Chicken sitting

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This week we are chicken sitting, and we are just loving having a couple of bantam hens in the back garden eating bugs and wandering around. We have a makeshift cage out the back made out of a dog run, and they come inside at night time, just to be safe away from those criminals of the night – the racoons. I have heard some horror stories or racoons and chickens, not good at all. This little cutie is Nova, and she belongs to another friend in the chicken project, so we are taking extra care of her.

Sunday we met our friends from Oakland in the San Francisco Botanical Gardens and I just love this place. Unfortunately, it was full of people looking at their phones participating in a worldwide Pokemon Go tournament. So we walked carefully on the paths making sure we did not run into the Pokemon Go peeps not paying attention to where they were going.

Our first stop in the garden was the Austalia and New Zealand section of plants, and it was like being at home, so we added a lyrebird sound effect to make it seem like we were back in Oz. The ferns were amazing, and the Lilly pilly (bottom centre picture) was in bloom, and they looked delicious and apparently they can be eaten! It really made me homesick and being among native flora really makes you feel like you are there.

We wandered over to the neighbours across the meadow to find a wonderous redwood grove, and it felt just like hiking in the redwoods. The redwood sorrel was in full bloom after all the rain, and the meadow nearby was filled with little white daisy-like flowers.

We kept on coming back to the Australian section each time finding something new like the native Holly which was funny. The kids said look, Holly, this is you! Plus we saw old man Banksia in its stages of growth with its spiky leaves.

The kids were hanging for ice cream as the botanical garden was not as exciting for them as it was for the adults. We then found the twirl and dip ice cream truck across the way and went on over to the Shakespeare garden for an afternoon of flowers and sonnets, it makes me want to read some Shakespeare in my spare time.

Back at school/work today and the kids in the kindergarten class are ready for their next project – bees! It is going to be super exciting with their first exploration of drawing their impression of what a bee looks like to them in their art class this afternoon.

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Later in the afternoon, I wandered over to City Hall to check out the art exhibition from our Arts Focus kids, and I found Ms Hollys beautiful tapestry purse. I will have to find out how she made this little beauty!

Arts and writing

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A week of seeing such beauty unfold with the children’s art projects that they made for Back to School night last Thursday. The previous week we planned projects for the parents to work on for their kiddos, another writing project.  But we had to get some interesting writing and art up on the wall by the children to show their parents 😀 They may look like shot glasses, but the glasses are filled with liquid watercolor ready for a watercolor wash over the top of a crayon drawing.

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The project was inspired by the book Quick as a Cricket where we read the book to the kids, and we brainstormed some adjectives and animals for their own “power animal pose.” The plan was to write their animal such as, Cute as a Bunny or Playful as a Dolphin on their lined paper and then draw their animal with crayon on the watercolor paper and cover the background with a watercolor wash which is so vibrant. While they were making I was calling the kids outside to pose so we could place them on their picture – it was such a great idea from my co-teacher to take their photo to add to the final artwork.

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We had a lot of fun during Story Workshop finding inspiring ideas for stories where the kids will create little scenes with blocks, animals, natures, found objects and make a dry collage to find ideas to write. Some children even paint, and eventually, the watercolor will be made into a background for a story or however they want to use it.

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The Arts Specialist at our school creates some incredibly simple though powerful pieces this using tissue paper glued on rolled out paper by the meter to make a huge mural of color with the Provocation what do you know about art? It looks so good hanging around the school with so much color.

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This is Alex a massive ball of finger knitting that lives in the 4th-grade bunk bed! To imagine the size of this yarn ball, it is sitting on a single sized bed!

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Our math this week was looking at Jo Boellers YouCubed Maths resources which were fun and interactive for the kiddos, and they really enjoyed the Growth Mindset videos.

Other math fun is so much fun with a manipulative that is so accessible – a deck of cards! Here are a couple of games we played last week.

Salute – One deck of cards and at least 3 players. One player is the General who makes the combinations. The other two players each take a card and, without looking, flip it up on their forehead (it took me a couple of tries to get that!). The General adds the numbers together and says the sum. The other players have to quickly figure out the equation that made the sum. The first to say the correct equation takes both cards (i.e., 10 +8 = 18, my card is 10). You can play with addition, subtraction, multiplication, etc.

Spiral – With one full deck of cards you create a spiral on the table starting from the middle and working outward (cards facing up). Jack = 11, Queen = 12, King = 13, Ace = 1. Each player has a pawn on the middle card of the spiral. Taking turns rolling a dice and moving forward that many spaces. To stay on that spot you land on, you need to say the number sentence of the card and number you rolled (i.e., 5 +11 = 16). If you say it incorrectly, you go back to your previous spot. Bonus rules: doubles = if you roll the same number you land on, you get another turn/bump = if you land on the same spot as another player, you bump them back to start.

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The end of the week we had Back to School night, so we were busy prepping a story project for the parents. The children wrote the beginning and drew a picture then the parents would write the middle of the story and draw a picture and this week coming up the kids will see what their parents have written to complete the end. The kids were so excited to see what their parents had written, but we had to keep it until all the parents had completed their writing so the kids can see them all together in a group. Unfortunately, we had two families who did not come to Back to School night, but life happens!

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Thursday was also the night when the heat arrived, and it stayed with us until Sunday. The temperature on Friday was 42 degrees Celsius, and it was exhausting in the classroom with no air conditioning – there are just two fans in the class, and there was no breeze either so it was super draining and uncomfortable! Still, we just did low key activities like writing and planning stories and finished the week off with a popsicle to cool off.

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The long weekend was an excellent time to relax but not for me! I had to start my Sustainability Report for a fictionized school in 2020 full of references and written in APA style. I had a 7:30 am yoga class Saturday as it was too hot to sleep. After yoga, I came home and got to work for the rest of the day, and lucky my neighbor dropped over a fan to cool down as the house was closed up tight to keep the cool in but the upstairs was as hot as ever! So I got my report off in an excellent direction, and I still need to write another 2,500 words, but I now have a plan which is such a good thing.

Sunday I went for an early bike ride and caught the sun behind the clouds and the haze. Riding really helps with getting my mind clear and think about how I am going to deal with the report and everything else coming my way this week. Lucky with the advice of my co-teacher I have bought a planner so I can keep track of my work, volunteer gigs, school, and family. It really helps to see and plan my week ahead as well as have it on my calendar on my phone – so much to plan for the next 6 months, but it is all good and all exciting!

A piece a week – A painting for Spring Break

My plan for the kids spring break was to relax and do a bunch of art activities… instead of art activities  there were activities mostly outside catching up with friends at Shroup Park, Picchetti Ranch, Cantor Arts and Rancho San Antonio – the weather was superb! That was pretty much a trip out every day plus time at our local park to play too! The only art activity we did manage to do was when we had a couple of hours spare before we went out to the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford.

I had a plan as the week before I went to see the Georgia O’Keefe exhibition on Friday for my birthday with my hubby and was inspired to get some creative exercises happening with the kiddos. I had found a couple of photographs and the kids chose one to use in the paintings. The idea was to paint the whole canvas and paint everything big! Well, as it turned out both kids enjoyed the tulip element and incorporated it into their painting in a big landscape. So this is what I have now on the walls of my stairwell.

My painting from the picture

My daughters interpretation

My sons interpretation – adding a Minecraft creeper underground

Our paintings together!

It was a lot of fun and was completed in a couple of hours and we were out in time for when the Cantor Arts Museum opened. The fun thing about the museum is that when we arrived the lady at the front desk asked the kids if they wanted an art pack! I had no idea that they encouraged the kiddos to have a fun time drawing while they were observing art so that was an added bonus to our morning out. The kids were going to each room and finding a piece of art that they would draw and focus on, it was so much fun to watch them too while I was enjoying the art myself. At the end of our trip through the Cantor, the kids received card stock mount boards for their artwork to put on their wall at home and of course they could not wait to hang their drawings up!

Checking out Sequence by Richard Serra
My favorite place in the Cantor – the Native American arts

The Cantor to me was the highlight of the week though we had a lot of fun at Shroup Park, Picchetti Ranch and Rancho San Antonio. The trip to Deer Hollow farm is always a pleasure and this time with the spring babies it was even more so!

A baby lamb out on the pasture
The neighbors and my kiddos in the tree hollow at Rancho San Antonio