Beethoven Lesson for Kids

We recently started homeschooling our kids, which has given me the opportunity to do something that I love even more in our home – teaching about music. I grew up in a family that appreciated and loved classical music, and it makes me happy to pass that on to my kids as well.

As part of our music lessons, we have been talking about different ideas in theory and have been learning some fun songs, but I wanted to also make sure that they were learning about composers and how their music continues to live on today. I thought I’d share our Beethoven lesson plan:

  • Beethoven Bio from Making Music Fun
  • Listened to an excerpt from his Fifth Symphony (since it is “classic” Beethoven….and my son is playing it in a piano recital so he has a vested interest)
  • Listened to an excerpt from his Moonlight Sonata….
  • ……..And compared it to this modern version by The Piano Guys:

  • Listened to an excerpt from his Ninth Symphony (“Ode to Joy” – vocal awesomeness starts at 0:34)…….
  • ……..And (probably somewhat irreverently) compared it to this version by The Muppets:

I love hearing the original music, and it is fun to see how we have interpreted it in OUR day. Happy teaching! :)

 

Dryer Cloth!

I had posted earlier about a foil ball to put in the dryer – which worked well, but sometimes things were a bit static-y. I decided to try this idea from That Crazy Family, and it works PERFECTLY. No more running out of dryer sheets! No more throwing away a dryer sheet with every load! And it takes the static out awesomely. Hooray!

All you need is a washcloth and fabric softener (click here for another awesome tip with fabric softener). I use both of my red washcloths because I can find them easily when I’m pulling the wash out. They have been washed and dried many times themselves, so I don’t worry about bleeding.

Take your washcloth and saturate it with fabric softener. I just take about a capful (you may need more or less, depending on the size and absorbancy of your washcloth) and dump it on the washcloth. Then I squeeze the washcloth so I can mix the fabric softener in.

Let it dry.

Voila! Instant dryer sheet. I have been using my dryer cloths for several months now and can say that they WORK, and work well. I use each cloth until I can’t smell or feel the fabric softener in the cloth (easily 20 loads), and then just put more fabric softener on it again, let it dry, and use it all over. Easy, cheap, friendly to the trees and animals – there you go!

The only times I do NOT use my dryer cloth is when I am drying towels or rugs. You don’t need a dryer sheet or fabric softener for those. (For a tip on getting the stink out of your towels, click here. It’s awesome.)

Enjoy! :)

Test Your House for GERMS

This idea comes from parents.com and it is crazy awesome. I am somewhat of a “germ aware” person and find myself often wondering what kinds of gross things are living on the surfaces of things like play places, sinks, shopping cart handles, etc. This post has a way to make your own gels to grow bacterial cultures. Nerdy? You bet. And super cool.

Make Your Own Bacterial Plates

Supplies Needed:

  • 1/2 c. water
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 packet of unflavored gelatin (1 oz.)
  • several plastic or paper cups
  • plastic wrap
  • cotton swabs

How to:

Step 1: Prepare your cups. I used 6 cups. You really could do more, though. I cut my cups down so they were shorter – maybe 2″ tall. You could even go shorter than that if you would like – my cups were plastic and tended to rip more easily when they were cut down shorter than that.

Step 2: Boil your water. I microwaved the cup in a microwave-safe glass measuring cup. It took about a minute – you can literally watch the water start to boil in about that time.

Step 3: Mix in your sugar and gelatin and pour into your prepared cups.

Step 4: Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate your cups for 24 hours to allow your “gels” to firm up. And they will really, truly be firm. If they are squishy at all, give them some more time.

Step 5: Go around your house and find “questionable” things to swab. The original poster had found that her houseplant was actually the grossest place in her house, while the toilet and the inside of her daughter’s mouth were not very gross. Be creative! Here is what I tried:

The smudged one was a second swab I took of the sink – I took one “before” cleaning it with Scrubbing Bubbles, and one after. I’m always curious if the cleaners that say they kill 99% of everything actually work. We also have kids over here often to play, and they almost always gravitate to the piano, so I thought that would be interesting too. I wanted to test our plant for myself too. I also wanted to try the doorknob to our pantry since that is one that gets high usage. And, of course, I left one as a control. “Control” just basically means you leave it alone to make sure there wasn’t something wrong with the gel that you made. I actually cheated a little bit and swabbed that one with a “clean” cotton swab, just because I wanted to make sure the cotton swab itself wasn’t a carrier.

Step 6: Recover with plastic wrap and leave in a dark, warm spot for 4-5 days.The first day there will be very little to nothing that happens. Don’t despair! Once the colonies get growing, they will grow quickly.

Our Results (in grossest to least gross order):

1. The Houseplant (gross!)

2. The Piano Keys

3. The Uncleaned Sink

4. (And this is a VERY distant fourth – there was practically nothing) The Cleaned Sink

5. The Doorknob

6. The Control

Wow! I will definitely wipe off our piano keys. Sick. And I will NOT eat food off of my houseplant if it falls on it. *Shudder*

That was a LOT of fun, and will definitely be something we try again. What would you swab?

Foil Ball

Cheapest. Dryer. Sheet. Ever. (with foil!)

I ran out of dryer sheets today and didn’t want to go to the store, so I found this way to make a cheap dryer sheet out of fabric softener and a rag from Heather @ Fake-It Frugal (I’ll review that idea after I have tried it out). The fabric softener was taking a bit to dry, so I decided to try the trick that she mentioned at the bottom of her post, but hadn’t tried out yet. Take aluminum foil, ball it up, and chuck it in your dryer.

I was doing a load of kid laundry, so I figured if it was horrible and staticky that they wouldn’t notice too much (especially the boys), so I tried it. I took about a foot long of aluminum foil, crumpled it up and stuck it in the dryer with my damp clothes. After the clothes were dry I pulled them out and they felt….normal! I even did a test with picking up a fleece PJ top that had a lightweight hand towel on top of it – the hand towel didn’t stick! It came right off. Hooray!! And no worrying about possible staining or adding extra chemicals to the clothes either.

Thank you Heather! :)

sh chi 2

Easy Peasy Shredded Chicken

This has made my life better. Really, it has.

Shredding chicken is my absolutely least favorite thing to do of all times. Or at least it is close. I have a problem: I do NOT handle inanimate objects that do not obey my will very well. I still have a hard time cutting with scissors for more than a minute (Kindergarten 101!), sealed plastic objects that say “easy open” and you STILL have to pick at them for 25 minutes before the plastic finally yields and separates, and chicken that is prepared to shred but still takes way longer than it should to get it all shredded nicely.

No more.

This was a tip I found from Gwen @ Simply Healthy Family. Gwen, you are awesome.

Step 1: Cook your chicken. I just chuck several chicken breasts into a pot of boiling water and let them go for a long time.

Step 2: Take let your chicken cool down, just a bit. I found that with chicken RIGHT out of the water it actually was a little harder to get everything shredded uniformly. When the chicken is still warm, but has dried out a bit, then you are good to go.

Step 3: Chuck it in your KitchenAid with the cookie dough paddle attachment and let ‘er rip!

That’s it! That is all you have to do!! Look at how beautiful that chicken is. It makes me happy.

Gwen, thanks again. Plus also, I have a great recipe to share on Wednesday with your easily shredded chicken. This is one that my husband and son have both requested for birthday dinners – it’s awesome.

Enjoy!! :)

 

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