Category Archives: Homeschooling

Close encounters of the bird kind

B12 and I are continuing our study of ecosystems with another family so we made the most of the good weather last week to take another field trip. I shared pictures of our first field trip here. Our trip last week was to a local woodland area with many trails which pass through various types of ecosystems. B12 & P12 were on the lookout for the flora and fauna in each different area but ended up being most interested in the birds we saw.

After waiting and changing location a couple of times B & P’s patience with the chickadees was rewarded.

We saw this little nuthatch next.

The highlight of the day came just as we were about to finish our walk. A barred owl swooped through the woods ahead of us. It passed a few feet from B12’s face and then landed in a tree about 15 metres away. We went as close as we could and I snapped a few photos. I’ll include the full photo first to see if you can pick it out; the camouflage is superb. (click on photos to enlarge)

Did you spot it? We wondered what it was doing flying around in the middle of the day. There is a bird sanctuary in the area so perhaps it had a day pass.


For more photos visit my Photo of the Day board on Pinterest

Art Class: Pottery

Our first unit in the new year was pottery. We spent three mornings at a pottery studio with a wonderful pottery teacher and the resulting creations were very impressive. As there were just three participants for this unit each student had a wheel to use.  On the first week all three made several pots.

During the second class they trimmed the pots, tidying up rough edges and putting a “foot” on the bottom if desired. They also had time to make things by hand if they wished.

The final class was spent glazing which took a while as there were many pots and numerous choices for designs and combinations. We were all excited to see the finished products after their final firing.

Art Class: Coloured pencil drawing

Before Christmas we did a short three week unit of coloured pencil drawing. We used both watercolour and wax or oil based coloured pencils. Just as my art teachers had done I had my class drawing fruit. Fruit are a manageable subject to be completed in a short time frame.  Even though the time was relatively short I stressed that the longer we spent building up colour with the non watercolour pencils the more depth and realism we could achieve. It was not just colouring in a sketch.

Our warm up exercises before drawing the fruit were to complete several solids concentrating on the light and dark areas, shadows and shading.

Art Class: Monoprinting

The final technique in our printing unit was monoprinting, so called because no two prints are ever the same.

We used leaves and grasses which were readily available outside. (It was a while ago, before the snow came). We tried different methods for making a print including applying ink directly to the leaves, rolling ink on glass then lifting it with the leaves and taking a negative print after the ink had been lifted. The detail we were able to achieve in the veins on the leaves was surprising.

Art Class: Lino Printing 2

We continued carving and printing our linocuts and designed a second smaller one each as well. Here  is a squirrel S12 carved .

The lino cut below shows the amount of carving required to create a design with little or no background. As you can see in the card the finished product looked great. L14 printed it in red ink and sponged extra colour  onto the paper after printing. I bought speedball printing ink for our second week and it worked well.

A15 printed her shoe in a few different colours and we are hoping to print it three times in colours which will work in her room then frame them.

My own linoprint is posted on my paintings page

Art Class: Lino Printing 1

As a lead up to creating some lino prints we spent one week designing potato prints. Although it may have seemed like a step back into kindergarten it was a good exercise to get everyone thinking about positive and negative designs and carving the mirror image of what they wanted to see in their final print. The lino blocks are of course a little pricier than potatoes so the preparation was worthwhile.

B11 created some car logos, cars being his current passion. I carved a leaf and some abstract patterns. There was a paisley design, a few names and letters, an eye and a quite impressive albeit mirrored image world map.

The following week we began by designing our lino cuts. Everyone had to decide whether they wanted to create a negative or positive design. One way you carve your design out of the lino block leaving lino around the design. The other method is to carve away all that is not your design so that it remains at the end to be inked. Once the designs had been transferred or redrawn on the lino blocks everyone started carving. The carving tools are very sharp. A few of the students made me nervous. Band aids were needed!

The first prints were done using Stampin’Up Craft ink and the coverage wasn’t too bad; the smoother the paper the better the print. I am going to get some ink specifically designed for block printing and see what the difference is.

Art Class: Marbling

We have started a new year of art and I have a class of four regulars with a couple more students who will join in occasionally. Our first unit for the year is printmaking and we kicked off with two weeks of marbling. For Christmas one year B11 bought me a marbling kit which, until now, has sat on the shelf unused. We had a great time with it and are all keen to have another go at a later date. I will need to find a new source of chemicals having used up the ones in the kit and I would like to try better quality paper and/or inks as the prints are a little washed out.

Marbling involves a bath of “size” onto which you drop coloured inks. The inks spread but do not blend so it is possible to manipulated them into patterns with combs and skewers.

Once the pattern is created,  paper which has been soaked in an alum solution is lowered onto the size to pick up the marbled pattern.

During the first week we familiarized ourselves with the way the inks reacted to the size and to each other, creating some basic and random patterns. Above is a print B11 made.  The second week we were more deliberate in creating our patterns following some recipes included in the kit. Below are two prints; the pink one A15 made and the other is mine.

Ancient Rome timeline

As I mentioned earlier in the year B10 and 3 other children have been studying Ancient civilizations over the last two years.  We recently wrapped up Ancient Rome by created a soundtrack to go with the timeline we have been adding to all year.  After the photos and recording were done B10 turned it into two short videos.

Run, jump, smile

We recently participated in the local homeschool trackmeet.  B10 had a successful and enjoyable day as did the girls.  The track isn’t quite up to the standard of the tracks A14 has been training on but it did the job.  The meet includes several sprints, long jump, standing broad jump and shotput followed by 4×100 relays and an all age 800m.  All the children did all the events and were a little weary at the end.

Art Update

I haven’t written about my art class since last June but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been doing art.  When we resumed in September it was a smaller class, just 3½ members.  We started off with some drawing and sketching exercises and then moved into an acrylics unit.  I am not very comfortable with acrylics and despite my reading and practising I didn’t feel that I was able to guide my students very well.  We continued doing some sketching each week and worked on two landscapes in acrylic: one realistic and the other with a monochrome colour scheme plus a black silhouette image.

Just before Christmas we signed up for a pottery class and created quite a selection of gifts as well as a few pieces to keep ourselves.  During our first lesson we created bowls and platters, large and small. Our teacher showed us how to make mugs the second week and we created some candle holders as well.  During the final week we glazed all the pieces that had survived the kiln; there were a few casualties.  Everyone enjoyed doing pottery so we hope to do it again and include some lessons on the wheel.

After Christmas we returned to drawing exercises, both still life and faces.  We had been drawing before Christmas as we always began with a warm up exercise of one sort or another.  One of our first still life subjects was a classic one given to me by every art teacher I ever had and which I see again and again in books: the humble capsicum, or, as they say here, pepper.  I expected complaints from my class at being asked to draw vegetables but everyone enjoyed the exercise as we did them in pencil, charcoal, watercolour pencil and fine tip marker. Over several weeks we also did lemons, shoes and toy cars before the artists chose a few fruit or vegetables to create their own still life arrangement to draw.

Practising drawing faces turned out to be difficult but quite amusing at times. We used the guidelines given in various books to get our proportions right but also  used each other as models.  It is safe to say that most of our sketches were hardly flattering.  It was a very good exercise however and we now know more the relative positions and sizes of all the facial features.

After completing our faces unit each of the three girls in the class embarked on a project of their own choice to be entered in the Young at Art competition held by the City of Ottawa.  The competition is open to 12-19 yearolds.  A14 chose to do some digital art using the Bamboo we gave her for Christmas.  She took a photograph of the canal in winter, desaturated it and turned it into a spring or summer scene at dusk.

P16 chose to paint a watercolour of a Peruvian child bundled in a traditional blanket.

H13 tried several ideas before settling on one of the projects we had done in class: capsicums drawn using charcoal, watercolour pencil and graphite pencil.

All three submissions were very well done but unfortunately only a selection are picked for display and winners are chose from those displayed.  A14’s digital print Reflections at Dusk was chosen as the winner this year in the junior level of the “Other Media’ category.

Our last unit for the year was abstract art.  The first task required everyone to choose a colour scheme, either cold or warm, and a shape to be repeated throughout the abstract design.  Most of us tried several different approaches to this task.  The second abstract project required a mass of liquid coloured paint, again in a cool or warm colour scheme, into which imprinted different textures.