I decided I wanted to make these little ninja guys the other day, so on our way back from food shopping, we stopped into Michael's for a few things, one of them being pipe cleaners. However, because I am me, and I left my list in the car, I got everything but the pipe cleaners - plus many things that we didn't need. In my defense, there was a 70% off clearance section of kid craft stuff. Still, the pipe cleaners were kind of necessary.
Lucky for me, I was able to dig some out of a box that we had not yet unpacked since moving eleven months (yikes!) ago.
The link above can explain how to make them way better than I ever could, but we persevered and we read the instructions on the tiny screen of my phone and we made them, these little ninjas, and some ninja-ettes too. We also may need reading glasses now from squinting at the phone, but that's a whole other blog post.
They were very cute and very doable for a seven-year-old, with mommy's help.
She's cute, no?
I think the most exciting part for the kids was when I let them use a sharpie (!) to draw the faces on the heads. Who knew a sharpie could generate such excitement?!
It's Pizza Day, but only for pretend. Really, we had tuna and corn for lunch. But after lunch and after swimming, we broke out the colored paper, markers, scissors, glue and cardboard cereal boxes from the recycling bin.
We cut pizza shaped triangles from the cardboard and mushrooms, onions, brocolli, spinach, tomatoes, french fries and lots of shredded cheese - cheddar and mozarella. We're fancy like that.
And they glued and glued and glued and came up with the funniest pizzas.
And now they're playing pizza store in the playroom.
One is the chef, one is the waiter and one is still in the kitchen opening his own fleishig restaurant, with chicken covered pizza, hamburgers and hotdogs and chicken nuggest. He's opening his restaurant in the dining room; keeping things kosher and everything. All they need are customers.
Sometimes it's hard to get them started, but once they get going, I can step away and read a few pages of my book. I have to hurry though, the library books are due tomorrow.
And lest you think I created this magic myself, I did not. Pinterest did. I love you Pinterest.
Remember about a week ago when I said we had eleventy-thousand oranges and I was going to dehydrate them so we could make orange necklaces in school, kind of like what I found here at CreativeJewishMom.com? No? That's okay. You can refresh your memory here. I can wait.
Anyway, we did - and it was a really fun Tu B'Shvat project, but as it turns out, we didn't need to dehydrate as many oranges as I thought and so we still have a good few hundred oranges sitting around. And sadly, while delicious and sweet, they have pits and so my kids won't go near them with a ten-foot pole unless I take the pits out myself, which is really a very messy and sticky job and I don't like messy and sticky. That's not true, messy, I'm okay with. Sticky, not so much.
Tu B'Shvat, however, worked out really nicely in school - there was a Tu B'Shvat seder with four cups of grape juice per kid (can you spell sugar rush), we made orange necklaces and paper trees that I found here - and ate tons of chocolate covered pomegranates, which, while not technically related to Tu B'Shvat, they're close enough in my book. And very delicious.
There is some good news on the orange front though - we are the "snack family" in the nursery this week and so now the nursery kids are picking seeds from their oranges and eating the rest for snack.
The bad news is that even after bringing some to nursery, handing out several bags to friends and trying to pawn them off on my visiting family all weekend, there are many (many) left.
Can anyone help?
Can oranges be frozen?
Is there a cake I should be baking with them?
The bulk of them are sitting in my laundry basket and I really need to do some laundry. For real.
It's not exactly snowing here in Florida, but it's snowing somewhere (and if you watch the weather channel, it kind of seems like it's snowing everywhere).
The kids were more than happy to pretend winter had arrived in art class, even if they are peeling off layers of clothing as they leave school each day.
We made several different kinds of snowmen and snowflakes this week - and they're all now living on the bulletin board, alongside a Florida snowman. We used the basics - paper, scissors, cotton balls, popsicle sticks, glitter and some googly eyes too. So simple, no fancy supplies needed - and the kids had a blast. I'm loving how each cut-out snowflake is different and how each snowman has his own happy personality.
You gotta love a snowman with sunglasses and shorts, eating an ice cream cone. It seems Florida does have its perks!
Coming soon: Winter Break and going nowhere, cause really, we live in our vacation...so stay tuned for a Florida Staycation!
We bought a couch today.
The picture below is the couch coming into the house through the backdoors, but first it has to get through the still-standing sukkah.
We are big fans of craigslist and yet every time we look to buy something, I get all nervous.
Will the sellers be crazy?
Will we hate the couch (air conditioner, toy, whatever) when we see it and then have to tell the seller no to their faces?
And the worst, how will we get it home?
That's what happened today. I mean, it's a couch, you can't exactly throw it into the trunk.
And also, both Josh and I wanted to see it, which meant all the kids had to come too. The six of us fit comfortably in the van, but no room for a couch here. So we took two cars, took all three booster seats out of the van, put them into Josh's car and off we went. The car seat stayed in the van. We'd have to be getting something a lot better than a couch to make unhooking the carseat worth it. Actually, I can't think of anything that would make taking the carseat out worth it, short of getting a new van. And even then, a new van is already so expensive, why not just get a new carseat to go with it, you know?
We got lucky with this couch. I don't think anyone has ever sat on it. And the owner steam cleaned it before we came. I don't even know what that means, but this is one clean couch.
We've been looking for a couch for the playroom for a while now - pretty much since we got off the train in Florida and yet, I just could not justify spending a thousand dollars on a couch for a playroom - or for anywhere really. So we've been sitting around on the floor a lot. And I'm okay with that.
But every once in a while I would take a little craigslist look and see what's going on. The problem is, usually nothing is going on - and I'm so not used to that. In NJ, every craigslist search included NYC and that was always where the motherload was because, - and I know it's wrong of me to gloat - but no one there has any storage space so haha, once city-people don't need their double city-mini stroller anymore, I'm right there waiting to take it off their hands.
Here, in our new city, there aren't as many people. And people have big houses. And big closets. And they seem to be keeping all their stuff. And that kind of doesn't work for me because I still need some kind of table for my front hall. There's nowhere to put your keys or stash your shoes.
Anyway, I digress. I do have a point here. And it's not that the couch got semi- stuck in the sukkah that hasn't come down yet on it's way in through the back doors. My point is that you never know what you're going to get, and you never know how something will work out. Craigslist is really all about taking a chance and we took a chance on the couch and we got lucky. It could have looked terrible in the room, it could have been too big, it could have been awful and we would have had to walk away, but it wasn't.
You have to try or you'll never know.
And that is what I have been trying to teach my art classes these past few weeks.
My students are very focused on their outcomes, which I find to be a terrible thing. They do not at all look at the process as the reward, they don't see that the making of their creations is really where the beauty lies and that is why I find myself continually trying to talk first graders down from the ledge of perfection.
They constantly want to start again.
They don't like one little tiny dot on their page and all of a sudden it's garbage.
I am finding that these kids do not understand what it means to be creative, to look at something that maybe didn't go as planned and try to figure out how to fix it or change course and do something different. Which is why I instituted a new rule in the art room.
(I mean, it's not that big of s surprise, I already gave it away in the title, but here goes:)
I'm not sure it's the right rule and I'm not married to it so I can always change back to letting them try again and again, but I really feel deep down that my students need to learn to look at their work and either go with it as is or change directions - their choice - but they do have to stick with it.
These past few weeks we have been working with watercolor paper and paints. The first week we learned how to write our names in bubble letters, use oil pastels to outline the letters and then watch as the water from the paints and the oil pastels interacted as we painted over the whole sheet of paper.
Last week we learned to draw robots, step by step, only using shapes - and I first saw the project idea here. Then we watercolored around the robots after we colored them with crayons, again watching how the watercolors almost moved away from the crayon wax.
A couple of kids got it. A couple of kids were amazed at how all the different mediums played with each other. And the rest of the kids? All I had were complaints.
Mine isn't perfect.
I need to start over.
I'm so bad at this.
Why do we have to do things we don't know how to do?
Oh my goodness.
I was so sad for my students. So sad that they couldn't see the beauty and the creativity behind every move they make in the art room. It's art, it's not math. There's no one right way to do anything. And you know what, there's no one right way to solve a math problem either, despite what many teachers think but that's a whole other can of worms.
We talked about what the process means, what the end means, and what comes in between. And slowly they started to understand. Very slowly and some kids still do not buy it, but many of them are seeing their work in a new light.
Maybe it was never explained before, but I don't think that's true because they had a great art teacher last year.
I think it might be because kids now - and I sound like such an old lady saying this - but kids are very used to instant gratification. If it's not immediate, they're not interested. If they can't do something the way they think is the right way the first time, then forget it. Why work at something? What's the point? And I see it with my own kids too - if I cannot know how to ride my scooter (shoot a basket, play a board game, whatever) right out of the box, then I'm not doing it. And that kills me because I remember riding my bike up and down my parents' driveway for months before I learned how to ride without training wheels. Months! (Granted, I'm not very coordinated, but I did keep practicing).
And so that's why I have my no do-over rule. I started it two weeks ago with the bubble letters and the kids were horrified. They were slightly less horrified this past week and I'm hoping that once we start our projects this week (wait till they hear that this new project will take three weeks to complete, there's going to be a revolt. What do you mean we can't take it home right now?!) that they will be a little less demanding of themselves. A little more forgiving that their paper doesn't look exactly like their friends.
We'll see, I can only hope.
Here's the scenario: Your six year old has a bookshare coming up.
The topic? A fable.
And the how-to? Choose to make a diorama or puppets to supplement the oral book report.
If you had the choice to construct a shoebox diorama or a couple of puppets, which would you pick? Personally, I'd go for the diorama. And that was the plan.
My first grader chose Frog and Toad: A List by Arnold Lobel as his fable, a great story about two friends, Frog and Toad. The very short version of the story has Toad making a list of things he'd like to accomplish that day. While Frog and Toad are knocking things off the list, namely going for a walk, the list blows away and panic ensues. Toad cannot remember what else is on his list and so cannot go on - with his walk or with his day. And so Frog and Toad sit in the forest until night falls and then they go to sleep, because Toad suddenly remembers that 'go to sleep' was the last thing on the list.
According to my interpretation, the moral of the story is that it's okay to make a list but its also okay to change the list when things go wrong. According to my first grader, it's important to stay inside with your list on a windy day. Both very important lessons.
We were all set to build a diorama on Sunday. His report was due on Monday and um, we had gone away for the weekend. Upstate. To my brother's house. A house with no art supplies, let alone empty shoe boxes sitting around.
So taking a lesson from Frog and Toad, we changed our plans and went with the puppet option. We used huge red Solo plastic cups as the base and paper plates as the tops. Thank goodness for paper goods.
In an ideal world, we would have googled 'Frog and Toad', printed out pictures of those two guys and glued them onto our puppet bases. But again, along with no art supplies, we had no computer and no printer.
Very carefully, because we also had only a couple of paper plates, I drew outlines of Frog and Toad while looking at their pictures in the Frog and Toad book and the little boy colored them in. He also cut them out and glued them onto straws and then told me that he couldn't believe there was so much work to do for a bookshare. We'd been at it for ten minutes by then - so, you can see, it was going well.
We still needed some way to attach the straws to the cups and the only way I could see was to go through the bottoms of the cups. But, man, those Solo cups, they're made of really good, really hard plastic. Only the best paper goods in my brother's house.
You know what I needed? I needed a scissor. I was going to have all the kids stand back and then stab the scissor through the bottom of the cup to make a hole, except haha! The only scissor in the hole house was a kiddie scissor, so really, no one had to stand back.
After many (many) repeated attempts at stabbing the cups, the scissor finally went through and made a hole just large enough to hold the straw in place.
We were good to go.
Now all we had to remember was to bring the project home with us, which really, had we not done one last walk-through of the house before we left, would not have happened. And sadly, these pictures would have been all the little guy had on bookshare day.
Happily though, bookshare day was a great success and the first grade bookshares are officially done! Two kids done with first grade bookshares and two more to go (but I have a year-long break before the next one gets to first grade, so I'm good).
I feel like I should save these puppets for the next kid. Is that wrong?
Are you a Mom?
Of course you are,
your shirt is dirty :)