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Shakespeare Homeschool Unit – A Midsummer Night’s Dream and More

This year to share our homeschooling journey, I am going to post updates on our unit studies we do, rather than on a month to month basis like I have in the past. I figure it is more helpful for you other homeschooling mama’s and dad’s out there who are looking for ideas/sparks for your own homeschool journey.

Shakespeare:

Lucy(9) was the spark behind starting the year off with an introduction to Shakespeare. She had really enjoyed these two graphic novels by Ian Lendler that are based on the plays but made for kids. They led to lots of questions about who Shakespeare was and what his plays were about. So we decided to jump in and start off the year with a little Shakespeare study.

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Thanks to my own parents (who read it aloud to us when we were kids) and the book “How to Teach your Children Shakespeare” by Ken Ludwig, we decided to start with Midsummer Nights Dream. It is lighthearted and silly with themes and content that can be understood by kids (mine are 9,7,3, and 1).

One of the things Ken suggests is to memorize passages – which takes knowing the subtleties of meaning and words to a whole other level. Here is the passage we worked on memorizing –

Because the passage has so many flower references, we spent some time illustrating the different flowers and learning what each flower looked like – touching and smelling some out of our own garden. And then we also learned about how flowers work in this lovely book by Gail Gibbons

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And this enchanting one by Rita Gray and illustrated by Kenard Pak

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I made some pretty little printouts to show and talk about each of the different plants referenced. Feel free to print your own and use them for personal use if you want. Here is the pdf if you would like a copy —-> Shakespeare flowers

Speaking of printables, thank you Phee McFaddell for sharing the fun printable paper dolls. They were the perfect thing to work on while reading the original Midsummer Night’s Dream play (I only wish there were a few more of the characters! – we improvised and made our own Lysander, Hermia, Demeter, and Helena).

For the reading of the actual play, we would read a couple of scenes in the original Shakespeare, and then switch and read the same part of the story in this kids version. Lucy also jumped ahead and read several of the other stories in the collection.

By switching back and forth between the two, it made it much easier for them to understand the difficult language of the original version.

Shakespeare Childrens Story Collection 16 Books Box | Andrew Matthews Tony Ross

Here are the books we used all together –

Along with the literature side, we learned some history of the era following Susan Wise Bauer’s “Story of the World”. She has an awesome chapter on the Elizabethan Era and also one on Shakespeare. (I think this series has the WORST cover design ha ha with some of the BEST content. The activities companion book has some seriously awesome and creative ideas that go a long with the history).

The Story of the World, 4 Volume Set - By: Susan Wise Bauer

As well as doing some map work, and some coloring pages from the book, the girls chose to learn about 1200’s remedies and potions

The Shakespeare chapter also talked about stage fighting which was perfect because Lucy has been doing fencing lessons this month, which she LOVES

As well as stage fighting, we pulled from this awesome list of drama games and had a great time learning stage directions, playing improv, and miming.

(The only photo I could find of this was of Tim, ha ha)

We decided to wait on watching Shakespeare in Love (partly because I love that movie so much and I want to save it for when they are a little older), but we did watch the clip from the end with Queen Elizabeth.

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Once we finished reading the play, which we LOVED, the girls worked on making a set for our tiny “Fable Theater” so that we could put on our own stage production of A Midsummer Nights Dream. Overall, an awesome unit! So fun!

 

 

March 2018 Homeschooling

Two years ago we began homeschooling Lucy (8), Hattie (6), Beatrice (3), and Arlo (1). 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.

Easter Goodness:

I don’t love it when Easter falls so early in the year, because I feel like I haven’t gotten fully into the swing of Spring yet, but it is a great kick off for the season.

Easter morning photos (Tim is missing because he had services to lead at his work)

Dying Ukrainian Easter eggs as part of our “Good Master” Book club. It is such a beautiful layered process – you use very intense dyes paired with layers of beeswax to create really beautiful eggs.

 

We read “The Good Master” for our book club. It is a story about two Hungarian children on a farm – a perfect portrait of spring. Our book club is never complete without lots of literature inspired feasting!

Sneaky little bugger…

Making seed bombs

Lots of fun hunting easter eggs –

 

 

And of course a visit from the Easter Bunny

Art:

We spent a morning studying birds nest and eggs

And wrote bird postcards

Harriet rediscovered her love of hedgehogs

Matisse inspired “backwards color” portraits

Life:

We delivered this art piece to Houston

And we maneuvered a family crisis with a lot of love and help from our friends

Rainbow Science:

We spent a day in rainbow land (including color themed outfits)

Rainbow snack time

Light table fun with magnatiles

Preschool Fun:

Learning about cavities the importance of teeth brushing

Buzzy showtime on our table top theater we made last year!

Engineering Fun:

Fun with ropes and pulleys as part of our Simple Machines exploration

And we made an official inventors kits!

and finally, we built little circuit lanterns with Tinker Crate

A Food Fight Party, Playing Planets, and Video Games Come to Life…. June’s Adventures in Homeschooling

This year we began homeschooling Lucy (8), Hattie (5), Beatrice (2), and Arlo (8 months). 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.

Ahhhh. Summertime.  We aren’t doing anything structured for homeschooling over the summer, but it is wonderful to see how unschooling (or chasing the spark) can play out on these long summer days.

Parties and Outdoor Play:

Lucy planned an Epic food fight battle for her 8 year old party.
So fun! We did three rounds – breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Each round had a specific food and challenge. Thanks to some other mom tips online, it went off with out a hitch.

So silly and fun.

A letter Lucy wrote to her future self, with instructions to mom to give it to her on her 8th B-day.

Trying out her new penny board with some pro tips from friend Calvin.

June backyard pool party vibes…

And garden sketching and reading (also notice the Hidden Valley Ranch because they made themselves a salad from the garden as a snack – ha ha ha)

Rolling down the hills races at the University

Exploring the new city “stained glass” park!

First swing ride for Arlo-man (and the photo that motivated mama to give him his first haircut ha ha!)

Robots Galore:

Lucy got several Robot kits for her birthday. She LOVES robots. Her current obsession is trying to figure out how to get all her robots to do her chores for her. Hmmmm…..

Audio Books/Read Alouds:

We have recently “discovered” audio books (thank you read aloud revival audio deals!). Here are a couple we enjoyed this month – (Tim read Harry Potter book two out loud – so wonderful to get to relive these with our kids – and we have loved these Jim Kay illustrated versions)

 

Lucy dressed up at Mary Poppins

Outer Space:

The only “theme” we played with this month was planets and outer space. We used some Pinay Homeschool handouts and made polymer clay planets.

Lucy drew some stellar rocket ships

We enjoyed lots of space/aeronautic books from the library. I particularly LOVED the Armstrong and Lindbergh mouse adventures. Wonderful illustrations and stories – great sneaky histories for kids.

We also read Magic school bus in space

Did some planet play at the Windsor park

Circus Circus:

For Christmas this last year, Tim got the girls and me tickets to Cirque du Soleil’s “Luzia”. The whole show was about Mexico. It was utterly breathtaking. And so neat to be able to share with the girls after our Mexico study last October. I have seen a lot of their shows (and loved all of them) but this was by far my favorite.

I mean, they made it rain on stage – utterly magical.

Some Papel Picado inspired backdrop.

And then some fun circus books from the library

Lone Valley School:

Greeley has a historic park called Centennial Village that is run by the greeley museums. The two older girls participated in a day camp there at the beginning of June called Lone Valley School. They loved it. Lots of old fashioned activities and fun.

They were so into it that the second day they insisted on wearing period specific costumes.

Here is a photo of the old fashioned school house and some of the drills from their primers.

Morning breaks consisted of time playing old fashioned games like stilt walking and ring toss.

Making and Baking:

Fort building around the dining room table.

Marionette dragon making activity at the library

Lucy really wanted to invent a recipe and bake it. So, with a little help/suggestions from mama, here is her recipe she came up with “Lucy’s Mini Cupcaks”. They turned out surprisingly delicious!!

Dino Days:

Tim took the girls to Dinosaur days at the Colorado Model Railroad Museum

Art:

Lucy has really been honing her portrait/drawing from life skills. This is a drawing she did of Tim while he was reading Harry Potter out loud.

And here is Harriet’s wonderful “portrait” of her imaginary friend “Twinklebell”

Clay can get pretty messy, so summer is the perfect time to play with ceramics since we can do it outside.

Dance Recital:

Lucy and Harriet both danced in their studios annual dance recital.

Celebrating with ice cream in the park afterwards.

Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild:

Our best friends lent us their Nintendo switch at our house for the month. We are not really a gaming family, but we have loved all of the Zelda games since the very beginning. It has been so fun to play this incredible game as a family. It is breathtakingly beautiful and so fun – rock climbing, cooking, and so so much world to explore. So, we had to have a real life Zelda adventure as well… Everyone will be a little sad to return the switch next month.

January’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.

This month for our homeschooling adventures, we focused on three main themes – SNOW, CHINA, and BIRDS (as well as lots of other side projects and studies). I love how January can feel a bit slower after the craziness of the holidays. January also feels like a nice long month which affords the time to really dig in. Being able to learn alongside my children has been such a joy this month. I have loved being exposed to new poetry, learning the stories behind the Chinese New Year celebrations, understanding better why we use salt to melt ice, and so much more. Spending days in and out with these sparkly little souls is such a gift. Here is a photo journal of our January days. Enjoy! (and if you have any questions about any of the supplies/books/projects etc, please let me know! )

Snow Week:

Our first exploration for the month of January was everything SNOW. Read Aloud Revival posted a great booklist where we pulled a lot of our inspiration for this week. We particularly loved “Snowflake Bentley”, “The Story of Snow”, and the Robert Frost poem so beautifully illustrated by Susan Jeffres (one of my all time favorite illustrators) –
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We started off our snow study with a series of science experiments – what happens to the temperature/mass/volume of snow/water/ice after time and the addition of salt?

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Once we had a better understanding of the WHY behind how salt effects snow temperatures, we had to of course try making our own ice cream using snow and salt. We basically followed these directions. It was pretty delicious.
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After reading all about Snowflake Bentley, we tried our hand at taking some snow crystal photographs using my little macro lens for the iPhone. Here is one of Lucy’s photos.

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Following along with the scientific mindset, we have been charting the winter sky with paint (and the intention of making these into tiny quilts)

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And charting the winter temperatures… (reading thermometers, bar graphs, F vs. C, etc!)

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CHINA Week:

As we continued our passport and coloring map tour around the world, we took a week this month to head to China! Here are the girls coloring on our giant world map.

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The kids particularly enjoyed looking at all of Tim and my old photos and souvenirs  from our 2008 trip we took to China.

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We celebrated the Chinese New Year in style with lots of unusual candies and treats that we picked out from our local Asian market –

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Lucy helped orchestrate the making of a Chinese dragon and a lantern parade –

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We painted Chinese calligraphy signs for good luck and made Chinese lantern decorations –

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And did our best to wear authentic Chinese dress –

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Harriet: “Mom? Where do pandas sleep?”
Me: “I think in trees”
…And then I find this after the kids have gone to bed –

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We mailed Chinese postcards to friends
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And enjoyed so many fun books about China – our favorites were the “Moonbeams, Dumplings, and Dragon Boats” book, and the Tintin graphic novel “The Blue Lotus”
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BIRD Week:

This last week of January has been all about birds.
Learning the names of the birds that come to our bird feeder, sketching birds, listening to birdsongs, etc.

November Ideas and Activities around the Theme “Bread”

For this entire year I’ve been doing an at home curriculum with the family (Lucy 6, Hattie 4, Beatrice 1). Tim and I call the project “Abacus” and we’re sharing it each month for the fun, challenge, and community of it. Each month we choose a theme and then come up with a bunch of activities around that theme. Read all about how to use this list and our heart behind this project here.
Explore past months themes here.

Our theme this month is “Bread.” To me it is a month of reflection and purposeful simplifying of habits. “Bread” is about that which sustains us. Bread is foundational and simple. Yet speaks deeply of home and family. I want this month to be about three things – ritual, simplicity, and giving. Sometimes it is the everyday routines that are most beautiful. The activities repeated over and over again until they almost become prayers. I just read this little snippet from a book I am reading and love how it is put –


“We do chores twice each day, 7 days each week, 365 days each year. Where we live there’s nothing unusual about this; many of our neighbors adhere to similar schedules, and have for half a century or more. Sometimes I consider the math: Twice daily multiplied by 365 is 730, multiplied by fifty years is….36,500. Thirty-six thousand chore times. It is almost impossible for me to fathom, it feels insurmountable. But of course it is not. Sometimes, chores are just chores: haul the water, throw the hay, run the fence. Cold, hot, wet, dry. Hurried. But often, I think of chores the way I suspect some people think of a practice – meditation, or yoga, or a prayer. Maybe aikido or a musical instrument. I like to think of chores this way; it seems to give me license to sink into them, to inhabit them in a way that would otherwise elude me.”

From Home Grown by Ben Hewitt

For us these daily rituals are making beds, morning coffee, feeding the animals (birds, bunny, and cat), preparing meals, a quiet walk around the block before dinner, reading together at bedtime, cleaning up the house after kids are asleep, and ending the day with a cup of tea in the rocking chairs on the front porch – I want to dig in to these simple practices this month.

NOVEMBER Dates to Take Note of:

November 1st – All Saints Day
November 3rd – Election Day
November 11th – Veteran’s Day
November 26th – Thanksgiving Day

Local: Greeley, CO events:

November 6th – My “Becoming” Art Show! (At the Atlas Gallery)
November 28th – Indie Arts Greeley Winter Market at Atlas Theater
November 20th – Becoming CD and Art Release Party at Atlas Theater

 

HOME & KITCHEN:

A purposeful slowing down and simplifying –
not buying as much,
not driving as much,
looking at our devices less,
getting rid of clutter,
eating simpler,
not planning as much.

Put flannel sheets on the beds and get out the cozy pajamas and house slippers.

 

 

Read this article called “Bread is Broken” about the Bread Lab – and find some heirloom wheat varieties to sample

Weekly bread baking – be ritualistic about this. Be able to make our loaf from memory and hone it down to a family recipe. Make the girls part of this ritual – kneading, punching down dough, taste testing.

Here is my families favorite bread recipe. It is called Rabbit Hill Oatmeal Bread. My parents had it on their honeymoon on the east coast and it has been a family favorite ever since. It is a rich caramel brown bread that smells deeply of molasses and home. Slather it with extra butter and eat it warm with no adornments needed.
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My father always does a reading before any special meal. Tim and I have come to love this book called Common Prayer. Each day follows the same liturgy as it takes you through 365 days of reflection, with additional prayers for special events like moving into a new home, losing a loved one, or holidays.

 

MAKE:

Showcase pressed leaves and the last remnants of autumn by making these lovely sun catchers.
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We started a tradition last year called the Thankful Tree Table Altar a beautiful idea conceptualized by our friend Greg Nordin. – Each day we each add a leaf to the tree of something we are thankful for. It is a lovely centering family activity.
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Get out the Knitting and quilting baskets

Make these simple useful baskets from clothesline
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OUTSIDE:

Rake leaves just to jump in them
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Thanksgiving mixes – for us, Thanksgiving/November music is old hymns, warm crackly records, and layered folk voices. Every year we make a themed playlist. Here is one favorite from 2006 –

BOOKS:

We have recently discovered that books about food, like Dragons Love Tacos, provide great inspiration for getting our very picky eaters to try new foods and enjoy meals. Now I just need someone to illustrate a really thrilling book about broccoli….
Pick a book, make a meal around it, and read the book while eating it.
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Anticipation of the first snow Books:
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For me – The Life Changing Practice of Tidying Up
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Several people have recommended books recently about simplicity living – clearing out clutter. One idea that stuck out to me challenged you to ask three questions when evaluating whether to keep something or not. “Is it beautiful?” “Is it useful?” or “Does it bring you joy?” If the answer is not “yes” to any of those, than it is time for it to move on.  I am giving myself a challenge of Weekly filling a tub to donate to a thrift store. Areas of attack:

Kids Clothes
Basement Storage
Games and Toys
Kitchen Extras
Knick knacks and decorative items

Speaking of donations, I want to spend more time this month donating time, money. and food to places that need it. Always baking an extra loaf of bread to send with a friend, participating in a food or coat or toy drive, and finding ways to bring the girls into the acts of giving as well.
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Time to get baking. Happy November!

June Ideas and Activities Around the Theme “Collection”

Giants and Pilgrims’ “Abacus” is a creative home curriculum centered on a monthly theme. This month’s theme is Collection! All the bits and pieces that make up a whole, taxonomy, pressed flowers, and collected works of literature, poetry, and music. We wanted a theme that lent itself to playing outside, picking flowers, and long evening walks.

Read all about how to use this list and our heart behind this project here.

Below is our comprehensive activities list. Choose a couple to do with your kids to enrich the month or try to accomplish the whole list! What would you add? I would love to hear your ideas and plans for the month.

Dates in June to take note of/celebrate:

 June 14 = Flag Day
June 21 = Summer Solstice & Father’s Day

Our List of “Collection” Activities:

SCIENCE:

Learn about Scientific Naming and taxonomy.
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A perfect way to go about that seems to be to make a little collection of pressed flowers


Learn about Curiosity Cabinets and make one – I will probably pick up some old drawers from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore and we will use the magic of hot glue to put it together.
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Looking at curiosity cabinets ties in nicely with the art of Joseph Cornell and his shadow boxes
 

GEOGRAPHY:

In celebration of Flag day, look at all the different flags from around the world, and sew our own flags to put on the treehouse (or summer club house of sorts).
(For slightly older kids, the book Swallows & Amazons, is great)

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Speaking of the treehouse, we want to have our second annual sleep over out there – enjoying the sounds of the night, the stars, and the summer air.
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Take lots of lovely summer evening walks – and find little treasures.
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I used some old letterpress trays I had laying around to make our “Collection” themed wall. My plan is to fill up the wall with all sorts of found treasures over the course of the month.

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HISTORY:

Have mom share some of her love of button collecting with the girls. So many tidbits of history and folklore. The buttons have so many stories to tell. Check out her fun etsy shop here. She is also about to release a new site called “House of Button” that should be pretty neat.
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Visit the Build Frontiers exhibit at the Greeley History Museum (and of course play with legos)
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ART/CRAFT:

Draw lots of collections of tiny items (hopefully we will be making these into a calendar that will be available here!)

Visit the Denver Art museum (now free for kids) to see the collected works of Joan Miro exhibit with studio time (through June 28) (we didn’t make it last month, so I thought I would roll it over 🙂
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Last month at Denver Union Station I saw a little collection of hand cut paper silhouettes. I think I am going to start my own collection of them. Isn’t this fabulous!
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For that matter, I also want to continue adding to my collection of tiny art – I love this because they are small, I can afford originals of some of my favorite artists. Note to my artist friends, I would really love to curate our own version of the “Enormous Tiny Art Show” if anyone is interested 🙂
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Revisit the Collection a Day blog that Lisa Congdon did in 2010 – this is just lovely to browse through and get inspiration from.

Documenting:

Jump back into our Journaling – specifically using my sister Katie’s awesome tiny squares method. She just adds one each day, or to capture a little moment she wants to remember. #documenteachday
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PLAY:

Have a tea party with using my teacup collection – probably for Lucy’s 6 year old woodland fairy birthday!
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MUSIC:

Listen to Ars Moriendi by The Collection
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The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra – Moonrise Kingdom
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Curate a Curiosity Cabinet Playlist

WATCH:

Indiana Jones
We Bought a Zoo

READ:

I want to read tons and tons. That is what summer is about for me. Lazy days filled with quiet reading.
We will definitely be participating in our libraries summer reading program. Their theme this year is “Super Heros”.

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For Grown Ups:
Collected famous stories – I am really interested in trying out some of this curated list from Powell Books.
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This list also has some I would love to read –
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For Kids:

Read Collections of Nursery Rhymes, short stories, and poems

Read the Borrowers by Mary Norton (they collect all the tiny things we don’t use)

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Read lots of books from Jan Brett’s extensive collection and then go to her show at the Fort Collins Contemporary Art Museum.banner_Brett-2015

ABACUS: “Letters” Project Round UP

(Above image is from a Greeley mural created by Wes Bruce.)

The theme for this month’s Abacus project is “Letters” (ABACUS is our creative home curriculum centered on a theme). I am excited to share where we have been going with it!  To see the whole list of projects we came up with (and resources!) check out our original post, here.  It’s been a lovely way to spend February.

The first thing we did was to get out all sorts of lettering sheets and make a poster for the month with all our ideas and plans. We had a fun time experimenting with different fonts and styles. I got pretty into this too and had a great time addressing all our valentine envelopes with different fonts. Ridiculous, I know. But so fun.

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Here are a couple of awesome vintage charts I found that you could print out and play with. Ah, the lost art of lovely handwriting.
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Lucy wrote a letter to her first pen-pal.
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We haven’t had a chance to set up letter writing stations around town yet, but we’re planning on doing it soon! We are also still hoping to take a visit to the local Post Office and have a tour (we did go and pick out some stamps on our last etsy mailing errand).

We started illustrating our own animal alphabet book. Its destined to be a classic.

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Tim took a brisk alphabet-photo-walk with Lucy where they found all the letters in the alphabet.
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Speaking of photos, I have been loving participating in the annual Atlas photo a day challenge on instagram.
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Lots of mail has been made and delivered around here, thanks to these cute little mailboxes we picked up for $3 at target and customized.

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Been listening to lots of this album, as well as our ABC playlist (still to come).

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We started a little stamp collection by printing out some of these pages – http://stamps.org/userfiles/file/albums/2014-Issues.pdf and putting them in a three ring binder. Any time we got a letter this month with stamps on it we add them to our stamp “album”. Hattie (who’s 3) in particular has loved this.

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Lucy has been enjoying playing these typing games on the computer.

Tim spent a morning teaching the girls about addresses. I later received this sweet, sweet letter. Keeping it forever 🙂

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A “letters” tie in that I had not anticipated has been my set-design work for Frontier Academy elementary school. One of my close friends asked me to design the set for their show called “Knights of Dawn” (its from one of the Magic Treehouse books). We did a literary theme by constructing the whole thing from oversize pages of the text and old books. Lots of “letters”! 🙂 The girls have loved it.
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Finally, we did a whole “Secret Spy” day that was pretty epic. It involved “lasers”, a spy course, and a top secret code. Read about the whole thing here.
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Share your projects on our facebook group!

– See more ideas at: http://s28969.p27.sites.pressdns.com/abacus-letters-a-creative-curriculum-list-for-february/#sthash.l90fvSMi.dpuf

If you want more info about this whole Abacus project, start here.

To jump in and connect with other families and share what you are working on, join our Abacus facebook group.

Or, to connect see our whole list of Letters project suggestions and resources list, head over here.

Why I Let My Kids Paint on My Artwork

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I’ve been letting my kids paint on my artwork.

Honestly, sometimes it makes a giant mess. Elements I spent hours working on can quickly get covered with pink flowers and drawings of little girls or giant scribbles. I try to leave much of what they add and incorporate it into my final design. My “Ships Passing in the Night” painting (below) has Lucy’s (5 y/o) versions of sea creatures at the bottom, “Ferocious” is covered with Harriet’s (2 y/o) scribbles.

So why do I let my kids paint on my artwork? It is something I have been very purposeful about and is a meaningful element in our story. Here are some of the reasons behind my process:

1. Letting go of control. I love how by letting my children add to my pieces it adds an element of chaos. It forces me to be open to directions that I had not planned. When I intend for a piece to be a certain way and then my daughter adds a giant splotch of pink in the corner, I have to learn to be flexible. It forces me to think creatively about where the piece I am painting is meant to go.

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2. Balancing motherhood and being a working artist is hard.
Finding time to paint (or for that matter do a load of laundry) is difficult to say the least. It has been a priority of mine to find ways to keep fostering my own creative voice and growing as an artist. One of the ways I found to make that happen is to let my kids paint along side me when I paint – whether on their own projects or on mine. (This does lead to lots of messes, which sometimes doesn’t feel worth it, but I figure in 10 years I won’t remember the mess)

3. I genuinely love what they add. Whether it is tiny doodles drawn on the backside of the canvases, or drawings they have done that I collage in, there is something beautifully refreshing about the way kids draw. Their sense of line is so free. Kids draw the way they live life – free from inhibition. I think it’s a fun little surprise that when you buy one of my originals you will often find a sweet little drawing on the backside as well.
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4. Getting unstuck. When I can’t figure out what to do next, or why something is not working, letting two little hands come in and shake things up can be amazingly freeing. Whether it helps me realize which elements were most important or introduces fresh ideas, when my kids add to my canvases, change and movement is inevitable.

5Because it is true. This crazy whirlwind that I live in right now with a five-year-old, an almost 3-year-old, and the new baby on the way, is part of the story I am creating art about. For me making art is a process of sharing what’s true and what moves you. Hopefully, within that there are some universal truths to be found that others connect with and are moved by as well. I let my kids into my artistic process because it is a true representation of my story right now. I believe in including them into my art rather than separating them from what I do.

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If you’d like to see the finished pieces from Almanac No. 1, they’re all here.

For more artistic inspiration, here is a link to another mother-daughter collaboration that I think is awesome!

-Betony Coons