Wednesday, November 30, 2011

pottery class

I keep wanting to blog about the homeschool pottery class that J is taking at the University, but he keeps NOT bringing home projects for me to photograph. So yesterday I just walked into the studio and snapped a photo -- you can see some of the projects they've been working on on the tables in front of them (and on the wheel on the right side of the photo). Supposedly he'll be bringing stuff home with him next week (but they've been saying that since about week 3!). He gets a real kick out of me asking him every week "Do you have anything to bring home?"

He's very much enjoyed this class, and it was an easy way for me to get "out" of doing much in the way of pottery and clay work with the boys at home, yet still give them the experience of really working with fired clay to produce actual products. Great tie-in with our whole Torah unit! (Zoo Boy wouldn't take the class, he still doesn't like his hands getting that dirty, but he's enjoyed checking out the studio and the products and the whole process.) The class was once a week for 6 weeks (next week is the last week), and they started out with pinch-pots, and progressed through to throwing on the wheel the past couple of weeks. Perfect class at just the right time for us!

Moses in the bulrushes

Now we're into my favorite part of the whole Torah epic -- the stories about Moses. The Enki materials actually have you start with Moses, then sort of revisit the stories again at this point, but I chose to hold off. I'm honestly glad I did, I think the story has flowed best for us from the beginning. Above is J's drawing of Pharaoh's daughter and handmaids finding Moses in the river. Below is Zoo Boy's drawing of Moses' mother bringing his basket (with him in it, you just can't see him) to the river to leave him. He made sure to point out the tear she was crying as she left her son. I love how the kids' own perspectives come out in their drawings.

J's story summary above, Zoo Boy's below. Zoo Boy has really started making some astute observations about the stories during recall. For instance, when recalling this story, he said "I've been wondering, why did Pharaoh order all the male children killed? Wouldn't it have made more sense to keep the males as slaves? They'd be stronger for moving the big bricks, and the women are the ones having the babies, if you wanted less babies there should be less women." Great question. And more proof of how male-centric these stories are, which Zoo Boy has definitely picked up on, and it clearly bothers him.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


I don't know why Blogger won't let me comment on any of the blogs I read, it's making me nuts. But I had two important comments to leave, so I'll just do it here and hope they read it here!

First, Happy Birthday, Kirven!!

And second, EEEEEEEEEEEE! Congratulations Ashley!!! I'm so excited for you.

Ok, back to our regularly scheduled blogging.....

The Map Man's weekend project

letters north

The Santa magic is still strong here. I'm enjoying it while it lasts, but it's nice to know that there's a wee one coming along to keep it going for another decade or so!

Above is J's letter, below is Zoo Boy's.

Something I never got around to blogging about was the fact that J took all his birthday monies, combined with some of what he's squirreled away from his job, and bought himself a wii console and a couple of games -- Mario world type stuff. He was very mature asking me if he would be allowed to buy it, so I was mature about it too and told him that I felt at 11 years old, he's old enough to decide if he can handle having a video game system. He's been quite responsible about using it, and the boys only play on it for about half an hour a day, after they come in from doing their chores and while I'm cooking breakfast, and never whine about it when I tell them to turn it off, nor do they bug me about using it, waiting instead until I offer. They love having something to talk about with other boys they meet, Mario seems to be a cultural constant in this age group.

Joseph's family in Egypt

For the last of our Joseph stories, both boys decided to draw the moment that Joseph's little brother, Benjamin, was caught with the silver cup that Joseph had his guards hide in his grain bag. Above, in J's drawing, he depicts Joseph confronting his brothers -- I love the look of shock on their faces. Below is Zoo Boy's drawing, of one of Joseph's guard stopping Benjamin (that's a donkey he's riding, in case you were wondering).

Above is J's story summary, below is Zoo Boy's. Someone asked me about the sudden improvement in Zoo Boy's handwriting -- he recently switched from using the Lyra Giant pencils to using thin Prismacolor pencils for his writing. It seems to have made a huge difference -- not only is his pencil grip better, but they lay down a bolder line and he's happier with the result, which makes him less resistant about writing. Of course, they are all kinds of expensive, and difficult to sharpen (the tip likes to break off), but I think it's been worth the added expense. You can imagine what might be filling his stocking this year.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Joseph's brothers bow

My apologies once again for the glut of posts, seems all I ever do lately is play "catch-up" . This is it for today, though, I promise!! But don't miss any of the cool posts below, either.

Above is J's drawing, depicting Joseph talking with his brothers in prison. Below, Zoo Boy's drawing of Joseph and a guard deciding the fate of his brothers.

J's summary above, Zoo Boy's below.


Above, J as Fritz, between the two Claras. (Our Nutcracker performances have two casts, but J is double-cast in both. In fact, he's double-double cast, since not only does he play Fritz, but he also appears in the 2nd act as a Russian dancer.)

J has been performing in mini-performances across the state at various libraries, schools, and churches, as a promotional activity for the ballet school. These photos were all taken at the first performance of the series, at the Somers Public Library, in Somers, CT.

Above J, the Claras, and the ballerina dolls await the start of the performance.

Below, "Fritz" and two of the party boys perform their "boy dance".

Above, J (Fritz) dances with Clara.

Below, the cast for the mini-performances. Of course, the cast for the real, full-length performances is much, much larger (like over 250 cast members).

the Pharaoh's dream

Above is J's story drawing, Zoo Boy's is below, they both drew Joseph interpreting the Pharaoh's dreams.

Above is J's story summary, below is Zoo Boy's. The misspelling of "Pharaoh" is mine, a mistake I didn't discover until the entire week was over. Sigh.

ground looms week 3

This is from last week, but I just got the photos. This was the week we constructed and warped our ground looms. It was a rainy day, so a nice day to be inside T's house working on our looms. First the kids selected some appropriate sticks and yarn. (It would have been far beyond the scope of the experience we wanted to give our kids to have them use only hand-spun mohair for this, so we used commercial wool yarn instead -- they can incorporate their hand-spun into the weaving.)

We tied on 25 long warp threads to each loom. This took us awhile (like pretty much the entire 2 hour project slot for the day). The goal is for each of the kids to weave a strip of fabric about a foot wide by about 10 feet long. (The strips will be sewn together to form the nomadic tent.)

J trims his warp threads to the same length.

Two of the kids work on rolling up their loom for easy transport. The looms will be unrolled and staked into the ground and the weaving done outdoors.

Joseph a captive in Egypt

Above is J's story drawing, below is Zoo Boy's, both of them chose to draw Joseph interpreting the Pharaoh's head butler's dream in prison. (Zoo Boy says the black streaks are shadows in the dark prison cell.)

Above is J's summary, below is Zoo Boy's.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

barn kitty update

Wanted to give a quick update on the litter of feral kittens we adopted as barn cats. They've gained a lot of weight and size in the past month and now have the run of the farm. And while they'll never be "pet" cats that enjoy interacting with humans, they've all gotten with the program nicely and show up for meal times, so keeping tabs on them is easy.

We've also renamed them according to personality or physical traits, now that we've gotten to know them a little. This one in the first photo is Tippy (she has the very tip of one ear missing). She is by far the most friendly of the kittens and comes running at meal times, meowing in your face until you put the bowl down. She's very snuggly with Bromley (the adult we adopted at the same time), they are best buds.

This is Elbee. (A derivation of "L.B." or "Little Brown".) She's super-cute, and the smallest of the four. She was actually the first of them to understand when the meals were being served and to hang out waiting for them. She's pretty much always around.

This is Cotton (it stuck from her original name "Cottontail", because she's just so fluffy). She's very pretty and very shy, but she too can be found hanging out most of the time. She's a bit more adventurous than the others, I've seen her walking along the tops of the fences, but she's always around come meal time.

And this is Spook. He's very elusive and shy, and can never be found when humans are out and about (I took this photo from my bedroom window, right before he realized I was there and took off). I think he's living with the rest of them in the garage, but he only comes out when he thinks nobody is around to see him. He's by far the largest of the group, so he's certainly getting plenty to eat. I was worried we'd lost him for a bit, because it was a good solid week since we let him out before I spotted him again for the first time, but I've since been seeing him more regularly.

And Bromley is Bromley (the adult black and white in the middle -- that's Spook to his right and Tippy in front of him). It's hard to get a good photo of Bromley because he's always right in your face demanding attention, so this is again from the bedroom window. Total attention hog and wants to be petted constantly, and he follows the kids around while they are doing chores and drives them nuts in general. I'm glad we adopted him too, because he sets a good example for the baby kitties, and I swear he's the reason why Tippy has tamed down so nicely.

So that's them!! They've all moved into our garage since we let them out of their pen, but come back to the pen for feeding times -- we'll start feeding them in the garage once The Map Man walls it in and winterizes it for them. (He'll put a cat door in the wall so they can come and go as they wish.)

the coat of many colors

Above is J's story drawing from the story "The Coat of Many Colors", depicting Joseph showing up where his brothers are tending their flocks, wearing his coat of many colors, and the brothers discussing what to do about him. Below is Zoo Boy's drawing, of two of the brothers discussing Joseph's fate after they threw him in the pit (that brown line at the bottom of the right hand side of the drawing is the pit, you can't see him but Joseph is in there shouting for help, Zoo Boy says).

Above is J's summary, below is Zoo Boy's. We had a discussion about how long our summaries have gotten, and both boys had to shorten theirs in order for them to fit on the page. Today we'll work on creating a much more concise story summary for the story we read yesterday.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

sibling class

The boys attended a "new siblings" class at the hospital where we will be delivering our little Rosebud. They took a tour of the maternity ward, got to see an actual newborn baby, learned about the "magic bell" that is rung whenever a baby is born, and got some first-hand instruction and practice on dolls in diapering and swaddling. Zoo Boy took a more passive approach, preferring to watch rather than participate (although he said he really liked the class), while J enthusiastically jumped right in. He told me that he wants to help with diapering Rosebud, but that he'll let me take the dirty diaper off and clean her up first, then he'll put the new one on. Both boys are really psyched to get this baby here! J in particular can't wait to have a real baby to cuddle with.

science fridays, a lot of catching up

I've missed posting about at least 3 chemistry lab sessions (possibly more), partly because I'm just so far behind on the blog, and mostly because I can't seem to remember to take photos! We just get so involved with running the experiments, it's not until everything is all over and we're all cleaned up that I even remember I was going to take photos! Very frustrating for me, the person who likes to document everything!

In any case, we've been exploring atoms - how they move in response to various temperatures (they move faster when they are warmer), and if they are small enough to smell through balloons (they are!). We also explored the various ways scientists test substances -- through physical observation and through chemical reactions. The kids are learning to form and test hypotheses, and are learning some common scientific terms (like the parts of an atom).

I really like the curriculum we are using (Pandia Press's R.E.A.L. Science Oddessy Chemistry) -- I like the discovery learning it promotes, and the activities and labs really capture the kids' sense of exploration, they seem to just love it. One of the other moms is less impressed, she wanted more hard-core science, I think, but for the majority of our kids, I think this is just the right balance of hands-on discovery and active output.