Saturday, December 15, 2012

Vintage Homeschool Party! THIS Monday

Hello Vintage Homeschool Moms!

Wow, looking at the last post makes me realize how busy we have all been this Fall semester. 

Well, it's time for another party!

I tried to get official permission for us to use the usual classrooms for a Christmas party, and never heard back from the person who schedules the rooms, so that is why I am posting this at the very last minute.  We're down to the last week before Christmas, and I really want to have a party, by gum!  So let's go ahead and have the party and pretend they said we could. ; ) 

(You know they likely meant to say yes and just got busy and forgot. So I am sure it's fine.)

But we're not going to make this a big production this year.  No cookie exchange, no ornament craft, no announcing on any other homeschool groups.  Let's just get together and celebrate Christmas!

WHERE: usual classroom at Vintage
WHAT TO BRING:  a festive food item to share

We will sing some carols, read a story or two, and eat yummy food and chat and play.  Very low key!

Hope to see you all there!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

It's the Old School Monday FALL PARTY!

Photo credit

What:     Homeschool Families Fall Party
When:    Next Monday, October 22, 11-2
Where:   Vintage Faith Church, our usual classrooms and the gym

We will start out with lunch, so please bring lunch for your families* and also one food item to share with everyone. 

Then there are two special events planned:

--Share Displays 12-12:30.  Each child or family is welcome to create a display of something they want to share with the rest of us.  It might be what they did over the summer, or something they have been learning about that excites them.  All displays should have a writing element (which can be as simple as the child writing captions for photos, or as elaborate as descriptive paragraphs) and displays that utilize a math element (graph or chart, calculations, even simple addition that fits their topic) will receive special acknowledgement.  Prizes will be given to all participating children!  Children may set up their displays as they arrive, so families may look around and admire the kids' handiwork at any time, but we will set aside a half-hour starting at noon for the children to talk about their displays, if they wish.

--Fall Book Projects12:30-1:30.  I will share our next book project for the 2013 Author's Fair so anyone interested can get a head start on it with your kids, and then I will lead the kids in a guided book project on the Bill of Rights.  Any kids who are interested and who are school age are welcome to participate.

Throughout our time there, we will have plenty of time for chatting, catching up, sharing ideas, and letting the kids play!  If any parent wants to lead a game in the gym before or after our other activities, please let me know!

This is all free, and any homeschool families are welcome to join us and participate.  Please invite your friends too!

*Please remember to bring your own cups, plates, utensils, etc. We would like to make these events as waste-free as possible. Thank you!

Friday, September 14, 2012

another video re: education

Here's another video that is fascinating, which details how our current education system began, and why its current problems are the logical outcome of its original purpose.

Video--Changing Education Paradigms

Double-click to see full screen.

Some really good thoughts here--although it seems cut off. I want to hear more!

Prayer for the Beginning of the Day

Every morning we are now having table time, at breakfast, and it is one of our favorite times of the school day.

One of the things in our table time is prayer--trying to get our hearts and minds centered on what really matters in this world before we even start our school day.  My dear friend Terry said she used to do the same with her daughter when they were homeschooling, and gave me this prayer they used.  I like it so much, and thought some of you might like to hear it too:

Prayer for the Beginning of the Day
O Lord, grant me to greet the coming day in peace, help me in all things to rely upon your holy will. In every hour of the day reveal your will to me. Bless my dealings with all who surround me. Teach me to treat all that comes to throughout the day with peace of soul and with firm conviction that your will governs all. In all my deeds and words, guide my thoughts and feelings. In unforeseen events, let me not forget that all are sent by you. Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others. Give me strength to bear the fatigue of the coming day with all that it shall bring. Direct my will, teach me to pray. And you, yourself, pray in me. Amen.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Musical Mondays

In the past my kids and I have participated in the Musical Mondays program--10 weeks (well, 9 starting next week) of class 3-5 in which kids learn a musical and perform it at the end.  This semester the musical is Peter Pan, and they have added a dance element in addition to the play and singing.  I know some of you families have tried the program, but anyone who hasn't and wants to know more can leave a comment here. 

I know there are several theatre groups out there for homeschool kids now.  Here is why I like this one:

--very child friendly
--all kids are on the stage all the time, so even though some kids will have more lines, all the kids equally share the stage.
--all kids sing all the songs, so again even the kids in the background feel like they are fully involved and equally "stars."
--the kids choose what kind of role they want, the casting is based upon what the kids want, and the script is re-written as necessary so that every kid who wants to speak gets to.
--it is very reasonably priced, and you can pay for it with Ocean Grove funds.
--this is not a "theatre" program, so it is not at all stressful for the kids or parents--it's just pure enjoyment.  There is no pressure to perform a certain way.  Kids are allowed to be kids and not have to be evaluated for their skills.
--It is a very reasonable schedule, for us busy homeschool families.  Some of the other more serious theatre programs have appropriately intentive rehersal schedules; this program is just Mondays 3-5 until the performance days, at which time they have rehersal before the performances. There is one Monday performance and one weekend performance, to accommodate working parents.

Now I have heard very good things about some of the other local children's theater programs, esp. CYT.  I just wanted to let you all know about this one in case you are looking for something a little simpler, less intimidating (no auditions), less formal.  This is about the same caliber as a church Christmas play--and for me that is part of its charm. : )

And I knew some of you might want to know if your kids would have friends there--so for at least this semester, we will be there! 

P.S. We are building upon the activity by reading the original Peter Pan, and we might try to "LitWit" it a little. ; )  Becky, that's another book you and Jenny need to add some year!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

how one mom got into homeschooling

This is a blog I read regularly--LOVE this family and their hearts.  So this post today caught my attention, and had me laughing--it is SO God.  : )

I have things upcoming to share with you all here, as soon as I find the time!  But in the meantime, please remember you are welcome to post whatever homeschool stuff you think is appropriate for everyone, and I hope the start of your school year has been fairly smooth!


Thursday, July 12, 2012

dangers of homeschooling

a little humor!

(Double-click on the video to watch full-screen on youtube)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

early readers

Hi Ladies,

Just wondering if any of you have some of these books that you would consider loaning.  I was interested in:
Books to Remember" series by Laura Appleton-Smith.  There are series 1-3.

Or, "Little Books, and "Little Owl Books" ---A Beka Books
Thanks so much,

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Author's Fair Details! Please RSVP

Ok, Moms, this is the moment your kids have been waiting for--the Author's Fair itself!

Just a couple of quick things:

1) They think they have LOTS of room available at the table, so please bring whatever books, lapbooks, writing projects, even first drafts you might have to share.  A writing project in process is fine, just label it as such!

2) They need help staffing the Ocean Grove table, so please consider signing up for an hour.  (My dear ES Terry, who is one of the teachers responsible for the fair, is very enviromentally sensitive, so the mall air is really bad for her--she and the other teachers really do appreciate parents volunteering, so they don't have to be there all day.) In past years my girls have loved walking around and looking at the books at other nearby tables, and the time went quickly.  They also really liked reading the other OG books, and using sticky notes to leave encouraging comments. : )  I think the OG teachers might even have a little book-making activity at the table, which would make it fun for the kids to hang out.  So, please think if you can help out in this way, and then let the teachers know.

3) The Vintage Homeschool kids will be presenting their book at the Author's Chair at 11:00, so everyone please be there a few minutes early.  And please let us know you are coming--so we don't start without you--by leaving a comment below.

Ah, one of the highlights of my kids' school year!  I can't wait to see what all your families contribute.

Here is the original email announcement from OG, just in case you missed it:

Hi All,
STAR has kept your Authors’ Fair Coordinators very busy, but now we are finished with STAR and can concentrate on something fun: The Student Authors’ Fair!

It is only 6 more days until The Student Author’s Fair! If you haven’t started yet, there is still time to make a simple book to demonstrate your child’s creativity at the Fair.

Step 1:  Check out these sites:
1. (the grandmother of bookmaking for kids sites, filled with great ideas)
2. (easy for kids)
3. (just a few ideas here but they have great pictures of each step)
4. (really easy and fun instructions for many different kinds of books)
5. (re-using a book to create a new book)

Step 2: Email us the name and grade of your student(s)who will be participating.

Step 3: Arrange to get the books to the Fair:
1.    Bring or send it to one of us: Kim near UCSC, Terry in Aptos, Barb in San Lorenzo Valley (email for addresses).
2.   Bring it to the Fair at the Capitola Mall on Saturday morning. We start setting up at 9am, and the Fair opens at 10.

Step 4: We would so appreciate your help during the Fair.During the following time slots we need an adult to sit at our table.  Please let us know if you can help: the time you can help and your cell number so we can reach you on Saturday.

9:00 – 10:00 (Set Up)
                                         10:00 – 11:00
       10:30 – 11:30
                                         11:00 – 12:00  
       11:30 – 12:30
                                         12:00 - 1:00
       12:30 – 1:30
                                         1:00 – 2:00
       1:30 – 2:30
                                         2:00 – 3:00
       2:30 – 3:30
                                         3:00 – 4:00
       3:30 – 4:30 (Includes Packing Up)

We do hope you will participate in the Fair. It is a wonderful opportunity for the children to share their writing and see what other children have created.

Terry, Kim, and Barb
Authors’ Fair Coordinators for OGCS

Friday, April 27, 2012

Quick note on formatting printed poems!

Hopefully some of you moms will see this.  As I printed out the poems this morning, it occurred to me that some guidelines for formatting and printing your poems might be helpful.  We can be flexible with the different ways you might print out your poem, but a few things would be helpful:

--remember to make sure each new line of the poem is capitalized
--Your child may or may not title the poem.  But do make sure you include the date, time, and place the child did her sensory immersion.  We are using that info for our poem titles.
--I would single space the poem, but use 14 pt font.
--I would leave the poem body left-aligned, but center the title and author
--I would leave two blank lines between the title and author, and then the author and first line.
--I would bold the title and author lines.

But if you end up with something different, that should work too--the only thing we really don't want is for it to take up too much room on the poet's page, so there will not be as much room for artwork.

Looking forward to seeing you all there today!  If anyone needs to come a little early, I will be there hopefully by 11:30 but definately by 11:45.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Book Project 2012: how not to do it example and other helpfulness

This moment at the beach--trying to get my kids to engage their senses and use their words--is silver,
The color of a dagger as it is thrust slowly into my right temple.
It feels like torture.
Like the whole expanse of God's grand creation laid before stubbornly unheeding minds.
It sounds like children silent, while I wait.
It smells like tears, gathering behind my tired eyes.
This precious moment with my children in nature makes me feel like
Going home and eating chocolate instead.

; )

Ok, thought you might like one last example that came to me yesterday, while my darlings and I were romping through nature, holding hands and soaking in all the amazing beauty of nature with all our senses. 

Or not.

Ok, really, I wanted you all to get a chuckle, and remember that this does not have to be an idealized project!  If your kids don't engage the way you want them to (even if, say, they absolutely love nature and are really creative and have LOTS of words and have already done this kind of poem twice before and can do it in their sleep) during the sensory immersion part of the poetry project, THAT'S OK.  Run with it. 

If you only have 30 minutes to write a poem and your baby is fussing and your kid can't come up with any better ways to describe the sky than "nice" and "blue"--FINE.  Run with it.

Even if your young poet uses "cool" three times in the poem, and trying to get her to come up with a different descriptive is like pulling teeth.  FINE  Run with it.

Even if your child gives up after the senses and says he is done and runs off to whack his brother with a pillow and you can't get him back and refocused to finish that last line. FINE.  It's done.

; )


--For that last line of the poem, where the poet should restate the subject--try having the child just describe where she is and what she is doing.  (See examples below)

--Sarah F. said her kids have been using the thesaurus and enjoying it, so if your kids are having a hard time finding the words they mean, that's a great way to take the pressure off of them to generate their own words.

--It is TOTALLY FINE to feed your kid ideas.  If she is really struggling with words, or with perfectionism, if you offer suggestion and she likes one of them, try to see if she can word it her own way, but if she just wants to write it the way you said it, FINE.  Part of the learning process is listening to other people's imagery and descriptive words and evaluating their effectiveness.  Your child is still learning!  It is still a fine way to approach this project!

Let me just make this clear--there is no wrong way to do this poem.

Does that make some of you feel better?

So, don't have high expectations, be creative and encouraging and try your best to arrange a good time for your child to be focused and undistracted during the sensory immersion/writing, BUT if your best laid plans go awry, it's FINE.  Don't let disappointment or frustration of diengaged kids, or tired little ones, or short amount of time, or whatever keep you from jumping in and trying!

I do feel differently about the overall book page, though.  So the things I do want to be more consistent and have higher quality control about:

1. kids having watercolor paper in the colors they need for the art project Friday
2. kids making artwork that uses the colors they saw during their immersion
3. the poems being printed/typed out.  No handwriting this time.
4. Don't forget to type the time, the date and the place too--it can be your poem's title, or a subheading, just make sure it is typed out on the page.

Can't wait to see you all on Friday!  Don't forget to RSVP!

I'll leave you with the poems my two younger girls came up with yesterday (after editing):

April 24, 2012.  3:00 p.m. at New Brighton State Beach.

by Bronwyn

This sunny day at the beach is tan and blue and white,
The colors of sparkling sea water, and wood and foam washed up on the sand.
It feels like hot sand in my toes,
And cool, smooth water on my toes.
It sounds like waves throwing water onto the shore.
It smells like salt.
It tastes like onion.
Sitting in the hot sand, reaching my fingers into it, makes me feel lovely,
Like making a sand angel.

April 24, 2012.  3:00 p.m. at New Brighton State Beach.

by Meredith

This sunny afternoon at the beach is light and airy,
And deep murky blue,
The colors of pure sky and gentle whales.
It feels warm and joyful.
It sounds like waves rolling and crashing.
It smells salty, with a slight scent of pollen.
It tastes like cool, clean and fresh air.
Visiting the waves and hugging the sand makes me feel happy.

See, my kids clearly had a much more fun time doing this project yesterday than I did! ; )  Take a deep breath, Momma, smile and relax.  The process is so much more important than the final outcome.  : )

Friday, April 20, 2012

Book Project 2012: The Art, and Book-Making Party! (RSVP)

This is a short post, really just a preview of what we will be doing to illustrate your children's poetry when we get together on next Friday, April 27, at noon-2:30 there in the usual classrooms at Vintage.

We're going to cut up our watercolored papers, and make pretty pictures that reflect the poems!

So, this is why you need to make sure you and your kids made paper in the colors that will suit their poems.  But we will bring all the papers we have made, and we can share with each other too. 

(When I had the girls make these a few years ago, I was not thinking of how to put them in the book, and it was a bummer to have them sideways and have to punch holes directly into the art.  Which is why we are thinking things through this year, and the illustrations will be sized to fit onto larger, stiff pieces of paper, much like we did last year for the "What's Above, What's Beneath" book.)

Here is what you need to bring to the book-making party:

--The completed poems for each child, typed out.
Last year I had the children write their poems out neatly, since they were short poems.  This year the poems are longer, and I want their words to take center stage, so all the poems must be typed/printed out.  The font (even the color) is up to you.

--The watercolor papers you made with your kids.
If you do not make watercolor papers ahead of time and bring them, your children might be discouraged that there are no papers that fit the colors they need.  This is one time we all have to plan ahead--it won't work to come unprepared.

(If your child realizes he needs a color of paper he did not anticipate, and no one else has it, we can use crayons to color paper there at the church. But this will work only in a pinch, and won't be as nice as watercolor.)

--Your Old School art kits!
Remember when we were meeting on Mondays and I told you all to bring your own glue, rulers, pencils, erasers, scissors, etc.?  Now is the time to do it again!  We can usually round up the supplies we need from the classrooms, but we can't count on it, so best bet is to bring your own!

Finally, please come on time! 
We will have plenty to do, so will start in right away.  If we get done early, then we can socialize!  This year you moms (with your kids, to the degree you see fit) will be doing the cutting and measuring for your pages, but it will be much easier of a layout than last year's page. (Which was beautiful, but took a lot more measuring.)

This is going to be fun!

Questions or comments?  Please leave a response to this post. 

**And if you are planning on participating in this project, and are coming to the Book-Making party next Friday, would you please RSVP in the comments?  Thanks!

Book Project 2012, STEP TWO: Editing the Poems

At this point, you and your young poet are basically done with the writing! 

You used the formula, and have your poem.  The only thing to do now is talk with your child about his or her imagery and word choice.  When I did this project with the Kimball girls and my own a couple of years ago, I found that if I sat down and talked with each girl one-on-one for a few minutes to help them think through their poem, they were very willing to chose the best words to say what they really meant, and the poems were so much more meaningful and beautiful. 

The most important thing:  ask questions about what your kid means, and don't let her just say, "I dunno." 

Let's say your poet said "The backyard is green."

You might say, "Well, what specific part of the backyard are you talking about?  What makes it green?"

She might say in response, "Here in the grass is green.  It looks really green because it just rained and the plants look fresh."

Ah-ha!  So, you might say, "So what exactly do you want your specific place to be, to describe for this poem?  Let's be more specific than the backyard."

She says, "OK, then. My backyard after the rain is green."

You ask, "What kind of green?"

She says, "Grass green."

You say, "OK.  So, you just said my backyard after the rain is grass green.  Hmmmm. I can think of several different colors of grass green, since sometimes it is pale and sometimes its dark.  Can you add another descriptive word to tell us what kind of grass green your backyard is after the rain?"

She says, "Baby grass. It's baby grass green."

You say, "Great!  I can really see that!  OK, so when you see that color, what else does it remind you of?"

She says, "Mmmmmmm.  (pause) Hmmmmmmm."

You wait patiently.

She says, "Ummmmmmmm. (pause, looking out of window.) It makes me think of baby frogs."

You say, "Oh, baby frogs!  I can see that.  Nice job."

And there you have a fine, descriptive first two lines of the poem:

My backyard after the rain is baby grass green,
The color of baby frogs. 

Keep on going, and get your child to add some specific imagery with good descriptive words.  Go over the whole poem one time, clarifying and adding descriptive words. 

Now if you want, you can talk to your child further about her word choice, or you can be done, depending upon how excited your child is to be doing this and what mischief your other children are getting into:

You say, "Honey, this is a great poem!  Nice job thinking through your word choice to pick the words that best describe what your senses are telling you.  You know, I'm looking at your poem, and I notice you used the descriptive word 'baby' twice.  Most of the time when you are writing poems you don't want to repeat words,  unless you really want to emphasize them.  Is baby the word you want to describe both the grass and the frogs?" 
She says, "Ummmm.  I think the grass looks like baby grass because it looks new."

You say, "So, do you want to say My backyard after the rain is new grass green?" 

She says, "Ok."

You say, "Is that what you want?  Which best fits what you are trying to say?  What you think that green is like?

And she says, "I think it is new grass green."

You say, "Ok, that sounds nice, and gives the same idea of fresh, like babies are fresh.  Is there anything else you can think of that is like this green besides baby frogs?  Do you want to add another mental picture to show your reader what kind of green you are talking about?"

She thinks, and says, "It makes me think of splashing in puddles."

Now, this is where you could get all public-school teacher and say, "Well, that's nice, but it does not really fit into the formula, so let's leave that out."  HOWEVER, I would highly recommend that ANYTHING that your kid spouts in the throes of creativity and engagement with her senses and nature--and is appropriate to the idea of the poem--goes into the poem.  Just add a line and stick it in there!  

My backyard after the rain is new grass green,
The color of baby frogs. 
It makes me think of splashing in puddles.

And then you just jump back into the poem formula and continue on!

If you moms take a few minutes after the poem is written--back when you are home and have a few minutes of quiet, uninterrupted time, so both you and the child can now engage with the words and really hear them--to talk through word choice with your young writers, you will be so surprised sometimes how creative and observant they are!

If you can get your kid to volunteer more than one descriptive for each sense, great!  But if they just want to do one, great! 

The only tricky thing that you really need to talk your kids through is the rewording of the subject in the last line.  In our example we have going above, rewordings might be:

My wet backyard
Standing in the wet grass
Here in my wet, green backyard
At this moment after the rain
Right now in my backyard
With my bare feet in the cool grass

Do you see how any of those phrases can plug into the formula to refocus the reader on where and when the poem is taking place?  If you need specific ways to help your child reword the poem's subject, ask her to consider another way of saying where she is and what makes this moment special from another moment in Spring. *Remember, that's the overall topic of the book--This Moment In Spring.*

I can't wait to see what your kids come up with!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Book Project 2012: More Poetry Examples

(Double-click to enlarge)

From another poetry project earlier than the Redwood poetry project.  You see, this little poem format is so easy to use, and your kids' ideas will end up so creative and beautiful!

Book Project 2012, STEPS TWO and THREE: Immerse in Nature, and Write Poetry About It!

OK, this part of the book project is also so much fun, and should be equally pleasurable for parents and kids.  (At least it was when I did it with my girls and the Kimball girls last year for our Redwood poetry book--oh, to be out in Creation, breathing deeply all the fragrances of the outdoors, purposefully slowing down and really looking, listening, noticing, enjoying.  I can't wait to do it again with the girls in a new setting for this project!)

--Pick your spot

So, talk with your kids and get their ideas on where it would be fun to use all their senses to explore one moment in one spot in the world.

In theory, this can be ANYWHERE.  There are lots of different spaces easily available to us here on the Bay that would be fantastic for sensory immersion: at the beach, in the redwoods, at a park, in a garden, in a field, at a farm.  But don't think you have to drive somewhere specific to participate in the project--just go to your own backyard!  The beauty of this project is that it only needs to be as much of an adventure as you want it to be--and even if every single kid writes about his or her backyard, the book will still end up with a big variety of poems, since the look and feel of every yard will be different, and will be interpreted differently by the young poets.

That said, of course it will be fun if you do some exploring too, so if you feel like being even a little adventuresome, go for it! 

Some people could even opt for an urban setting!  So if a child wants to go downtown Santa Cruz and soak in the colors and textures and sounds and smells (ew) of our own local cityscape, that can make a fantastic experience and resulting poem. (Although personally, from an art perspective, I don't think watercolor would be the right medium for the urban experience--a collage of newspaper and wrappers and something more along the lines of Ezra Jack Keats seems better suited for capturing the feel of the urban setting. That's just my opinion though--get creative and if you want to try this experience in the cityscape, go for it!  I'm perfectly fine with a watercolor and newspaper collage, or any combinations that use other materials in conjunction with watercolor paper.)

--Document your moment

It is VERY important that you remember to take paper and pencil with you when your kids head out to immerse their senses in their chosen spot(s) in nature.  You may also take the poem template and just do the poem while you are there!  But at the very least, be sure to record the following while you are there:

1. The date, the time, the place
2. The sounds, smells, colors, textures, emotional and literal "feel" of the place, and tastes, if there are any (get those kids to use their imaginations!)
3. How your child verbalizes he or she feels about that moment, in that place.

If you write down just these things, you will have enough to work with writing the poems when you get home. BUT I strongly urge you to sit down and write the poems as soon as you can after the sensory immersion, while the feelings and observances and ideas are all still fresh.  This one thing can make a huge difference in the quality of the final poem, and the ease of the whole project.

Here is your poem template:


Five Senses Poem


___(your subject/place)___ is ___(descriptive)___  ___(color)___,

The color of ___ (descriptive)___ ___(thing)___.

It (they, whatever fits) feels _________.

It sounds like _________.

It smells like __________.

___ (your subject/place)___ tastes like __(descriptive)__ __(thing)___.

___(reword subject)___ makes me feel __________.

Hmm, looks like MadLibs poetry, doesn't it?!  So, just in case that looks confusing, let me give examples--you will immediately understand not only the specific parameters of each line, but also how much you can deviate to meet your child's own writing and topic without losing the construction of the poem:

Five Senses Poems

#1: Woods
by Katie

These woods are cloudy green,
The color of bumpy lichens.
They feel cool.
They sound like Spring.
They smell like rich soil.
These woods taste like cloves.
They are beautiful and make me feel so warm.

#2: Sunlight in the Woods
by Claire

Sunlight in the woods is pale green,
The color of morning.
It feels cool and dancing.
It sounds like twittering birds.
It smells fresh and damp.
Sunlight in the woods tastes like moist herbs.
This spot of bright light makes me feel joyful.

#3: Clearing in the Woods
by Meredith

The clearing in the woods is new green,
The color of Spring.
It feels cool.
It sounds like birds singing tweet, tweet, tweet.
It smells like fresh air.
The clearing tastes like watery cucumber.
This calm clearing in the woods makes me feel
Happy deep inside.

#4: Afternoon in the Redwoods
by Gwynneth

This afternoon is green,
The color of Spring,
Fresh and majestic garden green.
It feels still, slightly stff, and prickly.
It sounds like twittering birds and trickling water.
It smells like life, like rich dark soil,
Pepper-spice cool.
The afternoon tastes like sour grass, garden herbs,
Cloves and fresh water.
This quiet afternoon makes me feel so small,
Yet calm.

Those poems were all written at the same moment, in the same place--but look at how each girl interpreted it differently!

Some more helps:

Title ---This is your poem's subject. Can be the name of the place where you are (i.e. "Seacliff Beach"), or a description of the place (i.e. "A Clearing in the Woods"), and can include mention of when you are there ("The Beach at Low Tide," or "A Moment in My Backyard," or "Afternoon in the Redwoods").  Or, since our overall focus is Spring, the title can even be something like "This Moment in Spring."  **Make sure your child has the title/subject very firmly in mind as he does the sensory immersion, so he knows how to focus his senses for each line of the poem.**

Even if your child is old enough to record her own ideas, you might consider taking notes for her, so she can close her eyes and really immerse her senses in that moment, in that place, and really pin-point everything she is experiencing. 

And no matter the age or ability of your child, it works well to guide the poetry by asking the child line by line what it feels like, sounds like, etc.

If you are not planning on doing the actual poem while in your spot, be sure to take good notes.  You could even consider taking a few photos to help your child remember what it was like later while writing.

When you are done with these two steps, you should have something that already sounds like a great poem!!!  It needs only a little more crafting to be finished, and with your kids involved, it is a great way to practice all kinds of good school things, like punctuation, spelling, proofreading, etc.  But more on that in the next installment of this series. : )

Friday, March 30, 2012

Book project 2012, STEP ONE: Make watercolor paper!

*This does not have to be the first step in the project!  You are more than welcome to do the sensory immersion and then make the papers with those experiences in mind--whatever!  I just recommended this way in case you want to do this project all at home and in a few days, because the papers can be drying overnight while you and your kids do the outside stuff and write the poems.* 

The first step of the book project is SO MUCH FUN.  Seriously, you parents are going to want to do it too--it is hypnotic, calming, beautiful.

Basically, you and your kids just paint a whole bunch of pages of paper with lots of watercolor.

Choose whatever colors you want!  Enjoy the sensation of brush and the saturation of colors.

The only rule is that there should be no white left on the paper when you are done.

Get creative and sprinkle salt onto wet papers, blot with crumpled paper towel, scratch with the ends of the paint brushes--have fun and see what happens!  And you don't have to use special watercolor paper--use whatever white paper you have on hand!  (In fact, we learned from experience that "real" watercolor paper is harder to cut later on because it is thicker--so esp. those of you with younger artists might want to use a lighter weight paper.)

The only other thing I would recommend is to think about WHERE out in nature you plan on having your kids experience their sensory immersion, so that you have made painted pages that you anticipate being helpful to your project.  For example, if you know you are going to take your kids to the beach, think about what colors they might find there, and encourage them to make watercolor pages that are sky and water and sand colors, etc.  If you plan on taking your kids to the redwoods, then have them make plenty of reddish brown papers and lots of different green papers, so they have plenty for their specific needs.

Don't you or your kids think it won't be fun to stick to just a few colors, if that is what your chosen nature setting requires--it is actually a fantastic experience just to play with how many interesting ways and tones you can paint one color!  And this is where they can have fun with textures too.  How might they get a sand texture?  How might they get a texture that looks like bark?   Etc.

I made the above paper a few years ago when my girls and I did this--and this image (which reminded me of roots, when viewed the other way) is what inspired the "What's Above, What's Beneath?" book project we did last year!  It's just watercolor paint dripped onto an already damp paper, and allowed to run wherever gravity takes it.  SO FUN.

Your kids are going to have so much fun with this part.

And if they want to paint colors you know you won't need for your art--let 'em!  The papers can always be used for a later art project!  (Remember the watercolor hearts I put in your kids' Valentine's Day mailboxes?  Leftover paper from this project years ago. : )

As always, if you have questions, please leave them in the comments below!

Our book project for the Author's Fair 2012

OK, Families, here is the post (some of) you have been eagerly anticipating.

Those of you who came to the math party got to hear my spiel in person, but this information will still be useful to you, as I will give you the step-by-step instructions here.  Anyone who was not at the math party, NO PROBLEM.  This is a project that you can do entirely at home, and can even complete in just a couple of days, if you want to.

The Author's Fair this year is Saturday, May 5.  As usual, we will plan on meeting at the Capitola Mall on Saturday at 11:00 a.m. so the kids can present their book at the Author's Chair. : )  (Bring your cameras and impress the grandparents.)

But before that, we will have our book-making party there in the usual classrooms at Vintage Faith Church on Friday, April 27 at the usual time from noon-2:30.

Our book this year is going to be an illustrated poetry book called "This Moment in Spring."  Each child who wants to participate will compose a poem about Spring, using all the five senses.  Of course families can work together and share page credits, but please trust me that if your kid is old enough to know about the five senses, he/she is old enough to compose a beautiful poem!  I can say this with assurance because we will be using a poetry template--your child just has to insert his or her own words into the formula, and the end result will amaze you. : )  It is easy for you, easy for your child!  Trust me, Mamas, and please jump on into this project with us!

There are five steps to this book project:

1) make watercolor painted paper.
2) go to the outdoors so your kids can immerse their senses in Springtime nature.
3) record their descriptions of that moment in nature using all the five senses, plugging their words into the poem formula.
4) edit--talk through and finalize their word choices with them (encourage descriptive words), type their poem up and print it out.
5) use the watercolor painted paper to cut out and make a collage that illustrates the poem.*

*At our book-making party on the 27th, we will be making the collages together!  This way each family can bring the watercolor papers they have made and all the kids can share.  Of course if you cannot come to the party, you are more than welcome to do the entire page at home, and then add it to our group book when we meet at the Author's Fair on Saturday.

To keep this information nice and neat, I will make a separate post for each of the steps.  So, look forward to the posts coming this week!

Questions?  Please leave a comment here, so everyone can benefit!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Fun and pretty craft project for girls

(or for boys who want to make a mother's day present!)

A "flower" jewelry stand made from Mountain Dew bottles! 

See Epbot for the instructions.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Rainbow Math Party reminder and info

Hello Moms!

Just a reminder that the Rainbow themed math party is this Friday at noon--see the post I made below for the details.

ONE MORE THING, though, that was not part of the original announcement:

As most of you know, we normally do a book project for the Author's Fair, which is the first Sat. in April.  This year we are doing sensory poetry, and will be making our own watercolored papers that we will then use for the artwork.  I'll explain more in a separate post, but for now, I just wanted to let you know that I am planning to have the kids start their painting on Friday at the Math party!  We will have the school-age kids in the adjoining classroom, and start at noon.  If you are not able to make it to the party by noon, don't worry--this is something you can do at home with your kids too.  (And if you can't come to the party at all, you can still be part of the book project--we are just getting a jump start on Friday.) The big kids will paint until about 12:30-45, when we will start the fun math/rainbow activities in earnest.

The moms and tots can hang out in the regular room.  And if any of you don't want your kids painting, no worries--just come and hang out and play. : ) 

If you do want your kids to paint, then I recommend you bring the following:
--play clothes on your kids, or smocks
--any watercolor paints, if you have them
--any brushes, if you have them.
--and any watercolor paper you might have on hand.  (but thick paper is not necessarily good for the project, so don't pull out your really good stuff)

I think the book project is going to be really fun, and painting with a rainbow of colors seemed an appropriate activity for our fun rainbow math party!

Post comments here if you have any questions. : )

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Parties! Mark your calendars

Hello families!

We have TWO fun parties now on the calendar for the upcoming months. 

Valentine's Day Party

Tuesday, Feb. 14th
In the usual downstairs classrooms there in the Children's Ministry building on the Vintage Faith church campus. 

This is purely "socialization" time, with no specific educational goals, so please invite your homeschool friends, come and have fun!  I'll try to bring a good Love story to read to the group, and will lead a little Valentine's Day craft for the older elementary kids while moms with little 'uns can hang out and chat. : )

Please Bring:
--Lunch for your family, if you wish.*

--A snack to share (and while this is the perfect time to break out the sweets, let's see if we can get a few healthy things in there too).

--Valentines!  If your kids want to participate in this part of the fun, please have them bring a valentine for every child (and always wise to have a few extra).**

--Your own special Valentine's Day mailbox!  This can be a decorated shoebox, a folder, a big envelope, a basket, whatever you want--as long as it can hold cards and probably a little candy.  You can bring one for each child, or one for your family--you decide.  It just needs to be labeled somehow, so each "delivery person" knows where to deliver his or her valentines.

(Moms, in my opinion, this is the time to let our healthy urges take the back seat, and get whatever little candy treats you remember most fondly from childhood. This is an Old School party, after all!  ; )

*As always, every family should please bring their own plates, water bottles, napkins, etc.  Let's strive to make all our gatherings as waste-free as possible. 

**If we all RSVP in the comments below, it will help us all know about how many cards to prepare.

The Rainbow Math Party

Friday, March 16th
In the same downstairs classrooms there in the Children's Ministry building on the Vintage Faith church campus.

Years ago, our family started a tradition--when each child finishes a math book, we have a math party to celebrate!  We make the color of the math book cover the theme of the party.  Well, last year we finished several math books, but every time we were so busy we never stopped to have the parties!  So now we are going to have one big rainbow themed party, to make up for it!  And we would love to have our friends join us.

We will have some rainbow-themed activities (Becky has agreed to talk about light and the color spectrum!) and some math games.  So, this party will be more structured and "educational," but we will leave time for socializing too!

To bring:

--Lunch for your family, if you wish.*

--If you choose, please bring a snack that is ONE color. Be creative! Our family will be bringing a rainbow veggie tray, and a rainbow-themed dessert--but the more snacks the better!

--If your child has a math project or math accomplishment to share, please bring it, and we will make a special "Show & Tell" time during the party so all the kids can share all their fun math learning. : )

We would love to have you join us!

Questions on either of these events?  Please leave them in the comments, and I'll answer as best I can.

lisa c.

a little humor for your day

From the new little humor blog Homeshool Ryan Gosling

No, really, go look. A couple of those almost made me spit out my tea.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Workshop on how to do a science fair project--TOMORROW

From local homeschool mom Suki:

Hi everyone,

A while back I was chatting with a mom about the science fair, which my family loves, and she suggested that it would be helpful to have a workshop that introduces parents to how to do a science fair project. My only credentials are that I'm the daughter of two scientists and my kids have taken part in the science fair for years, but it's a great topic and I'll do my best to answer your questions or help you find the answer. We'll go through the basics: what is the scientific method, what are some common pitfalls, what do judges want to see. We'll also look at the rules for our local science fair.

Science Fair Workshop
At the Discovery Learning Center -
Tuesday, 1/10 at noon
Free for supporting members, $3-5 donation requested from others

The DLC will be open for lending library hours at that time. You can bring your children to play, but we can't have them out on the structure unless there is a parent willing to watch them out there. The workshop is designed for parents, but perhaps at the end if we have time we could have a question/answer period with the kids.

Please feel free to pass this message on to other mailing lists!


Susana (Suki) Wessling

This sounds fabulous--I don't know if I can make it, what with little kiddos in tow, but I would if I could!