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Saturday, June 30, 2012

What do Plutarch and the NBA draft have in common?

Dion of Syracuse! Of course.
We're reading about this one in Plutarch...
Dion (Δίων 408–354 BC), tyrant of Syracuse in Sicily, was the son of Hipparinus, and brother-in-law of Dionysius I of Syracuse.

Time of Dion, Dio or Deon, Tyrant of Syracuse, 367-366 and 357-353 BC
image courtesy of


This one was just picked fourth in the NBA draft... Cavaliers Take Syracuse’s Dion Waiters With No. 4 Pick

image courtesy of:

Ancient meets modern.

Random connection.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Composer Study: Bartok

AO's Composer for the latest term is Hungarian composer Béla Bartók. Randomly, or perhaps because I thought the name sounded interesting, for our listening enjoyment and observation this week I selected his work called Bluebeard's Castle, a one-act opera with libretto written by Béla Balázs, a poet and friend of the composer. Who knew Béla was a common man's name?

As I read more about it, I think I may have discovered why this opera was not chosen as one of the AO listening selections for students... but still, the opera is based loosely on the Charles Perrault's folktale: Bluebeard. So we read the folktale (I edited as I went), will listen to the opera in its entirety and then will probably pursue it no further as interpretations can be morbid and strange. For more info see the wiki here.

I do not recommend studying this opera without pre-reading the folktale and giving it some prior thought as to its fitness for your family. :) It is rather morbid as fairy tales can often be. 

Illustration by Gustave Doré for Perrault's tale Bluebeard; Source: wikicommons

Bartok's music is not the most wonderfully pleasing to the ear, in my opinion... but we're going to endure for a while anyway.  I do prefer his duets for violin and piano concertos over some of the other works.

AO's composer selections for Term 3 of 2011-12:

    Bela Bartok: 
  • String Quartet no. 1 in A minor
  • Concerto for Orchestra (Sz. 116, BB 123)
  • Mikrokosmos (especially "Boating" and "Six Dances in Bulgarian Rhythym.")
    Paul Hindemith: 
  • Mathis der Maler (the symphony, not the opera; "Matthias the Painter," based on painter Matthias Grunewald)
  • Ludus Tonalis (solo piano)
  • Kammermusik No. 5, op. 36 no. 4 'Viola Concerto'

Monday, June 4, 2012

Pets as Nature Study.

Having pets around is AWESOME for nature study without knowing. :) Trick them into it, that's right!

Cats, how nimble, how independent (for the most part), their claws, how they look after themselves; dogs how rowdy, their habits, digging, protecting, chasing, fetching... these are all things we observe about our animals without even trying.

How about fish? We put a glass bowl in the middle of our dining table, with fish, snails and water plants. It provides for a very interesting eye-catcher during meals without being obtrusive. We've learned a lot just by watching. Did you know that snails eat fish? Well, I can tell you they do. I've observed it with my very own eyes! Keeping a small aquarium is a great option for people who move around a lot.

Having living things around is SUPER for laid back nature study. You can add interest or get those thinking juices flowing by throwing out questions now and then such as, 'Why do you suppose his claws are like that?' or 'How do you suppose he moves along the side of the glass without any fins or feet?', etc. Don't give an answer. Let them wonder about it. Let them pull out a book or two if they're still wondering later.

Apart from the normal pet options, here are others we've really enjoyed:
Bird feeder
Butterfly garden

I'm sure you can think of others!
If you'd like to join us this nature study monday, please leave the link to your post in the comments! :) 

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