Of Love and Halloween

To commemorate Halloween, The Teaching Company is offering one free lecture by Professor Robert Greenberg on Hector Berlioz’s best-known work, Symphonie fantastique.

The inspiration for Symphonie fantastique was Berlioz’s (at first) unrequited love for the Irish Shakespearean actress Harriet Smithson. Dr. Robert Greenberg calls the introduction to the fifth movement “real Halloween music.” Berlioz “wants us to see in our mind’s eye a broken graveyard, a ruined church, a stinking vapor rising from the ground, vermin scurrying around, and in the middle of this churchyard a rude pine coffin.” Seems to me like a good way to encourage any youth in your house suffering their first broken heart that they will get through it, and maybe transmute suffering into beauty.

The lecture is free between now and December 31, 2007. You may download and listen to it at your computer, transfer it to your iPod or MP3 player, or burn it to a CD.

Sites for French learning

My friend Morgane Mathews was born outside of Mexico city to a Mexican family who moved to France when she was just four. She gifts some Massachusetts high schoolers with her creative instruction in French and in Spanish. I asked her for some websites to help my girls learn French (it was my father’s first language). Here are the links she sent with her own comments. Thank you, Morgane.


[Even a Halloween set…]

(this one is the main one but when you click on a link it sends you to a page where you have to create an account even though there is a hyperlink for a “guest”= “continuer comme invite”)

(this page is for guests)

(this site has many useful and interesting links, I have not visited them all but it’s very comprehensive)

(in English for all things French, great info for planning a trip)


(this is just a site for the pleasure of seeing what a small public grammar school looks like in France, it is called Comtesse de Segur because that was a famous writer who came from that area). [I would add that a documentary called Etre et Avoir that shows a small public one-room school in France is also beautiful]
(this is another very complete site of what is available out there for parents and kids: kid lit, magazines, pedagogical resources….)

( a site about general French culture facts)

(this is more advanced but great fun, maybe for later)

(this looked interesting for early FLE language development)
grammar, vocab, first contact…

(from the Embassy of France in the US)

(another general site for kids on French culture)

(internet games like hangman, wordsearches,…but quia is better)

Volunteer to Read for the Blind

ReadThisToMe.org is a service where folks with visual impairments can fax a document they need read to them, and folks who want to help with reading to them can volunteer (from anywhere in the U.S.!)!
It is free, except for the FAX for blind and low-visioned folks, and costs a long distance phone call with internet capabilities for the volunteer readers.
Blind users who want to hear about it this service can call: 1-877-333-8847.

If you would like to apply to be a volunteer reader, you can fill out the application form. OR: if your business would like to help by sponsoring this service, you can write to info@readthistome.org

Working Forum on Nature Education for Young Children (July 21 – 23, 2008)

Children are being adversely affected by our diminishing connection with the natural world. (Read more at our May 23rd and May 30th posts.) To address this concern, the World Forum Foundation supported the development of the Nature Action Collaborative for Children and organizes a major annual event to bring architects, community planners, early childhood educators, engineers, environmental educators, environmental activists, health specialists, and landscape architects from six continents together to promote nature education for young children. It takes place at Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City, NE.  Learn more.

Trash-Free Lunches

Every year, an average child dumps 67 pounds of lunchbox trash. Earth 911 contributor Laurel Peltier provides these simple tips for packing a trash-free lunch for your children:

  • Send food in re-usable lunchboxes instead of paper bags (Also, remember if using a soft lunchbox that contains “PVC”, consider testing the bag for lead).
  • Instead of plastic wrap, foil or baggies, pack food in re-usable plastic containers.
  • Consider buying foods in bulk or in larger boxes and packing a portion in re-usable plastic containers.
  • Send drinks in a shatterproof thermos, a re-usable drink container (some are available with ice cores built into the bottle) or send in bottled water and recycle the bottle when it returns home.
  • Try cloth napkins, or re-usable silverware that can be washed at home.

Read more at Earth911.org.