Today's tip to reduce clutter in your homeschool is a simple on, but I know from experience that it has big results!
None of my kids ever really liked coloring books, but they all love to draw. From a young age, they would raid the printer for fresh white paper and get their crayons, markers, and pencils and draw. When it was time to clean up, they would put away their drawing supplies and give me their drawing as a gift. Since I can't just toss a gift the second I get it, a pile of drawings would grow. Eventually, I would toss the pile, but it always reappears.
I love when my kids draw. It's a quiet, creative activity. I love that all three of my kids like to draw together. Drawing is an activity that my 4, 6, and 12 year old do together regularly. But with three kids, the loose papers pile up.
At the beginning of this series, I talked about giving my oldest son a sketchbook. This school year, I gave my other two kids a sketchbook. I got my kids their sketchbooks at Target. They aren't artist quality, of course, but they are just fine for drawing.
My four year old still works on an elaborate, scribbly doodle that ends up being a robot or spaceship. When he's done, he never looks back.
My six year old has already figured out that she can come back to her work. She no longer quickly scribbles in some color when her hands get tired so she can be done and move on to another activity. She takes her time, does a good job, and leaves a little for the next day when she starts to get tired of drawing.
I really like that she is learning to take her time and spread her work out over multiple days so that she can do a good job.
My oldest works out ideas in his sketchbook. He has a large chunk where he drew dragon after dragon. He also draws castles and fortresses and various characters for the stories that he writes in his spare time.
And as for me, my mind has a bit less clutter as a result. I no longer have to decide what art to toss and when to toss it. I don't have to decide what to keep and how to store what I keep.
Wait, But Isn't it More Cost Effective to Let Kids Draw on Printer Paper?
Page by page, printer paper is way cheaper than sketchbook paper but as I mentioned before, my older kids are taking more days to finish their drawings, so they are using less paper. My youngest seems to be going through pages at the same rate, but he is more likely to use both sides of the paper in a sketchbook when he draws with markers. Even with the extra cost, I do think that it is a good trade in the end to have better quality work out of my oldest kids and less mess from my youngest.
Read the Rest of the Homeschool Clutter Buster Series
Tip #1: Reduce Throwaway Projects
Tip #2: Workbook Management 101
Tip #3: Buy Each Child a Cheap Sketchbook
Tip #4: One Notebook to Rule Them All
Tip #5: Corral the Small Stuff
Miscellaneous Tips and Tricks
As I mentioned in previous posts, we are using Mystery of History for our history spine this year. I thought that I'd share some of the supplementary resources that I will be using to round out our history studies and to adapt them to my younger kids.
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History Pockets: Ancient Rome
I bought a couple of History Pockets at a used currriculum sale and they were so easy to use that now I have almost all of the series. Here's a sample spread from the book that shows what the pockets look like and what goes in a typical pocket.
I don't actually make the pockets. I usually just glue the activity to colored paper to stick in their binders. This torch from last year's Ancient Greece unit from History Pockets: Ancient Greece. The bottom part of the torch is a booklet about the history and symbolism of the torch. These are not your usual fluffy cut and paste activities. History Pocket activities actually contribute to kid's knowledge base.
History Pockets:Ancient Civilizations
This book is geared for 1st through 3rd graders and it includes units on Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, China, and the Aztecs.
Here's a sample project from the Aztec unit. There's another page, not pictured that has the pieces to finish the calendar.
Here's an example of a completed project from The Mesopotamia unit we did last year. The ship sails up and down the river. My kids love the interactivity of some of these projects.
I found this book through our library and it has tons of activities and cultural facts about the ancient Greeks and Romans. It has recipes, dress up ideas, games, and educational activities from each era. We did a handful of the Greek activities last year and we will start the year off with a few of the activities from the Romans section. Some of the activities take planning to do but others are quick and easy like this one that explains Roman measurements:
Days of Knights and Damsels
This is by the same author of Classical Kids and has the same variety of activities, but geared towards the Middle Ages.
History Through the Ages
My middle school aged son is using this for his current cycle of History and is very proud of what a nice looking timeline he has.
Geography Through Art
This book has art projects from around the world and helps fill in some of the gaps. For example, I can't find an activity book for ancient Australia, but this book has a lesson for Aboriginal art. It also has lessons for African, South American, and Japanese art from the time periods we are studying, too.
I just showed you a lot of supplemental activity books, so be sure to read how I organize all of these materials inHow I Plan Mystery of History for the Year.
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Studying art history is fairly simple to accomplish during the homeschool day, provided I have done a little prior research and gathering of materials. All of the art that we study comes from the time period in history that we are already studying as a family. Currently, we are studying Ancient Greece, so once a week we study a sculpture, piece of architecture or pottery, mosaic, or building from that time.
Finding Pictures to Use
Before we begin a unit (or a week after, since I'm usually running behind), I start searching for images pertaining to the art of the period of history that we are studying and that I can legally make a print of. Just because something is online and it is easy to download, doesn't mean that it is legal to do so. Always check the copyright first. If a picture is "public domain" or "creative commons", you can download it and make a photo print of it for your own personal use. Creative commons photos have their own requirements that can vary image by image, so be sure to check. Usually, you just need to attribute the creator of the image. (More info on Public Domain and Creative Commons here).
Once I find usable images that I can make prints of, I save them to my computer and then download them to my Costco photo account and order three of each picture, one for each of my children.
How We Do Picture Study
When we do a picture study, we study a single picture at a time. My son (12) and daughter (5) each get a picture to study at the table and my youngest (3) and I head to the couch to quietly talk about our picture together.
Once we we have our pictures, I set the timer and we study our pictures. I ask my youngest about the colors and shapes of the picture. I also ask him what is happening in the picture.
When the the timer runs out we flip the pictures over and then take turns, from youngest to oldest, to retell everything we remember about the picture without peeking. My daughter knows that she has to observe more than her little brother and my oldest has to observe even more. I try to remember something above and beyond what my son retells.
After narrating our observations, I give the title of the artwork, the artist, and the medium used. If there is any vocabulary to learn, we talk about that, too. Since we are already studying the historical time period, I don't usually have to give a lot of "historical background." Occasionally, we discuss what we liked about the picture and why we think the artist made certain choices.
Finally, the kids glue their picture onto a piece of paper and label it with the title of the artwork and artist. The paper goes into their history binder.
Other Ways We Study Art
Occasionally, I will pull out our art supplies and sketchbooks and pass around picture of the week. I let the kids choose the medium of their choice and paint or draw their own version of the art that we are studying. Here is an example of this exercise after the Rio Olympics where we drew the Christ our Redeemer Statue:
The kids each chose to use oil pastels (they usually do) and I used acrylic paint...and then quickly filled in the background with pastels. I helped my youngest by drawing an outline of the statue before they began.
I like this exercise because it combines art history with the actual practice of art. It gets my drawing something they usually wouldn't choose to draw and encourages them to make creative, artistic choices.
Just recently we have been reading The Great Art Treasure Hunt, which is kind of an I spy book with great works of art. My two youngest and I have been going through this book sporadically a couple paintings a day. Even though they think reading it is a big game, they are also being introduced to art concepts at the same time.
How do you study art in your homeschool?
Art Supplies Mentioned in This Post
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