Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A TOS Review :: Artistic Pursuits Elementary 4-5, Book 1

ARTistic Pursuits has been a part of our learning environment for many years.  This is why I was overjoyed when Elementary 4-5, Book 1: The Elements of Art and Composition was offered for review.  We were in midst of the second early elementary book when we made the switch.
One of the reasons we like ARTistic Pursuits is that the presentation and projects are easy to follow and are really engaging.  The girls and I often have discussions about the artists that are introduced.  We have come across quite a few artists that we had not heard of, but thanks to this program we have gotten a chance to “meet” them and learn more about the place in history.

Even though we have experience with ARTistic Pursuits, I learned that  Elementary 4-5, Book 1: The Elements of Art and Composition was different from the previous books that we have used because it focuses primarily on drawing techniques including line, form, balance, and depth to name a few whereas the younger elementary books include different media.

There are 16 units in Elementary 4-5, Book 1.  All lessons are contained in a physical spiral bound book.    Each unit is divided into four sections: Building Visual Vocabulary, American Art Appreciation and History, Techniques, and Applications.  Building Visual Vocabulary introduces the student to the topic in words and pictures.  American Art Appreciation and History provides examples of master works using the specific topic and also focuses on artists.   The Techniques section provides instructions to the students for how to use the materials.   Application allows the student to incorporate the new techniques and use a variety of references to create the final project for the unit.  The materials used for the final project are the same ones used to complete the previous lessons.  Since this is a drawing program, we only needed Ebony pencils, a vinyl eraser, metal pencil sharpener, and a sketchpad for the projects we completed.
In our house, we do art at least three times a week because we have a daughter who loves art.  This program easily meets her needs. It provided her with just the right amount of creative time while pushing her to expand her artistic skills. I would recommend setting at least an hour aside for art time to allow your child to become fully engaged in the work.  Our other daughter isn’t as big of a fan of art, but she does enjoy history so the history component of this program makes it easier for her to engage.  By the time we reach the final project, she is usually just as into the project as the rest of us.

Before reviewing this product, I did not realize that the upper programs became more specific to a particular area of art.  This was an added bonus for me.  By having the girls focus only on drawing, they were developing a keener eye and learned to pay a little more attention to details.  They came to the realization that they needed to be more aware of their subject.  This program was their first drawing class.  I am excited to see their progress and how their skill will continue to develop.

They are still developing their skills so be kind to their work :) I was only allowed to share this picture because I told them that I have nice readers.
I find that doing art at home gives us the opportunity to bond over less tensed work.  It has been relaxing to focus on a subject and then see the subject appear onto a clean sheet of paper.  I complete most projects with the girls although it could be a self-directed program.  Even though this program is geared towards late elementary, our second grader enjoyed the program.  I actually don't believe that she knew it was geared towards older children. 
 photo signature_zpsbe3a1e09.png

Crew Disclaimer
ARTistic Pursuits Review


©2009- 2015 A Little This... A Little That. All rights reserved. All photographs, text, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written permission of the author. http://lilthisandthat.com

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Praising and Serving in a New Place

One thing that was important to me when we started this journey was not becoming disconnected from the body of Christ.  Let me go back, it really was my Spirit that urged me not to become disconnected.

This was the second big move in our marriage.  When we moved to our previous home we took a major break from church.  I think I can say we didn't know where to go.  We knew what we didn't want, but we had never really seen what we did want.  This time around I knew before we moved that we couldn't go that route.  We aren't the same people that we were 9 years ago.

To stay connected with some believers, we transferred our Community Bible Study membership.  Again this truly wasn't my doing because I was going to just wait it out until the fall, but I was obedient and joining these ladies weekly has truly been a blessing.  As I said before, this move is a faith move.  Every day we are moving in faith.  One foot in front of the other trying not to look down or lose focus.

Before I go on to the next point, I want to give you guys a little background about my marriage.  My husband has always said that he trusts me.  He trusts my judgment.  He doesn't believe that I would intentionally do anything wrong to hurt our family.  I really didn't understand this earlier in our marriage because I felt like I had too much control. Or that I had to make all of the decisions or whatever.  There was an internal battle there because so many places you read that husbands are leaders and this is what it should look like, but it doesn't look the same way for everyone or every marriage. 

Now, we visited two churches.  The girls liked one and I liked the other, and he said either works because God is at both.  Well, we decided we would go to both.  One on Saturday and the other on Sunday.  We did that for one week.  Last week, actually.  I thought we would do it for a few months because I really do believe in allowing the girls to be a part of such things.  I know that they have to have faith for themselves, and that they may not always want to worship where we worship.

We are greeted with encouraging words and scriptures painted on the walls. 
I can say God, really listened to my heart and desires. Or maybe I was just listening to His.  That laidback-ness of my husband's that I once complained about, I am really thankful for it because he trusted the Spirit residing in me to lead us to a church that would benefit our entire family.  My heart wanted connections with the other people that we worshipped with; our old church was too big.  It was easy to become disconnected or just know the few people you serve with and that's it without any real outside interaction.  I, personally, did not want to return to that.  We really did learn a lot from our former pastor.  He lead us to truth and challenged us to know God for ourselves.

Today for the first time our family served together for an entire day with other people from the church.  My first desire had been answered.  My second desire was answered when my daughters saw the meaning of my words when I spoke about connections, and they quickly changed to "Yes, mommy, we can go to this church."  They loved serving.  We cleaned, got rid of trash, and scrubbed floors.  This is what made them change their minds.  I am so grateful that we were surrounded by other adults who spoke words of life into our girls.  After we served for 3 hours, the girls shared that they wanted to return to serve dinner to the homeless at this day shelter.  We returned.  They served.  They fix the plates.  They interacted.  They showed me that this home ministry is really doing a work in their hearts, and that His words do not return void.  The last thing, maybe,  is that my husband made real connections with other men while he served (Can I say that watching them scrub all the dishes did my heart good!  I told him that I helped prepare him for such a time as this because he really does do dishes at home often).  In our everyday life, men are far and few between that really build each other up in God's word and name.  This has been a prayer.  I wanted my husband to have some of the same things that I have.  I have awesome women who pour into my life.  Some are online.  Some are in bible study.  Some are miles and miles away so we chat over the phone or through texting.  I know the value of not doing life alone and having confidants that believe.

Don't get distracted. Trust in Him.

What I have learned that if you submit your desires to Him and yourself, believe, and they align with His will and way then your prayers will be answered.  This package may not come in a cute, little bundle.  We found this church through an ad in a local, free paper.  This church shares a building with a beer brewery, and if they have a band we can hear it during Saturday night service. We could have easily turned around when we pulled into the parking lot a few Sundays ago, but we didn't.  For this, I am thankful.  He truly is everywhere, and He can teach you anywhere.

This is like my longest post, and I pray that it helps somebody somewhere :)

Be Blessed!

This post is part of the What's My Story series encouraged by Darcel at The Mahogany Way.
 photo signature_zpsbe3a1e09.png

©2009- 2015 A Little This... A Little That. All rights reserved. All photographs, text, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written permission of the author. http://lilthisandthat.com

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A TOS Review:: Memoria Press~New American Cursive Book 1

Cursive writing is an important part of our home learning studies.  When the girls showed interest in learning to write their names in cursive, I made it a point to teach them.  Learning cursive has not been the easiest for our youngest daughter so when I was presented with the opportunity to review Memoria Press’  New American Cursive: Penmanship Program Workbook 1, I asked my daughter if she wanted to give it a shot.  She happily agreed.
Memoria Press sent her a new copy of the New American Cursive: Penmanship Program Workbook 1.  The teaching guide for the program is included within the student text.

She was thrilled to receive her new book and jumped right into it on day one.  Each letter is presented on a page alone called the instruction.  The letters are large enough to trace with your index finger which allows the student to feel the letter before writing it. The instruction page also reminds the student of the proper way to hold the pencil for both, right and left hand students.
There’s a cute little meerkat named Mr. Meerkat that guides the student through the book offering reminders and highlighting directions.  Each letter follows the same routine so there is very little confusion.   The practice pages focuses on one letter, and the student traces the letter several times. After tracing the letters, the student is to write each letter twice followed by circling the letter that was written the best.

The pages are not daunting.  I like this.  There is just enough practice on each page without overkill.  This makes it more relaxing for her because the page is not covered from top to bottom with repetition. This also makes it a part of our homeschooling curriculum that she looks forward to since the lessons are not time consuming.  She completes one page each day.
Her favorite part of the  New American Cursive: Penmanship Program Workbook 1 was the Fun Exercises & Artwork pages.  These pages offer two lines of cursive practice including tracing and writing the letters and a large area for drawing at the bottom of the page.

In many cases tearing out the handwriting pages works best for getting a good form. I have never been one to tear pages out of a book because it means that I would have to find somewhere to store the torn out pages after completion.  Memoria Press has this problem solved.  The handwriting book is in spiral bound which makes it easier to go from page to page.  Another nice thing about the book being spiraled bound is that my daughter did not have to worry about the pages flipping or moving while she was working on her cursive writing.

Memoria Press' New American Cursive: Penmanship Program Workbook 1 worked well for my daughter.  It encouraged her to start back practicing her cursive writing.  She feels more confident writing in cursive.  The only letters that were not formed in the traditional way were the uppercase letters F, Q, and Z.  There were other letters that did not have as many loops which made forming the letters less tedious for her.  I know that this impacted her feelings of success with the program.  She is looking forward to completing the cursive program.  I am sure as she continues through this program her cursive skills will only get better.

Memoria Press Review
Crew Disclaimer

 photo signature_zpsbe3a1e09.png

©2009- 2015 A Little This... A Little That. All rights reserved. All photographs, text, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written permission of the author. http://lilthisandthat.com

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

TOS Review: Star Toaster~Orphs of the Woodlands

Star Toaster offers an adventurous story, Orphs of theWoodlands, which is brought to life by games and activities for the advanced reader.    I received a one year subscription for Orphs of the Woodland through Star Toaster.  The normal length of a subscription is 60 days.

Orphs of the Woodland is an online chapter book infused with a variety of academic skills.  The vocabulary interwoven into the story was one of the main reasons that I wanted to be a part of this particular review.  The writers of Orphs of the Woodlands use a wide range of vocabulary words to help build and strengthen the readers ‘word knowledge.  It appears that this particular program is geared towards 9 year olds and above based on the reading skills and vocabulary that is being used.
My daughter struggled with getting into this online program. The primary reason for her struggle was the amount of reading on the computer.  In general, she does not enjoy reading large amounts of text on screen. We did attempt to use the program on a tablet, but were not successful.  I thought the adventures at the end of the chapter would be enough to motivate her, but unfortunately that was not the case.   In order to really excel in the game, you must read the story or you will miss quite a few of the comprehension questions or questions related directly to the story.

The great thing about the program is that even if you skip some of the text {you will still have to go into the book, but you will just forward arrow until the end of the chapter}, the child can benefit from the other academic components.  Honestly, I wouldn’t recommend that method, but if your child is like ours I would suggest reading the story alongside him or her or motivating the child to read bite size amounts  {each chapter is about 13 pages} over the course of a few days so that the gaming side of the program can open up. 

What are these adventures and games that I keep mentioning?  Well, Orphs of the Woodlands is not only a chapter book, but it is a virtual world where orphs must be rescued and cared for by the player. 

The player earns gold stars that are used to care for the orphs by completing a variety of tasks.  The tasks include  math, vocabulary, life skills, thinking skills, and art.  The math isn’t just computations, but includes other topics such as geometry.  If your child hasn’t been exposed to some of the topics, that is okay because the program includes instructional videos taught by Professor Forp.  It is important to listen to Professor Forp the first time around because he does not repeat himself although you can go back and watch the video again.  I think the emphasis on paying attention is a nice component to the program because if your children are like mine they may have become accustomed to being able to ask for something to be explained or shown again.  We know that there will be times that you must pay attention the first time around or you will miss out.  I liked that they reinforce this skill.
One skill level that I was surprised to see was life skills.  Within the chapter book the characters share meals with one another, and Star Toaster allows us to bring these meals to life by including recipes under the life skills section. We are looking forward to creating the Greasy Gooey Goulash recipe from chapter 5 of Orphs of the Woodlands this week.

Overall, Star Toaster has done a well job creating an online reading and adventure program for the upper elementary student.  Although it did not fit perfectly into our family at this time, I would still recommend the program for a child who does not have qualms about reading long passages on a monitor and who enjoys reading fictional stories.  The games are engaging and really do build vocabulary, math, and thinking skills.

To see if Star Toaster will be a good fit for your family, head over to their site for a free trial.  It may be just the perfect summer reading activity for your child.
Star Toaster Review
Crew Disclaimer
 photo signature_zpsbe3a1e09.png

©2009- 2015 A Little This... A Little That. All rights reserved. All photographs, text, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written permission of the author. http://lilthisandthat.com

Saturday, April 11, 2015

A Lil' Weekend: Home Alone

I have spent practically the entire day at home alone. 

Impressive, right?  Well,  I did not know what to do with myself.  I couldn't relax, and constantly fought to get out of my head.

After chatting with myself and praying, I headed over to YouTube and watched a few moms share their homeschooling story.  It helped.  Hearing their stories and learning about the new things they are doing with their kiddos definitely helped place a smile on my face.

I cleaned and rearranged a few things while listening because it is hard for me to sit and watch things on a screen.   I am so not a T. V. person which is why I didn't watch the Reba DVDs that I checked out a few weeks ago.  I don't know why I have to be a special mood to watch television, but that is my truth.

I can say my spirits were lifted during this time.  I found myself baking muffins.  Did I tell you guys that I am always baking muffins?  I bake muffins at least twice a week.  Today I baked Blueberry Banana muffins.   I considered making jewelry, but I messed up which made me say, "Maybe not today."   I did take pictures of a few new pieces I created earlier in the week, though.

Well, this has been my weekend thus far.  The girls and I are now headed to church.  I am looking forward to hearing God's word.

How has your weekend been?  Do you struggle with relaxing at times? Share some of your techniques of getting out of a funk.

This post is part of the What's Your Story series created by Darcel at The Mahogany Way.

Be Blessed!
 photo signature_zpsbe3a1e09.png

©2009- 2015 A Little This... A Little That. All rights reserved. All photographs, text, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written permission of the author. http://lilthisandthat.com