Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Seven Quick Takes

Thanks as always to our hostess, Jen.

1. I'm teaching a acting/Shakespeare class for teenagers this summer. Anyone out there have good suggestions for Shakespearean monologues for this age range?

2. Everyone keep your fingers crossed for my sister: she's singing for the judges of Cincinnati Opera's Opera Idol tomorrow!

3. Speaking of music: I found a copy of The Laura Ingalls Wilder Songbook, featuring the songs that crop up here and there in the Little House series. What struck me most was the interchangeably saccharine style of most of the hit songs of the day. Sure, they were wholesome. Most of them were also wholly undistinguished. I know people like to complain that pop songs nowadays all sound the same; I guess stylistic homogenity never goes out of fashion.

4. One thing and another had me convinced that for this coming school year, we needed to go with a packaged curriculum. So I pulled up a few of the big names in boxed schooling. First I was struck by the price (oh, my aching wallet!). Then, as Darwin and I read down the book list and lesson plans of various academies, we kept saying, "You know, what if we used this book instead... This is nice, but we could do... It would really be better to go with..." What's the point of buying an expensive curriculum if we're going to revamp it all anyway? And yet, without the guideline of a firm outline, it's hard to know what kind of daily schedule we should be keeping. Experienced homeschoolers please advise.

5. The baby is officially mobile now. All bathroom doors must be shut and the cat food needs to be moved somewhere else. He's starting to pull up now, and we all know that the next step is walking. He'll be nine months in a week. He needs to STOP GETTING SO BIG SO FAST.

6. My girls start swim lessons next week, and I don't even have a swimsuit myself. I'm considering this one from Lands' End. I hate buying swimsuits, but what's the point of having the girls learn how to swim if I never take them to the pool?

7. Last weekend we had a bit of a shock -- literally: the 3-year-old stuck a pair of children's scissors into an outlet. Fortunately the handles were covered with rubber, so she wasn't hurt, but the sparks were quite impressive. The cordless phone, which was on the same circuit, was fried, so if you've tried to call our house recently and gotten no answer, it's because the only land line is this silver corded phone that looks all old-fashioned but has a broken ringer. You don't hear it unless you're standing right next to it.


bearing said...

Re: homeschooling -- how old are your children again? What grades?

Re: swimsuits: Forget Lands' End. Buy a good lapsuit from Tyr or Speedo. I always buy mine at a fantastic discount from Sierra Trading Post.

mrsdarwin said...


I have a 7-year-old heading into second grade and one turning six in Sept. who will be in first.

As to Lands' End, the thing is that they offer swimsuits for larger bust sizes. Gotta have that.

Maggie said...

when I was in highschool I memorized Portia's "Mercy" speech from Merchant, and I still sort of remember it. Maybe one of the monologues from the comedies? and please, please, keep them away from anything Romeo & Juliet. They'll just watch the Baz Lurhman version to learn it.

Or Henry's "what's he that wishes so?" from Henry V, Act IV Scene iii

Audrey said...

RE: Swimsuit

Be sure to check out the overstock section at Lands' End-- there are a ton of cute suits for $10-15 ( I grabbed the swimmini(skirt) for $5!)

There are free shipping codes out right now, too. So do a google search before ordering ;)

bearing said...

Re: homeschooling, I admit to being the kind of control freak who puts together her own curriculum every year. I don't know why it would be harder for you to "know" what kind of daily schedule your family needs than it would be for a curriculum packager to figure it out. You know what subjects you'll want to teach, no?

There's two basic ways of setting a pace, and you can do whichever one seems right for each subject.

(1) Decide how much you want to accomplish in one year. Break it up into weeks. Break each week up into one to five days as necessary. Voila, how much work to do in that subject each day.

(2) Decide how much time you want to spend, or how much work you want to do, on a given subject each day or week. Block out that time. You might want to double check how much you'll accomplish in the course of a year at that rate, just to make sure it's an amount you feel good about.

(3) Don't worry at all about how fast to progress through the subject, just work on it as much or as little as you have time and interest for. (Good for electives -- this is kind of how we do Latin and fine arts)

If I buy a curriculum or a textbook for one subject that's meant to be finished in a year, I'll usually use method 1, breaking it up into 36 weeks. But with skill-based curricula that cover several years -- say, with Saxon Math, which goes from kindergarten all the way through high school -- I am much more likely just to figure, "Well, we'll do three or four or five lessons a week" and then work straight through, changing from one book to the next whenever we get to the end of one rather than worrying about what "grade level" we're at.

I try to combine functions whenever possible -- choosing literature selections that mesh with our history studies, for instance, and using those for jumping-off-points for writing and language arts assignments.

re: swimsuits, I was buying Speedo suits from Sierra back when I was a 38 DDD. I much preferred the "smoosh and streamline" method of swimsuit bust control, which is what athletic swimsuits do, to the "underwire and shape construction" method of swimsuit bust control, which is much more common in "fashion" swimsuits.

Foxfier said...

Learning the whole "To be or not to be"-- with what it means-- might be good.

Selections from "Taming of the Shrew," maybe?
might help.

I'm a big lover of most anything Puck said, so I've probably no taste at all. ^.^

MacBeth Derham said...

Hey Mrs. D.! I have some spare time today, so I thought I'd buzz in to your com box with my opinion. Feel free to ignore. ;)

1. "Seven Stages of Man" and Touchstone's "7 Lies" both from As You Like It, fresh in my mind as we are currently performing the play.
2. Good luck to your sister!
3. Careful--they are also interchangeably catchy.
4. Don't do it! Choose your own books, divide them by days, leave lots of flex time, and relax. I schedule some time for math, plenty for discussion, lots of time for field trips (even if it's just your yard) and more for reading. Remember, the root for the word "school" comes from "leisure."
5. Easier to keep up with baby if you are not tied to a curriculum.
6. Went with a swimsuit from Chadwicks for myself.
7. If I had a dime for every time one of my kids claimed that another had been My 17 yo, who has had a shock or two in his childhood, wired my entire kitchen to code during our renovation.
I suspect his childhood experience gives him a healthy respect for God's electrons-in-motion. Sorry about the phone.

Gabriel Austin said...

Favorites from high school [millennia ago]:
Friends Romans....
Romeo Romeo [a favorite for girls]
To be or not to be...
Is this a dagger...

Shakespeare is quite full of good things, and curiously, for teenagers. He can be successfully hammed up.

Brandon said...

In tenth grade I did Friar Laurence's soliloquy in Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene III; and also the Prologue to Henry V. Both are still favorites (the latter especially).

Jordana said...

Decloaking to say I'm right there with you on the homeschooling front.

By the end of this school year I was at the point where I said the exact same thing, "I need a boxed curriculum." But then I decided the same things. I wasn't going to use their math or science. I wanted some other reading stuff, etc.

I think what I will do is get my various bits and pieces together, use some of the planning sheets from Donna Young, and make up my own schedule. I do hope to write out (on the computer) a weekly plan for every single week before we start to new school year, but because I will have it on the computer, I'll also have an easy way to change it when someone inevitably gets sick or we decide that none of us feel like doing school for a few days. What I needed at the end of the past year is not a boxed curriculum but a plan, because without one we turn into serious unschoolers and not in a good way.

bearing said...

That's the way I do it, a weekly plan for each school week.

Can I suggest something if you need a way to change it? Don't put dates on your weeks. Number them -- Week 1, Week 2, etc. all the way to 30 or 36 or however many weeks you put in your school year. Then you can get out a calendar and make your best guess as to which dates correspond to which weeks, but you are free to change that as you go along. Oh, we moved the vacation from this week to that week... oh, I really need a break here, let's push the last day of school back just one week... ok, instead of taking a whole week off here, let's do one week's worth of work over two weeks...

I find I don't need to preplan any finer grained than the week level. But I'm so glad that it's all written out. It is an investment of time before the start of the year that pays off every week when I write out my week's plan, which only takes me 15 minutes or so on a Sunday night.

John Farrell said...

When I was a high school freshman, it Richard II that got me hooked.

"Let us sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the death of kings..."

Act III...

Anonymous said...


Is this the same sis who recently wedded?

I've always admired those who "unschool". Teach your children to read & cipher...the world is theirs...

Swimsuits - from a guys perspective - something nice for Mr. Darwin :), otherwise cutoffs, sportsbra, & big T-shirt are cheap, modest & ok by any decent minded fellow!

BTW - You are teaching your kids to swim because we have an inground pool. So, whenever you are in Hutchinson, KS... :)

Darwin said...

Thanks for the invitation, Cliff! I'm not sure if the pools around here allow you in in shorts and t-shirts. Darwin himself is willing to finance something nice, though. :)

The singing sister is not the bride, but this faboo young lady.

Darwin said...

That would be MrsDarwin using my login above...

I don't understand how this whole swimsuit controversy got started. I went and provided MrsD with the entire Victoria's Secret swimsuit skankalog edition -- and somehow it ended up out in the recycle bin right away. What can a guy do?

mrsdarwin said...

The reason is that I'm way more woman than any Victoria's Secret model could ever aspire to be, and therefore swimsuits designed for skinny-ass models with no curves just don't cut it for me.

Anonymous said...

re: hs'ing schedule:

I make a list of the topics. For my first grader the list is:

reading skills
read-aloud (me to her)
reading practice (her to somebody)
weather calendar

In math, we just progress through the book at her pace. (MUS, but there are other good ones.)

In the other topics, we do a little every day. Weather calendar and penmanship are less than five minutes each, whereas Math and read-loud might be 15 minutes each. Writing will be an assignment that ties into something she studied today. Once a week she makes an entry into a science notebook. Religion rotates through the week - F&L as a text book, read-aloud from children's bible, learn a prayer, learn a song, etc.

Social studies and science topics are covered in the read-aloud and writing, on rotation with everything else. I have a little outline of how the topics rotate -- ie if it's monday we read social studies, tuesday science . . . (Which in first grade will usually also be 'literature' -- Ox-Cart Man, Anne of Green Gables -- history or literature? Both.)

So we have a check sheet, I write the date and check each box as we complete it. And there's a big box for 'other topics' where I write in if she did something with music, art, dance, etc. -- stuff that that I'm happy to unschool.

I think 1st grade ought to be an hour or less of formal sit-down work. She might choose to spend extra time illustrating a story or doing extra read-alouds. And of course a learning-rich environment all day long. That 1-hour figure was benchmarked off friends who use school-in-a-box programs.

It seems to be a good amount to be enough to keep her challenged and filled with ideas, and the rest of the day be able to engage in constructive play.

(Third grader gets a longer day with slightly different subjects. But same general process. My rising kindergartner will get the shorter lighter version, with more toys involved.)

Good luck!


John Farrell said...

...swimsuits designed for skinny-ass models with no curves just don't cut it for me.

LOL. Mrs. D, you and my wife would get along famously.

Dorian Speed said...

Hi! Have I sent you a thoughtful email thanking you thoughtfully for letting me crash your home and go to tea? What's that? I have not?

Well, as my penance, I will get lost on the toll road and end up having to pay the toll three times. OH WAIT.

Anyway, not that I know from homeschooling, but my friend gave me the Mother of Divine Grace syllabi for K-2nd grade, so I will have some semblance of a structure to start from. I still haven't decided about math, despite your kindly showing me the Miquon stuff. I do think it will inspire a bit more confidence in my pupils if I can point to some official-looking book and say, "we're working from this official book" and not be typing out plans as they're finishing their breakfast.

And, now that the weather is horribly hot and your air conditioner is broken, it's time for a little trip to Victoria, don't you think? From here, we can head to Rockport, which has a lovely state park.


The Opinionated Homeschooler said...

Ambleside Online has free, Charlotte-Mason-based weekly curricula; you provide your own books. We're not CMers, but I cannibalized their on-line schedule for my 6yo.

BTW after a little eBay searching for Calvert Teacher Manuals, I realized the ones you gave me free bring a pretty penny; so do feel free to ask for them back. Otherwise I'll probably use the 6th-grade one for the middle child in a couple of years; but I'll keep it in good condition and return it when done.

TS said...

You might want to check out for coupons to be used in the great swimsuit purchase...:-)