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Setting Up for Bigger Hearts for His Glory

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From Our House to Yours

Setting Up for Bigger Hearts for His Glory

So, I’ve placed my children, had my Heart of Dakotabox day,‘ and am setting up for Bigger Hearts (Bigger). My first step is to read through Bigger’s Introduction, Appendix, and first week or month of plans. This helps me envision my year and understand what my guide covers. As each Introduction includes options (i.e. one large binder or several smaller binders, etc.), I like to note my chosen options in the margin of the Introduction. This way, I can easily make my shopping list later based on my notes. Likewise, it is important to read through the beginning pages and “Getting Started” section in the Appendix  of Drawn into the Heart of Reading (DITHOR). Finally, reading the Introduction of Italic D or Cheerful Cursive also offers much insight!

Setting Up the Front of My “Bigger Hearts for His Glory” Binder

First, I make a color photocopy of my Bigger cover and insert it in my binder. If you don’t have a color copier, black and white looks nice too! Second, I print the Introduction of the guide off the Internet (click here). I use the Table of Contents as my attendance record, noting the dates we completed each unit (i.e. Unit 1:  Sept. 2-6, 2019). Third, I print the first week of plans (click here), which is a nice overview. If your state requires a completed portfolio for meeting with a principal or umbrella school, the Introduction and first week of plans give an excellent overview of what is covered. (Carrie gives permission for the Introduction and First Week of Plans to be printed or copied for portfolio compilation. However, any other photocopies or retyping of plans would be a copyright infringement.)

Label History Notebook, Timeline, History Activities, and Poetry Tab Dividers 

Next, I label tab dividers for my binder. My goals are to show what my child did and how he progressed in skills. So, I label my first tab “HISTORY NOTEBOOK.” Behind this tab, I place Bigger Heart’s history notebook pages inside page protectors. Next, I label my second tab “TIMELINE.” I place my child’s Bigger Heart’s timeline (when completed) behind this tab. Then, I label my third tab “HISTORY ACTIVITIES.” I place any of my child’s history-themed art projects, history activities, or geography activities that happen to be flat here. Next, I label my fourth tab “POETRY.” I place any written assignments from Poetry Day 4’s poetic devices’ activities here. If my child copied and decorated the poems instead of doing cursive, I also place the copied poems here. (If my child would enjoy it, I have him make a special cover for his poetry booklet.)

Label Language Arts, Science, Math, and Extensions Tab Dividers

I label my fifth tab “LANGUAGE ARTS.” Here, I put my child’s Storytime written work, bookmarks, and typed narrations. If my child did DITHOR, I either choose some completed workbook pages to include, or I just keep his entire DITHOR 2/3 Student Book. Likewise, for the cursive workbook, for the R & S English 2 or 3 written work, and for the spelling/dictation written work, I either choose a handful of completed pages for the binder, or I just keep the entire workbook and notebook(s). Next, I label my sixth tab “SCIENCE.” I place my child’s completed science notebooking and written experiments here. Then, I label my sixth tab “MATH”and include any completed math activity pages or worksheets. Finally, if my child is doing the extensions, I label my seventh tab “EXTENSIONS.” I place my child’s paragraph summaries and completed pictures/captions here.

Extra Tab(s) for Those Who Take Pictures and Actually Print Them

If you take pictures and also print them, you can include another tab called “HANDS-ON.” Behind this tab, place printed action photos of hands-on activities. Things like Geography Activities, History Activities, Science Exploration experiments, Bible Study gross motor skills activities, DITHOR kickoffs or final projects, Math hands-on lessons, and/or the hymn study singing can be included. Or, you can label the tab “OTHER” and put pictures of anything special, like you reading the history, hymn study, or devotional to your child. However, ask me how many times I have gotten that done in three trips through Bigger? Zero. So, if you don’t get this done, no worries! I DO have many pictures taken, and I DID have them on a slideshow in a photoframe for awhile. So, if you don’t have the time, don’t do this. Your binder without any of these extras will still be amazing!

Spelling/Dictation Things to Either Do at the Start or to Do As They Come Up in the Plans

If I want to do everything at the start, using the Appendix for SPELLING, I write the spelling words one at a time in a black Sharpie on white index cards. I jot the unit number in the top right corner of the first card, put a colored index card or divider between each set, and place them in a recipe box. (Otherwise, this is an easy thing to do each week, and to start you can just do the first week!) If my child is doing DICTATION and I want to use photocopies of dictation instead of the Appendix, I photocopy the passages. For only Level 2, I cut these out and glued them to index cards, so my child could focus on just the day’s passage.  However, this is just a personal preference, and not a ‘have-to’! I also label a wide-lined composition notebook ‘DICTATION.’

Bible Memory Work and Vocabulary Work Things to Either Do at the Start or to Do As They Come Up in the Plans

For BIBLE MEMORY WORK, I either hole-punch 35-40 index cards and put them on a metal ring, or I get a small 3-ring binder and index cards. For VOCABULARY, I follow the directions on Unit 1, Day 3, of the daily plans to either get a composition notebook and label 2 pages for each letter of the alphabet, or get a card file with index cards and alphabetical tabs. I’ll need between 35 and 105 index cards, with the number of cards needed based on how many of the 1-3 weekly vocabulary words I choose to have my child do.

Copywork, Grammar, Storytime, and Math Things to Either Do at the Start or to Do As They Come Up in the Plans

For COPYWORK, I choose either a lined notebook or loose-leaf paper and a binder.  If I chose a notebook, I label it ‘COPYWORK.’  Next, for English GRAMMAR, I choose either a lined notebook or loose-leaf paper and a binder.  If I chose a notebook, I label it ‘GRAMMAR.’ For STORYTIME, I label a sticky tab or jot in the Storytime box of plans how many chapters or pages to read each day (i.e. if my Biography Storytime book has 100 pages, according to Day 1’s Storytime plans, I divide 100 by 20 days of reading, and make a note to read about 5 pages a day). The last choice I need to make is for MATH. I can choose for my child to write directly in the textbooks/workbooks, to use loose-leaf paper, or to use a lined notebook.  Again, if I chose a lined notebook, I label it ‘MATH.’

Setting Up for Drawn into the Heart of Reading

If your child is using DITHOR, you can either set this up at the start or do it as you move through the plans. If I do this at the startI fill out the DITHOR 2/3 Student Book “Reading Calendar.” Using HOD’s “Optional Book Recommendations,” I fill in the page numbers to be read each day. For example, if my son is using the DITHOR Level 2 Book Pack, I see ’15 days’ next to Biography: Amelia Earhart. So, I divide the total number of pages or chapters in Amelia Earhart by 15. As there are 15 chapters, I just write “Ch. 1” on ‘Day 1’ of the Reading Calendar, “Ch. 2” on ‘Day 2,’ and so on. I might do this for each genre or just the first one to start. Also, I might choose my first genre kickoff in my DITHOR Teacher’s Guide.

Label Sticky Tabs to Mark Places in the Bigger Guide

Next, I label sticky tabs to mark places in my guide. I label the first tab “DAILY PLANS,” placing it on Unit 1, Day 1. Then, I label the next tabs “SPELLING” or “DICTATION” and “POETRY,” placing them in the Appendix.  If I’m using the Emerging Reader’s Set, I label another tab “ER SET” and put in the Appendix. Likewise, if I’m using the third grade math, I’d label another tab “MATH” for the Appendix. Or, if I’d rather not reference my Appendix, I’d just jot the third grade math page numbers in the “Math Exploration” box of plans.  If I’m using DITHOR, I label 2 tabs “DAILY PLANS,” placing one in the teacher’s guide and one in the student book. Likewise, if my child is using the extensions, I label another tab “EXTENSIONS.” Finally, if using the library for Storytime suggestions in the Appendix, label another tab “STORYTIME.

Special Items for Bigger Hearts for His Glory

There are a few special items needed for Bigger. By this time I already know which items I’ll need, because I wrote them in the margin of my Introduction earlier. Some things I’ve noted are a world map or globe, and a U.S. map. I also noted a children’s Bible for Bible Study. Finally, I noted a Webster’s dictionary for Vocabulary. One final thing I like to do is make a photocopy of the Appendix’s “Narration Tips: Teacher’s List” and “How to Narrate: Student’s List.” Carrie does give permission to photocopy these. I keep the teacher’s list for me to reference and the student’s list for my child to reference. However, you can always just put another tab in your Bigger guide and label it “NARRATION TIPS,” if you’d rather.

Shopping for Supplies

Carrie’s plans use readily available household supplies, and many options are suggested. For example, the plans may call for either a bean bag and a basket, or a rolled up pair of socks and a plastic bin. I just skim the Art and Science plans every month or so, to look for the one-off supply. However, to get ready to begin Bigger, I just stock up on usual art supplies, like crayons, markers, glue (sticks and liquid), scissors, construction paper, tissue paper (colored), tape (masking and clear), a ruler, a yardstick, playdough, paints/paintbrushes, cotton balls, yarn/string, etc. I also stock up on index cards, page protectors, and a few catalogs. Finally, I’ve found a flashlight, deck of cards, CD player (for Hymns for a Kid’s Heart), bouncy ball, paperclips, paper plates, food coloring, marker board with dry erase markers, and q-tips/toothpicks are also nice to have on hand.

Sorting Resources into “Things We Need Now” and “Things We Need Later” Bins or Totes

One of the last things I do is get two canvas bins.  I use one for ‘things we need now’ and the other for ‘things we need later.’ As I read through each box of my first week of Bigger’s plans, I put each needed resource in the bin  for ‘things we need now.’ I put the remaining items in the bin for ‘things we need later.’ Throughout the year as we finish using resources, I put them in the back of the ‘things we need later’ bin, and I move the next books or resources we need into the ‘things we need now’ bin or tub. This way, my ‘things we need now’ bin only contains what we need for each week. Another benefit is the ‘things we need now’ are always mobile! Likewise, I put many art supplies in a tool turnabout, so these are mobile too!

In Closing

As you can see, the steps you take to set up will vary based on your personal preferences. I’m writing this post so the end result is a lovely 3-ring binder portfolio with tabs alongside completed notebooks, workbooks, and/or card files. This will be a wonderful way to show what your child has done, should you be asked to do so! It will also be a wonderful way to remember the precious time you spent in Bigger with your child/children! However, there are obviously many options. For example, instead of one large binder,  I sometimes choose several small 1 or 2 inch binders (i.e. one for history, one for science, one for the rest, etc.). Usually, I base this on my child. If he prefers several small binders, we do that. Or, if he can be better organized using (and having to keep track of) just one large binder, we do that. So remember, just have fun setting up your year how YOU’D like – either all at the start, or as you move through the guide!

In Christ,


This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Sharon Ellington

    Can you explain to me the need to put the notebook pages inside sheet protectors? Can i choose to have my son write directly on the pages instead? I tried the sheet protector with the first page and crayon wouldn’t write on it so we used a dry erase, but I fear that will quickly wipe away. I would rather just re-buy the notebook pages for my second child.

    1. Good question, Sharon! Students write/draw/color directly on the notebook pages. I just place the notebook pages inside clear page protectors until they are used, so they are protected and so the hole punches don’t rip. My children remove the notebook pages they are working on for the week from the clear page protectors and then put them back in the protectors when they are done. This is totally optional, but the clear page protectors preserve them better and help prevent the 3-hole punched holes from ripping. Thanks for asking!

      In Christ,

  2. Jennifer

    Hi Julie!

    Thank you so much for taking the time to write out the process you used to set up Bigger Hearts for your boys. I printed this post out, and now I’m working straight from the print-out and checking things off as I go. It’s been very helpful!


    1. Oh good, Jennifer! These posts on setting up guides take a fair share of time to write, so I am super encouraged you are using this one for setting up Bigger Hearts and finding it helpful! I hope your set-up goes well – have a fantastic year in Bigger!!!

      In Christ,

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