More Cursive Writing Worksheets

CursiveSo I just noticed that people are still landing on my blog looking for creative writing worksheets. Back when I wrote my first one, my son was in second grade; now he is in sixth!! Anyway, I just created some of the worksheets I promised you, so here they are. (I don’t know what happened to the old ones I made, or why I never uploaded them.) If you want to create your own worksheets, there’s a link to the website on the post I linked to above.

Books of the Old Testament

Books of the New Testament

Months of the Year

Days of the Week

Names Alphabetical

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/31124313@N02/3921162736″>cursive-letters from the Karen Whimsey in the public domain</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

Quick and Easy Budget Cooking Tips

I typed up some tips for a friend today, and figured I should share them with you all as well! Here they are:

I don’t always keep fresh veggies and a couple of other odd ingredients on-hand (because they go bad so quickly), but I still use several recipes that call for them; I just have to make a quick trip to the store first.

I always use the cheap version of everything. If a recipe calls for chicken wings, I use thighs, etc.

Also, I never use a whole pound of meat. I will buy a 3-lb. frozen roll of hamburger, cook it all, drain the fat, and divide it into 5 baggies. I refreeze those, and use one portion when it calls for a pound of beef. With chicken, I always just buy a big bag of thighs. When the recipe calls for a pound of chicken, I just take one piece out of the bag and boil it. (I do everything the easy way, lol.) Then I tear it in pieces and toss it in with the rest of the recipe.

Also, a lot of times, I’ll just use whatever type of cheese, veggie, meat, or filler (beans, rice, pasta, potatoes) that I have on-hand or that I need to use up. I don’t always follow the recipe. (Except for spices – I am terrible at guessing at those! Lol.) I also like to stretch recipes by adding extra filler.

I always use lemon juice instead of lime because it’s cheaper, and it keeps for a long time in the fridge.

You can get enchilada sauce in the Mexican aisle at Wal-Mart. I think it’s cheaper than making it at home or from the mix that ALDI carries sometimes.

You can substitute refried beans for hummus. It’s good both ways.

FreeImages.com/Gabriel Bulla

FreeImages.com/Gabriel Bulla

When you make homemade pizza, you can cook Italian bread slices for 10 minutes or so, then add the toppings (tomato sauce, pizza spices, and any combination of veggies and meat). You can add the toppings before baking, but the bread might be a little moist when it is finished. I like it either way. Also, I always just allow my family to pick and choose from the veggies I have on-hand, and each family member makes their own unique mini-pizzas. This idea also works with tortillas, if you don’t have any bread on-hand.

I hope you find a few of these ideas helpful! Let me know if you have any more to share!

Ever Changing

Christie Thomas

FreeImages.com/Christie Thomas

I have been reading back through some of my old posts this week, and there are a few points in which I no longer agree with myself. I have changed my mind about several things over the course of the last year or so. As I compile some of my popular articles into a book and expound on the ideas presented, I am finding that I am leaving a lot of remarks out, and even changing a few things altogether. It is my hope that I understand things a little better than I did when I first penned these blog entries. It is my prayer and fervent desire that the Lord bring me into a fuller knowledge of the truth. I know that I hunger and thirst after His righteousness, and that I have been marveling at how perfect His law is. I am considering re-posting some of my well-read topics with comments about how my perspective has changed. Would that be weird? Providing commentary on my own writings? Ha, if I have time, I think I am going to do it. If for no other reason than to provide clarity for anyone I may have confused along the way.

Music-Themed Ideas for Core Subjects

In my last post, I mentioned a few ideas of how to work music into your homeschool day. However, all of those examples were only good for non-core homeschool hours. What should you do if you really need more core hours, but you want to work music in somehow? Here are a couple of  ideas.

Rhythm worksheets: You can replace number values with notes and rests and create math worksheets for all levels. Addition and subtraction are the simplest, but there’s no reason why you can’t do multiplication, fractions, and even algebra! (Tie notes together for larger values). Be really creative, and try to make the worksheet fun. These exercises will help your child learn to instantly recognize note and rest values.

Research paper (history, social studies, or language arts): Teach your child how to conduct research, take notes, and write a paper. They could choose a composer, a musical genre, the invention of an instrument, etc. If you look up music appreciation topics, you’ll see many good ideas to choose from.

If you need help teaching your middle- or high-schooler how to get from square one to finished paper, I teach classes for that in my hometown, and would be willing to teach it via email. If you would like more information, just email me, and I will get back with you. (My email address is included on the syllabus below.)

Write an Outstanding Paper Syllabus

Writing: Write the first half of a story using notes instead of letters as often as possible. Have your child finish the story on his own. Provide him with staff paper that you can print for free online. Try to create a good mix of treble and bass clef notes.

Spelling: Have your student choose the correct spelling of a word (from among 2 or more misspelled ones). Use notes instead of letters anywhere you can.

I am sure there are tons of activities like this floating around. Can you think of any more?

FreeImages.com/St. Mattox

FreeImages.com/St. Mattox

Non-Core Hour Ideas: Music

Okay, so we Missouri homeschoolers all know we need 600 hours of core subjects per year, but how do we fill the 400 non-core hours? Sure, you could just have your child reinforce core skills – we aren’t required that the remaining hours be something other than math, language arts, social studies, and science. But why do that to your children? Give them a much-needed break and allow them to enrich their lives by offering some creative topics for study. Some areas are rich with classes for homeschoolers. In our immediate area, we have gymnastics, archery, art, choirs, and bands. These are just the non-core offerings, and there may be even more that I am not aware of. Whether or not you have access to homeschool classes, almost every area will have a music teacher of some sort.

Putting your children into music lessons is a sure-fire way to fill some of that time. Here’s what I recommend: a 30 minute lesson once a week and 30 minutes of daily practice time. (Including lesson day, and here’s why: the sooner the student gets to the piano after his lesson, the better his retention will be – thus making it easier on him in the long run and improving his progress overall.) That totals an hour of music on lesson days, and 30 minutes on subsequent days.

If you would like to stretch those daily half hour sessions to an hour, I have come up with a few ideas for you. (If an hour or 30 minutes is too long for your child’s attention span, you can easily break the practice and extras down into 15-minute increments.)

Piano Play: Allow your child to sit in front of the piano and just make things up. Show him how to make simple chords (you can YouTube it or ask your music teacher) and improvise a melody. Or just let him experiment and see what kinds of sounds and rhythm he can come up with on his own. Children often enjoy this unstructured play time, and it can be a great stress reliever (especially if you allow them to express their emotions through the volume and tempo).

Flashcards/Theory: If you really want to get your children’s music lessons off to a flying start, flashcards are a great way to reinforce primary concepts. You can help your child make some (look for tutorials online), you can download them for free, or you can find an app that quizzes your music-learner. You could even go all-out and buy a pack.😉 Spending time with flashcards each week will greatly increase a beginner’s sight-reading capability.

Listening: Choose some classical music (or any other genre they are interested in) and allow your child to soak it up as they eat, play, or do homework (best if there are no lyrics). I would even count contemporary music listening as non-core hours if I were making it a point to analyze it in some way after listening: what makes country music different from pop? What instruments, rhythms, or techniques does this specific genre use that gives the listener a clue to what kind of music he is hearing? If the student is advanced, you could even discuss chord progressions and voicing.

Singing: Find some songs on YouTube or a sing-a-long, and have your children learn the words and melody. This reinforces their memory skills and can be quite enjoyable. Also, you could look for songs that would benefit other subject areas, such as math, science, history, etc. (If you have several kids, they can play musical chairs while learning by rote. I use this technique with my choir kids, and it’s a great way to get them to sing the same words over and over and over again without showing the slightest sign of boredom!)

Make Instruments: Help your kids make a cigar-box guitar or a bean shaker. You can find tutorials online. Percussion instruments can be made from almost anything. Next, model rhythms for your child, and have them mimic you on their very own hand-crafted instrument. (You can play the same game with melodies instead of beats if you feel like singing, lol.)

FreeImages.com/Adriano Carvalho

FreeImages.com/Adriano Carvalho

These are just a few non-core activities off the top of my head. I’m sure there are many more that I am missing. Subscribe to my blog, and be on the lookout for ways to get music-themed CORE hours.

 

Can you think of any more non-core ideas? Leave them in the comments below.

Why Take Piano Lessons? My Personal List

Child Piano

FreeImages.com/Carlo Lazzeri

Several years ago, I stopped teaching piano lessons after having taught for over 15 years. I was burned out; my students were burned out. We just weren’t having any fun! Not long after that, I began attending a new church and immediately assumed the role of church pianist. Even though the idea of sight-reading in public scared me to death, I had never had so much fun playing in all my life! A year or two down the road, my playing had drastically improved, and I was teaching music to anyone who would sit still and listen: children and teens from church, nieces, nephews, visitors. I just couldn’t instill enough knowledge and fun ideas into those around me. As of last July, I have been teaching again and loving it! My students are enjoying their lessons and progressing quickly, and I am happy.

I have put together a short little list of personal reasons for taking piano lessons. Here they are:

  1. Creative Outlet. From day one, you begin learning the elements you will need to make music for the rest of your life. Some teachers even incorporate creativity into their lessons. I have seen some great improvisation methods that are geared for beginners, and the piano method I use has several improvisation opportunities sprinkled throughout the theory books. It won’t be long before a new student is sitting at the piano and conjuring up melodies of his own. Children are very creative; I think mostly because they aren’t so self conscious and don’t put as much stock in “perfection.” However, as a musician practices and grows, he will expand his musical horizons, thus allowing him to improvise with ever more confidence and technique.
  2. Discipline. I strive for discipline in my own life. Discipline to keep the house clean, to cook meals at home, exercise and eat right, and improve my skills and knowledge. Playing the piano gives me a way of practicing discipline. I must discipline myself to sit still and break down a complex passage, or figure out how I want a specific song to sound. As a mom, I also appreciate music for the perfect way that it fits into my son’s life, providing him a form of discipline. Even when he doesn’t have homework or chores, it gives him something productive he can do every single day.
  3. Distraction from Distractions. Believe it or not, I have a lot of trouble coming up with ideas for my son when it comes to how he spends his free time. Like most kids his age, he plays his fair share of video games and enjoys watching shows on Netflix, but I also like to make sure he gets completely away from technology from time to time. Sometimes I just make him turn off the TV and allow him to have unstructured playtime, or invention time, or whatever he can come up with. However, one of his favorite things to do during this time is play the piano. He loves to sit and pick out melodies that he has been listening to throughout the day.
  4. Fun and Relaxation. Just listen to a few piano tunes on YouTube, and imagine yourself being able to play them. This should help you understand how addicting it can be to increase your skill with a musical instrument. Every time you play well, you can feel good about the effort you put into learning and practicing. In addition, as the sounds wash over your soul, you get to enjoy the results of all your hard work. Playing piano is also a fantastic way to unwind or de-stress; it’s one of my favorite things to do when I find myself worried about something, and I just want to escape for a little while.
  5. Unique You. Ok, well, you’re already unique. But imagine throwing a piano into the mix. Just think about the ideas and personality that you will bring to the table while picking up a skill such as this one. It’s even possible to develop your own playing style that no one else can lay claim to. On top of all that, there probably aren’t that many people in your area that play the piano really well. You could be one of the few. All it takes is dedication and consistency, and you’ll find your skills improving in leaps and bounds.
  6. A Skill to Pass Along. If you’re anything like me, this is the best part. I love showing someone how to play almost any song with just three or four chords. I love showing them how to use a fake book, how to read sheet music, how to add dynamics and make the music speak. Broken down, the steps are all so simple and easy to grasp. Even when I’m not teaching an official lesson, I just cannot wait for the next person to come along and ask me a musical question so I can open his world to the magic waiting at his fingertips. And, if you become skilled enough, and love teaching as much as I do, you might even make a living at it!
  7. Endless Possibilities. The beauty of learning to play the piano is that there is always something new to learn. Even if you become a top-notch sight-reader and can play classical music like the great composers themselves, there will always be more territory to cover. Jazz, blues, Latin, improvisation, composition, lead sheets. You will never run out of things that pique your interest. This is fabulous news for those of us who love learning for the sake of learning.

What do you think? Do you agree with this list? What reasons would you add?

Favorite, Easy Recipes from On-Hand Items

Here are a few of the items that I have been keeping on-hand all the time. All of these items keep well for a very long time. From the following list, you can make several recipes, and I am including them below.

You will find that you eat out less and spend a lot less money on convenience items if you always have something around that you can just throw together for dinner. If this idea helps you out, or if you have more go-to recipe ideas, let me know in the comment section!

Ingredients:

Rotel

Chili beans

Kidney beans

Black beans x2

Chili powder

Cumin

Parsley

Basil

Apple cider vinegar (or red wine vinegar)

Frozen ground beef

Velveeta

Marinara

Pasta (any kind)

Oil

Rice

Garlic powder

Tomato sauce

Corn

Hot sauce

Vegetable broth

Salsa

Tortilla chips

Cheesecake mix

Milk

Butter

Cherry pie filling

Sugar

Recipes:

Vegan Chili IngredientsEasy Vegan Chili (or you can add ground beef)

4-Ingredient Lasagna

Spaghetti (spaghetti, marinara, ground beef)

Mexican Rice (oil, rice, salt, garlic powder, tomato sauce)

Black bean & salsa soup

Dump into a pot:

1 can corn (with water from can)

1 can black beans (with water)

16 oz. salsa

1 T. broth of choice

1 t. cumin

1 t. hot sauce

Heat on medium until warm and garnish with corn chips

I try to keep cheesecake mix on hand for unexpected company. It only takes 5 minutes to mix and an hour to chill.

If you keep a lot of veggies on hand, you can use them to throw together a salad, stir-fry, or lazy pizza (any kind of oven-baked bread or tortilla, topped with tomato sauce, cheese, ground beef, spices, and fresh veggies). You can also add them to rice, quinoa, or pasta for a quick nutritional boost.Lazy Lasagna Ingredients