I can’t count the number of times I’ve tried to recall the approximate date for the beginning of the universe, or the invention of fire, or the first known appearance of Homo sapiens on the spot but could not. Knowing a few key dates is hugely important to your understanding of the world. It provides a framework that you can build on as needed.
FYI, prehistory is history that took place prior to the invention of writing. After that, everything is part of recorded history. Also note that all dates listed here are approximate and many of them merely indicate the earliest known evidence of the events they describe. Finally, recall that the Stone Age is comprised of the Paleolithic (big-game hunting) Era, the Mesolithic (transitional hunter-gatherer) Era, and the Neolithic (farming) Era, though the dates of these eras vary by location since they’re based on the acquisition of related technologies. The Stone Age is followed by the Bronze Age and the Iron Age, though these terms are only useful regarding the ancient Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Egyptian peoples. Among other advantages, bronze technology allowed for better weaponry, and lighter, cheaper iron technology allowed for more widespread use of weaponry.
Basic Prehistory Timeline
The Beginning of Time
14 billion B.C.: The Big Bang occurred. Matter exploded, cooled, and expanded.
4.5 billion B.C.: Earth formed.
4.4 billion B.C.: The oceans formed.
4 billion B.C.: The first microorganisms evolved.
3.8 to 3.5 billion B.C.: The last universal common ancestor (LUCA)–the most recent living organism that survived to evolve into all current life on the planet–existed.
8 to 6 million B.C.: The first great apes (hominids) evolved.
The Stone Age: The Paleolithic Era
2.5 million B.C.: Homo habilis, the first human species, evolved in East Africa from an unknown, extinct great ape. Habilis was the first to use stone tools and had a larger brain than his ancestors.
1.8 to 1.5 million B.C.:Homo erectus evolved, then migrated out of Africa to Asia.
1.6 to 1 million B.C.:Homo erectus started using fire for cooking. Half a million years later, these early humans began hunting with spears, building shelters and creating more complex tribal communities.
230,000 B.C.: The Neanderthals evolved and migrated across Asia and Europe..
200,000 B.C.:Homo sapiens evolved in Africa and migrated across Asia and Europe.
150,000 B.C.: Humans developed the ability to speak.
50,000 to 12,000 B.C.: Human culture developed rapidly. Humans began performing ritual burials and making clothing, artworks, jewelry, advanced tools, boats, ovens, pottery, harpoons, saws, woven baskets, woven nets and woven baby carriers. Also during this time, the Neanderthals mated with Homo sapiens, then went extinct. They were replaced by the Cro-Magnons, who also mated with Homo sapiens. From them the modern Homo sapiens inherited larger brains.
40,000 B.C.: Early modern humans appeared. They settled Australia, then North America.
The Stone Age: The Mesolithic and Neolithic Eras
13,000 B.C.: People in Mesopotamia (the Fertile Crescent) started raising animals.
10,000 B.C.: People in Mesopotamia started cultivating crops and forming small towns. They created religious sites, grew grain (particularly barley and wheat) and other crops, smelted copper, developed a simple writing system built irrigation channels and invented the wheel (only used for pottery, though, at this time).
10,000 B.C.: Caucasians settled Europe.
5,000 B.C.: The Sumerians built a collection of individual city-states in Mesopotamia on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, creating the world’s first true civilization. It had ziggurats (pyramid-like centers of worship), scribes and accountants.
3200–2600 B.C.: Writing was developed in Sumer (cuneiform) and Egypt (hieroglyphs), triggering the beginning of recorded history.
Note that when it comes to literature, reading great books is only the first step. Literary analysis comes later, and is also vital, so be sure to read that School in a Book section, too.
Works I particularly recommend reading in their entirety have an asterisk after them.
Introductory Classic Fiction
The Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan (1628-1688)* Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe (1660-1731)* The Swiss Family Robinson, Johann David Wyss (1743–1818)* Ivanhoe, Sir Walter Scott (1771–1832) The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Washington Irving (1783-1859)* Rip van Winkle, Washington Irving (1783-1859)* Frankenstein, Mary Shelley (1797–1851)* The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexander Dumas (1802–1870) The Three Musketeers, Alexander Dumas (1802–1870) The complete poetry of Edgar Allen Poe (1809-1849)* A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens (1812–1870)* Around the World in Eighty Days, Jules Verne (1828–1905)* A Journey to the Center of the Earth, Jules Verne (1828–1905)* From the Earth to the Moon, Jules Verne (1828–1905)* 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Jules Verne (1828–1905)*
Other novels by Jules Verne (1828–1905) Little Women, Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888)* Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll (1832–1898)* Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll (1832–1898)* The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain (1835–1910)* Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain (1835-1910)* The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson, Mark Twain (1835-1910) Dracula, Bram Stoker (1847–1912)* The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett (1849-1924)* A Little Princess, Frances Hodgson Burnett (1849-1924) Little Lord Fauntleroy, Frances Hodgson Burnett (1849-1924) The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–1894)* Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–1894)* Kidnapped, Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–1894) The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, Howard Pyle (1853–1911)* The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame (1859-1932) Peter Pan, James Barrie (1860-1937) The Gift of the Magi, O. Henry (1862–1910) Anne of Green Gables, Lucy Maud Montgomery (1865-1947) Chronicles of Avonlea, Lucy Maud Montgomery (1865-1947) Captains Courageous, Rudyard Kipling (1865- 1936) The Scarlet Pimpernell, Emma Orczy (1865–1947) The Time Machine, H.G. Wells (1866–1946)* The War of the Worlds, H.G. Wells (1866–1946)*
The Little House on the Prairie series, Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867-1957) Selected poems by Robert Frost (1874-1963)* You Know Me Al, Ring Lardner (1885–1933) Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) The Yearling, Marjorie Rawlings (1896–1953)*
The Chronicles of Narnia series, C.S. Lewis (1898-1963)* Out of the Silent Planet and the rest of the Space Trilogy, C.S. Lewis (1898-1963)* The Once and Future King, T. H. White (1899-1985)* The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery (1900–1944) Summer of the Monkeys, Wilson Rawls (1913–1984)* Where the Red Fern Grows, Wilson Rawls (1913–1984)* You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You, John Ciardi (1916-1986) Ramona Quimby, Age 8, Beverly Cleary (1916–)
Other books by Beverly Cleary (1916–)* A Wrinkle In Time, Madeleine L’Engle (1918–2007)*
Other books by Madeleine L’Engle (1918–2007) The Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger (1919–2010)* Franny and Zooey, J. D. Salinger (1919–2010) Nine Stories, J. D. Salinger (1919–2010)
Books by Isaac Asimov (1920–1992) Black Beauty, Anna Sewell (1920–2002)* Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury (1920–2012)* To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee (1926–)* Flowers for Algernon, Daniel Keyes (1927–2014)* The Princess Bride, William Goldman (1931–)* Rabbit, Run, John Updike (1932–2009)* Rabbit Revisited, John Updike (1932–2009)* The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath (1932–1963)* I Never Promised You A Rose Garden, Hannah Green (1932–)* Jacob Have I Loved, Katherine Patterson (1932–) Bridge to Terabithia, Katherine Patterson (1932–)* A Lesson Before Dying, Ernest J. Gaines (1933–)* Summer of My German Soldier, Bette Greene (1934–) One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey (1935–2001)* Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, Judy Blume (1938–)
Other books by Judy Blume The Color Purple, Alice Walker (1944–)* Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller (1944–)* The Outsiders, S.E. Hinton (1948–)* Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card (1951–)* The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams (1952–2001)* The White Stallion, Elizabeth Shub* The Way of a Pilgrim, Anonymous The Pilgrim Continues His Way, Anonymous Stuart Little, E.B. White The Trumpet of the Swans, E.B. White The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle, Hugh Lofting The Walking Drum, Louis L’Amour
The Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling Harriet the Spy, Louise Fitzhugh The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White Peter and Wendy, James Barrie Pollyanna, Elanor Hodgman Ben Hur, Lew Wallace The Song of Hiawatha, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Pinocchio, Carlo Collodi Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie Heidi, Johanna Spyri Lassie, Eric Knight Paul Revere’s Ride, Henry Longfellow
The Man in the Iron Mask
The A Wrinkle in Time series, Madeline L’Engle
Classic Fiction for Readers of High School Age and Beyond
The Illiad, Homer The Odyssey, Homer
Roman mythology The Orestia Trilogy, Aeschylus (c. 525/524–c. 456/455 BC) The Oedipus Plays, Sophocles (c. 497–405 BC) Medea, Euripedes (c. 480–406 BC) The Bacchae, Euripedes (c. 480–406 BC) The Trojan Women, Euripedes (c. 480–406 BC) Hippolytus, Euripedes (c. 480–406 BC)
Selected works of Thucydides (c. 460–400 BC) Lysistrata, Aristophanes (c. 446–386 BC) The Frogs, Aristophanes (c. 446–386 BC) The Clouds, Aristophanes (c. 446–386 BC) Odes, Horace (65–8 BC) The Aeneid, Virgil (70–19 BC) The Metamorphosis, Ovid (43 BC–AD 17/18) The Golden Sayings of Epictetus, Epictetus (c. 55–135) Prometheus Bound and selected works of Aeschylus (c. 525/524– c. 456/455 BC) Beowulf, Anonymous (c. 975-1025) Cur Deus Homo, Anselm (c. 1033–1109) The Letters of Abelard and Heloise (c. 1090–1164)* The Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri (c. 1265–1321) The Decameron, Giovanni Boccaccio (1313–1375)* The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer (c. 1343–1400)* Mabinogion, Anonymous (c. 1350-1410) Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Anonymous (c. 1300s) La Morte Darthur, Sir Thomas Malory (c. 1415–1471) The Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli (1469–1527)* Mandragola, Niccolo Macchiavelli (1469–1527) Orlando Furioso, Ludovico Ariosto (1474–1533) Utopia and other selected works by Sir Thomas More (1478–1535)*
Selected works by Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503–1542) Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes (1547–1616)* The Faerie Queene, Edmund Spenser (c. 1552–1599) Selected works by William Shakespeare (1564–1616) Doctor Faustus, Christopher Marlowe (1564–1593)* Faust, Christopher Marlowe (1564–1593)*
Poetry of John Donne (1572–1631)* Volpone, Ben Jonson (1572–1637)* The Alchemist, Ben Johnson (1572–1637)* Paradise Lost, John Milton (1608–1674)* Paradise Regained, John Milton (1608–1674)* The Bourgeois Gentleman, Moliere (1622–1673)* The Misanthrope, Moliere (1622–1673)* Tartuffe, Moliere (1622–1673)* Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe (c. 1660–1731)* Gulliver’s Travels, Johnathan Swift (1667–1745)*
Selected poetry of John Hopkins (born 1675)* Candide, Voltaire (1694–1778)* The Vicar of Wakefield, Oliver Goldsmith (1728–1774) The Sufferings of Young Werther, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832)*
The poetry of William Blake (1757–1827)*
The poetry of William Wordsworth (1770–1850)*
The poetry of Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834)* Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen (1775–1817)* Emma, Jane Austen (1775–1817) Mansfield Park, Jane Austen (1775–1817) Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen (1775–1817)
Other works by Jane Austen (1775–1817) Don Juan, Lord Byron (1788–1824)* The Last of the Mohicans, James Fennimore Cooper (1789–1851)
The poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822)* Sartor Resarus, Thomas Carlyle (1795–1881) Pere Goriot, Honore de Balzac (1799–1850) Les Miserables, Victor Hugo (1802–1885)* The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Victor Hugo (1802–1885) The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804–1864)* The House of Seven Gables, Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804–1864)*
The poetry of Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806–1861)*
The poetry of Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892)* Dead Souls, Nikolai Gogol (1809–1852) The Professor at the Breakfast Table, Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809–1894)* Great Expectations, Charles Dickens (1812–1870)* Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens (1812–1870) A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens (1812–1870)*
Other works by Charles Dickens (1812–1870)
The poetry of Robert Browning (1812–1889)* Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte (1816–1855)* Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte (1818–1848)* Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman (1819–1892)* Moby Dick, Herman Melville (1819–1891)* The Mill on the Floss, George Eliot (1819–1880) Adam Bede, George Eliot (1819–1880) Middlemarch, George Eliot (1819–1880) Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert (1821–1880) Sentimental Education, Gustave Flaubert (1821–1880) Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821–1881)* The Brothers Karamozov, Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821–1881)* Notes from the Underground, Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821–1881)* The Idiot, Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821–1881)* The Man Without a Country, Edward Everett Hale (1822–1909) War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy (1828–1910)* Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy (1828–1910)* Modern Love, George Meredith (1828–1909)*
The complete works of Henrik Ibsen (1828–1906)* The Way of All Flesh, Samuel Butler (1835–1902) Far From the Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy (1840–1928) The Return of the Native, Thomas Hardy (1840–1928) Green Mansions, William Henry Hudson (1841-1922)*
The complete works of Henry James (1843–1916)* Miss Julie, August Strindberg (1849–1912) The Country of the Pointed Firs, Sarah Orne Jewett (1849–1909)* The Awakening, Kate Chopin (1850–1904)*
The complete works of Oscar Wilde (1854–1900)*
The complete works of George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950)* The Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad (1857–1924)
The complete works of Anton Chekhov (1860–1904)*
The complete works of Edith Wharton (1862–1937)*
The complete works of W.B. Yeats (1865–1939)* The Phantom of the Opera, Gaston Leroux (1868–1927)* Twelve Men, Theodore Dreiser (1871–1945) The Red Badge of Courage, Stephen Crane (1871–1900)* The Good Soldier, Ford Maddox Ford (1873–1939)* The Innocence of Father Brown, G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936)* The Wisdom of Father Brown, G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936)* The Man Who Was Thursday, G. K. Chesterton (1874–1936) The Ball and the Cross, G. K. Chesterton (1874–1936) Daylight and Nightmare, G.K. Chesterton (1874–1936) Buddenbrooks, Thomas Mann (1875–1955)* The Magic Mountain, Thomas Mann (1875–1955)* Winesburg, Ohio, Sherwood Anderson (1876–1941)* The Call of the Wild, Jack London (1876-1916)* White Fang, Jack London (1876-1916)* The Sea-Wolf, Jack London (1876-1916) To Build a Fire (Part of the collection titled Lost Face), Jack London (1876-1916)* Steppenwolf, Hermann Hesse (1877–1962)* Siddhartha, Herman Hesse (1877–1962)*
The complete works of E. M. Forster (1879–1970)* A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce (1882–1941)* Ulysses, James Joyce (1882–1941) A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf (1882–1941)* Between the Acts, Virginia Woolf (1882–1941)* Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf (1882–1941)* Jacob’s Room, Virginia Woolf (1882–1941)* To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf (1882–1941)*
The complete works of Franz Kafka (1883–1924)*
The poetry of Ezra Pound (1885–1972)* Sons and Lovers, D. H. Lawrence (1885–1930) Women In Love, D. H. Lawrence (1885–1930)* Lady Chatterly’s Lover, D.H. Lawrence (1885–1930)* Eight Sonnets, Edna St. Vincent Millay The Waste Land, T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) Other poems by T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie (1890–1976)* Murder on the Orient Express, Agatha Christie (1890–1976)* The Mysterious Affair at Styles, Agatha Christie (1890–1976)
Other novels by Agatha Christie (1890–1976)* The Hobbit, J. R. R. Tolkien (1892-1973)* Brave New World, Aldous Huxley (1894–1963)* Brave New World Revisited, Aldous Huxley (1894–1963)*
The complete works of Eugene O’Neill (1888–1953)* Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Eugene O’Neill (1888–1953)* The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck (1892–1973)*
The Lord of the Rings series, J. R. R. Tolkien (1892–1973)*
The complete works of E. E. Cummings (1894–1962)*
The complete works of F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896–1940)* The Bridge of San Luis Rey, Thornton Wilder (1897–1975) As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner (1897–1962) Our Town, Thornton Wilder (1897–1975)* Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell (1900–1949)* Lost Horizon, James Hilton (1900–1954)* The Lord of the Flies, William Golding (1911–1993)* All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque (1898–1970)*
The complete works of Ernest Hemingway (1899–1961)* The Pearl, John Steinbeck (1902–1968)*
The complete works of John Steinbeck (1902–1968)* Animal Farm, George Orwell (1903–1950)* 1984, George Orwell (1903–1950)* The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand (1905–1982)* Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand (1905–1982)*
The complete works of Jean-Paul Sartre (1905–1980)* Waiting for Godot, Samuel Beckett (1906–1989)* Endgame, Samuel Beckett (1906–1989)* Waldo, Robert Heinlein (1907–1988)* Magic, Inc., Robert Heinlein (1907–1988)* Stranger In A Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein (1907–1988)* Everyman, Anonymous (1909) The Bald Soprano, Eugene Ionesco (1909–1994)* The Lesson, Eugene Ionesco (1909–1994) Jack, or the Submission, Eugene Ionesco (1909–1994) The Chairs, Eugene Ionesco (1909–1994) A Death in the Family, James Agee (1909–1955)* Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, James Agee (1909–1955)*
The complete works of Tennessee Williams (1911–1983)*
The complete works of Albert Camus (1913–1960)*
The complete works of Dylan Thomas (1914–1953) On the Road, Jack Kerouac (1922–1969)* Catch-22, Joseph Heller (1923–1999)* Go Tell It on the Mountain, James Baldwin (1924–1987)* Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Truman Capote (1924–1984)*
The complete works of John Knowles (1926–2001)* The Tin Drum and other selected works by Gunter Grass (1927–2015)* The American Dream, Edward Albee (1928–)* Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Edward Albee (1928–)* Walden Two, B.F. Skinner*
Optional Advanced Classic Fiction
The Book of Margery Kempe, Margery Kempe (c. 1373–after 1438) The Schoolmaster, Roger Ascham (1515–1568) Tamburlaine the Great, Christopher Marlowe (1564–1593) The Jew of Malta, Christopher Marlowe (1564–1593) Every Man in His Humour, Ben Johnson (1572–1637) The Duchess of Malfi, John Webster (c. 1580–c. 1634) Life is a Dream, Calderon de la Barca (1600–1681) Pensees, Blaise Pascal (1623–1662) Absalom and Achitophel: A Poem, John Dryden (1631–1700) Oroonoko: The Royal Slave, Aphra Behn (1640–1689) The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders, Daniel Defoe (c. 1660–1731) The Bassett Table, Susana Centlivre (c. 1667 to 1670–1723) The Way of the World, William Congreve (1670–1729)* The Beggar’s Opera, John Gay (1685–1732) The Rape of the Lock, Alexander Pope (1688–1744) Satires and Epistles of Horace Imitated, Alexander Pope (1688–1744) The Dunciad, Alexander Pope (1688–1744) Pamela, Samuel Richardson (1689–1761) Fantomina, Eliza Haywood (c. 1693–1756) Tom Jones, Henry Fielding (1707–1754) Joseph Andrews, Henry Fielding (1707–1754)
The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, Lawrence Stern (1713–1768) Erotica Romana, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832) Hermann and Dorothea, Johann Wolfgang Goethe (1749–1832) Edmond, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832) A Vindication of the Rights of Women, Mary Wollstonecraft (1759–1797) Charlotte: A Tale of Truth, Susana Rowson (1762–1824) The Charterhouse of Parma, Stendhal (1783–1842) The Red and the Black, Stendhal (1783–1842) The Deerslayer, James Fennimore Cooper (1789–1851) Mr. Midshipman Easy, Captain Frederick Marryat (1792–1848) The Inspector-General, Nikolai Gogol (1809–1852) Henry Esmond, William Thackeray (1811–1863) Vanity Fair, William Thackeray (1811–1863) Two Years Before the Mast, Richard Henry Dana (1815–1882) The Small House at Allington, Anthony Trollope (1815–1882) Barchester Towers, Anthony Trollope (1815–1882) Fathers and Sons, Ivan Turgenev (1818–1883) The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins (1824–1889)* The Moonstone, Wilkie Collins (1824–1889)* The Egoist, George Meredith (1828–1909) The Ordeal of Richard Feverel, George Meredith (1828–1909) The Rise of Silas Lapham, W. D. Howells (1837–1920) The Mayor of Casterbridge, Thomas Hardy (1840–1928) Tess of the D’ubervilles, Thomas Hardy (1840–1928) The Devil’s Dictionary, Ambrose Bierce (1842–c. 1914) Looking Backward, Edward Bellamy (1850–1898) The Hound of Baskervilles, Arthur Conan Doyle (1859–1930)* In His Steps, Charles Sheldon (1857–1946)* The Virginian, Owen Wister (1860–1938) What Every Woman Knows, J.M. Barrie (1860–1937) The Petty Demon, Fyodor Sologub (1863–1927) The Three-Cornered World, Natsume Soseki (1867–1916)* Kokoro, Natsume Soseki (1867–1916)* I Am a Cat, Natsume Soseki (1867–1916)* The Pastoral Symphony, Andre Gide (1869–1951) The Pit, Frank Norris (1870–1902) The Octopus, Frank Norris (1870–1902) Sarra, Leonid Andreyev (1871–1919) The Seven Who Were Hanged, Leonid Andreyev (1871–1919) The Life of Man, Leonid Andreyev (1871–1919) Sister Carrie, Theodore Dreiser (1871–1945) An American Tragedy, Theodore Dreiser (1871–1945) Swann’s Way, Marcel Proust (1871–1922) My Antonia, Willa Cather (1873–1947)* O Pioneers!, Willa Cather (1873–1947)* Death Comes For the Archbishop, Willa Cather (1873–1947) Of Human Bondage and other selected works by W. Somerset Maugham (1874–1965)* The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, Gertrude Stein (1874–1946) Tender Buttons, Gertrude Stein (1874–1946)
The writings of Amy Lowell (1874–1925) Giants in the Earth, O.E. Rolvaang (1876–1931) Many Marriages, Sherwood Anderson (1876–1941)* Demian, Hermann Hesse (1877–1962)* Red Roses for Me, Sean O’Casey (1880–1964)* Finnegans Wake, James Joyce (1882–1941) Dubliners, James Joyce (1882–1941) Arrowsmith, Sinclair Lewis (1885–1951) Giant, Edna Ferber (1885–1968) Main Street, Sinclair Lewis (1885–1951) Babbitt, Sinclair Lewis (1885–1951) The Key, Junichiro Tanizaki (1886–1965) Mutiny on the Bounty, Charles Nordhoff (1887–1947) and James Norman Hall (1887–1951) The Horse’s Mouth, Joyce Cary (1888–1957) At the Bay, Katherine Mansfield (1888–1923) In a German Pension, Katherine Mansfield (1888–1923) Pale Horse, Pale Rider, Katherine Anne Porter (1890–1980) The Sea of Grass, Conrad Richter (1890–1968) Doctor Zhivago, Boris Pasternak (1890–1960) The Light in the Forest, Conrad Richter (1890–1968) Black Spring, Henry Miller (1891–1980) Johnny Tremain, Ester Forbes (1891–1967) Anthem for Doomed Youth, Wilfred Owen (1893–1918) The Maltese Falcon, Dashiel Hammett (1894–1961)* The Citadel, A. J. Cronin (1896–1981) The 42nd Parallel, John Dos Passos (1896–1970) Nineteen, Nineteen, John Dos Passos (1896–1970) Three Soldiers, John Dos Passos (1896–1970) The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner (1897–1962) Light in August, William Faulkner (1897–1962) Absalom, Absalom!, William Faulkner (1897–1962) Sanctuary, William Faulkner (1897–1962) The Skin of Our Teeth, Thornton Wilder (1897–1975) Snow Country, Yasunari Kawabata (1899–1972) The Sound of the Mountain, Yasunari Kawabata (1899–1972) You Can’t Go Home Again, Thomas Wolfe (1900–1938) Death Be Not Proud, John Gunther (1901–1970)
Selected works of Isaac Bashevis Singer (1902–1991) Too Late the Philanthrope, Alan Paton (1903–1988) The Day of the Locust, Nathaniel West (1903–1940) God’s Little Acre, Erskine Caldwell (1903–1987) The Heart of the Matter, Graham Greene (1904–1991) The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene (1904–1991) Anthem, Ayn Rand (1905–1982)* Night of January 16th, Ayn Rand (1905–1982)* We The Living, Ayn Rand (1905–1982)* All the King’s Men, Robert Penn Warren (1905–1989) Darkness at Noon, Arthur Koestler (1905–1983) Act Without Words, Samuel Beckett (1906–1989) Across Five Aprils, Irene Hunt (1907–2001) Alas, Babylon, Pat Frank (1908–1964)* The Ox-Bow Incident, Walter van Tillburg Clark (1909–1971) Free Fall, William Golding (1911–1993) The Inheritors, William Golding (1911–1993) The Assistant, Bernard Malamud (1914–1986) The Fixer, Bernard Malamud (1914–1986) Dangling Man, Saul Bellow (1915–2005) Herzog, Saul Bellow (1915–2005) All My Sons, Arthur Miller (1915–2005)* The Caine Mutiny, Herman Wouk (1915–) The Heart is A Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers (1917–1967)
Selected works of Robert Lowell (1917–1977) A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess (1917–1993) The Ballad of Peckham Rye, Muriel Spark (1918–2006) The Gulag Archipelago, Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1918–2008) Twelve Angry Men, Reginald Rose (1920-2002)* Dune, Frank Herbert (1920–1986)* Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut (1922–2007)* Cat’s Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut (1922–2007)* The Sirens of Titan, Kurt Vonnegut (1922–2007)* Other books by Kurt Vonnegut (1922–2007)* The Dharma Bums, Jack Kerouac (1922–1969)* A Man for All Seasons, Robert Bolt (1924–1995) Music for Chameleons, Truman Capote (1924–1984)* Other Voices, Other Rooms, Truman Capote (1924–1984)* A Separate Peace, John Knowles (1926–2001)* A Day No Pigs Would Die, Robert Newton Peck (1928–) The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera (1929–)* My Name is Asher Lev, Chaim Potak (1929–2002)* The Chosen, Chaim Potak (1929–2002) The Promise, Chaim Potak (1929–2002) No Longer At Ease, Chinua Achebe (1930–2013)*
Selected books by Toni Morrison (1931–) The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, Ernest J. Gaines (1933–) Bless Me, Ultima, Rudolfo Anaya (1937–) Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Tom Stoppard (1937–) Their Eyes Were Watching God, Nora Hurston Swiss Family Robinson, Johann David Wyss Lord Jim, Joseph Conrad Nana, Zola Native Son, Richard Wright The Seven Story Mountain, Thomas Merton Kim, Rudyard Kipling
Other Literature I Recommend
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Barbara Robinson (1927–2013)* The Bears’ House and other books by Marilyn Sachs (1927–)* The Daring Book for Girls The Dangerous Book for Boys The Boys’ Book of Survival The Complete Adventures of the Borrowers, Mary Norton
The complete Ramona series, Beverly Cleary Then Again, Maybe I Won’t, Judy Blume Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself, Judy Blume Along Came a Dog, X and Maurice Sendak The Wheel on the School, X and Maurice Sendak The Princess and the Goblin, George MacDonald All the Back of the North Wind, George MacDonald Happy Times in Noisy Village, Astrid Lindgren The Children of Noisy Village, Astrid Lindgren Emil and the Great Escape, Astrid Lindgren McBroom’s Wonderful One-Acre Farm Phoebe the Spy, Judith Griffin The Cabin Faced West, Jean Fritz The Courage of Sarah Noble Paddle-to-the-Sea The Door in the Wall, Marguerite de Angeli Five Little Peppers and How They Grew
Contributor: Subhan Schenker, who runs the Osho World of Meditation in Seattle.
Mollie: When someone is fully enlightened, do they feel psychological pain?
Subhan: I have heard that enlightened people feel physical pain but not psychological pain. They may have some awareness that there is a mind that has pain, but it’s very far removed; the mind has dropped into the basement.
Mollie: What do you do when the mind makes a judgment and tries to nudge you—sometimes not so gently—to do something, change something, or at the very least, abhor something about yourself or your life, which then separates you from that feeling of connectedness?
In other words: How do we react to the monsters in our heads?
Subhan: You don’t. It’s not about getting rid of anything. It’s about watching, noticing what’s there. Becoming aware of how the mind functions is tremendously helpful. You’ll be able to experience how parts of the mind push and pull you; that there are so many judgments–about you, about everyone else, about everything! This watchfulness becomes more and more available. And the distance between “you” and the thoughts starts to grow.
Mollie: Where do the monsters go?
Subhan: Once this dis-identification starts happening, the thoughts aren’t perceived of as monsters. They are simply the way the mind functions, and they don’t have to be taken too seriously! They lose their power over you.
I can’t explain it. I can’t intellectualize it. You have to try it for yourself. When you have a thought you don’t like, notice it, remind yourself that it’s not you. I tell people to step back just one-twelfth of an inch from the mind. That doesn’t seem too hard, does it?
Mollie: I do that. It doesn’t always work.
Subhan: No, it doesn’t always work. The mind is tremendously powerful. It can process an unbelievable amount of data in a mere second. It is a miracle that we have the ability to step back from it at all. The only reason we are able to is that what is behind it is indestructible. And usually, we only obtain just a flash of true silence. Maybe for ten seconds you are in silence, and those ten seconds can be life-changing.
Mollie: Why is this the way it is? Why is it so hard to detach from mind, from pain? It doesn’t seem fair.
Subhan: Maybe awareness isn’t that cheap. Maybe awareness has to be earned.
The truth is, though, it’s hard because it’s hard. Because this is the nature of the mind. Asking “why?” is a game of the mind, the one it plays a million times a day. Why can’t I have this? Why can’t I do that? Why can’t I be there, feel that way?
D. H. Lawrence was a very intelligent man. One day he was walking with his nephew in the woods when his nephew asked: “Why are the leaves green?” Lawrence didn’t answer right away; instead, he thought about it for a time, wanting to give an answer that was the truth. Finally, he said, “I know the answer, but you are not going to like it. The leaves are green because they’re green.”
Your mind is not happy with this answer. But your inner being is.
The leaves are green because they’re green. Asking “why” leads to a never ending work game!
“They’re green because of chlorophyll.” But why does chlorophyll create GREEN? “Because of the chemical reaction in chlorophyll.” “But why does this chemical reaction create GREEN and not RED?”
(Once a children learn the “why” game, they can keep adults over a barrel forever!) Ultimately the only real answer we can give is that leaves are green…because they’re green…!
Mollie: So what about when you really do want to change something about yourself or your life? Maybe your life is going pretty well, and you already have a lot of what you want, but you would just like to tweak something just a bit. What next?
Subhan: Well, the first thing I’d say is to watch that desire. Notice your perceived need to change things. Ask yourself what this tweaking is all about. That desire is the mind, and by accepting its ideas, you’re identifying yourself with it. But the truth is, you are not your mind. You are much bigger, much grander than it, and within the real you there is no idea of “lacking.”
What is the point in identifying with a lacking? Don’t. Don’t allow there to be a split between the reality of the person you are and the ideal of the person you want to be. Because whenever you have something called the ideal, you will be in conflict with the real. And if you’re in conflict with the real, you will never arrive. There will never be a time when the mind doesn’t want something different, or something more. Never. So, it’s better to sacrifice the ideal for the real!
Mollie: Then how do we ever change anything, do anything, get anything done? If we’re all perfectly content with things just as they are, won’t we end up sitting around and meditating all day like you?
Subhan: I don’t meditate all day. I am in constant contact with people. I do counseling sessions. I write. I teach classes at the college. I lead four meditation sessions a week at our center. I do numerous weekend workshops.
You see, the mind tells us that if we stop listening to it, and stop being in conflict, we won’t get anything done. But all you have to do is look at the great spiritual masters to see that isn’t true. Buddha, Lao Tzu, Christ, Rumi … They all accomplished a lot and many things change around them.
Subhan: When I am in acceptance of who I am, Existence does the changing!
Mollie: How? Let me slow down and look at this process you’re talking about because there’s obviously something I’m not getting here. So, there you are in a state of meditation, disidentified with the mind, blissed out. Then the mind comes up with another judgment—say, “My child is misbehaving, and I want him to stop.” This is the moment we’re really talking about—the moment that repeats itself all throughout the day. This is when you decide to either reidentify with the mind and become the one who is judging, or to not accept the judgment, and just notice it instead. But when you decide to just notice the judgment, isn’t that also a decision the mind is making?
Subhan: No. I don’t decide. We are part of an Intelligence so vast our minds are useless compared to it. When we are in a state of meditation, it is not our minds that do the deciding, but this Intelligence within us.
Mollie: But if you don’t use your mind, how do you speak? How do you carry out the instruction of this Intelligence—say, to hug the child, or to correct them, or to comfort them?
Subhan: For verbal and physical responses like these, you do use the mind and body. They are tools that allow us to be part of the physical world—to speak, to move our bodies. The key is to respond rather than to react. When you react to your child rather than responding, you’re not using your mind; it’s using you.
Mollie: Ah, I see. So you can still speak, talk, respond to the situation without using your mind to do so? Maybe we are defining mind differently. So there is the mind that’s the ego, the monster, the monkey, the neuroses, and there is the mind that’s a simple, useful tool, a tool we use to translate what is going on in our larger Intelligence? And so is the body, when we hug the child rather than yelling at him?
Subhan: Yes, that’s right. The mind is a fabulous tool … but a crappy boss!
Mollie: So how does a spiritual seeker, someone who is committed to becoming disidentified with the mind, make this switch? In that moment when the child is so-called misbehaving, how does she learn how not to react as the mind would like and to instead suspend thinking, then receive and act upon Intelligence, all without using her mind? This sounds like quite the skill. How does she learn how to accept a situation she finds unpleasant, without “making it into a problem,” as Eckhart Tolle says?
Subhan: Meditation. Meditation that really works, really functions, allows you to, for a moment, to be completely separated from the mind. This doesn’t happen overnight! So it’s best to start with simpler things and situations. Practice watching the thoughts whenever you remember to do so, in simple settings that aren’t triggering emotions and control issues, etc. You slowly build up the knack of watching – in your meditation, in simple situations, and then, ultimately in more “difficult” situations.
Mollie: Then what?
Subhan: Then, acceptance comes. And wisdom comes, the wisdom that is right for that moment.
Mollie: Then what? I will ask it again: How do we end up getting what we want out of life, if we’re always just listening to Intelligence and doing whatever it tells us to do?
Subhan: We try to force Existence to give us what we want, but this is ridiculous, totally futile. It’s like we’re playing the greatest cosmic joke on ourselves: We are buddhas, capable of extraordinary things, even peace and enlightenment, and instead we’re acting unconsciously. We pretend to have all kinds of self-imposed limitations, including a mind that has no clue what to do most of the time, that’s creating many more problems than it’s solving. It is our nature to be a buddha. Anything else is going against the flow. To paraphrase Osho: “The miracle is not when we obtain enlightenment. The miracle is when we conceal it.”
Mollie: So if we want to be truly happy and free of mind, we have to let Intelligence give us what it deems best for us, no matter what that may be?
Subhan: That sounds like the mind talking, not wanting to give up its control to a higher intelligence that resides within us. One we step back from the mind, it loses its control and the intelligence is THERE, waiting to be of immense service!
I tell people to ask for 100 percent of what they want, then let the Universe decide, because it will!
Mollie: So would you say that the main purpose of meditation is to teach us acceptance of whatever the Universe deems best for us?
Subhan: The purpose of meditation is to disidentify with the mind. Acceptance comes naturally after that.
Mollie: Then what? What happens after acceptance?
Subhan: Acceptance and gratitude, and peacefulness and fulfillment become real once there is the disidentification from the mind. I had an early experience of this before I became a meditator. I didn’t know it at the time, but I had dropped into meditation. When I was a young man I was driving my mother’s car when it slipped on some ice. In the ten seconds between starting to slide and hitting the car in front of me, I had my first experience of the meditative state. The mind understood that there was nothing it could do, no role for it to play in that moment, and it said, “I’m out of here. You’re on your own.” Those ten seconds felt like an hour. They were bliss. And the silence was so serene, so “palpable!”
Then I hit the car, and the mind said, “Oh, I can deal with this.” And it started in again: “What is your mother going to say, how much is this going to cost,” etc. It was much later that I realized that when the mind disappeared, something extraordinary emerged. And later still, it became clear that this space had something to do with an essential nature that is always there, although covered by the minds overthinking.
Mollie: I see. And yes, that bliss is what I want. But should I make it a life goal of mine to obtain it? Should happiness be something I strive for? Because it seems the more you try to get happy, the more neurotic you become.
Subhan: You’re right! Anything you desire is a product of the mind. And it will create misery around it. Do not make happiness a goal. In fact, do not make anything a goal. All goals keep you stuck in the mind. Life will give you what you truly need.
Mollie: So—and I realize that I’m really trying to pin you down here—would you say that if I practice meditation regularly, and practice living in a state of meditation and acceptance, I will certainly become happy?
Subhan: I will say that if you stay with it, there is every possibility that you will have more moments of feeling loving, feeling grateful, feeling at peace. And that’s assuming that you are doing a meditation that works for you. Because as I said, a lot of people are doing meditation techniques that don’t really work for them.
Also, be really careful because the mind that asks that question is more interested in the goal than the process. As long as you have a goal to your meditation it will keep you locked in your mind, evaluating whether or not your meditation session was “successful.” Every time the meditation happens the mind will judge it based on whether or not it has achieved that goal. The mind is very crafty. Instead, be there sincerely, without the notion of getting somewhere.
The mind doesn’t want you to be happy. How many times have you experienced a moment of joy and the mind has tried to throw you out of it, using every complaint, seeing every shortcoming, predicting every future bad result it could?
The mind doesn’t want you to be happy, because if you are it is no longer needed.
Mollie: And how long will it take for me to get there? How much meditation would you recommend that I do?
Subhan: There is no way for anyone to know that. There is no formula to it. It is a quantum leap. But after a while, you will notice that you don’t take life so seriously, that you have moments of greater clarity, and that you even feel more gratitude, just for being alive. These are clues that the meditation process is working.
Mollie: Is just meditating and noticing the workings of the mind enough? Is there anything else I need to do?
Subhan: Watching the mind is essential. But you can also find people on this path of discovery who can share their experiences and understandings with you. They offer workshops and sessions that can be of great assistance to you in coming back to your inner, essential nature!
Mollie: No mantras? I love my mantras.
Subhan: If you enjoy mantras, then use them! Some mantras can help you go deeper inside. Just remember, the point of meditation is to disassociate yourself from the mind.
Just watch the mind. A thought comes, and you watch it. Nothing more. This is the only real meditation. Saying mantras may be a good and helpful practice, but it may not lead you to the state of meditation, which is awareness, relaxation and no judgment.
Now, let me ask you a question. Have you had enough of what you don’t want yet?
Mollie: I would have to give that some thought.
Subhan: If you have to think about it, you haven’t. When someone is being physically tortured, and they’re asked if they’ve had enough yet, there is not a single instant of reflection. The answer is yes.
Mollie: That is true. I am getting there.
Subhan: I would hope you get there as fast as you can.
Recently Matt Kahn agreed to an interview. I know: how lucky am I? I got to ask him anything I wanted–anything at all. So of course I thought of the hardest questions possible. Enjoy.
Mollie: What spiritual practices do you keep up with regularly? How strict are you?
Matt: I am not strict at all. I meditate, breathe, send blessings to humanity, and love my heart on a daily basis, but only when I get the intuitive nudge to do it. I maintain a daily practice not only to continue my life-long exploration, but to practice for those who need it most, but aren’t in a position to open their hearts just yet.
Mollie: Do you practice self-inquiry, such as Byron Katie’s The Work? If so, is this an important practice for you? Do you recommend it?
Matt: I ask very intriguing questions, but only because my exploration is how I download new teachings to offer. Self-inquiry can be very beneficial, but it has a short shelf-life. The best approach to any process, including self-inquiry is to prepare to be without it. If not, you are subconsciously asking life to continually give you things to work out through your inquiry. If you can engage inquiry from the stand point of always moving beyond it, it can offer benefit. Especially knowing, it is not the inquiry that heals you, but the amount of attention you are offering neglected and repressed parts of yourself that represent the true keys to inner freedom. Undivided attention is the grace of love in action. It is life’s eternal liberator. Self-inquiry merely gives you a framework to face yourself directly.
Mollie: I’ve heard you mention the law of attraction and note that at some point we focus less on “moving around the furniture of our lives”–improving our outward circumstances–and more on increasing our inner joy instead. Is this true for you? At some point did you stop striving to improve the outward circumstances of your life, and focus only on internals instead, or do you still do some of both?
Matt: In each and every moment, life shows us exactly what each moment asks of us. If spending too much time waiting for things to be different, we overlook the fact that anything attracted into reality could only be a catalyst of our highest evolution. This is why I wrote, “Everything is Here to Help You”. While we should always envision greater circumstances for ourselves and others, it is our willingness to ask, “how is this circumstance giving me the chance to face my most vulnerable parts and shine even brighter?” that determines the trajectory of our soul’s evolution. Simply put, life only appears to not give you what you want while preparing you to have things beyond your wildest imagination. With faith in life’s cosmic plan and a willingness to love ourselves throughout it all, experiences deeper than loss and gain are given permission to be.
Mollie: I’m a hard worker, a doer by nature. I love lists, plans and goals. You seem more laid-back. How do you feel about striving toward goals? Is this something you recommend we do, given that our goals are healthy and peace-promoting? Or would you rather we wing it and let the universe take us somewhere we might never have planned to go?
Matt: It’s a balance of both. I have goals but I go about them from a peaceful space of being. Out of the being, the doing can be done with gentleness, precision, and ease. When we are solely focused on the outcome, we are not fulfilling each task in alignment with our soul, but attempting to outrun the hands of time to capture what we fear we were never meant to have. If it’s meant to be, it will come, which requires destiny along with our participation in taking inspired deliberate action.
Mollie: Do you listen for divine guidance for your actions–say, when to go wash the car or feed the dog? What is the terminology you use for this?
Matt: My intuition is always active and flowing. For me, there is a perfect time for everything and when I get that message, I follow through without hesitation. Like stomach grumbles that remind you when to eat, my intuition guides my every move without me having to micromanage anything. It’s just the joy of following the flow of each instinct. It’s a visceral flow of inspiration, not a mental calculation of any kind.
I have a basic working Mandarin vocabulary–what I call “traveler’s Chinese.” Though it’s one of my life goals to become fluent or close to it (mostly because it would be so much fun), I also feel that this basic level is extremely valuable in its own right. Once you get past the language basics and talk to some natives who–surprise!–actually understand you, the groundwork has been laid; you become confident. After that, you have fun with it: talk to people you meet, ask them to explain things, practice a bit here and a bit there. A decade or so later, you’re ready to visit the land of your chosen second language and make a lot of progress in a relatively short amount of time.
A note on the list: There are four tones in Mandarin Chinese. Fortunately, they’re not hard to master; just do an Internet search to hear them and practice. One more tip: At first, don’t worry about grammar too much. Get the main verbs, the main short words (“because,” “with,” “and,” “very,” and the time- and distance-related vocabulary) and the whole introductory conversation basics, then move on to your nouns–food, body parts, etc. When you practice, make as many mistakes as you can possibly make, grammar-wise; just get yourself understood. That’s the goal.
Basic Mandarin Vocabulary:
Conversational Basics and Common Phrases:
Hello: Ni3 hao3 How are you: Ni3 hao3 ma What is your name: Ni3 de ming2 zi jiao4 shen2 me My name is: Wo3 de ming2 zi jiao4 First name: Ming2 zi Family name: Gui4 xing4 How old are you: Ni3 ji1 sui4 le I am __ years old: Wo3 you3 __ nian2 Good morning: Zao3 an1 Good afternoon: Good evening: Wan3 an1 Yes: Shi4 No: Bu4 shi4 Please: Qing2 May I: Ke3 yi3 Thank you: Xie4 xie4 Excuse me/I’m sorry: Dui4 bu4 qi2 You’re welcome/I don’t mind: Mei2 guan4 xi1 No problem/I don’t care: Bu4 yao4 jin3 Where are you from: Ni3 lai2 zai4 na3 li3 I am from: Wo3 lai2 zi4 I speak __: Wo3 shuo1 __ Do you speak __: Ni3 shuo1 __ ma? U.S.A.: Mei3 guo2 American: Mei3 guo2 ren2 English: Ying1 wen2 China: Zhong1 guo2 Chinese (person): Zhong1 guo2 ren2 Chinese (Mandarin language): Pu2 tong2 hua4 Chinese (Cantonese language): Guang3 dong1 hua4 How do you say: Wo3 zem2 me shuo1 What does this mean: Shen2 me yi4 ci2 Say it again: Zai4 shuo1 yi1 ci4 May I ask: Qing2 wen3 Can you please: Ni3 ke3 yi3 Nice to meet you: Hen3 gao1 xin1 jian4 dao4 ni3 Be careful: Xiao4 xin1 (yi1 dian3) Hurry up: Kuai4 yi1 dian3 Wait a moment: Deng3 yi2 xia4 I am ready: Wo3 zhu3 bei4 hao3 le Both are fine: Shen2 me dou1 ke3 yi3
To be: Shi4 To go: Qu4 To want: Yao4 To use: Yong4 To need: Xu3 yao4 To know: Zhi1 dao4 To like: Xi3 huan1 To love: Ai4 To live: Zhu4 To be born: Chu1 sheng1 To die: Si2 To sleep/go to bed: Shui4 jiao4 To wake up: Xing3 lai2 To cook: Zuo2 (fan4) To read: Kan4 (shu1) To practice: Lian4 xi3 To make/do: Zuo3 To look at: Kan4 To see: Kan4 dao4 To look for: Zhao3 To walk: Zou3 (lu4) To run: Pao3 (bu4) To go to work: Shang4 ban4 To finish work: Xia4 ban4 To rest: Xiu2 xi3 To play: Wan2 To sing: Chang4 ge1 To smile: Wei1 xiao4 To laugh: Da4 xiao1 To hug: Bao4 To cry: Ai1 hao4; ku1; bei4 qi4 To dance: Tiao4 wu3 To swim: You2 yong3 To take pictures: Zhao4 xiang4 To go shopping: (Qu4) guang4 jie1; gou4 wu4; mai3 dong1 xi1 To go to the bathroom: Shang4 ce4 suo3 To take a shower: Xi3 zao3 To wash hands/face: Xi3 lian2/shou3 To ride (a bike, etc.): Qi2 To ride (a car–no movement): Zuo4 To visit (someone): Bai4 fang3 To visit (something): Can1 guan1 To leave: Zou3 To wait: Deng3 (dai4) To stay (there): Liu2 zai4 (zhe1 li3) To stay home: Dai4 zia4 jia1 li3 To stand up: Zhan4 qi3 lai2 To sit down: Zuo4 xia4 To find: Zhao3 dao4 To pay: Fu4 qian2 To break: Sui4; lan4 To fix: Xiu1 To take: Na2 To listen: Ting1 (shuo1) To lay down (something): Fang4 To lay down (body): Tang3 xia4 To meet (regularly): Peng4 dao4; peng4 tou2 To meet (past or future): Kan4 jian4 To show/indicate: Zhan3 shi3 To mistakenly think: Yi3 wei2 To try: Shi4 yi1 shi4 To taste/experience: Chang2 hang2; chang2 yi1 chang2 To guess: Cai1 yi1 cai1 To translate: Fan1 yi4 To hate: Hen4 To put on/wear: Chuan1; dai4 To change clothes: Huan2 yi4 fu2
When: Shen2 me shi2 hou4 How long: Duo1 jiu2 Early: Zao4 Late: Wan2 Soon: Hen3 kuai4 Not soon: Hen3 man4 Always: Zong3 shi4 Never: Cong2 lai2 (mei2 you3) Again: Zai4 Often/usually: Jing1 chang2 Sometimes: You3 shi2 hou4 Still more (time): Hai2 (you3) Daytime: Wan3 shang4 Nighttime: Wan3 shang4 Day: Tian1 Morning: Zao3 shang4 Afternoon: Xia4 wu3 Time: Shi2 jian1 Hour: Xiao3 shi2; zhong1 tou2 Minute: Fen1 zhong1 Second: Miao3 zhong1 This week: Zhe4 zhou1 Next week: Xia4 zhou1 Last week: Shang4 zhou1 Before/earlier: Yi3 qian2; zai4 shi1 qian2 After/later: Yi3 hou4; hou4 lai2; dai1 hui3 At the same time: Tong2 shi2 First: Di1 yi1 Second: Di1 er4 One time: Yi1 ci4 The first time: Di1 yi1 ci4 Midnight: Ban4 ye4 Long (time): Jiu2; chang2 shi2 jian1 A while: Yi2 xia4 Future: Wei4 lai2 Past: Ever: Guo1; ceng2 jing2
Size- and Amount-Related:
How much/how many: Duo1 shao1 More: Bi3 (jiao4) duo1 de; Less: Bi3 (jiao4) shao3 de A little: Yi1 dian3 A little more: Duo1 yi1 dian3 Most: Zui4 Some: Yi1 xie3 de Only: Zhi2 you3 Still more (amount): Hai2 you3 Almost: Cha4 bu4 duo1 Not enough: Bu2 gou4 Not quite: Bu2 tai4 Too (much): Tai4 Size: Da4 xiao3 Short (people): Ai3 Short (stuff): Duan3 Tall (people): Gao1 Long (things): chang2 Wide: Kuan1 kuo4 de Deep: Shen1 de Empty: Kong1 dong4 Amount: Deng3 yu2 Enough: Gou3 le None: Mei2 you3 yi1 ge Both: Liang3 Both/all: Dou1; quan2 bu2 de Another one: Zai4 yi1 ge Equal: Deng3 (yu1) How many?: Ji3 ge Another: Bie2 de One or two: Yi1 liang2 ge Either one: Bu2 lun4 . . . dou1 (hao1) Only: Jiu4 Pound: Bang4 Kilo: Gong1 jin1 1/2 kilo: Jin1 Still more: Hai2 you3 Others: Qi2 ta1 de Every: Mei3 yi1; mei3 ge Each: Mei3 yi1 ge The whole (one): Zheng3 ge4 The whole (time): Suo3 you3 (shi2 jian1) Everything: Yi1 qie4 dou1; shen2 me dou1; suo3 you3 shi4 wu4 Something: Xie1 shi4 Nothing: Mei2 you3 dong1 xi1; mei1 you3 shi4 Everybody: Mei2 ge ren2; ren2 ren2 Anything: Wu2 lun2 shen2 me Somebody: Yi1 ge ren2 Nobody: Mei2 you3 ren2 Anybody: Ren4 he2 ren2; shen2 me ren2 Everywhere: Mei3 ge di4 fang1; dao4 qu4 dou1 Somewhere: Yi1 ge di4 fang1 Nowhere: Mei2 you3 di4 fang1 Anywhere: Ren4 he2 di4 fang1
A direction: Fang1 xiang4 A location: Fang1 wei4 Here: Zher4 There: Nar4 High: Gao1 Low: Di1 Beside: Zai . . . pang2 bian1/lin2 jin4 Between: Zai4 . . . zhi1 jian1/zhong1 jian1 Ahead: Zai . . . qian2 fang1/qian2 mian4 Over/above/on: Zai4 . . . shang4 mian4; gao1 yu2 In: Zai4 . . . li3 bian1 Under: Zai4 . . . xia4 mina4 The top: Zui4 shang4 mian4; zui4 shang4 bian4 The bottom: Di3 bu1; zui4 di3 Side/limit: Bian1 Behind: Zai . . . hou4 mian4 Both sides: Liang3 bian1 This side: Zhe4 bian1 That side: Na4 bian1 Central: Zhong1 yang1 de Inner: Li3 bian1 de Outer: Wai4 bian1 de Right: You3 Left: Zuo3 Center: Zhong1 jian1 Close/near: Jin4 Far away: (Yao2) yuan2 To travel forwards: Ziang4 qian2 zou3 To travel backwards: Ziang4 hou4 zou3 On the corner: Zai4 jiao3 luo4 One block: Yi1 kuai4 zhuan1 To turn right: Xiang4 you4 zhuan3 To turn left: Xiang4 zuo3 zhuan3 To go straight: Zhi2 zou3 North: Bei1 South: Nan2 East: Dong1 fang1 West: Xi1 fang1 Easterner: Dong1 fang1 ren2 Westerner: Xi1 fang1 ren2
Other Small Words:
This: Zhe4 ge That: Na4 ge But/nevertheless: Ke3 shi4; dan4 shi4 If: Ru2 guo3; yao4 shi4 Which: Na3 yi1 ge Although/even though: Sui1 ran2 Therefore: Suo3 yi3 Will: Hui4; jiang1 (yao4) Should: Ying1 gai1 Because: Yin1 wei4 Anyway/regardless: Qi2 shi2; bu4 guan3 Also: Ye3; you4 Probably: Huo4 xu3; ke3 neng2 In addition: Ling4 wai4; hai2 you3; chu1 ci3 gi4 wai4 Instead of: Er4 bu2 shi2 Not so: Bu4 ran2 To: Qu4 (location); gei1; zi1 (time) From: Cong2; lai2 zi Of: Shu3 yu2 For: Wei4 (Word at end of a question): Ma (Word at end of a completed statement): Le
“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.
Important Classical Composers
Johann Sebastian Bach (Toccata and Fugue, Brandenburg Concertos) Ludwig van Beethoven (Moonlight Sonata, Fur Elise) Johannes Brahms (Hungarian Dance No. 5) Frederic Chopin (Nocturne No. 2, Spring Waltz) Antonin Dvorak (New World Symphony) Edvard Grieg (Peer Gynt Suite) George Frideric Handel (The Messiah, HWV 56: Hallelujah Chorus) Mendelssohn (Hebrides Overture) Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major, K. 467: II. Andante; Requiem, K. 626: Lacrimosa Dies Illa; Serenade No. 13 In G Major, K. 525, “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik”: I. Allegro; Symphony No. 40 In G Minor, K. 550: I. Allegro Molto; Piano Sonata No. 11 In A Major, K. 331: Rondo: Alla Turca; The Magic Flute, K. 620: Overture) Robert Schumann (Piano Concerto) Franz Shubert (Serenade; Symphony 8) Johann Strauss (On the Beautiful Blue Danube Waltz) Igor Stravinsky (The Rite of Spring) Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Swan Lake; 1812 Overture) Giuseppe Verdi (Nabucco: Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves (Va’, Pensiero, Sull’ali Dorate); Messa Da Requiem: Dies Irae – Tuba Mirum) Vivaldi Richard Wagner (The Ride of the Valkyries)
Important Modern Composers
Philip Glass (Glassworks, more) Hans Zimmer (Interstellar, Time, more) John Williams (Star Wars main theme, more) Thomas Newman (American Beauty soundtrack, Scent of a Woman main theme, more) Sergei Prokofiev (Peter and the Wolf)
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 Various Disney songs and soundtracks
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 Artists
Aretha Franklin (Respect, [You Make Me Feel Like a] Natural Woman, Chain of Fools, I Say a Little Prayer) 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) Bette Midler (From a Distance, I Think It’s Gonna Rain Today, The Rose, Wind Beneath My Wings) 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) 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) Buddy Holly (Everyday, Not Fade Away, Rave On, That’ll Be the Day, Peggy Sue) Bruce Springstein The 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, ) Chuck Berry (Brown Eyed Handsome Man, Johnny B. Goode, Promised Land, No Particular Place to Go, Maybellene, Roll Over Beethoven, Sweet Little Sixteen) David Bowie (Changes, Heroes, Young Americans, Ziggy Stardust, Let’s Dance, Modern Love) Diana Ross Dolly Parton (Jolene, I Will Always Love You, 9 to 5) 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) 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) 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) 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) 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 Lennon (I Feel Fine, Strawberry Fields Forever, Imagine, Instant Karma, Happy Christmas [War Is Over]) 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) 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) 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) Marvin Gaye (What’s Going On, Let’s Get It On, I Heard It Through the Grapevine) Michael Jackson (Thriller, Bad, Billie Jean) Miles Davis Moody Blues (Nights in White Satin) Natalie Cole (Unforgettable, This Will Be [An Everlasting Love]) Nat King Cole (Unforgettable, When I Fall in Love, Mona Lisa, Christmas songs) Nina Simone Nirvana/ Kurt Cobain (Smells Like Teen Spirit, Come As You Are, In Bloom) 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) 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) 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) Sam Cooke (A Change Is Gonna Come, Cupid, A Change Is Gonna Come, Bring It on Home to Me, You Send Me, Wonderful World) Sammy Davis Jr. Simon and Garfunkel (Bridge Over Troubled Water, Scarborough Fair, All I Know, Sound of Silence, The Boxer) 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 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 Doors/ Jim Morrison (Light My Fire, People Are Strange, Riders on a Storm, Break on Through to the Other Side, The End) The Eagles (Hotel California, Desperado, The Boys of Summer [Don Henley solo]) The Grateful Dead The Jimi Hendrix Experience/Jimi Henrix (All Along the Watchtower, Purple Haze) 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 Can’t 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 Temptations (Just My Imagination, My Girl, Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone) Tina Turner (What’s Love Got to Do With It, Proud Mary, Simply the Best) Tony Bennett (The Way You Look Tonight, Fly Me to the Moon, ILeft My Heart in San Francisco) 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) Credence Clearwater Revival
Roxette (She’s Got the Look) Chicago Sam Moore (Soul Man, Hold On, I’m Comin’, Part Time Love) The Supremes (Baby Love, Where Did Our Love Go, You Keep Me Hanging On) Foreigner (Starrider) Rush Journey (Don’t Stop Believing)The Police (Message in a Bottle) Bob Seger (Old Time Rock ‘n Roll) Boston (More Than a Feeling) John Mellencamp (Hurts So Good) Steppenwolf (Magic Carpet Ride) The Pretenders (Message of Love) John Legend (Glory, All of Me, Ordinary People) Annie Lennox/ Eurythmics (Sweet Dreams [Are Made of This], Here Comes the Rain Again, Why) 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], Shout (Parts 1 and 2) Sonny and Cher (I Got You Babe) Steppenwolf (Born to Be Wild) Neil Diamond (Sweet Caroline) Fleetwood Mac (Rhiannon) Stevie Nicks (Talk to Me) The Champs (Tequila Song) Carly Simon (You’re So Vain) The Spencer Davis Group (Gimme Some Lovin’) Mark Ronson (Uptown Funk) Lionel Richie (Easy Like Sunday Morning) The Four Tops (Reach Out [I’ll Be There], I Can’t Help Myself [Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch]) Roy Orbison (Oh, Pretty Woman) Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers (Why Do Fools Fall in Love) Bobby Darin (Dream Lover) The Jackson 5 (I Want You Back) Dion (The Wanderer) Paul Anka (Put Your Head on My Shoulder) Andres Trevino (Hit the Road Jack) Kool and the Gang (Jungle Boogie) Sam Cooke (What A Wonderful World/Don’t Know Much About History) Amy Winehouse (Rehab) Bob Marley (Don’t Worry Be Happy, Three Little Birds, No Woman No Cry) Alice Cooper (I’m Eighteen, School’s Out) AC/DC (Thunderstruck, Back in Black, Highway to Hell) Aerosmith (Dream On, Sweet Emotion, Walk This Way) Axl Rose (Sweet Child o’ Mine, Paradise City, November Rain) Bee Gees (How Deep Is Your Love, Stayin’ Alive) 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) 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 Springsteen, (Born in the U.S.A., Born to Run, The Rising, Thunder Road) 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) 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 Ruffin (Ain’t Too Proud to Beg, My Girl, Walk Away From Love) Dion (Teenager in Love, The Wanderer, Runaround Sue, Abraham, Martin and John) Donny Hathaway (The Ghetto, Pt. 1, Where Is the Love) Doris Day (Dream a Little Dream of Me; Que Sera Sera; Perhaps, Perhaps) Frankie Valli (Sherry, Walk Like a Man, Can’t Take My Eyes Off You) 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 Taylor (Five and Rain, Sweet Baby James, You’ve Got a Friend) Jimmy Cliff (Many Rivers to Cross, The Harder They Come, I Can See Clearly Now) John Fogerty (Bad Moon Rising, Fortunate Son, Proud Mary) John Lee Hooker (Boom Boom; One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer; Boogie Chillen) Led Zeppelin (Black Dog, Heartbreaker, Kashmir, Ramble On, Stairway to Heaven) The Band (The Weight, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down) 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) Martha Reeves and the Vandellas (Dancing in the Street, Nowhere to Run) Mavis Staples Merle Haggard (The Fugitive, The Bottle Let Me Down, Mama Tried) Muddy Waters (Got My Mojo Workin’, Mannish Boy, I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man, Rollin’ Stone) Al Green (Let’s Stay Together, Love and Happiness, Take Me to the River, Tired of Being Alone) Nancy Sinatra (These Boots are Made for Walkin’; Bang Bang) Neil Young (Cortez the Killer, Heart of Gold, Rockin’ in the Free World) Patti Smith (Gloria, Rock N Roll Nigger, Because the Night) Paul Rodgers (All Right Now, Bad Company, Can’t Get Enough) Ramones (Blitzkrieg Bop, I Wanna Be Sedated, Sheena Is a Punk Rocker) 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) 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) The Bangles (Walk Like an Egyptian, Manic Monday, Eternal Flame) 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 Drifters (Money Honey, Under the Boardwalk, Up on the Roof) The Police (Message in a Bottle, Every Breath You Take, Roxanne) 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 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) Tom Waits (New Coat of Paint, Downtown Train, Dirt in the Ground) 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) Wilson Pickett (In the Midnight Hour, Land of a 1,000 Dances, Mustang Sally)
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.