For The Children’s Sake – Living Ideas

Homeschooling, Inspire You Children, Living Books & Classics No Comments

A few weeks ago,  a friend of mine invited me to coffee at her home.  Her daughter was in town and they wanted to discuss homeschooling.  Of course, I was up for it because I love to talk about homeschooling and all the cool ideas you can do with your kids.  Her daughter has a 4yo, 2yo and infant.  We had a great discussion.  I recommend she read For The Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay.

Last week I received an email from her daughter asking for some specific suggestions on using “living ideas”, a concept discussed in the book.  Here’s my quick response:

Great Question about Living Ideas…
When you read a story that has strong work ethic demonstrated, that would be a living idea that you could discuss with the kids.  Others might include:  character qualities, strong family ties, friendships (right & wrong way to treat friends)

Boy Who Cried Wolf – lying vs telling truth

Little Engine That Could  - persistence

Aesops Fables are great short stories that teach a lesson/living idea through a story

Owl Moon – father/son relationship

Lentil – Old Sneep can teach to not complain, grumble

All of these are lessons or ideas that can apply to life, thus a living idea.

If you haven’t read For The Children’s Sake I highly recommend it.  It is the only book I bought about education the summer before we started homeschooling.  I had mounds of books moms had shared with me, but I ended up buying the book that a college girl recommended to me… For The Children’s Sake .  It is well worth reading, so worth it that I think I will read it again this week.

Classical Rhetoric

Curriculum Connection, Homeschooling, Living Books & Classics, Writing No Comments

Has Writing become that dreaded subject no one wants to tread on? Most students dislike grammar because it has no relevance. How BORING is that?

Why not use classics that are interesting & have endured over time. Classical Rhetoric through Structure & Style uses an old-style method called Progymnastmata. Don’t worry about that unknown name. Just know it really works to teach your children how to write and keep their interest.

In the process of teaching writing, your students will also discover how to form a good argument. You know your children are ready for this manual when they start arguing with me. Why not use their desire to argue to teach them how to make a good argument?

The source texts presented in Classical Rhetoric are designed to acquaint the students with the great works of the classical tradition in the hope that it will foster in them a love of learning. A sampling of texts used in this program are:

  • Chanticleer & the Fox
  • King Solomon on Wisdom
  • Gettysburg Address
  • Hannibal’s Monologue
  • Beowulf
  • Shield of Achilles
  • Odysseus
  • Hamlet
  • St Crispin’s Day Speech
  • Mars Hill Appeal
  • Canterbury Tales

You are welcome to use your own source text to tie in learning rhetoric with what you are already reading in history or literature.

Click here to learn more about Classical Rhetoric
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Teach Writing to Young Children…Easily!

Curriculum Connection, Homeschooling, Living Books & Classics, Writing No Comments

Are you afraid to teach your elementary student how to write? Are you unsure how to make writing simple enough for them to be successful?

Look no further…
Fables, Myths & Fairy Tales is here to save the day!

It is full of heroes and princesses, knights and funny animals. These characters and stories have been in books for ages.

Why is that? They are still around because they help you to know about goodness, beauty and truth. Plus you get to laugh a lot.

Writing skills & techniques are made so simple even a 7 year old can understand how to create a well-written paragraph. When my 7 year old was learning how to write, I had to create my own writing lessons. I wish this was published 10 years ago so I could have used it…and saved myself hours of time & energy.

Let me tell you how this manual works…

Marie Gerber explains in simple terms how the teacher or parent can use this book to teach writing to young students. Keep your TWSS Syllabus handy and the 9 units from Teaching Writing: Structure & Style to make your child a terrific writer. Even 7, 8, 9 year olds can learn these structures and stylistic techniques. I know because I’ve taught those ages before…quite successfully.

Maria provides the source text from which your child will write, a list of “what to do” to teach that lesson, as well as charts, outlines & helps to make writing easier than you’ve ever seen.

Click here to read more about Fables, Myths & Fairy Tales!

This book will save you tons of time, get your own copy right here!

Make Math Fun With Sir Cumference

Curriculum Connection, Homeschooling, Living Books & Classics, Math, Reading 1 Comment

Sir Cumference Math series are a terrific way to teach children elementary math lessons. Bring elementary math and geometry alive as you read about Sir Cumference and his Lady Di of Ameter. Your children will actually remember the math lesson and geometry concepts.

When King Arthur and his knights get together, the table they have is so long that everyone has to shout to be heard. A rectangular table is too long and a triangular table is too pointy, but somehow they must sit down and discuss the shape of the future. Join a knight called Sir Cumference, his wife, Lady Di of Ameter, and their son Radius as they use different strategies to solve this quandary.

Can Sir Cumference and Lady Di of Ameter “measure up” to the challenge of building a better table?

Explore the castle, watch a tournament, and ride along with Sir Cumference as he searches for the shape of the future. Noisy knights, a clever carpenter, and a juggling jester all add to the fun.

Math Concepts:

  • Geometry
  • Circumference
  • Diameter
  • Area of a Rectangle
  • Parallelogram
  • Triangle
  • Circle

We have 4 more books in the Sir Cumference series.  Read about all of them here:
Sir Cumference

Stock up this summer by getting a 20% discount on all 5 Sir Cumference books
by clicking here!

Excellence in Literature – What’s this?

College, Curriculum Connection, History, Homeschooling, Kerry Beck, Living Books & Classics, Reading, Worldview, Writing 1 Comment

At first glance, I wasn’t sure about Janice Campbell’s new book, Excellence in Literature.  But when I began reading the introduction and all the material available for high school students to use in literature studies, I was sold on the program.

Mrs. Campbell has done an excellent job of creating a college-prep course that high school students can use independently.  Let’s face it, by the time a student is in high school, teachers should not be spoon-feeding them.  Students should assume responsibility for leaning and use Excellence in Literature (EIL) as a guide for their study routine.  Not only is this my belief, this is Campbell’s belief as stated in the Overview.

Check out this video to learn more:

In this guide, you will find a wide variety of helps for high school literature.  Let me share just a few:

  • Specific instructions for each assignment
  • Suggested schedule to follow for each piece of literature
  • References for background & research of each work
  • Time management & organization tips
  • Specific tips on how to read a book (Fiction, Poetry, Tragedy, Comedy, Challenging Literature)
  • Variety of writing topics for each piece

Most of the work in this course is done by the student.  Parents & teachers come alongside to guide and evaluate the student’s writings and readings.  That saves moms & teachers a lot of time!

I wish there was a course like this when my children were in high school.  I would definitely had used it because it would make it very easy for me to “teach” literature in high school.

Since the parent/teacher is not actively teaching, the student is responsible for “learning” or discovering what each literature piece is all about.  To summarize, students will

  • Study the book, following the scheduled assignments
  • Ask their mentor when they don’t understand
  • Actively seek to learn from each assignment
  • Complete each assignment
  • Make no excuses! (I really like this one)
  • Enjoy Fine Literature (Of course, I love this!)

If you are following the Leadership Education/Thomas Jefferson Education model, Excellence in Literature is a perfect complement for the Scholar stage.  Janice provides just enough guidelines for students to get started, but leaves it open-ended enough to allow students to learn on their own.  One particular section I think is pertinent to Scholar phase students is the section on discerning worldviews in literature.  This helps your Scholar student understand what the worldview of that time period is so he can better study the piece of literature at hand.

If you are following a Classical model of education, you will find literature that is truly classic.  Your students will use their independent learning skills to enjoy and study great works of literature.  As they read these pieces, they should grown in their love of learning.

I believe Charlotte Mason would endorse this guide, too.  Ms. Mason wholeheartedly believed in literature based education.  EIL uses literature that are truly “living books”.  This literature provides opportunities to discuss lessons that pertain to our lives today.  Thus, making them living books you will want to read  & discuss with your children.

For each unit, Mrs. Campbell shares the edition of the text she recommends, as well as additional texts you may use for honor students.  The background information she provides includes the literary period, a unit focus, an introduction (short), something to think about, and something to be sure to notice.  Context resources cover the readings itself, the author’s life, and poetry/poets of that time period.  Enrichment resources include music, audio books, videos, visual arts, historical context, places to go, and just for fun.

Finally, your student has the assignment schedule for that unit.  The schedule is divided by weeks and includes reading & writing assignments.  As the parent or teacher, you should check the progress of your students each week and guide them through their writing projects.

As a bonus, you will receive some fantastic extras in the back of this book.

  • An Honors Program is outlined for those families who want to go over & above this college-prep course.
  • Formats & Models provides sample formats for the different writing projects assigned throughout the year. Not only will you have an outline or model of what your student should consider for each paper, you will receive samples (or models) of each type of writing.
  • Excellence in Literature Evaluation Rubric gives the mentor a specific checklist to use in evaluating the student’s writing. If you use IEW now, you can use the additional Evaluation Rubric for IEW students.
  • Student Evaluation Summary is a chart you can use throughout the year to record progress. It specifically records the mentor’s evaluation of writing projects.
  • The Glossary defines terms for the students as they study Literature.
  • Selected Resources are additional resources the mentor or student may want to use in their study of British literature.

Overall, Excellence in Literature is a superb guide for high school students to use with their mentor/parent/teacher.  It encourages responsibility of the student as he studies & enjoys literature.

If there is a weakness in this program, it would be the idea of not encouraging the mentor to read & discuss the literature pieces with their student.  This is easily overcome because Janice gives some great “things to consider” and ideas to think critically about in the writing assignments.  I would encourage mentors to use the ideas in each unit as a basis for verbal discussion.  If your students struggle with the writing assignment, be sure to verbally discuss the assignment so they can get ideas out of their head.

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Fun Math for Elementary Kids

Inspire You Children, Living Books & Classics, Love of Learning, Math 1 Comment

I found it…I actually found some math story books that your kids will LOVE!

And get this, while they love the story books we have for them, they will be learning math concepts (without knowing they are learning).  

Isn’t that a great way to “inspire not require”?  

I’m always on the lookout for ways to encourage a love of learning with my kids. Math Story Books were one terrific way I found to encourage learning math, especially with my non-math daughters.

Here’s a video “showing” you the math books your kids will love.


Get your own Math Adventure Books by clicking here.

Fun with Math this Summer

Inspire You Children, Living Books & Classics, Math, Specials 1 Comment

I found the coolest Math books that your kids will LOVE reading.  The stories are fun and your kids won’t even know they are learning math concepts.  Plus, some of the books come with a downloadable activity guide.  

For our Memorial Day celebration, I’m throwing in our own Math Activity Fun ebook for anyone who buys over the Memorial Day weekend (before Monday midnight).  Don’t wait go grab your Math Adventure books now.  (Plus you get a discount if you buy one of the series packages)

Here’s the links to the series.  You can read more about each book in the series by clicking on the title once you get to the series package.

Young Math Adventure Series

Older Math Adventure Series

Sir Cumference Series

Have a wonderful weekend and look out for more pictures from our Ireland trip.  I’ll be posting them soon.


Books to Read in 2009

Living Books & Classics, Reading No Comments

Did you see my list of Favorite Books of 2008?  If not, scroll down the post before this one. I included a few comments on most books.  If you haven’t read those books, try one now.

I have several books on my “to read” list 2009.  Here are a few I’ll start with this year.

Finish Miss Julia series by Ann Ross
They Call Me Coach (John Wooden, UCLA basketball coach, 10 national championships in 12 years & emphasizes importance of God)
Love & Respect (best seller on marriage)
Bruchko (missionary story)
Quo Vadis (my daughters’ favorite book)
Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire: The Methods and Madness Inside Room 56
Midwinter (historical fiction about Bonnie Prince Charlie)
Paradise Lost (My girls read this, but I haven’t.  I plan to read it with my 16yo son this year)
Book of A Thousand Days (Shannon Hale’s other books was a fun read last summer)

For a complete list of other books I plan to read, check out my shelfari page.

If you haven’t joined Shelfari, do it now.  It’s a great way to keep track of the books you read and your kids can keep track of their books, too.

Leave a comment and tell me what books you’ll be reading in 2009.

Literature Helps in High School

Homeschooling, Living Books & Classics, Love of Learning No Comments


I wonder if you would give me you in put on the curriculum for a literature and reading? The one I was looking into is Prentice Hall. Would you say this is something to use or do have a suggestion on a better curriculum?

I am always a little reluctant about reading contents. I thought you might be able to help.

Here’s what I wrote her back…


I tend to make my own list of books to read at the high school level. If you need a literature guide, I recommend Progeny Press. They have guides from a Christian perspective. I tend to have my kids read classics and great books when they are older. Some of them are novels; others are church history/philosophy/theology. Another guide I like is TruthQuest History. She has written guides through historical time periods from a Christian worldview. As you move along in history, you are provided reading lists with suggested age levels. She usually makes cautionary remarks if you should be careful about a certain book.

Another one of my favorite tools to use with all levels as you examine literature is Teaching the Classics. It shows you how to analyze the classic books. It can be used with any book, even preschool books.

If you need a curriculum that spells it out for you, the 2 I would recommend are Sonlight & Veritas Press. I believe Veritas will have a heavier reading load.

Hope this helps a little.


September is Read A New Book Month

Living Books & Classics No Comments

I love reading a new book, at least it’s new to me. My favorite new books are classics…ones that have been around for a long time and we still enjoy them. Ones that come to mind that I’ve enjoyed over the years include: Pride & Prejudice (& all Jane Austen books), Anne of Green Gables, Adventures of Robin Hood, Treasure Island, Swiss Family Robinson to name a few!

I recently read The Dragon & Raven, A Man Called Peter and The White Isle. All were great and I highly recommend them.

Of course, it’s fun to re-read books we love, but why not read a new book this month? Choose a new book that you can read with your kids this morning. What book will you read?

Let your kids read a new book this month, too. What will it be?


ps. Keep track of the books you read on

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