Saturday, February 26, 2011

Volcano Explosion!

What do you do on a snowy Saturday? Build a volcano, of course!

First, mix water and flour to make glue.

Then, build your papier-mache volcano with a small bottle in the middle.

Slap on layers of paper strips and make as big a mess as you can.

Be patient and wait for it to dry. Go throw a few snowballs outside.

Now the best part - add vinegar & baking soda to the volcano and watch it exploooode!!!

Monday, February 21, 2011

SGI Art Gallery of Richmond

Sketching of "The Bench"
River Road
Richmond, BC

Clay Creations:
"The Bowl"
"Winter Scene"
"Penguin with an Umbrella"
"Candle Holder"

Sketching of "The Inukshuk"
River Road
Richmond, BC

Acrylic Paintings:
"Vincent Van Gogh's Sunflowers"
"A Robin on a Wall"
"Mountains on a Landscape"
"A Flower in Bloom"

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Nature's Classroom

Serena and her friends spotted this woodpecker pecking away at a tree yesterday. Unlike most birds, this one didn't care that we were less than 10 feet away and was industrious with its pecking business. We went on a field trip at Burns Bog a year ago where we learned a few things about woodpeckers. So Serena proceeded to share her wealth of knowledge with her friends:

"Did you know that the woodpecker's tongue is so long that it goes backward and wraps around its brain?? Really!! It's very funny!"
"Did you know that woodpecker pecks holes to dig for bugs, but a sapsucker pecks holes so that the tree sap will come out and bugs get stuck on the sap so he can eat them? It's like those bug lollipops!"

And there we stood in amazement, children and moms, for a good half hour watching this bird. Just hours before, we were at the checkout of London Drugs and the cashier wondered why Serena's not in school. Little did she know that Serena was in school - her classroom is just a lot bigger and is not bound by walls.

p.s. We looked through our bird book when we got home and found out that the bird was a red-breasted sapsucker.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Renaissance Fashions

A dialogue between me and Serena at a bookstore over a year ago:

S: Mommy, can we buy this?
[A Renaissance Fashions book in hand.]
T: This looks difficult! The pictures are so intricate, it'll take you forever to colour one of these. Are you sure?
[Flipping through the pages, ready to decline the purchase.]
S: Yes, mommy, I love them! I promise I will colour them!
T: Are you really really sure? You're not just going to colour one page and put the book aside like all your other princess colouring books??
S: Yes, yes, yes, I promise!
T: OK, if I buy this and you give up after colouring just one page, I will never ever buy you another colouring book again. Do you understand?
[Absolutely sure that I would never have to buy another colouring book again.]
S: Yes, mommy, I promise!

Since then, Serena has spent countless hours meticulously colouring every detail of each costume. She totally blew me away with her concentration and artistry. The pictures came out so beautifully that I framed a bunch of them for display in the living room.

The colouring book has recently resurfaced after being shelved for a while. This time around, Serena has decided to make paper-doll puppets, and she's been creating fantastic stories all day long with these new characters.

Looking back, I realized the failings of all the previous colouring books - they allowed no "scope for imagination" as Anne Shirley would put it. Renaissance Fashions is the best $5.95 I've ever spent.

The moral of the story: Thou shall not doubt nor underestimate your child.

Friday, February 11, 2011

God's Canvas

"Homeschool" is a misnomer since so much of what we do & learn happen outside of our home. According to the weather forecast, yesterday was the last sunny day before a long stretch of rainy days. That's a definite call to take our school work outside!

We found ourselves at a beautiful stretch of beach by Stanley Park. "Let's explore!", exclaimed Serena excitedly. We checked out different print patterns left in the sand by birds and dogs, we looked at all sorts of barnacles, we collected interesting seashells and beach glasses, we chased away the audacious crows trying to get to our picnic lunch... Then we found a few nice pieces of small driftwood perfect for drawing in the sand. It didn't take long for Serena to get totally engrossed in this artistic challenge. All I had to do was write a couple of open-ended sentences in the sand and drew a few big circles. She took over to fill in the blanks and the sandy shore became a giant canvas full of possibilities.

Watching Serena create on the canvas of God's majestic creation was awe inspiring. A glorious day such as this makes up for all the rainy days we get!

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands." (Psalm 19:1)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Bloedel Conservatory

We went on a field trip with the Young Naturalists' Club to the Bloedel Floral Conservatory at Queen Elizabeth Park yesterday. Serena enjoyed spying all the birds and plants so much so that we went around the conservatory 3 times ("Again!") before I successfully removed her from the premise. Her favourite bird was the Sierra Leone Touraco. My favourites were all the beautiful orchids and exotic florals there.

Using the idea from Jennifer Belle's "Animal Stackers", Serena penned the following 2 poems regarding the Touraco and the Macaw she enjoyed so much:

Tropical forests
Of West Africa,
Under the canopy,
Running and racing
Around the
Oh, look at the fan on your head!

Macaws from the
Amazon jungle,
As can be!
What a big sight!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Three Tree Green Garden

The first time I noticed Serena's gift with words was when she was not quite 3 yet. We were looking at a book of shapes. I would point at a square, or rectangle, or circle, and she would say its name. I always skipped the parallelogram, for obvious reason. She pointed at it one day and asked, "What's that?". I didn't even bother to slow down and said half-heartedly, "Oh, that's a parallelogram." I turned the page to move on. Serena repeated quietly to herself, "Parallelogram." with perfect enunciation.

From then on, I would try to get her to say crazy words. She loved the game and caught on quickly. By the time she turned 4, she has learned to say words like "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious". It took her a handful of times to figure out "tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo", which took me a whole month to learn...

Serena still loves tongue-twisters (try Fox in Socks by Dr. Seuss!) and she makes up her own from time to time. It's hard to capture those moments when she is being creative - as soon as I whip out the camera, she clams up. I got lucky recently when she was her happy self at the park, her happy place. She seemed inspired by the beautiful day and the trees around her, and started rhyming off this little tongue-twisting poem she named, "The Three Tree Green Garden":

Storybird has been a great new tool to let her creative juice flow. Here's another little Storybird book she made just this morning: Music in the Seasons.

Hope you enjoy Serena's creation as much as I do!

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Thank you Pippa for introducing us to this awesome site: Storybird. We love the beautiful illustrations which you could pick and choose to create your own unique stories. The collaboration idea is great, we will have to give that a try next time we explore the site some more.

Our little poet Serena got to work immediately and composed her first Storybird book Magic Poems. I tried to gently steer her creative writing to no avail, so I could claim no credits whatsoever (apart from being her typist). I had to chuckle at what she came up with for the last 2 pages. Does anyone know another 6-yr old as dreamy as this little girl?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Corners Game

Objectives: To practice the facts totalling 5, 10, and 15, and mentally adding sums that are multiples of 5

Object of the Game: To join 4 Corners cards to make the highest possible score. The sum of 2 adjoining numbers must be of the same colour and total 5, 10, 15, or 20

Scoring: Each player does her own scoring by mental addition

Fun Factor: 10 Smarties for every 100 points scored

Total Smarties Scored by Serena: Countless

For those of you who questioned the effectiveness of Smarties Math...