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Homeschool Art Show

A few weeks ago, I hosted my first art show. But the show didn’t feature my artwork. Instead, this show featured student work from my observational drawing class. A big thank you to the parents, students, and local library for making the First Annual Homeschool Art Show a smashing success!

A picture of tables with children's artwork displayed.
The first annual homeschool art show was held at the local library

Observational Drawing for Kids

I had every intention of writing a post about the year-long observational drawing class I’ve been teaching this past year, but man, life has been busy. I have plans to get to it…soon. After we move. And paint. And install floors. And I finish up the Art History class I’m taking. But enough about my shortcomings. Here’s a partial list of activities we followed.

I used a tri-fold board to display the artist biographies

Kids’ Art Show

Around October, I knew I wanted to host an art show for the kids, but I wasn’t sure what it would look like. Initially, I thought we should open it up to the homeschool community and my students could be the curators. But as we got closer to spring, I wasn’t sure how to tackle that particular challenge. Instead, the homeschool parents opted for a low-key affair with artwork from the students in the class.

Around February, I reserved the meeting room at our local library and started planning the specifics. I decided to showcase four art pieces from each student, three pieces were completed drawings and one was an entry from their nature journal. All entries were self-selected.

I modified John Muir Laws’ nature journaling template for the kids’ use

Nature Journaling for Kids

For the spring semester, I focused on animals and other items from nature. To reinforce the concept of observation, I introduced the students to nature journals. A consistent nature journaling practice develops observation skills, something all artists need. I found a lot of inspiration in Clare Walker Leslie and John Muir Laws.

In addition to a online drawing tutorial, each week the kids created an entry in their nature journals. We shared our findings at the beginning of the class. It was such a large part of their spring semester work, and I wanted to honor that work at the art show (the kids were less enthusiastic about the idea, but they came around).

Artist Statements

I had never hosted an art show before and I wasn’t quite sure how I wanted to display their four pieces of art, so I was grateful when a friend mentioned artist statements. She had asked her children to create one for their own pieces of art and conveyed the idea to me. I realized this was the missing piece to the show.

The students filled out this worksheet, and typed it up in paragraph form. After a little bit of editing, I printed out two artist statements for each student and matted them on black construction paper. I also had the students write a short autobiographical note about who they were and what they liked about making art.

A colored pencil drawing of a seahorse is next to a typed artist statement for the piece.
Drawn by C, age 9

Art Show Logistics

I wanted to make this a special event to help the kids see how far they’ve come in their drawing skills. Thankfully, the parents were willing to help. Everyone brought a dish to share (cookies, veggie tray, etc.), and one parent even bought potted plants to liven up the meeting room.

I set up most of the artwork using book displays (borrowed from the library), and laid out the kids’ work in an alternating pattern. Thanks to our local library, set-up and take down was very easy and the central location contributed to the show’s success.

SCBWI Art Challenge – MARCH

I recently joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, aka SCBWI. It’s been something I’ve toyed with for many years, but I finally took the plunge and paid for a membership. After all, I chose to complete a master’s degree in library and information science because of my love of children’s literature. My first professional job was as a children’s librarian. My home was full of picture books – before I had kids. There is nothing more important to me than reading high-quality literature to children – especially toddlers and preschoolers.

No longer am I just consuming or recommending good books, I’m learning about how they are made and who is making them. I am enjoying this “other side” of children’s books. I am gobbling up books by editors, enthusiasts and authors; it feels like coming home.

So it’s no surprise that I wanted to flex my dusty art skills and take up their March illustrator challenge. Each month, talented illustrators submit a picture based on a prompt. Last month’s prompt was LOVE. This month, it’s MARCH.

a hand-drawn picture of a girl sneezing in a field of red flowers

This is what March looks like in Florida!

Practice, Practice, Practice

I wouldn’t even consider myself in the same league as these talented illustrators (which is why I didn’t actually submit my drawing). Rather, I am just happy for the inspiration. It took me awhile to figure out what type of picture I wanted to draw and then I had to figure out how to properly draw a child’s face — something that I haven’t spent a lot of time doing. It wasn’t always easy to find the time, or to get my sketch transferred just right. I also think watercolors would work better than color pencils, and perhaps I should do a few more facial sketches.  A lot of the uploaded illustrations looked digital and I’m definitely not ready to go there yet. I need another year…at least.

I think that’s why I liked meeting this prompt. The very act of doing it forged new pathways in my brain. I already see where I need to practice, and the new techniques I need to learn. Interestingly enough – this hasn’t scared me off. In fact, I’m looking forward to it.

a pencil sketch

A sketch of a girl sneezing, though she could also be yawning.

Medieval Times

(Originally posted February 25, 2013)

A few years ago, I came across the book, The Well-Trained Mind. What a resource. Prior to actually reading this book, I thought classically-trained education was lots of copywork, writing, and memorizing. And, while there is more of that than we implement at this time, these authors have also devised a simple schedule with regards to the study of history.

The child studies a different time period per year, but they begin in chronological order. Year one begins with Ancient History, etc. And, after those four years up, the child repeats the same time periods, thus enhancing his knowledge base and becoming more familiar with the topic. This makes so much more sense than learning about the United States and then trying to figure out where Ancient Greece came into being!

A big part of our formal homeschooling centers around The Story of the Worldbooks. We are on Volume Two: the Middle Ages. The first third of the book was still covering the fall of the Roman Empire, but finally, finally, we made it to the 1000s and the knights. I think I was more excited than my seven-year-old.


(A marshmallow cream and cereal Norman castle…an activity from theaccompanying guide)

And, of course, with castles and knights and books about kings…no study would be complete without a visit to our local medieval faire.




And, finally, an introduction to one of his new favorite games…chess. We borrowed this book from the library, suggested to us from the Volume 2 Activity Guide. And, considering it has been almost 20 years since I played…well…we all have benefitted from its use. Too bad his younger brother isn’t too fond of rules just yet…


We’re on the Crafty Crow today!

(Photo taken by my talented mother-in-law)

Remember this project? It's featured on the Crafty Crow today – along with some other really great butterfly ways to celebrate spring (uh, that would be summer for those of us in central Florida).

I should have more to say about Florida butterflies, but my brain seems to be on freeze today. A few weeks ago, we did find this video at our library. The second segment is about Monarch butterflies and we were pretending to be migrating to Mexico for weeks. I had no idea Reading Rainbow was so cool – and slow-paced – perfect for actually learning the content and providing new book suggestions. And finally, I did find this picture in our archives, although it was taken a few years ago. This was one of the few times Ronan was actually still for more than one minute at that age!

(Again, take by my m-i-l at the Butterfly Rainforest).

Happy Crafting!