Reviews

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

It's official....I'm a college girl!

 
For some unknown reason, this line was the first thought that went through my mind as I read the letter.......
 
Dear Marla,
  Congratulations!  You have been admitted to Jefferson State Community College pending receipt of all required documentation.
 
Why am I not freaking out?  Why am I not worried about educating the children AND myself at the same time?  What about Operation Christmas Child?  Why does all of this seem so easy?  Grace.  God's grace.  That accompanied by the fact that I still, after all of these years, love learning.  But, let's get back to the God part....
 
Sometimes, and this may sound silly to you, I feel God tell me to be an example to my kids.  I know!  Crazy, right?  How can this apply to returning to college after 17 years?  Well- we are struggling with a bout of under-achieving at Cainberly Academy.  My children are capable of WAY more than they are producing currently.  A lack of discipline on all of our parts has lead to some poor work habits and an all around sense of "get-by-it-ness". (Ya like that one?  Totally just made that one up!)  So, what is a mom to do?  Lead by example.  I have 15 hours required to fulfill the 6 I need for my AA degree.  Time to show these kiddos what it means to study, take pride in your work, and do your very best!  And to FOLLOW THROUGH to the end- that may be the biggest lesson.
 
So, for the next year, if you need me, I'll have my nose in a book.......of some sort........
 

Friday, June 14, 2013

TOS Review: Birdcage Press- Go Fish for Impressionist Artists Cards

If you have never checked out Birdcage Press, my Friend you need to go look! 

Our final review is for their Go Fish for Impressionist Artists cards!  They are a beautiful set of 36 playing cards which feature works of art from eight Impressionists such as Monet, Pissarro, and Cassatt.  They are stunning in and of themselves, but they also come with a 28 page fact book that highlights each artists and gives pertinent information on their lives and times.  The card series is intended for ages 7 and up and is only $11.95.

Go Fish - Impressionist Artists photo birdcage-gofishforimpressionistartists_zpsacca0576.jpg

Aren't they lovely?  I would go as far as to say one of my favorite review items!  And let me just tell ya, Birdcage Press has a WIDE variety of card topics which have racked up at least 19 different parenting and product awards!  Topic categories include Art, History, Nature and Wildlife, and Air and Space.  While I LOVE the cards, make sure to check out their games and books as well.

So, the Cain kids had to endure a few hours of Momma working in the church library.  I packed some games and the Go Fish cards and hoped for the best.  After working for about an hour, I checked in on the kids and found them playing 'memory' in the floor with the cards!  They said they had  used the fact book to get more ideas for playing with the cards after they had played 'go fish' for a bit! I was thrilled!  We had recently studied Impressionism and I was pleased to see that the children recognized many of the works and the artists on the cards!  Abby loved the Degas and Cassatt cards the most, and her most favorite was the card pictured above- "Breakfast in Bed" by Mary Cassatt.  We've pulled them out many times to play......or even just to admire.

I highly recommend these great visuals if you are hoping to teach your children fine art, and the Crew reviewed the following Birdcage Press products as well:

Art Ditto (http://www.birdcagepress.com/Art-Ditto-p/220.htm)

Art Close Up: Museum of Modern Art (http://www.birdcagepress.com/Art-Close-Up-Museum-of-Modern-Art-p/208.htm)

Go Fish for Ancient Egypt (http://www.birdcagepress.com/Go-Fish-for-Ancient-Egypt-p/270.htm)

Wild Cards: Baby Animals Around the World (http://www.birdcagepress.com/Wild-Cards-Baby-Animals-p/313.htm)

Wild Cards: Backyard Birds (http://www.birdcagepress.com/Wild-Cards-Backyard-Birds-p/314.htm)

Click to read Crew Reviews

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Excited for Change?!

Did you notice that came with a question mark AND an exclamation point?  Subtle, yet says so very much.

I'm not the kind of person that really likes change- but sometimes you're just ready for it and the cleansing momentary pain it brings.  Lots of change going on around here- so much that I'm not really sure where to start...kids?me?blog?  Guess I'll start at the beginning!

The kids are constantly changing and let's face it, there's nothing to be done about it.  I would love to keep them sweet and four with their tiny voices and gargantuous amount of wonder, but their eight and eleven and they have relevant opinions and deep thoughts and I fall in love with them more and more every day. (Then there's days I consider the padlock on the bedroom door- but the good FAR outweigh the bad!)  This homeschooling journey has taught me one lesson very clearly and that is that change is inevitable, and I can't trap my children in one single learning box.  Some years we've done private school in a neighbors beautiful basement schoolroom(2nd and 3rd for Abby), some years I've had Ben to myself, some years we've stayed home and schooled on our own, and some years we've co-opped.  I have to continuously pray and ask for guidance from the One who designed them so that I may better understand how to teach them academically.  Every summer is a time of reflection and decision-making.

Me?  Well I find that change is inevitable for myself as well.  I have recently enrolled in a local community college in an effort to complete that nagging degree that I only have one class left to finish- which I began over 20 years ago.  Why, you may ask, has she waited so long when she has so little left?  Because, I would answer, no college will let you take one class to graduate- they usually require 12-18..... and I just haven't had the time for that.  I'm not sure what this little college trek might look like.  A class here, a class there- online or in a classroom with my kids doing their schoolwork in the hallway?  Hey, dual enrollment! ;o)  I just got a word of encouragement from Andy and felt like it was time to pursue it.  Cross your fingers for me and we'll see what happens!

Now, about the blog.

Do you folks know how much I enjoy writing?  I used to.  And I'd like to get back to writing about our lives and homeschooling and crafting and the Lord and the bajillions of other things that we love, so I'm giving up reviewing for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.  It just became too much and dominated Sincerely Home.  I will still post reviews now and then independently, and I encourage you to continue discovering the awesome things the Crew is finding over at the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  By tomorrow afternoon I will post my last review on behalf of the Crew.  I am so grateful for the opportunity they have given me to not only try various homeschooling products and build my knowledge base, but also share those products with fellow homeschoolers who may be trying to wrap their head around the world of curriculum as well.  It's been a true blessing.

So, there you have it!  Enough change for one day?  Are you going through a period of change in your home/family/life as well?  I found great encouragement this morning in what Moses told the Israelites when speaking of obedience.....
Deuteronomy 4:7-10
      "For what great nation is there that has God so near to it, as the Lord our God is to us, for whatever reasons we may call upon Him?  And what great nation is there that has such statutes and righteous judgments as are in all this law which I set before you this day?  Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life.  And teach them to your children and your grandchildren, especially concerning the day you stood before the Lord your God in Horeb, when the Lord said to me 'Gather the people to Me, and I will let them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.'"

Monday, June 10, 2013

TOS Review: Motherboard Books

 Sometimes......you just need to try something new.  When we were offered the opportunity to review Let's Make a Web Page, an e-book by Phyllis Wheeler for Motherboard Books, I was a bit apprehensive.  This would seriously be delving into the unknown for us- but it's geared for ages 8-12 so I figured it would be awesome to give the kids the chance to try something totally new.

I sat down with Abby and we read thru the opening of the e-book and got started.  I'm going to disclose, at this point, that computer action is my son's forte.....but that's kinda why I chose to do it with Abby.  I wanted to really put this product to the test because, honestly, I'm a total blank at the computer/techno thing and if me and Abs can pull it off- it's gotta be good stuff! :O)

First let me just say that Ms. Wheeler gives very clear instructions.  Not only does she give clear instructions, but she also provides screen shots of what you encounter along the way.  I LOVE THAT!  The lessons (10) are broken down into very manageable pieces with a reminder to save at the end of each- which tickled me until I realized that is truly a valuable piece of information to a computer newbie!  Below is the Table of Contents so you can see how thorough the e-book is:

Table of Contents

Introduction for Parents.......................................................................4
Lesson 1: An Interview.........................................................................5
Lesson 2: Download and Set Up the Program....................................7
Lesson 3: Add Text..............................................................................22
Lesson 4: Add Photo...........................................................................27
Lesson 6: From the Internet, Add Animations.................................30
Lesson 7: Browser Check, Backgrounds, Photos.............................35
Lesson 8: Sound...................................................................................46
Lesson 9: Links....................................................................................51
Lesson 10: Post Your Work...............................................................55
Appendix A: How to Upload to the Internet....................................58
Appendix B: Troubleshooting............................................................60


Here is a screen shot of the page that Abby made.  The lessons actually asked her to add more (for the sake of learning) but Abby felt it made it too cluttered so she asked if we could leave it.  The act of adding elements send the kids to Google to do some internet searching and I appreciated that Ms. Wheeler was cautious and asked that parents accompany their children to find their elements.


 Let's Make a Web Page retails for $19.95.  Please feel free to check out other reviews of this product and Logo Adventures by Motherboard Books.....

Click to read Crew Reviews

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

TOS Review: See the Light Art Curriculum

My kids LOVE art.  I know what you're thinking.......

"All kids LOVE art class, Marla!"  And you're right- but my kids REALLY love art.

We just had the opportunity to review See the Light video-based art curriculum.  I loved this review because I actually sat down and participated with the kids!  We chose their project DVD inspired by Louis Comfort Tiffany entitled "Tiffany Window".

Pat Knepley was the instructor and I just thought she was fabulous!  Not only did she share history of Tiffany style glass, but also of Mr. Tiffany himself!  The video was broken down into 4 segments which included:

1. Plan Your Composition

Sketch flower, leaves, stems (21 minutes)

2. Rule of Thirds

Complete sketch (24 minutes)

3. Color Theory

Marker Techniques on flower, stem and background shapes (29 minutes)

4. Complete Masterpiece

The stained glass window effect (28 minutes)

 

As you can see, the lessons were brief, but thorough, and geared toward children aged 5-18.  They kept my children's interest and I would definitely say that they imparted a great amount of technique and knowledge.  Here are samples of our work through various stages:

 
So here's what I think was the greatest part of the art lesson......when Pat took out her bible and proceeded to pull it all together using scripture!  Art AND a bible lesson!  Fabulous!  If you'd like to check out some free samples, try their freeviews on their website.  They have a plethora of projects and classes on DVD at $14.99 a piece. (Sets are available at $99.99 and so are many other resources.)  I had all of the supplies on-hand.
 
If teaching art intimidates you, I would definitely recommend See the Light's products.  Check out the Crew's reviews on the many other resources.
 
Click to read Crew Reviews