We’re in “eat what we’ve got” mode around here in an effort to use up the things we have stored in the freezer and the pantry! Consequently, this Menu Plan Monday may consist of some odd combinations! I expect us to stay in this mode for another week or so, so it’s likely to get even more bizarre. Oh well, I’ll be glad to be able to open the freezer without having things tumble out at me. Opening the freezer shouldn’t be hazardous. Plus, I hate when I discover things in the pantry that have expired before we’ve gotten to them. This is our effort to keep that from happening!
With no further adieu, here’s the menu plan for feeding people this week:
Lunch: PB&J (for DS), Hummus and Carrot Chips (for DD), Quinoa and Brown rice with Garlic (for Me! These have been my favorite grab and go lunch discovery this year! Heat them in the pouch. Then, I like to dump them in a container to which I’ve already added some feta and black olives. Delicious! If there are leftovers, I just pop the lid on and bring it home for lunch here the next day.I get mine at Costco for a better price than at Amazon, but thought you might want to see a picture. I also found them once at Aldi!)
I've posted my lab sheet for this lab on CC Connected (user name lb_oliver). My thoughts here will dovetail with that approach. You can also see my suggestions for ways to expand on this topic in my post here.
First, if you’ve got a better handle on these labs than me, stop reading now and move on.
I’m not claiming to be an expert on the subject.
But, if you don’t, or you’re just looking for someone else’s perspective, here are my 2¢.
Let’s begin with the end in mind. What’s the point of this particular lab? In my opinion, for our Classical Conversations Foundations students, it’s twofold:
Grammar: To teach some basic statistics grammar (Probability, Outcome) and to see those terms applied.
Dialectic: To begin teaching children to think about the “probability” that something (anything) could occur.
So, if you’re teaching a group of YOUNGER STUDENTS, you’ll want to focus on the grammar and getting children to use it and understand it. Set your objectives (and your bar for feeling successful) accordingly. Focus on the terms. Use them clearly during your lesson. Move through the “warm-up” slowly. Help them to really think about what you’re asking. You can use the term “probability” and “chances” (or other synonyms – likelihood, expectation, etc.) interchangeably, while you’re talking. Just be keep coming back to the term “probability” so they begin to understand what that term means. In addition, for some young students, this will be the first time that they hear the term “tally marks” and see them used. For them, that’s good stuff! Take the time to explain them and show them quickly how they work. I also suggest for younger children that they do this lab in pairs of two with a parent assigned to each pair to help with counting and making tally marks.
If you’re teaching a group of OLDER STUDENTS, you can probably move through the warm up more quickly as they catch on to what you’re asking and how it relates to the chips in your hand. You might need to quickly review tally marks before allowing them to start performing and recording their results. These students can work individually or in teams. Once they’ve completed the lab, you can add up the results of the class to see how they might have differed from individual results. Explain to them that while their individual results might have varied, that 20 is really not very many draws. Over time, with even more draws, the results of the experiment would be 1/2. Then, use the lab to begin to expand their ability to use logic. What would they need to start with in order to GUARANTEE they could get the results they wanted to? They’d have to start with chips that were all the same color. Even if there was only one chip of a different color in the mix, at some point, with enough draws, you’d pull that color out. So, the only way to be sure you can get the results you want, if you only want to draw a white chip, for example, is to start with all white chips. This seems totally logical to many of us as adults, but we take for granted that children have the same ability to be logical that we do. Their minds are all at different points in beginning to make those leaps, so this is a great exercise for them, and you will likely discover that you have some children who understand it immediately and others who are slower to grasp it (or are silent as they work through it in their heads).
For ADULTS/PARENTS– Why do we care? Why are we doing these labs? What is the point of this with children this age?
The science of origins is the effort of scientists to explain how the universe began. The science grammar that we’ll learn in these 6 weeks is the basic definition of different ways used to explain how life began and developed. As always, YOU are the teacher. You decide how (or if) you want to elaborate on this at home. Tutors will drill the sentences/definitions. You decide what you want to teach your child. The science labs involve an introduction to basic statistics (probability, odds, combinations, etc.). Probability relates to the science of Origins because data is collected and analyzed and different and opposing conclusions are often drawn from the same data! Learning how to collect, record and analyze data is a skill that all scientists use. Gathering data, analyzing data and drawing conclusions are very much a part of many explanations of the origins of the universe. Eventually, our children will need to be able to draw their own conclusions from data that is presented to them. These labs are a great introduction to early critical thinking skills.
What’s the weather like in your neck of the woods these days? We have been iced and snowed in for nearly a week here are our house. This kind of weather is very unusual around here, so we’ve enjoyed the chance to slow down a little. The kids have spent so much time out sledding and playing that they are falling into bed at night and sleeping in late in the mornings. As homeschoolers, we could press on with a normal school schedule if we chose, but all of the children that live near us have schedules dictated by one school system or another and they’ve all been off and itching to play. I’ve also been “snowed under” with the tax returns I do at this time of year, so it’s been a good time to let the kids have a break and enjoy the type of play that just isn’t possible around here on a regular basis!
As a result, I’ve had piles of boots and coats and hats and gloves at my back door on and off all week (when my children haven’t been off piling up their boots and coats at a neighbor’s door) and I have served up lots of homemade hot chocolate. My sweet husband finally had to explain to some of the children yesterday that we were going to have to cut everyone off before we ran out of milk. The children who don’t live here were fascinated to learn that we buy our milk directly from a farm and won’t be picking any more up until Saturday. So, when we’re out, we’re out! This was very disappointing, because apparently, I make the “World’s Best Hot Chocolate!” Who knew?
So, just in case you need an excellent (and easy!) recipe for Hot Chocolate, here you go!
Mix these together. I like to run them through the blender or the food processor so they are more finely ground and dissolve more easily, but it’s not a must. Store in an airtight container.
When you’re ready to make some hot chocolate, measure out 2 Tablespoons of the mix into a cup. Add 1 Tablespoon of boiling water to the cup and mix. Then add:
1 Cup Milk
1/4 tsp vanilla
And, of course, if you really want to treat yourself, be sure and add marshmallows!!
By the way, I’ve run the nutritional information on this, and it’s about 220 calories if made with fresh, raw milk. If you want to make it with less sugar, you can. I’ve made it with 1 teaspoon of powdered stevia in place of one of the cups of sugar. It’s still delicious! Since the sugar is bulky, you’d only need about 1 1/2 Tablespoons of the mix to make a cup.
I say this every year, but . . . . I really ENJOY the Orchestra 6-weeks of CC! If you need some ideas for things to do in class or to expand on things outside of class, I’ve got some suggestions! I’m always on the look out for new ideas myself, so please feel free to share yours in the comments below!
Activities for Class
If you’re a tutor out there who is stressing about this particular portion of the year, I’ll give you my layman’s two cents (and empathize with you . . . Tin Whistle is the hardest for me!): Don’t get bogged down in whether or not you love the music, or whether or not the children do. You’re task is largely the same with the Orchestra as it is with any other subject – teach (and drill) the grammar.
Introduce the time period, explain what a symphony is, what an orchestra is, what the instrument families are (more on all of this below). Then spend some time listening for those things you’ve discussed in the musical pieces (what kind of emotion do you hear? what instrument families? etc.).
Melody from andherewegomama.com has a great song (with video) and file folder game for reinforcing the different musical periods. I also like to put something up on the wall in the classroom and make sure we tie the musical periods back to their place in our timeline (it’s a good time to pull those particular timeline cards out again), and a picture of each composer as we discuss him (my picture above is from Cycle 2). We’ll review those things each week and then build on that knowledge. If it’s at all helpful to you, you’re welcome to download and print off my “Period Headers” and pictures of composers here.
When I first started tutoring, I purchased a bulletin board set with nice pictures of the instruments. While I recognize that this might not be entirely in keeping with the “stick-in-the-sand” method of CC (which I do truly respect and generally try to adhere to), having these visuals has worked well for me. The particular set that I have is large, and the sheets can be left as 4 large posters, or they’re made to do some accordion folding. I choose just to slap them up on the wall in our classroom (or at home) each week. They get the kids’ attention and make the Orchestra study different from the other studies. I think I paid $12 or $13 for this set in a Parent/Teacher store somewhere and this is the fourth year I’ll use it. It’s definitely been worth it to me to have it around!
In teaching Orchestra I will spend time each week talking about the instrument families (If you’re looking for more information on instrument families, this website has a great overview to give you information to share with you kids!). We will cover one family each week. Our community learns the Orchestra song in our assembly time in the morning and we add an instrument each week, so I sync our class time up with our assembly time – Week 19: Violin (Introduce all 4 families and focus on the Strings), Week 20: Clarinet (Woodwinds), Week 21: Trumpet (Brass), Week 22: The Horn (Review Brass), Week 23: Drum (Percussion). We’ll use the posters above to assist us as we discuss the instrument families, and we’ll also use these worksheets I’ve created to reinforce some of the facts about the instrument families:
I like to play Bingo with the Instrument Families for at least the first week (Week 19) of Orchestra. It’s popular, so we usually play it again during the review weeks (Weeks 23 and 24) if there is time available. It’s a great way for kids to get familiar with the instruments and their families. I downloaded a black and white version off CC Connected a couple of years ago, but I prefer the version that I’m using this year. It’s color, and the images are labeled with the names of the instruments, so it reinforces the names and cuts down on confusion. I downloaded it here.
Once we’ve reviewed the orchestra, our vocabulary, and the instrument families, we’ll talk about that week’s composer and add his picture to the wall. Classical Music for Dummies has some great information about the composer and the timer period in which he composed. I often tell people that I underutilized this book the first year or two that I tutored. It’s not just informative about the composer and the piece of music . . . it also has lots of GREAT information in the back section on the instrument families and it’s presented in a really approachable and interesting way. I also like to use the books I’ve included in the “Books” section below to add more information and visuals to our few minutes discussing the composer.
When it comes to time to listen to the music, I REALLY appreciate the CC moms who put the listening flow charts together and post them on CC Connected each year. This is when I’m thankful to have my “Classical Music for Dummies” CD ripped and loaded on my iPhone, so I can play the songs and watch the time to see where we are in the piece. It helps me to engage the children in class if I can say, “Okay, listen for the . . . (ex:”Oboe to start playing”, “the strings to all come in”, “the horn to start crying”, etc.)” And, it’s helpful to have moms in class with the younger ones to point to where we are on the flowchart (I usually print enough copies for there to be one for every two children to share). Some pieces of music lend themselves really well to this. Others lend themselves better to just listening quietly and drawing/coloring a picture of what the music makes you think of or feel like. There’s usually a sheet for this out on CC Connected, as well, usually with a little bio of the composer, but of course a blank piece of paper works fine, too. In years past, I’ve also taken paint sticks or large popsicle sticks and cut crepe paper streamers to tape/glue to them and we’ve whirled and twirled to music that had that feel to it.
If time permits, and things are going well, we might listen to a piece (or a portion of a piece) more than once. When a piece has very distinct sections played by certain instrument families, it can be fun to hand out popsicle stick “puppets” of the instruments and ask the children to raise the family that they hear (this can range from easy to very tough . . . and can be quite funny when the pieces get complex!).
Well, if you’ve been spending ANY time on this blog at ALL, you already know that I love the books from the “Getting to Know” series by Mike Venezia. Seriously, I should be paid for my endorsement at this point. But alas, I am not. I just really, really like these books and think they work BEAUTIFULLY for Foundations age kids. Particularly the preschool/elementary ones, but these books are meaty enough to work on up into middle and high school; they’re just easy to read. I actually like to take them to class with me when I tutor. The facts are interesting and some of the pictures are helpful to the more visual kids. They’re a great supplement to the information in Classical Music for Dummies.
Sadly, there is no book on Debussy in the “Getting to Know” series (Get on that, Mike!), and I haven’t had any luck finding another book that would appeal to children.
This is a great book (with CD included) for learning about the Orchestra. It also touches on the different musical periods, so it dovetails nicely with how we cover the Orchestra in CC.
CD’s/MP3 downloads and Videos
I really like this entire series of CDs (you can also download the MP3 files). They’re inexpensive, and they mix the biography in with the music of the composer in a way that makes it really easy to listen to. You can treat it like an audio book and pay rapt attention to the narrator with the biography, or it’s fairly easy to just focus on the music and tune out the spoken word, if you prefer. These can be nice to have playing in the background while your children are playing or working on school work at home. You can pick up an awful lot of information (and hear a lot of classical music!) that way.For this cycle, Tchaikovsky is the only composer this series covers.
Of course, the classic way to teach children about the different instruments in the orchestra is via some version of Peter and the Wolf, composed by Prokofiev. My favorite version of this is the one narrated by Sting.
Three years ago, I discovered TheComposer is Dead by Lemony Snicket, which I actually like more than Peter and the Wolf for actually explaining the instruments in the orchestra to children. It’s got a lot of dry humor (much of which goes over children’s heads, but adults will find amusing), and does a great job of introducing the orchestra. I’m a VERY visual person, and I’ve got to tell you that the book that accompanies the CD did nothing for me. I think the CD or MP3 files stand on their own just fine, but I’ve had pretty much no luck locating them for purchase by themselves. I’ll include a link to the book here at Amazon so you can see the reviews or look at it for yourself, but I was also able to find a series of youtube videos that someone created using the book and the audio. You can access my playlist of them here.
Games and Apps
The New York Philharmonic website has an entire area for kids that is AWESOME! Definitely check it out and explore. Here are two games from this site that you definitely won’t want to miss:
A classic “memory” game with musical instrument images. Nice thing about this one is that the images are labeled and when you flip the cards they play, so you experience the sound of each instrument. Brilliant! http://www.nyphilkids.org/games/main.phtml?
We are entering Weeks 19-24 of Classical Conversations Cycle 3. This is the second time I’ve been through this cycle, and I have a better appreciation for the Statistics Labs. For the youngest, the abecedarians, this will probably be their first exposure to tally marks and making charts. I realized, having experienced with my own daughter, how much easier this made some of our math lessons a year after we were actually done with this cycle. Many of the concepts taught in these labs are challenging to our Foundations-age students (and their mothers!), but if we’ll slow down, try not to get intimidated, and take the time to try and understand them, these labs are great exposure to the grammar of basic statistics.
This time around, I’m more determined than I was last time to make them meaningful for my students at CC and for my kiddos at home. I thought I’d share with you some of the resources that I’ve found for expanding on the labs that we’ll be doing during our CC Community days.
For those of you on CC Connected who might find them helpful, I’ll be uploading the lab sheets that I’ve created for these weeks in the next few days.
I’ve found some awesome books for making statistics concepts approachable for even the youngest of our students! My favorite is “probably” It’s Probably Penny. The first few pages do an EXCELLENT job of teaching the concepts of the Week 23 lab in a way that works well for elementary age students.
These three books are also fun books for elaborating on the concepts of probability (although I will warn you that the last of these, A Very Improbable Story uses the terms probability and odds interchangeably, as do many of us, while mathematically that is incorrect. I had to work pretty hard to get these two term and their use straight in my head in preparation for these labs, so I did stumble on that in this otherwise entertaining and educational book):
This video covers Mean, Median, and Mode. Honestly, I found it a little annoying, but the aspects that annoyed me may very well be what help it stick in a child’s head.
If you prefer something musical (and who doesn’t?), there are multiple versions of this little diddy out there, but this is one of the more creative recordings. It teaches the concept of “Range,” which isn’t covered in our CC labs, but it’s still a very handy way of remembering the basic definitions of these terms. Here’s the poem:
Hey Diddle Diddle,
the Median’s the middle.
You add, then divide for the Mean.
The Mode is the one
that you see the most,
and the Range is the difference between.
If your kids would like a fun rap song to help them with understanding Mean, Median and Mode, this one absolutely fits that bill!
If your child is ready to expand on their knowledge of statistics (or you are), but still wants it to be fun, both of these books contain some great information about statistics, but present it in fun ways. I’ll bet a few of you out there have a child who will read anything as long as it involves a comic-book/graphic-novel approach (I do!). Start with the first one – The Cartoon Introduction to Statistics, and if that isn’t meaty enough, or your child is ready for even more, try The Cartoon Guide to Statistics (which is like a college course, but with cartoons).
The following video (see link below) is a little too complex for all but the oldest (or most mathematically-oriented) of our Foundations-level students, but it is basically a class on probability done in a very conversational and approachable way. The kids in the video are pretty adept at mental math, which might even inspire a few students to embrace math with more gusto.