Why is the Harpsichord So Awful?

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.

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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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Party Cruise Tunes for King George

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.

Great Composers
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Card Countdown Math Game

In my ever continuing mission to make math practice enjoyable for my kids (or at least not torturous), I put together this little game based off one I saw in a Scholastic card game math book. You’ll need a deck of cards (jokers and faces removed) and printed copy of the game board for each person playing.

This Card Countdown Game provides practice subtracting in a fun and (if you want) competitive/speedy manner. The goal is to subtract down from 100 using a deck of cards to determine the next number you’ll be taking away from your previous total. Printable game boards and instructions at the bottom of this post, the image below is just so you can see what I’m talking about.

Card Countdown Game Board
My daughter and I played a few rounds today as some additional math practice, and had a grand old time. Way more fun than flashcards and still provided the opportunity for speedy mental math. Also, when everyone gets to zero, you swap boards and “correct” the work by adding up from the bottom. I don’t know about you, but I love anything that shows my kids the correlation between addition/subtraction and checking your work by doing the opposite function.

I slipped the game boards into a sheet protector, and used dry erase markers to keep track, but you can just print and pencil if that floats your boat. Enjoy! Happy Math-ing!

Print Card Countdown Game Board and Instructions

 

Classical Conversations Cycle 1 Copywork

Hello to everyone visiting in search of Classical Conversations copywork for Cycle 1. All of my copywork pages will be posted to CC Connected (C3) under the username “Wenderbell”.

Currently I’ve received requests for:
*Full page History copywork with blank top half for coloring
*Full page Geography copywork with map
*Two page weekly review copywork with all subjects but Timeline, including a map

Weeks 1-12 History and Geography copywork have been posted to C3 already and by the end of the day I’ll have up the weekly review sheets for weeks 1-12. The second semester will be posted by the end of August.

As we get closer to the end of the CC year, I’ll have my listening maps and orchestra pages done for this cycle as well.

If you have any questions, or specific requests, feel free to shoot me a message through the blog! I’m so happy to hear that these review/copywork pages were helpful to you all last year!

Pit Stop Popsicle Shop

One of my greatest struggles is giving my kids the latitude to explore their own ideas…but I know it’s really beneficial for them to go from concept to reality. The process of questioning them, prodding them, and convincing them to think deeper about their ideas is exhausting. It’s so much easier to just tell them what to do, but I know helping them process their thoughts in a logical manner will translate into learning anything well. Last summer, they had a “brilliant idea” to earn money. They would collect sticks from around the neighborhood and then sell bundles of them for $20 each. Genius right? They were highly disappointed when folks weren’t eagerly flocking to the stick stand. I took this opportunity to teach them the beautiful concept of supply and demand as well as some basic capitalistic principles.

Pit Stop Popsicle Shop

First, I questioned them about what they get excited to buy when it’s hot out (as it was that week). I asked if sticks were helpful or useful, if $20 was a fair price that others would pay. I suggested selling something they personally would love, and for a price they’d be willing to pay. My munchkins put their heads together, and thus the Pit Stop Popsicle Shop adventure was born. Continue reading

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.

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