Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Master Kitz The Starry Night {review}

I don't have a strong background in art, so I'm always looking for ways to bring art into the house that will help me encourage my kids to appreciate art and enjoy artistic endeavors without a lot of work or background knowledge from me.  Recently, we had the opportunity to review Master Kits The Starry Night.  This is a product of Kidzaw.com, which makes creating masterpieces easy and fun for kids!  I used it for an evening project with my three and five year old girls!  My five year old is especially artistic and enjoys all things arts and crafts, so I knew this would be an exciting project for her.

The Starry Night kit comes in a sturdy box with magnetic closures so you can store supplies, and includes acrylic paint, oil pastels, rollers (including the specialty van Gogh roller), stencil, art paper, star stickers and the Van Gogh learning booklet.  Also, an instructional booklet is included.

The only thing I added to our session was a cheap tablecloth to cover the table, a paper plate for the paint, and tape to hold the paper in place, as well as an old t-shirt for my three year old.

Everything came neatly rolled in the box, so it was protected, but you might want to flatten your paper and stencil under heavy books first.  I didn't do this first, so they were a little difficult to handle for little hands.  If I'd though about it before showing the girls the kit, I would have definitely done this a day or two ahead.  Otherwise, set up was easy and straightforward.

The instructions are written out with picture guides, so they are easy to follow.  I read them aloud, because I wanted the girls, or at least my Kindergartener, to understand what and why we were doing certain steps.  I helped the girls set up and get through each step, but an older child could do this independently.

To get started, you need to tape the paper down, place the "star" stickers on the paper, and then use the rollers and stencil as instructed.  I let the girls do this together, but that meant there was a lot of back and forth for me as I helped them through each step, and managed supplies.  I would think ages 10+ could do this independently, while younger students will need varying amounts of assistance based on reading level and fine motor skills.

While there is enough paper for two projects, and probably enough paint for more, there is only one set of the star stickers and rollers.  That means I had to improvise.  I used the perforated part under the original stickers since they were the same shape, and my three year old didn't care.  By starting one child ahead of the other, I was able to go back and forth as one child moved to the next step, they could pass the roller to their sibling.  I just had to find a good rhythm.  Of course, one child could have waited for their sister to complete the entire project, but that's difficult to do at their age, so I did my best to accommodate both within my ability.

Once they finished the painting part, it needed to dry.  You could speed up the drying process with a hair dryer, but we just went and played, and came back later.  After the paint is dry and the star stickers removed, the kids are taught how to use the oil pastels to fill in the stars and the city landscape.  They're encouraged to make it their own, so they can "be inspired" by the original work, or they can get creative and imaginative.

My 3 year old wasn't particularly interested in the details, but she really enjoyed the overall process.  At this age, it is just great to expose her to famous paintings, and the idea of enjoying art, and recreating it in a fun way - the rollers and stencil were exciting for her!

My 5 year old really enjoyed filling in the little details and blending colors . . .

She also took it to heart to get creative with hers.

Both girls were very proud of their finished product, and have them hanging over their beds now!

The informational booklet about Van Gogh is a nice, child-friendly introduction to the artist and some of his works.  You could read this before you start, during the project itself, or they could read it independently.  We just looked through it and I told them a few key facts.  At their age, that is enough to interest them, without overwhelming them with facts.

Overall, I am pleased with the Master Kits The Starry Night.  The instructions were detailed and easy to follow, the artist information was appropriate for kids, and the activity itself was fun!  There are several more Master Kitz and other fun products from Kidzaw.com, and I am thinking my five year old would love for me to add these to her gift list for Christmas or her upcoming birthday!  I really do think they make unique gifts for young artists to help them learn about different techniques and to build an appreciation for master artists.  There is also one "Art Party" set designed for 12 children - I think it would make a great birthday party activity or co-op session!

If you're interested in learning more about this fun little kit, be sure to read more crew reviews!
Master Kitz The Starry Night {Kidzaw.com Reviews}

Master Kitz The Starry Night {Kidzaw.com Reviews}

©2011-2018 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.  http://www.moms-heart.com

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

St Bartholomew's Eve {review}

As a homeschooling parent, I obviously love when I find a quality, educational resource to feed the interests of my kids.  My nine year old has shown a lot of interest in history lately, so I was happy when we were offered the opportunity to review the newest production from Heirloom Audio.  These are quality historical supplements that also double as wholesome entertainment for the entire family.

St. Bartholomew's Eve

We received a 2 CD set of St. Bartholomew's Eve, a full audio adventure based on the G.A. Henty novel of the same name.  This is a story of the Hugenots, and the arrival of this story was good timing, as he had just read about the Hugenots in his history book, and he was asking questions.

I popped the CD into the car on the way to co-op one day, and we got started listening as a family.  We travel in about half hour drives, so this story only takes a couple of short trips.  The story begins with some young lads sneaking out of church, essentially claiming they can worship anywhere.  I thought this was an interesting way to lead into the crux of the story, religious freedom.  The narrator then takes us back to the 16th century, with Philip, our young English protagonist.  He is sent to his French relatives, where he assists with the French Protestant's plight.  He is forced to test his courage and faith in God as he continuously defends the rights of the Protestants against the French Catholics.  The story climaxes after Philip discovers white X's on their doors . . . leading to the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre.  This story is a reminder that our right to worship as we feel is right is the product of the faith, courage and sacrifice of many people, just like in this story.

G.A. Henty wrote to an audience of adolescent boys, so this story is full of adventure and excitement, battles and bravery, but it is appropriate for boys and girls alike.  As an audio adventure by Heirloom Audio, this story is full of fantastic music and sound effects that add to the suspense and bring the story to life.  The sound of the crickets, the footsteps of an assassin, the swords clashing, the bells ringing - all the little details are not passed over, and you feel as if you're right next to Philip.

My primary listeners are 11, 9 and 5, and the story can be hard to follow sometimes because of the action and dialogue, but it is still an excellent production and story, just as its predecessors.  However, it does have some intense scenes, and a story of religious war can be a difficult topic for some children.  Children often have questions or anxieties when they hear of religious persecution, so I definitely recommend listening alongside (if not ahead) and being prepared for any discussions that might arise.

Heirloom Audio has released several titles in their Extraordinary Adventures of G.A. Henty series.  We own all, and have reviewed all but one, so if you want to learn a little more about the series, or are looking for a different time period, feel free to check out my reviews.
Under Drake's Flag
In Freedom's Cause
With Lee in Virginia
The Dragon and the Raven
Beric the Briton
The Cat of Bubastes
In the Reign of Terror
Captain Bayley's Heir
Wulf the Saxon

You can also read more reviews of St. Bartholomew's Eve from fellow crew members, or check out Heirloom Audio online.

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St. Bartholomew's Eve {Heirloom Audio Reviews}

©2011-2018 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.  http://www.moms-heart.com

Monday, October 15, 2018

American Revolution Museum Field Trip

A few weeks ago I shared our field trip to Jamestown Settlement.  We bought the combo ticket to the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown and went later in the week.  The two museums have a similar layout, with an indoor exhibit hall and the outdoor living history areas.  The first time, we thought we'd 'beat the heat' and do the outdoor areas first, but we were so hot and tired, and the littles were then irritable, that we could hardly enjoy the indoor exhibits.  This time, we decided to do the indoor exhibits first, which meant we weren't hot and sticky and tired while walking through, and the kids were more interested in everything - which meant we were able to spend more time actually reading placards, looking at artifacts and paintings, and enjoying the cannon exhibit.  (Again, they requested no pictures indoors.)  I loved the cannon exhibit they had, and the paintings.

Outdoors, they had a Revolutionary War era encampment set up.

We learned that there would about six people per tent, but the higher your rank, the less people per tent.

Inside, you could see recreations of what the officer's tents would have looked like, with interesting props set up.

Some tents were set up for "work" rather than sleeping, and this was apparently the medical area.  She was talking about herbs and medicines.

 While this is what we saw inside . . .

Higher ranking officers had beds . . .

In the far corner, we met a gentleman who talked to us about the food and cooking.

They were able to examine food . . .

This area was for the women and kids who followed the men . . . .

. . . and offered laundry services!

There were a few games set up, and he played Shut the Box with the kids.

Then we walked over to an Upper Middle Class farm.  We actually started at the house, but I forgot to get a picture when we got there, but you can see the house, and the kitchen.

Inside the house, she talked to us about a typical family and their home life.  She mentioned that mom would probably teach them at home!  My kids gave me the side eye.  Dollies are of course interesting to 3 year olds!

Eleanor has been really interested in checkers lately, and loves to play!

Over in the kitchen, we learned more about typical meals, as well as how things were prepared and stored.

Around the farm, we saw the garden, some animals . . .

as well as the slave/servant quarters.

On the way out, we were told about how the kids had outdoor chores starting around his age.  He had to work for his food!

This was another fun historical field trip, if not ridiculously hot again!

There are so many other historical activities and learning opportunities around in Jamestown, Yorktown and Williamsburg, but we couldn't do it all.  We enjoyed the activities we did, but the kids wanted to do more than "just" history.  We did walk around some of the historical towns to shop, and Emory insisted on a picture here, but this was the best husband could get . . .

It was also 90-95 most of the week, which meant it was too hot for the littles to enjoy a lot of the outdoor historical stuff.  So we spent plenty of time in the pools at the condo, one day at Virginia beach, and another evening at Yorktown Beach!  This helped the kids get out some energy and cool off!

Our last big field trip was to the Virginia Air and Space Museum!  I'll share more on that soon!

©2011-2018 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.  http://www.moms-heart.com

Friday, October 12, 2018

Brinkman Adventures Season 6 {review}

One of the benefits of homeschooling is that we get through our "work" quickly, so we have plenty of time for hobbies and play!  One of the things we all love is listening to audio dramas, so when we were given the opportunity to review Season 6: Underground Rising (digital version) from Brinkman Adventures, I was thrilled to add it to our homeschool day.

Underground Rising Season 6 Brinkman Adventures

Our family has reviewed Brinkman Adventures Season 3 and Season 4, in the past, and it has always been a great experience.  The "adventures" are actually radio dramas, and are based on true stories and modern missionaries, brought to us through the large and wacky Brinkman Family.

Season 6: Underground Rising is in a new format.  It includes six episodes, and is a little over two hours long.  The episodes each have a prominent theme, so you can encourage the kids to listen for how that theme is portrayed.  Or for older kids, you might ask them what underlying themes they noticed, and compare it to the producer's intentional theme.  These themes are things like Resisting Evil or Trusting God's Plan.

The episode titles are as follows:

Dutch Underground, Part 1
Dutch Underground, Part 2
Twice Born Fly
I Wonder Why
Free Burma Rangers, Part 1
Free Burma Rangers, Part 2

The episodes aren't very long, approximately half an hour, which makes them quick and easy listens.  We typically listen in the car on the way to co-op or other errands, but you could do them as part of family devotions or just during downtime.  Otherwise, you could easily listen on a road trip.

These stories carry us through WWII and stealing ration cards and cars, to an orphanage in India, through a prison break, and more.  My primary listeners are 5, 9 and 11, and I feel like the stories have enough action, without being intense.  Some episodes include a precaution for children under ten to listen with parents, due to intense scenes and subject matter, but we didn't find them particularly distressing.  That being said, I Wonder Why does include discussion of a miscarriage and a scary incident with food allergies, which can also be sensitive subjects due to being so relatable, so parents may want to preview this episode.  I thought I Wonder Why was a wonderful story about learning to trust that God has a plan and is using us for His glory, even if we don't recognize it while we are going through a difficult time.  That makes it worth the listen, particularly if your family is going through a hard time.  Also, if your kids are familiar with Pilgrim's Progress, see if they notice any similarities in one of the stories - I definitely noticed it before the character in the story made the comparison, but it's always fun to see when my kids will make these connections.

One thing we've always enjoyed about Brinkman Adventures is that they are based on true stories and real people, which naturally makes the human interest factor higher.  We've always loved reading the Real Stories, because it makes these people more real to us.  There is so much great information, pictures, videos and diagrams, that it will really help you to connect with the stories all over again.  (I suggest reading them after, if you don't want spoilers.)  I just appreciate how it helps put the history and culture into perspective.

These episodes are great for missionary studies, devotion time, or even as history or social studies supplements, and I will continue to recommend them to families!  If you're interested in learning more about Brinkman Adventures, you can find them on Facebook, read more reviews, and of course check out their website and take advantage of their special 10% discount through October 31st, 2018 (Coupon code: FALL10) to grab a season or two for your own family!

Brinkman Adventures Season 6 Reviews
©2011-2018 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.  http://www.moms-heart.com

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Books of the Bible at a Glance {review}

We have approached Bible readings in our homeschool in different ways over the years.  Most recently, we have fleshed out the lessons in the workbooks from a children's ministry program at our church, but those lessons always seem to hop around.  My eleven year old has transitioned from this program into a traditional middle school youth group, so I though we might do a general overview of the Bible this year at home.  When searching for Bible reading plans for middle schoolers, I found a Bible reading schedule that is intended to give a solid overview of the Bible by covering at least a portion of every Book.  I thought this would be a good idea for sixth grade, so when we were given the opportunity to review Books of the Bible at a Glance, from Teach Sunday School, I knew it would be a great complement to our reading plan.

Books of the Bible at a Glance

I received a PDF file of printable guides that are essentially "cheat sheets" for every book of the Bible.  Each guide is laid out the same:
  • Book Title
  • OT or NT book #
  • Author
  • Year(s) written
  • Timeframe that the book covers
  • Claims to fame - brief information about the person or event for which the Book is most prominently known 
  • Famous stories from the book
  • Famous Verses 
  • Important Points about the book
The purpose of these Book-By-Book Bible Printables is to help give placement and context, and to show the big picture of the entire Bible.  Especially in children's programs, many reading plans hop around between Old and New Testament, only hit popular people and stories, and leave so much out.  These guides are meant to give a solid overview from beginning to end.  

As I had hoped, these summary sheets work really well with our straightfoward Bible reading program.  We started by printing off the first couple of Books and going over the page before starting the chapter.  Every few days as we read another passage, we can review the cheat sheet and key points covered, so that we still have the right timeframe and context in our minds.  

While they are appropriate for all ages, I think upper elementary ages through adults will get the most out of them.  I can see these being especially useful in group settings (Sunday School, Bible Study, Junior Church, Youth Group) before doing a book study, because you can pass these out to help put a book into context before studying it.  It could aid in placing Biblical events on a history timeline.  For anyone new to studying the Bible independently, these would be especially useful for placing things in context and understanding how the Bible fits together.  For independent studies, you can keep these with your notes during devotions.  If using the Most Famous Verses for memory work or copywork, you may choose your preferred version, but the included verses make choosing selections easier.  Essentially, they are very versatile and can be used in many ways.  I wouldn't hesitate to recommend these!

To find out more about these Printable Books of the Bible "Summary Sheets" you can check out their website or social media, and of course, read more reviews to find out how crew members are using them in their homes!

Books of the Bible At-a-Glance { Teach Sunday School Reviews}

©2011-2018 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.  http://www.moms-heart.com

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Forensic Faith for Kids {Book Review}

Most kids love mysteries and detective stories, so when we were offered the chance to review the book from Forensic Faith for Kids from David C Cook and Case Makers Academy, I was intrigued.

Forensic Faith for Kids

Forensic Faith for Kids is written by J. Warner Wallace and Susan Wallace, with Rob Suggs.  A real cold-case detective, J. Warner Wallace used his own experience and expertise to investigate his way from being an atheist to a Christian.  He now writes books for both adults and children on how to investigate the truth.

There are two storylines within the book.  The book starts off with children washing cars at a fundraiser, when a corgi appears.  All they know is that her name is Bailey, but not where she came from or who she belongs to.  The second major plot point starts at a youth group meeting, where friends are discussing another friend from school who showed up, but made it clear he questions whether Jesus is God.  As cadets, the children learn how to investigate for truth.  Warner uses his background to write to children, teaching them how to search for truth, organize evidence, and present a case.

You can read the book straight through and gain a lot from it.  I have read the book aloud to children 5, 9 and 11 and the two older children of course got more out of it.  These ages could also easily read it independently, as it is targeted at 8-12 year olds.  Along with the book, you can also find online supplemental tools.  The Case Makers Academy website offers free videos and printable pages.

Training Activity Sheets include things like Spot the Difference and Word Searches.  They're like fun little warm-ups that have you paying attention to the details in front of you.  Academy Notebook sheets are more like fill-in-the-blanks based on the readings.  The Adult Leader Guide gives notes for reading the adult version of each book and preparing for the lesson with the kids, such as questions to ask.

Warner's books for children include Cold Case Christianity for Kids, God's Crime Scene for Kids and Forensic Faith for Kids, and are designed to help children learn the truth about God and Jesus.  These books are suitable for mid-elemetantary through early middle school (8-12 years) and can be used by families or small groups, even children's church programs.  I could also see them being used in a co-op setting as well.  Each of these books has an adult counterpart, which is suitable for teens.  In this way, groups with a wide age range or families with teens can all study together.  Pre-teens and teenagers often have a lot of questions about their faith, or how to discuss it with their friends, and this book can be a good conversation starter.

To find out more about Forensic Faith for Kids or the other books in the series, you can check out Case Makers Academy website, find them on Facebook or read more crew reviews!

Forensic Faith for Kids {David C Cook  and  Case Makers Academy Reviews}

©2011-2018 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.  http://www.moms-heart.com

Monday, September 24, 2018

I Know It {review}

Recently we were given the opportunity to review a new subscription-based math website called I Know It.  It is an interactive math practice website designed to cover most common Kindergarten through 5th grade concepts.  We received a one year family membership, which is good for up to four students.  

I Know It was developed by Super Teacher Worksheets, which we have used and enjoyed in the past, I was interested in trying out their newest offering.

To begin, I set up sub-accounts for the kids, where I listed their grade level, and the level at which they are working.  This is also where we can choose a profile icon.  Everyone shares one login, but chooses their icon for logging into their individual accounts.  Within their account, they can first see their assignments, then the available topics.  I have primarily used this with my older two kids, who are 9 and 11 years old.

The first thing you should know is that this is a practice website, and does not teach the concepts.  However, it covers a wide variety of K-5 topics, and can be used as a quality supplementary resource for any curriculum.

There are two ways students can use this program.  First, they can login and immediately see any assignments I have posted for them.  I usually tell my kids which ones to complete.  For Emory, I have him occasionally review math facts to build speed, or do practice corresponding to his math curriculum.  For assignments, you can pull from any grade level.

The other way to use this is to allow the student to explore any topic that is available.  As you can see, this is from Level E, which corresponds to 5th grade.  It shows as letters instead of grade levels, which I suppose is good for an older student working below level.  Even though Elliott is in 6th grade, I added him as a user for the purpose of this review.  There is enough overlap in 5th and 6th grade topics, especially at the beginning of the year when curriculum is reviewing, that he can do this program as well.

For many of the topics covered, the questions are asked in different ways.  It may be fill in the blank or multiple choice.  (I answered questions in my parent account to pull examples without affecting their progress.)

When correct, the character in the corner does a little dance or otherwise gets excited for you, and you get a green checkmark and affirmation like "You rock" or "peachy keen" or "genius!"

If the answer is incorrect, you're shown how to work out the problem.  I really like this feature, because I know some full curriculum programs that don't walk you through incorrect answers!

Assigning a lesson is fairly easy.  I just click the assign button, and I can choose to assign to all students (which would work well for a classroom environment) or some of my students.  I can choose to assign until they complete the entire lesson, or I can set it to expire after a certain date range.  I can also decide if they must complete the assignment by answering a specific number of questions, or if they must work for a certain amount of time.  I usually set it for time, because I want to make sure we do short lessons.

Within the parent account, I can also look at my assignment log, or look at the individual child's progress.  Looking at their progress, I can see which topics they've completed, their percentage score, and I can click through to look at the assignments and how much time they spent or the actual questions and how they answered.  For a practice website, this is very thorough!  It works as a supplement to your primary curriculum to review or for extra practice if necessary, or it might work well for summer practice as well.

You can sign up for a 60 day trial, which is a great opportunity to see if this is something that will be a good fit for your family.

Interactive Math Lessons K - 5 grade {I Know It Reviews}

©2011-2018 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.  http://www.moms-heart.com