Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I just love fall!

I recently found this beautiful fall leaf when the girls were out for our daily nature hike. It had the most beautiful heart pattern in it. I had to take some pictures because I knew the colors wouldn't last if we pressed it (They didn't we tried). It made me look for heart patterns in leaves and nature all around us for weeks after we found it. Cammy loved spotting all the heart shaped things from cracks in the pavement to different leaves and rocks. I have long been a collector of heart shaped rocks and shells that I find when I'm walking outside. I keep then in a bowl for the girls to feel. Cammy made the bowl for me. It is amazing how abundant the universally accepted symbol of love is in our everyday life. I walk past it everyday not always truly feeling the appreciation and awe I have for mother nature and her wonders. All of this reminded me of a poem I had come across called Leaves by Frank Asch. I usually start off our week with a new poem and illustration on the chalkboard every week. Cammy then copies the poem into her workbook and illustrates it herself. I shied away from this poem at first because I felt that it was a little too long for Cammy to have to copy down and illustrate. I gave her a shorter poem but read this one to her out loud this week. It is now starting to get cold once in a while as winter is almost here and the leaves are almost all gone except for a few remaining golden and ruby gems tucked in here or there.

"My green leaves are more beautiful
than your white clouds,"
said the maple to the sky.
"That's a lie," said the sky.
"At sunset my pinks and purples
make me more beautiful than you."
The maple was angry and
for the first time being just green
made it feel blue.
"Let's ask Mother Earth for a favor,"
said the maple to the pine.
"Go ahead," said the pine tree."
"The way I am is just fine with me."
"Mother Earth," said the maple,"
"make my leaves more beautiful
than the sky at sunset."
"You will regret that request,"
said Mother Earth.
"No, I will not," said the maple.
"Believe me I can feel it in my sap."
"Then it is done, " said Mother Earth.
"Now leave me alone to take my winter nap."
Day by day the leaves of the maple
turned yellow and orange and red.
And the compliments he got
from the animals of the forest
went straight to his head.
Now the sky was jealous
and sent down a breeze
to steal the maple leaves.
"Dance with me," said the sky,
"and fall where you please."
"You are mean, " said the maple
and shook it's bare branches at the sky.
"Let it be a lesson to you," replied the sky.
"There is no one more beautiful than I."

I highly recommend this book of poetry. Our family reads from it all year long because it it organized. This is where I found this beautiful poem by Frank Asch.

Paper Chain Story

Cammy has been begging to learn how to make paper chain dolls. She still has a hard time cutting well with scissors and gets frustrated easily but is getting better. I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to help her hone her skills and tell a story at the same time. We have been engrossed with our study of Native Americans and pilgrims for the past two weeks. I came across a book by Jean Stangl titled Paper Stories. It has a lot of really cute stories to tell and paper patterns to go along with them. I chose one about Indian maidens and adapted the story to fit what we are studying a little better. Here is the story I told.

One day a young Indian girl named Pocahontas was playing in the woods near the sea shore when she saw a strange sight on the horizon of the water. There was a dark shape coming towards land. It was an English ship with strange people on board. They came to shore and immediately she wanted to meet these strangers but she thought that her father Chief Powhatan might be angry with her for this. She didn't know if these new people with their light skin and hair on their faces would hurt her so she ran through the woods as fast as she could to tell her father the chief what had seen.

Chief Powhatan was glad to see his daughter come back to the village...she told him of the new visitors by the shore with the white skin and clothes all over their bodies. Chief Powhatan told Pocahontas how brave she had been and sent several Indian scouts to check out these new people and greet them. They returned with an Englishman named John Smith. They did not speak each others language but tried to communicate the best that they could. John Smith could see that there were many Indians in the village so he asked Chief Powhatan how many children there were. The Chief said that there were many but did not know how to tell John Smith a number in his language. John Smith said do you have one child? two children? three children? All the Chief could say was we have many....so he got out a piece of animal hide and folded it up and made a few cuts. When he unfolded it to reveal how many John Smith counted out loud so that the Indian chief could learn and understand in his language.

*This story can be simplified or changed to suit whatever your needs and is a great way to teach basic counting skills. We had a lot of fun afterward reading and singing along to a book we have called One Little , Two Little, Three Little Pilgrims by B.G. Hennessy

This is how you make it:

The first thing you need to do is get two pieces of paper that are about 6" x 20" for each character you want to cut out. We used brown paper grocery bags and just cut them at the glued seam and trimmed them to the size we wanted. I use them for a lot of our craft projects: they are thick and strong enough to take paint and best of all they are free. Fold the paper into 2" accordion folds and trace or draw half of a figure for the character you want in your story. We drew a Native American girl (Pocahontas) and a pilgrim boy for our story plot. Make sure the arms go all the way to the edge of the fold. Cammy had a hard time understanding why this was necessary at first until I showed her what would happen if you cut the edge of the fold all the way off ...all the figures fall apart. Make sure you cut the feather and fringe lines on the Native American girl. As you tell the story cut the figures out and at the end slowly unfold and have the children help you count along.

Cammy drew and cut out the pilgrim boy and colored all of the figures when we were through telling the story.

The paper grocery bags are stiff enough that they can even stand up on their own when you cut the figures out. We pretended the Indian girls were dancing around a fire.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Snack time

We have been having a lot of fun lately with snack time. I have been letting Cammy prepare snacks for everyone in old ice cube trays. She loves it! I usually let her choose what to put in them for the day with a few suggestions. She usually makes one with goldfish and raisins, one with pretzels and mustard, one with cut up bananas. Other good options we have tried recently are carrots and celery with ranch to dip at the ends and animal crackers with yogurt.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Mushroom houses

Take a look at these mushroom houses that we found under the weeping willow tree in our front yard. How cute is that...little windows for the fairies. We have had lots of fun this fall taking walks and photographing mushrooms. When it rains here they seem to pop up within an afternoon. It amazes me how fast mushrooms can spore and populate a nice moist yard. We live near a lake and a saltwater marsh and there are always mushrooms to be found near them both. We take care to never eat any of them and we always wash our hands if we have handled any of them. We have yet to check out a book about mushrooms from the local library but it will have to be on our next visit.
Wow! Look at this nice big mushroom cap. What could we do with it?

Cammy being the fierce defender of the fairies has made it into an umbrella to keep the fairies dry. Apparently it also doubles as a magic staff of mushroom power....her imagination is limitless.

Cammy thought these mushrooms looked like hamburger buns.

I don't know much about mushrooms....but this was one of the only ones we found that had a frilly skirt under it. Hence the need for us to get to the library to check this out...after we wash our hands.
These were some of the nastiest looking mushrooms we have found to date. Someone had apparently stepped on them before we came by and they looked like rotting meat. Yuck!

And here is a closeup of one of the mushrooms with a view.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

We had a "fairy"ly good weekend indeed

Gillie Du, I think his name was....made quite an impression on Karma this weekend. He is the yuckiest fairy of them all because he picks and eats his boogers....he showed us (really did)! She has been picking her nose ever since.
He wasn't the only strange site we encountered jugglers and acrobats with swords, knives, chainsaws and fire....and oh yeah a few balls too.
This guy was amazing.
The tree man caught me offguard. I thought it was a sculpture and was about to touch it when it hugged some people right in front of me.
Cammy got to see "Mother Goose"
There were amazing artwork and crafts to see.
We had a great time at the renaissance festival. Cammy especially loved the fairy that befriended her and gave her a magic pebble. Cammy in turn gave the fairy some of the treasure that she later got from the pirates that we saw. Upon returning home she has been drawing more fairies than ever...I don't have enough paper to keep up with her need to draw sometimes. I have taken to getting our groceries in the paper bags just so that I have some kind of extra paper for art around the house. We just cut them open and turn them inside out so that you don't see the logo and voila you have a giant piece of paper to draw on and they take paint well too.
Last night we watched the new Tinkerbell movie....Cammy had earned a well deserved treat. Today she was busy trying to catch a fairy and getting quite frustrated in the process. She just couldn't understand why no fairies would come to her. She said it was obvious that she was a nice girl. I pointed out that standing in the driveway with a jar and a piece of rope to trip the fairies and trap them might not be the most welcoming sight for a fairy and that they tended to shy away from big people things anyway.....at which point she stormed off in her own little furious six year old way. Later she came out with a plan to make amends and apparently it was the water fairies birthday and she would be quite upset if Cammy didn't have a tea party with her or give her a gift. I was very busy trying to load the pottery into the kiln so she took it upon herself to mix up a fairy dust concoction as a gift. Five minutes later with lots of glitter and moonsand on the studio floor she was pleased to display a bowl full of fairydust to give to the water fairy. Who knows....maybe the water fairy will come and give her a goodnight kiss and leave a present under her pillow.
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