The Lit Mama Homeschool is back in full swing, refreshed and rejuvenated, after two weeks off for Thanksgiving break. I hope all my lovely readers had an amazing Turkey Day. We did at the Brison house. I baked all day Wednesday and cooked the meal on Thursday, with one caveat–which was the GREATEST thing I have ever done for Thanksgiving.
I cooked my turkey. In the Crockpot. Overnight. So I didn’t have to do Any Real Work. It was… amazing. All I did was thaw the turkey, remove the neck and giblets, stuff it with an onion, an apple, and some garlic and celery, and turn the Crock on high for 3 hours. Now, I had to get up at midnight to turn the Crock down to low, but that took 20 seconds of barely-interrupted sleep. For the first time ever, I got to hunt on Thanksgiving morning because I didn’t have to stand over a turkey. A. Maz. Ing. I will never cook turkey any other way. When I got up at 5:30 to hunt, I turned the Crock off, kept the lid on, and by the time we were ready to eat at 1:00 the turkey was still warm, nicely, browned, and juicy as a turkey can get. I’m telling you. This is the big secret. Now you know. Go forth, young Padawan, and use the Force for good next year.
Anyway, school is back on and we’re having a blast. We have three weeks till Christmas break, and I’ve mentioned before we always use this time for a concentrated unit. We’ve done pirates, dinosaurs, Christmas Around the World, and Victorian Christmas. This year, we’re doing composers. In fact, we’re learning more about Beethoven, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Vivaldi, and Bach. Having studied music theory already, we are using this time to learn a bit more biography about each of these composers while reminding ourselves of their wondrous music.
We love to do charts here at Lit Mama. Charts help the Littles get facts straight in their heads. We have done them when studying explorers, dinosaurs, the 13 colonies, China’s dynasties… You can make a chart for anything. For us, it’s an easy reference to keep the information we’re learning straight. You would be surprised how much the Littles remember about explorers from our study 3 years ago. And I really believe the charts have a lot to do with it. We keep the charts, too. They have their own place on the back of the classroom door, so we can refer to them when we need them.
I use freezer paper to make the charts. I think I’ve probably told you before that freezer paper is the poor woman’s art paper. It’s white. It’s wide. It comes in a long roll. It’s wax-backed, so paint and marker don’t bleed through. Mm hmm. Perfect. I just cut a piece in the length I need, then I think of some common facts for each of the subjects we’re studying and make a graph. The Littles fill it in as we learn. For the composers chart, I listed lifespan, period, country, unique attribute, famous piece, full name, and age of first concert. These facts are important for keeping these 5 composers straight in their heads. Some of them for obvious reasons, but I thought listing a unique attribute for each composer would help them remember things like Beethoven’s deafness and that Mozart was a prodigy. Knowing the age they were when they gave their first public performance might help the Littles understand how great musicians were made back then. Listing one famous piece will help them at least remember one thing composed by each person as they grow older and develop their own taste in music. I was a little disappointed when the listed Beethoven’s 5th rather than Moonlight Sonata, which is my all-time, hands-down, favorite instrumental piece of music. But at least they recognize it when it plays as easily as they do the 5th symphony.
I am interested to see, when we start on Mozart on Thursday, what they make of his rock-star lifestyle. I explained today that they would see that he was kind of like a child actor who grew up never learning boundaries or self-control as opposed to Beethoven’s very adult rudeness and self-absorption (but really–can you blame him? He is still probably the most widely-recognized composer for a very good reason. Plus, it had to be torture, having all that music in his head and not being able to hear it. So give him a break). They are looking forward to learning more.
I hope the holidays and the shoppers are treating you well. Remember to be kind to each other even when it’s difficult. A smile and a nice word might just make someone pay it forward, and then we could all have a pleasant season. And get our shopping done. And not accidentally-on-purpose heel a stranger with our carts.