Our Classical Conversation Cycle 1 year is well underway! We’ve had Fall Break and are now back at it. I keep telling folks that our past experience is that we can have a great routine going right up until Fall Break and then after that we’re all out of sorts until February. I’m working diligently to prove that past experience is NOT a prediction of future performance by getting back in the groove before November. Wish me luck.
A couple of years ago, I created a little skip counting “booklet” that I used in class. You are welcome to download it by clicking on the image to the right. The idea is that the child works their way from the “1” block, which has the most information to the “7” block, which they must complete from memory. After completing 1-4 on the back side of the sheet, fold the sheet to make a booklet.
This also means that the child has been able to see plenty of “hints” as they go, but by the time they flip the booklet over to complete the “7” block, they’re really just going entirely from memory. 7 is also the number of times that CC recommends you repeat information in order to store it in your child’s short-term memory, so this works out well in that regard, too!
We’ll also be adding the 14s to our stairs at home. This has worked very well for us in years past. If you’re already a compulsive stair-counter (surely I’m not the only one!), this is a great way to use that particular OCD quality to your advantage. My son, in particular, loves it when we do this with the 14s. He even tries to skip count backwards on his way down!
Hands down, the most effective thing for memorizing the prepositions in my house this year has been printing out a list of them and taping them to the wall. We watch the talented CC family that put this CC Prepositions video together and attempt (key word: “attempt”) to do the motions with them. Be assured, we look exactly nothing like these three in the video, except for there being a mom, older daughter, and younger son in our house, too. Really, just for kicks, our family should do a video and put it right beside this one. It would be like our own personal pinterest-type “Fail” . . . and you’d all get your belly laugh in for the week.
Once we’ve perfected botched the choreography sufficiently (two or three times), we move over to our list on the wall and do the song from memory while looking at the words. This has really helped my kiddos distinguish between a few that they naturally want to run together (“Of, Off” for example). Choreography at this point is, thankfully, optional. We can ALL successfully do the “without” move to wrap up the song, which makes us all feel cool enough.
Anyway, this has been super simple and both my kiddos can now whiz through their prepositions like nobody’s business.
You all have probably already seen both of these books, but we enjoyed them our last time through this cycle to expand our understanding of prepositions.
Very interesting (and quick!) video about Monocots vs. Dicots below. It briefly discusses plant evolution at the end of the video (starting at 2:24). It’s actually the only really boring part of the video, so don’t worry if you want to just stop it there, you won’t miss much.
We’ve really been enjoying the Kid’s Animated History with Pipo on Ancient History with Pipo on Hulu this year. There are videos that match many weeks of our history grammar and so far, I’ve found them to contain a ton of appropriate, useful information and it’s presented in a way that my kids have found entertaining. Each video is about 11 minutes long. There are two on India that compliment CC Cycle 1 Week 8 very nicely.
Kid’s Animated History with Pipo
Tin Whistle (Music Theory)
Here is an adorable video that is an ode to the treble clef:
The group that did the video above has put out a whole series of videos that are wonderful tie-ins with our Tin Whistle study. If you want to see more of them, they’re pinned on my Pinterest Board for Tin Whistle.
There are also a couple of apps that are handy to reinforce the names of the notes:
Another one is called Piano Monkey. We’ve had it for a year or so because our piano teacher recommended it. It’s a pretty basic app, but it is great for teaching note recognition on the staff and on the piano.
I always love hearing what other CC families are up to! Feel free to leave a comment below. I read every one of them!
A little background: This is our family’s sixth year to participate in a Classical Conversations (CC) community. We participate in the Foundations portion of the program, which is designed for children ages 4 to about 11 and the Essentials portion of the program, which is designed for children in grades 4-6. Both programs lasts for 24 weeks each year. In Foundations each week the children cover 7 different grammar subjects (Timeline, History, Math, Science, English, Latin, and Geography), do a short (2-3 minutes) presentation, participate in one or more Science experiments and cover some area of Fine Arts. It’s a VERY busy (and fun!) morning! In the afternoons, the Essentials program spends about 45 minutes on English grammar, 30 minutes on mental math, and 45 minutes on writing. It’s a VERY busy (and fun!) afternoon!
This may be the shortest post in the history of blogging, but since I know we’re all in the middle of wrapping up our last few weeks of CC . . . and I couldn’t find anything out on CC Connected that addressed this . . . I put together a little summary sheet of the science principles (Physics) behind an Egg Protector and the Egg Drop experiment. I’ll put together a nicer and more polished post later when I have more time, but for now, I just wanted to make this available quickly to anyone who might find it helpful. You can download the document that I put together by clicking here or on the image to the right. I’ve tried to tie in as much of our science grammar as possible.
There are also several books that work well with this subject:
Cross a Bridge has simple, colorful illustrations of different types of bridges and contains a little history and fun facts about famous existing bridges, too. It is excellent for preschool and very early elementary (in CC speak, Abecedarians).
The Bridge Book is great for all elementary-aged children. It contains information about the history of bridges as well as about their basic structure. My five year old really enjoyed it! It’s only available used at Amazon (I’ve had GREAT luck picking up used books at Amazon for a few cents plus $3.99 shipping. We don’t mind used books around here in the least.), and our library had a copy of it. It was a great combination of informative and entertaining.
Bridges! is more elaborate and intended for ages 7-14. It contains history, facts about different types of bridges, and projects designed to help you test out different bridge types yourself. it’s a cute book and most of the projects don’t involve terribly complicated resources (poster board, paper clips, glue, etc.). I know it can be hard to fit in more during the week, but I’ve got my eye on a few extra projects for us to try now or during week 21.
Bridges and Tunnels is packed with even more history, informative facts, and activities. It’s intended for ages 9-12. There are some really neat projects in this one, but it’s definitely a little more information than my 5 and 7 year old will want to sit down and digest for pleasure. The illustrations and page layouts are very approachable for the age it’s aimed at, though, so if you have an older elementary child or a middle-schooler, this book would be awesome!
And, finally, here’s a little bridge building app that’s free and available on for Android and iPhone/iPad. We downloaded this some time ago and my son enjoyed it, but moved on and I deleted it. I downloaded it again and he’s been begging to play it all day. He was thrilled when I gave him a few minutes to play on it earlier and he built a bridge (a suspension bridge) that was strong enough to allow trucks to use it. This app gets kids familiar with some of the decision making that goes into building a bridge, even if it can’t be directly applied to the straw or popsicle bridge they’ll be building at CC.
Fine Arts – Orchestra
Okay, okay, I know that I already recommended this book in my post specifically about the Orchestra, but it’s just TOO GOOD to not mention it one more time. It ties Beethoven into ALL SORTS of timeline and history sentence items. It has great facts about Beethovens 5th Symphony (the one we’re listening to in Week 20). I really just can’t recommend it enough. A mom asked me at lunch last week (when I was RAVING about this book and the whole series) if her 6th grader would enjoy it as much as my 1st and 2nd graders do and I emphatically said “YES!” For a middle school student it would just be a much easier and faster read, but they’d still enjoy the humor and absorb all the great meat that the book contains. I mean, I LOVE these books myself and I’m . . . well, let’s not discuss my age. Let’s just leave it at – THESE BOOKS ARE AWESOME!
There is a video (slightly under an hour) called “Beethoven Lives Upstairs” that is supposed to be an accurate and entertaining account of Beethoven’s life. I haven’t yet watched it, but Common Sense Media recommends it for ages 6 and up. Our library has a copy of it in circulation, or you can purchase and stream it at Amazon (and Amazon has the DVD version, as well).
There’s also a short animated biography about Beethoven (by Muffin Stories), aimed at younger children, available here-
A friend and fellow CC tutor pointed me in the direction of these two videos. The first is a satire of Beethoven’s 5th symphony. As an adult, it’s hysterical! Some of it will go over younger children’s heads, but it’s still QUITE funny!
If you’re tutoring and need some more ideas about how to handle teaching the Orchestra to your class, you can check out this post at Solagratiamom.com. It’s from last year, but the same basic principles apply.
On an ALMOST totally unrelated note, I pass along the following to all those of you whose children are obsessed with the soundtrack from the Frozen movie. These guys have mixed the “Let it Go” music with Vivaldi’s “Winter” Violin Concerto (part of “The Four Seasons” work that he is most renowned for). If you want to expose your children to classical music mixed with something they already love, this may be the perfect mix. There are no vocals, but my guess is that your children can provide those, should they care to, on their own.
Yeeesh. Trying to to find books or videos about the Vietnam war that are appropriate for early elementary age students was just impossible. For me, at least. Did anyone out there find any good resources?
There is some information in the Crash Course History video on the Cold War that I posted last week. It transitions directly from the Korean War to the Vietnam War . . . but it’s not really geared toward our Foundations-aged kiddos.
This week, we reviewed CC at lunch one day using our Cranium Zooreka game. Like most of our efforts at review, it was pretty simple – take a turn, answer a CC question. My kiddos have realized they can usually talk me into a game in the middle of the school day as long as they propose we do CC review in some form along with it. This game took us while to play this time (we actually walked away and came back to it later in the day). We got in a LOT of review!
A few weeks ago, I ordered an Eggspert game to use at home and for review in the classroom. We’ve only used it once in class and a couple of times at home, but my kiddos have really enjoyed it! The only downside for the classroom is that there are only 6 controllers, so you do have to play in teams, or nominate a child or two to be the “Quiz Show Hosts” if you have a class of more than 6 children. But, it’s fun, and since there’s a timer, you can move through questions pretty quickly. Again, we got a LOT of review in while using it and the kids had a great time!
Confession time. I can’t sing. I mean, seriously. In fact, I sometimes wonder how the children in my CC class manage to learn any of the material from someone who teaches most of it with songs that she usually butchers mercilessly. Now, on the upside (sort of), I can actually TELL that I can’t sing. I’m not tone deaf. In fact, I have a HUGE appreciation for music and musical people. Before our children came along, my husband (who has an AWESOME voice! The proof is on his album.) and I were season ticket holders to the symphony. We loved it! Then the kiddos arrived and going out became more of a rarity. And we choose to do other things (like go places we can talk in peace!) when we do go out, usually. But, I say all of that to say . . . I really ENJOY the Orchestra 6-weeks of CC! And I have LOTS of ideas for things to do in class and even more for outside of class to help reinforce the concepts we’re learning during this period!
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. 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.
Mary, from homegrownlearners.com, has uploaded a great file called “SquiltCycle2.pdf” to CC Connected. It’s an example of the Squilt (Super Quiet Uninterrupted Listening Time) curriculum she has created (see her blog and website for even more info), and it is chock full of good information for teaching this cycle of orchestra!
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 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 third 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 and Woodwinds), 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 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 Cycle, a flow chart for each of the three classical pieces has been posted by “thegossards” if you have access to CC Connected and you’d like to download them. 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. We’re in a very small classroom this year, so we won’t be doing any dancing, but 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 will be SHOCKED (voice dripping with sarcasm) to see the following 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 Dvorak in the “Getting to Know” series (Get on that, Mike!), but this one has gotten excellent reviews. It’s en route to me, and I’ll come back and adjust my recommendation accordingly.
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.
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.
Two 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, or push play below.
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’ve entered the final 6 weeks! It’s the downhill slope, but it sometimes feels more like it’s the hardest part of the year. I read a great blog post entitled “Everyone wants to quit in November and February” a week or so ago. It can be encouraging just to realize that you aren’t the only one who feels worn out! Hang in there, folks!
Well, here’s the thing. The Korean War is often called the “Forgotten War” and that makes finding great kid-friendly sources about it a little, ummmm . . . challenging.
Crash Course History has a video on the Cold War, which begins with Korea (first 5 minutes of the video, then it moves on the Vietnam) and includes a lot of good information. My guess is that it’s probably too much for a most of our elementary-level students and even many of the middle-schoolers, although if you’re like me, you sometimes just dig in and watch/read as much as your kiddos will tolerate and think that it will be beneficial to them, if only to reinforce the actual words that are part of this week’s history sentence (North, South, Korea, MacArthur, etc.).
Here are three websites with overviews of the Korean War. I might or might not actually go through them with my children, but I feel much better informed after perusing them. They gave me some context for the war that I didn’t previously understand (apparently watching reruns of M.A.S.H. can’t really be considered historically informative).
Need a song to reinforce this week’s memory work? Here’s a catchy one, with a nice overview of the first law of thermodynamics, along with a review of the two types of energy (covered in Week 15).
If you’re still willing to watch a Bill Nye video, he’s got an old episode out there on Energy. I thought I’d posted it back on Week 15, but apparently not:
Each of my children has been home sick from CC once in the past two weeks, so we spent some time this week doing the science experiments from Week 18 and 19 at home so the child who missed out at CC could participate, too.
Speaking of NASA, this is a really neat video about the dynamics of flight. It does a great job of explaining lift, drag, weight, and thrust!
This 6th grade teacher made up a song to help his students remember the four forces that impact flight:
Again, Bill Nye’s got an old episode on the subject:
I’ve mentioned in a past week that I really think this CC mom does a great job of tying in the geography with a song and hand motions that help it all stick. Even though our community uses different music, I often find her hand motions VERY helfpul!
Once again, someone out there in CC-land was kind enough to create a geography review game. This one just includes Week 19’s geography (which is GREAT for nailing down the new information!), but don’t forget that there are several out there for other weeks, too, so if you’re trying to get a good overall review, here you go:
Someone raised a question on CC Connected about geography review and the suggestions that came out of that were great! (Consider this a plug for CC Connected and all the good info shared there!) One of the websites that was suggested and that looks very interesting was seterra.net. Just thought I’d pass it along in case you wanted to check it out, too.
This is a flashback to previous weeks, but have you seen these awesome skip counting boards? Love this idea!!!
Come back tomorrow! I’ve got too much to post here, so I’m going to do a separate post on the Orchestra.
It’s pretending to be spring here for a few days. It’s been WONDERFUL and we’ll take what we can get, but we know it’s a bluff and the cold weather is moving back in next week. So, it is CRITICAL that we spend some time outside enjoying the weather while we can! Hence the reason we took our CC review outside one afternoon this week. The kids swung on the swings while I asked them CC questions. We played a little game that they could swing as high and for as long as they wanted . . . until they missed a question. Then, they had to stop and start over again and it became the other one’s turn. I took our CC Memory Master Sticker sheets out with us and awarded stickers as we worked. It was a nice way to accomplish something we needed to work on and enjoy the weather at the same time!
One of my goals is to come up with some more active review games to use around here as the weather gets nicer. And, I keep thinking that it would be fun to get a few CC kids together one afternoon to play some review games that involved running, relays, hula hooping, or something like that. My brain is churning on it. If you have any great ideas or have seen anything out there that fits the bill, let me know!!
I don’t know about you guys, but I think some of the hardest memory sentences are the ones which are really just a list of names. We acted out the ones from the Renaissance (Week 6) based on their occupation. We used the dress-up game for WWI leaders (Week 14). And now for WW II leaders, we did some goofy acting out. I did print out Melody Stroud’s history cards (we’re using ALL her cards at home for review, see below) from CC Connected (listed under melodystroud) to use as additional visuals in class (I think it’s nice to try to introduce the grammar in a way that works for at least two learning styles if you can). We held our arms in a big “X” for Axis and shook our hands in front of us (like the “England” sign for “Alfred the Great of England” in the Timeline motions). Here are the GOOFY motions we used for the leaders:
Hitler: hit our palm with our other fist (we also used this in Week 16, so at least we’re consistent in our goofiness)
Tojo: lifted our foot and pointed to our toe
Mussolini: hands on our heads with fingers spread apart like the antlers of a moose (we also use that this week for our _bimus Latin ending. Again, we are nothing if not consistent in our insanity.)
Churchill: form fingers into church and steeple . . . you know the little children’s rhyme “Here is the church, here is the steeple . . . “
Roosevelt: pretend to smell a rose
Eisenhower: point to our eye
Stalin: finger over our upper lip like a mustache
I know that you are now SO impressed that you will insist that CC adopt these as their standard hand motions and next time we do this cycle, I’ll be featured in my own video on the website, right there with the woman doing ACTUAL sign-language in the Timeline video. Right? Sure.
We used those same basic hand motions for Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin during Week 18.
There’s a nice little overview of the United Nations in the following video. It probably goes without saying that the United Nations is a hot topic, which raises wildly differing views. This is a simple, positive video overview or the formation, intent, and structure of the UN that I would say is very appropriate (if a bit dry) for Foundations-level students. Skip reading the comments on the video (visible if you access it directly at YouTube), many of which are NOT kid-friendly.
And, if you’re a fan of Kid President, here’s a video of his visit to the UN for World Humanitarian Day (not so much educational, but he’s a cute kid):
The following video about the UN gave me flashbacks of high school, but it is a pretty straight forward overview of the history, purpose, and structure of the UN.
This book looks great! I have it on hold at the library and will update you in a week or so after we’ve had a chance to read and use it!
Got a child who loves graphic novels and comic books? I have two! If you do, check this one out, it gets excellent reviews and sounds perfect for early elementary!
And while we’re on a graphic novel roll, this looks interesting, too (and there’s one on States of Matter in the same series . . . why am I just discovering this now???):
And of course, this is usually a reliably good series, too:
I felt like this week’s science experiment needed some explanation beyond the projects/experiments. I’m going to outline what I chose to do here, just in case it’s helpful to another tutor or two as a jumping off point for doing something (probably something much more impressive!) for your own class. With a little help from my husband (who managed to round up things that were basically trash from around the house to help me out!), I did a little bit of an illustration before we dug into the outlined projects from the Foundations guide. I took an old lampshade to class (Yep, that’s right, a lampshade. We homeschoolers are resourceful folk.) and we pretended that it was a mountain. I showed the kiddos a matchbox car and explained that there were basically 3 ways to get the car to the top of the mountain:
Lift it straight up, which would take a LOT of force/strength/energy,
Build a long ramp that leads from the top of the mountain down to a point in the distance away from the mountain (I illustrated this with a piece of yarn stretched from the top of the mountain to a point down on the table. We pretended to drive the car up it and introduced the term “inclined plane.”). This would take longer, but would require less effort,
Or (and largely because we can’t just build HUGE ramps everywhere) we can twist the inclined plane around the mountain, so the car can drive up it without having to start VERY far away from the base of the mountain.
Then we did the pencil/paper science project illustrating the same thing, so that they could all do it themselves. Using the yarn made it easy to illustrate why it would also take LONGER to get up the mountain on the inclined plane wrapped around it (the angle becomes more shallow and the road gets longer than the ramp would be) than it would to drive up a ramp built up its side.
Then, I took a rubber doorstop and explained that sometimes an inclined plane is used as a wedge to lift something heavy. After demonstrating that, it was easy to tie in the road illustration and the wedge illustration to explain that a screw is a type of “winding wedge” and we did the second experiment.
There are also some great videos available on the subject! A fellow tutor showed the following two to her class to help explain the experiments and they were captivated.
There’s also this one:
And, finally, here’s nice, simple experiment (performed by a kid) to illustrate the benefit of an inclined plane and how it works as a tool. She doesn’t actually do all the measuring, but I think you’ll all understand what she’s saying – if you lift the heavy object straight up, the rubber band will stretch more than it will when you pull it up the inclined plane because it takes less effort when you use the inclined plane, which is a simple, but very helpful, tool. The effort will be even less (and the rubber band will stretch less) when you make the angle of the inclined plane less steep. So, just like in our pencil and paper experiment for CC this week, it might take longer to get up the incline, but it also takes less work.
I purchased the following video series, called Understanding Art: Impressionism. We have not yet watched it, so I’ll have to report back later! The Full Season instant video can be purchased from Amazon for $9.99 (the DVD retails for $52), or individual episodes are available for $2.99. I think Monet is discussed in nearly every episode (no surprise), Degas and Morisot are discussed in at least one (Episode 3 – Painting to the People).
Edit: I’ve started watching the series, and while I think it is very interesting and informative, some of the information is more sensational than I think appropriate for my children. My husband and I will probably finish watching it together (it IS interesting!) and gauge what age it might be appropriate for our children, but 7 and 5 are not the right age, in my opinion.
Week 17, Degas:
Once again, I’m recommending a book (and video if you can find it!) from Mike Venezia’s “Getting to Know” series. I’ll spare you the accolades about the series. Just check all the other posts where I’ve recommended them.
These Anholt Artists books are also very sweet storybook-style books about artists. Not as many facts, but excellent as an introduction.
Week 18 Morisot:
I needed help with pronunciation of her name! Do you? If so, this is very helpful!
There is a short video about a Morisot painting available here at Christies (related to the sale of the painting being described) that discusses her technique and how it relates to other Impressionist artists.
I printed off all of Melody Stroud’s History sentence cards from CC Connected, cut them up, shuffled all the weeks that we’ve been through so far and handed them to my kiddos to sort into complete sentences. This was even more challenging for them than I thought it might be, so I go involved in “helping” them figure it out (in the sense that “helping” means handing my daughter a card every once in a while when she knew what was next but couldn’t actually seem to see the card, or the sense that “helping” means handing stacks of cards my daughter had put in order to my son with instructions to “double check and make sure we got it right”). It probably took nearly an hour, but they got a GREAT review of the history sentences in the process! We’ll be doing this exercise again soon!
This is the time of year in our family when a couple of things typically happen: 1) We’re just really getting back into the school “groove” and I start to feel good about what we’re accomplishing and 2) tax season hits.
In some past life that I occasionally have flashbacks of, I was a CPA who had VERY, VERY little to do with taxes. I spent most of my time (and by that, I mean 50-80 hours/week) auditing fairly large, often publicly-traded companies. I won’t bore you with the details. I’ll just skip to the end of the story . . . I don’t do that any more.
Okay, if you want more details (skip on down if you don’t), I resigned because by husband operates his own business (now businesses) and needed more accounting and office management than I could provide him after exerting all my energy on someone else’s business. I resigned, got pregnant, felt yucky, had a baby, and now I exert all my energy on children and homeschool and my husband still needs more accounting and office management than I’m able to provide. See how well that worked out for him? One less income, more mouths to feed, same pitiful amount of attention. Have I mentioned that my husband is wonderful? Consequently, I really am always trying to balance it out, and at this time of year, the balance tips in his favor. I also help out another CPA doing business taxes at this time of year. So, more time on taxes and business = less time on cool CC stuff and blogging.
It only lasts for a few weeks, and then the scales will tip back the other direction.
I don’t think we’re actually going to Memory Master this year, but I like to act like we’re still shooting for it so we still push ourselves in review. I made the kids some sheets to keep up with what they’ve mastered and what they haven’t, based on what this CC mom had done. When they can answer the review question with absolutely no assistance, they get a sticker. And, because I am not above bribery (although I’m not usually prone to it, either), I offered them a chocolate chip for every 5 in a row they can get. Again, we got in a LOT of review in exchange for some stickers and a couple (really, just a couple . . . we need to do a lot more review!) of chocolate chips. You can download a copy for yourself by clicking on the image to the right, or by visiting the printables page.
This week, I decided that we needed a new review game at home to spice things up! I’ve seen Jenga versions of CC review games in abundance, so I decided to go with one of those. Like the CC mom at this blog, I did this the “quick and dirty” way . . . I just used a sharpie and wrote on my Jenga pieces. It’s fast, it doesn’t throw the balance of the blocks off, and you can just ignore it if you want to play Jenga and NOT review CC. The only difference I made, was that I did not write the weeks on my blocks, just the subjects. I didn’t want to be locked in to which weeks we were reviewing. I’d rather create piles of my CC memory review card by subject and then just draw from them based on what’s written on the block that you pull. There are 54 pieces in a complete Jenga set, so I just dealt them evenly into 7 stacks, and then any extras went into the stacks that I think we struggle more with (History sentences, Geography, etc. I avoided extra blocks for Timeline and Math, since we repeat those each cycle already.) After that, it was easy and fun and I ended up taking it to class with us and using it there, as well.
Jenga aside, do you know what my kids’ favorite way of reviewing this past week was? Using a card game that came in a Chic-Fil-A kids meal. My son got it as a prize for bringing his Bible and looking up his memory verse in his Wednesday night class at church (I love his teachers – encouraging Bible literacy in your Kindergarten class rocks!). It’s called “Cattle Drive,” but basically it’s just “War” with a smaller cow-themed deck of cards. My kids don’t play war all that fast (it’s just never occurred to them) and they’re totally used to using a game to review CC, so when I was asking them how they wanted to review last week, my son suggested this game and said they’d just answer a CC question on each turn. The loser (lowest number card) of the turn got to read the question for the winner (highest number of card). They reviewed a good chunk of CC that morning over breakfast this way . . . and the only effort it required on my part was pulling out our CC memory cards. Winner!
I recommended this WWI book in my last post before we’d really had a chance to use it. Now that we’ve had it and used it on our Kindle, I’m going to give this book a second shout out. I’m also going to recommend the WWII book. I think this book would work well in hard copy, as well, but we REALLY enjoyed it on our Kindle. It’s nice that we can walk through just a “path” or two and then put the book down and come back to it later. I’ve found it particularly amusing to hear my children advocate for choosing paths of totally different risk-levels (My son: “Skip the additional training, go straight to the front!!” vs My daughter: “Let’s stay in the U.S. and see if/when they decide to join the war.”). I will warn you that, as would often happen in war, a great deal of the paths don’t end well – you die, your lungs are damaged for the rest of your life, etc., but they aren’t gruesome.
The first time we chose a path that resulted in our character dying, my children stopped and looked at me. They don’t often (ever!) read books that don’t have happy endings, so this was a new experience. Not a bad one, though. Wars are NOT warm and fuzzy experiences, and while my natural tendency is to focus on heart-warming or heroic stories like these:
Nicholas Winton (who was responsible for the Czech Kindertransport of WWII that saved 669 children from concentration camps),
or the Little Ships of Dunkirk where 700 privately owned boats (we’re talking fishing boats, ferries, and yachts) sailed across the English channel and assisted in rescuing 338,000 French and English troops who had been cut off from the rest of the forces and trapped on the beaches at Dunkirk
. . . those stories aren’t representative of the whole experience. These interactive books have done a good job of helping me to really explain to my children how horrible war can be without it being a traumatizing experience.
If you enjoy the Horrible Histories videos, here’s a link to a playlist of WWII related videos. While we did find these interesting, I didn’t find them to be as educational as they have been on other subjects.
I find these Crash Course History videos very interesting and educational. I almost always learn something I didn’t know or hear a perspective that I haven’t thought of. For the WWII video, I’m going to say that it’s generally not appropriate for elementary-aged kiddos. Preview it and make your own call. There’s just too much about WWII that is gruesome (and captured in photo and film) for young kids, plus there’s some language and imagery here that I would prefer my kiddos not to see (and there’s so much information covered so quickly, I think they’d struggle with digesting it, anyway). For adults, and high-school students, this is just what it says – a crash course in WWII . . .
There is, of course, also a crash course in WWI. I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether you think it’s appropriate for younger kiddos. It’s less gruesome, but still may not be something your younger children will be able to follow (or that you want them to watch).
Here’s a way to illustrate all three of Newton’s laws of motion using matchbox cars:
This awesome CC mom uses a different tune than we use in our community, but I love how she integrates hand motions into her geography songs. The hand motions often help me remember which countries are where!
Week 16 Balkans:
Week 15 Middle East:
I wasn’t able to find many resources for Gainsborough (week 15), but of course the resources for Monet are nearly unending! Here are my absolute favorites!
I keep recommending the books and videos in this “Getting to Know . . . ” series by Mike Venezia because I think they are so good! Again, the video is just cost prohibitive to purchase (check your library!), but the book is reasonable, and Monet is an artist that you and your children will enjoy revisiting year-after-year.
This is both an excellent book and video. It’s sweet with lots of great information about Monet, as told by a little girl who visits his art and his historic home.
These two books were new to us, this year. They’re great for pre-school and early elementary students. They contain easily understood information about Monet on well-illustrated pages. There are more in-depth biographies at the end of both books (but if you’re family is like ours, you children start to lose interest at that point). The first book, “Monet Paints a Day” has boxes on each page that are separate from the story-line but contain great information about the artist. I liked having the option to add in more elaborate information as I read.
This book was also a new discovery this year. It is EXCELLENT! Lots of good information about Monet and the Impressionist movement are woven through the story, and I loved that this book focused on paintings that we aren’t as familiar with.
This is an interesting video about Monet, that focuses on his garden at Giverny.
One last note for those of you that live in the Middle Tennessee area. The Frist Center for the Arts in Nashville (free for children under 18, $10 for adults + parking) will be hosting an exhibit entitled “Looking East” through May 11, 2014. The pieces are on loan from the Museum of Fine Art in Boston. The purpose of the exhibit is to illustrate how Japanese art influenced other artists across the globe . . . after the U.S. restored trade with Japan (see Timeline Week #18). During Japan’s Isolation (see Timeline Week #15), Western artists weren’t able to see what was going on there, so after Japan re-opened its borders to the world (thanks to the work of U.S. Commodore Matthew Perry, see CC History Sentence from Cycle 1, Week 10), there was a shift in modern art around 1872. How cool to see our Timeline and Fine Art illustrated for us in one place! Japanese art will be on display beside paintings and prints of Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas, Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, Edvard Munch and the furniture of Frank Lloyd Wright. Two of those artists – Claude Monet and Edgar Degas are covered in our current (Cycle 2) fine arts! It’s rare to get to see our history grammar and art illustrated this way, so take advantage of it, if you can!
About two weeks ago, our family went to the local art museum. We were there primarily to see an exhibit of Norman Rockwell’s work, but also on display was an exhibit that highlighted art by some of our country’s African American artists.
We wandered through this exhibit first, and as we went along, we came to this piece.
Duck Duck Noose by Gary Simmons (1992)
Neither of my children (5 and 7) understood the piece at all. And so, I found myself in the middle of a museum trying to explain to my children how people can choose to judge each other entirely by the outside appearance rather than by looking at the heart. Truth be told, I started explaining, but started tearing up about it (somehow having children has turned me into a really easy crier). I was EXTREMELY thankful that my husband was with us on this particular day because he took one look at me trying to breathe deeply (lest I become a true weepy mess, which NONE of us wanted. Trust me.) and just picked up where I had trailed of. So, between the two of us, we talked about racism and the Klu Klux Klan and how horribly wrong it is to make assumptions about people based on what they look like.
My 5 year old looked up at us and asked “What color are WE?”
It was one of those rare FANTASTIC parenting moments where I thought we’d done something right. That’s EXACTLY what I would have chosen for him to have asked.
He looked down at his arm and thought for a second and said “Are we white . . . you know, white-ish?”
So, I explained to him that if we had to check a box on a form, we’d probably check the “white” box. I was in the middle of following that up with something deep and meaningful when he said:
“Yay! We’re white!”
(and for about a second I wanted to die)
And then he said:
“They [meaning the KKK] couldn’t do anything like that to us, right?”
And then, I just REALLY wanted to cry.
Obviously, more discussion was required. It’s a hard thing to explain to a 5 year old that “couldn’t” and “probably wouldn’t” are not the same thing and that just choosing to disagree with people who use violence as their means of settling arguments might make you a target regardless of your skin color. And of course, just because someone might not treat us as badly as someone else, it’s still just wrong in the first place, and not something we want to celebrate having been spared. That kind of violence just shouldn’t happen in the first place.
It was one of those days when you know that your children’s view of the world has expanded and changed . . . a lot. And it makes you sad on some levels, because you know that the world the way they knew it before that experience was much more innocent and straight-forward (and color-blind). And yet, it’s important to develop empathy and to begin to understand that life continues to be about choices and about how we choose to treat one another. That’s not something reserved just for childhood.
So, even though we watched Martin Luther King Jr’s speech during the 1963 March on Washington last year on this day, this year it meant even more to me and more to my children, and my husband joined us on the couch as we watched. And we talked about how ordinary people can choose to make a difference. And about how no human being (save one, and He died on a cross 2000 years ago) is perfect, but there ARE such things as heroes, and the people who deserve that title are the ones who do the hard stuff and make the world a better place.
And now, since I’m all about a good book, here’s the one we read today. Do read the reviews. There’s a shadowy drawing of a man who has been lynched. If you have very young children or aren’t ready to get into that kind of detail, this may not be the right book for you. It is a very informative book about the Civil Rights movement in general and written in a very straight-forward style.
While there were some tough grammar areas, in my opinion, this week (English, History and Math were all just really long meaty!), I still really enjoyed it and we came up with some fun stuff to do with all of them!
Who else noticed this week that crazy, over-the-top mustaches must have been ALL the rage in Europe during WWI? I mean, SERIOUSLY the facial hair on these world leaders was crazy! There’s actually quite a bit of discussion on the internet about it, and I even read that David Lloyd George kept his specifically trimmed to a length that would not interfere with the seal on his gas mask. Crazy!
So, to have a little fun with what was otherwise just a long list of names and countries, we played a little dress-up! If you’d like to download some “glasses and ‘staches” of your own, you can do so here (
WW-I-Historical-Character-Dress-up.pdf (3507 downloads)
) or by clicking the image to the right. Have some fun and learn a little history! (I added a card for Austria-Hungary in case anyone would like to use these cards next week when we discuss Axis vs. Allies).
By the way, I asked my children to smile when I was taking their pictures wearing their “glasses and ‘staches” and my daughter (without changing the expression on her face or the tilt of her head) pointed to the photo of Wilson on the card in front of her and said “I can’t.” Apparently, if you’re going to wear the glasses (or ‘staches) you gotta’ wear the expression, too.
Horrible Histories has done several fun videos about World War I. I haven’t watched them all. This one is an overview of what caused WWI and how Britain came to get involved:
This is just an interesting one about the British forces in WWI and where they were from:
This book looks great! It does a nice little summary of the causes of WWI, and then focuses on the Christmas Day truce, a topic that always fascinates me !
We checked this book out at Christmas and I loved it (totally made me cry . . . not that that is too hard to do). It’s definitely more about the Christmas Day truce than it is about all of the details of WWI, but it’s still a wonderful little book!
This is SUCH a neat concept for a book! Here’s a history of WWI where “you choose” your role as you explore the events that transpired. The excerpt from Amazon: “World War I has just exploded in Europe. The peace of the entire world is in danger. How will you help? Will you: Join the Belgian resistance movement? Fight as a British Army soldier? Serve as a volunteer with the American Field Service?” There are hardcopy versions of the book, as well as a Kindle version. Very cool! My daughter JUST finished earning the money she needed to buy her own Kindle. She’s going to love trying this book out on it!
I didn’t find any great resources for reinforcing at, an elementary level, the difference between an acid and a base, this week. If you did, please leave me a note in the comments! I’d love to have something.
One thing that might be fun this week is just to explain to the kids what happens when you combine an acid and a base. They work to neutralize each other, and as a result, sometimes the reactions are really interesting! The classic example of this in your home is Baking Soda and Vinegar. There’s a fun example of a way to show this here.
Here’s some trivia that I didn’t know: Cabbage juice can be used as an indicator of whether something is an acid or a base. Apparently, this is interesting enough trivia that even Martha Stewart was willing to include it on her show (instructions at the link . . . or you can just watch the video from her show).
There’s also not a lot to say about this week’s “Artist” since he’s known better as a scientist than an artist! However, I want to take a moment and recommend this book. I was only able to find it used, but it’s a neat perspective on art appreciation and contains all of the artists we’re covering this semester except for Linnaeus. I was able to pick up a “Very Good” used copy from Amazon for about $5. The only real downside – my children have been fighting over it since it arrived.
I made up a Jeopardy game board this week like the one found at this blog. Brilliant! The kids enjoyed it in class and my children loved playing today at home. Sometimes you just need to freshen things up and throw in something new and this worked perfectly! I’m so appreciative to all the other CC parents who share their ideas and creativity!
Welcome Back! I hope that you all had a wonderful break. We’re back in action in our Classical Conversations community this week, and although I feel a little like I’m swimming through jello trying to get myself and my family back into the routine of things, we ARE slowly getting our cylinders all fired up and in sync!
Usually, for this week’s Math, I use a Gallon Man or Gallon Bot to reinforce the idea of liquid equivalents. There is a nice Gallon Man that someone has posted on CC Connected (C3) and there is a Gallon Bot available at Super Teacher Worksheets.
What I’ve noticed about myself, however, is that it actually helps me more to SEE the liquid equivalents in action. I understand it much better when I think about it as I’m working around the kitchen. So, this time I decided to actually do a demonstration. In class, we took a gallon of water and broke it down backwards. Because of the time constraints, we were only able to do it once (I took an extra gallon pitcher to house excess water), but then were still able to use the empty containers to go over the grammar multiple times in class.
At home, we’re continuing to use the same containers as we review the memory work. My children just pretend to pour the liquid the appropriate number of times. They’ve been able to remember the grammar, as well as think about the math a little more (if there are 2 cups in a pint and 2 pints in a quart, how many cups are in a quart? etc.). I think it’s been very helpful! Seeing the relative size of the containers has made the abstract concept much more concrete in their minds.
I may have mentioned this before, but I like to do impromptu presentations a couple of times each year. This year, I did more planning than usual and arranged things so that we did impromptu presentations the week after coming back from each of our breaks in the Fall and Winter. I realize that sometimes the kids have GREAT things to report on from their breaks, and I would never mind a bit if someone preferred to do a prepared presentation those days, but as a parent, trying to get presentations ready those weeks always causes me a ridiculous amount of stress! It’s just like I’m not ready to start getting snacks packed, lunches packed, backpacks packed, and all the other things that go with preparing for CC Community day, and trying to get the presentations rounded up and ready on top of that is just too much for me that first week back! It always spoils my break a little. All the rest of you are probably much more pulled together than me and don’t mind it a bit, BUT I think it’s the PERFECT time to just do impromptu presentations!
In the Fall, I brought in a box of random objects. This children each drew an object out of the box and did a presentation on it. Some of them were VERY creative! Kids are so awesome! Some examples of things I put in the box were:
Small pieces of PVC pipe (they were actually part of a marshmallow shooter)
I tried to come up with things for which I could think of at least two uses quickly and things that I thought the kids would generally be familiar with. I did this last year during second semester with abecedarians and was absolutely AMAZED at how well they did! My whole crew of 4 and 5 year olds walked up to the box, picked something out without debate or distress, walked straight to the front of the class and just talked. It just reminded me again about what a wonderful blessing CC and this presentation time each week is!
This week, we used some speech prompts. The kids drew a slip of paper from a bag (I allowed them to draw 2 and choose between them) and then made their presentation. Again, I was so impressed with how well they all did! If you’d like to download the Speech Prompts we used, you’ll find them here (
Impromptu-Topics.pdf (594 downloads)
) or on the Printables page.
Here’s a pretty decent video with information about Prince Henry the Navigator. I can tell you from personal experience that it’s difficult to read some of the text aloud quickly enough. On the upside, my effort to do so totally cracked my kiddos up and they cheered for me on the shorter slides where I was able to actually read the content to them completely before they changed. You know . . . it’s good to stay humble.
One of the copies of the Gutenberg Bible is on display in the Library of Congress. We were able to see it when we went to DC last spring. It really is an amazing thing to behold! Especially since it’s displayed across from the Giant Bible of Mainz, which looks very similar and was handwritten in the same town of Mainz, Germany around the same time that Gutenberg was printing his Bibles. It took over a year for the handwritten Mainz Bible to be completed. Our tour guide told us 150 copies of Gutenberg’s Bible were probably completed in about the same time period. Fascinating! It’s definitely a must see (in my book) on your next trip to Washington DC. The Library of Congress, as a whole, was my favorite part of our last trip there!
This book on Gutenberg is great, but it looks like only used copies are available via Amazon (check your local library!).
I have 2 books to recommend this week relating to our history grammar. The first, in particular, is great! It contains a section on Gutenberg (this week’s timeline) as well as one on James Watt. It’s written comic book style, and the histories are brief, but well done and interesting.
I thought this video was an interesting overview of the Industrial Revolution. My 5 and 7 year old were not as enamored. To quote my very tactful 7 year-old: “He blabbed on too much.” It is a little longer, and moves a bit quickly for younger children. Probably best for middle school and up.
I found several videos this week. This first one is the very best one that I found for discussing all 4 states of matter. At 2:50, there is a vague reference to the Big Bang (a large amount of energy converts to matter). Near the end, there is a tie in to the definition of inertia, which will be coming up in our Science grammar.
This is an excellent video on 3 of the states of matter, filmed in a glass studio. Excellent for early elementary and up. There is some non-narrated text that will need to be read aloud for non-readers (or slower readers):
I’ve created some artist bios with examples of their artwork and have uploaded them to C3. Link is here for those of you with access to C3.
I adorethe”Getting to Know” series written by Mike Venezia. There are books on SO many artists and other famous historical figures and they are written in an extremely approachable way. There are also videos on many, but not all, of the individuals. Rembrandt is one for whom there is a book and a video and I would HIGHLY recommend them both. The book is very reasonably priced on Amazon. The videos are cost prohibitive (I can only assume that they expect well-funded school and library systems to shell out big bucks), so if you’re able to find it at your local library snag it! They are SO good!
Here are two websites with good links to Rembrand bios and artwork:
My ABSOLUTE FAVORITE thing to recommend this week is this video. I love a good flash mob video! This is a flash mob sponsored by the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam to publicize a Rembrandt exhibition that included his most famous work – The Night Watch. It really is very cool! Be sure and pause it after the frame falls down and see if your children can see the characters from the original painting. It’s a fun way to really take some time to examine the artwork.