Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Homeschool Review Crew: Creating a Masterpiece Review

Art is one of those subjects that always seems to slip through the cracks, no matter my good intentions. Thanks to the Monthly Plan from Creating a Masterpiece, we have been able to incorporate creating beautiful art into our weekly lessons with ease.

Creating a Masterpiece

Created by Sharon Hofer, Creating a Masterpiece is an online program that uses video instruction to teach children technique that will equip them to produce excellent results. The lessons give step-by-step instruction, enabling students to create masterpieces they can be proud of.

There are six levels, ranging from Beginner to Level 5, and an Art In History level.

  • The Beginner level is designed for ages four and up, and the projects can be completed in an average of forty-five minutes to an hour. These lessons contain fun, introductory instruction using a variety of media including water color, charcoal, oil pastel, and more.

  • Levels 1-5 progress through more advanced projects. The projects are divided up over three to seven lessons that take an average of forty-five minutes to an hour and a half to complete. Each level builds on previously learned skills, while adding new techniques and medium to explore. Some mediums used include acrylic painting, sculpture, silk dying, ink, and more.

  • Art In History teaches students how to create projects from different time periods. These projects have different levels of difficulty. Some can be completed by 6-9 year olds, older students will be able to complete them all.

In addition to the video instruction, each lesson includes a downloadable PDF supply list, a link to purchase supplies online, helpful tips, and a high resolution image of the project.


Our favorite project so far has been sculpting a turtle. Located in Level 1, this project was divided over four lessons, with each of those lessons broken down into two to four sections.

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Once we had all the supplies we needed, all we had to do was set the laptop up on the table and we were ready to create. For this project every member of our family joined in! After working through all four sections of lesson 1, we had created the bodies of our turtles-arms, legs, head, and shell. In lesson 2 we fine-tuned the parts, and added some texture. In lesson 3 we finished adding texture, working on the shell this time. In lesson 4 we brought our turtles to life with some paint!

This project was time consuming because we had to wait for the clay to dry completely before we could paint them, and then we had to wait for the paint and then the crackle to dry before seeing our finished results. Although we had fun creating our turtles and wanted to just work steadily on them, it was definitely worth the wait to do them well! Everyone enjoyed this project tremendously and took great pride in what they created!

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We also tried our hand at oil pastels, creating a winter cabin on velour paper. This was done in one lesson broken up into four sections, and we finished it in a day. I was a little nervous about using the velour paper, it was so white and soft I was afraid I’d mess it up. I was glad to find out that Sharon had us draw the cabin on paper first, and then trace over it onto the velour. I had my doubts that I would be able to make my picture look anything remotely resembling what she was doing, but I was pleased to see at the end that it actually did. I think that’s what I love most about this program. It let’s people like me, with absolutely no natural artistic ability, create a beautiful work of art.

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There were so many things I loved about Creating a Masterpiece. I appreciated that all of the supplies needed for a project were linked to a website where I could order everything right online. It was worth it to me to pay for high quality materials that I knew we could use for more than the project they were ordered for. I really liked the way the projects were broken up into manageable chunks. My 10 year old loses interest in things fairly quickly, and she stayed engaged throughout each lesson. I love that this gave us the opportunity to spend quality time as a family creating art together. I think the thing I like most about this program was seeing what the girls were taking away from it. They used what they learned and explored their own creativity. How cool is that? Although we’ve done all the projects together so far, the website and the lessons are so easy to follow that I’m going to just let them run with it on their own now. I can’t wait to see what they try next! Overall, Creating a Masterpiece was a big hit here, and we were so blessed and thankful to use it.



Creating Beautiful Art at Home {Creating A Masterpiece Reviews}

Visit Creating a Masterpiece on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/createamasterpiece

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Monday, March 20, 2017

Happy 13th Birthday, Katie! The Party edition.

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Homeschool Review Crew: Circle C Stepping Stones Review

We are a family of readers, and my girls are also huge horse fanatics. Given these two things, we were thrilled to receive Andi Saddles Up and Andi Under the Big Top from the new Circle C Stepping Stones written by Susan K. Marlow and published by Kregel Publications.

Andi Saddles Up      Andi Under the Big Top

Written for kids ages 7-10, the Circle C Stepping Stones series is about a girl named Andi living in the Wild West of the late 1800’s, and is a continuation of the Circle C Beginnings series (written for kids ages 6-9). There are six books in the Circle C Stepping Stones series:

Book 1: Andi Saddles Up

Book 2: Andi Under the Big Top   

Book 3: Andi Lassos Trouble (November 2017)

Book 4: Andi to the Rescue (November 2017) 

Book 5: Andi Dreams of Gold (July 2018)

Book 6: Andi Far from Home (July 2018)

In book 1, Andi Saddles Up, we read about nine year old Andi’s adventures with a new friend, Sadie, from the neighboring property. Andi lives with her mother, sister, and brothers on their cattle ranch in California. The book opens on Andi’s birthday, and she is very excited to finally be allowed to ride her palomino horse, Taffy, on her own. Her birthday celebration is interrupted by a visit from an angry neighbor (Sadie’s father), who comes to argue with Andi’s older brother about a land dispute. The river that had always marked the boundary between their two properties had shifted course, and now the two can’t agree on who owns the land next to the river. As the book goes on, Andi (who is lonely after her friend Riley left the ranch) meets Sadi, and the two become fast friends. They find a way to have fun together while their families continue to dispute over the land. After an unexpected event at the end of the story, Andi’s brother and Sadi’s dad finally find a resolution.

In book 2, Andi Under the Big Top, Andi goes to the circus with her family. There she meets a little boy named Henry who ran away from home to join the circus. Henry is treated poorly. He is unhappy and wants to return home, but the circus has traveled a long way. It costs a lot of money to return, and he doesn’t get the pay he was promised. Andi decides she will help him find a way home. With some plot twists along the way, in the end Henry gets to return to his family.

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There are some great resources to go along with the books. There are free coloring pages to download, as well as activity pages. The activity pages cover a wide range of historical and language arts related material. There are reading comprehension questions, vocabulary, poetry, word searches, and so much more. There are also some reasonably priced lapbook options available. I think these are great tools for incorporating a unit on these books into your homeschool day.

What we thought:

These two books were a big hit here!  Francesca, who is almost 11 and in the target age range, read them both in a couple of days. Katie, who is newly-turned 13, ate them both up in about an hour. Even though they were well below Katie’s reading level, the stories were well written and interesting enough to hold her. I highly recommend these books! They are wholesome and teach good character lessons without seeming to.  My girls like them so much I’ve decided to order the next two sets in the series. Circle C Adventures, written for ages 9-13, and Circle C Milestones, for ages 12 and up. We’re excited to read about Andi’s adventures as she gets older!


Andi Series {Kregel Publications and Susan K. Marlow Reviews}

Susan K. Marlow and Kregel Publications on social media:

Twitter (Kregel Books): https://twitter.com/KregelBooks
Twitter (Susan K Marlow): https://twitter.com/SuzyScribbles
Facebook (Kregel Books): https://www.facebook.com/KregelBooks/
Facebook (Susan K Marlow): https://www.facebook.com/SusanKMarlow?fref=ts

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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Homeschool Review Crew: Creative Freewriting Adventure Review

Katie has always enjoyed writing. This year she did a six week unit on writing research papers, and lost a little bit of her enthusiasm. We received Creative Freewriting Adventure and Creative Freewriting Adventure Coloring Book Edition by Home School Adventure Co. at the perfect time to help her get some joy back in her writing again!

Creative Freewriting Adenture      Creative Freewriting Adventure Coloring Book Edition
Written by Stacy Farrell, each freewriting activity gives teens the opportunity to get creative and just write. After the intense writing required of her during the research paper, this was a welcome change of pace for Katie.
The idea behind Creative Freewriting Adventure is simple, but so effective. Each exercise includes a story followed by a writing prompt to get the student’s creativity going. They set a timer for 15 minutes and just write. That’s it. It is purely an exercise in creative writing. I read Katie’s stories for the enjoyment of seeing what she created. There was no correcting spelling, punctuation, or grammar. I think being able to just write without worrying about any of those things was a very freeing experience for her.
How We Used It:
Since we received the PDF download, there was the option to do her writing right on the computer. We chose to print it all and put it into a binder, though, because there’s just something about being able to sit in a cozy chair someplace and write. We didn’t set a specific schedule for this. I told her she should write at least three times a week; other than those instructions she worked pretty independently. Since she worked so independently on this, I asked her to write her own review to share her thoughts. She wrote:

My favorite thing about these freewriting exercises was that they gave us something to learn and then after that they gave us prompts and had us put ourselves in the story. I liked that even though it was about history, it wasn’t a “here, write a ten page paper about what you read.” It was fun. It didn’t get boring because I wasn’t stuck writing for twelve hours. My favorite exercise was the Winged Pony one, because I like horses, and think it would be so cool to fly, so it was fun to imagine what that experience would be like. I can’t really choose a least favorite. They were all epic.”

There you have it. I’m pretty sure “epic” is quite a praise in teen speak.

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There are ten freewriting exercises in the Creative Freewriting Adventure. They are:

  • Thales
  • Pythagorus
  • Xenophanes
  • Democritus
  • The Wise Woman
  • Beasts
  • The Gallery
  • Winged Pony
  • Eternity
  • The Ultimate Christmas Party

Each writing prompt begins with setting the scene for writing. They call this “Your Journey.” For example, one exercise begins with:

You drive out to your best friend's farmhouse, hoping to surprise her with
a visit. Her pickup truck is parked in the gravel driveway, but she doesn't
answer her door…”

Next are some questions to get them thinking. I think there is a great use of open-ended questions contained here to help facilitate some creativity. They are broken up into sections:

  • Background
  • The Dialogue
  • Incorporate your senses

In addition to the Creative Freewriting Adventure, the Home School Adventure Co. also created the Creative Freewriting Adventure Coloring Book Edition. This is identical to the Creative Freewriting Adventure book, with the addition of a coloring page for each exercise. I think this would be a great choice for someone with a teen that would enjoy a corresponding coloring page to go along with their writing!

Members of the Homeschool Review Crew reviewed a variety of products from the Home School Adventure Co. To see what other exciting things they offer, click below!

Resources with a Biblical Worldview{Home School Adventure Co. Reviews}

Visit Home School Adventure Co on social media:
https://twitter.com/HomeSchoolAdven  @HomeSchoolAdven
Pinterest:  http://pinterest.com/homeschooladven/
Google+:  https://plus.google.com/b/115241518288669984312/+Homeschooladventure
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/HomeSchoolAdventure

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Sunday, March 12, 2017

Happy 13th Birthday, Katie!!


Dear Katie,

I just adore you. You make middle-child life look easy. You are so many things: trustworthy, dependable, and brave. Loving, kind-hearted, compassionate. You are a peace-keeper. An achiever of things. You are brilliant, and good, and funny. I just love your sense of humor. You are actually, genuinely funny.

As you embark into unchartered teenage territory, my prayer for you is that you will remain true to yourself. Being a teenager is hard. Friendships become more complicated, and you have to figure out how to navigate through all kinds of situations again, as you are no longer a child, but not yet an adult. As you change and grow and take on the world, always remember who’s you are, and who you are. You are a daughter of the King. And you are mine. Always be yourself, my girl. I think you’re pretty amazing just the way you are.



Birthday breakfast before church


Birthday dinner after play practice


You’re going to Casting Crowns!!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Happy Birthday, Samantha!!

Today my first born daughter turned 21. I remember every single second of that day, and marvel at the fact that this beautiful young woman before me now is that tiny baby I held with so much love and awe such a seemingly short time ago.

Samantha is kind-hearted and compassionate, she is loving and generous to a fault. She makes me laugh, and she challenges me to think deeply about things I had never considered before. I’ve heard it said that daughters grow up to be your best friend, and our relationship is a testament to that truth. What a tremendous joy and blessing it has been to travel this road together. I thank God for you every day.

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Thursday, March 2, 2017

Science Fun!

Today we did an experiment with super worms. We tested their reactions to warm and cold, light and dark, different smells, and made a maze to see if they would consistently choose the same path.


Things didn’t go exactly how I envisioned them. Katie and Francesca didn’t want anything to do with the worms. I can’t say that I blame them; they were big and wiggly and had legs. Legs. Katie tried to be tough. Although there was a lot of screeching and yelling for Bishnu to come save her when her worms tried to escape, she at least attempted some of the experiment. Francesca, on the other hand, was out from the second we got the worms out of their jar.


I haven’t laughed so much during a science experiment ever. She jumped up into that window like her pants were on fire, and hardly moved from her spot.


Add that to the fact that Katie screeched at the top of her lungs every time a worm tried to escape, and we were in hysterics the entire time. Thankfully Bishnu was a little braver than them. She came to Katie’s rescue and grabbed her runaway worms for her. If it weren’t for Bishnu I’m not sure we would have gotten anything accomplished. At all.

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She tested the worms to see if they reacted to the smell of vinegar, if they reacted to warmth and cold, and they built mazes to see if the worms would move through them. These worms were so active, the challenge wasn’t getting them to move, it was getting them to stay in the maze! They kept pushing though the walls and crawling up and over. So funny!

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