Evaluating our School Year: Shakespeare


This post is part of a series I'm doing as a way to evaluate our school year.  I am covering each subject, describing what we did; what worked for us and what didn't work; and detailing any changes I plan to make.  I find this process so helpful as I finish out our year and before I begin to plan for our next year.  
~

Shakespeare
I was won over to the idea of studying Shakespeare with my kids, years ago- after reading Linda Fay's post called What's So Great About Shakespeare?  I was mainly fascinated with how many words and phrases Shakespeare added to the English language.

However, I personally felt inadequate to teach Shakespeare, seeing as how I've only ever read three plays: Hamlet, Macbeth, and King Lear-- eons ago, back in high school.  I got through them only because I had Cliff notes and I had no appreciation for the plays at all.

(Also, doesn't it always sounds so hoity-toity to mention to anyone that you're studying Shakespeare in your homeschool?)  So I had an aversion to that, too.  But I decided to give it a try, and I am now so glad I did.  We all really like Shakespeare.

NOTE: Everything we do is what I gleaned from Linda's blog years ago, so truly none of the following ideas are original to me.  


WHAT WE DO:
I give each of the kids a 3x3 grid.  You can easily have the kids draw out their own grids, but I have a document that I just print out each time.  (You'll see those in the following photos.)

I draw up my own grid on a dry erase board:

Or, on Mark's day off, he does:
 
WHATEVER.  Totally one-upping me with his fancy drawings.  Look at that king!  (No, it was actually really fun for me to come home to this ^ the first time he did Shakespeare with the kids on his day off, because he obviously ROCKED it, and I was so proud.)

Isaias'
As each character is introduced, we all take time to draw that character, assigning one character per box.  We've done this for years and it really helps us all keep track of the characters.  If needed, we can add notes or drawings in the appropriate box as a particular character's story progresses.

Gracious! This makes me happy.  This is Adelia's, from a couple of years ago.
I read aloud, pausing with each new character for maybe 3-5 minutes to give us all time to sketch.  [Some of my children want their drawings *just so*, so I often will encourage those children to perfect their drawings a bit more later so that the rest of us can move along.]

Audra's
 I used to read from Nesbit's Beautiful Stories From Shakespeare, but I've since switched to Charles and Mary Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare
Isaac's
We may do 3-5 characters each reading, and we rarely finish an entire play in one sitting. The following week, I have the kids pull out their papers and narrate back to me what has happened.  The grid format helps with this, because I can call on a child, pick a character, and say, "Tell me what you remember about _________."  And then choose another character for the next child.

Ella's
I pull out my dry erase board again and we continue reading, filling in more characters as we come to them.  We continue on in this way for 2-3 weeks, usually, until we're through a play.

Example: Here is week two of King Lear, so my drawings have been added to Mark's drawings from the previous week:


And that is how we learn Shakespeare.  It's simple and effective.  We have learned several plays this way over the years: Twelfth Night, Measure for Measure, As You Like It, Macbeth, Hamlet, Taming of the Shrew, Merchant of Venice, A Winter's Tale, King Lear, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (for this one I had purchased a picture book of the play and my kids all loved that.)  I may be missing a couple of plays we've done but those are the ones I remember.  After doing Taming of the Shrew we did rent the video (the one with Elizabeth Taylor in it) and watched it.

If you're unfamiliar with William Shakespeare, I'd also like to mention this picture book as a good resource: Shakespeare: His Work and His World by Michael Rosen. This is a great book for understanding the world Shakespeare came from and highlights excerpts from his plays throughout.   

CHANGES FOR NEXT YEAR:
For this next year, we're going straight to the play itself.  I'm going to choose a play, hand each (reading) child a copy, assign parts and we're going to act it out somewhat, using Shakespeare's own words.  I'm excited to try this.

Please let me know if you have any questions!

Evaluating our School Year: Composer Study


This post is part of a series I'm doing as a way to evaluate our school year.  I am covering each subject, describing what we did; what worked for us and what didn't work; and detailing any changes I plan to make.  I find this process so helpful as I finish out our year and before I begin to plan for our next year.  
~
Composer Study 
This will be short and sweet, because it really isn't that complicated.  The whole idea is that we will just listen and enjoy beautiful classical music.  So we do that.  :) 

Ambleside has a Composer Schedule with links to various works, so that is where I go to find composers.

WHAT WE DO: 
We listened to the music of two composers this year:
Sergei Rachmaninoff (6 works)
Johannes Brahms (6 works)

I have it on the schedule once a week, and I will often play it while we're doing chores (cleaning up the kitchen, sweeping the floor, folding laundry, etc.) or while the kids are drawing.  I will just say the name of the composer, trying my best to pronounce it ;) and we'll simply listen.

That's ALL!

Garden goodness: Preserving it all

My apologies for the delay in getting a new post up, friends.  It has just been busy around here.  Mark and I were able to get away for a few days last week, just the two of us, which I am so thankful for. We stayed at a bed & breakfast, took long walks together, watched the Olymics, watched a movie, read our books, prayed together, ate great food, and rested well.  It was delightful.

Prior to that I did a lot of dehydrating.  Lots of apples.  And then I made some applesauce:


Have I ever shown you one of my favorite things?  THIS is my making-applesauce friend:

You just slice the apples (removing the core, but leaving the peel on), boil the apples in a bit of water for a few minutes until they're soft, and then dump them into this sieve thing, and use that wooden mallet to shove them down and to the sides, add cinnamon and sugar to taste and you get applesauce. 

I also made some jam and did some canning:



 

Our garden is growing lots of green beans right now.  I wasn't up to canning beans, so I used this method again to pickle some vegetables to keep in the fridge. This year I did carrots, green beans, onions, cucumbers and peppers (the carrots and green beans were the only thing from our garden.)  

We're also getting tons of these delicious Sun Gold Cherry Tomatoes, which I've dried and frozen whole and eaten fresh.  But my VERY FAVORITE way to eat them this summer is to roast them.  Slice them (or any other tomato from your garden) in half and put them on a cookie sheet (on parchment paper or silpat).  Peel some garlic cloves, slice them, and throw those in there, too.  Then add some fresh herbs.  Basil or thyme is what I have, so that's what I've done.  Then drizzle a bit of olive oil on the top of it all, sprinkle some salt, and roast in the oven for about an hour (at 250 or 300 degrees).  This makes them all mushy and yummy, like a paste.

If you have a baguette or some crusty bread or crackers or anything like that?  Grab that, spread on some goat cheese, and then dollop some of your yummy roasted tomatoes on the top of that and you will be SO HAPPY.  Yum.


Later this week I will get back to my Evaluating our School Year homeschool series.  Which feels weird since I'm actually beyond that, now, and am in full-on planning mode already for next year, but I will press on.  ;)

Oh!  You may notice some changes here on the blog- with design and layout.  I'm working on changing it but it will be wonky until it's all settled.  Bear with me. 

Love to you all,
~Stacy

Legacy

I had a homeschooling post due to go up today, but my heart isn't in it.

On Monday, my beloved grandpa Jake died.  He now rests exactly where he has been longing to be for so many years: in his eternal home, with his Savior.
 
Grandpa was a hard-working businessman.  He was faithful, generous, compassionate, and a friend to all.  He shared the gospel with many.  He lived a life that was marked by his love for God.  He'd meet a man who had fallen on hard times, offer him a job, and a place to live.  In his home. 

He and grandma had compassion on refugees, and sponsored, then adopted them into their family.  He cared deeply for the needy, and was generous to all.  He seemed to know people everywhere he went, and if he didn't, he was friends with them in minutes. 


He and grandma had 8 children, 26 grandchildren, and 67 great-grandchildren.

I can't begin to express to you the gratitude I feel for getting to belong to this family.  I keep thanking God that He chose the best of the best, the very finest-- of grandparents, on both sides-- for me.  My grandparents' love for Jesus and lives poured out for Him has shaped me into the person that I am.  I have such fondness, affection, and high regard for them. 

Their faith, modeled and lived out by their own parents has been passed down to their children and their children's children and their children's children's children.  This is what the Bible talks about in the Old Testament when God exhorts His people to keep His decrees and commands so that the next generation might fear God.  They were so faithful, and I am a recipient of their faithfulness.  


My grandpa was one of the few good men in my life.  When my dad left mom when I was just a little girl, I felt abandoned.  Both of my grandpas exemplified faithfulness, strength and security for me.  They were trustworthy men who kept their promises.  They are the men who stayed in my life.  Grandpa Jake in particular, with grandma, showed up at all the birthdays and big events.  I am so grateful to God for this.

I wish this kind of family for everyone.  It's a beautiful thing.  There are so many, many memories.  I can't recount them all, though I've tried in my journal these past few days.  Probably my fondest memories surround Sunday lunches at grandpa and grandma's house, all the extended family gathered round-- aunts, uncles, cousins galore.  Food waiting, everyone joining hands for prayer.  Grandpa, pulling out his handkerchief to wipe his tears because he always got that way during hymns and prayers; simply because he felt so blessed by God's great mercy.

~

Evaluating our School Year: Picture Study

This post is part of a series I'm doing as a way to evaluate our school year.  I am covering each subject, describing what we did; what worked for us and what didn't work; and detailing any changes I plan to make.  I find this process so helpful as I finish out our year and before I begin to plan for our next year.  
~

Picture (Art) Study
WHAT WE DO:

We do Picture Study once a week.

This past year we studied three artists, and 5-6 paintings from each. We studied paintings by Georges Seurat, Claude Monet and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot.

At the beginning of the year, I downloaded PDF files from the Ambleside Yahoo Group and had prints printed locally.  

I want my kids have a familiarity with the paintings and artists we've studied, so I make sure they have a print of each painting.  I get one 8 1/2x11 print of each of the paintings we'll study, and then four paintings printed per page for the kids to put in their binders; smaller versions of the paintings we've studied.  Here is an example of what they keep in the Picture Study section of their binders:


As to what the study part of this all looks like at our house, I've edited a post I wrote seven years ago to describe what we do.  We're still doing Picture Study the very same way, all these years later. 

Once each week, this is what we do:

Introduction:  If it is the first week and thus a new artist, I introduce the artist, giving the name; often in writing, and any biographical information I think is pertinent. Then I read a short bio or even just a few facts about the artist.  For all subsequent works by this same artist, I'll skip the biographical information but note the artists name each time, and recall the previous painting studied.

Description:  Then I pull out a print and hand it to a child, hiding it from the rest of the children, asking the selected child to describe what he or she sees. The rest of us listen and try to imagine the painting in our minds.  My children all love this part. They actually bicker over whose turn it is to describe a painting.

Questions: When the child has finished describing the painting, the rest of us get the opportunity to ask that child questions about the things our minds are still wondering about.  (I think this is one of the reasons why my kids love their role of narrator; they get to play teacher and "call" on their siblings' raised hands to take their questions. ;)) 

Reveal: When the questions wane, the child reveals the painting he or she has just described (and the rest of us have imagined) and we all exclaim over it and talk about it. 

That is our procedure with each new painting.

For example, our weeks studying Georges Seurat looked like this:

Week 1: Introduce artist, short bio, select a child to describe the painting: Rock-Breakers
Week 2: Brief review: Who remembers our new artist?  What was last week's painting?
New painting: Man Cleaning His Boat
Week 3: Brief review. New painting: A Sunday on La Grande Jatte
Week 4: Brief review. New painting: Bathers at Asnieres 
(Mark was the teacher this week, and he let the kids choose a portion of the painting to paint.  I generally wait till the end of our study to do this.)
Week 5: Brief review. New painting: The Circus
Week 6: Brief review. New painting: The Eiffel Tower
Week 7 | Final week: Brief reviewCompare and contrast all the paintings.  How are they similar?  How are they different?  Can you tell that the same artist painted all of these? Then, we paint. I choose one of the paintings we've studied for us all to attempt to paint.  (We each painted Seurat's The Eiffel Tower.)

*Each time we study a new painting, I choose a different child (or myself!) to describe it.

* * *

For further consideration and lists of artists, check out the artist rotation at Ambleside Online.  I don't actually follow the same order they suggest.  I choose artists that I love or that I think my kids would find interesting and we go from there.  :)  I really enjoyed my college Art History classes and I genuinely love introducing my kids to the painters I admire. 

Another post on Picture Study that may be of interest to you:

Evaluating our School Year: Hymns

This post is part of a series I'm doing as a way to evaluate our school year.  I am covering each subject, describing what we did; what worked for us and what didn't work; and detailing any changes I plan to make.  I find this process so helpful as I finish out our year and before I begin to plan for our next year.  
~
 
Well, to make up for the last post on Memory Work that went on and on and on..... (bless you, those of you who made it to the end!).... this post will be short and sweet.  

Hymns
Here is a list of the hymns we learned this past year:
 
A Mighty Fortress is Our God
Great is Thy Faithfulness
How Great Thou Art
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty
What a Friend We Have in Jesus
Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee
Blessed Assurance
I Surrender All 
There is a Fountain


WHAT WE DID:
I printed these out-- one at a time-- and one verse at a time, we learned these hymns.  We sang a verse every morning.  For a whole week we might only sing one verse, and then the following week (or whenever I thought we knew it well), I would add another verse, and so on.  

Eventually I plan to get some slender binders and add all the hymns we've learned into them so that we can have our own "family hymn book". 

Here's an older post I wrote that lists other resources, too: Hymn Study

Evaluating our School Year: Memory Work [with links to all other memory work posts]

This post is part of a series I'm doing as a way to evaluate our school year.  I am covering each subject, describing what we did; what worked for us and what didn't work; and detailing any changes I plan to make.  I find this process so helpful as I finish out our year and before I begin to plan for our next year.  

If you're just joining us for this series, so far I've covered:
Evaluating our School Year: Poetry 
Evaluating our School Year: Bible Time
Evaluating our School Year: Prayer
~

Memory Work
Memory work is anything we memorize throughout the school year, so I guess poetry and hymns  could fall beneath this heading, too, but I have those listed separately on our schedule.  We've done all sorts of things within this category in previous years, including photos of famous landmarks, a catechism, creeds, and lots and lots of Scripture.
For several years we used this format:
CIMG5743

I wrote our verses out on index cards and sometimes doodled pictures to go with them, and then we'd pull one or two out each day and work on memorizing them.

CIMG5744

Now that we're memorizing longer passages this isn't quite as practical, but I still do index cards for the single verses we memorize.

For our longer passages, I type it out and then print out a page for each child.  Those get tucked into page protectors (to keep spills and dirty fingers off the paper, since we do Morning Time at breakfast) and put them all into the Morning Time binder.  When we get to Memory Work on the schedule, I then pass a sheet out to each child.
  
We do Memory Work daily, and each morning we do a REVIEW verse (or two), as well as a NEW verse (or two).  I'll start by reading the verses, and then a few days in I'll ask who thinks they can tackle it. 

When I think we have the verse down-- after maybe a week or two, we'll move on.
For a longer passage, we will do all the previous learned verses as review and then tag on a new verse each day.  I also will sometimes write up the longer passages on our dry erase board so they're visible at other times of the day for our readers.

***

This is what we memorized this year:
From the Bible:
Psalm 19*
Psalm 33:5*
Psalm 105:1-45
Proverbs 15:28
Proverbs 18:21
Luke 2:1-20
Luke 6:45

Other memory work:
Books of the Old Testament*
Family Ways (1-21)--I used Clay and Sally Clarkson's book Our 24 Family Ways and edited them for our family, changing up the wording sometimes, adding some, and omitting some altogether.
 
(*The starred ones refer to passages|memory work we reviewed from a previous year.)

Heading into Christmastime, we memorized Luke2:1-20.  I split up the verses like this and the kids each had a copy and they would draw or doodle a picture for each verse.  They LOVED this, so we'll try to do this again.



Memorizing is really tricky for Adelia (8), in particular.  She needs a lot of help from us in "feeding" her the words; the lines.  This can be a bit exasperating for the rest of us, because 1)she is always the first to volunteer for anything and 2)she really wants to have her own turn to recite the twelve verses she's "memorized", but she really doesn't know it well at all and it can be a bit pain-staking and require much patience from us.  (It came up in my end-of-the-year evaluations with one of the older kids, which is why I'm mentioning it.)

This is one of those things that's challenging about having younger kids and older kids in the mix.  I want my older kids to be challenged, but the younger girls sort of need things on their level, too.  However, we're doing it all together and even when the girls are allowed to "opt out" of something, they don't want to, because they want to be big and do what their older siblings are doing.  Which works fine most of the time but sometimes it doesn't.  Oh well.  This is one of those times where the Lord in His perfect wisdom is growing us all in patience and in bearing with one another.  ;)

***

Apparently I've written a lot about our memory work.  Apparently it's my favorite thing or something, because this next list took me quite awhile to put together.  So.  Here is a list of my other memory work posts, if you're interested:


from 2006:
A Favorite: ABC Bible Verses
Our Memory Verses

from 2007, with a list of easy-to learn verses: 
Scripture Memorization,

from 2010:
Memory Work Box
Memorizing our Theme Passage (with links to some of our favorite Scripture-memory CDs)
Ten Verses Cards (when I chose ten different verses for each child to memorize)
Verses for a Two-Year-Old

from 2011:
Honoring Daddy (when we put into practice one of the verses we'd been memorizing)
2010-11 Year in Review: Memory Work

from 2013:
First day of School (with pictures of some of our catechism cards)

from 2014:
Our Simple Schedule, Part 3: (Bible, memory work, poetry)

from 2016:
Mid-year Morning Time Review

Also, here is a link to some FREE printable ABC Scripture Memory Cards that another mom created, if you don't want to put together your own.  ;)