Mind Maps

I have become a Mind Mapping fool! This program is so easy to use and has helped me to organize and plan out every part of my life, especially our homeschool. I originally heard about this program through another homeschooling friend of mine, but I had dismissed its value for a long time. You see, I am very linear and just the thought of mind mapping seems very…well, flowery. I took one look at her mind map, and thought, “No way! That’s not for me!” But a voice in my head (thank you, God) told me to try it out. I did and I’m hooked! My maps are not as flowery and pretty as her maps. I have naturally given mine a linear look and feel.

Here are a few ways that I have mapped out our homeschooling journey so far:

  1. Our Fall Schedule

Fall 2015

This map is printed and pinned to my bulletin board for quick reference during the day.

2. Addition and Subtraction Games

These games are from Right Start’s Math Card Games book. This fall, we are memorizing our addition and subtraction math facts. Drills and timed tests can get pretty boring, so I have organized the games in the book for easy reference.

+ and - Games

3. Roman Empire Unit Study

For this unit we are studying Italy, then moving backwards in time to study the Roman Empire while we read Detectives in Toga. I have created 4 different maps for our Roman Empire Unit Study.

In this map, I have organized the Passport to Italy Unit Study by Amanda Bennet. It was taking us entirely too long to go through this study, so now I can use this map as a quick reference to pick and choose the topics I want the kids to cover. This map is huge and does not fit on my screen, so I have taken 2 snapshots of it.

Here is the bottom half of the map:

Bottom half of passport Italy

And here is the top half:

Top Half of passport

The next map I created is based on a Roman Empires lapbook that I purchased from CurrClick. We will be making this lapbook after we finish the Italy study. We will need to complete some of these topics before we begin our literature book, Detectives in Toga, so those topics are marked with a green flag. This map will help me quickly reference the topics and their page numbers in the study guide.

Roman Empire Workbook

The last map is a work in progress. I am only planning our Detectives in Toga journal entries one chapter at a time.

Detectives in Toga map

Notice the little arrow next to the Roman Empire sibling topic that is linked to the Setting subtopic. That arrow is a link to a website that we will use to do more research about the Roman Empire as we read the story.

Besides homeschooling, I am also using a shared mind map to organize our Vacation Bible School.

See! Even this left brained dominate, linear thinker has been able to organize all her marbles using mind maps.

1 Corinthians 14:40 But all things should be done decently and in order.

Happy Homeschooling!


Math Facts

This year, we are putting the math curriculum on the shelf, and focusing on memorizing our math facts; all of them: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Yes, even the 6 year olds!  My daughter is entering the fourth grade anyway, which is the typical grade in which the facts are solidified and memorized. I have never had my 11 year old actually memorize the facts, because of his learning challenges, but I do believe that he is now ready to do so. I am also amazed at how well the 6 year olds understand the math concepts already, just by using Khan Academy and Right Start. The kids are always drilling each other using their multiplication place mats, so even the twins already know quite a few of those facts.


Honestly, I am just tired of the kids relying on their abacuses to calculate a simple addition problem.


After they get these facts down, we can focus more on other math concepts using our beloved Right Start program. The less they have to calculate, the more they can focus on the why and how of the concept.

The plan is to focus on one operation per quarter.

  • Fall: Addition
  • Winter: Subtraction
  • Spring: Multiplication
  • Summer: Division

This is a very rough plan, we will mostly move at the pace of our fourth grader. I am not concerned if the twins totally memorize all of them, since they are so young and have a lot more time to do so, but I am willing to bet, they will be able to keep up. Since subtraction and division are just a matter of undoing addition and multiplication, they shouldn’t take as long, so we may even be finished at the end of spring.

Here are a couple of sites that I am using for reference and help:

Michele’s Math

Math Aids

My overall objectives are as follows:

  • Teach the pattern or concept
  • Practice with worksheets
  • Use games for reinforcement
  • Drill using flash cards
  • Master time tests
  • Orally assess each student for mastery

Teaching the pattern or concept will be quick. They already know what addition and subtraction are, so this will just be for review and should only take about 5 or 10 minutes. The concepts of multiplication and division are a bit newer, especially for the twins, but again, it is not the goal that they completely understand what to do. I just want them to know the fact. They have lots of time to understand the why.

Practice will come in the form of worksheets, games and flash cards. Mastery will be assessed using timed tests from the math aids site and by asking the math questions orally in random order.

Our first plans for addition fact mastery are as follows:

  • Daily write out and say the odds and even numbers to 20 forward and backward until mastered.
  • Make an addition table in their math journal.
  • Add and subtract by 1s and 2s using a number line
  • Relate adding and subtracting by 2s using the number line of odd and even numbers.
  • Master adding and subtracting 1s using 1 minute timed drill.
  • Master adding and subtracting 2s using 1 minute timed drill.
  • Master adding and subtracting 1s and 2s using 3 minute timed drill.
  • Orally assess mastery of adding and subtracting 1s and 2s.

This really shouldn’t take longer than a week or 2, but I’ll let you know just how long it actually does take. While they all understand the concept already, it’s the fluency that will take the longest to develop.

The kids will keep track of their progress by highlighting the facts memorized on their addition table.


After they have mastered the 1s and 2s, we will move on to the following:

  • Memorizing doubles
  • Memorizing doubles + 1
  • Memorizing doubles + 2
  • Adding 4

And that’s as far as I have planned. The trick will be to keep reviewing them so they don’t forget. I will probably rely on Khan Academy to do that.

I know all of this is very controversial. You are either thinking, “Why don’t her kids already know this, especially the 12 year old?” or “Why is she going through all this trouble? They will eventually get it.” Well, I am not going to further explain my reasoning, other than to say that all of our school plans are held up to our heavenly Father in prayer beforehand. This is what the Lord has convicted me to do this year. If you have the same conviction, or are just curious to see how it will all go down, feel free to follow my blog. I will be updating on our successes or failures, and laying out the rest of the plans as I plan them.

Happy Homeschooling!

Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men. Proverbs 22:29 

2014-15 Looping Schedule and School Goals

This year, we have decided to implement an official looping schedule. In the past, I have naturally looped subjects with my oldest’s high school schedule. This was before I knew that this form of scheduling actually had a name, so this year I decided to make it official with my 4 younger kiddos. I believe this form of scheduling is ideal for larger families.

I have 3 blocks of time during which we loop through subjects. During the first block of time, I work with the twins on math, cursive, and reading. Also during this time, my 2 older kids are working on independent practice items, such as math facts, reading, and typing. Their list of independent practice is rather long and will be a subject for a future post, as I am working on managing this as well.

The second block of time is dedicated to my 2 older kids, during which I loop through their core subjects, such as math, reading, and spelling. Much of this time is spent teaching the kids a concept which they can practice independently. For example, I may take about 15 minutes to teach them how to find subjects and predicates so that they can independently work on their Easy Grammar lessons.

The third time block for looping is when the whole family comes together to work and learn through various subjects. We are working through the Answers for Kids curriculum and God’s Design for Life by the same organization. This is our favorite part of the school day.

Even though it may seem like we may not get to each subject every day with this schedule, the reality is that they are working through each subject, whether during their independent practice time, or even during the family loop. So far, this type of scheduling is working very well for our family.

Below is a copy of the schedule, followed by a subject key.

 Times Looping Schedule
10am-11am Kindergarten Loop 

Math: RS A
11am-12pm 3-4th Grade Loop 

LA Teach: EG 3, SL LA 2 and Vocabulary
Math: RS C
12pm-1pm Lunch- Memory VersesLiterature
1pm-2pm Family Loop 

Answers for Kids
The World of Animals
Dave Ramsey
Hero Tales
2pm-3pm Music LessonsContinue Family Loop
3pm-4pm Complete Independent Practice


AAR: All About Reading

RS: Right Start Math

EG Easy Grammar

SL LA: Sonlight Language Arts

Our school goals for the 2014-2015 school year is as follows:

Subject 11yo 8yo 5yos
Math Right Start C Times Tables Telling Time Right Start C Times tablesTelling Time Counting: 1-100, 10s, 5s, 2sRight Start A
Reading AAR 3 Literature AAR 3 Literature AAR1 Literature
Bible 2 Sam. InductiveAIG 2 Sam InductiveAIG StoriesAIG
Spelling AAS 2 AAS 2
Vocabulary Notebooks Notebooks
Writing TypingIEWProverbs TypingIEWProverbs Cursive: Full name, alphabet, address, phone numbers
Science The World of Animals The World of Animals The World of Animals
Language Arts Easy Grammar 3Sonlight LA 2 Easy Grammar 3Sonlight LA 2
Social Studies Hero TalesWorld History Hero TalesWorld History Hero TalesWorld History
Economics Dave Ramsey Dave Ramsey Dave Ramsey
Music Guitar/Drums Piano Piano

Unfortunately, I am unable to format the charts above, and get them to actually look like they do in my Word Doc, so in order to save my sanity, I am going to leave it as is.

Below is our literature list for the year:

The Twenty-One Balloons, by William Pene Du BoisAnd finally, here is this year’s literature list:

Detectives in Toga: by Henry Winterfeld

The Door in the Wall: by Marguerite de Angeli

Red Sails to Capri: by Ann Weil

I am hoping that we read many more books than this, but I don’t want to set us up for failure, so we are starting small.

I pray everyone has a successful and rich school year.

Through wisdom a house is built, And by understanding it is established; By knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches. Proverbs 24:3-4 NKJV