Tuesdays@2 with ShillerLearning's

Antoinette LaGrossa

You may have already met ShillerLearning's Antoinette LaGrossa at a homeschool conference. Veteran homeschool mom of five children, she has been representing ShillerLearning since 2004, traveling the country presenting workshops helping and inspiring homeschool families just like yours. If you have yet to meet Antoinette, you’ll value her expertise and experience.


Join Antoinette for free online information sessions. It's your opportunity for a coffee break on Tuesdays at 2 p.m. Eastern (1 Central, 12 Mountain, 11 Pacific).


You’ll pick up tips on multisensory Montessori-based instruction, general homeschooling advice, seasonal craft and activities, plus an occasional guest. All you need is your favorite beverage (coffee, tea, green smoothie?), a device with an internet connection, and 20 to 30 minutes of time. Bring your questions and enjoy homeschool inspiration from the comfort of your own home.


Mark your calendar for Tuesdays@2.


All you need to do is to sign up here. We’ll take care of everything else and send you the link.

Larry Shiller

Larry Shiller is President of ShillerLearning, whose mission is to help every student fulfill their potential. Shiller has degrees from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Harvard Business School and is the author of Software Excellence (Prentice-Hall).

A father of three, Shiller is active in non-profits and his hobbies include working with local startups, music (Shiller is an accomplished violinist who - when not helping children learn math and language arts - performs in the NYC tri-state area), tennis (Shiller's team made it to the USTA national finals in his skill bracket), Quoridor (Shiller is a former USA Champion), backgammon (Shiller is the Voice of Backgammon, doing commentary on backgammon tournaments worldwide), table tennis, and flying (Shiller holds a private pilot's license).

Comments (4):

Shakira Gbetibouo on

Think we purchased the incorrect kit at the THSC conference in May. 1st and 4th grader. Math Kit I & Fractions instead of Math Kit I and Math Kit II. Suggestions…?

Robin Fisher on

I waited for the link for the Father’s Day Craft edition however never received it. I hope it was recorded and can find it to see it somewhere else.

Gloria Capetillo on

Sign me up for Tues. @2

Christine Green on

Signed up and can’t get the link. Have checked spam and nothing

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6 Strategies to Maximize Learning Opportunities in Mistakes

The ShillerLearning philosophy says that every mistake is a learning opportunity; it encourages discussion and improves understanding of concepts and processes. This is true for all education topics, whether homeschool math or language arts, and life in general. The language used by home educators in identifying and correcting mistakes has a huge impact on how well or poorly children will learn from mistakes, avoid repeating them in the future, and even whether or not they develop a growth mindset.


 "In a growth mindset, challenges are exciting rather than threatening. So rather than thinking, oh, I'm going to reveal my weaknesses, you say, wow, here's a chance to grow."

- Carol S. Dweck


Do you have a homeschooler that could benefit from that outlook? Are you getting excited about your child's next mistake? Mistakes will occur early and often. Parents with children that reach their full potential have a clear strategy for dealing with the situation.

Education expert Larry Shiller and the homeschool team at ShillerLearning suggest the following approach when a mistake is made:


1. Mistakes are opportunities to identify holes in the child's knowledge or approach.

ShillerLearning recommends employing the Socratic Method of questioning to help the child discover his or her own error. Once the hole is known it is usually easy to "fill." Be sure the reasons for the mistake are well understood before moving on: "This card says three thousands and you have two thousands. How many more thousands do you need to have three thousands? That's right: one more thousand. You may get another thousand."

If you child doesn't answer your question correctly, you have spotted an opportunity to better understand his or her thought process and why the mistake is being made.


2. Focus on the process, not the person. 

When they mess up, children (like adults) don't like to hear that they are a lesser person for it (because they're not). Blaming a child for a mistake can discourage the child from wanting to try anything other than what they excel at with very little effort or thought.

Instead focus on the process. Try using phrases like, "Does that seem right?" "I might've come up with a different answer; walk me through your steps to solve this problem." "I would've got that answer wrong too! Let's see how we can get to the correct answer and understand why it's correct." Or: "Maybe there's a different approach; let's start from the beginning." Children often spot and self-correct mistakes while explaining their process. If not, you will be able to spot the learning opportunity of the mistake in their process.


3. Go back to basics.

Revisit the Montessori Three Period Lesson of "This is, Show me, What is," which as explained in the ShillerLearning Educator Guide in the beginning of your lesson books. Yes, it is short, but don't be tempted to skip the Educator Guide! Those few pages include best practices to help you and your child get the most out of your homeschool math or language arts experience. The ShillerLearning YouTube channel also has a short video with Larry Shiller talking about the 3 Period Lesson.


4. Use the other learning styles.

New knowledge is best learned when it is concrete, explored with all learning styles (visual, tactile, auditory, and kinesthetic), before they are asked to work with it in the abstract. It is almost always a big hit to put the audio CD (or mp3s) on and sing and dance along. The manipulative index can be used to find an activity that uses a favorite manipulative. (You can also use the Find feature in a lesson book pdf file to do this.) If an activity is not your child's dominant learning style, don't worry, that learning style will be incorporated in another lesson. You can use your concept index to see the list of lessons that teaches a particular concept. You may find that your child likes to repeat activities (over and over) that use their dominant learning style. That's okay. Resist the urge to interrupt a focused and concentrated child.

By using all four learning styles to teach every concept, in the strategic manner used in a Montessori-based approach, your child will see and understand the concept before being asked to work with it abstractly. That experiential learning helps to prevent mistakes from happening in the first place and to provide a no-pressure way to self-correct when they do happen.


5. Be creative. Feel free to extend the activity or game in the lesson - or make up games as you go along should the urge strike. Give your child free time to explore materials after use with a scripted lesson. Kids can come up with amazing off-label uses for materials and discover new concepts with imagination, creativity, and curiosity.

The ShillerLearning homeschool blog, ShillerLearning.com customer downloads, and ShillerLearning social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube) open a whole new world of support and ideas to make learning multisensory and fun.


6. Keep a sense of humor. When a child associates math with laughter and warm feelings, it's bound to be a good and lasting one. Laugh together. Laugh at your own mistakes and verbalize your learning opportunities . Acknowledge limitations with a wink and a smile. Keep a sense of humor and positive attitude while you cultivate your own growth mindset and your child will likely model your behavior.  


All this discussion of mistakes - what about when the child does something correctly? PRAISE. We will explore praise more in another blog post. In the meantime, don't miss out on treating a mistake as an opportunity. Keep in mind that these tips work for all areas of home learning as well as life, not just homeschool math and language arts.


Let us know how they work for you!


Antoinette LaGrossa

Veteran homeschool mom of five children, Antoinette LaGrossa has been homeschooling since 2001. Having experienced her family’s frustration with multiple math programs, Antoinette understands the struggle that can come with teaching math. Everything changed in 2004 when she tried ShillerMath. She quickly joined the ShillerLearning team and has been supporting home educators for almost two decades - sharing hands-on learning tips, encouragement, and practical experience from homeschooling five very different children (no cookie-cutter molds here). Antoinette speaks at conventions across the country and is host of ShillerLearning’s Tuesdays@2.

See Inside ShillerLearning Montessori-Based Kits

Language Arts Kit A (PreK/K-G1)

Language Arts Kit B (G1-G4)

5 Tools to Find and Fix Your Child’s Learning Gaps

Do you sometimes feel that sense of panic as you realize your children’s education is entirely in your hands? You are not alone! Both parents with a background in education and those with no experience in the field, share those moments that stop them short asking, “What on earth am I doing?”

As a veteran homeschool mom of 27 years, who was also educated at home, I can assure you, as I have confided to many parents before you, “You are going to miss things. There will be gaps in their learning. You will not bestow on your children a perfect education. So, let go of your expectations of the perfect homeschool right now. If you don’t, your days will be long and disappointing.”

I quickly go on to also assure these deer-in-the-headlights new homeschooling parents, that it doesn’t matter what school they might choose to send their offspring to, that school will miss things, and leave gaps in their children’s learning. Even the best school in the nation, will be found lacking.

The homeschool parent has something very important that can not be replicated at any school; a deep love that will fuel them to learn all they can to help their children succeed! There are some amazing teachers out there, but none that can truly love your children like you do!

At ShillerLearning we strive to create products and curriculum to help you as the homeschool parent meet the educational needs of your children in ways that fit their personalities and learning styles. We are passionate about helping you inspire a lifelong love of learning in each of your children, which will give them the tools to fill in any knowledge gaps they discover in the future.

One of the tools Larry Shiller has created is the Personal Lesson Plan Builder. This unique tool will help you discover areas of strengths and weaknesses. It will also clearly reveal holes or gaps in their education and give you, as the homeschool parent, an easy and gentle way to fill in these gaps providing your student with a solid foundation to grow from rather than pushing them along with their peers, leaving a base filled with holes and increasing difficulty as they try to understand new concepts before establishing comprehension of the prior one's.

The way all these learning management pieces work together is almost like magic. Let me walk you through the process from start to finish.


1. Diagnostic Tests

We do not want to make assumptions about what a student knows or doesn't know, so we recommend that the educator start each student, regardless of age, at the first test from Book 1, with the introduction: "This should be really easy for you and will take you just one minute to do. Let's have some fun and see if you can get them all right."

Diagnostic tests are included with each math or language arts kit. Additional copies may be printed from your downloads for additional children in the family. Diagnostic testing may also be purchased separately if you are trying to decide between kit levels. If you are unsure where to start, call us, and with a few quick questions we will guide you.

Check the answer key. If the student answers all the questions correctly, praise and move on to the next test. If a question is answered incorrectly, the answer key is prescriptive: it tells you exactly which lesson(s) will fill the hole identified by this question. Best practice is to have the student do those activities before going to the next test (unless you are using the tests to decide between kit levels before selecting a kit).

When the student misses most of the questions on a test, stop testing. You have now identified exactly where he or she needs to be in the lesson book - and you have identified and filled all of the holes in his or her math or language arts foundation utilizing all four learning styles (visual, tactile, auditory, and kinesthetic)!

This can be a fun process and can take place over the course of several days or longer.


2. Lesson Plan Builder

With your child’s scored diagnostic test in hand go to our Lesson Plan Builder. You will find a tab titled, “Homeschool Freebies.” From the dropdown, choose “Lesson Plan Builder.” This takes you to one of my favorite pages. Find the line which corresponds to your child’s first test and simply check the boxes for each incorrect question or ones they struggled with.

Remember, this is not a measure of how well your child is doing; it is simply a guide to help you choose the lessons that they need and will inspire them to learn.

After you have entered the information from all tests you may fill in your student’s name and click “Show Lessons.”

3. Personal Lesson Plan

You can access the Personal Lesson Plans for all of your students in your downloads under see your existing personal lesson plans. 

Print your child’s Personal Lesson Plan list (list of lessons in order and lesson names). I suggest putting it in the front of a 3-ring binder. If you have a kit, a binder may have been included. Following the Lesson Plan, I recommend you insert the Completed Worksheet, and the Visual Tracking Sheet. These two record keeping tools will help you keep track as well as provide encouragement and motivation to both you and your student. These sheets can be found in your ShillerLearning Account under “My Downloads.” Scroll down to the Educator Helpers section for these tools and more.

If you purchased a kit, there will also a brand new PDF waiting for each plan with ONLY the lessons needed by that student. It doesn't get any easier than that!

If you don't have a kit yet, you also have the option of purchasing the PDF for the Personal Lesson Plan for $1 a lesson. (Call 888-556-6284 for assistance.)


4. Visual Tracking Sheet

Lay the Visual Tracking Sheet (available in your downloads) next to your child’s lesson plan and place an “X” through each lesson that is not on the lesson plan, giving a visual representation of what they already understand. Each time a lesson is completed your student may color in the box for that lesson. Watch their confidence grow as the chart fills up!

5. Completed Worksheet

This can be found printed on the inside back cover of lesson books, in your binders, or in your downloads.

Each day, note the date, time spent, then list the lessons that you completed with your child and for which they reached competency and closure. If either you or the child thinks a lesson should be revisited, note that lesson in the Lesson to Revisit column. Then in the right hand two columns both you and your child will initial, verifying the completion of the day's work and promoting the child's ownership of their education.

Now here is a piece of the Montessori magic.

One of the goals in Montessori education is for the child to learn to take responsibility for their learning. We emphasize that a child’s play and learning is their work and we want them to learn to initiate work and take pride in their accomplishments.

As the student becomes familiar with the curriculum and can read independently, you will likely discover that they will get out their book, and manipulatives and complete a lesson on their own. They will color in the Visual Tracking Sheet and fill out the Completed Work Sheet initialing their column and then bringing it to you for your initial verifying their progress.

When used in conjunction, as part of a cohesive learning environment, the Diagnostic Tests, the custom Lesson Plan Builder, the Completed Work Sheet, and the Visual Tracking Sheet can help to find and eliminate areas of confusion while building both confidence and a love of learning in your child.

All of the customer service representatives at ShillerLearning are homeschool parents and have personal experience using the curriculum. Please call us at 888-556-6284 with any questions. We love to chat with you and help make your homeschool journey just a little bit easier and more fun!


Catherine Donnelly

Catherine began her formal education journey in Montessori preschool. Following a short stint in regular school she was homeschooled from 5th grade on. After being her college's first homeschooled graduate, she and her husband decided upon home education for their five children. 27 years, and many adventures later, she is till homeschooling their youngest 3 children. The foundation of Maria Montessori's principles have been a consistent thread throughout their learning journey and Catherine was delighted to discover Shiller Learning and join forces in 2020. In her sparse free moments she can be found reading with her children (or hiding in a corner reading by herself); writing articles for her blog, books or various clients; playing with her children; or dressing up in various time period costumes and traveling to historical sites.

Want to See Inside Our Montessori-Based Kits?

Language Arts Kit A (PreK/K-G1)

Language Arts Kit B (G1-G4)

Why This Geography Map Is Perfect For Homeschool

Why This Geography Map is Perfect for Homeschooling


Hajime Narukawa has created a map of the world that will turn your homeschool geography curriculum upside down. It fits in excellent with a Montessori homeschool approach and will surely get kids excited about active learning about our world. For decades we have used various updated versions of this classic map:




While familiar, it is an inaccurate depiction of the actual size, shape, and layout of Earth. It’s quite difficult to accurately depict something round on a flat, rectangular surface. The above map does an ok job but vastly distorts the size of the oceans (especially the Pacific), makes Africa way too small, and Greenland drastically too large. Antarctica is barely represented on the maps we’re all used to, when in reality it’s one of the largest continents.  


Narukawa’s creation is, perhaps, the most accurate map you could include in your homeschool studies. Called the AuthaGraph, this map divides the world into 96 sections, is then projected onto an inflated tetrahedron which unfolded become a rectangle. It was a multi-step process that resulted in what may the most accurate world map ever created. It won the Grand Award from Japan’s Good Design Awards and is now featured in student’s textbooks across Japan.  



As you can see, “AuthaGraph faithfully represents all oceans [and] continents, including neglected Antarctica,” according to the Good Design Awards, and shows “an advanced precise perspective of our planet.” This one-of-a-kind map can even be manipulated to feature any point of the world at the center and still be accurate.  


Still a work in progress, Narukawa states some areas are still distorted. However, this map is great for homeschoolers to provide a more accurate view of our world. It would also be an interesting launching point for your children to compare the standard map to what is more accurate. One of the creator’s goals was to accurately depict the areas near to poles so as to raise awareness of rapidly melting ice caps.


What do you think of this unique and revolutionary map? Is it a teaching tool you’d use in your homeschool classroom?  Comment below if you think so!


Amanda Osenga

Amanda is a former Montessori teacher, now homeschooling her dear son - an only child. When not homeschooling, Amanda blogs, loves reading, and creates hand-lettering pieces.

See Inside Our Montessori-Based Kits

Math Kit I - PreK to 3rd Grade

Language Arts A - PreK to 1st Grade

Phenology Wheel for Homeschool Nature Study

Phenology Wheel for Homeschool Nature Study

“There must be provision for the child to have contact with nature, to understand and appreciate the order, the harmony and the beauty in nature… so that the child may better understand and participate in the marvelous things which civilization creates.”


Maria Montessori

How to Start Using a Phenology Wheel and Why You’d Want To!


A huge trend among homeschooling families is nature study. In an era where we are indoors more than ever before in human history, getting our kids (and ourselves) outside more often is a huge benefit. In addition to the popular nature journal, a phenology wheel can be an excellent addition to nature study for homeschoolers and parents alike.

Phenolo What?!?!


Phenology sounds like something you might see on a nameplate at a doctor's office. In reality, phenology is the study and observation of natural events and cycles. Phenology is a fantastic way to get more in touch with the tune of nature.


What is a Phenology Wheel?


A phenology wheel is simply a way to document your observations in one spot. It allows you to make note of your observations and keep an easy-to-use record of what you’ve seen. Phenology wheels help us to stop and reflect on something we might not otherwise notice. When we work on phenology wheel, we notice the changes in plants, trees, wildlife, weather, and ourselves in a way we never have before. The wheel enables our children to notice small details and to grasp the calendar in a new way.

Generally, people draw their observations and use the wheel as a visual guide and enhancement to their nature journal. However, if you’re not artistic (or have a student who does not like to draw) the wheel can be written on instead. The wheel itself is simply a circle broken up into equal sections. Traditionally, the wheel is made to reflect one year, so it is broken up into twelve sections. We will use this model as our example.


How Do I Get Started?


Making a phenology wheel is easy. It just requires a compass, protractor, pencil, ruler, and art supplies (alternatively, a large enough circular object to trace would work). You can make your own or use the template we’ve provided below get it here.  

  • Begin by making a large circle on the center of your paper
  • Next, make a small circle within in- about a ¼-½ inch smaller than your first circle
  • Next, make a small circle in the very middle of your larger circle- a couple of inches across is good
  • Divide your two inner circles into even sections of 12 (this is a great math opportunity!)
  • Don’t divide up that outer ring you created
  • Time to label
  • Around the outside ring, label your seasons (people often color coordinate this as well)
  • The first “layer” gets the months of the year written at the top of each section
  • Leave the inner ring blank for now


How to Use Your Phenology Wheel


Now that you have set up your wheel, how on earth do you put it to work? To a certain extent, this is totally up to you. The natural world, your current science study, and the interest of your homeschooler can be your guide. Pick two different things to study throughout the year, we provide some ideas below. Also, pick a day of the month to make your observations (it’s ok if you get off a day or two in either direction.)


You’ll head out on your designated day each month and make your notes and artwork to have a beautiful visual record at the end of the year. The outer wheel and inner wheel can be used to observe two different things, two different aspects of the same thing, or one for drawing and one for written notes. As the year progresses, you’ll begin observing more astutely and keenly what changes are happening right under your eyes that you might not have otherwise noticed.


If desired, spend time studying what you’re observing from books and documentaries as well. Perhaps you could visit a local expert or arrange a class at a nature center. You can even adapt the science portion of your homeschool curriculum to include information on what you’re documenting.

Here are a few ideas for observation:


  • Use the outer circle to observe an animal, and the inner a place in your yard

  • Observe your household pet’s fur and habit changes throughout the year

  • Make note of the changes sees in a tree and an area with wildflowers

  • Go to the beach at the low time and make note of the animals seen on the outer circle, and tide times on the inner

  • Use the wheel to document the height/weight of your student(s), and something they learned, a first, or something they loved each month

  • Observe the sky and stars

  • Make note of the fur on your favorite zoo animal and any other changes taken in their living environment


This method can also be used on a smaller scale. Perhaps set up a wheel for a month or two observation of the growth of your favorite garden vegetable! Or if you live somewhere with snow, observe the different types of snowflakes and the weather when they fall. This is also a popular way to observe the moon cycles each night over the course of a month.

As you can see, there are countless ways to incorporate this tool into your homeschool curriculum. The entire family can observe the same thing, or everyone can choose to study something different. Depending on the approach you take, you could be including, art, science, research, reading, and math with this beautiful project.


Do you like this?

Check out more outdoor-inspired activities:



See Inside Our Montessori-Based Kits

Math Kit I - PreK to 3rd Grade

Language Arts A - PreK to 1st Grade

Amanda Osenga

Amanda is a former Montessori teacher, now homeschooling her dear son - an only child. Amanda and her family reside in an Airstream parked in Washington State. She loves Washington's outdoor opportunities. When not homeschooling, she also blogs, works as a virtual assistant, and loves creating hand-lettering pieces.


Homeschool Black Friday Deals

The Best Homeschool Black Friday Deals!

Black Friday shopping is upon us. This can be a fantastic time to save big money on homeschool curriculum and materials. We’ve rounded up a few deals for you.  

Black Friday Shopping tips:


Shopping smart and making a plan can save you even more on Black Friday! Here are a few tips:



  • Set a budget and a wish list. My Mama always says “just because it’s on sale, does not mean you NEED it.” If you have been scoping something out all year waiting for it to go on sale, grab it. If it’s something you just saw for the first time and you’ve already blown all your Black Friday spending money, wait until next year to decide if you want it then.


  • Use your resources wisely. Check out sites like Ibotta, Ebates, Honey, and Swagbucks to get more bang for your buck with shopping.



  • Find out about return policies. Sometimes companies alter their return policy on Black Friday-Cyber Monday.

Black Friday Deals for Montessori Homeschoolers


Make sure to check out ShillerLearning Black Friday sales:


Shop at explore.shillermath.com to save 20% on ShillerLearning kits, books, and audio cd’s and receive FREE shipping with promo code CYBER18 on orders over $60, plus receive a rebate of up to $50 on your kit purchase ($20 of any 2 kits, $30 off of 3, $40 of 4, or $50 off of all 5 ShillerLearning kits). Offer valid 11/22/18 to 11/28/18.



  • Little Passports- $10 off a Monthly Subscription, $20 off a 6 Month Subscription, $40 off a 12 Month SubscriptionUse code: BESTDEAL at checkout


  • Color Thru History- “Through Black Friday, you can lock in the special price of just $11/month for the life of your subscription!”



  • Softstar Shoes- At the time of this blog publication, they had not yet released their deal but they usually have a large sale. Softstar shoes are popular shoes among the Montessori community.


Need some great gifts? Check out our NEW Partner Products. Brand new this holiday shopping season.


  • Melissa and Doug toys are popular among Montessori families. They always have FANTASTIC Black Friday-Cyber Monday deals.



  • Kloo- 25% off their foreign language learning games. Sign up for the newsletter to get the coupon code and save on top of their already marked down prices!


  • Tegu Blocks are also popular among the Montessori world and usually have good sales over the holiday weekend.


  • Check out Educents for curriculum materials. Lots go on sale around Black Friday-Cyber Monday!


Don’t forget to check out the office supply & craft stores for deals on art, craft, and office supplies! You’d be surprised what gets marked down.


What Black Friday deals have you found? What tips do you have to save money on homeschool materials?  


Like this? Check out these tips for saving money on homeschooling:

Montessori Works Made From Craft Supplies

Free Montessori Activities and Printables

Do you know these 5 important ways to save money homeschooling?

See Inside Our Montessori-Based Kits

Math Kit I - PreK to 3rd Grade

Language Arts A - PreK to 1st Grade

Amanda Osenga

Amanda is a former Montessori teacher who is now homeschooling her only child, a seven-year-old boy. Her family resides in an Airstream that is parked in Washington. She loves Washington's outdoor opportunities. When she’s not schooling, she also blogs at TreehouseDaily.com, works as a Virtual Assistant and loves reading and creating hand-lettering pieces.

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