Organizing Art Stuff

My kids have enjoyed arts and crafts since they were little, and as they have become teens, our art and craft materials has grown in quantity.

Here are some practical tips of how we organize and store our art stuff conveniently on our little arts and crafts bookshelf.

Practical Tip 1   Everything has its place and a place for everything

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Our stationary tray filled with little boxes has worked excellently over the years.  Each little square box stores the different types of pens, crayons, fiber-tipped pens, and colored pencils.

Practical Tip 2  Buy quality art materials & let everyone share

When someone needs, say, the gel pens, they simply take out the box out of the tray and use them at their table.  Once finished, they quickly pop the box back in the tray.  We all share the same pencils and pens.

Very little kids may need their own chubby art crayons and basic paint sets, but as soon as they are able to correctly use the basic stationary, I train them and let them share with the older kids.

Here are some of my most important rules:

  1. Clean your paint brush and tray before it dries.
  2. Pack your things away where it belongs.
  3. Work with a little and add more later, rather than pour too much and waste.
  4. Do NOT drop the pencils!

I like to purchase lovely, big sets of art materials, 24 colors or more, and we all enjoy the full range.  Rather than spending money on each child’s own set, one really large quality set shared by all is just as economical.

Practical Tip 3   Store all the paints, brushes and mixing trays in a “painting box”Art Supplies

When we paint, we take out the painting box and everything is on hand.  Before, I had paints in one box, trays in another and brushes in another, but, with a little re-organization, we fitted everything into a large, shallow box.

I painted the lids of all the acrylic paint bottles so that we can easily find the color we need.

The brushes are all stored bristlesup in the bottle and they dry perfectly.

Practical Tip 4  Plastic suitcases to store craft supplies 1-P1160658-001

We have used these small plastic suitcases to store our craft supplies for years. These suitcases have lasted for over 15 years!  Standing upright on the bottom shelf, we can easily pull out the case we need for our craft activity.

We store craft items in Ziplock bags.  If we purchase or receive craft materials in boxes, I cut the box lid flat, leaving off the sides, and store it inside the Ziplock bag, along with any instruction pamphlet, for slim, space-saving storage.

Each child has their own little suitcase for their own stickers, craft papers, and bits and bobs.  We tie labels on the suitcase handle.

Practical Tip 5  Store paper and cardstock in clear shelving 1-P1160657

We have used these clear, plastic drawers for years, too.  A simple plan makes habit training simple.

Once again, Ziplock bags save us from chaos!  Any paper or card that has a piece cut off must go into a large Ziplock bag in the drawer.  This keeps full paper or card sheets separate from any slightly used sheets.  Kids waste less if they know that they must find some bits or smaller pieces in a Ziplock bag, rather than cut off a small section from a full-page.

With a little training and some gentle reminders, my children have learnt to use, enjoy, clean up & pack away after their art and craft activities and creative endeavors, and our art stuff is ready for the next lesson.

What practical tips do you find works in your home?  Please share with us in the comments.

Blessings,

Sketch Tuesday ~ Upside Down

This week’s Sketch Tuesday theme is

Upside Down

Isn’t this ‘hanging upside down’ sketch just wonderful?

I noticed that Lara sketched the girl’s necklace hanging down toward her ear and I knew that she remembered exactly how her silver necklace felt when she last hung upside down!

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Sloths hang upside down … so I looked at sloths on Pinterest and discovered my latest, most favorite, cute animal in the world!  I never knew they were so adorable!

Sketch Tuesday Upside Down 001

I encourage you and your kids to join Sketch Tuesday for Barb’s new weekly theme and slideshow.

It is a gift to be creative!

Blessings,

Reader’s Question ~ Why such a fuss about cursive handwriting?

This week I would like to share another interesting reader’s question ~
 She writes ~
“My 10-year-old son makes a huge fuss about learning to write in cursive!  He seems stressed, angry and tearful when he tries to write in cursive.  What can I do to help him?”
Here are some of my comments, hints and suggestions ~

Handwriting chart & copywork pages

Handwriting chart & copywork pages

  • Anger and tears usually represent some kind of frustration or fear.
  • Try diffuse the lesson with some handwriting activity that is really easy and fun, such as letter recognition / search games, pattern play, use fun “writing” mediums such as shaving cream on a window!
  • I would ask,
    • “Is he  ‘ready‘ for cursive?
    • Does he know his alphabet?
    • What is his fine motor control like?
    • How does he hold/ grip his pencil and how accurate is he doing small movements?
    • Is his eyesight okay?
    • He may have physical difficulties and require some therapy or extra help.
  • Teach the lesson with a large, clear laminated cursive lower case cursive chart and whiteboard markers. This is a quick, easy way to teach all the letters before going on to copywork.
  • Tell him that he can quickly and easily wipe away any mistakes when he uses a whiteboard marker.  Some kids hate to make mistakes!  Although pencil rubs out, whiteboard markers are super-quick to erase!
  • Whiteboard markers make lovely bold, smooth lines, therefore no need to pen pressure = less stress.
  • Demonstrate each letter and talk through your movements.  See my Handwriting Hints tips and booklet.
  • Girls love to use gel glitter pens.  Find a favorite pen for a boy!
  • Find or make ‘olden days’ letters or manuscripts to read.
  • For fun, let him make his own with quill feather and ink on paper aged with tea!  Let him make invisible ink and write secret spy letters.
  • Only use cursive for formal handwriting lessons, but allow him to continue to use print for his own notes and notebooking.
  • Select really funny/ interesting copywork for him to practice.
  • Practice daily.  Provide a short copywork piece / extract from his favorite book.  Pop over to my free copywork pages.
  • If all these tips do not help, I would suggest you take your child to a therapist for more precise testing. Remedial therapy is often presented in fun activities and yet produce great results.
What other suggestions would you give this reader?  Please share in the comments below.
Blessings,
 

Sketch Tuesday ~ Deli

This week’s Sketch Tuesday theme is ~

Deli

Here are our sketches ~

Sketch Tuesday Deli 001

Sketch Tuesday Deli 002

We enjoy sketching and daily drawing!

I encourage you and your kids to join Sketch Tuesday for Barb’s new weekly theme and slideshow.

Sketching regularly awakens one’s creativity and artistic sensitivity!

Blessings,

Knights – New Paper Dolls

We have updated our Middle Ages paper dolls and men.

I have created a new page with a Knight and his armor and weapons.

Knights

Knights1

The young squire dressed the knight, layering all the underclothes, chain-mail, armor and coat of arms tunic and weapons.  If kids follow the list of armor given on the page with the knight man, they will dress the knight correctly.

There are also 2 pages with a Medieval Man’s clothes, including clothes worn by the poor peasant, merchant or wealthy man.

Knights3

The Middle Ages lady pages now include clothes worn by peasants, merchants and the wealthy Medieval lady.  These detailed illustrations and labels will give a child a real understanding of the clothing and lifestyle of the era.

Knights2

This is a wonderful ‘keep-those-hands-busy’ activity for kids to make while you read aloud!

Pop over to my Free Pages and check out all the paper dolls & men!

Blessings,

Sketch Tuesday ~ Frozen

This week’s Sketch Tuesday theme is

Frozen

Here is my sketch ~

Sketch Tuesday Frozen 001

My youngest daughter, who normally always submits a sketch, started her own 25-day Drawing Challenge, and was so busy sketching and painting that she completely forgot about her Sketch Tuesday contribution!  But, she is determined to contribute to this coming week’s topic.

I encourage you and your kids to join Sketch Tuesday for Barb’s new weekly theme and slideshow.

It has motivated and inspired us to be more creative and to sketch often!

Blessings,

Sketching Daily Delights

We have sketched regularly with Barb’s Sketch Tuesday for years and years and I shared of the advantages of sketching regularly.

But this year I felt led to sketch more than once a week.  

Looking in Pinterest, I found a 30 Day Doodle Challenge,  made my own little sketchbook and started!

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I made no laws or rules … simply try sketch daily and use different media and methods now and then.

My pages are small, A5, and so the sketch should take 30 minutes or so.

I had a blast!

Some days I spent an hour or more totally absorbed.

Some days I just had to do another sketch …

and another …

My creativity levels just blossomed and bloomed.

I discovered the joy of new techniques, using water-soluble color pencils and my water-brush instead of my water paints.

 Sketching daily stimulated me!

I felt alive.

Somehow, I could calmly think, pray, plan and dream as I doodled.

It relaxed me.

This was “Mother Culture” … investing time in daily nurture and creativity.

It was delightful!

I’m off to start my next 30-day sketch challenge, and my youngest daughter has just made her own sketch book to join me.  We are going to have fun!

Will you also join us?

Blessings,

Handwriting line upon line

You may wonder why preschool teachers use different sized lined pages in early handwriting lessons. You may simply assume that your child will simply learn write on store-bought lined paper, but this may lead to enormous frustration and stress for your young child.

Let’s establish one simple rule ~

Always teach large – to – smaller

  • Start with very wide spaces on blank paper.  Pre-school teachers use blank paper and fold it into quarters = 4 lines.
  • Then fold the quarters in half and = 8 narrower lines.  Teach young preschoolers to draw their lines or circles between the folded lines.
  • You can draw or print different colored  or dotted lines ~

Write the letters ‘sitting’ on the blue line, body of letter touching the red dotted line and the tall letter shapes touching the black line

Teach child to write between the dotted and the black lines

But you can appreciate that all these lines are very confusing!  Where does your child know where to start?

Here’s my proven CAT or MAN tip:Man in handwriting lines

  1. First, chose the line width to match your child’s skills – wide for beginners, narrower as they master their fine motor skills and spatial recognition.
  2. Draw a margin down the left side of the page.
  3. Now draw a cat in the margin.  The cat body is a circle that fills the middle body lines, the cat head fills to the top line and the tail hangs to touch the bottom line.  Many teachers draw the body line in blue: blue = bodyPrint Lower case with cat & arrows
  4. Now you can refer to every letter stroke ~
    • All letters sit in the body line.  Most letters start on the top body line. (There are body lines!  See why this is difficult for some children to ‘see’?)
    • Tall letters (like b, d, f, l & t) all touch the top head line.  Some start here.
    • Some letters have a ‘tail’ (like g, j, p, q & y) which hang to touch the bottom line.
    • All UPPER CASE letters and all numbers start in the ‘head’ line.
    • All UPPER CASE letters and all numbers ‘sit’ on the body line.
    • No upper case letter or number hangs below the body!
  5. Next, teach the child to draw a stick man in the margins of their lined page.  
    This is very important!  Once the child starts any handwriting lesson on lined paper, FIRST draw in the men!  This helps the child know where to start and finish each letter stroke. (This is not art, it is a quick reference!  Don’t let them waste time here!)Print Lower Case & numbers with stick man
  6.  Eventually, before any handwriting lesson, we used a quick abbreviation of the man = my children drew a DOT in the ‘head’ line and a VERTICAL DASH in the ‘body’ line, and skipped open a line.  A quick dot-dash-skip … dot-dash-skip … all the way down the margin prepared them for their handwriting or copywork lesson.  They started all body letters in the lines with the vertical slash and all uppercase or tall letters in the line with the dot.
  7. When buying lined exercise notebooks for your children, look for widest lined pages.  Don’t be afraid to use lots of paper and spread each letter over 3 lines (head, body & tail) and skip a line.
  8. Then your children can work with normal lined pages, again using 3 lines and skipping a line.
  9. Children work by then working on Irish lined paper. These are much narrower than the normal lined paper, but, working over the 3 lines and skipping a line, the size of the handwriting is much smaller and more like the normal handwriting size.
  10. Finally, when working on 1 line and writing ‘normally’  some children need to be reminded to work halfway up in the body line.  You may try ~
    • Draw in a faint pencil line halfway through the body line.
    • Place a special lined guide chart under the page – I simply drew black lines on cardstock to slide under the lined page and the faint outline could still be seen.  The halfway line was dotted.  This worked very well in my classroom where some children either wrote too small or too large, or varied their sizes too much.

Now, with these handwriting tips, you are ready to visit my handwriting pages for charts to laminate, handwriting tips and lined pages.

You can also find free handwriting lined paper downloads at Donna Young and  Activity Village.

Blessings,

Use Comics to Teach Reported Speech

Previously, I described our effective lesson we enjoyed using our own Solar System comic strips to learn to write direct speech.

In this lesson, I wanted to teach reported speech.  My daughter chose her most dramatic comic strip story and she pretended that she was a news reporter, changing her speech dialogue into reported speech.

Solar System Mercury

Once again, we looked for examples of reported speech in our read aloud literature books.  Charlotte Mason’s principle to teach grammar and language arts through living books and good literature is amazingly effective!

We then used the Usborne Book of English Grammar for a clear lesson demonstrating the basic rules of writing reported speech.  These are the rules we summarized ~

  • Report what someone said using your own words.
  • No need for inverted commas.
  • Change the verb to the past tense.

Next, we worked through one or two comic blocks, converting the speech bubbles into reported speech.  Check those verb tenses!

My daughter then worked on her own and wrote her comic strip as a wonderful news report.  Here’s an extract ~

Mercury Expedition Reported Speech

She typed her report on MS Word as a simple report.  I used her enthusiasm in the lesson to teach her how to change her report and create a newspaper article, complete with huge headline, large byline, her name and the report.  She learnt how to create columns and add a clip art illustration.  Saved, and printed, she had a fabulous report which she proudly read and showed to dad!

I love finding simple and effective lessons, and this was a winner!

Note – this is a good LA lesson for advanced middle schoolers or junior high children.

Blessings,

 

Sketch Tuesday ~ Hat

This week’s Sketch Tuesday theme is

Sketch something with a hat

Here are our sketches ~

Sketch Tuesday Hat 001 Sketch Tuesday Hat 002 Sketch Tuesday Hat 003

I encourage you and your kids to join Sketch Tuesday for Barb’s new weekly theme and slideshow.

It has motivated and inspired us to be more creative and to sketch often!

Blessings,