Hobbit Homeschool

We've just begun The Hobbit, and I'm trying to employ some of the kinds of living book activities that we've enjoyed in the past: recipes, crafts, research, and field trips, etc. We started creating our own Hobbit books to fill in as we read; and we enjoyed a Hobbit-style afternoon tea.

Hobbit Tea:  Our little tea party was full of seed cakes, pork pies, and ale - served on bright colored dishes and a green tablecloth. We found hobbit-inspired recipes that we followed loosely:

An unexpected tea

Seed cakes, pork pies, and blackberry tarts

Root beer for our ale

Hobbit Book: We like the Waldorf practice of making books to illustrate what you have learned, and kept using the idea even after we moved away from Waldorf curricula. For our Hobbit books, we stapled together 12 pages of construction paper, leaving us 1-2 pages per chapter (and we decided we can unstaple and add more if needed).

Each child spent plenty of time making their books cozy-looking and just the way they wanted. They decided not to glue their Bilbo's behind the door, as we originally planned, but keep him loose so that he can walk throughout the book. We'll try to illustrate characters, copy quotes, and answer discussion questions in the book as we go. For this first chapter, we focused on the characters.

We found this cool interactive map of Bilbo's journey, printed it and glued it on the back cover for reference.

the beginnings of a Hobbit book: Bilbo and his Hobbit house

Gandalf and the bearded dwarves

Gandalf and the bearded dwarves
Who knows if I'll get around to sharing the rest of our Hobbit adventures, but I'm keeping my Ideas for Living Book Activities in mind: we'll try some dragon crafts, and I'm eye-ing Hobbit legos for Christmas. We have a hike planned later this month, and I think that will be a nice venue for field-trip reading. I'm also reading the Cliff's notes, so we don't miss out on important themes, and we'll watch the movies when we're all done. Anyway, we're off to a promising start!

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Bouncy Bunny Pattern Give-Away!

I'm excited to announce that  many of my old patterns will be coming back to my shop, and some new ones, too! I'll be adding a few each week this summer, including some old favorites like Smile Crocodile and George and the Dragon Flip Doll, as well as some new loves like the Bright Ideas Computer and Bird on My Shoulder. I'll also have 7 limited time give-aways this summer starting today! As always, the best way to find out about those is to subscribe to this blog by email or whatever feed reader you use. (I don't do mass emails, and I don't blog that much - so that's the best I can do!)

So what's up first? This week Smile Crocodile is returning to the shop with new friends Elephant Parade and Cat and Fish Turnover. Plus, Bouncy Bunny has been added to the shop, but you can get her free this week (June 1-7, 2017) RIGHT HERE. These bunnies are some of my kids' favorites because they are so fun to bounce. Their legs stretch out long when they jump, and those haunches are easier to make than they look!

Bouncy Bunny has long floppy legs, filled with pellets
and an elastic string to help her bounce.

Elephant Parade is a set of 6 Elephants that hook together to form a parade!
Play barrel of elephants, form a circle or use them as a bunting!

This pattern comes in two sizes, and is super fun in lots of colors.

Cat and Fish Turnover is an optical illusion in a plush.
A goldfish on one side, and a pretty kitty on the other. 

The great news is that the regular patterns will be only $5 and flip dolls will be $7 in the shop, so stay tuned!


Orthodox Liturgy Quiet Books

Ancient Faith is still stocking the Liturgy play mats and the printable pattern, but I also made 7 Quiet Books with some of the same elements for my Etsy shop. They don't have quite as many features as the play mat, but the do include real coins, jingle bells, and sticks dipped in real beeswax for the candles. They are for sale on Etsy.

Now that these are all finished, I'm packing up my sewing machine for awhile to focus on painting! I have a solo exhibit this fall - so many of my paintings have been removed from Etsy to be included in the show along with a whole lot of new work. So, expect to see about 30 new paintings in the shop in November!

Orthodox Liturgy Quiet Books

Ring the bell, drop in pennies in the money box.

"Light" a candle and place flowers by the icons.

Swing the censer, peek in the royal doors...

...to see the Bread and Wine.

Read the Gospel book!


Orthodox Liturgy Play Mat Pattern

I haven't been doing much pattern design in recent years, but our newest little one inspired a little project this past Lent. The Orthodox Liturgy Play Mat is kind of like a quiet book for use at home or church. It is available to purchase through Ancient Faith. (If you're new to my blog, you can find my other sewing patterns here, and my Orthodox educational printables here.)

The Liturgy Play Mat includes 12 ways kids can touch and participate in the Liturgy. Children can ring the church bell, feel the sun, and find a bunny hiding in the grass on their way to church. Inside they can drop coins in the money box, light candles, and place flowers by the icons. An angel flies above as we read the Gospel. Help the little girl bow her head as Father censes the church. Open the royal doors to see the Holy Gifts, and receive antidoron from the bowl. Use this play mat to teach children at home about what they’ll see at church, or tuck it in your bag to occupy little ones during long services. Either way, this is a fun way to introduce children to the real ways we participate at church.

The pictures below are from the initial mat made for my daughter, but the pattern and mats for sale on Ancient Faith have been cleaned up a bit. :)


Painting Sale - 40% off!

I'm cleaning house and saving money for a summer workshop. On Etsy, use the coupon code: WORKSHOP to get 40% off until Easter. Thanks for your support!



Hi friends! Hope you're doing well during this beautiful season.
I've put some of my paintings on Etsy. You can also purchase prints here.


Goodnight Jesus!

pom pom balls in a can

I've returned to the how-do-I-manage-my-crazy-toddler-in-church?! stage of life. I haven't been here for awhile, and, although I think I'm more patient this time around, I had forgotten how hard 18 months old can be. I hold her while we sing and carry her around to see the icons, and when she gets restless I keep her quiet with this little can of pom poms. She's really into books lately, so recently I tucked some of her favorites in my bag, ...but later, when she wouldn't stop moooooing, I regretted bringing Mr. Brown Can Moo to liturgy.

So, I was super-excited to see the new Orthodox board book from AFP, Goodnight Jesus, and really grateful to receive a copy to review. Of course, AFP has tons of great kids books, and we usually bring a couple to church for the big kids - but there aren't a lot of options for this little age.* Like Mr. Brown, the best books for kids at this age are repetitive with a nice cadence, and give the little ones a way to respond. While Mr. Brown's sound effects weren't so appropriate for liturgy, the kissing encouraged by Goodnight Jesus will fit right in.

She snuggled in to read the book with me right away, immediately pointing and saying, "Zeezus!"in her sweet baby way. The pages are nice and sturdy, and I think that makes turning them more fun for littles. The little poem leads you through a list of people to kiss goodnight, starting with Christ and Mary, then saints from the Bible like John the Baptist and the myrrh-bearing women. We also kiss a gospel book and cross, then all the members of our family and a picture of those far away.

This is my first Orthodox-baby, and I've enjoyed seeing how quickly she learned to kiss the icons. She still kisses them more consistently than she kisses me! This book nicely ties together our love for Christ, with our love for the saints, the scriptures, our family, pets and dolls. The act of kissing is such a simple way to teach our children about love and tenderness and reverence, and the participatory nature of our faith. 

My big kids enjoyed the book, too! The oldest especially loved the picture of Christ just about to break open the gates of Hades; and the other laughed and laughed at the fish blowing a kiss. We all love the illustrations - which are bright and beautifully done. So it seems there is something in it for everyone, and I think we'll all enjoy taking turns to read it to baby.

The book is uniquely Orthodox because, of course, we like to kiss both people and things (like icons and the Gospel book). Still, its also simple enough that I think Christians of other traditions who can appreciate kissing will enjoy it, too. I'm thrilled to have such nice books for our kids! Be sure to check it out at Ancient Faith Publishing.

*We also love What Do You See at Liturgy, the only other Orthodox board book I've seen, and perfect for toddlers, too!
**Cross-posted from Many Mercies



It has been a while since I have posted anything. It seems now that we're deep into homeschooling, I have less time for blogging (or craft tutorials). Here's a quick peek at our school year so far!

First day of school, jumping right in!

Learning about mosaics via bean art.

Field trips to see local art shows at the Ned. 

And bigger field trips to see the Matisse retrospective at OKMOA!

Enjoying Dale Chihuly at OKMOA, too. :)

Blessing of the students for the new year at St. Nicholas Orthodox Church.

Winning at the State Fair for bean art!

And blue ribbons for blue haired mermaids! Nothing like external validation!

Diagramming sentences with the Sentence Family.
(Seriously, the girls beg to do this grammar program.)

Finishing our read aloud, The Cricket in Time Square, with cricket crafts.
We made paper cricket cages and pipe cleaner crickets. We didn't have a pattern for either, so they're a little messy.  

More trips to the Ned!

Minecraft Legos bought with State Fair winnings!
Simple cubby dividers to cut out distractions during quiet work time. I can't find the link where I originally found this idea, but its pretty simple. I bought one display board, and cut it in half horizontally to make two cubbies. We're seeing what works for now, and adding as we go. Right now, each girl has a handwriting chart, and a math chart (relevant to her grade). They also have little flags attached with brads which they raise to quietly ask for help or let me know they're finished. Maybe eventually we'll paint?
We love the dividers, although distractions continue.

That's all for now. How's your school year going?