Puzzles for the Whole Family – A New Family Favorite

You know those hobbies from your childhood that you introduce to your kids and they aren’t interested? That’s how it went introducing my children to puzzles above 50 pieces. While they enjoyed the 24-48 piece puzzles as preschoolers, they did not have any sort of patience for larger puzzles. They had outgrown the smaller puzzles, so they were shelved.

I have several of those little puzzles that are still used because I still have a preschooler, but the larger ones remained largely untouched. Then on a whim the other day, I ordered this for myself:

It was a total impulse buy and one that was purely for fun. Just for me. It came Sunday afternoon and I couldn’t wait so I got right to work:

The puzzle is coming along nicely.

A photo posted by Vicki Arnold (@vicki_arnold) on

I spent the rest of my day working that puzzle and then the kids helped me finish it the next morning:

We finished it!!

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MY KIDS ARE HOOKED! They wanted to do all the puzzles and were sad when we couldn’t keep going. They also all put 1000 piece puzzles on their wishlists for this Christmas. This is one request I am more than happy to oblige.

I spent hours putting together puzzles as a teenager. I know, wild child, right? There was a favorite 750 piece one that I am hoping we can find at my parents’ house in storage. It was a picture of craft supplies. Yes, glitter, pom poms, pipe cleaners, etc. I put that together many, many times. I got pretty fast at it, too.

But enough about my wild teenage years…

When I started looking through Amazon, I found thousands of options. I was thrilled by this because, well, I love to shop. Since I’m also a blogger who also enjoys writing blog posts, you get a post. Yay!

Beginner Puzzles

We have these first four puzzles and my preschooler loves to put them together. He can’t do these all on his own, but that’s a fun part of preschool, making memories. Right?

And these are the ones I added to the list of potential gifts for my preschooler:

Intermediate Puzzles

These puzzles are slightly harder than above. They have smaller pieces and/or more of them.


Advanced Puzzles

Looking for a bigger challenge for the cold winter months or something to do with a loved one? These monsters are just what you are looking for.

If you are up for a REAL challenge, give this BEAST a try!

Ravensburger Disney Puzzle – 40,320 PIECES! The puzzle is over 22 feet long by over 6 feet wide! I’d love to see it actually put together, wouldn’t you?

You Might Like These Puzzles Too!

Puzzles - A great family tradition to start today.

Tips for Deep Cleaning Your House

Deep cleaning is one of those weirdly satisfying things for me. On the one hand it is deeply satisfying and on the other hand, ew. Kind of like popping a zit…just me? Moving on…

Our house has hit one of those, desperate for a good, mama cleaning times. I’m doing my mama duty and training my kids to clean, but they are kids and sometimes take advantage of mama’s ADD. Things get busy and sometimes I just don’t pick that battle. Just being honest.

If you are looking for a perfect mama, perfect kids, perfect marriage, and a perfect home, I can’t help you. What I use this space here on the internet for is to encourage other non-perfect mamas in their homeschooling and homemaking journey. Because we can all use more of that, right?

Today, I want to encourage you to deep clean your house. Or a room in it. Or one wall and pantry, like I did. I started the day thinking I was going to deep clean the whole dang kitchen. What I ended up getting done was the bar and pantry, but man, do they sparkle now!

As I was cleaning, I was writing a blog post in my head because that’s how I roll. So here are some tips for deep cleaning your house…or a room in it.

Tips for Deep Cleaning Your House...from an imperfect mom.

Tips for Deep Cleaning Your House

Occupy and/or Employ Kids

This is obviously your choice and may vary with each deep cleaning session. When I worked in my kitchen the other day, I chose to occupy them and that mostly involves my four-year-old. The older children often occupy themselves just fine.

I typically choose to have my children occupied when I have a deep cleaning session for two reasons. First, I tend to run through a range of emotions when I deep clean. Yes, I am happy, relieved, and satisfied at the end, but in the process I am often frustrated and sometimes even angry at the state of certain things. It’s easier for me to control these emotions when I have no one to lash out at.

Make it Enjoyable

This is particularly important if you are not looking forward to deep cleaning your house. Put on your super comfortable yoga pants, pour a favorite drink, turn the music up, and get going. Or, if you need quiet, make that happen. I know, easier said than done most days, huh?

Light the House Up

Turn on all the lights in the room that you are working in. Throw open the curtains to let the sunshine stream in. Light has the tendency to brighten our moods. It also sheds light on all the dirt and crud that needs cleaning.

Be Strategic

I am all about strategies. I love to create a plan. I’m not so great at the implementation part of those plans, my strength is in the researching and planning. This does me no good when it comes to actually getting the house clean. It seems no matter how many “tips for deep cleaning your house” articles I read, the house won’t clean itself. Shoot.

So what I have found that works the best is to keep it simple. Start in the corner of a room and work clockwise. This works for me because at the end of my session, something is actually clean. This works better than saying I will pick up the laundry and dishes throughout the room because that is 1.) never-ending and 2.) it doesn’t leave anything FINISHED.

To keep my momentum going, I need something FINISHED to look at.

Tips for Deep Cleaning Your House...from an imperfect mom.

Be Smart

This goes hand-in-hand with being strategic. Looking ahead to see if something needs to be done first or is a bigger job that can be broken down into smaller steps can be helpful.

For example, our kitchen sink is on the opposite wall of where I was starting, but there were more than one load of dishes worth of dirty dishes to be done (were there ever!!). We hand wash our dishes so I washed a sink full and set them to air dry while I started on the other side of the kitchen.

Focus

Don’t leave the room for every item that needs to be put away. I don’t know about your house, but things have the tendency to congregate in hot spots and all over the house. I am also highly distractible. So when I leave a room to put something away, I will notice all the things that need done in the other room. This inevitably leaves me mumbling like a crazy person in my head, sometimes an angry crazy person.

So, what I do is to put things that go in different rooms together in a spot away from where I’m deep cleaning. Then when I have a few items, then I will take them and put them away quickly. If things need moved in the other room where they are going (like books need re-shelving in addition to the ones I’m bringing back), then I set them all nicely together in one spot and return to my job at hand.

Resist the Urge to Start Another Project

When I was cleaning my kitchen, I came to my recipe box. Now, my recipe box is in need of a decluttering because I have a ton of recipes we never ended up using or we didn’t like. I could have started cleaning that out because it really was decluttering, but it would not have helped the overall project. The recipe box was going to take the same amount of space no matter if it was purged or not. So I left it alone and finished the wall I was working on.

Take Notes

Sometimes you will come across a project (like my recipe box) that legitimately needs done, but now is not the time. Or you will notice things like paint nicks that need retouched. Don’t stop your deep cleaning session to do this now.

And I don’t know about you, but my brain tends to really start working creatively when I’m cleaning. So I think of all sorts of blog posts (like this one), craft projects, and organizational projects when I am working. Like I mentioned, I am a highly distractible person so I need to put those ideas on paper as I go so I can get them out of my head and focus on my task at hand. Thus, the notes.

deep-cleaning-tips-for-your-home-fb

Keep Yourself Hydrated

Drink water. Snack on vegetables. Just make sure you don’t end up thirsty, it will make you tired. And I do mean water, that actual stuff your body needs to function.

Resist the Urge to Multi-Task

This may sound a bit redundant, but if you are like me, you need the repetition. Focus on your task at hand, don’t try to do a bunch (or even two or three) things at once. Work on one thing until it is completed. Finished is the goal. Don’t lose track of that and end up with an even bigger mess than when you started with nothing to show for it.

Boom. There you go. Almost 1200 words giving you my best tips for deep cleaning your house or a room or a wall and pantry in it. 😉

You might also like:

Time Management Tips That Actually Work

Picture Book Biographies for Women’s History Month

Women’s History Month is in March. It isn’t March, I know. Let me just preface this by saying that I started this list with a HUGE, honkin’ stack of books from our library in January. Yes, January. All because I was determined to have a list of picture book biographies for Women’s History Month to you at the very beginning of March so you could include some books in your homeschool studies, if you wanted.

And then life happened because that is what is supposed to happen when you have a family, right? 😉

But March will come again and we will have another Women’s History Month, so I’m just gonna leave this big list of picture book biographies for Women’s History Month right here for you. You can bookmark it, pin it on Pinterest, share it and save it on Facebook, or whatever you want to do. It will be here when you need it.

And next year, when March rolls around, I’ll be all on my Facebook page saying, “Hey! Look at this post I wrote last year, I finished it two months after Women’s History Month, but still published it because I needed it to be finished and published. :D”

Soooo, enough of all that. Here is your big, honkin’ list of picture book biographies for Women’s History Month. (Have you gotten the idea of what this post is yet? Hehe..) Also included is a bit of commentary by me on the contents of each book. You’re welcome…or I’m sorry, guess it depends on what you think of my opinion, doesn’t it?

Picture Book Biographies for Women's History Month - A big book list from Vicki-Arnold.com

Picture Book Biographies for Women’s History Month

Beatrix Potter and Her Paint Box by David McPhail – This book would pair nicely with a Beatrix Potter unit study. You could read some of Potter’s beloved books, do some fun bunny crafts, eat some fun themed snacks, and maybe act out some of the stories.

Helen Keller’s Best Friend Belle by Holly M. Barry, illustrated by Jennifer Thermes – I did not realize the role dogs played in Helen’s life. Did you know she was the first person to bring an Akita to the United States? I didn’t.

Helen’s Big World: The Life of Helen Keller by Doreen Rapport, illustrated by Matt Tavares – Another picture book biography of Helen Keller, this one is interspersed quotes from Helen herself.

Women Who Broke the Rules: Dolley Madison by Kathleen Krull – The books in this series are longer, more suitable for read alouds over more than one sitting for younger children. There are six chapters in each book that I read.

Women Who Broke the Rules: Mary Todd Lincoln by Kathleen Krull – Abraham Lincoln is one of the United States’ most famous presidents, his wife is a fascinating character. It’s quite a story she has.

Marvelous Mattie: How Margaret E. Knight Became an Inventor by Emily Arnold McCully – Mattie’s prized possession was her father’s toolbox and the tools inside. She was a clever girl that grew into a great inventor. You won’t believe what her first official invention was, we use it almost daily!

Wangari Maathai: The Woman Who Planted Millions of Trees by Franck Prévot, illustrated by Aurélia Fronty – This is a beautiful book. It tells the story of a woman who fought the odds and became a beloved figure in Kenya. She’s proof that one person can make a difference.

Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors? The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell by Tanya Lee Stone, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman – It is hard to imagine what it would have been like for Elizabeth, to have everyone against you. Her’s is an inspirational story about what you can do if you put your mind to it.

What to Do About Alice? by Barbara Kerley, illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham – The subtitle was How Alice Roosevelt Broke the Rules, Charmed the World, and Drove Her Father Teddy Crazy. That pretty much sums up this powerhouse of a woman.

In Mary’s Garden by Tina and Carson Kügler – This is about Mary Nohl, an artist who created a famous garden of statues in Wisconsin. A good read if you are looking for a book to encourage the artist in a child who doesn’t have an interest in traditional art.

Shooting Star: Annie Oakley, the Legend by Debbie Dadey, illustrated by Scott Goto – The woman, the myth, the legend. This picture book has it all.

Soar, Elinor! by Tami Lewis Brown, illustrated by François Roca – Elinor Smith is a lesser known female pilot. Well, at least lesser known to me. She was the youngest flier in the United States, earning her pilot’s license at just 16 years old.

Coretta Scott by Ntozake Shange, illustrated by Kadir Nelson – The poetry style of this book lends itself more to elementary aged children, but the book is a beautiful read.

Mary Cassatt: Extraordinary Impressionist Painter by Barbara Herkert, illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska – Read about how the famous impressionist’s encounters with Edgar Degas inspired her work as a painter.

The Bravest Woman in America by Marissa Moss, illustrated by Andrea U’Ren – Ida Lewis grew up by the sea, which makes me a wee bit jealous. Her father was a lighthouse keeper and the job eventually passed to Ida.

Women Who Broke the Rules: Judy Blume by Kathleen Krull – Judy Blume is a pretty controversial author. She was the most banned author from 1982 to 1996. This book does cover that, but it also shows just why she wrote on the topics she wrote about.

The Last Princess: The Story of Princess Ka’iulani of Hawai’i by Fay Stanley, illustrated by Diane Stanley – This is a sad story. It is an important story to read, but beware that it is quite sad what happened to the nation of Hawai’i.

Joan of Arc by Demi – The illustrations are the main focus of this book and they are lovely. Joan of Arc’s story is one that is marked with obedience to God and betrayal of man. Joan is burned at the stake, so this may not be a good choice if you have particularly young children.

Mermaid Queen by Shana Corey, illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham – Annette Kellerman learned to swim because she couldn’t walk. That simple act changed the course of swimming history for women worldwide.

Good Queen Bess: The Story of Elizabeth I of England by Diane Stanley and Peter Vennema, illustrated by Diane Stanley – Read of the Tudor Queen who loved and ruled her country well. Her’s is a story of sacrificial love and one that helped a country recover from the bloody reign of her father and sister.

Imogen: The Mother of Modernism and Three Boys by Amy Novesky, illustrated by Lisa Congdon – I think that if Imogen had lived in today’s times, she would have been a wonderful blogger with her photos of family life.

A Picture Book of Anne Frank by David A. Adler, illustrated by Karen Ritz – This book is well done, it shares the horrible story of the Holocaust, but isn’t too heavy for kids.

Buffalo Bird Girl: A Hidatsa Story by S. D. Nelson – A look at what it was like to grow up near the Missouri River on the Great Plains for one girl. The story includes actual words and stories from Buffalo Bird Girl, along with artwork and archival photographs.

Rachel Carson and Her Book that Changed the World by Laurie Lawlor, illustrated by Laura Beingessner – We can all thank Rachel for her work that changed many practices in the 50’s and 60’s like the spraying of DDT in neighborhoods to kill bugs.

Sky High: The True Story of Maggie Gee by Marissa Moss, illustrated by Carl Angel – Maggie was one of two Chinese American WASPs (Women Airfare Service Pilots), she dreamed of being a pilot when her family would watch pilots like Amelia Earhart take off each Sunday and eventually made that dream come true.

Bon Appétit! The Delicious Life of Julia Child by Jessie Hartland – One of the most famous chefs around, Julia led an interesting life. This is not a traditional book, the story is all over the page with lots of illustrations on each page.

Talkin’ About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by E. B. Lewis – Another woman pilot to be sure to read about. Her story is told in a series of monologues versus a traditional story.

And there you have it, a giant list of picture book biographies for Women’s History Month. I have to say I learned a lot reading the books for this list. I’d love to do a second list so if you know of another great picture book biography about a woman that made history, please tell me in the comments so I can add it to my list to check out!

Picture Book Biographies for Women's History Month - A big book list from Vicki-Arnold.com

Simple Steps to a Healthier Life

A friend says, “Hey, how are you doing?”

“I didn’t sleep well last night, but I’m good.”

Another acquaintance asks, “How have you been?”

You reply with a genuine smile, “Busy, tired, but who isn’t?”

You find memes about coffee and caffeine being your daily fuel to be all to relatable. I mean, they are funny, but it kind of concerns you that your body doesn’t have the energy for your day without a stimulant like caffeine.

Or your body is so sensitive to caffeine that a simple cup of coffee too late in the day will wreck your night of sleep with a panic attack.

This has been the story of my life for the last few years. My 30’s haven’t been very kind to my body. Of course, I haven’t really been all that kind to my body most of my life. I guess turnabout’s fair play, huh? I think I’ve been due for a few simple steps to a healthier life to correct things for a while now.

With my panic attacks and some issues that come around (or not, ha) on a mostly monthly basis, I’ve finally found a regimen of supplements (herbs, vitamins, and minerals) and essential oils that I find extremely helpful, but they haven’t had near the impact that I’ve seen with tweaking my diet and adding more movement to my day. If you are interested in reading about my supplements and oils, let me know in the comments and I will find a way to tell you about them that doesn’t get me in trouble with the powers that be regulating. 😉

Simple (I Promise!) Steps to a Healthier Life - Vicki-Arnold.com

Simple Steps to a Healthier Life

You may have picked up from the above paragraph that my simple steps have to do with food and movement. Before you roll your eyes or feel exasperated because you’ve tried this before, hear me out.

I’ve tried being intentional about exercising daily, I even made it about 6 weeks with this goal last fall. I’ve tried just about everything you can think of for cutting or reducing sugar in my diet because, frankly, I’m a bit addicted. None of these have stuck, but this spring, I think I have found a few simple steps that will stick.

1. Drinking a glass of water before anything else in the morning. I tend to not drink a lot during the day. I had days where I would get to dinner and realize I hadn’t drank any water that day. Not really helpful for my body. This way I have at least 16 oz. of water (one of our drinking glasses) in the morning. I usually take my supplements with this so it’s easy to get it all down.

2. Focus on veggies at lunch. I try to have a salad for lunch each day. As much as a creature of habit I am (I typically have the exact same salad), I also fight routine like nobody’s business so it’s ridiculous how hard this can be some days.

I’m not focused on specific items, just aiming to have vegetables. Previously, I’ve actually had days where I hit dinner and realized I hadn’t had a vegetable all day. Yeah, you can see why simple steps needed to happen for me.

3. Stop striving for perfection. This simple step has probably been the hardest to implement. I tend to be all or nothing and this often leads to a lot of nothing because who really can be “all” perfectly? Not me, that’s for sure.

What this looks like for me is that when I do great a few days in a row and my mind starts making all these grand plans of how I’ll get it right and do it EVERY.SINGLE.DAY from here to eternity, I tell myself to shut up. Well, not exactly, I just stop and take some deep breaths. Then I thank God that I’ve managed to do something right for a short consistent time because I know that isn’t me.

Then, when I miss a day or two, I don’t stress. I simply make a mental note to pick up where I left off or start again right then, depending on what it is. I’m aiming for every day, but realizing that isn’t always going to happen. For a lot of reasons.

4. Prepping vegetables and other items as I can. One of the things that annoys me about vegetables is all the chopping it takes to use them. I don’t have time to chop lettuce, broccoli, onion, shred carrots, etc. everyday for a salad. So I don’t.

I keep a large, covered Pyrex bowl in the refrigerator with cut up lettuce. Then I keep a sandwich size bag each of broccoli bits, chopped red onion, and diced bell peppers in the deli drawer. I buy my carrots pre-shredded. I shred hunks of Tillamook cheese that we get from Costco and keep it in a gallon size bag, also in the deli drawer. I only have to do this once every 4-5 days, depending on who else eats salads.

I used to think that I needed to have a set day to do this in order for it to be an official routine, but I’ve let go of that and just do it when it needs done. That’s routine enough.

5. Front load my day with productivity. This is the step I actually do the worst with, being intentional about getting the productivity wheel going each morning. I am NOT a morning person in the slightest and so it takes me a while to get going in the morning, and no, a cup of coffee doesn’t help this.

My productivity often looks different each day. I have days where I try to get a one mile walk in before breakfast. Some days it is reading my bible and reading an actual book for personal growth. Other days it is specific homeschool group work done before lunch. Some days it is dishes and laundry.

It really doesn’t matter what it is, just something that needs to be done and that doesn’t involve a screen. Screens are a big, time-sucking rabbit trail for me.

6. Whenever possible, exercise before breakfast. For me, this is my one mile walk. It takes me 15-25 minutes, depending on who ends up going with me or if I get to go alone. I have short legs and walking at 3.5 miles per hour is really moving for me (I know this from walking on a treadmill). This walk isn’t meant to do anything other than get me moving early, out in the fresh air, and clear-headed, so I walk at a relatively leisurely pace most of the time.

The point is movement early in the day, not a super sweatfest. If you want a super sweatfest, then have at it. It’s just not me yet.

7. Making breakfast very protein-heavy. This is hands down the simple step that has made the biggest impact for me. Sometime in March, I started focusing on protein for breakfast. Being the creature of habit that likes to think she doesn’t like routine that I am, this is fairly consistent in content, too. Typically it is 3 breakfast sausages (fully cooked, frozen ones from Costco that have no msg, nitrites, or preservatives), 1-2 eggs, and a few berries.

Sometimes I will sauté some veggies in the pan and then crack my egg over that, just to get more vegetables in my day. This doesn’t happen often because it adds to the time it takes to make my breakfast since I only use one pan for my breakfast because, hello? Dishes.

Previously, I didn’t get much protein in my day either. At this point you may be wondering what the heck I ate and drank since veggies, protein, and water were often lacking from my diet. I’ll give you an example: breakfast would be cereal, oatmeal, or a bagel; lunch would be mac and cheese or pancakes (kids can make these); and then dinner would be some sort of pasta, which would have some veggies or protein usually. Add in there my sweets and snacks of pretzels, crackers, or such and you have a very carb-heavy day of food.

This is why the simple tweaks of a veggie-heavy salad for lunch and a hearty, protein-packed breakfast make a huge difference in how my body feels. And it really is hugely different. On the days I get all seven of these things in, I feel amazing. Like conquer the world amazing. I can definitely use more days like that, how about you?

Last week, after #7 being the only simple step that I had maintained consistently for a month, I realized that my mid-section was significantly less fluffy. My husband noticed it the next day. I haven’t stepped on the scale to see if those numbers have moved and my clothes don’t fit a ton better, but there is a definite improvement in my waist comfort of my pants. It’s enough to keep me headed in this direction.

One of the other results that I have noticed when I implement these simple steps to a healthier life is that I actually don’t crave sugar as much, and there is simply less time for me to eat it so I am naturally eating less sugar. I’ll take it!

If you are looking to make some improvements to improve your overall health and energy, be encouraged that small changes really can make a big difference. While I look forward to a day when all seven of these simple steps feel easy and natural, I am thrilled that even one makes me feel so much better. Give it a shot.

If you are the type who needs more direction, try them in this order – 7, 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6. Keep #3 in mind the whole time and knock them off one at a time. You really can do this, trust me. If I can, you can. Tell me in the comments or shoot me an email and let me know that you started and I will pray for you and root you on!

Simple (I Promise!) Steps to a Healthier Life - Vicki-Arnold.com

Books to Help You Teach Art in Your Homeschool Without Any Talent

There are fewer things as daunting in homeschooling than teaching subjects you are not good at. In my experience, art and math seem to be the two biggest struggles for homeschool parents. I’m not touching on math today, but I think I can help you with the art thing a bit.

Art is really a fun subject and one that most kids really get into. Below is a big list of books to help you teach art in your homeschool either by simply adding it to your other subjects or giving it its own space. But first, a little pep talk from me:

Art is not an exact science like chemistry. You are not going to make something explode when you get something “wrong”. In fact, mistakes can often make a piece of art more interesting. Here’s the thing, your kid doesn’t care if you are a great artist. The whole point of this list isn’t to make promises of turning you into a great artist who can then teach your child art.

Nope.

The point of this post is to provide you with some resources so you and your child can explore art together. Art is a great way to relax and explore your creative brain (no matter how little you think you have…) while creating memories with your child.

So get out there and create some art with your child!

End pep talk.

Right now I have a list of books to help you teach art in your homeschool…talent optional.

How to Teach Art in Your Homeschool When You Have No Talent!

Books to Help You Teach Art in Your Homeschool (Talent Optional)

Arty Facts: Weather & Art Activities by Janet Sacks – Combining science lessons with a specific art project, this one is a good choice for older preschoolers and early elementary students. There are some really great projects in here and a good chunk of them use recycled materials.

The Jumbo Book of Outdoor Art written and illustrated by Irene Luxbacher – This book is written to kids, but to use it that way, you would likely need older elementary students. Add a parent to the mix and you have some fun projects for preschoolers. Great for nature studies.

The Kids’ Multicultural Art Book: Art & Craft Experiences from Around the World by Alexandra M. Terzian – Organized by continent, this book would make a great reference book to have on your homeschool shelves. As you cover topics in history or geography, you can pair a coordinating art project. I’m a fan of the two-birds-with-one-stone homeschooling philosophy.

Storybook Art: Hands-On Art for Children in the Styles of 100 Great Picture Book Illustrators by MaryAnn F. Kohl and Jean Potter – The charts at the beginning of this book make finding just the right project very easy. You can easily choose activities based on experience level, preparation time, or technique with all the icons they detail. There is a chart of contents that lists all the books, authors, projects, style, etc. I’d say this fits in with literature or reading, however you classify reading picture books to preschoolers in your homeschool.

Art is Every Day: Activities for the Home, Park, Museum, and City by Eileen S. Prince – There are 65 projects in this book. This book could be used for middle or high school students to study some art concepts independently, but I’m including it here mostly for you parents, particularly those who feel you do not know anything about art. You read the chapters and then do the projects with your kids. This falls into the fine art or simply art subject category.

Cool Flexagon Art: Creative Activities That Make Math & Science Fun for Kids! by Anders Hanson and Elissa Mann – These projects would be great for upper elementary students. These projects focus on geometry.

Cool String Art: Creative Activities that Make Math & Science Fun for Kids! by Anders Hanson and Elissa Mann – Find projects that will fit with geometry and astronomy lessons. Another great option for elementary students and bringing art into other subjects.

Modern Art Adventures: 36 Creative, Hands-On Projects Inspired by Artists from Money to Banksy by Maja Pitamic and Jill Laidlaw – I’m a big fan of books that  tell you how to use them, give me clear, concise instructions any day and I’m happy. This book includes a bit of art history and I would say you could use it with just about any age in your homeschool.

Art for All Seasons: 40 Creative Mixed Media Adventures for Children Inspired by Nature and Contemporary Artists by Susan Schwake – As you would guess, this book’s projects are divided up by season. In addition to the projects, there is a section on materials and one on creating an art space. A lot of these projects would pair nicely with nature studies.

Art Stamping: Using Everyday Objects by Bernadette Cuxart – Part of a series of books written to be used directly by kids to explore art. This book focuses on stamping with objects like sponges, leaves, q-tips, and bubble wrap.

Art Painting With Different Tools by Bernadette Cuxart – These fun art projects are made with sponges, straws, cotton balls, and even homemade brushes. A total of 16 projects are included.

Art Painting On Everyday Items by Bernadette Cuxart – Paper is not the only thing that you paint on with this book. Aluminum foil, sandpaper, rocks, and bottle caps are just a few of the everyday, but not typical canvases used in these art projects.

Art Painting With Everyday Materials by Bernadette Cuxart – Have fun painting with chalk and salt, paint and soap, and even coffee with the art projects in this book. This series is a great fit for elementary students, especially those who may want to work more independently.

My Art Book: Amazing Art Projects Inspired By Masterpieces by DK Publishing – A great start into art history, it covers a lot of styles, mediums, and artists. Each has a famous piece of art with history on the style, artist, and other details. Then there is a project to complete for each piece. A total of 14 projects, great for all ages.

The Big Book of Art Draw! Paint! Create! An Adventurous Journey Into the Wild & Wonderful World of Art! by Walter Foster Jr. – I just love this book. It makes a great companion book for the Big Book of Color book I’ve mentioned before. I will likely use both of these with my little guy for his PreK year. This art book works best for preschool to early elementary aged students.

My Art Class by Nellie Shepherd – A fun book of art projects for toddlers and preschoolers. Beware, the projects and age range will likely create a mess, but just remember that is part of the process and maybe throw a tarp down.

My Animal Art Class by Nellie Shepherd – Ditto for these fun art projects and age bracket.

Get Into Art Animals: Discover Great Art and Create Your Own by Susie Brooks – Explore animals in art with this book and the included art projects. Each of the 13 works of art have a corresponding project. Great for kids of all ages.

Get Into Art People but Susie Brooks – Another in the Get Into Art series, this book explores the various ways people are portrayed in art.

Get Into Art Places by Susie Brooks – Yep, same series. This time we are exploring places like bedrooms and landscapes…and making projects like the famous art included.

Get Into Art Telling Stories by Susie Brooks – The final book from this series (at least that I perused) explores how art can tell stories.

Art Workshops for Children by Hervé Tullet – I’ve become a fan of Tullet’s books, so has my preschooler. This book is for adults though. Tullet will teach you how to lead an art workshop (or lesson or co-op class) for children. The information is great, the projects fun. The photos at the end of the book of real-life art workshops is a great look through, too.

The School of Art: Learn How to Make Great Art With 40 Simple Lessons by Teal Triggs, illustrated by Daniel Frost – This book could be used by parents to teach or it could be used independently by middle school students and up. The lessons are simple, but lay a great foundation for budding artists.

That’s the list for now! We got books this time, in the future I’ll put together lists of other resources to help you with art. It is a fun subject, if you let it be!

You may also be interested in these other art posts I wrote:

Time Management Tips That Actually Work…

…unless you have your stuff together better than I do. Being horrible with time management is one of those flaws in my personality that drives various people nutso, chiefly myself. I’ve come along a bit in this and am not quite as horrible as I used to be, but still have a long way to go. I’ve been actively working on this and have found some things that really help me.

Time Management Tips That Actually Work

 

Time Management Tips That Actually Work

I’m calling them time management tips that actually work, but I need to make a couple disclaimers before we dive in. First, these tips work for me, your mileage may vary. Second, I don’t always do all of these at the same time. Sometimes I’m good to be able to remember one or two. Other times, I get bored with what I am doing and flat out ignore them. You can probably guess how this works out for me.

I think that’s it. Let’s move on now.

Stop Multi-Tasking

Seriously. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, or at least it did to me, but it isn’t. Trying to do three things at once usually means that something gets missed or nothing gets finished. I’m a serial starter, but rarely a finisher. Focusing on one thing at a time, even for minutes at a time, has helped me tremendously with this.

Multi-Task

Ha. Yeah, I know what #1 said, but eventually I came to realize that multi-tasking wasn’t the issue so much as the activities I was trying to multi-task. Here’s an example, I’d put something in the oven and then run back downstairs to switch laundry or finish writing a blog post. Invariably, I would forget that I needed to do something else for dinner while whatever was in the oven cooked and that would set me behind. This always left me feeling like I was running in circles and never getting anything done.

Just recently I realized the “right” way to multi-task. Don’t leave the room. When I put something in the oven and have to wait 15-20 minutes, I find something in the kitchen to do. Like today, I put the chicken nuggets in the oven to cook and the apples were sliced and the carrots ready. Instead of leaving and doing something else on my huge, never-ending to do list, I cut up some cheese cubes and popped some popcorn for afternoon snacks. This actually saved me time later and I actually finished something. It’s a good feeling.

Make a List

I am a list person. I love making lists. It helps me to focus on what needs to be done and gives me a sense of accomplishment when I can check things off of the list. A word of caution though, don’t over do it. Don’t put every possible thing on your list that you want to do. That is a quick way to get overwhelmed. I actually prefer to keep multiple lists. Here are a few lists that you may find helpful:

  • Grocery and household needs – Keeping a running list makes it much easier to create my grocery shopping list each week. It also helps me to make the most of my trips out of the house because I like to keep those trips limited each week. Unfortunately, I often forget to actually keep a running list, but I rarely go shopping without a meal plan and grocery list.
  • Household to do list – This is where I write big things like declutter laundry room and I also write the things I know I can get done like eat breakfast. Somedays things like eat breakfast, get dressed, and make dinner are what a doable to do list looks like for me. I’ve learned to be ok with that.
  • Big project list – Sometimes we have a really big project that will take more than a day and I need the motivation of completing tasks that all work towards that end goal, but are doable. This is when I will take a big goal like declutter the basement, which will take days, and break it down into tasks that I can accomplish in a few hours or so. Examples would be clear craft table, reorganize book shelves, and take items to Goodwill.

Ditch the List

With my penchant for list making, I can often prioritize the list making process more than anything else. I’ll spend lots of time making it pretty to look at and organized. Then when I’m done, all motivation for doing the things on the list is long gone. Some days, I just need to look at what needs to be done and do it. Sometimes I can take hours in a day and focus on a big project and knock it out. Or I only have an hour between errands and just need to get the most pressing things done. Lists are great, but we do not want to be a slave to them. Use them like a tool and ditch them when they are no longer useful.

Delegate

Oh, you have no idea how hard this was for me. I didn’t know how hard this was for me. I have four children, four really great children. They are capable of doing dishes and laundry correctly if shown what correctly is. Yes, it has taken a lot of practice, but eventually we found a rhythm that means that they are helping around the house and I’m not going crazy over how they did things “wrong” according to my standards. I promise I’m not that strict, but I have certain things that I need to have done a certain way or they drive me batty.

Ultimately, it all comes down to balance and following where God is leading me each day. Some days, I need to multi-task and get things done and on others, I need to focus on one thing at a time to make sure those things are done well, with attention to detail. Sometimes I need a list to keep me focused and sometimes I need to focus on what’s in front of my face. And sometimes, I just need to let go and realize that not everything has to be done by me.

Be encouraged, ladies, you are not alone in this! And be sure to let me know if you have any time management tips that actually work, too!

ABC’s of Homeschooling Through the Holidays – W is for Washi Tape

It is no secret that I love washi tape, right? Well, today I am taking that love to another blog. I wrote a fun post for Heather’s ABC’s of Homeschooling Through the Holidays series. I chose W for…wait for it….washi tape!

I’ve put together a quick list of ideas for using washi tape for your holiday gift giving. The best part is, these are so easy that they are definitely kid-made-friendly. I’ve included a sneak peek of the post below, but you will have to head over to Life of a Homeschool Mom to read the whole article.

Homeschooling Through the Holidays - W is for Washi Tape

Homeschooling brings a freedom with it that our family quite enjoys. We love taking the last six weeks of each year to focus on gift making, cooking and baking, and other holiday fun. Today, I’d like to focus on the gift making and more specifically, gifts made with washi tape!

We are huge fans of washi tape in our home. I have grown quite a collection and we love finding ways to use it. I’ve rounded up a collection of ideas for using washi tape in your homeschooling this holiday season….

Continue Reading at Life of a Homeschooling Mom

Homeschooling Through the Holidays - W is for Washi Tape

 

Kid-Made Washi Tape Ornament – Inspired by Paris: A Book of Shapes

My kids love to be crafty. Some more so than others, but occasionally I will hit on a project that they will sit and do for hours. These simple ornaments were just that for two of my four. The third is planning to make hers tomorrow. The fourth isn’t very interested at this point, I need to find some Minecraft washi tape or something.

This project came around when I joined up with the fabulous Melissa of Mama Miss and a LOT of the Kid Blogger Network bloggers to bring the kid made ornaments blog hop to life again. This has become an annual tradition that is a lot of fun. Last year, we made snowflakes.

This year, with Oliver being really into reading and having had the chance to see a lot of fun board books this year, I chose the book Paris: A Book of Shapes. It is part of a series of board books called Hello World and they are just the best little books. Such lovely illustrations and typography. Each book covers a concept like numbers, colors, or shapes.

Kid Made Washi Tape Ornaments - Inspired by the board book Paris: A Book of Shapes

Kid Made Washi Tape Ornament

This is another one of those simple craft projects that is only limited by your selection of washi tape. So consider this an enabler alert when I tell you to go ahead and stock up. 😉 You will have plenty of options for projects by the time I’m finished playing with mine so it won’t go to waste.

The steps for this were easy. We cut out shapes we found in the book from cardstock. The older kids cut their own shapes, I cut the one for my young preschooler. Then I let them go to town decorating their shapes with the washi tape.

Kid Made Washi Tape Ornaments - Inspired by the board book Paris: A Book of Shapes

My little guy is getting the hang of this crafting thing. The last time we did a washi tape project, he put somewhere around a pound of washi on his bookmark. It’s more of a display piece than a bookmark.

After we made the ones I needed to take a picture of, my little guy proceeded to craft for a good long time. This little guy likes to be busy and he likes to be independent. These ornaments are perfect for it. There is very little that he needs me to do for him (tying the knot mostly).

Once they were finished, we punched a hole in the shape and strung some pretty baker’s twine type string through it. We tied a knot to make a loop and voila! We had a super cute, super easy kid-made washi tape ornament. I think they turned out pretty great. How about you?

Kid Made Washi Tape Ornaments - Inspired by the board book Paris: A Book of Shapes

Kid Made Washi Tape Ornaments - Inspired by the board book Paris: A Book of Shapes

Oliver’s ornament. See? Note the impressive lack of washi tape weight. 😉

More Kid-Made Ornaments!

10 Days of a Kid-Made Christmas

Be sure to check out the awesome series. Melissa is doing a weekly wrap up, but there are 10 bloggers each day sharing a kid-made, book-inspired ornament. This is a great way to add some seasonal themed projects to your homeschooling this year.

Be sure to check out the other bloggers participating in the first day with me:

10 Days of a Kid-Made Christmas