I recently mentioned a project we completed five or six years ago covering the Industrial Revolution through the Great Depression. Here’s the other project we completed that same semester, and it fascinated our oldest son so much that he became a little World War II expert over the span of just a couple of months. These two studies remain some of our favorite memories from our oldest child’s elementary school years…
While researching art and poetry for our Script-n-Scribe Americana copywork book, I came across the visually stunning artwork of American Impressionist painter Childe Hassam, who painted several patriotic pieces during World War I. I’ve been wanting to share this artist’s work paired with patriotic poetry for some time now. I mean… just look at this:
His impressionist technique paired with the contrasts between the flags’ colors and their surroundings are simply striking. Recently our family experienced a real-life look at Childe Hassam’s paintings during the “World War I and American Art” exhibit at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville. Wow! It compelled me to pull this art and poetry study together, just in time for our World War I studies this spring. Thus… we have a new cursive copywork download, free for subscribers of our email newsletter! Click here or on the button below to subscribe to our email newsletter, and you’ll receive this study in your first email from us.
For more World War I copywork, also be sure to check out our “In Flanders Fields” Copywork!
If you enjoy this copywork, be sure to check out our Script-n-Scribe Americana book, which easily integrates the beauty of art and poetry into a gentle introduction/review of basic English grammar concepts.
Just wanted to take a moment to share some progress charts we’re using for our children this year as a way to track and record the number of times they’ve practiced Classical Conversations Foundations memory work or Classical Conversations Essentials charts. These New-World-Explorers-themed charts include compasses with directional arrows that may be colored in each time they practice a week’s memory work or a particular Essentials chart.
This provides tracking for practicing each week’s memory work four times using the primary N-E-S-W arrows or up to eight times when including the secondary NE-SE-SW-NW arrows.
The Memory Work Tracking sheets include a sheet with numbers 1-12 and a sheet with numbers 13-24. Click here to download the Memory Work Tracking charts.
The Essentials Chart Tracking sheets include a sheet with letters A-Q for practicing all the charts over the year, or a blank chart you can fill in according to the charts you’d like your student to practice. For example, our third grader (a pre-Essentials student) is focusing primarily on charts A, C, and E this year….
Download the Essentials tracking charts here. When printing, be sure to select scale to fit. The charts print best if the file is downloaded to the computer first and then opened for printing.
Imagine this. You’re headed out the door 10 minutes late when suddenly you realize that you forgot to have your 7-year-old prepare a presentation (again!), so he grabs the first thing that comes to mind as you walk out the door, which happens to be…
I’d like to say this event occurred on an off-week, but the truth is, over the years, our family has thoroughly practiced the art of impromptu presentations. Our children have grabbed many a last-minute-show-and-tell item, made up ridiculous stories on the fly, and provided enthralling presentations about “what’s in my pencil box.” Still, this is one of my favorite aspects about our community day, and we aim every year to do a little bit better than last.
I’ve had these thoughts stored away for some time now and wanted to pull them out of the woodwork, especially as we head into a new school year. These are simply a few tools we’ve used to prepare and practice presentations in our family (when we haven’t been grabbing last minute items due to lack of preparation, that is).
The Hamburger Presentation Model
We were introduced to the Hamburger Model during 4-H speech preparation, and we’ve used it since then as a guideline for presentations and for writing paragraphs or essays. It provides a simple structure for talking about pretty much anything.
Just as a hamburger has three main parts, so does a speech, presentation, paragraph, or letter. These forms of communication can also be dressed-up with extras to make them more “flavorful.”
Included in this PDF is a written example, a Key-Word-Outline example, and a blank version in case you would like to use it as a tool to help your student(s) learn how to structure a presentation.
Presentations for young children
For our youngest children, presentations are primarily show-and-tell type presentations. However, even with non-readers, we have taught our children how to use key-word-outlines for their presentations by using pictures.
Normally these are hand-drawn by me, but this is a digital example of a presentation our third son did on “how to make pancakes” before he was able to read. Notice the hieroglyphic-style Key Word Outline. He would tell me what picture he wanted on the card to help him remember what he was supposed to say.
Okay, so now that we have a structure for our presentation, what on earth should we present? The best thing about presentations within our community is that it is open-ended. Our community does not have a formal presentation schedule. Students present on whatever interests them (including Big Mouth Billy Bass). Still, sometimes it helps to have some ideas to pull out of a hat. It also helps to aim for a variety of presentations. Although there exist multiple presentation types, I’ve narrowed it down to four basic categories below. (This is not an exhaustive list of ideas but just something to help with brainstorming. There also exists overlap between presentation types.)
Informative Presentation Ideas:
- Show and tell
- Mystery bag (Place an object in a paper sack and describe what’s in it until the audience guesses what it is.)
- What’s in my pencil box
- Family history
- A family tradition
- A family vacation
- A hobby
- A favorite memory
- A book review
- A movie review
- A toy or game review
- Retell a story (Aesop, Shakespeare, Mother Goose)
- History topic
- Science topic
- Timeline topic
- Biography (President, leader, artist, composer, historical, scientific, inventor, ancestor, hymn/song writer)
Demonstrative Presentation Ideas:
- How to build something
- How to bake something
- How to draw something
- How to play a boardgame
- How to play an organized sport
- How to diagram a sentence
- How to translate a Latin sentence
- How to solve a math problem
- How to use a math manipulative
- How to use an art medium
- How to play an instrument
- Science experiment & explanation
Entertaining Presentation Ideas:
- Retell a story (a personal story, Bible, Aesop, Shakespeare, Mother Goose, tall tale, legend, folklore, fable)
- Recite a famous speech
- Recite a poem
- Recite or sing a song
- Tell a joke
- Use vivid, figurative language to describe a scene
- Share a riddle, puzzle, or mystery
- Act out or recite a scene from a play
Persuasive Presentation Ideas:
- Make an advertisement (a real product, a historical product, or one you made up)
- Convince audience to do something (improve your health by not eating junk food, read this book, watch this movie, become a volunteer and change the world, join 4-H)
- Encourage audience to think a certain way about something (origins, current events, politics)
- Book, movie, or toy/game review
Now that we have some ideas, let’s take a look at…
Presentation Skills to Practice
While there are some skills that can be honed in practicing presentations, the most important thing is to provide consistent opportunities and encouragement as a child becomes comfortable presenting in front of a group. Speaking publicly is the single greatest fear of many, many people. (The irony of this is that presentations are a normal part of everyday life. Every time we tell someone about something, we’re presenting it. Isn’t it bizarre that we fear something so common?) Usually young children enjoy show-and-tell, but as they get older and show-and-tell becomes a thing of the past, the fears mount. By consistently providing a safe environment to present each week, students will overcome the fear, even when they go through the more awkward stages of development.
Young children are not usually ready to have a long list of skills they’re supposed to practice when presenting, and they’re certainly not ready for critique. But as children mature, they can focus on a skill to practice each week. These skills include…
- Preparation & organization (The Hamburger Model)
- Eye contact
- Speak slowly, loudly, and clearly (pacing, volume, and articulation)
- Appropriate gestures and facial expression
- Use props effectively (not a distraction)
- Control fidgeting and habitual body movements
- Add descriptive details (5-sense words, dress-ups, decorations)
- Attention grabber
- Strong final clincher or call to action
- Face audience (if using whiteboard)
- 3-second rule (pause 3 seconds)
- Inflection & vocal expression (alter pitch and volume to add suspense and excitement)
- Tempo/Pace (slow down speech and incorporate well-timed pauses)
- Poise (relax and smile; continue with presentation even if you make a mistake)
- Only speak when looking at audience. (Read card to self, look up at audience, and then speak.)
I’ve included a document below that has the ideas and skills listed above, along with a tentative schedule that we may use this year. But rather than follow a schedule, it may be better to allow students to literally pick a presentation idea and/or skill out of a hat (that is, unless they already have something they’d like to present).
That’s my personal brain dump for presentations. I hope it’s helpful! If you have questions or if you’d like to offer any other suggestions regarding presentations, I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
If I could give one piece of advice to parents of young children, it would be to enjoy exploring with them. Feel free to nurture a love of learning by pursuing some interest-led activities, regardless of what the critics may say. Six years ago, our oldest son (who is now 14) loved lapbooking and unit studies. He loved paper crafts and building things and history and timelines and maps. After laying a foundation of memory “pegs,” we would take off on learning adventures simply because of his insatiable appetite for “knowledging,” as he would call it. I started to doubt my decisions, thinking that maybe what we were doing wasn’t classical because it wasn’t just a stick and the sand. I wondered if it was just busywork – a waste of time when we could instead focus on learning more Latin vocabulary. But six years later, I can attest that these are some of our most cherished memories. It was not time wasted, but was time absorbed in the love of discovery and learning. Now as a teenager, Stephen has asked to return to these studies during his free time this summer to finish the two Time Travelers studies we never had the chance to tackle. And so… this month, we’ve been in the midst of a world of exploration, literally.
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So the adventure has been the Homeschool in the Woods New World Explorers Time Traveler Study, a hands-on history learning experience for exploring the world of… New World Explorers. It includes 25 lessons for learning about the age of exploration, including…
:: A timeline of the Age of Exploration, along with Explorer Profiles. The 24 explorers included in this study are: Brendan the Navigator, Leif Eriksson, Christopher Columbus, John Cabot, Amerigo Vespucci, Juan Ponce De Leon, Vasco Nunez De Balboa, Francisco Pizarro, Ferdinand Magellan, Giovanni Da Verrazano, Hernando Cortes, Jaques Cartier, Hernando De Soto, Francisco Vasquez De Coronado, Sir Francis Drake, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, Jean Ribaut, Sir Walter Raleigh, John Smith, Juan De Onate, Samuel De Champlain, Henry Hudson, Vitus Bering, and James Cook.
The story of each explorer (and the overall story of the Age of Exploration) is provided in the lesson text, but the study also includes a list of books for further research and exploration.
:: Map overlays for 11 of the 24 explorers. Map overlays provide a way to see the different exploratory routes taken by New World Explorers.
:: And multiple projects, activities, and games to spark a child’s (and adult’s) imagination.
What I love about these activity studies is that there’s something special for each of our children’s natural interests. While our oldest enjoys the timelines, maps, and papercrafting projects…. [Read more…]