Thursday, January 15, 2015

Mittens for Koalas, a Change of Plan

Once we signed up on the IFAW website as mitten makers for the Koalas who have been injured in the bushfires, I received notice that the call for mittens was so successful that they have way more than enough.

And postage to Australia from the U. S. is so expensive, they are encouraging anyone outside of Australia to donate money instead.

Our homeschool group met today, and although some of the parents had ideas for other service projects, the kids didn't express enthusiasm. So, for now, I'm leaving it as it is.

I want whatever Sean does as a service project to be something he is passionate about. I'm content to wait.

Where to put all of that Montessori stuff

I've hemmed and hawed over what to do about the homeschool materials situation. I really don't have that many Montessori materials, but I do have a lot of homeschool stuff. And maybe I have more materials than I realize, but I didn't want the materials to take over my house.

We don't have any extra rooms here, and our most comfortable space to work is the living room. So I've had a small shelf with materials and books for Sean, and another one with extra albums and supplies for later, and a couple of those large plastic bins with the rest.

Those bins house all of the things we aren't currently using, but probably will at some point. I have my laminator and my paper cutter in there. I also have some extra books and paper, and some composition books, which we use for anything that requires paper. I learned quickly that I couldn't stand loose papers and the mess of them. The only loose papers we have are printed work plans, which he dates, and fills in with the specific work he is doing. He punches holes in those and puts them into a notebook.

At first those bins were upstairs, in our office, but it was such a pain to keep going back up to retrieve something that I decided to just move them downstairs and stack them beside our small shelf.

That shelf is a cube shelf with 9 cubbies. It's nice. On the top I have the geometry cabinet, a globe and a vase with a stem and flowers made from colorful cloth. I had assigned a subject for each cubbie, and one for pens, markers, pencils and pencil sharpener. But this cubbie shelf just wasn't enough.

I found myself ready to present something, or Sean asking for something, and the materials were not readily available. I had to dig through the bins to try to find it. Not ideal. I also had extra materials on another shelf, which holds some books and some DVDs. All of that stuff was willy-nilly because there wasn't enough space to organize it by subject. So frustrating.

Last week I went to Target and bought a couple of magazine boxes, and baskets in a variety of sizes, thinking that would solve my problem. It didn't. There wasn't enough room for the baskets.

As I said, I didn't want this stuff to take over the living room. I didn't want the school things to be front and center when a guest walked into our home. But I just didn't see another way, so I went for it.

I bought three shelf units at IKEA. I got the Besta shelves, and I'm happy with them. They look nice, they match the color of our cubbie shelf, and they were pretty easy to put together. Plus the shelves are adjustable. These provide us with lots of shelf space. I didn't use all of the shelves, because some of our books and materials are tall. We now have 10 shelves, plus the cube shelf with 9 spaces.

I've put some things out, and I want to keep it all easy to access for Sean and myself. I'm still deciding on the arrangement of materials.

And as much as I would love to get rid of the bins, those are still full. Ugh.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Mittens for Koalas

I was browsing Facebook today and saw a Washington Post story about Koalas that have been injured in bush fires in Australia.

The images were heart wrenching.

I showed the story to Sean, and asked if he thought it would be a good idea to help. It's pretty easy, all we need to do is make some little mittens for them. I explained that it is their paws that are burned badly, and they have to keep healing salve on them, and keep them covered with cotton mittens. These are tree-dwelling, tree-hugging animals, so having healthy paws is essential to their lives.
He wanted help, so I suggested that I could put a call out to our little homeschool group that meets at our house on Thursdays for free-play time.

I emailed the group to see if any of those moms might have a sewing machine, because mine isn't in working order, and explained the idea. I asked the moms to talk to their children to be sure they would want to participate. (None of them use Montessori, but they are pretty Montessori inclined and just don't realize it ;-))

I got a quick response from a mom who does have a sewing machine, and can bring it to our next play day. I'm looking around for old T-shirts and old sheets, which the IFAW site says are perfect for this project. The material must be 100 precent cotton. I can only imagine the pain the poor animals are experiencing.

The mittens will be distributed by IFAW to wildlife caregivers, and vets who treat the burned Koalas.

I've been looking for a service project that would resonate with Sean, and this seems to be the one. I think I will print out color photos from the story to have on display as they work, so they are focused on why their work is so important.

My hope is that this will be a child-led project with minimal adult interference. They are all old enough to use scissors, and a sewing machine.

I'll post more on this subject next week, after we meet on Thursday. In the meantime, if you have a group, or are part of a Montessori school setting, we hope you will consider this as a project. If you cannot commit to the sewing, raising money to donate would be a good idea as well.