Saturday, February 9, 2013

Encouraging Letter writing

Since she could pick up a crayon, Miss K has always loved making cards and pictures to give to everyone. These days she loves to write letters on her own handmade stationery.  In early December she had learnt all about the components of a letter.  We got hands on practice by writing to Santa Claus. The letters the Piwi’s got in return got Miss K thinking about who else she could write to. Getting mail is fun!
It is more than fun though, the Piwi's learn a lot from writing all these letters. For example:

  • Formal letter writing requires planning and following a set formula.  It is a good contrast to the creative writing and poetry Miss K also enjoys. The planning and writing of a ‘rough copy’ first has also allowed her to take more responsibility for proofreading her work.

  • Miss K really takes pride in the ‘good copy’ of her letters, her handwriting is getting neater and she is expressing an interest in starting lessons in cursive.

  • The Piwi’s are also practicing patience (waiting for replies), caring (writing a note to brighten someone’s day), and gratitude.

With the uncertainty of the US Postal service in the news lately and the prevalence of e-communication, the art of letter writing may seem obsolete to many. I will continue to encourage my children to write letters and send letters.  Eventually they may not be sending them in the post but they will still need to be writing letters in some format. It is also a starting point for teaching other writing formats such as reports and essays.

 Here are some of the ideas we have on our list to send  letters to (or have written already)

  • Writing to the President about their concerns address 
  • Asking questions about a PBS kids show they like address
  • Write to a favorite author and tell them what you like about their books -we have found most of the author's have postal address on their website (usually for their publisher).
  • Write to local fire station, Police station thanking them for their service
  • Thank our Service people at Adopt a platoon and
  •  Write to Queen Elizabeth II -Miss K thinks this is really cool! address 
  • Send a greeting to a Disney Character -we just did last month and Miss K received an autographed Postcard. Couponing to Disney has two addresses you can write to. We are going to try the second one soon.

A week of highlights

We decided to wrap up the week a bit differently and come up with favorite moments in the week by looking back on the pictures I had taken. The week had a few unexpected hiccups so it was good to be able to go back and see just how much we had done. Aot of the pictures come from bigger activities I have unfinished posts about. I'll add links as I get to them :-)

Miss K's highlights were:
  1. Enjoying 75 degree weather at the park even though it is still technically winter 
  2. Sewing a Valentines day dress for Blue teddy
  3. Sending an update letter to the Rescue center we adopted our Siamese Kitty (Perry) from 16 months ago.
  4. Making Tuna patties for Daddy
  5. Researching online about Cacao farming in the Philippines for her time line project this week.  Miss  K enjoys learning history when it involves the subject of Chocolate
  6. Doing her lesson with Perry's help

Mini Piwi liked all the photos so I chose some favorites
  1. Playing with her Alpha pops and holding them up so Miss K and I could call out the letter and a silly word that starts with the letter.
  2. Sorting her 'treasure' into colors and trying very hard to count them 
  3. Stacking her monkeys and trying to be like big sis and adding them out loud '2 + 5, 4,3...'
  4. Practicing letter O in the the goop we made together
  5. Concentrating extra hard to cut out her drawing

Friday, February 8, 2013

Healthier Valentines Cherry Pies

I could pretend I was inspired by Valentines day but honestly it was the leftover wonton wrappers in the fridge. Last week I saw some Heart shaped pocket pies and thought I'd try to use the wrappers instead of pastry. It was also yet another way to use our giant stash of frozen cherries. Daddy Piwi bought a lot when he realised they were helping his joint boo boos.

For the filling

1/2 c frozen cherries
one grated unpeeled apple (this acts as a natural thickener)
2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Simmer all ingredients over a med -low heat, stiring constantly. Let it reduce some to become abit thicker. It ended up making more than enough for 12 mini pies. We cut the wrappers with small heart shaped cookie cutters. Each pie only needed a teaspoon of filling. If you overfill them they are going to burst. When they were sealed (by brushing water around the edges), Mini Piwi brushed them with a little safflower oil.

 They baked for about 8 mins at 350degrees before they turned golden. When they cooled you can be fancy and dust them with powdered sugar.

They have a light crispy texture and are satisfyingly crunchy. The filling was really nice and not too sweet.

I had some filling left over so we made them again when I got some more wrappers....Unfortunately now I had leftover wonton wrappers again. Hopefully I will be inspired when I open the fridge again soon...
Foodie Friends Friday

Piwi Art study: Learning about Landscapes

After our Monet study we spent last week looking at landscapes. We discovered this great series 'Come look with me'. The one we used this week was 'Exploring Landscape with Children.' by Gladys Blizzard.  The example given in the Amazon preview is for Pieter Buel the Elder's 'Hunters in the Snow' (1565), it also gives the other works of Art included in this book.

Each painting has background information which we read together and questions to encourage thought and observation.  I really appreciate the guidance it give a parent (like me) without a lot of art knowledge.  More importantly, it engages the kids. Although it is aimed towards older kids, once Mini Piwi saw Miss K pointing out parts of a painting she wanted to be involved too.

Another great resource was the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery's kids website.  .They offer interactive activities to explanation the horizon line and different perspectives. You can also make your own digital landscape. It is great to be able to instantly see the what happens when you change the horizon line of your painting and/or add different features into the foreground, middle or background.

After a few days of looking at Landscapes, the Piwi's were ready to paint their own. Before she painted I asked Miss K to ponder these questions.
  • What materials would you like to use for your art?
  • What mood will your art have?
  • What kind of weather will it show?
  • What time of day is it?
  • Will your landscape include people or animals?

She chose to paint with Tempera on Acrylic paper. Her landscape is of grassy meadow on a Spring morning. It shows a deer resting in a patch of Flowers.

I had intended on letting Mini Piwi just paint but she thought the questions I gave Miss K was a game and wanted some too! I asked to position her paper like Miss K's to make a painting of an outside picture.

Her questions were: 
  • Would her picture show Sun or the Moon?
  • Would there be leaves or flowers or trees?
  • Are there animals there?
  • Is it a noisy or quiet place?

Mini Piwi painted flowers and a sun. Later she told Daddy it was Mickey and the Sun. An artist can chance her mind!

I was so proud of the creativity the Piwi's showed! Next we moved onto another Artist study.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Piwi kid sewing lessons....Teddy clothes

After completing our sock puppet project Miss K announced she was ready to hand stitch a Valentines day dress for herself. We compromised and agreed on a dress for Blue teddy. Miss K loves all her stuffed Animals but Blue Teddy has been top dog bear for the last 6 years. Of course, Mini Piwi 'needed' to have a dress for her Pink teddy as well.

Felt seemed the easiest option since it wouldn't need hemming or finishing. It is also easy to hold onto and doesn't flop around too much when you are stitching it. The only downside is that it is a bit thick for the larger needles we have have been practicing with up until now.  For example Miss K helped me stitch up this Cat sweater (knitted by Grandma) with a darning needle. We tried a thinner needle for this project. Miss K did really well!

Miss K sat patiently while I measured up blue teddy and drew a pattern for the bodice dress. There weren't too many options for 10" rotund Carebear dress patterns on Google :-)

 The skirt was a piece of felt twice the circumference of Teddy's tummy. Miss K wanted a longer skirt, Mini Piwi wanted it to be like a ballerina.

Miss K stitched the side seams and attached the roses. I helped her out with the gathered skirt.

The teddies had a fashion Show....
 Perry had to be in the middle of the Photo shoot

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Letter of the week: S for Sheep

Sheep week started off with us reading Russell the Sheep by Rob Scotton.  Mini Piwi made her own Fluffy Russell and enjoyed the first sensory plate of the week, aka. Bob the sheep.

Link to activity

Link to activity
 later on the week Mini Piwi got to 'shear' Bob's foamy wool and find the S to trace.
 The Shaving foam didn't stay on Bob for long.
This seemed to concern Perry the cat

At the library we found a second Russell Book. A thoughtful and creative Miss K, came up with a game to go with the book .In Russell and the Lost Treasure by Rob Scotton,  Russell comes across a map and goes on a hunt for Treasure. Miss K made up a treasure map for us and hid our many stuffed sheep toys. Mini Piwi thought it was great fun. 

One of our favorite sheep books is Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy Shaw. The last page about the cheep jeep always makes us laugh! This book had a two part project. First Mini Piwi made wrap up sheep...

and then we made a Jeep!

The Mailbox theme kits got a work out again. Mini Piwi enjoyed some of the Nursery rhyme and Farm Folder games this week
Miss K had been asking for us to do another sewing project together so we made sock puppets from Daddy's old socks. Miss K stitched, I guided and Mini Piwi glued on eyes and tongues. Meet the new Sheep puppets.

Link to activity

Link to activity

Monday, February 4, 2013

Piwi Mama reviews: Where Treasure hides.

This weekend it was nice to have an excuse to read an good Novel!

Where Treasure Hides by Johnnie Alexander Donley

From Amazon: Book Description: Artist Alison Schuyler spends her time working in her family’s renowned art gallery, determined to avoid the curse that has followed the Schuyler clan from the Netherlands to America and back again. She’s certain that true love will only lead to tragedy—that is, until a chance meeting at Waterloo station brings Ian Devlin into her life. Drawn to the bold and compassionate British Army captain, Alison begins to question her fear of love as World War II breaks out, separating the two and drawing each into their own battles. While Ian fights for freedom on the battlefield, Alison works with the Dutch Underground to find a safe haven for Jewish children and priceless pieces of art alike. But safety is a luxury war does not allow. As time, war, and human will struggle to keep them apart, will Alison and Ian have the faith to fight for their love, or is it their fate to be separated forever?

I was expecting an historical romance from the description but there was also plenty of drama and adventure (and it doesn’t let up until the end). It isn’t just about a Woman waiting for her beau to return from war. It is about the realities for them as they each fight the Nazi regime.  The story is set over multiple years and in multiple countries but the chapters switch easily between the characters.
This novel is Historical Christian romance. The likeable main characters, history and adventure alone make me believe it could be enjoyed by anyone looking for a page turner. There is discussion of prayer and faith by the characters but even if you are not into Christian fiction it is  not  preachy.  If, like me, you do enjoy Christian inspiration then you will enjoy the mediation/discussion questions at the end of the book that really get you thinking about your relationship with God and his plans for your life. I would recommend it to other Mama's out there. Sit down with a Mug of coffee and read it. You will be inspired, entertained and can brush up on WW2 history.

I was sent 'Where Treasure hides' in exchange for an honest review. to be submitted Tyndale House Publishers  via Net I will not receive any monetary compensation from the publisher or Netgalley. The links to amazon do contain affiliate links where I do receive a small commission for any purchases made through this link.