I didn’t mean for the entire month of November to pass without any posts other than the monthly recap (which was late), yet here it is, a month passed, and I’m sitting on 4 posts in draft, waiting to be finished.
I’m not going to beat myself up for it though – even though we simplify our holidays, the end of the year is always filled with wrapping projects ups, planning for the new year and the general excitement the comes with the season. I’m intentionally trying to slow down the things that I can slow down so that I can be more fully present throughout the month.
Creative Writing and Art:
That being said, we did add something new into our schedule. The kids have been attending writing and art workshops at the Desert Island Supply Co. (DISCO). It’s an amazing local resource, founded to provide opportunities for kids to write and create.
We are all big fans:
It’s a great environment and the kids have really enjoyed bouncing around ideas with other kids.
The first month, the theme was magical realism. They worked on stories, poetry and crafts, such as the magical tree below, in this theme.
Exploring New Foods:
Randy does about 98% of the cooking and preparations for it, and he loves trying new foods and new methods of cooking. He’s great at involving the children and I believe this has a big impact on their eating habits. Being a part of the process makes food more satisfying, and makes children more willing to try something different, than when it just always seems to magically appear before you.
Additionally, cooking provides tons of math and science learning.
Cartoon and Comic Art:
The Sunday Comics are enjoyed regularly in our home, but there are several of my favorites that the children hadn’t been introduced to, since they ended years ago. One is Calvin and Hobbes. After watching a documentary exploring the universal love and appeal of Calvin and Hobbes, the children requested books from the library so that they could try them out. (I’m happy to report that they love them too.)
This also led to exploring other comic and cartoon art through the years, drawing styles and their impact on society.
I recently started purchasing canvas panels for the children to paint on. It costs more than paper, but I also believe in providing them with materials and opportunities to try out new things. We also purchased some watercolors, acrylics and new brushes for them.
While I believe an artist can make a masterpiece using whatever materials are available, having good ones to learn and grow with helps build a solid foundation.
Popsicle Stick Crafts:
Declan loves crafts. For years, I have struggled off-and-on to find crafts that he can do mostly or fully on his own. I recently came across some crafts using popsicle sticks and felt as though I had hit a gold mine. I ordered a huge box of craft sticks off of Amazon and when they arrived, I got him set up and printed out instructions and let him at it.
He had tons of fun using them, and he and Seamus both ended up making up their own projects as well.
Seamus got soap carving tools for his birthday in October, but they didn’t arrive until November. He tried to wait patiently, but he’d already spent a lot of time researching online and figuring out ideas and tips that he was anxious to get his hands on them.
When they arrived, he opened them up and started exploring. We told him only that they could be sharp, and let him work on the rest. He’s working on perfecting his craft but will still happily sell you heart-shaped, hand-painted soap ;)
Learning New Games:
I’m not sure why it took me so long to pull Skip-Bo out… Maybe because, in our house, games often become something entirely different from what they were purposed for, and pieces get lost or broken?
Anyway, I was clearing out something and came across Skip-Bo and finally pulled it out to play.
And the kids LOVE it! It’s a simple way to reinforce sorting and simple strategy without being stressful.
I can’t tell you how happy that makes this card-playing, board-game loving mama!
We discussed the history of Thanksgiving throughout the month of November and supplemented it with a documentary on the history of Thanksgiving, and an interactive history site.
We ate simply, but deliciously. We love turkey, but it’s just so much food, even when you love the leftovers. We hate being strapped to the kitchen all day (the cooking part, I enjoy, but not the cleanup), and the simpler, the better.
So our thing has been to grill cornish hens, and serve those along with a simple green bean side dish, homemade cranberry sauce, and pumpkin casserole.
The kids were involved with the prep, but mostly got to enjoy watching the parade and the dog show.
Some of November’s movie selection:
We use Netflix and our AppleTV as a big part of home education. There is always something relevant to what is being learned, studied, discussed, or something that can spark a new interest.
Here is a sampling of what we watched in November:
Burt’s Buzz – a great documentary about the co-founder of Burt’s Bees.
To Catch a Comet: We were able to catch an early release of this documentary about how the Rosetta mission became possible, through the PBS channel on our AppleTV.
The Grapes of Wrath – I had never seen this movie or read the book, and I was so moved by the movie when I first saw it last year. The only thing the kids knew about it was the VeggieTales adaptation. Abbie saw it in our queue and mentioned that she had started watching it 2 years ago in school, but they didn’t get to watch much of it, so we played it and all cried together.
The movie created a great discussion on the history of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, poverty, helping those in need, helping family, and many other social and economic issues.
Your turn: What sorts of fun things did you explore with your children in November?