Add variety for sparkle

Image result for bright sparkEveryone loves and needs variety – from the foods we eat, to learning and homeschool,  to our normal day-to-day routines.  But when schedules seem to work well, it is easy to keep using the same approach and we may find ourselves eventually getting stuck in a rut.

Even when everyone is working well and making steady progress, homeschooling while in a rut may feel boring, dull and lifeless.  When this happens, Charlotte Mason’s approach allows for variety and interest.

Here are some ideas to add some sparkle to you homeschool days.  Simply mix things up a bit each term. You don’t have to completely reinvent the wheel, but try not to be locked in to the same subjects at the same times on the same days year after year.

  • Daily themes 2015Swap different days for composer/music study, art/picture study or nature study.  I used Theme Days for our week which worked so well to help us fit all the extras into our routine.
  • Listen to or read aloud a new Shakespeare play or poet.
  • Start a new book or audio book and perhaps include a new genre such as comedy (Roald Dahl) or a mystery story.
  • Work through some exciting Science experiment books.
  • Add in a new lapbook for your Core reader or main theme.
  • Look for an interesting hands-on activity for your theme or Core book.
  • Go on a weekly park day with friends one term.
  • Start a new exercise regimen or outdoor family activity.
  • Begin the day differently or end it with a splash of something fun!  A fun action song works fabulously for younger kids!
  • Buy new art supplies and materials and enjoy new creative fun.
  • Download or stream new classical music and explore music genres.  My kids absolutely loved mom and dad’s “trip down memory lane” listening to famous songs and music from our generation!
  • Create a puppet show or make a quick finger puppet show.  You can download our Esther play and Nativity play which gave us weeks of fun and creativity!
  • Watch historical DVD or movies related to your Core study.
  • View appropriate YouTube videos.  Always preview and create your own playlist for your family.
  • Have your homeschool in a different room for the day.  Go to the library or museum instead, or have an outdoor day if the weather permits.
  • Play a “back-to-front day” and have fun inventing an upside down day!  The kids will absolutely love the spontaneous fun!
  • Buy each child a new nature journal or art sketchbook and start with new prompts.
  • Sketch Tuesday was a wonderful “break” from any tough, boring day.

So when things seem dull or lifeless or you just need a change to liven things up, add some variety and keep things fresh.  Add a sparkle to your homeschool days!

What worked for you?  Please share with us in the comments below.

Blessings, Nadene
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Practical Tip ~ Creative Opportunities

We are a very creative family!  Right from the start, I provided art and craft materials and allowed my children much free time to create daily in our homeschooling, which I believe laid the foundation to their  their talent and enjoyment of all things creative.  May I encourage you to do the same?

Homeschool 20154Set up a craft area with supplies to provide creative opportunities for your children.  This is especially good for hands-on activities while the children listen to a read alouds, or for handicraft time in the afternoons.

Art and craft supplies need not be expensive.  I started our collection with a cheap craft purchase here and there each month, and added new, interesting items to our stash to keep my kids excited and stimulated.  I stored these items in Ziploc bags in plastic suitcases, placed in an easily accessible area on the bookshelf.   Read how I organized our art supplies here.1-P1160658-001

Here are 25 art and craft ideas gathered from around the globe on Pinterest ~

  1. Watercolor set, brushes and paper
  2. Wax crayons and watercolor to create wax-resist painting
  3. Giant chalk to create outdoors drawings on concrete floors
  4. Shoestrings and wooden beads
  5. Cheap camera and nature prompt list
  6. Recipes and ingredients
  7. Magazine, scissors and glue to make a collage
  8. Soap block or soft pine wood pieces and carving tools
  9. Wool and pompom maker
  10. Shaving cream, food coloring in a tray to make marbled paper
  11. Lego, cardstock and felt-tipped markers to create a Lego diorama
  12. Flowers and vases or flower press to create a pressed flower collection
  13. Felt, scissors and a felt board
  14. Pipe cleaners and tiny pompoms to create fantasy animals
  15. Sunflower and bean seeds and some small garden  tools
  16. Long piece of cheap fabric, pegs and poles to create a tepee or tent
  17. Tinfoil, card board, glue and string to create foil art
  18. Stamps and stamp pads
  19. Feathers and beads to make necklaces
  20. 51 ideas with shoe boxes
  21. Dress up clothes
  22. Music instruments or let them make their own musical instruments
  23. Twisty balloons
  24. Leaf rubbings with wax crayons
  25. When all else fails – Bored jar with activity ideas
Tips on making art and crafts activities easier ~
  • It is worth spending a while clearly and simply demonstrating to your children how to work with the materials, how to take care with specific things, how to clean up and pack away.
  • Establishing foundation skills with each activity prevents the mess and chaos that most moms hate and therefore avoid doing art and crafts.
  • Purchase some plastic sheeting or cheap painter’s drop cloths to cover the floor if working with messy things.
  • Insist that your children wear an old over-sized T-shirt (my kids loved wearing their dad’s T-shirts) or art smocks or aprons over their clothes.  You can even make aprons out of plastic bags.
  • Set a limit where the activity can take place.  Children may only work in a specific room, on specific tables or floors.  Don’t encourage them to wander around with the supplies.
  • Remind your children to wash paint brushes, close glue tops, pack away when done.
  • Lastly, provide a lovely gallery to display their works of art.

Check out all my art ideas, lesson plans and free downloads on my Art Page.  Have you got any creativity ideas to share with us?  Please share in the comments below.

Here’s wishing you and your family hours and days of fun and creativity!

Blessings, Nadene
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Time for creative mom

In response to my post Sketching Again, a reader recently asked,

“How much time do we as moms need each day to be creative? “

I suppose it depends on your family life and demands on your time, and whether you enjoy creative activities.  Enjoyment is a powerful motivation.

If I can carve just 20 minutes of creative sketch time for myself, I feel so grateful and rewarded. This is not every day, and it is not always possible when life and stressful situations are more important, but it is something I find easy to pick up and do when there is a lull or gap in my days.  Right now, with just one teen to assist in her homeschooling, I have a lot more free time than I had while juggling three young kids all on different cores so I can find time to be creative!

We need to grow and be creative ourselves in order to give continually to others.

For some folk that “creative / me time” may be physical, such as going for a brisk walk or run, doing a quick workout, or taking a nice hot bath with soft music playing. Others need to be alone, maybe to read a book or listen to a podcast.   Some love to garden, sew, knit, quilt, or sketch.

When the children are young, then it is best to sketch or craft with them. Within a few weeks of doing sketches or nature journal prompts, the kids feel more confident and know what to do and can pretty much work without your help, giving you that time to do the activity along with them.

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Doing art together with my children. You’ll see my art page at the bottom of the picture.

We enjoyed Fabulous Fine Arts Fridays, a whole day for our Music and Art Appreciation lessons and some poetry or Shakespeare.  Our Fridays were always so relaxing and enjoyable, so different from our normal school schedule, that we all looked forward to this time together.  It was also very informal.  We simply listened to a classical music piece while observing an artist’s work and often did some art ourselves.

Sketch Tuesdays always were a wonderful opportunity to draw and sketch something really simple.  Because we had a whole week to complete the sketch, there never was any pressure.  And despite there being no feedback or critique given, the children learnt so much about their art and skills simply by viewing the slideshow and experimenting with new and different art mediums.  We sometimes copied other famous artist’s style in some of our Sketch Tuesday sketches, discovering the artist’s true talent and ability.  Again, it is fairly simple to pull out some paper and sketch and paint right alongside your children.

Otherwise, simply do something creative and personally rewarding in the afternoons while the family are doing their own thing.  I often find a half hour after lunch before I need to take down washing or start preparing dinner.  Weekends are also a good time to sketch, paint, garden, sew or do some sort of creative hobby.

If you have lots of children, or little babies or busy toddlers, then you may be deep in the trenches, and creative time for yourself might be impossible for this season, but, remember, that this season will pass, and you will be able to have your body and space back!

Blessings to you as you carve out small Mother Culture moments for yourself each week.

In Grace, Nadene

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Offer a Learning Buffet

We all have unique learning styles.  Recognizing that everyone has strengths and weaknesses, it is important, especially when homeschooling your children, that you tailor-make your child’s learning experience.  

Homeschool mom, please ditch the bland, boring, uniform “school lunch plate” teaching style and look for ways to lay out a tempting, tantalizing learning buffet — offer your children a delightful range of choices so that they can express their learning with delight and motivation!

 

As you plan, think ~

“What different ways can  my child approach this? ”  OR

“How can I present different options for my child to best express their learning?”

There are 3 basic learning styles ~

  • Visual (Looking) ~ prefers images, pictures, colors, and maps to organize information,  uses illustrations, maps, graphs, diagrams, graphics, uses colored highlighters to mark notes, enjoys reading posters and charts, infographics, flow charts, mind maps, watches educational videos
  • Auditory (Hearing) ~ learns through listening, needs to hear or speak, listen or create recordings, listens to audio books, listens to explanations, needs quiet surroundings, use headphones or earphones to block out noise, may prefer music in background, talks about the work as he is learning
  • Kinesthetic (Doing) learns best when physically active, uses his body and sense of touch to learn, like sports and exercise, likes to move while thinking, uses hand gestures and body language to communicate, fidgets, should sit on an exercise ball instead of a chair,  acts out explanations, enjoys physical construction, handcrafts, origami, Lego,and handcrafts

But there are several other unique learning preferences such as Intrapersonal (Solitary), Interpersonal (Social), Linguistic (Language), Musical (Song & Music), Mathematical (Logical), Naturalistic (Nature), which I will share in detail in another post.

 

Essentially, you need to know your child’s learning style in order to present options that they will enjoy.  

I recently looked at some of the online quizzes to help you find your and your child’s learning identity ~

Instead of insisting on exactly how you think a child should present their work, rather offer a variety of options, and allow the child to makes their own choices, so that their attitude and approach to their work is creative, motivated and unique.  

Think of preparing a buffet meal instead of a set menu!

Recently I created a Narration Ideas Booklet with over 100 narration ideas and templates.  Most of these options are birthed out of the understanding of different learning styles.  This booklet is available on my Packages Page and will help you offer a vast range of learning opportunities.

I hope that this post inspires you to explore your child’s learning identity so that you can facilitate and present them with options that best suit their learning style.

Blessings, Nadene

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Busy Bees Sewing

witsand-xmas-marketIt has been quiet over here at Practical Pages this past month because we have been busy sewing and I put our homeschooling on the back burner.  We were given a last-minute spot at the fabulous Witsand Christmas Market to sell our handmade items this December.  Not having much time to prepare, we plunged in full-time!

My product line is called Birdie Bags and I am trying to generate enough stock to last the full month of Dec into the New Year.  I am sewing bags, mostly quilted drawstring bags and pencil and other zip bags.  These bags fold open to become a basket-tray, making it an ideal travel bag.  birdie-bags1

 

 

birdie-bagsMy daughters created a pyjama range and my eldest sews the beautiful tops, while my middle daughter sews the shorts and pants.  They have a wonderful friendship and an amazing collaborative business.  They are setting up their Facebook page and Instagram pages and already have orders, but their Christmas market stock is a priority.  img-20161102-wa0007

So, as this school year draws to a close and South Africans plan for their long-awaited summer December break, I trust you are finding your end of year flow and rhythm.

Much grace, Nadene

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Travel Art Set

Since I love sketching regularly, I wanted a nice, simple watercolor art travel set.Collages4

Using a Bible Cover, I made inserts to hold my water brushes, pens, pencils and normal brushes, and another to hold my set of watercolor pencils.

I have seen dozens of Altoids tin water sets and homemade sets on Pinterest.  Someone suggested using a cheap cosmetic set.  Here’s a little tutorial of how I used a little eye-shadow set one of my daughters no longer wanted.

Min watercolor set

  1. Clean the cosmetic holder well.
  2. Fill  with 9 watercolors. (I had to select from my set of 12 watercolors.)20150803_203436
  3. Use a toothpick to swirl the paints and fill the corners.
  4. Leave open to dry overnight.
  5. Cut a piece of highly absorbent cloth or sponge to fit in the brush space .20150805_104440
  6. Because the lid has little convex (wish it was concave) spaces (which works well to mix small amounts of paints) I added an extra mixing tray with a piece of plastic lid duct-taped to the box.  An elastic band holds it tucked under when stored.

Brush, pen and pencil holders

  1. I recycled old flexi-plastic cutting boards I had previously used cut to fit into the side fold of the Bible cover.
  2. Trace around the plastic on some black fabric.  Cut 2 for each holder.
  3. Laying the pens, pencils and brushes on the fabric, mark the spacing with a white tailors’ pencil.
  4. To sew the elastic with custom spacing,  measure each pen or brush under the elastic to fit snug before sewing the second side down.  Continue measuring each pen and brush to the end.20150805_104504
  5. To create an elastic net pocket to hold a sharpener, eraser and small sponge cloth, use a piece of netting slightly wider than the fabric width and pleat the bottom.  Cut the top elastic a few centimeters shorter than the fabric width to hold the pocket snug.  Sew the elastic onto the netting.  Sew a few catch stitches to hold the elastic to the seam allowance on each side.
  6. To join the water pencil holder together with the brush and pen holder,  use a narrow strip of velcro.  Sew this along the one side of the each of the backing fabric.20150805_104529
  7. With right sides facing together, sew the 2 fabrics around, leaving the top open to insert the plastic.
  8. Clip the corners.  Turn the fabric right sides out and push all the seams and corners firmly.  Insert the plastic, turn the top raw edges in and top stitch closed.

It works wonderfully!  It makes being spontaneously creative so much better!  Have you got your art set ready on hand?

With blessings,

One Word Display

Every year I wait on the Lord for His word for me.

This year I received the word ~

Grace

As part of my study-schoolroom-craft room upgrade (which I will reveal … soon),  I created this simple embroidery hoop display ~

Creative ideas

 So simple and easy to make.  Easy to change the background fabric and the word … maybe for seasons and special days …

Some ideas of at JaneVille‘s One Word for 2015What is your One Word for 2015 and  more word lists.  Here are some lovely embroidery hoop ideas on Pinterest.

Blessings,

 

Create Together

Homeschooling moments that I love …

20141108_181603-1

Silk painting a scarf with my daughter.

Blessings as you create with your children!

 

Creative Crafts ~ Morse Code Bracelets

Nadene creates2I found this really cute idea on HonestlyWTF.  Erika uses embroidery floss and sliding beads to expand and fit her bracelets.  She explains in an excellent tutorial ~

“You’ll pick 4 colors for each bracelet. A base color, a color for the dots, a color for the dashes and a color separating the dots and dashes.”

Morse code braclets

image from HonestlyWTF

But after experimenting, I found the embroidery floss difficult to thread through my smallest seed beads.  I also struggled to find the right bead for both ends to slide through snug enough to “fit” the bracelet, and so I decided to simply use basic beading elastic.

Using this online Morse Code Translator and a Morse Code Translator app on my smart phone, I wrote out the codes for some messages I wanted to create in some gift bracelets.

Morse code words

Most my gift bracelets had 3 short words or one simple word.  I used the person’s favorite color for base color.   I attached the gift bracelets to some cardstock and wrote out the message with its Morse Code.  Most folk simply loved the bracelets, but they were really touched by the message when I explained how it worked.

It is a lovely way for your kids to learn and practice Morse Code.  Have fun creating!

Blessings

 

Creative Crafts ~ Bleach Painting

 Cheap, instant, magical … bleach painting adds a stunning creative touch to clothes!Kate's art2 Nadene Oct

Some bleach painting tips:

  • Always test on a scrap of similar fabric or on a part of the garment where the bleach effect can be tested but not seen (like inside a seam or on a hem).  Most dyes leave a trace color after the bleach has worked.  Some fabrics are extremely color-fast and do not bleach out.
  • Work on a plastic sheet and newsprint.  I bleached my skirt over a covered ironing board.  Place a plastic sheet or plastic packet inside a shirt so that the bleach doesn’t bleed through to the other side.
  • You can use basic domestic liquid bleach and a waterpaint paint brush.  You can also use water brushes and even simple ear buds/ Q-tips!
  • You can paint bleach on to stamps and press the stamp onto the fabric.
  • Plan your design on your garment with a chalk pencil or fading fabric markers.
  • I found great simple designs on Pinterest.
  • Stencil designs work well too!
  • Note – the bleach is invisible at first, but within a moment or two begins to fade the fabric.  If you paint over a bleached area after it has dried it may go even lighter!  I loved the magical appearance of the design a few seconds later!
  • Caution – some fabrics become fragile under bleach.  Hand wash carefully.
  • Caution 2 – wear protective clothing when working with bleach.
  • This is an excellent activity for middle-school children and teens.  Ask them to bring an old colored T-shirt to class and provide small cups of bleach and Q-tips for them to paint and design patterns and images on their shirts.
  • You can spray bleach with a fine misting bottle over a stencil or design pasted onto the material.  Some folks use freezer paper.  Lettering or a simple cut out design works well.

Bleach painting is addictive!  You may find good reasons or no reasons at all to bleach paint a huge number of your clothes!  Stop before your wardrobe looks like it fell into a bleach fountain!

Have some creative fun this festive season!

Blessings