Shakespeare Homeschool Unit – A Midsummer Night’s Dream and More

This year to share our homeschooling journey, I am going to post updates on our unit studies we do, rather than on a month to month basis like I have in the past. I figure it is more helpful for you other homeschooling mama’s and dad’s out there who are looking for ideas/sparks for your own homeschool journey.

Shakespeare:

Lucy(9) was the spark behind starting the year off with an introduction to Shakespeare. She had really enjoyed these two graphic novels by Ian Lendler that are based on the plays but made for kids. They led to lots of questions about who Shakespeare was and what his plays were about. So we decided to jump in and start off the year with a little Shakespeare study.

Image result for zoo macbeth graphic novelRelated image

Thanks to my own parents (who read it aloud to us when we were kids) and the book “How to Teach your Children Shakespeare” by Ken Ludwig, we decided to start with Midsummer Nights Dream. It is lighthearted and silly with themes and content that can be understood by kids (mine are 9,7,3, and 1).

One of the things Ken suggests is to memorize passages – which takes knowing the subtleties of meaning and words to a whole other level. Here is the passage we worked on memorizing –

Because the passage has so many flower references, we spent some time illustrating the different flowers and learning what each flower looked like – touching and smelling some out of our own garden. And then we also learned about how flowers work in this lovely book by Gail Gibbons

Image result for flowers gail gibbons

And this enchanting one by Rita Gray and illustrated by Kenard Pak

Image result for flowers are calling book

I made some pretty little printouts to show and talk about each of the different plants referenced. Feel free to print your own and use them for personal use if you want. Here is the pdf if you would like a copy —-> Shakespeare flowers

Speaking of printables, thank you Phee McFaddell for sharing the fun printable paper dolls. They were the perfect thing to work on while reading the original Midsummer Night’s Dream play (I only wish there were a few more of the characters! – we improvised and made our own Lysander, Hermia, Demeter, and Helena).

For the reading of the actual play, we would read a couple of scenes in the original Shakespeare, and then switch and read the same part of the story in this kids version. Lucy also jumped ahead and read several of the other stories in the collection.

By switching back and forth between the two, it made it much easier for them to understand the difficult language of the original version.

Shakespeare Childrens Story Collection 16 Books Box | Andrew Matthews Tony Ross

Here are the books we used all together –

Along with the literature side, we learned some history of the era following Susan Wise Bauer’s “Story of the World”. She has an awesome chapter on the Elizabethan Era and also one on Shakespeare. (I think this series has the WORST cover design ha ha with some of the BEST content. The activities companion book has some seriously awesome and creative ideas that go a long with the history).

The Story of the World, 4 Volume Set - By: Susan Wise Bauer

As well as doing some map work, and some coloring pages from the book, the girls chose to learn about 1200’s remedies and potions

The Shakespeare chapter also talked about stage fighting which was perfect because Lucy has been doing fencing lessons this month, which she LOVES

As well as stage fighting, we pulled from this awesome list of drama games and had a great time learning stage directions, playing improv, and miming.

(The only photo I could find of this was of Tim, ha ha)

We decided to wait on watching Shakespeare in Love (partly because I love that movie so much and I want to save it for when they are a little older), but we did watch the clip from the end with Queen Elizabeth.

Image result for shakespeare in love elizabeth

Once we finished reading the play, which we LOVED, the girls worked on making a set for our tiny “Fable Theater” so that we could put on our own stage production of A Midsummer Nights Dream. Overall, an awesome unit! So fun!

 

 

September 2018 Desktop Wallpaper

 

The first of September is one of my favorite moments of the year. There is this subtle but tangible shift from Summer to Autumn. This wallpaper was made by overlaying several antique landscape engravings on top of one another – creating this beautiful but subtle translucent effect. To me it is an illustration of that movement from one season to the next. The delicate folding and unfolding of a year.

For the desktop, click on the image below to view the large size image.

For the iphone wallpaper, navigate to this page on your phone and then click and hold on the image you want. Select ‘Save image to camera roll’. Then from your camera roll set your home screen/lock screen or both.

iphone wallpapers:

 

August 2018 Desktop Wallpaper

Inspired by the yearly migration of the Monarch butterflies  –

For the desktop, click on the image below to view the large size image.

For the iphone wallpaper, navigate to this page on your phone and then click and hold on the image you want. Select ‘Save image to camera roll’. Then from your camera roll set your home screen/lock screen or both.

iphone wallpapers:

June 2018 Desktop Wallpaper

Happy June friends!! I just came across this poem shared by one of my friends. I love the feeling it leaves me with. I want June to be full of fun, and freedom, and wild abandon. Jump!

Long enough have you dream’d contemptible dreams,

Now I wash the gum from your eyes,

You must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light and of every moment of your life.

Long have you timidly waded holding a plank by the shore,

Now I will you to be a bold swimmer,

To jump off in the midst of the sea, rise again, nod to me, shout, and laughingly dash with your hair.

Walt Whitman

For the desktop, click on the image below to view the large size image.

For the iphone wallpaper, navigate to this page on your phone and then click and hold on the image you want. Select ‘Save image to camera roll’. Then from your camera roll set your home screen/lock screen or both.

iphone wallpapers:

February 2018 Adventures in Homeschooling

Two years ago we began homeschooling Lucy (8), Hattie (6), Beatrice (3), and Arlo (1). We’re including this on our Giants & Pilgrims blog as all our family adventures seem to impact our art & music so much! Also, we just like sharing the stories. So we’ll be sharing posts on the themes we’ve been covering each month and calling the adventure “ABACUS”! Our hope is that these posts will help spark creative direction and inspiration for your family as well as giving us somewhere to be document and record our experiences.

Ancient Greece:

Because of the olympics, we thought this would be a great month to learn about ancient Greece.

We read D’Aulaires Book of Greek Myths and I made these peg doll representations of each of the main greek gods with help from the girls.

We also read Lightning Thief for the first time.

And enjoyed tasting Mediterranean food courtesy of our TopMunch subscription

Coloring Greek god and goddess trading cards

Drawing mythical monsters

A selection of the Greek books we enjoyed exploring

Book Arts:

For our making this month, we explored the Book Arts – Marbled paper and Book Binding!

Making marbled paper for the end papers of our books –

Working on the covers for Asian stab-bound sketchbooks we made –

Harriet made an “un-tearable” tiny baby book for Arlo out of packing tape and her own illustrations

Constellations:

For science/nature this month, we learned about constellations (which tied in beautifully to our Greek Myth studies)

Magnets, Math, and Money:

In our little impromptu science club, we tried our hand at making Magnetic Slime

Played with fractions

Learning about money – “Count It and Keep It!” was a big hit with the kids.

Olympics:

The Olympics are my favorite! So fun to get to share this with the kids. We made tiny flags and olympic ring shirts for the opening ceremony.

Lots of USA spirit over here!

Watched Cool Runnings too just for fun

Preschool:

Learning about color mixing using air dry clay and “Do You Know Colors”

Lots of help from Buzzy getting this art piece ready to deliver to Houston

Stamping Letters

Valentines Day:

The table for valentines morning –

We participated in a Homeschool Valentine Exchange. So much fun!

Lots of love notes were written to each other

 

A very chilly Valentine tea party out in the tree house

Some of our homemade Valentines we made –

 

Valentine party in Kansas with Grandparents!

Wood Carving:

While in Kansas, we got to learn about wood carving from my Grandpa Fritz. So beautiful to watch.

 

Moving to a New House and a Song About Home

The blessings came in waves
and could be felt for days
O, how my bones still shake at your names
In sweat we set the stones
in blood we brick the roads
a holy breaking comes for every home

Give me your hand, we’ll climb up the balcony
Ditch the front row and sway with the symphony
Make as much noise and be as we want to be
Your voice in my voice and hands are the canopy
Feel the old rhythm play what’s inside of me

The fields are glories now, the fields are glories now
So guide your wild eyes down
The promise in the pain, the code that’s in the grain
We’ll move beneath the weight ‘til you raise


When I was a child, around this time of year on the orchard my dad would prune all the apples trees. I would help look for branches that were crossed, or growing in at strange angles. We would then clip off the offending branches and sometimes prop them with these little red supports to help them grow straight so that they could get the best light possible and eventually grow the best fruit.

Tim and I are moving to a new house in 10 days. We bought a “fixer upper” in the middle of town near a big park. It’s a MUCH bigger house in a nice quiet neighborhood. We weren’t really planning on moving yet, but then suddenly everything fell into line at the same time, like it does.

This whole moving thing is crazy… crazy exhausting, crazy nerve wracking, crazy exciting, and crazy scary.
Ten Years.
Ten years we have lived in this house I am sitting in right now.

I know where every light switch is and where to step over the crooked floor boards.
I know the name of every plant in the garden,
why there is a funny hole in the kitchen screen,
how to walk in the middle of the night so the squeaking floor doesn’t wake the children,
the funny trick to the bathroom door downstairs,
and the story behind most of the nail holes on the walls.

It’s where I found out I was pregnant for the first time and where I brought each of my four babies home to. It’s the place where we’ve had so many wonderful Christmases, Thanksgiving feasts, and simple, every day meals.
It’s where my children took their first steps, laughed their first laughs, and tried their first foods.

It’s also where Harriet broke her leg,
where the basement flooded too many times,
where I had my anxiety breakdown,
where Tim and I had our most difficult fights,
where we had belongings stolen off our front porch,
and had to call the cops on the neighbors so many times.

This house is old. It’s been around more than 100 years.
It really has seen its fair share of marital fights and make ups.
It’s flooded but it’s dried back out.
It’s been cold and drafty and also cozy and safe.

I hope it will be around for at least 100 more years. I hope it will be the same gift to the next residents as it has been to us. (Please take care of my planty’s!)

I am sure for this home, 10 years is just a blink. But it feels so significant to me. 

Somehow leaving this house feels much more substantial then leaving high school or leaving college. I suppose if you look at it that way, those were only four year institutions. This home has been ten of mine.
Ten years of themed birthday parties and late night hard conversations with friends sitting on the kitchen floor (the best place for those kinds of talks),
nights pacing back and forth with wakeful babies,
ten years of pinching pennies to patch the wear and tear of everyday life,
of having tea on the front porch,
hosting cooking clubs and wedding showers,
play dates,
years with miscarriages, mistakes, and misadventures.
All the rhythms of our days and what I know have been centered in this place for ten years.

You can hear it in my lists… It is breaking me to leave. It feels like a close friend.

Like family.

And I am scared.

Scared this new home won’t be me.
Scared I’ll hate it.
Scared something will happen to the kids and I’ll somehow blame this decision.
I am scared it will change me. Change us.

And yet it’s time.

Time to move on, time to adventure out, time to try something new, try our hand at starting with a blank canvas, try this new place out. It’s time to move.

Time passes so damn fast, doesn’t it?

My babies are getting bigger. It comes to the end of the day and I wonder. Wonder if I did it right, wonder if I could have played it out differently, wonder if this is it, wonder are we centering our lives on the right things? Wonder if we are making the right choice.

10 days. We are moving in 10 days.

So I’ve been obsessing over this new place. This new house.

It’s not the one I would have picked. I did not like it at first.
I love old and history and craftsmanship.
This is black shag carpet and popcorn ceilings. And florescent lights. And 80s. On a cul-de-sac.

So I have created every pinterest board, design mood board, photoshopped room, shopping budget, detailed plan I can possibly do with out actually living there.

And I am starting to see it.

See the lovely that could be revealed there.

I know I can make it beautiful.
I know WE will make it beautiful.
I think about how it’s only about a block from a huge green space,
and a pool,
and how I found rhubarb sprouting up near the fence,
and how this one room feels like the barn I grew up in,
and how the layout is perfect for us,
and how we will have room to spread out,
and be able to have people over more easily,
and host house concerts,
and how I want to give every room its own theme,
and how we are going to start off by pitching tents and camping in the great room,
and so many other new things.

It will be a challenge to start from a blank slate.
But we can’t wait. We are so excited.

And still, the packing and processing all the memories and moments sucks. It is such an emotionally wrecking experience. 

Is this pruning?

Pruning is painful but good. It helps us grow straight and true so we can bear more fruit.
The truth is that I am scared about not being able to find the light switches,
and whether I can hear the playroom from the kitchen,
and having to use a 1980’s electric stove for the next ten years,
and life on a cul-de-sac,
and even more that feeling of being exhausted and wanting to go home and not being able to.

But then I take that step back.
I am reminded of my white privilege and how we are going to be living in a mansion compared to the rest of the world, and how millions of refugees can’t ever go home again, and I feel stupid. Stupid white suburban mom. Ha.

You make it work and you make it beautiful and you invite people into the mess,
because it is NOT about it being beautiful.
And it is NOT about it being ugly.
And whether it is HERE or THERE doesn’t matter.

It is about WE. And US. And TOGETHER. And HOME. And LOVE in the best way we can.

And so, let’s adventure on family.

April 2018 Desktop Wallpaper

My good friend Wes Sam-Bruce shared this poem at his film screening for The Wonder Sound. It has been floating around in my head ever since. So good.

“Widening Circles”

I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world.
I may not complete this last one
but I give myself to it.

I circle around God, around the primordial tower.
I’ve been circling for thousands of years
and I still don’t know: am I a falcon,
a storm, or a great song?

So here is to living our lives in ever widening circles. Migrating outward…

More on that soon. It’s been crazy around here lately….

For the desktop, click on the image below to view the large size image.

For the iphone wallpaper, navigate to this page on your phone and then click and hold on the image you want. Select ‘Save image to camera roll’. Then from your camera roll set your home screen/lock screen or both.

iphone wallpapers:

 

January 2018 Adventures in Homeschooling

Two years ago we began homeschooling Lucy (8), Hattie (6), Beatrice (3), and Arlo (1). We’re including this on our Giants & Pilgrims blog as all our family adventures seem to impact our art & music so much! Also, we just like sharing the stories. So we’ll be sharing posts on the themes we’ve been covering each month and calling the adventure “ABACUS”! Our hope is that these posts will help spark creative direction and inspiration for your family as well as giving us somewhere to be document and record our experiences.

JAPAN:

We continued our world tour this month with a “trip” to Japan. This was definitely one of our favorite countries/cultures yet! I surprised the girls by setting up a Japanese style low table in the middle of our dining room with zen inspired decorations and gave them each a silk kimono (twelve dollars on amazon!).

We had a Japanese tea party –

We practiced calligraphy and mark making with these lovely Teagas water scrolls –

We played with origami –

And REALLy loved getting to try all these yummy Japanese snacks from our TopMunch box!

  Watched fascinating videos about silkworms and zen gardens –  

We of course went out for sushi at the end of the month!

SNOW:

A reoccuring theme for January for us is “Snow”! Thanks Colorado!

A day at the best sledding hill –

All the snow books –

Building a funny snow man (snow deer?)

Painting snowy scenes

READING:

Lots of letter play for this little one –

The two big girls joined the Secret Society of Letter Writers

And for Harriet this month we worked REALLY hard to read every day. She has been doing so great!

Polymer Clay and Stop Motion:

We had lots of fun making some little stop motion videos with my iphone and also made lots of oven bake figures.

IMG_7713

 

ART:

So many fun art projects this month. Buzzy helping me do the underpainting on a canvas –

Painting owls inspired by Owl Moon

Painting our to-do list clip boards

Face painting fun

And a really cool art show up at the university

BOOK CLUB:

For book club this month, we read Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

We got to experience Chinese Hot Pot

 

Went on a journey to find the Old Man of the Moon

Had a great discussion

And celebrated the Year of the Dog

DINOSAURS:

Our Natural History Museum at a really cool touring exhibit of dinosaur skeletons, so we adventured to Denver to check it out.

Digging for dinosaur fossils

HOMEMAKING:

Some days, when the chaos is winning, it is best to take the morning off from normal homeschool and learn about the lost arts of homemaking. Headphones and fun music help (Annie soundtrack all the way for these girls)

Harriet came up with her own recipe for Orange Cake. Turned out pretty tasty!

A dinner Lucy and Harriet made.

One day Lucy really wanted to build something. So they designed, built, and painted this shelf with a cup holder for next to their bed.

March 2018 Desktop Wallpaper

We almost bought a house last week. We put an put an offer in, dreamed about flipping a dusty ugly place into something beautiful, had our offer turned down, put another offer in, cried a lot about the emotion of leaving a house we love, started the process of getting ready to list our house, talked to the kids about moving, talked the kids down from both crazy excitement and mourning, worried about all the money bits, and worried more. And then, after all that, had our offer turned down in favor of a lower one (without a contingency).

Still not sure why we had to go through all of that emotional wreckage, or where it will lead. Obviously my hopelessly optimistic heart would like it to mean there is something better out there waiting for us… But that is yet to come.

So this months image is about homes – past and future. The bones that we live within. Our migration of moving. Packing our belongings and moving from one structure to the next. Taking and making home where we land.

For the desktop, click on the image below to view the large size image.

The poem this month is one that Tim found while running when we were first married. It was taped to an overpass on a scrap of paper. It was only recently that we discovered that it was from a Jewel lyric.

Joy, Pure Joy, I am

What I always wanted

to grow up and be

Things are becoming

more of a dream with

each waking day-

The heavy brows of Daily Life

are becoming encrusted

with glitter and the shaking finger

of consequence is

beginning to giggle

Grumpy old men

have wings

Burns sport Halos

and everyday dullness

has begun to breathe

as I remember the

incredible lightness

of living

Jewel lyrics from “On Moving into my Van”

For the iphone wallpaper, navigate to this page on your phone and then click and hold on the image you want. Select ‘Save image to camera roll’. Then from your camera roll set your home screen/lock screen or both.

iphone wallpapers:

 

And don’t forget! Our new album is finally available for preorder – here!!