Saturday, August 25, 2012

Beefing up HOD Beyond for a 3rd Grader

Originally, I had intended to use Bigger for my 3rd grader this year. This is our first year with Heart of Dakota so after some thought and prayer I decided to go with Beyond and move into Bigger in 4th and Preparing in 5th. That way we wouldn't be in CTC until 6th grade. I also made this choice because I didn't think he was ready for the writing aspect and the more Charlotte Mason style of narrating required in Bigger. But in doing so, I knew I would have to make some changes since he would be at the higher end of the guide. Here are the additions I've made to the curriculum.

Bible Study/Music:

The HOD Bible study and audio CD are great. My son learned the Bible verse with no problem. I did make him a Bible verse puzzle. We did it on Day 3 & 4 which really aided memorization. The great part is how the Bible integrates with all the other subjects.

In addition to the curriculum, I added more songs to Bible time and a read aloud to each day. Monday: Children Demand a Verdict, Tuesday: Egermeir's Bible Story, Wednesday: Morning Bells (part of HOD), Thursday: Great Treasure Quest, Friday: Is the Bible Personally from God. We also use the Bible verse copy work that I made at We do this M-TH. If you have a student who hates to write, only make them write one sentence a day but in their very best writing. If, on the other hand, your student loves writing, you can have them do the whole verse each day or a couple times a week.


At this point in history, I have not added any text to the already great texts used in HOD. In fact, the American Pioneers and Patriots book (Christian Liberty Press) is a 3rd grade book & Stories of the Pilgrims is a 4th grade level book. In my opinion (as someone with a history degree and a previous middle school teacher), most of these readings are on a higher level than a 1st or even a 2nd grader will completely understand. They may sit for it and be able to narrate back some of what they learned but a 3rd grader really will gain more from these readings than a younger child would. If I do add more to the readings, it will be Light and the Glory for Children and the other 2 subsequent books. We do the history activity as written each week. Make sure not to miss it.

I have added some history worksheets to our week. Someone created and posted history note booking pages for Beyond in the HOD yahoo group. They are a great review and assessment of what was read all week. I will give this either on Thursday or Friday. They can be found at:


We have really been enjoying the geography in HOD and do every activity. Geography is only offered once a week which I think is just a enough in these early elementary years. For the 3rd grader, I have added Map Skills published by Instructional Fair (Carson Dellosa). It is a very inexpensive book and my son loves doing them. (We did the 1st and 2nd grade book last year.) We just do one page a day on the same Geography day in the HOD plans. We also include extensive use of the globe and as we move more into the United States we will use the US map and be learning the placement of the states and learn the capitals. 

Poetry & Rhymes:

We follow the poetry lesson plans closely to how they were written. I see the weekly poetry as exposure not mastery. Some of those poems would be hard to memorize in a week. If it is a long poem, we focus more on the first stanza though I will read through the other stanzas periodically. For doing the poem copy work, a HOD mom has made up some copy work pages. It can also be found in the HOD yahoo group files section. For the 3rd grader, you could have them write an entire stanza each day or the entire poem depending on their writing ability. For my 3rd grader we usually do one line a day and focus on one stanza.


The science exploration lessons and experiments have been a hit with my son. He is very excited when it is a science day. We follow the lessons as written, but I have included doing a lab sheet when we have an experiment. This is great preparation for middle school/high school science. Another HOD mom has prepared these sheets and are available in the HOD yahoo group files under Beyond. I have added Apologia Zoology 1 into our week. We do it twice a week. However, we do not do all the experiments and activities in Apologia as it would be far too much work for my guy in addition to the HOD Science and lab reports. Get additional books from the library on the topics your child seems most interested.


We follow the art section as written. I really love how these activities are incorporated into the week and integrates with the rest of the weekly lessons. In addition to the art activity, we might add an art project from Abeka Art Projects on Fridays. Once a week, we do a few pages from How Great Thou Art curriculum using I Can Do All Things. I tried using this curriculum with my son when he was 6 and in 1st grade. He hated it! Now he is really enjoying it which shows how we need to be in tune with our children's likes and abilities and be ready to make changes as needed.


My older son started studying Latin last year and my younger one sat in on the classes and watched the videos too. He did learn a little, but I was more interested in exposure for him. This year,  the 3rd grader is using Prima Latina (the 9th grader is using Visual Latin). We are taking it slow doing it twice a week and going through a lesson every two weeks. He's picking it up and doing great with it. We will continue with this same book in the 4th grade. I would not consider doing this program earlier than 3rd grade.


For storytime, we don't necessarily pick a book from Carrie's list. It is not that we dislike the choices (quite the contrary), but we may not have the book or be able to get to the library to pick one up. We just pick a book from the same genre and it works great. At the beginning of the lessons, it is a biography. We read a book on Benjamin Franklin. We finished it in 9 days. So we started a second book on Sacagawea. We will have it finished before moving on to the next genre. We follow the lessons plans and I write in a composition notebook his answers to the questions in the lesson plans or his oral narrations. He can draw pictures in there too which go with his book.

Language Arts:

We do not follow the Language Arts lesson plans as we have other curriculum that works well for us. For spelling, we use All About Spelling and for grammar First Language Lessons. In addition, we use Abeka Language 2 book for writing and some worksheets for the struggling reader. If you use the curriculum suggested by HOD, start using Rod and Staff grammar in 3rd grade and do the higher level spelling lists at the back of the Beyond manual. Keep a list of words your student misspells in his writing during the week and learn those as well.

Handwriting is covered in the copy work we do in other subjects. He just has to understand that the copy work isn't busy work or just a way to learn his poem or Bible verse. It is to practice his handwriting. So, he needs to take his time and do his very best handwriting. We decided to hold off on learning cursive writing until his printing is better. We used Handwriting Without Tears last year which was great. And next year for teaching cursive, we will be using Cheerful Cursive. Other 3rd graders might be ready for cursive this year.


We do not follow the mathematics recommendation of Singapore math. We use Math-U-See. My son is in the Gamma level this year learning multiplication.  He also practices his math facts using several different means. Spend this year getting math facts cemented and use a math program that works best with your child's learning style at their own particular level which does not have to match their grade level.


My son is an emerging reader even in 3rd grade. He has a medical eye issue that required surgery. He is finally able to use his eyes together and focus. His reading development has been slower than average but he is still doing great and he should catch up this year. We follow the emerging reader schedule but not faithfully. In addition, to the emerging readers we still practice our Abeka phonics charts and read out of another additional book along with the Emerging readers. He does some worksheets for the struggling reader as well. If you have a 3rd grade independent reader, put them into DITHOR. I would wait to put a student in DITHOR before 3rd grade. If you have an independent 1st or 2nd grader, have them read books from the 2/3 list and let them narrate, but I wouldn't put the stress on them into starting DITHOR before they are ready.

I hope this helps those of you attempting to use Beyond with an older student. Feel free to leave questions on the blog or email me privately.


Naturally Thrifty Homemaker said...

Thank you! I think you just sold me on Beyond ... I was contemplating putting my son in Bigger for 3rd grade ... but I think this makes more sense for us!

Karyn Tripp said...

I write a homeschool blog & have recently started a weekly link up called Share It Saturday. I would love to have you stop by and participate! While you are there, be sure to also add your blog to the homeschool blog list. :) Thanks!