Monday, October 20, 2014

Meanwhile, in October

October has been so busy for me!

We've been a little quieter here on the blog, but that's because I've been writing everywhere else this month!

Here is where I've been:

Some of you may not know, but my oldest daughter, Monkey, has ADHD tendencies, which makes getting through the school day difficult sometimes! I guest posted in Sallie Borink's 31 Days of Learning Differently series about the struggles I have had as a parent learning to accept the differences! 

On Busy Being Jennifer this month, I wrote about a super-easy handmade scarf gift for the men in your life!

At Homeschool with Purpose, I wrote about 15 ways to make cooking with your kids more educational and fun!

At Tutus and Tea Parties, I wrote about 8 ways to make Halloween special at home if you aren't as big into costumes, trick or treating, or scary events.

And super-relevant to us today: I wrote about how to keep tots occupied while you are trying to homeschool the older kids at The Natural Homeschool!

I was also interviewed by The Proverbial Homeschooler, and you can learn all kinds of things about us in the interview! 

I'm also going to start writing for To The Moon and Back once a month starting in November, so look out for my posts there, soon!

So, there you go! That's what I've been up to this October.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Teaching Art to Kids: Easy Ideas to Get Started

I am a creative person, but I am certainly no artist.

I don’t have trained artistic skills or the mathematical eye for balance and design that real artists appear to have. The art that I teach in our homeschool is based around my personal artistic limits.

Right now, we don’t follow much of an art curriculum. We use some of the lessons in Artistic Pursuits, which helps me see the kinds of art styles out there so that I can introduce them to my children. Artistic Pursuits is a good jumping off point, but it doesn’t include technical lessons or a lot of creative art play for teaching art to kids.

*This post contains affiliate links.*

Exploring Art Creatively with Kids

When I was growing up, we didn’t have a TV until I was a teenager. This forced me and my siblings to find different avenues of fun. When I got too old to really play with toys, I turned to art instead.

Over the years, I collected a variety of art supplies and had a lot of fun creating various projects. One Christmas, I made everyone in my family paper folders (a super-fun thing to receive, I am sure). Another year, I constructed a doll house and car garage for my siblings made from cardboard boxes.

My mom placed no limits on what we could do creatively, and almost no material or project idea was off limits. I even spray-painted a piece of furniture in my room on my own once. I didn’t prep the piece, and it was almost a complete disaster, but my mom never scolded me for trying the project.

I want to allow Monkey and Bo the same license to be creative in our home. I am a little more of a control freak than my mother, which makes it hard for me to allow the girls to do things on their own. However, we have collected a variety of resources that they are allowed to experiment with on their own. Every so often, in addition to the exploration of different styles and mediums that we do with Artistic Pursuits, I also give them another resource to experiment with.

Here is what is in our artistic toolbox:

Art Toolbox for Toddlers

  • Crayons (I like the ones with the plastic sheaths that twist so Bo cannot break them).
  • Pencils
  • Varying textures of paper (a glitter paper was of particular interest)
  • Play and cloud doughs
  • Bits of fabric
  • Beads, bits of ribbon, buttons, and pieces of nature (like sticks and leaves) Bo is not allowed to play with these without supervision.
  • Watercolor paint
  • Small canvases

Art Toolbox for Elementary Kids

Tips for Coming Up with Art Ideas

I used to be pretty bad at thinking up art ideas, but that was before I realized you can use almost anything for teaching art to kids.

For example, one project that Monkey did with her grandmother (she has an art degree) used a variety of kitchen tools to create patterns on a canvas. Monkey used bubble wrap as a stencil, a spatula as a filter, and sponges to make a fun mixed-media canvas.

You don’t have to be gifted or a professional artist to come up with fun art ideas for kids. I find Monkey and Bo have the most fun when I let them use their own creativity.

Sometimes, I provide prompts like, “see if you can fill in the whole page,” but often, I give them no instruction at all.

If you want a little more guidance, trusty Pinterest will have everything you need. Here are some of my favorite art boards:

More Ideas for Teaching Art to Kids

Friday, October 3, 2014

Costume Ideas for Sisters: 4 Book Themed Costumes for Girls

If you don't know already, I am a huge book lover. My other site, Daily Mayo, is all about book-related things. One of my goals for teaching my daughters is to instill in them a healthy love for books. I think I am doing all right so far, since Monkey said her favorite book was thesaurus and one of Bo's first words was "book." 

We don't usually do much in the way of costumes, but at AWANA, they have a costume day each year just for fun in October. For this, we like to dress up and have fun, but since it isn't that big of a deal, I would rather put together costumes that are inexpensive or that I can make from the girls' existing clothing. 

This year, I thought it would be fun to see what easy book-themed costumes I could come up with for sisters. The following four sister costume ideas all pull their inspiration from books. 

The best thing about these costumes is you can probably pull them together using only items from your daughters' closet, or find them inexpensively at a thrift shop. As a last resort, you can use the Amazon links I've included for anything you are missing. All links are affiliate links, FYI. :-)

Anne and Diana

Book Inspiration: Anne of Green Gables  



Beezus and Ramona

Book Inspiration: Beezus and Ramona



Rubina and Sana

Ivy and Bean

Book Inspiration: Ivy and Bean



All of these costume ideas for sisters would be the perfect last-minute costumes for any costume party or dress-up event!

If you dress up as any of these ideas, share your pictures with us on the Schooling a Monkey Facebook page!