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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Shakespeare: for all ages

It was in the early days*, even before we started schooling, that I first knitted my brows* over the idea of introducing Shakespeare to my own flesh and blood*. What a strange thought for me, considering I am not conscious of having read significant Shakespeare during my own education, let alone my early education. It was still all Greek to me*! Yet, as luck would have it,* AmblesideOnline has Shakespeare on the schedules starting with year one. But the truth be out*, I've been on again, off again with my reading of the Bard with my littlest listeners. In my mind, doubts lingered, Can one start too early? Can there be too much of a good thing*? Recently, I decided is high time* to get out of this Shakespearean pickle I'm in* and figure out just what I think about it.

One of our very favorite things to do when we start a new Shakespeare play, 
is to do a character sketch...  which has been SO, super helpful!

It is a foregone conclusion*, that my ideas are much better developed now than before. For one, by Jove!* I've discovered that a Shakespeare play, as diluted by Lamb or Nesbit, isn't much different from a fairy tale, the value of which I am quite convinced of. The themes in Shakespeare are more real life too, which helps them deal with stony-hearted villains* within a safe context, and that's good. Also, as the kids are familiar with the storyline, they'll be excited at how much they'll be able to understand when they revisit the play later on. That's good too.

Seemingly without rhyme or reason*, however, I have this recurring feeling that I'm doing my kids a great injustice; big spoilers and all, giving away all the story lines WAY ahead of time. All my newly found reason and resolve begin to vanish into thin air*, until I revisit a quote like these:

"Little by little the people of Shakespeare, filling a larger world than she could know, became as real to her as her friends. That was the great gift he brought her."
~Shakespeare and the Heart of a Child, Gertrude Slaughter

"In [Form 2B] they read their own geography, history, poetry, but perhaps Shakespeare's Twelfth Night... should be read to them and narrated by them until they are well in their tenth year. Their power to understand, visualise, and 'tell' a play of Shakespeare from nine years old and onwards is very surprising. They put in nothing which is not there, but they miss nothing and display a passage or a scene in a sort of curious relief.
Charlotte Mason, v6p182

or then, there's these:

"...a child has entered into Shakespeare's Temple of the human spirit and come forth charged with a knowledge far beyond his present or his future experience. It cannot all happen on a summer day. Step by step, slowly and serenely, under a clear sky, the child approaches by pleasant ways to an understanding of life... and a sane and healthy joy of life is entrenched in the child's mind against the blows of fortune by the beauty of the medium through which the world has been revealed."
~Shakespeare and the Heart of a Child, Gertrude Slaughter

"The transition to Form IIA is marked by more individual reading as well as by a few additional books. The children read their 'Shakespeare play' in character. "
Charlotte Mason, v6p182

And then of course there are blog posts like this one, that really help me get a grip on things. So, if the truth be known*, I'm feeling pretty good lately about reading Shakespeare with my kids of all ages.

"In Forms III and IV... They have of course a great flair for Shakespeare, whether King Lear, Twelfth Night, Henry V, or some other play..."
Charlotte Mason, v6p184

Like this idea? See my recent Cymbeline post here for more... :)

Helpful Links: 

Helpful Books:
**See amazon links below (yep, you can click there to support our homeschool habit!) 

For youngsters:
Shakespeare, Bard of Avon
Shakespeare coloring book (paper dolls)Tales from Shakespeare  (download in various formats) or get the audio @

For elders:
Brightest Heaven of Invention

Well, that, my friends, is the long and short of it*. *Of course, every time you see an asterix above, you are seeing one of many of our common figures of speech that were invented by Shakespeare. For goodness' sake*, who knew?! See more here and here.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

happy days.

...just thought i'd share a smile with you! ;)
i hope your day has been full of pleasant surprises.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Shakespeare: Cymbeline

"The story of Cymbeline is elaborate, complicated, and farfetched even for an Elizabethan play; and it includes nearly every ingredient known to melodrama. The central theme concerns a young and innocent girl, married for true love, who is harassed by a wicked step-mother, ill-treated by her father, pursued by a hated and boorish brute, falsely accused of unchastity, forced to flee in disguise as a boy, befriended by savage mountaineers (who are natural gentlemen and turn out to be her long-lost brothers), and finally triumphantly restored to her repentant husband. In addition, we are given such stock items as a faithful servant, a good doctor, a penitent villain, heroic Britons, chivalric Romans, battle scenes, a prison scene, ghosts, music, abundant moralizing, drugs which produce the appearance of death, a severed head, and even the convenient birthmark - a "sanguine star" - by which the lost heir is at last recognized and restored."
G.B. Harrison, The Complete Works of Shakespeare

The play in 12 weeks:

Week one:
Read Cymbeline from Tales from Shakespeare
Draw Character list

Week two:
Read Act I, Scenes 1-2

Week three:
Read Act I, Scenes 3-5 - Act II, Scene 1 (edit, omit parts or skip scenes 4 & 6)

Week four:
Read Act II, Scenes 2-4 (edit, omit Iachimo's speech or skip scene 2; edit or omit scene 4)

Week five:
Read Act II, Scenes 5 - Act III, Scene 3

Week six:
Read Act III, Scenes 4-5

Week seven:
Read Act III, Scene 6 - Act IV, Scene 1

Week eight:
Read Act IV, Scene 2

Week nine:
Read Act IV, Scenes 3 - Act V, Scene 3

Week ten:
Read Act V, Scene 4

Week eleven:
Read Act V, Scene 5

Week twelve:
Arrange an informal play

Helpful Notes:
  • Reading first from the Tales from Shakespeare version, is completely optional; but very helpful. Based on this pre-reading, a sketch of characters can easily be drawn up. If this step is skipped, the initial sketch could be started, then revisited and elaborated as the play develops and new characters are introduced. Having established a familiarity with the storyline allows for better understanding, as well as adds to the facility of editing or skipping scenes, when appropriate, as may be necessary when reading from the original. 
  • Pre-read. Edit, omit and skip scenes in accordance with students maturity level.
  • Print copies for each student (or a kindle copy), a minimum of six per classroom (there aren't usually more characters than that per scene).
  • Divide up parts ahead of time, according to skill level. A smaller part can be given to a less skilled reader, such as Narrator (reads, characters enter and exit scenes, as well as introducing the setting for the scenes). This can be done 15 minutes before :)
  • Listen to the audio version (see librivox) of the specific scenes to be read on a day before reading aloud, if desired, to maintain short lessons.
  • Follow up by watching the BBC video version of the play (when appropriate or applicable).
  • If students are interested, over the following term, the play could be made into a performance, with memorized parts, costumes and full set.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Friday, September 7, 2012

Keeping a Math Notebook.

This link, via this blog post by my friend Mama Squirrel, has got me thinking about math notebooks. I hadn't even really thought about how what we have already been doing is so awesome! We already use a notebook for math! ...and it's all 'cause of MEP math.

Don't you love it when that happens?!

Now, when we used other math curriculums, we printed out pages or the kids filled in a workbook. I'm guessing that's probably the road most traveled when it comes to math.

But thanks to MEP, we use a workbook, called a 'practice book' AND a notebook, called an 'exercise book'. The practice book has all the problems printed out which are then to be worked out in the exercise book (we use a notebook w/ graph paper). But lots of times, there's stuff that needs to be remembered. That all goes in the exercise book too.

Take today for instance. In our math lesson today, we talked about the square root of numbers and calculated the surface areas of a cuboid, a square-based cuboid and a cube.

We looked at some in real life cuboids, looked at some diagrams (via the copy masters!), worked it all out, and summed up the ensuing formulas. The square roots and the formulas were then copied into their notebooks (exercise books).

Last week, my year 2 student, learned about the calendar, how many days are in each month, etc. After her lesson, she copied down the months of the year into her math exercise book! It's now there for reference. I love this.

Because the math lesson usually takes about 20-40min per student, they do their math 'copywork', if there is any, directly following the lesson, and then later return to do the math page in their practice books.  It works really well.

Other things to record in a math notebook:
Names and descriptions of shapes.
Formulas for calculating area & volume.
Days of the week.
Months of the year with number of days per month.
Multiplication facts.
Addition facts.
Conversion charts - Metric to Imperial
Meter -> centimeter -> millimeter.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival {What we love the MOST}

what we love the MOST. that's what this carnival is about. pretty much everybody stopping by here today loves charlotte mason. no question. there are just so many things about her, and her way of education as life, to love.

let me count the ways...
or well, maybe i'll just let you count them as you read through the following posts.

{would y'all do me a big favor? for those of you who have an extra second, will you please take a moment to express your thanks to the authors of the following blog posts by leaving a comment on their blogs? i hear often how this carnival is an encouragement to SO many! but it wouldn't be much of a party without the posts, so let's make sure to share the love with the CM bloggers who make it all happen :) and while i have you here, let me just mention that if you read an encouraging CM related post elsewhere on the web, please don't be afraid to suggest to the author to submit it to the carnival! or submit it yourself as a recommended post! it takes a community to raise a carnival!}

What I love About a CM Education, by Nebby

A Day in the Life of a Charlotte Mason Inspired Homeschool, by Angie in GA

Nancy Kelly presents, Qualified for Life - A Consequence of a Mason Education

5 reasons I love CM, by Blossom

Barb, with another 5 reasons of her own...

Why we School the Charlotte Mason Way, by Kay Pelham

History from Home, by Catherine

Jimmie presents, Three CM Curriculum Choices that are Perfect on an iPad

Penny, with a post about how good habit training affects your homeschool: Habit Training is Crucial.

Handicraft for Boys, by Carol

Cindy presents an Artist Study on Grandma Moses.

Read Books – When all else fails, by Nadene ~ who writes from a recent epiphany!

Preparing Your Little Ones for a Charlotte Mason Education, by Laura

Year 2: Week 3, by Laura in KY/laurke

Mama Squirrel presents, Homeschool things to do for Tuesday: figure out what we're doing, finally?

It's that time of year again... for homeschool planning!, by amy in peru,

An oldie but goodie, and one of my favorites... Fall Planning, by Nancy Kelly

Our summer outdoor recap post, by Barb

Finding Joy in Creation, by Angie in GA

CM on French, by amy in peru

other favorite CM links of late:

have you heard the latest? there's a brand spankin' new forum hosted by none other than the beloved AmblesideOnline! it's true! head on over and join the fun!

Cindy Rollins' final thoughts on towards a philosophy of education. read all the thoughts while you're at it if you have a week. :)

nature sketchers (an international group of artists learning from the best teacher there is, nature!)

next up on the carnival roster...

9/18 - Principle #13 (CM in the city)
In devising a SYLLABUS for a normal child, 3 points - (a) He requires much knowledge, (b) varied, and (c) communicated in well chosen language.
Summary of all the principles here.
Submit all CM-related posts to: charlottemasonblogs (at) gmail (dot) com

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