Family Centered Learning

Dreaming Eyes of Wonder

Warmth and sunshine have returned to our neck of the woods, which means bits of afternoons (or mornings… or both) in the garden with the children.  And while they’re exploring, and wondering about growing things, I am pondering this article by Elizabeth Foss deep in my heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Child of the pure unclouded brow 
And dreaming eyes of wonder!
Though time be fleet, and I and thou
Are half a life asunder,
Thy loving smile will surely hail
The love-gift of a fairy-tale.

I have not seen thy sunny face,
Nor heard thy silver laughter;
No thought of me shall find a place
In thy young life’s hereafter –
Enough that now thou wilt not fail
To listen to my fairy-tale.

A tale begun in other days,
When summer suns were glowing –
A simple chime, that served to time
The rhythm of our rowing –
Whose echoes live in memory yet,
Though envious years would say ‘forget’.

Come, hearken then, ere voice of dread,
With bitter tidings laden,
Shall summon to unwelcome bed
A melancholy maiden!
We are but older children, dear,
Who fret to find our bedtime near.

Without, the frost, the blinding snow,
The storm-wind’s moody madness –
Within, the firelight’s ruddy glow,
And childhood’s nest of gladness.
The magic words shall hold thee fast:
Thou shalt not heed the raving blast.

And though the shadow of a sigh
May tremble through the story,
For ‘happy summer days’ gone by,
And vanish’d summer glory –
It shall not touch with breath of bale
The pleasance of our fairy-tale. –Lewis Carroll, “Through the Looking Glass”

 

{Made for Learning} Short Bead Stair

In our decade-and-a-half (plus) of homeschooling, we have discovered that nothing clarifies and solidifies understanding of math concepts like the use of manipulatives for younger children.  There are many types available, and we have bought several of them over the years.  The high quality, natural material ones were costly, and sometimes difficult to replace if pieces were lost.  There are less expensive, plastic options, which we also tried (as replacements), but didn’t like. They are all essentially the same – units and bars of differing colours used to represent numerals and quantities.

Anytime that I can make my own tools and materials – especially when that is a more economical option – I am happy.

Below are instructions for making your own bead stair sets.  We made 11 complete sets.  (I’m planning to post a little something on making bead stair trays, as well as on how we store our materials).

You will need:

  • 10 mm painted wooden beads in the following colours and quantities –
    • red – 11
    • green – 22
    • pink – 33
    • yellow – 44
    • light blue – 55
    • orange – 66 (traditionally, this would be brown, but I prefer the orange!)
    • white – 77
    • violet – 88
    • dark blue – 99
  • Paddle wire (craft wire that comes on a paddle).  Try to get tarnish-free.
  • Wire Cutters
  • Round-nose pliers
  • Felt pad to work on (handy, but optional)
  • Good, sturdy pair of hands. 🙂

 

Gather up your supplies. With a bustly house, it helps to keep them on a tray, if you have one available.

 

Sorting the beads makes work much easier than fiddling with plastic bags.

 

Cut the wire a bit longer than you think you'll need it. A good pair of jewelers wire cutters are essential.

 

Make a loop around the fattest part of the pliers for this project. It prevents the bead from falling off, certainly, but also gives a little something more for small hands (and big arthritic ones) to grasp.

 

Thread the bead (or beads) onto the wire. You'll have to eyeball how much you'll need for the closing loop. Trim if you need to and curl that wire around the pliers at the fattest point.

 

Continue this way with all of the beads, making bars as follows below.

 

  • Red – units
  • Green – 2-bead bars
  • Pink – 3-bead bars
  • Yellow – 4-bead bars
  • Light Blue – 5-bead bars
  • Orange (or brown) – 6-bead bars
  • White – 7-bead bars
  • Violet – 8-bead bars
  • Dark Blue – 9-bead bars

 

Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy, right?

I got my coloured beads on EBay from two different sellers – Yo-Yo Beads and Hobby Funhouse.  Both were excellent!

{Made for Learning} Finger Paint

Do you remember finger paints when you were small?  I remember having little pots of paint, the cool semi-gelatinous texture, and a distinctive smell, not unlike play-doh.  I was five years old.

Finger painting is a wonderful way to introduce little ones to making art.  They have better control of their own fingers than they do a paint brush, and helps them to build a muscle memory of the way certain objects are formed in two dimensions.  Finger painting is an excellent way to re-enforce letter and number formation. It is also a wonderful way to teach children to mix colours.

As they get a little more advanced, finger painting can be a useful introduction to early figure drawing.

Of course, the extent of wonderful artistic activities is only limited by your imagination.  We’d sure love to see what you and your children make with your finger paints!

You’ll need::

  • 1 c. cornstarch
  • 1 c. grated soap (we use plain olive oil soap or goat’s milk soap)
  • 3 c. water
  • 1T. glycerine or white sugar
  • food dyes (we use India Tree plant-based food dye)
  • saucepan
  • bowl
  • wooden spoons
  • 3 flip-top squirt bottles

Also handy::

  • paint pallets
  • pad of large art paper

Gather your supplies... and your little helpers.

 

Pour your cornstarch (cornflour) into the pot...

 

and your sugar...

 

... and add 1 c. of water.

 

Stir and stir until completely dissolved.

 

Grate the soap

 

Luminous curly soap noodles (ours smell like sandalwood)

 

Add the soap curls to the pot.

 

Place pot over medium heat and stir constantly. As the mixture thickens, add as much of the remaining 2c. water to make the gel workable.

 

When it's ready, the mixture will be light and fluffy.

 

Divide the mixture evenly amongst 3 bowls (or however many you want).

 

Add food colouring to each bowl. We used 40 drops each, and obtained soft colours. Your results will vary depending upon the food colouring you choose. Paste colurants will give you the most vibrant colours.

 

Keep stirring until the colour is even.

 

Pour paint through a funnel into your bottles. Remember to thoroughly rinse the funnel between colours.

 

Pretty!

Take out the paper and fill the wells of the pallettes.

 

Magic time.

 

These finger paints can also be used in the bath!  Since they are soapy, they are also washable.  Lovely!

 

 

Conquering a Mountain

 

“You can never conquer the mountain. You can only conquer yourself.” – James Whittaker {mountaineer}

My to-do list is growing and growing.  There’s something about the beginning of the year, isn’t there?  I mentioned some of the things I had to do here.  And I started pondering some of the other things I want to accomplish this year:

Learn to speak French

Learn how to take better photographs {I’m so serious about documenting our life.  I am pretty sure that I need a new lens.}

Get some more curriculum written.  It may be my grandchildren who use it, but there we are…

– Get through all of the recipes in Mrs. Beeton.  {no, seriously}

– Design and sew some clothes for the family.  I’m so weary of trying to find things that fit both our bodies, and that are my notion of good-looking and practical.

On the Farm: Design our veggies gardens and feed crop fields, schedule tapping for the birches, and decide what to make the remaining trees into.

– Try to come to some conclusion about changes to one of our businesses.

Schedule some workshops, talks, and classes at the farm {cooking, sewing/handcrafts, kids’ classes…}

– Put together an apprenticeship/intern program on the farm with the Office of Youth Ministry.

– Decide how much (if any) wedding business I want to pursue this year.

– Make it all pretty and practical.

– Have myself duplicated, or call on  {a LOT of} help from my friends…or lower my expectations and accept this as more of a wish list than a to-do list…

What’s on your wish list for 2012? 

 

{A is for Ambrose}

 

Long ago, in the land of Gaul, was nestled the beautiful town of Trier.  The hillsides were covered, and still are today, in vines, which – every summer – grow heavy with grapes.  And in one lovely house, on one of those hillsides, lived the family of Aurelius Ambrosius – his very wise and pius wife, his daughter Marcellina, and son Satyrus.  The house was blessed once more with the birth of a baby – another son, whom they named Ambrose.

Ambrose was a very special child.

One day, when his mother placed him in out in the garden in his cradle for a midday nap, a swarm of bees entered from the vineyard and began to dance around the infant’s downy head.  Round and round they flew, buzzing merrily, as his parents gazed on in amazement.  Not a single bee offered to sting their tiny boy.  And just as suddenly as they had appeared, the bees gathered themselves and flitted away back to their hives, leaving on the child’s lips

 

a single drop of honey.

 

“Surely this is a sign that the boy will grow in wisdom, and eloquence, and sweetness!” cried his father.

And he was right.

Ambrose grew to manhood and became a lawyer, then a governor, and was later elected the Bishop of Milan in Italy.  He was known far and wide for his wisdom, his elegant turn of phrase, and his sweetness – especially to the poor.

 

St. Ambrose Day is celebrated on 7th December, during the season of Advent.

 

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