Category Archives: Art & Crafts

Easy Halloween Craft – Cute Rock Monsters

Easy Halloween Craft - Cute Rock Monsters

Halloween’s snuck up on us this year. C(11) and I spent last week in Spain where it still felt like summer, so we only pulled out our Halloween decorations yesterday.

I’m definitely not an uber-organised mum who has a different craft planned for every holiday. Many years I forget we even have Halloween stuff.

But this summer, thanks to Banish Clutter Forever (How the Toothbrush Principle Will Change Your Life) I got round to organising our loft. I even had the foresight to store our Halloween basket next to the Christmas decorations. (Seasonal items – clever, eh? Apparently that’s how naturally-organised people do it.)

Easy Halloween Craft - Cute Rock Monsters
8-year-old C making Halloween rock monsters

Among the dozens of preschooler costumes – which I took to the charity shop this morning – we found these cute rock monsters in the Halloween basket.

I shared these when we first made them, but I couldn’t resist snapping a few new photos yesterday. In case you missed it, here’s how you make them.

What You Need

Flat pebbles

Acrylic paints

Stick-on eyes


White-out fluid (optional)

What You Do

Mix up some fun acrylic colours and paint your pebbles. Once they’re dry, stick on eyes and draw mouths. Paint the teeth with white-out fluid or paint.

When we first made these we had lots of fun inventing personalities and back-stories for our monsters.

This year C(11) and J(10) were too busy making a Halloween pumpkin-carving video to play with them much, but I’m pleased to say the little guys at least got non-speaking parts in the movie.

Easy Halloween Craft - Cute Rock Monsters
C(11) and J(10) making a pumpkin-carving YouTube video

Easy Halloween Craft - Cute Rock Monsters

I originally saw these rock monsters at Coastal Inspired Creations. Do head over to her site for more detailed instructions and lots of other pebble craft ideas.

Easy Halloween Craft - Cute Rock Monsters


I’m appreciatively linking up at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers’ Weekly Wrap-Up.

Love in 18 Languages (+ printable)

Love valentines project

When I came across the book Creative Lettering  at Mothers Daughters Sisters, I knew C(10) and I would enjoy doodling with the fun fonts it contains.

I also love foreign languages, and dabble with them at every opportunity. So I was most over-excited when I had the idea for this Valentines-inspired art project: writing “love” in 18 different languages.

Love Valentines Project

I put together the “love” translations in this document {free printable PDF} and made us each a copy. The languages include German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Swedish, French, Japanese, Chinese, Russian, Arabic and Greek, plus seven more.

Love Valentines Project

Then we sat doodling together for a happy hour or so. We used Creative Lettering for font inspiration but if you don’t have the book you can find plenty of instant, free inspiration with a google image search for fun fonts.

As we wrote the different words, we commented on the similarities and differences between the different languages. We contrasted the word for “love” in the Romance languages (amor, amore, amour) with the Germanic words (Liebe, Liefde). We noticed how similar the Russian and Croatian words are.  And how alike the Mandarin Chinese and Japanese characters are.

Love Valentines Project

Once we had checked off all the languages, we doodled in the blank spaces.

Love Valentines Art Project

Then, after C(10) had wandered off to compose a song, I carried on tinkering with our creations. I photocopied them onto pastel coloured paper and put eight together to make a poster which is now adorning one of our homeschool supply cupboards!

Love Valentines Art Project

We had so much fun with this project. We might repeat it another time with other words – perhaps, “happy”, “spring”, or “joy”.

Do let me know if you try it!

Love Valentines Art project

I’m appreciatively linking up here:

The Hip Homeschool Hop

Wonderful Wednesdays

Entertaining and Educational

Weekly Wrap-Up

Collage Friday

After School Linky Party (2-10)

Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop

Showing Kids Love: Creative Ideas from All Things Kids

Chinese Year of the Horse Art Project

chinese year of the horse art project We celebrated Chinese New Year by doing a really simple, fun art project. First we reminded ourselves what we learned last year about how Chinese (lunar) New Year is calculated.

What Determines the Date of Chinese New Year?

Chinese New Year always falls between January 21 and February 21. Within this range, there are two rules of thumb used to calculate the exact new year date.

The first rule of thumb is that the new year falls on the new moon closest to the beginning of spring (in the northern hemisphere). But if the beginning of spring falls halfway between two new moons (as in 1985 and 2015), the second rule of thumb is used.

The second rule of thumb is that most of the time Chinese New Year will fall eleven (or sometimes ten or twelve) days earlier than the previous year, but if that means that the event would be outside of the possible range (January 21 to February 21), a leap month is added, so Chinese New Year jumps nineteen (or sometimes eighteen) days later.

Story: The Great Race

We read The Great Race: The Story Of The Chinese Zodiac, a beautifully illustrated picture book which tells the story of how Emperor Jade, the King of Heaven, holds a race to decide the order in which to name the twelve years of the Chinese calendar. The Great Race


2014 is the Year of the Horse. We watched Artchoo’s tutorial on how to draw the Chinese character for “horse”, and did the simple watercolour painting project there.

year of the horse art
C(10) used a paintbrush dipped in ink to write “Happy New Year”
J Chinese New year
J(8) has broken his writing wrist, so he stuck to cutting and pasting most of his Chinese characters!

chinese year of the horse collage

Chinese New Year Homeschool Project
Making Year of the Snake art last year

Goodbye, Year of the Snake – hello Year of the Horse!

I’m appreciatively linking up here:

Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop

Adventures in Mommydom

The Hip Homeschool Hop

Entertaining and Educational

After School Linky

Wonderful Wednesdays

Mums Make Lists – Chinese New Year

Art Journaling for Boys and Girls

Art journaling for boys and girls

Art journaling is a wonderfully free form of self-expression.

The very definition of “journal” –  a daily record of personal experiences – seems to bring with it the permission to create whatever you feel like creating at that moment in time – not the perfect piece of art designed to please others for all time.

Art journaling is also a fun way to build kids’ confidence in using mixed-media. It might even inspire writing!

When I art journal alongside my kids, my role is to offer exposure to new ideas, techniques and sources of inspiration.

We might look at books, artwork and websites together and chat about them as we work. But their work is their own. I respect my children’s process, and I would never say anything about their artwork that I wouldn’t say to a friend.   {All pages here are shared with their permission.}

How we started art journaling

We began art journaling by following the simple process described at Notes on Paper. Since then, C(9) has created many pages in a similar way.

art journaling for boys
Pages from C(9)’s art journal

J(8) had never art journaled before this week. When he said he’d like to try it, I was intrigued to observe his process. I just knew it would be different from mine and C(9)’s. {It certainly was – see Art Journaling for Boys below.}

art journaling for boys and girls


* Notebook – any size, any kind. Ours are A4 (letter size) and cost under £3. Or use loose paper and collect in a binder

* Paint, paintbrushes

* Coloured pens eg gel pens, sharpies

* Scissors & glue

* Scraps of coloured paper

* Old magazines or pamphlets

* Stickers

* Optional – gesso, corrector ribbon, date stamper, old books to tear pages from

Art journaling for girls (C(9)’s page)

art journaling for boys
rip a page out of an old book and stick it down with electrical tape. Decorate with gold paper and silver paint
art journaling for boys and girls
add pretty stickers
art journaling for boys and girls
and words cut out of magazines
Art journaling for boys and girls
finish with a few gel pen doodles and thoughts. Stamp on the date
Art journaling for boys and girls
C(9)’s finished art journal page

Art journaling for boys (J(8)’s page)

C(9) and I spent a happy hour or so chatting over our pages as we worked. J(8), meanwhile,  enjoyed himself thoroughly and was done within ten minutes.

Have you ever noticed how scissors and gel pens are completely different tools in a boy’s hands?

art journalling for boys and girls
first draw a nice picture of yourself and your sister (arrow through your sister’s neck optional)
Art journaling for boys and girls
then cover it over completely with random cuttings while maintaining a cheerful running commentary about “severing their heads” as you snip through magazine photos
Art journaling for boys and girls
embellish with some delicate gel pen strokes
art journaling for boys and girls
add a splash of gold paint. Speed up the drying process with the help of a gadget
art journaling for boys and girls
finally, grab a sharpie and add your thought for the day
art journaling for boys and girls
J(8)’s finished art journal page

Art journaling for mammas

Of course I had to have a go too. Here’s how I made my page:

art journaling for boys and girls
in the absence of a thick paintbrush, apply gesso with an old toothbrush
art journaling for boys and girls
add swirls of blue acrylic paint and scraps of coloured paper (in this case photocopied liquid watercolour art)
art journaling for boys and girls
decorate with words, stickers and doodles. Write a few thoughts on strips of corrector ribbon
art journaling for boys and girls
my finished art journal page

Have you ever tried art journaling with your children?

art journaling for boys and girls

I love how each of the  Homeschool Help ladies has interpreted this week’s “journaling” subject differently:

Julie at Highhill Homeschool – Journals: Inspiring Children to Write

Savannah at Hammock Tracks – Homeschool Mother’s Journal – My Other Brain

Nicole at One Magnificent Obsession – Road Trip Journalling!

Bernadette at Barefoot Hippie Girl – To Journal or Not to Journal

Chareen at Every Bed of Roses – Journals in Homeschool

art journaling for boys and girls

I’m appreciatively linking up here:

Hip Homeschool Hop – 9/10/13

Educational and Entertaining – Highhill Homeschool

Collage Friday – Homegrown Learners

Weekly Wrap-Up – Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

TGIF #94 – 123 Homeschool 4 Me

Friendship Friday – Living and Learning with Our New Normal

Share It Saturday – Teach Beside Me

Homeschool Mother’s Journal – So You Call Yourself a Homeschooler?

Virtual Refridgerator – Angels of Heart

All About the Boy – Let’s Hear it for the Boy

Fun with Liquid Watercolours

Liquid watercolour paints fun

I knew my kids would love playing with liquid watercolours the first time I saw them on Pinterest.

This was the first time we used the watercolours so we didn’t have any agenda other than experimenting and having fun. Children learn so much in play.  I provided jars of diluted watercolours, watercolour paper and plastic pipettes. Oh – and lots of newspaper and kitchen paper. You’ll see why in the photos!

summer fun with liquid watercolours
Just a little blue to start …
summer fun with liquid watercolours
add a few more colours …
summer fun with liquid watercolours
summer fun with liquid watercolours
then again, maybe there’s space for a bit more paint …
summer fun with liquid watercolours
oops, maybe that was a bit too much!
summer fun with liquid watercolours
C(9) also went for wet on wet (but not quite as wet as J(8))!
summer fun with liquid watercolours
lovely colours
summer fun with liquid watercolours
I experimented with brushing the paper with diagonal wet stripes
summer fun with liquid watercolours
J(8)’s purple period


Liquid watercolour fun for kids

I don’t know whether liquid watercolours aren’t used in the UK as much as in the USA – I hadn’t come across them before, and had to order them from Amazon US. We had so much fun with a very small quantity, though,  so the shipping cost was worth it. C has even been recycling some of her watercolour art by photocopying it and using it in her art journal.  This is definitely an activity we’ll be repeating over the summer!


Liquid watercolour fun

Hobbies & Handicrafts

Drawing with an Eraser

eraser drawing art project for kids
This is a surprisingly thought-provoking project. The steps are straightforward, but it’s such a different way of creating that I’m sure many new brain connections were forged as C(9) and I worked!

The project comes from our favourite art book of the moment, 52 Art Labs For Kids.

52 Art Labs For Kids

What You Need

  • drawing paper
  • charcoal
  • white or shiny objects (e.g. kitchenware or bottles)
  • kneadable eraser
  • newspaper and a damp cloth to catch charcoal dust and wipe mucky hands
  • (optional) fixer spray

What You Do

Step 1: Arrange your still life

Take a few moments to observe the lightest and darkest parts of the arrangement.

Step 2: Cover your paper with charcoal

Hold your charcoal on its side and rub it all over the paper, leaving a white border around the edges.

drawing with an eraser art project for kids

Step 3: Outline the objects

“Draw” a faint outline of the objects with your eraser.

Step 4: Draw the details

Continue with the eraser, filling in details of the lightest highlighted shapes.


drawing with an eraser art project for kids


Step 5: Deepen darker areas

Use charcoal to deepen darker areas and add shadows.

drawing with an eraser art project for kids


We were really pleased with how our compositions turned out.

drawing with an eraser art project for kids


The back of my mind, meanwhile, is contemplating how drawing with an eraser might be a useful  metaphor for life. I’ll let you know when I’ve figured that one out!


eraser drawing art project for kids


For more creative ideas, visit Hobbies and Handicrafts at Highhill Education.

Highhill Homeschool

Highhill Homeschool

How to Make an Art Journal Page

art journalling
C(9)’s first art journal page


An art journal is a journal or diary that has a strong visual element to it, an expression of your artistic creativity and imagination …

It’s a journal for using your art to express your memories, dreams, and thoughts.

How you create the images, and what type of imagery you make, is entirely a matter of personal choice. There are no rules. You can paint or draw, use pen and ink, photos, collage, doodle, stickers… anything and everything.

Marion Boddy-Evans

Doesn’t art journalling sound wonderful? Inspired by this beautiful post at Notes on Paper on how to make an art journal page, I was eager to try it out.

C(9) and I had the perfect opportunity to do so on Friday while J(7) was on a sports camp.  I think J will enjoy art journalling too, but at his age he’ll be most inspired by seeing tangible examples before he does it himself.

C and I grabbed a cheap notebook each, and followed Julie’s steps:

Step 1: Prepare a base layer with mixed papers.

We used pages torn from an old novel and other scraps, and glued them randomly to the page.

Art Journalling
Prepare a base layer with mixed papers

Step 2: Gather images from magazines and catalogues to create a theme for your page.  Glue them onto your page.

art journalling - theme images
Add images to create a theme

Step 3: Add any extra scraps of paper etc in colours which complement the images you’ve chosen.

Step 4: Flick through your magazines and catalogues again, this time looking for words that suit the mood of your page. Maybe put together the words in new ways. Overlap words and images to enhance your composition.

Step 5: Cover some of the text with a thin layer of white acrylic paint, using a glue spreader.

This was my favourite step. Doing it made me feel like a “real” artist!

Art journalling - acrylic paint
Cover some text with white acryllic paint

Step 6: Flick paint at the page! Notes on Paper suggests ink, but as we didn’t have any, paint worked fine.  We used a pipette.  Best do this with a sheet of newspaper underneath, we found out!

Art journalling  flicking paint collage
Spatter the page with ink!

Step 7: Add stickers.

Julie mentions these type of stickers, which look very tempting. We used stickers we’ve collected over the years, mostly from kids’ comics.

art journalling - stickers.JPG
Add doodles and stickers

Step 8: Doodle on your page, especially around the words. I love how Julie describes this stage: “Let’s just call a spade a spade and say it’s scribbling with gel pens.”

Step 9: Write your thoughts on the page. (The journalling part.) We followed Julie’s genius suggestion and wrote on strips of correction tape. (This was the one resource I bought for the project.)

Step 10: Date your journal page. We copied Julie and used a date stamp.

art journalling - date stamp
Date your journal page

After she’d finished her page C leapt around the house joyfully exclaiming “this is the best day EVER! I LOVE art journalling!”  Since then she’s made several more journal pages and says she wants to do art journalling as a project.

A success, I think!

art journaling 2
My first art journal page

If you’re inspired to try art journalling,  head over to Notes on Paper for lots of examples, ideas and exquisite photos.

Update: to see how our art journaling style has evolved – and how boys can art journal too – see Art Journaling for Boys and Girls.


Children's Art journal pages collage
Art journal pages by C(9) – shared with her permission


For more art and craft ideas, visit Hobbies and Handicrafts at Highhill Education.  For more hands-on projects, visit Tactile Tuesday at Educating Laytons.


Highhill Homeschool

how to make an art journal page - navigating by joy

cute halloween pebble monsters at navigating by joy homeschool blog

Halloween Rock Monsters

Halloween Pebble Monsters - navigating by joy homeschool blog
Cute Halloween Rock Monsters

It’s UK half term holiday this week so we’ve been seeing friends, doing sports courses (the children), decluttering and child-free shopping (me :-)), and tomorrow we’re off to spend Halloween with family in Wales.  And then we’re taking an extra week off next week to go to Center Parcs with friends – yay – I love homeschooling!

Yesterday we found time to make these cute Halloween Rock Monsters – inspired by Coastal Inspired Creations.

Here’s how to make your own cute rock monsters:

1. Paint your pebble with acrylic paint (we enjoyed mixing up colours).

2. Add a mouth and teeth with a black sharpie (marker pen).

cute halloween pebble monsters at navigating by joy homeschool blog

3. Colour your monster’s teeth.  We used a white correction fluid pen, but you could use white paint if you have a good steady hand.

4. Add googly eyes.  We used the self-adhesive kind which meant no messing around with glue (just fiddling around trying to remove the backing paper!).

5. Admire your monsters (and give them names, decide who’s married to whom, and make up life stories and monster scenes :-)).

Happy Halloween!

Making Play Dough For The First Time

When you find yourself filling up whole Pinterest boards with something, you know the Universe is trying to drop you a hint.  In this case, the Universe’s profound message to me was: make a batch of play dough!

It was just as easy as everyone says, and even more sensorily delicious.  I fell asleep last night remembering the exquisite sensation of gently kneading the soft warm dough with the heels of my hands… Ahh, small pleasures.  🙂

As a bonus, you the children get to play with it afterwards!

We followed Tinkerlab’s method:


  • 2 ½  cups flour
  • 1 ¼ cup salt
  • 2 ½  cups water
  • 1 ½  tbsp cream of tartar
  • 5 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Food colouring

What You Do

1. Mix all the ingredients except the food colouring in a big pot.

2. Cook on a low heat, stirring often.

3. When the mixture starts to come together into a dough-y consistency, check it with your fingers.  If it doesn’t feel gooey, it’s ready.

4. Knead it on a surface that won’t stain from food colouring.
5. Divide it and colour each part separately (if you want more than one colour).  We divided it into four.

Extra Fun

Chocolate Orange Play Dough – It seems your imagination’s the only limit when it comes to what you can add to play dough.  Inspired by The Imagination Tree we added cocoa powder to ours, and also extract of orange – chocolate orange play dough – yum!

Sparkles – we couldn’t find the glitter, so we added sparkly stars.

Lemon Play Dough – we added lemon extract to our yellow play dough.  Gorgeous!

How do you like your play dough?

Fun Friday – Pyramids at Sunset

Pyramids at Sunset, by C

Isn’t this cool?  It was a great “Fun Friday” activity to go with our Ancient Egypt unit. I found the project on Amy’s Early Bird Homeschool  blog via Pinterest  (and Amy got the idea from the Crayola website.). We followed Amy’s steps exactly:

1.  Paint the background using tempera paints – orange, yellow and brown for the sand (textured with a toothbrush) and blue, red and purple for the sky. I think the colours are supposed to be more separated than this – our pyramids are at nearly nighttime, I think!

2. Cut out pyramids, palm trees etc from card and paint with watercolours for a muted effect.

3. Stick them on when all the paint’s dry.

4. If you like, add a camel or two cut from black card (we found this the most challenging part – camels are very curvy! But if you get the hump in roughly the right place they’re at least fairly easily identifiable!)


I’m so appreciative when people lay out the steps like Amy did in her post.  Not being artistically experienced, I’m only just discovering the effects you get from different kinds of paint, like tempera, watercolour and acrylic. A year ago we only had kids’ washable paints, which still have their uses, but aren’t so good for painting [shoebox] Egyptian mummy coffins or [Model Magic] cartouches!  It never would have occurred to me to use two different types of paint in one picture.  I’ve also invested in some heavier weight paper – before that everything was sloshed onto copy paper.

It’s very exciting to think of all the other fun arty stuff we have yet to play with!

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