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Make Homeschool Lessons More Fun When You Add Art

Homeschool Lessons

If you are new to homeschooling, you may think incorporating art into your homeschool lessons seems impossible. But today, I want to show you how simple it is to include art into just about any topic you are learning or teaching.

First, you may be wondering why we should try to blend art into a homeschool lesson. Why would you want to do that? So many reasons, but here are a few.

 

Reasons Why You Need To Blend Art Into Your Homeschool Lessons 

Make it fun! Who says home educating has to be boring? Your kids will love learning at home even more when they realize it can be hands-on and exciting!

Memory Retention. Do you know that your kids are more likely to remember what they learned when adding the element of doing? Yep. Kids remember more by doing rather than watching or hearing alone.

Stress relief. So many moms burn themselves out by trying to check off all the boxes each day. Enjoy some relaxed learning time WITH your kids. It is such a fantastic way to decompress and have a good time with your children. They need to see you enjoying life too.

Now that you have a few solid reasons why we should incorporate art into our learning activities. Next, let me show you an example of how easy it is.

Creating a Unit Study is as Easy as Pie with You Are An Artist

You can easily pull together a few resources to create a family-friendly unit study using the resources you will find within a membership from ChalkPastel.com.

With your membership to ChalkPastel.com, you can utilize the Elective Tracks and Unit Studies Resource. It is a phenomenal tool for pairing up art tutorials with homeschool lessons and topics you may be learning in your homeschool.

With the Elective Tracks and Unit Studies Resource, you will find art lessons that include everything from preschool, nature, space, presidents, maps, history, geography, garden, landmarks, the Bible, and more! Literally, hundreds of art lessons to choose from and all sorts of topics.

Once you choose which topic you are studying and would like to expand on, you can plan an entire lesson or unit study around it.

The example I will use for you today is Johnny Appleseed. I have a wide range of ages in my homeschool, and we could all learn about him at once. It’s a great fit with Johnny Appleseed’s birthday approaching on September 26th.

 

Another excellent feature from the ChalkPastel.com Membership is the calendar. It’s perfect for keeping up with important holidays and fun national days to celebrate in your homeschool, like Johnny Appleseed Day!

Most of us don’t remember or even know about days such as National Honeybee Awareness Day, Shark Week, or E.B. White’s Birthday. These are such awesome opportunities to use in your homeschool for family connection and home education. The ChalkPastel.com calendar has an art prompt for each day to assist you with creative learning ideas!

I searched the Elective Track and Unit Study Resource in the membership portal and found Johnny Appleseed. That way, I can easily pull all of my resources together beforehand.

There is even a nifty Homeschool Curriculum Match Up Checklist for History & Science lessons. They make it so easy for you to plan your homeschool lessons with art! 

 

There were art lessons that fit my older student and some easier lessons for my younger two. I even found Nana’s Apple Pie Recipe! There was a book recommendation for How To Make an Apple Pie and See the World. So I decided to make an entire day of apple pie making, creating art, and learning about Johnny Appleseed.

All of the resources were in one convenient place, so I planned this out and made my supply/grocery list in seconds. I also reserved the books I needed from the library quickly. Easy as pie!

 

As homeschool parents, we can get wrapped up in textbooks and checking off the boxes too often. But, creativity, curiosity, and excitement are also essential to a healthy homeschool.

I highly encourage you to add art to your homeschool toolbox. You can create special memories in your homeschool while you educate your children. Homeschooling can be creative, enjoyable, and fun with the right resources.

Grab your membership here and start planning today!

Courtney is a Jesus-pursuing, native Texan, homeschool mom of three, and she believes homeschooling can be a peaceful and productive rhythm. At Grace, Grow & Edify she helps families create peaceful homeschooling atmospheres through faith, organizational strategies, and cultivating strong roots at home.

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Fall Art and One-On-One Time with Kids

Art is an exceptional activity for strengthening parent-child relationships. With the crispness of the fall air and the rustle of fallen leaves, it is a great time to explore fall art with your kids. Using chalk pastels you can create both beautiful artwork and lasting memories while nurturing your connection.

Fall Art and One-On-One Time with Kids

Pie, Chalk Pastels, and One-On-One Time

“Can we just eat pie and color with chalk pastels?”, my daughter asked.

Why yes. Yes, we can! I mean why not? The idea sounded lovely.

“Woohooo! Girl Time! Just you and me!”, she exclaimed loudly.

My 7-year old’s face lit up like the sun when I agreed to pie and art. Just the two of us. She calls this our girl time. I call it our one-on-one time.

Fall Art and One-On-One Time with Kids

Fall Art and One-On-One Time with Kids

Do you make space for one-on-one time with your kiddos? Spending quality time together is a wonderful way to build your relationship. It can be just a few minutes of uninterrupted time talking about their favorite things, playing a beloved board game, even cooking a meal together. It’s a crazy busy world out there, but our kids need us to connect with them in meaningful ways.

For us, it was an afternoon of apple pie, ice cream, apple cider, and fall art chalk pastels! Art is my daughter’s love language. She eats, breathes, and lives for art. She is constantly creating, drawing, and coming up with new ideas. So, for me to spend this time with her doing what she loves is quite special and it strengthens our mother-daughter bond. 

Fall Art and One-On-One Time with Kids

Luckily for us, Papa had just brought home an apple pie from the bakery. I dug around in the freezer until I found the vanilla ice cream. And then to top it all off I made some apple cider too. I served all of this on our poetry teatime tea set. It just made everything feel a bit more special.

All that was needed now was our chalk pastels, construction paper, and of course our beloved Nana from You ARE An Artist!

Fall Art and One-On-One Time with Kids

My kids and I have adored Nana for years! When we mention Nana, we always must clarify if we’re talking about my mom OR chalk pastels Nana! It’s a delightful problem to have. That’s because Nana has been a part of our family and homeschool journey for years! Ever since we first discovered Chalk Pastels back in 2017! That’s saying something, folks!

Fall Art and One-On-One Time with Kids

My daughter was over the moon excited to get to eat apple pie and ice cream while drawing apple pie with ice cream with Nana! Nana is the best at reminding us that there are no mistakes in art and that we are always an artist.

The only thing that could have possibly made this better might have been real pumpkins and candied apples in addition to our apple pie and ice cream. The reason? She got to draw those too!

Fall Art and One-On-One Time with Kids

Fall Art with Chalk Pastels

When we got to the campfire and roasted marshmallows, she declared that we must start a fire in the firepit and make campfire s’ mores!

Maybe tomorrow…She had already had enough sugar for one day, ha!

Fall Art and One-On-One Time with Kids

 

Fall Art Using You ARE An Artist Clubhouse Membership

In all the years we’ve been doing chalk pastels I don’t believe we’ve ever done the same lesson twice. That’s because there is 600+ chalk pastel lessons available through the Clubhouse membership!

Did you know that with the You ARE AN Artist Clubhouse Membership you get a bank of art lessons to choose from for ALL ages! Here is a sampling of the fall-themed art that we had access too:

  • Acorn
  • Apple or Pumpkin
  • Apple Pie and Ice Cream
  • Brilliant Fall Trees
  • Caramel Apple
  • Fall Leaf
  • Fall Nature Walk
  • Fall Trees  
  • Fall Trees acrylic
  • Fall Tree Reflection
  • Fall Tree Reflection acrylic
  • Fall Walk in the Woods
  • Little Church in the Woods
  • Mittens, Scarf and Hot Chocolate
  • Pumpkin Patch
  • Roasting Marshmallows Around the Campfire
  • Thanksgiving Table Turkey
  • Wind in the Tree 

But the Fall Art Lessons are wonderful too if you’re not interested in the Clubhouse membership but you are interested in trying some fall art.

Fall Art and One-On-One Time with Kids

Wonderful Moments with Fall Art

This quality one-on-one time together eating ice cream, enjoying apple cider, and creating art together is priceless. The chalk dust on our hands was nothing compared to the joy in our hearts. If you have a kiddo that loves art, even if you don’t, give the simple chalk pastel a try. You may be surprised at just how easy they are. I wouldn’t trade these fall days of one-on-one time for anything. They are worth their weight in pie.

Fall Art and One-On-One Time with Kids

Erin is a writer, blogger, and homeschooler to two intense kids. Her blog is filled with information to help you explore a child led education while making meaningful connections with your children. Discover favorite read alouds, seasonal books, games, art projects, hands-on activities, and learn to just breathe through the ups and downs of life. She loves nature, farm life, good books, knitting, new pens, and hot coffee. Erin is a contributing writer for Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers. Her work has also been featured on Simple Homeschool and Book Shark.

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How Nana Started Chalk Pastels

Some of you have asked how Nana started chalk pastels. I have spent several days trying to compose an essay as to why I finally chose to follow pastel painting as MY art. I have a very long history with paintbrushes and canvas, but I have been literally enthralled with pastel chalks for about 25+ years. Why? Ok, it is the “messiness” that drew me in. What in the world do I mean? Chalks that stain my fingers? Dust that collects on the table or easel?

Noooo! It is the discovery of the kinship that I share with those Impressionist painters from long ago. Those painters that found that chalks only require a few strokes on a paper to see a painting come to life before your eyes! Smudges can be canopied trees in a forest. Darkest purple colors can hint of a secret area under a lily pad. The glory of clouds, stacked up and ready to blow up into a tornado on a spring day! And, best of all…NO mistakes! The artist can brush away a mistake or color right over a stroke. After all, the secret is the IMPRESSION of what you want to paint! Quick, easy and you are done! From your head to your hand, you imagine, paint and remember it!

Now, my beloved artist friends, that’s why I am following what the Master Artist has chosen for me to teach to you: Freedom! And a tiny lift to the corner of your mouth as you smile at your completed pastel masterpiece!

How Nana Started Chalk Pastels

Some of you have asked how Nana started chalk pastels. Nana answers and shares a photo of her very first chalk pastel painting!

Look at what I found under my bed! I admit that I have lots of my paintings in my tiny house and sometimes I just shove a stack out of the way, under the bed or sofa! But this one is very special, and I really haven’t seen it in a while. It is the FIRST pastel painting that I ever painted! Many years ago I painted this from a photo provided in an art class that I signed up for. I thought that it was pretty good until the teacher laughingly said that my clouds lined up and looked like Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Baby Bear! I grin about my “cloud bears”, but I think sometimes I see them in the sky, peeking down at me! Do you love painting clouds with your pastels?

And speaking of bears, you will LOVE Nana’s bear art lesson. A You ARE an ARTiST Clubhouse exclusive lesson that includes the story of the bear that came to visit Nana’s backyard!

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Celebrating a Decade of Art Lessons

Friends, we recently realized that we have over 600 video art lessons in the You ARE an Artist Clubhouse and growing! With Nana’s video lessons and my written, step-by-step art lessons, there are upwards of 800 art lessons total! Wow! That is worth celebrating! We also talked about how Nana shared her first lesson with her grandchildren back in 2009. So we are also celebrating more than a decade of art lessons.

Here’s a quick run down:

All this plus a wonderful community and bonus material. We even have an online calendar for members with daily art prompts and links to archived lessons.

Roughly 800 lessons — worth $4,000! You can have ALL ACCESS with a monthly Complete Clubhouse membership for only $30!

What have you been waiting for? Join Nana in the You ARE an Artist Clubhouse!

With over 600 video art lessons in the You ARE an Artist Clubhouse and growing, we are celebrating more than a decade of art lessons.

To celebrate a decade of art lessons – and to make your membership extra wonderful – we are giving away a set of chalk pastel drawers to organize your chalk pastels. Plus a set of chalk pastels to help fill those drawers! The giveaway is happening over on our Instagram from the evening of 6/16 – 6/21 with winners chosen on 6/22.

Read all about our favorite chalk pastels storage and favorite sets of chalk pastels in our Frequently Asked Questions section.

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How We Use Art as an Alternative To Testing

Before we began homeschooling, my youngest son was in a preschool program near our home. He loved his friends. He loved to play on the monkey bars. What he didn’t like was the frequent testing. In our state, preschoolers are tested in their pre-K year for Kindergarten readiness. 

Every month, his teacher would send home a summary of the test.  Every month, his scores actually declined. Although my son does have some learning differences that made things like learning phonics and basic reading a challenge, I could see that even the things I knew he knew were not coming across in the test. For example, he knew all his colors. Why was he consistently not able to show this skill as part of the testing?

At the time, it baffled both me and his teacher. Years later, I now know exactly why.

Sometimes Nontraditional Learners Need A Nontraditional Approach

My son has always been a nontraditional learner. He thrives with hands-on, experiential learning. He needs music or a story to remember anything detailed, and art has consistently been an invaluable way for him to comprehend and retain learning, especially in science and math. 

My child needs a different approach to his education in general. I realize now, he also needs a different approach to testing and being able to show what he’s learned.

It has taken a while for me to feel comfortable with this approach, which is exactly why I want to share it with you today. Rather than a standard multiple choice, true or false and short answer essay type of test, I have learned that the very best way to really test my son’s knowledge, is to incorporate some element of hands-on learning, especially art.

How We Use Art As An Alternative To Testing

After finishing up a unit study, my son and I sit down and complete a related art project together. When he was younger, it looked a lot like crafts. Now that he is older, it typically involves map work or some other art project displaying an element of what he’s learned.

Throughout our work together on the art project, he and I discuss what he’s learned. Sometimes, I ask him the related questions from the quiz at the end of the curriculum. Sometimes I make up my own.

No matter what the question, I ask in a very conversational manner as we work.

“Why was Thomas Edison’s light bulb the one that succeeded?”

“What is the difference between a nova and a supernova?”

“Why were castles so instrumental in Medieval culture?”

Through this casual questioning, all while my son is actively creating, I am able to get a much more thorough understanding of what he’s learned than any test could possibly provide.

What Art As An Alternative To Testing Looks Like

Recently, as we wrapped up a month long study of  the Louisiana Purchase and the exploration of Lewis and Clark, we sat down to complete the Mapping Lewis And Clark Lesson. As we listened and followed along, he and I discussed what we had already studied.

After completing the map, we used it as a final “exam” as he expertly showed the boundaries of the Louisiana Purchase as well as the path of Lewis and Clark. It was not only an incredibly effective way to gauge his learning, it was a lot more fun for both of us!

Why It Works 

As I consider this approach and the success that we’ve seen with it, I think there are two main reasons why this works.

1. Movement and Activity

For my child, and I know for many others, focus can be a challenge. This is especially true when trying to recall information and communicating what he’s learned.

The movement and hands-on activity associated with art better allows my son to focus. This is true for him in all learning, so it makes sense that this would also be an important component in how we test.

2. Decreased Test Anxiety

My son is a perfectionist by nature. When I think back to his preschool testing and how every month, he actually performed worse than the month prior, I can see now that his own worry and stress associated with the testing itself, got in the way of us really being able to see what he’d learned.

Taking an artistic approach to testing eliminates his test anxiety completely. He is more effectively able to show what he’s learned, because the testing environment is one that is conducive to his strengths and learning needs.

Overall, this has been so successful for us. Using art as an alternative to traditional tests is exactly what we needed to accurately gauge his learning. If you have a child who is a struggling learner or who experiences test anxiety, I highly encourage you to consider this approach. 

After all, how we test is not nearly as important as seeing that our children are learning and making progress.

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.

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An American Art Celebration

Who is ready for an American Art Celebration? History, art, holidays, maps and more! There is simply so much to celebrate. Take a look at the NEW lessons our You ARE an Artist Clubhouse members will enjoy with Nana.

Who is ready for an American Art Celebration? History, art, holidays, maps and more! There is simply so much to celebrate. Take a look at the NEW lessons our You ARE an Artist Clubhouse members will enjoy with Nana.
  • Hymn – America the Beautiful written by Katharine Lee Bates. A teacher, she wrote this hymn while on Pike’s Peak with friends. They had been to the World’s Fair and were discussing man-made wonders and God’s glorious handiwork.

Complete Clubhouse members will also enjoy more American Art Celebration lessons:

  • Composer Francis Scott Key – Star Spangled Banner
  • President James Madison
  • Famous Artist Betsy Ross and the American Flag (LIVE premiere!)
  • Map of France – some founding fathers traveled there, along with Benjamin Franklin
  • Summer Acrylic Master Artist Class (LIVE premiere!)

Online, clickable, daily member calendar for the whole month – right in your member dashboard. (Not to mention a brand new, downloadable and printable Art Planner for 2020-21 for You ARE an Artist Clubhouse members).

More American Art Celebration ideas with lessons for:

  • Independence Day (fireworks with chalk pastels? YES!)
  • National Peach Month
  • National Picnic Month
  • Birthday celebration lessons for E.B. White, Henry David Thoreau, Julius Caesar, Beatrix Potter and J.K. Rowling

Did you know that there is so much to celebrate in July? Art lessons to go with books, nature and all things outdoors!

Free American Art Celebration Video Lesson with Nana

One of our very favorite things is those brilliant chalk pastel colors on dark construction paper. What a fireworks show you can create! To give you a taste of the American art celebration that member artists will enjoy, here is How to Draw Independence Day Fireworks with Chalk Pastels.

Independence Day Fireworks with Chalk Pastels

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Monet for a Day Art Adventure

Have you ever dreamed of your very own studio? How about a studio on your own BOAT? Did you know that Monet owned a small boat that he outfitted with painting supplies and lazily drifted up rivers and canals painting beautiful scenery? Wouldn’t that be a lovely way to see the countryside and use your pastels to make great paintings for use to enjoy today? Ah….to be Monet, just for a day! ❤️Nana. We have joined with our friends at Around the World Stories to create an amazing Monet for a Day art adventure. Just take a look at how you can enjoy a Famous Artist Claude Monet Unit Study.

Join Nana and our friends at Around the World Stories to create an amazing Monet for a Day art adventure! Just take a look at how you can enjoy a Famous Artist Claude Monet Unit Study.

Monet for a Day Art Adventure

You ARE an Artist Clubhouse members enjoy The Way to the Water Lilies story in mp3 format from our friends at  Around the World Stories. What a wonderful adventure story you can listen to and learn about Monet! Listen during your afternoon quiet time, while you are on the go and/or while you paint with Nana. Make learning about the world an unforgettable adventure with Around the World Stories. Have an auditory learner like we do? Oh, you will love combining these lovely stories with Nana’s art lessons!

We have so enjoyed getting to know the wonderful family behind Around the World Stories. Their story is similar to ours – a fellow homeschool family with a passion to share a learning tool. The whole family working together to share with others – only they have traveled the world while doing so! Around the World Stories of famous artists, countries and more all complement Nana’s I Drew It Then I Knew It series so beautifully.

Famous Artist Claude Monet Unit Study

Take a look at how well Around the World Stories’ The Way to the Water Lilies story of Monet matches Nana’s three Monet art lessons:

Monet for a Day Special Event – An Art + Audio Adventure

Together, with Around the World Stories, we are hosting Monet For A Day on Thursday, June 11, 2020. You may, of course, enjoy Monet for a Day any day of the year (and SO much more for the whole family) by joining the Artist Clubhouse and Around the World Stories. But be sure to watch our social media for more Monet fun that week.

What an absolutely FUN way to learn!

Join Nana and our friends at Around the World Stories to create an amazing Monet for a Day art adventure! Just take a look at how you can enjoy a Famous Artist Claude Monet Unit Study.
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5 Reasons Not to Forget Art on Your Back To Homeschool List

Do you know what one of the most skipped subjects is when it comes to homeschooling? Art! Can you believe it? For some of us, skipping art is unimaginable. Whether you enjoy art in your homeschool daily or weekly, creativity is essential to your homeschool’s health. As you plan your homeschool year out and make careful curriculum choices, don’t forget to include art. Here are 5 reasons not to forget art and why you need to begin including art in your homeschool regularly. 

Creativity is essential to your homeschool's health. Here are five reasons not to forget art on your back to homeschool list.

5 Reasons Not To Forget Art On Your Back-To-Homeschool List

  1. Turn that bad day around. It happens to all of us, a bad homeschool day! You can let it ruin the day or use your secret weapon – art to turn the day around. It never fails! Bring out the chalk pastels, and everyone lights up. Better yet, add some sweet treats and yummy drinks, and you can have a complete experience. Try it and thank us later.
  2. Use themes along with art to drive a lesson home. Research tells us that children are more likely to remember a lesson when a hands-on activity is included. With I Drew It And I Knew It, you can pair up a homeschool history lesson, for example, and make it so much more exciting. When you incorporate color, creativity, and fun – your children will remember the lesson. Luckily, ChalkPastel.com has all types of art lessons to accompany history, nature, science, maps, literature, and more. 
  3. Our children crave creativity. It’s natural for them. Creativity allows for personal expression, and personal expression fosters mental growth. Kids can express their feelings and enhance their development when they have creative freedom. 
  4. Art is not only fun, but it is inexpensive fun. When you invest in a membership with You Are An Artist, your whole family can enjoy it! So basically, you can buy one membership, and kids ages 0-99 can all enjoy! This is incredibly valuable because parents, grandparents, and all the siblings can participate in art as a family—what a fantastic way to bond with your children. In addition to the great deal that a membership is for the family, the supplies are minimal. All you need to get started with chalk pastels is construction paper and a box of chalk pastels. Few other art mediums are this inexpensive to get started with. 
  5. Family memories are made around art. Of all the homeschool curriculum you will buy, which subjects do you think make the best memories? Yes! Art. Of all the things we include each day into our homeschool, many necessary of course – most of us want our children to have good memories around the table together. I am sure you know that those memories are less likely to be about math or language arts. But art has the power to create beautiful memories and provide opportunities to bond with your children. 
Creativity is essential to your homeschool's health. Here are five reasons not to forget art on your back to homeschool list.

After a dozen or so years of homeschooling, I have learned that including art is not just adding a little fun to the day. Adding art to our homeschool helps enrich our homeschool and gives my children the necessary outlets they need to thrive at home. Art makes everyone happy! So, I encourage you not to skip art this year, include it in your homeschool and reap the emotional, intellectual, and creative benefits. 

Family memories are made around art. Of all the homeschool curriculum you will buy, which subjects do you think make the best memories? Yes! Art.

If you are still wondering how to incorporate art into your homeschool days, here are a couple of practical ideas to help you plan. 

  • Plan Your Projects – Add art into any subject to make it more fun with this cool art lesson planner. You can easily plan when to add the perfect art lesson to align with your homeschool plans. 
Art is not only fun, but it is inexpensive fun. When you invest in a membership with You Are An Artist, your whole family can enjoy it! So basically, you can buy one membership, and kids ages 0-99 can all enjoy!
  • Set Up Your Art Space In No Time – If you are worried about the time it takes to set up, it took me 10 minutes to set up the space you see in the photos here. (We were enjoying nature art lessons about birds.) You do not need all of these things, but here is what I use to set up and clean up in under 10 minutes. 
  • Baby Wipes
  • Chalk Pastels
  • Construction Paper
  • Paper Plates
  • Butcher Paper or Ikea Paper Roll
  • Packing Tape
Use themes along with art to drive a lesson home. Research tells us that children are more likely to remember a lesson when a hands-on activity is included. With I Drew It And I Knew It, you can pair up a homeschool history lesson, for example, and make it so much more exciting.

Step 1 – I quickly cut pieces of butcher paper off the roll to cover the kid’s workspace. That way, I can rip the paper off when we are done, and there is no mess to clean up. Tape the paper to the table. 

Step 2 – I grab construction paper and chalk pastels. Place the necessary chalks on a paper plate. Again, this helps minimize any mess. 

Step 3 – Put some baby wipes on the table. This makes it easy to wipe your fingers between colors. 

Step 4 – Push play on the Chalk Pastel art lesson and have fun!

Turn that bad day around. It happens to all of us, a bad homeschool day! You can let it ruin the day or use your secret weapon - art to turn the day around. It never fails! Bring out the chalk pastels, and everyone lights up.

I highly encourage you to grab a membership and use art as a wonderful new resource for your homeschool this year. (In addition to the year of art projects for your homeschool, you can also enjoy art summer camp with your membership.) Your kids will be so happy you did! 

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Courtney is a Jesus-pursuing, native Texan, homeschool mom of three, and she believes homeschooling can be a peaceful and productive rhythm. At Grace, Grow & Edify she helps families create peaceful homeschooling atmospheres through faith, organizational strategies, and cultivating strong roots at home.

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What Raising an Artist Looks Like

Today we welcome Stef Layton. Stef has a wonderful family that I like to say, ‘grew up’ with us. Her children started chalk pastel lessons with Nana when they were very young. And she helped us realize that our, now older, artists needed more challenging art lessons. So Nana’s I Drew It Then I Knew It was born to meet that need. We are so encouraged by Stef’s story! I wish I could remember how I first came across Hodgepodge and Chalk Pastel. Almost a decade ago I had read Hodgepodge blog a few times being part of the “online homeschool world”. She was a wise homeschool veteran a few years ahead of me and I was thirsty for direction. Yet I had zero knowledge of this chalk pastels thing she shared. Still, today, I share my family’s story of chalk pastels through the years and what raising an artist looks like.

Once a week magically became every other day as we couldn’t wait to try out another chalk art tutorial. Here is what raising an artist looks like. And how practice grew into an unexpected chalk art business!

What Raising an Artist Looks Like – Chalk Art Yesterday

I was familiar with sidewalk chalk raising my boys on endless games of outside tic-tac-toe and hangman. But this unique art medium was far beyond my pathetic art knowledge which consisted of gluing my fingers together in elementary school. I was happy with a large set of colored pencils and markers. However my oldest son, Jake, at the time in 4th grade, wanted to do “real art”. Markers, crayons, and watercolors were for little kids mostly because his younger brother started using them. This chalk stuff was new territory and honestly I was hoping my son didn’t like it. It was more expensive than markers. It was a bit messy. It required some work blending. Why did we always run out of black construction paper? Chalk pastels were intimidating just when I was finding my homeschool mama stride.

We started chalking slowly. I remember adding chalk art after our history lessons. Chalking a ship for a Christopher Columbus history lesson. Then adding chalk during science. Smudging a red cardinal as he listened to Apologia’s Flying Creatures. Jake, being highly tactile, loved chalk art. We weren’t serious chalkers – yet. If the art fit easily into something we were already doing, then I’d add it to a lesson at least once a week. Once a week magically became every other day as we couldn’t wait to try out another chalk art tutorial. Volcanoes, waterfalls, beaches, tornadoes, and super cool castles – it all came to life on our dining room table. This is what raising an artist looks like.

Enjoying chalk pastel art in space lessons to match Apologia astronomy.
Art in Space – all those colors on black construction paper!

Eventually when Jake started high school he stopped using chalk pastels and started sketching pen and copic markers, his favorite medium. He enjoyed digital videography and film editing.

Then #YouAreAnArtist started trending and I quickly jumped to support with a membership. My youngest son, Henry, struggled with delayed fine motor skills. He was not thrilled to use chalk pastels. Trying to keep Nana a part of our homeschool art time, I allowed him to draw along with the tutorials using thick markers. The artwork definitely looked different but it was easy to pair I Drew It Then I Knew It with the Classical Conversations timeline. Nana does a great job walking students step-by-baby-step through the art process, so with markers or chalk we still created fun pieces of artwork. Eventually Henry’s dexterity improved and we added a space unit with our Astronomy lessons. Although he still proclaims to be more of an “engineer builder than artist”, he still enjoys a chalk lesson. Another instance of what raising an artist looks like.

We are thankful to find such a loveable art teacher. Nana is a peach and not just because they’re in Georgia! I want to bottle up Nana and adopt her for myself. Her southern charm and love for art are endearing. Bless her heart she has made art fun for the Layton family and taught me to stop fearing “art”. To relax and enjoy creating.

Chalk Art Today

Since our very first tutorial many years ago, I have always kept a box of chalk pastels around the house. When the quarantine happened here in Colorado I sent my bored children outside to chalk up the driveway. (lesson learned: black chalk pastels do not like to leave a concrete driveway, ever). I realized my mistake of using chalk pastels on the concrete and ordered a ridiculous bulk supply of generic “side-walk-chalk”.

The different chalk did not stop my oldest son from being creative.  I thought it’d be a fantastic idea to provide the neighbors with something to uplift spirits. First we left dad jokes then we’d put down a little sun or rainbow. Eventually Jake started chalking half the driveway. From Snoopy to Gumball, the Easter Bunny, and butterflies. He’d sketch the outline and we’d fill it in together.

One day I saw on Nana’s Chalk Pastels Facebook Page she was going to create Starry Night. I sent Jake outside with a bucket of blues, yellows, whites, and blacks. He created a 5ft x 7ft masterpiece, something the neighbors stopped to admire.

Minutes after Starry Night was completed on my driveway, when we were covered in chalk dust from head to toes – I hopped into the shower thinking about a long distance friend’s recent “drive by parade”. Her daughter was celebrating five years cancer free. The Facebook video of all their family and friends driving by with balloons and honking – hanging out their windows waving and blowing kisses – it makes me cry just remembering it. I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be cool if Starry Night was on Kim’s driveway as everyone drove by? She deserved it! We could make birthday drive bys a chalk business! 

Van Gogh's Starry Night by JTL Sketches http://facebook.com/jtlsketches (@ChalkPastelArt reshared @laytonadventures image on our Instagram account. It remains the most liked photo in our feed!)
(@ChalkPastelArt reshared @laytonadventures image on our Instagram account. It remains the most liked photo in our feed!)

Not more than 10 minutes later I was walking outside to see if my boys wanted dessert. A neighbor, I had never met before and haven’t seen since, jogged by slow enough to shout that she loved my artwork. MY artwork – not in a million years! For weeks everyone assumed the artwork was done by an adult. I laughed and told her it was my teen. She called back over her shoulder, “I might have to hire him to come do that in my yard”. That angel ran off never to hire my son, but to spark a business idea instead.

Of course my teen couldn’t understand why anyone on this planet would ever in a million years want to hire him. “It’s not a big deal. Everyone can do it. I’m not that good”. He kept debating me. I recognized the rejection in his voice from all the job applications he had been filling out lately. He was desperate to find a job to start saving for next year – college! The rejection was really starting to get to his heart. Also, my son does not believe he’s a good artist because he’s comparing himself to Van Gogh. Who would think they were a good artist compared to that high bar?

Frustrated, I went to the laptop and pulled up his old Facebook page we created for an Art Festival. He sold over $150 worth of ink & marker drawings. I uploaded new chalk photos I had taken over the last few weeks. Then I shared the page in the local neighborhood Facebook Group. “Looking for a birthday, good luck, congratulations, happy anniversary message? Support a teen artist & order a Chalk Driveway Message”. I tagged his page and walked away. If it was going to be of interest all we had to do was wait.

Well, we didn’t have to wait long. He was hired for two jobs 15 minutes after that post. We laughed together and high-fived each other, but he was incredibly skeptical he’d make enough money to even cover the chalk supplies.  The next morning we woke up to eight more job inquiries. Requests from Disney balloons to Fortnite characters. Another Starry Night for an autistic boy and a Bob Ross sunset for a 70yr old woman. Those eight jobs quickly doubled and then tripled.

Stef Layton is sharing her family's story of chalk pastels through the years and what raising an artist looks like.

Since the DMV closed and Jake still does not have a Colorado driver’s license, I offered to be his first employee, mostly so I can ride shotgun on the way to his job. Each morning we wake up early and get to the job by 8am. He sketches the outline in white chalk then we fill in the colors. I usually paint over the chalk with water to blend and spread it better (a little sidewalk trade secret) while he likes to rub it in with his palm. I’ve rubbed off two fingerprints because blending on concrete is far different than construction paper. This is what raising an artist looks like. 

Once the color is down Jake goes back over the artwork for details. It takes us about an hour to do a large 5 ft character. After the job is complete he takes me out for Smoothie King because he knows he has to pay for employee help. And let’s be honest, he’s thankful this crazy hair-brained idea his mother had is actually becoming a legitimate part time job. We work together just about every morning and we’re home within two hours before my youngest son wakes up. Not too bad for a kid who doesn’t think he’s talented.

Chalking a 'thank you' message on our driveway for a 2yr old fan who checks our driveway every morning for a new picture. What raising an artist looks like.
Chalking a ‘thank you’ message on our driveway for a 2yr old fan who checks our driveway every morning for a new picture.

One day while we were chalking a driveway I was overcome with giggles. Jake looked at me curiously. I told him, “A few weeks ago I was thinking how this is your last year at home. It made me a bit sad and I missed the sweet days of bubbles and sidewalk chalk.” Holding up dusty dirty hands I wiggled them and laughed, “be careful what you wish for, huh”?

Truly, I am thankful for this time together. We’re outside in the cool Colorado mornings. We laugh and sometimes get onto each other for mistakes or the fact that someone forgot to measure the letters – again. He takes his gifts for granted and all of these jobs just reinforce the fact that the man-child is talented! What a treat I get to watch it dawn on his face every single time we are finished with a job. As he steps back and declares, “that’s really good”. THIS is what raising an artist looks like.

This quality time together – quality time, his love language … I see it as a gift. The quarantine practically created birthday car parades forcing parents to plan special ways to celebrate birthdays. Had it not been for Tricia and Nana all those years ago reminding us You Are An Artist – blessing us with knowledge, chalk lessons, encouragement and creativity … he’d be downstairs playing video games instead of saving for college. I am overwhelmed with gratitude.

Stef Layton started homeschooling her boys in 2008. She spends most days hiking, bird watching, and picking Colorado wild flowers. @LaytonAdventures. Jake Layton is a high school senior. He likes to sketch, play guitar, and do parkour. Together they run JTL Sketches in Highlands Ranch, Colorado.


Stef Layton started homeschooling her boys in 2008. She spends most days hiking, bird watching, and picking Colorado wild flowers. @LaytonAdventures.
Jake Layton is a high school senior. He likes to sketch, play guitar, and do parkour. Together they run JTL Sketches in Highlands Ranch, Colorado.

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Art Lessons for Parents

Do you hear the knocking on your heart? It’s the call to create! Did you hear the description of how a pastel chalk whooshes across a sheet of paper?  Nana chats with you about how you, too, can paint. You ARE an Artist! She shares just a very special art lesson just for you parents. You moms and dads. Yes, we have had many requests for art lessons for parents. In this podcast, Nana talks about all the possibilities. And coming on May 27th at noon EDT, our members will enjoy an Adventure Tea Cup art lesson! Join the You ARE an Artist Clubhouse today.

Art Lessons for Parents – The Call to Create Podcast

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And be sure to join Nana in our FREE You ARE an Artist Facebook group and our community on Instagram and all the social media as well.

Show Notes:

Nana is passionate about helping you realize you ARE an artist! Not only an artist with chalk pastels but with homeschooling, creative spaces, favorite family recipes and more. Nana also enjoys chatting – especially about art. If you have followed along with any of her You ARE an Artist video art lessons, you know that. She also enjoys sharing photos and thoughts on topics while she is being creative in her studio space on her back porch. That is where she will be chatting with you – from her back porch. It’s Nana’s You ARE an Artist Podcast!