Archive for the ‘Fun Learning Stuff’ Category

Watercolor Florals with Peggy Dean

May 15, 2018 @ 7:05 am | Filed under: Art, Fun Learning Stuff

So here’s a fun thing: I got to take a watercolor class last Saturday. If Peggy Dean offers a workshop in your town, jump at the chance to take it! Three hours passed in a flash as we learned watercolor techniques for leaves and loose florals. Such a blast. And the paints she sent us home with—more swoon. Plus one of her cruelty-free, eco-conscious brushes. We laughed and painted and learned cool stuff (with a brief, blissful interruption to take turns petting the ADORABLE King Charles spaniel puppy who appeared in the tea shop with his very accommodating owner). Peggy’s teaching style is A+++ and I had a wonderful time sharing everything I learned with Rilla at our Saturday Night Art Date afterward.

If you can’t get to a workshop, Peggy’s Skillshare classes are also excellent (Rilla and I have taken several) and you’ve heard me praise her Botanical Line Drawing book many times before. I’m glad I’m a homeschooler because I can decree next week to be take-all-the-rest-of-Peggy’s-classes week if I feel like it. If you’re new to Skillshare, you can get two free months of unlimited classes. (Also highly recommended: Stephanie Kilgast’s Sculpey classes.)

Thank you Peggy for a fabulous workshop! I’m still swooning over that hematite violet. 😍

Vicarious globetrotting

April 24, 2018 @ 8:26 am | Filed under: Fun Learning Stuff

Nearly five years ago we planted a Trackable in a geocache near our home in San Diego. Since then, we’ve watched it travel back and forth across the United States, with jaunts to Honduras, Belize, and the Cayman Islands. Today we got a notice that it is currently in Ulster, Ireland. New life goal: to travel like my trackable.

Saturday night art date: polymer clay bugs

February 18, 2018 @ 9:48 am | Filed under: Art, Fun Learning Stuff

Image via Skillshare

 

Rilla’s pick for our Saturday night art date: “How to Sculpt Beetles, Bugs and Scarabs Realistically” class at Skillshare. Delightful course. Really enjoyed the instructor, Stephanie Kilgast—her lessons are clear, simple, and inspiring. Rilla’s take was: “OH GOOD, this is exactly what I’ve been needing to learn.” (Her two chief interests in life are bugs and art. She wants to become an entomologist-slash-artist.)

My house is about to be overrun with Sculpey beetles, I can tell.

(Referral code for two months’ free trial: http://skl.sh/2GogjAi )

“Look for a lovely thing and you will find it”

November 22, 2017 @ 8:51 am | Filed under: Books, Family, Fun Learning Stuff, Homeschooling, Poetry

As often as not, this is what our Poetry Teatime looks like: circus animal cookies on a Dominoes napkin. Yesterday we didn’t even remember to bother with something to drink. Although it doesn’t take much to elevate the event (plates would be a good start) 😉 — there are days when you know you’ll miss your moment if you don’t jump right in. This was one of those days. We had just enough time left in our morning for a no-frills poetry teatime and a short nature walk, or a frillier tea and no walk at all. The vote was to squeeze in both.

Huck certainly doesn’t care, as long as poetry teatime contains the two essentials: cookies + Shel Silverstein. He had us all howling with “The Nap Taker” (“I did not take a nap— / The nap took me”). Beanie picked the Lewis Carroll collection (more howls) and Rilla chose a family favorite: Jack Prelutsky’s Imagine That! Poems of Never-Was. (When she read “The Multikertwigo” I had such déja vu. I will always hear that poem in wee Jane’s four-year-old voice.)

I, of course, read selections from Favorite Poems Old and New. There would be a mutiny if I reached for anything else.

(I sneak more contemporary poems into other parts of our day. These children mustn’t grow up without some Billy Collins in their lives.)

Heads up: good deal on Creativebug subscription

November 21, 2017 @ 3:59 pm | Filed under: Fun Learning Stuff

This is a stellar deal: If you’re a new Creativebug customer, you can try a membership for just $1 for three months. I’ve raved about Creativebug many times in the past—we make good use of our subscription ($4.95/month), which gives us unlimited access to hundreds of classes. I pretty much always have a Creativebug challenge going in my sketchbook. Particular favorites are classes by Lisa Congdon, Pam Garrison, Jennifer Orkin Lewis, and Yao Cheng. Those all fall under the drawing and painting category, but Creativebug offers dozens of classes in knitting, crocheting, sewing, baking, soapmaking, and loads of other crafty things. I really consider it one of our best and most economical homeschooling resources.

Affiliate links, but I’m a genuinely happy customer. I couldn’t be more impressed with this platform.

Learning German with Felix and Franzi

October 19, 2017 @ 6:18 pm | Filed under: Foreign Languages, Fun Learning Stuff

A few weeks ago the kids and I discovered a new-to-us resource for our German studies. The Goethe Institute has a set of comprehensive and quite entertaining lessons for children—fun, thorough, and (amazingly) free.

The elementary-aged program is called German With Felix and Franzi, a cartoon frog and duck who move from Berlin to London. Each lesson begins with a short animated video. Supplementary materials include a Powerpoint with vocabulary-practice activities (we download them, move the words and pictures around as directed, and then close without saving changes), as well as music and lyrics for a couple of songs. The site is loaded with additional resources, and I’ve only just begun to mine the possibilities.

While the animation tends toward the preschool end of the spectrum, the lesson content is just right for my two beginners, ages 8 and 11. We work through several lessons a week, beginning each day’s session with a re-watch of earlier videos in the series, with the speed bumped up to 1.5 to help with comprehension. (Since conversational speakers usually talk a lot faster than the characters in educational videos.)

A real plus: the already rich lesson content is further enhanced by corresponding Memrise lessons for vocabulary review! (I’ve raved about Memrise before…)

So our lessons look something like:

—watch one or two of the videos whose content they’ve already learned;
—watch the next new lesson in the series;
—sing a few of the songs;
—(maybe) play with the Powerpoint activities;
—(maybe) watch a few other German children’s song videos on Youtube—not part of Felix & Franzi, just things we find in search;
—(later in the day) Rilla does a Memrise lesson. (Huck’s not a fan.)

It’s a good format for us and I’m pleased with their progress.

Beanie, with several years of German under her belt already, has been investigating the Goethe Institut resources for more advanced students. She especially enjoys the music playlists.

This was an accidental find last month, right when I needed a nudge, and so far the program gets high marks from me. Which is saying something, because I do believe I’ve tried just about every foreign language program on the homeschooling market, at some point or other!

When they want to know about Venn diagrams…

September 8, 2017 @ 8:57 am | Filed under: Fun Learning Stuff

you go to the experts, of course.

“…strange archaic sympathies with the world”

June 3, 2017 @ 9:12 am | Filed under: Books, Commonplace Book, Connections, Fun Learning Stuff

The black curagh working slowly through this world of grey, and the soft hissing of the rain gave me one of the moods in which we realise with immense distress the short moment we have left us to experience all the wonder and beauty of the world.

The Aran Islands, J.M. Synge

This week Beanie and I reached the J. M. Synge episode of The Irish Identity. The quote above found me at the perfect time, as I neared the end of Emily St. John Mandel’s lovely Station Eleven, and on the day the President announced his intention to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement.

Even after the people of the south island, these men of Inishmaan seemed to be moved by strange archaic sympathies with the world. Their mood accorded itself with wonderful fineness to the suggestions of the day, and their ancient Gaelic seemed so full of divine simplicity that I would have liked to turn the prow to the west and row with them for ever.

highlights: week of may 15

May 19, 2017 @ 8:02 am | Filed under: Assorted and Sundry, Fun Learning Stuff

1.

Huck, tearing down the hall: WHOOO, I’M ON AUTOPILOT!

Rilla, tenderly: Honey, I turned your autopilot off.

2.

S. got his new hearing aids—big excitement. His old pair were over five years old, and after a while the quality degrades. The new ones have some bells and whistles we’re still getting used to.

I just realized that the next time he’s due for new aids, he’ll be eighteen. Holy cats.

3.

I’m teaching my second class for Brave Writer this month, nearing the end of Week 2. This one is called “Penning the Past” and is about writing historical fiction. And I’m having a ball. My students come up with the best stuff! I’m going to have to raise the bar on my own writing to keep up with their inventiveness.

I’ll be teaching another section of Comic Strip Capers this summer and possibly another one next fall. Registration for the summer section opens June 5th. I’ll share the registration link in the coming weeks.

4.

Readaloud update:

Finn Family Moomintroll is our daily delight. I just about have all the voices down now. I may roll right into Comet in Moominland when this one is done; we’ll see.

The Witch of Blackbird Pond: you know, I don’t think we touched it all week. We kept getting swept along by the Moomins and forgetting to come back to the Puritans.

In part our neglect of history this week is because Rilla and Huck and I got swept into a collaborative Minecraft project. We’re building a fairy tale village. (Photo to come later.) So far, we have Rapunzel’s tower and the Three Little Pigs’ huts. I think today we may begin work on the gingerbread cottage. So much fun. We got the idea from my friend Christy, whose kids made their own Minecraft fairy tale world a while back. I often pull Minecraft into our studies…for example, when we were reading about Jamestown, we found some videos showing Jamestown replicas people have built in the game.

5.

I had more to share but the 9:00 bird just chirped and it’s time for me to live high tide instead of write about it. 😉 I’ll toss this post up now instead of waiting to finish later—because lately it seems like later never comes! Hope you’ve all had a good week.