Friday, March 25, 2016

You can teach your child Shakespeare

William Shakespeare!  What does that name do for you?  Do you get giddy with delight or does it send shivers down your spine?  Now what if I were to tell you, you can teach your children about Shakespeare and they actually enjoy it?  Do you say, it's impossible?  Well, it isn't and you can.  And, it isn't that hard to do.  It all depends on the approach you take.

A bit of did I begin to love Shakespeare?  It all started in about 8th grade when my English teacher read our class my first ever Shakespeare play, Julius Ceasar.  I remember not completely understanding all that was going on but with the efforts of his excellent teaching and interpretation and later a stupendous video viewing of the play, I fell in love.  Of course, I kept it to myself.  What kid in high school adores Shakespeare anyway, at least in my high school?  Each year, I looked forward to the play we did.  I loved it when we saw Romeo and Juliet in person and then later A Midsummer's Night Dream.  I fell away from it in college because I was working and going to school full time and then dating my future husband.  Then, I had my first child.  And, then, subsequent children and realized I wanted them to know Shakespeare, too.  But, how?  I couldn't just yank out my anthology of Shakespeare and start reading it aloud.  It would bore them to tears!  So, I started looking.  And researching.  And over time have developed a way to teach them Shakespeare.  Now, not all of them love him like I do, but they do have plays they love.  And, for me, that is enough.  

So, how did I go about that?  Well, in a nutshell, I started on their level.  When my children were young, we listened to audio dramas by Jim Weiss.  He has three cd's of Shakespeare to date and if you have never heard of Jim Weiss, you are missing a real treat.  You can find his stories here.  With the listening of these stories, it peaked my children's interest.  Then, I used visualization.  This video series is absolutely astounding in how it engages the child.  Obviously, you have to decide for yourself if your child is ready for a couple of them due to their darker themes.  But, they are very well done for the child (or any age for that matter, we all like them).  With all this great mental and physical visualization, I felt they were ready for the next level.

There are 3 major books that I use as they grow up in working with my children.  I am listing them according to age level.

Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb
The Complete Works of Shakespeare by....well, you know :)

I find the first two at times can be exchanged but I like to use them myself in that particular order.  Twice in their education years I have them listed in their reading list, just so they get a good feel for them.  If you don't want to hand them a whole anthology or even want something more engaging, there is Shakespeare can be Fun (elementary) and Shakespeare Made Easy (middle school/high school).   The Shakespeare can be Fun series has great little illustrations drawn by children themselves to give the series some added fun.

The books in the pic above are recent books I have discovered.  All are very well done.  If you want know more about Shakespeare as the parent, the book by Paul Edmondson is the one for you.  The writing is very readable and gives you a great overview of his life.  I would even recommend it for a high schooler.  How to Teach your Children Shakespeare is a gem!  A gem!  It gives wonderful tips on how you can teach Shakespeare to your children.  Ken Ludwig has played in several of them himself.  If you would like to here a podcast of him explaining how to use this wonderful resource, click here.  Well worth your time listening and money spent.  Shakespeare for Kids is a great little book you can reference as you teach them about the man himself. 

Speaking of which, what if you want to teach them about the man himself?  And what about his globe?  Then, the library is the place to hit (or a bookstore).  I have used all the books pictured here and highly recommend any of them to you.   The Who was William Shakespeare is an excellent biography for children to understand who he is.  And I just love Welcome to the Globe and William Shakespeare and the Globe.  

If you want to add a lapbook to check their knowledge, here is one that we did a few years ago.  

You can find the links for the various pages that we used for our lapbooks here:

Activity village  -  This has all sorts of other things as well - coloring pages, copywork, notebooking pages etc.  
Scribd - the fun poster we put on the back of the lapbook folder
Hubpages - where the rest of our lapbok components came from
Timeline - it is one I created myself, but with a little research, I am sure you could do something similar
His gravestone - another that we made up ourselves and added his epitaph to

You could also just stick to simple notebooking pages (like the one I have listed above) or use copywork (also listed above or you can find some free ones here).  

We have also made a cute cubee of Shakespeare and a fun mini globe.  There is also a youtube video on how to assemble it! 

Did you know that Shakespeare was coined words and phrases you use every day?  Just look at this list here and see how many of them you recognize.  And here is super fun video to help your kids remember it as well.

Lastly, Shakespeare can be very very fun!  

Marcia Williams writes and illustrates some of the best little graphic novels for kids on mythology and Shakespeare!  Shakespeare has even influenced the world of LEGO (these are some of my sons favorite books) and Star Wars.  They could color or even use puppets to relive their listening moments.  

So, you see, no need to be intimidated by the name William Shakespeare.  It can be easy and very fun to learn.  And, with the 400th anniversary of his death coming up April 23rd, no time like the present to begin to let your kids in on this wonderful playwright.

How do you teach Shakespeare or do you?  Have you been inspired to start?  Links are provided throughout for most of the various books you see.  (affl. links are included.  Your purchase helps our family in a small way and I thank you.)  Be sure to watch my facebook page as I share Shakespeare findings as we gear up for his birthday next month.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

I am a Charlotte Mason mama!

I am often asked what type of homeschooler am I.  Well, let's take a step back through the time machine to 1997.  I was a teacher in a Christian school.  I knew the ins and outs of Christian education forwards and backwards after growing up in that environment and now teaching in that same environment.  And, I loved it.  But, in 1997, I discovered I was pregnant with my first child.  I knew then I would be going home to take care of my little one.  And, on top of that, I knew I was not sending my little one into a school since we had already decided I would teach our children for a while myself.  I had the degree.  I knew what I could do.

Our first little girl made her appearance followed by a second little girl and then a baby boy.  And by that time it was for Ladybug to start school.  And, I began in the traditional manner with my traditional Christian school books.  However, within no time flat, I discovered it was not going to work.  I could not teach my daughter at a table with tablework, chase a toddler, and nurse a newborn all at the same time.  I was not super woman!  Plus, she didn't learn well in the traditional method, especially in the area of reading.  I was used to Abeka methods of teaching to read and she was not able to do it.  I was flabbergasted!  So, by December I had to back up and regroup. 

About that time, I was introduced to Charlotte Mason and her methods.  It was literally love at first sight.  Who was she?  She was an educator in England who lived at the end of the 19th to the beginning of 20th century.  She believed in a rich full education but with a lot of living books and shorter lessons and time to allow kids to be, well, kids!  You not only educate them internally but externally as well, in other words, she believed in educating the whole person.  She believed in reading living good books and classic literature and as a book lover, I was excited about this.  She believed that education was a natural part of every day life.  If you want to read a bit more of her ideas, visit this link.  I will be touching more on these ideas as I do this series.  I started reading her books (listed below) and any other book I could get my hands on about the Charlotte Mason method.  And, I started working this way with my daughter.  It was so much easier for me to snuggle on a couch reading books to both my little girls while nursing my son.  I changed our reading curriculum completely to a more home friendly way of teaching to read and it clicked!  And we were learning and having fun.  However, I never talked much about what I was doing to others because it was so different!  I was afraid I would look like a weirdo.  When asked what method I use, I would say it was eclectic.  I have since learned there is nothing weird about it.  It is natural.  It is rich.  It is beautiful. 

I have since that time also discovered a couple of other things we enjoy doing like notebooking, lapbooks, unit studies all of which has fit nicely into our Charlotte Mason style.  We have also added just wee touches of Classical to it especially as our children got older, but I am a firm believer (despite what you will read others say) Charlotte Mason and Classical education can go hand in hand quite nicely.

I love being a Charlotte Mason mama.  I love that we get our lessons done in a shorter periods of time, for the most part. I love that my kids get to go outside and explore nature.  I love that they have time to explore their interests and learn their instruments.  I love they can spend lots of time reading good literature and that I am reading it to them.  I love that they learn naturally.  When I first started, the internet was brand new.  And finding curriculum that fit the bill took some hunting and experimenting with.  Since then, I have found "curriculum"  that works for us but most of our so called curriculum is a just a spine for me to work with.   You will see that as I go along.  I now proudly tell people that I am a Charlotte Mason mama.  

Now for a bit of practical help if you are interested in pursuing more about the Charlotte Mason method.  I wish I had this lovely bunch of people along side me when I started.  But, good old fashioned books worked fine for me.  :)

Below, you will find a list of my favorite go to websites:  (she is the host of the Charlotte Mason blog hop)  (she combines classical and Charlotte Mason and was my first confirmation that these 2 do work together as I always thought they did, contrary to popular opinion)

And, here is a list of my favorite Charlotte Mason books (contains affl. links, which helps my family, thank you)

The Charlotte Mason Original Series (this is an excellent series and was written by Charlotte herself)
        Volume 1
        Volume 2
        Volume 3
        Volume 4
        Volume 5
        Volume 6

A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola

A Twaddle Free Education by Deborah Taylor-Hough

A Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levinson

More Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levinson

For the Children's Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macauley

When Children Love to Learn by Elaine Cooper

Consider This by Katherine Glass (about combining classical and Charlotte Mason)

I am sure there are other good books but these are my favorite and the ones I refer to over and over again!

Do you like a good podcast?  I have those for you as well.  (not all are strictly charlotte mason but mixed in there are so many good and encouraging things) (full charlotte mason)

And, last of all, here is a link to my pinterest board full of Charlotte Mason and some classical.

I am happy to help you if you want to know more or just have questions about Charlotte Mason and her way of teaching.  Drop me a note or leave a comment!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

My favorite go to bread, part 2

In part 1, I shared the basic recipe for my favorite go to bread.  Today, I am going to show you how you can take that basic recipe and do all sorts of amazing things with it.

First off, 

You could make just a basic round loaf.  I use this shape mostly when making communion bread.  But in a hurry, it makes a great shape for dinner as well.


You could form small balls, about a tablespoon each in size, and put three in each muffin tin hole.  These make great little clover shaped rolls which come apart nicely for buttering and honey.  Bake time is approximately 15 to 20 minutes.

Or you could divide it into approximately 18 - 24 separate rolls.  These can be baked just on a cookie sheet or in a muffin tin, as shown.  Bake time is the same as for the clover rolls.

Last, and my personal favorite, is to take the dough, divide into three peices, roll into long "snakes" (as my little guy calls them)  and then braid it.  Here is a great video on how to braid bread. Obviously, I only do the 3 strand but you are welcome to get creative.  Bake time for this is about the same as just a regular round loaf.

One recipe, many variations!  Love it!

I hope you have enjoyed reading about this fun bread.  If you have any questions, feel free to ask me in the comments.  Happy Baking!