“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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.)
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
Basic car maintenance, including changing the oil, checking tire pressure, checking fluid levels and more
Basic first aid
Public transportation use
Writing formal letters and emails
Emergency procedure memorization
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
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
Addiction avoidance and effects of drugs
Keeping to-do lists and goal-setting lists, with steps to achieve those goals
Active listening without interrupting
Good eye contact
Saying “no”, “no, thanks,” and “really, no”
Talking to strangers
Relaxing without screens
Casual conversation/small talk
Crafting a convincing argument
Labeling and discussing emotions
Separating fact from emotion
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.”)
Spending time alone
Engaging in hobbies
Cognitive therapy (noticing one’s automatic thoughts and beliefs and, if negative, intentionally disputing them)
Healthy exercise habits
Healthy eating habits
Observing the mind
Personal Qualities To Develop
Hope, optimism and positivity
Purposeful cultivation of joy
Non-attachment to the opinions of others
Purposeful cultivation of one’s highest self
Respect for differences
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
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.
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
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
Recycled Material Art
Applied Art Skills Checklist
Light Art/ Lighting Design
Gardening/ Landscape Architecture
Graphic Narratives/ Comics
Textile Arts: Crocheting, Knitting, Macrame, Weaving and More
Graphic Design/ Electronic Art (video games, digital printing, etc.)
Jewelry (with beads, other materials)
Bean-filled heat packs (heat in microwave)
Miniature dolls and animals
Doll house with furniture
Stuffed animals (sewn, with button eyes)
Christmas decorations (ornaments, bead chains, other chains)
Masks using paper plates and popsicle sticks
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
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
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
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.
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)
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
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
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
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
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 femaleAsexual 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.
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
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
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
Important: Importante Interesting: Interesante Perfect: Perfecto Excellent: Excellente
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
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
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
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
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?
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
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
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
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
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
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
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—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
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)
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
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.
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.)
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
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
An American In Paris
Babes in Toyland
Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Brother Sun, Sister Moon
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Crimes and Misdemeanors
East of Eden
Hannah and Her Sisters
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
Love is a Many-Splendored Thing
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Mutiny on the Bounty
Night of the Living Dead
North by Northwest
On the Waterfront
Jesus Christ, Superstar
Planet of the Apes
Raise the Red Lantern
Rebel Without a Cause
Singing in the Rain
Splendor in the Grass
Strangers on a Train
The 39 Steps
The Absent-Minded Professor
The African Queen
The Apple Dumpling Gang
The Bells of St. Mary’s
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
The Thirty-Nine Steps
The Three Faces of Eve
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
The Unsinkable Molly Brown
Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines
To Catch a Thief
West Side Story
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
You Can’t Take It With You
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
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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!
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.