Why do you use specific editions of literature in high school?

Dear Carrie

Why do you use specific editions of literature in high school?

In looking at Heart of Dakota’s high school literature, I like what I see. I’ve seen some high school literature programs that just have too many books too soon. Or, I’ve seen others that never ramp up enough to prepare my children for college. You’ve found a good balance, and I just plain love your book choices! So, I’m definitely doing Heart of Dakota’s literature. I have no questions about that. My question is actually about the book editions themselves. My daughter is starting with World History’s literature, as we unfortunately didn’t find Heart of Dakota until her sophomore year. I see specific versions of the books are necessary. I’m sure there is a simple explanation, so I apologize if this is a silly question. But, why do you use specific editions of literature?  Thanks in advance!


“Ms. Please Explain Why Certain Editions of Literature Are Used in High School”

Dear “Ms. Please Explain Why Certain Editions of Literature Are Used in High School,”

This is a good question, and I am glad you asked! First, each day of plans has specific page numbers to be read. So, if you have a different edition, the page numbers will be off, and your student will be left unsure where to start and to stop reading each day. Second, and even more importantly, the plans direct students to specific pages for their follow-up work. For example, the plans may have students underline a specific passage on page 186. Then, they may find a specific quote on page 217. Next, they may search for allusions to certain Scripture on page 238. So, each part of the plans draws out something special from the book! This helps us walk with the students hand by hand, as they journey through its pages!

Details About World History’s Literature

In World History’s literature plans, Days 1, 3, and 4 follow a similar pattern. The literature box is broken up into “Introduce,” “Read and Annotate,” “Select,” and “Reflect.” “Introduce” gives a little background or something to watch for or think about in the day’s reading. “Read and Annotate” assigns pages to be read and expects the students to annotate as they read. Often a specific annotation is given to the kiddos to help them learn to annotate better and to key them into important nuances within the narrative. “Select” requires students to select a passage to copy in their Common Place Book. “Reflect” is a written Literature Journal style reflection based on the day’s reading with topics ranging from Biblical/life applications to literary themes/elements to character motives/descriptors to Scripture connections/Godly character traits, etc.

Specific editions of books make all the difference in the world!

With as many pages as they are reading each day, searching through them for answers without the intended aid of the page numbers to locate them upon is incredibly frustrating! Not to mention, kiddos’ work probably isn’t a true reflection of all they are capable of doing. Using the wrong editions of books leaves kiddos frustrated, unable to do their best work, and working much longer to complete assignments than intended.  In contrast, using the right editions of books helps kiddos fully enjoy their reading, equips them to do their best work, and aids them in completing their assignments in a doable amount of time. Specific editions of books make our plans special, and they make all the difference in the world!



How can my daughter do creative writing in high school?

Dear Carrie

My daughter will be doing the Heart of Dakota World History guide next year. I like everything about it, but she is interested in creative writing. Should I substitute a creative writing program in place of Essentials in Writing? We thought about The One Year Adventure Novel. However, it’s a full English credit. So, I would have to figure out how to adjust the HOD schedule for English II’s dictation, grammar, and literature. I really don’t want to do that! I like the beauty of my daughter and I opening our guide and following it each day. How can I my daughter do a creative writing program without altering the rest of the English II credit, Carrie? Thanks!


“Ms. Please Advise How I Can Do Creative Writing with My Daughter in High School”

Dear “Ms. Please Advise How I Can Do Creative Writing with My Daughter in High School,”

We are excited for you to use World History with your daughter! I just wanted to let you know that we do schedule creative writing in high school. It is in the US1 Guide using In Their Sandals. My son is using – and loving – the program this year. So, the creative writing is coming!

Your daughter can choose her own topics in EIW, and then build on that foundation in US1’s ‘In Their Sandals’ creative writing.

I would advise you to wait to do the creative writing course until the US1 Guide. Your daughter will need the foundation that is laid in EIW to do many of the assignments in other subject areas in the coming HOD guides. EIW lays a terrific foundation in a variety of needed writing skills and types of writing. My older two sons are both creative writers at heart. They both truly enjoyed EIW. Just be sure to allow your daughter to choose her own writing topics for the lessons, within reason. That will spur her interest in what she is writing!

EIW’s writing skills prepare students well for college level writing.

Even if you have already done EIW in the World Geography Guide, you’ll find the WH Guide year of EIW really cements those writing skills and makes them more second-nature. With my sons in college right now, they are continually thankful for the foundation from EIW. The writing output they are required to submit weekly for their coursework draws heavily on the writing practiced in EIW. There is little to no creative writing in college.

EIW is planned twice weekly, alternating with grammar, which keeps the total time it takes to do the English II credit balanced.

The One Year Adventure Novel is also quite an intense, time-consuming program that would add more time to your daughter’s day than we are planning for EIW to take (doing it twice weekly alternating with grammar). I spent quite a bit of time looking at the One Year Adventure Novel for my own oldest son when he was in high school, and I was surprised with how much time the daily expectations would take to complete! You could always consider having your daughter do the One-Year Adventure Novel partly in the summer if desired. So, creative writing is coming! Your daughter will get to enjoy it next year in US1!


Setting Up for World History

From Our House to Yours

Setting Up for World History

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

First, I slide the preprinted full color World History Journal cover in the front of my 1  1/2 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. 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.)

Label World History and Living Library Tab Dividers 

Next, I label tab dividers for my WH 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 HISTORY.” Behind this tab, I place WH’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 History 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 WH Appendix, I photocopy about 22 (I like a few extra) “Literary Synthesis” sheets and about 10 “Word and Idea Helper” sheets.  These will be used alongside the Living Library resources.  I 3-hole punch these and put them behind the Living Library tab. Then, my sons take these out one at a time to use. When the pages are completed, they put them back. I don’t put these in clear page protectors, but you certainly can if you like.

Setting Up the Book of Centuries’ Binder

For the Book of Centuries (BOC), the WH Introduction suggests using a 1 inch 3-ring binder. This already comes preprinted and 3-hole punched.  So, I just slide the preprinted full color BOC Notebook cover in the front of my 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. (If you used World Geography the year before, just keep using your BOC from last year). Next, following the “Course Materials” section in the WH 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.

A Few Other Noteworthy Things About Setting Up for the World History Course

Throughout the year, my student follows the WH daily plans to make photocopies for Critical Thinking Using Primary Source Documents. If you have more than one student, your extra student will also need to make photocopies from Short Lessons in World History. I help with this the first time it comes up in the plans. Then, my student follows the directions to do this on his own. I also let my student know he will need a computer CD drive, a DVD player, or an MP3 compatible CD player to listen to You Are There! World History Collection. My sons enjoy using earbuds for this, as they can hear it better. I enjoy them using earbuds as well, as my other children can’t hear it and be distracted!

Setting Up for the Fine Arts: Art History/Appreciation Course

For the Fine Arts: Art History/Appreciation Course, World History’s (WH) Introduction suggests using a 1 inch 3-ring binder. The Fine Arts Notebook already comes preprinted and 3-hole punched.  So, I just slide the preprinted full color Fine Arts Notebook cover in the front of my 1 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 Fine Arts in the WH Introduction, I also plan for my student to have a DVD player to watch the lessons for God and the History of Art. Likewise, if my student is doing the 1 full credit option, I plan on him having a DVD player to watch the Art Project DVDs. My sons enjoyed using our laptop computer attachable DVD drive to do this, as they could put it on the table and do each step of their project as they watched it at the table. Finally, I look at the back of each Art Project DVD’s “Materials Needed to Complete Project” section to gather all the materials. I like to do this prior to the start of school and put them all in a tub or tote, so they are gathered and ready for my student as the projects are assigned.

Getting Ready for Bible

For Bible, students keep a prayer journal. Any bound book with lined pages can be used. We found some beautiful, inexpensive journals at Walmart. They had Scripture verses on the cover and were so lovely I bought one for myself! 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. Students also need to have a CD player to listen to their Selah: Greatest Hymn’s CD. I like to have my sons do their Bible Quiet Time in their bedrooms, first thing in the morning if possible. This helps them develop the habit of doing their Bible Quiet Time first thing each day, in a private setting that is quiet. They each have a small CD player on their nightstand.

They can also use their CD player if you are choosing for them to use the Piligrim’s Progress audio. Finally, if you have more than one student using Pilgrim’s Progress and/or if you don’t want your students to write in their hardcover Pilgrim’s Progress book, follow the plans to print assigned questions from the Student Resources for the Pilgrim’s Progress CD, as they come up in the plans. I help with this the first time, but then my sons follow the plans to do this on their own throughout the year.


Getting Ready for English II

For English II, 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.

Likewise, I make sure I photocopy 12 copies (I like a few extra) of the “Plot Diagram” from WH’s Appendix. I 3-hole punch these and keep them in my student’s binder, or put them in a folder if I didn’t choose to use a binder. 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 Health, Spanish, Biology, and Math

For Health, I get 1 bound and lined composition book for the “Chapter Review” and “Explain” portion of the WH plans. I either plan to have my students write directly on the tests or quizzes from the Total Health: Test and Quiz Master Book or have them write directly on loose-leaf paper instead. Tests and quizzes are not reproducible. For Spanish, I plan for my student to listen and practice with assigned Spanish CD tracks as scheduled in the Spanish I: Student Books. Likewise, I use the Spanish I: 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 Biology, I have a DVD player for the labs. I also let my student know that the lab sheets can be found in the middle of each activity book as a tear out section. If I have decided for my student to do some of the labs alongside watching the DVD, I gather the necessary lab materials. However, keep in mind, students can earn lab credit by simply watching the lab DVD, so there is no need to do the labs unless you prefer to do so.  For Math: Geometry, I gather whatever special materials are noted in the Geometry I chose. In general, I have on hand a compass, a protractor, a rule, a bound lined notebook that lays flat easily, and a graph paper.

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 www.transcriptmaker.com, 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 www.hslda.com.

Label Sticky Tabs to Mark Places in the WH 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 WH, then you would also want to make sticky tabs for “LITERARY SYNTHESIS,” “WORD AND IDEA HELPER SHEET,” and “DICTATION,” placing them in the WH 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 WH’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 WH, 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 WH’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

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!