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!!)

19 April 2016

Day 75 / 105 - Mythical Maps and Fantastical Creatures

My children are taking an online writing course from Jennifer Trafton.  (You may remember me mentioning that my son was taking one a few months ago.)  For this recent course, my children have been focusing on fantasy stories and fairy-tales.  They've been building worlds, drawing maps, and creating fantastical creatures.  It's so much fun!

After creating a world via map, my children had to write a Tourist's Guide to their fantasy land.  Their directions were quite entertaining as they instructed visitors on the best place to stop for selfies and how to avoid the Swamp Coyote.  Their next assignment was to begin filling their world with fantasy creatures.  This included a bio for each creature including: size, behavior, diet, and special abilities.

Above you can see my son's world of Yselk Island which is home to the Yodeling Yeti (watch out!).  Below is my daughter's Piggy Island (this is based on an actual bay).  In the Mysterious Forest, keep your eye out for the Shimmering Silva on the trees.


18 April 2016

Day 74 / 105 - Memory Master 4-Peat

Last week, my daughter earned the title of Memory Master for the fourth and final time.

If you follow this blog, you know that our journey toward Memory Master is something that appears quite regularly.  My daughter has worked incredibly hard this year at once again achieving this rank.

"Memory Master" is an honor bestowed on Classical Conversations Foundations students who have mastered all of the memory work during the twenty-four weeks of Foundations class. We define "mastery" of the information as having committed the information to long-term memory, which means we do not cram for a single test and then forget it. Over the course of the year, we spend much time learning the material and committing it to long-term memory.

The amount of information a student recites is lengthy. This year is Cycle 1, so my daughter has mastered, and can recite, the following: 

- 161 events and people in a chronological timeline
- 44 U.S. Presidents
- 24 history facts to add depth to our timeline (several of these facts are 3 - 4 sentences long!)
- 120 locations and geographic features in Africa, Europe, and the Old World
- 24 science facts (including classifications of living things, facts about vertebrates and invertebrates, and each continent's highest mountain)
- 5 Latin noun endings and their singular and plural declensions
- English grammar facts (including 53 prepositions, 23 helping verbs, and 12 linking verbs)
- Multiplication tables up to 15x15, common squares and cubes, as well as basic geometry formulas and unit conversions

It's over 400 pieces of information!

During the process, she had to recite this information not only to me, but also to several other adults.  Becoming a "Memory Master" is no easy task.  Words cannot express how proud we are of her for how hard she has worked and for all that she has achieved.  

13 April 2016

Day 73 / 105 - 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Canoe/Kayak Slalom

Last Friday afternoon, we lined the banks of the U.S. National Whitewater Center and watched Olympic hopefuls take to the water in hopes to solidify a position on the 2016 U.S. Olympic team.

Slalom kayaking is the only whitewater event to appear in the Olympic games.  Racers attempt to make their way from the top to the bottom of a designated section of river as fast as possible, while correctly negotiating gates.  Some of the gates have to be negotiated in a downstream position, while others have to be approached from upstream.  The placement of the gates and the precision necessary to paddle them fast and 'clean' (without touching a pole) makes the sport incredibly difficult, yet fascinating to watch.

12 April 2016

Day 72 / 105 - Queen Boudicca

My daughter ended her Essentials year (as she has done many times in the past) with a research report on a prominent figure from ancient times.  She settled on the powerful warrior queen Boudicca.

Boudicca was the Celtic queen of the Iceni tribe.  After her husband died, her family was savagely tortured by the Romans.  Queen Boudicca led a two-year British revolt that resulted in the deaths of over 70,000 Romans.  Eventually, she was defeated.

Writing this essay gave us an excellent glimpse into British history!

11 April 2016

Day 71 / 105 - Aquarium of the Smokies

While visiting Gatlinburg, we stopped in at Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies.  Did you know that there are more fish living in this aquarium than there are people living in Gatlinburg?  We spent the afternoon viewing sharks, sea turtles, sting rays, and endangered African blackfooted penguins.