Homeschooling Middle & High School Fine Arts

Blog, She Wrote: Homeschooling Middle & High School Fine Arts

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We’ve made it to Day 5 of the iHomeschool Network’s Winter Hopscotch 2014. Today’s topic is homeschooling middle & high school fine arts.

Strategies for Homeschooling Middle & High School Fine Arts

Fine Art is likely some of our kids’ least favorite subject as a teacher, but our 8th grader is a lovely creative soul who challenges and delights us in this area of our homeschool. We use a variety of methods to teach fine arts.

  • Homeschool Co-op Our family participates in a co-op that meets for two hours for 10 Mondays during the fall and spring semesters. It’s a low key co-op which focuses on the extras over the academics. So, we have art and music classes offered there quite a bit. Below are some examples of classes my kids have taken at co-op.
  • Choir- We have a homeschool choir that meets through co-op and our 8th grader joined my husband in our adult church choir. It’s a four part + choir which meets weekly and presents challenging music.
  • Guitar- Our 10th grader took a beginning guitar class at co-op last semester and has taken video courses at home.
  • Dulcimer- Our 6th grader made a dulcimer last fall and plays it. Such a great class taught by our pastor at homeschool co-op. Click the link (in the text or picture below) to see I11 play his dulcimer.
  • Art Classes- There is always an art class offered by talented parents.
  • Offering Supplies- We keep our supplies topped off and make ample time available for their use. They get used a lot, but mostly by our daughter who loves to try out things and learn new techniques.

Blog, She Wrote: Homeschooling Middle & High School Fine Arts

While co-op does not meet enough to meet the requirement by itself, the classes enhance what we do at home to round things out. At home we offer basic music theory and art lessons. For high school graduation only one credit of fine arts is required and our 10th grader is opting for art to fill the requirement and we’ll do that over the four years in high school- about a 1/4 per year.

Our Favorite Curriculum & Resources for Middle & High School Fine Arts

We have some great resources for teaching fine arts at home. Some are long time favorites and others are new to us.

  • Five in a Row- Literature unit study program which has lovely, very accessible art lessons.
  • Harmony Fine Arts- We use everything from Barb’s tutorials and blog posts to her curriculum for various ages and stages. What makes it all the more special is that we’ve met Barb and our daughter adored their time together. We still talk about how much they had in common in the art and nature world!
  • HodgePodge- Of course we love Tricia and Nana’s chalk tutorials! Accessible and fun and a soothing part of the day any time you pull them out.
  • Artistic Pursuits- We have one of the middle school years and I like to use them with Harmony Fine Art units.
  • Craftsy, YouTube- And other websites like blogs which offer tutorials are places where our kids will go to learn a new skill. My 13yo loves to read for this sort of information and try it out.

Blog, She Wrote: Homeschooling Middle & High School Fine Arts

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Join other iHN bloggers to see how they approach fine arts instruction in their homeschools.


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FIRST LEGO League: Science, Technology, & Teamwork

Blog, She Wrote: FIRST LEGO League- Science, Technology, & Teamwork

I don’t blog enough about our FIRST LEGO League teams, but I’ll be catching you all up to date this season. This is the fifth season for our sponsored teams. Our homeschool group started with one team which grew into two teams coached by Dan and another homeschool dad engineer. We have lots of parent help and the teams practice together and so far have done well in competition together as sister teams. This is both teams’ third chance at going to the next round of competition. This year LEGO Da Vinci won First Place Grand Champion while the Disaster Masters won the Project Award.

FIRST LEGO League (FLL) begins with the FIRST Mission

FIRST was started in 1989 by Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway, to inspire kids to become scientists and engineers. FLL is all about the science and research with the LEGOs being the hook in a high energy atmosphere.

Our mission is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.

Mr. Kamen had a vision:

“To transform our culture by creating a world where science and technology are celebrated and where young people dream of becoming science and technology leaders.”  Dean Kamen, Founder

FLL Has Three Components

  • Research project- based on a theme. They must research the theme, choose a topic to become experts on and come up with an innovative solution to a problem they discovered a long the way. They get judged on their solution, how they contacted and worked with experts in the field, and in their presentation of their findings.
  • Robot- including programming, design, and performance. Teams must design and program a robot to perform missions in the robot game. It also includes their presentation to the judges about their robot.
  • Core Values- this is all about teamwork and gracious professionalism. Are teammates working together and treating others they encounter well? At the competition they have a team challenge to complete which tests them in their ability to work together well.


FLL Requires Commitment

The teams practice seven hours a week- one hour at co-op during the semester when Dan teaches the class and two other three hour practices during the week. The guys on LEGO Da Vinci are coming to our house, where we have the table set up, to work on missions this week for some bonus time.

Enjoy a look at just one of the missions. They have just 2.5 minutes to complete as many as they can. Next time I’ll share about their research project. The theme this year is Nature’s Fury and their research has been on blizzards.

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10 (or so) Best Tinkering Gifts for Your Inventor

10 Best Tinkering Gifts for Your Inventor

This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

It’s that time of year when parents everywhere are looking for gift ideas for Christmas. Inventors can be hard to buy for especially when they are young and still have big ideas! Enjoy a look at some of the best tinkering materials we’ve found for our young scientists and inventors.

Electronic Gifts for Your Inventor

Snap Circuits- These are snap together electric circuits with many maps to build and tons of add ons. These circuits are easy to use and easy to please since the connections are rock solid. We have an oscilloscope interface for our computer along with the alternative energy kit. Don’t miss out on Snap Circuits Green.

Old Electronics- What engineer doesn’t like to take things apart to see how they work? We have a pile of old machines we remove the power cord from so that our inquisitive 8yo can enjoy how things go together and what their components look like.

Arduino- (for middle and high school) these are microcontroller kits which you can add sensors to and enjoy. J8 cannot wait to get his…shhh…

Raspberry Pi- (for middle and high school) card sized Linnux computer you can program and use.

Blog, She Wrote: 10 Best Tinkering Gifts for Your Inventor

Books for Your Inventor

Cool Stuff and How It Works- (and the 2.0 version) This book is full of fun gadgets and tells how the technology works. From LED lights to LCD screens, this book has all the good stuff.

The New Way Things Work- a huge encyclopedia of items and drawings sure to keep your tinkerer involved.

The Unofficial LEGO Mindstorms Inventor’s Guide- full of robots to build and programs to run them.

NXT Power Programming: Robotics in C- Great guide on programming in C with your Mindstorms Kit. J8 adores this book and is sad he can’t program in C during FLL.

Advanced NXT: The DaVinci Inventions Book- another great book using Mindstorms.

C++ Programming in Easy Steps- Inventors like to be fiddlers at the computer too. J8 has read this one cover to cover and writes his own code.

Beginning C++ through Game Programming- another book our inventor loves.

Building Essentials for Your Inventor

Keva Planks- love these plank blocks that allow you to build complex structures. The more the better!

Erector Sets- The best part about these sets are the tools kids get to use!

LEGO Contraptions Books- Technic pieces you can use with regular bricks to build machines from the book.

Physics for Your Inventor

Solar Kit- large pieces which are similar to LEGO technic pieces which you can build lots of solar vehicles. This holds great interest at our house because we have a large array of solar panels on our roof and we do a lot with real time monitoring of our energy usage.

Deluxe Physics Kit- this is an advanced physics kit teaching all sort of concepts in physics using technic type pieces.

Blog, She Wrote: 10 Best Tinkering Gifts for Your Inventor

Robotics for Your Inventor

LEGO Mindstorms NXT & EV3- NXT has just been upgraded to EV3 with the release having been late summer this year. While we plan to get an EV3 kit at some point, we are heavily invested in NXT and we’ll continue to use it. Our family is a long time FIRST LEGO League family with Dan coaching and running a JR FLL event annually. Our kids participate on teams and they play at home. This has been a great investment for our family.

Remote Control Machines- this is a great kit for building machines and powering them with the remote control. A nice one for elementary aged kids and up because the pieces are larger than LEGO Technic pieces and there is no programming involved.

Blog, She Wrote: 10 Best Tinkering Gifts for Your Inventor

Other Necessities for An Inventor

Don’t forget some of the most important items for any inventor that cannot be bought.

Workspace- a place for your inventor to have ongoing projects and his work all around him.

Time- Inventors at any age need the time to tinker. Leave some margin in your routine for those explorable moments.

christmas-gift-listsVisit other iHN Bloggers to enjoy other Christmas Gift Lists.

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