How We Homeschool

Friday, October 14, 2016

Making a Coat of Arms

Make a Coat of Arms, free resources at Homeschooling Hearts & MindsMy three younger kids are currently studying the middle ages.  This week we had a lot of fun learning about heraldry and the kids each created his/her own Coat of Arms.  This is a fun art activity that goes well with history, but also literature---consider adding it if you are reading the Chronicles of Narnia or King Arthur for your read aloud.

There are a ton of resources on the web on heraldry, but sometimes less really is more.  It’s very easy to get bogged down in too much information and lose sight of things in a jumble of details. 

I discovered Owl & Mouse way back when we first started homeschooling and my 16-year-old was just a 2nd grader.  They still have the same free (great!) resources for studying history and geography. 

This week we used their detailed info on heraldry and printed templates for our Coats of Arms.  Maybe next week we will print the templates for building a medieval castle.  Or a village.  Here are my kids’ creations---what a great way to spend the afternoon with only the investment of a little paper, printer ink, crayon, colored pencils, markers, and (of course) time.

coat of arms image 1Emma (age 7)


coat of arms image 2Peter (age 11)


coat of arms image 3Mary (age 12)

We printed our shield and charges templates from Owl & Mouse.  Note: the program they have for some reason sets the templates to print very close to the edge of the paper (outside of the printer margin for my printer in our case).  I recommend setting it to print to fit the page or to print to the edge and doing a test print before printing the rest of your templates.  In a pinch, you can finish the template with a black marker if your margin cuts it off.

What projects have your kids made while studying the middle ages?

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Fuzion Cityglide Scooter for Teens and Adults (a review)

Disclosure: The product reviewed in this post was provided by the sponsor.  All opinions expressed here are my own.  This post contains affiliate links.

Your child takes out her well-loved scooter and discovers that she’s too big for it. 

The deck is too small to accommodate her ladies’ size 10 feet, the handles are too low for her to hold them without hunching over, and the wheels are too small to give give her a smooth ride.  Somehow over a period of months, she grew into a full-size person and she needs a scooter built for teens and adults.  The Fuzion Cityglide was built for her.

Fuzion Cityglide Scooter for Teens and Adults a review at Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

My 12-year-old daughter, Mary, recently had the opportunity to try out the Fuzion Cityglide Scooter for Teens and Adults. 

The scooter comes in a box folded and needing to have the handles attached.  Assembly was fairly simple, but the picture only instructions were a little confusing---I had some trouble unfolding it at first, but got the hang of it.  After adjusting a screw and then folding and unfolding the scooter a few times, it was a cinch to fold it or unfold it.

Fuzion Scooter disassembled6" wheels










The scooter comes with a little hex wrench and a shoulder strap the can be hooked onto the front for easy carrying.

Here it is fully assembled:

Fuzion Cityglide scooter fully assembled


And here it is folded:

Fuzion Cityglide scooter folded

Mary chose the red/black color combo, but the Cityglide is also available in green, yellow/black, and black.


  • Wheel center to wheel center: approximately 27”
  • Height from ground to top of handle bars: approximately 37” at highest setting
  • Foot bed: 4-1/2” wide by 13” long from handle to wheel
  • Wheels:  approximately 6”

Here’s how the Cityglide looks next to my daughter’s feet so you can get an idea of how large it is:

large wheeled scooterscooter for teens










Here is how it compares size-wise to one of our old kid scooters:

fuzion cityglide size compared to razor kick scooterfuzion cityglide size comparisonYou can see the big difference in wheel-size, height, and length.

Mary has been putting the Cityglide through its paces. 

She’s been impressed with the smooth, quiet ride, but she does prefer to ride it without the shoulder strap attached (it rattles like crazy if it’s hooked on while she’s riding it).  The strap is a little finicky to take off and put back on again, so we leave it off.  As she probably won’t use the shoulder strap anyway, this isn’t an issue for her, but something to consider if you specifically want an easy to carry scooter. 

It has a weight limit of 200 lbs, so it’s unlikely my daughter will outgrow it.  The height is great for her 5’5” frame, but I think even if she grows a few more inches she’ll be able to ride it comfortably.

Most of the Cityglide is made of metal, but the wheels and the break are plastic.  The handles have soft foam cushioning.  Unlike some scooters that have a molded non-slip texture on the deck, the Cityglide has a stick-on decal that feels like colored sandpaper.  I am a little concerned about the durability of this scooter.  We have had it for about a month and it has only been ridden a few times (weather issues), but the non-slip sticker has already started to come up near the back.

large wheels, plastic breaknon-slip grip










I do not know how well the wheels and break will hold up with constant use.

wheel wearThe finish on the black painted metal also seems a bit thin and is chipping off in some places:

finish wear

Overall, we like the Fuzion Cityglide a lot and would recommend it for the smooth ride.  One of Mary’s complaints about her old scooter (in addition to it being too small) was the vibrations it sent through her arms.  This is definitely a big step up from a her rattle-y old kid’s scooter, and Mary is enjoying her new wheels. Only time will tell how well it will hold up.

Check out the video to see the Fuzion Cityglide Scooter in action:

Mary is looking forward to getting a lot of use out of her new Fuzion Cityglide Scooter now that the weather is cooler.

Do your teens like to ride scooters?

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Studying Van Gogh in Our Homeschool

This post contains affiliate links. 

Studying Van Gogh in Our Homeschool, includes art projects, links to free resourcesThis year we’ve been doing a combination of art projects and picture study in our homeschool and for the past few weeks, we’ve been focusing on Vincent Van Gogh, one of my favorite artists.

I love his bold colors, his minute attention to detail, and the way he infused the canvas with living emotion.  There is nothing flat or uninteresting in a Van Gogh painting. 


Wheatfield with Crows, 1890. Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam



Self-Portrait, 1887, Art Institute of Chicago



Sunflowers (F.458), repetition of the 4th version (yellow background), August 1889.

Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam


You can see Wheatfield with Crows and other Van Gogh paintings literally come to life in the “Crows” portion of Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams.  Watch a short portion here: 


To read a biography of Van Gogh and view several of his best works onscreen, visit Garden of Praise. 

If you scroll down to the bottom of that page, you’ll also find some online and printable activities, including a crossword, memory puzzle, and more. They also have a nifty Van Gogh slideshow here.  This is one of my favorite sites for free art appreciation resources.

Each week in our homeschool, we have been looking at and discussing one of his paintings. 

I’ve loved using the high quality prints and picture study pages from the Famous Artists Notebooking Set, but you could also view your prints online or print them from Garden of Praise or elsewhere.  Picture study can be done orally or kids can create their own notebooking pages from scratch.

Van Gogh Picture Study Homeschool

Van Gogh Picture Study HomeschoolOur art projects have been inspired by Van Gogh, rather than attempts to copy his work or technique.  Really, we’ve just been having fun with different media, color, and form.

In honor of Starry Night, we made chalk pastel paintings on large sheets of black construction paper.

Van Gogh inspired chalk artMary (age 12)


Starry Night inspired chalk artPeter (age 11)


Exploring chalk art paintingEmma (age 7)


Chalk art Me (yes, Mom got in on the act, too)


Then I found this need idea from Harmony Art Mom to do a watercolor painting collage.  While it might pair more readily with an abstract artist’s work, it seemed a great way to look at color, so the kids gave it a go.  I’m going to show you the original watercolor they each painted, followed by the final collage.


watercolor painting

The amazing thing about Emma’s painting was that when it was cut into squares and we looked at each one separately, they looked like mini landscape paintings.  The overall finished piece was truly a transformation.  She decided to so an asymmetrical configuration for her collage:

watercolor painting collage


watercolor painting 2

Peter started out with a bold painting of a monster lizard.  Here’s is collage:

watercolor painting collage 2

Mary’s began with an intricate design:

watercolor painting 3

Any of her squares looked like mini abstract paintings.  She decided on an intricate layout for her collage:

watercolor painting collage 3

We had a lot of fun with this project and the kids were thrilled with the results.

What art have your kids been creating?

Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.  When you make a purchase through an affiliate link, the affiliate may receive a commission at no cost to you.  Thank you for supporting Homeschooling Hearts & Minds