Dyslexia, Learning Challenges, Spelling, Subjects

Learning Disabilities and All About Spelling

by Siena

Our eldest son went to public school for kindergarten. I wanted to homeschool him, but my husband is a public school teacher and wanted him to go to school. So off he went, away from our happy nest and into the world. Despite my misgivings, I was sure he would do well. He soared in math class and made friends easily. But reading fluency remained elusive. Christmas came and went and he still had not mastered his letter sounds. We buckled down at home. We drilled phonemes and forced him to try to read. And still he stumbled.

By the end of the year, my husband agreed to let N come home for the next year. I had been eagerly perusing catalogs and fell in love with the pictures on the shiny Sonlight brochures. The idyllic pictures of moms reading to well-dressed and well-behaved youngsters looked so inviting! (In retrospect, I should have thought a little longer and harder about using a teacher-intensive curriculum my first year. Especially with five kids ages seven and younger – including a newborn who was delivered via c-section the first week of school! But I digress.) I ordered the curriculum and just about wet my britches with excitement on Box Day.

N enjoyed the science, math and history portions of the day. And I’m sure he absorbed some of the literature that I faithfully read aloud that year (at least what he could hear over the constant bickering and questioning – seriously, do other folks’ kids ask fifteen questions per page?) But reading remained a mystery. I read and researched and tried a couple different programs. The Sonlight “whole language” approach clearly did not work for him. Teach Your Child to Read in 100 EZ Lessons made us both want to cry. We made it through the book, but he still struggled.  He did weird things, like substituting synonyms (“rock” for “stone,” etc) and could not seem to blend sounds. CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words were easy, but blends (pl, br, fl, st, etc) baffled him. Articles and small pronouns (a, the, we, etc) were frequently missed as well. I tried using manipulatives, games, computer programs and tutors, and he still struggled. A family member who is a teacher did a screening test with him and said he didn’t have any learning issues. She recommended trying harder. So we redoubled our efforts and scheduled reading lessons twice a day. N was miserable.

The next year continued the same way. By that point, we’d abandoned Sonlight in favor of KONOS unit studies, which we could pursue together with all the kids. They really enjoyed KONOS, but N still couldn’t read. S, his younger sister, picked up reading easily. The contrast between my two students caused me to fret about N even more. I convinced my husband to allow N to be tested for dyslexia (my husband is not a fan of labels). We went to our local Scottish Rite facility’s learning resource center. I cannot say enough good things about them. They tested N (and later, A) for FREE. Yeah, like, no dinero at all. They were kind and professional, and N even enjoyed it. The testing lasted one day, and we came back a few weeks later for a meeting about the results.

Tests showed that N had a very high IQ, but he also had severe dyslexia and dysgraphia. I almost cried with relief. It felt weird to be relieved at hearing that your child has a severe learning disability, but I felt like at least we had something to work with now. For almost three years we’d been beating our heads against the wall and making absolutely no progress. Now, I felt, we could take the new information and run with it.

We initially tried Scottish Rite’s Dyslexia Training Program, a DVD based program that mirrors the highly successful “Rite Flight” that is done at the facility. N hated it. Cried whenever I got it out and was just miserable. We had been able to borrow the curriculum from the local Masonic Temple, so we decided to return it and try something different.

We bit the bullet and shelled out the money for Barton Reading and Spelling. It’s pricey, but it’s pretty much the gold standard for Orton-Gillingham type language programs. N did well with it. I had S do it as well, hoping it would sharpen her spelling. Seeing the two work, N’s dyslexia became even more glaringly apparent to me. Tasks like dividing a CVC word into separate phonemes or playing a rhyming game were a cakewalk for S and a frustration for N. It was clear that something just didn’t click the same way in his head. One day I took N to the park alone for his “parent date.” I told him that I was really proud of his diligence and I knew that he was developing skills and perseverance that would help him in the future. I reminded him that he was highly intelligent, and that his brain was just wired a little differently. And, on the fly, I told him that reading was kind of like storming a castle. Most of the time, the troops can just ride over the drawbridge and raise the door. But sometimes the troops have to flank the castle and engage in sneakier maneuvers, employing siege towers and sappers. But they can still succeed. Kind of a lame metaphor, but it really helped him. Even now, five years later, he still refers to it.

Barton was great, but kind of pricey. At $250-$300 per module (plus the cost of additional readers), it was a little steep for us. A friend mentioned All About Spelling, another O-G program. It was more reasonably priced and looked like it would be more fun. I ordered the first two levels and started it with both N and S.

Level 1 is mostly just teaching the various phonemes and drilling them with flashcards. Simple dictation is introduced, as well as compound words and syllable types. We flew through Level 1 with both kids. N felt especially proud of his speed in completing Level 1. The three levels of Barton he had completed gave him a very solid foundation.

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(Our whiteboard with AAS tiles.  Yes, that is the Holy Family up there.  I have six kids, I need all the help I can get.)

Once you hit Level 2, the lessons follow a predictable format. You have a small review section at the beginning (usually dividing a word into syllables and labeling the syllable types, while reviewing any pertinent rules). Then you do some new teaching. This may be a new rule, a new phoneme or a new syllable type. Words are spelled using small multi-colored tiles. Magnets can be purchased for these tiles (we just bought them directly from AAS) to facilitate using the tiles on a magnetic white board. The student then reads the word, divides it and labels it. After several words are spelled, and you feel the child has mastered the concept, you break out the flashcards. Ten new words are generally added to the flashcard deck each lesson, and you are encouraged to review past words often. (I made some board games to use with them.) After flashcards are done, dictation begins. First words are dictated, then phrases, then sentences. You are encouraged to go as slow as necessary and not move on to the next lesson until a concept is fully mastered.

Early in our AAS journey, we would divide a lesson up into several days. We’d do the review, new teaching and flashcards the first day. Then review the flashcards and do word/phrase dictation the next day. The third day I would make up some sentences using the flashcard words and have the student read them to me. Then we’d finish the lesson with dictation of full sentences. (I always grade dictation immediately and have them write any missed words three times each at the bottom of the page.) S is now in public school, and N is in junior high, so we sprint through lessons. Usually we complete one each day.

N and S have both demonstrated improved spelling and reading fluency after using All About Spelling. They find the lessons engaging and painless. We also use the new All About Reading program, which I will write about at a later date.

Teaching kids with learning challenges is hard. But having a good diagnosis and plan makes a huge difference. I encourage any Mom or Dad with a struggling child to get them tested. Do not ignore your gut instinct! I wish now that I’d pushed to have N tested sooner. I wish I’d advocated more aggressively for him in the public school and I wish I’d ignored the people who kept telling me it was poor work ethic instead of a true problem. Sometimes trying harder isn’t enough and our kids depend on us to get them the tools they need to succeed.

Siena is a proud Kansas City native who was transplanted to Texas thirteen years ago. She has three boys and three girls, and is currently in her seventh year of homeschooling. Several of her children have struggled with dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, and other learning challenges. She tells them often that God must have something amazing for them in the future, as they are learning perseverance now.

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Nature Studies, Science

March 2013: Late Summer – Early Winter

by Rose Marie

Previous post: Late Summer

No entries from the early winter part of March, it must have been a shock to the system.  All of these were from rambling at home.

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I think this is the big, grey frog.

That would be a swamp wallaby, otherwise known as a black wallaby, which is a better name since they don’t restrict themselves to swamps. Actually, this wallaby hangs around our house, half way up a hill, and eats the scraps I put out for the chooks (chickens) if he gets to them first. Who knew wallabies liked gnocchi?

Next post: Early Winter

Rose-Marie was one of those enthusiastic planners who began researching when she was pregnant with her first. She wanted to homeschool because it sounded like an affordable adventure, then she met her kids personally…
DD is 6 years old and has Echolalia and some processing issues so isn’t speaking fluently yet. DS is 4 years old, has retained primitive reflexes and while there may be a deity somewhere who knows what’s going to happen with this kid, he/she/it hasn’t chosen to inform us. They live on a hill in rural southern Australia without enough solar panels and like it there.

History, Subjects

How We Made Our Own History Year: Native American Studies

By Caitilin Fiona

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As I was contemplating my son’s fourth grade and my daughter’s third grade history options (they do most of their subjects together, being at basically the same level, though twenty months apart in age), nothing was capturing my fancy. I was not even a little bit excited about studying and teaching through the “history cycle,” though I do think it an excellent organizing principle in general. Somehow, I just couldn’t get my head in the right space for it. At that same time, I happened upon a book at my local library, in the New Titles section. This was The Story of The American Indian, written by Sydney Fletcher. I took it home and spent some time with it, thinking as I did so that it would make an excellent text for a co-op class. Finally, the penny dropped: I could organize my OWN history program, using this book as a text! I dove into planning, head first.

My first stop was the education boards on the Well-Trained Mind Forum, where I read and solicited opinions on which books were suitably unbiased, and at the right level. Taking what I had gleaned there, I moved on to purchasing my books.

First, naturally, I bought The Story of the American Indian, as it was the title that started it all. Of all the books I bought, it is the most challenging to read for an elementary student. I planned to (and did!) read it aloud, for the most part. The other two texts I bought were The Indian Book, a Childcraft Annual book from 1980, and The Real Book About Indians, a 1950s era book for children by Franklin Folsom. These books I supplemented with the picture encyclopedia of First People, by David C. King.

Now that I had all my materials in hand, I had to decide how to divvy them up appropriately for our school year. [A couple of years ago I had switched our school year from the quarter system to a “six weeks on, one week off” system, labeled A through F, so I had to divide up the books both according to region and to sixths.] I divided the school year into eleven subject groups:

–Native American Immigration and Origins

–Southeast Tribal Groups

–Northeast Tribal Groups

–Great Plains Tribal Groups

–Southwest Tribal Groups

–Central and South American Tribal Groups

–Great Basin Tribal Groups

–Pacific Northwest and Plateau Tribal Groups

–California Tribal Groups

–Arctic Tribal Groups

–Caribbean Tribal Groups

I took each book individually and found and labeled the chapters according to which of these sections it would fall into. In none of the books were we able to proceed straight through from beginning to end, but had to jump around, often quite a lot, unfortunately. However, it seemed to me to make the most sense to have the whole year be coherent rather than any single title in itself. In the end, it worked out fairly well, as I made up a schedule where I wrote down the chapters from each book that related to each topic, and the weeks in which each would be studied.

So in section A we studied the Native American immigration and origins and the tribes of the Southeast. Section B was devoted entirely to the tribal groups of the Northeast, while C was dedicated to studying the peoples of the Great Plains. After our Christmas break, we learned about the tribes of the Southwest for all of section D. In E we covered the Central and South American native peoples, as well as those of the Great Basin. The last section was an overview of five different tribal groups: the Pacific Northwest, the Plateau, the California, the Arctic, and the Caribbean.

Clearly, there was a great deal more information on some tribal groups than others, but I was not troubled by this as there is no perfect system for any historical endeavor, and this was merely an elementary level overview.

As we read each new chapter, my children wrote narrations of what they had learned. This exercise gave me new insight into how difficult a skill to acquire this can be, but with perseverance, they improved a great deal.

Caitilin Fiona is a homeschooling mother of six children, ranging from sixteen year old twins down to a five year old. Her particular interests in the homeschool universe include teaching Latin, Shakespeare, and Great Books. Outside of homeschooling, her interests include language and languages, theology, cookery and nutrition, movies, and fooling around, er, researching on the Internet.

Photo of the Day

Photo of the Day

by Apryl

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Born and raised in Tennessee, Apryl is a southern girl at heart.  She lives out in the country with her husband and her daughters (13 year old twins and a 16 year old).  After having an unfulfilling public school education herself, and struggling to find peace with the education her girls were receiving in the public school system, she made the choice to homeschool.  When they began their homeschool journey, the girls were 3rd and 6th grades.  Now she is happily coaching three teenaged daughters through their high school years.

Field Trips, Museum

Beating the Heat

by Siena

It’s hot here in Roswell.

I don’t care if it’s a dry heat – 109* is hot.

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To cool off – and take a break from regular studies – we made a quick jaunt to Albuquerque.

We hit ¡explora! Children’s Museum on Friday afternoon.

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And on Saturday, we went to the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science.

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I ask you, does that look like the face of a child who is bored with learning? I think not!

Tamra Yvonne  lives in the desert southwest where antelope play in the front yard, among the rattlers and scorpions.  She enjoys reading, scrapbooking, and crochet.  She is homeschooling one son, age 12.

Dyslexia, Learning Challenges

Classical Education and the Dyslexic Child

by Sheryl

Classical Education has a reputation for being a teaching method for the gifted. It focuses on the rigorous study of things that we don’t think of as part of our everyday lives, unfamiliar things like Latin, Rhetoric, and Logic. It seems intimidating. Unfortunately, this misconception has led many parents of dyslexic children away from the method, which is truly tragic. I have found that Classical Education is, in fact, a very important part of helping my dyslexic child to overcome her learning disabilities.

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Latin

Latin is key to about 50% of our English vocabulary (Classical Education and the Homeschool by Callihan, Jones & Wilson). It is the root of understanding.

Orton-Gillingham, the premiere method of teaching reading and spelling to dyslexics, includes Latin in their materials, and their reasoning is simple: Dyslexics often struggle with dividing words into phonetic bits and then re-assembling those bits into a logical whole. Learning Latin allows students to understand the meaning of those pieces and gives them a more in-depth comprehension of words. Dyslexics, even more than the general population need to have this resource in their tool-kit.

Classical Literature

Language is a large focus of Classical Education, which may make it seem inappropriate for the dyslexic student. Children who struggle with reading are often thought of as incapable of studying great literature with all of its multi-syllable words, complicated language and levels of meaning, but we need to be careful not to confuse isolation from challenging sources with helping our students to overcome their reading struggles.

Great literature increases vocabulary, expands understanding of figurative speech, and exposes us to worlds outside of our own. It is an important window in to the world, and one from which we must not deprive our children.

Reading is necessary to any well rounded education, but this does not mean that students are restricted to only books within their reading level. Technology is a huge asset to the dyslexic student. Audiobooks, text-to-speech programs, and shared reading are all ways to experience the depth of literature outside of independent study.

One of the greatest things I have learned from Classical Education is that exceptional learning comes from exceptional sources. Of course there are a few children that will become an Autodidact, but the dyslexic child (along with most other children) will need to be guided and helped along the way. Experiencing quality literature is far more important than the method of reading. They must focus not just on their weakness, but on ways to work around that that weakness to gain great strength.

A Place to Excel

Children with learning disabilities need to be given the opportunity to find a place in which they can succeed. Many dyslexic students find this in the fine arts. Architecture, movement, and sculpture have all been found to take advantage of the spatial abilities inherent in the dyslexic’s brain. Offering our students time to study the masters and discover their own talent gives them an amazing opportunity to experience success.

The Trivium (stages of learning)

The greatest benefit of Classical Education is that it intentionally and incrementally trains students to learn for themselves. This pattern of moving through the grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric stages is truly beneficial for dyslexic children.

Education is all about challenging children in the subjects in which they excel, and encouraging them where they struggle. Classical Education offers a great balance in this respect. It intentionally divides learning into stages of acquiring facts, connecting those facts, and then questioning and expressing what you believe. It gives our students an excellent foundation.

Parents of dyslexic students must be dedicated to diligently helping their students as they approach more difficult literature, but the benefits are exponentially greater than the sacrifice. In some ways, teachers of dyslexic students are at an advantage. When reading aloud together, deep conversations come naturally and wonderful discussions result. These discussions are the heart of the classical method.

My Reality

Dyslexia isn’t an easy learning disability to deal with. It requires diligent instruction, repetition, and effort. The rigor of Classical Education has offered my daughter not only a thorough quality education, but access to the essential tools that she needs to overcome her disability. We are still walking this path, but our goal is that she will become an adult who is not only capable of learning, but one who can actively and intentionally analyze the world around her regardless of her struggles.

Giftedness is not essential to Classical Education. What is holding you back?

Sheryl G.
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Sheryl is living her dream in the house on Liberty Hill where she is a full time wife, mother, and teacher. She is passionate about turning children’s natural curiosity into activities that will inspire, enlighten, and entertain. Learn more about her adventures at libertyhillhouse.com.

Chemistry, Science, Subjects

How I Taught 7th grade Chemistry

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by Jane-Emily

Last year I had a twelve-year-old in seventh grade and a nine-year-old in fourth.  For science, I wanted to concentrate on chemistry — one of my very favorite sciences!  It’s the recipe book for the universe! — I wanted to make sure that my twelve-year-old would be very well-prepared to take AP Chemistry, or some equivalent thereof, later on.  I searched high and low for materials that would make it possible for me to teach a solid chemistry course without too much math.  I also invited another kid along for lab days; I find that it is more fun if we have an extra kid or two along for the ride.

For a text, I found Friendly Chemistry, a course designed for homeschoolers with plans for larger groups.  Friendly Chemistry is quite clear, and it teaches a lot of chemistry, from atomic structure to stoichiometry to ideal gas laws.  There is some math and it sometimes got difficult, but together we figured it out.  There is not much of a lab component; it’s limited to easily-obtainable home items.  It has quite a few games to aid in memorization of elements, ions, and so on, and several of them are well-designed.  There are a few typos, but otherwise my only problem was that the solutions in the back of the book did not provide help with working out the problems. Only answers were given, and sometimes we got stuck.

I wanted lots of lab work, so I ordered the biggest chemistry set Thames & Kosmos stocks: the C3000, containing instructions for over 300 experiments designed to take the student from basics to more complex organic chemistry.  T&K being a German company, I did find that a few extras it required were hard for me to find, such as hartshorn/baker’s ammonia and so on.  Of course the experiments followed a completely different logic than the Friendly Chemistry did–it is all practical chemistry–but we didn’t have too much trouble with that.   The variety was nice, and all of us appreciated the fun of setting things on fire.  I needed more glass test tubes than were provided, and I came perilously close to running out of a few chemicals.

Meanwhile, my nine-year-old came along for the ride for much of this.  She had the Real Science 4 Kids Chemistry text, which was OK but not wonderful.  I would have preferred something else, but I didn’t find anything I loved.  She and I worked through those chapters together, and otherwise she played the games, participated in the experiments, and did just fine.  I am confident that she absorbed plenty of chemistry for her age.

Our schedule was as follows:

  • Tuesday, read the chapter for the week.  Start exercises and finish by Thursday.
  • Thursday: lab from 12:00 until at least 2:00 (with extra child, who was also doing the same text at home).  Go over the week’s lesson and make sure exercises are understood.  Do any activities from the text.  Do a section of experiments from T&K set and talk about them.
  • Friday: give the chapter test.  And make sure to practice memory work through games throughout!

Some of my favorite activities included:

Element/Ion Bingo: this was at the very beginning of the year, when we needed the kids to learn the elements and their symbols.  I filled large bingo cards with all the most difficult symbols.  After a couple of weeks of that we changed to ion bingo so they could practice distinguishing sulfate and sulfide, etc.

The Doo-Wop board: this is a proprietary game from Friendly Chemistry that helps students understand the structure of the atom.  I found it quite helpful myself!  We would pick an element and fill the shells with electrons until we had it right.  (The electrons were white and chocolate chips, which made it a very popular game.)

Lego chemistry: I found legochemthis to be a great help with stoichiometry (which is figuring out how much of what goes into a substance).  Get a large tub of plain Lego bricks, and assign each color an element.  We had fun making them appropriate, but you can’t do that with all of them.  Carbon = green, sulfur = yellow, calcium = white, etc.  We made tiny white bricks be hydrogen.  You can then build each molecule.  Build ions first and then attach them.  You can make this work pretty well for molarity, even.  It is a great way to visualize everything and work out the formulae if you’re finding it confusing. The main trouble with this activity, of course, is getting more distractible kids to pay attention to the molecules instead of the really great spaceships they’re building!

We did some really great chemical experiments too, such as producing hydrogen by mixing aluminum with sodium hydroxide (lye), burning various substances to see the colored flames (a good time to talk about fireworks!), and so on.  I wished for a lump of sodium to blow up, but I never got one.  Someday!  I videotaped one of our experiments, and here it is for you.

 

I also love popular bookPeriodic-Tales-Williams-Hugh-9780061824722s about chemistry.  Here are some titles that you might enjoy; you can tell the stories as you teach, or you might have an older student who will like one.

Janejane-emilyEmily homeschools two daughters in California.  She is a librarian who loves to quilt and embroider, and she’s a Bollywood addict.  Her favorite author is Diana Wynne Jones. She blogs about reading at Howling Frog Books.

Household Help, Organization, Planners

Creating an Electronic Home Binder

by Megan Danielletablet

I remember a couple of years ago, I watched this video on creating a home management binder.  I thought it was a great idea to have everything you needed in one place. Plus it was so cute.  If you know me at all, you know I love the cutesy things in life, but I do not have a cutesy or crafty bone in my body.  So whenever I see something cutesy, I decide I must. have. it.

Pros of having a home management binder:

  • Once it’s out of your head, you don’t have to remember it.  Much less stress.
  • Everything in one spot.
  • Cutesy!
  • Easy to organize.
  • Easy to change and adapt.

However, this method didn’t really last very long.  Knowing me, that’s not very surprising.  It was a pain to lug that huge binder everywhere. And when adding something like this to your life, it takes awhile for the correct habits to form.  You have to remember to check your binder often.  You have to look for the binder often. You have to remember to carry the binder with you. You can see why it didn’t work so well.

Fast forward several years and I got a super handy thing called a tablet.  Squee!!  Oh my heck, this thing was amazing.  It had a calendar, so I could immediately record important events and appointments.  It had a sticky-note-type-thing app so I could take notes and not lose them all over the house.  It had a homeschool planner app so I could record our lesson plans and attendance.  I could go on and on. This thing was amazing.

So when I discovered an ebook that promised to turn a tablet into a Home Management Binder, I knew I had to read it!  It’s called Paperless Organization by Mystie Winckler.  At only $3.99, it has been worth every single penny.  In this book, she teaches how to use free apps (on both the Android and iOS market) to help with all the organization of your home, school, work, life, etc.

I don’t use it exactly as she does.  A friend showed me this website, which teaches how to use Evernote as a task manager.  If one uses this method, one of the apps from Mystie’s book is unnecessary. So today, I’m going to talk about how I use Evernote as a Home Management binder and a to-do list.

So what is Evernote?  Simply put, Evernote is an electronic binder.  You can create “notes.”  Groups of notes are put together into “notebooks.”  Groups of notebooks go together into “stacks.”  It was easier for me to remember that it compared to a physical binder like this:

Stacks=binders

Notebooks=tabbed dividers

Notes=pieces of paper

Before I found Evernote, I’d come up with the idea of using a spiral notebook for some of our subjects.  Story of the World is an example.  I didn’t want our lesson plans to be so strict that I planned the entire year beforehand and we could never deviate, lest the plans become discombobulated.  No one likes discombobulation, even though it’s really fun to say.  But I couldn’t just fly by the seat of my pants with the SOTW Activity Guide.  There were too many craft items and books to gather before hand.  So in my spiral, I put the chapter title at the top of each page and went through the Activity Guide writing down all the craft supplies, books, and any other items I would need ahead of time.  Then when I browsed Pinterest or other blogs, if I saw a fun idea, I could write it on the correlating chapter page. I’d take a picture for you, but that notebook got lost.

So then, I had the brilliant idea of using a three ring binder.  I could put multiple subjects into the binder (Artistic Pursuits, SOTW, Elemental Science) and use it in the same way.  Then when I planned my homeschool week, I wouldn’t have to take out each book and go through the teacher’s guides, it would all be written down in that 3 ring binder.

I’d love to show you a picture of it, but alas, it is also lost.

Do you know what does not get lost?  That’s right, my tablet!  It’s practically attached at my hip.  I’ve been YouTubing and tweaking and YouTubing and tweaking all over to get my Evernote organized just the way I want.  I’ve had many people ask me how I do it, so here’s a video showing you how I use it.

I forgot to mention some of the benefits of the Web Clipper.  Pinterest just copies the URL and pairs it with a picture.  The Web Clipper actually saves a copy of the clipped item, even if a change was made to the clipped site.  So there will be no messed up links, no links that take you to spam, and the information will always stay in your Evernote even if the site is taken down.  Also, everything in Evernote is searchable, even the text from a clipped article.  So if you can’t remember exactly what the project was, you might be able to do a search for it and find it that way.

To use Evernote as a to-do list, The Secret Weapon (TSW) has a series of tags.  As you have projects come to you, you tag each note with the corresponding time frame of when you think you’ll actually get around to it. As you work through the projects, you change the note’s tag and move other projects up higher on your priority list.  To be honest, I haven’t experimented much with this system; I’ve been busy focusing on getting the binder side of Evernote set up and running.  But last week I did remember that I was in charge of part of our Relief Society Activity.  I used Evernote to come up with a list of everything that needed to be done and I spread that work out over the next few days.  As I thought of new ideas or when I completed tasks, I updated my Evernote so I always knew exactly where I stood.  The day of the activity, I was busy, but I was not stressed. I had done as much work ahead of time as I could, I did what needed to be finished (checking off my to do list as I went), and I brought everything I needed (also on a checklist).  That was the most pain-free project I have *ever* done.  Here’s a brief video clip of how I used Evernote for a task manager.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments.  I’m not anywhere close to being the world’s tech savviest person, but I am a mean Googler and YouTuber.  For more detailed descriptions of how to use Evernote, please see The Secret Weapon and Paperless Organization.

Megan Danielle  is mom to three children: Pigby (boy, age 7), Digby (boy, age 4), and Chuck (girl, age 2).  She loves history, ballroom dance, and crocheting.  She made the decision to homeschool when her oldest was 3 and they’ve been on this journey ever since.

Nature Studies, Science

February 2013 — Late Summer

by Rose-Marie

Previous post: Introduction

I decided to start our nature study journalling with the beginning of Daughter’s first year of school, which began around the end of January here in Australia. Naturally, it took a month to get around to it. Since I can’t remember the truth, I’m going to pretend that was deliberate, as I had come up with a brilliant idea to visit each of the major terrain types in our state, once each season. We live in ‘dry woodlands.’

I need to get another pet hate out of my system, if you’ll bear with me.  I think it is silly the way Australians whinge about the seasons not conforming to an inverted Northern Hemisphere system, when the Indigenous people have perfectly good and, unsurprisingly, more accurate calendars of their own. I am on a one-woman crusade to try and make people notice this and will post this link featuring our local indigenous calendar (which seems true to the Melbourne area and a fair chunk of central Victoria) whenever it comes up in online conversations. Which it just has. Heh.

Just so you all know, I have great plans for my daughter’s handwriting to end up better than mine. I do my best to encourage her to narrate the captions for her pictures, but as I said in the previous post, her learning challenges (Echolalia) get in the way a bit. So, for the foreseeable future, any writing in the journal will be a team effort.

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This is the one hand-drawn picture she did about our first round of nature study tours. We went to the Hattah-Kulkyne National Park (would link if I could find a site with decent photos) to see the Mallee and Inland waterways terrain types. Lovely scenery, nearly went insane with the flies trying to climb into our eyes, ears, and noses. What you see below is an ant hill.

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Her contribution to the notation was “the sand was orange and the ants were black.”

Next post: Early Summer to Late Winter

Rose-Marie was one of those enthusiastic planners who began researching when she was pregnant with her first. She wanted to homeschool because it sounded like an affordable adventure, then she met her kids personally…
DD is 6 years old and has Echolalia and some processing issues so isn’t speaking fluently yet. DS is 4 years old, has retained primitive reflexes and while there may be a deity somewhere who knows what’s going to happen with this kid, he/she/it hasn’t chosen to inform us. They live on a hill in rural southern Australia without enough solar panels and like it there.