Roman Empire

We’re in A+ Book Territory

We are in A+ Book territory!  Sometimes we’re lucky and every book on the nightly agenda is so first-rate that we can’t wait to get started.  Do we think every book is dandy?  Ha.  Frankly, about half of the books we start do NOT get finished.  If they are dull or poorly edited we give them a quiet farewell, and sort of feel bad about tossing them in the give-away box for the next charity drive.  But this week, we are in A+ Book Territory!

a-books

A+ for “Grammar-Land” – what an entertaining book we have found in “Grammar-Land” written by M.L. Nesbitt in – GET THIS – 1877! (never fear, reprinted/available from Amazon).  M.L. Nesbitt must have had so much fun writing this, and as we get caught up in the grammar court room cleverness, we are being drilled over and over with grammar rules. We are getting smarter! Oh my gosh, I was so nervous about last night’s topic – we were tackling “the nominative case” – which ended up being ridiculously easy.  I have reviewed many supposedly “fun” grammar books, which are decidedly NOT.  This one: A+.

A+ for the “DK Eyewitness Book: North American Indian” – we continue our Native North American unit and this book is providing a decent introduction for our survey.  We have admired the sleek design of birch bark canoes, we have learned a bit about the Iroquois League (5 tribes that worked together, under the guidance of a council made up of men – who were chosen by elder tribe WOMEN!!!), and last night, we read through a most interesting mini sketch of Tecumseh.  Two thumbs up for this reference (A+)!

A+ for “The Memory of an Elephant” – We are enjoying this quirky book about elephants by Sophie Strady, gloriously illustrated by Jean-Francois Martin, so the news of the week – the announcement by Ringling Brothers of the imminent close of their circus – caught our attention.  So much to talk about – the skilled performers, the death-defying acts, circus snacks, circus parades, circus music, and then a thoughtful discussion about the realities of “freak exhibits” and circus animals (including a mention about PETA and their role in forcing the circus to retire their elephants).  This book: conversation provoker!  A+!

bookshelf

Story Problem – Too many books in Farmer Brown’s library – Farmer Brown has run out of storage room, so he has decided clean out his book shelves.  He has found 40 hardcover books and 50 paperback books to donate to a charity. He has determined that the worth of each hardcover book is $7, and the worth of each paperback is $3.  How much will Farmer Brown be able to tell his CPA that he has donated in books?  My son did the computation in his head:
A) $90      B) $430      C) $730      D) $900 (answer at bottom of post)

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Circus Music Classics – Even though the Ringling Brothers Circus is about to be a thing of the past, we will always love these attention grabbing compositions:

Entry of the Gladiators – composed in 1897 by Julius Fucik.  As I wrote in August 2015, Fucik had quite an interest in the Roman Empire.  He did NOT intend for this composition to be used as a circus SCREAMER (how can you not love this term?????) (a “screamer” is an invigorating circus march).  Is this not THE music that should be blaring in elementary school halls on the first day of school?

Sabre Dance – Aram Khachaturian’s Sabre Dance, composed in 1942, is the definitive go-to music for any and all knife throwing attractions.  We found a simply outstanding performance of this edge-of-your-seat music (and we would do anything to be part of this percussion section):

The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze – composed by Lyle and Lee in 1867 to glorify Jules Leotard, a French acrobat who developed the art of the trapeze AND AS IF THAT WEREN’T ENOUGH, he invented the 1-piece form-fitting knitted gym suit: the leotard.  An extremely popular song for decades! (But I guess not in this decade – last weekend, I was at a leadership workshop, singing with a group of 80 bright collegians, and I was stunned to discover that NOT A ONE OF THEM was familiar with the circus music classics.  REALLY?  NOT ON MY WATCH – I made them listen over and over to “The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze”)

Welcome to the best part of my day!
Jane BH
(story problem answer: B) $430)

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If it’s August

goldolfo lake

Our Vatican Unit continues – we have been learning about Castel Gondolfo, the summer retreat for popes since 1628.  So, if it is August, it is likely that the Pope Francis is in residence at the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gondolfo.  We learned that the Pope travels the 15 miles (we had NO idea it was so close) between the Vatican and Castel Gondolfo by helicopter.  The palace grounds overlook Lake Albano.  Lake Albano immediately grabbed our attention because the lake is so round, with very little beach area.  It made sense when we read that the overlapping union of two volcanic craters created the lake.

finnish flag

Counting on it – we continue to learn to count to ten in foreign languages – not because counting to ten is such an important skill, but because I want my son to have an awareness that languages change from country to country (in other words, there is more to the world than just us).  We have mastered Spanish, French, German, Japanese, and Vietnamese.  Now we are tackling Finnish – such a fun sounding language: 1, 2, 3: “ooksie, cawksi, colomay” (BTW, that’s the flag of Finland).  Here is what we do every so often:  I call out a number, and my son writes down the number and the language I am speaking.

school busschool busschool bus

Le Fictitious Local Diner starts “The Bus Driver Project” (from our story problems last week) – if it is August, the start of school is just around the corner, and the employees at the diner have been thinking about how difficult it would be to be a school bus driver. The responsibilities are substantial and sometimes the kids (we are looking at you, JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL PEOPLES) can be so rambunctious.  So, the diner decided to honor all local school bus drivers with a free lunch and slice of pie, once a month, during the 9-month school year.  There are 20 bus drivers in the district, lunch runs $8.00, and a slice of pie (pecan, apple crumble, or lemon meringue), $3.00.  When the diner turns in its contributions list to the CPA at the end of the school year, what will be their total “bus driver project” donation?

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If it is August, we need “Music for Going Back to School”–  here is what we selected:

  • “Flight of the Bumblebee”  composed by Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov in 1899 for his opera, “The Tale of Tsar Saltan”.  This is background music for moms anxiously hustling offspring out the door before the bus leaves.  This video is spectacular – we have the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by the unsurpassable Zubin Mehta, AND watching the violin section is mesmerizing – they all sort of twitch in rhythm, and the fingering is SO fast.

  • “Entry of the Gladiators” – composed in 1897 by Julius Fucik (well, there’s an unfortunate name), who had quite an interest in the Roman Empire.  He did NOT intend for this to be used as a SCREAMER (how can you not love this term?????) (we learned that a “screamer” is an invigorating circus march).  Is this not THE music that should be blaring in elementary school halls on the first day of school?  This video was filmed around 1950, featuring the over-the-top energetic Red Nichols and his Five Pennies.  NOT TO BE MISSED.

  • “Song of the Volga Boatmen” – a traditional Russian folk song (first published in 1866), this is classic “we feel your pain” and “is there more to life than drudgery?” music.  This is the comrade-in-arms music for woebegone students AND teachers dreading that first day back.

Welcome to the best part of my day!

– Jane BH