Wednesday, May 11, 2016

{review - sort of} Desmond Pucket by Mark Tatulli

I did not read these books. My 10 year old son did. All three in record time. And then I found this in my bathroom when I went to take a late night wee. I think it is an endorsement for the humor and creativity gleaned from the series. Check them out at your own risk!

Monday, May 9, 2016

{copy work} The Enkindled Spring by D.H. Lawrence

I am enjoying my first New England so much. Everything is alive and colorful and misty in its exuberance. - Amy

The Enkindled Spring

Related Poem Content Details

This spring as it comes bursts up in bonfires green, 
Wild puffing of emerald trees, and flame-filled bushes, 
Thorn-blossom lifting in wreaths of smoke between 
Where the wood fumes up and the watery, flickering rushes. 

I am amazed at this spring, this conflagration 
Of green fires lit on the soil of the earth, this blaze 
Of growing, and sparks that puff in wild gyration, 
Faces of people streaming across my gaze. 

And I, what fountain of fire am I among 
This leaping combustion of spring? My spirit is tossed 
About like a shadow buffeted in the throng 
Of flames, a shadow that's gone astray, and is lost.

sourced from Poetry Foundation

Saturday, May 7, 2016

journaling = giving kids a voice

As I get ready to start Journal Jam 2016, and have 3 sessions under my belt, I am reminded why I find  this work so important. 

The act of writing the minutia of your life, reflecting on the memories that shaped you and grappling, on the page, with disappointments, is life changing. Regular (or heck, even semi-regular journallers have better mental health, feelings of deep self-worth and the agency to enact change as necessary. And its fun and creative and sometimes surprising.

Nurturing this practice in kids is such a gift. While my kids and I  do not journal everyday, it is an act we drop into through out the year (especially in the summer) and I am committed to keeping it up. We recently moved and I am able to see the practice in a new light. Journalling and its antcilliary act, letter writing, have created a calm and safe place to remember, honor and share. Can you imagine kids having this skill in their toolbox as they head into adolescent and adulthood? It is pure gold, I tell you. 

Journal Jam is a perfect start or kickstart to your family's practice. It is a fun way to explore the rules-breaking, messy, exploratory journalling that I support and many others have found an enriching addition to their summer. 

Through daily prompts, field trips, thought experiments, art, cultural responses and more, you and your kids will explore their valuable ideas and opinions on paper through various forms of mark making. 

Join us here!

We will gather June 6 through August 12. 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

the creativity cure :: journal jam 2016

This is the 3rd summer I am running this lab and I get more excited each year. The content is new each go around and it really gets my creative juices flowing.  This year we are running it for 10 weeks. Each day you get an essay, prompt, resource, field trip idea, and general ways to creatively disrupt your life. We will have giveaways and a postcard exchange if you are into it. It is a great deal of fun each summer. Sign ups are happening now. The first 50 get the welcome pack (a little zine, a project and some ephemera). And for the first time I am offering the first 10 a special welcome box full of untold treasures to support your creative quest this summer. 

Can't wait to create with your and your kids this year!

Sign up here!

Monday, March 28, 2016

performance art with kids

In the two weeks before our big move, our co-op conceived, wrote, created, rehearsed, and performed a collection of performance art pieces on the topic of animal rights. At times, it really felt like we had taken on too much (packing a pod, finding a new house, painting canvases, researching, making shadow puppets, getting some animal dental surgeries taken care of...oy!).

But, I kept thinking.

When we are in the toughest moments of our lives, what is the first thing to stop?

Usually the thing you need the most (art, eating properly, writing, hanging out with friends). Does this happen to you, too? So, whenever I thought, "oh! this is too much!" I readjusted my thoughts and said, "this is exactly what we need to be doing." By engaging in such a creative and important project, we were able to deeply connect with our very dear friends who we would be leaving soon. We also kept so busy that we were able to make our move with minimal emotional upheaval.

It was a whole different way of approaching life, and I am sold. Keep the art when stresses are high and you will come out the other end with fewer scratches.

I have included some notes on our project, because I am committed to sharing exploratory, project-based learning with older kids on this blog. There is a lack of middle and high school homeschooling representations online (please share any resources you like), and I will try my best to report on the ideas and approaches that work for us. 

Animal rights are not a new subject for most of the kids in the co-op. We have supported a Florida based sanctuary for chimps coming out of the entertainment industry, my kids have created signs and protested outside the circus, we have had heated discussions on the use of Orca whales at Seaworld, and several of the kids have become vegan. These kids love animals! 

We talked about all the ways you can protest and bring attention to issues that are important. From passively leaving zines in public, to holding signs, to supporting (and pulling support from) organizations, to sharing your personal story and to creating artwork and perforative experiences. As a group, we decided that we wanted to create an evening of performance based art to share the spectrum of our beliefs and stories. 

We had three groups of kids (2-3 each) who each created a performance piece. They chose to work with issues surrounding animal rights. Veganism, animal testing, animals in entertainment, seal hunting and the arctic and the big cats of Florida were all showcased.

The kids made zines, wrote poetry, wrote a shadow puppet play, and created dialogued content sharing pieces. They also painted canvases to decorate the gallery and auction off, cooked a few vegan goodies and passed out samples of homemade laundry detergent. After the performance, which lasted approximately a half an hour, people were invited to stay, mingle through the gallery and chat - which they did!~

It is important to know, that the topic and the shape of the performance was kid driven all the way. And during the whole project, I kept thinking how amazingly lucky these young people were to have such support for their voices and ideas. They created knowing there would be a real audience at the end and that their work could impact and change minds. They were taken seriously and the key to the power of possibility was placed firmly in their hands. What a gift for tweens/teens!

We hired a local theatre instructor and rented a space to meet. Both of these were relatively inexpensive because we have relationships with the women we worked with. You can do this on your own too. There is no reason you can not meet in the park, the library or your own living room. And you can lead the kids yourself, we just wanted to offer our kids the chance to work with another adult mentor. 

We met 3x a week for 2 weeks and ended with the performance. Our schedule was squished together because of my family's impending move (originally we were going to spread the class out over 6 weeks) and I think that the energy with this compacted schedule. I am not sure it would have been as sustainable and passionate if we took longer. We were consumed daily with the causes that were so important to us, and it drove us to get our work done. 

We have a local arts organization that opened their doors and invited our troupe to perform. We packed the space with our friends, families and ripples of personal connections throughout the community. The kids were amazed to see so many people come out and support their work and their vision. The raised hundreds of dollars through art sales and donations that went directly to the organizations they chose. And they have been invited to perform at other local arts festivals. This just might be the beginning for them! 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

{lab} start your spring with poetry

We just moved from Florida to Connecticut. In Florida, we were already using the AC to cut humidity and heat. After our first week here, we woke to this magical scene. A spring snow shower, it is called. Many of you already know about this and a fair amount of you might groan at something like this (especially after a winer full of them!). But my kids woke up and started singing (a nice rotation of Les Miz and Christmas carols) and running outside in their PJ's to start a day of play. They knew it would not last more than the day and were determined to eek every last drop of essence from the snow. 

Poetry does that for me. It heightens my senses and makes my kaleidoscopic eyes rotate to see everything new and different. Its distillation of words and razor sharp (at times) clarity of idea hits me with a sort of urgency of emotion. A well chosen poem can begin/end my day with the punctuation of closure or an unravel an open weave to my thoughts as the day wears on. My kids find comfort and laughter and sadness in all their favorite poems. The language, rhythm, and imagery create rooms of familiarity and comfort as they drift off to sleep.

This lab is a small invitation to invite poetry to your table for the month. It is nonacademic and was written with curiosity and exploration in mind. I have attempted to include a wide variety of poets (it is not all Mary Oliver) mostly contemporary but not all. Each day, you get a poem to read, copy, respond to, share.... There will also be a handful of simple craft-y ideas as well as some writing games and maybe a few surpasses along the way. 

I hope you will join us. You can do that here

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

{copy work} act

The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is mere tenacity.

The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do.

You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.

Adventure is worthwhile in itself.

Amelia Earhart


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