Sunday, October 28, 2007

Why Include Handicrafts in Your Home School?

I used to work for a before/after-school elementary school program. I was responsible for planning "projects" for the kids. It was amazing the difference in the attitude and enthusiasm of the children when we did more hands-on crafts with a real product as a result, instead of the stand-by coloring pages, collages, or cut and paste projects.
I think their favorite project was when we sewed fleece pillowcases. The whole group (K-5th graders) all got into the project. Sometimes it was a chore to get all the students to sit down and work on that day's project, but this was an exception.

As I was reading from Charlotte Mason I was struck by her points about what makes an appropriate handicraft:

"The best handicrafts for children under nine seem to be caning chairs, carton work, making baskets, weaving small rugs, Japanese curtains [?], carving cork, sewing pretty samplers, easy needlework, knitting with big needles and coarse threads, etc.

The important things to keep in mind about children's crafts are that:

a. they shouldn't waste their time making useless things like paper mats, or models constructed from softened peas and toothpicks.

b. they should receive patient, thorough instruction so they know how to do the craft correctly.

c. sloppy work should not be allowed.

d. they should be given work well within the ability of their age range so that they are able to do it well and not sloppily."

Charlotte Mason in Modern English Page 315-6

I really appreciate point a. Children don't want to make something useless. The want to learn how to sew, knit, garden, scrapbook, etc. They want to learn the skills they see us adults using.

The difficulty with teaching the children real handicrafts, and what seems to deter most parents I think is point b. It takes "patient and thorough instruction" on the parent's part. Yes, it may take more time and attention to teach a child to knit instead of having them color in a coloring book, but remember the idea is to teach a life skill. That is Charlotte Mason's whole idea behind teaching children handicrafts- teaching them life skills.

When I was probably 10 or 11, my parents bought me a sewing machine. I attended classes at the sewing shop and joined the home school sewing club. Today I sew gifts, sell crafts online and even attempt to sew clothes occasionally. What a great skill, that I never would have developed without the encouragement as a child. It is hard to explain how relaxing and satisfying it is for me when I am immersed in a project. That is something worth sharing with our children.

I think what I like the best about this idea is that parents can share whatever craft and skill they enjoy. Do you like to garden? Help your child plan, plant, and tend to his or her own little plot of land. Maybe he can just have a pot on the deck of his own to care for to start with. Do you knit? Teach your child to knit a simple scarf. Do you love photography? Share that passion with your child. It might even motivate you to get back to your favorite handicrafts. We all need that time.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Things To Do With Acorns

This time of year the ground is littered with acorns. After taking a nice nature walk and collecting acorns, what can you do with them? Below is a list of links to some fun ideas.
1. Make an acorn wreath.
2. Turn your acorns into pumpkins! (I want to do this without the jack-0-lantern faces.)
3. A little more effort required for this one: Make acorn napkin rings.

4. Make acorn cap candleholders.

5. Make acorn people. (I am going to try this.)
6. Use acorn caps to decorate a frame. (like below)

If anyone else has any other fun ideas or links feel free to leave them in the comments. Thanks so much. Enjoy!

And please be sure to check out my Pinterest Fall Kids Craft Board for more ideas. 

And check out all the handicraft kits and PDFs I have for sale HERE!

Yes I am still here!

Did you all think I disappeared for good? You can't get rid of me that easily! For those of you who don't know me, I am a college student and the past week has been filled with quizes, midterms, papers and presentations. I think things have finally died down a little, thank goodness.

I have a few more photos that have been sent in of completed Hearts and Trees fall projects to share. These are from Ellie and her two sons ages 6 and 4.

~Ellie's 6 year old son did the middle painting, her 4 year old son did the left one and she even got in on the action and did the one on the right. Great work you guys!~
I love the way she mounted them so they can see and enjoy them everyday.
~She also mounted the art print and hung it on their board so they could keep looking at it. Smart idea!~

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Fall Themed Kits SOLD OUT!!!

So, as of today, October 13th, I am officially sold out of fall kits!! I just wanted to thank everyone that purchased a Hearts and Trees fall themed art, nature and handicraft kit. We have had such a wonderful response to this initial offering. Thanks for all the feedback and the shared photos of completed projects. We are already hard at work on our winter themed kit and hope to have it up for sale around January. Meanwhile I will be posting recipes, art ideas, nature study ideas, book suggestion, and other related items on this blog.

I am also toying with the idea of putting together smaller, more specialized kits. I welcome any feedback or suggestions or comments anyone might have. What do you think of a crochet or knitting kit? Would you like to have a specific sewing kit with a larger project? Any other ideas of what you would like to see? Feel free to leave me or comment or email me at

Friday, October 12, 2007

Introducing Our Fall Themed Kit

Announcing a Fall Themed Art Kit!
Fall Art, Handicraft, and Nature Study
8 great projects to complete and all materials are provided.
Each kit includes the instructions and materials to complete eight great projects with a minimum of effort. (Please note that you will need to provide common art supplies such as glue, tape, watercolors, washable markers, colored pencils, etc.)

These kits were gathered with children ages 6-12 in mind. The parent will need to be involved in some of the more complex projects such as the hand-sewing activity.

Contents of this kit:

1. A color art print of Van Gogh's Mulberry Tree and a short biography for Van Gogh
2. A worksheet to learn about this kit's art element which is "warm colors"
3. A 12 page nature journal ready to decorate and complete with the activities provided on each page
4. All the materials to complete this kit's sewing project which is a quilted potholder using fall colors (fall print fabric will vary)
5. An origami project with the paper provided
6. Materials to make a fall colored Sculpy leaf pendant necklace (Sculpy color will vary)
7. A watercolor project that demonstrates warm colors (you will need to provide the watercolors)
8. Materials for a fall leaf banner- including the fabric, dowel, yarn, and other items

We are offering this Fall Art, Handicraft, and Nature Study Kit for the low price of $9.95 plus $4.60 Priority rate postage. (If shipping outside of US or Canada, email us for shipping costs.)

Each kit is enough for one student but we will be offering additional student kits for $8.00.

We have a limited number of kits for this initial offering just to see how great the interest is in this sort of thing so please email us ASAP so you won't miss out. Please email us to make sure we still have kits available. For your convenience we will be accepting Paypal payments. Email us at:

***To order a kit, first email me at I will email you back and let you know if I still have kits available. I will also then give you my paypal account address so you can make a payment. Once I have received your payment I will ship it within the next few days**

**EDIT 10-13 as of today we are SOLD OUT**

Check back often for information about our upcoming winter themed kit. Thanks!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Some completed fall themed projects

So I am just about out of our fall themed kits. As of right now I just have two left! So if you are interested feel free to email me. I am getting a lot of good feedback. It seems like the kit is really meeting a need homeschooling parents have. Everyone wants to do arts and crafts and nature study it is just hard sometimes to get started.

Jennifer H. emailed me this photo of her four year old son's completed warm color worksheet. He drew a pumpkin patch in the box at the bottom of the page. The drawing next to it is fireworks. He used all the warm colors he could fine in his crayon box. Too cute!
Here are Rhonda's two children Robert and Ruth with their completed fall banners. Don't they look pleased with the results? I love how they are both so different. Great work guys!
If anyone else has purchased a kit and would like to share some photos on this blog feel free to email me. And be sure to check out my free downloads on the sidebar. I will be adding more soon. I have a whole list of ideas I want to share.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Free Download- Nature Journal Page

So I put together a free printable nature journal page to go along with my last post. I talked about taking a nature walk being more than just walking, but stopping to really enjoy being outdoors. The nature journal page is a fall nature walk/sense scavenger hunt.

Nature Journal Scavenger Hunt Page

Enjoy. I will be putting together some more printable nature journal pages as well as some artist notebooking pages, so check back often for updates.
I will be listing them on my sidebar as well. Enjoy!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Fall Nature Walk Ideas

If you are familiar with my mom, HarmonyArtMom, and her blog The Heart of Harmony then you have most likely read about the Green Hour- The National Wildlife Federation's encouragement to everyone to take one hour outside every day. An easy way to pass that hour is by taking a nature walk. If you live in the country it could just be around your yard, down your street, around your neighborhood. If you live in the city you could walk to a park, a garden, etc. Taking a nature walk is more than just walking, it is taking time to really take in and enjoy your surroundings.

Use your senses. What do you see? Hear? Smell? Feel? What is the weather like? How many birds can you see? Can you hear rustling leaves? leaves blowing and falling? leaves crunching? birds chirping? Can you find any animal tracks? How many different color leaves can you find? How many different leaf shapes? How many textures? Can you find something smooth? Something rough? Something cold? Something wet? Can you feel the warmth of the sun? Can you feel the wind?
Collect acorns, pinecones, seedpods, leaves, rocks, or anything else you find interesting and bring them home to display as a collection. See if you can identify the things you collected.

Any time you are able to spend outdoors will be time well spent. Having that connection with nature is so important, not only for children, but for us adults as well. It sort of reminds me of a quote that I recently read in Ralph Waldo Emerson's book Nature, "The health of the eye seems to demand a horizon. We are never tired, so long as we can see far enough." Isn't that so true? Something about being outside is energizing. When we can see all the way to the horizon without the clutter of people and buildings and cars it is refreshing. At least for me, it feels easier to breathe.

Monday, October 1, 2007

See the Fall Art Kit in Action!

~I absolutely *love* the results of this fall banner! Beautiful!~

Hope over at The Sinister Scribe has posted some photos of her and her children's projects from the fall art kit and has invited me to share them on this blog. Check the posts out here and here and here and here. Keep up the great work!

~Hope really embraced the whole idea of our kits- to introduce new and easy ideas parents can take and use in their home schooling and nature study even after they've completed the kit's projects. She took our idea of a Nature Journal book and made one for her younger daughter as well.~

~Hope's son Sam completed the warm color watercolor project and was inspired to try his hand at another painting. I love the wet on wet effect!~