Georges Bizet

A Ghost by any Other Name

marley ghost

A Christmas Carol – oh, how we would have liked to listen to Charles Dickens read aloud from his “A Christmas Carol”.  To hear the delicious phrasing verbalized as he would have envisioned.  The wording is difficult, so I am often repeating sentences to get the rhythm and meaning – but so worth the extra time; we are loving the book’s message.  We are midway through, currently reading about Scrooge’s encounter with the “Ghost of Christmas Present” (a bit of a talk about the difference between “Christmas Present” and “Christmas presents”).  And we are making a running list of the many ways Dickens can say the word, “ghost”.  So far:  spirit, specter, apparition, supernatural medium, shadow, and phantom.


joan of arc

A new academic unit – we are learning about Joan of Arc, via another outstanding book by Diane Stanley.  To set the stage, Stanley has written a clear description of the Hundred Years’ War that took place between England and France (the war began in 1337, 75 years before Joan of Arc was born).  We are learning that Joan was complex young lady – pious, brave, charismatic, single-minded (let’s just say it: pushy).  As I am reading this to my son, I cannot help but wonder what today’s world would have thought about Joan of Arc (the voices? the visions?).

trophy

NTC Champion!  We held the “Name the Continent” finals last night!  Our globe is practically a permanent resident in the STORIES AND STUDIES CENTER (my son’s bed); whatever we are reading, if a country is mentioned, we find it on the globe.  So, last night, I made up a long list of countries and had my son match each country with its continent.  A+! What can I say?  He knows where everything is.  He’s the NTC Champ!

brussels sproutssweet potatoesgreen beans

Farmer Brown’s Thanksgiving food prep story problem – Farmer Brown has grown all of the vegetables that he is bringing to the family Thanksgiving gathering.  He is bringing his famous steamed Brussels sprouts sautéed in browned butter, his famous green beans with bacon and onion, and his famous sticky sweet potato casserole with candied lemon slices.  It takes Farmer Brown 45 minutes to prepare the sprouts for steaming, 1 hour and 15 minutes to trim the green beans, 25 minutes to prepare the bacon and onion, and 15 minutes to prepare the sweet potatoes for each casserole (for which there are 4).  The good news is that he has two assistants who work just as quickly as he does.  How long will it take the three of them to get the vegetables prepped?
france

Listening to Music – after a brief and sober discussion about the recent unthinkable evilness in Paris, we paid tribute to French heritage by listening to three reflective pieces written by French composers:

  • “The Swan” from “Carnival of the Animals” by Camille Saint-Saens. This was composed in 1887 for piano and cello. It is a soulful, pensive piece. This video showcases Yo-Yo Ma, so we are listening to the best.

  • The “Carillon” from “L’Arlesienne”, by Georges Bizet, composed in 1872. About one minute into the piece, the flute section takes over, and this is the part that tugs at our hearts – the sorrow, the regret, the wistfulness.  It is all there in the music.

  • “La Vie En Rose”, certainly the iconic Parisian melody, written and popularized by chanteuse (prettiest word of the month) Edith Piaf in 1945. Louis Armstrong made a well-loved recording of this, but we wanted to listen to the original voice (this is OLD film footage).

Welcome to the best part of my day!

– Jane BH

A Test of Faith

...possibly my worst photo ever.  Sorry!  The subject matter wouldn't cooperate.

…possibly my worst photo ever. Sorry! The subject matter wouldn’t cooperate.

A test of faith – This past week we completed our “Religions of the World” unit, using an Usborne book as a reference.  It was time to test and see what my son had retained.  I set up the iPad for a multiple choice quiz, and presented him with 30 questions regarding Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Sikhism.  Chalk up another A+.  Yay!

Incidental learning: Thermometers – While we were driving around the other day and the car thermometer read 37 degrees, I wondered if my son knew about temperatures.  So that night, we began a small study of temperatures and thermometers. We found a neat website: www.metric-conversions.org, offering loads of interesting facts with brief, understandable explanations.  We learned the difference between Celsius and Fahrenheit and how to convert from one to the other.  We learned that only the Bahamas, Belize, the Cayman Islands, Palau (Palau? We had to find this on the globe), the USA and its territories use the Fahrenheit system.  Consider us informed on the matter.

New academic unit – I am sorry to write that the chemistry unit we began crashed and burned by night number three. Darn book. When I don’t know what the author is talking about on page one, I start to think that this is not a book for us.  After shunning the chemistry book, we tried out a book on “Oceans of the World” and found conflicting sentences in the first paragraph, so we bypassed that resource, too.  This does not mean we are through with these units, it just means we are seeking the right books. (So many, many sub-standard learning materials out there.  How do they even get published?  Sigh.)

Not to be discouraged, we read through a few pages of “A Young Reader’s Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by Adam McKeown.  Excellent!  We are loving this book. We are going slowly so we can keep all the characters straight.

3 books

Novels – Two worthy Newberry award recipients: “Hatchet” and “Flora and Ulysses”

  • Continuing on with “Hatchet”, by Gary Paulsen.  There is nothing original I can say about this important book.  There is a reason it is on so many reading lists.
  • “Flora and Ulysses”, by Kate DiCamillo (everything she writes is so great).  Things we’ve had to investigate while reading this book: CPR, near-death experiences (seeing the “white light”), the words “malfeasance” and “cynic”.  I love books that push us into further learning.

fleur de lis

Our music theme last night focused upon the work of French composers – I provided my son a list of compositions by the French composers that we are familiar with: Bizet, Debussy, Delibes, Gounod, Offenbach, and Saint-Saens.  He selected:

  • “The Infernal Galop”, (the “Can Can”) by Jacques Offenbach, what’s not to like?
  • “Clair de Lune”, by Claude Debussy, the soothing music we needed.
  • “March of the Toreadors”, (from “Carmen”) by Georges Bizet…a rather unusual rendition with bottles and a guy on skates.  Why not?

Welcome to the best part of my day!

– Jane BH