Saturday, November 28, 2009

Teaching Art Through Coloring

This is an article from my weekly CurrClick email (Sign up at for a free download and article each week.) She ends this article with a commercial for her magazine, but I thought the principles she mentions were a good one. I would also mention that you can art through coloring by having the student color line drawings of famous pieces of art.

By Joy Marie Dunlap

Kids enjoy coloring, but can just coloring a picture be considered an art education? Just how much can a child learn through coloring? It depends on the input of the teacher (you) or the materials you are using. Coloring can be anything from just playing around to a real and successful art course.

When I was a child, a lot of people complimented me on my finished pictures, especially my peers and friends. I always told them "You can do this well, too, if you let me show you how," but they did not believe me. Fortunately I had the opportunity with my own 5 children to see just how far kids can go in their art skills with a few important secrets to artistic coloring.

We all know that a child should learn to color inside the lines. Some people even go so far as to point out that staying inside the lines is much easier if you outline the picture first. And most of us learn to color back and forth in the same direction instead of making strokes all over the place in different directions. These rules certainly make neater coloring, but are they all that one can learn through coloring?

When I was a child, I loved using strokes that emphasized the textures of the things I was coloring. I loved stroking in hair in the natural way that hair falls on a person, or waves, or blows in a light breeze. I loved making up-and-down strokes for grass, swirls for leafy trees of bushes, rounded strokes on flowers, flowing strokes in a bubbling brook, and so on.

Texture is, I think, one of the very best places to start in teaching a child art skills through coloring. Tree trunks can be given thick lines indicating bark. A haystack should be colored with straight strokes in many directions. Birds’ nests have a combination of stiff, straight sticks and smooth curved grasses. The ripples in a pond or lake have curves going outward, curve after curve. Pet fur can be colored with short strokes for shorthaired animals and long, smooth strokes for long-furred animals. Dirt and stones on the ground should be colored with bumps of concentrated color. There are so many fascinating ways to color different textures.

I use coloring pages from Dover, which are reproducible with some minor limitations. I love these pages for their textures, birds’ nests, branches, background foliage stroked in different directions, strokes on animals to suggest the length of fur, pictures of water, trees, scenery, and so on. I used these with my kids when we homeschooled and now use them in our new art and nature magazine, Creative Homeschooled Kids.

Even as an adult, I still love to color sunsets and ocean waves, birds in flight, butterflies landing delicately on flowers, flowing water and reflections in water. I love the use of color as well. To give a 3-dimensional appearance to any object (including animals), use a darker shade of the color at the sides and leave a lighter area in the middle. When coloring water, have the turquoise, blue, or green you use get darker as the water gets deeper. As water deepens, a light sea green gradually turns into a rich, dark turquoise. Very deep ocean water is a dark blue that is almost black.

Another interesting thing when coloring water is the way parts of the water, especially ripples, reflect the sky, while the spaces between ripples often show more depth, and therefore are a darker color. So to color ripples on water’s surface, you alternate sky colors and water depth colors. (Water is one of the hardest things to learn how to color or paint.) Once you get the idea, water can be so interesting to color, with sunsets and sunrises splashing colors across a sea or lake below.

These and so many other fascinating principles can be applied to a regular coloring page and allow you to do some incredible things with crayons, colored pencils, colored markers, oil pastel crayons, or water colors. You can actually create pictures that look like an artist’s masterpiece if you know the right principles.

I could not leave coloring behind when my kids all grew beyond the need for further art instruction from me, so I recently launched Creative Homeschooled Kids Magazine, a printable electronic magazine, to teach kids these exciting art principles through coloring, with art instruction mixed in alongside articles on nature topics such as gardening, birds nesting, scenic America, marine mammals and more.

Since kids love learning about nature and enjoy coloring, the combination of the two makes a fantastic, fun and educational magazine for children of all school ages. The topic of the most recent issue of this Nature / Art magazine is Whales and Dolphins and other Sea Mammals. In it I show kids how to color water so that it looks deep or shallow, how to show what it is like looking up to the light on the water surface or down in the depths where whales swim, and how to show transparency and reflection on the water's surface. We make these difficult art concepts easy, even for kids. You can buy this issue right now on its own for only $3, which is one-third off the usual price! Or join the hundreds of children who are already enjoying an annual subscription to this unique magazine and get this and 5 more issues for less than $1.60 each. Why not start teaching real art through coloring now, in your home school?

Tips for Chronically Ill Homeschool Moms

Every week, The Oldschool House magazine does a Minute to Minute email where other homeschool mom's answer a question posed by a homeschool mom. This week, they had tips for homeschooling with chronical illness. This was an encouragement to me since I basically have to do that with my PMDD the way it currently is. Thought I'd share the answers with others.

Lessons From The Couch
Dear Vicki,

I have been living with a chronic illness for the past 25 years. I just started homeschooling this year and face the issue of not being able to get up and work with my son at least once a week. A long time ago I came to the realization that some days things just don't get done, and if I stress over this fact, then everyone suffers. I also know that my faith and prayer help me to get through each day and have helped me to rethink my priorities and focus on what is really important. The dishes will still be there tomorrow, but you can't get back missed opportunities to teach your children true life lessons.

I'm lucky to have a laptop and wireless service in my home which makes things a lot easier. I get the lap desk, the laptop, and all of his books, and we curl up on the couch. I let my son snuggle up to me as we go through the lessons; then when he needs to do written work, he just scoots over and does it. I always print out the week's schedule so that I know what lessons need to be done that week, because there are days when I can't do anything, including my son's lessons. With the week's schedule in hand, I can add the missed lessons into the remaining lessons for that week, and this keeps us from falling behind. I also work with my son on the weekend to catch up if need be.

On those days when teaching is out, I have my son "play" games on the computer that teach math, reading, etc. I also make sure he does his reading for that day. We will either read together or he will read to me and then he will spend time reading a book or magazine article of his choice. I hope my experiences will help you get through the coming months. I will also be praying for you and your family.

A chronically ill homeschool mom,

Learning Through Playing
Dear Vicki,

I have homeschooled for years with chronic back pain. I never had the need of surgery as God gave me relief through upper cervical (spine) care and massage. So the pain has been bearable but it has been on and off all these years.

For us, that meant that "school" took place wherever I was most comfortable at the time. We rarely sat in desks or did all the traditional work, but we had many, many hours of family reading and school in all rooms of the house. I found that my children kept learning, even when I was unable to supervise their every activity. We have a home full of learning resources, and I am convinced that kids will explore whatever we make available to them. We cannot keep them from learning.

My number-one recommendation is to fill your home with good books, encyclopedias, learning games, etc. They will learn while they play.

I am sure you are already involving them in household activities, but remember that some of the best learning takes place in the home, doing household cleaning and chores. Teaching them to do life skills, and encouraging them to do them regularly will help them throughout their lives.

I commend you for looking for ways to continue in spite of your pain. I know God will bless you!God bless you,

From the Experienced . . .
I have had several surgeries and suffer with severe back pain constantly. I currently homeschool two, 12-year-olds (one is adopted and has only been here two years) and a 6-year-old. I want to encourage you that schooling from the bed (or couch, often in my case) can be great. There are times I get really down, but often the kids don't notice. We use a literature-based curriculum and have a blast reading books and playing games. I think my kids will be better off as young adults having helped and served the family in the many ways they do. They still have friends over and sleepovers and play. As your kids are old enough, they can learn to cook and bake, just make it fun and easy--let them experiment and be super silly. Your attitude will define the home. Yes, it's really hard on those extra painful days (like today), but they can laugh when you laugh and cry when you cry. My 6-year-old is always bringing me stuffed animals and making me cards to help mommy feel better. It's so sweet. I will pray for you to heal and to be strengthened in the meantime. ~Lisa

I suffer from frequent migraine headaches. This makes functioning, much lesshomeschooling, difficult. What I do to get through the migraine days is prepare for the week with a file-folder basket with daily folders for each child. I have two boys, 7 and 9 years old. Each week, I will prepare their daily assignment sheet with their math and grammar assignments and put their worksheets for the day in that day's folder. If I have a migraine, they will do their math and grammar on their own, the best they can, helping each other, and I will check their worksheets when I am feeling better. We do unit studies for science and history, so I will have them read to me either while I'm in the bed or on the couch, and we'll do our activity the next day when I feel better. When I have a migraine, they play online math games, play store, do Mad Libs (great for reinforcing parts of speech and spelling), play board games such as Junior Monopoly, and of course their "free reading." They can make their own lunch and wash their dishes and understand that they need to be quiet while Mommy recovers. These are important "life lessons" that they could never learn if they went to public school. Best wishes on your upcoming surgery! ~BethI have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and homeschool a 7- and 5-year-old with a toddler underfoot. Most days I'm not sure how I'm doing it, but I've definitely learned to believe in God's daily grace! Your children are older so I'm not sure what help I'll be but, for what it's worth, I would suggest three things: 1) Re-define "normal" for you and your family. Try not to compare yourself with other homeschool families or even with yourself. Thinking about what "should be" normal or what "could be" normal isn't helpful. Just figure out what works for you now, in this present season, and let that be your "normal." 2) Partialize everything. That means taking larger tasks and breaking them down into bits and pieces so that they're manageable and you actually have success. This includes homeschooling tasks as well as home keeping chores. 3) Delegate whenever possible. In fact, if you have the means or can move your budget around a bit, get someone to come in and do some cleaning for you--or some other chore--even if it's just a bath/kitchen clean once a month or something. Blessings to you and your family! ~McHugh

Friday, November 13, 2009

Charlotte Mason Friday Freebies

I get a list of freebies each with from This weeks topics are about Charlotte Mason. Charlotte Mason works well with the classical model we are attempting to use for Micki. One of the keys to both is the use of "living books" vs. textbooks, as well as, copywork and narration.

Homeschool Freebies by Jamin
for Freebie Friday, November 13, 2009

Welcome to Freebie Friday. Here are your Charlotte Mason freebies!

Charlotte Mason Basics is a great place to get started! Find out who Charlotte Mason was and what her teaching style can do for you!

Ambleside Online is a free homeschool curriculum designed to be as close as possible to the curriculum that Charlotte Mason used.

Simply Charlotte Mason is a site that is dedicated to helping you homeschool your children using the Charlotte Mason method. On the left sidebar of their website, you will find THREE free E-Books! Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life, Masterly Inactivity, and The Swedish Drill Teacher. Education Is . . . presents just three of her key ideas and gives real-life examples and applications. Masterly Inactivity will help you increase your skills and confidence as a parent using the Charlotte Mason approach. The Swedish Drill Teacher explains the physical education program that Charlotte Mason used with her students.

Also on Simply Charlotte Mason, you will find free copywork to print and use with your students.

Enjoy the Wonders of Nature with your Children is a great place to start learning about incorporating nature studies into your homeschool.

Artist Study Charlotte Mason Style explains how Charlotte Mason taught art to children.Can you teach math through literature?

Literature-Based Math offers a great reading list!

Narration is a big part of the Charlotte Mason style. These free Charlotte Mason narration reminder bookmarks will help keep narration on track. I use these myself and love them!

I hope you enjoy this week's Charlotte Mason freebies!

Monday, November 9, 2009

My Mission Field

Above Rubies is a wonderful ministry. This is one of their email devotionals.


Matthew 9:37-38, "Then said Jesus unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest."

Do you sometimes hanker to be doing some great work for God? You feel as though you are wasting your life in your home. You would love to serve the Lord in some harvest field. Yes, it is true, the harvest is great and the laborers are few. But why are they few? Because mothers have not understood God's purpose.

Are you looking for an easy path in life in life or do you have a heart to serve God as a missionary? Dear mother, you are already a missionary. God has chosen your specific mission field for you. It is your home and family. You are employed by God to train laborers for His harvest field. You don't raise children and then send them to Bible College to prepare for service. You train them for God's service from the time they are little. They should be ready to labor in the harvest field when they come forth from your home.

Is a missionary's work easy? No, it takes sacrifice. Is motherhood easy? No, but it will be worthwhile. It takes everything you've got--all your resources of time, energy and strength--but you will influence nations. It takes sacrifice--many mothering days are exhausting and overwhelming--but you will receive the fruit of your labors and an eternal reward. It will take committed prayer and intercession, but your prayers will be answered. Remember, you are not on vacation; you are on the mission field!

Maybe God has only given you one laborer to prepare for Him--that His is plan for you. Maybe he has given you six, or even twelve! Wow, would twelve be too many? Jesus trained twelve disciples who impacted the world. How would you like to train laborers who "turn the world upside down"? (Acts 17:6)

What kind of laborers does God want us to faithfully prepare for His service? The following is my vision for our children, grandchildren and future generations. I believe He wants us to prepare children who are...

Baby lovers
Blessing imparters
Bible believers
Bible obeyers
Committed laborers in God's harvest
Courageous overcomers
Demon destroyers
Diligent workers
Evil haters
Faithful servers
Fearless soldiers
Freedom fighters
Fruit bearers
God fearers
God lovers
God pleasers
God worshippers
Gospel preachers
Holy Spirit empowered witnesses
Home lovers
Israel supporters
Jesus fanatics
Justice keepers
Life choosers
Light shiners
Liberal threateners
Obedient listeners
Parent honorers
Responsible citizens
Sharp arrows
Tomorrow's leaders
Truth bearers
Truth keepers
Truth lovers
Truth preservers
Truth seekers
Truth speakers
Persecution endurers
Prayer warriors
Righteousness lovers
Uncompromising disciples
Valiant conquerors
Wisdom getters and
Zealous servants of the Living God!

Wow! Can you imagine anything more exciting and fulfilling that raising laborers such as these? You couldn't have a greater mission field or a greater vision.



"Thank you, Lord, for showing me my mission field. Help me to serve you faithfully and to raise prepared laborers for your great harvest field. Lord, I am open for you to give me all the laborers you have planned for me to train. Amen."


I am a full-time missionary, recruiting and training laborers for God's harvest field.

Friday, November 6, 2009

A Practical Way to Teach Responsibility

Received this from the National Center for Biblical Parenting.

November 2, 2009

A Practical Way to Teach Responsibility

Some children can't seem to do anything without getting distracted. One mom, Heather, said, "When I tell my five-year-old son, James, to go get his shoes on because we've got to leave, he doesn't come back. When I go look, I find him sitting on the floor playing with his cars. And it's not just his shoes. Whenever I tell him to do something he gets sidetracked. I have to yell at him continually to get anything done."

Heather needs to use her frustration to identify the cause of the problem. James is easily distracted, but the deeper issue has to do with irresponsibility. Yes, he is only five years old, but James needs to learn to follow through with a job his mom gives him. This is the beginning of responsibility training.

Most children don't naturally feel an internal weight of responsibility. You can help develop it by watching your kids accomplish assignments and waiting for them to report back. Heather may say, "James, we've got to go so please get your shoes and bring them back to me. I'm going to wait right here in the doorway for you to report back."

As you wait, watch for distraction. At first James may need very close monitoring but as he realizes that he needs to report back and that Mom hasn't forgotten about the job, he will feel the pressure to accomplish the task. Children who need constant reminders lack the character quality of responsibility. They need closer supervision, smaller tasks, and more frequent times of checking in.

Even older children sometimes have a problem with irresponsibility. Yelling isn't necessary—more accountability is. It takes more work to wait or watch, but your investment now will give your children a valuable gift. Responsibility is the ability to complete a task even when no one is watching.

Responsibility training happens in a good instruction process. In Matthew 25, Jesus told a parable about three stewards who were given talents and the responsibility to invest them. Two of the stewards were faithful; one was not. God wants us to be faithful stewards and the roots of faithfulness are taught to children as you teach them to follow directions and report back.

For more on how to build a good Instruction Routine with your children, read the book, Good and Angry, Exchanging Frustration for Character in You and Your Kids, by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Apologetics? Children? Catechism?

I really like Voddie Baucham and this is from a recent email from Catechism has gotten a bad rap for a long time. It's about time it changed!

This month's question is: How do we incorporate apologetics in our child's education?

Apologetics is the art and science of defending the faith. Practically, it means knowing what we believe, why we believe it, and being able to communicate that effectively to others. Hence, preparing our children for apologetics means preparing them to answer questions about their faith.

I know of no better tool for doing this than catechism. Catechism is teaching children what to believe and why to believe it through a series of questions and answers (i.e., "What is the chief end of man?"). Thus, catechism prepares children to do precisely what apologetics requires.

If you are not familiar with catechism, ask your pastor what confession of faith your church ascribes to, and what catechism teaches that confession. In the meantime, here's a link to one we use for our younger children.

Blog Archive