Heart of Dakota Program
Publisher: Heart of Dakota Publishing
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Little Hearts for His Glory
Note: this review is excerpted from the complete review in 101 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum
The Heart of Dakota program is a comprehensive, Charlotte Mason oriented curriculum in 13 volumes that might be used for preschool through high school. Titles and age levels covered are:
Little Hands to Heaven, ages 2-5
Little Hearts for His Glory, ages 5-7
Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory, ages 6-8
Bigger Hearts for His Glory, ages 7-9 (extending to ages 10-11)
Preparing Hearts for His Glory, ages 8-10 (extending to ages 11-12)
Hearts for Him Through Time: Creation to Christ, ages 9-11 (extending to ages 12-13)
Hearts for Him Through Time: Resurrection to Reformation, ages 10-12 (extending to ages 13-14)
Hearts for Him Through Time: Revival to Revolution, ages 11-13 (extending to ages 14-15)
Hearts for Him Through Time: Missions to Modern Marvels, ages 12-14 (extending to ages 15-16)
Hearts for Him through High School: World Geography, ages 13-15 (extending to grades 10-12)
Hearts for Him Through High School: World History, ages 14-16 (extending to grades 11-12)
Two additional volumes are planned that will provide a four-year high school program. Each volume is a one-year curriculum, divided into 33 to 35 units, each of which will take one week to complete. The primary “tool” you work from is one large book that lays out daily lesson plans. It really covers everything! Subject areas and the amount of emphasis upon each vary from volume to volume.
Instructions for learning activities are written out in each manual in the lower levels. Some of the activities at lower levels for math and grammar direct you in the use of other resources. Once past the youngest level, lesson plans direct you in the use of other resources for most learning activities. The Hearts for Him Through Time levels incorporate other curricula for history and science that would generally be considered complete courses on their own.
In every volume, each daily lesson plan is divided into two parts: “Learning the Basics” and “Learning through History.” Each subject area is presented in a box with between nine and twelve boxes per daily lesson plan. This makes it very easy to see what needs to be done for each area. Lessons begin with history each day. The “Learning through History” parts of the lesson on the left-hand page are designed like a unit study. Daily assignments for history tell you which pages to read in the history book, fact book, historical novel, or Bible storybook (or your own Bible) and the key idea upon which to focus. That key idea is also incorporated in Bible, art, thinking skills, science, or some of the other lessons for that day. “Learning the Basics” activities on the right-hand page don’t necessarily relate to the theme, but they cover language arts, math, and other needed subjects. For all subject areas, specific pages (tracks in the case of the CDs) are assigned in each day’s lesson plans for the other required resources. This is a huge time saver.
Science experiments and activities are included in all volumes, and you are referred to other books for additional reading at each level. Science notebooking assignments are added beginning with Bigger Hearts, while recording data and observations with lab work are added at upper levels. Science focuses on fewer topics each year than we typically find in textbooks, but science lessons do a much better job of covering those topics interestingly and in-depth with plenty of observation and experimentation.
All of the guides from Beyond Little Hearts on up into high school include a weekly geography component (with mapping) and weekly timeline work. The weekly study of classic poetry is also included in every guide from Beyond on up with the middle school guides focusing on a single poet (i.e., Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Frost, and Emily Dickinson).
Scripture memorization is also scheduled daily in every guide with the students memorizing entire chapters of Scripture as they get older.
The middle school and high school courses also include a weekly research component that begins in Preparing Hearts and builds as you go up through the levels. Work with primary source documents begins in Hearts for Him Through Time: Revival to Revolution and continues into high school.
For the younger levels, hands-on math activities are given in the manuals, then assignments are made from Singapore Math books at the appropriate level. Older levels drop the hands-on activities for math but continue to provide Singapore Math schedules. Math assignments are very specific with alternative page assignments at the back of the book for the different levels of Singapore Math books that you might be using. (You can substitute another math program if you prefer. For the lower levels, you can still use the suggested math activities along with another program.)
... [Reviews of each level except World Geography are included in 101 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum.]
Hearts for Him Through High School: World Geography
World Geography replaces the history strand in this high school level course, but the chronological study of geography inevitably includes quite a bit of history. The course is designed to provide up to 6 ½ credits: 1 credit each for English, Math, World Geography, and Science; 1 credit for Bible; and ½ credit each for World Religion and Cultures, Logic, and Foreign Language.... Science uses Integrated Physics and Chemistry (Paradigm) with an optional lab manual and kit. Three options for Algebra I resources are suggested. Foreign language credit is earned if students use Getting Started with Spanish, but this is optional.
I like the way Carrie Austin has combined elements of unit study, living books, and textbooks in a format that makes it very easy for the parent or teacher to know exactly what to do each day. Art and math lessons might take a little more preparation time than other subjects at lower levels, and science activities take a bit more time at upper levels. But other than that, lesson prep time is very minimal. The variety of learning methods should appeal to children of various learning styles. And you still have the freedom to substitute other courses in many cases. For example, you can use your own phonics program or any math program you prefer. You can even substitute a different science program.
While courses follow a history chronology, you can begin at any level. For each course, you can purchase the main lesson plan book by itself as well as all of the recommended resources directly from Heart of Dakota Publishing. They also offer various packages for each level (i.e., Economy, Basic, Extension, or Deluxe packages). Their website makes it easy to assemble your own customized program.
- Learning Styles: All
Suitable for: group or one-on-one with some independent work; increasing independent work at older levels
Audience: preschool through high school
Need for parent/teacher instruction: high (less with older children)
Prep time needed: minimal
Need for Teacher's Manual: essential
Educational Approach: unit study, living books/Charlotte Mason, workbook, eclectic combination
Religious perspective: Christian/Protestant
Heart of Dakota Publishing
1004 Westview Drive
Dell Rapids, SD 57022
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