Thursday, December 6, 2012

Practicing Fine Motor Skills

I was at a friend's house a few weeks ago with the kidlets and they were all sitting around making melty bead projects.  Everyone, that is, except my youngest.  He was getting very frustrated with the tiny pieces and couldn't seem to make it work.

The BFF quickly took out some biggie beads for him and had him try those.  He could do those! It seemed that the problem was his fine motor skills.  I knew I needed to do something about it.  This particular child has always been on the backside of normal for all of his developmental milestones and would need some mommy intervention to help him improve.

Enter the fine motor skills activities.  Among many google searches, I found this particular site: and used some of the ideas with things I had around the house.

These were our favorites:

1. The Button Game: Put buttons in one bowl.  Using tweezers, the child transfers the buttons from the full bowl to the empty bowl.

2. The Pouring Game: We put marbles and small toys into a cup and then he poured them back and forth.  He actually played with this one for about ten minutes! It's the little things, I suppose.

3. Snowmen: Next, we got out the playdoh and I demonstrated how to make snowmen. Then, it was his turn.

4. The Birdy Catches the Worms: He did this one really well but only wanted to do it once.  He seemed to like the worms. To do it, we cut up a couple of pipe cleaners and bent the small pieces to make our "worms" and then he used a clothespin as his "beak" to catch the worms.

These are only a few of the tons of activities on that blog! Go check it out for even more fine motor skills practice!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Pattern Time! A Turkey Leg Hat!

**Repost from the Wee Little Changes blog! This is MY pattern.**

Let me know if anything in the crochet pattern below is unclear. This is my very first written-down and then published pattern, done in honor of Thanksgiving! I think you're all going to love it!! :)

A Turkey Leg Hat

Gauge: 10 rows, 16 double crochet stitches in a 4X4” square
Materials: J hook, or size needed to obtain gauge; Caron Simply Soft in chocolate brown and Red Heart off white
Size: Fits 19-21” head (Newborn adjustment listed under rd 6 and fits ~11-13” head)


With brown, ch 2
Rd 1: 12 dc in 2nd ch from hook, join w sl st to 1st dc st. Ch 3 and turn (ch 3 counts as 1st st in next rd and beyond).
Rd 2: 2 dc in each st around. Join, ch 3, and turn. (24)
Rd 3: Dc around. Join, ch 3, and turn. (24)
Rd 4: 1 dc in ch 3 sp, 1 dc in next sp, *2 dc in next sp, 1 dc in next* repeat * to * around. Join, ch 3, and turn. (36)
Rd 5: Dc around. Join, ch 3, and turn. (36)
Rd 6: 1 dc in ch 3 sp, 1 dc in each of next 2 sp, *2 dc in next sp, 1 dc in each of next 2 sp*. Repeat * to *around. Join, ch 3, and turn. (48)
(Newborn size: Rd 6: 1 dc in ch 3 sp, 1 dc in each of next 6 sp, *2 dc in next sp, 1 dc in each of next 6 sp*. Repeat * to * around. Join, ch 3, and turn. (42) Rd 7-13: Dc around. Fasten off. (42))Rd 7: Dc around. Join, ch 3, and turn. (48)
Rd 8: 1 dc in ch 3 sp, 1 dc in each of next 5 sp, *2 dc in next sp, 1 dc in each of next 5 sp*. Repeat * to * around. Join, ch 3, and turn. (56)
Rd 9-17: Dc around. Join, ch 3, and turn. (56)
Rd 18-19: Work in a ribbing pattern, *2 FPDC, 2 BPDC*repeating * to * around. Fasten off.

Turkey Legs (make 2):

**These turkey legs are worked in a spiral as for amigurumi style toys; place markers at the ends of the rows as necessary**

With brown, ch 2
Rd 1: Work 6 sc in 2nd chain from hook
Rd 2: Work 2 sc in each of next 6 sc spaces (12)
Rd 3: Work 1 sc in each of the next 12 sc sp (12)
Rd 4: Work 2 sc in next sp and then 1 in the sp after that, alternating through the round (18)
Rd 5: Work evenly through row (18)
Rd 6: Work 2 sc in next sp and then 1 in next 2 sp, alternating through the round (24)
Rd 7-8: Work evenly through row (24)
Rd 9: *dec across first 2 st, 1 sc in next 2 sp* to end of round (18)
Rd 10: Work evenly through row (18)
***Stop here and stuff the end***
Rd 11: *dec across first 2 st, 1 sc in next sp* to end of round (12)
Rd 12: Work evenly through the row (12)
Rd 13: *dec across first 2 st, 1 sc in next sp* to end of round (8)
Rd 14-15: Work evenly through the row (8)
***Stop here and stuff a very small amount of stuffing in the “leg” of the turkey leg***
Rd 16: Switching to white, work 8 sc evenly spaced and then weave the ends through the st in order to pull tightly and close the end. Fasten off.


Attach turkey legs to upper sides of hat. Use the picture above and try out the spacing on your child’s head to figure the proper placement.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Pattern Time! A Fuzzy Cupcake Hat: Newborn Size

Repost: A Fuzzy Cupcake Hat-newborn size
**As it previously appeared on the Wee Little Changes blog**

Materials: J hook, Vanna’s choice in chocolate, White Fun Fur, and off-white or white Red heart worsted weight yarn, ~12 buttons to use for sprinkles, a yarn needle and some scrap yarn for button sewing.

Size: Fits a newborn sized to small infant sized head, approximately 13-15” (give or take) with a note for slightly larger heads after row 9.


Row 1: Holding white and white fun fur yarns together (here and throughout top of hat), ch 2. Work 12 dc sts into 2nd ch from hook. Join last st w a sl st to 1st st to create a circle of dc’s, ch 3 and turn (ch 3 counts as 1st st in next row here and throughout unless otherwise noted).

Row 2: Work 1 dc in join sp, then 2 dc in each dc sp around, join, ch 3, and turn. (24)

Row 3: DC around evenly, join, ch 3, and turn. (24)

Row 4: Work 1 dc in join sp, 1 in next dc sp, *2 dc in next sp, 1 in next sp* repeating * to * around; join, ch 3, and turn. (36)

Row 5: DC around evenly, join, ch 3, and turn. (36)

Row 6: Work 1 dc in join sp, 1 in each of next 2 dc sp, *2 dc in next sp, 1 in each of next 2 sp* repeating * to * around; join, ch 3, and turn. (48)

Row 7-9: DC around evenly. Fasten off white and white fun fur. (48)

Row 10: With brown, join to hat where you stopped with the whites to continue to your next row. Decrease by 6 stitches evenly around (every 6th st worked well for me). (42)

**If you’d like this hat to fit a slightly larger head, do not decrease the sts in row 10, but continue to work with 48 sts per row adding 1-2 rows more of rib below bringing the final row count to 15 rather than 13.**

Row 11-13: Rib the hat by repeating 2 FPDC, 2 BPDC around being sure to match the stitches around from the rows above. (42) Fasten off at end of row 13.


Using your yarn needle and spare yarn to match the top of your hat, sew on buttons scattered randomly across the top.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Maia of Thebes notebooking pages 2

We've been busily working on school the last two weeks which means that my posts have become fewer and fewer.  I wanted to get some more of these notebooking pages up for anyone who wants to use them. These are for chapters 7 through 12.

Here they are:

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Maia of Thebes notebooking pages

The fourth grader and I started reading one of his books for school this week, "Maia of Thebes." Maia is a little girl living in ancient Egypt with her aunt, uncle, and brother.  More than anything she wants to be a scribe.  But there's just one problem, girls cannot learn to be scribes so Maia must learn in secret.

Notebooking is something that I really wanted to do with my kids this year.  It was a fun way to review what they learned while also creating some great pages for their portfolios.  We are only a few pages into our notebooking journey with this book, but I wanted to share our first few pages awhile.  I'll add more as we get more but for now, here are the pages for the first six chapters of the book, "Maia of Thebes."

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Have You Heard About the Scholastic Dollar Deals?

The dollar deals days are here from Scholastic and you don't want to miss them! August 20-27, 2012 Scholastic is offering tons of their ebooks for just $1!  Check out the sale here:

Yesterday I got some really great books to fill in the holes in our curriculum...actually, I probably didn't need any of them but they were a dollar! How do you pass up a deal like that?

This is a list of what I got yesterday:

1. Super One Page Math Comics
2. Hands-on Explorers
3. Ready to Go Super Book of Outline Maps
4. Literature Guide: The Giver
5. Hands-on Writing Activities that get Kids Ready for the Writing Assessments
6. 40 Funtabulous Puzzles for Multiplication, Division, Decimals, Fractions, and more
7. Real Life Writing Activities Based on Picture Books
8. Teaching Science with Favorite Picture Books
9. Zach the Lazy Zebra
10. 15 Fun and Easy Games for Young Learners: Math
11. Map Skills Made Fun: Neighborhoods and Communities
12. Pre-writing Practice Pages
13. I Like Stripes (level A)
14. Tail Tales (level C)
15. Safety First
16. Amazing Hands-on Map Activities
17. Teaching Elaboration and Word Choice
18. I Can Write my ABCs: Quick and Creative Activities
19. Comic-strip Grammar
20. Spell Well!
21. Awesome Activities to Help Reluctant Writers Succeed!

I have to say, I have looked through most of these and will likely go back and get a few more! I'm very happy with the majority of my purchases so far. :)

We are doing Tapestry of Grace this year as a family so the outline map book is going to be great! I need some maps to work with instead of hunting for free downloads online.  And the math puzzle book will be great reinforcement for my 7th and 4th graders, but especially for the 7th grader who will be working on the basics this year in order to prepare for pre-algebra next year. And those math comics? My older boys are going to just love those!

If you've placed a dollar deals order, what have you picked up? Happy schooling!

Friday, August 17, 2012

What do I do with them?

If you're like me, you likely have lots of kids in a bunch of different stages of their lives.  So what do you do with the kids that aren't really school-aged that still need some quality entertainment? How do you get through a school day without guilt over "ignoring" the youngest?

Now don't get me wrong, I don't really ignore him! He would never stand for that. Lol.  But it's a lot of "sure, you can have some more chocolate milk." And "here, why don't you color this picture for mama?" Or "I'll set up a train track for you in a minute."

I want this year to be different and that's why I've come up with a list of things to do with him while the others are schooling. :)  I'm hoping that by sharing this, someone out there will get some wonderful ideas for their own little ones.

Websites with fun games for little ones:


Free Curriculum Sites for the littles, some with printables:

5. (some free content)

Craft ideas that are preschool friendly:


A few open and go ideas for preschoolers:

1. Playdoh (add cookie cutters and other fun stuff to make this last a whole 15 minutes instead of just 10, lol)
2. water paints
3. coloring books/pages
4. puzzles
5. new books
6. math manipulatives

Some messy ideas:

1. shaving cream art on a table
2. sidewalk chalk with water (makes the chalk look/feel different when drawing)
3. make your own colored bubbles to use outside
4. finger paints

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Math Notebooking Pages

This year I think we're going to take a stab at math notebooking for all of the kids.  The fourth grader and the first grader will be doing Math-U-See this year while the seventh grader is trying out Life of Fred.  I really wanted some pages to go along with these, so I came up with the following:

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Art Class

We've all got certain requirements that our states want us to meet and one of those here in Pennsylvania is art.  In our portfolios, we must show evidence of art somewhere.  This is easier with one of my children than some of the others as he is very into drawing!  In fact, he's spent the last several weeks learning about cartooning online!

I grew up attending public school and hating the whole learning process, so the fact that my wonderful child wants to learn something new over the summer is still mind-boggling to me sometimes but then I remember: this is one of the big reasons I am homeschooling them!  I want them to learn NOW what it took me so long to realize. Learning should be a fun, life-long, enjoyable experience.

Anyway, here's a picture he's recently done:

This picture was done by my upcoming fourth grader using instruction that he received here:

This was one of his first pictures.  Since then, he has done dozens more, several of which have made the cut to the portfolio for this year.

Some other free art sites we like:

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Dinosaur Notebooking Pages

Here's a few more dinosaur notebooking pages.  These have clip art added to them for a little more visual interest.  I make my notebooking pages black and white for a few reasons.  One, it's easier on the wallet if I'm only printing in blacks and grays.  And two, it gives my kids a chance to be a little more creative by coloring the pages themselves in any shades or colors they choose.

Enjoy the pages!

Dinosaur Unit Study with Notebooking Pages!

Before we officially kick off our homeschool year, we'll ease into it with a week-long unit study on dinosaurs.  Now this subject is tricky in our house as we are a Christian family and I'm not ready to introduce evolution or the big bang theory to most of my children (the seventh grader already knows about these).

Whether you're interested in introducing those subjects or not, I've got some fun websites, books, and activities planned for the week that I thought I'd share with you all! We'll be discussing things like what the different dinosaurs ate, their size, fossils and where/how to find them, and more.

The websites we'll be using, both for information and activities/projects:


Books we're using:

1. Magic Tree House Dinosaurs Before Dark
2. Magic Tree House Sunset of the Sabertooth
3. Magic Tree House Fact Tracker #1 Dinosaurs
4. Bones Rock! Everything You Need to Know to be a Paleontologist
5. Eyewitness Handbooks Fossils
6. The Mystery of History
7. From This Earth Fossils
8. The Nature and Science of Fossils
9. Jurassic Park Istitute Dinsaur Field Guide
10. National Geographic Dinosaurs
11. Dinosaur Mummies Beyond Bare-Bone Fossils
12. Dragonbreath Series Books (okay, so they aren't dinosaurs but it DOES get my fourth grader reading for the new school year, lol)

We'll also be doing several notebooking pages. There are tons available online both for free and for purchase.  You can also easily make your own.  You can see some of the ones I've created below. Feel free to use them in your own notebooking if you wish!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Wrinkle in Time, Chapter Twelve

We're finishing up the final chapter today! Here's a link to chapter twelve on SparkNotes:

Chapter Twelve: The Foolish and the Weak


accord formidably indignation broccoli catapulted

  1. Why was Meg so angry for so long in this chapter?
  2. Why is Meg the only one that can go back and save Charles Wallace?
  3. When Mrs. Which said she had something that It did not, did you know right away what it was? Why do you suppose that was what worked to free Charles Wallace?
  4. Give me some examples of the love theme that you've seen in this final chapter.
  5. Did you like the ending of this book? Why or why not? Is there anything you wish had happened but didn't?

    **For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. -1 Corinthians 1:25 (NIV)

Noteworthy Notes from SparkNotes:

-The gifts Meg receives in this chapter allude to Christianity.
-Meg returns home a changed person and is finally comfortable with who she is.

Monday, August 6, 2012

A Wrinkle in Time, Chapter Eleven

Here's a link to today's chapter in SparkNotes:

Chapter Eleven: Aunt Beast


emanate           trepidation           frigid           oppressive             perplexity
opaque         converged         gorge          reverberated

  1. “How can you explain sight on a world where no one has ever seen and where there is no need of eyes?” How would you answer this question?
  2. Aunt Beast tells Meg that their planet has help in their fight against the black thing. Who is helping them? *Hint, look at the capitalization of Him here.
  3. On Ixchel, the beasts cannot see. Initially, Meg seems to feel that their lack of sight is limiting for them. Do you feel this is true or no? Why or why not?
  4. Tell me what you think about Meg's reaction to her father on Ixchel. Would you feel the same way in similar circumstances? Explain.
  5. How would you describe the Mrs. W's to the beasts on Ixchel?
 Noteworthy Notes from SparkNotes:

-Ixchel is named for the Mayan goddess of the rainbow and patron of medicine.
-L'Engle is challenging our assumptions about people communicate with one another and how they perceive the world in this chapter.
-Calvin's gift of communication is finally useful here.
-Ordinary speech isn't used on Ixchel so this complicates communication with them throughout the chapter.
-In being forced to describe light to Aunt Beast, Meg realizes that sight and perception are separate, that sight is just one way to view the world.
-"The disassociation between sight and perception functions to reinforce one of the novel's major themes: the relationship between appearances and reality."

Friday, August 3, 2012

A Wrinkle in Time, Chapter Ten

Here's a link to notes on chapter ten on SparkNotes:

Chapter Ten: Absolute Zero


imperceptable       disappointment       corrosive         fallible         assuaged

  1. When Meg wakes up, she is unable to move or talk. Which of Meg's “faults” is most present in those moments?
  2. Mr. Murry told Calvin that he was the second to try out tessering after the first had left and never returned. Was it foolish for him to go on and do it anyway? Why or why not? What would you have done?
  3. Think back to the description of the planet that Meg, Mr. Murry, and Calvin are on currently. Based on looks and description, do you think this sounds like a dark planet or no?
  4. When Meg is finally able to speak, she lashes out at her father and it is said that she “is as much in the power of the black thing as Charles Wallace.” Explain what that sentence means.
  5. Why do you suppose Mr. Murry quotes scripture to Meg in the midst of her anger and frustration? **

** “All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” This is a Bible verse quoted from Romans 8:28.  

Noteworthy Notes from SparkNotes:

-Absolute Zero, the title of the chapter, is a scientific term.  It refers to "the temperature at which all molecular motion ceases, -273 degrees Celcius."
-As Meg begins to regain feeling, the massaging of her father's hands feels painful to her.  She winces and he explains that the pain is good-it means she is beginning to feel again.
-"Meg will only later understand that she is often threatened by internal evils just like the one possessing Charles Wallace externally."
-Meg is lashing out at Mr. Murry in this chapter because she still has the immature belief that he is superhuman, able to do anything.  When she can understand that he is only human, she will be truly mature. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Wrinkle in Time, Chapter Nine

Here's a link to the free SparkNotes for this chapter:

Chapter Nine: IT


placidly       gropingly          brusquely         impenetrable         myopic
insolent       ominous           inexorable          dais         omnipitent

  1. The Mrs. W's leave each child with something to help them in their battle against IT. To Meg, they leave her faults. As we read through chapter nine, can you see how Meg's faults are really unique gifts? Explain.
  2. Why do you suppose that Mrs. Who's glasses allow Meg the ability to get through the wall between her and her father?
  3. When Meg breaks through the wall using Mrs. Who's glasses, she finds herself not only with her father but in complete darkness as well. It's here that we physically see again that IT uses darkness in this battle between good and evil. Can you find other examples of darkness versus the light?
  4. Why is Meg so disappointed after releasing her father?
  5. “Like and equal are not the same thing at all!” This is Meg's response when IT tries to twist the truth about life on Camazotz. With this in mind, do you think it's true that destroying IT means destroying Charles Wallace? Why or why not? And if it might not be true, why isn't Meg willing to take the risk?

    Noteworthy Notes from SparkNotes:

    -Meg recites the Declaration of Independence in an attempt to fight IT which is significant because the Declaration is against all that Camazotz has become.
    -Only the irrational roots of numbers stand a chance against IT, which is why Meg uses them in her resistance.
    -L'Engle uses a brain to represent IT to remind us that intellect without emotion leads to sameness and causes us to loose our creativity.
    -"Charles downfall demonstrates that intelligence and intellect alone cannot resist the tyranny of uniformity."

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Wrinkle in Time, Chapter Eight

Here are today's SparkNotes to go with the questions:

My questions and vocab:

Chapter Eight: The Transparent Column


pinioned         somber         swivet           misconception            pedantic
annihilate        sulfurous          ominous          sadist          emanate

  1. Who or what do you think has taken over Charles Wallace in the beginning of the chapter?
  2. Can you think of anyone else who tries to twist the truth for his own gain? How can you tell?
  3. “IT sometimes calls Itself the Happiest Sadist.” What makes this phrase funny to Charles Wallace? What does it mean?
  4. Meg knows just by looking at Charles Wallace that he isn't him anymore. Give me some examples of things he says and does throughout the chapter that prove that he isn't himself at the moment.
  5. Given the option, would you rather face life with some disappointment mixed with happiness OR no disappointment coupled with zero happiness?

    Noteworthy Notes from SparkNotes:

    -When Charles Wallace tells them "not to fight it" he is echoing the words of others the children have encountered on Camazotz.
    -Grabbing Charles Wallace's arms and Calvin's attempt to talk to the "real Charles" are both examples of extreme love, something that IT doesn't want people to have on Camazotz.
    -While rearranging atoms is actually impossible, it does point to the influence of quantum physics on L'Engle.
    -Though Calvin and Meg don't get through to Charles Wallace, they do learn enough about IT that they are ready to face IT.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Wrinkle in Time, Chapter Seven

Here's a link to the free SparkNotes:

Chapter Seven- The Man with Red Eyes


bilious proposition obliquely chortling gallivanting
opaque inefficient preliminaries belligerent

  1. What is the man in the suit really reporting about the children?
  2. When we first met the man with the red eyes, did you get the impression that he was IT or have we not met IT yet?
  3. The man talks to the children about allowing him to make all the decisions for them, of having a life like the others on Camazotz. What is so wrong with the sameness of this planet?
  4. Why does Charles Wallace taste sand for dinner while Meg and Calvin are having roasted turkey?
  5. How do you see Meg's imperfections helping the children throughout this chapter? Give me some examples.

    Noteworthy Notes from SparkNotes:

    -Camazotz is all about uniformity.  This is different from the togetherness that the children must maintain in order to "win."
    -Their togetherness is symbolized by their hand-holding.
    -Things on Camazotz are not as they seem, which the children really realize with the man.
    -Camazotz is an extreme example of uniformity and conformity.

Monday, July 30, 2012

A Wrinkle in Time, Chapter Six

I'm back! And we're moving on to chapter six. Again, these are the SparkNotes available for free that go alongside my own literary guide questions:

 Chapter Six- The Happy Medium


seethe           writhe          anticlimax           faltered          chiding          propitious
wheedled      unkempt      myopic               eon                precipitously

  1. Talk to me about what the happy medium showed the children in regards to the Dark Thing and the stars. What happened?
  2. Describe the differences between Calvin's house and Meg's house when the Happy Medium tuned into their homes. Which was more loving? More calm? More angry? More overwhelmed?
  3. “Stay angry, little Meg,” Mrs. Whatsit whispered. Why does she want her to stay angry? Is there such a thing as “justifiable anger” and do you think it is present here? If not, what do you think about that phrase from Mrs. Whatsit?
  4. What is your impression of Camazotz? Do you have any idea how they are doing everything in exactly the same rhythm? Do you see any foreshadowing here and what is it?
  5. Think back on Meg's faults (we discussed them back in chapter 1, remember?), do you see any places where they may be helping her in this chapter? Remember, Mrs. Whatsit said she would need her faults here.
  6. What do you think an aberration is in Camazotz? Think about all the woman says and all they've seen so far. With that in mind, why are they afraid? What's your guess?

    Some noteworthy notes from SparkNotes:

    - Meg is continually learning in this chapter that "people are far more complex and complicated than they initially appear."
    - Camazotz shows us the dangers of a world that has no creativity or individuality within it.
    - Camazotz represents Meg's desire for conformity and shows her what it would be like if she had her wish and there were no "oddballs."
    -Camazotz is named for a malignant Mexican deity worshipped as a dark and evil vampire."
    - Both Camazotz and Meg's hometown are devoid of love, however, Meg doesn't see the parallels between the two places yet.

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Wrinkle in Time, Chapter Five Study

Moving on, we'll take a look at chapter five which really tells the children what they are up against and what they'll be doing.  Here is the link to this section on SparkNotes, which I will of course continue to reference: 

My notes:

Chapter Five-The Tesseract


impractical indignant protoplasm corporeal plaintively
sonorous raptly reverberated

  1. Think back to Meg's description of two dimensional. “A flat square would be in the second dimension.” Why can't they stop on the two-dimensional planet? Had you ever considered the idea that there was a whole planet devoted to the idea of two-dimensional objects?
  2. Google the term “orion's belt stars.” Take a look at the children's first stop after leaving Uriel. Do you think it would be interesting to be able to travel about space like they are doing now? If you could do it, which constellation would you visit first?
  3. Mrs. Whatsit said they took a time tesser as well as the space tesser we already knew about. Do you suppose that Mrs. Murry will believe anything that Meg and Charles Wallace try to tell her when they get back?
  4. What do you suppose Mrs. Whatsit meant when she said, “And if something goes terribly wrong it won't matter whether we ever get back at all.”
  5. If you'll recall, “happy medium” was referenced several chapters back when Mrs. Murry was speaking with Meg. In this chapter, we see the phrase “happy medium” put into a three-dimensional being. Describe her here.
  6. “There will no longer be so many pleasant things to look at if responsible people do not do something about the unpleasant ones.” What do you think this means to the story? What could it mean to our world here and now?

    Some interesting notes from SparkNotes:

    -This chapter clearly shows L-Engle's understanding of time and space, of science.
    -We see more of Meg's character here and her desire to understand everything.
    -Calvin and Charles Wallace list great religious leaders and artists while Meg lists only mathematicians and scientists.  This points to the idea that Meg is still unable to grasp any concept that is beyond our realm of logical thinking or understanding.
    -Meeting the "happy medium" reminds Meg of her mother's advice from chapter one.
    -Meg's impatience rears its head here again toward the end of the chapter when she longs to see her father.

    **FYI, I'll be taking the week off of blogging next week! Chapter 6 will be posted on or around 7/30!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Wrinkle in Time, Chapter Four

Here's what I have for chapter four:

Chapter Four- The Black Thing


authoritative      corporeal      elliptic      inexorable     indignantly
centaur       monoliths      incomprehensible       corona

  1. Meg says in this chapter that Mrs. Which is “someone in whom she could put complete trust.” Why do you think she feels this way? Do you agree with her? If not, which of the three would you trust most? Why?
  2. On a related note, in your opinion, why do all three of these characters-Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin-seem so willing to accept Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit, and Mrs. Which?
  3. What do you think of Uriel? Do you really understand how they got there? Where do you suppose it is? Another time, another place, both?
  4. Describe, in your own words, what happened when the black thing appeared before them.
  5. What do you suppose the black thing is? Is it comparable to anything in your own life?

Summarize chapter four using as many sentences as necessary:

And, as before, I am also going to post some interesting quotes from SparkNotes as found here:

-On the planet Uriel, the children encounter both the good and the evil at battle with one another.
-Uriel is named for a a guardian angel, which is just one of many religious references in this chapter.
-Biblical verses are used to translate the beings of Uriel.
-The references to music point back to the author's own love of music.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Wrinkle in Time, Chapter Three

Good morning!

We're moving right along to chapter three. Here's the free SparkNotes information for this chapter:

Here's the questions and vocab/spelling I've come up with for use with this chapter:

Chapter Three-Mrs. Which


gamboled retort judiciously indignant dubiously

  1. When Calvin was talking about his family, what was he trying to say about the way things were at home? Does his family really ignore him, do you think, or does he just feel that way? Do you think his life at home has anything to do with why he was in the woods?

  1. In this chapter, it's revealed that Meg is very talented in one particular area. What is it? And why don't her teachers know about it? Do you have a secret talent like that? What is it?

  1. Calvin uses the word “moron” quite often. Why do you suppose he does it?

  1. Where do you think they'll be going now that Charles Wallace has said “it's time?” And how do you think they'll get there?

  1. What do think of Mrs. Which? What did she mean by “materialize?” Did this scene give you more insight into the future of the story? What is this forcing Meg to understand?

Summarize chapter three using as many sentences as necessary:

Interesting Information from SparkNotes:

- Meg is, yet again, forced to face the fact that "reality is not always as it seems" when Mrs. Which is obviously "there" but not really "there" for her to fully see.
- It's important that many of the characters wear glasses (Meg, Mr. Murry, Mrs. Who).  This reinforces the idea that "things are not always as they seem" and that Meg needs to learn "to see things more clearly."
- Calvin is surprised to learn that Meg is very gifted in the area of math.
-Calvin's question about mass and energy points to the fact that L'Engle based the idea for this book on her reading of Albert Einstein's and Panck's latest works.
- Chapter three is full of examples of love, which is the theme of the entire story.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Wrinkle in Time, Chapter Two

Welcome back to chapter two!  Again, I'll be using the free SparkNotes guide to go along with my own stuff from here:

My questions and vocab/spelling:

Chapter Two- Mrs. Who


unceremoniously      avid        ferocious        belligerent         tractable
bacteriology            antagonistic          peremptory        inadvertently         indignation

  1. At school, the teachers say Meg has an “attitude.” Describe it and tell me two ways she could improve it.

  1. Pushing up her glasses is described as meg's “characteristic gesture.” What would be yours if you were in a book?

  1. Knowing Mr. Wallace is a physicist, what do you think happened to him? Why has it “been so long since the last letter?”

  1. What do you think causes Calvin's “compulsions?” Have you ever experienced anything like that?

  1. At the end of this chapter, Mrs. Who said Mr. Murry needed their help. What's your prediction?

Summarize chapter two using as many sentences as necessary:

Some interesting items from SparkNotes:

-"Critics have compared Meg's frustration with the useless information she learns in school to L'Engle's personal frustration with the narrowness of certain Christian doctrines. Just as L'Engle understands her novels as part of a constant quest to find a meaningful theology from among thickets of empty doctrine and repressive dogma, Meg insists on trying to find meaning and purpose in a tedious and seemingly pointless pedagogical exercise."
- Considering the large number of things that Meg can't seem to understand-memorization in school, the conversation between Charles Wallace, Calvin, and Mrs. Who, for example- Mrs. Murry's comment makes all of this make much more sense: "You don't need to understand things for them to be."
-At various points in the story, each of the three main characters here (Meg, Charles, and Calvin) express an inability to understand some part of their life.  For example, Charles can "read" Meg and his mother but he doesn't know how.
-Meg admits to knowing one thing for certain in this chapter: that Charles Wallace loves her.

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Wrinkle in Time, Chapter One

This literary guide is free with questions written by me.  I have also read through the book and added possible vocabulary and/or spelling words that were suitable from the text for my 12 year old son.  Feel free to add, subtract, or replace as you see fit.

Some other ideas here would be to do some dictation work and see which words your son or daughter are misspelling or to even have them write down any words they don't know from the text as they encounter them.  This way they are actively creating their own vocabulary and/or spelling lists.

The questions I have written below are designed to get my son thinking about the book he's reading and predicting what will happen in the future.  I have also purposely made them open-ended so that he is forced to write out a good, solid thought (an area he struggles) rather than simply writing a yes/no answer.

You can purchase some great study guides here:

There are also plenty of other great sites should you choose to go that route.  I am using a free copy of the SparkNotes guide to go along with my own.  You can see that here:

The questions and vocab/spelling I'll be using for this chapter:

Chapter One- Mrs. Whatsit

Vocabulary/spelling words:

frenzied          crevices         intoned        scudded         liverwurst
frivoling          wraithlike       luxuriously   exclusive        prodigious

  1. Describe Margaret “Meg” Murry's character, both physically and mentally/emotionally. How does she see herself? How does her family seem to see her? Who do you think is right? What seems to be her main "issue" at this point?
  1. What do you think is going on with Charles Wallace?

  1. Why do you think Mrs. Whatsit is wearing so much when we meet her?

  1. “If you have some liniment I'll put it on my dignity.” What does this mean?

    5. Why do you think Mrs. Murry was so upset about the tesseract comment from Mrs. Whatsit?

    6.Do you see any examples of possible foreshadowing (predictions of what is to come in the future of the book) in this chapter?

Please summarize chapter one using as many sentences as necessary:

Some interesting thoughts from SparkNotes:

-In this first chapter, Meg "desperately wants to fit in and feel more comfortable in her identity."  
-Her family is notoriously known in their town: Charles Wallace didn't speak until he was four, her father and mother are brilliant scientists, her father has disappeared. 
-While Meg is very typical, Charles Wallace is very obviously extraordinary.  He teaches himself new vocabulary, carries on conversations with older ladies with ease, and seems to be able to read his mother and sister's minds.
-Mrs. Whatsit has magical abilities which sets the stage for the story being one of science fiction and fantasy.
-There are several instances of "foreshadowing" present in this chapter: "happy medium" is mentioned, "plow through more time" is referenced, for example.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Homeschooling Decision

I recently made the bold decision to homeschool ALL of my children.  Prior to this year, I homeschooled all of them for preschool-teaching letters, numbers, counting, shapes, patterns, etc-but promptly quit and sent them on to public school for kindergarten.  That all changed a couple of years ago.

After being left behind for a few school years, Shaun and I decided it was time for our oldest to stay home.  We felt he would thrive at home with one on one attention and do much better.  And guess what? He did!  His grades improved and he was a different kid.  That was fifth grade.

Fast forward to this coming school year and all of the kids are home.  Andrew will be in seventh grade, Lukas in fourth, Lily in first, and Ian in preschool.  I've surfed the internet, googled, asked around on message boards, and done all that I could to find the free stuff, the inexpensive stuff, the stuff that will work for our family.

These are some of my favorite sites that have free stuff:

There are definitely more and I'll share them as time goes on.  But there is something lacking from the majority of these sites.  And that something is an aim at anyone older than fifth or sixth grade, at the most.  And this is a problem.  Sure, there are a few bloggers and some lesser known sites to find the middle school and high school stuff, but not nearly enough.  What begins as a somewhat simple adventure-homeschooling your child on a tiny budget-quickly grows to this difficult task as they get older!  It's discouraging.

This is a picture of the majority of our curriculum for this year for all four kids.  Some things are missing, some things need some help to become something noteworthy...we have "Swiss Family Robinson" and "Treasure Island" there, for example, but need a list of questions and vocabulary to go along with them.

So now that I've seen the problem, I intend to do something about it.  With a little legwork on my part, I can and do plan to create my own literary study guides for books that both Andrew and I will enjoy.  The first one will begin with chapter one tomorrow.  It's "A Wrinkle in Time."

I'll see you tomorrow! :)