Friday, October 30, 2009

Fine Arts Class #11 ~ Claude Monet

This whole session I have wanted to dive into Monet. But honestly, I needed to set the ground work first. Before you can get into detail about artists and what make them great, you need to go over those each of those attributes that make a great artist. It is just the way of teaching.

This class was amazing. Completely amazing. The last two classes were great, but they lacked the enthusiasm of the classes before and I just couldn't put my finger on why. This one, that spark was back. The kids were interested, I was reading and they were bouncing up and down, wanting to see the pictures.

The class started out with a talk about rainbows. What is the difference between light colors and paint colors? Are there different names for them? Do they work differently? The answer of course, is yes to all. In paint, black can be made with a mix of all colors. In light, if you mix all the colors of light, you get white. We also talked about how colors were a cycle. I asked if anyone had ever seen a double rainbow... and if they noticed what was under Indigo and Violet. RED, of course! The cycle starts all over again. Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet, Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet, and then Red!

Then we talked about Primary colors. All of the kids knew these... so I wrote this on the board:

After I wrote "Primary Colors" I asked what the Secondary Colors were. Most of the kids knew these (and I think all if they would have known the term 'Secondary Colors' before). Then we went on to talk about Tertiary Colors. The ones that are between the Primary and Secondary colors. This was fun... my kids knew some of these from art lessons they had done with me, and also this Blue's Clues episode with Joe that has this song:

After this, we made our own color wheels by mixing the colors with our pastel pencils.

Mixing was fun. :)

We got to talking about 'warm' colors and 'cool' colors. Meet the Masters explains that the colors that look most like the sun are "warm" colors and that the colors that are most like the ocean are "cool" colors. On a color wheel that means that all of the colors on the orange/red/yellow color side are 'warm' and the other side is cool. It was easy to dive right into color moods again during this discussion and I asked the kids what color they would think of when they thought of being sad. Some said black, some said blue, but all the colors were 'cool'. I talked about the phrase 'feeling blue' and 'seeing red' and asked what they thought they meant. Then I had them do a sheet about color moods and descriptive words.

The words chilly, noisy, burning, quiet, joyous, and shady were all put into color. Each kid was very different about the way they pictured these colors. Alex thought that quiet meant lack of color (and so left it white) where Elias thought that quiet meant more of a dark feeling, and so decided to color his dark. I got to use these differences to point out again that everyone sees the world just a little differently from their neighbor, and this will make every artist unique.

Slowly but surely I led this discussion back around to the Impressionists. We had a quick review over the other Impressionists that we had studied (Cassatt, Degas, Renoir) and then talked specifically about Monet and his life a little bit.

After all this talk about mixing colors, I felt that the next best step was paint! I reminded them that the Impressionists made tiny brushstrokes which gave movement to their paintings, and so I wanted them to do that. We sat outside for a little while and watched the weeping cherry in the back yard with cups of cocoa. Then we were ready to paint our tree. (We did go back outside when we were painting just to look at how the tree was positioned too.)

Again, each person saw something different. Some kids painted the tree as it looks right now (yellow with hints of orange) and some painted what it would look like other times of the year, but all used tiny brush strokes and their beautiful imaginations.

I must admit to feeling some relief that the session is over. But at the same time, I am super excited to get into other art classes with these kids. They are amazing and I have LOVED teaching this class!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fall books we love

In our storage box for the Autumn season we have a bag of cookie cutters that are shaped like apples, pumpkins, cats, and bats. We have a small wreath that we decorate with fall leaves each year for the front door. We have glass pumpkins that my husband made during his years as an artist. And the kids Trick or Treat bags I made them. We have a binder of ideas for Autumnal crafts and pictures of our nature table from past falls... and we have books.

I don't like to keep tons of books out all the time, but when I bring these books out just for the season it is such a treat to read them over and over again. Kind of like the first time you put on Christmas music in December. You look forward to the ritual and really enjoy hearing those tunes and listening to everyone in the house (even the avid haters of Christmas music) belt out the familiar but forgotten tunes. It is like this with our Autumn books.

Here are our favorites (all imgs from Amazon):

I am not sure why I didn't pull these out until tonight... but we read them all in one sitting. We read Owl Babies twice! I look forward to putting some more of the Autumnal box to work in the next few days making cookies and pumpkin pie for our Halloween celebration... but for tonight the giggles that came from: "'I want my mommy' said Bill" was enough.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Weekend getaway

I got away this last weekend with my homeschooling girlfriends. What a wonderful time it was! So nice not to have to worry about anything. I was really impressed with my husband while I was gone. He took the kids places. Which is a lot for him. When I got home, the house was even halfway decent. I feel very lucky to be able to do things like this. I am feeling recharged.

On another note, Logan fell off the couch yesterday and really hurt his foot. It is bruised on top, side and bottom and his instep is so swollen that it is flat. He has been walking on it, if favoring it a little bit. But he is very cranky and you can tell he is hurting.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

More Logan quotes

"Mama, you need go hit Alex."

"What? Why?"

"Because he be rude to me. Alex talk RUDE to ME!"

"Buddy, I don't hit people for being rude."

"Harumph..." as he stomps out with his little hands on his hips.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Later that morning ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Mama! You need to talk Alex."

"Why, what's up buddy."

"He won't let me see eggs."

"Isn't he cooking your eggs?"

Husband comes in from shower "What's goin' on?"

Logan "Alex won't let me see eggs!" as I say "He's cooking them."

Husband "Why won't he let you see them? Come on... lets go talk with him about it."

Logan follows husband to the kitchen to 'talk' with Alex... all the way with his hands on his hips making little 'harumph' noises... and I sigh. Funny boys.

Apple = Tree


(BTW, we don't hit. lol... just in case you were wondering about that.)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Oatmeal and teens

Teen accidentally drops a bowl of hot oatmeal. Bummer... Teen then thinks it is a good idea to dump the rest onto the kitchen floor and then clean it up with a mop... without even removing pieces of bowl or the oatmeal. Teen throws oatmeal covered rug into carpeted dining room. Teen puts oatmeal covered CSA box into living room. Teen then proceeds to mop the floor with oatmeal covered mop... before cleaning off the cabinets that are covered in oatmeal, or the counter... that is STILL covered in oatmeal. Now there is oatmeal in three different rooms... it isn't even 9am.

I am going to get Starbucks.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Out and About

Field trips. They are all we do right now. We are hardly ever home. It has been SO amazing that I feel I can't even begin to cover everything that we have seen... but I'll do my best (I have two art classes to post too... I am running a bit behind).

First was the sail boat Adventuress. I wasn't on this trip. I had to work that day, but the kids and Don got to go on a special tour of this beautiful sail boat. It was a trip set up specifically for educators to get the word out about the Advenuress 'on deck' programs and classes. A few of our homeschool friends were there and they all had a wonderful time!

The tour was perfect for our Ocean Research unit study we are working on right now and the kids both added a page to their research boos for the trip. Their favorite thing was seeing the wild seals following the boats. The boat also had a on deck touch tank which I thought was particularly cool. See up close what is beneath you in the ocean.

Adventuress Tour Slideshow

Then came Ted Brown Music Company. My best friend (who is also a wonderful homeschooler) taught this 3 week, 6 class unit on Orchestra to our homeschooling group and this is the second to last part of that unit: A field trip to see the instruments that she has been talking about.

Her class was amazing, and this tour was equally so. The unit was split up into parts of the orchestra. Conductor, music writers, strings, brass, woodwinds, and percussion. The kids learned SO much! Each class had a guest speaker who was also a musician. So they had gotten up close and personal with some of the instruments... but this tour topped it off. They got to touch every instrument that they had talked about, try to play it, and even bring home a their own instrument (a kazoo). It was AWESOME!

Ted Brown Music Store Tour Slideshow

Next up was Terry's Berries organic farm. This was my personal favorite. I just love good food and teaching my kids about it comes very naturally to me. We were there for the apple squeeze and pumpkin patch. This day was about 60* and POURING down rain. So we were all armed with rain boots and umbrellas. We were also there with Sarah who had set up a second part to the tour that included a wonderful corn maze that the kids just loved! By the end we were really really wet... but we were all so happy.

Terry's Berries slideshow

The last one we have been on was the Woodland Park Zoo. I didn't bring my camera (friends did), so I have no pictures to post today. But it was an AMAZING tour. If you are ever out this way (to Seattle) it is a must see. The night exhibit was particularly cool. In there was fruit bats, vampire bats, armadillos, Tawny Frog Mouth (a really cool nocturnal bird that looks like an owl, but isn't), even the huge fruit bats that look just like Stellaluna. We spent all day there, and didn't get home until dinner time.

I can only begin to guess what these field trips have taught my kids. The facts that I remember to quiz them about alone are too many to list. These types of experiences really make up an education and I love that I get to be there to share that with them. One on one education in a field trip setting also makes all the difference in how much they retain. Being able to answer questions, read aloud with them, and find answers to questions they ask right away peeks their interest and adds moments to the trip that they can remember. I am tired, but it has been an amazing week.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Under the Sea

We have been working on an under the sea unit study for about 5 months now off and on. The sea is a fascinating place! A friend of mine had a wonderful idea of making a 'research notebook' for the kids to record their adventures in. Each time we read a book about the sea, go to an aquarium, have a fun boat trip, or go to the shore (like the 7 beaches we discovered on our beach tour) we write a little bit about it. Alex is assigned two paragraphs, and Cyan two sentences. They can be about anything... anything of interest about the sea.

Today their assignment was to read a book, and then write about that. We got 33 (yes, 33) books about the sea, tide pools, sea shells, sea creatures, etc at the library yesterday and the kids have been pouring through them.

I think my very favorite thing about it is listening to Cyan read. She is getting SO good! I love her sounding out words like "fortune" and "creatures" and "Whelk" (a type of shell).

This is also helping Alex with his summarizing skills. He is one of those kids who would rather read you the entire book instead of tell you the main points, and so being limited to two paragraphs has really made him think about summing up the important info.

Unit studies have always worked best with my kids. As my friend says "Val, you don't do things half way"... I always throw myself full into whatever I am researching, learning, or passionate about. I have found lately that my kids are the same. They LOVE to bring me new facts about the anything they are passionate about. And if I am smart enough to USE that... they suck up 'education' like a sponge.

I have always thought of a child's brain like a room filled with empty boxes. Once you introduce a subject... even with nothing but a word on an audio book... that word starts to fill up a box in their brains. I believe that the public school system gives a lot of single words, but not a lot of full boxes. If that makes any sense at all. Topics are segregated into subjects... without the overlap that my kids thrive on. I would rather do one 'unit study' than 4 or 5 'subjects' per day. The information just seems to stick better. And isn't that the real goal of education?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Cause and Effect

What happens when you keep a camera in a kittens face?

I don't see you.

Isn't it nap time yet?

Why aren't you petting me?

What was that clicking noise?

Hand it over and no one gets hurt.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

New Logan quote

"Mama! I no want to say 'please' and I want YOU SAY YES!"

Oh, the third.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Charlotte's Web - The Play

Picture from the play website.

Last night we went to the play of Charlotte's Web. It was a cozy little theatre with only about 60 seats in the audience. We were in the second row, face to face with Wilbur, Charlotte, Fern and all the other characters.

I have to admit that taking toddlers to a play is not my idea of fun. But I thought that this play would be exciting enough, and also low key enough content that Logan just might enjoy it. And he did! He sat, completely enthralled for the entire 1.5 hours of the play (with intermission cookie, of course). He didn't even talk, except when Wilbur stated that Charlotte drank blood... to that he said "Ewww... YUCK!" very loudly... and made everyone around us laugh. Including Wilbur.

The other kids loved it as well. We talked about our favorite parts on our way home:

Cyan: "Charlotte. For sure, Charlotte. She was so beautiful and after the play I talked to her and told her she had a pretty dress and she told me that her teacher made it for her and let me touch her arms."

Alex: "I have two, well actually no, I have three. The first one where Templeton had the rotten egg. The second one was where he got the egg sack down, and the third was the last web."

Logan: "I 'ike the firewuks." (Fireworks: Which were lights projected on to the wall, but he thought that was super cool.)

After the play, when they were doing the "meet and greet" someone came up to Alex and told him he did a great job. He stood there stuttering as she went on to ask him if being up there was hard and he must have a lot of energy to keep bouncing around like that. Finally, Alex spilled out that he wasn't the kid who played Avery, Fern's 12 year old brother, but even Alex admitted to that being a long 2 minutes of fame.

When the big kids were meeting the characters, Logan hung back a bit... not really knowing what to do. He was kind of daunted by Charlotte and Wilbur, but when we got to Fern's Mom (far right, above in blue dress) he said "I 'ike dat show. Is good." She nearly melted in the cuteness. ;)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Field Trip

We had an amazing zoo field trip on Monday. The whole family went, because that is Don's only day off this bad changeover, and so we made a day of it. The kids and I have been studying the ocean on a elective level for about 6 months now. We have had a bunch of field trips that have to do with fish and the oceans. So we decided to make a booklet... an Ocean Research Booklet. Each time we see/read/find something new or neat about the ocean, we put it in our booklets... and this zoo trip could not have come at a better time.

Monday morning is a quiet time at the zoo. I am not sure why, but there were hardly any people around. That meant that the shark pools and the aquarium were all ours. We started at the sharks. As we stepped down into the watching area, we saw a large nurse shark laying on the bottom, right up next to the window. As we watched it two little fish started going in and out of it's mouth! They were cleaning it's teeth! We stayed there the whole time, which was about 15 minutes, and then the fish left of their own accord, and the shark rinsed his teeth by pulling water into his mouth and then closing his mouth and shooting it back out again. It was the neatest shark thing I have ever seen! The little fish swam away and Logan followed them to the other side of the tank... they were totally fine and probably looking for another shark to pick lunch off of. Now I have seen these fish cleaning the outside of the sharks, but inside their mouths? They seriously went so deep I was afraid the shark was going to swallow them just by reflex. It was amazing!

Then we went into the touch tank area, and the lady presenting had a good 20 minutes of no one but us in there, so she was talking all about sea creatures and the ones without brains, and what happens when we pour things into the water, etc. Cyan was enraptured by the whole thing and sat listening to her and petting the sea cucumbers (with one finger) for the whole time.

Logan started to get restless, and so we went through the Sea Horse exhibit. All of them were out and playing. They were going all over their tanks and even the tiny itty bitty ones (no bigger than a pea) were moving around so Logan could see.

Then I collected Cyan from the touch tanks and we go downstairs into the viewing area of the aquarium. There are rows of huge tanks on the outsides of the aquarium and then the huge tank in the center. We were lucky to have gotten there just as they were feeding the octopus. There was a plastic maze looking box in the center of the tank, with two dead fish in it. And as we watched, the octopus started coiling... rolling... writhing around. You couldn't see what part was what. It was just a mass of tentacles. Then, it struck out with it's tentacles and reached towards the box. It didn't get anything, so pulled back under this rock that looked FAR too small to fit it, and after a few minutes, tried again. It never got the box while we were there, but WOW... it was amazing to watch. I have never seen anything like it. It reminded me of the movies where the giant squid come up over the edges of the boat with the tentacle coiling and pulling the boat down into the water. Honestly, it looked just like that... only smaller.

It was an amazing trip. The kids spent the whole morning writing about what they saw and looking up different fun stuff in their animal encyclopedias. Cyan drew an awesome picture of a octopus, and Alex wrote on eel and sea stars.

Fun fact learned: I always thought that one octopus is called "octopus" and two were called "octopi", but apparently not. Apparently Cyan has had it right all along... it is "octopuses". Who knew?

(I didn't bring my camera that day... so the pic above is from the zoo website.)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Muffin Tin Monday ~ Or Muffin MOON Monday

This weeks theme over at Muffin Tin Monday was "All About Me". I didn't have a whole lot of bright ideas since we have spent the week being terribly sick, but the kids wanted to put it together so I thought; what is more "all about me" than a dinner, completely picked by the kids?

In this meal is my kids favorite soup; tomato with noodles in it, apples and carrots to signify the season, and 'full moon' cheese sandwiches to celebrate the full moon (Cyan was VERY into celebrating the full moon)... and then leftover Oreo's from a visit from our cousin. Which are a fast favorite that the kids know I will never buy... so they loved adding it in here.

I found this little dinner tray at goodwill the other day and brought it home for my vehicle loving Logan. He thought it was just about the best 'plate' ever!

And to drink... the boys had Keifer (a yogurt drink) and Cyan and I had pink lemonade in fancy 'girl' glasses.

"See mama? I told you it looked like the moon." lol...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Harvest Moon

Img from here. I have still not been able to capture a good full moon. Even with my tripod.

We are just getting over a week of nasty colds. It started with Logan on Tuesday and then gone through the whole family, ending with Don and I this weekend. What a sucky way to start fall!

Tonight Don and I were feeling much better. So we decided to celebrate the full harvest moon. Cyan saw it after dinner and we all ran outside. Much less of a planned thing than last year, but I did have some books I had gotten for the occasion. We got some cider and cocoa from Starbucks and found ourselves a nice hill... we sat at the top of the hill in the car, all still decked in our jammies for the most part, drank our treats and read our books. It was a wonderful little tradition that I am glad we were able to keep, regardless of the illness.

The first book we read was Kitten's First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes. It is a cute little book about a kitten who thinks that the moon is a big bowl of milk and tries to chase it. It was perfect for Logan.

The next book was for the bigger kids. Full of wonderful facts and short poems, When the Moon is Full by Mary Azarian is the perfect book to take along with you on an impormptu field trip like this. The last pages have questions (which also have answers) that you can ask your kids about the moon and it's workings. It was perfect... the art is beautiful too.

I am very glad we are all on the mend, and also very glad we didn't miss this traditional celebration with our kids.

How do you celebrate the harvest moon? Any moon books that you love?