Category Archives: art

String Art – Initials

String Art Project

To kick off our school year, our church group got together for lunch and an activity. One of the ladies suggested doing some string wrapping. We had some string at the church building that was part of a stash of yarn and string belonging to a sweet, kind lady that is affectionately referred to as Mama D. Mama D has gone to her heavenly reward and is much missed here but has left behind an amazing legacy of love and gifts. We used some of her string for the students to create an initial of their own, giving each of them yet another special something from Mama D.

nail examples

We used leftover plywood that we spray painted and cut a piece of paper the size of the wood block. Then we used a pencil to draw a block letter that would fit the wood. The students had the choice of a simple outline or a crossing pattern. For the simple outline, we just put nails in at each place where the string needed held in a particular shape. If they chose the crossing pattern we put nails every inch or so. We were not really particular and let most of the students pound their own nails in.

string art images

After the nails were in, we tied the string to a nail and let them go at it. The outlines were good for the younger group and the older group really enjoyed doing the crisscrossing. They all came out lovely and they were really quite simple to do. Such a fun project to start our homeschooling year off.

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Kwik Stix now at BJ’s!

In the past, we have used Kwik Stix for tons of art projects and craft activities. Produced by The Pencil Grip, Inc., Kwik Stix is a wonderful paint product of solid tempera paint that can be easily and cleanly used by all ages. But here is the big news of the day – Kwik Stix can now be purchased at  BJ’s Wholesale Clubs! (BJ’s are found all up and down the East coast of the US, just in case you were wondering, as I was.)

Kwik Stix pack

As I mentioned, we have used Kwik Stix in the past. We have used them on canvas, paper, board, and more. Just about anything you would use paint on, Kwik Stix will work. We have even heard of them being used to paint rocks. This solid tempera paint works wonderfully and produces bright colors. With no water and no brushes, the cleanup is quick and easy. I do recommend putting something underneath the work space, just in case the paint goes over the edge of whatever you are using it on. Want to see more? Check out our reviews from the past – a Christmas project (note that giveaway is closed) and using Kwik Stix on art lessons.

The Pencil Grip, Inc. is creating some neat products, with Kwik Stix up there on that list! With availabity growing constantly,  BJ’s Wholesale Clubs is just the most recent addition to the places you can get Kwik Stix. Be sure to check them out for your next art project.

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DISCLAIMER:  Once in a while, At Home: where life happens receives a free product or service in exchange for an honest opinion expressed on this blog. I am not required to write a positive review, nor am I additionally compensated for these reviews. I share my opinions, and my family’s opinions, of these products. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.





Paper Mache Help from ACTÍVA Products ~ a Crew review

Activa crafting kit review

Crafting seems to be a constant around here and the idea of having some new ideas and products to work with is always exciting. When we heard about ACTÍVA Products and their Rigid Wrap and CelluClay Quik-Sculpting Kit, we were excited. Miss L loves to create all sorts of things and these materials would be just right. And to make it even more exciting, Activa is offering everyone a copy of their free ebook ACTÍVA Products’ Favorite Sculpture KIDS CRAFTS, which has full-color pictures and directions for creating a number of projects with the kit.

ACTÍVA Products is a company that specializes in crafting materials. They offer paper mache products as well as other several other clay products, colored sand, casting materials, and even a few flower arranging materials. Their site also offers a huge number of ideas and instructions for creating projects with their offered materials. I got a lot of inspiration and have lots of ideas that I want to create.

The Kit

Rigid Wrap and CelluClay Quik-Sculpting Kit
We received the Rigid Wrap and CelluClay Quik-Sculpting Kit for this review. When they arrived, there was a lot of excitement and we immediately pulled out the packages to look things over. In the box, were unlabeled packages and a photocopied instruction sheet. I’ll admit – these kind of dampened the excitement because I had to tell the kids that I had no clue what any of it was or how to use it. Labels would have been good and instructions on each product of how to use it would have been good.kit contents

After some research, I figured out that we had two rolls of 4 inch wide Rigid Wrap and one 8 oz package of CelluClay. But I still had to do some reading and researching to figure out how to use them. There was, on the copied sheets, instructions on the Rigid Wrap but I had to go to the website to find a sheet of instructions for the CelluClay. (I found it by searching for CelluClay. There is a link to the sheet on the page for the 1 lb package towards the bottom of the page on the right hand side.)

We did finally jump into projects but it was a bit intimidating. It was also very messy. I was very glad I had covered the table with a plastic cloth. And the kitchen floor had needed mopped anyway. These products create a lot of dust and very fine particles.

Rigid Wrap

Rigid Wrap

Miss L chose to use the Rigid Wrap and created an angel and a rose. Sculpting those from the Rigid Wrap took some patience.

Miss L working

To create the angel, she had to build up the biggest part and add the details slowly, The White Angelallowing a bit of drying time in between. The wings took some finesse but she just patiently molded and shaped until they were as desired. Then she held them in place and I fanned until they would hold their shape. After she got it how she wanted it, she set it aside to air dry. This took about 5 days to fully dry and it dried to a matte finish white. She has a collection of angels that she loves that are minimally colored and for now, she will leave this one white, as it fits fairly well into the collection.

For the rose, she cut each individual petal and one strip about 6 inches long. Dipping the roselong one into warm water, she then rolled it up for the center of the rose. Dipping each petal into the water, she would add it to the center, adjusting each petal to the shape and placement she wanted. She would then hold it in place while I fanned it to help it set and dry a bit. With so many pieces all on top of each other, it has taken a long time to dry. She had to leave for camp before it was dry so it will be painted when she returns.

I wasn’t as brave but I did want to try the snowman starproduct myself so I took on the star and snowman ornament from the ebook. Using a cardboard star cut from a box, I cut strips of Rigid Wrap and placed them over the star. Using my fingers to smooth it out and down over the edge, I covered the cardboard. After letting it dry for a bit, I took some of the scraps we had from other projects and used them to scrunch and fashion a snowman. I got the strips a bit wetter so they would stick better to the flat form. I was able to create some definition and depth by twisting and scrunching up the strips as I placed them. After it was fully dry, I painted it. While the yellow paint was wet, I shook some gold glitter down over it to add some sparkle. I hot glued the ribbon onto the back. I kind of like this little snowman. He brought some cool to the hot summer!



The CelluClay, a recycled paper product for instant paper mache, I was a bit leery of. I didn’t feel like I had good instructions. But knowing I needed to at least try it out, I dove in. This product feels like the lint from a dryer. It is just as dusty, too. Please take precaution; inhaling this is awful, causing a lot of coughing. I guessed at how much I would need to make three ice cream shaped pieces from a candy mold I have. I put it into a plastic ziplocking bag and added a bit of water. I added just a bit of water at a time, zipping it closed, and then mashing it around through the plastic to mix it up. Once I felt like it was well mixed, I tried to use it. It was like pulling soggy paper apart and I had to add additional water. I was finally able to get it to a consistency I could use.

I packed it into the mold until it was level on the back and I felt I would get good definition on the front detailing. I then removed it from the mold and added a red bead to be the cherry and to put a cord through. Then, I let it dry. It took about three times as long as I expected for it to dry. I even tried to speed it up, as they recommended, by using a hair dryer. I did that for about 15 minutes and felt like it did not really make much difference. So I left it to dry overnight at that point. When they were dry, I painted them and added the string.

ice cream necklaces

I can see several possibilities for CelluClay now that I have used it. I would love to see the company add good instructions to the kit’s box, either printed on the box or a sheet inside that addresses both products and is easier to read. The project ideas are fantastic and I would love to see more product ideas for CelluClay come with the kit, as well.

ACTÍVA Products has some interesting products and ideas. The  Rigid Wrap and CelluClay Quik-Sculpting Kit is a great way to introduce your kids to the opportunities that abound with these products.

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Others have been creating some amazing projects with this kit, as well. Head over to the Homeschool Review Crew blog by clicking on the banner below to find other projects.

Rigid Wrap and CelluClay Quik-Sculpting Kit {ACTÍVA Products Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Driveway Art

Driveway Art whatever inspires

Do your children pretty up your driveway with art? I just love it when I walk out, or am backing out of the drive, and see it all cheerful and colorful. Lots of bright images and plenty of things to make me smile.

It brings a smile to my face when I see artwork that welcomes daddy home from work.

It makes me grin to see a funny drawing.

Driveway Art How Wonderful

It makes me proud to see an image about something related to their belief and understanding of God. Especially when that is directed at sharing about him to passersby.Driveway Art Christ

Driveway art just makes me smile.

Driveway Art

May these pictures of our driveway art make you smile today.

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Creating a Creative Habit – Middle School Monday

Creating a Creative Habit MSM

How do you encourage creativity in your students? If we don’t encourage creativity, it is so easy for students to not become creative.

“I just don’t know what to do.”

“I can’t do it.”

“I’m not good at that.”

These excuses and more are often closing doors. But if we encourage them and create opportunities, the creativity will blossom.

I want to share with you 5 ways in which we try to encourage our girls to be creative.

1 – Give them the needed materials. Whether it is needles and thread and fabric for sewing or glue and paper and tape, even glitter (I know some of you are cringing) – we give the girls the materials they need to create whatever it is that their brains are dreaming up. Cross-stitch, sewing, crafts, legos, paper, tape, glitter, sequins, beads, string, googly eyes, and more make up many, many spaces in our home.

2 – Step away. Once they have the materials, let them use them. Let them experiment. Let them read or dream and create. Without interference, who knows where their ideas will take them. At the same time . . .

3 – Provide instruction. After the experimentation, art classes or fiber arts classes or field trips to learn about the materials and how they are used can all help provide instruction and inspire further creativity. Whether it is taking a child to a specific class or teaching them at home, instruction will give direction to their ideas.

4 – Allow them time. Don’t structure their time so closely that they have no time to just create. I fail at this one quite often. I plan to work on a project with them – getting out the paints or coloring materials – and let it go right by without a second thought. Time is a critical factor in creating and seeing ideas to fruition.

5 – Remind them that no one is good at everything and sometimes, it takes a while to find out where their own strengths lie. So try things. Be willing to make and learn from failures. Because in those failures, learning occurs.
Creating a Creative Habit

These are just some thoughts that have been running through my head today as I watch my girls work with their hands on various things – Lego creations, crochet, creating projects from an American Girl book, finger printing with inks, drawing, and more. All of it is a joy to see, even when I end up with 33,000 bookmarks made by one who just learned to braid and another who loves creating with duct tape. Add to it all the drawings and finger printing – well, family just better be looking for some packages in the mail. 🙂

At Home.

Thin Stix ~ a Crew review

Thin Stix review banner

Love to paint, color, and create all things artsy? Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors is a product you need to add to your collection. Created by The Pencil Grip, Inc., these Thin Stix are a solid tempera paint appropriate for any number of amazing, fun uses. Thin Stix classic colors

Thin Stix are tempera paint in a solid, stick form. Solid tempera paint is bright, vibrant colors. In just a matter of seconds, the paint is so dry it will not smear or get on hands, arms, or anything that rubs over it. A while back we reviewed Kwik Stix and loved how easy they were to use. Thin Stix does the same thing, only they are a bit smaller.

We have truly enjoyed using this paint without having to get out the brushes and water. We have found that we can do some more detailed work than with the original Kwik Stix since the tip is smaller. I still wish they would make some that were even smaller. The vibrancy of the color makes me want to use them for everything!

working on the pirate rainbow

Ease of use with these is amazingly simple. You uncap like a marker. Roll it up like a glue stick. Use it. Roll it back down. Put the cap back on. That’s it. None of the fuss, muss, or mess. Paper, cardboard, wood, and more – it works on just about everything, it seems!

We have used these quite a bit on regular printer paper. They work great but we have experienced the pages curling up as they would with regular paints so a bit heavier paper is a better choice, though not necessary. You can see the coverage on regular paper and paint-like finish in these tessellation images.


One of the fun aspects of these is that because of the way they cover, you can use a textured paper and get a textured look from it. That was lots of fun. In this image of a Dala horse, you can sort of see that texture a little bit.

Mom's Dala Horse

Looking for the vibrancy of color? Take a look at this image of a mermaid looking at a sunset. The color is so bright! If you didn’t know this was done with a tempera paint stick that dries quickly, you would think it was regular liquid paint that is messy.

mermaid sunset

Placemats? Yes, those are easily created with Thin Stix.


Get well cards with pirates are easily made, too. Rainbows, battleships, and more. All are fun and easy. Though, if you don’t have a student who can control their paint stick easily, you might want to put something under their paper or project so that it doesn’t get on something you don’t want it to. We do have a couple of permanent marks on a tablecloth, though it is not a big deal since it almost matches the cloth!

pirate rainbow

various Kwik Stix available

When you realize all that can be done with these Thin Stix, you quickly wonder what all the company makes. Well, take a look at their website. Thin Stix and Kwik Stix both come in tons of colors, from the classic colors that we are reviewing here to metallic colors to neon colors. I would absolutely love to see just how bright the neon colors are!

nighttime flower

The company has these available for purchase on their website and Amazon but you can also pick them up at Toys R Us. These make wonderful gifts and parents and kids alike love them!

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Want to see more projects completed using Thin Stix? Check out other reviews from the Homeschool Review Crew.

No Mess Art with Thin Stix Classic Colors {The Pencil Grip, Inc. Reviews}Find The Pencil Grip, Inc. and Thin Stix on social media:




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ArtAchieve ~ a Crew review

Art classes with ArtAchieve

Art curriculum always gives me problems – will it be detailed enough for the girls to follow or will it be so detailed that they feel they have no personal work in it? ArtAchieve is a nice balance of the two extremes, in my opinion. We have been reviewing the Entire Level II program from ArtAchieve and all three of the girls have used it.

There are a total of five levels that can be purchased, though each level works much the same way. After gaining access to your level or individual lesson, it is easy to just jump right in. In Level II, we were able to used mostly things that we had on hand and, if we didn’t, it was very easy to just adapt to whatever we did have (or wanted to use). For example, on the Hiding Butterflies lesson, we were instructed to paint the finished drawing. Miss L did not want to because she felt that using colored pencils would give her the effect she wanted. So, that is what she did. It did not change the purpose or product of the lesson but allowed her to personalize it easily.

THE LESSONS –warm up for mermaid

When you begin a lesson, you login to your account and then click on the lesson you want to begin. Each lesson has instruction links as well as links to printable portions for the lesson. For the printable portions, there is a warm-up to print off that helps focus on various shapes that will be used in the art piece. There is also often a printable of the image. I can see these being really helpful if you have a younger set of student who want to do the lesson with you but are not able to actually manage the drawing. These could work as coloring pages. These printables open in a PDF viewer and can be printed from there.

When you are ready to begin the lesson, there are normally two options: a PowerPoint slide lesson and a video version of the lesson. We used both and each one has its own benefits. The PowerPoint slides were really beneficial for working at your own pace. You could fly through the things you didn’t need to wait through and you could take as much time as needed on the drawing portions that were taking you a while. They were straight-forward, no extra words to confuse or frustrate. The simplicity of the step-by-step drawing really kept things moving and the girls really preferred this method.

butterfly lessonWe did try the video a couple of times but it was not a favorite. The need to wait through the things you could quickly read on your own is a point that the girls really did not care for. They also felt rushed often when using the video. It was more difficult to pause and it often paused with a hand over the part you were trying to draw, thus your example was obscured. There was a huge benefit in the video, though – it was very easy to use their example and add personal touches, personalizing the artwork the way you wanted yours to be. An example was the Sri Lankan elephant was so easy to see HOW to add the foreground and background, to put the trees and bushes where you wanted them, on the video. The slides for this one did not give any option for this.

The lessons, whether slides or video, do a really good job of helping teach the student to visualize what they want and move to that image in their head. I love that there is a common statement that not every line will be exactly what you want so you keep going to change it to what you do want. This is the type of positive environment created throughout all of the lessons.

CROSS-CURRICULAR CONNECTIONScross-curricular activities from Dala Horse lesson

Another exciting feature of this program is the inclusion of cross-curricular connections, right in the slides and on the website. Depending on the lesson, there are various connections that help the students really grasp the background of art. Art does not exist in a vacuum and these activities do a fantastic job of highlighting this fact. Each lesson is based on a real-life artifact from some country. The background of the artifact is discussed and then various additional explorations are given.

Some examples include:

  • video of Dala horses being made
  • history of the country of origin – some through videos and some through articles
  • books and stories that complement the artifact or main image in the artwork
  • research – example: research myths related to cats
  • poetry
  • recipes from the country of origin
  • and much, much more.

Our favorite was probably the tessellations. We watched several videos and did a lot of looking at images by M.C.Escher. What fun that lesson was!

We used these for every one of the lessons we attempted. It was always interesting and made for a much richer lesson. I will caution that many of the videos are from YouTube so be prepared for that sidebar that can pop up with unwanted images and videos. Additionally, we did run across several links that appeared to be broken. Some of them resolved the next time we came to them but some of them did not. So, keep checking.

This cross-curriculum portion really adds depth to the experience and is a wonderful part of the lessons. Don’t neglect it!

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I really like this program. It wasn’t for each of us and different lessons worked well for different children.

Miss E's tessellationMiss E was able to take the mermaid lesson and apply it to a number of different outlets (she created a gorgeous chalk drawing on our driveway!). She loved the tessellation lesson, as well. But she didn’t really enjoy working on some of the others. She is looking forward to trying the shading lesson (which is one you can access without cost if you sign up for a free account).

Miss L absolutely adored the Hiding Butterflies and enjoyed doing the Dala Horse, as well. She liked the ease with which she could follow the slides (this was really important to her) and she was proud of her finished products. She also enjoyed watching some of the videos and working through some of the historical cross-curricular connections. She particularly enjoyed this with the butterflies.

Miss L's butterfly

Miss J? Well, she enjoyed sitting down to do the tessellations, as well, though the Miss J with tessellationinstructions were difficult for her to follow. At 8 years old, it worked much better for her when I took the part she cut off of her square and added it back on to the other side, taping it in place. She then could just copy the entire image instead of having to fit the partial tessellation inside the correct part of a box. (I don’t even know if that made sense!) Artwork is always a joy with this young lady but this program just did not fit her free spirit towards art very well. She is an out-of-the-box thinker and she did best when she just created her own thing after going through the cross-curricular activities.

Overall, we have really enjoyed this program and will continue to work through it.

At Home.

Art Lessons Inspired From Around the World {ArtAchieve Reviews}

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