Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Art Inspiration

We've been going through old art books we had collected over the years with pull-out fine art prints. It's become a favourite activity to go through a stack of them and each select a classic painting. Discussions are interesting during the selection, talking about why we like some pictures better than others, what makes them compelling, and how they might inspire us to create something interesting. Once they've selected, they fasten the picture to a large blank sheet and draw something of their own, inspired by the picture.

Each time we give them a few questions to answer about the process, and discuss the finished work. They've really enjoyed it, and we plan to make it a regular thing. So far they've each done four (some of Ivy's -- 1, 2, 3 -- and Ella's -- 1, 2, 3), with a bit of the process captured in this quick video:

Girl Guides

Ivy and Ella joined Girl Guides this fall. They are enjoying all aspects of the program so far.

Ivy is a Brownie. Last week she researched a project called "Symbols of Canada" which was presented to visiting Guiders from England. Ivy had an opportunity to go camping with her group and learned new games, practiced a skit and participated in chores.

Ivy sold cookies as part of her membership responsibilities and worked hard on her math so she could give correct change. She learned the relative values of coins and small bills. She used addition to find out how much multiple boxes would cost and subtraction to figure out change. We counted the money several times during the sales period to make sure the sold boxes balanced with the cash.

Ella is a Spark and the focus has been on learning to be a good friend. She has enjoyed playing new games and is beginning to make friends with the other girls.


Ivy loves making baking soda volcanoes. We've experimented with using liquids other than vinegar to see if it still works (no!). The last volcano was made using a toilet paper roll with a "skirt" around it to make it look more authentic. Ivy also thought of adding food colouring to the vinegar to make the lava pink.


The girls have been helping me out with baking and they especially enjoy being in charge of pancakes in the mornings. They are both reading recipes, finding ingredients, measuring, mixing and frying the pancakes. Ella needs some assistance but Ivy can do this almost independently (with supervision!).

Planet Earth

While we were getting into the swing of home learning the Planet Earth videos arrived from the library. We decided to take advantage of the time that we had them and use them for science/down time. The girls drew a picture and made a few notes on the things they found most amazing in each episode. Here is a summary of the series.

Journals are included in portfolios.

Spiderwicks Art

Ivy is a huge fan of Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide, by Tony DiTerlizzi. She drew several pictures of creatures in the book and submitted them to a contest on his website last June. This fall, both she and Ella decided to draw new pictures and mail them to him. They have both received autographed drawings and letters in return from Mr. DiTerlizzi and were thrilled.

Ella's Field Piskie:

Ivy's Leprechaun:

Scavenger Hunt

We did a scavenger hunt in the bird sanctuary. The girls hunted for items such as bugs, leaves and beautiful things. Ella's highlight was finding a "water-skater" bug and Ivy found an interesting "termite stick".

Origami Boats

In early fall we made an origami style paper boat. On one of our first sunny days of school we printed off instructions, packed some paper and headed down to a local beach with a stream. We made a few boats and watched them run the "rapids". We learned that they are useless once they've capsized but if they do well, they could manage up to three runs before they were soaked. It was fun to speculate about why they stopped in certain places or went backwards at times. We also learned that I cannot hold a baby, video, and save boats from being washed out to sea all at the same time. The video suffered but the baby and boat were fine - although both a bit soggy.


In fall we did a worm relocation mission. Our compost bin is packed with happy worms. The mission for the girls was to redistribute some worms into the various garden boxes. We followed up on the internet and figured out the basics of how worms actually break down food.

AIM Gifted Program

Ivy is part of the district gifted program called AIM at the Summerland Secondary School. She attends one afternoon per week. A summary of topics covered and pictures of artwork are posted here.


We're looking forward to traveling with the kids this year. We went to Tofino earlier in October and the girls had a blast. They poked around in tidal pools, dug in the sand and enjoyed the adventure of it all. They did some good journals and maps that will be included with their paper portfolios. We took lots of photos!

Books and Reading

We're avid users of the Summerland Library, cycling through at least 10-20 kids' books a week and almost always having around 50 out at a time. A few notes on what we're reading:
  • Ella enjoys reading the better Easy Readers on her own, usually from Level 1 to 3. She also enjoys reading picture books, and probably goes through five or six a week. We read aloud together every night, often a picture book and a chapter of a chapter book.
  • Ivy is a voracious reader, plowing through chapter books daily. It's been a challenge to keep her well stocked with good quality books at her reading level, with appropriate content. She loves the Penderwicks, the Ivy & Bean series, the first Harry Potter, My Father's Dragon, Spiderwicks, Judy Moody, Little House on the Prairie, several Roald Dahl books, Clarice Bean, The Doll People, Dragonology, Far-Flung Adventures, etc. She also enjoys non-fiction, but hasn't seemed as interested since the schoolwork started.


We'd like to do more with music, but we've got a good start this fall:
  • Ivy is really enjoying violin lessons on Wednesdays, and is even liking her practicing. I'm learning with her, which has been fun (and humbling). We try to practice together three times a week.
  • We take new music out of the library regularly, exposing the girls to different kinds of music and talking about it. Ella has shown a love of jazz (especially her namesake, Ella Fitzgerald). I've also made mixed CDs for the girls to listen on their own.
  • Ella's grandma has agreed to do some introductory piano with Ella, which we'll likely pursue once getting to Kelowna is easier again.

Phys. Ed

Both Ivy and Ella have stayed active this fall, although it has been a challenge some days to get them outside as it cools off.
  • Both girls are in gymnastics once a week, although Ivy is pondering a switch to dance of some kind
  • Now that the arena is open, we've been going for skating at noon on Mondays and Wednesdays, and plan to keep that going through the winter. We're helping friends put in a backyard rink again this year and look forward to skating days over there.
  • Ivy gets phys.ed as part of her school day on Mondays
  • In September the girls had more active play at the beach and parks, as well as regular bike rides. As the weather cools off, we'll likely shift to more indoor activity.
  • We're regular walkers, often doing quick family hikes on Giant's Head, or stopping at Hardy Falls.
  • Both girls plan to take swimming lessons once a week this winter
A quick video of Ivy at gymnastics: