Thursday, May 12, 2016

Counting My Homeschool Blessings

This year God has really showed me that my freedom to homeschool my kiddos is a blessing in its self.  I am aware that there are so many families that would love to homeschool, and because of life circumstances, simply cannot. That being said, for me to narrow down just one blessing would be impossible! Instead, I would like to share with you my top 3 biggest homeschool blessings from this year!

1.  My Hubby!!!

This man, right here, is the reason that I am able to be home with my children. He works so hard to support us. His support is not just financially, he is my rock on tough days, my cheerleader, and my best friend. I could not do what I do without him! 

2. The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew

The Crew has been a dream of mine for over 7 years! This year I have had the honor of being a part of it. I cannot stress enough how much this has blessed our family. We have been given the opportunity to use and review so many great products! My kiddos have had a broader range of lessons and a more rounded education because of these products. I have a support system of ladies (and Tim) that pray with me, encourage me, and are simply there to answer questions when I need them. 

3. Dyslexia Games, The Thinking Tree, and Sarah!

In November, when we learned about Popper's dyslexia, I was so at a loss. I didn't where to turn or what to do. A friend introduced me to Dyslexia Games. Through a series of events I was given the opportunity to review Series A. I cannot explain to you how much of a blessing this has been in our lives. Popper now reads for fun and on level! 
Then, I was introduced to Sarah Janisse Brown through her book "Life, Love, & Dyslexia." It reminded me why I began homeschooling to begin with. I longed for my children to love learning. It renewed my drive to make learning fun in our home again. 
Thinking Tree journals have done just that. They allow Popper to choose some of the subjects that we learn about. Mom School and the wonderful support group of ladies that we have, on social media, has literally changed the way I educate my children! 
There is peace in my home again. We enjoy each other and learning together.  I am learning as much with them and from them than I ever dreamed possible! We play together more! I needed to be reminded that my kiddos were still very young and play is very important. 

These are just a 3 of the many blessings that homeschooling has brought into my life! I get to do this! Sure there are hard days, but it is so worth it! I cherish these years, knowing that they will be gone all too soon. What better way, than to count my blessings!

Read other Crew member's posts about their biggest blessings by clicking the link below: (goes live May 13, 2016)

Our Biggest Homeschool Blessing is

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

ARTistic Pursuits Inc. A TOS Review

 The kiddos and I have really been enjoying ARTistic Pursuits Inc.'s K-3 Book 1. As I may have mentioned before, I am art illiterate! I can draw stick people and that is about all. However, Daddy T has so lovingly passed on his love of art and artistic talent to our crunchy kiddos! 
When I was given the chance to review Artistic Pursuits, I knew this would help me be able to actually teach the kiddos art. We received K-3 Book 1.

When I saw all the different mediums that the kiddos were going to get to use, I got excited. I made a list of the ones that we didn't already have and off to Hobby Lobby I went. I bought the materials needed to complete through lesson 14. I knew that would require me to make another trip in the future, but I wanted each of the kiddos to have their very own brushes and pencils so my 1st trip cost me a little more than I had anticipated! 

We had never even heard of watercolor crayons. Imagine my surprise at how much we all loved them! The kiddos were excited to try a new medium. They created some really great masterpieces using their new found love. Of course, Daddy T jumped right in with them. He never passes on a chance to create!

Here is a sample of their watercolor artwork:

This book is split into 3 different groups: What Artists Do, What Artists See, and Where We Find Art. 
We started on the What Artists Do group of lessons. We chose to complete our lessons 2 days per week. Each lesson started with a statement about what artists do: compose, imagine, look, etc. Then there was a famous painting that the kiddos were able to  look at and learn about that went along with the statement.We would work through this on Tuesdays. Then on Thursdays the kiddos had a project to complete that helped them put the above statement into practice. 
For example, below we were taught that artists look. This challenged the kiddos to look for things that they could draw. I paired it with a nature walk. I thought it was a great time for them to be aware and really look around them. They collected some treasures on our walk. I chose to let them complete this project once we got home so that our treasures didn't get wilted on us. 
Their project was to sketch what they had seen and collected on our walk.
I think they did a pretty good job:

This book has been helpful in allowing me to teach our kiddos art. I am able to teach them to appreciate beautiful paintings and let them use new mediums to create their own! Daddy T is really looking forward to the projects using clay! He has been begging me to let them skip ahead to Lesson 23 to begin. I think we have all really enjoyed learning art together. I know that I have enjoyed how easy it is to teach them art as I learn along side them!

You can find ARTistic Pursuits on Facebook.

You can find more reviews about different levels by the Crew by clicking below:

ARTistic Pursuits Inc. Review

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Zeezok Music Appreciation: Mozart A TOS Review

Classical music is a must in our household! We listen to it almost daily while coloring and playing. We enjoy hearing new artists and discussing the music. Naturally, when given the chance to try out Music Appreciation: Book 1 for the Elementary Grades by Zeezok Publishing LLC , we jumped at the opportunity! This is a complete music appreciation program. There are some beginnings of music theory as well. 

I was shocked the day we received our package in the mail! This was way more than I expected it to be! We received:

7 composer books: These books cover Schubert, Mozart, Paganini, Haydn, Bach, Handel, and Beethoven. Each book has the history of the composer that it highlights. They are written as a story to help keep the kids entertained as well as educated about the particular composer.

Music CDs: This included 5 CDs that had music from all 7 composers on it, plus 35 additional recorded pieces, explanations and demonstrations of instruments in an orchestra.

A Lapbook Cd:This disc is filled with resources that you can print out to create lapbooks on each of the 7 composers.

A Student Activity Book: This book has a section for each composer and takes the learning to a new level by including lessons on geography, character qualities, comprehension, and music theory. As well as, fun activities and puzzles to engage the child in learning.

According to the information in the front of the Student Activity Book, this is a 2 year program when you complete all the different composers. They suggest a 4 week timeline for each composer. However, they do add that you can adjust that timeline to fit your child's needs and schedule. Because 2 of my children are a little younger than most, we went a little slower. I wanted them to enjoy the story times and activities as well as really become familiar with the different pieces written by the composer that we are studying. For Popper and older students, I think that their 4 week timeline would be perfect! 

Popper begged to start with Mozart. We had checked out a CD with his music on it from the library a while back and the kiddos fell in love.

The stories about the composers are written so well. The kiddos loved hearing how Mozart grew-up. They couldn't believe that he was composing at only 5! Brother Bear, who is 5 now, said he could never write music like Mozart. I assured him that he could do anything that he put his mind to!

Brother Bear and Sister have a harder time sitting still during read alouds. I decided to allow them to draw and paint during this time. I loved that they drew what they were hearing. All 3 kiddos made their pictures of Mozart from different points in his story! 

I used the Student Activity Book with Popper. I asked him the review questions out loud and we answered them together. His favorite were the word searches and puzzles. I enjoyed reading and teaching the different character qualities that were present in Mozart. With my boys both being dyslexic, I was able to stress the creative part of Mozart's personality. and that through hard work and practice you can do anything.  
We also really enjoyed identifying the different countries, that Mozart visited during his tours, on our big map.  The kiddos were amazed that he was able to travel so much and so far from home as a child.

This is the very first time that Popper and I got to do a lapbook together. We had a great time. I loved that there was a timeline available. It helped us to really see how young he was when all his composing started. Popper liked learning all the different music vocabulary. He has been asking about taking music classes to learn to play the guitar. I think this was a great place to begin!

Of course, a favorite to us all, was the CD filled with music from all the different composers. We were shocked to hear some very familiar melodies, like 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star', were written by Mozart! 
Upon learning that Mozart met and passed on a chance to teach Beethoven, the kiddos informed me that Beethoven is the next composer that they want to study!

I love that the kiddos enjoy the classical music and learning about the different composers. This is such an inclusive set. We really learned every subject through these books and CDs,: character studies, geography, music theory, vocabulary, and timelines of history.  I can't wait to get started on the next composer. 

You can find Zeezok on social media:



You can find more reviews from the other Crew members:

Music Appreciation for the Elementary Grades {Zeezok Publishing LLC Review}