5 Days of Homeschool Essentials – Art Supplies!

Essentials Art

Today is day 3 of Homeschool Essentials.  On day 1 I shared with you our most essential object, Our Child Training Bible.  On day 2 I talked all about our precious books!  Today I want to tell you about our art supplies!

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.  This year we are neck deep in a study of the Medieval Period. We have had a blast with this topic.  What little 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

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, water colors, 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 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.

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

So far this 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 comes down and goes back up, refined, from time to time.  They made their own catapults, bows and arrows, and long spears.  Noah (8) wrote an illustrated book on everything he knew about the Middles Ages.  Yes, my 8 year old son wrote a BOOK!  It was all his own idea.  He used the supplies I have 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.

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 over all.

A display board they turned into a castle wall complete with hanging Medieval weapons.

A display board they turned into a castle wall complete with hanging Medieval weapons.

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!

Come read what other Schoolhouse Crew Team Members think are essential in their homeschools.  Here are a few to get you started.  Click on the image below to read even more

Lisa @ A Rup Life
Jordyn @ Almost Supermom
Jenn @ Teaching Two Stinkers
Jennifer @ Chestnut Grove Academy
Brandi @ Brandi Raae
Wendy @ Simplicity Breeds Happiness
Jodi @ Insane in the Mombrain
Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break
Lynn @ Ladybug Chronicles

5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials

Following Where My Children May Lead… This Time… Horses

Following where my child leads sounds hard!  Last week when I started this series on Following Where My Children May Lead I shared a little bit about my latest reading, books and blogs, that are influencing our homeschool.  Everything I read about schooling this way makes me cringe!  It sounds HARD!  I think it is hard to let them have control and not know where the outcome will be.  I also think it can be hard to know which of your children’s many interests could lead to something meaningful and educational.  Plus, this is going to take HARD WORK to really make happen!

My seven year old son Noah has expressed an interest horses.  He seems to love all animals but horses in particular.  The idea of somehow incorporating this into his learning left me frazzled.  We don’t live on a farm!  I’m lazy! It’ll take work to FIND a farm! It’s winter! It’s cold!  I don’t think I even WANT to go visit a farm.  Plus, what good is ONE farm visit.  Really he’d probably need, and want, a whole bunch of visits.  That sounds expensive.  And exhausting.  UGH!  This is seriously what ran through my Mommy brain every time I thought about it.  If I’m brutally honest I’d rather he just take an interest…. I don’t know… workbooks!  Yes, workbooks!  They are easy, not messy, cheap, yeah! Let’s do lots of workbooks!  Ok, I don’t really mean that.  That doesn’t line up with my vision for our homeschool at all.  Workbooks have their place, and we use them!  But really I want more than that for my children.


This lead me back to our new tried and true method… lapbooks!  I refer to this company a lot, A Journey Through Learning, of course they have the perfect lapbook!  I bought it, downloaded it, and printed it off.  We loaded his kindle and library basket with a few more non-fiction books on horses and he was off and running, and dare I say… in heaven.  Yes, he had perfect motivation.  Mom was barely needed.

I knew I was going to be in trouble when the lapbook was finished.  A lapbook was not going to satisify this little boy’s passion for horses.  He wanted to know MORE!  He wanted to experiences horses, care for them, groom them, and yes of course ride them.  Mommy was going to have to get over her issues and figure this out.  But HOW?  That’s when an email hit my inbox.  I belong to a local homeschooler’s yahoo group.  Someone posted the perfect opportunity.  A Horse Lover’s Club.  2 hours of everything you could ever want to learn about horses including 30 minutes of semi-private lessons. They would meet weekly for five weeks.  And the price was absolutely reasonable, especially compared to other stables in our area.  WOW!  Just WOW!  This is it!  This is better than a 30 or 45 minute lesson once a week.  This just SCREAMED Noah’s name!  Just one catch…. I’d have to drive him 90 minutes one way to get him there.  OUCH!


Every fiber in my being wanted to just skip this.  I could keep it quite, Noah would never know.  I mean, did you read my list above?  It’s cold outside.  TWO HOURS outside just hanging around waiting for him? UGH! This would take up FIVE hours of my day in total, at least!  Truthfully, horses scare me.  I’m not really interested in spending any time with them.  Oh, and he COULD get hurt!  Then what!   Yep, I had a lot of selfish hangups working against me.  Like I said, staying home and finishing workbooks, or even a lapbook… way more my cup of tea.


Well, to make a long story short I got over myself and I signed him up.  My son is now a proud member of The Homeschooler’s Horse Lover’s Club!  We went for the first time the other day and I don’t think I ever saw any child happier. The smile, ear-to-ear, will be burned to my heart forever.  The time in the car is a Godsend.  In one day I learned more about how my son thinks, operates, and feels than I could have imagined.  We talked about God and His plan for Noah’s life.  We brainstormed how God might use Noah’s love for animals and horses, or karate, or anything else we might not even know about yet to bring Him glory in heaven.  We grew closer in just one day.  Noah got his horse experience.  He is learning care, and feeding, and grooming, and how to love one of God’s greatest creatures.  He is learning compassion, and tolerance for personalities, and he is exploring a great adventure.  He is making new friends and branching out into the world while Mommy stands on the edge, just watching… and admiring.  My boy is smarter and more courageous than I could even have imagined.  Thank you God.


My goodness my own selfishness could have ruined a great thing.  I’m glad I got over myself.  If I’m learning anything I’m learning that if I want my children to lead, then I need to GET OUT OF THE WAY!  Their own path is far more spectacular than one I could ever imagine for them.

Following Where My Children Lead… A New Series or Plant Based Enchillada’s

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I like to think of our homeschool almost as a living thing of it’s own.  It is constantly growing and changing, shifting and evolving.  What our homeschool looks like this year probably doesn’t look much like it did last year or what it will look like perhaps even next month.  I don’t want you to get the impression that we are not consistent or even unintentional in our learning.  We very much are.  There are some anchors that will never change.  For example, we will always study the Bible.  However, how we study the Bible this year will probably look different than the way we will do it next year.

On the one hand this drives me a bit nuts.  I agonize over things sometimes. With each and every change I weigh the pros and cons, pray, hem.. haw… wring my hands.  Yep, I’m a bit narcotic.  But I take this homeschooling stuff seriously.  Plus, if a change requires the spending of the family’s money, I have to be extra careful.  Every dollar can only go so far.  On the other hand, I recognize that the fluidness of our homeschool is a blessing.  It can change and evolve as our family changes and evolves.  It can be bent to meet each child’s individual needs in a way that just can’t be done in nearly any other learning setting.  The best part of all of this is we can take each child’s individual interests or passions and use them as a vehicle toward truly meaningful, engaging, and memorable learning.

Lately it’s that last part that I’ve been contemplating A LOT!  I REALLY want learning to be adventurous… and so far… there is some but not ENOUGH adventure in our homeschool.  At least not in my opinion.  I recently started reading Project Based Learning: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners by Lori McWilliam Pickert and I’ve been reading a series of blog posts all over the web by some great homeschooling Momma’s on something called Delight Directed Learning. For just a little peak click here and here.  Or simply Google ‘Delight Directed Learning’ and you’ll have enough links to keep you reading for a month! Generally, I’ve had my eyes opened to the idea that I have not been doing as much as I really can to encourage my children to learn through their passions.  Yes, I want to instill in my children strong reading, math, and writing skills.  I want them to experience great literature.  I want them to dive into fantastic science concepts.  I want a lot for them.  But really, what I want more than anything is for them to LOVE life and LOVE learning.  I know that will be most easily accomplished if I follow THEIR lead and roam where THEY want to go in THEIR learning.  It is their education after all.

We are headed into this path slowly but surely.  We began when I discovered a great company that produces some fantastic Lapbooks.  It is called A Journey Through Learning.  You can click on the link to learn more about them and what a lapbook is.  This company is so fantastic because they have SO MANY lapbooks ready to download, print, and dive into.  So… I asked my children… what do YOU want to learn about.  You should have seen the looks on their faces!  They were THRILLED!  THEY got to choose.

Ezra choose an express lapbook on cooking.  I wasn’t surprised at all.  Ezra has already shown a passion for cooking.  We call it an express lapbook because it can be completed in just one day.  After I reviewed the material I spoke to my husband as he is the real chef in our household.  I asked him if he might want to get involved.  Being the awesome Daddy that he is… he said yes of course!  This lapbook wasn’t going to be complete without a true cooking experience.  So that night, Ezra and Daddy completed the lapbook and cooked a great dinner…. Plant Based Enchillada’s.


Ezra helped Daddy read the recipe, gather materials, measure ingredients, mix, stir, scoop, set the oven and everything else need.



And then while it cooked the two of them completed the lapbook and Ezra wrote in detail about his experience cooking with Daddy.


I never saw a more proud and happy boy than when that food came out of the oven and everyone gathered around the table to eat.



Now we are on the hunt for a cooking class for Ezra.  I’d like to see him experience more cooking experiences both at home and with friends.  I think this is just the first step on a great adventure for him.  It was amazing to see him come alive for this project.  He poured his heart into the cooking and the lapbook.  He was careful with his reading, writing, spelling, and math.  He talked about it for days.  And once in a while Daddy invites him up to lend a hand with another dish.  Wonderful memories and wonderful learning.

Ok… so how about the recipe!

For our family of 5…


  • 10 Whole Wheat tortillas
  • 15oz can of black beans
  • 2 cups of Daiya shredded cheese (non dairy – found at Whole Foods and some Stop & Shop Grocery Stores)
  • 1 Tablesppon of garlic powder
  • 1 Teaspoon of chili powder (add more if you like it spicy)
  • 1 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 6 oz firm tofu

Mix all of the ingredients except the choose and spoon it into the tortillas.  Roll the tortillas and place into a pan lined with enchilada sauce.  Top with enchilada sauce and remaining cheese.  Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.

The Enchilada Sauce comes from one of my favorite plant based chefs… The Happy Herbivore/


  • 2 tbsp Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 1 tsp Cocoa – Unsweetened
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • Garlic Powder, granulated
  • 2 cups Vegetable Broth
  • (8 ounces) tomato sauce

There you have it!  Plant Based Enchilada’s!

Lapbooks are the first step toward a homeschool that is more centered on my children’s interests.  In the next post in this series I hope to continue this conversation and discuss with you how I’m changing our home to give my children the space they need to dig into their passions.  Until then Happy Cooking and Homeschooling!

ps.  If you’ve gone down this road ahead of me please share with me your experience.  If you are struggling to do this in your homeschool.. I want to hear about it.  If you have any great resources for me… PLEASE share! I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!