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.

Relaxed Spelling in Our Home


Today our 7yo got up early and wrote a story. The story was done really well and I enjoyed it. The only “problem” was the spelling of many of the words was not correct.

She is an excellent speller and also loves to write and I did not want to squelch that joy of writing. So, I did what I have done for many years and will share that with you now.

What is the most PERFECT way I have found to do spelling?

After Princess had left the room to go get her breakfast, I remembered what I wanted to do. I went to the very next page in her writing notebook and started writing out the words that she had spelled incorrectly.

I looked through her story about the bear and the chickens and watched for words that she consistently spelled incorrectly AND words that I thought she may use again on a regular basis.


Why learn words you won’t write again?

If she will find the process useful then she will want and will enjoy doing it. Picking words she will use again makes it seem less like school and more like “what we need for life.”

As I stated before I don’t want to make her not want to write.

She loves to write stories!

Her stories are very interesting and enjoyable to read.

I had my list started and decided 10 words would be a number she could handle. I also chose words that weren’t too long, she is only 7yo. I also left a space in between each word in case she wanted to practice the words herself.


I brought the list to her in the kitchen.

“Princess, I loved your story. I made a list of words that I thought you might like to learn the spelling of in case you wrote another story with words like you have in this awesome story. We can use your own words for a spelling test if you would like.” She loved the idea and said it would be good to learn them.

She looked over my list and asked my what some of the words were. She asked how to say “some” because she had written “sum” in her story. She also asked what the word “said” was as she had written the word “sed” in her story.

This has come to be the best way for my children to learn and keep these words as part of them. Sometimes with spelling lists (which we also use) the child only remembers the words for a short while, like for the week of the test.

But, when we use the words from their own writing for spelling tests, the purpose for learning the words changes and I believe the spelling words end up in a more permanent place in their brains.

Hope this was useful.

How do you handle spelling in your home school?


Learning About the Major Wars of the World

There is so much I don’t know. 

Today I was looking through the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia thinking I might assign reading material from this book to one of the kids. It was interesting but did not peak my interest until I came to the end of the book.

There were lists of Dynasty’s, Popes, Presidents, and on the very last page “Major Wars”. I started looking through the list and realized I had no idea what some of these wars were. I decided to change that.

I grabbed a pile of yellow index cards (love these), a pen, a marker, and a mug of tea.

On the back of the cards I wrote:






On the front of the card I wrote the name of the war.

From the list in the back of the book I was able to get the when, who, and name of the war but I felt like I wanted to know the where, why, and result.

As I was writing and looking up information I received many curious looks and questions from the kids.

“What are you doing?” My answer, “I wanted to learn more about the wars that happened in the world I live in.”

“Is that a game you are making for us?” My answer, “No, just wanted to learn more about the wars of the world.”

“Is that your schoolwork?” My answer, “Yes, I guess it is.”

After I had written the information from the list in the back of the book, I started looking within the text for the answers to my other questions (where, why, result).

As I found information it so intrigued me that I shared the facts out loud as I found them.

“This book lists the Trojan War as the first Major War but doesn’t write about it anywhere in the text. I even looked in the index.” Their response, “That’s weird, why would they do that?”

“Holy smokes! There were 8 Crusades not 4 like it says in the Major Wars list.The Crusades lasted 200 years.” Their reply,”Maybe someone should have figured out it wasn’t working before 200 years went by.”

“The Crusades began because a Pope made the decision to remove the Muslims from Palestine. During that time the Christians were not being allowed in.” Their response, “Oh.”

“During that time there were 3 other Crusades including the Children’s Crusade where 50,000 children were sent to Palestine but most died of starvation or went into slavery.” Their response, “Wow, that is horrible, so many kids.” “They sent kids?”

“There sure were a lot of wars fought for religious reasons.” No response.

Image result for joan of arc

“Joan of Arc was 17 when she fought in the Hundred Years War. She led the troops. Later she was burned at the stake because they thought she was a witch.” Their response, “I’ve heard of her.” and “How old was she when she was killed?” My response, “What’s 1431-1412? That’s how old she was.” Their response, “Oh, like 19, wow, so young.”

“Did you know the Hundred Year War actually lasted 116 years?” Their response, “Then why did they call it the Hundred Years War?” Me, “No idea.”

As I went through all of these questions and answers I remembered something I learned years ago:

Read and your child will read, write and your child will write, learn and your child will learn, love and your child will love.

It has been a while since I have been so interested in learning about a subject just because I wanted to learn about it.

Well, this is how my family is learning about the Major Wars of the world.

How do you all learn together?