Art Supplies and Ideas for Small Spaces and Large Families

Children are natural artists. They will sketch and color on just about anything if left to their own devices. They don’t typically need encouragement to be artists (unless somewhere along the line they got the notion in their heads that they were NOT good at drawing – this is usually from an outside influence, and will take a lot of coaxing to correct – BUT, that is a totally different post ūüėČ ).

Obviously, we need to set boundaries for a child’s artistry (so they don’t draw on the walls!), but we most definitely should allow for creativity in our school day. ¬†Having art supplies at the ready is a must for any homeschool!

I have a unique situation in that I have a lot of kiddos of varying ages needing art supplies and a small space in which to store them – the art supplies, that is. ūüėČ ¬†Here are some of my favorite art supplies and ideas for small spaces and large families.

How to manage art with varying ages and abilities |

This post is sponsored by:Large Family Art Ideas |

Use coupon code:
10% off ART CLASS
+ 10% off all other SEE THE LIGHT products on the same order

Large Family Art Supplies

Keeping art supplies on hand for the large family can be a full time job!  I just discovered yesterday, my stock of glue sticks was frighteningly low, and I JUST bought a stash of them from our local store!

Years ago, I found a wonderful place to buy massive quantities of high quality supplies. ¬†In fact, I only had one child in school when I discovered Discount School Supply. ¬†When my son was 5, I placed a big order, and some of those supplies JUST ran out last year! ¬†That’s 12 years of stock! ¬†And I can honestly say the products were just as good 12 years later as they were when I first purchased them. ¬†(just typing all that brings me back to those early years of homeschooling…*sniff*…time goes so quickly)

So, let me give you a few suggestions from the Discount School Supply website that are large family friendly – you can click the pictures to see more information about them.

Large Family Art Supplies |

Large Family Art Supplies |

Large Family Art Supplies |

Large Family Art Supplies |

Pretty much anything you need art-wise can be purchased there for a great price!

Storage and Organization of Art Supplies

In our home, art supplies are kept in a few different areas. ¬†My recommendation for separating out art supplies would be based on RULES OF USAGE. ¬†In our house, there are 3 different Rules of Usage –
1.  Anyone can use any time.
2.  Only some can use any time.
3.  Supervised use only.

Anyone can use any time – Under our bookshelves, we have supplies I am okay with the children using on a daily basis without needing to ask.

Large Family Art Supplies | I love using the plastic containers you find at the store for around a $1 to fill with supplies.  I have a larger open one for pencils, erasers, and sharpeners (to allow for easy access), and several smaller closed ones for crayons, colored pencils, and markers (to allow for ease of transport).

I used to keep individual boxes for each child when I only had 4 children using supplies. ¬†I bought each child their “color” and wrote each of their names on the lid. ¬†However, now that there are 7 children using supplies, I haven’t found this method¬†to be the best choice. ¬†Instead, I have 4 crayon boxes, 1 colored pencil box, and 1 marker box that are able to be used communally. ¬†The markers (even though they are shown in this photo) are not allowed in this area. ¬†My daughter accidentally put them there when she was cleaning up.

Notebooks make up the main paper supply for this area because they are tidy. ¬†The children are allowed to use loose paper from time to time, but that falls into the next category…

Only some can use any time – The markers, loose paper, scissors, glue, and the more expensive art supplies belong in this group. ¬†I have these items on top of the bookshelf in the dining room in totes. ¬†My oldest daughter also has her own stash of expensive pencils, colored pencils, and charcoals in a locked box in her room. ¬†These were either gifts or purchases she made on her own, so they are “hers” and do not belong to the community at large.

Supervised use only РThe supervision-only items are on the top shelf of my closet in a bag I can easily pull down.  These items include seasonal art supplies (like those needed for Truth in the Tinsel) and the blacklight I use for the See the Light chalk art projects we do during the holidays.  I keep pipe cleaners and coffee filters, beads, and glitter in this bag, along with anything else that I would not want to be used without my permission.  I also keep paints and the bulk items I mentioned above on this shelf.

How to Incorporate Art into Your Homeschool

I believe¬†art belongs in nearly every aspect of your homeschool ¬†From your nature studies to history to math and beyond, I believe sketching and adding color to your work is a great way to truly enjoy studying¬†as long as your child doesn’t get wrapped up in the artistic side to the detriment of their studies. ¬†Don’t be afraid to let your child doodle while you teach or color their workbook after their lessons are finished. ¬†I always allow notebooks and pencils during Tapestry of Grace time, and I do not get wrapped around the axle over doodles in their math books.

I also think it is important to teach some formal art to give your child the tools to create something beautiful with a certain amount of mastery.  I recommend using an art program that incorporates many ages and stages and does not require a ton of extra supplies.  We use Art Class from See the Light Art.  You can read my full review HERE.  It spans the ages well with short lessons, solid instructions, and doable art projects that are beautiful!

Large Family Art |

Right now, you can get Art Class (and anything you else you order at the same time) 10% off + FREE SHIPPING in the U.S.  Coupon Code: VIRTUAL

Large Family Art Ideas |

Saving Art Projects

Every parent I know wonders how they are going to keep all the lovely art their child creates. ¬†Nearly every day, one of my children creates something that is super cool and something I would love to keep, but with a large family, these amazing works of art quickly become clutter. ¬†That’s why I LOVE the Keepy App. ¬†I can have as many children on the app as I want and all I have to do is snap a photo, add a few words about the project, and I am free to throw away the original. ¬†Yes, I do keep some REALLY phenomenal works of art, but those are few and far between and go into a file in the filing cabinet.

Unique Ways to Acquire Art Supplies

The last thing I want to address is how you can gather art supplies. ¬†The only word of caution I have here is that in the acquiring of supplies, be sure they don’t become clutter and chaos.

Make art supplies a gift РMy 4 year old got a big stash of art supplies for his birthday.  Most of these became community supplies because at his age, sharing is fun, but you can allow each child a small tote that is just their own.  Ask for art supplies as gifts or give them yourself Рthey are consumable and always welcome!

Recycle РBoxes, packing paper, jars, yarn, ribbon, sticks, and so much more can easily become art mediums.  The rule in our house is that you get to play with recycled items for a one day and then they must go to the trash (unless the thing created is well-constructed and will last a long time without becoming a big mess Рexample: the dollhouse my daughter made from a cardboard box).

Garage Sales – One of the best garage sale finds I made when my two oldest kids were little was a huge bag of notepads! ¬†You will often find these types of things grouped together and selling for little to nothing. ¬†You might also find some more specialized supplies, but be certain you NEED them before you buy, and be certain the quality is worth the cost. ¬†Low quality crayons and other supplies just aren’t worth it no matter how cheap.

Deconstructed Items – Search the term “UPCYCLE ART SUPPLIES” on Pinterest and you will find a treasure trove of ideas! ¬†Take a gander at the ideas there and start to see ordinary items in a new light.

No matter how you do art in your home, let it be free-flowing and fun! ¬†This isn’t a time to be strict and structured, and criticism needs to take a hike. ¬†In fact, I would even encourage mama to sit down and create alongside her children. ¬†Color, cut and paste, and enjoy the time with your children! ¬†You want art to be something your child has fond memories of!

How SimplyFun is Making Games Fun for Kids with Autism

If you have¬†a child who would be considered “on the Spectrum”, you are probably feeling a bit overwhelmed by the prospect of homeschooling them. ¬†Most homeschool resources are tailored for some other¬†child – not yours – and you sometimes wonder if anyone out there understands what your homeschool day looks like…what your life looks like.

When SimplyFun contacted me about their Autism Initiative, I knew immediately I wanted to share what they were doing with all of you.

SimplyFun's Autism Initiative helps you choose games that capitalize on your Autistic child's strengths so you can play games the entire family can enjoy!

A lot of games aren’t particularly autism-friendly. ¬†In fact, the idea of a Family Game Night can strike fear in the heart of a mom whose child has autism – no matter where they fall on the Spectrum.

SimplyFun wanted to change this. ¬†They wanted to give you tools to help you choose games your ENTIRE family can enjoy! ¬†¬†They wanted to take the focus off what autistic children can’t do and find ways to capitalize on their strengths instead.

They gathered a team of experts to categorize many of their games by strengths autistic children may exhibit, so parents could find the right game for their child.

Click the Autism Tab on the description page of SimplyFun games to learn if the game is a good fit for your Autistic child.

The Autism tab on many of the SimplyFun game descriptions includes information on how the game might meet your child’s specific strengths and interests as well as information telling you if the game would need to be modified and how it fits with characteristics an autistic child might exhibit. ¬†There is also a special¬†Advanced Search to help you find the right game for your child by asking you a series of questions and then matching your needs to specific games!

SimplyFun wants to keep the fun in game-playing.  They want children to build their strengths and stretch their minds in new ways.  They want parents to feel like they are succeeding, and families to feel connected.

I’d encourage you to take a look at what SimplyFun has to offer. ¬†¬† Even if your child doesn’t have Autism, take a look around the site and find games that fit your family. ¬†I’m a fan of their math-based games (probably because I’m not a fan of math, so playing a game makes math a lot more fun). ¬†They have quite a few¬†New Releases, and information on how you can join the SimplyFun team and get discounts on their games as a homeschool mom.

Kudos to SimplyFun for making learning fun for everyone!

Click here to see all the educational games SimplyFun has to offer!

See the Light Bible Story Set Giveaway!

(If you click the links below and purchase any of the See the Light products, our family will receive a small commission Рthank you!)
See the Light | RaisingArrows.netI’ve been telling you for several years about my favorite homeschool art program – See the Light Art. ¬†It is DVD-based and takes the guess work out of art for the homeschool family. ¬†It was a huge relief finding such a great program! ¬†Since that time, See the Light has come out with even more wonderful art programs that not only teach art concepts, but how to use them to minister to others!

Find all the See the Light Art products here.

Today, I am thrilled to be able to bring you a fantastic giveaway for the

Win the See the Light Bible Story Set on

First, let me tell you a bit about this set:

The Bible Story Set includes 5 DVDs –
The CrossMaker – (great for Resurrection Sunday!)
God’s Special Surprise¬†– (the story of Moses)
Gift of Love – (The Christmas Story)
Shipwrecked – (adventures with the Apostle Paul)
God’s Runaway – (the story of Jonah)

These DVDs include stories, special drawings, 3 art lessons, and ideas for sharing the Gospel with others.  This set would be a fantastic art program for your homeschool this year and for years to come!

I’d also really encourage you to sign up for See the Light’s brand new newsletter before the end of April! ¬†You will receive a FREE Watercolor Butterfly project that is GORGEOUS! ¬†(Click HERE, scroll down a bit to the box in the righthand sidebar, and don’t forget to tell them Raising Arrows sent you!)

Sign up for See the Light's newsletter and receive a  FREE Butterfly Watercolor project - tell them Raising Arrows sent you!You will also find tons of FREE resources in every newsletter!  This is one of my favorite newsletters to receive!  I will often forward them on to my artistically inclined daughter.

Ready for the Giveaway?  Use the widget below to enter the giveaway Рif reading via email, click here and scroll down to find the giveaway on my blog!  (winner will be announced on Friday)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

2014-15 Homeschool Curriculum – Middle School & High School

Our Middle School & High School Homeschool Curriculum (2014-15) from

This year, I have one child in high school and one in middle school. ¬†My high schooler, Blake – age 16, will be finishing his “formal” schooling in December. ¬†My daughter, Megan, is an 8th grader by traditional standards – something that doesn’t really fit her well at all.

Later this month, I’ll be writing about what Blake will¬†be doing after he “graduates”, but for now, take a moment to read my post entitled, “True Education is Not About Making a Living“. ¬†It will give you a little bit of a taste of the approach we are taking.

Our Middle School & High School Homeschool Curriculum 2014 |

It has been quite a privilege to watch these two grow up.  Blake is a natural-born leader and Megan is creative and artsy.  The two of them together make a great team!  We have tried to give them plenty of opportunities to work together on projects and hone their own individual skills.  You will see in our curriculum choices that same individuality.

{affiliate links included}

High School Homeschool Curriculum

Last year, I would have wholeheartedly endorsed Khan Academy as a standalone curriculum.  Changes that were made mid-year last year have me hesitant to recommend it the way I once did.  However, we are using it as a standalone for both our high schooler and middle schooler.  The changes that were made are not ones that compromise the education, but rather tend to frustrate the user.  That said, this FREE program has been very successful in teaching my children math concepts they were not understanding via any other curriculum.  Blake is finishing up Geometry this year, and he has a very good grasp of what he is learning, thus the reason we have stuck with it despite some frustrations with how the system is set up.

Blake is finishing up his Apologia Biology with Lab.


He has been dissecting all sorts of things! ¬†This is something I never did in high school, so it has been fascinating to watch! ¬†(Glad I’m past the morning sickness, though!)

Something new we added mid-year last year was Current Events. ¬†Most of the time, Blake uses a Fox News app on the iPad, but we also have him check the stories via other news sources as well. ¬†This teaches several things: ¬†discernment, an understanding of the world and culture around him, and Biblical thinking skills. ¬†He is our researcher, so it only made sense to have him “research” current events and keep the rest of the family abreast of what is going on in the world.

I do want to caution you on this topic Рhaving your child read/watch Current Events from mainstream media sources requires your child be very mature and very discerning.  There is no way my 13 year old could handle a daily dose of current events.  It would be too overwhelming to her.

For our history, church history, geography, and literature, we are doing Tapestry of Grace РYear 3.

Tapestry of Grace Year 3 - part of our middle school and high school curriculum 2014 | RaisingArrows.netWe do not do Tapestry in the traditional sense, but use it as a backbone of our studies. ¬†The curriculum is full of wisdom and information, and even though we don’t use 100% of it, the price was still well worth the information and guides contained within.

I use the Teacher’s Guides and the Weekly Assignments to¬†create my own list of things the children need to do based on TOG’s suggestions. ¬†Once a week, we use the discussions to dig deep into the era we are studying. ¬†They children read selections from that week’s work, look up some of the geography to familiarize themselves with the area being studied, and do some of the projects listed, including their younger siblings in the fun. ¬†Blake has all the history credits he needs, but he enjoys TOG so much, he doesn’t mind sitting in on another year.

For his composition credit, I am requiring him to write a research paper. ¬†I give him a generalized idea of the time period to write on, and he chooses his topic and builds his paper. ¬†Last year, was some aspect of the Revolutionary War (he chose to concentrate on George Washington’s command). ¬†This year, will be some aspect of the Civil War. ¬†He writes his paper in Google Docs so the two of us can work together on editing it.

As I’ve mentioned before, Blake runs a blog of his own – Airsoft Warrior. ¬†Doing so has taught him many lessons! ¬†His writing skills have improved, his videos are wonderfully edited, and he has honed his public speaking skills (although, public speaking has never been difficult for him).

He is also learning the ins and outs of money management as he works part-time as a Trapper (the person who throws the clays at a shooting sports lodge).  We have helped him walk through making wise purchases, saving, and tithing.  He is proving to be a great money manager Рfor that, I am very thankful!

He also works out nearly every day.  Last year, he dropped 60 pounds by tracking his food and exercising!

Middle School Homeschool Curriculum

Again, keep in mind this curriculum is highly tailored to my creative 13 year old. ¬†If you need help learning how to tailor a curriculum to your child’s particular talents, the wonderful people at can help!

Megan is doing Khan Academy 8th Grade. ¬†We took a break from it for a while, but it was very obvious to me that she learns very well using Khan. ¬†When she is stumped and the hints on Khan aren’t helping, she will use to help her get through a particular issue. ¬†(Note: ¬†We have her computer set up with a School folder in the navigation bar to keep all of the websites she uses readily available so she isn’t randomly surfing the web.)

After taking a year off from Science, she is doing Apologia’s General Science this year.

Apologia General Science - part of our middle school homeschool curriculum 2014 | RaisingArrows.netThere have been a few rocky spots (the first two chapters are rather dry and she learned a valuable lesson in perseverance and diligence as she pushed through), but now she says she is enjoying it.

She is also doing Tapestry of Grace – Year 3 for her history, church history, geography, and literature.

As I mentioned in my Elementary Curriculum post, she and her younger sister go to Keepers of the Faith once a month. ¬†I’ll be writing more about that in a later post.

Megan continues to take French via  If you have a child who has a natural bent toward languages or who wants to pursue a career that would benefit from fluency in another language, I HIGHLY recommend iTalki.  Lessons are taught by live teachers via Skype on a schedule of your choosing.  We have been very pleased with the results.  (You can read my review of iTalki and explore the site for yourself!)

Additionally, Megan is taking American Sign Language.  A Deaf woman at a local church does free lessons a couple of times a year; however, we are planning on doing private lessons with her because Megan hopes to pursue her certification as an ASL Interpreter. For school, she reviews using (This site was recommended by her teacher as being legitimately ASL. You do have to be aware that not all sign language is ASL, so if you have a child interested in interpreting, it is better to avoid filling their memory banks with wrong information.)

One last thing I want to mention concerning Megan’s homeschooling is her photography. ¬†Most of the photos you see on Raising Arrows are her work. ¬†She has had a photography blog for many years as a hobby, but this year – thanks to 10ktoTalent, she’ll be getting more serious about building her portfolio and working toward her 10,000 hours. ¬†She wants to start doing portraits and family photography and build from there. ¬†We will be seeking out professional photographers to help mentor her through this process, as well as using online resources. ¬†(One of her favorites is Digital Photography School.)

Phew! ¬†These curriculum posts are harder to put together than I like to admit, but I hope you’ve enjoyed them!

2014-15 Homeschool Curriculum – Elementary

Our Elementary Homeschool Curriculum (2014-15) from RaisingArrows.netThis year, I have 2 in the elementary grades Рage 8 and just-turned 10 (yesterday, as a matter of fact!).  They are only 16 months apart, but my 8 year old was non-verbal until he was 3, and struggled with speech issues until age 6.  We did not start formal schooling with him until he was 7 to give him time to mature verbally.  That said, he is doing really well with his work!


{affiliate links included}

Keian is finishing up Horizons Math 1 and will be moving into Horizons 2 very soon.  (Remember, we homeschool year round, so finishing books have very little to do with a calendar date.)

Horizons 2He is doing¬†A Reason for Handwriting B. ¬†He’s a lefty and his handwriting is absolutely beautiful!

2014-15 Elementary Homeschool Curriculum - A Reason for Handwriting B |

He is near the end of the¬†1st grade level of¬†Phonics Museum¬†and doing amazing! ¬†It does a mama’s heart good to hear a once non-verbal child actually read something!¬†(Note: ¬†there are 2 years to this¬†program. ¬†This will be our second time to go completely through the set. ¬†You can read my review of Phonics Museum¬†HERE).


We are once again doing Five in a Row¬†with the 10 and under crowd. ¬†I don’t do this full force, but more as a special supplement just for them.


Feel free to visit my FIAR Pinterest Board for more ideas and resources to supplement Five in a Row!

Five in a Row Pinterest Board from Amy @ Raising ArrowsMelia, our barely 10 year old is also doing FIAR as well as a few other things…

Melia outside

She is finishing up Horizons Math 3 and will soon be leveling up like her brother.

Horizons 3She has struggled with getting her multiplication tables down, so we are using a free app on the iPad to help her. ¬†It is a very simple program, but has done very well in “drilling” her facts. ¬†The name of the app is Math Flash Cards, and she has to go through 2 rounds getting all of them right (10 problems) before starting her workbook lesson for the day.

I decided last year to go back to my traditional method of doing elementary science, which is to wait until each child is a fluent reader, then hand them an Apologia Elementary Science book and let them run with it! ¬†Melia is doing Flying Creatures¬†and having a wonderful time! ¬†She loves to do all the experiments, and is constantly telling me what she has learned. ¬†I doubt I’ll try any other method of elementary science from here on out!


Melia just started her Cursive handwriting curriculum. ¬†I couldn’t find a link and photo, but let me tell you something about cursive, and handwriting in general…

Choosing a handwriting curriculum is difficult.

You should have seen all of us mamas standing around the handwriting section of the Rainbow Resource booth at Teach Them Diligently discussing which curriculum to buy!  The name of the game really ends up being PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE.  Give your children plenty of opportunities to write and practice the letters and concepts they are learning.

One way to do this is by notebooking.  I am using notebooking pages from the collection at as well as creating my own using their software.  I have a Lifetime Membership there and LOVE it!  You can read more about how we do notebooking as a large family HERE).

Free & Affordable Notebooking Pages

We had to abandon our old spelling program with Melia because it just wasn’t working. ¬†Her spelling is not very good and the old curriculum was frustrating her terribly. ¬†We tried several apps with equal results, but when I ended up with a coupon code to try All About Spelling, I decided to snag it for her and my 8 year old to¬†see what would happen.

What has impressed me the most is how important the multi-sensory approach is to her learning.  This is definitely a parent-led program, but the time spent has been well worth it.  I have also seen where our Mother-Daughter Journals have helped her spelling as well.  There again, is that PRACTICE factor!

We will also be continuing our¬†See the Light Art lessons. ¬†We do not take a rigorous approach to art, but rather a slow and steady approach. ¬†I want my children to enjoy art, and have found using these DVDs as a “treat” rather than a to-do on a checklist has accomplished that nicely. ¬†(You can read my review of See the Light Art Curriculum to learn more!)

See the Light

For corporate Bible/Devotions in the mornings, we read a section of Scripture and discuss and then read from Apologia’s Worldview curriculum – Who is God?

Who is God?  Apologia Worldview Curriculum, part of our Elementary Homeschool Curriculum |


Everyone from littles to bigs listens in, but honestly, this curriculum is best for the elementary and middle school years. ¬†My older kids need something a little deeper and a lot of what we read goes over the heads of my little ones, but I think everyone is getting something from the teaching in the book, so I’ve chosen to have everyone stay together during this time. ¬†In addition to our corporate Bible time, everyone who can read is required to spend time reading the Bible on their own following Morning Chores.

Melia and Megan are also doing Keepers of the Faith once a month. ¬†I’m hoping to post more about this soon. ¬†Keian is currently a Cub Scout and scouting as a Lone Scout (which means he does everything from home, rather than as part of a Pack). ¬†Note: ¬†Remaining with the Boy Scouts of America was not a decision we took lightly, and I do not wish to get into a debate here on the blog over Scouts. ¬†Thank you!

For more homeschooling info,
be sure to check out my
Homeschooling Page
here on Raising Arrows!

2014-15 Homeschool Curriculum – Preschool & Kindergarten

Our Homeschool Preschool & Kindergarten Curriculum choices for 2014-15 | RaisingArrows.netCurrently, I have one preschooler and one kindergartner in our homeschool. ¬†Garin will turn 4 at the end of the month and Micah is 5. ¬†We are not doing a lot with the preschooler, other than having him sit in on cooperative subjects and letting him listen in on lessons, but I’ll include what we will be doing with him because I suspect we’ll add him sometime mid-year.

Preschool Homeschool Curriculum

As with all my younguns, we will start¬†out with Rod & Staff’s ABC Series:

Rod & Staff ABC Series

We are still working through these with our Kindergartner as well. ¬†They are simply a fun way to learn school-type skills, and not something we stress over “getting done.”

Don’t forget to give your preschoolers plenty of time to play and explore! ¬†This is the best preschool curriculum!

2014-15 Preschool Curriculum from Amy @

Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum

All of my younger crowd will be doing Five in a Row.

Screen Shot 2013-08-03 at 1.01.26 AM

We will be starting the year out with How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World.  I am beyond excited about sharing this book with my children, and this is the perfect time of year to do so!  (Check out my FIAR Pinterest board for links and resources to supplement Five in a Row.)

Five in a Row Pinterest Board from Amy @ Raising Arrows

About mid-year last year, I noticed Micah was ready to learn to read, so we pulled out Phonics Museum (we have been using this curriculum for several years Рyou can read my review of it HERE).

If you are wondering how I knew he was ready to learn to read, here are the things I noticed:

1. ¬†He was mimicking his big brother’s phonics lessons.
2.  He was asking me to tell him what certain words said.
3. ¬†He was “pretending” to sound out words.
4. ¬†He was sitting down to “read” books more and more.

As I mentioned above, Micah is still working through the Rod & Staff ABC workbooks, with particular emphasis on his numbers. ¬†He’s a great little reader, but numbers are more difficult for him to retain. ¬†We work a lot on the side counting and helping him recognize numbers in every day life.


As you’ll notice, the early years of homeschooling in our home are pared down and simple. ¬†As I mention in my ebook, Large Family Homeschooling, we believe the Trickle-Down Effect of the one-room schoolhouses of yesteryear really do work, creating less of a need for academic rigor when children are very young.

To learn more about how we homeschool the early years
and what a typical homeschool day looks like,
be sure to check out my
Homeschooling page
here on Raising Arrows!