12.05.2016

Paintings

Hi friends! Hope you're doing well during this beautiful season.
I've put some of my paintings on Etsy. You can also purchase prints here.






10.07.2016

Goodnight Jesus!




pom pom balls in a can

I've returned to the how-do-I-manage-my-crazy-toddler-in-church?! stage of life. I haven't been here for awhile, and, although I think I'm more patient this time around, I had forgotten how hard 18 months old can be. I hold her while we sing and carry her around to see the icons, and when she gets restless I keep her quiet with this little can of pom poms. She's really into books lately, so recently I tucked some of her favorites in my bag, ...but later, when she wouldn't stop moooooing, I regretted bringing Mr. Brown Can Moo to liturgy.

So, I was super-excited to see the new Orthodox board book from AFP, Goodnight Jesus, and really grateful to receive a copy to review. Of course, AFP has tons of great kids books, and we usually bring a couple to church for the big kids - but there aren't a lot of options for this little age.* Like Mr. Brown, the best books for kids at this age are repetitive with a nice cadence, and give the little ones a way to respond. While Mr. Brown's sound effects weren't so appropriate for liturgy, the kissing encouraged by Goodnight Jesus will fit right in.



She snuggled in to read the book with me right away, immediately pointing and saying, "Zeezus!"in her sweet baby way. The pages are nice and sturdy, and I think that makes turning them more fun for littles. The little poem leads you through a list of people to kiss goodnight, starting with Christ and Mary, then saints from the Bible like John the Baptist and the myrrh-bearing women. We also kiss a gospel book and cross, then all the members of our family and a picture of those far away.



This is my first Orthodox-baby, and I've enjoyed seeing how quickly she learned to kiss the icons. She still kisses them more consistently than she kisses me! This book nicely ties together our love for Christ, with our love for the saints, the scriptures, our family, pets and dolls. The act of kissing is such a simple way to teach our children about love and tenderness and reverence, and the participatory nature of our faith. 



My big kids enjoyed the book, too! The oldest especially loved the picture of Christ just about to break open the gates of Hades; and the other laughed and laughed at the fish blowing a kiss. We all love the illustrations - which are bright and beautifully done. So it seems there is something in it for everyone, and I think we'll all enjoy taking turns to read it to baby.


The book is uniquely Orthodox because, of course, we like to kiss both people and things (like icons and the Gospel book). Still, its also simple enough that I think Christians of other traditions who can appreciate kissing will enjoy it, too. I'm thrilled to have such nice books for our kids! Be sure to check it out at Ancient Faith Publishing.

*We also love What Do You See at Liturgy, the only other Orthodox board book I've seen, and perfect for toddlers, too!
**Cross-posted from Many Mercies

10.06.2016

Schooling

It has been a while since I have posted anything. It seems now that we're deep into homeschooling, I have less time for blogging (or craft tutorials). Here's a quick peek at our school year so far!

First day of school, jumping right in!

Learning about mosaics via bean art.

Field trips to see local art shows at the Ned. 

And bigger field trips to see the Matisse retrospective at OKMOA!

Enjoying Dale Chihuly at OKMOA, too. :)

Blessing of the students for the new year at St. Nicholas Orthodox Church.

Winning at the State Fair for bean art!

And blue ribbons for blue haired mermaids! Nothing like external validation!

Diagramming sentences with the Sentence Family.
(Seriously, the girls beg to do this grammar program.)

Finishing our read aloud, The Cricket in Time Square, with cricket crafts.
We made paper cricket cages and pipe cleaner crickets. We didn't have a pattern for either, so they're a little messy.  

More trips to the Ned!

Minecraft Legos bought with State Fair winnings!
  
Simple cubby dividers to cut out distractions during quiet work time. I can't find the link where I originally found this idea, but its pretty simple. I bought one display board, and cut it in half horizontally to make two cubbies. We're seeing what works for now, and adding as we go. Right now, each girl has a handwriting chart, and a math chart (relevant to her grade). They also have little flags attached with brads which they raise to quietly ask for help or let me know they're finished. Maybe eventually we'll paint?
We love the dividers, although distractions continue.


That's all for now. How's your school year going?

4.02.2016

When God Made You (a book review)


I like to include books in our Easter baskets each year, and this year I found one so lovely I bought it for my godchildren, too! I love a book that puts beautiful illustrations and poetic images in children's hands, and even better, this book challenges them to think poetically, too. When God Made You is a delight. We don't celebrate Easter until later this year (see why here), so I'm still waiting to share it with my kids, and I can hardly wait!


Each page introduces a new child from a different culture and with different gifts. It goes on to explain the unique recipe for each child: seeds, fizzy candy, drum beats and wood. My oldest daughter loves drawing connections to metaphors, so I believe she will like thinking about how these "ingredients" work together to make each child's unique skills and strengths. The book ends by asking, "What beautiful things was God thinking when He made you?" I expect we will have silly and serious conversations about what beautiful things in our world might make up each of us.


The book clearly presents God as the maker of people (and beauty!), but doesn't go much farther to explain God. This has the lovely affect of encouraging children to see God through his creation, and leaves the door open for you to discuss your faith in the way you choose.



The illustrations initially look like fanciful watercolors, but the more you look, you can see illustrator Megan Elizabeth Gilbert included collage elements as well. The pictures are full of new things to find with each reading.

The author Jane Meyer encourages children to write or draw their own page for "When God Made You," and send it to her! Here are some instructions I put together to get my kids started, with my own little entry below. I'll have to share later when the kids do their own.
1. What do you do really well? (an action, e.g. painting)
2. What do you like about that? (looking, color, being playful)
3. What kinds of things help you do it? (brushes, pigments, flowers, icons)
4. Where do you live, and where do you do your action? (Tennessee, upstairs)
5. Write your explanation of what God was thinking when He made you!
6. Draw a scene of you doing your thing in your place. Be sure to show what is unique about where you live, and include the elements that you like and that help you. Hide some of these elements here and there so people don't see them all at first (because isn't that how God hides things in us?).
When God made Laura, he spattered her cheeks with copper and tickled her fingers with foxgloves. Then he gently opened her eyes and brushed her lashes with sunlight and clay and gold leaf. Stepping aside and pointing, God said, "Laura, paint!"



*This book review contains affiliate links, but I bought the book and reviewed it out of my own delight!

2.28.2016

Leap Year Time Capsule Printable

I'm probably sharing this too late for many people to enjoy it now, but here it is anyway. We're filling in these little printables with our measurements and favorites, and then we'll bury it in the back yard. Happy Leap Day, friends!

 

2.23.2016

9 Ideas for Living Book Activities

Whenever I choose a good book for our homeschool, and I want to find activities to go with it, to enrich our study of the book. So I google: "BOOK TITLE homeschool." I inevitably find a few blogs with a pdf bundle with cutesy clip art images to go with the book that teach math and spelling and seem aimed at lower elementary kids, but isn't at all what I want.

After some thought, I realized [what is probably obvious to veteran homeschoolers] that I'm finding unit studies, when what I really want is to engage in a living book study. Of course, living books don't require worksheets! They teach by engaging you in a well written story. As we stretch out a book over a few weeks, I find we enjoy engage with them in hands-on ways.

So here's a list of ideas (for my own sake as much as yours) for enjoying a living book with kids drawn from our recent experience:

1. Historical/Geographic context: Often this is the reason I've chosen a book. A quick check on Wikipedia can provide a lot of this information, and then you can look up the location on the globe or map, or note other stories you know from the same time period to draw connections.

2. Themes: Although sometimes the themes are obvious, sometimes we study something that I'm less familiar with and I need a little help. Right now we're reading Alice's Adventures in Wonderland because we're going to see the ballet next month. I realized my knowledge of the story is pretty limited, and I was thrilled to realize that Cliff's notes are online. A quick read on the Themes section is a good starting point for what I can expect and what kinds of conversations we may have.

3. Recipes: Food is an important part of many stories. We especially enjoyed cooking as we read through the whole The Little House Series one year. Making lemonade, butter, maple candy, and fried cakes were all helpful insights into pioneer life. [We absolutely love the The Little House Cookbook!] We also had a lot of fun making turkish delight when we read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

4. Recreating scenes: Focusing on some of our favorite scenes helps us live within the story a little more. We made a diorama of the cabin in the woods after reading The Courage of Sarah Noble, and built a lego sod house after reading On the Banks of Plum Creek.

5. Wildlife: Notice what plants and animals play important roles in the book. Look them up in field guides. Read about them. Draw them. Find videos of them on youtube. We chose Island of the Blue Dolphins especially because of one child's interest in sea life, but we encountered so many new creatures throughout the story. We often had to look up words to figure out what kind of animal it was, or food she was eating. We enjoyed watching videos of Karana's devilfish.

6. Handicrafts/Games/Activities: Experiencing the different types of activities of people of different times and cultures can be a lot of fun. We tried a few Little House on the Prairie crafts with My Little House Crafts Book, we made a thaumatrope after reading the Kirsten books.

7. Write about it: I had already planned to have my kids write a mini-book report on Stuart Little, but when they were unhappy with the ending they ended up sitting down to write their own new endings. This was a lot of fun and helped them think through the story a bit, as well.

8. Field Trips: When we read The Trumpet of the Swan, which is is just lovely fiction, we decided to go to a local park and read the last two chapters of the story there while eating lunch and feeding the ducks and geese. [We wished our park had swans, but we enjoyed the geese anyway!] Other times we have read in a noisy restaurant, or the train museum, to add a little ambience to our story. I find its harder for little ones to pay attention for long this way, but its a fun way to finish (or begin!) a new story.


9. Watch the movie: I won't let the kids watch the movie until we've finished the book, but they are often excited now to realize a book has a movie. It helps for them to actually see and hear the clothing and styles and accents of a story. Its also fun to discuss how the movie was different from the book and why. I'm generally impressed that they prefer the truer plot of the book to the movie, but they can also appreciate the fun of the movie. We've especially enjoyed seeing Anne's puffed sleeves after reading Anne of Green Gables, and the tree house of The Swiss Family Robinson.

So there you go! My best 9 tips for activities to go with your living books. Turns out I knew what I was doing more than I realized, and next time I'll skip the googling!

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