This time of year is always so full of all the extras. It's all fun and good stuff, yes, but necessary stuff that cuts into the normal schedule. Really, I'd like to just not do any school from about mid-November until mid-January, but that's not a realistic plan for us, unfortunately. I do try to change things up just a bit and relax some; if I don't give somewhere, the pressure of so much going on tends to build until I melt down. This is the time of year I look for the tried-and-true simple things to keep us learning and enjoying school time.
One of my favorite resources is Storybook Art by MaryAnn F. Kohl and Jean Potter. This book is full of art projects for kids based on 100 picture book illustrators. Yes, you can go on to Pinterest and find book-based art projects, but I've used this book for years and I think there are several advantages to it.
There are many books included you may not have heard of before. We've probably all heard of Eric Carle and Chris Van Allsburg—and they're included, too—but how many of us are familiar with the work of Joan Steiner or Roger Duvoisin? Storybook Art includes so many different books that there are sure to be some that are new to you!
The book is well-organized. I can quickly open the book and see what kinds of styles the projects are, how difficult they are, and how much time they're going to take. I love that! There is even a chart that shows all the birthdays of the included illustrators in case you want to approach them that way!
There are a many kinds of projects included. Styles include painting, drawing, cut/collage projects and crafting/construction projects. Within these categories there is still more variety; a painting project might entail painting with diluted coffee grounds or other substances to create a mono color effect or it might be as simple as trying a new watercolor technique. There's something for everyone!
There are no surprises. Several times I've pinned an idea on Pinterest only to open it up and find that that simple little craft actually requires five hours of work and the assistance of a fine arts major. Well, maybe not quite that extreme, but I've certainly been surprised to find that what looks like a simple art project actually takes much more time, skill, and parental involvement than I realized. Each project is clearly labeled (with pictures, so not even reading is required) to show the level of skill the child needs and how much adult involvement is needed. This makes planning so simple!
This is a great way to include all of your kids in a project at the same time. Yes, these projects are based on books for younger kids, but the focus is on the artist's technique, so your older kids who might think the story is too babyish for them can find something "big" to do with it. While I've been doing these projects primarily with my six year old, my eleven year old has wandered in to work with us several times, drawn in by the familiar stories. I love this!
Plan a whole week of fun stories and art or add in a project each week, whatever works for your schedule. Just find some time to relax and come in from the noise and bustle with your kids and enjoy this wonderful time of year together!