Art: Relaxed Homeschool Style


Art as a separate subject always has seemed strange to me. This week we finished painting a backdrop for our church’s Christmas performance. We were not asked to do it, but volunteered for the job cuz it sounded like fun!

The idea is that the performers will be standing in a mall. This is a painting by my 17yo daughter. The snowman is a joke as he is eating in a Pizza shop.


This is one by my 15yo son. He had so much fun figuring out how to make this look 3D.


Did I force them to learn a special style of painting? Did I even tell them anything once they decided on what they were going to paint? NOPE, they just had fun. I said to them to find  picture or an idea and draw it out and then paint it. They were free to paint what they wanted within the ideas we had come up with.

The backdrop is supposed to be the inside of a shopping mall. We sat and brain stormed about what should be there. We decided to add cute jokes here and there to make kids laugh and our friends in the audience laugh.

Here is another funny one that we did together. After doing this one we thought “Oh No, are people going to be bothered by the Grinch in church.” But the Pastor showed up the next day and said that “No, The Grinch is a Christmas Classic.” Whew, we knew we had freedom in what we painted but had worried if we had crossed the line. My 17yo daughter and I did this one.


This backdrop storefront has a few more things added since this picture, like a sad Christmas tree in the left window and a present in the window on the right. We just loved the TJ Naxx sign as the only store in our small town is a TJ Maxx store.

What did we learn from this experience?

  • Working together to figure out a huge project is really fun.
  • We like to listen to music while we work. Though we definitely prefer upbeat music after 2 or more hours of painting in a day.
  • Artists crack lame jokes.
  • Painting the tops of walls really tires out your arms.
  • Adding the lines on the ATM really made it POP like it was from a graphic novel.
  • The colors that we had was limited but you can combine latex and oil based paint to get some pretty strange colors.
  • Spray paint can be sprayed onto a plate and painted on a wall.
  • My kids are awesome!

Now some of these things, like the last one on the list, I have known for years. But if I had asked my kids to use an Art Curriculum book and work through it for 30 hours in 3 and a half weeks they would about pass out. Relaxed Art is the way to go for sure. Finding ways to allow their creative and artistic juices to flow and have it appreciated by others is just the way to do it for us.

Here is another picture from the set. This is by my 15yo son, my 17yo daughter, my 13 yo son, and myself. Haha the ATNT store, this will actually get a cellphone painted on it tomorrow morning early.


I was trying to figure out how many hours we worked on this backdrop and I believe it is about 30 hours. This is the time from thinking up the ideas of the different storefronts to finding out we had limited paint to use to us actually painting.

Here is another store front. This was done by my 17yo daughter and myself. This is a funny store front to us because there is a member of our congregation that actually is a clock repairman and his nickname is Tick-Tock.


This performance of the musical “God Speaking” will be performed Sunday morning. The choir (which includes my kids singing and myself as narrator) have been practicing this musical since the end of September.

This is another store front as a joke. There is a friend in the congregation that has a security business that is named 4security and so we did this one for him.


I hope you have enjoyed seeing how we over the years have found that Art can easily be part of a relaxed home school without ever calling it ART. Without having to use an Art Curriculum. We do use an Art Curriculum if the child is interested in it. We also have used classes for a child interested in a special topic like pottery on a wheel. But for the most part, like 90%, our ART time is what we make for others and ourselves just for fun.

Have a great week.

Homeschool Group Ideas – Plans for the Year

I am posting our groups June minutes with the thought that other groups might like to see what our homeschool group is planning for this next school year.

June 2015 Parents Meeting Minutes

What a wonderful meeting with lively discussion. Thanks to Stacey and Lianna for keeping the meeting moving along and making sure we covered all the topics we had planned on. Thanks Crazy8 for opening the church at the last minute for us to have the meeting. Topics below include: Monthly Parent Meetings, Mondays at the library, Events for the coming year, and Summer activities.

Monthly Parent Meetings

After a very lively and thorough discussion J It has been decided that we will try the monthly meeting at the Open Gym on the 3rd Thursday of the month and also (at least for now) keep the 1st Tuesday of the month evening meeting. No one would be required to go to both meetings, there is just the option of doing either meeting and information would be shared freely between the two meetings.

There are a few concerns that 2 meetings a month might create:

  • make it difficult to make decisions

  • that decisions by one meeting group would be hard without consulting the other group

  • that there would be a separating of our group into 2 groups

  • and how information from one meeting would be relayed to the other meeting

Some ideas thrown around for solutions:

  • having minutes posted from one meeting to the group

  • that all topics up for a decision are posted to the group so that everyone has the option to be there or weigh in via email before a decision is made

  • having a set person to “lead” each meeting (this sounded like a doable idea so the volunteers were Stacey for Sept at Gym and Crazy8 for Sept and Oct for the evening meeting)

  • representatives that would just naturally be at the two meetings could share thoughts at the other meeting

  • that the evening meeting would be just informational not decision making, a space for new families to come and learn more about homeschooling and ask questions

  • that the group doesn’t have many decisions that we make that are “set in stone”

  • that when there is a majority together at a meeting that even if they made a decision that there are enough of them together at one time that even if they did make a decision that having even just their families involved would be enough to do that activity or event.

1st Tuesday of the month 6-7:30 – Crazy8 will look for a venue for this. The idea was that this might be an easier meeting for a family looking to start homeschooling to get to. The family which has not made a switch over to homeschooling might find a middle of the day meeting difficult to maneuver or the idea of meeting with a large group in a gym might be overwhelming to start with.

3rd Thursday of the month during Open Gym from 1-3pm – We are looking to try doing the meeting during this time. The idea of maybe setting up the stage with tables and chairs as a kind of meeting area free from basketballs flying through the air J Also the thought of the kids being involved in decision making that would be appropriate to their ages was brought up. That this would be a perfect venue for them to feel ‘part of the decision making process’ as they are getting older and more interested in it.

(Another issue that came up as a result of this discussion was people’s comfort level at Open Gym, and defining what safe and respectful use of the gym would mean. More on this will follow in a separate note.)

Mondays at the library (12-3pm)

Every other Monday: Around the World would continue on the same schedule using the full 3 hours on every other Monday as they really do use this full time. There are many families who are involved in this and it feels like a perfect use of the space for our group.

The opposing Mondays: There was a lot of discussion about what we could do with this time. Here is what the plan we came up with:

12-1pm – An art time where a specific artist or art form would be studied for a month. The thought of maybe having an artist within the group or preferably one of the older children teaching the younger children about a form of art. Maybe having an artist show us what to do the first meeting of the month and the second meeting of the month would be for the children to continue working on this project. Ideas for this included using different media: clay for sculpting, oil paints for the older and washable paints for the younger, basket weaving, etc. Also the idea of studying an artist for the month maybe having to do with the book the book club is reading or just ones the kids choose to study. Keeping this class as close to FREE as possible regarding cost.

1-2pm – Drama club: the discussion lead to realizing that there are a lot of families in the group interested in a drama time. Either relating to the book being read, just drama in general, or even a performance geared toward the younger crowd doing the acting. The person leading this has not been chosen but thoughts were: Lianna and Director are both individuals who had shown interest in doing this before.

2-3pm – Book club: book club will continue, please see previous email for the books scheduled for this coming year.

Monthly Newspaper Club – There was also talk that we could meet at the library for other things that did not involve the use of the meeting room. The kids would like to do a  monthly newspaper and thought that meeting before the 12-3pm meeting room time just in the youth area might work. Director is interested in leading this. articles written by the kids in the group about events or things going on but also other sections that would include pictures or art or poetry or short stories. Detail to follow. Families interested should contact Director.

Spanish language study–is another idea that is being researched. This also might or might not involve the library meeting space. Families could hire an instructor or make arrangements with a college student who could get college credit for volunteer teaching. Contact Brenda if you are interested.

Events During the Year:

Some of these events need dates set. As some of these events require finding a space to host them it is good to have a date set as early as possible. If you are responsible for an event would you please check the calendar from previous years and see if you could get a date set up for your event, especially for the families that plan out their year in advance, thanks. If you remember an event that we did not include it was by accident, please let us know that we forgot it, thank you.

  • August (last week in August usually Wed-Thurs) – Back to School Event – A Picnic with the option of Camping at the Park

  • Fall (Sept –Nov) –  Soccer on Tuesdays 1-2:30pm – Crazy8

  • Fall (possibly fall) – Lego Fundraiser – Melissa (a New Event to raise money for some charitable group or the library) entry fee and prizes to be awarded, details to follow

  • December – Barter Day – Stacey

  • December – Holiday Party – Need someone for this

  • December (the Fridays leading up to Christmas) – Caroling at Elder Care Facilities – Crazy8

  • January – Drama Production (possibly) – a production by the younger kids

  • February – Talent Show – Jessica

  • March – Spelling Bee – Brooke

  • March – Science & History Fair – Melissa

  • April – Art and Dessert Show – Jill, Stacey, Leslie

  • May – Shakespeare Play? – There has been a play put on by the kids during this time in previous years, so wanted to list that here. Not really sure what or if it will be.

Summer Activities:

Soccer – there are a bunch of kids that would like to continue meeting on Tuesdays for soccer. We meet from 1-2:30pm. It would be a weekly pick-up game. Sometimes we may have a coach and sometimes not. Just a fun time to play an organized game of soccer.

SPUD  and Kick Ball – this will continue again this year meeting on Thursdays from 1-3pm (I believe) at the Rec park field. This is a fun time for kids and parents to play outdoor games together. (As a side note: there is free lunch right at the skating rink area every day for kids 18 and under at noon. So maybe some families could meet early for lunch and then play? Just a thought)

Summer Party at the lake – The idea to just have a get together at the lake that would allow the entire family to be in on the fun. Eat together, swim, play, just enjoy each others company and see each other during the summer also.

Family Game Night – There is talk of a family game night with details to follow

Hiking – I believe there is also talk of families getting together to hike during the summer with dates and places to follow

Monday Musings

Plans for the week ahead

For this week: Skeletal System Co-op class Monday; soccer Tuesday; Field Trip to the Apiary on Wednesday; Natural Sciences Museum Friday (a friend gave us tickets); and Free Kids Carnival Saturday. Looks like we will be doing a good chunk of sit down schoolwork this week. Still working on fencing in the ducks this week and building a shelter for them.

Thinking about

In our state we have to report our progress at the end of each school year. I never like to be searching at the last minute for what to send in. This week I am focusing on making sure I have a paper I could send into the state in each of the required subjects. That means I need a paper from Math, Language Arts, Science, Health, Art, History, and Health for each of my school age children. I believe I am all set for Septembers work. I just need to have a page for each of them from this month.

Out of doors

We will be having an outing to the Natural Science Museum on Friday which should be a treat. We have bulbs to plant and more brussel sprouts to pick. Soccer may be cold and too wet to do this week.

In the kitchen

We ended up making pumpkin pie (Tech made this) and potato and corn chowder (Mechanic made this) to bring to the Barn Dance on Saturday. Also, we were given about 25 lbs of meat in exchange for harvesting grapes so I need to figure out what is in there and organize the upright freezer again.

A photo from last week….

There were so many pictures form this week it was really hard to choose…. Here is Tech with his best friend this week when we carved pumpkins.


Week in Review & Easy Peasy Online Review

We had a very productive homeschooling week this week. We were able to actually stay home Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Guess that is why we got so much accomplished.

Our homeschool days fluctuate between a day of workbooks and a day of Easy Peasy online school. The workbooks we use will be for another post. Today I thought I would share how the Easy Peasy computer school program is working for us.

This week we were able to spend two days just on computer school and the other two days were on workbooks. Mondays are taken up by co-op classes. This weeks co-op Science class was the Respiratory System.  We also had co-op Choir and Career Readiness.

Princess (Kindergarten) She does a little bit of Easy Peasy “Getting Ready 1“. On that program she learns her letters with songs, worksheets, and the starfall program. She knows her letters very well and just has fun with the online learning. The sounds of the letters is what she is learning now so the starfall program is useful. There seems to be a lot of coloring pages with this Easy Peasy level. She does like some coloring but she, like my other children, detest busy work. She liked the project this week that involved making a movable animal for the letter of the week. Below is a link to one kind of project like that that she did recently. We do tend to just skip over the busy work stuff though. So she focused mainly on her workbooks this week and the computer program Reading Eggs which she really loves.

A is for Alligator.
A is for Alligator.

Collector (3rd Grade) He does Easy Peasy Third Level. This week he worked on xtramath to practice his math facts speed and knowledge. (Easy Peasy suggests the use of that program.) In Math he worked on adding +10 and +11 and adding one more to a large number. In Language Arts he worked on poetry. This weeks topic in poetry was rhyme and alliteration. He understood the rhyming but the alliteration didn’t sink in, I don’t believe. No big deal. He worked on a spelling with the worksheet below (the first picture will show a larger image and the second picture links to the worksheet itself online). He really enjoyed it. He enjoys spelling anyway but this worksheet was fun to him. He worked on current events in History. He read an article online and then rewrote it in his own words. His choice was the clean-up from a recent hurricane in the south. In Science he played an online game about the states of matter. It was fun and really brought the point home. In PE he worked on learning how to stretch properly. All in all it was a great week. This program works all right for Collector but I do prefer that he does most of his work away from the computer screen. He enjoys it but the reading is more difficult on a screen than in a book that is in his hands. Overall he seems to be learning a lot from this program.

spelling 1spelling 2

Pilot (5th Grade) He does Easy Peasy Fourth Level. I choose this level for him because I liked what was being taught in this level, not really a grade level so much as I liked the things he would be learning this year. This week he also worked on xrtamath to practice with his math facts. (As Easy Peasy suggests.) In Math he worked on estimating to the hundreds place and adding the estimated numbers. He also did online timed division facts which he enjoyed. The Reading was a crazy huge amount this week. All the reading this year is from McGuffey’s Third Eclectic Reader. I even have a hard time figuring out this book. The language is not easy nor are the stories. I spend so much time explaining these stories to him that I think I am going to reconsider him doing the reading with Easy Peasy starting next week. For example yesterday we was supposed to read 5 different stories. Now the vocabulary he does with this he likes very much and he enjoys learning new words. Also this week he learned about a Limerick and wrote one. In Science & History he learned about Alexander Graham Bell, did an experiment with sound, and watched a video on Bell. He also did Bible work, learned about junk mail, and looked at the life of the composer Pfitzner. This program, except for Reading, works really well for Pilot. He is having fun and learning as he goes. There is never a complaint to have to do school. The picture links to the video he watched this week.

Alexander Graham Bell Movie Link
Alexander Graham Bell Movie Link

Tech (7th Grade) He does Easy Peasy Sixth Level. Just like Pilot I choose this level for him because I liked what was being taught in this level, not really a grade level so much as I liked the things he would be learning this year. This week he worked on xrtamath to practice his math facts also. This year he is working on Language Appreciation. He watches a video with part of the voices in Latin and the rest in English then he has to make his best guess as to what the Latin words mean. He has a lot of fun with it. Next week he will use this list to look up the French and Spanish words for these Latin words and look for similarities. His Math is Khan Academy and this week he worked on negative numbers and comparing absolute values. I like that on Khan Academy I can look and see what each of my children is working on right from my “Coach” page. He is enjoying his Robert Frost poetry this year. He also worked on Bible, Alexander Graham Bell, and Pfitzner, but at a higher level than Pilot. This program does not seem challenging enough for Tech. Not sure what I need to specifically change yet but something needs to change. He is kinda bored with it except for the games. Here is a link to a History game he loves. It is actually from Directors school lessons but he enjoys playing when he is done his schoolwork.

History Game Online
History Game Online

Artist (9th Grade) She does Easy Peasy Eighth Level. Just like Tech I choose this level for him because I liked what was being taught in this level, not really a grade level so much as I liked the things he would be learning this year.This week she worked on xrtamath to maintain her math fact skills. This year she is taking Sign Language and loving it. She laughs throughout the video as the teacher is just a fun guy. She has Vocabulary, Reading, and Writing. I never hear complaints from her. She is able to do all this Easy Peasy work on her own without me really. Her statement to me was that this was her best homeschool year yet. As an artist she enjoys the Art section of Easy Peasy so the link below is from her art lesson. For Math she is doing Khan Academy also. She worked on complimentary and supplemental angles, circumference, and multiplying decimals. She did Bible, History, Science, and Health. In Science she is working on chemistry and the periodic table. This program is an excellent fit for Artist. She enjoys this curriculum and seems to be learning so much. I am so glad she has found something that fits her so well.

How to Draw a Shell Link
How to Draw a Shell Link

Director (11th Grade) She is doing Easy Peasy High School. She is doing lots of classes from this site. Here is her list: xtramath, Literature and Compostion, Biology with Lab, US History 2, Art Appreciation, Music Appreciation, PE/Health, Spanish, and Khan Academy. Her favorite subject from Easy Peasy is Music Appreciation. She says she likes this best because, “I think I am learning more in this than in any other subject. I also like that I can watch the videos of all the instruments.” She also likes Literature and Composition because, “I learn new words and their meanings. There is this site that you go onto that has a story and you then answer questions about it.” She feels that for her Easy Peasy is a good fit, “There are some boring things but most of it is interesting.”

Music Appreciation Link
Music Appreciation Link

I hope this review of Easy Peasy was helpful. Have a great weekend.