Sunday, February 27, 2011

Flower Fairies

The snowdrops popping up reminded me that, after our garden composition stories and before diving into Botany per se, we should make flower fairies! We can read the poetry of Cicely Mary Barkerand take nature walks to discover the flowers on the school grounds that are currently in bloom. Cicely Mary Barker was such an amazing naturalist, and the personality of each flower clearly shows in both the words of her poems and the illustrations.

Happily, I have a lot of cards for the Nature table from the Flower Fairies Postcard Book

For this Language/Science/Handwork project I'd like the children to choose a flower, write a poem, and sew a corresponding flower fairy which we can display in the classroom. They can then take it for their nature table at home. Hmmm... another nice introduction to this project might be a root-child story (I have a lovely set I needle felted at a workshop with Suzanne Down) and The Story of the Root-Childrenby Sibylle von Olfers.

I've pulled all the festival and handwork books off my shelf that I thought might have flower fairy patterns and projects in them. Now I have to choose:

The Nature Corner: Celebrating the Year's Cycle with Seasonal Tableaux

I will list all the different patterns included in this book -- there are many! -- but only the simplest would be appropriate for my young students to make. They can knit but cannot purl yet (although the knitted moss stitch flower fairy is lovely, and might be a reason to teach purling), they cannot crochet, and they are too little to make a fully formed Waldorf head.

If you yourself are making flower children for your Nature table, this book has the most variety of patterns and instructions.

This book contains patterns for a crocheted root child and a sewn root child which requires a Waldorf style doll head. For flower fairies, the books contains directions for a simple "Flower-Child made of teased sheep's wool" which we could easily do, a knitted flower child which requires moss stitch, a crocheted flower child, and a sewn flower child with a flower in her hand.

Of these patterns we could only do the simple wool/felt one.

Materials required:
15 cm wool roving
a strip of felt
scraps of felt
embroidery thread

Rank in order of difficulty: 1

Feltcraft: Making Dolls, Gifts and Toys

This book contains Flower Children patterns. The flower children are sewn simply of felt (a felt tube stuffed with wool, a simple head, collar and hat details added). The patterns included are crocus, snowdrop, bluebell, tulip, daffodil.

Materials required:
pieces of felt
pink or white knitted cotton
unspun wool
carded wool or fairy-tale wool
pipe cleaners

The pipe cleaners are not for arms but are the stems of flowers, if the doll has a whole standing flower as part of the costume. These patterns seem a bit finicky to sew for 1st/2nd graders.

Rank in order of difficulty: 4

The Children's Year: Seasonal Crafts and Clothes

This books contains "Spring flower fairies" made of wool felt with a pipe cleaner frame and a bead head. Patterns given are for snowdrop, crocus, primrose, and violet.

Materials required:
pipe cleaner
2 cm diameter bead for head
glue and thread

The pipe cleaner goes through the bead to form the neck and the dress is simply stitched around it.

Rank in order of difficulty: 2

All Year Round

This book contains "Flower fairies" for Candlemas and afterwards: snowdrop, primrose, and crocus. The patterns are a felt body and stockinette head, similar to Feltcraft.

Materials required:
flesh colored stockinette
fleece or cotton wool for stuffing

Rank in order of difficulty: 3

P.S. I do not have


but they both look lovely.

I also don't have the version of The Story of the Root Children with gorgeous quilted illustrations... but I wish I did!

Mother Earth and Her Children: A Quilted Fairy Tale

Friday, February 25, 2011

School Arts Magazine

We are just finishing up Picasso's Blue Period (which I introduced by reading Picasso and Minou) and a teacher friend of mine recommended the "Picasso's Got the Blues" art activity from an old issue of School Arts magazine. I was just blown away -- I had never seen or heard of this magazine before. I loved it! A must have for teachers... parents... all educators interested in bringing art to students.

School Arts - the Art Education Magazine for K-12 Art Educators

The website includes free art lesson plans so even if you don't plan to try out a subscription, definitely visit the site. We did the monochromatic painting and also tried out another idea from the same issue, the Glue Life Relief Portraits, my first foray into printmaking!

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Alphabet Game

We continued playing The Alphabet Game for the rest of our holiday weekend.

Yesterday was "H."

Leah suggested "housework" and Rebecca suggested "helper" so we combined the two and unpacked and organized part of the basement. This housework job was a lot of fun! The children spent the whole morning squealing, Oh, I didn't know I still had this! Leah was covered in stickers, Becca was wearing all the jewelry she could find, and Natalie had at least three different kinds of lip gloss on. We hadn't finished unpacking the boxes from our last move (last summer) so the children had fun finding their things from "years ago" as Becca termed it. After the morning work was done I took the children for haircuts and then bought them hula hoops. They had a blast! For dinner we had ham, split pea soup, salad, and biscuits with assorted honeys. I set out raw unfiltered honey from Colorado, a huge piece of honeycomb, creamed clover honey, and wildflower honey. Each girl got to try the different kinds. After dinner we each sat and created a happiness web of all the things that make us happy and I collected them, read them out loud, and we tried to guess which happiness web belonged to which person. Finally, we played hangman. This can be done with young readers by simply providing them with a children's dictionary and a sticky Post-It note. I had the girls look through the dictionary and place the sticky under the word of their choice. Then they know how to spell it with confidence. We each took a turn. Three letter words are actually the hardest: C U _ puzzled even me. Cub? Cut? Cud? Cup? Leah guessed C U E and I was so impressed with the guess. I said to her, I didn't even know you knew that word. And she said yes, it's that thing you sit on in church.


the most delicious honey ever

Today was "P."

We had a cold rainy day so we focused on play, indoors when it was raining and outdoors during the breaks. Bikes, dolls, musical instruments, and so on. In the afternoon we had OT and then an emergency car repair so I didn't get to introduce a P game. (This is just as well, because I hadn't chosen one. Perquackey? Password? Pit? Passing through the Netherworld? Natalie wanted Poker but I was having none of it.) But we really lived it up in the P realm when it came to foods today. Buttermilk pancakes and a mango - vanilla soy milk - pineapple smoothie for breakfast. I love adding frozen pineapple chunks to smoothies because they add the sweetness and some icy cold tingle. Peanut butter sandwiches and peaches for lunch. Chicken and potatoes and spinach for dinner. I was glad we kept it simple today because it's back to school tomorrow and I wanted something restful.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

This Day Brought to You By...

We are lucky enough to have a four day weekend, due to our school President's Day holiday: Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday.

I don't have a lot of money for activities right now, but I want the girls to feel like we are filling the weekend with special family time. So I borrowed an idea from Sesame Street and we are celebrating a letter each day. I choose the letter and plan activities that start with that letter. It keeps the day inexpensive but still keeps it fun!

Yesterday was "B."

We took a beach walk along the Chesapeake Bay. It was over 70 degrees yesterday so it was lovely and warm. We visited my Aunt Janet and her best friend (which was unexpected but the children want to count it as a B). We picked blossoms for the dinner table (the snowdrops and crocus are up, and there are catkins on the black pussy willow). When we came home from the beach, the girls all had bubble baths. I made a Blueberry Buckle for dessert. And after dinner I taught Natalie and Leah how to play Backgammon.

Today was "C."

To begin with we cleaned the house. Then we went to the carwash. When we came home, I cut back the raspberry canes and made the girls Crusty Prune Delight for snack (dried plums soaked overnight in apple juice and then baked with a crumb topping of wheat germ, butter, and a little ground cloves). Tonight we will have a candlelit dinner with chocolate-covered fortune cookies for dessert (these were on clearance at the grocery store and allow me to cover chocolate, Chinese food, and cookies in one fell swoop). After dinner and dessert I'm going to teach Natalie and Leah how to play Clue and we will have an indoor camping party on the living room floor, complete with sleeping mats, sleeping bags, and cocoa. I was going to have us sleep on the screen porch but it's supposed to go down to 28 tonight.

Since the subject of cleaning has come up, I want to take a second to RAVE about a new laundry detergent I've found. It's by Method and what I love about it, besides being planet friendly and smelling fantastic, is the pump dispenser. My girls (Kindy, 1, and 2) all assist with the laundry and this is the first detergent I've felt comfortable with them measuring. The large bottles are too heavy and unwieldy and pouring to the little line inside the measuring cup is really complicated. This detergent has a simple pump dispenser with a big sticker on it that says "4 pumps = 1 load." Of course, I'm always there when my girls are putting the laundry in, but they feel so proud and accomplished when they can help with every step.

Amazon also has a subscription available so, if you were to take the time and figure out just how long it takes you to go through all that detergent, they can send it to your door right when you are about to run out!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Introducing Picasso

Picasso is our Great Artist for the month of February. I was lucky to find two wonderful books to use to introduce him. The first one I read to my students was Pablo Picassoby Ibi Lepscky. It is such a shame that this marvelous book has gone out of print! It talks about Picasso as a child, kindergarten age, and how his mother doesn't understand him and he drives all the servants crazy... finally his father recognizes his talent and gives him the gift of entry into the world of Art.

The second was Picasso and the Girl with a Ponytailby Laurence Anholt.

If you like these books it's nice to know that each author also wrote other books about famous people from history.

Ibi Lepscky also wrote about Einstein, da Vinci, Mozart, Shakespeare, and Marie Curie. All of these books focus on the person's childhood. Unfortunately, they may be hard to track down. The Einstein one is the only one I can find in print.

Laurence Anholt also wrote about Degas, Monet, van Gogh, da Vinci, Matisse, and Cezanne.