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 

Our Holiday Schedule

Grandmama has arrived! The cheetah broke his arm. The twins had their sixth birthday party, and the video games have invaded the minds of the vulnerable. Who can do school at a time like this?

Twins birthday

And what’s to come… Christmas tree decorating, Christmas shopping, and our 20th anniversary cruise. Sure doesn’t look like school will be anyones priority in these upcoming weeks.

We generally take time off during the holiday season, so I am not too concerned about scaling back. What I can’t stand is idle time, when the kids proceed to turn their minds to mush by playing video games and watching movies. We generally limit computer games to about an hour a week, allow the kids to watch one movie on Friday evenings, and hide the video game consoles in the basement, until…well…until Grandmama comes. This year Grandmama has generously supplied the kids with the Marvel Infinity game set. The kids were able to play for one full day, on the twin’s birthday, but now I am determined, at least until we leave for the cruise, to get in some higher level, critical thinking skills.

So this is the plan:

We wake up in the morning and do our usual family devotional, then eat breakfast. After breakfast, the twins practice some quick cursive by writing their names and numbers, while the older kids either practice their lines for the Christmas play, or practice typing. I am not as concerned about the twins getting in scheduled reading time right now, because lately they have been sounding out almost everything they see. This will be enough until regular instruction picks up again after the holidays.

Then we continue our extremely slow journey through the novel, “The Twenty-One Balloons.” We only read about 2 to 3 pages a day, because we are analyzing it do death. The kids copy notes from the white board into their journals and we stop and discuss a lot. Today’s reading led to watching 2 YouTube videos, one on how to sail a boat, and another on hydraulic trucks. Here are a couple of pages from one of their notebooks:

21 Ballons Notebook page 1

21 ballons notebook p. 2

Next we play a family math game. Our favorites right now are Slower Speed with even and odd numbers and Concentration with multiples. All of our games come from the funnest math program in the world, Right Start Math.

Multiples concentration

Slow Speed

Finally, we are reading the best book written about Thanksgiving, “Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember,” by Barbara Rainey. Yes, I realize that Thanksgiving has passed, but we didn’t have time to read it before Thanksgiving, so we are doing it now. This book has made Thanksgiving my absolutely favorite holiday. During Thanksgiving, we can celebrate God’s providence without being choked by materialism.

thanksgiving book

I have the kids draw pictures about the Thanksgiving story as we read this book. Here is a sample:

Thanksgiving journal page

Next year, I am determined to make Thanksgiving even more meaningful for the kids. I want the kids to write “Thank You” cards and keep a “Thankful Journal” for the month of November. Maybe we will still get to that before the year is over.

Well, that’s it! After that torture, the kids run upstairs to play…

disney infinity avengers figures

After the new year, we will tuck the Xbox away, not to rear it’s ugly head again, until spring break.

How does your homeschool schedule change over the holidays?

Merry Christmas to All!

Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. Luke 2:10

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

The Little Bug that Bites

The other day, a little bug told me that a 6 year old was working on a higher math level than both my 7 and 10 year old. I thought it was such a cute little bug that I tucked it away in the corner of my heart, all safe and protected, appreciative of the message, for I was truly impressed with the child. Slowly, this little bug began eating away at the peace in my heart and yesterday it took a big chunk out of my patience.  cute bug

My 7 and 10 year old have been transitioning into level C of Right Start Math for what seems like forever. We are only 2 lessons away from beginning this level, which at our rate will take at least 2 weeks. Today, we spent 30 minutes on just the warm up section. They just don’t seem to be retaining the addition strategies and every time I go to review, I end up teaching it all over again. Today, I became so frustrated with them, that my voice could be heard in the basement. They were laughing and giggling while I was trying to teach something that I had taught 100 times! How dare they try to have fun while learning!

But at the heart of this frustration was this little bug. As this little bug ate at my peace and patience, it became fat with envy. I should have squashed this bug when it was small. 

We love Right Start Math. My kids are transitioning from Math U See because I felt it left a lot of holes in regards to place value, and just wasn’t enough all around practice. The mastery of one step at a time, was keeping my son at one level for entirely too long, and he became frustrated and bored. The curriculum just did not meet the needs of my intellectually disabled son. With Right Start Math, my kids are having fun playing games while learning math concepts. The math foundation they are getting is complete and solid. They really like it. But they really like it when Mom is on their side. They like it when Mom has fun with them, whatever level they are at. They like it when Mom laughs with them and does not get hung up on where they must be and how much they have accomplished. stickyegg

On my jog that day, the Lord showed me how big that little bug had gotten. It was so creepy looking that it took great courage to approach it in order to squash it. With the Lord’s strength, I was finally able to, but it had left a big hole in my heart…. a hole that only the Lord could fill, so I prayed:

Lord thank you for the children you have given me. Thank you for the gift to homeschool them, so that they can flourish at their own pace and become exactly who You have designed them to be. Lord fill this hole in my heart with an abundance of patience to work with my kids at whatever level they are on. Lord give me peace to accept each child for who they are, not comparing them with any other child, but seeing and loving who they are and the gifts you have given them. And Lord, most of all, remind me that those little bugs get big and that they bite hard. Remind me to squash it and not to feed it, so that my heart will stay Holy filled with You. Amen heart

Why Can’t You Just Give Us $100?

I have been curiously watching my kids count their money these last few days and I finally decided to find out exactly what all the interest in money was about.  Turns out that my drummer boy had found what he thought was a Nintendo DS for $7.98 on the Internet. I explained to him that what he had actually found was a cover for the DS and then showed him that the DS was actually over $200.

I told him that it would take a long time to save up $200 and the money he earned this month must go towards Christmas presents for his siblings. This month they are to be thinking about other people, dying to themselves, in honor of our Lord who gave up His throne in heaven to be born and to die for us. After awhile of mulling it over, my drummer boy asks, “Why can’t you just give us $100?”

“What!!!” Does he think that I just have an infinite amount of money to hand out? Thankfully his sister explained that $100 would be a lot of money, but I am doubtful she really gets it either when she will not hesitate to ask for this and that. Could it be an illusion from Monopoly when they get $200 for passing Go, along with $500 here and $1000 there for various real estate properties? We have been playing a lot of that game lately. I believe it has definitely sparked some interest in the value of money in real life. But we don’t live in Monopoly world kids! You can’t buy Park Place for the $350 that you got for doing nothing but rolling dice.

So I was left contemplating and asking God for the wisdom to show my kids the value of money in the real world. I already have them work for their money. I do not give them an allowance for doing just your basic everyday chores, but I only pay them for doing what I don’t want to do and would in fact pay someone else to do anyway. You know, the hard things like cleaning out the pantry, the refrigerator, the kitchen cabinets, the laundry room, etc. When I open up a drawer and find crumbs or sticky whatever in it, I call the kids, “Hey kids! Wanna make some money?” I pay my 7 and 10-year-old $5 an hour and the 5 year olds get $3 and hour, since most of their hour is simply watching the older kids. This month I am giving them each $20 for cleaning out the laundry room shelves and the pantry. This might take a total of 2 hours, but I am giving them a bonus, so that they can buy Christmas gifts for their siblings.

But this won’t answer my drummer boy’s question as to why I can’t just give him $100. And to simply answer that I don’t have $100 would really not be quite true, since he sees how much I spend at the grocery store, especially Costco.  Yes I could just say because I need it for food, which would be true, but I desire to really show him, to teach him, the reason that I can’t just give him $100.

So break out the abacuses kids! You’re going on a tour through the family budget. That’s right! In the month of January, they are going to sit down and budget with me. Every time I purchase something, they are going to subtract it from the book real time. Every time I pay them to do chores, they are going to see exactly where it comes from and how much is left. Then they will truly understand the reason that I just can’t give them $100.

Kids and abacus

Proverbs 10:4 Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.