Saturday, April 28, 2012

The art of Vasily Kandinsky

The art of Vasily Kandinsky is usually vivid in color, and wild in shape and movement.  His work is abstract, but not random.  Kandinsky often created his work by starting with a plan, often based on a sketch or notes on his canvas upon which he layered his paint.  Every time I look at a piece by Kandinsky, I see something new.  His work gives and gives, and no two viewing experiences are ever the same.
This wonderful video, from Guggenheim in New York City, discusses the work of Kandinsky, including interesting investigative techinques used by the museum in studying Kandinsky's work. Click HERE to watch.

You can also explore the Kandinsky collection from the Guggenheim HERE.  Click on "themes" to see the work arranged by themes.  The site also offers a biography of the artist, among other things.
A lovely video on Kandinsky featuring actress Helen Mirren talking about painting in general, but also touching specifically on Kandinsky's work:

Here is another video that is reportedly Kandinsky actually painting - note, there is no sound:

For some fantastic art projects based on the ideas and styles of Kandinsky's work, visit the Art Projects for Kids blog HERE.  We will be doing some of these projects this weekend.
Two clips from a documentary called "Kandinsky and the Russian House":

You can watch the full "Kandinsky and the Russian House" documentary (about 52 minutes long) at for $1.99 (or buy it for $22) HERE.

Ancient India Resources

Currently we are studying Ancient India for our homeschool social studies.  We use a wide variety of materials, spanning those for much younger children to those for adults or older students.  As a result, you may wish to evaluate any materials I list, or link to, before using them with your child(ren).  My son is 13, and does well with a mix of too-easy, right on target, and challenging materials.

Here are a number of great online resources for studying Ancient India:

BBC Primary History's Ancient India page for children

BBC History: Ancient India - for older students and adults

The British Museum's Ancient India page - Click on a category, then click on the large picture that should appear in the center of the screen in order to be taken to the actual page for the category.

Videos - some may be geo-tagged, meaning they can only be viewed in certain locations.  We've been able to watch all of these in the United States:
 The offline resources that we are using include these books:

  • The Times Complete History of the World (one of our main history texts)
  • National Geographic Visual History of the World (one of our main history texts)
  • Civilizations, Explorations, and Conquests (one of our main history texts)
  • The Usborne Encyclopedia of World Religions
  • The Ramayana - A Tale of Gods and Demons
  • Siddhartha - by Herman Hesse

If you are interested in reading The Ramayana or Siddhartha, please check back in a few weeks for study guides and assignment ideas.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Flat Stanley Part IV

This post isn't actually about Flat Stanley's visit to New York City.  Instead, it is to share the sweet reply from my nephew and his class. 

"Dear Aunt Malea, JP, and Susan, We enjoyed hearing about Flat Stanley's visit with you! We know Flat Stanley had a great time! We wish we could have joined him! We wish we could visit the Nintendo store, have a danish at the coffee shop, and then take a ride on the subway! We look forward to watching the next post tomorrow! Sincerely, Brenden and his class"


You can read about Flat Stanley's adventures in New York City HERE.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Flat Stanley came for a visit (Part III)!

If you missed our previous posts about Flat Stanley, he came for a visit last week, and we had quite a bit of fun!  This is Stanley's third, and final, blog post about his visit...  Read Part I HERE, and Part II HERE.  And, now, here's Stanley to tell you about the rest of his trip to New York City...

Hello again! It's me, Flat Stanley! I've left New York City, and am on my way towards Arizona, and then Germany, but I wanted to make sure I finish telling you all about my adventures in New York!  After visiting Time's Square, going to the theater, seeing the Statue of Liberty from afar, and so on, my hosts decided to take me to the American Museum of Natural History!  Have you seen the movie "Night at the Museum"?  Guess where that is supposed to take place??? At the American Museum of Natural History in New York City!  Now, the movie wasn't actually filmed there, but it was still really cool to visit!  According to Wikipedia, the movie was mostly filmed on a sound stage somewhere else, with only the exterior shots of the building being the real deal.  However, several items and characters in the movie version of the museum have real counterparts that we were able to check out...

The American Museum of Natural History is right on the edge of Central Park.
We started our visit with mammals.  These are Indian rhinoceroses.

This guy is a hoolock gibbon.  From the sign: "Gibbons are the smallest as well as the most arboreal of the anthropoid (man-like) apes.  Though capable of walking upright, they move chiefly by swinging with long arms from branch to branch, a distinctive form of locomotion known as brachiation.  Gibbons travel trough the trees in bands often numbering 50 to 100 individuals.  They have a distinctive and powerful voice.  Their diet includes fruit, leaves, insects, spiders and birds' eggs."
Then we moved on to exhibits about the early people of Asia.  This diorama is of the Koryak people.  From the sign: "The Koryak live in northeastern Siberia, a place of extreme cold.  One main group live inland and depend upon herding reindeer for subsistence; the other, shown here, live along the coast and subsist by hunting sea mammals and fishing.  Our knowledge of shelter and clothing during the Ice Age is limited, but we can be certain that prehistoric man adapted to the climate much as have the Koryak.  Their partly subterranean houses have multipurpose roofs which not only protect the house from burial in snow but provide a storage area and a reservoir for snow to be used for drinking."
We saw a lot of really interesting masks.  This one gave me nightmares!
This diorama is really neat!

We saw some Japanese art and displays.
These are tiny little Japanese carvings.  They were a lot smaller than me!

This samurai display was really cool!  From the sign: "The warrior caste has always had a high place in Japanese society.  Traditions of bravery, martial skills, personal honor and loyalty have so marked this caste that its name, samurai - one who serves, is known throughout the world.  Samurai origins go back to prehistoric times, but the warriors heyday in Japan came during the medieval period (1192-1568), when feudal lords created armies and obtained their loyalty by martial codes (bushido). The Samurai are the subject of many legends and stories.  As shown here, their arms were often created by find craftsmen, who molded and embellished the weapons in which the Samurai took extreme pride."

I think I look pretty good in this hat!

With my host's mom.
With JP.

This looks like a moose skeleton, but it is actually Megaloceros, which "...may be the largest deer ever to have lived. It belongs to the group called artiodactyls - hoofed mammals that usually have an even number of toes.  Many also have horns or antlers...  Generally, only male artiodacytls have antlers.  In living deer, they are used during the mating season for wrestling with other males and attracting females, and then are shed."

A bear!
I rode on the back of a glyptodont!  Not really, but it sure looks like it, doesn't it?  From the signs: "Glyptodonts had a thick outer shell and skullcap formed of fused bony plates.  This protective armor helped shield the plant-eating glyptodonts from meat-eating predators."

Guess who this guy is behind me???  That's right - T-rex!  Tyrannosaurus rex means "tyrant reptile". From the signs: "Although Tyrannosaurus is one of the most familiar dinosaurs, its skeletons are quite rare.  Fever than 15 partial specimens have been collected.  Tyrannosaurus was the largest and most fearsome carnivore of all time.  The arms of Tyrannosaurus rex were relatively tiny.  Scientists thought that tyrannosaur hands had 3 fingers as the hands of Allosaurus did, until specimens were discovered which showed that all advanced tyrannosaurs had only 2 fingers on each hand."
This little guys are so cute!
Recognize this guy?  He didn't say anything during our visit.  Good thing, because we didn't have any gum for him, and didn't really want him to call us dumb-dumbs either!
Just hanging out at the museum...


After the museum, we walked through the park grounds.  The park immediately around the museum is  named after Theodore Roosevelt.  He was the 26th president of the United States, from 1901 to 1909.  Roosevelt's interest in history and the natural world developed during his childhood when he often had to stay home due to severe asthma.  During that time he studied natural history, and feel in love with the subject.  He went on to attend Harvard University where he studied biology.  Before Harvard, and due to his asthma and physical weakness, Roosevelt was homeschooled! Roosevelt spent several years in North and South Dakota as well, and was a true cowboy!  After his time in the Dakotas, he returned to his childhood home of New York City where he had a career with the New York Police Department, and then he went on to develop his life in politics, eventually becoming the President of the United States.
The main entrance to the museum. We went in through a side entrance because that's where all the signs we saw pointed!
Theodore Roosevelt statue in front of the museum.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Flat Stanley came for a visit (Part II)!

If you didn't see the original Flat Stanley post, please view it HERE.  As with the original post, we are giving our blog over to Stanley in order for him to continue to share his New York adventure with you.  Take it away, Stanley!

Well, I've had a rest from my New York adventure, and I am on my way through the mail to Arizona, then Germany!  Wow!  I wonder where else I will get to visit!  What is the coolest or most interesting place you have ever visited?  

I had so much fun in New York City!  There is just so much to share!  Last time, I told you about seeing the NBC studio where the morning show "Today" is filmed, Rockefeller Center, and little bits here and there.  After all of that, we walked to the Theater District of Manhattan. This is where the majority of plays and musicals happen, and the biggest shows are on Broadway, which is a big street, but some of the shows on nearby streets are also still considered "on Broadway."  I went with Malea, JP, and my sender's grandmother.  We saw a musical called "Memphis."  It had some really fantastic singing and dancing!
Outside the theater, waiting to go in.
The stage, before the show - we had excellent seats!

After the play, we walked over to Time's Square.  It is so busy, so colorful, and so fun!  There was a lot to see!  I even met a nice police officer, and had a great dinner with my hosts.

There was a moose in the restaurant!

The restaurant was on the 2nd floor of the building, and had a great view of Time's Square.

This police officer was very nice about taking a picture with me.

He even let me sit ON his car!

There is a whole store in Time's Square just devoted to m&m's candy!  It was HUGE!

After the m&m store, we walked around some more, and saw the Ed Sullivan Theater which is where the "Late Show with David Letterman" is filmed.  They weren't filming while we were there though.

Next time, I will tell you all about my last day in New York, and our visit to the Natural History Museum!