Two Homeschooling Resources We Loved This Year

This year two resources that were new to our homeschool stood out amongst the rest and really shined as our favorite things. I've written a lot on the subject of curriculum and resources, reviewing and relaying what has worked and what hasn't been great for us, so today I'm just going to focus on telling you about the cream of the crop in our home from the 2014/2015 school year.

Deep Space Sparkle

Have you been over to Patty Palmer's beautiful art blog, Deep Space Sparkle yet? Patty is an art teacher here in California and she is producing some stunning projects to do with students in any setting. Take a look at her homeschool starter kit.

Since Annesley was in 5th grade and Christian in 2nd, I thought I could use the projects from 50-Minute Art Projects for the two of them. It was perfect!

Black and White Tree Study

Black and White Tree Study

Easy to download and work from a computer.

Easy to download and work from a computer.

Southwest Watercolor Landscape

Southwest Watercolor Landscape

Try a freebie from Deep Space Sparkle. The project Christian is working on in the above photo is the Southwest Watercolor Landscape.


Who is My Neighbor and Why Does He Need Me?

Our second favorite of the year is Who is My Neighbor and Why Does He Need Me? from Apologia. The third in the What We Believe series, I chose it because I felt we could all use a brush-up on serving our neighbors, both outside of our home and in (if you know what I mean ;) )

I already wrote about Who is My Neighbor over on the HomeschoolingIRL blog, so I'm going to be a bit summer lazy and send you there for more info. 

What have been your favorite resources this year?

Van Gogh Artist Study from a Non-Arty Mom

We are so happy to welcome Candace, from His Mercy Is New, to our blog today. She is a homeschool mom of three who has learned how to teach art to her kids, even though she isn't an arty person. I have referenced her blog SO many times when I need a great art project to do with my kids. Keep reading and enjoy!

"I've just kept on ceaselessly painting in order to learn painting." Van Gogh
Sharing creative endeavors with our children is vital. Kids need art. I have come to believe that more and more with each passing year as a mom. One way that we can do that is by studying the great artists, learning more about their lives, simply looking at their famous works of art, and then creating similar projects based on those famous works.

Now, before you claim that you are not an artist, how in the world can you teach this to your kids...I want to let you in on a little secret. I'm no artist either. I do have some creative genes in me, but they are mostly in the form of music. However, with no art background, I taught an entire year of art classes at our homeschool co-op! AND I'm signed up to do it again next year! WHAT?!? Why in the world? And HOW?? I created a series on my blog just for moms like us who need a little help in this department because THAT is how important I feel it is!! You can see the entire series called Teaching Art {With The Help Of Pinterest} on my blog.

Today, I'm excited to share with you some simple ideas for incorporating an artist study on Van Gogh into your homeschool. Friends, you can do this study with kids of ALL ages. Starting from those little preschoolers all the way up to your high school kids! Take a look at these resources, choose a few that fit your family and get started!

Read a few books on Van Gogh, do a few art projects, copy a few of his famous quotes. Voila! Simple artist study that is enjoyable for the entire family. Many of these books listed below have Van Gogh's famous artwork throughout the illustrations, however, if you want to view more of his artwork, take a look at this website.

Van Gogh Picture Books

12 picture books about Vincent Van Gogh

  1. Camille and the Sunflowers
  2. In the Garden with Van Gogh
  3. Vincent's Colors ~ this is a very simple book with simple, short wording, but it's also one of my favorites because the lines in this book are Vincent's own words written about his paintings in letters to his brother!
  4. Katie and the Starry Night ~ These James Mayhew books are EXCELLENT, probably my favorite books to introduce children to these famous artists!
  5. Vincent Van Gogh: Sunflowers and Swirly Stars (Smart About Art)
  6. Visiting Vincent Van Gogh
  7. Vincent van Gogh & the Colors of the Wind
  8. The Van Gogh Cafe ~ this is more of a chapter book, 64 pages, but I had to include it because it was written by one of my favorite children's authors, Cynthia Rylant
  9. van Gogh and the Sunflowers (Anholt's Artists Books for Children)
  10. Katie Meets The Impressionists
  11. The Yellow House: Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin Side by Side ~ this is based on a true story and my art students and I had a great conversation based on this book after reading it together.
  12. Katie and the Sunflowers

Van Gogh Art Projects

Van Gogh's Sunflowers Art Lesson Part 2

Van Gogh Copywork Pages

I have created some simple copy work pages for your children to use as you learn about Van Gogh! These are quotes from Van Gogh on the subject of art, 4 pages total. Click on the link or on the graphic to download your PDF copy work pages!

Van Gogh Copy Work Pages Set

Van Gogh Copy Work Page 3

I hope you and your children enjoy this glimpse into the life of Van Gogh! Get messy and creative with your kids this week!! They will love you for it and the mess will be worth it. I promise.  

{pretty, happy, funny, real} for 7 June, 2012

{pretty} little señorita at our california history day


{happy} an old friend gave me bags full of wonderful cuttings from her yard last week. my grandfather used to grow beautiful succulents in abundance in his Los Angeles garden, and he called these "hens and chicks". growing them makes me happy.


{funny} dos señoritas and a little caballero.


{real} sand painting because that's what the native californians did. sand, glue, little boys. very real.



round button chicken


Great Guest Month!- Art With Preschoolers- Melanie Oneth


Cross, by Melanie Oneth



Melanie Oneth is a friend and artist whose work shows me the Glory of God. She has homeschooled their four children who are 17, 16, 13, and 11, and she teaches art classes to other students including one of our sons. I asked Melanie to share her thoughts on teaching art to little ones, and I know you'll be blessed and hopefully inspired, too.


I think I speak for most home school moms when I say that art is not always our number one priority.  Our tendency is to push it to the back of the “curriculum to cover later” line. We need to revaluate our thinking however—art brings A LOT to the educational table!

Here are a few considerations:


  • Art develops hand and eye coordination.
  • Art stimulates perception.
  • Art stimulates both sides of the brain.
  • 33% of children are visual learners.
  • Studies show that children who make art read better and get better grades in science and mathematics.
  • When art is integrated with other subjects in a curriculum, children commit more to the learning process.
  • Lastly, art is fun! It’s one of the few subjects without any rules—which means it’s a subject that you can relax and enjoy with your child.

The very first thing you should understand about teaching art to your children is that art and the skill of drawing are not the same subject and should be taught separately. If you try to teach them at the same time you will end up possibly frustrating and/or discouraging your child.

For example, let’s say you give your children an assignment of listening to a piece of music and interpreting it visually on paper. Little Suzy proudly brings you her paper and you, trying to teach her, begin to critique her work pointing out that arms shouldn’t come out of heads or that eyes should be the same size. Now Suzy is discouraged; what you’ve unknowingly done is teach her that there is a right and a wrong way to express herself creatively.

Now, Johnny on the other hand has nothing on his paper. He wants to draw a man running through a field but he knows there is a right and wrong way to draw a man. Since he does not know the “right way” he is frustrated and ends up doing nothing.


Melanie's daughter Macayla drew this when she was 5. Melanie writes, "When I saw this I knew she would be a great artist. This was the same art lesson I describe [above]."




Art is all about creativity, expression, and exploration. I believe that this is all you should teach your child until they are about six, unless your child asks for advice on drawing more realistically.  I tend to use a lot of lessons from MaryAnn F. Kohl’s books with younger kids. My favorite art lesson for kids is creating an Eric Carle type collage. You can find the instructions here. There really aren’t a whole lot of rules for art instruction; it should be low stress, and most of all, fun.


Drawing is no different than anything else in life- the more you do it the better you become. A lot of people believe that the ability to draw is a talent that you are either born with or you are not. True, some people are born with a little more skill than the rest of us, but the truth is that it is a skill that anyone can learn.


Eric Carle art, by Melanie's son River



Now if you haven’t learned the skill yourself it may seem a little daunting to try and teach your children—not to worry, there are a lot of books out there on the subject. Mona Brookes’ book Drawing with Children is my favorite. She breaks drawing down into 8 basic elements of shape. This is not a self guided book that you will be able to hand to your child and let them go through; it will require some reading and preparing on your part.


Also helpful are Walter Foster and Discover Drawing paperbacks that you can find at the library. I would encourage you to go to the library and check out as many books on drawing as you are able. Look them over; find what makes sense to you. We all learn differently so different books will appeal to different people.

I have also always encouraged copying (as long as they don’t try to take credit for something that is not theirs)—it’s a good training exercise. The real key here is practice, practice, practice. Remind your child that they are not going to love every drawing they produce; in fact, they will not like most of them but that is ok, we learn from our failures.


I love this quote from Leo Buscaglia—“We seem to gain wisdom more readily through our failures than through our success. We always think of failure as the antithesis of success, but it isn’t. Success often lies just the other side of failure.”


Miss America, by Macayla Oneth


 Romeo and Juliet, by Macayla Oneth