Friday, August 13, 2010

Art Lessons

My idea of art is setting a box of crayons and some construction paper on the table. If we're going to be crazy, I might add a pair of scissors and a glue stick! But I don't want to deprive my kids of the wonderful art experience. I remember making fun projects in elementary school and being challenged in junior high. I start out with good intentions, and check out craft books from the library, but we don't often do any of the projects.

Thankfully, my mother-in-law used to be a preschool teacher. I think she's starting to miss it because this summer she suggested coming down and doing art lessons with the kids. Of course, I said yes! So, every couple of weeks, she will prepare a lesson on a particular artist and his/her style of art.

We started with Eric Carle, and oh, how fun it was! Check out the official Eric Carle website to see pictures of how he makes his art, to hear him read stories, and more. We modified his method a bit because painting tissue paper sounded way too messy! So, we used a newsprint style paper instead. We dug through drawers and boxes looking for fun objects to make texture with. Then we spent well over an hour painting. It got messy.

After a break for lunch, running around the block, and reading some of Eric Carle's books, most of the papers were dry enough to do the second phase of the project. This meant cutting shapes out of the painted paper and gluing them to some nice art paper to create our pictures. We also made a few cards, and have plenty of painted paper left to make a bazillion more!

And here's a shot of the kiddos with their final projects. Tools needed for this project: tempera paints, paint trays (we used egg crates), newsprint paper, brushes (sponge brushes, fat brushes, skinny brushes, whatever you have), objects to create texture/designs (serrated cake scrapers and potato mashers were fun), art paper/cardstock, scissors, glue sticks, and loads of patience. Also consider a table covering, paint shirts, and lots of paper towels. The end result could be simulated simply using construction paper or tissue paper on white cardstock. All in all, this was a pretty fun project. Grandma's a little worried than none of the other lessons will quite stack up to the fun of this one. But I think my kids are sufficiently art deprived, that they will be excited about anything! I would totally do this again. It was nice having another adult in the room, especially during clean up time, so I would probably invite another family to join us.

Are you art deficient like me? How do you teach art to your children? Have you ever done an Eric Carle- like project? What other variations on this theme can you think of?

Monday, August 9, 2010

First Language Lessons

We began our school year with language lessons. Not for any grand educational reasons, but solely because the book I use has all my lesson plans laid out, even telling me what to say. I've been meaning to work out the structure to the rest of the subjects, but July just got away from me. (Don't tell me that doesn't happen to you!)

I feel very poorly equipped to teach language to my children. I never really learned much about grammar and sentence structure. Literature and poem memorization wasn't part of my education. This was not something I felt adequate to making up on my own. I knew that I needed a text that would lay it all out, clearly and succinctly. Thankfully, a fellow homeschooling mom suggested this book, and we have fallen in love with it. I've been so excited about it that other moms have picked up a copy and are using it in their homes, too! The text that we are using is called First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind. It appears that my copy of the text is out of stock on the publisher's website as they are now publishing each level separately. I was lucky enough to find mine on a used curriculum website for $10. It's been a great investment, and we're planning to continue in this series.

What I love about this text is that I have no prep work. That's right, none! Click the link to the Amazon page and you'll be able to see a few sample lessons. Everything is scripted for me, there's no need to think. :) An added benefit is that someone else can do these lessons with my kids, if I can't, and they don't need to think, either!

Copy work!
Right from day one, we are learning about the parts of a sentence and day two we start memorizing a poem! This book contains the first and second grade levels. So, both of my boys are using this book. The foundation for good grammar is being built, memorization and recitation is starting, dictation and copy work are begun in the first grade level and are more heavily emphasized in the second grade level.

My second grader has a composition notebook that he is using to record his copy work. He does not enjoy writing, but I'm glad for this opportunity to sit still and practice it. He usually chooses to lay on the floor for his writing, which really isn't best practice for his penmanship, but we'll worry about that later!

What resources do you utilize for teaching your children language skills? Do you do anything for penmanship? How about spelling? We don't do either of those right now, and I'm wondering what's out there.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Starting School

first day of school
As a homeschool family, we have the luxury of choosing our school calendar. I've been eager to start what I consider "structured school" for some time now. This summer has been full of fun activity, but my kids were starting to get that whiny "I'm bored" attitude. There was fighting and bickering and it was time to do something.

Oh, yeah, "structured school" is the stuff I plan out ahead of time. Things like reading and math lessons, science experiments, unit studies, that kind of thing. A lot of what we do that's not structured or planned could also count as school hours if I needed to keep track of them. Things like going to the library or zoo, baking cookies or doing chores, I can think of a way to make most anything count!

One thing I've learned is that jumping into the school schedule full bore does not work for me or the kids. We get tired, worn out, and crabby. So, I slowly add things in over a few weeks and hope that by the time we hit September we're actually doing everything on our full schedule. Take that ride with us. As we add each subject, I'll share what we're doing, the materials we're using, and the fun we're having.

Whether you homeschool or not, you're constantly teaching your children. Are you intentional about the things that you're passing on, or are you just hoping that things will turn out for the best? What kinds of things are you teaching them, how are you doing it. Please share!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

I'm Back, and Ready to Blog

It's been awhile since I've posted anything on this blog. I've been thinking a lot about it and how this blog compares to others out there. There are so many great  blogs about saving money and I don't want to repost all that same information. I went back to my first post and thought about that for a bit. Saving money on groceries and other expenses is just one aspect of our approach to our finances. Yet, that's what I felt like I was focusing on, not just here on the blog, but in my life. I got burned out.

As I reread my first postings, my heart got excited again. We really have learned a lot about finances, more than just how to save money. Writing about each lesson learned just once, isn't really enough! I'm excited to examine my life for ways I can be incorporating those in more and sharing them with you. I'm excited to can tomatoes this fall and share my experiences with you. I'm excited to show you some great deals- the ones we run with, the ones we don't, and the logic behind our decisions. I'm excited to share our homeschool adventures with you, and how we manage to do that without spending a lot of money.

And I'm interested in the things that you're learning through your finances, the ways you're saving, the choices you're making. I'm interested in starting a conversation and providing a format where we can learn from each other. I'm interested in doing writing blog posts about things you're interested in learning about. So, leave a comment today, leave a comment everyday. Let us learn from one another and make the most of what we have.