If you've used Carrie Austin's Little Hands to Heaven and have enjoyed the flexible framework and biblically-based lessons, you will want to take a look at her second offering in the series, Little Hearts for His Glory, aimed at 5- to 7-year-olds. The program is made up of 34 units, each divided into 5-day increments. The layout is like Little Hands, with each day thoughtfully laid out on two facing pages, making it easy to see the whole lesson at a glance. More subject material is covered here, but the presentation is very manageable, and the activities and lessons are designed to appeal to children of different learning styles. Another huge plus here is that lessons are tied to biblical concepts and stories. So, not only are you studying the Bible together, but the author has also made every effort to present other subjects studied in a way that ties neatly into the Bible topic studied, reinforcing the biblical topic all day long! I suspect this will also form a lasting "mental bridge" between these topics and their correlating Bible concepts for years to come.
The program includes history, science, Bible study, story time/reading, math, music, rhymes and finger plays, dramatic play, and schedules in handwriting/fine motor skills and phonics. The assignments and activities are clearly listed in each subject's box on the page, which often include "text connections" to required resources for the reading portions. Most often, there is a hands-on, active assignment described in the subject's box, followed by the recommended reading. A "key idea" for reinforcement is also clearly written in each box, so you can keep the lesson on track (not always an easy thing to do with young ones!). The history portion of the curriculum covers a broad span, covering Creation through U.S. history. While it sounds extremely ambitious, keep in mind that the history is covered in big topical "chunks," keeping the topic familiar to young students and omitting a lot of the "in betweens." This gives youngsters a broad view of biblical and chronological history, while keeping it focused so they don't get lost in topics they don't understand. About half of the units focus on biblical history, while the last half covers the Roman Empire, the Age of Exploration, and early U.S. History. The history readings primarily come from two sources: the Bible and History for Little Pilgrims, from Christian Liberty Press. The daily Bible study correlates with the history lesson, while the daily action rhyme reinforces the Bible/history concepts as well. The science portion of the lesson has its textual basis in Christian Liberty's The World God Made, and oftentimes, the hands-on activity relates to the Bible/history topic as well. (Our Father's World and God's Wonderful Works by Christian Liberty Press are supplemental text connections noted in the Appendix for grades 1 and 2). The science activities are very hands-on, but simple, and require few and convenient supplies. For example, in one of the lessons on the apostles, students read (or listen to) the stories of Stephen's stoning and Paul's conversion. The hand rhyme for that day ("Where is Jesus?") reinforces the idea that Jesus is in Heaven and the Holy Spirit is here among us. The Bible study focuses on Saul's conversion and students memorize Matthew 5:16. The science lesson ties in with Saul's conversion and the blinding "bright light" with students making construction paper stars, studying the brightness of stars, and discovering how we can only see them at night because the light from the sun outshines them during the day. The music portion of the day also corresponds with the main idea from the Bible/history section and uses songs from Hide 'Em in Your Heart Volume 1. Occasional art and dramatic play activities are substituted for the science lesson, and these coincide with the topic studied that day. The second portion of each day's lesson focuses on the academic basics, and features instructions and lesson plans for handwriting, phonics, reading, and math. Like the boxed assignments on the history-focused portion of the lesson, these also often contain an activity, an assignment from a required or recommended resource, and a key idea for reinforcement. The reading assignments feature a read-aloud from a Thornton Burgess story, followed by a discussion section. The discussion often includes comprehension, vocabulary, tie-ins to the child's life, and identification of story elements. For math, a hands-on activity is presented for each day, illustrating a math concept. The author recommends using Singapore Math's Essential Math Kindergarten A & B for a text connection to the math concept studied. By incorporating her very visual, manipulative-based activities with Singapore Math, children receive a very well-rounded and understandable introduction to important math concepts. The fine motor skills/handwriting portion of the lesson requires the use of either early concepts books, (Do It Carefully and Finding the Answers from Rod and Staff or Going on Eagerly and Just Thinking and Choosing from Rod &Staff), and handwriting books (either Italic Handwriting or Reason for Handwriting are recommended).
The one exception to the activity/assignment/key idea lesson plan rule is the phonics section. While the author recommends either The Reading Lesson, or Reading Made Easy for good, economical, phonics programs, she believes that phonics instruction is a personal decision for each family and is best left to their discernment. In that spirit, phonics time is scheduled in for each day, but the lesson itself is left to your judgment. An appendix contains recommended pacing for suggested phonics programs, a condensed list of readings for each unit and day from the required texts, an alternate math schedule using Singapore Math's Primary Math 1A and 1B (in case you have already covered concepts from Essential Math Kindergarten A & B), suggestions for additional reading that tie in with the history topic, and the action rhymes.
All in all, this is a very well-designed course that has obviously been very thoughtfully designed. I love the fact that all subjects are covered in a very balanced way, and that the Bible, history, science, music, and action rhymes all correlate to form a very cohesive lesson. The author has also carefully chosen the required resources, and wisely tied the lesson into these, rather than trying to "reinvent the wheel," by incorporating all the material into this already very sizeable volume! Like Little Hands, the format is flexible and adjustable to your schedule, so portions of the lesson can be completed throughout the day in the order that you choose. Also, because she has done the groundwork in assigning specific lessons from outside resources, there is very little lesson planning left for you: always a huge help to anyone already trying to manage older children's schoolwork AND not short-change the younger ones. Even if you haven't tried Little Hands to Heaven, you'll enjoy discovering this program. Because this curriculum depends on additional resources, we have listed these below for your convenience. Items we do not currently carry are listed without item numbers or prices. ~ Jess
Little Hearts for His Glory was written with the busy homeschool teacher in mind. It provides a way to do great activities without all of the usual planning and preparation required. Simple daily plans are divided into 9 boxes, which can be spaced throughout the day as time allows. Quick and easy activities require little or no preparation and use only materials you're likely to have on hand.
Little Hearts for His Glory features 34 units with complete daily plans. Each day of plans is divided into the following 2 parts: "Learning Through History" and "Learning the Basics".
Lesson plans are written so you can customize the program to suit your child's needs. A choice of resources is provided. Resources noted in the plans with a 'star' are considered necessary. Resources noted in the plans with a 'checkmark' provide a text connection to the activity.
The "Learning Through History" part of the program gives an overview of history from creation through present day. Bible stories are integrated with history stories. This allows students to see how the Bible fits into history and how we got to where we are today. The areas listed below are linked with the daily stories:
- Bible Memory Work
- Devotional Topics
- Science Discovery
- Art Projects
- Dramatic Play
- Thinking Games
- Rhymes and Music
- Gross Motor Skills
The "Learning The Basics" part of the program focuses on language arts and math. It includes the areas listed below:
- Handwriting Choice
- Fine Motor Skills
- Phonics Choice
- Story time
- Language Activities
- Math Exploration
Little Hands to Heaven (ages 2-5), Little Hearts for His Glory (ages 5-7), and Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory (ages 6-8) are complete, biblically-based curriculum that combine Bible stories and activities, with developmentally appropriate subject areas into each daily lesson. Author Carrie Austin offers a very thoughtfully designed course with a flexible framework and educationally sound lessons. The activities included in the lesson correlate to the Bible story, forming a complete, Bible-based lesson. Each course has 33-34 units (divided into daily increments), designed to be used one per week, and no seasonal content is included so you can begin at any time. Each unit is laid out very simply, with the activities organized into different boxes on the page (for a great at-a-glance look at your week) with short and simple directions given for each. Rather than reinventing the wheel, Carrie incorporates many tried and true resources into her curriculum such as Primary Math, Christian Liberty History, Christian Liberty Nature Readers, A Reason for Handwriting, and more. These will need to be purchased separately; you can find the required resources on our website. All in all, a very easy-to-implement, Bible-based curriculum that you should easily be able to fit into your day, and the youngsters will love to do.