P.L.A.Y. Project: Snowflakes + Cool Crystals #9


Welcome to my P.L.A.Y. project:

Snowflakes & Cool Crystals


First post in this series is <HERE>.


Here are two fabulous crystal close-ups from down at the river.

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Stay tuned for more Project Snowflake + Cool Crystal updates!


Curious Capkins love getting outdoors to P.L.A.Y. with you in all seasons and all weather!

Bundle up, step into the sunshine, and enjoy the adventure – you and your kiddos will be so glad you did!

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P.L.A.Y. Project: Snowflakes + Cool Crystals #3


Welcome to my P.L.A.Y. project:

Snowflakes & Cool Crystals


First post in this series is <HERE>.


I continue to P.L.A.Y. in nature whenever the “white stuff” appears out my window.

Visit  PINTEREST <here> to watch a magical moment as two snowflakes melt into one natural art piece as a beautiful black silhouette.

The snow “storms” that are sporadic and not too heavy seem to produce the best close-up snowflake snapshots. This is a wide view of how the meadow looks after this type of storm, covered in snowflakes, as the blue sky reappears.

Visit PINTEREST <here> to watch nature’s full effect including a little “snow spinner” with the wind whipping up in the meadow.

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Engaging with this project continues to feel P.L.A.Y.-filled , both a positive challenge and like a work in progress, so I will forge ahead with rereading the books below while looking for more details and also looking for outdoor opportunities to test out new techniques.

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Join me in this P.L.A.Y. project by reading Ken Libbrecht’s snowflake books:


Stay tuned for more Project Snowflake + Cool Crystal updates!


Curious Capkins love getting outdoors to P.L.A.Y. with you in all seasons and all weather!

Folks of all ages, throw on your snow gear and make tracks to your favorite nature spot and check out those snowflakes!

Ready? Let’s go!

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P.L.A.Y. Project: Snowflakes + Cool Crystals #2


Welcome to my new P.L.A.Y. project:

Snowflakes & Cool Crystals


First post in this series is <HERE>.


I continue to P.L.A.Y. whenever the “white stuff” appears out my window.

And I still find the up close photos to be a challenge. However, I am very much appreciating the shapes I am discovering even with the finer details missing.

I am also enjoying the unexpected benefit of getting some clearly defined silhouettes of the snowflakes once they melt into the black paper. Cool!

Still making my way towards “crystal clear” and wish this beauty below was a bit more focused!

Engaging with this project continues to feel P.L.A.Y.-filled , both a positive challenge and like a work in progress, so I will forge ahead with rereading the books while looking for more details and also looking for outdoor opportunities to test out new techniques.

This is how P.L.A.Y. looks for me and I look forward to sharing more with you!


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Join me by reading more enjoyable titles and then getting outdoors for P.L.A.Y. time!

Continue with these 3 great titles all from Kenneth Libbrecht who is a modern day snowflake and crystal expert!

Start here with this easy to read and great for the whole family introduction and up-close look at the art and science of snowflakes.

Then continue with this fun field guide that you can take outdoors or use when you come back in to identify types of snowflakes (while drinking your cup of cocoa!)

This volume goes into much greater depth and is a wonderful read with fabulous pictures IF you want to take it to the next level!

Stay tuned for more Project Snowflake + Cool Crystal updates!


Curious Capkins love getting outdoors to P.L.A.Y. with you in all seasons and all weather!

Throw on your snow suit, kiddos and folks of all ages, and make tracks to your favorite nature spot and check out those snowflakes!

Ready? Let’s go!

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P.L.A.Y. Project: Snowflakes + Cool Crystals #1


Welcome to my new P.L.A.Y. project:

Snowflakes & Cool Crystals


THANK YOU so much Snowflake Bentley!!!

My latest project was inspired by both the winter season and my favorite go to inspiration space aka the children’s section of the library filled with deliciously engaging picture, chapter, and resource books on every topic imaginable. Love it!!! ❤ ❤ ❤

I got started by reading a few of the titles mentioned in this post, gathering a few simple materials, and jumping in with both mittens!

A few fun tricky challenges so far have been to figure out which snow moments will produce the best crystal flakes. Typically it is the “fairy dust” moments that actually produce the most true to shape and spectacular flakes. The heavy snow storms tend to produce balls, slivers, or even slop all piled up.

Either way I am known to run out the door and onto the front porch at a moments notice to see if I can catch a few snapshots of the latest fluffy white fun falling from the sky.

It has also been an interesting challenge to photograph the snowflakes close-up with my simple phone camera. The photos in the books I mention below were taken with special lenses and microscopes.

I like seeing what I can come up with using what little equipment I have and seeing if over time things will become “crystal clear” with practice and fine tuning!


Join me in this seasonal fun by reading these enjoyable titles and getting outdoors for P.L.A.Y. time!

Begin with . . .

add in this geometric eye candy . . .

and continue engaging your curious mind with this!

Check back for more snowy book titles in my next post titled

Project: Snowflake + Cool Crystals #2 <HERE>!


Curious Capkins love getting outdoors to P.L.A.Y. with you in all seasons and all weather!

Throw on your snow suit, kiddos and folks of all ages, and make tracks to your favorite nature spot and check out those snowflakes!

Ready? Let’s go!

❤ ❤ ❤

BOOK LOOK – Review Summary – Free Range Learning: How Homeschooling Changes Everything by Laura Grace Weldon

Although we’ve never met I’d like to send big hugs, smiles, and so many, many thanks to Laura Grace Weldon for writing her book FREE RANGE LEARNING: How Homeschooling Changes Everything and for being a wonderful guide and mentor to folks on this P.L.A.Y.-filled journey.

And now that this Bonus BOOK LOOK review series is through I hope you and your family will keep coming back for many more daily P.L.A.Y. moments with me! Here’s how:

  1. P.L.A.Y. daily by making sure you’ve signed in your email address on the Home Page (HERE) to receive all of the P.L.A.Y.-filled posts.
  2. Please pass P.L.A.Y. forward to family, friends, neighbors, community members, quite simply anyone connected to kiddos that you think might benefit from this work and you’d love to see joining this journey.
  3. $upport the P.L.A.Y. vision by purchasing P.L.A.Y. nature activity guides and story books HERE.
  4. As always $upporting the P.L.A.Y. vision in any way is much appreciated including making a contribution on the Home Page HERE.

Bonus!!! 

Homeschool Visionista at your service! 

If you live in Western Massachusetts and you’d like to consider being a part of a small gathering of women for a Mom’s Visioning Retreat that will dive deeper into the concepts presented in this series and for the opportunity to be mentored by Karen in this group please send your name and email to: Karen@passionatelearningallyear.com . I will contact you to discuss the program details -place, time, level of commitment, etc. And in the spirit of volunteering  please know that it will be a pay-what-you-can program as my way of giving back to the homeschool community and making sure everyone has equal access to this support.


Summary of Chapter Reviews & Reflections

To revisit the topics covered in the Free Range Learning review series by P.L.A.Y.  or to continue exploring the ideas further please see corresponding books and P.L.A.Y. reviews by clicking on the chapter links below.

Chapter 1 – Natural Learning Happens Everywhere

Chapter 2 – Nurturing the Learner

Chapter 3 – Work, Play, and Other Essentials

Chapter 4 – Connecting with Others

Chapter 5 – Collaborating Benefits Everyone

Chapter 6 – Homeschooling Changes Everything

Chapter 7 – Adventure Homeschooling

Chapter 8 – Field Tripping

Chapter 9 – Full Spectrum Learning

Chapter 10 – Science & Nature

Chapter 11 – Math

Chapter 12 – Physical Education/Health

Chapter 13 – The Arts

Chapter 14 – Language Arts/Foreign Language

Chapter 15 – History

Chapter 16 – Volunteerism, Ethics, Spirituality

BOOK LOOK – Free Range Learning by Laura Grace Weldon – Chapter 16 Volunteerism, Ethics, Spirituality


~~~ BOOK LOOK ~~~

Review & Reflections


Free Range Learning:

How Homeschooling Changes Everything

by Laura Grace Weldon


~Review~


If you were to only have one homeschool, unschooling, life learning book on your shelf this would be my top pick. It is absolutely worth having this volume on your shelf to revisit again and again.

This book encompasses so many of my core beliefs on life learning and how to raise children (and yourself!) in a mindful and wholehearted way that I just had to write a series of reviews covering the chapters in this book and encouraging other folks to try out this lifestyle.

Revisit reviews of previous chapters by clicking on the Categories- Book Look/Resource Book Reviews search tab on the right side of this page.

In Chapter 16 – Volunteerism, Ethics & Spirituality Laura highlights these areas showing that homeschoolers have many opportunities to engage and explore individually, and with their families & friends, in a variety of community settings to round out their life learning journey.

Be sure to check out the activities and resources Laura offers and see my reflections below on our own families lived experiences and the resources we used on this journey.


~Reflections~


 Voice and a Choice + Time to Listen + Time to Volunteer

Our work as life learners is to engage with topics of interest, explore curiosities, express ourselves creatively and authentically, and quite simply build a life of purpose and meaning through our daily adventures. I have found Laura’s book to be a wonderful guide through the life learning experience and hopefully, although this review series has come to an end with this final chapter, the practice of P.L.A.Y. and the many positive takeaways from this volume continue on for you and your family.

These past twenty plus years as a homeschooling and unschooling mom have provided me with an endless supply of lessons learned on my parenting journey. It has been the greatest gift to have the time to simply listen to my kiddos struggles and triumphs over the years. Providing a safe space while they questioned all that was before them and truly listening as they also reflected back on what they had learned as they moved along on their journey.

Throughout this parenting season in my life I’ve been given the opportunity to honor “a voice and a choice” again and again as we each participated on equal footing in our household discussions. Everyone truly mattered and had something valuable to contribute if they wished to bring it forward.

There have been many lessons learned and so often the teaching was done by the kiddos shining a light on what was really most important for the parents to understand. We are all the better for it and now have trusting adult relationships with each other because we’ve done this work, the hard homework, together.

Practicing this way of learning and being for multiple decades now means it runs deep in my veins and is connected to the very core of who I am. This year I launched P.L.A.Y.Passionate Learning All Year to share my experiences of this practice with you, pass forward what I have learned, and encourage as many folks and families as possible to engage daily with nature and P.L.A.Y. so that you too may experience the joy and connection it can create for you and your loved ones.

This practice of P.L.A.Y is meant to be shared and it is providing me with the opportunity to “volunteer”, show up and be seen, engage my mind + body + spirit, and give back to the future generations of young folks and families just beginning their life learning adventures.

And so you can see this journey, with much gratitude, continues for me even though the label of homeschool mom is beginning to fade and instead now when I am asked “What do you do?” I reply “My work is P.L.A.Y“!


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Sending many thanks to Laura Grace Weldon, to whom I’ve never met, for writing her book and being a wonderful guide all along the way.

Now that this series is through I hope you and your family will keep coming back and join me for many more daily P.L.A.Y. moments!

Here’s how:

  1. P.L.A.Y. daily by making sure you’ve signed up your email address to receive my posts (see home page).
  2. Bonus – Homeschool Visionista at your service! If you live in Western Massachusetts and you’d like to consider being a part of a small gathering of women for a Mom’s Visioning Retreat that will dive deeper into the concepts presented in this series and for the opportunity to be mentored by Karen in this group please send your name and email to: Karen@passionatelearningallyear.com . I will contact you to discuss the program details -place/time/level of commitment/etc. with the intention to begin in early 2020. And in the spirit of volunteering  please know that it will be a pay-what-you-can program as my way of giving back to the homeschool community and making sure everyone has equal access to this support.
  3. Go back through all of the original posts in this Free Range Learning series and begin reading the suggested books listed as resources and the corresponding reviews I’ve made on separate posts.

Compliment your reading of Free Range Learning with the authors and resources listed below that our family have used on our life learning and parenting journey.


~ Recommended Authors + Resources ~


Dale McGowan –

Raising Freethinkers: A Practical Guide for Parenting Beyond Belief

Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion


Ryan Niemiec –

Mindfulness & Character Strengths: A Practical Guide to Flourishing

The Power of Character Strengths: Appreciate and Ignite Your Positive Personality


Marshall Rosenberg –

NonViolent Communication: A Language of Life


Raising Children Compassionately: Parenting the Nonviolent Communication Way


Myra & Jon Kabat-Zinn

Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting


Purchase Here –  P.L.A.Y. Nature Alliteration Adventure Guide Books

and join the play-filled journey today!


 

BOOK LOOK – Free Range Learning by Laura Grace Weldon – Chapter 15 History


~~~ BOOK LOOK ~~~

Review & Reflections


Free Range Learning:

How Homeschooling Changes Everything

by Laura Grace Weldon


~Review~


If you were to only have one homeschool, unschooling, life learning book on your shelf this would be my top pick. It is absolutely worth having this volume on your shelf to revisit again and again.

This book encompasses so many of my core beliefs on life learning and how to raise children (and yourself!) in a mindful and wholehearted way that I just had to write a series of reviews covering the chapters in this book and encouraging other folks to try out this lifestyle.

Revisit reviews of previous chapters by clicking on the Categories- Book Look/Resource Book Reviews search tab on the right side of this page.

In Chapter 15 – History & Current Events Laura covers more of what some folks would view as the “academic subjects” of homeschooling. She is quick to point out how history is linked to you and your family in so many different ways including through beliefs, attitudes, ideas, and interests and that exploring history is relevant and essential.

Be sure to try out the wide variety of options Laura offers with both activities and resources and see my reflections below on our own families lived experience engaging with the study of history and the resources we used on our journey.


~Reflections~


History – Making Connections Through

Curiosity & P.L.A.Y.

Our work as life learners is to engage with topics of interest, explore curiosities, and quite simply build a life of purpose and meaning through our daily adventures.

Connecting to history by reading stories of what has come before us can be fascinating, insightful, and provide context for how we live our lives.

The focus being on reading history about the lives of real people in real situations sharing the truth of their experiences throughout time including current events (history in the making).

Our family has spent countless hours listening to audio books, in the car and at home, to cover both fictional entertainment (hello Harry Potter – we love Jim Dale! ) and to cover the centuries of historical stories that have taken place before our existence.

We listened to Susan Wise Bauer’s The Story of the World series volume by volume as was age appropriate for our two kiddos. And when I say we listened I am including anyone who was in the vicinity, parents or grandparents. This provided the opportunity for multi-generational conversations and plenty of questions to bubble up. And it is worth noting often times we learned more from asking questions of ourselves and each other then always seeking the answers. Over time we made connections and as we re-listened to each volume at new ages + stages our understanding grew and so did our list of more meaningful questions.

And, as is often the case, both Susan Wise Bauer’s World History and Joy Hakim’s US History series were not necessarily covered 100% as both of my kiddos found the sections on war to be fatiguing. We made use of what had meaning for us and moved on when it no longer suited us. For example, KIDS Discover Magazine with their brief, engaging, and concise articles on so many topics helped cover the areas on war (and many other topics) more succinctly.

This was all coupled with a long list of non-fiction picture books, non-fiction and historical fiction chapter books (love Laura Ingalls Wilder!), plenty of documentaries viewed, museums visited, games played, and news watched which provided a nice broad base of context to build on (even to this day!)

Now that my kiddos officially have both feet planted in the “adult world”and continue to live at home we also continue to learn from each other with curiosity and P.L.A.Y. especially in the “history in the making realm” while we listen to the news on the car radio or watch clips of monologues online together. And often I will find that they have broadened their understanding of Planet Earth and the inhabitants on it and are well equipped to share their valued opinions backing them up with context they have picked up along the way and engaging me with new information to make connections on my own P.L.A.Y. journey.

Many wonderful full circle connection moments, history related and more, really do occur with time and patience. And as I can now attest to parents this is a P.L.A.Y.-filled gift worth waiting for! En-JOY-able!

As this series wraps up you can find Chapter 16  HERE.

Compliment this reading with the authors and resources listed below.


~ Recommended Authors + Resources ~


Susan Wise Bauer –

The Story of the World – a 4 volume set of World History in story format for kiddos+families  (audio/book/workbook options)


Joy Hakim – 

The History of US – an 11 volume set of USA History in story format for kiddos + families (paperback books)


DK Eyewitness – Resource Books – variety of topics


 

KIDS Discover Magazine – History/Biographies/Science (print titles & online)


Who was? a biography series published by Penguin Book Group


Travel back in time with historical fiction series like these:

Mary Pope Osborne – The Magic Tree House (ABOVE)

Laura Ingalls Wilder – Little House on the Prairie (BELOW)


Scholastic Series – Everything You Need to Know About American History Homework


There are *OODLES* of awesome, engaging, inspiring picture and chapter books both in fiction & non-fiction formats.

Simply make it a  practice to visit your local library OFTEN(!) to take you worlds away to P.L.A.Y.!


Purchase Here – P.L.A.Y. Nature Alliteration Adventure Guide Books

and join the play-filled journey today!


 

Simple Gift: Moments of Inner Stillness


~~~ BOOK LOOK ~~~


Mindful Movements: Ten Exercises for Well-Being

by Thich Nhat Hanh

A Handful of Quiet: Happiness in Four Pebbles 

 by Thich Nhat Hanh


~ Review & Reflection ~


Are you seeking simple steps to have moments of daily inner stillness?

Is this challenging to envision when life seems to keep you in motion day and night?

Well look no further than these two calming and family friendly books by Thich Nhat Hahn that will help you and your loved ones begin a set of simple mindful practices that can be done anywhere in your day – indoors or outdoors, all together, partnered up, or solo!

I like to begin my day with Mindful Movements: Ten Exercises For Well-Being just as the morning sun begins to peek over the top of the ridge near our home. I am also very much a morning person so be sure to select the best time for you and your loved ones to engage with these simple mindful exercises to get your circulation going and to feel more centered and focused.

<breathe in><breathe out>

The movements Thich Nhat Hahn recommends are gentle and suit most folks. I like to use this as a beginning to my warm-up and typically add either a few more repetitions or a few extra yoga style stretches to feel fully awake. Focusing on the breath throughout this practice truly makes all the difference as you connect to your “aliveness”.

Then later in the afternoon, whether I’m indoors or typically outdoors on my walk, I take a moment to practice the principles of A Handful of Quiet: Happiness in Four Pebbles. I have a true fondness for finding what I call stripey stones down by the river that suit this practice nicely.

I’ve also adapted this practice, in addition to using pebbles, to sometimes using sticks, acorns, leaves, or gathering anything along my walk to then focus on my breath as I hold and release the items back into nature. I take care not to disturb things that are growing and typically select items that have fallen to the ground.

With each nature item I hold in my hand and I practice the in-out breath and connect to what I want to see and be in this world: peace, prosperity, and most of all love. This really creates clarity and gets to the true heart of this practice for me.

And so over time practicing these movements and meditations routinely has become an important part of my P.L.A.Y. path filling my tank with loving kindness towards myself (inward) and setting the intention to share this with everyone I meet (outward). And little by little these simple practices have created an inner stillness that I can connect to again and again, especially when the world seems to be constantly in motion around me.

Wishing you and yours the simple gift of accessing and connecting to your inner stillness throughout the seasons so that you too may find your days filled with peace, prosperity, and most of all love.


~ Recommended P.L.A.Y. ~

  For more inner stillness opportunities visit the Skyscape Simplicity posts HERE.

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P.L.A.Y. daily and Pass it on!


BOOK LOOK – Free Range Learning by Laura Grace Weldon – Chapter 14 Language Arts/Foreign Language


~~~ BOOK LOOK ~~~

Review & Reflections


Free Range Learning:

How Homeschooling Changes Everything

by Laura Grace Weldon


~Review~


If you were to only have one homeschool, unschooling, life learning book on your shelf this would be my top pick. It is absolutely worth having this volume on your shelf to revisit again and again.

This book encompasses so many of my core beliefs on life learning and how to raise children (and yourself!) in a mindful and wholehearted way that I just had to write a series of reviews covering the chapters in this book and encouraging other folks to try out this lifestyle.

Revisit reviews of previous chapters by clicking on the Categories- Book Look/Resource Book Reviews search tab on the right side of this page.

In Chapter 14 – Language Arts & Foreign Language Laura covers more of what some folks would view as the “core required academic subjects” of homeschooling. She also expands on the idea of language arts focusing on listening and speaking, story telling as a means of expression and communication, and explaining how in our interconnected world reading, writing, and speaking truly affect our daily lives. She also addresses the typical concerns of “when will they learn to read and write?” and encourages the parents to create a word rich environment and model an enjoyment of reading.

Be sure to try out the wide variety of options Laura offers with both activities and resources for language arts and foreign language focus and see my reflections below on our own families lived experience and the resources we used on our journey.


~Reflections~


 Read Aloud or Read Alone

Just Joy-fully + P.L.A.Y.-fully READ All the Time!

Our work as life learners is to engage with topics of interest, explore curiosities, express ourselves creatively, and quite simply build a life of purpose and meaning through our daily adventures.

And a key tool in making these connections is reading.

And what is one of the number one questions as folks begin homeschooling?

“How do I teach my children to read?”

My answer is quite simple “We read. Period.”

Putting this into practice however requires a DAILY commitment from every member of the household and extended family.

After nearly a decade working in classrooms and two decades as a homeschool mom here is what I know to be true:

  • We need to model that reading is valued by being readers ourselves in our homes.
  • We need to be patient when a young reader says “let me try” and sit with them as they slowly, methodically sound out words to read text on a page.
  • We need to support readers of every age+stage when they ask “What is this word?” and tell them so that they may continue on with continuity vs. being told to go look it up and losing sense of the story line along the way.
  • We need to read and re-read the favorite picture story book over and over as this builds muscle memory and connections.
  • We need to visit the library often AND bring home oodles of books EACH week! Let the kiddos pick out books, you pick out books, and bring home bags (plural) so there is always a wide selection of interesting and engaging stories (fiction and non-fiction). *As homeschoolers we would have 30-40 books or more loaned from the library at any given time!
  • We need to listen to audio books together and make connections with the corresponding text. Ask questions, get curious, get silly, get involved in the story and be eager to read and find out more.
  • We need to go to story time at the local library and see others enjoying reading too.
  • We need to read recipes, comic books, labels on foods, music to sing, letters from Grandma, directions on how to play a game or putting a new toy together, maps and road signs, billboards, postcards, quite simply read all the time and everywhere!
  • We need . . . well there are many needs when it comes to reading and they all can be woven in to our daily practices together as a family.

Putting together some of the practicalities:

Phonics and other programs are okay IF a child would LIKE to explore them, however they are not required.

In actuality a simple early learner rhyming dictionary quite nicely shows all of the common word families (and spellings) and provides fun and P.L.A.Y.-filled practice while getting silly with building sentences.

And as readers become more confident they also, over time, take in the structure and framework of how the English language is pieced together. Simply by having access to all books all the time AND making the space for reading throughout their day they will naturally find their way as a reader. This also means yet again the idea of “in their own time and in their own way” applies. There is no set time table for when each individual can read on their own. Consistently engage as readers in your household and everyone will eventually read what they need when they need it. There is only a small percentage of the population that truly require extra assistance, above and beyond consistent exposure to reading, and there are a host of tools and resources at your fingertips to serve their needs and support all of you on this journey.

Reading is a cornerstone of the life learning lifestyle and it will happen naturally over time. Trust that nature knows the pace that each individual needs for this adventure we call “life”.

And one final word to really bring home the point of how important it is to fill your home with living books that really allow you and your family to come alive and joyfully learn together.

This exchange took place between my 8 and 10 year old kiddos when sorting through a stack of books:

” When I read boring books my mouth gets dry.” – age 8

“Reading it is like chewing sand because the writing is so dry.” – age 10

This sums up why it is so important to guide and support young readers, let them select books and also be willing to invest the time to preview books for them, to encourage them on their P.L.A.Y.  journey.

Be present and support the readers in your family by taking the time to preview books whenever possible. There are so many amazing and wonderfully written books in the children’s section of the library that there is no reason to waste your precious time on “dry literature”.

There are so many reliable sites that now provide great book reviews for your previewing including here on the P.L.A.Y. blog. And purchasing a few special books for your shelves at home whether it is at the library book sale, tag sale, or your favorite local book store, reminds your family how much you value reading and the priority you place on spending your time this way.

Whenever I get the chance, even though my kiddos are grown, I still spend hours joyfully in the children’s section of the library simply sorting through the stacks of books (both picture + chapter) to bring home bags of these goodies to read at night and then share the best with you. A simple and sweet gift that keeps on giving!

Time to wrap up this thread of reading ideas with two action items:

  1. Be sure to check back throughout the week for updates in the  BOOK LOOK + Story Nook P.L.A.Y.-ful reviews section of my blog for all your life learning adventures (found HERE).
  2. A Request –please support your local libraries and keep them in the business of books by volunteering and providing monetary and used book donations! My family and I have spent countless hours over the years volunteering at our local library shelving books, creating bulletin boards, running children’s programs for free, and delivering numerous bags of books we no longer needed in order to give back to a community resource we value greatly. Ask your librarians or make suggestions on how you can best be of service. Truly, it is family time P.L.A.Y.-fully and joyfully well spent!

Chapter 15 in this series can be found HERE.

Compliment this reading with the authors and resources listed below.


~ Recommended Authors + Resources ~


Sue Young –

Scholastic Rhyming Dictionary (or any age appropriate rhyming dictionary)

REMINDER: Phonics and other programs are okay IF a child would LIKE to explore them, however they are not required.

In actuality a simple early learner rhyming dictionary quite nicely shows all of the common word families (and spellings) and provides fun and P.L.A.Y.-filled practice while creating sentences, poetry, songs, stories, greeting cards, etc. And yes – silliness is a bonus!

❤ ❤ ❤


Emily K. Neuburger –

Show Me A Story: 40 Craft Projects and Activities to Spark Children’s Storytelling (my future review here)

Journal Sparks: Fire Up Your Creativity with Spontaneous Art, Wild Writing, and Inventive Thinking (my future review here)

BONUS: If you live here in Western Mass then you also have the opportunity to visit the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art where Emily has held workshops with these books.

❤ ❤ ❤


 

Karen Benke –

Rip the Page!: Adventures in Creative Writing (my future review here)

Leap Write In!: Adventures in Creative Writing to Stretch and Surprise Your One-of-a-Kind Mind (my future review here)

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Scholastic Series – Everything You Need to Know About ENGLISH Homework

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National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry

❤ ❤ ❤


Tina Packer –

Tales From Shakespeare

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Ian Doescher – (awesome way to excite folks about Shakespeare – with character parts to P.L.A.Y. and speak theater style!)

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars

William Shakespeare’s the Empire Striketh Back

William Shakespeare’s the Jedi Doth Return

William Shakespeare’s the Phantom of Menace

William Shakespeare’s the Clone Army Attacketh

William Shakespeare’s Tragedy of the Sith’s Revenge

❤ ❤ ❤


Purchase Here- P.L.A.Y. Nature Alliteration Adventure Guide Books

and join the play-filled journey today!


 

BOOK LOOK – Free Range Learning by Laura Grace Weldon – Chapter 13 The Arts


~~~ BOOK LOOK ~~~

Review & Reflections


Free Range Learning:

How Homeschooling Changes Everything

by Laura Grace Weldon


~Review~


If you were to only have one homeschool, unschooling, life learning book on your shelf this would be my top pick. It is absolutely worth having this volume on your shelf to revisit again and again.

This book encompasses so many of my core beliefs on life learning and how to raise children (and yourself!) in a mindful and wholehearted way that I just had to write a series of reviews covering the chapters in this book and encouraging other folks to try out this lifestyle.

Revisit reviews of previous chapters by clicking on the Categories- Book Look/Resource Book Reviews search tab on the right side of this page.

In Chapter 13 – The Arts Laura covers more of what some folks would view as the “core subjects” of homeschooling. From learning to play an instrument, finger painting to clay pot making, acting in a local theater performance or singing in a church choir, the opportunities for artistic expression are endless, available, and they are necessary for healthy growth, learning, and as a means to express yourself.

Be sure to try out the wide variety of options Laura offers with both activities and resources and see my reflections below on our own families lived experience and the resources we used on our journey.


~Reflections~


 P.L.A.Y. and the ARTS

Our work as life learners is to engage with topics of interest, explore curiosities, express ourselves creatively, and quite simply build a life of purpose and meaning through our daily adventures. And although creativity is evident in every facet of our lives, never more so then when exploring the realm of the arts.

Connecting to the arts and your creativity begins as early as dipping your finger in your dinner plate and doodling in your mashed potatoes or applesauce. Expressing through that first rhythmic banging and clanging of a pot with a spoon. The endless circles danced again and again to music in the living room. Dressing up in costumes pieced together from various odds and ends: old scarves, strings of beads from an auntie, ties no longer used by dad, skirts that twirl found at a second hand store from recitals gone by, and endless hats to top it all off. Making marching music from a collection of hand-held instruments and parading around the house, costumed (or not).

These are the first of what could be many naturally creative P.L.A.Y. moments as long as we as parents take a step back, let the kiddos express themselves, and provide a safe place for them to explore their likes and dislikes without any judgment or “shoulding”. If your family of origin always insisted that drawings of roses be red with green stems, or you had teachers that expected the same, then it will take a bit of courage to step back and let your child simply BE. It is worth it though as they will flourish and truly thrive under these nurturing conditions.

To help remind me to give space while supporting each of my kiddos to be their authentic selves I created the phrase: U-be-U (read more here). And there is no more important place than in the arts arena to simply let each person, kiddos and adults alike, to create, imagine, inspire, and immerse in their own moments without judgment. That is a simple gift that keeps on giving with a beautiful ripple effect out into our communities and then circling back again.

From practicing recorders, to singing in a chorus up on a symphony stage, visiting numerous concerts at the local university, to crafting jewelry and immersing in the fine art of photography, and sketching while visiting local greenhouses, our kiddos and family have always made creative expression a priority in our P.L.A.Y..

I hope you will be encouraged to keep the arts and creative expression as a priority throughout your learning adventures as it is a fabulously fun way to engage with P.L.A.Y. daily.

Mom Note: One of my favorite photos of my kiddos when they were young was of them painting watercolors out on the picnic table trying to capture how they saw the old 80 year oak tree in our backyard. The look on their faces was of pure joy and contentment as it didn’t matter what the paintings looked like (or what subject they actually painted), it was the process that lit them up knowing it was all truly good enough (especially for mom’s prized refrigerator art!)

Time to P.L.A.Y.!

Chapter 14 in this series can be found HERE.

Visit your local library to compliment this reading with the authors and resources listed below.


~ Recommended Authors + Resources ~


Julia Cameron –

The Artist’s Way for Parents: Raising Creative Children

❤ ❤ ❤


Betty Edwards  –

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain

❤ ❤ ❤


Andy Goldsworthy – [Landscape Artist]

A Collaboration With Nature

❤ ❤ ❤


Abigail Wheatley –

The Story of Painting

❤ ❤ ❤


Margaret Peot –

Inkblot: Drip, Splat, and Squish Your Way to Creativity

❤ ❤ ❤


Note: See Chapter 14 – Language Arts for more of the arts like Poetry/Shakespeare Theater/etc.


Purchase Here- P.L.A.Y. Nature Alliteration Adventure Guide Books

and encourage the arts today!