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Video: Finding Encouragement Through Prioritizing


I was recently asked to write a guest post on Kathie Morrisey’s Character Corner blog about encouragement. (You can read that article here on the blog!) When I sat out to write encouraging words, I came back to what I always come back to–prioritizing leads to encouragement. I can encourage myself by setting my priorities and following through on them. It’s true….it has happened to me countless times during my thirty-two years of homeschooling and continues to happen to me now as an entrepreneur and online teacher. So I wrote my article for Character Corner–and decided to make a video to follow it up. I hope that this prioritizing help encourages you as much as it has me throughout my parenting years.

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Punctuation Puzzle – Colons With Belle & Beast

 By Donna Reish & Zac Kieser

Colons are seriously hard! If people use them at all, they often use them wrong. Generally speaking, people use colons following a speech tag in two instances (both of which are incorrect):

a. Following any speech tag— Donna said: “This is how you use colons.”

b. Following a long speech tag (they automatically think a long speech tag warrants a colon following it)— Donna, while teaching ten high school boys in mid-May, said: “This is how you use colons.”

Here’s some of the scoop before Zac gives you a run for your money with his colon puzzle! 🙂


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Finding Encouragement Through Prioritizing



The scene was a common one for this “young mama” (then!) of five children ten and under (so far!): I worked my tail off all day long and still felt like a complete failure. My husband came home from a typical twelve hour day to my cries of “I didn’t get anything done today that I needed to do” and “I just don’t understand why I can’t get more done as long as the day is and as hard as I work.”


And once again, he answered with sweet words that pointed me to prioritizing, something that I was still in the process of learning: “Did you rock and feed the baby?” I nodded yes.


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Live Teaching Video & REAL Book Give Away! (Free Lesson Download Included!)



Classes are underway for the second semester for both Character Ink Cottage Classes and Donna’s Live Online Writing Classes (yay!). I had so much fun with a couple of students in a book that I haven’t taught from for a while that I thought I would give my readers the lesson and video of the class—AND give you a chance to win a copy of the book I am using! Yep–someone will win a free copy of the spiral-bound, print version of Meaningful Composition 9 II: High School Creative Writing simply by watching the teaching video in this post and commenting below that you watched the whole video–and what you learned or liked about it! 🙂 (Homework!)

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Character Ink 2018-2019 Cottage Classes! Live and Online Options!

Character Ink (CI) is announcing a tentative class offering list for the 2018-2019 school year for all three of our locations. Please note that the classes will be offered based on enrollment as of July 1st (for first semester) and November 1st (for second semester), so if there is a class that you want CI to run, please be sure to register early to be sure that class is full enough.


Registrations are on a first come-first served basis. A deposit of $50 per student (regardless of number of classes) is required with the registration form in order to hold class spots for a student. Students will be invoiced at the beginning of each semester with monthly payments as needed.

You may see the full schedule, prices, descriptions, and forms at our blog by clicking HERE. (See Cottage Classes.) You may also request a registration form by e-mailing .


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Families and Co-Ops: Online Writing Classes by Donna Reish (Character Ink Press)


I have had a wonderful year teaching online classes! The tech wasn’t as bad as I was afraid it was going to be. We didn’t really have any trouble getting papers back and forth between me and the students. And it was great to teach students from Canada, Florida, Chicago, Ohio, and more! So much fun!


I am excited to open up a couple more classes–and extremely excited for the interest from co-ops and small groups to join me! I’m still working out the details of the small group or co-op classes, but I would love to talk you on the phone to work your group in! (260-433-4365)


Also, if you have a group of four or more students, I would consider creating a writing or complete language arts class for your group possibly on a different day/time.


Here are the details as I know them so far!

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5 Tips for Past vs. Passed From Language Lady

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Slideshow: 5 Tips for Past vs. Passed From Language Lady



Pass Is the Verb

The first thing I teach my students is that PASS is the verb. It is the current tense. We do not say Today I PAST the test. PASS/PASSED is the verb.

To cement this further, I ask them what would happen if we added the past tense suffix ED to the non-verb PAST. I love doing this because they look at each other and try to figure it out aloud: PASS/TED? Then I have them write PAST on their paper and add ED to it. In unison, they say PAY/STED (pasted)! This helps them really think about the fact that PAST is not the verb! PAST with ED has nothing to do with PASSING–it has to do with PASTING, as in gluing!



Focus on PAST as a Preposition First

I like to break down and “play with” the word PAST first. Past can be one of three parts of speech (at least). Past is a preposition when it has an object following it: PAST the barn. PAST the house. PAST the school. 

I remind them of their Preposition Practice Pal and/or Preposition Check Sentences: Birdie flew PAST the tube or The angel flew PAST the cloud. Yep. PAST is a preposition. We practice with PAST as a preposition with many objects–and if I feel they are “getting it,” I will also have them highlight the verbs in the “past as a preposition” sentence. This helps them see that past is a preposition, and there is already a verb in that sentence. (More on this later….I don’t do too much of this yet!)



Focus on PAST as Other Parts of Speech for Older Students

If the students are well-versed in prepositions with me, they are also well-versed in the fact that prepositions can also be other parts of speech. (We talk about this ALL the time, beginning with the preposition TO also used as part of an infinitive phrase: to run, to be, etc.) So they are used to my talks of “prepositions can also be….”! So we delve into two of the other things that the word PAST can often be: adverbs and adjectives. 

PAST is an adverb when it tells WHERE you went: We drove PAST. We just walked right PAST. (Some would argue that these are prepositions with their objects missing!) More importantly, however, PAST is an adjective that tells after a time or before and describes a noun: half PAST twelve; it is PAST noon; those are PAST memories. (Of course, PAST can be a noun when used in place of the word history or distance, but since it is usually a noun that is the object of a preposition {in the PAST; don’t dwell on the PAST}, I don’t bring this up—first PAST is a preposition, then it’s an object of a preposition????–Stop the madness! Poor kids!) 



Use Structural Analysis When It Works

I like to give students as many tricks, tips, mnemonics, rhymes, jingles, and more for learning as I possibly can! And I like to use as many DIFFERENT ones as possible since one trick (recitation, for example) might work wonderfully for this student but not for another. Visual kids might not HEAR the difference between the base verb PASS and the word PAST (even without the ED added onto the PASS). However, that same visual student might do really well with structural analysis–analyzing the structure of words (and the visual/kinesthetic learner might learn really well by analyzing and highlighting or “coding” in some way). 

Thus, I like to point out that PAST ends with a T….. and THE begins with a T. Then I write on my board (or have them highlight it in their lesson where it is written): pasT The barn; pasT The school; pasT The park, etc. This further cements the fact that past is the preposition, not the verb. (We also place parentheses around all prepositional phrases when we “dissect” sentences, so I will have them do this as well.)



Go Deeper With Older Students

For older kids, I give a dozen or more examples of all of the parts of speech that PAST can be–again pointing out that it is never PASS in these instances since PASS is a verb. I also have them practice writing examples of each instance of using PAST.
    a. Preposition: They drove PAST the gate
    b. Adjective: He is the PAST president. 
    c. Adverb: He flew PAST. 
    d. Noun: Let’s leave that in the PAST. 

Older students can also grasp the concept that if there is another MOVEMENT verb in the sentence (and it’s not a compound verb), you want the word PAST with it: We DROVE past the park. However, if there is not another movement verb in the sentence, you want the VERB PASSED: We PASSED the park.

Thanks for Joining Donna to Learn About Grammar and Writing!

Check Out Other “5 Tips From Language Lady” slideshows!

5 Places to Find Language Lady/Donna Reish Teaching Grammar and Writing

Welcome to Summer School


I know that title is a lot cheerier than most people are when they think of Summer School. However, I want to help you look at Summer School in a little more positive light. It CAN be an opportunity to catch up on missed skills, reinforce what was just learned, or prep for the upcoming school year. It CAN be an opportunity to focus on one area of academics instead of several. It CAN be an opportunity to grow your student in an area of interest. It CAN be a great opportunity!

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Delighting in the Dailies—Part II of II


So now that you are convinced that “delighting in the dailies” will help you accomplish your goals, how do you get them started (and keep them going) during the initial stages—when there isn’t a lot of fruit to show for your efforts, and you are convinced some day that you should just forget making dinner and go play solitaire or buy some sort of farm equipment (on the computer…lol)?


Here are some tips for learning to truly “delight in the dailies” and make those dailies a long-term reality in your home:

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Conjunctive Adverbs–Comical Sentences Plus Tricky Trick Sheet for Students!


Conjunctive Adverbs (CA’s) are one of the most confusing parts of speech to teach because they are not used that often. However, we need to teach students what they are and how to write with them because they carry so much meaning! They are amazing for transitions–and they show so many relationships between words and between parts of a sentence. (Check out the Tricky Trick student download in this post for the four places to use Conjunctive Adverbs in a Sentence!) They also have several punctuation options (depending on whether the CA is in between two sentences, at the beginning of a sentence, at the end of a sentence, or splitting on complete sentence).

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