Tag Archives: homeschooling

I love my little blog…

Wow, so it has been forever since I posted anything besides a recycled post from ages past. Part of me says to give it up, shut it down, walk away…but only the very busiest part of me! I love what this blog is and was, and I hope to never leave it completely behind. It represents who I am and how I came to be–my journey through homeschooling adventures, religious growth, business endeavors, etc. In everything I wrote, I wanted to be helpful to others and offer ideas and insights. Hopefully, some of you found it helpful!

I really don’t know how often I’ll continue to post here; I’m hoping life will slow down for me someday, and that I’ll have the time to relax and just blah, blah, blah (like the good old days). For now though, I’m in over my head with my tutoring business: Crescenza Studio. Last spring, or maybe the one before–it’s a blur–I had a piano parent ask me if I could also teach IEW (Institute for Excellence in Writing) classes. I was familiar with it from having taught Ian and a couple of families over the years, so I said, “Sure,” not knowing it was about to change my life.

I told her I’d need at least four students, but she found me eight! (Thanks, Ann, you’re the best!) Well, they kept signing up for classes, and their siblings started taking classes, and then I decided to go online to get even more students, and…well, now, here we are. Last year was my busiest ever, and 2022-23 is gearing up to be my NEW busiest year ever. I’m loving it but trying to decide what to cut back on as I open up room in my new life for my new favorite language arts curriculum.

Anywhoo, here’s my new website: Crescenza.Studio

I have almost no slots left for private lessons, but I do still have some room in my IEW classes, so if you’re so inclined, take a gander. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me!

Once I get my non-teaching life figured out, I hope I’ll get to visit with you all again on a regular basis. For now, much love!


Post from the Past: Multi-Sensory Creative Writing, Lesson 2

Lesson 2

Play music as the kids come into the classroom. After they are seated, turn it off, and discuss what the music makes them think of.

Turn on another type of music, and have the kids write about whatever comes into their minds for the next 10 minutes (free write).

Some good pieces for this:

  1. The Swan (Saint-Saëns)
  2. Mbube (Lady Blacksmith Mambazo)
  3. Waltz of the Flowers (Windham Hill Guitarists)
  4. From a Raindrop to a River (Autumn’s Child)
  5. Forever in Love (Kenny G)

Did the music make you feel happy or sad?

Read homework; talk about editing. Talk about how many different story ideas came from one prompt.

What happens when you mix music with an object or picture in your story?

Play one more piece, and have the students write, mixing music with one other element.


Choose music at home to listen to while writing. See if it influences your mood at all.

Pick another topic as a class: (e.g. write about your pet – could be completely off the wall, a true story, or anywhere in between.)

Post from the Past: Creative Writing Supplement, Incorporating Objects

Yesterday, I posted my first lesson for Multi-Sensory Creative Writing. In addition to doing all of the things suggested in lesson one, I also gave each student a hand-out that listed several ways to incorporate objects into a story. The kids and I had a blast doing this lesson! Be sure to post any stories or comments regarding the list!

Seven ways in which you can incorporate objects into your writing.

  1. Character has a flashback after seeing an object.
  2. Ordinary object with an extraordinary purpose (clicking a ball-point pen stops time).
  3. Object is important somehow, but main character doesn’t realize it yet.
  4. Try mixing two or more unrelated objects (dissimilar elements).
  5. Character has an obsession with an object (or collection of objects).
  6. Plot revolves around the object.
  7. Follow an object through its lifetime.

For your convenience, I am uploading the list as a Word doc: Using Objects.

Post from the Past: Multi-Sensory Creative Writing, Lesson 1

Since our studio doesn’t give homeschool music classes through the summer, I joined a new co-op to keep my son busy these last three months. I’ve always wanted to teach a creative writing class, and the co-op members graciously allowed me to give it a whirl. I tried to create activities that would work across all age groups, and I left it to the parents to decide how much actual writing their children would be doing. (For instance, I only made my second-grader write three sentences per assignment, but some of the older children wrote much more.) Anyway, I think this lesson plan would work for any age, or any size group. Let me know how it goes if you try any of the activities. I know that we had a blast, but I would love your feedback as well!

Lesson 1

The first activity of the day should always be easy and short – an icebreaker to get their minds to switch into writing mode without putting a lot of pressure on them.

Activity #1

Take a bunch of random pictures (internet, magazines, photos) to class. Try to vary the content type. Have the class members each choose a picture that appeals to them or kindles an idea in their minds.

After choosing a picture, have them write a few sentences based on something that it suggests to them.

Note #1

To keep the pressure low, I remind them that we won’t be reading this assignment out loud. I only ever read assigned homework aloud, never anything they’ve written on the spot, unless they volunteer. And I never announce the authors unless they want to take credit for their work.

Note #2

Instruct the students to write as it comes into their heads, even if they think it is poorly worded. They can always edit later; the hard part for most people is getting words on paper. When they are finished writing, they can reread it with a particular focus on one editing issue at a time. For instance, read through the piece once checking for punctuation errors, then reread again with a focus on spelling errors, etc. Having a process helps keep them from sitting and staring at their papers, wondering where to start (in both the writing and editing stages).

Activity #2

Take a bunch of random objects from around your house to class. The reason they should use objects (or artifacts) to jump-start their writing is to give them ideas that they wouldn’t come up with on their own.

As a class, talk about some of the ideas that are triggered by pictures and objects. Write them on the chalkboard.

You can also get ideas from memories that are triggered by scents, feelings that you associate with certain types of music, etc. (I also took in some spices, candles, and colognes for this class.)

As a class, talk about some of the memories that are triggered by certain scents or feelings that are associated with music.

If you have time, have the class write for a few minutes, basing their stories on an object that they choose.

Homework Assignment #1

Choose an object, picture, scent, or any combination, and write a story based on your ideas. For this assignment, individual students can choose whatever they want and write about whatever they want. They may choose from what you brought to class or from their own homes.

Homework Assignment #2

As a class, choose one more topic to write about. For this assignment, all students will write a story based on the same object, picture, etc. The purpose of this exercise is to see how diverse the stories can be even while triggered by the same thing. For instance, the class may choose an ink pen or a picture of the Amazon. Everyone writes something that includes the element in their piece. Read aloud next week, and experience the variety!


Choose more than one element on which to base a story. If the above assignment included both the ink pen and the picture of the Amazon, the students would have to be more creative in their creation of the story. The more dissimilar the elements, the more creative they will have to be.

For Fun

Have each student bring an object to class from their own rooms. In class, they can switch objects with each other and write a few sentences based on someone else’s belonging. This would be a great follow-up activity for your next class.

If you would prefer to download Lesson 1 as a Word file, here it is: Multi Sensory Creative Writing Lesson 1

A prompt disguised…

I’ve been collecting my prompt ideas in a folder, and lately I’ve noticed a trend. I like to disguise my prompts as other things, such as exercising, vegging out, and sleeping. I’ve decided to post them for you, one at a time on Mondays, at least until I run out of ideas…

I hope you enjoy the first one – A Prompt Disguised as Shopping!

Go to a store where they sell used items, such as a resale shop or an antique mall. Look around for articles of inspiration. Even if you frequent antique stores, look at things you normally wouldn’t. What is the story behind the old typewriter? Did it belong to someone who changed the world, or someone who died without ever having the courage to send in their memoir? If you find something that sparks loads of creativity, buy it and keep it in your writing area. Or maybe you will find an object that becomes significant to your main character. Keep it as a souvenir to represent all the work and sweat that you poured into your book. You may even put up a little shelf, and collect an item for each book you write.

Multiple Perspectives

Here’s a new creative writing prompt, from me to you. Enjoy it!

Write a scene involving three or more people. Now write it again, one time for each person involved in the scene. Write it from each perspective. Get inside their heads. Now write it from the perspective of a deaf bystander. Now write it from the perspective of a five-year-old. Now write it from the perspective of a wise old man who is very good (or bad) at reading between the lines.

Author interview with Amanda L. Davis

I recently had the opportunity to interview Amanda L. Davis, author of Precisely Terminated. After getting to know a little about her and about her book, I must say this: I can’t wait to read it!

While visiting your FB page, I was delighted to find that you have such an active lifestyle outside of writing: spinning, sewing, planting, running, etc. What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not writing?

My favorite thing to do outside writing? That’s a pretty tough question. I equally enjoy spinning and sewing. I always say I’m not very good with ‘favorites’ questions. My tastes change from day to day. Some days I might like sewing better, and then another day I might prefer spinning.  Besides those two, I also really enjoy spending time with my family—playing board games or going on walks.

As a homeschooler myself, I’m interested in that aspect of your life. Could you describe a typical homeschool day in your family? How did your homeschool routine change after you decided to focus on writing?

Our family’s typical homeschooling days are probably not much like other people’s. My mother is teaching only my younger two sisters now, because my four older siblings and I have all graduated from high school.  Usually, though, we get up and go for a run before having family devotions. After devotions are done, my sisters start school. My mother works with my fourteen-year-old sister, Hannah, and my seventeen-year-old sister works on her own. Two days a week my cousins come over for co-op lessons (my mother teaches some classes and my aunt teaches others).  Often times I help with the meals for these days. I must say I don’t get much writing done on the co-op days!

Have your experiences with Precisely Terminated changed you as a person?

My experiences with Precisely Terminated have really changed how outgoing I am. I’ve been forced, you could say, to be more energetic, talkative, and lively. When I’m at home I’m a very quiet person and would rather watch and listen than be the person speaking. I have to be the opposite when I’m talking about my books, or no one would listen to me or be interested! I’ve gained confidence in my speaking abilities as well, especially on this current promotion tour my dad and I have been on. In the past month I have spoken to 50 different groups, telling them about my writing journey and overcoming dyslexia.  So yes, I think my experiences with Precisely Terminated have changed me as a person and definitely for the better.

Your synopsis for Precisely Terminated doesn’t give any hints as to the Christian concepts presented in the book. Can you clue us in?

Some of the Christian concepts in Precisely Terminated are self-sacrifice, freeing those who are enslaved, and persevering through severe trials.

What does Job 12:21 mean to you?

Job 12:21 reminds me that God will not let ruling oppressors remain in their positions forever, and He will take care of the weak who are being oppressed. It’s not just verse 21 that needs to be looked at, but 13-25, where Job speaks of the greatness of God. Twenty-one was just a small selection of that, an encouragement to those trodden on by people who seem so much more powerful and undefeatable. It shows that God is in control of everything.

Why do you think this story needs to be told? What message does it bring to your readers?

I think this story needs to be told because of its message, which tells of perseverance and giving of oneself for others. It also provides a wholesome, entertaining story to help combat against all those not-so-great novels out there.

How does Monica perceive God?

Unfortunately, Monica hasn’t had a chance to know God yet in Precisely Terminated. She was taught about Him in her childhood, but she was orphaned at an early age and since then has had no teaching. She knows there is a God, but not much else. But don’t worry; she’ll learn more as time goes on! She just needs a teacher.

If you and Monica became pen pals, how would you introduce yourselves to each other?

This question could be answered in a few different ways. In this scenario are we author and character or should I consider myself not as her author and just as if she were to exist? Either way I think it would be very difficult to do, because Monica has trouble trusting people due to her oppressed life. I don’t think she would answer a letter if I sent her one, poor thing.  I would probably introduce myself by saying I’m an author and writer about worlds like her own. She might wonder why I would choose to write about such things and why it seemed like nonfiction!

What were the difficulties involved with creating a realistic society set 800 years in the future?

Although I am familiar with the differences in people’s personalities and societal conflicts among classes, I wondered if things would be similar in the future. Unfortunately, my time machine isn’t working right now, so I wasn’t able to go see for myself, but I assumed humans would continue being humans and based my future society on that thought.

Do you see the Cantral Chronicles as the first step in the beginning of a lifelong career, or do you have other professional ambitions?

Yes, I do see the Cantral Chronicles as the first step of a lifelong career, but I do have other ambitions as well. I would really like to be a costume stitcher. I’ve been sewing for sixteen years now and really enjoy it. A costume stitcher is someone who sews the costumes but doesn’t design them. I would like to do this because I love sewing and creating garments, but I don’t like coming up with the original ideas (otherwise I would be interested in being a designer).

Tell us three things that we don’t know about Amanda L Davis.

My middle name is Lin.

I broke my femur in 2007 and needed 4 surgeries and 3 ½ years to fully recover.

I have severe dyslexia and didn’t begin to learn to read until nine years old. I didn’t write well until fifteen.

Is there anything else you’d like to leave with us today?

I’d like for you to know that Precisely Terminated is the first in a trilogy, and I’ve already written the first draft of the sequel, Noble Imposter, so I’m very excited for that book as well.

Thanks, Amanda, for taking time to answer these questions for us!

New multiplication breakthrough

After weeks of trying everything from flashcards to speedsheets, Mathblaster to recitation, I think that Ian and I finally hit on something that works! Yesterday he came over to sit on my lap, after playing an online math game (and having plenty of trouble). I held up my hand, and ticked off one finger at a time as we counted by threes. “Three, six, nine, twelve, fifteen!” We did that several times, then I changed my approach. I held up one finger and said, “One times three is:” I had to make him wait until I finished speaking before giving me the answer. (He was stuck on counting by threes and didn’t want to wait.) After we went through the first five factors that way a few times, I began to mix them up (at his suggestion). Lo and behold, it worked! He knew them! The whole process took less than five minutes. Today we will learn up to 3×10 if all goes well, and add on 11 and 12 tomorrow for good measure. Prayerfully, we can learn a family a week using this method, and finally get back into his second grade math books. (We’ve been on hiatus while we focused on multiplication tables.) Hooray for something that works for us!!


What works for your kids? How did you tackle learning multiplication tables in a homeschool setting?

Creative Writing Assignment for Pairs

I realized that it’s been a long time since I posted a creative writing prompt. Our co-op isn’t meeting for classes anymore; it sort of fizzled out when school started up. Everyone’s too busy. As a result, I haven’t been creating any more writing exercises. Something I’ll have to remedy because I really like doing it! Here’s a quick one that our class never tried. Let me know how it goes!


Pair up. What is your favorite book or story (could be a movie or video game storyline)? What do you like about it?

Who is your favorite character? Why do you like that character?

Exchange information with your partner and write: what happens when your favorite character visits the world of your partner’s
favorite character?

Homeschoolers can use this by placing their characters in the world of their mom’s favorite character or that of a sibling. Alternatively, they could try switching other elements, such as plot, villains, best friends, etc. This is a good “what if” exercise for reluctant writers. It allows them to just be silly and have fun!

What is sacrifice?

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Romans 12:1

A living sacrifice. What does that mean exactly? Basically, it means we shouldn’t do everything we want to do. Even if those things are within our means. We should say no to ourselves sometimes. Deny our flesh. I have been reading When the Bottom Drops Out by Robert Bugh. I’ve really been enjoying it, and getting a lot out of it.

He had this to say about sacrifice: “Sacrifice is saying no to something you prefer so you can say yes to God. It’s placing your preferences, what you love, on the altar and telling God, ‘I want to keep this or have this or do this, but You are speaking to me and I am giving it up. Take it; it’s Yours!’…Sacrifice is counterintuitive; it’s winning by losing, gaining by giving, living by dying, doing without now so you can be rewarded later in heaven…Hear me, dear reader: as painful as it is, it’s sacrifice that will keep you from wasting your life, because it’s sacrifice and service that reveal the lordship of Christ in your life.” – pages 101-102

I don’t hate myself. I’m not going to go out of my way to make life difficult on myself. But I do know that I don’t need everything I think I do. God will take care of everything I need, and sacrificing the things I want won’t necessarily make life any harder on me. In fact, sometimes, I think sacrifice makes our lives simpler. It’s going without. It means there will be fewer things in my life to distract me from God.

What about sacrificing my time? Won’t that add things to my life? Won’t my schedule get busier if I try to minister to others when I already have so many things on my plate? Not if you sacrifice something else that eats up your time. Television is the first thing that comes to mind. Nobody needs it. On your deathbed, you won’t regret the hours you didn’t spend watching television.

What about homeschoolers? Homeschoolers are too busy already. So many things to teach, to learn. Let’s not forget the reason many of us are homeschooling in the first place. It’s not so our kids will be smarter. It’s not so they’ll get a better job or function better in society. Are we not preparing our children for a life of service to God? And do they not learn best by example?

Some ideas for sacrifice:

Change the way you eat or drink, what you watch, what you wear, the way you spend time on the internet or the phone.

Change the way you spend your money, your time, your emotions.

Change the way you relate to God, your spouse, parents, children, and others.

When you see a need, fill it. Be sensitive to the urging of the Holy Spirit.

Why does sacrifice mean so much to God?

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Matthew 5:16

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Romans 12:2