Math Formulas in Color

Math Formulas

When my son started adding instead of multiplying when doing area, and couldn’t remember to take ½ of the number when doing triangles; I knew we needed to stop and help his mind sort out the information rolling around in there.

First thing I did to help him is color code the math formulas, this really helps form a picture in his mind.

Since he was counting numbers into the trillions I wanted to review place value. It is a great math concept to color code. Place value cups can be a hands on way to learning place value.

Then we discussed what items in life that he could picture in his mind that had perpendicular and parallel lines.  We added the compass rose to help with perpendicular and railroad tracks to help with parallel.

To remember that perimeter is adding the numbers I used addition signs in the corners.

Then when we moved into area problems I shaded the problems to help him remember that area is the inside of the shape.

We did make the h in the triangle formula a little different, but in his mind angling the H and putting the right angle line on it helps him remember.

Now we have reference sheets for when we are teaching the lesson for the 20th time and it all “seems new” to us.

Take a risk and try adding color to math formulas and extra pictures to help remember how things are supposed to work.

Math Formulas2

How to Prioritize the Important Stuff


How I prioritize the important stuff. For the last few years of juggling all the hats I wear in life, I usually visualized my priorities on a long checklist. Of course God should be first, and then my husband…. This usually led to guilt by lunchtime when I realized I had not prayed or thought of my husband.  Maybe you have been in my shoes?

Instead of visualizing that rectangle of a priority list, try a circle! Hopefully, you are familiar with the word circles that make the words larger for more usage and smaller for less. Really sometimes it can be the simple thought adjustments that help relieve me up the guilt in life.

Order 2

Now the other big thought, don’t analyze this list everyday! That weekly date night goes a long way to keeping my husband high on the list, that morning bible study gives me nuggets of truth for days, and the kids completing a huge school project. We tend to forget yesterday’s events when the stress of today is staring us down. Even worse we forget when we start comparing our inside moments to people’s outside moments. Comparison kills happiness.

OH and to remind myself to give myself grace when the washing machine breaks, the children get sick, and I haven’t showered in days. (Yeah that was my week)

Now my Priority Circle can allow the words to grow big or get smaller based on time over the week. So if my circle looks like this….better reevaluate fast!

Order 3


A Nature Drive


Bald Eagle

“Mom do you remember when you pulled over and ….” Which begins our discussions on the nature drives we have stopped to observe.

This eagle fascinated us when we found him eating his noon meal on the side of the road. He did not seemed bothered by us watching or photographing him. It was the first one we had saw living in the wild.

Most of our observations of nature happen when we are driving down a country road and we come upon some magnificence finds. I bring the car to screeching halt, often putting the car in reverse so the kids can observe.

Sometimes we get out of the car, sometime we just roll the windows down, but most important we stop and watch.

In this day of technology my kids come prepared with iPods, iPads or phones that can take photos.  When we return home the internet answers most of our questions on what we saw.

Often we have to stop for a herd of turkeys that live near by. My boys wonder if they will hide more when it gets closer to Thanksgiving.

Yes, even rainbows and storm clouds have caused me to pull over for photos. My oldest son is always watching the clouds in the sky, he predicts the weather that way.

Nature Drive Observations:

“Mom do you remember when you killed that 6 foot snake?” I laugh and reply, “Gee, I don’t think the 1 ton van I drive was a fair match for the snake.”  But I stopped the van and the boys watched the snake for a long time.

“Mom do you remember when you pulled over to watch the bald eagle eat the rabbit?”

“Mom do you remember when you pulled over and helped the baby turtles get across the road?”

I need a bumper sticker that says, “I pull over for wild life”

Do you stop your car when you see something interesting in nature?



Creative Writing Using Apps for Visual Prompts


Writing Prompts

Creative writing can sometimes be a struggle for students who can not visual a setting. I found my son could describe things better when he actually could see them.

I have been working on incorporating Apps into our homeschool. This week I purchased the Felt Board App by Software Smoothie.  Yes this app is designed for younger students but using it for creative writing as allowed me to expand the grade level of use. Check out the web site for examples of using it to create scenes of items that start with certain letters.

Creative Writing with Felt Board App:

I just loved making scenes that look like a felt board! I then handed it over to my son so he could create his own picture. Within minutes he was making choices on how his scene should look. It was easy for him to navigate the many choices provided.

Once the scene was completed, I propped up the iPad on the table and my son began brain storming about his pirate story.

Having the visual aid really helped to keep my son focused on what details needed to be included in his story. I could then ask him to describe how his pirate looked or where the pirate was standing on the boat. These prompts helped him write better descriptive sentences.

Having the scene for him to see helped to keep him from writing about something else. No need to write about the space scene when the topic sentence is about pirates.

He still has a final draft to go, but he is already talking about the sequel!

Since the App has a photo option we can take a picture of the scene and add it into his typed story.  I see a book in the making!

Even after this creative writing assignment was done, my son would create new scenes and orally told me stories.

You can even get it for android.

Fingerprint Activity


Fingerprint Activity

Using a fingerprint activity to help finish up our study of the Integumentary System. My kids have enjoyed their study of the human body and learning the importance of skin.

Now I did not have a fancy kit for crime scenes that would allow us to dust for fingerprints. Really I did not want to clean up the mess from dusting. I did not have a lot of time to plan either. So I came up with a fingerprint activity that I could do with the items in my house.

Fingerprint Activity: Crime Scene

  • ink pad for fingerprints
  • Nerf gun

I had everyone do two sets of their fingerprints. On one set I placed different dots so I would know whose set was whose but the kids would not. This is the set I used for the suspect line-up.

After allowing the kids time to study their unique prints I had them go outside and wait. This allowed me to time to stage the crime scene.

With the second set of fingerprints, I chose one child’s prints and cut out two fingers. I placed these two fingerprints on top of a Nerf gun. Then the kids had to figure out who did the crime. I did not give many details about the crime but they had no problems brainstorming ideas while they were studying the fingerprints.

I gave them the suspect line up so they could match up the fingerprints left on the Nerf gun. They had a blast trying to match them up. If we had more time we probably could have set up more crime scenes with our fingerprints.

Of course my kids wanted to write a story about the crime but that was getting us off topic! We saved the idea for creative writing later in the afternoon.

If you have time to plan you might enjoy these for your fingerprint activities.

A Lesson Learned Cleaning Out the Toy Box

cleaning out the toy box

Cleaning Out The Toy Box

Daunting chore?

I have spent days of my mother careering threatening, grumbling and complaining about toys everywhere. It only takes 2.3 seconds to undo any toy organization.

Somedays I just want to avoid the mess because of the many other things screaming for my attention. Often I just want to close the lid and forget about the glob of marshmallows hardening at the bottom.

I know cleaning out the toy box will take at least an hour of my time and a toll on my mental mind of keeping the boys focused on the task.

Chance to Listen?

Every now and then I like to sit on the floor surrounded by my kiddos and dump out the toys. Of course they get a little nervous when I do that. I have been known to throw things out rather quickly.

But sometimes I want to listen to the stories about their favorite toys. I want to share my favorite memories attached to certain toys. Sadly, there will come a day when they choose to throw out toys they no longer want. Cue the Toy Story theme music.

Yeah, for a brief moment you may notice how fast they are growing because their interest in toys has changed. For me, I no longer have cute baby or toddler toys. I actually packed a few of my favorite toys away. I am hoping they survive for the day when grandkids come to visit.

My boys were so excited to tell me about their toys that I don’t think they noticed we were actually cleaning.

What could have been a stressful day of cleaning turned into a chance to listen to what my boys love about their toys.

Yeah, reality says I can not walk down memory lane every time we need to clean out the toy box but I would encourage you occasionally to stop and listen.


Build Your Own Fort


Build Your Own Fort

My boys have a great amount of experience with building forts. Mainly our forts have been constructed out of blankets and other household materials. Today I chose a different medium to build your own fort, I thought it was time to get the boys in the kitchen.

We are studying the French and Indian War in All American History Jr. I thought it would be a great time to build a fort that resembled one that could have been constructed out of trees found in the New World.

Build Your Own Fort: Mashed Potatoes and Baby Carrots

  • cookie sheet covered with foil
  • mashed potatoes
  • baby carrots
  • peas (optional)

I thought it was a great time to teach the boys how to peal and dice potatoes. They loved the chance at being in the kitchen.

While the potatoes were cooking I read the lesson to them about the war. Then I covered a large cookie sheet with foil and flipped it upside to provide a base for the fort.

Once the potatoes were mashed, we built the perimeter for our fort. We constructed a thick layer of mashed potatoes in the shape of a rectangle.

Then taking baby carrots and placing them in the mashed potatoes we made the walls of our fort. If needed, we added extra mashed potatoes to help the carrots stand up. I am sure you could sharpen your carrots if you wanted a more authentic looking fort.

My boys could not wait for dinner! Yes, I was going to serve their fort with our baked chicken. I am sure you are wondering what happened to the peas that I had listed as optional. Well my husband came home and found this fort constructed out of food and he decided to cook some peas. He then attacked the fort with his form of cannon balls. The boys were up in arms over this.



Anatomy of the Eye with Cake Balls

Anatomy of the Eye with Cake balls

 Anatomy of the Eye: Parts to Learn

  • Pupil
  • Iris
  • Sclera
  • Optic Nerve

Anatomy of the Eye: Ingredients Needed

  • Cake balls
  • Icing, white
  • Jr. Mints
  • Blue Gel Icing
  • Fruit Roll Up

I had a group of kids assemble these while we reviewed the parts of the eye. I had already cooked the cake balls. Each student got one cake ball, one Jr. Mint, one fruit roll-up, and access to a bowl of white icing and tube of blue gel.

We started with a chocolate cake ball, I had the kids cover them with white icing while we discussed the sclera and tear ducts.

Then the Jr Mint was added, followed by the blue decorating gel. This led to discussions about the pupil, iris and cornea.

The Fruit Roll Up provided an extra delight while representing how muscle attaches to the eye to help it move and in the back to represent the optic nerve.

Anatomy of the Eye

After the eyes were assembled, they were chilled in the fridge for about 20 minutes while we worked on some other projects.

Before eating, I had each student recall the anatomy of the eye using their cake ball as a visual reminder.

Class ended with the announcement “You can now go eat your eyes!”

Easy Gluten Free and Dairy Free Muffins

Gluten Free Muffins

Here is the original post on these tasty muffins,

I have found that it is easier to tell people what I can eat, then go through the list of what I can’t.  This post is for all my dear friends who want to share a morning muffin and coffee with me!

Gluten Free Muffins:Two Ingredients

Open the cake mix and dump into a mixing bowl, then open the can of pumpkin and dump into the bowl. Now mix together. I use two spoons to drop the mix into a greased muffin pan. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. This will make 12 muffins.

Next week I am going to try adding a few extras like nuts or butterscotch chips to the mix. Gluten free cake mixes usually require a lot of butter, I love that I can skip the butter in this recipe. Since we don’t follow the directions on the cake mix these muffins are also dairy free. Which at my house means everyone can eat these!!!

Now grab that dusty can of pumpkin puree hiding in the back of your pantry and enjoy some yummy muffins. (P.S. If you only buy pumpkin on the end caps at Thanksgiving, look in the baking aisle near the canned pie filling)

Thanks so much Tricia for sharing!

Gluten Free

Update: I made a cake version with the same recipe.

Gluten Free Dairy Free Cake 

Review of Soldering Through History, Revolutionary War


I picked up a copy of Soldiering Through History, Revolutionary War last year at a homeschool convention. Just this week we finally arrived at that time period in history.

After watching the DVD it felt like we had just been on a field trip to a battlefield and spent the morning talking with a soldier.

Sgt. Sam and his brothers demonstrated different marching techniques and battle formations.  My boys loved watching all the different moves and the explanations of why the moves were needed.

I love that Sgt. Sam part way through the DVD talked about gun safety, and even through the guns were not shooting real bullets, it is still important to practice gun safety when reenacting with them.

The DVD ends with Sgt. Sam and his brothers reenacting the Battle of Trenton.  I have to say my boys “cheered” when the DVD announced the battle.

After the DVD my boys were highly motivated to reenact what they had just seen.  My daughter did like the information given in the DVD but has chosen not to reenact with her brothers.

The study guide that was included with the DVD gave a nice overview of the time period. My boys’ favorite was the uniform quiz; they enjoyed learning the names of the items carried by the soldiers.

This is a great supplement to any study on American History, the only down side is the price, $34.99. I generally like to spend $20 or less on a DVD. Here is there website if you would like a copy of your own,

Or other copies of the series,Soldering Through History: Lexington and Concord or Soldering Through History: WWII Marines