Monday, April 21, 2014

Cousin Birthday

Mr. H is one now. He's wearing a rock lobster headband from Brother's play.
We were at O's celebrating his 10th birthday.
Earlier in the week we watched him in his stage debut as a most excellent rock lobster named Elton in a children's theater production of Alice in Wonderland. He was great!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Butterflies Book

While looking for books for my insect class, I found this delightful one about a teenaged girl who studied the life cycle of butterflies during the middle ages, a time when spontaneous generation was the science of the day. People believed that insects were evil, born from the mud in a mysterious process. Maria Merian studied the life cycle of butterflies in secret for fear of being branded a witch. Delightful story, beautiful illustrations and interesting picture history book.

Cinderella Party, circa 1997

It's true, they scrubbed the floor. I just learned that they still talk about this party, even though they are in their mid to upper 20s now. (bottom pix, L to R: Angela M. Rachel L., __, Taryn G., Jenna H., Anna S.) This was the year we moved into our current house.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Bees, Horses and Negative Space

We have moved on to bees in our entomology study. We like to watch short videos when appropriate. Anything Richard Attenborough narrates is usually our first choice.
We bowed to the beautiful weather this week and took a walk during music class. Got to see the horses and kitties that live near our co-op meeting place and soak up some sun!
We made some pipe cleaner bumble bees as our quiet busy work while I read text. Google provided instructions.
Our art explored negative space. We outlined recognizable objects and colored in the outside of them. New thoughts about what makes art. Idea found on

Top down: Ian, Gideon, Tessie, Elea, Whitney

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Spring Ducks

My class also celebrated spring by explored collage and making ducks out of magazine pages. This project was from my favorite art blog

Top to bottom: Eleanor, Ian, Gideon, W.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Spring Nest

Here is one more version of the eggs and nests that I have been making for some of my friends. I wanted to put a spring/Easter quote with them. I made some with the saying written on a hang tag that I attached with a string. These had the quote on a long strip of paper with the ends glued together. The quote I used was edited from a longer one: "Our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection in every leaf of springtime."

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Spring Egg and Nest

I wanted to do a Spring project with my co-op class, so we made these little clay eggs. The kids chose colors, conditioned the clay and formed the eggs. After baking, we splattered them with acrylic paint. I read about how birds deposit the colors and spots on eggs as they are formed and it is fascinating.
At home I looked for a way to make some nests for our eggs. Because I have page scraps from cutting book initials, (here and here) I decided to try to use some of them to form nests. I KNEW I could find some uses for those cool leftovers.

Here is what I did: I cut thin strips of paper from the longest side of irregularly shaped book page scraps. I used a few smaller, wider scraps (randomly shaped) to make a base. The first nests I made were formed in rings cut from toiled paper tubes.  To make larger nests, I used old jar lids as a form. Start with a piece of plastic wrap under the nest  and on top of the lid, and brush the top of the base papers with a sloppy amount of Modge Podge.  Glue would work too. Layer several scraps randomly on top of each other. Press down to mold them together. (above)
Scrunch and squeeze your pile of strips to rough them up and bend them a bit. Then grab a handful and twist it into a rough rope like collection of strands. Pick up and twist more in as needed, then loop them into a circle and sort of wrap the ends around each other. (below)

After wrapping into a circle, there will be a lot of loose strands. Arrange this circle on top of the base you gooped up with Modge Podge, and add more Modge Podge to stick the loose stands into the sides and middle of the nest. This is a very random process, just keep fiddling and gluing, (I used a brush) until your nest looks good to you. Let dry. Fiddle and glue a little more, or perhaps trim some of the nest if it needs it to look right. I tried for a very random and relaxed process so it would look natural. Peel off the nest from the plastic or lid and fill with your eggs.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Ant Art

My art and entomology class took a quirky turn this week when we explored ants. I usually look for videos, crafts and art on line each week, hoping to get an idea of a craft and perhaps a "keep-busy" activity during textbook time. Because of the wide range of ages and ability to sit (2 boys, 2 girls, ages 5-11) I usually read the (self) edited textbook selection aloud. I try to have a worksheet or activity they can do quietly while I read. I find for certain classes busy hands help with the listening skills.

Of course, as soon as I thought of ants, I thought of ants on a log: celery, peanut butter and raisins. This would be our "keep busy" activity. The kids washed, sliced, spread and placed to make these treats for themselves and the other classes. "We should cook more often!" said one of the boys.
While looking on-line, I saw some dishes with ants glazed on them. Bingo! Right now it is popular to design your own ready made dishes with permanent markers. I had picked up these white ceramic mugs a long time ago (25 cents each) with this project in mind for some future class. Well, the future is now!
There are many directions for making the designs permanent, but most advise letting the marker dry for a couple of hours, then placing the decorated ceramics in the oven, turning it on to 400 degrees or so and baking from 30 min. to 2 hours. Turn off the oven and let the ceramics cool without opening the door. This melts the glaze a little and bonds the new pigment. Some people use the dishwasher to clean their creation, but if it is precious to you, hand washing might be wiser.
We did encounter one problem. I was surprised to have trouble with the thin permanent markers. I thought we would use them for the fine work, but when baked, those lines faded. I wonder if there was just not enough pigment laid down? Soooooo, I re-colored and re-baked all of the ants except the ones on the cup below. Luckily, Ian used the large markers for his.
I had one student who had trouble making correctly shaped ants, so I helped her draw some and she filled them in. It didn't occur to me until after I was copying over the faded ants that I should have had the kids make a figure eight for the bodies and add a little round head. I think this tip might have helped.
From top: Eleanor, Gideon, Whitney (says "Hi"), Ian and my own cup. I have to say, it is fun and a little unsettling to take a drink of tea and see ants swimming in the bottom!