Monday, November 22, 2010

Raised Salt Painting for Kids

Shaking off the salt
 I saw an idea in Family Fun magazine that talked about creating 3D paintings out of salt, glue and food coloring. I decided to give it a shot with Avlyn, and she had a lot of fun. We did not have card stock paper, so we just used light colored construction paper. We did this as an art project and explored working with different mediums to create a picture. But this can also be used as a science project to explore how the salt soaks up the food coloring and helps it travel along the glue lines.

Adding more colors

Construction paper or card stock
White glue
Dropper (we used a straw, but a dropper would definitely be better)
Cookie sheet to hold salt pieces
Food coloring
Small bowls

We began by placing the construction paper onto a rimmed cookie sheet. We then mixed our food colors with a small amount of water. I only had yellow and blue, so we'll try this next time with much brighter colors.

Next, have your child create a crazy design with the white glue. Help them pour salt all over the picture and shake it off. Using the dropper, suck up a small amount of colored water. Slowly drop out 1-3 drops onto the glue and watch as it travels along the salt. Keep adding color until your pictures is complete. Let dry overnight and you have a 3-D, textured picture. Happy homeschooling!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pumpkin Seed Mosaics

This is a fun activity to do with left over pumpkin seeds. We carved a few jack o lanterns this year and had quite a few pumpkin seeds to play around with. I thought about roasting them, but last year the kids didn't really like the taste. I hated to throw them away so decided to do an art lesson on mosaics. We started by discussing what a mosaic picture was and then creating our own.

I looked up a few pumpkin seed ideas as a jumping off point, and then finally decided to do it the way I did. The ideas I saw said to paint the seeds first and then create a picture. But I thought it would be a little easier, and relate more to fall, if I drew the outline of a picture. She filled it with seeds and then painted it. It still looks like a mosaic and it gave her a jumping off point. Knowing her, if I'd followed the advice from the other websites she'd have ended up with a bunch of painted pumpkin seeds saying, "I don't know what to create."

I took a piece of construction paper and drew an outline of a pumpkin for the first one and a pilgrim for the second. She covered the pics with glue, placed the seeds in different directions, dried them over night and then painted them the next day. She really enjoyed this project and we have these displayed on our kitchen cabinets. I think I will get more advanced in the spring with actual tile pieces and let her create something from her mind. Hopefully, her imagination will have grown a bit by then. She's not very imaginative under pressure, but she's great when she thinks no one is watching.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

If You Give a Moose a Muffin Storyboard Presentation

After you've completed your storyboard for whichever book you choose, it's time to present it. In order to assess whether or not your child truly gets how to retell a story, you need them to go through the storyboard page-by-page and retell the story. They can do this just with you, or you can wait until the whole family is home and have them give a little presentation. Avlyn wanted to share it with her dad and brother. She practiced with me in the morning, and then later that night she presented it to her dad and brother.  Below is a short video I took of her presentation. She's generally soft spoken, and for some reason she was nervous and kept rocking back and forth, so it's a little hard to hear her. But it gives you a general idea of what we did. If your child is less shy, I could see this being a much more elaborate presentation of the book. But I'll see if I can't get her to come out of her shell a little more on the next one. I hope that some of you have found this idea different and will take a stab at creating your own storyboards. Feel free to comment with links to your storyboards, cause I'd love to check out what you do differently. 

The link to the YouTube video is:

I have the video set up as a private listing, so you will need to cut and paste the link in order to access it directly.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

If You Give a Moose a Muffin Storyboard Activity Part II

Here's the update on the Teaching with Storyboards post from last week. Like I stated before, we chose If You Give a Moose a Muffin for our first ever storyboard. This blog post will cover the process, and I'll post tomorrow about the presentation of the storyboard.

Getting Started
To begin, we read the story for one week every day.  I helped her start to memorize the story so she could retell it using her storyboards. After she had the story pretty much memorized, we began working on our storyboards.

Large index cards
material (we used an old shirt that no longer fit---you get lots of neat prints and fabrics this way)
printed clip art that related to story (for this I printed out moose, muffins, and a blackberry bush piece)
magazine cutouts
button, thread, and needle


We started by adding the title to an index card with some clipart for illustrations

These storyboards illustrate the part in the story where you go to the fridge to get some of your mother's homemade blackberry jam and the moose asks for another and another muffin.

So you have to go to the store to get some, but he wants to go with you. But since it's cold, he'll ask for a sweater. We used red felt to cut out the sweater. For the part where he notices a button is loose, I cut out another red sweater and loosely sewed a purple button onto the sweater before she glued it on the moose.

This is her illustration for the part where the button reminds him of sock puppets so he gets scissors, glue, string etc... to make some.

The next few storyboards skip ahead in the story, to the part after you help him make scenery for a puppet show and he needs to hide his ears under a sheet.

This was one of her favorite boards to make. Using the clipart of the moose, which we also used on the title page, we found a picture of a ghost in a magazine and recreated the part where he puts the sheet over his head, which reminds him that he wants to be a ghost for Halloween. Using little magazine letters, we spelled out the word Boo!...the colors everywhere illustrate the fact that he scared himself and spilled the paint everywhere.
This illustrates the part where you get a sheet from your bed for the moose. We cut up an old, patterned t-shirt that didn't fit her anymore to act as the sheet on the bed.

This is one of the last scenes in the storyboard. She drew the moose going to hang up the sheet after he used it to clean up the paints. The clipart is supposed to be the mother's blackberry bushes in the yard. The last page simply had a drawing of the moose with a clipart of the muffin with the words, "And chances are...."

 As you can see, there isn't a lot of writing with these storyboards. My point wasn't to have her copy the story onto the cards, but use her imagination to retell the story. We focused on 2-3 cards per day, and it took us almost 2 weeks to complete the entire thing. We would read the story as we created the boards, and she would draw the storyboards in relation to how she remembered chunks of the story. So one card may represent 3 pages in the story, while another might simply be 1 page. There are no set in stone rules. The storyboards I didn't include in this blog were simply hand-drawn. I tried to lead her to more creative ways to express the story, but she is very much into drawing her own pictures right now, so that's mostly what we went with.

Since these are time-consuming projects, I only have 1 planned a month. We are thinking of doing If You Give a Cat a Cupcake this month, but she's still deciding which book she wants. Tomorrow I will post a short blog post on how we presented this story to the rest of the family and saw the whole thing come together in a cute little presentation. Happy homeschooling!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Teaching with Storyboards

The next few posts are going to be about something I like to call storyboards. If you've ever heard of a storyboard, it was probably in the context of a movie or television show. Creators of media use storyboards to organize their thoughts and plan out scenes. It's basically an organizational tool. In our homeschool, a storyboard is a fun, creative way to retell a story. 

Since kindergarten focuses mostly on reading and writing skills, storyboards are a great way to teach a child how to retell a story. Older kids normally get stuck with this task in the form of a regurgitated book report. I know many kindergarten classrooms have the students orally retell the story or draw a picture of their favorite scene. With our storyboards, we retell the entire story with drawings, cut-outs, pictures and more. All of these items are put onto the larger-sized index cards. We recently just finished our first storyboard. Since this is a brand new experiment for us, and I couldn't find too much online about creating storyboards like this, our stories will probably improve over time. 

I will be posting about the storyboard process over the next few days. I'd love to hear feedback and any suggestions you may have about creating and implementing storyboards. We're doing our presentation tonight,  so I will have step-by-step pictures posted, too. If you'd like to take part in a storyboard with your homeschoolers, pick up some large-sized index cards, crayons, glue, felt, and anything else you think you might need. We chose " If You Give a Moose a Muffin" for our first storyboard, so I also printed out clipart from Word that related to the story. Look for more postings this week to follow the storyboard process.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

How Do You Work from Home and Homeschool?

A post over on one of my favorite forums WAHM got me thinking about this topic. A mom recently went from being a work-at-home-mom to a work at home homeschooling mom and was wondering how to do it. As a homeschooling family, we understand what it's like to want to offer the best educational choice to your child and still make financial ends meet. That's why I work from home as a freelance web writer for various websites and clients. I network with a lot of WAHM's who have kids underfoot while working. Being able to work from home is great. I can start at any time, finish at anytime, and no one knows if I'm wearing a nice outfit or my Hello Kitty robe and matching slippers with my hair in a bun. But homeschooling and working from home can get difficult.

Below are some tips I think may be helpful if you're struggling to work from home and homeschool. Or if you currently homeschool and would like to make a little extra money but have been afraid to take the plunge because you think the schooling will suffer, maybe these tips will help.

  • Choose a work from home job that you can do well. I write because it comes easy to me, and I have the educational background that helps me land jobs. Other work from home jobs include transcription, web design, CSR for various companies, babysitting, creating an etsy store for your crafts, proofreading, online tutoring and phone scheduler. 

  • Become familiar with a crockpot and start a lasting relationship. I couldn't live without mine. You can put the bulk of your dinner in at 10 a.m. and not worry about it until dinner time. All you may need to do is throw on some rice or nuke some potatoes. This can give you an hour or more of homeschooling or working time that you'd normally spend on dinner prep and cooking. 

  • Plan to get up earlier or go to bed later than everyone else. This is easier for people who can create their own work schedule, such as online writers. 

  • Schedule, schedule, schedule. It doesn't need to be an exact science or even followed to a tee, but without one you will always feel that you're behind in either homeschooling or work. Use a large desk calendar so that your schedule is always visible. 

  • Plan your lessons on a weekly basis. I write down the general ideas I want to cover for the week. I then find appropriate activities and lessons, print out needed materials, and write down a rough draft of what we'll do each day. It's easier to plan if you use a prepackaged curriculum, but if you plan each thing separately like me, give yourself a couple of hours to get your week planned out. It's amazing how much time gets wasted when you try to plan at the last minute, and the quality of lessons usually suffers, too.

  • Relax. It can be stressful working from home and homeschooling. It can be confusing to know which one to put first. Working makes you money, but your kids need to be educated. When I'm stuck on which area to give my focus I ask myself which one could be done later that night. If the lesson we're doing is going well and she's gung-ho to keep going, I won't make her stop so I can get some work done. If I have a pressing project with a tight deadline, I plan my homeschooling stuff for after dinner. 
Hopefully these ideas will help you in your quest to homeschool and work or work and homeschool, whichever way you look at it. Happy homeschooling!