Monday, August 29, 2005

Art Curriculum

I posted a few weeks ago about my art curriculum, or really about the importance of it. But since I planned out art for the year today, I thought I would at least mention it again and give a few details.

I use 2 main books to teach art.

How to Teach Art to Children - Evan-Moor Publishers (for grades 1-6)


Meet the Masterpieces: Strategies, Activities, and Posters to Explore Great Works of Art - Scholastic (for grades 2-5)
(I cannot find an online pic I can show you, but here is the amazon page - book page (It's apparently out of print now, but well worth finding if you can.)

Last year, we studied Line, Shape, and Color from the Evan-Moor book and Pieter Bruegel, Diego Velasquez, and Hokusai from the Scholastic book.

This year we will study Value, Texture, Form, and Space, as well as study the following artists: Winslow Homer, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Mary Cassatt, Pablo Picasso, and Romare Bearden.

I planned 83 art lessons. We do art nearly every day, but since we are adding history this year, I think there will be days when we do art in history or science and won't do it separately too. I schedule Art right after Bible, so it is our second subject of the day. I find that it helps the kids get "into" school and gets their creativity flowing, which in turn helps them academically. Also I can get the "together" work out of the way first and then they can do their independent work later, rather than me trying to gather everyone back at a later time, when someone might be in the middle of an important assignment.

The Evan-Moor book has two parts. Part 1 is the main section of the book. It includes the art lessons that are about Value, Texture, Form, and Space all are introducing an art concept to the children. Each lesson has either an art project or a small group experience to reinforce the concept. The art projects in this book are particularly eye-catching and attractive, in my opinion.

Part 2 is all art projects based on a famous artist, such as Edward Degas, or a famous art technique, such as Anasazi pottery. I have sprinkled these 24 lessons throughout the year, so we get a break from the normal routine. I also found examples of each of these famous works or techniques online and saved them to my hard drive, so I can show the children some examples when it's time for that lesson. No more jumping online while they wait, colored pencils in hand.

After every section from the Evan-Moor book, I have scheduled a section from Meet the Masterpieces. This book has a short section on the artist's life, which will be our Day 1 of that section. We will add the artist to our main timeline and find out more about him/her if we so desire. On Day 2, we take a close look at one of the artist's works. The book gives some excellent questions to ask the students about the work, and even gives you the answers, which is great for those of us who did not study much great art. (Apparently this book originally came with posters of these works, but I do not have those. Therefore, I searched the internet for copies of the works and printed them out. I put them in my lesson plan binder, along with my lesson sheets for art and I'm all set!)

For Days 3-5 of these lessons, the book has differing activities that build on the concepts learned about the artist and/or the time period. Some of these I like, and some I don't, but I have chosen the ones I want to do and listed them on my plan sheet.

Something else I did to make all this easier was to list out all the supplies needed for each lesson, so I can quickly look ahead and make sure I have the 12x18 white paper that is needed, or stop at the store for dried beans.

I think Suzy and James will be doing art with us most days this year and I am looking forward to something else that we can all do together!

If you do not schedule art regularly, I encourage you to do it. It has made a big difference in our homeschooling!

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Homeschool Camping

One of the leadership team members of my homeschool group had a great idea this summer - how about a week of homeschool camping?! FUN, I thought! So she planned out the week and we just returned from it yesterday. It was a LOVELY time.

Here are some of the details.

We chose the dates to coincide with the start of school here, so the campground would be emptier. We chose to camp Monday-Friday, so as to avoid weekend campground congestion. We chose a state park in our county, so it would be close enough to most people's homes that they could go home if they needed to - for sports practice, feeding animals, etc...

State parks in Michigan allow site-specific reservations, so we chose a section of the campground and each family made its own reservations in whatever site they wanted to have. We ended up with 4 families spending all 4 nights and 8-9 more families spending 2 or 3 nights.

We planned activities each day, such as face painting, rock painting, night hike, fishing, swimming, etc... We invited families from our group to come out and join us for the daytime activities if they couldn't camp with us. We had several more families join us for those activities. We tried very hard to have something each day, but not so many activities that we felt overscheduled.

We shared some meals - sometimes intentionally, and sometimes it just happened. We gathered around one or two main fire pits. The kids had a lot of freedom to run around because there were only a few other campers on our end of the campground.
I think everyone enjoyed it a lot and we plan to schedule another camping week next year!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Bible Curriculum

I am going to do a series of posts on the different curricula, resources, and books I will be using this year for each subject.

Today I will address the subject of Bible because it is the most important and also because it is one of the few curriculum resources that I didn't have a single question regarding if I planned to continue using it or not. I have the first 105 lessons of Bible planned out already.

I have been using the Bible Study Guide for All Ages by Donald and Mary Baker for several years now. We are finishing up Volume 2. There are 4 volumes. We will finish the last lessons of Volume 2 and get started on Volume 3 before Christmas.
I have been debating on whether or not to use the activity pages that you can order to go along with BSG. We used them a couple years ago and they were OK, but a little over David's head at that time and I thought Emily's were too simple. He could do the intermediate pages easily now, as could Emily, but I wasn't sure I wanted to spend the extra money.

While at the website, I noticed that the company has REDONE the activity pages and they are WONDERFUL!! Such an improvement! And just as I was really getting all geeked about it, I realized that the pages are only redone for Volume 1, which we won't get back to for quite some time! Hopefully, they will have these redone in time for us to be able to use some for Volume 3. I may still order the "classic" pages for the rest of volume 2 and see how it goes.

This past year, I just printed out coloring pages to go with each lesson from Calvary Chapel Children's Ministry Curriculum. The coloring sheets are very high quality, are free, and come in .pdf format, which means they print out perfectly. The kids color while I read the Bible passages for the day. I could certainly do that again, and I may.

I like the BSG because during the 4 year cycle, the students cover the ENTIRE Bible, not just Creation, Noah's Ark, The Loaves and the Fishes, etc... Map work, timeline work, memory work, and life application are also included. It really is a curriculum for ALL ages because you can do as much or as little as you like, or do more with the older kids while the younger ones do their activity page. (We take longer than a year to do a volume, both because we don't always do Bible every day, and also because of the things I add to my Bible curriculum.)

Between units of BSG, I am interspersing units from Character Building for Families by Lee Ann Rubsam. The 4 topics we will cover during those first 100 lessons are: Loyalty, Deference, Cheerfulness, Gentleness (Kindness). We will continue later in the year with Contentment, Gratitude, Truthfulness, Servanthood, and Hospitality. We may not get all those topics finished before next school year, however.

We used CBF this past year and I was impressed with how thorough and user-friendly the curriculum is. It is nothing fancy to look at - simply a black and white teacher manual that is comb-bound. But the content is excellent.

As I blogged about earlier, we will also be learning a hymn a month, and we will also do a long scripture passage each month. I am still choosing the Scripture passages, but the hymns are all chosen.

If the kids have any Scripture memory from the Pioneer Club they attend on Wednesday nights, we will add that in as well. This past year they didn't have much memory work, at least not compared to the AWANA program they attended for 2 years before that.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


I thought it would be fun to post the classes my children will be taking at our homeschool co-op this fall. (I am the co-op coordinator.)

David - age 10-1/2
Computer Hardware Isn't So Hard
Physical Education
Chess Club

Emily - age 8-1/2
Kids' Concoctions
Physical Education
Art Concepts

James - age 5-1/2
Pet Friends
Little Signers (American Sign Language)
Show & Tell Storytime OR Open Gym

Suzy - age 3
Active Adventures
Baby Ballet - 25 min
Open Gym - 25 min
Fun with Playdough

We are very much looking forward to co-op! We meet 8 times in the fall and 8 times in the spring. Some of the classes will change in the spring.

Wednesday, August 3, 2005

Support Meeting Last Night

As the coordinator of a homeschool group, I strive to provide a welcoming and interesting forum for all kinds of moms at our support group meetings. Last night was our first group meeting since May.

Our topic was "Starting the Homeschool Year" and we asked people to bring something new (to them) that they were EXCITED about using during the upcoming year. We had about twenty women attend the meeting! Lots of people shared things they were excited about. Here is the list posted on our group website.
Meeting Resource List

I have been in leadership in this group for about 7 years and was one of the founding members. Our monthly attendance has been averaging 6-12 women most of that time. Now and then we would have a large meeting, but the average meeting was under 10 moms. Last May we had 19 moms, so maybe this is a hint that our meetings are going to be larger this year. Makes sense because we have a co-op now that has 59 families enrolled.

I do enjoy facilitating the group discussions. My training as a La Leche League Leader comes in handy in this role. Sometimes we have an informal discussion, as we did last night, and sometimes we invite a speaker to come in. Sometimes I prepare something to share. We will have speakers at our next 3 meetings and then we will have a Christmas social.

Do you attend a homeschool support group? If you do, what do you like most about it? If you don't, why not?