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Entries in art (17)


Photo 306/365

As I have mentioned, probably many, many times, this is Calvin's first year taking public school courses aside from band. I have also probably mentioned, umpteen times, that I was feeling pretty nervous about this at the beginning of the year, but nearly every day so far has been a pleasant surprise. He comes home excited and happy, eager to share all the details of his day. He's made a few classroom acquaintances, and even a few new friends. It has been such a joy to watch him grow into and with this experience, and an even greater joy that he is so willing to share it with us. I have to admit, too, how very validating the whole thing has been on a personal level, to find out after so many years that one of our hardest parenting decisions, and certainly the most continually challenging one, has served him so well. And, even better, that given that choice for himself now, he wouldn't change a thing—he's exactly where he wants to be. 


Artistic Pursuits

When people tell me that they are afraid to homeschool, especially in the later years, because they don't think they have enough knowledge to do so, I always cringe a little inside. I figure as long as you graduated from high school you have the knowledge you need to at least go back and review the subjects enough to help your child along the way. even more importantly, our goal in homeschooling has always been to make learning a joint effort, one in which we gently guide Calvin's learning through reading and research, but not through lecturing. I'm helping, not teaching. 

Learning is a lifelong process, and if we reach a subject I can't help him with, I figure we'll just learn it together.

Take art, for example. I am not artistic or creative by nature. I can follow directions (Pinterest is grand) and think with ingenuity, and I can copy art fairly well, but ask me to sit down and sketch something on my own, or paint a scene, or tackle pretty much any artistic endeavor and you're out of luck. So while some parents fear teaching math or chemistry, my biggest fear has always been art.

Over the past few years I have tried several times to use Drawing with Children as a backbone for our work in the subject, and I loved the book—I really did—but the lack of clear lesson plans or directions left the non-artistic part of me floundering. So this semester we tried something new: ARTistic Pursuits, grades 4-5. With it's very clearly delineated and detailed lessons, this was a very big change, and not one that I'm entirely pleased with. While Drawing with Children always expected a lot of its readers, it did so with a level of trust that is lacking in ARTistic Pursuits, which suffers a bit from lessons that seem rather abbreviated and sometimes not very cohesive. So while I do appreciate the clear assignments and expectations, I think next fall we will return to Drawing with Children


Spyro Tinker

Calvin received the Tinker Crate monthly science kits as a Christmas gift this year. Every month a box arrives that promises to keep him busy for hours on end, and so far they've been fun, fascinating, educational, and fairly vast in scope. We haven't even managed yet to explore all the different paths of learning each one offers, but we go back to them as new discoveries offer themselves.

Last month the kit was what I have been calling a mechanical spyro graph, although, as Calvin has pointed out, that isn't really what it is. It's a platform, to which he attached a motor and three markers. When he set the motor running it vibrated, as motors do, ever so slightly. And not much happened. But when he unbalanced the motor with a glob of clay, the vibration increased and sent the contraption shaking across a paper in a semi-predictable manner. When he moved the motor or the glob of clay, it changed that pattern. We had fun with alterations and predictions, but his favorite part of the kit this time, actually, was the artistic component. He loved the art it created, but he loved even more the art it let him create by using the motor's rotation instead to rotate paper discs, and the markers to color them.


The Round Table

A story by Calvin

Summary: The story begins with a table, but with no people in sight the reader is confused as to the point of the setting. Strangely, the world becomes confusing—there is no recognizable center of gravity, no easily named 'up' or 'down', and things seem rather topsy-turvy. But just when the reader is entering a stage of panic, things settle down and the focus pans out. Be prepared for the final reveal (spoiler alert)—the reader has been alone inside a snow globe world the whole time and was just a little shaken up.

Analysis: it's a big world, and there may be more to it.



Sometimes it is easy to forget how important crafting can be to a sense of homeschool well-being. A sheet of correctly solved math problems is very satisfying, and definitely should be, but tapping into our creativity encourages mental stretching that gives us the strength to think on our toes, finding new and unique solutions to problems. Plus the process of imagining, pursuing, and then completing an entirely unique project, with final product in hand, gives a sense of fulfullment that, honestly, knocks internal self-patting right out of the park.

Clay, paper, paint, markers, name it. There are lots of outlets for creative expression. This week Calvin made a pot, created a picture by pressing colored non-drying clay onto a sketch of his own, designed and built with Legos, and started a new scrapbook. This in addition to writing stories, noodling on the piano, and singing songs of life at the top of his lungs from the shower. And, of course, drawing.

We've always done a lot of drawing. Calvin illustrates most of his journal entries, and he loves to draw maps, as well, creating the worlds, real and imagined, that he explores in the books that he reads. I love his youthful symbolic drawings—the ones where birds have wings and four feet, suns have clearly visible rays, and people have oddly circular torsos—but he's entering the stage of more realistic images, so we've embarked on a journey of self-lead lessons with Drawing With Children, by Mona Brooks. This week we tried self portraits, taking pencils and clipboards and sketching pencils into the bathroom to use the mirror. Calvin did a first sketch, then we spent some time talking about the difference between his first sketch and the image he was seeing in the mirror and he made a second sketch. Then, just for fun, he made the likeness out of construction paper, too.

Clay pot making, inspired by the ancient pottery we saw behind the scenes at the museum

Pressed clay landscape

self portrait sketching