Thursday, 17 April 2014

April 2014: Wet-On-Wet Painting (and Weather!)

Monday 7th April - Sunday 13th April

We had a quiet week, enjoying home days after what has felt like so many busy, bustling days out and about. Perhaps it’s that I felt a little off colour, or perhaps it’s the cooler weather and shorter days drawing us in, but we have all enjoyed being here.

I’ve noticed that I feel the need to ‘Spring' clean in Autumn every year. I think perhaps it’s the prospect of more time indoors in our little nest that spurs me on to sort, organise and declutter each Autumn. So this week, we spent a day reorganising, sorting and culling toy boxes. We now have a few boxes to donate to St Vinnie’s and the old, broken ‘treasured' toys were glued, fixed and repaired. With the rearrangement and minimisation of toys, came a new appreciation for old ones rarely played with. 

On Thursday we ventured out and went along to the Hobart Natural Learners Co-op; a delight for all of us! I had only intended to drop in for an hour or two, to say hi and pick up a few goodies for Little Deer’s upcoming 4th birthday from Owlet Mama’s Spiral Garden store, but all that changed. The children were having such a wonderful time together, throughly engrossed in their imaginative play of gardens, houses and goblin hunting, that I couldn’t bear to draw them away. It ended up being an absolutely gorgeous day. We’ve found some new special friends and the boys are still asking when they can go again to “special playgroup” <3

We had many building supply deliveries during the week in preparation for a big weekend house building, but the Autumn weather finally set in and it’s been rain, rain and more rain which altered our plans a little. Still, it’s nice to have more water in the tanks after running out (again!) Thursday evening. The misty, Easterly weather was balm to my weary, unwell week. Snuggling into bed, listening to the rain drumming on the roof is bliss.

{ Language, Literature, & Literacy: Story Time & Circle Time }

We have done a lot of reading and story telling these past weeks. The boys have been loving our seasonal selection of picture books, in particular  Elsa Beskow’s 'Christopher’s Harvest Time' (although to let you in on a secret, we do change September’s name to Autumn ;)

We also finished our very first read aloud chapter book: Laura Wilder’s classic ‘Little House in The Big Woods’.  We read chapter after chapter this week, each one delighting the boys. We have begun on the second book in the series ‘Little House On The Prairie’. It’s been so many years since I’ve read the series myself and it’s lovely to hear the nightly pleading of “Just one more chapter, pleeeeeease mummy!” We are identifying with elements of the series too as we take our own little steps towards self sufficiency, homesteading and preparing whole, nourishing foods. We have jars of jams, preserved, bottled and fermented foods in our own kitchen, and as we received a new batch of revitalised sourdough starter on Friday, we’ll be able to start bread making again (sadly we lost our beloved sourdough starter when we were interstate in January/February).

<Here> are some of the songs and finger plays that we’ve been identifying with at home this week. Some days we sing them all, other days we recite a much shorter collection. Still other days, we don’t sit around in a circle and sing together at all! Instead we sing during the day, when the songs and verses have more relevance to where we are, or what is happening.

I find Little Deer (3) absolutely loves Circle Time. He enthusiastically joins in with the actions, sings the songs and recites the poems at top volume. Mousey Brown (5) on the other hand sometimes doesn’t feel like joining us, but every time without fail, he suddenly appears along side us on the lounge room rug joining in as we start! :)

Here are some new verses we’ve added to our Circle Time this week:

* * * * * * * *

The Apple Tree (Fingerplay)
Here is a tree
With leaves so green.
(make leaves with fingers outstretched)
Here are the apples
That hang in-between.
(make fist)

When the wind blows
The apples will fall,
(falling motion with hand)
Here is the basket to gather them all.
(use arms to form basket)

* * * * * * * *

Eat an Apple (Fingerplay)
Eat an apple; (Bring right hand to mouth) 
Save the core. (Close right hand in fist) 
Plant the seeds. (Bend down touch hand to ground) 
And grow some more. (Extend both arms out) 

* * * * * * * *

Red In Autumn (Verse)
by Elizabth Gould
Tipperty toes, the smallest elf,

Sat on a mushroom by himself,

Playing a little tinkling tune

Under a big red harvest moon;

And this is the song that Tipperty made

To sing to the little tune he played.

“Red are the hips, red are the haws,

Red and gold are the leaves that fall,

Red are the poppies in the corn,

Red berries on the rowan tall;

Red is the big round harvest moon,

And red are my new little dancing shoon”

* * * * * * * *

{ Numbers & Mathematics }

I took an opportunity to read through the Australian Curriculum 'Foundation Year' standards one evening, and I find it interesting just how many of the Foundation Year standards are achieved entirely through play. Sorting? Comparing? Problem solving? Longer? Heavier? Mousey Brown (5) and Little Deer (3) cover these concepts daily out in the sandpit, playing with lego, or in construction and imaginative play. Sometimes we use ball games or skipping rope to practise counting and skip-counting games, using kinaesthetic learning. During a game of Hide-And-Seek this week, I overheard Little Deer count right up to 30, just for fun.   

We use a daily and yearly wheel <here> to keep track of the passing of our days, the seasons, and our own family rhythm. Our days on our weekly wheel are colour coded, which helps the boys associate regular activities to a certain colour and day: 

Monday - Violet
Tuesday - Red 
Wednesday - Yellow
Thursday - Orange
Friday - Green
Saturday - Blue
Sunday -  White

Little Deer (3) knows his 4th birthday is on the next red day (Tuesday), and so he is able to count through the coloured days to work out how for himself exactly how many sleeps until his special day. I love how empowering such a seemingly simple thing is to a (wannabe) fiercely independent 3 (almost 4) year old.

{ Handwork & Artwork }

We tried something new this week: wet on wet painting. I was initially a little unsure how to execute this, but with a few hints from one of the teachers at the local Steiner school and Brunhild Muller’s book ‘Painting with Children’ loaned to me by a generous friend, we muddled (or muddied!) through it :)

Actually, there wasn’t much muddying at all! It was an interesting process, certainly a lot more controlled and orderly than our usual free-spirited painting adventures at home. The three primary watercolours are mixed into separate jars and given to a child one at a time, to keep the colours pure. A water rinsing jar gives the brush a ‘bath’ and he dries his feet on the ‘bath mat’ before picking up new colour. The paper is prepared by dipping it in water first and sponging the excess off. 

The wet medium on damp paper really allows to colours to paint freely and smoothly. It’s great fun adding a colour and seeing the way they bleed into each other, forming secondary colours at their edges. It’s quite a mediative process. We learned through a little trial and error how to get the paper just right, not too wet and not too dry. 

When Mousey Brown (5) first began, he painted in a very symbolic way, painting silently, concentrating very hard on reproducing the same love heart painting over and over again whilst keeping the colours as separate as he could. When I gently suggested we try some free colour mixing, he seemed to lighten up and relax more, and enjoyed mixing the colour and experimenting with how the watercolour paint interacted on the damp paper. 

Little Deer (3) had dived straight in with his typical exuberance and his free-form paintings swirled, mixed and flowed over the wet paper. I got out some paper and a brush too and throughly enjoyed the experience. We’ll definitely incorporate more wet-on-wet painting into our home schooling.

We have returned to various projects this week. A little accidental unravelling of finger knitting was painstakingly re-knitted, beading was picked up again, and the beloved needle felting got another good run with both boys requesting little felt pouches to keep their ‘precious’ stones in.

We also did some 3D wet felting, making a little golden and little red apple mouse house, fittingly wet felting them over large Granny Smith apples. They turned out rather sweet and we are keen to try our hand at a few larger projects soon.

{ In The Kitchen }

Roasted chestnuts; Yoghurt pizza bases topped with produce from the garden; Sourdough baking; Tomato chutney; Warm, nourishing soups; Hot cocoas and bedtime stories…

{ In The Garden & In The Bush }

The trees in the Valley are changing, the chilly Autumn nights painting the leaves golden, orange and red. In the bush, the gum flowers have shrivelled and the new little gumnut babies are growing. Banksia is still flowering and the misty rain has already brought forth new green growth on the forest floor. We are looking forward to more fungi spotting in the next few weeks. 

In the veggie patch, we have rouge possum raiding parties breaking in each night. We trialled a CSIRO designed possum proof fence in Spring this year, but it seems these mountain possums are wily! Every evening, 5 or 6 possums congregate on the net above the ripening tomatoes and they’ve certainly wreaked havoc in the garden each night. Blueberry bushes trimmed right back to sticks, tomatoes trampled on and eaten, capsicum plants eaten to the ground, fat, juicy zucchinis hollowed out... *sigh* 

So we haven’t done as much Autumn planting as we’d hoped until we sort out a new possum solution. My fingers are itching to get planting and the weeks are slipping closer and closer to winter, but instead we’ve used the time to prepare beds for our first fruit trees and doing maintenance around the garden. Nature has provided us with planting of her own though, with new coriander, parsley, potato and pumpkin plants springing up on their own in the oddest of places. 

I’ve all but given up on the corn. I’m loath to pull them out just yet, ever the optimist, but I suppose there must come a time to admit defeat, and move on. The ears of corn are there and the silks lovely, but I think it’s just going to be too late for them to develop properly. However, there are many sunflower heads to harvest and beans, spinach, tomatoes, and berries galore. Scores of bees still visit our flowering herbs and marigolds daily, and the nasturtiums are keeping the bare ground covered beautifully. 

On the weekend, we did manage to start planting a few things in the still Summer warm soil. Mousey Brown (5) carefully planted his broad beans which he’d collected and saved from last season. Onions, snow peas, shallots, spinach, Asian greens, quick carrots, and rocket all went in. Looking forward to getting in a good crop of garlic in this year too. We didn’t plant nearly enough last year.

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  1. Heidi, I'm totally living vicariously through your delightful homeschool experience! Your boys are so blessed to have you for a mum. Your photos are lovely and I really enjoy the gentle and peaceful way you communicate. Oh and I cannot wait to read the Little House series with my children! We read them as a family every night (I think we actually read through the entire series about five times!). We read so much but I cannot wait till we can get into the chapter books!

    1. Thank you so much Rachel! Your lovely comment has absolutely made my day. I often wonder if anyone actually reads the blog each week, but really I’m writing it for us, to record our days and if someone enjoys it or is inspired in some way by it, then that is wonderful.

      I hope my boys will be able to look back on these days fondly. They aren’t always perfect as it can sometimes appear in blog-land, but the boys both know they are loved and cherished beyond measure, and we are all muddling on through it as best we can :) Thanks again for taking the time to comment, I really do appreciate it xx

    2. I'm reading it too Heid :) Love the little window into your world. I'm actually looking through now to see for something in particular to include in one of my lesson plans for uni!