Sunday, February 21, 2010

Winter is beautiful!

What do you get when you combine Bins of CrayPas, Blue Construction Paper and First Graders? 
Art, of course!
Inspired by Deep Space Sparkle's Winter scene, did our own little winter project. 
Set-up was easy: My little helper and I put one piece of blue construction paper at each stool, and a paint tray with the Cray-pas: black brown, white and red.
The children started with the snow, filling in with the white pastel. I asked them to make the line in the bottom third of the paper, and not to make it too straight.
The tree was next. Using black and brown they drew a leafless tree from the snow to the top of the page.  Everyone has their own image of a tree!

To finish they added a little red squirrel. I even had a table set up for the kids to spatter-paint snow falling on their picture. They had a blast!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Wishing For Spring

It's the Ides of February.
Transfiguration and Valentine's today.
Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, and My Father's Birthday on Tuesday.
At least 12 in of snow on the ground and more in the air.

Frost on the bean trellis made me wishful for spring.
So I visited the Seed Savers Exchange (online, that is) and got busy dreaming:

Purple Beans for the Trellis

These never actually make it into the house because the kids eat them all.

Purple Peas, because I love peas, and I love purple
Winged Asparagus Peas, because they look like fun! 

And Candy-Striped Beets! YUM! 
The Science Officer loves beets!

Hopefully the wagon will be full of produce rather than snow in a few months!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Etsy Shop Up and Running!

Finally! During the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics last night I opened my Etsy Shop.

The Big Boat: Burlap, Bags and Snac Sacs!

Not much listed yet, but more will come as I get samples sewn and pictures taken!

Pink Petals Wrap and Sac Set
Basic three Snac Sac Set
Burlap Bucket

Monday, February 08, 2010

Hearts on a String

Yes, Valentine's parties are on Friday. This doesn't give you much room to wiggle, but here's our project this year: 

Hearts on a string!

It all started with a pile of Construction paper scraps. We sorted the colors and shredded them into little pieces, and put them in a bowl full of water to soak overnight.
They looked so pretty sitting on the windowsill.

Next day we put it all in the blender, added water and beat it to a pulp. The pulp and more water went back into a big bowl. I made a deckle out of a embroidery hoop and some window screening. We put flower seeds in some of the pulp, to make plantable paper! 

Then came the fun.
The kids got to help scoop the mushy pulp onto the deckle, and flip it upside down onto a piece of old sheet. 

It's called couching, but really, it's just flipping circles of pulp onto something absorbent so the water can start to drain off.

I'm the type to use what's around, so the sheeting is really a torn-up sheet, and the toweling underneath is a towel. 

Red construction paper bleeds a bit, so there is a plastic bag between the towel and the counter. After getting one batch done, we stack the sheets between a few sheets of newspaper, and smoosh them in the kid's flower presses. Anything flat will do. 

Finally spread out the sheets somewhere to dry. I pinned burlap to a drying rack for breathable shelves, and the whole thing fits in my laundry room. (the warmest room in the house with the furnace going!) 

Read more about papermaking here

Tomorrow you can see the finished sheets!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Bag Lady!

I've been sewing in response to a request for Snac Sacs for one of the boys in Miriam's pre-school class and the intention of getting an ETSY shop up and running. The Big Boat shop, of course! 

Here's what I made for Carson: A three bag set in blue with a Dino on the front of the large Sac. The Dino is purple on the bag I made for Carson. This set should be just right for lunch.

Then I worked on a girl's set with a sandwich Wrap instead of a large Sac. 

The Wrap opens up to become your placemat! The Snac Sacs can fit inside the wrap, if your sandwich isn't too big, or when you're all done. I think I'll make a matching napkin to go with this set.

Here's my favorite have-with-me-always bag! It folds up into its own pocket, and is the size of a cell phone! Holds a whole grocery sac worth of stuff. There's a half gallon of milk and loaf of bread in this on and it's not even full.

I'll make an active link to my shop when I get it up and running! Now I'm off to pick up the Communications and Security Officers! (aka my kidlets)

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Good doggie, good doggie!

We have a Can Do Canine, aka service dog in our household. The Admiral, (my hubby) has Cerebral Palsy, and Guido is a great help, picking up dropped items, carrying things, and opening and closing doors. He's also a big hit at work, where he's the Chaplain's Helper. (The Admiral is a Chaplain at a couple Senior Facilities) Guido is new to us, but we fostered a service puppy last year, Winston. We have all learned about positive and negative reinforcement. Both dogs respond much better to treats and praise than they do to the word "no!"

One of the trainers posted this on our yahoo group for puppy raisers, it's a great reminder about how to treat our animals and our children.

 The person writing it was working with kids who were at a summer shelter workshop similar to the one Animal Humane Society offers kids. The group decided to use humans to demonstrate positive reinforcement vs. negative reinforcement so they could better understand how to help their animals.
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Our first volunteer went outside the room while we decided what we wanted him to touch. We would use only positive reinforcement (the word good rather than clicks from 18 kids) when the youngster was headed on the quickest path towards our target. He was great, the trainer-kids were great, and the classroom was joyful. The young man quickly learned (within 90 seconds) to check-in with the class if he hadn't heard a 'good'. As he reached the target area, he would offer small behaviors, check in for the good, adjust his behavior, and offer another. He felt outstanding when he reached the target - touching the tail on horse in a photo - as did the whole class who 
cheering him (and themselves) on.

Then we went to only telling the volunteer when she was wrong. This cheerful young girl went from a happy volunteer offering behavior after behavior to a frightened child who was afraid to move in fear she would be told she was wrong. It took less than 3 minutes to destroy her enthusiasm. If that wasn't bad enough - the class kids who were so happy just 10 minutes prior were silent and looking away.

I stopped it, went to the young girl, thanked her for her work and told her she was being very good. Then I asked her if she felt she could tell us how she felt. This brave little one took a deep breath and said a single word - stupid. The whole class immediately cried out that she was smart and good and all the pleasant things kids say to each other. That positive reinforcement brought a smile to her face and she relaxed enough to shed a few tears.

We asked her what she thought could help her in her search. She asked if we would tell her good (like the boy), never tell her she was wrong, and maybe, if it was okay, let her know if she was paying too much attention to a unimportant area. We all agreed! We would use GOOD and, if she seemed to get stuck, we would use the cue NOTHING.

They youngster was a bit slow at first, testing the waters, and the class jumped on each tiny move she made in the quickest direction with GOOD!!! The two times she thought she was in the right area - quick, very quiet, almost whispered NOTHING from several class mates set her on her way again. She found the target within minutes. She shed a few tears again, this time happy ones.

After that, we went on to questions & answers about how to help their dogs (and cats) at home modify their behaviors. It was great to encourage the kids, based on what we just did, to find positive ways to let their animals know what behaviors people wanted to see - rather than always telling the animals NO.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Lifelong Learning

Yep, my kids go to public school. On the bus, in 6 degree weather! My little one goes to pre-school three mornings a week, and I'll hopefully be teaching some on the other two days. 

But I still love reading Home-school blogs. And I don't feel bad that I take advantage of the teachers and community in the local school district. Because we don't stop learning when we get back off the bus and come home!

 J keeps finding letters in everyday objects. So far it's all been food! Here's a small "e" and a letter "C" 

We play card games and cook, and have been doing more crafts that the Admiral thinks necessary. But the things that they learn! 

One of my favorite HS sites is Ordinary Life Magic. They are always doing crafts and cooking and science! Today I found their Science Kit Giveaway! I'm hoping for a big box of magnets!! Click above and you can enter too.

Have fun, and keep learning!