Stuff that’s working

September 4, 2014 @ 7:19 pm | Filed under:

Okay, then. Blogging first, blogging freehand.

romewasntdrawninadayMy visual aids are world-class.

 Some things we’re having fun with these days:

Famous Men of Rome. Rilla’s first time. Rose and Beanie are listening in—they know these stories well and enjoy them, and it’s amusing to them to watch Rilla encounter them for the first time. She’s doing a lot of narration afterward, mostly at dinner in the guise of “tell Daddy all about Romulus and Remus.” Sometimes during or after a chapter, I use the whiteboard to help her remember names.

Whiteboards in general. You guys, I use them for EVERYTHING. A million years ago I made the brilliant move of buying a whole bunch of scratch-and-dent markerboards for a song. The larger size are perfect as painting boards, underneath our paper—they wipe up easily and can be moved elsewhere while the masterpieces dry. We also use the big ones for things we’re trying to learn by heart. Presidents and their terms, British monarch family trees, and so forth. The smaller ones fit handily beside my chair and are great for our Latin lessons. I’ll write out a sentence and let them parse it. Meanwhile, Huck is keeping himself busy nearby with another markerboard and my best dry-erase pens.

Horrible Histories Kings and Queens of England sing-along. Penny!!! I can’t thank you enough for mentioning this a while back when I wrote about using Memrise to learn British monarchs. This video—all the HH videos—delightful. Hilarious. We’ve been watching this one every morning for two weeks and today we got through the entire song without a hitch. I wish you could hear Huck imitate baby Henry VI. (Wah!) Spot on.

Charles II is my favorite.

Creativebug. The other day I happened upon this rather amazing site. It offers video tutorials in a zillion artsy and crafty pursuits, everything from embroidery to cake decorating. I signed up for a free two-week trial subscription, and if you’re my friend on Facebook you know I’ve been having a whale of a time. Rilla and I have already devoured illustrator Lisa Congdon’s Basic Line Drawing course, and we’re three-quarters of the way through Dawn Devries Sokol’s Art Journaling class. We have Art on our schedule twice a week after lunch, but that’s not been nearly enough to accommodate the creative outpourings inspired by our Creativebug explorations. I’m finding the Lisa Congdon class has been particularly inspirational and instructive, spurring me to do a bit of sketching when I hit a snag in writing. Sometimes my other jobs—raising kids, educating them, managing a household, editing—plant me pretty solidly in my left brain and I need a right-brain pursuit like drawing (even though I’m no visual artist, as the whiteboard above attests*) to exercise my creative muscles. I’m enjoying, too, painting backgrounds in the art journal and returning to them later to practice line drawing. Rose plans to watch all the cake decorating videos. Beanie’s interested in the embroidery. Right now Creativebug is offering a whole MONTH of free trial (use promo code “CRAFT,” good through Sept. 14, and thanks Kortney for the heads up on that!), so if your interest is piqued, now’s the time to give it a try. After the trial, a subscription is $9.95/month for unlimited courses, or $9.95 to buy individual courses that you can access forever.

tulipbook*In my defense, I did draw a lot of it upside down.

20 Ways to Draw a Tulip. Lisa Congdon mentioned this book of hers during her line drawing tutorial. I’m in love with it. It’s tulips and 44 other flowers. Twenty ways to draw each of them, from simple-and-sweet to highly detailed to stylized and folk-arty. Wonderful, wonderful, out of all hooping.

And guess what’s back. ModPo!!! The best Coursera class I’ve taken, and I’ve taken some darn good ones. Modern and Contemporary Poetry with Al Filreis and his MFA students at University of Pennsylvania. Last year I watched about 75% of the videos. This year I’m hoping to tune into the entire course, but listen, even if you only manage a single video all semester, you’ve gained something. The discussions are engaging, thoughtful, and lively. My highest recommendation.

Best of all: Wisteria and Sunshine, Lesley Austin’s lovely membership site, has reopened its doors. There’s nothing else like it on the web. Lesley’s posts and pictures are nourishment for the soul, and I always come away with something to ponder, something to act on, something to cherish—just like in the Charlotte Mason motto about how a child should always have Something to Love, Something to Think About, and Something to Do.


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9 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. kortney says:

    20 Ways to Draw a Tree is pretty great too. i’m over the moon for the line drawing class. Nico said to me today, Mama you are always drawing. so good!

  2. Karen Edmisten says:

    Oh, how I love whiteboards. I blogged an ode to my whiteboard just the other day.

    And I love everything else about/in this post, too.

    And hurray for the reopening of W&S!

  3. Penny says:

    I’m glad you like HH (oi!).

    Thanks for these ideas, I’ll be checking out the drawing book shortly.

    You know, I have been pondering your post yesterday since I read it. I hope you know what a gift you are in the encouragement department. Thank you for so much help over the years. And for the smiles. So many smiles.

  4. selvi says:

    I so much love hearing about your homeschool activities. If I ever get up the nerve to homeschool my own, it will be in no small part due to your inspiration.

    If you don’t mind my asking, why do you want your kids to know the list of British monarchs? (With all due respect, and as we all know all due respect is, in this case, quite a lot).

    Have you all seen the new series of Cosmos? It is amazing. Visually beautiful, pretty good for different ages (my 4 and 8 yos watch them and they blow my mind). There is a little bit of “scary stuff” so you might want to vet them for littles. But the reason I mention them is because they seem so well suited to further study. They are basically Grand Central Station for Rabbit Holes and I could imagine they would be an inspiring jumping off point for years’ worth of science studies. They make me want to homeschool.

  5. Melissa Wiley says:

    Selvi, re British monarchs—largely because they’re convenient pegs to hang other history on. We kept bumping up against events in our reading (Story of Science, American history, Marshall’s English lit book + our current study of Romantic poets, Shakespeare, and so forth) that would reference events in England, and we’d be like, Who was king then? No idea. 😉 And then it just became a fun quest, memorizing them all. We did American presidents too. The Memrise monarchs course made it pretty easy, and then Penny introduced us to Horrible Histories and we just fell in love with that video. (And rabbit-trailed our way through a bunch of the other HHs.) They were so gleeful at getting through the whole song without a hitch yesterday. And I feel like *I* finally have some key events straight! I’ll never forget now that “Edward the Third was a chivalry nerd, began the Hundred Years War.” 🙂 🙂 🙂

    We LOVE the Cosmos reboot!!! Became prime Sunday night viewing for the family. And last spring it very considerately dovetailed with the topics we were reading about in Hakim’s Story of Science. Good, good stuff.

    Penny, thanks for the kind words!!

    KAREN!!! I’ve had one of those weeks where my Feedly list is piling up on me—have been SO looking forward to catching up this weekend. So I missed your whiteboard post until now and after reading it I’m grinning yet again over what kindred spirits we are. Whiteboards forevah!

  6. Ellie says:

    Maybe, if I can possibly remember (because I have meant to do this for a while), i will snap a few photos of MY whiteboards this week, and put them up in a nuts and bolts homeschooling post. 🙂

    I don’t know where I’d be without my whiteboards!

  7. Amy says:

    Thank you so much for the link to the whiteboards! I won’t let myself buy any until I can figure out a place for them, but oh those prices! And my kids will love the HH videos. Love the peak into what’s working for you. Right now all that’s working for is being lucky to get math accomplished. Hoping for richer days soon!