5 Creative Projects with Driftwood

Driftwood has to be one of my favourite art materials. It’s free, beautifully organic, and involves getting out into nature to collect it.

Every spring, I take the girls on a driftwood hunt on the banks of Winnipeg’s Red River. On these nature walks, we usually end up discovering much more than driftwood, which always leads to other investigations and learning.

In my work with children and families in classrooms and child care centres, I have used driftwood on several occasions. Here are a few examples.

Planted Texture Trees

The child care centre I was working with was looking to have more colour in their space, but were limited with what they could hang or affix to the walls. Thinking outside the box, we decided to bring colour and visual interest in a unique way.

We also use our texture tree as a puppet-tree - storage for our puppets! I use puppets for storytelling, to engage children in my InspirEd at Home classes, and, when the girls were younger, as a prop for...

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How to Choose a Curriculum for Young Learners

 

If you’re dabbling with the idea of homeschooling your little one this fall, you may be wondering about WHICH curriculum to use, and whether you even NEED a curriculum as you begin your homeschool journey.

And If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a parent who values play, creativity and nurturing your child’s wonder about the world.

You're likely the kind of parent who believes in a slow, gentle and natural approach to learning, and don’t like the idea of pushing hard academics, prolonged periods of seatwork, and countless worksheets and flashcards.

These ARE the good old days, and you know childhood’s too short and precious to sit at a desk for five hours a day.

 Truth be told, you don’t NEED a curriculum for the early years.

Learning in the early years should be play-based, experiential, capturing our children’s wonder and delight in their curiosity.  It should be free of pressure, gentle and...

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Bookmaking: Explode Your Child's Writing Collection!

 

Ready to watch your child's writing EXPLODE?

Try bookmaking!

Writing comes in all shapes, forms and sizes. It's not limited to journal writing or stories.

In fact, sometimes those exercises can feel most intimidating to kids, turning them off for good.

Handmade books offer wonderful structures to be filled with all kinds of writing:

  •  recipes
  • joke books
  • math stories
  • all-about-me books
  • counting books
  • biographies
  • ABC books
  • life cycle books (think frogs, butterflies...)
  • circle books (think stories like If you give a Mouse a Cookie or Something from Nothing)
  • fairy tale retellings

The list goes on and on.

And there are SO many styles of books waiting to be filled with your child's ideas.

All you need is a bit of inspiration! I've got the perfect invitation to explore this hidden gem of an art form!

Join me for my LIVE bookmaking workshop as we explore beautiful handmade books you can make with children from ages 5-105 (that means...

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How to Get your Child to Write {even if they hate writing!}

 

Writing can be a daunting task - particularly for our youngest learners, and especially for our "perfectionist" non-risk takers. 

If the idea of writing has your kids resisting or butting heads with you, try these simple strategies to go from writing reluctance to writing receptiveness. Even if your child is just beginning to learn letters and sounds, they too can experience what it means to be an author!

1. Talk first. Write later.

"Writing floats on a sea of talk." - James Britton

The spoken word precedes the written word.  Before a child is capable of writing, they must have stories to tell. Providing opportunities to share orally is some of the best work we can do as parents to prepare fertile ground to plant the seeds for creative writing.

Small world play is one of the best sources for storytelling, because children are narrating their playscapes with characters - little people, dinosaurs, animals - which later...

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The Art of Bookmaking with Kids

 

 Bringing bookmaking into the your homeschool is where ART and LITERACY intersect.

The writing process can often be a daunting process, especially for reluctant writers.

Handmade books give children a structure, "architecture for the imagination," and entice them to fill their books with original ideas and stories. 

Handmade books excite and engage children of all ages, because they are not only beautiful in form, but an extension of themselves. 

A finished handmade book is something to celebrate and cherish forever. 

 

Handmade books are a wonderful way to bring the worlds of ART + LITERACY home to your child.

Not only will your child have more ownership of their learning once they've created and published their own book, but you'll have a concrete piece of learning for their portfolio. 

Bookmaking is an art form that can be explored even with very young children, and can take on...

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A Reggio-Inspired Valentine's Day: Literacy from the He{ART} ♡ Part 1

 

Valentine's Day is one of my favorite celebrations throughout the year, and a beautiful opportunity for learning about our most important and universal value: love.

What is LOVE? 

Who are the people we love?

How do we show love?

Have you ever asked your child these questions? Their answers might surprise you {and make you giggle!}

"Love is a hug and a kiss after I get a boo-boo."

"Love is cuddles."

"Love is when my mom makes pancakes."

Over the coming days, I'll be sharing a series of Reggio-inspired invitations to explore the idea of LOVE as we weave in important aspects of reading, writing and representing through Language Arts.

Today's blog post shares a special DIY bookmaking activity to explore "LOVE" with children, integrating playful literacy in a meaningful and authentic way. The goal is to encourage our kids to write with purpose in a gentle and age-appropriate manner.

DIY Handmade Book

This DIY book structure, called a Concertina book, shines a...

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Teach Gratitude through Art {and a great booklist too!}

 

A Reggio-Inspired Invitation to explore Gratitude

Gratitude is an abstract concept for many children, but books and art make it so much more concrete and experiential. The following is a booklist to support your children's examination of what it means to be grateful, and the video includes a beautiful art invitation through the language of clay. 

There’s an old adage that says if the only prayer you say in your life is Thank You it will be enough. As a child I remember my grandpa standing at the head of a long table, 30+ people waiting to eat, waxing eloquent about his full heart and giving thanks that each of us kept showing up.  Now, as an adult, I am constantly looking for ways to teach my young children about such an abstract concept as gratitude. 

What does gratitude look like? How do we best show it? And more importantly, when does teaching basic manners like “please” and “thank you” translate to helping children have full...

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How to Teach Reading in Homeschool

 

Wondering what it takes to teach your child to read?

How do you know when your child is ready? 

Are you worried about turning them off of reading, or butting heads as you begin the process?

Teaching your child to read may feel overwhelming. There are a lot of moving parts. 

As a resource teacher working with children and teachers, I was able to lean in on others’ classrooms and get a ton of great ideas. These teachers inspired me to raise the bar, and one, in particular - the Reading Recovery teacher - had a profound impact on my practice with her simplified tools to teach reading.

She had a giant tickletrunk of tools - many of them very playful and hands-on -  and I couldn’t help myself from eavesdropping every time she did a lesson. These struggling kids learned to read SO QUICKLY - with confidence, ease and fluency. 

I took stock of the strategies she used, and started to test them out in my own practice, and later on with my own girls. I was...

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Teach your Child to Write: the Simple, Playful Way

 

Do you wonder exactly HOW to teach your child to write {without butting heads / bribery or boring worksheets} in your homeschool?

Where do we start?

What does writing in the early years even look like? How does it fit into a Reggio-Inspired approach?

How much is too much? And do we push them, even when they resist?

Teaching writing is part art and part science. It requires a set of tools and a bit of knowledge about how kids develop and learn. When I taught in my Reggio-Inspired Kindergarten, I learned some pretty amazing tricks of the trade. Through my years of experience teaching hundreds of children - many of them reluctant - I honed my teacher toolbox with tried-and-true strategies. This article and video share some of my "teacher hacks" - a set of concrete tools to help make teaching writing easier for you, and more fun for them. 

“Writing floats on a sea of talk.” - James Britton

Oral language precedes the written word....

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These are a few of my favorite things... {non-traditional homeschool supplies}

 

Parents of preschoolers and little ones: ready to bust boredom, and inject some creativity and artful learning into your homeschool day? 

Young kids are built to move, to create and build  - and that's exactly what these unconventional supplies encourage.

Weave these unexpected, inexpensive supplies into everyday learning to up-level the fun-factor in your homeschool program!

For those of you who enjoy hearing AND seeing, be sure to check out the full video above!

 

1. India Ink

A beautiful medium for creating strongpunchy bold lines, India Ink is a unique tool to create expressive portraits,  working BIG on easel paper, or creating fun script, alphabet letters and numbers. Available on Amazon or Michaels, I offer a BIG disclaimer: India Ink is highly staining. So get outside, and don those big sloppy smocks!

2. Sharpie

Fine-line Sharpie markers are not for the faint of heart,...

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