A journal of creativity with my daughter Grace

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Here is our final month of the school year. It was a fun journey.

At the end, I'll link you two other entries.

Past months:

September
October
November
December
January
February

March
April
• May
Continued


First week in May

Anyone with kids knows how hectic spring can be. Grace has three older brothers, so it has been particularly hard for me to find time to do things one-on-one with her. She often hangs out, soaking in ideas, watching how projects come together.

And her one brother, Will, has been teaching her to play soccer. He's an intense player on the field, but when he's teaching her, it's sweet to see him softly kicking a ball with her, letting her steal it from him and score.

Big brother in action


Wednesday, May 11

It has been so hectic trying to keep up with my work and still do fun things with Grace. In addition, she's been spending more time playing at friends' houses, which is good for her.

Today we used this painting to play hide and seek. We each took turns "hiding" in the painting, and the other person had to figure out where in the painting was the hiding place. We hid in the wheat field, the leaves of the tree, in the basket hidden in the field, under the sheaves, even in the house in the distance. It's a great way to really see a painting.

The Harvesters by Pieter Brueghel


Saturday, May 14

A strong, gusting thunderstorm came rolling in this evening. I was relieved it didn't come in the middle of the night, since Grace is very frightened of them, and it often means us getting up with her if the booms get too loud. But tonight, she came in while I was reading and she began to imagine what thunder could be. Here are a few, off the top of her head:

• a light cloud and a dark cloud bumped and now they're growling at each other

• angels are bowling

• a dinosaur is breaking out of its huge shell

• a giant stomping

• a volcano exploding

• the howl of a howler monkey with lightning stripes (I played a tape of real howlers a month ago.)


Sunday, May 15

We went outside after dinner to play a game of tag. It's not something we usually do, but I had it in my mind to do for a while, so I pretty much made us all go out. It was a simple game of running back and forth between bases while the "it" tried to tage the runners.

What fun! We were all laughing -- between breaths -- and I loved to see the way rules began to get bent and mutated by her older brothers. It's hard to find something we can do with kids that range from 5 to 19, but for a few minutes, this was one.

Oh, and I'd recommend NOT using a wooden base while running barefoot!


Friday, May 20

It has been quite some time since Grace and I got out the watercolors. It's been even longer since I did a professional watercolor. I was shocked to find some of my paints have dried up just from loneliness.
Today, I thought Grace would pick a bluejay to paint. She's been telling me about this picture she had found of one and how much she had wanted to try drawing it. We added the loose "tree-ish" background, and she put her own idea of a nest in the branches.
We "masked" out the white patches on the jay, and in the end when we peeled it up, she was so impressed. It is pretty cool, even for a veteran watercolorist like me.
So this is her painting, done with very close instruction by me, step-by-step.

Grace gave my wife a drawing she had made. In it, Alison was pointing to something. "Why am I pointing in this picture?" she asked Grace. Her reply: "Because I can draw that."


Monday, May 23

We set out today to look for words on signs. I had a half-formed idea that if we took pictures with the digital camera, we could make out own sign back in the house. So we wandered through the town. We found plenty of signs: road signs, park signs, license plates. Grace took the ones she was tall enough for.
While she was at afternoon pre-school, I printed out the words in different colors so she would be able to tell the kinds of words apart. After she got back, we constructed some strange sentences to put on signs. She loved it. Even while I'm setting this on the page, she's over at the table, making more sentences.

So here are our favorite ones. I went back in and took pieces of the sign pictures and put them together to make our crazy signs.

And if you think this is strange, can someone explain why there was a partly-eaten lizard on the sidewalk of our Pennsylvania town?

So, here are the other sentences we made up:

• CAUTION: DO NO PUSH BEAVER ON THE BLACKBERRY

• BEARS WILL BE HERE ONLY IN SUMMER

• DO NOT THINK ABOUT BEARS AFTER THIS SUMMER

• PARK YOUR ROAD ON THE WAY TO THE FAMILY DOG

• CAUTION: YOUR DOG IS MAD ABOUT THIS BEAR

• ONE MAD BLACKBERRY CLOSED WHERE SUMMER FISH AR ONLY INSIDE POND!

(That last one needs explanation: Grace did it completely by herself and when she couldn't find an "are", she simply overlapped the end part of "around". Creative!)


Friday, May 27

We went for a hike today. The end of school is near, and I was feeling in a summer mood, so we went off to a nearby State Park and walked in the cool shadow of the woods. The trail took us past a stream with frigid water (which I had to help Grace to touch), a patch of stagnant water swimming with frogs and their egg bundles, and many little footbridges.
The bridges reminded me of The Three Billy Goats Gruff tale, so I told it to her, making the sound of the goats tromping over the bridge, then showing how the troll leaped up onto the bridge. She wanted to act it out. So first I was the troll and she played the three goats. Then we reversed the roles. We both really got into the roles. I was glad there weren't others around.
We didn't have enough time to leisurely enjoy the woods. We'll have to go back soon.


Well, that's the end of our journey -- at least the journal of our journey. I have posted one other fun thing we did as a part of our Adventures in Graceland. For other ideas of creative family activities, feel free to check out my essays. Thanks for coming along on our trip of discovery!

all material ©2005 Bruce Van Patter

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