Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Strong Learning, Inc. - Bessie's Pillow Review

A few years ago we had the opportunity to visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.  Lydia has always been drawn to that time period in history.  We were excited to get the opportunity to review Bessie's Pillow by Linda Bress Silbert from Strong Learning, Inc.  

Bessie's Pillow (Printed - $15.00) is the story of the young immigrant girl in the early 1900s.  This is the story of 18 year-old Boshka Markman who is preparing to leave her country of Lithuania and head to America.   She is one of hundreds of thousands of Jewish immigrants who are leaving Europe to escape persecution because of the dangers so many were facing.  

Written by her granddaughter, Linda Bress Silbert, it's not just a story about a pillow.  Bessie is traveling alone, and a friend asks her to deliver a pillow to her son who had already moved to America.  He had forgotten the pillow a year earlier when he moved, and his mother wanted to make sure that he had it.  Her friend tells her that she is welcome to use the pillow along the way.  

The pillow turns out to be a huge blessing, just as the words that were embroidered on it expressed.  Bessie faces struggles in the new world she was not expecting.  She finds more strength than she even realizes she has.

She overcomes many trials.  But she knows that she must find the rightful owner of the pillow.   As she is thinking this, she has no idea where searching for him will take her, including love and marriage.

But this isn't just about a pillow.  It brings early twentieth century American to life.  You are looking at the world through this young woman's frightened eyes.  It really brings to light how much we are all alike in America.

This story was very hard to put down.  It was written for late middle through high school.  So this was a story that I read on my own.  It was a bit above Lydia's level, but she'll be able to read this soon enough.

The author's website is very amazing.  When you visit, it helps to encourage more research into that time period. Links are provided to help immerse yourself into this time period.

Also included is a teachers guide that includes links for resources to continue exploration.  It gives suggestions on how to use this story in a wide variety of subject areas for different grade and study levels.

This is a wonderful story and a great addition to both history and literature studies.  It really opens the mind to the struggles that were faced both in Europe and in America at this time period.  And how people remained hopeful through the most tragic times. Definitely take time to read Bessie's story.  

Several members of the Homeschool Review Crew were given the opportunity to read Bessie's Pillow from Strong Learning, Inc.  Please take the time to click the link below to see how they enjoyed this story in their home and what resources they also found helpful.

Bessie's Pillow {Strong Learning, Inc. Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Creating a Masterpiece - Monthly Online Art Plan Review

We had the opportunity to review the online Monthly Plan from Creating a Masterpiece.  I'm always looking for extra help in planning or do give myself a break in planning.  The Monthly Plan option has really provided me a break on lesson planning, and I have even been able to take advantage of some relaxing lessons myself.

The girls love to paint.  But sometimes their creativity hits a wall.  Or they just want to use the same mediums repeatedly.  Creating a Masterpiece has been such a wonderful addition to our weekly art lessons.

Ms. Hofer has created step-by-step detailed art lessons for a variety of ages and skill levels.  When you log in, you have a choice of several different building projects.  You can choose from Beginner level through more advanced.  We were mainly in the Beginner level projects.

The kids were easily able to choose what project that we would like to tackle that day.  The materials needed could be seen before we even clicked on the project.  All of the projects we did, needed really no extra special materials we did not already have in our art box.  Most projects require watercolors, charcoal, ink, oil pastels, or chalk pastels.  But in the more advanced levels, there are clay and even carving projects in wood included.

Each lesson has a series of videos with steps to create your own masterpiece.  They were easy to follow, and we could watch them right on our laptop.  A list of supplies needed to complete the project you selected is given.  Also any helpful tips to make your learning experience more successful are also provided.  These could be anything from how to dab your watercolor if you get too much water or even how to level out the legs on your clay statue.

Your child can choose to complete a project all at once, or they can do it over a series of steps.  Most of the projects are broken down into anywhere from 3 to 7 lessons.  Making it a lot easier to avoid frustration with those who may have attention issues.  Each lesson for a project varied in length.  Some were longer at around 20 minutes, while others were shorter.  So very manageable.

We were able to complete several projects together during the last week fews.  We completed projects using acrylics, oil pastels and even ink.  The ink I think was one of our favorite projects.

During our ink project, we were attempting to do a painting of peacock feathers.  I honestly didn't think we would have any resemblance to this project when we were finished, but the kids still thought it was cool since they were painting with ink!  Another different medium to show that art is more than markers, colored pencils and paint.

The kids have really been enjoying the projects that we have worked on so far, including the watercolor candle that we completed with oil pastels.

The ease of use with Creating a Masterpiece has been wonderful.  I literally spend about 5 - 10 minutes either searching for a project or allowing them to vote on one.  Since we keep most of the supplies on hand, it's pretty easy for us in that way.  But you could easily substitute out some of the material types, including the types of paints used.  Or even for the candle project, crayons could have been used also.

I look forward to continuing to use Creating a Masterpiece with the kids.  We were given the opportunity to use the Monthly Plan.  This runs $39.95.  It gives us access to all levels of the Creating a Masterpiece program.  That is access to 7 levels of programs from Beginners through Level 5 and also Art History.  This will provide many lessons for all art levels in your home.  If you have art lovers in your home, the content that you receive really makes this an affordable option.  Creating a Masterpiece would make a great gift for that art lover in your home.

Creating a Masterpiece also has other options available, including purchasing a single level for one year, for the cost of $119.00.  Or to save money on the monthly plan, you can purchase a full year, all access plan for $349.00.

I look forward to continuing to use Creating a Masterpiece with the kids.  Creating a Masterpiece has allowed me to sit down and actually enjoy our art class also, since I also sit down with the kids and Create my own works right alongside them.  So I can really relax and learn, instead of just being the teacher all of the time.  Caty really likes this part of using Creating a Masterpiece...... "Mommy art".

You can watch a sample video instruction on the Creating a Masterpiece website.  You can create a free account to watch a beginning lesson video.  This will allow you to get a feel for Ms. Hofer's teaching style without investing a bunch of money first.

Several members of the Homeschool Review Crew were given the opportunity to try out Creating a Masterpiece.  Take some time to click below and see how they enjoyed this program in their homes.

Creating Beautiful Art at Home {Creating A Masterpiece Reviews}
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Friday, March 17, 2017

4H Season Underway, Living History and Daily Life

Since we have finished our History book for this "school year" we are in full 4H project mode.  Having history finished has opened the door to put a lot more work into our 4H projects.  Each of them have a minimum of 5 they are working on.  They did pretty good this week.  I am combining their projects into our menu and schedule.  So it makes things run more smoothly.

This week has been a week of constant pictures being downloaded from my phone as I document every step the kids are doing on each project.  I'm trying to stay on top of this part of their projects, since I can very easily lose the pictures in files.  So I developed a system last year that helps me out.  I also create a file on my computer that I keep all of their materials in.  One for each child and it's marked with the year.  When they email their papers/research challenges for a section, they go into these folders on my laptop.  Then if something happens to a paper, I can easily print it out.   It has been a bit of a challenge to keep up.  There were a couple times this week when I had two kids doing two different cooking projects in the kitchen at the same time.  I about lost it, but we survived.

I fortunately only had 1 review this week.   We are really liking the Eclectic Foundations Language Arts - Level B program.   It's a quick review to help reinforce letters and sounds with Caty.

It's also cookie delivery week.  What a busy week...I have cases of cookies just sitting in my office screaming at me.  This is why I don't sell Girl Scout cookies....I let the girls talk me into it.

Math has been a nightmare of long division.  Joey cannot get the steps.  Brayden won't show the steps so he gets confused.  We have all 3 been beating our heads into the wall.  No matter how many videos or cheat sheets I have used....OOOHHHHHH boy!  Lydia has gotten it finally, she forgets a step here and there, so we have to correct problems.  But it got better this week.  So next week it will be on with new topics.

Lydia really likes the computer game class she is taking at a local computer school, Hack BG.  This week we lost power during high winds, so everyone went with me to BG and they ate at the Kabob place across the street while Lydia was in class.  Caty said the steak kabobs were great!


We started our next chapter in the Periodic Table.  We learned the history of how the Periodic Table was developed.  There were some fun activities that helped us explore many of the elements and how they are used in everyday life.

Dog was all nice and comfy while Lydia was researching something for her 4H projects.


They did chalk pastels of cardinals.  I printed examples for them to try and re-create.  They did this while watching a movie together.  I pulled out Good Morning Vietnam.  I had forgotten about some of the crude things in the movie, but we were able to discuss further about the police action there and how hard it was for our soldiers.

On Tuesday we had our annual Living History (Night at the Museum event).  Lydia was Beatrix Potter, Caty was Nellie Bly, Brayden was Walt Disney and Joey was Roald Dahl.  They all did a great job getting facts for their reports.

This was a video I found about Nellie Bly that Caty and I watched together.  She was a pretty amazing women.

Taking advantage of his lap desk while laying out his periodic elements cards for a science assignment.

Just a few of our cooking projects this week....

Brayden made a yogurt parfait

He did a measuring experiment showing the importance of proper measurement when cooking.

Brayden also made breakfast burritos for lunch one day.  He invited over grandma and they put out a little topping buffet for your burrito.  This was a hit.

He also learned how to make smoothies in the blender.

He also made a popcorn trail mix.

Joey - Whole Wheat pancakes

He also made pear muffins.  These were a huge hit!

Caty - Diabetic peanut butter cookies

She also made Monster Cookies to take to the stable where they ride.  If you couldn't tell she is working on our county's MMMMmmm Cookie project book right now.


Joey - Continuing Animorphs series.  He was having a hard time staying focused this week and staying on task with reading.
Brayden - Geronimo Stilton - Back in Time - The Second Journey through Time
Lydia - Still working on The Fifth Wave
Caty - a little of this and a little of that

This was a very tough week.  We made it through.  Even when I try not to over-schedule, somedays it's just overwhelming.  It was definitely hands on all week in the kitchen, but boy did the kiddos love cooking.  So I need to keep this up, even when their projects are done.  I'll have to work on that!

Hope everyone had a great week!!

Linking up with other homeschool moms at:

Weekly Wrap-Up