Monday, September 8, 2014

Art Appreciation Tea Party

On Thursday afternoons we have added to our schedule an afternoon tea party at 3:00 at which we will absorb and discuss various forms of art. I can't claim credit for this idea; I've seen it on several blogs, though I don't remember which blog I first saw the idea on. However, I was immediately in love with the idea, but it has taken a few years to actually get to doing it.

Last week we listened to orchestra music. This week we will learn about a famous artist and look at some examples of their work. Next week we will possibly choose to encounter a poet. We will continue on switching back and forth between artistic mediums.  

I have had Story of the Orchestra : Listen While You Learn About the Instruments, the Music and the Composers Who Wrote the Music! for three or four years now, but have never successfully integrated it into our curriculum consistently. It gives a simple history of the development of the orchestra and highlights famous composers and their contribution to the development of the modern orchestra. It also gives information about the various instruments and how they are used in an orchestra. Many of the pieces the boys actually already recognized form a former obsession with the kids' show Little Einsteins. Early Bird especially impressed me with his remembering some of the composer's full names.

We identified those songs that they or I knew and talked a little bit about the composer or the piece. Some of the pieces we talked about the music itself; identifying different instruments being played at the time, or what emotion the piece evoked. We did not listen to the entire CD that came with the book, as I had a doctor appointment to go to. But the boys really seamed to enjoy the music. They are fans of The Piano Guys on YouTube, and at times that I have played the full pieces of the parts that they have heard on Little Einsteins they have enjoyed. I hope, in time, with more consistency, we can all stretch in our exposure to the great composers.

Besides the music, this tea party was a great time to talk about visiting manners, noticing extra effort a hostess might put into a special occasion, and how to hold a tea cup with a saucer. We were extra gracious with our "if you please" and "why, thank you!" Early Bird even used his "proper voice" at the beginning. (If you're not flowing Sceleratus Classical Academy on Facebook, check it out to see the video and the story behind Early Bird's "proper voice.")

We also talked about the science behind why we preheat the tea pot with tap water before putting in boiling water, and why tea takes time to diffuse instead of being instant like Crystal Light or Koolaid.

Builder Boy is my little foodie, and very much enjoyed the special tea foods I prepared. Early Bird is more picky about what he eats, and stuck to just one thing. I plan on introducing new foods and special treats each tea; at least in the beginning.

Last week I made cucumber sandwiches, blueberry scones, and.....something that was being shared around facebook by all my friends which turned into a total flop. Perhaps you have seen this being shared
"The cake is a lie!"

This picture was accompanied by the instructions: "Fill muffin tins 1/2 full of PANCAKE mix and it will create a crater when it bakes. Bake at 425 for 8 minutes. Fill crater with something awesome like jam or fresh fruit or syrup or crumbled bacon!" This is NOT what happened. 

Peaks; the OPPOSITE of craters.

And judging by the comments on the original post that I only read after I tired it, it didn't work for other people either. After enough complaints, they amended their statement to say that if it doesn't work for you, then make foil cups and fill them with water on top of each pancake muffin while cooking.

No; I am not going to do that. A friend reverse google imaged (or something like that) the picture and came up with this recipe. I will try the new recipe this week. But last week, I had muffins instead of cups and it was almost tea time. So I scooped/cut off a portion of the muffins and put on some lightly sugared necatriens I had cut up for the cups to hold. It didn't look nearly as good, and the fruit kept falling off. But Lady Bug and Builder Boy loved the taste, so not a complete waste. But still.

The blueberry scones I used a Bisquick recipe. The end result was.... not picture worthy. I may have done something wrong. Also, a paper towel is NOT a good substitute for a pastry brush. I need a pastry brush. But three of the scones looked okay, and they were edible and the boys really liked them, and Lady Bug liked them, too. Next time though, I think I'll plan ahead better and maybe make real scones.

The cucumber sandwiches were just brown bread, cream cheese, sliced thinly cucumbers that had been stripe peeled, and a sprinkle of garlic salt. I cut off the crusts and then cut the sandwiches into triangles.

We tried a blueberry tea which Early Bird refused to try because it wasn't blue. I hope this week's tea goes a bit better.

Oh, and the tea set was purchased especially for these tea parties. Principal Daddy picked it up at Wal-Mart for $20. Here's a link if you're interested (non-affiliated link.) It's the Mr. Coffee Mr. Tea 14-Piece Tea Set with Caddy.


  1. I like the way you combine several different goals into one fun event. I am thinking about ways to adapt this to our house.

    1. Thank you for that! I'd love to see how other people would do this. :)


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