Author Archives: Mollie Player

Basic Chemistry (The ‘School in a Book’ Series)

“So that’s what stuff is.” That’s an important thought to have cross your mind at least a few times throughout your life. Don’t underestimate young children’s ability to grasp many basic chemistry concepts, either; the earlier you start, the less intimidated they’ll be by one of the most straightforward school subjects there is: science.

Basic Chemistry Knowledge Checklist

Chemistry: The science of what stuff is made of

Chemical: Any kind of matter with constant properties that can’t be broken into its component elements without breaking its chemical bonds

Atom: Tiny part of matter. It has a nucleus with protons and neutrons inside it and electrons moving around it. These parts are held together by electrical charges. Positive parts (protons) attract negative parts (electrons) and neutrons have no charge. Most of each atom, though, is empty space. Quarks are what make up protons and neutrons. A sheet of paper is probably one million atoms thick.

Matter: All stuff, visible and invisible

Parts of an atom (subatomic particles): Protons, neutrons and electrons

Three states of matter: Solid, liquid and gas. You can’t compress liquids or solids, but you can compress a gas. (You can flatten a solid, but the mass remains the same). This is because there is space between the particles in gas, and because there’s no bonding/attraction between the particles in gases. Note, though, that there are limits as to how much you can compress a gas. Do it enough and you turn it into a liquid (like liquid nitrogen).

Solid: State of matter with definite shape and volume

Liquid: State of matter with definite volume, varying shape

Gas: State of matter with no definite shape or volume

Molecule: Group of atoms that stick (bond) together and aren’t easily broken (until there is a chemical change). Fundamental particles. When molecules are messed with, the matter they make up might change state.

Element: A substance that contains only one kind of atom. (If the atoms are bonded in a different way, though, the element is an isotope.)

Particle: A bit of something that is still the original thing and not something else

Compound: A material that contains two or more elements that are chemically bonded together. The atoms of the elements can’t be separated by physical means and the end product has different properties from the original elements. Example: Cake.

Periodic Table of the Elements: A visual arrangement of the elements organized by their atomic number.

Atomic number: The number of protons (and also the number of electrons) in the atom, which indicates its substance

Mass number: The total number of protons and neutrons

Mixture: Ingredients mixed together but not chemically bonded. Can be separated again. Example: Air. Another example: The ingredients in a cake that are mixed together before being heated and formed into a cake.

Chemical bonding: The joining of atoms to create molecules. Atoms share electrons to form molecules. They do this to fill their outer shell and thus become more stable.

Chemical reaction: When the atoms in substance(s) rearrange to form new substances. Example: Baking a cake. Heat and electricity are often used to break the bonds.

Isotope: A different form of the same atom, with different number of neutrons. It has different physical properties but chemically it is the same.

Chemical symbol: The letters that represent the atoms of a particular element

Chemical formula: CO2, H2O, etc.

Ion: An unstable atom or molecule whose net charge is either less than or greater than zero

Enzymes: Catalysts that speed up chemical reactions in living things

Covalent bond: A chemical bond formed when atoms share electrons. Each atom still has its proper total number, but some of its electrons are attracted to the other atoms and stick there. Most non-metal elements are formed with covalent bonds.

Double bond: A chemical bond formed when atoms share two electrons each with each other

Ionic bond: A chemical bond formed when an atom gains or loses electrons

Metallic bond: A chemical bond between metals where free electrons travel between them

Electrolysis: Separating individual elements in a compound by passing an electric current through it when it is molten or in a solution

Salt: Any metal and non-metal bonded together. Salts have a crystal structure. There are many different kinds, not just table salt.

Organic compounds: Compounds that include carbon. All living things contain organic compounds, and many can be made artificially. They are used to create fabrics, medicines, plastics, paints, cosmetics and more.

Alcohol: Organic compounds that contain carbon, oxygen and hydrogen

Fermentation: A chemical reaction that produces alcoholic drinks. It is caused by fungi, which produce enzymes.

Semiconductor: A semi-metal element

Main metals (all those used in manufacturing): aluminum, brass, bronze, calcium, chromium, copper, cupronickel, gold, iron, lead, magnesium, mercury, platinum, plutonium, potassium, silver, sodium

Main alloys: Solder, steel, tin, titanium, tungsten, uranium, vanadium, zinc

Crude oil: The raw material from which fuels like oil, fuel, gas are obtained. It is a fossil fuel that is often found in rock reservoirs under the seabed.

Plastic: An easily-molded synthetic polymers made from the organic compounds found in crude oil.

Polymer: A substance made of many small molecules joined together to make long chains. Some are synthetic (nylon), while others are natural (hair, rubber, wool, silk, etc.).

Carbon monoxide: A poisonous gas formed when fuels burn in a place with limited air (oxygen), such as an engine.

Oxygen: The element that helps plants and animals release energy from food. In the human body it is one of the most important things the blood sends the cell. As blood flows over body cells, oxygen and other nutrients are “let in” and waste products are deposited into the blood. It is the third most abundant element in the universe.

Hydrogen: An element that can form compounds with most other elements. Water is formed when hydrogen is burned in air. It is the most abundant element in the universe. (Helium is the second.)

Carbon: The element that occurs in all known organic life. It is the fourth most abundant element in the universe and is found in more compounds than any other element.

Basic Computer Science (The “School in a Book” Series)

Computer science just isn’t a specialty anymore. Most companies create and/or manage several websites and computer programs, meaning that if you want to be successful in business, it’s helpful to understand these common terms.

Basic Computer Science

Parts of a computer: A computer is made up of memory, including applications, an operating system (OS) and a kernel stored on microchips and/or the hard drive; a CPU; and an imput/output (I/O) unit connected to a power source.

How a computer works: When the computer is turned on, some of the microchips immediately reads some of their memory, which then attempt to make connections with other chips. Together they run the EFI (extensible firmware interface) which starts the computer, then passes the control over to the boot loader. The boot loader is a program that initializes the hardware, loading the first sector of the hard drive to the memory. After this, it loads the operating system (OS), the kernel, the computer settings and the shell. The shell presents the login screen to the user. After the user logs in, the OS tells the driver to start talking to the hardware. After the user opens a program, the driver detects the clicks and talks to the kernel. The kernel then passes the information to the shell. The shell interprets it, then communicates it to the program. Finally, the program interprets it and the program is launched.

The program loads the needed threads and processes into the RAM. Threads are run and interrupted on a regular basis according to how many time slices they’re allotted. (One time slice = 1/30th of a second.) The system clock tells the OS when to stop each process, which is done after each time slice, no matter what. Each time this happens the OS checks to see if the program’s time is up or if it has more. It adjusts priorities and may switch to a different process. This activity is done in kernel mode, a mode in which the program isn’t allowed to control anything. After this, the OS switches back to user mode and gives control back to the program. Computers running with multiple CPUs must share the kernel between them. Mistakes in this management can lead to crashes.

Software and hardware: Hardware are the physical components of the machine. Software, also called applications or programs, are computer-readable instructions and data that live in the computer’s memory. The core part is the executable file (.exe), which talks to the OS using calls. The program also contains lists of needed DLLs and other code for use by the application.

Hard drive: The physical place in the computer in which memory is located

Central processing unit (CPU): The place in the computer that loads instructions from memory, parses (interprets) them, then executes them. It performs all of the logic of the computer and is compared to the brain of a human.

Operating system (OS): The software that runs all the basic operations of the computer so every program doesn’t have to recreate the wheel. It provides a secure, reliable environment and grants applications access to inputs, outputs, memory, system software like drivers, and networking features. Importantly, it also schedules processes (start, interrupt and stop commands when more than one application competes for time on the CPU). The most common OSs are Microsoft’s Windows, Apple’s OSX (and the more popular IOS, which is used for mobile devices), and various OSs by Linux (an open-source software creator group), including Android.

Parts of the OS: System clock; a file system; a user interfaced called the API that includes a set of calls or methods app programmers use to interact with the OS; algorithms, stored process for services.

The shell: The OS’s user interface (the part of the OS that the user sees and interacts with)

Memory: Applications, programs and other data and instructions located on the hard drive disc and/or microchips. There are three types of memory: internal, external and virtual. Internal memory is ROM (long-term stored read-only memory, usually unalterable, containing system-level instructions), RAM (fast copied temporary memory located on the hard drive disc or in microchips which is lost when the computer is shut down), and cached (super-fast copied temporary memory located on the CPU, also lost when the computer is shut down). Virtual memory is also located in the internal memory but is made up of addresses that point elsewhere in the memory for the purposes of convenience and security. External memory is located on external hard drives, USB keys, etc. Memory is stored in strings. It can be written to (changed), or read (retrieved, fetched, loaded).

Pointer: An object that contains the address of each piece of memory

The leap section: The place in memory that stores dynamically allocated variables needed by a program

The stack section: The place in memory that store info in stacks, with the lowest addresses (oldest) on bottom, like cafeteria trays

Buffer: A place in memory that receives and holds data until it can be handled by requested processes. Each process can have its own set of buffers. Each buffer has a predetermined length and data type

The kernel: The part of a Windows computer that loads drivers, handles hardware, enforces security, enables network communication–anything the application needs permission to do, even just opening MS Office. (Accessing memory is not included in this.)

Service: A background process run by the OS. (Example: system clock, firewall, window update checks.)

Kernel mode: The mode an application goes into when it is accessing the computer’s kernel. A program can only go into kernel mode when allowed and only run the kernel code, not its own code at all.

User mode: App mode in which the OS can be accessed through an app can switch back and forth from kernel to user frequently.

Native system services/executive system services: OS services that are callable from user mode.

Kernel support functional routines: Subroutines inside the OS that are callable only from kernel mode.

Four events that transfer control from an application back to the OS: I/O interrupt, system clock interrupt, system call, process page faults, a deadlock

Computer architecture: The way the parts of a computer interact with each other, including which parts of the memory are able to communicate with which other parts and in which order. There are many different working computer architectures.

Virtualization: Hosting one or more remote OSs

Virtual machine: A remotely located package of software that presents itself to the local machine as a complete separate machine. Virtual machines are highly convenient for purposes of testing code, working on a networked machine with network privileges, and on other occasions when a second or different computer/operating system package is needed.

Database: An organized collection of data, usually stored electronically. If available on the Internet, it can be accessed through servers.

Windows API: Application Programming Interface. The set of functions (almost like a language) programmers use to talk to the OS. Thousands of callable functions exist relating to everything the OS is responsible for. (Examples: Create message, get message.)

DLL: Dynamic Link Library. A program’s library of functions that are callable by programs.

Programming:

Program/application: A set of instructions to be executed on a computer, usually with a particular use. To program software is to create the program’s source code using a programming language of choice.

Programming language: A set of standardized rules for coding that results in functional source code. There are many programming languages, including C# and C++. A script is a language that is Internet-appropriate, like JavaScript.

Binary code/machine language/machine code: A language made up entirely of 0s and 1s, which are the only units a computer can directly work with (execute on its CPU). These true/false or 1/0 binary choices are also called boolean expressions. All other programming languages are made into source code, then finally parsed (interpreted by the computer) as binary code by a compiler. (A decompiler turns machine readable code/binary back into source code.)

Data: Information, often represented by symbols and measured in bits (binary digits–0s and 1s) and bytes (units of bits–historically eight bits). A kilobyte (KB) is 1,024 bytes. A megabyte (MB) is 1,024 kilobytes. A gigabyte (GB) is 1,024 megabytes. A terabyte (TB) is 1,024 gigabytes. A kilobit (kb) is 1,024 bits. A megabit (Mb) is 1,024 kilobits. A gigabit (Gb) is 1,024 megabits. A terabit (Tb) is 1,024 gigabits.

Command: A computer instruction. Many commands put together make up an algorithm, a complex logic-based instruction set that play a specific role in the application. Commands and data together make up computer code, the set of instructions forming a computer program that is read and carried out by a computer, which is used in turn to make up computer programs.

Procedure/function/subroutine: An independent code module that fulfills some concrete task and can be reused by the program. Procedures perform operations without returning data and functions do return data. A procedure might be part of an object in object-oriented programming.

Process, thread, job and multi-processing/multi-threading: A single iteration of a procedure is a process. It contains everything needed for that instance. In turn, processes are made up of threads. A group of processes that are performed as a unit for a single goal is a job. Multi-processing/multi-threading is running more than one process simultaneously in the same program using a single CPU, which schedules these processes to occur successively but seamlessly.

Objects and object-oriented programming: Object-oriented programming is a popular way of designing software by making them out of objects (files, data units, independent procedures or a procedure/data object that perform a particular function) that interact with one another

Hacking: Sometimes, cleverly solving a programming problem and sometimes, using a computer to gain unauthorized access to data

Bug: Any kind of error in a software program. It may cause a program to unexpectedly quit, to be vulnerable to attack, or to work improperly. The process of removing bugs is called debugging. Reviewing programs to find bugs and other problems is called testing.

Crash dump: A record of a program’s slate system memory at the time of a crash. A crash dump can be analyzed to figure out why it occurred.

Deadlock: A conflict of needs and allocations that stops all computing

Networks and Networking:

Network: A group of computers that talk to each other and share resources through one or more shared computers called servers. A virtual private network (VPN) is network that allows users to connect to remotely.

Local area network (LAN) and wide area network (WAN): The two types of computer networks. LANs are smaller than WANs and include WiFi and ethernet. WANs are larger and include the Internet.

Server: A computer that provides information to other computers or allows other computers to connect to each other, usually remotely over the Internet or in a smaller computer network. The main server in a group is called the domain controller. The manager of a domain (or any group of users) is called an administrator. Servers talk to individual computers called clients. Some computers have both a server side and a client side. A network that is managed with administrators, passwords and the like is called a domain. A proxy server is a backup server used on corporate networks to protect against web attacks.

Internet: The global collection of computer networks and their connections, all using shared protocols to communicate

Internet 2: A second, higher-speed Internet that is used to send very large files, such as research data between universities

Protocol: Rules to standardize processes in networks. They are used on both the sending and the receiving ends of the communication.

HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol): The set of rules for transferring files (text, graphic images, sound, video, and other multimedia files) on the Internet. HTTPS is HTTP, but with encryption.

Uniform Resource Locator (URL): An Internet address that is used by the browser to look up the IP address of the server and the server’s name so that it can talk to that server and retrieve the page’s HTML

Packet: Small chunk of information that has been carefully formed from larger chunks of information in order to more efficiently communicate over a network. If not encrypted, packets are vulnerable to capture. Packets might be distributed over multiple routers according to which is currently available.

Router: A machine that captures and sends on data packets. Many routers are involved in most Internet communications.

Switch: A smart hub/router that connects network segments, thereby routing packets more efficiently

Modem: A router used on a small scale, as between private homes or small networks

Session: All of the applications running on a single user ID between login and logout

Bandwidth: The maximum rate of data transfer across a given path

Cookie: A small text file with various fields that is stored in the web browser and/or on the client’s computers. Normally, it is used to manage a session (keeping a user logged in across multiple pages, etc.).

Cyber security: Practices, including web development and application development practices, that mitigate Internet exploits

Computer vulnerability: A mistake or oversight in computer code that exposes the program to attack. A client-side vulnerability exists in the client (end user) computer and a server-side vulnerability exists on the server.

Computer exploit: An attack on a local computer or many local computers that either damages it or allows the attacker to make use of it in any way without permission

Firewall: A network device used to filter traffic. Usually between a private network and a link to the internet. Prevents unauthorized incoming traffic, but ineffective when user initiates communication.

Three most common types of computer exploits: Exploitation of browser vulnerabilities, exploitation of email application vulnerabilities, and social engineering (gaining compromising information by exploiting human vulnerabilities)

Cryptography: The process of encrypting (scrambling) plain text messages, that are then sent and unencrypted/decrypted on the receiving end with the use of a text key.

Piracy: The illegal copying, distribution, or use of software

Direct memory access: Writing directly to RAM without going through the hard drive, as when a network file system is doing a transfer, over the internet.

Active directory: A directory service that contains a database that stores security info about objects in a domain, inc users, computers, security IDs, etc.

Basic Life Management Skills (The ‘School in a Book’ Series)

Your high school student probably already has most of the skills on this list, at least to some degree. Treat this checklist, then, as a gentle reminder not to pass by the couple of things he hasn’t nailed yet.

Note that this list does not include skills mentioned in other sections of the School in a Book series, including sports skills, art skills, logic and much more, nor does it include skills generally possessed by people under the age of six, such as memorizing one’s phone number.

General Life Management Skills

Cooking (baking, stovetop cooking)
Household cleaning (laundry, dishes, bathroom cleaning, etc.)
Time management
Money management, including budgeting, calculating interest, avoidance of debt, calculating highest affordable mortgage payment, saving for retirement, investing in the stock market, risk management, filing taxes, organizing financial records and more
Simple household maintenance, including testing and changing smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, using a fire extinguisher, cleaning the roof and gutters, fixing leaky faucets, unclogging the toilet and more
Home organization
Basic self-defense
Basic car maintenance, including changing the oil, checking tire pressure, checking fluid levels and more
Basic first aid
Child care
Public transportation use
Sewing
Writing formal letters and emails
Typing
Emergency procedure memorization
Good hygiene
Nutrition and exercise
Disease prevention, including STDs
Reproductive responsibility and health
Owning and operating a business, including basic accounting, creating a business plan, legal compliance, insurance and liability, marketing, project management and more
How to purchase a house
Online safety and security
How to choose and purchase home, health and car insurance
Basic wilderness survival
Map and compass use
Online source verification and vetting
Making change
Gardening
Recycling, reusing and environmental care
Creating a website
Designing flyers, brochures and more
Using the Microsoft Office suite and other important computer programs
Interviewing for jobs
Familiarity with important federal and local laws
Driving a car
Stress management
Addiction avoidance and effects of drugs
Keeping to-do lists and goal-setting lists, with steps to achieve those goals

Interpersonal Skills

Conflict resolution
Self-calming
Clear communication
Active listening without interrupting
Good eye contact
Good manners
Solid handshake
Voice projection
Saying “no”, “no, thanks,” and “really, no”
Asking questions
Talking to strangers
Relaxing without screens
Casual conversation/small talk
Crafting a convincing argument
Arguing interpersonally
Labeling and discussing emotions
Separating fact from emotion
Public speaking
Moral understanding
Shaking hands firmly
Good eye contact
Telling a joke (at least one good one)
Understanding other cultures, family types and gender identities
Understand the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships
Responding to anger or unkindness without anger or defensiveness, but instead with simple statements of fact (such as “I don’t agree” or “That’s interesting,) questions (such as “Why did you do that?”) or kindnesses (such as, “Are you okay?”)
Using simple consequences instead of physical force or emotional abuse to get what you want. (For example, “If you do that, I am not going to play with you,” or, “If you are rough with my toys, I will take them away.”)

Self-Care Skills

Spending time alone
Engaging in hobbies
Deep breathing
Cognitive therapy (noticing one’s automatic thoughts and beliefs and, if negative, intentionally disputing them)
Healthy exercise habits
Healthy eating habits
Friendship maintenance
Spiritual practice
Meditation
Observing the mind

Personal Qualities To Develop

Love
Generosity
Humility
Faith
Hope, optimism and positivity
Purposeful cultivation of joy
Personal responsibility
Confidence
Non-attachment to the opinions of others
Purposeful cultivation of one’s highest self
Dignity
Respect for differences

Learning Games and Other Essential Educational Activities (The ‘School in a Book’ Series)

Ideas for enjoyable, educational activities for kids aren’t hard to find. The trick is to remember them when the time comes. Here, I share a checklist of activities I plan to encourage each of my children to try at least once during their elementary school years. (I’ve hung it on our wall for easy access.) My goal is to expose our kids to a wide variety of games and activities in the hopes that several will become lifelong hobbies.

Essential Board Games and Puzzles

Scrabble
Chess
Checkers
Maj jong
Monopoly
Trivial Pursuit
Complex strategy board games like Dungeons and Dragons, Magic or Settlers of Cattan
Other educational board games
Card games
Crosswords
Sudoku
Logic grid puzzles
Mazes
Map/geography puzzles

Essential Quiet Indoor Activities

Listening to educational podcasts
Listening to audiobooks of classic literature and interesting nonfiction
Setting reading goals with associated rewards
Writing stories and poems
Journaling
Writing and self-publishing a book
Writing a blog
Creating a website
Learning computer programming
Creating a newsletter, newspaper or magazine
Doing educational coloring sheets (such as diagrams of body organs and systems, parts of the cell, maps and much more)
Memorizing important poems and passages
Scrapbooking
Listing life goals, dreams, and future plans/activities
Learning educational songs (especially with fact lists like the presidents, the major elements, etc.)
Writing longhand letters to friends

Optional Whole-Family Activities

Holding a family book club
Reading aloud together
Doing home improvement projects
Holding family presentation nights during which siblings do show-and-tell, hold demonstrations and teach mini classes to the rest of the family
Gardening and landscaping
Doing service work in the community
Job shadowing (visiting workplaces of people we know and learning about their jobs)
Wood working
Planning and throwing parties
Planning a family trip on a budget
Starting a small business
Holding a garage sale
Putting on a talent show
Making a bat house
Making a birdhouse
Making a bee home for honeybees
Creating a store for selling candy and other small items to family members
Planning and leading scavenger hunts
Building a town or dirt racetracks in the backyard
Build a go-kart
Building playground structures like teepees, volleyball poles and more in the backyard
Learning how to shoot a gun

Optional Classes and Clubs

Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts or Eagle Scouts
Instrument lessons
Singing lessons with performance
Art lessons
Drama lessons with performance
Sports lessons

Optional Trips and Special Local Outings

Here, you can list the local attractions you’d like to visit and the longer trips you’d like to take.

Camping
Hikes
The aquarium
The zoo
The children’s science museum
Tide pool nature collecting
(More)

Simple Homemade Learning Games

The List Game

How to Play: Players choose a fact list and print out one copy per player. Players read over their fact lists. Then they compete to see who can list the most items on the list in an allotted time period. (Inspiration: Scattegories.)

Twenty Questions/Who Am I?

How to Play: Players choose a fact list and print out one copy per player. Players silently select a person, place or term from their fact list of choice. Then they take turns trying to guess the other person’s selection by asking simple yes or no questions. The winner guesses the term in the fewest questions, or guesses the most terms correctly in an allotted time period. This game works well with any checklist except foreign-language vocabulary lists, and is especially interesting with history timelines if you play the role of an event or person. (Inspiration: Twenty Questions.)

Do-It-Yourself Crossword Puzzles

Instructions: Print out grid paper with large boxes and create crossword puzzles using the terms you want to remember. The clues can be written on a separate sheet of paper. Crosswords using foreign-language vocabulary words can be easiest to create, since the native-language word can be used as the clue.

Do-It-Yourself Historical Timeline

Instructions: Using a simple template, create your own historical timeline with the key dates you want to remember. Hang it on a wall for easy reference.

The Math Puzzle

Instructions: Create a simple 13×13 grid. Number the vertical and horizontal rows from 1 to 12. Choose whether to multiply, divide, add or subtract the numbers, then in each box, write the value of the two numbers whose lines intersect at that point. Notice the number patterns that form. This game is especially useful for memorizing multiplication tables.

The Money Game

Practice addition and subtraction by creating your own fake money and playing “store” with a friend.

Do-It-Yourself Map Puzzles

Color a map of the world (or of a country or a continent). Cut it into puzzle-like pieces, then reinforce the back of each piece with cardboard.

Do-It-Yourself Dot-to-Dot Drawings

Print out simple photos of important world landmarks or works of art. Place a piece of paper over each, and trace them with dots. Number the dots as you go. Then try to redraw the picture by connecting them.

Educational Coloring Sheets

Challenge yourself to color and label the parts of a plant, the human body and much more. The possibilities are nearly endless for people who like to color.

Optional Pretend Play Scenarios

Camping; Store; Restaurant; Post Office; Theater/Play/Music Play; Art Gallery; Grocery Store; Zoo; Toy Store; Gardening; Making Pizza or Muffins; Teddy bear/animal hunt; Car wash; Forts; Pet Hotel; Tea Party; Hospital; Cops and robbers; Superheroes; Star Wars; Vet Clinic; Lions and deer; Monster and townspeople; Alligators and swimmers; Fireman; Motorcycle, race car, truck drivers; Airplane Voyage; Submarine; Astronauts; Queen, king, servants, hosts and guests; Tea party host and guests; Library; Aliens; movie and TV show scenarios (like Star Wars), and much more.

Basic Geography (The ‘School in a Book’ Series)

Basic Geography

The seven continents (in order of size): Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, and Australasia/Oceania. 

The seven oceans: North Pacific, South Pacific, North Atlantic, South Atlantic, Indian Ocean, Southern Sea, Arctic Ocean

The four U.S. time zones: PST (Pacific Standard Time); MT (Mountain Time: PST plus one hour); CST (Central Standard Time: PST plus two hours); EST (Eastern Standard Time: PST plus three hours)

The five geographical zones of Earth: Arctic and antarctic (in the far north and south); north temperate and south temperate; and tropical (the middle of Earth on both sides of the equator)

Latitude lines/parallels: Imaginary lines running horizontally around the globe. They are measured in degrees, with the equator at 0° latitude, the north pole at 90° north and the south pole at 90° south.

Longitude lines/meridians: Imaginary lines running vertically around the globe. These meet at both poles. They are measured in degrees, with the prime meridian at 0° longitude (at Earth’s axis), and the farthest extensions at 180° east and 180° west.

Geographic coordinates: The two-number combination that gives a location’s latitude and longitude

Hemisphere: A hemisphere is half the Earth’s surface. The four hemispheres are the Northern and Southern hemispheres, divided by the equator (0° latitude), and the Eastern and Western hemispheres, divided by the prime meridian (0° longitude) and the International Date Line (180°).

Equator: The imaginary line around the center of the earth that we measure as zero degrees latitude. The Sun is directly overhead the equator at noon on the two equinoxes (March and Sept. 20 or 21). The equator divides the globe into the Northern and Southern hemispheres. The equator appears halfway between the North and South poles, at the widest circumference of the globe. It is 24,901.55 miles (40,075.16 km) long.

Prime Meridian: The imaginary line down the center of the earth that we measure as zero degrees longitude (0°). It runs through the Royal Greenwich Observatory in Greenwich, England and divides the globe into the Western and Eastern hemispheres. The Earth’s time zones are measured from it.

International Date Line: The imaginary line located at approximately 180° longitude that, by convention, marks the end of one calendar day and the beginning of the next. It bends around countries to avoid date- and time-related confusion.

Tropic of Cancer: The imaginary line located at 23°30′ north of the equator. The Sun is directly overhead the Tropic of Cancer on the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere (June 20 or 21). It marks the northernmost point of the tropics, which falls between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.

Tropic of Capricorn: The imaginary line located at 23°30′ south. The Sun is directly overhead the Tropic of Capricorn on the summer solstice in the Southern Hemisphere (Dec. 20 or 21). It marks the southernmost point of the tropics.

Arctic Circle: A line of latitude located at 66°30′ north, delineating the Northern Frigid Zone of the Earth.

Antarctic Circle: A line of latitude located at 66°30′ south, delineating the Southern Frigid Zone of the Earth.

Longest river on Earth: Nile 4,160 miles (6,695 km)

Largest lake on Earth: Caspian Sea 143,243 sq miles (371,000 sq km)

Highest point on Earth: Mt. Everest 29,035 ft (8,850 m)

Lowest point on Earth: Dead Sea –1,312 ft (–400 m)

Largest ocean on Earth: Pacific Ocean

Largest desert on Earth: Sahara 3,263,400 sq miles (9,065,000 sq km)

Largest island on Earth: Greenland 836,327 sq miles (2,166,086 sq km)

Coldest place on Earth: Ulan Bator, Mongolia –26°F (–32°C)

Hottest place on Earth: Baghdad, Iraq 110°F (43°C), July/August

Wettest place on Earth (by annual rainfall): Liberia, 202 in (514 cm) of rain per year

Driest place on Earth (by annual rainfall): Egypt, 11°8 in (2.9 cm) of rain per year

Number of nations on Earth: 193

Largest country on Earth: Russian Federation 6,592,800 sq miles (17,075,400 sq km)

Smallest country on Earth: Vatican City 0.17 sq miles (0.44 sq km)

Longest border on Earth: US–Canada 5,526 miles (8,893 km)

Country with most neighbors on Earth: China (14), Russia (14)

Oldest country on Earth: Denmark, AD 950

Youngest country on Earth: East Timor, 2002

Number of people on Earth: Six billion

Top five biggest cities and populations: Tokyo, Japan; New York, NY; Seoul, South Korea; Mexico City, Mexico; and São Paulo, Brazil. (All have over 20 million people.)

Country with smallest population: Vatican City, 900

Most densely populated country: Monaco 42,649 people per sq mile (16,404 people per sq km)

Least densely populated country: Mongolia 4 people per sq mile (2 people per sq km)

Country with highest birth rate: Niger 55 per 1,000 population

Country with lowest birth rate: Hong Kong/Macao (China) 7 per 1,000 population

Country with highest death rate: Sierra Leone 25 per 1,000 population

Country with lowest death rate: United Arab Emirates 2 per 1,000 population

Country with the highest life expectancy: Japan (81)

Country with the lowest life expectancy: Sierra Leone (39)

Richest country (highest GNP*): United States $9,602 billion

Poorest country (lowest GNP*): Tuvalu US$3 million

Map projections: Distorted representations of the relative locations on Earth that allow for two-dimensional map making. There are many types of projections, the most famous being the Mercator projection, which shows the far northern and southern areas as much larger than they are.

Pangea: The most recent single, unified “supercontinent” to have preceded the current continental forms on Earth

Basic Arts and Crafts (The ‘School in a Book’ Series)

Like freedom and fun, creativity is an inborn need. I mean, lots of people think they don’t need it. But maybe they just haven’t yet found their medium. Here, a checklist to pique their interest. As a homeschooling mom I hope to expose my kids to most of these at some point during their childhood.

Fine Art Skills Checklist

Drawing (with chalk, charcoal, crayon, marker, oil pastels, pen, pencil)
Painting (with acrylic paint, oil paint, watercolor on canvas, glass, fabric, human body, plaster, wood, walls with brushes, sponges, hands, stencils and more; this includes murals)
Sculpture (with wood, wax, stone, metal, clay and mixed media)
Performance Art: Dance, Theater, Music
Conceptual Art/ Installation Art
Collage
Fresco
Mosaic
Recycled Material Art

Applied Art Skills Checklist

Architecture
Carpentry
Ceramics/ Pottery
Film Making
Culinary Art
Glass Blowing
Light Art/ Lighting Design
Gardening/ Landscape Architecture
Graphic Narratives/ Comics
Photography
Printmaking
Fashion Design
Textile Arts: Crocheting, Knitting, Macrame, Weaving and More
Graphic Design/ Electronic Art (video games, digital printing, etc.)

Crafts Checklist

Clay models
Model sets
Jewelry (with beads, other materials)
Bean-filled heat packs (heat in microwave)
Clothes
Dolls (sewn)
Miniature dolls and animals
Doll house with furniture
Stuffed animals (sewn, with button eyes)
Greeting cards
Bound books
Christmas decorations (ornaments, bead chains, other chains)
Birdbaths
Masks using paper plates and popsicle sticks
Foam-and-cardboard planetarium
Baskets (woven)
Nature-inspired art (including nature collecting)
Beard and glasses (wearable)
Edible necklaces with apples or other food
Word collages concerning that day’s lesson
Collages using drawings, paintings, other art we’ve done in the past
Mobiles
Hand puppets
Finger puppets
Mixed media/recycled materials collages on cardboard
Mixed media/recycled materials play city
Reduced-mess painting: put paint and small objects in a plastic baggie and mix
Coloring
Stamping
Makng leaf and hand prints or rubbings
Playing with playdough
Gluing and taping with recycled materials
Hole punch and tie string
Egg carton treasure box
Flower pots made from sticks

Important Musical Artists and Songs (The ‘School in a Book’ Series)

You know how out of the blue one day you hear a song you used to love and you think, I can’t forget this again. I have to write it down. You start to wonder how many other great songs you’ve let slip from memory. Then you have kids, and you start actively seeking them out so you can pass them on. This list is a good jumping-off point for that process.

It’s highly unlikely that all your favorite songs are listed here. But there are a lot of great ones, and many that you’ll hear here and there throughout your life. Listen to them at the YouTube links provided, absorbing the style of each artist and thinking critically about what you like, what you don’t like, and why. No need to memorize song titles, but a working recall of most of these artists will help you immensely in your many enjoyable music-related conversations to come.

This list is a work in progress; check back for updates.

Important Classical Composers

Johann Sebastian Bach (Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D major, BWV 1068: Air; Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G major, BWV 1048: Allegro; Double Concerto In D Minor for Two Violins, BWV 1043: Vivace)
Ludwig van Beethoven (Symphony No. 5 In C Minor, Op. 67, “Fate”: I.; Symphony No. 9 In D Minor, Op. 125, “Choral”: Ode an Die Freude; Bagatelle In A Minor, Wo Op. 59, “Für Elise”Allegro Con Briol; Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 27:2, “Moonlight Sonata”: Adagio Sostenuto; Egmont, Op. 84: Overture)
Johannes Brahms (Hungarian Dance No. 5 In G Minor)
Frederic Chopin (Nocturne No. 2)
Antonin Dvorak (Symphony No. 9 In E Minor, Op. 95, “From the New World”: II. Largo; Slavonic Dance No. 2, Op. 72)
Edvard Grieg (Peer Gynt Suite No. 1 Op. 46: Morning Mood; Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, Op. 46: In the Hall of the Mountain King)
George Frideric Handel (The Messiah, HWV 56: Hallelujah Chorus)
Mendelssohn
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major, K. 467: II. Andante; Requiem, K. 626: Lacrimosa Dies Illa; Serenade No. 13 In G Major, K. 525, “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik”: I. Allegro; Symphony No. 40 In G Minor, K. 550: I. Allegro Molto; Piano Sonata No. 11 In A Major, K. 331: Rondo: Alla Turca; The Magic Flute, K. 620: Overture)
Schumann
Shubert
Johann Strauss (On the Beautiful Blue Danube, Op. 314; Radetzky March, Op. 228)
Stravinsky
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Swan Lake Suite, Op. 20: Scene)
Giuseppe Verdi (Nabucco: Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves (Va’, Pensiero, Sull’ali Dorate); Messa Da Requiem: Dies Irae – Tuba Mirum)
Vivaldi
Richard Wagner (The Valkyrie: Ride of the Valkyries)
50 Most Famous Pieces of Classical Music

Important Modern Composers

Philip Glass (Glassworks, more)
Hans Zimmer (Interstellar, Time, more)
John Williams (Star Wars main theme, more)
Thomas Newman (American Beauty soundtrack, Scent of a Woman main theme, more)
Sergei Prokofiev (Peter and the Wolf)

Important Musicals

Annie (Tomorrow, Maybe)
The Wizard of Oz (Somewhere Over the Rainbow)
Pinocchio (When You Wish Upon a Star)
Footloose (Footloose)
Grease (You’re the One That I Want, Summer Days)
My Fair Lady
(I Could Have Danced All Night)
Fiddler on the Roof (Sunrise, Sunset; Tradition)
Singin’ in the Rain (Singin’ in the Rain, Make ‘Em Laugh)
Oklahoma! (Oklahoma!, Oh What a Beautiful Morning)
West Side Story (I Feel Pretty)
Little Shop of Horrors (Da-Doo, Skid Row)
Beauty and the Beast (Beauty and the Beast, This Provincial Life, Be My Guest)
The Sound of Music (Spoonful of Sugar, Edelweiss, Sixteen Going on Seventeen, My Favorite Things, Do-Re-Mi, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious)
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Moon River)
The Little Mermaid (Kiss the Girl)
South Pacific (I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair, Bali Ha’i)
White Christmas (White Christmas, Sisters)
Annie Get Your Gun (Anything You Can Do)
Guys and Dolls (Sit Down, You’re Rocking’ the Boat)

Important Folk Songs, Spirituals and Singalong Songs

The Star-Spangled Banner
America, the Beautiful
God Bless America
When the Saints Go Marching In
Amazing Grace
How Great Thou Art
I’ll Fly Away
Kumbaya
He’s Got the Whole World
Swing Low Sweet Chariot
What a Friend We Have in Jesus
This Little Light of Mine
Oh, Susanna
Coconut
Banana Boat Song (Day-O)
Home on the Range
You Are My Sunshine
My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean
Ain’t We Got Fun?
Down By the Old Mill Stream
Someone’s In the Kitchen With Dinah
Take Me Out to the Ballgame
I’ve Been Workin’ on the Railroad
You’ll Sing a Song
Down By the Riverside
Lavender’s Blue
Where, Oh, Where Has My Little Dog Gone?
How Much Is That Doggy In the Window
Alouette
There’s a Hole in the Bucket
O Holy Night
Jingle Bells
Santa Claus Is Coming to Town
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
The First Noel
We Wish You a Merry Christmas
The Twelve Days of Christmas
Oh Come All Ye Faithful
Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
We Three Kings
Away in a Manger
Silent Night
What Child Is This?
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
Joy to the World
Angels We Have Heard on High
I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
Jingle Bells
Frosty, the Snowman
Let It Snow
Holly, Jolly Christmas
The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting)
I’ll Be Home for Christmas
I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas
Deck the Halls
We Wish You a Merry Christmas

Important Children’s Songs and Artists

Raffi
Mr. Rogers

The Alphabet Song
Rock-a-Bye Baby
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Ba Ba Black Sheep
Mary Had a Little Lamb
Star Light, Star Bright
Hush, Little Baby (Don’t Say a Word)
Skidamarink
Knees Up Mother Brown
Down By the Bay
Itsy Bitsy Spider
Frere Jacques
Lollipop, Lollipop
If You’re Happy and You Know It
Skip to My Lou
The More We Get Together
This Old Man
Wheels on the Bus
Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
The Ants Go Marching One By One
Are You Sleeping, Brother John?
Row, Row, Row Your Boat
Humpty Dumpty
Five Little Monkeys
Ring Around the Roses
Old McDonald
Three Blind Mice
Nick Nack Paddywack
Pop Goes the Weasel
Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush
Hey Diddle Diddle
Jack and Jill
London Bridge Is Falling Down
She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain
This Little Piggy
Little Bo Peep
Sing a Song of Sixpence
A Tisket a Tasket
Little Boy Blue
Old King Cole
Little Miss Muffet
The Muffin Man
Over the River and Through the Woods
The Farmer In the Dell
Baby Bumble Bee
BINGO
Do Your Ears Hang Low?
John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt

Important Rock/General Artists

AC/DC (Thunderstruck, Back in Black, Highway to Hell)
Aerosmith (Dream On, Sweet Emotion, Walk This Way)
Al Green (Let’s Stay Together, Love and Happiness, Take Me to the River, Tired of Being Alone)
Alice Cooper (I’m Eighteen, School’s Out)
Amy Winehouse (Rehab, Back to Black)
Annie Lennox/ Eurythmics (Sweet Dreams [Are Made of This], Here Comes the Rain Again, Why)
Aretha Franklin (Respect, [You Make Me Feel Like a] Natural Woman, Chain of Fools, I Say a Little Prayer)
Axl Rose (Sweet Child o’ Mine, Paradise City, November Rain)
Barbra Streisand (The Way We Were, You Don’t Bring Me Flowers, Don’t Lie to Me)
B.B. King (The Thrill Is Gone, Every Day I Have the Blues, Early in the Morning, Ain’t Nobody Home)
Bee Gees (How Deep Is Your Love, Stayin’ Alive)
Bette Midler (From a Distance, I Think It’s Gonna Rain Today, The Rose, Wind Beneath My Wings)
Beyonce (If I Were a Boy, Crazy in Love)
Billie Holiday (Blue Moon, God Bless the Child)
Bill Withers (Just the Two of Us, Lean on Me, Ain’t No Sunshine)
Billy Joel (Piano Man, New York State of Mind, We Didn’t Start the Fire)
Bing Crosby (Christmas album, Swingin’ on a Star, Let Me Call You Sweetheart)
Björk (Army of Me, It’s Oh So Quiet, Human Behavior)
Black Sabbath (Iron Man, Paranoid)
Blondie (Call Me, Heart of Glass, One Way or Another)
Bobby “Blue” Bland (I Pity the Fool; Farther Up the Road; Cry, Cry, Cry; Turn On Your Love Light)
Bob Dylan (Desolation Row, Like a Rolling Stone, Blowing in the Wind, Knockin on Heaven’s Door, Lay Lady Lay, Visions of Johanna, Highway 61 Revisited, Just Like a Woman, Mississippi, Mr. Tambourine Man, Positively 4th Street, Subterranean Homesick Blues, Tangled Up in Blue, The Times They Are A-Changin)
Bob Marley (Three Little Birds; Redemption Song; Could You Be Loved; I Shot the Sheriff; One Love)
Bonnie Raitt (Nick of Time, I Can’t Make You Love Me, Angel from Montgomery, Love Me Like a Man)
Brian Wilson (In My Room, Don’t Worry Baby, Carline, No)
Bruce Springstee, (Born in the U.S.A., Born to Run, The Rising, Thunder Road)
Buddy Holly (Everyday, Not Fade Away, Rave On, That’ll Be the Day, Peggy Sue)
Carpenters (We’ve Only Just Begun, Close to You, Yesterday Once More, Rainy Days and Mondays, Ticket to Ride)
Cat Stevens (Wild World, Morning Has Broken, Where Do the Children Play)
Celine Dion (The Power of Love, My Heart Will Go On, It’s All Coming Back to Me Now, Where Does My Heart Beat Now, Beauty and the Beast)
Cher (Bang Bang, )
Christina Aguilera (Genie in a Bottle, Beautiful, Ain’t No Other Man)
Chuck Berry (Brown Eyed Handsome Man, Johnny B. Goode, Promised Land, No Particular Place to Go, Maybellene, Roll Over Beethoven, Sweet Little Sixteen)
Creedence Clearwater Revival (Bad Moon Rising, Fortunate Son, Proud Mary, Who’ll Stop the Rain)
Crosby, Stills and Nash (Suite: Judy Blue Eyes, Ohio)
Curtis Mayfield (People Get Ready, Superfly, I’m So Proud)
Cyndi Lauper (Girls Just Want to Have Fun, True Colors, Time after Time)
Darlene Love (He’s a Rebel, Christmas (Baby Please Come Home), He’s Sure the Boy I Love)
David Bowie (Changes, Heroes, Young Americans, Ziggy Stardust, Let’s Dance, Modern Love)
David Ruffin (Ain’t Too Proud to Beg, My Girl, Walk Away From Love)
Diana Ross
Dido (Thank You, White Flag, Here with Me)
Dion (Teenager in Love, The Wanderer, Runaround Sue, Abraham, Martin and John)
Dolly Parton (Jolene, I Will Always Love You, 9 to 5)
Donny Hathaway (The Ghetto, Pt. 1, Where Is the Love)
Doris Day (Dream a Little Dream of Me; Que Sera Sera; Perhaps, Perhaps)
Ella Fitzgerald (with Louis Armstrong: Cheek to Cheek, Summertime; Cry Me a River; Embraceable You)
Elton John (Candle in the Wind, Can You Feel the Love Tonight, Circle of Life, I’m Still Standing, Tiny Dancer, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Rocket Man, Your Song, Alison)
Elvis Costello ([What’s So Funny About] Peace, Love and Understanding; Watching the Detectives)
Elvis Presley (Can’t Help Falling in Love, Love Me Tender, Blue Suede Shoes, Hound Dog, Jailhouse Rock, Don’t Be Cruel, Mystery Train, Suspicious Minds, All Shook Up, That’s All Right)
Eminem (esp. Without Me, Not Afraid)
Eric Clapton (Tears in Heaven, Wonderful Tonight)
Etta James (At Last, Something’s Got a Hold on Me)
Fats Domino (Ain’t It a Shame, Blueberry Hill)
Frankie Valli (Sherry, Walk LIke a Man, Can’t Take My Eyes Off You)
Frank Sinatra (My Way; Fly Me to the Moon; New York, New York; That’s Life; I’ve Got the World on a String)
Gladys Knight (Midnight Train to Georgia, I Heard It Through the Grapevine, Neither One of Us)
Gregg Allman (Midnight Rider, Whipping Post)
Guns N’ Roses (Paradise City, Sweet Child O’Mine, Welcome to the Jungle)
Iggy Pop (Search and Destroy, I Wanna Be Your Dog, Lust for Life)
Jackie Wilson (Lonely Teardrops, [Your Love Keeps Lifting Me] Higher and Higher)
James Brown (Please, Please, Please; Get Up [I Feel Like Being a] Sex Machine; I Got You [I Feel Good]; It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World; Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag)
James Taylor (Five and Rain, Sweet Baby James, You’ve Got a Friend)
Janis Joplin (Me and Bobby McGee, Piece of My Heart, Summertime, Try, Maybe)
Jerry Lee Lewis (Great Balls of Fire, Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On, Breathless)
Jimmy Cliff (Many Rivers to Cross, The Harder They Come, I Can See Clearly Now)
Joe Cocker (With a Little Help From My Friends, You Are So Beautiful, Feelin’ Alright, Cry Me a River)
John Coltrane (instrumental)
John Denver (Take Me Home, Country Roads; Home Grown Tomatoes)
John Fogerty (Bad Moon Rising, Fortunate Son, Proud Mary)
John Lee Hooker (Boom Boom; One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer; Boogie Chillen)
John Legend (Glory, All of Me, Ordinary People)
John Lennon (I Feel Fine, Strawberry Fields Forever, Imagine, Instant Karma, Happy Christmas [War Is Over])
John Mayer (Your Body Is a Wonderland)
Johnny Cash (Ring of Fire, I Walk the Line, Folsom Prison Blues)
Joni Mitchell (Both Sides Now, Help Me, Raised on Robbery, Big Yellow Taxi)
Kanye West (Gold Digger, All of the Lights, Jesus Walks)
Led Zeppelin (Black Dog, Heartbreaker, Kashmir, Ramble On, Stairway to Heaven)
The Band (The Weight, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down)
Little Richard (Good Golly, Miss Molly; Long Tall Sally; The Girl Can’t Help It)
Louis Armstrong (What a Wonderful World, Cheek to Cheek, Unforgettable)
Lou Reed (Satellite of Love, I’m Waiting for the Man)
Luther Vandross (Never Too Much, Superstar, A House Is Not a Home)
Lynyrd Skynyrd (Free Bird, Sweet Home Alabama)
Macy Gray (I Try)
Madonna (Vogue, Like a Virgin, Material Girl, Like A Prayer)
Mariah Carey (I Don’t Wanna Cry, Without You, Hero, Bye Bye, One Sweet Day, Vision of Love, Fantasy, Always Be My Baby, Emotions, O Holy Night)
Martha Reeves and the Vandellas (Dancing in the Street, Nowhere to Run)
Marvin Gaye (What’s Going On, Let’s Get It On, I Heard It Through the Grapevine)
Mary J. Blige (Real Love, Not Gon’ Cry, No More Drama)
Mavis Staples
Merle Haggard (The Fugitive, The Bottle Let Me Down, Mama Tried)
Michael Bolton (When a Man Loves a Woman, Said I Loved You … But I Lied; How Can We Be Lovers; How Am I Supposed to Live Without You)
Michael Jackson (Thriller, Bad, Billie Jean)
Miles Davis
Morrissey (How Soon Is Now?; William, It Was Really Nothing; What Difference Does It Make?; Irish Blood, English Heart)
Muddy Waters (Got My Mojo Workin’, Mannish Boy, I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man, Rollin’ Stone)
Nancy Sinatra (These Boots are Made for Walkin’; Bang Bang)
Natalie Cole (Unforgettable, This Will Be [An Everlasting Love])
Nat King Cole (Unforgettable, When I Fall in Love, Mona Lisa, Christmas songs)
Neil Young (Cortez the Killer, Heart of Gold, Rockin’ in the Free World)
Nina Simone
Nirvana/ Kurt Cobain (Smells Like Teen Spirit, Come As You Are, In Bloom)
Norah Jones (Don’t Know Why, Come Away With Me)
Otis Redding (I’ve Been Loving You too Long [to Stop Now], [Sittin’ on] the Dock of the Bay, Try a Little Tenderness)
Patsy Cline (I Fall to Pieces, Walkin’ After Midnight, Crazy)
Patti LaBelle (On My Own, If Only You Knew, Lady Marmalade)
Patti Smith (Gloria, Rock N Roll Nigger, Because the Night)
Paul Rodgers (All Right Now, Bad Company, Can’t Get Enough)
Peter, Paul and Mary (Puff the Magic Dragon, Blowin’ in the Wind, If I Had a Hammer, Lemon Tree)
Pink Floyd (Another Brick in the Wall Part 2, Comfortably Numb, Wish You Were Here)
Prince (Kiss, 1999, Purple Rain, Little Red Corvette, Sign O’ the Times, When Doves Cry)
Queen/ Freddie Mercury (We Will Rock You, We Are the Champions, Bohemian Rhapsody, You’re My Best Friend, Another One Bites the Dust)
Ramones (Blitzkrieg Bop, I Wanna Be Sedated, Sheena Is a Punk Rocker)
Ray Charles (Georgia on My Mind, Night & Day, Hit the Road, Jack, I Can’t Stop Loving You, I Got a Woman, What’d I Say)
R.E.M. (Losing My Religion, Radio Free Europe)
Rod Stewart (Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?, Maggie May, Tonight’s the Night [Gonna Be Alright], Downtown Train)
Roger Daltrey (My Generation, I Can See for Miles, Pinball Wizard, Won’t Get Fooled Again)
Ronnie Spector (Be My Baby, Baby I Love You, Walking in the Rain)
Roy Orbison (Crying, In Dreams, Only the Lonely)
Sam Cooke (A Change Is Gonna Come, Cupid, A Change Is Gonna Come, Bring It on Home to Me, You Send Me, Wonderful World)
Sam Moore (Soul Man, Hold On, I’m Comin’, Part Time Love)
Sammy Davis Jr.
Shaggy (Angel, It Wasn’t Me)
Simon and Garfunkel (Bridge Over Troubled Water, Scarborough Fair, All I Know, Sound of Silence, The Boxer)
Sly and the Family Stone (Hot Fun in the Summertime, Dance to the Music, Everyday People, Thank You [Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin], Family Affair)
Smokey Robinson and The Miracles (Ooo Baby Baby, Shop Around, The Tracks of My Tears)
Solomon Burke (Everybody Needs Somebody to Love, Cry to Me, Just Out of Reach)
Steven Tyler (Sweet Emotion, Dream On, Walk This Way)
Steve Perry (Oh Sherrie, Don’t Stop Believin’, Open Arms)
Steve Winwood
Stevie Wonder (I Just Called to Say I Love You, Could You Be Loved, Higher Ground, Living for the City, Superstition, You Are the Sunshine of My Life)
The Animals (Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood, We Gotta Get Out of This Place, The House of the Rising Sun, We Gotta Get Out of This Place, It’s My Life)
The Bangles (Walk Like an Egyptian, Manic Monday, Eternal Flame)
The Beach Boys (California Girls; Surfin’ USA; Caroline, No; I Get Around; Don’t Worry Baby; God Only Knows; Good Vibrations)
The Beatles (A Hard Day’s Night; All You Need is Love; Can’t Buy Me Love; Come Together; Eleanor Rigby; Hey, Jude; Let It Be; Yesterday; Yellow Submarine; I Saw Her Standing There; Norwegian Wood [This Bird Has Flown]; Penny Lane; Please Please Me; Rain; Something; Strawberry Fields Forever; Ticket to Ride; While My Guitar Gently Weeps; With a Little Help From My Friends; In My Life)
The Byrds (I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better, Mr. Tambourine Man; Turn! Turn! Turn!)
The Clash (Complete Control, London Calling, Should I Stay or Should I Go, Train in Vain, [White Man] In Hammersmith Palais, Just Like Heaven, Pictures of You)
The Doors/ Jim Morrison (Light My Fire, The End)
The Drifters (Money Honey, Under the Boardwalk, Up on the Roof)
The Eagles (Hotel California, Desperado, The Boys of Summer [Don Henley solo])
The Everly Brothers (All I Have to Do Is Dream, Cathy’s Clown, Bye Bye Love, When Will I Be Loved, Crying in the Rain, Wake Up Little Susie)
The Isley Brothers (It’s Your Thing, That Lady [Part 1 and 2])
The Jimi Hendrix Experience (All Along the Watchtower, Purple Haze)
The Police (Message in a Bottle, Every Breath You Take, Roxanne)
The Righteous Brothers (Unchained Melody, The Righteous Brothers, You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’)
The Rolling Stones (Tumbling Dice, Beast of Burden, Brown Sugar, [I Cant Get No] Satisfaction, Paint It Black, Gimme Shelter, Honky Tonk Women, Jumpin’ Jack Flash, Miss You, Ruby Tuesday, Street Fighting Man, Sympathy for the Devil, Wild Horses, You Can’t Always Get What You Want)
The Ronettes (Be My Baby, Walking in the Rain)
The Sex Pistols (Anarchy in the U.K., The Sex Pistols, God Save the Queen)
The Shirelles (Tonight’s the Night, Will You Love Me Tomorrow)
The Staple Singers (I’ll Take You There, Respect Yourself, Let’s Do It Again)
The Supremes (Baby Love, Where Did Our Love Go, You Keep Me Hanging On)
The Temptations (Just My Imagination, My Girl, Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone)
The Who (Baba O’Riley, I Can See For Miles, I Can’t Explain, My Generation, Won’t Get Fooled Again)
Thom Yorke (Fake Plastic Trees, Karma Police, Everything in Its Right Place)
Tina Turner (What’s Love Got to Do With It, Proud Mary, Simply the Best)
Tom Waits (New Coat of Paint, Downtown Train, Dirt in the Ground)
Tony Bennett (The Way You Look Tonight, Fly Me to the Moon, ILeft My Heart in San Francisco)
Toots Hibbert (Funky Kingston, Monkey Man, Pressure Drop)
Tracy Chapman (Give Me One Reason, Fast Car, Stand By Me)
U2/ Bono (Beautiful Day, With or Without You, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For)
Van Morrison (Brown Eyed Girl, Into the Mystic, Moondance)
Whitney Houston (I Will Always Love You, Greatest Love of All, How Will I Know, I Have Nothing, I Wanna Dance with Somebody, Run to You, Saving All My Love for You, Where Do Broken Hearts Go)
Willie Nelson (Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain, On the Road Again, Whiskey River, Blue Skies, Mams Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys)
Wilson Pickett (In the Midnight Hour, Land of a 1,000 Dances, Mustang Sally)
Neil Young

Other Important Rock/General Songs

Africa, Toto
Baby I Need Your Loving, The Four Tops
Be-Bop-A-Lula, Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps
Bitter Sweet Symphony, The Verve
Boom Boom, John Lee Hooker
Breaking Up is Hard to Do, Shelley Fabares
Can’t Help Myself, The Four Tops
Carry On Wayward Son, Kansas
Chapel of Love, The Dixie Cups
C’mon Everybody, Eddie Cochran
Come Go With Me, The Dell-Vikings
(Don’t Fear) the Reaper, Blue Öyster Cult
Don’t Stop Believing, Journey
Don’t Worry Be Happy, Bobby McFerrin
Do You Believe in Magic, The Lovin’ Spoonful
Downtown, Petula Clark
Earth Angel, The Penguins
Everybody Wants to Rule the World, Tears for Fears
Everything I Do (I Do It For You), Bryan Adams
Fire and Rain, James Taylor
Fight For Your Right (to Party), Beastie Boys
Fight the Power, Public Enemy
Fooled Around and Fell in Love, Elvin Bishop
For What It’s Worth, Buffalo Springfield
Free Fallin’, Tom Petty
I Will Survive, Gloria Gaynor
Good Lovin’, The Young Rascals
Good Times, Chic
Green Onions, Booker T. and the MG’s
I Fought the Law, The Bobby Fuller Four
I Go to Pieces, Peter and Gordon
I’ll Take You There, The Staple Singers
I Love Rock ‘N Roll, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
In the Midnight Hour, Wilson Pickett
I’m a Man, Bo Diddley
I Only Have Eyes for You, The Flamingos
I Only Wanna Be with You, Bay City Rollers
I Ran, Flock of Seagulls
I Will Follow Him, Peggy March
It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere, Alan Jackson
Jump Around, House of Pain
Killing Me Softly With His Song, Roberta Flack
King of the Road, Roger Miller
La Bamba, Ritchie Valens
Layla, Derek and the Dominos
Leader of the Pack, The Shangri-Las
Lean on Me, Bill Withers
Little Richard, Tutti-Frutti
London Beat, I’ve Been Thinking About You
Lonely Teardrops, Jackie Wilson
Long Cool Woman, The Hollies
Love Shack, The B-52’s
Love Will Tear Us Apart, Joy Division
Money (That’s What I Want), Barrett Strong
Mustang Sally, Wilson Pickett
My Boyfriend’s Back, The Angels
Nuthin’ but a “G” Thang, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dog
Oh Happy Day, Edwin Hawkins & Northern California State Youth Choir
One More Time, Daft Punk
Only You, The Platters
O-o-h Child, The Five Stairsteps
Pink Houses, John Cougar Mellencamp
People Get Ready, The Impressions
Rapper’s Delight, Sugarhill Gang
Reach Out, I’ll Be There, The Four Tops
Roxette, Spending My Time
Runaway, Del Shannon
Running on Empty, Jackson Browne
Sail Away, Randy Newman
Seven Nation Army, The White Stripes
Smoke on the Water, Deep Purple
Somebody to Love, Jefferson Airplane
Son of a Preacher Man, Dusty Springfield
Spirit in the Sky, Norman Greenbaum
Standing in the Shadows of Love, The Four Tops
Staying Alive, Bee Gees
Summer in the City, The Lovin’ Spoonful
Sunshine of Your Love, Cream
Take Good Care of My Baby, Bobby Vee
That’s Entertainment, The Jam
The Animals, The House of the Rising Sun
The Boys of Summer, Don Henley
The Great Pretender, The Platters
The House of Rising Sun, The Animals
The Letter, The Box Tops
The Loco-Motion, Little Eva
The Message, Grandmaster Flash
The Power of Love, Jennifer Love
The Wanderer, Dion
Tik Tok, Ke$ha
UpTown Funk, Bruno Mars
Walk Away Renee, The Left Banke
Walking on Sunshine, Katrina & The Waves
Walk On By, Dionne Warwick
Walk on the Wild Side, Lou Reed
Wanted, Dead or Alive, Bon Jovi
Walk this Way, Aerosmith and Run DMC
(We’re Gonna) Rock Around the Clock, Bill Haley and His Comets
White Room, Cream
Whiter Shade of Pale, Procol Harum
Wichita Lineman, Glen Campbell
Wild Thing, The Troggs
Your Love, The Outfield
Yeah!, Usher with Lil Jon and Ludacris
YMCA, Village People
Your Cheatin’ Heart, Hank Williams
(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher, Jackie Wilson
How Soon Is Now?, The Smiths
Dancing Queen, Abba
Dancing in the Streets, Martha & the Vandellas
Let’s Hear It for the Boy, Deniece Williams
Personal Jesus, Depeche Mode
Band on the Run, Paul McCartney
Stand By Me, Ben E. King
Shake, Rattle & Roll, Big Joe Turner
Ain’t No Sunshine, Bill Withers
California Dreamin, The Mamas and the Papas
The Twist, Chubby Checker
Summertime Blues, Eddie Cochran
Fame, David Bowie
I Want to Know What Love Is, Foreigner
Why Do Fools Fall In Love, Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers
Go Your Own Way, Fleetwood Mac
Flash Light, Parliament
Hallelujah, Jeff Buckley
Super Freak, Rick James
Get Ur Freak On, Missy Elliott
When a Man Loves a Woman, Percy Sledge
White Wedding, Billy Idol
Live and Let Die, Paul McCartney
Mannish Boy, Muddy Waters
Fever, Peggy Lee
Louie Louie, The Kingsmen
You Really Got Me, The Kinks
In the Still of the Night, The Five Satins
The Gambler, Kenny Rogers
Hotel California, The Eagles
Say You Say Me, Lionel Ritchie
Stuck on You, Lionel Ritchie
Under the Bridge, Red Hot Chili Peppers
Chan Chan, Buena Vista Social Club
I Can See Clearly Now, Johnny Nash
Save the Last Dance for Me, The Drifters
96 Tears, ? and the Mysterians
The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, The Band
Soul Man, Sam and Dave
Emotions, Best of My Love
I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry, Hank Williams
Hot Stuff, Donna Summer
Oh, What A Night, The Dells
In the Air Tonight, Phil Collins
I Would Do Anything for Love [But I Won’t Do That], Meat Loaf
In the Mood, Robert Plant
Enter Sandman, Metallica
She’s Got the Look, Roxette
Shout (Parts 1 and 2), The Isley Brothers
Sonny and Cher, I Got You Babe
Born to Be Wild, Steppenwolf
Sweet Caroline, Neil Diamond
Rhiannon, Fleetwood Mac
Talk to Me, Stevie Nicks
Tequila Song, The Champs
You’re So Vain, Carly Simon
Gimme Some Lovin’, The Spencer Davis Group
Uptown Funk, Mark Ronson

Basic Physical Education (The ‘School in a Book’ Series)

The importance of physical activity is one of my soap-box topics. I love that as a homeschooling family we have the time to take bike rides and long walks during the day.

No one is saying your child should become an all-star. But learning the basics of a wide variety of sports helps them understand their options and almost certainly find something they truly enjoy.

For each of the activities below, the student should learn the basic rules of the game, experience playing the game multiple times, and learn proper form for as many of the skills involved in the game as possible. (This is particularly important with swimming and running.) YouTube videos are an invaluable resource for this.

Physical Education Checklist

Important:

Volleyball
Soccer
Baseball/Softball
Football
Basketball
Hockey
Badminton
Tennis
Swimming
Running
Roller Skating
Ice Skating
Biking
Dance (including several basic ballet, tap, ballroom, interpretive, cheerleading, club dancing moves and more)
Hiking
Sledding
Yoga
Hide and Seek
Capture the Flag
Tag
Sardines
Dodgeball
Kick the Can
Obstacle Courses
Frisbee
Keep Away
Billiards/Pool
Snorkeling

Optional:

Gymnastics
Parkour
Rock climbing
Martial Arts
Diving
Weight Lifting
Wrestling
Snow skiing
Snowboarding
Water skiing
Wake boarding
Surfing
Sailing
Rafting
Golf
Table Tennis/Ping Pong
Pickleball
Cricket
Wiffleball
Skateboarding
Surfing
Frisbee Golf
Lacrosse
Jump Roping
Wrestling
Canyoneering
Horse Riding
Polo
SCUBA diving
Fishing
Hunting
Shooting
Archery
Raquetball
Squash
Handball
Hang Gliding
Paragliding
Kite Flying
Rodeo Sports
Canoeing
Kayaking
Rafting
Rowing
Auto Racing
ATV Racing
Dune Buggying
Go-Kart Racing
Aerobatics
Parachuting
Foosball

Basic Biology and Genetics (The ‘School in a Book’ Series)

I remember learning basic biology in school. It was a long time ago, and yet, most of this stuff stuck. It’s everywhere, after all–in the news, in other books. And yet, after creating this list, I was struck by the fine delineations, especially regarding the differences between genes, genetic traits, chromosomes, alleles, and DNA. Interesting review here.

Basic Biology Knowledge Checklist

Living thing: Living things need air (though different gases are needed by different living things), water and nutrients; they grow; they have metabolism; they reproduce; they die; they are made up of cells; and they have these visible attributes: a distinct orientation (head and tail, top and bottom), symmetry, fine structure and detail, and a tenuous quality (meaning certain conditions must be met to preserve them; in other words, they can die).

Classification/taxonomy: Organizing things into groups according to their shared features. A living things is classified according to its domain, kingdom, phylum (if animal) or division (if plant), class, order, family, genus, species, and subspecies (race, breed, or variety).

The three domains of life: Bacteria, archaea and eukaryota. There are about ten eukaryota kingdoms, including plants, animals and fungi.

Plant kingdom: Made up of the living things that get energy from the sun

Animal kingdom: Made up of the living things that get energy from living, biological food

The human taxonomy: Eukaryota domain, animal kingdom, chordates phylum (since they have a stiff rod that supports the body), the mammal class, the omnivore order, the homo sapiens species and various races of subspecies

Common name: Name commonly used for a species of animal or plant

Biological name: Official name of an animal or plant. Usually in Latin and made up of the genus and species name, but sometimes also contains the name of the sub-species.

Species: Subgroup whose members can mate and reproduce offspring of their kind

Life cycle: Stages of growth and development of living things. Different for different species. (Frogs have a tadpole stage and caterpillars have a cocoon stage, for example.)

Generation: All members of a species bearing offspring around the same time

Male: Boy offspring; fertilizes the egg

Female: Girl offspring; produces eggs and sometimes births the offspring Reproduction: In animals, the producing of offspring by parents Sexual reproduction: Reproduction involving two parents, one male and one female Asexual reproduction: Reproduction involving only one parent

Fertilization: Adding DNA to the egg that starts its growth

Mating: The pairing of opposite-sex animals that results in fertilization

Food chain: A series of plants and animals that use each other for food. It starts with a plant that gets food from the sun, then continues with the animal that eats that plant and so on.

Food web: A series of interlinked food chains. Creates interdependence.

Cell: Smallest unit of living matter, but still visible under a microscope. (Try looking at a thin slice of onion membrane.)

Mitosis: Cell division resulting in two genetically identical cells, each with a set of the same chromosomes. Happens when the nucleus of the cell divides.

Cytokinesis: The second stage of cell division in which the cell plate forms to divide the two cells

Fungi: Living things that lack chlorophyll and feed on living and dead things

Bacteria: A type of single-celled organism that exists everywhere on earth. Most types have not been studied.

Protozoa: Single-celled eukaryotes that feed on organic matter

Amoeba: A type of protozoa, fungi, algae or animal that can change shape, usually by extending out pseudopods (fluid-filled sacs in the shape of arms or tentacles)

Excretion: The elimination of metabolic waste

Parasite: Living thing that feeds on other living things and also uses them as their home

Host: The living thing that homes and feeds a parasite

Homeostasis: Biological equilibrium, when a living thing’s internal conditions (such as temperature and mineral levels) are steady

Decomposition: The process by which organic substances break down into small pieces, which then get recycled

Dormant: Asleep; not dead but not reproducing, as a dormant seed

Evolution: The long series of changes that happen to all living things

Extinction: The dying out of a species

Natural selection: The natural process by which some species adapt and survive and others die out

Artificial selection: The human-controlled process by which some species change and survive and others die out

Mass extinction: The large-scale dying out of many species (and biodiversity) on earth. Happens due to major weather changes brought on by major events, like an astroid hitting the earth.

Adaptation: The process by which a species changes over time to adapt and survive

Biomass: The combined weight of all living things of a certain type in a certain area. The biomass of plants is higher than of animals. At each level of the food chain, the biomass is lower.

Basic Genetics Knowledge Checklist

Genetics: The study of genes and heredity

Gene: The instructions inherited from parents that tell the body how to develop a particular characteristic or characteristics in the body (what qualities that characteristic will have). They are in every cell of the body (except red blood cells).

Genetic trait: A single trait that is expressed due to the instructions of the related gene. There can be multiple traits expressed by a single gene.

Heredity: All the traits passed from parents to their offspring

Genome: All of the genetic material of an organism (DNA or RNA)

Gene map: Shows the arrangement of the genes on a chromosome

Chromosome: The bundles that hold all of the individual genes. They are stored in the cell’s nucleus. Humans have 46 chromosomes: 2 sets of 23. Each chromosomes holds many, many genes.

DNA: Dioxyribonucleic acid. The chemical makeup of the genes. Always in a paired double strand and in the shape of a double helix.

RNA: Ribonucleic acid. This molecule reads and regulates genes. Sometimes called a messenger.

Nature and nurture: Heredity and environment. Both produce characteristics of an individual living thing, but how they interact is usually often unknown.

X and Y chromosomes: The chromosomes that determine gender. Everyone has one X chromosome, but males have a Y and females have a second X.

Dominant gene: The gene in the gene pair (the allele) that dominates the recessive one, and therefore gets expressed in the organism. Most genes are either dominant or recessive.

Recessive gene: The gene in the gene pair (the allele) that does not dominate the other. The recessive gene is expressed only when there are two associated recessives present, one from each parent. 

Co-dominance: Occurs when the contributions of both genes are visible in the organism

Allele: One of the two associated genes in a gene pair

Homozygote: Both of the alleles of a gene (both copies of a gene) are the same

Heterozygote: The alleles of a gene (both copies of a gene) are the same

Carrier: An organism that has a recessive allele for a genetic trait but does not display it. Can pass the allele onto offspring, who will express it if they inherit the same one from both parents.

DNA profiling/genetic fingerprinting: Determining an individual’s unique DNA code, usually by sampling a particular section of it

Genetic engineering/modification: The direct manipulation of an organism’s genes using biotechnology

GMO: Genetically modified organism

Gene splicing/ recombinant DNA (rDNA): DNA molecules formed in a lab bringing together genes from separate organisms

Cloning: Producing genetically identical individuals of an organism either naturally or artificially. In nature, many organisms produce clones through asexual reproduction.

Hybrid: Subspecies made by crossing two species

Basic Botany and Zoology (The ‘School in a Book’ Series)

Basic Botany Knowledge Checklist

Parts of a plant cell: Cell wall; cell membrane; cytoplasm containing chloroplasts, chromoplasts, other organelles and the nucleus; a large vacuole containing water, sugar and other dissolved substances

Photosynthesis: The process plants use to make food. Steps: 1. Leaves, roots and stem take in water, sunlight and CO2. Chloroplasts in leaf cells contain chlorophyll which absorbs sun’s energy. Energy is used to combine H2O and CO2 to make carbohydrates and oxygen. Some of this can be stored as starch. The carbs and oxygen are then used to release energy, CO2 and water. At night, there is only respiration using stored energy. In daytime, photosynthesis is faster than respiration, so more energy is stored.

Roots: network of string-like structures (fibrous roots) or tap roots (like carrots). Absorb water, nutrients, anchors the plant.

Parts of a root: Primary root; secondary roots; root hairs; root cap

Types of roots: Fibrous roots (many equal-sized primary roots); advetitious roots (roots that grow out of the stem, like the hairs on an onion bulb); aerial roots (as in ivy); prop roots (for trees)

Stems: Transports nutrients; include trucks, vines, central points of grass

Parts of a stem: Buds (small growth that becomes a new shoot or a flower); shoots (new stems that grow off the main stem); main stem

Leaves: Food-making parts of plants. Leaves have veins and holes on their undersides to let in water and air. These can open and close. Note that leaves include pine needles.

Vascular tissue: Carries food and water through the plant

Bark: Dead protective tissue on the outside of a tree. Bark is formed in a living layer underneath the current layer after that layer gets pushed out by the new rings that are forming. It has tiny raised openings that provide oxygen and CO2 exchange, and it protects the tree from disease and helps hold in moisture. Since it can’t grow, it peels off and new bark is formed underneath.

Heartwood: The oldest rings of the tree; can’t transport water anymore

Sapwood: The newer rings; still transport water

Annual ring:A single layer of secondary thickening in an older plant, which takes one year to form

Seed: Has an embryo, food supply and protective coat. Seedlings grown in the dark are different from those grown in the light. Grow taller to seek light, but are weaker structurally. Seed gets energy from storage, not sun, but shoots require sun.

Flowers: Enable reproduction by containing male and female sex cells (gametes). Parts: petals that produce nectar to attract insects needed for pollination; stamens (the male part which contain pollen); and the carpel or pisitil (the female part that contains ovules in their ovary and can trap pollen). Some plants have male and female parts in all their flowers. Others have flowers of each type, and others have only male or female flowers, and need to be cross-pollinated with another plant of their genus or species.

Fruit: The part of the flowering plant that holds the seeds. This includes nuts, succulent fruits, berries, pods (like pea pods), kernels (like wheat kernels) and more.

Cones: The part of conifer trees that hold the seeds. They start out open, then after pollination, close up. When the seeds are ripe and the weather is warm and dry, the scales open and drop the fertilized seeds so they can find dirt to grow in. The cones then remain on the plant for a year or so. Note that conifers have male and female flowers and self-pollinate. Seeds are dispersed through animal excrement, wind, water and catching on animal fur.

Asexual reproduction: Reproduction that doesn’t involve a male and female sex cell. Algae, ferns and mosses do this because they don’t have flowers. But some use spores to reproduce also, alternating sexual and asexual reproduction.

Vegetative reproduction/vegetative propagation: When a plant can reproduce itself by itself asexually. Examples: plants that grow from bulbs (like tulips), from runners (like strawberries), from tubers (like potatoes), from cuttings and even from just a few cells (as in a lab). Note that for growing from cuttings, the cutting might need to stand in water and grow roots first before being planted in dirt.

Reproductive structures of plants: Flowers, cones, and spore capsules. Divisions (phylums) are made in the plant kingdom according to the form of the reproductive structures.

Anthers: male part of reproductive structrues; produce pollen

Ovaries: female part of flower – contains eggs that get pollinated by anthers, grows into the fruit, with each egg a seed.

Pollination: The transfer of pollen from the male part of a plant to the female part of the plant

Growth season: One year of a plant’s life

Plant lifecycle types: Annuals (die out except the seed each year); biennials (die in two years); herbaceous perennials (roots live many years but above ground parts die each year); woody perennials (most of parts above and below ground live on); ephemerals (very short lifecycles)

Dormant: Still alive but not actively growing; a seed. To see if a seed is still alive, try to grow it.

Germination: The waking up of a dormant seed

Soil: Dirt that is suitable for plant growth

Tropism: A plant “sense”

Autotropism: The ability (as of a plant) to make one’s own food

Geotropism: The ability (as of a plant) to sense gravity. Plants grow away from gravity, even if the soil is upside-down.

Phototropism: The ability (as of a plant) to sense light.

Thigmotropism: The ability (as of a plant) to sense touch.

Deciduous tree: Tree that loses its leaves each year

Evergreen tree: Tree that doesn’t shed its leaves all at once. They have tough, waxy leaves that don’t lose as much water.

Fungi: Not plants, but plant-like. Grow in damp and dark. No chlorophyll, so feed on dead or living things. Inc: mold, yeast, mushrooms. Some are helpful, as yeast and cheese mold. Some are poisonous to animals and plants.T

Angiosperm: Plant that produce flowers

Hydrophyte: Plant that grow in water. Include algae, seaweed, lily pads and more

Waterlogged: Oversaturated with water. Water-holding capacity is better for rich soil but poorer for sandy soil.

Aeration: The air flow to plant roots. Roots need oxygen, though plants take in CO2 and give off oxygen. Leaves transport sugar but can’t transport oxygen.

Drought: An extended dry period

Erosion: Bare soil exposed to elements. Prevent it by maintaining a vegetation cover. Erosion lowers soil quality since topsoil is richest.

Soil management: Maintaining proper balance of soil nutrients, airflow and water in soil

Soil conservation: Erosion prevention

Crop rotation: Rotating crops in order to balance the mineral levels in the soil since plants use and add different amounts of various minerals as they grow

Basic Zoology Knowledge Checklist

Parts of an animal cell: Cell membrane (no cell wall like plants have); cytoplasm; organelles, including mitrochondria, which convert substances into energy for the cell, vacuoles, which house fats and liquids, the nucleus, which controls everything that happens in the cell, and the Golgi complex, which stores and distributes the substances that are made inside the cell (the warehouse). Cell also has centrioles, ribosomes to build proteins, and lysosomes. Note: See a picture of cell division to view these stages. Also note that different cells specialize according to their job.

Tissue: Cells of the same type combined together to do a particular job

Organ: Tissues of different types working together to do a particular job

System: Organs of different types working together to do a particular job

Body structures of animals: Most have a fluid-filled cavity and a skeleton to hold the cavity in place and allow for movement. All have an outer layer to enclose their bodies, which can be skin, an exoskeleton, a cuticle, scales, shells, prickles, fur and more. Animals also have a part or parts of the body to provide for locomotion, such as fins, flippers, wings, legs, etc.

Biped: Animal with two legs

Quadraped: Animal with four legs

Vertebrate: Animal with a backbone

Invertebrate: Animal with no backbone (as a snail)

Arthropod: Animal with an external skeleton/ exoskeleton (as a grasshopper)

Warm-blooded animal: Animal that can regulate its body temperature

Cold-blooded animal: Animal whose temperature changes with its environment

Herbivore: An animal that eats only plants

Carnivore: An animal that eats only meat

Omnivore: An animal that eats both plants and meat

Types of animal communication: Body language, such as preening or dancing; making noises, such as using vocal cords or rubbing body parts together; sending out chemical messages through pheremones or by spraying; and changing color.

Parts that animals use to sense their environment: Eyes; ears; specialized body parts for sensing balance; specialized body parts for sensing water pressure and currents; whiskers; tentacles; taste buds; parts for detecting electric pulses given off by other creatures (sharks do this). Note that birds may be able to sense Earth’s magnetic field and use it for migration, too. Also, animals detect gravity.

Types of animal reproduction: Animals either lay eggs (before or after fertilization) or give birth to live young

Larva: The form some animals take before beginning metamorphosis

Pupa: A hard shell that forms on larva inside of which metamorphosis occurs

Metamorphosis: The total restructuring of an animal’s body, sometimes inside a pupa or cocoon

Hibernation: A period of inactivity in some animals that includes the slowing of the metabolism

Migration: The large-scale movement of a species from one place to another

Basic Spanish Vocabulary (The ‘School in a Book’ Series)

Lots of people will tell you that learning a new language is easy. And it can be . . . but it usually isn’t. The problem isn’t with the actual difficulty of the language, though. The problem is that we don’t practice.

Unless you live among native speakers, it’s a problem that’s not easily remedied. My suggestion: every few months (more if you’re in a hurry), play some audio recordings of words with translations or children’s music in the car on repeat. Language learning is not an all-at-once thing; you’ll need lots of time and repetition to let it sink in. If possible, be casual about it, but be consistent.

If you’re a person who enjoys reading and writing, copy your word lists onto flash cards or foldable lists. Personally, I spend countless hours writing and rewriting my lists when in full-on language learning mode.

You can also make games out of your vocabulary words–all kinds of fun games. At the end of this post I provide a story you can tell your kids that incorporates practice and repetition (theirs or yours).

Complete Beginners’ Spanish Word List

Greetings

Hello: Hola
Good morning: Buenas dias
Good afternoonL Buenas tardes
Good evening: Buenas noches
Goodbye: Adios; chau
What is your name?: Como se llama?
My name is …: Me llamo; mi nombre es …
Pleasure to meet you. Mucho gusto.
How are you: Como esta (for a less familiar person); Como estas (for a more familiar person); Como esta usted (for a formal situation or older person)
Where are you from: De donde viene
I’m from …: Soy de …
See you later: Hasta luego.
See you tomorrow: Hasta ma­nana

Almost-Free Words

Important: Importante
Interesting: Interesante
Perfect: Perfecto
Excellent: Excellente

Exclamations

Thank you very much: Muchas gracias
You’re welcome: De nada
Execuse Me: Disculpe; perdoname; con permiso
Goodness: Caramba
Please: Por favor
I’m sorry: Lo siento
Forgive me: Disculpe
Help me: Ayudame
Danger: Peligro
Forbidden: Prohibito
No smoking: No se fuma
Fire: Fuego; incendio
Emergency: Emergencia
Hurry up: Appurase; rapido
For sale: Se vende
For rent: Se alguila
Look: Mira
Stop: Pare
Watch out: Cuidado
That’s fine: Esta bien
Go away: Dejeme
Bienvenido: Welcome
Oops: Opa (an expression from Greek)
True: Verdad
Of course: Por supresto
It’s okay/don’t worry about it: Tranquila; no se preculpe
Are you sure: Seguro
What do you mean: Como
How do you say: Como se dice
At what time: A que hora
Qual es: Which is it

Small Words

Me, I—mi, yo
You—tu (familiar) usted
They, them; ellos o ellas
This—-esta
That—este
Now—ahora
Because—por que
But—pero
For—para
To—a
Actually—-En verdad
The—la, e, los, las (depending on gender)
In—por, en
We/us—nosotrous
a—un, una
never—nunca
only—solo
alone—solamente
maybe—quisas o tal vez
Equal—iqual
Without—sin
She-he—-ella, el
Their—su
Her’s/his.—la , le
Your—tu (familiar form)
Other—otra
Also—tambien
Yes/no —si y no (shaking one finger is the most common form of no in South America—the index finger)
Therefore—por lo tanto
Then—entonces
Of the —del
Per—por
Like/similar to—paracido
Here—(different words used depending on distance aqui, aji, alla)
Together —-conmigo, contigo (familiar)
Quite—bastante

Verbs

To be—Ser (permanent): soy, son, es; estar (less permanent): estoy, esta
To do—hacer…hago, hace
To feel—Sentir sineto , sienta
To be there—hay
To want—querer, quiero, quiere, quieres
To like—Gusta, me gusto, se gusta
To go (irregular verb) voy, vas, viene,
To live—vivir—vivo, vives, viva
To eat—comer como, comes, come
To drink—For non-alcoholic beverages: Tomar: tomo, tomes, tome; For alcohol: Beber …bebo, bebes, bebe
To cost—cuesta
To carry/transport—Llevar
To Exit—salida( noun)
To Arrive:—Llegar, llego, llegas, llega
To park: Estacionar
To Wait: Esperar, espero, espero, esperamos
To speak: Hablar, hablo, hables, habla
To say—digo, dices, dice
To stay put—quedar, quedense (command form)
To Help—ayudar, ayudo, ayudas, ayuda
To be able/capable—Puedar, puedo, puedes, puede
To understand—entender entiendo, entiendes, entiende
To comprehend—Comprender, comprendo, comprendes, comprende
To Hope—Esperar, espero, esperes, espere
To know/be acquainted with (person) Conocer, conozco, conoces, conoce
To know (facts) Saber, se, sabes, sabe
To charge/exchange—Cambiar, cambio,
To travel—viajer, viajo, viege
To close—Cierrar
to find—encountrar
to wash—lavar, lavo (clothes)
to clean—limpiar, limpio,
to buy—comprar, compro, ustead compra
to sit—sentar
to smoke—fumar
to take—tomer
to walk—cambiar-=–cambio, cambias, cambia
to search for—buscar, busco, buscas, busca
to see—ver veo, ve
To give—dar, doy, da
To pay—pagar, pago, paga
To sign—firmar, firmo, firme
To need—necesitar, necesito, necesita
To cook—cocinar cocino, cocina
To reserve—reservar,
To confirm—confirmar
Include—incluye
To take a photo—sacrar una foto
To Call—llamar, llamo
Prohibitied—prohibito
To accept—acceptar, acepto
To sleep—dormir,duermo,duerma
To work—trabajar, trabajo, trabaja
To think—pensar, penso
To believer—creer, creo, cree
To stop—parar
To return—volver
To sell—vender,vendo, vende
To exit—salir, salgo
To come—venior, vegno, viene
To lose—perder, pierdo, pierde
To win—ganar, gano, unstead gana
To study—estudiar, studio
To dance—baillar, bailo, bailas
To sing—cantar, canto, canta
To play—jugar..juego, juega
To hate—odiar
To love—-amar, encantar, encanto, encanta

Descriptions

Large—grande,
Small—pequeno
Afraid—austado
Fast—rapido
Slow—despacio o despacito
Good—bueno, bien
Bad—mal, malo
Pretty—bonita
Handsome—guapo (word also means hard working in some contexts)
Fat—gordo
Thin—flaco
Tall—alto
Short—corto
Open—abierto
Closed—cerrado
Personal—personal
Better—mejor
Best—primer
Hot—caliente (refers to heat, piquante refers to spicy)
Cold—frio
Exact—exacto
Special—especial
The same—mismo
Different—differente
Cheap—burato
Expensive—carro
Necessary—necesito (this is a verb, not an adjective) Necesito eso, or necesita eso (you need this)
Not necessary—no necesito
Joven—young
Difficult—dificil
Easy—facil
Modern—moderna
Old—viejo
Classic—classico
Weak—debil
Strong—fuerte
Oldest—mejor
Youngest—menor
Ready—listo
Light—ligero
Heavy—pesada
Perfect—perfecto
Excellent—excelente
Private—privado
Stupid—estupido
Smart—intelligente
Late—tarde
New—nuevo
Logical—logico
Strange/weird—extrano
Interesting—interesante
Wet—mojado
Dry—seca
Second hand—segundo
Busy—ocupado
Quiet—tranquilo
Dangerous—peligro
Safe—seguro
Available—disparsible
Tired—cansado
Broken—roto
Important—importante
Sure—seguro
Worried—preoccupado
Fun—divertito
Happy—felix
Sad—triste
Shy—-timido
Often—frequentamente

People and Animals

Grandfather—abuelo
Gandmogther—abuela
Father—padre
Mother—madre
Secretary—secretaria
Waiter—amarero
Miss—senorita
Mister—senior
Mrs—senora
Family—familia
Relative—familiares
Police—policia
Military—gendarmo
Everyone—todos las personas
No on—nadia
Person—persona
Boy—nino
Girl—nina
Children—ninas, ninos
Baby—bebe
Husband—espouso
Wife—espousa
Girlfriend—novia
Boyfriend—novio
Dog—perro
Cat—gato
Cousins—primos
Nieces/nephews—sobrainas,sobrinos
Uncle/aunt—tio, tia
Men/man– hombres, hombre
Women/woman—mujeres
Daughters—hijas

Things

TV—television
Photo—foto
Photographer—fotographia
Photocopy—fotocopia
Clothes—-ropa
Something—algo
Thing—cosa
Book—libro
Pair of glasses—lentes
Possession—posesion
Watch—reloj
Parts—partalores, partes
Computer—computadora
Shirts—camisas
Makeup—machichoa
Jeans—jeans
Purse—carteras
Key—llave
Toilets—servicios
Garbage cans—basero
Bag—bolsa
Light—luz
Powder—polvo
Gift—regalo
Repellant—repellente
Everything—qualquier cosa

Numbers

One—uno
Two—dos
Three—tres
Four—quatro
Five—cinco
Six—seis
Seven—siete
Eight—ocho
Nine—nueve
10—diaz
11—once
12—doce
13—trese
14—catorce
15—quince
16—dieceseis
17—diecesiete
18—dieceocho
19 —diecenueve
20 —viente
21…vienteuno
30—triente
31—trienteuno
40—quarenta
41—quarentauno
50—cincuenta
51—cicuentauno
60—sesenta
70—setebta
80 —ochenta
90—noventa
100—cien
1000—mil
1 million—un million
101—cineto uno
900—noveciento
1100—mil cien
1300 mil trecientos
200—doscientos
300—trescientos
400—cuatrocientos
500—quiencientos
600—seiscientos
700—setecientos
800—ochocientos

Days and Months

Sunday—domingo
Monday—lunes
Tuesday—martes
Wednesday—miercoles
Thursday—jueves
Friday—viernes
Saturday—sabad
January—Enero
February—Febuero
March—Marzo
April—Abril
May—Mayo
June—unio
July—Julio
August—Agosto
September—Septiembre
October—Octubre
November—Noviembre
December—Deciembre

Question Words

What—que
What is it—que es esto
Where —donde esta
How much—cuanto?
Who—quien
Who is it?—quien es
Which—cual
How—como
Why—por que
Why not—por que no
What time is it? Que hora es?

Colors

Black—negro
White—blanco
Blue—azul
Red—rojo
Yellow—amarillo
Green—verde (careful in using this description, though: some things that are green are considered dirty, i.e. pornography or a “green” magazine)
Pink—rosado
Purple—purpuereo
Orange—naranja

Places

Museum—museo
Bookstore—libroria
Bakery—panaderia
Department store—almacia
Country—campo (refers to terrain/geography)
City—ciudad
Home—casa
Exchange store—casa de cambio
Address—direction
Movies—cine
Restaurant—ristorante
Parking lot—estacionamonte
Café—cafeteria
Bar—taberna
Bank—banko
Hotel—hotel
Hostess—hostel
Room—cuarto
Bathroom—bano
Bus stop—parade de autobus
Entrance—entrada
Exit—salida
Supermarket—supermercados
Mall—cinto commercial
Shoe store—zapateria
Hospital—hospital
Police station—comisaria
Post office—el correo
Pharmacy—farmacia
Embassy—embajada
Place—lugar, parte, locale
School—escuela secendaria (secondary school); escuela escuela primaria (grade school)
Building—edificio

Body Parts

Body—cuerpo
Face—cara
Eyes—ojos
Nose—nariz
Mouth—boca
Hands—manos
Arms—armas
Legs—piernas
Feet—pies
Stomach—estomago
Hair—cabello
Skin—piel
Head—cabeza

Foods and Drinks

Hungry—hambre
Thirsty—sed
Food—comida
To eat—comer
Drink –beber o tomar
Coffee—café
Milk—leche
Cream—crema
Water—aqua
Ice—hielo
Miner water—aqua mineral
Sugar—azucar
Tea—te
Soft drink—gaseosa
Bottle of wine—una botella de vino
Red/white wine—tino /blanco vino
Salt—sal
Pepper—pimiento
Mustard—mostaza
Oil—accete
Vinegar—vinagre
Garlic—ajo
Soup—sopa
Noodles—fideos
Chicken—pollo
Meat—carne
Vegetables—verduras
Fruit—fruitas
Seaford—mariscos
Fish—pescado
Cold veggie soup—gazpacho
Banana—banana
Orange—naranja
Apple—manzana
Tangerine—mandarina
Pineapple—pina o anana
Mango—mango
Avocado—aquacate
Onion—cebolla
Turkey—pabo
Tomato—tomato
Sausages—chorizo
Ham—jamon
Rice—arroz
Corn—maiz
Beans—frijoles
Juice—jugo
Lemonade—limonada
Cider—cidra
Flour—harina
Bread—-pan
Ice cream—helado
Chocolate—chocolate
Vanilla—vanilla
Strawberry—fresa
Pastry—pastel
Cookies—galletas
Custard—flan
Milk shake—batido de leche
Espresso—un expreso
Cheese—queso
Eggs—huevos
Butter—mantequilla o Manteca
Margarine—margarina
Whisky—whiskey
Beer—cerveza
Alcohol—alcohol
Tuna—atun
Lobster—langusta
Sardines—sardines
Salmon—salmon
Bacon–tocino
Broth—caldo
Stew—guiso
Steak—chursasco, carne
BBQ—churrasco , churro
Tenderloin—tourneados
Roast beef—rosbef
Pork—cerdo
Toast—tostada
Grilled—parrilla
Baker—Horneado,
Mashed potatoes—pueredo papas
Potatoes—papas (careful to use las papas because the word is feminine. El Papa refers to the pope)
French Fries—papas fritas
Chicken breast—suprema de pollo
Salami—salarme
Breakfast—desayuno
Lunch—almuerzo
Soysauce—salsa d soya
Liquids—liquidos
Fry—frita
Grill—parilla
Salad—ensalada

Restaurant Words

Plate—un plato
Cup—una taza/copa
Glass—vaso
Teaspoon—una cuchariva
Spoon—cuchara
Fork—tenedor
Knkife—cuchillo
A can —una lata
Box—una lajo
A jar—un pomo
Menu—la carta
What is today’s special?—Cual es el plato del dia
Reservation—reservacion
Table—mesa
I’dlike to order—quisiera pedar
Bill—-la cuenta
Fast to go—comida para llevar
Fast food—comida rapida

Directions

Where/there—aqui, aji
Here is—aqui tiene
Right—derecha
Left—izquierda
Straight—derecho
One block—una cuadrenta
Turn—gire
Corner—ciquina
Opposite from—frenta a
Next to—junto a
In Front—frente
In back—al antes
Everywhere—en todas partes
No where—ninguna parte
Far—lejos
Close—cerca
North—norte
South—sur
East—este
West—oeste
Highway—carretera
Lost—perdido
Upstairs—arriba
Downstairs—abajo
Separate—aparte
Together—contigo,conmigo

Times

Time—tiempo
Hour—hora
Day—dia
Week—semana
Month—la mesa
Year—ano
Today—hoy
Evening/night—noche
First—primero
Second—segundo
Third—tercero
Last—ultimo
Morning—la manana
Yesterday—ayer
Tomorrow—manana
Before—antes
After—despues
Later—despues, lluego
Earlier—antes
Every day—todos las dias
Always—siempre
Never—nunca
1:00—una hora
1;15—la una y quince/cuarta
1:30—uno y media
1:45—cuarto al dos
1:01—la una y una
Date—fecha
The end—el final
Finished—finis

Amounts

More—mas
Less—menos
All—todo
Some—unos
None—nada
That’s all—eso es todo
Kilogram—kilo
Half kilo—medio kelo
Dozen—docena
Approximately—approximente
A bit of—un poco de
Number—numero
Single—individual
Double—doble
Too much/too many—demasiado
Not enough—no bastante
Enough—bastante
Many/much—mucho
Very—muy
A little—poco, poquito

Money Words

Money—dinero
Dollars—dolares
Travelers checks—chequs de viajero
Exchange rate—cambio
Commission—interes
Fee—tarrif
Bills—billetas
Small change—suelto
Signature—la firma
The payment—le debo
Credit card—tarjeta de credito
Cheap—barrata
Price—precio
Discount—discuento
ATM—el cajero

Nature Words

Sun—soil
Trees—arbol
Sky—cielo
Sea—mar
Mountains—montanas
River—rio
Lake—lago
Beach—playa
View—vista
Rain—lluevia
Tortoise—tortuga
Animals—animales
Cockroach—cucaracha
Mosquito—los mosquitos

Medical Words

Medicine—medicina
Doctor—-El Doctor
Ambulance—ambulancia
Nurse—enferma
What’s wrong>–Que le pasa
I’m sick—Me siento enfermo
Headache—dolor de la cabeza
Flu—la gripe
It hurts here—me dula aqui
I feel dizzy—tengo mareos nauseas
Pregnant—embarazada
Pain—dolor
Stomach ache—dolor to estomacho
Backache—dolor de espalda
I feel—siento
Diarrhea—diarrhea
Antibiotics—antibioticsos
Allergic—alergico
Vaccinated—vacundo (a)

Travel Words

Passport—passaporte
Documents—documentes
Bag—bolsa
Vacation—vacaciones
Suitcases—maletas
Business trip—viaje de negocios
Baggage cart—carnto para maletas
Room—cuarto, habitacion
Single bed—habatacion con una sola cama
Reservation—reserve
Shower—ducha
Private bath—bano privado
Oceanview—vista del mar
Motocycle—moto
Taxi—taxi
Bus—autobus
Car—auto, coche
Truck—camion
Station—estacion
Ticket—boleta, pasaje
Roadmap—mapa de carreteras, plano de ciudad
Boat—boats,
Port—puerto
Cabin—camarote
Subway—metro
One-way ticket—billete de ida
Round-trip ticket—billete de y vuelta
Departure—partida
Arrival—llegada
Tourism/tourist—turismo, turista

Miscellaneous Words

American—nortemaricano(a)
Englis—ingles
Spanish0—espanol
Grammatical—gramatica
Meaning—signfico
Questions—preguntas
One more time—ulta vez
Femine—feminia
Information—informacion
Life—vida
County –pais (refers to actual country, not a general description)
Age—edad
Word—palabra
World—mundo
Death—muerte
Race—carrera
Competition—competencia
Party—fiesta
Free-libre
Game—juego
Holiday—fiesta
Vacation—vacaciones
Power—poder
Religion—religion
Catholic—catholico
Protestant—protestante
Drama—drama
Information—informacion
Friendship—amistad

“The Spanish Backyard” Story and Game

Harriet and Toby were just regular kids, living in just a regular house. Still, they had what many people don’t: they had a wonderful backyard.

Sometimes their yard was a wide, deep ocean. Other times it was a space station. But Harriet and Toby’s favorite times of all were when the yard became a magical kingdom far away, where anything they spoke in Spanish appeared.

The catch: they had to speak the sentence properly three times in a row.

One day, Harriet and Toby were hungry. They were waiting for their parents to finish cooking a large meal. So, they decided to make food appear in their yard–every kind of food they could imagine.

What do you think Harriet and Toby asked for? What would you want to make appear?

Note to teachers: Here, have your students make sentences with the word list you’re working on currently. Change the scenario to fit the types of words you want to practice. Each time the student gets the sentence right, draw what they said or say, “Look! It’s a …”]

Harriet and Toby continued playing The Spanish Backyard until the sun was all the way down.

Classic Literature: Children’s (The ‘School in a Book’ Series)

Here is a collection of the stories I often try to remember at bedtime, but can’t.  My plan is to use the handy links in this list to read most of these to my kids at least several times in the coming years. Also, while they’re still young, I’m going to read them summaries of some of our great ancient stories (like the Illiad and the Odyssey) to give them a jump on classic literature before they’re old enough to read them on their own.

The links take you to either free, full-text versions of the book or story or free online summaries as appropriate. Just pull up this list on your phone or tablet and your complete children’s literature education is ready to go.

A few notes on reading to your kids: If you like, just read. Good syntax and rhythm is an education in itself. However, you might want to incorporate reading comprehension into your experience. You can do this by asking your child to summarize the story or to tell you what they think it means. Both of these tasks prepare them for competence in writing, an activity that depends on clear thinking and good organization. Some education professionals say that most college students can’t correctly identify the main points of a given text; don’t let this be your kid. (Older kids need to start outlining texts in writing as soon as they’re ready.)

Essential Classic Fairy Tales

Grimm’s Fairy Tales (including Briar Rose, The Frog Prince, Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, Tom Thumb, Rumpelstiltskin, The Golden Goose and more in their original versions), Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
Aesop’s Fables (including The Fox and the Grapes, The Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs, The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing and more in their original versions), Aesop
Andersen’s Fairy Tales (including The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Real Princess/The Princess and the Pea,The Little Match Girl and more in their original versions), Hans Christian Andersen
The Jungle Book, Rudyard Kipling
Just So Stories, Rudyard Kipling
The Sleeping Beauty and Other Fairy Tales from the Old French (including Sleeping Beauty, Blue Beard, Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast in their original versions), Charles Perrault
Favorite Fairy Tales (including Little Snow White, The Ugly Duckling, Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp, Jack and the Beanstalk, The Three Bears and more in their original versions), Logan Marshall
The Tales of Mother Goose (including Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Little Thumb, Puss in Boots, Little Red Riding Hood in their original versions), Charles Perrault
Mother Goose’s Nursery Rhymes (including Ba Ba Black Sheep, Dickery Dickery Dock, Hey Diddle Diddle, Humpty Dumpty and many more in their original versions), various authors
Important stories of the Bible
The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night, Richard Francis Burton
The Tortoise and the Hare
Thumbelina
The Pied Piper
Chicken Little
The Little Mermaid
The Ant and the Grasshopper
Little Bo-Peep
The Three Billy Goats Gruff
The Gingerbread Man
The Owl and the Pussy Cat
Androcles and the Lion
Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves
The Happy Prince
The Blind Man and the Elephant
The Story of Little Boy Blue
The Snow Queen
Father Frost
‘Twas the Night Before Christmas
Stories about Paul Bunyan
The Gift of the Magi
St. George and the Dragon

Additional Classic Fairy Tales

The Blue Fairy Book, The Orange Fairy Book, The Lilac Fairy Book, The Yellow Fairy Book (including Thumbelina) and more by Andrew Lang
The Cat and the Mouse: A Book of Persian Fairy Tales, James Neill
Irish Fairy Tales, James Stephens
The Irish Fairy Book, Alfred Perceval Graves
The Scottish Fairy Book, Elizabeth Grierson
The Norwegian Fairy Book (including Per Gynt and more), Clara Stroebe
More Russian Picture Tales, Valery Carrick
The Chinese Fairy Book, Richard Wilhelm
A Chinese Wonder Book, Norman Hinsdale, Pitman
Myths and Legends of China, E.T.C. Werner
Other Chinese folk tales
Japanese Fairy Tales, Yei Theodora Ozaki
Myths and Legends of Japan, F. Hadland Davis
Other Japanese folk tales
The Literature of the Ancient Egyptians, E.A. Wallis Budge
Egyptian Tales, W.M. Flinders Petrie
Other Egyptian folk tales
Indian Fairy Tales, Joseph Jacobs
Other Indian folk tales
African folk tales

Classic Children’s Books:

Peter Rabbit and other stories by Beatrix Potter
Where the Sidewalk Ends, Shel Silverstein
The Little Engine that Could, Watty Piper
The Cat in the Hat, Dr. Seuss
How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Dr. Seuss
The Lorax, Dr. Seuss
Green Eggs and Ham, Dr. Seuss
Oh, The Places You’ll Go, Dr. Seuss
The Velveteen Rabbit, Margery Willems
Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak
Goodnight, Moon, Margaret Wise Brown
The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle
The Giving Tree, Shel Silverstein
Winnie-the-Pooh, A. A. Milne
Harold and the Purple Crayon, Crockett Johnson
Pipi Longstocking, Astrid Lindgren
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Judith Viorst
Matilda, Roald Dahl
Madeline, Ludwig Bemelmans
James and the Giant Peach, Roald Dahl
Are You My Mother?, P.D. Eastman
Amelia Bedelia, Peggy Parish
Corduroy, Don Freeman
The Curious George series, H.A. Rey
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! and other books by Mo Willems
The Frog and Toad series, Arnold Lobel
Miss Nelson Is Back, Harry Allard
Everybody Needs a Rock, Byrd Baylor
Once There Were Giants, Martin Waddell and Penny Dale
The Father Bear series, Else Homelund Minarik and Maurice Sendak
The Encyclopedia Brown series, Donald J. Sobol
The Monster at the End of This Book, Jon Stone and Michael Smollin
The Magic School Bus series, Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen
Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday, Judith Viorst and Ray Cruz
The Marshmallow Incident, Judi Barrett and Ron Barrett
Georgie and the Robbers, Robert Bright
Each Peach Pear Plum, Janet and Allan Ahlberg
This Moose Belongs to Me, Oliver Jeffers
Guess How Much I Love You, Sam McBratney
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, Bill Martin, Jr. and Eric Carle
Love You Forever, Robert Munsch and Sheila McGraw
I Love You Through and Through, Bernadette Rossetti-Shustak and Caroline Jayne Church

Basic Film Studies: Classic Films for Older Kids and Adults (The ‘School in a Book’ Series)

I am not a film buff. Still, I don’t want my kids to miss out on the movies that even today, inform our shared cultural conversation. There’s a lot to learn here about love, hope and coming of age–and about writing an awesome screenplay, too.

Classic Films for Older Kids and Adults

A Face in the Crowd
Airplane!
An American In Paris
Annie
Annie Hall
Babes in Toyland
Babette’s Feast
Bandolero
Barcelona
Barton Fink
Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Bright Eyes
Brother Sun, Sister Moon
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Cabaret
Casablanca
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Crimes and Misdemeanors
Das Boot
Doctor Zhivago
East of Eden
Hannah and Her Sisters
Godspell
Frankenstein
Cries and Whispers
From Here to Eternity
How Green is My Valley
How the West Was Won
Igby Goes Down
Il Dulce Vita
It Happened One Night
It’s a Wonderful Life
Lolita
Love is a Many-Splendored Thing
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Mutiny on the Bounty
National Velvet
Night of the Living Dead
North by Northwest
Oklahoma!
Oliver!
On the Waterfront
Orchestra Rehearsal
Jesus Christ, Superstar
Les Miserables
Lil Abner
Radio Days
Planet of the Apes
Platoon
Pollyanna
Raise the Red Lantern
Rear Window
Rebel Without a Cause
Roman Holiday
Singing in the Rain
Sophie’s Choice
Splendor in the Grass
Strangers on a Train
Suspicion!
Taxi Driver
The 39 Steps
The Absent-Minded Professor
The African Queen
The Apple Dumpling Gang
The Bells of St. Mary’s
The Birds
The Exorcist
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
The Importance of Being Earnest
The Lady Vanishes
The Last Days of Disco
The Lives of Others
The Lord of the Flies
The Man Who Knew Too Much
The Man Who Shot Liberty Vallance
The Music Man
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
8 ½
The Thirty-Nine Steps
The Three Faces of Eve
The Train
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
The Unsinkable Molly Brown
Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines
To Catch a Thief
Vertigo
West Side Story
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
White Christmas
Wild Strawberries
You Can’t Take It With You
Zelig

American Beauty
American Psycho
American Splendour
Wild at Heart
A Scanner Darkly
Being John Malcovich
Chinatown
Clockwork Orange
Clue
Eat, Drink, Man, Woman
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Fight Club
Four Rooms
Gili
Pleasantville
The Truman Show
Naked Lunch
Moonstruck
Gummo
High Art
Jackie Brown
Kill Bill Volumes I & II
Little Women
M
Man on the Moon
March of the Penguins
Meet Joe Black
Memento
Metropolitan
Lost Highway
Parenthood
Parents
Pi
Primer
Psycho
Pulp Fiction
Requiem for a Dream
Reservoir Dogs
Summer of My German Soldier
Run Lola Run
Sabrina
Saturday Night Fever
Secretary
Swimming Pool
The Following
The Gladiator
The Princess and the Warrior
The Princess Bride
To Live
True Romance
Adaptation
Mulholland Drive
Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight

School in a Book: 42 No-Frills, No-Filler Knowledge Checklists with Essential Facts of Science, History, Literature, Life Skills and More

Twelve years of elementary and high school plus extracurricular studies leaves us with a lot of information. Too much information, sometimes. Since we can’t retain everything, our brains have to pick and choose. And sometimes they make pretty bad decisions. We might live with our in-depth understanding of the oboe forever, say, but can’t recall whether Alexander the Great lived before or after the Roman Empire. If we don’t want our most important knowledge areas to fade out, then, we do well to periodically review the basics.

That’s where School in a Book comes in.

For each subject listed below, I’ve written a knowledge checklist of sorts: a collection of essential terms and other information. It’s not a textbook; instead, it’s an overview, a handy guide to help you pinpoint your knowledge areas that need a bit of padding.

I’m having lot of fun–so much fun!–writing these for myself and my homeschooling children. If you find any mistakes or other opportunities for revision, please let me know.

Some subjects are available for free online, and the others will be in my full School in a Book compendium, coming soon to Amazon. Check back or subscribe on the right for availability updates.

School in a Book Sections:

History Overview (available for free online)

A Simple Timeline of Prehistory (available for free online)

A Brief History of North and Central America

A Brief History of South America

A Brief History of Europe

A Brief History of Africa

A Brief History of the Middle East

A Brief History of Russia

A Brief History of Asia

A Brief History of Australia and Oceania

Science Overview (available for free online)

Basic Chemistry (available for free online)

Basic Physics

Basic Astronomy

Basic Biology and Genetics (available for free online)

Basic Botany and Zoology (available for free online)

Basic Human Body and Medicine Science

Basic Computer Science

Basic Technology

Basic Geology and Ecology

Basic Meteorology

Basic Geography

Basic Grammar and Punctuation (available for free online)

Basic Writing

Basic Literary Analysis

Classic Literature: Older Kids and Adults (available for free online)

Classic Literature: Children’s (available for free online)

Basic Arithmetic and Measurement

Basic Algebra, Geometry and Statistics

Basic Philosophy

Basic Logic and Rhetoric

Basic Psychology

Basic Sociology

Basic Political Science

Basic American Government

Basic Religion and Spirituality

Basic Art Appreciation and Art History

Art and Craft Skills (available for free online)

Basic Music Appreciation and Music History

Important Musical Artists and Songs (available for free online)

Classic Films for Older Kids and Adults (available for free online)

Classic Children’s Films (available for free online)

Basic Physical Education

Basic Mandarin Chinese Vocabulary (available online only)

Basic Spanish Vocabulary (available online only)

Basic Life Management Skills (available for free online)

Learning Games and Other Essential Educational Activities (available for free online)

Homeschooling Process Overview (available online only)

Other Recommended Resources: Older Kids and Adults (available for free online)

Other Recommended Resources: Children’s (available for free online)

Self-Help Interview with Matt Kahn: “I Don’t Try to Love What I Don’t Love; Instead, I Witness My Feelings and Beliefs”

Recently Matt Kahn agreed to an interview. I know: how lucky am I? I got to ask him anything I wanted–anything at all. So of course I thought of the hardest questions possible. Enjoy.

Mollie: Matt Kahn! This is so exciting for me. I have been wanting to interview you ever since reading Whatever Arises, Love That: A Love Revolution That Begins with You, a book that relates a few of your many strange encounters with the Divine as well as encouragement and instruction for loving and appreciating everything that comes up in our lives. The follow-up, Everything Is Here to Help You: A Loving Guide to Your Soul’s Evolutionis even more detailed and practical. So, first, thank you.

A year and a half ago, during one of the most difficult experiences of my life, I attended one of your live events. My friend drove me there and parked on the street, and after getting out of the car I immediately threw up. Once inside the venue, I went to the bathroom and cleaned myself up, then sat on the floor near the door while my friend held our place in line. I wanted so badly to learn how to love this–my nausea–but there was nothing inside of me that felt any amount of love. I just had no strength left. I wanted to talk to you after the meeting to ask you what to do, but I didn’t. Instead, I overheard a woman behind me telling her friend that she asked you what to do about her depression. You told her to “Be the best depressed person you can possibly be.” I didn’t understand this then, but I never forgot it, and I think I’m starting to understand it now. Can you tell me what you meant by this statement?

Matt: Using that example, I was pointing someone towards embracing the circumstances of depression, instead of being in opposition to it. In order for us to make peace with depression and use it as an evolutionary catalyst, it cannot be wrong to be depressed. It certainly isn’t comfortable or convenient, but the moment it isn’t wrong to be exactly as we are, we create space for a deeper reality to shine through. In the same way, your nausea isn’t preferred, but it’s here to be welcomed, honored, and respected for the role it plays in your journey. We don’t have to love the experience of nausea, in order to recognize how the one who feels so helpless, tired, and disempowered is the one who needs our loving support the most. From this space, we are no longer lost in our opinions about things, so we may be the best supporters of however our experiences unfold. This is the heart of true acceptance.

Mollie: What do you tell people who simply cannot love what they’re experiencing right now?

Matt: I say that we only think we cannot love because we don’t feel love as an emotion. Instead of thinking of love as a feeling to conjure or capture, it begins as a willingness to support ourselves or others no matter the details in view. Love is a response of empathy; when we see how deeply other people or even ourselves tend to hurt along our healing journeys, the awakening of love is a response of greater support to those in need. The more often we support ourselves and others in moments that matter most, the more supported we feel by the Universe, which at that point, manifests the feelings of well-being that everyone yearns to feel. Love is a willingness to be the most helpful person to the parts of you that hurt the most. This is the first bold step in cultivating heart-centered consciousness.

Mollie: So really walk me through this. You’re sitting there really not loving what is arising. Maybe you have chronic pain or a broken heart. Then you consciously shift your thoughts to “I love this, I accept this, This is what is meant to be, This is good.” But you can’t hold that thought for long, so soon your mind wanders back to thoughts of hating your circumstance. What then? I find there are only so many times I can think the thought, “This is good” before I just get bored and a little annoyed at myself for repeating this stupid mantra, and more than a little annoyed that I am annoyed. What then? Do I try to just switch to a different subject in my mind?

Matt: The trick is not trying to love the circumstance or feeling, but embracing the one who feels exactly as they do. We love the one who judges and hates, even though we may not love the act of judging or hating. Even the one who hates to judge is only here to be loved. The confusion is when someone is trying to love their experiences, instead of embracing the one having experiences. This is the crucial distinction that transforms self-love from daunting and dogmatic into an authentic and uplifting heartfelt communion.

Mollie: Can you tell me about a time in your life when you weren’t able to love what was in front of you–at least not at first–but then successfully shifted that feeling? How did you do it?

Matt: I’ve never tried to love what was in front of me because that would be denying the realism and honesty of my subjective human experience. Instead, I witnessed my feelings, beliefs, desires, and conclusions as parts that were waiting in line to seen through the eyes of acceptance and honored for being a unique aspect of my soul. I always knew the invitation was to love what arises within myself, while honoring any external play of circumstance as the perfect sequence of events to remind me where to send love in myself next.

Mollie: Lately, when I am not loving what I’m experiencing, I’m often able to shift my attitude quite a bit by reminding myself that this feeling or circumstance is my greatest teacher, the absolute best way for me to learn what I need to learn on this earth. For example, when I notice sadness, I remind myself to feel the sadness, to welcome it, because it is with me for some reason that I might not understand quite yet. Is loving what arises more about loving what comes of the pain, rather than about loving the experience of the pain? Or is it preferable to try to shift the painful feeling as well?

Matt: Loving what arises is about steadfast companionship. To welcome the pain, curiosities, worries and concerns, along with each and every insight that is birthed in the aftermath of loss or change allows us to be the parent we may never have had, the partner we are waiting to encounter, or the reliable friend who is always here to remind us how deeply we matter. When we take the time to befriend our feelings, the Universe steps forward to serve the evolution of our highest potential.

Mollie: Is your life hard? Is life supposed to be hard? At least sometimes?

Matt: My life isn’t hard. It’s exciting, sometimes exhausting, but its simply a matter of the balance I keep throughout my life. Life is hard when we forget its a process. A process is a chain of events that only unfold in time. So if we are not at peace with time, we rarely have time for the processes that matter most, which is the evolution of our soul. As we begin living on life’s terms and conditions by allowing the process of spiritual growth to be embraced throughout our day, we find deeper perspectives opening up, where a life that once seemed so difficult is now exciting at every turn. The difference between the two is how open we allow our hearts to be.

Mollie: You have mentioned something called “karmic clearing,” noting that we all need to feel negative feelings at times in order to clear them from the world. Why is this? What is the theological explanation? I would love to believe this is true–that my suffering has practical value for the world–but I’m skeptical.

Matt: Any notion of individual healing could only be our individual experience of clearing outdated patterns of ancestry as our personal contribution towards healing the collective. Our experiences may seem individual in nature, but it is always our unique experience of healing the whole that reveals astonishingly global implications through our willingness to heal. Additionally, perhaps the skeptical one is only using skepticism to request more loving attention, appearing to need answers and information, when it’s just an innocent way to request the gift of your attention.

Mollie: Thank you, Matt. Sincerely.

"Being Good" is free today

In the year 2081, Francie lived in a small village called Gallitia. It was simple. It was peaceful. It was beautiful. But there was one problem.
Francie couldn’t leave.

Oh, and then there were the people that wanted to bring electricity and change everything. And the boy with the very red hair, who Francie suspected was somehow part of this change. The question, then, became: Will Francie change, too?

Being Good is probably my best work.

Get the Kindle ebook on Amazon for 99 cents or a free PDF on Project Gutenberg, Smashwords or NoiseTrade. You can also get the print version on Amazon.

An Ode to Change

Today, I decided to jot down a few of the main changes I’d like to see in myself, in my life, and in my family.

I don’t recommend doing the same.

Here’s my list:

  1. More jogs
  2. More long walks with the kids
  3. More quiet time
  4. More time reading with kids
  5. More home cooking
  6. More homeschooling
  7. More progress on house projects
  8. More longhand writing
  9. More family dinners with friends
  10. More volleyball
  11. More time with my husband
  12. More family chore times
  13. More meditation and other spiritual practices
  14. More sports with kids
  15. More naps

"Unicorn" is free today

After a difficult first year of parenthood, overwhelmed suburban couple Sam and Alex decide they want more kids, more help, more love and more friendship. Their solution: a second wife, sometimes known as a unicorn.

Soon, their quest is underway. They share laughs, adventures and sex club antics until finally they meet Cassidy, a good match.

Or is she?

Unicorn is one of my first complete works of fiction. It is novella size–a fun read.

Get the Kindle ebook on Amazon for 99 cents or a free PDF on Project Gutenberg, Smashwords or NoiseTrade. You can also get the print version on Amazon..

Law of Attraction Success Story: “I Overcame My Eating Disorder”

top mysticism books 16

Contributor: Anonymous

Several years ago, I decided to keep an eating journal, partly as an attempt to lose weight I didn’t need to lose. I recorded the times I binged and the days I starved, and one day, I had a moment of truth.

Holy crap, I realized. I have an eating disorder.

It was the first time I knew for sure that it was true.

Not long after that, I joined a recovery group for food addicts in an honest, committed way and started on the path to recovery. Then, a few years later, something happened that I can only describe as a miracle: The day before my birthday, right in the midst of yet another evening binge, I decided to do something very special for myself: I decided to give up overeating—and not just overeating, but dieting, fasting, counting calories, counting carbs—even using artificial sweeteners.

I decided to finally be sane.

As it turned out, it was the best birthday gift I’d ever received. Since that day, I have not binged or overeaten to the point of discomfort even once—and as a result, today I am thinner than I was before.  Every pair of pants that I own fits me every day, but better than that: I like the way I look—I really, really like it. I like my soft curves. I like my flat stomach (which is flatter now that there is less food in it). I love even my flaws.

It’s weird how these things happen, isn’t it? One day you think you’re fine, and the next you realize you have a problem. And then, because you finally admitted it, you allow your moment of grace to occur–the miracle that finally heals you.

And you know what’s so cool about recovery? It’s actually pretty fun. And even when it’s not that much fun, it’s still so much fun, because as long as I’m on the path, I have hope.

And so, to those of you out there who still suffer—and “suffer,” I know, is no exaggeration—here is my advice for you: pray. Meditate. Seek the help of your God. Do whatever you have to do to get in touch with the Source—even if at first, all you can do is ask to lose weight.

After that, follow your intuition. If you feel that reading inspiring books may help, read some inspiring books. If you feel that starting a program will help, start a program, by all means. If your heart is telling you to see a physician or counselor, please do so right away.

Take the steps you need to take—and as you do so, know that as long as you’re engaged with the process, moving down the path, there is hope for you, too.

Meditation 101: Practices, Postures, and Pretty Much Everything In Between

Guest Contributor: Jamal Bara at FitnessGoat.com.

“I am incapable of meditating,” admitted a friend of mine just the other day. “It ends up being just me silently agonizing over my to-do list.”

I totally get it; meditation is difficult. It’s definitely not a practice you’ll excel at right away. Just like you can’t pick up a golf club for the first time and expect to make it to the Masters Tournament next year and get that green jacket.

Okay, maybe that’s exaggerating, but you get the picture. The art of meditation can take years to learn, and you may never achieve perfect bliss, but it’s all about the practice.

And just like golf may not be your sport, certain styles of meditation may not be your cup of tea either. It takes some experimenting to find what works for you.

What is Meditation?

Meditation is a deliberate practice and one that requires your most quiet, mindful state. The word is tossed around a lot, but you may not exactly know meditation’s actual meaning or function. If asked, I would initial picture Yoda summoning the Force. Perhaps this is a form of meditation, but we’ll leave that for the galaxy.

Though mediation varies and splinters off into different styles of practices, it begins with one specific application—calming your mind. It also (hopefully) ends with a similar goal—restoring balance. The in-between is where you can customize your practice.

As with most new endeavors, it’s helpful to be educated on the subject before you jump in. That’s why we’re here! In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn about the types of meditation, the benefits of meditation, meditation postures, and even some apps that will help you get in the zone. Then we’ll answer some common questions about meditation and silence any skeptics out there.

So what are some meditation techniques and tips to help you begin this transcendental journey? Stay tuned!

Types of Meditation

Vipassana meditation (observation of reality)

Vipassana is one of the most ancient forms of meditation. It originated in the Theravada vehicle of Buddhism (the school of thought used by southeastern Asian countries) and is said to use certain concepts from the Buddha himself—the refinement of mindfulness and searching within.

Broadly speaking, there are two types of meditation—concentration and insight. Concentration style meditation have you clear your mind or focus on only one thing. Vipassana is virtually the opposite, inviting you to unearth things about yourself.

Unlike these practices which discourage the movement of the mind, Vipassana meditation allows its students to explore and gaze at their thoughts from afar. You would then train your mind to reflect on your life experiences and view them objectively. Peeling them away layer by layer, you would ultimately be able to walk logically through your thought processes.

How to begin:

The simplest way to begin Vipassana meditation is to observe your breathing. Imagine your thoughts coming and going with the breath. Do not allow the thoughts to linger or be developed further beyond that one breath. This practice helps to relieve anxiety because anxiety is sometimes a result of thoughts being fleshed out to an irrational point.

Downsides:

This practice takes a lot of control. The mind’s natural tendency is to wander and see thoughts to fruition, but Vipassana asks you to allow thoughts to come and go like waves. Detached observation is often difficult for beginners.

Float tank (sensory deprivation)

Floating is a form of sensory deprivation. Its popularity is definitely arising because it can accommodate many abilities. Floating is done in a small tank filled with roughly 10-12 inches of water. The water contains around 800 pounds of Epsom salt, making it more buoyant than the Dead Sea.

In a float center, eliminating stimulus is the primary endeavor. The water is the same temperature as your body, so you don’t experience being too hot or cold. The room is completely dark, and the sound is nonexistent. Floats are usually done in 60-90 minute increments.

Remember the friend I told you about who said she was incapable of meditating? For her birthday, I surprised her with a 90-minute float. Honestly, I thought she would balk. Thankfully, I was wrong! She described the experience like floating in space, not being able to differentiate between water and air.

The benefits are medicinal in many ways. The calm sensory environment aids concentration, but the zero-gravity effect can help with back pain and stimulate sleep that’s equal to 4 hours of REM cycle sleep.

How to begin:

Obviously, you’ll need to find a facility that specializes in floating. The first visit is the most difficult because your body will take to allow the salts and sensory deprivation to relax your mind. Once you fall into a dreamlike state, though, then you’ll be able to implement your own specific practice.

Downsides:

Floating is expensive. Cost is usually not an object of meditation, so this alone could prevent you from experiencing floatation. Even if you could afford a float or two, meditation is recommended to be practiced often, so consistency would be difficult. Another downside (for Stranger Things fans only): unless you are Eleven, you’re not promised a visit to the Upsidedown dimension.

Guided meditation (instruction & response)

Guided meditation is probably the best practice if you’re a beginner. Most times you’ll have a narrator lead you through a practice. Whether the practice is about breathing or self-esteem, the scripts are designed to give your mind specific tasks that will reign in excessive thought.

When our brains create thought, we are also creating neural pathways. The more reinforcement we give to those pathways, the more likely we are to live into those thoughts. Our brains are programmed to absorb information and react to certain environments based on previous experience. How amazing that we hold the key to reformatting our minds to think more positively.

How to begin:

Getting started with guided meditation is simple. First, it’s important to choose an objective for your meditations. Since there is a vocally programmed aspect, you’ll want to feel that your script is beneficial. Are you wanting to quell anxiety or increase positivity?

Stay tuned for the segment later in the blog where we cover meditation apps that might assist you with guided meditations!

Downsides:

Guided meditation requires some outside resources like a program or application on your phone. Other options may include group meditation, but you might feel that this will prevent you from complete relaxation.

Check out this guided meditation to help with over-thinking.

Chakra meditation (personal inventory)

Chakra is an Indian form of thought which breaks down the body into a column of energy centers, each signifying a different color and trait. The 7 chakras correspond to our physical, emotional, and spiritual processes and, according to ancient Hindu healers, can become blocked.

Meditation and yoga are two of the most common ways to realign and unblock your chakras. Before I introduce you to a Chakra balancing meditation, let’s learn about each energy segment, starting from the bottom.

Red — The Root

The lowest chakra is at the base of the spine or the pelvic floor and is associated with concepts which ground you—basic instincts like shelter, self-preservation, and safety. Blockages in this chakra result in colon issues, lower back pain, and fear/anxiety

Orange — The Sacral

The next chakra is located between your navel and pelvic bone and is associated with your sexual nature—passion, joy, and complete wellness. Blockages in the sacral chakra include aversion to change, sexual dysfunction, or addiction.

Yellow —The Solar Plexus

The yellow chakra is located in your belly just below the ribcage and connects you to self-control and power. Blockages in the solar plexus result in moods of self-deprecation, poor time management, and digestive issues.

Green — The Heart

As it indicates, this chakra is located in your chest and is centered in love. The chakra, at its best, promotes goodwill and absolution. Blockages in the heart promote anger management issues, inability to cope with grief, and grudges.

Blue — The Throat

This blue chakra symbolizes communication and your ability to express yourself clearly without inhibition or fear of your own honesty. Blockages could result in trouble speaking your truth, shoulder/neck tension, and attention issues.

Indigo — The Third Eye

Located between your eyes, this chakra represents your brain and your vision. The purple energy dictates your ability to perceive and fine tunes your intuition. Blockages create poor judgment, erratic decision-making, and headaches.

Violet — The Crown

The crown chakra, like its location, is the highest energy and is related to spiritual connection. In its purest form, the violet chakra is fully conscious and aware of the universe. Disconnected, the crown chakra could make you feel isolated. Meditation is said to be most helpful for this energy source. During these times of mindfulness, your 7 chakras are at total, clear alignment.

How to begin:

The best way to begin Chakra-style mediation is to be familiar with the 7 chakras. Study the energies. What color holds your insufficiencies? What colors are your strengths? Once you underwent the colors and their connection to your mind and body, listen to a guided Chakra meditation for help navigating the blockages (see below).

Downsides:

As information-rich and enlightening as Chakras are, they are also abstract. Studying Chakras may be something you want to tackle down the road in your meditation journey. No sense in overloading your mind when you’re trying to silence it!

Forest bathing (gentle wandering)

What do you think of when you hear forest bathing? When I first heard it, I thought, You mean just being in the woods? Well, I go trail running, so this is nothing new to me. Who’s profiting from this glorified hiking class?

Then I took some time to research. Developed in the 1980’s, this Japanese form of healing helps converge nature and mindfulness in its students. It incorporates a slow walk through quiet woods, breathing exercises, and observation. You’re invited to use all your senses to connect with nature—seeing the green, hearing the birds, feeling the textures around you. (Another common misconception debunked: it’s not a bath, so you don’t need swim trunks).

Think about the objective of a hike or a trail run. The goals are finishing or having a defined destination. These add an element of rushed urgency to something that we assume is peaceful—not to mention, high elevation hikes or runs take a lot of conditioning. I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel very peaceful when I’m out of breath.

How to begin:

Forest bathing can be as simple or as complex as you’d like. There are some programs and retreats you can attend which educate and guide you through the process. Another option is just to walk trails on your own and connect with your senses.

Downsides:

Some city dwellers may not have easy access to a forest. That’s okay. Find any green space or park. It may not offer the quietness you need, but the main thing is surrounding yourself with green.

Benefits of Meditation

Lowers anxiety

Mindfulness is scientifically proven to lower anxiety. By teaching the mind to detach from worry, you automatically lower stress and reduce the physical toll that anxiety takes (i.e. insomnia, muscle aches, easy startle reflex).

Meditation teaches chronic worriers to quiet an active mind. Training yourself to halt the broken record of your mind’s worst case scenarios is not easy. It’s definitely not relaxing at first. But keep trying. The results outweigh the effort.

Increases awareness

One of the main components of meditation is the self-awareness. Practices may be different, but a common thread is the attention it brings. Whether you’re tracking your breathing, guiding your thoughts, or listening to birds in the forest, you’re making an effort at awareness.

Meditation, in all its forms, calls for slow movement—unhurried, gentle thoughts as well as heedful physical movements. This world revolves around quickness and convenience these days, so it’s no wonder that the simple act of slowing down can improve your grasp on the nuances of life.

Mindfulness creates control

Our minds are hardwired to absorb tons of sensory information and interpret it. Not many moments go by when your mind isn’t working, worrying, planning, or wandering—except for when you’re meditating, that is. You already know that control is difficult. Raise your hand if you’ve ever tried dieting. I see you.

The willpower involving food choices is tough, but at least these actions and reactions are slower (i.e. grocery shopping, ordering at a restaurant) Thoughts appear and vanish instantly, so controlling this traffic successfully creates a master of control.

Being present in our bodies helps us appreciate its function

Meditation asks you to dive deep. Listening to your breathing and the rhythm of your heart can only be a rote part of the process for so long. But when you really begin to investigate your vessel through mediation, you may find yourself grateful and amazed.

Gratitude can be a wonderful focal point during concentration meditations. The Chakra mediation we covered earlier is the perfect application for this type of appreciation. The presence of mind you’ll have while exploring your Chakras will help you learn a lot about your physical and spiritual qualities.

Meditation Postures

Sitting

Quarter Lotus (Burmese)

The quarter lotus is a fancier name for sitting with your legs crossed (or as my preschool teacher would say—criss cross applesauce). For added comfort, I would recommend sitting on a folded towel to elevate your hips. This will relieve pressure on your knees and ankles.

Full Lotus

Full lotus position is probably the 2nd most common association with meditation behind chanting ooommmmmm. It’s the pose we all envision. Instead of crossing feet under the knee, you pull your feet up to rest on your thigh.

Since the full lotus is intermediate to advanced, I only recommend you try this one if you already have pretty loose hips or your only plan on short meditations. If you have knee injuries, definitely avoid this pose.

Seated in Chair

This may not be the most picturesque pose, but it works for some people. If you think sitting down with your legs crossed will cause pain or discomfort, definitely choose the chair method. The point of mediation is to not fixate on distractions, so if your legs fall asleep due to poor circulation, that won’t exactly propel you toward deep relaxation.

For chair pose, sit up and don’t let your back rest against the chair. Your chest should be lifted and your feet planted firmly on the floor.

Lying down

There’s some controversy around horizontal mediation positions because it could tempt you to fall asleep. Although sleep is positive (definitely means you’re chill), it’s not exactly the goal of meditation. If you have the self-control to remain conscious, try these yoga-inspired poses.

Corpse Pose (Savasana)

This is my favorite yoga pose. Of course, you’re probably saying, because it’s lying on your back doing nothing. Well, you’re partly right, but in my defense, it’s not as easy as it looks. Sure, you can be stretched out on your back, but what is your mind doing? You’re either asleep or worrying if the chicken will be thawed by dinner time.

Corpse pose could be the most difficult to master. It’s not about the position as much as your consciousness while in savasana. You’re lying horizontal, palms facing up. You’re breathing with intention, eyes closed.

Supta Baddha Konasana (Bolstered Hip Opener)

This one’s a mouthful, but here’s what’s up. Also a horizontal position, this pose is often done in restorative yoga practices. You’ll be on your back with your legs in a butterfly position (soles of your feet together, heels pulled toward your groin) with a bolster pillow under your shoulders. I’ve taken part in a restorative yoga session before, and I really liked this pose.

This position opens your hips and aligns your spine. Pop quiz: which Chakra would you be using in this meditative position? (Hint: orange)

Mindful Movement

Is movement a position? Not necessarily, but because meditation has evolved, so must posture. Think about forest bathing. Though it’s perfectly okay to sit and bask in nature, the specific forest bathing technique requires slow wandering. I think this is just another way you can be present in your body and be aware of subtleties of movement.

Meditation Apps

Using apps on your phone may seem like it’s defeating the purpose of detaching and focusing, but I’m liking this option. I need the incentive to stay on task and build a habit. Whether that’s a monthly payment or simply seeing the app button on my home screen, I think we could all use a boost.

For sake of brevity (there are hundreds of apps out there), I’m gonna categorize them based on some specific factors. Here you go:

10% happier (for the skeptics)

This app was created to combat the skeptics who think meditation is sitting cross-legged on a mountain ledge at dawn chanting in Sanskrit. Phew! Good thing I’m here to change your mind! You could be missing out on some real ambient chill.

10% Happier addresses the science behind the ooommmm. There’s a lot of commentary, explanation, and basic practices to get you started.

Price: Free with limited features, $11.99 per month

Buddhify (for the indecisive)

To me, this program is the most aesthetically pleasing and is seemingly user friendly. The app opens with a color wheel inviting you to select your mood. Instead of stressing yourself out scrolling through options, just let your mood select the style. There are also a ton of guided meditations if you need some help navigating your thoughts.

Price: $2.99–$4.99

Smiling mind (for the budget conscious)

This app is free! Are you sold yet? If not, check out these specs: the app chooses meditations based on your personality/career and tracks your progress. It was developed by psychologists and other healthcare professionals, so it’s free and trustworthy. Can’t beat that.

Price: Freeeeeeee

Headspace (for the best of everything)

This is the most compressive app of all. Forbes named this app one of its top choices, and for good reason. Tons of categorized meditations are available for your ever-shifting days and moods. There’s even an SOS feature for, particularly rough days. You can even have accountability check-ins with other app users!

Price: Free with limited features; $12.99 per month

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Are meditation and prayer the same thing?

A: This is a tricky question. A lot of people get confused or hesitant about starting any meditation practices because it seems associated with religion. Although its roots are in Asian culture and religion, no one is forcing you to submit or pray to a higher Being if you don’t choose to.

What meditation can offer is a vehicle or shell for your prayer. The seated posture, the inward-looking, and the quiet focus all lend themselves to great prayer environments no matter your faith. Faith-based guided meditations are a great way to incorporate both relaxation and religious practices into one sitting.

The largest difference I notice between prayer and meditation is where control is delegated. In non-prayer meditation, you are usually coached into being your mind’s own master—you and you alone are governing your sensory perceptions. Oftentimes in prayer, there is a submissive nature which relinquishes power to a higher Being.

Q: When is the best time of day to meditate?

A: Depending on the goal of your meditation, any time of day could work. If you need to channel energy and positivity, morning is a great choice. If you’re attempting to diffuse anxiety or a tough situation during the day, maybe a few minutes on your lunch hour. If relaxation is what you’re after, try meditating before bedtime as a sort of sleep prep.

Q: How long should I meditate?

A: Don’t set yourself up for failure. Don’t jump in and attempt to quiet your mind for a whole hour. That’ll probably be the last time you meditate. Try 10 minutes at first to see how your body and mind react. Once you’ve mastered this timeframe, you can move up slowly.

I consider an average meditation to be around 30 minutes. With life as busy as it is, it’s hard to fit any more time in—especially since you’ll need to incorporate exercise and vigorous activity in at some point as well. Damn you, self-care!

Longer meditations of an hour or more are usually for the pros or for mediation-specific retreats.

Q: Should I close my eyes?

A: This is an excellent question and one that boils down to preference and how you react to stimuli. Though closing your eyes is most common and seems to promote focus, it can easily allow the mind to wander or drift off (to a rabbit hole of thought or to sleep!)

If you chose to practice with your eyes closed, you must find something to focus on—a consistent sound, your breathing, or the wind against your cheek.

With open eyes, it seems obvious that you might get distracted. Squirrel! But it might be simpler than you imagine. The key is to fixate on a focal point. Don’t place yourself in a visually busy spot. Find a consistent landscape, like a forest edge or a sunset. If you’re inside, focus on the collection of four-leaf clovers in a jar. Bottom line: understand how your mind works and what would allow you to focus.

I hope this guide has given you some insight into this therapeutic practice. For the skeptics, I hope you’re convinced that meditation is more than Yoda and lots of ooommmm. For seasoned meditators, I hope this has given you more tools and more angles to mix up your practice.

For the slackers like me, I hope this has reignited your energy toward bettering your mind. I don’t know about you, but after this post, I’m going to tend to my blue Chakra and stare at some trees.

Happy meditating!

For more articles like this, see FitnessGoat.com.

Jamal Bara

Sources

1- What exactly is Vipassana Meditation?

2- Your 7 Chakras, Explained

3- Shinrin Yoku Forest Bathing

4- What is Self Awareness?

5- Gratitude Meditation

6- Deepen Your Meditation: Eyes Closed vs Eyes Open

For more helpful information on meditation, as well as gift ideas for your fellow yogis, visit relaxlikeaboss.com/best-meditation-gifts.