Unlocking the Power of Hymnody: Why Studying Hymns Is Crucial for Modern Kids

Unlocking the Power of Hymnody: Why Studying Hymns Is Crucial for Modern Kids
In a digital age dominated by fleeting trends, the enduring significance and presence of hymns often gets overlooked. However, delving into their study can unveil a treasure trove of benefits for modern kids. I personally have my homeschool choirs sing a hymn (either a modern arrangement, a basic version, or a cappella) each semester because I understand the value and richness of doing so. So let's explore why hymn study is not just relevant but essential in today's society, especially for our kids.

Cultural and Historical Insight
Hymns are not mere melodies; they're windows into the past, offering insights into the cultural and religious landscapes of their time. From the soul-stirring "Amazing Grace" to the steadfast "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God," each hymn encapsulates a story of faith, resilience, and human experience. By studying hymns and the context in which they were written, children gain a deeper appreciation for history and the values that have shaped societies through the ages.

Musical Enrichment
In a world saturated with synthesized sounds, hymns provide a refreshing oasis of musical richness and simplicity. Their intricate harmonies, diverse vocal styles, and timeless melodies offer invaluable lessons in music theory as well as challenges to sing (depending on the singer and the specific hymn). Studying hymns challenges young musicians, enhancing their skills as performers and composers while expanding the options their musical ear understands and broadening their musical horizons.

Spiritual and Emotional Nourishment
Hymns possess a unique ability to touch hearts and uplift spirits. Through expressions of joy, sorrow, gratitude, or hope, hymns offer a conduit for exploring complex emotions and grappling with life's uncertainties. In an era marked by rapid change and technological distractions, studying hymns provides a grounding force, nurturing children's spiritual and emotional well-being when they are given the opportunity to understand and take in the musical and textual richness.

Language and Literacy Enhancement
The lyrical beauty of hymns makes them a potent tool for language and literacy development. Analyzing their poetic structure, vocabulary, and symbolism strengthens reading comprehension, expands vocabulary, and hones critical thinking skills. Memorizing hymn verses enhances memory retention and cognitive function, offering a holistic approach to language learning.

Community and Tradition
Hymn-singing has long been a communal practice, fostering a sense of unity and belonging among participants. By engaging with hymns, children connect with a tradition that spans generations and transcends cultural boundaries. Whether in church, school, home or community settings, hymn study strengthens bonds with others and instills a sense of shared heritage and connection together.

Studying of hymns offers a wealth of benefits for modern kids, from cultural enrichment and musical education to spiritual growth and community engagement. By embracing these timeless treasures, children can enrich their lives and connect with the enduring wisdom of the past. Let's ensure that hymn study remains a vital part of our educational and cultural landscape, empowering future generations to sing their praises with passion and purpose! Check out the "A Hymn a Month" freebie that covers a whole month's worth of different ways your family can study one hymn. Further resources for specific hymn studies will be available soon in the Classical Collective Membership -- sign up to be notified when it goes live!

Making Music a Daily Habit: Incorporating Daily Music into Your Homeschool Routine

Making Music a Daily Habit: Incorporating Daily Music into Your Homeschool Routine
In homeschooling, where many children thrive off of structure and routine, the incorporation of music into the daily rhyhms & schedule can offer invaluable benefits. From enhancing cognitive development to fostering discipline and creativity, music serves as a dynamic educational tool that enriches the homeschooling experience. Let’s explore practical ways to make music an integral part of your homeschool daily.

Establishing Consistent Practice

The foundation of integrating music into your homeschooling routine lies in establishing a consistent practice schedule, or time in the day to include musical learning. Designate a specific time, whether it be in the morning or afternoon, solely for music education, whether that is learning about music or making music or both. By making daily practice a non-negotiable component of your routine, you instill in your children the values of commitment and diligence, essential traits that extend far beyond the realm of music.

Cultivating Confidence Through Singing

Singing provides a universal accessible avenue for musical expression and self-discovery. Encourage your children to engage in vocal exercises (more on this in the Classical Collective group!) and sing along to their favorite songs. Emphasize the importance of confidence-building over perfection, fostering an environment where experimentation and expression are celebrated. Additionally, consider incorporating intergenerational interactions by having older siblings sing to younger ones, nurturing family relationships through musical connection.

Exploring "Living Songtales" and Hymn Study

Expand your musical repertoire by exploring living songtales, which combine storytelling with musical elements to captivate young minds. Integrate these tales into your homeschool curriculum, providing a multi-sensory approach to learning that stimulates imagination and creativity. Furthermore, consider incorporating hymn study into your morning routine or another suitable time of day, offering insights into the historical and cultural significance of traditional hymns while also fostering introspection and spiritual growth. (For resources in these areas, stay tuned! More to come in the Classical Collective Membership -- sign up here to get notified when it goes live for pre-sale!).

Additional Ideas for Musical Exploration

Beyond structured practice and study, there are numerous avenues for incorporating music into your homeschooling routine:
  1. Music Appreciation: Delve into various musical genres and styles through listening sessions and discussions, cultivating an appreciation for diverse forms of artistic expression.
  2. DIY Instrument Projects: Engage in hands-on learning by constructing homemade instruments using household materials, fostering creativity and resourcefulness.
  3. Musical Games and Activities: Infuse playfulness into daily life with interactive games and activities designed to reinforce musical concepts and skills. Here's many ideas!
  4. Family Music Making: Foster a sense of unity and collaboration by organizing family jam sessions or family sing alongs, providing an opportunity for each member to showcase their musical talents in a supportive environment. Even if family members do not feel they have talents in this area, the goal is communal music-making, not the skill level of the music-making itself. We do value excellence! But we value community and shared experience more here (just like we do with corporate worship... more on that later!).
Incorporating music into your homeschooling routine offers a wealth of educational and developmental benefits, from enhancing cognitive abilities to fostering creativity and confidence. By establishing consistent practice, exploring diverse musical experiences, and embracing intergenerational and communal learning opportunities, you create an environment where music thrives as an integral aspect of the homeschooling journey. So, let music permeate your homeschooling routine, enriching the educational experience and nurturing the hearts and minds of your children.

From Notes to Novels: Exploring Literary Connections through Music

From Notes to Novels: Exploring Literary Connections through Music
In the realm of artistic expression, the convergence of literature and music unveils a captivating tapestry of interconnectedness. This not only enriches both mediums but also provides a deeply immersive experience for audiences. Let's embark on a journey to uncover the intriguing connections between literature and music, exploring how they intertwine!

  1. The Language of Emotion: Literature and music serve as languages of emotion, each possessing the ability to evoke profound feelings and experiences. Just as a well-crafted novel transports readers to different realms of emotion, a beautifully composed piece of music has the power to stir the soul. Take, for instance, Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, whose triumphant finale, featuring Friedrich Schiller's "Ode to Joy," transcends language barriers to convey a universal message of joy and unity.
  2. Musical Storytelling: Music has a narrative quality that complements the storytelling prowess of literature. Composers often draw inspiration from literary works to create musical narratives that captivate audiences. An exemplary illustration is Sergei Prokofiev's "Romeo and Juliet," a ballet score that brings Shakespeare's timeless tale to life through emotive melodies and evocative orchestration.
  3. Inspired Creations: Literary masterpieces have long inspired composers to create enduring works of music. One such example is Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture," which commemorates Russia's victory over Napoleon's army and draws inspiration from Leo Tolstoy's "War and Peace." Conversely, authors have also drawn inspiration from music, as seen in Virginia Woolf's novel "To the Lighthouse," where classical music serves as a central motif, shaping the characters' emotions and experiences.
  4. Shared Themes and Motifs: Themes such as love, loss, and redemption resonate deeply across both literature and music. Consider Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 5, which navigates themes of love and mortality with poignant intensity, mirroring the emotional depth found in literary classics like Leo Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina." These shared themes serve as a bridge between the two art forms, enriching the human experience through their universal resonance.
  5. Collaborative Projects: Collaborative ventures between writers and musicians offer innovative ways to explore the intersection of literature and music. One notable example is Philip Glass's opera "Einstein on the Beach," a groundbreaking collaboration with playwright Robert Wilson that pushes the boundaries of traditional opera by incorporating minimalist music and non-linear storytelling.
The interplay between literature and music unveils a world of boundless creativity and inspiration. Through evocative storytelling, shared themes, and collaborative endeavors, these two art forms can converge to create immersive experiences that resonate deeply with audiences. So, the next time you delve into a novel or immerse yourself in a musical composition, take a moment to appreciate the intricate connections between notes and novels, and the enchanting magic that unfolds when they harmonize.

More Hidden Musical Gems: 5 More Lesser-Known Composers Homeschooling Parents Should Know

More Hidden Musical Gems: 5 More Lesser-Known Composers Homeschooling Parents Should Know
Continuing our exploration of lesser-known classical composers, we embark on another journey of musical discovery, uncovering hidden gems that enrich the homeschooling curriculum with diverse sounds and stories. While the names of Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven (to name a few) resonate throughout history, these composers, though less celebrated, have made significant contributions to the world of classical music. Here are five more composers every homeschooling parent should introduce to their children, expanding their horizons and nurturing their appreciation for the arts. If you're interested in learning more about these composers (including resources for use with your children), check out The Classical Collective Membership!

1. Louise Farrenc (1804-1875)
Louise Farrenc was a pioneering French composer, virtuoso pianist, and influential music educator whose works showcase a mastery of form, melody, and expression. Despite facing gender-based discrimination in the male-dominated music world of the 19th century, Farrenc's compositions earned her acclaim and respect among her peers. Farrenc's chamber music, symphonies, and piano works highlight her innovative use of classical forms and her bold harmonic language. Explore Farrenc's advocacy for gender equality in music education and her lasting impact as a composer and pedagogue.

2. William Grant Still (1895-1978)
William Grant Still was a pioneering African-American composer whose music defied racial barriers and stereotypes to embrace a diverse range of styles and influences. Often referred to as the "Dean of African-American composers," Still's compositions blend elements of jazz, blues, spirituals, and classical tradition, creating a rich and vibrant musical tapestry. Introduce your children to Still's orchestral suites, operas, and chamber works, exploring themes of identity, heritage, and social justice. Discuss Still's groundbreaking achievements as the first African-American composer to have a symphony performed by a major orchestra and his enduring legacy as a trailblazer for diversity in classical music.

3. Ethel Smyth (1858-1944)
Ethel Smyth was a pioneering English composer, suffragist, and writer whose music and activism left an indelible mark on British cultural history. Smyth's compositions encompass a wide range of genres, from operas and chamber music to choral works and symphonies. Introduce your homeschoolers to Smyth's operas, including "The Wreckers" and "Der Wald," which showcase her dramatic flair, lyrical melodies, and feminist themes. Explore Smyth's role as a leading figure in the suffragette movement, using her music as a vehicle for social change and women's rights.

4. Joaquín Rodrigo (1901-1999)
Joaquín Rodrigo was a Spanish composer whose music captured the spirit and beauty of his native land, blending Spanish folk melodies with classical forms and techniques. Despite losing his sight at an early age, Rodrigo's compositions are marked by their vibrant colors, evocative harmonies, and lyrical melodies. Introduce your children to Rodrigo's guitar concertos, such as the famous "Concierto de Aranjuez," which showcase his mastery of the instrument and his deep connection to Spanish musical traditions. Learn about Rodrigo's life story, his collaborations with renowned guitarists, and his enduring legacy as one of the most beloved composers of the 20th century.

5. Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979)
Rebecca Clarke was a pioneering British composer and violist whose music defied norms and conventions to achieve recognition and acclaim. Clarke's compositions blend elements of Romanticism, Impressionism, and modernism, creating a distinctive and expressive musical language. Introduce your homeschoolers to Clarke's chamber music, including her hauntingly beautiful viola sonata and piano trio, which showcase her lyrical melodies, lush harmonies, and inventive structures. Discuss Clarke's struggles for recognition in a male-dominated field, her contributions to the repertoire for viola, and her lasting impact on 20th-century music.

By introducing your children to these five lesser-known classical composers, you can open the door to a world of musical discovery, cultural enrichment, and artistic inspiration. Embrace the diversity of voices and stories that enrich the tapestry of classical music, fostering curiosity, empathy, and creativity in your homeschoolers. So, embark on a journey of exploration and celebration, uncovering hidden gems that will illuminate your homeschool curriculum and leave a lasting impression on your family for generations to come. If you're interested in learning more about these composers and others, check out The Classical Collective Membership!

6 Expert Tips for Teaching Music at Home with Confidence

6 Expert Tips for Teaching Music at Home with Confidence
In the realm of home education, teaching music can feel like a daunting task, especially for moms who may not consider themselves musically inclined. However, with the right approach, any parent can become an effective music teacher for their kids. If you're a mom who feels like her kids are more musically inclined than you are, fear not!

Here are six expert tips to help you navigate the world of music education at home with confidence (from a music teacher mama):

  1. Embrace Your Role as a Guide: Your musical journey with your children begins by understanding that you don't need to be a virtuoso. Think of yourself as a guide, introducing your children to the world of music, helping them explore different genres and exposing them to new songs, providing support and encouragement and showing them you are learning along the way with them.
  2. Start with the Basics: Begin by laying a solid foundation in music theory, covering essential elements such as rhythm, melody, and harmony. Engage your children with interactive games, fun songs, and hands-on activities to make learning enjoyable and effective. Don't know where to begin with that? Check out the Classical Collective Membership for resources.
  3. Make Use of Resources: Leverage the wealth of resources available online to support music education at home. From interactive tutorials and educational apps to lessons and community music groups, there's something for every age and skill level. These resources can enrich your children's learning experience and provide valuable support for you as a parent-teacher.
  4. Encourage Creativity: Nurture your children's creative expression through music by encouraging them to compose their own songs, experiment with different instruments, and even craft homemade musical instruments from household items. Emphasize the joy of exploration and self-expression, fostering a love for music that goes beyond rote learning.
  5. Lead by Example: Set a positive example for your children by actively engaging with music in your daily life, showing them you are also a lifelong learner! Listen to a variety of musical genres together, sing and dance, read them songtales, attend live performances, and demonstrate that music is something to be enjoyed and celebrated as a family together.
  6. Be Patient and Persistent: Above all, remember that learning music is a journey that requires patience and persistence. Celebrate your children's progress, no matter how small, and encourage them to persevere through challenges. By fostering a supportive and nurturing environment, you can inspire a lifelong passion for music in your children.

    Teaching music at home can be a rewarding experience for both you and your children, regardless of your musical background. By embracing your role as a guide, starting with the basics, utilizing resources, encouraging creativity, leading by example, and maintaining patience and persistence, you can instill a lifelong love of music in your children and grow your own skill and confidence along the way. So, don't hesitate to start this musical adventure together and discover the joy of making music at home!

Exploring Hidden Gems: 5 Lesser-Known Composers Every Homeschooling Parent Should Know

Exploring Hidden Gems: 5 Lesser-Known Composers Every Homeschooling Parent Should Know
As homeschooling parents, one of the joys of educating our children is the opportunity to explore lesser-known facets of history, culture, and the arts. While the works of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, and Strauss (to name a few famous composers) are undeniably influential, there exists a treasure trove of lesser-known classical composers whose contributions are equally deserving of recognition. Here, we touch briefly on the lives and music of five hidden gems that every homeschooling parent should discover, enriching their children's educational journey with diverse sounds and stories. If you're interested in learning more about these composers and others, check out The Classical Collective Membership!

1. Clara Schumann (1819-1896)
Clara Schumann was not only a virtuoso pianist but also a gifted composer whose works are celebrated for their emotional depth and technical brilliance. As one of the most distinguished pianists of the Romantic era, Clara's compositions offer a window into her inner world, marked by passion, longing, and resilience. Introduce your children to Clara's piano music, including her charming character pieces and poignant lieder compositions. Explore Clara's remarkable life as a pioneering female artist, navigating the challenges of love, motherhood, and artistic fulfillment in a male-dominated world.

2. Florence Price (1887-1953)
Florence Price was a trailblazing African-American composer whose music defied racial barriers and prejudice to leave an indelible mark on American classical music. Price's compositions blend elements of African-American spirituals, jazz, and European classical tradition, creating a unique and vibrant musical tapestry. Price's symphonies, piano concertos, and chamber music explore themes of identity, heritage, and social justice. Discuss Price's groundbreaking achievements as the first African-American woman to have her music performed by a major symphony orchestra, inspiring future generations of composers and performers.

3. Fanny Mendelssohn (1805-1847)
Fanny Mendelssohn, the older sister of Felix Mendelssohn, was a remarkably talented composer whose gifts were overshadowed by the societal constraints placed on women in the 19th century. Despite facing obstacles to her musical career, Fanny left behind a wealth of exquisite compositions that deserve recognition and appreciation. Introduce your homeschoolers to Fanny's piano music, chamber works, and choral compositions, revealing her lyrical melodies, harmonic richness, and emotional depth. Explore Fanny's complex relationship with her family, her struggles for recognition as a composer, and her enduring legacy as a pioneer for women in music.

4. Amy Beach (1867-1944)
Amy Beach was a pioneering American composer whose music reflects the spirit of her time while breaking new ground in form and expression. As one of the first American women to achieve widespread recognition as a composer, Beach's works encompass a wide range of genres, from symphonic tone poems to intimate chamber music. Introduce your children to Beach's piano music, songs, and orchestral compositions, immersing them in her lush harmonies, evocative melodies, and inventive structures. Discuss Beach's role as a trailblazer for women in music and her contributions to the American classical tradition, inspiring future generations of composers and performers.

5. Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908)
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov was a Russian composer whose vivid orchestration, exotic harmonies, and evocative storytelling captivated audiences around the world. While Rimsky-Korsakov is known for his orchestral showpieces like "Scheherazade" and "Capriccio Espagnol," his contributions to Russian opera are equally noteworthy. Rimsky-Korsakov's operas highlight tales of magic, adventure, and folklore that showcase his mastery of melody and orchestral color. Discuss Rimsky-Korsakov's role in the Russian nationalist movement and his influence on subsequent generations of composers, shaping the course of future Russian classical music.

By introducing your children to these five lesser-known classical composers, you open the door to a world of musical discovery, cultural enrichment, and artistic inspiration. Embrace the diversity of voices and stories that enrich the tapestry of classical music, fostering curiosity, empathy, and creativity where otherwise you may not have heard of these fascinating musicians. And if you're interested in learning more about these composers and other lesser-known musicians, check out The Classical Collective Membership!

10 Creative Ways to Integrate Music into Classical Homeschooling

10 Creative Ways to Integrate Music into Classical Homeschooling
In the realm of classical homeschooling, music holds a special place. From fostering creativity to enhancing cognitive development, the incorporation of music into your daily life and homeschool can enrich your and your child(ren)'s experience in countless ways. If you're looking for fresh and inventive ideas to infuse music into your classical homeschooling routine, here's a few ideas that work for my family and the families I guide! 

10 creative ways to integrate music into your homeschooling journey:

1. Composer Study Sessions: Delve into the lives and works of classical composers through biographies and musical contributions. Choose engaging narratives that bring composers to life and encourage your children to narrate back their life story and what they've learned in their own words.

2. Musical Storytime: Select classic children's books with musical themes or adaptations of famous musical compositions or folk songs. Encourage your children to narrate their understanding of the stories and discuss the emotions evoked by the music and how it helps tell the story.

3. DIY Instrument Making: Engage in hands-on exploration by crafting simple musical instruments. Encourage your children describe the sounds produced by their homemade instruments and the principles of sound they've discovered. You could even connect it to a book you're reading by acting out part of the story using vocal and instrument sounds with what you created!

4. Music and Movement: Integrate music into physical education by exploring the connection between music and movement. Encourage your children to express themselves and the various elements of what they are listening to through movement while listening to a wide variety of styles and genres of music. This DVD gives some great examples!

5. Historical Music Exploration: Explore different historical periods through books that show the cultural and musical developments of each era and how they are connected. Encourage narration as your children retell the stories of how historical events influenced musical styles and composers. Create a Book of Centuries (or timeline journal) and encourage your children to add the composers and musical time periods and eras to it as they learn.

6. Virtual & In-Person Concert Field Trips: Take virtual field trips (or live ones!) to concerts, operas, or musical performances around the world -- beforehand, provide context and background information. Encourage your children to narrate their impressions of the performances and discuss the elements that stood out to them afterwards.

7. Music Journaling: Encourage your children to keep a music journal where they can write or draw their impressions of various pieces of music. Ask them to describe how the music makes them feel or what imagery it invokes in their minds.

8. Collaborative Music Projects: Foster teamwork and creativity by organizing collaborative music projects. Encourage your children to compose their own songs, create musical arrangements, or even form a family band. Emphasize the importance of communication and the value of working together and compromise (if needed) in the creative process.

9. Music in Language Arts: Integrate music into language arts studies by exploring the intersection of music and literature. Analyze song lyrics as poetry, explore the use of symbolism in music, or even try your hand at writing song lyrics inspired by literary works.

10. Music Appreciation Picnics: Take your lesson outdoors with music appreciation picnics. Pack a basket of snacks, a blanket, and your favorite music selections, classical selections are fun to do this way. Enjoy listening to music (and add in the movement!) while discussing your favorite compositions and composers.

Do you have any creative ways to integrate music into your homeschooling or daily routines? Share your ideas in the comments below!

Intrigued by some of the ideas above, but don't know where to begin? Simple systems of how to implement these and much more will be included in the Classical Collective Membership! Sign up here to learn more and for pre-launch sale details.

Classical Education: A Brief Intro and Some Resources

Classical Education: A Brief Intro and Some Resources
As you set foot on the path of homeschooling, you're likely to encounter a multitude of educational philosophies. One such philosophy that might pique your interest is classical education. But what exactly does it entail, and how can it enrich your homeschooling journey?

Classical education is a time-tested approach rooted in the ancient Greco-Roman tradition. At its core, it emphasizes the pursuit of truth, goodness, and beauty through a structured "good books" based curriculum based on the trivium: grammar, logic, and rhetoric.

In the grammar stage, typically spanning the early years, children lay the groundwork of knowledge through memorization, repetition, and the study of language, literature, history, and science. This stage capitalizes on children's natural curiosity and receptivity to new information.

As children progress into the logic stage, usually during the middle school years, they learn to think critically, analyze information, and make connections between different subjects. This phase fosters the development of sound reasoning skills and encourages students to ask probing questions.

Finally, in the rhetoric stage, which encompasses mostly the high school years, students refine their communication skills, both written and verbal. They learn to express themselves eloquently and persuasively, engaging in meaningful dialogue and debate by tying many different learned topics and ideas together.

Implementing classical education in your homeschooling journey can seem daunting, but there are numerous resources and community available to guide you. "Consider This: Charlotte Mason and the Classical Tradition" by Karen Glass offers insights into Mason's educational philosophy, which aligns closely with classical principles.
Dorothy Sayers' essay "The Lost Tools of Learning" outlines the trivium and advocates for a return to classical teaching methods. Understanding the stages of learning can help you tailor your approach to each stage, creating a dynamic and engaging learning environment.

Stephen R. Turley's "Awakening Wonder: A Classical Guide to Truth, Goodness, and Beauty" provides practical tips for incorporating classical principles into your homeschooling curriculum. Turley emphasizes the importance of nurturing a love for truth, goodness, and beauty in education.

Susan Schaeffer Macaulay's "For the Children’s Sake" underscores the importance of a holistic, child-centered approach to education. By nurturing the whole child—mind, body, and soul—we can create an environment where learning flourishes. And "The Great Tradition: Classic Readings on What It Means to Be an Educated Human Being," edited by Richard Gamble, offers timeless texts that illuminate the essence of classical education.

As you embark on your homeschooling journey, remember that you're not alone. There's a vibrant community of homeschooling families ready to offer support and guidance to one another. Embrace the principles of classical education, and watch as your children grow into thoughtful, engaged individuals equipped to navigate the complexities of the modern world.

Happy homeschooling!

What is Classical Education? A New Homeschooling Mom's Guide

What is Classical Education? A New Homeschooling Mom's Guide
Embarking on a homeschooling journey opens the door to exploring various educational philosophies -- there's so many options! How do I decide? Ultimately, you have to make the decision that's best for your family. I chose to look at first and answer the question, "What is a child and how does he/she learn?" to make my initial decisions regarding homeschooling. Classical education stands out as a time-tested approach rooted in ancient Greco-Roman tradition. How does a classical education philosophy answer this question? And what exactly does it entail, and how can it elevate your homeschooling experience?

Classical education offers a profound answer to the question of what a child is and how they learn. It recognizes that children are not empty vessels to be filled with information but rather curious and imaginative beings made in the image of God eager to explore the world around them. By embracing the trivium—grammar, logic, and rhetoric—classical education provides a structured framework that nurtures children's natural inclination towards truth, goodness, and beauty.

In the grammar stage, children are introduced to the wonders of language, literature, history, arts, and science through the use of living books and good, true, and beautiful sources. These captivating narratives not only impart knowledge but also ignite children's imaginations and instill in them a love for learning. By immersing children in stories and facts that resonate with their innate curiosity, classical education lays a solid foundation upon which further learning can be built.

As children progress into the logic stage, they are encouraged to think critically, analyze information, and make connections between different realities in their world. This phase challenges them to question assumptions, seek out underlying patterns, and engage with complex ideas. Through the exploration of more advanced living books, children develop the intellectual tools necessary to navigate the complexities of the world around them with discernment and clarity.

In the rhetoric stage, students refine their communication skills—both written and verbal—and learn to articulate thoughts persuasively and engage in meaningful dialogue and debate. This phase not only focuses on the art of persuasion but also cultivates a deep appreciation for beauty and goodness in all its forms. By encouraging students to express themselves eloquently and engage thoughtfully with diverse perspectives, classical education prepares them to become effective communicators and compassionate leaders in an increasingly interconnected and complex world.

By incorporating classical education into your homeschooling journey, you can not only provide your children with a holistic and enriching educational experience that fosters intellectual curiosity, moral integrity, and a lifelong love for learning, but also do this within relationship alongside your children (one of the most important parts). You can capitalize on your strengths while also learning with your children! With the guidance of abundant resources and support from fellow homeschooling mamas (some who are seasoned with wisdom and others who are freshly energetic about starting), you can create a dynamic and engaging learning environment where your children can flourish into thoughtful, engaged individuals equipped to navigate life's challenges with wisdom and grace.

The Valuable Use of Commonplace Books in Homeschooling

The Valuable Use of Commonplace Books in Homeschooling
In classical homeschooling, we're constantly seeking methods to cultivate wisdom and nurture a love for learning in our children. One timeless tool that resonates deeply with this endeavor is the commonplace book—a cherished companion for scholars, thinkers, and creatives throughout history. But what exactly is a commonplace book, and why is it invaluable in our homeschooling journey?

At its essence, a commonplace book serves as a personal sanctuary of knowledge, wisdom, and inspiration. It becomes a beautiful little space where we gather and collect passages, quotes, and insights from various sources that carry significance to us — books, articles, lectures, and even conversations and personal thoughts that relate to those quotes, books, and articles. Unlike a traditional journal, which may primarily focus on personal reflections, a commonplace book is akin to a curated treasury of ideas that speak to our souls and kindle our intellectual curiosity.

So why do I, as a classical homeschooling mom, find the commonplace book indispensable? Here are several compelling reasons:

  1. Cultivating Intellectual Curiosity: A commonplace book inspires children to actively engage with the material they encounter versus being a passive learner. By transcribing passages and quotes that captivate their interest, they delve deeper into subjects, fostering a profound understanding and sparking a thirst for further exploration while also working on handwriting (if you so desire).
  2. Enhancing Learning and Retention: Studies have shown that the act of writing by hand enhances memory and comprehension. As our children summarize, paraphrase, and synthesize information in their commonplace books, they reinforce their learning and internalize key insights more effectively, seeing connections between different authors, ideas, and concepts.
  3. Fostering Creativity and Inspiration: Commonplace books serve as a wellspring of inspiration for young writers, artists, and thinkers. By capturing snippets of prose, poetry, and ideas that resonate with them, our children cultivate a reservoir of creativity to draw upon in their own creative pursuits.
  4. Promoting Reflection and Growth: Regularly revisiting their commonplace books allows our children to reflect on past experiences, insights, and lessons learned. It provides a space for self-discovery and personal growth as they glean new perspectives and wisdom from their collected entries.
  5. Building a Personal Legacy: Over time, our children's commonplace books become a reflection of their intellectual journey and worldview as they grow and learn. They can serve as a legacy for future generations, offering glimpses into their thoughts, interests, and values.
So how can we guide our children in starting their own commonplace books? The process is simple:
  • Choosing a Format: Whether it's a physical notebook, a digital document, or an online platform, our children can select a format that resonates with their preferences and learning styles. Here are a few I created, but any notebook or artpad will do: Foliage version, floral version, and music version.
  • Gathering Materials: Encourage them to collect pens (I love these), pencils, highlighters, and other tools (even stickers!) to personalize their commonplace books and make the process enjoyable -- encourage that creativity!
  • Capturing Ideas: As they read, listen, or engage with new material, prompt them to draw or jot down passages, quotes, and insights that speak to them. Emphasize the importance of including the source (title/author and page number) and any relevant context to facilitate future reference should they want to reference it again later.
  • Organizing and Reflecting: Guide them in periodically reviewing and organizing their entries, perhaps categorizing them by theme, subject, or relevance if the type of journal or notebook you chose allows for that. Encourage them to reflect on the connections and patterns that emerge, fostering a deeper understanding of their learning and the world around them.
  • Sharing and Connecting: Consider facilitating discussions around excerpts from their commonplace books or encouraging them to share their insights with like-minded peers. Commonplace books provide a rich source of conversation and connection, fostering a sense of community and intellectual exploration.
A commonplace book is not merely a collection of words—it's a treasure trove of wisdom, insight, and inspiration that is as unique as the person who created it. By embracing the practice of maintaining a commonplace book, our children embark on a journey of intellectual discovery, personal growth, and lifelong learning.

Do you have a commonplace book? Do your children have commonplace books? If so, what have you noticed in yourself or in your children through this practice?

3 Toys I Use to Teach Musical Concepts to Young Children

3 Toys I Use to Teach Musical Concepts to Young Children
As a music teacher, I love to use toys and props in my homeschool early childhood music classes and lessons to help children learn musical concepts. It is so much fun to see their creativity, and it's always an added bonus if they have that toy at home already that they can go home and use musically.

Here are my top 3 favorites! Let me know if you try these out in your home or classroom!

1) Pop-up Squirrels

These pop-up squirrels are so much fun! They're a great fidgety-type toy to give your hands something to do, but I love using them with my squirrel songs. I have multiple squirrel songs, but my favorite one to use with this toy is Peep Squirrel (here's a demonstration video in case you don't know the song). I find that having a prop or toy helps young children stay engaged in the song for many more repetitions of the song than if I just sang it alone, allowing their ears to hear the song more times and sing it way more accurately once they do! I usually pass this toy around the circle and sing it myself while they keep the beat. Then another day, I will have them sing the song while they pop the squirrel on the beat.

2) Hoberman Sphere

The hoberman sphere is often called a breathing ball, and I enjoy using it to teach young children what their lungs are doing when they breathe! It's a great way to start off a children's choir rehearsal, or to use with any class if children got a bit wild in the middle as a way to reset and regroup. I like having students take turns opening and closing it; I always pick students who are demonstrating a specific skill I would like to see (ie low diaphragmatic breathing or silent breaths).

3) Googly Eye Rings

I just love using these googly eye rings for vocal exploration or Arioso (if you're familiar with Feierabend's First Steps in Music)! You can get them in different sizes (like these big ones here) but I find this size to be the best for little fingers. I like to call mine hummers and have the children make humming sounds with them. They are SO willing to sing on their own if they have a fun toy/prop in hand to do it with! They'll even have musical conversations and make up tunes together with these little guys. I always buy the 100 pack because they're tiny and we lose them easily. :P

Well, there you have it! My top 3 favorites. Which one are you going to try or have you tried and really liked?

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