Monday, April 20, 2015

Artistic Pursuits {A schoolhouse review}


We were lucky enough to be chosen to review Elementary 4-5, Book 1: The Elements of Art and Composition from ARTistic Pursuits.



About The Company:

Artistic Pursuits is a homeschool art curriculum company who has been around since 1999.  They produce art curriculum for Preschool to High school.  Their art curriculum is written for homeschool or independent study. They are made for novice and experienced artists alike. You learn by capturing your interests as you work from direct observation and personal preferences. A range of activity books is offered, from focusing on drawing, art and composition, art history, art appreciation, color theory and composition. They also have sculpture specific books; construct, model and coming soon, carve.

About The Product:

We have been working out of the Elementary 4-5 Book One The Elements of Art and Composition. Written by Brenda Ellis, this book of 68 lessons divided up over 16 units is in it’s 3rd edition. $47.95.

4-51 p9 72

This book is for ages 9 and up. The child is never told what to draw.  They pick their own item to draw while focusing on the concepts taught.


Students learn art by:

  1. Learning to observe the world around them- to really see it.
  2. Learning what to look for.
  3. Learning to focus on one element of art at a time, while drawing, and block out the others.

Each unit is divided up into 5 pages or lessons.

The first page of each unit focuses on building a visual vocabulary by showing students which topic to focus on, explained in words and pictures. One of our favorite things have been reading the stories in the first lessons. Students create a work of art from their observations and ideas.

The second & third page of each unit focuses on American Art and appreciation and history by showing students how the topic is used in master works. They learn about artists and the times they lived in. Students create a work of art from their observations and ideas.

The fourth page of each unit focuses on Technique.  Students learn how to use the materials and tools of art.  They again create an original work of art using what they have learned.

The fifth page of each unit is Application. Here is where you create a final project of each unit, using what you have learned so far.

Students are encouraged to spend upwards of an hour on each class or lesson. The reading/ learning part only took us about 10 minutes.  The drawing we spent anywhere from 10 minutes to 45 minutes on.  To make this curriculum last a full school year it is recommended to do two one hour uninterrupted classes per week.

A day/week in our life:

We used this curriculum as more of a family style curriculum.  Even though it is geared for 4th and 5th graders to do on their own.  My 4th grader, 8th grader, 10th grader and I all worked on it together.  We would all gather in the afternoons with our art supplies (see the list above).  One of us would read the days lesson and then we would just work on it quietly. One time we all drew the same things, after that we all always chose our own things to draw. This made art time very relaxing for all of us. We would all show each other our pictures, with no judgment, which we discussed at the beginning of starting this curriculum.

Our thoughts and feelings:

We all really enjoyed this curriculum and while I have used the higher levels before with my older children I still found it very easy to do as a family. I like how we did NOT all do the same project/ drawing each time.  We loved how it was open to our own interpretation.  This left no comparing each others drawings and no competition as to who’s is the best.  I was thankful that the curriculum, while written for individuals was able to be used in a family setting.

ARTistic Pursuits can be found on social media here:



To see what others think of this check out this post. To see a wide variety of reviews check out our crew blog.

 Review Crew

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Memoria Press: New American Cursive. {A Review}

I have a confession to make. I haven’t taught my 4th grader cursive yet. (until now)

When I saw New American Cursive:  Penmanship Program Workbook 1 by Memoria Press come up for review, I knew I needed to put in for it.

About The Company:

Memoria Press is a family run Classical Christian Education materials publisher. Don’t let the family run fool you though.  This is no small company.  They produce a wide range of curriculum for all grades Junior Kindergarten up to grade 12.  They have full curriculum sets or you can pick and choose individual subjects or books.

About The Product:

I was able to use their New American Cursive: Penmanship program workbook 1 ($22.95) with my 10 year old daughter, who remember, had absolutely no cursive experience. NONE!

Now my excuses for not teaching her cursive yet are:

  • She hates writing, even a sentence.
  • She is left handed, and I am right handed.
  • I know how to read and write cursive, but I had no idea what I was doing.
  • She didn’t start reading real well until this year.
  • I am pretty sure she has dyslexia.

This workbook, took all that away from me.  Once I first got the 114 page book, I was not scared anymore.  I knew she could do it. 

This book was written to be able to use it to teach cursive to first graders. It goes through the whys and teaching cursive throughout history.  Usually in the US cursive is taught in 3rd grade and many schools are trying to do away with it for good. 

I totally procrastinated teaching cursive to my 10 year old, because of my list above.  This book actually told me that typically dyslexic kids learn cursive easier than they learn print.  That is because there is less letter reversals. 

The 3 page teaching guide will tell you everything you need to know, from proper posture to pencil grip, to paper placement, to how to use this book.

This book has Mr. Meerkat who helps you write cursive and is there in the book to tell your child what to do. He begins by showing the proper pencil holding position for both right and LEFT HANDERS!  (Whoop whoop!) Then he shows them the correct paper placement for both right and LEFT HANDERS! (Whoop whoop!) Next begins the real writing, he goes over some simple lines used in cursive and then your child practices writing those lines. After that, right into the letter writing you will go. Each letter has an instruction page.  My daughters favorite thing is that it has you,

  1. Say the letter
  2. Feel the letter
  3. Write the letter.

Mr. Meerkat has your child circle the best letter and then you move on. The next page has fun exercises and artwork. These fun exercises include writing and joining letters and a review of previously learned letters.

At the bottom of every few pages it has reminders about pencil position or paper placement for both right and LEFT HANDERS! (Whoop whoop!)

A day/week in our life:

Honestly after going through a few things with my daughter the first day, she has just taken off.  She needs no help from me.  She does a letter a day at the most.  Usually she just does a page a day.  This has needed very little involvement from me.  I have her show me every day after she has done it and choose her best writing.  She is very proud of it.  

Our thoughts and feelings:

I am grateful that this program includes both right and left handers throughout their curriculum, in case you couldn’t tell. I think that was my biggest fear of it all.  I am surprised at how quickly she has been able to learn cursive too.  She is enjoying learning cursive too.  It makes her feel more grown up.

Memoria Press can be found on social media here:


To see what others think of this check out this post. To see a wide variety of reviews check out our crew blog.

 Review Crew

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Seriously, why can’t I….


The struggle is real people. 

I am not a morning person.  I want to be.  I am trying my darndest to be.  I just can’t get up when my alarm goes off.  It doesn’t matter when I set it.  It can be at 6 am or at 9 am.  I just feel the need to fall back asleep after shutting it off.  It doesn’t matter whether I get 6 hours or 11 hours of sleep.

I recently read a book, The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod.  I realize that I can change my life and create more for myself and my family if I follow his morning routine suggestion.  There are 6 things, he calls them SAVERS.

S = Silence

A = Affirmation

V = Visualization

E = Exercise

R = Reading

S = Scribe (writing)

I have woken up and done these things a few mornings and my days were great, much more productive.  I also felt really great about myself. I was so proud. 

It lasted for 3 days.

I have tried and tried for 2 months to get back on and complete my 30 day goal of doing The Miracle Morning routine.  I have struggled.

As I sit here at 1:30am writing this blog post, I realize that it probably has to do with my bedtime routine.  So for the next little while I am going to focus my time more on having a proper bed time routine for myself and my kids.  We need a set bedtime and routine at night.  I hate being a slave to a schedule though.  That has never been who I am. I will need flexibility and realistic according to our lifestyle.

I am hoping this is a great change for me.  I am hoping we can all embrace it.  I know we are going to start slow with baby steps.  I know we will get a rhythm and routine going.

I can’t wait!!

Disclaimer: There are affiliate links in my posts. There are also freebies. There are also just links to products without affiliate links. I'm trying to show what we did and where you can find it, not to sell you a product...although if you decide to buy one of them, please feel free to use the links and support a fellow homeschooler.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Updates, Updates and more updates.


Our lives have changed so incredibly much over the past year and even more so over the past month.

We have been living in a whirlwind that I’m not sure I see slowing down real soon.

We made a very quick, but educated decision for my husband to take a new job.  He was on the drilling side of the oilfield.  He moved rigs from location to location.  As gas prices dropped people stopped drilling.  He began to just stack out (move rigs into storage) rigs.  Then we began to look at other jobs in other towns.  The small town we lived in is an oilfield town, boom and bust.  We knew that moving there, which is why we always rented instead of buying a house.  We were in the perfect position when my husband got offered a job to haul crude, to just pack up our family and move.  So that is what we did.  We really feel like we did this at the right time.  The move was hard on all of us.  We loved where we lived, we loved the people around us, we loved our friends.  We have lived in our new house about 2 1/2 weeks.  We are meeting friends here, and getting settled in. 

Tommy driving

The first week we were here, Tommy got his learners permit.  We seriously went from small town living to big city living and I am struggling with the traffic myself, let alone letting my kid drive in it.  We are both making progress and it isn’t as bad as I had imagined.

family bowling

Once a month out here the homeschoolers get together and go to a funplex center.  We decided to go we could all use a fun day out anyways.  We did not meet any other homeschoolers that day.  It was Spring Break for the PS kids and we didn’t know who was a homeschooler and who was a PS.  It was fine and we all had a ton of fun.

Alyson 10K Lagoon

The second week here I ran my first 10K.  I came in at 1:11.  I am pretty proud of that. The furthest I had ran before that was 5 miles and a 10K is 6.2 miles.  There was also a giant mountain to climb.  It was huge and I did have to walk up it and down it.

Alyson in RE School

I finally got a date night with my husband.  Since moving he has been in training and then working every day.  He took some days of to spend with the family and one of those we went out on a date.  I had registered for Real Estate School shortly after we moved here.  HUGE STEP FOR ME!   I just hadn’t gone and picked up my textbook yet.  We decided to go out and pick it up and then we went to the mall!  Trust me, I am just as shocked as you. We have never gone to the mall on a date in our over 11 years of marriage or dating.  We went shopping and then went to eat at what is now our favorite restaurant.  It was a great night.  And to think, I tried to get out of going because I was tired.

I am enjoying this new life more that I had thought I would.  We are finally getting into somewhat of a school routine.  We are up to 5 subjects a day, most days only getting 3 done.  But we are working on it.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Thick as Thieves -A Circle C, Andrea Carter book. {Review}


Circle C Milestones is a book series written by Susan K. Marlow. 

Thick as Thieves is the first book is in the Circle C Milestones series which is the 3rd Andrea Carter series.

All of the series are based in the late 1800’s in California and are as far as I can tell, historically accurate.

Circle C Beginnings is for ages 6-9, in these books Andi is about 8 or so and dreams of owning a horse. This set of books is based in 1874. A few years ago my girls read this entire series of 6 books and loved it.

Circle C Adventures is for ages 9-14, in this set Andi is about 12 and is based in the 1880’s.  We haven’t read any of these, yet.

Circle C Milestones is for ages 12 and up, in this set Andi is 14 and deals with some drama as far as friends, and raising horses. 

Thick as Thieves is about Andrea’s (Andi’s) life on the Circle C Ranch. She is still raising her horse, Taffy, whom is foaling.  Taffy is the horse she received in the very first set of Andi Carter books.  Andrea is in school even though she would rather be spending time with her horse and the foal. To make matters worse she is assigned to be seatmates with a girl who Andrea doesn’t get along with. Then when the cattle rustlers come to town and target the Circle C Ranch, Andrea doesn’t have anyone else to turn to but her new seatmate.  Will she help her and even more important, can she trust her? 

The theme of Thick as Thieves is FRIENDSHIP!

One really neat thing besides the great storyline and writing behind all three of these progressive series’ is that Susan K. Marlow includes free study guides with all of these books.

These study guides are age/ developmentally appropriate and match the levels that the corresponding books are written for. 

The study guide for Thick as Thieves has 6 lessons that are chapter based.  Each lesson covers approximately 3 chapters. However you can use the study guide as you go, or read the entire book and then go through the study guide after.

The study guide includes things like vocabulary, fill in the blank, multiple choice, crossword puzzles, science (about foaling and lice!), math (Are you smarter than an 1880’s 8th grader?), writing, venn diagraming, history (about cattle rustling, dime novels)  and so much more.

A day/week in our life:

We decided to read the entire book and then do the FREE activity guide.  By the time we got to the activity guide my girls were not really interested.  They already knew how the story ended and were not interested in the activities. It would have worked better for me if we did the chapters and study guide intertwined.  They would have had more interest to do the worksheets in order to move on to the next read.  I just wasn’t able to motivate them enough.

Our thoughts and feelings:

I am a huge Susan K. Marlow Fan.  My kids have loved many of her books.  We even have some from her Goldtown Adventures series (for boys).  Her books have always delivered.  The work she puts into the study guides is nothing less than amazing.  The Thick as Thieves book and study guide held up to the very high standards that we already had Susan K. Marlow set at.

Circle C Adventures can be found on social media here:

To see what others think of this check out this post. To see a wide variety of reviews check out our crew blog.

 Review Crew

Friday, March 27, 2015

HomeSchool Office by Lord Heritage {A Schoolhouse Crew Review}

About The Company:

Lord Heritage is a company that was founded by a mother daughter duo.  Jennifer is a homeschooling mom who ran a small business out of her home and Joyce is a retired business professional.  They came together with a common goal; to help prepare the next generation in spiritual truth and in the heritage of the Lord Jesus through education. 
Identifying the Christian homeschool movement as God's Spirit speaking to the hearts of other parents, Lord Heritage focuses on supporting homeschooling families for the same calling.


About The Product:

They are supporting homeschooling families by creating a web based program, HomeSchool Office.  HomeSchool Office is designed to give you the framework to be able to organize home and school all in one.  This is designed for the homeschool family by a homeschooling family.


They come with a strategy they call POWER.






The Plan:

  • Plan subject goals and objectives
  • Build a master schedule
  • Setup lessons
  • Create projects for home or groups
  • Lay out your school budget

The Order:

  • Schedule lessons
  • Integrate home & school activities
  • Setup important reminders
  • Create customized lists

The Work:

  • Provide student access
  • View/print individual schedules
  • Follow daily lessons
  • Manage to do lists

To Evaluate:

  • Manage requirement for state compliance
  • Oversee daily attendance
  • Track hours per subject
  • Maintain grading per subject

The Report:

  • Comply with state regulations
  • Customize reports
  • Generate transcripts


HomeSchool Office allows you to track multiple students, grades, subjects, extra curricular activities, co-ops, tutors, private lessons such as music or tennis, etc.

They do this all while remaining flexible.  If you have a sick day you can “bump” a day and all your lessons will shift.  If you are working ahead or on the weekend or something, you can also everything forward by one day. 

You can copy subjects by child, so after you have entered one child’s math and you want to use that for the next child the next year, then you just copy it over and you don’t have to re-enter it.

With HomeSchool Office being web based it is accessible from any device with a browser, including your iPhone, iPad or android device


Our thoughts and feelings:

There is definitely a learning curve entailed in learning this program.  It goes deep and is very detail oriented, which is perfect for someone like me.  This was difficult to set up for me as I was very limited on time.  I had a short notice surprise move thrown on me of over 200 miles. I am very grateful for what I did have set up though, because it made it easy to bump complete days or even just subjects that we were not able to complete on a particular day.  I truly wished that I had more time to work with the program. I feel like I didn’t have the time to truly learn it and play with it before implementing it. 

I found after all the time it took to learn it, I didn’t want the detail for my younger children.  However for my high schooler and soon to be high schooler the transcript option and details were wonderful.  I loved the feature of sending messages to my “team” (my older students) and having them reply.  This was a neat feature that I have never seen before on any planning software.


HomeSchool Office offers a free 30 day trial which is worth checking out.  After that it is $79 per year.

To see what others think of this check out this post. To see a wide variety of reviews check out our crew blog.

 Review Crew

Friday, March 20, 2015

GPA Love Math

GPA LEARN has a cool all online math program for kids Kindergarten to grade 5.  This program is known as GPALOVEMATH.

GPALOVEMATH is streaming, so it is available on our computers or iPads and that has proven to be quite convenient. 

I have used this with my Kindergarten age son who is very computer literate.

Each level has 150 lessons. Completing 4-5 lessons a week will have your child finishing a grade every 10 months. 

The format of GPALOVEMATH is:

Learn – Engage – Motivate.

They learn by using the instruction portion. (see below)

They are engaged with the parents.  Each lesson that is completed the parent will receive an email showing what topics were covered and discussion points you can use to engage with your child.

They are motivated by GPA Learn’s unique reward system. The students earn points for completing lessons.  These points can be used for all kinds of things.  Some our company sponsored, like a Toys R Us e gift card and others are parent sponsored like staying up late.

There are also automatic rewards that the child gets after completing so many lessons.  The parent customizes and picks these rewards.  There is a giant list to choose from or you can just create your own.  My son loved this part!  He loved simple rewards like “Mom does one of your chores” or “You get to choose what is for dinner” 

by using

Instuction - Practice – Quiz

The instruction portion is where you work alongside an animated coach to learn and solve problems.

The practice portion is where you follow along with your animated coach to solve practice problems.

The Quiz portion is where you answer the questions on your own and evaluate how well you know the skills.

A day/week in our life:

Tyler began by logging into this math program and just starting at the beginning. He used the Kindergarten level.  He would just work at the beginning of the program and work his way through the lessons in order.  Since we are halfway through our school year he had already learned many of the things.  He did not enjoy sitting through them.  I decided to let him just quiz out of all the things he had already learned.  He was quizzing out of 3-5 lessons per day.  Once he got to where he needed to learn things we stopped doing that and he had to sit through the videos.  Each lesson has a pre-requisite that needs to be done before it will unlock.  There is a way around this by choosing to do the lessons under the Kindergarten topics section.  We chose to keep doing them in the suggested order.

The videos were funny and engaging.  He had to push the arrow every few seconds to turn the page.  This kept him paying attention.  

He really enjoys this math and I have decided to keep it as his primary math for the rest of the year.

Find GPA Learn on social media here:

To see what others think of this check out this post. To see a wide variety of reviews check out our crew blog.

 Review Crew


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