Setting Up for World Geography

From Our House to Yours

Setting Up for World Geography 

So, I’ve placed my children, had my Heart of Dakota  ‘box day,’ and am setting up for high school World Geography (WG). My first step is to read through WG’s Introduction/Overview, Appendix, and first week or month of plans. This helps me envision my year and understand what my guide covers. Each high school credit includes its own specific course description, required resources, course materials, and suggested grading. So, taking time to read through these is time well spent. As I read, I make notes of supplies I need and don’t have on hand in the introduction’s margins. This way, I can easily make my shopping list later based on my notes.

Setting Up the Front of My World Geography Binder

First, I slide the preprinted full color World Geography Expedition Journal cover in the front of my 1 inch 3-ring binder. Second, I print the Overview 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). Likewise, I include the Earning Credits and Possible Grading Scale in my binder to show how credit was earned.  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. (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 World Geography and Living Library Tab Dividers 

Next, I label tab dividers for my WG binder. My goals are to show what my student did to earn his credit and how he progressed in skills. So, I label my first tab “WORLD GEOGRAPHY.” Behind this tab, I place WG’s history notebook pages inside clear page protectors. Throughout the homeschool year, my student takes out each notebook page he is using for the week. Then, when he is done with each page, he simply puts it back in a page protector for safe keeping.

If my student is doing the World Geography Living Library 10% extra credit option (which is an option I personally love for my children to do), I label my second tab “LIVING LIBRARY.” From the WG Appendix, I photocopy about 12-14 two-sided “Summary” pages or about 24-28 single-sided “Summary” pages (I like to have some extra on hand). I 3-hole punch these and put them behind the Living Library tab for my student to take out one at a time to use and put back as each page is completed. I don’t put these in clear page protectors, but you certainly can if you like.

Using Mapping the World with Art

To use Mapping the World with Art, I simply read through its first pages. The Introduction is short and sweet, and the “Tools and Materials You Need” section notes everything I need to have on hand. I usually just make sure I have the drawing tools, types of paper, general supplies, and extra art supplies on hand. As the “Course Materials” section in the WG Introduction notes, I just print pages as scheduled throughout the year from the “PDF Curriculum” CD of Mapping the World with Art. Likewise, I photocopy the “Activity Section” pages as they are scheduled throughout the year. (Actually, my sons printed and photocopied these themselves after I helped them a few times.) Next, I make sure to have a DVD player on hand. (My sons just used our laptop’s DVD/CD-ROM player for this.) Finally, I keep completed maps in order in a folder.

Setting Up the Book of Centuries’ Binder

For the Book of Centuries‘ portion of the World Geography credit, the WG Introduction suggests using a 1 inch 3-ring binder. The Book of Centuries (BOC) already comes preprinted and 3-hole punched.  So, I just slide the preprinted full color BOC Notebook cover in the front of my 1 inch binder. Then, I place the 3-hole punched BOC pages in the binder. As many different BOC pages are used at a time and there is gluing involved, I don’t put these in clear page protectors. Next, following the “Course Materials” section in the WG Introduction, I print the History Through the Ages: World Timeline Figures from the Timeline Figures CD. I put these in a pile in order and staple the top left corner to keep them together. Last, I slide the stapled together timeline pages inside the front of my BOC binder’s pocket.

Setting Up the World Religion and Culture’s Binder

For the World Religion and Culture‘s (WRC) course, World Geography’s (WG) Introduction suggests using a 1/2 inch 3-ring binder. The WRC Notebook already comes preprinted and 3-hole punched.  So, I just slide the preprinted full color WRC Notebook cover in the front of my 1/2 inch binder. Then, I place each notebook page in a clear page protector. Throughout the homeschool year, my child takes out the notebook page he is using for the week. Then, he simply puts it back in the page protector for safe keeping when he is done.

Per the ‘Course Materials’ section of WRC in the WG Introduction, I also photocopy the two “Bookmark” pages from WG’s Appendix. Then, I follow the directions on Unit 4, Day 4’s WRC’s box of plans in the WG guide to assemble 6-7 bookmarks (I like to have a few extra on hand). I put these in the front or back pocket of the WRC binder. Of course, you can always wait to assemble the bookmarks when they come up in the plans if you’d rather. Either way, as each bookmark is completed throughout the year, I 3-hole punch it and place it in the WRC binder in order after the notebook pages.

Getting Ready for Bible

To get ready for Bible, I make one or two photocopies of “Preparing Your Heart for Prayer” from the WG Appendix. Students keep a special prayer journal throughout their Bible course, and the photocopy of “Preparing Your Heart for Prayer” sheet is folded and kept inside the cover of the journal. A special bound book with lined pages should be chosen for this prayer journal. We found some beautiful, inexpensive journals at Walmart, and they had Scripture verses on the cover. These made such lovely prayer journals that I bought one for myself (which is why I made two photocopies of “Preparing Your Heart for Prayer” – I wanted my own copy for my prayer journal”)! Students use their Bible to look up Scriptures each day; it truly becomes personal and special to them throughout high school!  So, enjoy choosing whichever Bible you and your student would like best.


Getting Ready for English I

For English I, I use either 3 bound and lined composition books (1 for English Grammar, 1 for Literature, and 1 for Composition), OR I use 1 large bound and lined composition book with 3 section dividers (1 for English Grammar, 1 for Literature, and 1 for Composition). If my student is still completing his dictation levels, I use 4 composition books, OR 1  large book with 4 section dividers. I also make sure to have index cards on hand for Essentials in Writing’s research paper. Finally, I have fun choosing a Common Place Book with my student. Any keepsake-like bound, composition book with lines to copy memorable passages throughout the high school years can be chosen. We found some beautiful cloth bound and hardback options at our local Christian bookstore, and my sons each had fun choosing one!

Getting Ready for Logic, Spanish, Integrated Physics and Chemistry, and Math

For Logic, I have my student photocopy the Chapter Tests, Unit Tests, and Final Exams as they come up in the plans. Getting Started with Spanish is a workbook, so all I do to get ready for Spanish is bookmark on our computer the link for the free pronunciation recordings.  This just makes it easier for my student to find the site each time he needs to use it. For Integrated Physics and Chemistry, I use the ‘Course Materials’ notes in the WG guide’s introduction to gather the supplies not included in the IPC kit. Finally, I get ready for math using the notes in the WG Introduction and the notes in the math program I chose.

Thoughts on Record Keeping

For high school, I keep my student’s completed notebooks, binders, and workbooks. I put these all in order on a shelf each year, along with the checked off Heart of Dakota guide itself. Together these create a detailed record of the work that has been done to earn credit. Using, I create my student’s transcript. I also keep on file any required paperwork for my state, such as approved homeschool exemption forms and completed standardized test results. Each state can vary slightly in requirements for homeschooling, so be sure to check out your own state’s requirements at

Label Sticky Tabs to Mark Places in the WG 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. If you are going to do things more as they come up in the plans, rather than how I’ve previously described setting up for WG, then you would also want to make sticky tabs for “DICTATION,” “BOOKMARKS,” and “SUMMARY,” placing them in the WG guide’s Appendix. One final thing I liked to do is make a photocopy of the Narration Tips, Written Narration Tips, and Written Narration Skills.  Carrie does give permission to photocopy these. I keep these lists for me and for my student to reference throughout the year. However, you can just put another tab in WG’s Appendix for “NARRATION TIPS,” if you’d rather.

Shopping for Supplies

Carrie’s plans use readily available household supplies, and many options are suggested. However, to get ready to begin WG, I just stock up on usual art supplies – like colored pencils, thick and thin markers, a few permanent markers and high-lighters, glue (sticks and liquid), scissors, construction paper, tissue paper (colored), tape (masking and clear), a ruler, a yardstick, sticky notes/tabs, paints/paintbrushes, cotton balls, yarn/string, etc. I also stock up on index cards and page protectors. Finally, a flashlight, 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 WG’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 Christ,


Should I separate my 3rd and 5th graders, and if so, who should I move?

Pondering Placement

Question: Should I separate my 3rd and 5th graders, and if so, who do I move?

Our two sons are in Unit 10 of Preparing Hearts for His Glory (PHFHG). My younger son just turned 9 and is in 3rd grade. My older son is almost 11 and in 5th grade. Full-speed is too heavy a workload for my 3rd grader. It takes him twice as long to read and write than what is listed as approximate times. He’s also unable to do the science independently. The reading is above his level. I’m having him skip boxes to stay on the same unit as his brother. My 5th grader is spot on going full-speed. I DO want to separate them in the future when the guides become more independent. My question is this: should I separate them now? If so, who do I move? We never did Bigger Hearts for His Glory (BHFHG), but I’m not sure I can do these guides at the same time.

Carrie’s Reply: I’d either separate your 3rd and 5th graders, moving your 3rd grader down to Bigger Hearts, or I’d slow Preparing Hearts down to half-speed and add the extensions.

From what you’ve shared, it sounds like your 3rd grader places in Heart of Dakota’s Bigger Hearts. Based on this, one option would be to separate them by moving your 3rd grader down to Bigger. I am thinking that you would likely need to read the history readings to your son if you moved him to Bigger (at least at first and with A First Book in American History and the storytime). However, you could consider doing the science a bit more independently, as suggested in this thread.

If you separate your sons by moving your 3rd grader down into Bigger Hearts, you can probably move him toward more independence.

You may be able to move toward doing Bigger more independently with your son if you move him down. With my second son, who was an early writer and excellent reader, we did Bigger more independently than I did with my subsequent kiddos. You can click here to to read my post where I described the way I did Bigger with my second son.

Your older son in Preparing Hearts could also move toward more independence.

You could also move toward more independence in Preparing with your older child. We also did this with my second son, who was ready for more independence. For example, if your oldest son was ready to read the history readings on his own, this would help. Charlotte Mason said a child of age 9 on up who can read his own material should. It aids in retention, making connections, and retelling. Also, if your older son can begin reading more directly from the guide and doing as much as he can to prepare ahead for his times with you (as we mentioned in the above links for Bigger), then this would help too.

If you don’t separate your sons and instead keep them together in Preparing, I’d slow it to half-speed and add the extensions for your older son.

If you decide to stay with Preparing for both kiddos, I would definitely slow it down so that your younger son is doing all that is in the plans without skipping anything. I would also add the Preparing Extensions for your older son. Supposing you do this, I think you will be able to tell if Preparing at a slower speed with extensions is enough for your older child. If it isn’t, then you’ll want to allow that older child to move ahead at full-speed in Preparing more independently (which he is going to do once he gets to CTC anyway) rather than continuing to add more and more material to fill time for the older child just to keep the kiddos together.

If you do end up going full-speed in Preparing with your older son, you can either continue going half-speed in Preparing with your younger son, or move him down to Bigger Hearts full-speed.

In the event that you do end up continuing full-speed Preparing with your older child, you could either go to half-speed Preparing with your younger son or move him down to full-speed Bigger. Honestly, full-speed Bigger will have more of the skill-building that it sounds like your son is needing than half-speed Preparing. Those are just a few things to ponder. It can be challenging to find the right fit at times, but it is worth the effort to search for the correct combination. No matter what though, I wouldn’t continue doing Preparing the way you are currently doing it with your younger son. There is just too much that he is missing to adequately prepare him to enter CTC in the future. Hope this helps as you ponder your options!


Is Heart of Dakota college worthy?

Dear Carrie

Is Heart of Dakota college worthy?

I guess rather than this being a question I’m asking Carrie now, this is my answer to a question I used to have for Carrie. I’ve been meaning to share this, but I have just been so busy. Anyway, my oldest graduated after completing 9 Heart of Dakota programs. I know the question comes up – is Heart of Dakota college worthy? The answer is ‘yes!’ My first HOD kid graduated, and she received a full scholarship for tuition and books at a private Christian college. That is for the first four years of college, completely paid in full. She has friends going to the same school, and none received the kind of scholarship she did.

My daughter received high scores on the ACT, and we give Heart of Dakota the credit for that!

She did score very well on the ACT and that helped. So, I asked her what she thought helped the most with the ACT. She said that honestly it was HOD. I sort of expected she was going to say it was me making her study, hahaha! But, apparently nope; it was HOD. She said it really helped her with the language on the test and interpreting the questions in particular. That turns out to be a huge thing for these tests. Also, she had a very rich transcript and that was because of the wide coverage HOD gives in terms of credits you can claim legitimately for their study. That turned out to be huge in terms of making her stand out.

My daughter was well prepared for college, and we give Heart of Dakota credit for that!

The other question people have is, will they be able to make it in college? Well, I think HOD helped us there. She is scoring very high so far, and she was very worried she would not be able to cut it in college having been homeschooled. Now, she is completely confident because she is seeing she was very well prepared. All the writing and narration in HOD and the organization she learned in how to study really helped her. And by the way, she keeps on coming home and telling me that she has yet to read a story for her English course that was not covered in HOD. So, I’d say that is a big plus in the choosing of material within HOD.

My daughter initially struggled with choosing a major, but we think the spiritual content in Heart of Dakota helped her with that!

I want to also say that she struggled with choosing a major. I think HOD and the spiritual content helped her there as well. She ended up picking something completely different than she was thinking. But, I can see it is definitely a full circle God thing. She is going to get a degree in Christian counseling and specialize in the area of adoption. As she was adopted herself, I think HOD helped her to have more of a mission focus along the way. She has big goals and plans to go on to the PhD level, so apparently HOD gave her a love for learning.

I am a mom of six, and I’m so glad HOD teaches children how to learn to be independent!

Ok, having said all that, I am a mom of six, and we have had a lot of tragedy during our homeschooling years. I would say I am really a very average and somewhat easily distracted teacher. A lot of her schooling was very independent. But, isn’t it great we can choose a curriculum that really teaches them how to learn and be independent?!? Ultimately, that is the goal. Thank you Carrie, Julie, and Mike for all of your help along the way. Next year, I have three more graduating with HOD. It’s good to know it really was enough, and they really are prepared for the real world.


“Ms. Thank You Heart of Dakota for Preparing My Daughter for College”

Dear “Ms. Thank You Heart of Dakota for Preparing My Daughter for College,”

It was wonderful to hear an update on your kiddos and so encouraging to read about your oldest daughter’s experiences – coming from an HOD background as she headed into college. As homeschool moms, we want to be sure that we are preparing our kiddos the best that we can for what lies ahead, and that burden can feel heavy at times!

We celebrate with you, and we thank you for sharing your story!

It helps to hear stories from moms who have finished the homeschool journey as you have with your oldest daughter. We celebrate with you in that accomplishment!! I know that you have more kiddos to go yet, and I pray the Lord will walk with you and uplift you as you travel the homeschool road. I’m so glad to “see” you again! It seems like yesterday I was talking to you on the phone about putting your older kiddos in Bigger Hearts!! I also remember the blessing of meeting you at convention. Oh my! I often wonder where the years go. Thank you for taking the time to post an update to encourage all of us!


Setting Up for Drawn into the Heart of Reading (DITHOR)

From Our House to Yours

Setting Up for Drawn into the Heart of Reading (DITHOR)

So, I’ve placed my children, had my Heart of Dakota  ‘box day,’ and am setting up for Drawn into the Heart of Reading (DITHOR). My first step is to read through DITHOR’s Introduction, Appendix, and first week or month of plans. This helps me envision my year and understand what my guide covers. Likewise, it is important to read through the beginning pages and the “Getting Started” section in the Appendix.

Setting Up for Drawn into the Heart of Reading (DITHOR)

You can either set up DITHOR at the start or do it as you move through the plans. If I do this at the startI fill out each DITHOR Student Book’s “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 7/8 Boy Interest Book Pack, I see ’15 days’ next to Biography: Stonewall Jackson. So, I divide the total number of pages or chapters in Stonewall Jackson by 15 and fill out the Reading Calendar accordingly. I might do this for each genre or just the first one. Or, if I am choosing my own books and not using a book pack, I choose 1-3 books and pace them out accordingly. Also, I might choose my first genre kickoff in my DITHOR Teacher’s Guide.

Genre Log, Reading Strategies Lists, Qualities of Good Reading Lists, and Optional Vocabulary Activities

One final thing I like to do is make a photocopy of the Genre Log found in the Appendix. I note the books my child is reading on this log and include it in his portfolio binder as a record of what he’s read for the year. The Appendix also includes excellent reading strategies and qualities of good reading tips. I like to photocopy the Reading Strategies: Teacher’s List, Reading Strategies: Student’s List, Qualities of Good Reading: Teacher’s List, and Qualities of Good Reading: Student’s List. Carrie does give permission to photocopy these. I keep the teacher’s lists for me to reference and the student’s lists for my child to reference. However, you can always just put a tab in your DITHOR guide’s Appendix and label it “READING TIPS,” if you’d rather.

Notes on DITHOR’s Pacing Options

If you’re using DITHOR alongside a main HOD guide, follow the pacing in your main guide. For example, if you’re using DITHOR with Beyond… or with Bigger Hearts…, the pacing of DITHOR is 5 days a week. If you’re using Preparing Hearts through Missions to Modern Marvels, the pacing of DITHOR is 3 days a week. You can find the pacing for DITHOR noted in the Language Arts box of the daily HOD guide’s plans. Finally, if you’re using DITHOR as a stand alone program, you can choose whatever pacing you’d like. In general, a pacing of 3 or 5 days a week works well. If you choose a pacing of 3 days a week, you’ll get through about half of the 9 DITHOR genres one year, and the other half the next year. A 5 day a week pacing will get your student through all 9 genres.

Notes on Vocabulary Options and Phonics Options for DITHOR

If you are using DITHOR and not an HOD main guide alongside it, you may want to photocopy the optional Vocabulary Activities from the Appendix. These vocabulary activities can be used when the DITHOR teacher’s guide suggests them as optional activities. Heart of Dakota’s main guides that include all subject areas already include vocabulary activities in their daily plans. Because of this, there is no need to add the additional optional vocabulary activities noted in DITHOR’s Appendix, unless you feel this is an area your child needs to work on improving. Likewise, if your child still needs additional phonics practice, there is a reminder in the DITHOR plans to include this another way. However, this is optional. If your child is past needing phonics, there is no need to include it.

In Christ,


More of a Charlotte Mason-Style Education Than a Classical Education

More Than a Charlotte Mason Moment

Heart of Dakota Leans More Toward a Charlotte Mason-Style Education

Ahh… the Charlotte Mason (CM) or Classical question. This is one with a multi-faceted answer! At Heart of Dakota we definitely lean more toward the Charlotte Mason-style of education than the classical. Charlotte Mason and classical philosophies have some definite areas of agreement and overlap (most pointedly the reading of more “classic” type books). However, the main thrust of the two philosophies is different.

Fewer Books, Read More Slowly Over Time

CM-style readings focus on fewer books read more slowly over time. In essence, they focus on fewer/more quality books done more deeply. Classical readings enjoys using fact books (i.e Usborne, DK, and other encyclopedia-like books) as reading material. They also encourage the reading of abridgements of classics early on in education. CM readings are always living, use fact books only for reference, and recommend waiting to read the classics until the unabridged versions can be attempted. Not all classics are considered “good reading” in a CM-style education. Classical often focuses on the “Great Books.”

A Difference on Methods of Comprehension

CM focuses on narration as the primary method of comprehension. Classical also uses narration, but more for the purpose of learning to summarize. In CM-style narration, kiddos are to borrow words from the author to retell the story. Narrations are often lengthy and detailed. There is no “one right” answer or certain key points that “should be” in the narration. This is the way the child connects to and makes sense of the reading. Classical narration is looking for a more succinct narration with “certain” main key points. There is more of a feeling that a good narration should have these “key points” in it. This is a different form of narration than CM-style narration.

A Difference in Dictation Methods

CM and Classical both use dictation, but with different methods. CM uses studied dictation (meaning kiddos study the passage first to fix it in the mind prior to having it dictated). Classical also uses dictation, but does not have kiddos study it first. It is more of a test of what the kiddos know, rather than the practice of fixing it in one’s mind.

Comparing and Contrasting CM and Classical Approaches to Copywork, Grammar, and Memorization

Both CM and Classical use copywork as a form of early writing practice. This is an area of agreement. CM uses delayed formal grammar instruction and delayed formal writing instruction. Classical education focuses on early rigorous grammar instruction and also on a rigorous schedule for memorization. CM also does memorization, especially of Scripture passages and poetry, but is not nearly as rigorous as Classical.

Differences in Expected Outcomes of Written Narration

Both CM and Classical use written narration, yet the expected outcome is different. Classical uses written narration as a tool for learning how to write a summary through narration. There is more of feeling that there are certain key points that should be included for it to be done correctly. CM uses written narration as a tool to learn writing style by borrowing the author’s style and wording to convey the thrust of the reading. It is not meant as merely a stepping stone to summarizing, as classical uses written narration. In CM-style narration, the student is instead trying on various styles of writing using the author’s style, until they eventually begin developing their own style of writing.

Differences in How to Approach Bible Study and the Integration of God’s Word in the School Day

CM and typical Classical vary quite a bit on their approach to Bible study and integrating God’s Word throughout the school day. CM believed this was foundational to all learning. Classical devotes very little time during the day to this topic, unless you follow a modified classical approach (such as the Bluedorn’s Christian Classical or Memoria Press’s Christian Classical).

Character Training and the Formation of Habits

Character training and the formation of habits were a huge part of CM’s focus. She devoted much of her 6 volume series to these topics. It is in these areas particularly that I agree with her. The formation of a child’s character and his/her habits is an overlooked topic in Classical education, as the pursuit of wisdom, knowledge, and education is supreme.

Differences in What’s Important and What’s Just an Add-On

CM felt poetry study, nature study, art, and music were important. She studied science through nature, art through picture study of famous paintings, music through listening to classical pieces, and poetry through daily reading of classic poems. Classical looks at these areas as “add-ons”, until they are done in the upper levels along with the rigorous study of history. With a truly classical schedule there is little time left in a very rigorous school day to devote to these things.

HOD Falls on the CM Side for Almost Everything

You can see that at HOD we fall on the CM side for almost all of the things I’ve listed above. The two other CM areas we include are picture study and classical music, and we included them when they best coordinated with our history studies. From the description above you can see some distinct differences between the two approaches. When reading this, you may hopefully be able to sort out the differences and where you fall philosophy-wise.