Tuesday, March 31, 2020

E-Learning and Working from Home...How to Keep it All Straight?! (+ Free Printables)

A collage of my day...

As I write this I'm being interrupted about every 10 minutes to fix tech issues, replace broken headphones, move a drum away from my conference-calling husband and into my son's room for his band class, get Schoology back up, email a pic of a project to a teacher, and calm my over-achiever who is on the verge of tears because on teacher's Zoom went long and now he's not as ahead as he wanted to be...whew!

This is a busy week for a lot of you juggling your kids getting back to school, and we're all in the same boat! Before I share how I'm trying to coordinate it all, I want to pause to make one point:

We are NOT "Homeschooling!"

I just want to say, in my house we are NOT HOMESCHOOLING!! We are SO incredibly fortunate that we have an amazing district with the technological resources and incredible teachers who have been working their butts off re-defining their jobs on the fly and orchestrating e-learning. I am not home schooling. My job is to referee my two boys, cheerlead, offer tech support, and make sure they are physically, mentally and emotionally well enough to focus when they need to. Hats off to our teachers who not only will be teaching OUR kids online, but have to also juggle their OWN kids' online learning at the same time, who many times are in different districts! And to my friends who home school for real...I know you also work your butts off figuring out curriculum and jumping through government hoops. You are amazing!! I will NEVER claim to be taking on either of your jobs! Thank you to our district, Westonka public schools, for everything you're doing for our kids this week, and making my job "easy," in the grand scheme of things!!

Organizing 4 Schedules in One Home

Okay, so I'm a huge organizer, and I like to have a plan for what's coming up. While I'm not a huge fan of the fact that there is no end in sight for all of this, I'm trying to focus on what I CAN control and plan for. Right now I need to organize four very different work days for:

  • My husband - who works for General Mills and is now working from home, needs a quiet place to work and do conference calls all day.
  • My 12 year old - who has a schedule lasting until lunch, including band (he's a drummer).
  • My 10 year old - who has a full day's school schedule lasting until 3:00, including zoom meetings throughout the day.
  • Myself - a small business owner who is normally used to working at home in my quiet office with everyone else gone for 6-7 hours of the day.

Conflicts we've identified early on are:
  • Simultaneous need for quiet for calls and noise for Band/music practice
  • Bandwidth issues with overlapping zoom calls and kids wanting to stream movies
  • Mom's sanity as she faces reality that her normal job of dropping everything to come to everyone else's aid is now a nearly 24/7 one.
In order to keep it all straight, I've created a giant white board schedule on the wall:

I had a roll of adhesive-backed white board paper, because I hoard these strange things from past projects. Hey, 'ya never know if you'll need it! My material hoarding has come in very handy many times just over the past couple weeks!

 I decided to use this little short bit of wall that juts out between our kitchen and living room, because it's really a central area we all walk by all day long, and it's easy to see from across the whole house. I covered it with adhesive-backed dry erase paper, and then used some thin masking tape to create a column for each member of the household. (To the left is a frame that used to hold a drawing, and now holds cork board and magnetic white board) I picked this spot because the wall sticks out and I can cover it edge to edge. If you're taping off a section of a flat wall, make sure to have some sort of frame or buffer zone on the edges...otherwise you may end up with dry erase marker dust smearing onto your wall. I think I can avoid this, but am fine with having to re-paint this little spot if needed when we're all back to normal!

I created a header and figured out what size space I had to make little 1/2 hour time block labels to fit on my wall. Here is a jpeg you are welcome to copy and print for yourself, if you have a space that works! Right click or option-click to download it and print from your computer:

I laminated this and cut them out, and stuck them up with poster putty. If you're using a magnetic white board, that's even better, you can use magnets instead!

I also created some little signs to stick on to mark when people have Zoom meetings, meals, activities, etc...and "No Netflix please" for when Dad is doing a video call, as we found Neflix and Zoom weren't playing well together on the same wifi! Here's a jpeg you can download and print for your own use, too! I may be adding more here as we discover the need for others!

I also used some skinnier scraps of the adhseive-backed dry erase paper, stuck to pieces of colored paper that stretches across all 4 of our columns, to create events that we are all involved in at the same time...like going for a walk together. I can write the activity on the white board paper, put it across all four of our columns during one time slot.

One of our spring break days when it was rainy, we made this little holder for our white board markers, signs and poster putty out of cardboard tubes & glue! I painted it white and let Toby decorate it. Heck, anything you can turn into a project is a plus right now!

So far this method has worked pretty well for the first day! I think I'll come up with a few more signs, and we have other things to tweak here & there to get all of our very different days to sync, but I think we're off to a good start.

What are YOU doing to keep track of all the conflicting schedules in your house? Please share your tips & tricks in the comments so we can all help and learn from each other!

Monday, March 30, 2020

Toilet Paper Still Life, & Other Fun Project Ideas!

My completed piece! Charcoal, marker, watercolor, acrylic, perler beads, pastel, collage, colored pencil and pencil.

I know, I haven't blogged here in a while! But now that nobody on the planet is holding events due to COVID-19, my face painting business has come to a screeching halt, which means I have some more time to share fun ideas with YOU, in between playing tech support for my boys' online schooling!

I thought I'd start with some fun projects I've been doing with my boys since we've started staying home a couple weeks ago!

I took the opportunity one day to have a little still life art lesson with my boys. They say art imitates life, so I figured, what better subject matter for the current times than...a roll of toilet paper?!

I put one of our priceless, coveted rolls of toilet paper on a pedestal on the kitchen table. (Don't worry, no TP was harmed or wasted in the making of this project!)

I cut up pieces of paper into 4" squares, which is...you guessed it...exactly the size of a sheet of toilet paper! Our goal was to create 9 renderings of a toilet paper roll, using 9 different mediums.  So, I cut up squares of drawing paper, watercolor paper, marker paper, and cardboard. I think the small paper size made this more fun and less intimidating....less space to fill so that they were motivated enough to keep doing more, and spreading it out over a couple days, we had a nice grid of 9 in the end.

This was really fun for me, too! My finished product you can see up above, the first pic in this post. Do this along WITH your kids! You might be surprised how much fun you'll have too!

Once we were done I spray mounted them on a piece of poster board. Don't they look cool in a nice, square grid? Kindof Andy Warhol-esque.

Here are some ideas for different mediums you can try:
  • Markers
  • Colored Pencils
  • Crayons
  • Watercolor paint
  • Acrylic paint
  • Oil paint
  • Pencil
  • Charcoal
  • Pastels
  • Collage/paper
  • Ink/pens
  • Perler beads

For me it was really fun to dig out some of my art supplies that I haven't used since college! The boys learned about perspective, how circles turn into ellipses when viewed at an angle, shading cyllinders, and how to use fun tools they haven't used like kneaded erasers, eraser shields, different

Another thing we did last week was Perler Beads!! We have tons of these things and Sam had the great idea that we make honeycomb!! This is an easy way to get everyone involved in making one, larger project...since we have a couple bead trays in hexagon shapes, two of us can be making honeycomb cells at any given time. 

I made some parts for a bee while the boys did some comb too! This kept us busy for a whole day, and then some....I put them away when interest started to fade. We can easily get them back out another day and add on to our comb! Eventually I may glue them together to a board!

My boys are 10 and 12. If yours are too little for this kind of thing, here are a couple more fun ideas I saw on Facebook recently....

Even BABIES can create a masterpiece! Make sure you put something good underneath to protect your floor....sandwich some canvas or paper with blobs of acrylic on top, topped with some plastic wrap. What a fun idea!!

I loved this idea for combining art with enjoying a sunny day outside!

What kind of art projects are you and your kids doing to keep busy and have fun? Share in the comments!!


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