{ Free } Christmas Printable for Your Teen’s Stocking

I wanted another little something to put in my kiddos stockings this year. Then I remembered the fun coupon book I had made for my parents when I was a teen and my creative juices got flowing.

teencoupons2I opened my digital scrapbooking folder and was quickly underway. It only took a few minutes to put these together once I had a workable template.

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To download a PDF copy of each page for yourself, simply click on the image. It should open a new window whereby you can download and print. teencoupons1

Please leave a little note of gratitude in the comments. :)

The History of Classical Music {includes 4 FREE Printables}

One of the first curricula I purchased when we began our homeschool journey was Themes To Remember. It is designed to help anyone (particularly children) to recognize 40 classical music themes, to know the name of the composer of each theme, and to be knowledgeable about and love classical music.

These past two weeks I have been donning a new hat as I substitute for an elementary music teacher. I will see each class four times and thus this book is perfect – one lesson each for the Baroque, Classical, Romantic, & Modern periods of music. All of the classes – kinder to fifth have really enjoyed it!! 

The History of Classical Music @EvaVarga.net

“Don’t only practice your art,
but force your way into its secrets,
for it and knowledge can
raise men to the divine.”
~ Ludwig van Beethoven

Over the weekend I was inspired to create a foldable for each of the musical eras we have covered: Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Modern. I am delighted to now share these FREEBIES with YOU!! Read on to get the download links.

I have also created an outline to summarize some of the material I covered in each lesson.  I only had time to cover three-four composers from each era, Themes To Remember covers much more. I highly recommend the book if you desire to integrate classical music into your curriculum.

The History of Classical Music: The Baroque Era @EvaVarga.netThe Baroque Era

1600-1750 – Composers wrote predominantly for church and royal family

The music was very ornate with lots of trills and grace notes.

Antonio Vivaldi

  1. Born in 1678 in Italy
  2. Initially a priest and then teacher at all-girls orphanage
  3. Developed concerto form of music (composition for orchestra featuring a solo, often violin)
  4. Spring from The Four Seasons
  5. The Piano Guys – Winter from The Four Seasons + Let it Go from Frozen

Johann Sebastian Bach

  1. Born in 1685 in Germany
  2. 20 children, all accomplished musicians
  3. Organ was his predominant instrument and thus composed for church
  4. Toccata en Fugue in D minor (two segments)

George Frideric Handel

  1. Born in 1685 in Germany
  2. Initially studied to be lawyer before turning to music
  3. Traveled to Italy  to study  with Vivaldi where he learned opera style
  4. Traveled to England
    1. Queen Ann hired him to write Italian Operas, which she loved
    2. King George I employed him to write Water Music
    3. King George II employed him to write Royal Fireworks Music

Download the free Baroque Era printable.

~ ~ ~

The History of Classical Music: The Classical Era @EvaVarga.netThe Classical Era

1750-1820 – Composers wrote mostly for the rich upper classes, the aristocracy

The music stressed control of form and emotions

Franz Joseph Haydn

  1. Born in 1732 in Austria
  2. “Father of the Symphony”
  3. Poor as a child
  4. Symphony No 94 – movement 2

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

  1. Born in 1756 in Austria
  2. Greatest composer ever
  3. Symphony No. 40 – movement 1
  4. The Piano Guys – Michael Meets Mozart

Ludwig van Beethoven

  1. Born in 1770 in Germany
  2. Moody & hot tempered, made his own rules
  3. Deaf at 31
  4. Sonata 14 (Moonlight)
  5. The Piano Guys – Beethoven’s Five Secrets

Download the free Classical Era printable.

~ ~ ~

The History of Classical Music: The Romantic Era @EvaVarga.netThe Romantic Era

1820-1900 – Composers wrote for the rising middle class, much of the music was composed to accompany fairy tales

he music stressed the dignity and freedom of man, nature, the hero-warrior, and emotion

Gioachino Antonio Rossini

  1. Born in 1792 in Italy
  2. William Tell Overture

Frédéric François Chopin

  1. Born in 1810 in Poland
  2. Left Russian-occupied Poland at twenty, making France his home
  3. Used sounds of many Polish national dances in his music
  4. Grande valse brillante

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

  1. Born in 1840 in Russia
  2. His ballets especially captivating for children – Sleeping Beauty & Nutcracker Suite
  3. Swan Lake

Edvard Hagerup Grieg

  1. Born in 1843 in Norway
  2. Short in stature
  3. Like other composers of his time, proud of his country
  4. Peer Gynt Suite
    1. Solveig’s Song
    2. Hall of the Mountain King

The Piano Guys – One Direction: What Makes You Beautiful

Download the free Romantic Era printable.

~ ~ ~

The History of Classical Music: The Modern Era @EvaVarga.netThe Modern Era

1900-present – Composers began to experiment with new forms, harmonies, and rhythms more than ever before.

New styles of music were developed including jazz, electronic, pop, and reggae.

Claude-Achille Debussy

  1. Born in 1862 in France
  2. Said to have begun the Modern Period with his impressionist style
  3. Wrote much of his music for piano
  4. Created new chords and new scales – much to the irritation of his teachers
  5. Clair de lune (Moonlight) 

Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff

  1. Born in 1873 in Russia
  2. Left Russia with his wife and two daughters during the Russian Revolution of 1917, never to return
  3. Virtuoso pianist and specialized in the music of Chopin as well as his own
  4. Piano Concerto No. 2 Mvt 3

John Philip Sousa

  1. Born in 1854 in the United States
  2. America’s best remembered and favorite bandmaster
  3. Wrote more than 100 marches and is thus known as the “March King”
  4. Toured Europe four times with his concert band and there introduced Europeans to America’s ragtime music
  5. Upon return, on tour in the states, he introduced America to the music of Tchaikovsky, Rossini, and others
  6. Semper Fidelis
  7. The Stars and Stripes Forever

Download the free Modern Era printable.

~ ~ ~

I have had a fabulous time teaching this mini-unit. It is so fun to share with kids the joys of classical music. Several kiddos have come up to me at recess to share that they googled The Piano Guys when they got home. Others have given me high fives and hugs in the hallway. A mother (and teacher in the building) told me her child (in kinder) came home and exclaimed, “Did you know Vivaldi and Bach were composers?” So very cool.

Geography Activities: Geography Picture Dictionary {Free Printable}

I love to travel and explore new cultures, to learn new languages, and meet new people. Traveling offers us a unique opportunity to learn about the world around us. Field trips are therefore a major part of what we do and how we learn.

Whether we are traveling on holiday in another country or exploring historical and cultural treasures locally – I take advantage of every opportunity to expose my children to the world in which we live. In our homeschool, we dive deeply into history and immerse ourselves in other cultures via geography and language studies.

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This post contains affiliate links.

Geography Lessons Through Travel

Any type of travel is sure to include numerous opportunities for your kids to study the topics that make of the field of geography.

As your family travels and explores a new area you will most likely look at a map to help find your way to a historic landmark or to your hotel. You might decide to take a hike near a lake or through the mountains. You’ll likely also eat foods that are unique to the area.

All of these activities are included in the study of geography!!

The study of geography includes 3 major categories:

Geography Skills – including map reading, using tools like compasses and atlases, and understanding navigation and cartography.

Physical Geography – similar to earth science, this includes geology, meteorology, oceanography, ecology, and astronomy.

Human Geography – we can understand how people relate to their location and environment by learning about sociology, culture, religion, transportations, agriculture, and economics.

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DIY Geography Picture Dictionary

Years ago, I created a printable Geography Picture Dictionary for my children.  I knew it would be the perfect tool to document the physical geography we observed in South America. Therefore, in preparation for our voyage, I revised it – as the original boxes were really too small for quality illustrations.

While traveling through South America, we created a small illustration for each of the physical geography features we observed. Brochures we collected along the way also helped us. The process also provided us with a special keepsake.

If you are interested in learning more about how I utilized the printable in South America, take a peak at my Geology & Geography of the Galápagos.

Do your children enjoy sketching and doodling? Then a Geography Picture Dictionary is the perfect learning activity.

Download and print the free DIY  Geography Picture Dictionary here.

If you are looking for a high-quality and engaging geography curriculum for middle and high school ages, I encourage you to take a little time to learn more about the program we have been using this year – North Star Geography.  Created by Bright Ideas Press, it has helped my children delve deeper into the three main geography categories: Geography Skills, Physical Geography, and Human Geography.

It provides suggestions for course planning – whether you want to undertake the course in one semester, one year, or more long term. My family is learning more about geography than ever before and the materials make my job easier than I could have imagined!

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Linked up with The Massive Homeschool Geography Guide at iHomeschool Network.

Discovering China: Leshan and the Giant Buddha

discovering chinaZǎochenhǎo (早晨好) !  I’m delighted you are following along with us as we tour China, city by city.  We recently returned from a three-week family holiday in China. This is the sixth of ten posts whereby I introduce you to the culture of China through our eyes. Our focus today is the Buddhist influence in China and our visit to the Dàfó (Giant Buddha) in Leshan.

Leshan  乐山 

About 120 km (75 mi) from Chengdu, Leshan translates literally to Happy mountain. It is  located at the confluence of the Minjaing, Qingyijiang, and Dadu rivers, on the southwestern fringe of the Red Basin.   We took the bus from Chengdu to Leshan (about 2 hours).

Buddhism has flourished in China since ancient times and has played an enormous role in shaping the mindset of the Chinese people, affecting their aesthetics, politics, literature, philosophy and medicine.  Scholars classify Chinese Buddhism into 7-15 schools (most commonly 10).  Perhaps the greatest Buddhist influence occurred during the Tang Dynasty, evident in the many scripture-filled caves and structures surviving from this period.

Giant Buddha 大佛

The Leshan Giant Buddha (乐山大佛) was built during the Tang Dynasty (618–907AD). It is carved out of a cliff face that lies at the confluence of the Minjiang, Dadu and Qingyi rivers in the southern part of Sichuan province, near the city of Leshan. The stone sculpture faces Mount Emei, with the rivers flowing below his feet. It is the largest stone Buddha in the world and it is by far the tallest pre-modern statue in the world.

Leshan Giant BuddhaConstruction was started in 713, led by a Chinese monk named Haitong. He hoped that the Buddha would calm the turbulent waters that plagued the shipping vessels traveling down the river. When funding for the project was threatened, he is said to have gouged out his own eyes to show his piety and sincerity. Apparently the massive construction resulted in so much stone being removed from the cliff face and deposited into the river below that the currents were indeed altered by the statue, making the waters safe for passing ships.

The charm of the Buddha lies not only in its size but also in its architectural artistry. There are 1,021 buns in the Buddha’s coiled hair. These have been skillfully embedded in the head. The skill is so wonderful that the 1,021 buns seem integral to the whole. Another architectural highlight is the drainage system. Incorporated into the Leshan Giant Buddha when it was built, it is still in working order. It includes drainage pipes carved into various places on the body, to carry away the water after the rains so as to reduce weathering.

It’s possible to walk from top to bottom (and back up again) along a staircase carved in the wall overlooking the Buddha. A popular activity near the head is for people to have their photo taken “touching” the nose or sticking their finger in the ear of the buddha, supposedly for good luck. Behind the Buddha’s head, you can step into the cave that Haitong took shelter in while he oversaw the construction of the Buddha.

Giant Buddha LeshanThere was a moderately large crowd visiting on the day we visited; we walked down to the feet among them. Then we walked back up the other side – to the grumbling of the kiddos who were both tired of the stairs and getting hungry. There’s no food to be found in the park so we departed.

It took some time to hail a taxi, we were even getting a little worried, but one arrived soon enough and we returned to the bus station.  We enjoyed a delicious bowl of noodles at a small restaurant near the station before returning to Chengdu in the evening.

proverbs thumbI have created a couple of notebooking pages to correspond with today’s post.  The first is a list of Chinese Proverbs that you may find inspirational.  You may wish to have your children create small posters to illustrate a proverb or two. The second is a chart to compare / contrast the World’s Religions.  I first created this when my children and I were studying ancient times and though they were young at the time, we found it very interesting.

We are off to Shanghai tomorrow. Shanghai is a huge city – there is so much to see and do but I’ve condensed it into one post. You won’t want to miss it for I’ve created a fun activity sure to be a hit with young engineers.

Autumn-Hopscotch-2013This post is part of the iHomeschool Network’s Autumn Hopscotch, a 10 day series of posts by over 40 different homeschool bloggers. You can visit the hopscotch home page at iHN for ideas and inspiration in topics like Great Science Books and Early American History for Kids. There are literally hundreds of posts now compiled for you!

All 10 days of Discovering China will be linked to one landing page.  Bookmark it for reference!

Entomology Week #3 – Insect Survey for Kids (w/ Free Notebooking Page)

As a part of the Introductory Entomology course we are undertaking this month, we took advantage of the long weekend to do an insect survey in our backyard.  We headed out with a homemade transect device (four 1-meter length PVC tubes connected with L-joints to form a square) and a butterfly net.  We had high hopes that we would find a variety of insects as well as numerous different orders.  Be it due to time of day or season, this is not how it turned out.  Either way, we did make a discovery.

We had observed two very similar insects while undertaking our survey and it lead us to ask a number of questions.  Are they the same species?  Is one male and the other female?  What do they eat?  As we sketched and researched the answers to our questions, I was tickled to discover they were two distinct species … Milkweed (Lygaeus kalmii) and Western Boxelder (Boisea rubrolineata).  The majority of the bugs we observed were Milkweed bugs, I therefore share some of the facts we learned about them here.

Edited 26 Feb 2014 – I wonder now if some weren’t Bordered Plant (Largus succinctus).  I’ll have to take pictures and investigate this further.

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True Bugs

Milkweed and boxelder bugs are true bugs (order Hemiptera); beetles, moths, flies, and butterflies are not. Bugs have the usual complement of structures that they share with just about all other insects: six legs, three body parts (head, thorax, and abdomen), and two antennae. Hemiptera do not have mouths for biting and chewing food—they have a tubelike beak for sucking fluids. The milkweed and boxelder bugs suck nutrients from seeds.

Milkweed BugLife Cycle Changes .. Simple or Complete?

Hemiptera go through simple metamorphosis. The insect emerges from an egg looking like a tiny version of the adult, with slight differences in body proportions and incompletely developed wings. The immature bugs are called nymphs. As with all insects, in order to grow the nymphs must molt periodically. Just after molting the bug is creamy yellow with bright red legs and antennae. Within a few hours the body turns dark orange, and the legs and antennae resume their usual black color.

milkweed instar

Hemiptera go through five nymphal stages (instars) as they mature. Each molt produces a larger nymph that is more completely developed. As they grow, the dark wings appear on the backs of the bugs as black spots. Other black markings start to appear and eventually develop into the characteristic patterns of black and orange. The last molt reveals the adult.

Male or female?

Milkweed bugs continue to feed as adults, inserting their long beaks into seeds to suck out oils and other nutrients. Mating is easily observed, as the two mating bugs remain attached end to end for an extended time. It is possible to distinguish female and male adults by body markings. Look on the ventral (belly) side of the bugs. The tip of the abdomen is black, followed by a solid orange segment (with tiny black dots at the edges). If the next two segments following the orange band have solid black bands, the bug is a male. However, if the segment following the orange band is orange in the middle, making it look like it has two large black spots on the sides, followed by a segment with a solid black band, the bug is female. Males tend to be smaller than females.

insect order printableWhile our insect survey didn’t reveal the diversity we expected, we did enjoy the experience. We had selected four different sites – the grassy hillside behind our house, a rocky area, in the shade beneath the Oleaders, and in a drainage ditch.  We observed the greatest number and variety in the cooler areas.  The kids thereby made a hypothesis that they would see a greater number and variety in a cooler time of day or season.  We look forward to doing this activity again to test their theories.   I’ve created a free  insect order notebooking page for my valued readers.  Please feel free to pin it and share it with friends.

As the summer progresses, we look forward to doing additional insect surveys.  We have talked about also setting up a few pitfall traps and a Berlese funnel.  These collection devices, as shown in my Introductory Entomology Unit Study eBook, are bound to yield greater numbers of insects.