Art and Music and a little Danke Schoen

We are away from home and on a 3 week break from lessons. So from my remote area in the Cayman Islands (joking!) I’ll do a write up about our Art and Music studies.

The artist whose works we’re getting to know this term is Jean Honore Fragonard. Here’s the most recent painting we’ve studied. If I had painted it, it might be called a self-portrait. I’m sorry that I have no videos to show James doing picture narration, but you may look at these from last term to see the kinds of things he looks for in paintings. We began using Artistic Pursuits for art application. We’ve learned that artists compose from their imagination as well as realistically from what they see before them. They compose from photographs and other graphics as well as the real scene or person before them. We have used water color crayons and oil pastels to make our own pictures from our imagination and have done some landscapes and portraits. I’d post a sampling of our artwork, but alas, they are not with me. (Remember, we’re on break and that includes the break of not having to lug the school room across the U.S.)

Our folk music selection this term is a song from Scotland called Aiken Drum. This song was totally new to me (and I have yet to figure out a piano accompaniment that works), so we sing along with this video or good ol’ a capella. I think James’ favorite part is when King Jamie is mentioned. We’ve also spent time with two hymns — “More Love to Thee” and “He Leadeth Me.” I try to find arrangements on YouTube for James to hear, but he mostly likes for us just to sing our hymns. He finds most arrangements very melancholy and sad and doesn’t think the message of the songs match that. James really enjoys singing and his mother (without prejudice, of course) thinks he has a very nice voice and understands pitch very well. We were hoping that he could sing with our city boy choir this fall, but alas, the director moved across country and the group has yet to replace him. Perhaps this spring that opportunity or another will arise. We continue our piano lessons and have entered the world of eighth notes. It’s challenging for James and the challenge seems to have sucked a little of his zeal for practicing. He’s not telling people that piano is his favorite part of school like he used to. But I know once he gets the feel of the rhythm in his head and hands and body, he’ll be back on track.

The wild and wacky and unbelievably talented Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is our composer for this term. Along with listening to 4 specific pieces at this point, we enjoy the podcasts at Classics for Kids. James loves those 3 question quizzes after the 6 minute podcast. We read the always entertaining Mike Venezia’s bio of Mozart. We also enjoyed reading the Mozart story from The Magic Tree House series. From what I’ve read and heard over the years (especially while in college studying music) the portrayal of the boy Mozart was quite accurate in this book. Just add a little more sassiness and sarcasm. Mozart was good and he knew it and didn’t hold back from mocking the less good.

In a previous post I reviewed our official Literature readings. We’ve also enjoyed the “free reading” selections of Farmer Boy and King of the Wind. Let me tell you, if you haven’t already moved on from the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees and water creatures to mammal reproduction, it will probably come up while reading King of the Wind. It’s not graphic at all; it’s simply that the main horse in the story is the sire for several generations of great race horses and that is mentioned from time to time in the story. After James asked, “What does it matter who the father is?” I figured it was time for that lesson. It’s quite beautiful how it all makes sense to him based on what he already knows about the aforementioned created things. And yes, a few days later, the question arose as to human reproduction. So glad that he’s learning from his parents, rather than movies and the jokes that the 6th graders told across the lunch table from me when I was a 2nd grader.

Farmer Boy is Laura Ingalls Wilder’s telling of about a year in the life of her husband at around age 10 on a farm in New York. I imagine Almanzo telling these stories as an old man to Laura (and Rose, their daughter, who most likely helped in the writing of the books). James is a lot like Almanzo. He loves that kind of work and is glad to get out of schoolwork in order to help with outside work. One job Almanzo had when the family was spring cleaning was to beat the dust out of the rugs as they hung on a line outside. James thought that was awesome and said he’d love that job. We shall see.

On his own, James has enjoyed reading The Invention of Hugo Cabret and four of the Tintin graphic novels. He’s also reading A Dog’s Life, a gift from his Grammy. I asked him what the dog’s name was when he was first reading the book and he looked at the cover and said, “Ann M. Martin.” Look at the cover yourself and you’ll see that he must be correct and that our Latin and Greek roots studies are going well 🙂

Last year we switched our foreign language study from French to German and James has done really well. I made this choice mostly because Jack’s German is far better than my French. James seems to have picked up the German better and enjoys the sound and accent of these words more than French. “Merci” never became a habit with him, but “Danke” seems to roll off his tongue at the appropriate time throughout the day. Now I wish I could find a great German CD to match the French CD that we’ve enjoyed for about 5 years now.

Beyond the things on our schedule, there is always learning going on around this house. With a dad who loves gadgets and mechanics and electricity, etc., James is not lacking for excitement in that area. And there is always talks about life and right and wrong and why do people do the things they do. James is a blessed boy to have a very hands-on Dad. And I am very blessed as well.

And that will end my 6 week review. Until next time, au revoir, auf wiedersehn.

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