Friday, September 26, 2014


Our family went to see the dress rehearsal of Carmen by the Vancouver Opera last night. Carmen is a famous opera written by Georges Bizet. The performance was in French with subtitles.

We love the familiar songs of "Habanera" and "Toreador", and the beautiful set and elaborate costumes. I like the character of Michaela the best, and my favourite scene is when Escamillo swaggered into town singing "Toreador"! The girl who played the gypsy Carmen is really good too but the character is a little too mean!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Charlotte or Charley?

Riding Freedom by Pam Munoz Ryan is about a girl named Charlotte trying to survive in the harsh west country with her love of horses and her friends Hayward and Vern to spur her on.

Charlotte was born "In the mid-eighteen hundreds, when the East was young and the West was yet to be settled" (p.2). She grew up in an orphanage where life was really tough. So she ran away but in order to survive during a time when women had no rights, she dressed up as a boy. "Charley" ended up working for Ebenezer who took "him" in as his own child.

Freedom was a horse at the orphanage, and Charlotte loved and cared for her until she died. Freedom's spirit stayed with Charlotte and helped her overcome many challenges. In the end Charlotte was able to fulfill her dream of having her own ranch. She named a new colt "Freedom", which for Charlotte, stands for her very own freedom.

The book is set during the Gold Rush, and is based on the life of a real "whip" (stage coach driver), Charley Darkey Parkhurst, or "One-eyed Charley". No one knew until "his" death that Charley was in fact a woman! Charley may have been the very first woman to have voted at a U.S. presidential election.

I love Brian Selznick's illustrations which give a very realistic feel to the book. My favourite part of the book is when Charlotte ran away from the orphanage. I also liked the part when Ebenezer challenged Charlotte to drive a 6-horse stage coach. I think "Charley" is an amazing person because she was able to do seemingly impossible things like driving a stage coach and living as a man in the old west. That must have been wild!

Circulatory System

After meeting the lungs online at Khan Academy, we decided to Meet the Heart this week. While we love all the Khan Academy teaching videos so far, we find "How does the Heart Work?" by Mocomi Kids to be the most concise explanation of a rather convoluted system. Of course we can't learn without a catchy Circulatory Song!

Mapping out the circulatory system and playing The Circulation Game really helps us understand and appreciate the workings of our heart pump.

The objective of the game is to get the red blood cells to deliver oxygen and pick up carbon dioxide from different parts of the body, and to deliver sugar & protein from the intestines to the body while bringing waste to the kidneys.

Do you know: the "lub-dub" thumping sound of your heart comes from the heart valves snapping shut to prevent backflow.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Repiratory System

We "meet the lungs" at Khan Academy!

The main function of our respiratory system is to "trade off carbon dioxide for the oxygen made by trees" and "give oxygen to blood and blood to organs so they'll function with ease"! (That's from The Respiratory System song.)

We were able to see inside someone's lungs (Tom's!) in a bronchoscopy video - cool!

We made a model of our lungs: straw for trachea, plumbing valve for bronchi, balloons for lungs, pop bottle for chest, rubber glove for diaphragm. Push up the rubber glove "diaphragm" to simulate breathing out (balloons deflate), pull down to simulate breathing in (balloons inflate). FUN!

Do you know: the trachea is lined with rings of cartilage called pseudostratisfied ciliated epithilium?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Digestive System

"Body systems... so many systems..."  We can't get this catchy Human Body Systems Rap out of our heads!

After an overview of 11 body systems, we picked our first system to study in more details. Amazing how many songs you could find about body systems! Serena particularly likes Mr. R's Digestion Song.

We watched a very interesting National Geographic video, "The Journey of the Digestive System", where they used a special camera to go inside an actual digestive tract of a person. A little yucky but very cool!

After lots of reading we have a decent idea of how our digestive system works. We collected stuff around the house and made our own digestive system model.

Do you know: our small intestine is about 20 feet long!