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!

Sincerely,

“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!

Blessings,
Carrie

Four fun ways to encourage summer reading!

A Heart of Dakota Life

Four fun ways to encourage summer reading!

Summer is fast approaching, and we have found this is a wonderful time to read!  I like to encourage keeping up the habit of reading in the summer, but I also like to keep it fairly simple. Below I will share four fun ideas we have incorporated to encourage summer reading.

Tap into your Heart of Dakota personal library this summer!

One thing you will accumulate by homeschooling with Heart of Dakota is excellent literature.  Carrie has carefully chosen Charlotte Mason style living books for every subject area. Just as we like to reread favorite books as adults, I have found my children do as well. When my children were little, I only owned 3 or 4 Heart of Dakota guides and their accompanying books. So when the summer began, I set out all of the books we’d previously used. Then, I let them choose one by one any books they wanted to reread for fun. Of course, they could only read books from guides they’d already completed. We can’t spoil the next guide, can we?!? Once my children were older and I owned too many books to set out, we made a trip to our basement library shelves of HOD books.

Order from Heart of Dakota the Extension Package for the guide you just completed!

When we have just finished studying a time period together, I have found it such fun to order the Extension Package for the guide we just completed! If my children are mature enough and good enough readers to enjoy the Extension Package, I love for them to read them. I make sure not to expect any follow-up assignments to be done because it IS summer. However, I do find I still hear many impromptu oral narrations anyway! I like to put them in a basket in each child’s room. Then, they can read them at their leisure. For my children who are more sequential, I might give them a copy of the Extension Package books printed from the Internet or copied from the Heart of Dakota Catalog. Then, they can read them in the order they are listed, which is the chronological order they are planned in the guide.

Check out from the library the Emerging Reader’s Set supplemental titles!

If you have a child that just completed the Emerging Reader’s Set, why not check out from the library the supplemental titles? Carrie painstakingly chose supplemental titles of comparable reading levels and listed them by unit in your Emerging Reader’s Set schedule. These supplemental titles are a super way to keep the ball rolling for brand new readers! When we take a break from reading with newly independent readers, I find they often backtrack. This is why it is a great idea to enjoy the supplemental titles for the Emerging Reader’s Set!  Yes, the first ones will be easy, but that’s alright! Though we can read at a college level as adults, that doesn’t mean we want to read at that level for fun all the time! Our children enjoy reading at different levels other than their highest level too.

Get ahead in Drawn into the Heart of Reading by doing a few genres in the summer!

If there is one thing I love, it is that feeling of ‘getting ahead’ somehow! That is why I have often enjoyed doing 1-2 genres of Drawn into the Heart of Reading in the summer. I remember one summer in particular. Looking at the genres, I decided Adventure would be a wonderful genre for the summer!  For each of my sons, I chose a different Adventure book from their upcoming homeschool year of DITHOR books. Then, we did the kickoff up really big! I had the time!  Likewise, we did the final project up really big!  Again, why not? I had the time!  I remember actually burying pirate hats, pirate eye patches, and pirate swords in a tote in our garden. At the end of their treasure hunt, they got to dig up the tote. We even invited the cousins to be a part of it all!

I hope this gives you some ideas of how you can encourage your children to read this summer!  Give us a call at Heart of Dakota if you need help choosing a book pack to order – we love to help! We also love to think of children reading for the pure joy of it in the summer!

In Christ,

Julie

Will it be too much to do DITHOR and Storytime in Bigger Hearts?

Dear Carrie

In Bigger Hearts, will it be too much to do Drawn into the Heart of Reading and Storytime?

Dear Carrie,

My 9 year old is doing Heart of Dakota‘s Bigger Hearts. He started the Emerging Reader’s Set (ERS) last year. He’ll finish it soon. (I took longer, lack of consistency on my part)! Anyway, I want him to grow into a stronger reader. I hear Drawn into the Heart of Reading is both interesting and enjoyable! However, I currently read aloud the Bigger Hearts Storytime books. We are on historical fiction now and enjoying it very much.  I certainly don’t want that to end. Can I do both DITHOR and Storytime, or will that be too much? Is it practical to be reading two different genres at the same time? Like him reading biography while I’m reading historical fiction to him? Or him reading his own fantasy book while I am also reading a different fantasy book? Thanks!

Sincerely,

“Ms. Please Help Me Understand DITHOR and Storytime in Bigger Hearts”

Dear “Ms. Please Help Me Understand DITHOR and Storytime in Bigger Hearts,”

Since your son is 9, we would plan for him to be heading into DITHOR after the Emerging Reader’s Set is done. If you don’t plan to use DITHOR, then we would be expecting you to be choosing a different reading program in its place to make sure that he is getting the skills that are required in the area of reading state standard-wise. The area of reading has many standards that are to be met, and those standards include understanding, discussion, and analysis of character, plot, setting, mood, comparison/contrast, theme/moral, rising action, prediction/inference, and so on.

One aspect of understanding literature is knowing the genres, and another more important aspect is knowing moral discernment while reading.

Another aspect of understanding literature is knowing the various genres and what makes a certain type of book a certain genre.   These areas of literature do not typically come up in regular discussion unless you plan specifically to talk about them and address them within your child’s daily reading. But, an even more important component we feel with reading instruction is that of teaching moral discernment in light of the Bible as kiddos read. This is another aspect that DITHOR addresses, which often does not come up in regular conversation as much as we’d like, without it being planned within the day.

Bigger Heart’s Storytime covers needed reading standards, with a focus on applying these standards to books they are listening to as read alouds.

Bigger Heart’s Storytime does have a mini-DITHOR planned within it, which serves two purposes. One is that it covers the needed reading standards that I’ve mentioned above for students who may still be doing the Emerging Reader’s Set. Two is that it focuses on applying these reading skills and standards to books that the children are listening to as read-alouds. This is different than applying these skills to books students are reading on their own. Listening to a book read aloud and reading on one’s own are two different skills of reading.

Students that complete the ERS are to move up to DITHOR next.

So, as soon as kiddos complete the Emerging Reader’s Set, we are expecting that they are heading into DITHOR (unless they happen to be younger than 7). If the child is younger than 7, then it would be alright to ease into DITHOR slowly (as the state standards for reading are not as exhaustive or in-depth for a child of that age).

Having children simply reading silently alone will not address state standards.

While every state is different, all states do have set standards in reading that are along the lines I’ve mentioned above. Once you get to our guides from Preparing Hearts on up, we no longer do a mini-DITHOR in the Storytime box. At that point it is really important to be doing DITHOR or something comparable, or you’ll be missing needed literature/reading instruction. Simply having your children silent reading on their own does not address the standards mentioned above.

At times we mention waiting on DITHOR, but this is the exception, not the rule.

While we do at times mention that families who are very busy or very large can wait on DITHOR until their children are a bit older, this would be the exception rather than rule. This is because very large families, or those who have extreme health issues, or those with heavy work situations must make choices between what they are able to accomplish in any given day. So, we are mindful of that in our recommendations, knowing each family is different. In your situation though, it sounds like your 9 year old is ready for DITHOR and with his age in mind, he will be in need of its instruction.

Blessings,
Carrie

What should I do for Drawn into the Heart of Reading our last 2 weeks?

Dear Carrie

What should I do for Drawn into the Heart of Reading for our last two weeks of Bigger Hearts?

Dear Carrie,

So next week my son will be finishing up his realistic fiction project and presenting it. Then, I will only have two weeks left of the Heart of Dakota‘s Bigger Hearts manual. So, does that mean I do nothing for DITHOR for the last two weeks? Read the folk tale books for fun? I am just trying to figure out those last two weeks and how I could fit folk tales into that time slot? Thanks! This is our first time with Drawn into the Heart of Reading (DITHOR), and we love it. My son has done wonderfully with the projects, and we look forward to using it in the future!

Sincerely,

“Ms. Please Help with the Last 2 Weeks of Drawn into the Heart of Reading”

Dear “Ms. Please Help with the Last 2 Weeks of Drawn into the Heart of Reading,”

How exciting that you are close to finishing Bigger Hearts! I am so glad that you have gotten a chance to use and enjoy DITHOR too. Since you are only two weeks away from being done with Bigger, I can see a couple of options working for DITHOR.

Option 1: Use the folk tale unit when you start Preparing Hearts.

One option would be to set aside the folk tale unit to start when you begin Preparing instead. If you chose to do this, then DITHOR would just drop out for the final two weeks of the Bigger Hearts guide.

Option 2: Read the folk tale books without doing the DITHOR unit.

A second option, if you feel your child may outgrow the folk tale books as a reader before you begin Preparing Hearts, would be to read the folk tale books while you finish Bigger Hearts (but not do the DITHOR unit). If you chose this option, your child would finish reading the Folk Tale books over the break before you begin Preparing. Then, when you do Preparing you would move onto the next book set and get to do the folk tale unit from DITHOR along with the new folk tale books in the next book set.

Either option would work! Happy reading!

Blessings,
Carrie

Follow-Up from “Ms. Please Help with the Last 2 Weeks of Drawn into the Heart of Reading”

Thank you Carrie! I think we will enjoy some cuddle time and just read those books together the last two weeks and start Preparing’s Drawn into Heart of Reading with folk tales too. Best of both worlds, and we can enjoy those great books! Love DITHOR and look forward to many more years with it!

Don’t overthink Drawn into the Heart of Reading

Teaching Tip: 

Don’t overthink Drawn into the Heart of Reading.

In getting started with Drawn into the Heart of Reading, I would encourage you NOT to overthink it. Instead, I would boil down starting DITHR to the following quick, easy steps.

Try these easy steps for a successful experience with Drawn into the Heart of Reading!

1. Choose which genre to do first with your child. Typically this should be a type of literature your child likes/loves to read. This will encourage a good start!

2. Open up your Student Book to that genre.  Decide how many books your child will read for that genre. To keep it simple, start with the fewest amount of books feasible. Often this is 1 or 2 short books at the younger reading level and 1 book at the upper reading level. Keep the readings short.

3. Fill in the calendar with the pages to be read each day. The calendar is in the Student Book behind the genre description sheet.

4. Choose one simple kick-off idea from the first day of plans for that genre. Keep it simple, so it goes quickly. Later, once you’re comfortable with DITHR, you can choose to do a kick-off up big. For now, keep it short and sweet.

5. Begin the next day. Then, just do a day of plans each day. If your child bogs down in the writing, write for him/her. Or, write part of the page and have your child just copy one sentence from a markerboard. The focus is on the reading and discussing, not the writing.

6. When you get to the project at the end of the unit, give your child a day off from DITHR.  Use that day off to pick a project from the 3 project options right during your normal DITHR time.

7. When working on the project, do not let the time go too long each day. Just cut the project off each day in tiny bite-sized pieces. If the project goes over 5 days, wrap it up.

8. When you get to the start of the next genre, give your child another day off from DITHR.  Then, do steps 1 – 4 above right during the school day during your normal DITHR time. This way, there is no prep. or planning in the evening.

See if these simple steps help you start Drawn into the Heart of Reading successfully!

What are you waiting for? Follow the steps above and get started on DITHR today!  Many of my boys favorite books, projects, and discussions came from our time in DITHR.  So, get started today!

Happy reading!
Carrie

 

PS: Interested in Drawn into the Heart of Reading? You might like this blog post by Julie too!

Drawn into the Heart of Reading: A Multi-Level Reading Program That Works with Any Books