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I want to give my kids a classical education.  I know it consists of certain assignments and exercises.  But, if I don’t have actual knowledge about what I am doing or how it all fits together, how can I honesty persuade my child of an exercise’s importance?  “Do this it this way.”  “Why?”  “Cause the school says it’s important for your vis cogitativa.”  “What’s that?”  “I’m not really sure, but experienced moms tell me I’ll understand it all by the time you graduate.”

I have no idea what I’m doing. This whole experience feels like I’m trying to bake my Gran’s biscuits over the phone.  “How much shortening do I put in?”  “A good dollop or two.” “How much do I knead it, Gran?”  “Until it looks right.”  “What does that even mean?”  The results?  A lot of bad biscuits until I completely reinvent that wheel.  Even worse, since I’ve never experienced a Classical Education, it’s really like trying to bake Gran’s biscuits over the phone without ever having seen or eaten a biscuit before.

I tried to remedy my problem with a STACK of school resources and fancy old books.  Unfortunately, classical education (and it’s associated primary sources) uses a lot of Classical Verbage.  Knowledge, art, science, memory, imagination, intellect, ends, accidents, arguments, means, causes, passions — those words don’t mean what we think they mean and they’re used constantly.  We’re separated by a common language.  It’s as if my Alabama Gran was telling a British dude to how to make her “biscuits” over the phone.  He wouldn’t just have “no idea,” he’d have “the wrong idea.”

Getting the vocabulary straight has been a huge help. I haven’t completely remedied my situation, but I have come a long way and here’s what has worked for me.

1) Aristotle for Everybody, by Mortimer Adler.  This is the most effective way I know to acquire the vocabulary you need. He uses the words you KNOW to explain what is UNKNOWN. (Sound familiar?)  Read it cover to cover.  Even the introduction and back matter.  You’ll be all over the hierarchy of “goods” and get why the word “knowledge” is used so weirdly in classical ed.  “True, good, and beautiful” are actually categories of things, not just a catch phrase for “noble stuff.” Also it will give you a leg up on all that high school talk about the purpose of “the state” and government. In the back there’s a wonderful concordance for cherry-picking Aristotle or just getting a general idea on his works.

2) How to Read a Book  This is by the same author.  It’s a huge book, but it will catch you up fast on the whole “finding the argument” skills.  Part 2 and the first three chapters of Part 3 have proven to be the most helpful to me at this point. Maybe start there. Before this book, I had no idea how to find “the main points” of an argument.  If that’s you, definitely get going on this before your oldest hits 5th.  Also, in the back is a list of Classic books for you to read (if you like) and which sections of those books are the best.

3) The One Minute Aquinas, by Kevin Vost.  St. Thomas “baptized” and expanded on Aristotle’s work.  He comprehensively maps the human soul. It’s said that the Baltimore Catechism is distilled Aquinas.  They’re not wrong.  Understanding Thomas and his lingo will not only help in school, it will help in church.  This book is like De Anima for Dummies with a heaping helping of Summa for Simpletons

If you milk those three for all they’re worth and are still hungry for more, I just completed a self-study of Memoria Press’ Material Logic text. It’s also a very good “learn the vocabulary” text, but it takes some serious effort. It wasn’t fully understandable to me until these previous three books had yielded their fruits.

I hope these books help you as much as they’ve helped me. I am rocking out now on substances and accidents, actions and passions, sense/imagination/memory and agent intellect. What a RELIEF!



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BC timeline

Most ancient history timelines online are TOO complicated for me.  I just want to know what’s happening in Egypt while Greece is doing such-and-such. So I built one.    I put it below my beloved clothes pin timeline of centuries (empty and ready for a new year of clothes pins!) so you can see the size better. It’s two standard pages wide. There are SEVERAL versions in this post depending on what you want.  I have yet to decide what I want! Also, know that I ROUND.  This is not an exact timeline.  I constructed it mostly from watching the below awesome video. (and this one helped too.)

History overview excel

History overview blank pdf

History overview color pdf



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Free-Reading Resources

All Printables

Finding a list of books that fits your value system is difficult.  Then, you have to worry about reading level.  The following lists are compiled from lots of folks “good stuff” lists and organized by author and then by reading level.  Some lists are first organized by author, so scroll down and the list will […]

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4GRD Maps and Keys-ish

4GRD

A commenter asked me for USA map keys today.  I never realized that I didn’t post those.  I totally take requests, yo! All of the d-maps should be traceable on top of each other so you can get rivers in with the states, etc.  I couldn’t find a d-map with mountains, so I pulled it […]

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Memrise: Beginning Latin I, II and Fundamentals

3GRD

Have you heard of “spaced repetition”?  It’s practicing words you don’t know at intervals.  I made decks for Beginning Latin I, II, and Fundamentals I on memrise.com.  The advantage of that site is that the material is cumulative and you have control over adding new words.  The child can practice daily, only the words he […]

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Wordly Wise 5 Spalding Key

8GRD

If you used WRTR in the earlier grades, the Spalding markings can be used for the rest of the school career.  MoDG has you do it in 8GRD, if you know it.  Here’s our key for it, to the best of my ability.  A few words I couldn’t figure out. WW5a key WW5b key Also, you need […]

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8GRD Outline Maps

8GRD

Is it just me or are these maps a HASSLE?  I had no idea I knew so little about geography!  So, here’s the 8grd Europe map key and blank.  Also is a link to my google drive to get ALL of the outline maps for the Ultimate Guide mapping for the rest of the year. […]

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8GRD Timeline!

8GRD

In past years, we did our timeline work up front.  THAT WAS HARD!   Here’s the figures and timeline placement for 8GRD, but they’re BY WEEK this time.  Whew!  Each figure is scheduled on the first week you hear about them in either Story of the Church or Old World and America. 8grd timeline figures 8GRD timeline […]

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WRTR Mini-Lessons, Handwriting

3GRD

A while back I wrote “Teaching Cards” for WRTR.  I realized later that most people don’t live in their laminator like I do.  So here’s a pdf version that’s printable like a book.  The rules are in order.  Whenever you need to “teach rule ___”  just grab this doc and find your spot.  It’s also […]

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Will Work for Prayers!

All Printables

It doesn’t say “spiritual gift of spreadsheets” in the Bible, but maybe there is one? Can someone feel the love of Christ in a year-at-a-glance chart? I show love by writing and teaching and writing about teaching. I like to organize, write scripts for curriculum that doesn’t have any, and generally help orient “big picture” […]

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Get a Jump on Next Year–Supply Lists!

3GRD

Am I the only one that goes crazy every year making copies and hunting down books and keys and “back of the syllabus” resources scattered all over the house?  Unlikely.  So I made supply lists!  Not just the books, but every dang map, homemade key, printed religion question list, “History assignment overview” I forget to […]

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Free “Homemade” 5GRD Geography

5GRD

In MoDG, 5GRD is supposed to be a “homemade” geography course, ideally.  But most moms don’t do it.  I decided to try it out this year. But unlike the instructions say, I scanned, not photocopied and the images are square, not circles. However, I did a pretty good job getting them to match, right? I […]

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5GRD Outline Maps

5GRD

If you follow the MoDG syllabi, this is the HASSLE of 5GRD.  Each of these maps (not Australia or Antarctica) print out as a poster of four tiles. I like to have the country divisions and the rivers, but Europe and Australia didn’t have that option. So if we need rivers, we’ll print the matching […]

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WRTR FAQ

3GRD

I got some great questions emailed to me and asked if I could share it on the site. 1) Why is the a marked long in the suffix a-ble even if it’s not said that way? Because the suffix base on its own has a long a (able)? or for spelling purposes only or both? […]

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WRTR for Reading Instruction: Curious?

1GRD

I am!  A while back I got a 3GRD and 6GRD teacher’s manuals for a STEAL on Ebay. It was a revelation!  I totally understand what’s happening now.  But, I was really curious about how WRTR taught reading.  Aren’t you?  Just for heck? Well, I found a public school site that posts their lesson plans! […]

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AAS versus WRTR: For Spelling

3GRD

The hot topic seems to be All About Spelling(AAS) versus Writing Road to Reading (WRTR) these days.  I have a lot of detailed knowledge about spelling programs and actually write content for a dyslexia intervention program, so lemme share what I know. I am also open to private questions at ivorysoap76 at gmail dot com. […]

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Greece/Roman History Maps and Keys

7GRD

  Greece blank Greece key Mediterranean Area blank Mediterranean Area key  

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Wordly Wise 4 Spalding/Latin Keys

7GRD

More keys! How exciting, right? If you use Spalding and Worldy Wise and Latin, you will like this. Otherwise? Boring. Sorry. Lists 1-10 Lists 11-15 Lists 16-24   We find remembering the spelling easier for those words that come directly from Latin.  Here are the lists of words from each lesson that come directly from […]

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Voyages Diagramming Key 6GRD

6GRD

Voyages diagrams 1 Voyages diagrams 2 Sometimes people say, “Omigosh, why do you share all this?”  Sometimes I want to help others, and sometimes I know that if I don’t get this up in the cloud, I will lose it before the other three kids get to this grade.  HA!  That’s this post.  I can’t […]

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KGRD…again.

All Printables

I haven’t taught KGRD in five years!  I forgot how much juggling there was with the literature, liturgical year, and saints days.  Sometimes is REALLY wish our church calendar didn’t move around so much! Anyway, in case you are already weeded in next year’s shopping, here’s the thing you need for the “supplementary” books for […]

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