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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Rustic Twig Frame Collage (aka the perfect gift for my husband)

You know how you try so hard to think of the perfect gift for your loved one and the joy in knowing you got it spot on? My kids and I made just the right thing for my husband. It left him speechless and teary-eyed - a true sign that his gift will be treasured for many years to come.

We made him a frame out of twigs surrounding a collage of photos that capture some of our favorite moments of 2013. If you don’t have a printer at home that can print out several pictures at once, try ordering prints from places like Shutterfly.  They have various photo gifts that are fun for the house.
It was easy to make:
 

Gather sticks (especially fun on a winter's
night hike with head lamps)

 
Arrange favorite photos on a canvas board.
(We got ours at a local arts consignment store and
trimmed it to fit our photo.) I found it easiest to
print the photos on regular printer paper and then
affixed the photos with a water/glue mix using a paintbrush.

 
Frame it with larger twigs using a hot glue gun.

 
Frame the individual photos with smaller twigs. This is a
great way for younger children to help. It has a puzzle
element to it as they try to fit the twigs just right.
 
 
If you have empty spaces, you can add your own special touch.
 
 
And there you have it, a wonderful memory of the year gone by:



Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas


A couple of days ago I turned the figures from our crèche outward so I could look at them and little Shane turned them back around and said, "No mama, they aren't looking at us, they are looking at Baby Jesus." - So simple, yet profound.

May your Christmas time be one of joyful reflection.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Easy Ornaments

My youngest son has really enjoyed decorating the house this year.  For the past week, every day he pleads, " Can I please put up more decorations?"  Our house can only handle so much and much to his frustration, our tree is already packed full of ornaments, so yesterday, instead of hanging more ornaments, I set him to making them.

They are so easy! All you need is plastic ornaments from a craft store and items from your home.  These also make sweet gifts for children to make.  Here is what we came up with:


 
Ours include: sea glass, flat glass marbles, sparkly yarn, a family photo, quilling paper with the names of Jesus written on them, wool felt and buttons.  Here are more ideas: legos, dried flower petals, beads, tiny animal figurines, tiny pine cones, gold painted twigs, clay stars, paper cranes, acorns, confetti, and feathers.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Secret Lessons of Tradition and Creative Learning on Friday #25

A few evenings ago, we decorated our Christmas tree.  It is one of my favorite traditions to be involved in during the holiday season.  As we hung ornaments, my mother and I told my two young sons where the ornament was made, whether it was a gift or one we purchased, and if there was a story behind the ornament, it was told with care to details and brought the moment to life. 


Amidst this fun time, these ornaments became bearers of secret lessons. As each special ornament was hung, the boys learned wonderful lessons of connection to times and people past, lessons of culture, and lessons of love. 


So many of our family traditions have at their heart the secret lessons of family heritage, spirituality, and cultural history.  I wonder what lessons your little ones absorb this time of year.

I invite your to share with us at the Creative Learning on Friday linky party.



Creative Learning on Friday






Friday, December 13, 2013

Creative Learning on Friday #24

Welcome back to another Creative Learning on Friday linky party.  Last week, we had some great posts including one on Snowflake Science and another on Teaching Your Kids to Cook.

Join in the fun and tell us how you are inspiring your children through interesting and fun ways to learn.

Creative Learning on Friday












Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Catching Snowflakes Revisited




Last winter, I wrote a post about catching snowflakes and when the latest snowstorm came through this morning, I couldn't resist catching them again.  The results were beautiful.



Want to catch snowflakes? Pick a dark fabric, we use navy blue cotton, and a piece of cardboard to set the cloth on so it will stay flat.  Five minutes before you go out, set the cloth outside so it can reach the outdoor temperature, otherwise the flakes will melt when they hit the cloth.

Once you are ready to go out let you little ones hold the cloth on the cardboard letting snow fall on the cloth.  After 30 seconds, go under shelter and look up close.  Among the clumps of flakes, you should see some individual snow crystals

Have fun!


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Creative Learning #23

Here we are, already in December and the 23rd edition of Creative Learning.  I am hoping to see some great learning ideas with the holidays coming up. I have been perusing Pinterest and look forward to sharing some of my finds with you. 

In the meantime, I wish you all a good weekend and one of creative learning.

Creative Learning on Friday








Using modeling beeswax in homeschool lessons

I often write about how we use the Charlotte Mason method in our homeschool and implement Waldorf techniques.  Today we had a great time reading Lewis and Clark: A Prairie Dog for the President- which fits into the Mason method because it is a delightful, true, living book.  After reading the book, the boys made their own beeswax prairie dogs. Modeling beeswax is used in Waldorf education to replace play dough or clay and is well worth the investment because it can be used over and over again, is not messy and it has such vibrant colors and a soothing scent. We use Stockmar Modeling Beeswax from A Toy Garden.  It really is soothing to work with, beginning as a hard stiff medium and softens by the warmth of your hands. (For young children, soaking it in warm water can help soften it to the point that the child can mold it.)





They aren't great works of art, but, my goodness, the boys are so proud of their little ground hogs!

Monday, December 2, 2013

In My Footsteps


thought I would share a few photos of my day at work.

Enjoy.










 
 
 











Thursday, November 28, 2013

Creative Learning on Friday #22



I hope those of you in the U.S. had a lovely Thanksgiving with those you love yesterday.  Like so many other families, I reveled in watching our little ones play together. At one point, I was holding my 2 month old nephew and my 8 year old son, who is rarely around babies, commented on how the baby was watching the movement around him.  I explained that babies watch others and learn from what they see.  To my surprise, my son immediately brought over a ball with a picture of a star on it, showed it to the baby, and whispered, "This is a star. This is a star." Then he proudly told me, "Mom, I just taught baby Asher what a star is!"  This simple act reminded me that children love to learn and take great pride in teaching others what they have learned.  In the upcoming weeks that is what I want  to remember. Children love to learn.

Last time here at Creative Learning, we had some wonderful submissions that I intend to refer to again next Thanksgiving season. I especially liked the link to Melinda's, of Rusty and Rosy's Reading, giving practical ways to encourage daily gratitude in our children.

teaching gratitude



What new things are your children learning with the upcoming change in seasons?

Creative Learning on Friday








Monday, November 25, 2013

Thanksgiving Story Retelling Beacelet

Here is a quick project we did today to help the boys remember the history of why we celebrate Thanksgiving. After reading The First Thanksgiving, we made a bracelet using colored pony beads to retell the story:

1 brown bead for the Pilgrims leaving England in search of religious freedom.
1 white bead for the sails on the Mayflower.
3 blue beads for the long trip over the Atlantic Ocean.
1 green bead for when they spy land
1 white bead for the snow during the harsh winter
1 green bead foe the arrival of spring
1 tan bead for the Native Americans who helped the Pilgrims
5 beads for the foods served at the first Thanksgiving:
    1 red bead for cranberries
    1 brown bead for turkey
    1 yellow bead for corn
    1 orange bead for pumpkins
    1 green bead for green beans


I was surprised at how quickly our oldest son remembered what each color represented and look forward to watching them tell family about the first Thanksgiving while we are all gathered together on Thursday.

Wishing you all a blessed Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Creative Learning #21

Welcome back to another week of Creative Learning.  As I looked through the blogs I am following, I saw so many wonderful ideas for Thanksgiving, from crafts to decorations to ways to help kids express their gratitude.
We had great submission at the last link up.  I am always on the lookout for ways to develop my youngest son's fine motor skills, so I especially liked Trillium Montessori's submission that included this sweet turkey with button on wings.

http://trilliummontessori.org/november-fine-motor-shelf/

How have your little ones been learning? Have you been gathering leaves, observing the autumn season, making gifts for the upcoming holidays? 

Creative Learning on Friday






Sunday, November 17, 2013

Cheerful Stick Stars




Autumn is such a lovely time for a ramble in the woods. Come late November, our nature table tends to overflow with found treasures such as stones, colorful leaves, and sticks. Short sticks. Long sticks. Smooth sticks. Rough sticks. Straight sticks. Crooked sticks. Sticks. Sticks. Sticks.

Sometimes I wonder if it is a boy thing or if little girls gather them as well. When I try to return the sticks to the woods or remove them at all, I am met with an impassioned plea from our five year old, "No! That stick is special! Don't throw it out!" Keeping in mind my desire to pick my battles carefully, we keep the sticks and they gather throughout our home with little piles on the porch, in the garage, on the nature table, and several in the boys' room.

Can I just let them sit there? Nooooo. I managed to convince the boys that while the sticks indeed make good swords, dirks, and magic wands, they could also be used to make craftsy things with the sticks. Here is our first go at stick craft.

Cheerful Stick Star Ornaments


Begin by drawing a star shape on a piece of construction or kite paper.
Break the sticks to the size of the drawn lines keeping in mind the intersections,
put glue on the lines and have your child put the sticks on the drawn lines.
Unless you draw a perfect star, figuring out which stick fits on which line will be like a puzzle.

Let the glue fully dry.
(See how the sticks fit together but do not overlap?)


Cut around the star and use a needle to thread string through a point
in the star and hang it in a  window.  It really is cheerful and the
boys are proud to see it hanging for all to see.
 
We are going to make several using kite paper to decorate our Christmas tree and surely the grandparents need some as well.
 
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Monday, November 11, 2013

Honoring Those Who Came Before

This Veterans Day we hang our flag outside, look at Grandpa T's military career scrapbook, and make special star ornaments. All the while we talk about our military veterans and wonder what our lives would be like without them. I tell my young sons stories about their grandfather, my dad, who joined the military during World War II and served as a Marine in Korea and Vietnam.

We talk about how he loved the flag because at times, in the trenches, it was the only thing that gave him hope, or about how he made friends with villagers showing kindness to the young and old alike. Sometimes we simply look at the photos and I ponder what life events made up the man I lovingly call Father, Dad, and Daddy - an amazing example of a man inviting God to mold him into a man of great strength and humble tenderness even unto his own death.  These are life lessons I share with my sons this Veterans Day.   Life lessons of honor.



This effort at honoring those who have gone before is year round, including Memorial Day. Last year we made red poppies to wear. Read the post here for the tutorial.


Friday, November 8, 2013

Mount Vernon and Creative Learning on Friday #20

Welcome back to another week of Creative Learning on Friday. We had a wonderful day trip to Mount Vernon. The interpretive center is very well done with interactive exhibits as well as artifacts. And the estate itself is very well preserved with helpful, knowledgable guides and volunteers throughout the area. Of course the children especially connected well with the first-person interpreters. We look forward to many more field trips of this kind.


George Washington's home at Mount Vernon



Meeting Martha Washington



The boys enjoyed watching  the blacksmith



My husband taking in the view




A carriage owned by the Powell family in Philadelphia.
Washington's carriage was very similar.
Can you imagine him riding through the streets of Philadelphia?




Creative Learning on Friday

 










Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Autumn Books We are Reading

At the changing of seasons, we bring out a new selection of books from our collection and head to the local library to find new seasonal books.  Here is a gathering of some of our favorites this autumn.


http://www.amazon.com/The-Pumpkin-Book-Gail-Gibbons/dp/0823416364/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1383231681&sr=8-1&keywords=the+pumpkin+book
 
The Pumpkin Book
The Pumpkin Book explains the planting, cultivating, and harvesting of pumpkins using bold illustrations and simple text.




Hibernation
Children will learn how various animals prepare for hibernation by stuffing themselves with food so that they can survive during the dormant months and how these animals prepare safe spots, like dens and burrows




Pumpkin, Pumpkin
A young boy plants a pumpkin seed in the spring and, after watching it grow all summer, carves a face in it for Halloween! He also saves some seeds that he will plant again next spring. We love the illustrations in this book!



The Busy Little Squirrel
A well loved book in our family by afavorite author/illustrator, Nancy Tafuri. Follow little squirrel as he rushes past other animals to stock up for a long winter.

As the days grow colder, I hope you and your little ones have many opportunities to snuggle close and read together.
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