Wednesday, October 17, 2012

ART PROJECT: Day of the Dead Metalwork

 A friend and I alternate teaching a once-a-month art class to 10 homeschool children ages 8 - 12 (funny thing - this is only 3 families, including my own).  This month I thought it would be fun to do something spook-inspired in honor of Halloween, but I feel like we've done so much traditional Halloween art that I thought investigating a different culture might be fun.  As such, I searched around and found a very cool project over at Dick Blick - Day of the Dead Triptychs.  I knew that in the time given there was no way the kids would be able to complete all three panels. My goal was that they each fully complete one panel, hopefully two - and they did. In the two hours allotted, each child was able to complete a completely metal-and-paint panel and one with a paper maché skull.  We were also able to incorporate a quick Day of the Dead lesson (though shamefully I forgot my laptop on which I'd created, if I do say so myself, a pretty awesome power point presentation that included many pictures of beautiful DoD artwork) and a snack of pan de los muertos, baked (and completely veganized) by my friend. I combined my children's creations to make triptychs (and one bi-panel) and we're using these to decorate our home.
If you want to give these a go you should know that the panels were fairly inexpensive, though mostly because I bought in bulk (just don't tell my husband!) to bring the cost down and used paint & tools I already owned.  I figured it cost approximately $1.50 per panel, maybe a little more but close enough.  If you don't buy in bulk the cost will probably at least double. And if you don't have metal embossing tools you'll either need to buy them or go without. The kids actually used the blunt end of paintbrushes to do most of the work, but I also have some tools (a crimper, stampers, etc.) that they were able to work with.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


My oldest daughter is learning about the French Revolution and the Fete de l'opinion, the festival day in which the people were free to criticize their rulers, without fear of punishment, "in the form of songs, caricatures, and ironic and sarcastic speeches." (Thank you Wikipedia for a succinct definition - mine would have been 2 pages long.)  To experience this properly, I told her to pick something - a rule or condition in our home - with which she disagrees and either write a song or draw something to express her opinion against "the standing reign." 

She chose to express her disagreement with our "no iPhones or iPod Touches for children" policy.  Here is the cartoon she designed.... I think she did a great job, and I know she had a lot of fun with this project. =)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Homeschool Group Blues

It's an election year. Sigh. This should have absolutely nothing to do with homeschool groups and homeschool e-lists (e.g., Yahoo groups) but it does. If ever the old axiom warning not to discuss religion and politics should be followed, I believe it should be followed on "open" homeschool lists.  There is nothing more polarizing than posts which promote one point of view without providing the opportunity for discussion.  And therein lies the rub - discussion is not allowed. If you do not agree with the majority, you are attacked and belittled.  To me, this is bogus. It's not the way I operate and it is not the way I want my children to operate.  

Most groups I'm on claim to be "inclusive" and the moderators express a desire to have discussions focus on homeschooling only. While some moderators do a great job of quelling sparks before they flame, others seem to content to allow arguments to flare into a widespread conflagration.  Additionally, many of the posters are downright rude, derogatory, and mean. For example, one writer on a list to which I subscribe wrote (and I'll summarize here because the original spelling and grammar are hard to follow) that we are not fulfilling our god-given parental duty if we listen to the lies of mainstream media because the current administration is out to get rid of homeschooling and if we don't take movies like this one, which according to her is (and here I'll quote) "teaching fact over opinion and these facts are about, say, 1000% more accurate" we are idiots and not good parents.

Nice. Way to keep it neutral and inclusive.

It's sad because it ostracizes members of the group and leads to hard feelings all around.  When one member on the list involved in the above "discussion" asked if we could keep the list about homeschooling she was slammed.  It was ridiculous. 

I did contact the moderators and I publicly supported the "vote" to take politics and religion off the boards, but nothing has changed. So I'm left wondering if I should just leave the group? Or is that the wrong thing to do?  If the group advertised itself as a conservative, close-minded message board in which you should agree the majority philosophy before signing on this would not be an issue because everyone joining would know what he or she is in for.  I think it's the proclamation of "inclusive and open to all homeschoolers, regardless of beliefs" that really ticks me off.  There are many "real-life" groups which require a signed statement of faith, creed, etc., and you either agree you are that thing or you agree to agree that the group promotes it (i.e., you go along).  And I say great! Fine! I don't want to sign such a thing, so I don't join. I know where I stand. But to say "all are welcome" and then go after anyone who doesn't fit a certain mold... it's just wrong.

Even more depressing - most of the groups I am on or have been on in the past have the same overall problem.  Sigh. 

I just don't understand the need to attack each other.  So many times I hear things in the homeschool community that blow my mind. Things I cannot believe people actually say out loud.  And I don't attack the person for her belief. What's the point? Not only is it not going anywhere, it's rude! It's the same with these ridiculous posts - one side or the other isn't going to change the mind of the other poster.  Why attack? It's bad form, and it's a bad example for your children.

Okay, off my soapbox. Back to school.