1939

Zootique

Animals all over the place – this week, all of our current reading seems to be focused upon les animaux.

animal books

First – the stunning “Animalium” by Katie Scott and Jenny Broom. The idea here is that the reader is walking through a natural history museum learning bits and pieces about biodiversity (vocab). Information is clearly presented, illustrations are sensational, and my son and I look forward to opening this book every night.  BTW, our favorite animal phylum so far?  Cephalopods (vocab).  Each member of this group is so very weird.

Then“This Side of Wild”, a new book by Gary Paulson, a favorite author of ours.  We have read his “Hatchet” many times, and the follow-up stories, “The River” and “Brian’s Winter”.  This book is autobiographical (vocab), with Mr. Paulson writing about his relationships with several animals.  Side note: due to something Mr. Paulson had written, we were provoked to view a youtube video demonstrating how to use “anti-bear” spray. Yikes. (More zigzag learning. LOVE it!) (and this video is surprisingly excellent).

Finally – we are are working our way through Ogden Nash’s book of poems, “Zoo”.  Each of his funny, astute (vocab) poems seems to need an explanation, so each becomes a conversation starter.  This book is delicious.

alphabet in chalk

Language Arts Class is now in session

– A few nights ago, my son and I used “Mad Libs” to work on parts of speech.  I don’t think my son saw this as a tremendously hilarious activity, but it was a passable diversion.

– As for even more new vocabulary – so many concept pairings from our animal unit: Matriarch/Patriarch, Predator/Prey, Carnivore/Herbivore, Bones/Cartilage

laminating machine

New menus at Le Fictitious Local Diner!  We worked our way through a really involved story problem last night: the diner is printing up new menus and they can’t decide whether to pay to have the menus laminated or to purchase a laminator and do the job themselves.  A laminator can be purchased for $200, and a package of 100 plastic “pouches” costs $55.  It takes 30 seconds to run one menu through the machine. So:

1) if the diner wants to laminate 200 menus, how long will it take?

2) if a junior employee is paid $10 an hour, how much will be spent on the labor of running the menus through the laminator?

3) how much will the diner spend at the office supply store with the purchase of the laminating machine and the pouches?

4) how much will the diner spend on supplies and labor to laminate 200 menus?

5) if the local print shop will laminate the menus for 85 cents each, is it more cost effective for the diner to pay the print shop to do the laminating?

batowlraccoon

Music!  Inspired by the nocturnal (vocab) animals we’ve been reading about, we decided to find out what musical “Nocturnes” were all about. After listening to a few, we decided that a nocturne might be described as a mature version of a lullaby.  Then, I gave my son a list of events that might or might not be enhanced by a nocturne as background music…on the “NOT” list: a birthday party, on the “YES” list: many Robert Frost poems, like one of our favorites, “Good Hours” (which we reread).

  • “Nocturne No. 2” by Frederic Chopin, composed in 1832.  We learned that Chopin is considered the go-to composer for nocturnes, having completed 21 polished works.  No. 2 might be the most famous of all nocturnes and is used in SO many movies.

  • “Nocturne No. 3”, (also known as “Liebestraum”) (Love Dream) was composed by Franz Liszt in 1850.  This nocturne is neck and neck with Chopin’s No. 2 for nocturne popularity.

Yes, yes, yes, both quite reflective and beautiful, but then we played “Harlem Nocturne” and WELL, we were overwhelmed!  WOW.  Had to listen to it two more times in a row.

  • “Harlem Nocturne”, composed by Earle Hagen in 1939. Lush and SULTRY (vocab).  This is the music used for Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer (hard-boiled detective) TV series.  (I deemed it unnecessarily confusing to explain “hard-boiled detective”).  We listened to this recording by the Duke Ellington Orchestra and it is PERFECTION.  My, oh my.

Welcome to the best part of my day!

– Jane BH

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