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February’s Adventures in Homeschooling

This year we began homeschooling Lucy (7), Hattie (5), and Beatrice (2). We’re including this on our Giants & Pilgrims blog as all our family adventures seem to impact our art & music so much! Also, we just like sharing the stories. So we’ll be sharing posts on the themes we’ve been covering each month and calling the adventure “ABACUS”! Our hope is that these posts will help spark creative direction and inspiration for your family as well as giving us somewhere to be document and record our experiences.

February has been a month filled with lots of preparations and travel. We went to KS to wrap up some projects and visit family. As for our homeschool activities, they all had this wonderful literary bent to them. Colorado (and KS) are mostly very unpleasant in February – not much snow, just wind and cold. So it has been a perfect month to get lost in stories. Here is our homeschool photo journal for February.

Valentines Celebrations:

We had a wonderful Valentines tea party in Kansas with grandmas and cousins. Pretty wonderful. Lots of Valentines makings…

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Lucy’s valentines – little origami boxes, with Washi tape ribbons, filled with heart garlands she made.
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Harriet’s wonderful gigantic heart.

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Woodworking:

Early in the month, we all drove out to Kansas to spend some time with family and for me to do a book signing for the Bravest Adventure and to build frames for my new series of paintings with my dad. We started Arlo out young on his woodworking skills.

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Since we had access to my dad’s wonderful workshop and tools, we slipped another tiny project into the mix – making a toy tabletop theater! Here is Lucy helping with the construction (learning from the best!).

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Fables & Theater:

Thanks to the inspiration from Read Aloud Revival, one of our themes for February was Fables. Here are some of the books we enjoyed. I hadn’t realized what an illustrative force Paul Galdone was until now!
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The girls picked “The Teeny Tiny Woman” as our first fable to perform. Here we are working on the backdrops.

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And here is a photo of our debut show in our newly dubbed “Fable Theater”.

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My little theater painter helper…
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And the ever dramatic Lucy presenting the newly painted facade! Pretty cool, right!?

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Later in the month, we also put on a show of Peter Pan! More on that in a moment….

Story Telling:

Alongside exploring the wonderful worlds of fables and poetry this month, I wanted to jump into crafting more of our own stories. So we invested in a few fun new story telling games. Story cubes – (which I will be honest, I was a little skeptical about, but the girls LOVE. So simple, with endless creative possibilities.)

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And this really charming fairytale story telling puzzle I found on Amazon. The pieces can be rearranged in any order to tell different stories. The illustrations are lovely and the story possibilities surprisingly diverse.IMG_8869

Nature Study:

We really haven’t done much Nature study this month (February… blech). But, I couldn’t not mention how much we are LOVING the new Planet Earth II series. Takes my breath away every time.

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Robotics:

The fun little surprise exploration this month was into robotics. Lucy desperately wants to build a real robot, so we are digging into the worlds of electronics and computer programming. Giving this artsy mama a run for her money….

Deconstructing an old VCR for parts…
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Building “Brush Bots” (like hexbugs) thanks to YouTube… (we also made straw light sabers, but forgot to photograph)

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Poetry:

February being the cold blustery month it is, and as an ode to love poems everywhere 🙂 we did a little focus on Poetry this month. I put together this basket near our breakfast table of all of our favorite poetry books and a few new ones from the library (we fell in love with this one in particular). Each morning we took turns picking poems to read out loud as a family.

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Here is the little basket graphic I made. Feel free to use it if you want to make your own poetry basket…
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We also enjoyed this kids illustrated biography of the poet e.e.cummings. Look how beautiful that sky poem is…

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Tried our hand at writing some typewriter poems…

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As well as rhyming poems, shape poems, and acrostic poems!

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Physical Eduction:

Along with our normal dance classes and as many park trips as we could manage,
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we practiced a little circus arts… 🙂
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Gymnastics at Grandmama and Grandpapa’s house…

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Ice skating…

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and Arlo and Dad watching the superbowl… Does this really count as Physical Education?

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Literature:

Our classic we read this month was J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan (beautifully illustrated/interactive version by Minalima). The girls LOVED it. Lucy bawled at the end and Harriet right away wanted to read the entire book again (we did not, ha).

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As a finale to finishing the book, the girls and I put together our own production of Peter Pan performed on our tiny theater.

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Paris:

Attempting to build Eiffel towers out of toothpicks and marshmallows while learning about all sorts of 3D structures.

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Coloring France on our world map

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Eiffel tower drawings
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Homemade crepes and french pastries for French food sampling…so….yummy….
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So many fun Paris books. We really loved all of these.
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But especially Paris Up Up and Away. It is filled with intricate silhouette papercuts!
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Speaking of papercuts, we also made one more of these FREE printable paper structures to add to our growing collection of famous monuments.
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Art:

One of the Paris books we read – Painting Pepette – is about a little girl who takes her stuffed bunny to several different famous artists to have his portrait painted (Picasso, Dali, Matisse, and Chagall). Each artist paints Pepette in his unique style. We took inspiration from the book and did our own series of bunny portraits inspired by the greats.

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painting peppette

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Speaking of bunnies… Lucy also (probably inspired by the Butter sculptures at the Kansas State Fair) made her own butter, and sculpted it into this fierce bunny.

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That’s all for now folks! March is going to be all about Egypt, Passover, St. Patricks Day, Colors, and Coding… I am excited already….

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New Song Featured on The Liturgists “Holy Week”

The Liturgists (who are Science Mike and Michael Gungor) create art and experiences for the spiritually homeless and frustrated. Starting from a collaboration around digital liturgies, the The Liturgists have grown into a global community for people who are interested in Christ, but often feel marginalized by Christianity. This community connects through liturgical releases, events, and an oddly popular podcast.

That’s whats on their website. Let me say that I have deeply loved what The Liturgists have put out over the last couple years. And now this last season I’ve had a chance to work with them!

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I paired with a poet named Graham Murtaugh to produce an original liturgy for Science Mike and Gungor. This led to creating a journey that took a person through “Holy Week” (Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter) through poems and hymns and a meditation. The tracks will be released on each of the named days of Holy Week and on Easter Sunday and you can buy the work here:

http://www.theliturgists.com/store/holy-week-2016

Also great news, a new Giants & Pilgrims song was included as part of the “Holy Week” release! We did an arrangement of “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” for this liturgy and it sounds SO beautiful. Many thanks to Dave Wilton for his work. (And of course thanks to Betony Coons for the cover art!)

Here’s the song below:

 

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MLK Day Playlist: “In Protest”

The first time I realized that there is such a thing as a “protest” song was in high school. One of the films they were showing about the civil rights movement kept coming back to people belting out “We Shall Overcome”. As a young man, I was so moved. That people can use music to rally around an idea that brings about change- that’s powerful.

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we made a playlist filled with songs about changing the world around us for the better (curated by Betony, myself, and many other contributors). Here’s our current list. What would you add? Feel free to put song suggestions in the comments.

 

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Poem for December: “Mend”

Welcome to the December Almanac. Our theme this month is MEND. All our posts will center around that theme in some way. Below is a poem written by Giants & Pilgrims own Tim Coons, all about this month.

“Mend”

by Tim Coons

December is an old quilt

a warm blanket near the hearth-
the home’s foundational fire

We tuck in after feasts and toasts
and carols around the table 

We cozy in as the snow blankets
all corners of our city

Amidst the joy of the tree and holly,
sweet nativities,

and lights
inside and out

a Great New birth stirs in our hearts
And we are put together, mended

in this shelter
and home

 

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November Theme: Table

November is a set table

Harvest is here
and the fruits of our labor,
the results of our efforts,
the long months of digging in the dirt,
all produces great fruit

worth celebrating

Friends, families, and neighbors
gather around with smiles
while words like thankfulness and gratitude
are kept present on our tongues

We break bread and pour the cup
We taste, we eat

And our bodies and hearts together
are full

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October Theme: Remember

A poem for October. “Remember” is our theme for the month and all our posts here will play on that theme, for the most part. Fall is my favorite time of year and October my favorite month… so this should be a good time!

REMEMBER

October is a swan song

A last grand gesture of earth color and twilight
before everything sustained by light and warmth
fades into winter

The beautiful funeral is felt in
gray skies, falling leaves, and shorter hours

In the face of the Great Sleep
It’s best to

hope
and
Remember

to keep account of the memories of days
filled with vibrant greens and full hours

So we head forward
into the dark with a candle

and a recollection

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Poem: The Day the Bravery Parted Ways

The Day The Bravery Parted Ways
By Mariah Foster

You couldn’t rise from your bed after such a dead sleep,
Straightjacket sheets holding you together
So you don’t spill your guts;
Not that it’d be enough to fill the skeletons in your closet-
You can’t poach new pieces from the elephants in the room.
You’ve got to foster new growth,

Pull nutrients from the suck you are stuck in the tarpit of.
My love, it will always be too soon.
You won’t feel ready, but you need to
Grab life by the horns as you brace for more bucks.

Get up. Get up.

Get up on your day, on your feet,
On your desk- for perspective, yes, but also to
Prove you can still climb and find reasons to fall,
Fear of heights dulled by the pull of faith you leap with.
Skin to the wind, you finally got that shirt off your back.
Opportunity keeps knocking until your shell finally cracks.
Your wings are spreading, feathers full of glitter blood and ink,
Your razors are waiting, ready to cut your puppet strings.

You’re remembering:
All the right things are where you left them, and
You’ve been holy this whole time. There’s no more need for digging.
Cry just enough to clean your hands, the shovels;
Stop before you have to drop anchor.
Success is not sedimentary,
Satisfaction never achieved by settling.
Complacency is the enemy, and
Your strongest muscle has been strength training,
Drumming out war beats.
Your courage can no longer be caged by the ghosts of your sheets.

You are ready.
You are ready.
You’ve always been

Ready.

You’re up.

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Poem: Good Morning on a Monday

Mariah Foster is an amazing spoken-word poet in Greeley, CO.
Giants & Pilgrims requested to print one of the poems we’d heard her do on “bravery”. She sent the requested poem along with an original piece just for this Almanac as well! Enjoy these two poems here.<

GOOD MORNING ON A MONDAY
By Mariah Foster
You are beautiful.

I hope you know.
You are beautiful like renaissance paintings
Hung crookedly,
like silence in the morning,
up to blueberry coffee and harmony,
Sunsets falling east.
I’m talking beautiful like bad dancing, horrible dancing,
But you’re smiling and laughing…
It’s just beautiful.
And yes, I am talking to each and every one of you,
So little girl, don’t stop listening, I know
You’re preoccupied, trying
To rebuild broken bits of self-esteem,
But little girl, you are beautiful,
Don’t stop listening,

And little boy, don’t stop listening,
Don’t stop listening
Even if you’re afraid to be beautiful.
I promise you have the strength to be vulnerable.
I know
Because I know you.
Don’t you remember?
I was the star that shone the night you were born,
I was the heart worn on your sleeve.
I’ve been your love muddying convictions,
I’ve been the earth that washed you clean.
Little girl, don’t stop listening,
Little boy, don’t stop listening,
I’ve been the wind whipping,
Trees clawing at your window,
But don’t let it be so frightening.
Don’t let me be so frightening;
I was just reminding,
Just reminding,
I hope you know.
Don’t let it be so frightening,
And don’t question me when I tell you that you’re beautiful,
I know.
Don’t question you when you tell you that you’re beautiful.
I hope you know.

Little girl, I will mold your shattered self-esteem,
making a mirror, reflecting,
making a mirror, you’ll see,
You’ll see.
You’ll see, and I won’t need to say anything.
We won’t need to say anything.

Little boy, I will place the world on your shoulders
So you will realize you are strong enough to be vulnerable
You will realize you are strong enough to be beautiful.
Little girl, don’t stop listening,
Little boy, don’t stop listening
The world is whispering,
I am whispering
You are beautiful, You are beautiful.
We need to keep listening,
Always listening,
Keep teaching each other that we are beautiful,
Telling shouting screaming
We are strong enough to be vulnerable.
We are are strong enough to be beautiful.
We are strong enough to be beautiful,
To be beautiful,

To be beautiful.

To be beautiful is to be you.
I hope you know

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September Poetic Intro: Brave

Our Almanac theme for this month is “brave”. Since September holds beginning of the fall and school and new projects after summer it lends itself to a need for courage.

 

BRAVE

September is a courageous leap

into the trial,
the unknown,
the new
all the unexpected that

demands an answer

of courage
and bravery

After this harvest, this last run
the days will begin to shorten

And the adventure of fast days and darker hours
found in this crisp autumn
will require your best energies

Just remember

that which quickens your pulse
reminds you best
of how alive you truly are