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March’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.

March has been a journey of “chasing the spark.” Lots of wonderful explorations lead by curiosity. March was about humor, and Egypt, and computer coding, and St. Patricks day, and musicals, and so much more. I am loving these simple full days with the people I love most. I love being able to share in the education of my children. I love that the world we live in is so rich and fascinating to explore. I love that in both the most mundane moments and the most extravagant they are still learning and growing. Tim and I have looked at each other so often in this last month and said “Man, I love our kids”. What a gift it is to be living out this story as a family.
Thanks for following along with us.

Coding & Quilting:

This pictures captures our two oldest daughters perfectly. Lucy working on learning how to program on Scratch (because she wants to make her own robots) and Harriet making a tiny quilt (that she wants to use for babies, picnics, and snuggling). Love seeing them discover new interests and following “the spark”.

Color and Light:

A few years ago our theme for March was Spectrum. In keeping with the tradition and all things rainbow for St. Patrick’s day, we did a little color work this month.

A new awesome one-player game called Colour Code by SmartGames – like a more interesting version of tangrams.

Color mixing, painting color wheels, and learning about hot vs. cool colors.

And discussions about what it would be like to not be able to see colors. We read I am Helen Keller and the Black Book of Colors. (both of which are great).

We also learned how to write our names in braille!

Ancient Egypt:

For our country this month, we took a trip to Ancient Egypt! (which tied in great with our Rich and Rooted Passover study as well!) .

These were a few of our favorite books we dug into.

The girls set up an Egyptian style Bazaar (which Harriet made traditional shaped Egyptian bread for!). My sisters and I used to play this same game – brings back fond memories.

We added a new game to our collection called Imhotep. It is great! You play the role of ancient Egyptian architects and are working to build monuments.

Inspired by the game, we build some block monuments of our own.

This lead the girls to build a whole city of mini block monuments.

We got this little mummy excavation kit on amazon. It was really great (but do it outside!!). It comes with a plaster block carved with hierogylphics. The kids use tools and act as archeologists to unearth the mummy inside.

I happened to have some Egyptian wrapping paper, so we made bracelets.

We talked about the significance of the Rosetta stone and then made our own clay Rosetta stone cartouches. Lucy did her name in English, hieroglyphics, and braille.

Getting Moving:

Lucy and I are taking up a new hobby – Rock Climbing! We went to a ladies night at the Rock. It was a little momma daughter date night. Pretty great.

We haven’t started up our Monday adventures again yet, but we did try to get to as many parks as possible.

Musicals:

From now until forever, I have officially dubbed March Musical Month. We were given (thank you Patti!) tickets to a local production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella and we rented Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat from the library. The girls LOVED both and we have been listening to the soundtracks non-stop (maybe a little too non-stop…go go go joseph you’ll make it some day….go go go joseph….!!!!!)

We went to Cinderella in costume.

Afterwards was a Princess Tea Party where the actors and actresses came out in costume and interacted with the kids! It was great fun.

Reading and Writing:

Our two read-aloud books we finished this month were Finn Family Moomintroll (one of my all time favorites) and The Search for Delicious. Both were perfect for the kids age – funny and light heartened.

Harriet has been working on the first steps of learning to read, so we made some sight word blocks together in fun bright colors.

She also practiced her letters a lot in her sand (cornmeal) box (…that is until little sister got ahold of it…)

The 2nd of March was Dr. Seuss’s birthday, so we celebrated by getting cake pops and reading all the Seuss books.
For writing practice, the girls both wrote out their elaborate plans for their birthday parties (which are in June/September…ha ha).

Character Building:

During the season of lent, we have been going through Jennifer Naraki’s Rich and Rooted Passover guide. I am hoping to make this a yearly tradition as well. There is a lot depth to her guide that we barely scratched the surface.

One Sunday we headed to Fort Collins because their local Islamic mosque was vandalized. We joined with a large crowd of others in solidarity and support of those effected.

Science and Logic:

Grandpapa reading an old family favorite – the Mad Scientist Club to Lucy for the first time.

The girls requested to learn how to play chess. Our local coffee shop has this great “Easy to Learn Chess” game that makes it simple with the little reminder graphics on the pieces.

We finally did some of our Christmas test tube science kits the kids got in their stockings (from the dollar bins at Target).
This is gravity goop –

St. Patrick’s Day:

A selection of St. Patrick’s day books we got from the library –

Grammy Didi reading one of her favorite – Tommie DePaola out loud to the girls.

Getting ready for our annual St. Patty’s day feast and sing along

Aquarium:

All three girls (but mostly Beatrice) have been obsessed with the kid’s show Octonauts. I think they have watched every episode at least 3 times.

In the show, the team of animals are always working to rescue/help undersea creatures. Each episode ends with a “Creature Report” which has cool facts about actual sea critters. The girls have learned all sorts of interesting aquatic facts. So, we thought a trip to the Denver Aquarium was in order.

The girls loved it. We all had a wonderful time – especially petting the sting rays.
The next day when we got back, they did their own “Creature Report”s on their favorite animals they saw. 

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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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.

Harvest Moon Playlist and More

Tonight is the harvest moon so we thought it was high time to make a new autumn “Moon” themed playlist. I love how old-fashioned and mellow this mixtape is. Enjoy!

 


And, just for fun, here is our Harvest Moon themed table/art/reading for the day. Lots of these inspired by the book “Exploring Nature” with Children by Lynn Seddon which I have been loving.

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And finally a Poem for the evening –

The Harvest Moon by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

It is the Harvest Moon! On gilded vanes
And roofs of villages, on woodland crests
And their aerial neighbourhoods of nests

Deserted, on the curtained window-panes
Of rooms where children sleep, on country lanes

And harvest-fields, its mystic splendour rests!

Gone are the birds that were our summer guests,

With the last sheaves return the labouring wains!

All things are symbols: the external shows

Of Nature have their image in the mind,
As flowers and fruits and falling of the leaves;

The song-birds leave us at the summer’s close,

Only the empty nests are left behind,
And pipings of the quail among the sheaves.

 

Greeley Wheelie

As part of Tim and my practice and process of “Balm” for February, we wanted to get involved with a local charity in Greeley. We have been helping Turnaround Bikes, an amazing organization in Greeley that refurbishes bikes for kids in need. Tonight is their fundraiser, called the Greeley Wheelie. It is going to be a blast. If you don’t already have plans, you should go. I take that back, even if you do have plans, change them. You won’t regret it. It’s going to be an epic night.

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One of my roles in the planning of the event was to gather artists to create Picasso inspired “bull’s head” art pieces.

Each artist was given an old bike seat and handlebars to transform. My friends and community never disappoint. The creativity, generosity, and innovation of these artists never ceases to amaze me. Check these out.

And, all of these works are being auctioned off tonight as part of the fundraiser. So, come down and take one home.IMG_3561

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Joni Lissak Wilson

Acrylic and Yarn on Bike Seat

 

Joni Lissak Wilson

Find her on:

Instagram: @jwilsak

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“July”

Betony Coons

Collage and Acrylic on Bike Seat

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Daniel (aka Billy Idol)”

Kathie Weise

Polymer clay on bike seat with handle bars

 

 

Kathie Weis studied at at Kent State University and lives and works in Greeley, CO. She loves to experiment with a large variety of techniques and mediums.

 

Find her on:

Facebook: Kathie Lockmyer Weise

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“Elevation”

Kelly Cook

Acrylic and Yarn on Bike Seat

 

Kelly Cook is a painter and illustrator in Greeley Colorado. She loves to do custom projects with people. Each piece of art starts as a story and idea.

 

Find her on:

Instagram: @kel.go.paint

Etsy: cookstah.etsy.com

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Aaron Best

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Acrylic and Spray Paint with Bike Seat

 

Aaron Best

Muralist/Iillustrator/Greeley, CO
Find him on:

Instagram: aarondavidbest

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“Oh Deer, I Adore You”

Kimberly Destree

Spray Paint, Yarn, and Acrylic on Bike Seat

 

Kimberly Destree lives in Greeley with her husband and three cats. She loves art that is whimsical and art that makes people smile.

You can find her adventures and creations on:

Instagram: @thriftarchives

Blog: thriftarchives.blogspot.com

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“Bloom”

Jourdan Albrechtson

Yarn, sharpie, and acrylic on bike seat

 

Born in Vancouver, WA, Jourdan Albrechtson has lived her life loving all variations and mediums of art. Currently she is a student at the University of Northern Colorado studying printmaking. Once she graduates, she hopes to move back to the rainy Northwest to pursue her dream of opening up her own personal business/gallery.

 

Find her on:

Instagram: @jrdnalbrchtsn

Tumblr: Jourdanalbrechtson.tumblr.com

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“Good Company” and “Solo Seat”

Danyelle Butler

Cast Clay and Wood with Bike Handlebars

 

Danyelle and her husband are clay artists that get muddy daily. They can’t stop creating! They are very thankful to have their studio in their backyard in beautiful Colorado. Danyelle tries to do her ceramics a little different, combining her own aesthetics with Most of her pieces are high-fired stoneware, but she is beginning to experiment with alternative firing methods. 

 

Find her on:

Instagram: arthausceramics

Etsy: arthausceramics.etsy.com

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“Riding Light”

Rick Destree

Bike Seat and Electrical Parts

 

Rick is an artist who lives in Greeley, CO. Most of his work is digital illustration, but he also loves to dabble in lamp/lighting design.

 

Find him on:

Website: drinkdecaf.com

Deviant Art: drinkdecaf.deviantart.com

Instagram: @drinkdecaf

 

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?)
Soundscape Art Poster
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

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!

October Ideas and Activities around the Theme “Lore”

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.

Mostly for the month of October, I just want to soak it in. October is my favorite month and it always just seems to fly by. I love the way the air feels, the way it smells, all the tastes, the colors. Everything. And, I am pretty married to our traditions. I just want to do October-y things in October. So, bear with me on this theme, because it is pretty loose. Normally I would insist on something a little more narrowed down, but I love that most of the things we would want to explore anyway in October fit within “Lore” and it adds some depth to our stories we would already be telling.

October Dates to Take Note of:

October 1st – International Coffee Day (very important…we make a point to celebrate this everyday at about 7:00am)
October 24th – United Nations Day
October 31st – Halloween
And don’t forget that November 1st is All Saints Day/November 1 & 2nd = Day of the Dead

Local: Greeley, CO events:

Oktobrewfest – October 2nd-3rd (sorry if you missed this!)

I don’t have any other events for October, someone help me out. What goes here?

List of Ideas and Inspiration for LORE:

MYTHOLOGY/ANTHROPOLOGY (is that what this category is…?):

Make a wall/chart of Witches, goblins, pumpkins, fairies, ghosts, ghouls, vampires, changelings, silkies, chupacabras, etc and learn some of the folklore behind where they come from.

 Learn about ancient Egypt and Make mummies – wasting a roll of TP and playing a mummy game would be fun too.
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Spend a day learning about Day of the Dead and doing day of the Dead activities –

Common Practices for Day of the Dead Day of the Dead is annually celebrated on November 1st and 2nd. The first day, called “Día de los Angelitos” (Day of the little angels), is dedicated to the souls of deceased children, while November 2nd is set aside for the souls of adults. Before these days, families may clean their homes to prepare for the arrival of the souls of their loved ones. Many also visit cemeteries to decorate the graves of the dead with their favorite items and flowers. Graves and ofrendas are decorated with papel picado, photographs, cherished objects, marigolds (cempasúchitl), and skeletons made of paper or clay. Food and drink are placed on the ofrendas for the dead. It is believed the dead enjoy the tastes and smells of the food. There are many important foods associated with Day of the Dead. In particular the main dish is mole, which is meat (usually chicken or pork) cooked with a sauce made from chilies, chocolate, peanuts, and other ingredients that vary by region. Pumpkin candies, rice pudding, and tamales may also be offered. Bakeries produce special bread called pan de muerto in the shape of people or bones and decorated with pink sugar. Stores also sell skulls made of sugar or chocolate, adorned with names, for children and adults to eat.

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These look neat to make too – (I can’t find the original source for this image, but I think these just use those precut scrapbooking paper wrapped around a candle holder)
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Learn about Greek Myths
I especially like this book – 
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Create our own little Apple Holiday, complete with new traditions

FILMS:

We don’t do Scary movies around here (seriously don’t get that at all…) But, we do love halloween shows –

Pirates of the Caribbean (since Lucy wants to be a Pirate for halloween)
Big Fish
Nightmare Before Christmas
Adams Family Values
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The Ghost and Mister Chicken
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Old Nic at Night Shows:
Sabrina the Witch
Laurel and Hardy
Adams Family
Little Rascals Spooky Hooky
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Bewitched
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There is nothing better than watching old black and white spooky films with popcorn, fancy root beer, and or hot cider. So October to me…
(By the way, we just discovered that Tiny but Mighty Popcorn and it is wonderful! A new favorite…)
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LISTEN:

Lore podcast (Grown-ups Only)
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Listen to all our Halloween mixes!


READ:

Read all the Stephen Kellogg versions of American Folklore books: Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill, Mike Fink, Johnny Appleseed, Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind Crockett
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Read the Littlest witch by Anna Elizabeth Bennet – one of my favorites as a kid, I am excited to revisit it with my own kiddos.
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Read Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth by E.L. Konigsburg – If I remember correctly, some awesome halloween scenes in this one.
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Read some Edgar Allen Poe
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Find a good kid version of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow
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PLAY:

The Telephone game (the connection is about how folk lore is passed on through generations)
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Visit a pumpkin patch (We always go to the Rocky Mountain Pumpkin Ranch)
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ART:

Make Shadow puppets – or just get some from one of the many wonderful Etsy shops

Carve Pumpkins and make Turnip lanterns (the original jack-o-lantern!)
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Sew Halloween costumes but also learn about the characters they are portraying (right now Lucy wants to be a pirate and Harriet a Princess, not sure about Beatrice…)

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SCIENCE:

Save old spice bottles and make pretend Potions
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Also make homemade Soda potions

September Ideas and Activities around the Theme “Animalia”

For this entire year I’ve been doing an at home curriculum with the family (Lucy 6, Hattie 3, Beatrice 10 months). 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.

 

Growing up we had this book as a kid by Graeme Base called Animalia. It’s the basic idea of an ABC book taken to the next level – as many things that start with a letter as possible entertwined together on one page with catchy alliteration poetry. My dad and I would play a game where we would see how many things we could find that started with the letter on each page. It would be in the hundreds per page. Inspired by that book, this month’s theme is “ANIMALIA” – think the animal kingdom, animal alphabets, zoology, fables and more

 

September Dates to Take Note of:

September 7th –Labor Day
September 13th –Grandparents Day
September 19th –Talk Like a Pirate Day
September 21st – International Peace Day
(We also have two little cuties who have September birthdays)

Local: Greeley, CO events:

September 12th –Chalk-a-Lot at UNC (a fun family art event – they will be trying to break the world record for longest continuous chalk drawing)
September 12th –Potato Day at Centennial Village (one of my favorites)
September 19th – Poudre River Trail-a-Thon – we haven’t ever been to this, but it sounds great!

List of Ideas and Inspiration for ANIMALIA:

FILMS:

There are so many good family movie nights here…

Dr. Doolittle (I prefer the old one of course)
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Milo and Otis
We Bought a Zoo
Babe
Homeward Bound (Old version is called the Incredible Journey)
Gorillas in the Mist

BOOKS:

Animalia by Graeme Base
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Animalium by Katie Scott & Jenny Broom
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All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
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…and oh so many other great books from the perspective of animals (Redwall, Wildwood, Charlottes Web, etc…)

SCIENCE & NATURE:

Learn about animal taxonomy (remember “Kings Play Cards On Fat Green Stools”?)
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Animal tracks – maybe make plaster casts of them
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Learn about endangered and extinct animals – could make little clay models of them
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ART:

Funny animal combinations
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Painting and drawing animals – there are some great books on this. Learning how to simplify to basic shapes is a great lesson.
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Help the girls Sew little felt animals
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OUTINGS:

Take a trip to the Zoo (or wild animal sanctuary)

LITERATURE:

Read animal fairy tales – three little pigs, billy goats gruff, etc.
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Learn about Aasops Fables
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MUSIC:

Listen to and talk through the Carnival of Animals by Saint-Saëns – also this Ap might be a fun add on too

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DRAMA:

Play Animal charades
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Put on a play of one of Aasops Fables or a Nursery Rhyme
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Make animal hand shadow puppets

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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