photo 3 (38)

My youngest son has been interested in animation for as long as I can remember. He has also been interested in my animation class I took at UCSB way back when. He wanted to know what I learned, what I studied, and what projects I worked on. I don’t remember too much from the class (honestly I only took it to meet a requirement for my degree in film studies), but the one project I did remember was the red ball project.

Every student in the class had to make their own short (only a few seconds) animation featuring a red ball. There were no other requirements, so every student had very different interpretations. My own creation was about a fisherman who is eaten by a fish.

The boy has always wanted to see my short animation, and he always wanted to see the drawings that made it up. The past few weeks we have been moving to a new place and I have been going through long forgotten boxes as part of the move. In one box I discovered all my old college books, writings, and at the very bottom of the box, my drawings for the red ball project. Decca was so excited to finally see them!

There were 42 drawings, a storyboard, and a sheet in which I wrote out how many frames of each drawing had to be taken. I explained that in the days before iPads, DSs, and different apps for animating, a person had to plan how many shots of each frame were necessary for the animation. He found that very fascinating.

photo 1 (49)

Not included with all this though was a copy of the finished project. Fortunately for us, Decca had his DS available and he and I sat down to capture each drawing and then put it into his stop motion program.

photo 2 (50)

He and I were both happy with the finished project. It was a very quick animation but it was so much fun to finally see after all these years. And it has inspired both of us to work on more animating projects in the future.


This Week on Netflix…

photo (56)

Ever have one of those weeks in which your children watch a good deal of tv? We are in the midst of one of those weeks right now. Luckily just as I was starting to feel somewhat bad about the whole situation Julie Bogart at Brave Writer (whose writing curriculum I love) made an excellent post on Facebook that put it all in perspective for me. It follows:


Brave Writer
Television is not the evil beast you might think. Vocabulary development is one of its charms. When your kids watch TV, they get to listen to words written by professional writers, expressed by professional actors, designed to achieve the maximum effect through their acting so that there is NO mistaking of meaning.
What that means is that your kids are getting *the most effective* lesson in contextual vocabulary development you could possibly offer them. The language is designed to move plot forward, reveal character, make an audience laugh, or show off the writers’ mastery of vernacular, slang, pop culture references, academic terms, and other linguistic tropes.
Watch all kinds of TV—from news shows to sit coms, documentaries to Public Television shows. Play with lines, quote them, make them your friends. You don’t have to be a slave to television, but you can certainly make use of its unique benefits without a hint of guilt!
Oh how I am so glad I follow Brave Writer on Facebook. Not only do I receive great advice, I am also relieved of any homeschool guilt I may have. Now that I don’t feel guilty I can share what we have been enjoying this week.
First there has been Merlin, Merlin and more Merlin. The kids, especially the twins, are in a huge Merlin phase right now.
Then there has been Drive-Thru History which has recently become available on Netflix.
images (1)
And Foyle’s War (which is not for the youngest child of the house)
More television… The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes thanks to one grandmother.
Clue Club has been discovered by Decca
Along with The New Shmoo.
images (2)
And would it surprise anyone if I said there has also been some Lord of the Rings on this week?
On YouTube the kids and I all enjoyed this excellent lecture on Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, and languages.
And we are still feeling the love for Crash Course Biology. The most recent one we watched was on Mitosis.
I had to add the last two videos in there because I was feeling guilty again. See there was some educational viewing going on this week! Wait, I shouldn’t feel any guilt, after all the kids were developing their vocabulary, and they were having a great time while they did it!

Rethinking The School Year

I have spent the last two weeks reflecting on our school year and trying to decide where to go from here. Last month I pulled the boys out of the charter school they were in. The school was becoming a source of stress for me, and although it provided us with a good deal of funds to help pay for classes and curriculum, it was no longer worth it for us. The money came with too many restrictions and far too much testing, and neither the boys or I was interested in it any more.

What this means is we are enjoying a great deal of freedom with a lot less money. This is not a bad thing, actually I feel quite liberated, and the lack of money is causing me to reflect on what I want to accomplish with the boys and what my goals are.

The one thing I have figured out is that my youngest is a very creative learner who seems to grow and learn with no curriculum. He is a self-starter who does so much everyday that I really do not see a need to plan his school days. He will be unschooling for the rest of this year and most likely for the next few years, until it no longer works for him.

So what are some of the projects that my youngest son is working on? He is working on numerous scratch projects right now, and he is designing a line of characters that he is making with 3D Printing. He is writing several stories, one of them he is writing on the computer, so he is teaching himself how to type at the same time. He is composing songs on the piano, and he writes lyrics all day long. He recently discovered the Johnny Dixon series, so we are reading those together, and he is designing his own board game with his Grandma. He also works on math with DreamBox Learning, and he likes to watch history documentaries.

Part 1 of his game

and part 2. There will be 5 boards in all when he is done.

Now my oldest son is a completely different learner than my youngest. He isn’t so intense and creative. He is more intellectual and laid back. I have to nudge him a little, but with a small nudge he can accomplish so much. It is an interesting dynamic though because if I push too hard he shuts down, but if I push too little he doesn’t meet his potential.

My oldest son who I have spent much time thinking about.

This is my seventh year homeschooling him, and you would think I would have this all figured out by now, but I don’t. By the time I figure everything out he will probably be going off to college.

Anyway I am trying to encourage him to discover his interests while at the same time keeping him academically challenged. It is a balance that he and I are still trying to figure out, and we are also trying to figure out what to work on this year. He would never like to unschool, but at the same time he doesn’t want too much structure. He’s not very fond of most curriculum, but he grows bored and gets worried if we don’t follow some sort of plan with some academic books.

So what do I do with all this info? I am not sure yet. I am trying to come up with a plan, but I haven’t got anything concrete. I have some ideas, and I am going to spend the next few weeks making some final decisions. Then we will start our year. It will be his eighth grade year, and we will work from  mid-January 2012 to December 2013. It will be a new adventure, and it will be challenging and exciting. I can’t wait!