Exploring Folk Music

This week Wyatt is learning about the Great Smoky Mountains, and I thought it would be a great time to add in some music! He is a huge music lover of all kinds, and while we almost always have music of some sort playing in the house, I have never purposely included it in our plans – mostly because I am not well versed on music, at all. But I thought this was a good basic intro for him!

I found these folk instrument flash cards online and used them not really as flashcards to quiz him but as a way to talk about the different instruments used in folk music. Then I collected any instruments that we had around our house that were listed and set them out for him to play with. I usually have his small instruments out for him in a basket, but the guitar and ukulele are usually put away and for occasions with supervision. The guitar was his grandfather’s and is special to me for that reason. I want him to to use but treat it with respect which is sometimes hard for five year olds who are learning still.

We talked about all the instruments, the types that they are, played around with them, and then listened to music on YouTube. I specifically searched for fiddle music, banjo music, etc so that we could hear what each sounded like, and also threw some in just for fun.

We watched a few Lindsey Stirling videos because I personally love her style. I was surprised that they were not Wyatt’s favorites, because they are so lively and upbeat but I think she was his least favorite! He really loved the harmonica pieces we listened to and Abby the Spoon Lady.

Afterward we constructed a cereal box banjo/guitar but we are still working on the neck – I will update with photo later! I turned it inside out, taped it all back together and had Wyatt decorate it before adding the rubber band strings. His grandfather was an artist and was so talented with calligraphy and design – Wyatt decorating his little art project while we listened to country music just really made me feel like his grandfather was with us for a bit.

So it was a very basic intro but a good one! I am going to look into music for homeschooling as this kid seems to have music in his very soul!

Homeschool, Summer Edition: Birds and Fireflies

We have been focusing on life with wings the past two weeks, and have learned about birds and fireflies! Fireflies just feel so summer to me. I wait for them to start blinking their lights every year and when they finally do, I feel like ok, now it is summertime for real. We are doing a little less structured school for the summer, but still learning and creating and keeping up with skills so we avoid that summer slide – which is a real thing and with this year being so abbreviated at school, I felt like I would just keep going.

Last week was bird week! We talked about different nests and eggs, worked on number identification, patterns, letters, and also more nature study type things, like bird identification and listening to different bird songs and calls. Wyatt’s favorites are chickadees and woodpeckers – mine will always be owls of all sorts (in fact we are spending a whole week on owls this fall..) We also measured our “wingspans” and learned that Wyatt’s wingspan is similar to that of a barn owl while mine is close to an osprey.

Art is always a fun part of our week and for bird week we painted with feathers, made a feather branch out of construction paper and a branch (fine motor skills and cutting practice!), and made a bird kite that was more fun to make than fly. Wyatt’s painting though – I don’t think he intended to paint a bird but do you see it? I think I am going to frame it!

Then this week we learned about fireflies, or lightning bugs depending on who you are. Again it was a more unstructured, more nature study versus school kind of week, perfect for summer. We did continue to review skills, and read books and listened to Leo the Lightning Bug on CD a million times. We made a cute little lightning bug and then fun glow in the dark firefly jars. We ended the week with an ice cream dinner then watching for fireflies in the yard. It was a good very summertime feeling week.

Resource Round-Up:

HomeEd Printables Birds

N is for Nest Teaching Mama

Honeycomb Cabin Birds

Fireflies by Stephanie Hathaway

Firefly Activities – Teach With Me

Books and Extras:

(Contains affiliate links for Amazon and Usborne Books)

Montessori Bird Puzzle

Sibley Backyard Bird Matching Game

Fireflies by Julie Brinckloe || Firefly July || Leo the Lightning Bug by Eric Drachman || My Book of Life Cycles || Birdhouse

And that is it for our homeschool the last two weeks! Next week we are doing a very fun unit on the Great Smoky Mountains; pre-COVID we had a vacation planned to the Smoky Mountains and Dollywood which is now on hold until next year, unfortunately. So we will be visiting and learning about the the area virtually! It is a more play based week with an emphasis on art and music and geography and history – I am excited to see how it all goes for us!