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.
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.
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.
Scientists 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.
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.
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!
I’ve realized over the past few CC years that I’m a game person. I know that when you find the fun in something, snap…the job’s a game! Thank you Mary Poppins. Finding fun in chores is great and all, but I adore actual games. They provide a needed break for learning minds, while still reviewing information. As such, I have a bin full of review games that I play in my CC classroom and at home.
*excuse the marker smudges on the desk — I have a 7 year-old boy*
My Lego loving munchkins enjoy this game tremendously. It’s easy, only requires a printed game board (free printable here!), a few Lego bricks, a die and a minifigure for each player. All stuff you probably have already. Woo-hoo!
Instructions are included with the printable game board. Just ask a review question, roll the dice and proceed around the board, collecting Legos for your tower as you go. Enjoy! Print Lego Game Board and Instructions
My sister is a public school teacher and occasionally we work together to create something for her classroom. Last winter she asked me to put together a snowflake themed writing template for a fun snowman activity. Her students loved it! Yours will too!
The idea is this. Each student gets a snowman template (free printable here) and a LOST! piece of snowflake paper (free printable here). Discuss with your students that every snowflake and snowman looks different. I told my kiddos that God made snowflakes unique — just like He made each person completely amazing and special. Give them some construction paper to create accessories for their snowman/woman. Discuss what kinds of details their snowman/woman might have. Hats (what kind–knit, baseball cap, top hat..), stick arms, gloves or mittens, a scarf, face details, buttons…the possibilities are endless! Then, let them create!
When their snowman has come to life, it’s time to describe it! Each student writes 4 (or more depending on ability) details about their snowman. Feel free to give them starting ideas “My snowman is wearing…” or “My snowman has…” Then, the snowmen and descriptions go up on the wall for others to figure out who’s goes with which description. Yes, someone in our house thought it was very important to have a sun shining down on the snowmen.
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!
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!
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).
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.
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.
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!
Cup board. *C-U-P-B-O-A-R-D* I will never look at the wall of a kitchen without hearing my father’s voice reciting “cup — board — cup — board”. It was tradition in our home to practice spelling words at the dinner table. As a homeschooling family, once the official word list was exhausted, my dad would select whatever term he felt had the best chance of stumping us. Cupboard was one of his more successful offerings.
I recently traveled to Chicago to enhance my copiousness. Yes, that was a stated purpose of the training I received there. To grow my mind and experience an abundance of historical thinking. I love the saying “If you are the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.”, and try to model my relationships after that premise. I’m happiest when surrounded by those who enrich my thoughts and encourage me to develop big ideas. Never was this more true than during my time at CC’s Practicum Speaker Trainer Training. That’s training for those who will be training practicum speakers. A room full of CC folks with a passion for classical education, equipping others and public speaking. It was like returning to the mother ship. These were my people all the way down to our very core.
Intentionally, I scheduled my homeward flight for late in the evening, so I could traipse around Chicago for a day. My primary goal was to see The Art Institute of Chicago’s Impressionism wing. Specifically their room full of Monet. It just so happened my trip coincided with Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the dyeing of the river green. Not a deep natural forest green, but a bright psychedelic emerald. The garish color was mimicked all around me in thousands of people enjoying the celebratory mood of the day. They started partying around noon by 5pm had reached a fever pitch even my Uber driver was anxious to escape as he happily left the city to deposit my un-drunk self at the airport. Apparently I was the only sober fare he had all day.
I’d rambled around the museum for almost two hours enjoying Greek, Roman, Modern and Ancient Indian art, but longing for Impressionists when I caught a glimpse out of the corner of my eye. Just the very edge of a painting hugging a corner two rooms away. I knew instantly it was Monet and proceeded to avoid group tours and step around slow-moving elderly in my haste to see the full painting.
As I stepped into the room, I was overcome with awe. A dozen masterpieces by the great French impressionist encircled me. There to be savored. As I moved around the perimeter, I looked at each painting twice. Once as close as I could muster (without a docent scolding me anyway) to see the smallest detail, then a few steps back to observe the painting in toto. As I repeated this process, my awe gave way to an emotion not easily described, but one which created in my soul a desire to sit and weep.
I am not a crier. Not at movies, Mother’s Day, loss, happiness, not for much of anything do I shed tears. As such, this overwhelming flood of sentiment disquieted me enough that I found a nearby bench and sat struggling to compose myself while gazing at Monet’s Water Lilies.
I lost my battle to hold back tears as I identified the root of my emotion. My eyes were suddenly opened to a little of God’s perspective. As I muddle through life, moving from the mundane of laundry, to the routine of homeschooling, groceries and dishes, I tend to become tunnel visioned. My world seems incredibly small most of the time. I’m just trying to get through the next task, whatever is the most pressing concern or need of those around me. Often, I can’t think past Tuesday to make plans for Friday. As my focus narrows, life becomes a Monet up close. It feels pointless, just a swirl of nothing layered over more meaningless smudges. Life going around again and again in a jumble of details, relationships and tasks, with no value, no broader purpose.
This is where I really lost it and became supremely grateful nobody from training was able to trek to the city with me. Although we get lost in the minutiae of daily life, that is not God’s perspective. In the midst of seeming chaos, of colors that appear misplaced, relationships that look a mess, unrest and disquiet in our souls, He sees the completed master work. Not a brush stroke is wasted or errant. Our lives are His to develop through dusk and light, vibrant color and shadow. Our Lord builds layers that bring out the perfect balanced harmony of the work He is faithful to complete in us. In this life, we see a smidge of nothingness, the tiniest sliver of the finished masterpiece. As the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 13:12 “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.“
As I managed to (finally) get a grip and head out of the room, I glanced back at the painting that first caught my attention and had another realization. If our lives encompass God’s creative genius, shouldn’t they shout His unmistakable composition in the same way Monet’s color and form drew me in from two rooms away? As Christians, our lives should be a demonstration of who the Lord is. His truth, grace, love, patience and gentleness should flow from the canvas of our soul. The mural of our being should be a reflection of The Great Artist who created us. Imperfect and flawed, we are a fallen jumble of brushstrokes when viewed up close, but a stunning expression of the Master’s hand with the proper perspective. His. Monet gave me a glimpse of that viewpoint, and I am eternally thankful.
I’ve been dreading this moment since I first glanced at the lineup of Great Composers for Cycle 1. Handel’s Water Music was no problem, the soothing woodwinds are essentially easy listening, smooth jazz for the 1700’s. Next week I have the privilege of introducing Mozart, the crazy haired, youthful genius of the Classical Period. Who, incidentally is one of my absolute favorite composers. I could listen to his delightful, deceptively simple sounding piano concerto #22 on repeat for hours. However (insert dark foreboding theme music here), this week we are discussing Bach. Fugues and Preludes. Harpsichord Bach. I am not a fan. I know Bach is “the man”. Prolific as a composer and a father (20 kids!). Hard working and methodical in his ability to have every note in exactly the right place. He’s considered a scientist of music. My local classical radio station devotes the noon(ish) hour to him in a segment called “Bach’s Lunch”. That’s my kind of humor, but still…harpsichord? Ugh. It’s just awful.
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!
It’s that time of year again! Time for Classical Conversations six weeks studying orchestra and great composers. This year, we’re tackling the Baroque to Classical periods studying Handel, Bach and Mozart. I’ve said it before, but 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. Today, we’re talking about partying like a rock star king, cruising down the river, with your own trailing dj boat.