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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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“Collection” Theme Round Up (from Abacus: our creative home curriculum!)

The end of June was spent on the road on the way to Wisconsin, so I missed getting this round up of our June “Collection” theme posted. Still lots of good memories here with hopefully some ideas you can carry over to your own stories.

Click here to see the original June post with the complete list of Collection ideas (which is where these came from)

Outside:

On our road trip through Nebraska and Iowa, every time we stopped for gas, the girls and I collected wildflowers from the side of the road and pressed them in a little flower press I brought with us. We forgot to bring a flower book, so most remained un-identified, but it was a lovely way to make a boring stop more fun.

Giants & Pilgrims pressed flowers for "Collection" themed activities

Thanks to our dear friend Lindsay, we had our second annual “Sleep in the backyard” night. It was made extra beautiful by the singing campfire songs out of a book collection of classic song lyrics.
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I used some old letterpress trays I had laying around to make our “Collection” themed wall. My plan was to fill up the wall with all sorts of found treasures over the course of the month, it still has a lot of empty spots, but it has been the perfect place to stash tiny treasures. I think I will keep it up for a bit longer. I’m enjoying having somewhere to put those tiniest of tidbits.

Its hard to see from the photo, but we found several insect skeletons, lots of cool rocks, little figurines, an old brass button, a key, a more. You can also see the beginning of my silhouettes collection.IMG_6221

History:

We visited the Build Frontiers exhibit at the Greeley History Museum where the girls and Tim had a great afternoon playing with legos. The best two take aways from the day were these cool passports that the city of Greeley History museum is doing, and also a great lego app called Lego Movie that is pretty great.
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(Rattlesnake Kate is a Greeley history celebrity – seen here immortalized as a lego mini figure)

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Art:

In celebration of Flag day, Lucy designed this flag – hopefully we can sew a version of it and hang it on the treehouse. (The page came out of this Maps companion book)

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We spent a whole lot of time this month working on all sorts of tiny drawings – all of which are getting compiled into our first ever wall calendar called “Collection”! I will have the calendars up for sale on this site soon! I picked up the proofs this week and they look pretty great if I do say so myself. It helps that there are some fabulous illustrations done by these two cuties.
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Giants & Pilgrims Collection theme

We had a tea party with using my teacup collection for Lucy’s 6 year old woodland fairy party. Here are some photos from the magic filled afternoon:
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Giants & Pilgrims woodland fairy birthday party

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And in the spirit of fairies, we had several fun days using bits and pieces to make fairy houses.

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Giants & Pilgrims - making fairy houses

Movies:

Not a good movie at all, ha, but we did watch “National Treasure” for it’s contribution to the “Collection” theme 🙂 I suppose my 6 year old now does know what the Declaration of Independence is (sort of…)

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Books:

For reading, we started “The Borrowers” and immediately realized it was still a bit old for the girls. Besides that, we have just particularly enjoyed working on our summer library program sheets and picking up lots of good stories from our local library.

We did check out and read a lot of Jan Brett books and then went to her show in Fort Collins at the Contemporary Art Museum. So neat to see her work in person! Her attention to detail is pretty insane. You cannot help but admire her work.

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Giants & Pilgrims visit Jan BRett

Home:

And finally, in the spirit of “Collection”, we got rid of some of our own collections by having a garage sale 🙂

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After clearing out my old frustrating dresser and a chair, our bedroom got a little refresh with this awesome vintage filing cabinet.IMG_5181

 

That’s all for June and “Collection.” On to “Maps” for the month of July!

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.

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”

Summer Reading List

It’s that time of the year. Dusting off the front cover of books we’ve intended to read for a while or picking up something new for the big car ride is a great tradition around our house. Betony Coons made a list of some of her favorite summer reads for our June Almanac. Here’s to getting lost in the pages. Leave some of your favorite summer reads in the comments below.

Some of my Favorite all-time “Summery” reads – Betony

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

The Giver by Louis Lowry

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

The House of the Scorpian by Nancy Farmer

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kid

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

 A Natural History of the Senses  by Diane Ackerman

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Gift from the Sea  by Anne Morrow Linbergh

New and Selected Poems by Mary Oliver