Saturday, September 30, 2023

Art History - Louise Bourgeois

In my Art History 2023-2024 blog post, I decided October would be Louise Bourgeois. Here are some resources and my planning notes:

Louise Bourgeois
1911 - 2010


art examples from Tate Kids
Cell (Eyes and Mirrors), 1989–93
Spider, 1994
Man, Keys, Phone, Clock, 1994

lesson plan ideas from Tate Kids
- Cell Design
- Spider Poem

Spiders Spin Webs

by Yvonne Winer

lesson plan ideas from Tate
- Opposing Forces
- Journeying
- Your Bedroom as a Cell
- Exquisite Corpse with Objects
- Celebrating Friendships
- Words and Phrases

art examples from The Studio, June 2018
Maman, 1999
Spiral Time, 2009
Ode à la Bièvre, 2017

lesson plan ideas from The Studio, June 2018
- Diary Entry, week 1, p.7
- Family Member Animal Sculpture, week 2, p.5
- Geography Assignment, week 3, p.1
- Spiral Art, week 3, p.6
- Larger Than Life Sculpture, week 4, p.1
- Fabric Scrap Collage, week 4, p.3

lesson plan ideas from The Studio, October 2023
- Monumental Artwork, p.21
- Sculpture Model, p.22
- Paper or Fabric Journal, p.23
- Childhood Memories, p.24
- Expressive Feelings, p.25
- Geometric Abstraction, p.26
- Geography, p.27

Encyclopedia of Artists

volume 1, pp.56-57
Nature Study: Eyes, 1984

YouTube video recommended by Lotus
This video documents the installation of Louise Bourgeois' giant spider sculpture in the garden of Fondation Beyeler in Riehen (Basel, Switzerland). The video shows how the legs of the spider are assembled, and how the different parts of the sculpture -- legs, body, eggs, head -- are put together and how the sculpture is erected.

Inspired by the "family of repairers" quote, I could teach the children how to patch their clothes! I just attended a workshop on this -- "Three Saucy Mends to Enhance Anything" with Kate Sekules -- a few days ago during the Making Zen online retreat.

We could also do some weaving (with the cordage we made?) and there was a workshop about that too! "A Practice Project Wall Good Enough to Display" with Ruth Woods.

The chapter book read aloud recommended by Lotus for this month is Charlotte's Web by E.B. White. Great idea! When we finish it, I can also introduce the Charlotte's Web cursive workbook for the older children.

teacher background information:

I decided to join Lotus Stewart's full Art History Kids website (The Studio) and get access to her past lesson plans. I think it will really help me this year to have so much already done for me. There are old lesson plans for Louise in the Archives (Jun 2018) and the new plans are out right NOW (Oct 2023)!


week of Oct 2:

week of Oct 9:

    Sat - Opposing Forces activity from Tate

    read quote #8, look at pictures of Maman, what is this piece of art saying about life?

    create artwork that explores opposites - good vs evil (Smeagol's transformation into Golem), light vs dark (today's annular eclipse), etc.


    by Janik Coat

    take a class field trip to SIU Saluki Stadium to view the eclipse (maximum eclipse at 11:59 am)

week of Oct 16:

    Thu - Journeying activity from Tate (colored pencil drawing)

    The Elephant from Baghdad

    by Mary Tavener Holmes

    Sat - the plan was to give them a choice between two art options:
    read quote #5, look at pictures of Ode à la Bièvre, do "Childhood Memories" activity from The Studio, October 2023, p.24

    read quote #7, do "Family Member Animal Sculpture" activity from The Studio, June 2018, week 2, p.5

    As it turned out, everyone wanted to do the Family Member Animal Sculpture activity. I think they don't have enough Art time with sculpture materials (I gave them the choice between plasticine and modeling beeswax). So we sat and chatted while they modeled, did three Mad Libs, and played Poetry for Neandertals.

    If I had premade some small books with drawing paper I do think they would have been more open to the Childhood Memories activity. The bookmaking seemed intimidating to them. I'm thinking three pages of drawing paper, folded in half, with a simple sewn spine.

week of Oct 23:

    Mon - Body Hybrids activity from Tate, inspired by
    Femme Maison series (1946–47)
    Tree with Shoes (1998)

    Sat - Celebrating Friendships activity from Tate, inspired by
    10 am Is When You Come To Me (2006)

      print multiple copies of the image so that each child can have a copy and can examine it closely

      point out that this artwork was done on an unusual kind of paper; show an example of musical score paper and see if students can identify it

      why might she choose this kind of paper as the background? one child said that music can be a way of showing love; another possibility is that their friendship could be like a dance

      my personal idea is based on the fact that the word tempo (which in music refers to speed) means "time" in Italian, so I think it's referring back to the title and "10 am"

      this activity was a HUGE hit! pencils, drawing paper, friends, skin tone crayons

    work in teams to build and decorate Pumpkin Racers for today's Pumpkin Race

week of Oct 30:
I so wanted to have us do something with spiders on Halloween! But the younger group is currently doing the Quality of Numbers block, and so it made the most sense for us to wait and do Spiders for the number 8.

week of Nov 6:

    Tue - read


    write a Spider Poem (Tate Kids)

    make a spider sculpture out of craft wire

Wed - watch video of the assembly of Maman in Basel, Switzerland

Favorite Quotes

"Tell your own story and you will be interesting" - Tate Kids website
(also The Studio June 2018 plans, week 4, p.6)

"My complaint about language is that it is perfect, indispensable, but not enough. It doesn’t say everything." - Craig Starr Gallery article

"I need to make things. The physical interaction with the medium has a curative effect. I need the physical acting out. I need to have these objects exist in relation to my body." - Tate website

"The written, the spoken (into a tape recorder), and my drawing diary, which is the most important. Having these diaries means that I keep my house in order." - Tate website

“My childhood has never lost its magic, it has never lost its mystery, and it has never lost its drama. All my work of the last fifty years, all my subjects, have found their inspiration in my childhood.” - The Studio June 2018 plans, week 1, p.1

"I came from a family of repairers. The spider is a repairer. If you bash into the web of a spider, she doesn’t get mad. She weaves and repairs it." - The Studio June 2018 plans, week 2, p.3

"In my sculpture, it’s not an image I am seeking, it’s not an idea. My goal is to re-live a past emotion." - The Studio June 2018 plans, week 2, p.3

"Art is not about art. Art is about life, and that sums it up." - The Studio October 2023 plans, p.40

This post contains affiliate links to materials I truly use for homeschooling. Qualifying purchases provide me with revenue. Thank you for your support!

Friday, September 29, 2023

List of Prairie Demonstration Gardens

We have a really big yard and I'm always so tempted to use it for BIG school projects. The last time we were studying Botany, in Spring 2021, I was really excited about converting part of the yard into tallgrass prairie. I even created a whole tallgrass prairie page on my website. Now I'm thinking about doing a floral clock garden or large sundial project. It's so hard to decide!

A Backyard Prairie: The Hidden Beauty of Tallgrass and Wildflowers

by Fred Delcomyn and James L. Ellis

Sundials: Their Theory and Construction

by Albert Waugh

While I'm pondering all of this, I want to make a list of prairie demonstration gardens in our area. I keep finding them all over the place!

Illinois Natural History Survey: Tallgrass Prairie

And a wonderful vintage resource:
Erigenia: Journal of the Southern Illinois Native Plant Society, issue no 4, August 1984 (PDF)
"The Meaning, Experience, and Dimensions of Prairie," pp.5-14 and
"The Prairies of Southern Illinois," pp.15-30, both by Dr. John Voigt

Today Zac and a friend and I went to check out the brand new visitor center for Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge, and when we walked the nearby trail there was the biggest planting of prairie grasses I've seen so far! It was so unexpected and we wandered around in it for quite a while. The trail also took us down to the lake, of course, which the boys loved.

If there are so many demonstration gardens around, maybe I don't need to plant one and I can focus on building a sundial in the field. This would work out really well as the older group is studying calendars & clocks in October.

    Nearby Bits of Prairie

    Carbondale IL
    - Chautauqua Bottoms Nature Preserve
    - Flaglands Demonstration Prairie
    - Oakland Nature Preserve

    Carterville IL
    - Harrison-Bruce Historical Village

    DeSoto IL
    - Faulkner-Franke Pioneer Railroad Prairie

    Makanda IL
    - Little Grassy Fish Hatchery

    Marion IL
    - Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge

    Murphysboro IL
    - General John A. Logan Museum

    Benton MO
    - Sand Prairie Conservation Area

We also visited Bison Bluff Farm in Cobden IL during the Fall Farm Crawl, which is a wonderful experience if you're trying to envision the prairie.

This post contains affiliate links to materials I truly use for homeschooling. Qualifying purchases provide me with revenue. Thank you for your support!

Arabic Numerals & Arabic Words

I had so much fun looking up Quechua (Inca) and Nahuatl (Aztecan) words that are still used in the English language today, and I thought it would be interesting to do the same for Arabic words, given that I'm currently researching medieval Islam and its contributions to... oh... everything.

Arabic numerals, by the way, turn out to actually be from India and are now more correctly referred to as Hindu-Arabic numerals! According to, "They originated in India in the 6th or 7th century and were introduced to Europe through the writings of Middle Eastern mathematicians, especially al-Khwarizmi and al-Kindi, about the 12th century."

And zero, of course, has its own incredibly interesting history.

In the BBC article below, Hannah Fry quotes math writer Alex Bellos as saying, “The Renaissance was really sparked by the arrival of the Arabic number system, containing zero. And when that happened, the black and white world of arithmetic suddenly became glorious and technicolour.”

We couldn’t live without ‘zero’ – but we once had to - December 6, 2016

(Next month, by the way, the younger children in our homeschool co-op will do the classic Waldorf Quality of Numbers block where they learn the Hindu-Arabic and Roman numerals for quantities 1 to 12. The older students will have their own Math topic -- learning the history of how calendars and clocks came to be -- and we will do some really fun hands-on projects!)

The enormity of the influence of a civilization on us can partly be measured by how many words from that language have been incorporated into English. Let's see what etymonline has to say about English words that come from Arabic roots (often passing through intermediary languages in the process).

506 entries!!!

Naturally zero is one of them. Here are some more of my favorites:

I think all of these entries are very interesting reading -- I learned a lot of new words -- but I was particularly surprised by all the connections between Arabic and Hebrew. They are both Semitic languages! I never knew that!

If you're interested in more about the Quality of Numbers block, here are my notes from 2016, 2019, and 2021. I've also written an online course. Enjoy!

This post contains affiliate links to materials I truly use for homeschooling. Qualifying purchases provide me with revenue. Thank you for your support!