04 May 2016

Day 81 / 105 - April Learning With My Kids

My daughter is outfitting my blog with all kinds of new pictures.  ;)  

Welcome to Daily Learning With My Kids.  Monthly, I'm highlighting when my children (or myself) have learned something new or noteworthy.  Oftentimes, my children will have these discoveries independently and without curriculum.  That's the best kind of learning.  I plan to remember these a-ha moments to keep the joy in the journey.

New wisdom we added this month:

C.S. Lewis spent many of his childhood days mapping an imaginary world called Animal-Land.  He states: In mapping and chronicling Animal-Land, I was training myself to be a novelist.  We became aware of some of Lewis' early maps while creating our own fantasy lands.  

I referenced a story out of this book in February.  It was new to me.  While spring-cleaning our bookshelves, imagine my surprise when I learned we owned all of Kipling's Just So Stories.  In April, we read through nearly every story in one sitting.  They're delightful.  We added a few new words to our vocabularies also!

We're still embracing all things Shakespeare.  I'm looking forward to posting about the next play we're tackling.

I need to share that I spent a good part of April learning about Prince Rogers Nelson, along with many, many others.  We had always been fans, (doesn't every child from the '80s have at least one memory with his songs?), but as we aged, we begun to truly appreciate his talent.  I believe he really was a modern day Mozart with a motorcycle.

I learned that Prince recorded his first album when he was 19, and that he wrote, produced, arranged, composed, and played all 27 instruments on the album.  He was 19!  The vault in his home where he stored his work, was nearly full of unreleased music way back in 1987, yet he was still regularly adding music to it.  I also learned that when he changed his name to the unpronounceable symbol in the '90s, it was because of a legal battle he was having with Warner Bros.  Warner Bros. would not release Prince's music as often as Prince desired.  As a result of the name change, Warner Bros. had to organize a new computer font that included the symbol.  This cost the company a fortune.  Brilliant move on Prince's part.

My husband and I always loved this video back when it had one million views.  Now that it's truly gone viral, I would invite you to watch it if you haven't already.  During the 2004 Rock Hall Induction Ceremony, Prince joins Tom Petty and crew on stage for a tribute to George Harrison.  No one is even aware of his presence until 3 minutes and 25 seconds into the performance.  Harrison's son gives Prince the nod to take center stage, and Prince does make the guitar gently weep.  It's simply unbelievable.  Prince was a world-class performance artist, but he was also a world-class musician.  I've enjoyed watching this video many times over the past two weeks as well as playing it often for my children. 


02 May 2016

Day 80 / 105 - Brick Shakespeare: The Comedies

Since we dove headfirst into a little Shakespeare learning this spring, it was only natural that we added this gem to our book collection.  Brick Shakespeare: The Comedies presents four of the Bard's most clever and comic works in Lego form, each of which has been carefully abridged.  Included are narratives to help tell the story of the plays.  The book has been a pleasure.  It is not a Lego book, but a Shakespeare book creatively illustrated with Legos.

A Brick Shakespeare: The Tragedies also exists.

01 May 2016

Day 79 / 105 - April Happens At The Table

April has been somewhat chaotic for us.  Since March, my husband has been traveling regularly throughout the week.  When he travels for work, I always feel like time moves really quickly, yet everyday feels like an eternity.  (We used to say that about time when our children were infants!) His travel schedule eases up in the next three weeks, and I'm looking forward to a little more structure, especially in the evening.

Until then, my children and I have  been in survival mode while living and learning around our table. 

Since our Classical Conversations year has ended, one afternoon I became highly motivated and completed a little cleaning and reorganizing.  The outcome has been a breath of fresh air in our somewhat cluttered dining room.

For memory's sake, I tossed the dance and track bags onto the table one evening and snapped a picture.  I feel that my evenings have been quite full as I've shuttled my children to and from their activities this spring.

29 April 2016

Day 78 / 105 - Spring Track

Our son is in the yellow uniform.  His team always joked that they looked like giant bananas on the track!

Once again, we are grateful for the opportunities in Charlotte.

Yesterday, our son finished his spring track season.  Since February, he's practiced five times a week with a peer group of mostly high schoolers and a phenomenal coach.  He competed in three events at half a dozen meets: 800 meters, 1600 meters, and occasionally the 3200 meters.  Most of his training was in preparation for cross country next fall, as that is his sport of choice.

He had a few goals throughout the season.  The first was to bring his 1600 meter time under six minutes, and the second was to clock in somewhere in the 2:30's for the 800 meters.  He logged an impressive 5:35 for his best 1600.  His best time for the 800 was 2:31. (Bragging rights: His 800 time has him at 22nd in the state for 8th graders.  Had he been able to shave another 3 seconds off his time, he would have listed in the top 10!)

Since he is still fairly new to the sport of running, we are looking forward to seeing how he improves as he keeps training and developing.  He will continue running with a club team over the summer.

A highlight for me (besides seeing him win several events) was watching him mature throughout the season.  Since his team was mostly older students, he began to act and behave like a much older person himself.  He took full ownership of the entire sport.  He often arranged rides for himself if we had a conflict.  I never had to convince him to go to practice or remind him of what he needed to take.  Also, he understood he needed to eat properly and sleep properly if he wanted to perform well.  It gave me a glimpse into his adult disciplined life!

21 April 2016

Day 77 / 105 - A Midsummer Night's Dream

Over the past week, I accomplished something new and rather extraordinary.  I taught my children (and myself!) Shakespeare.  It wasn't as difficult as I imagined.  And, we all rather enjoyed it.

I started with this book.  This book is simply wonderful.  (I am certain I will be posting about it again and again.)  Reading about Shakespeare from someone who adores Shakespeare helped me to appreciate the beauty in his writing.  Mr. Ludwig shares his easy-to-master methods that he used with his own children.  The first nine chapters reference A Midsummer Night's Dream.  Prior to this book, my only knowledge of  this comedy was that it was the play performed at the end of Dead Poet's Society.  I knew nothing else about any of the characters or the various story lines.  Nothing.  

After having a decent grasp on the four different story lines in the play from Mr. Ludwig's book, I ventured into Edith Nesbit's tale with my children.  This was a quick, easy read aloud written in fairy tale form.  We all enjoyed it, and I felt like I could fill in some gaps. I understood exactly who was in the play and what each character was doing.

Following that, I did the unthinkable.  Without it being assigned, I read an entire Shakespeare script.  Almost in one sitting.  Not only did I read it, but I devoured it.  I truly loved reading Shakespeare.  I could envision all the comedic misunderstandings that would take place on stage.  I found myself laughing out loud at the various ways Shakespeare described certain characters and how they interacted with each other.  A Midsummer Night's Dream was a beautiful play for me to start our Shakespeare journey.

Now that I enjoyed, appreciated, and understood the play even more, my children and I read the fairy tale version again.  I filled in more gaps and shared with my children more of the play's original script.  Using IEW's concept of Retelling Narrative Stories (which we're quite familiar with), I then had my children retell one part of the play (where Oberon enchants Titania with juice from a magical flower).  Rewriting a few paragraphs with this story line helped my children become even more comfortable with the original work.

Side note:  I subbed for an IEW class at a neighboring homeschool co-op this week and wound up using this story line two more times!

And finally, my children and I memorized one passage from the play.  Mr. Ludwig recommends four different passages to memorize from A Midsummer Night's Dream.  That was a lofty goal for us in one week, but it might be a doable one in the future.  We memorized Oberon's speech as he prepares to enchant Titania since it went along with our writing.   Shakespeare's words are now part of my children's vocabulary.  

Bottom line: We now know and love a work of Shakespeare.  We're anticipating tackling Twelfth Night next.  I will keep you posted ....

Sarah Mackenzie has been faithfully posting tips and tricks to help homeschoolers fall in love with Shakespeare including an upcoming podcast with Mr. Ludwig.  Be sure to check out her information here.

20 April 2016

Day 76 / 105 - Multiplication Circle Patterns

Last week, after seeing a friend post a math activity, I was intrigued.  The activity was to skip count multiples around a circle (like a dot-to-dot) and watch what shape the numbers created.  While tracing around the circle, repeat the number that was present in the 'ones' column.

Well, we might have had too much fun with this.  I only took a picture of three of our sheets.  We have dozens.  Dozens.  For us, the fun came from watching the patterns emerge.  It was like real-life math Spirograph.  And then, watching what numbers created the same patterns as other numbers.  And then, there was a pattern that emerged between the numbers that would create the same pattern. There is so much order with math.

 Once we skip counted all times tables up to fifteen, we decided to try the squares.  Then the cubes.  Then prime numbers.  Etc.  Even the prime numbers formed a pattern and weren't completely random.   My 14-year-old son then spent the rest of the afternoon attempting to figure out and explain why some patterns matched.  Critical thinking at its best.

Give this a try if you need a new creative way to drill times tables.  You can find circle printouts on page 4 and 5 of this link.  (The link includes an entire lesson plan on the subject.  However, I would recommend parents try the activity BEFORE reading the lesson plans.  Have fun observing and identifying the patterns before reading the answers!!)