Othello

Jams and Jellyfish

jams

Preserves – I know a whole slew of people that don’t know the difference between a conserve, a jam, a marmalade, and a jelly…So I assumed correctly that my son (who limits himself to a regimented diet that has never included any sort of preserves), might not know the difference either.  We read through some luscious sounding definitions, took a little matching quiz, and attempted a taste test at our late-night snack time.  You would think that we had a little momentum going, and after all, what’s not to like about apricot jam and grape jelly?  Yet, surprise, surprise – another classic food-trial fail.  He wouldn’t try a bite.  Don’t worry, I am not discouraged in the least.  Sometimes (maybe once out of every 85 tries) something like this works!  We are a patient people.  A patient people, now with a fully-stocked preserves pantry.

Jellyfish book    jellyfish

Drawing Jellyfish – Have you seen this book, “20 Ways to Draw a Jellyfish” by Trina Dalziel?  Way fun!  So here is what we have been doing: drawing a lot of jellyfish, or “sea jellies”, or just “jellies” (all the same thing).  Such a satisfying drawing activity – first the “oral arms” (squiggly and completely gross), then the big bubble on top, and then the wiry tentacles.  Drawing jellyfish provoked us to learn something about them:  1) there are jellyfish in every ocean on earth, 2) there are jellyfish at every level of the ocean, 3) there are jellyfish of every size.  Fossils reveal that jellyfish have been around for between 500 and 700 million years, making them the oldest multi-organ residents of planet Earth.  Great use of our STORIES AND STUDIES time.

othello book

Othello Update – Well, we can’t all have the same opinion.  Those following the blog know that this play has been difficult for me to read through, due to Shakespeare’s perfectly crafted villain, Iago.  However, my son is apparently riveted: twice now, as I have been about to close the book for the night, my son’s hand has come slapping down onto the page, in essence saying, “KEEP READING”.  Wow.  He likes it!  He is paying attention!  He is communicating effectively!  I love it!

Story Problem from Le Fictitious Local Diner – Exciting doings at the diner! The bathrooms are being remodeled, and the designer is driving the contractor crazy. The designer is very picky about the tile that is being installed, accepting only 2 out of every 6 tiles shown. There are 12 tiles in each box. How many boxes will the designer paw through before finding 80 tiles that win approval?

piccolo, flute, clarinet

     – The Piccolo: the tag-along kid sister to the Clarinet and Flute –

Music Theme:  Shrill Thrills! – Last night we showcased the piccolo!  The shrieking, sky-high, clean-out-your-ears-through-next-week, teeny tiny piccolo!  The selections we chose would be so lacking and so unfinished if it were not for the piccolo.

  • Tchaikovsky’s “Chinese Dance” from “The Nutcracker Ballet”, premiered in 1892.  We enjoyed this darling segment danced by the Royal Ballet (somewhere in Russia – I can’t decipher the descriptive Cyrillic script) (I can only do so much).

  • Respighi’s “Triton Fountain in the Morning” from his symphonic poem, “Fountains of Rome”, which premiered in 1917.  This sparkling, spritely movement opens with piercing exuberance, courtesy of the piccolo.  Sorry, the video footage is not all that one would wish (but the music is A+).

  • John Philip Sousa’s “The Stars and Stripes Forever”, composed Christmas Day 1896, and declared “National March of the United States of America” by act of the U.S. Congress in 1987 (wow, 91 years later; talk about a slow process).  This excellent video stars the US Army Field Band, and as is traditional, the piccolo section stands for the most stirring passage.

Welcome to the best part of my day!

– Jane BH

The Cliffs Notes Version

A neat friend of mine named Mary, teaches special ed. (Lucky class.  Lucky school.  Luckier than they know.)  She follows this blog, and she asked for some ideas about setting up a learning-at-home program, should any parents of her autism students express interest.  So, I am going to pretend that I have been hired by the CliffsNotes people to pare down my basic teaching philosophies:

cliffs notes

  • teach anything YOU (the parent) want to learn*
  • read stories and poems that YOU should have read during your childhood*
  • listen to music that YOU have been wanting to hear*

(I find that when I brim with enthusiasm over a particular topic or book, my son catches the spirit and he brims with enthusiasm, too.  I have an eager learner on my hands!)

  • teach FAST!  One or two pages is often PLENTY, then move on to a totally different topic
  • be on the lookout for unfamiliar words, then STOP RIGHT THEN AND THERE and look the word up
  • give lots of quizzes to check on YOUR ability to convey facts (and hopefully to give a lot of pretend “A+”s)

That’s it.  That’s my CliffsNotes version.

For the practicalities, one might read my first two posts ( July 2014), “In Which We Introduce Ourselves” and “In Which We Explain Our “Stories and Studies” Nightly Agenda”.  These can be found in “About”, on the blog title menu strip.

4 books May 15

Here is what we’ve been doing this past week:

  • Othello – we continue reading through the plots of Shakespeare’s plays…we are in the middle of “Othello” and we have had it up to here with that deceitful rat, Iago.
  • To make up for the dreadfulness of Iago, we are reading a biography on the splendid John Muir.  What a good guy.
  • We continue to read “Schooled” by Gordon Kormon.  Probably our 4th time through this novel.  We love it.
  • We are about a third of the way through “A Long Way from Chicago”, by Richard Peck.  OH MY GOSH, this book is marvelous! (Two kids spend a week every summer with their “law-unto-herself” grandmother).  This book is a keeper!

root beer float

A story problem from Le Fictitious Local Diner – the diner is sponsoring “Barbershop Quartet Night” and plans to serve up root beer floats for the occasion.  Tickets for this not-to-be-missed event will sell for $10, and will include a float.  If each root beer float costs the diner $1.50 to make, and $200 is being spent on decorations, the speaker system, and prizes, how much profit will the diner realize if 200 tickets are sold?

Our music program last night:  barbershop quartets to enhance the story problem – 

  • “Sincere”, from Meredith Wilson’s “The Music Man” (1957).  Sung in the 1962 movie version by the peerless Buffalo Bills.

  • “Mr. Sandman”, written by Pat Ballard in 1954. A barbershop quartet standard, performed by the Dapper Dans at Disneyland, using Deagan Organ Chimes (very interesting instrument!).

  • And finally, for fun, and to support the endeavors of youth, we watched “The Barbershop Quartet, a How-To Guide”.  The kids are just great (and their ill fitting costumes and hats are still making us laugh).

Welcome to the best part of my day!

– Jane BH