Tag Archives: TOS

ARTistic Pursuits Inc. ~ a Crew review

ARTistic Pursuits art instruction

The youngest of the giggly girls adores creating works of art and so when the opportunity came up to review one of the K-3rd Grade Level, Volumes 1-8 series from a beloved vendor – ARTistic Pursuits Inc. – she was very excited.

We were given the option to choose which of the eight levels we were most interested in. Volume 1 gives a solid art foundation with vocabulary and techniques and then volumes 2-8 go through the different historical periods in chronological order.

  • Art for Children, Building a Visual Vocabulary, K-3 Vol. 1
  • Art of the Ancients, K-3 Vol. 2
  • Art of the Middle Ages, K-3 Vol. 3
  • Artists that Shaped the Italian Renaissance, K-3 Vol. 4
  • Art of the Northern Countries, Renaissance to Realism, K-3 Vol. 5
  • Art of the Impressionists, K-3 Vol. 6
  • Art of the Modern Age, K-3 Vol. 7
  • Art in America, K-3 Vol. 8

Each of the volumes 2 – 8 also focus on a different medium. For example, we have been using volume 8 which focuses on techniques using graphite pencils and colored pencils. Other volumes work with chalk, clay, textiles, collage, sculpting, watercolor, and printmaking, to name just a few of the mediums and techniques this series addresses.

On the ARTistic Pursuits website, you will find an image that shows each of the volumes side-by-side. It puts the volume number, the title, the time period, and the art materials emphasis from the book in an easy to compare chart. There is also a sample video lesson for you to watch.

While the level of this series is listed at K-3, I have found that it is also a solid series for those a bit older because it is working on techniques. Each volume comes with a two discs – a DVD and a Blue-ray – that have video lessons. These lessons come up every few in the book and are clearly marked. This is the only place where an older student might feel like the series is below them as the videos are clearly made for students on the younger end of elementary ages. As I said though, there are so many good techniques and ideas taught, that this is a solid series for those a bit older who would benefit from this.

art video lesson

The beauty of the video lessons is that it is shown clearly how to use the materials. When discussing dark and light, the instruction is on a drawing a mountain goat and the darker and lighter portions are discussed on the video. Also, in talking about how to sharpen colored pencils, there is a visual to look at as the audio explains that there is wax in colored pencils and so after you have sharpened one or two, the sharpener doesn’t work as well. You need to sharpen your graphite pencil in between colored pencils so that the wax build-up on the blades is removed. I have gone 40+ years without knowing that, thinking I just wasn’t pressing the colored pencils into the sharpener hard enough. Yet, one minute in video lessons from Art in America, K-3 Vol. 8 got me information that has made a world of difference when using colored pencils!

So, why did we choose Art in America, K-3 Vol. 8? We have been studying American history this year and so I felt this volume would work well with our history studies. We are moving faster through the art book than the history periods but we are learning a lot and are able to correlate some of the artist studies with things we have studied or are going to study. One of the pieces of art work featured in the book is A Boy with a Flying Squirrel (Henry Pelham), 1765 by John Singleton Copley. The information that accompanies this artwork helps us see yet another way that some colonists showed their wealth, as portraits were for the wealthy in the American colonies. And in studying what he is wearing and what is around him, we see more of that wealth. This fell right in with some of the discussions we had about wealth vs poverty in the American colonies, especially after visiting Colonial Williamburg. We could imagine this piece of artwork hanging in the mansions we visited but no so much in the smaller homes and boarding houses. This is just one example of how this fits so well. The project to go along with this was for the student to create a portrait. So, I sat for a while as she drew me working.

artwork 4

All of the volumes in this series focus on a time period and a part of the world so I imagine all of them will fit in nicely with a historical study. I am thinking we will be studying world history next year so I may be getting the other volumes to accompany that study.

Another way this series is fabulous is that it is very adaptable to your schedule and your needs. We have been doing between 1 and 2 lessons a week. They are easy to do and, in our volume, we can take them with us easily if we are schooling away from home for some reason. We did more than one lesson at the dance studio, including one that looked at shape. She drew the shape of the windows on the building.

artwork 8

Each lesson includes a title and a listing of which lesson it is. Also, if it is a video lesson, it is stated at the top of the page. Then, there is a box under the title that lists the needed materials for the lesson so they can be gathered prior to starting the lesson.

The video lessons require watching the video to get the instruction on how to use the materials and how the assignment will work. Then, there is a recap in the book for the video lesson.

The written lessons begin with prep notes that the teacher might need to help get set up or grab, such as a photograph to work from or a plant to draw. They might need to take a walk outside or have you sit for your portrait. There is then a short study of an artist. We have read about Rembrandt Peale, John James Audubon, and have upcoming artist like Charles Demuth and Charles Burchfield. Next, there is a piece of artwork created by the artist and information about the piece. The pieces are reproduced in the book in full color. There are also questions for each piece to help the student really think about and focus on the piece.

After studying the artwork that illustrates the ideas of the lesson, the student has the lesson written out. Here is their list of materials in the written lesson, as well as what they are to do. There are examples of the steps drawn in the book and an example of student piece for that assignment. Then the student does their own piece.

In volume 8, their work includes light and dark

artwork 7

lines (drawing a favorite stuffed animal)

artwork 5

shape

artwork 6

shape and details

artwork 3

or adding color.

artwork 1

One thing that I have always liked about ARTistic Pursuits is that they leave a lot of the decision making up to the student when it comes to exactly what the student’s artwork will feature. They give the assignment such as drawing strong lines but allow the student to choose what object they will draw. This allows the student to have choice and say in what their artwork will be about. This personalizes their work and helps create a connection to the piece.

Art in America, K-3 Vol. 8 works on techniques with graphite pencils and colored pencils. This includes creating lines, color, light and dark, shadow, layering color, and so much more. The 18 lessons cover a lot. At the end of the book, there is a list of the objectives for each of the 18 lessons. And at the end of the each lesson, the piece of artwork is something for the student to be proud about.

artwork 2

We were able to review Art for Children, Building a Visual Vocabulary, K-3 Vol. 1 last year. It was as enjoyable as volume 8 has been. The videos and the book work the same way in both volumes, though the first volume focuses on building vocabulary and multiple techniques rather than on a time period and a narrowed focus on materials. It was a good, solid foundation for the other volumes. I had some reservations after using just volume 1 last time. Having used another volume, I find I have grown to like the format and the focus on a time period. I feel like I understand the series as a whole better now and like that it starts with the foundation and then narrows focus. It is quite a monetary commitment to get the entire series but I do feel like the materials is quite well done and really adds quite a bit to our history study this year.

Miss J’s Opinion:

All of the lessons are very good. I like the book. I like that it is art and I think others would like that, too. I learned how to draw things more like they look, such as a circle light hanging.

Okay, so she didn’t have much to say this morning about the book but it is one of the first lessons she asks about each day. I think it is fair to say that she really likes this book and is more than happy to keep creating art with Art in America, K-3 Vol. 8, part of the series K-3rd Grade Level, Volumes 1-8 from ARTistic Pursuits Inc.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

The Homeschool Review Crew families have been using all eight volumes from this series. Be sure to visit the Crew blog to read the reviews of other families using the other volumes. Just click the banner below.

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Homeschool Complete Unit Studies ~ a Crew review

Homeschool Complete post image for unit studies

Unit studies are these wonderful packages of study that combine several different core areas of study under one topic. Homeschool Complete offers a number of different
Unit Studies that are packed full of learning and fun. We have just finished up two unit studies, having used John Adams (a one-week study) and Pioneers (a three-week study).

Homeschool Complete is a curriculum choice that has seen success. Created by Debra Arbuthnot, these studies are what she used to homeschool her own children. Her children have now graduated college and she is sharing her successful curriculum with others. In addition to her family education, Mrs. Arbuthnot has 27 years in public and private education.

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Homeschool Complete offers stand alone unit studies, complete year-long curriculum options, reading curriculum, and bundles of these products. Visit the website to take a look at all that is offered.

During this review period, we used two of her unit studies – John Adams and Pioneers. These studies are set up on a four-day per week schedule but you can adjust it for five-day weeks if that is what you do in your home. Alternatively, there are some suggested activities and reading that would allow to you go further with the study if you would rather do that on day five of your week.

Each study includes all of your core materials – reading, writing, math, science, history, fine arts, and PE. Every day does not include all of these areas but most are covered every day. To complete everything on each day’s activity list take around 2 -3 hours, depending on how much you adjust and your own children. We skipped the math in both of the studies because our daughter is at a different place in her math skills than these studies include. Even with that, we often spent an hour and a half – 2 hours on the study each day.

If you are a bit intimidated by the thought of covering everything with one study, have no fear. There are pages at the beginning of the study on how to use the study and the guide, how to approach teaching new skills, and tackling calender time if you use it in you home (it is included in the study). There is a complete skills list and a complete materials list, including having it broken down by lesson, at the beginning of the PDF.

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John Adams is a one week long 54-page unit study covering, you guessed it, John Adams. In this 3rd-4th grade level study, there were picture books to read and discuss, writing activities, historical adventures to learn, biographies to read, weather to talk about, and so much more. From singing patriotic songs and doing some physical activity to working on workbook pages (included in the download of the study), there is a variety of activity for each day.

Homeschool Complete Adams study and worksheet

We did have to make a trip to the library for this study to get the picture books, but, hey, we love trips to the library! We found the main picture books for the study, as well as couple of additional ones to keep around. We also substituted the chapter book for out-loud reading because it did not correspond to the study and was a character my daughter did not like. We gathered a few supplies, like crayons and pencils and the printed worksheet, and started off.

Homeschool Complete Adams study

Each day we would work through a picture book. Then we would work through the activities for the day. These included working on contractions, recalling information from the book, reading a non-fiction passage and writing answers to questions over it, creating art work to go with an event, creating a Venn diagram to compare two people, writing paragraphs and poetry, and movement activities.

 

By the time the week was out, we had a pretty good grasp of the life of John Adams, his wife Abigail, and the work he did as President. It was a good study.

Homeschool Complete Pioneers

Pioneers is a 3-week study for grades 3 through 6. At over 150 pages, it is packed with all your core materials and a bundle of activities to help your student experience life on the prairie. This study has a main book – Little House on the Prairie – that you will need to obtain separately. With the addition of a few materials for activities such as baking vanity cakes or making ice cream or growing crystals, you’ll have three weeks of fun reading and activity to learn about life during the pioneer times.

 

I did much of the reading out loud for Little House and then we used it as the jumping off point for the lessons after that. There are comprehension and discussion questions to go along with each reading of three to four chapters. Then there are worksheets, included in the PDF download, to further thought and practice writing. Each worksheet has some cursive practice and some words to work with in reading, spelling, and/or alphabetizing. Most have a short passage to read and then answer questions about, practicing full sentences. In these, we discussed weather, grasshoppers, and temperatures, to name a few. Miss J created graphs, mapped travel, labeled parts of grasshoppers, practiced reading charts, and worked on the long jump. She also work on music rhythms and time signatures.

Each day was a new variety of things to do and ways to do them. It was a good variety and kept things fun and interesting for her. We were able to take a couple of the activities and modify it to be able to go outside and work when the weather was nice. We found this study to be very adaptable and easy to use. With everything included for you, you can use just this study and feel confident that you are covering plenty of material with your child.

Homeschool Complete worksheet modification eboard

Thoughts On Homeschool Complete Unit Studies

The unit studies are so full of activity and learning! You won’t be disappointed. Do recognize that your child may fall at a different understanding level for some of these. For example, the Pioneers study is listed for 4 different grade levels. There is no way the math in that study can work for all 4 levels so be prepared to adjust for your own students. But that is the beauty of these unit studies. They are so full of activities, that skipping a few things or modifying them doesn’t diminish the quality of the study. It still is full of core study activities centered around a theme.

Some of the activities don’t quite fit clearly into the theme but that is to be expected when you are trying to create a truly comprehensive unit study. An example is that for PE one day, there was a discussion of flexibility. Not a bad item to discuss and the activity was kind of fun for my girl but it didn’t really fit into the theme. Doesn’t matter – we covered PE that day!

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All in all, I really like these unit studies. They are packed full of materials, ideas, and activities to keep the students engaged and interested. They material is flexible and can be adjust easily as needed to fit your family. There is enough material included in the downloadable PDF files that you wouldn’t miss it. You can even choose to pay for the unit study to be printed and shipped to you if you would prefer that route.

COUPON AVAILABLE: Use the code CREW2019 and can get 10% off your order until 3/31/2019.

Homeschool Complete Discount

A while back, we also used the unit study on Soccer. I did not write a review here on my blog for it but you can find it on the The Old Schoolhouse Product Review page.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Homeschool Review Crew families have used a number of the unit studies as well as different grade levels of the All-Inclusive Curriculum. Please click through the banner below to visit the main post to read more reviews of Homeschool Complete.

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IXL for online, individualized learning ~ a Crew review

When it comes to online learning, a personalized fit is key. IXL Learning has that personalization and came to us for review at a time when we were looking for some fresh ideas.

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IXL is an online program that requires a subscription, a computer, and internet access. We are using the full annual membership and that gives us access to all grade levels and all subjects. This is a really good thing for us since we have a student in late elementary, one in middle school and one in high school. There truly is something for each of them with IXL.

IXL is a comprehensive curriculum for the elementary levels in math, language arts, science, and social studies. What this means is that the subject and skill areas covered is comprehensive – everything you would need for those levels. It is comprehensive in math and language arts all the way through high school. Science and social studies are available through 8th grade. There is also a Spanish class to take that covered many areas of the language.

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IXL is not a complete curriculum in that it does not include the teaching necessary for students to understand the concepts/skills if they don’t already know them. A parent/teacher would need to be available to preteach or teach when questions are missed. In a previous review, this is how we used IXL and it worked well. We used it to teach the skills the girls needed help with as they went along. They also used it to practice those things they already knew or could pick up easily.

HOW IT WORKS

When a student is ready to work in IXL, they log in. Each student has their own profile but it is under a central login. The student then chooses which subject area they are going to work in. After clicking, say, language arts, the student then chooses the grade level to work on and the specific skill area within that subject. So, Miss J might choose math, grade 4, and patterns. It will then begin her work.

She will read and answer questions. As she answers correctly, the questions get progressively more challenging, requiring the students to think harder to get all the way through the question set. This dynamic system keeps the questions fresh and the student working hard at mastery. When a questions is answered incorrectly, the program gives them an explanation page. It gives the correct answer, the answer the student gave, and a step-by-step explanation of the correct answer. The student must read through that or have someone read and explain it to them. There is not a “read to me” option and there are no video explanations with additional examples to help grasp the concept.

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Each question set has a goal. For many it is to reach 100. For others it is to answer a certain number of questions correctly. As they near the goal, it becomes a challenge zone, which is a key to the student that the questions are getting more difficult and they will have to work harder.

Alternatively, there is a second way to approach using IXL. When a student first begins, they can take a diagnostic test. Each question on the test is designed to narrow down the skills the student needs to work on, honing in on specific areas. The more questions the student answers, the better the program can identify needs. This is very good. However, you need to know that ahead of time because it otherwise becomes the never-ending test. It doesn’t stop, as far as I can tell. It just keeps honing. You can just have your student stop after a certain period of time you choose or answer a chosen number of questions.

Once the diagnostic test is stopped, there are recommendations made for the student. These recommendations do change when a different child clicks into their account. If the child has not taken the diagnostic test, they will still receive recommendations based on what they have worked on. The child can choose to tackle the recommendations or just go on to what they want to work on. The recommendations include all subject areas.

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HOW WE USED IT

IXL patternsMiss J is 10 and working at a 4th/5th grade level. She is using the program mostly for math but also doing some science, social studies, and Spanish. She is using the program almost every day for her math. She works for about 30 minutes on math each day, which takes her through 2 – 3 skill areas. Once a week, I sit down with her to go through Spanish. This is more of a review for her at these early stages, working on letters, numbers, and such. It does eventually become more conversational but she has to learn to spell the Spanish words for things before we move too much further with it. In science, she is exploring the gems and minerals part of the topics about once a week. And she is working on the American History topics once a week with me, also.

Miss J loves that she is getting some little “prizes” when she reaches certain goals – answer 100 questions or spend 2 hours on math. I also receive an emailed certificate for each of those goals. I can print that out or just show it to her online.

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Miss L is in 7th grade. She has had some math topics that she has struggled with. We have used IXL math as a review for her. I have given her a list of topics/skill areas that I want her to practice. She gets on and work through that list. I have seen those skill areas, as well as her general attention to detail in math, grow through using IXL.

IXL Learning for history FBMiss E is in high school. She has been using IXL to work on some of the history topics that relate to the project she is working on. She is creating cards related to the big happenings in American history. She used IXL to see how her retention was and to challenge herself in her memory. She has looked at some of the math topics, as well. They are relating to her math book very clearly and so when she needs some review or extra practice on math skills for algebra, she can log in here.I

WHAT I LIKE

IXL science personalized learning pin

I like that there are an abundance of topics and skill areas for the girls to work on. I like that there is something for everyone. I like the variety of question styles and answer options, such as the picture choices when working on minerals. And, I like that I can see progress.

There is a parent/teacher side to the site that gives you all sorts of diagnostic information. You can see how long any one student has worked in a given day or week. You can see the exact skills and questions they worked on. You can see if they need additional work. You can also see their progress. I like that this exists and can see how I might use it sometimes but I am not using it a lot. I do, however, see the benefits of this and am thankful it is there for those parents/teachers who want and need to see these for grades and planning.

All in all, there are some great things about IXL. It is a solid program for review or to work alongside an active parent/teacher. It is worth checking out.

If you are looking for a Spanish version of the site, there is one available. If you are in another country, it also possible for you to receive the site with the appropriate math skills for your area. It should redirect you automatically to the IXL site for your country.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

The Homeschool Review Crew had many families using IXL Learning for the past few weeks. Reading several reviews will help you understand more about the benefits and flexibility of this program. Please read more of the reviews by clicking the banner below.

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For The Temple (Heirloom Audio) ~ a Crew review

How do you approach history? Whether it is through books, field trips, text books, or some combination of them all, audio productions can add a significant conversation to the topic. Heirloom Audio has created a series of productions based on the GA Henty novels. Their most recent production, For The Temple, is a wonderful retelling of the Henty novel by the same name about the fall of Jerusalem during the Roman occupation of the Jewish lands.

For The Temple CD package (1)

This 2 CD set provides over 2 hours worth of story time. It features all the wonderful audio story-telling elements of a movie without the video portion. The vocal talents of folks like Brian Blessed, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Joseph Reed, Sophia Oxenham and 15 or 20 others create a fast-paced storyline that propels the listener into the setting of about 65 AD in the region of Galilee.

For The Temple open CD set (1)

STORYLINE –

John is the son of a vintner (grape grower and wine producer) in the area of the Sea of Galilee. He is about 16 at the start of the story. His family is raising a younger girl, Mary, who is 14. Mary and John are promised to each other and this plays into many decisions made in the story. They are growing and learning together. During a storm while the two are out on the Sea of Galilee, they are caught unawares and in danger. They are rescued by Josephus, the Jewish governor in the Roman controlled area.

Josephus is doing all he can to stay true to the Jews while peace-keeping with the Romans. His efforts fail and Rome invades the area. Josephus asks John to join him as he is impressed with John’s calmness during the storm. John does and they are caught in the siege of a walled city, Jotapata. When all around him are being killed, John was able to escape with a young boy named Jonas who had helped him prepare.

They made their way back to John’s home but he realizes that there is much to be done in fighting Rome. Particularly when he understands that they will head for Jerusalem, that the Holy City for the Jews is the main place they desire. John gathers a group around him to harass Rome through unusual tactics, knowing that face to face combat will not be helpful but only result in many deaths.

The biggest issue, however, is not Rome. It is the way the Jewish factions are fighting each other, looking to control and hold the power over everyone. They are killing each other and anyone who speaks against them. It is worst in Jerusalem, where not only are the factions causing issues, but they have imprisoned and killed much of the Sanhedrin, the ruling body of the Jews, and are using the temple as a stronghold. The people in Jerusalem are hurting, scared, and starving. And Rome marches on towards them.For The Temple quote

John ends up in an unusual position where he can almost ensure the safety of the temple in Jerusalem. Eliciting a promise from the Roman general Titus to do all in his power to save the temple, John pushes on with his band of followers, just in case, in the “first duty of every Jew, to protect the temple.”

 

THOUGHTS –

For The Temple is a fabulous story that brings history to life. I know that can be said of every Heirloom Audio production and this one is no different. The setting allowed me to learn much more about the time frame approaching the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD. I knew quite a bit about Rome but this taught me much more. Rome’s power was overwhelming. When you hear the numbers of men, women, and children who were killed as Rome marched towards Jerusalem, it is hard to comprehend. It is hard to understand that they would intentionally starve the people in the cities during the sieges and then murder anyone they came across after they entered the city. That kind of hatred and heartlessness is so difficult to understand. Yet, it is part of the history.

Knowing how hard people fought to protect the temple and Jerusalem brings another perspective to the history of that city and area.

G.A. Henty was an amazing writer and these stories are adaptations of his work. There is quite a bit changed in the audio production but it doesn’t necessarily make the story better or worse, just different. I would highly suggest reading the Henty novel, though. It really give a lot more detail about the way Rome approached Jerusalem and the way the people were affected. This is just one more way to expand the learning in relation to this audio production.

We took one morning to just sit and listen. The girls and I all got something to do with our hands, put on the CD, and enjoyed the story. I gave them some background prior to starting the CD, knowing that it would help them understand the setting and the people. I had already read the novel and listened to the CDs so I could prepare them a little bit. As we listened, we stopped once in a while and read some of the questions from the study guide or discussed what was happening. There were a few times when questions were asked and we took some time to talk about things such as who Josephus was, why the factions were fighting each other, and how the Romans fought. A couple of times, I did have to stop and explain what was happening. We also talked about the themes of loyalty and extending grace rather than humiliation that run through the story.

At the end, one of the girls asked if the story in the novel had ended like the audio production because it seemed somewhat abrupt to her. I told her that there were some definite changes to that part of the story and explained how the novel ended. Knowing the story ahead of time really helped me guide the girls through the story.

We absolutely enjoyed For The Temple. One of the lines towards the end is worth repeating:

History can certainly challenge us to look at what we believe.

For The Temple Study Guide (1)

STUDY GUIDE –

Heirloom Audio sent us an email that included a study guide that was about 40 pages in length. It follows the tracks on the CDs, making it easy to correlate learning. Each track has vocabulary words, some questions that just help to guide listening and follow the story, and then some additional questions that really make you think a bit deeper. There are also several small sections that are about different topics that will help you understand better. Some examples of these topics include the food of the region, Sabbath and Shabbat, and some information about Vespasian.

The end of the study guide includes three specific Bible study topics. These Bible studies are on No Other Savior, Proper Worship, and Christ Our Temple. These each have several statements to dig deeper into and Bible verses to support each of those statements.

GIRLS’ THOUGHTS –

Each of the girls had the same statement when asked about their favorite character – Mary! Spunky, sweet Mary starts the story at age 14 and informally betrothed to John. We see her grow and change, becoming a woman who understands her duty and the duty of the man she loves. She learns to become a wise young woman who works hard and prays hard. She retains her spunk throughout the story. She is a good role model, well, except for where she pushes the boat out onto the water after being told not to. But, that is something for you to experience when you listen to the Heirloom Audio production of For The Temple.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home

Looking for more Heirloom Audio? Here are their other productions (links go to my blog reviews).

Be certain to head over to the Homeschool Review Crew blog to read what other families thought about Heirloom Audio‘s production of For The Temple. Just click the banner below.

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A Site With Something For Everyone: SchoolhouseTeachers.com ~ a Crew review

This review contains affiliate links.

If you have read much of my blog at all, the name SchoolhouseTeachers.com comes up a lot. We use this site for tons of different reasons because there is SO MUCH there. When you purchase an Ultimate Annual Yearly Membership, you have access to everything.

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What does this mean? For the single price (which is currently on sale for Crew followers! see later in the post for the code), you get access to every single thing on the site. This includes curriculum, review materials, printables, planners, meal plans, videos, encouragement, World Book, specialized sections for specialized needs, and tons more. This access can be for one person or for the entire family. The price does not change.

There are currently over 450 courses on SchoolhouseTeachers.com. This ranges in age from preschool materials to those for adults. We are using things from all over the site, it seems like.

My high schooler enjoys using the Daily Writing and This Day In History writing prompts. She uses these every day and follows those prompts. She has a notebook full of interesting writing samples because of the variety of materials there. She doesn’t write every single day but when she does, there’s no stopping her. Today, she wrote over a page on Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Another course my high schooler is using is Speech. She doesn’t love this course but it has been a good one for her. She is working on it two days per week and some of the assignments take her several days worth of work. It is challenging, such as asking her to create and present on a product she would create after having her watch an episode of Shark Tank.

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She started off her chemistry class on SchoolhouseTeachers with Friendly Chemistry. She understands so much chemistry and she is really thriving with it.

My middle schooler is using Elements of Literature. She is currently reading and writing about Peter Pan using this course. A lot is packed into each of these lessons and she is now working on writing a story with the characters she has created over the past few weeks.

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The middle schooler is also using Drive Thru History American History for her current history explorations. The videos are solid information and she prints off the review sheet to go with each one. She prints it prior to watching the video so she can read through it to know what to listen for in the video. These are wonderful videos that teach so much.

My elementary student is using Daily Puzzlers. This is a new one for her to help continue the critical thinking she loves so much. The strategy for this is great for also challenging her spelling.

I am using one of the printable and editable planners to keep track of my girls education this year. It is wonderful to be able to print exactly what I need and to edit and personalize it to my needs. I pop it into a three-ring binder and can then add to or change as needed. From the weekly pages to the calendars and the monthly notes, this planner is just perfect for me.

Don’t forget that there are also some additional resources that you have access to when you become a member of SchoolhouseTeachers

  • World Book – There is an access code and link for members of SchoolhouseTeachers to be able to go to World Book online. There are spaces that are directed at different ages or topics. There is a search function and fabulous timelines. Readers, advanced non-fiction books, and more is all available for members of SchoolhouseTeachers.
  • Video Library – Members of SchoolhouseTeachers also have access to the wonderful video library. There are many videos that are related to the courses but Right Now Media access is also a part of this. There are well over 400 videos to be accessed. Parenting, faith, kids, science, history, and the list goes on.
  • Members Forum – This is a place where members can go to chat and encourage each other, ask questions, or get advice.

There is so much on the site that I felt like I should share, again, about this fabulous resource. If you haven’t yet, now is a great time to check it out. The price for Crew followers cannot be beat. I don’t know that I have ever seen it lower. Please check it out. I don’t think you will regret it.

SchoolhouseTeachers-Discount-Coupon-2019

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Click on the banner below and go read other reviews from Crew families, many of whom have been experiencing SchoolhouseTeachers.com for the first time. They have all found different parts of the site a good fit for their families and you might find that, too.

SchoolhouseTeachers.com-Online-Lesson-Reviews

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Practice Monkeys – Live Violin Classes ~ a Crew review

miss j playing

Music has a way of opening up joy in your life and I eagerly await hearing my girls practice each day. Miss L, age 12, and Miss J, age 9, are both playing the violin and have been working with Practice Monkeys. The Family Subscription to Live Violin Classes is for live, online classes but there are many aspects to the program that make it exceptional. As you read through this, realize that this is a family subscription – one subscription for all students in the family!

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Practice Monkeys fills a niche that I have seen in the home education world but also in the world of music education in general. Not everyone has access to musical education and to find string education is even harder for most people. Practice Monkeys is a series of leveled classes that are taught live, with plenty of recorded videos to help with practice and instruction when a live class has to be missed.

practice monkeys on the computer

There are currently 9 levels of violin on the Practice Monkeys site. If you are not a complete beginner, be sure to connect with Mrs. Van Kleek to set you up in the right level. Each level meets for about 15 minutes, four days a week. The time for each level is different so it is necessary to find your level to know the class time.

These live classes form the core of instruction and without them, learning violin is extremely difficult. Live classes allow for correction and training that just cannot be done with recordings alone. When you attend a live class, Mrs. Van Kleeck can look at your hand position, your bow position, and help you make those necessary corrections. She can also listen to the sound and advise what might need to be done. For example, without the live class participation, Mrs Van Kleeck cannot advise a student when their bow needs more rosin or their finger placement is just a smidge off. Tuning is another place where attending a live, online class will benefit. When the tuning is off as a beginner, you don’t often hear it or recognize it.

These are the benefits that Practice Monkey gives a student. Live teacher input allows for immediate correction and attention to detail that makes the difference between getting frustrated and giving up and making noticeable progress and learning to play.

Along with the live classes, a subscription to Practice Monkeys gets you access to the Treehouse for your placement level. The Treehouse is where you find practice videos, tuning help, instrument help, printable sheets for the skills in your level, parent tips, practice sheets, and videos for the performance pieces required to advance. It is packed full!

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As with all quality instruction, there are times for assessment and a checklist to help the student advance. The Treehouse has a printable checklist for the parent so that they can do a pre-assessment to know when to schedule a live assessment with Mrs. Van Kleeck. The checklist is clear and the expectations are laid out nicely so the student knows exactly what needs to be done. Once the student can go through the checklist with the parent, it is time to schedule that live assessment. In the live assessment, Mrs. Van Kleeck meets one-on-one with the student outside of the regular class time to go through the checklist and determine if the student is ready for the next level.

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Each week, an email of reminders and helpful hints is sent out. This is a great way to not forget to plan your practice time. One of the reminders is to print out the student’s practice sheet for the week. These sheets help with remembering each aspect of the practice time and to also progress in a consistent manner with the classes, skills, and pieces being learned. There are always helpful tidbits in the email, as well as reminders about any schedule changes for holidays and such.

getting ready for an assessment

These Suzuki-based classes are just what the home school community has been looking for. They offer something that is definitely needed and Mrs. Van Kleeck does a fabulous job of teaching her students. As stated earlier, the classes meet four days per week because music students need this much practice. The classes go from absolute beginnner to the end of Suzuki Book IV. There are also now piano classes being offered that at this point go from beginner to the end of Suzuki Book One.

miss l playing

Interested? At this point, lots of questions may be running through your mind. Hop over to the FAQ page for Practice Monkeys and read up on what is there. If you still have questions or concerns, a form is available on that page to send Mrs. Van Kleeck a message. There are also samples of the recorded classes on the page. If the sample is not quite enough, you can request to attend a single class for free to see how it all works.

Do note – these classes are live and online so there are some things you will need to acquire for the class. Obviously, an instrument is needed. Sizing and rental information is available in the FAQ as well as more detailed information on the FAQ page. You will need a paid subscription to Practice Monkeys. You will need a computer with a microphone and camera that work, as well as an internet connection. This will get you up and running with Practice Monkeys.

I know I speak positively about a lot of things. I wish I could just continue gushing about this program, though. Truly, I think it is wonderful and such a needed program. I highly encourage anyone looking for string instruction, or piano instruction (though I have not seen this part of the program), to check out Practice Monkeys.

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There is currently a special going on for readers of this blog and the Homeschool Review Crew. A special price is available for those who sign-up to become part of the Practice Monkeys community before February 1, 2019. The special price will be yours for the lifetime of your subscription. Visit the special page to read more and sign up.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

There were several other Homeschool Review Crew families who also reviewed Practice Monkeys. Be sure to click on the image below to read their reviews.

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Beloved: 365 Devotions For Young Women from Zondervan ~ a Crew review

Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women is just that – a devotional book created just for those young ladies who are going through their pre-teen and teenage years, as they strive to grow into women of integrity, women of God. Published by the well-known company Zondervan, this is a lovely book that will visually appeal to just about any young lady. 

Hardbacked with a foil-enhanced image of flowers on the front, this is a comfortable size. It is not a heavy book, even with the number of pages it contains to have one page per day of the year. The ribbon bookmark is secured in the binding and matches the lovely flowers just perfectly.

The beautiful pages follow the same color scheme and floral motif throughout. This devotion had me singing Mary’s song. 

Each page has a motif that matches the cover, only without the foil enhancements. The day is a fancy font and it is a day (Day 1, Day 2, etc.) rather than a date (January 1, January 2, etc.) so that this devotional series can be picked up and begun at any time of the year. The Bible verse for the day is printed in pink (which is a tad hard to read for these old eyes) but complements the colors perfectly. The devotion thought is printed in black, making it stand out well. The end of the page has four lines for whatever the young lady would like to use it for: journaling, doodling, adding reference verses, etc. It is a visually beautiful book. 

Let’s talk a bit about each devotion. As I mentioned there is a scripture followed by a few short paragraphs regarding something from the verse. These are fairly simple, without any challenging language or difficult sentence structures. Each devotion takes less than 10 minutes to read, think about, and discuss. My oldest would do each in about five minutes, which is a bit short for devotion times, in my opinion. Most of the devotions end with a real-life application of some sort, such a failing a test, dealing with someone who is unkind, or being afraid. Some of the devotions end with a challenge of some kind, such as the devotion regarding Naboth being killed by Jezebel that challenges the girls to not feel overwhelmed but to pick ONE thing and try to do it. (Day 264)

One thing I really like about this set of devotions is the number of women that are discussed. Your normal heroines are most decidedly included – Ruth, Esther, Mary, Naomi, Hannah and Sarah. However, there are some not so commonly thought about women included as well and that makes this an over-the-top good book, because even bad women can be good examples (of what not to be). Take Jezebel, Hagar, and the mother of Jephthah (the book uses her to reinforce that God can use any circumstance for His plan). While these women might not be ones that you would think of to say “be like her”, you definitely can use their lives to discuss what TO be and that is what this devotion does. Other women in this study include Zelophehad’s daughters, Manoah’s wife, Caleb’s daughter Aksah, and the woman Jesus healed from 12 years of bleeding. There are many, many role models here. 

Our stack of morning time studies that we do as a family. 

Our Use As A Family –
We used this devotion book daily as part of our morning time. I would read the verse from the book and then the devotional thoughts. We would discuss the things that the girls caught in the reading and then address any thoughts or questions they would have. We would do 2 or 3 of these each day. An example of some of the discussion we had involved Noah and his family. The girls wondered about other family members that would not have been on the ark – any other children, any daughters, his wife’s family, his daughters-in-law’s families, any grandchildren. It sparked some interesting thoughts and ideas. We pulled out the Bible to read more of the account and discuss what it really entailed for Noah’s wife and daughters-in-law to be on that boat. Heartache must have been a part of it yet these women were there. 

Another family discussion we had was in regards to Hagar and Sarai. We talked about trying to take control of something away from God and how difficult it can be to wait on the Lord’s time. We also talked about how in the process of taking control of the situation, something came between Hagar and Sarai. So we talked some more about friendships and how to mend hurts. Day 23 talks about Hagar being ugly to Sarai after Hagar became pregnant and how that affects both of them. 

Discussion together at night about submission after reading about God telling Hagar to return to Sarai.

Our Use As A Mother-Daughter Time –
Miss J and I were also reading this at our bed time readings. We had the book of Charlotte’s Web going so we just added a couple of these devotions to our time together each night. It was easy and only added a few minutes but it added a lot in terms of discussions and bonding. Miss J always had a comment to make about the reading (contrary to what it looks like with her quote below!). She often asked to read the passage from the Bible or to continue telling the story from the Bible. Some days, when she didn’t have much to say we might read three of the devotions. Other days, we would only get through one. This time allowed me to tailor the thoughts a bit more to her 9-almost-10-year-old-thinking. And it worked well. 

A Heads-Up! Day 237 is a discussion of sex. No anatomy discussion or anything like that but it does talk a bit about the difference between martial relationships and extra-marital ones. The context is David and Bathsheba. For some this might be a deal breaker; for others, they just want the heads-up. So here it is. . . I have not read every single devotion so I cannot tell you for sure if there are other days that may have topics your young lady is not ready for. 

The recommended age for this is 13-18. Middle school and high school girls could easily use this independently but I think it is appropriate for younger girls as well, just pre-read if you are concerned about content. 

Thoughts from Miss E:
I think this is a really good book but I would enjoy it more if the devotions were a little bit longer. It felt like there wasn’t enough space for there to be a fully-formed thought on some of them. It felt like it didn’t go deep enough to really be a devotional and I would enjoy it more like that. Also, I like the fact that they included lots of lessons on good role models. Ruth and Naomi had a number of lessons each. Even though Ruth only has 4 chapter in the Bible, the devotions captured different characteristics of each woman and had a single devotion for each of those characteristics. I really liked that. I would really like to have seen this include an index that grouped the devotions by topic such as getting married, choosing your career, handling disappointment, and others. That would make this useful in more ways. 

Thoughts from Miss L:
The ones we have done as a family have been good. I have enjoyed them. It doesn’t take a long time for each devo to get to the point so each one doesn’t take a long time. 

Thoughts from Miss J:
I liked it. The flowers were very pretty. It was nice to read together.

Blessings,
At Home.

To find out what other Homeschool Review Crew families thought about Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women, please click on the banner below to read their reviews. 

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