Monday, November 01, 2010

Is November dull? Nope.

Busy, yes. Down to some serious school work, yes. As Jeanne pointed out recently, Ambleside Online's Year 4 means Written Narrations, as well as Shakespeare and some other new challenges. Crayons is also starting a math chapter on division, which is never the favourite around here...well, maybe this time will be the exception.

And the weather has been less than co-operative; it's cold and slightly dreary already, with snow threatening later in the week, and next weekend we turn the clocks back to give ourselves even more dark mornings and early sunsets.

But November is also Prime Time For Making Things...that is, for winter gift-giving...unless you procrastinate and finish everything two days before Christmas. This year we will do better, even if we have to sit back to back like the girls in Louisa May Alcott's Jack and Jill. We have rummage sale finds to use up, including more than two yards of red knit fabric (the kind that comes formed in a tube) that I found at a church sale last weekend. I saw it and thought "holidays," but now I'm not sure of the best way to use it. Anybody have any good craft/clothes ideas for such a big piece?

It's a good time for reading...well, okay, when isn't it a good time for reading? We don't seem to have One Big Readaloud Together book going right now, but I think it's time to start one. Ponytails has been enjoying Letters from Rifka, particularly because when she mentioned Belgian Chocolate to Mr. Fixit, he took the hint and brought a bit home on the weekend. Crayons likes Kidnapped very much, even if it is an "assigned" book. The Apprentice has been into Agatha Christie and other classic detective books lately, when she's not doing physics and calculus homework. Mama Squirrel has been reading a variety of food and home books, mostly from the library and a few from rummage sales.

November is a good time for watching things grow indoors. Now that Crayons is done sprouting birdseed, the next experiment in the Changes unit (Science on a Shoestring) is the classic beans-in-a-jar-with-paper-towels that everybody should do once during school. We're using dried bean seeds from our garden, the same ones we replant every year.

It's also a good time for listening to Fauré's Piano Quartets. A note on Amazon says this:
There are three great chamber music composers from the second half of the 19th century: Brahms, Dvorák, and Fauré. Of the three, Fauré is by far the least well known, even in France.
(That makes me feel better.)
French music in the 19th century was almost entirely centered on opera and ballet, and while Fauré did make at least one contribution to the operatic stage (Penelope), he was far more involved in composing chamber music and songs. The two piano quartets are both extremely fine works, beautifully crafted, and full of warmly Romantic melody. This disc was one of the first by non-French performers to make the case for Fauré as a truly great composer of chamber music, and it still sounds very impressive. --David Hurwitz
We like the You-tube posts of the Piano Quartet Number One that use Van Gogh paintings as background for the music.

And November is the month I picked out for starting Marmee Dear's Sugar 'n' Spice Unit Studies for our "family studies": one spice each week, starting tomorrow with a look at ginger. We won't do all the activities exactly as written, but they're a good source of inspiration and can even help us squeeze a little geography into the day. (Not to mention lots of good smells and tastes.)

Dull month? Not here.


MeritK said...

ooo yes - I love November! That is just what we do as it cools down and clouds up outside :) Great post with indoor fun ideas.

amy in peru said...

Oh I do miss fall... November being American Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday) and all. But my in-laws will be here this year, I'm very glad :)

amy in peru

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