The Nutcracker Ballet

This past weekend, I had the wonderful opportunity to enjoy an evening at a local university that presented their 30th annual production of “The Nutcracker Ballet”. This grand holiday tradition dazzled and delighted the audience with spectacular dancing, beautiful costumes, glorious scenery, and pyrotechnical magic as the brilliance of Tchaikovsky’s music was brought to life by the university’s symphony orchestra and the local city’s children’s choir. I had not attended a “Nutcracker” production since my boys (now ages 28 and 35) were young children. It was a very special performance for me, for it brought back warm and wonderful memories of a magical family event during my children’s early home schooling years.

11324001829Nutcracker bookIf taking your children to see “The Nutcracker Ballet” is a part of your holiday plans, then I highly recommend filling your home with the amazing orchestral soundtrack before you attend the performance. Since the performance is “told” in the form of music and dance, I also recommend reading aloud the story so your children can better understand the storyline during the performance. There are many books written about the Nutcracker. One of my favorites is the original tale of Nutcracker, written by E.T.A. Hoffmann (in 1816), translated by Ralph Manheim and illustrated by Maurice Sendak. The New York Times Books Review has rated it as “one of the ten best illustrated children’s books of the year.”

1historynutcrackertumblr_nudsxdhksN1qke7l1o1_540If you are also interested in sharing a little history of this special ballet, then I recommend the book, The Nutcracker Comes to America: How Three Ballet-loving Brothers Created a Holiday Tradition, written by Chris Barton and illustrated by Cathy Gendron.

 

Who would ever have thought that, during WW II, three small-town Utah boys interested in ballet would have started this annual holiday tradition? “The Nutcracker Ballet” has retained its freshness because it appeals to the sense of wonder we all share. It is a memorable and magical event that every family should enjoy together at least once.

 

Shel Silverstein

Listen to the mustn’ts, child.

Listen to the don’ts.

Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts.

Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me…

Anything can happen, child.

Anything can be.

– Shel Silverstein

shel-silverstein-1Today is Sheldon Allan “Shel” Silverstein’s birthday! He was born September 25, 1930 in Chicago, Illinois. He was most notably known as the author of children’s poems and books, including the more popular Where the Sidewalk Ends, A Light in the Attic, and The Giving Tree.

 

 

Silverstein-where-the-sidewalk-endsDid you know that Shel Silverstein was not only an American poet, but also a cartoonist, screenwriter, and singer-songwriter? He didn’t start writing children’s books and poetry until he was 33 years old. He first studied music and established himself as a musician and composer. He even composed the song, “A Boy Named Sue”, which was popularized by Johnny Cash.

 

In the k-4 Oak Meadow courses, poetry plays an important role in the language arts. Shel Silverstein is by far one of the most revered poets, and his works are often memorized, recited and copied into the students’ poetry books. Even though Shel Silverstein passed away in 1999, his literary works and artistic endeavors live on. So, in honor of this comic genius, I would like to extend my appreciation for his fun, uplifting poetry. Happy Birthday, Uncle Shelby!

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY

by Shel Silverstein

So what if nobody came?

I’ll have ALL the ice cream and tea,

And I’ll laugh with myself,

And I’ll dance with myself,

And I’ll sing, “Happy Birthday to me!”

Cowichan, British Columbia

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Numerous Oak Meadow home teachers with students in first through third grade have commented on how much their children love the map work and studying about other places and cultures around the world. Geography and history are quite fascinating to me, as well, and when a certain place grabs my attention, I want to put on my “traveling shoes” to visit and experience the uniqueness of the place.

 

Cowichan

This is what happened when I recently watched the delightful, musical art piece and masterfully done video, “Once Upon a Day.” It captures the spirit and essence of the majestic Cowichan, a district on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. The spectacular scenery, the diversity of live music played in various settings, the outdoor activities, the creative arts, and the scrumptious looking food offers great temptation for exploration of this inclusive and diverse community. So, put on your own “traveling shoes” and watch the magic of this inspirational video with your children.

 

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Old Sturbridge Village Home School Day!

 

 

OMV insigniaOld Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, is the largest outdoor living-history museum in the Northeast. For those of you who live close enough to visit this unique 200-acre nonprofit educational institution, you might be interested in registering for one of their three upcoming Home School Day events (held on Fridays: February 7th, March 28th and May 6th).

 

 

Visiting Old Sturbridge Village is a wonderful family adventure that demonstrates everyday life between the years of 1790 and 1840. It could be a perfect addition to your children’s exploration of history! If you are unable to attend any of the scheduled Home School Day events, be sure to view the Events Calendar that provides many other options. Old Sturbridge Village is currently offering “Kids Free on Winter Weekends”. You might wish to visit on a snowy winter day to join in a horse-drawn sleigh ride! Let us know if you plan to attend any of the Old Sturbridge Village events. It would be delightful for you to connect with other Oak Meadow families!

 

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