Sep 21, 2011

So what's this comunnity tab at the top?

Ah yes, that tab that has sat dormant all summer while I worked on the e-book.  Well, it's an experiment.  I want a chance to get to know my readers, and for you to be able to get to know each other.  In short, a forum.

There are many ways to contact me, such as commenting on a post, commenting on facebook, and personal e-mail.  Those options will always be there, and I will try to answer questions any way that you feel comfortable with.

However, to get feedback from several people, and to start your own topic, you need a forum.

Why Blog Frog?  Well, for one, it's free for me on my end.  (I'm cheap.)  But more than that, I love how Blog Frog gives you a chance to promote your own blog while participating in other forums.  By being a member of a community, your most recent posts will show up.  When you comment, people have the option of seeing who you are and what your blog is.  That is, if you are into that kind of a thing.  You can also create an anonymous profile linking to no blog at all.  There are options.

Here are the first two discussions:

Getting Started

Getting to know you

Below is Blog Frog's standard tour video to give you an idea of what it is all about.

Sep 20, 2011

The music of life

Music is everywhere.  We hear it all the time, but finding it is the challenge.  Music is defined by as

mu·sic ( n.)

1. The art of arranging sounds in time so as to produce a continuous, unified, and evocative composition, as through melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre.
2. Vocal or instrumental sounds possessing a degree of melody, harmony, or rhythm.
           a. A musical composition.
           b. The written or printed score for such a composition.
           c. Such scores considered as a group: We keep our music in a stack near the piano.
4. A musical accompaniment.
5. A particular category or kind of music.
6. An aesthetically pleasing or harmonious sound or combination of sounds: the music of the wind in the pines.

Today's I want to emphasize number six.

One of my favorite experiences in my 20th century music class was the day we took a break from the textbooks and went on a "field trip."  We were instructed not to talk, but only to listen as we followed our instructor.  Where did we go?  We walked out of the classroom, past all of the practice rooms, and outside.  We walked past the gardens surrounding the building, and around the sidewalk by the road.  Finally we re-traced our steps and went back to our classroom.

What did we hear?  Among other things:

  • Footsteps
  • People breathing
  • Doors opening and closing
  • Professors teaching students
  • Students practicing
  • The wind
  • Birds chirping
  • Cars driving
  • People talking
What was the form of the "unique musical composition" that we had just heard?  Many possible suggestions were validated by the professor.  The underlying theme that was heard throughout the "piece" was footsteps.  One student wore flip-flops that day, and to her embarrassment, but the edification of all, the steady beat of her walking was considered by some to be the pulse of our number.

May I suggest that you do a "sound walk" with your students?  Preface it by telling them that they are going to hear a musical number that no-one has ever heard before, and will never hear again.  As a parent, you have the luxury of trying it in several places.  Take a minute here or there to say "It's sound walk time."  It may be at the grocery store, on a nature walk, driving with the windows rolled down, or walking through your neighborhood.  When they are done, they can draw a picture of what they heard, or of what made the sounds that they heard.

In a busy place, you can play the game, "I hear with my little ear..." (an alternative to eye spy).  "I hear with my little ear the humming of a machine."  "Its it the air conditioner?" "No."  "Is it the elevator?"  "Yes!"

Music can also be made with anything.  My favorite percussion group is "Stomp!"  They are world-class musicians that make music out of ordinary things, from basketballs bouncing, playing cards, and dicing cucumbers.  I have shown excerpts of Stomp Out Loud to my students many times.  Recently I discovered that they partnered up with Seasame Street to make a DVD called "Let's Make Music", which I love and highly recommend for the little ones.  Your local library may have it.  Here's a little trailer.

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What is the take-home message of this post?  Find ways to discover music in your everyday life, and encourage your children to do the same.  Get out the kitchen pots and pans and experiment with the different sounds that they make.  Does a metal bowl sound better when you hit it with a wooden spoon, or a metal one?  When you are driving in the rain, point out the steady beat that the windshield wipers make.  Slap your hands on the wall and have some fun.  Take time to listen.  You don't have to go to the symphony to hear and experience live music.

Sep 17, 2011

Egyptian Pyramid

This is a fun little printable to teach your student/child the rhythm pyramid.  The rhythm pyramid shows several notes in layers that all have the same time value.  A whole note has the same time value as two half notes.  Two half notes have the same time value as four quarter notes, and four quarter notes have the same value as eight eighth notes.  Each level of the pyramid has the same time value, but there are fewer notes on every level.  That's the rhythm pyramid.

My children are learning about Egypt this week, and so I made this printable to coincide with our lessens.  The bottom half is the puzzle base, and the top half are cards meant to be cut out.  You can laminate the sheet and use it again and again, or you can print it on cheaper paper, and have the children cut and paste the cards into the puzzle.

Have fun!

Egyptian Pyramid

Sep 16, 2011

Laminating posters at home

A friend of mine recently showed me how to laminate at home without a laminating machine.  She uses a simple hot-iron, and it works beautifully for posters, lap-booking, small manipulatives, and anything else that you might want to laminate.  She buys a big roll of THERMAL laminate, like the one pictured here from, and irons it, as shown in the video.

Another project I did with this laminate is to make magnets for the kids to play with.  I printed out a tangram and laminated one side with the hot iron.  Then I placed it on a sticker-magnet and cut it out, and the kids had magnetic tangrams to play with on a couple of cookie sheets that I bought at a second-hand store.  Unfortunately the printer did some automatic sizing that made the tangrams be too small for our tangram puzzles.

We also got a free phone-book the bay before our trip, which had a free magnet advertisement on it.  It was actually the perfect size for tangrams, and fits snug in our tangram puzzles.  The only problem is that I got too hasty and put the parallelogram on the wrong side.  :p

I also forgot to take a picture before our trip, and so a triangle is missing, and in the tangram I printed, my baby sucked on the red triangle at the bottom.  Well, now you know that we're human, but I'd still rather share the picture.  :o)

I also like to laminate with my laminating machine shown in the video.  I buy 200 8.5"-11" sheets for $20 at Sam's Club, sized perfectly for printouts.  The sheets are thicker and come out looking more professional than the homemade laminate does.  However, I usually don't need professional, I just need durable, and the hot iron does the job at a much lower cost.  I also LOVE not having to go to the craft store to do posters.  The last time I did that with three little kids there was a lot of chaos.  Never again!

Have fun laminating!  If you homeschool and have never laminated before, I HIGHLY recommend it!
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