Friday, March 15, 2019

Art of the Ancients REVIEW

Both my kids just love art so we were excited when we had another chance to review a homeschool art product from ARTistic Pursuits Inc.  I received a physical copy of Art of the Ancients, K-3 Vol. 2 from the K-3rd Grade Level, Volumes 1-8 series.  Each book in the series covers one semester and they span 4 years of curriculum for K-3rd grades.  It is suggested to complete 1 lesson per week.  Included with the book are both DVD and Blu-ray video instructions for 6 of the 18 art lessons.  The other 12 art lessons are text lessons with step by step instructions in the book. The book has a very nice hardcover with semi-glossy heavy duty pages (64 pages).

Both DVD and Blu-ray included

For some reason, the DVD disc did not autoplay in my laptop DVD drive, but I was able to play it just fine after opening up my media player and watching it from there.  It played on our DVD player just fine.  I really like that both formats are included.  They only contain the 6 video lessons and the other 12 lessons are in the book.  I also love that a master materials list is included at the beginning of the book.  We found this so helpful when we reviewed Art for Children, Building a Visual Vocabulary, K-3 Vol. 1. It definitely helps to prepare for the lessons ahead of time.  If you already have the materials from Vol 1 then you are ahead of the game.  The materials are easy to obtain and you will find that you have most of them already in your homeschool stash.  All other items can be easily found online or at a local art and craft store.  Each individual lesson has a list of materials (from the master list) needed for that specific project.

Materials list for all 18 lessons

Quick Guide for time periods covered in history

The lessons are set up to only take about 10 minutes of your time in teaching.  We spend a little more time talking about the lesson but the point is that it takes very little of your time.  The rest is up to the kids!  The book is well organized and has ancient history woven throughout the pages.  Some topics covered include:
  • European Cave Drawings
  • Near-Eastern Clay Works
  • Minoan Fresco Painting
  • Egyptian Murals
  • Egyptian Wall Painting
  • Near Eastern Relief
  • Greek Pillars
  • Greek Poetry
  • Etruscan Wall Painting
  • Roman Carvings
  • Roman Portrait Paintings
  • Roman Mosaics
  • Roman Early Christian Painting

Projects in Art of the Ancients, K-3 Vol. 2 include pastels, clay, and paper mosaics.  The instructions are easy to follow and the woven in history lesson in just wonderful.  The pages have nice colorful pictures that help to captivate my Kindergartner (did I say she just loves art?).  Teaching art couldn't be any easier and with the extra history lesson, you get a bonus!

Colorful pages, step by step instructions

Little Bug has her own style and can actually draw pretty good for her age, but following instructions and trying to copy a picture prove to be a little challenging for her, but she had fun!  We didn't try any of the clay lessons so that will be our next challenge (oh my!).

Having fun albeit messy with chalk pastels!

Finished product

Don't be intimidated and think you can't teach art.  With ARTistic Pursuits, you can!  We really enjoyed Art of the Ancients, K-3 Vol. 2 and can't wait to try out some of the clay projects.  We also look forward to trying out some other books in the series.  You can connect with ARTistic Pursuits Inc. on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, and INSTAGRAM.

Won't win any art contests but we had fun!

My fellow Homeschool Review Crew members all reviewed different books in the K-3rd Grade Level, Volumes 1-8 series so be sure to click the link below to see what they have to say about other books in this series. We reviewed Art for Children, Building a Visual Vocabulary, K-3 Vol. 1 last year so check that review out also.

Kindergarten to Third Grade Art following History in Chronological Order {ARTistic Pursuits Inc. Reviews}

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Thursday, March 14, 2019

It's Chick Time Again

It's that time again!  Chick days!  All you chicken lovers out there have no doubt either placed your orders for chicks, already have them or are anxiously awaiting for your hens to go broody.  I am hoping I have at least one broody hen this spring but I am still waiting.  Mine tend to brood about April/May.

I did give 25 hatching eggs to a friend who lost her flock to predators and she has started incubating them.  Can't wait to see what hatches!  I will, of course, follow up with a blog post when the time comes. Chicken eggs incubate for 21 days to hatch.  Stay tuned for updates!

Friday, March 8, 2019

Homeschool Complete REVIEW

Homeschool Complete provides all-inclusive homeschool complete curriculum and we were excited to try out their First Grade Complete curriculum.  I received a digital download of both the Teacher Manual and the Student Workbook.  The PDF file downloads were quick and easy but the books are large!  The Teacher Manual is 600 pages and the Student Workbook contains 300 pages.  Both have color in them so if you can print that much in color they are nice.  I printed the cover pages in color and plan to print most, if not all, of the pages in black and white.  I printed a week at a time just to keep it simple.

Working hard on our writing skills

Little Bug is still in Kindergarten and I had hoped to get that level but getting the First Grade Complete level was not so bad considering it is only the Semester 1 book and she is in her second semester of kindergarten and doing quite well.  We have a kindergartner reader which is a HUGE difference from my son who wasn't reading until the middle of second grade.  I have become aware that we need help with our writing as we have worked on the lessons.  Once downloaded the files are viewable and printable from the free Adobe Reader program.

She just loves math!

The Teacher Manual is very detailed and pretty much walks you through your lessons.  It includes copies of the worksheets that are in the Student Manual and includes an appendix of additional resources to use in the lessons.  I really like that it included the three pledges (The Pledge of Allegiance, The Pledge to the Christian Flag, and The Pledge to the Bible) and a list of materials needed for the different lessons.  The lessons are broken into units that include Family, Seasons, Graphing, Animals, Geometry, Safety, Measurement, American Government, My Body, Pilgrims, Manners, The Life of Jesus, Money, Benjamin Franklin, Transportation, Hibernation, U.S. Symbols, and Water.

When they say "all-inclusive" and "complete," they mean it!  The Teacher Manual is just packed with information, resources, and guidelines.  You can see from the Table of Contents what is provided and as you read through the introduction you will find the following also covered:
  • School Year Overview
  • Subject Area Content and Skills List
  • Daily Lesson Plans
  • Organization and Planning
  • Teaching Procedure
  • Calendar Skills
  • Handwriting Guidelines

Suggested school year schedule

Extensive skills list divided by subject area
It walks you through your daily lesson plans

This is really nice if you are new to teaching, it gives you sample scripts

For each unit there is a suggested list of books to read.  Each day's lesson includes a list of skills learned, materials needed, and a calendar exercise.  The rest of the lesson includes the following or a mixture depending on that day's lesson plan (not all subjects are covered every day):
  • Language Arts
  • Social Studies
  • Math
  • Bible
  • Art
  • Physical Education
The time it takes to complete a lesson depends on the day and the skills covered.  For Little Bug, it could often take an hour or so if the lesson went well.  Remember, she is in Kindergarten and even though she is reading, I read the books as read-alouds (especially since this is a first-grade curriculum).  There are 18 Units that include 72 lessons so you would need to work through a lesson a day to get through the lessons in a semester.  Since she has her other work to do and this is currently a review our plan was to work on it 3 days per week.

I like that this is literature-based and that it is so organized and easy to use.  I also appreciated that it is geared toward a Christian worldview which is important in our household.  It might not be a good fit if you have a child at different levels in different subjects, but it also works great as a supplement if that were the case.  Little Bug found it fun and engaging (who doesn't like play-doh!) so it is a pretty good fit for her (although sometimes above the level she is at).  The curriculum as written is good at covering all subjects in a variety of ways that allows different learning styles to easily gain knowledge through the lessons.  There are plenty of hands-on activities and manipulatives.

Plenty of hands-on activities

We plan to continue working on this and it is a possibility that we will use this for our curriculum next school year.  We give First Grade Complete a thumbs up and recommend that you visit their website and check out their other complete grade curriculums (grades K-4), unit studies (grades K-6), and resources.  You can even download sample lessons.

You can connect with Homeschool Complete on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM, PINTEREST, and YOUTUBE.  Be sure to also check out my fellow crew member reviews, especially since everyone reviewed different resources.

Homeschool Complete K - 4th Grade & Unit Studies {Homeschool Complete Reviews}
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Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Victus Study Skills REVIEW

I was very happy to have a chance to review the Victus Study Skills System.  There are 4 levels covering K - college and a student planner and we received physical products of all 4 levels plus the planner.  I used Level 1: Primary (K-2/3) with Little Bug who is in kindergarten and Level 3 (5/6-10/11) with Sam who is in 9th grade.  It goes without saying that my 9th grader was less than happy about it but I think he will appreciate it in future years. 

The Student Planner that is available

I really like that even though the kids are so far apart in age, we were still able to use the system together!  The books are written to be used together if needed for different age levels.  How cool is that!  It is always a big homeschool score if you can teach all age levels at once (usually why unit studies are so popular).

I used the Primary Grades with Little Bug

Victus means a way of life.  The idea behind this system is that, just like reading, the student(s) will learn skills that can be reiterated and expanded upon as they get older.  You can start at any level and gain great tools, but if your student is able to start at Level I and work through the system they will have the best understanding and skills necessary to not only study well but be organized for life in general.  I really wish I had known about this when my 9th grader was younger.  It would have helped to instill some of the concepts that I think are key for good study skills.  The skills that are taught are not only good for school but for life in general.  Victus created it to be that way. Some skills covered are goal setting, your vision for the future, your mission statement, how best to study for tests, test taking, note taking, and time management and organization using a planner.

The Victus Study Skills System has 4 main concepts:
  1. Zeal without Knowledge is not good, but zeal with knowledge bears fruit.
  2. Results come from the process.
  3. Any system with all of its components must have an aim or purpose.
  4. A unique and effective system of study has the greatest likelihood of aiding in success. (Student Workbook p. 5)
PQRST method for better study skills

The system also focuses on 3 foundational cornerstones that are reiterated throughout the lessons.  The 3 cornerstones are: Where am I now?; Where do I want to be?; and How do I get there?  There are 10 lessons that are broken down into 5 sessions.  You can complete the curriculum in about 5 hours by following the suggested schedule in the book.  One session a day for 5 days, about an hour long each, and you are done.  Our lessons generally took close to an hour to complete.  The skills learned can then be used throughout the student's school year to increase their retention of knowledge and organization skills.

Simplified Primary lesson

The Level 1: Primary (K-2/3) was a MUCH simplified version of the Level 3 (5/6-10/11) we used.  There were also only 6 lessons in the Primary workbook.  I had to work with Little Bug to fill her workbook out since she is not writing at that level yet.  I simply used oral dictation to go over her lessons with her.  You do need the Teacher Edition that explains the program and guides you through the lessons.  The Teacher Edition includes the answer keys for Level 3.  The answer keys for Level 2 are in the Elementary Teacher Supplement. There was a note in the College Student Workbook that gave the correct page numbers that correspond to the page numbers used in the Teacher Edition.

College and Elementary Workbooks
Answer Key in Teacher Edition

I think the best part was when my 9th grader completed the Learning Strength worksheet in Lesson 2 and made the connection as to why he likes to watch videos to learn.  It was his "aha" moment!  His greatest strength was vision with auditory coming in right after.  He thought it was pretty cool how that worked out. I just like the flow of the lessons and how it challenges your student to think about their future and what their goals are not just in school but in life.  I found the skills it teaches to be very useful and practical. I didn't master many of the skills taught until later in life so having my kids learn them early is a plus for me.

Learning Strength worksheet

Even though my 9th grader was less than happy with this and my Kindergartner really didn't understand everything she was learning, I know that they learned skills that will help them move forward in their studies.  I plan to continue to use this with both of them and know that with time, they will "get it."  I will also have my 9th grader use the student planner extensively next year for 10th grade.  I feel the skills presented are invaluable and highly useful at all ages.  I would recommend the Victus Study Skills System for grades 2 through college.

You can connect with Victus on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, PINTEREST, and YOUTUBE.

Please be sure to also check out what other crew members have to say about this system.  Just click on the graphic below.

K through College Study Skills {Victus Study Skills System Reviews}
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Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Chicken Math

My main coop now has 6 roosters and 34 hens

Chicken math, it's a real thing!  When I first got into chickens 5 years ago, I kept hearing about "chicken math."  Just what is it?  Well . . . it doesn't take long for most people who get into chickens to figure out what it means.  Basically, once the chicken bug hits you, you are done!  You are pulled in and there is no turning back.  But seriously, it is so easy to get addicted and you just find yourself wanting more.

This is the "green" coop with 1 rooster and 4 hens

It starts with those cute, fluffy balls of fluff.  You make the decision to get chickens.  You go to your local farm store, breeder, or hatchery catalog.  You can't resist all the cute little peeps and their splendiferous (is that even a word??) colors.  Maybe you decide you only want 4 -5 chickens or so.  Just enough for eggs for your family.  You might get lucky and actually only walk away with that many.  The challenge these days is that most of the local shops make you buy at least 6 so you aren't buying them as pets but as actual livestock.  Sometimes chicks don't make it so getting 6 probably isn't a bad idea.

The bad idea might be that you underestimated how much you would enjoy them and accidentally build or buy a house/coop that ends up being way too small way too soon.  Yes, that is where chicken math starts.  You start with your first batch and before you know it you want more.  You miss the fluffy peeps or you just decide that you want other breeds/colors.  Maybe later you even decide you must add different colors to your egg basket.  Whatever the reason, if you start chicken keeping, and like it, odds are you will end up with more than you ever thought you would. 

This is my "4H red coop" with 1 rooster and 8 hens

It is so easy to get addicted to them.  They are cute, funny, personable and just downright entertaining.  They can place a calm in you like no other.  Just go out by your coop, sit in a chair, and watch the antics begin.  There really is no better entertainment out there, except for maybe goats!!  All joking aside if you have a desire to get some chickens, do it!!  You won't regret it and I bet you won't look back and wish you didn't.  Enjoy!!  And don't say I didn't warn you.

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