Research

We’re in A+ Book Territory

We are in A+ Book territory!  Sometimes we’re lucky and every book on the nightly agenda is so first-rate that we can’t wait to get started.  Do we think every book is dandy?  Ha.  Frankly, about half of the books we start do NOT get finished.  If they are dull or poorly edited we give them a quiet farewell, and sort of feel bad about tossing them in the give-away box for the next charity drive.  But this week, we are in A+ Book Territory!

a-books

A+ for “Grammar-Land” – what an entertaining book we have found in “Grammar-Land” written by M.L. Nesbitt in – GET THIS – 1877! (never fear, reprinted/available from Amazon).  M.L. Nesbitt must have had so much fun writing this, and as we get caught up in the grammar court room cleverness, we are being drilled over and over with grammar rules. We are getting smarter! Oh my gosh, I was so nervous about last night’s topic – we were tackling “the nominative case” – which ended up being ridiculously easy.  I have reviewed many supposedly “fun” grammar books, which are decidedly NOT.  This one: A+.

A+ for the “DK Eyewitness Book: North American Indian” – we continue our Native North American unit and this book is providing a decent introduction for our survey.  We have admired the sleek design of birch bark canoes, we have learned a bit about the Iroquois League (5 tribes that worked together, under the guidance of a council made up of men – who were chosen by elder tribe WOMEN!!!), and last night, we read through a most interesting mini sketch of Tecumseh.  Two thumbs up for this reference (A+)!

A+ for “The Memory of an Elephant” – We are enjoying this quirky book about elephants by Sophie Strady, gloriously illustrated by Jean-Francois Martin, so the news of the week – the announcement by Ringling Brothers of the imminent close of their circus – caught our attention.  So much to talk about – the skilled performers, the death-defying acts, circus snacks, circus parades, circus music, and then a thoughtful discussion about the realities of “freak exhibits” and circus animals (including a mention about PETA and their role in forcing the circus to retire their elephants).  This book: conversation provoker!  A+!

bookshelf

Story Problem – Too many books in Farmer Brown’s library – Farmer Brown has run out of storage room, so he has decided clean out his book shelves.  He has found 40 hardcover books and 50 paperback books to donate to a charity. He has determined that the worth of each hardcover book is $7, and the worth of each paperback is $3.  How much will Farmer Brown be able to tell his CPA that he has donated in books?  My son did the computation in his head:
A) $90      B) $430      C) $730      D) $900 (answer at bottom of post)

calliope-b9bgj1

Circus Music Classics – Even though the Ringling Brothers Circus is about to be a thing of the past, we will always love these attention grabbing compositions:

Entry of the Gladiators – composed in 1897 by Julius Fucik.  As I wrote in August 2015, Fucik had quite an interest in the Roman Empire.  He did NOT intend for this composition to be used as a circus SCREAMER (how can you not love this term?????) (a “screamer” is an invigorating circus march).  Is this not THE music that should be blaring in elementary school halls on the first day of school?

Sabre Dance – Aram Khachaturian’s Sabre Dance, composed in 1942, is the definitive go-to music for any and all knife throwing attractions.  We found a simply outstanding performance of this edge-of-your-seat music (and we would do anything to be part of this percussion section):

The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze – composed by Lyle and Lee in 1867 to glorify Jules Leotard, a French acrobat who developed the art of the trapeze AND AS IF THAT WEREN’T ENOUGH, he invented the 1-piece form-fitting knitted gym suit: the leotard.  An extremely popular song for decades! (But I guess not in this decade – last weekend, I was at a leadership workshop, singing with a group of 80 bright collegians, and I was stunned to discover that NOT A ONE OF THEM was familiar with the circus music classics.  REALLY?  NOT ON MY WATCH – I made them listen over and over to “The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze”)

Welcome to the best part of my day!
Jane BH
(story problem answer: B) $430)

Second Time Around

blue moon       blue moon

July 2, 2015                       July 31, 2015

Blue Moon!  My son and I observed the blue moon on the final evening of July.  We learned that the term “blue moon” (the second full moon, if there are 2 full moons in one month) (very rare) does not refer to the moon’s color, but rather to the centuries-old phrase, “once in a blue moon” (something that occurs with preposterous infrequency).  For the vocab list: lunar.  And preposterous.

dictionary best

Our first research project!  The question was, “which letter of the alphabet begins the greatest number of words and which letter of the alphabet begins the fewest number of words?”.  My son guessed that the most words started with “E” and the fewest number of words started with “Z”. We used a real (non-electronic) dictionary and simple subtraction to find the number of pages (2 letters per night). We saved “E” and “Z” for the final night (he was pretty darn close with the “Z” choice). This was such a simple assignment, but surprisingly, it started a number of conversations. We want to do another research project!

The tally, in order of most words to fewest:  S with 167 pages, C, P, T, A, M, B, D, R, F, E with 52 pages, H, I, G, W, O, N, V, U, L with only 15 pages (this was a surprise, we thought there would be loads of “L” words), J, K, Q, Y, Z with 3 pages, X with 2 pages.

applewhites books

What we were reading this past week –

  • “Albert Einstein”: two thumbs up for this DK Biography by Frieda Wishinsky (regretfully, we have been disappointed with several DK books, but this one is excellent).
  • “The Merchant of Venice” (Shakespeare, obviously): we are reading a retelling of the play by Charles and Mary Lamb (this is a complicated plot line, and this version is OK, not great, but OK).
  • “Surviving the Applewhites”: our fourth time through this novel by Stephanie S. Tolan. This book is a treasure! It is funny, it is quirky, it is a hot mess – and the message! Wow. It is all about the single-minded pursuit of one’s passion. LOVE THIS BOOK.
English-Breakfast-Tea-Tin-276x300   English-Breakfast-Tea-Tin-276x300

Breaking news (and story problem) from Le Fictitious Local Diner! No more baskets of mish-mashed teabag options at the diner!  The hot tea service is being classed up and now only English Breakfast Tea (regular or decaf) will be served.  The diner’s supplier sells a tin of 200 regular teabags for $35 and a tin of 200 decaf teabags for $40.  On an average, 150 customers drink hot tea every week, half of them drinking decaf. How many tins of each should the diner purchase every month? How much should be budgeted annually for the purchase of teabags?  If one fourth of the tea drinkers want a thin slice of lemon with their tea, and there are 8 slices per lemon, how many lemons should the diner have at the ready every week?

blue moon

Tunes for Blue Moons 

  • “Moonlight Serenade”, by Glenn Miller. HUGE hit in 1939.  HUGE.  This melody was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1991.  We talked about Glenn and listened for his trombone.

  • “Rhapsody in Blue”, by George Gershwin.  This piece was written for piano solo and jazz band, and was composed in one big hurry (5 weeks!), premiering in 1924.  We love this video, showcasing not only Leonard Bernstein at the piano, but also clarinet master Stanley Drucker.

  • “Clair de Lune” (the 3rd movement of his “Suite Bergamasque”) (we did not know that!), by Claude Debussy, published in 1905.  Soothing to the extreme.  This video clip features piano virtuoso, Claudio Arrau, and was recorded in 1991, when Arrau was 88!  This should give us all hope!

Welcome to the best part of my day!

– Jane BH