Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Lady on the Bus

To the Lady on the Bus

Dear Lady on the Bus,
Thank you for proving that words are powerful and using them positively to make my day.
For sitting behind us because the little girl with you, loves babies and wanted a closer look at mine.
For, upon learning my kindergarten-age child is not in kindergarten, had only encouraging things to say, and warm fuzzies about your own years passed with your now grown sons.
I went about my day feeling a little more proud of my family than I already am, and a restored faith in the future of the world.
Because of your words.

Daily Doodle: The Coyote

The Coyote

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Sandpaper Blocks

 Sandpaper Sticky Art

This tactile activity takes two minutes prep, very low cost and is considered 'contemporary art'; a changing canvas each time it's approached.
Instead of mounting our sand paper on a cereal box, we asked Daddy to make a quick cut with his new saw through a piece of plywood, for a more permanent sandpaper board we can return to again and again.

Art & Literacy

We cut several strips of yarn at different lengths.
O worked on some abstract art, while I tried my hand at yarn cursive. It's a lovely contrast of rough and smooth; 60 grit paper and super soft yarn.
We combined them for a larger piece.

Tracing Letters. When I was teaching preschool, I prepped sandpaper numbers for finger tracing. It's the same idea as above, mounting sandpaper on a board or block of sorts, except I cut the paper into numbers the children could trace with their fingers. It's early prep for writing and the children love the repetition of their fingers running over the rough paper.

Sand Block Music. You can create your own instruments by (again) mounting sandpaper on board or blocks. In this case, two would be the minimum requirement so they can be rubbed together for sound effect.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

I Heart Figs

The Dot: Pointillism

"Just make a mark and see where it takes you."
We LOVE  Peter Raymond's 'The Dot'. It's simple drawings and clever text make it an easy classic. O was intent on reading it over again and then happy to set about her own dot art.

We arranged the watercolour with several Q-tips; my sorry attempt to keep colours separate ..and it worked. I invited O to make dots, as Vashti in the story created. But much like Vashti, O had her own idea of what art is, so she carried on with her creation.

And at last I invited her to "Please sign it."

Pointillism. I always look into pointillism art with awe. The famed artists make dot-making turned masterpiece look so simple! Expand your lesson with a walk through the art of Pointillism

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Before You Buy: The Beauty of the Box

 Leaving Shanghai

As the holiday season approaches, we are avoiding busy shops where the bustle screams, "BUY".
We did however, purchase an early gift for Daddy; a Ryobi saw for projects on the go.
Without realizing it at the time, it doubled as a gift for O & C, in the form of a box!

Both of them were completely giddy to find this large, clear space to call their own.
Baby C in particular, surprised us with her insistence on closing it's flaps while she giggled and lay beside her big sister!
I can clearly remember the plans that I had for boxes as a child (and how I involved my sister as my gopher for steak knives, tape and markers!)
What became of the discarded treasure in the basement was hours of good fun.
For me anyways, not sure about the gopher!

Box for Two

I refrained from involving myself in their play last night; from adding my influence to their creations.
The box transformed into a boat, a bed, a home, a stage without a single cut, mark or word from mom & dad.
I wondered how many families would buy battery-operated toys this season, in a wonderful big box!
When the toy has been played with to it's max, the empty box will never run out of value.

 Shanghai-February 2014

The beauty of the box lies in it's open-ended play.
No script, simply 100% imagination.

 Theatrical Arts

When we decided to depart from Shanghai, we also made the decision to pack up early, so we could receive our goods earlier in Canada. This meant living in a near-empty home for three months.
I worried that this would erupt in anxiety. We replaced treasured toys with empty packing boxes and the play-value somehow increased. 
I'd spent countless hours researching quality toys, building toys with my husband, all the while spending loads of money purchasing and creating.
The boxes were pennies of priceless playtime.

 Race Car Drivers

 'Where the Wild Things Are' Houseboat

Curious Passenger!

If you're ever unsure what to buy for the babes to stimulate their minds and keep them happy, remove the toy and offer the box.

Literacy Connection. We were reading Where the Wild Things Are, at the same time our shipping boxes arrived. So we re-created Max's boat for playtime. O had the chance to design, paint, 'furnish' and role-play.
She even stacked the 'boathouse' onto another box so it would have "two floors".

Canoe. I unfolded a rectangular box, sliced and taped it into a canoe. It was easy to push on the wood flooring and became a beloved fishing boat!

Ball drop. Placing an open box on it's side and cutting some ball-sized holes on the topside, turned the box into a ball drop.

35 Gifts Your Children Will Never Forget.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Happy Birthday, Cheecho!

 Happy Birthday, Cheecho!

Three times a charm; the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory is at it again.
Our third installment of Homeschool Day and still thoroughly impressed.
The theme was Happy Birthday Cheecho, in honour of their resident parrot, so the organizers continued the theme in the classroom with bird studies.

We began by examining a birds nest made from torn palm leaves, found in the conservatory and read a fabulously detailed book about types of birds nests, "Mama Built a Little Nest"
Then the children had the opportunity to build their own little nests.
O was content on using the scissors, so she prepped the nest cushioning!

Our next station was a Migration Game, which the staff includes with each visit as active body interlude!
Our guide explained that migration is often a tricky feat with obstacles such as oil spills interfering with habitat. She continued to explain that volunteers sometimes offer to clean up post oil spills and use 1) Dawn dish soap to remove oil from birds and 2) nylons full of hair to absorb oil from the water.

She then split the children into teams for a Bird Food activity. Three bowls were presented on each team tray; one with water, one with bird seed, the last with a marshmellow. Then the children were given a baster, a clothespeg and a fork. The challenge was to determine which tool was best for each type of food.
The guide then explained that a baster works like a hummingbirds beak, the clothespeg can grasp objects like a parrots beak and the fork could tear apart food like a vultures beak.

At last the children were invited to become Naturalists; scientists who learn by observing nature and end our activities in the Butterfly Conservatory. Each given a DIY cardboard clipboard and a list of birds present in the conservatory alongside a picture of them. Children were to take time to observe the bird, learning about where they like to hang out, what they like to eat etc. The younger children were given a worksheet with a simple checklist of things to look for.

 Ladybird Handling

There were multiple reminders from the organizers to please not touch the butterflies. In our first segment in September, the children were taught how to hold a butterfly before tagging and sending them off for migration. However improper handling can lead to issues, so the children were reminded not to touch and parents asked to enforce this rule.
O was very careful to hold her arm out to encourage the butterflies to hop on! She was very happy to notice a ladybug who was free for grabbing!
Cheecho the parrot made an appearance and another staff member brought out large beetles for the children to hold.

O's well-insulated Nest

The children each went home with their own nest, which we happily added to our budding collection.

Friend's Nest

The program is suitable for a range of ages and the conservatory recognizes that baby siblings are welcome for no extra charge, as well as one teaching parent. The total cost for the 2-hour program comes to $8 very well spent.

Altogether, the staff is very informative, obviously keen nature enthusiasts who love their work and extremely supportive of the children's curiosity and interest in their surroundings!

Parenting Picks: Concoction Cakes


We're setting up Creative Spaces in our home, that invite our children (and ourselves) to tinker.
The kitchen is a tinkering environment without much adjusting; loads of little tools and ingredients for concocting.
I credit my parents for their ability to allow me to tinker in the kitchen, despite toast on fire, literally.
Combined with Rachael Doorley's tinker-encouraging (her Tinkerlab link is listed to the right, under Love Play Learn), I invited O to create a kitchen concoction today.

 No measuring required

Since she observes how infrequently her mother uses measuring cups, she didn't include this in her experiment. She started with ever-forgiving pancakes, mixing a dry bowl and wet bowl separately. 
The recipe would have been challenging to record (though to EXPAND the experiment, a record would be a possibility).
In dry bowl combine...
~huge mountain of flour
~small anthill of corn flour (Meseca)
~pinch of each, salt, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon
In wet bowl combine....
~river of rice milk
~tablespoon (minus a lick) of molasses

Desperate to make a sensory experience, she insisted on getting her hands dirty.

The mixture was too dry so she decided more milk was in order.
When she ran out of milk, she subbed in applesauce.

 Golden & Fluffy
Ultimately, the pancakes were a huge hit.
She ate the whole batch!

Tinkerlab. I've been following Rachael Doorley on her Tinkerlab site for a few years. She is at the top of my Blog List...and now she has a book! I read it in one sitting and continue to be inspired by her simple creative prompts. She includes arts, crafts, technology, woodwork and outdoor play. 
Pure genius!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Don't Let Me Rush You

Don't let me rush you.
In a world where there is not enough time, I hope you feel there is all the time in the world.
We have consciously created a lifestyle that gifts you moments unending.
Curious minds and hungry hands, explore what you need to.
I am not the judge of what you should learn. Who you should be.
You have so much to teach.
It would be foolish to pretend it's the other way round.

Don't let me rush you.
You are ever a work-in-progress, evolving, discovering.
The process is what makes your life a story.

Friday, November 14, 2014

SHHH We have a plan!

 "Hello Birdie"
Slightly obsessed with the ever popular author, Chris Haughton.
I love his use of colour and simple shapes so much, it's becoming inspiration for paint around the home!

When we read the trendy, 'Little Owl Lost', both Baby C and O wanted it read ten times over.
It was quickly put on the Christmas Book List before returning it to the library and picking up more titles by Haughton!

 SHHH We have a plan!

As I obsess over the imagery and colour, Baby C points out the bright birdie in each picture while O laughs at the three thieves falling at every attempt to capture the innocent!
We put together a felt version of the Birdie flying away and hide it around the house, so Baby C can hunt for it!