Feb 112017

Disclosure: I received Thin Stix by Kwik Stix to review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

The Reality of Art Projects

“Mommy, can we paint?”

In my head –  “Ugh.  Not paint. I will have to find newspaper for the table. And where did I put those shirts we were using for smocks? And then there’s the wet paint on everyone’s hands.”

What I say –  “Wouldn’t you rather play outside? Or color with crayons?”

“No, we want to paint.”

In my head – “I really should let them. Kids should be allowed to experiment with different art media. It’s ok if they make a mess. If they were in school, I bet they’d have more chances to paint.”

“OK, Give me a few minutes to get everything set up.”

15 minutes later…

“Everything’s ready. You can paint now.”

5 minutes later…

“Thanks Mommy! Do you like my picture? We’re going to play outside now.”


Art Time

Does anything about my story sound familiar? I want my kids to have fun doing art projects. I want to be a “Yes” mom. But extra work and extra mess goes against my nature. Sometimes I just say yes and deal with the mess. But other times I just say no. Not now. And that’s ok too. However, I have found a solution to those times when the kids want to paint, but I don’t want the mess..

Thin Stix by Kwik Stix

Thin stix

The solution is Kwik Stix! Kwik Stix are tempera paints in a stick. There are no brushes to clean and no liquid paint to spill. There is no need for smocks. It dries in 90 seconds so there’s no running, smearing or smudging.

I received a package of Thin Stix by Kwik Stix to review. I opened them up and gathered my review team. They immediately went to work creating a variety of pictures.

The paint goes on smoothly and evenly. The colors are vibrant and the stix are easy to use. You just twist up more when needed, like chapstick.

Is it painting? Technically, no. But it is art.

These are great for school projects like posters. It is so much easier to write letters with Thin Stix than a paint brush.

Interested in trying Kwik Stix? You can purchase at Amazon.com and select retailers such as Books A Million and Target.

Thin Stix Art Gallery

Abstract Art by Lizzie, age 10

Flower by Anna, age 16

Rainbow by Andrew, age 6

Bob and Larry by Andrew, age 6

Sunny scene by Anna, age 16


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Nov 292015

Kwik Stix Logo Christmas

I’m sure I’m not alone. I want my children to be creative and have opportunities to be artistic. But finding time to do art projects with my younger ones is tough. And letting them have free access to paint? No way.

So most of their art consists of coloring with crayons or colored pencils. I’m not saying that I feel guilty about that, but well, maybe a little.

Kwik Stix 12 packThat’s why I jumped at the chance to review the new Kwik Stix Solid Tempera Paint. It’s tempera paint without the mess. No liquid to spill. No paint brushes to clean. Sign me up!

Kwik Stix are about the size of a glue stick. They’re easy to use and dry in 90 seconds. The colors are bright and the coverage is good. While it’s not the same as painting, it does have a different feel than coloring with crayons. I think they will be especially handy for making posters for school projects.

Kwik Stix would also make great stocking stuffers. They are available directly from The Pencil Grip, Inc. and from Amazon.com. Be sure to enter the giveaway at the end of this post.

My two youngest children, Lizzie and Andrew (9 and almost 5) were very excited to try out Kwik Stix. And yes, they are wearing pajamas.


Here are their completed creations.

Kwik Stix artwork 1


Green hillside

Green hillside

Sunny day

Sunny day



***Disclosure: I received a free package of Kwik Stix in order to write this review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Jan 262015

Disclosure: Post contains affiliate links.

Missing Art?This week’s topic for the Virtual Curriculum Fair is Seeking Beauty: The Arts. Our hosts areSusan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds  and Lisa @ Golden Grasses. Even though I’ve participated in the Virtual Curriculum Fair for several years, I have never written on this topic. The simple reason is that I have never felt like I had much to share because our schedule is usually missing art.

I still don’t think that I have a lot to offer on this topic. It’s not that I don’t have good intentions. I’ve even purchased lots of fantastic resources for studying art.

On my shelves I have drawing books and curricula like:

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain

Drawing with Children

I Can Do All Things

Feed My Sheep

I honestly don’t know why I keep holding on to all those books. I guess I keep hoping that I’ll make the time to use them with my younger children. Since, my oldest son was very interested in drawing when he has younger, we also collected many other drawing books at that time. We have books at various levels on drawing animals, drawing people, drawing cartoons, drawing buildings, etc. And rather than using a curriculum regularly, what my younger kids tend to do is pull out one of those specific books and see how to draw whatever they’re interested in drawing at the moment. But if one of them expresses at interest in regular drawing lessons, I guess I’m prepared.

And while I had grand ideas of studying great artists as we were studying their time in history, that has also never happened. Once again, I do have a couple of good books on famous works of art that are child appropriate. I like the concept of a book basket. (I believe it’s from My Father’s World, though I’ve never used that curriculum). I’ve never fully implemented the book basket idea, but especially for art study, I think it’s a great idea. The idea is to have a rotating collection of books (from the library or personal shelves) that are put into a specific place (like a basket) for children to choose from during a specific time.

I also think that the concept of learning centers is a great way of studying both artists and their art or actually doing art. Here’s a pinterest board with some ideas for art center activities. Space is a factor with creating centers though, and it would be important to keep the activities in different areas updated. But it is a way that we could do art in a more child-directed way. (Because I know that relying on me to get art lessons done doesn’t work!)

Music is an area that we’ve done better at studying consistently, but only because 2 of the children take music lessons. Anna has taken violin for 5 years and William takes piano. David learned the basics of piano from me when he was younger. At that time, we couldn’t afford outside lessons, so he didn’t get as far as I would like because music lessons at home were difficult for us. Music lessons are definitely something that can be hard to fit into the budget, but they are so worth it for the child that is interested in learning. There are ways to save on lessons. For example, there may be an advanced student who would be willing to teach a beginning student. Or there may be a homeschool mom you could barter with for lessons. You could tutor math in exchange for music lessons.

Music is easier than art to incorporate into the typical day. One simple way is to have classical music playing as background music. Anna, my 15 year old, has classical music playing in her room most of the time. Another easy way to add music is to listen in the car. When you’re driving you have a captive audience.

A couple of good resources for more formal music study are –

A Young Scholar’s Guide to Composers


Another option that I’m considering for Anna is the Easy Peasy Music Appreciation course for high school. I love how it’s so clearly laid out with daily lessons. I also love that it’s free!

Hopefully you’ve found some ideas for adding a small amount of beauty into your homeschool days. I’d love to hear how you teach art or music.

Don’t miss the other posts in this week’s Virtual Curriculum Fair.

The Art of OrganizationÖor How Clutter Almost Ruined My Homeschool by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

The Shadow of Divine Perfection by Lisa @ Golden Grasses

Relaxed Homeschooling: Fine Arts in the Early Elementary Years by Brittney @ Mom’s Heart

Fine Arts {Art Appreciation, Art, Composer Study Hymn Study} for 2015 by Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses

Adding Sparkle to Home Education by Sarah @ Delivering Grace

And All the Extras by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

Teaching Art Using the Bible by Tauna @ Proverbial Homemaker

Art In Every Subject by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break

Letting Art Just Happen in Homeschool by Amy @ One Blessed Mamma

Missing Art? by Kristen H. @ Sunrise to Sunset

Do YOU Have Time for Extracurriculars? by Michele@ Family, Faith and Fridays

Fine Arts in Our Classical / Charlotte Mason Homeschool by Sharra @ The Homeschool Marm

The Science of Beauty for a Delight-Directed Daughter by Susan @ The Every Day of Education

Seeking Beauty: How we Tackle the Arts in our Homeschool by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory

Learning To Appreciate Beauty With Fine Arts Resources@ As We Walk Along the Road by Leah@ As We Walk Along the Road


Oct 012010

I have a little confession. I know next to nothing about studying art and music. Pathetically little. I’d like to remedy that, and it’s something I hope my children never say. Charlotte Mason suggests very simple ways for adding in picture study and classical music to your days. They are simple, but to someone with no knowledge at all, it’s hard to know where to start. What artist do you study? What did he paint anyway? With research, I could probably put something together. But that research just never seems to happen. And consequently neither does art and music study.

That’s why I jumped at the chance to review Harmony Fine Arts Autumn 2010 Art and Music Appreciation Plans. I should mention that even though Autumn is in the title, these plans are not seasonal and can be used at any time of the year. This e-book features plans for studying the art of Edgar Degas and the music of Sergei Prokofiev. Included are suggested paintings and musical pieces to study. Copies of the paintings themselves are included to print or view on the computer. In addition there are links to listen to the music on-line and suggested downloads.

But this e-book doesn’t just tell you what to study, it provides plans of how to study it and in what order, along with optional additional activities. There are original notebook pages for both the composer and artist studies, as well as coloring pages for several of the studied paintings. The e-book is nicely organized and is easy to navigate with internal links.

Now is where I’m tempted to sound like a cheesy infomercial. How much would you expect to pay for all of this? I’ll try to resist the urge to continue. Seriously, this book is available for $3.25! I know we all have different ideas of what we consider “expensive”, but $3.25 is a real bargain. Even if you know enough to put this all together yourself, it’s worth $3.25 to save your time. And if you’re like me and don’t want to spend a lot of money on something you’re not sure you’ll find the time to do, then this is a very small risk.

You can purchase this e-book here on the Harmony Art Mom blog. You can also view a sample of the book at the same link. If you’re interested in studying art and music appreciation with your children, I urge you to visit Harmony Art Mom and look at this and her other resources.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this e-book in order to write this review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Dec 062008

Spears Art Studio has produced a wonderful art curriculum for K-8 students.  The author is Dr. Diane S. Spears, an artist who also has an Ed.D. in Christian Education. The curriculum was specifically developed to teach children art from a Biblical World View.  It is available on a convenient CD-ROM. The CD contains

  • 35 weekly themes
  • 269 art activities
  • 137 patterns and display posters
  • Scriptural connections
  • art history connections

There is an incredible amount of material packed on this CD! It has 9 school years worth of lessons. The curriculum is organized by the months of the traditional school year, September-May. Many of the projects are seasonal. Each week there is a single theme for all the levels, but different projects for each level, K-8. In some weeks, multiple grades have the same project, but most of the time there are different projects for each grade.

This chart shows each of the weekly themes for the entire curriculum. From the chart, you can see that the year begins with Noah and the Ark of God.  This is a year-long bulletin board project that demonstrates in real time the amount of time Noah and the animals were in the ark, how long the rain lasted, how long it took for the water to recede, etc. This project is for all levels and is started in the first week of the school year. There are references in subsequent weeks to move the animals, add rain, etc.  Completing this project would help children to more fully grasp the magnitude of the flood and the impact it had on the passengers in the ark.

For each week, there is a teacher’s theme page that contains the theme, objective, scripture, recommended art history images, and a teacher inspiration section.

This is the theme page for December Week 1. As you can see, the theme for this week is The Name of Jesus. In addition to the theme page, there is one page for  each grade level showing its project for the week. For example, below is the page for the 1st grade project.

On the project page there are sections for objectives, scriptures, vocabulary, teacher prep, and materials.  Along with this, there is a motivation and focus section with ideas for teaching the students, as well as sections for instructions, and an example of a completed project. For comparison, the following is the project page for 8th grade.

Also included on the CD are materials lists, tips for teaching many different art skills, as well as essays about art and its value in education, and teaching art from a Biblical worldview.

My family has had the opportunity to try out the K-8 Christian Art Curriculum for a couple of months.  I have found the curriculum to be logically organized and thorough.  There is a great variety in the types of projects, ranging from drawing to weaving.  I appreciate the way the projects are tied to the central theme for the week, though some weeks have a more obvious connection to the theme than others.  I also like the art appreciation connections.  That is something I would be completely incapable of planning myself since I know next to nothing about art history.

I think that the design of the curriculum as it is written is more suited to classroom of students of close ages, rather than the wider age range that is more typically found in homeschools. However, it could be easily adapted to use at home.  When testing the product I had each of my children do a different project each week, so that we could see a greater number of projects in a short time.  If I weren’t preparing for a review, I would try to pick projects that were at the middle of the age range of the students and have everyone work on the same project, or for a wider age range pick at most two projects at a time.

The following samples are from October Week 2 – Color Studies Part 2.

This is the K project done by my formerly very unartistic 6-1/2 year old son.

This is the 2nd grade project drawn by my 8-1/2 year old daughter. She chose to do the 2nd grade instead of the 3rd grade project because she liked it better.

This is the 5th grade project drawn by my 10-1/2 year old son. He is my most artistically inclined child. He has studied art a lot on his own, but has had little formal instruction.

I think that the variety of projects is evident by the samples that I have shown.  It would not be repetitive or boring to use this curriculum for many years in a row, because, though the themes are repeated, the projects are widely varied, both within each week and throughout the year. The curriculum is a great value for only $39.95 (including shipping).  Also available are a High School Art Curriculum and a Beginning Calligraphy course. They are available for purchase at www.spearsartstudio.com . To read more reviews of Spears Art Studio go to the Homeschool Crew Blog.