The Eye Can Art team sent us an art kit for review. We tested it on some of our homeschooling buddies: a group of elementary kids!
Eye Can Art is for homeschooling parents who need some inspiration, direction, and supplies in order to enjoy art with their kids. Eye Can kits are literally in an oatmeal-box sized can with all the supplies needed for one homeschooler to complete a several projects (or several homeschoolers to do one project)- all the way down to the scissors! It is adaptable for elementary through high school abilities.
Our Eye Can Art project was Amate Cut Paper Kit. The instruction book told about the Otomi Indian tribe of Mexico (so the kids get a little geography while they are at it). This is an accessible project involving symmetry and cutting. The kids produced some cool pictures in a one-hour class.
The mom in charge of the group said the girls loved the project and would like to do more. The lone boy in the group simply responded, "I'm actually into drawing, myself." So we weren't totally sure where he stood on this (or any other) project
Our mom friend said that she would have liked a little more how-to's but that they did just fine; and the symmetry paper for the kids to practice on had to be photocopied for the group.
The project helped her homeschoolers wrap up their study of Mexico with an attractive project.
This year I am again team-teaching a Praise Band Class for homeschoolers in our area. We have 16 kids signed up for the class...that's a lot of musicians! I've noticed something about our class that is interesting.
The hardest thing for our fledgling Praise Band to do is to be quiet.
When our multiple pianists, keyboard players, guitarists, bass players, drummer, violinist, flautist, and singers take the stage, they immediately start playing and singing....and they are all playing and singing different songs at the same time!
We've made it one of our class responsibilities to STOP playing when you are not supposed to be playing.
Sometimes our own homeschools are so focused on our own child's gifts, needs, interests and challenges that we have trouble teaching the social skills necessary for working effectively as a team.
Why is teamwork so important?
Teamwork is preparation for life in society in general, but more specifically in the body of Christ.
If one pianist, who plays beautifully, always begins playing the song that is in his heart when he sits down at the keyboard, he may sound just lovely. But what if the guitarist also has a song in his heart at that moment....is his song less important?
By requiring participation in teamwork situations we help our kids practice the skills of:
* observing those around them
* valuing the needs and feelings of others
* taking turns (on the grown-up level, where no one is requiring a specific rotation of turns)
I am a big believer in the importance of fine arts, but I am an even bigger believer in the importance of learning to work as a team.
QUESTION: What teamwork situations have you found beneficial for your homeschooler?
Here are some of my favorite resources for drama.
(This is not a sponsored post. We just like to share resources that have been favorites in our homeschools from time to time.)
A really fun way to introduce drama into your homeschool fine arts plan is to form a class or club with other homeschoolers and work on producing individual monologues and scenes rather than starting with a production of a play.
When I have done this in the past, I have preferred to meet weekly, but you could meet bi-weekly instead if your schedule doesn't permit more than that. Meeting only once a month means you lose a lot of the momentum of your developing actors; it's better than nothing, but I wouldn't recommend a once-a-month format.
Here are some of my favorite resources for finding material. Please note that many of the scenes and monologues contained in these collections would NOT be appropriate due to offensive or age-inappropriate material, but the collection overall contains enough good material to make it worth my dollar.
- Scenes for Young Actors edited by Lorraine Cohen
- Play the Scene and
- The Actor's Scenebook, both edited by Michael Schulman and Eva Mekler
- Neil Simon Monologues and Neil Simon Scenesedited by Roger Karshner
- The Actor's Book of Contemporary Stage Monologues edited by Nina Shengold
My favorite resource is my own A Successful Approach to Teaching Acting and Directing. It takes you step-by-step through the techniques I've found to be successful in creating drama with homeschoolers.
Foundational goals to set for young actors include the following:
- Projection -- Clear, loud speech
- Character research and development
- Non-verbal communication -- body language and posture on stage
(Be careful not to violate copyright/royalty law by charging admission to your show; as long as you perform without selling tickets, you are using the material in fair use percentages of the whole, and it is solely for educational purposes. If you sell tickets, you are in violation of the law, even though you are not performing the work in its entirety.)
Have you downloaded the white paper, "Why Drama is Important in Your Homeschool"? Click here to get it today!
Now that we are past the half-way mark, wouldn't it be fun to start thinking about NEXT year???
Explore the EBookstore for lots of ideas as you begin to plan for your next year of homeschooling.
Don't forget to comment here for a chance to win See the Light Art Class DVD Vol. 1. Winner will be chosen Sunday 3/17/13 at midnight!
See the Light Art Class DVD #1.
Some things are hard for a homeschool mom like me to teach- like fine arts. I love them in every form (drawing, music, drama) but the gift passed me by.
Fortunately there are some usuable-for-non-artist-homeschool-mom curricula out there. Here are some I recommend. (BTW- this is not a sponsored post.)
I love this one! Using simple drawing activities, it teaches kids to think from the creative side of their brain. It is not a theory book- it is a let's-get-creative book.
My daughter, who got her BA in Photography and Art liked this book so well that she has incorporated it into the work she does now as an art instructor.
Learning how to think creatively is a very important life skill- it is useful in writing, inventing, and problem-solving.
This is another curriculum I love. We used it in co-op as part of our world history lessons. Barry Stebbing takes homeschoolers through art history and gives them hands-on lessons so that they can experience the types of art and ideas from each time period. I loved the projects he assigned.
The program came with cards that had good pictures of the type of art being studied.
I really appreciated being able to key in art with history.
I felt my artistic kids needed some art theory when they hit high school. Not knowing any theory, I wanted someone to teach that for me.
Lifepacs does that.
Not that my kids enjoyed this. They didn't like the lessons, they felt they were uncreative, technical, and boring.
However, they got theory in. (And it didn't kill their love of art, just got them irritated with me.)
I am glad there is good homeschool curricula out there for our kids to get some experience in the world of art.
What do you use to teach your kids art?
While we're on the subject of fine arts, don't forget to download the FREE Christmas Play script from Sabrina (and watch for the launching of our drama department in January)!
Whether we homeschool moms feel creative or not,
We can teach our kids to be creative-
And to have fun. With drama, Sabrina Justison's Introduction to Directingis a great start and it is free!
Producing a play is loads of fun!
It's also a big commitment, and sometimes homeschoolers in your community or even your own children would benefit from involvement in drama at a time when there is no director/producer available to mount a full-scale production of a play.
Here are some ideas for giving student actors opportunity to perform even if there's just no way to do a play right now:
1. Prepare "An Evening of Monologues and Cuttings." There are loads of books available created for actors who need a personal mini-library for auditions or classroom work. Find an appropriate monologue or two for each actor, study a bit about the background of the piece, and prepare for a low-key, living room performance.
Watching performances of your monologue by other actors is easy in the day of YouTube, so you can get lots of ideas on how to present the piece. If you try this with a co-op, you'll have enough performance material for an event! Maybe combine it with a potluck meal for the families of the actors, invite grandparents or friends, and clap as loudly as you can!
2. Organize a book club, and with the group encourage a drama option for bringing a scene from your story to life. If your students are high schoolers, or are fairly "serious" about drama, find a well-written, published adaptation -- don't subject them to a "Lame!....my mom threw it together and made us do this" script if they will feel insulted by it. Respect their feelings about the endeavor.
3. Organize a talent show in your homeschooling community. If there are only a few kids who want to act, help them find monologues or cuttings from plays (see the books mentioned in #1), and fill out the event with singers, jugglers, artists, dancers, etc.
4. Offer to teach an Acting Class for a semester in your homeschool community. You don't have to be an expert. A Successful Approach to Teaching Acting and Directing is the curriculum resource I wrote after several years of offering a class like this one in our local homeschool community.
Creating these kinds of opportunities for student actors will require much less on the part of the director -- no need for booking a stage or a church for performance; no need to pay for royalties; no need to find a whole cast; no need to do costumes for a crowd. But even using the limited parameters, the student actors themselves get to learn respected material by published playwrights, and they are limited only by themselves as they prepare a monologue for performance.
Ladies and gentlemen, please take your seats. The players have arrived!
If you are curious about producing a play, however, here is an "out-of-the-box" idea for making that happen.
"Where will we perform it? Our living room?!?"
This obstacle was in my way once upon a time as well. I wanted so much to find a way to get access to a stage and a crew for my student actors' performance. While it's true that many community theatres will rent their space, it's not a realistic option for most homeschool drama clubs, co-ops, or classes at umbrella schools. Having the space is only one piece of the puzzle (if you can afford the rental fee!); then you have to know how to work in that space, and have a crew to help you use the equipment. Theater Tech is a whole career with years of training attached to it, not something you just figure out on your own.
The old cliche says that "Necessity is the mother of invention." My pal Vicki Tillman has her own version of that idea; she says,
"Anything worth doing is worth doing POORLY until you can figure out a way to do it well!"
So 10+ years ago I had a group of kids who desperately wanted to produce a play. It became necessary to invent a venue for their performance...and if it had to be a lame venue at first, oh well! That was better than no venue at all!
We started with a platform at the front of a church sanctuary. We were allowed to move most of the musical instruments to the sides (but the drum set behind its plexiglass cage had to remain untouched, center stage). There was no curtain. There were no cool lights.
The actors and I paced off the space that was OURS to work in. We pretended that the instruments were not lining the walls. We pretended that the drums were invisible. We had a story to tell, and we were going to tell it.
Our stage was not the storyteller; our actors were.
On opening night I was amazed to find that our audience was quick to pretend along with us! We told the story of a tower that reached all the way up to heaven, and of various children who longed to climb that tower to escape their problems in the arms of the loving God at the top. As Lizzie and Paul and Randi gazed up the shining tower, I saw the eyes of the audience turn upward, too...they were drawn in! They "saw" the tower, too!
If you would love to find a way to offer a drama opportunity to your homeschoolers, don't let the lack of a traditional performance space stand in your way. Lacking a physical theater can actually be a powerful tool in teaching young actors to create the story with their own performance.
If you start planning now, you can offer a terrific Drama opportunity to your homeschoolers this summer!
You are invited to hear Sabrina talk about teaching drama to homeschoolers at Great Homeschool Conventions Midwest in Cincinnati, OH April 4-6, 2013! Join her for "The Drama Starts Here" workshop!
To get in the drama mood, let's look at the MANY ways you can get fine arts onto your homeschooler's high school transcript. (This is adapted from a post originally run two years ago.)
Most homeschooled high schoolers need to show at least one fine arts credit on their transcript. There are lots of good ways to do that.
Here are some ideas:
1) Log hours to earn a Carnegie Credit (120-135 hours according to your umbrella school or state requirements) OR
2) Work through a curriculum OR
- Umbrella school praise band
3) Take a for-credit course (with homeschool group or community college)
The 7 Sisters' kids have earned fine arts credits in lots of different areas:
-Drama(camps, classes, church and community performances) Click the link for unique 7 Sisters resources.
- Sabrina runs a yearly homeschool drama camp
-Music (choirs, lessons, bands, orchestras, theory, worship teams)
-Art (photography, drawing, painting, sculpting- theory, lessons, classes)
-Cinematography (clubs, classes, productions)
-Appreciation (attending performances, visiting museums, studying textbooks)
-Art History, Music History, Drama History (texts integrated into homeschool co-op classes)
-Media Production (video production, movies, audio recording, vlogs)
Here is a video created by Sabrina's son, Sam and my son, Ezra: Manasseh King of Judah
Transcripts look good with fine arts, but more importantly our kids have enriched lives, increased skills, (and for some- career preparation).
What are some ways your homeschoolers have done fine arts?
A study was done by Shirley Brice Heath of Stanford University to determine the effect of involvement in artistic endeavors beyond traditional school settings.
Her findings showed that children who grew up with exposure to and involvement in the arts were stronger academically, better communicators, and had a greater sense of self-worth and responsibility to their communities than children who were not involved in the arts.
As homeschoolers, we have a wonderful opportunity to encourage our children's involvement in various artistic endeavors:
- visual arts,
- design, and many more!
Here are 5 reasons to make time in your homeschool for involvement in the arts:
1. Less Fear of Failure
When children are encouraged to try various types of artistic expression at a young age, they are less likely to be afraid of "failing." If they wait until later in their developmental process, they will have a more rigid set of rules that they have created for themselves, and will be more likely to be afraid to try.
For more information on developmental stages in children, check out Vicki Tillman'sHuman Development from a Christian Worldview text.
2. A place in which to excel
Children who struggle with academics will often excel in the arts. Having this "arena for success" is a great encouragement to a child who struggles with reading or math. Children with learning difficulties like ADHD can sometimes find self-discipline more easily developed in the framework of artistic activities.
3. Parent-Child Bonding
Helping your child try out various types of artistic activities can be a great bonding point for you. Sometimes our children only see us do things that we have already mastered. If I am humble enough to try dance with my child, even though I have no experience with dance and am not very good at it, it can be very reassuring to her to see that it's okay to just give something a try, even if the result isn't very inspiring for the audience!
4. Social Skills
Shy children tend to interact better socially if the social situation is structured. It's easier for a shy student to speak up in a group if the purpose of that gathering is a drama club meeting, and everyone has a line or two to recite. I have directed Drama Camps (one-week intensives for student actors) for over a decade, and I have seen so many children blossom in the area of social confidence when they have a small role in our play.
For more on How To Direct a Homeschool Drama Camp, click here.
Kids who aren't confident as athletes can still enjoy the benefits of physical activity and a sense of being part of a team. Dance is particularly great for the physical activity part, but drama and music are great ways to be part of a team, too. A child who likes drawing or painting can participate in creating a group mural with an art club. A very little effort on the part of mom or dad to start a group for kids with similar interests can go a long way in making great memories and encouraging a lifetime of creative expression in a child!
How can you incorporate Fine Arts into your homeschool?
Are you or your kids interested in Drama?
Check out our Drama Resources for Homeschoolers, including the script for The Search for the Solution, a play that debuted in 2007 with the homeschool cast in this picture.
Now is the time to start planning a Drama Camp or Club for the summer!
This is a classic post. Although I wrote about these life lessons two years ago, they still hold true now as I am working with yet another group of student musicians in our homeschool day-school.
As I write this post, I'm sitting in the sound booth at church, monitoring the board while our homeschool student praise band practices for their "Praise and Raise" benefit concert tomorrow night. Five student musicians and singers of varying degrees of experience are working with their dedicated dad-leader to get ready for their big concert.
It's been a real learning experience for me to sit in the back of the room over the last several months watching them learn to work together to make a joyful noise unto the Lord.
Here are some of the lessons:
* It's okay to make mistakes in front of other people. It's actually easier for us to love each other when we are not feeling intimidated. If everybody messes up sometimes, we are all allowed to be human together.
* Stay tight on your microphone if you are singing lead. When everyone is taking turns being in charge, and it's your turn, don't shrink back. If you do, everyone has a harder time because the rest of us are trying to follow your lead. If God puts you up front for a season, go with it.
* Listen to the bass; it's the foundation for most of the rest of the instruments. For us as believers, the Word of God is the bass. The pulse that it provides sets us in the right key, keeps us together, and gives us a groove to rock to.
* Put musicians of varied experience together. The younger ones will learn very quickly by working with more mature players. The older musicians will learn patience and grace working with the less-experienced and confident folks.
* Don't forget to laugh. Just because you are working hard for the kingdom of God that doesn't mean it can't be a ton of fun, too. The joy of the Lord is strength, and a merry heart doeth good like a medicine. Especially when things don't go quite the way we intended them to, laugh and rock on!
Including the arts in your homeschool is so important.
Have you seen our Drama resources?
Click to view curriculum, plays, and FREE how-to's!
is a new band with a new release, and we are pretty excited about it at 7 Sisters because two of the band members are 7SistersHomsechool.com kids. Jake Taylor White is my homeschool-grad son, and Seth Tillman is Vicki's homeschool junior. Along with James Mears and Mark Viggiano (also homeschool high-schoolers), they make up this new indie band producing original alternative music with soul-searching lyrics.
Scratch Notes is In Retrospect's first full-length studio album. At Christmastime they released 3 holiday offerings as a free EP through their Facebook page (you can still enjoy that "Christmas with In Retrospect" free EP now if you'd like a little taste of what they sound like).
There is a diversity of musical styles evident on the 12-track album. You can hear the influence of musicians who have inspired the guys, but there are also reggae rhythms, flickers of techno-synth music, a flavor of Israeli folk dances, and soaring bits of old hymns ringing over the lead singer's lyrics, all driven by their solid rock sound.
In Retrospect writes their songs cooperatively. Lyrics touch on the need for real relationship with God instead of hollow religious behaviors, the futility of life in our own strength, the everything-changing grace of God, and more. Songs like Ravenhill, with its Queen-sized anthem finish, and What Feels Safe, with its driving chorus of "Hallelu, hallelu amen" challenge us to examine what we believe and stand up against the lies that will cripple our life in Christ. Vaguely reminiscent of the early Beatles, Turnaround is an upbeat call to turn around and find that we're standing on the solid rock, while the equally uplifting Hope for Rain uses synthesizer to brightly encourage us to wait expectantly for the changes we need in our lives.
The guys love complex music. The chord progression in Vital Signs makes it no easy song to sing, but they stay true to every interval, and when they shift into the blues-heavy "I've got no strength" riff near the end of the song, Jake gets to use his powerful voice at its best. Seth's haunting lead vocal in Conversations , James' driving bass in All is Blindness, and Mark's passionate and precise drumming in Brought to Nothing demonstrate the diversity of musical gifts God has given these young men.
Am I bit predisposed to like In Restrospect? Unashamedly, yes! But regardless of the personal connection I have with the band, Scratch Notes is a solid first effort album from a young band with a lot of talent and a tremendous work ethic. From their early morning practices on Saturdays to their determination to write cooperatively rather than competing with each other's ideas, from their passion to seek truth in their own lives as followers of Christ, to their hunger to share that truth-seeking passion with others through their music, they have shown that they deserve a moment of your time. Take a listen.
Around our area, there is a requirement for high school graduation called Career Pathways. Career Pathways is simply ed-speak for: courses that help your teen explore and prepare for his/her future career.
My #4 kid was interested in filmmaking, so we developed experiences for his Career Pathways in that area. Here is our classic post on how we did Homeschool Filmmaking credit:
Homeschool high schoolers need to do some faithful Career Exploration. They need to understand that God has a plan for each of them.
A good Career Exploration curriculum should help them understand how to seek His will, gain wisdom from their experiences, respect the gifts God has placed in them, and solidify their values.
When you download the Career Exploration e-text that I wrote for our local homeschoolers and have been using with my own kids and our local homeschoolers for a number of years, you will give your high schooler a good taste of all those important things.
Another important part of Career Exploration is rich experiences. One of our favorite rich experiences was with Filmmaking:
When kid #4 was in high school, the Lord of
the Rings trilogy reigned in the movie theaters.
Being a big Tolkien fan anyway, Ezra was hooked on the movies and soon wanted to be a filmmaker himself. He was quickly joined by a slew of his friends. So, being good homeschool moms, we started a homeschool cinematography club.
Also, being good homeschool moms, we wanted to show the hard work the homeschool high schoolers were going to put into cinematography on their transcripts.
How to do it?
1) Base the credit on a Carnegie Unit (traditionally that is 120 hours of study, but we aimed for 135 hours per credit). You simply log the time your high schooler spends studying filmmaking, attending meetings, and producing short films.
2) Find a happy curriculum to work on together
3) Find good cinematography examples
Each month we viewed great movie scene clips (chosen for camera work, dialogue, acting, etc) suggested by the students or moms.
4) Study extra material on dvds
Many movies (The Lord of the Rings was great at this) have terrific extra material that gives a behind the scenes look at how scripts are written, camerawork is done, crews work together.
5) Give out assignments
Each month, we broke the kids into teams, gave them a Bible story to script, film and edit. The kids filmed on their own inexpensive video cameras and edited on their Movie Maker programs. Simple but good for learning.
6) Have a yearly film festival
Each spring, the kids had their own film festival and invited the local homeschool support group to come. We had a panel of judges that voted on numerous categories- a number of awards were given. (These awards looked GREAT on their transcripts!)
7) Go to a "real" film festival if you can
Of course, we were not going to subject our kids to some of the local film festivals (not good morals going on there), but several times we all saved up and flew out to the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival.
Filmmaking was my son's great passion. He ended up with several credits on his homeschool high school transcript. Then he went on to study it at college. His skills have been a great asset in many of his classes at Lancaster Bible College- many of his projects for courses are doing in video form.
Here is the latest project from Ezra and Sam: Manasseh, King of Judah.
and one they did in high school (for our umbrella school's ballroom dance classes):