Our Memory Master Girlie

As many of you already know, we are a part of a local Classical Conversations campus.  We concluded our year in April and this past week was memory master proofing.  For the 99% of you reading this, you are probably wondering “what is a Memory Master?”    Here is a brief description: “Memory Master” is an honor bestowed on Foundations students who have mastered all of the memory work during the twenty-four weeks of Foundations class.  This year we were on Cycle 1 (CC follows a 3 year cycle), so the facts memorized included topics from these 7 subjects:

-161 events and people in a chronological timeline, recited in order
-44 U.S. presidents
-24 history sentences, to add depth to our timeline
-120 geographic locations and features and the ability to locate each one – this year found in Africa, Europe, South America, and the Old World
-24 science facts (such as the classification of living things, each continents highest mountain, parts of the earth, parts of the atmosphere, etc.)
-5 Latin noun endings and their singular and plural declensions
-24 English grammar facts (including 53 prepositions, 23 helping verbs, and 12 linking verbs, plus the definitions of those parts of speech)
-Math multiplication tables up to 15×15, common squares and cubes, basic geometry formulas and unit conversions

This was no small feat!  Hailey was incredibly diligent throughout the year to memorize the new memory work each week and also spent much time over the last 2 weeks preparing for the big day when she would  need to recite (by memory, without prompts or help) all of the memory work.  Hailey first recited the information for me and then another adult (my mom) at home, then for a tutor on the day of testing, and then finally she had a “spot check” with the director of our campus before receiving the distinguished honor of becoming a Memory Master!  Put together that is over 400 pieces of information!  I’m pretty sure that I was more nervous for her than she was for herself, but we were both incredibly happy when she was finished. 

Particularly for those unfamiliar with a classical education, some of you might be wondering, “what’s the point of this?”  Yes, it teaches diligence, confidence, commitment, and hard work … but really, “what is the point?”  Leigh Bortins, founder of CC, answers this:

“Modern education scoffs at the first tool of learning – memorization. Why learn to memorize if you can just look it up? Isn’t critical thinking more important than rote facts? My response is, ‘What can I think critically about if I know no facts?’ I can offer only my opinion, my point of view. Yet shouldn’t truth play a factor? For the Christian, absolute truth exists. His story is unfolding. I want to know who did what, where, when, and why for Him. I want to see His creation revealed through science. I want His word to be a lamp unto my feet. That means I must acquire, nurture, and expand my ability to store information, words, and abstract ideas. I want to be able to repeat truth and think about how truth affects my life. This requires hard academic work – brain training – habits of character.”

We are incredibly proud of our girlie for working so hard!
Ringing Rocks and MM 028

Hailey with her proof sheets completely filled in!
MM 004


Classical Conversations – Fine Arts: Drawing

We are getting ready to begin another year of Classical Conversations.  I will be tutoring one of the classes again, and in preparation I have been pulling together ideas for the first 6 weeks of Fine Arts, which happens to be drawing.  I thought I’d post all of the different ideas I have come across in case they are helpful to other tutors and/or parents.  Even if you are not a part of CC, there are some great ideas for art lessons.  My kids love doing extra art projects at home, so I’m sure we will be using these resources beyond the classroom this year!

Drawing with Children 

Drawing – Week 1: OiLS

Book to Read:
Ish by Peter H. Reynolds

For Practice:
~Have children fold a piece of art paper in half and then into thirds.  Unfold paper and using the fold lines of the 6 boxes, create an OiLS chart.  In box square have them label it with “Basic Elements: OiLS” and in the other squares have them draw examples of each element (circles, filled in dots, straight lines, angles and curves).
~Have children practice drawing the 5 elements of shape using these Donna Young worksheets.
~Use Draw-Write-Now Books or Ed Emberly’s Drawing Book of Animals to have the children draw some simple animals.  Show the children how to add different elements by using OiLS.

~Use this tutorial to draw owls.  Have the children use the different elements of OiLS to add detail to their owl(s).  If time permits, allow children to add color.
~As mentioned previously, allow children to use Draw-Write-Now books or Ed Emberly’s Drawing Book of Animals to draw a simple animal.  Be sure to have them add detail using the different elements of OiLS that they learned about.  They can also add color to these drawings if desired.
~Use this picture of a giraffe as a guide for the children to draw and then have them fill in the long neck of the giraffe with different elements of OiLS that they learned.
~Use these pictures as a guide for using OiLS to draw trees, leaves, flowers, and clouds.  

Draw-Write-Now 8

Drawing – Week 2: Mirror Image

Book to Read:
Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse by Marilyn Singer

For Practice:
~Fold a sheet of paper in half.  Cut out shapes on the fold and try to guess what the mirror image is going to look like and then open it!
~Have the students come up to the whiteboard one at a time to finish the mirror image of something you draw.  Add another element to the picture for each student instead of starting new each time.
~Have the students practice drawing mirror images using these Donna Youn worksheets.

~Trace leaves to make these Andy Warhol inspired leaves.
~Use leaves to complete this Line Art Leaves project.
~Use leaves to complete this Contour Fall Leaves project.

Draw and Write Through History 1

Drawing – Week 3: Upside-Down

Book to Read:
The Turn-Around, Upside-Down Alphabet Book by Lisa Campbell Ernst

For Practice:
~Have the students write their names (only first name for younger students, first and last for older students) on a piece of paper, turn it upside down and try to rewrite their name upside down by focusing on OiLS.  Turn it back around and see how they did!

~Use drawing projects from week 1 (owls and/or other animal(s) they drew), turn it upside-down and have children try to draw from this new perspective.
~For a more challenging upside-down project, this idea using a drawing with flowers in a jar looks neat.  The children could use watercolors as suggested or just color their drawing when finished.
~For another more challenging project, use this picture with instructions.

Ed Emberly's Drawing Book of Animals

Drawing – Week 4: Abstract

Book to Read:
What’s the Big Idea?: Activities and Adventures in Abstract Art by Joyce Raimondo

~Using this picture or this tutorial, make a 3D hand (you will need thick markers to color it in).
~Have the kids practice making abstract art using this tutorial (use basic idea, but make it smaller and more simple).
~Have the children make this Delaunay Marker Drawing using circles.
~For something simple, this Kandinsky Abstract Circles project would work well.  Instead of oil pastels, just have the children used crayons and/or colored pencils.
~For a really simple project, use a simple drawing and do something like this.
~Use cardboard templates of different shapes (triangle, square, circle) to make a project like this one.
~For a more challenging project, this Abstract Flower Drawing project is great.

Draw-Write-Now 7

Drawing – Week 5: Perspective

Book to Read:
The Pencil by Allen Ahlberg

For Practice:
~Practice turning planes (squares, rectangles, and triangles) into 3-dimensional figures and show how to draw other 3D objects such as cube, pyramid, cone, sphere and cylinder.  Show how shading also adds depth and the perception of perspective.  Have the kids practice on the white board or on a piece of paper.
~Ask these questions about perspective (bring in a piece of artwork** to represent these things):
     – What do you notice about the size of objects in the foreground compared to those in the background (SIZE)
     – What do you notice about the spacing of objects in the foreground compared to those in the background (SPACING)
     – Do any objects in the foreground overlap objects in the background (OVERLAPPING)
     – Can you see a light side and a dark side in the picture?  Where is the light source?  (SHADING)
     – Do you notice any shadows in the picture (SHADOW)
     – Where do the ground and sky meet (HORIZON LINE)
     – Is there a point in this picture where distant objects seem to disappear from sight (VANISHING POINT)
**Suggestions of art pieces to bring in (Google and print something from online or use a book with a picture): The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere by Grant Wood [1931], View from Mount Holyoke (The Oxbow) by Thomas Cole [1836], The County Election by George Caleb Bingham [1852] or Allies Day by Childe Hassam [1917]

~Using this fun perspective tutorial show the children how to make objects look closer and farther away.
~Use these pictures and instructions as a guide to make a one point perspective project with a city or farm in the skyline.
~I love this project that teaches about horizon lines using tracing paper.
~For another one point perspective drawing, this project always works really well.
~For older students, this project would be challenging.

Draw and Write Through History 2

Drawing – Week 6: Final Project

Book to Read:
Harold and Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
Not a Box by Antoinette Portis

For Practice:
~Take time to review everything that was learned over the past 5 weeks and review the differing elements and techniques of drawing.

Final Project:
~The goal for the final drawing project is for the child to create and own the drawing they choose.  I always provide plenty of “how to draw” books (see below for ideas) as well as criteria (again, see below) and then ask them to spend the class drawing their final project.  If they finish drawing, they can color what they draw with colored pencils and/or crayons.

~How to Draw book ideas:
Bring in some pages (or the entire book on your laptop/ipad) from What to draw and how to draw it.
Bring in Draw-Write-Now books.
Bring in Draw and Write Through History books.
Bring in Drawing with Children by Mona Brookes.
Bring in Ed Emberly’s Drawing Book of Animals.
Download and print this free Trojan Horse art project.

~Criteria for Final Project:
Use OiLS to break down what you want to draw
Include Perspective and Mirror Image
Fill the page and add background
Put in your best effort!

DIY Tri-Fold Board and Memory Work Board

As a tutor for Classical Conversations I prepare a white board with all of the new memory work on it each week.  Carrying in a large white board every week (while trying to make sure that the information does not get wiped off!) was always a bit of a struggle.  So this year, after coming across this tutorial, I decided to make my own dry erase tri-fold board.  However, after I made it and wrote out the first week of memory work, classroom schedule, and presentation name schedule, I realized that it would be nice to have it be a bit larger.  So, my engineer husband came to the rescue!  What we ended up doing was adding on two additional “wings” that were each 1’x3’ just like the first wings that I had already attached.  So now, instead of having a 4’x3’ board, I have a 6’x3’ board!  Here is a picture of our finished board:

boards 001

Here is a picture of what it looked like before we expanded it:

memory and tri.fold boards 003

You can purchase a large (4’x8’) sheet of this material (shower board) at Lowe’s or Home Depot for around $11-$12 and they will cut each piece to size for free.  Instead of following the original tutorial sizes, I would probably opt to have the middle section be 2’x4’ (instead of 2’x3’) and the wings be 1’x4’ (instead of 1’x3’).  That would make your overall board size be a square that is 4’4’ and give you the extra space that I felt I needed.  The nice thing about my new and improved version is that since both wings fold over top of the main section, my tri-fold board still measures only 2’x3’ when it is folded.  This is going to make transporting my dry erase board so much easier this year and I am very excited! 

Another project I worked on a couple weeks ago was setting up our Memory Board that we use to review our new grammar every week.  I have mine set up much like this tutorial at Half a Hundred Acre Wood.  However, since we do not currently own the science cards, I just left that spot empty and made a little sign that says “Cycle 1, Week 1, Classical Conversations.”  Eventually I may use that for something else, but I’m not sure what yet.  Last year, we had 8 timeline cards to review each week, but this year we only have 7 due to a new format so there is an empty spot.  I also added two additional page protectors on the top wings.  One of them I use for a map and the other one has the first twelve weeks of the timeline song for a quick reference review.  Once we get beyond week 12 of the timeline, I might replace the map with the additional timeline song.  For the Bible spot, I will eventually print out the entire passage in Exodus that we are memorizing this year to have as a weekly reference.  All of the printouts came from CC Connected, except for the timeline printout, which I created.  After we meet for CC each week I will update the printouts with our new memory work to use for review.  Here is a picture of our board:

memory and tri.fold boards 001