Friday, October 16, 2015

Find Out Fridays

Life is so interesting -- so many things to explore, learn, and wonder about.  We ask so many great questions, but so rarely go find enough answers.  So we're doing something about it.  We've instituted Find Out Fridays.  All week we're trying to jot down some of these questions, and then on Friday, tracking down some answers.  Right now, I'll be honest, it's a lot of internet searching.  My goal is to integrate more ways to "find out" about our questions -- our book shelves, the library, experiments, videos, field trips, talking with people, who knows what else!  But, I don't need to make the process more cumbersome.  The point is to answer some of our questions, in whatever way that naturally happens.

As you can see, our questions can really cover some ground. 

We found out some very cool stuff about chickens and egg-laying.  Here's my favorite.
(One of my favorite facts: the distinctive shape of the egg mirrors the shape of the bird's uterus.)

Sadly, yes -- Dr. Mary Edwards Walker really is the only woman ever awarded the Medal of Honor.  She was such an interesting person -- I strongly recommend getting to know her story!  Jim Weiss includes her in his Women in Blue or Gray: True Stories from Both Sides of the American Civil War.

And, Fleetwood Mac.  Well, that turned out to be very complicated.  I'll let you decide whether to Google that one for yourself.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Harry Potter Project Continues

 When one of the kids wanted to "make t-shirts" I said, "What do you mean?  Make how?"  Oh!  You want to make things ON a t-shirt!  "Did you find some instructions?"

"No.  I just want to do it."

Got it.  I know just the person to go to -- Amy of Amy Hood Arts!  Her tutorial is terrific!  Quick trips to the supermarket for freezer paper, the craft store for fabric paint and X-acto knives, and we were on our way!

At twelve, the oldest kids could do every step by themselves.
At ten, just a little support with the cutting out.

At six, Linus designed it, I sketched (got the go-ahead) and cut, he ironed and painted.

This project is too good -- we took it on the road!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Harry Potter Summer: Group PBH*

Early in summer we planned to have a couple friends over.  THEY love Harry Potter.  WE love Harry Potter.  "Should we maybe do a couple Harry Potter crafts?" I asked their mom.  So, I pinned a few ideas and said, "Have your girls take a look and see if they like any of these."  Fine, good, they "like" a few, my kids and I go out on a Sunday evening and gather all the supplies (plus yarn in all the house colors -- just in case...)

Sunday night: kids go to sleep, I try to go to sleep but suddenly panic, "What if they don't really want to do the projects, and they were just being polite, and we are all TOTALLY PSYCHED here?!  Oh dear.  What have I set up?"  Fret, fret, fret.

Monday morning.  Our friends arrive.  I play it COOL.  One friend immediately asks Sela, "Do you have the Harry Potter station programmed into Pandora?"  The other friend is wearing her Harry Potter earrings.  We're GOOD.

What started out as "Harry Potter Week" became "Harry Potter Summer."  The kids (and I) took advantage of the time available and our shared interest and completely submerged into JK Rowling's magical world.  One project lead to another and another.  Many of the projects were so thoroughly explored that they lasted for days and sometimes weeks.  They worked together to decide what they wanted to do next.  They inspired each other and learned from each other.  They shared ideas and resources.  It was a true joy to watch and to be a part of.

They learned new skills and cultivated them through repeated practice.  I'm pretty sure they didn't see it this way -- they were just having fun.  The works they created stunned me.

tip of the iceberg

Two of the projects the group wanted to do involved lettering.  And when I realized I would need to be pretty involved in supporting Linus's choices, I noticed I was feeling pretty squirmy about it.  But, (of course), I set to work with him.  Between the canvas quotes and and village signs, I had to roll up my sleeves and get messy (figuratively speaking).  It was so interesting to notice just how anxious I felt at the thought of "lettering." (I mean -- people were going to SEE that I am not an expert.  My shabby work will be just *out there* for everyone to *see*.)  And then to work through it.  And then to discover it wasn't as difficult as I had made it out to be (for yeeeeeaaaarrrrrrs, apparently).  By digging in to the process, I learned so much about learning -- mine and the kids'.

I functioned as the word processor only - never underestimate kids' abilities

I didn't do the projects they did -- I was the support team for four industrious kids.  But, as I have a hard time getting to my bigger projects, I'm content to putter-craft while kids finish meals, when I need a creativity fix, and, you know, while we play Harry Potter word association at mealtimes.  While I already know how to cross-stitch and had stitched up a handful of HP projects ahead of time, I did learn to make (house-color) pom-poms, a house scarf bookmark on plastic canvas, and how to weave a pouch any Gryffindor would be proud to carry her Knuts, Sickles, and Galleons around in.

We shared our favorite parody videos - Dark Lord Funk and Before We Say Goodbye.  They shared this one with us.  They introduced us to Harry Potter Clue.

We're planning to reconvene for our Harry Potter Ornament Making meetings.  I can't wait.

*For more on Group Project-Based Homeschooling, go straight to the source!  Lori has a book, tip sheets, master classes, a blog, and a Facebook group.  She's a wealth of information, ideas, and support -- an invaluable resource, not just for homeschooling families, but for any family.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Hosting a Co-Op Class

The old "20% of the people do 80% of the work" paradigm can be a drag.  But, I find that as one of the "workers," I guess it doesn't get me down so much.  It just puzzles me.

When our homeschool group was doing a little rethinking and restructuring, we tried to tackle this issue.  I volunteered to put together a tip sheet to address questions and concerns that members might have about organizing a group activity.  (Of course, I did.)  I came up with a kicky little document with a Pollyanna smile splashed all over it.  I'm sure it didn't help.  But it illuminated my point of view on it (to me and to everyone else, I'm sure).

There are so many things I want to do with my kids.  So many things I want to share with them.  Many things that I think are important to learn.  But how exactly am I going to get to all this?  Or even the better part of it?

I wanted to do more geography this year.  And I was thrilled when a friend said that she and her kids would be in for it, too!  THE BUDDY SYSTEM.  The granddaddy of motivational tools.  With my friend's "we're in," I've locked myself into getting this done.  It won't fall down the priority list, or off the weekly agenda.  I'll do my homework on this because there are dates and times on the calendar.  

We've only met twice so far, and I am loving it.  We've sewn land and water form cubes (hello, I've had the materials prepped for this for a year and a half).  We've started a world map lap quilt.  We've made continent cookies, learned a continent song, watched videos, learned about plate techtonics, superoceans and supercontinents, and I can finally remember that the Earth is 35 billion years old.

From where I'm standing, doing "the work" is the easy way out of the problem!

(Did I mention that I've also finally ordered a globe as a result?  Not a globe pencil sharpener.  Not a globe ball.  But a globe-sized globe.  Watch me go...)