playing and learning, part 2

How we kept busy indoors this winter:DSC_0104


DSC_0112Adeline got really into making her own comics (templates here and here).  She’s still using the techniques she learned from Ed Emberley’s thumbprint books.


DSC_0117This accordion turned out to be a very worthwhile Christmas gift.


DSC_0130Sometimes an impromptu photo shoot is a good way to pass the time.


DSC_0136Ed Emberley again — this time we were inspired by The Wing on a Flea to make pictures out of simple shapes (we printed some from here to cut out.)




I am in love with Mr. Printables.  We’ve spent many hours printing, cutting, gluing, and playing with the wonderful creations there (including the dolls above and the calendar below).  Cutting out and pasting all the elements onto her own calendar really helped Adeline understand how calendars are organized — but it was quite a lot of work, and February might be the only one we make this year!

Made by Joel is another site for great printables and inspiration.

We’ve been studying a bit of Shakespeare with the help of this great book, watching this animated version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The Adventures in Learning blog has some really fun ideas.

We “joined” the Dinosaur Train Nature Trackers club.

We’re loving the Willowbee Tree stories from Sparkle Stories.

playing and learning, part 1

Spring is nearly here and I feel as though we’ve been sprung from a cage.  But in many ways our time indoors this winter has been full and pleasant, so I’d like to take a minute to record what we’ve been doing.  I’m sure by next winter I’ll have forgotten most of these ideas and the links to them if I don’t write them down now, and perhaps you might find a little inspiration, too.


DSC_0042Adeline and I have been slowly working through Drawing with Children (an amazing book I learned of here), and during our last lesson Bea was more eager to join in than before.  We collaborated on the above drawings (I drew the palm tree and the baby birds) and I must say it was wonderful to work with a child who is not as much of a . . . perfectionist as my other child is.
DSC_0045We’ve been studying Mary Cassatt and we made these parent and child drawings (Adeline’s is on the left, Bea’s are the two on the right).



DSC_0070We read a really sweet book about a girl who makes a butternut squash into her doll, at which point Beatrice decided to adopt the squash that had spent most of the winter on our kitchen counter as her own “Bernice.”  She’s been with us for many weeks now, only slightly more soft and dented than she started out.

I was inspired by this post to get the girls involved in planning for this summer’s garden, and I was very surprised by their enthusiasm for the project.  We spent well over an hour one night poring through seed catalogs and drawing up plans, only stopping reluctantly for bedtime.

now I’m knitting


I haven’t unpacked my sewing machine since we moved — and did I mention we’re approaching one year in this house?!  For several reasons, it has been easier of late to pick up the knitting needles rather than try to tackle the half-unpacked boxes in my sewing space.  So.  Here are a couple finished projects: first, an Irish hiking scarf for Adeline made with Brown Sheep Serendipity Tweed.  I’ve used this yarn for several projects, as it always seems to be on sale at our local yarn shop.  And I finally realized during this project that I just don’t love it.  It is a cotton/wool blend and I don’t like the way it drapes.  And knitting with yarn you don’t love is just laborious.  So I’ve given myself permission not to use this (or any) yarn I don’t love in the future — and I’ll be more careful when picking out yarn from the bargain room.


Next up: tiny pants in KnitCol for the yet-to-be-born one.  These were so fun and quick to make!  I promise you that the legs aren’t really lopsided, it’s just the angle of the photo.  I’ll get a better picture when he is wearing them.

I figured since the needles were flying I would try to squeeze in a few more projects before spring (and baby and garden) brings my knitting season to an end.  I may have been overly ambitious in my planning.

DSC_0017 Some of them may languish half-finished over the summer, but for now I’m enjoying working on a boneyard shawl, a puerperium cardigan, and a little something for Bea.


feathering the nest


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In a little over two months we will be celebrating our 1st anniversary in this house.  And I feel like we are still unpacking and moving in.  In the past couple months we finally hung some stuff on the walls, put up shelves, did some little projects we’ve been intending to do since we moved in last May.  We now have enough space for our books.  The girls have a gallery for their art.  We even made a heart mobile for Valentine’s day (that may just stay up all year round).  It’s good to feel a little more settled — and organized!

there are never any pencils


I think we are finally — after months of chaos and upheaval — settling into a comfortable homeschool rhythm.  It helps (me) that the house is a bit more in order now; we’re hanging things on the walls and organizing closets that have been in disarray since moving day.  I’m working with the girls to keep their school and art supplies organized.  For some reason we have every art and craft supply under the sun, yet the humble, essential pencil always goes missing.  Bea and I sharpened half a box of them the other day and I’ve been reminding the girls to place them back in the proper jar, so we’ve had about a week now without scrambling around the house every time someone needs a pencil.  Sometimes it’s the little things.DSC_0163 DSC_0164

We’ve been working on familiarizing Bea with numbers and letters, and also writing her name.  I’ve been using the alphabet printables from this site and she loves to do rainbow writing (writing the letter or number over and over again with different colored markers).
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We’ve been doing art more regularly, and it has been welcomed back into our lives with joy from all corners.  Adeline has been having fun using Ed Emberley’s fingerprint drawing booksDSC_0177 DSC_0179 DSC_0182

We printed out some play money to use in our alphabet store.  Both girls like this game, and it helps Bea with letter recognition and Adeline with addition.DSC_0187 DSC_0189

Our devotions lately have revolved around the Lord’s Prayer, using the activities found here.DSC_0203

These winter days have been cold, often with crazy wind, so we find ourselves indoors much of the time.  Bea will keep herself occupied for a long time with the Play-Doh supplies; Adeline has been reading chapter books and practicing songs on her accordion.  We are all wishing for warmer days — or at least some snow to go out and play in.

amidst the clutter

I like to have the house all clean and tidy before we decorate for the holidays.  Of course it doesn’t stay that way for long.  The regular toy-book-paper-musical instrument clutter accumulates again.  Decorations get arranged and rearranged and played with and misplaced.  I try fairly hard for a few days to keep things organized and looking the way I would like it to look.

And then quickly I am reminded that the living we do in this house — the learning, playing, creating, and mess making that goes on here on a daily basis — isn’t going to cease just because I’ve put up some lights and garlands.  The house isn’t going to stay any tidier during the Christmas season than it is during the rest of the year.  And that’s fine.  The nativity sets, the Jesse tree, the lights, they’re still there amidst the clutter of our everyday life.  They still stand out as reminders of what’s most important.  They’re no less meaningful for the mess all around them; in fact, I think perhaps there’s a metaphor in there somewhere, in the way my kids incorporate the symbols and reminders of this sacred story into our own messy, common, everyday lives.  Perhaps it’s a lesson that’s worth remembering long after the decorations are packed away for the year.

And anyway, once darkness falls and the lights are sparkling, it’s much harder to see the rest of the mess.