Open thread

Published by Lori Pickert on February 6, 2009 at 01:00 PM

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men of talent. Genius will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan, ‘press on’ has solved, and always will solve, the problems of the human race. — Calvin Coolidge

41 comments

Comment by Candy Cook on February 6, 2009 at 02:19 PM

Kids are persistent in their quest for undivided attention.. and no amount of divided attention will ever accumulate into a small amount of undivided attention.
- Candy Cook :D

I think I just made a quotable quote. :D

Comment by Arwen on February 6, 2009 at 02:27 PM

Lori, I have an interesting post for you this morning. This is from the blog of my eighth and ninth grade English teacher. (I consider her an unusual English teacher because she doomed me to a life of knowing more about grammar than most of my subsequent English teachers.) She still teaches at the same school, and she has come up with a list of books she wishes her seventh graders had read. I thought it was an interesting idea:

http://apaperbackwriter.blogspot.com/2009/02/well-read-grade-school-graduate.html

Comment by melanie on February 6, 2009 at 02:38 PM

So how do we foster this in our children? I guess one way is modelling it in ourselves. I can't even begin to count how many things I've started and never finished LOL...

Comment by Candy Cook on February 6, 2009 at 03:25 PM

"Incomplete project" doesn't necessarily mean incomplete learning , I believe. It depends on what you were truly attempting to "get out" of the activity. For example, I like to learn new things just for the sake of learning new things. Sometimes, those things develop into a life long hobby.. sometimes, they don't. Sometimes, I don't have to have a completed result to know that I've learned how to do something. I feel my learning is complete, and yet, the project is left incomplete for whatever reason. On the other hand, sometimes I set out to achieve a complete project and the project is completed before I feel like the learning is complete. So, I have to expand.. but, my learning my be completed before the completion of the second project and I might not want to finish the second one.

Comment by Meredith on February 6, 2009 at 04:03 PM

I just wrote an article on perseverance and before hand I queried my children what they thought it meant! They gave me some great answers and I think that if you read stories and books about people who persevered or "pressed on" as it were, then they can glean from those examples (as well as our own) and understand that life isn't necessarily handed to them on a silver platter. They have to stick it out to the end to see their results, good or bad. We can hope for the good, but ultimately they have to learn it by doing it, eh?

Arwen, I was pleased by your link and that my dd 12 has read almost all of the books on the 7th grade list, many of them mulptiple times through.

Great quote to ponder today Lori, happy Friday :)

Comment by Lori Pickert on February 6, 2009 at 04:10 PM

arwen, shoot, now i am going to have to go back over there and post later. ;^)

what did *you* think was interesting about that post?

melanie, i thought this quote tied in beautifully with yesterday’s excerpt about teaching children their intellect is a muscle that can be strengthened. :^)

candy, i agree. i worked for several months on a project a long time ago that i never ended up turning into a long-term thing. at first, it felt like a failure (like fireworks that had fizzled out instead of going “boom” ;^) but i eventually realized that just working on it had been more instructive than taking a college class (or two) (or three).

Comment by Arwen on February 6, 2009 at 04:20 PM

Mostly I thought the idea behind it was interesting. It's based on the lists college professors make of books everyone should read. I like the idea of a list of books every elementary school student should read. I think it's not a bad idea to have some higher expectations (and suggestions) for kids that age. She mentioned that she knows not everyone is at that reading level by that time, but there is no reason their parents couldn't be reading those books to them (or am I the only one who had parents that read to us well after we learned to read for ourselves?)

I just like the idea behind it and wonder what books other people would put on the list. My husband thought the list was too geared toward girly books.

Comment by Cristina on February 6, 2009 at 04:53 PM

I love that quote. I like to think I practice it.
Re your comment (and somewhat related to this): Living in the moment is only hard because we have imaginations. I myself know the struggles of staying present minded, but it is worth it. Worrying about the future is what freezes us from doing things now. It's a form of perfectionism--if I can't do it right I won't even try to start. I fight it within myself because I want my children to see that the important thing is to "just do it" and you can always go back and polish it later. :o)

Peace and Laughter!

Comment by Christina on February 6, 2009 at 04:55 PM

This is so true. When I entered grad school (oh so many years ago), I brought with me the notion that everyone there would be intelligent and interesting and that I would have to really step up my game to be able to compete. While there were many intelligent people, there were also a great many "average" people who produced some really "average" work. However, it became clear that Intelligence, creativity, and originality were not necessarily the factors which determined who completed their degrees and who did not. Persistence. That was the key. That was one of my great revelations of grad school (how sad) . . . that the people who finished their PhDs were no more intelligent than anyone else (as a whole), just more persistent. Really, really persistent.

And now, as I've just written that, and in the context of helping my kids to learn and grow and develop into good and happy people, I find that idea both hopeful and frustrating. Yes, with enough determination and persistence, they can do just about anything. But they'd better have a lot of it, because you can bet they're going to have to use it to jump through a great many hoops ahead.

I'm so cynical. Perhaps what's missing in this idea is the profound interest in or love for a subject that has to go hand-in-hand with the aforementioned determination. That can go a long way to making persistence enjoyable rather than drudgery. Another reason to foster child-driven learning.

Comment by barbara brown on February 6, 2009 at 05:02 PM

that is so true. a lazy person no matter how smart or talented gets nowhere.

Comment by Lori Pickert on February 6, 2009 at 05:53 PM

meredith, yes, i think so, too — but it helps if we share our own difficult times, too, don’t you think? so they can see us push through. it’s so tempting to hide those things from the kids. ;^)

happy friday to you, too! and happy weekend. ;^)

arwen, i still have, somewhere, the tattered copy of my university’s “what you should read before you enter the master’s program in english lit” list. :^)

the idea is interesting — what books you would request your students to know to be a “literate” 7th grader. i guess my first reaction was that the list was a little .. paltry. kwim? and there aren’t too many high expectations there that i can see — my sons read most of those books when they were much younger. but i know the reading ability range is wide in public school, and many kids haven’t read many books — i know it intellectually, but i can hardly believe it emotionally.

i still read aloud to my boys at 9 and 12! :^) and that is one way to introduce higher-level books .. i read treasure island to them years ago and my older son immediately read it again to himself as soon as we were finished. we are reading great expectations now and my 12yo immediately dove into tale of two cities.

interesting that your husband thought the list leaned toward being too girly. i think it’s skewed too young. i would come up with an entirely different list myself... mm... oh, you’re derailing me again! ;^) what would *you* put on the list? right off the bat, i would add mythology and fairy tales .. if i am going to discuss literature with junior high school students, i want them to recognize classic elements of literature and classic plots. oh, and there i go...

cristina, i had a funny exchange with the boys this morning. a friend had sent me a question: “what does fun mean to you?” i asked them, then i typed my answer. they asked me what i’d said. i said, “relaxing with family.” my 9yo: “you?!?! *relax*?!?!” lolol. for me, staying in the moment isn’t so much about perfectionism as my mind racing ahead to what i “need” (want) to do next. (monkey mind!) and hey, i *do* relax .. my version of relaxing just might not *look* like relaxing to someone else. ;^)

christina, i understand what you’re saying about it being both hopeful and frustrating — but i definitely believe it to be *true*. the fact that so many talented, smart people don’t achieve is definitely sad and frustrating (and what we’ve been discussing this week is how to help our kids *not* be part of that group). but it’s also good information to pass along to our children — that there is a threshold of ability and intelligence, but beyond that, it’s your effort and willingness to work that will take you where you want to go.

you know, i thought this quote went well with our current economic (and energy .. and ecological..) crisis as well. there are those who would just give up, and there are those who roll up their sleeves and get to work. i find it inspiring. :^)

barbara, true, but even if someone isn’t lazy, their fear can hold them back — fear of making mistakes, fear of being “found out” as not being brilliant (and therefore achieving without having to work), fear of failure.

Comment by se7en on February 6, 2009 at 07:37 PM

Brilliant quote - I have to print it out and keep it handy for those days when a certain gentleman I know can't bear to do another math example!

Comment by Mister Dad on February 6, 2009 at 07:51 PM

i LOVE that.

if my kiddos learn anything from me, i hope it's that a million failures won't kill ya. we're problem solvers by design, unless we accept a lie that it's hopeless or that the problem does not exist.

of course, persistence must be tempered with prudence. ergo, apt parenting.

Comment by Dawn on February 6, 2009 at 10:12 PM

"...educated derelicts"
Sometimes I do feel as if my "education" has fallen into disuse but I realize my true education has been life and oh, I use all of those "lessons" much more than anything I learned from a book!
This quote ties in so nicely to the discussion about praise. Just what makes someone persistent?

I really like what Christina had to say... amazing the things learned in Grad. School!!
We are off to the farm this weekend but will check back for more of the discussion when we return!
Thanks Lori for another good quote!

Comment by amy on February 6, 2009 at 11:01 PM

so many things to think about here. as for yesterday's (or wednesday's) i know for myself that i swung from the very extrinsically motivated, static theory of intelligence as a young person to the delightful discovery of malleable intelligence as i got older and ensconced in a career i loved and had not "studied" for previously. i excel at my job because i am constantly learning, questioning, pushing myself. for me too, mentorship has been an essential tool to developing myself.
i'm curious to know what role y'all feel mentorship plays in the lives of little ones - how do you see it on your own childrens' lives? how do you make room for it?

persistence is essential to the idea of cultivating awareness - i'm reading artist's notes right now by andy goldsworthy that totally highlight this to me- how he really has to work with a material again and again (i.e holly leaves) to understand it and interact with it. i love his comments on his work because he talks about this over and over again; this totally grounded, didactic relationship he has with material and place - it reminds me to bring the same beginner's mind to my daily work - be that mothering or nursing or creating-
i hope that this approach is in the water at our house. it seems to sprout from benen organically.

lol re booklists. i still read the same 5 or 6 fiction books that i've been reading since elementary/junior high once or twice a year. how's that for a master list?

Comment by Amy Payson on February 6, 2009 at 11:26 PM

Candy -

Being a homeschooling mom has taught me more about learning w/incomplete projects. I am constantly struggling w/the balance of meeting state requirements and giving my children the freedom to learn independently and for the sake of wanting to learn about something. Sometimes I freak out and think, "But what if they don't know this or that..." Then I step back, after a coffee and some quiet time, and think of all the things I "learned" in school and what I remember now...which is not much My job (as far as state requirements and a homeschool facilitator goes) is to EXPOSE my children to the great stuff and then leave it up to them on where to take it. That view has changed my approach w/teaching history. I'm liking exposing it to them chronologically (it's started to make more sense to me then when I learned it...it's my worst subject), but felt frustrated that they weren't more interested. I soon realized that my frustration was born out of me FINALLY being interested.

After reading many of Lori's posts (thank you!) I've been a much more careful observer...not only of my children but of myself. My approach to history is much the same as literature...expose through rich, living books that bring a period, person, or situation to life. I have been observing that I am a visual learner. When in school (as a straight A kid), I just memorized facts to get a test right. That info quickly left me. I was dwelling the other day on why I was remembering so much now while putting together their history "curriculum" (I mean booklist). It snapped into place when I thought back to some info on Thomas Jeffereson. He was a nameless, faceless "important" person for me to know, but I couldn't remember anything about him. Now I've been excitedly telling my dh all kinds of facts...and why? I'm looking at picture books. TJ had bright red hair. This wonderful illustrator had captured who this person was and a beautiful storyteller led me to the facts in a pleasant way. Now I have a face to go with the story every time in my head. I learn visually. It was quite an awakening! It made me think of how I remember spelling and dates (all my letters and numbers have colors to them in my head...I remember color combinations). Maybe one or two of my children will too. It was like a major breakthrough for me...not only to help my learning but to trust in this observation process with my children on how they learn best.

Anyway, my original point was going to be that just the putting together of the information and books I want my children exposed to has helped me sort things out and learn a subject myself. If I never even pass half this information on to my children, all was not lost. This seemingly incomplete project has yeilded grand results in a teachable moment for me!

Comment by Cathy T on February 6, 2009 at 11:33 PM

Persistence... Determination. My youngest son who is two shows so much of that. Learning how to manipulate his environment and the people in it, challenging himself to get his needs and wants met (by himself if someone tells him no, such as when he gets that apple by pulling and pushing a chair across the floor and then climbing onto the counter), and successfully getting his message across to an adult or child by talking, miming, taking their hand, or using some sort of made up sign language.

How do we keep that wonderful energy alive while not getting burnt out ourselves? LOL I keep reminding myself that these "talents" of his (how many times can you say "The fish like to swim by themselves. Get your hands out of the tank (and climb down off that shelf)" in an hour?!) But seriously, as much as he is a handful, those same traits will make him a successful adult if I can keep channeling his energy in a positive way. "Let's go find the (indoor) climber since you want to climb....

It can be exhausting though - this blog helps me think of WHY I do the things I do. Thank you, Lori.

Comment by Lori Pickert on February 6, 2009 at 11:36 PM

amy, i feel like i am my child’s mentor — their learning mentor — guiding them as they acquire thinking and learning skills. :^)

re: andy goldsworthy .. that ties in exactly with why we need to give children time to explore a material and play with it before they can learn to work purposefully. if they are given adequate time to explore a material’s possibilities without worrying about making a particular product — if they are given time to play — then when they are ready to work purposefully, they can reach confidently for the tool and material they need.

Comment by Lori Pickert on February 6, 2009 at 11:39 PM

amy payson, thank *you* -- and thank you for sharing that! :^)

Comment by Lori Pickert on February 7, 2009 at 12:31 AM

cathy, so true — it’s good to think about the positive aspects of some of those challenging traits. ;^)

Comment by Ali on February 7, 2009 at 09:58 AM

Persistence, my thoughts: I don't know that I model persistence that well because I tend to keep my own projects until the evening. When I study during the day, my husband looks after the kids and so the only thing they see me persisting at is the housework and their own projects. Maybe I can try to consciously demonstrate persistence in the little things I do and encourage them to persist at what they are doing - I'm definately trying this with my daughter since yesterday not letting her give up when she can't do something but instead helping her to 'find a way'. We now have a celebration chant 'we found a way!' and that's just from one day focusing on it which shows how much of the day is caught up in moments of frustration (she's 2.5).

Projects: I'm still struggling with my daughter. My son is 14mths and has shown interest in drawing and balls, so he has a basket of balls (and a willing Daddy) and a table always laid out with clean paper and pencils. He really utilises these and what's interesting about the pencils is that he carries them around a lot, getting the feel for them i think and just being proud to be able to use them.

On the other hand I don't know if I'm going down the right route for my daughter. She really loves clothes, tryong them and pretending she's someone else, but not normal dress up clothes, she prefers baby clothes (including her brother's). So last week I got all the baby clothes out of the loft and we sorted them all out and she tried loads on and really enjoyed herself. I let her keep several and improved her dress-up box (in her eyes). The trouble is she spends all day changing her clothes and mostly wearing her swimsuits (her absolutely favourite piece of clothing) - but it's cold! So I've found myself battling to get her to wear soemthing, anything more than just a swimsuit or vest. I'm not sure where to go with this. I love the fact that she's got something that she loves doing and I want her to be able to free to do it as she wishes but i really can't afford to have the heating on all day!

Finally, as to the books - looking at the list made me realise how culturally specific they are, so perhaps a list like that would also be family specific, reflecting the values that the family found important, as well as the surrounding culture.

Comment by Thimbleina on February 7, 2009 at 10:51 AM

'Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration' Thomas Edison apparently said this and I have used this philosophy throughout my life since hearing it before taking exams at school.

I am not and never was the brightest kid in the class I was always average at school, but when it came to wanting to prove myself in my adult life I studied day and night for accountancy exams and passed the final year with merits in two of my subjects and that was doing it by the home study option as I tried college and just kept falling asleep as I was not stimulated at all.

I hope that I model this attitude to my children, I think I do as my eldest seems to have that attitude to the things that she really wants to achieve, like tying laces, I showed her once and she practiced and practiced in her room and came to me later and could do it.

Comment by Lori Pickert on February 7, 2009 at 02:13 PM

ali, interesting about the books being culturally specific!

re: your daughter wanting to go about all day in her swimsuit or vest, i can completely identify. my boys “run hot” and they walk around wearing just shorts all winter longer. i think the solution there is a natural one — *don’t* keep the heat on all day. ;^) if she is cold, she will put on more clothes!

re: your daughter’s interest in the clothes, have you looked at books about clothing? there are so many different kinds — books about how to sew clothes, books of historical clothing. have you given her art supplies so she can draw and paint clothes? i think there’s a lot you could do with that idea. i would suggest making up some little blank books for her (folded & stapled blank paper with or without a cover) that she can fill with drawings and doodles. if she wants to dictate text to you (stories, words, labels, etc.), of course, you can write them for her. if she likes to write you can help her spell out things. keep going with it, and try not to be discouraged. are you journaling? :^) if your husband is watching her while she plays and organizes her dress-up closet, he might make his own notes. :^)

i love your “we found a way!” — that is a great way to model persistence in everyday life! and when she’s older... (see my comment to thimbleina ;^)

thimbleina, i love that quote, too. i had it on my bulletin board when i was running the school — an adventure that definitely had a 1:99 genius:perspiration skew. ;^)

you know, re: your personal story of striving to pass your accountancy exam .. we make a family culture by the stories that we tell about ourselves and each other. and that culture can tear our children down or build them up, depending on how we tell it.

you can share with them (and not just once, but again and again — that’s how they become family stories, after all, by repeated telling) that when you found something you cared about, you worked really hard and achieved it. that kind of family lore, coupled with everyday attitudes of “well, let’s not give up — let’s try another way” is, i think, what helps children develop persistence.

Comment by melanie on February 7, 2009 at 02:52 PM

THis is all so inspiring to me.. things that I haven't ever really thought of, For me as a little child, I was always really good at everything I tried, and so I never had to really 'work hard'. As an adult I have that evil form of perfectionism that causes me to quit things that I can't do perfectly, and I need to be so conscious that I don't pass that on to my children. For example, I was really good at the flute... I played for years, but when I started taking private lessons and had to choose if I would pursue it further in a more concentrated way, I was suprised to learn that they way I had learned to 'tongue' the notes wasn't the most efficient way, and it was hampering me from further success. My teacher wanted me to teach myself to play the right way, and I couldn't imagine having to relearn everything so slowly. it seemed impossible to me, so I quit.

Now as an adult, I think I can probably take it up again and persist through difficulties!! I feel inspired :-)

Lori, I love the suggestions about helping the little girl who loves clothes learn more about them. THis is great. the idea of making up blank books for her.. great!!!

I'm so glad I found this blog. Thank you Lori!

Comment by amy on February 7, 2009 at 05:54 PM

Ali- love the we found a way chant. i spend a lot of time with a 3.5 yo girl, one of our close friends, who is super competent, though spends a fair amt of time saying she can't when we all know she can and want to encourage her without disavowing her. what a clever way of roping her into teamwork.
thank you!

Comment by Christina on February 7, 2009 at 06:56 PM

re: The book list. I'm so ambivalent about lists like this. On the one hand, as a list-maker myself, I love them. I have my own database lists of every book I've read with my kids (with comments and categorizations :), as well as lists of books I want to read with them (grouped by age-level). I'm a *freaky* list-maker. On the other hand, lists like this seem so Hirschian (can I make up that word?), as in, "What every elementary-age child should read." The Cannon always tends to favor the traditional. Certainly I want my kids to be highly literate, and most certainly I spend an inordinate amount of time reading to them and trying to expose them to the best literature I can. But lists of the "should" nature often leave me feeling overly confident (as in this list) or completely overwhelmed.

re: Melanie's comment on perfectionism and persistence. I totally relate to that. Finally, in the last year of my undergraduate career, I took a couple of classes that I really wanted to try, but knew I wouldn't be that good at: ballet and printmaking. And even though I wasn't the best at them (by any means), I had a blast in those classes.

I worry about passing this on to my kids. I already see my 5-year old dislike things she's not immediately good at (writing and drawing). It's been good to sit down with her during our "observational drawing" and draw with her. I explain that I'm learning and practicing too, and we struggle along together. I've definitely seen progress . . . with both of us. It's ok to be imperfect. Now if I could just start to believe that :)

Comment by Ali on February 7, 2009 at 07:24 PM

Thank you for all your great ideas Lori. I'm going to suggest we write some stories and poems (she makes up her own a lot) tomorrow and make some books just for them. I've lost my stapler but fortunately I'm handy with a needle and thread!

I actually got her to design her own t-shirt and then sewed the design onto an actual T-shirt (long-sleeved!) - it took me 3 evenings and now she refuses to wear it because of 'the sewing all over it'! I took a lot of deep breaths and then put it away on the cupboard! Having kids really makes you see just how much you will tolerate and it's a lot more than I expected!

Comment by Aimee on February 8, 2009 at 03:23 PM

One of the things that struck me in the quote was the idea of success. Success can mean very different things to very different people. I want my children to define their own success, not society. I think about success a lot in my own life. I have chosen to stay home to homeschool my kids and that feel right to me, but to others it seems as if I am wasting my own life, with comments like, what about you? or what will you do once the kids are grown, like that my life is somehow on hold, when actually I see myself doing exactly what I want to do and how much I am learning and growing and feeling good about my life. It is very rare for anyone to stay at one job for their whole life, so right now this is my job. Not a job, a career.

Book lists: I use as a starting point to remember books I may have forgotten about or books that I have never read. I think they can be useful esp, because there are so many books to choose from and it can help me find new authors, but like anything, it is one person's or one group's idea and not the only choice out there. I am finding that the longer I homeschool and the older I get I see any thing like book lists not as an authority, but an opinion and I get to have my own opinion too. I used to need someone to tell me if it things were good or not, so I can really feel the difference. I try to nuture the trait of listening to yourself in my own chidlren.

Comment by Lori Pickert on February 8, 2009 at 03:45 PM

melanie, thank you! and i have written here before about being plagued as a child with the same form of perfectionism — dropping things if i didn’t immediately excel at them. because why do something if you don’t excel at it? as an adult, i’m much more aware of how much enjoyment there can be in something that you aren’t necessarily gifted in — and how limiting perfectionism is! i try to steer my boys away from perfectionism, but sometimes i think it‘s a genetic trait. ;^)

i wrote about it here:

http://www.whiteoakschool.com/camp-creek-blog/2007/10/30/the-perfectionist.html

christina, i enjoyed your thoughts about the book list! my thinking was, as a teacher, if i was going to spend a year working with a certain group of students, what books would i wish that they had all already read, as a point of reference -- so we could have a shared context for talking about new works. but you are right -- it is a bit Hirschian (great word! :^D) and in a way, it would really expose all the kids to *more* books if they all had different connections to share. mm .. it is a puzzler, and darn that arwen, i have spent a lot of time thinking about it this weekend! :^) she knows how ideas consume me! ;^)

your examples of enjoying things without being perfect at them is exactly how i feel about some of my hobbies that i now am able to enjoy .. and, i should have reiterated this point earlier .. it’s not that we can’t become very good at these things, it’s that they don’t come *easily* and *immediately* .. that’s the problem with perfectionism! i would much rather help my boys learn how much they can love something even when it doesn’t come easily — maybe even especially because it required so much of them!

it is wonderful that you sit down to draw beside your daughter. even though i suspect that perfectionism might be genetic ;^) (see my comment to melanie above), i am positive that we help our children learn to function with it by nurturing! :^)

ali, love that she designed her own shirt .. lol re: her complaining about the “sewing all over it” -- but you should get it back out of the cupboard and ask her to make a new plan! that’s project work! :^)

Comment by Lori Pickert on February 8, 2009 at 05:02 PM

aimee, i don’t think there has been a single time in my adult life when i set out on a new path in my work and almost everyone around me didn’t say, “*why* are you doing *that*?!” :^) i agree with you one hundred percent — success is getting the life you want, your own authentic life!

authority vs. opinion — that is one of the habits of mind i hope my sons are learning through project work! a perfect example of how, if you only look at the surface, you might say “ah, this is the truth” whereas if you dig deeper, you discover there are many different “experts” whose opinions all vary from one another’s. learning to trust your own opinion? another great habit of mind i hope they are learning. :^)

Comment by Ali on February 8, 2009 at 05:21 PM

Ok Lori watch this space - the t-shirt is re-emerging tomorrow!

She loved the books and we just used them for drawing in today but they're so quick to make that I think I'll make a stack so I can grab one whenever she comes up with a poem or story and write it down so she can decorate it.

It's so exciting to share all this with you and read everyone else's ideas and experiences. What a wonderful place the internet is!

Comment by julia on February 8, 2009 at 07:57 PM

Thanks for sharing this quote. It's amazing because I have been thinking about his for a little while now, while I get back into illustration.

Comment by Lori Pickert on February 8, 2009 at 08:04 PM

ali, that’s exactly what i did — make a whole pile of them and put them in a basket, because they get filled so quickly! :^)

you know, a great field trip for her would be going to the fabric store and looking through the patterns and pattern books — i bet that would ignite a lot of ideas! i was thinking of paper dolls, too — we used to make our own when i was little. ooh, so many possibilities. :^)

Comment by Lori Pickert on February 8, 2009 at 08:08 PM

thank you, julia. :^)

yes, especially in art, it’s those who persist who end up as artists, right?

Comment by Arwen on February 9, 2009 at 02:11 PM

Christina, that's a good point. I look at a book list like this as a recommendation of what to have on my bookshelves and that I can suggest to my kids. When I was in elementary school, I remember loving to read, but having trouble, once I was beyond Dr. Suess, finding books to read. I didn't really know how or where to find good books on my level. I'm sure I could have read adult-level books, but I wouldn't have been able to relate to them. Maybe that's one reason Harry Potter and other books are so popular - they give kids something to read that's on that level, that they can relate to and at the same time it doesn't insult their intellegence.

So at the very least, I think a list of book recommendations for that age is a good idea.

On that note, I never answered Lori's question about what I would put on the list. I don't know that I would call them "everyone should read" books, but I would highly recommend them to the young reader, because I really enjoyed them at that age and I still think they are great books: Wrinkle in Time and The Westing Game. I would probably add the Redwall books as well.

Comment by Arwen on February 9, 2009 at 02:22 PM

Lori, I have another question for you as someone with experience in teaching art to kids. I have been asked to give a drawing class to a group of girls from church (ages 8-11) and help them draw a picture they can display at their recognition night. I have "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" and "Drawing With Children" and have been in many drawing classes myself over the years, but I'm still not sure where the best place is going to be to start with them. If you had a group of kids that age for only one hour, what would you focus on?

Comment by Lori Pickert on February 9, 2009 at 04:17 PM

arwen, i love l'engle's time series (and so do the boys!). :^)

wow, just an hour, total? or an hour class that lasts X days?

Comment by Christina on February 9, 2009 at 06:07 PM

Arwen, I completely agree with you about using book lists like this as recommendations (whether they are intended that way or not). I found myself doing that with book lists all the time: "Hmmmm, we've read that, and that, and that, but not that . . . put that on the 'to read' list." Perhaps I take issue more with the "should read" part than the actual list itself. Does that make sense? This certainly goes back to the 'perfectionism' issue I mentioned in my last post. I just have to continually remind myself that it's OK if my kids and I don't get to every good book out there. That would be impossible. There are just sooooo many good things to get to! Wasn't there a discussion on this very topic a week or two back concerning activities? Books are just like activities: you have to carefully select the best . . . for you.

Comment by Arwen on February 9, 2009 at 06:48 PM

Yeah, just an hour total, give or take.

Comment by Lori Pickert on February 9, 2009 at 10:30 PM

well, let’s see, arwen. i had good success with doing observational drawings of flowers with my art class. i called a local florist and asked if they would save me some flowers that were a little too past their prime for selling, then picked up a large bunch of them for class .. handed them out and then drew them observationally with colored pencils.

if you even had a chance to do two hour-long classes, you could do the observational drawing lesson first *then* move on to drawing the flowers. it’s hard to fit exploration and purposeful working into a single hour. but i have a lot of faith in you. ;^)

Comment by Arwen on February 10, 2009 at 12:34 AM

You've given me some ideas. Maybe we'll do watercolors instead of drawing.

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