Friday, March 24, 2017

Fantasticon, Cooking, and Girl Scout Week



At the end of last week, we had surprised the kids with tickets to Fantasticon a few weeks ago.  It's kind of like Comicon, but on a very small scale.  They had a blast planning their costumes, it seemed like no time before the day was here and we had to get their costumes going.

 Brayden was Dry Bowser...this was harder to create.  He was very proud of his costume.


Princess Zelda

Cloud Strife

The Flash

Dry Bowser

 They loved it so much.  They started making plans for next year's costumes already.  Ugh...get started now.  Apparently the more homemade, the better!  This was the kid's costume contest entries.


 That same day Goodwill in our area was hosting a special patch giveaway for Scouts who brought in donations.  We made sure to grab a bunch from our Goodwill stash (that I always forget at home), and we took some stuff in.  Caty fell in love with this chair while we were waiting at the counter.  She was disappointed when I said we couldn't bring it home.


It was Girl Scout Week.  So we had lots of activities planned.  Daily they were doing things to earn a badge to show how much they learned to help others.

They made a poster showing what they love in Girl Scouts.

They made birds nest starters to hang in the trees.




Baked cookies and visited a beloved friend.  




Learned about hidden sugars.


Planted miniature gardens.



Lydia started her science fair project.  It's hydroponic gardening.  She started 3 different 2 liters....there are mollys in each one.





This week was a week of making progress on their 4H projects, practicing math and having a relaxed approach to school.  One of our projects was to finish pillows for hospice patients.  This is a 4H Wood County project.  We finished 20 pillows over a 2 day period.  We all worked together.  We have 20 more to finish up soon.




We celebrated Pie day...


Had Art class....


And cooked a lot!!!


These were Joey's pear muffins...they were a huge hit.  I think he forgot he was eating something healthy.


Brayden made a pasta dish that everyone said tasted wonderful!  He learned how to grate parm cheese.


This relaxed school approach was difficult for them.  I'm going to give it another week to see how things go.  I was hoping to finish out the school year this way, but it may not work out for all the kids.  And yet another flexibility that homeschool provides families.....

Hope everyone had a wonderful week!  Linking up with other moms at:

Weekly Wrap-Up




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}
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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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