Saturday, January 29, 2011


"Too often we give children answers to remember rather     than problems to solve."
 ~Roger Lewin

In addition to having our lessons at home we are a part the creative learning cooperative that meets once a week.  We really love having this be a part of our school week.  This was the first week our coop met  after a long winter break.  It was my week to lead the lesson, and our preselected topic was earth's landforms. 

We start our mornings with yoga stretches and a few BrainGym exercises to turn on their brains.  Then we circle up for a discussion. 

It is funny, you can never predict how these discussions will go, but they were really into today's discussion.  Wahoo!!  We discussed the different landforms (plains, plateaus, volcanoes, mountains, grasslands, valleys, hills, islands, glaciers, etc) and identified them on the map. 

Then, they made their own maps out of clay.  I asked them to include at least four landforms on their projects.  I provided a small piece of cardboard, clay, cedar branches, and moss.
 They made the structures first and then we painted them after our lunch break with tempera paint.  They turned out so cute and were very proud of their work. 

If you are interested in making your own  you can find the air dried clay recipe at Our Little Nature Nest.  It worked great for this project!

Thursday, January 20, 2011


" About the woodlands I will go, to see the cherry hung with snow.”
                                                                                                                                     ~ A. E. Housman

Today provided another blissful snow day in the Ozark Mountains.  It snowed all morning.  We played outside in it for a while.

I walked down our path a ways, while Violet and Kalin constructed yet another snowman as the snow gently fell around us.

 The woods were ever so magical.  It is amazing to me the many nooks and crannies that the snow reaches.

The birds were at the feeders thankful for our gifts.  We made them some yummy bird treats and filled the feeders to the brim anticipating their hunger. 

This evening as I headed outside to dump our compost.  I was sure that someone had moved in across the mountain.  Where did the new porch light come from?  No, it was the amazing full moon rising over the ridge.  It was completely indescribably huge and bright and made the blanket of snow glitter like a fairy wonderland.

 I do wish that you were here to enjoy this with me.  I can put the tea kettle on, or french press.  Cocoa perhaps?  Which do you prefer?

Monday, January 10, 2011


        "Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire."
                                                                                                                               ~ William Butler Yeats

Today we woke up with the silence of a light snowfall blanketing our woods.   After a romp in the snow we headed back inside as our home was transformed into the "Magic School House."   We usually go ahead and have school on snow days so that we can take other days off during the year.

 Being a snow day, something fun was in order.  We decided to read Fancy Nancy's Favorite Fancy Words: From Accessories to Zany.

 I want to say THANK YOU JANE O'CONNOR for writing such wonderful books that have inspired so many creative and fun home school moments.  I am always looking for ways to "light the fire" of learning.  I feel that the knowledge gained from these moments is the stuff she is eager to remember, and search out after the fact.   

Here's how we made our "Fancy" Word Box:

I gave her a file box that we had hanging around and a stack of 4x6 index cards.  She went to town writing "fancy' vocabulary words on the front and their definitions on the back.

I made a set of A-Z dividers out of colorful card stock, so that she could alphabetize them.

Then she decorated the box in the true "Fancy Nancy" style.  This included lots of glitter.

I also introduced the concept of using a thesaurus.  She loved that we could take an ordinary word and turn it into a fancy and sophisticated word. 

Also for those who have their own Fancy Nancy enthusiasts, her website has a bunch of cute printables for planning your very own Fancy Nancy event.  I think that I may see a Poetry Extravaganza in our future.

Monday, January 3, 2011


Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

~Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1850

Last year I gifted Violet with a 2010 calender on New Years Day.  I selected  Becky Kelly's Enchanted Little Moments tear-off  calendar that I found at Barnes and Noble.  They always put their calendars on half price the week after Christmas.  Wahoo!!  We really enjoyed the artwork--lots of faeries and woodland creatures.  It was a great way for her to be more interested in the workings of a calendar and the pages were the perfect size to recycle into lunchbox notes.

Anyway, this year I decided to carry on the tradition. Unfortunately, there isn't a Barnes and Noble for like 200 miles around here, and it was too late to order on-line.  I perused the Internet and found a bunch of cute ones on Etsy (you should check those out).  My search continued and I ran across a free one on My Owl Barn.  Jackpot!!    It is an awesome collaboration of artists that have painted the most wonderful pictures of owls. It is also down-loadable, and printable for that instant gratification or last minute timing.

I had it printed and waiting for the first day of 2011!  She loved it.  We are both fans of owls. They are such magical creatures.  We have several barred and screech owls that live in the woods surrounding our house.  Actually, several years ago, I first became aware of our little screech owl friend while feeding our cats.  As I was rationing out the Special Kitty, this scream erupted from the woods. Kalin thought it was hilarious when I came running inside the house proclaiming that we had a panther in our front yard.  (I think the story in Little House in the Big Woods where Pa gets chased by a panther, had stuck with me. )

So, if you are an owl lover head on over to the site and print your very own copy.

Best wishes for the new year!!  Cheers!!!

****Oh yeah!  So my resolution, or well, one of them is to make more time for sewing, sketching, knitting, spinning, felting, and basically all things creative.   I am sure that I did not allow myself enough of that this year.  It is food for my soul.

One of my favorite books is Amanda Soule's Creative Family.  She stresses the importance of making  creative time for yourself and your kids, even when it seems that their are too many other things to do.  I myself have noticed when working with children that there is a certain confidence they adopt upon completing a creative project.  It gives them something they can be proud of.  It is great for adults to!!

So whats your resolution???