My sister is a public school teacher and occasionally we work together to create something for her classroom. Last winter she asked me to put together a snowflake themed writing template for a fun snowman activity. Her students loved it! Yours will too!
The idea is this. Each student gets a snowman template (free printable here) and a LOST! piece of snowflake paper (free printable here). Discuss with your students that every snowflake and snowman looks different. I told my kiddos that God made snowflakes unique — just like He made each person completely amazing and special. Give them some construction paper to create accessories for their snowman/woman. Discuss what kinds of details their snowman/woman might have. Hats (what kind–knit, baseball cap, top hat..), stick arms, gloves or mittens, a scarf, face details, buttons…the possibilities are endless! Then, let them create!
When their snowman has come to life, it’s time to describe it! Each student writes 4 (or more depending on ability) details about their snowman. Feel free to give them starting ideas “My snowman is wearing…” or “My snowman has…” Then, the snowmen and descriptions go up on the wall for others to figure out who’s goes with which description. Yes, someone in our house thought it was very important to have a sun shining down on the snowmen.
I recently traveled to Chicago to enhance my copiousness. Yes, that was a stated purpose of the training I received there. To grow my mind and experience an abundance of historical thinking. I love the saying “If you are the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.”, and try to model my relationships after that premise. I’m happiest when surrounded by those who enrich my thoughts and encourage me to develop big ideas. Never was this more true than during my time at CC’s Practicum Speaker Trainer Training. That’s training for those who will be training practicum speakers. A room full of CC folks with a passion for classical education, equipping others and public speaking. It was like returning to the mother ship. These were my people all the way down to our very core.
Intentionally, I scheduled my homeward flight for late in the evening, so I could traipse around Chicago for a day. My primary goal was to see The Art Institute of Chicago’s Impressionism wing. Specifically their room full of Monet. It just so happened my trip coincided with Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the dyeing of the river green. Not a deep natural forest green, but a bright psychedelic emerald. The garish color was mimicked all around me in thousands of people enjoying the celebratory mood of the day. They started partying around noon by 5pm had reached a fever pitch even my Uber driver was anxious to escape as he happily left the city to deposit my un-drunk self at the airport. Apparently I was the only sober fare he had all day.
I’d rambled around the museum for almost two hours enjoying Greek, Roman, Modern and Ancient Indian art, but longing for Impressionists when I caught a glimpse out of the corner of my eye. Just the very edge of a painting hugging a corner two rooms away. I knew instantly it was Monet and proceeded to avoid group tours and step around slow-moving elderly in my haste to see the full painting.
As I stepped into the room, I was overcome with awe. A dozen masterpieces by the great French impressionist encircled me. There to be savored. As I moved around the perimeter, I looked at each painting twice. Once as close as I could muster (without a docent scolding me anyway) to see the smallest detail, then a few steps back to observe the painting in toto. As I repeated this process, my awe gave way to an emotion not easily described, but one which created in my soul a desire to sit and weep.
I am not a crier. Not at movies, Mother’s Day, loss, happiness, not for much of anything do I shed tears. As such, this overwhelming flood of sentiment disquieted me enough that I found a nearby bench and sat struggling to compose myself while gazing at Monet’s Water Lilies.
I lost my battle to hold back tears as I identified the root of my emotion. My eyes were suddenly opened to a little of God’s perspective. As I muddle through life, moving from the mundane of laundry, to the routine of homeschooling, groceries and dishes, I tend to become tunnel visioned. My world seems incredibly small most of the time. I’m just trying to get through the next task, whatever is the most pressing concern or need of those around me. Often, I can’t think past Tuesday to make plans for Friday. As my focus narrows, life becomes a Monet up close. It feels pointless, just a swirl of nothing layered over more meaningless smudges. Life going around again and again in a jumble of details, relationships and tasks, with no value, no broader purpose.
This is where I really lost it and became supremely grateful nobody from training was able to trek to the city with me. Although we get lost in the minutiae of daily life, that is not God’s perspective. In the midst of seeming chaos, of colors that appear misplaced, relationships that look a mess, unrest and disquiet in our souls, He sees the completed master work. Not a brush stroke is wasted or errant. Our lives are His to develop through dusk and light, vibrant color and shadow. Our Lord builds layers that bring out the perfect balanced harmony of the work He is faithful to complete in us. In this life, we see a smidge of nothingness, the tiniest sliver of the finished masterpiece. As the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 13:12 “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.“
As I managed to (finally) get a grip and head out of the room, I glanced back at the painting that first caught my attention and had another realization. If our lives encompass God’s creative genius, shouldn’t they shout His unmistakable composition in the same way Monet’s color and form drew me in from two rooms away? As Christians, our lives should be a demonstration of who the Lord is. His truth, grace, love, patience and gentleness should flow from the canvas of our soul. The mural of our being should be a reflection of The Great Artist who created us. Imperfect and flawed, we are a fallen jumble of brushstrokes when viewed up close, but a stunning expression of the Master’s hand with the proper perspective. His. Monet gave me a glimpse of that viewpoint, and I am eternally thankful.
“I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”
― Isaac Newton
There is truth and beauty surrounding us in nature if we only take the time to observe it. The pace of life often leaves us in a whirlwind of schedules, appointments, errands and meetings, leaving little room for scrutiny and delight of the magnificent world encircling us. Continue reading →
I consider myself decidedly unartistic. I’m not sure that’s even a word. Spell check is giving me the squiggly red line. However various online dictionary resources tell me it’s an adjective meaning lacking artistic talent. So, I’m going with it. My art deficient self stumbled upon a YouTube channel that I absolutely love. It’s called Art for Kids Hub and each video gives step-by-step instructions for simple drawings you can do with your kids. Continue reading →
Spring came early in the Pacific Northwest this year. The flowering cherry trees were all confused by the unseasonably warm, dry February we had and bloomed wicked early. As a bonus gift from this premature Spring, I received the blessing of seasonal allergies. It’s the first time in my life I’ve been stuffy, red-eyed and generally annoyed over the coming of Spring. Uncool. Beautiful trees are not a sufficient trade off. Continue reading →
Michelangelo spent 4 years painting an enormous masterpiece on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. My kids spent slightly shorter time on their backs drawing moderately less impressive figures during this fun art lesson.
During our six weeks of great artists this year, we studied impressionism and specifically talked about Monet. I found a fantastic tutorial on Mr. Picasso’s Art Room and used it to create masterpieces and memories.
First let me tell you that I am NOT an artsy person. I’ve told the story before of how I went into Michael’s and purchased $100s of dollars of canvases, paints, and paintbrushes thinking I would be the next Michelangelo with all those supplies. Ha! Let’s just say all that crap my art supplies have never been used. Until now. Mr. Picasso must be some kind of genius in the way “he” structures things, because even I figured out how to create art using his tutorial. Here are our finished products. We had a jolly good time and really experienced impressionism. Continue reading →