Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Winter Needle Felted Characters

In December, I was inspired to make Grandfather Winter with his lantern to light his way through the dark winter nights, Grandmother Winter with her snow cloak and basket of holly berries, and a snowball elf whom Grandmother Winter lovingly cares for.

These are some shots of them on one of the seasonal tables by the tree this past December. I hope to open an etsy shop in the next month or two for fun! Of course, it's always preferred if crafts are handmade by Momma and the children - but I am finding myself with so many felted guys that I don't have room to store them all & it seems befitting to share them with others.

In the Wood by Eileen Mathias

Cold winter's in the wood
I saw him pass --
Crinkling up fallen leaves
Along the grass --

Bleak winter's in the wood,
The birds have flown
Leaving the naked trees
Shivering alone.

King Winter's in the wood,
I saw him go --
Crowned with a coronet
Of crystal snow.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Winter Seasonal Table for January

Where we are in Southern California, it only snows in the mountains, so we say we have two seasons here, the "rainy" season and "summer". That can have some challenges when trying to instill rhythm around the four seasons, and that is why the nature and seasonal tables are so important.

I am a "stations" person - my mil thought it was hilarious when she used to come to our house when the girls were toddlers and I had various set ups around the house for the girls to wander to and freely explore, but I really think that is one of the best things you can do for your children, young and old alike. Allowing them to touch and marvel at what is set out for them, be it pots & pans, dress up attire, toys, picture books standing in wait, stuffed animals (knitted, wooden, etc). These can be easily rotated and give Mom some down time while the children engage in quiet play.

Now we have three tables set up for nature design. We like to change them often and the girls have fun designing them. The seasonal table pictured here they helped set up with some wooden figures they received as Christmas gifts. They added some beautiful dried remnants of wild sunflowers that grow in the Angels National Forest, just steps away from our house, along with the rocks from a collection we keep near the fireplace.

Little light snowflakes
Whirl around.
Little light snowflakes
fall to the ground.
Fall on the tree
And fall on me;
Make the earth white,
Make the earth bright.
~ I. Tupaj

What's on your seasonal table? I'll be sharing our tables this week while we focus on a week of form drawing.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Making Wooden Dice for Maths Blocks

A fun activity for your maths block can be making your own dice. For those without wood carving/cutting tools, you can purchase square cubes at the local crafts shop, along with an inexpensive wood burning tool.

This was my first experience with burning wood and it is a lot more challenging than I thought. Perhaps if my tool was higher end, it would be easier to control, but it was fascinating to see how the wood takes to the various points, how the amount of time placed on the wood and the amount of pressure used can really make a difference in the outcome. In any case, I had fun making several sets to keep in our math basket. I made both traditional and sets with the Roman numerals. I also made some with the four processes so that we could use them in various games we'll be designing throughout our adventure.

When the burning is done, the blocks can be polished, if desired. I love my beeswax polish from Palumba and it can be found here.

Then, it's nice to have something to store the dice in so they don't get lost. This gorgeous silk velvet pouch handmade by the artists of Syrendell is perfect for storing the dice. It comes in many different colors and two different sizes. I think mine is the small one. If you are using large dice, you might want to purchase a medium. Just zip it up, throw in your math basket and you're good to go!

If you're more handy, then here is a wonderful tutorial on making your own zipper pouch! Have fun!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Maths Block I: Quality of Numbers X


A giant am I, just sauntering BY
To numbers so high I quickly FLY.
10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100.

This morning, we covered the last number - 10! Along with the usual riddle, story, sand scape uncovering, jumping, etc we talked about a crab having 10 legs and what deci means and tried to think of words representative of the number 10. Kristie Burns' "Sixth Sense Math" book had a wonderful story of an antelope who outsmarted the king by counting by twos to reach the number ten quickly. The girls were in a hurry to finish this lesson as they couldn't wait to plug in the secret code to see what lay beyond the magic cave. So we headed over to our set up and the Old Crone continued her story with the children. Using my beautiful Syrendell silks, I covered everything until the code was correctly entered. Now that they had learned the secret symbols, it was time to plug them in.

We used an adorable bag made by Linda at Mamma 4 Earth that she sent our little Henry the Hedgehogs in and placed our rune stones that I had made inside the bag. The stone idea was inspired by Our Little Nature Nest who made them for her math basket. I used a paint pen and wrote the numbers from 1-10 on one set of black stones (available at craft shops) and then wrote the Roman numerals I - X on another set of black stones. The girls would then match them up after they learned each number. They were now ready to match all 10 to open the cave on their journey to find their way back home.

And voila! With a groaning croak and a rumble like thunder, the cave wall shook and opened to reveal...

The Land of Numeria...

Guided by an ancient talking wolf, the children walked through the entrance of the cave and set foot in the Land of Numeria. The wolf would protect them on their journey. They were told that there were magical beings in this land that would show them all about mining and gems and how they collect and divvy them up for their King. If the children looked hard, they might just see a few gems lying around and when the time was right, they would meet the magical beings who would help them collect some special stones that they needed to get back home. They were not to forget the magical symbols that they had just learned for those would be needed along their journey, as well...

And this concludes our official first maths block on the Quality of Numbers : I - X. The rest of the week, we'll be reading and telling stories in review of the numbers to finish up this 3 week block. I also hope to blog a nice summary with our findings after experiencing this most fun block! Of course, this story will continue in our second maths block - can't wait!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Maths Block I: Quality of Numbers V-IX

V: Five Pointed Star

Like a mouse I GO
Fearfully on tip-TOE.
Looking to the LEFT,
Looking to the RIGHT;
Watching to and FRO
Danger's not in SIGHT.
Lightly I arRIVE,
I am number FIVE.

~ from E. Fairman's book POD

We continued the lessons as we had done so in the previous post here, tying in rhythms, riddles, movement, senses, and stories before drawing in our MLB.

VI: Anthropod and Hexagon (Beehive)

My drawing was inspired by the amazingly artistic Momma at Our Little Nature Nest here. She has some unbelievable ideas and presentations that will knock your socks off.

VII: Rainbow Colors

We added more movement earlier in the week with jumping over sticks. With the help of my MIL, we got the girls going a bit with the long jump rope, twirling and counting in rhythm with them. It was really exciting to see them start to get it! I also had them walk the form of 6 point star and placed our long jump rope in a circle in the grass and had them run around it with one foot in the circle of the rope and one outside of it. Then, they did it backwards :D

Another fun movement we added was using sticks my husband trimmed from our trees. I placed them on the sidewalk and using chalk, wrote the Arabic and Roman Numerals. The girls had to jump with both feet over each stick while counting in English, then in Italian on the way back. Then they tried hoping with one foot and then running over them and counting quickly. It was a blast!

There were lots of fun elements with the number 7. We discussed the seven colors of the rainbow, drew it with chalk. And then when the girls jumped the seven sticks, they recited the seven days of the week over each jump. It's amazing how adding the movement makes it harder so that they really have to concentrate to do so much at once, but it also really cements it into their entire being and not just surface memory. Charley kept omitting Wednesday, which she normally never does.

We also enjoyed a nice snuggle on the couch while Mommy read the tale of Little Snow White.

VIII: Octopus and Spider

For this number, we enjoyed the tale written by Dorothy Harrer in her book, "Math Lessons for Elementary Grades" entitled "The Family that Became One Person: A Story for the Number 8". This book is a handy small guide packed full of useful information for the homeschooling Waldorf family who is not following a set curriculum.

We also followed a wonderful riddle on the number 8 and a book reading suggestion from the marvelous Donna at School for All Seasons.

I have 8 legs to carry me around
I live in corners and close to the ground
To eat, I must spin and I can jump
Don't mistake me for a small bump
~ spider!

And I read to them "The Little Spider's First Web" by Clara Dillingham Pierson.

IX: Nine Lives of a Cat & Nine Apples in a Tree

Nine is a hard one. The girls love animals and wanted to do the nine lives of a cat, but it would have been pretty complicated drawing them all. We talked about the 9 planets in the solar system - ok still not sure about that one...IL considers Pluto a planet, but it's now listed as a "Dwarf Planet"... but we just skipped all that and drew one cat (Elena drew two) with Nine Lives (none have been used yet...) and as suggested by Marsha Johnson, one apple tree with nine apples...and yes, we proceeded to eat real apples (not nine of them, mind you)...

And tomorrow is a really exciting day for the girls because we will be learning the final number. We've been working to match our Arabic to our Roman numerals in preparation of acquiring the secret code to unlock the magic cave so our little children can find their way home. Tomorrow, at the end of the lesson, the girls will plug in the secret code and we shall see what awaits them in the cave on the summit of the mountain in this magic land...