" Some days we paint with large bold strokes, like when someone finishes a book report or gets a piece of music ready for performing. Most of our days are softer in color. A little dab here a little dab there, following a rough draft, but allowing ourselves to paint outside the lines when we want too. "
~ Deborah Jean

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Creativity of a Different Kind

Do you ever feel stumped, stalled or just plain befuddled in your homeschool? We all have those times when the message is loud and clear that we need to stop, re-think our direction and if needed change course.

If you have been homeschooling for a few years or more you have probably established a natural rhythm to your days that just " feels right " for your family. That being said, we are always growing and changing. When our first child enters double digits, we wonder where the time went then, the teen years arrive at warp speed and with them growing pangs of a different sort. Their needs are changing and so is the way they want to be loved, nurtured and taught. Lets face it, teens can seem very distracted with the biological changes happening to them, not to mention the constant hunger! I'm no expert on the chemistry of a teen agers brain, but I can  sense when we need to shake things up a bit. It's not unusual for them to have brief periods of feeling unmotivated and UN- inspired. 
I liken it to the dry spell an artist has before the next creative storm hits. 

Earlier this week we got wind that the Mayflower was going to be heading back to Plymouth Harbor by way of the Cape Cod Canal. 

It was a beautiful day and I couldn't resist the idea of going out for an airing by the water! I grabbed our oldest teen and he grabbed the dog, his scooter and off we went! 

We walked, talked and he scooted along in his own thoughts for a while, always circling back to rib me about how slow I was or ask, " How much longer mom?" We laughed and joked along the way enjoying the warmth of the sun, and just being together. Unfortunately the Mayflower experienced delays coming through the canal so we didn't end up seeing it together as I had hoped. It was supposed to arrive around 2:00. We stuck it out until 3:30 then I brought him home. 

Once we were home I checked the Captains Blog and read that the Mayflower was getting close to our area so I headed back to the canal. I was determined to see it and snap a few photos. 

Her sails were down but she still looked beautiful  as she made her way home to Plymouth Harbor.

It was worth the wait! I finally got my photos but the best part was the few hours I stole with our son.

He was pretty impressed with old mom's photography efforts! I still don't know how I managed to capture him mid- air in just one shot! The airing was good for both of us.  Sometimes, boys just need to be boys.

Creative homeschooling isn't just about what you make with your hands, it's also how you creatively navigate through the dry spells. Usually, there's no need to abandon course entirely. A side trip can open up new channels for you and your child adding to the well of  homeschooling memories made to last a life time.

How do you adapt to your changing teens? I'd love to hear about it!

Happy Creative Homeschooling!
Deborah Jean 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

First Lessons in the Garden

First Lessons in the Garden~

There's something so exciting about the expression of wonder on a child's face when they see " life " for the first time reaching out of the earth. 

When our children were small and still full of wonder, I wanted to teach them all about the
joys of  connecting with nature.

  I couldn't wait to share my passion for gardening with them! I had been bitten by the gardening bug years before they were born after moving into our first home as a young married couple. Our " yard " consisted of a very large, bare patch of ground that sloped upwards. It was there that we learned "our first lessons in the garden" in the high desert of Nevada. It was both challenging and exciting to start with a totally blank canvas. We attended some classes and drew out a fancy plan for our slope! ( we didn't stick to it of course) Over time, we mastered digging in clay and granite soil, figuring out what plants were drought tolerant and those that required a little more water and attention. We also allowed a few "native volunteers" to stay and add their charms to our hillside garden. We were right with the trend of zeriscape gardening which was an exciting time to be learning about gardening in our area.
By the time our children came along we had accomplished quite a lot in our garden and survived the disappointment of some hard lessons too. We had learned how not to burn and kill new plants with fertilizer, how to install a drip system and the value of hiring quality stone workers  next time we had a retaining wall built! (a story for another day ) .We were finally getting to the maintenance phase of things when our first child was born. 
I had a raised bed on the east side of the house which was my cutting garden. It was filled with more delicate plants that were shaded and protected from the afternoon western sun. 

I remember bringing our son outdoors in his bouncy chair and placing him in the shade on the gravel walkway many times while I squeezed in a few cherished minutes of gardening!
You can imagine my excitement when the time came for planting with our children!
One very simple, fun and rewarding way to do this is to plant some indoor seeds and watch em grow! Off we went to our local outdoor center and picked out some trays, potting soil and seeds. 

Black-eyed Susan

Hollyhocks are an old fashioned favorite of mine and they come back every year!

The happy gardeners with their "crops" on transplanting day!
We planted our seeds indoors in Mid- March so they would be ready to go outside in May after any danger of frost had passed.
I borrowed this little spread sheet idea for displaying seeds from a fellow teacher friend. I made a list of all the seeds we planted and then the sprouts glued them down next to the correct name.

Sorry about the yucky gray splotch! It's dried glue and even photo shop wouldn't erase it! Pretend it's a rain cloud about to sprinkle down on our newly planted seeds!

 Sunflowers are fun to grow whether you're young or young at heart!  Grow them kid height or grow them tall...
 We went to the library to find  books on the science of plants. We found some wonderful picture books on the subject. At 3 and 5 they easily understood the process of...
 warm sun + nourishing soil + plus water
= pretty flowers

and HEALTHY veggies!

  We transplanted the seedlings into Grandmas garden near her sun porch windows. The Hollyhocks and Black eyed Susan's come back every year to remind us of our "first lessons in the garden ".Grandma never fails to call each summer to tell us how lovely her flowers are! 

Planting your own seeds is a FUN and frugal way to add to your garden every year and it's a great way to grow together with your children. 

We still plant new things together every year. Last spring we planted our first veggie garden. Our goal was to plant a thriving salad garden. We were careful to be as organic as possible. We used our own home made " cock- a -doodle- doo " courtesy of our girls  for fertility. The garden did fairly well, despite a lot of rain. We had loads of golden cherry tomatoes, summer and zucchini squash, peas, lettuce, and cabbage.  

What will you grow with your sprouts this year? For a list of wonderfully fun books on gardening with children go visit Sharon Lovejoy's blog page! You're sure to find something to get you started!

                                         Nature Study~ "We are all meant to be naturalists, each in his own degree, and it is inexcusable to live in a world so full of the marvels of plant and animal life and to care for none of these things."
Charlotte Mason~  

This post is featured in the Home school Showcase Blog Carnival  hosted by Kris at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers coming  March 7th!