TH Art Guild – Nevelson – Aug. 17, 2016

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Every 6 weeks, our group meets for Art Guild, a hands-on art class based on the book, ‘Discovering Great Artists‘ that provides easy to do art projects in the style of the artist the lesson is focused on. This month, our subject was Louise Nevelson, whose massive monochromatic found-art sculptures are both interesting and inspired. We took a page from her book and gathered all kinds of junk, from paper and plastic tubes and bottles to keys and other bits of metal and bric-a-brak. The kids used a combination of school glue, hot glue and tape to create a single, stand alone work of sculpture and then spray-painted it to mimic Nevelson’s style. Once all the pieces were painted, we assembled them all into a somewhat uniform larger piece. Though our work was not quite as impressive as Nevelson’s, it was a great introduction to modern art, and hopefully gave the kids a glimpse of what is possible for their own experimentation with art.

 

TH Art Guild – Toulouse Latrec – March 9, 2016

 

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Each month, we get together for our Art Guild. We’re using the book ‘Discovering Great Artists‘ as our guide, and so far, it’s been great! Several of our families have the book, and work lessons into their personal curriculum during the interval between art classes. This month, we’re studying Henri Toulouse Latrec, and the kids made event posters inspired by his style.

If you’re interested in joining us for our next class, visit our group on Facebook!
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TH Art Guild – Landscape Art – February 17, 2016

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At this meeting of the TH Art Guild we were focusing on the work of a contemporary sculptor and photographer, Andy Goldsworthy. His site-specific, environmental and land art has contributed greatly to the emergence of a new movement in the world of art, which utilizes the natural environment, both large and small, as a medium of creation.

Another important element of his work, and one that we also experimented with (as you can see in the gallery below) is the use of photography in the documentation of ephemeral works of art. Because such creations can’t be transported and won’t withstand the ravages of the natural environment, our photographs were the final, documentary step in the artistic process.

Unfortunately, Andy Goldsworthy isn’t in our text, Discovering Great Artists, but you can learn more about him and his art here.

No supplies were needed for this project (other than a cell phone camera), as we gathered our materials from the environment. If you’d like to try something like this, a knife might be useful (though it definitely isn’t a requirement), and we would actually discourage bringing any materials with you or attempting to formulate any preconceived plans for your creation. One of the foundations of site-specific, land art is the artist’s ability to connect with the specific environment, become inspired by it, and utilize the unique materials it offers.

 

TH Art Guild: Picasso – January 2016

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This year, we started an art-focused class, held every 6 weeks, based on the book Discovering Great Artists by Kohl and Solga. This was our first class, and we had an awesome turnout! The kids brought their completed self-portraits, and after the lesson on Picasso’s life and style, the kids (and a couple of the moms) cut the pictures apart and re-assembled them, Picasso-style. After embellishing them with other craft supplies, we called them masterpieces.

Our next lesson will be on Toulouse-Lautrec, and impressionism. If you’re interested in joining us, check out our Facebook group and plan on joining us at our next Park Day!

 

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Social Studies Club – Australia – Jan. 2016

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The kids chose Australia as the subject of the social studies club this month. Topics can include pretty much anything, from current events in that country, to history, agriculture, wildlife, art, local flair, tourism – anything the students want the focus of their project and presentation to be on.

As always, a huge part of this meeting is the food! We encourage each family to prepare a dish from that country to share. Since Australia’s mother country is England, we had some favorites that were both familiar and country-appropriate.

Next month, we’re focusing on Hawaii. If you’re interested in joining us, check us out on Facebook!

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Social Studies Club – Japan

Every month, our group hosts a social studies club, focused on a single country or region. For the month of December, our country of focus was Japan. The kids all do a project of their choice. I love this format, because it means that all the kids can participate; it’s not limited to any grade level or ability. They also get to choose whatever area of study they want to work in, so the projects can be whatever strikes their fancy, from history, to current events, culture, politics, daily life – whatever they’re interested in.

In addition to their project and presentation, we also bring food from that culture. Today, we had several really great recipes, including: rice bowls with chicken breast and bell peppers in oyster sauce, rice noodles with spring veggies, nama chocolate maccha,  and sunomono (cucumber salad). Yum!

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Space Center Houston

We had the most amazing time at Space Center Houston’s Homeschool Day! This was our first trip as a group, and though we didn’t get a ‘whole group’ picture, Southeast Texas was represented with 5 of our Triangle Homeschoolers families. They had tons of activities, classes and workshops, and so the day was jam-packed with one thing after another. We had plenty of time, but were pretty busy the whole time we were there.

Next year’s Homeschool Day is October 1, 2015. If you’ve never been, be sure to get your tickets early, and be sure to sign up for classes ahead of time. They tend to fill up quickly (especially STEM and robotics). With offerings for students as well as parents, there’s plenty to see and learn and do!

5th Annual NBTS Brunch

This week, we hosted our 5th ‘Not Back to School’ brunch. Each year, on the day that our local ISD goes back to school, we celebrate swimming outside the mainstream by taking the day off. Instead of getting up early and heading back into the classroom, we enjoy having empty parks and the last of the summer sun to ourselves.

This year, we met at Roger’s Park for some splashtime fun, with breakfast and brunch goodies to share. The kids got to play and the moms got to talk about lesson planning and curricula for the coming year. If you’re interested in joining us, contact us!

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Big Thicket: Kirby Trail ‘Armadillo Amble’ Night Hike

If you’ve never been  on a nighttime hike, then you’re definitely missing out. Something about being out in the woods after dark makes you feel like a kid again – and there are tons of things to see that you just can’t see during the day.

In Southeast Texas, both Village Creek State Park and the Big Thicket offer occasional nighttime hikes that are family friendly. They’re often themed; in this case, we were hunting armadillos, but past themes have included bats, black-light reactive critters (like scorpions), and insects.

If you’re a nighttime newbie, there are some great tips in this article from How Stuff Works, including tips (like bringing a red-light flashlight or headlamp to help see without destroying your night vision).

If you’re a fan of nighttime hiking, how’d you get started? What’s your favorite location? What do you like best? Feel free to comment and let us know!
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Secular Homeschool Conference – Roger’s Park

Triangle Homeschoolers Summer Mini-Conference

Today, our group held the first ever secular homeschool conference in Beaumont. It wasn’t a big fancy affair; there were a total of 7 moms and 12 kids there. But you don’t need a huge group for an event to be successful!

Our seminar covered the basics of getting started. I said that I would post links to many of the things we talked about today, so here they are:

*Homeschooling and Texas Law*

Homeschooling Law in TX  (synopsis)

HSLDA website

  • In Texas, homeschool families are considered private school and as such, are are not subject to regulation by the school district or state (this includes standardized testing and compulsory attendance edicts), and are exempt from school-time curfews (with identification).
  • Since homeschooling is legal in Texas and operate independently from a school district, you do not have to allow the school district representatives to ‘review’ or ‘approve’ your child’s curriculum.
  • The only the requirement for legal homeschooling in Texas is to homeschool in a bona fide manner, with a written curriculum consisting of reading, spelling, grammar, mathematics, and good citizenship. This can be as simple as a sheet of paper with these subjects written on it.

*Methods and Philosophy*

The method an philosophy has to do with how you think that children (your children) learn best, and what you think school should be. We all start out with preconceived notions about these things, and sometimes, we find that we were right all along. Other times, we may need to choose a new direction. Reading about the various styles of homeschooling that are out there gives you a ‘niche’ for what you are already thinking. For the most part, why re-invent the wheel? Homeschooling has been around for generations. Though each new generation adds a new twist on an old idea, when you’re just starting out, knowing where you fall in the ‘structured…. unstructured’ scale can help find resources that will be closer to what you’re looking for and makes a good place to begin your research. Here are overviews of some of the more well-known methods and philosophies out there:

*Learning Styles and What they Mean to You*

Everyone gathers information about the world through three sensory receivers: visual (sight), auditory (sound), and kinesthetic (movement). Some people rely most on visual cues, others prefer auditory input, and still others learn best through movement. Educators refer to these differences as learning styles. How does knowing your child’s learning style help? By identifying your child’s dominant learning style you can tailor their education to lean heavily in that direction so that they learn best. Public schools tend to be ‘one-size-fits-all’ in their approach. Homeschooling with an eye toward your child’s learning style will help make schooling more enjoyable for you and the, and maximize their learning potential.

 

Learning Styles

  • Auditory – listeners: They may learn to talk early on, and may enjoy listening to tapes and playing musical instruments. Auditory learners are often talkative. They may like to read aloud, recall commercials word for word, or do tongue twisters. In school, they may memorize math facts much more easily in a song or poem than from flash cards.
  • Kinesthetic – hands-on: Kids who love taking things apart to see how they work, or who are obsessed with building toys may be kinesthetic learners. Kinesthetic kids are often in constant motion, their movements are well coordinated, and they are anxious to crawl and walk as quickly as possible. In a classroom, kinesthetic learners can be fidgety. They’ll often be the first to volunteer to do something —anything—active. They want to do an experiment not watch it or read about it.
  • Visual – watchers: As babies, they are often drawn to lights, colors, and movement. They revel in colorful toys and piles of picture books. Visual learners enjoy and learn easily from pictures, handouts, videos, and films. In school, they can learn science principles by watching a science experiment rather than having to conduct the experiment themselves.

Not leaving the teacher out, there are different teaching styles, too. One of the great benefits of homeschooling is the ability to tailor-make your education program. Everything is yours to try, tinker with or discard in favor of a new or changing idea or need. As a teacher, you’re interacting with your child in a different way than as a parent. The two are closely related, of course,  but what you want for your child may be different at an age, o what they need from you may call for more or less structure. So learning your teaching style is also helpful. I am sure there are more, but the way I like it explained best is Directive, Guide and Facilitator. All of these can work with basically any schooling philosophy or method, though it might take some finagling.

Teaching stylesTeaching Styles

  • Director – had total control over all aspects of the child’s education. Parent sets mood, tone, lessons, materials, and every aspect of what the child learns. I see this as more of an elementary level style of teaching, though some children who tend to be easily distracted may work better having everything laid out for them.
  • Guidance – Parent still sets most tone, but has slightly more input from the child. Parent helps guide the child to subjects, activities and research that are in-line with his/her interests and goals. I see this as more of a middle-school style of teaching, though may work for independent children who work well alone.
  • Facilitator – Parent is solely there to facilitate – to learn about and promote learning through the child’s interests. And/Or the parent is there to help, but the child’s education is largely self-directed. I see this more of a high-school age style of teaching, but also works well for children who are very self-motivated and who need little by way of encouragement.

Obviously, this list is not complete, but may help you determine what your style is, and what your child may need from you. Often, if you have more than one child, each of your children may need something different from you.

*Curricula – Finding What Works*

Finding the exact right curricula can be absolutely overwhelming. There are literally hundreds of options, and often many options associated with different methods. Finding what fits your family can be challenging at best. First, knowing what fits in line with your personal philosophy and what method you want to use is important. That will eliminate may curriculum options right off the bat. Identifying your student’s learning style and your teaching style will further narrow the options. Once you have those things out of the way, there are several places you can begin.

Grade level (or age/peer group) can be a good place to start. If your child is being pulled from school, unless you know they were behind, you should be able to pick up with that grade level work. If your child was consistently getting lower scores, it might be worth it to drop down a grade and work on cementing the previous foundations before moving on. Don’t feel bad if you need to do that; your student will soon catch up and even surpass his peers.

Many parents feel that it’s a good idea to have a ‘spine’ – a framework that tells you what your child ‘should be’ learning. This is often found in the scope & sequence. What is ‘scope & sequence’? A couple of options are:

Core Knowledge K-8th Grade Sequence 

Texas Education Agency Scope & Sequence

You also want to figure out your schedule. Many homeschoolers take more frequent, shorter breaks than public schools. We school for 4 weeks, then have a week break, then pick up again. Others have different schedules; you’ll find out your own. That may be closely aligned to the ISD, or may be totally different. Do what works for your family.

*Getting Started – Homeschooling, Year One*

Tip #1: Don’t buy anything ‘big’ the first year – no curricula, don’t re-model your house. There are PLENTY of free homeschooling resources that you can use the first year. The last thing you want to be is locked into an expensive curriculum that both/either you and/or your child hate(s).

Tip #2: Look at your first year as an ‘exploratory’ year. Try different styles, experiment with times and days, try out different methods. See what works and what doesn’t. After a fully year, you’ll have a much better idea of your teaching style, and of your child(ren)’s learning style. You’ll be able to spend that whole year trying new things and ideas and will have a much better idea of how YOUR homeschool will work when you start planning for Year 2.

For me, setting up our space helped get me in the frame of mind. Having our school space separate from the ‘home’ seems to help us all focus a little better. That’s not to say that we’re trapped in here during school. We’re just as likely to work on the living room floor, retreat to their own bedrooms, have school on mom’s bed, have school outside, pack up and head to the park… all totally valid options. But just having that space helps me out a lot.  Of course, that’s not practical for every family, and many families just don’t want that. Again, do what works for you! There are so many options – if you don’t know what you want right off the bat, start with one thing, then change it if it doesn’t work. Flexibility is one of your greatest ‘teaching tools’.

 

Another tip is to join a homeschooling group. If there’s not one in your area, start one and you can learn together with the other th logonewbies. If there is absolutely nothing in your area, find a good forum or group to join online. Having someone you can talk to to vent, praise your children bounce ideas off of, share resources, talk about your latest field trip, gripe about your non-supportive family or in-laws… whatever – having that support is absolutely essential in my opinion.

The blogosphere is awesome, too. I have learned so much from reading other blogs! Moms that inspire, Moms that I am in awe of, Moms that make me laugh, Moms that really make me think… there are SO MANY homeschooling moms of every variety, of every style and method – it’s truly amazing how much these bloggin’ mamas share. Feel free to check out my sidebar – there are tons of links!

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If you were able to be with us today, THANK YOU for coming out! If there is anything missing from today’s mini-con, please comment and let us know! Hope to see you soon!

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