Practical Tip ~ Textmapping

Here’s this week’s practical tip ~

Text Mapping

Text-mapping is an excellent technique that helps a child to differentiate and identify areas of a text using highlighters.   Textmapping guides the child to circle, underline or draw boxes around sections, headings, text, illustrations, dates and important vocabulary This provides the child with an overview of all the text and reinforces pre-reading skills.

Copied pages of a textbook chapter or relevant pages are pasted together to form one long scroll.

Drawing of a scroll that has been marked with highlighters and colored markers. Shows margin notes and certain key features circled, colored and otherwise marked.
Textmapping color codes
  • Textmapping is excellent for all non-fiction books and textbooks.
  • This method emphasizes pre-reading skills.  They haven’t read the text itself yet, but have navigated the entire article.
  • Textmapping is a very effective tool for special-needs/ remedial students or weak readers as it helps the student identify different areas of the text and isolate smaller sections where they can use pre-reading skills to break down the text.  Colors define specific areas and they can easily isolate a heading with its accompanying passage and ignore the rest of the text.
  • This skill is particularly important for middle schoolers who are suddenly faced with longer chapters or several pages of their books, textbooks.
  • It is also good for high schoolers who need to summarize large sections of information or review work for tests or exams.
  • Textmapping helps students break down into manageable sections to summarize,  or plan, or prepare for projects and presentations.
  • This method is excellent for group work.
  • Textmapping enables teachers to clearly and explicitly model reading comprehension, writing and study skills using a model scroll or on an example on a smartboard.
  • The complete layout of a scroll gives the child an excellent overview ~ great for global learners.
  • Because of its length, the child must move (crawl on the floor or walk along a row of desks) along it, zoom in or out, to interact with the text ~ excellent for kinesthetic learners.
  • Marking is very physical and hands-on ~ wonderful for the tactile learner.
  • The colored markings  are very clear and everything can be seen at a glance ~ fabulous for the visual learner.
  • Scrolls and text mapping provide a better fit with the learning strengths of ADHD individuals ~ helps children who have learning disabilities or attention deficits.

Because this method involves printing out several pages in color, I have adapted the method to work directly in the book and we use colored post-it tabs and colored sticky notes which we map areas and sections without marking expensive books or library books.  I have also experimented with plastic page protectors cut open down one side to slide over a page and we use colored whiteboard markers.

Please read for textmapping basic and see all the examples in my original post Textmapping.  Download my Text Mapping notes on textmapping.

Read more ~







I’ve been Doodelwashed!

This week I have been featured as a guest artist on!

Doodlewash sketches I discovered Doodlewashed on Instagram and loved Charlie O’Shield’s generous and inclusive approach to sharing art with others in his #WorldWatercolorGroup.

So, what exactly is Doodlewashed?  Here’s Charlie’s explanation (emphasis mine) ~

doo·dle·wash \ˈ[dü-dəl-wawsh]

  1. Anything one creates that involves a drop of water to create beautiful washes of color and/or ink: I grabbed my brush and made a new doodlewash.

doo·dle·wash \ˈ[dü-dəl-wawsh]

  1. To apply water to colors and/or ink for the purpose of creating immense satisfaction: After I finished that sketch, I just had to doodlewash it!

doo·dle·wash·er \ˈ[dü-dəl-waw-sher]

  1. Avid creator and artist who uses water with color and/or ink to make beautiful things
  2. One who can’t resist adding splashes of water to sketches: I sometimes just use pen and ink, but I’m a doodlewasher at heart. 
  3. A super cool person: No way! I didn’t know she was a doodlewasher. That’s so awesome!

DOODLEWASHING – (verb-ing)
doo·dle·wash·ing \ˈ[dü-dəl-waw-shing]

  1. The compulsive need to make something new and then apply water to itI know there’s a new show on TV, but I’d rather be doodlewashing. 

DOODLEWASHED – (adjective)
doo·dle·washed \ˈ[dü-dəl-wawsht]

  1. of, relating to, or characteristic of a person who has become addicted to daily doodlewashing: I can’t imagine stopping now. I’m totally doodlewashed!
  2. The state of being one feels while “in the zone” while creating a doodlewash: It’s been how many hours? Oh my, I was so doodlewashed I didn’t notice.
  3. Having your amazing watercolor art featured on Yay! I’ve been doodlewashed!


  1. happy, calm, ecstatic, relaxed, delirious (it’s really your call here)

I took part in his August Adventure “Share Your Favorite Things” and it was a wonderful way to get to learn a little more about each other.   He posted 31 topics for the month and we shared our daily sketches on Instagram’s  #WorldWatercolorGroupNad's Art

Similar to participating in Sketch Tuesday, the simple act of daily sketching and sharing really heightened my creative juices, and I couldn’t wait to doodle and draw daily.

Join  @Doodlewashed September Travel Memories and share in the creative Doodlewashing fun!  doodlewash-september-2016-adventure-prompts




A few months ago a good friend recommended a TED talk by  Emilie Wapnick: Why some of us don’t have one true calling.

To quote Emilie,

“A multipotentialite is a person with many interests and creative pursuits.”

Not only did her talk ring bells in my heart for my own feelings … that I have always been a Jack-of-all-Trades-Master-of-None my whole life, but I could see why my own children were not necessarily able to chose a specific career path and embark on dedicated further study.  There are just too many areas of passions and interests to narrow everything down to one focussed study or career. culture applauds devotion, dedication and specialization.  Our faith believes in having a purpose and a calling.  People easily identify a gifting.  So, in many ways, people look down on multipotentialites as time wasters, under-achievers, immature, or “wasting your talent”.  Others may even ask,  “What’s wrong with him/her?” especially when talking about young adults who are still exploring their options.

There seems to be accepted formula ~

  1. Know what you want to become when you are older  +
  2. Choose the subjects and study course to match this choice +
  3. Specialize +
  4. Graduate with a degree/s +
  5. Find and specific job in the career +
  6. Work in that field = SUCCESS

Many children and young adults feel stressed and insecure that they can’t define exactly what they want to do as a career.  Many homeschool parents feel that they have failed to encourage their multipotentialite child to study or excel in a specific area.   Parents of multipotentialites often wish they could feel secure about their young adult’s future and feel frustrated that their child hasn’t “found themselves” yet.

Very interestingly, Emilie describes 3 “superpower” strengths of multipotenialites ~

  1. Idea Synthesis – combining 2 or more fields and creating something new at the intersection.  Innovation and new ideas happens at the intersection.
  2. Rapid Learning – multipotentialites learn hard when interested,  they are less afraid of trying new things.  She says that it is rarely a waste of time to pursue something you are drawn to, even if you end up quitting, because you might apply that knowledge in a different way from what you anticipated.”
  3. Adaptability – the ability to morph into whatever you need to be in any given situation.   Some employers believe that adaptability is the single most important skill to have to thrive in the 21st century.

Contrary to schools, systems, institutions and “specialist” mentality, homeschooling  provides the perfect environment that allows the multipotentialite child the freedom to embrace their “inner wiring”.

In your homeschooling, encourage your children to be diverse, creative, out-of-the-box thinkers.  Provide opportunities for exploration, diversification and intersection.  Stimulate their curiosity.  Let them be discoverers!

Allow your child to let go of things they are good at to be able to explore other areas or skills.  No matter how gifted or talented your child is, do not make that their label or box, but allow it to develop, change or take a back seat in favour of new and diverse interests.  In the end, everything they have learnt and discovered becomes the fullness of who they are … multi-potential-ite!

Encourage your children (and yourself) to be themselves!

In Grace,  Nadene

Also Read “How to get over multipotentialite guilt and “wasted talent”



Practical Tip ~ Senior Maths Cheat Sheets

Here’s this week’s practical tip ~

Senior Mini OfficeMost highschool Maths students need to have maths formulas, conversion charts, geometry formulas, number systems, order of operations, and other important Maths information at hand.  We called it a mini office, but some think of these pages as “cheat sheets”.

Over the years, instead of making a laminated file folder mini office, I simply place the pages in a page-protector display file.  We keep the file on hand and my high schoolers use it regularly.

You can find all my free Maths Mini Office downloads here.   Download yours for your highschooler.

Blessings, Nadene



Have you liked my new Practical Pages Facebook Page yet?

Facebook Practical Pages coverSeveral months ago I started a new Practical Pages FB page because the original FB page could not be merged to my personal account.  Over the months since, only a couple hundred have joined me on my new page.

Would you please click and like the new page so that all my fresh posts automatically come up on your feed?

Blessings, Nadene




Figuring It Out

I need to whisper this …

I’m feeling insecure about highschool homeschooling …Exam stress

I’m trying to figure things out and I do not know quite how, or what or where or when …

I’m feeling unsure, uncertain and ill-equipped.

These moments are written in my homeschooling script, and it often feels awful.  You too, right?

Please ignore all my homeschool posts where you think that I have it all together.  I like to feel organized and in control.  I prefer to be one step ahead and prepared, but instead, I have found homeschooling my high schoolers to be a lot more complex and complicated.

They are complex and complicated at times, especially when they are transitioning through puberty.  Physical and emotional changes cause moods swings and their changed perspective (especially when they realise mom and dad are not perfect and definitely don’t know everything!) causes the simple and normal to shift off-kilter.  They are insecure and withdraw.  They think more and need time and space to mull and ponder.  They need peers and close friends. They need grace.

Homeschool is no longer about fun little unit studies, delight-directed learning or creative days, or reading poetry while lying under trees and or meandering on nature walks and journalling.  Now, academics has become an issue.   Correspondence courses, curriculums, subject choices, aptitude tests and narrowing choices. exams and qualifications all rear their ugly side –pass or fail!  And what about the question of what is the best option for their future?

Right now, our struggle is an online high school course that doesn’t “teach” the way my teen learns and she’s struggling every day and especially during her tests … and I can’t actually help her.  Yikes!  She’s frustrated, angry and afraid.  I’m frustrated, angry and afraid.  Not a good mix for serene homeschooling!  She hates failing some of her tests and she often feels unmotivated and depressed.  And while this is front-and-centre of our homeschooling, there are larger uncertainties that lurk behind the exams and passing or failing.  What next in her life?

I’m trying to figure it out!

And no one really and truly prepared me for this complexity of this phase.

There must be a formula, right?

Well, here’s a truth — I will have to figure out what each child needs at each age and stage.  Each child is different and we will have to navigate their academic and career choices and options.

There is no “right way” except to pray and ask the Lord for His wisdom and His purpose for each child.  I need to pray that I find grace to let my children become who they are meant to be and help guide them to fulfill their giftings and calling.  How can I best encourage their character growth before I stress about their qualifications and careers?  Matric (high school graduation) is just a stepping stone to their next stage.  What is my teen’s best options for further study or growth?

Each person is unique.  Everyone deserves to develop, to change, to start over.  I’m just figuring it out … and praying and trusting for God’s grace …





Practical Tip ~ Rolodex

Here’s this week’s practical tip ~  (Revisiting my organization archives)


Years ago I bought an amazing organization book called Confessions of an Organized Homemaker by Deniece Schofield  (ISBN 1-55870-361-6) where she recommends filing recipes on a Rolodex.  I started mine too, way back in 2000.

Advantages of the Rolodex Recipe System ~

  • Easy to file and organize
  • Rolodex file is compact and doesn’t take up valuable counter top space
  • Recipe is visible; just press open at the card you need
  • When several people bake or cook at the same time, we each take our recipe card out and place it at our work station
  • Add new recipe cards  – quick and simple
  • New recipes are put up on the fridge.  If you haven’t cooked or baked it in 10 days – toss it out!  A great motivator!  If it works – simply file it.
  • The Rolodex holds stacks and stacks of recipes
  • Keep blank cards in your handbag to jot new recipes when waiting or visiting friends
  • In recent years I have added my Trim Healthy Mama and Low Carb recipes on yellow cards so that they stand out from my older, conventional recipes.

Some negatives ~

  • It seems a schlep to rewrite recipes, but I sat for a few hours each evening many years ago and wrote out my favorite recipes.  Now I sit with my blank cards when I read a new cookbook, and quickly jot down the new recipe and give it a try!
  • Because the cards are small, I abbreviate the recipe, especially the method.  This was fine until my younger kids started to cook and bake.  I simply rewrote some cards, and with experience and one-on-one training they master the abbreviated recipes.
  • Some cards have become smudged – use a waterproof pen!

How did I file my recipes?  I added colored stickers and labels to cards to separate the different groups.

  • A = conversions & substitutes
  • B = Biscuits, Breads, Baking ~ Crumpets, Dumplings, Muffins, Rusks, Scones
  • C = Cakes
  • D = Desserts, Dairy
  • E = Egg dishes
  • F = Fish
  • H = Herbs
  • J = Juicing, Jams, Jewish cooking
  • L = Lunches
  • M = Meat ~ Chicken, Lamb, Mince, Meat casseroles,
  • O = Other ~ play dough, salt dough, bath salts, bubbles, homemade soaps, dog food etc.
  • P = Pasta, Pastry, Pancakes, Pies
  • Q = Quiche & tarts
  • R = Rice
  • S = Salads, Sauces, Soups, Sweets
  • T = Tuna
  • V = Vegetables
  • W = Washing soap, laundry soaps

Nowadays everything is online, electronic, super-technical, Internet-based.  Many moms swear by their Kindles and iPad for their recipes. There are also amazing websites for menu planning and online recipe storage, but my Rolodex Recipe system serves me well and I don’t need to recharge it!

This system could work for other subjects too.  What about using a Rolodex instead of an index box for Scripture Memorization?

Happy organizing!  Blessings, Nadene



Practical Tip – Google Calendar

Here’s this week’s practical tip ~Google CalendarWhen I started planning my own eclectic homeschool curriculums to tailor-make each child’s education, I found Google Calendar such a practical help.

I must add though, that I use Google calendar only for planning and not as a daily/ weekly/ monthly tool, and I still prefer a paper printout for record-keeping, rather than enter it on the Google calendar.

Here are some benefits of Google calendar:


  • Create a calendar for each child. (Create each calendar in a different color.)
  • Enter all school holidays to create school terms.
  • Copy your school calendar to any other calendar you create.
  • Type in monthly themes/ topics/ subjects across the year. This quickly produces your year plan.
  • Assign a color for each subject. (On the calendar it shows as a colored bar, on the printout it is a small rounded square of color.)
  • Enter subjects as an event.
  • Click for repeated themes or lessons – Google calendar offers daily, specific days each week, all work-days, weekly, monthly etc.
  • In the “Descriptions” box, add lessons, chapters & pages to the basic lesson entry. It may be easy to type in the book title for all and then go back to each repeat lesson to add the specific chapter and page numbers.
  • Also add website links, documents, files and notes for each lesson in the description box.
  • Attach files. I love this feature as I can organize my downloads to each lesson and print out lapbooks, maps, pictures later when I prepare for the month ahead.
  • Easily drag and move “events” to new dates when children “fall behind” or need more time on something.
  • Teens with their own Gmail accounts access their own calendars and work independently.
  • Calendars available for everyone when doing chores help collect library books, plan while at appointments or synchronize outings and family events.
  • Under Tasks add further details for the day – complete and hand in a lapbook/ do a review or a test.  Tasks appear in a clear list next to a calendar.
  • Reminders can easily be added in the edit form – either as an email or a pop-up.  (I chose a pop-up because I don’t want my inbox cluttered with reminders.)
  • Print out the calendar.  You can select daily, weekly, the agenda, or monthly view, or even a specific range of dates.
  • Completed calendars are the record of work!  Easy-peasy!

Read my full Google calendar posts ~

Blessings to my Northern Hemisphere readers, as you plan and start your new school year!




Natural Language Arts

Most people think of Language Arts as a formal, tedious grammar program. but essentially, language flows naturally from listening and mimicking (copying) and speaking to reading and writing.  (Think how a baby learns to speak.)

Reading good literature is the best way to learn grammar.  Using living books and reading aloud regularly, your child  will not require formal instruction to naturally learn new vocabulary and the essential grammar concepts for quite a few years.

Begin this natural language learning with this simple Charlotte Mason approach = Read aloud + active listening followed by oral narrations (retelling the story in their own words).  For older children, continue with dictated narrations (child tells the story while mom jots or types it word for word.   (Read my post Mom the Narrations Scribe) and finally the child’s own written narrations.  No formal written Language Art lessons yet.

I discovered how true this was when my preschooler narrated the story I had just read aloud to her.   When she retold the story, she used an unusual, new word, “skittered”.  She enjoyed this lovely, descriptive word in the story and made it her own in her narration.   A 4-year-old can narrate with detail and passion!  Read how I capture preschoolers and junior schooler’s narrations in a jotter.

You can start some Copywork once your child starts mastering their handwriting.  Select a simple sentence or two, such as a memory verse or from a reader and encourage your child to first read it aloud and then copy it out neatly.  This daily practice reinforces meaningful handwriting practice, but, more importantly, it provides daily examples of good language and sentence structure.  You’ll be amazed how such a simple activity can build your child’s own language and writing skills!  (You can find loads of my free copywork pages here.)

Wait until your child is about 9  or 10 years old before including formal grammar rules and language art lessons.  Use extracts from their current read aloud (or other suitable examples) and examine the building blocks; the formal aspects of how the sentences are built and arranged.

Now, don’t get too stressed about what extract to use.  Your extract can be anything simple.  Bible verses, memory verses, famous quotes, poems or simply a sentence or two from the real aloud will be good.  I must emphasize that this is the great part of this natural language learning = it is meaningfully in context.  In other words, your child is not doing numbered sentences or lists applying a rule to random sentences, but can see its significance and importance in the relevant extract.

Ruth Beechick’s “A Strong Start in Language” (ISBN number in my Book List page) is perhaps the best simple book on how to teach language!  Ruth Beeschick gives loads of basic examples, lays out all the suggested grade levels and makes simple and easy-to-apply suggestions.  With this book in hand, you can create all your children’s language arts lessons! 

Note:  Do language arts as a short separate lesson and not while reading aloud.  If you constantly pepper reading aloud with grammar and vocabulary extension tips and lessons, you will kill your child’s enjoyment and frustrate their listening.  I did this in my early years of “mom-the-teacher” enthusiasm and in my desire not to “miss a learning moment”.  Silly me.   When I learnt to trust a child’s natural learning process through listening, reinforced with short, sweet separate LA activities, I relaxed and let the reading flow.

What are the basic Language Arts?  Grammar is the building blocks of language. Essentially it is not necessary to get too technical and do sentence analysis and sentence diagraming.  Simply let your child find the proper nouns or nouns/ or verbs/ adjectives/ etc. in the given extract.  My kids loved underlining, circling, boxing, ticking or highlighting the correct words.  They enjoyed drawing ticks and arrows above punctuation marks.

LA 001

an example of what my kids called “circles and squiggles” LA

Include some word searches, dictionary work, finding or writing their own antonyms and synonyms and you have a great vocabulary extension exercise.

LA 001-001

Look up definitions in a dictionary, or find/ match words to their meanings or find antonyms and synonyms expands a child’s vocabulary!

Then, importantly, encourage your child to apply this in their written work.  I often include a “make it your own” prompt and encourage creative writing.

Another important note:  Don’t kill your child’s own written narrations with grammar corrections! No one enjoys seeing red pen marks all over their work!  Make a side note when you notice repeated, glaring and important grammar mistakes in your child’s written narrations and then find examples in extracts from readers to point out the grammar rule.  in a short copywork exercise, let your child practice this rule and then encourage them to apply it to their written work.  Keep reinforcing the grammar activity until you see that they have understood and can apply it naturally in their writing.

Be creative with language arts.  Use relevant magazine and newspaper articles or comic strips, especially for older children.  (Read my suggestions for a Charlotte Mason approach for Remedial Course For Older Children.)

Once you embrace the nature language learning method, you can apply short, formal English lessons to the same extract for 5 days, focusing on new skills each day as follows:

  • Monday = Copywork  (copy the passage, taking note of new, unknown words, sentence structure and punctuation)
  • Tuesday = Language Arts  (analyzing the grammar elements)
  • Wednesday = Vocabulary Extension and Spelling (learn thematic words, work on spelling rules or spelling lists)
  • Thursday = Creative Writing (apply the concept from the extract or reader in a creative written exercise)
  • Friday = Dictation (The child reads and learns the extract each day and now writes it as a formal dictation without looking at the passage)

These are all about a 10-minute lesson.  Keep your formal English lessons short and sweet!

I trust that this post encourages homeschool parents who feel concerned about their child’s formal language arts.  Relax.  Trust me.  It will work!

In Grace, Nadene




Practical Tip Book of Centuries for mom and kids

Here’s this week’s practical tip ~

Book of Centuries

A Charlotte Mason education includes a Book of Centuries.  Following Ms Mason’s approach, children enter records, illustrate and write brief notes and mark dates of famous people, events, wars, eras, inventions and significant breakthroughs in their Book of Centuries as they study.

For a young child, a visual timeline  chart or line along a wall or around a room is best.  It gives a child a bird’s-eye view of events in time; with Biblical and ancient history starting way back, with modern and current dates stretching out.  My young kids loved pasting the pictures on our timeline that went all around our room!  Finding the right date and placing for the picture on the timeline was an excellent introduction activity to a lesson or theme. enjoy their own book or notebook version.    Older children enjoy adding their own notes and illustrations or clip art.  Allow your children freedom to express their thoughts and details in their own, personal way.  Some kids prefer pasting clip art and drawing pictures, while others like to write lists.  I often provided a detailed timeline for specific themes, like World War ll, for example, which can be folded and pasted onto the relevant BOC page.  Over the years, their books fill up and become a wonderful reflection of the history they have studied.  This activity is an excellent conclusion to a theme or topic.

I wrote a post on how you can make you own very cheap, frugal Book Of Centuries using a store-bought notebook, or convert a spiral bound book into a BOC. This post includes the spacing and page layout suggestions.

I wrote about my joy of using a Book of Century as a mother’s record of work and I still love browsing through my BOC and delight in the scope and richness of the education we have journeyed through these 19+ years.  (In response to @Leanne’s comment about not having kept her own records in her BOC, I wrote, “@Leanne, If this is an idea you enjoy, just go ahead and do it! I “caught up” my BOC in one afternoon a few years ago! I simply took each History Core book we had studied and wrote in all the events, wars and famous people studied. The next day I took my Art Era Timelime and cut it up and pasted all the thumbnail-sized pictures in the main art eras, included all the famous art works and artists, and my BOC was instantly filled with color and info! In fact, if this is something your kids have let slide, it makes a good recap and overview activity which they might also enjoy!)

Here are some links and free Book Of Centuries downloads:

Wishing you every blessing, Nadene