Tag Archives: art

Fun in the Fall

Fall is my favorite time of year, and it always goes by way too fast. If you’re like me, and the new school year of lessons, projects, and activities have kept you busy, here are a few ways you can take a moment (or a day) to step back and enjoy the season with your children:

Crafts:

My kids love crafts – and I do, too! While you may have thought of doing leaf rubbings, here are a few sites with even more ideas:

Family Fun – On this site, you’ll find thanksgiving cards, a leaf mobile, and more great ideas for fall.

Busy Bee Kids Crafts –  Crafts on this site include an autumn tree collage, pumpkin lollipops, a paper bag scarecrow, and apple stamping.

The Crafty Crow –  with links to other craft sites, at The Crafty Crwo you’ll find directions for creating a leaf picture alphabet, melted crayon autumn leaves, a plastic bottle owl, and marbled shaving cream autumn leaves.

At Danielle’s Place, you’ll find plenty of turkeys for Thanksgiving, including  several paper plate turkey and a turkey potholder.

 

Picture Books:

When the weather becomes a little cooler, it’s the perfect time to snuggle up together with a good picture book. Here are a few of our fall favorites:

Time to Sleep by Denise Fleming

Fall Leaves Fall by Zoe Hall

Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert

In November by Cynthia Rylant

Countdown to Fall by Fran Hawk

 

Our family also has a few favorite activities we love to do year after year. They include: pumpkin picking, apple picking, attending fall festivals, having backyard picnics, and flying kites. This fall, we’re also going to explore a corn maze and cook up some yummy desserts. What does  your family  do to celebrate fall?

Art Contests for Kids

 

There are a lot of art contests for kids online, and homeschoolers are encouraged to enter them as well.  Our school days at home are fairly relaxed, so contests provide some healthy structure to our work. By participating in a contest, children have a definite goal a deadline to meet. They also recognize the need to present their very best work, even if it means re-doing something that’s already completed. If they win, they experience the thrill of victory, and if they don’t, they learn how to take defeat in stride to try again another day. They learn, as Henry Ford stated, that “failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.”  (Love those “failure/success” quotes!)

If you’d like to encourage your child to enter an art contest, here are a few to check out:

  • Constitution Day Poster Contest – This contest for ages 3 -12 celebrates the U.S. Consitution. Children are to create an 8 ½” x 11” poster showing how they have benefited from the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. A fun and creative contest, but you have to hurry – the deadline for submitting entries is October 1.
  • Teachers Against Prejudice is sponsoring an art contest for students in grades 1-4. The theme for the artwork this year is “Sharing Cultures.” Entries must be submitted by October 15.
  • This is My Math Art Contest sponsored by McGraw-Hill is for students in grades K-5. Young artists are to illustrate “What math means to me” and enter their work by October 29.
  • NRA Youth Wildlife Art Contest – Have a wildlife artist in your family? If she’s 18 or under, she can enter this contest with her best drawing or painting of an animal. The deadline is November 1.
  • Smilemakers Pearcasso Art Contest – If your child likes to play with his food at mealtime, this may be the perfect contest for him! Artists ages 5-18 are to create their artwork with pears! Entries must be sent by November 15.
  • Decide to Drive Poster Contest – For students in grades 5-8, this contest focuses on the importance of driving without distractions. Entries must be sent by November 15.
  • Frogs are Green Art Contest – Kids ages 3 – 12 are invited to enter this contest focusing on green living. The deadline for submissions is November 30.

A Little Help, Please

Tomorrow is our first official day of co-op, when all four of my children will have classes to attend. We joined the co-op two years ago, and it’s worked out well for our family. We’ve found friends there who could help us with our homeschooling adventure, and friend whom we could help out as well.

When we first started, my oldest son John was entering the eighth grade and my youngest was starting kindergarten.  While I still felt fairly confident about teaching the eighth grade curriculum, I knew I would have less time to spend with him now that all of the kids had lessons to do. His classes at co-op consisted of Geography and Physical Science, and he did well in both. He learned how to manage his time, keep up with assignments, and study for tests. The next year was even more challenging as he took Geometry, Biology, and World Literature.

This year, as he enters the tenth grade, he’ll be taking Algebra II, Chemistry, and American Literature. While I can help him with his homework, I’m not certain I could see him through the math and science courses successfully. But fortunately, there are other moms who can.

Part of the requirement at our co-op is that at least one parent from each family takes on a role, whether its in teaching a class, organizing activities, or helping clean up the facilities. This year, I’ll be teaching two writing classes and an art class. I love to edit the students’ papers and try new art projects, something that isn’t easy for some moms. So while we’re receiving help in some areas, we’re able to give help in others.

If you’re not part of a co-op but are overwhelmed with so much to teach, here are a couple of things you can try:

  • Contact other homeschoolers in your area and find out what their interests or strengths are.  Ask if they would be interested in teaching a class in a home or at a local church. You could either pay the teacher or perhaps trade off by teaching another subject yourself.
  • See if there are any upper level high school students who would be willing to tutor your child in a particular subject. Often high schoolers can do the work but charge a much lower rate than a traditional tutor.

We’ve homeschooled all of our children since kindergarten, but I’m not sure if we could have done it alone. So if you find yourself needing some assistance, don’t hesitate to ask. As they say, we can all use a little help sometime. 🙂

Creative Collages

This year in our co-op classes, I have been teaching a senior high art class. We’ve worked on some interesting and challenging projects, but as the year comes to a close, I wanted to do some things that would be a little less time-consuming and really fun. One of those projects was creating collages.

The best part about collages is that children (and adults!) of any age can do it. Here’s what you’ll need to make your own:

  • Canvas (we used stretched canvases, 11″ x 14″)
  • Acrylic Paint (we used craft acrylics)
  • Paint Brushes
  • Sponge Brush
  • Cup with Water to clean brushes
  • Paper Towels for clean up
  • Newspaper for covering the table
  • Modge Podge (found at craft stores)
  • Items for a Collage: old game pieces or playing cards, coins, beads, dried or pressed flowers, fabric or lace scraps, old CD’s, words cut from magazines or newspapers, magazine or calendar pictures, old photos, silk flowers or leaves, broken crayons or pencils, dry pasta or rice, flower seeds, twigs, feathers, etc.

To create the collage:

1. Make a plan!  Help your child decide on a “theme” for his collage. The theme could be anything: animals, dogs, cats, space, nature, holidays, music, scouting, etc.  For example, one of my students created a collage with a meadow theme using dried flowers; another did a Biblical theme using a favorite scripture.

2. Paint the Canvas — Using the acrylic paints and paintbrushes, give your collage some background color. You can also paint the edges of the canvas for a finished look.

3. When the paint is dry (you can use a hairdryer to speed up this process), arrange the items you’re using for the collage on the canvas. Decide where each one will go.

4. With your sponge brush, dip into the jar of Modge Podge. This product works both as a glue and a varnish. Put some on the underside of your item and place it on the canvas (for larger, 3-dimensional items, you will need to use more). Then add more to the top, especially items that are very thin, such as pressed flowers or paper. Although the Modge Podge will appear white or cloudy, it will dry clear.

5. Go over the rest of your canvas with the Modge Podge for a uniform, glossy look.

That’s it!  Let it dry for a day or so (depending on how much Modge Podge you used), hang it on the wall, and enjoy!

Contests for Kids

Last fall, three of my children entered a local art contest, and all of them won a ribbon! As part of their prize, each won a ticket to the local children’s theatre, and we were finally able to redeem them last night and see a musical together. What fun!

 Many organizations offer free contests for kids to enter, and children can learn some good lessons by participating. Not only do they have a project they need to finish well, but they have to complete it by a certain time or deadline. They develop their skills through the process, whether it’s art or writing, crafts or photography. They learn to be gracious if they win, and they learn how to deal with disappointment if they don’t. And through it all, they learn that to succeed at anything, they first have to try.

 If you can’t find any contests for kids in your local community, check out the ones available online. Here are a few with upcoming deadlines to get you started:

 ART:

SHADE Foundation Poster Contest – This contest is for children in grades Kindergarten-8th. Participants enter a 8 1/2” x 11 1/2” poster featuring five sun-safety action steps. The deadline is April 1.

Animal Rescue TV Art Contest To enter this monthly contest ,children draw or paint their favorite animal. For kids ages 16 and under.

Look and Learn Art – Based in the United Kingdom, this is a monthly international contest and is open to children ages 18 and under.

State Fish Art Contest – This contest is for students in grades 4th – 12th. Entrants draw or paint a state fish and include an essay about the habitat and behavior of that fish. The deadline is always March 31.

National Geographic Kids posts contests from time to time. Keep checking the website for updates.

WRITING

PBS Kids Go Writing Contest for children in grades K-3. Check with your local PBS station for rules and deadlines.

Kids are Authors Writing Contest – Sponsored by Scholastic, this contest is for students in grades K-8 to encourage them to use their reading, writing, and artistic skills to create their own books. The deadline for 2011 is March 15.

Is Your Artist a Perfectionist?

At our co-op this year, I’m teaching a senior high art class. This is the first time in a while that I’ve taught older students, and we’re having a lot of fun with the projects. The purpose of the class is to show the students different techniques for drawing and painting and to introduce them to new types of media. Hopefully in doing so, they’ll find something they enjoy doing as a creative outlet, whether or not they pursue art in the future.

Recently, a comment was made that got me thinking. After working with oil pastels, one of the students stated that he really didn’t like anything he drew. This reminded me of my own 12-year-old daughter who, after participating in numerous art classes in my home, has sworn off art forever. Both students are perfectionists, and if the image on the paper doesn’t appear like the one they envision, they are unhappy with it. My daughter will even say that she’s wasted her time in drawing the picture.

But it’s never a waste of time. Every time you try something new, you learn something — you work your brain, you dip into your creative abilities (latent though they may be), and you grow as a person. And drawing, just like any other skill, takes time — it takes know-how and practice to become proficient. Why do we assume we should be able to create a great drawing just by picking up a pencil? True, some people are so gifted they can do that, but the rest of us need to work at it, just as we need to work at learning an instrument or learning how to crochet. Would we expect someone to build a house without first learning how to use the tools?

If you have a child who’s a perfectionist and become discouraged about art, remind him that drawing and painting are skills that he can learn. Then set it aside for a while, but encourage him to try other creative avenues (my daughter is currently involved in scrapbooking and really enjoying it). He may come back to art, or he may not. But either way, he would know that he could.

How to Read a Painting

Yesterday, we took a field trip to an art museum for a special class on “How to Read a Painting.” The program, which lasted just under an hour, went very well; I learned a lot, and apparently, my children did too. Even my shy six-year-old raised his hand and answered questions correctly.

The class focused on two of the main elements in art: line and color. The teacher presented some good ways to remember what each one symbolized. As she spoke, examples of several famous paintings were presented and discussed.

Wide, vertical lines, the children learned, are like a tall, straight soldier; they demonstrate strength and stability.

  • Horizontal lines remind us of someone sleeping or laying down; they represent peace or rest.
  • Diagonal lines are the lines formed by a body moving quickly, such as when someone is running. Diagonal lines, then, represent action.
  • Curved lines are similar to those formed by a ballerina when she dances, so those lines show movement and warmth.
  • The instructor then told the children about another line they can’t see — an implied line that is formed when a person in the painting is looking at something or when light is streaming down on an object.

After discussing lines and figuring out what the artists were trying to express, the instructor then told the children about color and what the colors often represent. She pointed out that the meanings of some colors have changed over time, even to the point of representing complete opposites. Yellow, for example, used to convey betrayal; today, however, it depicts friendship. Some of the others discussed included:

  • Blue – for loyalty or sadness
  • White – for purity or mourning
  • Red – for strong emotions
  • Green – for growth

The instructor also made a point of stating that not every artist follows these painting “clues” — some depict things exactly as they see them, some choose lines and colors just because they like them, while still others make up their own meanings for line and color.

The talk concluded with a self-portrait a student had created using only lines and color — a piece that, though it didn’t look like her, represented who she was and how she viewed herself. It was a fun way to apply what we learned, so I know what we’ll be working on today… 🙂

That’s So Beautiful!

A couple of weeks ago, I taught an art class at a local craft store. The class involved step-by-step painting in acrylics on canvas; first I would paint something on my canvas (the sky, the grass, etc.), and each person in the class would paint the same thing on their own. The class consisted of both children and adults.

One student in particular, a fourth or fifth-grader, made quite an impression on me. It wasn’t because of his skill or finished product, but the comments he made throughout the class time. Every so often, I would go around from person to person, look at their work, and see if they needed any help. Every time I came to where he was sitting, he would say, “That’s so beautiful!” Then he would paint something else, and say it again.

His painting didn’t quite follow the one I was doing. I had a bright blue sky; he made his a night sky with yellow dots for starts. Mine had three flowers; his had three flowers of another color and a berry bush. And every time he took a step back to look at it, he would say, “That’s so beautiful!”

A few days later, I told my friend about this student. “Wouldn’t it be neat,” she said, “if we all encouraged ourselves in that way? What if we said, ‘Good job washing those dishes!’ or ‘What a great job you did with the laundry!'” We laughed, but we both agreed — that would certainly change not only the atmosphere in the home, but our attitudes as well.

I’m not sure exactly what the student’s parents did to foster such a sense of accomplishment and appreciation in their son; perhaps it’s just his personality. But one thing’s for sure: he was a joy to teach and have in class. And his painting really was “so beautiful!”

Gesture Drawing

This fall, I’m teaching several art classes — some in my home and one at our homeschool co-op. This week, we worked on drawing a still life, a project that included lessons in proportion and shading. To get the students warmed up and focused, however, we did a quick activity before working on the main pieces — a very quick activity. The students created some gesture drawings.

Gesture drawing is the name given to the quick sketches an artist creates of a particular subject — sketches to capture the mood, feeling, emotion, or movement of the subject. The sketches are created as a series of overlapping (often circular) lines without any erasing — no changes can be made once a line is on the paper. These drawings are done quickly; depending on the subject matter, one may spend as little as 10 seconds drawing a particular object, while more difficult compositions may take five minutes or so.

The purpose? This style of drawing helps to literally “loosen” up an artist; no erasers can be used to make corrections, and the artist is encouraged to draw quickly and freely. Gesture drawing is also aids in sharpening observation skills as the artist must focus all of his or her attention on the object.  Here’s how we did it:

I found a number of objects to use from my kitchen, some symmetrical, some not. The objects included mugs, syrup bottles, bananas, pears, cooking utensils, and toys (yes, we have toys in our kitchen too!).  I placed one object in front of each student, then provided them with a piece of scratch paper on which to draw. I gave them all a pencil but no eraser. They then had 30 sections to draw the object they were looking at.

We all found out that thirty seconds goes by very quickly when one is drawing. Next, I had everyone pass their objects two people to the left. We then spent another 30 seconds drawing the second object. We followed this procedure two or three more times. I even had them try drawing the object while looking only at the object and not at their paper at all.

The best part of all — you don’t  even need an art class to try this fun activity!  You can do it together with your children around the kitchen table, and everyone can create a gesture drawing (or two or three). You’ll find it’s good practice for everyone — and a lot of fun!

Why Take an Art Class?

This past week, we started back with our co-op classes. Instead of teaching the younger elementary students, though, I’m teaching classes to middle school and high school students, and one of those classes is Sr. High Art. As I introduced the course, I asked the students why learning how to create art is important.

At first no one answered my question — I wasn’t sure if they were just shy, or if they just didn’t know. Finally, someone said, “Because it’s fun.” And that’s a great reason. For many people, creating art — whether they are working on a two- dimensional piece such as drawing or painting, or whether they’re making a three-dimensional carving or sculpture — is very enjoyable. It can be a way to escape the stresses of the day and concentrate on something else for a while.

And there are other reasons. Art encourages children to use their imaginations — to do more than sit and watch a television show or video game. Also, the arts often help children develop a their self-confidence and self-esteem, as students can look with a sense of pride at something they created themselves.

Since our co-op is a Christian co-op, I shared with my students yet another reason for taking the class: sometimes the arts can reach people with the message of the Gospel when logic and reasoning cannot. Half of the people in the world out there are  logical thinkers, who want to hear something that’s black-and-white, cut-and-dried. The other half, however, — those creative-type thinkers, may identify more with the images and emotions conveyed through the arts. I can remember so many times I have been moved by a painting, a song, or a melody.

God, as the Creator, is the greatest artist of all — and he’s created us with an appreciation for beauty along with the desire to create beautiful things. And we can do that for His glory — what better reason could there be for taking an art class?

Photo by mindexpansion