Tinkerlab Art Challenge

Tinkerlab recently did a 5 day art start challenge in which we participated. It was free and used mostly we already had around the house.  There was a Facebook group to share, ask questions, etc. But each day, we got an email explaining the setup, materials, daily journal prompts, and extension ideas.

We are crafty people so daily art isn’t that far off of our norm. However, I did get some great new ideas and some guidance in how I can best foster the girls’ creativity. 

We had a blast with this art challenge and the girls loved the surprise every day of seeing what the setup would be.

Day 1 setup.

Avery’s creation with her painted coffee filters…a Hawaiian Hula Girl!

We will definitely be watching for anymore of these organized art challenges but until then, I will pull out my Tinkerlab book and schedule in different setups for the girls on a weekly basis. They love them and it is so easy to get a setup going (way easier than any Pinterest art projects we’ve tried!).

Brave Writer

Any Brave Writer families in here?

Like many homeschool moms, I was recently evaluating the curriculum we used this year and making a plan for what we will use next.  Almost all of the curriculum that we used, “worked” for us this year.  Still, I couldn’t help but wonder if there was something else out there that might work even better. Something that might excite and intrigue us.  There are so many homeschool curriculum options that I just want to explore them all but, nobody’s got time for that.

I consulted the school principal (aka my husband).  I consulted the veteran homeschool moms in our co-op.  For the most part, everyone else said that they would stick with what worked because maybe next year or the year after, it won’t work anymore and that will be the time to find a new and better option.

Wellllll, I’m not taking their advice. I really did want their opinions and I do value them but once I stumbled upon Brave Writer, I just can’t get it out of my head.  Several of the things that we used this year that worked but weren’t anything special were our spelling, writing, and handwriting resources.  All of those can be replaced with Brave Writer.

I’m in LUST with these ideas and lifestyle changes to integrate “curriculum” into life.  I’m trying not to jump in blindly and buy a ton of stuff right off the bat (Hello, I’ve been on amazon finding THE PERFECT tea set for poetry teatime even though we already have a teaset….PUT THE CAR IN PARK, LADY!).  I’m trying to go slow, I’m reading the Writer’s Jungle right now and want to finish that before anything else.

So, are you a Brave Writer family?  Do you follow it all or just pick and choose components?

                   The tea set that I am currently swooning over!

Year-round or summer break?

Do you homeschool year-round or take a summer break?

I think we are going to be year-round homeschoolers. First of all, our summers are routinely 115- 120° so we don’t spend a ton of time outside. If we’re going to be stuck inside, we might as well get some work done, right?  Also, we’ve taken week long breaks several times throughout the year for vacations and we’d like to be able to continue to do so.

I am planning to wind down as Avery finishes each subject and then do a week break & celebration before moving her up to the next grade.  She is the type of person who needs or wants that clear definition of when she is done and moving up. She has already finished her geography book for the year and has about 3-4 weeks left of math and writing.  As she finishes each subject, I’m planning that she will just have less to do each day and focus more on any subjects that remain (we’ve apparently taken several extra weeks off of spelling because she has about 8-10 weeks left of that).  We should be done around the end of May when traditional schools are also letting out.

We’ll take a week off, bake a special year-end cake, and maybe visit an amusement park.  Then we’ll head right into our next year! 

So, how do you do it? Year-round? And if so, do you always just keep rollin’ or do you make a definition between the grades?

Tinkerlab

Where do you go when you need inspiration, validation, or just new ideas?  Do you have a favorite homeschool mama author or book?

We have a pretty good art table at our house that the girls use often but I don’t often plan or teach art projects.  I grabbed Rachelle Doorley’s book Tinkerlab recently during a sale and I have been loving it!  I was looking for artsy ideas and projects for my little ladies but I found so much more than that.  I was totally surprised to find that I really loved the introduction, the how & why to create a tinkerlab, and the real life examples and experiences.  I loved this part so much that I’m looking for other homeschool mom inspirational books (hence, my request for your favorites).

This book also made me realize that we’re already headed in the right direction with our art table.  Here I was thinking that I was doing something wrong because we weren’t doing organized art projects. When in fact, having that open, free range art space is part of the GOAL.  We have that.  Our art table has paper, crayons, markers, scissors, glue, sequins, feathers, pom poms, stickers, pipe cleaners, stamps, etc etc that the girls are always free to use and create.  Our art table is over a carpeted floor so paint is a mom-supervision-required medium but everything else is a free for all (even glitter, much to my husband’s dismay).  And the girls use the space daily.  Their daily use is what made me seek out more guided art projects.

Although we are doing well with our easily accessible art space, the Tinkerlab book has so many more ideas.  There are 4 sections in the book: design, build, concoct, and discover.  Each section focuses on a different element of the creative mind.  The experiments and set ups in the book are mostly EASY to do and don’t require much more than what I already have at home.  There are a few ideas in the build category that involve small toy motors and wire strippers that I’ll leave to my husband….

So many great ideas for getting them to explore and discover without telling them what to do.  I love that instead of projects, this book has set-ups.  Give your child materials and see what they can come up with instead of telling them what to make.  I love this!

As I was reading, I got a quick set-up going for my girls.  I gave them paint with q-tips, feathers, pom poms, and plastic forks.  Once they got going, I sent them on a scavenger hunt around the house for anything that they thought would be fun to paint with….the only rule was NO actual paintbrushes.  This wasn’t a set-up that was directly out of the book but as I was reading, I was catching on to the idea.

A little mess can create a LOT of fun!

A little mess can create a LOT of fun!

And now I have 500 beautiful paintings to admire....

And now I have 500 beautiful paintings to admire….

 

(I bought my copy of Tinkerlab from Timberdoodle. No strings, I wasn’t asked to write about it….just sharing something I love.)

Outside School

Where we live in Southern AZ, we’re blessed with spring temperatures already.  It has become a daily thing for my girls to request “outside school”.  We set up a blanket and all of our work for that day right outside our front door.  The girls take turns doing their work on the blanket with me and playing in the driveway.  We take out our bikes, scooters, chalk, etc.

outsideschool1

We get so much more work done when we do outside school!  Even though they are continuously playing, they are more motivated to focus on their work when its their turn and BECAUSE they are continuously playing, they don’t get restless and fidgety.

I love outside school too because it gives us a rare opportunity for 1 on 1 learning time.  Neither of my girls nap anymore so we usually all 3 sit at the table and work together.  It works fine but I know that 1 on 1 time is important too.  Outside school keeps one happy and playing and not interrupting while I get to focus on the other.  And then we switch!!

outsideschool2

These girls would probably do a week worth of school in one day, as long as we did it outside!

Do you co-op?

Do you co-op?  What’s your co-op experience?

We joined a preschool co-op 2 years ago when we were first contemplating homeschool.  At first, it was a great experience.  A great group of moms. Great kids. Fun environment.  It really encouraged me that this could be the right path for us!!

And then about halfway through the year, families started dropping like flies.  Families with older kids who had been homeschooling for years were now making the decision to put their kids in public school.  I realize that that decision is intensely personal and specific to each family, at that specific point in life.  HOWEVER, as a newbie who was just barely considering homeschooling, it was incredibly discouraging to see long time homeschoolers change paths and go to pubic school.  I felt like maybe those families had discovered something that I didn’t yet know which led them away from homeschooling.  It definitely had me questioning what was the right decision for us.

Low and behold, two years later and I know that this is the right decision for our family, right now.  I have always been very upfront about the fact that while it is the right decision right now, maybe it won’t be the right decision next year or the year after that.  We are absolutely taking it one year at a time.  And that’s okay.  If I decide to put the girls into public school at some point in the future, it won’t mean that I failed at homeschooling…it will only mean that at that moment, there is a better way for our family.

Anyyyywayyyyyy, back to co-ops.

We have found a new co-op for this year about which I am very excited and encouraged!  I have met the moms and we have a family playdate scheduled before we start classes.  We’ll have class once a week but I’m most excited about all of the events and field trips that are scheduled.  It seems like a true community. A really great community.  And I am so excited to be a part of it!

 

TAG, You’re It!! What’s your co-op experience?

 

 

Oil & Water

We have started our official curriculum but still need something more fun for science.  Our science curriculum has started off a little slow and science experiments are a favorite in our house so we’re adding in extra fun!  I’m hoping that our curriculum picks up but in the meantime, we have plenty of really fun experiment books to work through.

Today, we played with oil and water.  We saw how they don’t mix, talked about why they don’t mix, and finally added a magic ingredient to make them mix.  The girls loved it and really get into their experiments, as you can see with their safety goggles and “studious glasses”, lol!  These girls crack me up daily and I am so thankful to spend my days with them!

sci_8-9-16 blog

sci2_8-9-16 blogDSC_0051

(https://u4439.myubam.com/p/4060/365-science-activities)