Monthly Archives: November 2013

Family “Quote of the Week” Rocks!

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…” ~ Dr. Seuss, Oh The Places You’ll Go!

Here’s a great family activity for sharing around the dinner table. Every Sunday we choose a quote-of-the-week to share throughout the week, and it is really fun!

I originally got the idea from the Mensa website and printed their page of quotes from the teacher resources. We have used some of their ideas, but also have found many on our own. We each participate by coming up with quotes, and some of our family send favorites to us as well. It is such a simple idea, but so fruitful in its results. Some very interesting conversations have arisen from these quotes! Friends, internet searches of famous quotes, and books are wonderful resources for finding appropriate material to draw from.

We write our weekly quote onto a 3×5 recipe card and keep it on our table. We seem to end up talking about these quotes, and learning things about some of the people who said them. Sometimes we write questions or little bits of information on the backs of the cards, as well as the date. This is a very enriching, ongoing, free activity for almost any age. I think teenagers would like it as well as little ones and adults. And, for those who feel that really little kids wouldn’t benefit from this activity, I strongly disagree! It is not important for kids to understand exactly what every intelligent quote means. Just being a part of family discussion and interaction is incredibly stimulating!

We started Family QOTW back in September and it is still rolling strong in our household. Here are some examples from the past months:

“Do what you feel in your heart to be right- for you’ll be criticized anyway.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt

“Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.” ~Basil King

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” ~Oscar Wilde

“A life spent making mistakes is not only honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing” ~George Bernard Shaw (thanks for that one Grandma!)

“It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get up.” ~Vince Lombardi

As Captain has suggested, it will be fun to look back at this collection of quotes one day. I agree! Thanks for reading and good thoughts to all.

Carpe Diem! Karen

Categories: Family fun, Homeschooling Projects, Language Arts Rock For Kids! | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Be Your Child’s Scribe So They Are FREE to Create!

IMG_2824

Standing on the back of the couch, wiggling around with her little dog, Captain creates a poem

But she is not writing. She is not fiddling with papers and pencil, stopping to ask how to spell a word, or having concern for getting her thoughts down on paper. She is free to muse, to talk, to connect with what she is feeling, to throw her head back and laugh and bounce with happiness when she is pleased with herself. I am her mom, and I am her scribe.

I have addressed this concept in other posts, but wanted to take a moment to dive in a bit more deeply, as it is something that feels very important to me. Elementary-aged kids do a lot of writing. They are encouraged, cajoled, prompted and sometimes pressured to keep up with writing practice. This is a wonderful, yet difficult, stage for many kids as it is all about practice, hand control and just getting used to getting things down on paper. They are learning to spell new words constantly and even the best writers of the bunch need a little break sometimes, I feel. It wasn’t long ago that I realized that my kiddo was getting plenty of writing practice with other things, so I decided to ask her if she would like me to write for her when she created a story. It was amazing! Letting her loose to just create and go wild with a story or a poem is fantastic, and what comes out is so pure and full of energy and creativity. Think about if you felt inspired to come up with a story, whether on your own, or prompted for a school project, and you couldn’t get the words down easily. What you were thinking was coming in a flow of words and ideas, but you just couldn’t write them down, couldn’t spell the words or get past the paper in front of you. It wouldn’t be very nurturing of the creative process. In fact, I think I would probably put the pencil down and move on. What if someone recorded it for you? Pure freedom to ramble. How wonderful!!

I am sharing this because I have experienced, with my 6-year-old daughter, how beneficial it can be. I will be her note-taker sometimes and we both enjoy the process immensely. In fact today we are continuing our study of pineapples (the things I am learning about because Captain is interested!) and this afternoon, when she comes up with her “Pineapple Poem”, I will be her scribe. She loves it and trust me, I can’t wait!

Thank you for reading here. I welcome any comments or conversation about how much writing kids do, creative writing or anything else. In the meantime, I truly hope that kids get as many opportunities to let themselves be free to wander creatively, with someone who loves them willing to write it all down.

Good thoughts, juicy pineapples, and a freshly sharpened pencil to all,

Karen

Categories: Homeschooling Projects | Tags: , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Kids Art Lesson: Sketching, Photography, Ansel Adams Biography & Connecting With Nature

IMG_8244

View of the Sierras, photograph taken by M, age 7

Grab some sketch pads & pencils, a camera, and the following information about photographer Ansel Adams, find a nice spot in nature, and you have a wonderful art lesson to share with kids!

The beauty of nature has been an inspiration to artists for all of time. I would like to share how I presented the works of Ansel Adams, and also touched briefly on Claude Monet, while taking the kids out to sketch in the mountains. All you need is a place in nature (mountains, parks, fields, and even your own backyard ), sketch pads, pencils, a camera, and some artist information and examples.

Captain’s friends came for a fun visit this week and we went on a hike in Sequoia Forest. I told them a little bit about how artists of many mediums have been inspired by nature, and that today we would be talking about the famous photographer Ansel Adams. We talked about his life and looked at photographs (see information below) and also talked about Claude Monet’s work. They learned  the term “impressionism” and its origin. I gave each kid a sketch pad and invited them to find a spot to sit with a nice view to sketch. We talked about perspective, lines and details, and then they went to work. The sketches were amazing! The kids took their sketches home to watercolor, and Captain painted hers right away that evening. I showed them a postcard book of Adam’s lovely winter landscapes and after they “oohed and ahhed” over their favorites, I gave them the opportunity to take 3 photographs each, with my iphone, encouraging them to take their time. They each chose their favorite photo and I promised to print their special photo in black and white and frame them. They were thrilled. *Note: I printed the photos at Costco for 13 cents each, and bought black frames at a dollar store. I can’t wait to give the kids their own photographic works of art this week!

IMG_8247

Beautiful Granite, photograph taken by Captain, age 6

IMG_8252

Bueller in the Mountains, photograph taken by J, age 5

IMG_8242

M with his mountain sketch.  He really loved the whole experience of sketching and photographing an amazing view of the Sierras from atop a giant, granite rock face.

image

Captain’s watercolored sketch of granite and mountains.

Here is some wonderful, easy to understand information about Ansel Adams to share with your kids. I found these facts on a wonderful site called Mr. Nussbaum! Learning + FunClick on the link to easily print these biography pages, and also check out some of the cool science and other learning ideas and lessons presented there!

Ansel Adams Biography for Kids

Glacier National Park

Early Life

Ansel Adams was a famous American photographer and environmentalist. He was born near the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California, on Feb. 20, 1902. When he was four years old, his nose was broken when he was knocked to the ground by an aftershock of the great earthquake. His nose was crooked for the rest of his life. One of his earliest memories was seeing smoke from the great fire that followed the earthquake.

Growing Up

He was an only child who performed poorly at school, so his parents had him tutored at home. Although he was hyperactive and possibly dyslexic, he was thought to possess an eidetic memory, which is a form of photographic memory that includes memories of smells, sounds, and other senses. Ansel enjoyed music and taught himself to play the piano when he was twelve. He also enjoyed nature and loved walking in the sand dunes near his home. His father gave him a telescope, and they shared a great interest in astronomy.

A Photographer is Born in Yosemite National Park

When he was fourteen, Ansel read In the Heart of the Sierras by James Mason Hutchings, and he convinced his parents to take a vacation in Yosemite National Park. His parents gave him a Kodak Brownie camera for the trip, and Ansel’s interest in photography was born as he tramped through the park’s mountains. When he talked about the trip, Ansel said, “the splendor of Yosemite burst upon us and it was glorious… One wonder after another descended upon us… There was light everywhere… A new era began for me.” Some of his most famous photographs were of Yosemite. His work helped raise awareness of and interest in America’s national parks. In 1927, Ansel took one of his best known photos, “Monolith, the Face of Half Dome” at Yosemite.

Grand Teton Mountains and Snake River

The Sierra Club

When he was seventeen, Ansel joined the Sierra Club. The club works to preserve the earth’s natural wonders and resources. He spent four summers as the caretaker of the Sierra Club visitor center in Yosemite Valley, and was an active member of the club for the rest of his life. Ansel was interested in environmental issues related to national parks, especially Yosemite, and the preservation of wilderness.

Photography as an Art

Ansel learned basic darkroom technique working part-time for a photo finisher in San Francisco. In 1927, Albert Bender, a businessman and patron of the arts, helped publish Ansel’s first portfolio, Parmelian Prints of the High Sierras. Ansel soon got paid for photos, and he began to think about a career as a photographer instead of a pianist. In 1933 he opened his own art and photography gallery in San Francisco. He often worked for eighteen or more hours a day, for days and weeks on end. He learned from and exhibited with other famous photographers of the time including Alfred Stieglitz, Imogen Cunningham, Paul Strand, and Edward Weston. They developed photography as a form of art. Ansel helped to establish the first department of photography at a museum at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Sierra Nevada Mountains

Ansel’s Work in Space

Ansel Adams’ photographs recorded what many of the National Parks were like before tourism. His photograph of the Grand Tetons and the Snake River was one of 115 images chosen to grace the Voyager spacecraft in an effort to share information about life on Earth with a possible alien civilization. He died on April 22, 1984 in Monterey, California.

image

No matter how I photographed these lovely works, I couldn’t help but get glare off the glass. Funny how it made the cloudy, gray sky look blue in M’s photo!

Thank you so much for reading. I wish you a glorious, dramatic, black and white day, filled with color!

Good thoughts, Karen

Categories: Art Rocks For Kids!, Family fun, Homeschooling Projects, Sequoia National Forest & Park | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Simple Science Experiments: Tornado-in-a-Bottle + Tornado Facts!

IMG_8174

An easy, fun way to learn about the power of tornadoes

IMG_8166

You’ll need: Glass (or plastic) bottle with cap, dish soap, glitter (or dirt) and a pencil (or straw)

Fill bottle about 2/3 with water. Add a few drops of dish soap. Dip the pencil (straw) in water, then in glitter and swirl it in.  That’s it!  Simply swirl the bottle to create your very own tornado.

Cool facts about tornadoes:

1.Tornados are sometimes called twisters.

2.A tornado is a rapidly spinning tube of air that touches both the ground and a cloud above. The tornado on the ground follows the same path as the thundercloud.

3.Tornadoes develop from a thunderstorm when warm, moist air rises and cools. This creates clouds. Water vapor condenses and releases heat. This release of heat creates the energy in a thunderstorm. Under certain conditions, when the air moving up into the cloud is very strong, a tornado can develop.

3.The Fujita Scale is a way of measuring the strength of tornadoes. The scale ranges from F0 tornadoes that cause minimal damage through F5 tornadoes which cause massive damage.

4.In the southern hemisphere, tornadoes usually rotate in a clockwise direction.

5. The US averages more tornadoes than any other country in the world. The states of Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma and Florida are the most often hit by twisters.

6.Most tornadoes travel for only a few miles before exhausting themselves.

7. Extreme tornadoes can reach wind speeds of over 300 miles per hour (483 kilometers per hour).

IMG_8170

We hope you enjoy learning about one of the amazing powers of Mother Nature: the tornado!

A powerful funnel of goodwill to all,

Karen

Categories: Homeschooling Projects, Science Rocks For Kids! | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.