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Jan 17

Weekly Wrap-Up

Posted on Friday, January 17, 2014


This week all of our outside activities began and vastly changed our days compared to last week.  Our learning time at home was more rushed, our afternoons busy, and this Mama was beat.

Still, we had some highlights from the week.

Sketch Tuesday

Our four-year-old joined us for Sketch Tuesday this week.  I’m hoping to keep this tradition each Tuesday, as a way to spend relaxed time together as a family after a full day out of the house on Mondays.  Also, I’ve already seen the change in my son’s fear of drawing after sketching through various assignments over the past two weeks.  Slowly, but surely, with the regular practice of drawing, he’s gaining confidence. This week’s theme was “sketch something in a bottle”.







Creative Writing

My two older girls started their writing class with author and friend, Jennifer Trafton.  This is their second year working with Jennifer for creative writing.  In their class this week they talked about the heart of a story, the important elements of a story, how to keep an idea box for stories, and then began filling up their idea box. They were overflowing with energy and imagination after class.

Jennifer offers local classes, but she’s also started online writing classes as well.

Here’s a sample piece of writing from their class last year, written by our 13-year-old:

The Shape of Me

I am a rugged silhouette
of the one whom I long
to be like.
I am a feathery column of compassion,
threatening to fall.
I am an interlaced tangle,
trying to find my way
out of the dark.
I am an eager blob,
exploring the boundaries,
trying to find
my true shape.

 A Ted Talk

We watched a Ted Talk, presented by a thirteen-year-old who calls himself a “Hackschooler”. The kids agreed with his approach to learning and it stimulated us to examine how our family is learning this year and what we want to change immediately or next Fall. But his message that our main goal in life is to “be happy” didn’t sit quite right with them.  They recognized from recent family discussions and sermons at church that our main goal is to glorify God and that can mean hardships and sacrifices.  I was glad to see that message taking root in their hearts.  As for our learning practices, there are some areas that we are happy with, and some that we’d like to tweak or overhaul altogether.


Fueled by the desire to change up our learning a bit, I downloaded a trial of Animation-ish, a program created by Peter Reynold’s company.  We tried this program last year and loved how easy it was to use, even for our  (then) seven-year-old.  This week for history our eldest is reading about an American artist from the 1800′s and instead of writing a notebooking page, she’s going to try animating what she learned instead.  I’ll post some samples next week.

Have a great weekend,

Jan 12

Weekly Wrap-up

Posted on Sunday, January 12, 2014


The Gift of Snow

We had a surprisingly slow start back to school this past week.  I usually love a soft start to school, but since joining a new homeschool co-op this year, many aspects of our day have been out of my hands.

Our first day back to our homeschool co-op  was canceled due to winter weather, along with the first day back to choir and the first day back to Boy Scouts.  From my perspective, it was a beautiful thing and gave us the chance to ease back into school and experience the relaxed learning of our old days (before getting so busy).

Sketch Tuesday

For the first time this year, we participated in Sketch Tuesday together (the assignment was to draw hot cocoa or tea, we added in the cookies):






LEGO School

My eight-year-old son jumped into Lego-themed Language Arts Worksheets. He liked them as much as the Lego Writing Prompts from last semester.


 After he designed the Alien Minifig, he had to write ten adjectives to describe the creature.  I pulled out a handy source for interesting word choices and this is what he came up with (remember, he’s an eight-year old boy, what did I expect?)

My alien is(has):

  • gross

  • bloody

  • giant

  • powerful

  • fast

  • clever

  • green

  • leathery skin

  • evil

  • putrefied

The next worksheet was about verbs and he had to write five things his Alien could do and then draw a picture.  This week he’s supposed to write a short story about the Minifig.

Our four-year old enjoyed Signing Time while I taught her brother math, and when we ran into a deaf gentleman working at the grocery store, she remembered a few signs from the videos.

Extra Time for our Favorite Part

Along with adding in a bit of daily math, grammar, and copywork, we enjoyed the luxury of not having a destination to rush off to after lunch and instead I read Little Women while the kids made Rainbow Loom bracelets, created with beads, and built with Legos.  They were quite spoiled this week since their Dad read an hour of the first Harry Potter every night, too.

The week was not without challenges.  And next week the hectic schedule will more than make-up for the slower start this week, but I’m still thankful for how one snow day changed the course of our week.

Apr 15

Art In Time For Summer

Posted on Sunday, April 15, 2012

I have a thing for art.

I’ve always had a thing for art, but sharing the experience with my kids through these homeschool years had increased my love exponentially.

Several days a week we find ourselves with sketchbooks and paints and sharpies during an assignment for Sketch Tuesday, an assignment from Artistic Pursuits, a project for art class in our little co-op, or just many hands sketching while I read.

This year the focus has been slightly narrowed down to drawing and watercolor skills, based on the Artistic Pursuit’s book were doing this year, and because the supplies for these mediums are so easy to grab and use. (We varied things up a bit more when we studied Van Gogh in the later winter/early spring).

A New Art Book

Recently my friend and local librarian sent me a recommendation for DK’s My Art Book: Amazing Art Projects Inspired by Masterpieces.

I’ve always enjoyed DK books and My Art Book contains all of the elements I expect to find in their books : crisp and colorful illustrations, step by step directions, and projects that look inviting and do-able.

Flipping through the pages got my hands itching to mix some paint with ashes and berries and make a cave painting.

Or work in 3d to create a sculptured African mask.

I wanted to think about portraits in a new way as I gazed at the work of Guiseppe Arcimboldo and imagined what we could do with food, some Legos, and a camera.

Along with the overly familiar VanGogh sunflowers(the image from the book cover, which incidentally, is not actually in the book) and Warhol pop art, here are the other artists in the book:

Guiseppe Arcimboldo
Katsushike Hokusai
Edgar Degas
Henri Rousseau
Wassily Kadinsky
Paul Klee
Deigo Rivera
Henry Moore
Kenojuak Ashevak

A Summer Art Plan

This is the perfect book for summer,” I thought to myself. “We can shoot for one project a week (that, of course will change, because summer never goes according to schedule) and even invite different friends over to join us.

Doing these kind of projects regularly at our house along with our daily school schedule, with four kids, including the newly curious three year old, would leave me flustered.  But after a year of trying to get the shadows and shading and realism just right, this looks like a great way to play with art this summer.

What are your favorite resources for art?



Oct 17

Artists At Work

Posted on Monday, October 17, 2011

Recently our kids had the chance to participate in a community project with the city’s art museum.  We spent two weeks exploring our heritage and then they chose stories and traditions from our family background,  then they picked their mediums(each chose a completely different medium) and created their artwork.  For one month their artwork hangs around the corner from Renaissance master works and one level above an Ancient Egyptian Mummy.  What a privilege! And I hope it leaves a lasting impression.

This year we’ve included in our art studies the regular practice of Sketch Tuesday.  If you haven’t heard of Sketch Tuesday, it’s hosted by Barbara at Harmony Arts Mom.  Each week she announces a weekly art theme and then posts a slideshow of all the work submitted the following week. (Thanks Barbara.)

I think we tried this a few years ago and it just didn’t work for us during that particular season.  Even getting the pictures taken and sent by email became a forgotten task and then a source of guilt for the forgetting! (It helps to have an almost eleven year old who can take the pictures.)

This season, it’s been a perfect fit.  I love that it’s an independent learning activity.  The kids read the theme, decide on an idea, pick their medium, and get to work.  I enjoy not giving them instruction or direction as a change of pace.  The regular act of sketching practice, in addition to our other art studies, is certainly improving their skills.  It encourages the teacher in me when I see them incorporating skills we study on other days, such as values and shading, in their work for Sketch Tuesday. And my six year old, who often said he didn’t like drawing, loves to see his work on the slideshow each week.  This last week he worked for forty-five minutes, completely engaged and with diligence.

Here’s a sample of their work thus far, presented by theme.


Something Made in America

Drummer Boy, 6

Jellybean, 9

Mookie, 10

Something from Ancient Rome

Drummer Boy






Something from the Laundry Room



Drummer Boy






Something to Measure With



Drummer Boy




Something that lives a Long Time



Drummer Boy