Thursday, December 6, 2012

Hymns, Hymns - Everywhere Hymns!

We just wrapped up our last term of Year 1 with my oldest. Because we began Ambleside in January, we school on a calendar year, rather than the traditional fall-through-spring year. At any rate, we are finished with this term and taking a short break before we begin Year 2 on Monday. I can't wait to introduce my daughter to Understood Betsy, and to start reading The Little Duke with her. It is going to be a great term!

I am taking advantage of this free time to do a major preparation blitz. Here is one of those "Know Thyself" things - I tend to get very excited and energized, obsess over give my full attention to a project for a while, then get sidetracked lose my motivation. I have learned that the more prep I get done when I'm running flat out, the more smoothly things go even when I lose energy.

All this is leading up to a blitz of posts over the next few days. I do apologize if you get sick of seeing blog notifications! I'll start by posting the printouts and links for our hymns. It is always a lot of fun putting these little sheets together, choosing which pictures illustrate the heart of the hymns (as I see it, of course). Ambleside has a great line-up of hymns over the next few months. Click the link to download a printable .pdf file with lyrics and composer information.

November: Anywhere With Jesus

I know, I know. November is over. However, I am taking our hymn sheets for the year and binding them together to create a personal hymnal for my oldest. In case you are collecting them in any way, I thought I would post them all. (Plus, if I ever lose my files, they will be safely archived online.)

The kids and I have been rocking out to Amy Grant's jazzed-up version. Every time we play it, we have a mass dance party!

December: Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow, also known as the Doxology

This is one of my favorite praise pieces ever. We already know this one - we regularly sing it for our blessing over the meal - so we are spending our December advent singing Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel. I cry every.single.time we listen to it. This is my favorite version, currently.

January: My Song is Love Unknown

February: This is My Father's World

March: Ah, Holy Jesus

I love the image for this hymn. Isn't that painting beautiful?

April: Count Your Blessings

Have you read Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand Blessings? It beautifully illustrates how the practice of counting your blessings can change your heart and ultimately the way you see the world. I have been reading through it ever so slowly for the last year. This is life-changing stuff! Go visit Ann on her blog A Holy Experience.

May: All Creatures of Our God and King

So there you go… hymn printouts for the rest of the official school year.  I am looking forward to a great year of art, music, literature, and Grand Conversations! As 2013 begins, what are you most looking forward to?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Dutch Baroque Artist Study

Our first full term with the Ambleside Online curriculum is drawing to a close. I am so pleased with the way this term has gone, especially in terms of adding in hymn, composer, and picture studies. Seeing my girls get to know the works of Debussy and Renoir over the past 12 weeks has been such a pleasure. We have not done very much with our composer study other than listen to the music, but we have enthusiastically dived into picture study. It amazes me how much we have all learned. Hearing my children speak intelligently about lighting, color, mood, and brushstroke technique is a little mind-blowing! They even created their own version of Renoir's Girl with a Watering Can in sidewalk chalk.

  Aren't those toes the sweetest thing you've ever seen?

This term, we will be studying Pieter de Hooch and Jacob van Ruisdale. These Dutch Baroque painters both lived and painted in Delft, Holland in the mid- to late-1600s. As last term, I created full sheet prints and art cards for each of the works we will be studying. The kids are wild about their Master Works Album, where they store their own pictures of the paintings we study. I had the full sheets printed out at Office Max on glossy card stock, and they came out beautifully. The art cards can be downloaded as individual .jpg files just by right-clicking on the picture and copying it. You can also download a single sheet that contains all three art cards on one sheet, print them at home, and cut them to 4x6 size for your album.

Jacob van Ruisdale - have you ever seen clouds like that?! Living in Colorado, we know how to appreciate beautiful sky scenes. Click here to download the full-sized prints.

You can click here to download all three art cards on one page

Pieter de Hooch (whose name is apparently pronounced more like Huff or Hough. Who knew?) Click here to download the full-sized prints.


Click here to download all the de Hooch art cards on one page.

I know it sounds selfish, but one of the things I love about home schooling is how much I learn while I am researching and teaching my kids. I recently watched the 2003 movie Girl With a Pearl Earring, about Johannes Vermeer's masterpiece work.

Painted around 1665, Girl With a Pearl Earring has been called the Mona Lisa of the north.
Isn't she gorgeous?

While preparing a biography for de Hooch, I discovered that he is believed to have influenced Vermeer's style. Throughout the movie, I was on the alert for any mention of de Hooch! I think we are going to have to make room for this beautiful painting in our art rotation this term.

Since this post has gotten rather long-winded, I'll go ahead and wrap it up here. I hope you enjoy the downloads and make some use of them.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

It's My Turn, Mama

I don't know if y'all went through the Terrible Twos. In my house, the Twos are pretty terrific; it's the Threes that are just about the death of me. My youngest is now a full-blown three-year-old - curious, affectionate, silly, adorable, BUSY, testing every boundary, and liable to destroy a room if I take my eyes off of her for a moment.

"What do you mean I can't drink the rest of the syrup 
and then eat half the jar of peanut butter?I just did, didn't I?"

Needless to say, it can be quite a challenge to do schoolwork when she is awake. Our saving grace has been her Table Time boxes. I fill plastic storage containers with one activity each, and she can choose what she wants to do QUIETLY while we work. It's not a perfect solution, but it is a big help. Unfortunately, we have had the same four boxes for the last 10 weeks, and she has definitely gotten bored with them. This week I stumbled across some great ideas on Pinterest! I know, I know… who hasn’t stumbled across some seemingly amazing idea on Pinterest that they could surely do, only they don’t? These ideas, however, are easy, fun, and inexpensive. In fact, my two big girls have decided to put activities together as their Christmas present for their little sister. (It is sweetness like this that makes the bickering and griping fade to gentle whispers in my memories…)

Toddler “Busy Bag” Swap - 20 busy bag ideas

Toddler Busy Bag Swap, Take Two - 20 MORE ideas

30 Materials and Activities to Promote Fine Motor Skills

Learning for Kids

True confession time - I haven’t even checked out the last two links. From the first two (and all the blogs they sent me to) I have compiled a list of 89 activities, which I sorted out for 3, 4, or 5 year olds! Seriously, these women have provided me with nearly 90 ideas for entertaining and teaching my little one instead of just trying to keep her quiet so I can get on with my “real” educating. Some days I am quite humbled and grateful to all the moms who put their creativity out for everyone else to benefit from.

I can hardly wait to see my baby’s face when she gets to check out all her fun new games and toys! If you have some time, browse through the links. There are some clever, clever mamas out there. Which are your favorite toddler games and activities?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Hymn Study - For the Beauty of the Earth

October has arrived, and with it a new hymn for us to enjoy. This month the Ambleside Online hymn rotation has us listening to For the Beauty of the Earth. For once, I have actually heard this hymn before - well, at least part of it. The 1994 movie version of Little Women - which I dearly love - uses the refrain during Meg's wedding scene.

"Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise"

As usual, we turned to YouTube for a free version of the hymn to listen to. I was going to choose a traditional choir performance, but then I found this arrangement by BarlowGirl. These girls are incredibly talented. Even better, this is one of the few videos that shows the lyrics onscreen, which is always nice when you are trying to learn the words.

For those of you who like having a copy of the lyrics in hand, you can download a song sheet to print out. My youngest daughter likes me to sing hymns to her before bed, so it is nice to have a physical copy instead of being tied to the computer. This time I did not highlight any of the verses, so you can use the song sheet with any version of the hymn you like. (I also included the YouTube link at the bottom, in case you want to check out the video we are watching.)

This is a lovely hymn, and I am so glad we get to listen to it all month. I hope you enjoy it, too.

Happy listening!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Place Value Cards

Understanding place values is an important concept in mathematics. It lays the foundation for understanding how numbers work, and later how to combine them and split them apart. Number cards can be help students see how place value works together to create a number. You can buy these cards pre-printed, but why bother when it only takes a few minutes on the computer to make your own? I created two versions.

The first has underline marks to help your child see which places still need to be filled in. If they see an underlined spot in their finished number, they can see that they missed a value. Click here to download.
I realize that for some children, the place holding lines might feel too cluttered. You can also download a plain version without the lines.

Both sets print on standard-sized paper. Print on heavy cardstock and cut along the lines. You can laminate them, or just print a new set once the old one has been well loved. If you decide to laminate the cards, cut them out first and then laminate them, otherwise the lamination will peel apart.

Each set contains 0-9 cards for units (ones), tens, hundreds and thousands. It also includes one 10,000 card, one 100,000 card, and a couple blank cards in case you lose a card. To build a number, simply stack the cards - one for each place.

Happy building!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Fun with Word Clouds

I am a bit of a computer junkie. Recently I discovered Tagxedo, where you can design free word clouds. I may be enjoying myself a little too much! I made this using the Pledge of Allegiance, which the girls are learning in our civics time.

The girls were intrigued when I showed them the website. They made one for their room - think loads of pink and purple and their names repeated over and over again - and also one for their dad's birthday. (I can't post that one until after they give it to him.) Word clouds are the "it" thing at our house right now!

During our school days, I have to be careful to limit my time online, or it is likely to overtake teaching time. However, my oldest also loves the computer, so it can be a valuable tool for encouraging her in subjects that she is reluctant to tackle. When she was working on the cloud for her bedroom, I had an idea about how I could transfer this to school time. By far our most challenging book in Year 1 has been Parables from Nature. The language is advanced, the ideas are challenging, and because I am reading it as a free Kindle download, there are no pictures to "help" her imagination. That being said, she has wrestled valiantly with it, and we have ended up enjoying most of the stories. Today, I decided to let her do her narration in a different kind of way. She created a word cloud for the parable "The Light of Truth." The story centers on a boy named Arthur, his father, and their experiences with the Will-o-the-Wisp - who, as everyone knows, wants to lure travelers to their deaths in the marsh... or does he? Do I even need to say that she thought this was a grand idea?!

I love how she chose colors and a shape that illustrated ideas from the story. Not only did she have a great time designing it, it also shows me that she really understood some of the key ideas. (As an aside, notice the word "beneficent" in there? It makes me smile when kids grab hold of big, impressive words. You can practically see them rolling the word around in their mouths - getting a feel for it, relishing the sounds of the syllables.)

If you have some free time, click on over to Tagxedo and see what you can come up with. If you post your finished cloud online anywhere, please include a link in the comment section.

Happy designing!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Hymn Study - For All the Saints

One of the beautiful "extras" that our family loves about a Charlotte Mason education is the music studies. The girls and I enjoy classical composers, hymns, and folk songs. This year, we have chosen to replace folk songs with patriotic songs, and all the kids love their Wee Sing America CD.

The first hymn that we are learning this year is For All the Saints Who From Their Labors Rest. Like the rest, this hymn is new to me. I didn't grow up in a church, and our current church isn't big on traditional hymns!

Hymn "study" at our house is pretty low key. The kids and I found a YouTube performance of the song that we like. I copied the lyrics from HymnTime and created a song sheet to help us learn the lyrics. I will laminate this and put it on the wall so we can look at it during our song time (and whenever else we choose to). Like most hymns, the performance we are listening to includes only a few verses. To help us keep the lyrics straight, I put the verses that are included in the YouTube video in bold type. You are welcome to download this song sheet for personal use.

We will listen to the song a few times a week, and the kids can join in if they choose (typically they don't). My littlest pumpkin likes me to sing to her before bed, so I often sing the hymn we are learning. We sing one hymn a month, and also listen to the others we have previously learned. Eventually I plan on creating a YouTube playlist that I can play in the background, but that has not happened yet.

That's about all there is to it! The idea is to expose them to beautiful ideas, language, and music. When a picture, song or idea speaks to their heart they will take it and make it their own.

Happy listening!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

So many books, so few bookmarks!

One drawback of a literature-based education is that we never seem to have enough bookmarks. I stumbled on these images from Karen's beautiful website, Karen's Whimsy. They turned out to be the perfect ratio for small bookmarks.

You can download these bookmarks here. Print the page out on heavyweight card stock, and you will have some lovely, durable (and colorable!) bookmarks.

Happy Reading!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Art Cards: Term 1, Renoir

This is our second year in Ambleside, but we did not do picture study last year. I'm very excited about the possibilities. During our first term, we will be enjoying 6 painting by Renoir.

When we start school this year, each of my older kids will receive their own art album - a simple pocket album where they can put a 4x6 print. Eventually, they will have a beautiful album of all the art prints they have studied.

The process of a picture study is so simple. The children look carefully at a picture for a few minutes, until they can close their eyes and "see" it in their minds. Then we turn the picture face down, they describe what they saw, and we look back at the picture to confirm or clarify. Simple, right?

However, according to Charlotte Mason,

“We cannot measure the influence that one or another artist has upon the child’s sense of beauty, upon his power of seeing, as in a picture, the common sights of life; he is enriched more than we know in having really looked at even a single picture.”
 I am excited about this new step in our family's educational journey. Please feel free to copy these prints and use them for your own family.