Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Carole P. Roman {book reviews}

Over the years, we've collected several books by author Carole P. Roman.  She has several different series, and we especially love her cultural and historical books.  Recently, we were given the opportunity to select more titles from Carole P. Roman books and collections to review.  We chose three titles from her cultural series, If You Were Me and Lived in . . .

This series is designed to teach children about countries and cultures around the world, and it does so through the eyes of a child.  The books are written in the second person, from one child to another.  They walk the reader through their home country, teaching about their everyday life.  What would your name be if you were a girl or boy in this country?  What would you call your mom and dad, or your grandma and grandpa in the native language?  What would be your favorite games, toys or sports?  What foods are loved by your family?  These are the types of cultural facts that are addressed.  Essentially, the narrators are sharing what a childhood in this country is like, through the things that are most important to children.

When requesting the specific titles to review, I tried to get variety so we could travel across different continents, experience different languages, and really see the differences in the cultures.  I'm always looking for easy ways to add to our geography studies, and add cultural appreciation, and these books are a fun resource.  Although the books are written for ages 4-8 years old, there is much flexibility with this age range.  I read them to my older three kids, who are 5, 8, and 11, and they all appreciated them on a different level.

If You Were Me and Lived in . . . Brazil
I chose this book because last year in co-op, one of the facilitators was from Brazil and taught a Portuguese class for the kids.  I knew it would be a good way to make an interesting real-life connection.  We learned why Portuguese is the national language of Brazil, and as we looked at Brazil on the map in the book, one of the kids immediately went to our wall map to find it.  I love it when books encourage this kind of exploration.  We also learned that Brazil produces the most coffee in the world, and we noticed that the page numbers have little coffee mugs next to them!  The kids made sure to tell dad that night, as he is our resident coffee drinker.

If You Were Me and Lived in  . . . Italy
We requested this book because I thought it would be fun to expose the kids to some Italian.  I love that each book uses many common words in the country's native language, and includes a pronunciation guide in the back.  My older elementary kids really enjoy this part of each book, but have actually requested that Italian be our foreign language of choice!  This book in particular gave us a lot of interesting facts about Rome, due to its influence on western civilization, and reminds us that it is the only city in the world that has another country inside of it, referring to The Catholic Church and Vatican City.  The kids noticed the page numbers were marked with the Leaning Tower of Pisa and questioned why it wasn't mentioned in the book.  I know every landmark can't be included, but I found that an odd choice.  There are some fun facts about the Colosseum though!

If You Were Me and Lived in . . . India
The final book we chose focused on India.  One of my goals for my children is to not just teach them geography and cultures, but to curate a sense of appreciation, sensitivity and wonder about the rest of the world.  This book focuses on a region we haven't really studied yet, so it offered opportunity to expand our horizons a bit.  My husband has also been wanting to try some Indian recipes he saw online, and though we haven't had another Foreign Cuisine night yet, I definitely want to include some of the foods that we read about in this book.  The kids found another connection with the rickshaw cab in this book, as we had read a literature book earlier this year featuring rickshaws.  They also really liked reading about the Taj Mahal, since they are always interested in famous architectural landmarks.

Final Thoughts
As the books are geared towards younger children, they are simply written and focus on lighter topics, and avoid things like religion or politics.  They are slightly formulaic, in that we know all of the major topics that are going to be covered.  I usually read the pages before showing the pictures, but my older kids always know when the favorite toy of the little sister is going to be a doll, and when they are headed to school at the end of the book.  That being said, they are still informative for the older crowd who hasn't had much foreign language or world cultures exposure.  The books can be a  great starting point for a geography study - we like to read one during the week, look it up on the map, and maybe discuss a few topics out of them, and practice saying the different words in the target language.  The kids also pointed out how the pictures varied, as some pages have only illustrations, and others have a realistic photographic background with illustrated overlays.  It was an interesting touch.


Looking up photographs online is a great way to dig a little deeper, and we usually did this too.  You can also cook recipes mentioned in the book, or have them research the holidays or other cultural aspects mentioned in the book, or see what rabbit trails it takes you on.  I've taken one of the other books in this series to my 2nd grade literature co-op class (South Korea, for the Olympics earlier this year) and used it as part of a lesson on informational texts.  There are just so many possibilities with these books, and the kids have actually asked me to get our others back out to read again!

In addition to the cultural series, Carole P. Roman also has a history series, bedtime stories, and more.   We have reviewed several other titles over the years:
Mexico, France, South Korea, Norway
Australia, Portugal, Russia
Colonial America, Ancient Greece, Middle Ages, Elizabethan England
Egypt, Ancient China, Mars, Rocket-Bye

Carol P Roman Children's Book Author

The Homeschool Review Crew is currently reviewing books from every series, so be sure to check out more reviews to see everything that the author offers!


Carole P. Roman books and collections {Carole P. Roman 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

Friday, March 23, 2018

Worthy Books

©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, March 21, 2018

Zirrly - Super Beads {review}

My 5 year old daughter is very artsy-crafty.  She loves anything to do with creative and artistic expression.  When we were given the opportunity to review Super Beads from Zirrly, I knew she would appreciate the chance to try them.  After looking over the different sets, she was very interested in the Jungle Animals, and she was thrilled when they arrived!

Zirrly offers a variety of arts and crafts items, and Super Beads are a beading activity that do not require a hot iron or glue to fuse the designs together.  I was very intrigued by the idea, because I was hopeful it would leave more room for independence with small children.

Included in this kit:
  • 2,000+ beads in multiple colors
  • 6 puzzle trays
  • 7 pattern cards (six animals)
  • spray bottle
  • plastic tool

The process is fairly simple.  You choose a design and place the pattern card behind the tray.  The lion requires two cards and two trays, and the trays will connect together.  Then the crafter can place the beads on top of the correct color.  Once the pattern is complete, you spray the beads with water.  The water "activates" the beads, and they basically fuse themselves together.  Finally, they need time to dry.  I will say, even following the directions, it took us some trial and error to figure out how much water to use and how long to dry the creation.  It needs a solid spray, without soaking it, and excess water needs to be drained.  (Too much water makes the beads mushy.)  They need at least an hour to dry, and if they aren't fused, just give another spritz and let dry longer.  If you are able to remove it cleanly from the tray, you may need to flip and dry the other side, but otherwise you can put the stands on and you creation is finished!

Another minor issue we found is that we didn't know for the first few projects that the beads were "marked" and are supposed to be placed onto the tray in a specific way.  This helps them stick together better, I guess.  Even after I pointed out how they're supposed to go, she's only 5 and doesn't always remember to check.  So you may not get the best results with younger kids, but we found that our projects stills stayed together very well.

Our beads were packaged in small quantities by color, so I only opened one pack of a color as she asked for it, then refilled as she ran out.  The box came with a tray that has multiple compartments, so it is perfect for separating the beads.  This tray, and limiting the amount of beads accessible at one time, kept me from worrying about big spills and beads scattering everywhere.

She started out with the elephant, which wasn't intentional, but it turned out to be a good choice.  The elephant uses limited colors and is a very simple pattern, which makes it a good first project.  Then we worked up to the animals with more colors and intricate beading patterns.

Eleanor has enjoyed making the animals, even if they aren't all technically 'jungle' animals, and it's a fun choice to mix into her art activities.  We have found that some colors, the orange and black especially, will transfer color to hands and other beads, but it washes off hands easily.  The plastic tool comes in handy too.  If she accidentally put a bead in the wrong spot, we could just pop the bead off quickly with it.  I also used it sometimes to help slide the finished product off the tray.

Once they are put together, they are hardy - even with the 3 year old grabbing at them and playing with them, they've held up very well.  If they fall apart, their are instructions for repairing them.

Final Thoughts
This product is recommended for ages 5+ and with a young 5 year old, I found I did need to be partially involved.  She needed me to put the the pattern behind the tray (I usually taped it, because it would fall loose sometimes), I regulated the amount of water, and I removed it from the tray.  She did all the beading and the water spritzing.  I think parents of kids on the younger end will need to be helpers, while older children can work much more independently, especially since there is no need for an iron!  The water is the glue, and it works very well!

Overall, I have found this a great beginning handicraft.  It requires patience, attention to detail, fine motor skills, and it produces a finished product relatively quickly with diligent work.

There are other sets of Super Beads that include 3D models and jewelry, and though we haven't explored additional activities with them, I know there are a lot of possibilities, making the handicraft possibilities more open-ended.  In fact, the crew has been reviewing a variety of sets, so I recommend checking out what other families think!

Super Beads {Zirrly 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, March 19, 2018

Home School in the Woods {review}

My kids love playing games, and I am trying to intentionally incorporate more fun into our homeschool.  When we had the opportunity to review some of the À La Carte Projects from Home School in the Woods, I let the boys peruse the many choices.  The options include crafts, games, timelines, lapbooks, newspaper projects and more, from different time periods throughout history.  My boys chose Battle Blitz! and Journey through the Middle Ages, both of which are games.  I knew we had some Fun Fridays in our future!

Home School in the Woods is a hands-on history program, and they design their products to be fun, engaging and interactive.  The games we chose are digital downloads.  Each download includes clear instructions for printing and assembling.  The instructions tell you specifically which pages to print on paper or cardstock, and if it should be colored or white paper.  Some of the pages need to be printed front-to-back, so you must be careful to adjust printer settings accordingly.  For our games, the question cards were like this.

Once everything is printed, then it's time to color and assemble!  Minimal supplies were needed.  File folders (as these are file folder games), colored pencils, scissors, and double-sided tape.  The only other supply we needed for one of the games was a standard six-sided die.  There were a lot of cards and game pieces to cut out, so my paper trimmer from my scrapbooking days would have been handy!

Battle Blitz!

Home School in the Woods  Á La Carte products
My 11 year old requested Battle Blitz! because the name intrigued him at first, but he was even more interested when he realized it was about the American Revolution.  He is currently immersed in this time period in history, so it was a very fitting choice.  The game is part of Time Travelers: The American Revolution set, and is a Revolutionary War themed file folder game.  Players first choose an army:  British Solider, American Soldier, French Soldier, American Indian, American Frontiersman, or German Hessian.

The instructions suggest to start with a subset of the questions, and I thought this was a good idea since we haven't finished covering this time period, and we aren't using the actual Time Travelers set. I figured the game would give us a fun way to review some of the content we've learned, and throw in a few new facts as well, so I carefully chose the questions ahead of time.

Each space on the board is representative of a battle, so as players answer questions correctly, their army "wins" the battle and covers the space.  If a player answers wrong, other players have the opportunity to answer the question and win the battle.  The idea is that the more the kids play the game and hear the questions, the more the information will sink in.

The individual questions are quite varied, and we found questions about pivotal events leading up to and surrounding the war, famous people, battles, important documents, and more.  Elliott would be so excited when he realized he could answer these questions because he had read about the event in one of his term biographies.

Side note:  I probably should have laminated the small soldier markers, but the boys were in a hurry to play for game day.

Journey through the Middle Ages

Home School in the Woods  Á La Carte products
Journey though the Middle Ages is another file folder game, this time from Project Passport: The Middle Ages.  Players can choose to be a Knight, Nun, Monk, Peasant Woman, Noble Woman or King.

Like the other game, the goal is to review and learn by answering questions.  When you answer correctly, you can roll the die and move that number of spaces.  The objective is to reach each castle, "attempting to be the most well traveled adventurer in the land" and secure a matching color card from each area of Europe.  The winner is the person who collects all six cards first.

We found this game took more time, for two reasons.  It was chosen by my 8 year old, because he wanted to pick a game related to his history too - however, it covers a much wider scope than the events surrounding single war, and it was harder for me to choose the subset of questions, because there was more information we hadn't covered yet.  I just went into it knowing there would be more wrong answers, thus taking longer to progress.  The other reason it took longer is because you aren't moving in a straight line around the board; you have to move strategically across the board and land exactly on a castle to claim a colored card.

As for the questions, there was again quite a bit of variety.  Famous people and events, as well as general facts about the way of life were all represented.

Some Final Thoughts
These games are designed for approximately 3rd-8th grade, for 2-6 players, so they are great for siblings or even sibling teams.

I will say, I found the directions (regarding the reading of the questions) a bit ambiguous, and we found ourselves winging it, but I don't feel that it affected the purpose of the game.  We didn't initially laminate, but I would recommend it for durability.

For the purpose of reviewing, this game does the job!  We are Charlotte Mason homeschoolers, and do not use a traditional textbook/study guide approach, nor do we typically use these types of questions.  However, the game play makes for a fun alternative for reviewing, and we found that much of the information questioned in the game has been covered through our living books.  You can even make your own question cards, which means the game can be adapted specifically to your individual needs and curriculum.

The kids have had a lot of fun with these games!  It's been a nice way to add some review and learn a few new interesting facts about different time periods, and a way for the boys to connect over history since they are now studying different time periods.  The crew has reviewed a large selection of À La Carte products, and we're eyeing the Pirate Panoply and Name that State games next!  If you're wanting to take a peek at the large variety that Home School in the Woods offers, I suggest you check out more reviews!

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©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, March 16, 2018

Charlotte Mason Pre-K: A Mid-Year Peek at our Year 0

Since I have been sharing updates for the big kids, I thought I would share how things are going for Year 0.  I technically have two Year 0 students, Eleanor (just turned 5) and Eloise (just turned 3), but in reality only one of them is currently eager and precocious and bugging me to do school all the time.

This post contains affiliate links.

Even though this post will mostly focus on Eleanor, please don't think my three year old is left out.  She inserts herself, rather assertively, when she wants to join in on the fun.  Now, back to the topic at hand.  I will say, since we did our transition back to a more pure Charlotte Mason approach with the older kids, I felt a sigh of relief in regards to the littles, as well.  My natural tendency of just let them be in the preschool years suddenly felt justified.  There was no need to plan anything.
"A child will have taught himself to paint, paste, cut paper, knit, weave, hammer and saw, make lovely things in clay and sand, build castles with his bricks; possibly, too, will have taught himself to read, write, and do sums, besides acquiring no end of knowledge and notions about the world he lives in, by the time he is six or seven."  ~ Charlotte Mason

Eleanor, at barely five, can do almost everything on this list already.  I'm finding that when I follow their lead, the results are far more valuable, because they are wholly engaged and learning exactly what they need.  So in following their lead, we just take it one day at a time.  It is so much more natural and in-tune with my relaxed tendencies anyway, so it is working rather nicely for all of us.

Literature/Living Books
Eleanor listens in to a lot of the boys' books (audio books in the car, free reads over lunch, etc.) but I want to make sure she has special book time with me.  We're working through two book sets this year.  The first one is Before Five in a Row.  I had actually intended to use B4FIAR this year, but the truth is - I was already lousy at planning preschool when I knew in my heart it wasn't truly necessary, so we weren't really getting many rows accomplished anyway.  I'm still using the books from Before Five in a Row (and some related titles), because they are lovely books.  I just don't have a schedule or plans or expectations.  I like this book list because even Eloise, with her short attention span, will listen to many of these.  The Pre-K class at co-op is also using Before Five in a Row, so it's fun for Eleanor to tell me about the book they read, then for me to pull it off our shelf for a bedtime reading!

The other set of books I'm working through is the Beatrix Potter set we own.  I wanted to also pull some quality books from the Ambleside Online Year 0 list for Eleanor, which we've unofficially used even when we weren't following AO.  I try to just mix these in with the other titles, because as quaint as they are, I couldn't just read straight through a dozen books by one author.  Again, I don't have a reading schedule or plan, and I don't ask for narrations, though she does offer them regularly.  We just read, enjoy and sometimes reread our favorites of course!

The girls listen to the boys' poetry frequently, as I usually read those over lunch.  Well, Eleanor listens.  Eloise tries to talk over me, but that's another issue for another day.  However, sometimes Eleanor will ask for her own poetry book, and The Real Mother Goose is great for the girls.  I found our copy at a book booth when Elliott was using AO Year 0 and it's been a mainstay for years!  I also bought The Real Mother Goose Coloring Book for Eleanor, because she loves to color, so sometimes she does a page out of it.


Fine Arts and Handicrafts
She joins the boys most weeks for Picture Study, Folk Songs, Hymns and Composer Studies.  She loves doing art, and currently our favorite supplies are Kwik Stix paint sticks, Magic Stix markers, and watercolor crayons.

A bird trying to get grapes.  

For Handicrafts, both girls have spent some time making bracelets and necklaces from a wooden bead kit.  Eleanor has also been enjoying Super Beads, which are great for younger kids, especially since they do not require an iron.  I'll have more on these in a review next week!

Again, there are no formal academics, but Eleanor is precocious and begs for school-ish activities, so I follow her lead.  Sometimes she wants to do "letters" (early reading lessons) and we do some gentle CM style lessons.  She's in the CVC word building stage, but she knows a few other words that we haven't explicitly covered, and does stuff like this when I walk away.

Sometimes, she does a little workbook or worksheet because she asks for it, but I don't ask her to at this age.  She also plays around on Reading Eggs, Math Seeds, Starfall, La La Logic or CTCMath.  We received all of these as reviews at some point.  When she requests to have school on the computer like the boys or to play the iPad/Kindle, these options give her something relatively appropriate to do.  She does these activities at her pace, and occasionally Eloise will sit with her and watch or play around on the app a little herself, particularly with Starfall.

Nature Study/Outdoors
She loves playing outside - no matter the weather!  She won't be the one to pick up bugs, but she likes jumping in puddles, squishing in mud, digging in the dirt, examining rocks, birdwatching and picking flowers.

Of course, she loves to draw, and is always drawing birds, flowers and trees.  This was the series she drew when the boys were studying an evergreen tree.  I think it's time to get her a nature journal of her own, and probably a sketch book just for her drawings.  There are always drawings everywhere.

That's our Year 0.  It doesn't take into account all of her free play - dolls, kitchen sets, building with blocks, games with her siblings - but to her, most of this is free play.  She delights in drawing and books and folk songs.  She chooses to engage herself in these ways.  Which shows you, that children are naturally drawn to beautiful things that fill their minds and souls.  I just let it happen naturally.  It is simple, but rich.  I'm realizing that with Charlotte Mason, I can facilitate and provide direction, but they get to own their education.

©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

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Mid-Year Update: AO Year 4

Now that we're halfway through our first year of Ambleside Online, I am sharing some of our thoughts on the individual years and books.

I shared our Mid-Year Update for Year 2 recently, and now I'm sharing Elliott's experience with Ambleside Online Year 4 so far.

A little backstory:  he did a few weeks of AO Year 1 for first grade before we went back to a more relaxed approach for the rest of the year.  As he got older and we folded Emory into the mix, we continued to homeschool with a strong Charlotte Mason influence, but I was reading almost all of our living books aloud.  When we transitioned back to AO and Elliott had to take on a lot more daily reading, I was worried that his "I hate reading" attitude would be a stumbling block for us.  However, I am thrilled that he has risen to the challenge!  He almost never complains about having to read multiple books a day or about the books in general!  I think the rich quality of the books and the short lessons make it very doable.

Although we studied Early American History last year, I didn't hesitate to have him cover part of it again, at a higher leveler and in much more depth.  Year 4 also covers world history during this time frame, and we didn't have that broad of a focus last year, so I love that we're getting two streams of history.

He was a little miffed about not starting This Country of Ours at the beginning, but he handled it well enough.  He says it is boring, and some of his narrations reflect that attitude, while some of his narrations are fantastic!

Year 4 also covers world history during this time frame, and we didn't have that broad of a focus last year, so I love that we're getting two streams of history.  On a side note, at the beginning of Term 1, A Child's History of the World had I think one chapter scheduled.  It felt completely random and out of place, but perhaps because we didn't come from Y3 and had no connection to the book or specific frame of reference.  As for George Washington's World - the weekly reading schedule seems to be divided into five short sections.  Since they are all short and topical readings, it makes sense to just do a short reading every day, but we do 4-day weeks so I try to combine two shorter readings, and make sure he's not doing a long literature reading that day.

Just for fun, here's a little sneak peak of Battle Blitz, a game we're reviewing and using as a supplement.

Instead of the recommended Benjamin Franklin biography for Term 1, I used Ben Franklin of Old Philadelphia.  I already owned this particular book, because it was part of the previous program we were going to use.  It's a quality living book in its own right, and could be divided perfectly into the term's allotted readings, so it made sense to use what I had so we could start immediately.  (You may remember, we made the switch drastically and suddenly, and I was mostly using e-books otherwise until I could order the physical books.)  I had him do a few written narrations from this book, but his oral narrations for this book were usually some of the best for the week.  He may have been a little Franklin'd out after he started showing up in his other history and science readings second term, but he didn't voice actual displeasure.

We're reading the Abigail Adams biography now.  He's read a few chapters on his own, and I've read a few to him at his request.  He doesn't love it, mostly tolerates it.  The book is dense though, so it's probably better that I do read it with him so I can measure when to stop and narrate.  I am enjoying the book, so I hope my enthusiasm rubs off a little.

I decided to let him work on Y2 Geography with Emory, as they had initially asked to stay together for some subjects.  Elliott would have been using a Holling book for geography anyway, and I already had all the Beautiful Feet Books maps, so I figured this would be a good subject to combine.  This way, he will get at least two Holling books, and I only have to facilitate mapping for one book at a time.  I am loosely combining the AO and BFB reading schedules.  His maps may not be the neatest, but he says geography is one of his favorite subjects!  We've finished Tree in the Trail and have started Seabird.

He also started map drills back up.  It was one of our least favorite/most forgotten activities first term, until I remembered the AO recommendation for Seterra Geography.  He really loves this option, and loves trying to beat his accuracy and time!  It also helps to have another computer-based activity to break up his reading/writing subjects.


He does well with Storybook of Science.  Even though it's one of the easiest books, I do let him read along with the librivox recording, because I was wanting to ease him into so many readings per day/week when we first started.  We often look up videos or pictures afterwards.

He liked the Gregor Mendel biography and I did ask for a written narration for this one since it was just a picture book.  Now in Term 2, we went with the option to use our own Issac Newton biography,   instead of the scheduled option.  We're using Issac Newton: The Scientist Who Changed Everything, because again, I already owned this book.  I just altered the modifiable schedule to accommodate a reading schedule for this book.  I typically receive great narrations out of this one.  Because I had originally purchased it as part of Beautiful Feet Books History of Science, I already had the BFB guide and he has the option of matching up some of the experiments if he wishes, and we were doing this until we switched our geology books.

Now that brings us to Madam How and Lady Why.  I was reading this one to him, because it's not the type of book you just hand over.  We made it through 15 weeks, then he asked to switch.  We didn't find the book difficult; I think he was trying to like it.  We were dealing with the outdated science - but the tone of the book and the ideology propagated was just too much.  I also realized that when he got through the book, Emory would then be in Year 4 and I'd have to do it again.  His request to replace this book was based on merit, so I decided to honor it.  I realize Madame How and Lady Why represents more than you will find in any other book.  However, I did some research and found Rocks, Rivers and the Changing Earth: A First Book about Geology by Herman and Nina Schneider.

It seemed to receive positive reviews on AO's Book Substitution forum, and Sabbath Mood Homeschool uses it for their 7th-9th grade Geology.  After receiving the book, I feel like the reading level is light for that range, but it's appropriate for upper elementary and can be read independently.  He likes this book, and I am getting good narrations.  He also loves the readings that have experiments/activities included.

Language Arts

Cursive/Copywork - He does passages from books, verses from AWANA, and sometimes quotes by people he's studying.

Written Narrations - We haven't made it up to weekly, mostly because I forget, but we are doing them more frequently.  I usually have his written narration replace typing lessons and/or studied dictation for the day.

Studied Dictation - We're using Spelling Wisdom, and I really like it.  I knew I would never remember to pull passages from our literature, so this works really well for us.  He's done some formal grammar in the past, so right now I'm just pulling relevant lessons out of the dictation occasionally.


He is using CTCMath for his math lessons.  This boy also went through an "I hate math" phase for a long time, which perplexed me, because he always started the year eager to begin his new curriculum and he never actually struggled with math.  When we switched to CTC, attitudes changed drastically.  I find it compatible with CM - the lessons are short, and it's mastery based.  Reviews are now included, but they are separate lessons.  The individual lessons/questions all focus on one topic.  He is still using Xtra Math for math drills, to make sure the facts are down.  Attitudes have improved dramatically in regards to math, and he usually chooses Math first most days - even this far into the year!


Age of Fable - This had such a slow start, but we got into the actual stories, it got better.  I reading this to him, because even though the readings are very short, he needs it in small doses.  His response has been "If people were going to make up fake gods, why didn't they just make them perfect?"  We've had some interesting conversations, and I saw how someone looks up photos after each reading, so we might start doing that!

Robinson Crusoe - Don't call the CM police, but it appears we were using an abridged version, that had parts (most of his religious introspection?) removed.  It doesn't appear, however, that what remains was really simplified, as the remaining text otherwise "matched."  We still found it a stretching read, and he seemed to like the story.  By the time Emory gets to Y4, I'll also have a Y1, so I'm thinking we'll switch to the podcast version that AO users seem to enjoy, and hopefully Elliott will listen in with us.

Kidnapped - I happened to have downloaded an audio book (free or .99 probably) so I've had him reading along on the Kindle for most chapters.  We've also tried just listening, and me reading it to him.  No matter what, he procrastinates on this book and it's probably the one book he dreads; narrations are less than stellar.  I think I'm going to bump up Term 3 literature (The Incredible Journey) into the Kidnapped spot, and where we're at in the schedule, it should work out nicely as far as scheduling.  Then in Term 3, we'll read Emory's book, Robin Hood, together.  I think both the appeal and cultural value of Robin Hood make it a more desirable choice, and Kidnapped can be moved into a free read spot in a couple of years.  (I just confirmed this decision by looking over the placement of Robin Hood/Kidnapped on AO's Pre-7 booklist.)

These are other things that should be part of the Y4 schedule that we aren't doing yet, or aren't doing "exactly" as written.

Bible - We are not using their reading schedule.
Trial and Triumph - He will do the alternate church history schedule later.
Foreign Language - We dabble in Spanish, but we aren't consistent.
Latin - We just haven't made it that far.
Picture Study/Shakespeare/Music - I've shared the enrichments that we're doing with his Y2 brother
Plutarch - Hoping to start next year when he's officially in 6th grade.
Physical Activity - He is taking a basketball "class" before co-op, and as gym.  We also do our outdoor time, nature walks, and in bad weather we take brain-breaks that includes stretches, jumping jacks, etc
Co-Op - In addition to gym, he also has art and science.  That helps with both art and hands-on science that sometimes gets missed at home.
Handicrafts - We just finished up our ArtAchieve lessons (mostly drawing oriented) and we're going to be doing clay next.  He also received an electronics kit for us to review, as I thought it would be a good handicraft related to robotics - which had been his request.  He and I will be working through this.

I have made more tweaks to Year 4 than I anticipated, but I hope the heart of AO is still there.  I feel like the kids are starting to thrive on Charlotte Mason's methods, and I'm so happy to have really transitioned.

©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, March 6, 2018

Magic Stix {review}

As a parent and homeschooler, I am always looking for quality art supplies to add to our art cabinet.  Recently we were given the opportunity to review Magic Stix Washable Markers from The Pencil Grip, Inc.  This company makes our beloved paint sticks, so I was pretty confident we would like these new markers.

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All of my kids have used these markers, but my newly turned 5 year old is the most artsy of the group, so naturally I find her getting the most use out of them.  She has used them regularly for various coloring and drawing projects over the last several weeks.  Her brothers gave her one of their activity books, and it's full of pictures to color, trace and finish.  This gives her something quiet and "bookish" to do at the table while the big kids are doing school.  This book has thicker paper (somewhere between copy paper and cardstock) and it showed through on the back.  When I tested on regular paper, some colors did bleed through to the next page.  So I would suggest they are best for one-sided projects.

The markers are medium-tipped, so she can get most of the picture colored in broad strokes, but still have good control and precision in smaller spaces.

She is also learning how to read, so sometimes I print a random little activity page that corresponds to what she is learning.  It certainly livens up a lesson when she can add her favorite colors and do a little art.  As you can see, purple is her favorite color and gets a lot of use, but it is still going strong!

Another way we've used the markers is for structured art projects.  The big kids have an art program they're working through, and one project, titled "The Plate from Nepal," suggested the use of markers for the younger age ranges.  The boys did the full project, while Eleanor did the bird drawing.  The markers held up well on the paper plates and the colors didn't bleed or run when the plates accidentally got wet.

Essentially, we have found that these markers worked for all of the average coloring and drawing activities we have completed.

However, these markers come with several claims.  First, they are non-toxic and odorless.  I'm very sensitive to odors, so I don't tolerate chemical-laden cleaning supplies, scented candles, most colognes/perfumes, art supplies . . . you get the point.  I can say that I noticed no smells!  Sure, if you purposely sniff the marker there is a faint odor, but nothing obnoxious, or that you can smell with normal use.

Another claims is that they are washable.  After the purple horses shown above, we had several hand washings and a bath, and she still had purple marks on her hands.  The few stray marks on the table have washed off easily though!  I haven't seen any stray marks on clothing or other surfaces to test this any further, but I'm inclined to think clothing might need stain removal treatment to come out successfully.

The biggest claim is that they are guaranteed not to dry out for 7 days with their cap off!  This is a big deal, if you live in a household with small children who cannot cap a marker properly.  My toddler has a tendency to let caps roll away and forget about them.  The kids did test out this claim, and although I couldn't find their graph to share, the Magic Stix marker held its color vividly the entire week, while the other brand they tested against started to dry out by Day 3.

The 24-pack of markers includes a nice range of colors.  We have found it to be enough colors for my amateur artists.  The colors are bright and vivid, and color smoothly.  I also love the plastic case for storage.  It clips shut, and there is an insert that allows you to snap the markers in place.  You can find exactly which color you're looking for with this case, without dumping an entire box everywhere, and clumsy little fingers aren't cramming the markers back into a thin opening.  I can't say the case will last forever, but it is certainly more durable than the average cardboard box!

These are are quality markers, and I will likely keep our art cabinet stocked with them going forward.  The Pencil Grip, Inc. also makes our beloved Kwik Stix and Kwik Stix Thin Stix, which are tempera paint sticks that have become one of our all-time favorite art supplies.  If I were making an "art basket" for a child, I wouldn't hesitate to include products from this company, and I'm eager to see if they develop any more art supplies in the future!  For now, you can check out more reviews of the Magic Stix Washable Markers to see what other families think!

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Magic Stix Washable Markers {The Pencil Grip, Inc. 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