I have blogged before about Shapeways, a great site where you can order 3D models of items you have created. My kids love to see their ideas come to life with 3D printing. Last week Tru worked on a new character, Thor, and we received it in the mail today. He was not disappointed with his creation, and it is now sitting on his shelf with the rest of his Shapeways.


If you are looking for a unique gift for your children for the holidays, you may want to check out 3D printing. Transforming your kids ideas into a physical object makes a wonderful and unique present!






Outdoor Sketching

Decca is studying Monet and Impressionism right now, so I decided to take him outside to do some sketching. Tru decided to tag along with us, and so I loaded the boys up with their paper and water-color pencils. I grabbed Kingsley (we can’t ever leave him behind), and off we went.

We walked for a while trying to find the perfect scene to sketch. Every time I suggested something one of the boys would object. Apparently my ideas, such as a grassy field or wildflowers, were not what they had in mind. They finally agreed to sketch this wonderful area (yes I am being sarcastic).

Apparently something about the rocks and dead grass attracted them to this. Not to be one to judge, especially if it is a creative difference of opinion, we stopped, and the boys began to sketch. I thought they would get bored with this fairly quickly, but to my surprise, they worked on their drawings for almost twenty minutes.

Sketching outdoors is a great way to spend a day. Decca, who usually has very little patience, enjoyed it the most. I am going to try to carve time into our days for sketching/drawing/painting  “en plein aire”.

It made for a great day.

Art-Based Education

I am often asked, as most homeschoolers are, what educational model do I follow. Are we classical homeschoolers? Do we follow a Charlotte Mason approach? Are we unschoolers? I usually reply that we are eclectic homeschoolers, as I have my children use a variety of educational materials, and we seem to take the best from different approaches.

Decca working on a picture.

However, as I think about my philosophy, which I have been doing lately, I realize that I do have my own beliefs about education. As I look back on our homeschool journey I am able to see that two main forces have driven it. These forces are a very strong belief in the need to expose children to the arts and to have them grow up in nature. It is the first focus that I want to talk about today.

At their first Jeff Soto art show, age 7

Tru at an art show of his hero, Jeff Soto, age 10











I have tried to immerse and expose my children to a variety of arts in hoping that it will have a profound impact on them as they grow up. I have accomplished this in three ways.

The twins at an art show. They love their grandmother's work.

1. Exposure – From the time my children where toddlers I have made a conscious effort to expose them to as much art as possible. This includes art shows, museums, plays, films and music concerts.

Decca, age 3, at one of the many concerts he attended at a young age

2. Experience – Classes, private lessons, and workshops. Any experience they could get, in a variety of arts, I was open to. The kids have worked on many projects with my mom, who is an artist, along with a host of other classes. They all play an instrument.

Decca rehearsing for a recital.

The twins working on a found object sculpture at 5.

3. Appreciation & History – The history of music, film, and art is studied often. I try to expose the children to not only classical music but music of all sorts. They watch the typical Disney films and also foreign and classic films. They study the typical artists and modern artists as well. I want them exposed to as many different forms, styles, and movements as possible. My ultimate goal with all of this is for them to know that artists can express themselves in many different ways.

Taking time to watch the early Disney shorts at Disneyland.

All of this leads to self-expression, which my children are great at (as all children are). When they were younger this would bother me quite a bit as the amount of crafts, projects, and drawings they would do was quite overwhelming.  I have come to realize though that self-expression is a good thing, and I try to nurture it as much as possible.

A recent drawing of Autry's

What that means is that my kids go through paper and art supplies at an alarming rate. They are always filming a movie of one kind or another, and  they are always listening to music of all sorts. In addition we spend a good deal of our day driving from one activity to another. It can be quite exhausting, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Setting up equipment for a film shoot

Spending a day at the studio with my mom

In Grandma's studio

In Grandma's studio

My mom is a painter, and the kids love to paint with her, especially at her studio. Today we spent a few hours with her, and the kids worked on their sketchbooks. The sketchbook project is a great project for the whole family. You sign up on their website and pay for a sketchbook. They send you your sketchbook and a theme. You fill them in and send them back. Then they are grouped by theme and exhibited in different parts of the county. It is a great project to work on for everyone.

the sketchbook

the sketchbook

Tru working in his sketchbook.

Tru working in his sketchbook.

Autry working in her sketchbook.

Autry working in her sketchbook.

Decca forgot his sketchbook, so he painted. I think he preferred painting anyway.

Grandma helping Decca paint.

Grandma helping Decca paint.