Educo Learning Center (review)

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew

I’ve been noticing over the past few months that Grasshopper’s current math course hasn’t been challenging him very much. For this reason, I applied to review Educo Learning Center with him. We received a one-year subscription and matching workbook from Educo International Inc. for him to work with. I chose the 4th grade level because that’s where he is developmentally and in his math skills.

As I just mentioned, Educo is a combination online learning center and physical workbook. In order to access the online content, each student requires their own email to log in (separate from the parent email used for the educator dashboard). I used my main email for the parent side and one of my supplemental emails (the one I normally use for newsletters and giveaways) for Grasshopper’s student login. Once your student logs in and chooses the level they’re working on (we only have the single, 4th grade level in our dashboard), you’re taken to the lessons page. There are lots of options on this page. You can have your student take a pre-test or post-test for the entire unit, watch the unit tutorials, download practice sheets (which are basically the workbook pages), and take a post-lesson quiz on each section. I started by having my son take the small quizzes, one per day, until we got to a section he didn’t do so well on. That gave us a good place to start the program.

The tutorials are semi-interactive. You have to click each section before it will start, and rather than being a video lesson, it’s more like a Powerpoint presentation. You have to read the information and click each slide in order to continue. When the lesson is finished, you can have your student work through the workbook pages, or do the digital practice sheets.

In order to open the individual presentations and PDF practice pages, you have to turn your popup blocker off. I found this a bit frustrating, not because it’s a difficult thing to do (just click the “options” at the top of the internet page and allow them for the one specific website), but because the lessons then opened in another window instead of another tab. I prefer to run tabs; it’s easier for my mind to wrap around. I can understand why they might do it in new windows, though – it keeps everything cleaner for a child, and they’re less likely to accidentally click into the wrong tab.

The workbook pages are very good. They match the lessons very well, and they also give plenty of space for the student to write their answers. This is a common problem with math workbooks – they’ll often skimp on writing space because it’s “just numbers,” but little kids have big handwriting! It’s really nice to have a workbook that understands this and accommodates it.

When I asked Grasshopper this morning if he wanted to go back to his old math program or continue with Educo, he said he wanted to switch over to Educo. I wholeheartedly agree with his request – it’s a very complete program!

Make sure to head over to read more reviews from the Homeschool Review Crew.

Blessings,

The NIrV Adventure Bible (review)

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew

Reading the Bible is an important part of the Christian faith, even for the youngest among us. Most versions of the Bible, though, are written for teens and adults, making it difficult for children to understand. You might see a lot of “picture Bibles” available, but those aren’t really Bibles; they’re more simplified Bible-inspired stories with large illustrations for babies and toddlers. Once kids are able to read at a basic level, they really should have a “real” Bible for their own studies, and that’s exactly what the NIrV Adventure Bible for Early Readers from Zondervan is.

We’ve had different NIrV Bibles in our home before. I first learned of this version about 10 years ago, when my teens were young. We had a copy of this version for them to read on their own back then, and they quite literally wore it out. Since they’ve grown up, they have “real” Bibles now, but the younger kids are now getting to where they can read. This new dynamic is what prompted me to ask to review the NIrV Adventure Bible.

NIrV stands for New International Reader’s Version, and like its name implies, it’s a paraphrase of the NIV (New International Version) of the Bible. In this “reader’s version,” the words and sentences have been simplified down to a third-grade reading level, making it super easy for kids to understand. I’ve been using this Bible to read aloud bits of the Old and New Testaments to Dragonfly (6 years old). He was super excited to get his own Bible, and has been asking nearly daily for some reading time.

I really like the NIrV for reading to younger kids. The shorter words and phrases really help it to make sense for young minds. All of the meaning is there, but by using periods instead of commas in places, it it easier for kids to wrap their minds around what is being said. For example, in the NIrV, John 3:16 says

God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son. Anyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life.

Compare this to the regular NIV:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

See how it’s almost the same, but just a little shorter? And the version for young kids has gotten rid of a couple of the words, and simplified “whoever” to just “who,” making it a lot easier for our littlest guys to get the gist of what’s being said without losing any of the important meaning.

I asked Dragonfly what his favorite part of the Adventure Bible was, and he told me that he really likes the pictures. There are lots of full-page illustrations as well as smaller ones sprinkled into the text showing a variety of different things (Life in Bible Times, Words to Treasure [memory verses], People in Bible Times, etc).

Overall, I’m really happy we were able to be on this review. My son is getting stronger at reading every day, and I’m glad he’ll have a Bible to read that he can easily understand moving forward.

Make sure to read more reviews from my colleagues on the Homeschool Review Crew as well.

Blessings,

The Importance of Setting Goals (TRIVE review)

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

Goal setting is an important part of growing up. It really helps you to succeed in life if you have specific things you’re working toward. TRIVE understands this, but they also know that goal-setting is not an easy (or intuitive) thing to do, so they’ve developed a game for teens and adults ages 15 and up to help them learn this vital skill.

TRIVE is a game to be played with a minimum of 4 people, and up to 6. Because of the nature of the game (it’s designed to help you with life, not just have an objective and when you accomplish it you win), players should be 15 and up. You can play with more than six people, but be aware that if you do, it will take longer due to the discussion aspect of the game.

There are three basic steps to TRIVE: Discovery, where everyone comes together to discuss their goals and choose leaders and private coaches from within the group. Achievement, where you split up for six months and work on accomplishing the goals you set for yourself with the help of your coach. And Review, where you come together after the six months is up and see how everyone did.

In order to start the Discovery process, you need to gather your game materials and group together. Choose one person to be the TRIVE leader. This person is responsible for writing down everyone’s goals in a shared notebook (provided with the game) and touching base with group members during the six-month Achievement time. He or she maintains contact with every member of the group to encourage them on their journey, and at the end of the six-month timeline establishes rewards. This person can be a member of the TRIVE or just an overseer of the members.

When everyone gathers together for the Discovery meeting, each person is given a minimum of 3 Goal Cards (there are 50 included in your game) and a pencil (game includes 6). Players need one card per goal, and at the beginning of the meeting they take some time to write down their goals. This can be done with words or pictures and is kept private. When everyone has finished with their goal cards, the game begins.

Everyone’s goal cards are put in a pile in the middle of the table and shuffled. One player then selects a Quotable card from the deck (100 included). Players go around the circle and take turns trying to correctly identify the speaker of the quote. When the quote’s speaker has been identified, one of the goal cards is revealed and players try to determine which person from their group made that goal. When the goal-maker is revealed, they tell why they made this goal and what it means to them. Discussion is highly encouraged during this phase of the game. This process is repeated until all of the goal cards have been revealed and discussed.

Each Quotable card has a point value. When the Discovery round is complete, the person with the most points gets first pick of the other members to be their coach. Selection continues until everyone has a coach. There are two rules regarding coaches: each player can only coach one other player, and no one can coach themselves. At the end of the session, all the goals are recorded in the leader’s notebook. The leader keeps track of this notebook until the review session, which should be scheduled before everyone leaves.

During the Achievement period, participants work toward all of their goals, working closely with their coach and the TRIVE leader. Goals may be modified or changed during this period with the consent of the player and their coach.

When the group reconvenes six months later, coaches take turns talking about their mentees’ achievements. Coaches give their “students” a score in two areas: goal difficulty and goal commitment. There are bonus points given if you complete your goal within the six month time frame. At the end of the Review session, an award is given for TRIVE champion (the player who received the most points for the achievements) and Best TRIVE coach (a vote from the group).

TRIVE is a great way to gather up a family or group of friends who all have the goal of making and achieving goals. It gives a sense of accountability that you don’t often get from just setting the goals. Anyone will tell you that you need someone to help keep you on track if you want to accomplish anything, and with TRIVE you get the benefit of having that someone be a person who’s intimately invested in your success. Their success is your success due to the game nature of this unique goal-accomplishing formula.

Make sure to hit the Homeschool Review Crew website to read more reviews and find out how members used this special game.

Blessings,

Pursuing Gold (book review)

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew

Sometimes, when a review opportunity comes up, the product looks too good not to request. Pursuing Gold by Cynthia L Simmons/Heart of the Matter is one of those. This historical fiction novel takes place during the Civil War, but what makes it special is not just the novel. It’s the economics curriculum that comes with it! Yes, that’s right… it’s an historical novel and the Pursuing Gold: History and Critical Thinking Curriculum. As I was reading about it on Amazon to decide whether it would be a good fit for us or not, I decided that I really wanted Scorpion to read this book and study along with it. It seemed way too cool to pass up. Not only would he get a new viewpoint on the Civil War (history), but he would also get a better understanding of currency and how it all began in America.

Before I get too much further, let me offer you Scorpion’s thoughts:

Synopsis:

When his father dies and his partner is injured, Peter Chandler suddenly finds himself in charge of the C&R Bank. Not only is he in charge, but it’s the middle of an economic crisis. What is he going to do? Peter has only a college degree – not a lick of experience – so he has to join forces with his injured partner’s daughter, Mary Beth. The Civil War rages around them. Political pressure to loan the government unsecured loans of gold pile up. Tempers and prices rise. When Mary Beth finds counterfeit money one day, things are suddenly much, much worse. When the signature on that counterfeit money is Peter’s, things are dire. Will Peter and Mary Beth be able to find the forger in order to save their bank? They must. In their desperation, they turn their focus on God to help them find hope and peace in this direst of circumstances.

Review:

I haven’t read a lot of historical fictions recently, but this one has one of the greatest and most interesting back stories of any. I really enjoy learning the story and with a good connection to the characters.

In this novel, it felt like even though we knew some of Peter and Mary’s history, you still get lost in the story. 

The story did start a little slow, but the first few chapters introduced the elements of the story and seemed to bring you as the reader up to speed in what was happening in the story. With each chapter, we’re carried along with Mary Beth and Peter as they hunt the mystery counterfeiters, and it’s a very good read. I would highly recommend it for anyone who enjoys a good historical fiction, and I’m looking forward to seeing what else this author can do. 

Scorpion seems to be eating this book up. I’ve discovered him sitting in his room and reading it on more than one occasion since it arrived. Five years ago, that wouldn’t have been such a surprise, but he’s less of a bookworm now than he was then, so it’s nice to see him reading – and enjoying – a book again. The curriculum that goes with the book has also captured his attention. I don’t have to remind him to keep up on it. He’s doing exactly what the author suggests and reading a chapter, then doing the corresponding workbook pages. Every few chapters, he brings it out to show me and I’m always impressed with his work ethic.

Even though he hasn’t finished this book quite yet, he will definitely be keeping up with it. We definitely recommend it as a fascinating, unique look at the Civil War. Whether you need a supplemental book for a high school Civil War unit, or something that explores the origin of currency in America, Pursuing Gold is a book you should check out.

Make sure to head on over to the Homeschool Review Crew website for more information and reviews as well.

Blessings,

SchoolhouseTeachers.com (review)

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew

One of the biggest benefits I get as a member of the Homeschool Review Crew is the Ultimate Membership to SchoolhouseTeachers.com a division of The Old Schoolhouse®. I have used resources from this site off and on for years, amongst many of my children, and they never disappoint.

Over the past year, we have focused on two main areas of the website. First, Ballet Boy entered the Virtual Art & Photography Fair last fall. He entered a couple of his photographs, as well as a painting that he made with his now-ex-girlfriend. Because he’s doing a lot of work with his dad, that includes learning how to use Photoshop. This means he’s being given ample opportunity to learn to “spice up” all the pictures he takes, which are mostly for his Instagram account where he does awesome things with his ukulele. He won first place for one of his photographs as well as honorable mention for the painting, and he was really proud of that.

The other thing we’ve spent a lot of time on is 4th grade science with Grasshopper. Together, he and I have been working through the Discovering Disgusting Creatures course. This topic utilizes the partnership with World Books and has reading comprehension question that go along with it. Grasshopper was quite unsure about this class when I told him the name of it, but he’s been loving it. Dragonfly (K/1) has even listened in on some of the books and learned a lot! Occasionally, he’s faster on the comprehension answers than his older brother.

If you need more than just “fill in the gaps” curriculum, SchoolhouseTeachers.com is the place for you! You can get a digital curriculum box for grades K-12 (and there are boxes for Pre-K and parents coming soon!). We haven’t actually used these boxes, but they include quite literally everything you need for homeschooling. If you’re worried about the high school years in particular, don’t be! These digital full-curriculum boxes will walk you through everything you need to do to successfully homeschool your child. All you need is paper, a printer, and basic school supplies. Everything else is planned out for you! If you’re concerned that it’s “not enough,” you can simply add an elective (or two) from the website also to flesh out your child’s school day. Every single subject you need to teach these upper grades is included and all laid out in one place. Math, Literature, Writing, Spelling, Science, History, Art… it’s all there. It really couldn’t be easier to homeschool your high schooler!

SchoolhouseTeachers.com has over 400 different resources for you to use, covering every single grade. You can get access for one family price – not a per child price – which makes it a great value. There’s even a digital storytime each month, which would provide a fantastic opportunity to keep your littlest children occupied and give you some time to get through a more difficult concept with an older child while the baby is busy.

Overall, I’m very glad to be a member of SchoolhouseTeachers.com. But don’t just take my word for it; 37 other members of the Homeschool Review Crew are talking about this website this week. Take a look at what they’re all saying!

Blessings,

 

The Wonder of Creation (review)

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

Generally speaking, my husband prefers us to use the Bible (and only the Bible) for spiritual things. For that reason, I was a little unsure about reviewing The Wonder of Creation: 100 More Devotions About God and Science from Indescribable Kids and Tommy Nelson Books. The difference for me was the science aspect of this book; I was really interested to see how they combined science and faith. (For the record, I think it is absolutely possible to believe in both, so I wasn’t looking for a “gotcha” or the need to feel vindicated on anything. I just wanted to see how the author, Louie Giglio, went about it.)

This book is a lovely, hardcover edition with full-color illustrations (some drawings and some photographs) and covers a wide variety of topics. There are devotions on space, animals, weather, and the ocean (among many, many other topics). We started at the beginning and just read through the book, reading one devotion a couple of times a week. Grasshopper (age 9) did the reading mostly on his own.

Once you get into the actual devotions, you’ll find that they’re mostly science with a little bit of faith thrown in at the end. Each one takes up a two-page spread in the book. There’s approximately one half-page illustration per devotion, and some of them have photographic illustrations to help explain the point also. Additionally, the title of each devotion is nice and big to set it apart from the text. Below that is a Bible verse that the lesson is based on.

Then you get to the meat of the devotion, which is usually about a page, maybe a tiny bit more. It covers a lot of the science stuff, like I mentioned before, and then the last paragraph or so ties that science back into faith. For example, in the first devotion, titled “Get a Little Closer,” talks about how scientists say they know more about the surface of Mars than the bottom of Earth’s oceans. Mr. Giglio, the author, talks about how scientists are working to fix this by sending divers and machines down there to map the ocean floor. He then brings this to spirituality by reminding children that if the only time they meet with God is once a week at church, they might learn some things about him, but they won’t really know him. Just like the scientists need to actually get down into the bottom of the ocean in order to really understand it, people need to spend adequate time with God in order to really know him.

One other aspect in each devotion is the “explore the wonder” section, which is a graphical add-on that has even more science information for students to study. These bits would make great jumping off points for further study, if one was so inclined.

To wrap up, here are some of Grasshopper’s thoughts on his favorite devotion to date, called “The Twilight Zone.”

Did you know that it snows in the ocean? But this snow is made out of dead animals and their poop, so you wouldn’t want to go down and build a snowman. The “Twilight Zone” is between 650 and 3300 feet below the surface. Almost no light gets down here. Because the ocean is part of God’s creation, we should do our part to take care of it.

I think this book is super interesting and it can teach a lot of people a lot of things. The pictures are super cool too.

Overall, we feel comfortable recommending this book. It’s mostly science, so it won’t take the place of your Bible. But it is a nice way to show children that God and science are not mutually exclusive.

Make sure to head over to the Homeschool Review Crew to read more reviews too!

Blessings,

Math Mammoth (review)

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

Math Mammoth is a staple for many in the homeschooling community. I know we’ve used their products in the past, and I’ve been on Maria Miller’s mailing list for a long time. Their workbooks for elementary and middle school students are excellent. Because my fourth son, Dragonfly (6 years old), has been working through only some very basic math in other programs, I decided to request the Math Mammoth Grade 1 curriculum for him. We also received the Math Mammoth Skills Reviews workbook (same grade level), which I’ll talk about later in the review.

Math Mammoth was designed and written by Maria Miller, a homeschool mom who saw some serious learning gaps when she was teaching math at a co-op one day. She decided to use her math knowledge to create a series of books to help parents teach their children in an easy-to-follow and easy-to-understand way. Her Math Mammoth Light Blue Series is a complete homeschool math curriculum available for grades 1-7. You can purchase the curriculum as a digital download, a CD-ROM, or a printed workbook (we received a digital download). Everything you need to teach and have your child practice the concepts is included, and each year is separated into two books (one for each semester). The coursework is designed as a “worktext,” which means it’s a combination textbook and workbook. Everything you need to teach the math is all in the same file as the practice problems. This makes a truly open-and-go product, which is perfect for many homeschooling families.

Because we received a digital download, I was able to easily print out the pages we needed each week. I then hole punched them and placed them into a folder (one of those that you can get for a quarter at Walmart). This kept everything tidy, while also not being overwhelming for my 6-year-old, which very easily could have happened with a giant printed book. Because we worked just a week at a time, he never had to worry about feeling like he wasn’t doing enough each day. (Knowing Dragonfly, he would have easily had that feeling. He is very much an overachiever who hates when he gets a wrong answer or leaves work undone.) I was able to go over the concepts with him and then he could easily work on his own for a few minutes to get the worksheet portion of the day done.

In addition to the Light Blue Series, we also received a copy of the complimentary Skills Review Workbook. This is a product (available in the same formats as the Light Blue series) that offers additional worksheets that you can print when your child needs extra help with a specific concept. Because it’s designed as a supplement, it doesn’t have quite the same level of explanation as the Light Blue series books; it really is just extra practice worksheets. This was also particularly helpful for Dragonfly because he is a memorizer. He is very good at memorization, and simply printing extras of the regular worksheets wouldn’t have worked for him because he would just remember the answers. (This trait of his has made it tricky to teach him to read because he easily memorizes his books after just one read through.) He really needs different problems for additional practice, not just more problems.

If you’re in the market for a new math curriculum, I highly recommend Math Mammoth. The books are reasonably priced considering how much you get in it. There is literally nothing else you need thanks to the instruction and practice being an all-in-one.

What’s your favorite math curriculum for the younger grades?

Blessings,

 

 

Remember to check out additional reviews from other members of the Homeschool Review Crew!

Why We Chose to Homeschool

I’ve been spending a lot of time on Twitter lately (too much time, frankly; I’m thinking of deleting the app pretty soon, at least for a while), and a lot of what I’m reading there is frustrated parents. They’re frustrated because their kids have to wear masks to school. They’re frustrated because the teachers’ unions in a lot of big cities are pushing for N95 masks on children, or school closures. It all seems to revolve around COVID protocols right now, and while I disagree with almost all of the restrictions put in place by the government (at least the one in my state), that’s not the debate I want to take today. Today, rather than push an agenda (something I’m not comfortable doing anyway), I just want to take a minute to discuss why we chose to homeschool our children.Back when Will and I were first married (we’ve been married 21 years now; our anniversary was earlier this month), before we even had kids, we decided that any future children we had would be educated at home. This was quite a bold decision at the time; we didn’t know anyone who homeschooled their kids, and we had both graduated from public schools. But we never, for even one minute, considered sending our children to public schools. Private school wouldn’t have been an option back then due to cost, though I can’t imagine we would have entertained that thought either. We were young, but even with our inexperience in life we knew that sending our kids to government-run schools wasn’t an approach we wanted to take.

It started with Will’s younger sister. She’s six years younger than him, and was still in high school when we got married. When she graduated three years later, in 2004, we had a casual conversation with her. I don’t remember the details on how the conversation meandered, but somehow the year 1776 came up. She had no idea, as a recent high school graduate, what the significance of that year was. If I could pinpoint the moment we decided to homeschool, that was it. We did not want our children to be able to “successfully complete” high school without having such basic knowledge. Now, nearly 18 years later, our priorities have shifted a little, but not much. We don’t care so much if our kids know the ins and outs of every aspect of American history (although a working knowledge is required). But we do want them to have a more well-rounded education than they’d get in public school. Will, being an entrepreneur, is especially insistent on this, and I support him wholeheartedly. It’s vital to us that our kids know how money works and how to run a successful business. It’s important for them to be able to take over his business one day, and in the meantime, for them to be able to run related businesses underneath his umbrella as they get old enough. They wouldn’t be able to do that with a public school education. Public schools are designed to create people who are willing/happy to be employees. We want better than that for our kids – we want them to thrive in life, not just survive.

(Also, our governor recently signed a law prohibiting schools from forcing kids to prove competency in reading, math, and language to graduate. So kids can literally graduate high school in our state without knowing how to read. That’s unacceptable in our family. They don’t have to like reading, but they have to know how. Same with math.)

So, in a nutshell, that’s why we homeschool. What are your reasons?

Blessings,

Winter Break: Yes or No?

This is a time of year when a lot of families are getting ready for Christmas. There is so much to do, so you might logistically need to have the time as a parent just to get all the baking and card sending and decorating and shopping done. Additionally, if you have a public school background like I do, you might feel obligated to give your kids a break for the holidays. If they have a lot of friends in public school, they likely want to spend time playing with them during the days while they have the opportunity.

Or you might fall on the other side of the spectrum. Maybe you don’t celebrate Christmas. Perhaps you’re Jewish (or fundamental Christian) and you celebrate Hanukkah instead. Maybe you’re not religious at all so you opt out of the holiday. Or maybe you have some other reason you’ve chosen not to celebrate, regardless of what that might be.

Perhaps Christmas doesn’t play into your plans at all, whether you celebrate it or not. Maybe you had some sickness or took a vacation earlier in the year and you need to make up the school hours now. These are all perfectly valid reasons for skipping out on the winter break.

So which is the right answer? Like all things related to homeschooling, that depends entirely on your family and your circumstances. Personally, I can’t imagine not taking a winter break! We do a “light Christmas” since we switched to focusing more on Hanukkah 2 years ago, and even though that holiday is over for this year already, we will be taking a winter break.

If you opt in to taking a winter break, the next thing to decide is when and how long will you take off? Like the decision to take a break at all, this is a very personal decision amongst families. I think 2 weeks is pretty traditional, but I’ve also heard of homeschool families who take the entire month of December off. Another option would be to change gears in the lead up to Christmas and focus more on the holiday itself in your studies. There are dozens of ways you can go about doing this. Maybe do a unit study using the Bible as your guide? Create a lap book if your children are interested in that. I just read an idea earlier to day from one of the leaders of the Homeschool Review Crew who told us about how she and her family took the “secret Santa” concept to a new level. They each draw someone’s name, and then spend the month of December doing special things for their recipient. This can be as simple as doing one of their chores for them or more complex like making them a gift. But all the things are to be done in secret. When you’ve done a service for the person, they leave a paper heart on the other’s bed so they know they’ve been blessed. On Christmas Eve, they reveal one another and have a lovely celebration acknowledging all the blessings everyone had received over the month. What a lovely way to serve your own family during this time!

If you decide not to take a winter or Christmas break, know that that’s okay, too, though. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that either!

Blessings,

Arts and Crafts in Homeschool

Art is a very important part of our family. Will draws comics and does graphic design for a living. Ballet Boy is learning to play guitar and ukulele. I knit and crochet. Scorpion makes animations. The younger kids draw and color all the time. Let’s talk a bit today about incorporating arts and crafts into your homeschool – or just taking what your kids are already doing art-wise and turning it into valuable lessons.

First of all, even though arts and crafts are often bundled together in people’s minds, they’re not the same thing. A craft is something that a student (usually a young child) makes to certain specifications. Crafts are usually part of a larger lesson (think about what children make at VBS or Sunday School). Art is – or at least can be – a lesson on its own. Students are still creating, but they’re doing so in a more free form manner. Even if all the kids in the class are drawing the same bowl of fruit, it’s more about the students’ expression than it is about completing the project exactly right (with the possible exception of a still life, but that’s a conversation for another day).

With those definitions in mind, let’s dive in. We don’t actually do many crafts in our home. Because of all the art-mindedness going on already, we tend to focus more on the things that will help our kids have an art-mindset rather than just gluing some macaroni onto a sheet of paper. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that – there’s absolutely not – but it’s not what we do.) In fact, we don’t really even do much organized art at all. It’s just sort of ingrained in our kids and we encourage it. All of our kids have started drawing from the time they could hold a pencil (or crayon), and as long as they’re drawing on paper, we support it. (We actually went through quite a difficult time with Bumblebee, who’s 3 now, where he was drawing on the walls. That was horrible, but thankfully he’s been the only child of ours who ever did that and he’s outgrown it now.) At a certain point, we move them over from loose leaf paper to sketch pads to contain the mess, but outside of that we just let them have free reign to draw whatever they want. This method teaches children that they can create whatever they want. Their only limit is their imagination! There is no right or wrong way to “do art,” and that’s probably the most important lesson to teach in my opinion.

What if you’re more comfortable with crafts than art, though? That’s totally fine! Kids can learn from doing specific crafts just as much as they can by drawing or painting, even if the lessons are a little different. In crafting, children learn how to follow instructions and how to be more precise in their creative endeavors. If they don’t cut that house panel out just right, it won’t fit into the other one to make their 3D house stand up properly.

If you don’t like having a specific art lesson each day (or even weekly, or biweekly), then how about incorporating arts and crafts into another lesson? Unit studies are a fantastic way to do this! A lot of pre-fab unit studies will have ideas for making art to go along with the lessons. Here are a few examples of ways you can add a simple art lesson to another, more mainstream course.

Literature/Reading:

Have your child/children draw an illustration for the book they’re reading, taking care to choose a scene that doesn’t already have an illustration.

Science:

Using supplies found around the house, even if they’re not traditional art supplies, create a model of whatever they’re learning about. (We did this a few years ago with Scorpion and Grasshopper where they made edible models of a cell.)

History:

Write and perform a play based in the time period you’re learning about.

Math:

Create their own manipulations to help master a tricky concept.

What are your favorite ways to incorporate art into your homeschool? Do you do specific art lessons, or do you prefer to use art as a supplement for other subjects?

Blessings,