Category Archives: Learning

Homeschooling : Art Friday


Our family has been very blessed to be apart of a Homeschooling co-op ever since my oldest son started kindergarten.  It’s been an idyllic situation for our children.  Several days a week the kiddos are in a classroom of 8-10 students being taught math, reading, language arts, choir, and PE by their teachers, and part of the week they are taught at home by me.  I also do reading, as well as science, and Social Studies.

This school year things have been a little different.  My second born son G and I, started homeschooling full time.  His co-op class got so small that we weren’t able to keep it going.  I decided to homeschool G while the other two children continued to be apart of the co-op.  I’ll be honest, I went into this year with a good amount of nervousness, but G and I have had such a fun year together!  Not that there haven’t been moments, or even days, that didn’t go smoothly, but mostly it’s been a joy to be his teacher.

My best friend Stephanie also has a daughter in the same grade as G.  When we both realized that we would be homeschooling them for their Second Grade year, we decided to do some tag-team teaching.  We chose our curriculum together, planned out our school year together, and every Friday we take turns teaching both children.  It’s been a great arrangement.  I love that both the children get to spend time together, and it’s nice to have every other Friday off.  I think it’s been good for G to be taught by someone else on a regular basis,  I feel like Stephanie gives me good feedback on G’s progress.  On the days that G goes to Steph’s house, I send all his schoolwork for the day, and Stephanie plans a special science project with the kiddos in the afternoon.  On the days that I have the kids, I do an Art History project with them.  I have LOVED this time with G and C.  So far we’ve studied Kandinsky, Van Gogh, and Jackson Pollock.  We’ve also studied perspective, blending colors, hues, saturation, background, middle-ground, and foreground.

This past week we did a study on Claude Monte.  Our project was to replicate one of his water lily paintings.  This has been my favorite art lesson so far.  We worked on it throughout the school day, doing one step at a time.  This project needed to be done in layers; giving time for each step to dry before we could move onto the next.
Art Friday | Inanorchard

First thing Friday morning, I took a stack of coffee filters and dyed them pink and green.  I did this by sticking the coffee filters in a bowl of water and food coloring.  Then I set the stack of filters on a cookie sheet, and stuck them in the oven set to the very lowest heat setting.  The coffee filters were soaked and I needed them to be dry for the project.
Art Friday | Inanorchard

Once they had dried out in the oven, I stacked them up and set them aside.

Art Friday | Inanorchard

At the start of the school day, I gave each of the kiddos a square canvas.  I wanted the water background to have an interesting texture, so I had the children dip strips of tissue paper in glue and press the paper onto the canvas.

Art Friday | Inanorchard

The glue was mixed with water, otherwise it would have been too thick for the delicate tissue paper. As they were adding the tissue paper I told them to think about what water looked like.  The way it flowed in one direction, or the way little waves looked on the surface of the water.  After they added the tissue paper there was a lot of excess glue on the canvas, so I took a dry paper towel and blotted the extra glue away from the canvas.

Art Friday | Inanorchard

Once the tissue paper had completely dried (which took several hours) I filled a paint pallet with 4 or 5 different shades of blue paint and a little bit of white paint.  This is not children’s washable paint.  I used inexpensive artist-grade acrylic paint for this project.  The color selection and texture of the paint is better than the washable, craft-grade tempura paint.  I had them wear old t-shirts to protect their clothing.

Art Friday | Inanorchard

I tried not to interfere too much with this part of the process.  The only instructions I gave them was to cover the entire canvas in blue paint. They painted directly over the canvas and the dried tissue paper.  I let them look at photos of Monte’s water lily paintings and encouraged them to think about water and what it looks like.

Art Friday | Inanorchard

I love the way the water turned out!  The texture the tissue paper created, and all the different shades of blue with white high-lights, looked amazing.  I liked the blue canvas so much that I was tempted to leave just them blue.

Art History | Inanorchard

Art Friday | Inanorchard

This is the brand of paints I used for the project.  It’s the cheapest line at Michael’s.  They were $3.99 per tube but I got them 30% off.  There was plenty of paint left over to use on other projects.

Art Friday | Inanorchard

I cut the coffee filters into several sizes of lily pad shapes.  We made the flowers by pinching the bottom of the pink and white filters together.

Art Friday | Inanorchard

We used plain ole Elmer’s glue to add the lilies to the canvas.

This is G’s Water Lily painting

Art Friday | Inanorchard

And this is C’s painting

Art Friday | InanorchardI’m so pleased with the way they turned out!  The kiddos were very diligent and patient with the whole process, and I think they were pretty proud of the end result.

I start each lesson by introducing the artist to the children.  We learn about the artist’s work, art genre and medium, and we do a brief biography of the artist’s life.  For our Monet study I found three great videos on Youtube.  If I manage to coordinate a library trip before hand (which rarely happens) I’ll have biography books on hand for them to flip through as well.

The first clip is biography video about the life of Claude Monet, narrated by a young girl.

The second video is a tour of Monet’s garden at Giverny, France.  This was my personal favorite.  It made me realize how blessed we are to live in this day and age, with the kind of information we have at our fingertips.  We sat in our living room and took a virtual tour of Claude Monte’s gardens!  An amazingly beautiful and popular tourist attraction. It also made me realize how much I would love to see Monte’s gardens with my own eyes.

And the last is just a clip showing a variety of the paintings he painted over the course of his life.

This this just a small glimpse into my homeschooling lesson.  Not everyday is this creative, but it’s projects like this that make learning enjoyable for both G and I.

Thanks so much for visiting!  ~April



Children’s Activity Table

Before I was a mother, I was a preschool teacher.  Those years of teaching and learning from the children in my classroom, undoubtedly impacted the way I mother my own children.

When my kiddos were pre-k/kindergarten age I started doing Activity Tables with them.

Activity Table

The purpose of the Activity Table is to give the kiddos the opportunity to follow their own natural curiousity.   When I set up an Activity Table, I choose a theme, gather a variety of supplies, and set it all up on the kitchen table.  The kiddos job is to have fun!  No end product in mind, no time limit, no specific instructions… just them exploring and creating on their own.  I’m always near by to help but I don’t interfere.

This is the first Activity Table I did with my children-

Activity Table: art mediums

The theme behind this activity was “art mediums”.  They were given a stack of papers in all shapes, colors, and sizes.  I set out watercolor paints, tempera paint, colored pencils, crayons, markers, chalk pastels, charcoal pencils, and brushes in all different sizes.  They had such a good time!  I left the supplies out for the better part of the day and let them come and go as they wished.

Activity Table: art mediums

The second Activity Table we did was a Science theme.  I went to the Dollar Store and stocked up on all kinds of ingredients.  I put out cornstarch, oil, colored water with eyedroppers, shaving cream, salt, vinegar, bar soap, baking soda, sugar, and cornmeal.  The purpose of this table was to let them mix, dissolve, measure, and observe any chemical reactions that happen along the way.

Activity Table: Science

This project was messy!  No getting around the mess.  But they had a great time trying different combinations of mixtures.  I made sure I had plenty of paper towels and rags on hand to deal with any accidents.  I also made sure they were wearing play clothes.

Activity Table: Science

They most recent Activity Table we did was 3D art.  For the last three months I had been saving egg cartons, toilet paper tubes, soapboxes, half & half cartons, oatmeal canisters… anything that had an interesting shape.

Activity Table: 3D art

The purpose of this table was to use the supplies to construct something.  The boys really got into this project!

I tried to set out anything I thought they might need for assembling their 3D art.  We had white glue, a low-temp glue gun, a variety of colored and patterned tape, pipe cleaners, hole punches, Sharpies, stapler, twine, colorful poms, googly eyes, buttons, and paint.  I even set up a few cans of spray paint on a work table outside so they could spray paint the plastic containers.

Activity Table: 3D Art

G wanted to make binoculars

Activity Table: 3D Art

As always I let the children come up with their own ideas.  I made sure I was around to help with any cutting or carving but for the most part I let them do everything themselves.

These are the little egg carton turtles that Miss E made.

Activity Table: 3D Art

These are the robots that the boys made out of Miss P’s old Puff containers.  Aren’t they fun?!

Activity Table: 3D Art

This is G’s soapbox robot.

Activity Table: 3D Art

Miss E really wanted to make animals!  This is her egg carton caterpillar.

Activity Table: 3D Art

J even managed to make a few robots that had moving parts; arms or feet that could be moved back and forth.

Activity Table: 3D Art

The Activity Tables are work, and they are messy, but I don’t mind because the payoff is worth it.  Watching them happily create something on their own it totally worth the work!

If you’re interested in doing and Activity Table with your own kiddos here are some tips I learned over the years-

- Cheap plastic tablecloths are your best friend!  They are water proof and disposable.  When you’re cleaning up you can just leave any bits of paper and trash on the tablecloth, wad it all up and throw it away!

- be sure to set up near a sink, and always have paper towels and rags on hand.

-set up different “stations” at the table.  Make one end of the table a “painting station”, have designated spot for glue, and a spot for cutting and taping.  This will help keep the chaos at bay.

-if the table starts to get too messy, take a few minutes to clear away the trash and reset the stations.  Too much mess and clutter can hinder creativity.

-take a deep breath and relax!  There will be moments when you want to loose your cool, especially if your like me and have a hard time letting mess just happen :)   Messiness, clutter, and a bit of chaos is just part of the experience, and you have to learn to let go and not be too controlling.

-give the process some time.  When the kids first sit down they will be keyed-up and excited.  That initial excited frenzy will pass and that’s when the creative magic starts to happen.  Don’t give up before it gets good!

If you enjoy doing projects with your kiddos and are looking for new and fun projects to do with them, The Artful Parent is one of my favorite blogs!  Jean Van’t Hul is a never ending wealth of knowledge and creativity!  I also love her Pinterest Boards.


Now go out and have some fun with your kids!  And thanks for stopping by!  ~April