It seems like kids always love arts and crafts, and the new trend of stone painting is super popular and so fun for all ages! What’s more–you can really elevate the crafty side of this activity and use it across all areas of learning! I was incredibly inspired when I got to read through the book Stone Painting for Kids and saw so many possibilities for homeschoolers to mesh the creative with the academic! Read on for lots of creative learning inspiration, sponsored by Dover Publications.
Included in the book are ideas like:
- Geometric shapes (teach your young kids colors and shapes!)
- Numbers (early learning and math opportunities)
- Letters (early reading, spelling, and writing opportunities)
- Faces (including fun cartoon styles that kids will love learning)
- Multi-pebble flowers
- Mushrooms (SO cute!)
- Dominoes (yes! You can make your own dominoes game!)
- Shell painting (fish, butterflies, and more!)
- Chess sets (make your own set and then learn to play!)
- Multi-pebble rabbits and other animals and people
- Words (make sentences, poetry, verses, inspiration pieces, and more!)
- Flowers (combine with your nature studies!)
- Houses and Vehicles (you can make a whole town scene and create vehicles to cruise around!)
- Memory Match game! (perfect for your young kids)
- Sky scenes (including the solar system!)
- Animals of all sorts
- Tic-Tac-Toe game
- Chalkboard paint stones
- Washi taped stones
- Math and counting game ideas
- Storytelling activities
- Spelling games
- Scenes and themes you can make
- and more!
The tons of photos of painted stones and the process to create them are wonderful, and really help you understand the steps you’ll need to take to make something similar yourself. I really like it that stone painting can be as simple as your preschooler would need it to be, but also complex enough to challenge and excite high schoolers and adults.
I spent a few enjoyable hours painting stones with the help of this book, and was delighted to see that even someone like me, that doesn’t have great original ideas for thinking something up, could replicate some of these adorable concepts and end up with a fun little treasure to enjoy!
My favorite items that I successfully made were a sleeping fox, a cute birdie, a ladybug, and a pink and purple A to give to my little granddaughter whose name starts with A.
The other thing I super loved about this book is all of the inspiration to enjoy the creative side of this process, but then use the creations in the learning process in your home. Imagine how fun it would be for your kids to paint stones with letters and numbers, and later use those to learn sounds and math! You could work together with your younger children to paint simple stones with just one color per stone, and end up with a wonderful set where you could practice sequencing! For older kids, you could make a solar system set of painted stones, or write out one word per stone from a piece of poetry or Bible verse that you’re memorizing, and enjoy putting them into the right order or creating displays. History lessons can be enhanced by painting stones with homes from different cultures and eras. Nature study can be enjoyed on a rainy or too-cold day by painting stones in ways that remind you of things you’ve seen in your nature walks! Truly, the possibilities are endless, and this book is a wonderful resource for inspiring you and helping you get started.
The author, F. Sehnaz Bac, is a stone paint artist who sells her creations on Etsy, and in this book she takes us by the hand and provides all of the basic advice on how to get started with stone painting, such as choosing stones and preparing them, what materials you can use to paint and decorate them, technique tips, and more. I appreciated that the information in the book was straightforward and to-the-point, and that the step-by-step instructions were helpful without being tedious.
I was pleased to find that art supplies I already had on hand worked great for my stone painting project! The only thing I purchased for this project was a container of craft stones from Walmart for under $5. (They had bags of sea shells available, too!) Other than that, I used the acrylic paints and the paint brushes that I shared about in this post, plus my collection of sharpie markers and a white sharpie paint marker. Easy peasy!
You can connect with Dover Publications at their website, as well as on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
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History is a tricky thing. On the one hand, we’ve got the well-known, “front burner” historical facts and figures that most of us learn growing up. But then there’s all the less-well-known aspects of history that are just as true, just as valuable, yet often hidden from most people as they learn about all the things that brought us to the place we are today.
When I started Enrichment Studies many years ago, right away I noticed the lack of women and people of color in the arts, and that put me on a path of questioning and discovery. Were there any women or non-white people creating music and art through the ages? I learned that the answer was yes! But why don’t we hear more about them? Why haven’t their contributions earned a spot in the history books? If we only look at the surface, it would be easy to think that so many things have come to us solely through the talents and innovations of white men. Indeed, due to the social structures and conquests of the past, white men have often been in the best position to create and innovate, but they are not the only ones that have. Home educators and involved, mindful parents can reclaim the fullness of history for ourselves and our children by digging deeper and learning more than just the surface level with helpful resources like the ones Tamara Shiloh has created in her Just Imagine….What If There Were No Black People In the World book series. Affiliate links are used in this post.
This book caught my attention one day, because the topic matches two we focus on at Enrichment Studies: Inventors and Scientists. I also liked it because this fits in with my desire to help bring about a broader awareness of our diverse history to the homeschool community. I have had the privilege of speaking to Mrs. Shiloh on the phone a few times, and was so excited when she agreed to have me review these books for you. She is also generously sponsoring a giveaway, so be sure to enter at the bottom of this post!
In this sweet story, a young boy named Jaxon is taken on a magical adventure, thanks to his grandmother’s necklace and his curious mind. When he asks himself one day, “What if there were no Black people in the world?” he is taken on a journey of discovery about how his everyday life would be impacted without the many inventions and scientific advancements that were created by the men and women of color that came before him. As I kept learning about these remarkable people, I was filled with gratitude for being able to learn about them, and also filled with a desire to make sure other families get to learn about this too. This isn’t just a book for Black families, although certainly people of color will want to add this delightful book to their collection. But this is a book for every family that truly values history and wants their children to grow up with a broader awareness of our collective human story, and wants to be purposeful in fostering a curious mindset and appreciation for the diversity that is woven into our everyday lives. In the book, one of the inventors says to Jaxon, “We’re your history, and history never goes away.” We have an opportunity to make sure the history and accomplishments of all people is not swept aside and hidden from our awareness, if we are willing to. Change starts at home, and every family has the power to foster greater awareness, compassion, and appreciation for our fellow humans.
In addition to the main storybook, there are three wonderful companion books in the series, so far. Jaxon’s Journal reinforces the information from the main book, while also inspiring kids to create their own journals about things they have learned. Jaxon’s Black History Coloring Book includes the many inventions and scientific advancements from the main book, plus many more. It’s a perfect addition to the book, and provides an activity for younger siblings and students who love to get out their crayons and colored pencils! Jaxon’s Black History Activity Book includes word scrambles, crossword puzzles, word puzzles and games, reading and writing activities about the inventors and scientists, and more. All together this set will provide a lot of fun, historical richness, and reinforcement for your children. It is perfect for a unit study for homeschoolers, or a starting point for research projects. Due to the nice range of materials included in this bundle, I think children from K-high school could certainly appreciate the content, with the elementary and middle school ages probably being most ideal. These books are available at TamaraShiloh.com as well as through Amazon Prime.
Author Tamara Shiloh is on a mission to educate about Black History year-round, and has many other books in this series coming soon! You can look forward to sharing with your children about Black women that were instrumental in science and inventions, Black cowboys, Black people involved in aviation and astronomy at NASA and beyond, and more.
Field trips can be one of the most exciting and memorable learning events for our children, but there’s a limit to how many places we can go. Between the obvious geographical challenges, there are also financial considerations, logistical issues, and your time and energy!
Streamable Learning is a site that offers an awesome solution to this for homeschool families! They provide live, interactive streaming educational events that you and your children can attend and participate in right from the comfort of your own home. Their modern, easy-to-use platform makes it simple to see what events are coming up, and to schedule your family to join in the fun. Since these are LIVE events, you and your kiddos get to be a part of the learning in real time, including getting to ask questions and learn from what other participants had to say.
Many of the programs offer pre and post-event materials, so you can really get the most of out preparing for the event and taking advantage of learning opportunities that came up from being a part of the event. Most events include multiple time slots, so you can easily find a time that will work with your schedule. Recordings for most programs are available, too, so if for some reason you end up not being able to attend live, you can still enjoy the opportunity when it’s convenient for you.
Topics included at Streamable Learning include science, technology, engineering, math, culture, reading, literature, health and wellness, art, history, careers, essential skills, and more!
There are events geared toward all levels K-12, so there is plenty for all of your children. I am very excited to start using Streamable Learning with my high school boys. Here are the events for October and November that I scheduled us for. Look at the variety!
- The Team it Takes to Build a Video Game: What teen boys can’t appreciate this?
- An event discussing the themes in Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea (we are going on a road trip now, so we’ll listen to this book on our way)
- Charleston Jazz presenting a Live Jazz for Kids and a History of Jazz event (which are both geared toward grades 3-6, but I’m thinking jazz is great for everybody, so we will attend even though my guys are older)
- A program about volunteering to help Sea Turtles that looks really cool
- A presentation on Women’s Suffrage from the National Women’s History Museum
When I think about even the free or inexpensive field trips I’ve done with my children over the years, by the time I’ve put gas in the van and bought snacks or lunch (or both), it typically would cost us $40+, plus the loss of an entire school day. And if I had to buy tickets to an event, well….those are an investment, to be sure! (and well worth it, but not always easy on the family budget) I just love that Streamable Learning makes it possible to have so many cool educational experiences for all ages in such a convenient way, at a price that is so affordable. Here’s a link to go check them out.
You can also connect with Streamable Learning on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Leonardo da Vinci is undoubtedly one of the most interesting and inspiring men in history. Not only was he a great Renaissance artist, but was also a great thinker and inventor, considering ideas that were far ahead of his time. The range of talents and skills he shared with the world offer an inspiring example for your own children!
I’m excited to share with you about this book series available at Amazon (aff), The Life and Travels of da Vinci from Creative Learning Connection. This five book series tells about many historical details of Leonardo’s life, including his art, in a fun, engaging manner. The books are relatively short, so you can read them to your children, or let them enjoy reading them on their own!
Whether you are studying the Renaissance this year, or just love to provide inspiring and interesting educational materials for your children, you will want to check these books out!
If you are connected to any groups of Christian homeschoolers on the internet, you have probably heard about The Good and the Beautiful. This newcomer to the homeschool world has taken off as one of the fastest-growing and incredibly popular choices for home education.
One thing that got my attention about The Good and the Beautiful was the mention that they integrate art into their materials. For anyone that has followed me for awhile, you know that I like to say that Art IS History. I know that the works of great artists can enhance our understanding and appreciation of other times, cultures, and historical events in a way that words cannot. So, I had to check it out!
The Good and the Beautiful sponsored this review and giveaway so I could let you know my thoughts on their programs. I’m excited to share with you today what I’ve learned.
The Good and the Beautiful is a non-denominational Christian program that aims to connect learning to the good and beautiful things in life, such as family, God, high moral character, wholesome literature, nature, and more.
Year 1 History
The first collection I reviewed was their Year 1 History. All of their history levels are meant to work for grades 1-12, and to be revisited every 3-4 years. All 4 years of their history cover the same sweep of history, from Ancient times through to Modern history, but each year stops at different spots along the way to dig in and learn more about particular people and events. The family-style intent of the program allows you to gather all of your children around 2 or 3 times a week for an hour-long lesson that includes a wide variety of activities that will keep your children interested and delighted. Leveled Student Explorer books enable each child to work at their own ability level, while the whole family learns the same basic content together, taking the guesswork out of trying to figure out what each age child should be doing. Designed to require very little prep time, I believe homeschool moms will find that a quick glance over the next several lessons will easily allow you to anticipate any extra materials you will need.
The Good and the Beautiful keeps things interesting in their history program by offering a wide variety of activities, which will virtually guarantee that your kids are never bored. Each lesson includes several different elements, which normally include reading to your children, but then spin off into other areas such as:
- map activities
- timeline activities
- high-quality audio presentations and stories
- opportunities for oral presentations/public speaking
- review activities
- food activities to enhance the lesson
- cutting activities
- playdough creation
- Keys of History game
- art projects
- writing activities
- fun and interesting learning activities
- copywork/dictation/notebooking elements
- science activities
I was VERY impressed with the range of different activities that are included, and I appreciated it that you are not bombarded with too many to choose from. In Year 1 History you’ll find that there is a nice balance of interesting variety that will not take too much time or be too overwhelming.
Who is this great for?
- Families homeschooling multiple children that want to simplify and streamline learning
- Families that enjoy bringing together elements from Classical, Charlotte Mason, Unit Studies, and traditional approaches to education. The Good and the Beautiful combines them all, without burning you (or your kids) out on any one thing.
- Conservative Christian families that desire Bible-based teaching, completely wholesome literature, and strong instruction about high moral character
Language Arts & Literature
The Good and the Beautiful Language Arts & Literature program has a lot of similarities in the approach to the way the history program is set up:
- Very little prep time required
- wide range of activities throughout
- thoroughly Christian viewpoint
- wholesome content
This program has several components:
- a Course book (one needed per child)
- the course companion (non-consumable and can be shared)
- the reader for this level (non-consumable and can be shared)
- Daily Checklists (each child needs their own copy)
- Geography & Grammar Cards (non-consumable and can be shared)
Lessons are designed to be open-and-go, with little or no prep time required. Children over level 4 are expected/encouraged to work independently through their lessons, and the lessons are written in such a way that they are guided through the steps to actually take ownership of the process. Having had two dyslexic children and some non-typical learners myself, I know that the goal of total independence in learning is not necessarily realistic for all people at a particular stage, but I do like that each step the student should take is clearly communicated, giving them the tools they need to organize themselves and learn to study and progress through the lessons carefully.
Similar to the history program, the Language Arts offers a wide range of activities and approaches to the lessons, so it’s not the same-old-same-old day after day. Instead, new surprises and activity types await with each turn of the page! Included throughout the program are things like:
- memorization (classical educators will especially appreciate this)
- grammar terms
- literary terms
- sentence diagramming
- art appreciation and art history
- reading comprehension
- editing activities
- Latin and Greek roots
- Writing activities
- grammar activities
- poetry appreciation, response, and analysis
- and more!
Several times as I read through the lessons I had the thought that this course would be good for someone that was interested in the grammar portion of Classical Conversations’ Essentials program, but wanted a much less expensive alternative. Classical educators are sure to appreciate the inclusion of sentence diagramming and grammar instruction. Charlotte Mason-style educators are likely to enjoy the inclusion of art and poetry. For those of us that appreciate the practical and efficient route to learning, one of my favorite parts of this program is that they use factual, historical, and informational content while teaching other concepts. So, for instance, instead of a silly made up story used for reading comprehension, your child will be reading about a famous person or event from history, or perhaps about some interesting geographical information. So, you’re getting more “bang for your buck” simply because The Good and the Beautiful capitalizes on these learning opportunities in a meaningful, valuable way.
This Language Arts program has a lot of different components, and it switches things up frequently. For some kids this will be an absolutely delight. For others it may be too unpredictable. Levels 1-5 are available FREE in PDF format, so I think that’s an excellent opportunity to dig in and see if you think this sort of approach is a good fit for your particular children. Personally, I would recommend that once you know The Good and the Beautiful is right for your family, go ahead and order the physical versions. The books are nicely printed, the colored pages are lovely, and it will cost you so much more to try to print it on your own. I believe that these materials are priced at a very good value, with many non-consumable components. You’ll be glad to have the printed versions available to you.
I know that a lot of Enrichment Studies families are curious to know about the inclusion of art and drawing in this program. In the History program, the art was more specifically linked to the content and felt like an enhancement. In the Language Arts & Literature program, the art and drawing activities seemed independent of the content in most cases. I would have loved to see more connections throughout, but for families that enjoy a sprinkle of art throughout their day, it may fit that need very well.
Who is this great for?
- Conservative Christian homeschoolers that want a thoroughly Christian perspective presented and completely wholesome content
- Families that enjoy combining elements of classical, Charlotte Mason, and traditional styles
- Students that thrive on variety and surprise
- Students that can manage multiple different books and materials without difficulty
- Families that enjoy a splash of art and creativity every now and then
Wondering about other materials from The Good and the Beautiful? Check out my review of their Creative Writing Notebook and their Nature Notebook here:
Learning about foreign countries and cultures can delight and inspire our children for a lifetime. My own experience as a child doing a research project about Norway fueled a life-long interest in that country and a visit there remains on my bucket list! Carole P. Roman‘s If You Were Me and Lived in…. series offers a delightful walk across the globe for you and your children, so I am very happy that she sent me some books so I could review them for you!
This award-winning collection manages to engage, entertain, inform, and delight the reader with a wide spectrum of sights and sounds from the featured nation. Each book typically tells about the food, families, pasttimes, schools, toys, money, culture, and climate in a way that’s conversational, and also gets the reader thinking and responding to the information. One of the things I appreciated was the pronunciation guides. I can easily imagine a family reading these books together and trying out new names from each culture, and learning a few vocabulary words from the new language. Sounding less “gringo” is a bonus! 🙂 I also enjoyed that the illustrations are full-color, and often combine actual photographs with the friendly artwork.
Officially aimed at ages 5-8, I believe these books will be enjoyed by your older children as well. I had my 14, 16, and 17 year old sons take a look, and they all enjoyed reading through a few of the books, and said that they thought they were well-done and informative, though certainly geared toward somewhat younger readers. I read through my entire stack of If You Were Me books, and learned so many things that I did not already know! I’m sharing some of those insights this week on Instagram this week, so come check those out for some fun.
As I often say, you never know what will inspire your child and spark a flame of interest and exploration, so it is well worth it to provide a nice range of interesting and appealing resources and experiences for our children to draw from. These books would be a wonderful addition to your home library because they provide a nice starting point for becoming more aware of how people in other places live.
Countries included in this series (aff): Italy, Australia, Mexico, India, Cuba, South Korea, France, Scotland, Germany, Greece, Russia, Portugal, Kenya, Turkey, Peru, China, Hungary, Norway, Egypt, Israel, Poland, and Brazil.
Carole P. Roman has many other books for homeschoolers as well, including her If You Were Me and Lived In…History Series! I can enthusiastically recommend her work to other homeschool families. I hope you’ll check her books out!