Saturday, June 7, 2014

Can You Spare a Square?

Last year I struggled mightily to teach the third grade how to blow in to their recorders.  I described it, I demonstrated, I made them learn to chant, "You're blowing too hard!" when I asked, "If you're squeaking what's wrong?"

But most of them didn't get it.  My fault.  I was explaining and modeling mainly for auditory and visual learners.  My kinesthetic babies were left out in the cold.

Then I happened to see a little snippet of a video of Maria - the AbFab music teacher who demos things for Carnegie Hall's Link Up program - having her kids practice breathing with little tissue paper squares:

Comme ├ži

Worked like a charm.  This year I used them - the day I handed out their recorders I also handed them each a square to keep in the case.  The idea is to hold the square in the palm of your flattened hand and blow so gently that the tissue paper moves but does not fall off your hand.  Harder than it sounds!  I call it the Leaf Blower exercise.

Because I am that geek extremely dedicated music teacher, I'm already setting plans in motion for next year.  Yep, we're incorporating MusicK-8's Recorder Karate program.  I'm hoping this makes a huge difference in the at-home practicing engagement of my kids.  It's always been tepid at best.  Check out the Recorder Rules bulletin board I pinned from!  Pretty awesome blow-ups of the cute karate recorder children.

I will definitely let you know how it all comes out in the wash.  What are your tips for encouraging practice at home?  

Friday, June 28, 2013

In the Good Old Summertime

Second day of summer vacation.  Today I gave Sofya's no-knead bread recipe a try, and it is a rousing success.  I mixed King Arthur's white and white whole wheat flours and got a chewy, soft loaf reminiscent of what I could get at the bakerei when I lived in Germany and Austria.

And it's so, SO easy.  You set it to rise overnight, and if you're particularly greedy ambitious, you can get up a little early, about 5:00 AM, turn the oven on for 30 minutes and go back to bed, get up at 5:30 and throw the bread in the oven for another 30 minutes, and be eating freshly baked bread by say, 6:30.  If you happen to have done what I did on the FIRST day of summer vacation, you can eat it with this.

Small batch jam is my new friend - except that I have a slight obsession with having a jar or two to keep for the cold grey reality of winter.  So even if I'm only making enough jam to fill a jar or two, I find it necessary to get out the water bath canner and do the whole boiling jars routine.  But look, aren't they pretty?  Next on the agenda are pickled things - I'm watching the school garden to see if it produces anything worth pickling.  So far it's like this:

We think the kindergarten may possibly have spent some time re-planting the weeds they pulled.

But I'm hoping to be able to make Deb's sandwich slaw eventually, so I'm keeping an eye on things in the raised beds.  It would be terrific to show the kids a jar of colorful edible stuff in September, the fruits vegetables of their labor.

And now, time for a nap.  And what is so rare as a day in June.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

I heart the InterWebz

I am not an artist.

Well, I am, but not a visual one.  Yeah sure I can crack open a Mozart score and sing my way through it without blinking, but draw a flower?  Not so much.

And this is why I heart the Internet.  Basically, if you can read, you can find the directions on how to do anything.  My first graders' April song looked like this:

Until I googled  "how to draw a rose" and "how to draw a butterfly."

Now it looks like THIS!

Okay, so it's not "Water Lilies."

The first grade thinks it's AWESOME.

That's all that matters.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

I just had to put this here.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Keeping Up Appearances

Right so...we got engaged, bought a house, and I fell off the planet. Also, my Dad died, so that has not been great, to make a colossal understatement.

I've been soothing the soul by sticking close to home and pottering. 

Mr. Eshet has been very busy with projects around the new house - namely securing the fence border so that the two miscreants are unable to dig under the fence - and we began the venture by pulling up an entire floor's worth of wall-to-wall carpet (all DIY, wow, hello, more-work-than-we-thought-project) and then having the wood floors (professionally, we're crazy not stupid) refinished. And I've been engaging in a lot of online mind-numbing. The good kind. The oooo look at the pretty blogs kind. The laugh my ass off kind.,,,,  thebloggess.comthanks - no fooling - for in part getting me through a very terrible time of my life.

And look what they helped me do:

The recipe for honey whole wheat bread is from 100daysofrealfood, but the success comes courtesy of thefrugalgirl. I kept getting a very heavy loaf - the texture of, say, Mount Rushmore. A kneading tutorial from frugalgirl changed my   We shall say nothing of Deb's baked goods galore from La Smitten.

Tomorrow, it is to be hoped, there will be pictures of my school's raised bed garden. Unless it rains. Or the neighborhood cats pee in it. In that case, it may be pictures of otters wearing sweaters or something.

PS:  Have I mentioned that my kids are fabulous?  Can't have a post without mentioning that.  The K's and 1's are loving the circle games I'm teaching them, the 2's just finished a field trip to sing at Carnegie Hall, the 3's are preparing for theirs, the 4's are checking out the History of American Popular Music, and the 5ths are getting their butts kicked by History of Western Music, but most of them love it.  Just sayin'.  They're fabulous.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Here's my big accomplishment this week:

Actually that was just the first step. The end result is that oh-so-satisfying stocked larder shelf, dear to the heart of every closet domestic goddess:

I'm experimenting with recipes requiring less sugar, not because I am averse to sugar - most assuredly not - but because I am averse to preserved fruits that taste primarily of sugar, rather than the fruit itself. The most spectacular tastes-of-fruit example I have ever inhaled nibbled is this one. The sour cherry jam, to be exact. The strawberry vanilla jam recipe is new this year - last year's was nice and all but generally sweet rather than a sudden mouthful of ripe, bursting June accompanied by an unseen orchestra striking up Vivaldi. You want that on a dank, dreary March morning. Trying out Pomona's Pectin - one that requires little or no sugar to jell - to see if it helps bring out the taste of fruit.

Will post the results of its use with blackberry jam after the jam is done.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Lazy Days of Summer

So here we are, another year gone. I return to each parent that which said parent hath wrought. Admitted - I return them full of sugar and beans. I hold a "summer birthdays" party on the last day of school each year. Hey, parents fill their kids up with sugar every day at lunchtime. This is my one chance to do it back. Meanwhile, summer included a few notable events.

The arrival of this individual:

And the arrival of this item:

Yes indeed, a few changes. Other change at the top of the list - going back to teaching K-5 music at my old school! No classroom again, but looking forward to preparing another ferocious year of torturing expanding the minds of the fifth grade. Stay tuned, vacation won't last forever! Sob...