Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Watercolor Techniques #1 Flat and Graded Washes

While he is quite young (five or six), he should begin to illustrate his notes freely with brush drawings; he should have a little help at first in mixing colours, in the way of principles, not directions. He should not be told to use now this and now that, but, 'we get purple by mixing and so,' and then he should be left to himself to get the right
Charlotte Mason Volume 1 Page 55
So I talked before about putting together a series of watercolor tutorials, and I am going to have some time to do this over the summer. I will try to post a new tutorial/lesson each week. They are going to be designed to help you introduce specific watercolor techniques to your children. I would recommend that each week you spend a few minutes sharing these lessons with your children and then give them time to explore on their own. By just giving your child time to work with watercolors on his own he will probably learn a lot about how colors mix when they are wet, how painting on a wet surface is different than a dry one, etc.

As I post new tutorials you will be able to find links to them in my sidebar.

For tutorial #1 you will need:

How to make a flat wash:

1. Dip your brush in the water and then load it with paint. 2. Paint a stripe across your paper (near the top). 3. DO NOT dip your brush in the water. Load it again with paint. 4. Paint a stripe directly under the stripe you last painted, overlapping slightly. Repeat until you have a large block of color.

How to make a graded wash:

1. Dip your brush in the water and then load it with paint. 2. Paint a stripe across your paper (near the top). 3. This time, dip your brush into the water and let some of the paint come off of the brush. (Don't swish your brush just dip it in.)

4. Paint a stripe directly under your first stripe. The darker color of the first stripe will blend with the lighter color of the second stripe.

5. Repeat steps three and four until there is no color left on your brush. 6. Experiment with different colors and brush sizes. My purple graded wash was made with a much smaller brush, so there are more intermediate shades of color.

If you and your children use my tutorial, I would love to see your paintings. Feel free to email me photos or leave links in the comments section.

Be sure to check back next week for another watercolor technique tutorial. You can also subscribe to my blog in a reader or by email using the links in my sidebar.

And if you haven't already heard, I am now accepting pre-ordrs for the Hearts and Trees summer kit. It is just what you are looking for to help you add art, nature study and handicrafts to your homeschool.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

An Easy Handicraft... Pony Bead Coaster

Here is an easy and functional handicraft you can do with your children. I know I saw this idea on the Internet somewhere, but I can't remember where exactly. It's a coaster made from a recycled lid and pony beads.

You will need:
  1. A small lid (I used a yogurt cup lid)
  2. Pony beads
  3. Glue

Step 1: Cover the inside of the lid with glue.

Step 2: Place the pony beads in the glue. Fill the entire lid. Make sure there is enough glue to make the beads stick. You may need to add more glue as you work. Step 3: Let it dry.It couldn't be easier! Even very young children would be able to do this project. If you make any pony bead coasters I would love to see your results. Feel free to leave links in the comments.

**Just an update about my summer themed kit. I will be starting a two week pre-ordering period on June 6th, with my first shipment on June 20th. I have a lot of fun projects included, so be sure to check back in June for more information about that.**

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A summer painting project

I just found an awesome blog post with instructions to make your own bubble painting. What a fun project this would be for a warm summer day. I will have to post results from when I try this project. I would love to see anything you and your children come up with. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Igor Stravinsky - The Rite of Spring

Here is another spring themed piece of music that I want to share with you all. This one is Igor Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring." It is actually from rather shocking ballet which Stravinsky wrote, but I love how powerful and dramatic this piece is. It would be interesting to share this movement with your children and to discuss any images of spring that may come to mind as you listen.

As you listen you might want to try this idea from my mom's blog: Coloring to Classical Music.

If you would like to learn more about Stravinsky you can check out a biography here.

A set from the ballet- scene 1.

If you are interested in purchasing a children's biography book for Stravinsky, here are two as well as two CDs from Amazon which include more movements from The Rite of Spring.

Enjoy! I would love to hear any of your or your children's response to this piece. If you enjoyed this movement, you might want to check out another Stravinsky favorite: The Firebird- Infernal Dance. (I love how this video shows the different instruments as they play. Can you name them all?)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Charlotte Mason and Nature Poetry

I just read the article The Teaching of Poetry to Children By Mrs. J. G. Simpson on Ambleside Online about the importance of helping our children to appreciate good poetry even at a young age. What makes good poetry according to Mrs. Simpson? "Poems which put a pleasant thought into your mind or a pleasant picture before your eyes." There is a lot of poetry out there written for children that doesn't necessarily put a pleasant thought or picture in one's mind after reading it. Some may wonder if their children may be unable to appreciate "good" poetry because it is not necessarily the easiest to understand. If we think about poetry as "word paintings," however, it may help us to realize that children can come to understand and appreciate great poetry, just like great art, by continuous exposure and our own enthusiasm.

With that in mind, here are a few nature themed poems that you might want to share with your children:
So, how can you include these poems in your homeschool? Here is a quote from Charlotte Mason recommending that children copy down favorite verses from their favorite poems. This is something that could easily be done in your nature journal.

"Children should Transcribe favourite Passages.––A certain sense of possession and delight may be added to this exercise if children are allowed to choose for transcription their favourite verse in one poem and another. This is better than to write a favourite poem, an exercise which stales on the little people before it is finished. But a book of their own, made up of their own chosen verses, should give them pleasure."
CM Volume 1 Page 238

Children are also very capable of memorizing verses of poetry. Perhaps your child's favorite verse, which he copied into his nature journal, could be something that he could work on memorizing. Mrs. Simpson brings out that great joy can be found in recalling a line of poetry as you observe something while on a nature walk.
So, what do you think? Do you include poetry in your nature journals? Do you and your children have a favorite poet or poem? Feel free to share it in the comments.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Gardens Art Show

This Hearts and Trees online art show focuses on gardens. I encourage you to share this art show with your children and to have a discussion about the different ways these artists painted gardens.

I might put together a set of notebooking pages for the Gardens Art Show, because I really am enjoying these paintings. If you would be interested in a set of notebooking pages/mini unit study like the ones I am offering for my clouds and still life art shows let me know (either in the comments or by email). If there is enough interest I will put them together.

Meanwhile, here are some suggestions of questions you can discuss with your children as you examine each painting.
  • How did each painter see gardens differently?
  • Look for cool and warm colors.
  • How many paintings have people in them?
  • How many paintings have animals?
  • How many paintings have buildings?
  • Decide on the "mood" of each painting- how does each painting make you feel?
  • Use the canvas measurements provided to see just how big or small a painting is.
  • Decide which painting is the most realistic and which is the least realistic.
  • Which is your favorite painting?
  • If you could change the name of a painting, what would you name it? Why?
  • If you find a painting you like, take a minute to look at some other paintings by that artist. (Artchive and ABC Gallery are where I found these paintings.
  • You could make your own version of your favorite garden painting.
  • You could sketch your own garden in the style of your favorite artist.
Howard Hodgkin--Small Henry Moore at the Bottom of the Garden

1975-77 Oil on wood 20 3/4 x 21 in. Private collection, New York

Claude Monet--The Artist's Garden at Vetheuil

1881Oil on canvas100 x 80 cm Private collection

Berthe Morisot--In the Garden at Maurecourt
1884 Oil on canvas 21 ¼ x 25 5/8 in. The Toledo Museum of Art

Frederic Bazille--Le Petit Jardinier (The Little Gardener)

c. 1866-67 Oil on canvas50 3/8 x 66 1/2 in Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Camille Pissarro--Woman and Child at a Well

1882 Oil on canvas Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA

Camille Pissarro--Apple Picking

1886 Oil on canvas Ohara Museum of Art, Kurashiki, Okayama, Japan

Pierre-Auguste Renoir--A Girl with a Watering-Can

1876 Oil on canvas The National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, USA

Gustav Klimt--Country Garden with Sunflowers

1905/6 Oil on canvas The Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna, Austria

Gustav Klimt--Garden Path with Chickens

1916 Oil on canvas110 x 110 cm Destroyed by fire at Immendorf Palace, 1945

Joan Miró--The Vegetable Garden with Donkey

1918 Oil on canvas 64 x 70 cm Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden

Claude Monet--Garden in Bloom at Sainte-Addresse

c.1866 Oil on canvas Musée d'Orsay, Paris, France

Pierre-Auguste Renoir--Monet painting in his garden at Argenteuil

1873 Oil on canvas 46 x 60 cm Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford

Pierre Bonnard--Garden at Midday

1943 Oil on canvas Private collection

Mary Cassatt--Lydia Crocheting in the Garden at Marly

1880 Oil on canvas 26 x 37 in Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Gustave Caillebotte--The Garden at Petit Gennevilliers in Winter

c 1894 Oil on canvas 73 x 60 cm Private collection

Alfred Sisley--Garden Path in Louveciennes (Chemin de l'Etarche)

1873 Oil on canvas 64 x 46 cm Private collection

Wassily Kandinsky--Murnau - Garden I

1910 Oil on canvas 66 x 82 cm Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, Germany

I hope you enjoyed this art show. Be sure to check out my other art shows (links are in the sidebar) as well as my notebooking pages. If you have any suggestions of themes you would like to see for my online art shows, feel free to leave me a comment.

Spring Kit For Sale Now!

I am now SOLD OUT of spring kits.
Be sure to check my sidebar for items I am currently selling!!!
The Hearts and Trees
Spring Themed
Art, Nature Study and Handicraft Kit

Each kit includes the instructions and materials to complete easy and fun handicraft, art and nature study projects with a minimum of effort. (Please note that you will need to provide common art supplies such as paper, markers, colored pencils, crayons, etc.)
I am so excited to introduce my newest kit. We have a number of new types of projects in this spring themed kit. For the first time, we have included a woodworking project! We were inspired by these handmade wooden animals. The kit comes with a wooden bird pre-cut and ready for you to sand and finish. The instructions page for this project also includes information about the different types of sandpaper.This kit also includes the materials and instructions to sew a plastic canvas bookmark--a favorite project of the kids at the school where I used to work. Another project in this kit is an origami jumping frog, which is sure to be a favorite. Our 4"x6" art print for this kit is Henri Rousseau's Exotic Landscape. We have again included a notebooking page for our featured artist. There are also the instructions for a Rousseau inspired art project. There is an art element notebooking page discussing the line family.

I had some help from my mom designing the nature study part of this kit. We decided to focus on birds as our nature study project. There are two pages of instructions, helping you to identify parts of a bird, bird sizes, and helping you to know what to look for so you can identify a bird later. Then we put together a bird observation page ready for you to use when you go out to observe birds- a place to record your observations so that you can identify the birds later. We also have included a laminated 3"x5" bird nature study card designed to be used for beginning bird watchers or younger students.

Complete Contents List:
1. Art Print: Rousseau’s Exotic Landscape
2. Henri Rousseau notebooking page
3. Art Element Worksheet: A Family of Lines
4. Materials for a woodworking bird project (poplar wooden bird and 2 pieces of sandpaper)
5. Materials for a plastic canvas bookmark (plastic canvas, variegated yarn and tapestry needle)
6. Paper to make an origami jumping frog (1 5½” square of green paper)
7. 2 Bird Nature Study Observations pages (½ sheets of paper)
8. Laminated 3”x5” bird observation card to be used for bird nature study
9. Instructions for plastic canvas bookmark/origami jumping frog (not included in additional materials kit)
10. Instructions for woodworking bird/Rousseau jungle landscape (not included in additional materials kit)
11. Instructions for bird nature study (2 pages- not included in additional materials kit)
12. Cardboard to be used as clipboard for nature study observations
These kits were gathered with children ages 6-12 in mind. Parents may need to help their students, especially younger children, with some aspects of this kit.



Friday, May 2, 2008

Gardening with Children

~Seedlings started in yogurt cups.~

So, if you haven't already, it is probably time to start thinking about planting your summer vegetable and flower garden. This is a great activity to include in your homeschool. Not only can gardening be a lot of fun and very rewarding, but it also provides a lot of opportunities for your children to observe nature firsthand.

Here are a few tips for including your children in the gardening process:

  • Give each child their own plot of ground. This could be an area of the family garden or even a good-sized pot on your front porch or deck. Having ownership of their own plants brings a sense of responsibility as well as a sense of accomplishment.
  • Let your child choose what he or she would like to plant in their garden. It can be so much fun to look through a seed catalog, walk the aisles of the nursery, or check out a colorful display of seed packets. Check out this top ten list of crops that are child friendly here so that you can steer your children towards plants that are most likely to be successful.
  • Don't expect your children to be involved in every little part of the gardening process. Depending on the age of the child, you may need to help out behind the scenes.
  • Let your child give garden tours to visiting family and friends.
  • Involve your children in the harvesting and preparing any vegetables for the table or cutting any flowers for decorating around your house.

We always had a vegetable garden in the summer when I was younger. I have a lot of memories of working in the garden with my parents and brothers-- pulling weeds, watering, picking the vegetables. I think my favorite part of gardening as a young child was the harvesting part. I loved picking the monster-sized zunchinni or searching out the green beans on the vine. I think that eating vegetables you have grown yourself also just taste better. I am not sure how it works, but I think it's true. The past few summers, I have mainly grown flowers in my garden box, while my mom and brothers grow the vegetables. Last year in my I grew: zinnias, hollyhocks, cosmos, daisies, violas, and clover. My mom and brothers planted: lettuce, peppers, zuchinni, tomatoes, green beans, pumpkins, various herbs, sunflowers, marigolds, and pansies. Having so many different plants might be ambitious if you are new to gardening.

I hope you are inspired to get out there and garden with your children. I will be posting more in the following weeks about gardening with children as well as updating you on my own gardening adventures.

The theme for next Monday's art show is going to be gardens, so make sure you check back in to see some wonderful artwork focusing on gardens. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Nature Study with Milk Cartons

I recently came across two interesting nature study projects using recycled cardboard milk cartons that I would like to share with you all.

The first project is an Underwater Viewer from You can use this to look into a puddle or creek. Have you ever wondered what lives in a puddle? I would be interested to hear what you find.

The second project is a Root Viewer Box. By cutting the side of the milk carton and gluing on a transparency you are able to observe the roots of the seeds you plant as they grow.

Feel free to share the results of any projects you and your children might do using these links.

I am putting together a post about gardening and nature study for tomorrow, so be sure to check back for that. And I will have another Hearts and Trees Art Show for Monday.