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    Baby Steps: Reading Shakespeare aloud

    Today is a great day of victory in our homeschool! We just finished our first entire play of Shakespeare aloud--"As You Like It." I wanted to post and encourage those of you who (like me) dream of reading Shakespeare to your kids but can't quite figure out how to make it work. Last January we added Lamb's "Tales from Shakespeare" into our Morning Time reading rotation. The kids enjoyed the stories immensely and quickly came to think he was both clever and funny. This fall when school resumed we read Lamb's "As You Like It" then saw our local Shakespeare company perform it live as a Shakespeare in the park event. I drug the kids out to the late-night show and was proud that they were some of the youngest in attendance *and* that they followed the plot well and rolled on the quilt in laughter at Touchstone the clown. The following day we broke out the real thing. To my great surprise they loved it. Yes, the language was over their heads at points (and over mine, too!) but they hung with it and loved having it in the rotation. I read a scene or two per day and it took us about six weeks. Today we celebrated our finish. They've chosen "Comedy of Errors" next. And so we press on!

    I wanted to encourage others of you to jump in and make it happen, even if it's just baby steps. A favorite saying of mine from Cheryl Lowe is this, "Pace yourself. Most people overestimate what they can accomplish in one year and underestimate what they can accomplish in five." This has been my constant encouragement and I see it proving itself true as we are in our third year with MP.

    Here is an article by Cindy Rollins that inspired me to jump in: http://www.circeinstitute.org/2011/09/teaching-shakespeare-to-children

    I'm also curious to hear what experiences you have had with Shakespeare in your homeschools.

    Best to you all, kind friends,
    Last edited by pickandgrin; 10-24-2014, 12:49 PM.
    Festina lentē,
    Jessica P

    '22-'23 • 13th year HSing • 11th year MP
    DS Hillsdale College freshman
    DD 11th • HLN & Latin online
    DD 8th • HLN & Home
    DS 5th • HLN & Home
    Me • Memoria College, MPOA Fourth Form for Adults

    Teaching Third Form Latin and co-directing @
    Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School, est. 2016

    #2
    Reading during your morning routine

    Jessica-

    First, congratulations on tackling Shakespeare... I had not thought of introducing it yet, but this definitely gives me food for thought. One thing that caught my attention in your post was your mention of your reading time in your morning routine. Would you be willing to share how you structure your morning routine? I try to read to my kids before bed at night (we just finished Peter Pan), and I have stashes of library books that are for enrichment time, plus they each have literature, and I really struggle to keep up the pace. Right now our morning routine consists of an hour, with the first 30 minutes devoted to Bible and the second devoted to recitation/ memory work, and then we dive into math and other individual subjects. I really want to immerse them in good literature, and sometimes I am overwhelmed by what we have yet to read, and what I never ever read as a child. Plus, literature is one of those areas in which I feel less confident. I depend heavily on our MP literature guides, and that has helped so much. I have traditionally thought of myself as a math and science person, so I am learning with them. Anyway, if I could find a way to make reading and lit part of our morning routine, that might help me with the scheduling difficulties. I think only time and persistence will help with the confidence!

    Melissa
    Cincinnati, OH
    DS-10, DD-9, DS-7

    Comment


      #3
      Melissa,

      I'm sure Jessica will reply with her morning time details, but I thought that I would share what we do as well. I am always feeling like we have "more" to read and I love our read aloud time. We also read every night as a family. That time has changed over the years. It use to just be me or my husband reading aloud to the children, but now I find that our reading time as gotten longer and taken on a new meaning. I still read aloud for about 30 minutes, but both kids also now read a bit each night. Our oldest daughter is tackling the Gospels, so each night she reads aloud from scripture. Our son is currently working through a Classical Starts version of Treasure Island. I also read in the morning while we are all waking up. I usually dedicate our very early morning reading to a saint story. I also grab lunchtime as read aloud. We have been using this time to read through American History books from the MP 3rd and 4th grade list. We pass the book around the table. I am also inspired by Jessica's reading of Shakespeare. Our kids have listened to Jim Weiss read Tales from Shakespeare and they absolutely love it. We have some great conversations about Puck in A Midsummer's Night's Dream. What fun to have a 7 and 9 year old who like to discuss Shakespeare (on their level of course.)

      We are also reading our MP literature each day. I would love to work in more reading time. When, I'm not sure. So many books....so little time!!!

      Happy Reading,

      Melisa
      Melisa

      Homeschooling mom for 11 years

      dd - 11th grade using MP
      ds - 9th grade using MP and Kolbe Academy

      Comment


        #4
        Our Morning Time Journey

        How lovely! A conversation with the Melis(s)as!

        Melissa,
        It sounds like you are accomplishing your goal quite well of immersing your children in great literature! Every family is going to have a different rhythm to getting books read aloud, but this is how our Morning Time has grown. Our first two years of homeschooling we used Sonlight and school was almost exclusively me reading books aloud. That started to fall apart as more babies came along and it got really loud. Three years ago we switched to MP and completely fell in love with the curriculum. That year we were using 1st and 3rd and had a toddler following along. I had a baby that year and he had some health challenges out of the gate. We read aloud at night and here and there, but reading aloud fell far down the priority list and almost out of the rotation. The two students I had could do much work on their own and I let them. We got through that year but I had the feeling that some sort of "family round up" time needed to be part of our day each and every day. I wanted them hearing many stories, music, poetry, Bible daily, etc. With the larger age spread I also craved a time that all kids would be together with me. I needed some sort of anchor for each day. So after poking around on blogs and education sites, I stumbled upon the writing of Cindy Rollins via Circe Institute and found the missing link. Mrs. Rollins called it Morning Time, so we did too! Here is her blog with many details you can read up on: http://morningtimemoms.blogspot.com
        If you'll find the ones titled "31 days to Morning Time" those were the ones that really cheered me on as I laid down some traditions starting last year.

        Here's how the rubber meets the road in my house with Morning Time. I have three students using MP: 5th, 3rd, and K. I also have a toddler. In Morning Time (MT), we pray then I read aloud a short Bible selection. Right now we are reading through the book of Matthew--randomly chosen by me. Last year it took the whole year but we read Luke and Acts. I read a paragraph or two a day. I play a hymn or two on Spotify. We are working on our second one this year. Our church doesn't sing hymns often so this is important for learning those good, ancient words and truths. I then start through the stack: Weekly picture book from the K Enrichment line gets read twice a week or so. I always read it on Monday. Then I read a chapter (or whatever is assigned) from the 3rd grade read-aloud in the lesson plan. Then I read a chapter or two from a book on the 5th grade read aloud list. Then, if they are behaving decently, I read a scene or two from Shakespeare. Here's what that looked like this week: passages from Matthew 12 and 13, K-Pumpkin Moonshine (Tudor), 3rd-Norse Myths (D'Aulaires), 5th-Prince and Pauper (Twain), & Shakespeare's "As You Like It." Some mornings I also grab a poetry book and read a few. You might be surprised to hear that we don't do any of the MP recitation/lit/etc during MT. I tried that last year but it simply made the time too scattered and way too long. Now, I try to have them recite some poems on Thursday mornings (a hint I took from the K-2 lesson plans), but only on that day. Recitations are done individually and only a time or two a week. My students do a lot of their MP work independently. They will often work before breakfast or before I can get done with breakfast and ready for them. After MT, I look over their completed/in progress work, then discuss things and bounce between them for courses that need more involvement from me.

        Some days it's beautiful. Some days it's really loud and really hard. I've just decided that this is the place where we can be all together, enjoying the fruit of the other learning we've been doing individually by coming together and enjoying soul-filling books together. Everyone hears books at, above, and below their level. There aren't long discussions happening here. It's just listening to beautiful, emotive words. The kids play quietly, draw, or color while I read. If they are too rowdy, I hold MT hostage until after lunch and all the other work is done. That's a great motivator! Ha!

        One beautiful thing I am seeing come from MT is the collective heritage we are developing as a family through stories. I love asking them, "What does this remind you of?" when we stumble upon similarities. Last year we were reading two different stories one week who had males adrift in storms at sea: Black Stallion & The Wanderings of Odysseus. The reason it caught my attention was that I was reading (for the first time) Count of Monte Cristo and he too was adrift at sea! You simply can't plan that, it just happens.

        This is a bit sprawling, but hopefully it gives you a better taste of how things go here. No matter how the rest of the day goes, I feel like I've done a decent job educationally at day's end if we've had this time together. And, I can't tell you how much it blesses me. I adore this time together--even when it's loud and I'm hoarse and I'm not sure anyone is listening. I've learned they are and I see it making a difference.

        Melisa, I love the sound of your days. They speak of much peace. I can't imagine how much different things must be for two students so close in age! It's a great reminder of how each one of our families are unique and how it falls to each one of us to craft our days to best bless the crew before us. I agree, there are so many good books! We'll just read as many as we can, listen to as many as we can, and keep on!

        Lastly, here is an inspiring podcast from Cindy Rollins on this topic: http://www.circeinstitute.org/audio
        Scroll down one or two to her talk, "The Long Haul: On Morning Time." In it, she reflects on decades of educating her children and they things that have really, truly lasted. She is real and she carries great wisdom borne of long years of walking the walk. She talks Shakespeare, Plutarch, poetry, hymns, and more.

        Conversations like this encourage me so. What an honor to be walking with you wonderful parents on this journey!
        Last edited by pickandgrin; 10-26-2014, 11:23 PM.
        Festina lentē,
        Jessica P

        '22-'23 • 13th year HSing • 11th year MP
        DS Hillsdale College freshman
        DD 11th • HLN & Latin online
        DD 8th • HLN & Home
        DS 5th • HLN & Home
        Me • Memoria College, MPOA Fourth Form for Adults

        Teaching Third Form Latin and co-directing @
        Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School, est. 2016

        Comment


          #5
          P&G,
          Thank you for sharing such detail about your morning time! I just listened to Cindy's talk on Saturday, because your post on Shakespeare inspired me too! I too have been focusing on just getting the hang of doing so many cores that we have been letting the read aloud portion slide. I was feelingthe need to figure out how to get that back into.the schedule again. Thank you for your routine...it is helpful to see what you choose with so many, and how much you do. I may stick it in as "evening time" but we are going to figure it out!

          AMDG,
          Sarah
          2020-2021
          16th Year HSing; 10th Year with MP
          DD, 19, Homeschool grad; college sophomore
          DS, 17
          DD, 15
          DD, 13
          DD, 11
          DD, 9
          DD, 7
          +DS+
          DS, 2

          Comment


            #6
            morning time

            Thank you! I have always wondered about reading multiple books at a time, afraid that my kids might confuse the storylines. After reading your posts, I think I should revisit this. I love the idea of having the kids each take turns reading, as you do, Melisa, and of reading different things that allow my kids all to hear stories above, below, and at their reading levels, as Jessica described. I appreciate you taking the time to tell me how you schedule things out, as that really helps me to practically tackle this in our home. Right now I am reading Magician's Nephew at night, each kiddo has their corresponding lit book that we do individually, and I am trying to fit in the 2nd grade enrichment books. We also participate in Classical Conversations, which has US history as their focus this year, so I have printed out the 3rd grade US history book list from MP, but as yet I have done nothing with it. We are about 10 weeks into school this year, so it is time for me to revise the schedule (my current one works pretty well but I need to make changes to reflect what we actually do each day.) I am going to try to put reading into our new morning routine. I plan to listen to the Cindy Rollin's talk soon, so that should help, and by the way, I love the quote from Cheryl Lowe. I requoted it to someone today who was feeling discouraged that they weren't accomplishing enough.

            Isn't it fun that we all met in July? Now when I see your posts, I see your faces too.

            Melissa
            Cincinnati, OH
            DS-10, DD-9, DS-7

            Comment


              #7
              Jessica,
              Just curious, do you watch the play first?
              Courtney
              Mom to 5 boys-14,13,10,8,5 and the girls- 3 and 1

              Comment


                #8
                Courtney,
                We are only on our second play now but here's what we did last time:

                1) Read the retelling from Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare (free for Kindle here: http://www.amazon.com/Tales-Shakespeare-Mary-Lamb-ebook/dp/B0082Z1QQM/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1415154931&sr=1-1&keywords=lamb+tales+from+shakespeare) or I've got this cheap copy: (http://www.amazon.com/Tales-Shakespeare-Wordsworth-Childrens-Classics/dp/1853261408/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1415154926&sr=1-3&keywords=lamb+tales+from+shakespeare)
                We read As You Like It last spring, then again this fall. So they'd heard it twice.

                2) We spent a day discussing the characters in the real play, then started reading it scene by scene.

                3) I took the kids to see it performed at a local Shakespeare in the Park. We were only a few days into the real play and they were still able to follow along with the story ok. They used a modern setting (Hooverville and Old Time music) which was a little confusing, but we rolled with it.

                4) I finished the play scene by scene in Morning Time. They had actors in their minds to identify the speeches with which I think really helped.

                We started The Comedy of Errors last week, reading Lamb's and now we are into the real thing. I've reserved a DVD of the play from the library, but will have to watch it first to see if it's OK for the kids. Cindy Rollins had suggested (from her experience) watching the play at some point while you're reading rather than doing it completely before or waiting until you're completely finished.

                If you give it a try I'd love to hear what works for you. With all those boys I'm sure they'll find some great scenes to act out!
                Festina lentē,
                Jessica P

                '22-'23 • 13th year HSing • 11th year MP
                DS Hillsdale College freshman
                DD 11th • HLN & Latin online
                DD 8th • HLN & Home
                DS 5th • HLN & Home
                Me • Memoria College, MPOA Fourth Form for Adults

                Teaching Third Form Latin and co-directing @
                Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School, est. 2016

                Comment


                  #9
                  Thanks. I was planning on starting with Lamb's then reading the actual play, then a movie. I've read that having the characters visible while helps, whether they are stick figures on a paper or Lego figurines. I will try that.
                  Courtney
                  Mom to 5 boys-14,13,10,8,5 and the girls- 3 and 1

                  Comment


                    #10
                    We are reading our first real Shakespeare play this year. We've read a few with Lambs' book as well but this year I added How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare by Ken Ludwig. The first four or so passages for memorization come from A Midsummer Night's Dream, so I decided that would be our first play. We are all enjoying it (three boys - 13, 11, and 8; the almost four year old girl just wanders in and out of the room ) but what the boys love the most is hearing the passages they have memorized in context of the play. The next set of passages come from The Twelfth Night, so that will be our next read aloud, first from the Lambs' book and then from the Bard himself. It has been a wonderful addition to our read aloud time.

                    (By the way, I read directly to the boys from Ludwig's book, editing only as needed in terms of things like "tell your children ... ". It gives us much insight and releases me from the need to internalize and paraphrase what he says in his book.)
                    Brit - Catholic homeschooling mom to 5 - 3 big boys ('01, '03, and '06), daughter ('10 - Down syndrome), and one more boy ('15 - always wound up, and non-stop movement and noise)

                    Comment


                      #11
                      I love the idea of working on passages for memorization, slowly over time, and then having the joy of them pop up during reading time! I've ordered the book you mentioned. Once I get a chance to read through it I may have some questions for you about how you worked through it. Thank you for sharing!
                      Festina lentē,
                      Jessica P

                      '22-'23 • 13th year HSing • 11th year MP
                      DS Hillsdale College freshman
                      DD 11th • HLN & Latin online
                      DD 8th • HLN & Home
                      DS 5th • HLN & Home
                      Me • Memoria College, MPOA Fourth Form for Adults

                      Teaching Third Form Latin and co-directing @
                      Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School, est. 2016

                      Comment

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