How can my high school daughter earn her Fine Arts credit?

Dear Carrie

How can my high school daughter earn her Fine Arts credit?

For high school, my daughter will be doing Heart of Dakota’s Missions to Modern Marvels (MTMM), World Geography (WG), World History (WH), and U.S. History I (USI). My question is about an art/music credit. So far, the guides have all had an art or music study. We have loved this! In MTMM, we will have the nature journal. However, I don’t see any art in the WG guide, I don’t know about the WH guide either. Will my daughter be able to earn a credit in art/music in high school if she’s doing MTMM through USI? Thanks!


“Ms. Please Help My High School Daughter Earn Her Art/Music Credit”

Dear “Ms. Please Help My High School Daughter Earn Her Art/Music Credit,”

Just like you, I have been very pleased by the various areas of fine arts emphasized throughout our guides. I enjoyed the watercolor painting lessons my boys did in Creation to Christ (CTC). Then, I loved the Charlotte Mason-style picture study and art appreciation sessions in Resurrection to Reformation (RTR). Next, my boys and I enjoyed the music appreciation and composer study in Revival to Revolution (RevtoRev). After that, we loved the nature journal and related art-lessons in MTMM. We’ve happily read, written, and discussed poetry all throughout every guide from Beyond on up! To top it off, my boys have all become better drawers through the years as we’ve done Draw and Write Through History!

Making Art Appreciation a Part of the Fine Arts Credit

When we arrived at the high school years, and the Fine Arts credit loomed, it was hard to decide in what direction to go in pursuit of that credit. I must admit that with my oldest son (who didn’t have the benefit of having the HOD guides already written), I floundered a bit in how to pursue this credit in a way that would be interesting to him. So, we tried two different music- related approaches, and one was more successful than the other. Yet, as I looked at my next son coming up, I really wanted to focus more deeply on art appreciation. This made sense because he had more recently (and thoroughly) covered music and the composers already through Revival to Revolution.

Having a Hands-On Component, Narrative Readings, Picture Study, and a Christian Influence Within Our Fine Arts Credit

I also really wanted to have the Christian influence wound within our Fine Arts credit, as well as having a hands-on component to the program too. As part of the study, I wanted some living, narrative textual information about the artists along with some follow-up assessments. I desired for this to be combined with some beautiful picture study/viewing. Last, I wanted students of all levels of artistry to be able to enjoy the program and learn to appreciate art. It was a tall order, and one that I wasn’t able to succeed in finding until I wrote the World History guide. I looked a long time (years in fact) before coming to the combination of resources that I will share below. I am excited and happy with the combination, and I pray your daughter enjoys earning her Fine Arts credit in World History too!

God and the History of Art

The first resource in our Fine Arts: Art History/Appreciation course is the 3-part DVD series God and the History of Art. This DVD series is divided into 12 parts, during which Barry Stebbing journeys through the centuries offering Biblical insights into the great art and artists of the ages. This DVD set features beautiful colors, paintings, and classical music. God and the History of Art provides a unique view into many of the great works of art in Western culture. We integrate this series throughout our chronological study of art history. Lessons include the following:

  • What is Art?
  • The Second Commandment
  • Early Christian Art
  • Godly Periods of Art/Byzantine
  • Christian Artists
  • The Dark Ages/Monasteries
  • The Gothic Period
  • The Renaissance
  • The Reformation
  • French Neo-Classical Art
  • American Artist and Other Artists and Styles
Short Lessons in Art History

The next resource in our Fine Arts program is Short Lessons in Art History by Phyllis Clausen Barker. This book includes narrative biographical readings about 37 artists and/or sculptors beginning with “Artists of the Italian Renaissance” and ending with “Contemporary Sculptors.” Short Lessons in Art History brings art to life with lessons that showcase the successes and struggles of legendary artists. The readings build an appreciation for major artists and art movements from the Italian Renaissance to current times. Students are captivated by the high-interest readings on artists and the cultural and personal forces that shaped their work. A full-color insert highlights timeless works of art. Click here to see inside!

Exercises and Activities for Short Lessons in Art History

Exercises and Activities for Short Lessons in Art History is designed as a companion to Short Lessons in Art History. It includes activities that move from basic comprehension (through fill-in-the-blank, word puzzles, crosswords, and matching) to synthesis (through short answer questions) to deeper insight (through independent writing or research topics). Used in combination with the Short Lessons for Art History text, students increase their awareness of various artists and their work and draw their own conclusions about what makes the work of certain artists timeless. Note: Since the art projects within these lessons are not described or laid out very clearly, and often are overwhelming to perform without more instruction, we omit the “Art Projects” part of the activities and cover this area in a more manageable way. Click here to see inside!

Our Charlotte Mason-Inspired Art Gallery Student Notebook

As narrative as the Short Lessons in Art History text is, it does not shine in the area of full color artwork. While it would seem easy to add to a book of art prints to accompany the text, this route had many barriers. First, many of these types of full-color art print books are very expensive. Next, the prints often contain multiple images with nudity. Last, even after overlooking cost and the lack of clothing issues, many books didn’t contain prints of all of the artists the students were studying. To remedy these problems, we designed an Art Gallery Student Notebook that contains at least one full-color print for each artist. The Art Gallery Notebook is used in conjunction with the Short Lessons in Art History readings and provides a beautiful collection of paintings by famous artists throughout history. It is a very CM-inspired part of the program!

Pat Knepley’s Art Projects DVD Set

The final component of our Fine Arts program is the Art Projects DVD Set from See the Light. When I found this set, I knew the final piece of our Fine Arts program had (at long last) fallen into place! This is a 9 DVD Set of art projects designed to be completed at home. The projects on each DVD are narrated, modeled, and taught with a Christian emphasis by master artist Pat Knepley. Each DVD focuses on a different artist and a different type of art project. Projects are divided into 4 separate sessions, and Pat takes you through each step of the lesson on the DVD.

Pacing and Details About the Art Projects Portion of the Fine Arts Credit

We have students do one art project session each week, completing an art project every 4 weeks. The design of the projects makes this an art class that your students can enjoy and excel at in the comfort of your own home. We plan for sessions to last about an hour with the DVD running about 30 minutes. This allows time for students to pause and work along with Pat and take their time to be creative and do the project well. Some students may take longer to work.

Each DVD includes art history, art elements, art principles, step-by-step tutoring, and integrated Biblical truths. At the end, students have created a portfolio of 9 completed projects as part of their Fine Arts study. Artists and corresponding projects are the following (the art history style and medium are listed in parentheses):

  • Tiffany Window in the style of Louis Comfort Tiffany (Tiffany Windows: Marker)
  • Repeated Sweets in the style of Wayne Thiebaud (Pop Art: Watercolor)
  • Paper Jungle in the style Henri Rousseau (Naive Art, Collage: Paper Collage)
  • Pointillism Fruit in the style of Georges Seurat (Pointillism, Impressionism: Still Life)
  • Poppy Collage in the style of Georgia O’Keefe (Realism, Abstraction: Tissue Paper Collage)
  • Dreams of Joseph in the style of Marc Chagall (Surrealism, Symbolism, Fauvism: Wet-on-Wet Painting)
  • Horsing Around in the style of Edgar Degas (Impressionism: Chalk Pastel)
  • Peaceful Seas in the style of Winslow Homer (Realism: Mixed Media)
  • Sunflowers in the style of Vincent Van Gogh (Post-Impressionism: Oil Pastel)
Two Options for Earning Credit 

The last benefit to the Fine Arts program that I’ve outlined is that there will be two options for credit with this program. The first option (and the recommended option) will be to earn one-full credit in Fine Arts: Art History/Appreciation by using all of the resources outlined above and scheduled in our guide.

The second option will be to earn 1/2 credit in Fine Arts: Art History/Appreciation by omitting the Art Projects DVD Set. This option will utilize all of the remaining art resources outlined above, but will omit the once weekly art project session. This option is only recommended if you have already met part of your Fine Arts requirement some other way, or if your state only requires 1/2 credit in Fine Arts.


What lit path should I take for my daughter who will do World History for 11th grade?

Dear Carrie

What lit path should I take for my daughter who will do World History for 11th grade?

Next year my oldest daughter will be a junior. She’ll be using Heart of Dakota’s (HOD’s) World History. I always love your book choices! My daughter won’t finish all of the high school guides though. So, should I just follow the lit path you have laid out for World History? Or, should I take a different lit path? Since we’ve used HOD since she’s been in 5th grade, she has obviously read tons of great books. However, I don’t want to miss some of the classics that she should have. What are your thoughts on what my daughter should do for lit for her 11th grade WH year?  Thanks for your thoughts on our lit path!


“Ms. Please Help Me with a Lit Path for My Daughter’s 11th Grade Year in World History”

Dear “Ms. Please Help Me with a Lit Path for My Daughter’s 11th Grade Year in World History,”

Good question! As far as the novels for the literature portion go, I made a point to put novels I consider especially important in the opening guides of the high school program. The novels in the World Geography guide are classics that are a tremendous stepping stone to the more difficult reading and difficult themes found in the World History guide’s literature. In my opinion, many of the novels in the literature portion of the World History guide are unmatched for their quality and their themes, while still being enjoyable reading. They are memorable and timeless, lingering in the mind long after the book is completed. They have stood the test of time! Still today, they remain classics. I think they should be a part of your daughter’s lit path!

“Ben Hur,” “The Count of Monte Cristo,” and “Les Miserables” – All Important Parts of Your Daughter’s Lit Path

I felt these novels were so important that I had my oldest son read several on that list (as a senior). Why? Well, I did not want him to exit high school without experiencing those books. (I hadn’t written all of the high school guides by the time my oldest son was a senior). He read Ben-Hur, The Count of Monte Cristo, and Les Miserables (along with other novels). They were his favorite books of that year. My husband read all 3 as well, simply because our son was so enthused about them. I cannot say enough about these titles. The life lessons to be learned as students read these books, the quotable lines of the characters, the rich language, and the allusions to the Bible in these books are amazing.

“The Scarlet Pimpernel” – A Winning Part of Your Daughter’s Lit Path

My oldest son also chose to read several sequels to The Scarlet Pimpernel, simply because he loved the first one so much! My husband enjoyed The Scarlet Pimpernel too, and my older sister (who was a high school literature teacher and has homeschooled her 7 kiddos for the last 15+ years) said it was one of her favorites of all time. This makes The Scarlet Pimpernel a winner here. Our son had read the other books on the World History literature list in previous years, with the exception of Pearl Maiden, which we included because of its terrific themes and because it is a great Haggard book (much preferred by me over Haggard’s classic King Solomon’s Mines, which I did not like due to its dark violence).

“A Man for All Seasons” – An Important Classic on Your Daughter’s Lit Path

After watching the movie version of A Man for All Seasons, and having our pastor refer to it in a sermon, my husband and I discovered that play was such a picture into the time of Henry the VIII that it had to be included. What a classic I found it to be after I read it alongside the study of that time period! It brings up another side to Cranmer and Luther. This book too shows up on many classic book lists for a reason!

“King Arthur” – A Legendary Part to Include Within Your Daughter’s Lit Path

In my opinion, reading about the legend of King Arthur (even with the character of Merlin), is very important. This is because the legends of Arthur are a part of understanding medieval times, because they show Britain at a time when the Christian religion was overtaking the religion of the Celtic Druids of the past. Known for his themes of bravery, honor, and love, Howard Pyle’s Arthur and his noble traits illustrate the selflessness a king should have for his people. It was for these traits that Arthur is remembered in legend, and those legends show up in so many ways everywhere! Please note that this is the only version of the Arthurian legends that we recommend!

“Julius Caesar,” “Animal Farm,” and “The Celestial Railroad”- Each Important Parts of Your Daughter’s Lit Path

Julius Caesar is one of the “tamer” of Shakespeare’s plays (and omits the bawdy humor that is found in other Shakespeare plays). Exploring the issue of how the thirst for power affects those who desire it is a good life lesson that comes out in Julius Caesar, plus the play draws you in with the inner-workings of who is really able to be trusted as you see the conspiracy play out (and watch its aftermath).

Animal Farm is a book that really shows socialism in a way that students will never forget. It is terrific to read along with the time period of WWII, which is where we include it.

The Celestial Railroad is a wonderful book to read after reading Pilgrim’s Progress. This is because Hawthorne’s version of travel to the Celestial City has been updated to reflect modern times. Travelers no longer have to walk to the city, but can instead travel by train. Their burdens are no longer carried on their backs but instead are stowed in the luggage compartment! When Celestial Railroad is read as students are completing Pilgrim’s Progress it has a huge impact! This is the book that will end your year. As you can see, I wouldn’t want your student to miss the books on the World History literature list. I feel they are amazing classics that all students should read!


Is Bible history covered in World History?

Dear Carrie

Is Bible history covered in World History?

Is there mostly a secular historical focus in the Heart of Dakota’s World History guide? Or, is there a good amount of content on Israel and the Hebrews? My 13 year-old daughter is finishing Missions to Modern Marvels. She really feels sad that she can’t remember much about Creation to Christ (CTC) years ago. I was contemplating going back and reviewing all of this with her. Or, will she hit it again in World History? For example, she doesn’t remember much about the 12 Tribes, the destruction of the temple, their exile, etc. It wouldn’t be hard to go through each page of her CTC notebook to refresh her memory. However, it might give her peace knowing that it will come up again in a couple of years. Come to think of it, does Heart of Dakota’s World Geography cover that material at all? Thanks!


“Ms. Wondering If Bible History Is Covered in World History”

Dear “Ms. Wondering If Bible History Is Covered in World History,”

The Archaeology Book covers ancient Biblical civilizations, especially the geography of the Bible Lands, in the World Geography Guide quite well. There is also coverage of the Hebrew nation and the Twelve Tribes integrated within that. The World History Guide goes deeper into Biblical history. It definitely studies the fuller history of the Hebrew nation and the rise of Israel. Several resources focus on Old and New Testament history, albeit in the scope of a one-year tour through World History. When combined with the Old Testament Bible Survey course in the World History Guide, excellent coverage of Old Testament History is provided.

With the Biblical content in each of the guides, there is no way the high school guides could be viewed as secular.

Of course, there is also coverage of New Testament history in the World History Guide as well, with the pinnacle leading to the resurrection of Christ. Additionally, a New Testament Survey course is planned for the American History Guide the following year to more deeply study the New Testament. With the Biblical content contained in each of the guides, there is no way that either of the high school guides could be viewed as secular guides. In fact, I make a point when writing the guides to be sure that they are steeped in God’s Word and contain Biblical history as much as possible!

Together, the World Geography and the World History guides give a wonderful foundation in the geography and history of the Bible.

I share this to give you a fuller picture of what is ahead, and pray that your child will be as richly blessed by the upcoming guides as our own boys have – and are being blessed. You can easily wait to cover the areas you mentioned once you get to the World Geography and World History Guide if desired. Together, the high school guides give a wonderful foundation in the geography and history of the Bible. I agree that these topics are too important to be missed, or to be passed over lightly! That is why they come around again and are given a deeper look as the kiddos get older! This was a great question to ask! Thank you for asking it!



Follow-Up Response from “Ms. Wondering If Bible History Is Covered in World History”

Thank you for your response! This really helps me in thinking through our next few years! It gives me a peace about covering this important time once again. I think I might have learned (and retained) more than my daughter with our first pass through Ancients, since she was so young. I am thankful and excited to spend more time in that period of history! Since the high school guide is written for high school credit, I was a little concerned that the history might have more of a secular slant. Thank you for working so hard to intertwine secular with Biblical history throughout high school!


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!