Archive for the ‘arts and crafts’ Category

Homeschool Art Group

I can’t believe I haven’t shared anything about our art group here, but a look back through the archives says I haven’t.  So here goes: When we made the decision to have M attend her alternative school only on Fridays for the homeschool enrichment day and become an official homeschool family, I wanted to find a good way for M to meet other homeschooled girls her age.

She and her friend who began homeschooling at the same time, both love art and typically spend any time they aren’t engrossed in a pretend world they’ve created making art. I’d heard and read many lovely things about my friend Jean’s art group so I decided to start an art group for 5-7yo homeschooled girls.

I knew two families who’d like to join us already and wanting to form a group of about 6 girls, I sent out a message on a local homeschoolers list.  I got lots of responses but eventually after deciding the best time to meet, we came up with a group the right size. We started out planning to meet every other week but the girls immediately loved it so much that now we aim to meet weekly though the crazy amounts of snow we’ve been getting and the plethora of winter illnesses circulating has made that a challenge.

Each week, the girls have access to supplies, and I show them an example of a project they could make.  They often vere off in a different direction, which if fine.  Sometimes they create several works of art and sometimes one is enough.  They spend the rest of the time playing.

Creating in the Art Room

Artists at Work

C Creates with the Big Girls

A Garden

If you’re interested in starting an art group, check out Jean’s wonderful suggestions to get you started as well as the rest of her blog, The Artful Parent.


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This weekend, I spent some of my snowbound time reorganizing all the homeschooly links I’d saved in delicious account.  I primarily use my account to save sites I might use in homeschooling and links to books I’d like to read.  (See this post by Melissa Wiley for more ways to use technology for organizing needs) In my reorganzing effors, I made a printables category and I wanted to share my favorites sites for printing coloring pages, letter activities, worksheets, and craft ideas.

The girls often make requests for coloring sheets of particular animals, and I usually print out a few coloring or craft pages to help with our letter of the week activities.  I also occasionally print out word searches, word scrambles, and small activity books for M.  These are the sites I turn to most:

Enchanted Learning – a wealth of worksheets, coloring pages, and activity booklets on almost any topic you can think of, good for preschool-3rd grade (at least), useful for science, history, reading, wonderful dinosaur and ocean sections, many pages are free but you can have full access for $20/year

First School – preschool crafts and coloring pages and activities, divided by theme or letter of the alphabet

TheColor.com – coloring pages to print out or color online, online coloring can be printed once complete (M is draining the color printer cartridge fast with her creations), searchable by topic

DLTK – crafts and coloring pages by topics, search by topic, letter of the alphabet or season

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Over the last few months, I’ve been doing alphabet activties with C each week.  She goes to preschool a few mornings a week and we’ve been following along with the letter of the week from her school.  I often print out some coloring pages with animals that start with the week’s letter.  This is O week and last night I printed an orca for her to color and one for M too (she likes to join in on preschool homeschool).  I’d planned for us to color the orcas, cut them out, and glue them onto a sheet of paper we’d painted with ocean colors.  M suggested that instead we paint a long piece of paper like the ocean and then add to it each week.  She’s very excited about S week when we can color a sperm whale and a squid.

As they painted the girls decided to make an acrtic ocean on C’s side and a tropical ocean on M’s side.

After watching the Dinosaur Train alphabet song, M suggested we also make a dinosaur alphabet.  After talking about various ideas, we decided to make a dinosaur alphabet book.  Each week the girls will color or paint a dinosaur for the letter of the week.  We’ll glue them to construction paper and put them together to form a book.  This week, I printed an oviraptor.

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We’re having such a wonderful time with our study of prehistory.  All of us are learning things and getting inspired to look up answers to new questions.  I’m still tweaking the book, video, and activity lists and figuring out some technical issues, but eventually I’ll be sharing the curriculum I’m creating for us in a series of posts and/or downloads.

Right now, we’re studying the Paleozoic era and what better way to celebrate the variety of life in Paleozoic seas than to make trilobite cookies.

M made a prehistory timeline using one piece of construction paper per time period.  As we study each period, she fills in some of the animals that were alive at that time. We keep these pages in a file folder where she can pull them out as a reference or practice putting them in the correct order.

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Every year as we move through the holidays and I collect craft and reading suggestions like crazy, I always put aside those that are about winter, snow, snowmen, gingerbread men, mittens or anything else not specifically related to Christmas.  Then in January, we enjoy reading about snowy wonderlands and fill the house with snowflakes and snowmen, though I must say we’ve not been doing many crafts in the last few weeks, lots of freeform art though so that’s fine.

Last year, I posted our favorite winter reading and some of our other activities in a three-part Study of Snow series.  Here are the links: part 1, part 2, part 3

And here are some of the crafts I have on my radar for this winter:

Gingerbread Men Garland

Mini Hat Ornaments (we can hang them up around the house and then put them on the tree next year)

Button Snowflakes

Winter Birch Trees (we made a version of this at our art group this week)

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We love reading picture books and doing activities that go along with them whether it’s art or cooking or something physical.  I’ve found several resources that help us come up with ideas.

Five in a Row – each volume contains activities related to math, science, art, language skills, and other subjects for a number of classic picture books. We don’t use it regularly but it could be a full curriculum for a preschooler or kindergartner.

Games with Books by Peggy Kaye – games and activities for classic picture books and chapter books

Sonlight P3/4 – this curriculum for preschoolers simply includes stories and simple non-fiction books and a parents’ guide with suggestions for an activity for each story

Playing By the Book – Zoe posts great art activities, games, and music to go along with picture books

The Simply Science blog has wonderful activities to do with science picture books.

Anastasia at Picture Book of the Day posts writing activities to go along with the books she features.

stART (Story + Art) is a great series at A Mommy’s Adventures

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Last weekend, we had friends over to make graham cracker “gingerbread” houses, but instead of houses, M and her friend ended up making a gingerbread land with candy animals, a free-form creative endeavor that they enjoyed immensely.

The little ones made more traditional houses, but our graham cracker engineering skills and the quality of our icing weren’t up to snuff so they collapsed rapidly.

On Monday we made tinsel trees, glittery pine cone trees, and beeswax ornaments with friends. Then we went to see the houses from the National Gingerbread Competition.  We finished a fun day at a Hanukkah party where we ate lots of delicious latkes and holiday cookies.

Lots of baking has been done this week including white chocolate eggnog fudge, cowboy cookies, and gingerbread men.

This week’s favorite holiday reads: Night Tree by Eve Bunting, Mrs. Greenberg’s Messy Haunkkah by Linda Glaser, The Donkey’s Dream by Barbara Berger, Morris’ Disappearing Bag by Rosemary Wells, and Christmas Farm by Mary Lyn Ray, and Oliver and Amanda’s Christmas by Jean Van Leeuwen.

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