Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Six Awesome Ideas,For the Fun of It!

Wandering around Pinterest helps me find resources that peak my curiosity and makes me want my niece and nephew to hang out again! Enjoy the few I found, and when you have a chance to share with me your own unique events with your children, be sure to write to loribender@selfdesign.org so that we can add them here :) Otherwise,  wherever you are in the world, and no matter what weather you may be having, enjoy your August!

Lori Bender
Global Neighborhood Steward

1. Art treasure from all those large pieces they create :)

2. Electric Play Dough
Electric Dough - Make Learning Hands On Fun with Electric Play Dough 

3. Photography Tricks for taking pictures of your small pets
pet photography - guinea pig with camera 

4. Sticky Ice
Sticky Ice 
5 Popsicle Stick Photo Puzzles

6. Winter Snow Jewels (I am already into winter.. tired of the sun!)
Make snow jewels for some super Winter fun!  Roll them, throw them, have a snowy treasure hunt!

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Pets and the Human Connection

I am a person who loves animals and who enjoys the interactions my kids have had with pets throughout the course of their lives. They are older now and still talk about past experiences with guinea pigs, hamsters and rabbits. Currently we care for two dogs, a cat, three crested geckos, three guinea pigs (on this particular day), and fish.

I know of a family who has a turtle. They spent a lot of time and energy to rebuild it's habitat. They talked about what turtles needed for care, and the child explained it to me with great enthusiasm. He has a stuffed turtle that he absolutely loves from the aquarium them went to a bit ago. The experiences of that field trip were energetically shared and the learning was over the top because he'd had so much fun. The best part about the field trip? He got to go with his family. He loves to experience things about animals with his family members. It meant so much more that the memory was connected to the people he knows who love him. He also loves his stuffed animals and considers them special (like his real pets), talking about how he cares for each of them. There are stuffed animals that are unique because there are only a few of them ("almost extinct because you can't get them anymore"), and then there are stuffed animals that have special needs that he has to attend to. He is deeply motivated to look after these stuffed animals, and I believe in part because mom and dad have encouraged love for his real pet/

Encouraging connection from our human spirit to animals in whatever way we can is important for us to do as parents for our kids.  We all instinctively know this. So, how do you do it at your home?  Here are few ideas just to get our brains thinking!

Picture of DIY cat tent 

DIY Homemade Dog Paw Print Ornaments 

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

created at: 12/01/2010

This is Momma who is ready to have guinea pig babies. This is my own pet and she is sharing her event with us! I will be there (Benderfamily) to chat and answer questions as it happens. :)

 Enjoy :)
Lori Bender


Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Family Hang Out and July Ideas

It was super fun to spend time this week with 30 kids in a space prepared for family tables of fun! We did all sorts of fun crafts, art and doodling, played board games, Pathfinders, and had a LAN party. All the parents came and enjoyed visiting in the same room with their kids creating community together. The original group of learners were SelfDesign Minecrafters, and in the process of them making an event plan, they wanted all of their siblings and parents to hang out together. What a testament to the love of family, the enjoyment of learning things together (and from each other) without uninvited instruction being the focus.  We willed our day into a happy number of moments visiting and hanging out. 

What do you do with your loved ones and friends to create memories like this?

A few ideas for you this July!

Homemade Silly Putty:

Homemade Silly Putty Recipe

DIY Piggy Bank:

Home School Planner Page:

Nova: Write Your Name in Runes


Wild Predator Invasion


Enjoy and let me know what you think! 

Lori Bender

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Fishing Trips and Bullheads

I know that learning is usually discussed by sharing resources, or what websites we’ve found for reference. We share contacts about home learning, unschooling, or having a specific focus on the styles of learning our children are into. 

However, I have to say that even though I attended public school and science was my favorite subject, the one thing that sprouted my attention to biology and the love of fish & animals, was my experiences in fishing with my dad. Really, the learning had nothing to do with anything academic.
I have a brother who called me the night before this past Father's Day. We spent some time chatting about the memories we had of our father, and some that I'd not shared with him before. I still remember my dad's awesome inventions and love for hunting and fishing. A few times he took us to Cameron Lake, and Macmillan Park on Vancouver Island where I grew up.
Cameron Lake, BC Canada.. A place of learning for me.

MacMillan PP Cameron Lake Vancouver Island
Can you see the frogs and minnows??

I caught bullheads (sculpins) and got hooks stuck in my finger, made ‘goo soup’ out of algae on the side of the lake, and went hunting for frogs in the small pools around the shore in by the fallen logs. 
When my dad was helping my brother with his line, I was busy dancing on the shore and imagining fairies that skipped across the lake looking for trout to ride on. I can’t remember how many times he had to tell me to ‘shush’ so I wouldn’t scare the fish away! :) And, all I can tell you is that I knew how to yell and squeal to let him know when “I caught one!!” The sculpins in the lake had the worst spines, but I remembering catching a HUGE one :) I was so proud.  I have a memory of a fish looking up at me, spines all over, and dad saying we had to put him back in the lake “‘cuz he couldn’t breathe without being in water”. That had me wishing I was a mermaid, wondering what it was like to be a fish, and thinking about how their gills worked. My best resource for fish was my father. We prepared his own trout for dinner, of course, but first I had an amazing biology lesson in aquaculture all from the best fisherman out there! Later I found old encyclopedias that had info on fish, and I read everything I could get my hands on that talked about them. I still love everything about fish. I watch them on live webcams, I enjoy reading about them online, and I still enjoying letting my mind wander on fantasy stories of fairies and mermaids. Science, relationship, language, stories, history and all sorts of subjects were in this experience!

So, who is the best resource? Someone who loves you, and something that connects you to a learning experience that you never let go of. I think we should make Fathers and Mother’s Days happen every day. Be that mentor that they don’t forget in their forties. :) They might learn about something you don't hear about until later on in their life, but that's okay, because one day it will make a memory that's far more important than academics.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Making Connections!

 For the past couple of weeks I have been knee high in preparing, and going to, a conference for un-schooling families, called "Life Is Good". Vancouver, Washington USA, was filled with amazing people who came to the conference! So many varying ways of learning were represented there.

I went with the intention of supporting my teenage daughter in visiting her friends (that she has found a kindred way of 'being' with), and to work/support SelfDesign Global and the SelfDesign Minecraft Servers as well.

This was our table. To the left is the area we made our mindmaps on!

Highlights of the conference for me: (Relationship Skills, Music, SD Minecraft)

1. To watch my daughter playing her guitar and ukulele in public (for the first time) out in the hotel foyer with Michael after dinner. (She told me later that in the middle of the night she was jamming with some new friends she made, and that they all liked her guitar, which was an heirloom from her Great Grampa Earl. She seemed thrilled!) I also watched her show Michael how to play a ukulele.. very cool process!

2. To come up to the table of our SelfDesign display and see a whole ton of children gathered around Michael (with one sitting on his lap!) while playing SD Minecraft and creating Mind Maps together. One father told me that Michael was the person with the most attention at that point in the conference.)

3. To have made two new special friends.. mom's who seemed to 'get' me. I will be keeping in close touch with them. Even at 45 years of age, it still feels good to know I have friends. :)

A Surprise of the conference for me: (Life Skills)

To find out that I was the only woman represented by a husband in a private group (for the Dad's chat) that is employed full time. I realized I was probably a minority in many ways for a lot of these families in this particular group. I also, once again, realized how wonderfully advantageous it is to work for such an awesome program like SelfDesign from home, and how fortunate a thing that is for me personally. I am truly grateful for this and don't take it lightly.

What was a challenge for me? (Life Skills)

I often flub my way through sharing "what I do" as a Learning Consultant with families, because it's vastly different for each family in how they learn and how they use my LC abilities during Skype visits. So, when I found myself not doing so well, and having people fly past our table averting their gaze when I would ask if they would like to get more information on the sign up sheet, I decided to focus on the children. What a wonderful way of really showing what we 'do' at SelfDesign.

 At one point, I had three children making mind maps with me all at the same time! Two parents were watching intently and one said "Thank you SO much. That was just wonderful." after their child finished their index card filled with their passions. We used pencil crayons, pens, and stickers stating what they loved the most. One even drew something 'beautiful' to represent how they felt about it on the card. :0) I hope they remember the experience with fondness. I know I sure will!

One cool highlight!
One father and I asked a boy exactly why he 'loved the most' the steam engine that was really BIG (in Thomas the Tank Engine). The little guy said 'because it carries really heavy loads', and with some more questions we found out that the child loved the power that the engine produced. So, he was attracted to strong things, and was interested in the engineering part of the train. This father wasn't the child's dad, he was a dad to another child who was there in the mix.Yet, the amazement on his face with his eyebrows said it all! You could see that it dawned on him, that with a few extra questions you can find out cool things about what kids are thinking! I was thrilled to see the 'catching on' of reflecting on 'why' we love the things we do. I believe what River Meyer says about reflecting is true. It gives us more insight to ourselves and how we connect with one another and the world around us. It helps us understand how we learn best, and what we are taking in. (My paraphrasing.)

The event was wonderful and I learned so many things about others and about myself. I love being an LC and I love the fact that we can connect with other home learning 'adventurers' no matter what form they come in!

Skye's daughter from SelfDesign selling her necklace pieces at the Entrepreneurial Fair! (I got an owl, and ordered a salmon pendant.)
What conferences are YOU going to visit this year?

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Humor Goes A Long Way!

Sometimes, all it takes is a funny video to start a conversation about something interesting. Like, for example,

How do animals adapt to changes in their habitat as humans become ever so increasingly a part of their world? :)

What would horses normally do when they are over heated?

There are so many things we can take from humor to ask questions that are meaningful, and to get us thinking about our ethics, and  ours and the world's needs.

Calvin: "How do they know the load limit on bridges, Dad?"

Calvin and Hobbes Math 

Personally, I like his answer. It's ingenious. It makes sense! I think it's probably something I would have made up to my kids as well. Heehee.. Thank you, Bill Watterson.

Using Lego for connecting nature to our humanity.



Enjoy helping your loved ones look up answers, create funny projects and interesting art to answer funny and interesting questions! :)
~Lori B

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

A few May Resources!

Resource for Young Ones:

This looks like so much fun! If I were little I'd be doing these thing for sure. I especially love the cornmeal lettering.

 Resource for Young Biologists:
For those who are into biology, many people are focusing on Monarch Butterfly week this month! People all over the world are trying to help the monarchs come back from a depletion in the last couple of years. The conversation on the World Wildlife Federation Canada blog is going on until the 9th of May! http://blog.wwf.ca/blog/2014/05/07/monarchs-come/

Where do monarchs come from?

 Pupae of monarch butterflies

Resource for Youth Artists:

For those artists in SD Global, I found a class on the art of Hand Lettering that might interest some of our youth! This person, Sean, is making a living as a professional Hand Lettering artist. If I had of had the money for a course like this and the ability to get working online like our kids do today, I would have had so much fun doing what I love to do!

 And Wellness Resources!
SD has a family in California who are from BC, and this home learning family has a focus on wellness with hula hooping! Take a look at the first hooping video by Shannon Loucks. She has a lot to offer and she's really easy to learn from! 


Enjoy ~ Lori B