A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Thin Stix from Kwik Stix


We had a fabulous time trying out Kwik Stix regular and their metalix and neon paint sticks last year.  These are easy art supplies that we reach for over and over.  So when the opportunity came up for us to try the new Thin Stix, we couldn't wait to get our hands on them!


If you're familiar with regular Kwik Stix, you know that they're mess free tempera paint in a tube similar to a glue stick.  They're easy to use, and the paint dries super fast on paper.


We've been working on making a dinosaur book, and Hannah used the new Thin Stix to create the cover for it.


The kids used our Thin Stix to make dragon pictures for Chinese New Year.


They like the ability to add greater detail to their drawings with the thinner sticks.  Hannah's got a warrior, a hanging lantern, and a fire that the dragon lit on her picture.


Kwik Stix are great for kids of all ages.  We've used them with preschoolers through teenagers.  The colors are vivid, and do not fade.  I like using them myself for classroom posters and instructional aids.


We even used our Metalix Kwik Stix to put gold rims on our Chinese lantern decorations!


One of my sons is away at boot camp, and my girls send him cards of encouragement.


I love the way I can set out construction paper and Kwik Stix and then step back and watch the creativity flow!




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Sunday, January 29, 2017

Arts and Crafts in Our Homeschool


I have a confession.  I wasn't very good about art when my big kids were little.  Not "I wasn't good at art."  I wasn't good about letting them do art.  I'm still not good at art, but I'm a lot better about doing it than I used to be.  This week, we're talking about the arts in Virtual Curriculum Fair.

A huge part of that is that I mellowed out as I got older and had more kids.  I used to be so uptight about stains that we rarely even pulled out markers.  Now, Katie regularly leaves bits of cut up paper all over the school room, as she has free access to that dreaded art supply:  scissors.


Another factor in the 1000% increase in our homeschool art is that we changed how we homeschool.  We used to be workbook schoolers, and art was a treat that only happened if all the work was done.  In switching to more flexible (and more interesting) curriculum, art was incorporated.  I was all about checking the boxes, and since art was a box, it got done.  Somewhere along the way, I fell in love with doing art, and began to even add in "unassigned" art projects and crafts.


Our family has been richly blessed with the opportunity to review several art programs, and it has been a great experience for us.  Doing a review forces me to really get into a curriculum, and it has opened up a whole new world for our homeschool, and introduced us to fun new art supplies.


I'd like to share some of our favorite art programs with you.

ARTistic Pursuits Early Elementary book 1 - this is where we discovered the magic of watercolor crayons!
ARTistic Pursuits Early Elementary book 2 - where we worked with gold leaf and spackle.

Drawing Unto Him - a high school drawing program

See The Light Repeated Sweets - DVD lesson
See The Light Tiffany Window - DVD lesson

Home Art Studio - review of Second Grade DVD.  I liked this program well enough to buy 3 more DVDs.  As we come to the end of our current one, I need to decide whether to go forward and buy the 5th grade DVD, or backward and add the first grade DVD to our collection.  The projects appeal to a really wide range of ages, and I think we'd be fine with either.


Art Achieve - online video lessons with a printable "warm up" to help with the drawing
Atelier Homeschool Art/Arts Attack - We got a sample membership from filling out a recent homeschool survey, and we did our first lesson today.  It's another online video lesson style curriculum.


Art In History is another favorite.  AIH ties in nicely with historical studies or literature studies.  Or how about that time we made wooden shields?

Another way to incorporate art is to bring it on field trips.  Nature studies lend themselves to drawing plants, of course, and there's also that time we took our sketchbooks and colored pencils to the zoo.

Art supplies can be inspiring all on their own, without being part of a program, too.  We're big fans of Kwik Stix, and we've had fun trying out paints and more paints, and papers and brushes, too.  Even bottle caps can be the springboard for a fun craft.

We've also taken local art classes, both through the (now defunct) homeschool co op, and from a (formerly) local art teacher.

Finally, blogs and Pinterest can be great sources of inspiration for art projects and crafts.  Our Spring Flowers project was inspired by a "fireworks" art project I saw online.

Not making the time to do art with my older kids is one of my biggest homeschool regrets.  I'm glad I had the chance to make different choices with my younger kids.

Now I invite you to visit my fellow homeschool bloggers who are talking about seeking beauty in their homeschools:

Links will all be live by Monday at 12 noon EST.
Living & Loving Art by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
Putting the Fun in School by Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays
Art Fun In Our Homeschool by Amanda @Hopkins Homeschool
Fine Arts Is The Fun Part by Laura @ Four Little Penguins
Washing Dust Off Our Souls by Lisa @ Golden Grasses
Bringing Beauty Into Your Homeschool Through Poetry by Dana @ Roscommon Acres
Seeking out the beauty... by Kim @ Good Sweet Love
Joy in Home Education by Sarah @ Delivering Grace
Teaching Drawing (When You Can't Draw) by Lizzy @ Peaches At Home
Homeschool Art for the Artistically Challenged by Brittney @ Mom's Heart
Jesus, Peace, Freedom & Our Homeshool by Meghan W @ Quiet In The Chaos
Fine Arts Options in High School by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool
Reluctant Artist? What do you do? by Annette @ A Net in Time
Making Fine Arts a Priority by Lisa @ McClanahan 7
Creative Pursuits by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break
Arts and Crafts in Our Homeschool by Shecki @ Greatly Blessed
Where Do You Find Beauty? by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens
Looping our Beauty Topics Saved our Homeschool by HillaryM @ Walking Fruitfully

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Saturday, January 28, 2017

Our Week with Cookie Science


I can tell we're getting our groove back when we are doing enough schoolwork to get back to art projects.  It feels good.  


This week we finished our Chinese New Year craft.


The kids painted roosters, then wrote 2017 on one side, and their name on the other side in Sharpie.  Both sides got a coat of Mod Podge to make them shiny, then we used satin cord and Chinese coins to make hangars.


The finished rooster ornaments.


I swear, I can't set my phone down for an instant.


 Bri cut her hair this week.  It's all one color again.


The kids were complaining that their science section in their binders were too full, so now they each have a science binder and an "other" binder.


Speaking of science, we finished our book!  We're going to spend the rest of the year using up all the science kits around here.


Miss Katie is getting close to finishing her phonics book 3 from when we reviewed Jolly Phonics.


The first science kit we're working on using up is Moon Dance from Groovy Lab in a Box.  We learned why Neil Armstrong's footprints are still visible on the moon.


Although Earth has erosion from wind and rain, the moon does not.  The kids had fun drawing in the sand and blowing on their drawings to watch them disappear.


We did 2 Atelier Art videos this week.  The project first was turtles.


Katie was supposed to be doing math while the other kids watched the video, but it appears that she was more interested in art, because after naps, when she had some free time, she drew a turtle, too.  (All the guys are catching the turtle.)


More hands on science!


This time, talking about how the moon affects the tides.


Our second art video had the kids painting a wandering black line and then filling all the sections in with colors.


These turned out neat, but the black watercolor was not as bright as the other paints.  I suggested they might like to go over the black line with a big black Sharpie.


Speaking of using things up...  I printed this book for last CNY and never used it.  This year, Katie colored all the Chinese zodiac animals and we read the cute story in the style of "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?" together.


When our science kit mentioned moon phases, I knew I had to do the Oreo thing.  I went on Pinterest to find directions, and found some printable worksheets.  I ended up not going with the first worksheet I printed because it labeled the phases of the moon differently than our science booklet did, and I didn't want to confuse the kids.  So I found one that used the same labels and printed that.  When we were about to start, I realized the cookies would leave grease spots on the worksheets, so I laminated them.


The kids had a great time, and hopefully the hands on project with help them retain the concept of the waxing and waning moon.  (Jack and Hannah started lunch by eating the cookies on their placemats, and Katie got the cookies I made by putting leftover scraped off frosting between "lids.")  Surprisingly, none of the cookies broke!

Unfortunately, we started our Chinese New Year with sickies in the house.  Hopefully this bug will be short lived and we can get back to our regularly scheduled fun stuff soon!


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Friday, January 27, 2017

Flower Girl World books #readyourworld


I'm excited to be a part of Multicultural Children's Book Day again this year!  You can read last year's post here.


We were matched up with the book Starr and the High Seas Wedding Drama, but in chatting with the author, she decided to also send us Iris and the Aloha Wedding Adventure.  These are books 2 and 3 of the Flower Girl World books by Lynelle Woolley.  Book 1 is Rosie and the Wedding Day Rescue.  There's also a picture book, for kids 4-8, Camellia the Fabulous Flower Girl.


Hannah loves to read.  She was excited to have not one, but two new books to dive into!


Starr and the High Seas Wedding Drama was her favorite.  She liked the part where the girls made up a quiz about how you know your BFF as part of their scheme to break up the potential bride and groom.  This story was set on board a cruise ship headed to Mexico, and there are bits of Spanish sprinkled throughout.


She also enjoyed Iris and the Aloha Wedding Adventure, which is set in exotic Hawaii.  Especially where the girls are chasing the Menehune.  What are Menehune?  You'll just have to read the book and find out!

Hannah likes these books because they're fun stories; as a mom, I like these books because they're a respectful introduction to other cultures.  These chapter books are at a 3rd grade reading level.  Hannah, who is 9, finished each book in a single day.

I look forward to checking out the other books that will be linked up!  Last year, we found a couple new favorites because of this link up.

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/17) is in its fourth year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom.

Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.

Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day holiday, the MCBD Team is on a mission to change all of that.

Current Sponsors: MCBD 2017 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board.
Platinum Sponsors include Scholastic, Barefoot Books and Broccoli.
Other Medallion Level Sponsors include heavy-hitters like Author Carole P. Roman, Audrey Press, Candlewick Press, Fathers Incorporated, KidLitTV, Capstone Young Readers, ChildsPlayUsa, Author Gayle Swift, Wisdom Tales Press, Lee& Low Books, The Pack-n-Go Girls, Live Oak Media, Author Charlotte Riggle, Chronicle Books and Pomelo Books
Author Sponsor include: Karen Leggett Abouraya, Veronica Appleton, Susan Bernardo, Kathleen Burkinshaw, Delores Connors, Maria Dismondy, D.G. Driver, Geoff Griffin, Savannah Hendricks, Stephen Hodges, Carmen Bernier-Grand,Vahid Imani, Gwen Jackson, Hena, Kahn, David Kelly, Mariana Llanos, Natasha Moulton-Levy, Teddy O'Malley, Stacy McAnulty, Cerece Murphy, Miranda Paul, Ammi-Joan Paquette, Annette Pimentel, Greg Ransom, Sandra Richards, Elsa Takaoka, Graciela TiscareƱo-Sato, Sarah Stevenson, Monica Mathis-Stowe SmartChoiceNation, Andrea Y. Wang
We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

MCBD Links to remember: MCBD site: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/
Free Multicultural Books for Teachers: http://bit.ly/1kGZrta
Free Kindness Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/teachers-classroom-kindness-kit/


Free Diversity Book Lists and Activities for Teachers and Parents: http://bit.ly/1sZ5s8i Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use their official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.


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Thursday, January 26, 2017

China Trip: Meet Silas


Today, I'd like to introduce you to Silas.


Silas is a healthy 10 year old boy.  He has only been at the orphanage since 2014.  His referral states that the name the orphanage gave him means they hope he will thrive happily.


Silas is a quiet, well mannered boy, who seemed bright and capable.


He waited patiently when we needed to wait, whether at the park or at a restaurant.


It was a treat to assess Silas.  After assessing kids by asking them to copy a circle or a + sign with a crayon, Silas wrote his name for us in Chinese characters.  He read aloud for us from a book.  His referral states he can add and subtract.


Shannon gave him a Lego set so we could see his fine motor skills.  Obviously, they're perfect.  He spent the next 20 minutes or so putting it together, following the picture directions step by step.


Even when we interrupted him for silly things like reciting poetry, he was good natured and compliant.


His special need is listed as development delays, which means an interested family should be prepared to advocate for him to have an IEP in school, but he's a lovely boy.  He has a $3,000 grant toward the fees for his adoption.  Please let me know if you would like more information about shy Silas.



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