Swirl By Swirl

March 9, 2015 at 4:42 pm (Education, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

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Title: Swirl By Swirl

Authors: Beth Krommes & Joyce Sidman

Genre: Picture Book / Educational

We actually read this one quite a bit ago, I was hoping to review it when I finally got around to purchasing it, but I can’t wait any longer.  It’s too wonderful to keep under wraps any longer and it has been an inspiration to my kiddo who now draws swirls and “round ups” into all her artwork.

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The book is all about finding math in nature.  About how snails, flowers, and everything have mathematical patterns that create functional things we can see.  It first page by page identifies all these things… spider webs, tendrils on foliage, the curls of animals’ tails, etc.

Then, it explains the how and why of it all.

Kiddo’s eye lit up at the end of the book every time (we had to read it over and over again before we turned it back into the library).  My four year old’s mind was blown.

P1000956 I want to have this book on hand when she’s older as well, to revisit and enjoy the beautiful illustrations again and again through out her studies.  It’s so lovely.

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Hello Wilderness, We’ve Missed You

February 13, 2015 at 3:04 am (Education, The Whim) (, , , , , , , , , )

Since moving away from our beloved Timberlane Estates, we’ve been in dire need for nature.  Especially with this winter we just had – harsher than I remember winter being – wet, muddy, colder sooner, and nowhere cozy to defrost.  Temporary living arrangements have caused us to leave the comfort of having a nearly 1000 square foot library just down the hall from our beds.  We also don’t have a fireplace here.  It’s been a long time since I lived without a fireplace.  But the change is good, it’s helped us redefine necessities, discover the beauty of new public libraries we hadn’t yet visited, save mP1000764oney for the land and dream home we want, and teach our daughter lessons she might have otherwise missed.

We’ve also discovered the Lake Houston Wilderness State Park.  We went from 100+ acres of trails and exploration that we knew like the back of our hands to not having anything most of the winter, to Lo! And Behold! 4700+ acres of trails and wilderness closer than we could have ever imagined.  Ask and ye shall receive.  Take a ride down the highway and pay attention to those marvelous brown signs!

It costs $3 per adult to get in, kids under 13 and senior citizens are free.  OR (and this is what we’ve done) it’s $25 for a year pass for an adult and three adult guests; basically, a family pass.

We’ve been back about every other day since we’ve discovered it.  We walk, tromp, and read.  We snack and picnic, we play in the creek, we stare at the trees.  We read all the sign posts and discover new plants we’ve never heard of.  We soak up vitamin D and work our muscles.

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To the left you’ll see a Hercules’ Club. We were pretty excited about this discovery and did a mini-research project on it when we got home.

In all this much needed tromping and new library resources at my fingertips, I stumbled across a Guide to Wild Foods and Useful Plants by a fellow named Nyerges.  It isn’t the best resource for Texans, only a few plants were ones I recognized, but if you hail from California then it’s right up your alley.  Either way, if you’re in the foraging scene, this book is a great read.  Nyerges personalizes a lot of his foraging facts with anecdotes of how he has confirmed or debunked various myths, legends, and general assumptions for certain plants.  My favorite was a bit about the Native Americans and poison oak – eat the young, red leaves and you’ll be immune to the rash for the rest of the season/year.  The science of immunizing oneself at its finest.  Already this is how we tackle seasonal allergies when it comes to pollen, it would not have occurred to me that there is a practical pre-remedy for poison oak.

 

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A Boy Called Dickens

January 21, 2015 at 12:56 am (Education, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

* A Weekly Low Down on Kids Books *

P1000704Title: A Boy Called Dickens

Author: Deborah Hopkinson

Illustrator: John Hendrix

As a homeschool family, we’re suckers for the educational picture book.  Especially biographies.

A Boy Called Dickens tells the life of Charles Dickens.  Obviously there are some creative liberties taken with Dickens’ boyhood thoughts and how he might have come to write certain stories, but that happens with any piece of biographical fiction.

As an adult Dickens fan, you recognize characters peeking around corners and haunting the boy’s subconscious as he works at the factory, tells stories to his friend, helps get his family out of debtor’s prison, and finally returns to school.

When I finished read the book, kiddo said, “Let’s read it again.”

I was out of breath from my strained fake British accent.  I’m not an actress, but I like to make story time fun.  It takes more effort than I’d care to admit.  “No, I’m not reading it again right now.”

“Well, I think we should do the same thing with this one – let other kids read it!”

“You mean you recommend it?”

“Yes.” She gave it a literal thumbs up, with a tongue half sticking out the side of her mouth in thought.

Any biographical picture books you can find are great teaching tools, and you might as well fill them with as much information as you can while they’re sponges.  History is easiest to remember as a tale, Dickens world and era becomes one you can touch and taste.  Telling it from his boyhood makes it more relatable to a tiny one.  Whether you’re a homeschool mom, or just someone who reads to your kids when you can, this book is a great resource; it’s colorful, factual, and engrossing.

(If you’re a seasonal reader, this one is perfectly wintery.)

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Houston Pow Wow 2014

November 17, 2014 at 12:11 am (Education, Events) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Already in the mere four years I’ve been a homeschool mom, with my child not even “school age,” homeschooling in general has proven to be as much an education for me as it is for her.  When you homeschool, field trips feel imperative.  Not only do you want your kid to interact in the world, but even the most extreme homebody, if not an agoraphobe, gets a touch of cabin fever now and again.

Pow Wow 2012 017In 2012, we discovered that Houston has an annual Pow Wow and attended.  I documented that trip here. The kiddo loved it. We studied everything a two year old could “study” about Native Americans at that time and watched a lot of Pocahontas after the event. The culture, the dancing, the drums, the music, the food, I tried to dip my very pasty child in the whole experience. She came away desperately wanting an out fit just like the girl’s she took a picture with in my previous blog post (see left).

Life happened and we missed the 2013 gathering, though we do intend to attend every year.

Grant ForemanThis year, though kiddo didn’t do much in the way of pre- Pow Wow “research,” I felt the need to grab a book. On my lunch breaks I’ve been perusing The Five Civilized Tribes. I was most interested in the segment on the Choctaw since that is the tribe our rumored ancestor was supposed to have been. (I’m convinced everyone claims a tie to the Native Americans, I’m not convinced everyone has one… I’m not convinced I even have one. But from a geographical standpoint, Choctaw makes good sense.)

I’m not done reading, so a full review cannot commence.  Currently, I’ve read through the Choctaw segment and now am knee deep in the Creeks.  The book, however, is thorough and enjoyable though – as the Christian Science Monitor reported – “pure history, sober, and fully documented.”  One would assume that it would read dry, but it’s not.  Sober and dry should not be used interchangeably when speaking of history, but often it is.  Especially when dealing with the history of the Native American Indian tribes.  Their cultures are too colorful and their history too rich to ever be considered dry.

My favorite bit about the Choctaw is how thoroughly devoted to educating their children they were.  Building school houses and hiring teachers was a huge deal for them.  They built educational requests into their treaties.  Although I don’t agree with institutionalizing, I do find it interesting how much they wanted to learn about those infiltrating their land.  Some would say that it was an effort to assimilate, but I don’t think so.  I think it was more of an effort to understand.  Understanding and knowledge is important to me, though, so perhaps that is always how I will interpret those sorts of actions.

P1000571We don’t speak with the competitors at the Pow Wows much.  I’d like to know what tribes they are affiliated with, who their ancestors are, whether they live next door or on a reservation.  I’d like to talk to them all, interview them all, watch them all more closely.  But they are there for a competition and seem to be far more in the public eye than what could possibly be comfortable.  Instead we politely nod, smile, purchase raffle tickets for Indian Blankets, donate money to musicians, and try not to take too many invasive pictures of the dancers.  Instead, my child makes friends with their children for the day and blows bubbles, and desperately contains herself from touching their bead work and feathers, lest a fiercely intense father of a playmate scowl at all his hard work being undone.

The event is beautiful.  It’s all so beautiful.

Today, however, it was rainy and cold.  The Pow Wow had to be moved from the arena to a pavilion.  The show must go on, though, rain or shine, and despite the cold and the wet, they danced, and they were brilliant and kind.  Kind – even when my daughter said quite boldly during their prayer time, “But Indians DON’T PRAY!”  I promise I didn’t teach her that.  I popped her little butt and said, “Everyone prays, now bow your head.”

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Miraflores

July 22, 2014 at 3:38 pm (Education, Travel) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

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We saw it from the road when we were on our way to a bookstore.  It was on the right (off Hildebrand, on our way to Broadway, I think) and I would have missed it behind the construction cones along the road and the gritty chain link National Rent-a-Fence.  But the gates loomed, demanding to be seen.  The statues looking like mysterious cemetery pieces, but alas, there were no tombstones.

We passed it several times and weren’t actually able to go investigate until our last day there.

P1020606First we stopped at an old Spanish mission (turned greeting center, perhaps?) with a San Antonio Zoo sign perched near the steps.  I suppose we were on the backside of the zoo, or maybe it wasn’t even open, but we found ourselves in a beautiful park.

There were families, and ducks, and families of ducks.  But ultimately that ‘cemetery’ was calling our names and we had to go see it.  We drove back to the main street and lamented the fence.  We entered the parking lot to elsewhere and lamented the fence.  Then, we saw that the chain link gate was ajar.  Left for someone to go in and out for the day? We determined that it must be open by day and locked up at night to keep out the riffraff.  So, cameras in hand, we entered Miraflores, not knowing its name, and explored.

P1020644We found the Doctor’s name on several of the tiled benches.  To my uninformed eye there was no way for me to know they were designed by Atlee B Ayres, famous San Antonio architect.  I just knew they were beautiful and that they were made in honor of or for a Doctor, as the letters were mostly chipped away.  Later, we would see the name Urrutia on the gates.  There, in the mosaics of those grand gates, his name remained in tact and I took yet another photograph.  I skipped jotting down the information in my journal for the sake of spending that precious time getting more photographs.  Even though I thought it was ok to be there, something about the whole experience felt a bit like we had discovered a magic-hour of sorts and I didn’t want to waste a moment.

P1020616Though, I could spend hours there writing.  What I wanted to do more than anything was stay there all day and document every fragmented tile.  I longed for a library to access and investigate each piece of art and how it came to be gathered in this statuary field.  The gate said the “institute” was founded by Doctor Urrutia in 1921.  What institute?  Who was Doctor Urrutia?  What was the plan for this acreage?

P1020634Dr. Urrutia arrived in the States from Mexico in 1915 – as an exile.  He was born in the town “of floating gardens” just south of Mexico City and was a full-blooded Aztec Indian.  He went to medical school, graduated top of his class, and by the age of 22 was the President’s personal physician.  In 1910 Presidente Diaz was replaced by Madero, who was then killed and replaced by Huerta.  In all this killing and backstabbing, Huerta had got himself stabbed in the eye, and it was Urrutia who operated on him.  Then, according to Walt Lockley, Urrutia functioned a bit like a puppet master for the gangster and helped him run the country.

What happened next is a biography worth reading in itself:

But after dark, Urrutia was also accused of a medical assassination – a federal senator from Chiapas who publicly spoke against Huerta, Belisario Dominguez, was arrested as an enemy of the government, in the Jardin Hotel, on October 7, 1913, then taken to a cemetery, where dark persistent rumor has it that Dr. Urrutia cut out his tongue.

Without anesthetic.

Huerta threw eighty congressmen into prison at one point. Urrutia himself issued an ill-advised ultimatum to the US government, wanting official recognition, and Woodrow Wilson responded with battleships to Veracruz. In the late summer of 1914, as this government fell apart, a lot of the Huertistas and the well-to-do and ex-governors and henchmen drained out through Veracruz. Dr. Urrutia was arrested there by General Frederick Funston and was allowed to exile himself to the US: by ship from Veracruz to New Orleans, train from New Orleans to San Antonio, and two rail cars of treasure smuggled across the border later, to finance his new American life and humanitarian career.

– Walt Lockley

Urrutia died in 1975 at the age of 103, in his sleep, at his grand 15 acre estate in San Antonio.  But before that would happen, he would be the first doctor to separate Siamese twins in Texas and he would build something marvelous: Miraflores.  And I got to traipse around its remains.

P1020629Other artists contributed to this historic monument. According to Capturing Nature, Dionicio Rodriguez is responsible for the ‘rocks’ on the gates, but I’m not sure which aspect ‘rocks’ refers to.

In 2004, the area was added to The National Register of Historic Places, primarily for Rodriguez’s contributions.  It is thought that Miraflores contains his earliest work in the states as well as the “most intact and concentrated groupings” of his work.  One of those pieces is actually an extremely unique foot bridge in Breckenridge Park that caught our eyes several times.

The blog Urban Spotlight San Antonio describes a plan, in a post dated 2009, that would make the park open to the public. We saw the bridge from Breckenridge Park the post describes, but the public pedestrian walkway was blocked off and locked.  I am still unsure if the entrance I used was meant for the public or not.  Either way, I am glad I used it and got a chance to see so many beautiful works of art up close.  (There’s an extensive history included in that post regarding who owned the property during which decades and how they used it.  It’s quite interesting.)

According to SA Cultural Tours:

Much of the statuary originally designed for the park has been lost or damaged over the past several decades.  Remaining features include the tiled entrance gates along Hildebrand, designed by Mexican artist Marcelo Izaguirre, as well as the 1946 statue of Dr. Urrutia that originally stood in the center of a large pool.  […]  The park originally featured a small tower building housing Dr. Urrutia’s library, but it has been demolished.  The small remaining cottage, Quinta Maria, was built in 1923 as a guest house.  Statuary moved to the park in the 1960s following the demolition of Dr. Urrutia’s nearby home include the Winged Victory with crouching lions, and the replica of Coyolxauhqui, the Aztec moon goddess.

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I think my favorite… the place where I could sit for hours and reflect and write… would be near Cuautemoc.  He is the last ruler of the Aztecs, extremely energetic, and makes me feel mighty and safe.

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Luis L. Sanchez designed him in 1921, and it’s one of the most impressive statues I have seen in person, just for the sheer power it seems to radiate, like Achilles.

I love that Urrutia chose to include him in his garden.  Regardless of the sinister rumors that still surround Urrutia and his political dealings – including this statue in his place of exile says a lot about his passions and his identity.  He respected his heritage, his elders, and the past.  He had a taste for art, I think, I cannot bring myself to believe that he did this for the mere sake of showing off his money.  He had a library that has not survived, and clearly had a thirst for knowledge and legacy.

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After many business deals and exchanging of hands, The University of Incarnate Word now stands where Urrutia wanted a hospital.  The San Antonio Express reported in 1929 that Urrutia’s “grand ambition is to found a hospital here which will perpetuate his work … a hospital composed of pleasant, homelike bungalows surrounded by flowered lawns, clustered around a central House of Administration. For this purpose, he has bought an extensive piece of property on Broadway and Hildebrand.”  It sounds to me as though he sought some gentle peace after his years in Mexican politics.

However, Urrutia’s “institution” remained a private garden for hosting his family and parties, for morning excursions to swim laps in the pools, and to feed his peacocks while wearing his infamous cape.  I’m a little sorry the property never became exactly like he dreamed, but am glad he put forth the effort to get the gardens going.

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Interview with Marit Menzin

July 10, 2014 at 8:45 pm (Interviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

MaritAlong with the story time kids, I had the opportunity to interview the author of Song for Papa Crow, Marit Menzin.

First, questions from the kids:

“What made you want to write a book like this one, about crows and singing?” – Justin, age 9

I love animals and nature, and I’m childlike in the sense that I always keep asking questions. I live in Lexington, Massachusetts where I see most of the birds featured in Song for Papa Crow in my backyard. The idea for my book came to me when I helped one of my children with a school project on birds. When I discovered that father crows take care of their offspring longer than most other birds, and that the whole flock would come to help a wounded crow, I asked myself: What would happen if a little crow was teased by songbirds for his unique song? And, what if in his quest to make friends he learned the other birds’ songs, but when he was in danger his father wouldn’t recognize his song? This idea is not farfetched, as I learned to my surprise that crows can mimic sounds made by animals and other birds, as well as sounds made by humans.

P1020327“What moral were you trying to get across?” – Ethan, age 11

When I wrote my story I wasn’t thinking about morals, but there are many morals that I subconsciously conveyed: Every child is special, and every child has unique gifts. Be proud of your family, and with who you are. It’s a good idea to tell your parents where you’re going, and whom you’re hanging out with so they’ll know where to find you. Your family loves you no matter what. Your family is the most important thing.

“My question is about Papa Crow. Will he always save Little Crow? That’s my question.” – Ayla, age 3

Yes. Papa Crow will ALWAYS save Little Crow when he hears his voice. For Papa Crow, Little Crow’s voice is the sweetest thing in the world.

“Exactly why did you make the singing scenes? And who did you write the story for?” – Ian, age 7

I made the singing scenes because the birds I see and listen to in my backyard inspired me. I also thought that it would be fun to research bird songs and rituals.

northern_mockingbird_glamour“Why did you make the mockingbird the rock star?” – Alex, age 9

Although Song for Papa Crow is a fiction picture book, the story line is based on true facts. The mockingbird is a great singer who can imitate the sounds of other birds, and is also one of the few birds that can be heard singing at night.

Questions from Anaklian Whims Blog:

What led you to Schiffer Books? (www.schifferbooks.com)

I heard of Schiffer Publishing from a local author I ran into when my art was exhibited at my local library. JungkeSml

What inspired your collage art? It’s a very unique way to illustrate.

I doodled and painted since my early childhood, and I experimented with different art media including oils, and pastels. But I only started developing my collage technique when I took classes with the Caldecott award-winning illustrator Ilse Plume at the deCordova Museum.

I see that you are a freelance collage artist. You do book covers for hire? What sort of cost would an indie author be looking at?

I designed the cover for my book. In general, a cover price can range anywhere from $150 to $4000 but an Indie Author could pay $250-$1000 depending on what she’s looking for and how much work is involved.

Do you have more kids’ books of your own in your future?

I’m currently working on the illustrations for a new book.

I see you do school visits. What would it take to get you to Texas?

I would love to visit Texas. You’ll have to add travel & lodging expenses to visit cost. For more about this author/illustrator, visit: http://maritmenzin.com/

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How to Achieve True Boredom

July 6, 2014 at 9:21 pm (Education, Reviews) (, , , , , , )

CastiglioneTitle: How to Achieve True Greatness

Author: Baldesar Castiglione

Publisher: Penguin (Great Ideas)

The Penguin Great Ideas Books are usually my go to source of reading something in one sitting.  If not that, I toss them in my bag or back pocket for a walk in the woods or for waiting room entertainment.

How to Achieve True Greatness did not live up to my expectations.

This was 93 pages of pure boredom.

I picked it up – read some pages – put it down.  I took it to the bathtub with me only to find myself wanting to get out of the tub faster to pick a different book.

There were some bits about twenty pages in that interested me long enough for the book to start redeeming itself, but then I later lost interest again.

Not your best, world history masters, not  your best.

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Song for Papa Crow

June 30, 2014 at 10:23 pm (Education, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

songforpapacrowTitle: Song for Papa Crow

Author: Marit Menzin

Publisher: Schiffer Publishing

Genre: Children’s Picture Book

I was delighted to have Schiffer Publishing contact me to review a selection of their picture books.  There can never be too many children’s books here in the Klemm household, as kiddo devours them for breakfast, elevenses, lunch, dinner, and bedtime.  We’re readers. We read.  We’re also artists and we love admiring quality picture books.

As a homeschool mom of an aspiring birder, I couldn’t find Song for Papa Crow any more perfect.

This is a lovely story about how Little Crow loves to sing.  He sings his heart out and in the course of teaching children what birds of North America make what sounds, we also follow Little Crow on a a journey of self-discovery and why it’s a beautiful thing to be yourself.

Menzin’s collage art is gorgeous.  Kiddo and I adore all the rich colors.  We spend a good deal of time outdoors and it’s wonderful to see nature portrayed with so much texture even while confined to the pages of a book.

Of course, after every book, I ask kiddo what she thinks.  My three year old smiled broadly and responded, “I think it’s ridiculous.”  Ridiculous, naturally, being pronounced ridicooooolous and said for the sheer enjoyment of using the word.  Proven by the fact that she has asked for me to read “the Papa Crow one” at least twice a day since our first reading.

Now, a week later, I ask kiddo:

“Would you like to say anything about Papa Crow to our readers?”

“Yes,” she says decisively.

“What would you like to say?”

“Nothing at all, I just want it to be SEEN.”

Powerful words from a three year old, I think.  She’s right, we could talk about how awesome Papa Crow is all day, but when all is said and done, Menzin’s collages simply must be seen.

Songs for Papa Crow will accompany us to Story Time at Half Price Books Humble for the next two weeks (July 2nd & 9th).  We meet every Wednesday, all summer, at 10:30 am.  Though we typically read multiple titles, we tend to choose a favorite to feature each week.  We will also have a few Schiffer Kids Spring 2014 Catalogs for patrons of Story Time to peruse.  Snacks are provided.

I look forward to reading more from Schiffer Books as well as Marit Menzin.  The Klemms are officially fans for life.

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Life Lessons in Paint

June 15, 2014 at 8:39 pm (Education) (, , , , , , )

HomeschoolP1000786ing is a little more than having a lot of books at your disposal.  Not much more, mind you, because books can answer all life’s questions – but still there’s a little bit more.

Our version of more involves a lot of art supplies.  I wait for great sales, sometimes I even buy used canvases for next to nothing at Goodwill and garage sales and whitewash them, I’ve even been known to pull canvases out of trash cans.  I’m that mom.  One way or another I want to get art supplies into my daughter’s hands, and not the “kid” versionP1000837s – I want her to have real paint, real brushes, and real canvases to work with.

At Christmas we requested that in lieu of toys and other items that will end up donated when she outgrows them or trashed when they are obliterated from use, to gift her art supplies instead.  We’re not depriving her for the sake of enrichment, I assure you.  I believe free play is essential and important.  The girl gets tons of toys on her birthday and throughout the year and has mountains of them.  Does she need mountains of them? No.  Will we use the art supplies? Oh yes.

Thus began our friends and family slowly jumping on board with how we handle our week, our budget, and our holiday requests.  As my daughter started to produce piece after piece (some not shown as they were gifted away prior to me thinking out documenting them)…

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She chooses her own colors, even mixes them if she has to and decides which brush she wants to use at any given moment.  P1020187Each piece is entirely her own and we even discuss what she wants to name each one.

Pursuing art in this fashion is a daily exercise in understanding the scientific side of color (what it takes to make a color), as in the beginning we started only with primary colors, though we have been gifted additional ones.  She is learning about texture, movement, and how to convey emotion.

In addition to that, she understands saving and budgeting for things she wants.  How to prioritize certain desires: sometimes she uses birthday money for books, sometimes for toys, and sometimes for her own art supplies.  (Even more often, she opts to put it in the piggy bank or fund an extra trip to Chick-fila.)

It also brings the books we study to life.

Since birth, I have made a point to introduce her to as many of the Getting to Know the World’s Artists as we can get our hands on.  Kiddo has studied Raphael, Da Vinci, Michaelangelo, and more.  She had a board book as a baby of artwork from Rosseau and another from Renoir.  We also love reading “Nature’s Paintbox: A Seasonal Gallery of Art & Verse” by Patrick Thomas and Craig Orback, helping kids to see the world through different art media – ink, pastel, watercolor, oil, etc.

We read through The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “Monet’s Impressions: Words and Pictures by Claude Monet” all the time.  She seems to like the Impressionists a lot.P1020191

Which kick started our trips to the lake, taking paints and canvases to paint outdoors like they discuss in one of our favorite art books:

Picture This! “Activities and Adventures in Impressionism,” an Art Explorers book by Joyce Raimondo.  The book is an excellent way to help kids understand art history and how art movements begin.  It introduces real paintings and real painters, and inspires kids to do their own projects.

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We also have a book on Frida, called “Frida Maria: A Story of the Old Southwest” by Deborah Nourse Lattimore, because all art forms are welcome in our house, as well as every bit of history we can find.

Which is why we also picked up a copy of “Leonardo: Beautiful Dreamer” by Robert Byrd at the library.  We’ve been reading a few pages of that every day and I could not be more pleased with a picture book.

More than anything in this adventure through motherhood and homeschooling, I’m realizing that so much of ‘homeschooling’ has very little to do with what I know or what I can teach – it’s about granting access to where the knowledge is.  It’s about handing her the tools and giving her the freedom to figure it out, to learn, and discover.  So many times people argue that homeschooling stunts children to only learn what their parents know, when in reality it is quite the opposite.  When they have so much free time, under a little nudge here and some pointers there, children are much more likely to learn to learn for themselves.  A parent’s job, a teacher’s job, is to provide the tools for them to do that.

I didn’t think these things from the get go.  I merely picked up books that caught my attention.  I got her the art supplies initially because I had taken art in high school and my sister has always had natural talent with a sketchbook.  I wanted my kid to get these things in her hands sooner rather than later because I had a lot of anxiety regarding art supplies – I was afraid to be freely creative because I feared being wasteful with something considered semi-precious.   But over the last year and a half of actively putting these supplies in my kid’s hands, I have shaped a philosophy.

Here is a canvas, here is a paintbrush, here are some paints, here are a few books that show you the glorious nature of art throughout history – suddenly, you have a child who is beginning to understand history, humanity, science, and the world at large.  Imagine the implications when I give her the tools to language and math.  The sky is the limit and the list of people who learned to think through information on their own become the inspiration: Einstein, Curie, Alcott, Da Vinci…

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Sun-Burned Days

June 13, 2014 at 6:03 pm (Education, In So Many Words) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

P1020224We went to the beach yesterday.  It was amazing.  We played in the sun, splashed in the waves, built sand castles with moats and walls and invading armies.  We applied sunblock every 30 minutes to our fair-fair skin – spf 50.  And in between those moments sprayed another kind of sunblock over our whole body to ensure that I hadn’t missed any spots.

Nonetheless, today we are burnt.  Really burnt.  Ok, so kiddo is moderately burnt and my legs look like lobster legs.

These are the days when being a reader and quasi hermit come in handy… we are sitting in the cool of the house watching book-based movies (The Rise of the Guardians) and patting our body parts down with home remedies.

So far, it has been a steady application of vinegar water (to take the heat out), egg whites (to minimize the blistering), aloe vera (because everyone knows to use aloe!), and at some point today I plan to try out a black tea poultice but that will require me to go purchase some Earl Gray.  Frankly, neither one of us wants to leave the house.

Prior to all this excitement (or miserable post-beach adventurism) however, I was seriously looking into the idea of moving closer to the shoreline.  (I’m still thinking I want to add this to my bucket list.)  If only for a 6 month lease someday.

1900 flood statueGalveston in particular is full of a rich history that I was briefly introduced to in school, mostly surrounding the epic flood of 1900 and the statue memorializing that event.  I remember studying the great September 8th flood in both fourth grade and seventh grade.  I even wrote a fictional diary of a girl caught in the flood as part of a required creative writing exercise.  With 145 mile an hour winds, near total destruction, families lost and killed, I sort of believed it wasn’t a viable living option.  Despite it being a great place to visit for the day, when Ike hit, I was still surprised to learn that people actually live on the island year round.  I grew up believing it was a Houstonian’s day trip destination and nothing more.

Galveston statueOne in particular that amazed me this weekend was the statue regarding the Texas Revolution.  It’s huge, and gorgeous, and well worth a child’s research paper.  Despite all the intense Texas History a child is submitted to as a ward of the Texas public education system, I had completely been unaware (or merely forgot) that Galveston was the Republic of Texas’ capital city.

I definitely want to incorporate more beach trips into our lives – despite our fair skin and my current severe sun burn.  But if I were to ever live there for a few months or so with our kiddo, I have so many cool lessons plans already half built around what would become our daily schedule.  Just the architecture alone is worth a good week’s worth of study.

The whole day was a gentle reminder to be a tourist in your own city from time to time.  It can be highly educational.

moody-mansion

Until then, maybe we’ll check out some Books about Galveston Island.

 

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