Saturday, 27 September 2014

Godly Play and Character Development

  " Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth." Deuteronomy 11: 18-21

Our faith is a very important part of our family life.  There is no separation for us, church is not just a Sunday morning thing.  We talk about God's creations when we are in nature, bible stories that relate to what we are doing, biblical wisdom and Godly advice that guides behaviour...

This year I really wanted to be more intentional about character development and taking time to share more bible stories with my boys.  I was very inspired by this blog to incorporate more Godly Play into our daily rhythm.  Now we do not follow a set curriculum or liturgical calendar.  I simply took what I have read and made it our own.
MJ's story telling
Here are some ideas of how we have incorporated such things into our home:
  • We have a story telling area in the family room always set up.  There is a basket of characters close by.  We add play silks and other accessories as needed from the playroom.  My younger son always adds his trucks and lego creations when telling me a story.  He loves to tall me stories all day long especially after I have had my turn.  Often he'll ask me to incorporate one of his toys into whatever story I'm doing.  There may not have been tractors in bible times, but here is at our house!
  • At the moment we are working our way through the alphabet spending two days on each letter (one day is uppercase and another is lowercase).  As often as possible I have used a bible story to help with the letter of the day.  For example "A" was the story of Jesus's birth because there are lots of Angels, while "a" was the story of Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit because the small a looks like an apple.
  • My boys are also in AWANAS (a mid-week church group) so we review their memory verses and stories each day.  Sometimes we'll read the story from a picture book, bible, or use toys to act it out.
  • For character development we are focusing on one thing each month.  September was Attentiveness.  For inspiration I used Kids of Integrity along with some ideas I found on Pintrest, Google, and some other various books in our collection.  Throughout the month we work on a memory verse for that character, work towards understanding what it means, highlight when the boys are doing it/ or not, tell bible stories and do other activities to extend the idea.  My boys are doing much better with attention now and I think giving ourselves a month to focus on it relieved my pressure if we missed a day or more, and gave us all time to fully understand the meaning
  • We talk about our faith and what it means as a natural part of our daily life.  Because it flows so naturally things come up on their own that tie us back to pointing the boys to the LORD.  Oh and we love a good praise song here too!  My boys get right into it.

I'd love to hear what you are doing?  How are you sharing your faith with your children?  What curriculum or ideas do you have to share?

Some of the characters we made and use

Note on what we use: Our awesome cave stacker is shades of brown on one side and rainbow on the other.  It came from Simple Gift Toys.  I made the wire bendy people using a tutorials from Wee Folk Art and Willodel.  We also use peg people I made, all sorts of felt and knit creations of mine along with Playmbil and small wooden toys.  We dyed our own playsilks but you can use any material, nature objects and such (a coconut shell is very versatile).

We no longer follow a set curriculum, but still tell stories often throughout the week.  My boys often choose the bible as a book for reading along with others that they are interested in.  Although we don't currently follow a schedule or plan for character development, we do address anything that comes up naturally.  I now have a variety of stories and things I can bring in to our discussions etc.  Feel free to ask me more about how this works with unschooling if you'd like.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

A week of smaller projects

Wow what a great week we've had.  I really tried to narrow down my photos but we just did so much.  
Trip to the local apple farm with kids play area

MJ's gears, and several snow blowers

MJ has been a super builder this week, as usual.  He made me a few videos to describe his creations.  We watched some videos all about how snowblowers, chainsaws, rototillers etc. work and this has transferred into his play.  We gave him tool box full of old parts and he was in heaven!  We took the tool box for a walk too.  The boys helped me to select their own baking supplies for concoctions/potions which has helped to keep that under control.  MJ is also adorable telling stories all the time.  He love to have a turn after me each day at story time.

MJ's tools and parts, concoctions, and story telling

Chainsaw progression
TJ has impressed me with his determination this week.  After watching a video on how chainsaws work, TJ really wanted to paint one.  At first he was very frustrated that his first one wasn't as expected.  I suggested practicing a few times and drawing lightly in pencil first.  He draw one he really liked but then painting over it became smudgy.  We talked about different mediums to use and he settled on markers.  He coloured it in and asked me to smooth around the edges.  We re-did his handle and he proudly cut it out and framed his drawing!

TJ's fishing week
Fishing became a passion later in the week.  We visited a local conservation area with a lake.  We didn't catch anything, so TJ played with a large lure.  At home he asked us to remove the hooks and played fishing for several days (he even made a lake of blankets).  On the weekend TJ made his own lures, we looked up different types of fish he might catch along with different types of lures that are popular.  This enriched his play even more.  The Magic School bus has some fun fish related episodes.  TJ has really improved his casting out.  MJ and I have been playing along too.  I think we'll be fishing into the next week or so...

Other things we've been up to include demolition of the outside wall on the garage.  The whole family took turns removing bricks, wood and dirt.  It is all ripped up now, and we are re-grading all the way around the garage area.  My boys are hard working.

Math makes it's way into everything.  We did patterning with nuts and bolts.  They love the flyers from the grocery store to tell me what's on sale.  I usually probe more and ask a few shopping math type questions.  The boys come to me and tell me lots of math facts too (TJ was doubling and MJ was adding on their own accord). 

At the apple farm we bought a large bag of seconds.  This made a tone of apple sauce, and dried apples.  Of course my special helpers were awesome, and then took these activities into their own play more.

TJ's been practicing his letters.  We tell stories each day or either a capital or lowercase letter, then MJ tells me his stories.  We practice the letters on the chalk board and in other ways.  TJ is creating an alphabet book to help us teach MJ his letters.

So my goal coming up is to work on balancing house work, garage renos, office work, homeschooling, play etc so that it flows a little better.  We are having a great time and look forward to welcoming the fall.

I'd love to hear what you are doing.  Please do share....
ALSO would you like me to create a Facebook page for this blog??

Friday, 12 September 2014

Homeschool update weeks 1 & 2

After my post on our first day of school I've had several requests to find out how the rest of the week went.  Let me just first say that our first day of school went incredibly well because I was extremely well prepared and everyone was excited.  Although we were quite productive the rest of the week, not every day is the same.

The rest of week 1 included two wonderful playdates with new friends.  We can't wait to get together again with each family.  The boys also had their yearly doctor's check-up (all is well).  The boys were very engaged in the stories I told.  MJ loves to use the little characters to tell me more stories. Our week ended with a fall fair at the church down the street from us.  On the weekend my boys went to a company picnic with my mom and dad.  And we did some work around the house.
MJ at skate park, making bread, TJ painting, TJ at skate park

Week 2 was very active for the boys.  They had their first swimming lessons at the YMCA and loved it!  They both did very well in their classes.  We haven't baked bread in a long time because the boys were gluten free.  Over the summer we went off course so bread baking was back on this week.  We made 4 loaves of bread and some buns.  The boys were fascinated by the yeast reaction.  This prompted some very interesting concoctions/potions.  Once mommy got a little frustrated with all the food supplies being used up, the boys too their work outside to gather some free nature!  We spent a day with my sister and her two boys (my niece is in SK now).  One day we cared for a little boy that used to be in our daycare.  The boys all had a great day together.  It was wonderful to see them being so caring and helpful.  Later in the week the boys visited a different YMCA for a homeschool gym time.  TJ had a blast and MJ did too although he was a little more reluctant.  TJ's group played dodgeball and some other organized games.  MJ is in the younger group with toys, stories and some games.  I'm hoping to do some office work during that time.  We ended our week with a trip to the skate park.
Angel A's, making bread, potions and concoctions
Don't worry I haven't forgotten about academic things too.  I just wanted to group them together with the photos.

During week 1 TJ focused on form drawing (prewriting activities).  He draw on the chalk board, created patterns with sticks, drew in the dirt and on paper.  In week 2 we focused on reviewing letters A, a, B and b.  Both boys are doing different things with these letters.  MJ is working on recognition, sounds, and attempting to write them.  TJ is working on reading, writing (penmanship), and art.  We tell a story to go with each letter.  They practice writing on the chalk board and on paper.  We turn the letter into a picture to help us remember, then TJ writes in the alphabet book we are making.

In Waldorf we'd be using fairy tales to introduce the letters.  I am doing both Upper and Lower case letters so I've added extra stories and changed a few around.  I have also added bible stories as often as I can.  The stories and pictures I chose:
A - Jesus' birth, picture of an angel
a - Adam and Eve sin, picture of an apple
B - Story I found online about a bee, picture of a bee
b - story about a bunny, picture of a bunny
TJ's new flyer, recycling model plane

TJ worked on his flight project by completing his recycled model plane.  He also decided to start a book to show what he was learning.  This week he wrote about parachutes (I have to take a photo of that).  TJ spent several days playing with his new parachute man.  We also made some new model airplanes, and paper helicopter.  I helped to answer some new questions TJ had about how helicopters hover and fly.  We'll have to add more to his book and notes next week.
MJ's chalk drawing with a heart and urinary system, painting of broccoli going through the intestines, shark skeleton, kidney filter experiment
MJ had me read a lot to him.  He dabbled in art and drawing bringing what he knew about the body into his work.  He also made some fun lego creations too.  I wasn't quite sure how to encourage MJ with his project without taking over.  I went on Pintest and found some possible ideas.  I showed them to MJ and he made his own sin on the idea I found.  MJ used Q-tips as bones to make the skeleton for a shark.  He thought of this because we happen to have a collection of shark teeth.  So I gave him a few for his picture.  Later in the week I demonstrated to the boys how the kidneys worked using a coffee filter, juice and some pepper.  We talked about how that system worked.  The boys spent a long time pouring liquids into the filters until there was water all over the floor.  We also found some great videos on the body and I added an app to my iphone for them to play.

So there you are.  We are having a wonderful time learning, living and playing.  Continually working on a balance of it all and enjoying spending our days together.

What have you been up to??

MeAgain Creations: Upcycled Denim Jacket

MeAgain Creations is my page on Facebook to sell unique upcycled creations and other fabulous custom orders.  While it is not as active as it once was, I am still around and take on custom orders.  I have also not given up on my own crafts.

This most recent project started with a large pile of jeans and a dream.  I originally was going to make a fabulous floor length denim jacket/dress.  With the addition or some darker denim long skirts and jacket patterns, my dream coat changed a little and became a reality.

So here it is... once some denim skirts, jeans and a fabulous fabric from France is now my awesome fall jacket!!

BUT WAIT!!  It actually isn't 100% finished yet.  I was just too excited to wait until the gorgeous belt was done to show off the rest of the jacket.  So here is the coat alone and I'll post it again once I've finished the beautifully embroidered belt.

I've also included some pictures below to a few of my other recent projects.

Next up are pyjama pants for my boys, sweatpants too, and an incredible hand embroidered wool skirt.  My mom also gave me some fabulous wool so I will be knitting up a few sweaters over the winter as well.

Come visit me some time on Facebook MeAgain Creations 

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

First day of school Grade 1 & JK

September is here and so our school year has started! I was up early before the boys and all ready to start our day.  After breakfast we had morning meeting.  This is for prayer, memory verses, seasonal poems and a review of the day.

Next up was story time.  The boys just loved hearing about Cloud Boy.  This is a lovely story from CederRingMama  made up for her son. It is a wonderful intro to form drawing. I used our great stacker from Simple Gift Toys along with Playmobil.  When we were done MJ took a turn telling me a story using a toy motor cycle and Playmobil.  It was adorable.

While MJ played with his toys TJ and I moved to the classroom to practice some form drawing.  The Cloud Boys story speaks of a young boy who drew pictures in the clouds. We focused today on straight lines.  TJ even made up his own picture for me to follow (bottom left).

During free play times throughout the day the boys played doctor (I make a great patient), Playmobil, Lego, and some new parachute men they received as a gift.  We went to the playground to find a higher spot to launch the parachute men.  TJ was thrilled.  He trying every  surface and height he could find.  We chatted for a while about the forces acting on his parachute man.  It was good for TJ to directly interact with the forces of gravity and drag.

 While at the playground we went on a hunt to look for straight and curved lines.  The boys quickly pointed out all the straight poles of man-made items around.  I asked them to look harder and find the straight things that God had made.  MJ found a mix of natural and man-made items with my camera.  He was rather insightful to tell me how people are straight, arms, and eyelashes are also straight.

 TJ and I looked around the community garden plot.  There were many wonderful examples for vegetables growing straight and tall.  We took a little more time to find horizontal or angled lines.
 Of course there was an abundance of curves too that TJ wanted me to save for later when we work on curved drawings.  Shockingly all this incredible learning happened before lunch time!!

After lunch I read some of a Magic Tree House story, then the boys had quiet time.  Okay it's never really all that quiet...

In the afternoon I introduced project time.  I spent time with each boys separately going over their own project of interest was.  TJ has been into flight recently.  We have read books and watched movies on airplanes and flight throughout the summer.  Today TJ dictated to me what he learned about parachute from playing at the playground.  He also drew a picture in his notebook.  Next we reviewed his past questions and answered them.  TJ told me what to write. I also took a video of his explanation of jet engines.  Sorry it is too big to post here.  After we wrote down his new questions, I asked him what he wanted to do with all this new information.  How could he show what he learned or what did he want to make.  TJ decided to make jet plane from recycling.  It'll be done in a few days perhaps.  I really can't wait to show you all how much he as learned from this topic.  He is actually grasping it all!

MJ's recent passion has been the human body.  He is constantly asking me how different functions of the body work and loves the human body books we have read.  On occasion he will perfectly tell me how the voice works or digestion. I have noticed that looking at the pictures in the books helps him a lot. Of course he just loves to hear about what happens when we drink water (peeeee).  I tried to have MJ tell me what he knew today for a video but he wasn't too into that (rather he was in a silly mood).  He really doesn't grasp what I mean about doing a project or anything with what he is learning.  I have some ideas of great projects for him, that we may do.  For today he made a popsicle stick sculpture which he said was a body of some sort.  I traced MJ on large paper and he then drew a picture of his sculpture on it.  Not sure I understood but it's his project not mine...

Later in the afternoon we played outside in the rain!  The boys played together for a bit.  Then MJ and I made tomato sauce as he's been really into the hand held apple sauce grinder thing.  When I noticed there was lots of time left before dinner we had music lessons.  We have been using Alfred's Music for Little Motzarts.  TJ progressed well through a few lessons and was thrilled to play a song.  MJ had a shorter lesson but stuck with me as I promised he could play with the funny sounds on the keyboard when he was done.  Here is TJ concentrating on listening to the different sounds during his free play music time.

After that I had the boys do some chores, we read more of our book, ate dinner and then played again.  I sent the boys off to play in another room  so I could have some down time before evening routine. And so ends our first day of school.  It was a great day to just be together without the daycare or having to specifically be somewhere else.  I know not every day will run so smoothly, but on a whole I'm really happy with the rhythm of the day.  It's going to be an awesome year!!