The Price Is Wrong!

Money Talk – My son is way out of the commerce loop, so I wondered if he had any sort of grasp on what things cost. I gave a multi-choice quiz last night to probe, and asked about the cost of such things as a car, a carton of orange juice, a haircut, a house, an iPod, and the cost of admission to Disneyland.


Just as I suspected, he has no idea, so we are going to work on this. I will start bringing the newspaper’s automotive section, real estate section, and grocery store circulars to STORIES AND STUDIES. We will thumb through the sections to get ideas of prices.  Please let this be more interesting than I am projecting.

The Clock Unit – There is a lot to learn about clocks (sun dials, water clocks, hour glasses, weights, springs, pendulums), and the book we just finished covers the clock development time-line rather well. I am sorry to say that the author lost our attention by repeatedly inserting unfamiliar terms (without explanation) into his text.  The illustrations are really nice, but alas, we were not sad to turn the final page of this book.  Our next unit is “Wonders of the World” and I am pretty excited! (hope springs eternal)

Our Science Unit – from the “Usborne Book of Scientists” we continued learning about THE FIGHT AGAINST DISEASE.   Last night: RABIES! Tonight: GERMS!  What can I say? Awesome.

Novel – We finished “Under the Egg” by Laura Marx Fitzgerald.  Good book for us: well written and we learned bits about World War II, the Renaissance painter Raphael, oil paint chemistry, the concept of self-reliance, AND the ending was most satisfying.

Our “Le Fictitious Local Diner” Story Problem – Last night’s story problem dealt with the number of sweet potato and marshmallow casseroles needed by the diner for Thanksgiving. For silliness, we calculated the exact number of mini marshmallows required to fit atop each casserole (new vocab word).


Music Theme – Pizzicato!  Pizzicato,  for those who were deprived of any sort of musical education due to school districts slashing funds from the fine arts departments, is the technique of plucking a stringed instrument, rather than bowing. Neat sound – always sounds like sneaky tiptoeing.

  • Leo Delibes’ “Divertissement – Pizzicati” from his ballet, “Sylvia”.  A short and sweet classic.
  • Tchaikovsky’s “Symphony 4, movement III”.  This could be background music for people tiptoeing madly about getting ready for a surprise party.  I am pretty sure this is what Tchaikovsky had in mind.
  • Edvard Grieg’s “Anitra’s Dance” from his “Peer Gynt Suite”.  It’s pizzicato city as ALL of the orchestra’s stringed instruments (violin, viola, cello, and bass) get to take turns plucking away.  And if that weren’t enough, Grieg has composed a deliciously sinister melody that brings to mind robbers and thieves darting in and out of dark places.

Welcome to the best part of my day!

– Jane BH

A Fanfare for the Water Bear

water bear

Water Bears? Last night we finished “Professor Astro Cat’s Frontiers of Space” but not before this wonderful book tantalized us with a few facts about water bears. Do you know about water bears?  Water bears look like cousins of those icky dust mites that mattress companies use to scare you into purchasing a new bed. I have included a link (about water bears, not mattress critters) so you can see for yourselves. Interesting and borderline gross.  Two thumbs up from my son.

Here is why astro-scientists want to know about water bears: they are the hardiest organisms on earth. They can live in extreme temps (-300 degrees F to +300 degrees F), they are unfazed by high pressure, low pressure, or radiation, they can be completely dehydrated and then years later resuscitated, and they can exist in outer space without protective covering.  All hail the indestructible water bear!

Tick Tock: time for a new unit – we are starting to study the concepts of time and clocks. This looks like a cool topic, but we loved “Professor Astro Cat’s Frontiers of Space” so much, I am afraid that any unit tackled after that book would pale in comparison. Bummer for the clocks.

We Read:  we are more than half way through “Under the Egg” by Laura Marx Fitzgerald. This is the perfect type of book for my son, with intrigue and friendship woven into the complex plot-line, AND we have learned so much – about the paintings of Renaissance painter Raphael, about the Monuments Men of WWII, and last night, about the people-locating resources of various holocaust museums. It is hard to put this book away at the end of each chapter.

Our Le Fictitious Local Diner Story Problem: The local diner sells lots of pumpkin, apple, and pecan pies in November (but not mince, because the chef thinks mince pies are just awful). If the diner sells 80 pies the week before Thanksgiving, and 60% are apple, how many apple pies are we talking about?  If the diner is planning to bake 150 pies for Thanksgiving week, using the same percentage, how many apple pies should be prepared?

Our music theme for last night was “Fanfare for the Water Bear”.  Why not?  This invincible organism surely needs a glam theme song. One of these might be perfect:

  • “Water Music, Alla Hornpipe” from Handel’s “Water Music in D Major”– is this the perfect fanfare for the little super bug?  It was perfect for King George I as he cruised up and down the Thames.
  • “The Aquarium” from Saint-Saens’ “Carnival of the Animals” – for the water bear looking for dreamy relaxation music with a bit of star power (this music was used at the beginning of the “Beauty and the Beast” movie).
  • “The Wild Bears” from Sir Edward Elgar’s suite, “The Wand of Youth” – we LOVE the high voltage energy this piece. It scampers all over the place. Maybe this is the theme music for the bad boy water bear?

Welcome to the best part of my day!

– Jane BH