The Moai of Easter Island – of course we wanted to learn about the carved heads (moai) of Easter Island (AKA Rapa Nui). Steadfast, benevolent, thoughtful in demeanor, some sporting jolly red hats, and of course, all preposterously large: what’s not to love? First, we found Easter Island on our globe – a remote tiny piece of land (a mere 64 square miles)(we discussed what 64 square miles would mean) in the Pacific Ocean (and FYI, a territory of Chile). Then we read through James Grant-Peterkin’s “A Companion to Easter Island” to learn about the the 900 moai that honor ancestors, guard the island, and perhaps mark areas near fresh water. We learned that –
- the island was formed by three volcanos and the moai were carved 500 to 800 years ago from solidified volcanic ash
- the method of transporting the cumbersome and weighty moai from quarry to specifically chosen places around the island remains a mystery
- Easter Island was officially declared a “World Heritage Site” (protected by international treaties) by the United Nations in 1995
- there are concerns by the scientific community that the island’s iconic statues nearest the shore line might sink into the ocean due to climate changes (storms, rising water levels)
The Lewis and Clark Expedition – our final thoughts after finishing “The Captain’s Dog” by Roland Smith: the endeavor was significantly more lengthly and challenging than anticipated, and SOMEHOW it succeeded. One word: LEADERSHIP. We discussed the extraordinary skills possessed by Captains Lewis and Clark in keeping their assembly of 31 healthy, fed, and motivated for the two and a half year trek – diplomacy, bartering, first aid competence, hunting, managing difficult personalities (Charbonneau, for one), map charting, journal keeping, river navigation, quick decision making. President Jefferson chose well. This venture could have gone so wrong.
More read-to-himself stories – In the last post I mentioned that I had started my son on a few “read-to-himself” short stories about family members. This activity kept his focus, so this past week he read and answered a few questions about:
– Holly’s San Francisco Cats
– How Mom and Dad Met
– When Ben Stopped Traffic
More and more learning –
- how does one get to be my age (dirt) and still not know the exact relationship between an ounce and a gram? So we BOTH learned that there are around 28 grams to 1 ounce. We breezed through a pretty good little kids book, “How Do You Measure Weight” by Thomas K. and Heather Adamson.
- we also reviewed basic time conventions: the 12-hour a.m./p.m. clock and the 24-hour military clock. (Vocab: Ante, Post, Meridiem)
We’re learning about opera! – every night we are reading one act from the 15 selected operas in “Sing Me a Story – The Metropolitan Opera’s Book of Opera Stories for Children” by Jane Rosenberg. And one act per night is plenty: the number of characters, disguises and deceptions worked into a single act is bewildering. This book does a commendable job of explaining each opera while keeping our interest (and it is a perfect resource for anyone, not just children). So far, we have read through Aida – Ahmal and the Night Visitors – The Barber of Seville – La Boheme – Carmen.
Story Problem: Opera music at Le Fictitious Local Diner – During the fall months, the local diner is hosting Italian Night every Friday. Three Italian cuisine specials are offered AND Chef George (opera aficionado) replaces every single jukebox selection with music from Verdi, Rossini, and Puccini. This is quite a project, as each table’s jukebox can offer up to 100 song titles. But we digress:
(1) Dinner is served at the diner from 5 until 11, and each aria (vocab) lasts an average of 4 minutes. If a typical patron is in the diner for 45 minutes, how many opera selections will said diner probably hear?
a) 11 songs b) 24 songs c) 45 songs d) 90 songs
(2) How many aria’s will be played from the start to conclusion of dinner service?
a) 11 arias b) 24 arias c) 45 arias d) 90 arias
(answers at bottom of post)
Our classical music for the week – we had no choice: we had to sample music from the operas we were reading about –
- Aida – we learned that Verdi was commissioned to compose SOMETHING to commemorate the opening of the Suez Canal. Aida premiered in 1871 (the canal opened in 1869). Here we watch the “Triumphal March” and WHAT A PRODUCTION. The first half has soldiers marching across the stage and there are so many of them that my son and I paused to wonder if there were really only a handful of soldier/actors that marched across the stage and then ran full speed across the backstage to reappear as more solders. Anyway, a very authoritative, majestic march:
- Barber of Seville – Rossini’s popular opera, which premiered in 1816, and we listened to one of the most popular songs in the entire opera repertoire, “Largo al factotum”. Lots of fun:
- La Boheme – Puccini’s heartbreaker opera, premiering in 1896. We listened to “Musetta’s Waltz”, after I explained to my son the term, “flirtatious”. That Musetta! A consummate flirt:
Welcome to the best part of my day!
– Jane BH
(Story problem answers: (1) a) 11 songs and (2) d) 90 arias)
P.S. We’re still here. I am hating the time gap since my last post (a series of holy disaster disruptions in our agenda), but we are still here, and we are still exploring new topics and reading stories every night.