Find Joy. Seek Truth. Be Kind.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

We are on the road, drive across the country, staying with friends and family as we travel to the west coast for a sailing holiday. I am reminded again why it is worth all the effort to travel with kids.

We gain so much from this time. Of course, we get to see people we love, but live far from. My children met family they'd met before, some they remembered, some they didn't remember, and discovered the joys of playing with cousins their own age and being admired by a great-grandfather. We met up with dear friends continuing and strengthening those bonds. We've also met new friends. We've discovered that we have friends we just haven't met yet everywhere we go. It's wonderful to learn that the world is full of interesting and kind people.

We see places that are very different from our own home, yet we see the commonalities that all people share. It's fascinating to see how other people manage their lives. It's enlightening to see how many ways there are of being, to notice that our own way isn't the only way. It seems kind of old hat, these are things we all know to be true in the abstract. To experience it in person drives home the lesson in ways that a lecture or book just can't.

Of course there are things that aren't so great: tired and overwhelmed kids who can't hold it together one more moment, family drama and sorrows, the discovery that some situations/people can't be trusted. I'm learning that these are actually good things too. We learn how to cope with the less than perfect, we build resilience, and the knowledge that we are able to move beyond that and still enjoy what we have at that moment. That's a lesson that I want to remember!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Books for Reluctant and/or Emerging Readers

So far 2/3 of my kids are reading. Both the older two have gone through a stage where they weren't (aren't) interested in reading independently, even though they were (are) capable of it. (This seems to be around age 8/9, but probably varies from kid to kid.)

I've taken a multi-pronged approach to help with this:

I keep reading to them, as long as they'll let me.

I encourage them to listen to books on tape (usually at or above their reading level, but age appropriate and at their interest level).

I have asked them to help me with the younger sibling(s) by helping the next youngest learn their letters, phonetics, and basic spelling. (What will I do with the youngest?!?)

I strew high interest books at or below their reading ability, some of which I actually (gasp!) purchase.

So, for those with kids (I only have boys) who might need a little enticing, here are some books that have gone over well at our house. There is cross over between the boys of course, but here is a general break down.

Eyewitness books by DK publishing in areas of interest
I'll Read to You, You Read to Me series by Mary Ann Hoberman
Geronimo Stilton series by, well, by Geronimo Stilton

With my oldest, into adventure, fantasy, science, and technology:
Bionicle series by Greg Farshtey
Droon series by Tony Abbot
Danny Dunn series by Jay Williams

With my middlest, into humor, animals, biology, and poetry:

Where The Sidewalk Ends, and other books by Shel Silverstein
Alvin Ho series by Leanor Look
Roscoe Riley Rules series by Katherine Applegate
Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey (anything by this guy is silly and fun!)

There are many others, it's finding them that can be challenging.
When I want to find more books that might work for us I ask friends, librarians, book store clerks, and check out some websites. Here's a couple that I've used.
Literature Map - type in the name of an author you like and names of similar authors will be displayed.
Scholastic Book Wizard - use book-a-like to find similar books at appropriate reading levels.

I'd love to hear what others have liked. What are your favorites?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Talking of art, here's another fun thing to play with. let's you modify photos, using existing ditigal files or, as in this photo using a webcam to get the photo. Take a look and see what you can do.
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Saturday, August 1, 2009

Children need art. People need art.

As we finished some tie-dye this morning I am reminded again why I make time and space in our life for creating art.

There is such value in creating art that I don't even know where to start. Just brainstorming for a minute I got this start on a list:


What I've seen creating art do is nothing short of amazing. Children with perfectionist tendencies learn to appreciate the unplanned and unexpected. Kinetic children focus and settle. Quiet children find their "voice". Strong feelings find a socially acceptable expression.

Being able to create something intentional is a huge gift. There is both a confidence and a humility that comes with the creative process. Confidence, because you can do it. "Look what I've done!" Humility, because, quite honestly, it hardly ever turns out just as we've envisioned it.

Also, the person who knows how to make something original never lacks for the personal touch in gift giving. (I was dyeing baby shirts for a friend expecting twins. :-) )

So, maybe I've managed to convince you to try including a little art to your own life. But where to start? It's really up to you. Art can find expression anywhere.

You could start with making your own cards. It's always a good idea to have a few "Thank You" cards on hand, and being able to make birthday cards can save a trip to the store.

How about what you wear everyday? We've extended the life of many a stained shirt by painting or dyeing it. Try colorful hand prints w/ latex or acrylic paint on T-shirts. You can also make things out of old clothes. I've got a rag-rug knit from cut up T-shirts that feels nice to walk on, and slippers made from an old felted sweater.

Artist Trading Cards
were a bit hit here for a while. Just about anything goes with ATC, but it all has to fit on a card 64 x 98 mm.

Looking for inspiration? There's always the web. Etsy is a site where individuals sell home made items. While I've never bought anything there, I seen lots of great ideas. You can also just do a search on whatever materials you have on hand and see what pops up.

I admit to a preference to old fashioned books. If I had just one book on art/crafting I would have "Making Things the Handbook of Creative Discovery" by Ann Sayre Wiseman. We've also enjoyed "Drawing on the Right side of the Brain" and "Drawing with Children"

Art museums and galleries are great, but there's even more value in being able to create something for yourself. Give it a try!