Monthly Archives: September 2012

Level 1 Art – My Monster


I decided that the kids needed a little less structure in this art project.  The last few had been A + B = C the whole way through.  This allowed them to have a bit more artistic freedom, and I was GREATLY rewarded for my actions!  Don’t get me wrong.  There was SOME guidance through it all.  We started off by figuring out different body shapes monsters could have.  {Yes, I know that monsters can come in (literally) any size, shape, color, etc. imaginable, BUT oftentimes, if a child gets too many options, he or she won’t know what direction to go.}  While they threw out ideas, I drew them on the overhead.  I then asked them to tell me how many eyes and where they should be put.  We did the same thing with the arms and legs, mouths, and any other details (spots, hair, etc.).  Once we had them finished, I asked them to take these different parts and make up their own monsters.  Some were brave enough to ask if they could do something completely different, and that was totally fine!  Others appreciated something to springboard from.

Next, using a pencil lightly, I had them draw the most BASIC part of the shape of the monster.  Some tried to start adding details in, but I had them erase those lines.  The details would come later.  Once they had a general idea of the shape, and any other large area they wanted to pay attention to with color, I had them use their watercolors and fill in the shapes.  I asked that they not use just one color, but add in extra colors (blues with greens or purples, oranges with pinks or yellows) to give the monsters more pizzaz.  That idea was A+!

Once their monster was watercolored, and it was dry, I had the kids take a Sharpie and very carfully go over the pencil lines.  I also had them add in any extra details as well.  Here are the finished products:

History – Making Walnut Ink


We’re studying the Middle Ages this year (and next) in History, and although it was also called the Dark Ages*, there was a little bit of writing going on – generally by the monks.  This was especially prevalent when Saint Augustine came to Britain, founded the first Christian churches, and started to teach others how to write.

There were many ways to make ink, and most used methods of pounding out different types of barks, mushrooms, or coal and boiling them in order to produce a staining liquid.  To get my kids in on the fun of writing with quills, I made walnut ink.  Some moms in our co-op were gracious to pick up and bring in a couple of bags of walnuts, freshly dropped from the trees (we live in the midwest, so they are EVERYWHERE in the neighborhoods).  I wanted to make the ink WITH the kids at school, but after doing this, I’m thanking God to that unanswered prayer!  I’m sure their mothers will thank me once they see my hands.  Read on:

First, gather about 10-15 felled walnuts.  You can use both the ones with the green flesh still surrounding the shell, and the ones that are just the black shells.  FIRST, PUT ON GLOVES!!!!!!!   If you’re using the green fleshy ones, take a steak knife and cut it open like you would an avocado.  Once you’ve made the cut, twist it open, again, just like an avocado.  It’ll be a bit difficult, but it doesn’t matter it you end up tearing it, because it’s all going in the pot.  The idea is to expose the flesh and the shells.  Put all these parts in a large pot and put just in enough water to cover everything.  Bring it to boil, and then lower the heat and let it simmer for an hour.  If you didn’t heed my warning about gloves, this is a great time to go take a picture of your hands so you can upload the picture to Facebook and tell all your friends how stupid you were.  Ahem.

The above picture is what they look like after simmering for an hour.  The ink is essentially ready at this point.  Use a metal slotted spoon (or something like it) to scoop out the large parts and throw them away.  I suggest using metal, because this will want to stain anything porous – like plastic.  Using a metal strainer, pour the remaining contents of the pot into your container.  It made a LOT in my case.  I have enough to write my own Book of Kells.


I felt like I needed to make sure the ink was going to work, so I did a little quality control.  I dipped a chopstick in the ink and wrote on a piece of paper, and it was so cool!  Granted, it wasn’t as authentic, because back in the Middle Ages they would write on dried calf and sheep skin, but since I fresh out of that, ye olde paper would have to do.

My daughter decided to try her hand at the “quality control,” and this is what she wrote.  Hardy har-har.  I have nothing but respect for the Amish, but I’m too ADD and worldly for that!  I do make my own laundry soap now…  Does that count?

This is what my hands looked like RIGHT after starting the walnut shells to boil.  I thought, “Gee.  This kind-of DOES stain, but it’s not THAT bad…”

And this is what my hands looked like by the time I went to bed!  OMG!  My nails look like I’ve been digging in the dirt!  This is worse than henna, because at least THAT’S done in pretty patterns.  I can only hope it doesn’t last as long as henna does…   Yes, this picture went up on Facebook so all my friends could see how stupid I was.

*The Dark Ages is not a period of time when there wasn’t enough light.  The name refers to the fact that most people didn’t know how to write, so there aren’t a lot of written accounts of this time in history.  Most people passed their stories down orally by bards.  History lesson done.

Level 1 Art – Exploring Positive and Negative


A positive/negative exercise.

For this exercise, I used white cardstock, and a half sheet of black construction paper.  The kids cut a rectangle from the construction paper, and glued the frame of black to the white cardstock.  They flipped the rectangle and glued it down.  In the open white space, they used a black marker and colored a vase.  On the small rectangle, the kids drew three daisies, using a white crayon.

These turned out neat, but to be honest, I like it better when the kids have a little ‘free art’ mixed in with the project.  I felt so rigid giving out the instructions on how to make this, BUT this (and the one previous – Warm Hands) is one of those projects that you HAVE to be precise about in order for the end result to work.  I think the kids were happy with their work, but it didn’t receive the same raves as other ones.  No worries, though!  Next week, we’ll be watercoloring again, and this time, it’ll be on canvas!

You can find the original project idea to this here.

Writing – Mr. Stick Grows the Biggest Vegetable Ever!


Oh no! Mr. Stick grows a tomato bomb!

Our friend, Mr. Stick has managed to grow the biggest vegetable ever.  I asked the kids to tell me not only what kind of vegetable it was, but also what happened as a result of this massive veggie!

In the story that Dominic wrote, Mr. Stick met his unfortunate demise as the tomato went nuclear.  Fear not, fans!  Mr. Stick returns in the next episode.

Level 1 Art – Warm Hands


Warm and cool colors making a beautiful piece of art!

I got this idea from here.  I had to buy the template, and then I made copies onto cardstock.  The children were instructed to have someone else at their table draw around their hand lightly in pencil.  Then, with colored pencils, they colored in the hand using only warm colors, specifically red, orang, and yellow.

We talked about complimentary and contrasting colors, and I had a picture of the colorwheel on the board for them to use as a reference.

After they colored the hand, they started on the outer rings, making sure to match up colors, like on the color wheel:  orange to blue, red to green, and yellow to purple.

They turned out looking great, and it was a fairly easy project.

Level 1 Art – Watercolor Tree Rings


Aren’t these cool? They have such a natural beauty to them!

This was a fun project!  I had the kids make large, mishapen rings on watercolor paper, using a black crayon.  Then, I showed them how to make different shades of the same color by lessening or adding water.  The more water, the lighter the color, while having less water produced a stronger and darker color.  They added a little bit of black, red, or yellow as they liked, and then filled in the empty space with black.

They turned out looking really cool!

The original idea can be found here.







Here's another!

Here’s another!

Science – Working Together


The little angels are working together!

Sometimes doing school work with friends is a whole lot easier than doing it by yourself.  Such is the case in science today.  They had a vocabulary crossword to do, and I allowed them to work together (as long as there weren’t any moochers!).  Everyone had to participate in coming up with answers.  This worked splendidly!


It’s also killer proof that we actually do seatwork in our class.  Ha! for all the doubters…