Archive for September, 2006

One last word on the Bard

Friday, September 29th, 2006
Hi Folks,

A few last notes about our Shakespeare for the Ears collection,
and then we WILL shut up about it, I promise....

First of all, a couple notes from folks about this CD:

------------

"Hi Jim!  I looked at the Shakespeare site and wanted it,
but really wasn't sure about what these "new" readers
would sound like.  (My mom is a Drama Director and my
dad was in the film and radio business - did you ever
listen to Dr J. Vernon McGee? Well, my dad was Bob Smith,
the announcer for the first 30 some years.
With my background, my kids are use to hearing really
exciting narrations from me and unfortunately, they
tend to get bored with so-so reading.)  All that to say
that we just listened to the 'Midsummer's Night Dream'
and my kids and I loved it!  Easy listening in a
contemporary language.  Smooth voice, great editing -
it's hard to tell the difference between recording days -
overall, really good stuff!!! So, I'm off to buy the
whole thing!  Thank you so much for putting all this together.
I have a Special Needs Child and there is no way I can do
all the research, read the stories AND teach my kids all
their other studies.  I am struggling as it is, so this
is a great help to me and a fun learning experience for them.
Thank you!" -- Maggie

"I really like your CDs.  I just got the Shakespeare
in the mail and all looks good with that one......
It is incredible what you put on there for $19.00.
Thank you so much." -- Cheryl

(Thanks to EVERYONE for their kind words about this
collection... we are so glad to discover it has filled a
much-felt need, and is a resource that you can really use.)

-------------

Next, two important updates:

1) We have added another resource to the online resource "annex"
for the Shakespeare collection... if you've purchased the collection
already, you'll want to be sure to re-visit this page and
pick this up:

When we did our Shakespeare survey a few weeks ago,
we asked those families who already have studied and enjoy
his work what tips they would give to families new to the Bard's
plays. This new REPORT contains their replies on how they
got their kids truly excited & "hooked" on Shakespeare.
some wonderful ideas here, folks! These approaches have worked
for others -- so take your time going through these and glean
what you think may work for you in your situation.

(Again, those of you who have purchased this collection, just re-visit
the "annex" to pick up this extra helpful report. It is right at the
top of the page.)

2) Finally, a reminder... our introductory s a l e offer, which
yes, still includes the beloved Mystery CD... absolutely ends at
midnight on October 1st. After that, it's full price & no
Mystery CD, no exceptions. We don't send out emails on Sunday, so
this right here is your LAST warning to get it now or pay more
later, your choice.

Here's the link one last time, then we're done talking about this.
(hooray, they cheered)

http://www.letticebell.com/Shakespeare/

Thanks again everyone, and we’ll see you next week with another
delightful “Living Book for the Ears” program!

Best Wishes,
The Erskine Family

Mr. Shakespeare has arrived!

Monday, September 25th, 2006

Good Morning,

Just a super quick note.
Our SHAKESPEARE FOR THE EARS
Home Study Collection IS NOW AVAILABLE!

Yay!

You can check it out at this link:

http://www.letticebell.com/Shakespeare

WARNING: The introductory discount is good only until Midnight, Oct. 1st…
after which it will be the regular price.
A word to the wise is sufficient.

Best Wishes,

The Erskine Family
www.homeschoolradioshows.com

Our Three Readers

Thursday, September 21st, 2006

The cornerstone of our upcoming SHAKESPEARE FOR THE EARS collection is a our newly recorded version of E. Nesbit’s classic retelling of Shakespeare’s plays, BEAUTIFUL STORIES FROM SHAKESPEARE. When originally published, this book was subtitled “A Home Study Course”, and it is indeed that, so we kept that for our new version.

BEAUTIFUL STORIES is a much beloved,  time-tested classic “Living Book” adaptation of Shakespeare’s stories, especially geared to younger listeners. Our brand new audiobook version makes it all the more accessible and “painless” for those who want to introduce the Bard’s work to their children.

Now, some of you might remember we recently sent out an email asking for “readers” for some of our upcoming projects. Well, this is the first of those projects. We had dozens of folks send us their sample readings, and out of those, we chose three delightful voices for this audiobook.
They are all wonderfully talented homeschooling moms, who (of course) have a great deal of experience reading out loud to their families, and thus they make wonderful, homey readers for these stories.

We wanted to introduce you to these ladies, since they added so much to our audiobook. Here’s a brief introduction to our three readers (in their own words):


Anna Sul

We live deep in the furrow of the central San Joaquin valley of
California. My husband and I have been homeschooling since the first of
our three children was born seven years ago. E. Nesbit’s Beautiful
Stories from Shakespeare is not only an enjoyable introduction to
Shakespeare but also a bit of an historical work in itself. I so enjoyed
reading for this project that it inspired us to begin regularly
recording the children reading from the Psalms. I may even record some
of my own poetry. 

Reading to our children and sharing favorite stories is a joy that is
worth fighting for the time to do so. As a child I fondly remember being
read to by my parents and later reading to my younger siblings. Now our
oldest is reading to all of us! Listening to these new Living Books for
the Ears together I’m sure will add variety to our literature diet and
whet our appetites for more!

Ramona Voight


I am mom to one son, almost 13 years old. We live in Minnesota, and have been homeschooling for 6 years now, and loving every minute. It has been a joy and pleasure to learn about the world with my family.

This Shakespeare project was great fun. My mom is a born storyteller, and I have inherited that love of a good tale. I have newfound respect for recording artists. The time I spent in my ” recording studio” (the bathroom with the door shut!) was hard work, but rewarding. I hope this compilation helps everyone enjoy the Bard a bit more.

Rose Lee

I live in Te Puke, the Kiwifruit Capital of the World, in New Zealand.  
I have been homeschooling since 2000, and have two children.  
My son is 13, my daughter 7.  Reading aloud to the children has for many years 
been the way we started our day, and  often ended it as well.  Sometimes it would 
also make a great break in the middle. Reading for this project has been an 
opportunity to explore an author I otherwise might have skipped following my 
scant experience of him in High School.  I love bringing stories alive, and hope 
I have managed to achieve that for the listeners.

You’ll get to hear a sample story from BEAUTIFUL STORIES FROM SHAKESPEARE next week as our “Living Book for the Ears” program… so be sure to “tune in” then and enjoy!

Shakespeare For the Ears — What’s In It!

Thursday, September 21st, 2006

Well, whoops. We kinda, sorta alluded to what is going to be in our new SHAKESPEARE FOR THE EARS collection in an earlier post. So (since a couple of folks have already fussed at me about this), I think we better go ahead and give you an “almost” complete rundown of what will be included in this collection.

Here you go……………

* “BEAUTIFUL STORIES FROM SHAKESPEARE” AUDIOBOOK
A Home Study Course For the Young At Heart
20 Stories from Shakespeare’s plays retold for all ages
Narrated by Rose Lee, Anna Sul, and Ramona Voight
A Midsummer Night’s Dream * The Tempest * As You Like It * The Winter’s Tale * King Lear * Twelfth Night * Much Ado About Nothing * Romeo and Juliet * Pericles * Hamlet * Cymbeline * Macbeth * The Comedy of Errors * The Merchant of Venice * Timon of Athens * Othello * The Taming of the Shrew * Measure for Measure * Two Gentlemen of Verona * All’s Well that Ends Well

* READMEFIRST — How to use “Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare” to Introduce Young Listeners to Shakespeare (PDF)

* Ebook edition of E. Nesbit’s “Beautiful Stories From Shakespeare” (PDF)

* 56 Page Shakespeare Coloring Book (PDF)

* Pronunciation Guide to Shakespeare’s Names (PDF)

* Famous Quotes from Shakespeare: A Memorization and Copywork Book (PDF)

MP3 AUDIO PROGRAMS

Great Plays Dramatized
(full hour classic radio adaptations of these Shakespeare plays)
—————————————————————-

* The Tempest

* Love’s Labor Lost

* The Merry Wives of Windsor

* Julius Caesar

* Macbeth

* As You Like It

* Hamlet

* Othello

* Selected Short Readings from Shakespeare

Bonus Audio Programs
——————-

* An Interview with William Shakespeare

* Shakespeare’s Hometown

* English Restoration Plays

EBOOKS
_______________________________

* Tales of Shakespeare retold for Children
by Charles & Mary Lamb
A classic “living book” of retellings of Shakespeare’s plays for the young at heart. This is a great complement to “Beautiful Stories From Shakespeare” by E. Nesbit (PDF)

* The Sonnets of Shakespeare
All 154 sonnets by Shakespeare. (PDF)

* The Age of Shakespeare
by Algernon Charles Swinburne
A survey of the OTHER great writers of Shakespeare’s day, and how they influenced (and were influenced by) Shakespeare’s writings. (PDF)

* For Whom Shakespeare Wrote
by Charles Dudley Warner
Another very well written survey of the people and times in which Shakespeare lived, and how they viewed his works (PDF)

* Study Guide for The Merchant of Venice
(Each of these has an Act-by-Act summary, with discussion questions)
* Study Guide for The Merry Wives of Windsor

* Study Guide for Comedy of Errors

* Study Guide for Two Gentlemen of Verona

* Study Guide for Taming of the Shrew

* Study Guide for Love’s Labour’s Lost

* Study Guide for Much Ado About Nothing

* Study Guide for As You Like It

* Study Guide for Twelfth Night

* Study Guide for The Tempest (all PDF)

ADDITIONAL TEACHING RESOURCES:

* Shakespeare for All Seasons - An Introduction for Homeschoolers (PDF)

* Homeschool Tips on Teaching Shakespeare (PDF)

* Spooky Shakepeare: A Guide to scary Shakespeare scenes for Homeschool (PDF)

* A Shakespeare Timeline (PDF)

* Shakespeare Picture Gallery (PDF)

* homeschoolradioshows.com’s Teacher’s Guide (PDF)

* How to Make Your Own CDs & Cassettes (PDF)

* How We Use these Programs: Tips from Families (PDF)

* Listening in the Car: How to set it up so it sounds GREAT (PDF)

… plus a few MORE extras and surprises we are still adding as we wrap up this project in the next few days! D.V., we will be releasing this new collection NEXT WEEK… and yep, we plan to offer it at a special introductory price for the first few days, so you can grab a copy of this and save quite a bit. If you’re interested in this at all (for use this school year, or for later if your kids are a bit too young), this will be THE time to pick it up.

More details will be coming soon!

Families share “Why We Like Shakespeare”

Tuesday, September 19th, 2006

In our survey last week, we also asked families that are already familiar with the works of Shakespeare WHY they enjoyed them so. Here’s a representative sample of the replies we received… could these be YOUR family’s testimonials once YOU “get into” Shakespeare?

Comments:

- They are beautiful, complex, sometimes hilarious, sometimes creepy views into the human heart and mind. Taken together I think his works tell the story of the human heart in its struggles, loves, and tragedies.

- Admittedly, I havve never been one to ‘read’ Shakespeare in the traditional sense. Even in High School I would find a friend to read aloud with or read it aloud to myself using different voices. He wrote for performance and the sound to the ears, not a dry textbook writing. In college I had friends with Shakespeare-phobia. We overcame by doing a quick research on the timeperiod of the setting then would gather in someone’s room to read aloud. Even those who didn’t become fans understood.

- The stories are wonderful, full of suspense. The story is always a surprise.

- So many words, phrases & situations in other literature are based on Shakespeare. I love that my kids get to be a part of the culture of the English language. I also like that hearing Shakespearian English gives them a clue about how language changes over time and about how sentences can be structured in unusual ways.

- great one-liners - great imagery

- lots of biblical allusions and Christian themes that generate some great discussions

- “in medias res” beginnings captivate the audience immediately — no slow starts

- I love how his writings show that there truly isn’t anything new under the sun. People still do the same kind of trechery as they did then.

- I enjoy his play with words, his wit. I also enjoy the tragedies which explore the deeper things of humanity; death, meaning, etc. I love the comedies for their fun and for the more humorous look at human foibles. I love the historical plays for the way they bring people from history to life and help cement the events in your memory. Also, as someone who was involved in theater in my younger days, I can tell you, Shakespeare is a blast to act out! There’s lots of fun, physical comedy and action to protray as well as the emotional/relational parts that make for an blissfully exhausting experience.

- I’m intrigued with the Olde English and how he breathes personality and passion into what is often portrayed as dusty old history. The way he frames life is interesting to consider.

- Shakespeare has really interesting plot twists, a lot of great humor, and beautiful poetic language. He makes you think about important issues, such as the effects of bitterness and suspicion in an individual’s life. He also has contributed so much to the English language, and is so often quoted and alluded to that a familiarity with his works greatly expands one’s understanding of other literature and the multitude of other places where one may run into references to his works.

- We try to help the children see the interweaving of the stories. We make diagrams for this, act things out, and talk about character qualities. We read the Lois Burdett storybooks (they are excellent), as well as Lamb and Nesbitt. We also read directly from the plays and sonnets themselves. My husband also has challenged the kids to find “Shakespeare in everyday life”- when we hear or see something that is from Shakespeare, the first one to identify it gets a milkshake with Dad. This is a pretty popular contest, but right now, Mom wins a lot of these :) . We have identified Shakespeare lines and titles on Sesame St., in everyday words (did you know he first used these words in print: alligator, auspicious, frugal, gloomy, puke, zany, eyeball etc.), and on radio and in other books!

- His sense of humor, and his sense of God.

- They are so true to life and can be very funny.

- I love the fact that what was funny or interesting or scary then is usually funny or interesting or scary now

- this literature has stood the test of time and is so lively and so wise… I think it is really important that we train our brains to make an effort - rather than just appreciate what comes easily… how much of what is popular now will be popular 400 years from today? Thanks for doing this!

- I like the fun way he uses words and phrases for humor, as well as the moral lessons

- What adventure! What intrigue! What romance! - Great sense of humor.

- Once you figure out the language barrier, lol….they are really wonderful stories and an added bonus is that we’ve discovered that his stories and/or ideas/concepts seem to be a part of “everyday life” and we didn’t even realize that it came from Shakespeare. He’s everywhere, lol.

- His plays describe humans and their strengths and weaknesses so well in a friendly context. He also believes showing mercy is so important and this is very prevalent throughout his plays. Some favorites are Midsummer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night, A Comedy of Errors, All’s Well that ends Well, Measure for Measure, The Tempest

- The fantastic use of the English language, which is something that is slowly dying with all the “on-tap” entertainment today. Also the plots are very creative, and of historical value.

- I am like you, I thought I didn’t like him, but helped a homebound student in 10th grade by doing a table read and found out I love the plays contrary to my old high school impression. I find reading Shakespeare as a play really helped. (I also was able to go to Stratfod-upon-Avon and see one of his plays about 12 years ago and then took my young kids to a summer production last year) I think seeing a hearing his plays, or watching or listening is the best way to get to like them. Everything you said about aquired taste is sooo true.

- His ability to really, really know humankind. His quick wit. His ability to articulate difficult feelings and thoughts.

- I love the style of writing from that time period. The language seemed to have more life than most of the passionless dribble put out today. (Although it can be a bit of overkill at times!!) I also like the simple fact that authors of yore used proper grammar and sentences longer that 5-7 words.

- Shakespeare’s characters are genuine. There’s nothing fake about them at all. Evil or good, they’re completely believable. Putting the Old English aside, his plays are very easy to follow. The action and direction the story goes makes sense.

- I was an English major in college and was influenced greatly to appreciate Shakespeare by a particular professor. She presented Shakespeare as he was in his day: (not to diminish “the bard” but) he was a bit like the Stephen Spielberg of his day. He didn’t write only for the “upper crust,” (as we tend to think of his work) rather, his audience came from all walks of life. Today his language sounds aristocratic to us, but in his own day he was understandable (and wonderfully skilled at his craft!) to the masses.

- the rich language…there are levels of understanding that make it interesting to people of various ages

- The layers of it. We have a blast trying to figure out what he means in his sonnets and we really enjoy the plays

- The writing style. The language is beautiful! And I enjoy the way that complicated issues are handled with honesty, not portraying characters in static, typed modes. The characters are shown in their full complexity, and at times in full pain, without sacrificing moral choice as a reality.

- Poetry…Poetry….poetry…. He has a wonderful way with words that speaks to the soul.

This Week’s Program: The Quality of Courage

Tuesday, September 19th, 2006

Dear Friends,

Here we go with this week’s
“Living Book for the Ears” program…

Imagine…

The Revolutionary War is brewing, and
Boston harbor is filled with British war vessels
blockading our ports.

Your assignment is to climb into a small,
suffocating barrel, in which you can barely see,
move or breathe…

And then, submerged in that barrel,
under the water and completely alone,
you must paddle against the current of the tides…
and attempt to come right up beside the enemy ships
unseen, in an effort to sink them.

Only –
your air is running out,
the ocean is leaking in,
and the bomb you are carrying is just about
to go off…

Talk about harrowing!

That’s the setup in this TRUE story of an
amazing Revolutionary War inventor and his
creation, the very first “submarine” vehicle.

CLICK HERE…

…and enjoy!

Mushroomville

Tuesday, September 19th, 2006

With all the rains we’ve been having lately, the woods behind my office is filled with interesting “late summer things”… like these:

A beautiful blue mushroom, photo by Jessica…

…and wandering “trails” of mushrooms, meandering hither and yon through our woods with no specific path or destination in mind. The trails go on and on and on…. Photo by Russell

Wondering if You SHOULDN’T Teach Shakespeare?

Monday, September 18th, 2006

We had a flood of responses (over 600!) to our questions on teaching Shakespeare as a part of your homeshooling. Here’s what we found out:

We first asked if you had introduced the works of Shakespeare to your kids.
42% said YES
45.5% said NO, but you were planning to
13.1% said NO, I’m avoiding it!

Next, we asked “What specifically is the biggest obstacle you have in studying Shakespeare in your homeschool?”

We got many, many answers to this, but they all pretty much boiled down to the following four categories. Maybe these concerns are on your mind, too:

#1: SHAKESPEARE IS TOO HARD TO UNDERSTAND

Comments:

- Our problem is understanding the old English - since we don’t use it much in today’s society old English is difficult for us to understand.
- Making Shakespeare understandable & accessable. Plays are too long, too dense to follow.
- Right now I think my kids are too young (oldest is 8) .
- I, personally, always found the plays hard to follow, but I think that is easily solved by doing an overview and a brief “telling” of the story before you begin so that people know what to expect. A follow up performance, if possible, is always a bonus.
- If we use the original text (vs. Ch. & Mary Lamb books, etc.) it seems we are “dissecting” every sentence and explaining what is meant in each. This makes it slow, but when we stick with it, it begins to “click”. It’s almost like learning a foreign language and suddenly beginning to understand bits and pieces and longer conversations. Of course, the older the kids are, the better their understanding and the stronger their interest.
- we’re just now doing Lamb’s Shakespeare but the most trouble we have is with anything long. The thing that has been a life-saver with all of our harder to follow books is the audio-books! On our way to lessons and such we’ll pop one in and we’ve all gotten into those books better than we ever had trying to read at home with the toddler interupting and the kids wiggling.

A: Yes, we’ve read in many places that it is best to start kids in on Shakespeare around age 9. Before that, his plays and sonnets in their original form are just too difficult for younger children to understand. However, E. Nesbit’s “Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare” book was written specifically as a “Home Study Course” for younger readers (and now listeners also, in our new audiobook coming next week). It boils down the complex plays into understandable stories, while preserving some of the beautiful language of Shakespeare. Like our “Living Books for the Ears” dramatizations, it is a great way to give your kids just a “taste” of the real thing and train their “palates” for more.

#2: I DON’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT HIM

Comments:

- I’ve never studied him much myself, so I really don’t know much about him. I’d have to do research or find resources that explained him & his work.

A: You and me both. That is one reason we have gone overboard in providing additional resources, ebooks, teaching suggestions and links you can use to make not only Shakespeare’s works come to life, but also his life and times as well. (The program “Interview with Shakespeare” in our new collection is an especially fun audio that will help with this, wherein a reporter interviews not only Shakespeare, but also some of his contemporaries and critics.) Even so, it isn’t the easiest thing in the world to “teach Shakespeare”. We’ve got all sorts of terrific resources here to help you out, but it does take some effort - and enthusiasm - on your part to bring it all together and shepherd your kids through this study.

#3: SHAKESPEARE IS MEANT TO BE PERFORMED/HEARD, NOT READ

Comments:

- We’ve not studied Shakespeare as of yet but I am worried that because it was not presented in a way that allowed me to enjoy it, I will pass that lack of enjoyment onto my children.
- Listening is much easier than reading. Audio versions of stories are good. Recordings are more effective than reading to children, especially in our situation. Recordings allow you to stop-repeat-start without tripping over words and without the dry-mouth that can come from reading to children who always look uninterested. PS: He does listen & learn. This is why we so appreciate your ministry.
- Read a volumne of “stories from Shakespeare” to get familar with the plot and then read a play. Some plays are more accessible thatn others. Make sure you use a volume that provides some commentary so you can understand some of those metaphors. It is also helpful to have different people read different parts

- Please watch live plays (or videos) and then read the plays/listen to them with your children. Put a ply down for a year and then re-read. New things jump out each time we work with the Bard.
- Try to read or watch different versions of a play to gain a better understanding.

A: Absolutely, Shakespeare was meant to be experienced, seen and heard instead of read. I think that is one reason I had such a difficult time “warming up” to Shakespeare in public school — all we ever did was try to “read” him. I never did actually see him performed until many years later. Our approach in putting together this collection was to try to present these stories in a variety of ways… in print (ebook), in audio, and then in dramatized abridged form… all to make it as accessible as possible.

We’d suggest taking one play at a time. Pick the play you want to cover. Start with the “Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare” audiobook version. Listen to the story being told, have the kids color the accompanying coloring pages while they are listening. Then a couple days later, read to them the same story from the Lamb’s “Tales of Shakespeare”, which is provided in ebook form. Ask the kids questions about the story (a study guide to the comedies with discussion questions is included in our new collection), let it simmer for a while. Then, the next week or so, try listening to the hour long dramatization of the same story. Feel free to start & stop it as you go to clarify what is going on. Your kids should be able to pick up on the story pretty easily using this method. Then, the next week, pick another play and go through the whole process over again!

#4: “PG” CONTENT OF HIS PLAYS

Comments:

- Our biggest obstacle, honestly, is not the Elizabethan language, nor even his long windedness, although that was tough for our children, for us the biggest obstacle honestly is some of the content such as romance and violence. We are a very conservative homeschooling family and we avoid such content matter with our children. We have touched on Shakespeare using The Lambs book for children and in that we did only read a few of the plays. So thats our opinion on the “big bad bard.”
- We try to read only books that have good morals - while Shakspere does have good morals - we try to teach Christian morals. I’m not sure if Shakespeare can provide what we are trying to instill in our children.

A: Yes, Shakespeare’s plays are what they are, no denying that. For whatever literary merit they hold, the complete plays do venture into occasional bawdy themes and violence which can be difficult for Christian families to address when studying these. And, while Shakespeare does indeed contain a great deal of good morals, he did not (at least as far as we have been able to determine) write from a Christian perspective. So the question then is, what do we then do with this body of work? Do we ignore it because of its faults, do we dive right in and look at it warts and all, the good and the not-so-good, or do try to glean what we can out of the most important body of work in Western Literature?

Well, we strongly encourage you to follow your heart in this matter, and if you believe Shakespeare is wrong for your family, then by all means pass it by. But personally, we would come down on the side of winnowing and gleaning. Shakespeare is just too important a part of our history and too much an influence on all literature that came after him to dismiss out of hand. Frankly, I am GLAD to have versions of these plays that have been “edited” and “toned down” for a family audience. You can be selective about the plays you cover, as well. The “Great Plays” dramatizations which originally were broadcast in the late 1930s that are included in our collection are hour long versions that retain Shakespeare’s language and plot, but cut back on most, if not all, of the objectionable material. Our audiobook “Beautiful Stories From Shakespeare” most definitely removes the bawdy and more violent parts of the story for the sake of younger readers/listeners. There is time enough later on to take in Shakespeare as originally written and performed. For our purposes, the abridged versions are just fine, and are suitable for family listening.

Hope this helps you a bit in planning whether or not to tackle the Bard in YOUR homeschool or not!

I once wouldn’t touch Shakespeare with a 10 foot pole

Thursday, September 14th, 2006

Hi folks,

Just in case you missed my report on this in our blog,
we have our final numbers from survey last week on
what upcoming collections you’d like to see most.

Here’s the results….

Stories from Shakespeare (made easy to understand) - 55%
Stories of Pioneers & Explorers - 42%
Stories of Mark Twain - 29%
Classic Short Stories of Suspense - 25%

So… it looks like our Shakespeare project is a “go”!
We’ve actually been working on all of these over the
summer, but we’re putting Mr. Shakespeare on the “front burner”
now, and hopefully it will be ready in a couple weeks or so.

I must confess, however…

When I was younger, I wouldn’t touch Shakespeare
with a ten foot pole.

I suspect some of y’all can relate.

His plays and sonnets seemed too complex
and creaky for my tastes, and I just couldn’t get past
the olde English and “High School English Class”
textbook style “read this or else” trappings…

Well, to be fair, I must admit I never even gave his work a chance.
I just avoided him whenever possible.

It wasn’t until we actually started thinking about this project
last spring and I actually started LISTENING to some very good,
vintage dramatizations of his plays that I actually “got it”.
They were downright good. In fact, I really started enjoying
them once I got used to them and “into” the proper frame of mind.
Even our kids have even been enjoying them
(especially the creepy ones like Macbeth).

I think it is kind of like “training your
palate” when trying a new food… you have to take a few
small bites and train your palate a little at a time… and
after a while, you find yourself accustomed to, and
even enjoying that new “taste”. Better late than never, huh?

Anyway, I suspect more than a few of you can relate to
my long-held (but admittedly flawed) reservations.
I’d really like to ask you to take a second
to let us know what YOU think of Shakespeare… so we
will know precisely what study resources we should include
in this new collection that will
be useful for other folks in the same boat.

So… it’s survey time again!
We’ve put together a quick little survey to get your input
on this. Here’s the link:

click here!

If you have a minute or two, please give us your thoughts, one
way or another, about getting to know - or trying to avoid -
Mr. Shakespeare.

We’d really appreciate it, and it will help us a bunch in
fine tuning this collection.

In return, we again have a little “thank you” present ready for you
in exchange your help. Will your kids like it? Oh yes.

Again, we really appreciate your help and support… thanks so much!

Best Wishes,
The Erskine Family
www.homeschoolradioshows.com

Lightly Tripping the Light Fantastic

Monday, September 11th, 2006

This has been a super busy week for us here at the homestead, as we spent most of it in Munfordville making sure our Civil War Days festival came off as it should (I’m the co-chair of this annual event). It turned out there were only a few minor fires to put out this year. The weather was great, our crowds were huge, the craftspeople were happy, the re-enactors were here in abundance, and the Battle of the Bridge was won amidst much crowd-pleasing cannon fire and cavalry charges by both the north AND the south (the North on Saturday and the South on Sunday. Equal time, you know).
The 52nd Regimental String Band, the premiere Civil War Dancing Band in the Country
Saturday night was our “famous Blue / Grey Ball”, held in the huge tent pitched next to our courthouse, with the wonderful 52nd Regimental String Band (pictured above) providing the music and dance instruction. Now, I must confess I have NEVER danced in public, and normally never would… EXCEPT for the Blue / Grey Ball. There, each year, I am forced to dance the Virginia Reel, the Sweetheart Promenade and Patty-Cake-Polka for three hours straight by my adoring wife and daughter who insist on dancing every dance. While I am hardly light on my feet, we’ve been doing these dances enough years now that we look like we know what we’re doing… and this year I even was told we were pretty good at it too. Come on down next year and check us out.