Setting Up for Little Hands to Heaven

From Our House to Yours

Setting Up for Little Hands to Heaven

So, you’ve placed your children properly. You’ve had your ‘box day‘ after ordering from Heart of Dakota! But, what happens next? Well, you get ready for your homeschool year by setting up your guide! So, let’s do this together in this ‘From Our House to Yours’ series, starting with Little Hands to Heaven!

Start with the Nuts and Bolts of the Guide

To get where you want to go, you need to know how you are going to get there! So, when setting up for a guide, I always start by reading the nuts and bolts of the guide. For me, that is the Introduction, the Appendix, and the first week or month of the plans. I do this every year, even if I’ve done the guide previously. Why? Well, it sets the course for us for the year, and I can clearly see the purpose of each part of the plans. Each guide also includes options for ways of doing things (i.e. using one large binder or several smaller binders, using index cards or notebooks, etc.). I like to note the options I choose in the margin of the Introduction of the guide. That way, I can easily make my shopping list based on my notes for what options I preferred.

Setting Up the Front of My “Little Hands to Heaven” Binder

First, I photocopy the cover of my  guide in color and insert it in my binder. If you don’t have a color copier, a black and white cover looks nice as well! Second, I print the Introduction of the guide off the Internet (click here). I use the Table of Contents that is part of the Introduction as my attendance record. Next to each ‘Unit,’ I write the dates we completed it (i.e. Unit 1:  Sept. 2-6, 2019). Third, I print the first week of plans (click here). This is just a nice overview of what the guide includes. If your state requires you to turn in your student’s completed portfolio, to meet with a principal, or to be under the guidance of an umbrella school, the Introduction and first week of plans give an excellent overview of what is covered in the guide.

Label Tab Dividers Inside My LHTH 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 “BIBLE.” Since the history chronologically covered in LHTH is Bible History, anything my child does in response to the Bible reading can be placed here. Usually, I put Bible Activities and Art Activities behind this tab. Next, I label my second tab “LETTERS.” Mostly, I put Letter Activity projects and Hide and Seek letter pages behind this tab. Then, I label my third tab “MATH.” Behind this tab, I put any completed Math Activities and Count on Me pages. (I know the Count on Me pages are in the Bible Activities box, but I feel they show my child’s math progress nicely.) Last, I label my fourth tab “COLORS”and put any completed Colors pages (i.e. the “Yellow is…” colors page).

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 the Fingerplays, Active Exploration activities, Dramatic Play activities, and/or the Corresponding Music singing. Or, you can label the tab “OTHER” and put pictures of anything special, like you reading the Bible or Devotional to your child. However, ask me how many times I have gotten that done in three trips through LHTH. 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!

Make Photocopies for the Year

I usually make all my photocopies at the start of the year. (Keep in mind, you can always skip this step and just make copies as they come up in the plans.) For LHTH, I first photocopy the Letter Flashcards from the Appendix. I cut them, fold them, and put them in order in a large ziplock bag. Next, I photocopy 35 “Count on Me” pages from the Appendix (33 copies are needed, but a few extra are always nice). Finally, I copy the “Hide and Seek,” “Number,” and “Color” pages.

I put these in order of use in 3 different manila file folders. If your copier leaves a slight gray edge on any copies, just trim the edge, if it bothers you. Please know, Carrie, HOD’s author, gives permission for these pages to be copied, as well as the Introduction and First Week of Plans. However, any other photocopies (i.e. of daily plans) would be a copyright infringement.

Label Sticky Tabs to Mark Places in the Guide

Next, I label sticky tabs to mark places in the LHTH guide. I label the first sticky tab “DAILY PLANS.” Then, I label the next tab “FINGERPLAYS.” If you decided to make your photocopies as you move through the plans rather than all at the start of the year, you may also want to labels in the Appendix for “COUNT ON ME” and “FLASHCARDS.” 

Shopping for Supplies

Since Carrie’s plans use readily available household supplies and many options are suggested, the guide does not have a supplies list. 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. Or, the plans may call for a scarf, a jump rope, or a long belt. Going out and buying bean bags, scarves, and jump ropes will not be necessary! So, embrace the beauty and savings of using what you have on hand on any given day instead of trying to make an exhaustive shopping list of supplies.

Instead, plan on stocking up on usual art supplies, such as colors, markers, glue, scissors, construction paper, tape, playdough, fingerpaints/paints/paintbrushes, cotton balls/yarn, etc. Also plan on stocking up on masking tape, index cards of different sizes, clear page protectors, and a few catalogs or magazines your child can cut pictures from.

In Christ,
Julie

Should I start Little Hands if my son doesn’t comprehend its Bible well?

Dear Carrie

Should I begin Little Hands to Heaven if my son doesn’t seem ready to comprehend the children’s Bible in it well?

I lurk on the Heart of Dakota Message Board! I’ve gotten a lot of great insight there! My daughter is using Little Hearts, and she also used Little Hands, which we loved. My question is about my son. He’s 4, and he knows all his letters, sounds, shapes, etc. However, he struggles with listening. I haven’t started Little Hands (LHTH) for this very reason. I tried out the Bible from LHTH for his evening devotions. He really struggled to answer any questions after the reading. I think it is partly a disciplinary issue as well. After all, he can sit and listen attentively to a Thomas the Train book! I’d like to get him started in LHTH, but I’m concerned about his (lack of) listening and comprehension. So, should I begin Little Hands to Heaven if my son doesn’t seem ready to comprehend the children’s Bible in it well?

Sincerely,

“Ms. Please Help Me Choose When to Start Little Hands”

Dear “Ms. Please Help Me Choose When to Start Little Hands,”

I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed Heart of Dakota with your daughter and will now begin it with your son! I just want to encourage you that it isn’t uncommon for young boys to struggle a bit with listening to Bible stories at first. This is because Bible stories have a harder vocabulary, have a much less predictable storyline, and do not have as many repetitive words or characters as stories like Thomas the Tank Engine do. So, listening to a Bible story is actually an exercise in higher level listening for a little child.

Comprehension can be influenced by the time of day.

How well a child comprehends a Bible story reading will also differ depending on what time of day the little one is asked to listen to the story. By bedtime, little ones are often weary, both physically and mentally. So, trying to process something new at that time is more work. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read aloud Bible stories at bedtime. It just means that we can expect less comprehension at that time of day as opposed to when the child is fresher, earlier in the day.

Children develop the skills to listen to Bible stories, which are more difficult read alouds, in LHTH.

Listening to more difficult read alouds, like Bible stories, is a skill that takes time to develop. The beauty of LHTH is that you will actually be able to see this skill develop as you travel through the guide. Since your son is 4, I’d lean toward starting LHTH, doing it 4 days a week. At age 4, he would likely be able to handle a day of LHTH in a day, since it takes 30 minutes or less.

Children may struggle for awhile, but soon they begin to answer the Bible questions better and better.

You can expect that he will struggle to answer the questions from the Bible stories for awhile (and this is not exclusive to little boys)! My sisters and I were talking awhile back about how surprising it was when our little ones finally began to answer some of the Bible questions in LHTH (and my older sister has little girls).

You can reread the line of the story with the answer to help your child answer the question if need be.

Until your little one is able to answer the questions, after asking the question if no answer is forthcoming, you could reread the line of the story with the answer in it to help prod your little one. Then, if the answer still isn’t coming, just tell the answer in a questioning type way. For example, if the question is, “Who did Abraham marry?”, and if your little one doesn’t know, reread the line of the story that says the answer. If your little one still can’t answer, then say, “Did Abraham marry Sarah?” In this way, the child can still answer, “Yes” at least (giving the guise of answering the question).

I hope you enjoy Little Hands to Heaven with your son as much as we did with each of our sons!

Blessings,

Carrie

Try the repeating method for “Rhymes in Motion”

Teaching Tip:

Do you have a child doing Little Hands to Heaven or Little Hearts for His Glory?

If you have kiddos doing either Little Hands to Heaven or Little Hearts for His Glory, today’s teaching tip is for you! It’s a simple tip, but one that makes the “Rhymes in Motion” go more smoothly with your little ones!

What is one helpful tip when you begin a new “Rhymes in Motion?”

Here is one helpful tip for beginning a new “Rhymes in Motion.” Say the rhyme and do the motions one line at a time, with your child repeating each line right after you.

What does the repeating method look like on Day 1 of the rhyme?

For example, on Day 1 of the rhyme, you will say and perform line one of the rhyme. Then, your child will repeat line one with the motions. Next, you will move on to line two, saying and demonstrating the line. Then, your child will repeat line two with the motions. Continue on through the rhyme this way to make sure your child is getting the words and motions.

How does the repeating method differ on Day 2?

At our house, we usually continue to use the repeating method on the second day too. However, at the end of the rhyme on day two, we also do the whole rhyme once more in unison.

What are the benefits of doing the rhymes this way?

Usually after two days of repeating each line after you, kiddos are more sure of the words and motions. Then, they are ready to do the rhyme in unison with you in the coming days. The repeating method is also great for making sure your child is participating and has the words down! Try this method at the beginning of a new rhyme and see what you think!

Blessings,
Carrie

PS: For more information on how “Rhymes in Motion” help kids’ skills develop, check out this blog article here:

What are the benefits of the Rhymes in Motion?

A defined space helps your little ones listen better.

Teaching Tip 

A defined space helps your little ones listen better.

Do you have little ones with whom you’re doing school? If so, it really helps to define the space in which they need to sit and listen while you read.

What is a simple defined space for a 2-4 year old?

When my little ones were between the ages of 2-4, I usually had them sit on my lap.  Then, I held the Bible in front of us to read the story for Little Hands to Heaven. If you have a child who is a “wild wiggler” and doesn’t sit well on your lap, then move on to my next suggestion!

What can you use as a defined space if you have a “wild wiggler” or multiple little ones?

If you have a “wild wiggler” or multiple little ones, use carpet pieces or large, foam floor puzzle squares to define space instead.  These pieces or squares can be used to delineate the spot where each child should sit.  This becomes the defined space in which your child needs to remain during the Little Hand’s Bible reading. As you read, hold the book up beside you with the pictures facing your child.  Read from the side, so you can show the pictures as you read.

What is a simple defined space for a 5-6 year old?

For my Little Hearts for His Glory kiddos, I move to sitting on the couch.  I “anchor” my child beside me with my arm around him/her while I read. If you have two kiddos doing Little Hearts, it works well to anchor one child on either side of you!

Try defining your child’s space today, and see if your reading time goes better.

While these sound like simple suggestions, having defined boundaries for your child during reading time can make a big difference! Try it today, and see what you think!

Blessings,
Carrie

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

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!

Blessings,
Carrie

Top Ten Tips for Teaching Multiple Guides