Because sometimes you just have to say yes!

Even though you know there is bound to be paint somewhere that needs scrubbing despite ALL the paint already tucked up and away on the highest shelf.

Even though little hands will not follow ever-so-carefully demonstrated directions of how to keep colors seperated and beautiful.

Even though it takes way longer to prepare to paint then it does to actually partake in painting.

Even though the very thought of allowing paints out makes you cringe in absolute fear and terror.

Sometimes you just have to say yes because there will never be a right time and you can’t imagine any other project that brings such intense joy and concentration to their sweet faces.

This is the mantra I’m still telling myself. I took pictures to prove to me how right I was to say yes. I knew I had to because tomorrow when I do find that mysterious paint spill somewhere other than where they painted, I will need to look at the pictures and remind myself all over again why I said yes as I alternate breathing and counting to ten and scrubbing.

 

Advertisements

An Impromptu Art Lesson

My son has been taming a cat. Well, more an adorable fuzzy little ball of black fur kitten. He’s the runt of the country kittens living under our porch. And he’s not doing well. He’s being pushed out by the others and not allowed to feed. He’s learned to trust us, especially Luc, as we’ve tried to supplement him a bit food-wise. But he’s not gaining weight and he’s sick. It’s quickly turning into winter weather and I fear he isn’t going to make it.

Luc has become quite attached. He plays with him daily (don’t worry, we bought him a flea collar). The cat has come to trust him. His name is now Hershey. How could I possible stand by and let him die in front of him? And trust me, if I could I’d run this little bundle of fuzzy joy to the nearest vet, get him his shots and meds and take him inside to become part of the family in an instant. All Luc is asking for is this kitten for Christmas as his pet. He offered to take his portion of Christmas money for presents and give it to little Hershey to pay for vet bills. But there’s this little thing of allergies and a rental agreement standing in our way.

So we did the best thing we could in this situation. We took him to the Humane Society. It was daddy’s idea and I was so thankful that we could take him to a place where he would be cared for and adopted out while giving my kids a chance to see all the other little kitties and animals up for adoption. The kids loved seeing all the little critters. They were making their lists and pleas as to what they wanted when we buy our house.

I’ll admit, Luc held up like a champ. But he lost his friend. He was a sad mess most of the night. He held on to Lily’s little stuffed black cat trying to soothe his heart loss and he cuddled next to mommy a lot and we talked, for the millionth time, about why we couldn’t keep little Hershey and why Santa still can’t bring a real cat for Christmas.

And I’m not sure what inspired the request but suddenly I found myself at the learning table drawing a kitten for Luc. Luc and Lily were amazed at my drawing ability (not stellar, but not bad) and were suddenly inspired to draw something in a realistic way too. Suddenly everyone was drawing and I was reminiscing about drawing when I was little and Lily was oohing and aahhing trying at my old stuff and trying her hand at different techniques. And before we knew it, Drawing in Color (the most amazing kids art book ever) was pulled out and kids were flipping and experimenting.

I was amazed at the results. Here is this 5 year old boy and 8 year old girl just producing these images that blow their usual drawings out of the water. These are the homeschooling moments that I live for! And they never happen when planned! Lily asked if tomorrow she could draw some more. She said she wants to do it for school and even in her free time. I’m looking forward to what their free time will be filled with over the winter. Audio books here we come!

Lily's Cat - 8 years old

Luc's Cat - 5 years old

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

A Mother’s Love Photography

picture courtesy of A Mothers Love Photography

I recently had the privilege of working with Shana Couch from A Mothers Love Photography on some newborn pics of baby Eli. These opportunities don’t come along often and I was very pleased with the results. Check out Baby Eli’s pics here and consider her for your next photo op…especially with the holidays coming up!

picture courtesy of A Mothers Love Photography

John James Audubon Study – Part II

Sorry this second part of the post has taken so long to get to. There are a few reasons that is…the first of which is we actually started the study this week so we have been busy with school. The second of which it is nice outside and we have been trying to get the first of garden preparations done.

Now I have split this up into categories to be user-friendly, but we will actually be tackling the study on a much more interest-led-see-where-the-day-brings-us way. I find we actually accomplish more this way because one thing will lead into another. If I just do a “Well, children, this is what we are doing today,” I get accosted with groans and mumbles. I leave those for our formal math-latin-grammar work! Some of the books fit into more then one category but I tried to pick the category we would most be utilizing it as. And you may think that you have some books that you would add to categories as must haves, especially in the Literature section. That may be. I only listed what I had available to me that we already owned or that I could readily find at the library.

Our Bird Shelves

Activities

  • Learning the history of who John James Audubon was and what he contributed to America. (History)
  • Learning about naturalists ~ who they are and what they do. (History & Social Studies)
  • Narrations on books read (Reading Comprehension, Assimilation & Logic, Grammar, Writing)

  • Learning about the egg and its development from embryo till birth. (Science)
  • Learning about the feather and how flight works. (Science)
  • Learning Bird Anatomy through 3 part cards Download here for free. (Science)

  • Learning to recognize bird calls and songs. (Science and Music)
  • Learning to identify birds by sight. (Science Classification)
  • Playing our Montessori Bird Puzzle. (Good for the toddlers to do while reading bird books to the older children.)

  • Taking nature walks to practice birding skills and look for treasured feather finds. (Science, Physical Education)
  • Practicing sketching and watercolor/colored pencil techniques with drawing birds and eggs. (Art)
  • Playing with our Audubon stuffed birds (also helps in recognizing bird calls) (Assimilation)

  • Reading poetry and children’s literature about birds and other springtime animals. (Literature & Poetry)
  • Memorizing poetry about birds. (Poetry)
  • Copywork on spring poetry, narrations, original Audubon writing excerpts (Penmanship, Grammar, Poetry & Literature)
  • Listening to our For the Birds CD (Music, Poetry, Science)

John James Audubon History Biographies (all preread to be excellent living books although the first two are my favorites!!!)

Birds (References, Field Guides, Science)

Bird Music

Bird Art & Sketching

The basket that holds our colored pencils and sketchbooks.

Inside our Nature Walk basket.

Other Naturalists (Supplemental Reading or rabbit trails – these are just the ones we happened to see at the library, by no means the only good books on them!)

Literature (have included other spring animals as well for the season of spring)

Foreign Languages ~ French (Audubon was sent over from France to avoid the Napoleonic French War ~ Lily picked up on the French phrases in the biographies we’re reading and wnted to know more)

And, last but never least, our Easter selections. They are included here because we will be reading them alongside this study. It goes perfectly with spring and the egg ~ the renewing of life. And we want our children to know that the only reason we get to enjoy all else is because of this most amazing sacrifice on the cross. Would love to celebrate this more formally with Lent but did not have time to research a book I wanted to put the time or money into. We will do that for next year. Am open to suggestions in the comment box.

Easter

Our marbled eggs that the kids love to feel and play with.

The Learning Room

March 1-18th, 2010

It’s been a while since I’ve had a moment to really sit down and list what we’ve been studying. I’ve been trying to jot it – very rough hand – on a piece of recycled paper that generally floats somewhere around my computer. So I’m going to try and make heads and tails of it today and put it into a list. I want to get it down in a permanent place before officially starting our Audubon study. Sorry if this is long-winded.

History

We have been wrapping up the Colonial & Revolutionary War period. I keep thinking we’re done and then I find another great book to read on the topic. I just recently got a paid membership (because I live outside city limits) to the Omaha Public Library and am so excited to be able to resource their books now as well as the Bellevue Library’s.  We also worked a bit of seasonal history in with the study of St. Patrick.

  • Read Katie’s Trunk by Ann Turner (a wonderful story from the oppositte viewpoint of a “Tory” – a heart tugger and written in beautiful literary style)
  • Lily did a narration of Katie’s Trunk and drew a picture to go with her narration.
  • Read Can’t You Make Them Behave, King George? by Jean Fritz (delightfully funny and kept the kids interest despite the longness of the book – wonderfully written.)
  • Gabe read What’s the Big Idea, Benjamin Franklin? independently (also by Jean Fritz) and did a narration.
  • Gabe copied the Preamble to the Constitution in cursive for penmanship and filed it under the proper time in his Book of Centuries. Lily did the same, but only copied the title and date and did it in manuscript.
  • Both copied the title and date of the Declaration of Independence and filed it in their Book of Centuries.
  • Worked some more on colonial paper dolls but they kind of petered out on this.
  • Read, as a family, Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland by Tomie de Paola and discussed the reason we celebrate St. Patrick’s.
  • Reviewed through their Book of the Centuries notebooks.

Literature

  • Read The Last Snake in Ireland: A Story About St. Patrick and discussed the literary style of a legend versus fictional and nonfictional work.
  • Started reading I Samuel from the Old Testament with Dad this week. He wants to take the kids personally through a Bible Study of I & II Samuel and I & II Kings so they can hear the many wonderful stories that most kids don’t hear in church to broaden their view. The kids are enjoying this because daddy makes storytelling come alive and seem adventurous that just doesn’t work when I read.
  • Dug out all the Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit series for the spring/Easter season and the kids have been requesting them regularly. I’ve only collected them when I can at thrift stores because I want the tiny handheld size that the kids cherish. I could easily get a big anthology book of them at any discount bookstore but there is just something about them being pint-sized that the kids adore. Also listening to the collection on audio.
  • Started Funny Frank by Dick-King Smith.
  • Read Winnie the Pooh’s Easter by Bruce Talkington
  • Read many, many poems from My Poetry Book about spring, mud, birds…a little of everything.
  • Gabe and Lily have been doing lots of reading on their own. Gabe is currently on a Roal Dahl kick and picked up BFG and James and the Giant Peach for this week as well as finishing a “Choose Your Own Adventure” that dad has introduced him to as well as rereading Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. Lily is practicing hard in any spare moment on whatever book interests her. I see her reading improving everyday and she is wanting to be more grown up and read chapter books like Gabe. Her top pick for the week: A Pickle for a Nickel by Lilian Moore (a chapter book she borrowed from a friend.)
  • Gabe has been reading Where the Sidewalk Ends and memorizing his favorite poems.

Grammar & Writing & Phonics

  • Gabe and Lily both did copywork to improve penmanship (see History above). Lily also finished her Kumon: Uppercase Letters book and worked some in her Kumon: Lowercase Letters book. Gabe is doing extremely well with his cursive. Although, he has naturally good penmanship.
  • Lily also used the Kumon letter cards and practice paper to particularly work on the capital ‘N’ (as she is still doing it backwards) and the lowercase ‘g’ (getting the tail below the line).
  • Gabe worked in his Language Lessons book with sentence combining and how to break up run-on sentences.
  • Lily worked in her Language Lessons book with more phonics work, copywork, reading practice, sentence practice, and poetry with picture narrations.
  • Luc worked on phonics intensively. He sat down and practiced Hop on Pop with me and we also played a phonics game together. He worked with the Kumon letter cards and short word vowel cards almost daily. Him and Delilah both watched Talking Words Factory several times and are enamored of the sticky-icky-rama vowel machine.
  • Gabe was asked to do a short essay by dad on 6 things that he will not be mastered by.
  • Gabe dictated to me a first draft narration for his independent history reading and we will be using next week as a chance to practice editing, using editing marks, when to use pronouns, and when to break up paragraphs.
  • Both Lily and Gabe started Commonplace books this week. They are notebooks that the kids can write special book/poetry/music/inspirational passages in, journal in, take notes on nonfiction books in, draw pictures in, etc. It is a pretty open-ended project. We will be doing it officially on Friday afternoons but they spent most of the night with them and then took them to bed to sleep with. What I am hoping to accomplish with this is twofold: 1) to encourage writing, penmanship, grammar usage, spelling practice and promote higher level thinking skills of reading comprehension at pulling and assimilating information from books (a study skill that will benefit them in all walks of life) and 2) to do purposeful work – that is, have a place where they can record or write about things that are not required of them but that they think is important or worthy enough to be recorded on paper. Gabe has already made a science diagram summary after reading a new science book and Lily has recorded two poems and drawn several pictures.
  • Lily has been writing her own poetry and drawing pictures to go with them.
  • Lily and I used a new system to help practice her reading. Will write about soon. She used the system with much success with the book Red Fish, Blue Fish.
  • Lily read Word Bird’s Spring Words and decided to make her own word flash cards (spent 3 hours on this project of her own choosing!).

Math

  • Gabe did chapter 17 and started chapter 18 in his Math U See book (multiplication of 6’s and 7’s).
  • Gabe independently read (3 times at least that I saw – and it’s a chapter book!) Do You Wanna Bet: Your Chance to Find Out About Probability by Martha Weston. He greatly enjoyed this book as it expanded on his dad’s conversation of what statistics are.
  • Lily did her Math U See Primer book about solving unknown equations in addition problems and learning place value with tens and one hundreds. We used her new Montessori number tiles with the place value exercises and these helped out SO much! Loved them!
  • Lily practiced her Kumon Number Flashcards (numbers 1-30 with extra emphasis on 2, 7, 9) in order to master writing the numbers the proper way and to help with number recognition. Still having a bit of trouble turning around numbers like 12 and 21.
  • Lily finished her Kumon: My Book of Numbers 1-30 book and recieved her certificate. She worked really hard at this and did about 20 pages (4-6 hours worth) in two days time of her own accord. This just clicked for her and she wanted to really work on accomplishing the book. She wants to start the Kumon: Easy Telling Time book next so I think that was her motivation.
  • Luc read (with me) Can a Dinosaur Count & Other Math Mysteries by Valorie Fisher – a great living math book that we will come back to. Depending on child’s ability, this book can be used at multiple levels.
  • Luc has also read the How Do Dinosaurs Count to Ten? book almost daily and practicing counting on all the pages.
  • Gabe and Lily watched Cyberchase videos: Equations ~ A Battle of Equals and Patterns ~ The Poddleville Case

Latin

  • Gabe learned new words: navigo, memoria, fortuna
  • He also practiced his flashcards (with new words and dipthong sounds) every school day.

Science/Art/Music/Gardening – interchangeably life!

  • Gabe has been reading Rocks and Minerals and collecting rocks outside with a specific interest in the softness or hardness of rocks and whether they can write or not (all based on a question he had one day about his pencil).
  • Lily had me read certain portions of Pandas: A Portrait of the Animal World after getting a new stuffed panda with her own money at the zoo gift shop. We learned that there are only 9 pandas in all the zoos and only one of those is in the U.S.!
  • Luc has been collecting “fossils” outside – basically any rock he finds that is jagged, not smooth that looks bonish-sorta-colored.
  • We’ve not really ‘officially’ started our bird study, yet birds seem to be abounding everywhere. We’ve been listening to bird sounds for identification (through some birding CD’s we have and googling those we don’t have). We’ve been reading field guides galore on our favorites (more the kids doing this…especially Luc). The little ones have been playing with our Audubon stuffed birds (Did I say playing? I meant fighting!) from morning till bed time. We’ve taken walks and listened to see what birds we could identify (so far only a Mourning Dove, a Cardinal, and a Woodpecker). The balcony windows have been another flocking place for the kids, especially first thing in the morning, as they are shouting for me to come look and see what bird it is (mainly cardinals – the kids favorite right now – the stuffed bird most fought over). The kids are going crazy with drawing birds, especially Lily. And I haven’t even introduced the watercolor/colored pencil sketching we’re getting to with that. And we’ve been reading lots of bird poetry and listening to songs about birds which inspires more bird drawing. Even made a mixed bird CD (will tell about in the Audubon Study – Part II post)!
  • Read chapter 4: The Robin of Birds at Home by Marguerite Henry (one of the best living books on birds we’ve found. This has been their favorite so far…comes out and stays out all day along with the field guides) and Lily did a volunteer narration and picture of it.
  • Been starting work in the garden, uncovering mulched beds, looking for new perennial growth, planting seeds indoors (our broccoli is the first to sprout).
  • Been looking through DK’s Visual Dictionary on Skeletons (not just human, all kinds!) which is an amazing book and is hard to tear your eyes away from! Will have to own this one…is going on my Amazon wish list. Must see what the others in the series are like.
  • Gabe and Lily have officially taken the sketchbooks outside to start capturing spring.

The Project Room

Gabe and Lily are loving using their project room. They have been in there almost every second of the day making and crafting. The only time they emerge is to eat, play outside, or (for Gabe only) to get his computer time (Lily is more than happy to give her’s up for more craft time). Things they have made:

  • Day One: made goody bags for each other with cards and homemade toys specific to the others interest. Was very sweet really and I tried not to cringe at how much tape was used. That’s what the Dollar Store is for, right?
  • Using recyclable bin to refurbish into new uses.
  • Making caterpillars and “squirmels” out of pipe cleaners, googly eyes, and pom poms.
  • Making mosaic pictures out of the dried beans (suppose to be used for preschool math counters!).
  • Scrapbooking.
  • Reading.
  • Journaling in notebooks.
  • Drawing and coloring pictures.

Field Trips

  • The Henry Doorly Zoo (exhibits: the cat complex and the aquarium)
  • The Rose Theater to see There’s An Alligator Under My Bed (a play adaptation of several of Mercer Mayer’s books).

Creative Play…Telling Stories

holy experience

Every person is made by love and we are love and we can’t stop makingLove makes. God is Word because He must express and we are made in His image…All our lives we all need to create because creativity is the life breath of our Creator Father and if we don’t create we breathe stale air and we wither dry.     ~Ann Voskamp (visit her beautiful creations here)

Yesterday I told of our wonderful “lazy” day off and the fun watercoloring technique that we discovered. Today I would like to share with you the beautiful results of that playing.

Lily started playing with just mixing colors in different combinations with the Tombow Dual-Brush pens.

Then she experimented with mixing colors using the watercolor technique.

Next she actually started working on a picture concept. This one is my favorite that she did…a caterpillar walking on a stormy day.

Then she turned it all into a mini book called “The Color Book”.  I just love it! She even binded it with rings and all. She is my master storyteller.

Gabe was rather frustrated at first (being our perfectionist) that the water just blurred up all the hard work he just did with the markers.

His first attempt.

After calming him down and explaining what watercoloring is and how it works and then demonstrating it for him, he finally got the hang of it and set off to make a mini book on caterpillars.

My demonstration on how to watercolor a woolly bear caterpillar.

He was soon mixing mediums, adding in details with Lyra colored pencils (a wonderful brand!).

What he added to my picture.

His finished picture.

A monarch caterpillar that he made for Lily.

We are made in HIS image. I think we sometime forget this, especially as followers of Christ, as we are working so hard at obeying the word and training up our children and keeping our home. But HE was the Ultimate Creator!!! I love that He has allowed us freedom to play, move, stretch, express, play with perspectives, experiment, dabble, start over. This blog forum is that sort of creative outlet for myself and my photography. My garden is my outside canvas. But the ultimate of my creations (and HIS!!!) are these beautiful children. As I watch them stretch and grow, fail and perfect, I revel in their masterpieces and their trials and errors. They are so beautiful to me, whether it is the first scribbles of Lilah becoming interested in crayons at age 2, Luc making his first circle at age 3 or my oldest two dabbling in arts and crafts and using up all my tape in the process! It reminds me of a quote I came across a short while ago.

Many people have said to me ‘What a pity you had such a big family to raise. Think of the novels and the short stories and the poems you never had time to write because of that.’ And I looked at my children and I said, ‘These are my poems. These are my short stories.’     ~Olga Masters

And that just about sums it all up!