Solar System Comics ~ Venus

In my last post ! shared our Mercury comics and this week, after we read about Venus in our Exploring Creation with Astronomy book, we made comic strips on some of the facts on Venus.

(Actually, this comic strip lesson was our first attempt and we went back to make our Mercury comics.  Somehow, there seems to be more detail and artistry in our Mercury comics?  I am planning and hoping that we will create a comic strip for each planet and chapter in our Astronomy studies.)

Creating comic strips is a wonderful visual method of narration.  A picture can tell a thousand words!  Comics capture loads of information!

Here are our comics on Venus ~

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(Miss.L12 allowed me to write over her pencil dialogue and pictures in black pen so that they would scan better)

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Here is a free blank comic strip page download ~ Solar System Comic notebooking pages

Read here for comic book tips.

Blessings,

Sketch Tuesday ~ Kitchen Drawer

Sketch Tuesday is back!

This week’s theme is ~ Sketch something from your kitchen drawer.

Because we recently had such fun with wet-on-wet water paints, I suggested we experiment with water-color & salt on our paper to create an interesting background.  We taped our page on our boards, used big sponges to wet the entire page and then painted colors which we merged and blended together.

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For fun, I suggested that we sprinkle some salt here and there and create interesting patterns and texture.  (Salt placed on wet water paints “draws” some of the color onto the grain, creating tiny areas of intense color and areas of white around it.)

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Then I showed the girls some examples of contour drawing on Pinterest.  Contour drawing is basically drawing a continuous line without lifting your pencil and following the shapes and lines of the object without looking at your paper.  Scary for some, but I wanted the art to look loose and free.

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Next, we painted the object.  Loose and free, with a little blending, drying and adding details.

Finally we outlined with black pen, adding details and shading.  (I must add that I had my “artistic crisis” when I realized that my contour drawing was completely wonky and my corkscrew was very skew!  I chatted to the girls to discuss how I could “fix” it.  We came up with some ideas, but in the end the only thing that felt “right” for me was to chop up my painting so that it clearly didn’t align perfectly.  I’m okay with my final art piece!)

Sketch Tuesday is the perfect place to try different techniques, art mediums or even copy the style of other artists.

See you at the slide show!

Blessings,

Solar System Comics ~ Mercury

Our Exploring Creation with Astronomy book suggested that we make a comic strip following reading our chapter.  What a novel notebooking idea!

My youngest daughter is very visual, so she immediately conceptualized images for her comic strip and drew incredibly detailed illustrations.

I love comics because you can pack a lot of information in a small space, and comics compel children to read!  (Moms and Dads, let your children read comics!)

Then my 14-year-old read our comics and decided to join in the fun.  She had us in stitches with her humorous comic strip!

The girls and I shared our comics with Dad and older brother .  They thoroughly enjoyed them, and more exciting, they could tell us quite a lot of information based on what they had just read!

Here are our comics on Mercury~

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(P.S. I simply wrote over her pencil writing … just so it was clearer)

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(I absolutely love Miss.K14’s sense of humor and her artistic details!)

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Here is a free blank comic strip page download ~ Solar System Comic notebooking pages

Encourage your children to draw comics for their narrations.

Here are some tips:

  1. Plan out 8 facts/ ideas on rough paper first. Just think … eight blocks = eight facts?
  2. Look at some real comics with your children before your start to show how a reader reads the dialogue from left to right, from top to bottom if there is more than one “call out” or speech bubble in a block.
  3. First write out the dialogue small & neatly, then draw the speech bubble around the words.  This prevents you running out of space in your bubble.
  4. Use different shaped “call out” bubbles – bubbled for thoughts, pointed to a mouth as speech, zig-zag to show radio comments or computer voice.
  5. Add a top or bottom information phrase block if needed, like: Later on … or Back inside …
  6. Use the space left after the speech to draw simple ideas.
  7. Use onomatopoeic (sound effect) words and draw them with style to show something popping, crashing, exploding, squeaking etc.
  8. Be creative!  Have FUN!

Blessings,

 

Solar System Mobile

Another mobile?” you may ask.

Solar system mobile

Solar System Mobile

Well, months ago, while browsing a large crafts store in a big city, I purchased some polystyrene balls especially packaged for a solar system mobile, and packed them away until we started our Exploring Creation with Astronomy by Jeannie K. Fulbright.  Then, we launched (yes, pun intended!) into our theme by creating the solar system mobile.

My daughter figured out how to support each ball to paint and let them dry without smudging them.  She used a small piece of wire stuck inside candle stick holders and pierced the wire into each ball.  We used acrylic paints and sponges.  Middle sister joined in because it looked such fun!  We referred to printouts of the planets to correctly select the appropriate-sized balls and paint them the right colors.

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We needed a large, large sun that would not be too heavy.  We compromised on the sun’s size and covered our inflatable earth globe with paper mache.  (A beach ball would also do, but the world globe has a stand which allowed us to turn and cover the ball with paper and glue.) I used a small amount of wallpaper glue mixed with water in the correct ratio … (I sneaked in a little maths lesson!)  Wallpaper glue lasts for several days in a sealed container, and spills and drips wash off easily.

The next day we recovered our sun’s newspaper layers with white paper strips and let it dry. Then, when dried, we deflated the globe enough to insert the scissors and snip a large slit and pull the flattened globe out our ball.  A few layers of  new paper mache to close our slit, and another day to allow to dry completely.  Somehow, the newly glued section softened previous layers and our beautiful ball became a bit wonky.  But my daughter was completely unfazed because, “the sun is a burning ball of gas and it’s not perfectly round, is it, mom?” Absolutely!

I bent a large piece of used fence wire and we used fish gut to suspend all the globes. There were a few problem-solving moments because our wire ring did not hang level.  We decided to add some blue, yellow and white glass beads to balance the mobile.  What an ingenious idea, because these beads looked like stars!  We could have hung planet moons too, I suppose, which would also be a great idea …

A great hands-on activity!  It was really educational too, because by the end of this activity, my daughter knew all the planets’ names, their relative sizes and colors, and could easily identify them in our studies.  Wonderful introduction to Astronomy!

Here are some of the Solar System websites I pinned or filed in OneNote ~

Have fun making your solar system model!

Blessings,

Try wet-on-wet waterpaints!

For this week’s Fine Arts Friday art lesson, I used a simple wet-on-wet waterpaint tutorial I found on YouTube.

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Miss.K14

The artist’s wet-on-wet painting technique really inspired me because he demonstrated several “new” things I hadn’t ever tried with water paints, such as ~

  • If your paper is wet, the added wet paint flows out and spreads beautifully.  You can paint large areas this way without the dried ‘edges’ showing.
  • Wet paint of different colors can be blended together seamlessly on the paper.
  • Wet paint can be ‘lifted‘ off the paper with a clean wet brush if it is too dark or the wrong color effect.
  • Once dried (he uses a hairdryer) you can paint new water and/ or new paint over the dried paints and paint over them again and again, laying down new layers of color. This helps sharpen and deepen your painting.  You can keep re-painting, drying and then adding more detail and colors.  This is especially good when doing shadows or creating depth.
  • When you want to add deep color and fine details, you can paint denser paint on dry paper or dry paint.

We set up our own little rusty cup with a (struggling little) fern and painted our own rusty cups using these new wet-on-wet paint techniques.

We used ~

  1. 300gsm water-color paper
  2. water paints (We used water paints in tubes which have the ‘proper’ color names used by professional artists.  May I suggest that it is worth investing in quality products for art and train your children to work with them correctly and carefully.  We always share our art materials and they have lasted for years!)
  3. Quality paint brushes.  (Again, see #2 and invest in good brushes!)
  4. Boards and masking tape.  Tape your paper to the board to keep your sheet of paper flat.
  5. Hair dryer.  (Use a low air speed so that you don’t blow your wet paint around on your painting.)
  6. Jars of clean water and clean cloths or tissues to clean off brushes and spills.

As a mom, the tutorial gave me the confidence to try my hand at the new wet-on-wet painting techniques while ‘helping’ and encouraging my kids with their discoveries.  We all thoroughly enjoyed our art lesson!

Art rusty cup

Miss.L12 (She used a sponge with water to wet the large background areas)

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My rusty cup

You can find the “Watercolor demo painting a rusty jug” tutorials here on YouTube ~

Give this lesson a try!

Blessings,

Spring Blossoms

We have experienced an unusually mild, dry winter.  There has been no snow on our mountains and yet we have experienced some of the worst frost ever.  Since it is still August, it came as a surprise to find our fruit orchard full of blossoming trees.  My previous early spring blossom sketches in my nature diary were done September last year.Blossoms1

My youngest daughter led me out to enjoy the warm sunshine and we went to view “our” Maple tree. We first measured our Maple tree  in 2011 and the little tree was just as tall as Miss.L12, just over 1 meter high.  This spring it is twice my height!  I was glad that my nature journal contained many of my older nature study pages because we could compare our current tree study with previous years and seasons.

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We spent time looking at the variety of fruit trees’ blossoms.  I was utterly enchanted by our blue berry blossoms which looked like little bells.  We sketched and painted and we both experimented with wet-on-wet water painting which worked wonderfully! (I’m afraid that my scanner did not pick up the colors of our watercolors.)

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As our time was running out, and we had already spent much of our morning outside (time flies when you are having fun sketching), I sent Miss.L12 with the camera to capture all the blossoms.  We plan to use the photos to sketch and paint or simply to compare the differences between the different blossoms.

Blossoms

We are so happy to enjoy our lovely early spring nature study here in South Africa and wish a happy autumn to those living in the Northern Hemisphere!

Blessings,

(Contributing this post to the Outdoor Hour Challenge Blog Carnival.)

Hard Homeschool Moments

Gosh, my last post “Love Homeschool” generated a flurry of comments and emails!

I’m so grateful that I have enough blog posts here on Practical Pages to ensure readers that I have my fair share of hard and heart-sore homeschool moments  … like “Stresses and struggles” and the challenge of teaching High School Maths … And while my previous post sounded like it’s all sunshine and roses, I am currently floundering and feel out of my depth.  And this is hard.

My middle child started with Cambridge education this year.  Previously, she and my eldest daughter used a textbook-based correspondence that I could quite confidently teach and facilitate.  But with this new curriculum, I am in need of a serious upgrade to help tutor her and we live too far from town to regularly attend tutor sessions.  I admit that I ‘dropped the ball’ on her homeschooling … and she “unschooled”, or should I say “non-schooled”, the first 6 months of this year.

Recently, we attended adviser sessions and we are still on track.  My daughter is 14-years-old and has 4 years to complete the Cambridge courses. They have a two-year exam sitting rule to qualify for university acceptance, so we have plenty of time to work through the course materials and prepare.  We have started lessons with a tutor and I can already see my child’s approach and confidence improve.

It has been my lack of confidence that has made this year tough, but we have made good progress and I feel that we will actually manage …  and a month from now it may not seem as hard as it seems right now.

So, to all you moms who are trying to figure it out, join the veteran homeschool club of moms still trying to figure it out.

Hard homeschooling keeps me humble and urges me to prayer.

Blessings for you in the hard times … this, too, shall come to pass.