The other Paris quilts

As I was making our Paris quilt, Siena asked me to make her one too.  I found a few Paris fabrics that were a little brighter colors, and she fell in love with them.  Lucas was right there also, asking for one for himself.  And that is my friends, exactly what a crafter mom wants… a heartfelt request that I can oblige happily.

I made her a tote bag first, and I made them both a pillow case.

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With an easy folding in the back.  A simple pillow indeed they’ve enjoyed all year long already. DSC_0019 copy

The quilt they asked me for took longer to make.  Much longer!

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They each picked the fabrics and the colors.  I made the top last winter, so about a year ago.  As soon as I finished the one for our bed.  It didn’t take me long to decide the pattern.    I wanted both of them to be about the same pattern.  And even with that similarities, I think they both look so different.

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So these tops were done for a very long time (a year) before they were completed.

To be continued…


Post – Impressionists : Vincent Van Gogh

Last spring we studied one more Impressionist / Post-Impressionist painter to add to our Painter’s Book we started last year.  The Dutch, Vincent van Gogh.

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After seeing this video again, the kids picked the painter again this time, and agreed to start with Van Gogh, but didn’t have time to do another one last year.  They want to mix the units a little bit, so maybe later this school year we’ll add another painter. We are really enjoying learning more about them, and focusing in one at a time, learning about their life and culture at that time.

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Vincent Van Gogh was someone we got to see lots of his paintings while in London and Paris last year.

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We did a Shades of Grey study, and it turned out good, I thought.  It gave us lots to talk about.

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Another project we did was to copy one of Van Gogh’s painting.

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I took my old acrylic paints from when I took painting classes… way before I had kids.  I think it must be 20 years ago.  Yes, that is a long time…. I am glad we can still use those paints!

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I think they both liked working with that but I think Lucas really enjoyed himself this time.

These are the books and videos we used for this unit:

We also looked online for pictures of the paintings and some ideas for projects to do.  One of the websites I read was from Practical Pages : Practical Homeschool Tips, Plans and Projects.

Hope you can use some of these resources and if you had other ones, please do add them in the comments section for everyone to use. Thanks for coming to visit.

Jumping in London

If you’ve been reading our blog for a while, you know that Siena is in a swim team.  So when we were leaving on our trip this summer, she asked her coaches what dry land training she should do while we were gone.  She was worried she wouldn’t get to swim for a month, and wanted to keep doing something.

Her coach’s replied was “jump every time your mom takes a picture.”  Both, the coach and Siena, knowing this was a whole lot to ask, agreed instead she could jump in front of any landmarks we wanted to remember.  So she did.


DSC_0943-smallPrime Meridian, Greenwhich, England.

DSC_0218-smallAt Cutty Sark in Greenwich, the British clipper ship.

DSC_0315-smallIn the boat back to London from Greenwich.

DSC_0410-smallThe guard at the Crown Jewels building at the Tower of London.  I think he was laughing…

You’ll see her jump in other crazy places… just wait and see!

World Unit : France : The Impressionist, Mary Cassatt

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One of the few women artists at that time (mid 1800’s), Mary Cassatt became one of the painters from the Impressionist group in France.  Originally from the US, she decided to move to Paris, having lived there, and having to convince her parents to be able to do that.  She was in her mid twenties when she arrived in Paris.  Went to school, but as other artists, she learned and enjoy going to The Louvre Museum to copy and learn The Masters.


A pretty story about this painting is the story from the book Suzette and the Puppy : A Story About Mary Cassatt by Joan Sweeney.

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She liked painting women and children.

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It was fun to study her work and notice how it changed in time.  Especially this one, they say she attended a Japanese exhibition and learned to do prints.


We are reading about the museums in Paris and trying to figure out which one will have some of her paintings.   But she wanted to bring her art to the US, encouraging high society women to buy her paintings and then donate them to museums and universities in the US.  She never married or had family, though she was a good friend of Degas, and she burnt all of her personal letters before she passed away.  Leaving nothing to base these rumors.


This horse painting was one of Lucas’s favorite.


We read about Mary Cassatt from this book, and did a project from this one.

A few other resources online we used to study Cassatt’s work:



World Unit : France : The Impressionist, Pierre-August Renoir



Pierre-August Renoir, the third Impressionist we study in our France unit of study this past spring.


From the book we used to study most of the artists this time, we picked this activity to study Renoir. “How to Draw a Face.”


Faces, I find it so hard to draw, but this one was a fun activity.

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As with the other artists, Siena and Lucas add few pages into their notebook, where we are keeping all of our studies on France together.


At the end of their notebook, they have black (card stock) pages to glue postcards or prints of the paintings.  We go to this website, Siena and Lucas each decide which paintings they’d like to keep and remember the artist by, and we print them at home for their notebook.  It’s been fun and their notebooks look so nice. 

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We also painted with tempera.  An activity from this book.

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These are the resources we used to study Renoir:

Hope you can use these resources.  As always, let me know if you have others.  Thanks!

World Unit : France : Art


After reading and learning about France chronologically, starting with the cave paintings of Lascaux, learning about its geography, some history, focusing in few important people in France’s history, we arrived at the time when art had a huge rebirth.  Between the 1800’s and early 1900’s when the Impressionists became the group that seemed to have rebelled from what was the norm in art up until then.


We watched this video, and decided which artist we would learn first.  We started with Edgar Degas and then to Claude Monet. We then followed with August Renoir and then Mary Cassatt (those to come later.)

These are the books and videos we used and came back to while studying the Impressionists:



I think we will continue to study the Impressionists in the fall.  We had a lot of fun, and after seeing some of the original paintings this month when we are in France I am sure it will be fun to remember them.

As always, if you have any suggestions on books, videos, websites, or any resources please do leave them in the comments here, for everyone to see.  Thanks for coming to visit, hope this can be of help.


World Unit : France : The Impressionist, Claude Monet


I think, well I know, Claude Monet was our favorite French Impressionist artist we have studied so far.  We all loved him.  We liked his life story, the paintings, his quirkiness.  We read this book, and I think it gives enough details and information both Lucas and Siena were able to relate to him.


Also fun to know he grew up in Le Havre, a seaport town where our ferry will arrive from England, when we get there.  

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And from this book, we made this project and we had fun reading about his life from these pages as well.  The kids loved it that he started drawing caricatures when he was a teenager and was known for his great talent.

DSC_0002-small DSC_0004-small DSC_0006-small DSC_0007-smallWe made a paper water lily.

Another day we did a painting based on how he painted.  We picked a beach landscape and tried to paint in short strokes.  We remembered the story about Monet and his painting at the beach, as most Impressionists were doing at that time, painting out of doors.   We read of one time he was painting the ocean, and up came the tide and waves, and he got wet and all of his paints were taken by the water.


In one of the books we read, there’s a drawing of Monet painting at the beach, and with the wind blowing, he ended up with all sorts of things stuck to his paintings.  From sand to starfish to leaves… just a funny sight.

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We had lots of books with Impressionist paintings so we can discuss how different they were and to have on hand a copy of the originals right at our fingertips.   To looks at colors, tones, strokes, styles.

DSC_0039-smallAnd we also painted his Japanese Garden and water lilies from his Pink House just outside of Paris, Giverny.   A place we’ve all decided we would like to go visit while in Paris.  Right now, I am trying to figure out how to take the train and how to get to his house, now a Museum.  How neat it would be to be standing right there.


DSC_0040-small DSC_0044-smallHere are Siena’s paintings based on Claude Monet.  I love Siena’s sky with the sun.

DSC_0046-smallThese are Lucas’s paintings. I love his waterlilies.

DSC_0045-smallAnd these are my paintings.


We’ve been keeping our work in binders.  We keep them in separate ones for the most part, by units. So, this is our France book, and at the end we are keeping some copies (either printed on photo paper from pictures online, or postcards I’ve had collected over the years or we have found or ordered recently for this unit.)

The kids have done a great job keeping them organized and looking so nice.  We enjoy looking at them, studying the paintings, sharing them.

These are the resources we used to study Claude Monet:


And we can’t not mention one of Claude Monet’s most influential paintings.  Impression, Sunrise.


Because of this painting, shown at the First Impressionist Exhibition in Paris in 1874 (not called that at the time) is that this group of artists that were trying to break away from the main style of paintings of that time and before them, were called Impressionists.  Name given by a critic not as a compliment but as a way to criticize them.  Little did he know, a name was given to the next generation of Master Artists.

France, Paris : The Eiffel Tower


We read the Night of the New Magicians (#35 Magic Tree House series) when we started our studies of France.  This is why we studied Louis Pasteur, together with other scientists.


Here I’m sharing what we did to study the famous Eiffel Tower.


We drew it.


We read a few books about Gustave Eiffel.  We also found a lot of resources online.  We drew the tower, we talked about it, we figured out when they would be painting it again.  So many neat stories about it.

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And we cut one out from cardstock from an online resource.

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Wouldn’t it be amazing to see it in person?  I can’t imagine standing by it, or walking around the city and having this amazing ‘scultpure’ rising above the city. And think that they thought of it as an eye sore, back in 1890’s.  An incredible piece of engineer work.

These are the resources we used:

And at the end, we add it to our France book.



World Unit : France : World Wars


When we got to modern times in our reading of France’s history, we stopped a little.  I know I studied WWI and WWII when I was in high school (probably), but I hardly remember anything.  So, when we pick what to study next, I always have the kids pick what they really want to do, because I know we learn better that way.  

This time, I wanted to make sure we studied what we wanted to study about the World Wars.

But knowing we are going to visit France this summer, made all this history and geography and stories, and art so much more interesting, than if it was just reading and learning because someone else told us we should.  It made our studies so much easier and so much more fun.  I love it that we can do that.  It is much more relevant, and I know we’re learning better this way.


We focused more in WWII and here are the resources we used.


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On June 6th, it was the 70th Anniversary of D-Day and we read and watched online:

This summer we’ll be able to see some of the pictures and videos and monuments, I’m sure, of this celebration.  We’ll be arriving via ferry from England in Normandy beach.  It feels so lucky to be able to do this.  Study, learn, read books, watch videos, and then go see it in person.

World Unit : France : The Impressionist, Edgar Degas



We began studying the French Impressionists Artists with Edgar Degas, because he is one we’ve had a few books at home already, from when Siena was in ballet classes and she liked reading about Degas and his dancer paintings, maybe 5 years ago.  We even had a chance to go see some of Edgar Degas’s work at the Portland Art Museum.  I felt lucky to be able to see his famous sculpture, Little Dancer of Fourteen Years.


We read this story and we also did an activity from this book, where we painted with charcoal pastels one of Degas’s famous paintings, The Star.

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It was a fun activity to work with charcoal pastels trying to copy a Master like this.  I first drew an outline of the ballerina.  Then we started with the pastels.

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We worked with the sticks, as well as with our fingers.


Looking at the original painting on books and online.

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For a first time working with these pastels, I’d say it was a success.

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These are the resources we used to study Degas:


We used other resources that I posted earlier on a simple list of French Art.  Because we used it for Edgar Degas, as well as the other artists we studied this time.

As always,if you have other sites or books you’d like to share, we would love to hear, so go ahead and leave them in the comments, for everyone to enjoy.  Thanks for coming!