Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Classical Music

Not too long ago, I listened to a podcast from the CiRCE Institute (Ask Andrew Episode 2). He was asked how to develop a child's appreciation of classical music.

He suggested three things: listen, understand, play.

1)Have your child listen to good music (not lyrics) as early as possible. 
2)Teach your child about the elements and principles of music, so they can understand it.
3)Have your child learn to play an instrument (piano or violin).

I started piano with my preschooler last year, but things really got moving when I established a rule: ten minutes every day of fingers on the keys. I got the idea after reading this:

The author writes that all students should practice 6 days per week.
Ages 3 and 4 - 10 minutes
Ages 5 and 6 - 15 minutes
Ages 7 and 8 - 20 minutes
Ages 9 and 10 - 25 minutes
Ages 11 through 14 - 30 minutes
And that students preparing for a recital should practice an additional 10 minutes per day.

Gemma turned five last week, and on her fifth birthday, I said, "Five and six year olds practice for fifteen minutes a day." I was worried that she would complain or argue, but she didn't. I wasn't prepared for her reaction, so I kept talking, "Seven and eight year olds practice for twenty minutes. Nine and ten year olds practice for twenty-five minutes. And eleven and twelve year olds practice for thirty minutes."

A couple of days later, I came home to find Gemma at the piano, practicing. This was a surprise because she usually practices in the evening, under my supervision. 

"The timer is going," my husband said. 

"For fifteen minutes," Gemma said, "because five and six year olds practice fifteen minutes, and seven and eight year olds practice twenty minutes."

I smiled.

In the car, I have started tuning the radio to the local classical music station while I drive Gemma to places like dance class and swim lessons. It's an effort to balance her taste in music. Daddy is a drummer, so Gemma can often be heard singing Beatles songs or '80s hits like Spandau Ballet's "True." :)

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Easter Week in Review

A little bit of what we did this week...

The Cherubs sang on Palm Sunday.
Natural History/Science/Nature Study
At Classical Conversations, the kids did the streak test with different minerals...
...and tested hardness by scratching a penny.
At the park, trees were climbed...
Art Appreciation
Our home(pre)school co-op's theme this month is Van Gogh. The mom hosting this week did a lesson on self-portraits. We looked at some of Van Gogh's self portraits, paying attention to how he painted himself in 3/4 profile. We also talked about how he used yellow in lots of his paintings, and how he used brush strokes of colors like blue and green when painting his face. Host mom found a great book to use with preschoolers - Vincent's Colors (The Metropolitan Museum of Art). This book focuses on Van Gogh's paintings, as opposed to his life (the details of which are inappropriate for preschoolers). Come to think of it, this book is more in line with Charlotte Mason's ideas about picture study than many art books for children because it doesn't tell the life story of the artist.
This is Gemma's self portrait. No, she is not ill with the blue and green chicken pox. She was painting in the style of Van Gogh.

While traveling, she colored...
That kept her busy for quite a while. Then I read her a couple of chapters of Life of Fred. After the section about Archimedes calculating the number of grains of sand it would take to fill the universe, she decided she needed to write a vigintillion... she did.

At Dollar Tree, we got sidewalk chalk and stencils to decorate Grandma and Poppa's patio...
...and a 
mosaic sticker kit...
...and a couple of coloring & activity books.
One day, we went to Imagine U, a children's museum in Visalia.
When you walk in the door, you see this treehouse...
There is also a "citrus grove." (Citrus is a large part of Central California's economy.)
The "fruit" goes into the box at the far end of the room, gets sucked up to the ceiling through tubes, and travels back to the "trees" to be "picked."
Outside, there is a solar-powered river...
One of my favorite exhibits is the mechanic shop...
There is also an arts & crafts area where Gemma made this:
I'm not an arts & craftsy person - one of the many reasons I gravitate towards CM - but just because Gemma didn't go to a traditional preschool and won't be going to kindergarten doesn't mean she won't have ample opportunities to make bulletin-board-worthy...stuff.

Another day, we played miniature golf...
...and Laser Maze.

I LOVED Laser Maze. The objective is for both players to get to their sensors, touch them at the same time, then get back to the hand scanners at the entrance and touch those at the same time, without touching a laser and setting off the alarm. It was like being in Mission Impossible, but with a four year old. I had to take Gemma across the room to her sensor (a key), leave her with her hand on the sensor, go to my sensor (a stack of money) on a different wall, then go back to get Gemma at the key, and make our way back to the entrance together, to the hand scanners. Here is a picture of us being secret agents:
My mom helped Gemma dye Easter eggs, but Gemma did the decorating all by herself...
On Sunday, we got to spend time with my uncle, aunt, cousin, dad, stepmom, brother, stepsister, and some family friends. We went to church at First Armenian Presbyterian, and then my stepmom made a huge (delicious) lunch.

Our last stop was my husband's parents' ranch. There were tias and tios and cousins, cousins, and more cousins, more food, more eggs to hunt, and a piñata!

Here is Gemma gathering eggs (to eat, not hunt) with Tia Angie...
And here are Ito (Grandpa), Daddy, Ita (Grandma), and Gemma, standing in front of Ito's and Ita's pistachio trees.
We read the book that went with our Resurrection Eggs, and some readings from an Easter devotional. We also read Magic School Bus Gets Baked in a Cake - again (one of Gemma's favorites). 
And Gemma read aloud some more of The Magic Tree House: Dingoes at Dinnertime.

One of the stories I read aloud to Gemma from My Book House was "The Fisherman and His Wife." At dinner Friday night, Gemma surprised me by loudly reciting - out of the blue - "Fish of the sea, come listen to me, for Alice my wife, the plague of my life, has sent me to beg a boon of thee!"

Friday, March 18, 2016

What are the continents?

Last night, while putting stickers in a sticker book about explorers "traveling around the world," my four year old surprised me by naming the continents. When I asked how she knew those, she said that she learned them from her Leapfrog map.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Sweet Books for Beginning Readers

A question on the Ambleside Online forum got me thinking about my favorite books that are: 1)the same reading level as Frog and Toad, and 2)sweet. 

Frog and Toad are level K books (in the Guided Reading leveling system), so I looked back at the level K books my daughter and I have enjoyed, and here is my top eleven list of Sweet Books for Beginning Readers:

1)The Frog and Toad books (Lobel - all of them)
2)Ox-Cart Man
3)The Corduroy books (Freeman)
4)Caps for Sale
5)Curious George (the original)
6)The Frances books (Hoban)
7)If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (the original)
8)Harold and the Purple Crayon (the original)
9)Arthur's Christmas Cookies (Hoban)
10)Nate the Great (the original)
11)The Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa books

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Week in Review

Some of what we did this week...

In addition to our nightly My Book House read alouds, I also read Gemma Pocahontas by the D'Aulaires.

She's currently reading The Magic Tree House: Dingoes at Dinnertime to me.

She did a few pages from Mathematical Reasoning, but she also enjoyed two chapters from (newly arrived) Life of Fred - Apples.
She drew while I read. If you're familiar with the series, you might be able to recognize her drawing of Fred (the square-headed face above the ellipses). The figure to his left is Kingie.

I only ordered Apples, because I want to see if she likes it before I buy more. I have a feeling we'll be buying more.

Nature/Science/Out-of-Doors Life
Here is her window garden after two weeks...
You can't see them, but there are actually have three tiny carrots growing with the bean plants. 

Springing forward means more daylight hours to dig up bugs...
...and rocks...
We started our Resurrection Eggs on Wednesday. We're doing one egg per day, through Easter.
Also, the Cherubs practiced a song for Palm Sunday called Just Give Me Jesus.

Here is the link to the Shout Praises Kids video with lyrics:
Leprechaun Trap
One of my friends organized a "Leprechaun Trap" party. Each preschooler designed a leprechaun trap, and brought them to the party. In addition to showing off their traps, the preschoolers hunted for gold coins, ate rainbow jello, and played on the jungle gym. Gemma's trap was the least elaborate, but she made it without any help (the night before). In my defense, I had parent conferences all week. I have promised myself that next year, at the 2nd Annual Leprechaun Trap Engineering Challenge, I'll plan better. 

Gemma was very happy with her trap, which she made from a Swiffer box. She filled it with rainbow colored feathers, "because leprechauns like rainbows," and a Ziploc baggie. Once inside the box, the leprechaun would "feel very cozy" on all those soft feathers and fall asleep. After the leprechaun fell asleep, Gemma said she would shut the lid, and lock it with the pink wooden anchor. Finally, she would grab the leprechaun and seal him in the Ziploc baggie.
Daddy Has The Best Job
Monday, Daddy took Gemma to Classical Conversations. Tuesday, Daddy took Gemma to the Getty to see Van Gogh's Irises (while Mommy had to stay at work until 7 pm for Open House). Wednesday Daddy took Gemma to Church Mice, and then to the Farmer's Market for strawberries. Thursday, Daddy took Gemma to see a children's play at a nearby theater's homeschool day.

Kiss Me, I'm (Scots) Irish
Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

I ordered her a new Usborne sticker book - Explorers. It has Magellan, Leif Ericsson, Marco Polo, Captain Cook, Roald Amundsen, Columbus, Livingstone, Neil Armstrong, etc. Because of Classical Conversations, she's familiar with many of the names (from the timeline song) and places (from the geography memory work). 

She told me that when she grows up, she's going to be an explorer.
All the Time in the World
I took Gemma to her first documentary Saturday afternoon. It was called All the Time in the World by Suzanne Crocker. The filmmaker and her husband take their children (ages 10, 8, and 4) to live in the Yukon wilderness for nine months without electricity, a phone, or a clock. They "disconnect to reconnect." I highly recommend seeing this if it comes to a theater near you, or renting it when it comes out on DVD. They - obviously - homeschooled for those nine months, and in that time, they read aloud 52 books including Anne of Green Gables, To Kill a Mockingbird, Watership Down, and the entire Little House series (which Suzanne and her husband - in a Q&A after the film - said was like a how-to manual because of how detailed a writer Laura Ingalls Wilder was). Suzanne and her husband would make great guests on Sarah Mackenzie's Read Aloud Revival podcast!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Weeks in Review: Mars Rover, Free Dancing, and No Cavities!

A smidgen of what we did the past two weeks...

In My Book House, our readings included  an excerpt from Heidi, three fairy tales -"The Twelve Dancing Princesses," "Snow White and Rose Red," and Perrault's "Cinderella," and a poem by William Blake. I let Gemma choose what story she wants to hear, and clearly, she's on a fairy tale kick.

The book she was reading to me was The Magic Tree House: Tigers at Twilight. She finished last night.
Nature Study/Science
Gemma planted a window garden with bean seeds and carrot seeds.
Here is what it looked like after a week:
We also put together a simple solar-powered Mars rover. It works. It just moves very s...l...o...w...l...y.
She reviewed Classical Conversations' science memory work by categorizing terms.
She played in rain puddles.

I came home from work one day, about a week ago, to find that Gemma had flipped ahead in her Mathematical Reasoning Level C book to a fill-in-the-blank multiplication chart. And she had filled in some of the blanks. Correctly. She'd never seen a multiplication chart, but because of Classical Conversations' skip counting songs, she recognized some of the patterns.
Not only did she write in some of the answers, she also noticed that the squares of the numbers (another Classical Conversations song) are found on a diagonal from the top left corner to the bottom right corner. She also drew a second diagonal line, which didn't yield a pattern she was familiar with (although, if you go from greatest to least, from 25 to 9, the difference of the numbers increases 1, 3, 5, 7 - odd numbers).

This picture is of Gemma during "free dance."
And here she is practicing a plié.
No cavities! I'm so thankful. My insurance covered sealant, so we sealed Gemma's "groovy" teeth.
She did a couple of Duolingo lessons, and asked to do some pages in her workbook.
Drawing & Art Appreciation
I taught our home(pre)school co-op a lesson about Van Gogh's Irises, to prepare them for their field trip to the Getty to see the real thing. Instead of painting fields of irises, I had them each paint a single flower. We looked at the shapes and colors of the petals, stem, and leaves.
Can you guess whose child rushed ahead and made her leaves before the teacher gave those instructions?