Welcome to the Carnival of Homeschooling: The Cartoonist's Desk edition!For this carnival, I thought I would let everyone take a peek over my shoulder as I draw my comic strips for this week. This is a long one, so grab your tea or coffee and make yourself comfortable!
Where do I get my ideas? Life! My comics start with the day to day adventures I experience. I often remember anecdotes that happened several years ago. Although some may not have been funny when they happened, I've learned to see the humor in these old crises. As Carol Burnett said, "Comedy is tragedy plus time."
Inspiration is important, and not only because it means the drawing of air into the lungs (although I happen to like the connection). Inspiration nourishes us, encourages us, and influences and affirms our choices. Sage Parnassus shares some of Charlotte Mason's inspiration and wisdom in Boys Run to Seed.
For more thoughts on Charlotte Mason and education, take a look in The Common Room for Attached to the World At Many Points of Contact.
Not all ideas are created equal. Sometimes the ideas that come in are funny without any help from me. Sometimes they need a lot of work and input to turn them into a comic strip. Just because an idea is harder to turn into a comic strip doesn't mean I scrap it. Many of those challenging ideas have become some of my best comics. Likewise, some children easily learn and require little direction while others benefit from gentle guidance. The Expanding Life explores how "unschooling allows every child to be the best at being herself" in Child Prodigies and Unschooling.
I find that if I have trouble coming up with ideas, it helps to spend some time outdoors watching wildlife. Bugs, Knights and Turkeys in the Yard watches bats in Bats and Bat Houses.
Sometimes, you simply need to have a mini-adventure. Like the Sebastopol Mini-Adventure at Blah, Blah, Blog.
The best inspiration comes from chatting with friends. Time4Learning Parent Community asks, Are you Socializing?
Of course, there are times when my friends are busy. Ever feel like you are the only one homeschooling? Waiting for Charlie talks about Isolated Homeschooling.
Earth Day is this week. I love recycling! I'll grab any sheet of paper available to take notes when I get ideas. Scribbled on scrap paper, open envelopes, and the thousand and one notepads sent to me by charitable organizations have all been used to pull together ideas for my comics. I always keep a pad and pen in my purse, since I never know when and where that next idea will come from.
Reading and writing seem to go hand in hand. See how a Kindergarten Reading Log can improve writing at Hope is the Word.
And if you are really ambitious, you might want to consider book reports. All American Family has some wonderful ideas in How We Handle Book Reports.
Sometimes I do need to deal with writers' block. When this happens, I need to shift gears and do something completely different, like gardening or reading, to give my brain a break. Homeschoolers can burnout too. If you've been struggling lately, The Legacy of Home has some excellent ideas in Homeschooling as a Way of Life.
Struggling with a busy schedule can be a great challenge. The Thinking Mother writes about combining homeschooling with participating in a competitive sport, it's not as easy as she thought. Read about it in Kids in Serious Sports.
Of course, it always helps to know your effort is appreciated. I like getting feedback on my work. And Arby at Boarding in Bedlam knows that S-T-A-P-L-E-R Spells "Love".
The Blank Page.
Once I have ideas, I start sketching them out. That's when I pull out the smooth Bristol pad. I wanted a way to quickly draw three comic panels so I could spend more time sketching the strip and less time measuring out panels, so I designed a template to simplify the process. I've reused this template for at least three years now.
Speaking of templates, Everything Home...with Carol has an easy way of teaching kids to write an essay in The Composition Template.
Once I start drawing, I need my own space. True, my space is the area of a fold down desk, but I know it's mine. Kids need their own space too. Roscommon Acres explains why in Every American boy needs a shed.
Pencil and Pen.
Pencil happens to be the preferred writing tool in our house. They rarely return to their home in the desk drawer. I usually have to hunt down my good pencil when I want to begin work. Yes, I have a favorite pencil. I prefer a pencil that is easily erased if I change my mind about a scene or the perspective.
explore my options. There are lots of options with homeschooling. Your Family's Homeschooling Options are explored at Parent at the Helm.
Just as I might erase a sketch and start over, sometimes homeschoolers need to take a step back to make things work better. Going backwards can make any homeschooler nervous! Quiverfull Family discusses experiencing homeschooling anxiety, especially where phonics are concerned, in Back Tracking?
And while we're stepping back, let's consider why we homeschool. My Domestic Church presents Reasons 3 and 4 Why I Home School.
If that isn't enough, Why Homeschool has More Reasons to Homeschool, from the archives.
Sketching in pencil gives me an idea of how I want my comics to look without needing to be exact. The same can be said about curriculum for young children. Spiral Goddess Home School; The Moon and Her Flowers shares thoughts and links on Preschool-Kindergarten Curricula.
I use many pens. I have water resistant fine tip markers for the straight lines and I have my #102 Hunt Crow Quill pen for the actual drawing and lettering. It probably makes me old-fashioned that I still use a dipping pen, but sometimes the older ways are better and more personal.
Is it possible to be more old fashioned than pen and ink? How about drawing on rocks? Make your own Hot Rock Art at Once Upon a Family!
That crow quill pen can take you back in time. History can be found everywhere. That's why it's good to take trips to places like the United States Naval Academy. Read Saving The Best for Last at No Fighting, No Biting!
Seems like everyone is taking trips to Washington D.C.! Home School Dad learned a lot on his recent trip. Be sure to pack a lunch and read some of his observations in Washington Trip Day 5.
When you return from the trip, you want to save those memories. It's wonderful when someone in the family takes on this project. Barbara Frank tells about the last big family trip and the special way their memories live on in Good Things Happen When We Let Go.
The best thing about using pen and ink is that it helps me slow down. Some things can't be rushed. Coplings Hobbit Hole talks about Slow Parenting.
And if you need a reason to slow down, read this excellent article, Race to Nowhere? at Laura Grace Wheldon's blog.
If you don't use a kneaded eraser, you really should. It's gentler on the paper, leaves less debris than the hard pencil-top erasers and it has the added bonus of being a great stress reliever and artistic outlet. You clean the eraser by pulling and kneading it. Think eraser meets Silly Putty.
Homeschooling is serious stuff. Sometimes we need a little silly to lighten the mood! And if we happen to learn something while we are having fun, more points for us! See what you can learn from Balderdash and Blokus in If I Had An Elephant.
If your creativity needs a boost, Serfronya Wallace shows how you can Homeschool Using Free Printable Coloring Books.
The template is fine for sketching, but once I set my comic in ink, I want to make sure my lines are neat. When I first started drawing comics, I only used a T-square. This was fine if my paper was square, but I soon discovered that I can't always rely on my paper being cut straight. This may not seem important, but once I transferred my work onto the computer, the crooked angles were glaringly obvious. I would spend a lot of time straightening my lines on-screen. So I started using a triangle to make sure my angles were 90°. And to think I never believed I would use geometry.
Speaking of geometry, check out love2learn2day and watch how Cynthia teaches geometry in Geometry Class #3 (Geometry with kids ages 7-10).
If you are looking for real world lessons in math, try Real Life Math Lesson Using the U.S. Census at I Want to Teach Forever.
For an interesting way to look at the basics, check The Cookie Factory Guide to Long Division at Let's Play Math. (Make sure you have a few cookies standing by, you might get hungry!)
Hands on learning is the best kind. Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers shares this article, Adding Spark to Your Homeschool Through Hands-On Learning: Science.
Scanner and Computer.
These are my final tools for getting my comics to my blog. I scan my designs into my PhotoStudio 5.5 program, where I clean up stray marks, add gray tones, and tweak the design. My husband also bought me a writing tablet for the computer, but I'm still learning how to use it.
Some day I will fully embrace the virtual world, and when I do, there will be cool links everywhere! Here are 100 Amazing Firefox Add-ons for Homeschoolers at Online Degrees.
I'm thankful that I have my own Tech Support (husband) if I need help. TutorFi.com presents Student Success Resolution #6: Get Help When Needed.
And we have now come to the end of this edition of the carnival! I hope you enjoyed yourself. If you feel inspired, please consider submitting an article to a future carnival. You can use the carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on the blog carnival index page.