January 19, 2011

Nature Study in the Backyard

The great pictures were taken by my husband.

Mid-Afternoon Snack Attack!

Some time between two and four in the afternoon I get a craving for something sweet. It wouldn't be a big deal except that after the birth of the twins I have been adapting to pre-diabities symptoms and thus have taken refined sugar out of my diet. The cravings, however, are strong. They demand attention and usually I give in and then feel bad about it. But not anymore! I have found a little nugget of delicious and healthy proportions that satisfies that craving and still keeps me in the right zone regarding my insulin. I wanted to share this yummy little treat with you. They are called whatever you like to call them...we call them extra energy orbs.

I found the recipe to make them here and have been making them ever since. (The recipe is on page 14 of the PDF document) They are wonderful! If I am making them just prior to my monthly flow I add about 1/3 cup of flax flour and they really help alleviate my PMS symptoms. They contian 1/4 cup of cocoa which I have been reading lately is very good for you. The cocoa is a wonderfully beneficial when consumed without white processed sugar. I also indulge on cold days with this recipe for hot chocolate using date syrup instead of sugar.

In a sauce pan add:
2 cups of whole milk
1/4 tsp of salt
3T unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup of date syrup or however much you like.

Try adding vanilla, mint or cinnamon flavorings for fun!

Heat until the cocoa is fully incorporated and pour steaming into your favorite mug.

January 17, 2011

A Desk and a Room

One of the best things we did this year was to purchase desks for the boys and put them in a room we call the "School Room". It was a hard choice for me because I was very adament about making learning a lifestyle and desks just screamed institution!. Then to have a school room just brings school home which is just to opposite of what we are trying to do with our education. I should not have been so concerned....the boys love the desks. As soon as Zak saw one in the store he sat down at it and said in such a determined tone "This is mine!" At that moment, it struck me that perhaps my view on education wasn't the only view to consider in our education system. Perhaps Zak had something to show me. Perhaps I needed to let go of my ideals and let the boys create the educational environmet that appealed most to them, even if it did look alot like a school.

The boys were all very energetic about having a space to themselves to manage, to store stuff in and to call their own. It revealed such interesting characteristics about each one that I found it delightful and fascinating to observe how they went about it. My very sequential one was a pack rat and very messy. My random one was a minimalist putting on his desk only the most useful and needed items. My oldest was just what you woud expect, tidy and reasonable.

I find desk help us daily to learn orderliness and organization. At the close of each day of lessons they are not free to play until the desk is in order. To help with this, I purchased these colored plastic folders one for each subject and they keep much of their finished work or ongoing work in these in a self just below their desk. They were given waste baskets to keep track of their garbage, and I provided several tin cans to store pens and scissors etc in. Now they have a place to put their school  tools and work outside of lesson time. They are now more in contact with their lesson materials. Often they will return during the day to color unfinished pictures, or play with some of the games we have played during lesson times. I love how this puts learning more into their hands.
I have a cabinet with my stuff in there too. I love having all my materials right there close at hand while I am teaching. I love sitting at the work table in the middle of the room, planning lessons with fun red and white striped curtains smiling down on me, and everything right at my finger tips. When lessons are over the rest of my house is still intact, clean, orderly. It has not been disturbed by art lessons or projects that left cuttings all over the floor. The dinning room table is not another job to do before I can get to preparing lunch. I can leave a school project behind closed doors and get lunch on the table in no time at all and then we can pick up on that project later when we have time for it.

I have learned that it isn't  the furniture or a room that dictates what kind of education you will be doing, but the ideas and desires that lie within you and your children which sets you on your course. Structures, furniture and other exteranl things are servants that enable us to reach our goals. A desk and a room are not a definition but a way to stay organized and thus go more swiftly onward towards a life full of new ideas laced with rich stories and wonderful projects that who knows...... may change the world!

January 9, 2011

A House for a Seed

We learned in our botany study this last week that a fruit is really a name for the material that surrounds a seed. In our last unit on seeds, we discovered that lots of things have seeds. In this unit we learned that anything with a seed is a fruit. That includes things we commonly think of as vegetables: like tomatos, cucumbers, nuts, wheat etc these are technically fruits...the fruit is the house for the seed.
We cut open a few apples and pears to look more at these houses. Following the helpful instructions in Nature Printing (a beautiful book with about 30 nicely designed nature crafts in them.) we went about painting the cut open flesh and printing their images on paper. The boys had a ball!

The book recommends using watercolors because the fruits tend to be already very wet...as you can see from Max's first attempt.

Once the apple was printed TJ noticed it looked  alot like a butterfly...here he is adding some atenna to the butterfly body.
And this one looks like a sun!
Zak the surly artist.
A great cloud of witness....(note the onlooking artist on the wall)
And to finish off this rather short unit on fruits we memorized the parts of the fruit.
These cards can be found here...Zak's fine color choices brighten up the lesson.
These cards we played concentration with, and match the label.
It was the first time the boys wrote the names on the cards themselves! Cool! The pocket was added to the botany lapnotebook.
Our text for this unit was Exploring Creation with Botany Ch. 5.

Beginning Drawing 101

In between investigating impressionist artists (we just finished Edgar Degas) we are doing units on basic art skills. This time around I chose basic drawing....we used Ralph Masiello's Bug Drawing book as our inspriation and guide. The statement on the bottom front of his book is sooooo true,

"Simple steps make anyone and artist"

If each spot on a lady bug tells us how old she is.....then Zak has made a very old lady bug indeed!

These drawings turned out so well we decided to use them as get well cards for a sick friend.

A fly went by.

The very hungry catapiller.

Look out Little Miss Muffet!


Stink bug.

Dragon fly.

Create your own insect...

Checkout the great step by step instructions for the lady bug.

In addtion to the drawing instruction in The Bug Drawing book, each week we fill in these drawing practice pages.
The ones above were created to expand the few examples found in Drawing with Children (pg. 43). Here is what Mona Brooks says about these exercises:

"It is not necessary to reproduce the image exactly, since that is not our goal in thr drawing process. You merely want to duplicate the same general structure with the same basic components. For example, it is not important to have the same exact size or confidence of line. But do attempt to duplicate the type and number of lines represented, as well as the relationship of how one line is attached to another."

Well That is our first drawing lesson mini unit....now we are off to get to know Vincent Van Gogh.

January 7, 2011

If then.....

"...you have been raised up with Christ (to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead)aim at and seek the (rich eternal treasures) that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. and set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not the things that are on the earth. For (as far as the world is concerned) you have died, and your (new, real) life is hidden with Christ in God."  Colossians 3:1-3 The Applified Version

If then, you are dead, but well beloved, you are rich in heavenly treasures, you are capable of doing all God asks of you, you have purpose in worshiping Him, freedom from sin, belonging, righteousness, purity…all because of Christ. If then, since, therefore these things are true about you, then AFTER you believe them, then, get up and allow Christ to do these things. Paul then in chapters 3-6 gives us guidelines for holy living. These guidelines are easy when we believe the truth in the first two chapters. They flow with overflowing grace and freedom.

I love Colossians. I just finished an inductive study of it with two other couples. I love it’s brevity. I love how Paul when he wrote to the believers never began any of his letters to them on a negative note. He never begins with a rebuke, he never begins with a command to follow. He simply reminds them in the first several chapters of every book he wrote WHO THEY ARE, becauseChrist has made the final sacrifice. He tells them each time of all the riches they have. He expounds on the benefits, the foundation of the truth. He tells them they have hope.

Hope for the future, hope to be successful in righteousness. Hope because we have died and He has Risen!

I made this Commitment booklet, Colossians in a Year. You can make one too! Ann from Holy Experience blogged about it yesterday. She has provided ooodles of great helps on memorization and the cover and pages for the booklet free for us to download and use. The booklet is a beautifully planned way to put this lovely text of Colossians to memory in one year. Which is two verses a week. I am thrilled to be putting such a wealth of perspective and reassurance of value deep into my mind deep into my heart and deep into the world around me this year as I learn these verses.

If then, you are dead, but well beloved, you are rich in heavenly treasures, you are capable of doing all God asks of you, you have purpose in worshiping Him, freedom from sin, belonging, righteousness, purity…

If then this be true, how will I live today?

January 5, 2011

On the first day of Christmas....

...my true love gave to me....a partridge in a pear tree.
On the 2ND day of Christmas my true love gave to me....two turtle doves...
On the 3RD day of Christmas my true love gave to me....three french hens...
On the 4TH day of Christmas my true love gave to me....Four calling birds...

On the 5TH Day of Christmas my true love gave to me....FIIIIIIIVE GOLDEN RIIINGS!!
On the 6TH day of Christmas my true love gave to me.....six geese a laying....
On the 7TH day of Christmas my true love gave to me....seven swans a swiming...
On the 8TH day of Christmas my true love gave to me....eight maids a milking...
On the 9TH day of Christmas my true love gave to me.....nine ladies dancing....
On the 10TH day of Christmas my true love gave to me....ten lords a leaping...
On the 11TH day of Christmas my true love gave to me....eleven pipers piping....
On the 12TH day of Christmas my true love gave to me....12 drummers drumming..
A few weeks before Christmas we began a lapbook study of the boys favorite Christmas Carol, the Twelve days of Christmas. I added this lapbook to the hands of a child  lapbook to incorporate more handwriting practice in our twoelve days study.The coloring pages we found at DLTK...it was one of the daily things we did to learn about this song and learn all the words.
Each day we learned a new vocabulary word, wrote a few copywork pages, marched our wise men to the nativity, folded up an evelope which held a secret message and colored a picture and of course sang the song as we worked. Then there were special activities different each day. Following are some pictures of our lapbooks and activities.
The coloring pages I tucked into a mailer folder and glued to the very back of the lapbook.
I sang, they knelt behind the table, and as the days came up they produced the puppets again and again. I think we are now somewhat tired of our favorite song. I am glad it will not come around until next year. But I must say after 12 days of looking it we KNOW IT!