a lot of kids and a lot of ink

kid made silk-screen cards

Last week I taught a silkscreen workshop for the kids in our homeschool group.  I got all of our supplies from EZ Screen Print and each kid got to make a screen 5 1/2″ x 4 1/4″.  We spent the first 20 minutes making their drawings with black Sharpie on 20 lb. copy paper then used the sun to expose their screens.

exposing screens in the sun

In art school silk screen was a long process requiring a lot of special equipment– but with the EZ Silk Screen it was a breeze.  Colorado boasts more than 300 sunny days a year, and it did not fail us.  I was so excited that we didn’t even need to use transparency for their images.  The Sharpie on paper exposed perfectly.

rinishing screens

We developed and washed everything with plain old water.

homeschool silkscreen craziness

And just used tape to hold the screens in place rather than stretching screens on frames.

kid made silk screen

getting shirts ready

The actual printing was pretty  messy, but the results were worth it.  I love sharing these kind of projects with kids– helping them do things that seem so complex and showing them that they are artists!  They were all so proud of their finished products.

some finished shirts

I ended up doing it over 2 days.  The first group had 8 kids, with my older 3 added to that.  11 kids was a bit overwhelming, I have to admit.  The next day I had 4 extra kids and it was perfect.  It made me wish I taught an art class more than once a year.

toddler color learning

So, the other day I discovered that Hunter knows his colors.  He was driving his lovely rainbow of cars around and saying the color name of each one.  I wasn’t sure if it was for real, so I asked, “Hunter, can you drive the green one?”  and he got the green one!  Then I asked, “What color is this car?” and he answered “ornge” (one syllable).

acorn color sorting

Since then he has been really interested in color– the color of the cup he’s drinking out of, the color of shirt he wears.  I thought I’d build on that interest and make him a little school activity.

coloring sorting

Inspired by all of the color sorting activities available at this shop on etsy, I ordered some mini acorns and bowls from Casey’s wood products.  I used water color to paint them and the beeswax paste we have for our table to seal them.  I wish I had ordered larger acorns, but still I really love how they turned out.

little bowls and acorns

It’s fun to watch how Hunter, who is almost 21 months, uses this material.  He grabs a handful of acorns and puts 2 or so in a bowl, looks at them, and then takes out any acorns that don’t match.  Sometimes he’ll pick up a bowl to look at it closer to see if it matches the acorn in his hand.  He spends 5 to 10 minutes working, then walks away.


color sorting acorns

toddler color sorting

I certainly don’t think activities like this are a necessity for teaching young children– all of my kids have learned the colors, shapes, alphabet, and letter sounds in a very natural way through everyday life.  But, as my family grows and older children need my attention and toddlers need something to do other than climb on tables and empty drawers in the kitchen, Montessori inspired activities that are engaging and matched to the child’s current interest are proving invaluable for a happy day, happy children, and a happy, sane mama.

homemade geometric insets

homemade montessori geometric insets

Here is our newest Montessori activity– the geometric insets.  I’ve read about them and their use in all of the books I keep checking out from the library about Montessori education, and in the books I own as well.  It was after watching this video, though, that I really saw all the potential they held for our creative family.  I’ve been struggling with helping the kids see the value in good handwriting, but using this material properly gives practice in holding and using a pencil carefully.  And it’s fun!  Just what we need.

diamond tracing

I made them from red mat board I had left over from making my set of sandpaper (well, felt, really) letters which I’ll have to show you sometime.


I used some wooden trays I found at Joann’s (they fit perfectly in our cubbies) with some book board cut to fit at a slant to display and transport them.  The knobs are from Joann’s too.  I also made a drawing tray for Ian so his paper and inset are held in place when he traces.  It’s just 2 layers of book board, the top one with a 6″ x 6″ square cut out of the center.

geometric inset work

careful lines

The boys have all been hard at work.  Since I am insisting on them being used properly–  carefully traced and then colored in by drawing lines from left to right– Brenna is pretty resistant.  Oh well.

this book helped me out

geometric inset instructions

I used this book that was given to me by my mother in-law for instructions, along with a protractor, a ruler, a compass, and a sharp exacto knife.  I made a hexagon instead of a pentagon because hexagons just fit in geometric patterns better.

The results are lovely, and my three year old is intent on holding his pencil properly, and he’s happily occupied for long stretches of time.

designs by the 6 and 8 year olds

(by Jonah and Logan)

all triangles

by the 3 year old

(by Ian)

these school days

discovering the scriptures

Oh, school.  We’ve been at it for several weeks now.  6 maybe?  I think we’re on our 6th week.  It has been so long since I’ve written about school, how and what we do.  I don’t think I wrote about it at all last school year once the Summer Mom-school fizzled out.  Why, might you ask?  Well, I guess my confidence has been a bit shaky.  In my heart of hearts I know that this homeschooling thing is what I am supposed to do with the children God has blessed me with.  It is certainly not for the faint of heart, though, and since Hunter was born and Brenna has entered double digits I have been trying to get my bearings.

Last year I decided I needed some help finding books and creating some structure and after lots of searching and praying we decided to give Sonlight a try.  After starting Core 3 with Brenna and Jonah I decided the reading was too easy for them, sent it back, and got Core 3/4.  Because the kids go to public school one day a week and we often go on homeschool group field trips on Thursdays we are still working through it.  I love the literature and history part of it.  Not so sure about the language arts program, and though the science books are lovely, my kids are tired of electricity and the worksheets are a little beyond Jonah’s interest and ability level.  I make Brenna do them.  Probably because I feel like I need to get my money’s worth.  With Jonah and Logan I’ve actually started using a borrowed Apologia zoology book and so far we’re loving it.  It is written in a way that it makes Charlotte Mason style learning so easy– with prompts to narrate, or tell back what they’ve read, experiments, and notebooking assignments in each lesson.

about snails and slugs

Brenna just reads and reads and reads encyclopedias.  Here she is writing a compare and contrast essay on snails and slugs.  Did you know many types of slugs actually have tiny shells inside their bodies?  Did you know that slugs actually have a gender, but snails are hermaphrodite?  Well, now you do because my little biology encyclopedia typed it up.

For math we are using Math-U-See, partly because we get it free through our homeschool/public school, and because I like blocks.  Math time is tolerable as long as I have realistic expectations that we will spend at least an hour doing math rather than the 30 minutes I had originally set aside for it.

For scripture study we’re using these workbooks and my little drawers love them.

driving on yoga blocks

My littles are a bit tricky.  My house usually looks just like Jessica’s because they will get out every game and empty every box, or every puzzle, or both.

tonging and sorting

I wish I had time and energy to put together Montessori activities for them every day.  Ian loves the sandpaper (well, felt) letters I made for him, and any sorting activity.  He sorted those pom poms for at least half an hour of quiet concentration a day for an entire week.  I would love to get him a wooden movable alphabet and the Pink series work.  The Michael Olaf catalogs are full of great ideas for toddlers too.  I know that my little guys would really concentrate if I put together and presented things for just them.  I also know they get a lot out of the drawing and reading aloud and counting and all that goes on here too just how it is.

So that’s what we’re doing now.  And it is ridiculously late, so you’ll just have to be okay with this ending.