All Girls School

Guitar Recital
October 6, 2008, 3:34 pm
Filed under: Bubba, guitar, music

Bubba had her first guitar recital on Saturday. On Friday she was really really nervous. Stomach ache nervous. We talked a lot about how everyone there watching was there to support her and not to point out any mistakes. She was still really concerned about missing a note. When she woke up on Saturday, though, her outlook had changed and she wasn’t as concerned any more, just excited. She worked really hard on her piece, too. She knew about the recital for about three weeks. At first it took her almost ten minutes to play the song. We instituted a new policy where, during her daily practice, she had to play her recital song three times before practicing anything else. By the second week she had it memorized and could play it in one minute. In fact, when she got up on stage she sat down, placed her music on the stand and the teacher came to help her plug in to the amp. Then she began playing and never once looked at her music. She just watched her fingers. It was so fun to watch her up on the stage, although I wish she had been given one more song to play so that I could have watched her perform longer.

Leaving for the show.

Feeling a bit of nerves and setting up.


Concentrating… but not on the sheet music.


With some of her adoring fans.


Current Activities
September 4, 2008, 10:18 pm
Filed under: art, baby, Bubba, curriculum, guitar, history, math, music, phonics, preschool, reading, schedule, science, sewing, spelling, writing

Spelling – a list without a pretest. Bubba was struggling with the pretests last year as she’s such a perfectionist and there’s really no point in testing her on things that she hasn’t been taught yet. I almost feel like we should let our spelling instruction come naturally through our writing tasks. When I thought about that more, though, I really want the writing tasks to focus on content and structure and I don’t want to point out every misspelled word and distract from the actual writing. So, structured spelling lists it is. There are supplementing pages that are actually kind of fun and a little bit challenging, so she doesn’t HATE spelling this year. (four days per week)

Phonics – I detest this subject as I think it is super super boring. So does she. I think we’re going to nix phonics or at least skip to the few items in the book that would be instructional and useful to her. I’m going to have to look through our book a little more to weed out the busy work. (once per week, but maybe not at all.)

Science – We’re doing a unit on the human body with lots of activities thrown in. She’s also doing quite a bit of writing by logging our daily tasks and making little booklets and stuff. We’ve checked out a bunch of human body books from the library and she has been reading them with and to her little sisters and taking them in the car when we go pick up Mimi from school. The other day she was reading about the heart and we ended up having a great conversation about the relationship between the size of an animal and how quickly its heart beats. We’re planning on a trip down to the Science Museum to see the human body exhibit before it leaves next month. (twice a week)

Math – Right now we’re doing mostly review of addition and subtraction of multiple numbers. I’ve found lots of fun activities that incorporate these. I’m going to work with her on a sewing project to work on our measuring skills (and estimating skills, as I am a laaaaazy sewer). We’ve also done some cooking and we practice our fractions. I expect that the cooking will increase as the holiday season gets nearer and we’ll do a lot of practical math like doubling recipes and figuring out the metric system and equivalencies. She really wants to move on in math and get to multiplication and stuff, but I am feeling that we should ease back into the subject. (three times per week)

History – We tried to do an entire year of history over the summer, but burned out on it. We got about a third of the way through it before we shelved it until the school year. We are still in ancient history, but Bubba loves it. She really gets into most of the stories and we have some fun discussions after reading them. It is always amazing to me the details and names she remembers after reading. There are some that I have to go back and look up that she rattles off really quickly. This is one of our favorite subjects as we always learn something new and there is always some sort of fun project to go with it and reinforce the lesson. (twice a week)

Writing – Most of our writing is done within our other subjects as Bubba balks at having to sit down and write just for the sake of writing. One day per week we do do some sort of writing task. Lately we have been working on different brainstorming techniques. At first she was lazy and bored with it until she ended up coming up with a really fun and creative story based on some of her brainstorming. Every Friday is poetry day and we do something different. Last week we had a book from the library about rocks (her current passion) and it was a long poem about different types. We read it and then she chose her favorite type of rock from the poem and copied out that page in her best writing. We have a book of Roald Dahl poems for tomorrow that I’m very excited about.

Reading – Every day I read a chapter of The Wizard of Oz outloud to her. When we’re finished with the book we’re going to watch the movie and compare and contrast it to the book. I think we’ll do it orally or I’ll have her write down the main points and present it to Dad or something. I’ve been thinking about all of the different books we could read and then watch the movie to compare and the options are huge. I think it will give her a better idea of how much better the books typically are, too, and promote more reading. She also reads for half an hour to herself or to her sisters outloud.

Music – She practices her guitar every day except for lesson days. She was given two new songs to practice at her last lesson. We were also informed of her first recital coming up in October. I can’t wait to watch her play in front of everyone.

Art – At the beginning of every week we start a new art project. She then has the entire week to work on it and refine it in order to have a very thoughtfully and thoroughly finished piece. The first few projects in each unit are more technical, exploring each element (line, texture, etc.). Then there are a few really creative projects that incorporate the techniques previously studied.

(On a side note, Baby started preschool today, but I haven’t had time to get the photos off of the camera yet. I’ll write about it when I have them on the computer. Suffice it to say that she had a blast and it sounds like the day went really well.)

Summer Sleepover
May 30, 2008, 7:40 am
Filed under: Bubba, just for fun, music, party, summer

Tonight is our second annual summer kickoff slumber party. We’re inviting different girls than last year. There are big plans for s’mores, t-shirt painting, nail polishing and decorating, popcorn popping and movie watching. I’m sure there will be lots of playing and giggling and singing and all other kinds of slumber party shenanigans going on well into the evening. In the morning there will be muffins and exhausted girls. Thankfully, this group of girls is certified Drama Free, so there will be no worries about yucky attitudes and hurtful words or actions. Bubba is so excited for them to get here. Countdown ten hours… and counting. I’ll try to get some photos of the anarchy party to post here this weekend.

Welcome, Summer!

Strike Up The Band
February 26, 2008, 5:57 pm
Filed under: music

I don’t think I wrote about the demise of Bubba’s guitar lessons. It wasn’t a demise so much as an abrupt halt. Her teacher just stopped showing up for the lessons and wouldn’t answer my calls or return my messages. I think he became daunted at the prospect of how long it was going to take to teach her to really play well and he didn’t have the social skills to stand up and tell me that he was finished. I think he was also over scheduled and we were the lowest on his priority list. It was sad when he stopped. We had liked him a lot, especially Bubba. She was pretty devastated at first. I wanted to call him and tear into him for hurting her like that. I didn’t, though. He was a young college kid that probably wasn’t thinking past the freed up evening that had now entered his schedule. I still toy with the idea of calling him and leaving him a message telling him how much she liked him and how hurt she was when he ditched us without so much as a goodbye. The saddest part was that he had promised her a special reward if she had these four chords down pat by the next lesson. She practiced so hard that week, just to have him not show up.

Anyway, we’ve moved on. I didn’t pursue anything new at first because I wanted Bubba to have time to get over it so she wouldn’t associate any new teacher with her hurt feelings from the first. But recently we have been looking for a new teacher and it looks like we may have found one. The great thing is that it is a woman that Bubba is already somewhat familiar with and she is a very level-headed and stand-up lady. Plus she’s great with kids and really into music. So, we’re crossing our fingers that this goes well.

Guitar Lesson 2
September 14, 2007, 7:14 am
Filed under: Bubba, guitar, music

Bubba’s guitar teacher is a young man from the local college. We go to the arts building and they are able to have the lesson in one of the music practice rooms. I think that after the first lesson he felt overwhelmed with teaching such a young student with no previous experience. He showed her the first chord and wrote it down for me so that I could help her with it, but I think he felt that she was not big enough for her instrument and that these lessons weren’t going to really go anywhere. (These assumptions on my part came from little bits and pieces of things he said in my presence and things Bubba told me that he said during the lesson. He did not come straight out and say anything to either of us to this effect, and I think Bubba has no idea of any of it.)

So, we practiced that one chord all week until she had it down pat. We went to the lesson and when they finished and exited the practice room, the look on his face said it all. He was amazed that she had learned to play the chord as well as she had and that we had practiced as much as we had. I think he realized that we were serious about this and are willing to put in the necessary work. He looked excited for the next lesson. We don’t have a new chord to learn, but some technique items to practice. These are things like keeping her fingers curved instead of flattening them, holding theĀ  strings down tighter, etc.

I’m really excited for her to get to the point where she can play a couple of chords and make, what sounds to her like, music. I think that being able to make actual music will be the biggest motivator for her to keep practicing.

And so completes the first week
September 7, 2007, 12:45 pm
Filed under: art, girlies, guitar, music, reading

We finished up this afternoon. Our week was filled with math worksheets, painting, writing and reading, reading, reading. She has amazed me (and herself) with her reading ability. I have chosen articles from her new Highlights and had her read them out loud to me while I’m cleaning up lunch. She was daunted at first and very hesitant to read it. After I insisted that she was perfectly capable, she read it almost perfectly, pausing to spell a few words to me that she was unsure of. Bubba was quite proud of herself when she finished. We’re about halfway through Ramona the Pest and she’s enjoying it quite a bit. It’s fun for me to read it, too. I haven’t read it for probably 15 years at least. I remember feeling great empathy for Ramona and a lot of respect for the few grown ups in her life that really understood children and their needs. Now I find that I have much more compassion for the adults and am frequently frustrated by Ramona’s actions. Guess I went and grew up myself, huh?

We did a Jackson Pollock inspired painting for our art lesson. It was a good one to start with because there was no structure to it and no frustration with doing anything “wrong”. Something I’ve found is that Bubba is quite the perfectionist and when she gets something wrong, she smacks herself in the head and seems to get really down on herself. This bothers me quite a bit. We have never put any academic pressure on her, nor do we expect perfection from our children. I don’t know where this came from. Her kindergarten teacher mentioned this to me at the end of last year, but I’ve never seen it with my own eyes before. We’ve done a lot of talking about how we all make mistakes and that the whole point of schooling is to learn.

We had her first guitar lesson and it went pretty well. Her teacher had forgotten, so when he was ten minutes late I called him and he was there within 3 minutes. He took the time to show us how to tune the guitar and then he and Bubba had their lesson. She left with one chord to learn. We’ve practiced it a bit, but it’s going to take a while before the finger positions feel natural to her. I’ve been trying it, too, and it’s not nearly as easy as it looks when other people play.

She has been doing some journal writing, too. We plan on writing about twice a week, more if she feels so moved. Her first entry was on a topic of her choice. Today’s was an answer to the question of where she would go if she could see just one place in Washington D.C. She answered the Smithsonian, but really meant was the National Archives Building to see the Declaration of Independence. (Ever since seeing National Treasure, she’s been hooked. We’re eagerly awaiting the second one this winter.)