Were we learning about date palms, date shakes, perfect dates, or perfectly awful dates? Uh, no.
B.C./B.C.E. – A.D./C.E. – My son and I keep running into the acronyms (new vocab word) “BCE” and “CE” during our academic studies. Last night we decided to find out what the letters mean. We learned that BCE (“before common era”) and CE (“common era”) refer to time periods that match up exactly with the traditional BC (“Before Christ”) and AD (“Anno Domini”). In other words, the date 335 BC is the same as the date 335 BCE. Likewise, the date 1990 AD means the same thing as 1990 CE. The terms BCE and CE have been in widespread use for the past 20 years, but we learned they have actually been around for over 300 years. We like to know stuff like this.
More Shakespeare – We have enjoyed reading adaptations of “MacBeth”, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, and “Hamlet”, so we are now reading a retelling of “Romeo and Juliet”, by Adam McKeown. McKeown does an excellent job of introducing characters and storylines at a pace we can process, and he makes us eager to read the real plays. I think you can imagine why we aren’t starting off with the plays themselves – we want to be familiar with the basic plots, characters, and motivations before Shakespeare’s spellbinding words mesmerize us.
The Thespian Masks – How can we read about Shakespeare without understanding the basics of “comedy” and “tragedy”? I gave my son a list of ridiculous situations and had him decide if each circumstance fell into a comic or tragic category, then I showed him thespian (new vocab word) comedy and tragedy masks, the concept of which originated from the dramas of ancient Greece around 335 BC (or shall we say, 335 BCE).
Novels – We continue to read, “The Way to Stay in Destiny” by Augusta Scattergood – still really like picking up this book every night. And this past week, we began a re-read of one of our old favorites, “Schooled” by Gordon Korman (important read, heartwarmer read).
Our Farmer Brown Story Problem – Offspring in the spring! Farmer Brown’s ranch is home to 20 ewes. This spring, half gave birth to twins, a fifth gave birth to quadruplets, and the rest had a single lamb each. How many sweet lambs does Farmer Brown have now?
Last night’s music theme was “Benjamin Franklin in France” – We used the N.C. Wyeth poster on my son’s wall, of a young Benjamin Franklin, as inspiration. We decided to focus upon the years Ben Franklin served as US Ambassador to France (1776 – 1785). We know he was well-entertained in France, and this must certainly have included symphonic concerts and opera productions. It is so likely that he heard these:
- Mozart – Overture to the Abduction from the Seraglio (1782). This is the composition that provoked Austrian Emperor Joseph II (maybe a bit short on the musical smarts) to remark that there were “too many notes” in the piece. My son and I think the brilliant and far more musically inclined Ben Franklin would have loved this overture!
- Bach – The Coffee Cantata (1735), a way-fun work that pits a father against his strong-willed daughter, fighting over her excessive consumption of coffee. We think Ben Franklin, a known coffee enthusiast, would have been amused by this mini comic opera.
- Haydn – Symphony No. 45, “The Farewell Symphony” (1772). This is a symphony we want to see in person, because a most interesting thing happens in movement 4…entire sections of the orchestra sneak away, a bit at a time. By the conclusion, only the conductor and the concertmaster are left. We hope Mr. Franklin didn’t miss this!
Welcome to the best part of my day!
– Jane BH