Teaching Textbooks

 

Teaching Shakespeare to Your Kids

Reading Shakespeare can seem a bit like a foreign language to both children and parents. Despite having studied (and loved) Shakespeare in college, teaching it has been a bit daunting. I don’t want our kids to just read it, muddle through, and not really appreciate it and all the subtleties each work contains. Granted that’s true of any piece of literature our children read, but works by Shakespeare tend to seem even more overwhelming because of the format and language.

A few weeks ago I picked up a book  How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare by Ken Ludwig (aff link), dragged it along with me through multiple airports, and FELL IN LOVE. You all, if you have ever doubted your ability to form a way to work on Shakespeare with your kids, you need to check out this book. Yes, you will have to read the actual book itself, but it has a plethora of information inside (I promise, it’s worth it). Technically, there are a few chapters you really want to read first and the remainder you could skim through unless you are studying those plays (definitely read the intro and chapters 1 – 6, 10, 14, 21, 31, and the epilogue), but I would recommend reading the entire book.Personally I would recommend a hard copy of this book (instead of Kindle) because it’s a book you will likely do a lot of flipping around back and forth.

Ludwig believes the younger you start kids learning and memorizing the better. While memorizing seems daunting, he breaks down the process, making it manageable and even something young children can work on. In addition to memorization techniques, Ludwig talks about Shakespeare’s life and history, components of Shakespeare’s plays (imagery, humor, poetry/prose, metaphors), and so much more.

While not an exhaustive look at all of his plays (Shakespeare wrote many!), the insight Ludwig provides into the various works is very helpful and will prompt some great discussion. In addition to delving into the reason for his book, how to use it, and giving a biography of Shakespeare’s life and works, a variety of Shakespeare’s plays are discussed in detail:

  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  • Twelfth Nigh
  • Romeo and Juliet
  • Macbeth
  • Henry IV, Part 1
  • As You Like It
  • Henry V
  • Hamlet
  • The Tempest

This year is the third year that I have taught a high school literature course as a part of a small co-op we belong to, and each year we have discussed one of Shakespeare’s plays and also attended a nearby Shakespeare production (more on that in a bit). Rarely do the play we are studying and the performance line up to be the same, and this year was no exception. We are studying The Tempest and the one performance we could attend was Romeo and Juliet. While I have quite a few notes and guides for each play, I loved the chapters of help on the both plays that Ludwig provides in How to Teach Your Children ShakespeareEach chapter offered some different insights and discussion ideas for our class (and a little something “fresh” for me to ponder as well). 

Understanding the Language of Shakespeare

Even if you understand the plot of one of Shakespeare’s plays, muddling through the language of the day can be hard for kids. There are key words and phrases that are interpreted differently today or than how we think they were written. A few resources I highly recommend are the No Fear Shakespeare guides or the Shakespeare Made Easy series which both offer the original words of a text on one page and then a modern day translation on the facing page so kids can better understand what is happening. While we go over and review various phrases in class with the kids, these have been extremely helpful for kids when reading through on their own.


Go See a Play (or Watch One) with Your Kids

We are also fortunate to have an incredible Shakespeare theatre not too far from us. Each month they offer student matinees and a “talkback time” with the actors after the show is over and we love to take advantage of their acting and knowledge. The theatre we visit is a recreation of Shakespeare’s indoor theatre and the actors and actresses are fabulous.  It’s one thing to read a play, but seeing it come to life in front of you is a completely different thing! The subtle delivery of a line or the mannerisms that go along with a monologue can completely change the meaning and understanding of a scene (body language speaks volumes). 

If you have a theatre nearby, I highly recommend taking time out of your day to attend with your kids (granted, remember that Shakespeare has quite a few innuendoes in his plays that may not be suitable for younger kids, but often pass over their heads as well). Our high school group laughed and followed the bulk of the performance we saw, but at times the dialogue moved so quickly some parts were lost on the kids. Still, it brought a deeper level of respect and understanding of Shakespeare to the kids, and they went home not dreading their upcoming reading as much (and that’s a win in my book!). 

A Few (Fun) Additional Resources


While reading the actual plays are key, above (and below) you’ll find a few other fun resources to go along with your Shakespeare studies. 

Our 6th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices

6th grade homeschool curriculum choices 2016 from Homeschool Creations

This year we have some familiar programs coming back to the desk and have one new (fresh off the presses) program as well. Zachary’s going to have a little more responsibility on his plate. Last year was stretching for him, and when I asked him what he wanted most this year, the answer was focus. (I’ll amen that.)

We had great intentions of geography last year, so this year we are definitely targeting that area together with his younger brother. Friends of ours are also studying US History, as well as Laurianna our 10th grader, and our intent in history is to work on a similar cycle with the boys so we can tie in some field trips with another family. Granted, we don’t really need to have every field trip go-along with with the era of history we are studying, but it does make it more fun! 

Zachary is moving away from our workbox system this year as well and trying to manage his own paperwork. It’s a step back for me and a more hands-off approach, but it’s something we both felt he needed – taking control of his ‘stuff’ so we could let go of some of the mental battle with each other. I don’t know if that makes complete sense, but suffice it to say, it’s a battleground some days and we will see how it goes. 

6th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices

Here’s a look at the overall plan for our 6th grade year…

While Zachary isn’t necessarily thrilled at all the curriculum at his disposal (grins), he is looking forward to his new science program – and I’m looking forward to see how he likes Writers in Residence this year. History is also shaping up to be fun since our friends are doing it alongside us, meaning the boys will have projects to work on together as well. 

The ‘extra’ incentive of EEME is also something motivating for Zachary. While it technically is science, he works on his projects from them when he is done with his day-to-day subjects. He likes to keep the most recent box on his desk to remind him of what is coming! 

FullSizeRender 8

One thing Zachary asked me to do this year – make him his own mini-planner of sorts. I printed off about 10 copies (front/back) of the daily assignment sheet I made for him last year, had it spiral bound for about $3, and he is using that to track his school work. He wasn’t quite ready for a full student planner yet like his sisters, and this is enough to help keep him accountable and make sure he is getting the things finished he needs to. It’s so tiny and cute – perfect for him. :)

Co-op Learning

Art isn’t necessarily Zachary’s favorite subject, so having it as part of co-op this year and being able to work on projects with friends may help sweeten the pot for him. Twice a month he will be getting together with a small group of middle schoolers to work on the following classes. 

  • Mad Scientists Club – kids will be reading short stories from this book and also working on go-along experiments. Last year they also completed a science fair project – FUN! 
  • Art – learning about a different artist and art technique each week/month. We’re still figuring out the best method of attack for this one. 

Curriculum in Year’s Past

In case you are interested in seeing the curriculum that brought us to this point, here’s a peek at what we’ve used with McKenna the past few years:

If you are new to homeschooling and aren’t sure where to begin in choosing homeschool curriculum, please don’t let this post overwhelm you! Check out the entire Homeschool Basics series for answers to more frequently asked homeschool questions.

See What the Other Kids Are Up To…

Click any of the images below to see our homeschool picks for the current school year. You’ll also find links to past years choices in each post. 

4th grade homeschool curriculum choices - from Homeschool Creations 6th grade homeschool curriculum choices 2016 from Homeschool Creations 8th grade homeschool curriculum choices 2016 10th grade homeschool curriculum choices from Homeschool Creations 2016

Student Planner PDF Download – TWO Choices! (and a SALE!)

Two choices of student planners from Homeschool Creations - help get your student on track_edited-4

Last fall I shared the student planner I had created for our daughters and after a full year of using it, both she and her sister decided they love it! It has been a perfect fit for our family, but several of you emailed and asked if there was another graphic option available – because a few sons felt it wasn’t quite for them. 

After some digging, we found one that our family loved, so another graphic choice for the Student Planner is now available – yay! To celebrate, be sure to read through to the bottom of the post because we are having a sale for one week only! 

About the Student Planners

FullSizeRender 64

The planners are undated, so you can save the file to your computer and reprint them year after year. At the back of the planner you’ll even find a link to a ‘secret’ page where you can download bonus pages to go along with the planner (and if you have a suggestion, feel free to email me and ask!). 

Want a peek inside? I promise it’s super simple – because we found we really didn’t need so much extra stuff, full of color, and ready to download and print. This is a look at our planner from last year (the circle graphic version). 

Email subscribers can watch the video here.

A quick note: I figured out that our printer will print BORDERLESS. It was one of the paper choices in settings. In the video you’ll see some of the pages that we experiments with (ones that were or weren’t printed all the way to the edge). Our front and back covers were printed onto cardstock and then laminated for extra durability. We use a heavy weight paper (24 lb.) to print the planner and make the pages a little thicker.

The Student Planner contains:

Weekly Student Planner layout from Homeschool Creations

  • 8 1/2” x 11” undated pages – use it year after year!
  • year at a glance dates
  • student information and schedule page
  • 12 blank monthly planning pages
  • weekly planning pages for 8 subjects
  • planning for every day of the week (smaller spaces for Saturday/Sunday)
  • goals, notes, and ‘what I learned’ section
  • tracking for books read
  • 2 layouts: August through July or January through December
  • link to a password protected page where you can download updated calendars and bonus pages for the planners

Two Great Designs

Choose the student planner that best fits your family’s needs – or choose both (there’s a special bundle price for purchasing two).

Student Planner collage_edited-1

The abstract circle graphic student planner features the colors green, dark blue, and a turquoise blue color for the monthly layouts. 

Student Planner collage hexagon_edited-1

The hexagon graphic student planner features the same inside layout with the colors green, orange, and a medium blue for the weekly layouts. 

Purchase a Student Planner

Each student planner is undated so you have the option of printing off a new copy each year. Each planner is available for $10 and you are more than welcome to print off copies for each of your children – this year and in years to come. Purchase both planners together in a bundle and save even more! There are THREE different purchase options.

Memorial Day Printables – Free Printables

Slide01

Every year families around the country gather for parades and get-togethers to observe Memorial Day, but do we fully understand the history behind Memorial Day? Over the last bit, we’ve been talking about how the holiday first began. 

To go along with our learning, I put together a set of Memorial Day Printables to use with our kids this upcoming week, and I am more than happy to share them with you all!

The Memorial Day Printables include thirteen pages of copywork, trivia cards, a word find, and coloring pages – a little something for kids of all ages. 

Memorial Day printables from Homeschool Creations Memorial Day printables from Homeschool Creations-2
Memorial Day printables from Homeschool Creations-3 Memorial Day printables from Homeschool Creations-4

 

The below clip from the History Channel has a quick history of the holiday as well…

Books for Kids About Memorial Day

 


Ready to Download? 

Feel free to download a copy of the Memorial Day printables by clicking on the download button below! :) Enjoy!

Are you planning to do anything special to celebrate Memorial Day? Share your ideas with us in the comments below.

 

Download button

 

Don’t Miss These Printables

Constitution-Day-Printables.png

You may also enjoy these Constitution Day printables as well in the upcoming months. 

Egg Drop Experiment – #STEM Challenge for Kids

 Egg drop experiment #stem challenge for kids

For our final co-op class, the kids were all challenged to create a device that would keep a raw egg safe from a second story window drop. They have had a blast with their prior STEM challenges this semester, and this egg drop experiment was no different. Seeing the various creative ideas each came up with to protect their eggs – and the groans and cheers that resulted was equally as fun as the egg drop itself! 

The eggs were supplied when the kids arrived, but during the week prior there were a few guidelines to follow in creating a protective barrier for the eggs: the completed device could be no longer/taller/wider than 12 inches and they needed to use items they found around the house. This meant that if a parachute was added, it was also part of the 12 inch guideline, so it needed to fit within that parameter. And yes, I brought a ruler. A few kids had guessed beforehand and ended up making last minute modifications to have it fit. 

Egg Drop Experiment Ideas

Ideas from the kids varied and it was much fun to see if they worked and hear their theories as to why they thought it would. Some had tested their devices before coming (and had success), but many waited to see how it would work. 

Egg Drop #STEM Challenge for kids-2

Our first egg drop used an old plastic jar lined with cotton balls galore. The jar was surrounded by skewers and adequately taped. The intent was to drop it and have the skewers cushion the drop so the jar wouldn’t hit the ground. 

Egg Drop #STEM Challenge for kids-40

While the container flipped during it’s drop, the impact wasn’t enough to break the egg and the cotton balls did their job cushioning the blow. The only thing that did break the egg was trying to get it out of the jar. A success! 

Egg Drop #STEM Challenge for kids-4

A recycled dishwasher tablet container filled with popcorn was the second entry. The overall container was very lightweight. 

Egg Drop #STEM Challenge for kids-44

Another egg survival! 

Egg Drop #STEM Challenge for kids-16

A ziploc bag filled with marshmallows and the egg surrounded by a gallon sized ziploc bag with more marshmallows was another entry. Predictions were looking good for this submission. 

Egg Drop #STEM Challenge for kids-28

Unfortunately, the density of the marshmallows was enough to crush the egg and it made a fairly runny mess. 

Egg Drop #STEM Challenge for kids-9

The smallest entry in the egg drop was a little box cushioned with cotton batting, a single egg carton styrofoam piece, all topped with rubber bands, the lid, and secured shut with a few rubber bands. 

Egg Drop #STEM Challenge for kids-34

Even though it was so small, it worked beautifully! 

Egg Drop #STEM Challenge for kids-5

A single roll of toilet paper with the cardboard tube removed and wrapped in duct tape was a cozy home for another egg. 

Egg Drop #STEM Challenge for kids-48

The squishably soft goodness of whatever brand used was enough to cushion the drop – another survivor! 

Egg Drop #STEM Challenge for kids-15

Bubble wrap around a small box was a last minute pull-together from one of the boys who may have forgotten to work on his assignment until the last minute. A parachute was also part of the plan, but was nixed due to size limitations. 

Egg Drop #STEM Challenge for kids-20

Fortunately his last minute effort paid off and his entry made it! 

Egg Drop #STEM Challenge for kids-13

This next one was fairly simple: tissue paper surrounding an egg with extra cushioning inside a plastic baggie then placed in a paper bag with more tissue paper. It was tested several times at home with success. 

Egg Drop #STEM Challenge for kids-54

Unfortunately, the padding was not done the same as it had been prior, and the egg did not survive the official drop.

Egg Drop #STEM Challenge for kids-8

Someone’s dad might be a little upset this summer when he realizes a few car sponges are missing from the garage. Originally this creation had a parachute added, but it needed to be removed because of size requirements.  The sponges were glued together and a small space was hollowed out in the middle to house the egg. 

Egg Drop #STEM Challenge for kids-23

This one was a definite success, even after multiple bounces when it landed – and HIGH bounces at that!

 

Overall, this was such a FUN time with the kids and a great way to end our semester class together. Have you ever done an egg drop with your co-op class or kids at home? If not – have some fun and see who can come up the most creative idea! 

 

Additional STEM Challenges

 

 

Jellybean and Toothpick Structure STEM Challenge

Jellybean and toothpick STEM challenge - building a structure that supports weight

For one of our most recent STEM classes at co-op we took advantage of Dollar Tree jellybeans and an overabundance of toothpicks. The kids have had so much fun with our hands-on challenges and learning about the best ways to build structures that are weight bearing and can stand a little pressure.

IMG_6948

Initially we divided up into four teams of 2-3 students each but gave the kids the option of combining with one other team to build their jellybean and toothpick structure. The kids decided that was definitely the better option and quickly moved together. They also realized it provided them with more jellybeans for eating, should they not used two entire bags for their structure (smart kids).

IMG_6951

One of the BEST things I heard came immediately after the kids combined (and while I eavesdropped on their strategy talk). Both teams were discussing the best way to build a structure that would support the most weight and still have a good height. From each team, the words “a triangle allows the strongest support” was heard. (Yes, they are listening!!)

IMG_6952

KEVA Planks were used as a sort of ‘holding pen’ for one of the teams – they didn’t want to risk floor contamination of jellybeans that may possibly be edible later. The other team obviously had no regard for where their beans ended up.

IMG_6955

IMG_6947

Both teams worked with a triangular setup for their structures, although one took a more systematic approach, setting up an assembly line of sorts. Team members started the process of putting a toothpick into a jellybean and creating piles, while others created pre-made triangles for another team member to work into their structure.

 

IMG_6953

Overall both teams had a blast with this challenge.  One structure was definitely more organized and that may be the team that wasn’t distracted by eating jellybeans along the way. 

IMG_6954

While Team 1’s structure was taller overall, it came to a definite peak and would not support as much weight when added (we stacked file folders on each structure to see how many it would hold). Team 1 eventually lost their triangular structure as their building continued( see the note on jellybean consumption), lost focus, and that ended up being their downfall.

IMG_6960

Team 2 had a much wider and elaborate base design (neater overall) thanks to their assembly line process. While their structure didn’t reach quite as much height as Team 1’s design, it supported more than twice the weight since it was able to more evenly distribute the weight when stacked.

(And jellybeans were consumed by all).

Such a fun and sticky challenge. Incidentally, picking up a box of 500 toothpicks that are spilled can be pointy and painful.

Additional STEM Challenges