Is Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory meaty enough for 2nd grade?

Pondering Placement

Is Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory meaty enough for 2nd grade?

Hello to the Austin Family!

I’m planning to start Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory when my son starts 2nd grade. I’ve read some reviews from folks who have used it for 1st grade, but how about using it for 2nd grade? Is it meaty enough? How did your 7-8 year olds like it?

Thanks so much!!

I actually used Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory with two of my sons for second grade. I will say we all thoroughly enjoyed it. We really did find that the age range was right on target for us. It also provided a great foundation for Bigger Hearts for His Glory, which we used as a follow-up for third grade.

The level 2 spelling list and level 2 book pack works well to “up” the difficulty of Beyond Little Hearts.

For Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory, my sons did the Level 2 spelling lists in the back of the guide. They used the last half of the math lessons in Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory for Singapore 1B and then moved on to the Appendix schedule for Singapore 2A for the second half of the year. Drawn into the Heart of Reading Level 2/3 with the more difficult books in the Level 2 book pack worked well for reading instruction.

Our sons were also able to read all of the science selections themselves, which they really loved (and I loved their growing independence). Likewise, they read some of the history selections to themselves (and could have read even more, except I wanted to keep that cuddle up and read time with me). They were able to copy all of the poems each week by doing a stanza or so each day. At the end of the year  they ended up with a beautiful poetry notebook.

Beyond Little Hearts works well for either a first or a second grade program. 

We found the once a week grammar lessons to be a short and sweet introduction to the more formal Rod and Staff grammar used in Bigger Hearts for His Glory. The minimal writing required in Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory was a plus for us. Then my sons were old enough to handle the more difficult writing required in Bigger Hearts for His Glory. Even my oldest son listened in and enjoyed the read-alouds from the Storytime part of Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory, since we read them aloud at lunchtime.

So, Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory works well for either a first or a second grade program. Be sure to take a moment to look at the placement chart on our site if you haven’t. That is the best way to tell which program will suit your son best.

For proper math placement, you can use the free and accurate printable math placement tests for Singapore Primary Mathematics 3rd and U.S. Edition.

As always, our family carries all of the needed resources for Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory. You can check out these resources on our Heart of Dakota website here.

Or, just give us a call at 605-428-4068, and we’d be happy to help with any further questions. Please do leave us a message if we don’t answer right away, as we will probably be homeschooling ourselves!!! We usually return phone calls within 48 hours.


Please Explain Where Summarizing Comes into Narration

Dear Carrie

My question is, where does summarizing come in?

Dear Carrie,

I understand the point of oral and written narrations is to have my children retell as much as they can. Also the point is to “borrow” some of the author’s language from the reading. I’ve read a couple threads on that! However, I feel like I still push for more of a summary (give me the main points) than I should. I am trying to get it right. Especially with my younger two who will catch on to this more quickly if I start out the correct way! My question is, where does summarizing come in? Is that helpful to be able to gather the main points from your reading as well? Please forgive me if I sound silly, or the answer is obvious, but if you could explain it to me? I’d love to hear!

“Please Explain Where Summarizing Comes In”

Dear “Please Explain Where Summarizing Comes In,”

This is a good question, and I’ll do my best to answer from my perspective to show the direction Heart of Dakota takes with this! To me, Charlotte Mason style oral narration, which later becomes written narration, focuses on the child making sense of what was read by sharing what stood out to him/her in the reading. Children are to originally do this by borrowing words and phrasing from the author and eventually by moving toward more ownership of their narrations (still narrating in the style of the author’s writing but not really reciting word-for-word anymore what the author said).

Summarizing is a different skill than oral narration or written narration.

Rather than looking for a certain series of main points, the child is to share what struck him/her from the reading, making the narration process personalized to each child, rather than looking for a one right answer type of narration where everyone’s narration looks the same. The skill of orally narrating in this manner leads very well into written narration done in this same manner. So, written narrations aren’t meant to necessarily be a summary. Instead they are to share the flavor of the author’s writing from the reader’s perspective.

Narrations capture the flavor and style of the author.

Some children are more drawn to summarizing simply because they are “big picture” thinkers. My oldest son is definitely that way. So, narrating in a more summary-like manner for him does not make that type of narrating “wrong”. But if I start looking for him to include certain key points and requiring him to have those in his narration, then the lesson has strayed into a summarizing lesson rather than a narrating opportunity.

I will share that even though my oldest son thinks in main idea steps, his narrations still capture the flavor and style of the author, which is another key difference in summarizing versus narrating. Written summaries are often written more like an outline or like a note-taking exercise. Details are not abounding and using wording from the author or of your own style is not a focus. Instead, a summary often reads like a succinct paragraph. There is little extra flavor and the author’s style is not evident.

In contrast to my oldest son, my next son in line is a detailed child. He is very descriptive in his narrations and can get very lengthy when narrating, yet does it beautifully. I share this to show you one thing. Although my two oldest sons are different in their approach to narrating, they both do it well. One in a more summary fashion (in the author’s style). One in a very descriptive fashion (often giving very long narrations). Yet, each son is a good writer, both in creative writing and in more formulistic writing, like with the Medieval History-Based Writing Lessons, even though they may differ greatly in their narration style.

Summarizing is taught best through outlining and later note-taking of more textual material.

So, now with the groundwork laid, we come to your question. I see summarizing as an important skill that is taught best through outlining and later note-taking of more textual material, such as that found within history and science books. Using classic literature for a summary exercise means that much of the flavor and style of the story is being lost in the focus to get the main ideas down on paper. Narration, in contrast, is a child’s opportunity to share what struck him/her in the reading and what made the reading memorable to him/her. While this at first may not seem as important of a goal as being able to summarize, in truth it is the sifting and sorting and deciding which information to share that is the “work” of narrating which leaves the impression on the child’s mind for years to come.

Summarizing (as opposed to narrating) is more in the “one right answer” vein.

At Heart of Dakota, we first teach summarizing through outlining and note-taking through the Rod and Staff lessons and also through some of our writing programs such as Medieval History-Based Writing Lessons. Since summarizing is definitely a more formulistic skill, more in the “one right answer” vein, in our opinion it fits best in that category. It takes much of the personal part out of writing. It is a necessary skill and one I think comes more into focus as kiddos get older and have a need for it, which you can see represented in our older guides’ plans. But, I will say that even with my oldest sons’ different preferred styles of narrating, they can both summarize easily. I believe this comes from years of sifting and sorting through what they want to say (or write) within their oral or written narrations for the living books we’ve scheduled throughout Heart of Dakota. I hope that helps a bit as you ponder this!


Living Books Bring History to Life

From Our House to Yours

The “Living Library” set of books in USII brings history to life.

In USII, Wyatt has been reading I’ll Watch the Moon for his living library selection. This book is a page-turner that just cannot be put down! The characters have so much depth to them, and his favorite is a holocaust survivor who brings hope and peace to all who know him. There are some hard things to read in this book! But then life is hard sometimes, especially in the aftermath of the holocaust. He worked ahead and did multiple journal entries each day at the end of the book because he just had to know how it ended. I’ll Watch the Moon is a gem of a book that is a rare find – thank you Carrie for choosing so carefully! To read more  about the “Living Library” books in this guide click here.

US II - Detailed Highlighted Written Narration
US II – Detailed Highlighted Written Narration

In USII History, Wyatt has been learning about “I Like Ike,” the end of the Korean War, Billy Graham, and McCarthyism. He did a detailed high-lighted written narration about his reading from America: The Last Best Hope. Answering some wonderful critical thinking questions really got him thinking deeply about what he read. The critical thinking question “State Department Worker: What should you tell the Senate Foreign Relations Committee?” put him in the role of decision maker. Reading the actual outcome is always interesting as well!!!

Writing a good research paper in World Geography takes . . . research!

In World Geography, Riley wrote a persuasive essay for Essentials in Writing Grade 10. He researched and wrote about the dangers of chewing tobacco. We know some young adult men not much older than Riley that chew tobacco, and it really worries Riley. It would be wonderful for them to stop! His essay explains the dangers of chewing tobacco, and he did an excellent job researching it. I like that he can choose his own topics within the realm of the requirements of the assignment. This allows him to be personally invested in his essay right from the start!

World Geography - Notebooking
WG – Labeled picture of Davis’ invention of the backstaff

World Geography History has had Riley learning about Davis’ polar journeys, Hudson’s and Baffin’s Bay, and Raleigh’s Ed Dorado. He drew and labeled a picture of Davis’ invention of the backstaff, which allowed navigators to have more accurate latitude readings. An important quote from Davis was also copied in the notebook. Earlier he wrote a written narration about Martin Frobisher as well. He is truly loving learning about all of these brave explorers!

Watercolor paintings in Creation to Christ are a great connection to the poetry of Robert Frost.

In Creation to Christ, Emmett first learned about Alexander the Great conquering Persia and then moved on to learn about Alexander’s entire empire. He used strips of paper to make his own ancient map of the places he has been reading about. He also drew the famous horse Bucephalus. Timeline entries on the Peloponnesian War, Philip of Macedonia gaining control of Greece, and the Reign of Alexander the Great were added to his notebook as well. He researched Olympia, which was so fitting as the winter olympics are soon beginning here! Don’t you just love it when the Lord makes neat connections between HOD history and real life like this?!? Finally, he drew the famous Lighthouse of Alexandria.

Creation to Christ Watercolor Robert Frost
Watercolor of a sunset to go with Robert Frost poem “Acceptance”

One of his favorite activities this week was painting a lovely sunset to go with his Robert Frost poem “Acceptance.” He also enjoyed adding to his plant notebooking booklet. Researching and drawing the dead nettle plant, as well as copying a Bible verse beneath it, added another lovely entry to his growing plant book. Finally, we all enjoyed getting together at our house to watch the Superbowl!

What a terrific week! Hope you had a good homeschooling week too!!!

In Christ,

Do You Have an Efficient Chore Routine?

Teaching Tip

This is the next installment in our series of things to check if your school day seems to be running longer than you would like. I know this can happen to any of us, and hopefully these tips may help!

Do you have an efficient chore routine?

You might be wondering why I mention a chore routine on my list of things that can make your school day long. Yet, it is amazing how much joy and peace, not to mention time can be stolen by an inefficient chore routine. If you look around and see piles of laundry, dirty dishes, and clutter, how can you stay focused on school or even find a space to do school?

Conquer the reoccurring types of clutter.

The most important types of clutter to conquer are those that continually reoccur. Laundry, dirty dishes, school books, and toys are the most commonly reoccurring types of clutter in a homeschool home. These types of clutter can steal time and derail a homeschool day!! It is almost impossible to focus on school if you are schooling in the middle of a mess. So, a plan is needed to address these time-stealers.

An efficient chore routine includes a plan for laundry.

At our house, we have tried many different laundry routines through the years. The routine we use now is for each child to have his own laundry day. On Monday-Friday, the designated child for that day brings down his laundry hamper, sorts, and begins the first load of laundry. That child also helps fold and put away his laundry that day. It must be done by bedtime. We find having a day assigned to each child minimizes sorting. My husband and I have the same laundry day as the towel washing day. We take Saturdays and Sundays off from laundry.

An efficient chore routine includes a plan for dirty dishes.

Have you ever started making lunch only to realize you still have a sinkful of breakfast dishes? Now that my boys are eating big meals, the dishes can really pile up at our house. So, we assign the boys cleanup tasks after meals to keep the dishes under control. Our boys clear and wipe the table, dust bust the kitchen rug, wipe the counters, unload the dishwasher, rinse off and load dirty dishes, and take out the garbage. Our boys used to keep the same task for a long time, so each child knew exactly what to do after a meal. In that way the boys became very efficient at their chores. We also make sure to run the dishwasher every evening, so we have clean dishes in the morning.

An efficient chore routine includes a plan for putting away school books.

Schooling with Heart of Dakota means your house is filled with good books! But those good books need a place to be stored. At our house, we have a central cabinet where each younger child has a shelf for the books he is currently using in his guide right now. We have another cabinet where each child has a shelf or two for overflow books… or books the child is not using in his guide right now. We move books on and off the “current” shelf as needed. Each child also has a portable art box with basic art supplies. Our high school students have their own bookshelf near their work area containing all their books.

An efficient chore routine includes a plan for putting away toys.

Through the years, we have tried many plans for corralling toys. We cleared out a bottom cabinet in the kitchen to place storage tubs with toys for our 2-4 year olds. We used child protectors to keep the little ones out for awhile. Only one tub of toys was allowed out at time. It had to be picked up before another one could be gotten out. We turned our dining room into a playroom and put shelves on our walls. We lined our shelves with fabric cubes and placed the toys inside. Whatever you decide to do for toy storage, be sure that a routine for putting away toys is part of the plan. Also, try to find a plan where you don’t have to view the clutter of toy storage. Store toys in cabinets, fabric cubes, under bed storage tubs, or closets. In this way the view is more pleasing and less cluttered.

Make laundry, dishes, school books, and toy cleanup a part of your chore routine.

Once you have a plan for laundry, dishes, school books, and toys, make it a part of your chore routine. Involve your kiddos in the routine. Train them to do what they are able. This training will pay off as they mature! It is alright to train them to do only a few tasks well. We often keep the same tasks for each child for a year. This makes my time spent training worthwhile! Try some new chore routines and see what you think!


Valentine’s Day Fun – Why Do You “Heart” Heart of Dakota?

More Than a Charlotte Mason Moment

Valentine’s Day Fun – Why do you “heart” Heart of Dakota?

Happy Valentine’s Day to our fellow Heart of Dakota moms! We thought this would be fun to do, a kind of “count our blessings” for Valentine’s Day if you will. And who better to do this with than all of you?!? So here goes…

Why I “heart” Heart of Dakota…

1. I love Heart of Dakota because it helps me keep my priorities straight. A quality education is highly valued by our family, and to us that includes educating the heart as well as the mind. Heart of Dakota does both!

2. Our children use excellent living books every single day, but they use their Bibles every single day too. Providing a rich diet of literature that makes learning come alive is important in our homeschool. Heart of Dakota has chosen outstanding living books for virtually every area of learning. From history to science, from reading to devotions, our day is filled with books we love.

3. We have three sons, so another goal of ours is for our sons to be able to provide well for their own families someday, which means they need to be competitive when it comes to earning a salary. Heart of Dakota is giving our children an incredibly strong education that is preparing them well for their future.

4. Finally, we want to have a happy homeschooling environment, which means I need to be able to school in a timely fashion, in an enjoyable way, and in a manner that doesn’t require me to leave the home. Heart of Dakota’s guides are a treasure to me. They are truly open and go, and they help me organize my day in a balanced way that allows us to get the maximum benefit out of our homeschooling time together.

I still love what I do!

I’ve been teaching Heart of Dakota for 16 years, and I still love what I do. Charlotte Mason said education should be three things…

“Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.”

With Heart of Dakota, I have all three! What can be better that that?!? I can’t wait to read why you “heart” Heart of Dakota!

Love in Christ to all our favorite Heart of Dakota ladies this 2018 Valentine’s Day!!!


PS – If you wanted to stroll down memory lane, you may also want to check out this link to our Heart of Dakota message board where I posted this same question back in 2011.