28 June 2010

unschool monday :: siblings and the creative process

I'm often asked how I juggle home educating two children... they are both at very different stages of development... and how am I going to cope with a new one on the way?!! Well you just do, don't you? You all just roll along and try and remember to be patient with one another. There are always going to be challenging times and other times where you just fly. Just normal family stuff. Usually we are having so much fun we don't have time to think about it! I find that keeping activities flexible and allowing the owlets to take charge of their creative process means we cover all bases and cater to their level of development and their interests. If I restricted what we do to my own ideas, or my own plan, not only would they lose interest immediately, but they wouldn't take it further, ask questions, really learn.

Here's another day at owlet HQ. Last Thursday to be precise. You remember our winter list of ideas? We're over half way through them... best think of some more. So anyway, this particular day we start out with paint. Immediately when they ask to do it, my heart leaps into my mouth and I want to say "no, but its so clean..." But I get down the paint and off we go. Since we're looking out the window so much, how about we paint the windows? Bye bye clean, hello happy owlets! They are instantly engaged, working at their own levels, trying out some writing, enjoying the creative process.

Next up, wool dolls!! Little owlet needs a little more help with this one, but she enjoys the process and loves playing with the doll for ages afterward. They both do. For hours... They act out little stories, entertain each other.

After lunch, we decide to have a look at ice. Its winter, so we've been talking about it. We want to colour some ice cubes. We turn out some that are already frozen and make some new ones. We drop colour in to see what happens when we add it to the water, then freeze it. Then we try salting and colouring the outside of the frozen blocks to see what happens to the colour. Interesting! Lots of discussion about water and colour and ice and temperature....

Now what? How can we use the ice blocks now? The trays will go into the freezer for another day's discussion and experimentation, but the bowl of colourful blocks?

Lets make a picture! We grab a roll of paper and fling the ice cubes out across the table, watching the colour spread as they slide and melt. More talk of cold and colour and water and solids and liquids, more learning and observation.

Now what? Messy inky hands. Lets run a bath!! We put the ice blocks in and they melt in the warm bath which has now turned blue. More discussion, observation... During this process, I offer suggestions but listen to their suggestions and we try them out. There's no room for ego or control. It becomes our creative process, our ideas, our day and ultimately we all learn together. The owlets take in information at their own pace and information is shared among the three of us. Big owlet loves showing little owlet things she has learned and little owlet surprises us with her observations. After the bath? Big owlet has taken to reading little owlet stories. Big win for everyone here. Little owlet loves to listen and big owlet loves to read. She's practicing her reading skills constantly and gaining confidence every day... and I get a little quiet time.

Of course, its not always like this. They fight, like siblings do, but they tend to work it out pretty quickly. They communicate if they need to do something else, or see other friends, do more or less. Today a day where we did less. It was proclaimed "nudie day" and they've played all over the house completely naked... in the middle of winter... lying in a sunny window, making cubby houses, eating fruit, and watching "Little House on the Prairie". Today we watched an episode where Ma teaches at the school, a composite class of about 15 children of all ages and stages... I wonder how she does it?

24 June 2010

my creative space...

I'll be working on this over the next few days... I've been spying it in my basket, thinking about it, finding something else I need to do instead... I'm a bit stuck!! I'm hoping the inspiration will come to me like a flash in the next few hours. Its a Mama and Baby blessing flag for a lovely friend interstate. I'm picturing her birthing space filled with lovely colours and I'm honoured to have been asked to contribute... Now c'mon creativity!!

Maybe I need a wander around at Kirsty's for some inspiration. See you there. x

23 June 2010

Weekend decorator

Maybe its nesting... Or maybe its just too cold outside... we've been gradually working through the house and doing all those things we've always meant to. Like hanging the mirrors we've had in a cupboard for two years, or finding a cabinet for the hallway... Craft storage problem solved!

We finally put Huz's Christmas present on display. We found a much easier solution than hanging them on the wall, but it makes the mantelpiece look so much tidier, I think.

We found a spot for the owl clock too... watching over the owlets in their little kitchen. Next weekend promises painting and more painting... I reckon by the time our new owlet is here we'll be ready for a good rest!

21 June 2010

unschool monday :: feeling seedy

I love it when this happens... We're going from one thing to another, just going with the flow of the day. Then I look back on the morning, while sipping a hot chocolate and realise we've just completed a unit study on whatever we were doing... Its like when you design or make something and you don't really have an idea going into it, or you make a few mistakes along the way, but somehow it all just falls into place and works. Then of course, you have to say that you meant it all along... Today it was all about seeds. We started with a bird feeder.

Then we had a go at sprouting.

Next we found last winter's broad beans...

And planted a broad bean forest and some snow pea tee pees.

Then we planted our tulip bulbs, too late I fear, but better late than never. We'll keep an eye on them inside.

And after all that we were exhausted, so we popped some corn and watched a movie. Too perfect... I planned it that way all along of course ;)

20 June 2010

Thrifty finds :: part two

Little owlet is very serious about reading. This is her library, although she can often be seen stealing books off our shelves. Her faves are the leather bound ones, perhaps a little dog eared and with some gold somewhere on the cover. She has a hankering for russian literature, or Dickens, or Keats. For her birthday, she wants a book "with words, but not with pictures". She wants an old phone too. I suspect all the tip shop and garage sale journeys we've made since her birth have made an impression. She's our little vintage lover.

When we saw this, we knew it was hers. Its a beautiful chair we suspect was handmade in the 1940's and its in perfect condition, well maybe a scuff here or there. A little clean up and polish and a little cushion and I'd say it will be perfect. We're planning on painting the room and moving beds around too, so the room will really come together soon, just perfect for little owlet.

19 June 2010

Thrifty finds :: part one

An owlet free afternoon, just me and Huz... A beautiful day, a car and a road to follow... We wandered down near the water, found some food and five of these beautiful french ring top jars at the tip shop. I can't believe someone threw them in the bin. They are the perfect size and now I believe my collection of tip shop jars is almost complete! My cupboards are almost ant free too - no mean feat where I live!!

17 June 2010

my creative space...

Yeah, I know *yawn* but hey, I'm multitasking here! Actually, the owlets are in the midst of one of their busy creative benders, so this is about all the creative space I can handle right now. A little quiet time on the couch with the bump, knitting the new twosuh.

I have aspirations for a more exciting space next week, but in the meantime, go visit Kirsty for oodles of inspiration.

Edit:: Not two minutes had passed after posting this, when I herd the *SNAP!!* of my knitting needle as little owlet climbed on the couch... *sigh* and begin again... well it was a lovely few moments...

14 June 2010

unschool monday :: wintering

Its been a long weekend here and a nice spot to pause and acknowledge that winter is upon us. Chilly early mornings with beautiful sunrises, or mist down the river and in the hills behind.

We've had a little clean up. There are new faces at the window and we're marvelling at how little owlet's drawing has evolved.

Decorating our seasonal table with treasures, like a bowerbird's nest. Helping us start again. We've made a new list of activities for some things we might like to do this season. Some we will get to and some we may not. Big owlet has asked for some more structured activities in her mornings, so it helps to have some things up our sleeves... I love the ebb and flow in our unschooled weeks. Some days are intense, moving from one activity to the next together, and others are quiet as we go about our own business...

Winter ideas so far...

Firing pots in a sawdust kiln in the garden
Making lanterns
Making snowflakes
Go up the mountain to play with the snow
Visit some caves
Visit the Antarctic division and learn more about Antarctica.
Go horse riding for big owlet's birthday
Go to the theatre
Knitting with big owlet
Finger knitting with little owlet
Make a wool doll
Growing sprouts
Watching tulip bulbs grow
Experimenting with ice
Watching shadows
Making puppets
A puppet performance
Make a bird feeder
Wax modelling
Make a terrarium/moss garden
Making and decorating candles
Baking bread
Making soup
Making music
Gingerbread men
Sun catchers

13 June 2010

Something special

I completed a couple of custom Mini Mei Tais yesterday for local crafty woman Katie and her two nieces. These come complete with felt letter patches. I hope they like them!!

PS> I'm more than happy to make Mini Mei Tais up for the owlets in your life. Just let me know what colours you like and any extras and I'll whip them up!! xx

7 June 2010

unschool monday :: writing without a license

I've used a pic similar to this before, but this one gives me a giggle. Note little owlet's concentrating face... its the same one I make. Not a tongue or a funny jaw like big owlet, or curled over toes like Huz, but sucked in cheeks. I love that something like that can be hereditary. I also love that she holds the pen the same way I did, confidently, but with two fingers gripping it instead of just her pointer. I remember my struggles at school holding my pen that way. All wrong. It helped me gain control so that I could move the pen the way I needed to, but it was wrong. It needed correcting, so we trialled various pen grips and mum spent many hours helping me practice my writing, the way the school wanted me to. I lost confidence and even still, I'm quite critical of my handwriting.

I was one of the last in my class to obtain a pen license. I've always been a late bloomer. I've also always considered the notion of a license or certificate to use a writing implement to be rather silly. Well it is really, isn't it? I believe its still custom to hand out pen licenses to kids in about grade four. I'm sure there's a sense of achievement when you finally get the piece of paper that says you can use the pen, but I remember what its like to be the kid waiting to be good enough, still not being there by term 3, and the teacher handing it over reluctantly because its getting a tad embarrassing...

Not wanting the owlets to feel the same sense of exclusion, they have free reign on the art materials (even the good ones) and writing implements around here. They've been happily writing unlicensed since about 12mths. Little owlet writes very complicated prose in a series of little squiggles that are quite legible to her and that's what counts. Letters of the alphabet are making an appearance now too, as she learns to recognise them. Big owlet is just beginning to write words that the rest of us can read too. She's moving through mirror writing and the words are coming together beautifully. We're careful not to correct her, but occasionally point out what we see and she's getting there in her own time. Its wonderful to watch her write a card or letter in her own hand and with little help. Also interesting to watch her understand how words work, words that she can already read but can now understand and remember. Of course, much writing happens on the computer now too, which kind of makes the notion of a pen license redundant... We were told we'd need one so we could write legible notes for senior school or university, irrelevant now in an age where many children head off to school with a lap top... Its funny how you can see the silly ways the adult world works when you are just a child, see it all so clearly, then remember and then accept it as part of the normal experience. Until you make that choice to question it... I hope the owlets experience is one of encouragement and freedom and achievement of things that are important to them.

Then they can apply those concentrating faces to the important stuff, like content and the process of making their own mark.

3 June 2010

my creative space...

Its feeling a bit ho hum this week. Finishing bits and pieces, still preparing for Sunday's Market. Still its nice to curl up in the corner and do some hand sewing or read a mag when it gets quiet...

I'm actually looking forward to getting stuck into some more creative things over the winter and after the market is done and dusted. I've been refashioning bits and pieces like this...

Two jumpers that I managed to shrink and in the meantime grew, so have combined the two to make one super jumper, perfect for a growing belly. Hmm... maybe not so much refashioning as just being practical... But there's more creativity on the horizon. Maybe that quilt for big owlet or something for little owlet's birthday...

I'll be popping over to Kirsty's for some inspiration.