~rainbow mondays~

playing a little catch-up today after a very busy few weeks of getting the our living school summer program underway… here’s an extra long rainbow monday post!

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red: elderberries everywhere!

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red: i walked up to this crab when quinn and i were tidepooling on saturday morning, wondering if it was dead. as soon as i got near it, it raised up a claw to let me know it was not to be messed with.

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orange: everything is blooming early this year, or i am in more and more denial with each passing year about how quickly summer races by.

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more orange: “red” sea urchin and a swath of some colonial rock-painting orange sea creature.

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still more orange: barnacles growing on an orange-shelled snail who visited the ols summer program for a fun experiment.

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yellow: these lilies aren’t mine, but i sure like them. they were growing at the strawberry farm where we recently picked with good friends.

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green: vine maple is one of the greenest greens i know.

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green: although, green sea anemones give vine maple a run for their money, in their own way.

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green: ok, ok, i can’t decide who wins the green competition.

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blue: during our fabulous week off before summer program got underway, we also had time to spend at the beach with still more good friends. i didn’t even take this picture, i am so surrounded by friends!

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blue: our very own homegrown blueberries; several years of work on our bushes is paying off at last.

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purple: sea urchins aplenty!

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brown: our friendly local elk herd. some of the boys.

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white: seagull feather in a tidepoolPicture 096

pink: the end (sunset on the way home from country fair.)

~rainbow mondays~

a splash of color on monday morning

a photo study documenting the colors of the spectrum: the balance points between light reflected and light absorbed

other posts you may enjoy:

~a month of unschool~

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one of quinn’s favorite learning activities right now is the paleontology card game he got for christmas. “mama, what does e-x-p-e-d-i-t-i-o-n-s spell?” we have been having fun earning “prestige points” for various fossil digging exploits, and arranging bones in our museums. quinn has taken ideas from this game and the “dino quest” game app he plays on my phone and is creating his own board game that utilizes the best of both. stay tuned for more on the game as he works on it!

“millions of brazilians” was a found poem for quinn this month, as he researched the country of brazil for his most recent research project and presentation.

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in his brazil research, quinn covered a wide range of subjects. he colored the brazilian flag; he looked up which dinosaur fossils have been found in brazil; and also which sharks live off its atlantic coast; he researched capoeira, the martial arts form native to brazil, which we learned had developed into a music-and-dance art form out of necessity so that brazilians could continue to practice self defense in spite of portuguese rules that said they could not (but dancing was okay!); the world cup soccer championship will be held this year in brazil, and quinn had fun finding out about fuleco, the mascot, and determined that brazil has won the most world cups of any country (he illustrated this using a bar graph); he looked into the variety of fruit grown in brazil; and oh yeah, does brazil have a president? (it does.) his presentation was fascinating and engaging. he seems to thrive on getting up in front of the class.

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as a side bonus, we got to learn all about a wide range of other countries while other students gave their presentations: italy, hungary, papua new guinea, grenada, ireland, and korea!

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in spanish class, quinn is also learning about mexican history. students learned about and colored in the mexican flag and learned a lot of history through storytelling. also, quinn worked on a project for el dia de los madres in spanish class, and wrote me a message en espanol!

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the students all made self portraits using a cool technique involving doctored photographs of themselves, tracing aided by pencil graphite scribbled on the back of the image, and then painting with india ink. these self portraits decorated the children’s room at the public library for the month of may!

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quinn got to try his first throw on a pottery wheel. he ended up with a beautiful plowl as a result. yes, we are so lucky to have our very own ceramics teacher at ols!

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another of the recent ceramics projects: masks, involving  a lesson on expression using shape and color.

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our community teapot and other group projects (community bowl and flower pot) are glazed! quinn’s contribution to the teapot was the 3 blue birds from angry birds (low on the pot), and i added a hummingbird to the spout.

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very popular in unschooling these days: making his own pokemon cards.

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another intangible can’t-be-categorized-as-math-or-language-arts activity of late: meetings about herbert hoover. there is a whole culture at ols that has developed around herbert hoover, and lately there has also been some conflict around the way that culture is played out. it gave the students a wonderful opportunity to work on the democratic process!

in reading group, quinn has been working on spelling quite a bit. his teacher bonnie used a technique involving tall/small/low boxes for various letters, which i think will help his handwriting as well.

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in math, quinn worked on counting by 4s (and other skip counting, though he has 2s, 5s, and 10s very solid!) and of course, worked on data math via the aforementioned bar graph about world cup wins by various countries. we also had a math game day with different stations including negative space drawing, pattern play (aka tangrams), race for a flat (place value game), and fact families.

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caught him unschooling again with my phone camera, constructing this design with popsicle sticks- he took a picture of each step of the process, and it was cool to see him reach that awareness of wanting to document the steps in the process, in addition to the final product (which he has been in the habit of documenting for some time.)

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at after school program, nutrition has been a focus, and one of the highlights was making veggie vehicles. in science at ols, we learned about the phases of the moon.

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i love showing up to school and having quinn spontaneously join in on creating a puppet show for the early morning free choice time.

quinn has also done quite a bit of dancing this month. while he was researching brazil, he spent the morning free choice time coloring in his world cup visual aids, and from the other room i noticed him bust a move to the african playground mix that was playing, when he would get up to grab colored pencils or other supplies. he also, of course, did some dancing to the heartwood hotel radio show we listen to on tuesday evenings, which i posted video evidence of a little while back. during that evening, we heard the song by perez prado “cherry pink and apple blossom white” after which quinn came up to me and solemnly let me know, “this is a beautiful song.”

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quinn has continued this month with the puppy work. we are still trying to get the very most basic command of “come” with romper.

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baseball has of course been a big deal this month, and we have spent quite a few afternoons in the backyard playing!

by the end of such an action-packed month, it’s no wonder he fell asleep at the dinner table one night!

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other posts you may enjoy:

~rainbow mondays~

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red: water park on the trip to see our pancakes a few weekends ago.

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orange: same park, earlier that day, enjoying a nice ripe peach.

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yellow/pink: the roses are already blooming!

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green: i’ve been loving the light through the ashberry tree at ols.

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blue: bachelor’s buttons from seeds the ols kids planted last fall.

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purple: remnants of the chakra blast “color run” 5k i ran yesterday on the beach!

~rainbow mondays~

a splash of color on monday morning

a photo study documenting the colors of the spectrum: the balance points between light reflected and light absorbed

other posts you may enjoy:

~rainbow mondays~

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red: illuminated columbine

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orange: dragon 1

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yellow: golden chain tree abloom, alight and abuzz

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green: darning needle amid greenery

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blue: dragon 2

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purple: something about these little crab spiders always feels magical and draws me in. this time, found on a chive flower flaunting some purple streaks.

~rainbow mondays~

a splash of color on monday morning

a photo study documenting the colors of the spectrum: the balance points between light reflected and light absorbed

other posts you may enjoy:

~this moment~

video moment… i love it when he faces the stereo when public radio puts on good music in the evenings and busts a move!

~a friday ritual~

a photo capturing a moment from the week.

a simple, special moment.

a moment i want to pause, savor and remember

other posts you may enjoy:

~rainbow mondays~

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red: photography playtime with the heart bokeh and the rhodies.

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orange: backyard moth.

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yellow: probably my favorite rhodie, a peachy yellow. but it’s hard to pick a favorite!

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green: those eyes! i don’t often get a good shot of their color, but the overhead projector caught him just right, on friday when he was doing his country presentation on brazil.


blue: out of focus phone photo of cuteness.

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purple: lupines on the garden’s edge.

~rainbow mondays~

a splash of color on monday morning

a photo study documenting the colors of the spectrum: the balance points between light reflected and light absorbed

other posts you may enjoy:

practically impractical

i’ve known since february that i would be concluding my position as site coordinator of the after school program in june, but have been quiet, not wanting to give the impression i would be phoning it in for the rest of the year. with under a month to go, i feel good about the program’s status, which began with nothing, not even a kickball or an extension cord, and is now a fully functioning program that is measurably helping students. the past few months have been a blur of academic enrichment: a tie dye chemistry unit, an incan agriculture terrarium, humanely raised farm animals who came for a visit. coming up, ceramics with a side of emotional awareness, fish printing, and of course, more science. i began posting a blog for my program, cvhafterschool.wordpress.com and as you might imagine, i do not pose as a conventional schooling advocate there. i pepper each post with words like kinesthetic and sensory diet hoping in some small way to open someone’s mind to thinking outside the box in education.

in spite of my certainty that i have had a positive impact on at least a handful of young people, i have also struggled to keep my spirits up in the public school setting. i knew at the outset that it wasn’t where my, um, unique blend of talents could be best utilized. luckily, joyfully, i have found the place where they can! i am going to be officially employed by our living school beginning in june to facilitate the summer program, and continue my role there as science teacher in the fall, with the added twist of standing in as head teacher several days a week. this will free up our actual head teacher more to do the administrative work necessary to move this amazing school onward and upward towards the goal of being in a free-standing facility as soon as fall 2015, the year we grow to include grades K-6. as underqualified as i feel to be “head” anything, i am also completely in love with this job, and if i do say so myself, i happen to have accumulated a highly specialized skill set that i couldn’t have planned better if i had planned for it. up until recently i never did plan to be a teacher, but if i had a conventional education degree, my new boss would not have considered that an asset. i am glad to be taking such a large role in actually building this school in which i so ardently believe, and it’s nice to know how much i am believed in, in turn, for the hodgepodge of strengths i am able to contribute. wanted: progressive-minded nurturing kid-person with skills in non-violent communication, yoga, arts and crafts, sewing, gardening, scientific inquiry. multi-tasker. must be able to play the guitar and tell firsthand stories about farming and sailing the high seas. photography and writing skills a plus…..

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one of my ols students made this world map while i was teaching about the moon phases the other day…

i know there are many ways to be the change one wants to see in the world, and in education, one way is to work from within “the system”. but that doesn’t seem like the best way for me. changing the system from within feels to me like performing surgery on a metastasized malignancy from the inside; whereas being a part of a team effort to build a thriving educational setting from the ground up feels empowering and, well, plausible.

at night, i put rich to sleep with the blah blah blah of my process around these matters. he and i have been spending our third year together in our usual ways. driving through the valley of hazelnuts and hawks to visit our pancakes, or to buy me a new serger for my birthday. babysitting our granddaughters, a feat he would not attempt without me; lulling a one year old back to sleep after midnight falls squarely in my department in the division of labor. on the way home, stopping at a favorite bakery where he chooses three desserts, the exact three i would have chosen if i knew how to indulge. he is teaching me. watching chick flicks he rents with titles like “the big wedding” (he swears it is only for my benefit since i won’t watch violence, but i am just as fervent in my belief that he is obsessed with engagement and marriage, only he won’t admit it). laying down to sleep again, making each other laugh. i recently played the fleetwood mac reunion cd i’ve had since college, and realized i need to put some of those songs on the next lovebird mix cd, because “i wanna be with you everywhere” and “you make loving fun” are both good ways to sum up our relationship. before drifting off, i perform my blah blah blah ing, at his request, because according to him my voice is soothing. briefly i inhabit a horrible dream involving some shady music lessons with an ex-girlfriend and a hot mud bath into which i was not invited, and wake up to retell it to him, realizing its absurdity when it occurs to me that 1) rich and music lessons- never gonna happen and 2) not invite me?! he would never pass up the opportunity to throw me in a hot mud bath. p.s. do hot mud baths even exist? he laughs with me, ever so gentle with my insecurity that only rears its head in dreamland because it has no reason to surface in real life.

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cretaegus monogyna or hawthorn, of a red-flowered variety

i put on my purple shoes, and walk out into another day. buying myself a pair of purple shoes was almost like indulging in something impractical, except that judging by the empty space where the heels should be on my previous pair of shoes, this purchase was a year overdue, and also, purple is a neutral color in my wardrobe. plus, they were the only ones in my size at the sale price.

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speaking of practicality, rich announced to me one day that i am practically his fiance (which happened to come up over the utterly unromantic topic of the child support my coparent is absurdly attempting to collect.) ever since then, the word “practically” launches us into fiance banter every time, which usually ends up with him shaking his head and trying to give me a blank look saying, “i don’t know what you’re talking about.” (save the act for community theater, buddy.) at the intersection where we emerge from our wilderness home onto the coastal highway, there is a state park that is slated to have a campground installed. this is a recent development, and we were discussing the merits of tent sites and yurts, when i chimed in that yurts will be perfect for all of our family and friends to stay in when they come for our wedding.

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“well, that’ll be a long engagement then!” he said, before he could catch himself. i pointed out that not knowing the time frame of yurt installation and having even less knowledge, if possible, of the timeline of our becoming engaged, i was unable to form an opinion on the engagement duration, but by that time he was back to, “i have no idea what you’re talking about.”

when i’ve tried to engage him (yuk yuk) in a discussion of where we should go on our honeymoon, he alternates between feigning ignorance and making suggestions along a (thoroughly unacceptable) skydiving theme- “honey, our song could be fly like an eagle”, “we’d be just like two hawks”, “it would be so romantic- putting our ultimate trust in each other as i pull the cord on your parachute and you pull mine…”

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or, he suggests, we could just go to pittsburgh for a steelers game. huck it, chuck it, football.

i don’t know what he’s talking about.

other posts you may enjoy:

~rainbow mondays~

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red: rhodie made more vivid by the presence of this little creature.

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orange: interspecies bonding

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yellow: bolting kale with rainbow blur of rhodies in the background

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green: brand new baby kale at the other end of its life cycle

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blue: ceramics on friday – quinn’s first try on the pottery wheel!

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purple: spring deliciousness

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brown: toddler toes deliciousness

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gray: nearly finished “plowl” (plate/bowl) by quinn

~rainbow mondays~

a splash of color on monday morning

a photo study documenting the colors of the spectrum: the balance points between light reflected and light absorbed

other posts you may enjoy:

~this moment~

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~a friday ritual~

a photo capturing a moment from the week.

a simple, special moment.

a moment i want to pause, savor and remember

other posts you may enjoy:

~a month of unschool~

the beginning of the month was spring break, featuring unschooling in its rawest form (you know, without going to school), which i wrote about in spring break in the age of reason.

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pictured here are some writing he was doing using 3-finger grip (he was creating sequels to some books from his reading class) and some other assignments he tackled of his own choosing.

back in school, we did our one and only set of assessments for the year, and we did not do them using any sort of exam structure. it was interesting to realize there are a few things we forget to cover (those >< symbols in math for greater than, less than, for example), and while sometimes it’s helpful (we decide to go ahead and cover them), other times it feels more like an opportunity to decide if it’s really something worth covering, or whether it needs to come up in a contrived way, rather than just letting it come when it is pertinent. yet another reason to love ols! quinn completed both a math and a language arts assessment, and seems to be right on grade level in both, for whatever that is worth.

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quinn checked out a stack of early readers from the library – one of the favorites was dinosaur time, by arnold lobel, and another little series called detective dinosaur. in keeping with his need for fresh material that isn’t already memorized (in order to actually practice reading), he read them each forward and read some backwards, too.

also in language arts, we began a poetry unit at ols, and worked on long vowel sounds.

in his spanish lessons, quinn learned the song la araña pequeñita (aka the itsy-bitsy spider) and learned the names of los animales.

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science was focused on rocks and minerals this month, by popular vote. we made a geology layer cake together as a group, and talked about the way the earth’s crust is formed, and how old the various layers are. we also watched bill nye’s episode on the earth’s crust.

math was focused mainly on the assessment, but we also played the game race for a flat, which helps with learning place value. interlox makes a pretty handy set of units/rods/flats for this, and the game is in their manual.

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in art, we practiced still life drawing for several lessons. we also got to take a tour of toledo clayworks, where our ceramics work has been traveling for firing all year. this was a wonderful trip, and the kids got to see their community-made teapot and begin work on glazing it; they studied the making of textures, extruding clay, saw a pot-throwing demonstration on the wheel, and got to visit the kiln.

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it was fun to see the students’ work on the same shelves with professional pieces. quinn’s leonardo cup (his second of his set of 4 ninja turtle slab cups planned) is shown here on the “finished” shelf. i think whoever made the head/gears sculpture above attended school somewhere like ols…

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after the clayworks tour, we had a picnic in the park. some of the kids, including quinn, couldn’t eat right away because they were too caught up in the merry-go-round.

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also this month we had an egg hunt, after studying the history behind easter and ostara. we also had a wonderful family-filled earth day celebration.

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here is quinn doing his part to care for the school, raking the rubber mulch under the play structure to level it out.

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he made this awesome tie dye shirt at after school program. he chose such a cool design, don’t you think? he even got a ruler out to measure it out precisely how he wanted it to look!

quinn has also been getting more and more comfortable with dogs, including hershey at ols, and has taken an interest in working with romper, the chihuahua we have been long-term babysitting.

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all in all, another delightful month!

other posts you may enjoy: