Setting Up for U.S. History II and Getting Ready for Your Last Year

From Our House to Yours

Setting Up for U.S. History II

So, I’ve placed my children, had my Heart of Dakota  ‘box day,’ and am setting up for high school U.S. History II (USII). My first step is to read through USII’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.

Setting Up the Front of My U.S. History II Binder

First, I slide the preprinted full color U.S History II Journal cover in the front of my 1  1/2 inch three-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. Some states require a completed portfolio for meeting with a principal or umbrella school. The Introduction and first week of plans give an excellent overview for this. (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 Rest of My U.S. History II Binder

I continue setting up the rest of my U.S. History II binder. Behind the First Week of Plans, I place USII’s 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. This makes a beautiful keepsake of our year of spent doing U.S. History II!

Preparing for the Living Library Extra Credit Work

If my student is doing the U.S. History II (USII) Living Library 10% extra credit option (which is an option I personally love for my children to do), from the USII Appendix, I photocopy the “Triple-Entry Journal Assignment” sheet. I have my student glue it in the front of a bound and lined composition book of his choice. This way, he can refer to the example to know the format expected for his journal assignments. I simply keep the notebook with his completed triple-entry journal assignments on hand as a record of his extra credit work for the year.

Setting Up the Book of Centuries’ Binder

For the Book of Centuries (BOC), the USII Introduction suggests using a 1 inch three-ring binder. This already comes preprinted and three-hole punched.  So, I just slide the preprinted full color BOC Notebook cover in the front of my binder. Then, I place the three-hole punched BOC pages in the binder. (If you used WG, WH, and/or U.S. the years before, you’ve already done this step). Then, I add the extra pages needed for USII. 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 USII Introduction, I print the U.S. History II 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.

A Few Other Noteworthy Things About Setting Up for the U.S History II Course

Throughout the year, my student follows the USII daily plans to make photocopies for Key Decisions in U.S. History: Volume 2 and from Great Documents from U.S. History: Volume II. I help with making these copies the first time they come up in the plans. Then, my student follows the directions to do this on his own. We file his completed maps in the back of his U.S History II journal. I also let my student know he will need a DVD player for The American Testimony DVD Set 2. He will also need about thirty-seven (I like a few extra) 3″ x 5″ index cards for the Talking Points assignments.  Likewise, he will need a yellow highlighter and a pink or green highlighter (or small yellow and pink or green sticky notes) for his key word narrations.

Getting Ready for Bible

For Bible, students keep a prayer journal. Any bound book with lined pages can be used. We found some beautiful options at our local Christian bookstore! (If your student completed WG, WH, and/or U.S.I, he already has a prayer journal.) Next, I photocopy the “Prayer Journal Insert” from the Appendix of the U.S. History II guide. I have my student fold this and put it inside his Prayer Journal cover. Students also need their own Bible  to look up Scriptures each day. So, enjoy choosing whichever Bible you and your student would like best. Finally, I download and print the I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist Curriculum: Answer Key. I three-hole punch these and place them in a 1/2 inch three-ring binder.

Getting Ready for English IV and Speech

For Speech, I print the needed pages from the Secrets of Great Communicators: Teacher’s Guide CD from the PDF_Files folder. I three-hole punch these and put them in a 1/2″ three-ring binder. For English IV, I use either 3 bound and lined composition books (1 for English Grammar, 1 for Dictation, and 1 for Speech), OR I use 1 large bound and lined composition book with 3 section dividers (1 for English Grammar, 1 for Dictation, and 1 for Speech). I also choose a bound journal with lined pages for my student to use as his Literature Journal. Likewise, we choose a Common Place Book. Any keepsake-like bound, composition book with lines to copy memorable passages throughout the high school years can be chosen. Walmart  had many lovely, inexpensive options for these! Finally, I have a DVD player handy for the Literature DVDs and the Speech DVD.

Getting Ready for Economics and Finance

For Economics, I get 1 bound and lined composition book and label it “Economics.” If I want to remove the answer key from the back of Intro to Economics: Money, History, & Fiscal Faith, I remove it and put it in a folder. I print the Constitutional Literacy Answer Key to Workbook Questions, 3-hole punch them, and put them in a 1/2 inch three-ring binder. For Finance, I show my student how to print the activity and assessment pages from the Foundations in Personal Finance: Teacher Resources CD as it comes up in the plans. However, I do print the Fill-ins Answer Keys, the Chapter Summary Answers, and Money in Review answers. I three-hole punch these and put them in a 1″ binder. Likewise, I have folder for my student’s Finance activity pages and assessments.  We plan to have a DVD player handy for the Economics and Finance DVDs.

Getting Ready for Foreign Language

For Spanish II, I plan for my student to listen and practice with assigned Spanish CD tracks as scheduled in the Spanish II: Student Books. Likewise, I use the Spanish II: Teacher’s Guide “Audio Scripts” section to help my student write the assigned audio CD number and Track number on the blank next to each CD icon in each unit of each Student book. I might do this as it comes up in the plans, or all at the beginning of the year, whichever I prefer. For Latin/Greek, I bookmark the Internet site for Getting Started with Latin on our computer. I also plan to have a DVD player handy for the lessons from It’s Not Greek to Me DVD.

Getting Ready for Science and Math

For Astronomy/Geology/Paleontology, I get a bound and lined composition book for my student and label it “Science.” Next, if I am dong the lab, I gather all needed “Materials Not Included” in the lab kit noted in the Astronomy and Geology Lab Manual. If I want to remove the answer key from the back of the Survey of Astronomy: Teacher’s Guide, I remove it and put it in a folder or small binder. I plan to have a DVD player handy for the science DVDs as well. For Math, I gather whatever special materials are noted in the  course 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 U.S. History II 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 U.S. History II, then you would also want to make sticky tabs for “TRIPLE-ENTRY JOURNAL,” “PRAYER JOURNAL,” and “DICTATION,” placing them in the USII 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 USII’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 USI, 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, 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, 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 U.S. History I’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,


Setting the Stage for Success with Shakespeare

More than a Charlotte Mason Moment

Setting the Stage: Charlotte Mason and Shakespeare

We probably read Shakespeare in the first place for his stories, afterwards for his characters… To become intimate with Shakespeare in this way is a great enrichment of mind and instruction of conscience. Then, by degrees, as we go on reading this world-teacher, lines of insight and beauty take possession of us, and unconsciously mould our judgments of men and things and of the great issues of life. (Charlotte Mason, Volume 4, Book 2, p. 72)

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts.
(Shakespeare, As You Like It, Act II, Scene 7)

‘Why read Shakespeare?’ by Carrie Austin, M. Ed., Author of Heart of Dakota Curricula

During the early years of educating our children, I struggled with Charlotte Mason’s recommendation that children study Shakespeare. I was sure that Shakespeare wasn’t worth studying by my children due to the inappropriate jokes, adult content, and references to love-making within his plays. However, as I continued to study his plays and ponder his influence, I realized that there would be something missing in my children’s understanding of the English-speaking world if I neglected to teach them about Shakespeare. Why? Well, partly for the reason that Shakespeare is responsible for contributing some 2000 words and phrases to the English language. Not to mention, those words are still in use today!

The Merit of Introducing Children to Shakespeare’s Plays in Story Form 

While Shakespeare’s plays were obviously not written for children, there is some merit in introducing children to his plays first in story form through Lamb’s Tales of Shakespeare. This aids students in their future understanding of his plays. So, later in high school, when students read Shakespeare’s unabridged plays in original form, they are ready. They do not find themselves floundering, but instead find themselves well-prepared.

The Benefits of Reading Shakespeare

In looking at the positive side of reading Shakespeare, his plays do look at both the virtues and vices of men. They show the consequences of sin, yet his characters often act mercifully. Shakespeare’s plays do refer to Christ and His teachings, and you can often see a resemblance in his plays to stories of other Biblical characters. Morals often play a decisive role in his plays, resulting in intricate plots that lead to consequences based on the character’s actions. The reader must work hard to follow the many plot twists and turns, which is great preparation for the reading of higher level books. Another benefit is that the tales are very entertaining and do much to stimulate the imagination.

A Difference in the Meaning of Words 

Shakespeare does include references to love-making. However, it’s important to note that the words ‘lovers’ and ‘love-making’ meant something different in Shakespeare’s day from the meaning of those same words today. During Elizabethan times, words such as ‘lover’ often meant sweetheart and ‘love-making’ meant an attraction between two people. This is different from the physical act of love that we associate with those same words today.

Heart of Dakota’s Charlotte Mason-Inspired Shakespeare Study

In our guide Resurrection to Reformation, parents have the choice of whether to include Lamb’s Tales of Shakespeare within their weekly schedule. Students read 18 of the 20 tales, omitting Macbeth and Measure for Measure due to mature content. We schedule readings once weekly, and we divide longer stories over two weeks. After each weekly reading, students color the accompanying black and white artwork within the Shakespeare Student Notebook pages. Students also copy a quote from each tale. Due to the length of each tale, and to allow students to better understand the various plot twists better, students are assigned to read the stories on their own.

The Purpose of the RTR Shakespeare Study

We do not attempt to analyze Shakespeare within the provided assignments, but rather to allow students to enjoy the readings and make their own natural connections. Often the moral connections that students make on their own are much stronger than those that would be made if we were to point out the “moral lessons” instead. While we do not wish to persuade you to pursue Shakespeare if it is not within your family’s goals, we do desire to explain our reasoning for including it as a choice within our Economy Package. As you ponder the best path for your family, we will link you to this article, which we found very interesting in our own ponderings about Shakespeare.

Shakespeare in Heart of Dakota’s High School World History Guide

In Heart of Dakota‘s high school World History guide, students enjoy reading Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar. Plays are best heard performed (and watched). Hence, HOD schedules this play to be read along with a fully dramatized, unabridged audio production of Julius Caesar. So as students listen to the recording, they follow along with the unabridged text in No Fear Shakespeare, reading the complete text of Julius Caesar on the left-hand page, while also referencing the side-by-side, line-by-line, easy-to-understand translation on the right. Furthermore, No Fear Shakespeare includes a complete list of characters with descriptions alongside plenty of helpful commentary. This 3-pronged approach helps students experience success with Shakespeare.

Shakespeare in Heart of Dakota’s High School U.S. History II Guide

In Heart of Dakota’s high school U.S. History II guide, Hamlet is read and enjoyed in a similar fashion. Students read Hamlet within Shakespeare Made Easy. This resource contains unabridged original text alongside a modern English version of the text. As students read Shakespeare Made Easy, they listen to Arkangel’s fully dramatized, unabridged audio recording. Furthermore, students enjoy the accompanying commentary included in Christian Guides to the Classics: Shakespeare’s Hamlet. We find students can truly be successful with Shakespeare with this balance.

Setting the Stage for Success with Shakespeare

So now you see how Heart of Dakota begins setting the stage for success with Shakespeare first in RTR‘s Lamb’s Tales of Shakespeare study. This non-threatening, enjoyable introduction to Shakespeare with abridged stories, beautiful notebooking pages, and copywork of some of Shakespeare’s most famous lines sets the stage for students to be successful. Then, after this stage has been so aptly set, the reading of unabridged Shakespeare in high school is not intimidating, but instead is rather like coming back to an old friend you were once introduced to, but are now ready to get to know better. I believe as you begin to study Shakespeare in this manner, you too will understand why Charlotte Mason believed in the merit of reading his works. In fact, you may just find you actually enjoy Shakespeare yourself!

In Christ,


Economics Credit and the Farmer’s Market for a 9th Grader in MTMM

Dear Carrie

How can my student doing MTMM for 9th grade earn Economics credit, and can our Farmer’s Market participation help?

We will be using Heart of Dakota‘s  Missions to Modern Marvels for 9th grade. I am trying to narrow down what to use for Economics to make it credit worthy. Do we need to add the finance resources from U.S. History II? I have seen a mixture of posts on the message board, from adding several extra resources to not adding any and claiming half a credit. Since we will be missing U. S. History II, we would like to do what we can to make this year a full credit. Also, we participate in our local Farmer’s Market. Is there a way to add this in as well for credit in Economics?


“Ms. Please Help a Student Doing MTMM for 9th Grade to Earn Economics Credit”

Dear “Ms. Please Help a Student Doing MTMM for 9th Grade to Earn Economics Credit,”

Great question!! Now that the U. S. History II guide is written, I can say that the best and easiest way to do Economics is to simply add it as written in the U.S. II guide. You can have your kiddo do the Economics resources already scheduled within MTMM as written and add the Economics portion from US2 each day. Most states and colleges require Economics, so I would go that route rather than the Finance route. However, since the finance course is so great, you could consider adding it your student’s senior year of high school if time allows.

Using the U. S. History II guide along with the Economics Package saves planning time and ups the interest level.

I realize that adding the Economics from USII would require the purchase of the USII guide along with the Economics Package, but the time you will save planning that course along with the interesting way that it is written would be worth it to me. Of course you could go a different route adding any of the things suggested as add-ones earlier (before USII was written), but those options will require more planning and in my opinion are not nearly as engaging.

My son truly enjoyed his U.S. History II Economics course.

My son truly enjoyed the Economics in USII. We had great discussions, and he made so many connections! Not to mention the material was often presented from a Biblical perspective, which to me is golden! What he learned will be so helpful to him throughout his adult life.

I would recommend completing the U.S. History II Finance course eventually.

If you do use the Finance from USII eventually (which I would highly recommend), then that would make the purchase of the USII guide even more useful. It is possible you may also borrow some other subjects from USII as you journey through high school, as there is much to love in the USII guide.

You could claim a full credit in Economics by using the MTMM Economics resources, using USII’s Economics, and participating in the Farmer’s Market.

If you do add the Economics as written from USII, when combined with the Economics resources already scheduled in MTMM and the work with the Farmer’s Market that you mentioned, you could definitely claim a full credit in Economics. The Farmer’s Market would only be one portion of the Economics total credit but when mixed with the other resources would be an invaluable project-style application of what your student is studying.


P.S. Click here to read another thread on our message board about beefing up MTMM for high school.

Should we combine U.S. History I and II to have a lighter 12th grade year?

Dear Carrie

Should I combine U.S. History I and U.S. History II, so my son’s 12th grade year is lighter and he can pursue other interests?

Dear Carrie,

My son is currently doing Heart of Dakota‘s World History for 10th grade and enjoying it! Contemplating his next year, however, I’m wondering if it’s possible to combine the U.S. History I and II history portion? Our state only requires (1) credit of American History. While I’m sure the material is worth spending multiple years on, my son is anticipating a lighter course load his senior year. He wants some time to pursue other interests. If this is inadvisable, do you have any other suggestion? Thank you in advance!


“Ms. Combine U.S. History I and II for a Lighter Year and to Pursue Other Interests Or Not”

Dear “Ms. Combine U.S. History I and II for a Lighter Year and to Pursue Other Interests Or Not,”

Many states require only 1 year of American History. Often that year of history does not even have to cover all of American History, making it fine from the state’s perspective to cover only a portion of American History as both the USI and USII guides do. This means that it would be fine to use either USI or USII to fulfill your state requirements. College requirements are often more rigorous than state requirements, so you may wish to check the requirements for any colleges your son may be considering before making any decisions.

I would suggest your son does U.S. History I next.

If your son is doing World History, I would be inclined to suggest he go into USI next. This will give him needed credits in Government and in American Literature, along with the required credit he needs in American History. It would also give him the needed Chemistry credit and allow him to continue along the foreign language path. In addition, he would be able to complete the New Testament Survey for Bible (after doing the Old Testament Survey in World History).

I like the options this leaves for your son’s 12th grade year.

I like that this choice leaves your options open for his senior year when he gets there. Much can change between a student’s junior and senior year. The USII guide has 1/2 less of a credit (with 6 1/2 possible credits) than the USI guide (with 7 possible credits). This makes the USII guide less time consuming than USI. The science is also lighter in USII with its astronomy/geology/paleontology focus instead of the more math-based Chemisty in USI.

I would not advise combining U.S. History I and II.

I wouldn’t advise trying to combine USI and USII for history, as it would be way too heavy both in volume and required output. You would also lose the connections by pushing through too much material too quickly. I will share that my two oldest sons truly enjoyed completing USII for their senior years. Since by the time they reach their senior year students (who have come up through HOD) have honed their reading, writing, critical thinking, and independent work skills, the senior year feels easier overall than previous years. It is a time of reaping what has been sown.

We purposefully front-load  a student’s credits the first 3 years.

At HOD, we choose to front-load a student’s credits the first three years of high school to be sure students are earning needed credits right from the beginning. This helps make the senior year less stressful and more enjoyable. From a personal standpoint, I would hesitate to miss the USII guide if at all possible, simply because there is such wonderful training for life in the Economics and Finance options, along with the apologetics course for Bible and the Speech course. The books in the literature study are not to be missed in my opinion, and the history part of the course is so helpful in understanding the times we live in today.

The science course may be a student’s last opportunity to know how to refute science that does not align with God’s Word. Simply being able to logically explain the creation-based perspective as adults when they visit museums, national parks, and planetariums makes doing the Astronomy/Geology/Paleontology course worthwhile! I pray this will help as you ponder your options! It is exciting to see students grow and mature. Congratulations on the hard work that has led to this point with your son!!



Economics in U.S. History II

Dear Carrie

How long does U.S. History II’s Economics take, and what types of assignments go with it?

We’ve enjoyed using Heart of Dakota for a decade now. Like always about this time of year, I am starting to think about next year. I was wondering about the Economics in U.S. History II. How long does it take each day? What types of assignments go along with it? Thanks!


“Ms. Please Describe Economics in U.S. History II”

Dear “Ms. Please Describe Economics in U.S. History II,”

The assignments vary with the books that the students are using. The opening 14-15 weeks have students watching Money-Wise DVD segments and doing corresponding video viewing guides, discussions, and assignments. These sessions average around 30-35 minutes daily. Occasionally, some days are 5-10 min. longer if the students are viewing a longer video and recording information. Once weekly, students read and annotate from Larry Burkett’s Money Matters for Teens. These days are shorter.

After moving through the Money-Wise DVD/guide sessions, students move on to reading Economics: A Free Market Reader and answering daily questions that pertain to the reading. Questions range from comprehension to application to research. The daily sessions hover around 25-30 minutes at that point, depending on how fast a child reads. The rest of the year will follow a similar pattern as the students move through the remaining Economics Resources.

I hope that helps!! My son truly enjoyed the Economics and Finance combination in U.S. History II. He talked with my husband almost daily about one or both of these subjects. We think it is timely for students to be studying Economics and Finance their senior year as they prepare for adult life. We couldn’t be more pleased with the connections between the two subjects. I found the study of these two subjects extremely entertaining as well as I planned them (and neither area was a love of mine previously)!


P.S. For more general information about Heart of Dakota, click here!