What We Are Doing Now: History and Geography

We continue along on our own path for learning American History. I am not following a curriculum for this, because I could not find one that I liked that covered everything that I wanted to cover in chronological order and that was age appropriate at the same time.

We are starting out by studying Colonial America. Madison has read:

Who Was Queen Elizabeth? by June Eding

If You Lived When There Was Slavery in America by Anne Kamma

Colonial America: An Interactive History Adventure by Allison Lassieur

Blood on the River: Jamestown 1607 by Elisa Carbone

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

What Were the Salem Witch Trials? by Joan Holub

If You Grew Up With George Washington by Ruth Below Gross

Who Was George Washington? by Roberta Edwards

Who Was Daniel Boone? by Sydelle Kramer

I have read to her from:

The American Story by Jennifer Armstrong

We Were There Too!: Young People in U.S. History by Phillip M Hoose

Great Colonial America Projects You Can Build Yourself by Kris Bordessa

Madison really enjoyed making the crafts that were in this book.  Among them, her favorites were clay mud bricks and a homemade broom. She did them entirely on her own during the time we were reading the book.

For Geography, we are focusing on the United States by using Little Passports. The USA Edition of Little Passports is great. The World Edition, not so much. We use Top Secret from Highlights to study countries.

Madison has been studying one state per week. She reads about the state from two books. First, from Smart About the Fifty States by Jon Buller and second, from Don’t Know Much About the 50 States by Kenneth C. Davis. After she reads out of the books, she opens up her packet from Little Passports and reads the letter that is in the beginning of her packet. She places the pushpin sticker on the capital on the map on the wall that came with the Little Passports welcome packet. She places stickers of of the state flag, bird, seal, etc. on her field journal.



Then we pull out a huge wall map I purchased on Zulily and she colors in the state, labels it, and labels the capital. Throughout the week she does the activity pages in the packet and then at the end of the week she fills in the field notes in her field journal. She has actually memorized all of the capitals of the states we have done so far on her own this way.

So far she has completed the Northeastern States including Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Delaware, Massachusetts, and Maryland. Madison has started on the Southeastern states and has completed Arkansas.

We were ‘cooking our way’ through the states, but we are trying to eat healthy and limit sugar, and the two were not compatible, so that didn’t work out and we stopped.

Madison is currently reading Mountains and Volcanoes by Barbara Taylor and Maps and Geography by Ken Jennings.

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CBS Scorpion is an Inspiration for Gifted Children

Photo Credit: CBS
We are enjoying the second season of Scorpion on CBS. The current season has hit home as a parent of gifted child.

Why? Because with the action and far fetched plot that appeal to the ‘general public,’ this TV series has much more of an impact to my child. The past season has projected something extremely meaningful to my gifted daughter as well as to me as her parent.

What is Scorpion and what makes it so cool for gifted children? As stated on CBS,  SCORPION, inspired by a true story, is a high-octane drama about eccentric genius Walter O’Brien and his team of brilliant misfits who comprise the last line of defense against complex, high-tech threats of the modern age. As Homeland Security’s new think tank…click here to read more on the CBS Website.

The show has what seems to many as an unrealistic plot, but it becomes realistic because it is backed up with facts to support each plot in each episode (if you listen and pay attention) and for a TV series that is based on a genius, this is AWESOME!!!! This is what makes it realistic.

Scorpion shows her that even when you run into a problem that it can be overcome by thinking and talking a problem through and considering all the possibilities to achieve a solution. This show not only includes the message of intelligence, it show that determination, grit and perseverance are a key to success. Those are three things that I emphasize to my daughter every day.

Scorpion also shows teamwork. That a team can work together by using their strengths to achieve a solution that has a major impact.

It shows the strengths and weaknesses of different types of gifted people. That one isn’t superior over another.

And my most favorite is a past episode that shows that parents shouldn’t hold their gifted child back. They should embrace their gifts. This doesn’t come naturally though, it is a process. This is a realistic and very true interpretation of the parenting process of a gifted child.

I highly recommend this show for all parents of gifted children. I also recommend it for gifted children after a parent has previewed each episode (age appropriateness.) I have looked forward to showing my 8 year old daughter several episodes.

I am in full support of a network TV series that advocates for all gifted children in different realms and educates others on the abilities of the gifted as well as inspires gifted youth.

There are many misconceptions regarding the definition of gifted children and adults.  It is refreshing to see a show that depicts the true meaning of giftedness in so many ways. ❤️

I did notice that last nights episode has an age rating. I think this show is awesome, however, I highly recommended previewing any episodes prior to having children watch it. Every family has their own perception of what is a good show for kids. We preview each episode ourselves (because we love this show) and then if we feel it is appropriate, we show it to Madison.

I would also recommend this show to everyone. It is one of the only shows left on TV today that show innovation as well as critical thinking (total STEM show) and in my opinion is not only kid friendly, but family friendly as well. I cherish that and hope that it continues and stays strong in that way!!!!

What We Are Doing Now: English


We are still using Nessy as a our reading program. For handwriting, Madison just started the 4th grade cursive from Handwriting Without Tears. I am now requiring that she writes everything in cursive. I really think doing sit ups and supermans everyday has improved her fine motor skills. It took about 4 months to see a major difference, but it has paid off and we will continue to do them daily.
For Grammar, we are using  Michael Clay Thompson. She is also reading Barron’s Painless Grammar for a little extra help.

We are continuing to use Wordly Wise 3000 online for vocabulary. Madison just moved on to the 5th book.

We also use EPGY for Parts of Speech, Sentence Structure, Sentence Composition, Paragraphs, and Reading. EPGY is dry and moves slow, but it is very valuable. I have given Madison the English ACT of the day questions and she has gotten a majority of them all right. I believe this is the result of doing EPGY. It also has helped her with writing and organizing her ideas.

We are basing  the rest of our English and our Classic Children’s Literature list on the recommendations from Level 1A Year 2 in Mater Amabilis.

Madison has already read:

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor

Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild

Madison is currently reading:

The Little House on the Prairie Series and she is currently reading By The Shores of Silver Lake

The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald

Madison will more than likely read the following before the end of the summer:

The Princess and the Curdie by George MacDonald

Kensuke’s Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo

Five Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sidney

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The First and Second Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

The Story of the Treasure Seekers by E.Nesbit

Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry

Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kastner

Peter Pan by J.M.Barrie

Madison absolutely loves classic literature and she would just sit and read all day if I let her.

We are currently reading Classic Myths to Read Aloud by William F. Russell.

Madison is also reading poetry each week. We are reading out of The Harp and Laurel Wreath  by Laura Berquist. Madison also read A Child’s Introduction to Poetry  by Michael Driscoll and Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature by Joyce Sidman.

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What We Are Doing Now – Math

I decided to break up posts into chunks by subject regarding what we have tried and what we are doing now. It would have been a very long post otherwise. 

We were doing Redbird Math. I didn’t feel like it covered everything we needed it to overall. I think it’s great as a supplement. We have stopped using it, but may pick it back up as a supplement in the future. I still think it’s an amazing program that Madison loves doing. 

After stopping Redbird Math we tried CTC Math. It’s a good program, but it is dry. Madison didn’t like it.

We are now using Teaching Textbooks and she loves it! Well, she loves the way we are using it. The lecture, practice problems and the rest of the problems were too much repetition in her opinion. So we made a deal. If she just does the 5 problems then she has to pass the quiz at the end of each chapter with 100%. If she doesn’t, then she has to go back and do more problems on what she had missed. So far that is working out very well. She has passed her quizzes with 100%. I started her out with Teaching Textbooks 7. I didn’t have her take the placement test, I just looked at the table of contents in each level. She is currently on lesson 30 which is fractions. So far, so good! And come to find out, she loves long division and thinks it’s fun! Yay! The reason she likes Teaching Texbooks is because they have funny names for the people in their word problems and they ask questions during the lectures. They have a good sense of humor and apparently that is what she needed to be engaged in Math. 🙂 I hope it lasts. I think I have bought almost every homeschool Math program available. 😳

We are also continuing to use XtraMath. Madison is still trying to master her division facts. She is very close. After she does master them, we will begin the program again with a 2 second recall. Currently she is working on a 3 second recall. It only takes 5 minutes everyday and it is so worth it when it comes to doing higher Math when math fact recall is needed. It’s free, so that’s an added bonus as well. 

March and April 2016 Musings 

And it’s already April… I’m not sure how time flies so quickly. It must be because we’re having so much fun. 😜

At the end of March, Madison enjoyed taking a homeschool class at the Dallas Museum of Art that focused on Egyptian Art. They had a learning session in the exhibit area and then went back to the classroom and played an ancient Egyptian game called Senet and made hieroglyphic art. She sketched hieroglyphics into a styrofoam plate and then they filled it with plaster and when it dried she had her own piece of Egyptian art. It was really cool!

Also, at the end of March, Madison had a blast at the iCan Create Filmfest with North Texas Mensa Youth through NuMinds Enrichment. If you haven’t heard of NuMinds, check them out. They offer tons of enrichment for gifted kids. She created her own stop motion movies. You can check out one of the movies she made HERE. And the other one HERE.

In the beginning of April, we attended homeschool day at the Dallas Zoo. We have gone to the homeschool day at the Fort Worth Zoo the past couple of years and wanted to switch it up. It was AWESOME!!

They had educational booths set up and a scavenger hunt that was very educational.

These guys were rock stars at the animal classification booth! Madison had a blast! 

Madison LOVED feeding the birds!
She made a ‘seed bomb.’


And rode on a pony.
Fed a giraffe.

She loved the Dallas Arboretum booth and is very excited for their upcoming homeschool day!

The bald eagles were beautiful!

  The highlight for Madison was the Hillcrest Foundation Nature Exchange at the zoo. She brought her items in and traded them for some very special treasures. She also saved points for her next visit. The gentleman who helped her was full of knowledge. He scraped off one of her rocks and showed it to her under the microscope that was attached to a screen on the wall. He also showed her the reaction when he put acid on one of her other rocks and why. She learned so much from him in a short period of time. I was amazed!


Madison’s treasures that she traded her items for.

   Madison also enjoyed her Spring nature science class at LLELA. I am grateful for all of the wonderful homeschool programs in our area!
As for curriculum, I was struggling with finding an ‘outline’ to go by since I have decided to piece together our curriculum. I have friends who use Ambleside Online and really like it. It looked really cool, but I haven’t been able to use a ‘Christian’ based curriculum, because we are Catholic and there are some defining differences. Then it hit me. (I’m not sure why it took so long.) I googled and found a Charlotte Mason based site called Mater Amabilis that is for Catholics! It was a very exciting moment. I am not going to follow it directly, but it is an excellent resource. I will outline exactly what we are doing in my next post.

Support and Encouragement 

It’s amazing how support and encouragement can mean so much. It means just as much from those that ‘get it’ as it does from those that may not, but genuinely want to support you and your child regardless.

I have been blessed by total strangers whom I have become close with, that understand from the Raising Poppies group on Facebook, but I am also blessed by those who I call friends in ‘real life’ for supporting us. I can’t even express in words how much it means.

See, when you have a child who you are proud of that succeeds, you want to shout it out to the world!

If it is sports related it is acceptable. I have also found that if it is art or music related that it accepted as well.

But, if it is academically related then it isn’t supported as well. It is considered bragging.

Madison learned early on how to ‘fit in.’ I also have noticed that she can be herself around those she truly trusts.

Sometimes in life you can pretend and play along to be accepted, but to be liked for who you are and to be able to be yourself is priceless.

I know that friendships are important to my daughter. I have walked on eggshells to ensure that she would have the friendships that she wanted to have. However, things are becoming clearer for her.

She is grateful for the close friendships that she has. She is learning they won’t always be perfect and that it is ok.

But the most important thing that she is learning is that genuine friendships are hard to come by and that you cannot take them fore granted. They are the diamond in the rough and that you cherish them.

Sometimes I wish it was easier for her and for me. If she were normal, we would totally fit and it wouldn’t be hard.

But it’s not. And everyone doesn’t understand. And it’s hard and it hurts. It really hurts. It’s lonely. Very lonely.

But, it brings more appreciation to those who do understand and to those that don’t, but love Madison for who she is.

That is a blessing in itself and one that is truly cherished.

What does this teach me? What do I take away from this experience? To love everyone’s children for who they are and to embrace them regardless of their strengths and weaknesses. To support all parents, regardless of their success and  struggles, because we all have them. We are all in the same place. We all need support each other in one way or another. We should never judge.


Family is so important. But, unfortunately some don’t realize what the true definition of family means. There are apparently different definitions for everyone.

So I am going to base this post off of what family means to me. What I was taught and what I believe in and what I instill in my children. 

Unconditional love. Not narcism.  Family is what you can do for others. Not what you do that makes you feel good about yourself. 

Family is truly loving someone for who they are and wanting to be part of their life no matter what. Not judging them. Loving them. Respecting them, even if you don’t understand them. 

I’m my opinion, anyone who judges someone is not a true Christian, because it is not their place to do so. They if they do judge,  they are only self-righteous and selfish. 

You only have one shot at your time on Earth which was given to you by sacrifice. Why would you spend that time judging others because they are not just like you?!

Why would you not love them unconditionally for who they are? 

If you do not, you are essentially a hypocrite. 

Loving family should not be hard. It should be innate. ‘Your way is the the right way’  is not the only way and is a self righteous view. One that is not true and that will not rise above in the end. 

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