Shakespeare in the Homeschool

I am super excited that last week we finally got around to doing something I have been meaning to do for years –  an in-depth study of Shakespeare! I am no expert on the Bard, and honestly…

I feel a bit intimidated by the whole thing!

But I am determined to make it work, and I’m also feeling pretty enthusiastic!

For the record, my kids’ did not have a very enthusiastic first reaction. However, by the end of our first session things were looking up, and they were finding the whole thing amusing if nothing else…so I’m hopeful that this will be a positive experience for us.

The plan is to spend around 45 minutes a day, a few times a week, on our Shakespeare study.

I’m pulling from a few different resources for this study.

For the foundation of our study, I signed us up for the self-paced course 10 Weeks of Shakespeare from Music in Our Homeschool. We are working our way through it a bit each day, so it will probably take us less than ten weeks since it’s designed to be done once a week.

We began Week 2 today, and so far, so good. I am grateful to have a helping hand to organize the start of our study! So far, we have viewed both animated and live-action versions of Act 1 of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, spent some time reading through the original script on our own, learned about Iambic Pentameter and how to read Shakespeare aloud, and lots more!

The course uses the two bottom books pictured above:

How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare by Ken Ludwig

and

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars by Ian Doescher

I was able to find both books at my library. We are using the Ken Ludwig book to memorize and analyze lines of Shakespeare’s plays. My kids are picking up the memorization much more quickly than I am! I was a bit skeptical about memorizing lines, but it’s giving us a real feel for the language. Plus, it’s pretty darn exciting when we hear “our” line in one of the video clips we watch! And the Star Wars book is a blast! My kids are super familiar with Star Wars and we have had fun reading it in Shakespeare-style.

I also have Simply Charlotte Mason’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare in Three Steps) on hand and plan to use it to walk us through the whole play after we finish our introductory course.

An excellent companion to all of this is No Fear Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  I found my copy at Barnes and Noble and there were several other titles there. It includes the full script of the play side-by-side with a plain English translation. We have been using it along with the above course whenever we are prompted to read directly from the play.

And then we have lots of other resources I plan to pull in here and there as we have time. We may not get to these until after we finish our introductory course.

They include:

We also have several titles from the Shakespeare Can be Fun! series.

There are several other titles available.

For listening/viewing, we have:

Shakespeare 4 Kidz Macbeth

and

Arkangel Shakespeare’s Macbeth

I have had many of these resources on the shelf for years — with good intentions and no follow through. It was exciting to dust them off!

And that’s how we are doing Shakespeare in our homeschool this year!

Homeschool Curriculum Picks for 2018-2019

It’s August already! I am not sure where the time went! We won’t be starting “school” till after Labor Day, but I’ve been working on plans.  I will have a 12th grader who will be taking classes at the local community college. And then I will be homeschooling a 10th, 8th, and 5th grader.

Here’s what we plan to do, and what we’re going to use to do it!

LANGUAGE ARTS

My 5th grader will use:

My 8th grader will use:

My 10th grader will use:

Everyone will participate in:

MATH

My 5th grader will use:

My 8th grader will use:

My 10th grader will use a combination of:

All three will use:

CRITICAL THINKING

My 5th grader will use:

My 8th & 10th graders will use:

Everyone will do:

LITERATURE & HISTORY

My 5th grader will use:

My 8th grader will use:

My 10th grader will use:

All three will use:

SCIENCE

My 5th grader will use:

My 8th grader will concentrate on forensic science using:

My 10th grader will use:

In addition, I am hoping to do nature journaling once a month or so with these references to help inspire us:

FOREIGN LANGUAGE

My 5th grader will use:

My 8th grader will use:

My 10th grader will use:

ART

My 5th grader will use:

My 8th & 10th graders will continue with:

All three will do:

MUSIC

My 5th grader will use:

My 8th and 10th graders will listen to:

And I think that’s it! It looks like a lot all typed out here, but I’m feeling excited!

Maestro Classics: A Little Review

My fourth grader and I have been using Maestro Classics to round out our music study this year. She began the year by listening through all of the Classics for Kids CD’s, which she very much loved. In my search for something similar, I came across Maestro Classics. We ordered two to start with…Peter and the Wolf and Swan Lake.

These CD’s were in instant hit with both of us! We have since listened to The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and we’re currently working through The Nutcracker. We have developed a routine for listening to these, which I’m going to share along with a few thoughts on this resource.

Each Maestro Classics CD is like a self-contained little unit study.

There are two parts of this program…a little activity booklet and the CD itself. Each title is also available as an MP3 with a downloadable activity book, but I’m old-fashioned, so I chose the CD:).

Each of the four CD’s we have listened to has been around an hour long. The content of the CDs varies a bit. The Story of Swan Lake begins with 30 minutes of music interspersed with a narrative story. This is followed by a short talk about Tchaikovsky’s life, then we get to listen to the band Speed Metal Swan play some music from Swan Lake ~ with an electric guitar! There is another track with interesting information about the music, then a short track that sets some fun lyrics to music from Swan Lake ~ which really helps you remember the tune!

The little booklets are beautifully illustrated.  Again, these vary by title, so I’ll just share a bit of what’s in this one. There is a page about Tchaikovsky…

A double page spread devoted to the orchestra….

A little rebus story to read, plus a dot-to-dot, and several more pages.

We take about four sessions to finish each Maestro Classics title, probably about two hours total. In the first session, we listen to half of the CD and do a page or two of the booklet.  In the second, we listen to the other half of the CD and do a couple more pages of the booklet. For our third and fourth sessions, we complete whatever parts of the booklet we haven’t gotten to, and listen to the main track containing the music/narration once or twice more.

I would recommend Maestro Classics for about K-5 grade, or up until 10. Younger kids could certainly enjoy the titles and there are a couple of titles I imagine would be great for preschoolers- like Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel and The Tortoise and the Hare. We haven’t tried any of those, but they sound wonderful for a younger child. I have gotten a lot out of this program myself, so older kids would definitely learn from the program, but I do think the narration style and booklet activities are best suited for the under-10 crowd (or a multi-age group). There are two CD’s recommended by Maestro Classics for “older kids” ~ The Soldier’s Tale and The Merry Pranks of Master Till. We have not listened to these yet, but they are on my wishlist for next year.

Maestro Classics also has free curriculum guides on their website with extension ideas for each title. We have done a few of the extra activity ideas and enjoyed them. After finishing Peter and the Wolf for example, we watched Disney’s Anastasia, mapped Prokofiev’s travels, and read about the history of Matryoshka dolls.

Maestro Classics has been a great addition to our elementary homeschool music study!

Our Homeschool Foreign Language This Year

This is an ongoing series where I share how we have been doing different subjects in our homeschool this year. This is how we are doing foreign language this year with kiddos in 4th, 7th, 9th, and 11th grade….

11th grade: Our eldest is taking Spanish at a local community college this year. It has been a really fantastic experience for her and I will definitely take this route with my other kids if they have an interest. In my opinion, unless you have a convenient friend or relative who speaks Spanish fluently, a real live class is the way to go at this age. She has learned so much more than she ever did from anything we tried at home. She is currently on her second semester of Spanish, with plans to continue her study next year. She has class two mornings a week.

9th grade: For my ninth grade son this year, we chose Fluenz Spanish. We had tried Rosetta Stone in the past (with our oldest) and she got through two levels of it without really feeling like she retained or understood much. The reviews of Fluenz seemed more positive, so we decided to give it a whirl. There is no speech recognition software with Fluenz like there is with Rosetta Stone. So when he does Spanish, he is just listening and typing answers.  I have encouraged him to repeat after the speaker, but that rarely happens.  I do try to ask him most days to tell me something he learned in Spanish to try to get him speaking at least a little bit. This said, he enjoys the program and it is one of the first things he chooses to do each day (and he does do it most days), so in that regard it is definitely working! I only wish there was an easy way for us to each have our unique account with the program so I could try to do it along with him. 

Also with my 9th grader, and my 7th grader, we are doing Latin this year with First Form Latin. We typically do Latin 4-5 days a week. I love this program, and I reviewed it earlier this year.

 

 

7th grade: My seventh grader is puttering around with Duolingo French this year, in addition to his Latin study. He does French for for about 15 minutes, 3 days a week. Next year, we will probably choose something a bit more intensive, but I wanted him to have a light year this year since we are also studying Latin.

4th grade: My fourth grader is studying Spanish and Latin this year. We do Latin about 4 days a week, for 15 minutes each day, using Prima Latina ~ review here.

We do Spanish 3-4 days a week, for 20-30 minutes each time using La Clase Divertida, which we love. I am hoping to get a review of this program up soon to share how we are using it. But basically, we take two weeks to cover each lesson. We watch the lesson on DVD multiple times and use the practice CD a couple times during those two weeks. She also completes two workbook pages per lesson, then we wrap the lesson up with a fun project.  Each lesson has a craft, recipe, or puppet show to watch. We are having a ton of fun with this program and we will definitely be using Level 2 next year.

And that’s how we’re doing foreign language in our homeschool this year! I’m happy to answer any questions; just leave me a comment ~ and thanks for stopping by!

 

Our Homeschool Science this Year

This is an ongoing series where I share how we’re doing different subjects in our homeschool this year. You can see my previous post “Our Homeschool Language Arts this Year” here.

And here’s how we’re doing science this year!

11th grade: My 11th grader started out the year with Oak Meadow Environmental Science but to be honest, she hasn’t gotten far with it. I am hoping one of my other kids will pick it up at a future date because it was a bit spendy! She is currently “outsourcing” her science by taking an Intro to Psychology course at the local community college and will probably continue on that path next year.

9th grade: My 9th grader is using Apologia Biology this year and we have been pretty happy with it. It is definitely a Christian-based program and we are a secular homeschool, but it has not felt like an issue at all. There is an occasional religious sentence or two here and there, but the science is solid and I am really pleased with the friendly tone it’s presented in. Much more interesting than I remember science textbooks being!  We got the CD-ROM version with the schedule from Sonlight and this has made completing the work much more do-able for both of us. The schedule breaks everything down into manageable pieces to complete each day and lets him know what he needs to have on hand for upcoming experiments. The CD-ROM has been great and I am glad we chose it over the traditional text. I think reading the material on the computer feels less intimidating than having a giant science book to get through. Throughout the text there are links to short videos. You can also click on many unfamiliar words to hear them pronounced, which I think is an awesome feature since I am terrible at pronouncing unfamiliar terms.

Apologia Biology Student Text ~ I chose to order the CD-ROM version from Sonlight

I also purchased the student notebook from Apologia for him and it has really made organizing all the notes and studying for the quizzes much easier. This is the first time  he has experienced a course where he was expected to take notes and study for tests, and I am glad he’s getting this experience. The only downside I have found is that if you don’t get to it every day (we have trouble with this) it’s easy to get behind. I would prefer to move on to chemistry (or something else) next year, so we may end up finishing this one up over the summer. The experiments so far have been successful and easy to do, but we’re not up to the dissections yet, so ask me again in a few weeks! He does this program independently, but I do check in to see what he has done each day and remind him when he needs to get ready for a quiz or a lab. He probably spends 45 minutes a day, on average, on this course.

7th grade: My 7th grader is using BookShark Science 7 this year, which comes with a daily schedule ~ my favorite way to do science, otherwise I find it tends to get put off! We have been mostly happy with this program. He has enjoyed the book selection so far, especially Cool Stuff 2.0 which he was very happy to see in his book pile. We started out having him do the questions provided with my Instructor Guide but he tends to get bogged down answering those, so we have switched to mostly discussing them. This has really saved him a lot of time and I find I get better, more detailed answers than when I have him write the answers out. I love the diversity of topics and titles in this level – there are books about robotics, canals and dams, garbage, weather, the Industrial Revolution, and more. The only downside we have found is that some of the experiments have been disappointing. Some of them were a bit “fussy”, some of them just plain didn’t work, and at least one didn’t seem doable. A few weeks ago, for example, we were instructed to create a robot, bring it to a crowded setting, and operate it secretly to observe people’s reactions. We quickly realized that with today’s security concerns it was probably not a smart idea to set something like that loose in a crowd of people! I have been letting him pick and choose from among the experiments and he probably does about every other one or so.

A few of the books scheduled in this level:


4th grade: Last, but not least, my 4th grader is using Sonlight Science D this year. She is really enjoying it so far. Like BookShark and Apologia, we have a daily schedule for this one and she has no problem keeping up with it. So far, she has read a book about Rachel Carson, learned about seas and oceans, read a Magic School Bus book about the human body, and spent a lot of time reading her favorite book, Mysteries and Marvels of Nature. She loves checking out the internet-links for that title after she reads. We are currently working through TOPS Radishes, as mentioned in my last post. We have a “divide and conquer’ approach to this curriculum that is working well. She reads some of it to herself, answers most of the questions on the activity sheets provided, and checks out the internet links on her own if she’s reading an internet-linked book. I read some of the more complex books with her, watch the science DVD with her when we’re scheduled to, and assist with experiments.

A few of the books scheduled in this level:

 

And that’s how we’re doing science in our homeschool this year…thanks for reading!

Our Homeschool Language Arts this Year

Hello! I hope you are having a wonderful homeschool week! I am planning to do a series on the blog about how we are doing different subjects in our homeschool this year with all the different ages we have. I’m happy to answer any questions about the resources we are using; just leave me a comment on this post.

First up is language arts. For us, this subject includes grammar, writing, spelling or vocabulary work, and handwriting practice. Here’s how we are handling language arts in our homeschool this year:

11th grade

Grammar: I have decided to let my 11th grader be done with grammar.  She has completed all three seasons of Analytical Grammar and had started on one of that company’s high school review books but was finding it a bit tedious. She has done grammar every year since she was six and feels like she has gotten everything from it she can. So we have dropped this as a formal subject.

Writing: We decided to give Bravewriter’s online classes a try this year and I am so glad we did. She enrolled in Expository Essay: Exploratory and Persuasive to start off the fall, then finished the fall semester by doing Nanowrimo. She is beginning Bravewriter’s Expository Essay: Rhetorical Critique and Analysis this week, which is kind of a “part two” of the first class she took. She has really enjoyed the Bravewriter class format and feels it has been a really good experience for her as she transitions to college classes (she is dual-enrolled at a local community college). I plan to have my other kids also take Bravewriter classes in high school so they get to experience someone besides me giving them feedback on their writing. Besides this, her writing is primarily taking place through her other subjects and dual enrollment classes.

Vocabulary – She is completing the Vocabulary from Classical Roots series by finishing up Book E, which will complete her formal study of this subject.

9th grade and 7th grade

My two boys overlap a bit, so I’m going to combine them here…

Grammar: My 9th grader (and my 7th grader) are working through Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind. We have kind of a mixed bag reaction to this resource. My kids, to be honest, protest when I bring it out. But, being one of those people who really sees the importance of grammar, I have asked them to go through a year of it. The program is designed to be repeated every year, but we’ll most likely find something different for next year.  I personally think it’s a very thorough, rigorous program, but in my house it causes a lot of whining so I don’t think it will have staying power.  We have compromised by doing whatever we can orally and only completing half of the diagrams for each lesson. We try to cover 2-3 lessons per week.

 

 

Writing: Both my 9th and 7th graders are working through the fifth book of Writing Strands. We use this book in a bit of a loose manner, in that I don’t require the boys to do all of the assignments. They look at each assigned writing project as they get to it and decide if they want to tackle it or not. If not, I ask them to write up a nonfiction paper on something that interests them instead. Writing Strands is quite creative-writing oriented, which sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t, so this has been our solution.  They just work a bit on either their Writing Strands assignment or other writing project a bit each day; we don’t try to stick to the exact daily assignments in the book. I am currently trying to decide if I want to introduce more Bravewriter-style writing projects as another alternative to the Writing Strands assignments.

Spelling and Vocabulary: My 9th grader is finished with spelling (he did the Spelling Workout series) and is working on vocabulary now with Wordly Wise 9. He does a few pages each week and at the end of each lesson we do an oral quiz on the words before he moves on to the next lesson. Easy and pretty painless.  My 7th grader is working through Spelling Workout G, at the rate of about one lesson per week.

 

.

4th grade

Grammar: My fourth grader is working through First Language Lessons 4. I really, really love First Language Lessons for elementary (review here). It has just the right amount of rigor, and there’s even a bit of fun sprinkled throughout the lessons. Last week, for example, we made a sandwich and used the process to review prepositions.  We usually do 2-3 lessons a week.

Writing: She is using Writing Strands 4. I modify the assignments for her as needed. For example, she just had an assignment to draw a floor plan of the whole house and then write a description for each room. I had a feeling that assignment  might cause a meltdown, so we have been working together on a description of just one room (we skipped the floor plan idea entirely). I also give her the option of other writing assignments if one of the Writing Strands assignments doesn’t catch her fancy.

Spelling: She is working through Spelling Workout D, usually completing one lesson each week.

Handwriting: My fourth grader is also doing handwriting practice, just a bit each day. She is using Zaner-Bloser for this (book 4).

In addition to the above, I am also using Five in a Row Volume 4 with her, which includes a language arts component for each book. This is just a fun extra for her right now and we are taking a few weeks to “row” each book. Our current book is Snowflake Bentley.

And that’s how we’re doing language arts this year in our homeschool!

The IKEA Raskog Cart for Homeschooling

I picked up a Raskog cart on one of last year’s IKEA jaunts. I am pretty much in love with this little cart! For the first few months it lived in our laundry room holding detergent and bleach and other not-so-exciting-but-necessary-stuff. One day I was dragging books out of our home library to start our homeschool day, and it occurred to me that  wheels would make the job a heck of a lot easier and more fun. So the little cart moved into our library and now I use it to store the books I need to work with the kids each day.

Every morning I wheel this baby out to the kitchen, where it is central to everything we are doing. We are very much a “homeschool all over the place family” but I tend to center operations in the kitchen. I originally thought I would store supplies like pencils, erasers, scissors and such plus books on this cart, but we have a lot of books so there is not enough space. On my next trip to IKEA, I am planning to get my Raskog a sibling and use her to store those sorts of things.

I use this cart for the books I need most days and the contents switch up as we finish books and start others. Each kiddo also has a crate of independent materials. So the cart is really for the subjects I do with them. I arrange the contents in roughly the order we work each day. I start the day with my youngest and the top shelf holds:

 

Going down a shelf, my older kiddos do much more work independently, so their shelves are shared.

On the middle shelf, I have:

 

Then, on the bottom shelf I have:

DSC_0048

I honestly could not do without my little cart….and as a plus, it is just too cute. The only thing I am sad about is that I really wanted to get a blue one, but they were out of stock and it seems they don’t make a blue Raskog anymore. This color is the red/brown and I like it, but I have my fingers crossed there will be another fun and different color by the time I make it back to IKEA.