Homeschool Journey: Happy Little Trees…

“There are no mistakes, only happy accidents..”

Gosh, we love Bob Ross in this house. Such a happy, gentle, uplifting soul he was. I needed some Bob Ross vibes last week and I was so happy I had planned for him to be our artist of the week all the way back when I was planning in the late fall. This time of year can get so blah you know?

We focused on Bob Ross quite a bit. We read about his life, we read as many picture books as I could find at the library about him, we watched him every night before Wyatt went to bed, and then had a family paint day. Wyatt now is a big fan of Bob Ross, which tickles me.

I did not know about Ross’ life other than watching him on Joy of Painting. I had no idea he was in the military, that he had been stationed in Alaska, that he taught in person classes that at first no one attended. When he got his television show, he was happy with just a simple little set, he didn’t need anything elaborate. He raised baby squirrels, and saved injured animals. I just adore him. He brought some lightness into our week last week, and into this week as Wyatt continues to watch him.

Our family Bob Ross inspired painting day was a lot of fun. There was no way I was using oil based paints with a 7 year old however, and knew I wanted to use the watercolors that come in the tube, to get that whole feel. I actually hit up our dollar store and was able to get everything I wanted! We usually have all of our materials on hand, but I didn’t have what I wanted for this particular project. I needed canvas boards, and instead of big paint brushes, which I thought would be hard for Wyatt to use, I opted for sponge brushes. We set up at the table, put on the Bob Ross episode “Mystic Mountains”, and got to painting!

The plan was for Billy to demonstrate in person along with Bob, and he also controlled the pause and playing of the video, in case Wyatt and I needed to catch up. I wanted Wyatt to use (sort of ) the techniques that Bob was using (although not the wet on wet since we were not using oil paints) but the brush movements, so instead of setting him free with paints and the canvas and going alone, we did a lot of hand over hand. There were parts of the painting I let him just paint freely, but other parts I helped him out, and I ended up doing the mountains because the knife work was hard for him with his current motor skills. So his painting is actually our combined painting.

Wyatt painted the water and sky freely, then I helped with the trees, clouds, and mountains, hand over hand for the trees and clouds. He also did the tree/island in the water. He was so happy!! He loves painting and asks to paint constantly. And usually, I let him.

Wyatt also learned about Idaho last week. His favorite facts were all potato based, that they grow a ton of potatoes, that there is a potato museum, and that frozen french fries were introduced to the world by J.R. Simplot in Idaho in 1953. We of course had to have frozen french fries with grilled cheese sandwiches that night.

We had a fantastic week last week!

What We Used:

This section contains Amazon Affiliate links. In addition to the curriculum I am creating for him, we also use curriculum from The Good and the Beautiful, The Waldock Way, and Blossom and Root for phonics, reading, science, and social studies.


P is for Potato: An Idaho Alphabet

Bob Ross and Peapod the Squirrel

This is Your World: The Story of Bob Ross


And thanks to a friend, the Bob Ross episode of Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum on PBS.

In parting, I want to leave you all with a few Bob Rossisms.

“You can do anything you want. This is your world.”

“Talent is a pursued interest. Anything you’re willing to practice, you can do.”

“It’s hard to see things when you are too close. Take a step back and look.”

“There’s nothing wrong with having a tree as a friend.”

“Go out on limb. That’s where the fruit is.”

Homeschool Journey: Grunge, Gaudi, and Gray Wolves

This post is a mash up of the past two weeks of school, since we were easing back in after the holidays and things were a little off kilter as well. It took a minute to get back into the swing of things. We spent most of our time on the basics and I don’t usually blog too much about that aspect of school because, well, it’s just doing math and reading.

Our first week back we covered Washington State and the architect Antoni Gaudi, which was a nice way to welcome January. I of course treated myself to some Starbucks in honor of the first Starbucks in Washington, a matcha latte, my favorite. Since I started with Washington, let’s stay there for a minute.

I sort of felt like I was revisiting my youth teaching Wyatt about this state. Coffee, grunge, Kurt Cobain. Ah, the 90s. Wyatt loved all of the railroad facts we talked about and learned, about the Pacific Railway, and how the trip from Chicago to Tacoma shrunk from 6 months by covered wagon to 4 days by train. What could that have seemed like back then? Magic maybe. Wyatt has been obsessed with railroads and trains ever since we covered John Henry at the beginning of the year, so all things railroad for this kid right now.

We of course talked about the arrival of grunge music on the scene. How could we not? We played a LOT of Nirvana around here that week, and Wyatt seemed to enjoy it. I was never a Pearl Jam or Soundgarden fan, I was more of a Nirvana and Alice in Chains kid, so we listened to them. Billy however was a huge Pearl Jam fan in the day. We used to stomp around in our Doc Martens, flannel shirts, and go to coffee houses (remember when those had a heyday in the 90s?). Wyatt got into the look a little that week..

For art that first week, we learned about Antoni Gaudi, who I didn’t know much about when we started but then I ended up being super interested in myself. Gaudi was an architect known for incorporating nature and whimsy into his buildings, and now, seeing Casa Batlló and all the rest in Barcelona is a huge bucket list item for me. That area of his work has become a UNESCO World Heritage Center, and the buildings are literally works of art.

So for our project I thought it would be fun to build something out of cookies, a structure following the imagination of Wyatt. Billy and Wyatt drew up “blueprints” together, I made the cookie, then construction was a family event. It turned out a little differently, like its lack of actual walls, but we had fun!

Next up, we moved on to Oregon and Bev Doolittle. And more trees in science. Oregon seems pretty cool! Wyatt always enjoys the flag part of social studies (I’d heard these people existed that like flags – I found one!), and Oregon has a flag that has two different sides. One side is the state seal, and the other is a beaver. Wyatt thought this was fantastic. Whatever floats your boat kid. 🙂 He also thought it was neat there is a college there that has cows on campus. I really wanted to take a side trip and explore the Oregon Trail with him for a in depth rabbit trail, but I decided to hold off until next year when we start American history. We talked about it a little bit though of course.

Bev Doolittle is one of Billy’s favorite artists, so I left him to the art lesson planning this week. Wyatt and I talked about some of the features found in her work, the use of camouflage and how things are hidden and you need to look more closely. How animals can be animals but also part of the landscape. I do really enjoy her work myself! Billy and Wyatt spent Sunday afternoon working on their interpretation and I think it came out really neat! Their version was of a wolf blending into rock, and it looks pretty cool.

And finally in science we talked about tree rings and what they can tell us, and about tree bark! It might be obvious which project Wyatt liked better…I had to do most of the actual work for his tree ring. He listened though so I will be happy with that. The tree bark painting – he painted over different types of bark to explore the varying textures.

And now for the resource roundup!

What We Used:

This section contains Amazon Affiliate links. In addition to the curriculum I am creating for him, we also use curriculum from The Good and the Beautiful, The Waldock Way, and Blossom and Root for phonics, reading, science, and social studies.

Gaudi: Architect of Imagination || Reading the Wild || Building on Nature || Carmen and the House that Gaudi Built || B is for Beaver || E is for Evergreen

Video Links:

Antoni Gaudi’s Barcelona – Four Unearthly Buildings

Casa Batllo

Ranger Zak – What is tree bark

SciShowKids – Life of a Tree

SciShow Kids – The World’s Tallest Tree

This week should be a fun one! I am super excited about our artist of the week!