Tag Archives: Self-help; self-improvement; education; homeschooling

School in a Book: Mandarin Chinese Vocabulary

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.

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

Verbs

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

Time Words

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 Words

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

Direction and Location Words

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

Numbers and Money Words

1-10: Yi1, er4, san1, si4, wu3, liu4, qi1, ba1 jiu3 shi2
11: Shi2yi1
20: Er4 shi4
Hundred: Bai3
Thousand: Qian1
Ten thousand: Wan4
Million: Bai3 wan4
Billion: Yi4
1/10th yuen2: Yi1 jiao3
1/100th yuen: Yi1 fen1
To barter/exchange: Huan4
Passcode: Mi4 ma3
Number one: Yi1 yao4
1.00: Yi1 dian4 ling2 ling2
Money: Qian2
The cost: Jia4 ge2
Debit card: Jie4 ji4 ka1
Credit card: Xin4 yong4 ka3
Receipt: Shou1 ju4

Family Members

Husband: Zhang4 fu1; lao3 gong1
Wife: Qi1 zi; lao3 po2
Mother: Mu3 qian1; Ma1 ma
Father: Fu4 qian1; ba1 ba
Parents: Fu4 mu3 qian1
Son: Er2 zi
Daughter: Nu3 er2
Older brother: Ge4 ge
Younger brother: Di4 di
Older sister: Jie3 jie
Younger sister: Mei4 mei
Grandparents: Ye3 ye3 nai3 nai4
Grandmother (mom’s mom): Wai4 po2
Grandmother (dad’s mom):  Nai3 nai1
Grandfather (mom’s dad): Wai4 gong1
Grandfather (dad’s dad): Ye3 ye

Adjectives

Best: Zui4 hao3 de
Better: Geng4 hao3 de; bi (jian4) hao3 de
Worse/worst: Geng4 huai4 de; bi3 (jiao4) huai4 de; bi3 (jiao4) cha4 de
The same: Yi2 yang4 de
Different: Bu4 tong2 de
Big: Da4
Small: Xiao3
Clamorous: Da4 shan1
Loud: Chao3 nao4
Quiet/peaceful: An1 jing4 de
Old (people): Lao3
Old (things) jiu4
Young: Nian2 qing1 de
Weak: Ruo4 de; shou4 ruo4
Strong: (Qiang2) zhuang4 de
Heavy: Zhong4 de
Light: Qing1 de
Light/bright: Deng1
Soft: Ruan3 de
Hard: Ying4 de
Wet: Chao2 shi2 de; shi2 de
Dry: Gan1 (zao4) de
Clean: Gan1 jing4 de
Dirty: Zang1 de
True: Zhen1 de
False: Bu4 zhen1 de
Cheap: Pian2 yi4 de
Used: Er4 shou3 de; yong4 guo4 de
New: Xin1 de
Stinky: Chou4
Handsome: Ying1 jun4
Pretty: Piao4 liang4
Beautiful: Mei3 liang3
Broken: Sui4 le; lan4 de; huai4 de
Bright: Ming2 liang2 de; xing3 mu4 de
Dim: Bu4 liang2
Well-organized: Zu3 zhi1 de; zheng3 li2 de
Works well: Zuo2 de hen3 hao3
Doesn’t work: Mei2 zuo4
Happy: Gao1 xin1; kai1 xin1
Sad: Bei1 shang1; shang1 xin1 de
Hopeful/to hope: Xi1 wang4 (de)
Surprised: Chi1 jing1 de
Angry: Sheng1 qi4 de
Jealous: Du4 ji4
Afraid: Hai4 pa4
Excited: Xing4 fen4
Nervous: Jin3 zhang1 (DE??)
Worried: Dan1 xin1; zhao1 ji2
Embarrassed: Diu1 ren2; gan1 ga4
Bored: Wu2 liao3
Famous: Zhu4 ming2; you3 ming2
Popular: Liu2 xing2
Unpopular: Bu4 de ren2 xin1; bu4 luo3 xing2
Shy: Hai4 xiu1
Outgoing: Kai1 fang4
Nice: Hao3 de
Mean: Huai4 de
Friendly: You3 hao3 de
Scholarly: Hao4 xue2 de
Smart: Cong2 ming2 de
Stupid: Ben4 de
Rich: You3 qian2 de
Poor: qiong2
Funny: You3 mo2 de; hua1 ji4 de
Interesting: You3 qu4
Unique: Tu4 bie2 de
Ordinary/common: Pu2 tong1 de; ping2 chang2 de
Rare: Xi1 you3 de
Important: Zhong4 yao4
Complicated: Fu4 za2

Food Words

Food: Fan4; shi2 wu4
Fruit: Shui3 guo3
Vegetables: Shu1 cai4
Apple: Ping2 guo3
Banana: Xiang1 jiao1
Orange: Ju2 zi
Grape: Pu2 tao2
Carrot: Hu2 luo2 bo1
Peas: Wan1 dou4
Cucumber: Huang2 gua1
Spinach: Bo1 cai4
Broccoli: Ye1 cai4
Cabbage: Da4 bai2 cai4
Onion: Yang2 cong1
Corn: Bao1 gu3; yu2 mi3
Cauliflower: Hua1 cai4
Tomato: Xi1 hong2 shi4
Celery: Qin2 cai4
Green pepper: Qing1 jiao1
Red pepper: Tian2 jiao1 hong2 jiao1
Rice: Mi3 fan4; fan4
Noodles: Mian4 tiao2
Bread: Mian4 bao1
Chicken: Ji1 rou4; ji1
Fish: Yu2 rou4; yu2
Tofu: Dou4 fu1
Pork: Zhu1 rou4; zhu1
Egg(s): Ji1 dan4
Meat: Rou4
Beef: Niu3 rou4; niu3
Hamburger: Han4 bao3 bao1
Milk: Niu2 nai3
Alcohol: Jiu3
Beer: Pi2 jiu3
Wine: Jiu3
Potato: Tu3 dou4
Soy sauce: Jiang4 you3
Sauce: Jiang4
Oil: You2
Sugar: Tang3
Dessert: Tian2 shi2; tian2 dian3
Wheat: Mai4
Cookie: Bing3 gan1
Seafood: Hai3 xian1
Steak: Niu3 pai2
Beans: Dou4 li3; dou4
Shrimp: Xia1
Berry: Jiang1 guo3
Lettuce: Sheng1 cai4
Green vegetables: Qing1 cai4
Green beans: Ji1 dou4 ji1
Beverage: Yin3 liao4
Water: Shui3
Ice: Bing1
Sweet: Tian2 de
Salt: Yan2
Salty: Xian2 de
Spicy: La4 de
Sour: Suan1 de
Fresh: Xin1 xian4 de
Menu: Cai4 dan1
Fork: Cha1 zi
Knife: Dao1 zi
Spoon: Shao2 zi
Bowl: Wan3
Chopsticks: Kuai4 zi
Cup: Bei1 zi
Plate: Pan2 zi
Wok/pan: Ping2 guo1; guo1
Caffeine: Ka1 fei1 yin1
Coffee: Ka1 fei1
Decaf coffee: Two1 ka1 fei1 yin1 de ka1 fei1
Bottle: Yi4 ping2
Spices: Xiang1 liao4; tiao2 wei4 pin3
Cheese: Nai3 lao4
Pizza: Pi1 sa4
Snack: Dian3 xin1
Salad: Sha1 la1
Fast food: Kuai4 can1
Butter: Huang3 you2
A dish: Cai4
Soup: Tang2

Personal Effects

Pencil: Qian1 bi3
Pen: Bi3
Paper: Zhi3
Scissors: Bi3 ji4 ben3; ben3 zi
Tape: Zhao1 dai4
Computer: Dian4 zi3 (ji1 suan4 ji1)
Glue: jiao1 shui3
Map: Di4 tu3
Cards: Ka1 pian4
Letter: Xing4
Calendar: Ri4 li4
Stamp: You2 pian4
Envelope: Xin4 feng1
Cell phone:
Sign: Biao1
Light/lamp: Deng1
Clothes: Y2 fu2
Shirt: Chen4 shan1
Pants: Ku4 zi
Sweater: Mao3 yi1
Shoes: Xie4 zi
Skirt: Duan3 qun2; qun2 zi
Hat: Mao4 zi
Coat: Wai4 tao4
Socks: Wa4 zi
Underwear: Nei4 yi1; nei4 ku4; duan3 ku4
Bra: Wen2 xiong1; xiong1 zao4
Pajamas: Shui4 yi1
Shorts: Duan3 ku4
Jeans: Niu3 chang2 ku4
Blanket: Bei1 zi
Hairbrush: Shu1 zi
Comb: Shu1 zi
Handbag: Shou3 ti2 bao1
Purse: Qian2 bao1
Towel: Mao2 jin1
Shampoo: Xi3 fa1 shui3
Conditioner: Zhe1 li3 shui3
Soap: Xiang1 zao4; fei2 zao4
Lotion: Ying1 yang3 shuang1
Toothpaste: Ya2 gao1
Toothbrush: Ya2 shua1
Backpack:
Suitcase: Xiang1 zi; lu3 xing2 xiang3
Toilet paper: Ce4 zhi3
Garbage: La1 ji1
Garbage can: La1 ji1 xiang1
Air conditioner: Kong1 tiao2
Heater: Dian4 nuan3 qi4
Keys: Yao4 shi2
Batteries: Dian4 chi2
Clock: Zhong1
Camera: Zhao4 xiang4 ji1
Wallet: Qian2 bao1
Glasses: Yan3

Colors

Color: Yan2 se4
Red: Hong2 se4
Blue: Lan2 se4
Yellow: Huang2 se4
Green: Lu2 se4
Orange: Ju2 se4
Purple: Zi3 se4
Pink: Fen3 hong2 se4
Black: Hei1 se4
White: Bai2 se4
Gray: Hui1 se4
Brown: Zhong se4/ he1 se4
Silver: Yin2 se4
Gold: Jin1 se4

Body Parts

Body: Shen1 ti3
Head: Tou3
Mind: Si1 xiang3
Face: Lian3
Eyes: Yan3 jing1
Ears: Er3 duo1
Mouth: Kou3
Lips: Zui3 ba1
Nose: Bi2 zi
Hands: Shou3
Feet: Jiao3
Fingers: Shou3 zhi3
Toes: Jiao3 zhi3
Legs: Tui3
Arms: Shou3 bi4
Hair: Tou2 fa1
Back: Bei4
Neck: Bo2 zi
Skin: Pi2 fu1
Stomach: Du4 zi
Butt: Pi4 gu3
Poop: Fen4 bian4
Pee: Niao4

Travel Words

Car: Che1
Bus: Gong1 gong4 qi4 che1
Taxi: Chu1 zu1 che1
Motorcycle: Mo2 to2 che1
Plane: Fei1 ji1
Ship: Lun2 chuan2
Airport: Ji1 chang3
Bus station: Gong1 gong4 qui4 che1 zhan4
Train: Huo3 che1
Train station: Huo3 che1 zhan4
Bus stop: Gong1 gong4 qi4 che1 zhan4
Culture: Wen2 hua4
Foreign: Wai4 guo2
Foreigner: Wai4 guo2 ren2
To travel: Lu2 you2
Overseas/abroad: Hai3 wai4
Nation: Guo2 jia1; guo2 min2
Native language: Ben3 zu2 yu3
Trip/journey: Cheng2
Passenger: Cheng2 ke4
Hometown: Jia1 xiang1; ben3 guo2
Fare: Fei4 yong4
Hotel: Fan4 dian4; lu2 guan3

Places

Where: Zai4 na3 li3; nai4 nar3
Place: Di4 fang1
Supermarket: Chao1 shi4
Small market: Cai4 shi4 chang3; shang4 dian4
Park: Gong1 yuan2
Library: Tu2 shu1 guan3
Street: Jie1 dao4
Bank: Yin2 hang2
Hospital: Yi1 yuan4
Building: Jian4 zhu4
Elementary school: Xia3 xue2
Middle school: Zhong1 xue2
High school: Gao1 zhong1
College: Da4 xue
Gym: Jian4 shen1 fang2
City: Cheng2 shi4
Church: Jian4 tang2
Temple: Miao4
Post office: You3 ju2
Bar/nightclub: Jiu3 ba1
Movie theater: Dian4 ying3 yuan4
Theater: Ju4 yuan4
Outdoors: Wai4 mian4
Indoors: Li3 mian4
The zoo: Dong4 wu4 yuan1
Great Wall: Chang2 cheng2
Art museum: Bo4 wu4 guan3
Apartment building: Gong1 yu4

Rooms and Furniture

Room: Fang2 jian1
Bedroom: Fang2 jian1; wo4 shi4
Bathroom/toilet: Ce4 suo3
Kitchen: Chu1 fang2
Living room: Ke4 ting1
Dining room: Fan4 ting1
Bed: Chuang2
Window: Chuang1 (hu4)
Wall: Qiang2 bi4
Chair: Yi3 zi
Desk/table: Zhuo1 zi
Couch: Chang2 sha4 fa1
Pillow: Zhen3 tou2
Closet: Zha3 wu4 fang2
Door: Men2
Home/house: Jia1
Apartment: Fang2 zi

Nature Words

Weather: Tian1 qi4
Hot: Re4
Cold: Leng2
Warm: Nuan3 he de
Cool: Liang2 kuai4
Spring: Chun1 tian1
Summer: Xia4 tian1
Fall: Qiu1 tian1
Winter: Dong1 tian1
Sun: Tai4 yang2
Moon: Yue4 liang4
Stars: Xing1 xing1
Land: Lu4 di4; tu3
Sea/ocean: Hai3 yang2
Wind: Feng1
Rain: Yu3
Snow: Xue3
Clouds: Yun2
Cloudy: Yin1 tian1 de
Storm: Feng1 bao4
Grass: Cao3
Flower: Hua1
Tree: Shu4
Bush: Guan4 mu4 cong2
Nature: Zi4 ran2
River: He2 liu2
Lake: Hu2
Beach: Sha1 tan1
Mountain: Shan1
Fire: Huo3
Sunny: Qing2 lang3
Rainy: Xia4 yu3 de
Temperature: Wen1 du4
Animal: Dong4 wu4

Professions

Doctor: Yi1 sheng1
Nurse: Hu4 shi4
Waitress: Nu3 zhao1 dai4; fu2 wu4 guan2
Waiter: Nan2 zhao1 dai4
Salesperson/shopkeeper: Shou4 huo4 yuan2
Driver: Si1 ji1
Manager: Jin1 li3
Supervisor: Zhu2 guan3
School principal: Xiao4 zhang3
Cook: Chu2 shi1
Janitor: Men2 wei4
Writer: Zuo4 jia1
Secretary: Mi4 shu1
Librarian: Tu2 shu1 guan3 li3 yuan2
Scientist: Ke1 xue2 jia1
Soldier: Shi4 bing1
Journalist: Bao1 jie4
Minister: You2 di4 yuan2; mu4 shi1
Singer: Ge1 shou3
Artist: Yi4 shu4 jia1
Dancer: Wu2 dao3 jia1
President: Zong3 tong3
Government official: Gong1 wu4 yuan2
Tutor: Jiao1 jao4
Boss: Lao3 ban3
Interpreter: Fan1 yi4
Cashier: Shou1 ying2 yuan2
Garbage collector: qin1 jie3 gong1
Fireman:
Police officer:
Housekeeper/housewife: Bao3 mu2; (jia1 ting2) zhu2 fu4
Computer programmer:
Business owner:

Activity, Entertainment and Celebration Words

Game: You3 xi4
Sports/exercise: Yun4 dong4
Ball: Dan4; qui2
Basketball: Lan2 qui2
Football: Gan1 an1 qui2
Baseball: Lei qui2
Soccer: Zu2 qui2
Volleyball: Pai2 qui2
Ping-Pong: Ping1 pong1 qui2
Badminton: Yu3 mao1 qui2
Karate:
Competition: Bi4 sai4
Song: Ge1 qu3
Team: Huan2 dui4
To skate: Bing1 chang3
To see a movie: Kan4 dian4 ying3
Birthday: Sheng1 ri4
Christmas: Sheng4 dan4 jie2
New Year: Xin1 nian2
Spring Festival: Chun1 jie4
Happy birthday: Sheng1 ri4 kuai4 le
Merry Christmas:
Happy New Year: Xin1 nian1 kuai4 le
Congratulations: Zhu4 he4
Celebration: Qing4 zhu4
Holiday: Jia4 qi1
Vacation: Jia4 re4
Present/gift: Li3 wu4
Wedding: Hun1 li3
Funeral: Chu1 bin1

Sickness Words

Death: Si3
Life: Shen1 ming4
Sick: Bing4 le
Sickness: Ji2 bing4
Pills: Yao4 pian4
A cough: Ke2 sou4
A cold: Gan3 mao4
Fever: Fa1 shao1
Flu: Liu2 xing2 gan3 mao4
Stomachache: Du1 zi tong4
Headache: Tou2 tong4
?: Ban2
?: Shen1 bing4
To hurt/ache: Tong4
Allergy:
Tired: Lei4

Miscellaneous Words

Word: Zi4
Character: Xie1 zi4
New word: Sheng1 zi4; dan1 zi4
Sentence: Ju1 zi
Phrase: Ci2 zu3
Pronunciation: Fa1 yin1
Grammar: Yu2 fa3
Language: Yu3 yan2
Story: Gu4 shi4
Number: Hao4 ma3; hao4
Vocabulary:
Phone number: Dian4 hua4 hao4 ma3
Address: Di4 zhi3
Driver’s license: Jia4 shi2 zi2 zao4
Passport: Hu4 zao4
Age: Nian2 ji4
Literature: Wen2 xue2
Math: Shu4 xue2
History: LI4 shi3
Science: Zi4 yan2; ke1 xue2
Art: Yi4 shu4; mei3 shu4
Music: Yin1 yue4
Politics: Zheng4 zhi4
Government: Zheng4 fu3
Physical education: Ti3 yu4
Sign: Biao1 zhi4
Wood: Mu4 tou2
Plastic: Su4 liao4
Electricity: Dian4
Electric: Dian4 de
Machine: Ji1 qi4
Action/movement: Xing2 dong4
Problem: Wen4 ti3
Plan: Ji4 hua4
Idea/concept: Zhu2 yi4
Level: Shui2 ping1
List: Dan4 zi
Stress: Ya1 li4
Feelings/emotion: Gan3 jue2
Attitude: Tai4 du4
Mood: Qing2 xu4
Personality: Ge4 xing4
God: Shang4 di4
Classmate: Ton2 xue2
Relationship: Guan1 xi4
Friendship: You3 qing3

School in a Book: Chemistry

“So that’s what stuff is.” That’s an important thought. It could be a breakthrough moment in one’s education. Don’t underestimate young children’s ability to grasp many basic chemistry concepts, either; the earlier they start thinking about the big questions, the more interested and less intimidated they’ll be by them later on.

Like most other subjects, science is best learned through conversation. Experiments are great, too, but they’re not always necessary. If like me you have little kids who can’t yet handle close proximity to anything magnetic, explosive or filled with water, choose a few scientific concepts to talk about per day, and send the older kid to a more hands-on science class. (Video demonstrations, like those on YouTube, are great, too.)

That said, if you can manage it, there’s a huge number of great science project ideas out there, and hands-on stuff is definitely a great memory aid.

BASIC CHEMISTRY

Chemistry: The science of matter, including what it is and how it’s made

Chemical: Substance. This word is usually used when the chemical’s molecular structure and chemical properties are being discussed. Of course, the word “chemical” is also used to refer to inorganic, human-synthesized combinations of elements; however, this is a colloquial usage.

Matter: Anything that is made of particles, takes up space (has volume), and has mass. Matter is one of only two “things” in the universe. The other is energy.

Weight: A measure of the force of gravity on something. Weight changes relative to where in space an object is located; for example, a book weighs less on the moon than on the earth.

Mass: A measurement of something’s absolute heaviness (the amount of matter within it). Mass doesn’t change when the forces (such as the gravitational force) change. This is because mass is measured relative to the mass of one kilo of water. If this kilo of water were on the moon, and we compare it to a book, which is also on the moon, the number (plus or minus the kilo of water) is the same as it would be on Earth.

Density: The measurement of something’s mass per unit of volume. Dense objects are heavier than other, less dense objects that take up the same amount of space.

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

The three states of matter: Solid, liquid and gas

Solid: A substance with a definite shape and definite volume

Liquid: A substance with definite volume but a varying shape. This category includes gels and other plasma-like substances.

Gas: A substance without a definite shape or definite volume. Because there is a great deal of space between the molecules in gases, gases can be compressed. (However, sometimes, when gases are compressed too much, they turn into a liquid, such as liquid nitrogen.) Note that air is not a gas, but a mixture of gases. The various gases aren’t chemically bonded to each other, and can be separated without breaking any chemical bonds.

Atoms: The building blocks of molecules. Each atom is made up of a nucleus containing protons and neutrons with electrons spinning around the nucleus. They also contain other subatomic particles and a great deal of empty space. (The space between subatomic particles in an atom is relatively similar to the space between heavenly bodies in the universe.) Atom types are determined by their chemical properties, which are determined by the number of protons in the atom. Also, since each element contains only one type of atom, each atom type corresponds with one element type. Note that whereas molecules can be easily split through everyday chemical reactions, atoms require extraordinary amounts of energy to split them. This is called atomic fission, and it is the basis of nuclear power. Also note that a sheet of paper is about one million atoms thick.

Subatomic particles: The incredibly tiny pieces of matter that make up atoms. They include protons, neutrons, electrons, quarks, and more. They cannot be separated from each other without using extraordinary amounts of energy.

Nucleus: The center part of an atom

Protons: The positively charged parts of an atom. These are located inside the nucleus. The number of protons in an atom is what determines the atom’s chemical properties and, therefore, its type. An atom’s type corresponds with its element and its placement on the Periodic Table of Elements. For example, the oxygen atom has eight protons. Its atomic number is eight. When only oxygen atoms bond together, they create more of the oxygen substance. This substance is called the oxygen element, because it is the pure form of oxygen. When oxygen combines with other elements, its chemical properties change and it becomes part of a different kind of substance. 

Neutrons: The parts of an atom that contain no charge. These are located inside the nucleus.

Electrons: The negatively charged parts of an atom. These are located outside the nucleus and spin around it.

Quark: The most well-known of the indescribably small particles that make up protons and neutrons. Like other subatomic particles, its existence is theoretical, as it is not directly observable in any way. Its behaviors are described in theoretical physics.

Element: A substance that contains only one kind of atom

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

Molecule: Any chemically bonded group of atoms, whether atoms of the same type (which form an element) or atoms of different types (which form a compound). Molecule bonds can only be broken through chemical change. 

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. For example, a baked cake, whose molecular structure has changed through heat.

Mixture: A combination of ingredients that are not chemically bonded and can, therefore, be separated through physical means. For example, cake batter, which is a simple combination of ingredients that have not experienced molecular change.  

Periodic Table of the Elements: A chart listing each known element, organized by these elements’ atomic numbers

Atomic number: The number of protons in an atom, which indicates the atom’s chemical properties and, by extension, its substance type (element). The number of protons in an atom is the same as the number of electrons in an atom. 

Mass number: The total number of protons and neutrons in an atom

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.

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

Chemical formula: A combination of chemicals to form a substance, which is usually written using chemical symbols; for example, 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: The separating of 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 compound: A compound that includes 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.

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

Metal: An element or an alloy that is shiny in appearance; conducts heat and electricity; and remains solid at room temperature (except mercury). Some, like iron and nickel, are also magnetic. Note that the definition of the term “metal” is not exact, and changes as its application changes. Some non-metal elements become metals at very high temperatures.

Alloy: A mixture of two or more metals

Semiconductor: A semi-metal element

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 elements 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.

Soluble: Able to dissolve in liquid

Insoluble: Unable to dissolve in liquid

Solution: The liquid that results after dissolving something into it

Evaporation: Water vapor that is breaking free from the rest of the liquid

Condensation: The water vapor that collects back into drops on a solid. It comes from the air.

Water vapor: The gas that forms when water evaporates

Corrosion: The damaging chemical reaction that occurs when metal comes into contact with oxygen. The damage happens because oxide forms on the metal.

Acid: A chemical found in various substances that donates protons or hydrogen ions and/or accepts electrons. These chemicals taste sour when found in liquid solutions.

Base: A chemical found in various substances that accept protons from hydrogen ions. This can neutralize acids. Combining acids and bases produces water and salts.

pH: A measure of how acidic or basic a liquid substance is. A pH of 7 is neutral, containing no acid or base chemical. A pH higher than 7 indicates the presence of a base chemical and a pH lower than 7 indicates the presence of an acid chemical.

pH scale: The 14-point scale used to measure whether a liquid solution is basic, acidic or neutral

Endothermic reaction: A chemical process that absorbs heat

Exothermic reaction: A chemical process that emits heat

Oxidation: A chemical reaction in which oxygen is added, causing a substance to change in some way. An example is the presence of rust in metal exposed to water.

Reduction: A chemical reaction in which oxygen is removed

Oxidation-reduction (redux) reaction: A chemical reaction in which one substance undergoes reduction, causing another to undergo oxidation. This happens because the substance undergoing reduction donates electrons to the other substance.

School in a Book: Computer Science

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

Computer Hardware

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Virtualization: Hosting one or more remote OSs

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

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

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

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

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.).

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

Computer Programming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Computer Networks

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

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

COMPUTER SECURITY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

School in a Book: Social, Emotional and Life Management Skills

You probably already have 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 you haven’t quite nailed yet.

Note that this list does not include skills mentioned in other sections of this book or those generally possessed by people under the age of six, such as memorizing one’s address and phone number. My attempts at comprehensiveness, though well-meaning, are usually futile.

Life Management Skills

  • Managing time and tasks, including: creating short-term and long-term to-do lists; time-on-task estimating; padding time-on-task estimations; and breaking large projects into small steps
  • Keeping ongoing to-do lists and short-term goals lists, with steps to achieve those goals
  • Listing and working towards long-term life goals, dreams and plans
  • Managing money, including: budgeting, calculating interest, avoiding debt, calculating the highest affordable mortgage payment, saving for retirement, investing in the stock market, filing taxes and organizing financial records
  • Cleaning the home, including: washing laundry; washing dishes; dusting; cleaning the bathroom and more
  • Performing simple household maintenance tasks, including: changing lightbulbs; testing and changing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors; cleaning the roof and gutters; mowing the lawn; maintaining a yard; fixing leaky faucets and unclogging the toilet
  • Cooking and baking, including: two soups or stews; two stir-fry sauces; muffins; cakes; roasted chicken; and grilled steak
  • Organizing one’s living space
  • Learning basic self-defense techniques
  • Maintaining a car, including changing the oil, checking tire pressure, checking fluid levels and scheduling regular tire changes and other maintenance
  • Applying basic first aid skills, including CPR
  • Caring for children
  • Using public transportation
  • Sewing
  • Writing formal letters and emails
  • Typing
  • Memorizing emergency procedures in various settings, including knowledge of using a fire extinguisher
  • Maintaining good hygiene, nutrition and exercise habits
  • Preventing disease, including STDs
  • Using responsible and healthy sexual practices
  • Visiting doctors and dentists regularly
  • Purchasing a house
  • Holding family meetings
  • Maintaining safe and secure Internet practices, including an understanding of online source verification
  • Choosing and purchasing insurance for home, health and car
  • Gardening
  • Recycling, reusing and caring for the environment
  • Using the Microsoft Office suite and other important computer programs
  • Interviewing for jobs and job shadowing
  • Knowing federal and local laws
  • Driving a car
  • Avoiding addiction and understanding the effects of drugs and alcohol
  • Registering to vote and choosing who and what to vote for
  • Doing community service work
  • Planning and budgeting for trips
  • Planning and hosting parties
  • Traveling locally and globally, if possible
  • Using basic tools, including: hammers, screwdrivers, power drills, hand-held sanders, knives, pliers, wedges and wrenches
  • Doing home improvement projects: painting, building simple furniture items, installing hardware and more
  • Building a fire
  • Using a directional compass
  • Making a water filter with sand, rocks, clay and charcoal
  • Listening to educational podcasts and audiobooks
  • Memorizing important poems and passages
  • Writing longhand letters to friends
  • Making a family tree
  • Starting a small business
  • Holding a garage sale

Interpersonal Skills

  • Making friends
  • Cultivating healthy relationships
  • Communicating effectively, including: listening actively; restating the other person’s message; and calmly resolving conflict
  • Avoiding and de-escalating conflict
  • Using good eye contact
  • Using good manners
  • Shaking hands firmly
  • Projecting vocally when appropriate
  • Saying “no” without further explanation
  • Enforcing healthy boundaries and respecting the boundaries of others
  • Asking questions
  • Talking to strangers
  • Making casual conversation/small talk
  • Crafting a convincing and logical argument
  • Speaking in public
  • Telling a joke
  • Forgiving and apologizing first
  • Accepting and learning from other cultures, family types and gender identities
  • Responding to anger or unkindness without 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 (for example, “If you do that, I am not going to play with you right now,” or, “If you are rough with my toys, I will take them away”)

Self-Care Skills

  • Spending time alone
  • Engaging in long-term projects and hobbies
  • Labeling emotions
  • Separating fact from emotion
  • Using self-calming strategies like deep breathing
  • Doing self-guided cognitive therapy/reframing (writing down upsetting irrational thoughts and replacing them with rational ones)
  • Journaling about difficult memories and moments, then rewriting the story in a way that is healthy, helpful and self-compassionate
  • Maintaining healthy exercise and nutrition habits
  • Maintaining spiritual/grounding practices such as meditation (observing one’s own mind with nonjudgmental acceptance) and mindfulness (observing the present moment with nonjudgmental acceptance)

Personal Qualities to Develop

  • Love
  • Generosity
  • Healthy attachment
  • Respect for differences
  • Confidence
  • Dignity
  • Honesty
  • Humility
  • Morality
  • Loyalty/commitment
  • Hope, optimism and positivity
  • Personal responsibility
  • Willingness to work hard
  • Acceptance of hardship
  • Toughness and survivalism
  • Independence
  • Creativity/imagination
  • A sense of personal identity/uniqueness
  • Purpose
  • Cultivation of one’s best self

School in a Book: Geography

There are many ways to reliably embarrass yourself in life. One of them is to reveal your lack of knowledge of the whereabouts of continents, oceans, nations and cities. Of course, one of the easiest ways to commit locations to memory is to visit them, even briefly, so you can associate unique sights and other sensory experiences (even emotion) to a point on a map.

BASIC GEOGRAPHY

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.

Map projections: Distorted representations of the relative locations on Earth that allow for two-dimensional map making.

Mercator projection: The most famous map projection, which shows the far northern and southern areas of Earth as much larger than they are

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

Types of water bodies:

The six landforms of Earth: Mountains, hills, valleys, plateaus, plains, deserts

The seven continents (in order of size): Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, and Australasia/Oceania. Note that some people consider Asia and Europe as one continent that they refer to as Eurasia. Also note that the Middle East is considered part of Asia and is sometimes referred to as Asia Minor.

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

Important seas: The Mediterranean Sea; the Caspian Sea; the Gulf of Mexico

Important rivers: The Nile River (in Egypt); the Tigris and Euphrates rivers (in the Middle East); the Bosphorus and Dardanelles; the Yellow River and the Yangtzse River (in China); the Mississippi River (in the U.S.)

Important lakes: The Great Lakes [more]

Important mountains: Mt. Everest (the highest mountain) [more]Important mountain ranges: The Alps; the Andes; the Rockies; the Alpines; [more]

Important deserts: The Sahara Desert (in Africa); the Gobi Desert (in Mongolia and China); the Mojave Desert (in the U.S.); the Antarctic Desert (in Antarctica); the Arctic Desert (in the Arctic); and the Arabian Desert (in the Middle East)

The five climate 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)

Important world landmarks:

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 regions of the U.S.: The West Coast/West, the Southwest, the Midwest, the Southeast and the East Coast/Northeast

The approximate current number of countries in the world: 195

The approximate current population of the world: Eight billion

The three most populous nations: China, India and the United States

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

Largest country by area: Russian Federation

Smallest country by area and population: Vatican City

Country with the highest life expectancy: Japan

Country with the highest gross national product (GNP): The United States

How to read a map:

How to calculate time zone differences:

School in a Book: Art and Craft Skills

Like freedom and fun, creativity is an inborn need. If you haven’t discovered this need in yourself, it’s possible you haven’t yet found your medium. It’s also possible that this checklist of art and craft skills will pique your interest.

Fine Art Skills

  • Drawing: 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: wood, wax, stone, metal, clay and mixed media
  • Performance art: Dance, theater, music
  • Collage, fresco and mosaic
  • Conceptual and installation art
  • Multimedia art, including recycled material art

Applied Art Skills

  • Architecture
  • Carpentry/woodworking
  • Building (go-karts, playground structures, garden trellises, etc.)
  • Ceramics/pottery
  • Film making
  • Culinary art
  • Glass blowing
  • Lighting design
  • Landscape architecture
  • Graphic narratives/Comics/Cartooning
  • Photography
  • Printmaking
  • Fashion design
  • Model making
  • Collecting
  • Scrapbooking
  • Textile arts: Crocheting, sewing, knitting, macrame, weaving and more
  • Graphic design/electronic art (creating brochures, magazines, etc.)
  • Website creation
  • Digital printing
  • Video game creation

Easy Crafts for Children

  • Clay/Play-Doh modeling
  • Braiding and weaving
  • Making wrapping paper
  • Beading
  • Making bean-filled heat packs to heat in the microwave
  • Making greeting cards
  • Making bound books
  • Making Christmas ornaments
  • Weaving paper baskets
  • Making masks
  • Making paper chains
  • Making edible necklaces and Christmas strings with popcorn or apples
  • Making mobiles
  • Making hand and finger puppets
  • Making miniature villages or people from various materials
  • Plastic bag painting (putting paint and small objects in a plastic baggie and shaking)
  • Coloring
  • Stamping
  • Making leaf and hand prints and rubbings
  • Gluing and taping with recycled materials
  • Hole punching and tying string
  • Making egg carton treasure boxes
  • Making stick and popsicle stick art, such as a flower pots or a birdhouse

School in a Book: Classic Songs and Musical Artists

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.

Essential Classical Symphonies, Operas and Compositions

  • Toccata and Fugue, Johann Sebastian Bach (1600s)
  • The Brandenburg Concertos, Johann Sebastian Bach (1600s)
  • The Messiah, George Frideric Handel (1600s)
  • The Hallelujah Chorus, George Frideric Handel (1600s)
  • Moonlight Sonata, Ludwig van Beethoven (1700s)
  • Fur Elise, Ludwig van Beethoven (1700s)
  • The Magic Flute, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1700s)
  • The Marriage of Figaro, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1700s)
  • Don Giovanni, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1700s)
  • The Marriage of Figaro, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1700s)
  • The Four Seasons, Vivaldi (1700s)
  • Falstaff, Giuseppe Verdi (1800s)
  • The Barber of Seville, Gioachino Rossini (1800s)
  • Hungarian Dance No. 5, Johannes Brahms (1800s)
  • Spring Waltz, Frederic Chopin (1800s)
  • New World Symphony, Antonin Dvorak (1800s)
  • Peer Gynt Suite, Edvard Grieg (1800s)
  • Hebrides Overture, Mendelssohn (1800s)
  • Serenade, Symphony 8, Franz Shubert (1800s)
  • On the Beautiful Blue Danube Waltz, Johann Strauss (1800s)
  • Swan Lake, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1800s)
  • The Nutcracker, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1800s)
  • The 1812 Overture, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1800s)
  • Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves, Giuseppe Verdi (1800s)
  • The Ride of the Valkyries, Richard Wagner (1800s)
  • Carmen, Georges Bizet (1800s)
  • La Boeme, Giacomo Puccini (1800s and 1900s)
  • Madame Butterfly, Giacomo Puccini (1900s)
  • The Rite of Spring, Igor Stravinsky (1900s)
  • Peter and the Wolf, Sergei Prokofiev (1900s)
  • Glassworks, Philip Glass (1900s)
  • Interstellar, Hans Zimmer (1900s)
  • Time, Hans Zimmer (1900s)
  • Star Wars theme, John Williams (1900s)

Essential Folk Songs and Spirituals

  • The Star-Spangled Banner
  • America, the Beautiful
  • God Bless America
  • You’re a Grand Old Flag
  • The Air Force Song
  • The Marine’s Hymn
  • Auld Lang Syne
  • 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
  • Happy Birthday to You
  • 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?
  • 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

Essential Christmas Carols

  • Angels We Have Heard on High
  • Away in a Manger
  • Deck the Halls
  • Frosty, the Snowman
  • God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
  • Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
  • Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
  • Holly, Jolly Christmas
  • I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
  • I’ll Be Home for Christmas
  • I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas
  • It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
  • Jingle Bells
  • Joy to the World
  • Let It Snow
  • O Holy Night
  • Oh Come All Ye Faithful
  • Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  • Santa Claus Is Coming to Town
  • Silent Night
  • The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting)
  • The First Noel
  • The Twelve Days of Christmas
  • We Three Kings
  • We Wish You a Merry Christmas
  • What Child Is This?

Essential Children’s Songs and Rhymes

  • The Alphabet Song
  • Rock-a-Bye Baby
  • Ba Ba Black Sheep
  • Mary Had a Little Lamb
  • Hush, Little Baby
  • Skidamarink
  • Knees Up Mother Brown
  • Down by the Bay
  • The 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
  • The Ants Go Marching One By One
  • Row, Row, Row Your Boat
  • Humpty Dumpty
  • Five Little Monkeys
  • 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
  • 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
  • Where is Thumbkin?
  • Are You Sleeping, Brother John?
  • Five Little Ducks
  • There’s a Hole in the Bucket
  • Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
  • Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
  • I’m a Little Teapot
  • The Wheels on the Bus
  • Here is the Beehive
  • Ring Around the Rosey
  • Pat-a-Cake
  • Star Light, Star Bright
  • This Little Piggy Went to Market
  • Peter Piper

Essential Songs from Musicals

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

Essential Popular Artists

1920s, 30s and 40s

  • Billie Holiday (Blue Moon; God Bless the Child)
  • Doris Day (Dream a Little Dream of Me; Que Sera Sera; Perhaps, Perhaps)
  • Frank Sinatra (My Way; Fly Me to the Moon; New York, New York; That’s Life; I’ve Got the World on a String)
  • Bing Crosby (Christmas album; Swingin’ on a Star; Let Me Call You Sweetheart)
  • Sammy Davis Jr. (I’ve Gotta Be Me; Candy Man)

1950s and 60s

  • Elvis Presley (Can’t Help Falling in Love; Love Me Tender; Blue Suede Shoes; Hound Dog; Jailhouse Rock; Don’t Be Cruel; All Shook Up)
  • Otis Redding (I’ve Been Loving You too Long [to Stop Now]; [Sittin’ on] the Dock of the Bay; Try a Little Tenderness; I’ve Got Dreams to Remember)
  • Bill Withers (Just the Two of Us; Lean on Me; Ain’t No Sunshine)
  • Ella Fitzgerald (Cheek to Cheek; Dream a Little Dream of Me; It Don’t Mean a Thing [If It Ain’t Got That Swing])
  • Nina Simone (I Ain’t Got No/I Got Life; Sinnerman; I Put a Spell on You)
  • Etta James (At Last; Something’s Got a Hold on Me)
  • B.B. King (The Thrill Is Gone; Every Day I Have the Blues)
  • Louis Armstrong (What a Wonderful World; Cheek to Cheek; Unforgettable)
  • Miles Davis (Blue in Green; So What)
  • John Coltrane (A Love Supreme, Parts 1-4; Naima)
  • Duke Ellington (It Don’t Mean a Thing [If It Ain’t Got That Swing])
  • Muddy Waters (Mannish Boy)
  • Sam Cooke (A Change Is Gonna Come; What A Wonderful World/Don’t Know Much About History)
  • John Lee Hooker (Boom Boom)
  • Chuck Berry (Johnny B. Goode; No Particular Place to Go; Maybelline; Roll Over Beethoven; Sweet Little Sixteen; You Never Can Tell)
  • Bobby Darin (Dream Lover)
  • Buddy Holly (Everyday; That’ll Be the Day; Peggy Sue)
  • Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers (Why Do Fools Fall in Love)
  • Frankie Valli (Big Girls Don’t Cry; Walk Like a Man; Can’t Take My Eyes Off You)
  • Jackie Wilson (Lonely Teardrops; [Your Love Keeps Lifting Me] Higher and Higher)
  • Jerry Lee Lewis (Great Balls of Fire; Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On)
  • Patsy Cline (I Fall to Pieces; Walkin’ After Midnight; Crazy)
  • The Drifters (Under the Boardwalk; Save the Last Dance for Me)
  • The Everly Brothers (All I Have to Do Is Dream; Bye Bye Love; Wake Up Little Susie)
  • Four Tops (Reach Out [I’ll Be There]; I Can’t Help Myself [Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch]; Baby I Need Your Loving; Walk Away Renee)
  • The Isley Brothers (Shout, Parts 1 and 2; This Old Heart of Mine [Is Weak for You])
  • The Righteous Brothers (Unchained Melody; You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’)
  • The Ronettes (Be My Baby)
  • Fats Domino (Blueberry Hill)
  • The Shirelles (Mama Said; Will You Love Me Tomorrow)
  • The Spencer Davis Group (Gimme Some Lovin’)
  • The Staple Singers (I’ll Take You There; Respect Yourself; Let’s Do It Again)
  • The Supremes/Diana Ross (Baby Love; Where Did Our Love Go; Stop! In the Name of Love; You Keep Me Hanging On; You Can’t Hurry Love; I Hear a Symphony)
  • The Temptations (My Girl)
  • Roy Orbison (Only the Lonely; Oh, Pretty Woman)
  • Little Richard (Good Golly, Miss Molly; Tutti Frutti; Long Tall Sally)
  • Dion (Teenager in Love, The Wanderer, Runaround Sue, Abraham, Martin and John)
  • Paul Anka (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)
  • Wilson Pickett (In the Midnight Hour; Land of a 1,000 Dances; Mustang Sally)

1970s

  • The Beatles (All You Need is Love; Come Together; Hey, Jude; Let It Be; Yesterday; Yellow Submarine; Ticket to Ride; While My Guitar Gently Weeps; With a Little Help From My Friends)
  • John Lennon (In My Life; Strawberry Fields Forever; Imagine; Happy Christmas [War Is Over])
  • Aretha Franklin (Respect; [You Make Me Feel Like a] Natural Woman; Chain of Fools; I Say a Little Prayer)
  • Bob Dylan (Like a Rolling Stone’ Blowing in the Wind; Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door; Mr. Tambourine Man; The Times They Are a-Changin’)
  • Cat Stevens (Wild World; Morning Has Broken; Cat’s in the Cradle; Where Do the Children Play; Blowin’ in the Wind)
  • John Denver (Take Me Home, Country Roads; Annie’s Song; Rocky Mountain High; Home Grown Tomatoes)
  • Willie Nelson (On the Road Again; Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys; Always on My Mind)
  • Johnny Cash (Ring of Fire; I Walk the Line; Hurt)
  • Simon and Garfunkel (Bridge Over Troubled Water; Scarborough Fair; Mrs. Robinson; The Sound of Silence)
  • Peter, Paul and Mary (Puff the Magic Dragon; Blowin’ in the Wind; If I Had a Hammer; Lemon Tree; We Shall Overcome; Leaving on a Jet Plane)
  • The Carpenters (We’ve Only Just Begun; Close to You; Yesterday Once More; Rainy Days and Mondays)
  • The Grateful Dead/Jerry Garcia (Workingman’s Dead; Uncle John’s Band)
  • The Jimi Hendrix Experience/Jimi Hendrix (All Along the Watchtower; Purple Haze)
  • Janis Joplin (Me and Bobby McGee; Piece of My Heart; Summertime)
  • Joni Mitchell (Both Sides Now; Help Me; Big Yellow Taxi)
  • The Doors/Jim Morrison (Light My Fire; People Are Strange; Riders on a Storm; Break on Through to the Other Side)
  • The Eagles (Hotel California; The Long Run; Take It Easy)
  • The Byrds (Mr. Tambourine Man; Turn! Turn! Turn!)
  • James Taylor (Five and Rain; Sweet Baby James; You’ve Got a Friend; Carolina in My Mind)
  • Neil Young (Cortez the Killer; Rockin’ in the Free World; Sugar Mountain)
  • Credence Clearwater Revival (CCR) (Have you Ever Seen the Rain?; Bad Moon Rising; Proud Mary; Who’ll Stop the Rain; Down on the Corner)
  • Lou Reed (Walk on the Wild Side; Perfect Day)
  • Sonny and Cher (I Got You Babe)
  • The Beach Boys (California Girls; Surfin’ USA; I Get Around; Good Vibrations)
  • The Jackson 5 (I Want You Back)
  • Nancy Sinatra (These Boots are Made for Walkin’; Bang Bang)
  • Joe Cocker (With a Little Help From My Friends; You Are So Beautiful)
  • Al Green (Let’s Stay Together; Love and Happiness; Take Me to the River)
  • Curtis Mayfield (People Get Ready; Superfly)
  • James Brown (Get Up [I Feel Like Being a] Sex Machine; I Got You [I Feel Good])
  • Elvis Costello ([What’s So Funny About] Peace, Love and Understanding)
  • Marvin Gaye (Let’s Get It On; I Heard It Through the Grapevine; Ain’t No Mountain High Enough; Mercy Mercy Me)
  • Sam & Dave (Soul Man)
  • Sly and the Family Stone (Hot Fun in the Summertime; Family Affair)
  • Smokey Robinson and The Miracles (Cruisin’; You Really Got a Hold on Me)
  • Kool and the Gang (Jungle Boogie)
  • Gloria Gaynor (I Will Survive)
  • Bee Gees (Stayin’ Alive)

1980s

  • Barbra Streisand (The Way We Were; You Don’t Bring Me Flowers; Don’t Lie to Me)
  • Bette Midler (From a Distance; I Think It’s Gonna Rain Today; Wind Beneath My Wings)
  • Billy Joel (Piano Man; New York State of Mind; We Didn’t Start the Fire)
  • Bob Marley (Don’t Worry Be Happy; Three Little Birds; I Shot the Sheriff; One Love)
  • Bruce Springsteen (Born in the U.S.A.; Dancin’ in the Dark; Streets of Philadelphia)
  • Cyndi Lauper (Girls Just Want to Have Fun; True Colors; Time After Time)
  • David Bowie (Ziggy Stardust; Let’s Dance)
  • Dolly Parton (I Will Always Love You; 9 to 5)
  • Gladys Knight (Midnight Train to Georgia; I Heard It Through the Grapevine)
  • Guns N’ Roses/Axl Rose (Paradise City; Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door; Welcome to the Jungle; November Rain)
  • Kenny Rogers (The Gambler)
  • Moody Blues (Nights in White Satin)
  • Jimmy Cliff (I Can See Clearly Now)
  • Madonna (Vogue; Like a Virgin; Material Girl; Like A Prayer)
  • Pink Floyd (Money; Another Brick in the Wall Part 2)
  • Prince (Kiss; 1999; Purple Rain)
  • Queen/Freddie Mercury (We Will Rock You; We Are the Champions; Bohemian Rhapsody; Another One Bites the Dust)
  • The Ramones (Blitzkrieg Bop; Sheena Is a Punk Rocker)
  • Luther Vandross (Love the One You’re With)
  • Lionel Richie (Easy; Stuck On You)
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd (Sweet Home Alabama)
  • Led Zeppelin (Stairway to Heaven)
  • Michael Jackson (Thriller; Bad; Black and White; We Are the World; Billie Jean)
  • The Bangles (Walk Like an Egyptian, Manic Monday; Eternal Flame)
  • Steppenwolf (Born to Be Wild; Magic Carpet Ride)
  • Stevie Nicks (Talk to Me)
  • Stevie Wonder (I Just Called to Say I Love You; Isn’t She Lovely; Signed, Sealed, Delivered)
  • The Animals (Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood; The House of the Rising Sun)
  • The Clash (Rock the Casbah; London Calling; Should I Stay or Should I Go)
  • Neil Diamond (Sweet Caroline)
  • Roxette (She’s Got the Look)
  • The Rolling Stones ([I Can’t Get No] Satisfaction; Paint It Black; You Can’t Always Get What You Want)
  • The Police (Message in a Bottle; Every Breath You Take; Roxanne)
  • The Who (Baba O’Riley; I Can See For Miles; Won’t Get Fooled Again)
  • Tina Turner (What’s Love Got to Do With It; Proud Mary, Simply the Best)
  • Journey (Don’t Stop Believin’)
  • Nat King Cole (Unforgettable; When I Fall in Love; Mona Lisa)
  • Natalie Cole (Unforgettable; This Will Be [An Everlasting Love])
  • Ray Charles (Georgia on My Mind; Night & Day; Hit the Road, Jack; I Got a Woman)
  • Tony Bennett (Fly Me to the Moon; I Left My Heart in San Francisco)
  • Diana Ross (I’m Coming Out; Endless Love)
  • Van Morrison (Brown Eyed Girl; Gloria [Them])

1990s

  • Whitney Houston (I Will Always Love You; Greatest Love of All; I Have Nothing)
  • Celine Dion (The Power of Love; My Heart Will Go On)
  • Eric Clapton (Tears in Heaven; Wonderful Tonight)
  • Elton John (Can You Feel the Love Tonight; Rocket Man)
  • Eminem (Slim Shady; Without Me; Not Afraid; Godzilla)
  • Mariah Carey (I Don’t Wanna Cry; Hero; Vision of Love; Emotions)
  • Nirvana/Kurt Cobain (Smells Like Teen Spirit; Come As You Are)
  • U2/Bono (Beautiful Day; With or Without You)
  • Alanis Morissette (Ironic)
  • Phil Collins (Another Day in Paradise; In the Air Tonight)
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers (Under the Bridge)
  • Snoop Dogg (Gin and Juice; Drop It Like It’s Hot)
  • Jay Z (Forever Young)

2000s

  • Beyonce (Crazy in Love; If I Was a Boy)
  • Adele (Hello; Someone Like You)
  • Amy Winehouse (Rehab; Back to Black)
  • John Legend (Glory; All of Me; Ordinary People)
  • Lil Wayne (Lollipop; How to Love)
  • Drake (One Dance; Forever)

School in a Book: Physical Education and Recreation Skills

No one is saying you need to become an all-star. But learning the basics of a wide variety of sports helps you understand your options and, almost certainly, find something you will enjoy long-term.

For each of the activities below, 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 Skills

TEAM SPORTS

  • Volleyball
  • Soccer
  • Baseball/Softball
  • Football
  • Basketball
  • Hockey
  • Badminton
  • Tennis
  • Pickleball
  • Cricket
  • Polo
  • Lacrosse

SOLO AND TWO-PERSON SPORTS

  • Swimming
  • Running
  • Biking
  • Roller skating
  • Ice skating
  • Hiking
  • Camping
  • Water skiing
  • Wake boarding
  • Surfing
  • Sailing
  • Rafting
  • Snorkeling
  • Pool diving
  • SCUBA diving
  • Kayaking/canoeing/rowing
  • Snow skiing
  • Snowboarding
  • Sledding
  • Dance (including square dancing, line dancing, ballet, jazz, tap, swing, ballroom, rumba, hip hop, salsa, and tango)
  • Parkour
  • Yoga
  • Rock climbing
  • Martial arts (Jiu Jitsu, Tae Kwon Do, karate, MMA and more)
  • Weight lifting
  • Wrestling
  • Skateboarding
  • Golf
  • Frisbee
  • Frisbee golf
  • Gymnastics
  • Trampolining
  • Aerobatics
  • Table tennis/ping pong
  • Foosball
  • Wiffleball
  • Raquetball
  • Squash/hardball
  • Handball/wallball
  • Canyoneering
  • Fishing
  • Hunting
  • Shooting
  • Archery
  • Horseback riding
  • Rodeo sports
  • Hang gliding
  • Paragliding
  • Kite flying
  • Parachuting
  • Auto racing
  • ATV riding
  • Snowmobiling
  • Motorcycling
  • Dune buggying
  • Go-kart racing

YARD GAMES

  • Hide and Seek
  • Capture the Flag
  • Tag
  • Sardines
  • Dodgeball
  • Kick the Can
  • Obstacle Courses
  • Keep Away
  • Scavenger hunts
  • Jump roping

School in a Book: Biology and Genetics

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

Seven characteristics of living things: Respiration (usually air respiration); reproduction; movement; digestion of both water and nutrients); metabolism; death; and cell-based structure.

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

Scientific name: Official name of an animal or plant. This is usually in Latin and made up of the genus and species names, but sometimes also contains the name of the sub-species.

Classification/taxonomy: The organizing of things into groups according to their shared features

The eight levels of the taxonomy of living things: Domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species. (Many species are also divided into subspecies called races, breeds or varieties.)

Species: The taxonomic level at which all the members can mate and reproduce offspring of their kind

The two domains of living things: Prokaryota and eukaryota

Prokaryote: A living thing whose cells have nucleuses. (The plural form is prokaryota.)

Eukaryote: A living thing whose cells do not have nucleuses. (The plural form is eukaryota.) 

The five kingdoms of living things: Bacteria, archaea, fungi, protistas, plantae and animalia

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

Archaea:

Fungi: Living things that lack chlorophyll and feed on living and dead things, including mold, yeast and mushrooms. Fungi are not plants, but they are plant-like. They grow in damp, dark places. Some fungi are helpful, as yeast and cheese mold. Others are poisonous to animals and plants.

Protistas:

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)

X characteristics of plants: A living thing that gets energy from the sun,

3 characteristics of animals: A distinct orientation (i.e., a top and a bottom); symmetry; mobility; and a reliance on living, biological organisms for energy. Note that mobility is different from movement in that it is wider in range. For example, a plant may move closer to the light and grow roots, but it doesn’t wholly move and the movement takes a long time and is distance limited.

The human taxonomy: Domain: eukaryota; kingdom: animalia; phylum: chordata (since they have a stiff rod that supports the body); class: mammalia; order: primates; family: Hominidae; genus: Homo; species: Homo sapiens.

Habitat: The natural environment in which a species lives and thrives

Life cycle: The stages of growth and development of living things. This is different for different species; for example, frogs have a tadpole stage and caterpillars have a cocoon stage.

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

Male: Boy offspring; fertilizes the egg

Female: Girl offspring; produces the egg(s) and sometimes births the offspring

Sexual reproduction: Reproduction involving two parents, one male and one female

Asexual reproduction: Reproduction involving only one parent. Algae, mosses and some ferns use asexual reproduction because they don’t have flowers. Other ferns alternate using 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.

Fertilization: Adding DNA to the egg that starts its growth

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

Fertilization/conception: The union of a human egg (ovum) and sperm, usually occurring in the fallopian tube of the mother after sex

Embryo: The newly conceived form of life between the fertilized egg (zygote) stage and the fetus stage

Fetus: The unborn baby who is past the embryonic stage (about nine weeks into the pregnancy)

Ovulation: The release of eggs from the ovaries

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

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.

Excretion: The elimination of metabolic waste

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

Decomposition: The natural erosion of dead organic materials

Dormant: Still alive but not actively growing; for example, a seed. 

Germination: The waking up of a dormant seed

Metabolism: The set of life-sustaining chemical reactions in organisms

Internal respiration: The movement of oxygen from the outside environment to the cells within tissues, and the transport of carbon dioxide in the opposite direction.

Aerobic respiration: Internal respiration that uses oxygen

Anaerobic respiration: Doesn’t use oxygen

Cell respiration:

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.

Meiosis:

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

Enzymes: Macromolecular biological catalysts. Enzymes accelerate chemical reactions.

Thermogenesis: The process of heat production in organisms

ATP: Adenosine triphosphate, an organic chemical that provides energy to drive many processes in living cells, e.g. muscle contraction, nerve impulse propagation, and chemical synthesis.

Basal metabolic rate (BMR): The rate of energy expenditure per unit time by an animal at rest

Calorie/kilocalorie: A unit of energy. A calorie is the amount of heat energy needed to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius at a pressure of one atmosphere, and the kilocalorie is the heat energy required to raise the temperature of one kilogram (rather than a gram) of water by one degree Celsius.

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

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

Extinction: The dying out of a species

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 asteroid hitting the earth.

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

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

BASIC GENETICS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GMO: Genetically modified organism

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

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

Hybrid: Subspecies made by crossing two species

School in a Book: Botany and Zoology

Ahhhh … smell that fresh air. That’s the smell of you on a walk in a park with your kids, naming the trees and flowers you pass, then explaining sexual versus asexual reproduction.

BASIC BOTANY

The eight 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 green plants use to make food from sunlight. 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.

Root: The part of a plant that absorb water and nutrients from the ground and anchor the plant

The four parts of a root: The primary root, the secondary roots, root hairs, and the root cap

The four 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 (example: ivy); prop roots (example: a carrot)

Stem: The part of a plant that transports nutrients. Stems include trunks, vines and central points of grasses.

Leaf: The part of a plant that makes food. 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.

The three 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

Vascular tissue: The part of a plant that carries food and water throughout leaves, stems and roots

Bark: The 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 which can no longer transport water

Sapwood: The newer rings of the tree which can still transport water

Annual ring: A single layer of thickening of a tree trunk, which takes one year to form

Seed: The part of a plant that holds the embryo. Seeds can grow in the dark because they get their energy from their energy storage, not from the sun.

The three parts of a seed: An embryo, a food supply and a protective coat.

Seedling: A small, newly-grown plant whose seed structure is still visible. Seedlings grown in the dark are different from those grown in the light. They grow taller to seek light, but are often weaker structurally.

Flower: The part of the plant that enables reproduction by containing male and/or female sex cells (gametes). Some plants contain both types of flowers and do not need to cross-pollinate with others. Others have only the male or female flowers, and need to be cross-pollinated with another plant of their genus or species.

Petal: The part of the plant that produces nectar to attract insects needed for pollination

Stamen: The male part of the flower, which contains pollen

Pistil/carpel: The female part of the flower, which contains ovules and can trap pollen

Anthers: The male part of the plant, which makes pollen

Ovaries: The female part of flower, which contains eggs that are pollinated by anthers, then grow into fruit, which in turn produce seeds

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

Cone: The part of a conifer tree that hold the seeds. Cones 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.

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

The five types of plants, in terms of their lifecycles: 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)

Tropism: A plant “sense”

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

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

Phototropism: The ability of a plant to sense light

Thigmotropism: The ability of a plant to sense touch

Deciduous tree: A tree that loses its leaves each year

Evergreen tree: A tree that does not shed its leaves all at once. Evergreens have tough, waxy leaves (needles) that don’t lose as much water as regular leaves.

Angiosperm: A plant that produce flowers

Gymnosperm: A plant that does not produce flowers; instead, they have naked seeds on their leaves

Hydrophyte: A plant that grows in water. These include algae, seaweed, lily pads and more.

BASIC ZOOLOGY

The nine 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

The three main 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 that can regulate its body temperature

Cold-blooded: 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

The four 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.

Two 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

Echo location: The ability of some animals, such as bats, to locate solid objects by emitting sound and hearing the echo come back to them

School in a Book: Spanish Vocabulary

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).

Greetings

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

Almost-Free Words

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

Exclamations

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

Small Words

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

Verbs

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

Descriptions

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

People and Animals

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

Things

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

Numbers

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

Days and Months

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

Question Words

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

Colors

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

Places

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

Body Parts

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

Foods and Drinks

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

Restaurant Words

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

Directions

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

Times

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

Amounts

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

Money Words

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

Nature Words

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

Medical Words

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

Travel Words

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

Miscellaneous Words

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

“The Spanish Backyard” Story and Game

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

School in a Book: Music

You’ve heard the term “music appreciation.” While appreciation classes vary widely, they usually cover a historical overview of the subject, a sampling of the subject in question, plus a smattering of basic terms and technical knowledge–exactly the sort of overview this book seeks to offer. (Samplings can be found in the Resources section of this book.)

BASIC MUSIC

Orchestra: A large group of musicians playing together on a variety of instruments, usually representing all four instrument families

The four families of instruments in an orchestra: Woodwind, strings, brass and percussion

Woodwind instruments: Instruments made of wood whose sounds come from the player’s vibrating breath as it moves through it. Woodwind vibrations are caused by a reed in the instrument.

Stringed instruments: Instruments whose sounds come from the movement of strings

Brass instruments: Instrument made of brass whose sounds come from the player’s vibrating breath as it moves through it. Brass instrument vibrations are caused by the player’s lips.

Percussion instruments: Instruments whose sounds come from a player hitting, scraping or shaking it Note that a piano is both a wind and a percussion instrument.

The four main vocal ranges, highest to lowest: Soprano, alto, tenor and bass

Octave: The collection of notes between two successive notes of a kind (e.g. the notes between middle C and the C following it). Each octave is double the frequency of the one below it in the scale.

Scale: The collection of notes that make up one or more octaves in the same key

Key: The use of scale in actual music, named for its first note. Most musical pieces are produced in a single key, with all of their notes coming from that key’s notes.

Tone: A sound produced due to a single frequency

Pitch: A note’s perceived sound frequency, which might be slightly higher or lower than its tone

Note: A notation representing the pitch and duration of a musical sound

The four main types of music notes: Whole, half, quarter, eighth

Flat: A lowering of a note’s pitch by a semitone

Sharp: A raising of a note’s pitch by a semitone

Rythmn: Music’s pattern in time

Beat: A individual unit of time that, with others, forms a rhythm; the basic unit of measurement of a rhythm

Tempo: The overall speed of a piece of music

Harmony: The sound of two or more notes heard simultaneously

Resonance: The amplification or expansion of a sound

Timbre: A subjective description of a sound’s quality or uniqueness; the various qualities of a sound that make it recognizable. For example, Whitney Houston’s voice is different from Bette Midler’s voice due to many variations in smoothness, roughness, lightness, intensity and more.

Accent: A momentary emphasis or stress on a particular note or rhythmic detail

Crescendo: A growing sound

Forte: A louder, stronger sound

Encore: The return to the stage of a performer for an additional, unlisted piece

Mezzo: Halfway, as in mezzo forte (half loud) and mezzo soprano

Staccato: A briefer, more detached sound

Legato: A drawn out sound

Reprise: A repeated section

Movement: A segment of a piece of music that is set apart in some way from the rest of the piece. A movement is often performed separately, and named separately, from the larger work.

Aria: A segment of a piece of music that is written for one voice, usually with orchestral accompaniment and set apart in some way from the rest of the piece

Overture: The orchestral introduction to a musical composition. An overture also serves as a piece in its own right.

Coda: A piece’s tail or closing section

Acoustic music: Music that is produced by instruments rather than by electronics

Virtuoso: A performer of exceptional ability or artistry

Music synthesizer: A computer-run machine that generates electronic sounds and modifies sound input in a variety of ways

Amplifier/amp: An electronic device that works with a mechanical loudspeaker, turning low voltage signals into higher ones that can be heard over the speakers

Bass speaker/woofer: A loudspeaker designed to produce high voltage low frequency sounds

Music History

Prehistoric music: In prehistoric times, early hominids and humans sang, hummed and whistled. Later, they made flutes and pipes out of bone and percussion instruments out of wood and rocks.

Music of ancient times: In ancient times, as today, music was used for entertainment, celebration and spiritual reasons.The oldest known song, as well as the first known musical notation, was written in cuneiform, indicating the importance of music to early civilizations. Greek music included double pipes, the double-reed aulos, a plucked string instrument, the lyre, mixed-gender choruses and more. Roman music included harps, lyres and trumpets and featured simple melodies without harmony.

Music of the Middle Ages: In medieval times in Europe, many of the musical advancements were made by Roman Catholics in monasteries and abbeys. Though the human voice was still central to most works, a wider range of wind, brass and percussion instruments came into use during this time. Complex music was viewed as an exclusive art form and usually performed for religious purposes.

Plainchant: A type of religious music in which sacred texts are sung in a monophonic manner with minimal instrumental accompaniment

Gregorian Chant: A more elaborate type of medieval religious chant, possibly developed by Pope Gregory. It is known for the haunting sound of the open, perfect fifth and its move toward polyphony.

Polyphony: The use of complex vocal melodies and harmonies

Monophony: The use of simple, single-line melodies without harmony

Renaissance music: The music from a golden period in music history from approximately 1400 to 1600 when musical conventions were challenged, opera was created, a polyphonic style was developed, and the four families of instruments were established. During this time, music moved from an exclusive, religion-centered art to an art of the people, appreciated and created everywhere.

Opera: A vocalist-central form of classical music which was established late in the Renaissance and peaked during the Classical period. Operas feature solo singers accompanied by orchestras.

Baroque music: An ornate musical style that began with the creation of opera around 1600 and flourished until the mid-1700s. Featuring multiple simultaneous melody lines, baroque’s challenging technical elements enabled musicians to display the full extent of their talents.

Music of the Classical period: The sleeker, more singable, less ornate and less contrasting music that began in the mid-1700s until being surpassed by the romantic style in the mid-1800s. Many Classical pieces feature the early piano instead of the harpsichord, which significantly altered their effect.

Music of the Romantic period: The emotional, dramatic music from approximately 1850 to 1900. Romantic music was more experimental and more contrasting than classical music and often made use of a larger orchestra.

Music of modern times: The music from the year 1900 and beyond, which evolved from two disparate forms: folk and classical. Modern music often includes choruses and verses, easily singable melodies and a single vocalist. However, it also often incorporates a variety of instruments, complex harmonies and other creative elements, such as electronic sound.

Important modern musical genres: Country, folk, electronic music, funk, hip hop, jazz, Latin, pop, punk, reggae, rock, metal, soul, R&B, polka, classical, modern classical/instrumental, world, big band and religious music

Important Baroque era composers: Bach, Handel and Vivaldi

Important Classical period composers and works: Mozart and Beethoven

Important Romantic era composers and works: Tchaikovsky, Schumann, Chopin, Brahms, Verdi and Wagner

The influence of Mozart: Mozart was extremely versatile, creating masterful music in every popular genre of his time

The influence of Beethoven: Beethoven redefined and refined classical music and bridged the gap between the Classical period and the Romantic period

School in a Book: Classic Literature: Children’s

The School in a Book curriculum isn’t just for adults. As soon as children can follow a simple plot, they can begin booking it down this list. They can also enjoy adapted versions of many of the books for adults–even the Iliad and the Odyssey. (I also discuss with them many of the simpler concepts in the science lists.)

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.)

By the way, shortcut-takers like me can scout out fun video versions of these stories on YouTube and elsewhere on the internet. Sometimes, I cue up five or six and pat myself on the back for providing my young children with such a great educational head start.

Essential Classic Children’s Stories

Essential Classic Children’s Books

Essential Classic Middle Grade Books

  • The Wrinkle In Time series, Madeleine L’Engle
  • The Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling
  • The Encyclopedia Brown series, Donald J. Sobol
  • The Ramona series, Beverly Cleary
  • The Nancy Drew series
  • The Anne of Green Gables series, Lucy Maud Montgomery
  • The Chronicles of Avonlea series, Lucy Maud Montgomery
  • The Chronicles of Narnia series, C.S. Lewis
  • Harriet the Spy, Louise Fitzhugh
  • A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
  • A Little Princess, Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
  • Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll
  • Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
  • Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White
  • Heidi, Johanna Spyri
  • Peter Pan, James Barrie
  • Peter and Wendy, James Barrie
  • Pinocchio, Carlo Collodi
  • Pipi Longstocking, Astrid Lindgren
  • The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • The Little House on the Prairie, Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
  • Stuart Little, E.B. White
  • The Trumpet of the Swans, E.B. White
  • The Boys’ Book of Survival, Guy Campbell
  • The Dangerous Book for Boys, Conn and Hal Iggulden
  • The Daring Book for Girls, Andrea J. Buchanan and Miriam Peskowitz
  • Jacob Have I Loved, Katherine Patterson
  • Bridge to Terabithia, Katherine Patterson
  • Where the Red Fern Grows, Wilson Rawls
  • Summer of the Monkeys, Wilson Rawls
  • Then Again, Maybe I Won’t, Judy Blume
  • Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself, Judy Blume
  • Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, Judy Blume
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
  • James and the Giant Peach, Roald Dahl
  • Matilda, Roald Dahl
  • The Bears’ House, Marilyn Sachs
  • The Yearling, Marjorie Rawlings

School in a Book: Classic Films

I am not a movie buff. Still, I don’t want to miss out on the shows and films 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.

Essential Classic Children’s Films and Shows

  • Bambi (1940s)
  • Pinocchio (1940s)
  • Dumbo (1940s)
  • Old Yeller (1950s)
  • Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree (1960s)
  • The Jungle Book (1960s)
  • Charlotte’s Web (1970s)
  • The Muppet Movie (1970s)
  • Benji (1970s)
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1970s)
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1970s)
  • Star Wars: A New Hope (George Lucas, 1970s)
  • Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (George Lucas, 1980s)
  • Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (George Lucas, 1980s)
  • E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (Steven Spielburg, 1980s)
  • Labyrinth (Jim Henson, 1980s)
  • The Neverending Story (1980s)
  • Goonies (1980s)
  • The Karate Kid (1980s)
  • Ghostbusters (1980s)
  • The Scarlet Pimpernell (1980s)
  • Anne of Green Gables (series) (1980s)
  • Anne of Avonlea (series) (1980s)
  • Roots (series)
  • Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (Steven Spielburg, 1980s)
  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (Steven Spielburg, 1980s)
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Steven Spielburg, 1980s)
  • My Neighbor Totoro (1980s)
  • Babe (1990s)
  • Home Alone (1990s)
  • Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1990s)
  • The Sandlot (1990s)
  • Spirited Away (2000s)
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2000s)
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2000s)
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2000s)
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2000s)
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2000s)
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2000s)
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2000s)
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2000s)
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010s)

Essential Musicals

  • An American in Paris (1920s)
  • Snow White (1930s)
  • The Wizard of Oz (1930s)
  • Singin’ in the Rain (1950s)
  • Oklahoma! (1950s)
  • White Christmas (1950s)
  • Annie Get Your Gun (1950s)
  • Guys and Dolls (1950s)
  • South Pacific (1950s)
  • Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1950s)
  • The King and I (1950s)
  • Calamity Jane (1950s)
  • Sleeping Beauty (1950s)
  • Cinderella (1950s)
  • Alice in Wonderland (1950s)
  • West Side Story (1960s)
  • Pollyanna (1960s)
  • Oliver! (1960s)
  • The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1960s)
  • Cabaret (1960s)
  • Dr. Dolittle (1960s)
  • The Sound of Music (1960s)
  • Babes in Toyland (1960s)
  • The Music Man (1960s)
  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1960s)
  • My Fair Lady (1960s)
  • Fiddler on the Roof (1970s)
  • Grease (1970s)
  • Godspell (1970s)
  • Jesus Christ, Superstar (1970s)
  • Hair (1970s)
  • Annie (1980s)
  • Footloose (1980s)
  • Return to Oz (1980s)
  • Little Shop of Horrors (1980s)
  • Beauty and the Beast (1990s)
  • The Little Mermaid (1990s)
  • Cats (1990s)
  • The Lion King (1990s)
  • Aladdin (1990s)
  • Frozen (2010s)
  • Tangled (2010s)

Essential Classic Christmas Films

  • It’s a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1940s)
  • Miracle on 34th Street (1940s)
  • A Christmas Carol (1950s)
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1960s)
  • Frosty the Snowman (1960s)
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1960s)
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas (1960s)
  • A Christmas Story (1980s)
  • National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1980s)
  • The Muppet Christmas Carol (1990s)

Essential Classic Films for Older Kids and Adults

  • The Arrival of a Train (1890s)
  • Nanook of the North (1920s)
  • Man with a Movie Camera (1920s)
  • Night Mail (1930s)
  • Frankenstein (1930s)
  • M (Fritz Lang, 1930s)
  • Triumph of the Will (1930s)
  • You Can’t Take It With You (Frank Capra, 1930s)
  • It Happened One Night (Frank Capra, 1930s)
  • Mutiny on the Bounty (Frank Lloyd, 1930s)
  • The Lady Vanishes (Alfred Hitchcock, 1930s)
  • The Thirty-Nine Steps (Alfred Hitchcock, 1930s)
  • The Bells of St. Mary’s (1940s)
  • How Green is My Valley (1940s)
  • Casablanca (1940s)
  • National Velvet (1940s)
  • From Here to Eternity (1950s)
  • Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1950s)
  • Love is a Many-Splendored Thing (1950s)
  • Rebel Without a Cause (1950s)
  • Roman Holiday (1950s)
  • The African Queen (1950s)
  • The Silent World (1950s)
  • The Three Faces of Eve (1950s)
  • Ben-Hur (1950s)
  • Night and Fog (1950s)
  • The Train (1960s)
  • Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1940s)
  • A Face in the Crowd (Elia Kazan, 1950s)
  • East of Eden (Elia Kazan, 1950s)
  • On the Waterfront (Elia Kazan, 1950s)
  • Wild Strawberries (Ingmar Bergman, 1950s)
  • North by Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock, 1950s)
  • Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock, 1950s)
  • Strangers on a Train (Alfred Hitchcock, 1950s)
  • Suspicion! (Alfred Hitchcock, 1940s)
  • The Man Who Knew Too Much (Alfred Hitchcock, 1950s)
  • To Catch a Thief (Alfred Hitchcock, 1950s)
  • Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1950s)
  • The Lord of the Flies (1960s)
  • Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (1960s)
  • What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1960s)
  • The Sorrow and the Pity (1960s)
  • Titicut Follies (1960s)
  • Salesman (1960s)
  • The Man Who Shot Liberty Vallance (1960s)
  • 8 ½ (Federico Fellini, 1960s)
  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1960s)
  • How the West Was Won (1960s)
  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1960s)
  • Doctor Zhivago (1960s)
  • Night of the Living Dead (1960s)
  • Planet of the Apes (1960s)
  • The Graduate (1960s)
  • Splendor in the Grass (Elia Kazan, 1960s)
  • The Absent-Minded Professor (1960s)
  • Hannah and Her Sisters (Woody Allan, 1960s)
  • Il Dolce Vita (Federico Fellini, 1960s)
  • Lolita (Stanley Kubrick, 1960s)
  • The Birds (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960s)
  • Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)
  • Saturday Night Fever (1970s)
  • The Exorcist (1970s)
  • Summer of My German Soldier (1970s)
  • Saturday Night Fever (1970s)
  • Brother Sun, Sister Moon (1970s)
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1970s)
  • Annie Hall (Woody Allen, 1970s)
  • Orchestra Rehearsal (Federico Fellini, 1970s)
  • Freaky Friday (1970s)
  • Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1970s)
  • A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick, 1970s)
  • Cries and Whispers (Ingmar Bergman, 1970s)
  • Big (1980s)
  • Airplane! (1980s)
  • The Princess Bride (1980s)
  • Babette’s Feast (1980s)
  • Sophie’s Choice (1980s)
  • Das Boot/The Boat (1980s)
  • Zelig (Woody Allen, 1980s)
  • The Atomic Cafe (1980s)
  • The Times of Harvey Milk (1980s)
  • Clue (1980s)
  • Parenthood (1980s)
  • Field of Dreams (1980s)
  • Moonstruck (1980s)
  • Platoon (Oliver Stone, 1980s)
  • Radio Days (Woody Allen, 1980s)
  • Crimes and Misdemeanors (Woody Allen, 1980s)
  • Eat, Drink, Man, Woman (1990s)
  • Fight Club (1990s)
  • Life Is Beautiful (1990s)
  • What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? (1990s)
  • Edward Scissorhands (1990s)
  • American Beauty (1990s)
  • Raise the Red Lantern (1990s)
  • Following (1990s)
  • To Live (1990s)
  • True Romance (1990s)
  • The Last Days of Disco (1990s)
  • Pleasantville (1990s)
  • The Truman Show (1990s)
  • Naked Lunch (1990s)
  • Gummo (1990s)
  • High Art (1990s)
  • Run Lola Run (1990s)
  • Man on the Moon (1990s)
  • Pi (1990s)
  • Hoop Dreams (1990s)
  • Being John Malcovich (Spike Jonze, 1990s)
  • Barton Fink (Joes and Ethan Coen, 1990s)
  • Wild at Heart (David Lynch, 1990s)
  • Lost Highway (David Lynch, 1990s)
  • Four Rooms (Quentin Terantino, 1990s)
  • Jackie Brown (Quentin Terantino, 1990s)
  • Pulp Fiction (Quentin Terantino, 1990s)
  • Reservoir Dogs (Quentin Terantino, 1990s)
  • Primer (2000s)
  • Memento (2000s)
  • Requiem for a Dream (2000s)
  • A Scanner Darkly (2000s)
  • American Psycho (2000s)
  • American Splendour (2000s)
  • Secretary (2000s)
  • Swimming Pool (2000s)
  • The Princess and the Warrior (2000s)
  • Igby Goes Down (2000s)
  • The Lives of Others (2000s)
  • Mulholland Drive (David Lynch, 2000s)
  • Kill Bill Volume I & II (Quentin Terantino, 2000s)
  • Don’t Look Up (2020s)

Additional Recommended Films: Documentaries

While the main criteria for the films on these lists is cultural and artistic significance, I also wanted to include movies that aren’t important as such, but that contain interesting, relevant information; little-understood niches; and unique perspectives–which is where the following documentaries come in. Some are socially relevant; most are disturbing; and all are in some way educational.

  • 13th
  • A Lego Brickumentary
  • Amanda Knox
  • Being Elmo
  • Bowling for Columbine
  • Chernobyl (series)
  • Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey
  • Exit Through the Gift Shop
  • Food Matters
  • Food, Inc.
  • King Corn
  • Sicko
  • Free Solo
  • Going Clear
  • Herb and Dorothy
  • How to Survive a Plague
  • Icarus
  • Jesus Camp
  • Jiro Dreams of Sushi
  • March of the Penguins
  • The Planet Earth series
  • Shirkers
  • Sour Grapes
  • Spellbound
  • The Barkley Marathons
  • The Rachel Divide
  • Three Identical Strangers
  • Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman
  • Trekkies
  • Waiting for Superman
  • Pepsi, Where’s My Jet?
  • Our Father (series)
  • The Real Bling Ring
  • Trainwreck
  • Bad Vegan (series)
  • The Puppetmaster
  • The Tinder Swindler
  • Seaspiracy
  • What the Health
  • Athlete A
  • Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee (series)
  • The Game Changers
  • Cowspiracy
  • Hope Frozen
  • Capturing the Friedmans
  • Keep This Between Us (series)
  • My Scientology Movie
  • The Deep End (series)
  • Drunk History (series)
  • Intervention (series)
  • Catfish
  • I Shouldn’t Be Alive (series)
  • I Survived (series)

School in a Book: A Ridiculously Concise K-12 Review

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 strengthen your weak points and gain a wider perspective of the topic.

To learn when this complete work becomes available for purchase, subscribe to my blog to the right.

School in a Book Sections

Essential Knowledge: Chemistry

Essential Knowledge: Physics

Essential Knowledge: Astronomy

Essential Knowledge: Biology and Genetics

Essential Knowledge: Botany and Zoology

Essential Knowledge: Anatomy and Medical Science

Essential Knowledge: Geology, Ecology and Meteorology

Essential Knowledge: World History Overview and Timeline

Essential Knowledge: Prehistory

Essential Knowledge: History of North and Central America

Essential Knowledge: History of South America

Essential Knowledge: History of Europe

Essential Knowledge: History of Africa

Essential Knowledge: History of the Middle East

Essential Knowledge: History of Russia

Essential Knowledge: History of India

Essential Knowledge: History of China

Essential Knowledge: History of Japan

Essential Knowledge: History of Australia and Oceania

Essential Knowledge: Geography

Essential Knowledge: Punctuation and Grammar

Essential Knowledge: Writing

Essential Knowledge: Literary Analysis

Essential Knowledge: Arithmetic and Measurement

Essential Knowledge: Algebra and Geometry

Essential Knowledge: Philosophy

Essential Knowledge: Logic and Rhetoric

Essential Knowledge: Psychology

Essential Knowledge: Sociology

Essential Knowledge: Political Science

Essential Knowledge: American Government

Essential Knowledge: Religion and Spirituality

Essential Knowledge: Music

Essential Knowledge: Art and Architecture

Essential Skills: Science Skills and Projects

Essential Skills: Art and Craft Skills

Essential Skills: Physical Education Skills

Essential Skills: Social, Emotional and Life Management

Essential Resources: Classic Literature: Children’s

Essential Resources: Classic Fiction: Older Kids and Adults

Essential Resources: Classic Nonfiction

Essential Resources: Classic Films

Essential Resources: Classic Songs and Musical Artists

Essential Resources: Educational Games

Bonus Section: Personal Records

Supplemental Sections

I just couldn’t help myself: Here, additional advanced sections to be compiled for a supplemental edition of this book.

Essential Knowledge: Statistics and Research

Essential Knowledge: Computer Science

Essential Knowledge: Technology

Essential Knowledge: Mandarin Chinese Vocabulary

Essential Knowledge: Spanish Vocabulary

How to Use This Book

Subject-specific suggestions for memorizing and applying the lessons in this book can be found in the brief overviews provided. Here are a few other general tips:

TIP #1: TREAT IT LIKE A CHECKLIST

As you peruse the lists in this book, you will find many facts you already know. This is a good thing. If you have the book in print form, you might want to mark your retained facts as you go. There’s a saying in psychology: “Shrink the change.” The more facts and lists you master, the more encouraged you’ll be to move on to more challenging areas. (Check marking also prevents you from wasting time re-reading old-to-you material.)

TIP #2: YOUTUBE. LOTS OF YOUTUBE.

Almost all of the material in this book is available in multiple forms somewhere on the Internet. Because websites change constantly, linking to recommended Internet resources isn’t necessary or even very helpful. Most terms you search for will yield a wide variety of accurate, well-stated, brief and even entertaining articles, videos and tutorials. No longer under copyright, classic books and stories are freely available as well. When working with my children on these lists, I often find relevant videos on YouTube–one under-ten-minute video per term or story. I queue up five or six in separate tabs, and my kids are fully engaged with free, educational material for an hour.

TIP #3: CREATE YOUR OWN FLASH CARDS.

The most difficult part of this book to write was the history section. Timelines feel natural, yet I avoided this presentation as much as possible since they don’t facilitate memorization. (Question: The year 1789. Answer: ???) Instead, I arranged the information in the same way the other lists are arranged, with recognizable names and other terms followed by their “definitions.” If you can buzz down a list, identifying each of these with your hand covering the explanations, you’ve mastered that section. Better yet, create your own flash cards. The act of writing the information will help you retain a surprising amount of it.

TIP #4: DON’T JUST LEARN IT. MASTER IT.

Unlike many other textbooks, this book has very little filler. Everything here is meant to be both understood and retained. Don’t just read over the definitions to determine whether or not you “get it”; quiz yourself on them. It’s always interesting to notice how much harder it is to bring something back to mind than to simply understand it.

School in a Book Advantages

Finally, since I love lists so much, here’s another one for you: the eight main advantages of this book.

But first, two disadvantages: While much of the information presented here is straightforward and ready to memorize, the Essential Skills and Essential Resources lists require further research, reading and practice. In addition, School in a Book is, unapologetically, a generalist, liberal arts curriculum. It is a straightforward, basic overview of each topic–nothing more. It goes without saying that there is more to life than fractions and the Mayflower, so take these basic concepts and use them to build yourself into a great generalist … then branch off from there in the directions of your choice.

ADVANTAGE #1: IT HELPS YOU BECOME A GENERALIST

Educators love to debate the relative merits of a generalist versus specialist education. My feeling is that life is long and learning is an innate human need; however, humans don’t innately know what they should specialize in. By establishing a wide knowledge base as early as possible, areas of interest present themselves more readily.

ADVANTAGE #2: IT GIVES YOU A FAST OVERVIEW OF A SUBJECT

The book’s biggest advantage, I think, is a hidden one: By reading the entire outline of a topic in one sitting, you’re able to feel, maybe for the first time, that you truly understand it. Here’s a metaphor I like: If a physics textbook is a detailed travel guide to the world of that subject, the School in a Book physics checklist is a physics map. By reading the checklist all at once, you’re able to see the bigger picture: physics has to do with energy, motion, gravity, electricity, magnetism, light, sound and nuclear forces. Understanding this builds confidence as well as competence.

ADVANTAGE #3: IT LISTS ONLY THE ESSENTIALS

School in a Book won’t waste your time. Enough said.

ADVANTAGE #4: IT AIDS MEMORIZATION

I know, I know: memorization is out of fashion these days. But let’s not take our emphasis on critical thinking and creativity too far. If thinking skills are the toolkit, facts are the raw building materials. It’s impossible to arrange an interesting proposal, plan, article or analysis–or even have a fluent conversation on a topic–without the facts–the building blocks–in hand. (Okay, it’s possible, but we all know what that looks like and it isn’t pretty.)

The very best way to use School in a Book is as a tool for memorization. This is the stuff you’ll want to know–to retain–for the many efforts, decisions and conversations to come in your life.

ADVANTAGE #5: IT HELPS YOU FILL IN YOUR KNOWLEDGE GAPS

You might be surprised at how much you don’t know about the world, even if you’ve completed twelve or more years of school. I was. (Okay, that’s not quite true. I knew how badly I needed help.) Our minds don’t always pick and choose well. They might record every word our favorite teachers say, but almost nothing from certain entire textbooks. Here, discover what you missed on the days you slept in, as well as what you forgot.

ADVANTAGE #6: IT ASSISTS WITH COLLEGE PREPARATION

Though this resource purports to be an elementary through high school educational reference text, the checklists were designed to cover 101-level college material (and, in a few cases, levels higher than this). This is because I believe that college 101 classes are generally meant to catch up incoming college students on the subjects they should have learned in high school, but didn’t.

ADVANTAGE #7: IT ORGANIZES ALL YOUR CHECKLISTS IN ONE PLACE

I love organizing. I love brevity, too. Almost in a romantic sort of way. Other books spread out the essential knowledge between pages of description, introduction, images, callouts and the like. School in a Book eschews such inefficient use of space in order to provide extremely easy access to a broad range of information. The book can be used as one large checklist that you work through at your own pace. In addition, lists are organized by type of learning required: Essential Learning, Essential Skills and Essential Resources. When facts, books and skills are all mixed together, the checklists become much harder to work with. Studying facts requires different mental and environmental preparation than does practicing a skill or reading a book.

A LAST WORD

I hope that you find these terms and lists as useful as I have, but if you don’t, wait a few years. By mastering the School in a Book material, you’ve paved the way for an easier high school and college experience. You’ve also obtained a good knowledge foundation that will serve you well your entire adult life.

Don’t believe the rumors: you can be a generalist and a specialist both. Why not? Life is long, and learning is life. Be curious. Be unafraid. Read nonfiction every day. Watch documentaries. Find a passion (or six). Be great.

Oh, and have lots of fun while you’re doing it.

School in a Book: Astronomy

Everyone loves space. Why? I don’t know. It just sort of blows our minds, I guess. The following will give you many of the main astronomical terms and ideas, but do also read The Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene and Steven Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. There’s also a great memoir by Scott Kelly of living on the ISS for a year called Endurance, as well as many excellent space documentaries.

BASIC ASTRONOMY

Space: All of the area outside the earth’s atmosphere. Space has no air. Its temperatures vary from far below freezing (such as areas blocked by planets to the rays of stars) to far above boiling water (such as areas not blocked from the rays of stars).

Universe: All of the billions of galaxies in existence. The Universe is held together by gravity and, at the same time, slowly expanding. It is mostly empty space, with matter like stars and planets at distances from each other that are comparable to the distances of particles in atoms. This is why collisions are infrequent, despite the many and varied paths taken by celestial bodies.

Star: A ball of very hot gas in space. Stars can be white, red, yellow or blue.

Sun: The only star in Earth’s solar system. It is medium-sized: one million times the size of Earth and ten times the size of Jupiter. On its surface, the sun is 5,500 degrees.

Planet: A spinning ball of rock or gas that travels around a star (or a black hole) in an orbit. We can only see a few planets outside our solar system.

Moon: A mini planet that revolves around a regular planet instead of revolving around a star. The earth’s moon is dry and dusty with many craters. It takes 27 days for the moon to spin once, and 27 days for it to orbit once around the earth, which is why it doesn’t seem to be spinning. It is always facing away from us, so we’ve never seen the other side. People have gone to the moon several times. It takes about three days to reach the moon and each crew spent about three days there.

Solar system: A group of planets revolving around a single star or a group of stars, or a small group of stars revolving around each other.

Galaxy: A group of solar systems which orbit around each other. Many galaxies contain millions of stars. Sometimes galaxies cross paths and collide. It’s likely that most or all galaxies have a black hole at their center. Many galaxies orbit other galaxies, but not all. It is difficult to determine what galaxies orbit, if anything, due to the slowness of their movement and limitations of technology.

Star cluster: Groups of stars that form together

Galaxy cluster: A group of galaxies

Orbit: The circular path taken by a planet, moon, star or other celestial body. Orbits can be maintained indefinitely because the gravity that pulls the orbiting object toward another object is balanced by the orbiting object’s momentum, which seeks to keep the orbiting object moving in a straight line. In empty space, friction, drag and other forces do not exist, so the object’s momentum is never lost.

One day: The unit of time marking one spin of the earth on its axis, which takes approximately 24 Earth hours. The part of the earth facing the sun has light, and the other doesn’t. It takes 365 days for the earth to orbit around the sun one time.

Light year: The distance light travels in one year. It is used as a measurement of distances in space.

The nine phases of the moon: The views of the earth’s moon from the earth, which change in a 29.5-day cycle. The nine phases are: new moon (no light); waxing crescent moon (getting more visible and in a crescent shape); first quarter moon (half moon); waxing gibbous (getting more visible and in a lopsided circle shape); full moon; waning gibbous (getting less visible); last quarter moon (half moon); waning crescent; new moon.

Solar eclipse: A celestial event during which the sun is entirely obscured from view for a short time due to the path of the moon, which brings it between Earth and the sun

Lunar eclipse: A celestial event during which the moon is entirely obscured from view for a short time due to the path of the Earth, which brings it between the moon and the sun. At that time, the moon sits in the Earth’s shadow and no light from the sun illuminates it.

Solar wind: The stream of charged particles in the form of plasma that make the air glow at Earth’s magnetic poles, creating the aurora borealis (the Northern Lights).

Solar mass: The mass of our sun. It is used as a standard unit of measurement of space bodies.

Our eight planets, in order from the sun: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune. Gas giants: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune. Rest are rock. Jupiter is largest, Mercury is smallest. Jupiter has the Great Red Spot, a permanent gas storm. Saturn is very light, light enough to float in water.

The Milky Way: The name of the galaxy our solar system is in. It is about 100,000 light years across. It contains one star, eight planets, many moons, and an asteroid belt. The Milky Way doesn’t orbit anything, but other galaxies orbit it and Andromeda, the closest neighboring galaxy.

Andromeda: The nearest large galaxy to the Milky Way

The Local Cluster: The galaxy cluster our galaxy is in

Supercluster: A group of galaxy clusters

Virgo Supercluster: The supercluster our galaxy is in

Asteroid: A big lump of rock or metal in space

Meteoroid: Dust or small space rocks (house-sized to coffee-ground sized) in orbit around the sun

Meteor/shooting star: A meteoroid that burns up in a planet’s atmosphere

Meteorite: A meteoroid that hits the surface of a planet

Comet: A ball of dirty ice floating around space. When close enough to the sun, the ice melts partway and the solar wind blows a trail of gas and dust behind it, making a tail.

Nebula: Big cloud of gas and dust that stars are formed in

Pulsar: A collapsing star that instead of becoming a black hole keeps spinning faster and faster and getting denser as it collapses. It gives off waves (pulses) of electrons.

Supernova: A very large star that has reached the end of its life (and its supply of gas) and is exploding

Red Giant: A smaller or medium-sized star that is near the end of its life and has swelled up and turned red

White dwarf: A star that results from the Red Giant’s exterior gas burning off. After a time, it cools and fades away.

Binary star:

Neutron star:

Black hole: A supercondensed, superheavy ball of matter and energy whose gravity pulls in everything near it and from which nothing, not even light, can escape. Some are the remains of very large stars that, instead of dying, collapsed. Some black holes are only a few miles across, while others are several million miles across. Black holes continuously draw in more matter and expand due to their huge gravitational force.

Event horizon: The boundary surrounding a black hole that, once matter crosses, no escape is possible–it will be pulled into the black hole

The Big Bang: The (theoretical) explosion that created the universe. This explosion may have happened approximately 15 billion years ago. It occurred when all energy and all matter in existence somehow gathered into a tiny speck with virtually no empty space between particles, then, under this enormous pressure, suddenly exploded and became randomly distributed in space. As the matter cooled, gravity caused larger bits to attract smaller bits and form large stars and planets.

School in a Book: Physics

Of the hard sciences, physics is definitely my favorite. Biology is the most relatable and chemistry is possibly the most practical, but physics is the most philosophical. What is energy? What is matter? What is reality? How did it all begin? We’ll be debating these questions for a very long time.

BASIC PHYSICS

Physics: The study of movement and energy. This includes the study of gravity, electricity, sound, light, magnetism, nuclear energy and more.

Energy: The invisible, indescribable, mysterious thing that allows for movement and work. Energy is not made of particles and doesn’t have mass or volume. We cannot directly observe it, but only understand it through its effects. Note that everything in the Universe is made of either matter or energy. Note also that energy cannot be either created or destroyed; in order to get energy out of a system, you must first get it from somewhere else and put it in to the system. (It can convert into a different form, however.)

Energy conversion: A change in the form of energy from one type to another. For example, during photosynthesis, sun energy becomes stored energy, then kinetic energy used for growth.

Energy chain: The chain reaction that occurs as energy is converted to another form, then that energy is converted to another form, and so on.

Energy storing materials: Energy is stored in wood, fuel, batteries, light, food, etc.—anything that releases energy when burned. (Remember, food isn’t turned into energy. It stores energy, then releases it from the food.)

The two fundamental forms of energy: Potential and kinetic

Kinetic energy: Energy that is currently active, such as wind energy and the movement of water.

Potential energy: Energy currently in storage, such as seed energy or the energy inside a full balloon. In order to have potential energy, the material must be in a position to be affected by a force, such as gravity.

Solar energy: The light and heat that radiates from the sun

Nuclear energy: The energy found in an atom’s nucleus

Radiant energy:

Heat energy: A form of energy that flows from one place to another because of a difference in temperature. It is really the motion of the particles that feel hot. (So in a way it’s kinetic energy.) Heat energy flows from hot to cool to even out, like air pressure moves from high to low and water flows downhill.

Chemical energy: Energy stored in the bonds of atoms and molecules. It is released in chemical reactions in the form of heat.

Electrical energy: The energy carried by electrons in an electric conductor.

Mechanical energy: The energy something has due to its motion

Thermal energy: The energy something has due to its heat levels (temperature)

Gravitational energy: The energy something has due to the effects of its gravitational field. Example: A raised hammer has gravitational energy that is converted to heat energy after it lowers and hits the nail.

Force: Any push or pull on an object. This includes the force of gravity, the force of a human hand picking something up, and much more. All objects not in motion still have forces acting on them at all times, but when not moving, these forces are canceling each other out. For example, in order to sit still I must hold my body upright in a way that perfectly balances the force of gravity on it.

The four fundamental forces in the universe: The strong force (the nuclear force that holds subatomic particles together), the weak force (gravity, which is much less powerful than the strong force), the electromagnetic force, and the weak interaction (the force responsible for the radioactive decay of atoms).

Gravity: The force everywhere in the Universe that pulls every object towards every other object simultaneously. This includes planets, stars, galaxies, electrons and even light. Gravity is what caused the planets to attract more particles and structures and grow larger. It holds heavenly bodies in orbit around each other, it causes the Moon to pull Earth’s water toward it, creating tides, and it gives things on Earth weight. The greater the mass an object has, the greater gravitational force it exerts.It is sometimes called the “weak force,” (referring to the four fundamental forces of physics) even though it is not actually a force at all.

Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity: Gravity is not a force. It is not energy. It is a simple result of the curvature of spacetime which in turn is caused by the uneven distribution of mass across the universe.

E=mc2: Energy equals mass times speed of light squared. This is the formula that Einstein discovered that shows the rate at which matter is converted into energy and vice versa.

Dynamics: The study of how forces affect movement

Velocity: Measurement of speed as well as the direction. Velocity changes when direction changes even when speed stays the same.

Terminal velocity: When something falls through gas or liquid it accelerates at a decreasing rate until it reaches its maximum constat velocity. This is terminal velocity. Happens when force of gravity equals air resistance to its falling.

Friction: The resistance of one surface to slide over another. Friction is everywhere. Without it nothing would stop moving. Wheels lose less motion to friction because they don’t have to slide at any time. Oil reduces friction. Friction causes movement energy to be converted to heat energy. The movement energy isn’t loss, it’s transferred!

Equilibrium: When forces or energies or systems are in balance

Inertia: The property of a stationary object to remain stationary and a moving object to remain moving unless acted upon by another force. (Including friction and gravity.)

Freefall: Any motion of anything where gravity is the only “force” (source of movement) affecting it. Objects in freefall are weightless because nothing is pulling it toward itself. (This is also why the weight of objects are different on different planets: there is a different amount of gravity working on the object.)

Weightlessness: Freefall, but not quite, because the object is inside of something, such as a spacecraft

Centripetal force: The “force” that causes something turn in a circle instead of in a straight line. It is not actually a force, but the net result of all the forces acting on the object that result in the circular movement.

Cohesion: When molecules of one substance are more attracted to each other than to the substance they’re touching. Ex: surface tension.

Adhesion: Opposite: Molecules are more attracted to substance they’re touching than to each other – ex: glue. Occurs often with liquids.

Diffusion: Molecules spread out to fill a space more evenly. Occurs often in gases.

Surface tension: Sideways and downward attraction on a liquid’s surface. Happens because molecules in water at top are more attracted to molecules in water below than to molecules in the air.

Fluid dynamics:

Turbulence: The uneven movement caused when an object moves through air or water

Drag/air resistance: Friction that occurs between air and any object moving through it. With no friction at all, objects falling toward the earth would fall at the same rate.

Air compression: The condition created when air particles are pushed closer together (as in a small space such as a tire or a balloon). When this happens, the particles try to escape and expand by pushing on the inside walls, causing visible inflation. Compressed air is an especially highly pressurized type of air.

Vacuum: An area of decreased air pressure that causes areas of higher air pressure to be drawn in towards it. When we suck or otherwise remove air from a container, we create a vacuum in that container. That vacuum, in turn, sucks air into it. Note that it isn’t the motion of pulling out air that causes a vacuum cleaner to suck, but the natural physical reaction of higher-pressure air to rush to fill (and thus balance out) lower-pressure air that causes this behavior.

Outer space has no air, so it is considered a vacuum. If a person went to space without a spacesuit, they would explode immediately as all of the air in their body pushed outward toward the vacuum at once. Spacesuits provide air pressure to prevent this.

Newton’s First Law of Motion: “A body at rest will remain at rest, and a body in motion will remain in motion unless it is acted upon by an external force.”

Newton’s Second Law of Motion: “The force acting on an object is equal to the mass of that object times its acceleration.”

Newton’s Third Law of Motion: “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Example: A balloon full of air is let go. The air goes one way and the balloon goes another.

Electricity: The effect caused by the presence and movement of charged particles (specifically, the electrons in the charged particles)

Electromagnetism: The term denoting the entire force of electricity and magnetism, both of which occur between electrically charged particles. This force is commonly shown as a spectrum, with visible light in the center, which is known as the electromagnetic spectrum.

Electromagnetic wave: Air waves made of continually changing electric and magnetic fields that can move through solids, liquids, gases and even a vacuum.

Electromagnetic spectrum/radiant energy: All parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, whether or not they are visible to the human eye, including (in order): gamma rays, X-rays, ultraviolet rays, visible light, infrared rays, radar, FM, TV, shortwave and AM.

Electric field: An area that surrounds an electric charge or an electromagnetic wave that exerts force on other charges

Electric current: A flow of electric charge

Conductor: An object or material that allows an electrical current to flow in one or more directions

Insulator: An object or material that does not allow an electrical current to flow freely or easily through it

Static electricity: Electricity created due to an imbalance of electrical charges that causes some charges to seek a path away from their present location

Magnet: A material or object that produces a magnetic field

Magnetic field: All the (invisible) space around a magnet that attracts iron. The field is strongest at the poles. The Earth is a large magnet, and has a magnetic field with two poles. It is strong enough that magnets will reorient to be parallel to the field, which is why compasses work.

The five properties of magnets: They only act on iron and iron-containing materials; 2. They have two ends, or poles (north-seeking and south-seeking); 3.They have a magnetic field; 4. Opposite pole attract, like poles repel (though both ends are attracted to iron); 5. Their magnetic fields pass through the other materials.

Magnetic north/south: The magnetic poles of the earth, which is a huge magnet. (These poles are slightly different from the geographical North Pole and South Pole.)

Ferromagnetism: The magnetic quality of certain materials (such as iron) that allows them to permanently attract or repel. (There are also many other materials that have a magnetic quality, but more weakly and not permanently.)

Light: A form of energy made up of electromagnetic waves

Visible light spectrum: The parts of the spectrum that are visible to the human eye/mind connection. Visible light is a very small part of the light spectrum.

Speed of light: The speed that light travels in a vacuum (over 186,000 miles per second). It is also the highest possible speed at which all other massless particles can travel including gravitational waves and electromagnetic energy. (Particles with any amount of mass can never reach this speed.)

Luminous: The giving off of light (as opposed to the mere reflecting of light) by an object

Light intensity: The measurable amount of light (or another property) present

Transparent: See-through

Translucent: Almost entirely see-through

Opaque: Not see-through

Umbra: The darkest part of a shadow

Penumbra: The faded part of a shadow

Color: The parts of light rays that become visible when light reflects off an object. The human eye can’t see the light rays that gets absorbed by the same object. Since every object absorbs light differently, objects reflect light differently, too.

Fluorescence: The property of some substances that cause them to glow when exposed to light. This occurs because the material is able to absorb high-frequency wavelengths, like UV light, which is invisible to the human eye, but then emit visible light from that absorbed light. UV light works best to create the glow effect because it is a high-energy frequency. Note that some energy is lost in the energy conversion process, so high-energy frequency is needed so there’s enough energy left after conversion to cause the glow.

Phosphorescence: The property of some substances that cause them to glow. Unlike a fluorescent material, though, a phosphorescent material doesn’t immediately re-emit the radiation it absorbs; instead, it can re-emit it up to several hours after the absorption. Examples include glow-in-the-dark paint or toys. The reason for this ability to hold the energy has to do with quantum mechanics.

Dispersion: For example, at sunrise and sunset light has to travel through more of the atmosphere before reaching your eyes. Blue is scattered before you see it, leaving lower frequency red and orange.

Prism: An object, such as a diamond or a piece of cut glass, that bends the white light that hits it, thereby splitting it and causing a rainbow to appear

Convex lens: A lens that is shaped like an upside-down bowl

Concave lens: A lens that is shaped like a bowl

Mirror: A piece of glass with a silver-painted backing behind it that causes all light to reflect back to the viewer

Converging lens: A lens that converges rays of light that are traveling parallel to its principle axis. This kind of lens corrects farsightedness.

Diverging lens: A lens that diverges rays of light that are traveling parallel to its principle axis. This kind of lens corrects nearsightedness.

Reflection: The bouncing of waves off a surface and back the opposite direction

Refraction: The change in path of a wave. We see light waves change path when we put a straw in a glass of water. The straw appears bended due to the changing of the path of light when traveling through air to traveling through water and vice versa.

Interference: The changing of a wave’s path resulting from an outside force

Diffraction: The splitting of light waves into two or more separate light waves when passing through small openings or encountering an obstacle

Constructive interference: The increase in a wave’s size due to interference

Destructive interference: The decrease in a wave’s size due to interference

Three types of heat transfer: Convection, conduction and radiation

Convection: Heat transfer through moving gases or liquids, such as ocean currents or warm air currents

Conduction: Heat transfer through solids using direct contact, such as a pan on a burner

Radiation: Heat transfer through the air or through space, such as the sun heating the atmosphere or a radiator heater heating a home’s air. The air does not have to be moving to transfer the heat energy.

Sound: The vibration that occurs in a hearing ear after sound waves contact it. Sound waves are only sound if they find a hearing ear. The sound waves bump the particles in the air and transfer the movement energy from particle to particle till it gets to the ear. (Note: Sound waves transfer movement energy while light waves travel as electromagnetic radiation. Sound will only travel through gas, liquid or solid, but not through a vacuum – no particles are there to transfer the energy. Light does, though, and thus it moves much faster than sound – 186,000mps rather than .2mps.)

Sound vibrationv/sound wave: Fast back and forth movements (waves) that produce sound

Sound wave: The wave pattern of sound vibrations

Tone: Any prolonged sound note

Pitch: A specific sound note (A, B-flat, etc.). It is made by tightening or loosening vocal cords, guitar strings, etc., thereby slowing down or speeding up the sound vibrations.

Sound intensity: The loudness of a sound

Frequency: The speed of a sound’s vibration. High frequencies =fast, low f=slow.
More tension = faster vibration = higher frequency = higher pitch.

Amplitude: Distance traveled from one side to another of the sound wae. More distance = louder sound.

How sound is made from voices: By passing air through the larynx and at the same time putting tension on the vocal cords. (To feel the vibration, touch the throat while talking.) Note that the human ear can only pick up 20 to 20,000 vibrations-per-second frequencies.

Infrasound: Sounds at frequencies below the ability of humans to hear it

Ultrasound: Sounds at frequencies above the ability of humans to hear it

Decibel:

Supersonic speed:

Subsonic speed:

Sonic boom: The sudden crashing sound that results when a noise breaks the sound barrier

Sound barrier:

Echo: Result of sound waves bumping hard surfaces and changing directions. Telephones change sound vibrations into electric signals. Same with cell phones, etc. Changed back to sound waves at the listener’s end.

Sonar: A way of bouncing ultrasound waves off far-away objects to determine their location

Theoretical physics:

The theory of everything: A theory that has not yet been found that explains how all of the different theories and laws (such as the law of gravity and quantum physics ideas) can work together in the same universe, even though they seem to contradict each other. The main two theories of everything are general relativity and quantum field theory. General relativity is the theory that all events are caused by gravity, while quantum theory discusses the interplay of the strong force (subatomic particles), the weak force (gravity) and the electromagnetic force. These theories are separately confirmed, but seem to contradict; it seems that even though they are both correct, they cannot both be correct. Since general relativity is used for large-scale problems and quantum theory is used for small-scale problems, their incompatibility is usually avoided.

String theory: The current favorite theory of everything since it attempts to marry general relativity and quantum theory by proposing that the four fundamental forces were, at the time of the Big Bang, a single force, and every particle in the universe is, at the smallest level, a pattern of vibrating strings with its own vibration pattern.

School in a Book: Arithmetic and Measurement

Math thinking grows the brain. Avoid taking the easy way out when encountering simple math problems in daily life. On paper or in your head, convert measurements, add and subtract large numbers, calculate costs per unit, find averages and percentages, and more when opportunities arise. It gets easier, and saves time (and sometimes money) in the long run.

Basic Arithmetic

Equation: Any string of numbers and symbols that makes sense and includes an equal sign

Operation: A rule for taking one or two numbers as inputs and producing a number as an output. Some arithmetic operations are multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction.

Multiplication: The process of finding the product of two factors

Division: The process of finding an unknown factor

Whole number: A number with no fractional part

Integer: A whole number

Negative number: A number that is less than zero

Positive number: A number that is more than zero

Absolute value: A number’s distance from zero, whether negative or positive

Numerator: The top number in a fraction. This is the number that is to be divided.

Denominator: The bottom number in a fraction. This is the divide-by number.

Remainder: The number left over after division has taken place. This occurs when the numerator cannot be equally divided by the denominator.

Factor: A number that divides another number exactly. For example, the factors of 6 are 1, 2, 3 and 6.

Greatest common factor: The largest factor that all the numbers being worked with share. For example, 12 and 16 share a factor of 4.

Multiple: A number that can be divided by another number without a remainder. For example, 10 and 15 are multiples of 5.

Least common multiple: The smallest positive number that is divisible by all the numbers being worked with. For example, the least common multiple of 2 and 4 is 4 because the multiples of 2 are 2, 4, 6, 8, etc. and the multiples of 4 are 4, 6, 8, 10, etc. Four is the smallest of these lists.

Lowest terms: A fraction is in lowest terms when it is simplified as much as it can be while still representing the original amount; in other words, when its numerator and denominator have no common factor greater than one. For example, 12/16ths in lowest terms is 3/4ths.

Place value: The position of a number within a larger number, which is what determines that number’s value. For example, the two in the number .12 is in the hundreds place, while the one is in the tens place.

Improper fraction: A fraction in which the numerator is larger than the denominator; for example, 11/5

Mixed fraction: A fraction in which a whole number is next to a fractional part; for example, 3 1/3

Like fractions: Fractions that share the same denominator; for example, 3/4 and 1/4

Equivalent fractions: Fractions that are equal; for example, 2/4 and 1/2

Unit fraction: A fraction whose numerator is 1, representing one part of the whole; for example, 1/12

Inequality: A mathematical expression that contains an inequality symbol

Array: An arrangement of objects, pictures, or numbers in rows and columns. Arrays can be used to illustrate multiplication and division problems. For example, the math problem 3×4 could be shown by creating three rows of four dots.

Set: Any collection of elements, whether they are numbers, objects or something else. A set contains only one of each type of element, however.

Sequence: An enumerated collection of objects in which repetitions are allowed and order matters

How to add and subtract large numbers without using a calculator or writing instruments: Break the numbers into ones, tens and hundreds. For example, 72 + 83 becomes 70 + 80, then 2 + 3, then 150 + 5.

Rounding rules: The two main rules that apply when rounding numbers to the nearest ones, fives, tens, hundreds, etc. are: 1. Round the number up if it is past the halfway point and down if it is less than the halfway point; and 2. Round numbers that are at the halfway point up, not down. For example, 56 rounded to the nearest multiple of 10 is 60, and 55 is also 60.

Story problem: A math problem presented as a story, so that the solver must choose the process used to solve it before doing so

Bar graph: A chart that uses bars to represent data

Line graph: A chart that uses lines, usually on a graph featuring an x-axis and a y-axis, to represent data

Table: A chart that organizes numbers into columns. Tables often show the various results of a calculation as it is affected by one or more variables.

Pie chart: A chart that organizes percentage values in a single circle that is segmented like a cut pie

Venn diagram: A diagram that displays intersecting and various-sized circles to represent the interrelationships between data sets

One million: 1,000,000

One billion: 1,000,000,000

One trillion: 1,000,000,000,000

Roman numerals 1-9: I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IV

Roman numerals 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80 and 90: X, XX, XXX, XL, L, LX, LXX, LXXX, XC

Roman numerals 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, 700, 800, 900: C, CC, CCC, CD, D, DC, DCC, DCCC, CM

Roman numerals 1000, 2000, and 3000: M, MM, MMM

Metric system of measurement: The worldwide standard measurement system, which is based on multiples of 10, and includes meters and grams

How many millimeters are in a meter: 1000

How many centimeters are in a meter: 100

How many meters are in a kilometer: 1000

How many milligrams are in a gram: 1000

How many grams are in a kilogram: 1000

How many kilograms are in a metric ton: 1000

English system of measurement: The alternative measurement system, mostly used in the U.S., which is based on the foot, mile and pound

How many inches are in a foot: 12

How many feet are in a yard: 3

How many yards are in a mile: 1760

How many ounces are in a pound: 16

How many pounds are in a ton: 2000

How many teaspoons are in a tablespoon: 3

How many fluid ounces are in a cup: 8

How many cups are in a pint: 2

How many pints are in a quart: 2

How many quarts are in a gallon: 4

How many milliliters are in a liter: 1000

How many seconds are in a minute: 60

How many minutes are in an hour: 60

How many hours are in a day: 24

How many days are in a year: 365

How to convert centigrade to fahrenheit: C = (F – 32) X 5/9 and F = (C X 9/5) + 32

The freezing point in centigrade: 0 degrees

The freezing point in fahrenheit: 32 degrees

The boiling point in centigrade: 100 degrees

The boiling point in fahrenheit: 212 degrees

Kelvin: A scale used by scientists to measure very cold temperatures in which 0 degrees is absolute zero, wherein there is no movement of molecules. Note that 1 degree kelvin is the same as 1 degree celsius, but the 0 point (starting point) is different.

Multiples of 2: 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, etc.

Multiples of 3: 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 27, 30, 33, 36, etc.

Multiples of 4: 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, 28, 32, 36, 40, 44, 48, etc.

Multiples of 5: 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, etc.

Multiples of 6: 6, 12, 18, 24, 30, 36, 42, 48, 54, 60, 66, 72etc.

Multiples of 7: 7, 14, 21, 28, 35, 42, 49, 56, 63, 70, 77, 84, etc.

Multiples of 8: 8, 16, 24, 32, 40, 48, 56, 64, 72, 80, 88, 96, etc.

Multiples of 9: 9, 18, 27, 36, 45, 54, 63, 72, 81, 90, 99, 108, etc.

Multiples of 10: 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 110, 120, etc.

Multiples of 11: 11, 22, 33, 44, 55, 66, 77, 88, 99, 110, 121, etc.

Multiples of 12: 12, 24, 36, 48, 60, 72, 84, 96, 108, 120, 132, 144, etc.

Other Arithmetic and Measurement Skills

  • Solving basic story problems
  • Using a calculator
  • Using a ruler and drawing compass
  • Calculating map distances
  • Deciphering information on line graphs, bar graphs, circle graphs, tables and Venn diagrams
  • Adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing fractions, decimals and positive and negative numbers

School in a Book: Sociology

Image by Keith Johnston from Pixabay

Sociology is the subject you learned without realizing you learned it. This is because as one wends their way through discussions of news, politics, culture and more, the following terms are encountered many, many times. Consider this list a refresher.

BASIC SOCIOLOGY

Sociology: The study of human social life. Sociologists study human groups of all sizes and varieties, often with the aim of determining how people are socialized, how culture is formed and how society can be improved. Major areas of interest are: class structures; political structures; social upheaval; the role of religion; inequalities; culture; institutions; relationships; group dynamics and more.

Socialization: The process whereby individuals learn to become competent members of a group

Primary socialization: Social learning from the immediate family

Secondary socialization: Social learning from people outside the immediate family (as from society)

Role: A set of norms, values, and personality characteristics expected of a person based on the setting he or she is in

Self: The part of a person’s personality consisting of self-awareness and self-image

Identity: The personality, beliefs, looks, social groups and more that make a person (or group) unique

Value: A culturally determined belief about what is right or wrong, desirable or undesirable

Ideology: A set of values on which people base their religious, political and other choices

More/norm: A socially constructed guideline for behavior

Social status: A person’s social rank in a particular setting

Status symbols: Outward manifestations of prestige, such as expensive clothing. Some status symbols are not chosen and can be negative, such as one’s need for glasses.

Positive sanction and negative sanction: Socially constructed expressions of approval or disapproval

Peer pressure: The social pressure applied by groups, often unintentionally, to encourage conformity

Social control: The ways a society devises to encourage conformity to norms

Deviance: The violation of a norm

Stereotype: An assumption we make about a person or a group, often on the basis of incorrect or incomplete information

Stigma: A trait or characteristic we possess that causes us to lose prestige in the eyes of others

Taboo: A norm so strongly held by a society that its violation brings extreme disgust

Assimilation: The process whereby members of a group give up parts of their own culture in order to blend in to a new culture

Social integration: The degree to which an individual feels connected to the other people in his or her group or community

Resocialization: The learning of new norms and values that occurs when life circumstances change dramatically

Society: A collection of people who share space and culture

Culture: The commonalities of the people in a society, including shared objects, shared values and more

Subculture: A group that espouses a way of living that is different from that of the dominant culture

Consumerism: The acquisition of goods and services in ever-increasing amounts

Conspicuous consumption: The acquiring of luxury goods and services with the goal of public display

Popular culture/mass culture/pop culture: Ubiquitous cultural elements during a given time period

Mass media: Various communications media that direct messages and entertainment at a wide audience

Cultural relativism: The theory that in order to understand the traits of another culture, one must study them within the context of that culture

Social construction of reality: The theory that the way people view reality is based on how those around them view it

Social capital: The non-monetary resources available to a person that stem from their human interaction, including information, opportunities, power and influence, liking, reputation, cooperation and more

Group: Two or more people who interact regularly, have a sense of belonging and have their own chosen norms

Aggregate: A collection of people who happen to be at the same place at the same time

Network: A series of social ties that can be important sources of information, contacts, and assistance for its members

Nuclear family: One or both primary caregivers and their children

Primary group: A group that has emotional intimacy, a great sense of belonging and meets frequently, such as a family

Secondary group: A group that is more formal and less personal than a primary group but still meets regularly, such as a workplace or neighborhood group

Reference group: A group people compare themselves with for purposes of self-evaluation

Group dynamics: The ways in which an individual’s thoughts and behaviors are influenced by their groups

Master status: The main trait or status that a person is known by, such as their occupation (i.e. stay-at-home mom)

Groupthink: The tendency of people to follow the majority opinions of the group, leading to narrow, uncreative views and solutions

Multiculturalism: The existence and fair-minded acceptance of multiple cultural heritages living side by side

Ethnocentrism: The tendency to judge another culture by the standards of one’s own culture

Contact hypothesis: A hyposthesis stating that prejudice declines when people in an in-group become more familiar with the customs, norms, food, music, and attitudes of people in an out-group

Race: Shared physical characteristics corresponding (sometimes loosely or with complexity) to a genetically similar group

Ethnicity: however, refers to cultural factors, including nationality, regional culture, ancestry, and language.

Gender socialization: The tendency for boys and girls to be socialized differently

Feminism: An ideology aimed at achieving the full equality of the sexes

Sex: One’s anatomical gender

Gender: One’s felt or experienced gender

Cisgender: The quality of having the same anatomical and experienced gender

Transgender: The quality of having an experienced gender different from one’s anatomical gender

Transsexual: A person who has had gender reassignment surgery

Non-binary gender: An umbrella term for genders that fall somewhere in the middle of the gender spectrum and are neither strictly male or female

Queer theory: A field of critical theory that interprets literature, culture and history through the lens of non-binary gender issues

Body dysphoria: Discomfort experienced because of the difference between gender and your sex, role, or gender expression

Social alienation: A condition of rejection or incomplete integration into a community

Disenfranchisement: The revocation of the right to vote and other legal rights

The Other: A person or group of people thought to be different, even alien, by another person or group

Human rights: Rights all people are entitled to and that some people fight to lawfully support

Pluralistic society: A society composed of many different races, ethnicities and cultures

Class conflict/class warfare/class struggle: The political tension and economic inequalities that exist between social classes

Power: The ability to achieve one’s goals, even in the face of resistance

Socioeconomic status (SES): A calculation of one’s education, income, occupation and possibly ethnicity and gender that results in a nonscientific social categorization

Social mobility: Movement up or down within the social hierarchy

Stratification: The hierarchical ranking of a society’s members members

Caste system: A social system based on ascribed statuses, traits or characteristics that people possess at birth

Class system: A social system based partly or largely on achieved statuses, traits or characteristics that are earned and chosen

Social classes in the United States: Upper class, new money, middle class, working class, working poor, poverty level

Elite: A small group of powerful people who hold a disproportionate amount of wealth, privilege, political power, or skill in a society

Power elite: A small group of the most wealthy, powerful, and influential people in business, government, and the military that are thought to run a society

Nobility: The highest stratum of the estate system of stratification whose members had significant inherited wealth and did little or no discernible work

Upper class: The class of people with inherited wealth and a recognizable family name

New money: The class of people whose wealth has been around only for a generation or two

Bourgeoisie and proletariat: In Marxist theory, the bourgeoisie is the class of people that owns the industrial means of production, to whom the much larger base of working class proletariat sells their services

Middle class: The class of people who earn their money by working at professional white-collar jobs

Working class: The class of people who earn their money by working at blue-collar jobs that require less training

Working poor: The class people whose work leaves them vulnerable to falling below the poverty level

Poor/poverty level people: The class of people who live below the poverty line

Meritocracy: A system of stratification in which positions are given according to individual merit

Skilled worker and unskilled worker: A skilled worker is a worker who is literate and has experience and expertise in specific areas of production or on specific kinds of machines. This is in contrast to an unskilled worker, who does not.

Domestic worker: A person who works within an employer’s household

Poverty level: An estimate set by the federal government of the minimum income that a family needs to survive

The American Dream: The idea that all people, regardless of the conditions into which they were born and their current SES, have the chance to succeed

Social darwinism: The late-nineteenth century theory that the strong should see their wealth and power increase while the weak should see their wealth and power decrease

Primogeniture: A law stipulating that only a first-born son could inherit his father’s wealth

Industrial society: A society that uses advanced sources of energy, rather than humans and animals, to run large machinery

Postindustrial society: A society that features an economy based on services and technology, not production

Industrializing nations/developing nations: Countries that are in the process of becoming industrialized

First-world, second-world and third-world nations: A classification of countries according to their level of modernization, infrastructure and wealth

Institution: A set of norms surrounding the carrying out of a function necessary for the survival of a society

Bureaucracy: An institution with a hierarchy of rigid, rule-bound officials

Neocolonialism: A theory concerning the tendency of the most industrialized nations to exploit less developed countries politically and economically

Hegemony: The political, economic, or military predominance or control of one state over others

The modern period/modernism: The historical period lasting from roughly the beginning of the nineteenth century and ending in the mid-twentieth century, which followed the Enlightenment period and was followed by the postmodern period.

The postmodern period/postmodernism: The postmodern period is the historical period that began in the mid-twentieth century as a reaction to the wars of the early part of the century and other political and social upheavals. Postmodernism is the underlying belief in the absence of truth, certainty and/or absolutes. It is a broad movement across philosophy, the arts, architecture, and criticism, marking a departure from the more traditional views of modernism.

Patriarchy: A society in which men hold most of the power, including political, moral, financial and social power, and places of leadership.

Secularization: The transformation of a society from close identification with religious values and institutions toward nonreligious values and secular institutions

Urbanization: The process by which a large percentage of a population migrates toward urban centers

Gentrification: The changes that occur when wealthier residents and businesses move into a neighborhood or area in large numbers, including loss of unique local qualities; appropriation of unique qualities; and the pricing out of current residents

Sociocultural anthropology: The study of human behavior within a particular cultural group in the context of that group

Recidivism: The tendency of convicted criminals to repeat offenses

White-collar crime: Nonviolent crime committed by middle class professionals, often in the context of the workplace

Victimless crime: Crimes in which laws are violated but that lack an identifiable victim

Revolution: A violent overthrow of the government by its citizens

Polygamy: Marriage between one man and more than one woman

Sect: A religious group that sets itself apart from society as a whole

POC: Person of color

Racial prejuduce: The unavoidable mental associations and generalizations every person retains concerning race

Racial discrimination: A statement or act that seeks to remove power or dignity from a person of color. Discrimination comes in numerous forms, including: ignoring a person of color’s input or ideas, making statements that reveal racial prejuduce and remaining silent in response to an act of discrimination

Racism: The systemic, institutionalized discrimination and prejuduce that pervades every level of society, including workplaces, governments, the criminal justice system and many more

Microaggression: A statement or act that betrays a person’s racial prejuduce and in some way diminishes a person of color but does not overtly discriminate against them. An example is a careless statement about a person’s hair texture or not looking at a person of color when talking to a group.

White supremacy: The assumed intellectual, cultural and moral superiority of white people, as opposed to people of color. The term was first used to refer to white people who worked for racial segregation and the oppression of people of color, but is now widely used to refer to the innumerable cultural messages that permeate Western society.

White privilege: The sum total of the many small and large benefits of being white

White fragility: The defensiveness displayed by many white people during discussions about race, which leads them to provide overly simplistic solutions, dramatize their own suffering, display anger, avoid discussion, shut down discussion/change topic or focus, seek white solidarity and more.

Institutionalized racism:

The prison industrial complex:

The New Jim Crow: The modern system for denying numerous civil rights to people of color in the United States, particularly, but not limited to, people previously convicted of felony crimes. The New Jim Crow includes laws which allow for unconstitutional acts, such as search and seizure without cause, racial profiling, targeted policing, cruel and unusual punishment, unfair trials and much more. People with felony records are made second-class citizens and routinely denied access to job opportunities, business licenses, gun licenses, housing, food assistance, insurance, loans, educational assistance and much more. They are also unable to vote, serve on a jury and perform other civic duties. One of the results of the New Jim Crow is that currently, one in three black men in the U.S. will serve time in jail at some point during their lives.

Mass incarceration: The legally sanctioned imprisonment of over two million people in the United States, 40 percent of whom are people of color, and many of whom are required to provide very low-cost to free labor to many U.S. corporations working through contracts with the prison system. Overall rates of incarceration in the U.S. have gone from 350,000 in 1940 to over 2 million in 2015, with the majority of all prisoners worldwide residing in U.S. prisons. This statistic does not include inmates in detainment centers for undocumented workers and their families, which largely resemble U.S. prisons and are growing at a rapid rate.

Auguste Comte: The father of sociology. The upheavals of both the French Revolution, then those of the industrial revolution inspired him to found a new social science outside of the current social sciences of politics and history. He argued that industrialization is to blame for class struggle. Working in the early 19th century, he sought to hold sociology to the fact-based standards of other sciences.

Emile Durkheim: One of the first sociologists and the person who established the first department of sociology. He largely agreed with Comte’s ideas. These, in tandem with the controversial ideas of Karl Marx and Max Weber, helped the new science gain traction.

Karl Marx: The sociologist/philosopher who theorized that capitalism was the cause of class struggle. He argued that sociology should include not just facts, but social critique.

Weber: The sociologist who blamed secularization and rationalization for class struggle. Like Marx, he believed that social critique should be included in studies of sociology. After World War I,

Post-World War I advancements: Michael Foucault, Charles Wright Mills and others expanded the subject further, creating new research methods and focusing on a wider range of topics, including primary socialization, race issues and the corrupting nature of power. By the mid-twentieth century, sociology had gained traction in the academic community. Today, sociological research is used by businesses, governments and other institutions.

School in a Book: Political Science

Image by Keith Johnston from Pixabay

Before you debate, learn your stuff. Here’s what you need to know in order to do your civic duties well.

Note that some political terms are not mutually exclusive; for example, the U.S. can be described as a democracy, a republic, a capitalist country or a federation.

Find U.S. elected officials on usa.gov/elected-officials.

BASIC POLITICAL SCIENCE

Politics: The complicated, multi-part process of choosing laws and lawmakers

Government: On a state or national level, a politically based institution that makes and enforces laws; conducts foreign affairs; conducts war and related self-protective acts; and performs many other specified duties, such as education and infrastructure building and maintenance.

Political science: The study of political history, processes, people and ideas

Political party: A named group that shares political preferences and seeks to have their representatives elected

Suffrage: The right and ability to vote

Power: The ability to get others to do what you want

Political ideology: A set of beliefs about the right, practical and preferable function, structure and powers of government

The main political ideologies: In order on the political spectrum: anarchy; libertarianism; conservativism; progressive liberalism; socialism, communism, fascism/totalitarianism

The political spectrum: A way of organizing political ideologies according to the amount of government control and, conversely, the amount of individual freedom the adherents believe is proper, practical and preferable. Commonly, the political spectrum is viewed as a straight line, giving rise to the “left-right” terminology commonly used. It might also be viewed as a circle. The political spectrum is as follows, starting at the right: fascism/totalitarianism; anarchy; libertarian capitalism; conservative capitalism; progressive liberal capitalism; socialism; and communism.

The two main types of political issues: Economic and social. Economic issues also concern the size, structure and power of government, the amount of individual freedom and liberty and foreign policy. Social issues are many and diverse and are often also directly economically salient; therefore, the division between these issues is at times confusing and irrelevant. Social issues usually capture a greater amount of popular interest, but economic issues are usually more foundational to a country’s functioning.

Important present-day political issues: As evidenced by the political ideologies, the main political issue is the size and powers of the government in question and, conversely, the amount of individual freedom and liberty allowed by that government. Other matters of governmental structure, plus economic policy and foreign policy are also highly significant.

Important present-day social issues: abortion, affirmative action, agricultural policy and land reform, animal rights and animal testing, capital punishment, censorship, internet censorship, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, Internet taxation, climate change policy, direct democracy, disarmament and nonproliferation, drug policy and reform, education policy and reform, electoral reform, foreign policy, gay rights and gay marriage, gun rights and gun control, health care policy and reform, immigration policy and reform, Israeli–Palestinian conflict, language policy, lobbying, medical marijuana, NATO expansion, nuclear testing, political corruption, race relations, science and technology policy, separation of church and state, space policy, stem cells and the stem cell controversy, tax reform, terrorism, counter-terrorism, welfare reform and more.

Republican: A member of the U.S. political party called the Republican Party. Republicans value small government, low taxes, a laissez-faire economy and freedom from government intervention.

Democrat: A member of the U.S. political party called the Democratic Party. Democrats value social justice, moderate or high taxes, greater government intervention in business and economic processes and a more robust welfare system.

Independent: Citizens who do not belong to or identify with either political party

Third party: Any of many U.S. political parties other than the democratic or republican party

Democracy: A political system or ideology in which leaders are (directly or indirectly, through elected representatives) elected by the general public of eligible voters. New elections occur regularly.

Constitutional democracy: A democracy in which the rights and powers of the people are described in a constitution, which is the foundational law of the land.

Conservativism: A political ideology promoting slow change, restricted government (particularly central government), efficient use of government resources (to the detriment of social reform and publicly funded institutions), and traditional social values. An economic conservative espouses only the ideology’s economic ideas, and a social conservative espouses only the ideology’s social values. The Republican Party is the conservative party in the U.S.

Liberalism: In the U.S., a political ideology promoting social and economic reform, higher taxes and greater governmental power. It is sometimes also called progressivism. The Democratic Party is the liberal party in the U.S. In Europe, liberalism is the opposite and very similar to conservativism. This type of liberalism contrasts with the Labour Party, which is similar to U.S. liberalism.

Republic/democratic republic/federal republic: A form of government in which leaders, including a supreme leader and many local representatives, are elected democratically. These leaders then make laws and vote on them on behalf of their constituents.

Constituents: Voters and other citizens being represented by political leaders

Presidential government: A republic with a separate executive branch from the legislative branch that is led by a president.

Islamic republic: A democratic republic that is also a theocracy, as all laws must be compatible with the rules of Islam.

Commonwealth: The traditional English term for a republic.

Parliamentary government: A form of government in which the executive branch, including a main leader and an advisory cabinet, is chosen by a legislature or parliament. The leader is called a prime minister or a chancellor. This branch can be dissolved by the parliament and can in turn dissolve the parliament.

Parliamentary democracy: A democracy in which the legislature is elected by the general population and the prime minister is elected by the legislature based on party strength resulting from elections.

Parliamentary monarchy: A parliamentary democracy in which there is also a ceremonial monarch who is not directly involved in lawmaking.

Prime minister: The leader of a parliamentary government

Capitalism: A political system or ideology based on private ownership, free-market competition and the profit motive.

Welfare capitalism: Capitalism that also includes an extensive social welfare system, including universal health care, education and more.

State capitalism: Capitalism that is highly regulated by the government.

Socialism: A political system or ideology in which the democratically elected leaders attempt a large-scale redistribution of wealth

Communism: A political system or ideology in which the state, usually run by a small group of leaders, controls everything, including the economy. The state eliminates private ownership of property or capital, claiming that all people share ownership of these resources. Leaders are not elected democratically.

Marxism: A form of communism devised by Karl Marx in the late nineteenth century that he claimed would free the proletariat (workers) from exploitation by capitalists (business owners), resulting in a classless society.

Totalitarianism/authoritarianism: A political system or ideology in which state authority is total and brutally enforced. Political matters, economic matters and even attitudes and beliefs are tightly controlled.

Fascism: A form of totalitarianism that existed in several nations during World War II

Nazism: National Socialism, the form of fascism that existed in Germany during World War II

Libertarianism: A political system or ideology that seeks to maximize the freedom of the individual and minimize the size and powers of the government. It is an extreme form of conservativism.

Anarchy: A political system or ideology characterized by a lack of governmental authority and resulting lawlessness. Most often, anarchy is the result of continuous civil war and political upheaval, though anarchists promote anarchy as a preferred system.

Monarchy: A form of government led by a single supreme leader. The leader’s powers vary by state. In a constitutional monarchy, the monarch is limited and guided by a constitution, the foundational law of the land. An emirate is a form of monarchy ruled by an emir (the ruler of a Muslim state). A sultanate is ruled by a sultan.

Oligarchy: A form of government that is led by a small group of (usually wealthy and well-connected) individuals

Dictatorship: A political system or ideology in which a single ruler or a small group of rulers has absolute power unconfined by any law

Federalism/federation/confederacy/confederation: A general term for a political system or ideology in which a group of individual states or provinces are united under a central government with limited powers

Theocracy: A form of government in which a deity or religion, as interpreted by religious professionals, is supreme. An ecclesiastical state, such as Vatican City, is a theocracy that is led by the church itself.

Feudalism: A past political system in which loyalties and monies were exchanged for food, land, military service and more. It operated in Europe in the Middle Ages, and is also known as the feudal system. Peasants were loyal to knights, knights to lords and lords to kings.

Foreign policy: The government’s theoretical standpoints and actual involvement in international politics and affairs. Foreign policy has far-reaching consequences, leading to war, effective trade, trade disputes, nuclear proliferation, nuclear war prevention, humanitarianism, environmental affects, terrorism, the prevention of terrorism and more.

Major foreign policy strategies: Diplomacy, foreign aid (either military or economic) and military force

Isolationist: A person who advocates non-intervention or low intervention in international affairs

Internationalist: A person who advocates taking an active role in international affairs

Interest group: An organization of people who share a common interest and work together to protect and promote that interest by influencing the government. Can be either economic or noneconomic. Business special interest group are the most common type, but labor groups (representing labor unions) are also powerful and seek the interests of skilled and unskilled workers. Interest groups are not allowed to recommend a certain voting decision. Interest groups are not allowed to donate money to campaigns directly, but they can contribute money through their

Political action committee (PAC): A group of people representing various special interests (such as corporations) who donate to and support political campaigns. Some PACs write legislation, then pass it to legislators, who introduce it verbatim. An example of a highly influential PAC is ALEC, who contributed significantly to the growth of the prison-industrial complex by promoting longer sentencing, three-strikes-you’re-out laws and more.

Lobbying: The attempt to influence lawmakers in their policy and voting decisions. This is done professionally by large organizations and by individuals and smaller groups as well. Lobbying is highly effective, but its ethics are complicated as many lobbyists promote self-serving policies that might do harm to the large body of citizens the representative is responsible to.

Lobbying techniques: Persuasion, information, material incentives, economic leverage, disruption, amicus curae (court briefs to influence court decisions) and litigation. Lobbyists sometimes get only two or three minutes of an official’s time to make their case. Former government officials often become lobbyists and earn a high salary as such.

Grassroots activism: The process of mobilizing large numbers of people to achieve the interest group’s goal. Grassroots techniques include: letter writing campaigns, rallies and marches, petitions, initiatives, Hill visits by normal citizens, advertising, writing policy education materials such as voter guides, publicly posting positions of members of Congress on key issues, meeting attendance (including local meetings of city councils, boards of education and more), campaigning, working for a party organization.

Soft money: Unregulated money given by interest groups. This was outlawed but loopholes are constantly being sought.

How to register to vote: In the U.S., legal residents over the age of 18 can vote. Register online, at a state or local election office or at the department of motor vehicles. Update your voter registration if you change addresses.

Other ways to get involved in politics: Serving as a poll worker, donating to candidates, running for local office, joining a citizen advisory board, creating a petition, writing about and discussing your issue or candidate of choice. Note that it is more effective to send letters to state officials than to DC. Calling is more effective than writing letters, and in-person visits are best of all.

Legitimacy: The acceptance of a governing authority by its citizens

Authority: The ability of a governing authority to govern without the use of force

Sovereignty: The right to of self-government, as the right of a nation to choose how to govern itself. When a state’s citizens can appeal to a higher body (such as state judicial decisions being appealed to the Supreme Court), that state is not sovereign.

English colony and U.S. protectorate: A state that mostly governs itself but recognizes the right of another state to interfere. These are not sovereign.

Forms of political organization: The main form is the nation-state, also called a nation, a state or a country. Other forms are international political organizations, such as NATO, non-government organizations (NGOs), outlaw regimes and more.

Regime: Any particular government that is in power at a particular time (i.e. “the current regime”)

Constitution: Written agreement that outlines the foundational law of the land, including the powers of the different branches of government and the powers of citizens.

Nationalism: The idea that each nation should hold sovereignty, without being unduly influenced by global politics and organizations such as NATO

Egalitarianism: A belief in the inherent equality of all people, and the right to political equality of all people

Political corruption: The use of entrusted powers by government officials for private gain. This includes extortion, cronyism, nepotism, patronage, graft, pork barreling, embezzlement and conflict of interest exchanges.

Extortion: Bribery

Cronyism: The favoring of friends

Nepotism: The favoring family members

Patronage: Working for the interests of a single person or group instead of for one’s own purposes and interests

Graft: Various ways of using public monies for private gain, including granting lucrative contracts to friends who might then pay you

Pork barreling: Representatives trading favors with other representatives to bring more money to their area. This is frequently done by agreeing to vote for another lawmaker’s bill if benefits to their area are added to the same bill, even if the benefits are unrelated.

Embezzlement: Stealing money you’re entrusted with but that doesn’t belong solely to you

Conflict of interest: An ethically problematic situation in which a person in power holds two different responsibilities that might have conflicting goals, resulting in difficult choices on the part of that person. An example of this is a state representative who is also a member of the board of a large company, such as a drug manufacturer, who might pressure the representative to pass legislation that is amenable to their cause.

Rider: An addition to a law that has nothing to do with that law, added to gain favor with the representatives who benefit from the rider

Party identification: Loyalty to a political party, whether or not one is an official member of that party

Duopoly: The condition in which political power is shared by two political parties

Partisan journalism: Media sources that are clearly and openly biased in a party’s favor

Yellow journalism: Reporting shocking stories to attract a larger audience

Public policy: Any rule, plan, or action pertaining to issues of domestic national importance

Bureaucracy: The people who administer government and other very large organizations

Machine: A hierarchically organized, centrally led state or local party organization that rewards members with material benefits