Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Under the Sea Bathroom for Children

A few I painted these fun murals for my kids' bathroom which were a lot of fun to do. My kids have enjoyed them immensely! Since I am no artist, I need all the help I can get and Donna Dewberry's books were wonderful to break down painting techniques into simple steps.

After painting the walls I found a shower curtain to match...

For a window treatment I used fish netting filled with seashells.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Daughter's Garden Bedroom from Texas

Now to catch up with some house remodel and quilting projects!

My daughter's favorite colors are pink and purple. Can you tell? This is a Double Irish Chain pattern for the quilt. I can't find a better shot of the bed. The bed skirt is a lavendar floral print. I did a sheer overlay, where I sewed both selvage edges to the seam and gathered to the top of the bed skirt. Inside I had slipped in large silk gerber daisies from my all time favorite store, Hobby Lobby, to pop against the purple bedskirt. (Sadly I never got great pictures of this.)


Then I painted this huge tree with swing in the corner. I am not an artist so if I can do this, anyone can do this! I used a Donna Dewberry book for instructions who lays everything out with easy to follow directions!


 We also purchased a limestone looking laminate countertop from Lowes for her desk. I wish I had gotten a close-up of the countertop because it truely looked like limestone! It was a snap to clean, which is a good thing considering she does a lot of craft projects here! It's quite durable and nice looking!

On the shelves over the countertop are lots of purple cups that I found at Hobby Lobby, along with other neat pink and purple cylindrical containers. I organized her craft supplies in each container: gel pens in one, markers in another, color pencils in another, scrapbook scissors in another, etc.    

I also painted a green picket fence around the room. It was really easy to do, measuring along the way with a yardstick and pencil.

The smaller bookcase is a picket unfinished piece I found somewhere. I painted that green with an antique effect, since the wood was rough.

The little white antiqued wrought iron bedside table was purchased at Hobby Lobby! I'm not sure where I found the purple lamp, but she loved it. There are little purple beads that dangle from the edge of the lamp. The flower picture was also purchased at Hobby Lobby!

The headboard was also purchased in raw wood at Hobby Lobby, which I painted green.


I found the tall bookcase in someone's garbage pile years ago. It was a country blue color, which was fine but most of the backing was gone. I asked my husband to rip off the last of the old backing and replace it with a new plywood back. Then I re-painted it country blue and put it in my kitchen pantry. Then we moved to this house where I put it in my pantry again, for a few years. When I started painting  my daughter's bedroom, I decided to give her the bookcase, which I repainted green to match the fence on her walls. Then I used Donna Dewberry techniques to paint flowers on the sides.

Here are close-ups of the florals with a more accurate rendering of the green color.



I made the bulletin board by hot glueing more silk gerber daisies (from Hobby Lobby) around the edge. The shelf above the bulletin board was made by my husband when my daughter was little. Inset in the center bottom portion of the shelf is a floral heart cross stitch I had done. The other shelving over the counter top on the right was purchased in raw wood from Hobby Lobby and we painted it green to match all the other furniture. Well most of all the other furniture. The rocking chair was purchased when my daughter was born, and I deeply considered for years whether to refinish the paint and redo the fabric or not on that.  In the end I never did. I finally sold it. The little pink butterfly mirror on the wall between the shelving was also purchased at Hobby Lobby.


I think it's a lot of fun to design a child's bedroom around a theme that they enjoy most. It sort of surrounds them in fun and comfort! Paint is relatively cheap and can pack a punch! I wish I had taken better pictures, but this was before I had a digital camera and blogged. Hopefully everyone gets the idea though...and this is a great memory for us to come back to!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Mosaics, Roman Arches and the Archimedes Screw-Ancient Rome Art Projects

When we studied Ancient Rome last spring we made the following art projects. I didn't have my own digital camera yet, so I have few process photos of any of our projects or schooling last year...or from previous years. However I'm looking forward to taking lots of pictures of our upcoming school years because I now have my own digital camera and I've finally learned how to upload photos to my computer and how to figure html code for blog posts!

Anyway, my kids' Ancient Roman projects are pictured below!   

Here are my son's art projects...

and here are my daughter's art projects...

Our focal art project was the mosaic. These are so quintessentially Roman, yet we see them everywhere today. We had to do a mosaic. We went to Hobby Lobby and picked some pretty colored tile meant for crafting a mosaic. My son chose bronze while my daughter chose pink. I also perused the mosaic tiling section and bought anything that looked necessary to do this project! I helped the kids draw the cross. It would be easiest to tile square tiles in a rectangular area for our first project.
We had leftover tumbled square tiles leftover from tiling our kitchen backsplash that I wanted to use to surround the cross.  I helped them carefully smash the tile outside. We wrapped it in a towel and smacked the bundle with a hammer. Then they agonized trying to fit the tile pieces to fill in the background. Now that we have done this, I don't recommend using these two types of tile. I thought I'd be saving money (which we did) and it would look pretty to have a neutral background to show off the cross (which it does). However pounding that kitchen tile was agony. Also it is much thicker. It stands a bit above the cross, which is now recessed a bit in the tumbled stone. All in all though, I like them a lot. Seven years later they are still displayed on a shelf in my kids' rooms.
Next I wanted to make the arch, which is also so importantly architecturally.  My son made his out of styrofoam, the type I use to poke my flowers into in the vase. He does not recommend this. Again I was trying to save money and again it was a huge challenge. He used an assortment of any tool he could find to whittle the shapes out. Then he used toothpicks to put it together.  Then he used a dull edge to etch some writing with his Roman name into the side. Then he painted it. I'm sure there's an easier way but he is quite the artist and it came out quite nicely.
None of us remember how my daughter made her arch. Because my son's project would have been too difficult for her, I think we used clay to make a flat piece.
My son also wanted to make a sundial. He took some cardboard and shaped it into a circle, then spray painted it with stone paint. He's super good with fiddling and he fiddled whatever he needed to make it look like that.
Meanwhile my daughter made the flower crowns for us and the jewelry, which are the square metal and jewel objects on the table.
Finally my son made an Archimedes Screw. Since he is in the fifth grade, I like to line up science with our history studies. Actually, he asked me to do this and I liked the idea! The Archimedes Screw (and the arch) were great science projects! I thought I had pictures of this but cannot find them. We used materials found around the house, like one of my many plastic storage boxes, rocks from the yard, a portion of our soaker hose that I asked my husband to cut, and water. It actually worked! I don't remember exactly how we made it, but many google searches can bring up ideas. Here is one I found.
 Since that time we have seen an Archimedes Screw at the Witte Museum in San Antonio that we were allowed to play with! Then while hiking on Assateague Island in Virignia he saw a real one in operation!
That's what I love about these projects. They are sometimes a bit of an agony to make, but the kids are so proud of them when they are done, and the memories linger. Later when we go out and about and see a masterpiece of what we tried to imitate, the kids immediately know what it is, how it was done, and they apprectiate the craftsmanship because they struggled to make a fair representation of one. Usually they stand there and say...Wow!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Greek Vase, Solar System, and more Ancient Greek Projects

For my daughter's speech on Greek architecture during our Greek history presentation, we bought a trifold posterboard in the color blue, to represent Greece.  Since she's not an artist (neither am I) I purchased a book on Greek architecture at Half Price book with a coupon. She cut out the beautiful photographs she wanted to illustrate the different types of explain her points and glued them on neatly with a glue stick. Her print and spacing isn't great, so we made labels on the computer.  As a result, she learned how to use other means to make a lovely product!

I have designed my son's science curriculum around our history studies. Since there were plenty of Greek scientific and mathematical discoveries, during science time he made models to display for the history presentation. (Don't you love when school subjects overlap?)   

Since we incorporate science with our history studies, this project made a great science project! As the Greeks studied the lights in the night sky, so did my son! He made this solar system from a kit. The balls of styrofoam needed to be painted then strung with string.  He hung it from a dowel rod which we set on top of our fireplace tool holder.  The fireplace mades a great backdrop!

This Greek vase was made from an extra vase I had (one of the cheap ones).  My son has made so many vases during our study of the ancients, so I've tried to have him use different mediums with each one. For this one he paper mached the vase, then formed the handles.  When it dried he painted it to look like a Greek vase.  He also made some 3D shapes (turquoise) bottom right corner.  DD did some string art (bottom left corner) using some of the geometric shapes the Greeks played with. Included in the display are the masks from our Aesop's Fable play, The Tortoise and the Hare.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Oil Lamp, Pottery Shard, and King's Ring-Ancient Hebrew Projects

While reading through the stories of the prophets of the Old Testament last spring, my daughter did a few quick and simple craft projects. She made an oil lamp out of clay that was baked and painted. She also wrote some Hebrew letters on a pottery shard, as the Hebrews might have done.

DD also made a ring with a seal like King Xerxes in the book of Esther had.  The she sealed this letter with it.  We had Grandma break the seal, open it and read the message inside. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

How We Reenacted the Feast of Purim

When we studied Esther from the Old Testament last spring, we reenacted the Feast of Purim like the Jews do. The kids made these shakers out of emptied and cleaned frozen orange juice concentrate containers, decorating them with paper and filling them with stones. The original lids were taped back onto the containers. These were given to my husband whose job it was to shake them at the appropriate moment.  I read the entire book of Esther aloud.  DD represented Esther and DS represented Mordecai with these masks (which were displayed at our Ancient Greek history presentation with other items).  Everytime I read about Esther or Mordecai, they stepped out onto the "stage" and pantomimed the actions I was reading.  Whenever I read about the dastardly Haman, my husband furiously shook the shakers and yelled, "boo!!! hiss!!!" 

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

How We Made Persian Friezes

 Last spring when we studied the Persians, we made friezes out of wallboard. Wear a mask during this project because dust can fly!

The dc peeled off paper on the side they were going to work on.  Then they had to keep it wet with a spray bottle and scraped in their design of choice. This is extremely inportant, to keep it wet, because of all the dust that flies. After they decided it was done, they painted it with a watered down glue solution to keep the dust from flying. Here is dd's butterfly and flowers.

Here is ds' under the sea.

Monday, July 23, 2007

How We Made a Model of Solomon's Temple

Last spring we recreated Solomon's temple, reusing as much as we could of the tabernacle.  We repainted the base white.  We were able to reuse much of the furniture.  We used cardboard to make the temple.  DS made new structures out of clay, baked and painted them.  This project was far more intricate and complicated than the tabernacle, so it was difficult to do.  We definitely appreciated the craftsmanship that went into the real temple.  We also saw that the basic elements of entering God's presence remained the same.

Making Casts from Molds to Make Art like the Ancients Did

Casts from Molds
Last winter we had fun making casts from molds, replicating the art technique of some of the ancient cultures we had studied.  

First the dc sculpted a form out of sculpey.  We did not bake this.  We wanted it to stay flexible.

Making the Mold from Sculpey Clay

Then I mixed up plaster of paris to pour into the molds.

Pouring Plaster of Paris

When they were dry, the dc painted them with copper paint to represent some of the ancient art.  This is actually how some of the art was done, even back then.

Mold and Cast

We kept both the mold and cast for the history presentation to explain the process.

Mold and Cast

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Ancient Phonician Projects-Purple Dyes and Shells

When we studied the Phoenicians last winter, we learned that they were traders in the color purple so we did a variety of projects related to that.

My daughter did a project where she died different shades of purple, using red cabbage that had been boiled on top of the stove.  We cut up several strips of white cotton in 2" widths and put them in the dye. One strip came out after 10 minutes, another after 1 hour, another after 5 hours, another after 11 hours, and the last after 22 hours.  After they dried we pressed them and stacked them on top of each other to form a color graduation from light at the botton to dark at the top.  We cut the strips into graduating sizes so that the different shades would show.  DD put it on black card stock and topped off the fabric with a couple of purple beads.  

My daughter also made a necklace with purple beads. 

My son made the murex seashell out of sculpy clay that he baked and painted.  This is the shell from which the purple dye is collected.   From the way it is laying, you can see the purple inside.

Ancient Phonecian Projects

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Making Ancient Mayan Pottery

When we studied the Ancient Mayans last winter, we learned about their pottery in fine arts class. The kids used Sculpy clay to shape pottery replicating the ones in their books.  After the Sculpy clay baked, the kids referenced their books to draw Mayan designs with a black marker.

Ancient Mayan Pottery

Friday, July 20, 2007

Making Pottery from Ancient India

Ancient Indian Pottery
When we studied Ancient India (the country) last winter, the kids made some reproductions of their pottery. First they paper-mached a blown-up balloon.  After it dried they painted it in shades of brown and orange.  I had them try to imitate some of the ancient designs seen in our books using a black marker.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Making Ancient Minoan Frescoes

While we studied the history of the Ancient Minoans last winter, we had fun reading about their frescoes, which we had seen on a History Channel program a few months before about the Ancient Greek culture. After learning so much about them, and with them being so representative of the Ancient Minoans, as well as being a huge art form, we had to make our own frescoes. 

I saved styrofoam trays from frozen meat that I sanitized in soap and hot water, then clorox. (Actually I did that for dd.  DS form was a round styrofoam plate.) 

Then I had the dc plan what they wanted to paint. Fresco painting must be done while wet and dries quickly...so first they sketched and colored on a sheet of paper their design.  I let them choose any design they wanted.  It did not have to be a copy of an Ancient Greek design like bull leaping, although that certainly would have been interesting.

Then I mixed and poured plaster of paris into the trays.  As soon as they started to set, the dc used their water colors to paint on the wet plaster.  After it completely dried we popped them out of the trays. 

Minoan Frescoes

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Visit the Great Wall of China through a Webcam

While teaching about Ancient China last year, we took a little field trip to the Great Wall of China through this link, which gives panoramic views from the wall.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Mystery of the Nile IMAX

While we were studying Ancient Egypt last year, the IMAX in downtown San Antonio was showing Mystery of the Nile which was extremely interesting. It is a modern day trip where adventurers travel by boat down the Nile, showcasing all of the fascinating things we had read about!  There are also teacher materials and a DVD to purchase. 

Sunday, July 15, 2007

How We Made Our Creation Books

While studying creation last year, I thought the kids would enjoy doing a mixed media type art project, pulling out all of the odds and ends from our craft box.  We cut the pages for each day in graduating sizes. These are the pages from my  son's book.

Day 1-Cut 2" wide.  Colored black on top and white on the bottom.  Days are numbered on the bottom inside of clouds. 

Creation Day 1
Day 2-Cut 3" wide.  Colored dark blue on the bottom and lighter on top.  Cotton used for clouds.

Creation Day 2

Day 3-Cotton for clouds.  Green yarn for tree tops.  Yellow yarn for ???

Creation Day 3

Day 4-Yellow yarn for sun.  White yarn for moon.  Foam stars.

Creation Day 4

Day 5-Yellow yarn for sun.  Green yarn for seaweed.  Fish stickers.

Creation Day  5

Day 6-Yellow yarn for sun.  Green yarn for tree tops.  Foam turtles and frogs. Fish sticker.

Creation Day 6

Then we bound the outside of the pages with scotch tape.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

How We Made the Tabernacle

While studying the Ancient Hebrews last year, I thought the best use of our project time would be to recreate the tabernacle that the Israelites built after they left Egypt. I knew this would be incredibly valuable for all of us in understanding the tabernacle and the temple...and Christ as detailed in Hebrews.    

Here are the directions for how we made a model tabernacle from scratch. We kept ours for our  later study of Solomon, so we could reuse parts of it for the Temple.

Tabernacle Model

First we analyzed lots of pictures of the real tabernacle and made notes from the Bible and other sources of details. Then we went to Hobby Lobby where I walk around looking at my list of what I need to represent parts of the tabernacleknowing and look for inspiration. My kids give lots of input too! Then I filled the shopping cart and set my kids to work!l

The base is styrofoam. While at Hobby Lobby I looked at what their supply, then laid them out on the ground to see what size would work best for us. I got 2 pieces to put together. I think the final size was about 24"x18", so the individual pieces must have been 12'x9". I knew glue would not hold them together so I stuck popsicle sticks into one side and mashed the other styrofoam piece into that and got one big piece. Then we pulled all our craft paints of browns and whites in varying shades and painted. (This is a great way to use up leftovers.) This takes forever!!! The styrofoam soaks up a lot of paint. We just let each layer dry and eventually it was enough. I think we started with a dark brown and when we ran out of that we went to another shade and hodge podge it all over. Being frugal in this way, using up my varying shades of brown, added dimension. You can't go wrong here. The idea is to simulate dirt.

Tabernacle Model

For the outer walls I used popsicle sticks and the cheapest white cotton fabric I could find. We put the popsicle sticks into the styrofoam, spaced apart about the size needed for the outer wall. I measured from the end of one opening to the other and cut that out of the white cotton lengthwise. Then while the popsicle sticks remained in the styrofoam, I measured from the base to the top and that is how wide I cut the strip of fabric. Then I took out the two popsicle sticks, one on each end of the entrance, and glued them to each end of the fabric with Aleene's Tacky Glue (in a brown bottle-for me  as good hot gluesticks without the burns and the million stringy pieces). Then we inserted them into the styrofoam and made sure the white fabric fits all around the "fence posts" and is tight.

Now for the Holy Place. I used cardboard from one of the boxes that ship to our house with books. I cut it down to size, making a U shape. We painted that dark brown.

For the door to the Holy Place and the door on the fence, I had dd weave red and blue yarns on a child's colonial loom I had purchased at Colonial Williamsburg in 2004. Then we put them in place. We took our dimensions from what was left of the opening on the white fence and the U shaped walls for the Holy Place. She also wove one for the curtain for the Holy of Holies. I looked high and low for the perfect fabric with angels, but couldn't find any. I had thought we could embroider cherubim on the weaving…but ran out of time.

DS used Sculpey clay to make all the furniture. That is easy to work with, bake, and paint. DS is quite the artist and has wonderful precision to detail (and takes f-o-r-e-v-e-r). He looked at pictures and I helped him decide on the right size to make things fit. I also helped simplify the method of making certain elements.

Model of the Ark

For the curtain coverings over the Holy Place, I looked in two sections of Hobby Lobby. Of course the fabric section. But also in the craft section (on the other side of the store) there are cool elements for felt, making masks…and samples of interesting "fabrics/leathers/etc" These measure about 12'x9".

For the first covering, a weaving of blue, purple, scarlet with cherubim…I think we skipped. We ran out of time to make it and I couldn't find a facsimile anywhere.

The second covering was of Goat's Hair which I found in the craft area of Hobby Lobby.
For the third covering of Ram Skins Dyed Red, we found a "fabric" like that in the craft section of Hobby Lobby. It's a type of felt.

For the fourth covering, Badger Skins, we found a black type of alligator skin looking fabric in the fabric section. I asked for 1/4 of a yard I think, and I cut that down to size.

Presenting the Tabernacle

This took a bit of time but the kids enjoyed the process and we learned the positions and purpose of each part, which I thought was important. Although I had studied the tabernacle in Bible studies, I could never remember anything until we did this.  It was a memorable project!

Lady Bird Johnson at LBJ Ranch

 Lady Bird's recent passing caused my family to recall sweet memories of almost a year ago.  Last year, during 4th of July week, we took a family field trip to one of my favorite places...the Lyndon B Johnson National Historical Park in Stonewall, Texas.  It's a full and wonderful day of touring all the wonderful places of his growing up years in the beautiful Texas hillcountry. 

We usually start the day in Johnson City, to tour LBJs Boyhood Home.  It's a lovely white home with green shutters in a tiny town.  Here, we learn the good stuff in LBJs life, including his mother's insistance on putting her stamp of education in her children's lives.  She used to teach them listening, oratory and debate skills, even including any neighborhood children who happen to be nearby.  She used a picture in the parlor to teach the warning of vanity.  I think I like her!  Eventually he attended the college where I graduated!  In college, I even lived on the street that bore his name!  

After this tour, we walk to his grandparent's settlement.  When I was little, we got to ride on a buckboard pulled by mules!  His grandparent's and great uncle were in the longhorn business.  While the men would be away at cattle drives, the women and children would sometimes have to hide under their dogtrot cabin during Indian raids.  Fortunately, it's more peaceful now, and we like to look for longhorn behind the wooden fence!

Then we drive to Stonewall, TX, less than 30 minutes away.  This is the location of the LBJ National Historical Park.  Here we get a bus tour.  This bus has 2 cars, hooked up like a train.  They give you commentary on the microphone, as they drive the tourists across the Pedernales River.  One of the first stops is the one room school house LBJ attended.  Next stop we get out of the bus to walk under huge Live Oak to his dog trot birthplace.  Then we walk back to the buses....but before boarding we are allowed some time to view the family cemetary where LBJ is buried.  Nestled above the Pedernales, under great Live Oaks, the place is peaceful. Last summer when we were there, the river was tranquilling spilling along and cattle from the LBJ Ranch were laying around enjoying the soft breeze.  We even sighted some deer.

Then back into the bus and we arrive at the actual ranch where LBJ and Lady Bird have lived.  This was a family ranch that LBJ loved visiting as a kid and finally came into ownership when his uncle (I think) passed away.  The house on the ranch came to be known as the Texas White House...for obvious reasons!  =)  In fact, when the bus tour starts, across the river from the house, you see the guard shacks of the Secret Service...of course they aren't as busy anymore.  We always have to stay in the bus when we get to the house, because it was still a private residence, home to Lady Bird.  Never did we ever see a person on the grounds...until last summer!  

A lady came out of the house and was waving to the bus...coming to the bus, and got into the bus!  Our chagrin was that we were in the back car of the bus, so had to listen to Linda Robb (LBJ's daughter) over the microphone...which wasn't working well that day. After a few minutes with them, she came to see us in our bus!!!  Linda asked all about us and where we were from, paying most attention to the kids.  She said she lived in VA and her mother wanted her to come to visit everymonth.  Lots of cousins would come in to visit.  They had just gotten out of the front yard swimming pool.  And while she was talking, her mother came out in a wheel chair, pushed by a nurse.  Lady Bird had a big smile on her face and waved and waved!  Linda said Lady Bird was thankful for every visitor to the ranch and wanted to greet each one personally, but couldn't.  So she always pushed Linda out of the door to be sure to talk to the visitors and wish them well. 

When I started this blog, I never dreamed I'd do a tribute to Lady Bird.  I have always admired who she was and her work.  Of course she is synonymous with preserving wildflowers.  Down the road another 15 minutes or so is the Wildflower Seed Farms. It's not affiliated by her...but I'm sure it was influenced by her.  Locally, she started a wildflower center in Austin.    

My love of the Texas hillcountry...how much of that was influenced by LBJ?  My love of flowers...how much of that was influenced by Lady Bird?  Hmmmmmm........     

Friday, July 13, 2007

How We did Overlay Maps for Geographical Features

I pulled from my geology studies background in college and from teaching third grade in public school to teach my kids with fun activities about mountain building and the massive erosion that created river beds, piles of fossils crushed into each other and covered with mud, huge canyons, etc.  After all of the hands-on activities (I'll try to remember to blog about them later.) the kids made an overlay map that I coordinated for them on the major geographical features of today that probably resulted from the Great Flood.

     We started with a base map of the world. This can be printed on paper or card stock, although I didn't realize that and printed it on a transparency.  When I did that, I realized I needed a paper backing of some sort so it would stand out. 

Overlay Map Prep

Overlay Map for Deserts of the World
Then we got a fresh transparency, hole punched that and added that to the 3 ring binder, on top of the base map.  The dc colored with a yellow sharpie, the deserts of the world. Then on a piece of yellow paper (lower left corner) they numbered and listed the major deserts.  Then they were numbered in black on the transparency (so they could all fit.)   The dc glued the yellow paper with the key to the desert information onto the transparency in a place where it would not be in the way of any information.

The next layer is for the mountains.  They used a brown piece of paper to list the major mountains of the world.  Then they used a brown sharpie to number these locations on the map. They could have even drawn some upside down v's for mountains.  I think they didnt' do that because there were already some on the base map that I used.

Overlay Map-Desserts and Mountains

The next layer is for the rivers.  They used a blue piece of paper, with a list of the major rivers.  Then with a blue sharpie, they drew in the rivers and numbered them.

Overlay Map Deserts, Mountains, Rivers

The final layer was for the Oceans.  For these they did not use any color coded paper.  You see a blue paper but that is the one for rivers showing from underneath.  For this layer they took a dark blue sharpie and wrote in the names of the oceans.

Completed Overlay Map

For our resource we used A Beka's 5th grade history text, Old World History and Geography.