Monday, June 22, 2009

Getting Crafty

I had been hearing and reading a lot about the book The Creative Family: How to Encourage Imagination and Nurture Family Connections by Amanda Soule when I finally decided to get it. I have been wanting to get more crafty and this book seemed like the perfect vehicle to get me and the girls going. I read the book and I really liked it's whole schtick about creating together as a family. I was particulary drawn to the sections about embroidery and hand sewing. I thought that it would be something that the girls and I would enjoy.

There was a cute hand sewing project (a stuffed wool felt block for babies) that I thought I could do with the girls so I went to the resourse guide and found out where I could get what I needed and ordered the supplies online. Meanwhile I also saw that there was another book listed in the resourse section called Kids Embroidery: Projects for Kids of All Ages. There was something about the title that I liked so I went to Barnes and Nobel to check it out. Of course I had to buy it when I saw it. It has 15 or so projects that seem to build on your skills as progress through them.

When I got home from Barnes and Nobel, I tried to find the things I needed for the first few projects in the book and immediatly got stumped trying to find a plastic needle point canvas in 7 mesh size. I kept googleing "needlepoint canvas 7 mesh size" and not finding what I needed. This went on for a few days until I finally realized that I needed to make sure that I included the word plastic in the search. Of course I immediatly found the needlepoint canvas I needed (and the assorted scissors, needles and pins) but the website had no skeins of persian wool. In fact, it might not be possible for me to buy the needlepoint yarn on line. I'm having a hard time figuring out which colors to buy. I'm hoping that I can find some wool in Manhattan. I checked and there actually are needlepoint stores here!

While all this was going on with me purchasing supplies I found out that a friend of mine Christine has just started a new blog Origami Mommy which worked out great for my desire to find something crafty to do with my kids. Christine's blog is about paper crafts (like origami) and she had 2 great projects, little origami boxes and tissue paper flowers. The only supplies I needed to buy were tissue paper and origami paper, both readily available in my neighborhood. The girls and I made a bunch of cubes and tissue paper flowers. It also got me started on some other origami. I now know how to make a duck, a sparrow and little cups.

I'm looking forward to my sewing supplies to arriving. I can't wait to become a craftier mom!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Time Out

Last Shabbat we had some friends over and the concept of giving a child a time out came up in the conversation. My husband laughed and mentioned that time out was a phrase he had not heard used in our house for a long time. I guess I can say that we don't use time outs anymore when we are having a problem with one of our kids. We used to use them but as everyone knows time outs do not work. If they did work you would have only had to do it a few times and then your child would behave when ever the threat of a time out was mentioned.

Amazingly, even though I knew this, every so often I would go back to using time outs as a way to discipline my kids. I have to admit this was often after reading an article about how effective time outs were or after seeing Nanny Jo on The Nanny (a guilty pleasure) use them.

One evening after a trying day with one of my kids which included many time outs I read in a book that when you feel like giving your child a time out it probably means that you need a time out (I believe that I read that in Naomi Aldort's book Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves.I just need to look through the book to make sure that I am correct).It was one of my big ah ha moments. Since then I have only given time outs to myself, which by the way, work much better than when I used to give them to my kids.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Mad Libs!

Even if I never end up homeschooling my kids, my interest in it has helped me discover some very interesting ideas about education. Some of the blogs and websites that I have found have yielded some excellent information. Of course my favorite ideas seem to come from the unschooling blogs and websites!

Danielle Conger's website has great information for unschooling that you can use when you are just hanging out with the kids. Go to her unschooling link and she has a list of things that she uses and does with her kids to unschool.

Mad libs were on her list of things they have used to learn grammar so yesterday afternoon I bought some mad libs for the kids. I figured that it would be a good way for them to learn (T) and reinforce (R) parts of speech. The kids had a blast doing them (as did I). By the time that we had done 4 of them T had a pretty good concept of nouns, plural nouns, and adjectives and she was beginning to understand adverbs. Like the coin games I played last Sunday, the mad libs did not seem like work to either me or my kids. It was a relaxing and pleasant way to spend some time with each other. Something that can be hard to come by at 6 PM,

Sunday, June 7, 2009


As expected, the part of homeschooling that I am most attracted to is the most radical homeschooling philosophy; unschooling. I've been reading alot about it online and I have also been reading How Children Fail by John Holt. I have been most intrigued by Holt's own notes that were written in 1982 on the original 1964 edition of the book. Holt had come to the conclusion that the best way for kids to learn would be by doing everyday things and learning from the things that they were most interested in.

Last night it occured to me that I could probably get T, my seven year old, interested in doing some math if I used some coins to play some adding games. I first had to show her which coins were quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies. I was actually surprised that she didn't know all the coins but then I realized I had never shown her. Every time I had given her money to pay for something I had never showed her how much I was giving her and I had also never counted the change with her.

I started by giving her a bag with change and asking her to give me x cents. She almost always gave me the right amount and she kept asking me to ask her for more change. Then I thought that I would show her how she was adding each time that she gave me coins. I think she was surprised to realize that she was adding so many numbers at the same time. In school she is just trying to get used to adding 2 numbers at a time. I also showed her that she was also doing multiplication when I asked her to give me 70 cents in dimes. I showed her that 7 dimes was also 7 x 10. T was surprised that she was able to multiply (and so was I!).

On the way to the very cool mandatory (we told the kids they had to go) Renegade Crafts Fair in Williamsburg, T spent the whole time doing "math problems" with coins. She was having so much fun the other girls wanted to get in on the action. After we were done with the fair and we got back into the car T started saying "Let's do more math, Let's do more math!" We kept on playing the coin game on our way to meet J's parents for dinner. After dinner, when we got back in the car, she again wanted to do more questions but I was tired and I told her we were done for the day.

So my first experience unschooling was a great success. T had lots of fun and actually learned a bunch of concepts. Even if I never homeschool, from now on I am going to take all the opportunities I can to teach from everyday life. Not only is it an opportunity for kids to learn something it's also a lot of fun for everyone involved.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Ernesto Neto Exhibit at the Park Avenue Armory (Why Do Kids Resist Art?)

Yesterday after the Israeli day parade my husband and I decided that we were going to take the kids to the Ernesto Neto Installation, Anthropodino, at the Park Avenue armory. Since we knew we were going to get resistance we tried to tell them that we were going to an to see an installation with out mentioning that it was an art installation (we tried various ways of describing it with out using the word art) Of course the kids were too smart for this and got us to confess that we were in fact taking them to see art (R, my 9.5 year old is the only one of my kids interested in art so she was actually excited to go).

My 13 year old Z complained that he hated art for 13 blocks but with in minutes after arriving he was exploring the installation. There were pods with spices in them such as cloves, ginger and cinnamon (some low enough for you to smell) that scented the armory. There was also a giant bean bag that you could sit or roll on, a carpet like thing to walk on (with a mini mountain at the end of it), a giant memory foam mat with spice bean bags on it, tunnels to run through and the kids favorite; the ball pit.

The kids had a great time. My son who had been so resistant to this exhibit probably had more fun than anyone else, evidenced by his 3 trips to the ball pit and the photos that he took. J took a great picture of Z with a giant smile on his face which Z secretly deleted lest there was any evidence that he had actually enjoyed art. If you can you should try to take your kids to see this instillation and remember to ignore all protests!


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