Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Home Learning Ideas -- Age Group Pages

When in the last few years of teaching our own nine children, I wanted to write out some ideas for home teaching.  I thought of some of the things we'd learned, and what might be helpful to others when thinking about the upcoming school year, and lesson plans.

So I wrote some articles with "ideas" for home learning.  They have been up on my Gentle Shepherd website for awhile, but just recently I noticed they needed a few typo corrections and some revisions.  So the newly revised versions are all up now--

There are five different documents; for preschool, kindergarten, primary grades, upper elementary, and middle school.  All of these are downloadable from the website (follow the instructions at the top of the page, to download), and they can also be read on the site.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Styrofoam Prints -- Easy to Do, with Great Results!

I was looking for a technique to use for printing that would be somewhat similar to lithography (a design is etched into something, then ink-- or paint-- is applied, then paper is pressed on).  But I didn't want to use regular oily printing inks, and didn't want to have to purchase expensive special materials for scratching into . . .

After a little searching, I found this idea: printing using styrofoam from styrofoam picnic plates!  This looked very interesting.  Styrofoam plates are easy to find, at very little cost. Some styrofoam containers could also be repurposed for this, such as meat trays or fast food holders.  Using a large styrofoam plate gives a pretty big flat area (the center) -- so the tilted edges can be cut off, and this flat area can be used for making a drawing.

Using a pen cap that is kind of pointed (not the pen tip itself; that would cut into the styrofoam instead of pushing it down), a simple design or picture can be drawn in the styrofoam.

Then paint can be added, by brushing some on with a paintbrush, and then a print can be made by either pressing paper onto the styro etching surface, or picking up the etched and painted styrofoam piece and pressing it onto paper.

As you can see, you'll get a mirror image -- so if you want to put words in the design, keep it in mind that you'll need to etch in a mirror image of the word (write each letter backwards, and write from right to left).

Each print made with this technique is a mono print; you can reapply paint to make more of the same, but if you try to make more than one without repainting you will probably not have a very vivid print.  Here are some examples: the tulip on the left is a first print, and on the right is a second print made without repainting.  Sometimes a kind of faded appearance does look nice; so you can experiment with doing reprints, if you want to achieve a lighter look.

So the next time you have some leftover styrofoam dishes or containers in the house, remember "styro-printing!"  You might like to repurpose some containers and try this out; or you can easily find a package of styrofoam plates at the grocery store-- I was glad to find that this material was so easy to make designs in (with a blunt, rounded but kind of pointy instrument-- a knitting needle or crochet hook could also work for this; I think another time I'll try using those . . .)