Monday, May 30, 2016

A Review: Heroes, Heroines and Tales of Ancient History

It’s no secret that I love history.  Thankfully, Josiah has developed a love for the subject…which is a good thing, considering that I love history (did I mention that already?). A few years ago, I was blessed to review a group of history learning products from Golden Prairie Press. Amy Puetz just recently sent me her Heroes, Heroines, and Tales of Ancient History to see what I thought.



There are so many reasons to love this curriculum. For one, it can be used with different ages. For families with lots of learners this is a BIG benefit. Of course, I just have one curious and busy boy. It is still as terrific just with one student. It is also a full year curriculum. When I say a full year curriculum…I mean a FULL year of terrific hands-on experiences, terrific reading passes, songs, skits and much more!

I received the digital downloads of all the products, but there is a printed product option available, as well. One of the big benefits of the digital download is that there are unlimited downloads. 

This is what I received…

Listen To Some Ancient History – This is an audio collection of original speeches, letters and more.

Heroes, Heroines, and Tales of Ancient History Part 1 – This book contains all the lessons for the first half of the year.

Heroes, Heroines, and Tales of Ancient History Part 2 – This book contains all the lessons for the second half of the year.

Ancient Historical Skits   - Fun skits    
       
Ancient Coloring Book Bonus (coming soon!)

Sing Some Ancient History – This file has all the songs that are mentioned in the books (I LOVE THIS!)

Ancient Additional Materials  - These are some fun, extra bits that help in history learning. It has a printable timeline, beautiful artwork, and some videos.

This curriculum is intended for grades 1st through 6th. Of course, I think that you can use it with anyone who wants to learn some history (including curious and eager mommas). It’s divided up into lessons. Each lesson has 5 days of material. The curriculum begins with the study of Creation and ends with the beginning of the dark ages.

There are options every day for lower and upper grades. Some activities can be used for both. What I love is that there are options and ideas to use with each lesson. It is a very “learner friendly” curriculum.

I want to talk a bit about the stories used to tell the stories of our past. They are reprints of old and new stories. They aren’t simply dry facts, but help bring history alive. There are also writing topics and discussion questions included within the lessons. They are to help you ascertain how much the student is grasping. Of course, the writing lessons provide an integrated approach to learning.

The activities used to enforce the lessons are varied. We are encouraged not to try and use them all…we just need to do what works best with our crew.

I love it when the best of our homeschooling worlds collide. A suggested project during one lesson was to make Noah’s Ark out of playdough. Of course, Josiah had just finished an art unit on using air dry clay! How fun! Students are not only encouraged to create art, but to study it as well. Beautiful works of art are included throughout the curriculum.

The curriculum is also very “Scripture centered.” I love the verses that are included the curriculum.
There are a few items we just haven’t had a chance to try out. It’s hard to do a one-man skit. The Historical Skits has 10 skits in all. However, I’m sure that eventually we will be able to encourage a friend or two to help out.

There are so many fun activities that are included. Cooking, crafts, games…they all find their way into the lessons. Shew! I think Amy has done a beautiful job in making history leap off the pages and into our imaginations. You need to check it out! 

This curriculum is well worth investing in. I LOVE, LOVE everything about it.

 You can check it out by going to the Golden Prairie Press website and downloading a sample or two. 











Disclaimer: I received the above item for free in exchange for my honest review. I am not required to write a positive review.  The views expressed are all my own. 

Friday, May 27, 2016

A sweet visit...

I am so blessed.

I may or may not have mentioned this before, but when Troy and I adopted Josiah we made the conscience effort to stay in touch with some of his birth family.

I recognize that this is not something every adoptive parent can or should do. Josiah was not adopted out of a troubled and abusive situation. His birth mama simply had the wisdom to know that she was too young to raise him. She wanted things for his life that she knew she couldn't provide him at that time.

I think she has to be about the most special person in the world.

At the time, her grandparents were the backbone of her support system. And for years now, we have been in contact with these precious people in some way. Visits, phone calls, cards...

Through it all they have been nothing but gracious.

It was important for us to have people in Josiah's life that he could look at and know that there was a deeper connection. I am not saying that the deepest connection can't reside between adoptees and their parents and families. I know first hand how precious our relationship is. I couldn't love another child anymore than I love Josiah...even if that child had come from my womb.

Adoptive parents know what I'm talking about.

Josiah has been able to have the best of both worlds.

Last week, I made a yummy dinner. I set the table with a new table cloth and cloth napkins. I brewed iced tea and Josiah made his favorite no-bake cookies.

His great-grandparents were coming for supper.

They were visiting family and made a special trip over to see us. They live far away from us and we hadn't seen them in a few years.

 I can't even begin to tell you what a sweet visit we had. They couldn't stop staring at our beautiful boy. They tousled his hair and rubbed his shoulders. They compared noses and decided that Josiah got his sweet tooth from his great-grandpa.

Great-grandpa filled him with all the wisdom he could in that short time. "Work hard. Study hard. Love the Lord."

After supper, they took us to Josiah's favorite ice cream place. We ate our ice cream out there on the side walk and later Great-grandpa slipped Josiah some cash to "take mom and dad out for ice cream one night."

Josiah could not stop grinning. When the invitation came for us to visit them out of state Josiah immediately started pestering me.

He even reminded me today of our invitation.

Our visit got me thinking. When you live with someone day to day it is easy to take them for granted. You are familiar with the curve of their cheek or the cowlick on their crown. You know their mannerisms and habits and peculiarities.

When you are the parent of a child is it not hard to become easily irritated by something that their doing. Especially, when that child is now a teenager.

I've thought about my own interactions with my son. Sure. He knows we love him and I'm not about to give him a free pass concerning stinky attitudes or unfinished chores.

You know what I mean.

But. I can  temper my responses. I can tousle his hair a little more. Pepper our conversations with pleasant words and smiles.

I never want to take for granted this gift. This boy.

Did I mention that I'm blessed?




Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A TOS Review: Sunya Publishing (A Addition and Subtraction Game)

Some of my favorite teaching tools are games. A game seems to be able to present previously confusing material in such a way that is new and fresh. In particular, it seems as if math games are needed most at our house. Recently, we had a chance to review a grand new game from Sunya Publishing. It is called Sunya – The Math and Wonder of Math and Science Adding & Subtracting.  We had a blast with this one!


The whole game set comes with a couple of different things. The instruction book is spiral bound and gives some very interesting history about math, as well as the instructions on how to play. There are 60 cards that have numbers (along with dots indicating the amount), addition, subtraction and equal symbols. I also received 30 math and science riddle question cards. More about those in a minute.


 Along with all these goodies, I received an Adding & Subtracting Number Line Tool for added help

.

So the name of the game is this. You need to make a number sentence using the cards in your hand. This is the Basic Play version and this is the one we stuck with. Because Josiah has some dyscalculia issues, I felt that he needed some fun exposure to different combinations of sums. This was the perfect game for him! The game is intended for ages 7-adult. You can play it all by yourself or with up to 5 players. 



There are other versions (and more difficult) of the game you can play, but I can tell you that wanted to Josiah happily played the Basic Play over and over (and over again). That made this momma’s heart happy!


After a player wins a round, he or she gets to pick a card from the Math and Science Riddle Question Cards. This were so much fun!

I’m mean really.




Here are a few things you need to know.

This game is brand, spanking new. You won’t find it in any of your educational supply stores or your neighbor’s game closet. We have been blessed to be able to try it out.  This game is not being mass-produced at this time, but you should be able to order it from their website in the next few days.  

I will also say that the instructions could possibly be made easier by a little youtube tutorial. At least, for some of us that learn visually. However, I didn’t have as much trouble picking it up as I thought I would initially.

There is also a Multiplication and Division game to purchase. I think it would be another great one to have. 

I encourage you to give Sunya Publishing some love. This is really a fun and educational product!


Don’t forget to click on the banner to read more reviews. 




Math and Science {Sunya Publishing Review}

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Dreamy

So I was digging through some old pics. Actually I can't really use the term "digging." I was going through some picture files on my computer. I came across this.



I mean, really. Melt my heart. How cute is that! And where did that boy go? I think Josiah was 5 in this picture.

He's now a handsome 14-year-old. Teenage girls hit on him at Wal-mart. No kidding! And I was with him. How is this possible? Thankfully, we are never letting him out of the house again.


Sigh.

I realize I'm a little late to the party, but I'm not ready to be the mother of a teenage boy.

Sigh.

A TOS Review: Science Shepherd Life Science



Recently, I had the chance to review a wonderful science curriculum. Science Shepherd is a company started by a homeschool dad (and medical doctor) who wanted to provide higher level science education for homeschool families. We  were generously provided with their Science Shepherd Life Science for review. 



Science Shepherd is a Scripture-based curriculum.  This, of course, is in line with our beliefs. Science can be a rather tricky subject to navigate for those of us who appreciate sound Biblical teaching. After reading Science Shepherds take on science education, I knew that this would be a curriculum I could trust.




Life Science is intended for Middle School grades. I received a Student Text Bok, Answer Key and Parent Companion and Test Booklet. 


The Student Book features beautiful pictures and illustrations and is easily navigated. It contains 19 chapters.

Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Characteristics of Life
Chapter 3: The Chemistry of Life and Light Energy
Chapter 4: Cell membrane: Passive and Active Transport
Chapter 5: Cell Interior: Structure and Function
Chapter 6: DNA Structure and Function
Chapter 7: Cell Reproduction
Chapter 8: Heredity
Chapter 9: Evolution and Creation
Chapter 10: Scientific Classification I: Overview, Archaebacteria, Eubacteria, and Viruses
Chapter 11: Scientific Classification II: Protista and Fungi
Chapter 12: Scientific Classification: Plantae I
Chapter 13:  Scientific Classification: Plantae II
Chapter 14: Scientific Classification: Kingdom Animalia I
Chapter 15: Scientific Classification: Kingdom Animalia II
Chapter: 16: Scientific Classification: Kingdom Animalia III
Chapter 17: Scientific Classification: Human Anatomy and Physiology: Control, Support, and Movement
Chapter 18: Nutrition, Circulation, Respiration, and Protection
Chapter 19: Earth Studies


The Answer Key and Parent Companion contains a suggested student schedule, a Study Question Answer Key and Test Answer Key. There are also plenty of notes for you as the parent to help your student.


The Test Booklet contains all the tests that you will need for the curriculum. There are 9 tests in all.


How We Used It

Before I share my thoughts, I have to tell you that I am not a scientist. It is not my most favorite subject to teach. I took the minimal amount of science courses required for my college degree. My mind starts wandering whenever all those "sciencey" words start floating around. 

There are only so many history and literature courses we can do in a semester. 

Josiah is in 8th grade at present and will shortly be heading into High School. My concern is that he needs a rigorous science curriculum that will prepare him for other science courses he needs. 

However, Josiah is dyslexic and I know that he needs something that is understandable and not overwhelming.


We took turns reading the curriculum. I found it to be very easy to navigate and explained things in such a way that weren’t overwhelming. For one, there is plenty of white space in the text for easy reading.

This picture is from the second chapter of book (Characteristics of Life). This second point (cells) is clearly defined. You can also see that there are highlighted words. These words are also included in the glossary at the end of the chapter. 


 Each point is given an example to help aid in the understanding of it. At the end of each chapter are study questions. The Answer Key provides all the information you will need to help your student succeed. 


Testing is meant to be fairly flexible with this curriculum. For example, Test #1 has 32 questions! However, we as parents are encouraged to test the student according to our student's particular needs.  This might be that the test is shortened or that the students are allowed to answer the questions verbally.

Of course, verbal testing is more our speed. I appreciate the flexibility we are provided. 


This is a really excellent curriculum.  It is engaging and easy to understand. I wish I had had this curriculum before I took Anatomy and Physiology in college (or the nightmare course that was).  If you are wanting to provide your middle or high school student with a strong foundation in Biology this is the course for you! 

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




Science Shepherd Review


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.

Teenagers.

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}
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