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Monday, January 23, 2012

The Art of Exploration

Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

This is week 4 of the Virtual Curriculum Fair and our homeschool topic this week is---

Seeking Beauty: the Arts and Everything that Brings Beauty to Our World

I will be linking to the other participants’ posts at the end of this post as I receive their links.

Art is a big part of one very special boy’s everyday life.001

With a pencil in had, Peter (age 6) can conquer math facts, battle monsters, and even understand some pretty complicated (and gross) aspects of the animal kingdom.

Case in point, on Saturday the boys learned about assassin bugs. Ever heard of assassin bugs?

An assassin bug basically stabs its prey (another bug, don’t worry it’s not out to get you) with its proboscis and injects it with toxic saliva, which dissolves the prey’s innards, whereupon the assassin bug has a little buggy shake.

Peter decided that if God created an assassin bug, He must have created an assassin for the assassin bug. This is his suggested design for an assassin bug killer. ;0)


You see, he has a head-lopping claw, poison spikes, and ichor suckers. I think he’s got it covered.

ichor (from

  1. the liquid that in Greek Mythology was said to flow in place of blood in the veins of the gods
  2. (poetic) any bloodlike fluid
  3. a watery, fetid discharge from a sore
  4. yellow bile

My older son informs me that “ichor” is bug blood and guts and Peter confirms. Um okay, I’ll go with that.

And they say that homeschoolers are limited by their parents’ knowledge. I guarantee they didn’t learn that from me.

Here’s the assassin bug killer in action.


And here’s the “10 monster” that Peter defeats every time he practices his math facts.


Peter also tells stories through his drawings, he has real knack for visual narration.


I was driving when my car broke down

so I went to town for help!


then suddenly



He’s even explored theological concepts through his drawings.


Souls waiting for Jesus to release them upon his descent into Hell.

Peter draws constantly. Drawing is his way of processing the world around him.

If he’s bored, he draws and then he’s not bored anymore.

If he’s excited, he draws to calm down and get the ideas out of his head.


He can explain everything with a few pencil strokes instead of a few thousand words.

Sometimes he takes it 3-D.


Chinese Dragon

To Peter, art is more than just something pretty to look it, it’s a way to help him explore his world and to share it with others.

While we are doing art appreciation this year and my oldest is using a formal art curriculum (Artistic Pursuits), today I just wanted to encourage you to look at art from a less formal perspective.

We always keep drawing materials readily available to all the kiddos and plenty of paper.

Drawing can be a story-telling, a form of self-expression, an affirmation of understanding (Peter often draws narrations of things he’s learned during the day), and even a way to calm the fidgets.

But it needn’t stop with drawing. Imagine sculpting while hearing your history lesson, for instance. Wouldn’t that be fun!

Homeschoolers are pretty good at working hands-on crafty type projects into their studies, we make little lapbooks or build pyramids out of sugar cubes. We color coloring pages and weave cloth from hand-spun threads. Or some such.

And that’s all good stuff. But it’s all extras, the icing, things for reinforcing the main event, right?

Getting the real point across.

What if you turned it around?

Take another look at that Chinese dragon. Peter wanted to make a Chinese dragon that would be 3-dimensional and stand up on its own. He designed and drew all the pieces. He even drew dotted lines for folding. I helped with the cutting out and assembly, because he asked me to. He learned that he needed both right and left feet (symmetry) from the doing. He learned about form. He learned that his folds were in the wrong places. He learned lots of things. And you can bet he’ll remember those things the next time he wants to make a paper creation.

He’s internalized them. He’s ready to make connections.

But he didn’t set out to learn all those things. He set out to make a Chinese dragon. And he did. He learned in the doing and all that conceptual learning was the icing, not the main event. He didn’t need an assignment telling him to explore symmetry and form by creating a 3-D object. He simply did it.

What the mind needs to know, it will learn in order to achieve its purposes.

Sometimes the children need some direction and guidance. And other times, they just need a chance to explore.

I invite you to visit these other great homeschool bloggers who are talking about Seeking Beauty this week. (I will update this post with links as I receive them)

Memory Making by Christine @ Crunchy Country Catholic

Learning Art at Our House by Jessica @ Modest Mama

history, up close by Jennifer @ a glimpse of our life

Fitting in the Arts When Homeschooling by Laura O in AK @ Day by Day in Our World

Appreciating the Arts by Cindy Horton @ Fenced in Family

Beauty in Homeschooling? by Cindy @ For One Another

Heart of Dakota- The Fine Details- Part 4 Poetry & Bible by Lynn @ Ladybug Chronicles

The Art of Art by Brenda Emmett @ Garden of Learning

The Beauty of the Arts - Where Does It Fit? by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory

Learning and Art Library by Angie @ Petra School

Seeking Beauty: The Arts and Everything that Brings Beauty to Our World by Christa Darr @ Fairfield Corner Academy

How to Fit "The Arts" in School by Christine @ Our Homeschool Reviews

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder by Debbie @ Debbie's Digest


  1. Love the story and illustrations- so cute.

  2. My oldest did a lot of that, stories with drawing, when he was younger. I've got a box full of them.

  3. The challenge is deciding which ones to keep, which ones to give away, and which ones to get rid of.

    My basic philosophy for paper work for kiddos these days is: don't make them do it if you're not going to keep it. Because throwing away work they spent their precious time and energy on feels akin to saying it's worthless. So, when it comes to schoolwork, I don't ask them to write it out unless I'm willing to read it and put it into their portfolios. ;0)

    But then there's Peter, who can easily go through a ream of paper a week...what do I do with all those drawings? I love and treasure every one of them, but I cannot possible keep them all and neither can his grandparents.

    Ideas, anyone?

  4. Henry and Peter would get along so well! The drawings and stories look identical to what Henry creates!

  5. We need to get these two together. ;0)


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