Thursday, September 30, 2010

Boot Gnome craft

The rainy weather is coming! We were stuck inside far too often last year, so this year I purchased rain pants, a rain coat and rain boots for each of the boys. The first thing I noticed is that the rain boots were just being kicked off and thrown all over the place. So, I was inspired to do the Boot Gnome craft in my Enki Kindergarten craft book.

Basically the directions called for using a clothes pin and sewing a little cloak to go on it. Then you could draw a face on the gnome. Brother can sew and was more than ready for this craft, especially since he is seven and in first grade. Little Brother is only 3.5 years old and can't sew yet.

So, Little Brother glued on an underskirt and he glued on the wool roving hair. He chose the color of the cloak and thread, but I sewed up it and tied it on for him.

Brother decided he wanted his gnome to be old and added a snowy beard to his gnome, which is glued on.

Here's mine. I always make one for myself as well. Actually, I make one with scrap fabric when I am alone first so that I am familiar with the process. Then I make one at the same time to boys do.

So, I realize that the process of art is much more important than the product actually produced. Except in this case I really want the boot gnomes to be used to promote good care taking of the boots. Honoring the process over product philosophy, it really doesn't matter to me how they turned out aesthetically. Brother's stitches aren't even, Little Brother's gnome has hair all over him. It's just contained by the cloak. Little Brother used so much roving, it probably needs the cloak to keep the hair on! My issue is that the BOOT GNOME has to function properly and hold BOOTS.

My girlfriend made boot gnomes with her Mommy and Me class a few years ago, so I checked in with her. The clothespins provided did not hold boots either. So, it isn't just am a boot gnome making failure. But, I did have a bit of a tiff and I'm an engineers daughter so....

... we turned it into a wood working project. I sawed off the legs because I had to hold the clothespin in one hand and the saw with the other. I just used an old icky wood cutting board as my working surface. When my hand got tired of holding the clothes pin I realized I could hold it with a portable clamp, but that is still not appropriate or safe for kids.

Then I clamped the head and torso part of the clothspin on our woodworking table and Brother filed the bottom of the torso smooth. After it was smooth he used his manual hand drill to drill a hole in the center of each torso.

Into each hole we glued a pipe cleaner. We just used Elmer's school glue.

Allowing a day for the glue to dry, we ran the pipe cleaner through the hole in the spring of a clamping clothespin. And now we have a boot gnome that will actually hold the boots! We added an underskirt to hide the top of the clamping clothespin. The boys were very concerned when I was cutting off the boot gnomes legs. Phew! Happy Mommmy.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Week three - "F"

Yes, you were right. The letter is "F". He got a little stuck in the curve, but we used yellow to cover over some of the letter and he redid it.

Copywork is still a challenge. I am asking him to do the first line of the poem, which take him over 10 minutes. But, it will get easier.

Meanwhile, circle is going great! Brother is really fed by our first grade activities and Little Brother is floating in and out. When Little Brother joins us we add in a couple Kindergarten songs that are fun and speak to big Brother's silliness. He is really silly!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Week three - Guess the letter!

Probably not so hard to guess the letter this time! Our story was Rumpelstiltskin this week. The woodsman happens upon Rumpelstiltskin in the dark part of the wood dancing around the fire.

I think Brother and I have fiery temperaments. I managed to include a bit of the darkness of the wood, Brother has almost none.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Week three - Form Drawing

So, I was planning on running wave form for this week. I knew what I wanted it to look like, but when I was out there in our form walking area ready to present the form - I realized I couldn't do it. Oh my! Obviously it is a form that will feed me to work on as well as Brother. Meanwhile, I just quickly pulled this running loop form out and present it instead.

This morning when I was looking in my Enki manuals I read that this running loop form is more advanced because of the midline crossing required and really would be expected to be presented in the later part of the second half of the year. So glad I read that before morning lesson today.

So we took the form really easy. When brother was drawing it on the chalkboard, at first he kept drawing spirals. I had to actually put my hand over his and steer his hand at key points in order to break out of the spiral. After we drew the form a few times together I was able to slowly decrease my pressure and remove my hand.

The same thing happened when we moved to our "sand tray" and then again to his Good Book. It was so neat to actually see or feel his brain mapping.

So, tomorrow morning I will be introducing the running wave. I've walked it a few times in the living room, so it should work out better.

Here is our "sand tray." It's actually brown rice flour in a casserole dish. I was considering purchasing a sand tray, but after the form lesson has been completed Brother loves to build with the flour. So, I guess it becomes like a sensory table tray. It is also how I include Little Brother (Baby). He really wants to be involved, so I try and find ways to include him that are not so intrusive for Brother. Here is Little Brother (Baby) taking his turn with his form work. ;)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Week two - "B"

Brother had a really hard time getting the block crayon to move with the form "B". So, it turned out lumpy. He drew over it to try and make it look more "B"ish. He concentrated so hard on getting the "B" form, that he messed up the picture frame. Oh well.

Copywork! He did less copying, but he used a pencil instead of a crayon, which was a bit of a stretch. And he copied the whole thing from the board, rejecting the idea of copying off of my page. It's fine if he copies of the board, but it sure does lengthen the amount of time he spends on the activity!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Week two - Guess the letter!

I love this drawing. It is just so cute! He didn't mean for it to turn out sideways. I'm glad that even when things don't turn out the way he expects them to, he can move through that and make the best of his art. The black is the bear's cave with a green tree out front.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Week two - Form Drawing



Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Week one - "T"

Brother is still reversing letters some times and is still struggling with copy work from the board. I was hoping that tracking would kick in over the summer, but it isn't fully functioning in quite yet. Which is totally fine as he just turned seven on the 30th. Hopefully by eight years old he will be fully tracking and can do his copy work from the board with ease.

Today's circle went really well and was a lot of fun! I think it was because the three of us wrestled in the living room this morning before we went on our walk.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Week one - Guess the letter!

We are officially back for the second part of first grade now! We had a couple false starts trying to find our rhythm. This week felt like we were ready! We are starting slowly with our morning walk, circle and lessons followed by rest and afternoon practice.

Guess the letter!

It was really neat seeing Brother fall right into drawing again. He had no resistance to filling his whole page with color. Last year he wasn't really wanting to color the background in and just did it to please me.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Horse trough planter

I love my planter. The corn is growing, but I don't know how successful it will be at producing an ear. The scarlet runners are showing their beautiful red flowers now. I love the red flowers against the green leaves. I am training the pumpkins to flow out the trough and down the driveway a little bit.

The pumpkin made a huge golden flower yesterday. Brother noticed the flower and pulled me aside to share his discovery. I had noticed it earlier in the day, but I didn't anything since I wanted it to be his discovery. I have also notice that there is already a pumpkin growing from that flower! I'm going to let him discover that as well. :)

My flock

No, not chickens. I wish. Although, to be honest, I'm not really a morning person and at 9 am, I still haven't gone out and watered the garden yet! We made Whitsun Doves from the book "All Year Round". We're not celebrating, I just like the idea for the art project.

We have been visiting a local public garden lately, and the garden is full of art! So, I thought it would be fun for us to make out door art for our garden as well. They are a lovely flash of color when it is windy. And the kids really like to see their art displayed.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Container Gardening

Our yard was not at all ready to make into a garden this spring when it was time to plant. There are so many trees in our area, that I am not sure where we get enough sun for which plants. It really makes me miss my old garden with 4 large raised beds on the south side of the house receiving full sun all day. Plus, I had made the soil myself per the Square Foot Gardener method. It was very easy to be a successful gardener there.

This year we are mainly relying on containers for our gardening. I went to our local nursery where they have a bin full of used containers. When people buy a potted plant, they can return the pot to the pile for people like me to come and borrow for a while. It's a great system. I have eight tomatoes in various parts of our yard. They are all doing well, which is a fabulous surprise.

I also bought our first horse trough to make into a container. It's an investment but I just think they are so pretty, and it should last forever. I invested in a good, organic, potting soil. I can really tell the difference between good soil and the rocky, sandy soil in the front garden bed. These beans are so lovely and strong while the ones out front are yellow!

Fork Wind Chime

We are having a pretty unstructured summer, but we did manage to make a Fork Wind Chime craft from our Earthschooling curriculum. I went to Goodwill and purchased forks. I tried to chose forks with fun designs on the handle or forks that were really light. We hammered the forks flat and then glued two forks back to back with yarn pressed in between. It turns out that we hadn't hammered the forks handles flat enough to to really glue the yarn between the forks well. So, I tied the forks together with yarn and then glued the yarn. You can see the yarn band near the wider part of the fork. When they were dry, we tied the forks to our stick. Of course this was really easy from Brother who is nearing seven, but quite difficult for the 3 year old. Brother braided three strands of yarn together to make the handle.

To be honest, the forks don't seem to swing in the wind, but we sure did enjoy making the wind chime.

Monday, June 7, 2010


I'm thinking about it a lot right now. I feel like we have already made some changes to reduce our footprint. My husband works from home and rarely goes to the office. I do drive the kids around, but I try and plan our routes and combine trips. The store we buy most of our produce from tries to provide produce from more local farmers.

A big thing we just did was buy a 1/4 grass fed cow from a local farmer. We don't officially practice "Meatless Monday" but I do try and have at least one vegetarian dinner during the week. Breakfast and Lunch are already vegetarian on most days.

I started making our own laundry detergent using Ivory soap, heavy wash soda and Borax. It is so much cheaper too!

We clean with dish soap and vinegar.

And the kids and I have switched over to "No Poo". I must say that I love it. My hair feels so much softer!

My next item to focus on is water. I got 2 beautiful water barrels from free cycle. I would like to get them hooked up shortly.

I want to reduce how much laundry we are doing. I do at least one load a day, and it seems like it is too much. I did cart the bath water downstairs tonight to put in the washing machine. That was a lot of work! And it took a lot of water to fill the machine. I was really taking it for granted and I know I was throwing things in the laundry that could have been worn again.

Another goal is put up a laundry line.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

And the Letter is "L"



Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Two Kumbas

Well, we focused on family, social studies, back yard science, nature walks, and social time for a while there. And PE since Brother is taking a PE class. It feels like time to go back to the Language Arts block again.

We are also testing for wheat/gluten intolerance with Brother. My father, my brother and I share a wheat/gluten intolerance, so there is a pretty good chance that Brother has inherited that lovely trait. It's been 3 weeks since eliminating wheat/gluten and it sure seems like his energy has picked up in the past week or so! But that could also be because the trees are no longer pollinating. I think he is allergic to that as well.

My story picture

Brother's story picture

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tooth Fairy Pillow

After many stops and starts, the pillow is finally complete! At first it was a struggle for Brother two sew even 10 stitches. It was enough resistance that I put the project away for a while, and then brought it out again later. Not too much had changed, so I put it away for awhile again. Finally the third time I brought it out, he was ready and the sewing became much easier for him. The material is felt and we used 3 strands of floss to sew it together. He stuffed it with a bit of wool roving.

It's a good thing the pillow is complete. Brother's first big boy tooth is part way in. The baby tooth isn't even wiggly yet though, so upon the dentists recommendation, I am helping him to wiggle it a few times a day. The same thing happened to me as a child.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother's Day Craft

Here are the Mother's Day gifts the boys made for Grandma. They are books marks or art pieces of dried flowers on a piece of wet on wet painting glued onto a piece of tag board and covered with clear contact paper. I think that some of the flowers might have been a bit thick, but they had fun, and Grandma was happy.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

R's copywork

We participated in an Enki support phone call and it was brought to my attention that some of our "issues" were most likely due to eye tracking difficulties. Brother's eye tracking in not mature enough to allow him to look at the chalk board and then copy it down onto his paper. He can do it, but loses his place constantly. So he has to re-find his place on the board every time he looks away to write a letter. This takes a lot of effort, tiring him quickly so that he can't write much. A way to support him in his copy work is to put the copywork on a piece of paper beside him so that he doesn't have to look so far away. This is normal, and should resolve on it's own. If it hasn't by the time he is 8, then we can start looking into eye exercises. I put the copywork up on the chalk board as well knowing that someday he will use the board exclusively.

And the letter is!

The Waterfall Of White Hair



Brother slipped into using lines again when he was drawing his picture. And using more symbols. It felt like a step back, and then I looked at my picture - which I am not at all happy with. I outlined as well - just with a different part of the crayon. This is my reminder that I need to practice the picture first so that I can bring it to Brother well. To be fair, our neighbor started cutting down trees during this letter, and I couldn't think. So, we spent a lot of time at parks to avoid the sound of chain saws.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Colored Eggs

In some ways we are late in coloring eggs, but, it feels right to us. Earthschooling lists egg coloring a science, which is a pretty neat concept to me. I'd never thought of it that way before.

Here is the chalk drawing I put up before coloring the eggs. We had eaten some rainbow chard and I saved the red stems to use for the dying. I wanted to remind the boys of which part of the plant we were using to dye with, and that we had eaten the food first. I probably wouldn't have done this if we had taken the chard from the garden, but it was store bought.

And here are our eggs. Since we're not dying them for Easter, we really aren't concerned with having a certain amount by a certain time, freeing us to really focus on the process. Good thing since it took us three days to get three eggs! When we took the eggs out of the dye the first time, there was a weird coating that rubbed right off. So, I rinsed off the eggs and we stuck them back in the dye.

The yellow/brown egg is from daffodils, the blue eggs is from purple cabbage, and the pinkish egg is from the rainbow chard. I don't think my husband has ever dyed eggs using this process before, so he was very surprised to see that the purple cabbage made a blue egg. I had read that purple is a difficult color to achieve, so I was already expecting blue. Brother discovered that although the pinkish egg's shell was unbroken, the dye had passed through the egg shell and colored the egg white. That's pretty neat!

Next we are going to put an egg in the red dye for a day or so and one in the purple cabbage at the same time. Then we'll switch them and see which one looks more purple!

Saturday, April 24, 2010


Yes, it's an "N". It's hard to see in the picture. The "N" is a combination of the trunk and two branches. The nest is at the top of the "N". You can probably see it better in Brother's picture.



Copy work.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Little White Dove

This weeks story was "The Little White Dove" from my Enki Fairy Tales book. I led the part of the drawing that included the tree and then let Brother fill in the rest of his picture while thinking of the story. He asked me to draw some flowers for him in the garden so that he could have some flower ideas.

Guess the letter!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Form Drawing

Straight lines are so much easier for Brother. He had a lot of fun with this form, wanting to draw it again and again and change the size. Brother had been complaining about his fingers hurting while he was coloring the yellow background in. We use a block crayon, but he must have been holding it wrong. Something shifted for him today and it became much easier for him. He was able to color almost the whole page in evenly.

Mine. It's a good thing we don't have circle tomorrow. I need some inspiration for which form to try next. He wasn't ready for the mirrored form yet.

Little Bunny wants to be a part of everything. I'd rather shield him from form drawing until he was in first grade but he isn't napping anymore. He woke up so crancky after naps that I'm not really willing to let him sleep unless he goes to sleep on his own. Brother modeled quiet time today though, so Little Bunny put himself up in our room and shut the door while he played by himself. Yippee! Meanwhile, here is his form. He goes through all the steps with use - drawing on the chalk board, playing with rice flour, and then drawing. At least he is drawing what is appropriate for an almost 3 year old! He has started up to that 3 year old resistance by the way. Yikes, he is one strong willed kid. It's no big deal, I just wasn't expecting it to start until he was 3. ;)