Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Lit Bit: Parables, Fables, Folktales Class Letter to Parents


I wanted to send the parents in this class a basic introduction to the upcoming Parables, Fables, and Folktales class.

This year, we will be discussing these 3 literary types. Each endeavors to teach a truth or communicate a value through an engaging story.

We will first discuss the parables of Christ. While these are stories told to teach a lesson, unlike fables and folktales, they are the direct communication of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to teach truths about the Kingdom of Heaven.
 I want to emphasize this unique aspect of these parables on this e-mail and at the start of the class.

We will then cover some of Aesop's Fables, which are lessons about life and human nature, and they are often taught using animal characters.

Finally, we will discuss various folktales/fairy tales from around the world. These stories are longer and more elaborate, and often contain magic or talking animals (think Cinderella and Puss-in-Boots and Rumpelstiltkin). They were also passed on through generations to teach lessons about life and human nature.

Each week the students will receive an assignment to read, we will discuss it in class. At the end of the first semester, they will write a parable of their own and at the end of the second semester, they will write a fable or folktale of their own. This Friday will simply be an introductory lesson.

Should be a fun year!

Literarily ;-)


Letter to Manners Class at Co op

Hi everyone! I am looking forward to Manners Class for the 4-6th graders this year. I wanted to pass on a few notes to the parents of the children who will be in my class.

Friday's class will be an introduction to manners and we will be answering the question...WHY should we even bother to learn manners!

As a parent, I am teaching this class because I know my own children need a basic primer and practice on simple, everyday manners -- meal times, greetings and introductions and conversations, church manners, class room manners, library manners, telephone and correspondence, etc.

Teaching these things at co op will help me be accountable to work on these things with my own kids at home.

Why Manners?

1. Manners communicate to people a basic, biblical truth that we were created as image-bearers of God. We are fallen and sinful, but we are still precious. In our culture, humans are lightly discarded: the elderly, the weak, the physically and mentally disabled, children, and the unborn are casually dismissed as insignificant or inconvenient. But as believers we know that humans have dignity and worth. Manners communicate to people that they are special -- they are God's creation, not to be dismissed or discarded.

2. Etiquette is a form of cultural communication. Manners vary from country to country, from region to region, from social group to social group, even from family to family.

As believers, we want to reach people with the gospel in the culture we are placed. But if we want to reach people, we need to learn to speak their language...and manners are part of a culture's language.

We are all "missionaries" in our own way -- even if we are missionaries to our own home town! The gospel never changes, it is an objective truth and reality. And the gospel is, by nature, offensive; it is a stumbling block for people. Given this, I believe people are more likely to listen to the message of a humble and gracious person than a rude one. In fact. I Corinthians 13 states something that Love is NOT. It is not rude.

3. Etiquette experts agree on the big things, but even the experts have points of disagreement on details. You may disagree with some of my approaches. And of course, within your own family you have and will establish certain standards -- create a certain culture -- that may differ from my approach.

That's fine!

Please feel free to use this class for your children as a jumping off point at home to discuss your own or others' approaches. This is an opportunity to teach children to show Grace to people (a bedrock principle of etiquette) who do things differently from the way they do. Love does not point out a wrong. Whether someone "goofs" or simply does things differently, a gracious person does not mock or gloat.

4. Practice at home will be part of this class. You can practice with just the enrolled child or with your whole family. The work will not be burdensome, but there will be something each week for the children to work on.

5. I will be using as my resource, *Amy Vanderbilt's Complete Book of Etiquette*. It is a very detailed tome for adults, and not one you should purchase for the class.

[Though I do personally think it is wise for every household have a standard etiquette book on hand to help navigate through various situations. These books contain excellent ideas for how to word kindly thank you and condolence letters, how to address various officials, how to set a table, what to expect at a variety of engagements from casual to formal, etc.]

Our lessons will focus on every day situations, not white-tie balls and such!

I will craft lessons for the children myself and send home sheets so you can know what to work on at home.

Looking forward to a great class!

Politely ;-)


Monday, May 30, 2011

Poems for Homes: "That memory may their deed redeem/When like our sires, our sons are gone"

Memorial Day reading list -- pieces written and sung long ago but fitting for today:

"Concord Hymn" (Emerson)

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set to-day a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those heroes dare
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.

"To Lucasta, Going to Wars" (Lovelace)

Tell me not (Sweet) I am unkind,
That from the nunnery
Of thy chaste breast and quiet mind
To war and arms I fly.

True, a new mistress now I chase,
The first foe in the field;
And with a stronger faith embrace
A sword, a horse, a shield.

Yet this inconstancy is such
As you too shall adore;
I could not love thee (Dear) so much,
Lov'd I not Honour more.

Nickel Creek's "The Hand Song" is a modern, moving story about a young soldier who learned to give it all at his mother's knee.

Thank you, dad and John John for your lives of service. "If war is ever lawful, then peace is sometimes sinful." (CS Lewis)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Poems for Homes: Lit Bit

Lit Bit Enrichment Class
Below is the syllabus from the enrichment class for 4-6th graders at our Fine Arts co op. Class goals: a "treeline" overview of literary genres and devices, demystify some terminology, and introduce children to great works.

Start with these descriptions:
Literary Device=Writing Tool (metaphor, alliteration, rhyme, etc)
Literary Genre=Writing Type (novel, play, poem, etc)

The class was meant to be a supplement only to the children’s language arts classes at home. It was comprised mostly of 10- and 11-year-old boys, and it took place Friday before lunch.
Hence we avoided writing exercises for the most part, and instead did some acting, reading aloud, drawing (hyperbole and onomatopoeia), a few games, fun worksheets, and had good discussions.

For example, we might discuss the definition of alliteration and then read a line or two (or three or 10) from a great work illustrating it.

This “treeline model” proved to be a great way to just introduce them to a few great works of literature in a way that was non-threatening and palatable to wiggly 5th grade boys. (And it was loads of fun for their teacher.)

At the end of the year the children presented memory work – 10-30 lines they chose to memorize from several selections offered.

How delightful is it to hear the first 13 lines of Chaucer’s "General Prologue" from The Canterbury Tales on the lips of a skinny, 11-year-old, tow-headed boy in sneakers and baggy shorts? “When April with her showers sweet with fruit/The drought of March has pierced unto the root…” Or to hear a tousle-headed, tee-shirted boy who loves Bionicles recite Antony’s speech from Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar. ”Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears. I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him…”

How delightful to hear a wee little slip of a girl with a brown ponytail boldly recite “The Charge of the Light Brigade.” “Half a league/ Half a league/ Half a league onward/All in the valley of Death rode the 600…”

Or to hear a freckled boy with round glasses whose mom is battling cancer recite Robert Frost. This child chose “The Road Less Traveled.” “I shall be telling this with a sigh/Somewhere ages and ages hence…”

Yes, my dear, and so shall I.

In many cases, Wordsworth’s line that “the child is father to the man” is very good news.

Syllabus: Lit Bit, 2010-2011 academic year

Each semester we covered various aspects of literary structure. We discussed each aspect, read and analyzed samples from great works of literature, and in some cases, wrote our own samples.

Fall Semester: (a sampling of) Literary Devices

Spring Semester: Literary Genres
This semester, in addition to studying the genres below, each child memorized a piece of literature from a great work. (They chose from a list comprised of pieces from Chaucer, Shakespeare, Donne, Byron, Tennyson, and Frost.)

What is The Western Canon?
Fiction vs Nonfiction VERSUS Truth vs Falsehood
Poetry: rhyme, meter,
Fairy/Folk Tale/Fable
Newspaper/magazine article