Rembrandt Art Activity for Kids

My daughter drew a self-portrait like Rembrandt.

Everywhere I go I see people taking selfies. Whether in the mall, on a beach, or eating dinner at a restaurant, iPhones are out and the camera is clicking. The photos are then posted onto social media for the world to see. Before iPhones, and way before cameras artists were required to have a portrait created.

Rembrandt was a Dutch artist who lived during the 1600's and painted in the Baroque style. Throughout his lifetime he continuously created self-portraits. Although most artists created self-portraits, very few seemed to create them as consistently as Rembrandt. It is believed that one reason he created self-portraits was to practice new techniques.

In studying Rembrandt we used several sources.

Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists: Rembrandt - Short biography of Rembrandt written for kids.

Raiders of the Lost Art - Rembrandt Episode - Available on Netflix

Ambleside Online Rembrandt images

Discovering Great Artists - Activity book for kids

In following the activity from Discovering Great Artists, my daughter had to create a self-portrait showing emotion on her face. When faces show emotion, the eyes, mouth, eyebrows and other features change shape. The people in Rembrandt's paintings usually contained expressions of emotion and he used self-portraits to perfect his techniques.

She stood before the mirror with an angry face to create this drawing.

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

Relations with Indians: American History for Kids

We read the book The Courage of Sarah Noble, observed animals and made a peace treaty.

When people from different cultures begin living in the same area there are instances of great cooperation and learning as well as unbelievable barbaric behavior. When people take the time to understand and appreciate differences wonderful experiences follow. On the other hand, when people view their culture as superior and have little respect for others, atrocities follow. American history is filled with both types of examples. Unfortunately, the second and tragic type is more prevalent. In teaching our children, it is important to study both.

As a brief introduction to this topic we read the book The Courage of Sarah Noble

Sarah Noble was a real little girl who lived during the1700's. Her family, like many families of the period, journeyed into Indian territory to begin a new life. Sarah and her father left before the rest of the family. Sarah cooked and helped her father while he built a house. Once the house was ready, Sarah's father went to fetch the rest of the family and Sarah lived with an Indian family. Despite the fact that they took good care of Sarah, her mother was still unsure. This beautiful example of cooperation teaches how people of different cultures can learn from one another if they open their hearts to mutual respect.

Native Americans were skilled hunters. One reason they were so successful was because they spent long hours observing animal behavior. Therefore, as part of learning about Native American relations, we spent a few mornings observing birds.

When one family or person is immersed into a foreign culture, they are not typically seen as a threat. After all, one person against many doesn't often work for long. However, when one culture is flooded with people of another culture, problems tend to arise. Each colony had their own way of creating relationships with Native Americans and we can learn from their successes and failures. Some made war while others made peace. Several constructed peace treaties. William Penn and the colony of Pennsylvania was one of the most respectful. He wanted not only people of differing religions to be treated equally, but included Natives as well.

After discussing different ways of structuring relationships, my daughter created a peace treaty.

For more American History lessons for kids, please visit Highhill Education again next week or visit our archives on our History Page.

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

Election Unit Study

We completed an Election Unit Study.

During the 2012 election year we spent some time studying the election.

Election Week Lesson Plan
Election Math
Election Books
President Song and Oval Office Craft
Contracts, Loans, Constitutional Freedoms

So when the authors at Silverdale Press contacted me asking me to review their Presidential Election Unit Study, I thought the timing was perfect for a more in-depth study.

The unit contains eight lessons beginning with the primaries and continuing through election day. Do you know the difference between the Primary and the General Election? What does it mean for a state to be winner take all? Which states are winner take all? The eight lessons in the unit explain each topic with a chapter followed by review questions, websites, and activity ideas. There are activities which draw on historical elections, as well as the current election.

The kids learned a lot when we added up the votes from each state and candidate from the primary elections. That way they could clearly see what was needed to win and why candidates would drop out at certain stages when it didn't look likely that they would be successful.Anothe r chapter we enjoyed concerned advertising campaigns and media. There were several references to television commercials of past elections which we were able to find on youtube.

Since the unit was recently written, the material couldn't have been more up-to-date. I found this unit very educational and for $30, with the election right around the corner, the timing is perfect.

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

Early Settlers: American History for Kids

We carded, spun and wove wool like the early settlers.

Many of the first American colonies were complete disasters, and despite devastating hardships, some managed to survive. Once settlers began to arrive in the new world, they had little contact with Europe and therefore had to be self-sufficient. One of their many chores was the making of clothing.

Before the widespread availability of cloth made possible from the industrial revolution, settlers had to create their own cloth. This was done primarily by carding, spinning, weaving and then sewing the wool from sheep. 

After a sheep is sheared, the wool needs to be cleaned as it is full of feces, dirt and plant matter. The next step is to card the wool. Basically carding is brushing the tangled hairs to straighten them out. Much like a long haired child's hair is brushed each morning. However, carding wool is done after the wool has been removed from the sheep and with large brushes with metal bristles.

Once carding is complete, the wool is spun into a ball of yarn. Twisting the fiber makes the strands stick together in a way that is difficult to pull apart. Spinning was originally completed with hand-held spindles as shown in the photo below. As time progressed spinning was accomplished with personal spinning wheels. Once the industrial revolution took place, spinning was done in factories with machines that automated the process making less work for the average household and greatly reducing the cost of fabric. Please see my Craft Page for more child spinning activity posts which include recommendations for purchasing supplies.

Once the process of spinning is complete, the yarn can be woven into cloth. There are countless weaving techniques which are used to either create simple cloth, or create cloth with detailed patterns. You can find several child-friendly weaving projects on my Arts and Crafts Page as we are a crafting family that has been doing weaving projects for several years.

Dying is the last step of preparation before the cloth is ready to be stitched into clothing. Actually, dying, or coloring of cloth can be done between any step in the process. The cleaned fiber, yarn, woven cloth, or completed clothing can all be colored using the same techniques.

The early American settlers used natural materials such as Forsythia blossoms, berries, leaves, oak bark, walnut husks, or coffee beans to dye their fiber. Each of these materials results in a dull hint of color. Today, food coloring, Kool-Aid, as well as commercial dyes can also be used many of which result in much brighter results.

The basic steps involved in dying wool is to gather the dye material.

Boil the dye material in water.

Soak the yarn, fiber or cloth in the boiling liquid until it takes up the color. The trick is to get the wool to take the color. To do this with most natural materials it is necessary to use a mordant. Mordants allow the dye to be absorbed by the fiber so that it won't wash away leaving you with beautifully colored fiber.

The early settlers faced many challenges and often perished due to their lack of understanding of life in the new world. Many were desperate for liberty, while others were taken to America. With time, the settlers learned how to survive in the new harsh climate and grew strong enough to fight their own oppression. Please join me in future weeks as we explore the motivations for the early colonists to relocate, their relationships with Native Americans and the beginnings of the Revolutionary War.

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

Weekly Sewing

This summer we took weekly sewing classes from my mom.

From purses, to bowls, to pillows and clothes....... if it can be made with fabric, my girls are into it! My mom has many hobbies, and sewing is one of her favorites. Every week she takes sewing classes at local fabric stores and proudly shows us her creations. After seeing her work we are always eager to repeat the projects. Therefore we scheduled a weekly meet-up at her house to sew.

This weekly activity turned out to be great in so many ways. My mom had the opportunity to review each project and teach it to three of us. Teaching the projects helped her to master each new technique. Having a weekly time ensured that we made the time to sew. So often we have intentions of doing something but never get around to doing it. Even though some weeks needed to be cancelled or rescheduled due to other appointments, having a scheduled time helped us to get together. Best of all, it was a fun and easy way to spend time together. All four of us really enjoyed sewing together.

Fabric Bowls with Embroidered Pictures

Small Quilted Purse

We enjoyed sewing together so much that we decided to continue the activity during the school year. We plan to make pillows, skirts, and more.

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

First Colonies: American History for Elementary

We read books about three of the first American Colonies.

After studying Native American History last year, we began learning about American History after contact with the Europeans. Once America had been discovered by the Vikings and rediscovered by Columbus, Europeans began to come. Eventually they had contact with Native Americans.

I enjoyed the way the book Encounter by Jane Yolen tells of one such encounter from the Native American perspective.

It wasn't long before Europeans began building settlements in America. Roanoke, Jamestown and Plymouth were three Early American Settlements with very different stories.

Roanoke: The Lost Colony - Roanoke will forever be known as The Lost Colony. During the days of Queen Elizabeth I, Sir Walter Raleigh was authorized to start a colony in America, but due to ill preparation and a political war between the English and Spain the people disappeared. What happened to the colony remains a mystery.

Pocahontas has long been hailed an American hero. Jamestown was another early attempt at colonization by the English which would not have been successful without the help of Pocahontas. She not only saved the life of Captain John Smith, but warned the colonists of threats by her people. To the Native Americans she may have been considered a traitor, but to the Americans she was a hero. I think this is an interesting discussion point to help young children begin to take a more objective look at historical publications.

Who's that Stepping on Plymouth Rock? - Plymouth was the colony of the Pilgrims and made famous by the traditional Thanks Giving story. These early colonists were helped by another Native American, Squanto. The Pilgrims were a group of separatists who came to America seeking religious freedom. The group, consisting mainly of wealthy citizens, were ill-prepared for life in America. Despite the teachings of our traditional Thanks Giving story, further research reveals how these early Americans nearly starved to death because of the political principals of their colony. It is important for young elementary students to know of the existence of the colony, so that when they get into a more in depth study of American History, they can better put the events of history into context. This book, centered on the story of the rock, is a fun introduction for young students.

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

First Eggs

After nineteen and a half weeks my son found two eggs in the chicken coop.

Each breed of chicken has a different average time from birth to the day they lay their first egg. Of our thirteen chickens, my son said the white leghorns would be the first to produce eggs. He was right! He could tell because the first eggs he found were white and White Leghorn chickens lay white eggs. Prior to finding eggs, he had been searching the coop for a few weeks, then on August 7th he found not just one, but two eggs in the coop.

The day he found the eggs, the leghorns were making very strange noises and one was digging like crazy in the pine shavings. After only three additional weeks we were getting around five eggs per day from our flock of thirteen chickens. He sometimes finds them in the nest boxes, sometimes in their roost area and sometimes even on top of the water dispenser. Now every day is like an Easter Egg hunt for my son.

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