Friday, April 10, 2015

Handicraft and Music Update

We're well on our way through term 3 of Ambleside Online's Year 1. Towards the end of last term, we really slowed down on some of the "extras". This had something to do with being nine months pregnant and having baby AJ at the end of January. This term, though, we are doing great! We are still not doing enough nature study, but I plan to make up for that this summer. There is still so. much. snow.

I am so proud of myself for actually doing some non-cooking/baking handicrafts this term! In case you haven't picked up on this yet, I am emphatically not into arts and crafts. However, I have pulled out the paper and the origami book and we are folding paper once a week together. Stephen has gotten in on the action as well and made the boys some very cool jumping frogs.

 Now I know you're wondering about how "real" this craft is. Charlotte Mason handicrafts are not usually of the useless, throw-away sort. However, having done it for a few weeks now, I wish I'd done more of this as a child. I am not the sort of person who can look at things and understand how they are made or how they work. I think folding paper may really begin to develop a child's relationship with physical materials so they have a real understanding of how things are designed and made. I am confident that origami will be the first step to paper sloyd for us.

So far, we have created little boxes, boats to float in the bath tub, and 3D houses. The boys are still not doing these on their own...they do the first few folds, and then need help with the tricky parts. Maybe I need to find a simpler origami book so we can find some projects they can do completely on their own? But anyway, we're having fun with it, and we're actually doing something, which is more than the nothing we were doing before.

I mentioned in November that my 6- and 4-year-old boys were still not singing on-key. I'm so happy to be able to say now that they have made progress.

I began with "so" and "mi". I would sing those two notes and ask them to listen and hold it in their mind. Then I asked them to sing the same notes, and they did! They were perfectly in tune and had beautiful tone. We did that several times. Then I introduced them to "Up and Down," a song I stumbled across on YouTube from Jolly Music. For some reason they absolutely loved this simple, two-note song. We played games with it. A few times we held hands and put our hands up and down with the words of the song. Other times I would sing the first "up and down" and point at one of them to sing the next bit. They can sing the song perfectly on tune, as long as we don't try to sing it together. Somehow the effort of listening and producing the right note can not be done at the same time yet.

Next, I started to point out the so-mi interval in the hymns we were singing. "Jesus Loves Me" begins with so, mi, mi, for example. I sang songs in solfege so they would start noticing the different notes in the songs we sing every day. Both of them are starting to be able to produce a line of a hymn. This is still as long as we don't try to sing on-key together. Still, echoing and alternating lines is fun. We are learning "Nothing But the Blood of Jesus," and that particular line repeats several times in the hymn. So I will sing all the other lines, and let one of them at a time sing "Nothing But the Blood of Jesus." JJ(4) does especially well with this.

Today I began to try to get us singing the same note together. When I started the note and asked them to join in, SA(6) could not seem to find it. So I sang the note so we could hear it in our minds first. Then I got SA to start, so we could join in with him. That worked much better.

I should tell you that MM(2) is doing all of this with us. His learning to sing is as natural as a bird learning to fly. It's funny to me that this is an area where my youngest is the most skilled, followed by my middle child, followed by my oldest (not counting the baby, of course!). But I'm feeling confident now that they will all get there. Maybe I'll have a boy's choir here before long. :)