mama scout lab e-course

Sunday, May 31, 2015

summer challenge :: mindful media

Many of you know that there is a vibrant community group on Facebook called the Mama Scout Laboratory for Creative Living. It is filled with women who are called to explore the world and their creative lives. Each month, we have a challenge. This month's challenge is going to extend all summer! From June until September 1st,  we are going to define and experiment with the notion of mindful media. 

For some, that will mean putting down the phone, deleting FB and other social media apps from handhelds for the summer. For others, it might mean choosing the books and films consumed this summer with intention and focus. It might mean organizing gaming parties for all the Minecraft fans in your circle. There are no rules! You decide what your family needs and try some new approaches. 

It does not mean denying yourself or your family anything for the sake of being "good." That feels punitive and restrictive and often comes back with stronger desires and habits than ever.

Some questions to start with:

What does our media consumption look like now? Where does it seem to be a problem? When is it working the best?

What do I want to add in or expose my kids to this summer (i.e. we have a classic family movie night every week)?

What do my kids want to have more time exploring (if they are into video games and these are limited in the school year, maybe ease up in the summer - there are some really cool classes and online groups that would be fun to work with. We can talk about those in the FB group)?

Is there one issue that you struggle with in terms of media usage?

How do your habits influence the rest of the family?

Do you divide media into "good for you" and "bad for you" categories? How and why?

Make a list of non-media interests you want to explore too. 

If this challenge speaks to you, make sure to join the FB group  -  I'll see you there! (But not too often, I am limiting my check ins to 2 times a day).

Thursday, May 21, 2015

{sneak peak} welcome letter to Journal Jam 2015

Ya'll, I really want you to join the Mama Scout Family Journal Jam. It is a fun, creative, rule-breaking endeavor that hooked me in to summer last year like nothing else. We have a scattered schedule and it became a touchstone and a thread gathering the days into a beautiful tapestry. I get so many emails asking more about it, I have just decided to share the welcome letter with everyone. I think it clarifies the lab and my approach. 

If you want to join, you can do so here. Hurry up and I will send you my annual summer zine. This year it is aimed at kids and filled with things to do. You can give it to them and finish soaking in the kiddie pool. 

Welcome to the Family Journal Jam! I am so excited to work with you and your family this summer. Journalling has proven to be a consistently good thing in my children's education and with this lab I hope to share some of my method and learn from your approaches too!

This lab, like all my labs, is not full of tutorials and step by step instructions for creating a specific product. I will share prompts and approaches with the hope that I spark and free your own creativity and confidence. The regular practice of meeting yourself on the page to process life is a vital skill that each of us comes to on our own. Hopefully, while trying out different exercises we will find the ones that will let your (and your kids') voice shine. 

How will this work?
Each week day, you will receive an email from me. The emails are a mixture of various prompts. I have a loose schedule that allows for visual prompts, traditional writing prompts, responses to art/film/music, creative projects and more.

It is not necessary that you do each prompt each day. That might be a goal and is certainly possible - but summers are busy and might not allow for it. Find the schedule or rhythm that works for you. There is no behind and no prize because you completed every single prompt. You might want to read for a few days first and then decide how you will approach the work with your family. Prompts might spark an alternate idea that would be better for your child - go for it! I see the labs as starting a dynamic conversation. So, lets create and scheme together! I hope the FB space will be overflowing with additional ideas and sharing!

When (& how) should I do this?
You will need to pick a time and environment for this work . For some, a prepped table for kids to come to each morning works wonders for setting the mood for the day. For others, you might want to make this creative time in the hot afternoons when going outside seems impossible. You can also give it a try at night, before bed. I am always amazed at the burst of creative energy my kids have right before bedtime. If I encourage writing and drawing in bed for a bit before we read, it is usually well received. You might even want to organize a simple to go bag so you can journal while you are out. So, try it all and see what might work for you and your kids this summer. 

It is very important to follow your child's lead. Simply watch them and see how they are reacting to the prompts. If they are frustrated or uninterested change the way it is presented. Sometimes, the best presentation is NO presentation. Simply get to work yourself and the curious start wandering up, taking a peek and wanting in on the action. This is meant to be a fun activity to for ALL of you to do together. If it is turned into a requirement or laden with too many rules, you will lose them and all their energy and trust. So, go easy and light.  

Always be ready to let your child dictate, even if you think they are old enough to write for themselves. It is a big relief to have help when your ideas are coming faster than your ability to write. Also, you can videotape them talking about their response or teach them how to use your phone/ipad to record their voice. Think of the labs as offering you a privileged glimpse into your kids' minds and imaginations. It does not really matter how the information is recorded, just as long as you bear witness. You might even just record it all later in your own voice and journal.

What sort of journal should I get?

There are several ways you can approach this:
1. A traditional art journal. I like the 9x14" mixed medias like this
2. A three ring binder with page protectors. This seems like a great option for this lab as you can add things as you go, including three dimensional items. My kids have worked with this format and really liked it. The art and writing is really protected too, so they can look through it over and over without worrying that the pages will get damaged or fall out. 
3. Collect everything loose and then bind it at the copy shop. Your local copy shop has all sorts of interesting ways to bind your papers, so next time you are in there ask what is available.
4. An archival box like this. You might just want to collect all the materials into a box and label it "Summer 2015"
5. A combination of all the above. Maybe you will have a box for bulky items and a writing journal for daily writing? Think about your kids and which of these would work the best. There is no right or wrong way!

What art supplies will I need?
I am a fan of using what you have and gathering free and cheap things along the way. So, below are my suggestions, but you might want to wait until you need something before you buy it. Many times what you will need depends on how you and your child decide to approach the project/prompt.

a journal or paper (a variety is nice)
colored pencils
water colors 
acrylic paint (i like to use it watered down)
a good collection of magazines to cut up (go for variety here)
a hard back book that you can destroy (i buy these at my local library) 
index cards
various envelopes 
paint chips from the hardware store
stickers (general shapes + alphabets as well as ones that depict your kids interests)
washi tape
rubber stamps
recyclables (yogurt containers, interesting plastics and foil, meshes and fabrics).
ink pads 
big pieces of cardboard (I pick them up at Sam's or Costcos)
access to a camera and printer
access to a photocopier

An idea for photos
I take a lot of photos on my phone and order them right away from Walgreens. They have an app that works great. Sometimes I even order images from an event or activity and then pick them up on the way home. You can also take your phone into the store and plug it in to their machine to order your pictures. I use these photographs as instant journal prompts. Within a few days, I will give them a photo or two. They tape it in their journal, decorate with wash tape and drawings and then tell the story of what is happening in the picture. The photo might be of a field trip, experiment, play date with friends, class, hike, roller skating, etc. This might be the easiest journaling-with-kids method I have. It would be a great habit to initiate this summer and continue in the fall when school starts. (Don't forget to take and print some photos of you having fun too!)

I hope you join the Facebook group. All you have to do is make sure we are "friends" and then drop me a message on FB and I will add you. The group is secret which means no one outside the group can see what you post or share or that you are even in the group. In every lab, the FB group has been an extremely powerful place to share. 

We will have weekly giveaways and they will all happen on the FB page. I will post them on Friday and announce the winners on Mondays. 

I ask that you do not share the labs with others. However, please do share your final projects and thoughts on your blog or social media. We can use the hash tag #mamascoutjournaljam as a way to collect our images. 

If you have any questions, please ask. I am here with you, doing the same work and am always available.



Saturday, May 9, 2015

{family lab} :: make a family crest

Making a family crest has been on my to do list for a long time. I can not tell you how happy I am that we finally did it. Every time I look at hanging in my living room, I swoon a little.

It is so simple to make!

Start with a huge piece of paper or cardboard. I pick up pieces of cardboard from Sam's Club just for this reason. The benefit of cardboard over paper is that you can easily hang it on the wall. We wanted something really big, so this is what worked best for us. You could easily make it smaller and pop it in a frame or even paint it onto a piece of wood or canvas. Work with the materials that you have on hand and are most comfortable with.
We freehand drew what we thought a our shield should look like and then divided it into 5 areas - one for each person.

Then we spend time thinking about an image that would represent us. I had some ideas, but everyone really went their own direction. We ended up with a typewriter with a favorite poem on it for me, a guitar/frying pan creation for my husband, an owl for a thoughtful boy, palette and brush for an art loving girl and swords for a brave and strong boy.

We prepared the cardboard with gesso and then used acrylic paints and of course, a little glitter at the end.

This is the perfect project to celebrate your family identity and uniqueness as the school year wraps up and another summer begins. If you tackle this - please share! I would love to see all the beautiful representations you make!

And if it seems daunting, you can always sketch it out in your journal and come back to it when the creative energies are flowing. 


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