Sunday, January 28, 2018

Language Art - A Gallery of Idioms

The idea for this post was actually sparked a couple of years ago, when I used an idiom in conversation with my daughter. I thought I had a perfect context for it's use, but she hadn't heard it and didn't get it. In preparation for her competing at a gymnastics meet, we were visiting the meet venue in advance. The discovery of a bronze cast sculpture of two bulls, outside the venue presented the initial reminder plus an excellent opportunity for photos and for the use of the idiom; To take the bull by the horns.

Surprised by the fact that my daughter didn't initially understand the phrase, I've kept a list since, for fun and as it turns out, for a little bit of photography inspiration and challenge for myself, as well.

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Too many irons in the fire.
He really went to town.
The proof is in the pudding.
Don't put all of your eggs in one basket.
A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
Don't put all of your eggs in one basket. 
A picture is worth a thousand words
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Killing two birds with one stone.
Barking up the wrong tree.
A piece of cake.
Can't have your cake and eat it, too.
Don't let the cat out of the bag.
That's the pot calling the kettle black.
Seeing red.

A succinct definition of an idiom from, "Idioms are literally ideas as expressions"sums up the language phrase concept. Idioms contain "strong elements of a metaphor" and frequently a strong visual element. The visual connotations are probably what fascinate me about the use of idioms and feed right into my visual artist explorations. Another sums it up, a picture is worth a thousand words, as an excellent example."

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Don't put all of your eggs in one basket.
In some cases the meaning of the original expression has remained, but the original reference has been lost. In some cases the words of an idiom have changed but the meaning has remained. Or in some cases, the activity once referred two is no longer really a part of our daily lives, thank goodness. For example, a violent one. Killing two birds with one stone.

Context may be everything in the case of  the use of idioms. Over time some of the words in an idiom may change but the original meaning remains. The meaning of an idiom will be understood by the people functioning within a similar language context but I've noticed that even in the face of some language or cultural differences many understand the meaning behind an expression. Many idioms simply sum up a human event or daily activity experienced widely across cultures, if not now, then in the past. Don't put all of your eggs in one basket, is an example. Undoubtedly, this one would have more significant meaning to those who have actually gathered eggs and more significance still, if those eggs actually meant a meal on the table.

An idiom that my daughter didn't initially understand when
I thought I had more then a perfect context for it's
use before she competed at a gymnastics meet.
The key to passing on an understanding of language, it's many variations and the idioms it includes, is to engage in conversation frequently. Experience with using the words and expressions of our language well and with meaning requires engagement with that language. Encouraging ongoing dialog and providing opportunities for rich conversations in our homes and daily encounters is vital for our young ones to understand the world around them, the views of others and to express their own views well enough for others to understand. Engaging in conversation frequently with family, friends and as we go about our daily activities with those we meet along the way is important to maintaining understanding between us all.

Don't let the cat out of the bag
(or in this case, the box).
The proof is in the pudding, is a good example of the meaning of an idiom being carried on without the entirety of the phrase. I wonder how many children have a context to understand the complete process of making pudding. Apparently, the original phrase has actually evolved by dropping part of the early reference of the set of the pudding. Referring to the desired result of a set pudding, actually makes more sense out of the phrase. However, who now, except for an active chef would even understand that the set of the pudding is everything in making a successful pudding. By referring to the result of an endeavor, the proof is in the pudding, phrase to applies to the concept of good work, good results. I'll end with that idiom because it can be applied to the use of much dialog, discussion and language in our families, too. It's a good reminder to continue active dialog and communication as parents with our children. The set of our children's language skills is proof of the value of talking, talking, talking with our children.

As an example, (a site I frequently use as a reference tool) has a cute video of a couple of kids explaining a few common English idioms.

These Kids Have Bright Ideas About Idioms

Click on the title, check it out and keep talking to the children.

2018 Fresh Start, New Year Special

Monday, January 15, 2018

My Word of the Year 2018

For most of us, the beginning of a new year offers the opportunity to plan and dream. However, my goals for a new beginning are quite often overly ambitious and become less of a plan and more of a dream. I've seen the idea of choosing a word of the year and it looks like fun. I like to read a word of the day and have a dictionary app on my phone. Even one word a day can be one word too many though on some days.

Learning new vocabulary is fun and as I read once paraphrased; "Learning the vocabulary of a subject is the beginning of mastery of  a subject". Vocabulary learning can in some ways provide a bit of a shortcut to more in depth learning and understanding. For high school students vocabulary study is suggested as test prep for the biggies, ACT and SAT. It's important to keep talking with one another and using a broad vocabulary with children.

The choice of a personal word of the year isn't really about vocabulary though, it's more about personal growth and awareness. It's an interesting challenge. And I'm taking it on for 2018.
I'm joining in the yearly word idea with my own word of the year. I'll see how far it carries and if there are any interesting results. If you are doing something similar or have in the past, let me know. Was it worthwhile? Fun? Produce any surprising results? What's your word for 2018? Keep reading to see mine.

Symbolic of my word of the year choice and a new found passion.
There are so many interesting ideas and activities. Many of my own interests have been put aside as I've raised my kids. As someone who likes to create, I have lots of back logged projects of art making and sewing. So with the idea to complete a few projects, improve my feelings of accomplishment and reduce my own sense of overwhelm. To learn to practice the art of not being so easily distracted, my word of the year for 2018 is:



[foh-kuh s] 

nounplural focuses, foci 
 [foh-sahy, -kahy] (Show IPA)
a central point, as of attraction, attention, or activity:
The need to prevent a nuclear war became the focus of all diplomaticefforts.
Physics. a point at which rays of light, heat, or other radiation meetafter being refracted or reflected.
  1. the focal point of a lens, on which rays converge or from whichthey deviate.
  2. the focal length of a lens; the distance from a focal point to acorresponding principal plane.
  3. the clear and sharply defined condition of an image.
  4. the position of a viewed object or the adjustment of an opticaldevice necessary to produce a clear image:
    in focus; out of focus.
Happy New Word of the Year!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

SchoolhouseTeachers Review

2017 was an eventful year for us and looking ahead, as a new year begins, it looks like more of the same. For us, 2018 will bring each of our children to crossroads and decisions that will influence their futures. Graduating from college and considering work possibilities for our oldest son, determining where to continue a degree program with our second son, who is attending classes at a community college and completing and graduating from high school for our youngest. We have used a variety of resources and curriculum to get us to this point. The online resource that I have used the most frequently is This post is a review of  the Yearly Membership of this online product and includes some of what we have found most useful and valuable in that resource so far.

Our youngest is a dancer, and will likely be taking the most unique path of our children. She dreams of dancing in a professional company. As a homeschooling family, we have become accustomed to taking roads less traveled and have been able to accommodate extensive training for her goal. I continue to be grateful for the option to follow the interests of each of our children in an intensive way and can see the beneficial results, as they each launch into the world, pursuing their own life adventures.

Beginning the Year with a Review and a Plan

We have been flexible and eclectic in our approach to homeschooling. However, I have dropped the ball on the basics as a homeschooling teacher at times. Life's adventures and more interesting activities have often sidetracked us. Or life's usual and not so usual events have deterred us along the way, but I have always tried to return to covering the basics, plus some enlightened enrichment in a somewhat structured way. To do so it has been important to have an easy, go to resource to tap into.

For me has been that primary go to resource for the last several years. The math course offerings alone, found in the math focused learning center, have been useful in keeping us on track in continued learning and practice. We have consistently turned to the math courses for my daughter to work through required high school math courses including pre-alegbra, algebra and geometry.
High-quality, Self-paced, Online Homeschool Resources {}

Yearly Membership to has given us access to an online product that I can go to for a variety of structured courses. With a click or two or three, we have to access to important learning lessons and materials. Membership has given us the structure we need to continue covering what we think is important while adapting it to our own family learning styles. It helps me fulfill a  plan as we homeschool. has courses that are sequenced and complete, many include items that are downloadable and printable. There is a video library available, with many of the online classes offering video components to view and learn from. My daughter and I are embarking on viewing the videos for the guitar class together. I am viewing them for a much needed refresher and she is continuing the basics of her learning as a beginning player.

Given that my daughter is currently a high school student, research projects are in the mix. While I still emphasize library book research, I know online research resources are all important in today's world. provides access to World Book, a feature that adds to both research projects and unit studies. My favorite aspect of World Book is the timeline section. For student interaction, the timeline feature includes the option for a user to add events not already included on the timeline. It is fascinating to see events as they relate to one another historically.

High-quality, Self-paced, Online Homeschool Resources {}

As we are near the end of our homeschooling days with our daughter, we will be continuing to use the valuable resources offered by ~ ( with her. For myself, I'm looking forward to visiting the parent section, to soak up some of the encouragement there, as our family transitions into a new phase.

Homeschool Curriculum for Everybody - { Reviews}
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