Although many of my comrades south of the 49th parallel have kids who are in school already, our clan doesn’t begin until after Labor Day. For those of you keeping track at home, that means TWO LONG WEEKS of the kids at home and no summer camp plans in sight. Having promised myself and my spouse that I will not begin to drink before 5:00pm, I have resolved to get out of the house, with the kids, and do creative things.
I am using Keri Smith’s How to be an Explorer of the World: Portable Life Museum as my inspiration. I bought this for myself a few weeks ago, because Smith’s suggestions for how to document your life, your environment, and your thoughts blew my mind. Reading through her explorations, I thought so many of them would be excellent practice for creative writing, for jump-starting my brain, for focussing my journaling efforts on something other than the dronedronedrone of memememememe inside my head. As a bonus, tons of her exploration suggestions are things you can do with kids. Bingo!
Today we started with a modification on Exploration #11: Differences. Collect multiples of one thing (such as leaves, stones, shells, seeds, etc.). Lay them out in front of you. Observe them in detail. Using the “object log,” list the differences you see. Try to document at least twenty-five things.(page 51)
The crew: Greta, Ingrid, neighborkid J, (neighborkid E and neighbormom A participated for a while), myself
The supplies: blank paper, triangular shaped crayons, glue, construction paper, some beads, some fancy scrapbooking paper
The locale: outside–from our back door to the end of the block
The method: Step 1. make rubbings of different patterns. Leaves under paper was a logical place to start and G kept that theme going–all natural, she said. We did tree bark, the open scar of a recently felled tree, flowers, even a dead bumblebee’s wing. The others also branched out and did water line covers, gate decorations, license plates on cars, asphalt, bricks.
Step 2. Assemble a book or collage with your rubbings. You may add objects with glue or tape to the book or collage.
Step 3. Describe what you’ve created. Is it the atlas of an ant world? Is it a magical kingdom with a unicorn’s house? (see neighborkid J’s pic below for the unicorn house!) Write a story about what you found, rubbed, and selected for presentation!
I’d give this project a solid B- for the kids. Collecting rubbings was great fun and the idea of gluing together a collage or book captivated their imaginations. However, things got rather bogged down in the gluing portion of the activity. GLUE! COLLAGE! MORE GLUE! TONS OF GLUE! You can imagine. Neighborkid J really focussed on creating a place and named it and decorated it and presto, she was done!
Greta kept everything small scale and decided that she had created a herbarium for Hogwarts.
Ingrid took the longest to get to a point where she was ready to narrate. The sorting and cutting and gluing and gluing and cutting and cutting really enthralled her and she would have happily remained on that task until the end of time. With the cutoff looming, though, (Dad is coming home in 30 minutes and the mess needs to be cleared up by then so we can have family time and make dinner!) the others jumped in to help her and she put together this:
She wrote about a talking snapdragon, in keeping with the herbal theme she’d started with.
My next task is to try this for myself. I will share where I take it with you all here.