Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Circle Time, Part 2 - Read Alouds

Since most of my children are on the younger side I keep our morning circle time short.  We do however try to read throughout the day, normally in conjunction with food or playing with building toys.  This might become more complicated as we add in more commitments throughout the semester - but for now it is working well.  I really like the Latin Centered Curriculum idea where you focus on one (okay, I do two) subjects a day and read aloud/ narrate from that subject.  I like the concept of loops - but have found that assigning specific days and leaving extra cushion on Friday works better for me.  I also have 4 potential times I can read aloud any day- morning snack or break, lunch, afternoon snack or handicraft time and then dinner.  I might even try bed time (more for catch up in Bible if needed).  

I also add in literature - in the past we have had literature scheduled 3x per week with English Lessons Through Literature, but we are taking a break from that curriculum this year.  I just read a chapter of our literature books chosen from Ambleside as the kids request it (we are reading Caddie Woodlawn and Brighty of the Grand Canyon right now).  I am not doing Ambleside's main literature works this term because they are scheduled elsewhere for me - so I picked ones that reflect American history since that is the CC history focus this year.

Monday - Science/ Literature (see above)

Pagoo - once the boys heard it was a hermit crab they were hooked - we have 3 of them!

CC's focus is on anatomy this semester so we are probably going to grab facts and information from this print out a friend of ours passed along (it is a free PDF but it takes a while to download).  I did think about trying out the Sassafras Science curriculum on anatomy but decided it just didn't fit the budget or time schedule this year.

Tuesday - The Classics 

D'Aulaires' Greek Myths - we are reading this according to the schedule outlined in Introduction to Classical Studies 

Shakespeare - My son has already listened to many of the stories from Tales from Shakespeare and I know that it is scheduled in the curriculum we will use next year for literature, so I am doing something different this year. A while back I got Shakespeare's Storybook which is a collection folk tales that he might have known and have similar themes and plots to his own stories.  We read the first one last week and my son keeps quoting me the main line "soft words and a gentle touch" - OUCH!   I am reading and thinking about the suggestions from How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare.   I am also thinking about reading the bard myself - crazy, I know!  I also found a book called The Children's Shakespeare by Edith Nesbit. I can't tell if it is the same as Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare or something separate.  I need to investigate more.  I have it checked out from the library but haven't read it.  If I like it we might read that next semeseter.

Wednesday - American History and Geography, Artist/ Composer

States and Presidents - Since CC is focusing on US history and geography this year, we are reading aloud fun books about these two areas to help give them an overview of history.  We are reading Smart About the Fifty States, Smart About the Presidents, Don't Know Much about the Presidents and Don't Know Much about the 50 States.  Honestly, much of the information is duplicated but my kids really like it.  I wanted to use something that was accessible to the almost 5 yo.  My oldest is also reading about the presidents on his own as part of his reading/ composition time.

Artist/ Composer - We are following the Ambleside suggestions for that this year (in the past we have used the art incorporated in English Language Lessons Through Literature - similar types of selections).  I did decide that we like medieval art and Fra Angelico has some interesting depictions - so I got the set of prints (not the whole book) from Simply Charlotte Mason.  I just ordered them so they haven't arrived yet.  We also have

We also checked out the composers' CD from the library and my husband is looking for it on Freegal. Honestly, we will listen to it in the car and I might tell them a little about the history.

Thursday - Ancient History/ Geography 

Famous Men of Rome is what we are reading this year following the outline in Introduction to Classical Studies.  I decided not to get the workbook, just the text, because we are going to narrate it.  I do like having the weekly outline in the book because it helps highlight key characters, places, themes and helps us pace our readings well.  The suggestion is to read these three works for three years.  However, I plan to tweak it - keep the basics - Bible, Ancient History, Mythology - but change the works that we use (Sutcliffe, Men of Greece, etc.)

We are following Marco Polo using the handy week by week text provided through Ambleside online. This text reads more as an adventure story than anything else - I will have to make sure I do try to focus on the geography a little bit.  Today, though we reviewed quite a few places we learned last year in CC which was nice.

Friday - Literature

We read more chapters from our literature books than what is "scheduled" because the kids enjoy them. Plus, it's a way to calm them down when they are rowdy and it is 98 outside!  Although I do try to remember the caution to not read too fast (thus the reason for two books at a time). But, I have it on the schedule in case we get really busy.

The Wrap Up 

In the end, this might be too much for us to actually remember the stories well.  I have weighted Tuesday and Thursday with the "older" subjects because those are the days my 5 yo will be at preschool.  I don't think he is ready for Greek Myths or Famous Men of Rome yet.   So far, he mostly plays with his little brother or eats when we read these anyway.   Once he starts "back to school" (I picked the most playful preschool I could find) my oldest and I will probably read these while the youngest sleeps (hopefully) - a new (5th chance) time slot for reading aloud.   Again, each day we are really talking about 20 to 30 minutes of concentrated read aloud time. Since I often have 2 subjects in a day I will break it up - read one at morning snack and one mid afternoon.   If the day is really hectic, when my husband comes home, he takes the younger ones (to a bath usually) and I cover what we haven't read with the oldest.

Writing it out like this made me realize that I need to be more intentional about reading books that are at my almost 5 yo's level.  We have been reading aloud from 20th Century Children's Book Treasury (many of the stories we have elsewhere, but someone gave us this collection).  I need to pick a few chapter books like Paddington Bear and Among the Farmyard People (etc.) and some Beatrix Potter and read it aloud to him.  I'll work on that :)  Really, I just need to pick a reading plan from Pathways (it's a free list of good literature, in a schedule, for PreK4 and 5) and put it in our schedule.

This year we are doing dual track history, in large part because CC is doing American history.  We'll see how that goes.  My son is really interested in the myths so it's not hard to get him to engage in that part of what we are doing and I have kept the American history reading light and fun.

So this is the second "element" of our day.  We have our daily read aloud work (morning circle time) and our rotating read aloud work (as it fits into that day).  This is where the "ideas" come from, the story, the connection to art, history, music and more. The last part of our day is individual work. This is where he is developing skills (all the -ings and math/ Latin) as he "imitates the masters and moves towards mastery".  I will cover that in another post!

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