Marbled Flowers

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For a fairly quick art project this week, we made these spring flowers using the marbled paper from a few weeks ago. I got the idea for the project from Deep Space Sparkle. The directions are simple. Using a piece of  construction paper folded in half, we cut a vase out along the fold of the paper. We then cut out the flower centers, petals, and stems from the marbled paper and then we glued flowers and vase onto a larger sheet of construction paper. I did suggest to the kids that they arrange all the shapes on the page before gluing so that they could figure out how they wanted it to look before committing.

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David chose to glue his petals in a way that they curled off the page, giving a 3-D effect. I also liked that his finished result is very asymmetrical on the page.

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Ruth found the cutting and glueing to be a little more challenging that David. It was a good project for her because it worked on skills that she hasn’t mastered. It also was inherently more freeform than some other art projects. She’s a bit of  a perfectionist so I always like giving her art projects that encourage her to not worry about “getting it right”.

Scenes from the National Building Museum

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We spent Friday at the National Building Museum for a homeschool day. This was the first year that all three kids were able to take classes and Ruth was very excited to be “all by herself” in class. She learned about patterns and houses (and made a house that was very her: mostly purple). David took a class in architecture and John built a geodesic dome. John and David both took “engineering egg drop” where they attempted to design a container that an egg could survive a fall from the very high second floor of the museum.

We also had a lot of fun in the Play Work Build exhibit. If you are in the area I’d highly recommend it. All in all, a good day.

An Advent Craft: Colored Glass Pictures

This didn’t really start out as an Advent craft. It started out as a project to go along with John’s history readings this week which were about the ancient Phoenicians. Apparently the Phoenicians were known for making colored glass and this project was in the Story of the World Activity Guide as a suggested go-along project for the week. One thing I have been feeling is lacking in our homeschool is art. It’s easy to let it slide since there is so much else to do. John doesn’t really enjoy art projects that much so it’s not something he misses. But I’ve been meaning to do more of them,  partially because it’s not something he’ll do on his own and partially because David does really enjoy them. Still, I’m not especially crafty and sometimes John is just not that interested so I’m never sure how they will turn out. I was very pleased with these.

First you have the child choose a picture. I actually meant for him to cut a picture out of a magazine or from a Christmas card but due to a serendipitous misunderstanding he chose to copy a card we’d received in the mail. Which is what ended up in this being sort of an Advent craft. Here is his drawing.

Then cut out two pieces of waxed paper that are bigger than the picture you are using. You could make them in an interesting shape but my very concrete boys both chose “square”. Put some newspaper onto a table and lay one piece of waxed paper on the newspaper with the child’s picture centered on top of the waxed paper.

Then you will need some crayon shavings (actually have these ready first) and pieces of colored thread. The thread is because the Phoenicians used it in their glass. If you aren’t studying them, feel free to leave it out. I used a vegetable peeler and some old crayons to make these. There might be a better way but it worked.

Now let your kids have fun sprinkling the crayon shavings and colored threads over the picture and waxed paper. This is where they can be creative. I didn’t give much direction, other than to mention that the might not want to completely cover the picture with the crayons. After they are done, place the second piece of waxed paper over the picture and cover with two more pieces of waxed paper. Use an iron on low heat and iron over the newspaper. It doesn’t take long to get the crayons melted. Pick up the newspaper and you’re done. I did trim around the edges to make them look a little neater.

John’s finished glass.

And David’s. He drew on a piece of paper and I asked him what shape he wanted me to cut out. He chose a heart.

All in all a pretty easy project. It was short enough and different enough for John to stay interested.  I think they turned out well. And hanging in one of our windows they make a nice Advent decoration.

Those Phoenicians were pretty smart guys.

7 Quick Takes Friday

1. Words to describe me this week would be lackadaisical, lazy, unmotivated, boring, sloth like,  and sluggish. I could blame it on pregnancy brain or that the summer is finally getting more like normal DC weather in the increased heat and humidity. But those would probably just be excuses. Whatever the reason, I thought participating in 7 Quick Takes Friday would help me get back into the blogging thing, which I enjoy doing but for which I  have found it difficult to muster the ability to form coherent sentences.

2. John swam in his first swim meet today. It was unbearably cute. Our pool has a program called “swim school” which is kind of swim team lite. It’s a great program for the youngest kids. They only go two days a week,  have no pressure to compete in any meets, and they are still welcome to participate in any fun swim team activities. It’s a win-win situation. He’s loved doing it and really grown in his swimming ability. Today they had a lollipop meet as the end of the season. The older kids did all the usual adult things (timers, announcers, etc) and only kids under 8 yrs old could compete.  They got a lollipop for each event they chose to swim and everyone got a ribbon. I was pretty impressed that he was able to make it the whole length of the pool (a first) and that he wanted to try doing backstroke. He was by far the youngest kid trying backstroke and finished much later than anyone else. But it was great to see all the older kids and parents cheering for him. I think he felt like a star. I was proud of him but even better was that he was really proud of himself.

3. We watched the original Star Wars movies last weekend for the first time. The boys loved them. David’s favorite character was Chewie which might be related to his love of monkeys. He spends much of every day pretending to be a monkey. Or, now he sometimes he is Chewie.

4. School starts for us in just about one week. John informed me that he hates school. When I asked him what part he hated he wasn’t sure. Math. No, he likes that. Reading stories. No, he likes that. Science experiments. No, those are fun. Art projects. No, those are good. Hmmm. Maybe it’s just that he has a mean teacher.

5. I’m thinking about having fruit smoothies for dinner. Two out of four food groups is pretty good, right?

6. I just finished a great book, Look Me in the Eyes by John Elder Robison. It’s a memoir by a man with high-functioning Asperger’s Syndrome who was not diagnosed until about age 40. It prompted me to get some other similar books out of the library and I plan on reviewing them together at some point. But for now I’d say that Look Me in the Eyes is a very interesting read that I would definitely recommend.

7. I can’t think of a 7th thing. I told you I was feeling dull, indolent, lethargic, slack and torpid.

Why Homeschool?

John is at the age where he would be starting kindergarten this fall in public school. So a lot of conversations at the pool or the park or anywhere with other moms drift to school. I find that a lot of times when I say “We’re homeschooling” it effectively kills the conversation. Add that to the fact that I just had to send in our official notice of intent to homeschool and our decision to homeschool has been on my mind a lot lately.

I think a lot of people hear “I think public school is bad and you are a bad Mom to have your children there” when I say “We are going to homeschool.” That’s not what I mean at all, but I think that’s what is heard. At least, I get a lot of defensive answers that suggest they are hearing it as a criticism or it just ends the conversation. Usually I respond to the silence by asking where their child is going to school and then saying something positive about the school to show that I am not anti-public school. (I have really heard good things about all the neighborhood public schools so I’m not lying when I say something positive.)

Sometimes people ask “Why do you homeschool?” or sometimes it’s just implied in responses like “Oh, I could never do that.” I’m sure that there are people that are more NOT choosing public school than they are choosing TO homeschool, just like in some elections there are voters more voting against one candidate than for anyone. But for us we are choosing TO homeschool more than we are choosing NOT to send our kids to public school. That might seem like a minor distinction but it’s actually a big difference. I think both H. and I can think of a lot of scenarios or reasons why we would stop homeschooling and send our kids to public or private school. I think both of us feel blessed to live in an area with a number of great choices for school.

So why are we homeschooling? In all honesty, some of the reasons are selfish. I like being with my kids. I don’t really want them to be gone 6-8 hours a day, especially during this very fleeting time when they are young. I like the idea of having the ability to take vacations when it suits us and not on a school schedule. I like the chance to learn with them. And I think it’s fun (most of the time).

I also like the the idea that education is something that is lifelong and goes on all the time, instead of something that happens from 9am-3pm  for 9 months out of the year.  I think we can give them at least as good an education as they could get in public or private school.

I know there are cons to homeschooling also. For right now, for us, the pros outweigh the cons. For right now, for us, home education is the best choice. It may not always be, but it is now.