Saturday, December 6, 2014

This week in immersive learning: Theoretically December?

Well, welcome to December!...uh, I think?  

Someone forgot to tell the weather that it is almost time for the midwinter holidays... We have spent a LOT of time outdoors, no bundled...We're trying to fully enjoy it while we can, but it also feels kinda uncanny and a little unnerving...but I've been trying to prioritize outdoor time over indoor instruction since we don't know how much longer we'll be able to enjoy being outside for big chunks of time.

Hazel practicing moving from wobbly-thing to wobbly-thing

This week was the big show at the Alzheimer's home.  We took advantage of the lovely weather to meet and rehearse in a lawn across from the facility before we went inside, so we got to run through the entire thing a couple of times to make sure it was fresh in our bodies before heading in.  It was lovely, one of the kids in our group is an accomplished violinist, and he bookended the performance with some beautiful music.  The show itself went splendidly, the kids had a blast and the audience seemed delighted.  Afterwards, everyone came together to sing 'Jingle Bells', and there was much laughter.  It ran a bit short, so Cadence volunteered to recite a shel silverstein poem she had memorized, and she did so with ease and grace, and everyone loved it.  I was so proud of the kids!

It was also a great opportunity to talk to the kids about alzheimer's, and aging in general, and why these folks were living there.  We prepared them ahead of time to be understanding if their audience behaved in a manner that would be considered strange for adults, and I was very proud to see that everyone in our group interacted with and treated our hosts with the utmost respect.

The hardest part for me was the emotions that bubbled up when one VERY enthusiastic and excited woman in the front row continually singled out my kids from the crowd and shouted (not in a mean way, she was attempting to be friendly) "DO YOU LOVE YOUR NANA?" over and over and over again..."Nana" was the term my mom wanted the kids to call her, and having this woman fixate on that obviously made me think of her. It reminded me of how Alzheimers was my mom's worst fear, and the very bittersweet thought that she will never be old, she will never deal with that particular horror, and I will never be faced with the choice of putting her in a home such as this...I was grateful all over again for having had the ability to care for my mom at home, but of course I miss her so much, and she was so young...The kids told me later that similar internal reactions to this incident, each tailored to their own memories and emotional journeys.  I am so grateful that they are able to talk about these hard subjects, and also very proud that even with the internal pangs, they were able to treat this woman with respect and keep a calm, grounded perspective until we left.

And of course, when we did leave, we all headed to a nearby playground to run out all the adrenaline!  (also it was like 70 degrees...what??)

Holiday dress on the right...Cadence opting for bike shorts because her dress was too hot, on the left. December??
While we were there, Hazel made friends with a little girl her age, and they played so well together that we stayed well past our scheduled exit time.  Socializing is so important to being able to grow up and operate in society, so I count that as a priority, too.
They really liked this stone turtle.
Cadence has continued the revisions on her lego plane, making it more complex with each new pass.  She is increasingly excited by her progress, but still doesn't feel that she is anywhere near completion of the project.

It has become a tradition in our family to do a sort of advent calendar, where each day we take on a new winter-themed craft.  It's a lot of work, but a lot of fun!  I'll just hit on a few of our projects here:

The idea here was to make puff paint by mixing shaving cream with elmer's glue and then using beading stones to add detail.  After drying, you should be able to peel your creations off of the tin foil and then use them as window stickers.

Unfortunately, I evidently grabbed shaving GEL instead of shaving CREAM, and the results were a hilarious blue mess. I wasn't home for the actual creation, James took on that task and was the one to discover my mistake, but they decided to press on anyhow as a sort of experiment.

Strangely, the paint did end up getting sort of puffy after they stopped messing with it...but I failed to get a picture before they discovered the gel-like puffy texture and tore them apart in a sensory experiential flurry of destruction.  Sorry snowmen! No window stickers, but a lot of fun and cool experimentation with the properties and chemical reactions of different substances.

This project worked out exponentially more flawlessly.  For this one, we used construction paper and wrapping paper (and a little bit of masking tape) to decorate our front door, and turn it into a snowman!

The kids really took the lead on this once I explained the concept.  The designed, cut, and taped everything they could reach (though I helped a tiny bit with the scarf design and reminded them to think about scale when cutting out the carrot nose.)  I lifted them so they could do the bits they couldn't quite get to on their own. the result was really cute!

They enjoyed that one so much they decided to revisit it the next day, and added arms, feet, and the little puffball of a floppy, santa-like hat (I think the window is supposed to be the hat).

This one was a little more chemistry based.  Crystal structures!  Yay!  

For this project, we made a solution of borax and water, and then poured it into several different jars.  We made snowflakes out of pipe cleaners, and then used pencils and string left over from our halloween bat project to suspend our pipe-cleaner snowflakes in the borax solution.  When we revisited them many hours later, crystals had formed on the strands of the pipe cleaner, making shiny, sparkly snowflakes that evoked the idea of real ice!  

These will likely end up being tree ornaments, though they are surprisingly heavy!  

Crystals even formed on the fine hairs of the string!

Kelly was here for this one, and she tried it out with a colored pipe-cleaner.  While perhaps slightly less evocative of a quintessential winter, it looks really cool!

This one happened to be in the bottom of the pot we had used to make the solution...since the crystals were also creeping along the floor, this one has large, flat proportions where it had at one time connected cleaner to floor. it was really cool to look at & explore!

Lastly, I realized that I haven't been including very much of the digital artwork these kids have been creating non-stop!  This little experimentation with color showed up in my photo gallery, so I'm not sure which of the three created it, but I thought it merited sharing anyway, to represent the class of kids' work that I all to often neglect to include here.

So...onward into winter we go! HEAVE HO!