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Sketch Tuesday 21/09/2010

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Having agreed with the boys’ request to do some art every day, I was very excited to find out about “Sketch Tuesday“. I originally found out about this from this post on Nadene’s excellent homeschool blog, Practical Pages, and thought it sounded just the job. Our first assignment was to sketch “something with whiskers”. Gman chose to draw a tiger, and Waif quickly followed suit. Here they are at work on their pics:

g with whiskers
r does whiskers

And here are their completed drawings:

something with whiskers - r
something with whiskers - g

I even had a go and drew this slightly odd looking rabbit:

something with whiskers - v

If you hop (teehee) on over to Harmony Mom’s post here you can see the album of people’s sketches on this theme. The front cover is Gman’s tiger and very proud he is too 🙂

This week’s assignment is “something that floats”. Watch this space!

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Favourite Art Books 14/09/2010

Posted by snoozerider in book reviews, home education, kids craft.
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In the Snooze Academy, art always wins the homeschool day! The boys find it relaxing and rewarding and we all learn a lot along the journey. We get a lot of ideas for art projects from websites and blogs (and always link to these when we do) but also use books and these are a few of our current favourites:

fave art books

Discovering Great Artists

This is an excellent book for finding out all about some of the greatest masters in the art world with one or two projects for each artist. They are graded by ability, by time taken and use a variety of techniques and materials, so great for ideas for using all the different art materials we seem to be constantly accumulating! It is a little short on illustrations of what the “finished product” might look like, but in some ways that is a good thing.

What’s the Big Idea?  Activities and Adventures in Abstract Art (Art Explorers series)

We used the Impressionist version of this book extensively when Gman was doing his impressionist lapbook earlier in the year. We also have editions on Expressionist Art, Pop Art and Surrealism. They are all fabulous, fabulous books! Each artist is introduced by a section showing a piece of their work followed by questions about the piece which really get the children properly looking at and thinking about the picture. Then there are a couple of different projects for each artist with very clear instructions and pictures of the completed work by children of various ages. We recently did some “Picasso faces” using this book as a springboard:

rafes picasso facewaif working on picasso facegmans picasso facegman does picasso face

I cannot recommend this series of books highly enough. They really are excellent.

Drawing Lab for Mixed Media Artists

Drawing Lab for Mixed Media Artists is our new favourite art inspiration book. This book isn’t aimed at children but there are a lot of ideas in it that could be used by kids.  There are 52 different “labs”, each giving a starting point for drawing.  They are light hearted, fun and whimsical, just what we like :-).  To get an idea of the sort of thing included in the book, check out the author’s blog, especially the assignments and tutorials down the left hand side.

The Lighting of a Fire or Two 09/09/2010

Posted by snoozerider in days out, environment, home education, sewing.
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mmm...marshmallowmarshmallows on firerafe blows on mallowwhoops, the popcorns on firegman blows out flamin mallow

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. – William Butler Yeats

Well, forest school is drawing to a close.   Tomorrow is the final session.  It’s been a great experience for the boys who have learned how to use various tools (secateurs, loppers, bow saw); collected firewood; whittled sticks to make marshmallow skewers; fashioned cups from apples and oranges; built dens; created nature pictures using blackberries and raspberries as ‘paint” and of course, learned how to light a fire and keep it burning!   The experience has hopefully been a fire lighting one in the sense that Yeats refers to above 🙂

Continuing with a woody theme, we attended the Party in the Woods at Reffley Woods last weekend. Gman was particularly taken with a drumming workshop held in small clearing in the woods. He banged the drums while Waif shook his thang:

gman bangs the drums
waif shakes

I’m not sure how we have missed visiting these woods before, given their proximity to home, but we will definitely be returning not least because we spotted a bumper crop of not-quite-ripe blackberries which we will be returning to harvest this week (if others don’t beat us to it!)

This week has hopefully seen the sparking of a love of sewing in Waif. He patiently sat and sewed a little drawstring bag for his Granny, and was very proud of the result:

sewing channelconcentrating on sewingshowing off bag

Protracted 19/08/2010

Posted by snoozerider in art, family drawing time, home education.
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Who knew you could make such beautiful art using a protractor of all things?

Inspired by this post on the fabulous Art Projects for Kids website, the boys and I had a go at making these geometric pictures in the style of artist Frank Stella. They turned out fantastically well and were fun, and even meditative to do. As you can see, even though we all three followed the same restrictions (six traces round the protractor – three vertical, three horizontal and limited ourselves to six colours each) the three pieces are very different:

Here’s Waif working on his:

waifs protractor design in progress

And Gman steps back to contemplate his work in progress:

gman protractor design in progress

And here’s the three finished pictures:

finished protractor designs

Art, Rust and Picture Perfect Boyhoods 17/07/2010

Posted by snoozerider in art, craft, home education, painting.
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It’s been a while since I’ve posted on here, but not because we haven’t been busy…

We’ve done some more abstract art, using watercolours and marker pens:

This was with the help of the great book “Painting Abstracts:  Ideas, Projects and Techniques“.  It’s not a children’s book by any means but a lot of the projects are accessible or adaptable for kids and the great thing is they aren’t too prescriptive so allow the kids to go off at their own tangent.

We’ve done some more experiments relating to Gman’s rock project.  The most recent of these goes against all my instincts and turns something that is perfectly edible (grapefruit) into something most inedible (a fake geode)!!  This project was taken from a fab little book we have out of the library and involves layering Plaster of Paris mix into the emptied grapefruit shell, then sprinkling in alum crystals and topping up each day with some alum mixture.  We put a little red and blue food colouring in the mix to make it purple and sparkly!  And yes, it is a messy process 🙂

Waif particularly enjoyed doing some rust dyeing this week.  Again we took this project from a book aimed at adults: Fabric Art Workshop but which has a few projects that would be good to do with kids, as long as you take care and use rubber gloves etc.  To make this fabric, first of all we laid our unbleached cotton in a metal tray, then dampened it with a mixture of vinegar and water.  Next we ferreted around in the shed for some metal artefacts, some already rusty, some not eg washers, steel wool, weights, nails etc and arranged these on top of the fabric before spraying again with the vinegar and water mixture.  We placed the tray inside a black bin bag, tied it closed, weighed it down and left for 24+ hours.

This is what it looked like when we took it out of the bag:

Waif donned some rubber gloves and carefully removed the rusty things (we put them aside in an old ice cream tub for “next time”) then we soaked the cloth in a mixture of salt and hot water to set the dye.  The cloth is beautiful, partly because you can see in it what you like eg a treasure map, a wolf, the moon, monsters, an explosion in space…what can you see?

As well as the art and rocks, we have also been enjoying some old fashioned stories together.  Following a recommendation on Julie’s Homeschooling-ideas blog, we got hold of the book “A Picture Perfect Childhood“.  I found this a really inspiring book, convincing me that reading picture books to the boys (including 10 year old Gman) would be beneficial for all of us.  We’ve been slotting in a story after lunch each day, starting with the beautiful picture book, “The Barefoot Book of Earth Tales” and both the boys and myself have been really enjoying it.  It’s a lovely, quiet, cuddly time together and the stories themselves are raising plenty of issues to talk about.  Hopefully it will help balance out some of the over-boisterous boyish behavior that has been landing them in trouble this week, and help them get in touch with a gentler side…

Edible Science Experiments are the Best 03/07/2010

Posted by snoozerider in art, home education, kids craft, painting, thrift.
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Gman has started on his latest project – Rocks and Minerals.  This has given us a great opportunity to make some toffee and honeycomb…oops, I mean igneous rocks :-).  Here’s how to do it:

First, put a greased baking tray in the freezer for an hour or two.

Place about 500g sugar and a few splashes of water into a saucepan.  Heat until melted and golden brown.  You need to stir fairly constantly to make sure it doesn’t burn and stick to the bottom of the pan.

Use oven gloves to take the baking tray out of the freezer.

To make a glass like substance, simply tip the mixture straight onto your baking tray.  It will set almost instantly, but certainly be ready to hack away and eat (er, study) after 10 minutes.

If you want to make a pumice like rock, then add a teaspoon or so of bicarbonate of soda to your mixture before you pour it onto the tray.

The honeycomb (oops, I mean pumice) is particularly good with ice cream ;-P.

As well as the rocks project, the boys have also been enjoying recreating more artistic masterpieces, including this Pollack-inspired masterpiece:

Waif got up one morning deciding that today he would “do” Van Gogh, and produced several small pictures, carefully copied from a little book of Van Gogh pictures that we picked up at the Fitzwilliam Museum.  We put them all together and made a display poster:

Aren’t they fab?

Those that saw this earlier post will know that we like to home educate as thriftily as possible, so we were quite excited to find that a local primary school which was closing and moving premises was holding a book sale.  For £2 we got a stack of educational books, including a massive poetry book just in time for next week’s poetry themed home ed group.  Yay!

Ancient Mexico Lapbook 28/06/2010

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I promised pics of Gman’s Ancient Mexico lapbook and here they are:

Gman particularly loved learning about the Aztecs – possibly something to do with the human sacrifices and general goriness, but that’s ok!!

Presenting…Gman’s Completed Lapbook on Mexico! 22/06/2010

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Gman has finished his Mexico lapbook.  Little did we realise that he had done so much work on so many mini-books that he would need two oversized lapbooks 🙂 ; one for Modern Mexico and one for Ancient Mexico.  Here’s some pics of the modern Mexico lapbook:

Gman has really enjoyed this project, particularly customising his own minibooks rather than using templates.

I will post pics of his Ancient Mexico lapbook in another post…

You Can’t Build a Sandcastle with a Clipboard in your Hand 31/05/2010

Posted by snoozerider in days out, home education.
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This week we had a day out at the seaside with some other home educating friends.  The boys hunted for interesting rocks and shells; drew on the sea walls with the chalk from the beach; fished around in a rockpool, finding a crab (sadly, dead :-(); buried some treasure and marked with a cross and a circle of stones; had a game of crazy golf and of course, ate ice lollies!  While we were on the beach, a school trip of about 60 children and teachers arrived.  We gawped and eavesdropped :-P.  The children appeared to be looking for interesting items for an art class.  All had clipboards (colour coded for each class) and were instructed that they couldn’t go on the tantalising rocks that our kids had just been gleefully leaping around, couldn’t go too far this way or that way, shouldn’t pick up anything that might be slimy or smelly and were each given just one small ziploc bag to put their finds into.  How to take the fun out of a trip to the seaside?!?

Art in the Garden 24/05/2010

Posted by snoozerider in cycling, days out, home education, nature, painting.
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Yesterday I took the boys to a marvellous art exhibition called “Art in the Garden” which was held in a beautiful garden in the nearby village of Fincham.  Here’s a selection of some of the installations/sculptures:

Of particular relevance to us (as a family opposing local plans to build a waste incinerator) was this installation:

Everything is made of plastic that cannot currently be recycled in Norfolk ie will sit for hundreds of years in landfill.  A beautiful, colourful piece of art but a sobering lesson.  Here’s the text that the artist had posted alongside it, hopefully it will be readable:

After looking around the garden, the boys also used pencils provided to make their own pictures, which will be laminated and displayed in the artist’s studio.  Here’s Gman with his “volcanic ash cloud” picture:

Last week we had a few days break at Center Parcs.  One of the advantages of being a home educating family is being able to visit attractions during the less busy term time :-).  The boys loved being able to ride their bikes all around without any traffic, as well as playing in the wilder parts of the woods.  They also swam, played crazy golf, went bowling and had a go at painting some pottery:

All in all, a lovely week!

We have also had yet another visit to Dersingham Bog Nature Reserve – still our favourite place for a walk – and the boys practiced their balancing skills and cheesy grins:

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