Long Live the Library

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A quick post to show off a picture of our children’s craft time at the library last summer, during one of the workshops for the Summer Reading Program. I cannot say enough about how much we enjoy going to the library, getting books and doing crafts throughout the year, not just during the summer.

Boy and girl working on a craft at the library

My children working on crafts at the library

This winter will be interesting, as we say good bye to our long-time children’s librarian, who is retiring. Continue reading »

They are in the process of interviewing some candidates for the job. We know we are in good hands.

Just for the record, we save about $2,500 per year by loaning books from the library instead of buying them. We also save a lot of room, right? I don’t know where I would put all these books…

So long live the library. We love it.


60 Ideas for Arts and Crafts

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Many people use “I’m not a teacher” as an excuse for not homeschooling. It’s a mentality they grew up with. I did too. I understand. I got out of it when I felt called to homeschool my children, slowly but surely.

The Industrial Age has turned all of us into specialized professionals along the assembly lines of the world. Each of us has been instructed to take care of only one job and so we go through life assuming teachers teach, bakers bake, pilots fly planes and architects design.

60Ideas

In fact, you CAN teach your child. You can! It’s as simple as picking up a teacher’s manual and reading the lesson the night before. In this post, I am illustrating the point by giving you 60 ideas for arts and crafts. I’m no artist. My kids can draw better than I can. But I teach them art with the right tools.

Even if you yourself are not that great at art you can teach your children art. To teach means to educate. And “educate” come from the Latin word “educare,” which means “leading out, taking somebody from here to there, guiding.” So you can guide your children through the process of discovering art. Take my case: I am not an artist, but I appreciate art. And, I discovered, it does not take much to expose my children to arts and crafts.

Here is a list of 60 arts and crafts you can do with your children:

1. Visit your local Museum of Art. For us, it’s Arrowmont in Gatlinburg and the Knoxville Museum of Art.

2. Visit your local children’s museum. The closest one to us is in Oak Ridge and we have not been yet. I have only heard good things about it, but it’s just been a little out of the way for us.

3. Visit your local science and technology center. Check this list out to locate one near you. They are bound to have craft tables, among all those scientific projects. If you travel, it would make sense to invest in a membership. That way, you can visit everywhere for free. We got a membership at The Muse in Knoxville and have already visited another science center for free (the Discovery Center in Charlotte, NC). That’s what you can do any time you travel.

4. Visit your local natural science museum. They usually have programs and tours for children which end up with a craft. We go to McClung in Knoxville for their free stroller tours.

5. Visit your local artisan shops. Sometimes they have artist at work demonstrations. Exposing the children to the creating process inspires them. We go to the Arts and Crafts community on Glades Road in Gatlinburg – 120+ shops to explore.

6. Visit the National Gallery of Art website for kids and virtual shop. You will gain four things: knowledge, inspiration, ideas, and pretty things to share with friends and family.  Continue reading »

7. Always have crayons and a drawing pad available for your children, whether at home or when traveling or waiting in a doctor’s office. My daughter has filled many pages of drawing during her brother’s violin classes.

8. Invest in a pottery wheel for children. You will have to get about five pounds of clay, too. We started with two pounds of clay and our two children used them up in one sitting and five projects.

9. Buy Sculpey – the greatest oven-bake clay there is. Once it’s dry, they can paint it. Or get colored Sculpey from the beginning.

10. Nothing beats Crayola’s air-dry clay. Always have some on hand.

11. The best art classes on DVD on the market – The Home Art Studio.

12. Discovery Kids sells a kit made out of wood with the solar system. They can paint or color each planet, the Sun and the asteroid belt, then hang them as a mobile.

13. Go through art books like this, or this, or this together and ask questions like, “What do you see? What do you think they are thinking about? What do you feel when you look at this? What do you think they are thinking about?”

14. Get art books from the library.

15. Invest in a few art books for children like the ones listed under #13. Or this one. Or this one.

16. Always have sidewalk chalk available at your house. It’s a great excuse to get them outside even on a cold day.

17. Take chalk projects to a new level by getting them a chalk kit which attaches to their bikes.

18. Play dough or modeling clay is a must, but always protect your work surface with a newspaper. Definitely don’t work with it on a carpet. Trust me. I know from experience.

19. Get books like Modeling Clay Animals. I made a giraffe for my daughter, which inspired her to try her own project. My mom thought my giraffe looked more like a horse, but hey, I tried, OK?

20. Draw Write Now – the series. You will refer to these books over and over again. If you want to teach manuscript, this doubles as a handwriting curriculum for beginners as well. We only do cursive, so I strictly use these books as art books – learning how to draw animals. After reading to them about mammals one day for science, we pulled out one of these volumes and learned how to draw a llama.

21. Watch Me Draw: Things Girls Love – need I to say more?

22. AquaDoodle pads are not just for smaller children. You would be surprised how busy any child will stay while drawing on an AquaDoodle pad. Get a smaller one for travel.

23. Photography is art. So invest in a child’s camera like V-Tech Kidizoom Digital Camera or let them have an older adult camera when Santa brings you an upgraded one. Show them how to use it and then how to download the pictures onto the computer. Delete blurry ones on the camera itself just to teach them how to keep their hands steady.

24. Deluxe art kit – for a birthday or Christmas gift, you cannot go wrong with this impressive set.

25. Coloring books, coloring books, coloring books. Choose a theme they like, like horses for girls and robots for boys, and let them go to town. (Dover)

26. Lapbooks are art projects in and of themselves, but they can also learn anything under the sun with them.

27. Color Wonder markers, paints, finger paints, and books. Mess-free art – for kids under five, it’s a must.

28. Free coloring sheets on any theme are only a Google search away.

29. Paper roll crafts abound online, too. Pinterest boards will help you there, too.

30. Pipe cleaners are incredible. Here is a book to get you started on some pipe cleaner craft projects.

31. Read picture books to them since infancy. Exposing them to colorful and/of black-and-white picture books stimulates their imagination and gives them a personal collection of images that nobody can take away from them. I wrote about 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten here.

32. Take them to your local library story time. Your children will listen to stories, look at picture books and do a craft at the end. At least that is the drill at our local library.

33. Watch for free events at your local bookstore. I once attended a Pete the Cat day at Barnes and Noble. There were crafts and coloring pages for us to enjoy there after the reading.

34. Visit your local zoo. They usually have an indoor play area where the kids can enjoy crafts year round, but especially so around Christmas time. The price of an annual membership pays for itself in so many ways and having access to these arts and crafts is one of them.

35. Stickers are a wonderful way to develop creativity. Buy this set for animal lovers, this set for nature lovers, this set for car lovers and this set for music lovers.

36. Coloring T-shirts are a great hit with my daughter. I’m thinking there may be other kids out there who would enjoy painting on fabric. You can get this one which comes with an outline. Or, get plain white t-shirts and puffy paint or fabric markers and let them go to town.

37. Scissor crafts develop creativity AND fine motor skills, so definitely look into making chains of angels or snow flakes. Here’s a pair of scissors for small children.

38. Preschool books will always have artsy projects mixed in with math and literacy pages. We have used Horizons, Rod and Staff and a few others.

39. Your local church will always have Bible-related crafts at the end of your child’s Sunday/Sabbath School class. Many times the children are encouraged to create these projects and share them with friends and family as an outreach effort. Great way to train them to be little missionaries.

40. Invest in an art easel like this one. Take it outside on warm, dry days and let them paint the landscapes around your home. Hint: these masterpieces make great Christmas gifts for grandparents.

41. Trace their hands. Let them paint or color them and then cut them out. Have some available in a box at the ready. You can make these into so many cute crafts. You can glue them to a small bottle of hand lotion or any such small item as a gift for somebody special (like a violin teacher or a friend graduating or performing in a recital). Write “You deserve a hand” on the cutout hand.

42. Trace their feet. Again, you can make their cutout feet into so many projects, from turkeys to robots.

43. Attend Summer Reading Program at your local library. Most will offer workshops on arts and crafts. My kids worked on collages one summer and I did not think they would like it, but they enjoyed it immensely. Not the first time I was wrong about my kids, of course. It goes to show that you never know what can inspire them.

44. Encourage them to draw their feelings. Talk about different colors. Would orange mean warmth? Would red mean anger? Would blue mean sadness?

45. Encourage them to draw during tough times, like when a grandparent dies. My son surprised us with a drawing one week after his paternal grandfather died. We did not ask him to do this. From what daddy shared, our son re-created the scene complete with uncanny details. I am sure it was therapeutic for him to record this event in his own way.

46. Decorate a Christmas tree in December.

47. Make turkey crafts in November, in preparation for Thanksgiving.

48. Make Christmas ornaments. Any medium is fine.

49. If your child attends a co-op, don’t skip the art class offered.

50. Attend craft time with other homeschoolers. Our local support group does not have a co-op, but once a month we meet at the library for craft time.

51. Follow the Fine Art Mom Blog.

52. Follow the Harmony Arts Blog.

53. Recycled arts – the sky is the limit. Sure, you can buy your own building blocks. But you can also, um, build them yourself, with your child’s help, that is. Paper grocery bags filled with crumpled up newspapers and sealed with packing tape make for wonderful blocks they can stack, build with, or even throw themselves on.

54. Build your own toys. We once made a train out of tea boxes.

55. Make Father’s/Mother’s/Valentine Day cards. Give them construction paper, crayons, stickers and scissors.

56. Always make a drawing as a thank you note for gifts received at Christmas and birthdays.

57. Make shoe planters out of old favorite shoes your child has outgrown. Your child can apply two coats of Mod Podge, then spray paint the shoes gold. After they dry, your child can add soil and plant mini carnations or other small plants. What a great gift for Mother’s Day!

58. Make a jelly bean American flag for Veterans Day by gluing read, white and blue jelly beans onto a cardboard.

59. Wood bird houses and any other wooden objects sold at craft store can be turned into painting opportunities.

60. If I still have not convinced you that YOU can teach your child art, pay for an art class.

And there you have it, my list of 60 arts and crafts ideas. I hope this helps inspire you. I have only scratched the surface. This list could easily be called 100+ ideas and extended to contain 100+ ideas. But 60 should give you a good start.

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support.


DIY Sewing: You Won’t Believe How Much You Can Save!

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Considering learning to sew? Go for it! Not just a fun hobby, sewing can also help save you money. Here are just a few of the ways you can save by sewing:

 

 

Mend clothes

Sewing machines won’t just save you money — they’ll save you time as well, there are lots of different models to choose from, so take your time! Who wants to run to a seamstress every time you pop a button or tear your jeans? Mending clothes yourself will save you some cash and give you the satisfaction of doing it on your own as well.

scissors, needle, thread, sewing

 

Craft it up

No need to head to the toy store for every birthday or Christmas present anymore! Sew your children dolls, stuffed animals and dress-up clothes. When the kids are old enough to use the machine themselves, teach them how to make a simple patchwork quilt or pillow.

Continue reading »

 

Sew your own

You can also make clothes for you or your kids’ yourself. Simply head to the nearest fabric store and purchase a few yards of fabric and a pattern. Or, if you want to get even thriftier, sew old towels or sheets together to make a robe or curtains. Pillowcases make for great cushion covers as well!

 

Home repairs

Another great way to save money is sewing your own home repairs. Having a sewing machine in the home makes it possible for you to fix things that, had you not owned a machine, may have been thrown out otherwise. If the seam of the bean bag chair splits, simply stitch it yourself. An oven mitt tears? You’ll have it mended within five minutes on the sewing machine.

 

 

Make gifts

These thoughtful, homemade crafts can turn into gifts for the grandparents, cousins or friends. Not only will these home-sewn presents put a smile on their recipients’ faces, but they’ll probably last longer than factory-made items as well!

 

 

So, grab your favorite spool of thread and get to work!

 

Sources:

http://momprepares.com/sewing-to-save-money-things-you-can-make-yourself/

http://www.startsewing.co.uk/how-you-can-save-money-sewing.html

http://www.motherearthnews.com/diy/sew-it-yourself-sewing-kit-zmaz79ndzraw.aspx#axzz3DZpTSDTK


5 Days of Homeschool Essentials, Day 5 – Craft Materials

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(This post on craft materials as homeschooling essentials contains affiliate links. Read my full disclosure here.)

Even high school students need poster board, right? And some fancy-schmancy markers? But when you homeschool elementary and preschool kids, like I do, craft materials become an essential. I would even put this before a few others I have mentioned. So last, but not least, here’s my #5 homeschooling essential: craft materials.

A simple Google search will reveal all sorts of ideas for crafts. For those of us who are craft-challenged, a curriculum like Home Art Studio will be worth every penny. Some of the projects you see here came from their DVD. I plan to do a full review on this curriculum in February.

Children mix red and yellow paint to obtain orange.

My kids mixed red and yellow to make orange, then painted small paper plates orange. They were so proud of their creations.

Small children love crafts and they develop so many skills through cutting and pasting, threading and buttoning, matching and measuring. Crafts are the perfect activity during which they have fun and learn at the same time, without realizing they are doing so.

Happy Sun - a simple craft project

Crafts don’t have to be difficult: paint a whole paper orange, let it dry, draw a circle, cut it out. Also, cut out triangles and mount on blue construction paper. Add details like eyes, mouth and clouds.

Your craft cabinet should contain inexpensive items (Dollar Stores come to mind) like:

  • scissors
  • glue
  • construction paper
  • scrap paper in different colors
  • card stock
  • crayons
  • markers
  • paint (different types)
  • brushes (different sizes)
  • stickers
  • play dough
Purple play dough flower, with stem and leaves

My daughter and I made purple play dough. It’s her favorite color. Then, we cut it out with our flower shape. We rolled the stem. For the leaves, we flattened bits of play dough.

Simple household items you already have will come in handy, like:

  • egg cartons (make sure they are clean)
  • paper plates
  • scotch tape
  • a stapler
  • cereal boxes
  • yarn
  • a hole puncher
  • brown paper bags
  • raffia
  • manila folders
Hand prints in primary colors

Another simple project: kids love tracing their own hands. Then, have them paint them.

Here’s my suggestion: bite the bullet and invest in the ultimate Crayola Play Doh set. Then, the only thing you need to do is make your own play dough every six months. It’s certainly cheaper than buying it. Bonus: you appear even bigger and wiser to your children for producing play dough right in your kitchen. By the way, they will love to help you measure and knead.

Need a simple play dough recipe? Here it is:

1 cup flour

1/2 c salt

1 tablespoon cream of tartar

1 cup water

1 tablespoon oil

food coloring

Cook in saucepan over medium heat until mixture pulls away from sides of pan and becomes like play dough in consistency. Knead until cool. It will stay soft in airtight container. No need to refrigerate.

For more essentials, check out these blogs from my friends at the TOS Review Crew below:

Laura @ Day by Day in Our World

Julie @ Nurturing Learning

Lisa @ Farm Fresh Adventures

DaLynn @ For the Display of His Splendor

Lori @ At Home: where life happens

Nicole @ Journey to Excellence

Brandy @ Kingdom Academy Homeschool

Meg @ Adventures with Jude

Sarah @ Delivering Grace
5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials


Thanksgiving and Homeschooling

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This time of the year, I reminisce about how, just before Thanksgiving, when my son was one, my heart told me I would homeschool. I did not understand it right then. Hindsight is 20/20. But I should have seen it coming, this desire to homeschool. I should have known it was going to grow and take over my life like few things have conquered me.

You see, five years ago, I scoured the Internet for “Thanksgiving crafts.” I made a list of supplies and bought them dutifully. My son watched me as I printed, measured, cut and pasted construction paper. Of course he could not help. He was one. I made this:

Pilgrim Boy Thanksgiving Craft

Pilgrim boy Thanksgiving craft I made in 2008

A pilgrim boy. I also printed out two Indian children – a boy and a girl – for him to color. Hopefully, they are in the box of early craft projects I decided to keep. My son grabbed the crayon and scribbled all over the coloring page like only a one-year-old can. I felt so proud.

That should have been my first clue that I wanted to homeschool. No preacher or friend pressured me into it. Alas, I don’t read my own heart-directed actions well. At the time, staying home with my child for a few years seemed like the most I could do before running back into the work force. I grew up thinking that exchanging my skills for money was the only dignified way to live my life. Motherhood fulfilled me, but I was programmed to want a career, too.

I discovered that the more time I spent with my son, the less I wanted to leave him. Then, I felt the desire for a second child. We welcomed our daughter and, by then, the little bud, my desire to teach my own, had grown into a plant I could not ignore. And yet, I did. I pushed it to the side, sleep-deprived and up to my knees in diapers and bibs.

The pilgrim boy graced our Thanksgiving table every year. I protected it from chubby hands by placing it on top of a book shelf the rest of the time. It collected dust. I felt it held a secret message, a prediction for the future, but I was not ready for it.

Two years ago, the plant – my desire to homeschool – had become a small tree. God asked me to stop pretending like it did not exist. I researched homeschooling thoroughly. The pilgrim boy craft, with its enigmatic smile, revealed its secret.

I will always treasure this Thanksgiving craft because it was the first inkling my heart gave me that my children have turned a PDA-wielding professional into a craft-seeking, cut-and-paste project preschool teacher. At home. The other grades will come in due time. Wait. Kindergarten already has. We are still at home. I would not have it any other way. This post has been linked to Blog and Tell with @hsbapost Show us your Orange