Showing posts with label math. Show all posts
Showing posts with label math. Show all posts

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Math and Art

In my classes of late we have been exploring relationships between art and math. If you ever go down this path, it is almost a requirement to include a lesson on MC Escher. I usually try to present some biographical information about the artist we are studying. Using a short video to accomplish this works fairly well, not to mention that with a little help from google and youtube, I can almost always find a video premade by someone else. The quality varies, as does the level of the intended audience. I find though, that if I pause the video here and there and explain what is coming up or what was just said, the kids digest it just fine. 
As a teaser to a tessellation lesson I'll be posting about soon, please enjoy this really well done video about MC Escher..

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream!

"The Scream" by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch
has always been a favorite of mine. I have seen reproductions ranging from extremely vivid colors to black and white graphics. It is a strong piece of emotional art work springing up from the
abstract expressionist movement.
It has inspired countless parody as one can find by simply Googling images for the title. It is at once simple and extremely complex, silent and deafening. I learned for the first time today of it's connection in concept to the eruption of the volcano of Krakatoa, a natural event with global ramifications. In the painting you can hear the explosion in the reverberating waves of color that are at battle with the sounds of the death-like figure's screams. Pretty heavy for kids you might think, but when you see Macaulay Culkin putting on aftershave in Home Alone you are really looking at the same image. Kids scream. People scream. Screaming occurs for multitudes of reasons, from
fear, anger, frustration, excitement, or sheer joy.
It is all the about the emotion, not the specific emotion, and
that is what abstract expressionism really is.
Today I bring you my version of an art project and unit study ideas to help you learn more about this painting, artist, and correlating connections.
(Can you tell how much I love alliteration?)

What you will need:

white cardstock
masking tape
cardboard or other drawing board
black sharpie
oil pastels

1. Start out by having students draw a single figure in the center of the paper. It does not need to be the whole figure. It can be cropped to show only a face and upper torso or a full length figure.
(for a figure tutorial- check out Paul Bunyan or Dancing Divas)
2. Make sure to draw the features of the face with a strong emotion and expression!
3. Outline the shape of the figure and then "echo" these outlines all the way to the edges of the paper. Try to make these outlines as wavy as possible, as if they are vibrating.
4. Use black sharpie to outline all the pencil.
5. Color the inside figure with either all cool(greens, blues, purples, greys) colors or all warm(red, yellow, orange, pink, brown) colors.
6.Color the reverberation lines with the opposite type of colors. If your figure is warm, use cool colors, or vice versa.(tip: work from the inside out to avoid smudging color all over you paper)
7. Lastly re outline all the black lines with black oil pastel.(You could also rub a bit of paper towel over the whole image to smudge the black a bit and add some texture- but be careful- a little goes a long way!)

Here you will see versions done both ways...

To extend this into a unit study...

Science: Study sound waves, geology, or vulcanology

History: Learn more about Krakatoa's eruption and how the weather affected history.

Geography: Learn about Norway

Math: How many sound waves are in you picture? How many miles is it from Krakatoa to Norway?

Language Arts and Music: Write a song or poem about
the things that make you want to

Links and Resources

Edvard Munch at Kinderart

Art Smarts for Kids

National Gallery of Art

Enchanted Learning

Volcano Videos at How Stuff Works

Align Center


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Tall Tales- in short.

Well here is at least part of my promised art lesson on Paul Bunyan and Tall Tales.
I plan to have the rest up by tomorrow. For now, here is the drawing lesson...
(click on picture to make it larger)

They are based on the world's largest fiberglass statues found in Northern California.


Saturday, March 7, 2009

And the Winner Is...

Jamie at

Cultivating Joy In a House Full of Boys

and her suggestion of a unit study on knights and castles!

My suggestion is to begin the study with the art lessons then learn about the subjects and finally at the end of the lesson to create the same projects again integrating all the new knowledge gained in the learning explorations!

First the knight drawing lesson...

You can click on this to make the picture bigger.
If the visual step by step is not enough, let me know and I will post a more detailed tutorial.

Additional art projects to go with this study can be found here..

The Usborne Book in my recommendations also has a castle drawing lesson in it.

Second, the artist study...
Raphael- St. George and the Dragon.

Garden of Praise Artist and Painting Study- A bit higher level but it also has a link to color the picture online.

Practice your math facts with these games...
All you need is a chessboard, knights, rooks, kings, queens, di, and flashcards or a regular deck of playing cards.

Directions: Roll di to see who goes first, highest number goes first. Players pick their game pieces- king, queen, knight, or rook and start on corner of the chessboard. The first piece to make it all the way across wins. (Depending on the age and interest of the players you can have the players move straight ahead in a column to the other side or have them move on a winding path through every square on the board- for this option use a roll of the di to determine how many spaces will be won with a correct answer, incorrect answers lose number of squares indicated by di roll.)Have the player pick a card with a math fact, if they answer correctly they can move ahead, incorrect answers lose one square.
Variations of this game are really endless and brainstorming new rules with your players could result in a really fun new game.
Some variations I thought up were:
Knight's War- 2 players
Use regular playing cards or flash cards. Shuffle cards and place in a stack. Both players draw a card. High card or sum gets to move on the board. Another variation would be low card or sum gets to move.
(if any of you out in blogger land have additional suggestions, please feel free to leave them in the comments for this post.)

There are also several books about Sir Cumference in my recommendations. They may or may not be ready for these. I think they are pretty clever and fun though. Use at your own discretion.

Excavation Project- get a small knight figurine- one that won't melt at higher temperatures- put in a muffin tin or cupcake liner. Fill with muffin or cupcake mix and bake as directed. Let "archaeologists" excavate the knight relics with plastic fork tools.

Lots of additional suggestions can be found in the links section at the end of this post.

The middle ages is not well known for it's scientific advancements, but something that was of great interest in those days was alchemy and blacksmithing.
Research and learn exactly what alchemy is. Interest in this subject in China led to the discovery of the formula for gunpowder!
Blacksmiths were of great interest to all the knights because that is how they got their armor and shoes for their horses. See if you can find a blacksmith still working today and take a field trip to a forge.
In the meantime, try creating your own "chain mail" with paper chains. Use grey or black construction paper to make chains that interlock together the way they did on a knight's hauberk.

Language Arts-
Try reading some great knight stories out loud. Kid friendly versions of Robin Hood and King Arthur would be great and inspiring bedtime tales.
Try writing acrostic poems with the words knight or castle.

Or a write story about one of the amazing art creations they have made!

Books you may find helpful. I often check the ISBN numbers and then request them at my library through inter-library loan as opposed to purchasing a ton of resources.

Before I leave what is already a remarkable long post, I want to let Dana at School for Us know that her Tall Tales suggestion was too irresistible to pass up, but too lengthy to include in this post. I will be posting an art lesson and unit study on Paul Bunyan and Tall Tales tomorrow!
Stay tuned also this week for

Art Emergency- Super Art Teacher to the Rescue!


Friday, February 13, 2009

Spelling Tangle

Looking for ways to make tangle doodles more practical in your home school day?
Try tangle spelling words.
Start with block or bubble letters and then fill them up with lots of patterns. The patterns could be based on repeating the letters of the word to make a design or simply as a design itself. They will be staring and studying the spelling of the word in a visual mode regardless and unfortunately so much of our spelling in English is really based on visual memory.
My second grader missed paint on his spelling test this week. I told him we would start doing this with his spelling words next week. When I thought a little more about it, doing this with all ten words might be a little much. We only do school four days a week so he would need to average 2.5 words a day. So I told him, maybe we'd start with a pretest and then only have him tangle the words he misses on the pretest. No need in having him practice ad nauseum what he already knows.
His response to this was, "Well, I 'll just have to get them all wrong then."
Addiction does run in the family...

I suppose you could do with this math families as well. Start with a block or bubble number and make drawing patterns of the equations or use the numbers themselves to make patterns in the open space.

See addiction seeks justification...

Just in case you are wondering what a tangle doodle is, let me explain...

For more on this subject please see my other posts about Tangles...

Spreading the disease: how to find tangle pattern inspiration

Art as Worship- Tangle Style

Tangle your way out of the doldrums.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


This week in art class we looked at Raphael. Among his many great paintings, he painted St.George and the Dragon. I saw this as a perfect opportunity to get the boys excited about what they were drawing. In the study of Renaissance artists, there aren't all that many subjects for boys to get all that exited about that are also appropriate. Lots of portraits, religious paintings, and nudes. Dragons on the other hand are perfect for boys and girls. All the kids who tried this one did really well. I have omitted a few of the steps above just because of space. If you'd like the in between steps just leave me a comment and I'll get them to you.
As always, I like to let you know about ways you can expand these lessons to incorporate other aspects of a curriculum, and this lesson again can serve as a gateway to a wealth of learning...

Science: Dragons, could they have been another species of dinosaurs? What else could they have been? Explore the myths and legends surrounding these great mythological creatures.

History, Social Studies and Geography: Where and when are these legends coming from? What country and time period seems to have generated the majority of dragon lore? Learn about the Chinese New Year and what role dragons play in Chinese culture.

Language Arts and Literature: Read St. George and the Dragon, Retold by Margaret Hodges and Illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman or Droofus the Dragon by Bill Peete for younger kids.
Write dragon poems and stories. Create your own dragon legends.

Math: Estimation; how many scales might have a dragon have? How big is a dragon and how many square inches does a scale cover, then estimate how many scales it would take to cover the whole dragon.

Art History: Learn more about Raphael at Art Smarts4 Kids or at Garden of Praise and try drawing your own dragons. The illustration at the beginning of this post was done with regular markers and blended with a blender marker.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Nutcracker- A Unit Study

These samples above were done by students in third through fifth grade

Soapbox time again.
The Nutcracker offers an amazing array of subjects to explore in a unit study.
Just a few...

Language Arts

The Nutcracker and the King of Mice

Fine Arts/Music/ Theater/ PE

Pas De Deux

Social Studies

Christmas celebrations around the world
Germany, Russia, France
(Clara is German. The original story comes from Russia. Alexandre Dumas revamped the story to the one we are familiar with in the ballet.)
The history of Christmas symbols(IE;the tree)


Different types of snow
rats and mice- how are they different, how are the same?


Telling time
Calendar(when is Christmas?)
Counting- characters, mice, rats, soldiers, fairies, dances, songs, etc.

Here are some other useful links as well...
Powerpoint Nutcracker Themes

The Nutcracker Story
Holiday Traditions- The Nutcracker Story Lapbook

Free Nutcracker Unit Study
Nutcracker Art Lesson

Friday, December 5, 2008

A Tiger's Tale- Of Unit Studies

Upon my soapbox I have boldly proclaimed before that you really can teach all your other subjects through art. Today I add more supporting evidence to my claims. I really love unit studies, and in all honesty with just a little creative brainstorming you can put together a unit study based on anything your child has a fancy for, or you do for that matter. A unit study may be a wonderful way to share something that interests or fascinates you with your children. Today, we begin with the tiger.

Tiger Unit Study

Younger Kids- Leo The Late Bloomer: I love this story! My kids all had mild delays that caused some concern for us. Though we did not just take a "wait and see" approach, ultimately they blossomed and continue to do so.

Older Kids- The Jungle Book- by Rudyard Kipling- Need I say more?

Spelling and Vocabulary- I use the rules found in weekly graded spelling books and pull out words from the books based on those rules. (Words ending in "er' for example.)

Social Studies, Geography and History
What a rich topic this is! Dig in!

Domestic and Wild Cats
Endangered Animals
Ecology and Habitat Preservation
Why do tigers have stripes and why are they all different?
Adaptations of Siberian Tigers

Count the tigers stripes.
Count a group of tigers' stripes. (Sets and Multiplication)
How many tigers are left?
How many different types of tigers are there? In captivity? In the wild?


Though this is a stretch, I couldn't help it. Study golf and learn about Tiger Woods!

As you can see the associations are endless and limited only by you and your children's imagination and curiosity.

Below are some some products you may find useful. I found them in about five minutes, so I know a good google search or visit to your local library will probably yield vastly more treasures than I could dare to post in a single blog entry!

You can also check out his great plan for a free tiger lapbook

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tip Tuesday- on Wednesday.

Sorry all. I am so busy right now. Please pray for me as I am really quite stressed out. I am having to do this blog at 6am after having gotten up at 5am, just so I'd have time to get a shower in. Oh well, I am thankful for the busy-ness though as it means my business is going well. The plaster project is still sitting in my draft folder, but it wants out very badly so please be a little more patient with that one.
On to today's matters...
Today I share with you the secret of my homeschooling success!


This is a generic form that you can use for any subject. There are two here to choose from with the only difference being the amount of lines and line spacing.You can use it for big kids or little. They can write it themselves or dictate to you.
If they are dictating and you are writing, I would use the form with more lines as someone else doing doing the actual physical part of the writing tends to free up their tongue and imagination a bit and many, many words flow sometimes. The most important (and fun in my opinion) is the drawing section. My boys have a whole ancient history book they have made themselves using these forms and narrating from The Story of the World.
To print these, just click on the image. A bigger version will show on your screen. Click on file at the top of your screen. Make sure to click on print preview to make sure you will get what you really want. You may have to scale down the image to make it fit all on one paper.
Right now we are using these to do chapter summaries of The Golden Goblet. My ten year old actually types his on the computer in Word and then once it is printed out he draws a picture. Many times the best thing is to have the kids draw the picture first and then write about it. A picture is worth a thousand words after all!

For Website Wednesday these are my offerings for you today.

Drawing Now-
Here you will find little step by step videos of how to draw many, many things. This link will take you right to the knight tutorial, but at the top of the screen you will see the tabs for many more options. My only hesitation in recommending this site is that the advertising on the site may not be your cup of tea and you may not want your child clicking on some of the links provided. My suggestion is to sit next to your child while they do these drawings or remain quite near where you can always see the screen too. The drawings range from detailed and complicated to very simple and recognizable cartoon characters including many Anime and Mange styles.( Just to be clear though, I am not a fan of these styles though my daughter is.)

Wild Weather Adventure!
This is a fun game all about weather. Each child gets their own weather drone and they must navigate through all sorts of weather by answering questions correctly. You can adjust the difficultly levels of the questions.

And a shameless plug, my Chagall lesson is also up over at KinderArt. Of course the authors over there have added much more to it in the form of info about Marc Chagall and the painting the lesson is based on. It is actually one of the features lessons in the slide show on their homepage!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tip Tuesday #1

You have probably heard this before.

"Make learning fun!"

"Yes, yes!" I hear you say. "But how?"

You may have a child who drools(in a good way, not the mind numbed open mouthed sort of way) at the idea of doing endless worksheets and drills(yes they do exist). Most children though, mine included do not like "doing school". Am I a bad teacher? Maybe, but more likely "school" the traditional way, was not designed in the same way a child's learning pattern is designed. A child is hard-wired to seek out fun.
A child who is having fun while learning is going to enjoy learning because learning is fun.

Make learning fun by making learning a game!

"Oh no." I hear you say. "There are so many educational games out there and they are so expensive!'

Yes there are alot of educational games out there and yes they are expensive which is why I don't have very many of them. A lot of them are also very complex and too subject specific. What I do instead is turn the games we already have or know how to play into educational games.

Tic Tac Toe Spelling

This game works best when you home school more than one child, but a single child could certainly play against the house(you)as well. A larger group can play with teams.
All you have to do is make the tic tac toe grid and decide who will be X and who will be O. In order to get your X or O, the spelling word must be spelled correctly.(Think Hollywood Squares.)
In this way you can drill them on their own personal spelling lists and have fun at the same time learning about strategy. For a serious challenge, spell the word for them and ask them what the word is. In this way they have to visualize the words. A super challenge would be to spell it backwards. If they can spell it backwards or identify when it's spelled backwards, you know they have it and probably always will. My kids constantly ask to play this game.
Of course this concept is not limited to spelling, use it for math facts, science terms, history dates, bible story comprehension questions, or whatever else you can think of!

Now use the same idea for any other game you own. In order to get their turn they must answer the questions correctly.

For more kinetic learners who need to be moving to learn, play spelling free throw.
If you don't have a basketball hoop outside, use a wastebasket and a crumpled up ball of paper. The variations are limitless.

In a future post I will share with you some cute flannel board games that you can make yourself and use for these kind of games.
So go ahead, make learning fun!