Living and Learning in the Pacific Northwest
Continuing the series by explaining how we do composer study, Shakespeare, handicrafts, drama, and the schedule that works for us.
Composer: Last term we studied Mozart. I have the complete Opal Wheeler series and companion discs. The book about Mozart was a favorite for the children. We enjoyed listening to the story and then listening to a couple of pieces from Mozart that go along with the book. At various points in the story, the book has the sheet music and a track number to play. We can also listen to another Mozart CD during lunch at CM School, while driving in the car, while doing handicrafts, etc. I want to do more of this next time.
Shakespeare: We are alternating between composer study and Shakespeare because of time constraints. We started with “Midsummer Night’s Dream” as retold by Charles and Mary Lamb, then we tried the “Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare” version by E. Nesbit. Both failed to interest the children and we felt it was because of the many characters in the play and the need to connect multiple plots. We felt that a better understanding of the characters and their stories would help. Liz read a quick, comic-style book for “Midsummer Night’s Dream.” I don’t remember the title. The kids thought this was funny and now they understand the characters better and want to read more.
After a break from Shakespeare to finish Mozart, next we have chosen to read a book series by Lois Burdett. We are reading “A Child’s Portrait of Shakespeare” first, then we will read her version of “Midsummer Night’s Dream.” On Wednesday, the kids really enjoyed hearing about William Shakespeare. This book style is lively and interactive. As much as I’d like to jump right into the original play, modern children are not as familiar with Shakespearan language so we will work up to reading the original plays by Shakespeare.
Handicrafts: This is another activity that is hard to fit into one day per week. We are doing art instead of handicrafts, with the original idea to alternate between the two every other term. The kids need art lessons so we might continue with Mark Kistler and dry brush painting, then add an extra day or extra afternoon for handicrafts and nature study. We have three full days planned in December, and are talking about one afternoon per week too. I can share more about method once we complete some projects.
Drama: After CM school, during free play time, the kids are making up skits and performing them for us. We hoped they would do this as a way to make connections with what they are learning (not just in CM school). This is something encouraged in Charlotte Mason’s schools too. I want to find or make more costumes and props for the kids. Liz has several at her house already.
Our Schedule: After moving around subjects to maximize and encourage the habit of attention, this is what is working for us. The kids need fresh minds to listen to a story and narrate. By afternoon they need to move and interact more. I am happy with the schedule, and I am really happy with our little co-op. A full day to a day and a half per week is perfect for us!