Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Grant Wood Art Activity

My daughter created a portrait painting inspired by Grant Wood.

In the course of studying the American Plain States, we looked at artwork depicting the plains and studied the artist Grant Wood. The above painting from the book Can You Find It America? was by the artist Paul Sample.

Grant Wood was born in Iowa and studied in Chicago. After traveling to Europe to study the masters, he returned to America to paint in a style entirely his own. We read the book Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists: Grant Wood to learn more about him.

One of Grant's most famous painting, American Gothic, shows a farming couple standing before a house. Since Grant Wood painted a portrait of people he was familiar with in the style of the Renaissance Artists, I asked my daughter to do the same thing.

In the past, she watched the youtube video How to Draw a Face - Basic Proportions, which really helped her to create this painting.

She worked on the image of the face adding shading and features.

Once she was finished with the face, she added her background which shows sand, water and the horizon. There is a boat, sea gull and sun in the background as well as a sunbather.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

US States Unit Study: Heartland and Mountain States

Lesson 8: Heartland States
Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas, and Oklahoma.

With fields covered in grain, this is Little House Country. Small towns and farmland cover the center of the United States. For us, these are the states we drive through to reach skiing in the west, but I wanted my daughter to gain an appreciation for the heartland states; The Bread Basket of America.

We read the following books to learn about the Great Plains.

Climbing Kansas Mountains - In Kansas the grain elevators are the mountains.
Eve and Smithy: An Iowa Tale - Gardens, gifts and neighborly love are celebrated in this picture book.
The Huckabuck Family: and How They Raised Popcorn in Nebraska and Quit and Came Back - Can you grow popcorn? This is a funny tale of the Huckabuck family experience.

Lesson 9:  Mountain States
Colorado, Utah, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, and Wyoming.

Wild horses, and ranching have long histories in these states which are also popular destinations for outdoor enthusiasts. Some of the nations best known national parks lie in these states including Yellowstone, Moab, and Glacier.

Learning about the mountain states we found three delightful books on cowboys. Jack Creek Cowboy gave a thorough picture of the life of a cowboy. It was quite a long picture book and good for children who are beginning to read chapter books to read on their own.

Once We Had a Horse was a simple story about two kids and their horse.



Tyler's New Boots tells the story of a boy going on a cattle drive. He doesn't want to get his new boots dirty.

A study of the mountain states wouldn't be complete without touching on Yellowstone National Park. The amazing land actually sits on top of a caldera volcano which is scary to think about. Here's an activity for kids to learn more about caldera volcanoes.- Yellowstone Caldera Volcano Activity




Once A Wolf: How Wildlife Biologists Fought to Bring Back the Gray Wolf is a great book for the animal loving child. Another book good for children beginning to read chapter books on their own, this book tells an amazing story of the history of wolves in Yellowstone. The video above goes well with the book.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Project 1: Home Decor Canvas Modern Art for Kids

Project 1: We used canvas, acrylic paints and tape to make a geometric wall hanging.

Since moving into a home in November, we have been watching lots of HGTV. The show Design on a Dime has been really inspiring. In each episode, the designer completely transforms one room by doing projects such as painting walls, recovering furniture, painting furniture and adding wall art.

There are so many creative ways rooms are transformed at little cost. In one episode a piece of leather was attached to the top of a small table with lots of decorative tacks. The results were amazing. The creativity is impressive.

After watching several episodes, my 9 year old and I were itching to create some wall art.

We began by applying masking tape to a canvas. The canvas was completely covered to keep the spaces even.

Then every other piece of tape was removed as that is where we desired color.

Then we added more tape at a 90 degree angle to the first set of tape.

Finally we began painting every other rectangle red and brown.

Before the paint was dry, the tape was removed.

Then more tape was added over the red and brown to create canvas space for additional color.

A cream color was painted in the empty spaces.

Then all the tape was removed and the painting was finished.


Sunday, April 24, 2016

US State Unit Study - Lesson 7: Midwestern States

Lesson 7: We read books about the mid-western states including; Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio and Missouri.

Settled by French fur traders, the mid-western states have a long history fur trading, fishing, shipping, and logging on the Great Lakes.


The book Paddle-to-the-Sea was an excellent spine books for this region as it was about a carved wooden canoe which floated with the current through each of the great lakes and to the Atlantic Ocean. Along the way, the canoe encountered ships, saw mills, animals and people each important in the Great Lakes region.

When we were finished with the book my daughter created a glitter map of the region.

First she hand drew an outline of the region on a white piece of cardboard.

Then she added the names of important cities and waterways including the major cities at each end of every great lake.

Next glitter glue was added covering each of the three different regions.

Finally permanent marker was used to outline the regions.

In addition to Paddle to the Sea the following books are fun to read with a mid-western state introduction.

Michigan is one of the top Christmas Tree producing states. One story of trees is told in The Christmas Tree Ship.

Near Traverse City Michigan lies a National Park consisting of huge sand dunes. The Legend of Sleeping Bear tells how the sand dunes and two islands in Lake Michigan came into being. The same author also wrote The Legend of Mackinac Island and The Legend of Leelanau, both of which we greatly enjoyed.



Older children can read Shipwrecks & Rescues: Forgotten Great Lakes History and younger children will enjoy listening to the stories. Some are tragic, so please pre-read this one if you have sensitive children.



Check out these great blog hops for more educational activity ideas.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

T-Shirt Design

My crafty 8 year old daughter customized a few tank-tops.

Computer time at our house is limited to 30 minutes per day at bed time. During the summer, my daughter used lots of hers to watch a series of video tutorials showing old t-shirts upcycled into new.

After watching several tutorials, she purchased a package of tank-tops and began cutting.







She added fringe, text pictures and unique cuts. It was a quick, fun and satisfying project for her and will be great for other crafty kids.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Lesson 5: Appalachian Highlands & Lesson 6: Southeastern States

Lesson 5: We learned about the Appalachian Highland states including: West Virgina, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky.



Studying this region of the country, I wanted my daughter to learn that it is rich in coal, country music and white water. The following picture books offer a glimpse into the Appalachian Highlands.

Mama Is a Miner is about just what it sounds. A mother works hard to provide for her family.

When I Was Young in the Mountains (Reading Rainbow Books) - Although I have generally tried to stay away from books that are more history based in favor of geography based books for this unit study, this one made the cut. Mountains are what Appalachia is about.

The Relatives Came - Set in Appalachia, this book tells the story of a family summer vacation.


Lesson 6: We read books about the southeastern states including; Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Arkansas, South Carolina.


The hot humid south, settled by the French and influenced by the Spanish still carries on a unique combination of traditions embedded into the culture. The following books are a good place to start learning about the southeastern states.

Cajun Through and Through
Elizabeth, Larry and Ed
Feliciana Feydra LeRoux: A Cajun Tall Tale
Georgia Music
Mimi and Jean-Paul's Cajun Mardi Gras
My Family Vacation
The Worst Goes South



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