Organization for Heart of Dakota - Preparing Hearts for His Glory

Thursday, March 5, 2015

It's that time of year again! I have been planning for next year over the last few months. I try to chip away at things over the winter. Our winters in the Midwest are dreadful, so I take try to take advantage of the time indoors while I can. I am really looking forward to our return to HOD next year for Preparing Hearts for His Glory with Silas. We took a detour into MFW Exploring Countries & Cultures to give him a little time to mature for this guide. After finishing my planning I am so glad I did. I think he would have been able to move into this guide last year, but I would have had to modify the amount of writing. His reading level has always been high, but I wanted to allow him a few more years to be a little guy. Preparing will require more of him than our years' past. It will be a rich year that I am so excited to share with him!

Let me preface this post by sharing my heart. My original reason for starting this blog was to have a place to store memories just for me. I treasure my days with my boys. They are going by much too quickly. When I first started I was so encouraged to look at other blogs. It helped me to visualize what homeschool could look like. I've heard some share that they feel encouraged to see what others are doing while still others may feel very discouraged that they aren't doing enough. Please, let me please lift that burden off of you. You are doing a very good work doing it just the way you do it. My hope is to help share a few ideas on what works for us. Keep in mind that I have 2 older and more independent boys. I am no longer in the thick of changing diapers, chasing toddlers or teaching kids to read. I can promise you that what we do would be very different if that were the case. Anyway, I am thankful to have you to walk alongside on this journey -- no matter what season in life you are in. I hope my little blog can help you even if only to give you a few ideas.

These are the main elements I used to organize our year in Preparing.

Anyone who follows my blog knows I love Staples Better Binders.  I prefer to unbind my guide. Our first year I spiral bound my guide, and it didn't hold up as well as I would have liked. Spiral binding also made it more difficult to copy science sheets or dictation pages that I would need. I take it to FedEx and get the binding removed. I 3-hole punch it at home to save the cost of them doing it, and put it in the binder. I don't recommend having your guide 3-hole punched at the store. I have only done it once, and the holes are bigger than the 3-hole punchers you would use at home. It makes the holes less fragile if you do it yourself.

I really feel these binders are worth the money. I've never had to replace one, and they have a lifetime guarantee. If it breaks in any way you can trade it in for a new one. You can recycle your old binders at Staples and get $2 back for each one. That helps the cost some at least. They go on sale during back to school time, so grab them then. Every time I buy a cheapy it's done-for by the end of the year. The 1 1/2 inch binder fits the guide perfectly.

 I also love Staples Better Dividers. Again, these can be re-used over and over again. They come with printable labels. You can find the template HERE.

The 1 1/2 inch binder holds the guide, but I like to remove about 9 weeks of the guide. This is a 1 inch binder. We do about 8-9 weeks of school and then take a break. I keep only a portion of the guide in this smaller binder. A mom made this cover and shared it in the Preparing FB group. I modified it a little for this year and shared it HERE.

 I put that portion of the lesson plans in page protectors. When we are done with our quarter, I return these weeks to the main binder. I then add the next quarter's worth of plans. This is a completely unnecessary step. Many people leave the guide as is. I like keeping the guide in as good a shape as possible, so I can sell it to the next family in great condition. As kiddos move up in the guides the TM becomes their planner. My boys are bulls in a China shop. This keeps the pages relatively free from mess. I have even spilled coffee on books, so I'm even the culprit sometimes. Because I re-use Aedan's guides with Silas, I would love to have have them hold up. Again, so not necessary if you want to keep it simple :)

This is Silas's Student Notebook. It has everything that he will need for his History, Science, Poetry, Vocabulary, Bible Study, Dictation and other helpful printables. I modified this cover from the FB files and shared it HERE.

I divided the binder into the following sections:
  •  History Notebook
  • Science Notebook
  • Poetry/Creative Writing
  • Vocabulary
  • Young Christian's Introduction to the Bible
  • Scripture Memory Verses
  • HOD Dictation
  • Appendix 

The first section is the History Notebook. An HOD mom shared wonderful covers for each section on the Preparing Facebook page.

There is a file for these beautiful History Notebooking pages. This year I invested in a new printer. The new printer has duplex printing. I might be smitten! Where was this the last 5 years?! I used to have to manually turn the pages. Not only does it have that option, the replacement ink is under 6 bucks. That's right SIX dollars. I have been a little too liberal on the ink. The regular price on ink is over $60. I buy refurbished ink on eBay.

Back to the history pages -- The guide actually suggests you to use plain paper. The thought behind this is that they get to work on how to use white space. I totally respect the choice to use either. My boys both love to draw and have an easy time filling a page, so I'm not really worried about that. I'd rather them have time to detail their drawings, but using white paper would save you the time of printing these. I do prefer to have lined pages for copywork verses white paper. While my little guy is still working on cursive I feel the lines will help him.

There is copywork for history 1-2 days per week. My son will still need a cursive model when he first starts this guide. I made a file with the copywork by unit in cursive to help him. If this could help you I have shared the file HERE.

The next section of the notebook is for science.

The same mom who made the history notebook pages also made these. I am so thankful for her and these sheets. They will make a beautiful record of what we have learned. These can be found on the HOD Preparing Facebook page as well.

Each week there is scripture copywork. Again I made a file with a model of those verses in the NIV version. I have shared this file HERE.

The next section is the poetry notebook.

There are creative writing exercises for poetry written in the guide. These student sheets can be found on the HOD Preparing Facebook page.

 I always bind the poetry section of the guide. I find it is easier than flipping back and forth personally, but this is totally unnecessary as well. If you would do such a crazy thing as this I have shared the cover HERE.

The next section is the Vocabulary notebook. I have chosen to do something different. I had already printed these and left them as an option for you as well.

 A fellow HOD mom made these awesome sheets for the vocabulary study.

 After looking through the guide at the vocabulary assignments I decided to make vocabulary index cards instead of using the sheets I had printed. Kids in this guide will have to find 3-5 words per week. This is scheduled on one day. I decided to spread the vocabulary out over the course of 4 days. Instead of having him do all 5 words in one day, I will have him do 1 or 2 a day.

This year Silas will have to find the word in the book we are reading and see if he can tell me what the word means in the context of the sentence and paragraph. Then he will have to look it up in the dictionary. My oldest had to find vocabulary words this year in RtR. He was struggling at first to find them. He's doing great now after doing it all year. This activity will help them gain confidence in using dictionary and with alphabetical order. Next they write the dictionary definition, write and original sentence and draw a picture. Finally they will file the word alphabetically. I made our cards with the word and page number. Unfortunately I don't have a file with all the words to share. That would have taken me a long time to make. You could simply use regular index cards, but I did make some generic ones that I shared HERE if you're printer happy like me :) Fair warning - There are a LOT of words this year. 5 X 35 if you want to do the math.

I found this handy-dandy box. I may also use it for research cards since there is room, but someone needs to stop me from printing one more single thing! I bought the A-Z dividers somewhere that I can't remember!

The next section is for The Young Christian's Introduction to the Bible. 

For 2-3 weeks this book is used in the Independent History box. These sheets have fill in the blank notes that can be used. They are found on the FB page.

Each week Silas will have bible verses to memorize and copy in his Common Place Book. I have made a file of these verses in the NIV Version and shared them HERE.

The next section is HOD dictation. I usually staple this and give it to him when he studies his passage. You could keep it in the guide if that is easier for you.

There are tons of printable helps in the Preparing FB files section. I printed whatever ones I thought we might use and put them in this section.

I really like keeping all these pages in one place. The binder holds up nicely all year. Some people spiral bind all the different notebooks. I think that is a really great option as well. For me it is easier having it all in one place. The reason for spiral binding is so that the pages don't rip out of the binder. I don't have my sons work out of their binders. They are way too big and unwieldy to work from or carry. Instead, I take out all the sheets that will be used for the week and put them on a clipboard. They work from this clipboard all week. When they are done with their work, I file all the sheets back in the binder. The sheets stay in great condition this way. I use my student binder sort of like a work box storage area. BTW, these clip boards are only a buck at the Dollar Tree. My little artists love these. We have about 10 and somehow I'm always short one. They put paper on them and use them for drawing anywhere their little heart desires.

This is how we have always done it. It works great for us, but there are many ways to organize your supplies. The FB group is a wonderful resource to gather ideas from moms of all different kinds of personalities. I love that! I learn so much from those wise ladies :)

This is my doo-dah box. I store any loose items in here.

 There is a scripture memory CD that is in the KJV. A fellow HOD mom made the verses to correlate to the CD. I printed it half page so I could fit it in my doo-dah box. I really like using music for memory verses. While KJV wouldn't be my preferred version my kids really enjoy learning it this way. Some folks aren't a fan of the CDs, but I think they're fine. Our school mascot (a stuffed monkey named Mooch) always helps us sing our songs. We are super silly and don't take this too seriously. It helps my oldest relax. He is a tweenager. If he had to sing in a regular voice he would rebel in a serious way. He is actually the one that runs to grab the monkey! I just roll with it. 

There is also an independent Bible Quiet Time each week. A friend made these wonderful little cards to guide them in that time. I also printed these timeline figures to use on our wall timeline. I modified the size so they would fit.

You will also need a Common Place Book. Charlotte Mason suggested that a person should keep a common place book to jot down meaningful quotes or ideas. I found this on sale for 3 bucks at Staples.

Silas will copy his scripture memory verses in here and anything else that strikes his fancy.

 This year you will make a staircase timeline. You will need index cards. The guide says to cut them in half. I may just keep them at full size so that he can draw a bigger picture. You add them to a door or wall. We will instead be taping them together to form a long accordion timeline that he can unfold. It will also be nice for you to have at least 2 composition books or a spiral notebook with 2-3 sections. One of these books will use for R&S grammar and the other one will be used for HOD dictation. I will likely get a yellow one to match R&S 4 this year and a blue one for dictation. Or maybe not :P!

This is my teacher book. I keep everything I need for a permanent record of our year. I shared the cover HERE.

I keep our attendance log (which I haven't made yet) and our field trip log in here.

There is wonderful supply file on the FB group. I might have edited it to add a little COLOR. You know me!

The mom who made the science and history files shared this answer key for the science question pages.

 This is where y'all might roll your eyes. It's ok if you do :) I know you could just a pencil and make a checkmark in the guide. I have added a few activities or other things that I love to have on a 2 page weekly grid. This gives me peace that I am not skipping things. Unfortunately I can't share this with you because of copyright.

Phew! Again, my hope is to help. Even if you grab one idea that works for you it will make my little homeschool heart so happy. I helped a friend a few years ago print off her binder for Preparing and went ahead and printed all of Silas's back then. That's the only reason I'm done this early. Normally I chip away from February until school starts. I was determined to fully enjoy summer this year. I pray this helps someone and that you will have a wonderful year in Preparing like we hope to have. I look forward to learning along side you as we travel through this guide together. Blessings to you <3


  1. Amazing!!!! Thank you so much! We are just starting Preparing in a couple of weeks, and completely new to HOD. What a help your blog has been thus far for us in our "get everything together" time. Thank you!!!

  2. Renee - I'm so happy to know it helps you! You are going to have a great year!

  3. Incredible!!! Now I am debating on HOD for Daughter E :) Oh my, the choices are hard. I don't want to miss any FIAR or HOD and even some MFW, but the years are too short while the days seem long.

    ~off to pray more, but this program is in consideration with Creation to Christ. Daughter E falls into a little of both programs, but now that I am looking at this, it seems like it's really full. Does the science have a good portion of hands-on or do you plan to add in a Science program (like you did with Elemental Science)??


  4. The choices are SO hard! There are so many wonderful programs out there. I have really been looking forward to Preparing, but we also had a fabulous year in MFW ECC.

    CtC is a full program for sure. HOD in general has plenty of hands on. There is one science experiment plus science notebooking each week. I don't feel like CtC needed extra science. Aedan really loved it that year :)

    Preparing and CtC and up have history projects each week as well. That could be art, cooking, or a variety of things. It is always tied into what we are learning. Plenty of hands on stuff. That's one of the things I love about HOD. I love that about HOD. I also love how easy it is to find the things you need for those projects.

  5. Hi Tara-

    I sadly do not have a Facebook account and am reluctant to get one. Is there any other way to have access to those Facebook only files?

    Thanks, Michelle

  6. I totally understand not wanting to have a FB account. I believe many of the files are on the HOD Yahoo group as well. I can only share the ones I personally made here.

  7. Thank you SO very much for re-posting this! I greatly appreciate it. Will be doing Preparing next year for the first time. Blessings! ~Erin

  8. Thank you so much- I am totally confused and overwhelmed- but will look over this point by point. I am new to homeschooling and have a 9 year old daughter, and 12 year old son. My daughter will be using this program and I am trying to get organized and figure out what I will need! this is huge! Thanks!
    Samantha M.

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. I mean I can't share my schedule because it would violate HOD's copyright. I would if I could but out of respect for them can't.

  10. I am SO amazed by your organization, you've inspired me! I haven't found a timeline figure file that looks like your cards (pictures w/ dates), would you please point me in the right direction of the file or share your file? Pretty please? :) I found a file on the FB page, but it doesn't have dates, and I am all for avoiding the need to reinvent the wheel!

    1. I am pretty sure I just found that on the FB group. Is it not there?

  11. Hello! You are my go-to homeschool organizer mentor so I wanted to ask about how you created your master schedule. I thought I was all set to begin next week with Preparing but finally got to meet with our state homeschool reviewer who didn't like me simply utilizing the PHFHG teacher manual and told me to create my own "lesson plan". This means I am now required to write up something just like yours. Would you be willing to advise me on how to do this the most efficient way? Did you simply use excel or a schedule program? What parts of the guide gave you the information the most succinctly (or did you just flip from unit to unit)? Did you hit a stride with entering each subject across the weeks or each unit at a time? Does any of that make sense? So sorry. I feel like I'm failing before I've even begun and thought to ask for some guidance before I panic. Thank you in advance.

  12. I shared a blank template for HOD RtR. If you download that one you can just change the subjects. It is a bit of work to type it all in, but I've found it was worth the effort. I unfortunately can't share my full schedule because it would violate copyright, but maybe this could help:

  13. Excellent! I would say that I'm impressed, but you really are a homeschooling wonder-woman and I knew this year would be no different! I am using Preparing last minute. I was planning on using reading lists and CM notebooks, as well as some CM guides, but it wasn't quite organized enough for my box-checking mind. I am using a combo of both as I LOVE HOD, but don't want to waste the fortune I told my husband we needed to spend on the other books. I need to simply visit your page each year... I always end up here anyway gaining a wealth of wisdom from the work you put into your homeschool. Thank you Tara! As always, you have done a wonderful job!

    1. Wow <3 You are so kind. For what it's worth, I have a whole lot to learn! I've relaxed a lot this year. It helps me to be organized, but I'm giving myself permission to veer from those perfect plans to do what's right for my family in this season. I hope that you are able to strike that balance with your mix of things this year too! I so appreciate you're taking the time to comment. I hope you have the best school year ever!

  14. Hi! Thank you for your wonderful ideas on organizing your HOD Preparing curriculum. I will be using it this September for my 4th and 5th grade girls. I have a question. I am adding the extension packs for my 5th grader to work along with my 4th grader. Will I need to have 2 of all the books you have listed in this blog? Meaning, will I need 2 copies of all the paperwork that you printed out? Each girl getting her own book? Do you know how to add the extension packs to it as well? I hope I am making sense. Thank you again!!!

  15. Hi Kim :)

    A lot of the things I printed are mom made resources I found on the HOD Preparing Facebook group. Really, none of them are required. If you want to keep it simple you can simply used a composition book or notebook paper, but if you wanted to use these printables you would need one for each kiddo. You wouldn't need 2 sets of books from HOD if that's what you mean. The extension books are for kids outside of the age range, so your 5th grader would use these. They just read them to supplement their studies. The Teacher Guide has suggestions in the back for how to use those books. I hope this helps!

  16. Thank you and sorry it took me so long to see this!!!

  17. Are you still available on here? I am not only new to homeschooling, but also HOD. I'm such a prepper, and I love what you've done - but I'm so overwhelmed. Any chance we could email and you could help me. Thanks so much!

    1. Sure! My email is on my about me page :)


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