Friday, September 30, 2016

Drama for History of the Middle Ages {Explorer and Trailblazer Edition}

    Our first purpose in this class is to glorify God and to enjoy Him. This past month, we have sought to accomplish this very goal. We have delved into many different speech and drama techniques to help the students feel comfortable speaking and expressing with their peers. In the process, we have helped cement a Biblical worldview concerning certain historical events.

     We began with the fall of Rome for our first lesson. The students sat in a semi-circle to imitate Roman theatre. One by one, they all gained the opportunity to be Roman orators. For their impromptu exercise, they pretended they had time machines and decided which time period in history they would go. The students gave so many creative responses to this assignment.

    The next week, the students morphed into Vikings ready to tell sagas around a roaring fire. They were each given fearless Viking names to help them practice dramatic facial expressions. They learned that they could choose and control their attitudes for speech and drama presentations. The verse of that week was from Philippians: "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me." This verse reminds us that confidence ultimately comes from God. He created us with adrenaline that gives us energy. This mindset will transcend natural shyness and fear.

    We also practiced correct speech posture using kinesthetic sense. Other speech concepts like eye contact and attention-maintaining introductions were discussed. During the last week in September, the students displayed their new skills with a prepared speech.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Music - Navigators

We first listened to each students selections for Melody. Each student explained why they chose this melody.

We started working on the Music Projects in class. Students wrote down a few compositions that they listen to on a regular basis, and began thinking about how that music relates to them. They will be continuing this assignment at home this week.


1-Listen to the Listening Examples for Rhythm, be ready to discuss next week

2-Write a few paragraphs on the music that is important in your life. Focus on the music that relates
    to you, and reflects who you are in some way. Why do you love it? What does that say about you?
    What do you hope it says about you?

3-Raid your music collection. Use the thoughts and comments you wrote above, and try to find the
    music that best illustrates those ideas. Remember, you will be making an audio collage - so, be
    thinking about the sounds and feelings that you want in your final project.

Music - Trailblazers/Pathfinders

Trailblazers & Pathfinders continued working on Rhythm.

We learned a game called Rhythm Train, which helped us fine tune our rhythm reading & playing. Each student had a boarding pass with 2 rhythms on it. The first was theirs, the second was another students. Players had to listen very carefully for when their rhythm was played, repeat it and 'call' the next person.

We also spent a good deal of time listening to 'In the Hall of the Mountain King' composed by Edvard Grieg. This piece is from a suite called The Peer Gynt Suite. So, first we listened to the legend of Peer Gynt(the children's version) almost to the end. After listening to the piece the kids came up with their own ending to the story. Throughout this piece the same motive is repeated many times, and so we discussed how the composer used a changing tempo and dynamics to make the piece exciting.

Music - Explorers

The Explorers continued exploring melody and pitch.
  • Using bells we played high and low melodies & accompanied a song we sang together
  • We listened to 'The Aquarium'(from The Carnival of the Animals). The children listened carefully to the way the melody moved up and down. And they described what they heard-bubbles, octopuses, and lots and lots of fish. And then they worked very hard putting what they heard into an aquarium picture.
  • Using 4 notes each child composed their own melody to play on the bells

Byzantine Empire - History 1&2, Explorers & Trailblazers

The term Byzantine is used to refer to the Eastern half of the Roman Empire after it was divided. The peak of the Byzantine Empire occurred after 527 during the Justinian Dynasty. Justinian I (Justinian the Great) took on many projects including reviewing all of the existing Roman laws re-writing them into a single book often called the Justinian Code. Under his rule the empire gained territory and maintained peace through tribute pay-outs to the Persians. This caused them to continually increase taxes, eventually leading to discontent among the people.
 In class activities:

  • Learned about Justinian's origins as a peasant
  • Discussed the influence of the Demes, chariot racing teams who had great political power
  • Divided ourselves into blue and green parties, and discussed what would happen if we only took care of the people on our side
  • Literally stitched Rome back together, showing how Justinian attempted to rebuild Rome
  • Wrote our own book of laws
  • Watched portions of a cartoon explaining Justinian's influence
Optional lesson extension activities:
  • Read history card MA - 7 and discuss the topic of Islam with your family
  • Practice your timeline

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Art: Pathfinders & Navigators

Tuesday, September 27

Students jumped right into class by starting back to work on the MOSAICS we began in class last week. It was fun watching the random, colorful shapes that were cut out last week take shape!

As students worked on their own mosaics, we looked at photos of mosaics from the early medieval time. A couple of mosaics from the catacombs featured the Christian symbols we had discussed in our first class. We also looked at an image of a huge, detailed, and amazing mosaic in one Rome's oldest churches. In each of these mosaics, we discussed how some of the characteristics of the Byzantine art period are seen in these works.

-Be prepared to explain and describe what a FRESCO is.

Today in class we began learning about GIOTTO, an early medieval artist. We will continue to look at some of his works in the next class. Here is a great link that shares a lot about his life and works:

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Music - Navigators

In this class we began to discuss what music is, and what it was created for. Over the course of the next few weeks we will be comparing the basic elements of music to our own lives...what is the melody of your life? Melody was the main theme for this week. We discussed the characteristics and structure of a melody, and then spent some time listening for these things in some different pieces of music.

    Listening Samples
    • Gregorian Chant: Haec dies
    • Mozart: The Marriage of Figaro
    • Schoenberg: Pierrot lunaire, No 18
    • Bach: Cantata No. 80, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, No 2
    • Send me your own music sample for melody
    • look up and start getting familiar with 'Audacity' for your project
         Create a 2-3 minute audio collage about the music you like and what it says about you.

    ART - Pathfinders & Navigators

    Tuesday, September 20

    Today in class we began working on MOSAICS, a type of medieval art. Each student chose a Christian symbol and two colors to be featured in the creation of their mosaic; the significance of these symbols and colors from early Christian art were discussed last week in class.

    We began a discussion on the Byzantine art period, and what were the characteristics of this period:
    -It was simple, and one dimensional
    -Colors were somber
    -Human figures were almost always front facing, and featured long, narrow faces with little detail
    -It was Pietistic (Christian) in subject matter
    -Religious members such as monks made up a large percent of the artists of this period
    -Sculptures were forbidden as they were considered idols

    Next week we will look in closer detail at some mosaics from this art period as students will finish working on their personal mosaics.

    -Research the artist Giotto di Condone, and learn about his life and works. CORRECTION: Giotto di Bondone - works & biography

    Music - Trailblazers/Pathfinders

    What is rhythm and how does it work? What's the difference between the rhythm and the beat? These are all questions that we answered together in class. Using rhythm sticks we found the rhythms and beats in the songs we sang and listened to.

    Next we reviewed note values, and playing written rhythms. And we practiced reading rhythms with a Rhythm Telephone Relay.

    Trailblazers worked on a Rhythmic Inventions page, figuring out the rhythms of syllables, words and phrases.

    Pathfinders learned about polyrhythms, which is the simultaneous use of two or more rhythmic patterns. And then, in groups of three, they started composing their own polyrhythms.

    Music - Explorers

    All About Melody

    The melody is usually the part of the song that we remember. To demonstrate this, the kids were each given a song to hum. As they hummed their tune, they also listened for what songs others were humming, and tried to find people who were humming the same tune.

    A melody is the tune of a piece, and it is made from different pitches, some high and some low, put together in a particular order. To see the way pitch works, we made maps of a melody(Amazing Grace) on the floor, and then we started composing our own melodies.

    Wednesday, September 21, 2016

    End of Western Rome - History 1&2, Explorers & Trailblazers

    After Jesus died followers spread the word that He was, and is, God.  This process was facilitated by the order and shared language of the Roman empire.  Sadly, Roman authorities believed that the worshipers of Jesus were dangerous and enslaved or killed many believers. 

    Persecution continued until 313CE when Constantine the Great ruled that Christianity was legal.  
    Christianity eventually became the official state religion, spreading it throughout the empire.  This ran counter to traditional Roman rule, which declared the emperor to be one of (or equal to) the gods, and was one factor in the decline of Rome, in addition to many others.

    In 330CE, the Empire was intentionally split into two parts: the western half centered in Rome and the eastern half centered in Constantinople. This defenensive move did not prevent repeated attacks of Rome by the barbarians who eventually conquered Western Rome.

    In class activities:
    • Learned the meaning of the ichthus and made our own scratch art fish
    • Reviewed the words barbarian and vandal in both their original and modern definition (the kids thought it was hilarious that pants were considered barbaric in Rome)
    • Discussed the "hard words" on this week's history cards including "vulgate" and "council" - discussed why our timeline handmotions help our brains to remember the meaning of what we are saying.
    • Played a game in which we tried to defend a large area from invaders
    • Learned about persecution & Constantine
    • Located Rome on a world map, and then highlighted the extent of the empire on regional maps
    • Discussed cardinal directions & marked the portion of Rome that fell to barbarians
    • Added to our Medieval Notebook
    Optional lesson extension activities:
    • Read history cards MA 5 & 6 (St Benedict and Monasticism & Justinian the Great)
    • Practice your timeline

    Explorers and Trailblazers Art

    We reviewed who Cimabue was and what was special about him. We  colored in the" gold plated" area around Jesus head on a copy of his famous painting. We, then painted our castle drawings with watercolor. I reviewd or introduced them to the proper way to set up supplies and prepare your watercolor. We put our Cimabue picture into the notebooks. 
     Homework! finish coloring the Cimabue picture of Jesus and make sure you have a notebook for art history.

    Monday, September 19, 2016

    Explorers and Trailblazers Art class
    I read a story about an artist from the Middle Ages, named Chimabue. He was the first to try making people look realistic by turning their heads sideways or tilting them. He also used gold to accentuate certain things, like halo's.We drew a castle and added gold enhancements to it.  Sometimes kids are intimidated about drawing buildings.So, we broke down the parts of a castle drawing with shapes, so they could experience success. I think they were mostly pleased with the results. This week we will paint these amazing drawings that the kids made!

    Wednesday, September 14, 2016

    Music - Navigators

    The Navigators Class this year is a great group who seems very ready and willing to learn and experience music. Since this class is a little older with many varying degrees of musical understanding, I will be slightly changing the plan. We will still be doing an overview of the fundamental elements of music, but we will be focusing much more on listening and appreciating many different styles of music, which of course, will include Medieval and Renaissance.

    Students will be asked each week to bring in their own samples of music that relates to each topic that we are working with. And there will also be a cool project called 'Music as Identity'.(more details on the project will be discussed next week)

    Please come to class next week with a notebook & folder


    Music - Pathfinders

    Concepts Discussed:
    • Music is a variety of sounds arranged in an organized way
    • Sound is created from vibrations
    • Rhythm is one of the basic elements of music. It is the organization of time in music, and it gives shape to the melody or tune of a piece.
    • We started exploring the difference between the rhythm and the beat
    • Note Values diagram

    Assignment - review the note values and be ready to play some rhythm games next week

    Music - Explorers & Trailblazers

    It was a great start as we began learning about The Building Blocks of Music. We went over the 6 basic building blocks and their definitions:

    Melody - the tune of a piece
    Harmony - when more than one note is played or sung
    Rhythm - repeated patterns of beats and sounds
    Dynamics - the volume or loudness of the music
    Tone Color - the sound of a voice or instrument, each one sounds different
    Form - how a song or composition is put together

    In class we also talked about what sound is and how it travels, and then we listened to a musical story called 'Never Play Music Right Next to the Zoo'

    History Navigators and Pathfinders 9/13/2016

    The Roman Empire, prior to the Middle Ages, had been one of the greatest in the known world at the time. The Roman army was one of the most successful and most feared. The Romans began to live lives that were centered around pleasure and excess. In keeping with this mindset they also began to have fewer children. They eventually resorted to recruiting slaves and soldiers from the surrounding countries in order to replenish the dwindling supply from their own people.
    The Barbarians were among these recruits. Ultimately these tribes and others invaded and conquered the Roman Empire. Pastor Huntley shared a brief slide show of weapons used during that time.

    Prior to the fall of Rome, Christians were still heavily persecuted. However, very often these Christ followers would willingly martyr themselves both in the Coliseum as well as being crucified. Their courage and reliance on, as well as devotion to, Christ strengthened other christians and the movement as a whole. It had the opposite effect that the Romans had hoped for which was to destroy it.

    During the Barbarian rule christians continued to venture where others would not. Often they could be found entering places where plagues and disease were present. In stark contrast to those fleeing these places, they would move in to care for the sick and dying.

    This is the way of the Cross - people willing to die to self and live (and die) for Christ.

    Mrs. Cross introduced the students in the Navigators class to the story of Perpetua, a Christian martyr whose personal account of what she went through was the first recorded account of a martyr's experience. You can read more about it. I have included a link to Christianity Today

    After the class, the students went outside to the parking lot where several of them were "crucified".

    Homework: Please read Cards 3,4,and 5 for next week. For those who do not have the cards yet images will be sent to your email.

    Pathfinders and Navigators Drama Day 1!

    Our first week was successful in many ways!  The children were engaged and fabulously flexible as I filled in for the new drama teacher who was unfortunately called away to serve on Jury Duty.

    We reviewed rules of audience etiquette and respect for all as we dive into the very personal world of performing.  The children were able to meet their fabulous TA Mrs. Baglio!  We jumped right into  being on stage as they shared one fact about themselves.  Many drama skills are acquired through play so we spent the remainder of our class playing games! 

    In one 45 minute period we discovered things about each other we didn't know, worked together without verbal communication, performed together under a time crunch, and enjoyed one another!

    Thank you to each of the children in these classes for being gracious, respectful, and kind!  You are a treasure and I look forward to the opportunity to work with you again!

    Barbarians & Vikings - History 1 & 2, Explorers and Trailblazers

    The term Barbarian does not describe one specific people group.  It means outsider, or people who were foreigners to the main ruling countries (Greece, & later Rome).  This included the Huns, Franks, Vandals, Saxons, and Goths, Visigoths. They were thought of as uncivilized and uncultured people.  During the Barbarian invasions (also known as the Migration Period) from 400 - 800, these feared warriors conquered many lands including the Roman empire.  

    The Vandals' descendants later became known as the Vikings.   Because they had to depend on the sea, the Vikings became expert boat builders who lived as traders and settlers.  They launched ferocious attacks on Europe, looting and pillaging before returning to the sea.

    ___In class activities:
    • Discussed the words barbarian and vandal and learned about their origin
    • Thought about how foreign languages sound to those who don't speak the language and discussed the impact that lack of communication can have
    • Built a Viking longboat
    • Started creating a Medieval notebook
    • Played the viking game Kubb
    • Studied maps of the Barbarian homelands
    • Discussed misconceptions about Vikings (they did not wear hats with horns)
    ___Optional lesson extension activities:
    • Read Viking Ships at Sunrise (Magic Tree House #15) by Mary Pope Osborne (96p.)
    • Read Adventures with the Vikings by Linda Bailey (48p.)
    • Learn about the martyrs - the Torchlighter videos are fantastic and they come with printable activities. For this week the ones covering Augustine and Perpetua are highly recommended.


    • Read history cards MA 3&4, and NT32
    • Practice your timeline

    Tuesday, September 13, 2016

    Art - Pathfinders and Navigators

    Tuesday, September 13

    Class Overview
    It was great to see everyone back and eager for a new season of classes! We started the new semester with an overview of our theme for this historical period: art in the church. Medieval and Renaissance art found a large percent of it's inspiration and display in the churches. We began our journey of early Christian church art in the Catacombs.

    The artwork found in these tunnels featured Bible narratives or Christian Symbols. We discussed the importance of colors in these works; because of the limited selection and often tedious paint-making process, the simple colors held great meanings. For example, blue meant heavenly grace or favor; this is why Mary, the mother of Jesus is often portrayed in blue clothing. Students created a reference sheet of the meaning of these colors, and also a list of various Christian symbols to be used in upcoming art projects.

    -Select a Christian Symbol and 2 or 3 colors to be used in next week's mosaic project.
    *Students might find it helpful to look up images of mosaics, both historical and modern.
    - Bring in an old magazine or catalog that can be cut up.
    - Research the Byzantine Art period; be prepared to share characteristics of this period.

    I have found the following website to be a good wealth of info regarding Medieval and Early Christian Art: