Monday, April 30, 2012

Another chapter in an ongoing adventure...

One mom had an idea to begin her very own Destination Imagination Team.  She asked, and we accepted the invitation.  That was pretty much the end of peace and tranquility in my life and the beginning of what has become an amazing adventure. Another chapter to the story was added this weekend.
21 people, little and big, must be registered as team members or spectators on Lilah’s Global Finals team registration.  The team fee includes access to a dorm room, which will be our command center.  We could get more dorm rooms, but the parents would not be able to accompany the children, only the team manager and a co-manager.  This would not work for many of our children who do not do sleepovers.  Therefore, our team needed to make arrangements at a hotel.  The team member also gets a meal plan and unlimited drinks/snacks.  However, our team consists of children who are gluten free, sugar free and vegan.  College cafeteria eating is not going be easy for our team, which means the meal plan will be great for water and healthy snacks but outside meals must be purchased.  We split up who is bringing the blender, the juicer and the coffee maker.  We will be visiting many markets and juicing/blending in our hotel rooms!
The bottom line is that our entry fee is $5200 (with family members) NOT including the cost of a 5 day hotel stay and meals.  Much of this fee was raised through the generous donations made on our website.  Thank you to all who contributed.  We came up with a plan to raise the remainder through a silent auction held at Fairfield’s Earth Day Celebration.  The children spent three days visiting shops    asking for support.  Restaurants donated gift certificates. Jewelers donated necklaces and bracelets. Authors donated signed books and hand made Ball jar sippy cups.  Crafters donated hats and garden decorations.  Sharkwater donated two copies of the documentary we showed at the screening.  Earthplace, who hosted our screening, donated a free one year family membership.  Chills.  It all just gave me chills.

Then there are our children.  Our amazing children.  They set up the tables. They packed all the gear for their two scheduled performances (first time with an audience). They connected with the people.  Really connected.  They shared what they were doing and why.  They explained why their project mattered.  They spoke eloquently and passionately about not only DI but also about their team, their trip to Tennessee and the animals they are advocating for....

....and people bought.  They donated.  They wished the team luck.  They clapped and cheered....

...and the children smiled.  And laughed.  And played.  And enjoyed yet another chapter in the their DI adventure.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Product Research

Over the past two years the girls have kept a poetry anthology.  In the binder are copies of poems they enjoy copied in their best print or cursive and illustrated with the medium of their choice.  Now that they are older, we are questioning if it a binder is the best place to display their work.  Now that we have discovered the joy of art journaling, it seems like an art journal is the best place to display their favorite poems...
I needed some product research assistants.  I wanted to test out new watercolor paints before my coop class this week.  I asked if the girls and their friend who was with us for the day if they would be willing to test the paints while working on a page for their anthology. 
Each child produced a very unique effect with the same paint.  I am very curious to see how the children in my classes, who range in age from 7 to 11, use these paints....

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


When I was downloading pictures from my phone I found these.  Grace or Lilah?  I have no idea.  What I do know is that this game has become a huge part of my girls lives.  They are constructing entire villages and their focus is on beauty.  They are creating a world for their avatar to live in that is not only functional, but beautiful.  I love that. 

I want my girls to understand that what they can do in a virtual world, they can do in the very real and present one in which they live and breathe.  Perhaps Grace can not have the balcony that she longs for and Lilah can not have her own  attached bath...but they can celebrate the beauty in what they do have.  They can plant a garden, tend the soil and grow fruits and vegetables.  They can walk down pathways and admire the stone bridges and graceful archways of a park that is nearly 100 years old.  They can build a fort, a treehouse or construct a playhouse from a cardboard box. The beach is just a few miles from our backdoor.  The beauty that surrounds us should be admired, respected, and revered.  
While I like Minecraft and see the value in it, I must remind my girls of the value in being present in this world.  This world may have its challenges and its problems to be solved, but at least we are not being chased in the dark by zombies!

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Big Dig Part 2: Artifact Day!

Building on our experience at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the children met Thursday for artifact day.  During our visit to the museum, each child picked their favorite artifact from any time period of Greece’s history, from the Neolithic to Roman eras.  They had the opportunity to recreate that artifact using a variety of art materials.  Lilah made a terracotta doe from the Boeotian region of Greece.  Grace used air dry clay to make a version of a sphinx.  
Our day began with examining a Montessori timeline.  For each picture on the timeline there is a corresponding fact card.  If you are interested in an item and wish to learn more, the fact card will provide information regarding what the item or event is and when it took place.

The children set out to create their own 18 foot timeline of ancient Greece.  For every artifact the children choose, they printed two copies.  One was glued onto the timeline in the appropriate era.  The children researched the artifact, typed and printed the information to fit on the back of their picture and glued the pages together to make a fact card. 

       While some children were creating artifacts, others were working on the timeline. Me and another Mom manned the printer/scanner and assisted the children with their research.  

At the end of the day 40 cards were made and 40 artifacts/people were placed on the timeline.  

 Ilove seeing my children learn this way.  Having a project as a central focus gives them a shared experience with their friends.  Ancient Greece is interesting to my girls since they explored it last year.  This project builds on their prior knowledge and expands their understanding.  Watching my girls research, use technology, create a timeline, manipulate clay into an artifact all the while laughing and working together with their friends brings me joy.  I end my day with the satisfaction that their education was enhanced by a dynamic experience led by a fantastic teacher (and friend) while surrounded by some of their closest friends.   
It was a very good day.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Spring is like a box of crayons....

...come alive!

This is my favorite quote of the week by 9 year old Gwen. 

This was a writing group week.  It was simply wonderful to have a new addition to our group.  I hope he enjoyed himself and comes back again! 

We worked on a page that came from Karen’s Pinterest Page.  I thought the Kandinsky-inspired tree would make a good writing prompt. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Saturday Fun Day!

The Crazed Carrots spent Saturday together, Saturday Fun Day, as we call it.  The team is preparing for the Earth Day Fair on the 28th.  We have several pretty awesome donations from local businesses for a silent auction.  In order to make the table more personable, the children wanted to craft some items to sell.

The felted some soap.  These soaps will be put together in a lovely basket.  I adore the soaps that my girls made for our family.  One bar last well over a month and every time you wash your hands you get to hold a piece of art that was created from the imagination and efforts of your child.  It beats regular old bar soap every day.

The team then headed to downtown Fairfield for some additional fund raising.  Standing in the background, listening to the children describe their project and why they are seeking donations gave me not only a feeling of pride but of awe.  I could never have done this at their age.  Never.  They presented a well planned proposal to each business.  One shopkeeper commented that after their presentation, how could anyone refuse?  She gave the team a canvas bag to auction off.  In a karate studio their team was so effective, parents whose children were attending a class reached into their pockets and donated cash to help this team!  

When you look around and feel that the world can be a dismal place, it certainly helps to have a project that brings out the best in people.  

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Art Journaling at Co-Op

I am finding great joy in facilitating art journaling at our coop this session.  I teach two sessions, one for ages 8-9 year old and another for 10+.  Just like my workshop that meets periodically at my house, this class has the same sense of peace and tranquility minus the comfy chairs and steaming mugs of tea....

Today we learned about Georgia O’Keefe, one of my favorite artists.  We watched a Brain Pop biography of her life and looked through one of my large coffee table books filled with her artwork.  Our focus today was looking through the magnifying glass.  Draw one thing, one flower, using as much space on the page as possible.  Then add your words to the page.

While they drew I asked them to reflect on their thoughts.  Creating art is very personal and often we are reminded of the little things that get pushed to the back of our brains in the hustle bustle of our busy days.  As always, I gave the children “Invitations to Write” or prompts to help spark a desire to write if they are experiencing a block.  Each child found their own voice and did not need an invitation to put their thoughts on the paper.
Grace wrote about her favorite magnolia tree and the time she collected its petals for me for mother’s day.
Another child wrote about how interesting sunflowers are.
A third wrote about how lilies remind her of her cousin.

These children are connecting art with their inner thoughts.  It is a liberating way to write.  No pressure, no judgement, no editing.  Just writing for the love of the written word.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Today ~ Guest Post by a Crazed Carrot!


We are leaving in less than an hour! 
We are on a website!  
The Earth Day website!  
How Exciting!!!!  
And my Mom said she's proud of us!  
And she is my Mom which feels great!  
And we are going to a DI party today!  
The whole team is going to be there but Grace  :) :(   
I can't wait!!  This is going to be fun!  
And I'm going to Chuck's house today!  
This is about the best day of the week!!  
I wish we could car-pool with Cormac!  
But we can't because he will probably have to leave early.  
This is awesome!!  
Less than an hour before I have to leave!  
Wow this is amazing. 
 If you hold the pencil the right way, it looks like a really cool sun!  
Try it!!  :)  It's fantastical! :)  :)  :) :) :)
That's not a real word but I don't care. 


Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Big Dig: Part 1

Tuesday found us aboard a 7:50am train bound for New York City.  Destination: the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Purpose: a 4 hour class led by an archaeologist and historian.  Content: Ancient Greece.  
My first thought was four hours is a very long time to spend with children ranging in age from 7 to 12 in just six rooms of an enormous museum.  How would the children attend to the lesson for that length of time?  Would they enjoy it?  My initial thoughts and fears were for naught.  This was the best museum trip of my life.  This was more than a guided tour.  This was a lesson in history, geography, geo-politics, economics, mythology, literature, and career planning.

Let me back up a bit.  Grace and Lilah are participating in a very unique program called The Big Dig.  They will learn to be archaeologists from a professional archaeologist and historian.  A back yard will be transformed into the site, and the children will be taught how to conduct a dig; record their findings, fact check, date artifacts, and put together a story that matches the data found at the site.  This will take place the first week of May.
To prepare for this, we had a field trip to The Met since the focus of the dig will be on ancient Greek artifacts and this museum has pieces spanning from 400 BC to the 3rd and 4th century AD.   My girls have studied ancient Greece in Story of the World,which gave them a basic understanding of the history and an understanding of the geography of the region.  We also read an abridged version of the Odyssey and learned about Greek mythology as we cross referenced Percy Jackson.  Our guide and facilitator Geoff commented that one could study Greece for a lifetime and still not know everything there is to know about this fascinating culture and land.

We began with a 10 minute exploration of all six rooms beginning in the most recent room and ending with the room containing artifacts dating back to before the time when Christ walked the earth.  Our assignment was to explore, find what was interesting to us and notice any differences between the rooms.

We gathered at a map of the region, a map we may have walked by and never noticed.  He explained the geography of the region, which islands contained minerals like marble and obsidian.  Natural resources led the island’s inhabitants to travel among the islands trading resources.  Eventually other cultures like the Persians waged war with the Greeks and land was always worth defending.  After our geography lesson we were sent into a certain room to find 10 different types of rocks on display.

We learned about the Trojan War and the futility of it. We compared and contrasted the Trojan War with the Persian War.  Putting it in a modern context, we discussed when a war is worth fighting, such as World War II and when it is not, such as Vietnam.  Freedoms are worth fighting for.  

During our lessons we attracted curious onlookers.  A very nice couple visiting New York from Greece tagged along with our group.  The wife was brought to tears by Geoff’s retelling of The Trojan War.  He had that effect on us.  His story telling was superb.   Grace said, “Mom, you can tell he loves what he does.  You can tell in the way he tells his stories.  When I grow up I want to talk to people about weather the way he talks to us about Greece.”

Geoff spoke to the children about finding their calling in life.  Their life work should be something that they love AND something that they are good at.  If they are good at something, try to merge it with something they love.  If they love something, become very good at it.  Grace shared that she has already found this and he told her she is very fortunate indeed.

Four hours passed by too quickly.  Our day closed with a quick visit to the Roman Room and an explanation of how the Roman culture did not value art quite the same way the Greeks did.  Many Greeks were hired by Romans to produce replicas of their pieces of art but the Romans did not invest their heart and soul in the process of creating art.  Eventually the Roman empire fell.  Our country is facing some tough issues today, from limited natural resources, political battles to be fought both domestically and abroad, and environmental issues that must be remedied.  Geoff urged the children to understand history, learn from it, incorporate it into their lives so that they may grow into adults who can help formulate the solutions to these problems, because like many great civilizations before us, we too are at a crossroads.
Four hours was simply not long enough.  

Don't You Just Stay Home All Day?

It’s funny because last night at youth group some of the kids friends were discussing homeschooling and really truly felt that we stay home...