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April 2011

Heart of the Matter

Staff . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 4 Puddle Jumping . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 6 Don’t Fear the High School Years . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 9 No Panic High School Math . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 10 Visual Latin: The Best Video Latin Curriculum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 12 Co-Ops: The Inside Scoop . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 14 Common Sense Solutions: Preserving Your Uniqueness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 20 Amazing Cinnamon Rolls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 22 Homeschool Spring Cleaning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 24 The Beauty of Pastels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 26 Metaphor Emerging: Learn Pysanky . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 30 Crazy Cartoons: Unit Study . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 32 How Does a Fluorescent Light bulb Work?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 38 Smart Kids Who Hate to Write . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 40 Five Cup Cake . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 43 A Novel Idea: Discover the Lifelong Benefits of Living Books . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 44 What Makes Things Float? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 48 Techniques for the Right-Brained Learner . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 50 Navigation: A Unit Study . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 52 With Patience & Care: Using Charlotte Mason Education with Special Needs . . . . . . Page 56 Butterfly: Color and Pattern . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 60 Contributors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 65

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Angela DeRossett: Owner,

Editor ditor--in in--Chief

Angela is a fun-loving, married to the military, homeschooling mother of four. She has four cats and a great big dog and loves her very full house. She is currently pursuing a Master’s in Christian Education and holds a Bachelor’s of Arts and Science in Christian Ministries. Angela is a coffee and theology junkie and is passionate about Autism advocacy and disability rights. You can find her blogging at Memoirs of a Chaotic Mommy and Home-schooling the Chaotic Mommy.

Amy Stults: Conference

Director, Development Consultant

Amy is a devoted wife to her husband of 12 years, a Classical homeschooling mom to an eight-year-old Ninja and the co-founder of Heart of the Matter. As a professional genealogist, Amy has a passion for helping others trace their family roots. Amy was a partner in founding the ministries A Woman Inspired Conferences, and Inspired Hearts Media.

Robin Montoya: Digital

Magazine Designer

Robin and her family relocated from California to Colorado in 2008. With her new Rocky Mountain backdrop, she continued the mission she began in 1996 to educate her children at home. After homeschooling traditionally for more than a decade, she stepped outside of her comfort zone and began to try alternative methods for teaching. In and effort to share what she had learned through her homeschooling endeavors, she launched her website, Stone Soup Homeschool Network.

Laura Delgad: Digital

Magazine Copy Editor and Writer

Laura has been married to her husband, Henry, for 14 years. She gave birth to four children in exactly 40 months, but cheated since the last two were twins. She now happily homeschools her 8, 6, and two 4 year-olds. She earned a Ph.D. in Political Science from Rice University, but finds that she uses her undergraduate Great Books education far more in her homeschooling pursuits. In addition to writing for various homeschooling publications, she creates educational materials for edHelper. For homeschooling helps and curriculum reviews, please visit her blogs at Living as Martha & Salve Regina Homeschool.

Pamela Swearingen: Director

of Reviews

Happily homeschooling in the beautiful Pacific Northwest for several years now. Pamela's kids are transitioning into middle school, and the lessons in their homeschool (and in life) are getting very exciting! Books, unit studies, notebooks, and nature journals are all part of their homeschooling week. She truly feels that God has blessed her family with the opportunity to homeschool and her goal is to inspire other families to homeschool greatness by pointing them in the direction of some really great books, resources and field trip ideas. Her homeschool reviews and suggestions can be found at Mustard Seed Homeschool. Her non-homeschooling reviews are on Mustard Seed Book Reviews.

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Photo: Stock.XCHNG

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By Katie Kubesh

Hands of a Child April showers bring May flowers...and mud puddles. What child can resist a good old fashioned splash in a springtime mud puddle? Much to a mother's dismay, however, puddle jumping can lead to wet, muddy clothes and shoes, which often end up on clean floors! When mud puddles spring up this rainy season, put down the mop (for just a bit) and see what else puddle jumping can lead to! Puddles are not only a source of footsplashing fun, they attract small wildlife, are fun to conduct experiments with, fun to measure, fun to float things in, and great for making pies! This spring, encourage your puddle jumper(s) to explore the physical properties of mud puddles through hands-on (and sometimes feet-on) activities.

Filtering the Mud Not all mud puddles are created equal! Some are muddier than others, offering young scientists a great opportunity for testing water filters. For this experiment you simply need a couple of jars or other clear con-tainers, a variety of filters such as a coffee filter, paper towel, fabric, aquarium filter, etc, and some muddy water. Have your puddle jumper collect some muddy water in a jar. Observe how the water looks in the jar. Is the water clear or cloudy? Is there any debris such as P. 6

dirt, leaves, or even insects in the water? Next, pour some of the water through one of the filters, into a clean jar. Observe how the water looks after it has gone through the filter. Empty the jar and repeat the process with other filters to determine which one works best. A great follow-up to this activity is to visit a city water treatment plant!

Measuring Evaporation The next time puddles pool up in your neighborhood, get out a measuring tape, chalk, paper, and pencil- it's time to measure! With the measuring tape, have your puddle jumper measure the length and width of the puddle and record the measurements. Next, use the chalk to draw around the outer edge of the puddle. Wait one day and measure the puddle again. If you had a warm, sunny day chances are the puddle's measurements will be smaller on the second day. Discuss why the puddle is smaller and where the water went. This is a great activity for watching evaporation in action!

Measuring Mudding Footprints Keep that measuring tape out; mud puddles bring muddy footprints, so why not measure them? After your puddle jumper has had some splash time, encourage him or her to

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Heart of the Matter

make some muddy footprints on a dry side- be sure to have clean hands) and they will be walk, an old sheet or towel, paper, or even the ready when you are done exploring! kitchen floor - if you don't mind cleaning it up afterwards! Measure the length and width of Mud Pie Cookies the footprints in inches, centimeters, and any Ingredients: other units of measurement you can think 1 1/4 c. sugar of. Discuss how many feet you would need to make a yard, meter, etc. 1/4 c. butter


1/2 c. milk

Puddle Jumping Sounds

Drop rounded spoonfuls on waxed paper.

3 c. quick cooking oats Ever wonder who tracked in the mud? Here's 1/2 peanut butter your chance to do a little detective work! After 1/4 c. baking cocoa a rainy day, explore outside to find some footprints in the mud (or make your own footTo Make: prints). Mix some plaster of Paris according to Combine sugar, butter, & milk in a large the directions on the box and pour the liquid sauce pan. plaster into the footprint. Let harden. When the plaster has hardened, lift it out of the footCook over medium heat, stirring until mixprint. You have created a mold of a footture boils. print! Try this activity with more than one Remove from heat. footprint and encourage your puddle jumper to Add oats, peanut butter, and baking cocoa. find out who (or what) the footprint belongs to! Mix well.

In the mood for a little mud puddle music? Wearing rubber boots, have your puddle jumper walk through different types of mud puddles and compare the sounds they make. Ask your puddle jumper to listen carefully! Does a watery mud puddle make the same sound as a mucky one does? What kinds of sounds do you hear when the boots get stuck? What kinds of music can you make in the mud?

Cool for 15-20 minutes. Refrigerate until firm.

Mud Puddle Reading

Mud Pies

Enjoy your cookies with a few good books including The Piggy in the Puddle by Charlotte Pomerantz, Mud Puddle by Robert N. Munsch, The Mud Puddle Gang by Tyfanny Mosso, and My Mud Puddle Ran Away by Valerie Mazza or encourage your puddle jumper to create a story or poem about his or her own mud puddle adventures.

Before you mop that kitchen floor, how about making some delicious mud pie cookies? Some may prefer to make the cookies before heading out for some puddle jumping (that way you'll

Head out this spring and explore the mud puddles around your neighborhood; you just might discover there is more to them than just wet, muddy footprints on your clean floor!

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By Marie-Claire Moreau Somewhere around 7th grade is when homeschooling moms and dads usually start to think about the high school years. Though many parents anticipate high school with enthusiasm, others worry they might spoil their child’s chances of entering college, winning scholarships, or having a great career if they don’t teach high school just right. In the early days of homeschooling, this might have been a little easier to understand. When homeschooling was still young, sometimes parents worried about teaching advanced coursework and meeting statewide requirements. In fact, high school was often a time when parents would enroll teens into school thinking they would increase the chances of success.

programs as well as colleges have become exceedingly homeschooler-friendly, making it simple for homeschoolers to participate and easily succeed. As high school homeschooling has evolved, so has the role of parents in the process. Rather than being the primary teacher as parents are in earlier grades, high school signals a time when parents take on a more supervisory role. While coursework is obviously very important in high school, moms and dads become much more coordinators of the homeschooling program and record -keepers of the experiences c o m p l e te d during those years. Tracking hours and credits and ultimately producing a collegeready transcript falls upon the parents of high schoolers; thus, while a parent’s actual teaching duties may decrease, the administrative role during high school greatly increases.

Today, this couldn’t be any further from the truth. With so many extraordinary resources available to modern families, perhaps the most difficult thing about teaching high school now is choosing from all Parents approaching the high school years can of the different options for teens to learn take heart in knowing that homeschooling families from coast to coast are now graduating upper level material. Modern homeschoolers have much to choose high schoolers in huge numbers, and that these from when teaching high school today. In graduates are exceedingly well prepared to addition to traditional courses taught out of take on the challenges of college, work, and textbooks or from homeschool curriculum, beyond. In fact, homeschool research has teens also have access to online programs, shown that homeschooled graduates do better virtual options, computer software, part-time and last longer in college than other students – enrollment in schools and colleges, free or a testament to the fact that it really works. discounted tuition at technical schools, and so So, to all of the moms and dads of much more. Parents no longer need to teach homeschooled teens, “Don’t fear the high all the subjects themselves. Plus, high school school years!”

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I love math, but don’t be intimidated. I have felt like a failure teaching my fair share of high school level classes. Literary analysis was a bomb, and art was FAR too messy for me to tolerate. I feel woefully inadequate when I hear about wonderful Socratic dialog, nature studies, and hands-on history projects. We all have our strengths and weaknesses.

By Lee Binz Parents would love to know where to purchase the best math curriculum. But it’s not about what’s fabulous. It’s about what fits. The best curriculum is the one that fits your child. It doesn’t matter if the math program is the highest rated by all reviewers if it doesn’t match your child. If your child uses a program and it’s a good fit, they will probably learn more than if it’s the top rated curriculum that they hate.

Even with math, things were not always easy. In high school, I finally hit the wall. From the time they reached Algebra 2, I was The math program that best prepares your incapable of teaching my children math. child best is the program that helps them It’s OK if you feel overwhelmed with math. learn the most. You know what? You don’t have to know it. You don’t have to study it. You don’t have to teach it. You just need to make sure your children learn it. As children get older, it’s not just about the The key is choosing curriculum intended for parent’s teaching style and the child’s a homeschool parent. Homeschool learning style. When they become curriculum assumes you know nothing teenagers, you have to add a third about the subject. School curriculum dimension: the student’s preference. assumes you are a teacher familiar with the Teens can have some issues that may subject. When shopping, look for curriculum with interfere with a curriculum, even though it video tutorials that provide complete seems like a logical choice, and we may not explanations for you. Look for support so always know what that preference is. That’s your child can call a toll free number and why it’s important to seek input from your speak to a live person when they have child – especially in math, and especially if they don’t like math. questions.

Teenage Whimsy

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Compare Side By Side

The key to choosing a high school math program is recognizing that your preferences and learning style may not be the same as your The strategy is simple. Find every standard teen’s. They may learn differently and require homeschool math program you can find at high a different program than you would choose for school level. Find their website, and locate the yourself. sample video tutorial. Open each tutorial to Teenagers will sometimes have pet peeves and the same level, for example, “Algebra 1.” Then personality quirks that interfere with different compare them, compare them with your child, textbooks and videos. A teen may be so and allow your child to give feedback. To us annoyed by a person on a video tutorial that it the differences may not matter, but to the distracts them from learning. What if they teenager it might. Here is a blog post where I don’t like the teacher’s accent? Or they can’t have done all the research for you: High stand learning from a white board? What if School Math—Choosing Curriculum. the imitation classroom setting drives them crazy? The problem with teenagers is that you have to match their learning style AND their For these reasons, I suggest that parents give their children choices in math. Choose some preferences. Our learning style as the parent math curricula that are acceptable to you. becomes less important as we become less They should have equally good, but different, involved in teaching. We may know their math tutorials. Now here is the hard part. learning style, but only the teens really know Allow the teen to decide. Sometimes simply their preferences. Consider having them look the choosing will provide “ownership.” They at another curriculum if they get stuck or may (hopefully) be less likely to complain frustrated or say they “hate” math. Beware, though, that all of your children may end up when they have chosen it for themselves. liking a different curriculum. My son Kevin stunned me when he chose Saxon Math. I hated the way Saxon looked. I I know that homeschoolers feel very concerned wanted photos, pictures, and graphic about upper level math. How much harder illustrations in a math book. But my son loves would it be if you were a NON homeschooling numbers. He liked Saxon because it had so parent? Imagine trying to help your child with many problems on each page, with no pictures homework when you didn’t choose the book, getting in the way. I was shocked! I never haven’t seen it all year, don’t have a video or thought that Saxon would be a fit for my an 800 number to call. What a nightmare! I family. Until I was desperate, it didn’t even sometimes hear my public school friends occur to me that Saxon was an option. But moaning about their difficulties with math when given the choice, he chose Saxon. He homework. They don’t have the support loved it so much that he went into engineering systems that we have! and continued studying math. Remember, it is about how your STUDENT will learn best. Granted, you may not be able to force your child into LOVING math. But you can prevent them from HATING math! The key is making the curriculum fit the child. Heart of the Matter

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Pamela Swearingen

Visual Latin is a combination of short videos and exercises that work together to teach your children (or you) Latin. The curriculum is designed so that it requires no knowledge of Latin either by the student or the parent administering the class. Basically, you can just hit play and start learning. Each Latin lesson contains exercises in grammar, reading and sentences. This program is self-paced, so you can work through it as quickly or slowly as you need. It's portable , so you can do lessons anywhere and if you miss anything, you can just re-watch the video. Visual Latin is taught by Dwane Thomas, who was raised by a pack of wild Latin teachers near the Rubicon. Dwane has been teaching and telling jokes in Latin for 15 years." Forget everything you’ve heard about teaching Latin in your homeschool. Visual Latin is here with a casual approach to Latin that is simple, educational and fun. P. 12

Visual Latin is a well-organized series of selfpaced videos designed to introduce students to Latin vocabulary and grammar. Visual Latin utilizes an easy to understand format that consists of three segments within each lesson. A typical Visual Latin lesson consists of three parts: 1. Video of Grammar (intro of concept), then complete a worksheet 2. Video of Sentences (putting new concept into sentences), then complete a worksheet 3. Video of Reading (listening comprehendsion as Mr. Thomas reads from the Bible) then complete a worksheet Each of the three videos within the lessons are approximately 5-9 minutes long and answers are supplied with the worksheets. An entire lesson should take approximately 45 minutes to complete the video sequence and the worksheets, but Visual Latin is selfpaced, allowing students to view videos or complete the worksheets again if necessary.

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Click Here for a Visual Latin Demo Visual Latin is taught by Dwane Thomas, a Latin teacher with 15 years of experience. Mr. Thomas is an excellent and patient teacher who occasionally infuses his serious Latin lessons with light-hearted jokes and puns. My family found it charming, engaging and definitely NOT boring.

For years homeschoolers have embraced Latin studies to improve English grammar, build vocabulary and ultimately help improve SAT scores. With this in mind, when this school year started my family invested in one of the popular (and more expensive) Latin curriculum products available on the market. The lessons of the traditional curriculum have been thorough, albeit dry and complicated. Once Visual Latin arrived in our home, we have not looked at the traditional curriculum even once. Honestly, my kids ASK to do their Latin lessons now, using Visual Latin! Casual, accessible, not intimidating. Can you say that about your Latin experience?

At times Mr. Thomas does make mistakes with translations and such, both as he is speaking and on the chalkboard. Recorded as a “live� session, these mistakes are not edited out and Mr. Thomas corrects himself as he goes along. It can be a bit distracting, however the errors really just add to the overall casual feel of Visual Latin.

For more information, please visit:

Recommended for ages 9 and up, currently the first 20 lessons are available on two DVDs or to purchase as downloads from the website for $25.00 each. Ultimately, Visual Latin does plan to produce 80 lessons. It is recommended 20 lessons per semester, which works out to 2 lessons per week for 10 weeks. Once 80 lessons are completed, a student would have 2 years of Latin instruction.

A free introductory lesson is also available at

Heart of the Matter Topics covered in the first 30 lessons are available on the website at: Visual-Latin I received Lessons 1-10 complimentary from Visual Latin in exchange for an honest review, but the opinion is all mine. We love Visual Latin and will definitely be purchasing more lessons in the future!

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By Maggie Hogan

What Are Co-ops?

I’ve been involved in co-ops since my first day homeschooling back in 1991. They take time and preparation. Sometimes they are Are they a dumping ground for moms too inconvenient or downright aggravating. Why busy to teach their children, or are they a blessing to moms wanting innovative ideas did I stick with them throughout my entire and weekly interaction with others? What homeschool career? Because they have been makes a successful co-op? This article such a blessing to us. Some of my boys’ favorite memories involve co-op activities. addresses: Mine, too! However, a group that works well Different types of co-ops together and provides motivation and a positive learning environment doesn’t Benefits and disadvantages happen by chance. Someone needs to Starting one organize it. Someone needs to have a vision and a plan. And someone needs to really, and I mean really, COMMUNICATE!

Pitfalls to Avoid P. 14

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Important Issues to Decide There are many types of co-ops. Some decisions need to be made right away. For example: Academic or Enrichment? Meeting Monthly or Weekly? Who teaches? Fees or Free? By grade, age, or other criteria? Planning - who’s in charge? An individual, a team, or a committee? Are the teachers paid? How are supplies handled? (Trust me, there are always supplies needed!) If money is involved, who collects it and distributes it? (Must be above reproach, efficient, and communicative!) This can get quite complicated. Work it out ahead of time.

Communication is the Key! Define co-op. Not surprisingly, it may mean something different to your best friend than it means to you. Make sure everyone involved is on the same page. Since co-op stands for “cooperative”, the assumption is that a co-op is a group where everyone involved cooperates with one another to make something happen. That sounds lovely but the reality is a committee is not the most effective means for running co-ops. I prefer when starting a co-op either to go it alone or to involve just one or two close friends with whom I already know I work well. After it is planned and organized I then invite other people who buy into our vision to join us.

Heart of the Matter

Who chooses teachers? Who chooses curriculum? Homework or no homework? If all parents teach - who decides who teaches what? Who writes letters/communicates with parents? Who substitutes for a teacher who can’t make it? Who sets-up and who cleans-up? Who resolves disagreements amongst teachers? Where will you meet? (See chart on the next page for comments.) Continued on the next page...

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Cozy, convenient, and free.

Classroom space, tables, chairs, neutral territory, gym or kitchen space may be available.


Wear & tear on house, sick kids, lack of privacy, ground rules important.

Church relations may be strained. How do you pay? What about damages? Clean-up & contact people are vital!

Consider Your Students:

Children learn traditional manners (raising hands, etc.). Sharing the teaching load.

How many should you have? Will they get along? What about age ranges? Do they have similar learning abilities? If not, how do you compensate teachers, helpers, hosts for their time?

Consider your parents: Compatible worldviews?

Compatible educational philosophies? Working towards the same co co--op goals? Wow! There is so much to think about. But lest you get discouraged let me offer this list that several of us compiled showing some of the reasons we co co--op.

Benefits to Co Co--Oping: Structure. Accountability. Carefully chosen group interaction (aka socialization!). Children learn to learn under different teaching styles. Children learn to cooperate with children outside their family. P. 16


A support group for moms. For older students, it provides a great discussion group for literature and creative writing. Sense of identity or belonging. Can be more fun and exciting to do projects and activities in a larger group setting. A little competition is beneficial for some students. It may help them to try harder or do their best work when they know others will see it. May provide a sense of stability during tough family times: chronic illness in family, difficult pregnancy, move, job loss, etc. Teachers may work harder to prepare lessons because of teaching to a group. May bring out the best in teachers. May provide the motivation to keep on going. Helpful when a student truly desires to “go to school.� A co-op can be a useful compromise. Great for high school: teaching labs, languages, and having in-depth discussions in literature, government, etc.

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Disadvantages of Co-Oping Unrealistic or unmet expectations. (I want more . . . I want less . . . .I want . . .) Parents surrender control of certain subjects to someone else. May not like other teacher’s choice of materials or teaching style. Children are influenced by other children. Socialization again! Dealing with the discipline of others’ children. Very touchy! Integrating students who do not interact well with others. When money is involved problems may arise. Guidelines should be written down and observed. Sacrifice of time: preparation time and coop day itself. (It always takes more time than I think!) Some teachers work harder than others which may lead to resentment. Weekly time commitment to be out of your home as well as preparing for class and correcting papers. Feels too much like trying to reinvent “school.”

Heart of the Matter

Letter From a Friend My friend Beth had organized an elementary level co-op for several years. Her kids went into high school, they moved, and her husband changed jobs. They enrolled their children into a private Christian school. I asked her to reflect on her years of co-oping. This is what she wrote me: "Dear Maggie, You asked what I would do the same or do differently in regards to co-ops if I were starting over. Five things I would do again: Insist that all those who have their children in the co-op work, whether teaching, babysitting, or bookkeeping. Limit the number of children to 10 in each class. Only have children participate that are "referred" by someone I trust. Not have it in anyone's home. A neutral place was better for us. Have one person or a small group of people in charge of the curriculum. Too many cooks spoil the broth!

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Advice from my friend Betsy 12 Steps to Co-op Planning Don’t do it because you want the easy way out. Don’t do it out of peer pressure (from your friends or your kids’ friends!). Don’t do it because of a lack of confidence. Do it when you know it is the right thing for you and your children.

Tips for a Successful Co-op Pray. Plan. Organize. Communicate.

Choose teachers wisely. Just because someone is both willing and knowledgeable doesn’t mean they will be good teachers. Questions to consider concerning teachers: Do they like kids and have a good rapport with them? Do they communicate effectively with both kids and parents? Will they follow through? Are they organized enough to do a good job? Do they handle conflicts in a Biblical fashion? Are they knowledgeable (or at least teachable) in the field they will be instructing? Be discerning in your choice of a “treasurer” to handle all the finances. Take personalities into account (both kids and parents). Expect the best but plan for the worst. P. 18

Pray. Decide your goals What kind of co-op will meet those goals? Whom would you like to involve? Who’s in charge? Make plans. Call meetings. A. Organizational: Brainstorm. Flesh out specifics. (Probably need two meetings.) Where, when, how, what, supplies, curriculum, etc. Write up all agreements and get copies to everyone! B. Informational - if involving people not at first meeting. Important distinction are they registering or applying? Pre-meeting with kids and parents before first day of class. Go through expectations, rules, etc. very carefully. Communicate! First day of class - smile! (We open in prayer and discuss co-op manners.) Keep people informed - communicate some more! Don’t let problems simmer. Deal with issues as soon as possible. Pray some more. Have fun - attitude is almost everything! Lastly, several of the books I have co-authored were written specifically for my co-ops. You might find these useful in yours, as well! The Ultimate Geography and Timeline Guide Hands-On Geography Young Scholars Guide to Composers I've also used All American History and The Mystery of History series. These are great coop books!

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By Debbie Strayer and Dr. Ruth Beechick

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Homeschooling today can seem complicated. Even though I am an author of curriculum and a veteran homeschooler, my head can still spin when walking through a large vendor hall at a convention, or when looking at all the resources available on line. As curriculum fair season begins, please allow us to offer some advice.

Trust the plan for your child.

There are many temptations today to sacrifice what is best for your child in favor of what seems to produce quick success. Short-term impressiveness is not our goal; a life-long enjoyment of learning is. Here, maturity is often more important than method. Remember that there are many ways to prepare for academics and life. Be guided by peace. Choose the path that brings your child a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Find the Even the very best curriculum out there is one that fits your child, rather than no good if it doesn't fit your children and changing your child to fit a certain path. your family. Homeschoolers need to remember those in history, like the parents When the homeschooling movement of Orville and Wilbur Wright, whose began in America, the thing that was most mother didn't try to make them like treasured was our liberty to educate in a everyone else. She sought to strengthen way that best fit our families. Today there their character and encourage their talents. is a great deal of pressure to impress Don't abandon the way your child learns others with our homeschooling. Let's be best just to fit in at a co-op or support sure to stay true to our individuality as families and pass on that love of liberty to group. the next generation of homeschoolers.

Trust yourself.

You are the homeschooling parent of your child for a reason. You bring certain unique qualities and passions to your homeschooling, and in the big scheme of things, your child needs what's in you. Again, trust your proclivity as a family. Take your talents and abilities as encourage -ment to pass those things along to your children, not to just conform to what education may have looked like for you as a child or for others today.

Heart of the Matter

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By Jenny Penton

These are the most amazing cinnamon rolls on the planet. They are made very conveniently with my bread recipe. Whenever I have my baking day and am baking my bread, I always make enough to make some cinnamon rolls.

Homemade White Bread & Cinnamon Roll Recipe Makes two loaves of white bread. Combine in mixer: 3 cups warm water 2 pkgs. of yeast 2 tbsp. honey or sugar Let your yeast dissolve and proof in your mixer, about 5 minutes While waiting, in large bowl combine: 7 cups of flour ¾ cup of dry milk ¼ cup bran ¼ cup wheat germ Combine in mixer bowl on medium speed for 3 minutes: 4 tsp. salt with 3 cups of flour mixture When mixing is complete: Add 2 tbsp. vegetable oil with 3 more cups flour P. 22

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Incorporate on medium speed, adding any remaining flour until it forms a soft ball. On floured surface, place your bread dough on the counter, and using the heel of the palm of your hand, knead the dough. Turn the dough each time to form a smooth ball, adding more flour if needed. Put into a greased bowl and cover with clean dishtowel. Let rise until doubled, about one hour. Punch down and let rise again for ½ hour. Turn oven on to 350 degrees. Punch down dough and lay on floured surface. Roll out dough until it is about 1/4 inch thick. It should be tall and wide for rolling. Spread about 1/2 stick softened butter on the rolled dough. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Begin with the dough that is closest to you and begin rolling up making tight rolls. Take your hands and work your way to the ends to ensure you stay even with your dough until the end. Once rolled up, make sure you pinch the dough end to the roll to keep tight and sealed. Spray a non-stick baking sheet and set aside. With a serrated knife cut the cinnamon log into 1/4 inch pieces and place on baking sheet. I keep mine all snug in the baking sheet and let rise until doubled, about 20 minutes. Bake for 15-20 minutes until baked through and golden brown.

Vanilla Icing: 3 cups powdered sugar 1/2 cup heavy cream 3 tbs. vanilla extract Combine in a large bowl and whisk until thick and creamy. When rolls come out of the oven, spread thick icing all over the rolls. Don't even wait a second...dig in! Heart of the Matter

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By Bethany LeBedz

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Just as horses know when they’re close to their stables and pick up the pace, so we homeschoolers can smell the end of the school year. Spring is in the air (in the northern hemisphere, anyway) and kids aren’t the only ones getting antsy for pool days to replace school days. I don’t know what happens at your house, but at my house when spring fever strikes, it’s nearly fatal. The girls beg to do school outside, which means that academics really don’t get done, which might not be too bad if your kids aren’t in high school and middle school like mine are. They get lazy about filing their papers in their binders. I get lazy about finishing lesson plans. We all get lazy about portfolios and records. Yikes! How’s a homeschool mom to stay organized amidst this malady? We need to spring clean our homeschools! How do we spring clean our homeschools? We need to tame the paper monsters, take care of the filing, clean off the shelves, make room for the new stuff, and throw open the windows (unless you have pollen allergies). Let’s get out the trashcans and shredders and start sorting through all of our kids’ school papers. Even the most unschooling among us have a plethora of math worksheets, essay papers, and artistic masterpieces. Just keep a small sampling of each child’s work to save in a portfolio and throw out the rest. Realistically, we can only save so much. You may have to do this after their bedtime, but you’ll feel better with the paper piles eliminated.

How many magazine articles, recipes, and random notes do we have piled up on our desks, counters, or to-be-filed boxes? It’s time to deal with one pile or box at a time and put all those papers where they belong. We may find that we can trash a good many of them by now as well, such as old invitations and reminders. As our children finish up workbooks, textbooks, living books, and computer programs, it’s time to either sell them, or set them aside in a designated spot for the next child in line. If the youngest child has finished something, pass it along or sell it to someone who can use it. This frees up space in your own home for needed newer items. Nothing says spring cleaning like out with the old and in with the new. I also have one whole shelf that is specifically for in between curricula. When I’m making up my lists of materials needed for the following year, I only need to look at one shelf to see if I already have it. While we’re there, let’s make sure that all of the other living and reference books are neat and in the proper order. Now that all the academic papers are neatly put into portfolios, all of the mom papers are filed in binders or folders, and all of the bookshelves are cleared off and organized, we have room for all of that great, new curricula and all of those new books we’re buying at curriculum fairs, used book sales, and online.

The end of the school year is in sight; let’s be prepared for it. We’ve spring cleaned our homeschools; it’s time to throw open the windows, put the dandelions picked by the Next, we need to take care of our own filing. little ones in a vase, and celebrate spring!

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Image: Stock.XCHNG

By Tricia Hodges

Whenever I am creating something, I make a Maybe it’s a Sketch Tuesday topic. Plus, she mess. Whether it is baking our favorite also brings surprises: A mug of hot chocolate cookies, culling through clutter, or painting a or a tornado! room, my adult mess spreads far and wide. Wouldn’t you say it is a given that art is messy as well? Children’s art? Blessedly messy! This is precisely why I’m sharing what has become more than a year-long habit of happy, beautiful messes in our home. Back last February, Nana was snowed in with us. On that day, she taught the children their first chalk pastel art lesson. She taught all five of my children – everyone around the kitchen table. Since then, we’ve asked for more! We’ve enjoyed eighteen of her teaching times. Sometimes it’s a seasonal snowman. Other times I ask that her lesson match our current nature study on weather or butterflies. P. 26

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Before Nana taught us, we didn’t know how to use chalk pastels. She shared the simplicity and just how blessedly messy pastels can be! See, she is a master artist, taking lessons herself. She translates new techniques she’s learned into something new and understandable for us. We’ve learned about blind contour, ‘fisting in,’ and ‘skumbling.’

I’ve included here a very simple pastel lesson on a universally loved subject, macaroni and cheese. Mac and cheese is a mainstay in our home and a true comfort food when cooked in the slow cooker. Before the children started, Nana drew the eight simple steps for making a bowl full of macaroni and cheese. The blue and orange together is so appealing.

The point is that chalk pastels are fun. We all enjoy them – from the teenager to the preschooler. Pastels are also forgiving! If you don’t particularly like a certain mark, just use your finger and smudge it away. Start new. Make that mark into something else.

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First, gather brilliant blue, orange and brown That’s all! Each of Nana’s lessons take chalk sticks. Three colors are all you need for this! around 15 minutes at most. We used printer paper because that is what we had on hand. The children followed Nana's steps. Just like making your real macaroni and cheese lunch, fix your bowl first and add in the noodles last.

What do you think? Are you considering adding chalk pastels to your art palette? Nana’s advice is to start small. A basic student set can be purchased for less than $10 and shared by the family.

Feel free to make your noodles as simple or as detailed as you'd like. It's your bowl full! Next, take your finger tip and blend the blue of your bowl. Soften the edges. Sometimes when adding a background, we use the bottom of our fist - 'fisting in' and blending a color. Maybe you would like to add a bit of brown table for your bowl to rest on. Just blend some color underneath your bowl.

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Not sure about the smudgy mess? Moms that are scared of a mess beware. We keep the baby wipes handy, don a smock or wear something we don’t mind getting stained. With practice, we've found pastels are easy to pull out to enjoy and quick to clean up afterwards.

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At Hodgepodge, I’ve compiled 17 of Nana’s free pastel lessons in photo tutorial form. See Pastels Plus Links to Tutorials. Don’t worry. Nana shares her expertise and coaches on types of paper, where to purchase supplies, and storage, too. She also is familiar with a homeschooler’s budget. But don't just take it from me. Here's what one homeschool mother shared with me: “Ok, I have to tell you, I am NOT an art teacher… not even close. The most my kids ever do with art is maybe a hands on history lesson with coloring pages and some minor drawing. I have now ventured into teaching them art WITH NANA! We completed lesson one in pastels this morning, and it was fabulous! She is inspiring a love of art in a family that knows nothing of it! Thank you so much for sharing your precious mother with us all.” ~ Lori Lange, homeschool mom of 5 @ Abnormal Herd Making ‘sky holes’ in Nana’s Tree tutorial. Won’t you join us in this new found joy in our I hope macaroni and cheese whet your appetite. homeschool? Maybe you might consider just using pastels for a certain aspect of your homeschool. We found we enjoy them for nature journal sketching. The rich colors capture what we see outside very well. We’ve drawn clouds, trees, night blooming flowers, Queen Anne’s lace, sunflowers, a sunset, and more.

By Kimberly Bredberg

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Kindergarten Evelyn walked through my front door followed by her dad, video camera in hand. Her mom shot me the glance, “It’s time!” This year, Evelyn is a high school graduate. I closed the book on her transcript back in December. Recently she taught me how to connect the dots: Ever since I was introduced to pysanky egg making many years ago, I have been hooked. When Easter rolls around I have my friends over to create these brilliantly dyed eggs. Every year I get better and better and learn more helpful techniques. This year I was so obsessed with making eggs I would stay up „till midnight painstakingly scratching on eggs with a wooden kiska. Ukrainian egg making teaches patience. It‟s a quiet, slow, endeavor but all the hard work and patience pays off. My favorite part of the process is when, after hours of work, I finally get to melt off the black wax with a candle and reveal the masterpiece! A few years ago we suffered a pysanky egg tragedy: years worth of eggs had been left on the kitchen table while we were out to dinner one night. We returned to a floor covered in smashed eggshells. Our dog Jack had smelled the eggs and jumped onto a chair to get to the top of the table. He crushed them all. My mom cried. She‟s never gotten over the loss. I, on the other hand, just wanted to punt Jack down the staircase. Slowly we have begun to build up our pysanky egg collection…

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I remember being on a Patricia Polacco roll one spring. After reading Rechinka’s Eggs to our group, Evelyn’s mom, Sara, chimes in, “We can do that.” The next thing I know we are blowing the insides out of eggs and teaching our primary aged children the art of batik. I find it interesting that the Ukrainian word “pysanky” comes from the verb “pysaty” which means to write. So picture teaching a group of 12 or so under ten-year-olds gathered in my kitchen to write with wax on eggshells! Did I mention that there is fire involved in this activity? Yes, that’s right, fire. Here’s the deal: children are capable. Was this activity chaotic? You bet. But not once did it cross my mind that this group of children was too young to engage in a sophisticated craft. Looking back, those young children proved that focus is not the issue. Children possess an incredible store of focus power, but we deny them opportunity to demonstrate their prowess when we don’t believe in their ability to engage in complex tasks. The art of pysanky teaches patience, true. When pure white shells—a tiny surface of potential—are painstakingly decorated, individuality emerges. All I can say is that this poet teacher sees a metaphor emerging. To learn more about pysanky go to:

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This wonderful unit study excerpt was provided for you, free, by Amanda Bennett at Enjoy!

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Image: Stock.XCHNG

An Experiment by Dr. Jay Wile Compact fluorescent light bulbs are getting very popular. They produce a lot of light using only a little bit of energy, so they save on electricity costs and reduce the amount of electricity we consume. But how are they different from regular light bulbs? The best way to learn the answer to that question is to do an experiment.

your hair might not be clean enough. Try dimming the room more and try using someone else’s hair. 6. Hold the balloon still near the bulb. Notice that the only time you see the effect is when the balloon is moving. 7. Put everything away.

You will need three things:

What went on in the experiment? Why did A compact fluorescent light bulb (often moving a balloon back and forth cause the light bulb to glow? You can try this experiment called an “energy-saving fluorescent bulb”) all you want with a regular light bulb, which is A balloon called an “incandescent (in’ kuhn des’ ant) light A dim (but not completely dark) room bulb,” but it will never glow. This only works with a compact fluorescent light bulb. Why? Once you have those things, here’s what you should do: An incandescent light bulb works because the electricity in the light socket forces tiny 1. Blow up the balloon and tie it off. charged particles called “electrons” to move 2. Go into the room with the balloon and the through the thin wire inside the bulb (that wire bulb, and make the room very dim. is called the “filament”). When that happens, 3. Rub the top of the balloon back and forth the wire gets very hot. In fact, it gets so hot that it glows brightly, producing the light that in your hair several times. comes from the bulb. This is an easy way to 4. Point the bulb towards the balloon as make light, but it wastes a lot of energy. After shown in the picture and then move the all, the filament has to get very hot, so the balloon back and forth. What happens in the light bulb is using a lot of energy just to heat bulb? the filament. If there were some way to make 5. If you didn’t see anything happen in the light without heating up a filament, light bulbs bulb, your room might not be dim enough, or would use less energy. P. 38

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That’s what compact fluorescent light bulbs do. Instead of using a filament, a compact fluorescent light bulb is filled with mercury gas. When it is put in a light socket, the electricity in the socket causes electrons to move around in that gas. Those electrons crash into mercury atoms, and the crash gives the mercury atoms more energy. However, most things in nature prefer to stay in their lowest-energy state, so the mercury atoms really don’t want to have that extra energy. To get rid of it, they emit light.

up only when the balloon was moving. When you held the balloon still, there was no glow from the light bulb. Why? Because light is a form of energy, and you cannot create energy out of nothing. In order to make light, you must get the energy from somewhere. In the experiment, you used the electrical force to convert the energy in the motion of the charged balloon into energy in the form of electrons moving inside the gas. That energy was then converted to the energy of the light you saw by the process I just described. Without moving the balloon, there was Is that the light you see coming from the light just no energy to convert into light, so the light bulb? No. Mercury emits light that is not bulb could not glow. visible to the human eye. However, that invisible light ends up hitting the wall of the The other important thing to note about this tube that holds the gas. The tube is painted experiment is how little energy it took to get with a very special white paint, called a the light bulb to glow. The light bulb didn’t “phosphor” (fos’ fur). When the phosphor gets glow as much as when you put it in a light hit with the light from the mercury, it gets the socket, because the electricity in the light energy that was in the light. Once again, socket contains a lot more energy than what however, most things in nature want to stay in you could put in the motion of the their lowest-energy state, so the phosphor gets balloon. Nevertheless, you could easily see the rid of the energy it gained by emitting visible glow, even though you were just waving the light, and that’s the light you see coming from balloon back and forth. the light bulb. Now think about an incandescent light bulb. It In your experiment, the balloon took the place also works by moving electrons. It moves of the electrical socket. When you rubbed the electrons through the filament until the balloon in your hair, it collected electrons, filament gets hot enough to glow. However, becoming electrically charged. Anything that is no matter how hard you try, you will never get electrically charged produces an electrical an incandescent light bulb to glow by moving a force. So the balloon was producing an charged balloon back and forth over it. Even electrical force, and when you moved the though you are moving electrons in the balloon, that force caused electrons inside the filament when you move the charged balloon, light bulb’s gas to move. That, of course, there just isn’t enough energy in that motion caused them to crash into mercury atoms, to heat the filament to the point where it will which caused the mercury atoms to emit glow. That’s why compact fluorescent light invisible light, and when that invisible light hit bulbs use very little energy. Since no energy is the phosphor, it caused the light bulb to glow. spent heating something up, even a small There are two very important things to note amount of energy will cause the light bulb to about this experiment. First, the light bulb lit glow. Heart of the Matter

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"She can tell me the answers orally well, but then it takes her an hour to write it down!" "When he writes his spelling words to learn them, he leaves letters out of the words." "If he dictates to me, the story is great, but he can’t write it himself.” “His dad says that he’s just lazy and unmotivated. He can do his work if he really tries.” One of the most common and most misdiagnosed processing problems in children is a blocked writing gate. This is the number one processing glitch in gifted children. Many of these children seem to be “allergic” to their pencil. They break out in whining as soon as they get a pencil or pen in their hand.

By Dianne Craft, MA, CNHP The GREAT DEBATE occurs every year: “Am I expecting too much of my child, or not enough?" "Is this groaning and moaning about writing just a discipline problem, or 'character issue', or is there really a problem here?" Common comments I hear from home school moms are:

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Let’s look at what is happening in the brain of this child when he is asked to write something. God designed our left brain hemisphere to concentrate on learning a new task, such as driving a car, or riding a bike. After some concentrated practice, that task is then supposed to transfer over the brain midline into the right brain which is responsible for the automaticity of the process. If we imagine the left brain hemisphere as the “Concentrating Brain” and the right hemisphere as the “Automatic Brain,” we can see how this transfer allows us to “think and do” at the same time. Generally, when we teach a child how to write, after six months of practice that writing crosses over into the automatic brain hemisphere so the child can “think and write” at the same time. For many children, this transfer does not easily occur.

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Thus, they have to expend much more battery Mixes capital and small letters in writing energy, or level of concentration, to a writing Great stories orally, but writes very little task than other children. Dr. Mel Levine in his Does all math problem mentally to avoid book, One Mind at a Time, calls these learning writing them down blocks, “energy leaks.” Lining up numbers in multiplication or This particular blocked learning gate or “energy leak” can be called a grapho-motor division is difficult processing problem, a visual/motor No child has all of these characteristics, but if integration problem, a fine motor problem, or your child has several, you may consider that dysgraphia. this is an area that he or she is struggling in. This often explains the mystery of why many children learn their spelling words easily by writing them in a workbook or writing them five times each, and another child can write his words hundreds of times and still not store the spelling word in his long term memory. Now we realize that this struggling child has to use his “battery energy” just for the writing process, so the spelling words cannot be transferred into the right brain, where our long term memory is stored. Thus, the method of copying to learn is totally ineffective for this child. Our job is to recognize this, and to help him open up his writing gate. This can easily be done in the home setting.

Further Investigation


When a parent recognizes that her child has a blocked learning gate, and is just not being sloppy or resistant to writing without a reason, then steps can be taken to alleviate some of the writing burden on the child until the problem can be corrected. Reduce the amount of writing a child needs to do during the day. Do more answers for chapter questions orally. Limit the amount of writing in workbooks. Reduce or eliminate copying for 3-4 months. Save the child’s “battery energy” for writing paragraphs or papers and doing math.

Use another method of learning spelling Let’s look at some of the symptoms these words that does not include writing either in a children who have a blocked writing gate are workbook or multiple times. Right Brain Spelling, using a child’s photographic memory, presenting to us daily: is an excellent way to teach spelling without Frequent or occasional reversals in letters writing. ( (after age 7) Makes many letters from bottom to top Teach the child keyboarding for some writing projects. However, it is important to (vertical reversals) remember that most children who have Writing is very labor intensive dysgraphia also find keyboarding quickly quite Copying is poor, takes a long time…or is labor intensive also, so it is not a complete answer. like artwork Heart of the Matter

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Correction It is important to not just compensate for this writing glitch, but to also to take steps to eliminate it so the child can experience fluency in the writing process. There are various methods that can be successfully used at home to correct this writing processing problem. Here is the method I found to be the least expensive, while being the most effective for eliminating dysgraphia or any writing or visual/ spatial glitch: 1. The DVD, “Smart Kids Who Hate to Write” (, demonstrates a daily exercise to do at home that crosses the midline to open the child’s writing gate which increases writing fluency and eliminates reversals. This daily 15 minute exercise rehabilitates the Visual/Spatial system. No more left/right confusion!

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2. If your child has more than just the writing gate blocked (such as visual/reading reversals, or auditory processing problems) then you might want to get the more thorough Brain Integration Therapy Manual with its home programs.


A child can have a learning glitch, or block in a learning gate, that causes him to struggle everyday with schoolwork, without the parents’ knowledge. Using some simple checklists, the parent can identify this problem and design the school day to be less frustrating. More importantly, the parent can avail herself of all the wonderful corrective techniques available so that the child does not need to struggle with the burden of having to work so hard at writing, or with a dysgraphia. God has wonderful answers for us. He leads us in so many ways, and we are ever grateful!

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This is a family favorite, and my son has been making it pretty much by himself since he was three - with the exception of using the hot oven! Any size cup can be used as long as the same Stir until everything is well mixed. one is used throughout the recipe. Pour into a greased loaf tin, the size of the tin To minimize mess, before you start put the depends on the size of the cup you used. cup on a baking sheet; then any spills will go Bake at 190 degrees Celsius (editor’s note: onto the sheet. the equivalent temperature is 375 degrees Measure out 1 cup of each of the following Fahrenheit) for about 40 minutes. Cooking time will vary depending on the size of the into a large bowl: cup you used. To check for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the cake; if it Raisins or dried mixed fruit comes out clean, it is cooked. Self-rising flour Sugar All Bran Cereal

Allow to cool, and then slice. The cake can be eaten as is or with butter.


I have a printout for download HERE HERE..

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By Sarita Holzmann of Sonlight Curriculum Children love stories. Imagine a talented storyteller with eager children gathered around her. What would happen if she stopped a tale at the most exciting part? The children would exclaim, "Keep going! What happens next?" Literature-based learning is an educational philosophy based on children's natural curiosity and love for stories. Outstanding books and delightful stories form the centerpiece for learning.

Here are a few benefits you might find as you teach through living books. When you engage your children with great literature, you:

Create memorable connections that last a lifetime. As you read together, you

establish great memories you will reference for years to come. If your family has read The House at Pooh Corner, a simple walk over a bridge might trigger the idea to play Jesus knew the value of stories, too. When he Poohsticks. As you race twigs downstream, wanted to teach the crowds, he told you not only make a new memory, you’re all memorable parables with interesting “insiders” to a special secret because you share characters. He didn't quote from dry textbook- a reference point from the story. like tomes, but instead turned to the power of Forge emotional bonds and enstory to engage his listeners. And it worked! My best kept homeschool curriculum "secret" comes down to this: I believe most children respond more positively to great literature than they do to textbooks. Books — quality books — can distill the wisdom of an entire life into the span of a few pages. They can feed us with spiritual insight beyond imagination. Whether written by Christians or nonChristians, great books help us to develop critical thinking skills.

courage heart to heart discussion.

Great books often evoke deep emotions. Sharing those emotions together is a bonding experience for your family — whether you shake with belly-laughs or mourn the loss of a special character through tears. I believe the shared emotional journey through books led my family to a culture of openness with one another. We can talk about anything; no subject is off limits. My husband and I still have very close relationships and vibrant conversations with our grown children. I also made a point of intentionally handing my husband emotional books so that my children could see that it’s okay for a man to cry.

These benefits of great literature inspired me to build a Christian homeschool curriculum on quality books that present content in a highly engaging fashion. Once a good book grabs your child's attention, you'll find that the educational process becomes relatively I believe this intimacy and empathy was forged painless — because your children will actually as we read together and engaged in deep discussion. want to read! P. 44

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Books that call forth emotion not only bond you together as a family, they also enable you to identify with, and thus, respond appropriately from the heart to, the plight of the characters you meet. When you live life through the character in a book, you’re more likely to consider all sides of an issue because you will be forced to view the world through that character’s perspective — a perspective likely different from your own.

Bring up topics you may not think of discussing otherwise. Reading a wide array of literature leads to discussions that are not part of our normal lives. They add depth and variety to our conversations and lead us to consider ideas from different angles. I would prefer my kids learn about the problems of gangs and violence vicariously through a book like The Outsiders than experience that for themselves. I would rather my kids learn the anguish of war through books than through video games that don’t illustrate the ramifications of life or death decisions. And I would rather be there to discuss these things with them than have them thinking about and trying to figure out an appropriate response on their own during a period in their lives when they are apart from me or under someone else’s tutelage.

Involve dad.

Reading great books aloud is a fabulous way for a father to be involved in the homeschooling experience. I fondly remember all four of our kids scrunched together on our love seat listening to my husband John read every evening. What a powerful and precious heritage for a dad to give his kids! Heart of the Matter

Make history come alive.

Imagine the thunder of horse hooves and the wind on your face during Paul Revere’s ride. Children remember what they’ve experienced firsthand. And historical fiction and other engaging literature make history come alive in a way that the facts and dates alone simply can’t. Reading a well-written novel set in the Great Depression will create a much more memorable impression than will reading any quantity of literature about the Great Depression contained in a textbook. Living life through the character of a book creates empathy and draws your children into an unforgettable story that touches their imaginations and emotions.

Spend less time memorizing dates. Historical fiction and biographies help kids understand the context of events and ideas instead of just a list of dates. This contextual knowledge helps them triangulate dates when needed. Of course, it’s not bad to teach important dates, but give the whole story and you place natural markers in your children’s minds that help them make sense of history. A grandfather and grandson were talking about an event from the early 20th century. The grandfather remarked afterward how astonished he was that his grandson worked out almost to the year when the event occurred by reasoning: “Let’s see. It had to have been before ____, because ____. But it would have had to have occurred after ____ because _____.” Clearly, the grandson had a thorough knowledge of the broader currents of history . . . primarily because he had been reading great historical literature. He hadn’t memorized the date. He knew it innately.

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Benefit from international travel for Develop your children’s listening fractions of pennies on the dollar. skills. As children listen to compelling stories When you enter the world of good books, you can bring your kids to China on an ordinary weekday and still be home for lunch. You can witness the Yangtze River flood a whole city when you read Yang Fu of the Upper Yangtze. Travel through the dense fog of the Himalayan trails and walk down through lush valleys as you visit the plains of India, an opportunity most of us may never experience. In Secret of the Andes, you can experience the harsh living conditions young Cusi endures, as well as the beauty of his culture. You could read Daughter of the Mountains and learn about the Buddhist traditions of Momo, a girl who cries out fervently with her prayer wheel each day, hoping Buddha will wake and hear her. Books are the best way to experience parts of the world you may never visit.

(even if they are on the floor playing with toys during the reading) they learn to listen painlessly. You may be amazed at the details your children can recall! Children can listen to books at a higher level than they are able to read for themselves.

Create fertile ground for character development. Books provide natural opportunities to stop and discuss the choices the characters are making. For example, the children in Number the Stars don’t get along well. What a great opportunity to talk about how you want to treat each other differently in your family. Quality books also provide your children with heroes worth imitating. As characters do great things through courage, perseverance, and wisdom, your children will want to imitate them.

Learn random facts vicariously. When Enhance writing skills. I was a girl, I learned how to treat poisonous snake bites from the Trixie Belden series. Later I learned about measuring latitude and longitude from Carry On, Mr. Bowditch. Literate people gain general knowledge about the world in the process of enjoying good books.

Reading good writing can give kids a sense of how to shape their own messages. Ben Franklin taught himself to write well through copying great writers. Regular exposure to great books helps children naturally become familiar with the concepts of plot, scene-setting, and creating powerful hooks at the beginning of a story — all elements they can use to make their own writing more effective.

Broaden your children’s vocabulary painlessly. They may not pronounce the Gain cultural literacy. words correctly at first, but you can be sure they are absorbing new words! I distinctly remember reading Dickens to our family one year. The word my son Luke picked up on was “pecuniary.” He used it in his speech and in his writing and I was amazed that my 13-year-old was correctly using words like that on a regular basis. P. 46

In his book Cultural Literacy, E.D. Hirsch outlines what’s missing in today’s educational system. Modern students who aren’t exposed to a wide variety of literature often can’t identify the simplest references from classical literature or history. They are missing key information that could help them understand their own context and function as informed citizens.

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"To be culturally literate," Hirsch says, "is to possess the basic information needed to thrive in the modern world." Readers must understand the writer's unspoken "systems of associations." We use literary references in everyday life all the time, often without thinking about where they originated. When you talk about “Big Brother,” a “Cinderella story,” a “siren song,” or someone’s “Achilles heel,” you’re alluding to stories that have shaped our culture. Beyond recognizing references, your students will learn to understand the big ideas from the past that shape who we are today and where we are going.

Give your children favorite books they will enjoy reading again and again. You never know which book will

life-long learners who carry a thirst for knowledge as a part of their legacy long after school days are done. What simple steps can you take to help your children benefit from great books? Here are three you can try today:

Have your children read every day. Set an example and be caught reading. Read together as a family.

Mix up your genres.

If you have a daughter who just reads horse books or a boy who only likes comic books, help them branch out a little with a historical biography, poetry, or science fiction. They may discover new favorite genres!

become the well-loved favorite with the weathered cover.

Create a home library full of books just waiting to be picked up and read. Make the treasure and

Gain too many additional benefits to list! The benefits of teaching your children

pleasure of reading a core value in your home.

with great literature go on and on. I haven’t Home libraries hold many benefits. An even mentioned the fact that reading as a extensive new study shows that "A child from center of your schooling may help a family rich in books is 19 percentage points more likely to complete university than a steer your children clear of the detrimental comparable child growing up without a home effects of television. library."[1] In fact, the size of a home library reduce discipline problems because the kids greatly affects educational attainment, "even adjusting for parents' education." are enjoying learning. motivate you, the teacher, with captivating Who knew those great books in your home were doing so much good? May you enjoy your content. homeschool and your precious times of Finally, making the most of great reading with your children.

literature means learning can be fun. If you raise children who love to read,

[1] "Home Libraries Provide Huge Educational Advantage," April 2010. Accessed at www.miller they can learn anything. You equip them to be in April 2010. Heart of the Matter

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Have you ever looked at a big ship and wondered how it floats on water? After all, it’s made of metal. Doesn’t metal sink? Well, let’s do an experiment to see if we can figure this out.

What you will need:

Aluminum foil Ten pennies (More if you want to do the “optional” part at the end) Scissors A sink with a plug Water

What you should do:

Put five pennies in the other foil square and then wad the foil around them tightly so you have a wad of aluminum foil that contains five pennies. Take the wad, the other five pennies, and the aluminum foil tray to the sink. Plug the sink and put a few inches of water in it. Drop the pennies wrapped in foil into the water. What happens?

Cut two squares out of aluminum foil, each about 3 inches by 3 inches. The exact size is not important. It is more important that they are both the same size.

Set the tray on the water so that the bottom of the tray is touching the water and the wall around the tray is above the water. The tray should float. Start putting pennies in the tray one at a time. Can you put all five pennies in the tray without the tray sinking?

Take one of the squares and fold two of the edges so that a small “wall” is formed on each side, as shown in the top picture on the right. P. 48

Fold the other two edges so that the entire piece of foil now has a “wall” surrounding it, as shown in the bottom picture. Do not cut anything to make the wall. Just fold the foil to make the corners. As the bottom picture on the right shows, this doesn’t need to be a work of art. It just needs to be a “tray” made out of aluminum foil with an unbroken “wall” surrounding the entire tray.

OPTIONAL: See how many pennies you can put in the tray before it sinks. Clean up your mess and put everything away.

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What did you see in the experiment? If things went well, you saw the wad of foil wrapped around the pennies sink rapidly in the water. However, when you sat the aluminum foil “tray” on the water, it floated. Even after you added five pennies to the tray, it still floated. If you did the optional part of the experiment, it probably took more than ten pennies to sink the aluminum foil tray. Now think about the wad of foil and the tray of foil. Once you added the five pennies to the tray, it weighed exactly as much as the five pennies that were wrapped in the wad of foil. After all, both the tray and the wad were made out of the same amount of aluminum foil, and they each had five pennies in them. The wad sank, but the tray floated. Why? Well, there are a couple of things you need to realize about the experiment. First, while both the wad and the tray had the same weight, they did not have the same volume. Now before we go on, I need to make sure you know what “volume” really means. In science, volume is not a measure of sound. It is a measure of how much room an object takes up. When an object takes up a lot of room, it has a lot of volume. When it takes up only a small amount of room, it has a small volume. Now if you think about the five pennies wrapped in the wad of foil, they didn’t take up much space. So the weight of the five pennies and the aluminum foil was concentrated in a small volume. The tray, however, took up a lot more space. When five pennies were added to the tray, it all weighed as much as the five pennies wrapped in the wad, but that weight was distributed in a much larger volume. How does this relate to why the tray floated and the wad of pennies sank? Well, in order to sink in water, an object must push the water out of the way. After all, if it is going to sink, it needs to move through the water. In Heart of the Matter

order to move, it must first push the water that is already there out of the way. If you are in a crowd of people who are packed together so tightly that you cannot squeeze in between them, what do you need to do in order to move through the crowd? You have to politely ask people to move out of your way so that you can get through. In the same way, to sink, an object must get the water to move out of the way so it can move through the water. It can’t politely ask the water to move, so it mush shove the water out of the way. Well, the water doesn’t necessarily want to move. In order to shove the water out of the way, then, the object that is trying to sink must be able to shove the water pretty hard. It can do this if it weighs more than the water it is trying to move. In order to sink, then, an object must be heavier than the water that it has to move. Think about the five pennies wrapped in foil. In order to sink, it had to move some water, but because it didn’t take up much space, it didn’t have to shove much water out of the way. Since the wad of foil weighed more than the water it needed to shove out of the way, it sank. Now think about the tray. It weighed the same as the wad once the five pennies were added, but because the tray took up so much room, it had to shove more water out of the way. It wasn’t as heavy as all that water, so it could not sink. Instead, it floated. So whether or not an object floats depends on two things: its weight and its volume. If the object is heavier than an equal volume of water, it will sink. Otherwise, it will float. This why a ship floats, even though it is made of metal. The ship is very heavy, but it is also purposely designed to take up a lot of space. If you compare its weight to the weight of an equal volume of water, you will find that the ship is a lot lighter. Since it is lighter than an equal volume of water, it can’t shove enough water out of the way to sink. As a result, it floats.

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By Debra Anderson

jumping on the answer (written on a card on the floor) art techniques and all kinds of construction. For foreign language we use The Learnables on computer. My son doesn’t have to read a single word, he just sees the picture and listens to the Pronunciation. Together we listen (very hard sometimes) to find out just how the word is said and, because it’s illustrated, he can file that picture into his head with the word. It’s a much easier association for him.

There are a variety of labels out there for children who predominantly function with the right hemisphere of their brain: ADD, dyslexic, or dysgraphic are a few. Labels aside, these children are typically very strong in their ability to think spatially, analytically and creatively. They can experience deep compassion and demonstrate amazing humor. They can be playful, big-picture, physical kids. And teaching them can be Because they are so visual, any enhancement filled with challenges. you can make to your curriculum with color My nine-year-old son is extremely right will help them retain information. We brained. Not only has he struggled to read regularly use Horizons for math because it’s for several years, but I’ve also noticed so colorful (and I cross out about half of the recently that he’s slowly growing more problems). When writing vocabulary words, I discouraged with math. I called on a rightnow write each syllable in a different brain tutor to give me some new techniques color. This helps my son get and retain a not only to boost my son’s ability to read and visual snapshot of the word. compute, but to boost his self-esteem and believe the truth about himself -- that’s he’s a truly smart kid. Doing the same type of math problem over If your young child is strongly right-brained, and over again discourages my son. I give there are some techniques to use that may him just a few math problems for practice, help. but then I give him a few that get increasingly harder: 2x20, now 2x220, now 20x220. This allows him to find a pattern and once he’s If your right-brained child can’t visualize it, he figured it out, he can just keep following the or she can’t learn it. I incorporate as many pattern to complete harder and harder hands-on activities as I can think of: problems. This actually inspires him to want experiments, cut and paste, candy counting, to do more.

Use color..

Don’t drill..

Make it visual..

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Get a movie going in his head. When you sit down to work on your child’s reading instruct him or her to read silently and say, “Think about what you’re reading by turning it into a movie in your head.”After my son completes a page, I can skim the page and ask him some comprehension questions. He typically gets them all correct.

minute or two, verbally walk your child through a forest, a library or wherever you want. Have him imagine picking up one or two items and describe to him how those items might make him feel. When you’re done, have him or her tell you back the scene with as much detail as they can think of. There’s no right answer. Your child will get better and better as you practice.


Here are a few more quick techniques to help your right-brained child with visualization: Reading aloud uses different brain function than reading silently. While it’s a very strong temptation always to have your struggling reader read aloud to you, incorporate silent STEP ONE: Write out a word using different reading as well. Using whatever book they colored markers for each syllable. Read it to are reading at the moment, let your child your child. Let them look at it as long as they read aloud to you just a paragraph. If he or want in order to get a clear picture of it in she hesitates on a word, tell them what it their head. When ready, take the paper away is. This way your child will file away its corand ask your child to spell the word aloud for rect pronunciation the first time. After that, you. switch off reading sentences aloud, first you, then your child. Anticipate the hard words STEP TWO: Ask your child to spell it back- and tell your child what they are, and then let wards for you. If they are truly right-brained her read a page silently. When done, skim it it can be done! It amazed me. and ask your child a few comprehension questions. STEP THREE: Ask your child to tell you how many vowels are in the word. Right-brained Teaching a right-brained child doesn’t have to kids often don’t hear the vowels in words, be painful if we stay tuned to their strengths If you’re using left-brain but with this technique my son is learning to and styles. (sequential, linear, logical) techniques with see them and thus remember them. your right-brained child, try using tips like STEP FOUR: Do this with harder and harder these to ease some of the struggles. In our experience, my son feels less stressed, less words, a few words a day. hopeless and more intelligent. I feel like I’m using his strengths to build up his weaknesses and I can see him gaining ground. My rightTell your child to close his eyes and imagine a brained learner feels like learning is more fun scene that you describe out loud. For just a and, hopefully, yours will too.



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A few years ago we did a family study on World Exploration. What a grand time we had traveling all over the world and learning about who these men were and where and why they voyaged! One of the most exciting parts of this unit was navigation. Since then, we’ve done a number of navigation explorations which my kids always enjoy. Our kids almost never leave home without their orienteering compasses. I have the privilege of knowing which direction I’m headed at all times. As we head into spring and summer, what could be more fun than having a navigational adventure of your own?

The American Practical Navigator by Nathaniel Bowditch. We actually borrowed this one from a local university library. My husband was inspired from the biography to read the book on navigation that Nathaniel Bowditch wrote. Kaleidoscope Kids Lewis and Clark- this one tells facts about the duo in addition to having activities relating to this great American expedition. The Story of Maps and Navigation by Anita Ganeri

Tools of Navigation: A Kid’s Guide to the History and Science of Finding Your Way by Books on Navigation: Rachel Dickinson. This one is a favorite of Fiction: mine focusing on the history of navigation and the tools used. There is also a section on Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne – activities and information about explorers. The story of a man and his servant to take a bet to travel around the world in 80 days. The Basic Essentials of Map and Compass by Cliff Jacobson The Captain’s Dog: My Journey with the Lewis and Clark Tribe by Roland Smith and Seaman: Wilderness Navigator by David Seidman and The Dog Who Explored the West with Lewis Paul Cleveland- written as a hiker survival guide with some great tips on using a and Clark by Gail Langer Karwoski compass. Carry On Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham about Nathaniel Bowditch who was the first Activities: American Navigator and wrote a book called The American Practical Navigator still used by Compass Sighting - also known as maritime navigators today. It was the first triangulation - which is using two points to American publication on navigation. My kids determine your location using a compass, a map, and a pencil. We did this last summer really loved this book. with our kids at Lake Ontario. The kids had a great time following directions. Non-Fiction: P. 52

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The Institute of Navigation has a chart of lessons available as well including detailed instructions on how to do Triangulation. We do this often using trail maps while we are hiking.

and the maximum height of the North Star at night. It is easiest to do this on a beach (large lake or ocean) where you can site off the water, but you can do it in your backyard using a level as well. The trick is finding a sextant!

Our next sighting activity will be finding a specific spot on a map rather than finding where Dead Reckoning- used by Lewis and Clark. This we are on the map using the local ball fields method is dependent on being able to make and sight lines to specific objects on the field. continuous measurements of course and distance traveled. You start at a known point and Make your own compass- to find magnetic measure your course and distance from the north or south (depending on where you live) point on a chart. Your course is measured by a We made our own compass using a needle, a compass and your distance is determined by cork, a magnet, and a dish of water when we the speed of the vessel times the time traveled. were studying Explorers. Here’s how to make t h e c o m p a s s : We plan to try out a dead reckoning exercise in 1. Run a magnet over the needle a few times, the ball fields a few blocks away from our always in the same direction. This will magnet- home. The plan is to have the kids walk paces ize the needle. Put the needle through a piece in particular directions and have them find an object (like a coupon to our local ice cream of cork. stand). 2. Float the cork and needle in your cup of waUse GPS- if you have access to a handheld GPS ter so the floating needle lies roughly parallel unit, you can have your kids use the GPS to find to the surface of the water. a waypoint (a set of coordinates that identify a 3. Place your 'compass' on a still surface and point). watch what happens. The needle should turn Determine magnetic deviation- the error of a to point towards the nearest magnetic pole - compass due to magnetic deviation. On our fernorth or south as the case may be. ry ride from the US to Kingston, Ontario, last summer (across the St. Laurence Seaway) we 4. If you want to investigate further, place a attempted to test our compasses for magnetic magnet near your compass and watch what deviation. Apparently, there is an anomaly in happens. How close/far does the magnet have the Kingston Harbor which causes a compass to to be to have an effect? turn away from magnetic north. If you don’t Use a sextant- to sight the North Star to meas- find yourself in Kingston Harbor, you can just ure your latitude. You can determine this using run a magnet near your compass and see what the maximum height of the sun during the day happens. What does this mean for navigators? Heart of the Matter

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and there is a great website on using the A chip log is a piece of wood tied to a rope program in the classroom. which has knots at regular intervals. See if you Google Earth Lessons – a great resource for can research how to use the knots in the rope using Google Earth in the classroom and to determine nautical speed in knots! homeschools. Lessons are organized in various

Use a chip log—to determine boat speed.

manners depending on how you want your to recognize student to use them. Student controlled constellations through the seasons and see lessons are great for homeschoolers. how navigators used the stars to stay on One example from Google Earth course. Lessons related to navigation is Drake’s Circumnavigation which Navigation where you is a virtual tour of this first trip are—how was your state around the world. There’s or area explored? Here in information including primary NY, Henry Hudson was sources to learn more about among the first Europeans this incredible feat. Students to explore NY. Who explored can even make their own where you live? Study more Google Earth tour of the about him. Where was he circumnavigation using the raw from? Who traveled with data they are given. him? What navigational




tools did he have at the time?

Determine Magnetic Declination— this is the difference between magnetic north (or south) on your compass and true north (south). This will vary depending both on where you are and over time. You can usually find the magnetic declination on USGS maps for wilderness or navigational use. We have one of some local forest lands which include the magnetic declination as part of the map’s key. If you can’t find out specifically what it is where you are, just investigate what it means and how to find out what it is and why it’s important.

A quick web search revealed lots of resources on navigation:

There is a lot to explore on this website which I’m sure Google Earth enthusiasts will enjoy! You can use Google Earth to find latitude and longitude from National Geographic Expeditions. Find out more about marine navigation from NOAA using a nautical chart to plot a course. One of the things I really enjoy about a unit study is that it doesn’t take a lot of time and preparation to research a topic and see what comes from it. Some of our best homeschooling moments come from investigating an interest. I hope that what I’ve shared with you in this study will inspire you and your family to enjoy some time exploring together using some navigational techniques.

A long time favorite of mine is Google Earth Bon voyage!

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By Jim and Sheila Carroll, Living Books Curriculum, Previously published in The LINK Homeschool Magazine

Mary Jane hears a tapping sound coming from the direction of her son, David, who has spastic cystic fibrosis. He cannot roll, sit, walk or speak; yet he is enjoying reading. The tap is his signal for mom to turn the page. Chris’ seventeen-year old son, Tim, has fetal alcohol syndrome He experiences difficulty focusing on tasks. Chris uses great literature and frequent lessons changes. Chris’ other son, eleven-year old Steven, has dysgraphia, yet does copywork quite well, if it is read aloud. Cheri is at the bookstore buying great literature in hardback because the print is larger and works better for her son, who struggles with writing and reading. Megan watches the clock and changes lessons every five minutes for her ADHD child. Mary Ellen is overseeing her daughter, who has a brain disorder, draw and write in her nature journal.

were no different from their bodies; both require a highly nutritious, varied diet. The proper diet of the mind, she taught, is ideas, the best and the greatest ideas from the finest literature. Hence, the concept of “living books,” books of a high literary quality, by an author with a passion for the subject, who makes the information or story come alive. Ms. Mason expressed her educational principles in the motto, “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.” By this she meant that when the atmosphere in the teaching home is positive, realistic, and nonjudgmental the child can learn. When the discipline of good habits, such as attention, concentration, truthfulness, self-control, and unselfishness are in place, they foster learning. Moreover, when life is embraced as an opportunity for learning, then education can encompass many things including living ideas found in great books, Scripture, and the lives of worthy people and life experiences.

What do all these mothers have in common? They are homeschooling their special needs child using Charlotte Mason’s methods. Moreover, they will tell you that using CM Charlotte Mason was aware of the needs of methods transformed their homeschools. children with learning disabilities. Then, as now, there were children who needed What is a Charlotte Mason education? individual help to learn. She encouraged a Charlotte Mason (1842-1923) was a British stress-free atmosphere, simple hands-on reformer and pioneer in the field of education. materials, plenty of outdoors time and a Her concept of “living books and real life gentle, loving approach to instruction. Dr. experiences” influenced many educators in Downes, a friend of Charlotte Mason, Great Britain. Mason believed children’s minds expressed it beautifully:

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“Only let us have patience; let us make allowance for their difficulties; let us begin with concrete rather than abstract ideas; let us develop their bodies; and through their games and recreations let us try to find some portal to the slumbering intellect; above all, let us watch over their moral nature with even greater jealousy than we do in the case of ordinary children.” The Parents' Review, Volume VII, Nov. 4, 1897

they can to get the help and information they need. Online discussion groups are one way to fill this critical need.

What are your child’s special needs?

What kind of adjustments is necessary for you to use a living books method?

Has CM helped you to homeschool your special needs child?

The overwhelming response was “yes.” Megan explained that CM helped her to see her child as a whole person. Cheri said, “So many CM techniques are based on the way children How do homeschooling mothers today use learn…and they are especially effective with Charlotte Mason’s methods with their special special needs kids.” needs children? We decided to ask them. We Mary Jane felt that CM reinforced what she went to an online parent support group to already felt in her heart, “Yes. I believe the invite mothers to volunteer to be interviewed. one thing her philosophy did for me was Six mothers agreed. Each received seven reinforce what I had already been led by the questions. The overriding consensus was that Lord to do with my very special, vulnerable Charlotte Mason’s methods are not only child, and that is mostly a relaxed teaching helpful but essential to success with their and learning environment where we can use special needs child. We share with you the our own home and life experiences to educate results of the interview: him.”

Each mother has at least one special needs child and some mothers have more than one. The disorders of their children are moderate to severe and include autism, Asperger Syndrome, quadriplegic cystic fibrosis, ADHD, delayed speech, CAPD—a central auditory processing disorder—and dysgraphia and dyslexia.

Most mothers felt they needed to adapt or adjust their child’s work in order to meet a specific learning need. Cheri, mentioned earlier, says, “We never use a textbook. I knew from the start it would not work with my child.” Instead, she buys hardback books because the print is larger as an aid to her child How did you learn about the educational who has visual discrimination difficulties. philosophy of Charlotte Mason? Mary Jane, whose son David is quadriplegic, Most said they learned of CM through online finds that tapping out a response using a discussion groups. Parents of special needs device positioned on his head enables him to children often find there is no one in their learn grammar and oral expression. “As he community or circle of friends who can attempts to say something on his device, we understand or help. They learn to be proactive get the idea, then go back and model the by asking questions and researching where appropriate way of saying it.”

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Another mom, Tammy, said concerning her autistic daughter, “Language delays hinder Pamela from saying all she knows. Glimpses of her inner life fortify my faith. For example, when we read the reunion of Miriam and Susanna in Calico Captive, Pamela squealed with delight. Her reaction gave me evidence of things not seen. She borrows phrases from books to use as part of her oral selfstimulation, which later blossoms into useful language.”

Maryellen found narration helped her special needs child “to go over information in his mind and to organize and sequence information, which used to be a challenge area.”


Habit training is especially important with special needs children. Cheri points out that they "crave" structure, since they tend to have poor organizational skills. Maryellen found Charlotte Mason’s teaching on habit training changed her life as it gave her the understanding how to train her children in helpful habits both in the family circle and in learning.

Nature study

Frequent times in the out-of-doors and close study of some natural tree, plant or animal is a key experience in CM education. Many special needs children do well with this very hands-on activity. However, keeping a nature journal was often less successful because Which of the following methods do you use many special needs children have trouble regularly: living books, narration, nature with fine motor skills and attention to detail. study, habit training, picture study, copy One mother used it as the basis for science work, dictation, and short lessons? study; another found that looking out the Living books back window to see the nature there could be All those interviewed indicated that they use a form of nature study. All agreed it was chalhigh-quality literature, often reading aloud lenging to get outside regularly because of other demands and commitments. for all lessons. Tammy emphasized, “They are the basis of all our schooling.” Habit Training

Cheri adapted the use of “…day-after narrations. When we first started, my child needed time to process the story, so I did what I call ‘day after’ narrations. This allowed my child time to think through the story and give a much more effective narration. Now, after a few years of practice, my child is able to give narrations as soon as the reading is finished.” Tammy thought she was not effective in using narration, until she discovered “there are two big steps in narration: reading to know and telling what you know.” By breaking down the process into two parts, Tammy was able to help her daughter bridge the gap by first focusing on understanding, then on telling.

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Staying on task and finishing work was one habit in particular that many found important. Cheri creates a lesson plan with a schedule organized around 15-30 minute segments for her middle school child. “Having him know what’s coming next is a huge help and is a way of helping him achieve a level of responsibility for his own work.”

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Heart of the Matter

Picture Study Charlotte Mason recommended all children learn to enjoy great art. In the PNEU schools, students would live with a good reproduction of a well-know work or art for a week or so, taking in every detail. Then the picture would be covered and the children were to describe it from memory.

Mary Jane found this was something that came naturally. “This we have always done. I have to look for opportune times to teach something, make the point, and work for a little bit of feedback.” Tammy agrees. “Short lessons are critical for the special needs child. It helps keep their minds fresh for the task and limits the amount of frustration for challenging subjects and tasks. I split math into two short lessons, twice a day just so she would not feel bogged down by too long of a lesson but she needed more practice.” Megan saw short lessons were a huge help. “I sometimes use 5-minute lessons. Breaking it down into small, learning chunks is essential.”

Not all mothers did picture study, but those that did found their homeschooling experience considerably enriched. A variation of picture study that Cheri uses is to “make art cards and allow the children to play games, like Old Maid and Concentration. It is amazing how the children will form their own relationships with the pictures just by playing Patience and care games with them.” Copywork and dictation Charlotte Mason encouraged taking selections for copywork and dictation from the literature currently being studied. For Maryellen’s daughter copywork is one of her strong areas. “It gives her a clear picture of what is expected. We sometimes use sand on a cookie sheet to do the copywork.” However, Tammy’s daughter Pamela does dictation or copywork as part of a specialized language instruction program to teach new language structure. Tammy hopes later to move into using living books. Short Lessons Charlotte Mason recommended lessons be no more than ten minutes in length for a child under the age of eight and twenty minutes for the elementary years. Each lesson should be as different as possible from the one before. When the lessons are short and varied, a child’s interest is usually fresh and ready for what comes next. Heart of the Matter

For these mothers the best approach is a Charlotte Mason education. It encourages a relaxed atmosphere, literature to enjoy, developmentally appropriate learning tasks and teaching to their child’s strengths. It was an honor to know these mothers and learn of their struggles and triumphs. We saw the strongest factor ensuring success was the mothers themselves. Their patience and care and their willingness to work tirelessly on behalf of their child was a moving testament to the power of love. If you would like to read more on how parents of Charlotte Mason’s PNEU School viewed learning disabilities, see “Backward Children”, The Parent’s Review, Volume VIII, No. 4, 1987, pgs. 255-263 and “The History of a Backward Child”, The Parents’ Review, Volume III, No. 8; 1892-1893; page 600-609. Both of these articles are online at Ambleside Online,

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PURPOSE/OBJECTIVE: By Jean Henrich, Students will simulate and observe how pattern and color can provide butterflies with protection in different settings. OVERVIEW Pattern and color play an important part in how butterflies protect themselves from predators. The following activity will give you an opportunity to create butterflies that show mimicry through camouflage or through warning/poison. MIMICRY – is copying another creature’s natural defenses. The caterpillar or butterfly will mimic the color pattern, form or behavior of another creature or object in nature. Mimicry can help keep the caterpillar or butterfly remains safe or can help the creature in its search for food.

There are three main types of mimicry: Batesian, Muellerian and Self mimicry. The following is a definition of Batesian & Muellerian mimicry.

Müllerian mimicry is a natural phenomenon when two or more harmful species, that may or may not be closely related and share one or more common predators, have come to mimic each other's warning signals. It is named after the German naturalist Fritz Müller, who first proposed the concept in 1878.[2][3] It can be contrasted with Batesian mimicry, where a harmless organism imitating the protected species is referred to as the mimic and the dangerous one being imitated the model. Müllerian mimicry differs because both parties are harmful; each mimics the other species, while serving as a model at the same time. Taken from: One of the best examples of Batesian mimicry is the toxic tasting monarch butterfly and its mimic the viceroy butterfly. The viceroy mimics the “aposematic” color pattern of the monarch, but it is not toxic. MATERIALS: Scissors Magic markers “Butterfly” logbook & pen Pictures of butterflies Clear stick pins Copy machine P. 60


1 copy of the butterfly pattern sheet Watercolor paper Watercolor paints – (Various colors, both bright Warning) colors and natural shades (Continued on the following page) 2011 Heart of the Matter

3. Decorate the surface of the watercolor paper by dropping different colors onto the WITH THE ASSISTANCE OF AN ADULT: dampened paper. Fold the pattern sheet over 1. Make 1 copy of the butterfly pattern at the and “squish” the two sides together. Unfold end of this article. Enlarge and reduce this the sheets and let dry. pattern to represent different sizes of 4. Create “symmetrical” patterns using the butterflies. camouflage and warning colors paints. 2. Look at pictures of butterfly wings and then select different water color combinations 5. Make at least 3 butterflies featuring that represent. Shown below are examples of “camouflage” coloring. Vary the shades. the different colors. We selected shades of 6. Make at least 3 butterflies featuring brown, green, orange, and black. “warning” coloring. Vary the shades. PROCEDURE



Bright combinations of black,

Shades of nature - browns, greens etc

red, Orange, yellow, and blue


PROCEDURE and warning colors. Recreate the patterns using magic markers, crayons or paint. For example, draw in the “veins” and spots of the different species. Draw in the center 8. Look at pictures of butterfly body of the butterflies with wings that feature camouflage appropriate colors. Heart of the Matter April 2011 7. Fold the watercolor paper in half again. Position the previously cut butterfly on one half of the folded sheet of paper and cut out the shape.

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Once you have made 11. In your butterfly log book, make five colall your butterflies, write umns. Label a separate column for each locaa different number and tion - tree trunk, grass, rock, dirt, and bush. either a letter (W) for (See end of article for sample layout for rewarning or a (C) for camcording data.) ouflage on the back of 12. Ask someone who does not know where each butterfly. For example, 1C or 1W. We you placed the butterflies to assist you with used 1C for Butterfly #1 and camouflage. the next step of the experiment. 10. Select one place at a time and place all *Position the person approximately 20 feet the butterflies at the same time in one of the from where you placed the butterflies. following locations – these are examples, you *Ask the individual to go and find each of the can pick locations that best suit your area: butterflies. Based on which ones they find Tree trunk first, stack them in order of discovery. Grass *Record their collection on your log book. Rock Dirt

*Repeat this process for placing the butterflies in different locations.



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13. Compare your results. Then answer the following questions: How did the coloring and patterns affect which butterflies were discovered first? Did the placement of the butterflies in different locations change the order in

which they were found? For example, were they able to find the warning butterflies easier in the grass or on the tree trunk? Which coloring (warning or camouflage) seemed most effective in all locations?

EXPLANATION-RESULTS-CONCLUSION Natural colors and patterns create better camouflage than do bright “warning colors�. For caterpillars and butterflies that want to hide, natural colors are best. Bright warning colors and patterns are easy to spot. Caterpillars and butterflies that want to avoid attack and either taste or smell bad will use these colors to quickly warn a predator to stay away. Butterfly Log Book Example: Write the butterfly number and letter code in sequence under each category as each butterfly is found. This example demonstrates that Butterfly C1 was found first, Butterfly C3 was found second, Butterfly W2 was found third, Butterfly W5 was found fourth, and Butterfly C4 was found fifth. TREE TRUNK Butterfly C1 - #1




Butterfly C3 - #2 Butterfly W5 -#4 Butterfly W2 - #3 Butterfly C4 - #5

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Butterfly Pattern Enlarge or reduce to make a variety of different types of butterflies.

MOODLE YOUR NOODLE - By Jean Henrich Are you looking for a way to offer amazing learning in one great package? Do you want live classes, forums, opportunities for chats, downloadable PDF files, and links to other websites and much, much more for your young people?

Once students register for a class, they will be given access by the teacher (yours truly) with a User Name and Password.

Then its time to MOODLE YOUR NOODLE!

Click here to visit www.Enrichment4You for more of our hands-on projects and see u p c o m i n g c o u rs e o f fe r i n gs h e re : Moodle Classes

So what is MOODLE? Well, it’s just about the coolest thing for engaging young people and pleasing their parent all in a wonderful one location package.

Also, sign up for our newsletter. We will be providing information regarding these classes as they are developed. Newsletter: Subscribe Here

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Jim and Sheila

Carroll are homeschooling parents and founders of Living Books Curriculum, a literature rich curriculum inspired by the work of Charlotte Mason. LBC offers complete curriculum and individual study guides using Charlotte Mason’s time-tested methods. Jim is a professor of Educational Psychology. Sheila is a writer and storyteller with degrees in Children’s Literature and Educational Leadership. Visit their website at The proceeds of their curriculum support bringing Charlotte Mason education to children in developing nations. To learn more:


is a British ex-pat living in Japan and a Montessori mama to Ebi-kun. She designs and sells sewing patterns, handmade goods and Japanese fabric in her Etsy Store and blogs at A Bit Of This and A Bit Of That . In her spare time she runs The Montessori Goldmine, which is a collective of Montessori blogs from around the globe.

Carol Topp,

CPA is an author and accountant bringing cents and sensibility to families, small/micro business owners, and nonprofit organizations. Through her writing, speaking and consulting, Carol converts tax rules and business language into clear, easy-to-understand English. She is the is the author several books including the Micro Business for Teens series, Homeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out and is currently working on Business Tips and Taxes for Writers for release in June 2011. Carol worked for the US Navy as a cost analyst before obtaining her CPA license in 2000. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband and two daughters, both homeschool graduates. You can find her site at Carol Topp, CPA

"Common Sense Solutions" Debbie Strayer

is a veteran educator, speaker, author and home educator. She enjoys spending time with her husband of thirty years and her grown children. Dr. Ruth Beechick, too, has spent many years teaching and writing on education. She specializes in curriculum and in how children learn. She is mother of two and grandmother of four and loves working together with Debbie because they think alike on education matters. For more books and articles, see

Kimberly Bredberg

has been a homeschool mom for 16 years and is an advocate for reform in education. Her book, Habits of Being: Artifacts from the Classroom Guild, is forthcoming this spring. She is a founding partner of Blackbird & Company Educational Press and and is a regular contributor to as well as being involved in developing an innovative line of curriculum. Her writing and visual art students have received numerous awards including regional and national recognition by the Scholastic Alliance for Arts and Writing and have been published in online and in-print journals. Long ago the California resident, mother of four, received her Bachelor of Arts degree in biological psychology and fine art, graduate training in clinical art therapy, and more recently earned her MFA in creative writing.

Maggie Hogan

is an author, publisher, and nationally recognized speaker who is easily distracted by all things geography, history and science–related. She lives in Dover, DE with her husband, Bob and two spoiled cats. She has transformed the barn on her property into an office which houses Bright Ideas Press, a home school company dedicated to bringing the best practical, fun, and affordable materials to the homeschool market. Maggie is coauthor of The Ultimate Geography and Timeline Guide, Young Scholars Guide to Composers and other homeschooling books. When not reading, writing, or playing with her grandbaby, you can find her drooling over travel magazines.

Jenny Penton

is a homeschooling mother of seven children and loves the closeness that being home with them provides. Un-schooling is how they live and learn and she blogs about their learning experiences at Jenny also has a passion for inspiring women to become master life planners and that includes menu planning. Check out her sites for life planning and her inspiring recipes on her food blog at and

Dr. Jay L. Wile

holds an earned Ph.D. in nuclear chemistry and a B.S. in chemistry, both from the University of Rochester. He is best known for his award-winning “Exploring Creation With...” series of science textbooks. Dr. Wile and his wife of more than 25 years, Kathleen, homeschooled their daughter, Dawn, from the time they adopted her until she graduated high school. Dawn is a Butler University graduate and is currently working in the field of veterinary medicine. You can visit Dr. Wile on the web at Click on "blog" to read Dr. Wile's thoughts on a wide range of issues.

Bethany LeBedz

is a veteran homeschooler, professional editor, writer, and speaker. You can check out her business website at Bethany contributes regularly to Heart of the Matter Online, has a regular column in the Home School Enrichment magazine, and occasionally writes for other magazines, websites, and newsletters. She lives in North Carolina with her family and she enjoys music, reading, scrapbooking, sewing, genealogy, and keeping up with friends in her spare time. Be sure to follow her blog, Confessions of an Organized Homeschool Mom, at


is a homeschooling mom of four kids ranging from middle school to preschool and wife to a handsome chemical engineer. Before raising a family, she taught middle school science (with a BS in biological sciences) and has a masters degree in curriculum and instruction secondary education. Now teaching at home means the chance to provide the extraordinary for her children. She’s been homeschooling five years and you can read about those adventures on her blog, Blog She Wrote.

Dianne Craft,

a former homeschooling mother, has a Masters in Special Education and is director of the clinic Child Diagnostics, Inc., in Littleton, CO. She speaks at homeschool conventions around the US. For more articles written by Dianne on children and learning, and some teaching videos, visit her website: Dianne is also a Learning Specialist for HSLDA.

Tricia Hodges

faces a daily dose of chaos homeschooling five children – preschoolers to middle schoolers. Before her real job as a wife and mother, she was an editor. Now she uses her editing marks on schoolwork and proofreads food labels for allergens. The biggest lesson she's learned? At the end of the day – when the dishes are put away and the children are tucked in bed – truly what matters is each child’s relationship with the Lord. Raising children is a God-given privilege and, folks, the time is short. Tricia writes about practical homeschooling strategies, mixing up a classical and Charlotte Mason style. From her southern roots, she shares frugal recipes and getit-on-the-table strategies in hopes of keeping all those tummies full. It’s truly a mixture at her family blog, Hodgepodge. She also contributes a blend of writing at Habits for a Happy Home, Passionate Purposeful Parenting, The CurriculumChoice and $5 Dinners. Tricia is also known as Hodgepodgemom.

Debra Anderson

has three sons ages 11 and younger. Her passions are education, mentoring, her husband, writing, church ministry and missional living — not in that order. She has her seminary Masters degree in Christian Education, is married to her pastor-husband of 16 years, and resides in their newish home in Denver, CO. In spite of moves between four different states, she has always home educated her boys — even on the hard days. She maintains a blog at

Katie Kubesh

is co-owner and writer/researcher for In the Hands of a Child. A mom of three, Katie uses her knowledge and creativity to help create Ready-to-Assemble Lapbook Project Packs and teach others how to incorporate lapbooking into their curriculum. She resides in Northern Michigan with her husband and three daughters. Recognizing that hands-on projects are essential to the learning experience, In the Hands of a Child has created Project Packs that go beyond the hands-on aspect. They have taken the preparation time out of the parent/teacher job description with Complete Ready to Assemble Lapbook-style units that are available in Ebook, Printed Book, and CD formats. Please visit their website at

Lee Binz, The HomeScholar

helps parents homeschool high school and is a leading internet home school resource helping parents homeschool to college. She is an expert in how to craft a winning homeschool transcripts. She has an awardwinning Christian homeschool blog and one of the most popular homeschool newsletters available. Lee is a dynamic speaker at homeschooling conventions as well as homeschooling support groups. Check out her free minicourse and training webinar on how to give homeschool credit in high school. You can find Lee online at and on

Marie-Claire Moreau

is a long-time homeschooler and recognized advisor, coach, and mentor to homeschooling families across the Country. Having homeschooled preschoolers through high schoolers who have been accepted into college, Dr. Moreau devotes her efforts to empowering other parents to do the same. Through her writing, workshops and discussion groups, she strives to provide resources, information, encouragement and support to families raising the next generation of scholars. Check out Dr. Moreau's web site to read more. Look for her new book, "Suddenly Homeschooling" (Wyatt Mackenzie, 2011) coming soon!

Heart of the Matter Online Magazine, April 2011  

Heart of the Matter Online Magazine, April 2011