Many of you have asked me to share more details about our homeschooling days. I’ve been hesitant to post anything because for so long I was still figuring out what was best for my kids and for me as their teacher. Homeschooling and homeschooling curriculum can be a hot button topic. I needed to figure out what worked best for us without hearing too many outside voices and opinions. This is our third year to homeschool. The initial plan was to just do it for a year because one of my kids had some things we needed to work through together.

Now, here we are in our third year and honestly, I hope we don’t stop. It has been such a great fit for our family. This is our second year to be a part of a Classical Conversation community. Basically, Classical Conversations works as a foundation that we build the rest of our curriculum on  – adding to it a few subjects. Each week we meet with our CC community. The kids are each in classes with about 8 kids and a tutor. We go on field trips and do all kinds of fun extra stuff with our community that I would be unable to do just homeschooling on my own. Classical Conversations is not for every family, but for now it is just the right fit for us.

Each week the kids do some kind of presentation in front of their class. They are given general guidelines (persuasive, narrative, informative, demonstrative, impromptu). It has been incredible to watch my kids transform in their public speaking skills. I have a couple that felt at ease the very first time and a couple that have worked through a lot of nerves and fears to confidently get in front of their peers each week.

All that to say – this week they all had to do demonstrative presentations. I often try to steer them to the same topic when possible because it helps with planning. For this week’s presentation, they are demonstrating how to make your own DIY foosball table and how to play it. I found the tutorial on the blog UCreate – it was a huge hit with all 5 of my kids.

2.15foosball-012.15foosball-022.15foosball-03The original tutorial calls for using a shoebox. My boys wanted one a bit bigger, so I got a box from Hobby Lobby. It was in the party supply area…always use the 40% coupons when you shop at Hobby Lobby! Click here to read the tutorial by UCreate.2.15foosball-042.15foosball-05

It was super simple to make and the kids have been playing it nearly non-stop. One day I will craft with washi tape and pretty paint again, but for now this was pretty fun too.

I decided I would go ahead and start tagging my Classical Conversation posts now. I’ll probably create a pinterest board too. I don’t know how parents homeschooled before the days of pinterest!

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  • Nina - Cool such selfmade Fußballstadium!



  • Ashley Smith - This is great! Thanks for sharing. My boys are going to love this and I love that we have everything we need for it. It’s freezing up here in MN and it has to be essential to run an errand!! :) This is our second year homeschooling and doing CC too and I was searching Pinterest last night for ideas for this week’s memory work and I said the same thing to my husband. I don’t know how people did it before without all of these tools!! I just purchased the Latin and English John 1 to song last night. It’s the same music for both the English and the Latin so you don’t need to learn two separate songs. It’s enjoyable to listen to as well. The songwriter’s name is escaping me so I’ll look it up and e-mail it to you. It’s only 99 cents. We were just in FL for the month (I just took finished your photo class!) and we were able to join another CC community down there during our stay. They used these songs and the kids know there Latin so much better after using them!

  • michelle hill - I love hearing about your homeschooling experience!
    I don’t know much about homeschooling, but its so intriguing and interesting hearing it from your point of view. Thank you for sharing a little piece of it with us today.

  • Jenny B. - That looks like fun! I have a few friends who are doing Classical Conversations, and it sounds really interesting. Our school is “Classical,” but doesn’t use the CC curriculum. Our boys go to school two days a week and we do school at home three days a week. It’s sort-of like a modified homeschool, but not really since I mainly facilitate homework and help with projects on our at-home days rather than introduce new lessons. It’s a great balance for us. I’m glad you are feeling good about your choices. That’s so great that it’s already been three years and you don’t want to stop! :)

  • Jenny - What a fun project!

  • Marisa - Oh, this is fantastic! My kids have always wanted a foosball table, but we have no room for a traditional one. We’ve got a 4 day weekend coming up, and this will be perfect to fill up some of those hours! Thank you for sharing. :)

  • Jennie - So fun! Just showed my boys. They oohed and ahhed over the table a minute and then one boy says, “Is it summer there?” He saw the barefeet and short sleeves in the pictures. :) Bunches of snow and cold here in Nebraska has them thinking Oklahoma must be in the Southern Hemisphere! :)

  • Becky @ U-Create - Thank you so much for the shout out to U Create…Looks like you guys had a great time making this!

  • Lacey Meyers - How fun! Ashley, I really hope you’ll continue to share more about your homeschooling because as a blog reader, fellow-homeschooler, and friend, I appreciate what you have to say. :) I admire you in all aspects of what you share on your blog and feel like you often open my eyes to ideas and perspectives that I wouldn’t otherwise have. I am so thankful for you and the example you set. :)

  • Diana - My Mom homeschooled for 10 years before the days of even the internet. I don’t know how she did it. Up to 5 grades at a time, keeping the house in order. I mean, she was a teacher before staying home with us but still. Impressive.

  • Adrienne Steinocher - We went to the library a lot!!!!

  • Ashley - LOVE that y’all do CC! I’ve been looking into it in our area… VERY intrigued and glad to know y’all love it!

  • Tiffany Gardner - Thanks for being brave enough to post a homeschooling post. This is our first year of homeschooling after 6 years in public schools. The posts that you do share with us about homeschooling have made me feel not so alone and have really encouraged me. We also belong to a CC in OKC. So thankful for that community. You are awesome!!

  • WEEKLY INSPIRATION | Organising Chaos - […] boys got a fuzzball table for Christmas but I think we will be making this one when we are on holidays, it is so […]

  • Wilson - :o Great idea! jeje

  • Dette morsomme spillet kan du lage sammen med barna! - Kreative Idéer - […] Kilde: u-createcrafts, fremhevet bilde: ashleyannphotography. […]

  • Amy Cornwell - I love this, my kids would have a blast with it. Genius!

Each week we study a different artist as part of our homeschool curriculum. This week we filled our eyes with the nature work of Georgia O’Keeffe. She is one of my favorite artists. Her attention to detail and color captivates me. If it were possible, I would have a huge wall mural in my home by her. Not possible, but it sure would be amazing!


As an art student, I remember my teacher having us make little ‘frames’ out of paper to block out extra stuff and really focus on the details of what we were studying. I thought this method would work great to help the kids get a feel for how O’Keeffe filled her frame with her subject. It also provided a visual aid for the kids to see the details without being distracted by everything else or being tempted to draw flowers in a manner they usually do.

1. The kids picked their flower.

2. I cut a small ‘frame’ out of paper for them to use.

3. They went to work creating their Georgia O’Keeffe inspired artwork. Instead of paint, we used pastels.


As I was snapping pictures of them working, my eyes were drawn to how only my oldest actually had feet touching the ground. This will change one day. Goodness I love photography – holding up my camera is kind of like those little paper frames the kids were using. When I look through my viewfinder, I often see details that I miss when I am distracted by everything else going on around me.2.15okeeffe-08“When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it,

it’s your world for the moment.

I want to give that world to someone else.

Most people in the city rush around so, they have no time to look at a flower.

I want them to see it whether they want to or not.”

~ Georgia O’Keeffe

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  • Hannah - Ok, the cork board along the side of the staircase…brilliant! The artwork is lovely, too.

  • Jenny B. - I fell in love with Georgia O’Keefe’s work in high school. I remember using slides, or at least the cardboard thing that holds the slide, as a viewfinder too. :) You may have talked about this before, but are you using an art curriculum, or do you choose the artists each week and find the resources yourself?

  • Jenny B. - Oops. I misspelled her name! I never noticed it had two f’s. :)

  • suzy - Talented kids! I love the picture of their feet. Too cute!

  • Ruth@gracelaced - She was a huge influence for me when I was studying art, as you may be able to tell. :) wish we could be doing these lessons together, friend. Xo

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - I love Georgia O’Keeffe. Her work is so stunning. A few years ago, Brian took me to Palo Duro Canyon. The kids loved it (very laid back) and it was so amazing to see glimpses of her inspiration.

  • Jeanne Washburn - What a lovely post – beautifully written and the photos of the kids engrossed in their artwork is quite captivating. Lovely.

  • Meg - This is great!

    We are doing Georges Seurat Pointillism this weekend. I think he is fascinating and I am a Sondheim fan so if I can tie in art, theatre and crafts into one afternoon it is a win for me!

    I have hole punchers, construction paper and glue ready. I can’t wait to see what my kiddos come up with. My sales pitch is, “It is like Minecraft but with 2D circles!”

  • Momista Beginnings - So great! I used to teach art to littles (age 4-2nd grade) for 10+ years at a private school and I also created a lesson/project around O’Keeffe. Always came out lovely, as did yours! If you’re looking for more project ideas, check out some of the projects I created for my students ( Some of them are artist based, too. Most of the lessons I taught were based around a famous artist, actually, but not all. Keep creating! -Misty

  • Analene - I’m so inspired. I think my kids would love to do this!

    Along these lines, I was admiring all the artwork taped to my walls last night and realized that there are currently no drawings by my oldest boys (my boat-builders). They are stretching their wings in other artistic endeavors, but oh how the growing pains hurt for me! I’ll have to lure them in with a fun project like this. (And maybe request a drawing now and then too)

    I see you were holding the camera, but did you really keep your own hands off this opportunity? It looks like so much fun!

  • Debbie - Georgia O’Keeffe is my sorority sister! They had a great exhibit of her works at one of the Smithsonian museums a few years ago and I went to see it with a few of my sorority sisters. It was lovely. They have a Georgia O’Keeffe museum in New Mexico. I hope to visit it someday!

  • Lisa - That looks like the BEST way to spend part of a day!

  • Kelly - Love this. I’ve been more intentional with our homeschool art studies and projects and my boys are loving it. Could you share what art curriculum you’re using? We get ideas from arTree magazine or online but I would love more ideas and lessons!

  • Kate - I love your point about a camera being like the paper frame that cuts out the distractions and helps you see the important parts of life. It’s so true. You have a lovely blog:)

  • Natalie @ Being Mrs. Olson - This is a fantastic idea. I love getting in to the details, PLUS it is much easier to focus on a small part rather than the whole ideal. I love reading about your family adventures!

  • Erin B - Hi! I was so excited to see this post! I too have done O’Keefe art with kids and it’s so much fun! I’m also a pastel artist and do large floral pastels similar to Georgia O’Keefes style. So this pulled on my heart strings :) If you’re ever interested in floral art (prints) for your home, like you mentioned, I have some for sale – I could email you some photos. Have a good day!

  • Friday Favorites | Cupcakes and Commentary - […] art with kids project to add to my growing list of “things to keep us from spinning our wheels this […]

The unusual 70+ degree weather this week begged us to head out on an adventure. Yesterday we drove a few hours south to Robber’s Cave State Park. Legend has it that Belle Star used to hide out with her outlaw friends among the caves. Evidently stagecoaches were often robbed in the area and the caves provided a perfect hiding/look out spot for those fleeing authorities. Rumor also has it that Jesse James and his gang used the caves for hiding too.


I tried to convince my 3 year old that she should let me put her hair in a ponytail, but she’s three. And I made a suggestion. She’s three.1.15robberscave-01It didn’t take too long in the wind for her to concede and let me pull back her hair.

We climb a lot of rocks as a family, but we have one main rule – you can only go as far as you can climb by yourself. This rule usually keeps the younger ones at lower levels, unless the oldest decides to break the rules and help someone. I was taking this shot of my youngest daughter and busted my oldest rule breaker in the background. It is tough being the youngest – especially when you are a fearless three year old.1.15robberscave-031.15robberscave-041.15robberscave-05We took Arley. It was her first time in the car longer than 30 minutes. She got carsick. That was not awesome, but in the end it was worth it letting her come along.1.15robberscave-06Walking, climbing and hiking we told the kids the stories of these caves. Many are believed to be true, but unconfirmed. One story though was from Chris’ younger years. We made him tell it over and over again. The kids always wanted more details.

I wrote these words on instagram yesterday:

As young teens, Chris and his friend Robert flew into action after hearing adult cries that a little boy fell off a high cliff in this park. Recognized as heroes for the role they played in the little boy’s stabilization and rescue, they received the national Boy Scout Meritorious Action Award. It is given to one “who has performed some outstanding act of service of a rare or exceptional character that reflects an uncommon degree of concern for the well-being of others.” Those words continue to ring true when describing him.1.15robberscave-121.15robberscave-071.15robberscave-081.15robberscave-091.15robberscave-101.15robberscave-11Adventuring is our favorite. We are slowly working our way through most of Oklahoma. I tried to savor the burst of unusually warm temperatures instead of focusing on the fact that it is still actually winter!

Below are a few of the Oklahoma places I’ve posted about before:

Osage Hills State Park

Bartlesville Kiddie Park and Woolaroc

Great Salt Plains State Park

Alabaster Caverns & Gloss Mountain

Flint Creek


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  • Heather - We have the same rule applied to tree climbing. Only go as for up as you can get down by yourself! Can you send some warm weather my way? :)

  • danielle - Awesome shots! We have the same rule for our two boys. It usually keeps them out of too much trouble :) They love to climb! Seeing your posts makes me want to make a trip out there again! It is definitly one of our favorites.

  • cathie - Years ago, my pup would get horribly carsick – even going just a few miles. It got better as she got older, but she never outgrew it. Our vet suggested vanilla ice cream. It worked like a charm!

  • Natalie Lacy Lange - What a gorgeous place! I love your safety rule–will remember that when we take ours on adventures. Thanks for sharing!

  • Angela - We are from north Texas and the first camping trip we went on with our puppy was the Murray State Park in South Oklahoma… The puppy puked in the car. So, solidarity, sister! Also, I am just itching to go up and hike around the Turner Falls area near Ardmore! If y’all ever venture down that far, I’d love to hear what you think of it! :)

  • Pam - Thank you for a trip down memory lane! We now live in Idaho but back when our kids were young we lived near Sherman, Tx and took scout camping/hiking trips to Robbers Cave. My daughters first Girl Scout overnighter was there as well!

  • Marsha in OK - We LOVE Robbers Cave, especially since we tagged along with a ranger one time! Totally changed our perspective knowing the different areas such as the corral. And hearing the stories of Hanging Judge Parker chasing “the bad guys” from Arkansas, but never finding them at Robbers Cave! I wish we had thought to take advantage of the gorgeous weather and driven down!!! Soon!!!

  • Kim - Wow, what a difference! While you were exploring caves in shorts, we were hunkered down during a blizzard, with over 2 ft. of snow in 24 hrs!

  • Lakmali - Nice!!!!!

  • Diana - I laughed at your suggestions to your youngest daughter. Oh the joys of little ones. =)

  • amber - Such an awesome story about your husband & his friend! Love that. Crazy, fun stories from the caves. And on a side note, you talking about all those famous bad guys made me feel the need to share I am related to Bonnie Parker. Of Bonnie & Clyde. A fact that is odd & not really one to be proud of, but true none-the-less. At least I found Jesus. Lol!!

  • michelle hill - These photos are oozing with cutness! Little One looks so darn adorable in her hiking clothes.
    Your hubby sounds like a one of a kind gem :)

  • Kari - Hey, would it be obnoxious to ask you to add a link to your side bar about your travels? We live in Moore and got our camper last summer. We go to the same lakes over and over and it would be nice to have an honest second opinion about places to go.

  • Katrina - Love these adventure posts! I try to do the same when we go to a new place as a family. If we ever make it out to Oklahoma, we will be sure to check out some of your suggested adventures! I especially love to hear locals letting you know where the ‘good spots’ are, when you are from outta town and don’t know anyone, its awesome to have a little inside scoop.
    Lotsa love from California

  • Cindy McAllister - Thought of you when I saw this converted attic bedroom.

  • Donzel - Well, you’ve convinced me that Oklahoma isn’t all cornfields and straight roads. The climbing rule is a good one!

  • melissa pearce - THanks for posting this!! so neat to see. You make me wish we still lived in OK!

  • Haverlee - I love that picture of Little One watching on as all the “bigs” climb up ahead. Such a great capture.