Saturday, January 14, 2012

Math Games

All this week I have been working with math concepts with Mateo following up from a detailed story I was telling him about the Land of Numeria (which I will later describe in better detail). For the purpose of today's post and a quick snippet into education on the road, here are some images of our morning ventures and number games.
We played number twister, we jumped like little New Orleans Bayou frogs from high to low numbers and back up again and rounded it all off with little addition and subtraction problems.
Math games_1
Here's to the beauty and ingenuity of Homschooling and empowering one's self with the resources to foster and nourish our own children's thirst!

This blog is just for our homeschooling projects, for more about our bus life visit us on our main site... TRANSITANTENNA DOT COM  


A goal that I have always had for our bus-home has been to create an area specifically for the children - a dedicated, multifunctional place where they can play freely and work on school projects - but with limited space I was not sure if it would be possible. Since we left Miami all our toys have been tucked away in a chest and we have been so chaotic and tense adjusting to our new lifestyle that playing serenely inside was more stressful than relaxing. The first step toward groundedness was to create a clear, orderly environment. A place where everything has a place. Where the kids know where to expect to find their things and importly where to put them back! A place which would remain friendly, familair and firmly theirs despite our ever-changing backdrop.
The 'playroom' began to take shape when we built a book and toy shelf at the end of the couch. This served many functions: housing the kid's things, dividing the space and freeing up floor space. Beyond the bookshelf we installed a fold down table for eating and projects. A piece of dowel keeps it up when it is not stowed.
The bean bag seemed to be fun seating solution for the table. Easy and light-weight, I made these bean bags from a some felted fabric that Tom found on the side of the road and used some pea-foam donated from a friend's art studio.
The kid's kitchen - which has never had a permenant place - is now in full swing. Together with the help of Talula and Simon (new friends of Mateo's) we've made some felted foods - egg, asparagus, mushroom - to add to our wooden ones, increasing cooking possiblities exponentially.
Beneath the bookshelf, two shelves are dedicated to a range of toys suitable for both Mateo and Harper. Having simplified their toy collection and eliminated the cluttered toy chest (now a laundry bin) I can now display a selection of toys that I plan to rotate. Books, games and Mateo's older kids toys now all have their own spot elsewhere.
The best part is the open space created when the table is folded down.Who would have thought that a bus could be roomy?
When life is in a constant state of flux (improvement and discovery) it is crucial to offer children, among daily adventure, a consistent base they can rely on. With 1st grade approaching I am so glad that the basics are now in order. Where as before I might have worried about having them set up, I now feel eager to embrace their education and focus on their curriculum. In becoming Transit Antenna we have a responsibility to maintain and develop the project, but whatever you do, if you have kids, they should always be your first priority. As parents we naturally wonder if we are doing the right thing by them, for them, or just dragging them along for the ride, but we are always reassured by home improvements like these and thankfully by the kids themselves who day-by-day seem more empowered, balanced and thirsty for knowledge, positively flourishing within a lifestyle that others find questionable.

This blog is just for our homeschooling projects, for more about our bus life visit us on our main site... TRANSITANTENNA DOT COM 

Monday, November 29, 2010



Mateo is constantly asking me what time it is as 3pm is when his school friends are free to play. Although he has his own watch and I have explained to him on numerous occasions how linear time works it is still over his head. I can't blame him really, the system seems so arbitrary.  In an effort to make time more tangible, something easier for him to grasp, we made a sundial.
Our sundial was simple, direct and didn't require the use of latitude and longitude for accuracy. We used a stick, river rocks and chalk.


After finding a nice sturdy stick for our gnomon we looked for a spot that would be sunny throughout the day.


We tied a piece of wool on the stick so we could find our way back and placed the first rock in its shadow.


We started our project at 11:00am and returned hourly, on the dot, to place a new rock.


Mateo carried my watch with him throughout the day to keep track of the time. We discussed the size of the Earth and how fast it is turning, we talked about night and day and dawn and dusk. Later we visualized the process using a flashlight and a globe. That all times exist at the same time as we all move forward in time was an exciting thought for him.

Seeing him earnestly applied in the quest of knowledge was welcome validation of my choice to homeschool. As ever, Harper wanted to join in.


In her own special way.


At some point we noticed that the rocks got quite warm from exposure to the sun so we placed a couple on a nearby root.

And on a subsequent visit to the sundial, relaxed in the shade with a bit of Hot Rock Therapy.



This lesson was fascinating, easy to visualize and interactive. And unlike many projects that we do together this one was self regulated, conveniently paced throughout the day by hour-ish long breaks. I think that the relaxed nature of this activity contributed positively to Mateo’s receptiveness to learning. Despite our deviations there was a theme, the day was ‘about’ something, and ultimately I feel that the lesson took root better in one focused day in the field than it would had it come from a text book, cut it into lessons throughout the week, or simply asserted as a brief prequel to the task of dictating an appreciation for the cultural importance of time before a bell rings.

The movement of the sun across the sky is admittedly just a small part of a subject that has enormous depth, but this simple beginning of time, its effect on life on this planet, on us, is fundamental beyond any temporal, human routine. And if understanding and appreciating this is not innate, then I am proud to have introduced this to my son.


This blog is just for our homeschooling projects, for more about our bus life visit us on our main site... TRANSITANTENNA DOT COM

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A fortnight in pictures + Halloween and Guy Fawkes

Mateo in one of many Halloween costumes we made that he decided weren't cool enough.
We've been a bit busy lately making robot costumes so in lieu of last week's update that we missed, here's a special, festive fortnight in pictures. Do you even say fortnight in the US? Incase you don't it's English for two weeks!

On Halloween morning, a large pupae we found in the field across the street hatched into an elegant moth.

Later in the evening the kids underwent some metamorphosis of their own in preparation for our evening bike ride to a nearby affluent neighborhood.

One of many OTT spook fests on view.

Harper waiting impatiently to be ridden home after trick or treating wore thin.

Triamphunt, and carrying a glut of candy the kids will never see, we rode home as recklessly as Sam would allow.

The next morning I caught my first mouse. Having sold things out of our landlady's house to make our rent, we now have to do random chores. Gruesome pest control is sadly a high priority.

Decomposing pumpkins on the edge of the compost pile.

November 5th is Guy Fawkes night. Traditionally a night of toffee apples, fireworks and associated physical disfigurements of reckless minors. Sam decided to attempt homemade marshmellows. Mateo here is upset because we wont let him eat boiling maple syrup.

The process was involved, tiring, and ultimately a complete failure.

But at least Mateo got to lick the whisk.

As the Sun went down I ceremoniously lit the fire using the waste product from my centrifuge.

Thankfully Mateo was dilligently on standby.

As we hadn't had time to make an effergy we decided instead to draw and burn pictures of people we knew. First on the fire, Rick Scott!

We woke up the next morning to find that a peacock from our old neighborhood had decided to paid us a visit. 
posted by Tom
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Friday, October 29, 2010

Paper-making and Autumn Leaves

I recently found Mateo playing in the sand pit next to our bus pretending to make paper with an experimental mix of sand and water. This lead to a discussion about paper, its history, different things in our lives made of paper, and the natural ability of wasps to make their nests from paper. Later that week we created our own paper making project. This is our recipe"ish":
Making the sieve and mold:
My original plan was to make a very simple sieve with pantyhose and a wire hanger, however, I could not find what I needed at hand so in keeping with my vow to keep this project purchase free I ended up finding and using scrap wood, screen, wood screws and staple gun.
To make things easy we cut the four sides of our frame the same size.
Mateo enjoyed measuring to make sure that all pieces were exactly the same.
We then screwed the pieces together and stapled the screen mesh to the frame.
Mateo hammered the staples that poked up for a stronger hold then carefully trimmed the excess mesh from the sides.
The slurry or pulp:
Our ingredients consisted of newspaper, lint, sawdust, leaves and flowers and we later threw in some glitter. Next time I would like experiment with more color variations and sculptural forms, but for our first attempt we kept it simple.
First we shredded the newspaper and mixed the rest of the ingredients together in water.
Then we blended everything together to make the pulp. I recommend small batches at a time.
The pulp should have the consistency of porridge.
Now we are ready to make paper!
Any additional flowers or decorative elements should be added to your sieve first.
Then add the slurry over top. Our frame happened to fit perfectly into our cooler, making it easy to press the water into the underneath container.
We found it easiest to press the water out with our hands.
Once the majority of the water is pressed out, carefully flip the formed paper on to your drying area. We used a combination of felt and newspaper to absorb the excess water in our paper. We covered and then pressed and rolled the paper with rolling pin.
The result will start to resemble thick paper card.
Hang to dry and move on to the next batch.
We dried overnight.
The next day we found leaves we liked around the neighborhood and use them as templates to cut out from our new recycled paper.
Added some watercolor and..
...they ended up gorgeous. We hung them up inside our home. They remind us of the autumn leaves we don't get a chance to see here in Miami. But we'll soon get a chance to admire the changing colors of autumn next week when we take the bus on its first trial run up to North Carolina. Wahoo!

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