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December 2017 Adventures in Homeschooling

Last year 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.

Cardboard Fun:

With all the Christmas shipments (and a couple of new tool purchases for art projects), we found ourselves with an awesome stash of large cardboard boxes.

As well as revisiting this favorite book –

We made all sorts of fun structures.

A castle with multiple rooms and a draw bridge –

A gingerbread house –

Handmade Gifts:

We had a lot of fun making homemade gifts this year. For grandparents, the kids designed and made wood cut out paintings. It was neat listening to them decide what image to make for each person. A fish for grandpa ed because he loves painting, a pie for grandmama because she is the queen of pie making, a girl with a dress for grandma DiDi because she loves buying little girl’s dresses, etc.

As part of our science club, we made bath bombs. So easy and fun! Next time I want to try hiding little surprises in the middle!

Bookclub! A Step back in History…

Our homeschool bookclub is turning into this magical much anticipated event. This month we read Benjamin West and his cat Grimalkin by Marguerite Henry. A historical fiction story about the father of American painting.

We experimented with making our own colors our of clay and charcoal, made quill pens out of turkey feathers, and practice life drawings of cats.

We feasted on homemade porridge at the “Door Latch Inn”

And even tried Peas with Honey (a funny reference from the books)

And learned how to play Blindman’s Bluff

Some Tinkering Engineering Play:

Hydraulics, robotics, and engineering. What a fun world we live in. So many cool topics to explore and neat things to make. And so thankful for grandparents gift subscriptions, uncles sending cool robots, and libraries sharing their resources.

Homemaking & Home Baking:

We have started having one day a month of learning about simple home making skills – how to fold laundry, how to iron, things like that.

We didn’t make huge batches of Christmas cookies for neighbors this year because our kitchen was torn up for most of December (an unexpected dishwasher replacement) and an expected and much anticipated new countertop and backsplash!

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But when it was finally done, we broke the new kitchen in with a glorious sugar cookie explosion of awesomeness with the help of Grandma DiDi.

Snapshots of Christmas Goodness:

I love this time of year so much it makes my heart hurt. Here are a few moments from December that I want to remember.

   

New Years Eve:

Instead of heading to KS this year, we had a little staycation (and played ALOT of Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey) and then had a fun night with friends on New Years Eve

Happy New Year Friends! May your 2018 be as fresh and beautiful as these paper whites, but hopefully not nearly as stinky.

February Practice and Process: “Balm”

(image is from a Chinese cloisonné painting factory we visited in China 2008)

In creating our new project, Bellwether (an art series and album due winter 2016) we’ve decided to share what we’re doing each month before it’s released.
We’re calling these posts “practice and process“.

They will detail the spiritual/life practice we’re doing,
give a look at our in-process art that we’re creating in response,
and then include a whole host of resources and activities! (like the new desktop wallpaper, book/music/movie lists, recipes, explorations for kids, etc. This is so as a entire family we can engage in this year’s exploration of “belief” we’re calling Bellwether. 

FEBRUARY Theme: BALM

February is in the heart of winter, close to the edge of a hope for spring. And with Valentine’s Day sitting in the month we’ve often treated February as a time to put into words the way we feel about the ones we deeply love. It’s a way to warm up the cold. We’ve chosen our theme of “balm” with some of these lines drawn.

Practice:

The very definition of balm is “something that has a comforting, soothing, or restorative effect.”

This month we are

  1. exploring what service looks like for our family. We want to start being restorative in an intentional way. For us that looks like partnering with a local charity called “Turn Around Bikes”. They restore donated bikes and give them to people in need. Honestly, since having children we’ve had a hard time being consistent and feeling effective when it comes to giving of ourselves in this kind of way. We’re open to getting better at service. Furthermore, it’s our hope to instill a great sense of compassion in our children. This is at least a first step.
  2. For our second spiritual/life practice we’re setting up a table altar like we did last month. This time before dinner we’ll be praying for people in need of “balm” or some extra love and care. Then on Mondays we’ll be writing and mailing postcards, sending that love out in words.

Here is a really cool free printable postcard designed by our friend Kyle Steed, if you’re needing a great design:

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Process:

Tim is working on recording a song called “There is a Balm in Gilead” this month while I’m gathering ideas and paper tidbits for the overall series.

Resources for “Balm”:

FEBRUARY Dates to Take Note of:

February 7th – Superbowl 50 (with the *ahem*, Denver Broncos! Bake these, I promise you won’t regret it.)
February 8th – Chinese New Year (year of the monkey!) – We love to celebrate by ordering Chinese takeout and reliving our China trip 🙂
February 9th – Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday – we love to listen to this sweet mix curated by Starbucks
February 10th – Ash Wednesday
February 14th – Valentine’s Day
February 15th – President’s Day
February 17th –  Random Acts of Kindness Day
February 28th – The Oscars

Local: Greeley, CO events:

February 5th (and up through the end of the month) – Soundscape a group art show at the Atlas Theater that pairs music and art (right up our alley don’t you think?)
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February 27th – Tim and Charla are opening for the lead singer of Everclear at the MOXI theater!
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Let me know if you have other fun Greeley events I should add to this calendar!

EXPLORATIONS:

Here in Greeley, CO we have had just buckets and buckets of snow. We haven’t seen the ground since December 1st. I don’t even remember what it looks like. During winters like this, I think the best possible plan of action is to find a warm tropical greenhouse to visit. Usually we make a trip to the Butterfly pavilion. This year, I am thinking we are going to visit the Orchid Showcase (Jan. 8-Feb 22) at the Denver Botanical Gardens.
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Participate in Turnaround bikes workshops this month and other service related activities.

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Make a visit to the Cranford Cove to get a new selection of looseleaf teas to enjoy this month.

Speaking of tea, the girls and I are planning a lovely Valentine’s tea party with lots of tiny delicacies, fancy china, and, of course, hats and dresses.
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ART:

Spend some time digging into Picasso’s works and share with the girls.
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Their are some really fun art activities in this book.
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Make all sorts of homemade valentines

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READING lists:

Here are some of the kid’s books I have on reserve at the library this month. I was looking for books that deal with Compassion. I would love to hear your recommendations if you have any.

The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes, Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson, The Invisible Boy by Patrice Barton, The Lion and the Mouse,  and A Sick Day for Amos Mcgee

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I am also reading The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane out loud to Lucy. It is an absolute favorite of ours. The themes are nested in kindness and compassion and the journey of self-discovery. It’s a good one for adults too.
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Mary Oliver poetry books – these are ABSOLUTELY balm to my soul.
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As a little personal “balm” against the dreariness of February, I love to order my garden seeds. (my favorite is Baker Heirloom Seeds – just reading their catalog is therapeutic)
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LISTEN:

Oxygen by Willy Mason. The video is only ok, but the song is so good.

This Great Valentines Mix curated by Personal Practice

August “Newspaper” Round Up

Rather than posting pictures of all the activities we have done this month around the “Newspaper” theme, I thought I would instead share this simple photo journal of our tiny home newspaper we created. We will definitely be doing this again, it was such a fun project. Watch for a second edition of Coons Delivery! Almost everything was done by the girls – from naming the paper, to choosing the stories, telling the stories (they dictated as I typed), to the layout and page design (with a little technical help from mama), the photographs, and the illustrations. Enjoy!

Here is a pdf of the finished paper so you can read their adorable stories:
The Coons Delivery

Giants and Pilgrims’ “Abacus” is a creative home curriculum centered on a monthly theme. Click here to check out the original list of Newspaper ideas.IMG_6620
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July Ideas and Activities Around the Theme “Maps”

With kids’ school schedules, university classes being over, and activities like dance classes taking a break, July is and always will be the ultimate road trip month. Our theme for our home curriculum this month is “MAPS” – think places to go, atlases, globes, searching for treasure, and charts of imaginary lands. With 4th of July celebrations and their historical roots, what better time to explore this vast and rich country we live in? It is about putting on our explorer caps, blaring some road trip tunes, and charting out adventure.

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

Below is our comprehensive MAPS 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.

July Dates to Take Note of:

July 4th – Independence Day

Local Greeley, CO events:

Concert under the Stars – July 8th at the UNCO Garden Theater

Neighborhood Nights in July (Movies/picnics at city parks in greeley) – Muppets Most Wanted, Big Hero 6, The Lego Movie

Greeley Arts Picnic – July 25 and 26

Taste of Windsor – July 16

 

HISTORY:

Tell the stories of Independence day on the 4th of July and of course enjoy fireworks

We will be heading on a family music/art tour to Wisconsin. On our way, we plan on visiting the Nebraska and Iowa state capitals – hoping to make this a family tradition as we visit new states. Is there a state capitol somewhere near that you could visit? Or at least talk about what state capitols are.

Learn about some of the great explorers – Magellan, Columbus, Lewis & Clark, etc.

Maybe this book would be a fun way to learn about these explorers?

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Also want to check out this one (its illustrations alone look incredible)
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Look at trains and modes of transportation (hot air balloons anyone?)
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Along with that, learn how to play Ticket to Ride, which I have heard is a great game.
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ART:

Do straw paintings of fireworks
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Paint a treasure map (Image from here) – I particularly like using parchment paper and burning the edges. Just makes it even more, you know, pirate-y. A link to a map we made a couple years ago: Here .
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Create a 3D map of our neighborhood like this sweet milk box one.

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Try making something like this great wall hanging interactive map from The Handmade Home

MUSIC:

Listen to our Road Trip playlist

Listen to our Stars and Stripes playlist

Sufjian stevens – Michigan and Illinois
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John Phillips Sousa

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Make a States playlist? What songs could you use for each of the 50 states?!

MOVIES:

Goonies, Pirates of the Caribbean, Cars (Route 66), Around the World in 80 Days
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READ:

Treasure Island – Robert Louise Stevenson
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SCIENCE:

Look at constellation maps (there is a great printable one here

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and make pin poke constellation maps

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Learn about Planets and maps of our solar system – maybe make a model
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Make maps of the human body

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PLAY:

 and go on an imaginary expedition

Play the old zelda – with map
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IN THE CAR:

Follow routes on a road atlas

Play the license plate game – or some of these other great car games

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Learn about distances

GEOGRAPHY:

Spend a lot of time looking at the Maps book by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Activity companion – it is really beautifully done.
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Do the State Map Puzzle we picked up at the Habitat Store (kind of like this one)

Also, cut up an old atlas and make these out of some of those freebie rectangle magnets you get from real estate agents…
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Play with Compasses and Map Keys
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Learn our state flower, bird, reptile, etc.

Look at elevation maps

“Stretch” Round up of our Month of May

May seems like it has gone pretty fast. This was the first month where it felt like we got a bit derailed from our plan. On the same hand, we did have some pretty memorable experiences and moments. And May, with its finish lines and wraps ups is just kind of like that. So bring on summer we say!

 Giants and Pilgrims’ “Abacus” is a creative home curriculum centered on a monthly theme. This month’s theme was STRETCH. Read the whole list of ideas here.

Here is our run down of the month :

On May 1st, Tim and the girls kept up our fabulous tradition of May Day baskets – complete with Bacon bouquets (which are so weird and so awesome at the same time)

Coons family celebrate May Day

May the Fourth was celebrated by all with an epic Star Wars movie night and pizza.

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I had really wanted to get into some better practices as a family with our physical activity. We did an OK (but not great) job following this little calendar of days. I would say we maybe did 1/3rd of the days. But hey, better than nothing. And at the end of this month, I started running with Run Atlas Run a practice that I have absolutely loved and hope to keep up all summer.
May weekly workout
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Someone is working harder here than the others…
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We still haven’t had a chance to run at an outdoor track, partly because every time I suggest it the girls are stinkers about it, but I have high hopes that they will enjoy it more than they think they will. We’ll get there…

We watched the Karate Kid – which I had never seen before. So great!! Now I finally get the Cobra Kai reference of a t-shirt I have had for the last 8 years…
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We made lots of oozy gooey slime – great “stretchy” fun. I still want to try to make bouncy balls and silly putty.

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Slime making adventures from www.giantsandpilgrims.com

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One morning we made rubber band instruments. Lucy got a stick and played hers like a violin.

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One Friday we took a family trip to Fort Collins and had a wonderful time trying out different instruments and learning all about the properties of sound at the Fort Collins Children’s Museum of Discovery.

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This was a neat “build your own horn” station

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Here is Harriet playing an electronic drum kit

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Lucy trying out an electric guitar

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The kids’ highlight from the day was the “Tornado Chamber.” We kept losing Harriet and then finding her in it.
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When I was a kid, I specifically remember LOVING the shadow wall at the Children’s museum in Wichita, KS. I was so excited that they had one in Fort Collins. Basically it flashes a bright light and then your shadow is captured on the wall. It feels very Peter Pan.
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It was a good day.

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Someone else did some musical experiments of their own.

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We read Twistable Turnable Man, finally finished the Secret Garden, started”Ballet Shoes”, plus all sorts of other “Stretch” related books we picked up at the library this month. Now if I could just find that stupid “Train Travel” book before I have to pay for it at the library. Dang it.

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We went on a pretty epic adventure by train. 

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 We of course had to make a wall installation of our “Stretch” activities. I didn’t particularly like how my drawing turned out so I let Harriet color all over it. Which made it much more awesome.

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Our other “Stretch” themed art projects kind of fell by the wayside, but we did have a lovely afternoon playing with clay. We made little nests with eggs and necklace pendants. IMG_4225

Thanks for playing!! See you on the other side in June with some “Collections!”

-Betony

April Abacus: Grow

April: Grow

Giants and Pilgrims’ “Abacus” is a creative home curriculum centered on a monthly theme. This month’s theme is GROW!
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 April to take note of/celebrate:

April 3rd = Good Friday
April 5th = Easter
April 15th = Tax Day
April 15th = Holocaust Remembrance Day
April 22 = Earth Day
April 24th = Arbor Day

Greeley Calendar (if you are local):

Baby Animal Days at Centennial Village
April 3-12, from 9 a.m.-noon and 1-3 p.m.
Admission: $2.50/person for ages 3+

City of Greeley Easter Egg Hunt at Lincoln Park
Saturday, April 4th, 10 am, Ages 0-12

Northern Colorado Children’s Festival, Saturday April 11th
Island Grove Event Center, 10am-3pm

Our List of “Grow” Activities:

Garden:

Grow CD case sprouts
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Let the girls each pick out a seed packet of flowers to grow in their garden (last year we made them a small raised bed of their own.)
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Plant all our garden seeds, clear out beds and planters, and tend them well.
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Play:

Grow a baby pool full of water beads. We have played with these before and they are Oh so fun.
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Read:

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
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And color and play with this “Secret Garden” book by Johanna Basford

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Check out a stack of garden books from the library

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Home:

Sew a little garden quilt (Lucy has been begging me to teach her how to sew her own quilt.) We will make a very simple checkerboard one. Hopefully the perfect size for a picnic in the grass. Something like this: (although knowing Lucy it will be pink pink pink with a dash of purple).
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Start a homemade braided rug – first involves making lots of scrap balls. I am going to use the directions from a Handmade Home by Amanda Soule. I’m thinking this will be a great way to manage my fabric scraps that have been building up. I will definitely sort by color in some way…
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Make a paper Tree to put on our wall to decorate and add to.

Build:

Make our own artistic rendering of a Grow chart. There are all sorts of DIY for simple ruler ones on the internet, but I particularly like this one from Brooklyn Limestone.

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Make this garden archway for the entrance to our garden:
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Science:

Grow bacteria cultures and maybe a bread mold lab
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And since I’m starting a science lab, what about using cultures to make my own cheese? Or maybe keep it simple and try this one

Learn more about the Human body – how hair grows, cell growth, etc.
Lucy has been loving Magic school bus (this episode about the body in particular)
Any other book recommendations for kids about the body?
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Make our growing crystal tree (only 2.99 here) I picked up at Moon Marble Mayhem.

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Microwave Ivory Soap (if you haven’t tried this already, it’s fabulous and GROWS like crazy.) Then, what to do with it…. hmmmm…snowman-soap-experiment-step-2

Listen to:

Ravel’s Bolero (he takes one theme and grows it)
Our April Showers playlist
The Secret Garden Broadway Soundtrack

Math:

Learn about money and how accounts can “grow”
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Learn about measuring and rulers

History:

Visit the Greeley History Museum and learn about how towns grow

Outside:

Dig for worms and learn about animal regeneration

Work on a new outdoor activity skill (Lucy riding without training wheels, Hattie pedaling, me running)

Visit a Garden center (in greeley, we love Eaton Gardens and Happy Life Gardens)

Pick wild asparagus – we went out last week and found some, but it wasn’t quite big enough. But it is there! If you aren’t in CO, what grows native in your area that you can forage for?

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Watch:

Peter Pan (never grow up)
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Art:

Paint on terra cotta pots

Introduce the kids to plein air painting (maybe on a nature trail somewhere, or at a garden center?)

Abacus “Spectrum” Round Up

And there it goes, March is ending already. Spring is here!

I have found doing these round-up posts really helpful for me. It’s funny how I will feel so behind and like we haven’t “done” anything. But then, as I start to compile images from the month, it amazes me just how much we managed to pack in. I’ve found it to be such a nice way of keeping track of our days. I highly recommend it 🙂 The theme for this month’s Abacus project was “Spectrum” (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 March full of color.

Lots of rainbow drawing and experiments with color (Hattie (3) jumped fully into being an artist herself this month, rather than just observing):
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Beatrice and I happened on a Marble factory with glass blowing demonstrations near Kansas City, called Moon Marble Company. We of course had to bring a few home with us. Each one is such a tiny world of light and color.
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We started seeds indoors – mini red bell peppers and more (all from the glorious Baker Creek Seed Company). They are enjoying the sunshine of our window seat. All of now come up!

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The city of Greeley is doing a whole lot of awesome lego themed events in anticipation of “Build Frontiers” coming to the Greeley history museum in June. We can’t wait! This week we went to a lego event at the library and also a whole art show of lego builds (Amazing rainbow lego tree house was made by the lovely Natalie Mash – part of the lego show at the Tointon Gallery).
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We had a very “iridescent” morning making black rainbow paper (super fun, just need clear nail polish and black paper!) and giant bubbles. Thank goodness for sunshiny days.
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Speaking of colors, we painted our very dark living room a lovely fresh shade of light blueish gray. “After” pictures still coming.
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And, of course, sorted all the “things” by color. (I found these spools at a thrift store, does anyone know what they are for?)
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We played with lots of colorful musical notes.
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We harnessed the power of the sun to create Inkodye animal t-shirts.  More of these coming soon! I “might” have gotten so excited about this amazing new product that I bought all the colors…I actually have some SA-WEET zippered pouches in the works to sale here.
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The girls watched Wizard of Oz for the first time ever, and of course loved it. There were lots of discussions about future halloween costumes and who gets to be which character. Apparently I am the witch. Hmmmm….
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We ate the color spectrum for lunch one day.
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We also made these “favorite color” freezer paper shirts.
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Artist Kelly Cook and I completed our Spectrum themed sketchbook for The Sketchbook Project
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Harriet and I had a marvelous time one day making homemade play dough (my mom’s special recipe – which I will post someday) which we used to make rainbow cupcakes
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We played with prisms and sunshine.
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And finally, we whipped up a batch of Rainbow foam and had a “bike car wash”

That’s all folks! April’s theme is coming on Thursday!

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.

Abacus: “Spectrum”

Giants and Pilgrim “Abacus” is a creative home curriculum centered on a monthly theme. This month’s theme is Spectrum!
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 thing!

Also, a few March Dates to keep in mind as you are scheming fun activities-

Pi Day = March 14th (3.14…)
St. Patricks Day = Mar. 17
First day of Spring = Mar. 20th

March: Spectrum

Listen:

Ludwig Von Drake – The Spectrum Song (disney)

Red Roses for Blue Lady by Jack Morgan

Our Spectrum playlist! (coming later this month…)

This podcast on Spiral dynamics (For adults – not kids)

Movies:

Any of these films with an intensely distinctive color palette: Amelie, any Wes Anderson film, Nanny McPhee, Hero
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For St. Patricks Day:
The Secret of Roan Inish, and The Book of Kells
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The Wizard of Oz (For its transition from black and white to color)

Science:

Play with prisms

Learn about plants and how they process light

Steve Spangler St. Patrick’s Day Science Kit (we bought this a few years back and now get it out every year. It was super fun. I would highly recommend it. We are needing a few refills, but mostly it lasts quite a while)

Bees, Ultra violet and other colors off our visual spectrum – we are hoping to take a field trip out to Illuman Apiary’s bee hives if it gets warm enough.

This Cool Density “rainbow in a jar” experiment
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Take a trip to the Denver Natural History Museum – specifically to play with their infrared camera body scan
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Learn about eyes – Anatomy, Rods/Cones, etc

Adventure:

Make a Treasure Map  – Participate in our Isles of Green Adventure at the end of this month! (Here is last years)
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Books:

Adult Reads:

Red: The Red Tent by Anita Diamont

Orange: A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

Yellow: The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Green: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Blue: The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Purple: The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Kids:
Older kids –
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, The Giver by Louis Lowry
Younger –
Mix it Up by H. Tullet, Do You Know Colors by Katherine Howard, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do You See? by Eric Carle, The Day the Crayons Quit by Oliver Jeffres
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Art:

Freezer paper “Favorite Color” shirts
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Paint Color wheels/Learn about color mixing/Spin art
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Find some where to do a color coded Trash art installation like this –
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Make dip dyed cloth or paper (or tie dye!)
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Make layered paper jewelry

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Garden/Outside:

Make Garden cold frames (or as I like to call them, “mini-greenhouses”)

Seed Starts
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Visit the Wichita Botanical Gardens

Play with this:
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Kitchen:

Make homemade play dough – recipe coming soon 🙂

Eat the Rainbow – this could make a fun grocery store trip that maybe helps convince my kids to try eating a few vegetables.
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Make these edible rainbows –
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Play with rainbow foam
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Sort all the things by color (oh wait, I do that already…)

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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.

Introducing Giants & Pilgrims ABACUS: a creative home curriculum centered on a monthly theme!

I’m so excited to introduce one of Giants & Pilgrims new projects for 2015: ABACUS
Creative home curriculum centered on a monthly theme.

Isn’t that a fun word? Abacus. One of the things I have wanted to do for a while is to come up with a list of themed activities to center our home study/projects around. As a stay at home mom, I feel like our lives and days can get so scattered. Just this morning, in the course of 10 minutes I was asked 53 different questions. I seriously started counting. Can I have chocolate milk? Can I have two cereals? I want a cup! Can you pick me up? It’s amazing how much of an energy-drain parenting can be at times. Sometimes just getting everyone dressed and fed uses up all the energy I have. Trying to come up with creative engaging activities in addition to the normal chaos of life can feel like too much.

But, we want to live “the good life”. I want to tell a better story with our days. For me, ABACUS will be about focusing our projects and days into a cohesive journey. It’s about tying all the little bits and pieces together to create something beautiful.

The second inspiration for this project was my sister, Katie. She and her beautiful family, who we love so much, live in Canada- way too far away to visit as often as we would like. She is homeschooling her kids (Luca 5, Rose 3, and Remi 1). We wanted to find a way to connect as families and sisters by sharing our activity experiences. So, the idea of Abacus was born.

Essentially, the plan is this. Each month we will pick a theme and then create a whole list of activities that correspond to it – which will also coordinate with our Almanac theme. This first month’s theme is “Mountain.”

As we brainstorm our whole list of activities that correspond to the theme – hopefully you’ll add ideas as well on our new facebook page. We will publish a whole list for you to use however you see fit. For our family, we will be hanging a poster of the list with check marks in our family room. As we need activities to focus our days, we will choose projects off the list. No need to try to do everything, and they do not need to be completed in any particular order. Essentially, these are meant to be project “sparks.”

Finally, as an explorer of the world. I want to come along side my kids. I want to get excited about what we are working on and playing with together. So, within this list are some items and things that are for me (and parents). I’ve included books like “Into Thin Air” and “Born to Run” on our Mountain curriculum for myself, which have been on my reading list for a while. I plan on reading these during the month as my own little “Mountain” study.

Another piece that as a teacher I believe is very important is the journal. We’re calling these Adventure Logs! Starting this month, we bought simple blank sketchbooks for the kids. I keep these separate from the rest of their collection of notebooks and papers, because they are special. Any time we do something off the list, I try to incorporate a journal activity or reflection. So far its looked like sketches of mountains, Lucy’s visual interpretation of “the hall of the mountain king”, and a sketch of her pattern for a mountain pillow. Harriet’s has a page of practicing drawing “J’s” for “January. We make sure to date each entry. My hope is that these will be great pieces to come back to and remember our adventures by.

Oh, and one last thing. I made a sweet pinterest board to keep track of some of the fun, Mountain-themed projects I have come across in my research.


Ready to get started? Here is the first list –  
January 2015 “Mountain”