Integrated Learning


Have I mentioned before that I love homeschooling? 😀

We had the perfect opportunity to make practical use of our art lessons as we prepared for the weekend’s party.

What’s analogous with red?

What is the complimentary of purple?

What do you think I should use as a background colour?

Our conversation was dominated by our art for huge chunks of the day.

Here are some of the offerings we produced to help our friends celebrate..

Miss Eight worked until she was very tired of colouring!

We photocopied the work, then used double sided tape to attach to larger sheets of brightly contrasting, coloured paper;  though these photos are straight from the sketchbooks, before they became cards. 🙂

They took a long time to create , as planning the colours was a challenge.

The day before the party, we were asked to produce a kombi van sign, welcoming guests to the party.  I anticipated it would take two to three hours, but it took us eight hours, often with two of us working at a time.

Part of that was my inexperience, as I sketched the pic on the cardboard our friend wanted the sign made on while at her house, and then took it back to my Mama’s house to paint it.

Of course, when I primed the cardboard (so the paint wouldn’t absorb) I then had to sketch it again from scratch, and paint is not a medium we have explored much, so there was plenty of trial and error.

We had heaps of fun producing the cards and sign.  A little more time would have been great, as we had more ideas to improve the picture than we did time to implement them.  The necklace the driver is wearing is beads threaded on twine, and taped behind the cut out.  We would have liked to make the surfboards with a similar 3D effect, but time was a pressing issue.

Over the course of the last week or two, we have explored a lot of imagery associated with the hippie culture, taken a hard look at fashions, and read up on some of the forces driving the movement.

I love that we have time to stop and follow the bunny trails life brings our way 😀

In response to the comments in my last post, in the next couple of days (God willing that I am organised enough!)  I will put up some party pics in a password protected post.  Those who participated in the comments in the last post will receive the password by email, but regular readers, feel free to request it if interested. 🙂  (Of course, lurkers, axe murders, etc, need not apply 😛 )


Itsy Bitsy Art History: Pro Hart


Opening of the Sydney Opera House by Pro Hart

It’s time for a bit of Australia. 😀

Interesting snippets:

  • His real name was…. Kevin.  He was dubbed “Professor” by his friends, as he was always inventing things. This is how he came to be “Pro” Hart.
  • Even though three of his works were purchased by HRH Prince Philip, one of his paintings hangs in the White House,  and his works are held by galleries the world over, the Australian art elite were inclined to lift their collective noses at his style.

Pro Hart

  • He was a distance ed. student ( Coooool! 😀 😀 ) and grew up on a sheep station near Broken Hill.
  • After completing his formal education, he went to work in the mines.
  • He painted, sculpted with metal, used cannonballs of paint to fire at canvasses, and drop balloons full of paint in his artistic explorations.

Pro Hart rolls royce

  • He collected Rolls Royce cars (and…umm…. painted them.)
  • He was a conspiracy theorist, and once suggest that the ALP and the Greens be thrown aboard a canoe in the middle of the Tasman Sea, with nothing more than a broken oar and a rusted compass.  That’s not why I chose him – honest! 😀 😛 😉
  • And lastly…..who could forget this advertisement?

I regret that I couldn’t find a single resource aimed at children on Pro Hart, so I have created a simple Pro Hart crossword you can download, with Pro Hart Crossword Answer Key.  I have no idea why, but they will open in a new window, and you can download from there.

If you would like to futher enrich your studies of this Australian art icon, you could always find a Rolls, and let your dear children have a go at painting it in Pro’s outback style.  Or you could visit someone with with light coloured carpet and follow the insect theme.  The possibilities are endless…. 😉

Lesson 5: A Colourful Apple


“No shadow is black. It always has a color.”
~ Renoir

colourful apple

This lesson was useful rather than fun.  The goal was to learn to observe colour, and to teach the beginning student the use of colour for shadow, without resorting to black.

The younger students had a surprisingly difficult time mastering the shape of the apple, and for this reason I am inclined to ignore Mr Stebbings directive to always draw in colour pencil. Colour pencil is close to impossible to erase, and with the disheartening smudges left after several attempts to reach a product they were happy with, a lead pencil seems kinder.

After teaching this lesson with the Friday group, it was much smoother sailing and a fairly quick lesson for the Thursday group.  If you must lead a group of children for this activity, I highly recommend either doing the lesson first before attempting it with a group, or re-writing Mr Stebbings instructions into point form.  While the instructions are easy enough to follow,  they are difficult in the form presented when each child works at a different pace.

“When you go out to paint, try to forget what objects you have before you, a tree, a house, a field or whatever. Merely think here is a little square of blue, here an oblong of pink, here a streak of yellow, and paint it just as it looks to you, the exact color and shape, until it gives you own naïve impression of the scene before you.”
~ Monet

Lesson 4: Colour Chart


This was a truly valuable experience.

The object of this lesson was to experiment with coloured pencils to see how a combination of colours can create new colours.

colour mixing experiment

As we are using the text (Barry Stebbing’s Feed My Sheep) as a reference rather than a workbook, it required drawing a lot of little circles first.  Very tiresome business, that.  It was also impractical for my class of little people in the park, so I created a pdf which you can download and print out, experimenting with colour mixing, including suggestions of colour combining to try. {It will open in a new window, and if you click it there, it will download.  I have no idea why it opens in a new window. =) }

For this activity, if it is at all in your power, purchase for your children a large set of colour pencils.  Twelve pencils is a desperate kind of torture to a child who loves to use colour.  Thirty-six is better, but a set of fifty Crayola will set you back about $20 and bring hours of unmitigated joy. 😀

Label the colours as you create them if you choose to complete the activity in your sketch pad, and this will be a valuable reference for future drawing use.  I have seen a new and adventurous attitude to colour among my own children after completing this exercise.  It will empower your little people to be daring with colour!

coloured pencils

Lesson 3: Secondary Colours


I loved this lesson!  This was a challenging lesson for the children (and some of the grown ups 😉 🙂 ) but the sense of achievement was pure delight!

The first task was to apply the theory of secondary colours to three drawings.  Each had to be coloured using only primary colours, to produce secondary colours as the final result.  While most children despaired at first, after holding their work at a little distance they were able to see how they had achieved mixing colours with pencil.

secondary colour mixing

The second task elicited groans of despair and disbelief that I would require such of them. 😀  It was to copy a picture of two ducks, and to then use primary colours to create a colourful picture.  The result should include primary and secondary colours.


It was a lesson for me in communication, as one dear student misunderstood the instructions and coloured her ducks green.  When I (as nicely as I could) enquired why she had given her ducks cholera, she explained that if she could only use green, purple and orange…

Miss 7 was very proud of her results, and attempted this task several more times after this first effort. (You can see this was done before we had the talk about using a ruler to make your borders!)

miss 7's ducks

There really was a lot of opposition to this task from both art groups, but everyone was so pleasantly surprised at how well they did, and  there were many ducks drawn in the students free time to attest that a challenge is often a good thing 🙂

This lesson was great for teaching secondary colours, and for stretching the students in their perception of their abilities.

Itsy Bitsy Art History: Vincent van Gogh


starry nights

Interesting Snippets about Vincent van Gogh:

  • Vincent was a poor man living on the charity of his brother, Theo, and the generosity of his paint supplier.  Because he could not often afford to pay models to sit for him he painted over 30 self portraits – to sell, and to develop his skill.
  • Vincent wrote over 800 letters to his family.  He wrote about all aspects of his life; his art, his health, his feelings.  You can read his preserved letters by topic at Van Gogh’s Letters.
  • In his early life, he was a preacher in Belgium.  He was dismissed from his post for trying to live among the poor miners as they did (which were poor conditions indeed!), and his actions were considered far below the dignity of a minister.
  • He had lots of nightmares.
  • Starry Nights, his most famous painting, was created while he was in hospital.
  • He created over 2000 art works, but only sold one in his lifetime.
  • He died violently, at the age of 37.

Teaching resources can be found at the National Gallery of Art website, for different age students.

The Van Gogh Museum website has colouring pages to print, and instructions for making your own diorama.

Enchanted Learning has a printable “Starry Nights” colouring page.

A project to try while enjoying “Starry Nights” with your children, is to give each a large piece of black construction paper (thin card) and a bucket of colourful chalks, and have them draw their own “Starry Nights”, or copy Vincent’s.  You will need to give it a light spray with a sealer, or aerosol hairspray to set the chalk and prevent it from smudging.

For the wee folk, there is a page of lesson plan ideas on Vincent’s sunflower paintings.


You might like to try creating a shadow box bedroom after viewing  “The Bedroom”.

the bedroom

I hope you enjoy exploring the life and work of Vincent van Gogh!

Lesson 2: Primary Colours and Creativity


This was a fun lesson, though with elements that were too difficult for the younger members of the group.

Continuing with primary colours and colouring with line, lesson two introduces the concept of depth in drawing.  The first task was to draw geometric shapes overlapping,  and colour them with breathable colours.

overlapping shape

After mastering basic shapes, it is fun to try the same activity with letters.

lesson 2b

The second task was to design and colour a contour drawing.


Many of the children felt hesitant to attempt this, but enjoyed the activity when they realised there is no “wrong” result.


The last task for this lesson was to draw a chair and other items in your kitchen.  I’m not sure what the author was thinking, as it seemed a difficult task for children who had (at least not in this program) not been introduced to perspective in drawing.  There was a deal of frustrated effort in the first class, so I omitted this activity from our second class.  When colour theory was the objective, I could see little to be gained from attempting a perspective dominated drawing.


The children enjoyed the contours so much that they have done several in their own time, and the point was roundly taken up about drawing the foremost shape in a picture first when overlapping shapes.  Discounting the third task, this was a fun and useful lesson.

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