Wood Works!

Our Destination Imagination team has been struggling with the technical difficulty of joining three 4’X8’  very HEAVY boards together into one unit and creating a platform on which the three boards can spin freely during their theatrical performance.  If you have been following the story you may remember that during their State competition the boards collapsed on the actors who then had to hold them up, with a smile, for the rest of the performance.  Now our team will be exhibiting their project in a local gallery.  This time the boards cannot fall down!

Frustrated with all their previous efforts, the boys are now getting serious.

They have borrowed a friends wood shop and are finally using the correct tools. (Previous efforts included trying to hot glue the boards into place!)

Math skills are actually useful!  Who knew?

Destination Imagination:  It is possible to learn a new skill and be successful!

And now for the real test.  Truth and Quantum have built a beautifully engineered base and top.  Will it fit the boards?  Will it be stable? Will it rotate?  Can the team actually put the whole thing together?  The anxiety level is high.

It works!  The boards are upright.  Quantum is afraid to .move.

Kimono of 1000 Cranes:  Dressed for Success!

Team I.C.E. (Imagine, Create, Empower) is ready for their first gallery opening, Kimono of 1000 Cranes.  It is very exciting to see all their wonderful backdrops and props on exhibit with other works of art.

Oh!  And don’t forget the famous Can-Can dancers!  They have a starring role as well.

Let Me Count the Days:  Homeschooling is watching your children start with a dream, struggle through successes and failures and finally share their dreams with the world.

Destination Imagination: Splatter Paint Pollock Comes Alive!

The modern artist is working with space and time, expressing his feelings rather than illustrating.

Jackson Pollock

 

Our Destination Imagination Senior Level team is alive and well.  They paint, glue, sing, create and compose.  This year they are faced with the seemingly impossible challenge of creating a 4-minute thriller introducing the audience to multiple cultures and leaving us all hanging on the edge of our seats, literally.

Think this looks innocent enough?  Look again.  Team I.C.E (Imagine, Create, Empower) is just getting started.

One thing they are sure they want to share with us is their love of spontaneity.  The disorder in our house is a true testament to this endeavor.

As a final memento to their Destination Imagination experience they have created a video that encapsulates their team experience.  And what better way to show their love for one another than to splatter paint everywhere?

If you are brave you may want to check out their I.C.E Productions Video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsNKW9ybrVE

This group has really formed a very supportive team.   They have their ups and downs but they are learning to resolve conflicts, make compromises and share both the limelight and their various talents.

What better way to make friends than to struggle with an international challenge, study art, culture and language; laugh, create and perform while also learning complex construction techniques and unusual improvisational styles?

This Destination Imagination team has truly learned so much this year.

Please leave your paintbrushes outside, if possible.

Let Me Count the Days:  Homeschooling is not minding when your sink is multi-colored and so are your floors, walls, doors and clothes. 

State of The Art: A Homeschool Studio

I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.

Vincent Van Gogh

The best part of art is getting a chance to make it yourself.  With this in mind, Happymess kids have invited their friends over for an all-day art festival.  They plan to take their studies in to their own hands, literally, and create the paintings they have been studying.

Happymess kids have been studying Impressionism, modern 20th century art and various forms of sculpture.  They are particularly interested in Pointillism.   This school year, Happymess kids have had great fun visiting several museums in NYC and Washington, DC.

The artists they most want to learn from are Seurat, Van Gogh and Monet.  They have chosen three specific works to study.

Seurat: La Grande Jatte

Van Gogh: Starry Starry Night

Monet: Water Lillies

It is now time to try their hand at the artistic process.

They want to create a composite painting that will encompass several different Impressionist techniques and will reflect the work of Monet, Van Gogh and Seurat.

 We have almost a dozen children filling our small art studio.  They are involved in several projects simultaneously:  painting, gluing, folding, drawing and drilling.  The biggest obstacle is trying not to step on wet paint and buckets of glue.

The younger group is creating a sculpture from found objects.  This is a major project, with this being only the first step but they are hard at work building, gluing and constructing separate pieces to be added later.

Meanwhile, Van Gogh is beginning to make an appearance in this Impressionist collage…

Quantum is learning origami.  He is hoping, with his friends, to fold 1000 cranes so they can make a wish for good luck.

It is time to begin adding Monet to the masterpiece…

Finally, the composite Impressionist painting is completed.  The final painting is 8’ by 8’ and has been painted, in one day, by a total 5 student painters.

The best way to know God is to love many things.  Vincent Van Gogh

Let Me Count the Days:  Homeschooling is spending the entire day in the art room, studying and painting in the tradition of the grand salons.

Desert Interlude: Piestewa Peak and Chihuly Glass Gardens

Adopt the pace of nature:  her secret is patience. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

In the midst of winter chaos we suddenly find ourselves with 24 hours to spend in the desert.

Desert Cactus with Distant Moon

With such a short time to spend we chose two activities.  We explored Piestewa Peak, formerly Squaw Peak, recently renamed to honor the first woman, a Native American, who was sadly killed in the 2003 Iraq war.

Nest of Thorns

The Green Armed Tree

The summit trail is a steep and rocky trail that rises 1.2 miles directly above the plains.  From the summit the brown dry desert colors are interrupted by azure skies.

The Horse-Crippler CactusThorny plants with scary names, such as this Horse-Crippler Cactus, cause us to imagine the dire circumstances that gave rise to this cactus’ name..

Our next stop was the Desert Botanical Gardens.  There were many beautiful gardens but the most captivating “cacti” were the amazing glass Desert Towers by artist Dale Chihuly.

Desert Towers by Dale Chihuly

Desert Towers by Dale Chihuly

Desert Towers by Dale Chihuly

These Towers glisten in the bright desert sun and seem both surreal and an integral part of the natural gardens in which they rest.

Next stop:  New York Botanical Gardens where Dale Chihuly has numerous glass creations throughout several garden areas.   These glass constructions are truly beautiful and really seem almost “natural” in their environment.

I never expected to be so captivated by these modern and “artificial” plants, yet they fit wholly within the landscape, adding rather than detracting from the natural elements.

A chief event of life is the day in which we have encountered a mind that startled us.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tree Arms

The most striking aspect of the desert is the torch-like sunlight which unapologetically heightens the colors and intensity of every natural object.

This is the antithesis of the “bleak” mid-winter we normally inhabit.

Let Me Count the Days:  Homeschooling is transcending the ordinary at a moments notice.

Destination Imagination meets the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC

Our Destination Imagination (high-school level) team is hard at work preparing for their 2012 challenge.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC

This year they must study the cultures of several countries and try to imagine how each would interact with one another.  Currently they have chosen to examine French Impressionism and contrast that with African art.

Truth and Manet's Haystacks

For several of the team members this is their first exposure to the original paintings of the Impressionists.

The DI team members are quickly learning that the Impressionists were a radical group of artists who abandoned the realistic style of painting in favor of creating an “impression” of light and movement within the painting.  This new style was dramatically different from previous painters who were constrained by efforts at realism.  It was difficult for our DI team to grasp that these new painters had been thoroughly schooled in realism and were adept masters of their craft.  Unlike today’s modern artists, the French Impressionists were more than capable of rendering a realistic piece.  They had come to favor a more “intuitive” approach that would capture not the physical presence but the actual or “emotive” presence of the haystack, olive trees and peopled landscapes of their new art.  The DI team was surprised to learn that many of these famous paintings began as “sketches” and in fact some paintings had as many as 25 renditions before the artist considered them “finished.”

Seurat's La Grande Jatte

The DI team carefully examined the work of Seurat.  They were delighted by the thousands of dots of color that were used to create La Grande Jatte.  The team understood these paintings better than those of Manet and Monet as they have a modern day corollary in the dot patterns that are regularly used to create digital photographs and pictures.  DI kids were almost nonplussed by pointillism because to the 21 Century student using dots to create imagery seems basic and obvious.

Van Gogh: Women Picking Olives

Van Gogh: First Steps

Van Gogh, with his thick palette knife strokes, was by far the favorite with the group.  Van Gogh clearly goes beyond technique to capture the hearts of his subjects, and thus the imagination of his viewers.  These paintings were compassionate as well as novel.

From the Impressionists room the DI team moved to the African art exhibit where most work was 3-dimensional and usually created for a specific use, either domestic or ceremonial.

The African sculptures emphasized the subjects and objects that were of greatest importance to these peoples.  They were functional while reflecting deep religious and cultural beliefs.  In this, the African art differed greatly from the European art where the main objective was personal expression and differentiating oneself from the mainstream.

 After many hours in the museum the group was relieved to “escape” into the wilds of Central Park where the Bear sculpture could be touched and climbed upon with impunity.

Let Me Count the Days:  Homeschooling is studying the subject by seeing the original work.

Fifty Nifty Gifts You Create: Installment One

Happymess kids are searching their imaginations and resources in an attempt to find the creative, thoughtful gift that siblings and parents will love and that costs more in personal effort and less in cash. For the Backyard Bunch:  Athena is busy creating a backyard box set of games: a combination of Capture the Flag, Flashlight Tag, Trust and Nerf guns.  The boxes will include walkie-talkies (we have some already), flashlights, handmade belts to hold gear (black on one side for camouflage and reflector circles on the other to reflect flashlights to team members).  The boxes will be decorated with different colors for each team and can be used as bases or forts.  These backyard boxes will be perfect for her 4 younger brothers.  Maybe she should include a few cans of whip cream?

Truth and Quantum are combining their playmobile collections.  They are designing a storage box with playmobile and small town illustrations.  They plan to write “Bounce” and “Scooter” on the box.  For the first time ever, Bounce and Scooter will “own” the playmobile and can play with them as much as they like.  Sharing a favorite toy collection with a younger sibling is a top favorite for everyone.

A few years ago Athena and Truth made an alphabet book for Bounce with 26 pages. Each letter began a word that was special to Bounce.  They handcrafted each page and then had the book spiral bound with a cover at Kinkos.  They found some beautiful free alphabet printables at http://www.momswhothink.com  This year Bounce would like to create the same type of book for Scooter.

Athena is making personalized photo pillowcases for her best friends.  She recently made a pillowcase featuring a group of friends for a close friend’s birthday.

Happymess kids are designing personalized stationary and “thank you’ notes for family members.  They are taking family photos, landscape scenes, etc. and paring them with quotes and verses of poetry.  By uploading them to a stationary website they can create professional but personal stationary.  Stationary can be placed in decorated shoeboxes. Pens, markers and stamps complete the gift.

Scooter is creating muslin placemats by printing squares of fabric with leaf and vegetable prints using tempera paints.

A trip to an eclectic bookshop offered Happymess kids the opportunity to find unusual and favorite books in beautiful editions.  They created several “favorite book bags” as gifts, inexpensive yet perfect for sharing their love of learning.

Quantum, Athena and Truth, members of the USSA ski team, plan to offer personalized ski lessons to deserving family members.

Athena is considering buying some kitchen gifts, a fabulous pan for example, and including spices and spatulas and adding a collection of hand created recipe cards researched from the internet.  www.smilebox.com has free templates to create recipe cards, cookbooks and more.

Bounce plans to decorate his poems and books and share them with his family.

Are you looking for inexpensive and entertaining gifts for the kids on your list?

Check out our Quickie Thrifty Gifty List (approved as FUN by the Happymess team)

(first installment)

Yo-Yos

Slinkys

Nerf guns

Wiffle ball and bat set

Playdough

Let Me Count the Days:  Homeschooling is attempting to instill appreciation in the face of commercialism.  Wish me luck!

It is Destination Imagination Creation Time

Our Destination Imagination teams are busy building, creating and constructing all types of props for their team Challenges which will be presented, in dramatic form, mid-March.  In total, no team can spend more than $125 so our team members are making all their sets and props from scratch, found objects and recycled trash.This team has finally engineered a device which will transport their teammates across the continents.  Later they will add many features and decorations but for now…all that must remain top secret.

Meanwhile, the elementary level children are hard at work creating their very own…Luminaries!.  Their Challenge play must be performed in the dark…and explain the present and future applications of solar energy.

It is now evening, pitch dark and shivery cold,  But the upper level team continues with….

Giant paper mache backdrops which they can use as frescoes for their paintings….

Destination Imagination:  It’s a way of life!

Let Me Count the Ways:  Homeschooling is always having a bigger happymess in your house, just after everything has been cleaned.