Fun with Art & Forts

In keeping with our decision to give unschooling a try I sat back today and observed my children playing.  They had  full day of activities and I was so proud of how well they filled their time without complaints of being bored.

Ian spent a good portion of the morning working on his Lego's and when he got bored with that he started playing his electric guitar.  It's been months and months since he's even picked up his guitar and it was nice to hear him strumming some cords.  I don't think he was actually looking at any of his music or actually practicing it so much as just playing it but if he's finding enjoyment in his music again I'm thrilled!
Alec spent the morning reading a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle comic book to his brother Evan.  Evan found the comic this morning inside the Wii case and showed us that it wasn't instructions but a story, so Alec offered to read it out loud.  They spent almost an hour reading together.  It was great to see them getting along and even better to see Alec having to sound out words and apply reading strategies since the vocabulary in the comic book was pretty advanced.  It's unusual for reading to challenge Alec so much but he did a great job. 
The boys decided to bundle up and head outside for a bit.  With temps only reaching into the 20's they didn't stay out for very long.

Alec seemed to have the hardest time finding something to do so I asked him if he'd like to paint.  We cut hearts out of coffee filters and the boys painted them using watercolors.  Once dry we taped them to the windows.  They look so pretty and they had so much fun mixing colors, learning all about color theory.

They painted for almost an hour.  I had no idea it would be such an engaging project.  Evan found a plastic paint- your- own sun catcher in the art bin that he had gotten for Christmas so he worked on that for a bit too.  He experimented with mixing colors some more and discovered that green and red made brown; perfect for his horse. 

Evan decided that coffee filters made great star ships and he took a bunch of them into the playroom to use with his star wars characters.  What an imagination! 

I had saw on Pinterest a long time ago about making tie dye shirts using sharpie markers and alcohol.  We decided to give it a try.  There is a great tutorial on that we followed but really it's quite easy.

We took some circled lids (think mayonnaise jars) and secured the t shirt front around the lid with elastic bands.  Making several small circles.

Then we colored the circles with sharpie markers and used droppers to drop rubbing alcohol onto our design.  The alcohol makes the ink spread out and the colors run together.  It's so neat to watch the alcohol making new designs. 

His completed shirt looks really neat.

 They saw a Facebook post of their cousins eating lunch in their fort and all three boys were off and running.  They asked me to clear the furniture off to the sides of the living room, they pulled all the dining chairs into the middle, pulled tons of blankets from all our rooms and using clothespins pulled a fort together in no time.

They had to figure out how to keep it from falling, how to use clothes pins (once they learned what they were!), and how to block up all the holes.  They used team work, reasoning and compromise to build a really great fort.

 Evan then asked to get books, toys and flashlights so they could play inside it all afternoon.  They even laid blankets down on the floor to make a "bed."  It was wonderful to see them working so hard; I swear I could see the wheels turning in their heads as they worked.   Alec wanted to bring his bird clock into the fort so they could pretend they were in nature.  He also asked what they'd do if there was a bear outside the tent.  They decided to turn on the ceiling fan for "wind" and because they were hot inside in the tent.

 I heard all sorts of giggles and "why don't we pretend...".  They eventually hung up their shirts, pretending to do laundry while camping.  They pretended to get sick, go for morning walks, run away from mosquitoes, have an injury,  then the Dr. had to come and check out the injured/sick person.

They pretended Popsicles were medicine and at one point Alec was near to dying.   Ian had a sprained ankle and Evan had a broken arm (though the Dr did x-ray it to make sure it wasn't just sprained!).   They used ice packs, water bottles, stop watches, an assortment of stuffed animals, flashlights, gauze, tape and tools.  The imaginations were amazing and the play lasted for hours.  It was priceless to watch and to hear them and I know these are priceless memories they'll have forever.  They've made me promise that they can sleep in the fort one night all together.

hanging out in the fort

the tent from the outside

Later in the afternoon, I could hear Evan and Alec in our tent reading some books together too.  While Ian decided to take a break and go play outside.

It was THE BEST day of unschooling we've ever had! 


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