Thursday, March 5, 2015

Unschooling Arts and Crafts

In the summer of 2014 we decided to explore an interest based approach to education. While we haven't been pure unschoolers, the kids have had a lot of free time to explore their interests. Each child is unique. My oldest spends hours per day reading, while my son experiments. My little one likes me to read to her, but they all three have put hours into arts and crafts projects. Here are a few.

My seven year old has been experimenting with perspective drawing. A while back we watched a video on drawing people in perspective. Now she finally has more time to explore.

While on vacation in the Netherlands, we visited the Van Gogh museum. My seven year old, who doesn't care for any museums, loved it. At the end, she insisted we buy a book from the gift shop. When we returned home, she tried recreating a few Van Goghs.

My oldest can't get enough photo editing. She loves to dance and is very creative, but could use a little practice working with computers. So I introduced her to gIMP, a photo editing program and showed her how to find a few tutorials on the internet.

She took it from there, creating almost 30 edited photos. Next, I'm planning to introduce her to a scrapbooking program so she can put her pictures into a book.

My seven year old completed a latch hook rug she received for Christmas.

My son watched a video on how to change a quarter into a ring. We still need to get the proper tools to finish the job, but he took it as far as possible.

My son also remembered our perspective drawing tutorials and looked up another on drawing a house. Maybe we will move to one like this? I think it's pretty nice.

She decided she wanted a dress, and got busy sewing.

After reading about Chinese New Year, my daughter went crazy making Chinese lanterns.

Bottle cap collecting became a hobby of my son's over the summer. He has hundreds now, so I bought him an unfinished wooden box and he's been hot gluing the bottle caps into a decorative design.

My son decided to make himself a musical instrument with cardboard and rubber bands.

My 13 year old crafter, crocheted a hedgehog from a pattern she found on the internet.

We seem to start and end everything around here with dance. Lots of detail and time went into this needle felted dancer created by my 13 year old daughter.

I'm finding that by giving my kids lots of free time they use it doing high quality activities. Centered around crafts, they are learning computer skills, reading, a little math; mostly pattern, and learning a bit about history. I've been supplementing their activities with some math and writing on a daily basis. In addition, I spend one-on-one time reading books and doing music activities with each child based on their interests. My son has several science kits that he likes to explore, and once or twice a week I ask if they would like to watch a science based movie and they are usually up for it. This relaxed approach has taken so much stress out of our school days and really seems to be working!


  1. These are amazing! You have quite a talented bunch :) . I have been trying more lately to add more free time for my kiddo to experiment as well. These projects are awesome ideas and they look great!

    1. Thanks for your kind comments. I know it looks like a lot, but keep in mind that these are projects produced by three different kids over the course of several weeks. My girls love arts and crafts.

  2. Great crafts! For many years, we were workbook schoolers. When we changed to a multi-age curriculum, we started doing art. I love it! We've been blessed to review some art curriculum, too, which has been wonderful.

  3. All of these activities look great! I would love to do more interest led learning and I am curious how much guiding you do. I have a 7&10 year old girls and in there free time they just want to play and then play some more. They pretend to be characters from there fav book and that is what they do all day long. Not sure if I should make suggestions but when I tend to do that they are not interested. Any insight would be greatly appreciated:)

    1. My kids also love to play and spend lots of time with their stuffed hedgehogs. The trick is to find something they are interested in and then introduce them to a new aspect or level of difficulty. For me, this is easy when it comes to my girls and arts and crafts. When it comes to the same topic, it takes several attempts from me to inspire my son the same way. He however, is much easier to inspire when the topic is science based.

      All subjects are important and I strive to inspire my kids in them all. For example, as I mentioned before, they love to play with their stuffed hedgehogs. They have given them voices and personalities, so I often suggest the hedgehog adventures are written down in story format. Usually they only write about their hedgehogs when I tell them it's time to do some free writing.

      As for how much guiding..... That depends on the project and subject. If they have interest, I will help them through and let them go when the get the hang of whatever it is they are working on. When it comes to reading, writing, and math, I'm not willing to use inspiration alone. Those topics are too important to me. If they are not inspried, they are required to work in these areas.

      I'm definitely NOT always successful when I suggest activities for the kids. I just keep trying.


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