Thursday, August 13, 2015

Curriculum Choices 2015

This year, all three of our children are in their own Heart of Dakota guide!  So far, it seems like it is completely do-able!  After 5 completed school days, we’re just starting to figure out how our routine will flow to keep everyone on task, happy, and out of mischief.  We’ve had a few bumps along the way (and one reaaallllly bad day!), but I think by the end of August, we’ll have a decent flow to our day!

Heart of Dakota is just sooooo easy to use, and it’s beautifully Christ-centered.  As long as we feel it’s working well for our family, we will continue to use their curriculum as our core.  (I’d like to say we’ll use it forever, as I think we will, but you just never know!)


Using three different programs may sound complicated, but we have discovered the Heart of Dakota is SO easy to use that it’s really not a big deal…at least not at this point.  HOD slowly eases children in to independent learning, so they are gradually learning to do more and more on their own.

We’re trying to begin our day by doing a devotional reading together in the living room.  I discovered this book series through an HOD Facebook group, and I felt like it could be a good fit for all three kids this year.   We are reading a devotion each Monday, and then reading the suggested Bible readings/doing the suggested activity throughout the week.

As far as individual work time, I need 20 minutes to devote to Jensyn. (Alex does copywork and spelling practice, Max does handwriting and Rod & Staff workbook).

Then I need about 30 minutes to work with Max.  (Jensyn colors, does her ‘worksheet’ for the day, or runs off to play in her bedroom.  Alex is supposed to work on math, once I’ve given him instructions.  So far, he has daydreamed, listened in on Max’s lessons, and found other ways to waste time. I *think* I can fix this issue soon when he makes some changes in math.)

At this point, I take a break to read Max his storytime book for the day.  All 3 kids can listen to the story if they’d like.  Kids can get snacks or drinks, too.

Once Max is finished, he can run off to play while I work with Alex (at least an hour to finish math, read history together, review his Bible verse and do a brief Bible lesson, do science, etc.)

After lunch, I can do Alex’s read-aloud and finish up any of the occasional bigger projects (art/science) that would have disrupted our morning.

Heart of Dakota is our core for each child, but they also have a few additional resources.  Here’s a breakdown of child’s materials this year.

Jensyn ~ Little Hands To Heaven

We used Little Hands To Heaven with Max a few years ago, and we LOVED it!  It’s simple, sweet, Bible-based, and only takes 20 – 30 minutes to complete each day.  We supplement by adding a few free printable pages each day, and we will likely add in the Rod & Staff Preschool ABC series workbooks soon. 

I love the New Bible In Pictures for this age group.  The stories are not told quite like a traditional Bible story book.  It encourages thought and asks interesting questions.

We have an older guide, which recommends different devotional books than the ones currently recommended by Heart of Dakota.  I purchased (used, online) both of those books, but I still prefer Big Thoughts For Little People(If I was using LHTH with a 5 year old, I would use My ABC Bible Verses, though!)

As for the rest, I spent some time this summer collecting a variety of printables from online so that Jensyn could do a page each day and feel like a ‘big kid’.  Here’s a list of some of the printables we’re using.


Playdough Mats from 123Homeschool4Me

Bingo Marker Alphabet Letter Find

School Sparks Alphabet Letter “Mazes”

Over The Big Moon Letter Identification Dot Marker Pages

Max ~ Little Hearts For His Glory


We used Little Hearts For His Glory with Alex, and we absolutely adored it!  I was very excited to use it again with Max!  I just breathe a great big sigh of relief when I think about how ‘open and go’ it is.  There’s pretty much no advance planning for Mom – just open the guide each morning and get started!  It gets even better when you realize that this program is so amazingly Christ-centered!

LHFHG offers two Bible options.  I haven’t used the other Bible option, but I do know that we really enjoy the Family Time Bible In Pictures.  Max loves the pictures in this Bible!

We are mainly sticking with HOD’s recommendations for all subject areas, but Max is using Rod and Staff’s “Going On Eagerly” book.  HOD recommends books D & F for kindergarten or G & J for 1st grade.  We happen to own “G”, so we’re using it.


I’m also using a different handwriting choice for Max.  I prefer a traditional handwriting style, yet I’m not a fan of the page setup in “A Reason For…” which is recommended by HOD.  After lots of hunting, I found this Universal Handwriting’s newest publication with a fun little activity on each page. Max started it last spring, and he’s continuing through this book now.  When he is finished, we will likely move on to the next book in the series in order to solidify his letter formation before he starts copywork with Beyond next year.

151_2_300Max is a math whiz.  It’s just his ‘thing’!  So we skipped Singapore Essential Kindergarten Book A and started him off (this past spring) with Essential Kindergarten Book B.  He’s enjoying it and doing very well so far!  We will move on to Singapore 1A early next year.

Heart of Dakota recommends two phonics options, and while I believe these are GREAT options, we choose to use All About Reading Level 1. Max will be starting this in September, once we have our school routine going smoothly.

Other resources are used, and you can find all of these resources AT THIS LINK

Other than that, we only use these extras from the LHFHG Facebook group:

1) Bible Memory Verses the size of index cards.  We’ve printed and laminated these verses to keep on a metal ring.

2) Storytime Notebook pages to go along with the writing/drawing activities suggested in the guide.  Having these printed and bound makes it SOOO easy to keep all of these projects together in one place as a keepsake. (We did NOT have this resource for Alex, and I am finding it such a TREAT!)

Alex ~
Beyond Little Hearts For His Glory


We started Beyond Little Hearts last November.  Since it is designed for age level, rather than grade level, are able to easily switch to a new guide mid-year.  This year, we started up with Unit 19.  I hope to finish the guide in early January, and then Alex will move on to the next guide (Bigger Hearts). 

These history books are all so neat!  They help to bring the early days of America to life for young learners!


He is currently finishing the last few pages in Singapore 1B mathematics (US Edition).  Singapore takes a pretty quick pace, and Alex is getting bogged down a bit at this point.  Math is not his strongest subject, and he is getting frustrated.  We have both Singapore 2A and 2B *and* Teaching Textbooks 3 as options.  (We bought a used copy of Teaching Textbooks 3 from a friend over the summer so we could check it out.)

Teaching Textbooks does have an actual textbook, but what makes it so neat is that the lesson is entirely computerized.  It’s colorful, a little bit fun, and has a great teacher who explains each detail with a visual presentation.  It is self-grading, as well, so it gives students instant feedback.  Alex did a few lessons over the summer, and he is leaning towards trying this.  Yes, it is labeled 3rd grade, but it appears to do a little review of what Alex covered in Singapore 1 and then pick up where he needs to be.

We’re also adding on Growing With Grammar Level 2 this fall.  Although Beyond includes a once-a-week grammar lesson and daily copywork, Alex was not comprehending grammar as much as we would like.  I wanted something that would have him reviewing and practicing DAILY rather than just once a week.   He has completed 5 lessons so far, and Alex is really enjoying this book!  (We may eventually switch to Rod & Staff, which is recommended by HOD, but I wanted a simple workbook to get him started.)


Other than this, all of our resources are what HOD recommends for Beyond on THIS PAGE.

Alex is going to finish the Emerging Reader series this year, and then we will decide where to go from there.  I’m not sure he is ready for DITHOR (HOD’s reading program) just yet, but we will likely read DITHOR chapter books without doing the complete program.

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