Open thread

Published by Lori Pickert on October 9, 2010 at 12:50 AM

The thing always happens that you really believe in; and the belief in a thing makes it happen. — Frank Lloyd Wright

Live your questions now, and perhaps even without knowing it, you will live along some distant day into your answers. — Rainier Maria Rilke

Open thread, friends — what’s up with you and yours? Tell me, because I really want to know.


Comment by sarah :: greenclogs on October 9, 2010 at 03:56 AM

What are we up to? Finding a groove that includes an almost mobile baby. Getting outside again. Practicing respect toward one another and learning to collaborate again. Multiplication tables. Girl Scouts. Guitar learning. Story writing. Learning all about the development and running of a restaurant (I'm looking forward to recipe testing- especially desserts!). Planning a fall garden. Making quilts and softies and fall clothes. Reading on the new Kindle. Considering a curriculum that will provide some flexible structure for the one who needs it. Hoping we're moving back home soon and eying all of our belongings to see what will make the cut. Taking a trip to LA next week and going to the beach and the Getty and the tar pits, as well as hanging out with the biggest sister. Clearing away the clutter - both mental and physical. Breathing. Simplifying. Enjoying each other and where we are right now. Wishing there was more sleep for me and less (at least less late) for the kids.

Now that I write it down, it looks like a lot. How about you?

Comment by Lori Pickert on October 9, 2010 at 12:38 PM

sarah, did you really just end that list with simplifying? :^)

congrats on maybe moving back home!! :D

it sounds like life is very, very full right now. :^) are you watching a lot of food network? the restaurant project sounds great — i want to hear more about that as it develops!

as for me, i was just coming on to say what i’ve been up to ...

the 10yo is getting way back into making lego stop-motion animations, and after reading tutorials on youtube he decided he needed an enclosed space with no natural light. the only space in our house that qualified was our one closet.

so we’ve been turning a walk-in closet into an animation studio .. and solving the problem of where to put *all* of our clothes .. and the myriad other things that lived in our single closet. :)

i love that he asked for the space, and i love even more that everyone in the family was willing to bend to give it to him.

dedicated space to support self-directed learning .. can’t beat it! :)

Comment by sarah :: greenclogs on October 9, 2010 at 03:35 PM

Ha! It does look like a lot when written down, but most days it's relaxed and proceeding at its own pace. I have to admit that Girl Scouts day really messes up my rhythm but she loves it.

I love that you were willing to give up the closet to the animation studio. We don't have a closet with natural light.

Some food network is watched around here, but I think the interest was spurred by his time at the bakery this summer and by the restaurant game on Facebook.
Right now he's planning everything - he made a list of the different aspects of opening and running a restaurant, and he's designing the physical space right now. I love this project because it involves everything he loves - food, design, space arrangement, organizing everything, etc. and it stretches him in a lot of ways. Annika is still working on her farm project, and she plans to be his food supplier.

I am super excited about potentially moving back home - it would mean the world to all of us. We should find out in the next couple of weeks - it's taking a long time to work out but if it happens, it'll be so worth it. Remind me of that when I complain about the rain. :)

I need to post pictures of the revamp of the kids' dedicated spaces. It has helped a ton in their working together. I'm sure a dedicated animation studio would be very popular around here, too!

Comment by Lori Pickert on October 9, 2010 at 08:01 PM

the restaurant and the farm projects dovetail nicely!

crossing my fingers for you re: the move. :)

i would love to see pictures of the kids' spaces. i am probably going to write a post about the animation studio. i just wish i'd remembered to take a before shot!

Comment by nancy on October 10, 2010 at 10:49 AM

We are wrapping up our Greek Mythology theme with a Fall dress up party next weekend. I am making Greek costumes for the kids, one will be Zeus, one Poseidon and the littlest will be Athena or Persephone most likely.
The second batch of cousins that have lived next door since May, moved yesterday. The next few weeks will involve getting into a new routine and discovering new interests. Glad Fall is here to help!
Love the idea of the animation studio and you are one cool family to give up your ONLY closet. Looking forward to the progress report and the animation that comes out of it!

Comment by Lori Pickert on October 10, 2010 at 02:11 PM

nancy, j would be in heaven .. he did a greek mythology project years ago that he renewed every year. whatever his new plans were, at the end he would say "...AND greek mythology." :)

he branched out eventually into other myths. i really like the norse myths. :)

the animation studio is pretty darn cool. it'll be great to have this winter!

Comment by Anne Thrall-Nash on October 12, 2010 at 05:25 AM

I am really starting to watch my son, who is almost 3, at his play. Haven't found a way to journal it simultaneously. As soon as I start he wants to know what I'm doing/wants the pen for himself and it breaks his concentration for what he was doing. This morning he was doing a little coloring on postcards to send to Grandma and Papa. When he was done, the beeswax block crayons turned into building materials. And then he colored a little with markers, but then when I asked him to put the caps back on, it became this whole game about fitting all the markers together in one big line. Definitely into building more than the coloring. :)

He is very much a kid that wants to be doing whatever you're doing all the time(I cannot cook without him by my elbow. Neither can my husband do anything with any kind of tool without him right in the middle of the project) or else is constantly asking "Mummy will you help me with this?" Which really means he wants me to participate with him. I know he is still very young, but I can't see him ever working independently. How do you lay the foundation for this kind of project work at this young an age with a child with this kind of personality?

Comment by Deirdre on October 12, 2010 at 08:16 AM

I love that the only spot in your house without natural light is a closet:)

We finished step 1 in presenting a project-based program for 3rd graders and *shockingly* everyone was receptive! One teacher made the point she didn't want participants to feel "punished" with more work, but wanted it to be creative time even if not necessarily Art time. Thanks for all your help!

Also just discovered which will let me get your posts (I think) in my email box...since I've given up on all blog readers and my computer ever getting along:)

Comment by patricia on October 13, 2010 at 07:52 PM

Well, I'm a little late to the party, but since the party still seems to be going...

Remember that quote I sent you a few weeks back? Isn't it a little uncanny how it mirrors the Wright quote?

"By believing passionately in something that still does not exist, we create it. The nonexistent is what we have not sufficiently desired." --Nikos Kazantzakis

Anyway, you already know what I've been up to because you have so kindly offered your ear lately...My youngest is fascinating me, yet again, with his tendencies to take a straightforward idea and tweak it to his liking. First he wanted to make a timeline of ancient history, based on The Story of the World, which we've been listening to. But about three minutes after he came up with that idea, he decided that it would be much more interesting to make a timeline of his own invented world. Then a few days later, he got all worked up about the idea of making a plaster map of the Nile, after seeing something similar in a book. But after about thirty seconds, he decided that it would be much more intriguing to make a plaster map of his own invented world.

Do you see a pattern here?

I've been thinking a lot about this. What's interesting is that years ago I might have thought that doing these activities with T's invented world, rather than <i>real</i> places would have been somewhat less educational and valuable. But seeing how immersed and creative my kids get with these self-devised projects has changed my mind about all that. I'm writing a post on my own blog that will try to dissect why I think that is.

But I will say this: watching my kids animate something from their own minds is not only interesting for them; it's utterly fascinating for me.

Comment by Lori Pickert on October 15, 2010 at 01:18 AM

anne, how wonderful that you are doing the observing even though he's preventing you from taking notes. ;^)

if you play it very cool and make your notebook a normal part of everyday life, maybe he'll get used to it. :^)

i am sure he *will* work independently as he gets older, and i think you are already laying the foundations for project work with the type of activities you are encouraging and the attention you are paying. you might try giving him his own sketchbook and pen, laying it out, and then just doing your own work side by side. he may stop, draw for awhile, then go back to what he was doing. but i think you also have to give him that time when you will play with him, or he'll be in constant waiting/asking mode.

one way to lay the foundation for project work (there are many -- that subject deserves its own post :) is to be clear and dependable about giving him your time. you might not ask a two-year-old to wait very long, but you could say "i have to do this work and then in ten minutes i will do that with you." then do it. once he understands that you really will do what you say, he should be able to relax and learn to wait (fairly) patiently. ;^)

it sounds like you are making a great start!

deirdre, actually, the closet does have a window, but it is very small and easy to block! :)

that is wonderful news about your program!! i will give you any help i can along the way. ^)

patricia, imagine if you shut down all his ideas because they weren't "real" (even though he is obviously riffing off what he's learning) and tried to force him back onto the "curriculum" .. that's a great recipe for disengagement .. and the message that it's not about *you*, my child.

one of the ways i know that project learning has "worked" for my sons is that they treat everything they encounter as something they can own, extend, change, alter, and make their own!

Comment by Nic on October 17, 2010 at 03:42 AM

Something interesting that's happening here is my biggest boy (8) has decided to teach an art class to his friends in our backyard one afternoon a week. He's just started an art class with a local artist which is what got him thinking about it, and he wants to share the joy. The weather is getting warmer (we're on the east coast of Australia) hence the backyard idea. The biggest learning experience here so far is for me: how to stand back, offer suggestions only when asked for, not interfere, not suggest subjuct matter/format etc...and then see what happens. So far a couple of his friends are keen.
Other than that we're watching beans seeds shoot up and baby basils resist the wind...I'm amazed at all the things Sarah is up to- I feel positively stagnant by comparison!

Comment by kellyi on October 20, 2010 at 03:10 PM

We've hit a bump at the moment, and I'm trying really hard to juggle the needs of four children, but failing!

The dynamics have shifted, and my 2 year old (used to being around older children) constantly requires a playmate, he goes against the popular theory that children his age play alongsiden others. He very much plays WITH his siblings and desires their company when they are doing other things.

This can be very tricky. We try and take it in turns, but this doesn't always work very well and choas can ensue.

How do others adapt their time to suit a range of ages? I have a 9 year old girl and three boys aged 7, 6 and 2.

Comment by amy on October 30, 2010 at 02:12 AM

Hi Lori! What am I up to... enjoying my youngest, who just turned two. I enjoy her immensely. I spend a lot of time playing Truck, which is her current favorite game. The boys are loving school, still, and our local district is doing everything it can to limit choice, giving hs'ers a hard time and refusing to pay for charter school students. I'm being inspired by a recent family workshop at the local art museum, and figuring out how to make better use of our art space. I'm realizing the resources I want aren't online, and I'm considering blogging again, to provide it. (The old hs'er adage: if you don't see what you want, create it!) I'm amazed that you seem to be the only Reggio Emilia-inspired blogger out there. That's more or less what I'm up to. ;)

Comment by Andrea on November 6, 2010 at 07:30 PM

We have a group of homeschoolers here that are both eclectic and some are unschoolers, its hard to put labels on things, but we are interested in starting a school of our own. Do you have any ideas on starting a Reggio inspired school? I know you used to run one.

Comment by Mags on November 21, 2010 at 01:32 PM

Hi Lori;
I am missing your thought-provoking posts.
And any updates on your book? Is it coming soon?!

Comment by Julia on December 22, 2010 at 06:51 AM

Hello Lori,
Stumbled upon your blog and I am so inspired by what you do. I have a 5 yr. old girl and 8 yr. old boy. Originally from Chicago, lived in London a few years and came back to the states recently over to San Diego.

The homework load is brutal here in San Diego, which I'm not sure if that is a good thing or not, but I'm so interested on learning how to encourage my son's love of non-fiction topics. For instance he is very interested in mummies and recently Greek mythology. I'm sure I'll find some gems roaming around your blog, but if you have any specifics on how to get some creative juices flowing I would much appreciate it.

Happy Holidays and Thanks again for sharing!

Comment by Lori Pickert on January 4, 2011 at 04:40 PM

i'm so sorry it took me so long to respond. my wonderful grandmother passed away, and i took a long blog break. it really made me feel good to come back and find so many great messages from friends. i apologize for being such a poor correspondent!

nic, what a fantastic thing -- and so perfect, too -- taking what he was learning and immediately teaching it to someone else. no better way to cement the knowledge, and obviously he was passionate about the subject! how did your son's art class turn out?

my older son taught chess to kindergarten students at my private school; he just had (and still has) a natural gift for teaching, and it was so fascinating to watch how he would decide to teach something so complex. he was quite young himself at the time. :)

now, years later, he is considering pursuing some form of teaching for his future career. i love having seen him develop that talent over the years. :)

kelly, how are things going now? :) your question is wonderful and i will promote it at the next open thread on saturday; maybe we'll get some responses! my own suggestion (assuming the problem hasn't solved itself in the meantime ;) would be to create a special time for him to interact, so that he can depend on it and not stress about it and demand constant interaction. set a timer or just get into a very dependable routine. at the end of a period of time, have him share what he's been doing and listen to his siblings share, then give him loads of attention. you might also bring out something very special that's only available when his sibs are busy doing their own thing .. art supplies or a train set, that sort of thing. that's my 2 cents! ;)

amy, i cannot *believe* that your youngest is two. i want to hear more about your reggio experiments! come back and tell me more. i'll be doing an open thread on saturday if you can swing by, or just e-mail me! xoxo

hi andrea, i'm afraid my ideas and experiences about running a reggio-inspired school are too big to fit into this format. :) feel free to e-mail me with specific questions, though; i would love to give you any help i can!

hi mags, thank you so much for checking up on me. :) the book was nearly finished when i set it aside in october, so we'll see if i can get it out before too long!

hi julia, and thank you so much. i am pretty sure brutal homework is not a good thing. ;) i hope you had a bit of a read around the blog in my absence; if you want to chat about things, please drop by the open thread this weekend or e-mail me anytime. xo

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