Monday, February 25, 2013


I know I promised a sequel to our intro to baroque music, but the skies opened up and dumped snow on us and I couldn't resist spending some time on penguins! See our sensory table fun below to see why I'm stoked by the snow.

Our favorite penguin picture book is Usborne's How Big is a Million. Great help with visual math skills!

To get our youngest readers up and moving on a snowy day, the scanimation Waddle and Eric Carle's From Head to Toe feature penguins getting their groove on.

My chapter book reader loves the Magic Treehouse Eve of the Emperor Penguin, and my pre-k son loves to listen to it read on CD. We'll be cracking that one out at bedtime tonight to round off our penguin playtime.

Here's our fun sensory activity with snow: I put a towel on the table, get a bin full of snow from outside the back door, set out a bowl of plastic "ice" and a bowl of penguins, and voila! Snowy indoor penguin fun. Nicole inspired this play set-- check out her version of Icy Penguins, to include a link to kid-safe instant fake snow (not for those who put things in their mouths).

Our art project was to make penguins out of our shoe prints and handprints.  I think they turned out pretty cute! We used oil pastels for the snowflakes and other details.
Storytime Katie has some other great penguin story ideas, to include this cute fingerplay that my kids insisted on doing over and over again:

Fingerplay: “Two Little Penguins”
Two little penguins sitting on the ice (hold up two fingers)
One bows once, the other bows twice (made index fingers bow)
Waddle little penguins. Waddle away. (put fingers behind back)
Come back penguins. Time to play! (bring fingers to the front)
Credit: King County Library System

See you next week!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Baroque Music: Vivaldi

This year I've been devising a History of Music curriculum that started with Gregorian Chant and will end... with ZZ Top? Who knows. At any rate, the first period in which I've found significant resources for kids has been the Baroque, so that's where I'll begin blog posts.

I chose Vivaldi first, not only because his was the first violin concerto I learned, but also because the Four Seasons is such an easy song to use for visualization. See the book,  Vivaldi's Four Seasons, which conveniently includes the CD. It's long, and was better suited for my first grader than my itty bitties.

Another book my kids enjoyed was the slightly less wordy I, Vivaldi.

For listening pleasure, check out these short but sweet  Classics for Kids episodes
on Vivaldi. I wish they were available in podcast form, but we just played them via the computer and everyone in the family learned something new.

Finally, and I've saved the best for last, the Vivaldi's Ring of Mystery CD was available at our local library, and it's a non-stop auditory adventure rich with original music recordings and suspense. Suitable for all ages and fun enough to hear over and over!

I decided to keep the art project simple this week and just played some Vivaldi music in the background while the kids drew what they heard or felt.

A wonderful way to augment this topic would be a trip to Venice, which has long been on my to-do list while we're stationed abroad. Hopefully we'll make it to the Vivaldi Museum!

On the topic of Venice, the Magic Treehouse book Carnival at Candlelight does not include mention of Vivaldi, but is a wonderful source of information on his hometown for chapter readers.

Come back next week as we continue or our inquiry into Baroque music by exploring the life and music of Handel!

Sunday, February 10, 2013


I'm back after a long hiatus!  We moved to Germany and I took 2 semesters each of biology and organic chemistry, so blogging took a backseat for a while. Nothing like celebrating our return to bookworm fun with a post about castles, especially since you can't throw a cat without hitting some ruin or other here in Europe.
All three of my kids love this picture book, Over at the Castle, reminiscent of  the old folk song, "Over in the Meadow." Great illustrations; the dragon lovers in my family rejoiced.

For non-fiction we enjoyed the Ultimate Explorer Castles and the eye-popping DK Castle

Finally, my chapter-book reader has been entranced by The Castle in the Attic, by Elizabeth Winthrop. A classic coming-of-age adventure story.

For this week's art project we found a gorgeous oil pastel/ watercolor castle project from our favorite art teacher over at Deep Space Sparkle. I thought cutting it out to put on colored paper would help it stand out even more.

Here's a fun fingerplay from a teacher compilation over at Mrs. Steele's Super Kids:

Here is the Prince with the feathered cap (Boys take off caps and bow) 
Here are his boots that go tap, tap. (Boys march around) 
Here is the Princess with a crown. (Girls touch crowns with both hands) 
Here is her lovely velvet gown. (Girls hold out imaginary skirt and curtsy) 
Here is the castle tall and wide. (Lift arms for tall and wide) 
Here they can play safely inside! (Wraps arms around self and hug self)
Here is her lovely velvet gown. (Girls hold out imaginary skirt and curtsy)
Here is the castle tall and wide. (Lift arms for tall and wide)
Here they can play safely inside! (Wraps arms around self and hug self)

Finally, I couldn't resist augmenting this activity with a little field trip to a local castle outfitted with a youth hostel within its very walls. The place was enormous, the town perfectly charming, and the accommodations perfect for my family. Three bunk beds, ya can't beat that!

I'll try to be back in another week with something out of my new music history project.  Stay tuned!