Respighi

C’mon in!

Here is where we study every night (my son’s bedroom).  Lots to look at.  All wall posters were selected by my son after studying about each scientist, statesman, inventor, artist, or topic – 

      

     

Here is what we have been studying –

“Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera – Their Lives and Ideas” by Carol Sabbeth.  We recently learned that a member of our extended family studied under Diego Rivera!  Say no more!  We immediately found “Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera”, an A+, very readable, well researched book about this independent thinking, irrepressible, never-a-dull-moment love (most of the time) match.  Takeaways:

  • Rivera was inspired by Jose Guadalupe Posada, who printed his etchings on inexpensive paper so he could sell them for pennies, making his art affordable for all.  This prompted Rivera to paint murals – his way of making art accessible for everyone.
  • Full of contradictions:  Rivera LOVED Mexico, was  a committed Communist (he assisted in hiding Leon Trotsky when he fled Russia to Mexico), but he also LOVED the big cities of the USA (spending months and months in San Francisco, Detroit, NYC).  
  • Got into big trouble for painting Vladimir Lenin into his mural in Rockefeller Center.  Got into big trouble for painting “God does not exist” into his mural for the Hotel del Prado in Mexico City.
  • Even though Kahlo and Rivera were extremely popular artists and had a devoted following, they alas, were not skilled money managers, so they had to paint, paint, paint to make ends meet.
  • Does my son like the subject matter, the strength, the rounded warmth, the empathy of Rivera’s art?  YES!  Outlook good for a Diego Rivera poster to be added to my son’s gallery.

And also –

“Earth-Friendly Buildings, Bridges and More”, by Etta Kaner.  Discussion provoking.

“In the Bag – Margaret Knight Wraps it Up”, by Monica Kulling, about the super smarty who, among her 90 inventions and 20 patents, developed a machine in 1870 to make a flat bottomed paper bag (the kind used by grocery stores, and 150 years later, still used by grocery stores).

Here is what we have been reading fiction-wise –

Hope was Here”, by Joan Bauer –  A captivating read that weaves waitressing, small town politics, a cancer diagnosis, self-reliance, and kindness into a book that we think is worth reading more than once.  We loved this book every single night.

All-of-a-Kind Family”, by Sydney Taylor –  We are enjoying 1) the author’s masterful character sketches of the 5 children and 2) comparing the differences between family life today and family life in the early 1900’s.

Farmer Brown Story Problem – C’mon in, have a cookie!  Last December, Farmer Brown sold 1,000 gingerbread man cookies at his roadside stand.  1,000!  Everyone in town just loves them!  He wants to sell even more this December.  His secret recipe requires 2 eggs to make 4 dozen gingerbread men.  How many eggs will Farmer Brown need to make at least 1,001 cookies?  

A).  12 eggs     B).  42 eggs     C).  144 eggs     D).  500 eggs

Is this more, less, or the same amount of eggs needed for 1,000 gingerbread men? (answers at bottom of post)

Sunday night studies?  C’mon in!  On Sunday nights we conclude our learning time with music that is spiritual in nature.  The top 10 pieces we have listened to dozens and dozens and dozens of times:

  • Ave Maria, Jacques Arcadelt, mid 1500’s
  • Gloria in D major, Vivaldi, early 1700’s
  • Go Down Moses, African American spiritual, mid 1800’s 
  • How Great Thou Art, Carl Boberg, 1885
  • Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho, African American spiritual, early 1800’s
  • Let Us Cheer the Weary Traveler, Nathaniel Dett, 1926
  • Sheep May Safely Graze, Bach, 1713 
  • Tender Shepherd (Peter Pan musical), Moose Charlop (my new favorite name), 1954
  • The Dove, Respighi, 1928
  • Turn! Turn! Turn!, Pete Seeger, 1959, popularized in 1965 by The Byrds

And my son’s definite favorite three?

  • Turn! Turn! Turn! – the lyrics come straight from chapter 3 of Ecclesiastes (except for the words, “turn, turn, turn”.).  This song was a favorite staple of the hippie era –

  • How Great Thou Art – set to the music of a Swedish traditional tune.  My son loves this Alan Jackson version –

  • Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho – what a brilliantly conceived arrangement (from the Nathaniel Dett Chorale)!  Thank heavens the song only mentions the walls tumbling down, because after the walls came-a-tumbling down, Jericho found itself in a world of hurt:  lots of mayhem and bloodshed, LOTS.  

BTW, you do NOT want to miss the next blog post (#150!!!!!).  Prepare now for THE GENERAL KNOWLEDGE QUIZ!

Welcome to the best part of my day!
– Jane BH
(story problem answers:  B).  42 eggs.  Farmer Brown will need the same amount of eggs to make 1,001 gingerbread men as he will to make 1,000.)

 

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

Things that go bump in the night

beebee raccoons

Our Easter Evening Event:  As our family gathered to reflect upon a lovely Easter day, tranquility was interrupted by sudden bumps and scraping sounds coming from the attic. A quick look revealed a mama raccoon tending sweet, sweet “kits” amid the attic insulation.  This propelled my son and me to begin a mini-study on raccoons.  We found out that they are native to North America, they are “omnivores”, and they are “nocturnal” (that is why we didn’t hear them moving around during the day).  A happy ending to the day:  new vocab words for my son, and mama and babies are now enjoying their new home in a safe wooded area of the local golf course.

We thought the phrase, “things that go bump in the night” perfectly described our Easter Evening Event.  We learned that the words come from an old Scottish prayer –

“From ghoulies and ghosties

And long-legged beasties

And things that go bump in the night,

Good Lord, deliver us!”

Zigzag Learning (where we let one topic lead us to another at lightning speed): Julia Rothman’s excellent book, “Nature Anatomy” started the learning chain this time. We were looking at her illustrations of butterflies, and we took particular notice of a “swallowtail” butterfly. My son needed to know why swallowtail butterflies were called swallowtail butterflies.

 swallowtail     swallows white background     capistrano swallows     swallowtail tux

  • So first, we looked at several photos of swallows. We saw how the birds’ pointy, forked feather tails could easily have inspired the animal naming committee to call butterflies with the tiny drip on the hindwings, “swallowtails”.
  • Then, we decided to read about the swallows of the San Juan Capistrano Mission (with a short-side trip to learn a bit about the California mission system). We found out that the swallows spend the winter in Argentina and the summer in southern California.
  • So now, we had to locate Argentina on the globe, and think about the iron-strong muscles in the birds’ wings, that allow them to fly the 6,000 miles.
  • Finally, we had to see how the swallows have had their way in fashion: we looked at men’s clothing from the Victorian era – the formal tailcoat, with “cutaway”, “swallowtail” or “morning coat” options.

That’s a lot of learning from one little butterfly.

Our music theme for last night – “Cuckoo for Music”. We considered the two-note cuckoo motif and then listened to three neat compositions:

  • “Organ Concerto No. 13 (The Cuckoo and the Nightingale)”, movement 2, by Handel (1740).  About one minute twenty seconds into the movement you can definitely make out the cuckoo motif.  This piece really moves right along. Classic Handel.  Fabulous pipe organ in this video!

  • “Symphony 6 (The Pastoral)”, movement 2, by Beethoven (1808). This is a long movement (around 13 minutes of happy, relaxing gorgeousness) (and this video clip has Leonard Bernstein conducting and one should NEVER miss an opportunity to watch Bernstein conduct).  The bird sounds aren’t evident until the final minute, but so worth the wait (or one could be the type of person that fast-forwards to the final minute) (your secret is safe with us, because maybe we have felt compelled to fast-forward upon occasion).

  • “The Birds”, movement 5 (The Cuckoo), by Respighi (1928). Here is what we like to do: count the number of times we hear the cuckoo motif. Try somewhere around 70 times, in the short span of 4 minutes.  This is an absolute jewel of a piece.

Welcome to the best part of my day!

– Jane BH