Conversational Korean: From sparring to snacking and beyond

TalkBox.Mom: Learning conversational Korean as a family!

This is a serious-language-learning face.

One awesome thing about my son, Ashar, is that he has always loved languages. He began kindergarten in a class with a Spanish-speaking aide, and she worked with the kids every day on new words. He was hooked!

Since then, he’s drifted through smatterings of all sorts of languages. For a while, he wanted to learn French, accompanied by a stuffed penguin named Pierre. We had French magnetic poetry, and we still look at our big black cat, Mr. Bill, and sometimes yell, “Le chat noir! Le chat noir!”

He got interested in Germany while studying World War II history and picked up some German phrases.

For a long time, we did a “word of the day” poster project and one of the most fun parts was discovering each day’s word in other languages.

TalkBox.Mom: Learning conversational Korean as a family!

Ashar’s love of languages goes way back to these middle-school “Word of the Day” posters, featuring each day’s word in multiple languages.

In exchange for the honest review of our experience which appears in this post, our family received a free “Kitchen” box from TalkBox.Mom. We were compensated for our time completing the review, but the fun had enjoying new words and phrases was all ours!

One of the most long-term languages we’ve been exposed to, though, is Korean. I actually started learning Korean when I was in elementary school, taking tang soo do lessons. As an adult, I earned my second-degree black belt in tae kwon do – another Korean martial art – and Ash studied with me for a year or two. And now, I am studying tang soo do again, so Korean is an everyday “thing” in our house.

But as it turns out, martial arts words don’t have a lot of… other applications. Counting to 10 is useful (hana, dool, set, net, ta sot, yo sot, ill gop, yoh dohl, ah hope, yeol), sure, but “low block” (ha dan mahk kee) and “ready stance” (choon bi) and “roundhouse kick” (dollyeo chagi)… not so much. And, let me be honest: Most of my instructors are not Korean. So most of what we hear is pretty “Americanized!”

So, when I heard about program that’s designed for whole-family language learning in a more everyday way, with the ability to actually hear words said by native speakers, I was pretty psyched to try out some more Korean!

TalkBox.Mom: Learning conversational Korean as a family!

Language learning and penguins: A winning combination.

The TalkBox.Mom Korean foreign language program

TalkBox.Mom is a fun subscription-box program designed to get whole families working on learning new languages together. The creator, Adelaide, and her family travel around the world, and they’ve turned their successful methods for immersing themselves in new languages into a really workable plan.

Each box focuses on a theme – starting with arguably the thing we spend the most time on, EATING! Our box came with awesome posters, which got a place of honor on our fridge and our wall, plus a big set of phrase cards based on kitchen objects like the toaster.

TalkBox.Mom: Learning conversational Korean as a family!

I did not know there were so many phrases involving the toaster! I was trying to spread out these cards with their relevant “stuff” so that it’s easy to remember to look at our words and phrases.

Homeschool Korean: The “distance learning” approach

In “it’s 2020, of course things don’t go as planned” fashion, Ash and I agreed to work together on this review. I hung the posters and spread out the cars and got all excited… and then I ended up flying across the country – terrifying, do not recommend – to help out a family member who was undergoing a couple of surgical procedures.

Ash and his dad, Chris, stayed home with four recalcitrant and needy cats, much colder weather than I’m facing in Arizona, and … my strategically placed Korean posters and cards.


TalkBox.Mom: Learning conversational Korean as a family!

Talk about appropriate placement!

But! What was awesome was that the system was so flexible (and simple) that we kept learning together anyway! Ash texted me Korean words of the day, and I used the TalkBox.Mom app on my phone to listen to them!

What was really cool was how many of them are similar to English. Cheese is Chee-ju, and realistically that covered about 30% of our daily food needs. (This also marks one of the things from my college Spanish minor that I remember most clearly – Quiero todo el queso – I want all the cheese.)

TalkBox.Mom: Learning conversational Korean as a family!

Distance-learning Korean with my kid for the win!

I am not at all sorry to admit that we did not do much to practice ah-tee-cho-keu, another cognate – artichokes. Ugh. But at least now I can dislike them in a new language too!

We saw this a lot with foods that were not native to Korea – especially things like tropical fruits like pineapples, or pah-ee-nae-peul, and, see if you can guess this one without help, leh-mon. But things like figs – more likely to grow in Asia – are moo-hwa-gwa. That led us down the fun unschooling rabbit trail of speculating about foreign and colonizing influences on languages!

TalkBox.Mom: Learning conversational Korean as a family!

That was cool. Another especially fun part was seeing Ash work the words into his other conversations – like telling me he was sitting in the backyard, feeding our squirrels and chipmunks ddang-kong, or peanuts, out of his hands!

I head home in another two weeks, and I’m excited to see what other words I can learn once we’re all in the same place. One of the great things about having basically an adult learning with me is that he is the one teaching me, much more than I am teaching him!

TalkBox.Mom: Learning conversational Korean as a family!

Try TalkBox.Mom for free!

TalkBox.Mom is currently offering a free language starter pack that offers 21 days of language-practicing activities.

Give it a try here – no purchase required.

(And no matter what language you end up pursuing, you owe me information on how to say cheese. This is clearly still the most important word in any language.)

The 100 best teen art supplies

Art has been a huge part of our family’s life since we began homeschooling in 2012. Unschooling art has taught all of us that there is more to being creative than whether you can correctly replicate a basket of apples on canvas. (Pro tip: I’ve had art on display in MANY gallery shows, including one show where just my work filled the whole gallery, but no, I cannot draw, sketch or paint you a basket of apples.)

That said, realism is a great art form! But collage, and abstract art, and mixed-media work, and surrealism, and any number of other things are also great ways to explore your creative side.

Disclosure: This post has some affiliate links. I only link to things we legitimately use and recommend, so if you see such a link, it's because we really do believe in the book or item!
Too many teenagers, whether in public school or homeschool, get the idea that art is something you are “good” or “not good” at. You can absolutely have specific talents in art. But it’s still art when it isn’t award-winning. Art is the process, not the result, and we have a ton of fun exploring even the media we are truly terrible at.

With that in mind, Ashar and I came up with a list of the 100 best teen art supplies. If you’re looking for a gift for the teenager in your life, these make a great starting place! Almost all of these are things we either use now or used in the past ourselves.

(And if you’d like to see other great gift ideas for unschoolers, especially teen unschoolers, check out our gift guide here!)

Unschool Rules: See the Best Teen Art Supplies

Workspace organization

These supplies can help you organize and display artwork of all kinds.

  1. Kallax – IKEA’s square shelving unit is basically the only shelving we use in our house. At a quick count, I believe we have something like 20 separate Kallaxen (our preferred plural of Kallax) in different sizes. Pairs well with…
  2. Drona! – These fabric bins fit perfectly inside the Kallax squares and can hold a surprisingly large volume of supplies, both in size and weight.
  3. Drafting Table Art & Craft Drawing Desk – Having a good basic workspace is important. We like this one because it doesn’t need a huge space.
  4. US Art Supply Wooden Tripod Display Easel
  5. US Art Supply Coronado French Style Easel with 12″ Drawer
  6. S. Art Supply Beachwood Sketch Box Easel with Divided Storage Compartment
  7. Art Alternatives Marquis Artists Adjustable Desk Box Easel – Most artists have a good easel, and these are great starter ones in a variety of sizes.
  8. Washi Tape Storage Box – I’m not saying washi tape breeds like rabbits in our house or anything, but…
  9. Art Profolio Presentation Book
  10. 24-Inch by 36-Inch Black Student Portfolio – If you have a teen artist, they almost certainly need a portfolio.
  11. LED Artcraft Tracing Light Pad – Ashar bought this for himself with his graduation money. He has used it to trace base shapes that he then expands upon!
  12. Deluxe Teal Geometric Rolling Papercraft Organizer Case
  13. Vencer 5 Drawer Wood Art Storage Box
  14. Blue Hills Studio Wide 8-Drawer Storage Cart
  15. Crafter’s Companion The Ultimate Marker Storage
  16. VonHaus Black 15-Drawer Organizer Cart with Rolling Wheels
  17. Craft Paint Revolving Storage Rack
  18. Everything Mary Rolling Storage Tote
  19. California Home Goods Snapcube Stackable Arts & Crafts Organizer Case
  20. US Art Supply Artist Wood Storage Box with Drawers
  21. ArtBin Transparent Art Supply Storage Box
  22. MyArtscape Paintbrush Holder – Organizer for 15 Long-Handle Brushes
  23. Loew-Cornell Multi-Bin Brush Organizer, 49 Hole
  24. Tinksky Artist Paintbrush Roll-Up Bag
  25. WeiBonD 96-Slot Pencil and Pen Holder
  26. ArtBin Clear Marker Storage
  27. Creative Mark Rue Art Drying Rack – If I could put an item on this list for “magical device to keep your cats from walking on your art,” I would, but barring that, this is the next-best option.

Paper, canvas and more

  1. Legion Paper Tape Binding Watercolor Pad
  2. Fabriano EcoQua Notebooks, Large
  3. Fabriano EcoQua Notebooks, Small – We LOVE Fabriano notebooks. These are just a couple of our favorites; you can search either Fabriano or Fabriano EcoQua to find tons more options.
  4. Strathmore Visual Journals – These make GREAT mixed-media notebooks. I use one as a “collage journal,” which is a ton of fun.
  5. Colore ProVisible Graphite Transfer Artist Paper
  6. Alvin Lightweight White Tracing Paper Roll
  7. Bienfang 20-Yard by 12-Inch Wide Sketching and Tracing Paper Roll – If you want to make something long on paper, this is your best bet.
  8. S. Art Supply 36″ Wide x 6 Yard Long Canvas Roll – The canvas version of the long paper roll above.
  9. Canson XL Series Watercolor Textured Paper Pad
  10. Strathmore Toned Gray Sketch Pad
  11. Artistik Canvas Panels
  12. Daveliou Stretched Canvas

Things that put color on other things

These are the paints, inks, colored pencils and more that we use to add color to our work.

  1. Daler-Rowney Pigmented Water-Resistant Liquid Acrylic Ink Set
  2. Staedtler Triplus Fineliner Pens – Cannot say enough good things about these. They’re what we use for almost any kind of writing, both artistic and day-to-day. I use them in my planners as well as a whole ton of crafts.
  3. Arteza Acrylic Paint Set, 60 Colors/Tubes
  4. Castle Art Supplies 72 Colored Pencils Set
  5. Tombow Dual Brush Pen Art Markers, 96 Color Set
  6. Woodman Crafts Paint Sticks
  7. Copic Marker Skin-Colored Markers, 6-Pack
  8. Crafts 4 ALL Set of 12 Professional Paint Brushes
  9. Colore Acrylic Paint Set, Set of 12
  10. Colore Watercolor Painting Kit, 24 Colors
  11. AIT Art Fine Detail 11-Brush Set
  12. Jen Manufacturing Poly-Brush Disposable Foam 3″ Brushes, 36 count
  13. Bob Ross Liquid White Oil Paint
  14. Artists’ Grade Gamsol Oil
  15. Plastic Paint Tray Palettes
  16. Acrylic Paint Brush Set, 50 pcs
  17. CONDA Cotton Canvas Painter’s Apron
  18. The Masters Brush Cleaner & Preserver
  19. Frjjthchy Stainless Steel Brush Washer – Technically, these last few items KEEP color from getting on other things, but you know what I mean.
  20. Wow! Extra Fine Glitter Set from American Crafts – Let’s hope your teenager can keep this neater than I can.
  21. EasyInk Temporary Tattoo Kit – One of Ashar’s current career explorations is tattoo artistry. I’m hoping to get him this so that he can see how ink goes onto skin in a less… needle-involved fashion.

Unschool Rules: See the Best Teen Art Supplies


  1. Westcott 12″ Personal Trimmer – A must if you do any kind of paper-crafting.
  2. Fiskars Paper Crafting Bypass Trimmer, 12-Inch
  3. Tonic Studios Tim Holtz 371 Retractable Craft Knife
  4. Bira 2″ inch Oval Lever Action Craft Punch for Paper Crafting
  5. Bira 3.5 inch Star Lever Action Extra Large Craft Punch for Paper Crafting
  6. Bira 2″inch Heart Lever Action Craft Punch for Paper Crafting
  7. Cassette Craft Punch Alphabet+number Set 36 Piece – Punches are awesome! Not only can you use these for traditional paper-crafting, but punched-out heavy cardstock is great to add to mixed-media work too.
  8. AC Cardstock Multicolor Extreme Value Pack
  9. American Crafts DCWV 12″ x 12″ Pastels Textured Cardstock Stack
  10. 12 x 12-inch AC Cardstock Pad by American Crafts
  11. DCWV Corrugated 12 by 12 Paper Pad
  12. ColorBok Cardstock Paper Pad, Delilah
  13. ColorBok Cardstock Paper Pad, Marble
  14. ColorBok Cardstock Paper Pad, Mint Julip – Cardstock is great for a number of art styles, from scrapbooking to mixed-media assemblage. We just happened to like these colors, but you can go wild choosing any size and color you want.
  15. Paper House Productions Paper Crafting Kit, Sun-Drenched – Patterned scrapbooking paper is awesome, and this reminds us of the beach, which we really love.
  16. Perfect Paper Crafting Cutting Mat
  17. Fablossom Paper Starter Kit to Make Paper Flowers
  18. Cactus and Succulent Stencil Templates
  19. We R Memory Keepers Twine for Paper Crafting, Secondary Colors
  20. We R Memory Keepers Twine for Paper Crafting, Neutral Colors
  21. Uxcell Plastic-Handled Scissors for Paper Crafting
  22. 40 Rolls Solid-Colored Washi Tape
  23. 60 Rolls Glitter-Patterned Washi Tape
  24. 48 Rolls Decorative Washi Tape – Remember how I said our washi collection is… ample? These are just a few of the basic styles.
  25. VENCINK Real Bone Folder – If you’re not familiar with papercrafting, this may seem weird. It’s not a folder like a thing you put papers in; it’s a thing that helps you fold paper, especially heavy paper, in neat creases.
  26. Sizzix Big Shot Cutting/Embossing Machine
  27. Silhouette Cameo 3
  28. Cricut Explore Air 2 – This and the Silhouette are great for cutting out specific shapes, including some very complex ones; in fact, you can even create your own art and have it cut. The Explore Air also lets you do custom printing and cutting at the same time. They can all be complicated to learn but once you get the hang of them you can do a ton. Some even cut fabric patterns for you, which is just more than I can deal with but very cool.

All things mixed media

This is a little bit cheating, because you can use literally anything as part of a “mixed-media” piece. These items are ones that especially work well when added to other art.

  1. Sizzix Thinlits Die Set for Mixed Media by Tim Holtz
  2. Tim Holtz Idea-ology Thrift Shop Ephemera Pack for Mixed Media – Laying this down under a thin coat of ink looks amazing!
  3. Aokbean Assorted Vintage Mixed Color Metal Steampunk Charms for Mixed Media
  4. Lindy’s Starburst Gang Spray Set Embossing Powder for Mixed Media
  5. Stampers Anonymous Tim Holtz Cling Rubber Stamp Set for Mixed Media
  6. Fiskars 8-Inch Amplify Mixed Media Shears
  7. Andy Skinner Mixed Media Alphabet Spaghetti Stencil
  8. Strathmore Mixed Media Roll of Vellum
  9. Hibery Mixed Set of 30 Antique Vintage Skeleton Keys, for Mixed Media – Ashar went through a period where he collected anything to do with skeleton keys, so finding ways to work them into art was big for us.
  10. 70pcs Vintage-styled Alphabet Rubber Stamps, for Mixed Media
  11. Faber Castell Metallic Texture Kit – Mixed Media Paper Crafting Kit

Just for fun

Because who can’t use more Bob Ross stuff?

  1. Bob Ross Heat Changing Mug
  2. Bob Ross Funko Pop
  3. Bob Ross Happy Trees University T-Shirt

Read more

This post is part of the 100 things post series on iHomeschool Network, where a bunch of my fellow homeschool bloggers share their lists containing, you guessed it, something more than 99 things.

Unschool Rules: 100 Best Teen Art Supplies is part of the iHomeschool Network's 100 Things series.

See other posts in the 100 Things series here!