Should I have my more practical son do MTMM’s drawing and nature study?

Dear Carrie

Should I have my more practical son do MTMM’s drawing and nature study?

We are looking ahead to homeschooling next year using Heart of Dakota Missions to Modern Marvels looks like a great fit for my 13 year-old son. He is actually quite excited. However, he tells me he does not want to do the nature study and Draw and Write Through History. Being a practical kid, he prefers to build and take things apart. I am on the fence about this. I’ve heard there is a reason for everything in Heart of Dakota. Can you tell me a little bit more about the drawing and the Nature study in MTMM? Thank you in advance.


“Ms. Please Help Me Decide About the Drawing and the Nature Study for My Practical Kid”

Dear “Ms. Please Help Me Decide About the Drawing and the Nature Study for My Practical Kid,”

Your question brought to mind a comment my husband made the other day which I found vastly interesting. He said that it is such a blessing our boys are learning to sketch and draw through Draw and Write Through History and their nature journals. When I asked him to explain, he said our sons will need this skill more in their lives than they think. He said that when doing his lighting layouts (my hubby did lighting layouts for hospitals, parking ramps, commercial office buildings, banks, etc. before moving to run HOD full-time), he always felt challenged to accurately draw what he was seeing. He would have found it so much easier had he been taught to sketch well.

People often need to draw as a part of their day-to-day work within their profession.

His comment led me to think of how often people need to draw as a part of their profession or as a part of their day-to-day work. The more I thought about it, the more amazed I was at how often I could think of people (in all different professions) doing this! For example, through the years various medical doctors (and just recently my vestibular rehabilitation therapist who drew a picture of my inner ear to explain its function to me) have sketched organs or parts of the body to show medical conditions or problems they were addressing within my kiddos (or myself). Then, I was thinking about when we first met with our building contractor. As we were brainstorming, he began to draw rough sketches of the building plans for our new warehouse for an architect to interpret.

Our sons often put their drawing and sketching skills from HOD to practical use.

When we met with the man from whom we were buying our land for our warehouse, he drew out a quick sketch of the lot for us and labeled its general dimensions (as we were looking). As we were planning how we wanted our warehouse to look, we had my second oldest son draw a sketch of it to show to the building contractor. Our son could do this quickly (and better than my husband or I could do), as he has gone through HOD’s entire guide line-up and can actually sketch because of it!

When I went to redo my bedroom (for the first time in over 15 years), I brought a sketch of the room, labeled with dimensions of my existing pieces of furniture. We had my boys make a sketch of this, with measurements, and text it to me on my phone, so I’d have it with me as I was shopping.

I use drawing and sketching in planning our guides’ covers, layouts, and notebooking pages.

When I plan the way I want a guide to lay out, I sketch it out on paper and hand write in the boxes general notes and formatting. I keep this sample layout of a day as a ready reference the entire time I write the guide, so I can see at a glance what each box includes and any rotational items. When I send my graphic designer the layout of the cover for each new guide, I draw a sketch of where I want each item I desire on the cover to go. I do the same when I lay out the notebooking pages for him! My sketching skills are not fabulous, yet my graphic designer can tell what I’m thinking and even the mood I’m wanting to create based on my sketches.

For many kiddos, drawing can be thought of as a practical life skill instead of an art skill.

Anyway, these are just a few random ways that drawing has been used in my life lately. So, before you skip the drawing lessons, do your kiddos a favor and look at it as a life skill instead of an art skill. Think of it as an opportunity they may never have again to hone a skill that is much more useful than it appears at first glance. No, we won’t all be artists, but yes, we will all need the sketching skill at various times in our lives!

In Closing

P.S. I had to smile as I was just ready to click “submit” on this post! My older son just arrived in my room with a sketch of a box with partitions. He drew this out to see what he needs to buy to hold electric cars. One of his brothers accidentally broke a few of the cars by shoving them in a box to store them. My son desires a solution for this problem (since the cars are his)! So, he found a storage container that will work with the sketch and is off to purchase it. He was just showing me to be sure I was alright with buying this storage container (I’d told him if he came up with a solution, I would fund it if it wasn’t very expensive). Anyway, just another quick 3-D sketching moment put to practical use!



MTMM for High School: Science Path Questions

Pondering Placement for High School Science

MTMM for High School: Science Path Questions

We are using HOD’s Revival to Revolution this year. My son will be using MTMM for 9th grade this coming year. He said he would like to do something different for science this year than chemistry. So, we were thinking of having him do biology. In doing this, would we need to use the health resources from WH as well? I know you said this was a good pairing science-wise. I really don’t want things to become disjointed for him. He reads and comprehends very well above his level, and he will turn 15 shortly. We will not make it through all the guides. So, as we go through and incorporate things one year, this may open up room for something else another year. At the same time, we don’t want to weigh him down with too much. Would adding the health with the biology in MTMM be too heavy?


“Ms. Please Help with High School Science Decisions”

Dear “Ms. Please Help with High School Science Decisions,”

As you look at your son’s year and your decision to use MTMM for his freshman year, we want to take care not to switch out so many things and add so much that MTMM actually becomes more difficult and heavy than simply using World Geography for his freshman year. With that in mind, I would lean toward using as much of MTMM as written.

For your son’s high school science, I’d add to the MTMM science and leave the WG, WH, and USI high school science plans intact.

The science in MTMM is actually a pretty good mix of chemistry, physics, and biology with some geology thrown into the mix through the study of fossils. It is a great year of study and quite different than the science the students have just come out of in Rev2Rev. I would encourage your son to use the science in MTMM as written and add either the Chemistry 101, Biology 101, or Physics 101 dvds on his free 5th day – choosing whichever set best suits his fancy. I would leave the sciences in World Geography, World History, and US1 intact for the time when he arrives at those guides. By the time he gets to his senior year, and is likely using US1, we can look more deeply at his interests and plan his science for that year accordingly

High School Literature for MTMM

For literature, I would either use DITHR Level 6/7/8 with the 7/8 DITHR Boy set, or he could instead use the boy literature set from World Geography along with DITHR 6/7/8 Student Book (and then the following year do only the BJU lit along with World Geography, thus lightening his load for literature for the World Geography year). If you did use the Boy Lit set from World Geography with DITHR, you would just plug each of these books into whatever DITHR genre fits best and teach your way through the DITHR unit with the book. I would stay with WWTB Vol. II as scheduled in MTMM for composition and do the Rod and Staff English as scheduled in MTMM. This combination will give him one full credit in lit/comp.

High School Economics for MTMM

For Economics, he could either add the Economics study from US2, or he could simply do what is scheduled within MTMM and wait to do Economics until his senior year of high school. Either option would work.

High School Foreign Language for MTMM

I would plan to add Getting Started with Spanish from the World Geography guide, which you can do without needing the World Geography guide. Simply have him do one lesson a day of Getting Started with Spanish. This will earn him 1/2 credit in Spanish I.

High School Credits for MTMM

I would leave the rest of MTMM as written. His credits then would be as follows:
1 credit in U.S. History II
1 credit in English (including lit, comp, and grammar)
1 credit in Science with Lab
1/2 credit in Spanish I
1/2 credit in Economics (if you add the study from US2 and 1 full credit if you also do the Farmer’s Market)
1 credit in Math (Algebra I or above)
1/2 credit in Bible (up to one full credit if he is also doing Bible reading outside of school time)
1/2 credit in Fine Arts: Drawing from Nature (if he adds additional nature journal entries during the week or during the summer)

Looking Ahead 

Hope this helps! Just for reference, for each year of HOD high school study once he reaches the official high school guides, your son will earn 6 1/2 to 7 credits each year. So, you can see the credits he will be earning through MTMM will be comparable. Most states require between 18-24 credits to graduate with this requirement differing from state to state.


Prepare for the school year by reading the guide’s “Introduction”!

Teaching Tip

Reading the guide’s “Introduction” is great preparation for the school year.

You may be beginning to turn your thoughts toward school. One of the best ways to prepare for the upcoming year is to read through your HOD guide’s “Introduction.” There is such a wealth of information in the “Introduction” that we should truly title it something else!

How does reading the “Introduction” help prepare you for the year?

The “Introduction” will give you a feel for how each area is handled in the guide and the goals for each subject. It will let you know what notebooks, binders, etc. are needed for each subject area. Reading the “Introduction” provides a great summary of what to expect for the coming year. The “Introduction” is the last part of the guide we write. In this way, we can be sure that it truly summarizes needed information for you in one place!

If you have students in different HOD guides, read only one guide’s “Introduction” each day.

If you will be teaching more than one Heart of Dakota guide, read the “Introduction” for different guides on different days. This will help you focus on one guide at a time and will keep you from getting overwhelmed.

Can you use the guide without reading the “Introduction?”

Of course you can skip reading the “Introduction” and just jump right in and teach. However, often when families do this they miss the big picture of the guide. They also miss out on some gems that are referred to in the “Introduction” and included in the Appendix.

So, let’s get started!

After more than 15 years of homeschooling my boys with HOD, I still read the “Introduction” at the start of my school year! So, grab a cup of tea or coffee, cuddle up with your highlighter, and read away. Just reading the “Introduction” will make you feel more prepared!


Top Ten Tips for Teaching Multiple Guides

Setting Up for Missions to Modern Marvels

From Our House to Yours

Setting Up for Missions to Modern Marvels

So, I’ve placed my children, had my Heart of Dakota  ‘box day,’ and am setting up for Missions to Modern Marvels (MTMM). My first step is to read through MTMM’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).

Setting Up the Front of My Missions to Modern Marvels Binder

First, I slide the extra preprinted full color MTMM Student Notebook cover in the front of my 3-ring binder. 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. (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.)

Setting Up the President Study Notebook Pages’ Binder

For the President Study, Missions to Modern Marvels’ Introduction suggests using a 1/2 inch 3-ring binder. The President Notebook already comes preprinted and 3-hole punched.  So, I just slide the preprinted full color President 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.

Label History, Economics, Geography, and History Projects 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.” Behind this tab, I place Missions to Modern Marvels’ history notebook pages inside clear page protectors. If I have an older child using the history extensions, I place any completed 3-5 paragraph summaries or written narrations including his opinions here as well. Then, I label my second tab “ECONOMICS.” I put MTMM’s Economic Principles’ Student Notebook pages behind this tab. Next, I label my third tab “GEOGRAPHY.” I place any of my child’s completed Map Trek assignments here (or, these can be put in a separate smaller binder instead). Then, I label my fourth tab “HISTORY PROJECTS.” I place any completed flat projects that are not part of the History Notebook here.

Label Language Arts and Math Tab Dividers

For language arts and math, there are many options. I could add more tabs to my history 3-ring binder or start tabs in a new smaller 3-ring binder. Or, I might not have a binder at all, but instead simply keep on hand the actual notebooks and workbooks in their entirety. If I choose to add to my history binder, I’d label my fourth tab “LANGUAGE ARTS.” For DITHOR, I would include some completed workbook pages. Likewise, for R & S English 5 or 6’s written work and for dictation, I’d include a handful of completed pages. For Write with the Best Volume II, I’d include samples of my child’s writing.  Likewise, for Storytime, I would include some of my child’s completed Bookmarks. (Even though MTMM’s Storytime is history-based, I feel it fits well within the Language Arts tab.) Finally, I’d label my fifth tab “MATH” and include some completed math workbook pages.

Getting Ready for Science

For SCIENCE, I either photocopy 37 (nice to have a few extra) “Science Lab Forms” from the Appendix, or I do this as it comes up in the plans. MTMM’s Introduction also notes students will need loose leaf notebook paper, as well as a place to store their notebook entries, answers to questions, written narrations, and science experiment forms. So, I just follow the Introduction’s notes to get a one-inch 3-ring binder and label one tab  “Science Work” and label another tab “Science Lab Forms.” Then, continuing to follow the Introduction’s notes, I get another one-inch 3-ring binder with a place to insert a cover page for The Elements: Ingredients of the Universe. 

Things Either to Do at the Start Or to Do As They Come Up in the Plans

If I want to use photocopies of DICTATION instead of the Appendix, I photocopy the passages and label a composition notebook ‘DICTATION.’ For GEOGRAPHY, I either print the Map Trek maps right away, or I do this as it comes up in the plans. Personally, I like to print all of the already labeled Map Trek maps in color and the maps for my student to write on in black and white at the start. However, you can always view the colored maps on your computer screen instead of printing them and just print the black and white maps. For STORYTIME,  as noted in the Introduction, I either photocopy the Bookmarks from MTMM’s Appendix, or I do this as it comes up in the plans. If I choose to photocopy them all at the start, I make 8 (nice to have a few extra) back-to-back copies following the ‘Storytime’ instructions on Unit 1, Day 1 of the daily MTMM plans.

Setting Up for Grammar, Writing, Math, Nature Journal, Bible Quiet Time, Biblical Worldview, and Common Place Book Entries

For the written work in English GRAMMAR, I label a lined composition book ‘GRAMMAR.’ Then,  for WRITING, I label a lined composition book ‘WRITING’ or ‘WRITE WITH THE BEST.’  For MATH, I choose to either have my child write directly in the textbooks/workbooks, to use loose-leaf paper, or to use a lined notebook. If I choose a lined notebook, I label it ‘MATH.’ For BIBLE QUIET TIME as noted on Unit 1, Day 1 of the MTMM plans, I photocopy from the Appendix Preparing Your Heart for Prayer. For BIBLICAL WORLDVIEW, I label a lined notebook or journal for my child’s written work. Finally, I choose a special lined and bound book for my child’s COMMON PLACE BOOK, which is described in the Copywork section of MTMM’s Introduction.

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 the DITHOR 6/7/8 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 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. Also, I might choose my first genre kickoff in my DITHOR Teacher’s Guide.

Label Sticky Tabs to Mark Places in the MTMM 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 “DICTATION,” “POETRY,” and “MATH,” placing them in the Appendix.  Likewise, if my child is using the extensions, I label another tab “EXTENSIONS.” If I’m going to photocopy the Science Lab Form as it comes up in the plans, I label another tab “SCIENCE LABS.” Likewise, if I’m going to photocopy the Storytime Bookmark as it comes up in the plans, I label another tab “BOOKMARKS.” Finally, for DITHOR, I label 2 tabs “DAILY PLANS,” placing one in the teacher’s guide and one in the student book.

Special Items for MTMM 

There are a few special items needed for MTMM. Some things I noted when I read my MTMM Intoduction and first week of plans were a globe, a  Bible, and a small set of oil pastels. I also noted I’d need a CD player for What in the World Volume III? and for Hymns for a Kid’s Heart Volume II. Likewise, I noted I’d need a CD-ROM computer player for the Map Trek CD. I also noted I’d need a DVD player for The Ultimate Guide to the Presidents DVD, for the Evolution: The Grand Experiment DVD, and for the American Testimony Set 2 DVD (if using the extensions). For Worthy Words, I noted I’d need 35 index cards and a place to store them. Similarly, for the Nature Journal and for Independent Science Exploration, I noted any special supplies from MTMM’s Introduction. Finally, I noted to order my State Study things from, as well as order some state tourist information.

Teacher and Student Narrations Skills’ Lists

One final thing I liked to do is make a photocopy of the Narration Tips: Teacher’s List, How to Narrate: Student’s List, Written Narration Tips: Teacher’s List, Written Narration Skills: Teacher’s List, and/or Written Narration Skills: 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 MTMM 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. I just skim the History Project plans every month or so, to look for the one-off supply. However, to get ready to begin MTMM, I just stock up on usual art supplies, like crayons, 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, playdough/modeling clay, sticky notes, paints/paintbrushes, cotton balls, yarn/string, etc. I also stock up on index cards, page protectors, and a few catalogs. Finally, a flashlight, deck of cards, 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 MTMM’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,


World War I and Missions to Modern Marvels

History with Heart of Dakota:

Setting the stage

Just over 100 years ago, World War I ended. To some, it was known as “The Great War.” To others, it was known as “the war to end all wars.” To some, its end represented a hope for increased world peace. To others, World War I was the death-knell for 20th century dreams of a utopia here on earth. Whether for good or ill, there is no doubt that this titanic struggle left its mark on humanity.

War like never before

World War I was humanity’s first truly global conflict. The theaters of war ranged from the muddy trenches and ruined villages of France, the shimmering sands of Arabia, the tumultuous coastline of Gallipoli, the brisk seas of the North Atlantic, the alpine fortresses of Italy, and the wintery steppes of Russia during the last days of the Tsars. For 4 long years, multinational soldiers belonging to the Allied Powers fought bitterly with Central Powers forces on each of these battlefronts.

World War I also marked a crossroads between tradition and innovation. Previous wars had been fought with an extremely infantry-centric mindset, with mounted cavalry and artillery giving support. When the war began in 1914, generals on both sides expected a war of quick maneuver. Indeed, many soldiers expected to be home by Christmas. But what no one had counted on was the rapid development of new technology that would forever change the face of warfare.

The war on the ground

The way that ground forces were employed during World War I were shaped by several new threats that soldiers in previous wars never had to deal with. At the top of this list of new hazards was the machine gun. Capable of firing several hundred rounds per minute, a well-placed machine gun nest crewed by two or three men could effectively gun down hundreds of advancing enemy soldiers. Since the average soldier was still equipped with a bolt-action rifle that needed to be cocked before each shot, he didn’t stand a chance out in the open.

This situation lead to a stalemate where neither foe could successfully advance against the other. So, each side constructed trench networks measuring hundreds of miles, so their soldiers could hold the line in relative safety. Relative safety, of course, was still dangerous. Artillery easily shelled soldiers hiding in the mud with shrapnel and something far more insidious…poison gas. Snipers and machine gunners made quick work of anyone foolish to poke their heads above the trenches. Finally, there was also the new threat of being strafed from the air by aircraft. Truly no place was safe for the infantry on the ground.

The war at sea

The war at sea, too, was distinctly different than in previous conflicts. Hitherto, fleets had relied on large surface warships to win battles on the high seas. With World War I came the advent of an entirely new class of naval vessel: the submarine. Submarines could slip through blockades with ease and attack enemy ships without warning. The Germans, especially, took this form of warfare to new levels. Suddenly, it was a very real possibility to have German U-boats lurking off the coastline of Great Britain…or even America.

The war in the air

World War I also marked the dawn of an entirely new theater of war: the skies. Only 11 years after the mankind’s first powered flight, aircraft had evolved to the point where they could be utilized by the military. Airplanes represented a paradox in military innovation. They were on the bleeding edge of military technology, yet still remarkably primitive by our standards. They were capable of flying miles behind enemy lines, yet they were extremely vulnerable to structural failures and accidents. In an hour-by-hour sense, aircraft pilots were safer than the soldiers hunkered down in the trenches, yet a new pilot’s life expectancy could fall to as low as 11 days. Nonetheless, many brave pioneers took to the skies in these aircraft that stood as much chance of killing them as they did their enemies.

Where in Missions to Modern Marvels is World War I covered? 

Since this pivotal war in history is often forgotten about, we want to ensure our students have a good grasp of how and why this war happened as it did. We highlight World War I in several of our guides, but for the sake of time, today I’ll only look at how we cover it in Missions to Modern Marvels. So, without further ado, here is a breakdown of books in this guide which cover World War I: 

  • All American History Volume II: touches on the causes of the war and the international effects.
  • The Story of the World Volume IV: takes a narrative look at the primary people and events of the war.
  • Great Events in American History: briefly outlines the defining characteristics of the war.
  • Book of Great American Speeches: includes President Woodrow Wilson’s full speech asking Congress to formally declare war on Germany.
  • Draw and Write Through History – the 20th Century: succinctly sets the stage and includes drawing lessons that teach students to draw a WW1 soldier, a submarine, and a biplane.
  • War Horse: takes readers on a journey through both sides of the fighting through the eyes of a fictional British war horse named Joey.
  • Angel on the Square: depicts the last days of the Tsars through the eyes of a fictional Russian girl named Katya living in the palace during the war.
  • Soldier Dog: offers a fictional (but distinctly-relatable) account of life in the trenches as a messenger dog handler during the war.

(We also cover World War I briefly in Preparing Hearts For His Glory and Hearts for Him Through High School: World History, as well as more extensively in Hearts for Him Through High School: US History II.)

In closing

In my opinion, understanding World War I is crucial to understanding modern history. It marked the fall of empires and the ascension of America as a global power. It redrew borders and altered the face of warfare forever. Nonetheless, as far-reaching as these consequences are, World War I’s effects are not limited to mere historical fact. It proved for all time that there is no hope for peace on earth based solely on mankind’s efforts. The 20th century began as mankind’s declaration that social perfection was in fact attainable. As early as 1914, those dreams were proved to be hollow. The sound of whistling shells replaced the hopeful songs of peace, and bullet casings replaced the pens of statesmen.

If hope rests not with mankind, where then is it to be found? The answer is the same today as it was in 1914, and as it was since the beginning of time: “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.” – Isaiah 45:22

The legacy of World War I cries out that only in God is there hope for fallen humanity. Without Him, the best and brightest intentions still fall short, and peace cannot prevail. But with Him, there abides a true hope. A hope that cannot be extinguished even by the shock and flash of shells. Death claimed the lives of millions during that war just as death claimed the life of God’s own Son on the cross. Yet He emerged from the grave triumphant. Christ alone has overcome this world; so too shall we if we place our hope in Him.

In Christ,

Cole Austin