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

Placement for Multiple Ages of Preschool and Kindergarten Children

Pondering Placement

Question:  Please help me with placement for my multiple ages of preschool and kindergarten children!

Hello Heart of Dakota!  I have a question about placement for multiple ages of preschool and kindergarten aged children. I have a 3 year old, a 4 year old and a 1.5 year old. My two older kids will be 4 and 5 in the fall. I am wondering where you would place them? We have started Little Hands to Heaven with the older two, and they both really enjoy it!

Do you think I would be better off trying to draw out Little Hands for an extra half a year to be able to combine them both in Little Hearts the following year (a 6 and 5 year old)? Or, should I just go ahead and do all of Little Hearts with my son this coming year with a prayer that I don’t get overwhelmed running two, and down the road three programs? I’m just not sure what to do with my five year old this coming year if I do combine them. Only doing Little Hands doesn’t seem  like it would be enough for him even adding in math and phonics. But, my desire to combine them is strong. What would you do? I want learning time to be fun… oooh, I dislike making decisions like this!!  Please help!

Answer: As your two oldest children are close in age, combining them makes good sense.

Hello!  I agree that since your oldest two children are so close in age, it will be a good idea to combine them as much as possible down the road. So, with that in mind, I’d continue with Little Hands to Heaven (possibly 3-4 days a week for this year). Then, next year, I would pick it back up and finish Little Hands.

When your 4 year old is close to 5 (or seems ready), you can easily begin to add any K options from Little Hearts that she’s ready to do. Possible options would include a phonics program, the first handwriting workbook (A Reason for Writing K or Italic A), the Do It Carefully/Finding the Answers fine motor skills workbooks, and/or the Essentials Kindergarten Math A and B with hands-on activities from the Little Hearts guide. By adding the pieces you feel your oldest is ready to utilize when she’s ready, you won’t be holding her back in any way but will also get a chance to steep her in the Bible through Little Hands and keep her with your younger one.

If you do happen to go through Little Hands to Heaven faster that is fine too, as you could always slow Little Hearts down to half-speed when you get there. So, don’t feel like you must draw Little Hands out more than you’d like. Simply do what your kiddos are ready for, and you won’t go wrong.

Blessings,
Carrie

P.S. For more info on Little Hands to Heaven, click here!

P.S.S. For more info on Little Hearts for His Glory, click here!