Native Americans : The Southwest Tribes : Diorama

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When studying Native Americans of the Southwest, Siena and Lucas decided they wanted to make dioramas.  They each picked a tribe, with different dwellings and each made their own.  Siena picked the Pueblos.  Lucas made a Hogan from the Navajo tribe.

DSC_0293 copy DSC_0295 copy DSC_0301 copy They planned what they wanted it to look like and what they thought it was important to include.  I really liked the process they went through and how very different they each work and planned their project.

DSC_0305 copy DSC_0290 copy Siena decided to do her diorama using a recycled cardboard box.

DSC_0310 copy Lucas, decided to use a piece of pretty wood we had waiting to be used into something.

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And even though Native Americans didn’t use hot glue-guns when making their own homes, Lucas used it, to make sure the sticks would stick together before he put the clay over them. DSC_0317 copy DSC_0297 copy

Siena used cardboard to make it to resemble the hillside and covered with brown paper the words and the outside of the box.DSC_0304 copy DSC_0306 copy DSC_0308 copy DSC_0312 copy DSC_0316 copy DSC_0318 copy They both used this terra cotta air dry clay. It cracked a little when it dried, but nothing to mess up their work.  They said it worked good.

This is Lucas’s Diorama of a Hogan from the Navajo tribes from the Southwest:

DSC_0073 copy DSC_0054 copy DSC_0079 copy He put clay in between the sticks, resembling what they actually do in the real construction of these.

DSC_0071 copy DSC_0055 copy Put a clay oven by the house too.  Including the large paddle used to bring the bread in and out of the oven.  This makes me want to have one in the backyard, like the one our friends made themselves.  Wouldn’t it be fun?

DSC_0053 copy DSC_0057 copy They both used Sculpey Clay to create the details of each family depicted in their diorama.

DSC_0064 copy The “Three Sisters”.

DSC_0074 copy DSC_0060 copy A woman weaving, with the loom and spindle next to her.

DSC_0067 copy DSC_0082 copyDSC_0069 copyI think it turned out beautiful.  I love all the details he made and the colors he chose and what he thought important to include.

Siena’s Diorama of the Pueblo Tribes and their home:

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DSC_0046 copy DSC_0043 copy This is the entrance to their kiva.

DSC_0041 copy Her dwelling had few levels that are all connected with ladders as they did.

DSC_0042 copy I love this mom.  I like her hair, though I believe the hair was done in these buns when the woman was not married yet. But the cradleboard with the baby and the younger daughter working with her, I think are my favorite details of her diorama.

DSC_0034 copy She’s grinding the corn.

DSC_0051 copyAnd another young daughter picks corn from their garden.

I think these dioramas are my favorite project as of lately, besides all the work in wool we did (carding, spinning, and weaving.)  This Southwest Tribes unit was a fun one for sure.  And with it, we finished studying all the tribes of the US, taking us a couple of years to do, because we took a few months per cultural area, and really studied in depth the major tribes and those we felt we wanted to learn more about.   Now, we just need to go on a field trip to see in real life all the things and aspects of their culture we studied.

Norse Mythology and the Vikings :: the boats

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At the beginning of the units, when we are starting and we have most of the books from the library we have about it, we go through those with crafts and projects, and they decide which projects they’d like to do.

DSC_0023 copy They wanted to make these shields, since we had made them for the Romans as well.

DSC_0007 copy Another project was a Viking ship. There are lots of ideas online, and there are books with different styles and ideas, so we made a mix of few of them.  I like it that they pick and choose and change as they see suit.

DSC_0009 copy DSC_0010 copy They turned out pretty cute, I think.

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The one problem we had in the design, was that the boats couldn’t stand on their own.

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So they each problem solved and made their own stand.

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Ta da!

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And this is one instance.  But for so many projects, Siena comes up with a deviation on the project, to make it her own, so it works for her, for the space where she wants to keep it, for what she wants to use it for.  Whatever the reason, there’s always something she tweaks.  She loves doing that.  And I kinda’ do that too.  I like creating, but I am not very creative, so I get an idea an inspiration from somewhere, and then I run with it, to make it work for me.  It completes my creative spot.  Be it a quilt or a sewing or knitting project or a soup recipe.

I love what Siena told us few days ago: “I think I want to write a book about all the changes I would do to all the craft projects I’ve done, because I think I can make them work better.”

And we said “Go for it!”

Craft Fairs

We’ve had a table of our handmade goods for few years, at a holiday fair, we really love. I only have photos of the past two year,s but this was our 6th!  It started because Siena has always loved making things, and we thought it would be fun for her to sell her kits and goods.  And it was.



It has been so much, that here we are are, once again.  In between. Lucas has gotten involved and makes and sells his handmade goods, whichever they may be.  I make few things too, and take advantage of the time we have to make these, and the time and space we have for displaying them at the fairs.  But truly, it is mostly for Siena we participate in it, she’s the one reminding us all year around that we should be getting things done for the fair.

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Last couple of years, we participated in two fairs.  They’ve been different ones, sea re trying new places.  This year, we did three.  That seemed like a lot, but it was what Siena wanted to try.  So, we all worked on them.  Getting ready, making, getting the supplies, creating, looking and thinkings of ideas, boxing things up, getting up early, setting up, selling, packing things up, staying up late, and everything else in between that means to be at a fair of crafts.

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I love seeing how Siena has changed in these 6 years of having our own craft fair. How much she’s grown up and how much her making has improved.  DSC_0083 copy

Friends come to see us.  Actually they’ve come every single time.   They are so supportive, they words encouraging, with everything we make.  Sometimes we’ve needed this, when we are not sure of what we are doing, what we should make, or how we are going to set up our table at the end of one fair for the next, at 8pm.

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And from this second fair, we went straight to set up to our third and last one (of the year), the one we’ve been at five other times.

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The magic, the colors, it’s the beginning of the Holiday season, for sure.

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And I have to say.that a big bonus of participating in these craft fairs, is all the trading that happens with the other vendors. Look what I brought home.

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It was a year of fairs, a year of making, months of felt and sewing, tables filled with fabric and paints, and I know we have at least one more fair coming up, which means, more making is ahead of us, after the making for the holidays are done.  And, I am so glad.

what if…

How Would You Live Then?

What if a hundred rose-breasted grosbeaks
flew in circles around your head? What if
the mockingbird came into the house with you and
became your advisor? What if
the bees filled your walls with honey and all
you needed to do was ask them and they would fill
the bowl? What if the brook slid downhill just
past your bedroom window so you could listen
to its slow prayers as you fell asleep? What if
the stars began to shout their names, or to run
this way and that way above the clouds? What if
you painted a picture of a tree, and the leaves
began to rustle, and a bird cheerfully sang
from its painted branches? What if you suddenly saw
that the silver of water was brighter than the silver
of money? What if you finally saw
that the sunflowers, turning towards the sun all day
and every day–who knows how, but they do– were
more precious, more meaningful than gold?

Mary Oliver



Sometimes it’s hard to go against the norm, against what is being told and shown to us is what we need to be happy today.  I know what we have is all we need, because what they tell me I need, are always changing, quicker than my life changes.  I am fine just this way.  I am perfectly fine.

I hope you are staying warm and dry and that your days are filled with love as well. Happy weekend to you all.


last few weeks…

This month has gone by so quickly.  Fall always does.  It is busy, with lots of cleaning outside, the streets, the garden, the yard, and inside too getting ready for the time spent indoors.  And there is all the making happening, getting ready for craft fairs coming up quicker than I am ready for.  And then there’s the beautiful autumn days, that I just want to savor and never forget.  But I can remember that this month…

… we went to see a play at the local children’s theater called The Sun Serpent. It was an original play based on historic facts. I found it interesting, beautiful performed with three actors, sad, historic, and done in a beautiful and creative way.  My kids gave it an OK review because it seemed a little slow at times and a sad story.

… we went on our bikes downtown to the play (above), and it felt good to get there, though further than our normal bike rides, but with a time and responsibility to get us there on time.  On a beautiful just perfect day.

… have enjoyed collecting acorns and acorn caps and seeing them all over the house and in some crafts.

… have enjoyed all the oranges and fall things around the house.  Some from the garden and some from the farm.

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… we rode the new (Orange) train lane that opened a month ago and still hadn’t used it.

… and on the same day, all of this, we rode our bike on the new bridge, the Tilikum Crossing, that we hadn’t crossed either.  I wish I would have had my camera… it was a sunny, perfect temperature, clear, wonderfully fallish day.

… had to bring some fall colors from the last day at the Farmer’s Market.

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… celebrated Lucas’s birthday-month with friends.

… ate outside as many meals as we could.

… have seen the kids play with friends outside even on the day that rained the most since… forever it seems like.  We all seem to be true Oregonians, and not be bothered by the rain, pour coming down on us.  But I’d say the kids more than me.

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And of course a little hot chocolate to with the rain. DSC_0224 copy

… cleaned out the vents but haven’t started our heater yet.  We’ll see if we can make it to November. Just few more days!

… have been enjoying many Lego creations being brought to the table and shown around.

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… have enjoyed making bread and soups.  More on the kitchen happenings coming up.

… watched this video of Valdivia, a beautiful city in Chile.

… and also found this photo that reminds me of the one “chancho” (pig) we had at my house growing up, to do the shining after the wax was put on the wooden floors.  How funny.  I haven’t thought of this “cleaning equipment” in a very long time.  Love it!

el chancho

Hope you have a peaceful end of October.

Native Americans Unit : The Southwest Tribes : Kokopelli

A project we did when learning about the Native Americans in the Southwest of the country, was to carve our own Kokopelli stamp.

We looked at all the samples that are online. We each made our own on and few it on a piece of paper.  Then, we traced it, from the back onto the printing block. (I purchase most of our art supplies here, and now that there is a store here in Portland, it is a treat for me to go in there… but I try to go as few times as I can, otherwise I’ll bring home one of each.)

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Then, once the design was clear on the block, we started carving it.  I’ve had these carving tools for many years, I like all the different tips and how easy it is to use and store.

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Depending on how you like it, you need to carve around the lines, so the lines are your design.  Sometimes it’s hard, since the lines are so thin and close together.  But it was a learning experience.DSC_0009 copy DSC_0010 copy We’d stamp it and see how it’s looking.

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If we didn’t want it just like that, we kept carving and making the changes.

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Until we liked it.

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It was fun.  I’d like to do it again some time soon.

Native Americans Unit : The Southwest Tribes : Fiber work and resources

Last spring we finished studying the Native Americans of the US.  We’ve been studying them for a couple of years now, a cultural region at a time, with breaks in between of course.  Starting back up whenever they were ready to start back up.  You can find all the posts I’ve done of previous years in this search.

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One of the things we focused on, was their amazing textile works.  Since we have so much wool (in all forms) here in the house, it was easy to decide to learn that handwork for us.  No going shopping for anything anywhere.  Just to our boxes and baskets laying around.

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Siena and Lucas learned to card wool, by hand with hand carders.  We had done it years ago, but this time it was more of them doing it than me.  And we also used our new carding machine that we bought last year. It was fun to get all the wool out (we have lots!) and get that carded and ready to spin.

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Then they both learned to use the drop spindle, which Siena really enjoyed.  And Lucas rather use the spinning wheel and got really good at it too.  Spinning, weaving, carding all at the sounds of beautiful native american music.  It was a fun few weeks of learning.

DSC_0287 copyIt was a fun thing to do at night most days for a while.  I loved seeing them play with fibers.

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Siena decided she wanted to use the wool she was spinning in her new loom she got from her aunt last year.

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Siena’s piece did grow quite a bit, and she’s done all the weaving she wants, I think.  She just needs to get it off the loom and finish it.  We still haven’t done that part. (I’ll get that picture taken when and posted when she’s working on it again.)

Here’s my list of books and other resources we used for this unit:

Navajo Tribe:

Pueblo, Zuni, Apache and other tribes:

“May my children have all things to eat

and be happy;

May the people of the outlying villages all laugh

and be happy;

May the growing children all have things to eat

and be happy;

May we have all kinds of seeds

and all things good;

May we inhale the sacred breath of life;

May our fathers and our mothers

bring us happy days.”

— Louva Dahozy, Navajo.

Post – Impressionists : Vincent Van Gogh

Last spring we studied one more Impressionist / Post-Impressionist painter to add to our Painter’s Book we started last year.  The Dutch, Vincent van Gogh.

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After seeing this video again, the kids picked the painter again this time, and agreed to start with Van Gogh, but didn’t have time to do another one last year.  They want to mix the units a little bit, so maybe later this school year we’ll add another painter. We are really enjoying learning more about them, and focusing in one at a time, learning about their life and culture at that time.

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Vincent Van Gogh was someone we got to see lots of his paintings while in London and Paris last year.

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We did a Shades of Grey study, and it turned out good, I thought.  It gave us lots to talk about.

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Another project we did was to copy one of Van Gogh’s painting.

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I took my old acrylic paints from when I took painting classes… way before I had kids.  I think it must be 20 years ago.  Yes, that is a long time…. I am glad we can still use those paints!

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I think they both liked working with that but I think Lucas really enjoyed himself this time.

These are the books and videos we used for this unit:

We also looked online for pictures of the paintings and some ideas for projects to do.  One of the websites I read was from Practical Pages : Practical Homeschool Tips, Plans and Projects.

Hope you can use some of these resources and if you had other ones, please do add them in the comments section for everyone to use. Thanks for coming to visit.

OFFF : Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival

I love going to this Festival.  I try to go every fall, but as anything, it depends what’s happening in our lives and our weekend.  But this time, it worked perfectly, once again.

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It was a day to myself.  I was able to go see every table, once and twice and three times if I wanted to. No hurry to be done or to go onto something else.  Sometimes is good to have a day to oneself.  Homeschooling, it is not often I get to do that, nor is it something I crave often, but I took this day to just do that, be by myself and enjoy the sights and a beautiful afternoon.

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And I bought something I really didn’t need, but have been wanting for quite some time.

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So I bought this yarn bowl.  There were 3 stands with them.  Two with bowls made of ceramics, and I looked at them all.  Touched them, saw the glazes, the twirls and turns.  I even looked at the wooden ones…. oh wow… some day I will graduate to a wooden one, because I just love wood and the warmth and the natural feeling of it.

DSC_0019 copyBut this bowl, won my heart.  I am not sure what I’ll do when I change and be done with my project, because it won’t match anymore.  Well? Maybe I’ll have to get another one to match that one!  Because, yes, you might wonder, one does need to match the yarn bowl to the project.

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I loved all the colors, the textures, the shapes, so much goodness all in one place.  I’m ready to dig into my stash of wool and yarn, and continue with my spinning, and start knitting something warm for the cooler days.  Oh all the possibilities.  A day of inspiration.