Monday, October 24, 2011

Make Month - 19, 20, 21, 22, 23

In the last five days I wrote a poem (to personal to share), made lanterns, Made two flower arrangements, and drew a Fall picture that was inspired by picking the last flowers in my garden this week.  So I'm short one project over the last 5 days but still I'm feeling very good about thinking about being creative everyday for 23 days!  I've only not produced something on two days so far.  On those days, I'm sure I cooked dinner that should count for something, right??  Here's what I made Oct 19-Oct 23

Tissue paper lanterns

The last flowers of the season.

A drawing I did on my black board.
My lanterns with the candles lit.  I love how they glow.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Make Month - Day 18

I feel funky and happy!!  Here's my creation of the day - made from paper towels and tie dye leftovers.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Generalist vs. Specialist

Is it better to be a well rounded generalist or a motivated, happy specialist?  Why do we insist on trying to make children generalist instead of embracing their love of learning about that one topic in which they want to be a specialist? The one topic that makes them light up and motivates them is the one thing we don’t encourage.

In my work at the library, I often see parents who want their kids to read books about topics their children don’t want to read about.  In the interest of privacy, I have created a fictional person to illustrate what I experience.  A woman brings in her second grader who is not a strong reader but he loves books about fishing.   He has read several books about fishing already and still wants more but his parent feels like he should read something else.   She wants him to read about history or dragons or time traveling kids, anything but the one thing that is motivating him to read.  She is worried that he won’t be “well rounded” enough; that focusing on one thing is bad so she strongly encourages him to read something besides fishing books.

I understand wanting to expose children to as many different things as possible and highly support it but that can be done without negating a child’s intense interest in a particular topic.  Read aloud to them, have books and magazines about many different things around the house, take your child lots of places, watch documentaries, meet interesting people in different fields of work but don’t suggest to a child that they should stop investing so much time in the thing they love.

Doesn’t it make more sense to let him read everything he can get his hands on that’s related to fishing.  It will improve his reading ability and his feelings about reading.  Perhaps through reading about fishing, he will also learn about other things like river ecology, biology and who knows what else.   If he grows up to be an ecologist, will it really matter if he read “Little House on the Prairie” or “Charlotte’s Web” when he was 9 years old?   When you go to the doctor, do you want someone who is fanatical about medicine or do you want a doctor who is pretty good at medicine but also knows how to cook, do geometry, spell obscure words and tap dance?   I will pick the specialist every time.  I think aiming to make kids be generalists is basically the same as educating for mediocrity.  It also makes learning not fun.   If kids loved what they were learning about, they might just learn more not less.  If a child is interested in what he is studying, he will remember it, may be led to learn about other things and will have the benefit of also being a happy person.  Isn’t that what we really want for our kids is happiness?  Happiness is doing what you love, being really good at it and being valued for that skill and knowledge. 

If a kid is crazy about something, then help him/her get his hands on as much info about that topic as possible.  You will be surprised how far a motivated, happy person can go!

Make Month - Day 15, 16, 17

Day 15 - I wrote the blog post titled "Generalist vs. Specialist"

Day 16 - I took these photo graphs of my daughter's balloon trip and created an album.

 Day 17 - I made this delicious banana blueberry bread which I will have to give to someone else or risk eating it all myself!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Make Month - Day 11, 12, 13 , 14

Day 11 - FAIL   I didn't make anything today so on Day 12 I made two Artist Trading Cards
 On Day 13, I made this sign from a post I saw on my friend Tina's Facebook page.  I really liked it so I wrote it out with water color pencils then added water to bring out the color.  It is  hanging on my refrigerator to remind me to live my life with purpose.
I was just about to turn in tonight when I realized I still needed to make something so I made this ponytail holder by knitting this beautiful wool yarn.  I think it looks pretty cool.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Make Month - Day 10

Today I made signs to protest corporate greed and government corruption.

A Day in the Life of a Teen Unschooler

Today Tessa worked on her Halloween costume until it was time for us to go to Loveland to meet Cristian at the Innovation Lab  (Be You House).  We arrived around 10:00am.  Cristian taught us about the rules of soccer, soccer terminology and then he took us outside to show us some soccer drills to practice.  We both learned a lot!  Then Tessa taught Cristian how to juggle.  We left some beanbags for him to practice with and then headed to Ft. Collins. 

In Ft Collins, we purchased a new soccer ball, had lunch and then went to the “Occupy Ft. Collins” demonstration at Maple and College.  We spent the afternoon with a group of people of all ages hoping to affect change.  It felt good to do something that might make a difference.  It felt good to participate, in a small way, in our democracy. 

At the rally, Tessa created her own sign and enjoyed hanging out with the people there.   Many people honked in support and only 2 or 3 people voiced their displeasure of our efforts, including one guy who gave us the finger.  The day was an overwhelmingly positive experience and I hope to participate more.

On our way home, we stopped at a fabric store where Tessa purchased material for a design project.  (She wants to decorate her backpack)   At home, I rested while Tessa went outside to pick tomatoes from her garden. Then she went up to her room to study Algebra.  Later she made a sauce from her tomatoes and served it over polenta for her dinner. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Make Month - Day 9

Finished a felted ball I have been working on.   Blue swirls on soft yellow wool.

Make Month - Day 8

Learning more about Surrealism for a class I'm going to teach so I made my own surrealist art with magazine clippings.

Make Month - Day 7

Pumpkin raisin muffins!!! Yummmm!

Make Month - Day 6

I made this right before bed.  It's a thank you card made from a watercolor painting.

American Government Class in the real world

Tomorrow, Tessa and I are learning about expressing our right to assemble and freedom of speech.  We will be joining "Occupy Ft. Collins" to protest corporate greed and the corruption of our government.  We will learn more from this experience than we ever could being confined in a classroom, reading from a textbook.

I don't know anyone else who will be there and I don't know what is going to happen. If feels exciting and scary  but I have to show my daughter that people care.  I want to give her hope that all adults don't think that what is happening is OK.  We all are responsible to make a difference no matter how small.

I will send an update on our experience soon.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Make Month - Day 5

My daughter likes to juggle so I made her some new bean bags.

Make Month - Day 4

OK, Tuesdays are very busy so I didn't get around to making anything until right before I went to bed.  I took an empty spice bottle and some acrylic paint and made this simple vase.

Make Month - Day 3

I find origami to be challenging, frustrating, fun, and satisfying but I rarely take the time to do it.  This seemed like a good time to try a new origami project.  Here is my origami cat book mark.  It took me two tries to get it right.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Make Month - Day 2

I made this little guy by needle felting wool.  It took about an hour to make him.

Education at your fingertips - Cool webites

This is a great time to Homeschool/Unschool.  More and more people are leaving public school and opting for other alternatives like on-line schools, charter schools, and homeschooling.  This increasing need for alternative ways to learn and the power of the internet has lead to a growing availability of educational websites offering free curriculum, educational videos and other instructional materials.   There are so many resources available, it’s overwhelming!  If you looking for somewhere to start, check out  a few of my favorites:  is a long list of homeschooling resources on all topics is maintained by the National Gallery.  This link is an amazing resource that connects art and curriculum by offering a database that can be searched by curriculum subjects, topics, or artists. is a history website that includes awesome timelines that illustrate how world events overlap and also includes a biography timeline depicting the lives of important people in history so students can see what great minds lived at the same time and then connect that information to what was happening in the world then. offers free software that teaches computer programming skills for kids. is a cooking website for kids.  The site includes many recipes and step by step videos on how to cook them.  has over 2400 educational videos and 180 practice exercises on topics from algebra to biology to history for kindergarteners to adults. lets students “connect with experts in the field, share ideas, and collaborate with people around the world” through global science projects. has free high school and college courses. has educational videos on every subject.  records your interests then presents you with websites that may be interesting to you.  This is a great way to expose your kids to lots of different subjects and ideas.  You can rate if you like and don’t like each site it gives you in order to fine tune your preferences.  I have discovered wonderful art, great music and interesting people through Stumble Upon.   This website is an interactive timeline of the history of the Metropolitan Opera.  It includes articles, archived images, and recordings of actual performances from long ago.  This is free game that you can download and play to learn about physics.  It has a very open ended format that encourages kids to be creative.   Kids can experiment with friction, motion, liquids, gravity and momentum.  is a fun way to let kids make their own music.  The child is presented with a grid of squares.  When you click on the square it plays a tone.  To turn off the tone just click it again.  You can make chords, rhythms and melodies that are easy to modify so it becomes a very playful learning experience.
If you are interested in how to homeschool for college, check out  “DIY U” by  Anna Kamenetz.   This book is bursting with educational resources and websites for independent learners of high school age and older.
Enjoy these cool websites and let me know which websites are your favorites.   Happy learning!!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Make Month - Day 1

Today was Day 1 of Make Month – my personal challenge to make at least one thing every day for a month.  Today I made a felted pumpkin, a bouquet of flowers, a birthday crown and a carrot cake from scratch. I forgot to take a picture of pumpkin before I wrapped it.