The Vatican – our new unit! We are Catholic, so the Vatican seemed a logical subject of inquiry. We’re reading from the August 2015 issue of National Geographic and “The Incredible Book of Vatican Facts and Papal Curiosities” by Nino Lo Bello. Here is what has IMMEDIATELY captured our attention: THE SWISS GUARDS. Wow. BEST UNIFORMS EVER. Here is what we have learned about the Swiss Guards – there are around 100 guards at any one time, with sole responsibility for guarding Vatican City and the Pope. The basic requirements for becoming a guard: single male Catholic between the ages of 19 – 30, with Swiss citizenship and Swiss military training. Very, very cool. And, again, those GREAT uniforms (we learned that it takes about 32 hours to sew up one of these splendid striped ensembles)!
Stephen Hawking said it – so far, Stephen Hawking and his daughter, Lucy, have written 3 remarkable novels for youthful minds about (what else) outer space. We are on book three, “George and the Big Bang”. Every so often, there is a break in the story for a few pages of facts and theories. As far as we are concerned, if Stephen Hawking said it, we are getting the most up-to-date information, un-doctored up and un-watered down. These books are important. We are augmenting the Hawking novel with “The Moon” by Seymour Simon. Lovely book, thought provoking photographs.
Farmer Brown looks to the heavens and thinks about buying a telescope! From one of our story problems of last week – Farmer Brown was so fascinated viewing the Perseid meteor shower last week that he realized his farm hands might enjoy having a telescope to view the night sky. He has found a beginner type telescope for $300. State sales tax is 8.25% and shipping will run $21.00. How much will Farmer Brown spend if he wishes to purchase 2 telescopes? If Farmer Brown wants speedier delivery he will pay an additional $15 per item. What will this bring the total to?
Music time – Negro Spirituals. What sobering and inspiring listening. But what great songs! Written by slaves pre-civil war, we learned that spirituals were prayers about the rewards awaiting in heaven and coded encouragement for escaping the chains of forced servitude. My son and I had a serious talk about the inexcusable wrongness of slavery.
- “Down by the Riverside” – this timeless spiritual became a signature song for Vietnam War protesters of the 1970’s. This video clip features Sister Rosetta Tharpe. What a treasure.
- “Wade in the Water” – we love this arrangement sung by Oakwood University students. Refreshing, energetic, outstanding.
- “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” – I don’t see how anybody could watch this video and not weep (well, my son didn’t weep, but he was captivated) (I wept). It showcases operatic lyric soprano Kathleen Battle and the Boys Choir of Harlem. It is just so beautiful. Also noted: “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” is the anthem of the national rugby union team of England. That’s weird.
Welcome to the best part of my day!
– Jane BH