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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Composer: Antonio Vivaldi (Baroque)

Okay, so this term's already started for us, and since it's outta control with moving and all, this post will be like no other.  (Normally term 2 is Jan-Mar, ours will just be stretched out).  I'm just going to point out some of the links that I'm looking at.  Sorry, I don't have time to find all the music online as free downloads this time.  I have a bunch of CDs (thanks Mother and Daddy!) that are pretty much gonna cover for us this term.  I am SO happy that I planned this term so far ahead!!  Note that Vivaldi's Gloria is a Christmas-y song!  So get a head start by listening to that one now!  ;)  One somewhat completely unrelated thing I'd like to say is, that I LOVE THIS album that has *note* only ONE Vivaldi piece on it:

{LOVE, love, LOVE, love it.}

Here are the AO selections for this term 
(each song is linked, but I haven't listened to all the selections,
nor do I know if they are complete... the links are perfect for a little sampler):
2010-2011 TERM 2 Antonio Vivaldi (1730) (Baroque)
    Gloria (choral work);
    The Four Seasons (complete at wikipedia);
    Trio Sonata in C major, RV.82; (at youtube in parts; one, two and three)
    plus 3 concerti - maybe one for violin, one for guitar (for example: Trio Sonata in C Major, RV 82: III. Allegro)and one for a woodwind instrument such as oboe or bassoon.
We have this:

And would like to read this:
(if only we had a local library!!! perhaps you don't know how spoiled you really are?!)

{Comes with Teacher Guide, CD and bonus CD... }

We have planned to listen to:
Week 13-14: Gloria (choral work)
Week 14-15: The Four Seasons
Week 16-17: Trio Sonata in C major, RV.82

Week 18-19: Concert for woodwind     <-- we are here :)
Week 20-21: Concert for violin
Week 22-23: Concert for guitar

Monday, December 20, 2010

Another early Christmas gift! Don't miss it!

WOW. What better way to mark the first day of winter than with something EXTRA special!!
To see a complete lunar eclipse might be worth keeping our kids up late tonight even if this isn't something directly holiday related!  After all it is not every day you can see this! 

Visible from the US, Central America and parts of South America, I haven't figured out yet if we'll be able to see it from where we're at, but I'm certainly going to try!! 

I think I'll let my kids sleep though until I know for sure!  ;)

Helpful Links:

NASA's eclipse site
Griffith Observatory: Sky Report (download the image above from there)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Joy to the World! A Christmas Carol Songbook!

Hey there friends and merrymakers!
I hope you are all enjoying the days leading up to Christmas by basking in the Light of lights...

...only 7 more days!

I've compiled a little book that might be helpful (or just plain fun) with Christmas carols and other holiday songs in Spanish and English (with chords).  My budding musicians are aspiring to actually sing with AND play for the church with their fellow Sunday schoolers this year, so it became necessary to have a chord book with both languages (the chords have different names in Spanish too, sorry English chords only).  Plus, I wanted one!  Then I got to thinking I bet there are more people out there that might be looking for this very thing... and so, here you have it!  :)

{Right click here to save .pdf to your computer}

Oh, and it's formatted so that if you print it out booklet style (or whatever your computer calls it) the English/Spanish should be face to face so that the Spanish is on the left, English on the right when you have it open. ;)

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays
and a Blessed New Year to you all!   

PS. I know it may be a teensy weensy bit late getting this posted, but hey! you'll be REALLY ready for next year!  and you can always make up for lost time by singing each song three times a day, at every meal, in both languages, in rounds and 4 part harmony... every day from now 'til Christmas!  ;)  Of course, why stop then?!  OKAY. alright. enough already...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

To do or not to do... hands-on activities

My good friend Jimmie, in her post, not only shows how in many ways we agree, but has provoked an extremely lengthy response from me on the merits of hands-on projects, which I decided might make for a happy post all by itself and possible continuation of discussion here :)  or not.  Either way ;)

In her post, Jimmie quoted something I'd posted awhile ago in answer to this question:  "I guess my question is when you read the books do you have activities that you do or implement to go along with them or is reading enough?"  A few words to first give a little context; to quote myself… ;)
”Though it might seem crazy, a child doesn’t really need a lot of hands-on activities to learn things or make connections when reading living books!!”

Hands-on projects are not necessary to a child’s learning when they are reading living books, is the idea I’ve expressed here, and I have to say that I agree with myself  ;)

First, this implies the idea that the children are of living book reading age. :) Second, when I say hands-on projects, I'd like to define those as crafty activities that are usually planned ahead with the intention of reinforcing a concept being taught.  These can be fun, perhaps even helpful, but I still maintain they are most often unnecessary when using living books*.  What I'm not referring to is handicrafts (basket weaving, sewing, wood carving, etc. see below) which are an absolute delight to most children and especially those in our family.  :)

However, like Jimmie said and I’ve said elsewhere and Charlotte Mason says and so-and-so also says and… <grin>  It is ABSOLUTELY necessary for very young children to get their hands onto things to learn – especially when it comes to abstract ideas (like math). And I would venture to say not just abstract concepts like math, but in those early years it is vital to experience all things outdoors and there ought to be much opportunity for hands on play with *things* very much apart from books. (As an aside, CM actually says NOT to read too much to a very young child!)  BUT, as Jimmie has defined in another post, getting their hands onto things can be different than pre-planned ornate hands-on projects. I am all for the first, and less excited about the second. But that’s just me. :)

I require my kids do lots of things apart from reading books with their hands ;) that probably do not classify technically as ‘hands-on’ learning projects though they are all very hands on:
  • nature study
  • various art
  • sketching
  • handicrafts (wood carving, cookie deco, fimo clay, beginning sewing, etc)
  • learning an instrument
…and occasionally these things naturally connect with the things they’re learning about in their books.
But, most times the activity is completely independent of their book learning.

NOW. I think all those hands-on projects are great for the people and children who love them! Absolutely!
Especially when those hands-on projects can in someway benefit others (making gifts, repairing something, etc). And if they reinforce a concept being learned elsewhere, why not?!  Excellent.
I just don’t do it. But, I don’t prohibit it either… I just don’t specifically plan them into my children’s education.  (Except when grandparents visit, they are not only encouraged, but specifically required to do crafty things with my kids, heheh!)  That doesn't mean lots of hands-on activities don't occur quite spontaneously, that is what I LOVE!  When my kids come up with their own stuff!  That is completely and utterly satisfying.  :) 

I’m not saying that what we do is the way it should always be done, it’s just the way it works in our family (for many reasons: a non-crafty momma, multiple children, a strong CM focus, limited craft supplies available, etc., etc.). Families ought to find their happy medium in these areas and then feel confident they are doing their best… and STOP worrying! We cannot teach our children everything. They will continue their learning all throughout their lifetimes, just as WE teachers are still learning!

It’s part of the beauty of life. :)

PS.  Children with special learning needs are always the exception.  Their education must be tailor fit to them in SO many ways, and I know from friends who have this kind of exceptional kids that hands-on activities are often VERY helpful!

Friday, December 10, 2010

a moment.

I've watched you now a full half-hour;
Self-poised upon that yellow flower
And, little Butterfly! indeed
I know not if you sleep or feed.
How motionless!--not frozen seas
More motionless! and then
What joy awaits you, when the breeze
Hath found you out among the trees,
And calls you forth again!

from 'To a Butterfly' by William Wordsworth

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Plutarch Study - Alexander

"Using history as a mirror I try by whatever means I can to improve my own life and to model it by the standard of all that is best in those whose lives I write. As a result I feel as though I were conversing and indeed living with them; by means of history I receive each one of them in turn, welcome and entertain them as guests and consider their stature and their qualities and select from their actions the most authoritative and the best with a view to getting to know them. What greater pleasure could one enjoy than this or what more efficacious in improving one’s own character?"
~ Plutarch

So, we carry on in our study Plutarch... last term was Caesar, which was fun as it coincided on the AO schedule with our reading of Shakespeare's Caesar AND the boys have just come to Y6 in which they began reading Augustus Caesar's World. YAY! ...for making LOTS of connections! :)

This term Plutarch's life of Alexander is scheduled. Which we are REALLY enjoying. As we're piling up several terms of Plutarch studied now, we've been excited to discover several connections between famous men of the ancient world. This time as we were reading along, the boys' ears both pricked up as they heard the name of one of the generals opposing Alexander... (you'll have to read it to find out who! ;) He was just mentioned at first in passing (later in more detail), but the mere mention of his name sparked an afternoon flurry of research! Yippee!

Now, in general with Plutarch, we've kind of just taken it as another reading. I like to encourage meaningful discussion if it comes up, but mostly I'm hoping that a lot of the lessons will sink in naturally. ;) I haven't been lucky enough to coincide our study of Plutarch with a term when one of Anne's study guides was available. I like how she puts in a few new vocabulary words to watch out for, a tiny bit of background info, etc. I really like her guides. I really would like to use them. :) So, obviously, I can't wait 'til we get to a life that we can use one her studies for!!!

In the meantime, we are studying Alexander, and alas there is no study for Alexander... so, in my zeal of trying to implement our studies of Plutarch for the purpose intended (*see quote above) - encouragement of citizenship and character training... and not having the time nor skill to do what Anne's done, I've made a character sketch printable for Alexander. Keep in mind, this is intended for Plutarch beginners! I made it to help to get my student's thinking about why we're studying these ancient guys. It isn't a worksheet to be graded. Matter of fact, I gave a copy to each of my boys at the start of the term, and they are free to fill out or not fill out whichever things strike their fancy, as they go. I'm hoping this will help them keep their head wrapped around the man as the 12 week term progresses... especially as we'll have kind of an interrupted term this time around.

Download the Alexander Printable HERE.

Helpful Links:
Ambleside Online Plutarch Rotation
Why Read Plutarch?, article by George Grant
"Plutarch's Lives" as Affording Some Education as a Citizen, A Parent's Review Article, by Miss M. Ambler.
How We Study Plutarch, by lindafay - She lists some great practical ideas...

Saturday, December 4, 2010

CM blog carnival... are you prepared?

"Be prepared, be prepared, this lesson must be shared..."

The Charlotte Mason blog carnival will take place in less than 4 days... do you have your post up and linked?! ;) I almost always forget, so I thought maybe some of you'd like a friendly little reminder...

Submit your article HERE.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Narration... in Spanish or French, hard?!

There's been some talk over on the AOlist about how to incorporate narration into a child's foreign language learning experience.  Sometimes this seems like an impossibly enormous leap to make, especially if we as parents are not fluent in the language being studied!

Though not necessarily easy, I think it is quite possible... especially when taken little by little.  Narration skills are definitely invaluable for learning language!

My children have spent a good amount of time in Peru, where Spanish is the main language spoken.  However, as we homeschool, they have had much less of an opportunity to master the language, as they undoubtedly would have had, had they been completely immersed as Micah and I were in the beginning.  Did you know that you can live in a foreign country and NOT be immersed?  Well, it's possible. :S This just means that we have to work at Spanish with our kids just like the average Joe even though we both speak Spanish and we live in a Spanish speaking country... who'd a thought?!

No matter where you live, or what languages you already speak, learning a new one requires work.  You can't expect to just pick it up by listening to CDs or even hanging out with native speakers.  Effort is required to learn it well.  And the complicated thing about it is, at first there are so MANY aspects to learning it well!  Pronunciation, verb conjugations, masculine and feminine articles, reversed sentence structure, etc, etc.  On the other hand, the encouraging thing is, just as we continue to learn and polish our mother tongue, English, we remember that we will never stop learning our second and third languages as well.  So, we can throw the expectation for perfection right out the window.  We must be diligent and do our very best, we aspire to be effective communicators, we strive for excellence, but we can let go of that elusive perfection... ahhhh.  yes.  now, that's better, isn't it?  :)

So, learning a new language is something that's somewhat complicated seeing as there are so many things to learn seemingly all at once.  However, we don't really have to be overwhelmed by it!  We just slowly and regularly get into the habit of exposing ourselves and our children to the language, little by little.  We hear it spoken, we look at it written, we listen to CDs, we watch DVDs (using the language option), and eventually we actually study it!  We build on the things that we already know, new lights come on; and, it can be really fun!  :)

So, narration.

For those of us implementing a Charlotte Mason education using narration as a key ingredient, this idea may seem really difficult.  After all, many of our children have struggled with narration in English!  ;)  But, narration doesn't have to be difficult or dreaded.  It's kind of a natural thing!  ;)  Remember, narration is retelling what we've just heard.

Here's what Charlotte says:
"Children in Form IIB have easy French Lessons with pictures which they describe, but in IIA while still engaged on the Primary French Course children begin to use the method which is as full of promise in the teaching of languages as in English, that is, they are expected to narrate the sentence or paragraph which has been read to them. Young children find little difficulty in using French vocables, but at this stage the teacher should with the children's help translate the little passage which is to be narrated, then re-read it in French and require the children to narrate it. This they do after a time surprisingly well, and the act of narrating gives them some command of French phrases as far as they go, much more so than if they learnt the little passage off by heart. They learn French songs in both divisions and act French Fables (by Violet Partington) in Form IIA. This method of closely attentive reading of the text followed by narration is continued in each of the Forms. Thus Form II is required to "Describe in French, picture 20." "Narrate the story Esope et le Voyageur." Part of the term's work in Form III is to "Read and narrate Nouveaux Contes Français, by Marc Ceppi." Form IV is required amongst other things to "Read and narrate Moliere's Les Femmes Savantes." Forms V and VI are required to "Write a résume' of Le Misanthrope or L'Avare," "Translate into French, Modern Verse, page 50, 'Leisure.'" vol 6 pg 212
So, using the words made available to them the youngest were to narrate a picture.  Hmmmm.  That sounds easy enough.  Let's take this one for an example:

First, I talk about the picture, this gives them vocabulary that they may or may not have known, setting it out, as it were, on a shelf, giving them words to work with and to choose from.  "En este dibujo hay un payaso sentado en una banquita azul.  Está tocando su flauta... ¿cuál canción está tocando? ¿puedes adivinar? Su cabello es muy crespo y tiene muchos colores. ¡Aha! ¡Hay un pajarito escondiéndose en su cabello! Tiene nariz roja y redonda como muchos de los payasos tienen. Parece que el gato verde con puntitos rojos está escuchado a la música..." 
["In this picture there's a clown seated on a little blue stool.  He's playing his flute... which song do you think he's playing?   His hair is really colorful and curly.  Hey!  There's a little bird hiding in his hair!  He has a red nose, like most clowns.  It seems as if the spotted green cat is listening to the music..."]

Possible narrations:
Mya (3yo) pointing,
"¡Un payaso!" [a clown!]
"¡Un gato verde!" [a green cat!]

Siah (6yo)

Bria (7yo)

Cull (11yo),
"Hay un payaso tocando una flauta con pelo crespo de muchos colores.  Hay un pajarito escondiéndose en su pelo, un gato verde con puntitas rojas escuchando y un sapito sentado en sus pies."
[A clown with colorful curly hair playing a flute. There's a little bird hiding in his hair, a green cat with red spots listening and a little frog sitting on his feet.]
For parents who are just learning themselves, the description will be much simpler.  "Un payaso con una nariz roja" [A clown with a red nose].  Or if you're lucky enough to get your hands on some Spanish picture books, you may just be reading from whatever is written in the book, in which case, having already looked up unfamiliar words, you'll want to concentrate on your pronunciation and intonation of voice.  ;)  It's not as hard as it might seem, after a while.  ;)  really. 

Later (for older students, or in our case, more advanced learners), the children were to narrate a story.  This could go sentence by sentence if necessary, but I'm thinking that if you are advanced enough in the language to be able to read the story and your child understands anything about what you've read, then perhaps they'd be able to handle a paragraph at a time, using simple language.  Admittedly, it takes some time to advance to the point where they'll be able to understand an entire story (even an entire paragraph).  But, CM explains that the child isn't expected to understand ALL the words PERFECTLY before beginning narration.  "Young children find little difficulty in using French vocables, but at this stage the teacher should with the children's help translate the little passage which is to be narrated [into English], then re-read it in French and require the children to narrate it."  So, let's take this section for example:

"Pablo escribió a los cristianos de Galacia sobre cómo debían adorar a Dios.
Ustedes son hijos de Dios por la fe. No hay diferencia entre el creyente judío y el creyente gentil; entre el creyente que es esclavo y el creyente que es libre; entre el hombre creyente y la mujer creyente. Una vez que se convierten en cristianos, ustedes son iguales. Todos son descendientes de Abraham y recibirán todas las bendiciones que Dios le prometió a él. Dios les ha dado el Espíritu Santo como prueba de eso, el Espíritu que clama a Dios y sabe que él es su Padre amoroso."  ~ La Biblia en Un Año para niños, Rhonda Davies

Possible narrations:
Siah (6yo),
"Pablo predicó a los cristianos."
(Basically, at this stage, the beginner might just pick a phrase, remember it, repeat it to himself and then tell back that phrase... that´s okay to start with... he´s still learning to narrate!)

Bria (7yo),
"Pablo ha dicho a las personas de Galacia que Jesus les ama y que él que era cristiano, no hay diferentes, todos eran iguales.
[Pablo has said to the people in Galatia that Jesus loves them and that he who was a christian, there aren't any diferences, everyone was equal.  *I don't usually make them aware that I'm making corrections, I just often quietly repeat what they've said (as if acknowledging what they've said) except using the correct verb conjugation while their giving their narration.]

CM mentions that the teacher and child work together to translate the passage to English.  This helps with comprehension of new vocabulary at the same time concreting known vocabulary.  The teacher then re-reads the passage in French (or other language), before the child is expected to narrate.

So, starting at the very beginning (it's a very good place to start!), we can lessen our expectations.  Narration is really just retelling.  So, if we have a very small vocabulary and we describe a picture with a very few words, then our children will narrate with a very few words... and that's perfectly fine for starting!  We build on that, and they build too... learning, learning.  Always learning.  :)

Helpful Links:

My favorites picture books online in Spanish:
El Globo de Maria (SUPER EASY!  nice illustrations)
El Caballito de Palo (Short and sweet.  colorful illustrations, the clown above is from this story.)
The Royal Raven (in English, Spanish and Dutch! based on an Aesop's Fable, features a witch - please preview)

by Peruvian authors:  (The last several are rather twaddle-ish... ;)
La Nube Rosa
La espada magica del Don Rodrigo
En las punas
El Amaru
El Condor

La Llamita Coja

For older children (w/ more advanced language skill):
Palma for children (biography of a famous Peruvian poet from the 1800s)

Others available in English, Spanish and French:
Que Desastre!
The Story of the Three Little Pigs
I Wouldn't Tell a Lie
Gol de Federico!
Waldo, One, Two, Three! (EASY!)
Denslow's Humpty Dumpty
Denslow's Three Bears

French songs:
Vieilles Chansons (Old songs and ballads for children)

Some really great books for first reading/narration experiences (available in many languages)...
These are really great! There is no story, there is just a big picture in the center of the page, and all around the edges are images focusing on smaller parts of the bigger picture with the word in Spanish (or French, as the case may be). This makes it easy for speakers at different levels to talk about the picture... It could be as simple as, "Mira, hay una abeja!" or as advanced and eloquent as your vocabulary allows. ;)

Use these links, and I earn a commission! :) thank you.

Please feel free to add your thoughts and language experiences in the comments.  
What you share will help us all!  ;)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

little bloggers.

So, I've been away awhile. But I've not been far... just a click away, here at my kids' new blog!

You'll definitely want to take a peek!

They've both posted about their recent jungle river trip with their dad, and there are quite a few pictures with a Peruvian flavor courtesy of Oma :)

I've been so busy with holidays and entertaining guests and visiting tourist attractions that I completely forgot to even mention it here... until now!

So please feel free to pop over and leave them a comment, they'd be THRILLED! ;)
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