The Talking Stick Blog

News, Updates, Program Recaps, and Homeschooling Information

Maker Exploratorium: Reflecting and Planning For the New Year

Maker 12-2-14

Talking Stick Learning Center's homeschool Maker Exploratorium had a wonderful end to 2014, filled with international intrigue, baking, collaborative games, and of course, art and making. We continue to enjoy our participation in the IEARN community (International Education and Resource Network).
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As part of their IEARN Global Food Challenge and in celebration of Thanksgiving week, we spent November 25th making pies. Pies are a wonderful baking experience requiring an attention to detail and just the right amount of dough manipulation. We researched the secret: cutting the fat (butter or shortening depending on allergies) into the flour to create small crumbs before rolling it just the right amount to ensure a flaky crust that was not tough. It required a lot of patience, but the results were worth it! The apple and pumpkin pies were delicious!!

Maker 11-25-14

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Our second IEARN baking project was our cookie exchange which was a great success. Each of us shared why the cookies we baked are one of our family's favorites and we shared samples with each other. We came home with delicious cookies and recipes including Molasses Cookies, Snowballs, Peanut Butter Crisscrosses, Teva's Magical Chocolate Chip Cookies, Classic Toll House Cookies, and Lemon Pressed Out Cookies.

Maker 12-9-14

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In the beginning of December, we finished making our International IEARN Holiday Exchange cards and sent them off to seven different schools in five different countries.

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“Our art work is going to be displayed in Russia! And Taiwan. And other countries!” one young person exclaimed and others nodded in amazement. This idea is very exciting. Some places so far away suddenly feel so much closer.

“We've got mail!”

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We have received two international cards so far. One from Belarus and one from Taiwan. It was so fun to get mail. We have one more letter waiting for us at Awbury  that we will open in the new year and four more expected soon. The impact of this exchange really hit home when everyone held the cards in their hands. It was wonderful to be able to read about the different countries in the words of young people their age. To receive handmade cards is such a gift.

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In between all these activities, we have continued to work on our own maker projects. Woodworking continues to be a favorite activity and a skill we can add to our ME Challenge.

Maker 12-2-142

Maker 12-2-143

Before we left for winter break we took some time to think about what direction we would like to be going in.  The New Year is a good time for reflection and new beginnings. Since our focus is on self-directed, project-based learning, the young people are responsible for choosing their own projects.  Out of a world of possibilities, how do you choose where to start?  This can be challenging at times. In an effort to help with decision making we began by questioning what matters to us. Some of the young people's answers are in italics.

What do you really want to do?  Write a novel or poetry book, do street photography, live happily,  play the guitar, dance, draw, cook,  practice wood burning, play the piano, the violin, the guitar, dance, snow board, get 1000 subscribers on You Tube, hang out outside, bake, plan events, construction, comics, make games.

What do you care about?  My family, world peace, getting a pet bird, animal safety and pets, homelessness, human rights, art, friends, baseball, fracking, public broadcasting, family, Talking Stick's future, the well being of humanity.

What have you always wanted to try or do? Become a stewardess, accomplish a  back handspring, become a therapist, own horses, melt metal, horseback ride, make and design clothing, start a craft fair for Talking Stick, sell crafts and baked goods, play hockey, act in a play, make jewelry, build things with wood, ski, make a movie, make duct tape clothing, write a novel, make a twenty layer cake, make a scientific breakthrough in molecular biology, experimental or theoretical physics, or genetics.

What have you always wondered about?  Anti-gravity and the mystery behind robotics, how bones grow and repair,  how color works, how diseases work, how single cell organisms live, what colors do dogs see? eating in anti-gravity, technology behind cell phones, where the first drop of water came from, astronomy, what do babies think before they speak,  theories of evolution, how frogs live at the bottom of the pond in freezing water.

What are you willing to work hard for? Learning about robotics, horseback riding, gymnastics, psychology, living, dancing, making the planet healthier, peace, sports, music, art, writing, animals, ending homelessness, writing, baseball, animals, making or doing something for others.

We will mull over our answers during our winter break and continue to fine tune our intentions in the new year. We wish you a Happy New Year filled with fun, friends and making.