Sunday, 14 January 2018

The Satisfying Feeling of Being Just-The-Right-Amount-Organised

Yes, we unschool/do natural learning, but I like a little bit of structure - just enough to suit the children - not too much, not too little.

And the feeling of having something planned to use in a loose and natural way helps me feel like we're covering some of the things that I think are important to introduce the children to according to their stage/interests.

One way I have found to do this, and have made available to other parents is:

The Adventures In Natural Learning Seasonal Journal

I have sold around 120 of these Journals since their release, and have had fantastic feedback from parents who are using them according to their own family's needs.

With a new year in front of us, I thought I'd take the opportunity to plan out my first month, and take photos of the way I'm doing it this month.

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Just a reminder that the Handbook and the Journal are suitable for any age from baby to adult. 
 I currently use my books for my 15, 12, 10, 7 and 3 year olds.


I wanted to make this Journal look different to the others on my shelf (my 12 year old has his own Journal) - so I put Washi tape on the front.

Seasonal Journals can be started at any time during the year - that is why I put a space on the cover for people to write the date.



 Here is the contents page which I was itching to colour, but I'll come back to that another day!


I did allow myself to colour the apples on the tree on page 3.  :)    The paper I've chosen to have the Journal printed on is BEAUTIFUL to colour on!!   Either felt pen or coloured pencil responds very nicely to this paper!


I'm wanting to start doing "Cozy Time" (our version of what might be called "Circle Time" at a preschool) again with our 3 and 7 year olds.  Most of our children have enjoyed Cozy Time over the years, and they have effortlessly learned so much in the way of language skills, body parts, sign language, maths skills, memory, logic, general knowledge etc etc etc.

I went through our Adventures In Natural Learning:  Handbook, and got some ideas for, poems, fingerplays and songs for the 3 year old, plus games I know our 7 year old will like.



Writing these on a separate piece of paper gave me more space, and I just used Washi tape to stick it to the page.    There are four entries - one for each week.  We will do Cozy Time two or three times a week, and repeat the songs and games, or I might throw a few more in - but at least it gives me a base to work on.   With many children doing different things here in the morning I appreciate having a list I can just look at quickly and it gives me direction to start something off with the younger ones.

While I was at it I cut another couple of pieces of paper the same size and stuck them in ready for next month.

I was going to get the children to colour the "Mid Summer" heading, but I had a bit of time, so I did it myself  :)  :)


Underneath the piece of paper with my Cozy Time ideas I wrote some ideas from the Handbook on other games we can play - either during Cozy Time, or afterwards.


In the box headed "Right Now I Like:" I divided it into three for my 12, 10 and 7 year olds.    I'll chat with them about what we can write in here.



One of the games I had chosen to play looked so fun that I wanted to try it out right away.  I drew up the grids (and then made the game smaller because I guessed my boys would lose interest with 9 x 9 squares, and then I made a mental note that actually 5 x 5 would be better).

But back to the organising!

I was actually done for that session.

The next day I was making a trip to the library with just a few children, so I took a photo of the "Seasonal Curriculum Ideas" to refer to at the library.



My 24 year old was with me, so it felt like cheating actually because it was so easy!!  He picked fantastic books according to my list and according to what the children like (he knows them very well!), and yes - the children DO love them!

We threw in some other books that we knew would be enjoyed even though they weren't listed.  That's one major bonus of "Do It Yourself" education - make the resources WORK FOR YOU.

Here are some of the ones we chose.


 


The way we "study" these topics is by leaving the books for the children to look through, or I might pick one up and start to read it.  Sometimes I just read the captions under the pictures for younger children to gauge their interest.

If something sparks an interest in a child they will let me know, and we might look something up on the internet, watch a video, or do something more hands-on.

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I left my planning there as I'd run out of steam.  When I come back to it I will fill in some "Potentially Interesting Subjects" from the massive lists in the back of the Handbook.  These lists have taken me years to compile and contain many basic curriculum subjects, plus some extremely in-depth topics.  It is the most comprehensive list I have seen, and is all a family needs to use as a spring-board for a very intensive educational experience!!


 Please let me know via email (here)  or message me on our FB page to order your Handbook and or Journal.  The Handbook is $30, the Journal is $20.  Or buy both together for $45  (only sold within New Zealand at this stage sorry).

FB - Adventures In Natural Learning

adventuresinnaturallearning@blogspot.co.nz




Thursday, 4 January 2018

Lovely Art Supply Suggestions


Some friends and I were discussing art and craft supplies.

 I thought I might take some photos of art supplies I have enjoyed over the last couple of years.

I am not a "trained artist" I haven't been to art school, I don't sell art equipment - I'm just a mum who likes doing art!

If you like my style please be sure to check my Facebook page - Doodles By Debbie Ball - where you can see more of my work, and can purchase my colouring Postcard books!

I also have all my books - including the Handbook and Journal, for sale on  Trade Me

But without further ado: Lovely Art Supply Suggestions!!!


First up are Sharpie markers (first pic shown above).  They have a nice tip on them, are permanent, but do bleed through, so make sure you protect your table!

Next - Promarker.



The Promarker is an alcohol based marker pen also - nice solid colour, satisfying to colour with.  Also bleeds through.  This brand is dual tip.

Alcohol markers can be used for shading - two coats of the same colour make darker areas.


My favourite non-permanent felt-tipped pens are Staedtler Tripuls color (above and below).  They are a bit pricey, so the children don't use these ones in our house!

Felt pens can tear up the paper if they are scrubbed over the paper, and they can often leave lines when colouring (as shown on the light blue and light green parts below).


Staedtler also do the Triplus Fine Liner.  I don't recommend colouring with these, unless you are doing really, really fiddling little small pieces of colouring.  But they are fabulous for journaling and colourful writing. 





The cheap metallic markers above are great for lettering, but not very good for colouring as you can see by the liney squares I have coloured on the left of the picture above.




We bought some Crayola glitter pens which are a bit scratchy, but fun to play with.


This next photo shows Reno marker pens (bought open stock - you choose what colours you like) alongside coloured pencil - Faber Castell Classic Colour.

Faber Castell Classic Colour are very affordable, not too scratchy, easy to sharpen, and come in really big packs of beautiful colours.

Faber Castell also have the more expensive Polychromos pencils which are beautifully creamy and easy to blend.  These are more "artist" quality.   Because they are softer they wear down more quickly.


 Faber Castell Gelatos are fun to use - they have a texture a little like a lipstick, and glide over the page easily.  They can be blended with a wee sponge - wet or dry, or a wet paintbrush.  They are great for journaling and making colourful backgrounds.



I also love using watercolours - the ones I have here are Sakura and I use them with either an aqua brush, or the brushes shown.  The flat brushes give me a little more control as I tend to be quite messy with paints, but have got a bit neater with practice.






Cartridge paper or thick art paper is fine for watercolours unless a lot of water is involved.  Watercolour paper is more expensive, but a real treat to use and gives beautiful results when using watercolour paints.


My favourite watercolour pencils are the Stabilo shown above, but I'm not sure where they can be purchased now in New Zealand - however, the Faber Castell Watercolour pencils are readily available.

In the picture above I have gone over the dry watercolour paint with some sparkly gel pens.


This is a Sakura aqua brush or water brush.  They are lovely to use, and I highly recommend everyone trying one of them!!


Gel pens are fun and popular. These are cheap ones that don't work overly well.  I don't use them for art, but they are nice to use for quick notes to people.

I believe the top-of-the-line gel pens are Sakura Gelly Roll pens.  I have a few to show you:


This is the Sakura Star Dust pen - I like to use this pen to add sparkle over the top of felt pen or dry paint.




I also have Sakura Moonlight, Metallic and Glaze pens all of which are "icecream smooth"!!!


My newest purchase is the Wink Of Stella metallic brush pen.  A bit of fun, and helps me to get a bit neater at working with a brush!

I have saved my favourite coloured pencils till last:


Staedtler ErgoSoft pencils - lovely to hold, lovely to use.  A bit expensive for everyone to use, so they are just for me.



One sensible rule in purchasing art supplies is that you need to have a place for them to live so they are accessible and don't get damaged.

These plastic drawers are very, er .. plasticky, but do the job.



I would love to go on and on and on about art supplies, but time has run out!  I hope this blog post inspires someone to have a go with some nice equipment!



Sunday, 12 November 2017

I'm Cross - Muddy Parenting "Advice"

May I just say a few words, if you will bear with me, on "imbalance" in society/media which is evident in the behaviour of many children, and the lawlessness and disrespect from a great number of youth.





An example of something I see going on a lot is the rolling eyes and sighing that goes along with:
" ... and they told the children off for going UP the slide."

Check the attitude of the child who is going up the slide.
Is it a challenge and fun to go up the slide?  Are they extending themselves in a healthy way?  Providing much-needed sensory input?  Great!

or 

does the child have an attitude of "I own this, nobody else is allowed, it is constantly MY turn - SEE, I go down, and then I go UP straight away. Ha! MY TURN!"
Not so great.

If you're at someone else's property (a school/cafe/friend's place) do they perhaps have a reason for the "No going up the slide" rule?
Check the attitude, stay respectful.

Don't get caught up on the eye-rolling bandwagon, immediately judging anyone who wants their children (or visiting children) to only go down the slide.


Another one that is bugging me is the term "helicopter parent".
I've seen this used so often, thrown around, and used in the same way one might say "abusive parent", making diligent and considerate parents feel overbearing and overprotective. Once again, the balance is being pushed over and trampled on.
Check your reasons for, and the attitude towards protecting/checking on/prohibiting things. SERIOUSLY check them, and then stand strong if anyone questions or challenges you.

Also something that came up in my first point - "eye rolling" and speaking disrespectfully about other people/making fun of other people.
Always (as much as you can) model to your children what you wish them to be like.   And one would hope that eye-rolling is not a goal.
One last thing, the term "mindless obedience" has become mixed up with "obedience". Teach your child to be thoughtful and wise - that they will consider WHY they are doing things in EVERY situation - whether it be obedience or any other area. 



I have got a bit grumpy about these things of late - very, very weary of reading constant unbalanced opinions stated as fact, and potentially confusing and bullying new parents.


Parents are responsible for the safety of their child. They are responsible for the balanced, respectful, careful, rich, loving, mindful raising of their child.

Children NEED parents to be responsible and solid,  to lead them to independence gradually, but not give them too much decision-making and responsibility too soon - or in moments of exhaustion, confusion, when they are overwhelmed or screaming out for direction!

So, as I have mentioned before - figure out what works for YOUR family, what you want your future to look like for yourself and your children. Treasure healthy relationships, forgive yourself for being a human if things come undone, and determine to do better in any way you can.

If that means reading less, distancing yourself from media, blogs, articles etc, then do so.   

Things are getting really muddy out there. 

Monday, 6 November 2017

Mud Kitchens

A few years back we built the children a mud kitchen.  It got A LOT of use!  It never looked like "the ones on Pinterest" because we used it and made big messes.






I was reminded of this today because I came across this family in the Isle of Wight who make the most beautiful mud kitchens.





 Does that inspire you to make something in a suitable corner of the garden/deck/patio for your children?

Let me know if you do build something fun!