Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"What Catches the Eye Inspires the Hand"

"What catches the eye inspires the hand." (unknown)

This is a quote that I came across somewhere many years ago and it has had a profound impact on my approach and level of perception in daily life. We are in a chaotic whirlwind right now, trying to get ready for a trip and a big fall show. I have to be in my friend's wedding this weekend and then the very next weekend we have our biggest show and sale of the year Festival in the Park in Charlotte, NC. So that means we are going to be out of town for more than a week. I have been working late into the night lately trying to get enough pottery made for the show and to fill all the orders for the galleries and shops. I didn't even really try to start school off this week because we are leaving mid week. The flow and routine are definitely interrupted this week. So I cleared off the chalkboard last night and drew this picture and quote. I introduced some cursive writing to Cammy last week and she loved it and has been trying to read it wherever we see it so I wrote the quote in cursive. It made her so proud that she could read the cursive writing. The eye is a very powerful symbol in a lot of my art. In this picture the eye contains a heart for the pupil symbolizing the love that I have for all that I see around me good or bad, ugly or beautiful we have something to gain from it all. Around the eye I subtly introduced the roman numerals (Cammy has come across them several times recently and asked what they stand for and seems to understand some simple addition concepts with them) we are also working with time. Inside the eye I drew the mountains because that is where we are going on our journey. Under the eye I traced my husband's hands and mine as trees of knowledge losing their leaves for the upcoming fall. Cammy is really interested in finding purple leaves and wants to prove that a fall leaf can be purple. We did end up doing schooly stuff this week we always do around here sometimes without even trying. Monday we watched the nature documentary Earth by Disney.We also went on a nature walk each has become a very good habit. Cammy insisted on checking on the crab apple tree up the street (she thinks the apples are going to be ready every day we visit it). I find that if I don't come up with an assignment for Cammy she becomes bored easily and asks if she can do at least three workbook pages. She is so hungry for knowledge. I only hope that I can help to teach her to observe and to keep her eyes and heart open to what every encounter or experience has to offer as inspiration. No matter how insignificant something seems at the time it can lead the mind or the hands to broader matters like a chain reaction. I often find that when I am in the studio and I am supposed to be making a specific soap dish the images of my day will inspire my hands to work in a different direction. I see this tendency in Cammy as well. She can become so excited about something and spout off these grand project ideas that are often out of reach in their entirety but I try to find something to pull from that is attainable and that we can make happen or try to do. I try to let her row her own boat to a certain extent and go with the currents of her creative mind. So far it has taught me a lot about the development of ideas and how to help them grow into fruition. I am loving homeschooling so far.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Grand Procession of Peculiar Pets and People

This past weekend was the parade that we had been awaiting for weeks. The Grand Procession of Peculiar Pets and People. Cammy and Karma and I all marched in the parade in full costume. In the weeks leading up to the parade several costume making parties were hosted around the city to encourage people to come out and get creative making their own peculiar pet costumes. All the materials were donated and supplied and people were encouraged to donate anything they might not want for others to use. A local artist here in Wilmington, NC named Dixon Settler was one of the lead coordinators of the event which took place on the same day as the Arts and Antiques walk downtown. It was a busy day for us....I was set up at the festival selling my pottery, my husband Mark had to play music on the kids stage for a while and we marched in the parade. Whew! But it was a whole lot of fun!!! The image above was the giant dragon kite that led the procession. It took at least six people to carry the kite through the street. What followed was quite a site.

There were pets of all kinds...cute and adorable butterflies.
Unidentified creatures from who knows where.

Jellyfish on stilts.
Menacing furry infants

Bald bunnies!
Sweaty suspicious looking ducks

This little elephant was my favorite (besides my daughter) how cute is this!
Dragonflies on stilts eating giant worms

Here is Cammy in her cheetah costume that she made the end of the parade she was saying that her face was melting off.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Second Week

Second Week in review: OK! so here it is Monday night and I am just now finishing my week in review. I never really knew we would be doing so much learning everyday around here. It's at times chaotic, occasionally peaceful (when Karma is napping), often entertaining especially on days when Dad is home, always full of creativity here at the Muddy Schoolhouse. This was one of the weekends when my husband Mark goes out of town to sell my pottery at several shows. That means I'm playing catch up for a few days. I don't get much time in the studio when he's gone. Karma is a goat....she will put anything in her mouth. There is hardly a day that we don't have to rescue something from her the studio is off limits to the baby for now. I started writing this sometime last week and couldn't find the time to finish it until tonight.

Monday:I have a mild cold right now and am feeling like laying back down but I don't want to throw everyones rhythm off this early in the newly established's going beautifully. It was rainy this morning so we couldn't go for our morning walk around the triangle.
We baked homemade biscuits this morning. It took a good amount of measuring practice and we discussed the fractions associated with 1 cup and all the different ways to get to 1 cup. After breakfast we read our new poem on the chalkboard about the Fuzzy Wuzzy Caterpillar and Cammy copied it down into her journal. I got out the rubber stampers and she created a picture doing Ed Emberly style fingerprint caterpillars along with all sorts of other rubber stamp additions. We worked on geography in the Maps Globes and Graphs workbook. Worked on mapping with just shapes and colors to keep it simple. Worked on making a calendar for the start of the new month on Tuesday. Talked about capitalization rules for months and days and did a worksheet. Did some work on ABC order and also sequencing events and numbers.

I had to go to town this morning to get some clay and glazes for the upcoming shows and orders. So school was on the road today. I quizzed Cammy on her spelling words from last week just out of curiosity. I did not test her last week. She has always been a strong speller ...probably better than me, Ha! She got all the words right except for one of the challenge words: neighborhood. Whenever I am in Wilmington I always have to stop at this thrift store called The Rescue Mission. Most of the time they have lots of toys and books and sometimes good kids clothes. It's the kind of thrift store where you go up with a pile of stuff and the guy says just gimme a buck mam. Gotta love it! I always walk away with a bag full of books for the kids. Cammy paid and practiced counting out her change to the man. We got back in time for me to still get to work in the studio.

We walked the block this morning and talked about drawing a map of the block or in our case triangle. We counted houses and observed which side of the street they were on. Cammy drew a map of the triangle when we got back. We read The Secret Shortcut by Mark Teague because our triangle has a secret shortcut through the woods. Cammy hesitated to include the shortcut on the map because she didn't want anyone else to know about the path. Worked in our People and Places workbook in the chapter about neighborhoods. I had Cammy do a review page about finding things on calendars and she did a workbook page about whether or not to capitalize the names of the seasons.
We ate caterpillar snacks made of grapes(cut in half), raisins, pretzels, bananas, cheerios, puffs and honey.Mark did some music and movement with the girls when he got home from work. I could hear them on the baby monitor from the studio, I just wish I could have seen them.

It was a very nice cool morning. One of the first of many to come in fall. I can't wait. Cammy needed to get out some energy and I needed a good walk with Karma so we visited Jubilie today. Cammy rode her bike all the way there. Her confidence is building slowly. She fell right when we got to their driveway but didn't cry a bit. She was so proud of herself. On our way back we discovered that an army of fuzzy caterpillars had consumed half the grape vine overnight. So we started a caterpillar poem book when we got back. Cammy wrote a poem with one line for each letter of the word caterpillar. We did a little grid based mapping math work today. Cammy became a card carrying member of the library in town today. She was so happy:).She was only allowed to check out three books on her first visit. I was allowed to check out 24 books because I was already a member. She kept handing me books because she didn't want to waste her three....hers had to be the most special books of all that she found. She did great! She was choosing books on her own about what we are studying right now.

Friday:Ok! We are missing my husband Mark already but are trying to forge ahead on schedule.
We tried to go for a bike ride again today....Cammy's confidence of yesterday is completely gone. Before we could even get around the curve she was scared stiff, crying and unable to get off her bike. We had to walk it back to the house. Where did it go( the confidence of yesterday)? She pulled herself right out of her downward spiral by turning on the funny Cammy and rapped about her baby sister Karma the whole way home.
"Karma is my sister yeah that's her name and saying goo goo gaa gaa that's her game and it's gonna put her in the hall of fame. Yeah Karma is my sister and that's a tongue twister. " That was all I could changes every time she sings it for someone. She said on the way home that she wanted to be a rapper now and could someone be a rapper and a teacher. "Of course! Look at Daddy."
I recently brought down all of the play scarves from Cammy's dress up basket in her closet to a large basket in the living room. They have been the center of many hours of play as of late.So when we got back to the house I decided it was the right time to do some fun yoga I had been planning. Earlier this week we read Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar. We have been talking about the life cycle of the butterfly this week. We got out the colored mats when we got back. I had asked Cammy to curl up like an egg on the green mat.She went straight for the yellow mat wanting to be on a bright sunny flower instead. So I took the leaf and we sat curled like caterpillar eggs and rested. Then we hatched and stretched out on our bellies and became caterpillars wiggling across the floor eating our way through leaves and flowers (scarves and pillows). Then we wrapped ourselves up in scarves (Cammy folded herself up in the mat like a burrito) like we were forming a cocoon. Three weeks later (three long breaths later ) we unfurled our beautiful butterfly wings (scarves). I want to help Cammy plan a butterfly play to perform for her relatives and maybe the daycare up the street or the schools that Mark teaches at each week. I would like her to do this yoga as part of the performance while I read The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
We talked about symmetry vs. asymmetry today and Cammy colored a symmetrical butterfly. While she colored her butterfly I read the See How They Grow Butterfly book. All this talk of symmetry led me to my book The Reasons For The Seasons published by Little Brown Books. It has a lesson about feathers and symmetry. We examined our vulture or hawk feather closely and tried to figure out what part of the bird it fell from. We think it is from the mid wing area because of it's rounded tip. I let this lead us into a form drawing lesson that I just hadn't found the right time to introduce until now. We talked about how to use a feather for a quill pen and cut the tip off at an angle and got out the india ink and a small glass jar and I let Cammy do her form drawing lesson with her newly crafted quill pen. As she experimented with the forms she gravitated toward drawing bunny faces focusing on the circle. But upon closer examination she managed to design her bunny faces to incorporate all three of the forms we had just learned although she only talked about the circle. Cammy wanted to know more about writing with quill pens so we talked about the history of writing. let this lead us into a form drawing lesson that I just hadn't found the right time to introduce until now. Cammy really struggles with keeping her handwriting under control. I am really loving the way Waldorf introduces forms and letters and I wish Cammy had been introduced to it that way. However she was not....but I can certainly take the time now to reinforce what she does know with a deeper understanding of the forms that inhabit our world and our writing. Today was the first time I tried form drawing with Cammy. I introduced a circle : refering to the circle as symbolic of a hug or embrace, of a sense of being united like a community around you, of a the earth round and big, of being like an eyeball, etc. I also took the time to reference all of the letters that required the use of this form. This excited Cammy and she started shouting them out faster than I could write them on the chalkboard. I know I probably should have stopped at this one form for the day but I went ahead and taught her the other two that have been on the board since last week when we started this adventure. The others were a plus sign: symbolic of a crossroads or a compass since we are studying mapping and geography. The arrow was the last sign that I introduced. It was again introduced because of our unit study topic. Later in the day I referenced a book called Letterbox which is about the history of writing. Cammy was fascinated with this topic and that they used to write in clay and she laughed and said "What if? Mom- our whole table was covered in clay and we had to do our schoolwork and it got stuck in the clay?" All I could do for a minute was laugh. When we went back outside later in the day I showed her how to write with burnt sticks that had turned to charcoal. She loved this drawing for almost an hour....all the forms we had been working on.
We rented a movie today for our weekend without Dad. Cammy picked out Around The World in 80 Days with Jackie Chan saying it to the lady at checkout "We are studying about geography at home because my mom teaches me, we homeschool"

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The revenge of the caterpillars

OK! So the word must have gotten out that we ate caterpillars yesterday (grape and raisin ones) because when we went outside today a whole army of fuzzy little caterpillars were devouring my grapevine leaf by leaf. Justice served up caterpillar style.

Cammy thinks that the boys and the girls must be different colors...honestly I'm not sure. We are going to have to look this one up. Good thing we went to the library today and checked out every book I could find on butterflies and other creepy crawly insects.
Funny thing is this little guy looks just like he jumped right off the chalkboard inside...same stripes and everything.
Since the caterpillars seem to be dominating the scene we made a caterpillar poem book today. I had Cammy cut eleven large circles (about the size of a CD) in all different colors of construction paper, one for each letter of the word caterpillar. Then she wrote one line starting with each letter of the word caterpillar.
C-Caterpillars are cute.
A- A caterpillar is always eating leaves.
T-They turn into butterflies.
E-Evan is the name of my pet caterpillar.
R-Rose is my pet butterfly.
P-Pet butterflies are fun.
I-I love butterflies.
L-Love is what I have for butterflies.
L-Larvae is what a baby caterpillar is called.
A- A butterfly is pretty.
R-Rose is a pink butterfly.

It took her quite a while to work her way through this project and she did not have enough spirit left to copy the poem onto the circles. She still struggles quite a bit with her handwriting. I am wanting to introduce the Waldorf form drawing into lessons to help her get a better grasp on forming letters but don't quite know how to integrate it smoothly. I can usually wing things but I feel like I need a book on this one.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

We ate caterpillars today!

At the start of the week I was at a loss as to what to put on the chalkboard this week but then I found this little poem in one of our Kindermuzik handouts. It has fit with our continuing study of butterflies. So keeping with our theme we found a really cute snack recipe idea in the very same handout "A Garden Flower"

Yes it's true, we ate caterpillars today but not the kind you usually think of. These caterpillars were the snack creation of Cammy herself. I set her to task on making grape and raisin caterpillars for our snack today and she went to town....full creative license. She used bananas, grapes, raisins, pretzels, goldfish, honey and puffs to create her edible caterpillars. She loved it and so did Karma and I. Yum!!!
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