Thursday’s mean Co-op for us. After a few hours of homeschooling we head over to Killeen to spend a few more with other homeschoolers. Little Brooks loves the classes he chose for this, his last semester of being schooled at home. Each day that passes brings us closer to the end of the school year and I’m always tempted to keep him at home with me for just one more year. I think that’s been my mantra the last few years though, and I think for sure next year will be it…

Co-op is especially fun this year because I’m teaching two Spanish classes, one for middle schoolers and the other for first to third graders. The middle schoolers are a trip. They were able to choose their own Spanish names last week and they chose: Taco, Burrito, and Domingo. I still can’t say their Spanish names with a straight face. Teaching these kids makes me almost want toget my teaching certification, almost.

The younger bunch are hilarious. They are always funny, super curious, and raw energy all at once. I was super excited to bring in a small art project for them today. After a lesson and a story I taught the kids about Papel Picado, and told them they would get to create their own banners to take home with them. They each chose their favorite tissue paper colors and sat down. And then most of them lost it. Not in a dramatic way, by any means… but most of them had anxiety written all over their faces. One little boy crossed his arms and wouldn’t talk to myself or my assistant. I purposely didn’t bring in an example, so that they would focus on the process, not the end product, which would then free them up to engage themselves actively in their art project. They were so worried that their papel picado wouldn’t look right that they couldn’t even get started.

Thankfully we were able to convince them that no matter what they did their banners would be perfect… and sure enough once they allowed themselves the freedom to create something without worrying so much about expectations they were able to create some pretty cool banners. They were so proud of themselves! We gave them each several extra sheets of tissue paper to take home so that they could create a nice sized banner.

It made me feel so grateful that I listened to my grandma, who has been an early childhood educator, principle, and early childhood ed professor, when she told me to not allow Brooks to color any coloring sheets. Wasn’t I supposed to teach him to color within the lines, I thought? But she’s the expert and so I listened. And I’m grateful for that. For a little boy who believes in his ability to create art, to engage in the process, who doesn’t worry about what others may think as long as he’s satisfied with his work. He’s not scared to try for fear he’ll mess it up, because he knows it’s all part of figuring it out for himself.

I may try some papel picado with him soon. He loves cutting paper with a passion, so it’d be right up his what-I’m-passionate-about alley.

Today, however, we tried our hand at magnet marble painting. We’ve done marble paintings (you place marbles you’ve rolled in paint in a box and roll away). This was a bit different, though it followed the same idea. I took a shoe box and cut one of the long sides off. On top of that I taped the lid bottom side down. The opening on the bottom box allowed LB to place a magnet wand underneath so that he could move the magnet marbles on top. At first he was all about checking out the marbles and playing with them and the box. He was so engaged I figured we’d do art the next day, but after a while he asked for paint and got to working. He had so much fun! And curiously enough, my boy, who hates to get paint or glue on his hands, was all about picking up his own marbles, never mind the paint. This was his process:

Our day was busy, busy. Brooks made peanut butter balls for the snack jar, rode his skates outside, went to basketball practice, and put on a puppet show for me before he headed to bed. It was a full day, but a fun day. We even got to watch a replay of the Discovery Shuttle launch since we missed it this afternoon.

Life stays good, regardless of the circumstances.