Thursday, May 19, 2016

A TOS Review: D'Aulaires' Greek Myths

When I was young bookworm (as opposed to the old bookworm I am now) we had a huge library of books at home. One of those books was D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths. The stories of narcissistic gods and creepy creatures fascinated me. It can be expected that when I got into high school and discovered that there was an actual Greek Mythological elective, I was over the moon! Needless to say…I nailed that class. I only wish I could say the same for Chemistry. And who remembers the old Clash of the Titan’s movie?

A few months ago, we reviewed an excellent set of Literature Guides from Memoria Press. They have been really good to The Crew this year. We just finished up another review from Memoria Press. This time, you’ve guessed it, we got to review D’Aulaires’ Greek Myths .

Memoria Press is a classical education company. They offer a plethora of great products geared for the classical homeschool family or private school. We’ve been able to review some great stuff before, but I have to say that this has been one of my favorites. 

The D’Aulaires’ Greek Myths Set comes with a Student Guide, Teacher’s Guide, flashcards and the D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths book itself.  It is intended for grades 3-6, but because Josiah is dyslexic I felt that this would be something he and I could tackle together. He is in 8th grade and managed just fine.

The D’Aulaires’ Book is big and beautiful. It also contains lovely illustrations. I could have used some of those illustrations when I read Homer in college.

The Student Guide contains 25 lessons with 5 review lessons in between. Instead of being divided into chapters the lessons cover certain pages in the D’Aulaires’ Book. I felt like the lessons were very well paced. The Student Guide is divided up onto a few sections.

Facts to Know: These are the names and places that will be introduced during the reading.

Vocabulary: Self-explanatory, except that the word is presented in context. There is a space to write the correct definition.

Comprehension Questions: These are just questions about the reading. There are generally about 5-10.

Activities: These vary. The student might be asked questions about the illustrations. They might be asked to think a little deeper. There are also references to Scripture, etc.  One of the fun sections in the book is a pronunciation guide in the back.

Of course, the Teacher’s Guide contains all the answers. Plus, there are a few suggestions to help you on your way.

As always, Memoria Press has done an excellent and thorough job of putting it all together.

How We Used It and What I Thought

This was one of the favorite subjects during the course of the review. Josiah and I would sit on the couch and read through our assigned reading for the day.

I want to share with you a few of the activities.

One of the stories Josiah enjoyed was the one about Arachne. It goes like this. Athena was the goddess of wisdom. She was also her father’s, Zeus, favorite. Which was rather odd considering she sprang from her father’s head wearing a full armor. Ouch! Only in Greek mythology.

Athena was also a great artisan and nurtured the arts in Greece. One of her pupils was a young country girl named Arachne. She was a beautiful weaver. She was also a bit of a braggart and boasted to everyone who would listen that Athena had taught her nothing.

Athena disguised herself as a young woman and approached Arachne and “tried to talk some sense into her.” Arachne apparently lacked sense and continued to crow about her own gifts…neglecting to mention the mentorship of Athena. Athena angrily threw off her disguise and challenged Arachne to a weaving throw-down.

And Arachne threw it down! She created a glorious and perfect masterpiece. Sadly, Arachne should have spent some time weaving herself a little humility. She had woven a very scandalous and irreverent picture of Zeus and his wives.

Athena (aka Daddy’s Girl) wasn’t haven’t it. She turned Arachne into a spider. Arachne’s doom was to weave an empty net forever.

The irony of Josiah’s love for this story is that he is extremely scared of spiders. In fact, it is how I have manipulated him all these years. “Josiah! You better get that room cleaned. You don’t want spiders to take up residence!” I have no shame.

Of course, D’Aulaires’ tells the story much more beautifully that I have.

This story was just a part of a few stories we had to read for a particular lesson.  But for this story, Josiah had to define the words loom, irreverent and vainglorious. He was also asked why Arachne was turned into a spider.

One of the more interesting assignments was discussing an illustration of the infamous tapestry and Arachne (post transformation).  We also looked up and discussed arachnid and arachnophobia.

This is really a fun study. I think it could be used as an independent study for some students. If your child struggles with reading and writing it still can be used successfully.  You will just need to be more involved.

We both thoroughly enjoyed this product.

There are samples of the product you can download on the Memoria Press site. You can connect with Memoria Press via the following social media outlets. Don’t forget to click on the banner to read more reviews. 

Logic, Greek Myths and Astronomy Memoria Press Review

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A TOS Review: Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization

Y’all have to know how I feel about Andrew Pudewa. I am that crazy stalker at homeschool conventions. He speaks the language of busy boys (and their siblings) and I have always gotten great encouragement out of any and all his talks.

Of course, Mr. Pudewa is the founder of  Institute of Excellence in Writing. We have blessed to review many of IEW’s products in the past. When word got out that we were going to able to review  LinguisticDevelopment through Poetry Memorization I did a little jig. Not only am I a huge fan of IEW, but I am a lover of all things poetry.

Doubtless, many of you are questioning the need for poetry memorization. After all, memorization is what die-hard classical educators do. Or Laura Ingalls Wilder who recited the whole history of the United States at a school exhibition in “Little Town on the Prairie.”

Is memorization outdated and unnecessary?  And how will memorizing poetry (of all things) do anybody any good?

Before I give you my interpretation of the whole matter, I need to tell you what I got in the mail. I received a lovely box containing the Teachers Manual, an audio set of CD’s of Mr. Pudewa reciting the poems and speeches, a DVD of the workshop Nurturing Competent Communicators with Andrew Pudewa. The set also comes with a downloadable copy of the Student Manual (PDF) and 7 MP3s of extra goodies to download.

Shew! If that wasn’t enough IEW graciously sent me a hard copy of the Student Manual for the purpose of my review. I do need to tell you that the Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization comes with the PDF version of the Student Manual. If you want a paper copy you can order it from the IEW site.

When first glancing through all of the poetry that is included in the program it can be overwhelming.

Thankfully, it is intended to last a few years. The first thing I did was watch the Nurturing Component Communicators. In this workshop, Mr. Pudewa gives convincing reasons why memorization poetry can be a positive tool in a student’s language development overall. The Teacher’s manual also contains excellent information on memorization, rhythm and rhyme, mastery learning and more.

Did you know that up until 60 years ago, recitation and memorization was an important teaching tool in the local classroom?  And the quality of the work being memorized and recited was stellar. Today, children get much of their linguistic input from media, peers and unsophisticated literature. I think we all can think of some unsophisticated literature of the top of our heads…not to mention the lyrics of those catchy pop tunes.

By memorizing beautiful and cleverly crafted works of poetry we are wiring their brains for equally beautiful and clever vocabulary and speech.

Personally, I love poetry. This wasn’t such a hard sell on my part. I have always exposed Josiah to poetry, but as he has gotten older I haven’t made memorization a priority.

Honestly, the thought of hours of memorizing The Charge of the Light Brigade made my head swim.

However, Linguistic Development is the easiest product you will ever use. Using the Student Manual and the CD, we simply listened and recited. We took it in the car and listened on the way to swim team. We listened during our afternoon tea and quoted “Ooey Gooey Was a Worm” to everyone who would appreciate it.

I do have a favorite memory of when I first stuck the CD in the player and Andrew Pudewa’s voice began to recite Ooey Gooey. Josiah’s eyes shone with understanding. His first comments weren’t about the quirky little poem; they were about Andrew Pudewa. “Mom! That’s the writing teacher.”

See. He speaks the language of busy boys.

I do need to say just a bit about the poetry and speeches that are included in the curriculum. They are fabulous. This curriculum is intended for grades K-12 (or in my opinion, kids of all ages).

The curriculum is divided up into 5 Levels, but everyone, regardless of your age or grade, begins with Level One.

I mentioned the above Ooey Gooey. And who can forget There Was an Old Person Whose Habits by the delightful (yet decidedly strange) Edward Lear.

Some of my favorites by Christina Rossetti and Robert Louis Stevenson are also included in Level One. Josiah memorized The Swing when he was quite a bit younger.

Each Poem in the book is provided with a list of Lesson Enhancements provided in one of the Appendices in the back of the Teacher’s Manual. For example, There Was an Old Person Whose Habits encourages us to further explore limericks, read about Edward Lear and learn about hyperbole.

There is also plenty of space on each page to illustrate the poem.

Level Two introduces us to a few more serious poems, such as The Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. We haven’t begun Level Two as of yet, but you can guarantee I had to look ahead to Rebecca, Who Slammed Doors for Fun and Perished Miserably by Hilaire Belloc. Besides of the unfortunate spelling of her name (mine is spelled Rebekah), Rebecca had some rough luck brought about by her own nasty habit of slamming doors. 

Level Three contains the great Casey at the Bat by Ernest Lawrence Thayer. While Level Four includes the beautiful Lochnivar by Sir Walter Scott. That being said there are a lot of poetry included in this curriculum.

I have yet to mention Level Five. Level Five does not include poetry for memorization. It is made up of speeches; either from history or from popular works of fiction.  In Level Five we will memorize Give Me Liberty by Patrick Henry, part of the Declaration of Independence and the opening lines from a Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.

I’m most excited about having Josiah memorize We Shall Fight on the Beaches by Winston Churchill. I’m thinking he can be the entertainment at Thanksgiving this year.

Okay. So I’ve blathered on enough. Surely you can see how awesome this product truly is. You can download samples to see it action. I tried to talk Josiah into letting me record him reciting Celery by Ogden Nash.


So to my earlier question. Does all this matter? I think it does. I know my son has entirety of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark’s dialogue committed to memory. He has memorized the entire NFL playbook and the lyrics to numerous jingles on television.  I would much rather have the words of exquisitely crafted poetry and speeches shape his language and vocabulary.  

You can connect with IEW via the following social media outlets. Don’t forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews. 

Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization  IEW Review

Thursday, May 12, 2016

A TOS Review: ARTistic Pursuits...Model!

I’ve been pretty fortunate to review some fantastic projects during my time with The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew. I have been able to share all manner of fun, life changing and sometimes quirky products and curriculum. Some of my favorite reviews have been those I could get my own hands dirty. For example, last year I reviewed a fabulous book from ARTistic Pursuits Inc. that allowed Josiah and I to work with oil and chalk pastels.

Recently, ARTistic Pursuits Inc gave the Crew another round of books for review. This time I asked to review Sculpture Technique Model. This books is all about modeling, putty and pottery. I just knew it was something both my boy and I would enjoy.

If you haven’t ready any of my ARTistic Pursuits reviews before you need to know that this is a curriculum that is geared specifically for home use. It teaches art appreciation, art history and all those wonderful techniques that are in an artist’s wheelhouse.

Sculpture Technique Model is intended for ages 11-18. There are 12 projects that the student can work through, but the techniques taught can be used to the young artists content.

The books is divided into 3 parts or units.

Unit One teaches us how to create mass with putty.

We immediately made a trip to Home Depot and bought ourselves a big ole canister of Durham’s Water Putty. This is some fun stuff! We spent time wondering what else we could create with it!

Unit Two works with clay. Fortunately, I have a niece is a potter herself and there was plenty of the clay needed at our disposal.

Unit Three teaches creating a surface with fiber. We didn’t get to this unit, but it looks fascinating. I’m not sure if it will be Josiah’s speed, so we will see.

As far as the rest of the art supplies go, there is a completed list towards the front of the book. I personally didn’t have to purchase much. I am blessed to have an artist for a mother. I just went to her house and shopped a little.

I did buy some spray paint (more on that in a minute) and lots of masking tape, along with the Durham’s Rock Hard Water Putty. I just like typing it. Durham’s Rock Hard Water Putty.

How We Used It

Just a little warning up front. These aren’t easy peasy projects. I’m not saying they are impossible, but don’t expect instant satisfaction. I know it an be frustrating for some students. They expect their artwork to look exactly like the art they are shown in the book. 

We worked through that a little bit by changing up some of the assignments. Don't worry. The folks at ARTistic Pursuits love it when you get all artsy on them. 

Let's take the very first unit. The first assignment was fairly simple. We were shown how to make flat sculptures using the water putty.

The example shown to us were these beautiful exotic fish painted with gold leaf. I asked Josiah what he would like to create using the technique and here is what we came up with. 

Josiah decided he would like to make a snake. 

I, too, made a snake. Why not? This will be a good prank in somebody's bed at Cousin Camp.

Josiah made a spider with all sorts of eyes. Kinda spooky, huh.

And my poor turtle. Somewhere he lost a leg. He's been hanging out on our bookshelf for several weeks now so who knows where it went.

These, my friends, are eyebrows. Josiah created them. I think they are especially exciting painted gold.

Speaking of gold. We were encouraging to use gold leaf or gold paint. Since I was going to spare the little bit of gold leaf I could steal  borrow from my Mom's art closet, I decided to go the spray paint route. Which in itself was a good time for Josiah. 

Even as simple as they projects are you can see that you have to account for dry time. We planned a day for sculpting and another day for painting. 

The next projects for Unit 1 are tricky. 

Josiah and I read through the project notes and discussed what he would like to create. 

The book suggests creating a sculpture with a smaller scale. 

This wasn't good enough for Josiah. He wanted to make a Shark's Mouth....complete with teeth and a little bit of blood. 

He basically wanted to create a movie prop. 

Don't ask me. I was hoping for a cupcake or a hummingbird. 

This project took a few weeks. We wadded and manipulated paper into the shapes we wanted and then started wrapping the whole thing in masking tape. 

The next step was to literally coat the whole structure in Durham's Rock Hard Water Putty and let it dry completely. 

After that major undertaking, Josiah painted the whole thing silver. He then took acrylic paint (red, of course) and painted the sharks mouth. 

The last step was hot gluing some foam teeth to the shark's gums. 

The book suggests to make your appendages and whatnot with cardboard and give them the same treatment that you did with the main sculpture.

I decided that we would use foam for obvious reasons. I sure don't want to get my hand caught in that mouth!

This was quite the process, but Josiah had such a good time with it.

We did make some headway into Unit 2 after all that. 

The projects in this unit involved working with air-dry clay. 

This technique that literally pinches little pots into existence is really a lot of fun. This is my weak attempt at copying the sculpture above. Mine is obviously thumbing for a ride. Gotta get out of here!

Pinching the pots is also good fine motor therapy. All of that finer work is hard for Josiah, but the clay is forgiving. 

We also wound up with a wee little cup and saucer and a bowl. I think it would be fun to make a whole bunch of these.

The last little thing I want to show you is a tiny sculpture out of the same air-dry clay. You can see from the above pictures that we didn't quite get to painting those sculptures yet. They take several days to dry and that will be a project for our next art day. 

This is a little owl made with the same clay. We did use a tooth pick to create the texture for his wings and stuck a couple of tiny beads on for eyes while the clay was still wet. The paint does go on fairly easily with this kind of clay. The book does a really good job instructing how to paint with these acrylic paints. The possibilities are endless. 

The last Unit of the book we didn't get to. It looks really cool and might be something I put my hand to. 

You can see that this is a fun, fun book to go through. I felt that the explanations were easy to follow (at least while I worked with Josiah) and we were able to take those techniques and make them our own. 

I always recommend ARTistic Pursuits for art instruction. I feel that they are thorough and they stretch us. Any of the projects that Josiah has created he can feel proud of. 

You can connect with ARTistic Pursuits via the following social media outlets. Don't forget to click on the banner for more reviews. 

ARTistic Pursuits Inc. Review

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

A TOS Review: Music Appreciation!

You might have heard me gush a few (or twenty) times about my appreciation for Classical Music.

I’m a fan.

It all began (sounds like one of those fish stories), when I was a little girl and my parents bought a huge box of vinyl records from a music shop in our little town. I was hooked. Since becoming a homeschool parent, I have tried to expose Josiah to all of those glorious tunes I twirled to in my bedroom in that little house in the woods. Our music appreciation has consisted of mostly listening to famous composers and reading the biographers of said composers.

And then I was given the opportunity to review Music Appreciation Book 1: for the Elementary Grades from Zeekzok Publishing LLC. What? Who me? Yes, please! I chose Paganini as our first composer. 

I know what you thinking. Josiah is certainly not elementary aged. After all, he is sporting something that looks suspiciously like a moustache. I Just. Couldn’t. Help. Myself.

Plus, he’s dyslexic and I thought that the reading books included would be less like to intimidate him.

Who am I kidding. I’m having as much fun with this as he is (probably more)

The Music Appreciation for Elementary Grades Book 1 Collection includes a student workbook, music appreciation CDs, a Lapbook CD, and seven biographies from the Great Musicians Series. 

Each reading book is about a different composer.

When we were approached for this review, we were asked to look through the list of those composers and choose one to specifically review. After all, wouldn’t it be boring if all the reviewers wanted to talk about Mozart?

Personally, I knew immediately who our composer would be.

Niccolò Paganini.

My family has a long history of fiddle playing. Notice I didn’t say anything about the violin. My folks play the fiddle. I actually had a great-grandfather who was a famous fiddle player in these parts. He had a few missing fingers, but could twiddle along with the best of them. He is even in an anthology or two of famous fiddle music.

Paganini, of course, was a violinist and composer of mythic proportions. He grew up in Italy and began playing the mandolin at age 5. AGE 5! He then moved on to the violin when he was 7.  Paganini wasn’t your typical 7-year-old violinist. He later picked up the guitar and his compositions were such that they inspired other composers.

What a slacker.

How We Used It

Josiah and I have been scheduling music appreciation twice a week. For this review period, we took turns reading the biography about Paganini. We listened to his compositions that were included on the Music Appreciation CD and worked through the student workbook.

The biography is not just the bare facts (thank you, ma’am), but it brings the composer’ story to life. We both were enchanted with Paganini’s story. Josiah worried about the sternness of Paganini’s father and I worried that he never got enough to eat.  It also revealed some history I hadn’t been aware of. When Napoleon annexed the area Paganini and his family were living at the time, he became concert master to Napoleon’s sister. Elisa Baciocchi. Baciocchi was given rulership over that province. 

Apparently, she had a bit of an attitude, as well. She certainly didn’t pay enough to keep the poor fella fed.  

You can use the biographies in this series as stand-alone products, but the Student Workbook is certainly the workhorse of this curriculum. The activities included in the workbook vary. They contains extra little bits of information, map work, actual music appreciation exercises and handwriting. 

Here (excuse my blurry picture) is the easy-to-follow outline. This was extremely handy to have. 

Map work.

And character qualities.

Don't let my slim picture offerings lead you astray. This is a substantial curriculum.  

In addition to all the other goodies we received there is a Lapbook CD with more than 100 pages of activities. You will be amazed at all the fun stuff that’s included.

Music Appreciation generally takes us more than an hour to complete. There is a lot of good information, quality content and lots of substance to this curriculum.  

Josiah learned to review music and develop his music listening ear, One of the listening activities included learning to appreciate the universal language that is music. We listened to several different tracks of music from around the world that are included on the Music CD. 

There are a few things I need to tell you. This curriculum is intended for the elementary grades (K-6). You, of course, will have to determine how well it will work with your students. It also can be used for a multi-aged group. There are some activities in the workbook that will be more challenging for younger grades, but the stories are timeless. The series is intended to take you through 2 years. I can see this happening. There is so much great stuff to do! 

Go check out the product yourself and tell me what you think! 

In the meantime, you can connect with Zeezok Publishing LLC via the following social media outlets. Don't forget to click on the banner for more reviews. 

Music Appreciation for the Elementary Grades {Zeezok Publishing LLC Review}

Saturday, May 7, 2016


Spring has sprung all over the Ozarks!

Of course, we can expect any kind of weather around here. A few years ago, we had snowflakes the first of May....and a tornado the next week.

Last Sunday was gawgeous! We needed some recent family pictures so I asked Mom if she would do the honors  after church while we still looked presentable.

My parents' farm is the perfect place for pictures and my mom is a excellent photographer.

When she was downloading our pictures on to her computer I saw a few pics from the farm I knew I needed to share.

They made me feel "all springy" inside.

Turkey shooters unite! Apparently, it's the season. We even had a few young men from church gone yesterday on a turkey shoot. Their grandma eloquently put it this way. "Turkeys shooting Turkeys." I didn't say it. They are nice young men. I can't speak for the turkeys.

I don't know what kind of flowers these are. My flower identification superpowers are weak at best. We will just all them pretty white flowers.

Now this is a peony. I LOVE peonies. They are just plain loverly. My dad is the flower whisperer. Along with the vegetable patch whisperer and the chicken whisperer. He also has some purple and pink ones that will bloom in just a few weeks. They were the stars of the show at my Niece's Graduation Tea last year. Along with the chicken salad.

When I said my Dad is the chicken whisperer...I'm not kidding. At this moment, he has a cage of Big Chickens, another cage of Little Big Chickens and yet another cage of  Little Little Chickens. I'm not sure if he has any in the incubator right now or not. The Little Little Chickens are still in the basement under the lights. They aren't ready for Prime Time yet. These Chickens (Little Big) recently graduated to a cage in the Big Yard. He makes all the cages movable. Every week or so the cage gets moved to another part of the yard.

The Little Big Chickens are kind of at that awkward, unattractive stage.

I feel your pain, girlfriend.

Now here is a Big Chicken. A rooster to be exact. I think he's giving me "stank-eye."

This rooster (who has a name, but I can't remember it...chunkles, fuzzy...I'm not sure) has the reputation of being the ornery one.

I'm not so sure. This checkered chicken (aptly named Checkers) is giving me a 'tude.

This is an Australian Shepard named Amy. She is friendly, smart and has a cute smattering of freckles across her snout. She is the queen of her castle. The Rottweiler (Solomon) knows it!

Such loveliness!

My sweet little family. I am not that short. I am sitting a short stool. But then again...I am almost short. Shorter. At least, shorter than either of my boys.  Aren't my boys handsome?

Ah. Spring. What are you most excited about this spring?

Thursday, April 28, 2016

An INSANELY Crazy List of FREE E-BOOKS to Download

You might remember my little post about some awesome FREE stuff that was being offered through the month of April from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine..

Well. April is almost over and I want to share with you not only my original post for the FREEBIES I had chosen for my readers, but I want to point you in the direction of my fellow TOS Reviewers and their FREEBIE choices.

Warning. This is quite a list of links. But (and this is a biggie) are going to be able to haul in quite the downloads....ALL FOR FREE.

So grab a cup of hot tea, make sure your internet connection is in high form and start clicking! I know you are going to find a treasure (or 100!).

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


I love it when I get products to review that I claim all my own. At least, I can use them on the other people in my house…if I choose! I’ve been blessed to review products for Koru Naturals. I can tell you that I am STILL using them. One of the products that has been in rotation in our household has been the Emu Oil. This time around, I had the chance to review GREEMU, by Devonian Health and Beauty. GREEMU is a plant-based emu oil alternative.

So what is GREEMU? It is a vegan (plant based) alternative for the emu oil. Emu Oil is obviously not a vegan product (given that it comes from the fatty tissues of an emu). GREEMU provides the same excellent qualities as the emu oil, but is a vegan, cruelty-free beauty oil.

It contains ingredients like Macadamia Seed Oil, Palm Oil (Organic and Sustainable Certified), Shea Butter, Sunflower Seed Oil, and Rice Bran Oil.

My skin issues are tricky. I have rosacea, which limits my choices for skin care products. I try and keep away from products and foods (or environments) that cause inflammation. I have had success with Emu Oil, but I have to say that I like GREEMU even more.

For one it appeases my runaway imagination. I am not vegan or even vegetarian, but I don’t like to think of all those harmless little emus who have suffered for my flame free skin….especially considering they aren’t really used as food for hungry people.

Another benefit to the GREEMU (in my opinion) is that it isn’t quite as oily. I found it to be lighter than the emu oil.

GREEMU promises to help tweak my fine lines and wrinkles. Yay! It also a good hair tonic. It can help with those who have flyaway hair and tend to get split ends. I’m also thinking I might try it on Josiah’s scalp. He is on a swim team and doesn’t perhaps wash his hair to his momma’s satisfaction.  He often has trouble with an irritated scalp.

There is only one safety warning when using GREEMU…which is refreshing. They suggest you not use it if you are allergic to plant oils. I’m fairly sensitive to a lot of products and haven’t had one iota of trouble with this product.

I received a 4 ounce bottle of GREEMU and barely use just a smidgen every day. This is going to last us a long time.

GREEMU for the win!

You can connect with GREEMU via the following social media outlets. Don’t forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews.

Greemu Devonian Review

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...