Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Artist/Picture Study - Claude Monet

This month Sophia and Olivia learned about Claude Monet as part of their on-going artist study. Two of the six pictures that they studied were at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and four of the pictures were in a children's book that we all enjoy reading.

This is the first time that we have been able to see "in real life" paintings that an artist that we're studying has done. It was an exciting and special opportunity that we are grateful to have had.

As with other paintings, Sophia and Olivia looked at the images quietly for a period of time. Then they faced away from the painting or closed the book they were looking at, and shared some of the things they recalled about the picture. Their responses are noted below.

Grainstack, Sun in the Mist

Sophia remembered:
=> It looked like it was a hut or house in the middle of nowhere.
=> There were a lot of colors used.
=> The sun was setting.
=> It looks quiet and there are no animals around.
=> The colors aren't vivid. They blend into one another.
=> There were lots of pinks, purples, blues, and greens.
=> It looks dreamy - not realistic.
=> It is dusk because the sky is pink.

Olivia remembered:
=> There's a peek of the sun.
=> There's a mountain to the left.
=> It looks like the roof of a house.
=> The artist wrote his name in the corner in little letters.
=> All the colors are light - pink, red, light blue, and a hint of dark purple.
=> It's not realistic and there isn't much detail.
=> There's a lot of texture in the paining.


The Seashore at Sainte-Adresse

Sophia remembered:
=> It looks like the sea or ocean.
=> There is a rowboat with three sailors or men in it; and two other sailboats.
=> The water is choppy and dark.
=> The sky above looks dark - like it might rain. There are clouds.
=> He used light brown, purple, pink, and blue in the painting.
=> There's a little hill with lots of green weeds and grass.
=> The picture isn't bright.
=> There's a a part of a fence or wall in the water.
=> It looks like it is windy because it is blowing.
=> It looks like dusk.
=> The artist used short paint strokes.
=> This picture is a lot more clear than the other one.

Olivia remembered:
=> There are some ships.
=> The sky is kind of dark - like there is going to be a storm.
=> In the distance, there is a lighthouse.
=> On the left-hand side on the land there are lots of rocks.
=> The dock is kind of old and doesn't look that sturdy any more.
=> The artist used green, brown, white, gray, dark purple, and pink.
=> The water is pale and dark blue.
=> There are birds in the sky.
=> The seashore and ocean aren't that far from the land.
=> The boars don't look that sturdy.


The other pictures that the girls studied were from a book. Although seeing a printed image isn't the same thing as seeing a painting in real life, having seen two of Monet's paintings gave us all a greater appreciation of what we were seeing in the book.

Pointe de la He've at Low Tide

Sophia remembered:
=> It looks like a it is about to rain.
=> There's a big formation of rocks or a sailboat in the middle of the ocean.
=> There's a wagon being pulled by a horse and a man is sitting on a seat.
=> Behind the two horses there's an older man with a cane walking behind them.
=> The tide is out and it is pretty dark.
=> There were clouds with an open space in the middle.
=> The rocks look like they are shale.
=> It looks like the people are hurrying towards home.
=> The sea looks dark and choppy.
=> It looks like you don't want to be sailing on the ocean.

Olivia remembered:
=> There's a wagon that's half in the water.
=> There's a ship way out - it's very big - in the distance.
=> There are two very long docks - like at Papa and Nana's house.
=> There are two or three horses and they are riding away because they each have a person on them.
=> There are some boats dragged up and sitting at the docks.
=> There's a cloud - which I saw - that is dark and looks like some sort of animal.
=> There was a cliff which looks like a person is on top of it. IT's be like someone ruling the world and overlooking their kingdom.
=> The rocks look like shale and sandstone.
=> The water - since the tide was out - showed a lot of jagged rocks. You could hurt your feet if you walked on them.


Women in the Garden at Ville d'Auray

Sophia remembered:
=> The picture is very pretty, and I like it.
=> It looks like the afternoon and there are wispy clouds.
=> You can't tell the three women are one person. (Note: Monet used one woman as the model for the women he painted in the picture.)
=> The dresses the women are wearing are very poofy and I wouldn't want to run in them.
=> The one woman isn't running - she's walking fast. You can't run in one of those dresses.
=> There's one lady sitting on the ground and her dress has purplish lace.
=> The man has darker color and it looks like he's wearing a skirt.
=> The trees are covering a lot of the sky so it looks like they are in the shade.

Olivia remembered:
=> There's a man giving a woman flowers. I like that part.
=> You can see Claude's name in the corner of the picture.
=>There's a woman sitting looking at flowers on the ground.
=> There's a woman running towards something.
=> The man has a lot of white buttons on his shirt and pants. He is dressed all in brown.
=> The colors mostly were all green. There was more green than bright colors.
=> The ground or pathway is made from rocks.
=> The tree had a brown trunk and the branches were spread out.
=> The women have flowers in their hands and an umbrella.


La Grenouillere

Sophia remembered:
=> There are three people swimming.
=> There are a bunch of people in a rowboat laughing and having a good time.
=> The trees are on one side of the river and on the other side there are really tall trees.
=> The water where the people are talking is dark, mysterious, and algae-covered.
=> There's another boat; and it has a covering and there are windows.
=> Monet didn't focus on clothes or people - he focused on the landscape and water.
=> There aren't any clouds in the sky - it's just a pretty blue. It looks later in the day.
=> The dock is on the side of the rowboat and it goes kind of far out.

Olivia remembered:
=> There are two people swimming.
=>The man who is petting a dog has a blue shirt.
=> There are three boats adrift.
=> The trees are pretty, but there are white blobs on them.
=> The tree on the small island is kind of straight and the higher up part is covered with leaves.
=> There's a person who is on the boat and she has a pretty hat with feathers.
=> There are a few chairs and people are sitting in them.
=> The trees are like a pale-greenish color.
=> The water reflects trees and people, but the lake looks like it has a lots of small waves.


Villas a Bordighera

Sophia remembered:
=> It's very pretty. There are a lot of greens and yellows.
=> It's not as clear as some of the other pictures.
=> There are lots of plants and greenery.
=> One building has a balcony to stand out.
=> There aren't people. The people who you can see are just lumps of color.
=> It's clear that Claude was trying to look at scenery, greenery, and buildings rather than at people.
=> It's somewhere I'd want to live.
=> There are pinks, some blue, orange, and reddish colors.
=> The sky isn't very clear. You can't see that there are clouds.
=> From the angle that he's painting, it looks like you're standing in the middle of bushes and trees.
=> The colors aren't ones you'd see around here.

Olivia remembered:
=> There's a tree which is all spiky.
=> There are mountains in the background that look rocky and dangerous.
=> The place is summer-like and hot. I wouldn't like to live there.
=> There aren't any people in the picture.
=> The houses have lots of balconies.
=> The sky is very blue, but it's not the best blue I've ever seen.
=> There were lots of shrubs that had really pointy leaves.
=> The colors are very pale, mostly yellows and greens.
=> There might have been a few people in the picture.
=> The place had a pretty garden.


Friday, January 25, 2013

3 in 30 - Update #4

This month for the 3 in 30 challenge I'm working on the following three goals:

1. Start working on and continue hobbies:

- Try at least one new recipe per week. 

We tried one new recipe this week - Currant Buns - from Olivia's Five in a Row Cookbook.  This ties into the book The Tale of Peter Rabbit. They turned out well and we would make them again.

- Write in my nature journal at least once a week.

I wrote in my nature journal once this week. The focus this week was on squirrels since that tied into what I was having Sophia and Olivia learn about and do for their nature journaling assignment.

Squirrel Eating at the Birdfeeder
Squirrel that was at one of our feeders.

- Continue keeping some form of a daily/weekly journal.

I have continued writing each day in my Artist's Way journal. What I haven't done are answer the weekly questions that are in the accompanying book. I read the book and did the questions back in 2005. I feel like answering them again would be repetitive.

So, I am going to pick and choose which questions I want to focus on this time around. I'm going to begin doing that next month now that I am in the habit of writing each day.

- Grow African violets. Get first one on the anniversary of Dad’s death.

This was completed during the first week. Pictures of the African violets are on 3 in 30 - Update #2.

2. Do 4 interesting and/or memorable homeschooling activities this month that aren't part of the core curriculum.

=> See the Terracotta Warriors exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. 

This was completed during the second week. Pictures from the exhibit are on 3 in 30 - Update #2.

=> Watch one movie from the American Film Institute's Top 100 Funny Movies.

This is something that I changed to be a personal goal. I completed it last week and wrote about it on 3 in 30 - Update #3.

=> Watch one movie that has received an Academy Award for Best Picture.

This is also another goal I changed into a personal goal since I thought it would be better to have more active, hands-on activities for homeschooling.

Even though it isn't a homeschooling goal, it still is one of my goals for this month. At this point, I still have not received "Wings" that I requested at the beginning of the month from the library.

It is coming from another library from out of the county, so it will take a while. Thought I would have it by now. Perhaps this is a movie that I'll be watching in February instead.

=> Visit the ice castle at Mall of America.

This was completed last week. Pictures from the ice castle are on 3 in 30 - Update #3.

=> Visit Richardson Nature Center.

This was completed last week. Pictures from the nature center are on 3 in 30 - Update #3.

=> Go swimming. The girls went swimming on January 19th. They had a lot of fun swimming; and it was a welcome break from the cold weather that had begun earlier that day.

3. Volunteer with seniors twice during January.

We did not have an opportunity to volunteer with seniors this month because there was a two-week isolation due to the flu at the care center. The last two weeks of January have been busy, so we haven't had a chance to volunteer.

Over the next few days as well as the first week in February, we will be making some table and window decorations as well as examples of projects that we will be doing with the seniors. (This is in preparation for the February 9th and 16th sessions we have with the seniors at the care center.)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Homeschool Mother's Journal - January 24th

In my life this past week…

We celebrated Olivia's 10th birthday on January 18th by spending part of the day at Richardson Nature Center and the Mall of America.

Owl at Richardson Nature Center.
It has to be in captivity because someone raised it and 
it is imprinted on humans now.

In addition to going on a couple of rides, having lunch, and visiting the American Girl store, we saw the ice castle at the Mall of America - the main reason that Olivia wanted to go there this year.

One of the sculptures at the ice castle.

In our homeschool this week…

We have been catching up on poetry study (Rudyard Kipling) and artist study (Claude Monet).

Painting by Monet that Sophia and Olivia saw 
at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

We also have been doing some nature journaling and learning about different animals (e.g., squirrels, groundhogs, rabbits).

One of the squirrels that we saw at the Richardson Nature Center.

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…

Sophia and Olivia have been using Rod & Staff for their math curriculum since Kindergarten. It has been a good fit so far for Sophia who has tested at 1 1/2 years above grade level, but not for Olivia. Both girls, though, are hands-on learners so I have been looking for a math curriculum that has more real-life, tangible learning.

Sophia's Math Book
Rod & Staff student workbook.

I also want something that is consistent with Charlotte Mason's philosophy since that seems to be - at this stage of our homeschooling - the predominant philosophy that I follow.

Even though it's a bit of a challenge to change curricula after many years, sometimes it needs to be done to better meet the needs of the child/student. To me, that's one of the many benefits of homeschooling: being able to change and adapt one's methods and tools to better reach a child in her learning journey.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

I am going to a women's retreat this weekend which I'm looking forward to attending. There is a keynote speaker as well as three break-out sessions. The keynote speaker will be talking about "whole-hearted connection." Part of the description said that her talk will draw on Brené Brown’s research on vulnerability; and will explore ways to awaken compassion, to risk bringing one's whole self forward, and to open one's
heart to a deeper connection with others.

There's another session called "Courage and Change: Creating the Good Life." This one focuses on the fact that life transitions are inevitable even though we resist them. The speaker will focus on how to find ways around the obstacles people encounter along the way.

Another session I want to go to focuses on a panel of Unitarian Universalist women who share tales of courage from their lives and what they learn. It's focused on the inspiration that comes from hearing our own stories of the strength of the human spirit.

My favorite thing this week was…

Spending time outside on January 18th when it was 39 degrees (before the cold spell hit), and being able to enjoy the ice castle.

Looking at the top of the ice castle towards the sky.

I liked seeing the various shades of blue of the ice against the beautiful blue sky.

What’s working for us…

We've been trying new recipes that are:
=> part of the Five in a Row curriculum that Olivia is doing;
=> from the Eating Your Way through the U.S.A. that's part of the Cantering the Country curriculum that both the girls are doing; and
=> from Japan and Korea and tie into the Eastern hemisphere curriculum that Sophia is doing through Sonlight.

A Japanese salad that we made.

Things I’m working on…

I am filing everything in my office that I hadn't since the holidays began back in November. November 17- January 18 marks the busiest time of the year with:

=> the anniversary of Olivia's and Sophia's adoption days (November 17th and November 26th respectively)
=> Thanksgiving
=> St. Nicholas Day
=> St. Lucia Day
=> Las Posadas
=> Christmas Eve
=> Christmas Day
=> Sophia's birthday
=> New Year's Day
=> Olivia's birthday

This time period also included the one year anniversary of my father's death (January 5th), and Gretel dying unexpectedly (January 12th). Needless to say, it is a bittersweet time with the excitement and happiness of the various holidays and special days...mixed with the sadness of death, loss, and grief.

So, now that all these days and the business of this time period has passed, I finally have everything filed and now can begin working on taxes. My goal is to have everything to the CPA by February 10th.

I'm reading...

A variety of books for the spiritual growth program I'm doing at church. The focus for the past and upcoming weeks is on Buddhism, so I have read some interesting books including It's Easier than You Think - The Buddhist Way to Happiness by Sylvia Boorstein and Lovingkindness - The Revolutionary Art of Happiness by Sharon Salzberg.

The next subject is transcendentalism and two books I that I'll be reading are American Transcendentalism by Philip Gura and Searching for Thoreau - On the Trails and Shores of Wild New England by Tom Slayton.

I’m cooking…

Olivia said she wanted a "tiger cake" for her birthday, so the picture below shows what I came up with.

Tiger cake that I made.

I also have been trying to use up what is in the cupboards, refrigerator, and freezer in an effort to transition to a real foods/whole foods diet. Basically, the goal is to get away from processed food; and make all the meals from scratch using ingredients that are pronounceable and don't contain chemicals.

The last time that I went shopping, the majority of the food that I purchased had one ingredient listed on the ingredient list which is what I aiming for (e.g., olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, raisins, black beans).

I’m grateful for...

Getting through the cold weather. Seeing -16F as the temperature and -30F to -40F for windchill temperatures is not my idea of good weather.

It was particularly difficult on Bailey and Hoss (the pony and miniature horse) even though they have the barn to be in to escape the bone-chilling wind.

Bailey's Eye and Forelock
Bailey's eye and forelock.

The extra hay, grain, and fresh water - as well as extra layers of wood chips for bedding - got them through this challenging weather.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…

"Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty." (Albert Einstein)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Poetry Study - Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling was an English poet, novelist, and short-story writer remembered mostly for his celebration of British imperialism, poems, and tales of British soldiers in India, and his tales for children. He received the 1907 Nobel Prize for Literature.

Kipling was born in Bombay and was taken by his family to England when he was five years old.

Kipling is best known for his works of fiction, including The Jungle Book (a collection of stories which includes "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi"), Just So Stories, many short stories, including The Man Who Would Be King; and his poems, including Mandalay and Gunga Din.

Below are six poems that I read to Sophia and Olivia. Their thoughts about what they heard follow each poem.

Sophia said she did Rudyard Kipling as a poet, even though she wasn't terribly excited about the poems/excerpts from Just So Stories. Olivia thought Kipling was okay...he wasn't the worst poet she's heard, but not the favorite one either.

Out of all the poems/excerpts I've read to the girls, these have elicited the briefest reactions. They also reflect more confusion and ambivalence than the girls have expressed with other poets and poems. I don't see us reading much poetry or short stories from Rudyard Kipling in the future.


How the Whale Got His Throat 
(From Just So Stories)

When the cabin port-holes are dark and green
Because of the seas outside
When the ship goes wop (with a wiggle between)
And steward falls into the soup-tureen,
And trunks begin to slide;
When Nursey lies on the floor in a heap,
And Mummy tells you to let her sleep,
And you aren't waked or washed or dressed,
Why, then you will know (if you haven't guessed)
You're "Fifty North and Forty West!"

Sophia thought: He could rhyme stuff...and that's about it.

Olivia thought: It didn't make any sense. I didn't understand it.


How the Camel Got His Hump 
(From Just So Stories)

The Camel's hump is an ugly lump
Which well you may see at the Zoo;
But uglier yet is the hump we get
From having too little to do.
Kiddies and grown-ups too-oo-oo,
If we haven't enough to do-oo-oo,
We get the hump--
Cameelious hump--
The hump that is black and blue!
We climb out of bed with a frouzly head,
And a snarly-yarly voice.
We shiver and scowl and we grunt and we growl
At our bath and our boots and our toys;
And there ought to be a corner for me
(And I know' there is one for you)
When we get the hump--
Cameelious hump--
The hump that is black and blue!
The cure for this ill is not to sit still,
Or frowst with a book by the fire;
But to take a large hoe and a shovel also,
And dig till you gently perspire;
And then you will find that the sun and the wind.
And the Djinn of the Garden too,
Have lifted the hump--
The horrible hump--
The hump that is black and blue!
I get it as well as you-oo-oo--
If I haven't enough to do-oo-oo!
We all get hump--
Cameelious hump--
Kiddies and grown-ups too!

Sophia thought: That's not the whole story [from Just So Stories]. I followed this one a bit better than the whale one. This poem was okay, but I like other poems by other poets better. Out of all the poems by Rudyard Kipling, though, I liked this one the best.

Olivia thought: I don't think he should have done the you-oo-oo and do-oo-oo parts because it doesn't sound good. The beginning made more sense to me.


Blue Roses

Roses red and roses white
Plucked I for my love's delight.
She would none of all my posies--
Bade me gather her blue roses.

Half the world I wandered through,
Seeking where such flowers grew.
Half the world unto my quest
Answered me with laugh and jest.

Home I came at wintertide,
But my silly love had died,
Seeking with her latest breath
Roses from the arms of Death.

It may be beyond the grave
She shall find what she would have.
Mine was but an idle quest--
Roses white and red are best!

Sophia thought: It was depressing because she died. I prefer other happier poems. She also was trying to get rid of him by sending him out to look for blue roses that don't exist.

Olivia thought: I think it was kind of weird. It had roses and death; and that didn't really go together.  I don't think there are such things as blue roses. Wait...can I look that up? [She looked them up on the internet.] Blue roses are real roses but aren't really blue. They are white roses that are dyed blue. Out of all the poems by Rudyard Kipling, I liked this one the best.


The Friends

I had some friends--but I dreamed that they were dead--
Who used to dance with lanterns round a little boy in bed;
Green and white lanterns that waved to and fro:
But I haven't seen a Firefly since ever so long ago!

I had some friends--their crowns were in the sky--
Who used to nod and whisper when a little boy went by,
As the nuts began to tumble and the breeze began to blow:
And I haven't seen a Cocoa-palm since ever so long ago!

I had a friend--he came up from Cape Horn,
With a Coal-sack on his shoulder when a little boy was born.
He heard me learn to talk, and he helped me thrive and grow:
But I haven't seen the Southern Cross since ever so long ago!

I had a boat--I out and let her drive,
Till I found my dream was foolish, for my friends were all alive.
The Cocoa-palms were real, and the Southern Cross was true:
And the Fireflies were dancing--so I danced too!

Sophia thought: It was a bit confusing; and the first sentence was a bit alarming. Something that stood out were the people dancing around a boy's bed. 

Olivia thought: I liked it, but thought it was confusing towards the end. I thought the first part was kind of funny. 


What and Why and When And How and Where and Who

I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.
I send them over land and sea,
I send them east and west;
But after they have worked for me,
I give them all a rest.

I let them rest from nine till five,
For I am busy then,
As well as breakfast, lunch, and tea,
For they are hungry men.
But different folk have different views;
I know a person small--
She keeps ten million serving-men,
Who get no rest at all!
She sends 'em abroad on her own affairs,
From the second she opens her eyes--
One million Hows, two million Wheres,
And seven million Whys!

Sophia thought: It was pretty interesting. It was kind of sad that the guys who worked for the woman didn't get any rest.

Olivia thought: I thought it was kind of confusing. It didn't really make any sense. 


How the Leopard Got His Spots 
(From Just So Stories)

I am the Most Wise Baviaan, saying in Most wice tones,
"Let us melt into the landscape--just us two by our lones."
People have come--in a carriage--calling. But Mumy is there . . .
Yes, I can go if you take me--Nurse says she don't care.
Let's go up to the pig-styes and sit on the farmyard rails!
Let's say things to the bunnies, and watch 'em skitter their tails!
Let's'-oh, anything, daddy, so long as it's you and me,
And going truly exploring, and not being in till tea!
Here's your boots (I've brought 'em), and here's your cap and stick,
And here's your pipe and tobacco. Oh, come along out of it--quick!

Sophia thought: It's a cute little poem. It isn't something you would normally hear from other poets. They do stories about animals and people and love. I kind of liked it.

Olivia thought: I don't really like it because it didn't make any sense to me. But...I liked the part where the bunnies skittered their tails. 


Friday, January 18, 2013

3 in 30 - Update #3

This month for the 3 in 30 challenge I'm working on the following three goals:

1. Start working on and continue hobbies:

- Try at least one new recipe per week. 

This week we tried a few new recipes:

=> Cheesy Garlic Rolls - from Eat Your Way through the U.S.A. We are studying about Wisconsin now and this is one of the recipes that tie into the state's culinary tastes. Both the girls made the rolls. These were very good - especially hot out of the oven.

=> Carrot Cake - from Eat Your Way through the U.S.A. We are studying about Wisconsin now and this is one of the recipes that tie into the state's culinary tastes. Olivia made the cake, and it turned out great. With three cups of grated carrots, it had a lot more carrots than other carrot cake recipes we've tried.

=> Tangerine and Watercress Salad - this is a Japanese recipe and ties into Sophia's study on the Eastern Hemisphere. Sophia made the salad (with a blend of lettuces rather than watercress) as well as the dressing. It was a healthy and refreshing addition to our dinner.

=> Oatmeal Scones - this recipe came from Wabibito (an e-magazine that I reviewed). We enjoyed having the scones for breakfast.

=> Buttermilk Cornbread - this is recipe from Olivia's Five in a Row Cookbook and ties into the book When I was Young in the Mountains. This version of cornbread turned out a bit more crumbly than other recipes we have tried in the past. The flavor was just was rather crumbly.

=> Korean Egg Casserole  - this is a recipe that Sophia tried to tie into her study of the Eastern Hemisphere. It is supposed to cook in a special pot on the stove, but we didn't have one so we baked it in the oven and then in the microwave instead. It took much longer to cook and get the eggs to be firm and water to evaporate.

We've never made egg casserole with zucchini so this was an interesting difference - and healthier - change from other egg bakes that we've made. There were also scallion, red pepper, and onion in the egg casserole. The flavor was very good, and we enjoyed the egg casserole for breakfast.

- Write in my nature journal at least once a week.

I did a back-entry for January 8th about a walk I took with Gretel and Montague. This was important for me to do because Gretel died unexpectedly on January 12th from (most likely) a heart attack. She would have been five years old on January 23rd.

It was the last walk we took together, and it was such a wonderful one. She had a great time exploring a new trail - running eagerly from side to side of the trail and sniffing new scents. Her enthusiasm and excitement during the walk never waned. It was a walk I will always fondly remember.

I also wrote in my journal on January 15th about bird migration. Sophia, Olivia, and I watched Winged Migration as well as read  How Do Birds Find their Way. We each wrote and illustrated things that we found interesting about bird migration.

I now have three entries in my nature journal for January, so I am right on schedule with this goal.

- Continue keeping some form of a daily/weekly journal.

I have continued to write two pages each day in my Artist's Way journal. This has been very helpful to do given that it was the one year anniversary of my father's death on January 5th and Gretel died on January 12th. Lots of things to process and think about...and writing helps me clear my mind so I can focus on other things during the day.

- Grow African violets. Get first one on the anniversary of Dad’s death.

I completed this goal during the first week of January; and have been enjoying caring for the three African violet plants.

2. Do 4 interesting and/or memorable homeschooling activities this month that aren't part of the core curriculum.

=> See the Terracotta Warriors exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. 

During the second week of January, Sophia, Olivia, and I went to see the Terracotta Warriors exhibit. I wrote about that last week. (Please go HERE to see pictures from the exhibit.)

=> Watch one movie from the American Film Institute's Top 100 Funny Movies.

I ended up watching this movie by myself. I think this goal is a more personal one versus a homeschooling one. So I have changed this goal with another one (listed below).

I enjoyed this movie (which was in black and white); and laughing throughout it. I needed to watch something funny after a particularly difficult weekend.

=> Watch one movie that has received an Academy Award for Best Picture.

I am still waiting to receive this movie from the library. It is coming from a library from outside the county in which I live, so it is taking a bit longer than normal.

As with Some Like It Hot, I think this is more of a personal goal versus homeschooling goal. I rather focus on active, hands-on activities that are more memorable for the girls versus a passive activity (like watching a movie). Therefore, I added another activity below in replacement for this one.

=> Visit the ice castle at Mall of America.

We visited the ice castle at the Mall of America today - January 18th - for Olivia's 10th birthday.

The sun behind some thin clouds 
with the ice castle below it.

This is something that she wanted to do this month, and we couldn't have asked for a better day to see the ice castle.

Sophia and Olivia by one of the ice sculptures.

It was a beautiful, warm day outside (39 degrees); and was wonderful for spending time outdoors to explore the ice castle.

The girls are sitting in a miniature ice cave.

We learned about how the sun affects the colors of the ice and how the different shades of blue and aqua in the ice are a result of the sun on various thicknesses of ice.

Looking up towards the sky.

It was fun to go through the different passageways and see the ice formations tower over our heads.

Sophia and Olivia in one of the passageways.

Although the ice castle wasn't a "castle" in the sense that one may envision a castle, it nonetheless was a very interesting trip and fascinating to see the way water freezes and melts to create unique sculptures.

A wall of ice.

While we were at the Mall of America, the girls went on a couple of rides, checked out the new doll of the year at the American Girl store, and had lunch.

That's a big hot air balloon for a doll.
Saige - the new American Girl doll of the year - is in the basket.

We also stopped by the Lego store so they could take a look at the giant Lego sculptures as well as the wall of Legos.

The girls standing by the wall of Legos.
You can reach in each bin and take as many as you want.

 => Visit Richardson Nature Center. 

We went to the nature center on January 18th since Olivia enjoys wildlife and it is her birthday.

Olivia by a tank with two turtles in it.

We enjoyed seeing the snakes, turtles, toad, barred owl, and red-tailed hawk. We sat in room that had a wall of windows that overlooked many feeders and feeders. There were so many birds and squirrels that we watched while we sat in the chairs there.

A woodpecker was one of the many birds 
that we saw at the nature center.

=> Go swimming in an indoor pool.

Both the girls enjoy swimming, and with the weather so cold outside indoor pools are the only place in Minnesota where they can swim at this time of the year. We'll be going swimming on January 19th.

3. Volunteer with seniors twice during January.

The care center where we will be volunteering had an isolation in force during the first half of January. There was a flu outbreak there, and so they were restricting the number of visitors and volunteers during this time period.

I talked with the Volunteer Coordinator after the isolation was lifted, and we are set up to volunteer twice during February - the 9th and 16th - doing baking one day and painting on another.

The remaining two Saturdays in January are booked for us, so we are unable to volunteer this month. Trying to volunteer during the week - at this point - may be a possibility...but it would be a last-minute decision based on everyone's energy level and schedule.

So, in lieu of actually volunteering with seniors, we will be planning our two sessions in February.

Also, we will make some table and/or window decorations for the 9th.

Origami and Felt Valentine's Day Boats
Origami boats with felt sails that are filled with candy hearts.
These table decorations I made back in 2008.
We may make some to bring to the care center on the 9th.

We are doing a pre-Valentine's Day theme on February 9th, so all the decorations will be pink and red.

New Window Star
Red and pink window star that I made for Valentine's Day 2012.
I'm thinking of making window stars in a variety of patterns 
for the care center.

We also will be determining what painting projects we'll be doing on the 16th. We will create examples to show the seniors so they can choose what they want to do that day.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Wabibito - E-Magazine Review

I'm always looking for new ideas for activities to do with Sophia and Olivia. So, when Ruth, from A Woven Education and creator/publisher of Wabibito, asked me to take a look at her new e-magazine, I was more than happy to do so.

Ruth is a teacher who is currently at home with my two children. She has started publishing an e-magazine to inspire parents and educators to enrich children's education with nature. Each edition of Wabibito has a variety of seasonal activities for a variety of age ranges - from making a portable lightbox for evening hikes, to using acorns as a natural dye.

"With seasonal recipes, a story, and reading list I hope that it will be a rich resource for people wanting to 'get outside and explore' with their children. I am inspired by the education philosophies of Reggio Emilia and Waldorf traditions and these certainly have influenced my writing," Ruth shared.

The first e-magazine is a mini-edition that is focused on fall activities.

Image from Wabibito's mini-edition.

Some of the many wonderful activities featured in the mini-edition include:

* Exploring paper
* Making a nature identification book
* Dyeing with acorns
* Creating a seasonal bookshelf
* Being creative with land art
* Making easy fall snacks
* Sharing a traditional folk tale with children
* Learning how to do little yogi stretches

I look forward to summer and fall when Sophia, Olivia, and I can make the nature identification book. Not only will it be a helpful resource, but a beautiful nature book to enjoy for years to come.

The Wabibito mini-edition is available for free downloading by going here.

I also was given an opportunity to take a look at the first edition of Wabibito. It is a delightful and idea-packet e-book filled with a variety of different ways to explore light.

Image from Wabibito's first edition focused on light.

Some of the highlights from the first edition of Wabibito include:

* Making a transportable lightbox for evening hikes
* Creating wax luminaries
* Making tin can lanterns
* Putting on a shadow puppet show
* Making winter cooking treats
* Sharing a seasonal story with children

At a local Waldorf school's holiday event in November 2011 and 2012, the girls each had an opportunity to make beeswax luminaries.

Re-Dipping the Luminary
Above: Olivia creating a beeswax luminary.
Below: Sophia dipping her balloon into beeswax to create a luminary.
Finishing the Luminary

Reading through the directions on Wabibito, it details the process perfectly for those who have not made a luminary yet. These wonderful-smelling beeswax luminaries are fun for families to make together; and well worth the effort.

We tried the recipe for oatmeal scones in Wabibito; and they were delicious. Using honey from bees we had on the farm here, it was a filling and healthy breakfast one morning.

Once the weather warms up a bit and the ground is no longer covered with snow, we are interested in making the lightbox that is featured in Wabibito. It seems like taking a lightbox along on some of our nature walks would add a different dimension to what we see.

The stories that are included with both the mini-edition and first edition were engaging and entertaining for my daughters.

The reading lists in both editions, likewise, are comprehensive and have a delightful selection of recommended books that complement the theme of each e-magazine.

Wabibito is a great investment. For only $4, you will receive an e-magazine that is filled with beautiful images and ideas to sustain you and your family through this season. To purchase the first edition of Wabibito, please go here.

Disclaimer: Although I received a complimentary Wabibito e-magazine in exchange for a review, my positive opinions are all honest ones. I only recommend products or services that I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Artist/Picture Study - Wolf Kahn

One of the artists that Sophia and Olivia studied this year is Wolf Kahn who is a German-born American painter. He is known for his combination of realism and color field; and known to work in pastel and oil paint.

Wolf Kahn

Born in Stuttgart in 1927, Wolf Kahn fled Germany at age 12 and moved to the United States in 1940. After attending the High School of Music and Art in New York City, he continued his studies at the Hans Hofmann School, becoming Hofmann’s studio assistant. His native tongue was an advantage in Hofmann’s classroom because he could translate the teachers’ signature mix of English and German for other students.

After over two years of training under Hofmann, Kahn relocated to Chicago where he attended the University of Chicago and received a Bachelor's Degree.

Influenced by Hofmann’s practice of using nature as the starting point for a painting, Kahn’s work includes both pictorial landscape and abstraction. Converging light and color to create sensual and atmospheric  pictorial fields, his paintings evoke the ethereal world of nature even when they are non-representational.

Although Kahn's work is a departure in temperament from Hofmann’s “explosive” compositions, his paintings reflect many of Hofmann’s principles of chromatic movement and tension. Often juxtaposing saturated pinks, magentas, and oranges with cool, muted pastels, Kahn's balanced work easily transports the viewer into his tranquil world.


The six pictures that the girls studied are below. Each looked at the picture for a period of time, and then shared with me what they remembered most about the picture. Their comments, likewise, are below.

Barn with Conveyor

Sophia remembered:
=> It was a barn and house; and it had a conveyor belt to bring down hay.
=> Off to the side there was a tiny grove of trees.
=> The sky was a deep blue - almost purplish.
=> There were quite a few windows.
=> There were so many colors. I counted about ten different colors: red, blue, orange, purple, white, green, black, gray, and pink...and lots of different shades with those colors. It was cool he could mix all those shades.
=> The barn home was long and there was a part of it that stuck out.
=> There was a house attached to it.
=> There weren't any people or animals, but you could tell it was a farm house.

Olivia remembered:
=> There was a barn that was not a normal color. It was more like a pale yellow.
=> The conveyor belt - toward the top - looked black on the sides.
=> To the left there was a clump of trees, like a forest.
=> To the right, there was a W and a Kahn - or maybe his initials.
=> The grass was green with brown added to it so it looked like dirt.
=> The sky was a dark blue - a very pretty vivid blue.
=> There is a weird thing to the left like a  wheel, but it was wider than a wheel.



Sophia remembered:
=> There's a boulder in the middle of the forest.
=> There are a bunch of trees around it.
=> The trees around it are so tall you can can't see the top of them. 
=> There aren't any leaves on the trees.
=> Behind the boulder and further in the forest there are trees that aren't as tall. They have beautiful golden yellow leaves.
=> The sky is a blueish color with white clouds in it.
=> In front of the boulder there's a tree that fell over and it is leaning on other trees.

Olivia remembered:
=> There's a big gigantic boulder in the middle of the forest.
=> A few feet away, there looks like a gigantic clearing.
=> The picture has lots of colors in it: yellow, blue, purple, green ,white, and different shades of those colors.
=> The forest is big, has lots of trees, and one tree looks like it is tilted.
=> The sky was blue and it looked like it was about to rain. It has a dark cloud.
=> The ground was green and had lots of leaves on it.
=> The leaves were yellow and brown.


Chimayo - Houses with a Metal Roof

Sophia remembered:
=> There was a house attached to a longer part.
=> It was a yellow masonry color.
=> The sky was a really deep dark blue. But even though it was nighttime, it was all lit up like it was the middle of the day.
=> On the house there were three windows and two scrawny trees outside.
=> There was a brown shack on the left side of the house. There were lots of colors on the side of the shack.
=> In between the two trees, there was a green hat - like a stovepipe hat that Abraham Lincoln wore, except shorter and green.
=> Next to one of the windows it looked like there was a goose.
=> The sky wasn't completely blue. On the left-hand side there were parts that it looked like he didn't there were white scribbles.

Olivia remembered:
=> The house had a white metal roof and two windows.
=> There's a door by a shrub.
=> There's a big tank like we have in the horse pasture. 
=> There's a tree that was split in half so it looks like a gigantic bird wing.
=> The sky is a dark blue which is pretty.
=> The house is yellow.
=> It looked like there was a big thing to carry down or bring up the hay.
=> The ground was greenish...more white, actually.
=> There was a barn. It was brown and it looked like nothing was in there.


Pines and Violet

Sophia remembered:
=> There were 16 trees in the picture.
=> There were a lot of colors that were layered: yellow, purple, brownish color, more purple, faded into pink, blue, purple, and the sky color.
=> On the right side of the tree trunks, there was light - like the sun was setting.
=> The trunks were all different shapes and sizes.
=> On one trunk, there was a red on it on the left side.
=> The texture looks soft and dreamy.
=> I couldn't see the sky - just that it was blue and that there were some clouds.
=> At the bottom of the picture was Wolf Kahn's name.

Olivia remembered:
=> Behind the trees, it looked like there were more trees, but the colors were purple and pink.
=> The ground was yellow, green, and purple.
=> The trees were very tall and didn't have many green leaves on them.
=> The sky was blue, but it had a few white clouds that you really couldn't see.
=> There was a little bit of detail.
=> You couldn't really see the top of the trees.


Toward the Open Sea

Sophia remembered:
=> It's a picture of an open sea.
=> The colors of the land are deep, vibrant, and dark colors.
=> The colors of the sky out to sea are a dreamy, pale blue.
=> In the middle of the picture, there is a strip of sand that is black - it's obsidian or volcanic rock.
=> On the right hand side, it is higher and then lower and then leads down to the water.
=> There is a lot of dark green on the land. There's even a bush on it.
=> It's not too detailed, but you can tell what it is. It's kind of pretty.

Olivia remembered:
=> I saw a blue lake.
=> Further out, there were light patches - light blue.
=> Way further out, it was white.
=> There were black spots on the land - probably trees.
=> There were rocks by the shore and a few scraggly trees.
=> The colors of the shore were brown and apple green.
=> The grass was green.
=> The sky was pale blue.


Shacks at Shatley Springs, North Carolina

Sophia remembered:
=> There are three houses and all have porches on them.
=> In the very front of the picture, there was a part of the stream.
=> In between houses #2 and #3, there was a spreading tree that looked like an oak tree.
=> The sky was a pale, dreamy blue with white curling around it.
=> The houses were brownish and were on stilts.
=> Nobody was out and there were no animals, but it still looked cozy.
=> It looked to be in the middle of the day or mid-morning or mid-afternoon.

Olivia remembered:
=> There was a house with black windows. It looked like it was abandoned.
=> The trees were purple, black, and a very dark pink.
=> The grass was green, but it had some brown spots.
=> The barn was attached to an area with a balcony.
=> The trees were very tall and black.
=> The trees looked rough.
=> The barn was blue.
=> The sky had many clouds and it looked like it was going to storm because there were so many clouds in it.
=> The house and barn were standing on stilts.
=>  It was dark under the house and barn where the stilts were.