Monday, November 11, 2013

Getting Mathy With Musical's

We are back from London with loads of exciting stories and a hope to return for a much longer stay.  There were so many wonderful things we did on our trip. Seeing the show Matilda was definitely one of the events that stand out. The show was so extraordinary, and with a cast full of kids it has a way of pulling at your heart strings. The girls have been listening to the soundtrack on repeat and have expressed interest in performing one of the numbers for the end of the year talent show. Seeing as how they are 5, they may change their mind, but with excitement and enthusiasm over the idea and their new talent for speaking with an English accent, I decided to give them what they wanted....

with an educational twist of course.

We started with some rhythm, counting and math games set to a metronome, because timing is everything. We started with a simple game of pass the tap. With the metronome providing a steady beat, we sat in a circle and went around the circle tapping our sticks on the beat.

We then added numbers, each person counting and tapping on their number.

Next we added choreography building 2 beats at a time until we had choreographed a tapping rhythm stick dance to count of 8. We went through this choreography while counting with our loud clear voice.

Next week the counting will become more challenging as we incorporate addition math drills.

We spent the majority of our class time working on a piece from Matilda the musical titled "Naughty."  Each girl has been given a solo and must remember to listen and count to the music so they can stay together in their steps. We are having fun with this piece, but I must remember to bring chairs for their size so that we have an easier time with choreography.

At home we continued our lesson with some musical math drills. A part of our assignment was to work on these drills with a timer. The timer was more of a distraction and they kept loosing their focus, checking on the level of the sand. We tried 3 or 4 times each with the same results and honestly I wanted to put the darn thing down the garbage disposal as I broke out into sweats having flash backs of timed tests in elementary school. I think it is really good for kids to be able to know their math drills by heart, but I have to be honest and say that I still don't know all of them by heart, but I have become a very fast counter. So to help them (and me) I decided to take a song that they loved and re-wrote the lyrics. We now have daily karaoke party as we sing about adding 2's.

Song we rewrote:


Been working so hard
at using flash cards
addition math drills
Oh tell me how much more
I've got this feeling
math drills are just not my thing
I've got to sing it
for it to mean anything

2 + 1 = ( e e e equals) 3
2 + 2 = 4
2 + 3 = 5
2 + 4 = 6

Your adding so cool
obeying math rules
somewhere inside your mind
your learning learning
all you need is to sing them
to a really good song
and soon adding
won't slow me down

2 + 5 = 7
2 + 6 = 8
2 + 7 = 9
2 + 8 = 10
(music change)
speaking: 2 + 9 is 11
2 + 10 is 12

You've got to turn them around
and then turn up the sound
gotta learn to add by 2's


10 + 2 = 12
9 + 2 = 11
8 + 2 = 10
7 + 2 = 9
6 + 2 = 8
5 + 2 = 7
4 + 2 = 6
3 + 2 = 5
(music change)
(speaking)  2 + 2 is 4
2 + 1 is 3


note: Some kareoke versions differ from track to track so you may need to adjust accordingly.

Hope you enjoyed our song. Feel free to adjust lyrics to the math drills your child or students are working on.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

British Museum and Wicked on the West End

Today started early!  I could hear Coppélia in the other room singing songs from Matilda.  We could have sat around all day watching clips and listening to the soundtrack but instead we set off towards  the British Museum.

But first....
We found the Peter Pan statue at the park, this put a big smile on my face!

This museum opened to the public in 1759 and holds 8 million items.  We were only able to cover a small portion of what it had to offer and even within those sections we were getting lost.

Coppélia is obsessed with museums and ancient Egypt and today we hit the mother load.  She didn't want me taking pictures of her but there is something about watching your child light up with excitement and I had to be sneaky in order to document this moment.

Seriously Mom, this is embarrassing.

As soon as she would see someone about ready to give a talk she would run up to the front to listen.  A few times she shimmied her way back out of the crowd to inform me they didn't speak our language.

Statue of King Ramesses the IX and King Ramesses the I.

She asked me which Ramesses was Moses brother and made me take pictures.  We looked it up on our way home and it was Ramesses the II.  They did have a very large statue of him but she would let me take her picture in front of it and then she dashed past it and its crowd on her search for the mummies.

Estee avoided the mummy room.

Coppélia did not want to leave she was begging for more time and we ended up giving her 15 more minutes so she could explore the Sudan room.

We went back to our flat for a little rest before we hit the West End for another musical.

The girls have been listening to the songs from this show since before their first birthday.  They know the soundtrack by heart and have been begging to see it.  I had told them when they turned 7 I would take them but we were here and the tickets are cheaper then the ones for Broadway.  The girls were so excited!

They had little binoculars you could rent for a pound...they used them before the show to check out the orchestra pit, set details and the grips getting ready.

After the show they wanted autographs.

With Glinda

Madame Morrible


She was so sweet taking her time to talk with the girls and even came out from behind the gate to get down on their level and take a picture.

Friday, October 25, 2013

London Eye and the Broadway of London

Beautiful sunny day in London, this is rare right?

Today we went to Coppélia's top dream destinations The London Eye and Estee was able to finally  get a good view of what was on top of her must see, Big Ben.

It took about 30 minutes to make our way around, the views were amazing.

House of Parliament

Buckingham Palace 

They called this their GeoTrax bridge.

A view from each angle... all these views made the girls want to sketch.

After the ride we went in search a park they spotted from above.

We then went back to Kensington park to feed the swans and ducks that float on the pond in front of the palace.

Then we headed home for a bit of down time before we hit up West End, the Broadway of London.  

Daddy spoiled his little ladies with great seats for Matilda!  We missed this show in New York by a week but by coming to London to see it we got authentic accents.  Such a great show, we have been watching the clips from the Tony awards since this summer and singing along to the soundtrack which we finally bought last week.  The cast is full of young kids making it a treat for any little one to watch.  The girls have also been reading the book, they were discussing what scenes they thought would be cut because of the safety of the actors, but they had those scenes and the girls were amazed by the tricks they used to make it happen. 

The girls said it was the best day of their life, 2 parks, the London eye, Big Ben and Matilda!

I'll leave you with one of the girls favorite songs from Matilda the Musical, "Naughty".  We had the Matilda on the right.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Tower of London

We had a slow start this morning, I had grand plans to do more exploring then we did but all the girls really wanted to do is go to Kensington Park or Peter Pans Park as they have begun to call it.  How could I say no, the place truly is magical and every time we go I feel like I to should own a St. Bernard and sit down on a bench with a pad of paper and pen to write.  Instead I have two five year olds and a heavy backpack full of umbrellas, coats, snacks and a camera, I gladly let them write the stories of life for me.

Eventually we set off on another "Katie in London" adventure as we went to The Tower of London.

They brought their flat Stanley cousins to the castle.
I knew that the Crown Jewels were here and that prisoners had been tortured here but really that was all I knew and I thought this would just be quick trip to look at the Crowns.  What we got was a mid-evil castle!  The girls really didn't have any interest in me reading every historical detail what they really wanted to do was explore and we did for three hours.

We ended up showing up just in time for The Word which is the changing of the password.

We had fun playing the guards protecting the castle.

Turns out the girls weren't all that interested in the crown jewels they all started to look the same.  Although Coppélia thought the royal orb was a royal bomb...this is why it's important to actually read the information.

The only room where the girls wanted me to read and explain things to them was room that held the items from the torture chamber.  We ended up becoming the entertainment of the room as the girls kept asking what the items were used for, all eyes were on me as adults wondered how this was going to go down.

"What is that, read it to me."
"Um...give me a minute, I want to read it and then I'll decide what I'm going to tell you."

"These are manacles, they would hang your hands above your head for like 5-6 hours."
"Thats not so bad."
(ok I'll make it sound more horrible)
"what if there was like razor sharp edges that were cutting into your wrist."
"Not that big of a a deal."

"This is the Scaverger's Daughter it would force you to be all scrunched up for a long period of time."

"That's the rack, they would tie your legs to one side and your arms to the other and then they would stretch you."
"That sounds relaxing."
"What if they stretched you so far your arms were going to rip off?"
(shoulder shrug) "I could handle it."

The other room that freakishly fascinated them was the tower were the two princes were held and then vanished then Richard the III was crowned king.  I tried to avoid telling them the story but there was a video playing and Coppie kept asking.  I ended up telling them the story and a few of the theories.  As we continued on our journey we came to a stairwell where they discover two bodies of young boys (possibly the young princess) and of course they asked.  I could tell the wheels were turning in Coppie's head, eventually on the way home she said, "I think it was Richard the III, their uncle that became King that killed them."

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

White Lodge: Home of the Royal Ballet Lower School

I couldn't sleep last night, I was up till almost 4 in the morning tossing and turning, I felt like a child trying to go to sleep on Christmas Eve.  I have wanted to go to the White Lodge Museum and ballet resource center since the moment I learned of it's existence and when planning this trip all other adventures and exhibits had to work their way around this one.

Since before the age of two I have sat down with the girls to watch clips of different ballet's, choreographers and dancers.  It was only in the past few weeks during one of these viewings that the girls began asking questions about these amazing Russian dancers and the why, hows and who's of dancers that defected.  Sometimes the non stop questions of my 2, 5 year old can feel like an interrogation.

So this is how they came to learn of Rudolf Nureyev.

It just so happened that the newest exhibit at White Lodge was "Rudolf Nureyev: In search of Perfection" so I was extra excited that they would be familiar with his work when we got there.

We also have been learning in our Mommy School time about children who actually go away to special school to study dance along with all their other academic studies.  The purpose of these schools is to create dancers who will go on to become professionals.  White Lodge among it's rich aristocratic history is the home for the Royal Ballet Lower School, where kids ranging from ages 11-16 live and study.

The school is outside of London in a town called Richmond.  It may not be far to the city but when traveling by train, subway, bus and then a mile walk it does take some time to get to.  But the town is sweet and the walk through the Richmond park is breath taking.  I felt like I should be on horse back releasing the hounds to go duck hunting, it was the perfect backdrop for a period piece.

On our walk we played with woolly bears.

and then this beauty decided to join us on our walk.  On the hill in the distance you could see between 75 and 100 of them resting and grazing.

Finally we made it to the entrance gate where we met the driver who would take us through the gates.  The house was completed in 1730 and became a favorite retreat for George II and his wife Queen Caroline.  From there it has a long history of royal occupancy but in 1955 is when it became home to the Royal Ballet School.

Through the french doors that lead to the deck in the photo above is the most gorgeous studio I have ever laid eyes on.  This studio is only used for private lessons now but it was in this very room that Edward the 8th was christened. 

Estee immediately took off her shoes and began dancing.

We weren't allowed to wonder the halls because it is the home for these kids and their school was in session.  Also we were not allowed to photograph the students as they walked the halls but the girls were very excited to wave and say hello to them as they made their way to class holding their character skirts.


Here Estee is dancing in the grass in front of the Margot Fonteyn studio


Margot Fonteyn's Odette costume

Anna Pavlova's vanity

This is a statue of Margot Fonteyn, the middle finger of her hand has faded because it is a ritual among the students to touch her finger every time they pass for luck.

Coppélia held tight before saying goodbye.

Fortunately for us we had a much easier time getting home.  The driver of the lodge was kind enough to drive us to the nearest train station and later we transferred to a double decker bus where the girls were able to check off on their "Katie In London" tour.