Use coupon code MAY-LIBRARY for 10% off both variants of the Emerging Reader set!

Library Builder

Use coupon code MAY-LIBRARY for 10% off both variants of the Emerging Reader set!

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 MAY-LIBRARY on our website for the entire month of May to save 10% on both variants of the Emerging Reader set. To view all of the books in this set, just click here!

How does the Emerging Reader set work?

The only difference between the two sets is the Bible. The Early Reader’s Bible is a little bit easier for your child to read than the Beginner’s Bible.

Regardless of which Bible you choose, these books will be a great resource for your beginning reader! We suggest that this set of books be used right after phonics instruction. Since each book in this set gets progressively more difficult to read, the strength of your child’s reading ability will be constantly moving forward to that of an independent reader. Just follow the Scheduled Books for Emerging Readers found in the Appendix of Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory and in the Appendix of Bigger Hearts for His Glory. The schedule listed in the Appendix has been carefully planned to utilize interesting books that gradually increase in reading difficulty throughout the year.

Use coupon code MAY-LIBRARY to save!

To apply this month’s savings, just enter coupon code MAY-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: Here’s a helpful teaching tip on getting the most out of the Emerging Reader set!

A Mama with Fatigue and a Daughter Needing Time with Her

Dear Carrie

A Mama with Fatigue and a Daughter Needing Time with Her

My 8 year-old daughter was placed perfectly in Beyond. Then, she was sick for a good week. My other three children were sick for the next two weeks. We’ve all finally recovered, but it left us all so tired. My daughter has had a hard time returning to school. I’ve asked what’s wrong, and today she told me she doesn’t like to have to wait for mommy. I told her she can get out her copywork on her own. She can do the history by herself too, as I have it on CD. She keeps asking to do something together. Maybe I am expecting her to be too independent. She CAN read the history. The poetry copywork can be a bit much. I battle fatigue and other issues. For now, I’ve just put it aside. I’m too tired. She’s continuing to use CLE for some subjects, but I still prefer Beyond.


“Ms. Please Help This Mama with Fatigue Get Back to Beyond”

Dear “Ms. Please Help This Mama with Fatigue Get Back to Beyond,”

One thing that struck me in your post was your feeling of guilt over the current status of school at your house. As mamas, we can really get bogged down in guilt if we aren’t careful. It sounds like you have had a bout with sickness that has drained all of you. This is very trying on everyone, but most of all on the mama!

Encouragement to Address Both the Fatigue and the Guilt 

So, first I would encourage you to address the fatigue, and then address the guilt. To address the fatigue, I would get the kiddos to bed earlier and/or possibly let them sleep in an hour later in the morning for a few days or longer. I would also encourage you to try to get to bed earlier and to sleep a bit later in the morning, if you can. Usually after an illness, everyone’s sleep cycles are messed up. Extra sleep is needed to reset. Next, I would encourage all of you to drink a lot of water to flush out any lingering toxins. If you aren’t taking probiotic, you might consider adding something like that for a month or two. We have done so with our family and seen a difference. Vitamin D3 would also most likely be a help. It has made a huge difference in me!

To avoid further fatigue, you can return to schooling doing only half-days.

Next, I would encourage you to start back to schooling doing only half-days. This will take one hour and 15 minutes a day to do half-speed Beyond. I also think this will relieve the guilt, as you’ll feel that you are finally moving forward. I would strive to do a half day every day consistently. As far as the Beyond poetry copywork, it is up to you as the parent to decide how much she is copying each day. If she is fatigued by the amount of copywork, then she is copying too much. From what you’ve shared, I think it would be a good idea to pull her copywork back to two lines done well each day. I also wouldn’t add anything to Beyond except what is in the guide. Doing other things like CLE on top of what is in Beyond will make your daughter’s day longer.

I would make a point to read aloud the Beyond history, science, and Bible, as it is important to figure out how to go forward.

Next, I would encourage you to make a point to read aloud the Beyond history, science, and Bible to your daughter (even if she can read them herself). It is you that she is wanting, and reading aloud those areas actually goes very quickly with the history taking 5-7 minutes, and the Bible and science less than that. You can read from your bed if needed, as I know I have had to on many occasions! In sharing these thoughts, I am not intending to minimize the fatigue that you are experiencing in any way. Instead, I am wanting to encourage you to be realistic that this is a lingering part of your life right now. So, it is important to figure out how to go forward in this stage.

What to Do If the Fatigue Is Too Much to Do Half-Speed Beyond

If the fatigue is such that you cannot do Beyond half-speed, you may want to consider doing a completely independent program for a year. Then, next year you could revisit placement in Heart of Dakota. I share this because it is tough on kiddos to bounce back and forth between curricula and to be in a constant state of never really finishing anything. With this in mind, I would decide to do one or the other and set a goal to finish whatever you choose.

Questioning Our Children Isn’t Always Helpful

I would also encourage you to decide what is best for your family right now, rather than questioning your daughter to figure out what she wants. I know I often questioned my oldest son (who has graduated now) in the past. With a lack of continuity, kiddos lose their perspective as to what doing a curriculum really feels like. They can only remember parts of it, and if its been awhile since they were in the pattern of doing school with it daily, the thoughts they have about it will be scattered at best. Questioning children also gives the impression that they can pick the curriculum. It also makes them think you will stop and start things based on their will. This is honestly giving children more power than they should have at that young age.

The Importance of Making a Plan to Function Within the Current Reality

It is amazing to me in my own homeschool journey that every year sees some new situation or unexpected problems at our house that could prevent us from schooling. As the years have passed I have discovered that if I am going to homeschool, I have to make a plan of how to function within the reality that we have at the time, instead of waiting for everything to return to normal. Often, the situation we are experiencing is the “new normal.” I share this not to discourage you but to encourage you to assess the situation and see if you can school within it. Or, if you simply cannot… then to recognize that as well.

The Lord will help you and honor your heart if you lay your requests at His feet!

Sometimes, the best curriculum is the one that gets done. For us that is Heart of Dakota. For you it might not be right now. Just know that the Lord will help you and will honor your heart if you lay your requests at His feet. I pray He will surround you with His love and that you will feel His peace in your decisions.


How do I spread out Beyond and Bigger, so my son does Preparing at 9 years old?

Pondering Placement

Question: How do I spread out Beyond and Bigger, so my son does Preparing at 9 years old?

I am new to Heart of Dakota, and my oldest will be 6 next month. I’m fairly certain he places in Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory.  He reads books like Frog and Toad with no help from me. I can read just about anything aloud to him. He does like pictures, but he can listen/read books with just a few pictures too. We read several “Uncle Arthur’s Bedtime Stories” each night. He loves this and usually draws several pictures after the reading. I really love the look of the Emerging Reader’s Set for him. However, if he starts in this level, I’m afraid he may be missing phonics instruction. He also writes well – several sentences on his own as well as letters to other people. My other son is wiggly, but this son is not.

I was thinking of doing Beyond Little Hearts and Bigger Hearts over 3 years. This is because I’ve read some concerns about going into Preparing Hearts on the young end. It seems others for some reason don’t want to go into Preparing Hearts before a certain age/grade (like age 9 or 4th grade). I think it’s because of the maturity level. So, I guess he would not be able to go straight through. I don’t feel Little Hearts for His Glory is the right placement for him. So, if I can’t do Preparing with him at age 8, how should I slow down Beyond and Bigger to make them stretch out longer? Help!

Carrie’s Reply: First-born children often are accurately placed on the young side of the target age ranges.

As we’re looking at placement for your son, and thinking down the road, it’s good to know that Preparing has a target age range of 8-10 with extensions for ages 11-12. As we look at the target age range of the guide, you may find that those kiddos who come into the guide at the youngest age range are often first-born children who were just born ready to go. (This could be because the parent had the time to really sit and work with the child from an early age, since this was their first-born child). While this is not always true, it does seem to happen more often! Additionally, God seems to equip those first-born kiddos to lead! He often gifts them in a unique way, so they are self-starters. All of this, when combined with solid skills in the 3 R’s, makes these types of kiddos thrive at the youngest age range of the guides.

While Preparing Hearts does work well for 9 or 10 year olds, it also works well for 8 year olds who are appropriately placed.

I think you’ll also find that if you visit with others, those who feel a child “must” be 9 to do Preparing are usually not talking about their first-born. They are often families who are either new to Heart of Dakota and started a young child too high up in order to combine with an older sibling. Or, they may not have placed their 8 year old based on skill level and have come into Preparing unable to do what is asked. Or, they may have a struggling writer or reader. While Preparing does work well for 9 or 10 year olds, it also works for 8 year olds who are appropriately placed from the beginning. My own sister has had this situation with her two oldest boys, who have always come in on the youngest age range of the guides and excelled.

I would lean towards placing your 6 year old son in Beyond.

With this in mind, and with the skill level you’ve already shared that your son has in the 3R’s, I would lean toward placing him in Beyond. I’d go through all of the rest of his phonics using The Reading Lesson, prior to having him begin the Emerging Reader’s Set. However, I would plan on the Emerging Reader Set being his reading as you are going through Beyond. I think finishing up his phonics will not be a long process. The schedule for the Emerging Reader’s Set is in the Appendix of Beyond. It includes follow-up questions and narration prompts. I would do Math 1A/1B with the plans in Beyond. If he can handle full-speed, I see no reason to slow him down. Doing school 5 days a week at the Beyond level is very doable if a child is well-placed. I think you’ll have a great year!

You’ll be able to tell if you need to slow down at the start of Bigger Hearts.

When you get to Bigger Hearts if you need to slow down at the beginning, you’ll be able to tell. However, it might not be necessary to do so. I wouldn’t make a plan to formally slow down a guide. Usually, we only suggest that route if a child needs time to grow into the skills in the guide at the beginning for a bit, or if a family has multiple students and needs more time to work with a certain child (and then slowing down one child’s guide gives them this time).


Prepare for the school year by reading the guide’s “Introduction”!

Teaching Tip

Reading the guide’s “Introduction” is great preparation for the school year.

You may be beginning to turn your thoughts toward school. One of the best ways to prepare for the upcoming year is to read through your HOD guide’s “Introduction.” There is such a wealth of information in the “Introduction” that we should truly title it something else!

How does reading the “Introduction” help prepare you for the year?

The “Introduction” will give you a feel for how each area is handled in the guide and the goals for each subject. It will let you know what notebooks, binders, etc. are needed for each subject area. Reading the “Introduction” provides a great summary of what to expect for the coming year. The “Introduction” is the last part of the guide we write. In this way, we can be sure that it truly summarizes needed information for you in one place!

If you have students in different HOD guides, read only one guide’s “Introduction” each day.

If you will be teaching more than one Heart of Dakota guide, read the “Introduction” for different guides on different days. This will help you focus on one guide at a time and will keep you from getting overwhelmed.

Can you use the guide without reading the “Introduction?”

Of course you can skip reading the “Introduction” and just jump right in and teach. However, often when families do this they miss the big picture of the guide. They also miss out on some gems that are referred to in the “Introduction” and included in the Appendix.

So, let’s get started!

After more than 15 years of homeschooling my boys with HOD, I still read the “Introduction” at the start of my school year! So, grab a cup of tea or coffee, cuddle up with your highlighter, and read away. Just reading the “Introduction” will make you feel more prepared!


Top Ten Tips for Teaching Multiple Guides

Setting Up for Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory

From Our House to Yours

Setting Up for Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory

So, I’ve placed my children, had my Heart of Dakotabox day,‘ and am setting up for Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory (Beyond). My first step is to read through the Beyond Introduction, Appendix, and first week or month of plans. This helps me envision my year and make note of any special supplies, such as a world map or globe, and a map of the United States. Likewise, it is important to read through the beginning pages of the phonics or reading program you chose. The tips there note any special preparation needed. For example, Reading Made Easy‘s beginning pages note “Things to Do Ahead of Time.” The Reading Lesson’s beginning pages note how to use the download. Sound Bytes Reading’s beginning pages note pacing instructions. Drawn into the Heart of Reading’s beginning pages and its “Getting Started” section in its Appendix are important to read too.

Setting Up the Front of My “Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory” Binder

First, I make a color photocopy of my Beyond cover and insert it in my binder. If you don’t have a color copier, black and white looks nice too! Second, I print the Introduction of the guide off the Internet (click here). I use the Table of Contents from the Introduction as my attendance record, noting the dates we completed each unit (i.e. Unit 1:  Sept. 2-6, 2019). Third, I print the first week of plans (click here), which is a nice overview. If your state requires you to turn in your student’s completed portfolio or meet with a principal or umbrella school, the Introduction and first week of plans give an excellent overview of what is covered. (Carrie gives permission for the Introduction and First Week of Plans to be printed or copied for portfolio compilation. However, any other photocopies or retyping of plans would be a copyright infringement.)


Label Tab Dividers Inside My Beyond Binder

Next, I label tab dividers for my binder. My goals are to show what my child did and how he progressed in skills. So, I label my first tab “HISTORY.” I place anything my child did on the left Learning Through History themed part of the plans here. Usually this includes lots of art projects, some flat easy-to-store science and geography projects, and photocopies of some decorated Bible verses my children mailed out. At the end of the year, I put my child’s completed history timeline first behind this tab as well.

Next, I label my second tab “POETRY.” Usually I place some of the cut apart/reassembled poems here to show the completed sequencing activity. I also include my child’s decorated poems that either he copied or I photocopied. If my child would enjoy it, I have him decorate a special cover for his booklet of poems. Then, I label my third tab “LANGUAGE ARTS.” Here, I put Storytime projects/typed oral narrations, phonics worksheets (if my child did any), and any written spelling words/sentences or grammar activities. If my child did Drawn into the Heart of Reading, I either choose a handful of completed workbook pages to include in his binder, or I just keep his entire DITHOR 2/3 Student Book. Last, I label my fourth tab “MATH”and put any completed math activity pages or worksheets here.

Extra Tab(s) for Those Who Take Pictures and Actually Print Them

If you are a super mom who not only takes pictures but also prints them, you can include one more tab called “HANDS-ON.” Behind this tab, you can place printed action photos of hands-on Geography activities, History Activities, Science Exploration experiments, Bible Study gross motor skills activities, Language Arts Day 5 grammar activities, and/or the Corresponding Music singing. Or, you can label the tab “OTHER” and put pictures of anything special, like you reading the History or Devotional to your child. However, ask me how many times I have gotten that done in three trips through Beyond? Zero. So, if you don’t get this done, no worries! I DO have many pictures taken, and I DID have them on a slideshow in a photoframe for awhile. So, if you don’t have the time, don’t do this. Your binder without any of these extra tabs will still be amazing!

Things to Either Do at the Start or to Do As They Come Up in the Plans

These things can be done either at the start of the guide or as they come up in the plans. If I want to do everything at the start, I photocopy the poems from the Appendix and put them in a folder. Next, using the Appendix, I use a black Sharpie to write the spelling words one at a time on white index cards. I jot the unit number in the top right corner of the first card, put a colored index card or divider between each set, and place them all in a recipe box. (Otherwise, this is an easy prep thing to do each week, and to start you can just do the first week of spelling words! Or, have someone else do it! One year, I had our babysitter make the cards.) Finally, I make my child’s timeline, following Unit 1 Day 4’s History Activities’ directions.

Setting Up for Drawn into the Heart of Reading

If your child is using DITHOR, you can either set this up at the start or do it as you move through the plans. If I do this at the startI fill out the DITHOR 2/3 Student Book “Reading Calendar.” Using HOD’s “Optional Book Recommendations,” I fill in the page numbers to be read each day. For example, if my son is using the DITHOR Level 2 Book Pack, I see ’15 days’ next to Biography: Amelia Earhart. So, I divide the total number of pages or chapters in Amelia Earhart by 15. As there are 15 chapters, I just write “Ch. 1” on ‘Day 1’ of the Reading Calendar, “Ch. 2” on ‘Day 2,’ and so on. I might do this for each genre or just the first one to start. Also, I might choose my first genre kickoff in my DITHOR Teacher’s Guide.

Label Sticky Tabs to Mark Places in the Beyond Guide

Next, I label sticky tabs to mark places in my guide. I label the first tab “DAILY PLANS,” placing it on Unit 1, Day 1. Then, I label the next tabs “SPELLING” and “POETRY,” placing them in the Appendix.  If I’m using the Emerging Reader’s Set, I label another tab “ER SET” and place that in the Appendix. Likewise, if I’m using the second grade math plans, I’d label another tab “MATH” and place that in the Appendix. Or, if I’d rather not reference my Appendix for the 2nd grade  math, I’d just jot the page numbers in the daily “Math Exploration” box of plans instead. Finally, if you are planning on using your library for the Storytime suggestions in the Appendix, I’d label another tab “STORYTIME.” If I am using DITHOR, I label 2 tabs “DAILY PLANS,” placing one in the teacher’s guide and one in the student book.

Shopping for Supplies

Carrie’s plans use readily available household supplies, and many options are suggested. For example, the plans may call for either a bean bag and a basket, or a rolled up pair of socks and a plastic bin. I just skim the Art and Science plans every month or so, to look for the one-off supply. However, to get ready to begin Beyond, I just stock up on usual art supplies, like crayons, markers, glue (sticks and liquid), scissors, construction paper, tissue paper (colored), tape (masking and clear), a ruler, a yardstick, playdough, paints/paintbrushes, cotton balls, yarn/string, etc. I also stock up on index cards, page protectors, and a few catalogs. Finally, I’ve found a flashlight, deck of cards, CD player (for Hide ‘Em in Your Heart), bouncy ball, paperclips, paper plates, food coloring, marker board with dry erase markers, and q-tips/toothpicks are also nice to have on hand.

Sorting Resources into “Things We Need Now” and “Things We Need Later” Bins or Totes

One of the last things I do is get two canvas bins.  I use one for ‘things we need now’ and the other for ‘things we need later.’ As I read through each box of my first week of Beyond’s plans, I put each needed resource in the bin  for ‘things we need now.’ I put the remaining items in the bin for ‘things we need later.’ Throughout the year as we finish using resources, I put them in the back of the ‘things we need later’ bin, and I move the next books or resources we need into the ‘things we need now’ bin or tub. This way, my ‘things we need now’ bin only contains what we need for each week. Another benefit is the ‘things we need now’ are always mobile! Likewise, I put many art supplies in a tool turnabout, so these are mobile too!

In Christ,