Bigger Hearts for His Glory Notebook Question

Dear Carrie

My question is about the new Bigger Hearts for His Glory Notebook!  But, first a little background!  

I have a question about the new Bigger Hearts… notebook, but first I want to share a little about our family! We have used Heart of Dakota now for 3 years, and I AM ACTUALLY GETTING ALL OUR SCHOOL DONE!  GLORY HALLELUJAH! I’m loving the structure and heart behind HOD! I feel that this is right for us! As a reformed curriculum junkie, I have quit frantically trying to find “it.” I love how uncomplicated HOD makes schooling! It has been a joy and so peaceful in my house the last few years. We are learning as a family, though we are doing separate guides, and it keeps us balanced!

Heart of Dakota is a literature-based program that works well with many little ones!

If you are considering HOD, I highly recommend it. I have an 8.5 year old, 6 year old, 3.5 year old, and an almost 2 year old. Like I mentioned, we are able to finish our school every day! It has been manageable – and FUN! I. HAVE. HAD. FUN. teaching and watching my kids enjoy our homeschooling. In the past I tried a different literature-based program, because I wanted to read to my children. The thing was I couldn’t get all the HUGE amount of reading done.

The key concepts help keep us on track!

With so many moving bodies and interruptions, I was constantly getting behind and frustrated. Especially frustrated by not being able to tie the concepts together for my daughter. HOD’s key concepts keep us on track, and I love how the lessons are woven together. A BIG thank you to Mrs. Austin from this momma!!!

So, now that my oldest is moving into Bigger Hearts, here is my question about the new notebook!

We are getting ready to order Bigger Hearts for His Glory.  I wondered if I order it now, is the guide now updated to match the new notebooking pages?  If the Bigger Hearts… guide isn’t yet updated, will the new notebooking pages work with the old guide? Thanks!


“Momma of Many Littles Asking about Bigger Heart’s Notebook”

Dear “Momma of Many Littles Asking about Bigger Heart’s Notebook,”

Thank you so much for sharing about your family! We had such fun creating the new notebooking pages for Bigger Hearts…!  It has been something I’ve wanted to do for awhile but until I finished writing the high school guides, I just didn’t have the time. When creating the notebook pages for Bigger Hearts, I tried to stay as close as possible to the previous notebook assignments in earlier versions of the Bigger Hearts guides.

In the end, I would say that about 75%-80% of the notebooking assignments will work quite closely to the way I wrote the plans in the previous versions of the Bigger Hearts guide. The other 20%-25% of the assignments also correspond with the plans in previous versions of the guide. But, the student may not know exactly what to do with the page as their part has changed. You can click here for samples of the notebook pages.

A large foldable timeline is also included in the notebook pages.

There is also a large foldable timeline to assemble at the end of the notebook pages. If you have an earlier version of the Bigger Hearts guide, you can find assembly directions for the Bigger Hearts timeline on Unit 1 – Day 5 in the “Timeline” Box of the sample plans on our website. We have updated those sample pages, so they show the 2018 version of the plans. You can click here for those plans!

I hope this helps! Of course, if you have a previous version of the guide it still works as written without the new pages. Either way, happy notebooking!





5 Simple Tips to Fully Enjoy Heart of Dakota’s Creation to Christ Notebooking Pages

From Our House to Yours

Creating a “Beautiful” Notebook

Heart of Dakota’s Creation to Christ is the first year kiddos get to write in those beautiful full-color notebooks! As HOD moms, we eagerly await this rite of passage, and we just can’t wait to begin a special keepsake of the year using those lovely notebooking pages! And they ARE lovely. But, the writing and pictures and entries kiddos make on those lovely pages can be… well, lovely and not-so-lovely. So what should we expect as moms for first-time notebook users?

Expect the Plans to Be Done

#1 – Expect the plans to be done, but give extra ‘grace’ as this is a training year!

Heart of Dakota Creation to Christ Notebooking Pages
Creation to Christ Notebook Timeline pictures

So, when the Creation to Christ plans say for kiddos to draw, color, and label 3 timeline pictures; they need to strive to do that. When the plans say a certain number of sentences for their written narration; they need to strive to write that number of sentences. When the plans say for a certain passage to be copied in cursive; they need to strive to do that. However, progress should be evident! In other words, improvement from the start to the finish of the notebook should be visually obvious. The first entries being less ‘lovely’ or ‘complete’ than the last. Remember to give grace, especially at the start of the year, knowing this is a training year for learning how to use the notebooks.

Encourage Writing Within the Boxes

#2 – Encourage writing within the boxes, but understand this may be hard at first!

Learning to write inside the boxes is a skill in itself. Often students just don’t notice the edges of the boxes, and they could just write outside of them not knowing the goal is to try to stay inside them. So, just pointing out the goal is to stay inside the boxes and the frames of the boxes are the stopping places is very helpful! Students’ writing is also often larger, especially if they are on the younger side of the target age range of CTC. Learning to ‘shrink’ their writing is also a skill in itself. It takes time, but little by little encouraging students to develop fine motor skills to write smaller within a defined area is well worth it!

Know When the Goal Is Met

#3 – Know when the goal is met and call it ‘good enough’ then!

Carrie makes clear in the guides the goals for each part of the plans. The Introduction, the Appendix, and the daily plans of each guide help us know when a ‘goal’ is met. So, for example, the goal of the timeline is to keep a chronological record of what has been studied. It is not to have a beautiful artistic drawing – though some kiddos will be able to do that too! The goal of the written narration is to retell the history reading using guided questions. It is not to answer every question perfectly, as if it was a quiz to be mastered – creativity is allowed! So, if the student wrote the designated number of sentences (even if it was the minimum suggested), if the student answered some/most of the questions, and if the answers make quite good sense… the goal is met, and it can be deemed ‘good enough’!

Writing Must Be Legible

#4 – Writing must be legible, but not perfect!

Heart of Dakota Creation to Christ Notebooking Pages
Writing must be legible . . . but not perfect!

The ‘loveliness’ of students’ writing will vary greatly, and that is alright. What is not alright is if it just cannot be read at all! One sure-fire way to help kiddos understand this is to have them read aloud their written narrations with pencil in hand. As they read aloud to us, they can be encouraged to make changes they need to as they read. Often times, they will catch missing words, misspelled words, missing punctuation, etc. themselves. That only serves to help us have less to edit later with them!

If they cannot read their own writing, they will begin to understand that no one else will be able to read it either… and the real shame here is NOT that their writing is not perfect… it is that their ideas, their responses, their thoughts will not be able to be shared with others – and their ideas are what we LOVE… so writing must be legible, but it need not be perfect.

Editing Is a Skill to Be Learned

#5 – Editing is a skill to be learned one step at a time!

Editing is a process, and slow but steady progress is the goal. The best thing to do is to use the Written Narration Skills: Teacher’s List and the Written Narration Skills: Student’s List in the Appendix of CTC. Step 1 should be taught first; then, move on to Step 2, and so forth.

Focusing on teaching ONE skill at a time in the order it is listed will help you avoid overwhelming your child with too many skills at once, and will give your child a manageable plan for editing writing. This slow and steady process helps students improve one step at a time, and ensures we as moms do not to tip over to expecting perfection by making a student erase and rewrite everything; or by making them write everything twice. Written narrations are not to have a first, second, third draft. Making students do so will only cause them to dislike written narrations… intensely!

Heart of Dakota Creation to Christ Notebooking Page
Creation to Christ Unit 19 Notebooking Page

So, here you will see my son’s CTC Student Notebook… and this is the halfway mark, as he is in Units 18-19! Progress in many areas is evident, but more progress is expected as we move forward! It is LOVELY in its own way, and I look forward to it becoming more and more so as he becomes better and better at each of these amazing skills, step-by-step!!!

The next time your child works on a notebook entry for his/her Heart of Dakota guide, keep these tips in mind and see what you think!

In Christ,

How to Create a Charlotte Mason Timeline and Book of Centuries with Heart of Dakota

More Than a Charlotte Mason Moment

Creating a Charlotte Mason Timeline and Book of Centuries

Children will need to have the sense that what they’re reading has a specific time when it happened before their collection of knowledge gets too vast. To do this, make a century table, something like a timeline chart only longer. To make one, divide a long sheet of heavy paper into twenty columns. Put the first century in the center and let the rest of the columns represent a century, either B.C. or A.D. Let the child write the names of people he reads about in the the century they belong to. At this point, children don’t need to focus on exact dates, but this simple table of the centuries will give the child a graphic memory of when things happened. He will have a panorama of events pictured in his mind in the correct order.
                                                                                                                      – Charlotte Mason

Charlotte Mason’s column timeline is part of Beyond Little Heart’s… and Bigger Heart’s history plans.
Charlotte Mason's column timeline in Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory
Charlotte Mason’s column timeline in Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory

Heart of Dakota begins with Charlotte Mason‘s suggestion for a column timeline in Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory and Bigger Hearts for His Glory. Children don’t really have a good grasp of the flow of history at that age. Seeing events in 50-100 year columns on a single or double page helps them better understand the flow of time. Prior to writing these guides, Carrie’s oldest son kept a separate timeline book for his beginning 5 years of schooling. He used cut and paste figures. Since then, we’ve found much greater retention and connection for younger kiddos when we switched to the method described here. Drawing and labeling the figures really helps cement the people and events in young children’s minds. It forces them to interact with the material more and makes it personal (and also very engaging to look at)!

A wall or accordion-style timeline is part of Preparing Hearts… history plans.
Wall timeline in Preparing Hearts for His Glory
Wall timeline in Preparing Hearts for His Glory

Next, we move into our one year overview of world history with Preparing Hearts for His Glory. We step the timeline up a level to either a wall timeline or an accordian-folded timeline. This also is designed to give a feel for the major events in the flow of history. It provides mental pegs for children to hang their history readings upon in the future. Children of this age are more invested in their timelines when they complete the work themselves. Doing it themselves means more to them because of the work it has taken them to produce the timeline.

A chronological continuous timeline using a 4-year cycle is part of Creation to Christ through Missions to Modern Marvels.
Chronological continuous timeline in Heart of Dakota's 4-year history cycle
Chronological continuous timeline in Heart of Dakota’s 4-year history cycle

Once we move to Creation to Christ, we begin a chronological flow to history using a 4-year cycle. At that point we do begin a continuous timeline, which will be added to each year. However, we do not do it in isolation but rather within a beautiful full-color Student Notebook. This adds depth to timeline entries by providing places for written narrations, copywork, sketches, and maps (alongside the timeline). Many history connections can be made, as the timeline book is not separated from the rest of the children’s work. The student adds a new section to the Student Notebook each year through each guide from CTC to MTMM. The result is one large beautiful volume completed over 4 years.

A Charlotte Mason-style Book of Centuries is kept as part of Heart of Dakota’s 4 years of high school.
Book of Centuries in Heart of Dakota's 4-year high school curriculum
Book of Centuries in Heart of Dakota’s 4-year high school curriculum

Finally, in high school students begin keeping a Book of Centuries.
Carrie researched and read much about Charlotte Mason’s version of a Book of Centuries. There is much to love about her approach. Heart of Dakota’s approach is similar to hers in some ways and a bit different in others. Our Book of Centuries has a two-page spread for each century. This is in keeping with Charlotte Mason (except earlier centuries are combined as there are less known dates to record).

The right side of each two-page spread includes horizontal lines to record entries.

The right side of each two-page spread has horizontal lines. Each line represents an increment of 5 or 10 years in the century. To record an event on the timeline, students first locate the correct century. Then, they write a word or phrase to represent the event on the correct line within that century. This allows students to see at a glance events that defined the century.

The left side of each two-page spread includes customized portrait/picture gallery images.

The left side of each two-page spread is a portrait/picture gallery of people/events from the century. Amy Pak’s beautiful hand-drawn timeline images and descriptions coincide with Heart of Dakota’s plans. A customized printable CD for each guide helps students make a special keepsake Book of Centuries through high school. This portrait gallery replaces Charlotte Mason’s version of the left side of the two-page spread. Her students were instructed to draw artifacts, clothing, and instruments from the century on the left page. While this is also a great visual for the century, as part of this assignment Charlotte Mason’s students regularly visited museums to sketch from the real artifacts. A luxury we don’t tend to have in our day to day homeschooling.

Charlotte Mason was not focused on memorizing exact dates but rather on comprehending the flow of time.

Carrie and I find it interesting that Charlotte Mason was not focused upon memorizing exact dates in which events occurred. Instead, she felt that comprehending a flow of time was more important. In thinking back, we memorized many historical dates through our high school and college years, and then promptly forgot them. It is interesting to note we still struggle to place things within a flow of time. We have little memory of what events or people share a century. We must continually refer to timelines to refresh our memory as to what happened when and what events proceeded others. Charlotte Mason’s reasoning and thoughts on the keeping of a Book of Centuries resonate with us! We are glad our children will have a different experience than us! Who knows?!? Maybe their Book of Centuries will be a reference tool for them for years to come? Or at the least, a lovely memory of years we spent together enjoying history Charlotte Mason-style through high school!

Personal Style Within the Structure of the Plans, Part 1

From Our House to Yours

Can you encourage personal style within the provided structure of Heart of Dakota’s plans?

Absolutely! In fact, the opportunity for personal style is naturally part of the plans already. How are both included, you may ask? Well, the daily plans provide specific guidelines for each school subject, which gives structure for each assignment. This type of structure might include how many sentences a written narration should be, what topics need to be narrated upon, which timeline entries need to be made, etc. Structure gives needed parameters, but it need not squelch the creativity of personal style!

How can students get creative with their personal style then?

Good question! Well, the good news is personal style is completely a natural part of a living books approach to learning, and a living books approach to learning is part of every Heart of Dakota guide. Narrations include structure in the plans, such as which books to narrate upon, which pages within that book to narrate upon, and which kind of narration to give. But, they also encourage personal style by letting each student choose what to retell, which parts to give more attention, and what connections are made. This is the opposite of a textbook/workbook approach, which include “just the facts ma’am.” Likewise, the varied assessments included in the structure of Heart of Dakota’s plans are the opposite of a worksheet, quizzes, and tests only plan for assessments, which include just one right answer.

Do you have some examples of personal style being encouraged within the structure of the plans?

Well, yes I do! Glad you asked because this is what I wanted to share with you this week in my weekly check-in! Let’s start with my son, Emmett, in Creation to Christ.

Timeline Entry Assignment
Creation to Christ Timeline Entry Assignment - Unit 23
Creation to Christ Timeline Entry Assignment – Unit 23

Structure in the Plans:

  • 3 timeline entries must be made
  • specific pictures must be drawn
  • captions must be written

Personal Style:

  • drew his own pictures
  • colored the pictures how he wanted
  • chose to write his labels in either cursive or print



A Few Things to Remember:

This isn’t a drawing assignment, so if the timeline pictures are not of art quality – in the name of personal style – let it be! However, structure demands the right 3 things are drawn labeled with the proper captions.

Geography Travel Log Assignment
Creation to Christ Geography Travel Log
Creation to Christ Geography Travel Log

Structure in the Plans:

Personal Style:

  • chose his own Travel Log template
  • decided on his own 3 topics to write about
  • chose his own picture to draw

A Few Things to Remember:

This isn’t a quiz, so if your student didn’t write a summary of what was learned – in the name of personal style – let it be! However, structure demands the 3 written topics and the 1 drawing must be pertinent to the geography reading.

Poetry Appreciation Assignment:
Creation to Christ Poetry Appreciation
Creation to Christ Poetry Appreciation

Structure in the Plans:

  • required to read the poem pausing at punctuation marks
  • write the given stanza
  • must follow the steps to watercolor paint

Personal Style:

  • chose his own way of doing the painting
  • decided on his own small picture to draw
  • chose where to place his index card

A Few Things to Remember:

This isn’t an art appreciation assignment (it’s a poetry appreciation assignment), so if your student didn’t paint a jaw-dropping picture – in the name of personal style – let it be! However, structure demands the steps for creating the painting and the steps for creating the card be followed. A ‘perfect’ model was not given for him to look at. This encourages the personal style as opposed to exactly duplicating someone else’s painting.

Part 2 – World Geography Next Week!

Next weekly check-in, I’ll share Part 2 of this series on personal style within the structure of the plans in regard to my son Riley, who is completing World Geography this year. Then, the following weekly check-in, I’ll share Part 3 of this series in regard to my son Wyatt, who is completing U.S. History II this year. For now, I’ll just sign off saying… Happy Homeschooling to all you lovely ladies!

In Christ,

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