Prepare for the school year by reading the guide’s “Introduction”!

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!


Top Ten Tips for Teaching Multiple Guides

What should I do for high school for my 14 year-old who struggles?

Dear Carrie

What should I do for high school for my sweet 14 year-old son who struggles?

My son is 14 and starting 9th grade next year. He struggles with dyslexia, slow processing, working memory issues, and organization/attention. I read history aloud to him in his current guide, Revival to Revolution, but he still has a hard time with comprehension. He often asks me to re-read what I’ve just read. Written Narrations are extremely difficult. He does the State Study, Independent History, and sometimes the notebooking on his own. However, he often has to redo assignments because he misread directions. He does okay with EE’s Science and loves the experiments, but the Inventor Study is hard for him. He does fine with R & S English 6. For DITHOR, I chose Mr. Poppers Penguins, as it has short chapters. He’s doing well with VideoText and enjoys Bible.

A Brief History of My Son’s Prior School Experience

My son attended public school from K-4th grade. He was diagnosed with apraxia of speech and sensory integration disorder, and put on the autism spectrum. Later, they determined he was not on the autism spectrum. So, he was placed in the classroom with a 504 plan due to dyslexia and anxiety. He wasn’t passing tests, and they wanted him on medication. So, we decided to homeschool, combining him with his brother in Bigger Hearts. It was hard, but he made it through PHFHG. When he started CTC, it became apparent he just couldn’t read. So, he did an Orton-Gillingham type program for 25 minute sessions with a therapist. He had some great tools to tackle reading and writing, so I tried to put him in RevtoRev. This is hard! He’s so sweet, well-mannered, and tries SO hard. I really struggle with the thought of high school next year. Help!


“Ms. Please Help My Sweet Son with His Struggles in School”

Dear “Ms. Please Help My Sweet Son with His Struggles in School,”

Thank you for sharing about your son! One thing that I am hearing in your post is the frustration and struggle that school is right now for both you and your son. While some struggle can just be a part of learning, overall we don’t want the entire day to be a struggle, nor do we want your son’s high school years to be a struggle! With this in mind, I think some perspective is needed. It sounds like you have gotten your son some help for his reading and have some new strategies to employ. However, he really isn’t able to get the full benefit from that training right now because the reading is too far above him. It’s also important to note that he would be on an IEP (with modifications) if he were in the public school, and you are already modifying for him anyway.

By placing your son in Creation to Christ, he will be able to complete all the guides through Missions to Modern Marvels.

So, with all of this in mind, I would be inclined to place him in Creation to Christ (CTC). This would allow him to complete all the guides through Missions to Modern Marvels (MTMM) by the time he graduates. We have had families follow this plan for their high school students in the past, and it would allow him to earn many of his needed credits. Since you are already having to modify anyway, it would be better to meet him more closely to where he is now and proceed forward, rather than having him struggle so much.

He will be able to do the CTC readings and plans more independently.

If he did CTC, it would be probable that he could do the readings himself. It would also be possible that he could do more of the boxes in the way in which they were truly written to be done. I agree that using a lower level book for Drawn into the Heart of Reading (DITHOR) is a good idea. It is important to meet him where he is and go forward from there. Otherwise, everything he does will always be a struggle and over his head.

Incremental steps toward higher level learning will be a huge benefit to him!

Correct placement will automatically ease some of your burden and his, by shortening the assignments and adjusting the workload for you. Doing full-speed CTC would be better balanced than doing half-speed Revival to Revolution (RevtoRev). Taking two years to do RevtoRev and another two years to do MTMM is not as good of a plan as doing CTC, RTR, RevtoRev, and MTMM. You can see that you will end up the same place in either plan (by completing MTMM as a senior). Yet, the education he will receive by doing four guides instead of two, and the incremental steps toward higher level learning he will gain will be of huge benefit to him!

Your son will benefit from the many building blocks in CTC just by doing the guide as it is written.

I would do CTC as written, except for doing Rod and Staff English 6. I’d even be inclined to do the Life Science/Biology as written, knowing this will be an area of modification anyway through the years. I would do the scheduled writing program, WWTB I too. There are so many building blocks in CTC for all areas of education that I think he could really benefit from as he matures. It would be an excellent stepping stone to what is to come.

An Encouraging Story from a Mom with a Similar Situation

To encourage you, I’ll share that you are not alone in considering doing CTC for your son’s first year of high school. There are many families who have done this in past. I will share that I had a mom who was in a similar situation to yours who did this several years ago. She has followed exactly the path you are considering with your son. Her son is now a senior, and she has called each year just to tell us how pleased she is with this path and what amazing changes she has seen in her son’s attitude toward school and his ability to work on his own.

He is also severely dyslexic. He also had behavior problems that caused him to be expelled from three schools prior to coming to Heart of Dakota at the last minute after his freshman year had officially begun. She says he is a new person now, not because his learning comes easily, but because he CAN do what he is being asked and feels good about being able to do it. He does his own reading and writing, even though it takes awhile. He began CTC partway into his freshman year and did it as written with the exception of doing No-Nonsense Algebra instead for the math. School does not have to be such a struggle to be a success!


Update from “Ms. Please Help My Sweet Son with His Struggles in School”

I just wanted to post an update and thank you, Carrie! Just hearing the reminder that my son would need an IEP and modifications in public school put a lot of things back in perspective for me. Also, I was very encouraged by your sharing about the student who did this plan for high school! So, we started Wednesday morning and WOW! What a difference! He read the history out loud to me. I helped a little when he got tired and read a paragraph here and there for him, but the reading level and length ended up being perfect. He completed the History Project box on his own and enjoyed it. We actually finished Unit 1 Day 1 within an actual day. I am so grateful for this advice. It is JUST what he needed. I don’t think I would have ever considered CTC on my own. Thank you!


Setting Up for Revival to Revolution

From Our House to Yours

Setting Up for Revival to Revolution

So, I’ve placed my children, had my Heart of Dakota  ‘box day,’ and am setting up for Revival to Revolution (RevtoRev). My first step is to read through RevtoRev’s Introduction, Appendix, and first week or month of plans. This helps me envision my year and understand what my guide covers. As each Introduction includes options (i.e. one large binder or several smaller binders, etc.), I like to note my chosen options in the margin of the Introduction. This way, I can easily make my shopping list later based on my notes. Likewise, it is important to read through the beginning pages and “Getting Started” section in the Appendix  of Drawn into the Heart of Reading (DITHOR).

Setting Up the Front of My Revival to Revolution Binder

First, I slide the extra preprinted full color RevtoRev Student Notebook cover in the front of my 3-ring binder. Second, I print the Introduction of the guide off the Internet (click here). I use the Table of Contents as my attendance record, noting the dates we completed each unit (i.e. Unit 1:  Sept. 2-6, 2019). Third, I print the first week of plans (click here), which is a nice overview. If your state requires a completed portfolio for meeting with a principal or umbrella school, the Introduction and first week of plans give an excellent overview. (Carrie gives permission for the Introduction and First Week of Plans to be printed or copied for portfolio compilation. However, any other photocopies or retyping of plans would be a copyright infringement.)

Creating the Inventor Study Notebook Pages and Binder

For the Inventor Study portion of science, RevtoRev’s Introduction suggests using a 3-ring binder with clear page protectors for the notebook assignments. Personally, I like to use a small 1/2 inch separate 3-ring binder for RevtoRev’s science, as it sets it apart and makes it special. I just slide in the extra preprinted full color RevtoRev Inventor Study Notebook cover in the front of the binder.

Label History, Geography, and History Projects Tab Dividers 

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 “HISTORY.” Behind this tab, I place RevtoRev’s history notebook pages inside clear page protectors. My child takes out the notebook page he is using for the week and puts it back in the page protector for safe keeping when he is done. If I have an older child using the history extensions, I place any completed 3-4 paragraph summaries or written narrations including his opinions here as well. Next, I label my second tab “GEOGRAPHY.” I place any of my child’s completed Map Trek assignments here (or, these can be put in a separate smaller binder instead). Then, I label my third tab “HISTORY PROJECTS.” I place any completed flat projects that are not part of the History Notebook here.

Label Language Arts and Math Tab Dividers

For language arts and math, there are many options. I could add more tabs to my history 3-ring binder or start tabs in a new smaller 3-ring binder. Or, I might not have a binder at all, but instead simply keep on hand the actual notebooks and workbooks in their entirety. If I choose to add to my history 3-ring binder, I would label my fourth tab “LANGUAGE ARTS.” For DITHOR, I would choose some completed workbook pages to include. Likewise, for the R & S English 5 or 6 written work and for the spelling/dictation written work, I would choose a handful of completed pages for the binder. For The Exciting World of Creative Writing, I would include samples of my child’s writing.  Finally, I’d label my fifth tab “MATH” and include some completed math workbook pages.

Things Either to Do at the Start Or to Do As They Come Up in the Plans

If I want to use photocopies of DICTATION instead of the Appendix, I photocopy the passages and label a composition notebook ‘DICTATION.’ For SCIENCE, I use use the provided code on the Exploration Education box to load it on my computer, so it is ready to go. For GEOGRAPHY, I either print the Map Trek maps right away, or I do this as it comes up in the plans. Personally, I like to print all of the already labeled Map Trek maps in color and the maps for my student to write on in black and white at the start. However, you can always view the colored maps on your computer screen instead of printing them and just print the black and white maps.

Setting Up for Grammar, Math, Music Appreciation, Bible Quiet Time, Biblical Worldview, and Common Place Book Entries

For the written work in English GRAMMAR, I label a lined composition book ‘GRAMMAR.’ For MATH, I choose to either have my child write directly in the textbooks/workbooks, to use loose-leaf paper, or to use a lined notebook. If I choose a lined notebook, I label it ‘MATH.’ For the science INVENTOR STUDY, I put the notebooking pages in a small 1/2 inch separate binder and slide the full-color notebook cover in the front.

For MUSIC APPRECIATION, I choose either to print the project pages from the Composers: Hands-on Activity Pak CD and place them in separate labeled ziplock bags, or I do this as they come up in the plans.  Next, for BIBLE QUIET TIME, I photocopy from the Appendix Possible Prayer Starters. For BIBLICAL WORLDVIEW, I label a lined notebook or journal for my child’s written work. Finally, I choose a special lined and bound book for my child’s COMMON PLACE BOOK, which is described in the Copywork section of RevtoRev’s Introduction.

Setting Up for Drawn into the Heart of Reading (DITHOR)

You can either set up DITHOR at the start or do it as you move through the plans. If I do this at the startI fill out the DITHOR 6/7/8 Student Book “Reading Calendar.” Using HOD’s “Optional Book Recommendations,” I fill in the page numbers to be read each day. For example, if my son is using the DITHOR Level 6/7 Book Pack, I see ’10 days’ next to Biography: Behind Rebel Lines. So, I divide the total number of pages or chapters in Rebel Lines by 10 and fill out the first 10 days of the Reading Calendar accordingly.

Then, as I see ‘5 days’ next to Biography: America’s Paul Revere, I divide the total number of pages by 5. As there are 46 total pages, I divide 46 by 5 and fill in the reading calendar for about 9 pages a day. I might do this for each genre or just the first one. Also, I might choose my first genre kickoff in my DITHOR Teacher’s Guide.

Label Sticky Tabs to Mark Places in the RevtoRev Guide

Next, I label sticky tabs to mark places in my guide. I label the first tab “DAILY PLANS,” placing it on Unit 1, Day 1. Then, I label the next tabs “DICTATION,” “POETRY,” and “MATH,” placing them in the Appendix.  Likewise, if my child is using the extensions, I label another tab “EXTENSIONS.” Finally, for DITHOR, I label 2 tabs “DAILY PLANS,” placing one in the teacher’s guide and one in the student book.

Special Items for RevtoRev

There are a few special items needed for RevtoRev. By this time I already know which items I’ll need, because I wrote them in the margin of my Introduction or first week of daily plans earlier. Some things I noted are a globe, a children’s Bible, and a small set of oil pastels. I also noted I’d need a CD player for What in the World Volume III? and for the audios in the Independent History Study box and the Extension Package.

Likewise, I noted I’d either need a CD player or a CD-ROM computer player to listen to the Story of Classical Music for the Music Appreciation box of plan. Similarly, I noted I’d need a CD-ROM computer player for the Map Trek CD, for the Composer Hands-On Activity Pak CD, and for the Exploration Education CD. If using the Extension Package, I noted I’d need a DVD player for the American Testimony DVD. Finally, I noted any special supplies from the Lap Book Assembly instructions on the Composer Activity Pak CD.

Teacher and Student Narrations Skills’ Lists

One final thing I liked to do is make a photocopy of the Narration Tips: Teacher’s List, How to Narrate: Student’s List, Written Narration Skills: Teacher’s List, and/or Written Narration Skills: Student’s List.  Carrie does give permission to photocopy these. I keep the teacher’s list for me to reference and the student’s list for my child to reference. However, you can always just put another tab in your RevtoRev guide and label it “NARRATION TIPS,” if you’d rather.

Shopping for Supplies

Carrie’s plans use readily available household supplies, and many options are suggested. I just skim the History Project plans every month or so, to look for the one-off supply. However, to get ready to begin RevtoRev, I just stock up on usual art supplies, like crayons, colored pencils, thick and thin markers, a few permanent markers and high-lighters, glue (sticks and liquid), scissors, construction paper, tissue paper (colored), tape (masking and clear), a ruler, a yardstick, playdough/modeling clay, sticky notes, paints/paintbrushes, cotton balls, yarn/string, etc. I also stock up on index cards, page protectors, and a few catalogs. Finally, a flashlight, deck of cards, bouncy ball, paperclips, paper plates, food coloring, marker board with dry erase markers, and q-tips/toothpicks are also nice to have on hand.

Sorting Resources into “Things We Need Now” and “Things We Need Later” Bins or Totes

One of the last things I do is get two canvas bins.  I use one for ‘things we need now’ and the other for ‘things we need later.’ As I read through each box of my first week of RevtoRev’s plans, I put each needed resource in the bin  for ‘things we need now.’ I put the remaining items in the bin for ‘things we need later.’ Throughout the year as we finish using resources, I put them in the back of the ‘things we need later’ bin, and I move the next books or resources we need into the ‘things we need now’ bin or tub. This way, my ‘things we need now’ bin only contains what we need for each week. Another benefit is the ‘things we need now’ are always mobile! Likewise, I put many art supplies in a tool turnabout, so these are mobile too!

In Christ,


Placement for a Freshman New to HOD Who Struggles with Spelling and Writing

Pondering Placement

Where would you place a freshman new to HOD who struggles with spelling and writing?

This was our first year homeschooling. Spelling has been a constant struggle. No matter what we do, he doesn’t retain it. He reads well for his age (Chuck Black books), especially regarding his spelling struggles. As far as his writing…he can write….it just takes a LOT of effort on both of our parts. I’ve ordered R & S English level 5 for him. I chose not to deal with this until now, as he was unwilling to work on it. But, he finally came to me 2 nights ago and said he needed to learn about adverbs, adjectives, etc., so he could write better. Detoxing my boys from PS has been a much longer process than I anticipated. But, we have also made a lot of progress, so I know he will catch up! So, where would you place a freshman new to HOD with spelling and writing struggles?

Carrie’s Reply: I would be inclined to place him in either Revival to Revolution or Missions to Modern Marvels.

Thanks so much for taking time to share about your son!   It really helps to get a fuller picture of where he is at skill-wise. From what you’ve shared, I think I would be inclined to place him in either Revival to Revolution or Missions to Modern Marvels. This is because placement in HOD is very skill-based. Correct placement makes a huge difference in how successful a child is in his/her guide.

Writing, grammar, literature, and spelling are important skills wound in all subject areas.

Writing, grammar, literature, and spelling are a big part of HOD. This is because these skills are wound within all of the subject areas. Since our guides lean heavily in the Charlotte Mason direction in many areas, it helps so much if your child is comfortable with some of these skills gradually before working into the higher level of version of the skills later. We do want to place your son appropriately in writing, grammar, literature, and spelling to make sure that he gains the needed skills he is ready for in these areas.

I would lean toward doing Revival to Revolution, English 5, DITHOR 6/7/8, and The Exciting World of Creative Writing.

I would encourage you to take a good look at Revival to Revolution and Missions to Modern Marvels. See which would be the best fit in the areas of writing, grammar, literature, and spelling. I’d lean toward having your freshman do Revival to Revolution with the Extension Package and with Rod and Staff English 5 (as scheduled in Rev2Rev). I would recommend using the Drawn into the Heart of Reading Level 6/7/8 Student Book with the Level 7/8 Book Pack. He can also do Level 5 dictation along with The Exciting World of Creative Writing, as scheduled in Revival to Revolution. Your son would also do the Exploration Education Physical Science Advanced Version (which is high school level Physical Science). He would do the inventor study as well. I think this would be a good fit for your freshman.

Thoughts on Government, Fine Arts, Foreign Language, and Bible 

He would need to add something for government (as he wouldn’t get to that in our final two high school guides). As there is a composer study in Rev2Rev, you could add to it to award 1/2 credit in Fine Arts music appreciation. To award this 1/2 credit, you’d need to get to 70 hours. There will already be around 45-50 hours in the study as scheduled in the guide. Then, when your son reaches World History for his senior year, you could do borrow the Government from U.S. History I and put it in place of the Fine Arts elective. So your son would use Rev2Rev as is, except for adding government (possibly adding foreign language study and beefing up the Bible). Suggestions are given in the Rev2Rev for high school thread, if you do decide to go this route.

I think these recommendations would fit your son’s skill level well and still push him in many areas.

The reason I would lean in this direction is that I think it would fit your son’s skill level well and still push him in many areas. The grammar will be daily and significant, while the writing will be more than he is used to as we write across the curriculum all throughout the school day. He would do copywork daily as well in a variety of subjects and do written narrations. The literature study through DITHOR sounds like it will be a new set of skills too, which would be good. We want to solidify those important skills before jumping up into guides that assume these skills are in place.

Looking Ahead to the Following Years

Looking ahead to the following year, he could do MTMM with all of English 6 (as scheduled in MTMM), WWTB II for high school level composition (as scheduled in MTMM), and Drawn into the Heart with either some high school level classics of your own choosing or with a DITHOR Book Pack instead. He would also continue with studied dictation. This Bible in MTMM is credit-worthy, and you would add Economics (and possibly Foreign Language). There is a thread that explains how to do this as well for high school, should you decide to go that route. This guide includes Chemistry, which would need some supplementing. Or, you could borrow IPC for the science from the World Geography guide. As a junior, he would do the World Geography guide as written. As a senior, he would do the World History guide.

This overall plan would give him the needed core credits.

This overall plan would give him the needed American history, government, economics, geography, and world history credits for high school. It would also give him Physical Science, Chemistry, Integrated Physics and Chemistry, and Biology credits with lab for science. It would give him a credit each year in English. Math would need to be at his level each year to earn a credit each year there. That takes care of your core credits of history, science, English, and Math.

This plan would also give him electives.

In Bible, he would earn a full credit two years (from the World Geography and World History Guides) and a 1/2 credit in MTMM. He’d also earn 1/2 credit in logic, 1/2 credit in World Religion & Cultures, 1/2 credit in health, and 1/2 to 1 full credit in Fine Arts, either in music or art appreciation . He would gain 1/2 credit in foreign language in the World Geography and 1/2 credit in foreign language in the World History Guide too. I share this so you can gain a picture that it would be possible to follow this plan for high school and still have your son earn the credits he needs for graduation. If instead, you felt MTMM was a better fit, you could go that route instead for his freshman year. If you have questions as you pursue your options, let us know. We’d be glad to help!






April Library Builder: Save 10% on the Revival to Revolution Basic Set!

Library Builder

Use coupon code APRIL-LIBRARY for 10% on this month’s Library Builder book set: The Revival to Revolution Basic Package!

We are excited to continue our  Heart of Dakota Library Builder book set promotion! On the 1st Wednesday of each month we will be promoting one of our book sets with a 10% coupon code. For this month’s special, use coupon code APRIL-LIBRARY on our website for the entire month of April to apply the savings to your order. The coupon applies to the Revival to Revolution Basic Package set of books.   To view all of the books in this set, just click here! (Scroll down until you see the “History Read-Alouds” section.)

How is the Basic Package used in Revival to Revolution?

Well, we could tell you, but why reinvent the wheel? Carrie and Julie have already done an excellent job of outlining how these books are used in the Revival to Revolution Introduction, so why don’t we have a quick look at that?

(From the Introduction to Revival to Revolution):

Daily storytime sessions are linked to the “Reading about History” box of the plans by similar historical time period. These books provide the historical backdrop, or a panoramic view of history, while the “Reading about History” readings provide a more factual view.

These scheduled read-alouds are highly recommended, unless you need to
economize. Complete listings and book descriptions for these books can be found in the Appendix. These books are sold as a set as a Basic Package, or sold individually, at

The “Storytime” box of plans includes oral narration practice and higher  level thinking questions specific to each day’s reading. Analysis, synthesis, and evaluation questions are meant to encourage reflection about the readings and promote higher-level thinking.

Analysis level questions focus on examining and breaking information into parts, identifying motives or causes, making inferences, and finding evidence to support generalizations.

Questions at the synthesis level require students to compile information together in a different way by combining elements in a new pattern or proposing alternative solutions.

Questions at the evaluation level require students to present and defend opinions by making judgments about information, validity of ideas, or quality of work based on a set of criteria. Definitions of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation questions are related to Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Leading students to think in this manner goes beyond finding one right answer. Rather, students are encouraged to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate what they’ve read to reach their own conclusions.

Note: If you are already doing a Storytime package with a different Heart of Dakota program, you may choose to have 6th-7th grade students read the books in this package on their own by following the plans in the “Storytime” box.

Use coupon code APRIL-LIBRARY to save!

To apply this month’s savings, just enter coupon code APRIL-LIBRARY on our website when you check out! We hope these books will be as treasured to you as they are to us!

Have a great rest of the week!
Heart of Dakota

PS: If you’d like a more in-depth look at what using Revival to Revolution looks like in your home, have a look at this article!

Revival to Revolution: Homeschool Program for Ages 11-13, with Extensions for Ages 14-15