Tag Archives: Teaching

Homeschooling in France

I apologize for my scarcity. I have several posts I would like to blog, but I’ve struggled with making the time. You see, I may not have a work visa like my husband, but I am still working; I am homeschooling my teenage son. Yes, this is pretty much a full-time job, and we have added to it my little French classes at the marie, and a church retreat last weekend. So my apologies, but I will probably be a little erratic.

Our homeschool nook, which hosts current school curriculum and my son’s crib blanket. Hey, some things you just don’t let go of.

I am not new to homeschooling. Most of my children have been homeschooled some or most of their school careers, although I haven’t done so for four years. I am comfortable, confident, and know from my older kids that our curriculum choices work. I also use an umbrella for administration from junior high and up, so my son is under an umbrella here. We are studying world history, and I have some pretty awesome hands-on field trips planned to places world history actually happened.

Our first will be at the end of this month, to a spot in Spain where the first Greek settlement of Gaul was founded, then built over by a Roman garrison, followed eventually by a medieval Catalan city. You can find a virtual visit here, but the day we go will also have a Roman re-enactor to bring the Roman landing alive. The fact that some great tourist beaches are also near has not gone unnoticed. I love teaching world history!

Ancient Egypt come to life, soon to be recorded in Power Point. By the way, NOT a fan of French glue. The stick glue is American, and not great either. They don’t like you flying with bottles of glue.

There are, of course, special hoops to jump through in a foreign country. I have submitted my letter of intent, as required by law. Today I got a phone call (they were able to scrounge up a sort of English speaker) asking for clarification of Theo’s birthday. I was told to expect a letter from the department of education, as his education would need to be “controlled.” I am confident this is a translation issue, and they mean something more like monitored, because most homeschoolers here I’ve talked to haven’t had too much trouble. I am definitely praying for favor in the eyes of the inspector, though!

Next year, after touring Europe through the eyes of history, we’ll enroll our son in the International School here, but until then, I am grateful for a year of discovery together!


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Filed under Education, family

Wishing for a Do-Over

At the end of the year, my school third through sixth graders made pendants to give a mom or grandmom. I showed examples of pendants. We talked about the variety of shapes pendants come in, and designs that would be pleasing to moms. Then I took them in to their ball of clay and let them create a pendant.

Some of my younger students invested thought and creativity, and got some cool results. Most of my older students did, too. Some of my photos didn’t turn out so well, unfortunately.

amanda in third grade

third grader julia (the camera glare keeps the detail and the texture of the flower from showing, unfortunately)

a fourth grade girl’s, but I didn’t mark which one.

sixth grade erica’s

fifth grader dresden

fifth grade carter’s leaf

These were the good ones. The rest pretty much had words scratched into them. If it hadn’t been so late in the year, I could have sent them back for a do-over right then, but we had a deadline to make: Mother’s Day Tea. So if I do this lesson again, I won’t leave it so open-ended. These creative offerings don’t quite make up for the others. I would probably require a flower, show some techniques that could be used in creating a flower, and then let them form their pendant within those parameters. Sometimes kids NEED more structure to help them rise to the level of their capability, and this was apparently one of those occasions.

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Filed under Art, Fifth/Sixth Grade, Teaching, Third/Fourth Grade

Teaching as an Avenue for Continuing Education

I don’t know about other art teachers, but sometimes, I am learning something new right along with my students. Lino printing (most printing, really) qualifies as new for me. I always try to warn my students when we are learning something new together, but rarely do I get through a new lesson feeling like I need a lot more work on that. Feeling like, “Hey, can I get a do-over?” Not that our lessons always turn out spectacularly, because I am often surprised in the midst of a lesson, or take note of something I will do differently with the next group, or the next time I teach this lesson. But I don’t often feel unsatisfied myself, feeling like I am missing some things about this. Printing does that to me, though. Yet, I felt like printing was the best, coolest introduction to Japanese art that I could offer my older students.

So I will call these our first passes at lino printing. And I probably won’t try this in a class that includes third graders again.

a turtle, by a 5th grade student

this sixth grade student learned there is no erasing a lino cut, but awesome cross

a flying heart by a fourth grader

a fourth graders tulip in honor of tulip days

a third grader's baseball

a third grader inspired by Mount Fuji

I definitely see me spending more time working on this over the summer. Until it’s easy for me, it can’t become easy for my students.

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Filed under Art, Fifth/Sixth Grade, Teaching, Third/Fourth Grade

The Age of Brain Fog

True confessions: I am so glad my art classes stop at 6th grade now. Something just happens around 12 or 13 to kids that appears to others around them as if huge segments of their neural networks have been posted “road closed.” Sometimes there are detours that leave bystanders scratching their heads in wonder and confusion, and sometimes it seems as if traffic has shut down altogether.

My youngest son is, well, over 12 and a half. He isn’t much for sticking to the well-worn path when his neural network is a beehive of smoothly operating roads. But now… let’s just say he isn’t always tracking with me. And guess what? He is one of my art students! He has created a number of fun art pieces for me, mostly as my student, and often only loosely guided by the project goals. (Some kids are just scouts, you know?) One of them is currently in the Gathering of the Talents in Nebraska, waiting to see if the judges there are as excited by it as they were the one I sent for him last year. But sometimes his unique spin on a project is more the result of working while “road closed.”

Remember the student brush art roosters? From a reference photo? My son was zoned for the description of brush art capturing the idea of the subject, lines suggesting wings and tail feathers. He seemed to pay attention as we walked through an observation of our subject together, yet he ended up asking me and his neighbors, “What am I supposed to do? I don’t get it. What am I painting?” He didn’t even follow what his fellow students tried to tell him. And this is his brush art rooster:

Essence of Rooster

Honestly, I love this rooster. I love how he blends color into color, yet maintains control of his overall figure. He still has no idea what we are looking for in a sample of this era of brush art, but he has so little fear of any medium. He rarely likes his own artwork, and I rarely see anything to dislike. I wish I could get more out of him.

His fellow 6th grader:

Definitely strutting his stuff.

Two views, one chicken.

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Filed under Art, Fifth/Sixth Grade, Teaching

Introducing China…

Most of my classes are in the middle of a big unit on Chinese brush art. We are taking our time, focusing on not only craftsmanship, but also trying to get the hang of all-new tools and techniques. Third through sixth grades have been learning a few of the most basic calligraphy strokes, and have used them to create a bamboo background. The next step will be adding calligraphy characters for a fruit of the spirit to this background. I am considering letting them put it on clear paper and choosing a “best” to overlay on their background. Some bamboo examples:


I have been very pleased with how the students are catching on to the use of the new techniques and handhold for the bamboo brushes, with the watercolor, to achieve changes in value in their bamboo.


This student seems to have a natural feel for Asian art! Perhaps it is her name: Asia!

First and second grades started at the end, with their chops. I decided to use non-drying modeling clay for students to carve out their chops. I knew this would be a bit of a challenge for the younger students, since it requires envisioning the negative space and removing that, leaving a positive image. It was even harder than I expected. Most of my students have a chop now, though! I wish I could have afforded Sculpley clay, though, because it would be nice to be able to bake the finished product into something a little more durable. Enough use of the softly modeled chop wears it down in the less gentle printers. Some first and second grade chops:

This student managed the backward image to get a positive letter after a couple of tries!

Simple is often best!

Some letters don't have to be reversed, of course.

a die! Great, simple idea!

I really look forward to seeing how all the students projects turn out!

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Filed under Art, Teaching