Halloween Rock Monsters

Halloween Pebble Monsters - navigating by joy homeschool blog

Cute Halloween Rock Monsters

It’s UK half term holiday this week so we’ve been seeing friends, doing sports courses (the children), decluttering and child-free shopping (me :-)), and tomorrow we’re off to spend Halloween with family in Wales.  And then we’re taking an extra week off next week to go to Center Parcs with friends – yay – I love homeschooling!

Yesterday we found time to make these cute Halloween Rock Monsters – inspired by Coastal Inspired Creations.

Here’s how to make your own cute rock monsters:

1. Paint your pebble with acrylic paint (we enjoyed mixing up colours).

2. Add a mouth and teeth with a black sharpie (marker pen).

cute halloween pebble monsters at navigating by joy homeschool blog

3. Colour your monster’s teeth.  We used a white correction fluid pen, but you could use white paint if you have a good steady hand.

4. Add googly eyes.  We used the self-adhesive kind which meant no messing around with glue (just fiddling around trying to remove the backing paper!).

5. Admire your monsters (and give them names, decide who’s married to whom, and make up life stories and monster scenes :-)).

Happy Halloween!

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Learning How To Start

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In her blog this week Lori Pickert has quoted one of my favourite paragraphs from her book, Project-Based Homeschooling:

“Many adults, let alone children, stall in the information-gathering stage of a project.  They keep collecting inspiration and ideas without ever moving forward to the point of making something of their own.  Forget about finishing – they can’t start.”

Lori’s post is actually about the difference between good and bad persistence, and in particular how “you’re not teaching the kids persistence forcing them to complete something *you* want them to do.”  But the quote about not being able to start totally resonated with me (in quite an uncomfortable way!) when I first read it in her book, and one of the many beautiful and unexpected benefits I’m getting out of project-based homeschooling is that my kids – unhampered by years of formal schooling – are showing me how to start!

Since I’ve let go of trying to control every aspect of the learning process, something magical has happened around here. My kids are learning so much more!  Cordie (8) has always been an independent self-starter, so it’s in Jasper (7) that I’m noticing the biggest changes.   We have lots of creating space around our home but it wasn’t until I read Project-Based Homeschooling that it occurred to me that Jasper didn’t have his own desk space in our main living area. We have a large craft desk but that has pretty much been colonised by his prolifically-creative big sister, whereas Jasper had made his own a tiny table housing our desktop computer and – guess what – he wanted to spend all his time on the computer!

As part of our reorganization  he has his own desk and – wow! – is he using it. He’s initiated and completed more creative and science mini-projects this week than I would probably have got round to doing in a month (term??)! All thanks to that little space of his own and the magical power of “project-time”. I think the highlight of my week was when he sighed contentedly in the bath one evening and told me, “when I grow up I want to be a scientist (and a quadrillionaire)” – the millionaire/quadrillionaire bit always comes up, but this was the first time I’d heard Jasper talk about wanting to do anything apart from design/test computer games.  Not that I have anything against him working in games, but it made my heart sing to think that he’s beginning to like science (anything!) as much as he enjoys computer games!

Here’s what my children have taught me this week about “starting”: don’t over-think, over-plan, wait for the perfect moment or worry about the mess – just do it!  And when you do, you learn heaps, have stacks of fun, and – when you’re surfing a wave of  authentic, happy enthusiasm – the preparation and clearing up doesn’t take nearly as long as you thought it would.  🙂

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How to Make a Model Celtic Roundhouse

how to make a model Celtic Roundhouse at navigating by joy homeschoolers

This full-size model was not made by us 🙂

As our year studying Ancient History draws to a close, we’ve returned – for the first time since we looked at Stonehenge – to the ancient peoples who lived in our part of the world:  the Celts.

I like to use living books as much as possible, but I didn’t find many on the Celts suitable for younger children, so I decided to go hands-on instead.

how to make a model Celtic Roundhouse at navigating by joy homeschoolersAt our library we found Step Into The Celtic World.  I asked C which of the projects appealed to her and she chose the model Celtic Roundhouse. This tied in perfectly with my plan to visit a local Celtic Ancient Farm!

We only loosely followed the book instructions, partly because I’m not very good at following  instructions (or even reading them – ahem), and partly because the dowel rods I ordered online took several weeks to arrive.  (Big J later told me I could have picked some up at the local DIY store;  I have much to learn about hands-on project supplies.)

What You Need

  • A long strip of card (for the walls of the house)
  • Straw (the type that’s like hay, not the drinking-type)
  • Plasticine (for the walls).  I found this “animators’ plasticine alternative” very cheaply on Amazon.
  • A large, thick piece of card for the roof
  • Glue

How to Construct the Roundhouse

how to make a model Celtic Roundhouse at navigating by joy homeschoolers

1. Cover the long strip of cardboard (wall) with a thin layer of plasticine.

2. Press scraps of straw into the walls. (I forgot to get a photo of this.)

3. Stand the wall up in a circle shape, leaving a gap for the doorway. You might want to use tape or glue to attach it to a base to help it stand up. (My photo was taken before pressing the straw into the walls.)

how to make a model Celtic Roundhouse at navigating by joy homeschoolers

4. Cut out a cardboard circle for the roof.  Make it into a cone shape that overhangs the walls.

5. Now for the messy bit!  Cover the roof with straw, using glue to stick it on. The picture in our book showed long neat strands of straw coming together in an orderly thatch. The only straw I could find was scrappy bits used for small animal bedding. But as I reminded C and J, the Celts used whatever materials were available locally to build their houses. 😉

Verdict

Our Celtic Roundhouse may not be the prettiest ever, but we were pretty pleased with it! We had so much fun working on it together, and it definitely enhanced our subsequent experience of visiting an Ancient Celtic Farm.

I’ve been wanting for a while to do more hands-on projects as part of our homeschool.  They’re memorable and fun, and this is the age to do them (my kids are 7 and 8). My lack of practicality – combined with perfectionist tendencies – has held me back in the past, so I was very pleased that we got round to doing this project (and simplifying it to work for us).

Further Resources

If you want to make a more sophisticated model Celtic roundhouse, try this one.

Making Play Dough For The First Time

When you find yourself filling up whole Pinterest boards with something, you know the Universe is trying to drop you a hint.  In this case, the Universe’s profound message to me was: make a batch of play dough!

It was just as easy as everyone says, and even more sensorily delicious.  I fell asleep last night remembering the exquisite sensation of gently kneading the soft warm dough with the heels of my hands… Ahh, small pleasures.  🙂

As a bonus, you the children get to play with it afterwards!

We followed Tinkerlab’s method:

Recipe

  • 2 ½  cups flour
  • 1 ¼ cup salt
  • 2 ½  cups water
  • 1 ½  tbsp cream of tartar
  • 5 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Food colouring

What You Do

1. Mix all the ingredients except the food colouring in a big pot.

2. Cook on a low heat, stirring often.

3. When the mixture starts to come together into a dough-y consistency, check it with your fingers.  If it doesn’t feel gooey, it’s ready.

4. Knead it on a surface that won’t stain from food colouring.
5. Divide it and colour each part separately (if you want more than one colour).  We divided it into four.

Extra Fun

Chocolate Orange Play Dough – It seems your imagination’s the only limit when it comes to what you can add to play dough.  Inspired by The Imagination Tree we added cocoa powder to ours, and also extract of orange – chocolate orange play dough – yum!

Sparkles – we couldn’t find the glitter, so we added sparkly stars.

Lemon Play Dough – we added lemon extract to our yellow play dough.  Gorgeous!

How do you like your play dough?

My Library Thing

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