Friday, March 25, 2016


Putting the book down for months, yea, even years at the time, I found it so boring. Yet curiosity spurred me on time and time again. I would pick it up, read a chapter or two, then leave it for months on end again. The greatest American novel they proclaimed. I HAD to find out why.

Some say they will not read a book if the first chapter doesn't grab their attention. Some will devote only a paragraph to their decision. Others will give the author only a sentence of a chance. I find those that grab and keep one's attention so easily are rarely more substantial than an evening's television show, mere fluff and twaddle. It doesn't grab you deep down, sit in your soul, and give you profound ponderance.

Yet I have found that my favorite books are books that I persevered through, determined to find out what made it such a classic. One of my favorites is A Tale of Two Cities, during which I was quite confused as to who was who and what exactly was going on, especially all that knitting. But by the end, as everything began to tie up neatly, and began to really make sense, it ranked higher and higher on my list of favorites.

Of course, A Tale of Two Cities has the most famous first paragraph aswell as the most famous ending paragraph. Neither could be considered uninteresting. But nowadays, to our poorly educated minds, that first paragraph is rather daunting. 

The books that stick with you, that add something to your heart and your life, that still mean something to you years later, those are the books that are worth persevering through that first sentence, paragraph, and chapter, even if it seems too difficult, too boring, or too anything. These are the books worthy to be called classics.

And so, Moby-Dick, so boring in the middle hundred or so chapters, finally grabs my attention in the last thirty chapters and now isn't boring at all, rather it is quite meaningful and profound. I will definitely call it a classic and a favorite.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Persistence. That long awaited day.

He learned how to read very early. Pointing to words and asking what they were at 18 months old soon led to asking what the letters were and how they worked. So he read his first book the week he turned three. At four, his favorite game was one he made up and called the “rhyming game.” He would write an ending sound like at, or ack, on the white board and we would take turns writing words that rhymed. He started simple with cat, rat, fat, and back, rack, track, but then kept going until he was soon using homophones and multi-syllabic words. I never pushed, but just continued to play games with him.

So, imagine my surprise when he got older and began really reading whole books, that he hated it. He hated it and he told me so every day. He took every opportunity to tell anyone he met how much he hated reading. I, as a teacher, had failed. When it was time for reading, he complained. When it was time to read science, he complained. When it was time to read history, he complained.

I talked it over with friends and family and the advice I received repeatedly was that some people just don't like to read and that's just the way it is. I refused to accept that. I plugged away and kept insisting on that 30 minutes a day for reading. I honestly believe that anyone who can read well, will enjoy reading when they find that certain something that sparks an interest in them. Our friendly bookmobile lady took up the case with me to find that spark for him. Any interest I heard him mention, I would ask her to bring books on that subject. We've tried basketball, football, martial arts, war books, books on how things work, solar system, joke books and anatomy. He enjoys all of those topics, but still didn't want to read about them.

Lately she's been bringing him dog books. He would read a chapter and put it down. He did enjoy one that was full of charts and facts about various dog breeds. So he read the charts.

Then she brought The Good Dog by Avi, a book written from the dog's point of view. The dog doesn't know what to call things, so he names them for what they do. A glow box for television, a staring paper for newspaper, a freeze box for refrigerator, and human pup for a boy. During reading time, he read a chapter. The next day, he read another. All week he read the entire 30 minutes without complaint. And today, yes, today was the day my persistence paid off and he said, “Can we do reading first? I like this book.” Oh, what music to my ears! The words I have longed for! And then for icing on the cake, when the timer went off, he asked if he could keep reading. Yes, my boy, yes! Today will be a reading holiday! Read as long as you like.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Update on Third Grade Plans for 2014-15

Several subjects had me guessing when I posted our plans for this school year back in July, so I thought it was time for an update since writing this post.

Our first formal history curriculum this year was The Story of the World (vol 1) by Susan Wise Bauer. I wasn't sure if we would like it or not, but we've been pleasantly surprised. The lessons are short and engaging, which he likes. The accompanying Activity Book has map work for every chapter, which I like. It's a keeper!

Hey, Andrew, Teach Me Some Greek has been a big hit. He breezed through Level 2 in just a few weeks and is working on Level 3. He is not happy that the higher level actually requires a bit of work, but on we go. The Level 2 book teaches a word and then has pages and pages of games, puzzles, and worksheets to help you really learn the word. So you don't actually have to try to learn the word, but you will learn it by completing all the pages of activities. Level 3 teaches you a new word, or ending, and then gives you just a page or two of activities to complete, so you do have to spend time purposely learning the new material.

Student didn't like doing Greek every single day of the week and wanted to vary days. He also wanted to pick up the Latin we had worked on last year and continue with that, so we are alternating days with Greek on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and Latin on Tuesday and Thursday.

We likewise alternate between history MWF and science TTh. Language Arts has us doing Writing with Ease on MW and Winston Grammar on TTh. This really helps us to be able to fit more things that we want to do in our schedule without having a list as long as your arm to do each day. The things we do every day are Bible, read aloud, and quiet reading. So our daily schedule looks something like this:


Read aloud time varies and is most often during or after lunch. The student is learning the mandolin, as well as piano and guitar, so we practice those in the afternoon.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Hey, Andrew

Hey Andrew, Teach Me Some Greek, level 2, has been loads of fun. Five weeks into school and we've almost finished learning it. Not every page has been done, but most of the material has been learned. It teaches the alphabet, the sounds of the letters, and eleven basic words. All that's left to do is learn to spell those eleven words including their diacritical marks. We don't know what the marks mean yet, and there seem to be lots of them, but it is important to learn the marks along with the spelling of the words. There are accent marks above some letters and apostrophes above others, while still some have a backwards apostrophe, and yet others have a rainbow type semi-circle. I wonder how many more there may be, since these four are on the first eleven words we're learning.

My third grader came up with the idea to print out the letters of the alphabet, laminate them, and add velcro to the back so we could play a spelling game with the words. So we worked on it for a few days and came up with this.

The word spelled on the red mat is anthropos, meaning 'a man,' and has two diacritical marks over the 'a.'  We laminated the mats, so we can write the marks above the letters with dry erase markers. It only took us one day to decide that we really wasted our time with all the velcro because it is aggravating to pull back apart. We should have left the velcro off completely, or should have used magnetic squares so we could spell on a cookie sheet or on the magnetic white board. We will fix that as soon as I can get some magnetic squares to put on the back..

In the meantime, we are having fun spelling our Greek vocabulary words. We take turns calling out a vocabulary word for each other to spell on the mat. We even hint to each other where to place the marks. If you are learning another language, you might consider making a spelling game too. It certainly makes studying a bit more palatable.

Happy Schooling,

*Please forgive my shaky pictures. Hope to soon get a phone with a stabilizer built in the camera.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Third Grade Planning

Several homeschool friends asked me to share about our homeschool. So while I am planning this year, I thought I'd share what I have so far. Even the best laid plans get changed periodically throughout the year and no doubt this one will get changed many times, but this is what we are starting with.

We begin our day with CIRCLE TIME. This includes Bible, prayer, memory work, and read aloud. 

Bible is fairly self-explanatory, we read the Bible together and discuss it. We will start with Genesis 1 through 11 because we will be studying ancient history and starting at the beginning seems the proper place to start. 

Prayer. We have a ring with one inch square cards on it and each card has the name of a person or family that we want to prayer for. We flip to a new card each morning, so that all our friends and family get prayed for at least once a month. When we run into someone who asks for our prayers, after we pray for them initially, the student loves to rush home to make a card with their name on it. We love to play a few praise and worship songs on youtube also, but I have found that this is one place where we can lose our day. We can sing and sing and sing and then our day is gone. If we could discipline ourselves to stop at 2 songs, this would work better.

Memory Work is a favorite. We choose things we want to memorize and then we work on it together. We have a binder where we keep what we are currently working on and the past things we've learned so that we can review them. We have learned scripture, poetry, and several lists like the books of the Bible, the disciples, and the states and capitals.

Read Aloud is a time for me to read aloud great literature that we can enjoy together. I gather books from the 1000 Good Books list (, Newbery book lists (, and reading lists from curriculum providers like Sonlight ( I include living books about science, history, geography, and others.  We also take turns choosing which book to read next, so everyone has a chance to be really excited about starting a new book. This is a tradition that we continue all the way through high school. It is a special time of bonding and I think all my students have sweet memories of this time.

MATH is simply Math-U-See ( We work on math 4 days a week. We finished half of the Epsilon book last year (changing in January), so we will pick up where we left off in May.

LANGUAGE ARTS Again, because we started new books in January last year, we finished half of the books, so we will start out finishing the other half of  Writing with Ease and Rod & Staff grammar. We will do two lessons in each one two days a week. There is plenty of spelling, hand writing, copy work, dictation, and narration in this, but there will be more in the content areas also.

HISTORY This is our first time using a formal history course instead of reading living books about history. Not sure if I am going to like it or dump it, but here it is. I had slowly collected all the volumes of The Story of the World through the years before I found out that they are not implicitly Christian. I explained this to my student and told him he could help me look for errors that don't agree with the Word of God, so he is excited about doing that.

SCIENCE Previously, I had chosen living books about science and scientists to be included in our read alouds and he and his dad read from Jeanne Fulbright's Apologia series each night at bedtime. They will continue this special time of sharing science together and a new science avenue this year will be studying the principles of flight with Grandpa in the afternoons.

GREEK We studied Latin last year with Latina Christiana from Memoria Press. He loved doing Latin and learned quickly. However, I particularly feel led to get started in Koine Greek this year so that he will eventually be able to study the New Testament in the original language for himself. We will start with Level 2 of Hey Andrew, Teach Me Some Greek. God has great plans for him and I am here to help guide his learning and preparation for that. We both want to still do some Latin as well, so we'll perhaps bring that back in later this year, or wait till next year.

JOURNAL WRITING A time of free writing. Students can write what they want in a relaxed atmosphere. I will help with spelling, punctuation, and formatting upon request. 

QUIET READING One of my favorite times of day. I call for everyone to go to the bathroom, get a drink of water, and then bring the book of their choice to the table. Then I set the timer and no one talks or gets up while we all get to read quietly. The exception is to ask me for help with an unknown word. The time allotted for this corresponds with their grade level. At the beginning of second grade, I begin with 10 minutes and then extend it by 1 minute each week or two until they can concentrate on their reading for 20 minutes. A second grader should be able to read independently for 20 minutes by the end of second grade. A third grade reads for 30 minutes, fourth grader 40 minutes, and so on. These times are guidelines and necessarily should be adjusted for each child's ability.

In an effort to lessen the school day and give more opportunity for personal responsibility, this year he will have an afternoon schedule (formally known as homework and chores). I will type a chart for him to keep track of his chores and piano and guitar practice times on his own.

Last, but not least, is FUN FRIDAYS. You may have noticed that many of our lessons are planned for four days a week. That is so we can include all those extras that there just isn't time for in the work week, but still an essential part of a good education. On Fun Friday, we get to learn a new piano lesson; a new guitar lesson; do some art and learn about great artists and their works; learn about music topics like instruments, genres, orchestras, and composers; do geography puzzles; and enjoy lots of online and youtube learning like Schoolhouse Rock and geography games and songs. Any of the Monday through Thursday academics that weren't completed then, have to be completed before Fun Friday can begin.

What do you have planned for the new school year? Does anyone have something unusual planned? God bless your new year and may you all grow closer to Him through your homeschool!


Monday, September 16, 2013

Living Books

Living books can be so enriching in our school in many ways besides the wonderful content we are reading. We can use passages from living books for copywork, spelling, grammar, dictation, and vocabulary. Today we made vocabulary cards that we can use in a variety of ways.

I see that the picture of the word cards isn't clear enough to read the words. 
The vocabulary words are intrigued, tantalizing, authoritative, perpetual, repetitions, queries,
 enthusiasm, participant, porcelain, scholar, persistent, reveled, reverie, and rebuttal.

We ran across a few words that the student struggled with in either pronunciation or definition while reading A Piece of The Mountain: The Story of Blaise Pascal. I typed up the words and cut them into pieces small enough to fit on some 2x2 inch card stock that I had. Taping one of each word on different colored cards will allow us to play 'concentration' with them.  Another activity will be to put them in alphabetical order. Over several days, we will write sentences with many of  the words and look up others in the dictionary. This student likes to read his words on video tape and play it back which gives another review. (This is fun for spelling words as well.)

Using words, sentences, and passages from books we are reading is a great way to make the learning more realistic and meaningful than using a workbook with unrelated words and exercises. Literature can definitely be used to teach more that one subject. This particular book is a biography of a mathematician and physicist so we are learning about history, math, and science while reading this too.
I would love to hear how you use living books in your school!

Friday, June 14, 2013


This time of year, hubby and I like to eat light and eat cool. A nice cool cantaloupe right out of the refrigerator makes a perfect supper on a hot Georgia day.

For years, we looked forward to this time of year, when we could stop by a road side stand, a pickup truck parked down on the corner as we traveled to town.We really miss visiting with Mr. Jake at his pickup truck as he picked out his best melons for us. We rarely see Mr. Jake anymore. He can't take the heat nowadays, but for years he was a landmark, a favorite past-time, and a good friend. I really should call and check on him and his wife. Good people.

One day while visiting with Mr. Jake, he told me about this Cantaloupe Pie his wife Leona made. What? Yep, he said, cantaloupe pie and he went to his truck pocket and got me a copy of the recipe.


1 cantaloupe
1/2 c. white sugar
8 TB flour (recipe didn't specify, but I think I used self-rising)
1/4 tsp salt
3 egg yolks
2 TB water
2 TB butter
1/4 tsp butter extract/flavoring
Meringue ingredients listed separately within text of directions.

Seed the cantaloupe and cut out the flesh. Cook the cantaloupe and mash it as it heats. Leave 2 cups of cantaloupe in the pan. Combine sugar, flour, and salt, pour in melted butter, beaten egg yolks and extract.
After mixing together, add to cantaloupe pulp in pan, stirring constantly and cook until thick and creamy over medium heat. Remove and pour into a baked pie crust (or graham cracker crust is good too).  Beat the egg whites with 1/4 tsp cream of tartar and 1/4 c. of sugar for a meringue. Pour over the pie and brown in a 400 degree oven until lightly browned. Remove and eat warm or chilled.