I am not a sewing-type person. I hated it when I was a kid and the sewing machine and I always ended up in a full-pitched battle to the death every time I tried to sew something, with me on the losing end of the equation. I was always more comfortable with a soldering iron, resistors, and computer boards, than with the art of sewing, or knitting, or crocheting, or any other related activity. Once I had kids and we gave up one income so I could stay home with them, I redoubled my efforts to conquer that strange art called sewing. I can handleRead More →

Color defines our world. Understanding it leads to an ability to create beauty. Learning the color wheel is fundamental to pretty much any art. It teaches you about blended color and about shading. Oftentimes the color wheel is taught in a boring manner, or it is over-taught (easy to do as it really is a very simple concept. I recently found a printable worksheet created by M.C. Gillis at AwesomeArtists.com that teaches the theory of the color wheel without either dumbing it down, or making it dull. It is perfect. Awesome.  Read More →

I grew up in a printing shop. Offset printing. The kind with negatives and silver plates, big rollers and immense steel paper cutters. Lots of noise, a fair bit of mess, and tons of paper. While I spent hours and hours developing my creative capabilities with leftover paper, I never developed a respect for its value. For me paper was always a freely available commodity. My kids spent their early years in the same printing shop, learning the same lessons as I did with the exception of learning to set type or the wonderful joy of finger-painting with ink while your father is meeting withRead More →

What do you do when the truth is not on the test? How can you prepare your child? Do you teach them the false fact, or the truth? Yesterday my kids and I were learning about the discovery of the telescope with some books as well as a wonderful BBC documentary series called “What The Tudors Did For Us.”  Among the many other fascinating inventions we learned about, it turns out that the telescope was invented and used first in England during the 1500’s by Leonard Digges. This clashed with my memories from high school science class (and college after that). We learned that HansRead More →

There are many, many great math picture books for kids out there. They range from including puzzles and games to telling stories to teach a bit of math to your delighted child. My favorite math picture books are the ones that tell the story of a mathematician and how he derived a principle or relationship. Two of the better ones available are “The Librarian Who Measured The Earth” by Kathryn Lasky (yes, of Guardians Of Ga’hoole fame), and “Blockhead – The Life of Fibonacchi” by Joseph D’Agnese My kids enjoyed these stories long before they understood the mathematics behind the tales, and they enjoy themRead More →

Board games are great fun for everyone. I have found that the more regularly you break out a board game with your kids, the more fun it becomes for everyone. It is a chance to play together, talk together, and simply be together without a piece of electronics acting as a barrier between your child and the attention you need to give her that makes her feel loved and understood. That is the kind of attention which buoys up your child through the difficulties she may face from time to time and gives her the confidence in her own abilities and judgement. I always offerRead More →

Repeat, repeat, repeat. As a parent, you know that repeating yourself is the key to locking a concept into your child’s brain whether it be long division or looking both ways before crossing the street. Your children ask to hear the great family stories again and again, repeating them until the accompanying mental images provide full-color panoramas in their imaginations. Music teachers tell us we have to repeat something at least 5 times over before learning it. I suspect that in reality that number needs to be much higher to account to lack of focus and random distractions. My children thrive on that repetition. RevisitingRead More →

I did not notice until yesterday that a very proper and very, very smart nun with a history of teaching and art was also a master of polite sarcasm. My kids and I were watching Sister Wendy’s story of Painting and reading another chapter in her book of the same name. Art history with Sister Wendy reinforces and makes additional connections to the events and people of the history the kids are learning, as well as helping them to understand composition and technique. But Sister Wendy is also teaching my kids the fine art of polite sarcasm. My children sat on either side of me,Read More →

How do you engage your kids imaginations in order to coax them into learning something? Learning the periodic table can be a snooze if your kids are not excited by seemingly random facts. The approach I take with my own kids is to explain the logic behind its organization by focusing on both the atomic orbitals and the simple concept of attraction between an element with extra electron and one needing an electron to be stable. While they understand these concepts, I did not see the spark of excitement in their eyes until yesterday. Yesterday we watched a documentary called Hunting the Elements (available freeRead More →

Yesterday we read the story of Constantine’s succession by his two sons, Constantius and Constans (my kids are convinced the man had absolutely no imagination when it came to naming his sons), and his nephew Julian. When we got to the part of the story leading up to the final conflict between the remaining two successors, Constantius and Julian, I found myself reading to the kids from Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People in order to explain the conflict between Arianism and mainstream Christianity. Surprisingly, Bede wrote in a clear and engaging manner that appeals to my logic-stage kids. Next we began talking aboutRead More →