It’s no coincidence that fire safety month falls in a month when we’re all starting to warm our houses with fire. I’ve been starting fires in the wood stove with more frequency, at the point of influencing the kids’ artwork.
As part of the curriculum of Little J’s school, the kids learn all about fire safety. To round out the month of fire safety lessons, the teachers invite the local fire fighters to the classroom with their uniforms and fire truck. Little K and I join the class for the morning.
The firefighters talk about having a exit plan at home and about stop drop and roll, crawling down low, etc. They dress in all their gear, including mask and air tank, to show the children that they are “good guys.” They give the kids a tour of the truck and allow them to climb through some of the seats.
For the boys, this was the grand finale of all their imaginary play lately. So much of their play is taken up by pretending to be fire fighters, dressing up in rescue gear and pretending to race to fires with toy fire trucks.
Through our local MOMS Club, we have arranged to have tours through the fire house. I don’t see why you couldn’t do the same if you have little ones that would enjoy a meet and greet with a hero and their gear.
We’re busy with a very traditional, predictable fall leaf activity. Little J, Friends A and H all read this book in school this time of year. So, I get it from the library so we can read it here too.
I think that we can try to modge podge some leaves and arrange them on paper.
After reading the book, Little J comments on the eyes of the animals. We get a hole puncher to test it out with leaves.
Alas, I cannot find our modge podge, so I dig out my acrylic matte varnish. We try to paint the leaves right onto the paper.
But, the leaves are pretty dry and don’t want to flatten on the paper. The boys get frustrated with the process and lose interest in the project.
If I were to do this again, I would cover the table with newspaper, make sure I have the modge podge and paint the front and the back of the leaves, letting them dry before arranging them and gluing them on the paper.
The boys say they’ve made leaf piles on their papers.
Papa Key West has some big ideas.
He wants us to design a logo for one of his newest entrepreneurial adventures, a website to help promote the production of MMA events.
I don’t know squat about the sport of fighting…
my graphic design style is usually pretty and soft and simple with a twang of the fine arts.
This is not a good match for the very clear image Papa Key West had in mind.
Big muscles, aggressive, bold, conservative: an Earth, with North America front and center, MMA fighters, big clear letters rotating around the planet.
So, here is the process in photos. We collect photos from the internet that resonate with our ideas for the logo. I make mock ups, using these images and some of my own drawings from paper and pencil and using Photoshop. We send each other emails, talk on the phone and sit in front of the computer together talking about what he wants and what I think works for font, color, image from a design point of view.
This was a team effort with Papa critiquing my drafts with love and honesty and my trying to understand the “client” without letting my own sense of design go astray.
And of course, the boys work along side, sharing their own ideas.
Almost Unschoolers gave us the idea to color our glue.
Mastering the skill of bottle squeezing with the right amount of pressure to get the desired gluey line, or puddle, takes practice. Adding color to glue is a subtle change to a familiar material and helps to provoke further explorations of glue’s temperament.
Little K especially enjoys this project. My theory is that he loves the glue because he can do it all by himself, the lines he makes are bold and he can stick stuff to it. He uses glitter after watching Friend H use glue and glitter.
We use an idea from my former studio days. The kids and I pull some lily stalks from the fall gardens and work on snipping them into small pieces.
Snipping lily stalks presents more of a challenge to a child who has mastered cutting paper. The pieces go flying, so use appropriate safety precautions. Before snipping, I tell the boys about the hazard and they are mindful.
The boys talk about crosses, “X” marks the spot and fences as they arrange their stalk snippings on their colorful glue lines.
These are some of our finished work using glue and stalk.
We have been lucky enough to be a part of, not 1, but 2 pumpkin carving parties this year. Party number 1 is a service project, to carve pumpkins for the Ecotarium’s annual Pumpkin Festival, a children’s science museum. The second is a social for families of Little J’s school.
We give the kids sharpie markers to draw on the pumpkins while parents scrape down the insides. The more daring sensory kids help to scoop out the guts.
The kids help to carve too.
Siblings, parents and friends work shoulder to shoulder at this traditional fall time activity. The focus is on relationships and community, not so much about the final result, even though the kids’ carvings were fabulous!
We bring the insides of the pumpkins home in a large baggy and put them in the process table, inspired by Sun Hats and Wellie Boots’ pumpkin goop.
Friend H has the most fun with this, pretending to cook with the seeds and pulp.
We make a grid to help count the seeds too. Friend H is working with number grids at school right now. We were inspired by the grid at montessoritidbits.
“We run to catch the falling leaves.”
“We smell their smells and touch their vines.”
Bright jewels from the crowns of trees…”
“We trace their shapes. We say their names.”
Leaf Jumpers by Carole Gerber.
If you can get your hands on some young ginger root, it makes a mean cup of tea, my favorite.
I’m told it’s easy to grow. I’ll have to add it to my list for next spring’s garden.
We stop at the local farmers’ market this weekend and find some young ginger root. It doesn’t have the light brown skin that you have to peel off. The farmer tells me to freeze it as is and grate it when ready to use.
Grate frozen ginger root into a mug, as much as you’d like.
Pour boiling water in the mug.
Sweeten with honey and flavor with the juice from a slice of lemon.
The boys favor tea over hot chocolate! Usually, they prefer berry zinger with honey and lemon, but this day Little K finishes off my cup of ginger for me.
Yummy, spicy and great for helping you feel better when you’re under the weather or have had a busy day or just cause or you’re coming in from making a snow man or, there doesn’t need to be an excuse. So good.
Our local library has “take home” crafts in the summer months.
This one we held onto and put to good use well after the summer program is over.
We read the book Pond Walk by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace.
We take a pond walk of our own, looking for living things, collecting leaves, taking a dip at the river’s edge, floating boats…
We come home to the Lotus Pond project.
Lotus flowers symbolize beauty, purity, majesty, wealth, knowledge, peace and harmony.
Buddhists consider the lotus a sacred flower, the lotus is India’s national flower, and Ancient Egyptians believed that the lotus flower gave birth to the sun.
How to make a Lotus Pond:
Decorate a paper plate, to look like a pond. Paint or color it blue, draw lines? Let the kids decide what water looks like.
Cut out lily pads shapes.
Glue lilies to the plate.
Cut out egg carton cups.
Glue those on the lily pads.
Add some dragon flies, sparkles, leaves, branches…whatever you like.
Fire wood warms you many times…isn’t that the saying?
The boys have made a secret hiding nook out of the spaces between log piles outside. The space fits a wagon, or little people just right.
Like the first snow, the first fire in the wood stove is a special event.
We had about 5 cords delivered last week.
We use the wood stove all winter and usually have to only supplement with one full tank of oil for heat.
And so begins the season of warming ourselves with wood. There’s nothing like the warmth from a wood stove.
Big K has taught me how to start a perfect fire.
Recipe for a good fire:
Paper strips, a great way to reuse the newspaper
Kindling, we use old pieces of fence and shingle from Papa S
Nice big log
a little air
Line the bottom of the stove with paper strips.
Teepee the kindling above the paper.
Light the paper.
Close up the wood stove except for a crack and let the paper and kindling catch.
When it’s good and lit, add some pieces of wood, still keeping the door cracked.
When you can hear the fire humming and crackling quietly, close up the stove.
This winter I will be busy keeping the home fires burning.
I see an instant transformation when the kids use face paint crayons.
They color their faces, drawing circles around their eyes in small mirrors.
They move to the full mirror. They growl, make fierce faces, open their eyes and mouth wide to see themselves.
They beg me for capes. I find large pieces of fabric and tie it around their little shoulders. They run around the house at top speed pretending to rescue people.
Most of the time, my kids don’t particularly get excited about dress up. I’ve put together a dress up area a couple of times, with not much traffic. This time, seeing their interest in face paint and capes, I knew it would work.
Especially with it almost being Halloween, I get a little free pass, or maybe the kids are just catching on to how fun it is to put on a disguise.
I take down the rescue tools from our family room shelf and set out costumes, hats, glasses, etc. The kids are all over it. They get dressed up for walks, to play outside, to jump in the mud and they would wear them to school if it was allowed.