Spelling Those Tricky Words


My 3 youngest: Louisa, Ammon and Emily


Spelling correctly is just as important as doing your hair!

How’s that?

Well, it makes quite a first impression, whether on a job application or in a love letter.

Spelling is not something that we stop learning the day we graduate from high school, or college even. I am a good speller, and I like spelling, so just for fun I took a spelling test this morning. I discovered that I could not spell quite a few of the most commonly misspelled difficult words in the English language . . . which surprised me a bit. I thought I’d have it down by now!

Where to start? Students can make great spelling progress by learning these 12 tricky spelling combinations. These are among the most frequently used (and misused and misspelled) words in the English language. Just having these mastered will make quite a different in their daily writing!

1. Its / It’s

2. No / Know

3. Principal / Principle

4. Quite / Quiet

5. There / Their / They’re

6. To / Too/ Two

7. Through / Threw

8. Weather / Whether

9. Where / Wear

10. Which / Witch

11. Write / Right

12. Your / You’re


I have taught my kids to figure out these words with little memory clues. I’ll share some here with you:

Its / It’s

It’s is a contraction of the words it is. So, when confronted with which one to use, try to replace the word it’s (or its) with the words it is. If that sentence works, then make sure to use the it’s with the apostrophe. For example, “It’s five o’clock” can be also stated, “It is five o’clock”. But this sentence does not work: “The cat licked it is paws.”

Principal / Principle

The principal is a man who could be your pal. See the word pal in principal?

There / Their / They’re

There is a location, a place. You are either here or there. Can you see the word here in the word there? They’re is a contraction of the words they are. You can replace the word they’re with they are as a test to see if it works.

To / Too

Too many cookies is the phrase I use to help my children see the word too means additional, also or excess. You can draw chocolate chips in the letter o in the word too to help them remember!

Where / Wear

Where is another location or place word. When you ask the question, “where?”, you are either here or there. Look for the word here in the word.

Which / Witch

The witch that rides a broomstick has her broom in the middle of the word (the letter t).

Your / You’re

The word you’re is a contraction of the words you are. Teach your children to replace the word your/you’re in a sentence with you are and they can discern if it is a contraction or not.

Now, for contractions!

By the way, if you haven’t taught your children about contractions yet, that is a fun lesson! Using two index cards, write the separate words of the contraction, one per card like this:

can                 not

Have your child read the separate cards to you. Hold one card in each of your hands. Then show them how to make a crash of the two word cards (big appeal with boys) so they bend back and only show these letters:

can                 t

On a third card, draw a “comma-up-in-the-air” (apostrophe). Tell them the crash knocked out some letters and so you stick this mark right where the letters are missing to show they once were there.


Works with every contraction except won’t (will not).

Have fun with spelling today!


May I recommend:

Spelling Clues

Quirky English

Teach Any Child to Spell

Would you like to share this?

Gifted Child


I homeschooled my son in kindergarten and then had to put him in public school for 1st grade. They of course tested him and he is “gifted”. I am blessed to be able to homeschool him again next year. Do you have any thoughts or suggestions on what I can try with him? The school’s idea was more work—which would totally backfire with him. I know we can probably go at a faster pace but any other thoughts? Also what do you think about sticking to the 2nd grade curriculum (of what’s he’s suppose to know vs. what he’s interested in?)  For example, he wants to learn about the United States geography. Is it wrong to just focus on U.S. geography and not on cultures, government, world history etc.?


What a blessing to be able to homeschool a gifted child! You and he will have a wonderful time together!

The idea of “more work” sounds like a prison sentence for being gifted. I would set his basic core work, same as for any other child, such as math, English, etc. that can be done in a hour or so. Then I would give him lots of freedom to pursue his own educational interests! If he wants to learn about USA geography, I would provide every means for him to just run with that subject. Go to the library and load up, go to the internet, get videos; buy atlases, maps, games; find mentors that he can talk with—do whatever would do the job to satiate his interest. Let him at it and encourage him in every way. Give him a chance to present his findings to Dad or to the family, or to teach other kids.

After he has delved into geography, he may satisfy his curiosity and move into another area of interest, or he may go deeper in geography and find one aspect of it that really intrigues him. As his mother/teacher, your job is to facilitate learning and encourage him follow his wholesome interests. You can use his interest in geography as a springboard for other subjects. I think a nicely drawn map would more than qualify for art class. A paper written about some aspect of geography that he likes (such as longitude and latitude, or highest and lowest elevations of the USA) would be an excellent way to learn to write better, provided you coach him when you edit his writing. Delight and interest are motivators that we all seek to help our children do their schoolwork, so if your son already has an interest, he is already motivated and you are fortunate!

My advice: don’t worry a bit about making him learn the 2nd grade curriculum. If he is doing his basic 3 R’s each day so he keeps up on math and reading/writing skills—his own interests will educate him far beyond what a 2nd grader needs to know. Over a few years of homeschooling, he will exceed any requirements. I have found this with my own non-gifted children. If they love to learn, and you encourage their interests, the sky is the limit.



May I recommend:


Keeping on Grade Level


Siblings Progressing at Different Rates


My Child is Behind in School

Would you like to share this?

A Work that Matters

Daniel Webster

Daniel Webster

If we work on marble, it will perish. If we work upon brass, time will efface it. If we rear temples, they will crumble into dust, but if we work upon immortal minds, and instill into them just principles, we are then engraving upon that tablet that which no time will efface but will brighten and brighten to all eternity.
—Daniel Webster







May I recommend:

Who God Trusts

The Family Bible

Miller Book Collection

Would you like to share this?

We’ll Be Looking in the Mirror


Louisa at Silver Falls, Oregon

The problem with being a mom is that you are always and ever being watched and copied. From what you read in the bathroom to how you act when a car cuts in front of you in traffic, your behavior is all being carefully recorded in the minds and hearts of your children.

ARGH! That is a truth that causes me pain! You mean they are going to turn out like ME?! Help!

This is the bad news. It is also the good news. God set you up to be a model of Him for your children. You say in a sense, “Come follow me,” to your children. Your facial expressions, your food preferences, your attitude towards keeping the speed limit, your treatment of the elderly, your gratitude towards your husband for the paycheck you live on—it’s all up to you how your children will learn to act, will learn to live.

I’d like that sobering thought to govern my daily actions, but it sure is easy to forget . . . until I end up correcting my child for imitating my bad behavior!

If we don’t want our kids to depend on sweets and chocolate as a way to cope with stress, guess what? We’ve got to teach them a better way! If we don’t want them to criticize or talk badly about others, guess what? We’ve got to model daily for them how to deal with other people’s shortcomings in a positive way. If we want them to respect authority, guess what? Yep . . . .

We are hopeful that they will do better than we do, and often they far excel our behavior. But in many ways, when we’ve finished raising our children, we’ll be looking in the mirror! I’m thinking on that today.

May I recommend:

Clones Clones Clones Clones Clones

Be That Person

The Hand that Rocks the Cradle

Would you like to share this?


homeschooling_louisa cakeI think as moms we often live in the zone of “tomorrow”. There is just so much to do today and we are getting tired.  Tomorrow is always there, promising more time and new energy.  Like Annie, it seems we bank our hopes that the “sun will come out tomorrow”.

The bad news is that tomorrow just keeps hopping ahead one more day, and some very important things keep getting scheduled for “tomorrow”.

Louisa had asked for cooking lessons for several YEARS!  (Gosh, it hurt me to write that!  Could I really have put her off for years?!)

I had some grandiose ideas:

  • -recipe cards in a cute flip-top recipe box
  • -little 3-ring-binder that we add one recipe at a time as she learned to cook
  • -vocabulary terms
  • -discussion of cooking utensils and equipment
  • -healthy treat recipes that we invented together
  • -a syllabus and a plan with weekly hour lessons where we focus on quick breads, then soups, salads, breakfast foods, etc.
  • -fun, hands-on nutrition lessons
  • -a cooking class with friends

. . . ah, need I go on?

Dreaming, dreaming!

Better to do a little than nothing at all. If we wait to pull things together and do them up right, then very often NOTHING happens.  It is scheduled for that ever-fleeting “tomorrow”.

So, one day when she was 10, I called Louisa in from play and said, “I want you to follow the recipe and make Cabbage Banana Salad for dinner.  I’ll help you if you need me to.”  Nothing grandiose.  No organization or cute recipe cards needed.  Just spur-of-the-moment, practical stuff.

She didn’t feel confident but the salad got done and a little bonus is that the other family members gave her some kudos for it.  And another bonus is that I got a direly needed reminder to myself that it doesn’t have to be done exactly right as long as it is generally edible.  She felt good about her effort!  Next day I had her make Broccoli Tree Salad.  And the following, it was Spinach Salad. Eventually I assigned her a weekly “dinner night” in which she planned the entire meal and had it ready on time.

These were not the cooking lessons I dreamed of giving her. . . boo hoo!  But my spur-of-the-moment hands-on lesson was realistic, I could manage it right then.  Little by little, day by day, she learned and made the metamorphosis into the capable cook she is today!

Don’t wait for that elusive tomorrow.  Let the sun come out . . .today!

May I recommend:

Not Organized, Not Perfect

What Do You Want Mommy to Do?

Begin with the End in Mind

Would you like to share this?

Pass It On

My son Daniel and his little girls

My son Daniel and his little girls

We don’t live just for ourselves. If our beliefs and values that we hold so dearly only enrich our own lives, it is not enough. Many of us are passionate about homeschooling because of the realization that our lives are only a brief moment and what we pass on to the next generation may possibly live forever in the lives of our descendants, generation by generation. If we really believe in something, we want to pass it on!

What better way to “pass it on” than teaching and loving your children!?

                 Pass It On

Have you had a kindness shown?
Pass it on.
‘Twas not given for you alone,
Pass it on.
Let it travel down the years,
Let it wipe another’s tears,
‘Till in heaven the deed appears-
Pass it on.

Did you hear the loving word?
Pass it on.
Like the singing of a bird?
Pass it on.
Let its music live and grow,
Let it cheer another’s woe
You have reaped what others sow,
Pass it on.

‘Twas the sunshine of a smile—
Pass it on.
Staying but a little while!
Pass it on.
April beam’s a little thing,
Still it wakes the flowers of spring,
Makes the silent birds to sing,
Pass it on.

Have you found the heavenly light?
Pass it on.
Souls are groping in the night.
Daylight gone-
Hold thy lighted lamp on high,
Be a star in someone’s sky;
He may live who else would die—
Pass it on.

Be not selfish in thy greed,
Pass it on.
Look upon thy brother’s need,
Pass it on.
Live for self you live in vain,
Live for Christ, you live again.
Live for Him, with Him you reign,
Pass it on.

       —Henry Burton


May I recommend:

The World is Mine

Asking Why

Oh, Susanna!

Would you like to share this?

Please subscribe and I will email you a copy of my ebook: The Only School Chart that Survived 25 Years of Homeschooling!

  • Facebook
  • Google+
  • Twitter
  • YouTube