I use Bigger Hearts for His Glory for our 2nd grade program. As with all of the Heart of Dakota curriculum guides all other subjects are tied to the history spines. For this guide we are focusing on the period of explorations to the early 1900’s.
One of the nice aspects of the entire Heart of Dakota curriculum line is they can be used for various grade levels. You simply choose the options which best suit your needs. This also allows students to be combined for history and science while still working at their own level for math, handwriting, and reading. I prefer not to combine my girls within guides, but I like knowing I have the options one day if I ever choose to.
Studies of history include weekly entries on a timeline, narration, vocabulary work and notebooking entries. This is the first guide in the series where narration is formally used. This concept took some getting used to as I had never experienced narration before Heart of Dakota. It is briefly touched on in the previous guide, Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory, but I felt like I was floundering a little bit at the beginning. The biggest help I found in this area was searching for YouTube videos for examples of narration.
In addition to history read alouds there are weekly activities which explore geography, historical life, and more. These are always hands on and very engaging. I try to always take pictures of these activities because my girls have so much fun!
Science always relates to what we are learning in history and includes weekly narration, experiments, and notebooking entries. The experiments are very hands on and include written record of a question we are answering, a hypothesis, a picture showing the experiment, and finally a conclusion statement. This seemed like a lot at first, but I do appreciate that my children are being exposed to a formal scientific process even before they realize that is what they are doing.
A weekly poem is studied as well as introduction to some of the more formal aspects of poetry like rhyme scheme and symbolic meaning. With my background in literature I truly appreciate this gentle approach to teaching poetry at a young age.
Bible study focuses on a passage to memorize (1-2 verses) from Proverbs and daily discussion about the verse. These verses have brought out some great discussions, but more importantly I see the principles learned showing up outside of our school time. I am so encouraged when I see my daughters begin to follow after Christ on their own. The Scripture also always relates to something learned about in history that week.
Spelling is learned through a Charlotte Mason method called dictation. The students study a short passage (usually 2 sentences and several extra words) then try to write the passage without any punctuation or spelling errors as it is dictated to them. This was another part that is new with this particular guide. I like the way it is taught, but also wanted to give my daughters more formal rules and so I have added All About Spelling in addition to the dictation. We work this out by doing alternating days of dictation and All About Spelling.
Finally is something near and dear to my heart…grammar! I know that sounds a little crazy, but my background is teaching junior high English. I cannot begin to tell you the struggle I had with grammar when I was teaching full time before the kids came along. I am so pleased with the grammar choice from Heart of Dakota which is Rod and Staff. There are no frills or fancy gimmicks, but it is very strong even in the earliest level which is taught along with this guide.
I believe my favorite part about the grammar is that it is very biblically based, which honestly surprised me. The very first lesson teaches that God created language, that He is a God of order, and that our language reflects this order. That is just so beautiful to me!
As with the entire Heart of Dakota line, math, handwriting, and reading/literature have suggested items, but are not required to make the program work. The recommended programs are Singapore, Cheerful Cursive, and Drawn Into the Heart of Reading. We have chosen different programs for each. For math we are using Rod and Staff grade 2, for handwriting we are using A Reason for Handwriting T and C for cursive, and for literature I am using a more informal approach. We are reading the recommended books from Drawn Into the Heart of Reading for the 2/3 level, but are simply discussing the book as it is read. You can click on the various links to read reviews about these differentiations in our program.
We have found our education home with Heart of Dakota. Without these guides my girls would still learn all they needed to, but it certainly wouldn’t be as much fun!