Posted on

Why STEAM Learning Matters In Your Homeschool

STEAM learning has become a popular topic in education today. The good news is, a STEAM approach to learning can add creativity and innovation to your child’s education. This summary of STEAM learning includes ideas and resources for how to easily and effectively incorporate it into your homeschool.

STEAM learning in homeschool

What Is STEAM?

STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math. It is essentially an integrated learning model designed to help children think more globally and problem solve.

Using STEAM education results in students who take thoughtful risks, engage in experiential learning, persist in problem-solving, embrace collaboration, and work through the creative process. These are the innovators, educators, leaders, and learners of the 21st century! 

Arts Integration.com – “What is a STEAM Education?”

A STEAM approach encourages students to ask questions and think creatively. It is also a great way to help children who typically shy away from topics related to mathematics and technology to engage and learn in a different way!

STEAM Learning

STEAM vs. STEM Learning

STEM learning was a precursor to the STEAM approach. STEM included fundamental subjects including science, technology, engineering, and math. However, in recent years, STEM has been replaced with STEAM.

This is because adding the “A” for art not only fosters increased creativity in these areas, it also supports innovative and more out of the box thinking. Educators report that it is the art component that removes perceived limitations and allows students to fully immerse themselves in more integrated learning.

Homeschool Science

Why STEAM Learning Matters In Your Homeschool

Intentionally adding STEAM learning in your homeschool can be a game changer. Because it creates a more integrated approach to the subjects of study, your child explores and creates in ways that go far beyond a typical worksheet or textbook.

Research shows that STEAM Learning provides the following critical benefits to students:

  • Exposure to the creative process
  • Increases critical thinking
  • Introduces unique problem solving options
  • Provides hands-on learning experiences
  • Shows an increased value and appreciation of the arts

These benefits are just as true for your child and your homeschool!

In my own homeschool, I have found that taking this type of approach has made a significant difference in helping my son think critically, particularly in the area of science and technology. While these two subjects tend to be a bit intimidating for him, weaving art into the various topics allows him to feel connected to the information in a new way.

Moreover, because the learning is more accessible, I find that he not only comprehends more, he retains more as well. We even use a hands-on, STEAM approach in testing!

STEAM learning in homeschool

Examples Of STEAM Learning In Our Homeschool

It can be intimidating to think about adding STEAM into our homeschool days. My experience has been that it’s much easier than I thought. Here are some examples of how STEAM has naturally become a part of my son’s learning.

  1. When my son was studying electricity as part of his science curriculum, we completed a lesson on inventors that used art to depict various scientific discoveries.
  2. As part of our human anatomy study, we are enjoying a hands-on lesson on the human heart, complete with diagramming and art woven throughout.
  3. Our astronomy study included artistic representations of the planets, super nova, and the night sky.
  4. When learning about measurement in math, we used painters tape on the sidewalk outside to physically show the difference between a foot and a meter.

While the idea of STEAM sounds complicated and formal, the reality is that it is actually a much more flexible and child centric way to homeschool. My son loves being able to create as he studies, and I love that he is more successful with the learning because of it.

STEAM learning in homeschool

Resources For STEAM Learning At Home

As I said, I know that STEAM learning can feel a little overwhelming at first for parents. It doesn’t have to be! The beauty of STEAM learning is that it is integrated. This means you cover multiple subjects in just one lesson.

You ARE An Artist has a wide variety of options for creating a STEAM approach in your homeschool (and make it easy on you!). Take a look at a some of the possibilities:

This hands-on homeschool STEAM approach is just the beginning, Chalk Pastel Art offers a variety of STEAM activities your kids will love!

For More Information About STEAM Learning In Your Homeschool.

Why Combine Art and Academics?
How We Use Art as an Alternative to Testing
Homeschool Science and Art Curriculum Match Up

Shawna Wingert, Different By Design Learning

Shawna Wingert is a special education teacher turned writer, speaker and consultant. She is also a homeschooling mom of two brilliant boys with differences and special needs.  Shawna has written four books for parents – Everyday Autism, Special Education at Home, Parenting Chaos and her latest, Homeschooling Your Child With Special Needs. She helps parents of children with learning differences, behavioral challenges and special needs every day at DifferentByDesignLearning.com.

Posted on

5 Ways To Make Your Homeschool Art Museum Field Trip Extraordinary

A homeschool art museum field trip has been on our list for years. This year, we have already been to one and have another planned for next semester. Here are 5 things I’ve learned about how to maximize the educational experience and family fun on your field trip to the museum.

Make Your Homeschool Art Museum Field Trip Extraordinary

A Homeschool Field Trip To The Art Museum

Prior to this school year, we had only made one visit to an art museum in our entire decade of homeschooling.  It was with our homeschool co-op and I did absolutely nothing to plan for it. We showed up and it was a fabulous experience for my son. He was in awe the entire day and declared it one of our best field trips ever.

I want to begin here because I think the most important part of any homeschool field trip, including one to the art museum, is simply committing to doing it. Whether or not you decide to include any of the extras I share in this post, just getting it on the calendar and going with your family to the museum is enough for a fabulous day.

Because my child enjoyed it so much the last time combined with his increasing interest and passion for art, I made a more comprehensive homeschool field trip to the art museum a must in our plans for this school year.

Make Your Homeschool Art Museum Field Trip Extraordinary

5 Ways To Make Your Homeschool Art Museum Field Trip Extraordinary

Here are five things that have worked well in making the most of our art museum field trips.

1. Art Study

The week prior to our planned trip to the museum, my son and I studied various works of art we knew we would see in person. We looked at books, replicas, and even studied some works on art online.

This made the learning that much more robust throughout the week, and when we finally saw the art person, my son already had some ideas about he wanted to investigate further.

The best part for me was hearing him exclaim, “Oh! I’ve been waiting to see this one. It’s my favorite!”

Giving him this foundation allowed him to explore the museum with so much more awareness and understanding.

art museum field trip

2. Videos

When we visited the Van Gogh Immersive Experience earlier this year, we watched a few videos ahead of time on YouTube about the life of Van Gogh.

Knowing more about the artist allowed for deeper conversations between my son and I about the mood and tone of his art. Plus, my son appreciated the fact that this creative genius also overcame some significant struggles in his lifetime.

This discussion made the art that much more real and accessible for both of us.

(Learn More About The Van Gogh Experience For Homeschoolers.)

3. Create Your Own Masterpiece

One of the easiest and most fun ways to extend learning beyond the day of the field trip is allow your child to create their own version of the art.

Learning about the artist and the art itself in You ARE An Artist lessons, combined with the process of creating our own masterpieces, made the art feel that much more personal and relevant. This immersive, multisensory approach to learning helped my son feel more connected to the information – and we had so much fun!

art and special needs homeschooling

While we created Van Gogh masterpieces earlier this year, there were so many options for this type of hands-on learning.

homeschool art

4. Take Your Time (don’t rush and don’t require)

This is a mom tip that makes our field trips everywhere, including art museums, more engaging and fun. I try not to rush or require. This means allowing my son to spend as much time as he likes with any one exhibit or work of art. It also means leaving early if he is just not enjoying it as much as we’d planned, or skipping certain sections to get to what he is most interested in.

This may seem simple, but in my early years as a homeschool mom, I frequently felt pressure to “maximize” the field trip. It never worked well and took all the pleasure out of what could’ve been a relaxed, enjoyable day of learning. Now, I know. My best field trip advice really is this – Don’t rush, don’t require. Just let the day unfold and appreciate the time together.

5. Consider Virtual Art Museum Options

If you are not easily able to take a field trip to an art museum, don’t let that stop you! Some of the best field trips we’ve taken have been virtual ones. There is a plethora of opportunities to visit art museum virtually.

In The Ultimate Guide To Virtual Art Museums, you will find an complete list of virtual art museum options for you and your family!

Make Your Homeschool Art Museum Field Trip Extraordinary

Additional Resources For Homeschool Art Lessons

In addition to the field trips themselves, I am passionate about art being an essential part of our children’s education. In my own home, art has helped my son learn across subjects. It has also deepened his connection to and love of beauty.

Make Your Homeschool Art Museum Field Trip Extraordinary

One of my favorite resources for incorporating art lessons into your homeschool is Exploring Famous Artists with chalk pastels. With the You ARE An Artist Clubhouse membership you have access to over 700+ chalk pastel lessons including Famous Artists video lessons with the following master artists:

  • Monet
  • Vermeer
  • Michelangelo
  • Norman Rockwell
  • Rembrandt
  • Audubon
  • Van Gogh
  • Degas
  • da Vinci
  • Lichtenstein
  • Warhol
  • O’Keefe
  • Picasso
  • Eric Carle and more…

Plus, a new artist is added most every month! You ARE an ARTiST Complete Clubhouse members also get an I Drew It Then I Knew It Companion Workbook with famous artists biographies and more!

Shawna Wingert

Shawna Wingert is a special education teacher turned writer, speaker and consultant. She is also a homeschooling mom of two brilliant boys with differences and special needs.  Shawna has written four books for parents – Everyday Autism, Special Education at Home, Parenting Chaos and her latest, Homeschooling Your Child With Special Needs. She helps parents of children with learning differences, behavioral challenges and special needs every day at DifferentByDesignLearning.com.

Posted on

Art Lessons For Homeschooling A Child With Special Needs

It can be a challenge to find resources when you are homeschooling a child a with special needs. These online art lessons have been a great way to integrate art as we homeschool my child who is a unique learner with different special needs diagnoses.

My son has always been fascinated by art.

He is naturally a creative child. When we visited an art museum with a group of homeschool friends a few years ago, I understood a bit better why art is so meaningful to him.

After spending the day running all over the museum with other ten year olds, we got back into the car to begin our drive home. My son gazed out the window, tired but satisfied, and said, “That was the best field trip we’ve done in a long time.”

Thrilled at this homeschool mom win, I asked him why he loved it so much.

He replied something to the effect of, “I was just like all the other kids today. I didn’t have to read anything. I could just look at all the art and talk about why it was beautiful or cool. I like pictures so much more than writing.

At the time, I didn’t realize how profound his statement really was. Now, four years later, I see how powerful art has been for him, both as a learner and as a human being.

art and special needs homeschooling

The Challenge In Homeschooling A Child With Special Needs

When your child struggles academically and has special needs that affect learning, homeschooling has its own unique set of challenges.

For example, I have never once been able to purchase curriculum in the same way many families do. I have to consider the amount of reading required, if it is age appropriate for my now teenage son who reads at a level much lower than high school.

Add in the anxiety and pressure my son often feels related to learning, and our homeschool has become a beautiful mix (mess?) of anything and everything that works for his individual learning needs.

Art, in general, and online art lessons with You ARE An Artist, are an integral part of our homeschooling.

art and special needs homeschooling

How Art Can Help Struggling Learners

My son is not alone in his affinity for art. Here are four benefits of art for children with special needs.

1. Art Is More Accessible

Many children with learning differences find comfort in art, knowing that the academic requirements are less traditional and more fluid.

2. Art Has Therapeutic Value

In addition to the academic difference, art can be therapeutic for our kids. My son was enrolled in art therapy for a year, to help him learn coping skills and manage his own anxiety.

It was effective and it was also quite fun for him!

Knowing the impact that art has on children, and on my child in particular, makes it an obvious choice for our homeschool.

art and special needs homeschooling

3. Art Helps Decrease Resistance

Given the choice between art and another worksheet, my son will choose art every single time. When I am able to integrate art into our learning, I find my son more willing to engage and much less likely to resist.

4. Art Often Highlights Other Historic Figures With Differences

Leonardo da Vinci is presumed to have been dyslexic. Vincent Van Gogh likely struggled with a mood disorder throughout his life.

It is no surprise that these two artists are two of my son’s absolute favorites. Not only does he enjoy their work, he feels a connection to the struggle they endured and the way they used art to express themselves. It has been a wonderful way to help normalize and encourage neurodiversity in his own learning, as well as in the world around him.

art and special needs homeschooling

Art Lessons For Homeschooling A Child With Special Needs

Because You ARE An Artist lessons often include the use of chalk pastels, I find them to be a really good fit for a child who struggles with perfectionism and anxiety.  This medium is much more forgiving and allows for a little bit of fine motor weakness, while still ending up with a beautiful creation.

You ARE An Artist also makes art and academics seamless, as many of the lessons are specifically for science, history and literature.

Take a look at the various options available:

You ARE An Artist also offers 47 famous artists video lessons for your homeschool including:

  • Vermeer
  • Michelangelo
  • da Vinci
  • Warhol
  • Monet
  • Rockwell
  • Rembrandt
  • Lichtenstein
  • Audubon
  • Beatrix Potter

These are perfect for the child (like mine) who loves to learn about and feels a kinship with artists.

art and special needs homeschooling
Learn more about Homeschool Art for a Child Who Hates the Mess and the simple suggestions – pictured in these photos.

You ARE An Artist Homeschooling A Child With Special Needs Resource Bundle

These are some of my absolute favorite resources for homeschool art plus my book – Homeschooling Your Child With Special Needs.

Take a look at this amazing bundle:

  • A set Chalk Pastels for your kids to enjoy!
  • Artists: Their Lives and Works
  • Van Gogh. The Complete Paintings
  • Monet. The Triumph Of Impressionism
  • Vermeer (Basic Art Series)
  • Homeschooling Your Child With Special Needs

art and special needs homeschooling
Shawna Wingert

Shawna Wingert is a special education teacher turned writer, speaker and consultant. She is also a homeschooling mom of two brilliant boys with differences and special needs.  Shawna has written four books for parents – Everyday Autism, Special Education at Home, Parenting Chaos and her latest, Homeschooling Your Child With Special Needs. She helps parents of children with learning differences, behavioral challenges and special needs every day at DifferentByDesignLearning.com.

Posted on

Homeschool Art Lessons Perfect For Grades 4-6

As our children get older, finding homeschool art lessons that are challenging and age appropriate can be difficult. Thankfully, we have found an assortment of unit studies and art lessons that are perfect for the late elementary grades 4-6.

As our children get older, finding homeschool art lessons that are challenging and age appropriate can be difficult. Thankfully, we have found an assortment of unit studies and art lessons that are perfect for the late elementary grades 4-6.

When my son first entered his late elementary years, there was a noticeable shift in our homeschool. Although he was interested in art and hands-on learning, we struggled to find art resources that were age appropriate and engaging. I think because it can be more difficult to find options for this age group, we often let art drift out of our homeschool plans as we focus more and more on academic subjects.

But the truth is, art can be an essential part of learning, no matter what the subject.

Studies have shown, time and time again, that adding art to learning adds value across academic subjects. This educational approach is appropriate and helpful across all grade levels, including the late elementary grades 4-6.

chalk pastel drawings of hobbit holes held by kids

STEAM Learning In Your Homeschool

STEAM is an approach to learning that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics across disciplines to foster creativity, critical thinking, and visual thinking.

The goal of STEAM-based learning is to help students develop the skills they need to be successful in the future. Regardless of the specific role or industry, it is now critical that students go off to college and/or enter the workforce with a set of well-rounded skills that allow them to adapt to an evolving and fast-paced environment.

STEAM brings together five critical disciplines to create an inclusive learning environment that encourages all students to participate, collaborate and problem solve. This holistic approach encourages students to exercise both the left and right sides of their brains simultaneously, as they would need to do in a 21st century working environment.

The History and Importance Of STEAM

Finding ways to add art across disciplines is wonderful opportunity to boost your child’s creativity and critical thinking skills.

Finding good options for homeschool art for middle and high school can be challenging. The good news is, You ARE An Artist has you covered!

Homeschool Art Lessons Perfect For Grades 4-6

You ARE An Artist has art lessons that encourage a STEAM approach, using art to teach literature, science, history, and more. Take a look at some of the lessons available:

Science and Nature Lessons including:

Integrated Literature and Language Arts Lessons:

History and Geography For Homeschooling Grade 4-6:

The A Simple Start Collection includes:

These homeschool art lessons for grades 4-6 allow you to add STEAM learning to your curriculum easily and effectively.

The best way to access all of these lessons is with a You ARE an ARTiST Complete Clubhouse membership. Because Nana’s art lessons are for all ages and grade levels, including:

An Example Of Integrated Art For Your Homeschool

One of the easiest and most effective ways to add art to your learning is in the context of a unit study.

This beautiful unit study, all about a snails, is a wonderful example of how learning with art can really come together for this age group.

Created by Jamie Gault, from Treasuring The Tiny Moments, this study for 4-6 graders includes:

  • 38 pages of beautiful instructions
  • Nature Study
  • Paragraph Writing Practice
  • Poetry
  • Author Study
  • Book Recommendations
  • and lots of chalk pastel art throughout

You can find out more about this valuable resource and download the FREE unit study HERE.

Snail Unit Study by Jamie Gault is a perfect example of integrated art for your homeschool.


Homeschool Art Lessons For Grades 4-6 With You ARE An Artist

My son was able to move into his late elementary years with art still being an important part of his learning, because of You ARE An Artist.

I found that for these grades in particular, adding art to his academic learning helped instill a greater sense of confidence in himself as a learner. It also helped him not only comprehend the study, but also retain the learning over time.

Our experience has been that You ARE An Artist is an excellent way to create a STEAM learning environment in your homeschool.

Shawna Wingert

Shawna Wingert is a special education teacher turned writer, speaker and consultant. She is also a homeschooling mom of two brilliant boys with differences and special needs.  Shawna has written four books for parents – Everyday Autism, Special Education at Home, Parenting Chaos and her latest, Homeschooling Your Child With Special Needs. She helps parents of children with learning differences, behavioral challenges and special needs every day at DifferentByDesignLearning.com.

Posted on

Online Art Lessons Perfect For Grades K-3

Art is an essential part of our elementary learners’ development. Online art lessons are a great option for grades K-3 and are easily incorporated into any homeschool lesson plan.

Think back to your early elementary school years. What do you remember?

For me, what stands out are all the hands-on art projects we completed. The spring hat parade drawing I created in Kindergarten. The invention I thought up and drew a schematic of in third grade. My friend Adrian’s artwork depicting a cat with a large bow around it’s neck. (Incidentally, I vividly remember all of these, but don’t remember a single worksheet although we certainly completed them everyday.)

You probably have some memories of your own – particularly from the art assignments in your early education. But why? Why does art stand the test of time in learning?

online art lessons K-3
Photo by Jamie Gault

The Importance Of Art In Your Homeschool (especially in grades K-3)

There has been a ton of research in recent years surrounding STEM and STEAM in education. STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math.

While initial approaches to this type of education only included the STEM areas of learning, recent research has stressed the importance of adding art to the educational equation.

A creative mindset is critical for STEM subjects. That is why the arts was added to STEM to become STEAM. Scientists, technology developers, engineers, and mathematicians need to innovate and solve problems creatively. Active and self-guided discovery is core to the arts and to STEAM learning. Children engage in painting, pretend play, music, and drawing. Art is sensory exploration. Children can feel the paint on their fingers and see colors change the way the paper looks. As they grow, children include symbols in art their art that represent real objects, events, and feelings. Drawing and play acting allow them to express what they know and feel, before they can even read or write. Research shows that early experience with creative arts supports cognitive development and increases self esteem.

MSAfterschool.org

Children are doing so much more than simply having fun when they are engaged in artistic pursuits. Research has shown again and again that art develops a variety of skills, including:

  • Self-regulation
  • Sharing
  • Listening
  • Cooperation
  • Focus and attention
  • Following directions
  • Creativity
  • Cognitive skills such as counting, color/shape/pattern recognition, strategy, problem solving, etc.

In addition to all of these developmental benefits, adding art to learning makes it much more engaging and interactive for children. This increases overall learning outcomes, as our children are more likely to comprehend and retain what they learn when they are having fun with it!

online art lessons K-3
Photo by Jamie Gault

How To Add Art To Your Early Elementary Homeschool Years

While it is clear that there are significant benefits to adding art to our children’s learning, it is often difficult to know how to incorporate it into an average homeschool day. The demands of teaching a child to read, write, and perform essential math functions can feel overwhelming to a new homeschooling family, and it’s easy to view art as an “extra” instead of a critical part of learning and development.

I have found that the very best way to incorporate art in a more focused and intentional way in our homeschool is to find outside resources that take the guesswork and planning off my plate.

You ARE An Artist Clubhouse Membership does just that!

online art lessons K-3

Online Art Lessons Perfect For Grades K-3

Nana’s warm and encouraging lessons are a great way to easily add art to our learning.

The You ARE An Artist Clubhouse Membership has everything you need to get started and progress through your child’s early elementary years!

Take a look at this snapshot of courses offered for early elementary education.

The A Simple Start Collection includes:

Science and Nature Lessons including:

online art
Photo by Jamie Gault

Bible Study Lessons

Seasonal and Holiday Themed Lessons including:

And so many more! There are even Do It Together lessons for mom and me time to create art together.

This is a fabulous way to not only add more STEAM learning to your early education homeschool, it is also helps both child and teacher have fun as you learn!

online art lessons K-3

Art In Early Elementary Education Creates A Lifetime of Learning

The research and push towards STEAM learning is something we want to consider as we begin our homeschool journeys. The benefits are all in line with the outcomes we desire when we make the decision to homeschool our children.

Adding art to elementary education sets your child up for success in learning throughout their homeschool years. This solid foundation goes far beyond the early years, far beyond third grade. In fact, it pays off all the way through high school and beyond.

The good news is, You ARE An Artist is wonderful resource to help you all along the way.

Shawna Wingert

Shawna Wingert is a special education teacher turned writer, speaker and consultant. She is also a homeschooling mom of two brilliant boys with differences and special needs.  Shawna has written four books for parents – Everyday Autism, Special Education at Home, Parenting Chaos and her latest, Homeschooling Your Child With Special Needs. She helps parents of children with learning differences, behavioral challenges and special needs every day at DifferentByDesignLearning.com.

Posted on

Integrated Art For Homeschooling High School

Are you looking for ways to create a more dynamic learning environment for your high schooler? Homeschooling with an integrated art approach may be exactly what you need!

What Is Integrated Art?

An integrated art curriculum is one in which the art becomes the approach to teaching and the vehicle for learning.

“Students meet dual learning objectives when they engage in the creative process to explore art and another subject to gain greater understanding in both.”

Institute for Art Education and STEAM

Put simply, integrated art allows the learner to engage in the subject matter in a way that is much more robust and cross-functional. The student accesses the learning with a non-traditional, yet highly effective approach, using art as the method of delivery.

integrated art

Why Is It So Helpful In Homeschool High School?

As more and more complex learning is expected for high schoolers, for many students, there is a need to access learning in a different way.

Not all learners respond well to the traditional textbook, worksheet, lecture style of traditional learning.  In fact, most do better with a more multisensory approach to learning.

Integrated art essentially takes subjects we traditionally teach in a more formal way, and immediately adds a layer of accessibility and hands-on learning.

The Foundations Of An Integrated Art Curriculum

The truth is, most of us are already quite familiar with this approach to learning. It is likely that you have a memory of this type of learning from your childhood, as integrated art is more readily accepted and woven into elementary education.

For me, it was a salt map I made of Italy for my country report in sixth grade. I worked hard on that map, and through it’s creation, I learned more about Italy than any textbook ever would’ve taught me. I also retained the information I learned about Italy. (In fact, to this day, I still remember most of what I learned – that’s the power of hands-on, multisensory learning!)

integrated art

You Are An Artist For High School Homeschool

You Are An Artist lessons are exactly what an integrated art curriculum is all about.

What makes it particularly effective, is that You Are An Artist includes this type of approach all the way through the high school years.

For example, when my son was learning about US History, we completed a lesson on creating our own map of North America.

The opportunities to learn with an integrated art perspective are plentiful with You Are An Artist.

Take a look at all of these high school level courses.

Integrated Literature and Language Arts For High School

  • Harry Potter
  • Stopping by the Woods – Robert Frost
  • The Hobbit
  • Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
  • Lamp Post – Narnia C. S. Lewis
  • Hundred Acre Wood – A.A. Milne
integrated art for homeschool

History and Geography For High School Homeschooling

  • American History
  • American Landmarks
  • Ancient History
  • Famous Composers
  • World Maps
  • World Landmarks

Science For High School With You ARE An Artist

  • Inventors
  • Moon Missions
  • Solar Eclipse
  • Solar System
  • Space Exploration

(You can also read all about how to use You Are An Artist specifically for High School Art credit and grab a FREE Visual Art Credit Tracker HERE)

integrated art for your homeschool

Integrated Art In Your Homeschool Curriculum

Using integrated art in any homeschool curriculum is valuable. Adding it to the high school years keeps learning fun, engaging, and ultimately, more successful.

Thankfully, You ARE An Artist has everything you need to easily include integrated art in your homeschool.

Shawna Wingert

Shawna Wingert is a special education teacher turned writer, speaker and consultant. She is also a homeschooling mom of two brilliant boys with differences and special needs.  Shawna has written four books for parents – Everyday Autism, Special Education at Home, Parenting Chaos and her latest, Homeschooling Your Child With Special Needs. She helps parents of children with learning differences, behavioral challenges and special needs every day at DifferentByDesignLearning.com.

Posted on

Homeschool Art For The Child Who Hates The Mess

Do you love the idea of chalk pastels, but know that your child struggles with getting messy? You are not alone. These are helpful tips and solutions to homeschool art for the child who hates mess!


My son has always had a love/hate relationship with messy projects.

I remember picking him up from his little preschool one day, and the teacher explaining that finger painting did not go well. I wasn’t surprised. I saw it when we tried to do crafts at home or played outside.

When we began homeschooling, it was even more apparent.

I would excitedly create all kinds of hands-on learning activities only to have it end in total resistance and even tears. Nowhere was his avoidance more clear than in art lessons.

homeschool art for the child who hates mess

If your child hates messy projects as much as mine, you understand. This can be a real barrier to learning and to finding enjoyment in activities intended to be fun.

The good news is, there are ways to help your child engage with art activities, even when they struggle with the mess.

Homeschool Art For The Child Who Hates The Mess

Why Is Your Child Struggling With The Mess?

The first place to start is to try to figure out what specifically is causing the resistance. For example, my child struggles with the sensory experience of having chalk or paint on his hands. My sweet friend’s daughter avoids art because she feels pressure to keep the table and her clothes clean.

Getting to the bottom of your child’s real concern allows you to figure out what to do next.

Homeschool Art For The Child Who Hates The Mess

Homeschool Art For The Child Who Hates The Mess

Knowing your child’s specific concern then allows you to accommodate the need, while still experiencing the learning associated with the activity. I know for my son, he desperately wants to engage in the enjoyment of art. He just needs a little extra help to overcome the sensory issues associated with it.

Many kids are the same way.

Determining modifications and accommodations that help access the learning makes all the difference for the child who struggles. It gives them the ability to enjoy creating without stress, anxiety, and frustration.

Tips And Tricks For Homeschool Art Without The Mess

Using chalk pastels with You ARE An Artist in our homeschool has made a significant difference in our learning. My son loves this medium in particular because it is much more forgiving than paint or line drawings (helpful for the child who is also a perfectionist!). He loves the outcome, but struggles with the feeling of the chalk on his hands and in his workspace.

Here are my favorite tips for helping my child engage in learning with You ARE An Artist lessons, despite his avoidance of the mess.

1. Latex Gloves

Because my child struggles with the sensory experience of getting things on his hands, we have a box latex gloves available for messy projects ( I also use them for handling raw meat. Win-Win!).

Introducing the gloves was a game-changer for my son. When he has the gloves on, he feels the freedom to focus on the art lesson, instead of how his hands are feeling.

It also makes for super easy clean-up.

Homeschool Art For The Child Who Hates The Mess

2. Poster Boards

In addition to wanting to keep his hands clean, my child also struggles with the chalk dust spreading off his paper and onto the table.

My solution? I have a large poster board on hand that we put down on the table first. This way, the chalk dust can blow off and still be easily cleaned.

(This is purely for my son’s benefit, as I find chalk pastels easy to wipe up, but it certainly does simplify my clean-up as well.)

Homeschool Art For The Child Who Hates The Mess

3. A Wet Cloth

With any art project, it helps to have a wet wash cloth or paper towel close by. I think this is doubly true for a child who is struggling with the mess.

Easily being able to wipe off the table, the laptop, hands, faces – anything that might come into contact with chalk dust – eases the stress and allows my son to relax and engage in the lesson.

Homeschool Art For The Child Who Hates The Mess

4. Chalk Pastel Pencils

If your child struggles with gloves or is simply not able to feel comfortable with the mess, another option is to switch to chalk pastel pencils.

These look like regular color pencils, but give you the same results as traditional chalk pastels. With these pencils, there is no need to touch the chalk itself and there is a lot less dust.

The Value Of Homeschool Art (even when your child hates the mess)

Our homeschool has benefitted greatly from adding art with You ARE An Artist.

It is an instant way to add hands-on, multisensory learning for my child who needs it most. Taking the time to figure out what he really needs in order to engage in the lessons and enjoy the activities was well worth it!

Homeschool Art For The Child Who Hates The Mess

Just look at all the lessons we’ve completed so far:

Middle School History/Geography

  • American History
  • American Landmarks
  • Ancient History
  • World Maps
  • World Landmarks

Science With You ARE An Artist

  • Inventors
  • Moon Missions
  • Solar System
  • Space Exploration

Literature And Language Arts

  • Harry Potter (one of my son’s absolute favorites!)
  • Stopping By The Woods – Robert Frost
  • The Hobbit
  • Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre

My son has learned so much with You ARE An Artist, despite the mess. It is my hope that these ideas will allow your family to do the same!

Shawna Wingert

Shawna Wingert is a special education teacher turned writer, speaker and consultant. She is also a homeschooling mom of two brilliant boys with differences and special needs.  Shawna has written four books for parents – Everyday Autism, Special Education at Home, Parenting Chaos and her latest, Homeschooling Your Child With Special Needs. She helps parents of children with learning differences, behavioral challenges and special needs every day at DifferentByDesignLearning.com.

Posted on

Why Homeschooling Middle School Is Better With Hands-On Learning

When my son was in his elementary years, hands-on learning seemed effortless.

Everywhere I looked, there were cute and fun options for crafts and art projects, all designed to help with learning. I incorporated something multi-sensory learning into almost every aspect of our school day.

It helped him comprehend and retain what we were learning, and it was a lot more fun!

Why Homeschooling Middle School Is Better With Hands-On Learning

As he got older however, and especially as we moved into middle school level learning, our options seemed to dwindle. It was no longer easy to find ways to supplemental hands-on activities for our homeschool.

It was harder to find options for multi-sensory learning, but it was no less important. In fact, my middle schooler needed hands-on activities to thrive.

Why Homeschooling Middle School Is Better With Hands-On Learning

Why Homeschooling Middle School Is Better With Hands-On Learning

Study after study has shown that learners of all ages do best when the material is presented in a multisensory format. Text combined with video, hands-on creative activities, and even art as a way to demonstrate understanding have all been proven to contribute to more successful learner outcomes.

The strategies behind multisensory learning are supported by decades of research, particularly Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences. This theory, which was developed by Harvard professor Dr. Howard Gardner, states that the traditional notions of learning and intelligence are too limited. Gardner proposes that people can have proficiencies in different kinds of intelligences, and that teaching students in a way that matches their intellectual strengths can help them grasp tough subjects.

Waterford.Org

So, if the research proves it and we know to it be true in our own homes, why is it so hard to find options for middle school?

I think as we transition kids into more independent learning, the hands-on component tends to get lost. We assume that independent means a textbook, pen and, paper.

But it doesn’t have to be!

Why Homeschooling Middle School Is Better With Hands-On Learning

Middle School Hands-On Learning With You ARE An Artist

Finding You ARE An Artist changed our middle school completely, as it gave me easy resources for hands-on learning across our academic subjects.

For example, when my son was learning about Pompeii in his ancient history study, we created a volcano with Nana. When his seventh grade science book introduced astronomy, we completed You ARE An Artist’s Space Exploration Unit.

We have found lessons for language arts, art history, poetry time, American history, scientific inventions, and so many more, all with our Clubhouse Membership. It completely solved my problem: hands-on learning was back in our middle school!

Adding More Independent Learning To Your Homeschool

As I mentioned, I think one of the reasons options for multisensory learning dissipate in the middle school years is that we expect our children to learn more and more independently.

You ARE An Artist provides an opportunity to practice independent learning as well!

My son completes his lessons without any help or involvement from me. We pick the unit and gather the materials, then I go about my day while Nana takes over as his teacher. (The only thing I sometimes do is create my own version of the activity along side him – not because he needs it, but because I find it to be a wonderful way to connect and create together. )

Homeschooling Middle School With You ARE An Artist

When we were first getting started, I was pleasantly surprised to see that there are so many opportunities for hands-on learning with You ARE An Artist.

Here is just a brief summary of the multisensory lessons available for homeschooling your middle schooler –

Middle School History/Geography

  • American History
  • American Landmarks
  • Ancient History
  • Famous Composers
  • World Maps
  • World Landmarks

Science For Middle School

  • Inventors
  • Moon Missions
  • Solar Eclipse
  • Solar System
  • Space Exploration

Literature And Language Arts

  • Harry Potter (one of my son’s absolute favorites!)
  • Stopping By The Woods – Robert Frost
  • The Hobbit
  • Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
  • Lamp Post – Narnia C.S. Lewis
  • Hundred Acre Wood – A.A. Milne

Art Lessons For Middle School

  • A Simple Start In Acrylics
  • A Simple Start In Chalk Pastels
  • Art Techniques
  • Famous Artists
  • Art Master Classes

I am so grateful to have found You ARE An Artist. It’s been an integral part of our homeschool throughout my son’s middle school years. He has learned in ways that work best for his interests and needs. He has become a more independent learner. And, he had fun along the way.

What more could I ask for?

Shawna Wingert

Shawna Wingert is a special education teacher turned writer, speaker and consultant. She is also a homeschooling mom of two brilliant boys with differences and special needs.  Shawna has written four books for parents – Everyday Autism, Special Education at Home, Parenting Chaos and her latest, Homeschooling Your Child With Special Needs. She helps parents of children with learning differences, behavioral challenges and special needs every day at DifferentByDesignLearning.com.

Posted on

Homeschool Art for Middle and High School – You ARE An Artist

Finding homeschool art programs for middle and high school learning can be difficult.

It certainly was for me and my family.

The options seemed either too formal, or too babyish, for my older learners. But both of my boys have an interest in art and learn best with hands-on, multi-sensory activities. So I continued to search for a solution.

Thankfully, I found You ARE An Artist.

Homeschool Art for Middle and High School With You ARE An Artist

I wanted options for learning beyond a basic art class. More than that, my youngest son clearly learns best when art is a part of other academic subjects. I was pleased (and a little relieved) to see how many opportunities for older learners are included in the Clubhouse Membership.

You ARE An Artist Courses For Middle and High School Homeschool

This is a small sample of the lessons we’ve done so far that have worked well for both my middle school and high school homeschoolers.

Homeschool Art for Middle and High School With You ARE An Artist

History and Geography For Older Homeschoolers

  • American History
  • American Landmarks
  • Ancient History
  • Famous Composers
  • World Maps
  • World Landmarks

Science For Middle and High School Homeschoolers

  • Inventors
  • Moon Missions
  • Solar Eclipse
  • Solar System
  • Space Exploration
adding art to literature

Literature and Language Arts For Middle and High School Homeschoolers

Art Classes For Older Learners

How We Incorporate You ARE An Artist Lessons Into Our Middle and High School Learning

There are a couple of ways we have used You ARE An Artist to fuel our upper level learning.

The first is the most obvious, as we use You ARE An Artist for visual art credits in our homeschool. The second has been even more of a support in our homeschool. With these lessons, I have been able to incorporate art into our other areas of study to create a more robust and engaging learning experience.

You ARE An Artist For Homeschool High School Transcripts and Credit Hours

Because art is an elective that both of my boys would choose to take if they attended the school down the street, You ARE An Artist meets all the requirements for this type of credit.

I found this post from Courtney to be really helpful in figuring out what to “count” and how to reflect the learning on my son’s homeschool high school transcript. It outlines exactly how to accurately reflect art credit for high school using You ARE An Artist.

Incorporating Art Into Other Subjects For Middle And High School Learners

When my children were younger, it was a lot easier to find opportunities to weave art into our overall learning. As my boys have grown into middle and high school coursework, this became much more challenging, although no less important!

You ARE An Artist has made it not only possible, but easy for me to plan engaging, age appropriate activities for my older learners.

Homeschool Art for Middle and High School With You ARE An Artist

For example, my son has an intense interest in the Harry Potter series. Although he has read them before, we decided to incorporate them in to our literature study this year, with a focus on character analysis.

At first glance, it might seem that this would have no real tie to any art, much less specific lessons with You ARE An Artist. But after searching the membership, it became clear that we had more than a few options available.

When my son and I discussed the sorting hat and its role as a lesser identified “character,” he completed a lesson with Nana, drawing the sorting hat and then practicing his handwriting (much needed!) with his favorite sorting hat quote.

Homeschool Art for Middle and High School With You ARE An Artist

When the trip from Kings Cross to Hogwarts came up, my son created his own map of Great Britain with Nana as his guide.

  • He drew the map locations himself.
  • Next, he asked me to create the labels for his map (again, handwriting is a concern and he was so proud of his work, he didn’t want to “ruin” it.)
  • Finally, he was able to identify the locations on the map from memory, and point to them for me to label.

This is just a glimpse of why this approach to learning is so effective for children of all ages, even middle and highschoolers!

Homeschool Art for Middle and High School With You ARE An Artist

Time and time again, I am amazed at the benefit of adding art into our other academic subjects. You can see in this example, he not only comprehended the material, he retained it.

It’s what learning with You ARE An Artist is all about!

Shawna Wingert

Shawna Wingert is a special education teacher turned writer, speaker and consultant. She is also a homeschooling mom of two brilliant boys with differences and special needs.  Shawna has written four books for parents – Everyday Autism, Special Education at Home, Parenting Chaos and her latest, Homeschooling Your Child With Special Needs. She helps parents of children with learning differences, behavioral challenges and special needs every day at DifferentByDesignLearning.com.

Posted on

The Power of Adding Art To Literature Lessons

adding art to literature

When your child struggles to read, language arts can be a difficult, and often stressful subject. Adding art to literature lessons has completely changed my son’s ability to engage in and enjoy the stories without the pressure of struggling to read them.

What I’ve learned is that this is a powerful approach to learning, no matter what your child’s reading ability!

There is something powerful that happens when we add art to literature lessons. This is an in-depth look at why it works so well.

Art Brings Story To Life

I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me before.

Of course art makes a difference in how we can connect with literature! Bringing a story or poem to life in this most accessible way, allows a learner to not only understand the learning, but retain it as well.

For example, drawing The Globe Theatre as a part of our Shakespeare study gave my son an immediate visual reference whenever it came again in the 39 Clues Book series. He knew it because he drew it!

art and literature

The Connection Between Art And Language Arts

One of the first times I experienced this connection between art and language arts was when my youngest was only seven. We had just read a Ramona Quimby book, together as a family, and we were discussing her antics.

Without promoting, my son went over to our art supplies and began drawing a picture or Ramona squeezing toothpaste into the sink. It was a highlight of the series for my son, mostly because he had always wanted to do it himself!

When he was done with the picture, he brought it over to me, curled up on my lap, and recounted the story itself. It was a small glimmer of what I would come to know about the relationship between language arts and art for my child.

He retained the highlights of the story itself and was able to communicate his comprehension and character analysis after he committed his thoughts to the page in the form of artistic expression.

The Power of Adding Art To Literature Lessons

The Power Of Adding Art To Literature Lessons

Because this has been such an important part of his learning, I want to share with you an example of how this practically works in a real life homeschool lesson.

Earlier this year, Robert Frost came up in conversation as we discussed poetry. As I mentioned, my son struggles with reading. Poetry is actually easier for him to read because he can anticipate the words based on the cadence and flow of the language.

I knew Robert Frost was next in our homeschool learning plan.

The Power of Adding Art To Literature Lessons

You Are An Artist Homeschool Literature Lessons

Because You Are An Artist features a Robert Frost Lesson, we were able to get started right away.

Even the poem itself was included as a download, so I didn’t have to go searching on the internet. We simply printed the poem, pulled Nana up on the screen, got our art supplies and relaxed into an afternoon of poetry and art.

The Power of Adding Art To Literature Lessons

Here is how we tackled the learning:

  • We read the poem together out loud.
  • We listened to Nana and each drew our own Snowy Woods.
  • My son read the poem to me on his own, and we laughed at my crazy horse drawing.
art and literatue

It was so simple, so easy, and it was one of the most productive lessons we’ve had together in a while. He practiced reading. We enjoyed poetry together. He engaged his senses in a hands-on learning activity. It was a total win.

I found myself wishing every homeschool afternoon could be like this one.

The good news is, maybe they can!

You Are An Artist has a wealth of literature lessons to chose from.

Did you know that with the You ARE An Artist Clubhouse Membership you’ll have exclusive access to the You ARE An Artist Clubhouse Literature Video Art Lessons? And with these lessons, members receive an I Drew It Then I Knew It Literature Companion workbook filled with writing prompts, fun facts and more!

Literature Lessons For your Homeschool

Shawna Wingert

Shawna Wingert is a special education teacher turned writer, speaker and consultant. She is also a homeschooling mom of two brilliant boys with differences and special needs.  Shawna has written four books for parents – Everyday Autism, Special Education at Home, Parenting Chaos and her latest, Homeschooling Your Child With Special Needs. She helps parents of children with learning differences, behavioral challenges and special needs every day at DifferentByDesignLearning.com.