Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Museum Homeschooling Series: #1: Discovery

I am not going to hand you one single formula that will always work for every museum you tour. This is not about extracting every ounce of learning to be had at each and every visit. I am not always that kind of homeschooler!  I will give you examples of different ways to approach a museum visit at a new venue each time.

                                              Charles, in a typhoon-wind-velocity simulator.
Museums can be wonderful places to learn and wonder. They can be both places to discover and to spark interest in learning more. You can take it to the next level with research and a plan in hand before leaving the house, you can explore every nook and cranny together, or you can grab your knitting and let them go (for those who are old enough not to touch what must not be touched) and let the discovery be self-led.

This week's museum was our local Putnam, a science and natural history museum. We specifically went to see the traveling Pirates and Shipwrecks, an exhibit that truly had something of interest for every single age group. The approach this time, was to go and discover together. We were all given free-reign, and called each other over to see what we had found of interest in one corner or another. It was fun, a lot of fun.

Yes, those are actually my off-spring:

The spots the boys called me to were mostly the truly gory ones; the skull hanging in iridescent blue spookiness, descriptions of pirates' lives, the weapons window with cutlasses and daggers.

I was more often reading them other historical items of interest; here are a few.

Each of the objects below is followed by the signage describing it, I love seeing the treasures brought up from the bottom of the sea.

We were all set to go home, when we made one last discovery: the museum had emptied itself of the dozens of bused-in school children, and the place was OURS. Instead of the two boys who were sooo ready to go home, I now had two young men eager to take advantage of every single one of their favorite spots, ie: (Lego station above with Hall of Mammals behind), while I knit and knit and took a break to participate in a car race or visit the submarine every hour or so. Paradise. 

Next up: mindful visit, after study of a period in history, to a giant of a museum; the National Mississippi River Museum.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Road Trip: Colorado!

                                                            Just look. Wonder and look.

They ALL love to climb the boulders, it's their mini-Everest. Oldest on top, Charles half-way down. He made the most trips up and down, part mountain-goat, that child.
Mon amouur in our warm and cozy cabin (which was especially warm the first night, as Cate had found the thermostat and cranked it to 79 before we figured out why we were all removing layers of clothing.) She was the child who used to sleep in pj's, a sleeper AND a wool sweater.

Valentine/Ariel, wondering how the heck a mermaid found this comfortable:
 We stay at a YMCA complex when we go; some of the perks: playground equipment by the cabin:
 A lesson in bravery, perseverance and endurance:

This next one, I'll admit, was my: "please get out of the car, the lake is so beautiful and we never did get a family photo!" Alas, there was no one around to snap it, so we are still missing Papa, but look at those colors!
Sleepy brothers on the way:

One last glimpse of the snowy peaks; exhilarating and mournful, but with the promise of home at the end of the road.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

How-to-have-a-happy-holiday Guide

First of all; cut out all normal activities, like homeschooling, work, etc., and just go with the holiday flow. What? You need to eat, so you have to work...darn, us too! So, where to start?

Go cut down a tree, pick the day it starts to snow and no one really wants to go except Mama, because you will HAVE A BLAST! :

 Attend the Christmas program at church; Valentine narrator

 Gael, in the choir:

Gather with Waldorf homeschoolers in a friend's barn for a Solstice Spiral. The photos are on my husband's phone, but imagine, if you will:

It's quiet and dark. a hundred feet of pine boughs form a spiral on the floor of the barn, stars scattered here and there, awaiting their flame. The children go one by one, through the maze to light their candle, held in an apple from the one at the center of the spiral.

Here is the view of the falling snow from the window of the passvie house of simplify, live, love: where we held the event:

Trim the tree:

Celebrate the birthdays...Thierry, age undisclosed:

Cate, twenty years old: we went to visit her, between finals, to bring cake and take her out for lunch.

Travel through another wintery storm, across the bridge to a friend's birthday at the pizza parlor and roller-skate rink; go ahead; skate!, then park and take a midnight walk to see how the Mississippi likes to crunch itself up into laugh lines:

Homeschooling looked a lot like a nice, long break where "child-centered education" was every single day. And making our hearts and homes ready for Christmas, in the spirit of Advent, became my priority.

When asked, early December, what he would like to do today, Gael's immediate response? Make elephant toothpaste again, with even more food coloring involved this time:

Attend a family work party for Daddy, kids invited to test the merchandise:

       Get together with friends to welcome in the light again after the longest night of the year:

       Breathe in the peace of the season and bask in the joy in your own favorite spots in your home:

Happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year to you!!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

No Shave November? Who's Got Time?!!!

Instead of writing a novel or growing a beard, our month of November into December is full of happenings and joy. Here is a how-to guide: start off the season with a great Thanksgiving meal, with as much as your family (and their dogs) and as many friends as you can gather. Normally, we would also have had my sister and her family (evil Black Friday takes her away from us now by beginning on Thursday) and some neighbors and stray people far from home; China, Africa, India, Ohio...

 Next, let your little brother do the dishes:
 And watch (or don't watch) him take pictures when NO ONE is looking:

Then continue by celebrating all of the birthdays, friends and family alike, in November:
(Elizabeth, godmother of Charles, at a surprise party chez us):

 There were kids everywhere, here in the school/playroom:

Valentine turns 15:

Attend the parade, of course! Bring your own thermoses of hot cocoa and coffee, and end up in the local newspaper because you were brave enough to venture out in the cold and wind for it:

One week later, host family and friends for a post-run-meal after a freezing cold run in December for a good cause; the Jingle Run for the Arthritis Foundation:

Don't forget to hang your stockings for St.Nicholas!

Make a gingerbread house, and an old-fashioned wreath:

Next up: Go find the perfect tree, in the SNOW!