Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Where Would You Go?

The Guardian's Lisa Allardice asks an interesting question -- if literary time travel was a possibility, what writers would you go see?

Read the column and the responses here.

My first thoughts were to visit Mary Shelley and Edgar Allan Poe...must be leaning toward a little suspense today. Then Mark Twain came to mind. J.R.R. Tolkien. Beatrix Potter. The possibilities!

Monday, February 27, 2012

A Rollercoaster of Music

Wow! Check this out:

ZKO Rollercoaster // GREAT EMOTIONS from virtual republic on Vimeo.

I pulled together previous musical posts and tried to give them a little organization. Browse around as you see fit --

Music education and young musicians:

Music in Our Schools Month (March)
Bobby McFerrin talks about music
Musical pioneers
Musical science projects
Young musicians and more young musicians
Gustavo Dudamel
Music therapy


Aaron Copland
A bit of Bach
Bizet's L'Arlesienne
Borodin's Prince Igor
Cécile Chaminade
Deaf Composers
David Lang
Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition
Eric Whitacre

International Music and Causes:

Music of Tibet
The world's oldest song
Two ethereal singers
International Music Projects
CDs for Creating Communities
Playing for Change
The Estate Project and Fred Hersch
Music Maker Foundation
Playing horn to raise money


Banjo and fiddle
French horn
The Hang
One person bands

Art and Music:

Musical instrument art
To Flute, From Violin, a Storybird
Music-related Tagxedos
A rap about poetry
Kipling's Seal Lullaby set to music
Musical public art (and more of that)
Wuthering Heights in song
Album Writing Month (February)

Airborne Music:

Music in Space
Aeronautical sheet music

Album covers:

Handel's Messiah
Vivaldi's Four Seasons
La Boutique Fantasque

An assortment of types:

Kids' Classic CDs
Rock Songs with Choirs
Buddy Holly covers and other covers
Bluegrass tributes
Chaka Khan
Out-of-the-ordinary words used in songs
La Mer/Astaire/Louis and Ella
U.S. Military Bands
Comic Adventures in Music
Elijah Rock (Choral music)


The Barber of Seville
Joan of Arc
Opera Art (with a song)


Danse Macabre
Giving thanks
Christmas songs

Dance and saski-naski:

Barcode Orchestra
Relax or Run?

Friday, February 24, 2012


Life has been your art. You have set yourself to music. Your days are your sonnets.
~ Oscar Wilde

Langston Hughes by Brandy Kayzakian-Rowe

Poetic saski-naski for you today (Google Translate says that "saski-naski" means "miscellany" in the Basque language).

* I made an African American Poets word search. Can you find Maya, William Stanley, Gwendolyn, Lucille, Countee, Gayle, Rita, Paul Laurence, Cornelius, James, Nikki, Eloise, Angelina Weld, Yusef, Claude, Marilyn, Ntozake, Charles, Alice, and Phyllis?

* Also, here are resources for teaching African American poetry from the Poetry Foundation.

* Ever thought about trying Storybird? I talked about it earlier this week. Their site is worth a visit.

* And lastly, a bit of healing for you:
Come Healing
by Leonard Cohen

O gather up the brokenness
And bring it to me now
The fragrance of those promises
You never dared to vow

The splinters that you carry
The cross you left behind
Come healing of the body
Come healing of the mind
Read the rest here.

Our Poetry Friday round-up is being hosted by Check It Out.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


What art offers is space - a certain breathing room for the spirit.
~John Updike

Felt is used in many ways -- in the making of musical instruments, automobiles, and buildings, for instance. But it can also be used for art:

Felt city painting
by Hale Irtem

Snow, a needle felted art doll
by Laurence Bergeot Veréb

Felt Scaled Cuirass
by Lisa Klakulak

Grid 4, felt painting
by Jenne Giles

Millefiori Nuno Felt Scarf
by AVAoriginal

Felt Frida Kahlo Coat, Inimitable Frida, from the "Viva la Vida" Collection
by Lubov Voronina


* Felt making at the Kurdish Textile Museum
* The making of a felt yurt (part of a Martha Stewart piece on a felt exhibit)
* Amanda Hone shows how to felt

Monday, February 20, 2012

To Flute, From Violin

I didn't know what to do for Music Monday, so I decided to make a music-inspired Storybird. I'd never made anything on Storybird before, but it was pretty easy. Storybird provides a variety of art that you can browse through and select to go with your text.

Here's my musical poem, To Flute, From Violin with illustrations by BlueDogRose:

Friday, February 17, 2012

Poetry Hunts

Still wondering what you might do at your school, library, community center, church, or home for National Poetry Month? Ever had a Poetry Hunt?

The idea is this: Post poems --with a little info about the poets-- around your building and then make a list of clues that lead from one to the next. Create a form for participants to fill in the names of the poems and poets as they find them.

For instance, an elementary school Poetry Hunt could begin with:

* Take twenty steps and look to your right to find a poem about a fish with no bones (About the Teeth of Sharks by John Ciardi)
* Back up three yards and you will find a poem about a creature with whiskers (Midnight Stray by Rebecca Kai Dotlich)
* Take ten steps diagonally and find a poem written by a poet who was born in 1909 (W by James Reeves)
* Go around the corner and look for the water fountain, where you will find a weather poem (Sunflakes by Frank Asch)
* Go up the stairs. Outside the doorway, find a poem by a woman who was born in Baltimore, Maryland (A Little Song of Life by Lizette Woodworth Reese)
* Turn around and look for the poem by a Newbery award winner (Wish by Linda Sue Park)

You could have the poems match the location in the school. For example, you could have music-related poetry near the music classroom:
* Find a song that was written on the occasion of President Lincoln's birthday (Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing by James Weldon Johnson -- I would only include the first verse)
* Find a poem that was written in a sidewalk (Meadowlark Mending Song by Margaret Hasse -- maybe you could include a little image of the sidewalk, from the Web)

Near the library:
* Find a poem written by a poet who lived to be 99 (Books Fall Open by David McCord)
* Find a poem by the author of The Monsterologist (A Scarcity of Words by Bobbi Katz)
* Find a poem by a poet who likes to raise tadpoles (School Librarian by Kristine O’Connell George)

Outside an English classroom:
* Find a poem written by a Canadian poet (Call the periods Call the commas by Kalli Dakos)
* Find a poem written by a poet who speaks four languages (The Unwritten by W.S. Merwin)

Near the gym:
* Find a poem written by the poet who wrote the shortest poem in the world (Shortstop by Charles Ghigna)

Maybe Things I Don't Eat by Mr. Chompchomp could be by the cafeteria, or As I was walking up the stair by Hughes Mearns could be by the stairs. There are lots of things you could do!

Gathering Books is our Poetry Friday round-up host today.

P.S. Last week I had a request for more poems from Against Forgetting. Here's one, but I'm warning you, it's heartbreaking. (It's the third one down, A Conversation Through The Door). I noticed that this particular poem is the subject of a plethora of essays for cheaters (i.e. unethical writers write papers which they sell to disgusting companies who sell them to dishonorable students.) Ugh.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

We shall not attempt to give the reader an idea of that tetrahedron nose-that horse-shoe mouth-that small left eye over-shadowed by a red bushy brow, while the right eye disappeared entirely under an enormous wart-of those straggling teeth with breaches here and there like the battlements of a fortress-of that horny lip, over which one of those teeth projected like the tusk of an elephant-of that forked chin-and, above all, of the expression diffused over the whole-that mixture of malice, astonishment, and melancholy. Let the reader, if he can, figure to himself this combination.
~ Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Sharing book covers and posters from Victor Hugo's famous story this week. I have been wondering about what makes a beast a possible love interest and a hunchback an impossible one.

This one is by Arthur Ranson:


* Hunchback illustrations on Squidoo
* How to draw characters from Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame
* A recording of the book
* The 1939 movie version is supposed to be one of the best.
* A biography of Victor Hugo
* The Genesis of Butterflies, a poem by Victor Hugo

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Library Lovers

There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island.
~ Walt Disney

February is Library Lovers Month!

One way to celebrate is to proclaim your affection for libraries.

Another is to share your favorite books. As a child, one of my favorites was The Phantom Tollbooth. I adored the world that Norton Juster created.

From Anita Silvey's Children's Book-A-Day Almanac: "As luck would have it, Juster lived in the same apartment building with cartoonist Jules Feiffer in Brooklyn Heights, New York. So as the book was created, Feiffer made drawings of these incredible creatures. The story became a kind of competition between the two creators; the author attempted to describe things that would be difficult for Feiffer to draw. The whole exercise became a game, inventive, free-flowing—a fabulous example of thinking and writing out of the box."

Tock, a Phantom Tollbooth illustration by Jules Feiffer

Here's Lizzie Nichols' imagining of Digitopolis from The Phantom Tollbooth:

* Vintage Phantom Tollbooth covers from around the world
* Phantom Tollbooth games

Monday, February 13, 2012

Everyone Wants Me!

We have The World's Very Best Opera for Kids...in English! and my kids think this is a pretty funny song (music by Gioachino Rossini/libretto by Cesare Sterbini).

But before you hear the song and read the words, I should point out that in the past "barbers performed surgery, bloodletting and leeching, fire cupping, enemas, and the extraction of teeth; earning them the name 'barber surgeons.'" (wikipedia) The lyrics in English (and a short movie) are beneath this wonderful performance by Dmitri Hvorostovsky.

No better life could a barber wish for,
nothing more noble could ever exist...

Everyone calls me, everyone wants me,
Ladies and young men, old men and maidens:
Where is my wig, sir? Give me a shave, please…
Leeches for bleeding…
Letters for reading…

Everyone calls me, everyone wants me,
Everyone calls me, everyone wants me:
Where is my wig, sir?
Give me a shave, please!
Letters for reading!
Hey! Figaro! Figaro! Figaro!

Oh my, they’re loud!
Oh my, those crowds…
Surround me!
One at a time,
For pity’s sake! For pity’s sake! For pity’s sake!
One at a time, please, One at a time, please, One at a time, please,
For pity’s sake!

Figaro! I’m here.
Hey, Figaro! I’m here.
Figaro here, Figaro there
Figaro up, Figaro down
Faster and faster I fly like a lightning bolt,
I am the barber of Seville.
Of Seville

Ah, bravo Figaro! Bravo, bravissimo, Bravo, bravissimo
All of my luck, All of my luck
All of my luck it will not fade away. La, la, la...

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Giving Back

Horn player Rudolf Diebetsberger decided not to stop performing when he retired from the Stuttgart Philharmonic. Instead, he chose to perform at street festivals, cafés, and private parties to raise money for aid projects in India and Bangladesh. Diebetsberger donated over 50,000 Euros in 2010, so he is doing well with his goal -- giving 100,000 Euros to Anderi-Hilfe. I think he's in the 70,000s now. Once he gets to 100,000, Mr. Diebetsberger will actually retire. I imagine that will be a very satisfying retirement!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Sky to Sing to Me

I've been reading Against Forgetting: Twentieth Century Poetry of Witness, edited by Carolyn Forché. It was a Christmas present, and I have been sticking little slips of white paper all through it; there are so many I'd like to return to. I'm sharing some excerpts of Prayer before Birth by Louis MacNeice.

This poem was inspired by living in London during the Blitz. I named this post after the line about the sky because it struck me as very poignant that, in a time when bombs were a perpetual threat, MacNeice imagined a gentle sky for children to come.

from Prayer before Birth
by Louis MacNeice

I am not yet born; provide me
With water to dandle me, grass to grow for me, trees to talk
  to me, sky to sing to me, birds and a white light
   in the back of my mind to guide me...

I am not yet born; O fill me
With strength against those who would freeze my
    humanity, would dragoon me into a lethal automaton,
      would make me a cog in a machine, a thing with
       one face, a thing, and against all those
          who would dissipate my entirety, would
            blow me like thistledown hither and
              thither or hither and thither
                like water held in the
                  hands would spill me.


Have a listen:

Laura at Writing the World For Kids is our Poetry Friday round-up host today.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Tentacles Everywhere

That awkward moment when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus.

I read a fascinating story about giant squid with my tutee last week and it made me want to have a Tentacle Thursday. So here it is...

Stirrup jar with octopus, ca. 1200–1100 b.c.e.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

from 20000 Lieues Sous les Mers (Jules Verne's 20000 Leagues under the Sea)

Octopus Lovecraft
by Calyn W.

A cat dressed as a woman tapping the head of an octopus
by Utagawa Kuniyoshi, 1797-1861

Octopus quilt
by Marjan Kluepfel

Coming out of the water
by Rococco LA

Pink Octopus
by Eve Lynch- Kraken Mosaics

"Poulpe Colossal" attacks a merchant ship
Pierre Dénys de Montfort (who heard descriptions of French sailors reportedly attacked by such a creature off the coast of Angola)

by Victor Hugo


* These would make cute octopus valentines
* The making of an octopus lamp
* A fun idea for making inflatable sculptures (one example is a squid)
* A handmade octopus mug
* Working on printable tentacle parts
* Origami squid instructions

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Random Acts of Kindness Week

Foo Foo and Sugar

Random Acts of Kindness Week is coming: February 13th - 19th, 2012.

How to celebrate?

* Downloadable Random Acts of Kindness bookmarks
* Random Acts of Kindness.org also has School Activity Ideas
* Help Others.org has a long list of idea links.
* Gives Me Hope has a random acts of kindness page.
* Pay It Forward Experience will have a SKYPE call with your school or group.
* Free compliments
* The Web is a Random Act of Kindness, a TED talk video.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Prince Igor

In winter I can only compose when I am too unwell to give my lectures. So my friends, reversing the usual custom, never say to me, ‘I hope you are well’ but ‘I do hope you are ill.’
~ Borodin

I thought I'd featured chemist/composer Alexander Borodin's Prince Igor before, but I couldn't find a Music Monday post about it. So here it is!

Borodin hadn't quite finished work on Prince Igor when he died in 1887, so his friends Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Alexander Glazunov completed it for him.

Prince Igor links:

* A plot summary
* To buy the DVD
* More about Borodin on Classical.net

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Owly Valentines and Googly-Eye Rings

I showed you my youngest's valentines last year. Here are this year's:

(We got the idea from Larissa Holland)

Need to keep an eye on something? My daughter also made this googly-eye ring:

The pipe cleaner makes it the most comfortable ring around.

Friday, February 3, 2012

March Madness Poetry Tournaments

If you're a teacher and you're wondering how to celebrate National Poetry Month, here's an idea that you can start in March but can take you through April -- a March Madness Poetry Tournament.

The National Council of Teachers of English says:
The idea is to create a basketball tournament-pairing chart like the NCAA does each year in March using poetry and determine a final winner by reading the poems. Choosing the poems and who will read them are the big decisions. Locate 64 poems and pair them off, just like basketball teams. Read two poems each day and let the students vote on the “winner.” Do this until you have a final four and the final winner.

More suggestions from the NCTE regarding selecting the poems:
Locate poems written by poets found in all four compass directions in the US---East, West, North, and South similiar to the basketball brackets.
If 64 is too many, just start at 32, the second round in the 64 field.
Break it into two sections, representing the two sides of the tournament. Poems that are a little "harder" are on one side and "easier" poems on the other.
Create themes for each day of poetry such as death, humor, love, growing up, sports, and others.

What poems would you have in your tournament? What would you pit against each other? For teens, I might use...

* Allow Me to Introduce Myself by Charles R. Smith vs. "I’m A Jazz Singer," She Replied by James A. Emanuel
* Missing by Cynthia Cotten vs. I'm Making You Up by Chrystos
* Did I Miss Anything? by Tom Wayman vs. Totally Like Whatever, You Know? by Taylor Mali
* Prayer to Laughter by Tom Agard vs. If You Had To by Sam Green or Valentine for Ernest Mann by Naomi Shihab Nye
* The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry vs. The Patience of Ordinary Things by Pat Schneider
* I Told You by Ella Wheeler Wilcox vs. The Summer Day by Mary Oliver
* It's all I have to bring today by Emily Dickinson vs. Question by May Swenson
* In a Dark Time by Theodore Roethke vs. The Panic Bird by Robert Phillips
* Facing It by Yusef Komunyakaa vs. Here, Bullet by Brian Turner
* Quarantine by Eavan Boland vs. Time Does Not Bring Relief by Edna St. Vincent Millay
* Count That Day Lost by George Eliot vs. When You Go Anywhere by William Stafford

More Poetry Ideas for Classrooms

The Iris Chronicles has the Poetry Friday round-up today.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Sara G. Umemoto

Surrealism was a perception of reality over which reason was denied the opportunity to exercise confining restrictions.
~ John Herbert Matthews

Thank you to Ms. Umemoto for allowing me to share her art today! There are surrealism/conceptual art lesson plan links at the bottom.

Passing Through
by Sara G. Umemoto

by Sara G. Umemoto

by Sara G. Umemoto

by Sara G. Umemoto

Last Dance
by Sara G. Umemoto

by Sara G. Umemoto


* Dali-centered plans from the Dali Museum
* Surrealistic Pen and Ink Montage (grades 6 and up- I would like to try this myself)
* Alice in Wonderland-centered plans (grades 9 and up)
* Create a surreal postcard (grades 5-7)
* Doodles and Form (grades 6 and up)
* Surreal clay animals (grades 3 and up)
* Introduction to conceptual art (all grades)