Alexander the Great: Brilliance and Brutality

History with Heart of Dakota

Who was Alexander the Great? 

Conqueror, explorer, leader, and visionary. These are just a few of the words that describe Alexander the Great. Born the son of legendary warrior-king Philip II of Macedonia, Alexander went on to outshine his father.  Philip transformed Macedonia from an unremarkable country to a ruling power in Greece; Alexander made Macedonia the ruling power in the entire known world. His conquests would stretch the Macedonian empire from the mountains of his homeland, to the sands of Egypt, to the expanses of Persia, all the way to the banks of the River Beas in India.

Personality of a Genius 

Alexander was a genius in more ways than one. First, his grasp of military tactics was unequaled in his day. He perfected the use of the phalanx – a tactic which his father had introduced. The phalanx was an infantry formation where soldiers grouped tightly together with each man’s shield protecting himself and his neighbor. In addition to this, each man also carried an 18-20 foot pike which he would thrust outwards from the shield wall. (Wasson) In a time where armies usually fought in a haphazard manner depending on sheer force of numbers to win, the phalanx gave Alexander’s soldiers a huge advantage. Oftentimes, enemy soldiers would simply break off his phalanxes like water off a rock. In addition to this, Alexander had distinct knack for sensing his enemy’s weakest position and massing his men to exploit it. Therefore, when his phalanxes came crashing through there was usually no stopping them.

Second, Alexander was a genius when it came to leading his men. He routinely made a point of leading the charge in battle rather than staying back in safety. Initially, he also insisted on sharing his men’s hardships. For instance, while marching his troops through the desert, according to biographer Peter Green, “…when a helmetful [sic] of muddy water had been found for him in some nearby gully – but no more was to be had – he laughed, thanked the donor, and then tipped the water out into the sand. So extraordinary was the effect of this action that the water wasted by Alexander was as good as a drink from every man in the army.” (434) Alexander lead by example, as all great leaders do. When his men saw him facing and overcoming the same challenges they faced, it inspired greatness in them as well.

Fatal Flaws

Nonetheless, Alexander was far from perfect. “Like many brilliant men,” historian John Gunther writes, “he was unstable…he ran from one extreme to another…” (46) While he could be caring and understanding, he also could be irrational and violent. He had a burning temper which resulted in him murdering some of his most faithful soldiers, such as Clitus and Parmenion. Also, during his final years he firmly believed himself to be descended from the Greek god Zeus. Those who did not acknowledge this were executed. (Gunther 138-139) Sadly, with no god to serve except himself, Alexander – once great – ended his life in drunkenness and confusion.

Lasting Impressions

Even though Alexander’s life was dramatically short (he only lived to be 32!) what he accomplished in that time has had repercussions that affect us to this day. His use of soldiers as disciplined units formed the gold standard in military tactics for hundreds of years afterward. In addition, by bringing many different countries under one empire, he spread the use of a universal language – Greek. Many scholars believe this was instrumental in spreading the Gospel 400 years later. He also founded many different cities – some of which remain to this day. (Many of these he named Alexandria, after himself.) Ultimately, much like God had used prior civilizations and kings to carry out His purpose in history, God used Alexander the Great to mold the world according to His own plan.

Which HOD guides can you find Alexander the Great in? 

Alexander the Great can be encountered in several of Heart of Dakota’s guides! You can find him in Little Hearts, Preparing Hearts, Creation to Christ, World Geography, and World History. You can also find a more in-depth study of him in John Gunther’s book Alexander the Great, which students can read in the extension package for Creation to Christ.

Bibliography 

Green, P. Alexander of Macedon, 356-323 B.C. (University of California Press, 2013).

Gunther, J. Alexander the Great. (Sterling Publishing, 2007).

Wasson, D.L. The Army of Alexander the Great. (Ancient History Encyclopedia, 2014). 

How to Help with the ‘Guess’ Part of Science Experiments

Dear Carrie, 

 How do I help my son answer the ‘guess’ questions in the science experiments correctly?   

My son is doing Preparing Hearts this year and really enjoys it!  The one thing he is having trouble with is the ‘guess’ part of the science experiments.  After he reads his science book, he goes to do his lab sheet.  He reads and copies the question, but when he tries to answer the question in the ‘guess’ part, he doesn’t always get it right. Sometimes he goes back and rereads the science reading but still can’t find the answer.  I’ve looked and can’t always find the exact answer either. At that point, I just tell him what I think he should write, but that frustrates him.  Lately, he doesn’t want to do the ‘guess’ part at all. So, my question is, how do I help my son answer the ‘guess’ questions in the science experiments correctly?

Sincerely,  

“Ms. Please Help My Son Guess Better” 

 

Dear “Ms. Please Help My Son Guess Better,” 

 I’m so glad you asked this! Your son not knowing the exact answer to the question is actually just fine.  In fact, the questions in Preparing Hearts are meant to make kiddos pause to ponder what they think. This is much like real scientists do when trying to answer questions they don’t know the answers to but hope to discover by conducting experiments. “Real” science brings up a question kiddos probably do not know how to answer. This makes them pause in a state of confusion and really take time to “wonder” about possible answers. It is that pausing and wondering stage that really results in real thinking. If we step in and automatically give kiddos the “one-right answer”, then the child automatically stops wondering.  

Charlotte Mason desired for the child’s mind to do the work.

Charlotte Mason would say that we desire for the child’s mind to be doing the work rather than the parent’s mind. The one whose mind is doing the work is really doing the thinking. So, if every time the child has a question, we step in and give them the right answer, they will soon cease to wonder. Instead, the parent will be doing the thinking in trying to explain the concept to the child. While this may be helpful for the parent’s learning, it teaches the child to just wait until the parent (or some other source) reveals the answer.  

We share Charlotte Mason’s goals for children by wanting them to question what they read, see, and hear.

Our goal through Heart of Dakota’s science is to present kiddos with interesting living books about science and scientists that get kiddos thinking and wondering about God’s world. We desire for them to question what they read, see, and hear. We want to get them thinking like a scientist, instead of just accepting whatever they are told.  If you really think about it, not so many years ago we had far less answers about science than we do now. How did those scientists think scientifically if they didn’t know the “right” answers?  

Children can always look up more information on a subject if they desire to do so.

If your child desires to look up more information to find out more about a subject broached in HOD then that is a good thing. If, however, you take the initiative and look up answers for your child in order to give the child the right answers, then that has become a parent led quest to find the answer to just tell or reveal to your child. Do you see the difference? 

HOD’s science is written to encourage children to think like scientists.

We pray your children will learn to think like a scientist through HOD’s science. That is a different matter entirely than just learning the answers with very little thinking involved. While our younger guides do often lead the young child to some sort of guess based on the material provided, our guides for older students move away from this more and more (as the student is more able to think on a higher level as he/she matures). We want to encourage this type of higher-level thinking as much as possible. As kiddos read about real scientists and the questions they sought to answer, students will realize that questioning is the beginning of scientific thinking. 

 

Blessings, 

Carrie 

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,

Julie

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!

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

All in the family!

Heart of Dakota Tidbit

All in the family!

Did you know that the children who are pictured on the front of Little Hearts for His Glory, Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory, Bigger Hearts for His Glory, and Preparing Hearts for His Glory are our boys? The beautiful girl who is pictured is our niece from Texas, Rachel.

Have a great weekend!