Category Archives: Art

Nature Notebooks and Winter Birding!

M’s nature notebookP’s nature notebookI haven’t posted in a while about nature notebooks, and considering they’ve made a winter revival in our house I thought this post might be timely. One of my daughters is very keen about birding and diagramming, the other  more into art and sketching. Winter birding; however, can rekindle a natural curiosity between said child and her nature notebook.

backyard bird feederOur winter birding experiences can take on the appearance of the following. Firstly, get yourself a bird feeder and place it somewhere close to a window. It’s handy to be able to observe them without pulling out the binoculars. Secondly, have a handy field guide available to easily look up new and interesting birds that come to visit your feeder (a camera is also handy). Thirdly, watch and wait. If you build it, they will come.

Birding Field TripOccasionally we will venture outdoors with our binoculars and partake on a birding field trip put on by the CRD. These are free and usually include a very knowledgeable guide, to teach us the art of observation. Often my daughters are quick to point out new birds on a family hike, or nature walk as well.Birds of Vancouver Once we’ve identified the bird we are able to look up the species in our field guide at home and take this opportunity to diagram what we’ve seen. We’ve been using a field guide called Birds of Vancouver and the Lower Mainland which has proved easy for the kids to use by themselves, but are now ready for something with a little more depth. Still, that said, I would recommend this field guide for elementary aged children.

Noggins Bird GameOne of the best Christmas gifts my children have keenly taken to are the Professor Noggins card games. We have a few and one, obviously, on birds. My youngest daughter is the continual champion of this game and I highly recommend purchasing one in any area of study that interests your child. If is a fun way to fuel the natural interests in the children.

Do you have any birders in your homeschool? If so, why not share what you are doing or have done to explore birding in your homeschool or family. Include drawings or diagrams your child may have done in a sketch or nature notebook. I’ll include a Mr. Linky below and you can link from here directly to your site in order to share with our readers on a broader scale. In the meantime, happy birding!



Filed under Art, Charlotte Mason, Field Trips, Nature

Simplify Your Decorations!

Making PomandersSince we are marrying our study of the pioneers with how the early settlers celebrated their Christmas, we decided it would be fun to make our own pomanders the way the pioneers did. Using a Pioneer Christmas as one of our guides in our unit study, we made our citrus pomanders while listening to “On the Banks of Plum Creek” on CD.Making Pomanders1

You won’t see any artificial decorations in my house this year. I have left my department store tree in it’s box downstairs while we opt for a small live tree strung with our own hand made creations (more later). My stress meter is very low, considering that there are only 11 days left until Christmas. My home is in disarray due to some on going renovations and a shuffling of furniture from room to room. Studding ClovesBut as I take in a deep breath and smell the aroma of pomanders, fresh popcorn (for the tree), gingerbread cookies and soon to be fresh pine, none of that really matters. I seem to have left the Christmas tension somewhere next to the store bought tree, and as far as I’m concerned – it can stay there.

Finished PomandersAs the remaining days unfold until Christmas I will continue to share with you whether or not this has remained a constant. I am still a little doubtful that one can consistently displace the stress of the holidays (real or imagined), but I am hopeful that it is possible. In the meantime, if you have an opportunity to simplify any aspect of the Christmas Season, I’d encourage you do do so – for the pure simplicity of it (not to mention the wonderful smells).

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Filed under Art, Christmas, Encouragement, Holidays, Life

This Week is Veterans Week!

Veterans Week 2007November 5 – 11 is Veterans’ week and this year VCHS & VHLN homeschool communities pulled together and created a wonderful tribute to our Veterans. The display will be exhibited at Hillside Mall, right here in Victoria, for the duration of Veterans Week.

M’s ProjectThere is a diverse array of works displayed. Poetry, prose, artwork, thank you notes, tributes and honorariums created by children from 3 – 16! Please come out with friends and family to take a peek at the unique ways these kids have chosen to honor our Veterans!

Rack #3From time to time you may want to stop in at the Veterans Affairs Canada site as our community project was accepted to be displayed in the School and Community Projects section of the website.

 M&M’s projectBanner DisplayP’s ProjectRack 6

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Filed under Art, Community

Pumpkins Unplugged!

Pumpkin1Pumpkin2Unplug your Kids is making Monday an, Unplugged Project Day. This weeks project was Painting Pumpkins. We’ve been kinda busy over here working on projects for writing and art exhibitions (a later post), but I thought we could at least draw our faces on our pumpkins before we carve them. Okay, so it’s Tuesday and not Monday, but hey, better late than never!

My kids have been into black sharpies lately, so I let them go at it. This was the end result. I can’t wait to see them carved.

Spooky Spider CookiesMaking Spider CookiesJust for fun we though we’d try to make a few goodies for a Halloween Bonfire we’re going to tommorrow night. Here’s a quick easy idea for Spooky Spider Cookies:

* Oreo Cookies (for the bodies), Shoestring Licorice (for the legs), Decorator Icing (for the eyes), & chocolate chips (for the eyes).


Filed under Art, Random

How To Keep a Nature Notebook

I recently had an inquiry on how we keep our nature notebooks, so I thought I’d post a little info for those interested.

First of all I’m a wimp, and tend to go for nature walks in the spring and summer when the weather is warm and dry. It’s hard to get me outdoors during the dreary months so keeping a nature journal is not something I do year round. However; being spring, we are now outdoors as much as possible. img_3571.jpgIf we are not able to hit the trails and go for a walk, my children can usually find an abundance of plants and wild life to journal in our own backyard. They have found an abundance of flowers, leaves, insects, birds and even snakes just to name a few. It’s one of the few times that they would find a spider in it’s natural habitat and not be afraid of it. These specimens can be brought indoors sketched, labeled, and colored if they wish. I keep a special box of colored pencils and water color paints just for this purpose.

I’ve posted some drawings from their notebooks for you. img_3572.jpgThe pencil drawings are by my youngest (age:8) and the colored ones by my oldest (age:10). The drawings are their own interpretations of what they see, and all efforts are to be applauded. It’s supposed to be fun and shouldn’t feel like work.

We have a variety of field guides on Birds, Insects, Trees, Plants, and Rocks & Minerals. I have a Preference for the Lone Pine  field guides as they are easy for the children to use. img_3574.jpgOur notebooks are spiral bound sketch books aprox. 8.5 x 11, and we tote them in the backpack along with binoculars, magnifying glass, pencils, erasers and my youngest daughter’s bug catcher. She likes to collect insects in this and look closely at them without the fear of them jumping in her face or flying away. The bug catcher is made of clear plastic and the lid is a magnifying glass. This allows for observing the many fascinating details in the world of “small”.

We don’t have a fancy flower press, but have been able to successfully press some nice flowers using wax paper and a really big book. img_3573.jpgSometimes these pressings are attached to a notebook page beside a drawing. Presently, I am trying to have the girls include some poetry in their nature notebooks, either written by themselves or simply copied. I am encouraging them to look for their own poems that inspire them about nature.

country_diary_of_edwardian.jpgThere is more about How to Keep a Nature Notebook in the Charlotte Mason Companion (see my side bar). Check out your local library for more inspiring ideas and if you can find it, A Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady is worth checking out as well. Finally, here are a few Helpful Hints for Field Sketching.

Happy journaling.

“To see a wren in a bush, call it “wren,” and go on walking is to have (self-importantly) seen nothing. To see a bird and stop, watch, feel, forget yourself for a moment, be in the bushy shadows, maybe then feel “wren”– that is to have joined in a larger moment with the world.” — Gary Snyder, Language Goes Two Ways, 1995


Filed under Art, Charlotte Mason, Nature, Science

What About Art? I’m Not Artistic!

Primarily, I don’t teach art. I expose them to great art. Children have an amazing capacity to observe. They notice more than we think they do. Kind of like when you’re talking and you don’t think they are listening….but they are indeed. I can relate to the Charlotte Mason method of teaching art. It just makes sense to me. Exposure to great art and great artists creates art appreciation.

Okay, so how do we do this? It’s amazing how much art can cross your path without really noticing. artworkBut once your eyes are open, you start to see it everywhere. Calendars, greeting cards, books, stationary and libraries just to name a few.calendar.jpg Calendars work especially well, each month is an opportunity to look at a piece of beautiful work everyday with little effort. If May displays a Monet, then a trip to the library can bring home a children’s book like “What Makes a Monet a Monet?”.If you are studying the Renaissance period in History, then a study of Leonardo Da’Vinci’s artwork is a natural pairing. I personally use this bridge between subjects a lot. It also helps the children to see subjects interconnected as opposed to segregated.

If budget allows, there are wonderful workshops for children to learn how to paint, draw and sculpt with many of them designed for home schoolers. abstractI have used a wonderful children’s art studio in town that offers workshops for kids featuring a different artist each month. artclassThese workshops follow Charlotte Mason methods and expose the children to many different art techniques; often mirroring the style of the featured artist. I have used these workshops often, trying to tie them into our study of history where possible. For more information of these classes, click here.

“You could not find a major educator writer or thinker from Plato onward who did not emphasise the importance of the arts in our Western education. The ancient Hebrews also supported musicians and artisans in their culture. People are not fully human without art in their lives.”

– Ruth Beechick, You Can teach Your Child Successfully, 1993

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Filed under Art