Sunday, February 28, 2010

more music: classics for kids!

I found a great site last week that goes along with the composer study/music history theme, but this one is geared toward younger ears.  Classics for Kids is a website dedicated to introducing children to classical music.  I love the way it is arranged!  You can easily listen by composer, by period, or just chronologically work your way through the list.  There's even a handy dandy timeline if you're into that sort of thing (we are).

There's much more to explore there, too, with printable activities, online games, and info on all the orchestral instruments.  You can even learn about musical careers or consult the musical dictionary, and it's all in a kid-friendly environment.

Aside from their own collection, Classics for Kids has a link to, a web radio environment where you can search content and play your selections.  At Naxos, you can listen to 20% of any piece without paying for the subscription, however, an annual subscription is a bargain at $9.95 for FM quality or $19.95 for CD quality.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Music Appreciation

I've been aware of Harmony Fine Arts for a while, but I really took a good look at it last week.  If you're looking for a chronological survey of art and Western music, this is a great place to start, especially for the upper grades. 

There are 3 levels of instruction, based on the classical trivium.  Grammar stage for grades 1-4, Logic for grades 5-8, and Rhetoric for high school.  Within each stage is a full year program for each grade level.  The lesson plan for each grade level includes a weekly schedule, resource list, and supplies needed.  Within each lesson, there are 3 levels of depth with which to study, from picture study to a full-on art course (using Artistic Pursuits).  Click here to see a sample page for each grade level.

The best thing I discovered this week is that the high school level music appreciation courses are FREE!  The 4-year course is broken down into 36 weeks for each grade (9-12), and surveys major composers from Palestrina (renaissance) to Bernstein.  The schedule includes a listening schedule, reading assignments, and writing assignments for each section, and would probably lend itself to at least 1/2 credit in music history or music appreciation per year.  Click here to download the PDF files for the courses.

The 12th grade Art Appreciation course is also a free PDF download, but grades 9-11 must be purchased.  They are $9.95 for the print version or $8.95 for the e-book.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Great Backyard Bird Count starts today!

It's my favorite part of winter... time for the Great Backyard Bird Count!

We did this for the first time two years ago.  We'd spent the previous five years living overseas in very urban locations, and the kids knew next to nothing about nature.  We had recently moved to a place with lots of birds... a completely new experience!  When we heard about the Backyard Bird Count it sounded like a great way to get to know our backyard neighbors, so we got out our binoculars and started taking notes.

My younger daughter was 6 at the time, and soon she could identify those little creatures better than any of us.  We had heated discussions about whether a certain bird was a song sparrow or a house sparrow... when we got out the guide books and compared notes, by gosh, she was right!  It was so much fun for her - she loved showing off her new identification skills, drawing pictures of new birds, and taking pictures of our crowded feeders.  An interest in nature photography was sparked in a 6 year old!

So, the Great Backyard Bird Count has a special place in our hearts.  It takes as little as 15 minutes per day over 4 days.  You can mail in your results or enter them online (that's the job of my older daughter!) and see what kinds of birds your neighbors are counting. 

The GBBC website has tons of fun activities for kids to get to know the birds they're counting, from puzzles to quizzes to guides.  There are even directions on how to make your own homemade feeders to attract more birds.

Here are the directions from the GBBC site:

How to do the Great Backyard Bird Count

It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3!

tallboy.jpg1. Plan to count birds for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count. You can count each day or just some of the days and you can count in different places. Just be sure to keep a separate list of birds for each day and each location.
2. For each type of bird you see, count the most you see at any one time. For example, maybe you see two chickadees when you start watching, then five chickadees a few minutes later. The number you put on your list for chickadees is five. Do not add two plus five. (This way way you don't accidentally count the same bird twice.)
3. Enter your results on the Great Backyard Bird Count website .  Then watch the maps as more and more people enter their reports.
That's it! Now get ready to participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count because when it comes to watching birds, kids count!