Beatrix Potter Language Arts Products! So fun and sweet!

I am SUPER excited about our new Beatrix Potter products that combine art, literature, language arts, handcrafts, and more!

In this facebook live video I show and tell through all of these products:

 

  • Beatrix Potter Penmanship & Copywork Treasury
  • Popsicle Stick Puppets
  • Cootie Catcher!

Watch the video below or jump to the product page here.



The Day We Got 1565 Golf Balls

Storytime:

Once upon a time, I was a weary homeschooling mom of many, with a husband just 6 weeks past having open heart surgery, and we were dealing with a lot of tough,exhausting, and difficult things. It was 2014, and it became known to me as the year where I got very comfortable with the concept of uncertainty.  Things were hard.

Always aiming to do my best in spite of circumstances, I tend to teeter-totter between firm responsibility and indulging in whimsy. After all–both are important, and it’s not always clear which one is needed worse.

One day a friend of mine wrote on facebook that she had about 600 free used golf balls for anyone that wanted to get them. And for some reason, this struck a chord of interest for me. I don’t remember why. I honestly can’t think of any good reason to get hundred of golf balls as I look back on it. But at that time, it seemed like it might be a worthy adventure. Or, it was a form of insanity.  I asked my friends on facebook for advice:

OK friends: Talk me down. I just found out about 600 free golf balls I could go get. I am currently frantically scanning pinterest to figure out what awesome thing I could make with them. Currently thinking of Christmas ornaments….. Help!

A short while later the kids had joined me in my interest:

Here is the fun already resulting in this crazy plan: Kids estimating how many golf balls could fit in each container that we have. Me starting to think about the cottage industry opportunities for the kidlets to turn these golf balls into money. This is the kind of homeschooling I really enjoy, and don’t get to do often enough.

I’m sure I had probably dozens or hundreds of other things I could have or “should have” been doing, but I have a motto that The Winds of Inspiration Must Not Be Denied, and so we went with it.  Here’s how it went:

I’ll tell you what–today I am the poster mom for following whimsical bunny trails.

 

I smiled and laughed all the way to pick up the golf balls, while the kids and I brainstormed about what we might do with them, how we would divide them up, etc. , and I got to visit with a sweet friend during the pick up.

 

And then while driving home we discovered that a few spiders had been stowaways with the balls. Poor Isaac is extremely scared of spiders, and the ensuing shrieks of terror and panic went all the way past terrifying over to utterly comedic. We were all screaming KILL IT! KILL IT! while poor Isaac was having a heart attack. After the poor unassuming spider was dead (sorry spidey) the kids were leaping into the farther back areas of the van, and we were all laughing maniacally. (It was very fun. You’ll just have to trust me on that.) They were yelling “PULL THE CAR OVER! MAKE DAD COME PICK US UP FROM THE SIDE OF THE ROAD!!!!” hahahahaha. We were two minutes from the house so we carried on.

 

Aidan had been in the seat where he was responsible for preventing the tall hampers full of golf balls from spilling. So….of course once he wasn’t sitting there any more. I went around a corner and there went hundreds of golf balls onto the floor of the van. We laughed even louder. Then we got home and the kids in the way back of the van let themselves out the back door instead of the side door so the balls wouldn’t fall out. Dave met us in the driveway and before we could tell him not to open the side door, he did it, and a zillion golf balls went pouring out in the driveway, so we laughed and screamed even louder.

 

After we picked up all the balls and deemed them spider-free (I’m sure the rest of the spiders are taking up a comfortable residence under the van seats right now), we commenced to have much, MUCH practice counting by twos as we counted and divided up our bounty. Each one of us has almost 300 balls to figure out what to do with. We discussed the pros and cons of selling quickly for a lower price, vs. taking time to create something and then having to market and sell it in order to get a bigger return. We will possibly still be trying to sell golf ball items for the next decade.

 

It is a beautiful day outside, the breeze was very relaxing, I got some exercise, and Aidan labeled my bucket of golf balls “Mom is Awesome!”

 

1565 used golf balls: free.

 

An afternoon full of smiles and gut-busting laughs and memories with my kids: priceless.

 

(And later on if I ask myself, “Why on earth did you go borrowing trouble and go get all these golf balls?!” I will even laugh then, because I do not take myself too seriously.)

That. was. an awesome day full of fun and memory-making.  I think we ended up selling all of the balls within just a couple weeks, and each kid was pretty happy with the money they earned.  But the real point here is that I was able to let go and do some crazy thing with my kids.  I let go of my To Do list.  I let go of having to know what the outcome would be.  We just did a crazy thing and it ended up being a ton of fun that we still enjoyed talking about at dinner tonite.

There will always, always be more work to be done and more responsibilities to tend to, my friends.  Know what there won’t always be?  Children all around to make fun memories with.  Take time to prioritize those opportunities!  This matters more than you know.



Catching Snowflakes Art Project

Winter time is the perfect time to have your kids do some great artwork. The weather is nasty & you get all cooped up inside, so try this activity with them on one of those dreary days & see how it perks up everyone’s spirits!  This is a mixed media piece that uses watercolor painting in addition to markers & the cutting of snowflakes, too.  

What you will need: (affiliate links have been used)

 

Directions:
1.  The outline:  First you need to decide whether to pre-outline the person’s shape on the white paper for them yourself, or let them do it. This depends on their age and skill level.

Basically, there needs to be a round half-circle for the head, then the top half circle for the body, and then add arms and hands. No details otherwise need to be there, as they are painting over this anyway. Do this with the pencil and try to keep it as light as possible.
2.  Painting the sweater:  Start out by explaining how watercolor works and not to let it get too soggy wet, but they do have the freedom here to go outside the lines since they will be cutting this out, so you can tell them it’s ok to do that.  I suggested bright colors for the sweater part and maybe even a pattern on the sweater to make the picture livelier.

In my example, I painted a blue stripe first, let it dry a minute, then went back and painted a pink one between all the blue, then I let that dry a couple minutes, and then added a darker blue thin stripe between the other colors.


3.  Painting the skin:  Getting the skin tone right can be tricky.  Depending on the skin color you want, starting with pink, orange, or brown and then diluting it with water will help.  Practice on the side of the paper to get the color you want.  (We will be cutting out our figure, so the sides will be thrown away, so it’s a good place to practice your colors)

Once you get the tone you want, paint in the skin color on the head and the hands and if they choose, also a little pink on the cheeks. The eyes and mouth will be drawn on in marker after it’s dry, so that they are thinner and more legible.

4.  Cutting out snowflakes:  Now, set that aside and let it dry while they do the next part, which is cutting out snowflakes for their sky. Show them how to do it, even if they’ve done it before. I found that older kids were confident in it, but then didn’t remember how to fold the paper and in result, no snowflake. Make sure the paper is small to start with, as it has to fit on the background, around the person they painted and at least 3 of them looks best. Just a couple of inches square for the paper is good. Fold it in half diagonally, into a triangle, and then again into another triangle before cutting the shapes into the edges.


5.  Cutting out the figure and adding details:  Once the sweater and skin is dry, the children can cut out their watercolor figure, and glue it on to the background paper, making sure to put the flat bottom edge lined up with the bottom edge of the colored paper.

 

Using a marker, add facial features and hair.  I prefer for the eyes to look closed so that it’s like they are in the snow, catching the snowflakes in their mouth, eyes closed. They can add eyelashes, and then draw an open mouth, with red tongue showing.


6.  Snowflakes:  Next, have them glue on the snowflakes where they choose.  Then use the white crayon to draw falling snow. They can even put a few dots over the body too, to create some depth in the picture. I drew some solid dots and some little swirled circles as well for movement.




The Beatrix Potter Book Club Organizer: A delight for your homeschool!

Affiliate links have been used in this post

When I found out that one of my members in the Enrichment Studies community was also an author of several children’s books, I was intrigued. When she told me that her newest book was a Beatrix Potter book club guide, I was even more excited!  Fellow homeschool mom and author Hosanna Rodriguez has created an absolutely beautiful guide to a memorable and lovely educational experience with your children.

If you’ve never considered a book club for your children, you will be inspired by the ideas in this book.  Hosanna has crafted an opportunity that will be fun and engaging for your children, while also paying off in huge educational dividends.  Language arts, critical thinking, writing, public speaking, and multisensory skills are all developed in a setting that can work at home with your family, or by joining forces with friends.

                                                                                      

The Beatrix Potter Book Club Organizer takes you by the hand and walks you through each book to read, and all of the delightful crafts, activities, snacks, games, and special events.  There are beautiful photos all throughout this full-color book that show you live examples of happy kids enjoying the activities, as well as shopping lists, templates, planning forms, and more!

Honestly, reading through this book brought tears to my eyes many times, because it’s just the sort of thing I would have loved to do with my children when they were young.  I know so well that when we can create magical, memorable experiences with our children, the payoff keeps coming for years and years.  The Beatrix Potter Book Club Organizer offers you just that:  an opportunity to infuse your homeschool with something extra special, a fun and engaging way to learn and grow in many different skill areas, and precious keepsakes and memories to enjoy for years to come.

 

Read my interview with the author of this delightful book here!
Watch my Facebook Live Show and Tell of this book:


The giveaway has ended.  Our winner is Heidi!



Interview with homeschool mom and author Hosanna Rodriguez

I’m always excited when I meet homeschool moms that are doing really interesting things. So, you can imagine how thrilled I was when I discovered that one of our Enrichment Studies moms is also an author of several books! Hosanna Rodriguez is a homeschooling mother of four, and she has absolutely dazzled me with her new Beatrix Potter Book Club Organizer. Swoon!  (*We are having a giveaway for this book right now.  Come enter to win!)

I had the opportunity to ask Hosanna more about her life, her homeschooling, her inspiration for the books she writes, and how she has time for it all. Read on and enjoy this glimpse into another homeschool family’s life!

Hi Hosanna!  Please tell us a little about your family and how you got started homeschooling.

Our family of six, including 2 boys, ages 12 and 10; and 2 girls, ages 7 and 5; are a lively, imaginative bunch! We live in Southern California where we have homeschooled our kids from the start. Encouraging friends who successfully modeled the potential found in the realm of homeschooling and the freedom to pursue specific interests were the catalysts to move us in this method of education. The final push came from my husband, who was convinced from the get-go that homeschooling would be a good fit for our family. I, on the other hand, while respectful of those who accepted full responsibility of teaching their children, took a little more time to digest the process. Would I have what it would take? After countless hours of research, reflection, discussion, and prayer, I took the plunge and haven’t looked back since. I never would have imagined the thrill of such an adventure was awaiting me!

Wonderful!  What are some things that your family enjoys?

Our family is a colorful mix of personalities and interests. My husband, Walter, is my Puerto Rican-born hunk, and is a self-employed musician whose beats and jingles you have undoubtedly heard on various movies such as Star Wars: Rogue One, Zootopia, Frozen, and countless others. When he’s not making music, he’s wearing many other hats such as kids’ chauffeur, part time homeschool teacher, wife’s business tech and creative partner, best BBQ’er this side of the Mississippi; and that’s just scratching the surface! As a family, we love celebrating life with each other and with friends as often as we can, whether it’s coming together to eat, watching movies, partying in a book club, or using just about every corner of our little home, aka the Rodriguez workshop ;), to develop what we love. You can find us painting, cooking, photographing, pulling apart electronics for inspection, exercising…I told you, we’re a colorful bunch!

How would you describe each of your children in one word?

Our kids in one word: Christopher—bold, Jaden— artistic, Juliana—nurturer, Christina—creative.

What do you like best about homeschooling?

What I like best about homeschooling is it allows us to be true to ourselves. We revel in time as a family. We seek out varied routes to explore and develop our interests. We band together with friends and others in the community to share in life and learning, which are essentially the same thing.

I absolutely love the concept of the book club for young children!  How did you get this idea?

I organized my first official book club about about 8 years ago and was shocked by the response. I was new to the homeschool world, and my eldest was only a preschooler at the time. I knew very few people who were walking the same path, so when nearly two dozen people signed up for that book club, I had to scramble for other locations for hosting the club. I loved it! I’ve organized many book clubs since and have learned much along the way. I can’t wait for our next book clubs scheduled this year: Hobbit for the older ones and House at Pooh Corner for the littles!

What has your personal experience been with this concept of book clubs?

I have to laugh (and scratch my head a bit) when I think back to my years as a child. I was NOT a reader. Sure, I read when I had to, but my first choice of material was nonfiction, and now I’m having an ongoing party with fiction written for various ages. But now I know why. Reading about death-defying triumphs, heart-wrenching tragedies, and acts of the purest compassion and courage all by myself was far too lonely of an experience. How could my soul be gripped and not have anyone with whom to share it? Now when I’m in the middle of a fantastic story with my kids, my mind races with ideas of how to incorporate different elements of the story for the purpose of kids developing beneficial skills.

How do your children like the book club experience?

Our kids love book clubs. They beg for them when we are in between clubs, and they also submit their specific requests. I’m particular with the literature we indulge in with our book clubs and tend to stick with the classics, although I may include current works in the future. One thing is certain: there is no lack of exhilarating material!

Have you seen skills learned in the book club translate into other areas for your children?

Yes, absolutely! The skills that my kids have developed in a book club can be seen in many ways, years after the book club ends. In the early years, kids can’t help but pay more attention to the storyline and language structure with all the connections they make through the activities and the shared experience with friends. These reading comprehension skills just scratch the surface when it comes to all the potential skills that can be developed in a book club setting. Critical thinking skills, divergent thinking skills, fine and gross motor skills, communication and artistic skills are all possible in this setting. When planning a book club, my goal is offering kids exercises or experiences that promise twice the return, a double whammy if you will.

As an example, in our most recent Beatrix Potter book club, the kids sewed their own bunny ears. The skills strengthened were their fine motor skills, but the final results were a set of felt bunny ears, stuffed with padding and including a bell for extra fun when jumping as bunnies. These were not bunny ears made of construction paper that would end up in the trash before the day was over, but something that would last. They had even taken a simple step into the world of sewing, which will inevitably prove useful in one way or another. We all wear clothes, for heaven’s sake, and there is bound to be a time when a button needs to be replaced. So the general idea is developing skills with lasting value. Much more fun than tracing page after page of zig-zags on a worksheet that they’ll never look at or care about again.

I’d love to hear more of your thoughts on home education and parenting. Tell everything! Hahaha!

If you want a few more details, good and bad, I have plenty to share. HA! I’ll keep it to a minimum, I promise! There were some bumps we initially had to work through, with the younger ages especially, which all parents do to some extent. When kids are young, they’re, well, new to just about everything! They have to learn how to pay attention. They have to learn how to respect others. They have to learn how to learn. I realized early on that approaching this learning process was not always a bed of roses, there would be moments of distraction, chaos, or frustration; but my job was to guide them in a way that didn’t involve heavy-handed dictatorship. So while correction was sometimes needed, let’s say if a child was running wild, disregarding all instruction; it was important for me to also consider the possible varying factors. Had the child had enough sleep, nutritious food, time to run free, parent-child snuggle time? Did he have certain times when his listening skills were better, such as during meal time or bath time that I needed to make the most of when reading at any length? Is the child just plain spoiled? It could be a combination of all those factors and others. We need to be a student of our students. So I told you I’d share details. Here’s one—we’ve had to work with one strong-willed kiddo for years on receiving instruction and contributing to the group in a constructive way. I love a strong, independent thinker, but I don’t love a self-centered, stubborn know-it-all. There’s a fine line, and considerate and consistent guidance has been our answer.

Please tell us about the other books you’ve published.

We have currently published a book called Animals in Time that takes kids on a journey through history as they experience it through the eyes of animals. There will be a total of three volumes when they have all been completed, each containing twenty-six stories, and each following an alphabetical progression. The completed volume focuses on American History. Kids get to sail on Christopher Columbus’ ship with stowaway Alex the Ant. They welcome the Pilgrims on the Mayflower with Bary the Bear, and they witness the Boston Tea Party with Coco the Caterpillar. The stories contain a wealth of historical facts while not reading as a text book, and the alphabetical progression provides the perfect arrangement to incorporate a letter of the week approach for younger students. Ever heard of a one-room schoolhouse? This is a good resource for varying ages. The other two volumes are currently in progress. One last detail I have to share, and it’s much more than a mere detail to me, is the part kids have played to create Animals in Time. While I wrote the American History volume, kids made the art for each story! And the following two volumes are being written by our sons. There is a great deal of time that goes into the research, the creative development, and the editing process. What I love about this holistic approach to learning is that kids are working with so many different elements and connecting history, animals, art, and writing skills in one grand effort. And in addition to the kids crafting their skills as they create, they are inspiring other kids to do the same.

One element in the Animals in Time, Volume 3 book I think subscribers of Enrichment Studies might like is the assortment of artists included in the stories, artists like Georgia O’Keefe, Grandma Moses, Norman Rockwell, and N.C. Wyeth. And one last thing, in our updated website, we plan to have “making of” highlights of all the children artists who created the art for three volumes worth of history stories. That’s a lot of art!

How do you have time to write books?

I may have abundant amounts of passion and drive, but one thing I constantly faced with a shortage of is time, sweet time. When we had babies crawling around the house, I remember so clearly feeling strapped for time simply getting meals on the table and keeping laundry clean. I was barely making it! I would have laughed (and maybe cried) if you would have told me I’d be doing any of this at that time, but babies have a way of becoming large and in charge, despite their miniature sizes. I adore them! And if there was no limit to time and age, I’d guess Walter and I would keep having them indefinitely. I never wanted to leave the baby stage, but there are seasons in life and we have to accept each one for what it can offer. Now that our youngest is five years old, there is a little more consistency in our schedules, although not nearly as much being that we are a family of self-employed people. And throw a musician’s schedule into the mix, and you end up with some wacky schedules. Anyway, at the very least, I try to follow my wise husband’s advice and at least do a little bit a day. I also have lower expectations of maintaining a picture-perfect home. We are constantly cleaning, so there are no nasty surprises lurking behind couches or under beds, but the paperwork and clutter can threaten to take over. They’re like weeds! The piles of paper grow faster than we can sort and throw away. Once again, this is just a season, so we embrace the great with the not-so-great.

Thanks so much, Hosanna!  You’ve inspired me with your words and work!

Check out Hosanna’s website, Let’s Learn Kids, and her new Beatrix Potter Book Club Organizer here.




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