What you can do when have 10,000 boxes to play with...
(Inspired by Creating Clever Castles and Cars: From Boxes and Other Stuff )
What you can do when have 10,000 boxes to play with...
(Inspired by Creating Clever Castles and Cars: From Boxes and Other Stuff )
What we're up to:
Watching the Olympics -- trying to deduce the rules of curling without looking anything up. Wondering why it looks like they're using shower scrub brushes, and why brushing the ice in front of the stone makes it go where you want it to. Realizing that we have lived in upstate New York for 5 years now (almost) and have never been skiing or snowboarding. Wondering when hockey is on??? Working on a 2010 Winter Olympics unit study (Katydid) and remembering how very, very tall the ski jumps in Lake Placid are.
And also swimming and Marian Aides with the Little Sisters of the Poor (Katydid) and Farmerboy listening to The Goblet of Fire on CD over and over again (minus the last three discs, which are being held hostage by Gareth because he says they are too scary) and watching the snow blow out of our yard and into the road and wondering if the sun is ever going to come out again and knowing it will take a few months and building rock forts inside since the rocks outside won't be available until April and anyway, all the little boys have a cold and must stay inside out of the snow and wind. And building Sculpey creations to go in the rock forts, too.
And reading Susan Wise Bauer's History of the Medieval World and Sons of Charlemagne and, if you're Gareth, a bunch of old Anglo-Saxon poems, just for fun. And also if you're Gareth, you are beginning to think about Scout Camp and wonder if you might be able to work on the Sailing merit badge, because like the rest of us, you can't help dreaming of spring.
And me? I'm learning to soak grains and make old-fashioned oatmeal (soaked in buttermilk overnight) and getting in over my head because now the boys want "porridge" every morning, probably so they can pretend to be pioneers, and I do not have enough good glass or ceramic bowls to soak all the flour I need to keep everyone supplied with muffins and bread, and my counter space is really shrinking, but you know what? Oatmeal tastes better this way.
Katydid and Gareth were sick for at least part of week 12. When Katydid first came down with whatever it was, it sure seemed like it was flu because it had all the classic "flu" symptoms: chills, sudden onset, fever, sore throat, upset stomach, body aches. But it didn't spread to any of the little boys, really (although Farmerboy took a nap every afternoon that week.). So I have no idea what it was. The big kids all had their seasonal flu shots and the little boys didn't, so it seems odd that the kids who got flu shots would come down with a flu and and the kids who got no shots would avoid it. H1N1 was aboslutely rampant in our area that week, bad enough that several schools were closed, but... who knows. It was a mystery virus.
Anyway, because the big kids were sick, the week was mainly focused on little kids. We did manage to finally finish The Hobbit, and to start reading Our Island Story and The Story of Europe, both by H.E. Marshall. It felt good to get back to some history again. We're continuing to read A Life of Our Lord for Children by Marigold Hunt. This is the third book we've read by this author (The First Christians: The Acts of the Apostles for Children and St. Patrick's Summer: A Children's Adventure Catechism are the others) and the kids have enjoyed them all. More than that, they retain a lot from those books, some pretty deep concepts.
I'm afraid that we haven't done much that's special to mark any feast days lately, though... We make a point of praying for the Poor Souls every day, which I hope is enough.
The twins did a lot of "matching cards". I actually had to invent some on the spur of the moment, because they would go through a set and demand more. This is a Bug Bingo game. Technically, it's supposed to be played like bingo, but for our purposes, I gave them the boards and let them match the cards to the pictures on the boards.
Chipmunk liked searching for O's in the Alphabet Zoop cards. (He'd also already drawn on himself that morning, as you can see by the green on his cheek.)
In the afternoon we headed outside to play on the logs:
Tuesday morning was devoted to all things dinosaur. I got down a puzzle and the boys argued cooperated to put it together. I also printed out some matching cards and coloring sheets from this Homeschool Share dinosaur unit.
Katydid colored many saint paper dolls, but she immediately whisked them off to her room so I don't have any pictures.
Tuesday also happened to be Daddy's birthday, which he celebrated by making a business day trip and getting home late to eat cheesecake.
Daddy celebrated the day after his birthday by making a trip to Boston. The boys demanded American Revolution paper dolls. They also complained that they couldn't build really good castles because there weren't enough wall blocks for all 4 of them to use at the same time. I took a deep breath and offered to go down to the basement and bring up all the blocks I had taken away a few months ago because they were not being picked up in a -- shall we say -- timely and cheerful fashion. We spent the morning sorting and building with the "new" blocks:
That's what it looked like on Wednesday of last week. By Friday night, all the "new" blocks had been put up in a closet out of reach again, because that was the deal: If I bring these blocks out, you have to pick them up when you're told to, or I will have to put them away again. Oh, yes, Mommy, we'll pick them up, can we pleeeeese play with the blocks? Unfortunately, there was a breach of contract, proving yet again that home is not like school. Many of the Reggio books you read have fantastic block creations and/or block areas, or at the very least inform you that you are to include lots of different kinds of blocks and other materials for children to build and dramatize with. Personally, I agree. It is hard to build big castles if someone has used all the wall blocks. But at home with a large family, reality must be negotiated. I don't have time to pick up millions of blocks every day, and I shouldn't have to. (The two year old is actually far better at picking up than his brothers.) So at some point the environment must be used to teach responsibility, respect, and obedience instead of science, math, or anything else. In my experience anyway.
I do hope I can try again with the blocks, though, because I really like some of them, and so do the boys.
Thursday we went outside. We had been stuck inside for two days, which is not good for active young boys. (Can you hear my fear of winter?) Anyway, it was a bit chilly -- temperatures down around 40 -- so we put on our bigger coats and headed outside while the nearly-recovered big kids stayed inside where it was warm and read books.
Did you notice N's new glasses in the block picture? It turns out his eyesight is really bad, and that's the reason he has always seemed so clumsy (which is why we took him to our developmental optometrist at just barely 4 years old.) Now, his brother, J., has never seemed to trip as much or run into things as much, so I didn't schedule a screening for him. When N. got his glasses, J. was most upset. He therefore decided that he would wear his sunglasses just like N. wore his real glasses. So he put them on in the morning and took them off at night. I tried to comfort him by telling him that he does have an eye appointment scheduled in January, but of course that might as well be twenty years from now if you're 4.
(And, yes, we do still think they're identical. How identical is identical often depends on conditions for each in the womb, and N had to deal with an improperly implanted cord while J did not.)
Anyway, while we were out, we decided to take a short nature walk in the field, which was cut short by J being accidentally hit in the eye by Farmerboy. On our way back we stopped near the house to investigate the milkweed seeds by the deck. (J was feeling better by then.)
Friday is extra chore day, so mostly we clean. But in the morning, the boys set up some domino rallies...
8:30 AM -- the little boys have already watched Curious George, a Dinosaur Train episode about poop, been banned from playing monkeys (an old rule) and orangutans (a new rule), searched through a stack of old copies of Ranger Rick and Your Big Backyard to find animals they are allowed to play ("We could play worms, Mommy!"), requested a stack of books about "jungles", moved on to dinosaur books, asked if I could go downstairs to find the dominoes and what about "that number matching game?" (Triominos), set up domino rallies, argued about who has more dominoes, and received instruction in both counting and social skills. Can I take my shower now, please?
I was going to do a 7 Quick Takes post, but never got the chance.
So that was our week, with the exception of the picture books, of course...
Just the highlights... I imagine everyone in the US is either tired of pumpkins by now or has at least moved on to turkeys. Our turkeys are spending their last days out in the field eating pumpkin seeds, which gives one a completely different perspective on the usual turkey crafts that crop up during the month of November. But, back to Halloween. This is what we did during Halloween week:
( I'm going to start calling the twins by their initials instead of "Pip and Pop". I considered more pseudonyms like "Tom and Huck" or "George (Curious) and Dennis (the Menace)", but finally I thought that they will grow up one day. So Pop -- pictured here -- will now be known as "J." and Pip will be "N." Not as colorful maybe, but easier for Mama.)
J. produced a whole menagerie of "good animals" using 2 lbs. of Model Magic.
Chipmunk found Duplos to be good for squishing Model Magic. Here he's also shining a flashlight onto the blocks. Flashlights were also a fascination this week, probably as much for the way they could be put together and taken apart as for their light.
Model Magic after it has been impressed by Duplos.
Chipmunk also informed me that he needed better activities on his shelves:
Yes, those are plastic counters (fish mostly). And, yes, he did stick them all, one by one, through the bars of the fan. I could hear the sound of the counters in the container and on the floor, and silly me, I thought he was pouring them. But instead he invented his own Montessori activity.
We also did some painting, because J. wanted to paint his "good animals". Farmerboy had some problems with the dinosaur painting he wanted to make, so I took a piece of paper and sketched out a painting in the style that Farmerboy had wanted, demonstrating how to sketch with a small brush, how to make drips of paint into something else (birds, in this case), how to hide lines I didn't want... My picture is at the top. After watching me paint my picture -- just meant to help him learn to calm down, really, and deal with "mistakes" -- he decided to copy it. We used acrylics. Chipmunk mixed the blue paint for us. ;-)
We did do some pumpkin related "stuff" as well.
One morning while I read -- well, actually Gareth ended up reading more than I did, which has become a common occurrence lately -- I set out some construction paper shapes so the boys could make pumpkins. I had tried to suggest earlier in the week that we paint pumpkins, but that suggestion went over like a lead balloon. Nobody wants to paint the same thing. So we just did collage pumpkins.
After they were done, I mounted them on construction paper and put them on the wall of their bedroom, by request. J. (Pop) did the yellow pumpkin face and the pumpkin on the very bottom right corner. N's (Pip's) are the pumpkin that looks like it is set on a pedastal and the one mounted on green paper. As you can see some of the pumpkins have arms and eyebrows, yarn hair, and -- because we are talking about boys -- "bottoms". However, you cannot see the "bottoms" (insert wild giggling) because they are appropriately located on the backside of the pumpkins.
Farmerboy (I'll probably be changing his name, too, as soon as I decide on something) whisked his pumpkins away and taped them to the wall by the bed before I could mount them. (The pumpkin on the left has a mustache and a beard.)
Katydid did her own version of pumpkin collages, but made the collaged illustrations into a Halloween book for the boys.
(She used oil pastel for the drawings.)
(It's not a knife. It's a spatula.)
Weeks 8 &9 -- We finished up quarter 1... or at least we decided that we would take a break. Gareth attended a forestry program for Scouts, and earned most of his Forestry badge. It did not snow... much. I chickened out and did not take Farmerboy or Katydid to swim lessons on the day Gareth and Andy were at the Scout program, because taking 2 hyperactive 4 year olds and a 2 year old to any place with a large, deep body of water and no barriers is not my idea of a good time.
Week 10 -- we take a housecleaning "break". Mostly what we do is excavate the long hallway that serves as the playroom for Lego and Playmobil. (It has a door, so we can keep toddlers out.) It also seems to serve as the place where containers full of dirt, rocks, and worms are tipped over, if what I found in there is any indication. We also stripped the wallpaper off the boys' room wall, which was only half-wall papered because we'd stopped last year when it started turning out badly... and prepped it for painting. And we did an intensive clean of the family room, which also needs to be painted. Strangely, the family room doesn't look any better than when we started, but at least I know that the toys are all out from under the couch and the window screen and glass lamp shade are not full of dust and bugs. This is enough.
Weeks 8, 9, and 10 in a nutshell. :-)
A collection of photos from weeks 8, 9, and 10...
The biggest event: Gareth turned 13. I thought about making a big blog post, but... I was worried I might embarass him. So I'll just embarass him slightly here. ;-) 13 on the 13th...
I cleaned up and rearranged the nature area. From left: basket of river rocks, basket of feathers, basket of pine cones, plant press, tray with paper and pens for drawing, Timeline of Life, wooden trays of fossils. (It doesn't look this anymore, mostly due to use. I need to rearrange it again.)
Apples by Katydid, inspired by a drawing in Museum ABC...
Apples by Katydid, inspired by a photo from the Monthly Sketch Project...
A little Montessori...
And a nature walk.
Chipmunk is two now, and eager to join in with his big brothers -- whether it's playing knights, Jedi, or making art. Over the past few weeks, the boys have done some collage here and there -- usually to decorate a box they want to use as a ship (space or pirate). Chipmunk's approach to collage is a little different than the other boys', though.
When the other kids do art, we often talk about "filling up the page." That isn't a problem for Chipmunk.
Chipmunk's method is generally to dig out big handfuls of collage materials and dump them on the paper. This often gives good results, with a little adult spreading-out:
(I had an idea to try to draw the twins with their egg-interest into an activity using an egg-frame drawn on paper. I set out a whole bunch of materials, drawing pens, and oil pastels. The twins didn't want anything to do with it. But Chipmunk climbed up on the bench and got right to work.)
While we worked here -- Chipmunk scattering sequin shapes and me wielding a bottle of Elmer's glue -- I tried to emphasize that he needed to put the shapes on the glue or they wouldn't stick. I'm not sure how well that lesson "stuck", but we're working on it. What I will often do is to pour some glue (Mod-Podge is the glue I like best) into a bowl and give him a brush. He gets glue all over himself, but it washes off. And that way his "stuff" is almost guaranteed to stick. He can't use a bottle of glue yet, but he does like to have one if the other boys' are using bottles, too. If that's the case, I often squeeze out big loops of glue for him, and he just focuses on putting the materials onto it.
In the case of his "shiny egg", I have been thinking that maybe I could set out another one for him to make. Then I could cut them out and glue them together, back to back. Then I thought I might punch a hole in the top and hang it from the ceiling in the dining/learning room, where it could catch the light. We'll see if it pans out :-).
Here's another of his collages that I particularly like, and that I enjoyed watching him make:
You can see that I put down a little extra glue -- a bit ahead of where he was, I guess. Pop was using the beads for something else at the time -- gluing them on a box, I think, as "buttons". I started out by giving Chipmunk the long beads since he was insistent on having some. (He does still sometimes put things in his mouth, so while he's doing this work, I have to sit or stand beside him all the time. If he starts to put something in his mouth, I know he's done because he's not concentrating on his work anymore... he's beginning to just goof off. He knows he's not supposed to put the art materials in his mouth.) He began carefully putting the long beads together in a train. If there wasn't any glue beneath them, I moved them over just slightly -- trying not to disturb his concentration -- and squeezed out a bit of glue underneath it. He had to work very hard to put the beads down just so. It was good work for him, and he had that happy, fulfilled manner that Montessori talks about when he was done.
Of course, the busy weekend could be coloring my perceptions of the whole week. Swim lessons began (for Gareth, Katydid, and Farmerboy), violin lessons continued (for Katydid), there was a trip to the library, and the rain held off long enough for our Little Flowers and Blue Knights groups to meet at the Shrine of the North American Martyrs in Auriesville.
The shrine is built on the site of the martyrdom of St. Isaac Jogues and his companions. Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha was later born here, and baptized just a few miles away. We had a picnic lunch with one of the priests and the kids played soccer in the field by the gift shop.
Another important event this week...
So those were the special occasions. The boys had to unwrap presents early on Saturday morning as fast as they could, because Andy had to take Farmerboy to his swim lesson by 8 AM. I don't think it bothered them much, though. ;-)
Other highlights of week 7...
Inspired by a project in The Usborne Complete Book of Art Ideas, Gareth cut up an eraser to make his own stamps. He found that stamp ink worked better than the black tempera paint he started out with.
Gareth and Farmerboy also messed around with acrylics a bit...
Gareth's gas giants inside a nebula. As he was painting, he realized he had very little black paint. I provided him with a very cool book I bought off a bargain table several years ago, a collection of Hubble photos called The Universe. Since some regions of space are full of colored dust, Gareth decided that might work for his background. He tried to fill in some black in the gaps. This was basically a painting to experiment with the qualities of acrylic. Since I know very little about painting myself, I will need to do some research and experimentation to figure out how to extend his explorations. I find that this is the area in which I often fall down. I do a fair job at introducing the kids to novel materials and projects, but not such a good job at deepening skills.
Farmerboy was inspired by Gareth's painting, so he decided to paint his own planet:
The red circle is the planet, surrounded by purple atmosphere, streaming off into space.
Katydid and I fooled around with oil pastels this week. I sat down one day when the boys were stamping to experiment with blending oil pastels.
Katydid drew a landscape instead:
She and I also did some sketches for the monthly sketch project, but I'll put those in a separate post.
A Brief Summary of 1st grade academics:
I often forget to mention Farmerboy's academics, which are a little different (obviously) from the big kids'. This is what we're using:
Modern Curriculum Press Phonics A , spending a longer time working on consonant sounds, as he has some trouble remembering them
Handwriting Without Tears , the 1st grade book
A mish-mash of reading materials, including silly sentences I write for him, word cards I cut out from cardstock he can use to make his own silly sentences (silly is a big draw here), and Sonlight's I Can Read It! series (Book 1). I find the Sonlight stories a little weird in some places, but it's nice having them all together in a few books.
Mainly Montessori math materials... the 100 chain is what he has been interested in most since we began our school year in August. He's learned to lay out the tens cards and count the beads one-to-one to 100. He also counts on the 100 board, counts piano keys, counts lots of stuff spontaneously. When we first began, he would often skip numbers, had trouble remembering the -9 to -ty (29, 30, etc) transition, but he's got them down now. Last year I tried to use Singapore's kindergarten workbook with him, which was a disaster. He learned to write his numbers, but that was about it. (In my defense, I had to be able to do something with him while also rocking a baby for 2 hours every afternoon.) This year, since we've switched back to Montessori, is going much, much better. I've done presentations of the decimal system using base 10 blocks, and he is keen to be able to go on to the 1000 chain now that he can do the 100 chain.
A few words about the assortment of books here... on Sept. 29, the Feast of St. Michael and the Archangels, the kids reminisced about the year we made shields. So Farmerboy got off on a bit of a knight tangent. He made himself a cardboard and aluminum foil suit of armor, and shields for himself and his little brothers. The boys then added their own coats of arms. Why don't I have pictures? I have no idea.
And then... the duck and chick books. On and off for months, the twins have made it evident that they are fascinated with eggs. They pretend to be flood monsters hatching out of their eggs (they lie on their backs and put pillows on their bellies for "eggs"). They pretend to be gigantic plum-plums hatching of their eggs. (Pip's invention.) They pretend that they are chicks and I am the Mommy and they hatch out of their eggs and then go on the road. ("Chicks on the road!" they call just like we do when the chickens wander into the street.) Their dearest wish is that we would get a rooster so instead of eating our eggs, we would let some hatch. And then they became enamored of Daisy. So I have been canvasing the library shelves for chick/duck/egg picture books. I think I have found all of them by now, and will probably need to hunt through the rest of the library system.
(Ack! How could I forget? We also read Five Little Ducks about a million times this week!)
Read this week
Gareth: Peter and the Starcatchers, Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson; Fellowship of the Ring; St. Dominic and the Rosary (Vision Books); various Dig!, Muse, and Faces issues re: prehistory
Katydid: Little Women; Dealing with Dragons, Patricia Wrede; Louisa May Alcott issues of Cobblestone; Queen Victoria issues of Calliope; Dig! Neandertals
Read-alouds this week: The Hobbit (everyone); Farmerboy (little boys); Once Upon a Time Saints: Around the Year (appropriate pages)
Listened to this week: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, CDs 3&4 (mostly)
Watched this week: The Planets: Formation of the Solar System; Ken Burn's National Parks: Episode 3 (I have no idea why #2 was skipped)
There have been a few instances in the past few months when people have asked about the organization of art supplies, and I haven't had any up to date pictures to show them. So as I was reorganizing and inventorying our supplies recently (well, a few weeks ago now), I took some pictures and thought I would share them with you.
I know that a lot of people around the blogosphere now have their art supplies out in glass jars, etc., so nothing I'm going to show you is very revolutionary. I first started organizing our supplies this way last November. So it's been almost a year, and it's been very successful. The jars make it easy to find and put away all the materials. They look nice and the cabinet is generally easy to clean up. People do still put "stuff" on shelves that isn't supposed to be there, so there is some level of maintenance involved. But it isn't as high as when there's a big bin full of various supplies that get stuffed in and thrown around willy-nilly. Considering the fact that I am a terrible housekeeper, having one area in the house that doesn't look half bad most of the time is a real blessing.
Anyway, on to the pictures...
This is our art cabinet. We bought it years ago as unfinished furniture from Lowe's. It has probably seen better days. The shelf-by-shelf breakdown:
Very top: laminator, roll of easel paper, Ziploc bag of Katydid's quilling supplies which I am hoping to relocate to a basket I want to hang on the wall.
Top shelf: Collage supplies -- plastic gems, sequin shapes, wooden beads, chenille stems, googly eyes, feathers (natural and dyed), corks, florist's wire in 3 different gauges, pompoms, pasta shapes, foam shapes, buttons, Elmer's glue, ModPodge, glitter glue, scissors, my rainbow Sharpies (in the back to keep them away from little hands)
Middle shelf: Drawing -- Prismacolor markers, Prismacolor pencils, drawing pencils, black Sharpie pens, oil pastels (put out for the first time when I did this reorganization because I had more space), beeswax (doesn't have anything to do with drawing, I know, but I didn't have anywhere else to put it), wooden organizer with Ferby pencils and crayons.
Bottom shelf: Modeling for the most part -- playdough tray with various tools, box of air dry clay, recycled can with clay tools, tape dispenser, drawer unit with watercolor pans, masking tape, pencil sharpeners, and sculpey.
Drawer: construction paper, watercolor paper, painting pad
Under cabinet: This used to be where I kept the paint, and I locked it. But now I have shelves for the paint, so I reorganized this part and took the lock off the doors. Here I have a bin of powdered (unmixed) tempera paint, stamps and stamp pads, more paper and paper masks, and Do-a-Dot markers. Since I took the lock off, the Do-a-Dots and stamps have seen a lot more use again.
And here is the reason why I could suddenly open up the bottom of the art cabinet and actually use all the supplies contained therein. :-) These shelves are from... Home Depot, I think, but maybe Lowe's... I can't really remember now. We bought them over the summer. It took a while for the stars and Andy's work schedule to align before he could put them up for me, and then he ran into a few problems: our walls are plaster, not drywall, for one, and hard as rock, and this does not combine well with cheap screws. The other weird thing about these shelves is that the shelves actually float on the supports. They just sit on top of the brackets, which means that anyone walking by could easily knock the entire shelf onto the floor. A little woodglue took care of that problem, though, and now I have a nicely expanded space which looks halfway decent in the room, too.
I actually took this picture before I ordered all our new watercolor supplies. If you're curious, I ordered:
The good brushes now share space with the pastels in the glass jelly jars. I just put them in another recycled 28 oz. tomato can, with the label removed. (I have one of those Pampered Chef can openers that removes can lids from the top, leaving no sharp edges.) The tube watercolors went in the dogwood tin, and the watercolor set squeezed onto the bottom shelf. The bottom shelf is the watercolor shelf: watercolor pencils, Lyra aquacolor crayons, the tin of good paints, not-so-great brushes, reachable by boys who are inclined to use paintbrushes as light sabers. The dogwood tin also holds acrylics and mixing media for the acrylics, which no one has tried yet.
Second shelf up: pastels, which had not been used since Gareth was small. I bought the set at a great art supply store in Clayton, MO, but they languished in the closet until I put them in these jars. The twins immediately wanted to use them, and soon after, Farmerboy asked if he could take them outside and draw after viewing Julian Beever's amazing sidewalk illusions. Well, how could I say no?
Anyway, now the pastels are worn down to little nubs, but I'd rather see the $20 I spent ten years ago blown in a morning than have the box sit mouldering in the closet for another ten years. A long while back we had some good sidewalk chalk from Magic Cabin which is probably more economical -- and much better in quality and color than Crayola -- but I don't know if they sell it anymore? (A quick check, and -- yes, they do! Much, MUCH better than Crayola, but not quite as vibrant as a pastel.)
But I digress. Back to the shelves... although I'm sure it's obvious that the top shelf holds mostly tempera paint, as well as those foam paints Discount School Supply doesn't seem to sell anymore.
Here's what the shelves look like on the wall:
They look crooked, don't they? Until we put the shelves up, we didn't realize how crooked the switch plate was. So it's not the shelves that aren't level, it's the switch plate that's off center and crooked. (Also, that side light looks as if it needs a good cleaning!) The bookcase underneath the shelves is where I set out activities for Chipmunk... or where I try to set out activities for Chipmunk. We go through periods of time when I can't put anything out because it ends up scattered to the nine winds if I so much as turn my back. At the moment, I've actually added another knobbed cylinder block, some fish and transportation counters, and a clay-and-golf-tee activity. If you think he actually uses those lovely colored wood stacking bowls, think again. I keep hoping, but actually what happens most often is that the twins try to hurl them down the hallway as bombs.
Oh, but that has nothing to do with art supplies, does it? Coming back around to the point of this post... I actually do need to make another big supply order, because reorganizing the supplies always initiates a flurry of art, which uses up the supplies, necessitating another order and reorganization. On my master wish list right now...
I won't order all of these supplies at once (no, dear, don't worry). Instead I'll try to determine what seems most useful or necessary right now, and those are the supplies I'll order. For instance, Sculpey will definitely make the list, as will glitter, the different papers, new playdough, and masking tape. I'll have to think about what else will make the list.
So those are the basics of how we handle art supplies around here.
The cold we caught at the end of week 4 turned out to be a rotten one. Katydid and Chipmunk both ended up at the doctor for ear infections. Andy fortunately avoided most of the cold until after he returned from Toronto. Gareth ended up doing all the chicken and turkey chores while he was gone, since Katydid ran a fever most of that time and couldn't help. No one did very much math or any Latin, but they did read a lot and watched a lot of science TV.
Read this week:
Gareth: The High King, Lloyd Alexander; Dealing with Dragons, Patricia Wrede; a Warriors book or two; about a quarter to a third of Perelandra, CS Lewis.
Katydid: A few Warriors books; Harriet the Spy; Her Piano Sang: A Story About Clara Schumann
Farmerboy: (listened on audio) Ramona the Pest; Ramona Forever; A Cricket in Times Square; Frog and Toad Treasury; Daddy read: Gregor Mendel: The Friar Who Grew Peas; Troodon
Read to the little boys: a bunch of Curious George books; First, the Egg; Too Many Toys (David Shannon); Mammoths on the Move
(My throat hurt and then I lost my voice, so I couldn't read out loud very much.)
Me: The Day I Became an Autodidact, Kendall Hailey
Also listened to on audio: The Best School Year Ever, Barbara Robinson
Watched this week:
Sometimes I feel guilty for all the TV lately, but then Katydid walks into the kitchen holding a feather and says, "You know, feathers are like those fractals we saw on NOVA. I looked at a feather under my microscope and it's like the big feather is made up of lots of little feathers that all look the same as the big one."
The theme of the week was paleontology:
As usual, the theme had little to do with me. All the available viewing options happened to coincide with a renewed interest, and Farmerboy and the twins were happy to play paleontologists as they felt better. They built their skeletons out of blocks and Duplos.
It was interesting because that same day I suggested a Think! challenge to him, but the challenge left him totally frustrated because he couldn't make his building fit the 12 x 12 x 12 parameters. So he gave up and built a cardboard tent house instead, using as much tape as he wanted.
This weekend, he decided to replicate the paleontology workroom he saw in one of our library books.
Watching a show about the Devonian era while holding Devonian era fossils...
So in Week 3 (August 31 - Sept. 6), everyone started to feel a bit better -- the kids faster than I did, actually -- and there was more work. In some cases, a lot more work. Work undertaken because the kids were interested in it, not because I planned to do it. Work that leads me to contemplate that balance between "required" and "interest-led" again.
The one thing I did during Week 3 was to get out the pan watercolors to try and teach the twins (who need new nicknames!) how to keep their colors separate. They wanted to paint rainbows initially, because of the rainbows from prisms that we had been playing with. Somewhere along the way, however, "rainbows" turned into "robots with lasers". Anyway, pan watercolors were new to them, they couldn't remember that you need to rinse the brush before dipping it in clean water and putting it in a new color, and they didn't understand why you couldn't just mix all the colors up in the pans. But that was sort of the whole point of the lesson: how to mix only what you want to mix, and not everything up together so that it makes a muddy brown. Which is what they often do. In any case, they lost patience, got down from the table, and went outside to play dinosaur guys.
(If you're wondering where Chipmunk was this whole time, he was painting newspaper with water.)
This left a whole table full of painting materials set up with nobody using them, and a big roll of easel paper (not the best for watercolor, but we were painting big) for the taking. When Farmerboy happened by, I asked if he would like to paint. He said yes, sat down, and sketched out a dinosaur, then worked very hard at filling up all the available white space.
A note here: Farmerboy is left-handed. That's why his painting set-up is reversed.
The finished picture, with a volcano in the background -- small, "because it's far away" -- and a sunset sky.
Then Katydid came through and thought she might like to paint with the watercolor pans, because we hadn't had them out in a while. And that led to several days spent painting for hours. We paged through some watercolor books to figure out a bit more about technique, and had a good time with the blog Let's Paint Nature. She particularly liked the Baby Phoebe Nest, so she painted her own nest with baby birds using watercolor and ink. She also painted many flowers and a downy woodpecker. She also spirited all these paintings off to her room without giving me a chance to photograph them at all. Well, I am thinking about making some photo albums on the blog to hold all the photos of artwork. So maybe by the time I get around to doing that I'll also get the chance to take pictures of some of her paintings!
As well as painting for hours, Katydid also decided that her wee felt dolls needed some friends, so she worked on making some more of those.
... when I was trying to organize the art cabinet...
... and also before breakfast. Actually, a lot of art work gets done before breakfast in our house.
The wee felt dolls also had another purpose, I think, and that was to populate the fairy houses that have enjoyed a resurgence lately:
And, yes, fairy houses do tie into the Victorian emphasis in the Sunflower Basket. I mean, that's what I'm saying. And since the kids used the book Fairy Houses ... Everywhere! (The Fairy Houses Series), which is really a beautiful book showing very complicated structures the kids tried to imitate, I'm also counting it as art. Anyway, it was too nice to stay inside... a bit cooler, though, as you can tell by the long sleeves.
But -- back to dinosaurs. Farmerboy has had his interest re-ignited and spent the day he painted the dinosaur picture doing nothing but dinosaurs. In fact, he did dinosaur related "stuff" from the time he woke up until he went to bed, which was sometimes exhausting. He took a break to do a little phonics and math with me, but mostly it was all about dinosaurs. He papier-mached the make-a-saurus we started back in June, doing the papier mache about 97% on his own on the front porch while I ran around with the little boys, made dinosaur pictures using How to Draw Dinosaurs (Usborne Activities), and had me read See Inside the World of Dinosaurs. And then there was playing dinosaur guys. Of course.