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North Star Geography Online Course

One of the best programs that we used last year was North Star Geography. We were just venturing into the world of homeschooling high school and hands-down it was Laurianna’s favorite class of the year. This wonderful class is now available as an online class as well, so if you have a child that needs to earn a high school geography credit, you can take advantage of this new format!

North Star Geography Online Course


Course Content

North Star Geography is a one-year class that offers a full high school credit upon completion. It’s more than just maps and remembering where places in the world are, but looks at how geography impacts us every day. The 16 lessons include:

  • Downloadable lessons in ebook format – students can read the lessons, and an audiobook version of the Student Reader is also included.
  • Hands-on activities and projects (this was one of our favorite parts) – each lesson has various ideas and activities to go-along with the learning. Choose what projects you would like to complete.
  • Map work, memorization, and research questions (don’t worry – they have the answers too!). We created an atlas with all of reference maps created over the course of the year.
  • Notetaking pages & graphic organizers – all the visual organizers and help you need is included in the program

    Online Course Benefits

    While the format of the physical version is wonderful, there are some added benefits to using the online course:

    • Learn at your own pace – although there is a suggested schedule for the class, you are free to work through the class at your own pace.
    • Tests and quizzes are graded for you – yes, please. It’s one less thing you have to do. Amen.
    • Support from the author – Tyler Hogan is available if you get stuck and need help. Consider him your personal helpline.
    • Immediate feedback – as soon as you take the quizzes and tests, you’ll know the results!

    If thinking of teaching a high school class scares you, the online version of North Star Geography is a wonderful way to put those fears to rest. We used the physical version of the program last year and cannot recommend it highly enough. Hands down, it is a class that your kids (and you) will enjoy because it is extremely organized and well thought out (which makes a mom like me very happy). There truly is a little something for children with different learning styles as well, from hands-on projects to auditory learners.

    Find out more HERE.

    North Star Geography Online Course

    Middle and High School Planner Printables for Homeschool

    Middle and high school planning printables

    Now I don’t know about you, but despite my best intentions, I seem to always forget something that has already been purchased, curriculum ideas for upcoming years, or what may already be on our bookshelves to use for our younger children. Sticky notes and random sheets of paper just don’t cut it, so the Middle and High School Planner pages were put together to make life a little easier for myself overall. (And let’s face it, these are a lot prettier than the random sheets of notebook paper that were accumulating in my binder).

    I’m printing off a copy for each of our children and it gives me a central location to jot down notes, ideas, and what we’re doing as we go along. Overall, there are sixteen pages in the Middle and High School Planner pages (plus one that you don’t have to print at the end), and two different versions – a blue/green color-themed set and a rainbow color-themed set. Laurianna saw me working on them and said she thought hers should have more color, so I had to readjust them. (grins)

    If you’d like to see what we’ve been planning for homeschool high school so far, don’t miss our Homeschool High School Plan post that was shared earlier. In addition to walking through our overall plans I share how overwhelmed I was to begin with and some tips on laying the foundation for the upcoming years. There is also a link to a simple overview printable that you may prefer to this more in-depth one.

    A Quick Look & Overview Planning

    Overview planning pages for middle and high school

    Use the first two pages to plan out subjects and curriculum for each year. In the left side column there is room to track the subjects and then plan out what you will use from 6th grade through 12th grade. Be sure to keep track of what you already have on hand – and don’t need to purchase!

    High School Outline, Requirements, and Schedules

    high school daily schedule and requirements

    This section allows you to plug in all the information that your state may require for graduation, AP placement, decide your grading scale, and brainstorm elective ideas for your child. There is also a sheet that can be printed off yearly to create a weekly schedule for your child.

    Tracking High School Credits

    credit and class tracking for high school

    Keep track of the credits your child is earning, books read, extra curricular activities and other important information you might need for high school transcripts. There are five pages for this section: one for early credits (prior to 9th grade if your state allows it) and four pages, one for each year of high school.

    Course Descriptions

    Early and high school course description tracking

    This section allows you write a short course description of each class that your child takes for credit (may come in handy for college admission later).

    –> Download the Middle School and High School Class Planning (blue/green)  <–

    –> Download the Middle and High School Planning Pages (rainbow)  <–

    Questions about Homeschooling in High School?

    Homeschooling in High School

    There’s nothing that can strike fear in the heart of a veteran homeschooling parent like the thought of homeschooling high school. Despite what may be years of successful homeschooling, thinking of high school can bring all the fears and doubts of the early years resurging in a homeschool parent’s heart. Read the post Homeschooling in High School for tips and resources from a veteran homeschool mom who has homeschooled and graduated a high schooler.

    Have a Student in Need of Organization Help?


    If you have a child in middle or high school that needs some organizational help, be sure to check out our Weekly Student Planner! The planner is undated and can be used year after year and has plenty of room for writing down daily assignments, goals, and accomplishments. Learn more HERE.

    If you would like to share, please share a link to my blog or to the page that hosts these files. Please do not link directly to just the PDF files, but directly to this post. Please feel free to print this pdf file for your own personal use. They were created for private and non-profit use. Please do not sell or host these files anywhere else.



    Our 9th Grade Homeschool Reading List

    9th grade reading list

    While our daughter is actually in the 8th grade, the literature class she is taking is for high school credit. So – I’m not sure if you would term this our 8th or 9th grade reading list (grins). Many of the books on Laurianna’s reading list include ones that are a part of her literature class, but there are also a few added we’d really like for her to read because they go along with the era of history that we’re studying (early America to modern times) or we want her to read a book before seeing the movie (The Hobbit). The typical pace is at least one book per month for her lit class, and another one when that book is finished.

    Remember, this list doesn’t include any the books that she decides to read over the course of the year just for fun. She has her eye on a few books and definitely takes advantage of our library system! Keeping up with our 8th’s graders voracious reading can be difficult. She is constantly borrowing books from the library or friends, but not all of them are ones that we would call ‘school worthy’. This also doesn’t include the list of family read alouds for the year – and we’ve already worked on a few of those!

    A peek at her reading list for the year:

    A Few Extras on the List for 8th Grade:

    Since many of the books also have a video version, we’re hoping to watch them together (after we read the books, of course) and compare the book to the movie version. It’ll be a little something fun we can do together.

    Overall not a huge list for the year, but several of the books are fairly hefty and will involve a lot of essay writing and discussion, so definitely enough to keep her busy for the year!

    What books are in your kid’s reading stack for this year?

    Homeschool Reading Lists for our Other Children

    Interested in seeing reading lists for our other kids as well? Check out our reading choices for this year by clicking on the images below. Stay tuned for our 2nd grade reading choices!

    6th grade homeschool reading list

    4th grade homeschool reading list

    The First Six Weeks for Our 8th Grader

    Laurianna is working on her 8th grade homeschool year this year, which has meant a larger workload for her, especially as she is working on six high school credits in addition to a few other subjects. Over the past six weeks it has been so incredibly amazing to watch her step up and take on the workload (with hardly a complaint other than typical teen emotions at times).

    This has really been such a new area for us both. Remember preschool and early childhood are my specialties and where much of my focus has been for many, many years. Making the switch to actual brain work has been – umm…interesting at times! (But it’s all good!)

    Here’s a peek at what Laurianna has been working on. For high school credit she is working on Algebra 1 (1 credit), Geography (I credit), Spanish (1 credit), Literature (1 credit), Physical Science (1 credit), Greek Mythology (1/2 credit), and an extra science class (1/2 credit). You can get a peek at our overall high school plan here.

    Here are a few highlights of the last six weeks…

    North Star Geography

    North Star Geography Experiments

    Geography has been one of Laurianna’s favorite ‘new’ subjects this year. We’re using North Star Geography, a new program from Bright Ideas Press, and she has been LOVING it. She literally has some new little tidbit she is telling me about daily, between her country fact sheets, what she is learning in her mapping time, or as a part of the hands-on projects.

    Email subscriber can click here to watch the video clip.

    The hands-on activities are probably her favorite part of the lessons (see the above project), and although it is one of her more intense classes, it is FUN. To me that speaks volumes alone! She’s also been pulling out our GeoPuzzles to work on and help her remember the various country placements.

    Not only do I love hearing about all that she is learning, but I recently discovered the Excel spreadsheet grading sheet Bright Ideas Press provides as a part of the program and am 100% in love with that. With all the lovely quizzes and mapping projects, my life just got a lot easier (and my brain has to think a whole lot less!). Amen.

    Physical Science

    Glider from Everday Exploration

    Even though she does most of the work during the week, Laurianna meets with a small group of homeschoolers (four total) to review the labs and other work in her physical science class. Everyone in the house has enjoyed watching her glider progress over the last few weeks as well. It’s a little bigger than we expected – but oh so fun! Keeping two certain boys away from it has been difficult!

    Literature and Writing

    All of her other classes have been going along well too, including her Lit class (another one we are working on as a small co-op). One thing that I have to say – I am SO very thankful for our using WriteShop 1 & 2 the last two years with Laurianna. That program gave her such a great headstart in becoming a great writer – which shows in her literature papers.

    And there have been a lot of papers – even with only four kids. Enough that as the teacher I am remembering one of the main reasons I did not pursue that last semester of my English education degree. (grins)

    The kids are taking it all in stride and very excited because many of the books and short stories we are reading this year are also movies, so we get to spend time together comparing the book to the movie as well. It’s the little things that make life fun, right? Personally, I can’t wait for the boys to sit through Jane Eyre (hee hee).

    Saxon Algebra 1

    And Algebra 1 – our switch to Saxon was mainly because a friend of Laurianna’s was using it, so she wanted to as well. Despite her misgivings about Algebra and her belief that it wouldn’t click with her, she doing great, and I’m remembering how much I absolutely love this realm of math (no, seriously I do!).

    In other subjects (Greek Mythology, History, Spanish, etc…) she is working along and doing great! That pretty much wraps up our first six weeks of school for 8th grade. How are your middle and high school adventures going?

    Homeschooling the Middle & High School Years

    Mapping Out the Homeschool High School Plan

    Homeschool High School Class Planning

    The last few weeks (oh who am I kidding? MONTHS!!) have been filled with perusing curriculum, thinking about high school credits, electives, checking state requirements, and all the fun that goes along with planning for homeschool high school.

    It may be a wee bit overwhelming at times.

    Part of me is trying to balance the fact that GOOD GRIEF, MY BABY IS OLD ENOUGH FOR HIGH SCHOOL and the responsibility of providing a solid education. All that ‘pressure’ that I originally felt when we started to homeschool oh-so-many-years ago has been multiplied exponentially.

    Keeping it real here.

    Or maybe this is just me – I realize that is entirely possible. That said, a few deep breaths, a few friends that are walking the same road with me, and lots of prayer – and slowly a plan is beginning to emerge and take shape.

    Laying out the Framework

    Homeschooling in High School

    If you haven’t already read it, the post Homeschooling in High School by Kris from Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers will be a huge help to you. Over the last bit, I’ve been reviewing several of the key suggestions she made, including;

    • use the 8th grade as a trial run
    • start keeping transcripts now
    • look at college admissions to guide your coursework (our oldest already has a college in mind)
    • remember his/her interests
    • consider a co-op

    Using all of the above, another mom and I had a mini pow-wow of sorts where we bounced ideas off each other and came up with a basic framework for the next five years. We looked at the requirements that our state has for a basic and advanced diploma, took notes, and then began mapping out the courses.

    Don’t Forget Local and State Requirements

    In our state, students can begin earning high school credits in grade 8, so the four year plan became a 5 year plan. Truthfully, this works out great, because it gives us a little bit of a buffer and also the option for some dual credit earning (the ability to take college classes and earn both high school credit and college credits when eligible).

    Your state also may have limits on how many credits can be earned prior to the 9th grade year, so be sure to check on that before planning too much the 8th grade year. A great starting point is visiting HSLDA.org.

    The Tentative Plan (for now…)

    Based on our local county guidelines, we’re shooting for an advanced diploma. For us, this means fewer ‘electives’ and more of a focus on science (4 years), language/lit (4 years), math (4 years), history (4 years), foreign languages (3 years) and other key subjects too.

    We’re starting early (8th grade). Next year will officially be her 8th grade year, but our oldest will be working on credits toward high school including math, language, foreign language, world geography, and science. An elective or two may be thrown in there as well, but it will depend on her course load and double checking on what the state allows.

    Several of our classes will be done together with some other families in a small co-op setting. Right now we’re planning on our literature class and possibly science or some fun electives together.

    After talking with our oldest, we’re put together a few ideas for electives and classes that are tailored to her interests: art (drawing or pottery), a Greek mythology course (for 1/2 credit), and a few other ideas are spinning. We don’t want to forget the fun things! Need help determining credits? Check out this article from HSLDA.

    Transcripts are being formatted now. Rather than waiting, I’m trying to come up with something that makes sense for my brain now. Based on the grading system for the school and such, I’m keeping track of the credits that are being earned and staying on top of it all as we go along.

    We’re keeping the end in sight. Laurianna already has a college in mind (she may be a wee bit of a planner…). We’ve picked up some brochures and started looking at dual enrollment classes for her junior and senior year and what classes will (or won’t) transfer in so we have a good idea on what to expect as she progresses each year. It may seem a bit early, but having an idea has been really helpful.

    A Peek at Our Plans

    All that said, do you want a peek at our tentative plans? Keep in mind this is NOT set in cement – it’s just to give us an overview and something to base things on. There is plenty of wiggle room allowed – we may move a few of the classes around in the upcoming months.

    High School Class Planning

    click on the image to view a larger copy

    If you’d like, you can download a blank copy of the High School Planning form to work on your own high school planning. It’s nothing fancy – but hopefully will help you out!

    I’m curious – what electives and FUN things are you hoping to build into your child’s high school years? And how much do your state/local guidelines play into your plans? (Ideas are always welcome!)

    Middle and High School Planning Pages

    Middle and high school planning printables

    If you’d like to get a little more detailed, be sure to check out the middle and high school planning pages as well. This set includes credit and class tracking pages, as well as high school requirements for graduation – and more.

    Homeschooling the Middle & High School Years