Monday, March 29, 2010

7 Spring Activities in 7 Hours

1. Count your chicks before they hatch
Write an upper case letter on one half of your eggs and the corresponding lower case letter on the other half. Separate and let the kids match them up. For younger kids, give them only one egg of each color at a time, for easier matching.
This was our only "indoor time" today; it kept the little people occupied while I loaded the schoolbooks and picnic basket.

(I love my BIG cup!)

2. Get your troops outside!

As far as my Oldest Boy, NatureMan, was concerned, this was the best recess in history. 3.Paint up Prettier Plates!

Each of the kids painted a wooden plate with a solid color. This took all of 2 minutes. When they dried (5 minutes, in the sun,) the kids used the end of a pencil dipped in paint to make dots. The ArtistChild and I added the stripes. More pictures of our plates here.
4. Search-and-Find worms

Do you see it?
I'm sure the boys were listening along to the history lesson at this point (cough, laugh)

5. Play in the moat.

Thanks to big brothers, we had more
Mud Fun today.

Yes, if we run out of mud, we just make more.
**Quick bath after that.**

6. Watch for airplanes

Rest, Make faces, and Repeat

7. Play with Fire
My man is a bit of a pyro.
Using the "new" plates we painted.
(The plates are covered with varnish, and we'll use glass plates over them when we eat.)
This picture looks so gross but, really, is it possible to ever make hot dogs and catsup look appealing?

This, my friends, was a splendid day. I have the sunburn to prove it.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Tinted glasses in a rosy world?

I've said it before and I'll say it again, my Art Site and "Home" overlap constantly.

Art is a way of life for us, not just something we make time to do.
Education and art are so interwoven that it's difficult (and so sad) when people attempt to separate the two. The connection between drawing and geometric shapes and measurements simply cannot be denied. I would also argue that writing is just a special form of drawing. Then there are Nature Notebooks, history time lines (which are always enhanced by drawings,) and spiritual development. Surely our Creator has given each of us creativity to use and find joy in, and He delights when we take pleasure in it. I believe people often see art as occasionally supplemental but even unecessary, if time doesn't allow. They are missing out.

Besides the obvious blessings (right??) here are some additional benefits of Art:

There are tight correlations between artistic endeavors and cognitive abilities, which I don't find the least bit surprising. You can read about that here.

Art encourages people to ask questions, and reflect on meaningful ideas that are often overlooked in the daily hustle and bustle of activity. Stop. Think. Question. Reflect. Act.

Art makes people think about ways life might one day be different. This is one of my favorite activities for our sketchbook. "What would you like to invent someday, to help the world?" "What do you think this city will look like in 100 years?" "Show me some future robots."

Art can start the ball rolling to exchange thoughts, feelings, and ideas among total strangers who would ordinarily not talk to one another.

Art teaches children to be creative and have fun with life. They can lay their dreams and ideas out for the world to see, often expanding their ideas in the process.

Art enhances life. We interact with people all day, but there are also interactions with art going on, whether or not you realize it. A painting, billboard, commercial, or sculpture can inspire you and even change the course of your thoughts.

These reasons are just the tip of the iceberg, really. I could go on (and I'm sure I will, in a later post,) about how art relays information and opens windows into all kinds of treasures.

Never underestimate the power of art to make life better.

All that to say I teach with art. All the time. Every subject, every day.

Art relays information in such an amazing way, for any kind of learner. You talk about it as you do it, watch and learn, and put your self into it.

Yesterday the kids and I were talking about influences. Right action follows right thinking, and thinking is affected by what we put into ourselves. Our lifestyle, prayers, books, friendships, songs, and everything else affects how we see the world and how we react or respond to it. Every one has on their own "glasses." It's impossible for two people to always see eye-to-eye on everything, because their lives and experiences, thoughts and friends cannot be identical.

I don't know about you, but I tend to get in the most trouble when I expect people to act and think exactly like I would. It's not possible. So I've been doing extra "lessons" in hopes that my children will learn early on to live their lives in a rock-solid & secure way, while also attempting to look through other people's glasses.

We created these simple pages in our Art journals, to show that everything we put in affects how we see the world and how we act.

(I love that little scrap of paper, from my tea, that says "filterbag." That IS what happens; everything we encounter is filtered through our own perceptions.)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Joy of the Boy

Experimentation is an active science.
-- Claude Bernard

Ralph Waldo Emerson :
There was a never a child so lovely but his mother was glad to get him to sleep
Dirt is not dirty, but only something in the wrong place.
-- Lord Palmerston
I do believe we should sell all toys, and provide ample mud and sticks year round. My boys would be just as happy. And, for Christmas, only boxes....empty boxes.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Power of Nonconformity

You don’t have to live your life the way other people expect you to.
Not in thought, lifestyle, education, art.

Free Artwork courtesy of NarrowisthePath

God has a unique and amazing plan for each one of His children.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

artistic transformations

Today we did a magazine transformation challenge. I'll post the entire thing on our Art Site, but here's a preview:
I cut the heads off (or faces out of) magazine pictures (it's as fun as it sounds) and then let the kids "fill-in-the-blanks."


The other magazine transformations are here. I also used the chopped off heads as another prompt. It's a good get-you-started art diving board. The ArtistChild got fairly elaborate with hers, even drawing in background scenes and writing a story to go along with it.
Little Lad's Before shot

and After (uh oh, my little man looks like Hitler!)

Monday, March 22, 2010

a well-fertilized cottage

I use my spring break to de-stress, re-group, relax, and regain my enthusiasm for the rest of the school year. Yeah, homeschool is great, but I'm only human. I get tired and frustrated just like anyone else. And, frankly, if I don't take the "me time" in the late evenings for my own hobbies, then I'm too empty to fill the kids up the next day. Last night I spent awhile just can see it here.
Therefore I don't clean in late evening hours ever, unless it's an emergency (which used to mean in-laws coming, but now I couldn't care any less.) Soooo, spring break always means some house catch-up stuff, like cleaning out the entry closet, packing up some of the winter things, even if we did just get a foot of snow dumped on us.
Four kids means 4x the mess. But you know what Solomon said,

"Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but much increase comes by the
strength of the ox" (Prov 14:4.)
I remind myself that the grass really is greener where there's the most fertilizer! ;-)

We're certainly doing fun things, too, particularly art. With the help of the older kids, I made a banner for Little Lad's upcoming birthday. Each triangle is a foot tall. It's a polka-dot-themed party, hence the selection of papers and ribbons.

And a smaller "party" sign that we'll string together with matching ribbon.

Don't get concerned if you're not invited. ;-) This is a mid-morning tot-party next month for just two of his little buddies and two toddler/baby cousins. I can't imagine hosting a toddler bash with a slew of the little monkeys!

In other news, sometimes when I'm cleaning, it's fun to spice up the decor. Eventually the kids will notice. Heh heh

My great-grandmother made this porcelain doll for me when I was a little girl. GI Joe gear comes in handy to rattle things up occasionally.

And what, dears, are you up to on these fine spring days??

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Coffee, in all it's glory

I've been ruined. My "coffee-friends," as I lovingly call them, have given me so much GOOD (roast your own, grind your own, make you own in a French press and add almond syrup..mmm...) coffee, that nothing else tastes the same. It's comparable to eating "American-French" food and then going to France and eating the real thing. You can never go back.

Now, because of my darling coffee obsessed friends, I've had to study the differences between coffee presses and drip coffee makers. I grind my own beans. In fact, even my grinder is getting an upgrade to the newest Burr grinder. The best. I dream of sitting outside next to roasting beans, letting the aroma wash over me.

When I shop for coffee, I have to squeeze the bags and sniff the fragrance that's expelled through the little hole near the top. If I buy it in the store at all. Tracy-dear has said that she just feels dirty standing near Folgers. I can relate. Now that I've been ruined. Lucky for me, this gal actually fair-trade buys her own green beans, roasts them, and sells them through her etsy account, or out of her home. Oh, a little piece of heaven. (By the way, she's on a 5800 mile roadtrip right now, but I've sure there will be more coffee listed upon her return.)

I did realize something, though. Over the last few years, I think I've actually been drinking less coffee. I go to the microwave to heat meat for lunch, and there stands a cup of java sitting on the turntable, stone cold. "Oh, that's my coffee from this morning! I guess I forgot it was in there." I go to the microwave again to reheat my lunch because, really, everyone knows that moms eat standing up, walking around, and often forget about their food. Or is it just me? Again, coffee sits abandoned, stone cold. "Oh, that's my coffee from this morning! I guess I forgot it was in there."
At night I sit down to the computer...and guess what's next to the keyboard, stonecold? "Oh, that's my coffee from this morning!"

Apparently, I've been reheating the same cup of coffee since I had children. No wonder the Colombians have turned to marijuana as their primary export crop.

Do me a favor: If you call or email me, ask where my coffee is!!
And a tip. If you want some truly amazing coffee, I've heard this will hit the spot. I just may have to place an order!!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Sister Night

I'll get to the St. Patty's pictures, the co-op pasta bridge competition, ballet pictures, cooking club...
but the crafts and activities pale in comparison to the people...
Particularly these people, my fabulously lovely little sisters.
A sister is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost. ~Marion C. Garretty Ah, yes, the parking lot at Promenade must have enjoyed our hyper frenzied laughing and jumping.

Children of the same family, the same blood, with the same first associations and habits, have some means of enjoyment in their power, which no subsequent connections can supply... ~Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, 1814

To the outside world we all grow old. But not to brothers and sisters. We know each other as we always were. We know each other's hearts. We share private family jokes. We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys. We live outside the touch of time. ~Clara Ortega

How do people make it through life without a sister? ~Sara Corpening

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

To tide you over...

I'm repainting The Artist's room tonight, and decorating in her favorite (read: obsession) horse decor.
That said, I'm tight on time, and also have to get up and out the door before 7am to babysit Julie's kids.

Soooo, one picture for now. It's an awesome One.

Yes, there's my MiddleBoy, Dash, eating his green eggs (he's already chowed the ham at this point,) drinking his green milk in his Dr. Seuss cup, with his shamrock straw, and posing in his Seuss hat with a sword (don't ask me.)

I love it. I love his look-at-me-because-I'm-so-cute-and-ornery expression, and his thumbs-up!

This was a good day. In spite of the crappy weather.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Saint Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick's Day is much more important than most people realize, and is celebrated in many places with parades, songs, and lengthy festivities. *Someday* we'll go somewhere to participate in this!! Yes, I still have my dreams of traveling the globe with the kids. I loved traveling when I was a kid, and want the same experiences for my munchkins. But, anyway...

About Saint Patrick's Day
Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated each year on March 17th. In Ireland, Saint Patrick’s Day is both a holy day and a national holiday. Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland as he was the one who brought Christianity to the Irish.

According to legend, Saint Patrick used a shamrock to explain about God. The shamrock, which looks like clover, has three leaves on each stem. Saint Patrick told the people that the shamrock was like the idea of the Trinity – that in the one God there are three divine beings: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The shamrock was sacred to the Druids, so Saint Patrick’s use of it in explaining the trinity was very wise.

Although it began in Ireland, Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated in countries around the world. People with Irish heritage remind themselves of the beautiful green countryside of Ireland by wearing green and taking part in the festivities.

Saint Patrick’s Day is usually celebrated with a parade. The one in Dublin, Ireland is known to some as the Irish Mardi Gras. But the one in New York City is actually one of the biggest. It lasts for hours. Two Irish wolfhounds, the mascots of the New York National Guard infantry regiment the “Fighting 69th”, always lead the parade. More than one hundred bands and a hundred thousand marchers follow the wolfhounds in the parade.

Saint Patrick and the Snakes:
Another tale about Patrick is that he drove the snakes from Ireland. Different versions of the story, tell of him standing upon a hill, using a wooden staff to drive the serpents into the sea, banishing them forever from Ireland.

One version says that an old serpent resisted banishment, but that Patrick outwitted him. Patrick made a box and invited the snake to enter. The snake insisted it was too small and the two argued. Finally to prove his point, the snake entered the box to show how tight the fit was. Patrick slammed the lid closed and threw the box into the sea.

Although it’s true that Ireland has no snakes, this likely had more to do with the fact that Ireland is an island and being separated from the rest of the continent the snakes couldn’t get there. The stories of Saint Patrick and the snakes are likely a metaphor for his bringing Christianity to Ireland and driving out the pagan religions (serpents were a common symbol in many of these religions).
For us, this is a week-long celebration. It would be overwhelming to do all the crafts in a day, and learn about the significance of the holiday.

Yesterday we just talked about the meaning of the holiday, who St. Patrick was, and where Ireland is. I worked with the two littlest people, using the book "Little Blue and Little Yellow", by Leo Lionni to teach them about color mixing.

Then we read Seuss's Green Eggs and Ham and made shamrock pom pom pencil toppers.

I printed out our lapbook mini-books and activities (yes, all 18 pages) from Homeschool Helpers.

Day 2 supplemental activities:

We're going to make these Shamrock Puppies (littlest boys) and the older kids can make button shamrock pins (three green buttons hot glued to a pin) and button covers (green felt cut into Shamrocks, with a slit in the middle.)

The older kids will do their lapbook activities on Ireland's population, traditions, cuisine, history, major cities, and so forth while the littles listen and color their St. Patty's Day pages.

Day 3 (actual St. Patty's Day) activities:
ALL GREEN: Green clothes and dishes
Green-dyed milk and eggs
Green leprechaun dust (pistachio pudding mix) outside that leads to his gold (gold coins,)
Lucky charms for a snack.
Green "tinkle" near the potty (that rascally leprechaun!)
I'd like to make green cupcakes with shamrocks on top
Fingerprint shamrock's on cards to give to grandparents
We'll be dipping our green veggies into green-dyed Ranch

Day 4 supplemental activities:

Red Shamrock Optical Illusion

more books-- always books, books, books.

Finish lapbook pages

Add St. Patrick and Ireland events to the Great Timeline in the kitchen

Day 5 supplemental activities:
to be announced. :-)

And pictures coming!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Chalkboard Paint

I've been working on some mini-projects over here, like this book, this altered clock, and the embroidered pillow, but the need for a bigger project was starting to press on me.
I've been aching to grab some chalkboard paint, but refrained until my To-Do list was a bit shorter. Finally, after the Free Yard "Sale," we had enough purged to straighten the shed and attic, and organize the playroom/little boys' room. And, as a reward to myself, I bought the paint and got busy!
Side of kitchen counters

Little side bench for kids to place shoes
The playroom door
I did this (both coats) after the kids went to bed, as a surprise for them.)
I think they like it! It's covered in adorable drawings now. My Dash spent a good part of the afternoon on a stool, doodling on the upper part of the door. (On the left you can see Little Lad's small chalkboard mounted on the wall. He still prefers it.)
Now, I'm not one to waste paint. If there is still some on the roller, then something is getting a makeover! Sooo, I hunted out a few wooden toys with blank backs, like this angel and the house. Now the kiddos can use them to create their own masterpieces.

I also painted some of my kitchen cupboards, some wooden goblets, and a serving platter. My gosh, I LOVE this stuff!