Friday, April 10, 2015

Homeschool preschool: artist theme

In January, I started doing additional structured activities at home with Ellie. These follow my ideal way of learning for her: it's child-led, theme-based, and play-centered. See more about our first two months here.

Each month, she chooses a theme. I find or create activities for her in that theme, around broad educational categories. Many of those overlap, but I try to identify a primary learning objective for each one and hit a number of categories each week. Each day we (usually) do one or two activities, depending on our schedule.

We had a hard month and didn't do as many activities, but the ones we did were really, really interesting and fun!


  • Venn diagram: landscapes and portraits. I printed out a bunch of art pieces from around the world and from all different time periods. I'm not sharing this document because I'm sure some of the art is still copyrighted! I cut them out and then created a Venn diagram with two jump ropes. I explained the concept of a Venn diagram, and then we sorted the first few together. We included abstract pieces as well, which went outside of the circles. She caught on pretty quickly, and it was fun to share my love of Venn diagrams with her! 

  • Shape art, inspired by Paul Klee. I used sticky foam so she could attach it easily to her paper. I forgot to make the shapes all the same size (as mentioned in the original source link), but she didn't mind. She ended up cutting some pieces to fit the holes that were left, which I thought was a fine problem solving solution!

  • Compass painting: I used this general idea but didn't really give her any guidelines beyond showing her how to use the compass. It was hard for her to coordinate holding the compass and moving it around while keeping it still. 

  • Drawing things apart, inspired by Da Vinci and from a library book I got out forever ago and can't find anymore online! Ellie picked a flashlight and did what I think is an amazing job drawing all the pieces. My little engineer loved this one.

  • Standing mobile, inspired by Calder, also from the library book. Sam loved stringing the beads and buttons on the wire, and Ellie really had a great time experimenting with twisting, curving and intersecting the wire. We also made a funny little dinner with a PBJ and fruit/veg mobile.

  • Kind of everything, obviously, but we went to the art museum (it's free here!) and I gave Ellie the camera to take pictures of some of her favorite pieces. We also played some of the games from this link. This was a phenomenal trip. I was a little surprised by how much both kids loved it.

  • Print making: we did rubberbands around blocks of wood to get familiar with the idea of printing, and then the kids carved designs (Ellie chose a rhinoceros!) into styrofoam trays. We rolled paint onto the trays and placed paper on top to make our print.

Sensory: Sam did smoosh painting while Ellie worked on one of the other projects. This is just paper and paint inside a Ziploc bag, but kept him entertained for 30 minutes.

Gross motor: This isn't so much "gross motor" as just engaging a different perspective and position for art. We did a lie-down painting, inspired by Michelangelo and the Sistene Chapel. I taped paper underneath our coffee table and the kids painted while lying on the floor. What was most interesting about this is that Ellie almost always chooses to draw people, but she decided to draw a tiger for something different. I am nearly certain this is because of the different perspective.

Fine motor: Tin punching. I bought a piece of punching tin from Hobby Lobby, then gave Ellie an awl and a mallet. She decided to write her name, but she only made it through the first two letters before her hands and arms tired out. Sam got an aluminum foil and play tools version.

Geography: Origami. I just googled patterns and found some great ones -- a crown, a boat, a jumping frog and a puppet fox. Ellie could have done this all day.