Tag Archives: crafts

Non-Core Hour Ideas: Music

Okay, so we Missouri homeschoolers all know we need 600 hours of core subjects per year, but how do we fill the 400 non-core hours? Sure, you could just have your child reinforce core skills – we aren’t required that the remaining hours be something other than math, language arts, social studies, and science. But why do that to your children? Give them a much-needed break and allow them to enrich their lives by offering some creative topics for study. Some areas are rich with classes for homeschoolers. In our immediate area, we have gymnastics, archery, art, choirs, and bands. These are just the non-core offerings, and there may be even more that I am not aware of. Whether or not you have access to homeschool classes, almost every area will have a music teacher of some sort.

Putting your children into music lessons is a sure-fire way to fill some of that time. Here’s what I recommend: a 30 minute lesson once a week and 30 minutes of daily practice time. (Including lesson day, and here’s why: the sooner the student gets to the piano after his lesson, the better his retention will be – thus making it easier on him in the long run and improving his progress overall.) That totals an hour of music on lesson days, and 30 minutes on subsequent days.

If you would like to stretch those daily half hour sessions to an hour, I have come up with a few ideas for you. (If an hour or 30 minutes is too long for your child’s attention span, you can easily break the practice and extras down into 15-minute increments.)

Piano Play: Allow your child to sit in front of the piano and just make things up. Show him how to make simple chords (you can YouTube it or ask your music teacher) and improvise a melody. Or just let him experiment and see what kinds of sounds and rhythm he can come up with on his own. Children often enjoy this unstructured play time, and it can be a great stress reliever (especially if you allow them to express their emotions through the volume and tempo).

Flashcards/Theory: If you really want to get your children’s music lessons off to a flying start, flashcards are a great way to reinforce primary concepts. You can help your child make some (look for tutorials online), you can download them for free, or you can find an app that quizzes your music-learner. You could even go all-out and buy a pack. 😉 Spending time with flashcards each week will greatly increase a beginner’s sight-reading capability.

Listening: Choose some classical music (or any other genre they are interested in) and allow your child to soak it up as they eat, play, or do homework (best if there are no lyrics). I would even count contemporary music listening as non-core hours if I were making it a point to analyze it in some way after listening: what makes country music different from pop? What instruments, rhythms, or techniques does this specific genre use that gives the listener a clue to what kind of music he is hearing? If the student is advanced, you could even discuss chord progressions and voicing.

Singing: Find some songs on YouTube or a sing-a-long, and have your children learn the words and melody. This reinforces their memory skills and can be quite enjoyable. Also, you could look for songs that would benefit other subject areas, such as math, science, history, etc. (If you have several kids, they can play musical chairs while learning by rote. I use this technique with my choir kids, and it’s a great way to get them to sing the same words over and over and over again without showing the slightest sign of boredom!)

Make Instruments: Help your kids make a cigar-box guitar or a bean shaker. You can find tutorials online. Percussion instruments can be made from almost anything. Next, model rhythms for your child, and have them mimic you on their very own hand-crafted instrument. (You can play the same game with melodies instead of beats if you feel like singing, lol.)

FreeImages.com/Adriano Carvalho

FreeImages.com/Adriano Carvalho

These are just a few non-core activities off the top of my head. I’m sure there are many more that I am missing. Subscribe to my blog, and be on the lookout for ways to get music-themed CORE hours.

 

Can you think of any more non-core ideas? Leave them in the comments below.

Book Planning, days 1 and 2

I am helping my 10-year-old write an ebook, and this post describes our progress so far. I talk more about day one and how we got started, etc. on my post New Writing Idea for Visual Thinkers. That post didn’t get very much traffic, which is a shame, because I really think it’s one of the most helpful homeschool/writing posts I’ve added in a while. It could actually help non-writers get off the ground. I know it was a great boost for Ian’s creativity, so it’s a proven method, lol.

Day One

  • Play MineCraft for ideas
  • Brainstorm setting and settle on one (or two, in this case)
  • Come up with an overall plot (what the story is about)
  • Think of a few unique/surprising story aspects
  • Come up with a few of the character’s preconceived ideas
  • Decide main conflict and five smaller conflicts
  • Write a few key sentences and dialogue that we liked the sound of

Day two

  • Think of resolutions for all of the conflicts
  • Have a few surprises/twists in the resolutions
  • Tie some of the story components together in interesting ways
  • Come up with three supporting characters and name everyone
  • Think of some weaknesses for the characters and ways they will develop throughout the course of the book
  • Draw a picture of his main building, labeling some of the floors
  • Write a paragraph depicting what will happen in chapters 1 and 2
  • Think of a good tagline (it was an accident, but we’re keeping it)
  • Build a 3D model of the main building out of a box, duct tape, etc (this was done throughout the entire process to give him something to do with his hands while thinking)

BoxWe didn’t have a plan of how much to accomplish each day when we started. We actually don’t have a plan at all. We just start working on it when we have a lot of time, decide what we need to do next, and keep going until we get bored and want to quit. (Actually, even after we quit on day 2, Ian spent almost 4 more hours working on his 3D models.)

I am giving him a lot of ideas, but the main ones have come from him. Also, I completely throw out anything he doesn’t like; I haven’t made any “executive decisions” to keep good material or throw out something I think may be problematic. And everything is working out just fine, so far! The problematic things that we have kept have all worked themselves out. Mostly by me asking questions about how it will work within the story, and Ian coming up with good answers. Also, on the second day, Ian wanted to nix the main conflict of the book. “What?” I asked. “That’s what the second book is gonna be about,” he said. And now that we are looking at chapters and chapters of ideas for the first book, I believe he made a very wise decision.