Tuesday, March 31, 2009

new game around the house

My husband was in Germany last week, and he brought back with him loads of German chocolate (thank you, honey), and also an addictive game called Tantrix. Check it out.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Example of a teacher/poet who gets it


Teaching Poetry to 3rd Graders

by Gary Short
from his collection "10 Moons and 13 Horses"

At recess a boy ran to me
with a pink rubber ball and asked
if I would kick it to him. He handed me the ball,
then turned and ran
and ran and ran, not turning back
until he was far out in the field.
I wasn't sure I could kick the ball
that far. But I tried,
launching a perfect and lucky kick.
The ball sailed in a beautiful arc
about eight stories high,
landed within a few feet of the 3rd grader
and took a big bounce off the hard playground dirt.
Pleased, I turned to enter the school building.
And then (I don't know where they came from
so quickly) I heard a rumbling behind me
full tilt. They were carrying pink balls and yellow balls
of different sizes, black and white checkered
soccer balls. They wanted me to kick for them.
And now this is a ritual—this is how we spend recess.
They stand in line, hand me the ball and run.
The balls rise like planets
and the 3rd graders
circle dizzily beneath the falling sky,
their arms outstretched.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I search for deeper water

"I used to sit on the banks with a raft and watch the water roll lazily by. One day I pushed my raft into the shallows of the water and found the water moved swifter than I thought. My raft was actually a boat. Then, after some time, I rowed my little boat into deeper water. There were great storms, mighty winds, tremendous waves, and sometimes I felt so alone. But my little rowboat is now a mighty ship manned by my friends and loved ones; and beautiful calm seas, warm sunny days, and nights filled with comfortable dreams always double after a storm. Now, I could never go back and sit on the bank. In fact, I search for deeper water. Such is life when lived."

B. D. Gulledge (emphasis mine)

(Thank you to Alli .)

Stop action animation is the new black

Oh! This video. It bears many repeat viewings.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Into the woods

Oh, my, I found something new and I have fallen down an internet rabbit hole, going from one site to another to learn about it.

Have you heard of a Waldkindergarten?

If you are European, I'm sure you have, as they are well-established there, especially in Denmark, Germany, and Great Britain.

Here's the concept: the children and staff work and play outdoors. They never go indoors. There is no indoors at their preschool. Whatever the weather, they are part of it. There are no toys or art supplies in the traditional sense. They use what they find in nature to build, create, and learn. They climb. They hike. When the snow is deep, they dig and sculpt. Apparently they occasionally fall into the stream while they are playing, and they are fished out, and then they carry on. By the way, the stress levels, noise levels, and illness rates are reportedly dramatically lower.

This school in Scotland is literally outdoors, always. Some schools in Germany mix it up a little--outdoors all morning, then indoors for the afternoon. A school in Brussels where this amazing blogger teaches, is more or less indoors, but they go frolicking in the woods abutting their back door every chance they get. They have, I read, a secret playground in the woods. I would lose my mind as a child--as a parent--as a teacher--to find a secret playground on my jaunts through enchanted woods.

I'm reading about these preschools after my children spent weeks indoors at their elementary school. Ice? inside. Dusting of snow? inside. Under 32 F? inside. They may not pick up a stick on their playground. They may not rearrange the mulch. There are no trees.

Maybe we are missing something essential.

Maybe there is a golden mean?

Monday, March 23, 2009

recommended eating

I don't know...we are just emerging from our winter hibernation. Maybe you don't want a cookie recommendation?

Just in case you do...

May I suggest Chocolate Toffee Cookies from Louisa over at The Wednesday Chef. I left out the nuts, as that is what my children prefer. These cookies have so much chocolate in them that they satisfy the cookie urge and the chocolate urge simultaneously. Little marvels, they are.

Leslie over at a Friend to Knit with bakes a weekly cookie, usually something new every week. I love that idea. I get into my rut of oatmeal chocolate chip or brownies, occasionally some short bread. And a package of Fig Newmans if I don't get any baking done.

I'm also very inspired by Heather at Beauty that Moves, whose new teaching gig encouraged her to have a Sunday food prep day--baking and cooking in one marathon for the week. Very smart. I'm going to try it.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Little Dress on the Prairie

Finished today: a prairie dress for a little girl who loves all things Laura Ingalls. It turned out a bit more costume than dress, but I don't mind and the little girl in question certainly doesn't.

The embroidered buttons are my favorite part.

In the news this morning: a new study has shown that we can change our brains into our 40s, 50s, and 60s--much later than the rest of our bodies. I am glad to hear this, because I noticed afresh while sewing this dress how laughably poor my spacial reasoning abilities are. Took a few tries to sew in the bodice lining, and which way it would turn...well, apparently, the more I practice this, the better I'll get at it, even at 39. Isn't that good news?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Spring, seriously

The first day of spring was kind enough to feel like it in my area.

We have had some warm days, but today no longer felt like a taste of the future.

Real spring: sprung.

This little guy means business.

I hope spring arrived in your neighborhood, too.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

creative reading

"There is creative reading as well as creative writing."

Ralph Waldo Emerson

(This photo's an oldie, but a great favorite of mine.)

nurturing parenting in the limelight

I'm taking this quote to share with my class of teen parents today.

You may remember hearing it, but I thought I'd share this emphasis with you, too.

“For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies.

"It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break; the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours.

"It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.”

from President Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address, Jan 20, 2009 (italics added)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sign of Spring

On our hike Sunday, we yelled out "sign of spring!" when any of the four of us saw a white flower, a budding tree, or a determined green shoot. Such a relief to see them.

Here is another sign--what says spring more than a bright yellow Easter dress for a little girl? I've been meaning to make my little girl a dress since she was two--she's now six. I even bought patterns and fabric in the past, but this is the first dress to cross that boundary from plan to execution.

I won't be entering this into any county fairs, and let's all agree not to check whether the seams line up....perhaps a zipper, pleats, and a lined bodice weren't the best choices for a first dress. But all that said, I'm pleased with it.

And you should see Leah's reaction. She twirled and twirled, asked if she could wear it to school, asked if she could wear it to bed. What took me so long? Definitely a sign of spring.