Monday, January 21, 2013

Weeks 16 and 17- Germany

I'm so glad  our My Father's World curriculum spent six weeks exploring three European countries.  Europe is just incredible, and so diverse.  Although it's exciting and a nice shot in the arm to be headed south toward Africa,  we all feel there is still so much to learn about Europe!  We just don't want to leave.

Probably the most fun we had in Germany was using beeswax to create small sculptures.  In Germany, beeswax is a very common art supply in most class rooms.  I was excited to find some on clearance at the craft store.  Beeswax can take quite a while to get soft and moldable, so we cheated and used a hair dryer to speed up the process.  It comes in sheets so we unrolled them and tore off a piece, warmed it up, and started molding.  Mister made an elf and a knight.

Brown Eyed Girl made a menagerie of animals.

Petite just loves to have her picture taken.  She has a bit of blue beeswax in hand, but it didn't interest her the way Play-Dough does.

Brown Eyed Girl has been reading Amelia Bedelia and had been asking me for a few weeks to make a lemon meringue pie, just like Amelia. If you have ever made a lemon meringue pie, you know it's a lot of work between making the crust, custard, and meringue.  I felt bad that I kept putting her off and finally agreed, but I warned her this would take a while.  She did a wonderful job of sticking with it and learned how to separate eggs, juice and zest a lemon, and make a meringue (which was always impossible for me til I got my Kitchen aid!).

Our meringue was stiff and gorgeous and our custard was sweet and tart.  Here she is before we browned the meringue.
 And a picture of me thrown in.  I have to show up on here once in a while.
Our pie came out wonderful, but it turns out I'm the only one in the house who likes lemon.  B-E-G did have a little taste, but gave it a sideways thumb for a rating.  Josh admitted he had to choke it down cause he's not a lemon fan. And Mister wouldn't even touch it. Thankfully Grammy and Grampy like lemon and we also sent some to our brother-in-law who loves it.

Our German feast wasn't fancy, but we did have frankfurters and German potato pancakes, which everyone liked.
No true beer for us, but I happened to have a can of root beer in the fridge.  The Germans love their beer and I can't thank them enough for hamburgers!

As I write this post, we are finishing up the book Heidi, which is absolutely wonderful.  We all love it and I am so glad I pulled this classic off the shelf to read to my children.  The kids lay on the floor in front of the fire while I curl up on the couch. I cherish these moments of showing them what is good and pure and lovely in the form of a beautiful story.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Craft Boxes

School is in full swing again after a lovely holiday break!  We have begun our travels to Germany and I am rediscovering why I love My Father's World curriculum.  The only planning I had to do before the ominous back-at-it Monday was penciling in math, English, spelling, and reading, and grabbing the proper notebooking pages for this week.  How easy was that?  I'm so blessed by the kids and how they have gotten back into the groove without too much trouble.  Vacation included mostly fun and play, very little work (as it should be, right?).  Transitioning back to scheduled days is a bit unwelcome to us all, but much needed.

The kids received a lot of  educational but fun activities for Christmas.  And toys, of course.  It was the toys that got the most use til this week.  I allow the kids to color or draw while I read to them or to work on activities from their craft boxes while I am helping someone else with school work.  Their craft boxes were full of new goodies from Christmas that were "rediscovered" this week.

All three of the kids love the Pigeon books by Mo Willems.  In fact, they love all Mo Willems character and books!  I got the older two a giant Pigeon Activity book with games, puppets, and other cut-and-tape projects in it.  They began work on them yesterday, getting lots of laughs out of it.  This was a fantastic follow-the-directions activity for them to work on.

Petite got oodles of coloring books for her craft box, along with paint-with-water books and sticker activity books.  She loves to place stickers on, well, anything, so she got a bunch of those too.  She will sit for seriously long periods of time doing these activities.

  Craft boxes are a great way to keep little hands busy and minds engaged.  When I declare a "No TV or DS" period, and I hear the complaint that there is nothing to do, I suggest they get out their craft boxes.  They typically take me up on the offer and have a great time.  Brown-Eyed Girl particularly loves crafting.
There are oodles of things you can put in the craft box, which for us is a clear Rubbermaid container with latching handles.  Each of the kids has a box of sticky mosaics.  Glittery dolphins for B-E-G, dragons for Mister, and an easier, larger set of pets for Petite.  Drawing pads, paint books, oil crayons, needlepoint kits, sculpting clay, twisty pipe-cleaner type things to build with, perler beads, jewelry making accessories, stencils... the possibilities are truly endless!  I like to choose things that the kids can do fairly independently, or at least with minimal help so that they are the ones truly creating and crafting.But there are also things that require teaching and learning, like sewing kits and origami.  We keep the craft boxes in our school closet so that things stay organized and taken care of.  I love to play music while they are busy about their work, usually something that goes along with the country we are studying (Handel for us right now as we study Germany).  Reading aloud to them during this time often works too!

I have to admit that the house is in shambles this week, especially the upstairs.  While I help Brown-Eyed-Girl learn needlepoint, and Petite with her stickies, the house looks like it is resting in the aftermath of a huge storm.  My good friend Aura wrote a fabulous post called The Monument on her blog.  The Monument referred to a pile of dishes that grew and grew because she was busy helping her son build a turkey house.  It was a testimony to letting go of the things that are so insignificant compared to relationship building and quantity and quality time with our children.  This picture of the family room is my monument to letting go of the insignificant and choosing to make memories with my children instead.  The TV can be a great resource, but too often a default to keeping them entertained.  Craft boxes are a great and constructive alternative for keeping busy.