Our Family

Our Family

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Schoolhouse Crew Review: ARTistic Pursuits

ARTistic Pursuits Review
Do you feel inadequate when trying to teach art to your children?  I do.  I am not at all talented artistically, but I think art is a very important subject t teach to children.  And it can be so much fun!  I am thankful we had an opportunity to use and review an art curriculum designed for use in the homeschool Sculpture Technique: Model from ARTistic Pursuits.
ARTistic Pursuits Review
Sculpture Technique: Model is one of the newest books from ARTistic Pursuits.  It was designed for children ages 11-18, but younger ages can use it with parent help.  Sculpture Technique: Model builds on skills taught in Sculpture Technique: Construct, but it can be used as a stand alone book as well.  The book is split up into three different units:

Unit 1: Creating Mass With Putty
Unit 2: Creating Scale With Clay
Unit 3: Creating Surface With Fiber

Each unit has a description about that unit, materials list and descriptions, 3-5 projects with step by step illustrated instructions, and an end of unit evaluation.  The book also contains a reading called The Road to Creativity, evaluation answer sheets, course description and suggested credits, and a suggested classroom schedule.

ARTistic Pursuits has a lot of information on Sculpture Technique:Model .  By clicking on the link you can see the supply list, table of contents, how to use the book, and sample pages from some of the lessons including a sample of an end of unit evaluation.  Check out these pages!  It will give you a great idea of this course!

You can purchase Sculpture Technique: Model for $47.95.  ARTistic Pursuits has a wide selection of books available from ages Pre-K-High School. 

I was so excited when I saw the two new books from ARTistic Pursuits.  We had an opportunity to use and review The Elements of Art and Composition.  Our art classes have recently ended and although I have been able to come up with some projects for my younger children, I just did not know what to do with my 10 and 12 year olds.  When I saw these books, I knew I had found my answer!

Since the books are geared for 11-18 year olds, I had planned on just letting Nick (12) and Alex (10 1/2) work on these on their own, but when the art supplies came, the rest of the children were so excited I decided to let them all give it a try.

We decided to start with Unit 2: Creating Scale With Clay.  We planned on working once a week on ARTistic Pursuits.  The first week we would read through the lesson and create the sculpture.  Then, since you have to let it dry for several days we would paint the sculpture the second week.  In this section of the book there are 4 projects so at a pace of 2 weeks er project would take about 8 weeks to finish.  The amount of time spent on the projects varied.  My younger children finished first of course with the older two boys spending around an hour or a little longer on their sculptures.

I discovered that since I was helping the younger children, I did not get as many pictures as I wanted because my hands were in clay or paint.  But I did get some good ones.

Pinch Pots

Slab Sculptures

There are only three of those because as I was setting them out and getting the paint ready my 3 year old decided she was going to "help" and dropped the others and broke them.

Coil Sculptures

We love Sculpture Technique: Model!  I have never seen an art curriculum anything like this before. The projects are awesome.  We have loved creating scale with clay and cannot wait to do the other units.  I cannot wait to try creating surface with fiber myself!  The photographs and illustrations of completed works are amazing along with the descriptions and definitions of what you are learning. The directions of each project are written very clearly in a step by step manner, and each step is illustrated.  Although the technique and methods are described clearly, there is plenty of room for the students creativity to shine through.  They can make each project their own.  I liked too that the list of tools that are needed are shown and described but also there are suggestions for around the house items that you can use instead.
I obviously worked on these projects with my 5,7,8,10, and 12 year olds, but you can easily give this book to ages 11 and up and they can work independently through it.  It is written to the student in a conversational manner and needs no additional instruction.  Also, many art courses are only worth .5 of a credit, but by completing this course, students will have earned one full credit.

I have been impressed with the art my children have created even though this book was designed for students much older than several of them.  We look forward to completing the two other units in Sculpture Technique: Model and other books by ARTistic Pursuits!
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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Homeschooling High School: The Senior Year

In a little more than 3 weeks, my oldest will be graduating!  Unbelievable.  I know that High School can be very intimidating for homeschoolers.  Parents fear that they won't be able to teach the more in depth subjects.  They fear that they won't keep good enough records or be able to create a transcript that will be appealing to colleges.  They worry that their homeschooler will have trouble getting accepted to the college of their choice.  Some may even worry that their high schooler is "missing out" on opportunities that Public School children have.

I am in no way any kind of expert on homeschooling high school (maybe I will be by the time Emelia graduates!) but we have managed to get through the high school years successfully and I wanted to share a little bit about what I have learned along the way especially during the senior year.

Don't stress!  You can successfully homeschool through high school!  Before the 9th grade year, take a look at what (if any) requirements your state has for homeschoolers to graduates.  Since our state does not have any specific requirements, I took a look at what the requirements were for public school students who were college bound so we could meet those.  Here is a suggested course of study for college bound students:

Subject Suggested Credits Possible Courses
English 4 credits Composition, American Lit, British Lit, World Lit, Rhetoric, 
Creative Writing, Speech/Communication, Journalism, Debate; 
also consider AP courses

Math 4+ credits Algebra 1 & 2, Geometry, Trigonometry, Pre-Calculus, 
Calculus, AP Calculus

History 3-4 credits ESSENTIALS: World History, American History, American 
Government. CONSIDER: Economics, Geography, 
Constitutional Law and AP courses
Science 3-4 credits Physical Science, General Science, Earth Science, Biology, 
Chemistry, and Physics. CONSIDER: AP courses

Foreign Language 2-4 credits French, Spanish, Latin, German, Russian, etc. (2 years same 
language preferred)

Physical Education 1-2 credits Many options available

Fine Arts 1-2 credits Art, Music, Drama, Photography, etc.

Electives 5 credits Practical Arts, Life Skills, Home Economics, Bible, Computer 
Skills, etc.

Total Credits: 23-27 credits

Then make a tentative plan with your student showing what they will be taking when.  I say tentative because this can (and probably will) change.  This is just a general idea.  Keep track of their courses and grades.  This is something I did not do a good job of.  When I was keeping her records, I was very vague in what I wrote down and then 3 years later when I was trying to do her transcript I could not remember the full title of the course. Thankfully I have this blog and could look back to see everything we did.

Find out which tests the colleges your child is considering has for their admissions requirements.  Most of the schools in our area required the ACT, but some schools prefer the SAT.  Have your child start preparing for these tests early in their junior year.  These tests are important not just to get accepted, but also for scholarships.  I would suggest having your child take it at least once in the junior year so they can get a feel for what the test will be like.  You can take the ACT as many times as you want and they will replace the lower scores with higher ones.  If you happen to score lower on your second try you still keep the higher score so you have nothing to lose by taking it more than once.  The test costs $35 each time you take it.  We used an ACT prep book that I bought at Walmart.  Chelsea took the ACT twice once as a junior and once as a senior, and did very well her second time.  If I had it to do over again, I would've had her take it one more time.  

At the end of the junior  year take a look at the courses and credits they have earned so far and make plans for the final year.  A lot of people ask about concurrent courses.  These are courses that a high school senior can take an earn college credits while still in high school.  We chose not to do these.  They may be a good idea for some students, but if you earn too many credits than you will no longer be entering college as a freshman which can lower your scholarship opportunities.  CLEP tests are another thing worth looking into.  You pay to take a test and if you score high enough you earn college credits.  We did not do these either.

Plan on taking your standardized test early in your senior year and start choosing which colleges (if you haven't already) your child is interested in so you can visit and apply.  In January, things start getting busy as this is when you need to start getting ready to fill out the FAFSA and completing other college paperwork.

Filling out the FAFSA is not optional to go to college.  Everyone has to fill it out. Everything that I read said to fill it out ASAP. So, the day after I filed our income tax, I filled it out.  The problem with that is that they have something called an IRS Retrieval Tool and if you start filling it out too soon after filing you can't use it.  I didn't think this was a big deal and skipped using it and entered in my numbers manually. Every school we sent the information to required you to use the Retrieval Tool.  So, I had to go back and edit the forms using the tool which made the first time I filled it out a waste of my time.  And as of today April 29th, we are still waiting to hear back from her two schools about how much financial aid she is eligible for.

The colleges we looked at were very homeschool friendly in their admission processes.  They required the ACT scores of 19 in each area.  We also needed to provide a transcript to them.  One school however did not require any transcript or other paperwork.  Chelsea got an unconditional acceptance based on her ACT scores.  

I had her transcript made by the Arkansas Education Alliance which is an organization in Arkansas who works for homeschoolers rights and provides things like ID cards and transcripts.  They are signed by the president of the Education Alliance and have a seal on them.  I sent all of her information in to them and they created her transcript and calculated her GPA.  I was happy with the way the transcript turned out, but I personally would have counted some of her credits differently.  They automatically counted her Home Ec courses as .25 a semester and I would've counted them as .5 because she has had so much course work in these areas and definitely deserved at least .5 of a credit.

The biggest amount of stress for me came during the month of February.  We were receiving all these things in the mail from colleges needing us to send things in, plus had to redo the FAFSA, plus had to fill out the paperwork for her graduation ceremony, and had to get her transcript information sent in.  But, we got it completed and sent in.  

I think trying to stay as organized as possible is the key.  I am not good at organizing by nature, but after going through the high school years with Chelsea, I will be more organized for my next child.  I am so thankful that I have this blog as a record of things we have done.  Also, encouraging your child to work on staying organized themselves is a big help.  When our old computer crashed, I was very thankful Chelsea had a printed copy of her transcript we were working on filed away in her college folder.  

Do not let the high school years intimidate you!  You can successfully homeschool through high school and prepare your child for college or whatever future plans they have for their lives!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Schoolhouse Crew Review: The Brinkman Adventures

Brinkman Adventures Review
Does your family listen to audibooks?  We started listening to audiobooks a few years ago as a way for my struggling reader to get to enjoy stories without having to wait for someone to read to him all of the time.  I discovered the audiobooks were great for listening to in the car, while cleaning, something to do on a rainy day, or before bed.  I had never hear of the Brinkman Adventures though until they came up for review.  We recently had an opportunity to review The Brinkman Adventures Season 2: Episodes 13-24.
Brinkman Adventures Review
The Brinkman Adventures are dramatized audiobooks about a real family and real modern day missionary stories that are suitable for the entire family to listen to together.  There are currently 2 seasons of The Brinkman Adventures available.  Season 1 has episodes 1-12 and contains 4 CDs and over 5 hours of listening time.  Season 2 has episodes 13-24 and also contains 4 CDs and over 5 hours of listening time. The Brinkman Adventures operates on a donation basis.  The suggested price for each season for the physical CDs is $25 and the downloadable mp3s is $17.

You can listen to a sample of The Brinkman Adventures.  You can also learn more about the story behind each episode but you may want to listen to them first so the ending isn't spoiled!

The twelve episodes on the Season 2 CDs are:
The Mystery Ring
Blue Hat and T Shirt Bible
How Big Is Your God Part 1
How Big Is Your God Part 2
Mexico By Bus
Treehouse Academy
Pirates of Mayan Island
Sapphire Slave Part 1
Sapphire Slave Part 2
Hadi's Choice
Castle of Secrets
On the Run
 My  3,5,7,8,10,12, and 17 year old children plus my husband and myself all listened to the Brinkman Adventures.We listened to the Brinkman Adventures while riding in the van, working on some art sculptures, and while house cleaning.  We spend quite a bit of time traveling back and forth to town and audiobooks are great for listening too in the van.  Listening to The Brinkman Adventures helped to break the monotony of cleaning the playroom/schoolroom which is never very much fun!

The Brinkman Adventures has everything you want in an audiobook and more.  The adventures are exciting and keep you in suspense making you want to continue listening.  The sound effects in the story are really good.  These are two things by children always look for in a good audiobook.  But, The Brinkman Adventures are more than just a good story.  They are teaching children about God using ordinary people in modern times to serve as missionaries and do amazing things to spread the word of God and teach people about God's love.  They show what an important role missionaries play in spreading the gospel.  I think they make families more aware of some of the things going on in parts of the world and how other people live that we do not think of on a day to day basis.  The stories help children learn compassion for people like the Mexican family who ate nothing but beans and tortillas and lived in one room. I know I had compassion for Susan over the bugs crawling on the floors and creatures in the walls!  The Brinkman Adventures show many miracles that can and do happen.  There is a lot of humor throughout the stories too.  As a family that raises chickens, the whole part of the rooster story had my children cracking up! There are parts that are sad as well.  My heart broke for the family when they are talking about the loss of their unborn twins.  There are some parts of the stories that are a little intense, but there was nothing that my children couldn't listen to.
We have very much enjoyed listening to The Brinkman Adventures!

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Homeschool Wrap Up Week 33

It has been an interesting week in our homeschool.

I ended last week's wrap up with coloring Easter Eggs on Saturday.  On Sunday we went to church and then went and picked up our new rabbits Elsa and Olaf.  The children were so excited and spent lots of time Sunday afternoon holding and playing with the bunnies.  Emmie was pretty tired so I brought her in to lay on the couch and watch a movie.  Antony came in too and went upstairs to play legos.  A little while later Chelsea came down and said Anthony's face looked funny like it was swollen.  I went to check on him and sure enough his face was very swollen almost to the point that his eyes were swelled shut.  He was very itchy and had a runny nose.  I put him in the shower and filled him full of benadryl for a few days.  We also put ice on his eyes which helped him to feel better.  We have always had rabbits and I was very surprised that he had a reaction.  I wasn't sure if we should keep them or not, but we have decided to for now.  Anthony is not allowed to hold them though.

I took this just a little while before his face started swelling

But, to make Anthony feel better about not being able to hold the rabbits, we decided to get him his own pet that he could take care of.  He really wanted some new tadpoles, ones that would turn into land frogs not aquatic frogs.  So I ordered this from Nature's Gift Store.  The really nice thing is that you can get the habitat, food, and supplies from the same place as the tadpoles.  You do not have to wait and get that stuff first and then send a coupon to someone else and have to wait forever for the tadpoles to arrive.  I ordered them on Tuesday, it shipped on Wednesday, and by Saturday morning his new tadpoles arrived.  He named them Croak and Hopster.

While we are talking about animals, our chicks are doing really well.  They are healthy and getting very big.  I took this picture on Wednesday one week after we got them.

We did do school this week of course.  Anthony was excused from schoolwork on Monday and so by default Christian did not have to do history or Logic of English Essentials because they do those together.

We finished up Homer Price and learned about the 70's and started the 80's in history.  One of the things that we were learning about was the first rockets which was very interesting because we were building rockets for rocket club that day and I didn't even plan that.  We did not get to fly our rockets because we got rained out, but hopefully will get a chance tomorrow.  The younger children were learning about Explorers.  The boys were fascinated to know that Ponce de Leon is a real person not just someone who was talked about in Pirates of the Caribbean.

Science had us finishing up our chapter on Arachnids.  We only have one chapter left of Land Animals and we will be finished will the book!

Completed map

We are still working on finishing Math.  Christian is on his last lesson.  Alex and Anthony have a few more and of course Nick and Chelsea have finished.  I am excited that I will have an opportunity to review Learning Wrap Ups with the children.  The timing is perfect as I was hoping to find them some fun hands on math to use a little this summer before we start up our new levels of Math U See in August.

We will not finish Level 4 of All About Spelling, Spelling You See, or Essentials when we are ready to break from our regular curriculum for the summer.  Wherever we are when we finish the rest will be our stopping point and we will start back up in August.

We are really enjoying Apologia's What On Earth Can I Do?  We will not finish along with our other subjects since we just got it, but will continue to work on it some this summer.

We built butterfly boxes at Grandview on Thursday for 4 H.  Our soccer season also ended Thursday.  The children are sad it is over, but I will be glad to have some evenings at home!

We had a great time at our Art Co-op on Friday learning about Van Gogh and making 3 different art projects.

Chelsea had her first job interview and got hired.  She will be working (starting tomorrow) at a Sonic close by our house.  She is excited! She also got a job pet sitting for a couple from our church for a week and is excited about that as well.  She still has a little bit of Poetry and Bible to finish up before graduation in 3 weeks.

I hope you had a great week in your homeschool!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Art Co-op: Van Gogh

Yesterday was our second Art Co-op.  The first one we did 2 weeks learned about Claude Monet and completed two art projects.  This week I decided to do Vincent Van Gogh.

First we learned a bit about Van Gogh, although I did downplay the mental illness and did not tell the children how he died.

Then we looked at some of his most famous paintings including one of my favorites Starry Night, which by the way several of the children recognized when I showed it to them :)

Then we started our first project.  The idea was to draw the outline of Starry Night with Elmer's Glue, allow the glue to dry and then color over it with oil pastels.  The effect is really cool, but I suggest if you try it, do it when you can allow the glue to dry over night.  The children did much thicker glue lines then I did on my practice one and even with drying them with a hair dryer not everyone's glue dried before it was time to leave.

While we were waiting for the glue to dry we did Van Gogh's Sunflowers using oil pastels.

And then since some of the Starry Night pictures were not yet dry we did it again by simply drawing it with oil pastels.

We had a lot of fun!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Review: Nashville Sweetheart by Rachel Hauck

Book Description:

"What do you do when the past you've been dodging shows up at your door with cameras rolling? Aubrey James ruled the charts as the queen of country for over a decade. She'd rocketed to fame in the shadow of her parents' death—both of them pioneers in gospel music. But while her public life—high-profile romances and fights with Music Row execs—made for juicy tabloid headlines, the real and private Aubrey has remained a media mystery. When a former band member betrays Aubrey's trust and sells an "exclusive" to a tabloid, the star knows she must go public with her story. But Aubrey's private world is rocked when the Inside NashVegas interviewer is someone from her past—someone she'd hoped to forget."

I have enjoyed every book that I have read by Rachel Hauck, so I was excited to have an opportunity to review Nashville Sweetheart.  I did not realize at first that this is not a new book by Rachel Hauck, but a book that she had written back in 2007 under the title of Diva NashVegas.  It is a good story about courage, faith, and being true to yourself in any circumstance even when you are a wealthy, famous, country superstar. It was an easy read and had some really great moments of fun and laughter between Aubrey and Scott.  I especially liked the basketball game and the cooking lesson.

It was not as good as some of the newer books that I have read.  There was a lot of back and forth between the characters that at times left me confused as to who was speaking, although that could have been something strange with the formatting of my ebook.  There were some parts of the story that I didn't feel had enough resolution such as the relationship that Aubrey has with her brother.  And the ending was very predictable although it was a good ending with the happily ever after which I always enjoy.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation and all opinions are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance to FTC regulations.

April Cloverbud 4 H Meeting

For this month's 4 H meeting we headed back out to Grandview and had a program on butterflies.  We did not have many at the meeting, only 9 4 Hers, 2 younger siblings, and a teen leader.

After discussing some facts about butterflies and answering lots of questions about butterflies, the children got a butterfly to decorate.  We also talked about butterfly gardens and the importance of butterflies and bees to a garden.

Then we started building the butterfly houses.  The houses are to be hung in a garden to give the butterflies a place to go into to get out of the rain or to find some shade.  There are slits in the front so they can get in and out and a piece of tree bark inside for them to land on.  Most of the children used drills and screws to put it together except for Christian who used a hammer and nails.

Christian was so proud to make it by himself with only a little help from Miss Aneesah.

Here is a finished one.

Don't they look cool?  They can be painted too if you want them to be.  We are not keeping all of ours, we will donate a couple of them since 4 were made at the meeting and Anthony brought his home to make with his daddy.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Schoolhouse Crew Review: Home School Adventure Co.

Home School Adventure Co.
Home School Adventure Co. creates biblically  based resources that help equip parents to raise children to be loving, compassionate, strong, and wise. We recently had an opportunity to use and review Philippians in 28 Weeks from Home School Adventure Co.
Philippians in 28 Weeks
Part of being able to share the word of God to others is to know it for yourself.  With Philippians in 28 Weeks, you and your children will be able to memorize the entire book of Philippians in 28 weeks.  This study can be used for read aloud and discussion as a family starting with children ages 9-11.  Ages 12 and up can do the study with parent guidance and high schoolers will be able to complete it on their own.

Philippians in 28 Weeks has 5 simple steps to help you and your family memorize the entire book.

1. Read- By reading the book everyday, your mind will absorb its contents.  You can read it aloud or read it to yourself, you just have to read everyday.
2. Record-A journal is included in the study for you to record your insights.  There are copywork verses to write, questions to write the answers to or discuss, and a page to summarize what you have learned or observed during that weeks reading.
3. Repeat- Read aloud or silently the week's verses everyday.
4. Review and Recite-At the end of the week review and recite aloud to another person the cards you have completed.
5.Retain-Recite the verses that you have learned at the start of each week before you begin a new card.

Included in the study are: an accountability log, memory cards, copywork, reflection , summary, and review and recite pages.  

There are sample pages available.  Go check them out!

Philippians in 28 Weeks is available in ESV or KJV. You can purchase Philippians in 28 Weeks in a print copy for $28.95  in either version or an ebook in the ESV for $14.95.  They also offer a cards only ebook option for $9.95 in the ESV.

Home School Adventure Co. has several other products for homeschoolers including Mere Christianity Journal, Philosophy Adventure, and The Wise Woman.  They are offering a discount of 10% from now until May 15th.
Home School Adventure Co.
I received an ebook copy of the KJV for my review.  I printed off all of the pages except the introduction.  I used Philippians in 28 Weeks mostly with my 12 year old, but my other children were also in the room listening as I read aloud from the book of Philippians everyday and we completed the discussion questions. 
We used Philippians in 28 Weeks everyday during our morning Bible lesson.  

I agree that the best way to learn the Bible is by reading it and hiding it in your heart.  I really liked Philippians in 28 Weeks.  I really liked the memory cards (especially once I got my printer to print them out correctly ;)  I liked the discussion questions and the copywork pages and thought this activities helped break down the monotony of simple rote memorization plus the discussion questions and summary pages give you an opportunity to dig deeper into the Scripture.

I was surprised at how much my younger children absorbed from just listening to me read aloud everyday. Just being in the room listening as I read aloud everyday had them reciting bits and pieces of Scripture, and that is always a good thing!

It was a little hard for my 12 year old though.  He has memorized lots of Bible verses, but never something so large.  I think he would have done better and enjoyed it more if we had built up from a few verses to something smaller and then tackled something like the book of Philippians. I think when he gets a bit older (high school age) I will have him go through it again on his own.  I think too that Philippians in 28 Weeks would make a great study for adults as well.

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