Friday, July 26, 2013

Workhouse Arts Center

My kids have never been so captivated in an art museum before and I know you want to check this place out.
The Workhouse Arts Center birthed five years ago on the site of an old overflow prison constructed by the inmates.  They built the bricks and laid them.  The Workhouse prison closed 11 years ago and in the space now serves as a venue for fostering and presenting art.  All types of art: music, clay, glass, oil, sculpture, performance, movement, culinary, so much!   They feature studio space for resident artists, free yoga on the quad on Saturdays, a weekly Smart Market farmer's market, museums about the prison as well as new exhibits, classes throughout the year, concerts, and an organic -locally sourced- cafe that's opening soon.  The place is awesome!

Each section houses a face with exhibited art and then studio space in the back.  Artists and volunteers greet you at each section.  Everyone was so friendly and took the time to answer questions about the pieces.

The clay studio.  We must have stared mesmerized at this pottery class for a good 15 minutes.  The kids asked to add clay throwing classes to their Christmas list.

They do not want you to take pictures of the artwork, but they did not mind me snapping a few of the kids' interest in the art.  The exhibit that brought us to the gallery ended up being a huge hit with Kaio and Nala.  Urban Decay 4 features populist urban art with influences from comic books, street graffiti, punk music and tattoos.

We cycled through the entire exhibit three times to check everything out.  The vinyl dolls especially delighted the kids.  Vinyl toys are a fast growing new part of the low-brow art movement.

Afterwords we grabbed some yum from the Smart Market farmer's market.  Can't wait to go back as there is so much to explore that we didn't see yet.  Lots for sale that would make perfect gifts. The place is great for kids of all ages, but you might want to avoid the clay and glass studios if your kids are very tactile.  There's lots of expensive breakables.

Saturday, July 20, 2013


hmm, ok let back it up.

I think this all started with a trip to the National Museum of Natural History to learn about Egypt, and see the mummies.  Here's the mummy:

Freaky, right?

There's also a little kid mummy.  But I didn't take a picture of him.  I think the mummies scared the kids.  They had wanted to see them since my mom took a trip to Egypt earlier this year and so Egypt has been on the mind.

After the mummies, we wondered over into the geology exhibit looking for gems.  The section included the asteroids to touch, videos about the solar system and plate tectonics.  Then we saw this interactive exhibit on volcanoes:

Eventually walking along, you'll be rewarded with a huge room full of gemstones and minerals:

So that was a great little field trip.  Then later in the week, the kids started talking about volcanoes again at lunch.  That same day, we ran into a volcano making kit that turned out to be a huge hit!

The kids took on the job of making the volcano completely independently.  And lucky for all of us, the mold only takes a half hour to set.  I don' think they could have waited much longer than that.

When painting, they coordinated on different jobs.  Nala took to painting the grey rock, and Kaio took charge of the lava.  I was happy to see that they didn't look at the example on the cover of the box, and instead drew their own vision.

So nice to see them working together on something, because that doesn't happen all the time.

They created a little village for the volcano to destroy, with dinosaurs and people...

Mix baking soda, vinegar, red paint, and a little drop of liquid soap, and voila

Even our neighbor wanted to come check it out.  The kids went through a whole bottle of vinegar that day.

Here's the kit we got, in case you want one too:

Butterfly Limerick

The butterflies have started to return from afar
Some may think their absence bizarre

but I saw a girl
with a pink net and a curl 

who trapped the poor things in a jar

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Flunked Power Yoga

Four people walked out of my yoga class today.  I had been feeling pretty elated about my yoga set this morning during my home practice and thought others would enjoy it too.  As the fourth person rolled up her mat and left, I began feeling deflated.  I pushed through a big smile though and tried to focus on the moment, even though the little voice in the back of my head was saying things like, "you must be really bad at this."

Well after the class was over, three ladies rushed at me with huge smiles and thank yous.  One lady went on about how much she enjoyed it, wondering when I would teach next so could she take all my classes.  I received sincere looks of gratitude from the chunk of people who had stuck through the whole class.

It is so nice to receive positive feedback.  It helps give me confidence that I'm not wasting someone's time.  I truly love sharing yoga with people, but it can be so stressful to put myself out there in front of a group.

The class I was teaching today was a Power Yoga class at a gym.  I don't really even know what a Power Yoga class is, and maybe that's the reason that people left.  I imagine they must be looking for a more high energy class than the one I cued.  But that's ok, I just need to always remind myself of the spectrum of different tastes.  Although one person may not enjoy it, there are many others out there who will.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Activities for Learning

One of my apprehensions about homeschooling circled around whether I'd be able to come up with activities for learning.  Where could I find the inspiration for the dinosaur cutouts with macaroni noodle bones?  I mean, I know that there is pintrest! - but that requires sitting down to research, having the right materials, knowing the steps and how to teach them; it seemed daunting to get started.

At school every day it is the teacher's job to have many activities for the kids to work on.  These activities correspond to the lesson for the week, or the time of the year.  Ever since my kids have been in day care (since 12 months old), they've been coming home with these cute little art projects made from construction paper.  There's a drawer in their room that I've been stuffing them into.  Some have gone up on the wall, and reluctantly some in the recycling bin.

The library has tons of books on craft activities for kids, great books on making art from leaves and trash.    Then there is the before mentioned Pintrest.  There are curriculums  and mail in craft kits: where someone sends you all the materials in a box in the mail each month for craft activities.

So really, there are tons of options out there to help me get inspired and crafting like a pro Kindergarten teacher..

So what's my problem?

A year and a half ago I blogged about picking up a gingerbread man kit from Trader Joe's.  When I gave it to the kids to decorate, I observed Kaio looking at the box to see the image, then copying how it looked on the box.  I contemplated whether he learned to do this in school or not.  Well now I'm convinced he did (see A Subtle Act of Creative Defiance). I've seen him take this copy-the-example approach in other boxed craft activities too, and he does it without determination in his eye, but with a vacant subservience.  Like he's fallen into a pattern of how to approach the projects.

Back when Kaio was in school and daycare and the construction paper craft activities came home, Kaio was never that excited about showing them to me.  They were usually just stuffed in his bag, discarded.  I could ask about them and he'd explain that's a turkey, or a pilgrim hat, or a fire work, whatever.  He gets much more excited showing me his latest Lego starship.  Last Sunday he spent half the day building pirate ships and sail boats out of legos and trying to make on float in the bath tub.

So as I was saying, I was so worried about what activities the kids would do at home and how they would survive without seasonally appropriate crafts.

Well, I'm not worried anymore.  behold exhibit A, B & C:

One night I asked Kaio if he'd bring me a book to read him.  He responded that he wanted to make his own and read it to me.  So he got the paper, the oil pastels, and bound it with staples.   The next day we laminated it with contact paper.

Nala then, needed to make her own book too.
She called it the book of changes (like the Tao Te Ching), and each page shows the changes from day to night.

Another book Nala created with different types of flowers Starting from left to right: daisy, tulip, another daisy, lego flower, green flower. Bottom left to right: dandelion, sunflower, tomato flower, water flower.

Exhibit D:

Lego submarine.  You try to figure out how to make legos sink.  It's not easy.  He weighted it with a rock inside the submarine.

Exhibit F:

Rocket Ship.  Nala's in the background manning the control station.  

and Furthermore:

A trip to the craft store with a $5 spending limit

 Every pony likes baby racoon's tree

A swan eating a fish 

Tyrannosaurus and his favorite squeaky bunny toy named squeaky  

A dropship 

 A tank

Yoda refuling Ahsoka Tano's Space Shuttle

Rock painting 

A new skirt

So basically, I'm not worried about preparing daily craft activities for them anymore.  Original arts and crafts projects just exhale from their being.  An inescapable product of their childhood experience.  And the less parameters placed around this creativity, the more truth seeps out of their expressions.   
By recognizing these little events as just as valid as those macaroni dinosaur bone activities, I learn to take some pressure off myself.  They are teaching me that I don't need to be feeding them information.  
They are doing just fine.


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