Knights vs. Samurai - Our next Middle Ages Co-op

It was a great day with our co-op yesterday! The children had a full day! First thing they looked looked at armor of Knights and Samurai. They filled in a worksheet based on that. 

They did a hierarchy diagram of Knights and Samurai in their respective societies.

Then came the fun part. The children worked in groups of boys and girls and did several venn diagrams and other comparisons. 
For the first one compared Knights with Samurai.

The children then compared their two venn diagrams and found some points that each of the groups hadn’t made. It was so interesting how the boys worked on their venn diagrams and how the girls worked on theirs. Very different!!

The students then got a great instruction time from our mom on the role of women in the  Middle Ages in Europe vs. in Japan and then in groups they compared them.

Finally they compared the Code of Chivalry  to the Bushido. They did a great job and brought out some very interesting points. 

This group work is so valuable! 

After lunch the children got their second lesson on perspective with our art mom. She taught them how to draw a castle in perspective.

They were excellent! It took a long while to finish up the class but they got a chance to read through their play for next month. It is based on the Black Plague! All will enjoy that I am sure!!

Then it was off to gym time with our amazing gym dad. This month the focus was Volleyball. He always has the kids stretch before they start which is excellent!

Then they reviewed the rules, but once again the main thing was to play the sport. The children did great and had fun! Considering many of them had never played before they did very well!!

Another awesome Co-op day! 
Blessings, Natalie

Shakespeare - Our final Act!

What a great final day of Shakespeare we had! On days like this one is when I am sure that children really need to be challenged to work together in groups. That is what makes Learning Camps and Co-ops such great opportunities!!

First, I spoke about the “Shakespeare Conspiracy” that there were many different theories of the authorship of Shakespeare. I had the children randomly pick one of the possible candidates for Shakespeare’s works. We have 15 children and 5 possibilities so that meant 3 children per group. 
The options were:
Sir Francis Bacon
Edward de Vere
Christopher Marlowe
William Stanley 
Shakespeare as he is commonly known

I had paraphrased the article here from Wikipedia (The Alternative Candidates section) and the children between them had to come up with the major points. 

They then had to appoint a spokesperson from their group (I think this was the most challenging part of the exercise!) and present their point of view.

The children then used these ballots and voted on which person they felt was “the real Shakespeare” . It was interesting - the tally was:
2 votes for Sir Francis Bacon, 4 votes for William Stanley and 9 votes for Shakepeare. 

The children then began their dress rehearsal of Midsummer Night’s Dream getting ready for the big production later on in the afternoon.

I was amazed watching these children how well they did with Shakespeare and how they got into their characters so well. 

Some brought costumes and some really enjoyed the drama! 

They really earned all the applause from parents at the end of the performance!! We are all so thankful to our director of our plays - what a blessing to have such a talented mom!!

If you would like to put on a Shakespeare camp in your area and need some help, just let me know!!


Scene II of our Shakespeare Learning Camp!

The focus on our second Shakespeare Learning Camp day was to enjoy learning about Elizabethan times, the Theatre and the men of the Theatre.
We talked about many things, but most of them revolved around the theatre in London during the time of Shakespeare. 

I used this timeline to get us started and a picture of Elizabeth I to have the children understand more about the times that Shakespeare was born into. 
I had the children fold a page of construction paper into 8 squares and add the 8 squares of the timeline. 
For some reason it did not print properly on my computer so it was without the pictures. That was OK, I just had the children add in the dates.

Next I used this book to talk about the Theatre itself. We talked about patrons (such as Lord Chamberlain and King James I), we spoke about why the theatres were built outside the city walls. We talked about why the merchants didn’t like the theatre as well as the city officials. 
I had one of the older boys with a low voice quote “Romeo, Romeo wherefore art thou Romeo” then I had one of the younger boys do the same. We then spoke about young men in the theatre and how women were not allowed to participate. We spoke about them being not able to play anymore when their voices broke, and what happened to them after that.
I gave the children a choice to work on two projects:

One, they could build The Globe Theatre from this model
Or they could use this sheet and this one to create a stage with Elizabethan actors on it. Most of the children chose this.

We then read through Macbeth from our Shakespeare Minibooks in Comics

After that the children ran through their lines getting ready for the big play next week. 

They then got to look for costumes, and started to get an idea of what they needed for their parts. This is so great seeing the children really enjoy Shakespeare like this! They were having lots of fun!!

NeoK12 - a great resource!

I am so impressed by NeoK12!
We have been using it for our unit on cells and systems and it has been great. 
First of all there is a wide range of videos available for each topic. Most of them are short dealing with a specific part of the overall learning for that subject. I like that! 

Elizabeth sometimes has watched them all but a few times only needed 2 or 3 of them to learn what she needed. They are from a wide variety of sources. She has watched Bill Nye videos, medical videos and "teacher" videos.

There is a wide range of activities including matching definitions from the material. These along with the labeling activities are a great review of what she just learned. 

The matching activities have a score and so do the labeling. The labeling activities are printable. They include an age range for the quizzes and I have found them to be challenging enough for a middle schooler. 

There are many topics including math, language arts, history, geography and a wide variety of science topics.
All this and it is free! 

Mini Lapbook on Northwest Coast First Nations

I have just completed my first Mini Lapbook based on “The Kids Book of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada” by Diane Silvey published by Kids Can Press. 

This one is on the Northwest Coast First Nations tribes. 

I am planning on completing a series of these lapbooks for your use. I have not included instructions for this lapbook as I see it as an opportunity for more of a narration style of lapbook. All the information is there, just use the pieces as you see fit!

These would be awesome for meeting the outcomes in Grade 4 for BC, but could be used by anyone in North America learning about First Nations peoples.

The First Nations peoples covered in this book are:
Peoples of the Northwest Coast
Peoples of the Plateau
Peoples of the Plains
Peoples of the Arctic 
Peoples of the Subarctic
Iroquoians of the Eastern Woodlands
Algonquins of the Eastern Woodlands

Stay tuned for the next installment...


To Be or not to Be! ...That is the Question....Shakespeare Learning Camp (part 1)!

I have the great pleasure of co-leading a group of 15 eager students, excited to learn about Shakespeare. We have three sessions set up and each session will consist of the first hour being an academic session about Shakespeare, his life, his works, the Globe Theatre etc...The second hour will be the children acting out scenes from Midsummer Night’s Dream in a Reader's Theatre form.

The first session we had was great. We started out by brainstorming about Shakespeare and me reading a biography about him. I asked the children how many Shakespeare plays they knew, what they knew about his life etc. 
We spoke about the differences between comedies, tragedies and historical plays. I gave examples and had the children tell me what type of play they thought it was. 

After that we looked at the language of Shakespeare. I quizzed the kids on various words. I also had a list similar to this one and drew some words from there.

Next I had the children use these materials. They cut out the masks that I provided and then used the sheets with words to make Shakespeare sentences. 

They then stood up in front of the group with their masks and read their sentences. What was interesting was many of them came across sounding like insults. The kids laughed and had fun with it.

Next we did a read through of Romeo and Juliet in comic book form. It came from this resource through Teacher Express. They each read a page or two and we went through the whole play. Next session we will read through another, just for exposure.

The hour went by very quickly and it was time for my co-leader to lead the children through several scenes of Midsummer Nights Dream. It was such a beautiful day that the did the readings outside. Many of the children were challenged by the Old English language. This took more time to explain what was happening. The kids were great and helped each other though with their parts. Next week they will continue on with different scenes. How wonderful!

It is a joy to lead these kinds of group experiences! I love seeing the children learning together!! Maybe you would want to host a Shakespeare Learning Camp in your homeschool community... if you need any help just let me know. Blessings, Natalie

Our First Middle Ages Co-op

We had a fabulous first co-op of the year and the kids were so happy to be together again. One of the moms commented that at the first of last year when we first started everyone was quiet and didn’t say much. This year... a whole different response!!
It was so great to see. Because our students are spread far and wide many of these children didn’t see each other at all during the summer. It is so great to see them so comfortable with each other. 

Our first Middle Ages Co-op was based on learning about the Feudal System. What a great amount of learning went on. First our Mom taught about the different positions of authority and wealth in the Feudal System. Who needed who and for what purpose. She had a great visual representation of the system. There was a lot of discussion amongst the kids about what was fair and what wasn’t. This is so encouraging! 

Next our Mom gave each of the children a position to pull out of a hat. Most were peasants, some were knights, a few were nobles and then of course our king!  She had them arrange themselves up to table to the top of the table where the king sat (the poor peasants were seated on the floor!) Then each of them got a cup with 10 jelly beans and they had to pay their taxes. So the peasants ended up with only two jelly beans, the knights with more, the nobles many more and of course the king with a huge pile!! The peasants were “That’s not fair!!” and the king was waving his hands to bring on more jelly beans. It was a lot of fun. 

After lunch the children had a great art lesson with our wonderful art Mom. She taught them all about drawing in perspective. She tied this in to this type of art beginning in the Middle Ages and then the early artists that showed these techniques.  The children followed her steps and drew a picture with perspective. It was a great lesson!!

This year we have added one more element to our co-op days. PE. We have one of the Dads teaching many different aspects of group sports. A different sport each month. This is great exposure to our homeschool children as many of them have not had the opportunity to play a variety of sports - especially with that many children (we are capped at 20!). 

Our sport for this month was softball. Many of the kids had never played and so our dad had to coach them through how to play. He did an amazing job!! He warmed them up and then had them learn by playing! It was really great to see. 

Co-ops are an incredible blessing! Learning by doing, learning to adjust to different teaching styles, rich discussion, a variety of skill levels and gifting all adds up to a wonderful learning experience. I can not encourage you enough to find people in your area (some of our families drive over 1.5 hours to get to our Co-op) and join together!!