Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Crafting With Glue; Learning With Dirt

I'm becoming that homeschooling mom. Or, wait. Maybe I already am that homeschooling mom! Grady commented the other day, "There sure is a lot of crafty stuff all over the kitchen counters. And why are there boxes of dirt on the windowsill? I think whatever you're doing brought ants into the house." I smiled with happy pride and said, "Just wait for another week. Assembling a worm farm is top of our list for science class!" 

I never would have thought my kitchen would function as art studio and science lab, while cookies bake in the background and dinner simmers in the crock pot. Aahhh. It's all in a days work and, for now, I'm enjoying it.

Ever painted with a fork? No seriously, have you? Try it - it's actually kinda fun. And, when the paint dries you're left with an unusual streaking blend of colors. 

After having heard me say a hundred and one million times, "Use your fork only for eating and not playing" at the dinner table, my boys were dumbfounded when I told them to get busy and start playing with a fork at the table!
For about an hour my boys used fingers and forks to mix paint and see what new colors they could concoct. The smeared and dabbed and scraped colors all over paper. My suggestion to them was to keep it bright and fresh, like Spring, and not get excited about mixing orange and yellow because Micah was elated to discover he could "make the color of dirt!"
When the paint-soaked papers dried, the boys cut circles, glued eyes, legs, and antennae, and ta-da: caterpillars! It goes without saying that any meaningful art project with my boys needs to involve something with bugs or animals.
In addition to seeing lots of new caterpillars crawling around our house, we've also noticed two new bird nests in nearby trees. I saw a bird nest craft idea in post from a friend of a friend of a friend and decided to give it a whirl.

Supplies: equal parts glue and water, shredded paper bags, plastic wrap, bowls, and an eager child or two to get sloppy and put it all together.
Micah started out excited but decided the mess wasn't worth it and opted for a popsicle while Grady Lee stayed focused. Grady Lee has always been and will probably always be my bring-the-task-to-completion kind of kid.

He dipped paper shreds into the glue mixture and then placed them on a bowl covered in plastic wrap. Actually, placed sounds much too nice for what was really happening. It was more like plopping and slopping clumps of gluey wet paper to the side of the bowl. But you get the idea.
I let the bowls sit on the counter to dry for almost two days. Then, Grady Lee gently peeled the plastic wrap off the back of the glued paper and ta-da: a paper mache bird nest!
Yes, those nests really are sitting on a doily. Yes, I really do have a doily or two in my home. And yes, great-grandma must be proud to know they are still white and crisp... and used for paper mache decorations.
With a lot of our school focus on springtime, I couldn't pass up the chance to learn about seeds, sprouts, plant parts, and while we were talking about it all, photosynthesis. 

An on-the-ball mom would have neatly laid all the supplies on the counter and taken a picture so you could follow some step-by-step visuals before assembling this teeny-tiny terrarium. But, I'm not an on-the-ball kind of mom so this is what you get: two boys munching on cookies while being forced to hold their terrarium, look at the camera, and smile.
In short, I used the following things: clear CD case, potting soil, bean seeds, and masking tape. The boys did all the assembling and I did all the taping. I added a few drops of water, set the project on the windowsill, and told the boys we'd check back everyday to see if anything new was happening.
Boy oh boy. Beans grow pretty darn fast! The CD case on the left is a new one we put together just today. The CD case on the right is the one we put together five days ago. Five measly days ago and we have a jungle of roots and sprouts sprawling every direction.
The really funny thing to me is that we planted beans from the bean jar we use for math work. Those bean seeds have been handled, spilled, and hate to say it, licked, a hundred times and yet they were still quick to sprout.
Today, as we talked about the various parts of plants, what each part does, and why plants are important to us, I had the boys draw and label the parts of the sprouts in this terrarium. If you were to ask one of my boys right now why plants are important, they would both yell out, "They help us breathe!" They were fixated on the whole photosynthesis process and Grady Lee even commented, "God is pretty amazing to think to make leaves that help people get clean air, huh Mom?" I love when science lessons are built on the Bible first.

1 comment:

  1. Oh.my.goodness! So much crafty & sciency goodness in one post! I love all of the activities you have done with your kids, totally awesome! Those bean sprouts are fantastic! I agree with Grady Lee, God is truly amazing to have designed everything down to the tiniest details.A-mazing!! Those caterpillars are awfully cute, too & you got some great pics of the paint mixing. I have to agree with you, I still can't understand why kids like to mix & mix & mix paint colors until it all ends up as Micah observed, the color of dirt! Super cute birds nests, too!!