pages of these books. This set is highly recommended, unless you need to economize, however it is not required to earn credit in World Geography.”

To see a credit and grading breakdown for our World Geography guide, have a look at this!

Use coupon code JUNE-LIBRARY to save!

To apply this month’s savings, just enter coupon code JUNE-LIBRARY on our website when you check out! We hope these books will be as treasured to you as they are to us!

Have a great rest of the week!
Heart of Dakota

PS: If you’d like a more in-depth look at what using World Geography looks like in your home, have a look at this article!

Explore the World in a Whole New Way… World Geography for High School

DITHOR Lessons and Projects with Two Students in Different Levels

Dear Carrie

How does a DITHOR lesson and project look with two students in different levels?

Dear Carrie,

How does a DITHOR “lesson” look with two students in different levels? I’m trying to figure out how we do this when they’re reading different books. If my boys are in different levels (older reading 4/5 and younger reading 2/3), but we are studying the same genre, do I choose the same project for them? Thanks!


“Ms. Please Describe a DITHOR Lesson and Project for Two Students in Different Levels in Heart of Dakota

Dear “Ms. Please Describe a DITHOR Lesson and Project for Two Students in Different Levels,”

You can choose the same project for your two students if desired, or you can do different projects. I often let my boys choose from among the project options. Sometimes they choose to do the same project, and other times they choose to do a different project. I just have the planning meeting with them on the “first” project day, as laid out in the guide. Then, I typically break the task down for them, so they know what to do each day for 5 days. I keep the project time each day the same as a typical DITHOR lesson, so in that way the project does not take over our day.

I use the first day of our scheduled DITHOR time to map out the pages they’ll be reading and choose a kick-off.

One thing I do to keep DITHOR going well throughout the year, is on the first day during our scheduled DITHOR time, I just sit down with the kiddos and map out the pages they’ll be reading in their Student Books and also choose a kick-off. I count that as my first DITHOR day. Then, I put the guide away, and the next day we do the kick-off. As each day passes I just teach through the guide, one day at a time, and when I get to the project day, we just pick the project and map it out. Then, we put the guide away. The next day we begin the project.

I plan DITHOR right within my school day to avoid planning in the evenings.

This way, I don’t have to do planning at night ahead of time but can just sit down and do it when it comes up in my DITHOR time during the school day. If I need a bit of planning for DITHOR in which the kiddos aren’t needing to be present, I send them to do their next subject instead. It sometimes adds a few days to DITHOR to do it this way, but it keeps us going forward steadily and keeps me from having any planning to do in the evenings. It makes DITHOR fit right within the school day, and I’m never caught unprepared. DITHOR truly can be open-and-go, as long as you’ve chosen the books to read. But, if I do come across something I’m not ready for, I just stop and plan it then and there and then do it with the kiddos the next day.

My oldest two sons reaped the benefits of DITHOR in high school level literature.

My oldest two sons really reaped the benefits from DITHOR with a seamless transition to high school level literature. Their moral discernment far outweighs what I had book-wise when I was their age too! They actually choose to read classic novels and enjoy themselves in the process. Their love of reading was truly encouraged with DITHOR, and I am thankful daily for the discussions we had about literature in light of the Bible throughout their elementary and middle school years thanks to DITHOR. I hope you have a great start to DITHOR!


Five Ways to Celebrate Your Heart of Dakota Box Day

From Our House to Yours

Celebrate your very own Heart of Dakota box day!

When you order your homeschooling curricula from Heart of Dakota, you get to celebrate your very own ‘box day!’ Often times, by the time you order, our family has actually gotten to know you. Through helping on the phone, at conventions, through email or FB, on the blog or HOD Message Board, we often know you personally. As I see our sons and nephews picking your orders and packing your boxes, I envision your ‘box day!’ Through the past  decades, we’ve received pictures of families enjoying their ‘box day.’ We love these pictures! I’ve put them in our HOD Photobooks, on our message board, and even on my office wall.  We feel so blessed you are supporting our small family business by choosing to order from us. We thank God for you! That is why we take special joy in the emails, pictures, and phones calls we’ve received through the years capturing that brown HOD box day (or a white HOD box day, if you’ve been with us from the start).

Capture your box day in pictures!

I think the number one most celebrated way to remember box day is to capture it in pictures!  Of all the pictures we’ve received of box days, this is the one we see most often. Year after year, we see children growing up with Heart of Dakota celebrating their box days! Smiling for the camera, we see beautiful children full of joy posing with their HOD materials!  Often, they like to spread all of their books and CDs and things out in front of them like a buffet of living materials they can’t quite believe is all theirs! These pictures are precious to us. I often get to share them with our sons and nephews, as there is usually a brown HOD box and a massive pile of packing paper in the photo. These boxes and paper are special – our sons and nephews put their hands on them, and they packed them thinking of your children enjoying Heart of Dakota. We love it when families capture their box day in pictures!

Unpack, sort, and re-wrap your HOD things in gift wrap and bows!

If you have multiple children, each Heart of Dakota box will contain a mixture of your children’s things. Because of this, often times, moms will unpack the HOD boxes and separate each child’s things for the homeschool year. Then, moms will lovingly put them back into a box (or two – hey, we love books at HOD) for each child. Wrapping each box in gift wrap and bows, each child gets to open their box(es) and see what amazing books and resources he or she will enjoy for the year. The look on these children’s faces as they open their gift-wrapped boxes is priceless!  We love it when families gift wrap their HOD things for their children!

Hide and seek your HOD things for box day!

One of the more creative box days we have seen is the hide and seek box day! Often times moms do the sorting and piling of resources first. But then, they hide each child’s Heart of Dakota repacked box somewhere in the house. Let me tell you, we have some pretty creative moms!  I think if it were me looking for the box, I may not have found it. Of course, this appeals to the dads as well, which is probably why some of those boxes have been hidden in near-to-impossible places to find! We love it when families play hide and seek with their HOD things for box day!

Make a treasure hunt for your HOD things for box day!

Yet another fairly ‘out of the box’ idea (sorry, I couldn’t resist) for box day is to make a treasure hunt. With each clue, children come closer and closer to the treasure. Outdoors, indoors, at home, not at home – we’ve seen it all! Anywhere can be a good place for a treasure hunt for your HOD box day!  We love it when families make a treasure hunt for their HOD box day!

Sip your coffee, and quietly enjoy your own HOD box day as a homeschool mom!

Finally, one of the least captured on camera box days that is one of my favorites is simply opening your HOD boxes as a homeschool mom yourself! We don’t receive many pictures of this – any, actually. Homeschool moms are humble. They are focused on their children, not themselves. If someone makes it into the picture, it’s the children. But, I like to picture the box day I think many moms I get to know have. They are hardworking, humble, loving, amazing moms, who rarely take a moment to sit. I like to picture them receiving their HOD boxes and just sipping some good coffee, slowly unwrapping their boxes and dreaming of their year ahead. Lovingly fingering each book, unwrapping the beautiful notebook pages, smiling at picturing their children particularly loving this or that. It is a mental picture I have, and I love picturing moms quietly opening their HOD boxes and dreaming of their year ahead!

No matter how you enjoy your HOD box day, our family thanks you!  We know you have a choice in who to support when you order things. What a privilege it is to have you support HOD by ordering from us!  May the Lord richly bless your upcoming homeschool year, and may you have a wonderful box day, however you would most enjoy it!

Love in Christ,


Schedule a healthy mid-morning snack time.

Teaching Tip:

Make sure your students aren’t hungry during school time.

Here is one simple tip that can really make a big impact on your day! Make sure your students aren’t hungry during school time. If you think about it, what happens when you are hungry? Once your own stomach starts to protest that it is need of food, your mind can often think of little else. The same is true for students.

Schedule a healthy mid-morning snack time.

To combat the tummy rumbles before they start, be sure to schedule a healthy snack time sometime during the mid-morning. We have our snack time around 10:30. I have a list of snack choices on our cupboard door. My kiddos have a snack time scheduled so they know when to go and get a snack for themselves. My little ones must have their snack at the kitchen table. My older ones can take their snack to their work area and keep on working.

What are some ideas for snacks?

Our snack choice list includes the following: applesauce, banana, yogurt raisins, mountain mix, mixed nuts, dried fruit, Clif bar, Craisins, oatmeal bar, yogurt or gogurt, mandarin orange cup, diced peach cup, diced pear cup, peanut butter crackers, goldfish crackers, Cheez-its, pretzels, teddy grahams, or a cheese stick. For those snacks that are eaten by hand, we bought small dishwasher safe glass cups that are one serving size. The kiddos use the small cups for dishing out snacks like yogurt raisins, mountain mix, or dried fruit. That way they don’t get too much!

Try adding a mid-morning snack to your schedule.

Try adding a mid-morning snack time to your schedule! See if your kiddos’ sense of urgency for lunch is abated (allowing them to concentrate better). I know it works here! Who knows? You may even enjoy having a snack time too!


Gunner’s Run: Bringing World War II history to life

History with Heart of Dakota

Pilot to gunners. Keep your eyes open. We’re almost to target. By now every German fighter in the area knows where to find us.”

These are the opening sentences in one of my favorite living books ever: Gunner’s Run. Gunner’s Run tells the story of Jim Yoder, a fictional waist gunner for an American B-24 Liberator bomber during the Second World War. One day, during a fateful raid on the German shipyard at Kiel, Jim’s plane is struck by flak and he is forced to parachute out.

Upon landing, he is captured by the Germans, but soon manages to escape captivity. Following his successful escape, he quickly realizes that he is alone…and hundreds of miles deep into enemy territory. Undaunted, he sets out on a journey across Western Europe in an effort to reach England. Along the way, he comes into contact with members of the French resistance and learns how to evade detection in occupied Europe. Will he make it out? Will he be recaptured or – even worse – shot as a spy? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

Why I love this book

First and foremost, Gunner’s Run is a Charlotte Mason-style living book. Better than most textbooks, it makes the history come to life and stays with you long after you turn the last page. It’s one thing to know the facts regarding the air war and the underground resistance during World War II. It’s entirely another thing (and much more memorable) to vicariously experience it for yourself!

Second, Gunner’s Run is historically-accurate. As both a history major in college and a lifelong World War 2 history buff, one of my pet peeves is to read books where the historical backdrop is portrayed incorrectly. Maybe it’s just me, but reading books that do this is like hearing the proverbial nails on the chalkboard. I have a really hard time enjoying those books! At the same time, I’ve also read countless books where the history is correct, but the books have no life in them. Reading those books is comparable to eating sawdust…something to be “gotten through” rather than enjoyed. Gunner’s Run falls into neither of these pitfalls. It is a book that accurately reflects the time period yet still is insanely-immersive to read.

Content notes

Content-wise, Gunner’s Run is very tasteful. For instance, while swearing and profanity were common enough in World War II bomber crews, the author makes reference to it but tactfully leaves it out of his characters’ dialogue.

With regard to violence, in my opinion the book takes an appropriate balance. Given that it is a story set during one of the most widespread wars in mankind’s history, combat violence is inescapable. Nonetheless, the main character does not relish in it. As a defensive gunner in a bomber aircraft, despite his elation at shooting down a German fighter bent on blasting them from the sky, he is relieved to see the pilot bail out successfully.

Also, while the author doesn’t shy away from mentioning war violence (such as the “bloodstained bodies” that were unloaded from bullet-torn bombers following each mission) he does not glorify the violence by describing it in minute, gory detail. Because of this, even young teenage readers can truly empathize with the hazards the main character faces without danger of becoming unduly traumatized.

Literary quality

Author Rick Barry isn’t afraid to use the correct names for things (Focke-Wulf 190, anyone?) but his penmanship carries readers through – even if they don’t necessarily know all of the period-correct lingo. This is no easy feat, but he pulls it off with flair. His style of writing naturally flows, making it easy to read without sounding choppy or “dumbed-down.” His main character, Jim Yoder, is relatable and genuinely likable. As the story progresses, Jim also grows in maturity. During his time behind enemy lines, Jim is not only portrayed as an Air Force gunner trying to survive his way through World War II, but also as a young man trying to make sense of where God is in all this.

Where in HOD can you find this book?

You can find Gunner’s Run in the Extension Package for Missions to Modern Marvels and the Living Library Packages for US History II.


Barry, Rick. Gunner’s Run. (Bob Jones University Press, 2007).

PS: Want to learn a little more about the B-24 Liberator bomber (and its connection to actor Jimmy Stewart)? Check out this short 3 minute video!