Causing a Riot With Rhythm

Every single occasion I listen to this piece, I feel myself steadily descending into madness. One errant note at a time, I’m swirling into a crazed world of instruments playing out of range, rhythms that don’t make any logical sense, and seemingly no control whatsoever. Stravinsky has been called a genius. He is the father of modern music, and this piece is hugely important in breaking long-held “rules” of rhythm and instrumentality, but it also is a little nuts. So crazy in fact, it caused an actual riot when it was first performed in Paris on May 29, 1913. Gird your loins people. This piece is a wild ride.

Continue reading

Science Observation: Owl Pellets

If you are easily grossed out, I’d recommend finding some other reading material for today. You can come back next post. I won’t judge. My daughter’s math book recently had a reference to owl pellets, which, she’d never heard of (I know…I’ve completely failed as a parent educator). So of course, relieve my guilt, and satisfy her curiosity, I put together a little pellet party. What can I say? I’m a nerd to the core. Continue reading

Nature Sketchbook

“I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”
― Isaac Newton

Nature Sketching

There is truth and beauty surrounding us in nature if we only take the time to observe it. The pace of life often leaves us in a whirlwind of schedules, appointments, errands and meetings, leaving little room for scrutiny and delight of the magnificent world encircling us. Continue reading

Rockets Review Game

My son played this review game with his tutor during our CC community day last year and loved it. It seems to have disappeared from CC Connected, so I attempted to recreate one for our own use. You can utilize it too…if you promise not to laugh at the slightly fuzzy around the edges version I created. My son thinks it’s great – that’s good enough for me. Continue reading

Science Experiment: Newton’s First Law of Motion

An object at rest tends to remain at rest, and an object in motion tends to continue moving in a straight line at constant speed unless an outside force acts upon it. So says Newton’s First Law of Motion. The question is…can you see this in action? You bet your sweet bippy you can. You only need a few simple materials for this crazy experiment.

A pie plate
An empty cardboard toilet paper tube
A raw egg (yes, raw)
Water
A large drinking glass or flower vase

Continue reading

Squirrels, Biomes, Clauses and Consumers

One of the most common questions I get regarding Classical Conversations is “You are just filling their head with rote memorization. They don’t  understand half of it. What good is that? All that stuff doesn’t even mean anything to them.”. While it is quite true that many of the facts we memorize mean virtually nothing to my children (what 5-year-old cares about Newton’s Laws of Motion?), there is a purpose and a path in our style of schooling that begins at the beginning. With young children who, like sponges, absorb every ounce of data around them. We all learn from infancy by rote memorization. How to speak by repeating the basic words our parents babble to us. The alphabet, the Pledge of Allegiance, The Lord’s Prayer. Kids can sing every song in their favorite movie. Recite entire books that are frequent bedtime stories. All these things are retained and recalled because of rote memorization. I’d like to share a little from Leigh Bortins book “The Core“, and then a story of my own to demonstrate these principles in action. Continue reading

SNAKE Math Game

Last week, I had the opportunity to observe an Essentials class at my CC Community. Even if the next level of classical education is a few years away for your family, I’d highly encourage anyone with a Foundations child to take a looksie at an Essentials class. It broadened my view of this whole classical journey, and renewed my excitement for the process. Seeing English and Math memory work come to life in real application was a great motivator to keep plugging along with all those songs about gerunds and verb conjugations. Bonus, I saw math games in action that I immediately stole, and have been using at home ever since. Including this fun game, called SNAKE.

Snake

You can play this as a multiplication or addition game. We learn skip counting in our Classical Conversations memory work, so my 6-year-old can rattle off multiplication as fast (maybe even faster) than his addition facts. We play both multiplication and addition to reinforce both as a good math foundation. Continue reading

Music to Make You Moody

As a part of Classical Conversations, we study great composers and orchestral music for 6 weeks. As a classical music junkie, this is one of my favorite parts of the program. I think an appreciation of great scores and understanding the intricacies of classical music is sadly lacking in our society. There is such a wide range of styles in classical music – thousands upon thousands of fantastic melodies, harmonies and rhythms – if you give it a chance, I’m positive you’ll find something you love.

Continue reading

Science Experiment: Magic Penny Cleaner

Do you have any old grungy pennies around the house? I’ll bet you do. Check under the couch cushions. Oh. Is it just my couch that collects money? Try the cup holders in the car. Still just me? We’ve been studying the first 12 elements on the periodic table, and this little experiment is an easy lesson with some pretty cool chemistry going on. Bonus, it’ll make your gross pennies look brand-spankin’ new. Like magic. Disclaimer: Vinegar is (apparently) the absolute worst smell on the planet. According to my kids, it may kill you with prolonged exposure. You may want to add “noseplug” to your list of materials.

Magic Penny Cleaner

Continue reading

One Thousand Stories to Save Your Life

During the 6 weeks of great composers at CC, we study various composers, the parts of the orchestra and lots of musical vocabulary to give a broader understanding of the fine art of symphonic sound. As a classical music nut, I adore these 6 weeks. I had the opportunity to introduce my kids to Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade this week as we studied the Romantic Period of classical music. I whipped up a little lesson plan that you can easily use to introduce your own kids (or yourself) to this glorious and exciting tale, woven into beautiful melodies!

Continue reading