Heart of Dakota is a Christ-centered, literature based multi-level, multi-age full curriculum for homeschool. It is gentle, engaging, challenging, and planned in a very detailed, easy to follow way. They offer levels from Pre-K to High School. There are no real ‘grades’, but instead, suggested age outlines with their own themes.
The years typically progress in 2 year increments so your child could place in more than one ‘guide’ (or year) at any given time. This offers flexibility based on the child’s abilities, your preference of themes, etc.
Everything you need (in my opinion) is there except for some additional Language Arts in the higher grades and your Math. Although the program does make suggestions and script in math ideas and activities in the lower manuals.
Plans are done in a daily layout, which I LOVE! Rather than looking at an entire week of plans in very tiny print on a small grid, I am looking at boxes layed out in larger font with easy-to-see and follow descriptions. DAILY. Not weekly, DAILY. I can’t say enough how much I prefer this layout to the multitudes of weekly plans I’ve seen.
|Guides for Little Hearts for His Glory (5-7 year olds), and Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory (6-8)|
|An example of the daily schedule from Beyond Little Hearts (yes, this is all for one day).|
|A pile of books from Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory|
|Titles from Bigger Hearts for His Glory (the next level up – age 7-9)|
|Core Books for Little Hearts for His Glory|
|Core Books and additional titles for Beyond Little Hearts|
|More titles from Beyond Little Hearts…
|Our Emerging Reader set for Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory|
|Some of the read-aloud titles from Beyond Little Hearts that I found at the Library|
A look at week one of Heart of Dakota:
One week of HOD is packed with so much! We did not complete either full week, and we were doing lots – far more than we would typically do. This is literally the first packaged ‘curriculum’ I’ve found that actually filled the days. And that has been one of my biggest frustrations with many programs – there just wasn’t enough! So, I’d be paying for a program, then adding hours of supplementary activities and reading. (This is what led me to not having a ‘program’ at all!)The only things I feel I would ‘add’ to Heart of Dakota is character study (although this is even woven in to many of the lessons and books) and probably some Picture Study. There is Science, but not as much Nature Study as I like, so I might weave in Nature Studies too, but not all the time. (We often do Nature Study based on the seasons.)
As I did tons of research about HOD, I realized that our best bet was actually to place all three of our children in separate guides. I would have never even thought of doing this a few months ago! As I looked over the placement charts and considered the needs of the individual children, I knew we had to at least try a year of having them do ‘their own thing’. They are present for read-alounds and share much of the learning but all the math, language arts, history narrations, geography, and science is individual. I’m very curious to see how it works out but after one week, I can already feel a reduction in competition and stress between our children. When I discussed having their ‘own programs’ with the kids, they were extremely excited about the idea, especially my eldest son, which surprised me. Having said this, many parents do combine their children when using HOD. I just made the choice to try them separately this year, and I think it will work out well for us.
As far as I can tell, Heart of Dakota is similar to Sonlight, in that – you may want to consider placing children in the lower guide if there are 2 options. For example, I could have placed Alex (6 1/2 years old) in Beyond (for 6-8 year olds) but after looking at the placement chart and reading through other Moms’ thoughts, I decided to place him in Little Hearts (for 5-7). It’s a perfect fit. I could have put Audrey in the Bigger Hearts level (for 7-9) but I chose to put our 8-year-old in Beyond (for 6-8 year olds). These fits have been perfect so far. A good challenge but doable and giving them the ability to excel.
I really, really love how Heart of Dakota gives so many options.
For example, when ordering, there is one main
that is required to actually accomplish the program. (This is called the Economy Package). You can do the programs with only this package purchased. Many of the additional titles (which are not required but recommended to enrich your studies) are available at the Library, through Amazon, etc. Or you can purchase direct from them in a big package if you prefer to just have them all on hand. You can order Science packs and also extension packs which offer harder books for studying with older students. You can also switch out titles you may not like or may already own! (Love this!)
So… because posts like this one have been SO HELPFUL for me in me making decisions about homeschooling programs, I wanted to offer some help to those seeking.
Here’s a look at some of what we did in one week of Heart of Dakota. Remember this is a combination of Unit 1 (Week 1) of both Little Hearts for His Glory and Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory. (We have Audrey in Beyond, and Alex is Little Hearts… we are still deciding on whether to place Simon, our just turned 10 year old in Bigger with extensions or Preparing… I’ll be able to decide when I receive the curriculum from the states!)
From Little Hearts:
- We focused on Matthew 19:14 for our memory verse. The kids practiced the verse using all kinds of fun ways to remember – tossing a stuffed animal and switching off on who says which word, adding actions, bouncing a ball, etc. We also listened to the song from “Hide ‘Em in Your Heart”.
- We talked about the meaning of history. History is really God’s story. We read about how God created the world from nothing and how God made man in His image in History for Little Pilgrims.
- In Science we talked about light and how God created light, how time is calculated in years and one year is when the earth travels around the sun (we did a dramatic play activity for this), the properties of the sun/earth/moon, and we also discussed land animals vs. water animals by doing a fun game.
- We did a neat rhyme with lots of gross motor action about animals and continents.
- For an art project, Alex tore pieces of paper to create a collage with glue. He then used his cutting skills to cut a cross and paste it in the center of his collage. We then discussed how Christ is the center of all history.
- We discussed textures and played a game where the kids picked items with various textures out of a bag and had to use adjectives to describe the objects (ie: smooth, hard, scratchy, bumpy, fuzzy, etc.)
- We read the first several chapters of The Adventures of Reddy Fox by Burgess.
- Alex did a tactile exercise using a baggie filled with liquid soap to practice proper letter and number formation.
- I added the Language Arts (as is typical for HOD). Alex practiced number formation, letter formation, and worked on his reading and phonics (we are using Alpha Phonics for this)
- For Math, Alex is using Singapore 1. He also worked on his ‘cutting’ activities from our cutting activity book (which he really loved more than I expected…), and enjoyed a few of the scheduled math activities such as driving cars along numbers that were taped with masking tape to the kitchen floor!
Much of this can be seen in the HOD preview of Unit 1 of Little Hearts,
From Beyond Little Hearts:
- The memory verse for week 1 of Beyond was Psalm 4:8. This tied into our history readings and we also enjoyed the song from Hide ‘Em in Your Heart Volume 2.
- Our readings for history were from American Pioneers and Patriots. Our children all loved this book so much! It is a living history book with narratives about different families from the times of the pioneers. Our first story was about Pedro and Catalina and their family’s journey from Spain to Florida. We also started a basic timeline.
- For read-aloud “story time” we read Squanto, which we all really enjoyed. We also did the narrations and a biography project to go along with the genre of book (biography).
- For Geography we worked on memorizing the position of the continents and major oceans on the map. We took an idea from Draw Write Now and made large cut outs of the continents using basic circles and ovals. Audrey then practiced placing them and the oceans in the correct position. She couldn’t do it at the beginning of the week but now does it perfectly, with ease.
- Science exploration included an experiment with water to show how a moving current moves objects (we used the bathtub, boats, and a baster for this), as well as an experiment showing how blubber protects animals from freezing cold ocean waters.
- Poetry was the poem, “The Storm”. We read aloud many times, made an art project and the kids (Simon and Audrey) used it for copywork. At the end of the week, I cut up a print-out of the poem and had the kids put it back together again.
- For Art, the children made shields, covered them in tin foil and added a special memory verse (Psalm 18:1-6) along with decorations and pictures.
- For Math, Audrey is doing Teaching Textbooks 4, but we also enjoyed some of the fun and simple activities with HOD. For example, she used a story mat with a draw cabbage patch/carrot patch and we used cotton balls as ‘bunnies’ to tell addition and subtraction stories.
- For Language Arts, Audrey is following along in the guide with the Emerging Readers set. (Readers are scheduled for you!). She is currently reading The Beginners Bible. I didn’t need to add more than what was given with HOD except for some simple cursive practice.
Much of this can be seen in the HOD preview of Unit 1 of Beyond Little Hearts, which is available here.
|Math from Beyond.|
|Math from Little Hearts.
This week’s ‘Story Time’ read-aloud. The theme was biographies, so we chose Squanto. The children loved it and we discussed many aspects of history and biography.
|Same thing here for cursive for the older two. We will likely be ordering “Happy Cursive” which is recommended by HOD.|
|Tactile fun… practice number formation.|
|Talking about textures with a game for Little Hearts|
One of the core books we’ve been enjoying rom Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory –