Classical Conversations Cycle 2 Orchestra and Composers

Over the 24 weeks of a Classical Conversations year, there are none so glorious as the 6 weeks spent delving into orchestra and great composers. Bold statement? Maybe. Classical music is a balm to my soul, a delight to my ears and my greatest joy in tutoring.

For all my CC peeps, I’ve uploaded my orchestra and composers packet to the shared files on C3. Search under wenderbell and it should be the first result.

For older classes, you’ll find listening maps for Beethoven, Brahms and Dvořák. Also, coloring pages and brief bios for the littles. Plus, a few pages on orchestra instrument families and vocabulary for everyone.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions! All the time notations correlate to the CD included in “Classical Music for Dummies”. Enjoy the next six weeks of Romantic and Classical music!

For all you non-CC folks, I’ll be posting these individually with more details in the coming weeks.

Easy Parts of the Sun Craft

Over the course of our Classical Conversations journey, we’ve memorized over a thousand pieces of information. We’ve filed away verb conjugations, 300+ geographical locations, 161 timeline events, multiplication tables, Latin declensions, historical facts, and many more. Among all this information, there is one catchy song that stands above all the rest. Mary Bryant’s parts of the sun song from Cycle 2. If you are a Classical Conversations family, you know that user marykbry on CC Connected is a God sent angel of Heaven. Seriously, she has something like 250 songs/helps uploaded. I love her.

Anyway, we’ve been singing the parts of the sun song for the past three years and this year, we’ve come full circle to our very first experience with CC. This week, we get to do the parts of the sun again, but since we already have it nailed, I thought a little craft might be fun.

Parts of the Sun Craft: Classical Conversations Cycle 2 Week 8

All you need is some construction paper, glue and a few round things to trace. I looked around my classroom and used the bottom of a cup, a few lids and bottoms of containers.

3 pieces yellow construction paper
2 pieces red construction paper
1 piece orange construction paper
scrap white paper (for the solar flares)

Circles from largest to smallest with my diameter dimensions:
Red & Yellow  7 3/4 inches
Orange 6 1/2 inches
Yellow 5 1/4 inches
Red 2 1/2 inches

Then you’ll need a squiggly yellow circle(ish) that’s larger than the biggest (red/yellow) circles. This will serve as your corona. Finally, you’ll need to cut out a few small spots in orange, and some solar flares in white. Here are all the parts. I used orange and yellow layers glued together for the radiative zone since every diagram of the sun I found had this zone in multiple colors.

Parts of the Sun Craft: Classical Conversations Cycle 2 Week 8Scientists who study the Sun usually divide it up into three main regions: the Sun’s interior, the solar atmosphere, and the visible “surface” of the Sun which lies between the interior and the atmosphere. The nice thing about this craft is that the photosphere layer (with sunspots and solar flares glued to it) covers up the interior parts of the sun. As you can see, the photosphere layer and all the layered interior parts are the same size.

Parts of the Sun Craft: Classical Conversations Cycle 2 Week 8

So, when you stack all the pieces, you get the part we actually see (the “surface” of the sun) on top. The corona is the sun’s transparent atmosphere, but it’s hard to make a craft of something you can’t see, so I made it yellow. Also, remember this craft does not include every single part of the sun as it’s meant to partner with the CC memory work which is “some parts of the sun”.  For more details on the nitty-gritty breakdown of the sun’s atmosphere, check out The Center for Science Education.

Parts of the Sun Craft: Classical Conversations Cycle 2 Week 8
If you are the type of person who has felt or fabric around, this would be fun to make out of those materials too. I (of course) laminated my pieces so they can be used for years to come. Have I mentioned my love affair with my laminator? I’m sure I have. It’s true love. Enjoy making this craft!

Parts of the Sun Craft: Classical Conversations Cycle 2 Week 8

Water Cycle in a Bag

Seattleites are overly familiar with the water cycle. Specifically the precipitation portion. Yet, carry an umbrella on the streets and you might as well wear a sign proclaiming “Tourist!!”. This weekend during our first soccer games (three of them…how is this possible given I only have TWO children?), my Tennessee transplanted friend commented on the rows of parents shielding themselves from the sweltering (70 degrees) heat, “This is the only time you ever see Seattle people with umbrellas…when it’s sunny.”.  Hahaha! It’s so true!

Water Cycle in a Bag -- Dissonant Symphony

Back to the point. This cycle in Classical Conversations we’ll be memorizing the natural cycles and since it’s our second time through (how is it possible we’re entering year 4 of homeschooling?), I thought we’d add to our memory work with a little hands on example. I found a great idea (thanks Pinterest!) for a Water Cycle in a Bag that only needed a few supplies, all of which I had in the house already. Easy science that costs nothing? Boom. I’m in.

You’ll need a sandwich sized Ziploc baggie, 1/4 cup of water, a smidge of blue food coloring, sharpie (for drawing on the bag), and a piece of tape. Draw a sun and a cloud on the outside of the baggie, add the food coloring to your water, then the water to your baggie. Tape it to a window where you’ll get sunshine and watch the magic!

Water Cycle in a Bag - Dissonant Symphony

If you want to be really fancy, you can label your bag with the various parts of the water cycle, but I just talked to my kids as the process got going. Tiny droplets as water evaporates as it’s heated by the sun. The water turns from a liquid to a gas, but with nowhere to escape from the bag, it cools and turns back into a liquid (condensation).

Water Cycle Evaporation and Condensation - Dissonant Symphony

The droplets that have condensed will continue to grow in size as more water turns to gas, and back to liquid. Usually this process is happening high in the sky, and we know it’s happening because clouds form as a result of condensation.

Water Cycle Condensation - Dissonant Symphony

You can see that our droplets are getting larger. Actually, we were able to watch the condensation happen right before our eyes. Pay close attention to the video and you’ll see the droplets joining together and growing! It’s alive!! Run for your lives!

When the droplets get too big and heavy, they begin to drip down the sides of our bag, leaving trails behind. Precipitation happens exactly the same way when water droplets within clouds get too heavy and fall back to earth as rain. Conveniently, our “rain” fell right beneath our cloud drawing.

Water Cycle Precipitation -- Dissonant Symphony

Who knew water evaporating, condensing and precipitating could be so fascinating? My kids check on our baggie about a dozen times a day and are making all kinds of connections to how temperature affects evaporation based on their observations. This little project has prompted lots of great questions and discussion — which for kids, is what science should be all about anyway!


ZAP! Review Game

My ZAP! board has been lurking in my classroom closet most of our CC year and this week it makes its grand debut in my Masters/Journeymen class of 3rd-5th graders. This game holds the edge-of-your-seat suspense of not knowing whether you’ll be rewarded or punished each turn. You may inflict the agony of losing points on the opposing team, or (GASP!) lose your points instead! Who knows? The uncertainty is thrilling!

Zap! Review Game - Dissonant Symphony
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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)
A large drinking glass or flower vase

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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

Bending A Straw With Light

One of our very first experiments was exploring one of the characteristics of light. Our Classical Conversations science memory work this week was “What are three characteristics of light?”. One of the terms we covered was refraction. Which is exactly what this super easy experiment demonstrates — you probably have all the necessary items in your house already.

You only need:
A straw (or pencil)
A clear glass
Full printable instructions and simple refraction explanation: Bending a Straw With Light
or here: Pencil Refraction Continue reading