Sunday, August 26, 2012

Organization for Heart of Dakota Bigger Hearts for His Glory - BHFHG

One thing many new homeschoolers struggle with are the nuts and bolts of the everyday details of their school day. I scoured blogs, and homeschool forums (and still do for that matter) for any insight on how to make my day more manageable. Fortunately, many have gone before me. As many new and old home educators know, there is no real "open and go" curriculum out there. Many do most of the work for you, and I'm thankful for that. The reality is, there is still much work yet to do if you want to make your life easier. I found that the more work I can put in before the year begins, the less road-blocks I run into as the year progresses. Last year I stumbled a bit in science about 2/3 of the way into the year. If I had the materials I needed as I hit experiments, I wouldn't have struggle to complete the program I had in place. This year I wanted to make sure I was successful as it was my first year to have both my kiddos home. 

This is our first year in Heart of Dakota. Many have offered their insight on how to organize this program. There is a great resource on Yahoo for HOD users here. Many of the printables I have were found there, or I made them myself. I will share what I made in the future as I get the chance. This is how I organized my Heart of Dakota BHFHG portion of our homeschool curriculum.

(My apologies for the images. I took these pictures on a dreary rainy day, and the lighting is terrible. I hope they are helpful nevertheless.)

I chose to have the spine of my teacher's manual removed. I then laminated the cover, and had it spiral bound. You can do this at many places. I usually use Kinko's. It costs about $4 - $5 to have the spine removed, and for your book to be spiral bound. I find that whatever book I choose to do this to lasts longer, and is easier to manage.

I'm a huge fan of Staple's Better Binders. Every school year they go on sale, and I scoop them up. They are such great quality that they are worth the extra cost. I was able to recycle all the binders I bought last year. I used Better Binders for both kiddo's HOD assignments this year.

Staple's also has Better Binder Dividers. I love that they're see-through, and great quality. I will be able to use these again next year as well. You can see how I organized the kid's notebooks by these sections: History Notebooking, Science Notebooking, Science Experiments, Drawn into the Heart of Reading (DITHOR), Poetry Copywork, Bible Copywork, and Timeline.

Our first section is the History Notebooking. History notebooking is done once a week in HOD. I found the templates for this section on the Yahoo HOD homeschool group. I love that there are so many generous moms out there that have contributed so many useful resources. It made things so much easier for me.

The next section is Science Notebooking. Science Notebooking is usually done on the second day of each unit. Again, I found the template for this on the HOD yahoo group. I edited the pages so that the Bible version was in NIV.

Our next section is the Science Experiment section. I own HOD's Preparing Hearts for His Glory guide. This template was in that guide, so I copied it for our use this year. I made 34 copies for our complete year.

Both boys are using DITHOR this year. I had the spines removed of the workbooks, and 3-hole punched them. It's nice having all of our materials in one central location.

Each week HOD studies a poem. It is suggested that students copy the poem. I used reinforced wide ruled paper for this section.

Each week we will study a passage of Proverbs for study and memorization. On the 4th day we copy that passage. It is suggested that the scripture would be copied on a index card. I chose instead to use paper as some of the passages are too long for my little guy to fit on one small card.

This is the timeline section of our binder. I made these timeline sheets bigger so that the kids would have more room to write and draw the picture of the timeline figure. Fitting it all on 2 sheets wouldn't have worked for us.

The timeline I made consisted of 5 pages.

In addition to drawing and writing about our timeline figures, I chose to make these additional figures for our wall timeline. I will share more about them later.

Timelines are an excellent way for the mind to place figures in history. We used this timeline last year when we studied the ancients in Story of the World. I made figures to correlate to the timeline figures in HOD BHFHG. My kids have been asking for me to make ones with our family's faces too :) We all have our place in history. It's fun to see where we all fit in.

I copied and laminated the student's oral, and written narration lists. We have been going over these the past week to get them used to knowing what is expected of them after our readings.

I copied the dictation passages for level 2 and 3 for both boys. Level 2 is the only list included in Bigger. I own PHFHG, so I was able to copy the level 3 list as well for Aedan. This is so much easier than each boy having to have a look at the teacher's guide when it's time for dictation.

On the left: I made poetry books for both boys. The Yahoo group has a template for a poetry book. Rather than them having to share the TM, they each have their own book of poetry for copywork, and readings of poetry each day. I laminated the covers, and spiral bound them. Top: Vocabulary is covered each week on the 3rd day of each unit. Each boy has his own alphabetical box to file his vocabulary words in. A new file was uploaded the the Yahoo group that has each work written. I may switch to those sheets instead of the boxes. We'll see. Right top: I have a small Better Binder of each unit's memory verses. I like having this standing up and open, so we can review our memory verses regularly. Middle: Each boy has a composition book for Grammar, Spelling, and Dictation. Right: Each week a Godly character trait is studied. I made these cards so that we could review these character qualities over the year, rather than letting the discussion end each week.

 Edit: I originally started with the file boxes for the vocablary words until I found these great vocabulary sheets on the HOD yahoo board. I like the idea of having the kids file the vocabulary words by alphabetical order, but I like even better having most everything we need in one binder. The sheets have room for the word, definition, and a space for the kids to draw a picture. These are perfect. I was so happy to find them!

Poetry books up close. These covers were edited from ones I found on the HOD yahoo group.

These are the sections of my teacher binder. It includes lists of all the materials I need each unit for HOD, calendars, and Elemental Science materials lists, etc.

I keep the dictation lists here.

I was thrilled to find this list on the Yahoo group. It includes all the materials needed for HOD science, and history activities. It also included an extension readings schedule, and books to look for at the library. The mom that made it must have had girls. I edited it to include the books we would be reading in our boy interest pack. This list is a lifesaver!

I bought the Desk Apprentice when we started homeschool in Pre-K with Silas. I was able to fit all of his materials in this one spot. We didn't use it much last year, and I considered selling it. I'm glad I didn't because it is a great spot to fit all our HOD materials for the week. We store our homeschool books and materials in our third bedroom, but I haven't yet set it up for 2 boys. The Desk Apprentice allows us to work in the kitchen and living room without making a huge mess. Our other subjects are on bookshelves in our school room. By the way, the Desk apprentice is much cheaper in the store than online. I think I paid $25.

I am able to fit all of our weekly items in here. As books change, we will be able to swap out what we no longer use for the new books HOD calls for. I can fit our history reader, bible study items, storytime, DITHOR books for both boys, composition books, and R&S teacher guides in the center.

Aedan's side has his grammar, spelling, and health books.

Same for Silas; Grammar, Spelling, cursive, and Health books fit nicely

DITHOR even has a place.

Well, that's about it. Please feel free to ask any questions. I know I would have loved to see more pictures like these as I was putting things together. I hope this was helpful to you in someway. :)


Teacher/Mom said...

Looks great! Would you consider sharing your character qualities cards? They look awesome!

Our Little King-dom said...

I would love to have the character quality cards too if you are willing to share. Great post. Thank you!

Tonia said...

Great tips for organizing! I've been considering getting my Bigger manual coil bound - it looks so much easier to use.

SouthernMrs said...

I'm the mom that made the Weekly materials list. I'm so glad that you are able to use it. We were traveling quite a bit with my hubby and it made it so much easier for me to grab things to bring if I knew what they were for the week/unit. I was using Bigger with my dd at that time. I enjoyed your post! Have a great year and take care!

Kim said...

This is a GREAT post...thanks for letting the Yahoo HOD group know...I love seeing how other HODer's organize all their school stuff. The Desk Apprentist is AWESOME...I've never seen anything like this before and I would SOOO love to get your character quality cards...any chance you could share them?

Monarch Room said...

Thank you all for the nice comments :) I intend to write a post about the cards, and will upload them as soon as I get the chance. I plan to make another version of them with scripture I would choose rather than the HOD memory verses. I may make them bigger, so they can fit in a small binder to be used next year.

So nice of you to pop in SouthernMrs. I really am so thankful for all the work you did.

coppercoin said...

Your post was awesome! Thanks so much for sharing! I am such a visual person so to see everything laid out was such a blessing for me. Thanks again for sharing! Blessings to you and your family.

Lauren said...

Thank you for this incredible post! You have helped me immeasurably, as I am doing HOD for the first time (Bigger) this year.

I like what you have done with the timeline (making it bigger). May I ask where you found all the little photos of the different timeline people? I would love to pull together something similar.

Thanks again!

Holly said...


This looks great! What size Better Binder did you use?


Monarch Room said...


I am happy to share my timeline figures as well. I just gathered them from various websites. I've been waiting for my laminating paper to come. As soon as I complete them this week, I'll share them here. I can also share my timeline that I made for their notebooks if you want. Just give me a few days, and I'll get all that posted.


I'm pretty sure it is the 2 inch binder for their HOD notebooks. I thought it was 1 1/2 inches, but maybe it's the 2. It's definitely not the 3". It has plenty of room. I am still wondering if I should just add the vocabulary and scrap the file boxes. There would still be room enough for plenty of pages.

kim said...

Thank you so much for sharing how you organized this. It is so helpful for me and I am going to use this as a guideline as I set things up this week. Are the notebooking pages and the things in your binder 3 hole punched, in page protectors, some kind of plastic file thingy, or something else?

Thanks again.

Monarch Room said...


I didn't put anything in page protectors. A lot of people do. I think the binder would get enormous if I did that. There are only a few units that would really need the notebooking page in a protector. One of the weeks you make a wampum necklace that would make a mess if it wasn't protected in some way. I will probably just keep that page with our artwork.

Lauren said...

Thank you for sharing with the HOD group, and I appreciate your generosity of sharing the timeline figures. WHat a great community we have!

Monarch Room said...

You are very welcome Lauren :) Thanks for taking the time to write a sweet note.

michelle said...


I came across your blog by way of the HOD Yahoo group. We are doing Bigger this year, and I was 'stuck' on the timeline because my girls write so big. Your timeline pages will be just perfect for them. Thank you so much for sharing!



LEENA7 said...

I just wanted to say how much I am enjoying cruising through your blog. I probably should have put this comment on a more recent post but have been caught up in reading all your posts. ?I love all the pictures that you take. It is such a blessing to those ofus who are visual learners,plus they are fun to see. Thanks again for all your great posts.

Monarch Room said...


I'm so glad to hear you are enjoying our little blog :) I am totally a visual learner too, so much so that I need to close my eyes when given verbal instructions. I love seeing lots of pictures. Glad they help!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this post. It is so helpful to see how someone put it all together. I love the vocab sheets, but I am having a tough time finding them on the HOD yahoo board. Do you happen to know who posted them and what date? Thanks so much for your help.

Monarch Room said...

You are so welcome! The file is called "Bigger Vocabulary." It is a PDF file authored by lissiejo on July 2, 2012. I love the vocabulary pages so much better than the bulky vocabulary box. It's nice putting them right in their binders. Best of luck to you as you gather all your supplies :)

Kim said...

Thank you so much for sharing your Bigger organization with us! Where did you find the instructions for the small poetry books? I just checked out the HOD Files Yahoo group, and I did not see anything. Thank you so much!!

Monarch Room said...

Kim, I modified a file to make those poetry books. I found the poetry file on the HOD forum on yahoo :)

Trisha said...

I love the way your science notebooks look. I can not seem to locate that file on the HOD board. Would you be willing to share your version?

Monarch Room said...

What email do you want me to send it to? I'd be happy to share.

janeenherlugson said...

Thanks for sharing your organization! I have just started using Preparing and have been searching for ways to arrange all of the stuff........your tips are a great help. I would also love to have a your poetry sheets. I am making timeline cards to use with memory work and will post on my blog

thanks again!!

Whispered Abundance said...

Thank you SOOO much! I've visited this post often and gleaned so many ideas to make our year easier :) I started off thinking I would use Bigger -- so inspired by your posts - but decided to start with Beyond at an advanced pace of sorts, before we moved ahead into Bigger.

I've chatted with you on the message board, and it's been a pleasure to chat with you!

Sarah said...

I would love the science pages if you can email them! Thank you so much for your post. It has changed my way of thinking for all my organization. I am doing 4 plans with HOD next year, so this is a Godsend.


Monarch Room said...

You are so welcome :) I'd be happy to send them to you Sarah. What is your email?

LiveHisWord said...

love this, so helpful and can't wait to get organized for next year, thank you!

Tanya said...

I am new to the homeschooling scene and would love to have the templates that you used to create your very awesomely organized room! Where can I find these templates? Thank you so much for your guidance and any help you have to offer to this newbie would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

Monarch Room said...

I found much of it on the HOD yahoo group:

I made some of what you see. You can find those here:

Anonymous said...

Hello! I'm looking to buy a used Bigger Hearts Teacher guide. Would you be willing to sell yours? Thanks! My email is

Monarch Room said...

I already sold my Bigger set. Sorry :(

Anonymous said...

Hi. I am homeschooling my 2 girls for the first time using BHFHG. I greatly appreciate all that you have shared. It has really helped me figure out how and what to organize. I havent tried to print any of the templates out yet....I hope I am successful. Could you please share your science notebooking/ lab templates? I am very thankful for ALLl the work you have put into sharing everything.

debi said...

Hi there! I must say I just LOVE your organizational skills with HOD and Bigger curriculum. I was wondering if you could share your science notebooking/lab sheet with me?
Thank you

Linda Roberson said...


I absolutely love the info you shared! It will make our first year so much easier!! Can you tell me what size your teachers binder is? Is it smaller than the kids or the same size?
Thanks so much

Monarch Room said...

You are so welcome!

The kid's binders are 1 1/2 Better Binders :) Check back in about a week. I am setting up a little differently this year with Beyond and Creation to Christ.

Linda said...


I am curious about the science tabs on your teachers binder. Can you tell me if these are for HOD or do you use something else? Also if they are HOD can you elaborate on how you use this part of your binder ;) Thank you!!

Monarch Room said...


We added in additional science last year. My youngest did Elemental Science Earth/Space, and my oldest did Elemental Science Physics. That part of my binder had the supply lists for each boy's science.

Donita Hammond said...

Thank you for sharing. This is our first year with HOD and your blog is very helpful.

Would you mind sharing your modified poetry files? I thought your poetry book was a great idea. Thanks

Tamara said...

Thanks you for all the info! Awesome organization! I will be using HOD for the first time in August 2014. Really excited about it! I will have a 2nd grader in Bigger and my kindergartener will be in Little Hearts for His Glory.

Monarch Room said...

You are So welcome! I hope you have a great year!

{Alisha} said...

Did you use a label maker for your divider tabs?

Monarch Room said...

Hi Alisha :)

No. The labels came with the Better Dividers from Staples. There is a template online that you can type and print the labels they give you.

{Alisha} said...

Awesome! Definitely need to pick those up. Thanks for sharing your organization with us. It helps me get ideas of how I'll organize Bigger for next year. :)

Megan said...

Are your awesome timeline pages available for print? I love them? I like the idea of using card stock?

Monarch Room said...

Megan, I have a file here for the timeline :)