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:

DSC_0032 copy DSC_0044 copy Peppers hanging to dry and turquoise.

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!”

Norse Mythology and the Vikings :: Resources

This fall we started our (Home) school year studying Norse Mythology and the Vikings.  I don’t remember I ever studied them, so everything was new to me.  It might possibly be that I wasn’t paying attention in school when we did study it… who knows!  Either way, it was like studying something new, and I like it.

We did a little bit of geography (I love maps), and fun to talk about where we’ve been and have them locate and get some direction of what and where we are talking about.

From here.

We zoomed in the Scandinavian countries, where Norsemen are from.

From this website.
From this website.

We read and based our days from the D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myth.  Read it in order (for these most part) and added other books and sites.  Even now, after studying it, I still find these diagrams very helpful.

From this website.
The Nine Worlds from this website.
The Nine Worlds from this website.

I’ll post a few more pictures and posts about the activities we did, but here are the resources, in one place.

The list of books and sites we used for this unit (sorry, they are in no particular order):


Simple Machines : Screws

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We are reading and doing the activities from this book that came with the Simple Machines Discovery Kit from our library.  We’ve used another book of the same series before, and we really liked it.

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This one is fun too.  It divides the studies in the simple machines, and we are reading chapter by chapter and doing the projects that look more fun.

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When we got to the chapter in screws I thought I’d skip it, thinking I wasn’t sure I wanted to read 5-6 pages about screws and its history.  But the pages make it look pretty simple and with fun facts so I decided to go ahead and read a little.  And I am so glad we did.

It mentioned this American artist, Andrew Myers who does portraits using screws.

Taken this photo of Andrew Meyers work from this website.
Taken this photo of Andrew Meyers work from this website.

We read also that the largest drill bit (a type of screw) in the world was the one used to make the largest and deepest tunnel in the world that will cross the Swiss Alps.  Look at this Tunnel Boring Machine.  It is three stories long.
From this website.

Then of course we had to read and learn more about the tunnel.  The Gotthard Base Tunnel a train tunnel that will cross the Swiss Alps, to help congestion in the cities, because of its massive traffic issues, mostly due to trucks going through the country, which is in the middle of Europe, needing to go from one side to the next.  The project was passed in votes in Switzerland in 1992 and the construction began in 1996.  That is 20 years ago.

Of course we found a youtube video (there’s videos online for everything , right?  I love that.)  We first watched this one, of the breakthrough of the tunnel with the giant drill bit working.

But then we watched this one was the most entertaining and informative and I think made our travel juices flowing.

We really liked learning more about it and of course, there’s a great field trip idea for next year.  Wouldn’t it be a great idea to see that tunnel in person?  Not sure I’d like to ride it though… for someone claustrophobic like me, that’s more like a nightmare, but I’d go see it and be there for the news for the opening day.  Hmmm… now I just need to figure out how to make that field trip work into our budget.  Ha!

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.

the doors in England

I love doors. I took some pictures while we were in India few years ago, but I wasn’t as diligent in taking specifically the doors.  Last year when we visited England and France, I did a little better job, and look what I found.

church in Oxford copyChurch in Oxford.

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DSC_0519 copyIn Shrewsbury.

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DSC_0554 copyIn Shrewsbury.

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DSC_0555 copyIn Shrewsbury.

Whittington Castle copyWhittington Castle, Shropshire.

DSC_0831 copyIn London.

Oxford 1 copyIn Oxford.

Stokesay castle door copyStokesay Castle, Shropshire.

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Oxford 2 copyIn Oxford.

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Elsemere copyIn Ellesmere, Shropshire.

I wish I remember where I took the pictures of each door, but at least I have some of them.  I do love doors and how different they can be in different countries and even in the same city.

I was looking through my old posts and have realized that I am not finished posting about our trip last year (nor from when we lived in India, 4 years ago) and so much has happened this year… I’ll see what I can do that would be fun to remember later on.

a walk in Oxford, England

After visiting England for two weeks, being in the Central West region at our friends home in Shropshire, we headed south.



We stopped in Oxford, a place I always wanted to visit.

DSC_0175 copy DSC_0178 copyOh, the buildings.  I love it so much.

DSC_0181 copy DSC_0180 copy DSC_0182 copy DSC_0184 copy DSC_0185 copy DSC_0186 copy DSC_0187 copy“Please do not park bicycles against these railings as they may be removed.”

DSC_0193 copy DSC_0190 copy DSC_0195 copy DSC_0198 copy DSC_0189 copy“No bicycles Please.”

DSC_0200 copy DSC_0202 copy DSC_0199 copy DSC_0365 copy DSC_0205 copy DSC_0363 copy DSC_0371 copy DSC_0368 copy DSC_0366 copy DSC_0373 copy DSC_0376 copyWe stopped for lunch.

DSC_0378 copy DSC_0393 copy DSC_0382 copy DSC_0394 copyAnd then continued our trip on south.  But first one more thing in Oxford, a visit to the Museum that I’ll share here soon.


Ironbridge, Shropshire in England

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Ironbridge, the town, takes its name from the famous first arch Iron Bridge ever built.  It says “Birth Place of Industry.”

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We took a little walk and that town, as most places we visited in England last summer, stole my heart.  Such a beautiful place, with nature and beauty all around.

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DSC_0597 copyPork skins.  You gotta eat them warm.

DSC_0598 copyPasties.

DSC_0602 copy DSC_0603 copy DSC_0604 copy DSC_0605 copy DSC_0606 copy DSC_0600 copy DSC_0601 copyYup!  We had to go back to try something else.  So, so good!


The Iron Bridge in England :: A World Heritage Site


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One of the last days we spent in England, our friend Mac took us to see The Iron Bridge.

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The Iron Bridge is the first arch bridge made out of a new material back then, cast iron.  It was built in 1781.

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Look at these poppies…. I love the sparkle of colors. DSC_0502 copyI love poppies.

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The Iron Bridge, was built in the year 1779.

DSC_0513 copy DSC_0517 copySevern River, the longest river in the United Kingdom.

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Intended to be an advertisement for the skills of the Coalbrookdale iron masters, and it proved a spectacular success.  Architects and engineers came from all over the world to marvel at it, and Abraham Darby (who built it) was awarded the gold medal of the Royal Society of Arts.  Thomas Pritchard, the architect, died before it was completed.

DSC_0541 copy DSC_0544 copyAnd people still go today to marvel at this amazing work of engineering.

DSC_0545 copy DSC_0546 copy DSC_0547 copy DSC_0552 copyA World Heritage Site.  Of course.  DSC_0553 copy DSC_0555 copy DSC_0550 copy DSC_0563 copy DSC_0558 copy DSC_0561 copy

So amazing to be standing right there, witnessing such an amazing work done almost 240 years ago.