Archive for the ‘arts and crafts’ Category

We’re taking a break from our regular work this week and making time for lots of art and an African animal study that I hope to make time to blog more about. Today, we started the day by making these adorable handprint spiders inspired by this post at Laugh, Paint, Create.


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Wow! I’ve certainly neglected this blog over the summer. We’ve continued to enjoy a whirlwind of summer fun – swimming, hiking, nature study, laying around in the a/c and watching movies, all punctuated by camps for M and trips for all of us. This week I am enjoying some restful time to reconnect with my husband while the girls are with my parents.

Our official kick off date for the school year is August 23 so I’m also taking some time to reorder bookshelves, refresh our homeschooling spaces, and rethink what this school year will look like. I’ve been having a blast over the last few weeks ordering books and buying school supplies. Oh how I love school supplies! Each girl will receive a basket filled with fresh supplies for the year as part of our first day tradition. We will also decorate notebooks and look through lots of new books. I’m excited but also nervous about the year. I’ve rethought our curriculum and plans many times, and I know that the way we structure our days and the curriculum we use will be a work-in-progress but I so want to make a good start.

Last spring, I shared plans for second grade and most of those have remained the same with the exception of Language Arts. I’ve always found Language Arts to be the hardest to plan because there are so many parts to pull together – spelling, writing, grammar, phonics, reading, handwriting, research skills, etc. I decided not to use the next level of All About Spelling and bought only the Flash Kids’ Complete Curriculum workbook planning to use it as our base and find other activities as we need them, but once I started making concrete plans for the first few weeks, I found the organization of it frustrating. I toyed with buying Sonlight’s LA for Level 2 Advanced but I knew we would only use a fraction of the work in it. I kept looking for other options and then I stumbled upon the Charlotte Mason Language Arts series at Wildflowers and Marbles.

I’ve been reading more about Charlotte Mason’s educational theories over the summer and after reading this set of posts, I decided to revamp our LA plans to include dictation once/week, copywork once/week, several narrations weekly, one grammar lesson/week possibly using the Flash Kids book and one writing assignment per week based on a chapter or section of a living book. This might be handwritten by M or dictated to me.

M is now comfortable reading short chapter books on her own and can read longer, more complex books but is often discouraged by small type or a book that seems dauntingly long.  I intend to encourage her to continue picking out books on her own and reading as voraciously as she has been at any level she chooses. I also plan to assign a few books that are at a slightly higher level than she has been commonly reading.  I will read those with her and we will discuss each chapter.  To compile my list, I used Sonlight’s Readers 2 Advanced and Reader 3 lists as well as this list of books with Fountas and Pinnell levels given.  All books I’ve chosen are level O-Q.  Here’s the list so far: Beezus and Ramona, Encyclopedia Brown, Socks, Meet Josephina (American Girls), Into the Deep (Dolphin Diaries), Betsy, Tacy, and Tib, and The Boxcar Children. Some of these are familiar stories and some are new.

For read-alouds, I will continue to let M’s interests lead her plus we will read several books off the Sonlight Core 1 list (several of which are re-reads we’ll talk about in more detail) and a few more we’ve been planning for awhile.  Here’s what I’ve got listed so far: A Bear Called Paddington, Charlotte’s Web, Henry Huggins, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, The Railway Children, Wheel on the School, Homer Price, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, and Understood Betsy.

I’m trying to get the concept of less is more to actually sink into my brain particularly in light of how much M’s writing and spelling skills have improved over the summer as she’s made books and typed up lists and created other projects completely on her own initiative.

Other areas I’ve altered/tweaked since my original plan include art and history.  For art we will still be using Artistic Pursuits Book 1 but we will use it with our art group every other week. I’m sure we will also do projects from the book on off weeks some of the time but I’m also interested in following the picture study and composer studies at Ambleside so depending on how much time we’ll have, we may or may not do Artistic Pursuits projects on our own.  M is also signed up for a weekly art class with the same wonderful teacher she had for summer camp last year.

I’ll explain the books and resources I’ve pulled together for our first weeks of history, the booklist I’ve made so far for our chemistry course, and the basic schedule of our days in additional posts.

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M’s top request for summer activities was “science where you mix up things with water and make stuff”.  So I ordered Super Science Concoctions, and last week we had fun with food coloring and water.  First, we placed a few drops of color in a jar of hot water (blue), room temperature water (green) and ice water (red).  We let them sit and watched how the food coloring was distributed throughout the jar by nothing other than molecular motion.  We had to wait a long time for all three jars to be uniform, but we managed to be patient and resist the urge to stir.  We enjoyed comparing the speed of mixing at different temperatures.

As we watched our jars, we mixed food coloring with a small amount of water and made our own watercolors.  The girls had a blast experimenting with the vivid colors.

Claire's Painting

Meg's Painting

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This week, we’ve been focusing on our study of tide pools and doing lots of art.  We combined the two by making tide pools using paper plates and plastic wrap.  Inspired by these two projects, I made up my own version of the project to suit our needs.

First the girls painted the inside of a paper plate blue while I cut out the center of two plates and taping plastic wrap to cover the holes.  (Yes, we segued from breakfast into art so they are still drinking their smoothies.)

Next, the girls used markers to color small pictures of tide pool creatures. I printed them out from here and here. Then we used watered-down glue to cover the paint, shook glitter over the surface, then glued the animals on.

After they were dry, we covered the pool with the second plate and stapled them together. M painted rocks around the edge of her pool.

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I saw this chameleon project at Art Projects for Kids, one of my favorite art blogs, and I knew it would be perfect for our art group.  We checked out the suggested accompanying book, The Mixed-Up Chameleon by Eric Carle and two other chameleon-themed favorites of M’s, A Color of His Own by Leo Lioni and Leon the Chameleon by Melanie Watt.

We started our morning by reading the stories.  Then each child got a chameleon form to trace in crayon (I traced them for the younger siblings that joined us). I reminded them that the paint would not cover crayon and encouraged them to draw designs and/or features on their chameleons.

Next I brought out trays of water colors and they painted over their chamelons.  I was impressed with the variety of designs they created.

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My lovely friend, Jean, has interviewed me at her blog, The Artful Parent.  I’d love for you to stop by and learn more about our homeschooling and the art we do together.  While you’re there, check out Jean’s posts about creating art with your children.  As further incentive, I’m giving away some Endangered Species chocolate bars to someone who comments on the interview.

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Making a “naked” egg by soaking an egg in vinegar. Helping us see the difference between hard-shelled reptilian and bird eggs and soft amphibian eggs. (Yes, the Christmas-y snowmen plates are still out.)

Making imprint fossils with coffee grounds

A Valentine craft with the art group.

Making lots of set ups with block and animals

Making ourselves fancy

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