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Archive for the ‘painting’ Category

On 5 Kids and a Dog, there’s a series called the ABCs of Homeschooling.  This week’s letter is “P.” 

Alphabet ATC or ACEO Available - Needlefelted Letter P …is for Painting.

One of the activities that the girls enjoy doing is painting. When they were younger, they did quite a bit of wet-on-wet watercolor painting.

Watercolor Painting
Sophia doing a wet-on-wet watercolor painting.

I would soak the watercolor paper in water for a bit, lightly dry it off, and then she would paint using all-natural paints. The paints were made from plants and were from Germany. They were nice quality paints which resulted in some pretty colors.

Initially, I had the girls start with painting only one color. Then they learned to combine a couple of colors.

They also have enjoyed painting clothes and accessories.  When they were younger, the painting was more abstract; and as they grew older the did more representational/realistic painting.

Olivia Decorating a Purse with Fabric Paint
Olivia decorating a purse with fabric paint.
She is wearing a shirt she painted and
used when she did art and crafts projects.

One Christmas, the girls received paint kits. They traced the first letter of their first name onto a canvas and then added different shapes and swirls around the letter. Using a variety of acrylic paint, they created their own unique images.

Painting on the Day after Christmas
The girls painting the first letter of their first name on canvas.

Another activity the girls enjoyed was tracing their hands onto canvas, coloring the hand with oil pastels, and then painting with watercolors around the outside of the handprint.

Olivia Painting with Watercolors on Canvas
Olivia making a handprint picture
with oil pastels and watercolors.

They also have enjoyed painting without a paintbrush. They’ve used fingers, hands, pine needles, marbles, and vegetables.

Sophia Doing Marble Painting
Sophia doing a Valentine’s Day painting with marbles.
Sophia Painting Her Potato Print Shamrock
Sophia carved a heart into a potato.
Then, she made 3 prints of the heart to make a clover shape.
She added the stem, ground, and
some details with a paintbrush.

Doing vegetable and fruit printing was a fun process. Using peppers, apples, celery, and other fruits and vegetables yielded some interesting and pretty prints.

Vegetable Print Painting in Ag Class
The girls with other homeschoolers doing
fruit and vegetable printing.

Using hands and getting messy are the fun parts of painting for the girls.

Olivia Making a Handprint Christmas Tree
Olivia made a handprint Christmas tree.
She’s painting the tree trunk and snow with a paintbrush. 

In addition to creating their own images and work, they also enjoy using painting kits. Early on, they did some simple watercolor painting with pre-printed images.

Sophia Watercolor Painting
Sophia doing watercolor painting with pre-printed images.

When they were 7 and 9 years old, they each did a paint-by-numbers kit. These are not the kits that I grew up with which were substantially easier.

These kits had very tiny spaces, lots of blending of paints, and required much patience and time. The end-product is one that both the girls were so proud of and framed.

Olivia Painting by Numbers
Olivia doing a paint-by-numbers painting.

They each entered their paint-by-numbers paintings in the county fair and/or 4-H; and both did very well. Entering the paintings for 4-H (in Cloverbuds and Crafts) was a great way for the girls to share their experience about painting and what they liked/found challenging about the process.

Olivia with Cloverbud Judge
Olivia meeting with the 4-H Cloverbud judge
to discuss her painting.
She’s 7 years old in this picture.
Painting has been and will continue to be an important part of homeschooling. It’s been something the girls truly enjoy, and it gives them an opportunity to creatively express themselves.
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On 5 Kids and a Dog, there’s a series called the ABCs of Homeschooling.  This week’s letter is “I.” 

Alphabet ATC or ACEO Available - Needlefelted Letter I ….is for Investigation. 
When I think of homeschooling, a lot of what the girls and I do relates to investigation.  Every day there are many ways to learn through investigation.  Below are some pictures of how the girls learn by investigating.
Investigating the Environment
Girls Playing in the Pond
Sophia and Olivia exploring the pond.
The  girls enjoy exploring the pond, pastures, and nature trail on an almost daily basis.  Seeing a variety of birds, toads, and frogs – sometimes ones we’ve never seen before – leads us to identification guides to help us figure out what we’ve seen. 
We use the Handbook of Nature Study (both the book as well as the blog that offers Outdoor Hour Challenges) which has been a highlight of learning about the environment.
Investigating New Ideas through Reading
Nice and Comfortable Doing Homeschooling
Reading outdoors in the early fall.
A key part of homeschooling is reading, and the main curriculum that I use (Sonlight) offers a wealth of high quality, “living” books that cover history, geography, literature/reading, and science.  We make at least one trip to the library per week, sometimes as often as two or three times, to check out new books as well as books on CD. 
Reading aloud, listening to audio books, and reading independently happens on a daily basis.
Investigating Wildlife and Anatomy

Sophia Exploring a Jaw with Teeth
Sophia examining parts of a skull
using a disposable fork and ruler
(having more “scientific” equipment would be nice).
Living in the country provides many opportunities to discover living wildlife – eagles, hawks, foxes, minks, deer, pheasants, and owls.  By traveling to different parts of the state and country, we also have seen birds and wildlife that we normally would not see here which is exciting.
We also have seen plenty of wildlife that no longer is living.  Going on walks with the dogs has provided close-up views with some animals that walked too close to the road. 
Sometimes, after winter, an animal’s bones remain in the ditch.  Although this is kind of gross, I have used plastic bags to pick up the bones and lots of bleach to clean them.  In that way, the girls have been able to learn about the anatomy of different animals (like a coyote, for example) – something they would, at best, only be able to read about if they didn’t live where they do.
Investigating the World Through Geography Lessons and Travel

Olivia Balancing on a Rock
Olivia balancing on a rock in
Grand Marais, Minnesota.
A major part of homeschooling is learning about the world.  We are wrapping up a multi-year ABC journey around the world where the girls learned about a different country for each letter of the alphabet (with the exception of “X” since there is no country that begins with that letter).  Starting this fall, we will be starting with a multi-year study about each of the 50 states which we’re very excited to do! 
Traveling – within the state, throughout the country, and to foreign countries – plays an important part in homeschooling.  Learning about different cultures and ways of life; different types of land; and food all help the girls appreciate the world they live in.
Investigating Math and its Connection to the Natural World
Measuring a Worm
Sophia measuring the length of a worm.
Learning math facts is one thing…but when the girls can apply math skills that they’ve learned to real life, the facts and skills make even more sense.  The girls enjoy measuring things – for example, how long something is (like the worm shown above), the distance between an animal’s tracks, or how deep a woodpecker’s hole in the tree is (see the photo below). 
Measuring Depth of Woodpecker Hole
Sophia measuring the depth of a hole
made by a woodpecker.

Investigating Science and How Things Work

Learning about Switches
Learning about electricity and circuits;
and getting a lightbulb to work.
Both the girls enjoy science and doing experiments.  When I was in elementary school, I don’t remember doing many science experiments.  In junior high, I recall dissection lessons (worm and frog) and using bunsen burners.  In senior high, there were limited experiments as well. 
It’s too bad because the highlights for science for the girls (and me) have been the hands-on experiments we’ve done which have enhanced the lessons and reading materials.  For topics that were a bit more challenging (e.g., electricity), doing the experiments made all the difference for the girls in terms of comprehension and retention.
Investigating History and Cultures

The Girls and a Mummy
Sophia and Olivia taking a look at a mummy
when studying about Egyptian history and culture.
From the start of homeschooling the girls when they were Kindergarten, history has been a fascinating subject for them.  A few years ago, we read the entire American Girl series and Little House series (both which focus on American History).  When we began using the Sonlight curriculum, the girls were introduced to world history. 
Sophia has moved onto learning about American History at a much deeper and broader level than she did when she was younger.  She will continue with American History next year before learning more about ancient cultures and world history.
We covered some of the ancient cultures when the girls were much younger.  Learning about Egypt and the ancient Egyptians was very interesting for us all.
Investigating Music and Creative Expression

Wrench Xylophone
Sophia playing a wrench xylophone
at the Minnesota History Center.
Music has played a central part of homeschooling.  In the early years, music was focused on listening to CDs of various types of music by a variety of artists.  The girls also enjoyed playing child-size percussion instruments at home, and large-scale instruments or unique instruments (like the wrench xylophone pictured above) in public.
Currently, the girls are both taking piano lessons, and Sophia is starting to learn to play the harp.  Olivia wants to play the guitar or the piccolo (though she has to learn how to play the flute first).  In addition to playing instruments, the girls also sing in a children’s choir and perform at least once a month during the school year.
Olivia Making a Handprint Christmas Tree
Olivia painting a tree with a paintbrush
and her handprints.

Creative expression is also done through painting, drawing, coloring, handiwork, pottery, ceramics, and sewing.  Having ways to express oneself through the arts is as critical of a component to homeschooling for us, as is any core subject (e.g., math, reading, science). 

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I was looking at photos from the Create & Cultivate Art Camp program that was held here at the farm from 2000-2003 this morning.  One of the artists with whom I was honored to have work here was D’Arcy Teasley.  Her work was (and continues to be) thoughtful, engaging, and reflective of an incredibly creative and talented artist. 

While she worked at Harvest Moon’s Art Camp, she did some large-scale, multi-day projects with the children who ranged in age from 6-11 years old.  One of the first projects D’Arcy did was to create a labyrinth in the east pasture. 

The children, teen camp counselors, and D’Arcy used rocks gathered from a nearby farmer’s field to line the pathway.  The pathway is covered with bark chips.

Four of the art camp participants by the labyrinth
The children learned the difference between a labyrinth and a maze; heard the Greek myth about the Minotaur and the labyrinth; and were able to walk/dance/hop/skip to the center of the labyrinth on the last day and receive a special necklace that D’Arcy made for each child. 

Another year, D’Arcy guided the children in making a huge storytelling lodge.  The children wove tree branches, grasses, and other natural elements into the lodge that held about 15 children and teens. 

The lodge was built on the back part of the farm – in an open field that had no trees at the time.  Needless to say, in the middle of the summer when the days were very hot and sunny, it was challenging doing construction work. 
However, by the time the lodge was completed and fully enclosed, it was a much cooler place of retreat and escape; and was a comforting spot where one could tell or listen to stories, enjoy a picnic, or relax while listening to the quiet of the country. 

Children in the finished lodge listening to a story.

The final large-scale project D’Arcy did during the Art Camp was a Peace Village.  This was also done in the back part of the property where the nature trail is located.  There were four structures – including a tipi, wigwam, and two other home-structures of different shapes.

If I’m recalling this correctly, I believe D’Arcy designed all four structures to use the same “footprint” in terms of size on the ground.  However, the way the sides were constructed yielded different size homes from the ground to top of the different structures.  Some homes felt smaller (like the tipi) while others felt much larger where the sides simply went straight (rather than angled in to a center point).

Each of the homes in the Peace Village were large – many children could sit in each one.  There were pathways connecting the homes to one another, and tie-dyed and decorated flags that the children made were strung from each of the homes to one another. 

Flags connecting the homes in the Peace Village

It was an incredibly cool project, and one that the children and teens were equally engaged in building and playing in.  The childen were very proud of their work in creating the homes, and were excited to show their parents at the art show on the last day of camp.

Peace village with four homes
What ties these pieces together as I look at them now is that they all used “discarded” wood products – tree limbs and branches that were trimmed; stones from a farmer’s rock pile that he didn’t want; and other natural elements that would have just been tossed or burned.  Instead, D’Arcy gave new life and purpose to these items. 

She encouraged children to challenge themselves to do things they may never have thought they could do – like build a home or a labyrinth.  D’Arcy brought to life the following quote by Caroline Adams which, I think, is a great reminder of the importance of living a life that is full, purposeful, and meaningful:

“Your life is a sacred journey.
And it is about change, growth, discovery,
movement, transformation,
continuously expanding your vision of what is possible,
stretching your soul,
learning to see clearly and deeply,
listening to your intuition,
taking courageous challenges at every step along the way.
“You are on the path… exactly where you are meant to be right now…
And from here, you can only go forward,
shaping your life story into a magnificent tale of triumph,
of healing of courage, of beauty, of wisdom,
of power, of dignity, and of love.”

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This was Olivia’s first year in Cloverbuds (for K-2nd grade students who aren’t old enough yet to go into “regular” 4-H). Cloverbuds were able to enter four projects that they did into the county fair.

Olivia entered a pillow she made in her Little House in the Big Woods class, a set of painted matroyshka dolls with horses on each doll, a paint-by-numbers picture of a dog in a doghouse, and a sewn/stuffed Santa decoration.

As the older children had to do, Cloverbuds are interviewed by a judge about their knowledge about the project they did, the goals they had for the project, what they learned, what they would do differently, etc.

Olivia’s projects are behind her – to the left and right. She’s holding the ribbons awarded to Cloverbuds.

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