Today is day 2 of Homeschool Essentials. On day 1 I shared with you one of most essential although basic items Book! Today I’m going to talk about our art supplies! (shhh, there is a big giveaway at the end of this post)

I know what you are thinking… Geeze Crystal, Homeschool Essentials? Books and Art Supplies? How basic can we get?  That’s my point though!  Why complicate things when the basics are what matter.

Why art supplies? Art supplies open up the world to my children so that they can take what they have learned and manipulate it, engage it, practice it, and expand on it.

In our home, my children will devour a stack of books on a topic and then go and create their very own projects with our art supplies based on what they learned. Let me give you an example from the past. A couple of years ago we were neck deep in a study of the Medieval Period. We have had a blast with this topic. What boys wouldn’t? Medieval means knights, castles, sword fights, jousting, and horses. Our library cart has been filled to the BRIM with every book our library can find on the subject. They’ve poured over these books for hours.

Our Art Gallery

Eventually, these books find their way to our art table. Nearby is a cabinet filled to the brim with paints, pastels, construction paper, scissors, colored pencils, watercolors, markers, drawing pencils, glue, craft sticks…. you name it! Supplies come flying out, and they spend hours inventing the very things they read about in the books. If things go well, they’ll use their creations to reenact the stories in the books they read. This process goes on for weeks. I can sit back and watch immense amounts of problem-solving, planning, negotiating with one another, rethinking, retooling, improvising, and improving. I have learned the best learning happens when I don’t interfere. My job is to provide the materials and perhaps some advice if asked. That’s it!

The art table – though most projects end up so big they do them all over the house.

That year they’ve created a room-sized castle from cardboard with GREAT detail. They beg cardboard from just about anyone. Fortunately for them, their grandparents work in a place with an abundant supply! The castle came down and went back up, refined, from time to time. They made their catapults, bows and arrows, and long spears.

Noah wrote an illustrated book on everything he knew about the Middles Ages. It was all his idea. He used the supplies I had on hand and created what I would have called a report if I had assigned it. I didn’t assign it though, he dreamt it up on his own, and I would say he did a far stellar job because it came from HIM, not me.

Our art cabinet.
We do have rules for the art supplies. They do have to ask me before they take something out but ONLY because I don’t want them digging out all of the paints 15 minutes before we have to leave for an appointment. It is also up to them to clean up everything every time. If they do not, then they will lose access that thing they left out. No one wants that to happen. They do a good job overall.

Between the books and the art supplies, my children engage in learning in a deeper and broader way than I ever would have imagined. My role is to provide the stuff and then get out of their way.
Yes, an abundance of art supplies… essential to our homeschool!

These days their art creations look a little bit different.  During a year-long study of ocean life, my Noah created an aquarium.  He used clay, tools, and paint to shape fish according to pictures.  Recently after studying the nation of Mongolia, they worked together to create a miniature ancient village. Their project making has grown and matured with them.