It’s Mommy Donna in Raya’s Room now. Many weeks back, I had asked Raya if I could post something in her corner of this blog. I think blogging isn’t her thing yet so she gave me go signal to post first for now. Raya has been into portraits for the past many weeks. I am so amazed at her creativity, her attention to detail, her painting and drawing skills, and yes her patience in making these beautiful creations. Most of these portraits are drawn from imagination. There are no specific persons (save for one) in mind and she doesn’t copy from any photo. Many who have seen these ahead say that her works are beginning to show her personal and unique style! So here are the latest portraits from Raya’s room, enjoy:)
Which one is your favorite? Please comment below. Am sure Raya would love to hear from you!
One of the major areas I wanted to learn about as I began homeschooling 13 years ago was how to instill, develop and boost children’s creativity. I guess, it began with having babies and thinking of activities for them. For some reason, push button or battery operated toys that limited the child to just pressing ( more like banging in the younger years!) bothered me. During my earlier years of having my 1st infant/ toddler, it was very obvious how bored they got with such toys that were sort of repetitive and close ended.
As my child’s first teacher, I wanted also to create a nurturing environment at home that would be like a safe haven to explore, to test ideas, and yes to create! Since the teacher is part of that “environment” I wanted to learn how to be encourage my child’s self expression and creativity.
My first son was only 8 months when we were assigned in London as part of my husband, Gilbert’s expatriation for work. Part of the package was an opportunity for spouses to continue some form of growth and education. I enrolled in a Early Years: Childhood Care and Education certificate course in the Richmond Community College. Wow, looking back, I am so thankful for having done that course. I did that without really knowing then that I would have 3 more children coming and that I would eventually homeschool.
Sessions in that course were devoted on Creativity and my professor told us this story. Let me try to re-tell it. There once a preschooler who was passionate about horses. She loved them and she daily drew horses. She drew them and she was happy about all her drawings. For some reason, a time came when she dropped the whole “horses” phase and never again attempted to draw them. Our professor then asked, “What do you think happened? ” She then continued with the explanation. A well meaning, loving grandmother who learned about her enthusiasm for drawing horses, gifted her little granddaugther with a coloring book of horses and only horses. A seemingly harmless gesture cut the lifeline to this bursting creativity in that child. Without meaning to do harm, the coloring book “communicated” to the child how horses are supposed to look like . The child realized that what she has been drawing all this time was far from the accepted and appreciated “form” of horses.
The instruction was to “color within the lines” and we all know that ” going out of the lines” was not really something celebrated. What an eye-opener indeed? Why then offer coloring books ? Why expect toddlers or preschoolers with immature fine motor skills to color only within the lines. If you want to know more about the detrimental effects of coloring books to developing young children, click here.
So from then on, I vowed to never purchase a coloring book. Through the years however, you eventually get some as gifts or some pages of activity books have them. Instead, I just bought ream after ream of A3 and A4 paper (our kids didn’t like drawing on recycled papers with some printing at the back) and just restocked our washable tempera/poster paints, chubby crayons, markers! Eventually, we introduced other forms of coloring material such as oil pastels, colored pencils, water color, acrylic/oil paint. We then went into paper mache, sculpting clay and practically any material we could turn into Art! I’ve noticed though that young children like using coloring materials that are easy to manipulate and create “bold colors”. We struggled with some ‘low quality” finger paints because no matter how much blotches we put, the red was pink, and the green was light green!
Living maybe 30 minutes away from IKEA and yes, learning how to drive on the right hand side in 2001, IKEA was my happy place! So, I was so thrilled to see their easels, washable tables and aprons and paint containers! Early Learning Center, a 10 minute walk from our home, sold 500ml washable paints in rainbow color for only £1 per bottle!
So timely! As I write this post, my now 12 year old daughter who was just stamping away in the photo above 10 years ago has shown me her latest creation using some special pens.( Visit her “room” or the category corner “Raya’s Room” in this blog for more of her creations!) Here it is:
Having learned a whole about how adults can stifle children’s creativity, I really became bent on understanding this field and wanted to be a CREATIVITY Crusader in our homeschooling room:) So I had to learn and yes re-learn. Two materials that became like handbooks as began homeschooling were these:
Regarding the Creativity Process, Michelle Cassou had this to say, “I came to realize how the intelligence of creativity works and how everything in it has to come from the child. Creativity needed to be offered as play, adventure, and self expression. Putting pressures or expectations on children had to be banned; at the same time, the basic principles of creativity cold never be compromised. Consequently, the creative process couldn’t be taught as a technique because it is a living process. I needed to use my intuition and my heart, not my ideas of what was right. I had to become supple, available and strong in the understanding of my own creativity. within a few years, I developed a method based on process, not techniques……… This approach resulted in children entering a true process, finding self-expression and developing a solid base for creativity in their lives, an experience they couldn’t forget. ” (Excerpt from her book entitled, Kid’s Play, Igniting a Child’s Creativity)
The teaching encouraged by Miss Cassou is the kind that uses a “gentle process that follows children’s journeys into themselves. When children reach their inner being and express themselves, their hearts open.”
Homeschooling offers such a safe haven where children’s hearts open. That’s because they learn at home with their most trusted person in the world, their parents. We already have the most basic and important ingredients of CREATIVITY: Acceptance, Appreciation, Safety, Love and Trust. How can Creativity not flow and bloom? But parents are not natural creativity crusaders, so let me, in the succeeding posts, impart some ways to raise creative children in the homeschooling setting. Keep in touch, ok?
Watch out for the next blog post about Creativity !
Psalm 139: 13-17
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. 17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God! How vast is the sum of them!
To prepare us for our Shakespeare unit, we began with learning as much as we could about his life in general. In addition to that, it really helps to have some sort of idea on the major lessons in ones homeschool calendar so you can somehow adjust the activities before, during and after the unit so you can prepare and supplement we with the other lessons that happen in ” class”. I knew months ahead that we were doing Shakespeare early this year so already had the following:
It was also so timely that theater group, Rude Mechanicals Theater Company ,through good friend and our children’s piano teacher, Ms.Joonee Garcia invited us to the preview of their presentation of “Twelfth Night”. Thank you, Joonee!! If you’re interested to gather a sizable group to watch Shakespeare, contact this theater company, leave a comment on their webpage.
We got confused, there were a bit of disguises, there was love and a whole of things going on, and yes this theater did in 1980s fashion, yes complete with 80s music! So when we went back to our books and research, we learned about the plot of this play.
Prior to beginning the unit, I saw these two for Php 75.00 in Book Sale SM Southmall.
Usually, the teacher reads the assigned chapters or pages in the readers in advance. A list of new words are identified and students can be asked to find the definition and use these words in sentences. Spelling tests can be done. Open ended reading comprehension questions can be laid out. Answers can be oral or written. When certain parts of the story relate to real life or current events, you may decide to pause and discuss.
I mentioned several links in the previous blogpost on Shakespeare to extend your Language Lessons. Our lessons and activities on puns, homophones and homonyms were really fun!
For Language, we focused on this compilation of famous lines and phrases from Shakespeare. Isn’t he brilliant? The kids chose lines and analyzed each them.
We further extended this to Filipino wherein we studied common Filipino idioms or phrases. Knowing ahead that we will be doing Shakespeare, I made some early preparation by tweaking our Language and Filipino to focus on descriptive words or adjectives, poetry, narrating a story, elements of a story, We had daily poetry reading for good exposure and eventually the students created their own poems. There are countless resources online that equip teachers on how to teach poetry. Just google it, “How to teach poetry to elementary/ middle school/ high school?” students. Check this one out.
Soon, everyone was in this Shakespeare mood, even in fashion! Our favorite Hippo earned a “ruff” throughout our lessons. This came from those round cake placemats!
Speaking of fashion, Raya wanted to research and create a “booklet” on Elizabethan fashion. So she researched and got her paints and pens and produced this!
She even got me to try and for one session became the teacher to her Mama student. I wanted to learn how to create a Elizabethan gown. My lack of knowledge and drawing skills compared to my teacher daughter showed in my art work! But I so loved the experience and even hearing my now daughter saying, “You’re good Mama, You can do it. Draw more!” was priceless. What an encouraging teacher she was!( and she really did remind me days after that and until today to drop everything and create). Sharing with you my own version of Elizabethan gown:
We also learned a whole lot about the entertainment and culture during the lifetime of Shakespeare. The events surrounding the building and rebuilding of The Globe Theater was very interesting. The bustling activities and drama (oh see, a pun, right there!) and every day events that revolved around this theater was simply too good not to further learn about.
Raya,my level 6 student was learning about Circles in Math. Do you somehow know where this is all going to lead to…. well, how else can we best teach parts of a circle, apply the importance of learning about area and circumference of a circle? Why not………….. ok, this has been long! Let me make this a suspenseful series in Shakespeare fashion! Part 3 of this series will eventually take you to a step by step process on how we put the Study of Math ( Circles) and Shakespeare together! Time to gather all your recyclable and coloring material. Time to stretch those finger muscles and yes, let your creatively run wild! We shall be building soon!
Psalm 127:1 Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.
It has become my habit to check the children’s list of lessons per subject at the beginning of every quarter (Our homescool is set in 4 quarters per school year). I usually do this by opening the children’s textbooks and scanning through the the table of contents. For this past quarter, what stood out was “Shakespeare!” Oh dear, did you know that “For Goodness’ sake” is attributed to the famous bard (a professional storyteller in the Medieval culture)? Well, now you do!
This type of preparation allows me to get a bigger picture of what we are all getting into and how we can incorporate certain lessons for a “multidisciplinary, multilevel and blended” type of learning. At the beginning of our homeschooling journey, I focused on tackling the subjects separately. Eventually, I realized that “merging” lessons from various subjects or creating lesson plans that revolve around various subjects in one activity or project seemed to be more effective. Projects employing a whole lot hands-on activities made learning more fun and relaxed. All of this combined made it also more doable for us with 4 homeschooling students. For years and years, this approach made much more sense to me. In seeing the lessons ahead, I could plan to advance or hold back (or even skip or scrap, yes scrap!) some lessons depending on how the lessons will somehow blend and fall into place for maximal learning. For instance, this past quarter, I knew we were going to meet Shakespeare in History, specifically Mystery of History Volume 3. I then tweaked our Language and Filipino lessons to include Descriptive Language, Poetry Reading, Elements of Poetry/ Plays. In Math, I knew that my older daughter was going to learn about circles, including solving for the area and circumference so at the back of my head, I was actually playing with the idea challenging the children to create a replica of Shakespeare’s famous Globe Theater. For Reading, I purchased a few cheap books that discussed Shakespeare’s life story and presented two of his famous plays in a way that my two level 6 and 4 students could appreciate. (This was actually a really EUREKA moment because I had found some of these books from SM Southmall Booksale for php75.00 each!) This coming quarter, we may for Social Studies and Philippine Culture, study some of our own well know writers !!!
So far the Study of Shakespeare, this is what was somehow going on in my head…..
In addition to all that, I also searched for good online resources to supplement our study. Little did I know that we were setting up what experts identify as “blended learning“. The online sources varied from simple worksheets, teaching videos, lesson plans/text, documentaries to actual performing arts videos. I did a quick preview of an award winning movie entitled Shakespeare in Love (and took note of the inappropriate scenes) since the Elizabethan language, culture, and historical scenes were portrayed well in this movie. And of course, who could resist the beautiful Viola in Gwyneth Paltrow? I just love how they merged fact and fiction and made it very entertaining and yes educational. The movie had the elements of confusion, mistaken identities, tragedies, deaths, and yes of course, love! Since we already knew the basic facts from our discussion, research and reading, we could not help but appreciate (and not get confused!) this historical fiction movie!
Along the way, we bumped into a controversy ( and yes, there is an ongoing online petition calling for an investigation on the authenticity of the claim that it was William Shakespeare himself who really wrote all his famous literary works!) We listened to both sides of the argument. It was really interesting and mind-boggling!
The inspiration in tackling Shakespeare with so much excitement and passion started with this online image:
Wow, who would have thought all of these “lines” would be attributed to William Shakespeare? As the children’s interest were ignited, I gave them this task. “How sure are we that these lines really came from William Shakespeare?” “Do we just accept it as such just because this image says so?” ( In doing this, I am trying to teach the children to be circumspect in curating information sourced online. This is part of making our children digitally responsible netizens.)
So I asked the kids to choose phrases from the above image and use a worksheet I created to review and study these lines. My older daughter was assigned 10 while her younger brother was assigned 5 lines. See her work below.
Gino, our level 4 student also had his own !
He also read a simple chapter book on King Lear and broke down the elements of a tragedy this way:
We further extended the lessons on English to include:
A dear friend, and our children’s piano teacher, Ms. Joonee Garcia loves to lend us material that could help supplement our learning. We were ecstatic when she sent us this “Masterpuppet Theatre” activity pack!
Oh thank you, Teacher Joonee, through this “World of Shakespeare at your Fingertips” activity, we read lines (with some English accent, of course), acted out, changed some backdrops on the theater stage and had loads of fun!
For Filipino, we also discussed commonly used idioms/sayings/ proverbs. Examples were: “suntok sa buwan, pay may tiyaga may nilaga, matigas ang ulo, itaga sa bato, makapal ang mukha” For more example, check this out!). I ask the student to write some of these in Tagalog sentences and read them aloud. We also read and tried to understand some poems in Tagalog.
I do not really create a day to day lesson plan because I have tried many times and I really never end up following my plan. I also adjust along the way as we see how the lesson is progressing. Most of the time, some activities come to mind on the spot and we implement right away. There are times however that we have to delay some plan due to necessary preparation. But most often than not, we create our lesson plan “as we go”. As much as possible, we want to be more flexible especially when the children decide that they’d like to pursue some aspect of the lesson. For instance, my crafty and artist daughter Raya decided to do a History and Visual Arts output focusing on Elizabethan Fashion for Women. She was planning to create a magazine type of presentation.
Let me show a sneak peek of some of the kids’ outputs which I plan present more thoroughly in a PART 2 post on Shakespeare.
Watch out for Part 2!
Start thinking and planning your own Shakespeare Unit!
Hebrews 10:24, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”
I came home from dropping my son at his classmate’s house for carpool. My heart had been heavy and burdened with many circumstances beyond my control and then I looked up for a while and witnessed this:
I took a shot right away and reflected on how we can be so “spent” by always looking down or across. There are so many things we can complain about when we get used to always just looking at eye level or looking down. I saw that morning’s view as God speaking to me to look up, to look to Him, the Author and Perfecter of my faith as in Hebrews 9:22 “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith.”
And so that scene of layers of clouds stuck in my mind and I asked my artist daughter, Raya (see her works in “Raya’s Room Category” in this blog) to teach me how to create simple clouds using watercolor, water, watercolor paper and some tissue.
Here are the steps:
Use water color paper. We used a small watercolor pad from Fully Booked. It was about the size of 1/4 of a long bond paper.
Using a palette, put a tinge of blue watercolor paint and water it down to create a very light blue.
Using a medium side brushed, dab the watered down blue and start brush in streaks like so:
4. Before the paint dries off, get a tissue and start blotting off some of the wet paint and create “cloud like” patches.
5. You can add other colors or details.
As we were about to end our homeschool day, we read poems from our Language textbook. Lo and behold, our assigned poem was about “Clouds”. Isn’t such homeschool days simply amazing? If we hadn’t done our Science already for that day, this lesson may have been extended to study about types of clouds, cloud formation, and weather in general. So we read the poem and thought of various ways to describe “clouds” — adjectives, similes and metaphors, and to describe movement of clouds, using adverbs and action verbs!
This Art/Language activity is so simple. Preschoolers will enjoy it for sure. I remember many lessons, when the children were younger, we had a unit on clouds and we used a book entitled, The Cloud ( a book I got from book sale),
For older kids, you may use Science reference books or online sites.
Hopefully, this lesson lands on you on a day with bright blue skies dotted with lovely patches of clouds. Don’t forget to go out and look up. If it is cool and windy, lay a mat, and lie down with your kids. I love looking at clouds and imagining what figures seem to be coming out of the clouds.
Here are some of the amazing ones I’ve found online:
From an article on cloud formations from www.dailymail.co. uk :
I cannot verify the veracity of this photo but this caught my eye on Facebook:
The “cloudy” day lifted my tired heart and weary eyes indeed. May this activity also lift you up. After all, it is always a blessing to LOOK UP:)
Job 37 :15-16 “Do you know how God establishes them, And makes the lightning of His cloud to shine? “Do you know about the layers of the thick clouds, The wonders of one perfect in knowledge.”
Exodus 13:21-22 “The LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.?”
I thought that we were sort of back in business last November as I posted about Gino and Raya’s stint at the KiddoPreneur Bazaar. I had thought that I could sustain writing for this blog, watching over Daddy over in the ICU, supporting Dad’s 81 year old wife, Mommy Emma, running the home, supporting and raising two teens and homeschooling two younger children.
It was a no brainer on what had to go. I couldn’t really blog.
Well, after 83 days in the hospital (95% of that in the ICU), Dad bid farewell to Planet Earth and his family on the 4th of January at around 350 AM.
Below was Dad’s working diagnoses :
COPD, Emphysema, CVD, CAD, HPN, ESRD on 3x a week dialysis, Type 2 DM, BPH, Dementia
S/P 2006 Femoral Neck Fracture/ Surgery for Implant Insertion
S/P 2006 Release of Volvulus
S/P 2012 Stroke, Pons Area
S/P 2013 Insertion of AV Fistula for Dialsysis Access
S/P 2014 Subtotal Colectomy for Recurrent Diverticular Bleeding/Use of Colostomy Bag
S/P 2014 Insertion of Jugular Permacatheter for Dialysis Access
Good luck on trying to decipher all that but I guess you get the picture that Dad had a lot of systems involved for about 10 long years. All of these terms, and the gamut of management necessary were familiar to me, being trained as a medical doctor. But, oh boy, what a fighter Daddy was.
Growing up, Dad was truly a fighter! Mom had her own set of medical challenges that began shortly after I was born and so, how does one MAN support his wife and 9 needy children?
We have heard again and again, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” (Luke 18:27) Daddy modeled believing in that for as long as he lived. “Kaya natin ito.! ( We can do this) !” “Magagawan natin ng paraan! ( We will find a way!) So whether it was finishing a home we were building , or dealing with Mom’s medical challenges, facing numerous Goliaths in business, and giant boulders in campaigns for his children’s run in Student Councils, City Councils, House of Congress or even the Philippine Senate, Daddy believed and tried his best to attain victory. But Daddy wasn’t omnipotent like God, so yes, we did have a lot of our share of losses and pains and sorrows.
Dad’s last few months on Earth pretty much showed that until the very end, he sought to fight. He yearned to stay and be with family ( something he loved to do and was known to be the one who always planned that gatherings of both his immediate and extended families) even if his 82 year old body was no longer physically and mentally able.
There are many positive traits to focus on, and yes there are faults ( many too!) to learn from the way Daddy conducted his life here on Earth. But for this piece, I shall honor him as a homeschooler? What legacy did my dad leave for our clan, our homeschooling family? Let me name some of his traits that are so valuable for any homeschooling family:
Dad was personally concerned with each child. Dad knew each child inside and out. Dad took time to know and yes, bond, with every child. Can you imagine how he did that while running his own business and without any support from any cellphone, gadget or computer? I remember him personally creating my campaign pins and posters for a student council president run in high school. By then, he had already mounted 2 other high school campaigns with my older brothers.
Dad ( and Mom ) always made sure that we knew that it was our duty to be of service . Life was never meant to be about ourselves, our own comfort and pleasure. With Dad being involved in Rotary, Jaycees, and the Catholic Family Movement , and even the many associations, he was involved in depending on what branch of his business he was currently busy with, he was always thinking of what can be done to serve others.
Dad (and Mom) made our home a place where the children would love to “live and grow in (their friends, too)”. Dad built all our homes as a civil engineer/contractor. In one of our homes in 11 Mahusay, I had the fondest of memories growing up. Wow, our home was the “Disco place” where my older sisters’ parties were being held with mirror balls and yes, hot dogs and cheese on toothpicks stuck on cabbages! We had a turntable and great speakers! I remember dancing in between dancing couples to go to the food table ! For the younger kids, we had a huge playroom with all the toys and books sourced by Mom from garage sales! Our cousins, the Roas next-door, had the most amazing play experiences in that huge room.
In our Antipolo farm/home, we had a basketball court and a pool where we could jump from a 2 meter high water fall, use slides and swings, pingpong table, and a punching bag. We also had at one time, 15 toy terrier, cocker spaniel pets! Add to that, we had rabbits, pigeons, chickens, pigs, fish in a pond, and yes for some time, 2 horses! I am not even mentioning that animals we didnt care for: the snakes, frogs, rats, lizards!!
Dad fostered open communication and engaging for all 9 of us. We had our yearly talks to address strengths and weaknesses. Yes, as early as I can remember, I remember being told that I shouldn’t forget to call all my siblings with “ate” or “kuya”. He encouraged all nine of us to support each other by making sure, we were present for most of our siblings’ milestone events like “dramatic plays, Kundirana concert, volleyball games, band gigs (for Music & Magic) in Alibi Bar in Regency Hotel or Tavern on the Square, awarding and graduations.”
Dad challenged us beyond our own perceptions of what we could do. Dad was big on “on the job training. ” He was always trying to get his kids to work part time or do summer jobs in his office in Kalayaan Ave, QC. When I was 10 years old or so, Daddy challenged me to singlehandedly lead and run a “sari-sari store” for his overseas manpower applicants. Everyday for about 2 weeks, Dad and I , with a cooler in tow, passed by a bakery and grocery store, to stock on ice, drinks, bread products ( pandesal, panda coco, ensaymada) and other items like chips, candies, and even, cigarettes! I would then “sell and serve” while Dad ran the company. Being a timid, youngest daughter, I had to level up and truly learned big time.
Though Dad had his own views about a lot of things, at some point , he let us RUN our own lives. Dad and Mom supported us so we could discover our ultimate goal and purpose in life. Dad made sure we knew he was there with us all the way, even if we decide on something that may not be exactly what he thought we needed to do. I remember receiving a faxed handwritten letter from him during my honeymoon in Japan in 1995 ( which was the summer before 3rd year of Medical Proper ) that said, ” If you decide to be a loving housewife to Gilbert and not finish your Medical degree, it’s okay. You can do that.” Awwwww.
Dad believed in learning through travel. Despite financial costs ( and maybe at times, to a fault), he made sure, we had a share of “learning” through travel. Be it Hongkong, Cebu, Baguio, Leyte or Europe, Dad strived to give all of us, a chance to travel! If business, pleasure and learning could be achieved through travel, Dad was all for it.
Creativity and perseverance matter. Dad was indeed a perfect example of the Renaissance Man. “Renaissance man, also called Universal Man, Italian Uomo Universale, an ideal that developed in Renaissance Italy from the notion expressed by one of its most accomplished representatives, Leon Battista Alberti (1404–72), that “a man can do all things if he will.” *** Whether it be his Super Jeep, an alarm clock serving as a burglar alarm, a marble bar set with stools, the Universal Power Supply (which we sold to the UP College of Medicine) amidst the energy crisis under President Cory Aquino , stone furniture and accessories, marble table tops, wicker chairs and table, his sleeveless suits and “puruntong” shorts, Dad was a scientist, creator, artist, entrepreneur all rolled into one! We saw it all in first row seats !
There is so much more to share about Dad as a husband and father, but I shall take a break here. I only focused on what are essential to every homeschooling family. Learn from Daddy Dony and let his memory live on 🙂 Thank you Daddy Dony. Praise God indeed!
Honor your father and your mother, just as the LORD your God commanded you, so that you will live long and things will go well for you in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.
Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.