Crafting Play – Cultivating Learning

Utilizing the magic of dramatization in learning.

Drama, drama, drama. Yup, that would aptly describe our crazy home. And I’m not just talking the pull your hair out because life is driving you crazy kind of drama, although we get our fair share of that, too.

Over here, we’ve found that drama is a great way to maximize the enjoyment and retention of whatever we are currently learning about.On any given day if you were to stop by, you would frequently find kids dressed up and playing hard. What is so cool is that while they are playing (and I make a mad dash to the kitchen to pull dinner together) they are reinforcing what we’ve been reading about.

As we read books, sometimes the kids will zero in on something and run grab an item around our home that can stand in as a prop. I’ve found that a key prop or costume piece goes a long way to cultivate this learning through play. And this doesn’t have to be crazy expensive or complicated. Oftentimes, one small item coupled with their imagination is enough to transport them into many a historical epoch.

For instance, when we were learning about the Revolutionary War, the boys noticed that each of the soldiers had a cartridge box slung over his shoulder. My youngest knew where my stash of purses were kept and remembered that little black purse that I’d held onto for over 20 years now. That’s right folks, I’m the sentimental person that has kept my first ‘purse’ all these years. That little black leather purse was a constant companion for my little guy as he traveled from battle to battle.

To this end, we oftentimes try to utilize our crafting to maximize dramatic play. That was the case when we were learning about Joan of Arc. Book after book revealed her marching into battle with her white fleur de lis banner.

So we set to work cutting up an old sheet into a pennant shape. I didn’t even bother to hem the edges. I care about those things, but the boys certainly don’t. I simply made sure I folded over the edge big enough to go over our PVC pole that the boys already had sewed a loop. We’ve even been known to use fabric glue if I’m too lazy to pull out the sewing machine.

Next, we set to work making a stamp. We had some crafting foam from an earlier craft they made at someone’s home and we re-purposed that for our fleur-de-lis stamp. I simply printed off a picture from the internet and set about cutting it out with an exacto knife. I didn’t feel quite comfortable turning them loose with that sharp little tool at that time, but the boys have definitely upgraded to using exacto knives now (with mom’s ample warnings). The boys found an unused bobbin that could be used for our handle because I’m all about not making any unnecessary trips to the store.

And then, their favorite part – stamping away!

The result? “JON of Arc” making a courageous stand to free France from the English and help Charles VII claim his throne, over and over and over again! All it took was creating a flag and letting it fly!

What We Are Reading (March/April 2017)

Books we are reading: March-April 2017

I don’t know about you, but I am always curious to see what people are reading. I know I am not alone because on more than one occasion I’ve had friends or acquaintances over who I find browsing my bookshelves or my book stacks.

So I thought, I’d give you all a peek at what our family is reading right now!

I am not a neat and tidy, read one book at a time kind of person. I read as I’m inspired and hop between several books. Here are a few that I have recently finished or am currently working on. A friend posted back in January that he had made a goal of reading 50 books in 2016 and was increasing it by 10 books in 2017. I’m a competitive type person and having a goal to hit seemed like just the incentive I need to get me reaching for a book instead of my phone when I have spare moments in my days. I’m keeping track of my book count in Evernote (my digital brain), so I can track my progress. As a busy homeschool mama, I’m including chapter books that I read aloud to the kids on this list. I don’t consider this cheating because it is time spent reading great books and I’m not listing the copious amounts of picture books like Fancy Nancy books that my 5 year old has been requesting lately. My goal this year: at least 50, aiming for 60.

Mom’s Reads

Lost & Found – I loved this memoir from my friend, Kendra Fletcher and wrote about it here.
The 5 Love Languages of Children – Understanding love languages really helped in my marriage and I’m excited to zero in on each of my children’s love languages and learn how to show each of them love better.
Different: The Story of the Out-of-the-Box Kid and the Mother Who Loved Him – I’m excited to dive into Sally Clarkson’s newest book on celebrating, understanding, and loving our “different” kids.
A Wife’s Secret to Happiness – It’s been a while since I’ve read a marriage book and this one is hot off the press!
Amazing Grace – William Wilberforce is such an inspiration. In addition to working to end the slave trade in the Great Britain, his life long goal was a Reformation of Manners. I too desire to see a reformation of manners here in the 21st century. By manners, this doesn’t mean etiquette, but more importantly a return of civility, empathy, and pursuit of justice and compassion, hence my Knights in Training book. I heard about his life goal last summer when I was in the midst of writing my book and it was such an encouragement to me. Now I want to read the whole story.
The Screw Tape Letters – I’ve tried a few times before and ended up doing a combination of reading this and listening to an audiobook version. Thought-provoking.
Transparent: How to See Through the Powerful Assumptions that Control You – Just started this. I’ll need to finish Screwtape Letters first so I have mental bandwidth to read and think about this one.
On my Kindle: The Benedict Option – reading this and discussing with friends!

What the Kids are Reading:

We are learning about the Age of Exploration right now. Here are a few of the books we are reading relating to that:

We started out reading about ships, sailing, and navigation!

By Star and Compass: The Story of Navigation – We enjoyed this vintage read aloud. I had to laugh when I went to grab a link to it, because Amazon is listing only one used copy for sale if anyone wants to fork over almost $9,000. It was good, but no where near that good.
Dare the Wind: The Record Breaking Voyage of Elizabeth Prentiss and the Flying Cloud  – Oh my, I love this story. We read it several times! We enjoyed reading of her tenacity and understanding of navigation that helped set a world record. My favorite quote: “A true navigator must have the caution to read the sea as well as the courage to dare the wind.” Inspiration for life!

I gathered a stack of navigation related fiction books and let each boy pick one.

Carry On Mr. Bowditch – We did this as a read-aloud a couple of years ago and I was surprised with the excitement to read this again. My oldest read it twice in the last couple of weeks and my middle read through it once! It was interesting to see how their understanding and increased age heightened the enjoyment of this story. I love this character’s insatiable desire to learn. In a world that disdains learning for the pure enjoyment of it, I love giving them stories like these!
The 290 – This was a stretch of a book for our topic, but it was a book about sailing on a ship, so we went with this Civil War era story.
The Kings Fifth – another stretch. This book is about a young cartographer and how he travels with the conquistadors to the new world. I chose this book because he was sailing, there was a map-making component, and I love all things Scott O’Dell. I have one son who is OBSESSED with the story now and wanting to buy this book for all of his friends.

We’ve also started reading about the Vikings. Here are our favorites!

Leif the Lucky – I love D’Aulaire. This was an enchanting book that we read aloud.
Vikings: Children in History – The Vikings have pretty violent history. I loved this book that focused on life as a viking from a child’s perspective. I didn’t have to worry about editing out stuff for the five year old.
Sword Song – My 12 year old is loving this historical fiction book.
Raiders from the Sea – This was a fun fiction book that my 10 year old chose to read.
Voyage with the Vikings – We love Imagination Station books and my 9 year old was thrilled to read this again when I assigned it to him!

 

Here are some books they are reading just for fun!

We have joined the Green Ember craze and the boys are officially obsessed.

My 10 year old cannot stop talking about The Prince Warriors and has read it twice since his Mima gave it to him.

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