5th and 7th Grade Placement When Using 3 Guides Already

Pondering Placement

I use 3 HOD guides with my younger children and want to start using it with my 5th and 7th graders, but how can I add just 1 more HOD guide when my 7th grader wants to be by herself?

I already love using Heart of Dakota with 3 children! I’m using Little Hands with my preK son, Little Hearts with my first grader, and Bigger Hearts with my 2nd grader. I like it so much I’m considering using it with my 5th and 7th graders. However, since I’m already using 3 younger guides with more teaching time, I only want to add 1 guide. I was going to add Creation to Christ, but they don’t want to “do school together” like we have in the past. My 7th grader wants to be able to do it all “by herself” without my interference. Could I combine my 5th grader with my 2nd grader in Bigger Hearts? Or, should I combine my two oldest in CTC, even though my 7th grade girl doesn’t want to? She hasn’t expressed it too much, just asked could they please “not do it together”?

Carrie’s Initial Reply: Could you please share about your 5th grade son in regard to the first page of the placement chart? (Parent response below)

My just turned 10 year old has a mathematical mind and is a problem solver. He’s an excellent reader and loves to read Diary of a Wimpy Kid. He’s never narrated, has messy handwriting, and hates to write. I homeschooled him for 1st-3rd, and he went to public school for 4th grade. His learning slowed down in public school! They didn’t do much grammar, and they didn’t have history; they had “social studies”. He retained nothing from science, as they didn’t do any science experiments. He places between Bigger and Preparing on the placement chart. I just ordered Singapore 5A/5B and Rod and Staff 5 for him. He looked at the Bigger guide I’m using with my 2nd grader and got really excited. The hands-on activities are right up his alley. I’ve caught him peeking at the Stories of Great Americans book already. So, I know he’ll love the history!

Carrie’s Response with English and Literature Recommendations

Based on what you’ve shared thus far, and about your desire not to do two more guides, I do think your son could be placed in Bigger Hearts with Extensions. I would recommend that he do Rod and Staff English 4 instead of English 5, and do a lesson daily 4 days a week. I would also recommend that he do Drawn into the Heart of Reading (DITHOR) with the level 4/5 Student BookI’d recommend the 4/5 Boy Interest Set. You could just do DITHOR 3 times weekly in order to lighten your load.

Carrie’s Response with Math Placement Recommendations

As far as math goes, I would give him the Singapore Math U.S. Primary Edition placement test. I’d begin with the test for 3A and see if he passes. Make sure not to aid, help, or explain in any way, or the results will not be accurate. It would not be uncommon for a 5th grader who is new to Singapore to have to start back somewhere between 3A and 4B, simply due to the differing scope and sequence. I wouldn’t start a 5th grader who is new to Singapore in 5A/5B, as it will assume that he has had the Singapore method and foundation laid in 3B on up to guide and help him. Since you just ordered your English 5 and Singapore 5A/5B Math, you can return them and exchange them for the texts you need from us instead. We want to be sure that you have what you need to have a successful school year!

Carrie’s Request for Placement Information About the 7th Grader

As far as your 7th grader goes, if my experience with kiddos her age is correct, she is deeply desiring independence due to her age and increasing maturity level. She probably feels excited about any guide that will insure she is not combined with her younger sibling. I would be interested to hear where she places on the first page only of the placement chart when you consider her all by herself (no combining scenarios in mind). It is possible that she may fit in Resurrection to Reformation instead. If you get a chance to share a bit more about her reading, math, grammar, writing, independence level in regard to our placement chart, and about her ability to read her own materials that would be great!

Placement Information Shared Regarding 7th Grade Daughter (Parent response below)

My daughter places between Resurrection to Reformation and Revival to Revolution. She is a voracious reader and writer. She loves to draw and is very talented. Her weakness is math. The idea of her being “above” Creation to Christ appeals to her. I showed her Resurrection to Reformation in the Heart of Dakota catalog, and she is super excited! As she has not done much in the way of narrating, oral or written, I think RTR will be a better start for her.  I started Bigger Hearts with my 5th grade son, and he is loving it already! Now, I just need to order the extensions for him and RTR for my daughter.

Carrie’s Final Recommendation Thoughts

I think you will enjoy Bigger Hearts with extensions for your 5th grade son. I’m also excited for you to begin Resurrection to Reformation with your 7th grade daughter. I think you will both enjoy the independence in that guide, as well as the mother/daughter Biblical girlhood study that celebrates your daughter’s maturing. Thank you for ordering from Heart of Dakota; we depend on that support – God bless!


Resurrection to Reformation: Heart of Dakota’s Homeschool Program for Ages 10-12, with Extensions for Ages 13-14

From Our House to Yours

Resurrection to Reformation: Heart of Dakota’s Homeschool Program for Ages 10-12, with Extensions for Ages 13-14

Heart of Dakota‘s Resurrection to Reformation is a homeschool program written for ages 10-12. Furthermore, it includes extensions for ages 13-14. This guide provides a Christ-centered overview of the early church, the Dark Ages, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Reformation, the exploration of the New World, and the Advancement of science.  Get ready for an inspiring biographical approach to learning!  You will see how the strengths and gifts people were given equipped them to persevere through persecution and trials. Likewise, you will enjoy seeing how the strengths and gifts of your own children show themselves!

Students take over the reading of more Reading About History living books!

As Charlotte Mason advocated, students at the age of 9 should be more responsible for reading in all subject areas.  Why?  Well, because simply put, they remember it better. Picture yourself.  Would you rather have someone read aloud to you? With you only listening? And then be asked to share what you remember or answer questions about what was read? Or, would you rather have held the book in hand, have read it yourself, and then be asked to share what you remembered or answer questions?

Likewise, if you were required to write what you remembered, would you rather have read it yourself, with book in hand, or had someone else read it to you?  Let’s say the reading was about Charlemagne.  Would you be more likely to spell ‘Charlemagne’ properly if you read it yourself, or if your parent read it to you? The point is, once you are able to read, it is beneficial to read for yourself. Why? Because it begins to impact your comprehension, your retention, and your writing abilities. Hence, children are the same.  Therefore, Carrie wrote Resurrection to Reformation to have students read more of their history on their own.

Students respond to their reading in a variety of ways to help them become well-rounded students!
Students respond to their history readings in a variety of ways, so students can enjoy their strengths and improve their weaknesses. How? Well, first, students give an oral narration by retelling the history reading using oral narration tips. Second, students summarize biographical information about famous men and women from the history reading. Third, students locate the places around the world where famous people made their mark on history. Fourth, students write a written narration to reflect upon the history reading. Carrie made sure to include written narration tips to help.
Full-color student notebook pages provide a timeless keepsake of what was learned through the year!

Student notebook pages come printed in full color to provide a timeless keepsake of the year. Customized postcards of the cities researched, portraits of the people studied, maps of the places mentioned in the stories, paintings by great Renaissance artists, and authentic artifacts grace the pages of this lovely resource. Additional skills of research, timeline, geography, and independent history study skills round out the notebook entries.  The notebook pages also provide helpful visual aids for completion of history projects.

You choose whether you want to read the history-focused read alouds or not!

History read-alouds that are Charlotte Mason-style living books march alongside the history theme chronologically.  Since 10-12 year old children vary greatly, you choose whether you’d like to read these books aloud or not.  The following varied activities rotate through the “Storytime” box of plans and coordinate with the read-alouds:

  • orally narrating
  • finding vivid descriptions
  • locating new vocabulary
  • identifying plot twists
  • recognizing strong moods
  • copying great lines
  • watching for life lessons
What study of this period would be complete without a celebration of art and of Shakespeare?

Who could study this time period and not be awed by the visual beauty of art and the written words of Shakespeare?!?  Resurrection to Reformation does not disappoint.  With Art Appreciation, students enjoy Looking at Pictures to gain a more complete understanding of art. But, they also enjoy picture study more Charlotte Mason style with full-color art gallery pictures.  Never will they enter an art gallery ill-equipped to fully appreciate the art gracing the walls.  Likewise, Tales of Shakespeare and its accompanying Shakespeare Student Notebook pages help students enjoy Shakespeare.  This low-key introduction to Shakespeare is the gift that keeps giving!  Why?  Well, students who first enjoyed Shakespeare at a young age will likely enjoy it more fully in high school.

At a time when students are growing and changing, a girl and boy study is included!

One of the only things that was constant during the time period of Resurrection to Reformation was change.  Likewise, our children are experiencing much change during this time in life. RTR recognizes and honors this! How? Well, two days in each unit are focused on a devotional study about becoming a Godly young man or woman. This devotional Bible study is scheduled for the parent and student to complete and discuss together. At a time where there can be much confusion about this all-important topic, this study gives us as parents a Biblical way to be sure our children get it right.

Formal writing instruction makes a further connection to history with IEW’s Medieval History-Based Writing!

This IEW formal writing program by Lori Verstegan’s adds another important connection to the history theme!  No need to watch instructional videos, this writing program provides all you need in the plans. It includes two levels of instruction, checklists, samples, notes, vocabulary cards, and quizzes. The source material for the lessons is provided within the IEW Student Book.  Furthermore, it corresponds beautifully with the time period!

Get inspired by Bible Quiet Time!

Each daily Bible quiet time includes independent Bible lessons from
Hidden Treasures in Philippians. Students move step-by-step through Philippians to lead them to discover timeless truths. Each quiet time also includes a prayer focus, Scripture memory work, and music. Within each unit, students rotate through the 4 parts of prayer: adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication.

Just as the Bible Quiet Time is sure to inspire, Emily Dickinson’s poetry is sure to do the same!

A different classic poem written by Emily Dickinson is studied in each unit. Carrie chose each poem for its enduring quality and its ability to withstand the test of time. She chose the following varied activities to link to the poetry:

  • introduction of unfamiliar vocabulary
  • questions and discussion related to the meaning of the poem
  • lessons focusing on poetic devices
  • memorization of previously studied poems
  • copywork of selected poems within the Common Place Book
Daily science includes living books’ readings that encourage a love for God’s creation of Earth!

Unforgettable living book science readings provide the backbone for this year of earth science study.  Forget about the less than exciting textbooks you read about earth science in school.  Blot from your memory the science experiments you more than likely watched your teacher perform due to lack of supplies for every student.  This exciting year of earth science includes the varied science activities that are sure to make science come alive!  How? Well, first, students create a science notebook entry that includes diagrams, scientific terms, and Biblical copywork. Second, students alternate between oral and written narration to retell the science reading. Third, students alternate between oral narration and a choice of written narration topics with accompanying vocabulary words. Fourth, students conduct an experiment related to the reading and log it in a science notebook or on a copy of the “Science Lab Form.”

Finally, keep moving forward in language arts and math!

Reading, writing, copywork, spelling, grammar, and math – progress in these areas cannot be stressed enough.  With multiple levels of choices in each of these critical areas, students are sure to continue moving forward.  Incremental building upon these skills each year is necessary. Consequently, students are not ‘surprised’ by the rigor of upper middle school and high school.  Resurrection to Reformation recognizes the importance of taking a student where they are and moving them forward incrementally with purpose.

In closing, check out the areas linked with Learning Through History, in list form:

Corresponding History Readings
Who’s Who? Entries
Written Narrations
Oral Narrations
Timeline Sketches
Postcards of Places Researched
Mapping Exercises
Shakespeare: Readings, Coloring Pages, Copywork
History Interest Read-Alouds
Weekly Hands-on History Projects
Copywork: Quotes and Verses
Step-by-step Sketching with Draw and Write Through History: Vikings, Middle Ages, and Renaissance
Artist Overview Pages
Creation of a History Notebook
Corresponding Audio Overview of History with Diana Waring’s What in the World Vol. II
Medieval History-Based Writing Lessons

Additionally, here are the areas included in Learning the Basics, in list form:

Classic Poetry from Emily Dickinson: Read and Respond to a new poem weekly; Memorize one poem per quarter
Art Appreciation using Looking at Pictures
Personal Quiet-Time Bible Study of Philippians
Bible Passage Memory Work of Philippians 1 with CD
Bible Study: Becoming a Godly Young Man or Woman using Boyhood and Beyond or Beautiful Girlhood
Spelling: Choice of three sets of Dictation Passages
Grammar Lessons using the Text Building with Diligence: English 4 or Following the Plan: English 5
Literature Study using Drawn into the Heart of Reading
Choice of Math
Daily Living Book Science Readings in the area of Earth Science
Science Experiments with Written Lab Sheets emphasizing the Scientific Process
Notebooking in Science
Science Written Narrations with Guided Questioning

In Christ,


Creation to Christ: An Intriguing Ancients Homeschool Program for Ages 9-11, with Extensions for Ages 12-13

From Our House to Yours

Creation to Christ: An Intriguing Ancients Homeschool Program for Ages 9-11, with Extensions for Ages 12-13

With Heart of Dakota, there are flexible age ranges, which becomes more and more important as children grow and mature.  That is why our Creation to Christ ancients program is written for ages 9-11, but has extensions for ages 12-13. The Lord has gifted each child differently, and the older a child gets, the more those gifts begin to show themselves.  Likewise, children have areas that just are not their gifting. We all do! This is why, at Heart of Dakota, we value placement so highly.  If you call us for placement help, reference our placement chart, or ask for placement help on our message board, you will never be told just to ‘get the 11 year old box of things.’

Likewise, we will never just ask the ages of your children, lump them all together, and tell you which guide to use.  Proper placement is a bigger deal than that! It is an entire year of your life and of your child’s life!  We want to get it right.  We want to take children where they are and move them forward, and that is just what Creation to Christ does!

Creation to Christ teaches our children one timeline, not two!

If you are like me, you might have what I call two timelines running in your head.  The Bible timeline and the public school timeline. This is because at church we learned Bible history, and at school we learned history without the Bible.  At least, that is what most public schools teach due to separation of church and state.  As a Christian, I find this very sad!  How in the world could I learn about the ancients without learning about the Bible? It truly boggles the mind. Well, blessedly, having used Heart of Dakota, my children have just one timeline running in their heads, and it begins with Creation to Christ!

So, what does the history in Creation to Christ cover?

Told in story form, Creation to Christ provides students with a Biblical overview of ancient history.  Students learn about the Sumerians, Hebrews, Egyptians, Phoenicians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans. Biblical history is shown to be authoritative, and the history of ancient civilizations weaves in and out of Old Testament stories at the proper times in the overall narrative. An exciting overview of ancient Greece, ancient Rome, and of Christ’s life comes next, and the year concludes with the readings of the gospels of Luke, John, and Acts.

Full of ‘can’t put them down’ books, Creation to Christ’s ancients history weaves one pretty exciting coherent and memorable timeline. Narrative books make the ancients come to life in a way I’ve not seen any other ancients study do.  So, if your kiddos have done the ancients before, but find themselves coming into Heart of Dakota placing best in Creation to Christ, no worries!  Do the ancients again – they have not ‘met them’ in the same way, so it won’t be a repeat.

So, now that you’re excited about the ancients, what’s new in Creation to Christ?

What’s new in Creation to Christ? Quite a lot really.  In fact, you will feel the change coming in Creation to Christ, right about the time you feel the change coming in your children.  They are growing up.  They want to be more independent.  And even if they don’t, they should.  They have a few years to get ready for upper middle school, and then high school will be soon to follow.  If they don’t start taking steps toward higher levels of reading, longer assignments of writing, following more directions, and taking on more independence, they will not be ready for upper middle school – and believe me, it’s tough to ‘make it up’ later.

Students’ reading skills are taken up a notch – across all subject areas!

Creation Christ is the first year students independently read the books in the Reading about History part of the plans, and it is more difficult reading in both reading level and maturity of content. However, the readings are shorter, so they can be successful with this new step.  Science readings become longer from more difficult books, with Land Animals… being just one of the 6 science books they’ll read independently.  Likewise, they will usually move up a level in Drawn into the Reading, both in the Student Books and in the Book Packs.

Students write longer narrations, learn to edit their own writing, and begin a formal writing program!

In response to the history they read independently, students write 5-8 sentence written narrations, highlight the main idea in each written narration, and use the Written Narration Tips to edit. However, the guide narrows down the focus of the narration to just a portion of the history reading, and guided questions help students think about their narration before they begin writing. Likewise, students work through the Written Narration Tips one at a time when they are editing.  Once they consistently do #1, they work on doing #1 and #2, and so on.  A formal writing program, Write with the Best, is added to the balance of language arts. It is taught twice each week and uses excerpts from classical literature for writing instruction (i.e. Charles Dickens, Jules Verne, Wordsworth, etc.).

Students learn to start their day with their own Bible Quiet Time!

How exciting is that!?!  Using either the Illustrated Family Bible Stories or their own Bible, students begin their day with their own private Bible Quiet Time.  This is such an important habit to have, and it is one continued all the way through 12th grade (and  hopefully happily ever after)!  This Bible Quiet Time has all the facets you’d want in a Bible quiet time!  Reading from the Bible, praying with the 4 parts of prayer using the ACTS model, memorizing Philippians 2, singing the Scriptures being memorized along with praise music, and copying verses in a Charlotte Mason style Common Place Book to forever be remembered! Yeah, pretty neat.  You’ll be finding yourself wanting your own quiet time too if you haven’t had one!

Students get inspired by Robert Frost’s poetry and respond to it with water color painting!

“The heavens declare the glory of the Lord,” and Robert Frost’s poetry just simply celebrates the beauty of Creation.  Students begin by reading Robert Frost’s poems, move on to discussing the moods/meaning of the poem, learn about Robert Frost’s life, follow step-by-step directions to learn to water color paint a painting each week to match the poem’s meaning, and interactively share the poem by reading it to an audience (a.k.a. the family). Finally, every 9 week term, they choose a Robert Frost poem they’ve studied to memorize.  Very Charlotte Mason-like, don’t you think?!?

Students research a given topic in history and orally share their findings, and they also keep a prophecy chart!

Once each week students research a history topic inspired by the history study.  They use an index or a search engine to skim to find answers to provided questions.  Then, they share their findings orally.  What important skills are learned in this assignment!  They also keep a prophecy chart showing the fulfillment of Scriptures, so they can see God’s hand through history across time.

Students have new responses to their Storytime read-alouds!

So, you as the parent still read aloud the Storytime books, which is wonderful, because you will enjoy them just as much as your children do!  In fact, I highly recommend the History Interest Set, just because it is pretty neat to totally immerse yourself in the ancients, and those books are like a little time machine that seem to do just that. But, back to the responses!  Your kiddos will rotate through giving a detailed oral narration, doing an outline sketch narration, a short skit narration, a question and answer session, an advertisement speech for the book, a summary narration, and a making connections between the story and Proverbs session.  Now, doesn’t that sound fresh and fun?!? But, kiddos aren’t the only ones that get to have fun, you do too!

So, what new things do you get to do as the homeschool teacher in Creation to Christ?

A lot, really! You get to head up a Genesis study using The Radical Book for Kids, which is done 2 days a week. Intriguing readings, in-depth discussions, and meaningful connections to Genesis are all a part of your time together with your children. Also, you get to lead a Geography of the Holy Land study, which is done the other 2 days a week.  Narrative read-alouds, globe and map activities, discussions, and travel logs are just some of the neat things you’ll get to lead in this geography study that shows the many of the very places kiddos read about in their Bibles still exist today.

Many things from last year in Preparing Hearts for His Glory are still a part of Creation to Christ as well!

Many of your favorites from last year in Preparing Hearts for His Glory are still a part of Creation to Christ! Not everything is new, and skills taught previously are practiced and strengthened.

In closing, check out the Learning Through History part of the plans of Creation to Christ in list form below…
  • Corresponding History Readings
  • Prophecy Fulfillment Chart
  • Guided Written Narrations
  • Timeline Entries
  • Copywork: Quotes, Verses, and Literature Passages
  • Research Questions
  • Weekly Hands-on History Projects
  • Bible Passage Memory Work of Philippians 2 with CD “Bible Study in Stereo: Philippians 2”
  • Step-by-step sketching corresponding with Greece and Rome
  • Creation of a History Notebook
  • Oral Narrations
  • Mapping
  • Personal Quiet-time Bible Study of Old and New Testament stories
  • Choice of Read-aloud Options based on History Interest, Boy Interest, or Girl Interest
  • Corresponding Audio Overview of History with Diana Waring’s What in the World Vol. I
Check out the Learning the Basics part of the plans of Creation to Christ in list form below…
  • Classic Poetry from Robert Frost
  • Spelling: choice of three sets of dictation passages
  • Grammar Lessons using the Text Building with Diligence: English 4 or Following the Plan: English 5
  • Bi-Weekly Creative Writing Lessons using Write with the Best: Vol. I by Jill Dixon
  • Literature Study using Drawn into the Heart of Reading
  • Choice of Math
  • Daily Living Book Science Readings in the area of Life Science/Biology
  • Science Experiments with written lab sheets emphasizing the scientific process
  • Weekly Science Notebooking
  • Science Vocabulary, Comprehension, and Biblical Application Questions
  • Weekly Oral Science Narrations
  • A Study of the ancient roots and Biblical theology of the Christian faith
  • Focus on Geography of the Bible Lands

In Christ,


P.S.  You can check out our placement chart to see if Creation to Christ… is a fit for your kiddos! If your child places better in Preparing Hearts…, check out this blog post by clicking here!

P.S.S. Click on each link below for Creation to Christ..
P.S.S.S. New to HOD?  Check out our top ten questions!





Third or Fourth Grade Homeschooling – Preparing Hearts for His Glory

From Our House to Yours

Third or Fourth Grade Homeschooling with Heart of Dakota- Preparing Hearts for His Glory

With Heart of Dakota, there are flexible age ranges because, as we all know, not all kiddos at one age are the same. Preparing Hearts…, which will be the focus of this blog post, has a target age range of 8-10 (third or fourth grade), with extensions for ages 11-12 (fifth to sixth grade). It has complete plans for all necessary subject areas but customizable plans in reading, spelling, grammar, and math.  It is Christ-centered and full of Charlotte Mason style unforgettable living books. I’ve ‘met’ Preparing Hearts… myself 3 times with my 3 sons, so I’m pretty confident in saying, I think you will love her!

Preparing… says let’s give our children the backdrop. Let’s give them the timeline of history running from start to finish. Then, we will know they are well prepared for the ‘hooks’ of each of the 4 time periods to come in Hearts for Him Through Time.  Let’s also get them prepared for middle school work, by having them gradually take on some necessary independence. But, hold on to your hat! Let’s still recognize they are not all that grown-up, and let’s still plan for some needed time together. So, you can see Bigger Hearts… laid the foundation, but how does Preparing Hearts… answer back?

Preparing Hearts says, “Let’s grow up a little, but not too fast!”

Little brother Bigger Hearts… planned for a big teaching year.  He didn’t let anything slide because he knew how important it would be to prepare for Preparing.  He took a little time, depending on you as the parent to work side by side your child to lay that foundation well.  But, this is when you thank him, because here comes Preparing to prove your time in Bigger was well spent. Bigger… bows and happily hands the reins over to Preparing Hearts. Bowing back, Preparing Hearts… tips her hat to Bigger Hearts…, and says, “Thank you kindly, Bigger. I’ll take it from here! Now let’s just see what we can do!”

Introducing Some Notable and Exciting Changes in Preparing Hearts

You know how you worked alongside your children for most of Bigger Hearts? Well, Preparing Hearts will change that and in a way that is in no way confusing.  Little letters begin to show up in each box of your teacher guide’s plans. “T” for teacher-directed, “S” for semi-independent, and “I” for independent.  Why?  Because there is less confusion about who does what.

Charlotte Mason said when children reach the age of 9, they should begin reading their own books for all school subjects. Preparing recognizes this, but eases children into it by only assigning a manageable amount of reading each day.  A part of history with just a few directions to follow, all of science, and all of reading become the student’s reading responsibility for the day.

These readings and directions are short, and they are on the student’s appropriate reading level, so they can feel success with this newfound independence.  The Self-Study History Package for the Newly Independent Reader, the Science Package, and a choice of either the Level 2 or Level 3 or Level 4/5 Boy/Girl Drawn into the Heart of Reading book packages comprise their reading for the year. But, what else is a notable change, you may ask?

Well, say ‘goodbye’ to 5 days of school each week, and say ‘hello’ to 4!

Bigger Hearts was laying the foundation, so 5 days a week was important.  But, Preparing Hearts takes 5 days of work and converts them to 4 days a week, so your child (and you) can have a day off to explore other interests (or to just do the laundry).  Hmm, we like that, right?  But, what else?

Well, say ‘goodbye’ to 1 day history activities, and say ‘hello’ to 3 day history projects!

History activities in Bigger Hearts were 1 day responses to the history readings.  In contrast, Preparing Hearts recognizes students need to learn to follow directions to complete multi-step projects from start to finish. (Project-based assessment is the spine of much of high school and college.)  Before you as a possible project-phobic parent want to throw in the towel, know that Preparing’s projects are never fluff.  They are connected to the history reading, and they are often the basis for multi-media history-based research.

Small increments of 15 minute segments are planned on Days 1-3 for students to step-by-step complete history projects directly related to their history. Every week is a different project, and every week they are done in 3 days. So no projects left out for weeks on end on your kitchen table, and no strange materials either.  An average kitchen and an average amount of typical art supplies are all you need.  But now you may be asking, if the history project is on Days 1-3 of the plans, what fills its place on Day 4? Written narrations – that’s what!

Say ‘hello’ to written narrations, but don’t say ‘goodbye’ to oral narrations – just take them up a notch!

Oral narrations were modeled and practiced previously, and children continue to hone those skills in Preparing.  Orally narrating on the read-aloud Storytime book was practiced in Bigger and is continued in Preparing.  Narrating on the Reading about History read-aloud is a new skill. Oral narrations are taken up a notch even further as children orally narrate on history readings they have read by themselves independently.  Likewise, children orally narrate on a totally new subject they also read by themselves independently – and that is science.

Finally, written narrations are introduced one day each week in response to the history read-aloud. But, as always, this skill is taught in a guided incremental way, so children can get off to a good start with it.  Plans let kiddos write narrations on smaller segments of the history read-aloud, with guided questions according to Bloom’s Taxonomyto get them started.  Simple step-by-step editing tips in the Appendix help make this transition even easier. Kiddos get off to a good start in written narrations, so they are sure to do well!

So, what else is added to Preparing Hearts, you may ask?

Well, creative writing lessons are added to Preparing Hearts in response to the classical poetry.  Likewise, the poetry study becomes more in-depth, focusing on the work of one poet, Robert Louis Stevenson (very Charlotte Mason-like).

The Poetry Study includes the following skills each week:
  • First Day: questions and discussion related to the meaning of the poem
  • Second Day: creative writing lesson based upon the poem’s style, content, pattern, or poetic devices
  • Third Day: personal connections with the poet and the poem
  • Fourth Day: suggested ways to share the poem with another person
  • *Each 12 week term: memorization of a previously studied Robert Louis Stevenson poem of the student’s choice
Other Noteworthy Changes

Other noteworthy changes to Preparing Hearts include the addition of history-based research using an encyclopedia.  This includes a specific topic to be researched, as well specific questions to be answered orally.  Geography quick-finds are included, and though they are matched nicely to the history, they are also matched nicely to typical state standards.  Comprehension questions must be answered each week for science, five questions to be exact, and they include the page number to locate the answer, as this is a new skill.

The Bible Study ‘grows up!’

Two days of Bible Study are led by the parent, but two days are practice for an independent Bible Quiet Time. Charlotte Mason’s Common Place Book is introduced. Instead of one Scripture verse being memorized, passages are being memorized, and further reflection and personal application are added, as well as the ACTS model of prayer. This is training for next year, when students will have daily Bible Quiet Time and parents will have Bible Study that is more in-depth.

But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, let’s first check out the Bible layout of Preparing:
  • First Day : Discuss a portion of a Psalm using heartfelt questions that encourage students to read and reflect upon God’s word.
  • Second Day: Identify the mood and purpose of the Psalm, and pray about the Psalm.
  • Third Day: Have a personal quiet time filled with prayer and praise based on a portion of a Psalm.
  • Fourth Day: Copy the Scripture memory selection in a Common Place Book (Note: See the description of a Common Place Book in the “Bible Study” box of the plans for Day 4 in each unit.)

Everything else from Bigger just grows up a little more in Preparing

The 1-3 vocabulary cards in Bigger become 3-5 vocabulary cards in Preparing. Biblical connections  are just part of more and more in the plans. There are more timeline entries, longer readings, more mature topics, and longer dictation passages. Children do more diagramming and complete writing assignments in English, and they practice both cursive and print throughout the year.

Drawn into the Heart of Reading covers more difficult story elements, Godly character qualities, projects, and comprehension questions. Draw and Write Through History adds step-by-step drawing assignments. History and science notebooking assignments become more involved, as do science experiments.

In Closing…

Preparing has some of our favorite all-time books.  Grandpa’s Box partnered with Child’s History of the World – amazing!  I dare you not to cry when you finish the last reading of Grandpa’s Box. It made me long for my Dad’s storytelling and want to learn how to whittle (don’t ask about the whittling… you’ll understand once you read it).  It also made my kiddos see how God’s plans truly are best, even when we don’t fully understand them.

Last, it made me see how my role as a homeschool teacher and mom was changing.  I would not forever only read aloud, but instead I’d embrace new and exciting things my kiddos needed.  And though I thought I might not like that, I did.  In fact, I loved it, because I got to know my children better and better – their ideas, their hearts, and their dreams.  I hope you enjoy it too!

In Christ,


P.S.  You can check out our placement chart to see if Preparing Hearts… is a fit for your kiddos! If your child places better in Bigger Hearts…, check out this blog post by clicking here!

P.S.S. Click on each link below for Preparing Hearts...
P.S.S.S. New to HOD?  Check out our top ten questions!