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Catch Up 12/08/2010

Posted by snoozerider in days out, home education, kids craft, painting.
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Is it really that long since I posted?  Yikes.  Time flies when you’re having fun.

So what have boys been up to?

We’ve visited several local art exhibitions, including my favourite, a textile art exhibition at Blickling Hall.  No photos of the exhibition but here’s the boys enjoying the grounds:

boys in tyre at blickling

windswept boys at blickling

We've done some more expressionist style paintings. These are expressing an "angry" feeling using unusual colour combos:

IMG_5602

IMG_5605

We've been on a visit to the Imperial War Museum at Duxford. The boys are lucky enough to have a grandfather who worked as an aircraft engineer at Duxford in the early sixties, so he was able to give them lots of insider knowledge on the planes.

duxford (3)
duxford (2)
duxford (5)
duxford (7)
duxford (9)

Another highlight of the last few weeks has been the first session of Forest School (there are five more 2-hour sessions to go). Here the boys will be learning about such exciting things as using tools, making a campfire, identifying plants in the wood etc. The first session was promising, hopefully I will be able to post some pics in an ensuing entry.

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Art, Rust and Picture Perfect Boyhoods 17/07/2010

Posted by snoozerider in art, craft, home education, painting.
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It’s been a while since I’ve posted on here, but not because we haven’t been busy…

We’ve done some more abstract art, using watercolours and marker pens:

This was with the help of the great book “Painting Abstracts:  Ideas, Projects and Techniques“.  It’s not a children’s book by any means but a lot of the projects are accessible or adaptable for kids and the great thing is they aren’t too prescriptive so allow the kids to go off at their own tangent.

We’ve done some more experiments relating to Gman’s rock project.  The most recent of these goes against all my instincts and turns something that is perfectly edible (grapefruit) into something most inedible (a fake geode)!!  This project was taken from a fab little book we have out of the library and involves layering Plaster of Paris mix into the emptied grapefruit shell, then sprinkling in alum crystals and topping up each day with some alum mixture.  We put a little red and blue food colouring in the mix to make it purple and sparkly!  And yes, it is a messy process 🙂

Waif particularly enjoyed doing some rust dyeing this week.  Again we took this project from a book aimed at adults: Fabric Art Workshop but which has a few projects that would be good to do with kids, as long as you take care and use rubber gloves etc.  To make this fabric, first of all we laid our unbleached cotton in a metal tray, then dampened it with a mixture of vinegar and water.  Next we ferreted around in the shed for some metal artefacts, some already rusty, some not eg washers, steel wool, weights, nails etc and arranged these on top of the fabric before spraying again with the vinegar and water mixture.  We placed the tray inside a black bin bag, tied it closed, weighed it down and left for 24+ hours.

This is what it looked like when we took it out of the bag:

Waif donned some rubber gloves and carefully removed the rusty things (we put them aside in an old ice cream tub for “next time”) then we soaked the cloth in a mixture of salt and hot water to set the dye.  The cloth is beautiful, partly because you can see in it what you like eg a treasure map, a wolf, the moon, monsters, an explosion in space…what can you see?

As well as the art and rocks, we have also been enjoying some old fashioned stories together.  Following a recommendation on Julie’s Homeschooling-ideas blog, we got hold of the book “A Picture Perfect Childhood“.  I found this a really inspiring book, convincing me that reading picture books to the boys (including 10 year old Gman) would be beneficial for all of us.  We’ve been slotting in a story after lunch each day, starting with the beautiful picture book, “The Barefoot Book of Earth Tales” and both the boys and myself have been really enjoying it.  It’s a lovely, quiet, cuddly time together and the stories themselves are raising plenty of issues to talk about.  Hopefully it will help balance out some of the over-boisterous boyish behavior that has been landing them in trouble this week, and help them get in touch with a gentler side…

Edible Science Experiments are the Best 03/07/2010

Posted by snoozerider in art, home education, kids craft, painting, thrift.
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Gman has started on his latest project – Rocks and Minerals.  This has given us a great opportunity to make some toffee and honeycomb…oops, I mean igneous rocks :-).  Here’s how to do it:

First, put a greased baking tray in the freezer for an hour or two.

Place about 500g sugar and a few splashes of water into a saucepan.  Heat until melted and golden brown.  You need to stir fairly constantly to make sure it doesn’t burn and stick to the bottom of the pan.

Use oven gloves to take the baking tray out of the freezer.

To make a glass like substance, simply tip the mixture straight onto your baking tray.  It will set almost instantly, but certainly be ready to hack away and eat (er, study) after 10 minutes.

If you want to make a pumice like rock, then add a teaspoon or so of bicarbonate of soda to your mixture before you pour it onto the tray.

The honeycomb (oops, I mean pumice) is particularly good with ice cream ;-P.

As well as the rocks project, the boys have also been enjoying recreating more artistic masterpieces, including this Pollack-inspired masterpiece:

Waif got up one morning deciding that today he would “do” Van Gogh, and produced several small pictures, carefully copied from a little book of Van Gogh pictures that we picked up at the Fitzwilliam Museum.  We put them all together and made a display poster:

Aren’t they fab?

Those that saw this earlier post will know that we like to home educate as thriftily as possible, so we were quite excited to find that a local primary school which was closing and moving premises was holding a book sale.  For £2 we got a stack of educational books, including a massive poetry book just in time for next week’s poetry themed home ed group.  Yay!

Art in the Garden 24/05/2010

Posted by snoozerider in cycling, days out, home education, nature, painting.
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Yesterday I took the boys to a marvellous art exhibition called “Art in the Garden” which was held in a beautiful garden in the nearby village of Fincham.  Here’s a selection of some of the installations/sculptures:

Of particular relevance to us (as a family opposing local plans to build a waste incinerator) was this installation:

Everything is made of plastic that cannot currently be recycled in Norfolk ie will sit for hundreds of years in landfill.  A beautiful, colourful piece of art but a sobering lesson.  Here’s the text that the artist had posted alongside it, hopefully it will be readable:

After looking around the garden, the boys also used pencils provided to make their own pictures, which will be laminated and displayed in the artist’s studio.  Here’s Gman with his “volcanic ash cloud” picture:

Last week we had a few days break at Center Parcs.  One of the advantages of being a home educating family is being able to visit attractions during the less busy term time :-).  The boys loved being able to ride their bikes all around without any traffic, as well as playing in the wilder parts of the woods.  They also swam, played crazy golf, went bowling and had a go at painting some pottery:

All in all, a lovely week!

We have also had yet another visit to Dersingham Bog Nature Reserve – still our favourite place for a walk – and the boys practiced their balancing skills and cheesy grins:

Painting and Sewing and Stuff 25/03/2010

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We have been continuing with our Impressionism’ theme and Gman has nearly finished putting his first lapbook together on the subject (pictures will follow!).  In the meantime we have visited the excellent Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge to check out their Impressionist collection (and were also wowed by the Ancient Egyptian stuff there) and painted some more in the style of famous painters.

Firstly, the boys did these paintings, inspired by Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”:

Gman's painting inspired by Van Gogh's "Starry Night"

Gman's painting inspired by Van Gogh's "Starry Night"

Waif's interpretation of Van Gogh's "Starry Night"

Then, we had a go at using some unexpected colours for everyday landscapes, in the style of Paul Gauguin.  Waif chose to paint orange grass, purple trees, a green and blue sun and a red sky.  He loved choosing different wacky colours for his:

Waif's wacky colours

Gman was a bit more hesitant about the whole colour thing and initially referred to a colour wheel so he could select the “right” wrong colour (!) but he soon got into it.  He chose to paint from a sketch he had made on the train to Cambridge of things he could see out of the window.  He has blue and yellow grass, orange gravestones, purple barns and a green sky with blue clouds, with a purple window frame round the outside:

Gman's crazy colours

Gman has also been turning his hand to sewing some napkins this week.  He has made two reversible napkins using the sewing machine and is very proud of them.  He has even put pictures on his own blog:  here and here.

Gman shows off his new napkin

New Best Place Ever and More Impressionist Art 12/03/2010

Posted by snoozerider in home education, kids craft, nature, painting.
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We have had a busy few weeks of living and learning (can you have one without the other?).  On a lovely sunny morning last week we went exploring at a local nature reserve we had never been to before – Dersingham Bog Nature Reserve.  Here you can see the old Wolverton Cliff (now 2km from the sea but 6,000 years ago at the sea’s edge) and explore the bog using the boardwalk.  There was, of course, plenty of mud 🙂  Gman officially declared this the “Best Place Ever” so I am sure we will be returning for more adventures soon.

We have also been continuing on our Impressionist theme.  Gman is putting a lapbook together on the Impressionist artists, while Waif is happy just to join in with the painting.

The boys have:

Painted trees in the style of Monet:

Waif's tree painting

Gman's tree painting

Created cityscapes in the style of Pissarro.  Firstly using sponge painting, secondly using oil pastels and water colours:

Gman concentrates on cityscape

Waif adds to cityscape

Finished sponge printed cityscape

Gman works on his wax resist cityscape

Waif creating cityscape with oil pastels

Gman's finished watercolour resist cityscape

Waif's watercolour city

Tried out pointillism in the style of Seurat:

Waif tries out pointillist technique

Gman gets pointy

Waif's pointillist island

Gman's pointillist beach scene

When they haven’t been painting, the boys have been enjoying various computer based activities.  Gman has been playing BoulderDash, a game resurrected from Daddy’s game playing youth.  Waif has been feverishly working his way through the Alphablocks game on the CBeebies site, and then translating this into words to make from his wooden alphabet bricks.  I was a bit surprised when he asked for help making the words “x-ray”, “exit” and “hospital” and was relieved that the following day, the most important words of the day had become “brown”, “flake” and “aero” 😉

Muddy Impressions 28/02/2010

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This week we have mostly been playing in the muddy woods and painting in an Impressionist style.

Ancient Egypt Project 09/12/2009

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The last month or two, we have been “doing” Ancient Egypt.  We have:

  • made a potato mummy – we cut a vaguely human shape out of a slice of potato, covered it with a mixture of bicarbonate of soda and salt and left for two weeks in a sealed container.  The potato shrinks and blackens and goes a bit yucky.  You can then wrap it in bandages and voila you have your mummy.  If you were really brave you might try this with a chicken :-).  My recommendation would be to use a pretty big potato cos it is surprising how much it shrinks!

    Potato Mummy - Before

    Potato Mummy - After

  • made reed boats from bendy straws

  • made and played a game of Senet, making a board from rigid cardboard and counters out of air drying clay

  • learned how the Egyptians prepared bodies for mummifcation by playing this game on the BBC History site
  • played lots of games of Tutan Loot ‘Em (a fabulous board game made by Orchard Toys)
  • made Pharoah’s crowns

  • coloured in lots of Egyptian pictures
  • painted a life sized (well, Waif sized!) Ancient Egyptian man

Birthday artwork 08/10/2009

Posted by snoozerider in birthday, home education, kids craft, painting, printing, pumpkin.
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This week saw the arrival of Daddy’s 40th birthday, so this formed the centre of our artwork. The boys were very taken with this modern art project over at the frugal family fun blog and wanted to do something similar for their birthday cards. Gman used a bottle top to print his circles, though he wanted his in a slightly more uniform pattern as can be seen below. (Gman’s is the one on the right)


Waif used our trusty star shaped cookie cutter, which has been invaluable in more than one art project in the past. They printed onto white card and then left this to dry before colouring the shapes with different coloured paints, creating areas where the colours mixed (very educational!)


These were then used for birthday cards, and they looked lovely and colourful. Waif went on to add some glitter to his, which kind of spoiled it a bit for me but he is a bit of a glitter fiend 🙂

Inspired by their creativity, I decided to have a go at making a birthday card too. Before starting out on home-educating, I would never have considered myself an arty crafty type, so this is all quite new and exciting still. Here’s the card I made, with a seasonally inspired felt pumpkin on the front:

Autumn Trees 01/10/2009

Posted by snoozerider in autumn, home education, kids craft, painting, trees.
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The boys have been making these lovely tree paintings:


First of all I painted Waif’s arm with brown paint and he pressed this onto the page to make the tree trunk and branches. At this point Gman declared “yuk! yuk! yuk!” and refused to have his done (he has some sensory issues related to ASD so wasn’t too surprised at this!) Luckily Waif was more than prepared to do more tree trunks – making two trees for his painting. When these had dried, they used fingers to print the different coloured leaves on (Gman was ok with this bit!). Gman painted his grass with a brush and Waif used a piece of cardboard. When they had dried we mounted them on the different coloured card.

Don’t they look fabulous?

The idea originally came from the Kaboose website here. There are loads of great ideas there, it’s well worth a look.

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