Fly By


Well, look who came visiting.  This gorgeous hawk swooped down yesterday and perched on our fence for some 20 minutes. So, of course we had to read about hawks last night. Most interesting fact:  the people of ancient Egypt believed the hawk (Horus) to be a guardian of the pharaoh, and therefore was considered sacred.


Check out the cool hawk headwear!

We continue to read: “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”.  As of last night, Dorothy and crew had just entered the territory of the Wicked Witch of the West.  So entertaining, and like all books that become movies, so different from the movie.

We continue our study of cats:  we are reading from another DK Eyewitness book, “CATS”, and it is another well done effort.  Maybe too well done?  If there is one thing our book stresses (seriously, page after page), it is how much cats are interested in spreading their scent around. (Like I want to keep reading about THAT) (but I act like it is no big deal/part of nature’s plan/circle of life, etc.) (even though it is gross).

Because it is January: we talked about New Year’s Resolutions, so our Farmer Brown Story Problem revolved around such resolutions. Here comes a semi-troublesome division problem – there are 15 adults in Farmer Brown’s extended family and they have each made a New Year’s Resolution for the past 10 years. If only one person kept one resolution one year, what percentage of the total efforts were successful?



Our Music Theme: Putting an illustration to music – “Pirate Chief”.   This is the first time we’ve tried this: I had my son select one of the posters on his wall, then we put together a music program that would bring the artwork to life. He chose the kicking-butt-and-taking-names “Pirate Chief” by Howard Pyle (Howard Pyle was not only a most important American illustrator, he was also an influential teacher/mentor of the likes of N.C. Wyeth).  Hey!  This was fun!  I think we will set another poster to music in a few weeks.

  • “The Maid of Amsterdam” (sometimes known as “A-Roving”), a lusty sea chantey, just the type of thing that pirates, or anyone with access to a bottle of rum, would want to sing.
  • Overture to “The Flying Dutchman”, by Richard Wagner. This is a fave for children’s orchestras.  The story of the opera (cursed man on a ghost ship) is intriguing, the music is motivating, and every instrument gets a crucial part to play
  • “Pirates of the Caribbean Suite”, by Klaus Badelt.  This is consummate sea storms-and-skullduggery pirate music.  The video footage of a performance in Vienna has an added bonus – composer Klaus Badelt is seated in the audience.

Welcome to the best part of my day!

– Jane BH

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