Throw Darts at Water Balloons Full of Paints!

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A splittery, splattery explosion of color on canvas. Trust me, it’s fun!

You’ll need: A large, pre-stretched canvas (we got ours from a discount store for about 5 bucks), water balloons, string, tape, acrylic paints in various colors, gesso (or white acrylic paint), a chunk of cardboard about the size of the canvas, and DARTS!  *Note: you can also use washable tempera paints and water to fill your balloons, and the balloons fill much easier. If you use the tempera, you will fill water bottles (the kind with the little “sport” sipper lid) with a mixture of half tempera and half water. The balloons fit right over the sport sipper and are easy to fill. We had lots of acrylics and went for the more difficult filling method, but it is your choice!

Step 1: Prepare your canvas by coating it with gesso (or give it a coat or two of white paint). You could also paint it black and use neon colored paints in the balloons. Artistic choice! We went for white.

Step 2: Fill your balloons with paint. This is the most difficult part of the process as it is not easy to get the paint into the balloons. I filled ours right at the kitchen sink and it was fine. There are various ways to accomplish this task, but I found that taping a piece of a drinking straw tightly onto the hole in the lid of the pain bottle worked fine. Hold the balloon firmly to the straw (airtight) or the paint will squeeze our all over.(See *note above if you are using tempera paints). With both methods, stretch each balloon a few times before filling.  Balloons should not be overfilled or they can pop!

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Step 2: Cut lengths of string and tie onto the balloons.

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Step 3: Tape the strings to the back of the canvas so that the balloons hang on the front of the canvas.

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Step 4: Set up your canvas outside, where you don’t mind a few paint spatters. I recycled a pizza box for the cardboard and pressed it into the back of the canvas, to catch the points of the darts. The darts will make holes in the canvas but no worries. Put another piece of cardboard underneath, and in back of the canvas if you want to catch all of the splatter.

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Step 5: Throw darts!  Self-explanatory! Go ahead and yell each time one pops!

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You can see the dart flying through the air here!

There are no other photos because I was having too much fun to bother! Captain and I enjoyed this project so much. We took it to the charter school and managed to talk the head honcho into letting us do it with a class. It really is fun!

That’s all for now. Have an explosively colorful summer!

Cheers, Karen

Categories: Art Projects, Family fun, Homeschooling Projects | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

DIY Gorgeous Paper Beads!

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These beads turned out beautifully, and are surprisingly sturdy and authentic.  Ooh, the possibilities are endless with color, texture and design. Recycle paper-scraps into wearable art!  For our next session, we are planning to use deep reds with some funky patterns!

IMG_3367Materials Needed: paper, ruler, glue, paintbrush, skewer (or thin dowel), mod-podge, scissors (or paper-cutter).

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Step 1: Measure at 1-inch intervals down the long side of the paper.  Do the same to the opposite side.

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Step 2: Using your ruler, Draw a line from your first tick-mark to the second on the other side. Make the next line up to the next tick-mark, forming a long, skinny triangle. Continue to neatly zig-zag across your paper. Cut along the lines. Each triangle will be one bead, so make as many as you like. *This would be an awesome project for a group. Imagine forming an assembly line and making enough beads for necklaces, bracelets and perhaps a few gifts?

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Step 3: Pour some glue into a little bowl and add a tiny bit of water to thin it. Using a paintbrush, cover one side of a triangle.

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Step 4: Place skewer at the wide-end of your sticky triangle.

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Step 5: Roll it tightly, all the way to the end. Slide the bead off and set it to dry.

Step 6: After the beads have dried completely, coat them with glossy mod-podge to seal them and give them some shine. Allow to dry while admiring how cool they turned out! I found that the easiest way to dry them is to string them and hang them up. *Design idea: before sealing the dried bead with mod-podge, you can use a super fine sharpie to add some tiny, elegant details if you like. “The sky’s the limit” when it comes to possibilities to make your own unique jewelry. If you are doing this project with kids, they will come up with plenty of ideas on their own!

Below you will see an example of the “recycling” we did for our first bead-making project. We dyed eggs before Easter and wanted to find a use for all that leftover dye. We put heavy paper on a rimmed baking sheet, splashed the watery dye on it, and it dried to a nice color.

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You will not regret trying this project. It is fun and so satisfying to make your own beads!

Wishing you all a colorful and recycled day!

Karen

 

Categories: Art Projects, Homeschooling Projects | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Easy, Colorful Abstract Art Project!

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Everything starts from a dot.” ~ Vassily Kandinsky

Greetings art lovers!  The project presented here is fun and easy for persons of all ages. It fits nicely with ongoing abstract art lessons, or for a splash of color on the wall. I highly recommend an introduction to the Russian artist, Vassily Kandinsky! For older students, there are many wonderful online lessons if you google the artist, or simply “abstract art projects”. For younger students, we recommend recommend checking out the The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art by Barb Rosenstock. This is the story that inspired Captain, aged 7, to obsess about finding “a forever wooden paint box”… and she did!

Materials Needed: Watercolor paper (or other sturdy art paper), wooden craft sticks with indents (inexpensive and found at discount and craft stores), black tempera paint, watercolors and various paintbrushes.

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You can teach about abstract art before beginning this project, or just go for it!

Squirt a healthy portion of the black tempera onto a palette or plate. Invite students to use the craft sticks to apply lines, circles, swipes and smears onto their blank paper. Introduce the term “intersecting lines” and encourage them to create closed spaces with the intersecting lines to fill with color. The sticks can be used flat, on their sides, as stampers, or with 1/3 of the stick broken partially in half.

Allow the page to dry thoroughly.

Use the watercolors with minimal dilution (not too much water so the color is strong) and fill the spaces with color. Playing “colorful” music can really fill out the mood and be inspiring. Jazz anyone?

Dry thoroughly, sign and date the bottom, and enjoy your work of abstract art!

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I want to thank the creative lesson-planners at Dick Blick Art for the idea. There are some great art lessons and ideas on their site!

Wishing you a colorful day,

Karen

#straightupprojects

 

Categories: Art Projects, Homeschooling Projects | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Science Project: Make a Working Model of Archimedes’ Screw!

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A perfect use for recycling two-liter plastic “soda” bottles!

Building an Archimedes’ Screw model to lift popcorn is fun!  How about planning to watch a movie about ancient Greece, or Egypt, to celebrate?

Archimedes’ screw, also called the Archimedean screw or screwpump, is a machine historically used for transferring water from a low-lying body of water into irrigation ditches. Water is pumped by turning a screw-shaped surface inside a hollow pipe. This simple and amazing machine is the invention of Archimedes of Syracuse, and came to be in the 3rd century BCE.

The way it works: The Archimedes’ screw is basically a positive-displacement pump. One end of the pump is placed in a low-lying liquid source and then tilted up into a tank, or other suitable location.  Can you imagine how useful it would be, in ancient times, to be able to move water?  To move the water upward, the screw is rotated and as it moves, it scoops up water and raises it.  Genius!

The main difficulty that we encountered in doing this project with a 7-year-old was in glueing the paper disks neatly.  Use a strong, tacky glue and you will be fine!

Materials Needed: 1 clear plastic, two-liter bottle with cap, 1 wooden craft dowel (about 12 inches long), a sheet of heavy craft paper or scrapbook paper, strong glue, a tack and sharp scissors.

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Step 1: Using scissors, or a sharp knife, carefully cut the bottom off of the plastic bottle.  (Set it aside and challenge the kids to repurpose it into something fantastic, if you like!)

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Step 2:  Using a permanent marker, draw on a triangular shape, as seen below, and carefully cut it out.

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Step 3: Trace and cut out six circles that are barely the diameter of the bottle (they need to fit snugly into the bottle, but not so tight that they won’t turn when the screw is assembled.

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Step 4: Make a hole in the center of each of the six disks.  Make one cut toward the center of each disk, as shown below.

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Step 5: Glue the slit-edge of one disk to the opposite side of the slit on another disk.  It is hard to describe, but not too difficult to accomplish.  As you are gluing, you will see how a “screw” is being formed when you pull it gently from the ends.  Continue gluing all of the disks in this way.  USE A NICE STRONG GLUE! Let dry.

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Step 6:  Carefully push the dowel through the center holes.  Glue one end (as seen below), stretch the screw a little, then glue the other end.  Let dry.

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Step 7: Push a pin, or tack, through the top of the cap.

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Step 8:  Assemble.  Be sure that your glue is completely dry before assembling!  Put the dowel/disk into the bottle and screw the cap on, pushing the tack tightly into the bottom of the dowel.

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Voila!  Holding the dowel, put your screw down into a deep bowl of popcorn and turn gently.  You are lifting a substance without using electricity.  Fun!

Archimedes’ screws are still used in parts of the world today.  Draining water out of mines, lifting wastewater in treatment plants, lifting granulated solids such as coal and grain, irrigating agricultural fields without electrical pumps, and even to lift water at the Shipwreck Rapids water ride at Sea World in San Diego, California.  Archimedes’ screws are being used in England to generate electricity, and competitors for the 2012 London Olympic Games trained on a canoe course in which the pumps were used as both pumps and generators on an energy neutral course.  Some are even found in chocolate fountains!!

This invention is an example of a sustainable machine that has proven its worth over the test of time.  It uses only minimal amounts of energy from a renewable source and can continually operate.  Cool!

I hope you enjoy this project and would love to hear of your results!

Cheers!  Karen

 

 

 

 

Categories: Homeschooling Projects, Science Rocks For Kids! | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

DIY Magical “Frozen”-Inspired Silly Putty!

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Yes, it is even cooler than it looks!

Greetings! After a long absence, we are back in full force with an awesome activity for all of your little “Frozen” fanatics (and science buffs!) Welcome to FROZEN-INSPIRED SILLY PUTTY 101!

You’ll Need:

1 bottle clear school glue (147 ml)

Same amount of water (147 ml)

1/2 teaspoon of borax (from laundry aisle)*Note: borax can irritate some people’s skin so you can encourage hand-washing after playing with the putty.  Captain and I are both sensitive to skin irritants and neither of us had any problem at all, if that helps!

1/2 cup hot water

Blue and silver glitter

Blue food coloring

Safety glasses (optional, but good for keeping borax dust out of eyes and makes kids feel very “Scientist” like)

Celsius Thermometer (optional, but great for adding a little extra “science”)

2 bowls and two spoons

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Method:

Step 1: Pour entire contents of glue into a bowl.

Step 2: Fill same glue bottle with water and add to glue.  Stir until well combined.

Step 3: Add a few drops of blue food coloring and stir well.

Step 4: Add some sprinkles of glitter and give another good stir to mix.

Step 5: In a separate cup, add 1/2 cup of hot water.  *(This is where I had Captain use her thermometer to make a note of the water temperature.  Good practice in reading a thermometer and recording data)

Step 6: Add 1/2 teaspoon of borax and stir until dissolved.  (Explain that borax is dangerous to eat or to get in eyes.  Practice practical science-experiment safety!)

Step 7: Pour the borax/water mix into the original bowl of glue and water.

Step 8: FUN!! Stir until well combined. OOH, it transforms into the most magical putty! The color is gorgeous and the texture is delightful!

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Getting excited!

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Mixing the glue, food coloring and glitter

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It is so much cooler than these photos show!

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To wrap it up, Captain made some notes in her science journal.  This putty, and all silly putties, slimes and goops, are classified as “Non-Newtonian fluids” and we are enjoying learning some of the basics about these fluids by experimenting with recipes.  This is our favorite so far!  I would like to thank the groovy mums at  pagingfunmums.com where I got the recipe. This project is so easy and SO WORTH IT!

Good magical blue thoughts,

Karen

Categories: Homeschooling Projects | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

DIY Masking Tape & Leaf Luminaries!

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All you need is some fat masking tape, a ball jar, leaves and a tea light!

Happy Thanksgiving to all! We are having a little Thanksgiving up here in the mountains, with just the 3 of us, and Captain took charge of the table decorations. She came up with a terrific idea for luminaries and they look so darned cute that I thought I would share the creative workings of my lovely 7-year-old!

You’ll need: masking tape (2+ inch depth works best), fresh or dry leaves (or pine needles, cedar needles etc.) a ball jar, a piece of string and a tea light.

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Use the string to measure the circumference of the jar.

You will cut your masking tape strips a little longer than this to overlap around the jar to secure it.

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Lay out your strips of masking tape, sticky side up, overlapping them a little. We used a very old roll of tape that did not unfurl easily.

A perfect use for that old, extra sticky tape!

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Press your leaves on!

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Wrap your jar right up!

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She did a second one with cedar needles. Leave areas of the tape free of needles for the light to shine through.

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As Captain says, “They look kind of cool and funky in the daylight!”

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I recommend a LED tea light for fire safety. Pretty simple and sweet! Captain is doing it all this year with decorating and helping to cook. I am so proud of her. No one really wanted turkey so we are stepping outside of the norm and having a stuffed pumpkin with rice, veggies, cream and spices, some greens and an apple pie. I can’t wait!

Filled with love and gratitude and wishing everyone a lovely T-day!

Karen

 

 

Categories: Art Projects, Family fun | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

Poetry Lesson For Kids: Learning About Robert Frost

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Visiting the gravesite of Robert Lee Frost!

One of the best parts of homeschooling is the gift of being able to take time to delve into the world of the arts. We typically choose an artist each month to study, although we take breaks when other projects consume our time and energy. We have danced beautifully through the worlds of van Gogh, Vermeer, and Monet, to name a few. This month Captain was drawn to poetry and we are focusing on the life and works of Robert Frost and are finding inspiration and a great love of the work so far!

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Robert Frost is one of the most famous American poets, and very cool to learn about for kids! He first became interested in writing poetry when he was in high school and published his first professional poem when he was 20. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Literature four different times and his work has had an impact on people all over the world.

One of the reasons that his poetry is so popular is that he used a simple, descriptive language that people can easily remember and understand. Robert Frost is an excellent choice for introducing poets and their poetry to kids. Captain and I unexpectedly found ourselves back in the northeast for a few weeks and were fortunate enough to take a trip to Bennington Centre Cemetery in Old Bennington, Vermont to visit the gravesite of Robert Lee Frost and his family! We took photographs and used both crayons and oil pastels to make rubbings of the gravestone on large pieces of white paper. It was such a neat experience!

*On a side note, I think that making grave-rubbings at cemeteries in general is a wonderful idea for a variety of history projects. All you need are fat crayons with the paper peeled off, or oil pastels, large white “butcher” style paper. Lay the paper flat on the surface and rub away. They turn out beautifully!

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Karen & Captain’s Robert Frost Poetry Project:

Step 1: Get your information together to talk about the famous American poet, Robert Lee Frost! I printed information from the following two links to use:

Ken Nesbitt’s Poetry 4 Kids

Wikipedia, Robert Frost

It helps to have a book of Frost’s poetry on hand, or go online, or print several to read.

Step 2: Read 1 or 2 poems out loud.  Invite the kids to talk about them. Ask questions. This does not have to last long, or be an intense “learning moment”, just enjoy the sounds of the words and see what comes up naturally! I read Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening first and it had an amazing impact! I also recommend Nothing Gold Can Stay.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

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Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf,
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day
Nothing Gold can stay.

Step 3: Read about the poet’s life. Have 4 or 5 facts that you can help the child remember by repeating the information. For example, after talking about Robert Frost’s life, I brought it up at dinnertime and retold the facts at the table, and Captain jumped in to add what she remembered. It works!

Step 4: Invite the child  to write a poem of their own! You can encourage them to go outside for inspiration in nature, and (optional) you can offer to be their scribe so that they can let their words flow freely. Let them know before they begin that it is okay to just spew out any words or phrases because the poem can be edited later, or left exactly as it is. I like to explain that “editing” does not mean that the poem is “not right”, but that it is a little like doing a puzzle.  Once you get the pieces down (the words or phrases), the poet can then rearrange, or change, their work a little bit later to make the words flow like feelings.  If appropriate, encourage them to use adjectives, or “describing words” in their poem. For example, “a big tree” might become “a big, looming oak”.  This is a lovely quote to share:

“Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words” ~Robert Frost

Captain wrote a lovely poem titled Ripples in the Water. It is absolutely gorgeous and I am very proud of her!

Step 5: When the poem is completely finished, whether the same day or at a later session, the child writes the final draft in their own handwriting. A piece of white cardstock is nice if they would like to illustrate their work of poetic art. If they can type, it is nice to type it also, using a pretty font, and make copies to share with family and friends. Cool!

Step 6: An optional, but wonderful and empowering, practice is to memorize a Robert Frost poem to recite for family and friends. Siblings could share lines too. Captain fell in love with Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, and has been practicing reciting it all day today, to the tune of rain splattering on the roof.

Karen’s Artist-learning Tips when studying about any particular person, and their works, in the world of the arts:


1. In addition to learning the facts, take on an art project! When learning about Vermeer we did a project using oil pastels, baby oil and cotton swabs, for van Gogh we did a Sunflowers joint-compound, cardboard and acrylic project etc. If you need ideas or inspiration, check out Pinterest for kids projects and also one of my favorite sites: That Artist Woman.

2. Make some food or drinks related to the time period, or area, of the artist being studied: Think Monet= try some French cheese or Robert Frost= maple syrup popcorn!

3. Listen to music: If learning about a Russian artist, try some music of the area, or perhaps play a style of music that would have been popular when Leonardo da Vinci was roaming the hills of Italy…

There is so much more to learn over the month, but I wanted to share what has been successful, and inspiring, in our world of poetry. Thank you for reading and I wish you all a lovely autumn, filled with deep thought, golden falling leaves, and hope. Always hope.

Cheers! Karen and Captain

#kidspoetry #robertfrost #poetrylesson #straightupprojects

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Categories: Art Projects, Homeschooling Projects | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

The $4.99 Gift for Creative Kids

We absolutely LOVE the Melissa & Doug picture frame pad. Kids’ drawings, paintings and stories look so cool framed! Captain and I highly recommend this inexpensive pad of 12 different frame designs, and there are 48 sheets so there are a lot to go around. The paper is heavy weight bond so it is great for a pencils, markers and crayons, and it works well for acrylics too. Kids (or adults!) can watercolor on this paper too, but we tend toward heavier paper for that purpose.  The pages are large, tear out easily, and they really spark the imagination. There is something about a fancy frame that excites kids into creating masterpieces of their own.

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 Captain’s drawing of the Gokstad, a Viking ship excavated in Norway

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In this project, Captain learned  about Galiceno horses, wrote about them, and created a watercolor. She chose the oval frame so we cut a piece of watercolor paper to fit the oval and she painted it. I added lines to the picture frame sheet so that she could add her words and then we attached the oval watercolor over the top with a fastener. The painting slides open to reveal her information. It’s very cool! This method would work great for a variety of learning projects. 

Simple, inexpensive and pretty darned cute. The pad is big and sturdy and filled with juicy, creative potential. It would make a fabulous gift for kids, in fact, Captain is giving one to a friend for her birthday and told me she could afford to pay for it herself :)

Cheers! Karen & Captain

 

Categories: Homeschooling Projects | 5 Comments

Fabulous Van Gogh “Sunflowers” project!

IMG_0874Foam board, cereal box, joint compound, paint and beads. Captain’s “Sunflowers” project turned out beautifully!

This is a straight-up awesome project by Gail Bartel of That Artist Woman. If you haven’t checked out her amazing art site, I highly recommend it! Through the link you will find her informative instructions. We like to choose an artist to learn about, read books and look at artwork, and then follow it up with a project. This is one of the most impressive we have come across so far!

You’ll Need: Substrate or piece of sturdy foam board, cereal box or other recycled cardboard to cut the shapes from, joint compound, acrylic paints, glue, acrylic spray sealer or mod-podge, green paper, and some little black beads to add texture to the little sunflower centers. Be sure to have an image of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers to look at for reference while working on this project. I recommend a simple book called 13 Artists Children Should Know by Angela Wenzel and Mr. Nussbaum for information about the artist and his works.

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Put a blob of joint compound on the board and using a scraper, knife or tool of choice, spread it around. Let dry for a day or so.

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Paint the background with acrylic paint

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Draw out a vase and flower heads on the cereal box and cut them out. More details on all of these steps can be found at That Artist Woman.

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IMG_03631.jpgAfter the pieces are cut out, they will also be covered with joint compound to give them texture. Let rest until dried.

IMG_0364 Here’s the fun part! Each piece is painted, dried and glued onto the board. Strips of green paper will be used for the stems. Be sure to follow Gail’s advice and arrange your composition first before gluing everything down. The flowers and stems will be glued on first and the vase goes on last to keep it tidy and also make the stems appear to be coming up from the vase. IMG_0865 The final detail is to glue some little black beads into the flowers centers. After everything is dry, an adult can spray the entire piece with clear acrylic spray, or coat it with mod-podge. IMG_0874 We so enjoyed this project and it is such a lovely way to explore art. Captain is proud to have her version of Vincent Van Gogh’s Sunflowers adorning our wall. This project is a Kartwheels Keeper and I would love to hear about your experience if your little art student gives it a go! Cheers and sunflowers, Karen

#straightupprojects

Categories: Art Projects, Homeschooling Projects | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Nature Journal Ideas For Kids!

image Greetings everyone!  Summer is in full swing and we have had a lot of fun getting a nature journal together for Captain. “But aren’t kids supposed to be on summer vacation?” you might ask. Of course! But, keeping up with handwriting, creative thought, science, some math (but don’t feel you have to mention that!), language arts, sketching, poetry, leaf-rubbings, collecting soil and other samples, and learning about a favorite naturalist is fun! A summer nature journal is a great idea for any kid, but because Captain home schools, she doesn’t spend much of her year sitting in a classroom. Learning, and adventure, doesn’t stop in June. This journal, even if it never is completely finished, is going to be a terrific keepsake of summer childhood and an excellent addition to her portfolio of home school projects. I’d like to share some of our ideas here. Thanks for reading! The first thing you will need is a notebook dedicated to the natural world. I looked at a few nice pre-packaged journals online, but decided to make one for Captain that addressed her level of science and interest. Any notebook will do, but we absolutely LOVE the Smash Eco journal that has lots of wonderful pages with scrapbooking pages of trees, birds, clouds etc. We simply print and glue prompts and pages into it. If you like the Smash Eco book, I included a link at the bottom of the post. It sells for about 9 bucks because it is kind of fancy.  Again, a simple blank-page notebook will work nicely too! IMG_0689

IMG_0708I needed something that Captain could collect little nature samples into and came across a bunch of old lanyards with I.D. holders and they work GREAT! As she works in the journal, she can collect her samples and keep them neatly hanging around her neck. So far she has filled her little pouches with madrone bark, butterfly chrysalis, a dried beetle, some dried pond weed and some dried pine sap. Cool!

IMG_0706 Ideas and prompts: 1. Have some blank pages for taking leaf prints. I have a couple of colors of standard ink stamp pads on hand. This is an ongoing activity.  Basically, whenever she comes across a cool leaf, she rubs the veiny back onto the pad and presses it on. Include name of leaf and date. 2. Collect 10 samples throughout the summer and identify them on a list of the “Top 10”. Small ziplock sandwich bags work as sample collectors as well. 3. SKETCH, SKETCH, SKETCH! I included 7 pages that the little naturalist can use to sit outside and observe nature. I typed up a little sheet (and printed 7 of them) that asks the questions: What do you see? What do you smell? Are there any clouds? If so what shapes are they? Are there any birds? What color is the sky? What else do you see, or feel, around you? Include space for sketching. Encourage kids (with your help) to include the date, and often, the time of day on their sketch pages. This is good practice for scientific protocol! image 4. Fold and cut a few pieces of waxed paper to slip in the back for pressing plants and flowers. IMG_0709 5. I made up a little booklet to learn about honey bees. Here is the link to the document if you would like to print one for your child’s journal:  All About Honey Bees IMG_0699 IMG_0700 6. Learn more about a particular naturalist! I gave her a prompt on one of her journal pages to choose someone interesting to study about.  The choices included John James Audubon, Charles Darwin, Rachel Carson, Jane Goodall, John Muir and Edward Wilson. She chose Edward Wilson because he probably knows more about ants than anyone in the world. We looked him up online and read about his life and work and printed a small picture of him to include. She wrote a few facts down and enjoyed it. IMG_0707 7. Here is the link for a nice “Conifer Observation Sheet” to include which includes taping a sample, sketching and measuring. IMG_0703 8. I took the opportunity to include two poems for Captain to memorize and recite (for the first time!) and it was highly successful! The first poem, called “Trees” by Harry Behn is a summer poem and she has been reciting it for family for a month now. The second is a fall poem that we will do at the end of summer. Here is a link for poems at the grade 3 level, but you can also find ones that are grade-specific. IMG_07019. I included a nice worksheet for labeling The Water Cycle from Enchanted Learning. IMG_0702 10. Grab some paint sample cards from your local paint store, punch a hole in the top corner and tie with some twine. These cards can be used to look for colors in nature that match or to sketch on. IMG_0691 11. I gave a prompt-Challenge asking “what is one thing you can do to be an excellent citizen of the world?” We discussed what being a citizen is (of the world, North America, The United States, California, Sequoia National Forest… basically breaking it down…) It was a nice prompt. Captain wrote “Pick up trash. If people just leave trash for a long time the forest wouldn’t be a good place to live for animals and people. I am a citizen of the world!” IMG_0696 11. Write a poem! I prompted with a page that read: “Being with nature can be inspiring! Try writing a simple poem outside today. Use lots of describing words to express what you see, smell, or how your special outdoor place makes you feel”  Captain wrote a lovely poem about ants. Because I didn’t want her flow to be interrupted by trying to spell words or fumble with her pencil, I asked her if she would like me to be her scribe. She rambled and I wrote it all down for her on a scratch paper. She changed and edited as she wanted to and then copied it into her journal. Her creative flow was much juicier as she had someone to write for her. She was so proud of her poem that she didn’t mind copying it into the journal herself. I highly recommend writing for your kids in this way! 12. Have a page to record the sunrise and sunset times for an entire month. We used a piece of grid paper to keep track for the month of July. Why? There are some good benefits of this easy observation. Kids will clearly see how the days are getting shorter, and scientists do a lot of recording of data for analyzing too. It is good practice!

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13. Throw in a little space! Learn about the phases of the moon, current meteor showers, or planets in our solar system. 14. Have a page dedicated to sketching and writing about a life cycle of the child’s choice… butterflies, turtles, etc. 15. A blank page with the prompt “Draw a local map. Include trees, buildings, rocks and any other natural landmarks. Include a compass rose!” 16. I took a cookie recipe that I found from the Whole Foods website http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/oatmeal-coconut-and-sunflower-seed-cookies and taped it into the journal. I typed up a little sheet that asked Captain to list 3 of the ingredients, followed by listing 3 properties of those ingredients. For example, for the ingredient “flour”, she listed as properties: silky, white, edible. I also included a little sheet for her to trace each ingredient back to its source. For example: dried coconut flakes—– comes from a coconut fruit—— comes from a coconut palm. When it comes time to make the cookies, have the child measure and mix everything. Food science is fun! 17. I slipped a little brown envelope into the journal that has stuff to make a nature necklace: a piece of hemp twine, a bit of thin wire (to wrap around a rock etc.) and a couple of fasteners. She certainly didn’t need me to tell her how to put it all together! 19. After a lengthy discussion about how if dinosaurs went extinct, and we really don’t know how many species actually walked the earth, then couldn’t other plants have gone extinct that we will never know about? This concept really captivated my kiddo so I included a prompt to “Imagine a fruit-bearing plant that might have grown on earth in the time of dinosaurs. Sketch and describe your plant and fruit. Include the size of the plant, the fruit, and what the fruit would have smelled and tasted like. Sketch your plant and fruit!” She really enjoyed this!

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IMG_0690 Kids love real science equipment. I gave Captain this little science “vial” to collect a soil sample to view later under a microscope. I filled a “back to school” pencil pouch to keep her official science gear in: a compass (see link below for the one I recommend), some small vials and baggies, a magnifying glass, tweezers, a bit of twine etc. She loves it and it encourages her to use her gear. IMG_0693

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I hope that you are all having a lovely, nature-filled summer! Cheers, Karen

Categories: Homeschooling Projects, Science Rocks For Kids! | Tags: , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

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