Hudson River School Art Cards

Asher B. Durand (1796-1886)Kindred Spirits1849Oil on canvas

We created the printable Hudson River School Art Cards to help you teach your kids about fine art.  This is part of a series of art and music cards we here at Layers of Learning have created.  Each set includes postcard size images of famous paintings paired with a description card about each painting. The Hudson River School was begun in about 1825 by Thomas Cole and his friend Asher Durand in the Hudson River Valley and lasted until around 1900. It was part of the larger Romantic movement that was taking place in Europe, but instead of ruined abbeys being overtaken by trees, the Americans portrayed their cultural heritage, untamed wilderness. The themes of the Hudson River School include the ability to find and commune with the Divine in nature, the value of wild spaces and human interconnectedness with them, and how civilization encroaches on nature. The first generation … Keep on reading

Glass Marble Magnets


My kids love making glass marble magnets.  They decided to make some into little Valentine’s gifts this year.  You can make them in any theme; we’ve made alphabet ones, some that use each letter in a person’s name, lots of holiday ones, and seasonal ones.  You can also just choose some that have colors, designs, or paper that you like. Here’s what you need to make glass marble magnets:  glass marbles (we use the flat ones), button magnets, papers, glue, scissors, and a hot glue gun.  We also used nail polish for some of ours. Start by putting your glass marbles over various papers until you find the one you like the look of.  We used lots of pinks and hearts since ours are for Valentine’s Day.  This time we used scrapbook paper, but often we just use old magazines and find little bits that we like the look of … Keep on reading

Lesson Planning With Pinterest


I love using Pinterest to get great homeschooling ideas (probably too much!), but all too often in the past I pinned something great and then forgot all about it until after our unit was over and we were on to other things.  Not anymore though. . . I’ve finally discovered a way for me to effectively do lesson planning with Pinterest, quickly and simply. Lesson Planning With Pinterest Perusing Pinterest is my favorite pastime, but when I’m teaching and learning with my kids I’m rarely online, so the two just didn’t mesh for me.  Here are the three ways I finally made it all click: 1.  I printed my pins. 2.  I began deleting pins and never looked back. 3.  I put the printed pins into our planners and unit books. Printing and deleting may seem counter intuitive to the entire idea of Pinterest, but it was like taking control … Keep on reading

Romantic Music Cards, Part 1

Romantic Music Cards 1

These printable Romantic Music Cards include portraits of famous composers from the Romantic period along with a card featuring one of the composer’s most famous pieces and a little information about the composer.  The composer’s name is included on the portrait cards, but not on the description cards so that kids can practice matching the composer to their music. Romantic Period Music The Romantic period in music is part of the overall Romantic movement that also included art and literature. It was a reaction to the order and precision of previous music and was characterized by emotionality. Many Romantic composers were fascinated with the wonders and power of nature and their pieces were composed to depict natural settings and seasons. Further this was the time of the Industrial Revolution and the rise of the middle class. Music was no longer composed to please the aristocracy, on whose patronage artists had depended. … Keep on reading

Teaching Spelling, A How To Guide


I never learned all the spelling rules.  I’m a natural speller and I kinda hoped my kids would be too.  I just look at a word, even one I’ve never seen before, and use my innate instinct to tell if it’s right or not.  Sometimes I have to look words up, but it’s a gut feeling that I know something doesn’t look right that sends me to the dictionary.  My kids got none of this instinct.  The spelling gene just kind of skipped over them. I’ve long maintained that the hardest subjects to teach are often the ones you are best at.  When something just comes easy to you it can be hard to break it down into easy chunks for someone who struggles with it.  It took me a long time to figure out the best way to teach spelling to my kids, but we’re finally making really good … Keep on reading

Our Snowman Breakfast


We had a special snowman breakfast at Grandpa and Grandma’s house. Our Snowman Breakfast The set-up was very simple.  I just used a torquoise plastic tablecloth and darker blue plates and utensils.  I drew simple snowman faces on each white paper cup.  The cups were my favorite part.  Love them.  Each plate had a die and a roll-a-snowman game at it as well. I also put a little snowman figurine in the center of the table.  He was not only a centerpiece, but also the star of our Hide The Snowman game after our snowman breakfast was over. Each person got their own snowman shaped pancake to decorate with M&M’s, both mini and regular sized. Roll-A-Snowman Game After we finished our pancakes we played the roll-a-snowman game.  It’s not a competitive game, just an artistic one.  We sometimes play it for hours, making all different combinations of cute little snowman … Keep on reading

Civil Rights Bus Craft

Civil Rights Bus 4

This is a printable paper craft kids can do to help them learn about the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 60s. Inside the windows of the bus and in the door are some of the most important  leaders of the Civil Rights movement including Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Thurgood Marshall, A. Philip Randolph, and Ella Baker. We chose a bus because one of the major tools to gain publicity for the Black Rights cause and force change were the bus boycotts in Montgomery and other cities.  Also, many date the beginning of the Civil Rights movement to the day when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus and was arrested for it.  This is not the day that people began working for equality and civil rights, but it was perhaps the day that the movement entered the public eye. Before doing the … Keep on reading

Romantic Art Cards


These Romantic Art Cards are printable and intended to be a tool to help you teach your kids about fine art.  The more we learn about something the more we see with a trained eye and understand with a trained mind.  The more we understand the more we enjoy the art.  And that is the real purpose of fine art, to bring pleasure and understanding. The Romantic period in art followed the Neoclassical period and preceded the Impressionist movement, spanning from about 1800 to 1850. Romanticism included many different styles and subjects for painting but was unified by a few characteristics, especially emotion, nature, and current events. Romantic artists were trying to evoke feelings in their audience with the paintings they made. Often the subjects were making social or political statements. Even landscape paintings were intended to evoke feelings of regret, longing, or awe to the viewer. The movement was partially … Keep on reading

Ice Marbles


Ice marbles are the perfect cure for the winter blahs.  We often start feeling really cooped up in the middle of winter with long days of homeschool and short days of sunshine.  These bright bursts of color liven us all up. They are really easy to make, but you have to plan ahead so they’ll have time to freeze before the sun goes down and it’s too dark and cold to play. Fill up some balloons with food color dyed water.  We used full size balloons (12 inch), but didn’t fill them all the way.  You can choose the size you’d like.  Tie the balloons off and set them in the freezer. Let them sit it the freezer until they are frozen solid.  When they are hard, take them out of the freezer and peel the balloon off of the outside. Then put them out in the snow to play … Keep on reading

Cranberry Blowing


I’m a huge fan of all things Christmas, so we always take off the last two weeks in December from homeschool so we can have lots of time for games, parties, baking, crafts, and fun.  We have lots of traditions because I really believe that fun traditions help build strong, close families. One of our Christmastime traditions is cranberry blowing.  It’s one of the games at our Christmas Eve party each year.  A cranberry blow is a contest where each contestant gets a cranberry and tries to keep it up in the air with only their breath.  The cranberry sits atop your lips and you gently blow, trying to keep the cranberry floating in the air longer than everyone else. We all line up along the floor, then on the go signal, everyone makes their cranberry float!  If your cranberry falls, you’re out. It’s much harder than it looks!  It … Keep on reading