Need Some Inspiration: Try An Idea Portfolio

Make an Idea Portfolio for Drawing

Moms, this is an easy project to do while you watch a movie or sit in the car waiting at a music lesson. Just grab a magazine or two, rip out the images you are interested in, and then categorize them. I always went through the magazines before I recycled them and pulled out the images and then filed them away for future use.

I found that over the years it is easy to make an idea portfolio as you go about your everyday activities. These ideas can be used for drawings or paintings when you need something to get you started.
Some of our best ideas come from magazines. I subscribe to National Wildlife magazine and that is always full of photographs of animals of all kinds. I look for photos that might interest my boys in their artwork and if I find something that I think will work, I rip it out and put it in my idea portfolio.
You need to take the stack of ripped out pages and as soon as possible, file them in the expanding file
or you will have a huge pile sitting around cluttering up your workspace. This is a great project for your children to do on a cold winter day. We always get inspired while doing this project and the art supplies will immediately come out. I label the pockets of the expanding file with categories (see the list below).
More inspiration can be found in calendars of all kinds. I try to pick up a few calendars when they go on clearance to put with our art supplies. I look for ones with landscapes, paintings from famous artists, animals, still-lifes, or flowers. They can be used as inspiration when your child can not think of something to draw or paint.

Magazines: Birds and Blooms, Sunset magazine, Ranger Rick, Country Living. I always let relatives know that we would welcome old magazines.

Greeting cards are a great source of ideas. I try to save cards that the boys or I might like to use as a basic idea in our artwork. This idea is suggested in Mona Brooke’s Drawing with Children book.

I use an accordion type file to store all the pages that I have collected. I try to categorize them by subject so it is easier when the boys are looking for a specific theme for their drawings.

Some categories for your art portfolio files:

  • Animals with fur: cats, dogs, horses, bears, etc
  • Animals with texture: elephants, reptiles, etc.
  • Birds
  • Flowers
  • Trees
  • Buildings
  • Seasons: Spring, summer, fall, and winter
  • Water
  • Clouds
  • Mountains
  • Still Life
  • People: children, adults, groups
  • Historical
  • Boats

Your children need good ideas to spark their own creativity. A steady diet of worthy inspiration is worth the time it takes to put the idea portfolio together.

The Easy Spanish!-Charlotte Mason Spanish?

We are just about ready to finish The Easy Spanish or El Espanol Facil! Level I.
I don’t remember where I found the link in the first place but what attracted me to the program was that it described itself as using Charlotte Mason’s ideas for teaching.

I was interested at that point because we had tried a more textbook approach and we started using Rosetta Stone Spanish and neither of those options felt like it was a good fit all by itself.

I pulled up the website and watched the introductory video that is on the front page of the Spanish explanation. It seemed like something we could use in our family so I ordered the Spanish program. I received a spiral bound textbook with two audio CDs.

The textbook is arranged in lessons with corresponding lessons on the CD. The textbook is very well organized so my teenagers can work independently and have their own level of activities. I can see how this program would work with younger students as well. The lessons are written on multiple levels so this plan could be used in a family with children in different grade levels. Their website suggests that with younger children you work through the lessons at a slower pace and take 2-3 years to complete this level. Older students (teens) she suggests 1-2 years depending on how much time each week you take for Spanish.

Each lesson starts with a story that weaves English and Spanish together. You can read it in the text and listen along with the CD. After the story, the CD pronounces the vocabulary and leaves time for your child to respond. There is always a follow-up activity and there is always a time during the week when your child will narrate back in Spanish the general idea of the story from the lesson. There is a special notebook activity that is really a year-long project to have the child tell all about themself in Spanish. All the notebook pages are included. The program includes scripture memorization as part of each lesson. Most lessons have cultural notes that teach deeper about the culture presented in the story. Geography is also a part of this Spanish program.

If your children are older, there is a specific part of the lesson for independent learners. My boys have been working with these assignments all year and I think it has helped them progress more than anything else. The high school age child is also encouraged to start a journal in Spanish. This was difficult at first but as you build vocabulary, it gets easier.

One of the CDs also contains Spanish songs to sing along with the lessons.

The student is given a weekly assignment sheet where he can check off each particular aspect of the lesson each day. I found this to be a great tool for me to use with my boys, helping them to become more independent.

Link to a sample lesson on their website
Lesson Two
Table of Contents

I highly recommend that you go to their homepage and watch the introductory video. I found it very helpful to understand just what was included in the program and an overview of how it words.
The Easy Spanish -Video

So, of all the Spanish programs we have tried so far, this is the best I have found as far as learning practical vocabulary and encouraging the boys to actually have conversations. Using the independent, CM, and journal activities has helped them with their vocabulary and verb work.

Our Spanish course is a combination of The Easy Spanish! and Rosetta Stone Spanish at this point in time. We use The Easy Spanish! everyday of the week, about twenty minutes per day. Rosetta Stone assignments are usually three days a week, 15-20 minutes a day. We have a wonderful notebook of Spanish materials and resources after using The Easy Spanish!

Here are some examples of our notebook pages.

This is an example of my youngest child’s journal work with vocabulary from the lesson.

Here is a collage that my son made after learning about Mexico City.

If you are looking for a Spanish program for your family and you want it to have a Charlotte Mason flair, this program is worth looking into.

Barb-Harmony Art Mom

A Rocky Start to Homeschooling, Then I Found the Path

Makita has posted her current edition of her Friday Freebie. When and how did you start homeschooling?

Here is my entry:
As much as I would like to say that I always felt convicted to homeschool and that my children never went to public school, it would not be the truth. Thinking back to almost 18 years ago when my oldest child was starting kindergarten, I looked into homeschooling but at that time there just wasn’t the supportive community that there is now. I knew we would feel isolated and in those years *before* the internet, homeschooling sounded sort of like pioneering. I really did not have the guts to start.

So off to kindergarten at a private Montessori school she went and she stayed there until second grade. The transition to public school in third grade was horrible. Her teacher did not have control of the class and my daughter sat and read the Little House on the Prairie books for most of the year…….there just was not a lick of challenge for her. By this time I had my second child in the same school in first grade and his teacher pulled me aside and said that I needed to get him out of the school and do something else with him because he was bored out of his mind. The principal had forbidden his teacher from offering any sort of reading to him until after Christmas…..which was months away. (He was a fluent reader in K.) We decided to pull him and put him in private school because I was very pregnant with our third at this point.

Long story short, we muddled through the next two years and then when I had given birth to our fourth child, I announced that enough was enough and I was going to teach them all at home, no matter how hard it was. I was tired of seeing my children wither in public schoolrooms. I was tired of dealing with teachers. I was tired of fund raisers. I longed for some passion in their learning. I craved time with my children and I think they were longing for something that was missing in their lives too. I have shared before on this blog that I was raised to be a career girl so for me to admit that I had a heart filled with desire to be at home, with all four children, and take their education on as a responsibility was a full circle from where I started out.

This was my challenge when I started homeschooling….they were 10, 8, 2, and less than a year old. I had no idea how it was going to go once we started. I just knew it was what had to be done. I prayed a lot for strength and guidance.

Our community had evolved a little as far as homeschooling at this point and we found a charter home study group that offered elective classes as well as a library of books and materials. It was enough to satisfy me that I would be able to homeschool the older two with a little help. I was grateful for the charter at that point since it gave me confidence to homeschool and know that I was not going to “mess up”.

After the first year, I was hooked up to the internet and had ordered a bunch of homeschooling catalogs. This was the major turning point for us. I had my eyes opened to the possibilities and it was a homeschooling wonderland of ideas, resources, and online support. I was now on my way and I had wings.

Eventually I had three homeschooling at one time…eighth grade, sixth grade, and kindergarten and one of preschool age. It was soooooo crazy but wonderful at the same time. I look back at those years fondly and it was sort of like running a one room schoolhouse. Everyone was busy and even the youngest wanted to “do school”.

My oldest opted to go to public high school to fulfill her dream of marching in the marching band…playing the flute. I was reluctant but willing to give it a try. She is an excellent student and I told her when she started ninth grade that if I saw any behavior issues or slacking in academics that she would be pulled back home. She thrived at school and had a very good experience. (I feel like I am betraying the homeschooling community by admitting that but it is the truth, it was the best for this particular child. Some things I can not offer at home.)

My oldest son wanted to try high school too but he didn’t like it so much and he endured two years and then begged to come home. I was so very happy to have him home again and we had some good times during those last two years of high school.

My middle son went to two months of kindergarten. He begged and begged to go on the schoolbus and for some reason we said okay. It was a disaster. He was home before Thanksgiving and has never looked back. He is my “busy” child and he was being squashed in public school by the system. I was ecstatic when he came home again….he is now in tenth grade and we have a fantastic relationship.

My youngest never stepped foot in public school. He is my artistic, musical child and now he is becoming a fantastic writer. All of these things wouldn’t be happening if he were in public school. He can spend hours drawing, playing his violin, and writing stories each day and we can call it school. He reads and breathes….like me.

Relationships. It is all about relationships. This is not the reason we started homeschooling but it is now the reason we keep going. We are a part of their lives. They are still happy to be a part of ours. All four children have fantastic relationships and spend oodles of time together both at home and out with their various friends.

We travel far and wide and spend time on family projects. We dream together and scheme together and it has been so worth every trial and heartache. I had a wise friend say that she sometimes cries at night because of the sheer responsibility of homeschooling but those tears are dry in the morning and when the sun rises it is a new day.

I remember those words on a bad day. The sun always rises the next day and all the fears fall away. I have the added luxury of seeing the fruits before I am finished.

As my years of homeschooling draw to a close, I wonder what the next chapter will be in my life. I pray about that a lot. I know that I never planned to homeschool or there was never any single event or reason for starting but the list of reasons why is getting longer as time goes by. I actually typed up a list for a friend who was contemplating homeschooling and asked me why I decided to homeschool….five pages long it was. Shesh! Aren’t you glad I didn’t share that list!

I would have never found my passions if it had not been for homeschooling. I can almost guarantee that if you homeschool long enough you will become a self-educator. You will rekindle your interest in learning new things and learn alongside your children. I don’t often tell others that as a reason for becoming a homeschooling family but it is a huge part of why we are still doing it after all these years. We are able to indulge our children’s passions and teach them to be self-educated too.

Barb-Harmony Art Mom

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