Saturday, August 29, 2009

Fine Art Class #5 ~ Edgar Degas (Body Movement)

What little girl doesn't want to look at art of ballet dancers?? The girls were all jumping up and down about doing this lesson. We started the lesson off with a little bit of background about Edgar Degas and his life in France, and his travels. Degas was also the first artist we have studied where we focused a bit on the mediums he used. He was born and lived most of his life in France, and loved drawing, painting, sculpting, and many other types of art. We talked about what 'medium' meant in art (a supply to make art) and the kids all named off different mediums they have used; crayons, paint, clay, glue, and even pine cones were mentioned. I didn't correct any of it. They are all mediums. :)

Then we read the book Degas and the Tiny Dancer. This book made me cry. It did the first time I read it to Cyan too. It is bittersweet, but very real and talks about Degas going blind at the end of his life and a little dancer who has a dream that never comes true the way she wants... but how Degas uses her as a model for his most famous sculpture and so she becomes the most famous dancer in the world. Again, this led back to art mediums... in this sculpture this clay person is wearing real ballet shoes and a real ballet dress complete with tutu. The kids thought this was fascinating (and it reinforced that pine cones were an art medium. lol!).

The Little Dancer Fourteen Years Old by Edgar Degas

Then we started talking about form. Now most of these kids are 7 and 8, so I didn't go into a lot... but we did talk about the classic stick figure, and how it doesn't move realistically. And about joints and how when you move, your joints all have to move as well. Realistic movements make a picture go from cartoon, to more real very quickly. So we worked with the body forms to copy the pictures we saw in the books about Degas.

Putting Pen to Paper

We picked one that we enjoyed the look of, and showed all of the joints in the body perfectly (we did not try to get hands or feet joints... just the big ones) and then the kids and I set out to copy that body form using our artists eyes (our 'artists eyes' are very careful about details).

As you can see, in the drawing, after we had covered the basics, we talked about how clothing and hair show the movement of the picture as well.

The kids absorb an AMAZING amount of the information I am giving them. It is just fantastic. Each one of these stick people has all the main joints, moving realistically. I watched their stick figures gain curves and definition (along with hair!) before my eyes. This is one lesson where I wished I had had more time. The mamas showed up and the kids were completely absorbed in their drawings. They were adding clothes, hair, color, etc, and did not want to stop. It warmed my heart to see them so interested. I can't wait to see the art they come back with next week!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Tomato experiment bounty

Top from the potted plant, bottom from the topsy turvy plant.

So far:
Growing up: 9
Growing down: 9

LOL! Isn't that funny? The ground tomatoes were damaged by my toddler back in May, and that may have something to do with the low yield, but they seem pretty dead even so far. One thing I have noticed is that the ground plant has larger tomatoes... but less of them. And the topsy turvy planter gets really dry real fast.

And these tomatoes are horrible. lol... they are mealy and nearly tasteless and stay really firm. This must be a variety they keep for shipping late in the winter. That is the only reason I can think to breed a variety so untomato tasting.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

This makes me so very sad!

There are a lot of political things that I could spout right now after reading this very sad article... but the biggest thing that I enjoyed about the show is that it showed the love of reading, and the love of learning... and if you keep that alive, you will never have uneducated children. You just won't. You kill the joy of learning and you have the 'problems' we are facing today with our public school systems. I figure my ENTIRE goal in homeschooling is to teach my children to read, and teach them to love learning. Those two things cover every other issue they may have with their 'education' later in life.

And luckily, I have a library that has oh so many episodes of Reading Rainbow on DVD already. :)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Inner city beach tour 2009

We have spent many an day at the beaches around our area lately. We have found some gems too! I will do a whole big post on it later, but for now, I will leave you with my favorite picture of the week:

More new nature table stuff

Our nature table is really growing this year. I have pulled out all of our old stuff... but with three kids now fully involved in the nature table and what we put on it, our sets have started to expand. This is our newest set... felted bowls from a very talented lady at the farmers market. I got four; brown large one, yellow and green med ones, and one small blue one. They will hold treasures like rose hips, sea glass, acorns, and pine cones depending on season.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Fine Art Class #4 ~ MC Escher, Master of Perspective

MC Escher... another artist from the Netherlands. And let me tell you, I could have researched him forever. What an interesting artist! He just had a eye like no other....

We started the talk off with a review:

and then moved on to Escher, Master of Perspective.

I showed the kids this picture, and asked them to tell me if it worked in their eyes. All of them said yes... and then I asked them where the water came from.... and they looked... and looked again. They came up with all sorts of ways to how it could works; pumps, water going so fast that it went uphill, etc. It was a neat and fun conversation.

We spent a lot of time talking about Depth Perception, and Foreground and Background. For depth perception I taught them the "I'm squishing your head" thing from SNL from when I was a kid. They got a kick out of that and they spent a few minutes 'squishing' each others heads and talking about depth perception and perspective. I doubt they will ever forget that! lol!

Then, putting pen to paper, I asked the kids to make me a snake. This snake had to cross over itself (foreground and background) and have some details. The kids spent over an hour on this project and a couple still didn't get theirs done. They were completely enthralled.

I wish I had a better picture of Elias'! His was amazing... it crossed over itself probably 10 times and he was coloring it gold when we had to stop and move on. I let him take the gold pencil home and I hope he brings it back to show it to me next week.

Then we moved on to Escher's Tessellations. The first pic is a perfect example of some of the works he is most famous for. His lizards that fit into each other so perfectly that it is hard to stop looking around the page. The activity that went with this part of the lesson had really shoddy directions. It ended up only working one way... which didn't really show the way to do a tessellation. It was frustrating for me and the kids... but they thought tessellations were fascinating and we spent a bunch of time looking at Escher's Metamorphosis Tessellations.

All in all, I considered it a good class. It wasn't my most successful class, but the kids really understood the concepts, and it was neat to watch them apply them.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tomatoes tomatoes!!

Our tomato experiment is almost done. The tomatoes are turning ripe right before our eyes. Cyan got the first one off the plant the other day. What a LONG experiment this was!

We have been keeping track of how many tomatoes we get from the plants and so far it is:

Potted plant: 1

Topsy Turvy Plant: 0

I was wishing we had a scale when we started this, becuase then we could measure in pounds instead of in tomatoes... but this will do for now. Maybe I will ask friends if they have a scale at History Class today. It would be more accurate to tell the effectiveness of the upside down plantter if we were to do it that way.

In other tomato experiment news... this is what happens to a tomato when a toddler thinks it's a cherry:

(No, I didn't tell him that. lol.... He just said it was a cherry, popped it in his mouth, and prompty spit it out and wiped off his tounge on his shirt. He was not pleased. But it was really cute. ;) )

Monday, August 17, 2009

Ballard Locks Fish Ladder

The Seattle Mountaineers held the Annual Ballard Locks Big Fish, Little Fish kids activity this last weekend. The activity this year was wonderful! First off, the kids had to become fish for the game. They had to put on fins and practice their mouth breathing. They started out as eggs at the top of a big river (blankets laid out on the grass at the top of a hill). Then, as they pulled cards and told the kids what to do, the 'fish' playing the game got bigger and bigger, until they could go down stream to the ocean. In the ocean they got to do a little dance and play for a couple years, and then had to go back UP the river to leave their eggs behind, hidden from predators, to start the cycle all over again.

Cyan and Logan just loved this! Both had a great time! (One of the dad's got a little carried away and it was just too cute not to photograph.)
You can see how half way through my littlest fish got really tired from down and then up that hill with all the big kids. But he made it back up without any help and he hid his egg too. It was neat to see him doing the whole thing without us. Don was close by just in case he needed it. But he didn't. My baby. Sigh.

After the game, we went down to through the locks, and then to the salmon ladder. I had no idea how much bigger Chinook salmon were than Coho! They are close to twice the size. I thought the Coho from last year were big! Goodness... these were HUGE fish. Our tour guide said they can reach 50lbs. Logan is only 30lbs! lol!

New fun website!

This site has activities set up by how long it takes to do them. You just put in how long you have, and how old the kids are that you are working with... and then press "go". It will give you 5 or more ideas for nature study and nature play in the space you already have. What a great resource. I see myself using it whenever we are bored.

On another happy note, ALEX IS HOME! YAY! My sweet boy came back late last night, and I was so very happy to see him. We are taking off today to the zoo and going to have a fun day with him before Don goes back to work this week. Good day.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

New nature table stuff

Last week, while at the market, I stopped by this little toy shop on that same street. This set of birthday rings were on the counter for $4 a piece. Wonderful price! I was so excited that Cyan and I set it up today, even though their birthdays just past.

We kept with the beach theme... she put silks and the 'sandy' doily down, and then added all our treasures from the beach a few weeks ago and a couple bits from our nature table box too.

Cyan was convinced that this lantern was a light house, and I was pretty happy to go along.

It just looked so beautiful today with all of this nature beauty that I had to capture it on film.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Fine Arts Class #3

Piet Mondrian. What an interesting fellow. We started out the class with pictures of his work. Starting with the pictures when he was young and in Holland and then slowly moving to his more abstract works of his later years in New York. We had nice long conversations about what the words "abstract" and "realistic" meant when talking about art, and as we moved through his pictures for a second time, you could see his work get more and more simple and 'abstract'.

They had seen some of these paintings previously in this class, but only the ones that he was so famous for like this:

Classically titled New York City, this painting is one of his most famous. This painting, only using red, yellow, blue, and black, shows the movement of the city as it had never been seen before. I held up an aerial map of New York so the kids could see the streets and then showed them the picture again, and some of them actually could see it and describe to me what they saw as movement and what they saw as buildings, etc.

These pictures showed movement in yet another way in this class... and also showing the importance of a paintings title. We concentrated on this a little bit when we were talking about doing our own art work in this style. We also talked about his use of balance... I called him the 'master of balance' because each of his works are set up in such a way that your eyes never are drawn to one place alone, but constantly moving about the picture... trying to find what makes it work.

After this the kids were given squares of paper and black paper lines (which took FOREVER to cut out) and the put them together in the style of Mondrian.

The talk on 'abstract' and picture titles stuck with some, and the actual pictures of the art stuck with others. I found it VERY interesting to see what the kids all picked.

Emma's Butterfly Island

Cyan's Rainbow Garden

Hannah's 'Butterfly in Red and Yellow' (Good title!!)

Abbie's 'New York City'.

And Elais' 'The Tree'.

We had a break and a snack and then the kids settled down to put the ideas they worked out on paper, onto a cookie for them to take home. I got this idea from this site and I thought it was such an amazing one! They will never forget this lesson that was a mix of hands-on and happy tummies. :)

I could do these classes forever!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Someone likes Muffin Tin Monday

I woke from nap after Cyan yesterday and this is what I found:

How cute is that? I guess someone likes Muffin Tin Mondays. :)

The results of our drying fruit

Working on how to make them less bitter now. Most of them are great, but some... well they were really bitter!

More blueberry picking with friends today. Art class tomorrow! Mondrian!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Reflections about a boy...

Sarah over at The Forest Room is having some really amazing reflections posted on her blog right now. Well written and good ideas to try if there are ever issues in homeschooling where you hit school being a chore instead of a joy.

I have loved reading them today. I have gone through similar situations oh so many times. I think with my oldest especially that I have to recheck how I am teaching/parenting him at least once a year. He is the hardest for me. Partially because his personality, but mostly because he is the oldest!

I was sitting, talking with him a few weeks ago because of a disagreement that ended with him having his computer time taken away and him yelling "CYAN NEVER GETS IN TROUBLE AS MUCH AS ME!!" Sigh. So after I calmed down and stopped seeing red, I went into his room and explained this (remember, he is 13):

"You and I have personality issues... but the truth is, even if we didn't, you would still get in trouble more, bud. You are my tester kid. I test tools for my parenting tool box out on you. The ones that work well, go back into the box. The ones that don't work at all, get thrown away. So when I run up to something similar with Cyan, she only gets the tools I have in my parenting tool box that have already worked... some of those don't work, but more often they do. So yes. You're right. She doesn't get in trouble as much as you. She just doesn't, and the trouble she gets in is over much faster because I have tools that have worked before for whatever situation she throws at me. BUT... thank you so much for helping me find the tools that I need to put in that box. Thank you for being my tester kid. You being my kid makes me a better parent."

Right now, I sit here, and he hasn't been here for a month. 5 more days and he comes home... and I miss him like crazy. What is funny, is that before he was home with me for school, I didn't miss him like this. I missed seeing him and I loved him. But I didn't miss him like I am missing him right now.

I missed him the other day when I couldn't find the dust pan and found it out under a tree where he was picking up pine cones. (With a dust pan. I know.) I miss him when I make food like this morning's "french toast taste test" and he isn't here to give me his beautiful and eloquent (and long winded) decision about which is better... butter or oil to cook in? I am just missing him being here. Doing Alex things. I am excited that we only have till Sunday. I can't wait to see him and have him be with us again.


Look what we got from our tomato experiment yesterday!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Cherries, strawberries, and blueberries, oh my!

Ok, so that really doesn't flow off the tongue like "Lions, Tigers, and Bears" but they do seem to be stalking us around every corner right now. lol...

The family and I spent the morning thrifting, and the afternoon has so far been spent moving veggies from one freezer to the new one so we can make room for a 1/4 of beef, and starting out fruit drying in the drying rack. I decided to try drying again this year because I saw a mama online that had the most amazing trail mix with her dried fruits! So I am going to try to keep extra close watch on my berries and see if I can duplicate the yummy, leathery goodness she got from her food dehydrator.

Cherries are what was used in her trail mix. I hope they work as well for me. :)

Here are the blueberries we picked up. All 30lbs of them. :) I only did one rack of the blueberries because I really enjoy them and use them frozen, so most of these will go for that. But I wanted to try it, just because it looked so good.

Then came strawberries. These are the very last of the season. I have tons and tons packed away in the freezer, but these have been kept out for my little drying experiment. Here Cyan is helping me by cutting and putting the last rack on the dryer.

12 hours until we know whether we have something eatable or fodder for the compost. But it was fun to try!