Our last summer art playgroup is today and we paint rocks by the lake side. Such a simple and satisfying way to bookend our creative summer.
The kids pick their favorite colors and sit next to their favorite friends, painting the rocks they choose from a pile.
These are some of the beautious rocks.
This is the rock the big boys dubbed, rescue rock. “We stand here to find people that have broken legs or are stuck in jail.”
If you like a good rock painting project, take a look at red ted’s beautiful creations.
And a playtime collection of stones as playthings list. Have at it!
Key West is known for its many islands and of course, for it’s pirate history. It’s 2 days to go until we’re off to Key West ourselves.
The last time we went to Key West, we met a real pirate, Pirate Nick, branded with lots of images, one of which is a skull and crossbones. He wore a thick chain and lock around his neck. Dude, this guy was for real. He gave the boys shark’s teeth and chunks of tuna to feed the fish swimming at the dock. He gut the fish right in front of us, freshly caught by his own hands that day.
It’s Hurricane Sunday here in the Northeast, we’re stuck in the house, outside the wind and rain are pounding, so we find some fun things to do.
Little J extracts our crayon melter machine from the back shelves of the studio.
We muddle through our ginormous bag of broken crayons and separate out some of the unwrapped colors. We break them up into smaller pieces and use it in our melter machine. Waiting is part of this process, so while we’re waiting, I turn the griddle on low with a piece of aluminum foil and paper, and we melt some crayon bits on top.
We also enjoy drawing on the paper. The crayons become slick and draw thick, bold lines. It looks like a pirate map. “This is a pond and a river and it empties into the sea.”
When the paper is full, we remove it and draw right on the aluminum foil.
We find some small papers and make crayon prints, but it’s hot, so I do this part while the boys carefully supervise my every move. The prints looks like little aerial maps of Key West. We’ll have to bring one to give to our friend, Pirate Nick.
There is a hurricane coming to the Northeast and we’ve had ample time to plan, unlike with the tornado of June.
Big K gets a cooler full of ice, lots of batteries, he checks the gutters and makes sure the flashlights and camping stove is accessible.
We check on friends and make sure they’re ready too.
After I’ve pulled in all the toys from outside, cleaned out the garage (pushed the ride on toys and dump trucks to the left), so we can actually fit the car in there, and I take all the recyclables to the dump, I take a look in the fridge and freezer. I see lots of foods that would spoil and go to waste if we lose power, organic collared greens, broccoli, veggies from the garden, yogurt, etc, etc…so I get to work and cook up a storm, no pun intended.
We’re also going on vacation and don’t want food in the fridge when we are away.
After lots of work in the kitchen, (I love this part of domesticity), I have stuff “ready to eat” in the fridge.
whole grain pasta and pesto
steamed broc, cauliflower, carrots and beets
green juice, cherry and mango smoothie made with greek yogurt
black beans and rice
And I prep and bag other stuff to put in the freezer:
shredded summer squash
clean and chopped collard greens
pepper, onion and scallion chop in a mason jar to use for sofrito.
So, no matter how hard the wind blows or how much it rains or if the power goes out, we’ll eat well.
Cousin R will be going back to school next week and we’ll be in Key West squeezing the last little bit out of our summer.
Today was our last summer day hanging out with Cousin R. We went to the beach, had her favorite meals, hung out with her new summer friends, stayed up late watching a girl and horse chick flick, and went to the zoo to celebrate.
We had a series of tremendous adventures together over the last 3 months Miss R.
So, this one goes out to you babe, you’re one of my favorite things about this summer, a creative inspiration to the J’s and Little K!
This artistic influence Cousin R has with the boys is the greatest gift I could ever receive, besides the time I get to spend with my niece, of course.marble water launcher
Collaborative group work and project work, both large and small, can be extremely valuable and necessary to advance Cognitive Development, Physical Development, Social Development and Language and Literacy Development.
flowers for mama
Group work encourages children to dialogue, critique, compare, negotiate, hypothesise and problem solve.
This summer, and throughout the year I try to work with the kids on projects that are concrete, important to them and of interest to them.
The projects can emerge from children’s ideas, they can be provoked by the people around us and they can also derive from the adults knowing what is of interest to the children.
paper pulping it.
There is no better way we could have spent our summer than sharing interests, projects with Cousin R, while also working on all our developmental skills, negotiations, problem solving and creative pursuits. Cousin R added some “flava” to our soup, for sure.
When Little J was 3, he became very scared that there were monsters living under the dresser in his room. Like the monster/ bad guy game, I wanted to understand my child’s response to this common developmental theme.
I also wanted to help Little J feel comfortable and safe in his space.
We had lots of talks about monsters. During one of these chats, we put some of our ideas in a little book.
The little book is so so simple to make. Cut a 8 by 10 piece of computer paper in half. Put these together, fold once, and attach binding with staples or string and hold punch.
Little J draws a nice monster portrait. It’s a nice monster because it’s small. This reminds me of the bear portrait Little K just drew recently, where the bear is well rested and well fed, posing no danger.
This is the dresser that has lots of darkness and shadowy spaces under it, a great hiding place for a monster. J has a great view of this dresser and the dark window while he drifts off to sleep at night. While helping him go to sleep at night he used to talk about throwing the monsters through the windows and into the trees, telling them to go home and go to bed. He would sleep with our little fish net. We also had some other monster repellent methods.
We used cleaner fluid, sprayed under the dresser every night, telling Little J that monsters don’t like clean places and the spray would repel them like bug spray. We also played lots of soft, pretty music, telling Little J that they only liked rap and heavy metal.
All these things seemed to help Little J fall asleep peacefully.
What happens in those little minds around age 3? Do kids start to dream at this age? Can their dreams be overwhelming? Did his fear at night have anything to do with his little brother getting mobile and persistently interrupting his play. At 3, are children experiencing a little separation anxiety? Do they scare themselves with their own 3 year old defiance, tantrums?
Here is a couple of great books about children getting angry and turning into, acting like monsters.
Sometimes I’m Bombaloo by Rachel Vail
When Sophie Gets Angry- Really, Really Angry by Molly Bang.
What’s up with this game of monsters and bears and bad guys?
This is a series in which Little K draws many little pictures of bears. Little K describes the bears as so, “they not growling, they just woke up and they just finish eatin.” These are bears that we have no need to fear.
When I was a teacher, the preschoolers stayed very busy playing some form of “bad guys” or another. And now my boys have started.
As teachers, we often let the children work through conflict on their own. Teachers would help by giving them positive words if a child became very upset or asked for help. And I’ve taken up a similar course of action with my boys.
Usually, J is the Rescuer and Little K is the bad guy, but Little K does not like being the bad guy all the time and ends up in tears. Sometimes, the “Rescuer” becomes the bad guy, because Little J gets carried away with his imaginary game of survival and beating the bad guy that he get too rough.
The boys have been loving to read “The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and THE BIG HUNGRY BEAR.” by Don and Audrey Wood. The mouse picks a strawberry and does everything he can to protect it from a hungry bear, that we never happen to confront during the tale.
This game of bad guys and bears works the best when Little J and K team up as the good guys and fight an invisible force, like the BIG HUNGRY BEAR, playing together with the same intention and coming up with a plan to conquer the bear or the monster!
They build forts together, jump on the couch, run around the house at top speed, play hide and seek, giggle and squeal.
There’s still conflict, even when they work together. Jeanine Fitzgerald, author, speaker, Certified Human Behavior Specialist, and a mother…believes there will be a conflict with children about every 5 minutes. She believes that they are competent to work through most of them if you give them the chance, AND, that the more you allow them to practice, the better they become at conflict resolution.
But, I have a lot of questions here!
1. This is an intense game, kids around the age of 3 and 4 become engaged in this kind of play on a consistent basis, it seems they need to work through these ideas and themes, but WHY?
2. Is there something in their lives that the monster, bad guy or bear represents?
3. Is it a way to manage fears, to feel powerful in the face of something that scares them?
4. How often and when should I intervene when the play becomes uncomfortable or physical?
Sounds like we’ve got some important work to do! Any ideas, fellow, Super Parents / Educators?
We have ourselves a Paper Pulp Party for the Art Playgroup.
The snipping station is popular with lots of colors of paper and scissors. Mamas and kids all practice their snipping and tearing skills. We fill lots of blender pitchers with paper at this table.
The boys and I spent a week previous prepping lots of paper to start. We’re able to sort our work into different colors. The children who want to start at the blender station are offered a choice of colors. In the beginning these colors stay pure and make it onto the screens without getting mixed.
Eventually, we blend lots of colored papers together and often achieve a greyish, bluish color pulp.
The kids, varying in age from 1-6 years, all enjoy the process of pouring the pulp onto the screens. Some of the older boys, mine especially, spend a lot of time running around the yard and eating snacks. But, most of the kids are consistently focused and involved.
We dump whatever pulp the blender makes into tubs and bring it over to the process table, where the kids use old measuring cups to scoop and pour. No one can resist, pressing and pushing the pulp with their bare hands. Some kids think it is slimy and others can’t stop touching.
We run out of all the pre-prepped paper and start to use all the snips from the table. White paper, paper from scapbooking catalogues and scraps of construction paper. I find that the construction paper especially, stays chunky in the blender and makes this very interesting party blend of colors on the screen.
The screens of paper pulp come out colorful, full of the life the kids use when snipping and blending and pouring and pressing.
The screens full of pulp sit in the sun to dry.
When all is said and done, the tables of food are cleared away, the chairs are put away, the tools all inside…the process table stays in the driveway, still full of water and some paper pulp with random scraps of paper thrown in for good measure. The boys and I will be trying a new way to paper pulp in the coming week.
Like Child Central Station, we will be using no blenders this time around. We’re letting the paper soak and we will be panning for pulp with sand sifters absconded from the sandbox. I’ll keep you updated on how this goes.
We had a great weekend!
Saturday was the town’s 2nd annual Feast and Fire Festival.
The MOMS Club road on a trailer lead by a tractor.
We also “wo”manned a booth where we sold our cookbooks, along with goop and play dough.
We raised about $300 to donate to Healthy Families and Home for Our Troops.
Mix 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup glue in a ziplock baggie. Add 1 teaspoon of Borax and another 1/2 cup water, along with food coloring. Mix until it turns to goop, slime, flubber. This might take some time. If your mixture is too watery, leave the baggie open to the fresh air for a couple of hours.
On Sunday Little J and I joined some family for a big potluck BBQ at a state park.
The kids had a table where they could build with rocks.
I added a couple of bags of the MOMS Club play dough and goop.
There was lots of delicious food, lots of great people, water, sand, trees, trails.
Little J made fast friends with a cousin of a cousin of a cousin. They drew with big sticks in the sand, splashed in the little lake and ate their BBQ meal side by side.
It was a blast. And like every time we all get together, we say that we should do it more often!
I hope we do!
Cousin R and Little J fill a blender 3/4 full with snipped newspaper squares.
They fill 2/3 the blender with water, and press the button to mix.
I fit a scrap of mosquito netting into an embroidery hoop.
The kids pour the paper pulp mixture over the netting.
The kids and I press down on the pulp to release some of the excess water.
We set it in the sun to dry.
On Monday we will host a Summer Art Playgroup. On Tuesday, I will share the story with you in Paper Pulp, Story 3.
“There is some wisdom to the appetite, that if you clear out the white noise of processed food and listen, healthy and delicious are actually allies.”
Cousin R says Tomato Soup is her favorite. And I have lots of tomatoes (and basil) from the garden right now, so I find a recipe for our dinner. Tomato soup is one of my favorite comfort foods…I love it with a good crusty grilled cheese.
Here’s a recipe. So Easy and Light!
Garden Tomato and Basil Soup.
2 cloves of garlic
8 basil leaves
2 pounds tomatoes
14 ounces chicken broth
1 cup half and half
1/4 cup butter
Puree washed tomatoes with basil. Saute garlic and onion with oil in soup pot until tender. Add tomato puree and broth, bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add sugar. Reduce heat to low; stir in cream and butter. Cook until butter is melted.
Pesto, Tomato Pizza
Make or buy your dough and follow directions to get it in the pan. Spread the pesto over the dough. Add slices of mozzarella and tomatoes. Cook at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for about 12 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling and the crust is nicely browned.
6-7 Roma tomatoes
1 green pepper
1 yellow pepper
2 Garlic cloves
1 Jalapeño pepper
Chop all and mix.
“Food is the first wealth. Grow it right, and you feel insanely rich, no matter what you own.”
Excerpts from this phenomenal book I’m reading by Kristin Kimball,
The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food and Love