Sunday, February 18, 2018

There's No Such Things as Bad Weather -- only bad clothes

 "Play in and of itself has a therapeutic effect on children. And they play differently outside. The games are more open and flexible, and it's easier for them to organize the situation in a way that is beneficial to them physically, socially, and psychologically." (Mckurk p. 91, quoting Professor Martensson)
"Streets and parks that used to teem with children are now empty. Simultaneous with this development, obesity, diabetes, and ADHD, and other behavioral problems have become rampant, with American children now being three times more likely to be medicated with stimulants  and antidepressants than their European peers." (McGurk, p 5)

I have recently been inspired by this book:
It is written by a wonderful Scandinavian mom who married an American and was shocked by how few kids she saw playing outside here in the US. She describes the contrast with a nature-centric culture in Scandinavia and uses both personal experiences and excellent research data to urge parents and schools to help kids get outside more... Not just on a few "good weather days". And not just for an occasional 20 minute recess.
I love being outside. I automatically feel better out in nature. It's one of the reasons that I love gardening and farming. The farm makes me get outside and work on things every day and the kids too. Usually what happens is that they go out to do their morning or evening farm chore and end up staying out much longer playing imaginative games. 
She is recommending 4-5 hours outside every day for kids of elementary school ages like mine. We are blessed to have made some good friends who also believe that learning and playing outside is essential for developing happy, healthy, creative, and intelligent minds. That is helping me in my quest to expand our outdoor time.
They have been using their imaginations playing with the wading pool that they pulled out of the barn this week.  Both in snowy weather --

And on a random warm 70 degree day:

  "One cross sectional study representing 4 million children in the US showed that roughly half of all preschoolers don't have any daily outdoor playtime, even though the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends encouraging 'children to play outside as much as possible'. Older children don't fare much better, with digital entertainment on average now eating up nearly 53 hours of their time every week. By the time they reach their teens, only 10 percent of American children report spending time outside every day, according to Nature Conservancy" (McGurk, p. 5)

Their is a lot more excellent information and funny anecdotes in this book. I highly recommend it and her blog: Rain or Shine Mamma

Family Schooling Summary: Valentine's Day and a Robotic Arm

In a kid-initiated and led project, also known as a "mom was doing something else" project, they found and painted boxes for putting Valentines in. We bought a couple boxes of valentines from the dollar store and the rest were handmade.

  Sleepy early morning candy eaters.
We found this kit for a hydraulic arm at the thrift store about a month ago.  They have been slowly working on it after dinner each night with daddy.  They finally finished it this week.
 Big sister A is showing how she can use it to pick up a block: 

Farm Fresh: Winter Wonderland

On Saturday morning some guys came over to "harvest" several large azaleas and a little oriental maple tree that were making weird islands in the yard.  (They were free on craigslist for anyone willing to come dig them out). Here are the kiddos in one of the holes that they left behind.
The kids did not pose for long before Icy came to show them some love.  
 Shark came too, but then was worried about a hawk overhead and got distracted.
 This is a fun sequence of pictures showing what happens on a snowy day with chickens. Brother M opened the door.
They started to come out. First some ducks that didn't really belong in there.
 Then the chickens started to come out... But then they all had second thoughts and ran back in!
Then they decided that snow was better than being cooped up...
  And they slowly made their way into the yard. Their are several new additions in this picture.  A friend moved away and gave us her 6 young hens (Rhode Island Reds).  And another friend's neighbors were mad that she had a rooster, so she brought him over to live with us too.
 The geese and turkeys had no such qualms about snow.
One fantastic piece of farm news is that the turkeys are mating! That might seem a strange thing to be excited about. But considering that most turkeys raised in the US can't mate naturally and usually are too overweight to live past 6 months of age (raised with only Thanksgiving in mind)... it is pretty miraculous to have 2 turkeys that still know what to do and are of the correct proportions to do it. 
 Now we just have to wait for her to lay some eggs.

On a different note, about a week ago we woke up to the results of an ice storm:
  The trees and bushes were all sparkling. The kids thought it looked like they all were covered with Christmas lights.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Family Schooling: The Franklin Institute -- Special Exhibit of China's Terracotta Warriors

Getting to see these ten 2000 year old terracotta warriors on display was an amazing homeschool adventure. With traffic and such it took us about 4 hours to get to the Franklin Institute, but it was definitely worth the trip.  They are going to be on display in the US in only two locations. 
When we arrived their were only a few people in the exhibit.

  The kids were able to do some hands on activities:

  I spent a lot of time looking at the display showing the building process. Knowing a little about pottery making gave me a better sense of the work that went into making these. I kept thinking things like, "2000 warriors of this size would take an incredible amount of clay!"
 Some parts, like arms and legs, were mass produced with molds. Details to make each one look unique were added by craftsmen later in the assembly process. According to the description cards they have unearthed 2000 warriors so far and are not done! After 40 years of careful digging they have yet to reach the emperor's tomb. They estimate that about 700,000 workers/slaves must have been employed in the creation of this tomb.
This hands on station was showing the kids how much faster and more consistent molds make the process.


 Each warrior had a plaque telling when it was excavated, how many of that type of guy they have found, and other details.
 Their were special effects in a couple of places that scared miss L.  This hallway was supposed to give us a sense of what walking through the tunnels of 2000 warriors would have been like.
 Projections showed how they would have looked when they still had their lacquer or glaze.