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,


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

How should I go about grading Foerster’s Algebra I?

Dear Carrie

We are starting our first year of high school, and this is brand new to me. So, I really appreciate the instructions Heart of Dakota has provided in the World Geography guide! I am still at a loss on how to grade Foerster’s Algebra I, and I appreciate any help you can give me!


“Ms. Please Help Me Grade Foerster’s Algebra I”

Dear “Ms. Please Help Me Grade Foerster’s Algebra I,”

At the high school level, the way that you weight your grades can vary widely. Almost any combination of daily work, reviews, and assessment will work. For example, you could use daily work as 50 percent of the grade or you could change that percentage up or down. As mentioned, daily work can just be earned by effort and completion (and correcting one’s mistakes). This is because quite often in daily work the material is new, and as students are trying to learn new concepts they often falter. So, using students’ first efforts at something new is not a true grade.

Options for Grading Chapter Reviews and Tests

Next, in considering how heavily to weight tests, at the high school level completion of chapter reviews often take up a portion of the assessment grade. So, I might lean toward 20 percent for chapter reviews and 30 percent for tests. Again, these percentages can be changed up or down.

Options for Grading Using Open-Book Testing Or Written Notes During Testing

Another option that is used with increasing frequency is for tests to be open-book. Or, instead you might allow your student to write down on an index card any helpful formulas or notes to be used during the test. This type of grading was something that was done in my college math classes. I learned to write very small!!

How Grading Is Weighted Within College Classes Varies Widely

Even at the college level, where tests are weighted much more heavily, there is quite a bit of variation as to how much other output students are required to complete for the rest of their score. Some courses are almost wholly test based, and others split the grade out more with a large amount of other output. My oldest sons’ college classes have varied widely in how things are weighted. It is often the instructor’s prerogative. Since you are the instructor, your prerogative reigns. You just need to be able to justify how you arrived at the grade.


Should my 9th grader skip World Geography to be combined with her older brother?

Pondering Placement

Question: Should my 9th grader skip World Geography to be combined with her older brother in World History?

I’m wondering what to do next year. My son will be in 10th grade, and my daughter will be in 9th. They’ve both done HOD together until this current year. I had my daughter take a year off from HOD. I didn’t want her to start World Geography in 8th grade. However, now I would really like to combine them again. My son will do HOD’s World History. Would it work to let my daughter skip World Geography and jump into World History? I would like her to do the WG Logic package instead of the WH Fine Arts though. She could then do Fine Arts for 10th grade. She’s done Spanish with my son this year, so she’ll be ready for that. They will have their own math and grammar. Would it be okay if she did Biology in 9th, Chemistry in 10th, Physics in either 11th or 12th?

Carrie’s Reply:

Honestly, I wouldn’t recommend your daughter skip a guide to be combined with her older brother. I probably wouldn’t recommend any 9th grader do World History, unless she’d first done World Geography in 8th grade. This is because World Geography is a step up from MTMM in so many ways. Hence, this makes the leap from MTMM to World History massive!

To skip a freshman level guide to jump into a sophomore level guide would make for a tough year!

If you were concerned about your 8th grader doing World Geography, then the jump up to World History in grade 9 would be even bigger. At the high school level, it is so important to take kiddos’ ages, maturity-levels, skill levels, independence levels, and number of hours they are able to hang with school into account. So if a student could handle the level and length of the World Geography guide as an 8th grader, he/she would be well-poised to do World History as a 9th grader. But, if the student did a more typical 8th grade program rather than a freshman level program (like World Geography) in 8th grade, then to skip into a sophomore level program (like World History) as a freshman would be setting that child up for a tough year!

Rather than skip to combine, I’d place your 9th grader in World Geography and your 10th grader in World History.

I would be more inclined to place your 9th grader in the World Geography guide and your 10th grader in the World History guide. With the rigor of the high school day in mind, being well-placed matters so much! For example, depending on how many hours your daughter did school in 8th grade, the switch to World History (at 6 1/2 – 7 hours a day, 4 days a week) could be a fairly significant one! The quantity of reading and the level of writing required also jumps up. Without having the year of BJU literature/novels in the World Geography guide first, the literature in the World History guide could be a significant challenge for your daughter. Of course, it will make a difference what your daughter did for her 8th grade year in this area as to how much of a step up this would be.

Rather than skip ahead to combine in science and in health, I’d enjoy the 9th grade options for your daughter.

To skip ahead to Biology without first doing IPC could be another area of challenge. Biology is such a terminology heavy subject with significant output required. Doing IPC gives the student a segue of sorts to a higher level of expectations content-wise and lab-wise before diving into Biology. Depending on what you daughter did for her 8th grade year, she may or may not have a similar segue in place. Another subject area that could pose some challenges is Total Health. This is because it contains many sensitive topics that are better discussed individually with one student at a time (and with a more mature student). Doing Health with one student rather than with a pair allows for more free sharing between parent and child.

If you did combine your kiddos, there would still be challenges.

Even if you did combine your kiddos, your kiddos would still have to read their material on their own and do their written work independently. They would also have the added challenge of sharing all of their school books.  So, this also presents its own challenges.

There are many ways to encourage sharing without choosing to combine kiddos in the same guide.

On the other hand, if your son did World Geography last year, he will have much he can talk about with your daughter this year during off school hours. We share a lot about our school day at the dinner table. We also have a half hour family reading time where we all read silently in the living room after supper. Often, our boys will read their living library or their literature books from their guide during this time. After the half hour of reading, we each share something from our book. This is a great time for the family to learn about each other’s readings! There are many ways to encourage sharing without having kiddos doing the same guide.

By choosing not to skip to combine, we have been able to hold our older sons to a higher standard.

I will also say that we have enjoyed the private meeting times with our boys even more as they have entered the high school years. It has kept us plugged into their joys and their struggles. Many private discussions have taken place during our meeting times with our boys individually. This wouldn’t have occurred if we had planned to skip guide(s) so we could meet with our boys together. I have been glad for the opportunity to be alone one-on-one with each student. We meet daily with each student for 30-45 minutes to go over their work. We have also found that it is good for our older boys to own their age and be held to a higher standard than their younger siblings. This is harder to do if you combine two students of differing ages together for the bulk of things the same each day.

If you are facing a significantly challenging coming year, we can discuss other options.

My advice to you will differ if you have a significantly challenging coming year. If you are experiencing debilitating health issues, or if someone in your immediate family has a health crisis, or if you have suddenly become caretakers for your parents, or if you are headed back to work, or if you are facing any other life altering circumstances, then we can definitely discuss other options. This is because in these situations your students are going to have to keep each other accountable and possibly even check each other’s work due to the fact that you are facing some of these time-consuming, life altering circumstances. So, please let me know if this is the case! We can discuss options then!

Blessings as you ponder your options!

What high school literature should I use for my 10th grader who used DITHOR for 9th grade?

Dear Carrie

What high school literature should I use for my 10th grader who used DITHOR for 9th grade?

Dear Carrie,

My 15 year old 9th grader is using Resurrection to Reformation with extensions. He is also using Revival to Revolution’s  writing and science, with at-level grammar, DITHOR, and math. Next year for 10th grade, he will use Revival to Revolution with extensions. He will also use Missions to Modern Marvels’  writing, with World History science/health, and at-level math and grammar. However, I’m unsure of what to use for his high school literature component.

I have two ideas! My first idea is to continue using DITHOR for high school literature for 10th grade. He’s using 5 genres of the 6/7/8 level this year for 9th grade. So, the following year, I could finish the rest of the genres and maybe double up on one to make 5 genres again for 10th grade, but use harder books than HOD lists for 7/8. My second idea is to use World Geography’s  BJU literature set. His reading level is certainly high enough to handle 10th grade literature. It’s difficulty with organization and time management that has kept him in lower guides, not comprehension. Or, is there a third idea you might have? By the way, thanks Carrie and Julie for helping me with the rest of the plan earlier! Although sometimes a bit busy, using multiple guides for different level subjects has worked really well for him!


“Ms. Please Help Me Choose High School Literature for My Son’s 10th Grade Year”

Dear “Ms. Please Help Me Choose High School Literature for My Son’s 10th Grade Year,”

We are so happy to hear your son’s year has gone well! As far as literature for 1oth grade goes, it would be fine to do the high school literature from the World Geography guide. In the event that doing all of BJU Lit and the accompanying novels feels a bit heavy for your son, one option you could consider is to split the World Geography Guide literature, doing only the novels from World Geography along with DITHR Student Book 6/7/8 this year and then doing the BJU lit the following year (when your son uses the World Geography guide for his writing along with MTMM). So, this will give you a back-up plan to consider.

Looking Ahead to Make a Plan for High School Literature

If you can look ahead and plan for your son to do the high school literature from the World History guide as written for either his junior or senior year, that would be good. Also, if your son is required to do American Literature for any future college entrance, then you would do that his senior year. If the American Literature is a necessity, then you would likely do the World Geography guide’s lit this year without splitting it in order to get to the American Literature in the USI guide before graduation. In that case, if you get into this year and feel the literature with both BJU and the novels is too heavy, you could do just the BJU Lit without the novels and then move onto the World History high school literature the following year. So, these are all options that would work!