Holiday Scheduling

The holidays always slow us down during the school year. With all of the family visits, church programs, holiday parties and preparation, it sometimes seems impossible to get it all done. When we added our NaNoWriMo work to it, the schedule took a rough bunch of knocks.

How Do You Do It All?

I’ve come up against this question several times over the course of my home schooling career. The truth is that you sometimes have to roll with the punches and just keep moving forward, even if you’re only taking baby steps. “Progress is progress, no matter how small.” Right now, we are focusing solely on the four core subjects: Math, Language Arts, Science, and History. The other subjects are on technically on hold until January.

Side Benefits

However, holiday preparations, parties, church or community programs, and family visits offer different kinds of learning experiences. Home Economics, leadership skills, community service, social interaction activities, all these and more are wonderful benefits during the holiday season. Don’t dismiss the many good life lessons your children can learn by helping to plan a holiday party, helping to cook one or two dishes for the holiday meals, helping with charity projects, or singing in a musical or theater production.

What fun the holidays can be! If your schedule is getting you down and becoming more like drudgery, why not drop it down to the basics and leave some room for life skills training? You may find it to be more fun and enriching than you ever thought it would be.

Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.

Photo Resources

There are lots of photo resources out there, but finding a true open source website can take a huge chunk of your time. If you’re like me, you don’t have a lot of time to spare.

einstein-imagination – By clicking this link, you’ll be taken to my page where you have the option of downloading this item. Please be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom of the page to check my copyright for the usage details.

Why Add Photos?

As a child, I remember having the most fun with the workbooks which employed pictures or artwork in the margins. I’ve been making my own tests for several years now and I find it makes the process more fun for me if I have a nifty bit of clip art or a pretty photo to add to them.

Imagine Invent Explore.jpg – This work is not available as a free download, but if you are interested in using it, please visit our contact page and leave me a message.

I’ve Decided To Add Graphics. Now What?

Now that I’ve decided to add graphics to my teacher created documents, I have two choices to make.

  1. Will I make my own graphics? or…
  2. Will I add graphics that have already been created by someone else?

If I decide to go with option 2, I have some other decisions to make.

  1. Will I ask a friend to create the graphics for me for free? At a reduced rate if they do this as a business? Is it even proper to ask for a discount?
  2. Will I shop for graphics at a website such as Shutterstock? You’re probably familiar with this particular site because it’s pretty widely used and also widely promoted by the search engines. As a matter of fact, if you type into your search “royalty free clip art” or “open source clip art,” this site will assuredly pop up. Unfortunately, nothing on Shutterstock is open source. All their graphics will cost you something. They are reasonably priced, though.
  3. Will I try to find free, open source clip art which allows me room to be creative? If you choose this option, try visiting The graphics on this site are totally free to use, but do read all the copyright information on any website you visit to be certain and avoid nasty copyright violations.
  4. Would I like to support a starving artist? Or help jump-start a brand-new artist who’s just getting their work out there? Try a site like deviant.Art where you can find a wide range of art, line art, graphic designs, photos, textures and much more which are offered as free downloads. Just be sure to check the artists’ copyrights on each item you wish to download. Those vary by artist.

Things To Watch Out For

You’ll have to watch out for “hidden” restrictions. They’re not really hidden, but sometimes you do have to actively search the websites for all the copyright details. And some sites, like deviantArt, offer the artists a variety of copyright options. You have to read the details on each piece of art, which are located at the bottom of the page. Click on the photo or artwork you like. Once the page loads, scroll all the way down. You’ll see the copyright in the lower right corner of your screen if there is one. These are some of the questions you may need to answer with research.

  1. Can you alter the graphic?
  2. If you want to sell the item you’re using the graphic on, is there a sales restriction or rule you need to follow?
  3. Do you have to credit the original artist?

Once you read all the fine print, go through all the copyright details, etc., you’re ready to download and add a little spice to your teacher-created materials.

sunset-glory – This photo is not available as a free download. If you’d like to use it for something you’re working on, please use our contact page to leave me a message.

But What Do You Do?

I have done some decorative work on my own, using my own artwork and graphics to decorate teacher materials. This year, I started using to add more variety to my school document clip art folder. (If you happen to check out my gallery in the link above, you’ll see why I need to add to that folder. My work is pretty organic and sometimes doesn’t fit the subject we’re studying.) I also check deviant.Art regularly for items when I know I’m not going to sell what I’m creating. I’d rather pay the artist if I have an intent to sell the work I’m using their art in. As a fellow starving hobbyist, I totally understand the struggle of having work out there that no one is willing to take a chance on. If you do visit my page and would like to use one of my items, like the ones shared in this post, please do send me a message through my contact page and I’ll get back with you as soon as possible.

If you create your own tests and worksheets, why not try adding a little spice to them by checking out one of these sites? Who knows? You may find a way to help others at the same time!

Starting A Club

Have your kids ever pretended to have a book club? What about a kite club? Ours have! When school started last year, they asked me about hosting a club once again and I thought, “Why not?” Art was the only area I really felt we’d all have fun with. You should never try to tackle something you don’t have an intense desire to do, or at least have a strong desire to learn about. And so the Opia Homeschool Art Club was born.

For years, hosting any kind of regular meeting seemed like such a daunting task. I knew I would get little help from other homeschool moms in this area. We’re all so very busy and it’s a rural area so we’re several miles away from each other. I knew I’d have to be OK with taking on the bulk of the responsibilities.

We sat down with our girls and tossed around a few ideas and came up with a fair amount to ask in dues and a safe age range which would allow us to try some of the more advanced media. The part I didn’t ask their help with was the rules and member guidelines. (I’d share mine here but mine were specific to our needs. That will vary by group and the area you live in.) The following list might help if you are considering starting a club.

Things To Consider In Starting A Club

  • Topic of Focus – As I said above, don’t choose a topic you have no interest in. You’re going to be meeting several times each year and discussing this topic every single time. It’s best to be as general as possible to give the members room to be creative.
  • Responsible Party(ies) – Who’s going to be responsible for all the things that a club entails? Reminders, scheduling, newsletter, advisor(s), social media etc. all need to be decided before you start because you may be the only one dealing with all those items. I take care of those things this year because I ended up doing all of it before the year was up last year. Don’t try to tackle more than you can handle!
  • Guidelines/Mission Statement/Rules – You need some kind of written list of rules so the potential members know what’s involved in joining the club and what the boundaries are. It makes club meetings run more smoothly when everyone knows what’s expected of them.
  • Club Officers or Not? – Will your club have officers? If so, you will need an officer handbook outlining what each officer’s job is, what they will be expected to do. The club advisor should be the person holding the officers accountable and pointing them back in the right direction if they are trying to cut corners.
  • Dues – Most clubs have dues but it isn’t necessary in all cases. If your club members bring their own supplies and you trade off snack duty with the other parents, maybe you don’t need to ask for membership dues. Some things you might need dues for: rent a meeting room, snack fund, field trips, visiting demonstrators, supplies for the meetings, club t-shirts, and/or contests/prizes.
  • How will others benefit? – What will the potential members gain from joining your club? My main objective was to provide an environment that was not nerve-wracking in which all the club members would be comfortable in presenting their own demonstrations to the other members. I also wanted to give the members an opportunity to learn the responsibilities of working together as a team and what it meant to be a leader.
  • Conflict Resolution – In any group, there will be a conflict. It may not happen very often, but it will happen. If you aren’t good with conflict resolution, then I recommend taking a class or asking any parents who are good at it to be on hand. I’m not so good at it, but my husband is.
  • Social Media – You’ll need to decide if you want to create pages on a social media website for your group. Before you do, think about the age range of your group and whether or not it will be for the parents of the group, for the members, or for both. I opted out of a facebook page and chose to host a forum on I chose this site because I already had some experience with it and I knew I’d be able to protect it with a password. I felt it was a safer environment than facebook and it also meant I didn’t have to visit facebook when I didn’t really want to go there.
  • Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff – You’re going to find that any plan you create will need some tweaking. Don’t feel like it’s a complete failure if you couldn’t plan for every eventuality! Just make a note and add it into the plan…or take away the problem area from within the plan. Whatever you do, don’t give up after only one year. This is something I’m learning this year.

This is certainly not a comprehensive list. These are some of the things I considered before starting the club. Once your list is complete, you can see at a glance which direction you’ll need to go from there.

Our club meets once a month from September through May. We try to ask local artists and artisans to present their art to our members and give them tips and pointers. We offset those demonstrations with club members presenting an art form they find interesting. Last year we had officers. This year I thought it was too much for our very small group. We only have 5 members and while we kept the treasurer’s position, we set the other positions aside for now. I hope we’ll be able to continue with our club but finding a date that works for everyone who’s interested has been difficult. In the end, I had to go with a date that worked for my family since we host most of the meetings at our home.

Starting a club and keeping it going is a big challenge but it’s definitely worth it. Our girls really enjoy meeting with other students and creating art with them. It’s been very good for both of them. TheShi has done a demonstration on watercolor painting. Another of our members did a demonstration on whittling and we’ll have a guest demonstrator coming in next month to talk about video manipulation. Because art is such a vast topic, we could cover anything from music, to film, to building, to writing and any other topic in which the imagination is used to create something meaningful for the enjoyment of others.

Is there a topic of interest to your kids in which they and others could benefit from the introduction of a club? Why not give it a try?


Work in pencil and pastel by members in our art club in 2015 – photo by Melody Kittles