Saturday, January 24, 2009

Artistic Geometry

Geometry is our favorite form of math. Through drawing and building, we experience geometry in different, artistic ways.

The two older kids and Mommy each create a drawing, following the book Artistic Geometry by John Miles. We are learning lines, angles, circles, bi-secting angles, and a variety of polygrams. Shading colors into the angles with our Lyra colored pencils (we purchase these at Great Forest Toys in Fair Oaks, CA) brings the shapes to life!

We tend to stay away from plastic materials, however, we came across two wonderful products at the HSC conference in Sacramento last year. Zometools connect lines into spheres at different angles. We create different polygons and stellations with our Zometools. Here is a picture of Ricky's stellated dodecahedron inside of an icosahedron.
Tubespace are slim tubes that bend and connect into the 5 polyhedra and other shapes. They also glow in the dark!

Folding Circles books are some of our favorite home-learning resources. We fold circles into tetrahedrons, octahedrons and other shapes. Then, we tape or bobby pin shapes together into larger shapes. As the seasons change, we use different colors of circular paper (we buy this at Rudolph Steiner College bookstore) and then our creations become part of our learning environment for a few months. You can see pictures here of our folding circles from autumn hanging from the lamp along with some origami birds, and our current octahedron creations for the winter.

Winter brings snow...or at least in some parts of the world! Although we live about an hour from the snow-capped Sierra mountains, we decided to bring "snow" into our home by making symmetrical snowflakes for our windows out of winter colors. We used kite paper from Rudolph Steiner College bookstore. Gluing smaller versions of the snowflakes onto glass jars, we lit some beeswax candles and watched the beautiful shapes glow in the candlelight!

Speaking of kite of our latest geometrical adventures is folding window stars. One of our family Christmas gifts was a lovely book, Stars and Flowers Window Transparencies by Frederique Gueret.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Natural Dyeing

We learned to dye fibers naturally with plants a few years ago at the Griffin Dyeworks Dye & Fiber Retreat in Castaic, CA. What fun! Camping, pots of steaming dyes, people spinning and weaving, crocheting and knitting...kumihimo, lucet, Viking whipcord braiding, felting...fiber arts and fun! We definitely will be going to the retreat again this year (it's in May).

Natural dyeing is a wonderful way to use what nature provides while creating a rainbow of beautiful colors! We have dyed yarns, fiber and fabric with indigo, brazilwood, kamala, onion skins, berries, walnut shells, lichens, and more. During the 2007 retreat, we dyed a variety of our handspun and other wool yarns with natural dyes, brought them home, and then wove the yarns as a family into a beautiful table runner.

At home, we dye simply with herbs, plants, fruits and roots. This week, we dyed silk play scarves, silk ribbon, silk cord and wool yarn with tumeric (vibrant yellow), brazilwood (orange), and blueberries (blue/indigo). The brazilwood batch was initially red, and then we added a bit of vinegar to set the color and the batch turned a lovely light orange! Sometimes the color surprises that occur are the most fun. The blueberries dyed very well this time. What a treat! We've decided to share some of our dyed objects in our Syrendell Etsy shop. The rest are either serving as capes or forts or decorations around the house.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Painting and Color

We love color! Daddy is a visual and graphic artist, and Mommy is a fiber artist, so we play with color quite a bit at Syrendell.

During Circle Time, Daddy did a fun lesson on the color wheel and we each made our own wheel.
We did wet-on-wet watercolor painting with Mommy, first yellow, then red, blending into orange. Another day was yellow, then blue into green. We use brushes and Stockmar paints that we bought at Steiner College Bookstore.
We looked at fruit and other items in the house of each color we were going to paint. We listened to stories about colors from the Waldorf School Online watercolor e-book.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Circle Time!

Hey, hey let's start the day

Sitting in a circle

Hey, hey what do you say

Let's start the day in a circle...

Circle time is a precious opportunity for the 4 of us (or 5 if Daddy is home!) to be together. We do this on Mondays and Fridays after breakfast. Starting off with our "Circle Time" song that the kids composed, we sing, play guitar or piano, and sometimes throw bean bags to the beat!

Circle time may include yoga stretching, reading stories (fairy tales, folk tales, myths) that go with the current season, holiday or S.S. theme, singing/movement songs, bean bag throwing while counting by different numbers, and singing the calendar song. On Mondays, we also talk about the upcoming week and we create a poem together. We type up the poem, print it out, and then use pastels to decorate it. On Fridays, we do form drawing to a story first on chalkboards, then on paper with crayons. We also play geography ball, throwing the inflatable globe around and asking each other to find continents and countries. About every other week, we do a drum circle at the end of Friday's circle time.

Circle time occurs in the living room. We sit around one of our naturally-dyed cloths or silks. On the cloth we'll have tree blocks, yarn, wood puzzles and bean bags out. This keeps fingers busy (especially for the 5 year-old!), when needed. Sometimes, we meditate or just close our eyes and focus on something positive. Some weeks, we talk about what we enjoy doing, and give each other praise, or say a nice comment to each other. It's a wonderful time to bond, plan, evaluate, experience the arts and bring a sense of opening, and then closing to each home-learning week. Feel free to use our circle time song!