Arts and Crafts

How to do Picture Study Lessons in your Homeschool

Picture study charlotte mason homeschool how to

Picture study is one of the easiest components of a Charlotte Mason education to incorporate into your homeschool curriculum. You do not need to know anything yourself about art, or art history. I repeat …You do NOT need to know ANYTHING about art or art history to begin. All you need is knowledge of the method and a few worthy resources.

Picture study charlotte mason homeschool how to

Why is Picture Study important?

In today’s society, the importance of the arts has been superseded by STEM and the other sciences. We have lost touch with the great artistic masters of past. Now, the masses only see fragments, distorted reproductions of the original genius of these men and women. For most of us, the only exposure we get to great art might be a coffee shop using the Mona Lisa in it’s logo, or a travel advert for Japan using a work of art by Hokusai.

Many of us will have heard of  Leonardo Da Vinci, or Claude Monet, and will have seen their art used in advertisements on billboards and the TV, but have little to draw upon from our own education.

Just as the great works of literature give us glimpses in the the mighty thoughts of the world’s great authors, so too picture study can give us insight into the ideas and minds of those artists. It puts children in touch with worthy ideas and inspires them with something more than modern life can offer.

” We cannot measure the influence that one or another artist has upon the child’s sense of beauty, upon his power of seeing, as in a picture, the common sights of life; he is enriched more than we know in having really looked at a single picture.” – Charlotte Mason

 

charlotte mason picture study

Picture study offers our children a store of images in their mind, to balance out the media’s influence and attempt to monopolize their senses.

Picture study also:

  • Improves a child’s power of observation
  • Develop a sense of beauty
  • Connects them with an artist of a piece of art
  • Helps them to form opinion about art and their own taste in it
  • Encourages them to draw and be creative themselves

How to do Picture Study

From the ages of 6 to 15 Charlotte Mason recommended that children become acquainted with at least thirty of the world’s most famous artists.

I have filmed a short video, showing glimpses into our own Picture study lesson, in the hope that it will make what is written here clearer.

WATCH THIS VIDEO!

First begin by choosing the artist you wish them to study. In our first year, we began with Leonardo Da Vinci as it was easy to find the resources we needed, and I was slightly familiar with his work.

However, please remember, you do not need to know ANYTHING about the artist before you begin. In fact, it will only add to your enjoyment of this subject, as you find yourself learning alongside the children.

Examples of artists to study include:

  • Van Gogh
  • Claude Monet
  • Hokusai
  • Leonardo Da Vinci
  • Cezanne
  • Georgia O’Keeffe

The next step is to find six works of art by that artist for that school term, and studying three different artists per year.

Display one of those pieces in front of your children, and ask them to look at it closely, in silence. Allow them plenty of time to, not only absorb it, but to think and ponder over it. Then, when they are finished, hide the art from them and ask them to describe it.

Try your best not to prompt them with leading questions, like “What colour was her dress?” or “What was the weather like?” Just simply say, ” Tell me about it.” They will almost certainly not remember everything, but they don’t need to. By narrating in this way, they are performing a much higher thought process; of observing, processing, recalling and articulating those thoughts in their own words.

Muslim homeschool circle time
Artwork on display during school day

If you prompt too much, you are in danger of having your children become dependent on your questions, like we often see in school comprehension worksheets and multiple choice questions. Allow your children to think for themselves.

If your child is not used to narration, and is struggling to recall it or articulate his thoughts, then let him see the painting as he narrates. It is difficult skill to develop, so take it slow and try to keep the atmosphere joyful.

For older children, you can allow them to sketch from memory what they saw if they would like to.

Charlotte Mason picture study

 

 

The next step is to display that piece of art somewhere in your home so that the children can see it frequently through out their day.

The following week, repeat the process with the SAME piece of art. You will hopefully find that your children have more to say!

It can be helpful to tell the children a little about the artist or the painting before you begin. If the painting is about a story, it can be helpful to tell your children this story before you begin the picture study. Likewise, knowing a little more about the artist they are studying, will help them to form connections with him/her. Knowing more about the mind behind the art will encourage your children to look more closely at the work itself.

After 2 weeks, switch to another piece art by that same artist. In so doing, your child will some to  know at least 6 of the artist’s works each term. That’s an incredible achievement!

Picture Study Resources

For the art prints themselves, I would always recommend getting the largest prints you can find and display easily.

Postcards and images in art textbooks are often too small for multiple children to see at once, and inevitably loose the finer details.

We personally use wall calendars of a specific artist. These tend to be much cheaper than books, the prints are a good size, and they are easy to display on our kitchen wall. Here are a few examples of some we have used:

Georgia O’Keeffe

Hokusai

Claude Monet

Another option, is to look for larger “coffee-table books” on a specific artist. You can usually find some in your local library or on Amazon.

We have also used “Print Packs” from the Great Artist Collection. These contain a selection of six beautiful colour prints along with extensive information about the artist and his/her work:

Paul Cezanne UK USA

Vincent Van Gogh UK USA

Renoir UK USA

Claude Monet UK USA

 

The organsiation Simply Charlotte Mason also produces lovely Picture Study Portfolios that contains eight prints and a handbook.We have not tried these ourselves, but I have heard they are a excellent.

Children’s artist biographies can also be found at the library, but I would strongly recommend pre-reading these so you can omit the less-wholesome parts of the artist’s lives that young children do not need to know about. However, it may be worthwhile older children knowing the full picture, as these parts of their lives will have inevitably influenced their art, and will make for meaningful discussions with you.

Here are a few artist biographies, in the form of living books, that we have enjoyed with our young children:

  • Linnea in Monet’s Garden  UK USA
  • My name is is Georgia (O’Keeffe)  UK USA
  • Camille and the Sunflowers (Van Gough) UK USA
  • Cezanne and the Apple Boy UK USA
  • Leonardo and the Flying Boy UK USA

During their lesson, we use a wooden cookbook stand to hold the calendar or book.

From the age of fourteen, art history is incorporated into the Charlotte Mason curriculum, where children learn how the artist worldview would have influenced their art.

homeschool how to

The picture study lessons will take no more that 10-15 minutes a week, but the influence that they have will be lifelong. To be able to store “a couple of hundred pictures by great masters hanging permanently in the halls of [their] imagination” is a worthy endeavor.

Other useful Picture Study links

It you have any questions about picture study please leave them for me in the comments below.

Thank you for taking the time to visit our blog and read my thoughts on this topic.

Peace and Love,

Charlotte Mason Picture study how to

 

Toucan Box Review | Arts and Crafts Subscription for Kids!

Toucan box review unboxing

Finding arts and crafts activities for your children to do can be a challenge, especially if you’re not a “crafty” mum!

The Toucan Box is a subscription service that delivers everything you need to your door, to create an fun art project!

The reason I wanted to try our the Toucan box, was for convenience! It can be challenging as a homeschooling mum, to find different art projects for my children to do, and then purchase all the supplies that it needs. The Toucan box promises to deliver everything I need to my door… so I had to try it out!

If you click on the links to Toucan box in this blog post or use my referral code, and then place an order, I will receive 50% off my next purchase. 

Toucan box craft subscription review unboxing

 

Toucan box review unboxing

What is a Toucan Box?

The Toucan box is a subscription service that delivers creative craft boxes to children aged 3-8 years old. The boxes come in 3 different sizes:

  • Petite: Provides everything you need to create an exciting activity. This box fit through the letter box and contains a activity book with puzzles, games, recipes and fun facts. This craft box is delivered fortnightly.
  • Grande: Provides all the materials needed for 2 craft activity, as well as a children book that goes along with the theme of the box. This box also contains a parent card containing further ideas for activities and games. This box is delivered monthly.
  • Super: This box contains everything you child will need to complete 4 craft activities, along with a children’s book and the parent card. This box also comes monthly.

This boxes have been designed by educational experts, and are Montessori-inspired, to help develop a child’s key skills.

What's inside a Toucan box

Toucan Box Unboxing

I decided to purchase the “Petite” box, just to try out the service and see what the craft activities were really like. I also really like the convenience of the petite box fitting through the letter-box, as we are often out during the afternoon when our postman arrives.

I received a FREE BOX along with my first order, and you can too if you CLICK HERE.

Before my children saw the boxes, I quickly filmed this un-boxing video for you!

If you would like to see what is inside a Toucan box, WATCH THIS VIDEO!

Toucan Box Review

The petite Toucan box really surprised me! The quality of the material were excellent, and the instructions were very clear. In this case, the Pirate-themed box actually contained 2 craft activities, when the it is only supposed to have 1, which was a lovely surprise!

Furthermore, the activities book also contained another craft activity to make a “pirate’s hook”. Although all the supplies were not included in the box, there were things we already had at home, like foil and glue! My son loved doing this craft, along with all the puzzles the book also contains.

Toucan box review and unboxing video pirate themed craft

What surprised me most about the Toucan box, is that it prompted an entire afternoon of imaginary play! My boys pretended their bunk-beds were a Pirate ship; even the sofa became a Pirate ship later in the day! They went out into the garden on a treasure hunt, they made pirate names for each other ….and the playing went on and on!

In my eyes, as a mother, that is the ultimate sign of success; that my children were so inspired by these craft activities, that they took them and the ideas they had learnt, into their imaginary world with them!

We are all really looking forward to the arrival of the next Toucan box!

If you would like to order a Toucan box for your family, CLICK HERE. By clicking on this link, you will also receive a FREE GIFT BOX along with your order.

Alternatively, type in the following code at the checkout, and you will receive your FREE GIFT BOX too: GEMMA-9E6X

 

Toucan box review and unboxing video pirate themed craft

Have you ever used a children’s subscription service? Would you recommend them?

Keeping up with the demands of creative kids can be difficult…would you agree?!? 

Please let me know in the comments below!

Peace and Love,

Dr Gemma Elizabeth

Easy Arabic Alphabet Cupcakes!

Children are never too young to start learning Arabic! One of the first steps for children is to master the Arabic alphabet.

In our homeschool we like to find creative and fun ways for children to learn. Recently we decided to make cupcakes an decorate them with the Arabic letters. The kids loved this hands-on approach to learning and I think your family will too!

Our Muslim Homeschool uses affiliate links in posts and sidebar ads. Please refer to my Disclaimer for more information.

 

Cooking together teaches your children important life skills, as does all the cleaning up afterwards! Younger children love mixing and pouring ingredients together, whilst the older children improve their maths skills by measuring out and weighing out the flour, butter and sugar.

Arabic alphabet cupcakes - Teach you children the Arabic letters with this fun activity! Arabic alphabet cupcakes - Teach you children the Arabic letters with this fun activity!

Similarly, this tactile and sensory approach to learning was very successful in helping my younger children learn their Arabic alphabet. Not only does it require them to identify the letter in their mind, but also focus on how the letter is formed when making their own with icing.

Not only is this activity really fun, but it also works really well and is an effective way of teaching children the Arabic alphabet. ….And you get delicious cakes to enjoy afterwards too!

Arabic Alphabet Cupcakes

These cupcakes were very easy to make, and older children may be able to follow the  recipe will minimal help from you!

I decided to top each cupcake with butter-cream icing, because it’s just so delicious! Then on top on that we added the Arabic letters, made from Ready-to-roll icing.

 

You will need…

Equipment:

 

Ingredients:

  • 110g/4oz Butter, softened
  • 110g/ 4oz Caster sugar
  • 110g/ 4oz Plain flour
  • 2 tsp Baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 tsp Vanilla paste (Alcohol-free) – Buy HERE

For Decorating:

  • 140g/5oz Butter, softened
  • 280g/10oz Icing Sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp Milk
  • Ready-To-Roll Icing (Several Colours) – Buy Here (Vegetarian)

Cupcake Recipe

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/ 350F / Gas 4.
  2. Line the muffin tin with paper cases.
  3. Put the butter and sugar in a bowl. Beat it using an electric whisk until pale and fluffy.
  4. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into another bowl.
  5. Beat the eggs and vanilla separately.
  6. Mix all the ingredients together.
  7. Spoon the mixture carefully into the paper cases.
  8. Bake for 18-20 minutes until risen and firm to the touch.
  9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes.
  10. Remove from tin and allow to cool completely before decorating.

Arabic alphabet cupcakes - Teach you children the Arabic letters with this fun activity!

Icing Recipe

  1. Using a whisk, beat the butter until soft.

  2. Continue to whisk whist slowing adding the icing sugar.

  3. Add the milk and mix well.

Let’s Decorate!

  1. Apply 1-2 tbsp of buttercream icing to the top of each cupcake. You can pipe it on yourself, or let your children do it using two small spoons.
  2. Flour your kitchen surfaces to prevent sticking in the next step.
  3. Roll out the ready-to-roll icing to approximately 5mm (1/2 cm) thick.
  4. Use the Arabic letter cutters from the play dough kit to cut out any letters from Arabic alphabet you wish to learn/revise.
  5. Carefully use a butter knife to lift the letters onto the top of the cakes.
  6. Continue until all the cakes are decorated.
  7. Enjoy!

Arabic alphabet cupcakes - Teach you children the Arabic letters with this fun activity!

Tip: If your ready-to-roll icing gets too warm, it will be difficult to cut out the letters. To prevent this, keep the icing in the fridge until you are ready to use it.

I hope your family enjoy making and eating these Arabic alphabet cupcakes! They would be a great addition to any children’s party, iftaar or Eid celebration!

Arabic alphabet cupcakes - Teach you children the Arabic letters with this fun activity!

Arabic alphabet cupcakes - Teach you children the Arabic letters with this fun activity!

Have you ever used cooking to teach your children an Academic subject?
What other creative ways have you used to teach the Arabic Alphabet?
Please tell us about it in the comments below!

Peace and Love,

Dr Gemma Elizabeth

Cooking-Skills-iHomeschool Net


Educational Games for 2-8 Year Olds

Handicraft Ideas for Young Children

Handcriaft ideas for young children

The following post is from Shannen at Middle Way Mom

Are you intimidated to get started with handicrafts? With small children, they have so much excitement to make something themselves, but we don’t want to present a project that frustrates them and kills that excitement.

 

 

Still, we don’t want to wait so long that our child no longer has an interest in crafts of any sort.

Charlotte Mason says:

The points to be borne in mind in children’s handicrafts are: (a) that they should not be employed in making futilities such as pea and stick work, paper mats, and the like; (b) that they should be taught slowly and carefully what they are to do; (c) that slipshod work should not allowed; (d) and that, therefore, the children’s work should be kept well within their compass.

~ Charlotte Mason, Home Education, Volume 1, pgs 315-316

Charlotte offers some suggestions for handicrafts for children under 9, but to be honest, many of them seem antiqued, or would be hard to source. So what handicraft ideas are useful for young children in our modern times?

We’ve tried a few handicraft ideas in our home with my 6 year old daughter: some very successful, and some not as much. Here I’ll share with you what I believe are some of the best projects to get started, in sha Allah.

Handicraft ideas for young children

 

What are handicrafts?

Handicrafts are more than arts and crafts. Handicrafts are useful items that serve a purpose, or decorate a useful item, like embroidery.

Learning some basic handicrafts helps children:

  • Learn the value of items, and the work that goes into them, also helping children see the issue with cheap labor to make clothing and household items
  • Practice fine motor skills
  • Find passions and hobbies to nuture both their creative and practical side
  • Teach them valuable skills they can use as they grow older

Knitting loom

How did we start with handicrafts in my home? My 4 year old, at the time, saw me knitting one day and begged me to teach her, but again I didn’t want to teach her something where she had little likelihood to be successful. Fortunately, I found a used knitting loom online and purchased that, plus I had some yarn left over from my own projects.

She took to it immediately and has been making hats and crowns (hats without tops) ever since.

At 4 years old she needed some guidance, but overall mashaAllah she did quite well independently, and she had a great sense of accomplishment

Weaving

Weaving can result in many different types of projects, the most common for kids being pot holders. We started with pot holders because it was really cheap to get the loom and the bands, but I can see it sparked something bigger in my 6 year old and she’d love if I got her a weaving loom for other projects like making scarves, placemats, or bracelets.

You can find many YouTube videos about making your own weaving loom to make a variety of projects to get you started, or find a high quality, affordable kit.

Simple sewing projects

Sewing School is a great book to get ideas for really simple projects. We started with a couple charm squares of fabric, a needle, thread, and some cotton stuffing, and with this my daughter made a pillow for her dolls. A variation of this project is only sewing three sides and not stuffing it to make a pocket, or attach a handle to make a doll bag.

The book offers many other projects kids can work on, but I loved how simple the pillow project was to get us started.

Girl sewing handicraft pillow

 

Knit or crochet

I hear many people mention how their grandmother or mother taught them how to knit or crochet when they were 5, 6, or 7 years old, but a common theme is that they didn’t stick with it. I have taught my child how to knit, because she insisted, but with the attention span of young children, it’s hard for them to even see a washcloth project through to completion.

If your child is interested in it, I wouldn’t say to hold back, but until they are about 8 years old, I wouldn’t expect a child to run with it like they would with weaving pot holders.

Yarn or fabric dyeing

Super easy, and super fun for kids! Even more fun? Dyeing their own yarn, then knitting with it themselves on the loom!

There are a lot of videos on YouTube to teach you how to dye yarn, but I personally prefer to pick up a kit from a well regarded source so I don’t waste time and money on a video that may or may not be well constructed. Knit Picks has some books, dyes, and bare yarn to purchase. Another great source is your local yarn shop, and it supports local small businesses.

Advice for starting with handicrafts

While Charlotte Mason suggests only giving a child work that they can perfect, that doesn’t mean that’s it’s perfect the first time around. Offer up some options and let your child choose something in their interest.

Also, in your day to day lives, point out items that the child could make themselves and offer up ideas.

And… the best way to encourage your child to take up handicrafts?

Do them yourself! Invite your child to help sew on a button. Knit while doing your homeschooling lessons. Quilt while watching a movie.

Not into fiber arts? Paint rocks together, garden, paint bird houses, and other useful crafts to spark an interest.

What are some handicraft ideas you’ve tried with your child?

Shannen is an American Muslim convert, homeschooling mother to 4 daughters and mediocre housewife. She enjoys blogging, knitting, quilting, and avoiding housework. Read more on her blog about their Islamic homeschool, green(ish) living, and the ups and downs of parenting. You can connect with Shannen on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Ancient China: Ming Bowl Craft

We have been learning about Ancient China in our homeschool. The history of China is so interesting, and the children have really enjoyed learning more about the Chinese culture.

In addition to the history of China, we have learnt more about the physical Geography of China, including map work and read some Ancient Chinese legends.

 

Homeschool Ancient China craft activity

The idea for this craft came from Story of the World: Activity Book 1.


Both my 6 year-old and 4 year-old boys enjoyed doing this activity, and our Ancient Ming bowls look beautiful displayed in our dining area.

 

Ancient Chinese Bowl Craft

Craft Supplies:

 

Air Drying Clay
Cling-film (Plastic wrap)
Small plastic bowl
Rolling Pin
Blunt knife
Blue paint
White glue (optional)
Paint Brush 

How to Make your Ming Bowl:

  1. Roll out clay to about 1 cm thick, so that it will cover the entire plastic bowl.
  2. Wrap the plastic bowl in cling-filmand turn upside down. Make sure your surfaces are covered in newspaper or an old table cloth.
  3. Lay the clay over the upturned bowl.
  4. Use your knife to trim away the excess clay and make the edges smooth.
  5. Leave clay to dry over-night.
  6. Once completely dry, use your blu paint to decorate the outside of the bowl. Chinese pottery was typically painted with flowers, birds and outdoor scenery. Leave to dry.
  7. If you would like to give your bowl a gloss finish, mix 2 parts glue with 1 part water to make a glaze. Paint this mixture over the entire bowl, and leave to dry.
Here are my son’s beautiful Ancient Chinese Ming Bowls:
Ancient China Homeschool Craft Art Project

My 6 year-old painted waves onto his bowl, and my younger son (4 years-old) chose to paint trees on his. They were really pleased with the results and have been showing these bowls to anyone who comes to visit!

 

More Resources for Ancient China Unit Study:

Other Resources we have used for our Ancient China Unit Study include:

 

  •   
 

We have really enjoyed learning about Ancient China. The only thing left to do now s get some Chinese take-away and watch Kung-fu Panda!


Have you been looking at Ancient China in your homeschool? Have you done any interest Chinese crafts?
I would really love to hear what resources you have been using. Please share with us in the comments below! 

 

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Peace and Love xx
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