Monday, December 26, 2011

My wish for 2012? An organized home!


Homeschooling.  Parenting.  The girls’ outside activities.  Being a great wife.  Our Classical Conversations co-op.  Homemaking.  Working.  Living life.  All things I want or need to do. 

Truly, to get everything done I need more than twenty-four hours a day.  Or perhaps my weekend needs a weekend. 

Neither of those is likely to happen.

I attempt to organize in spurts, but it always gets worse before it gets better.   If I had five to six weeks of time that I could devote to cleaning and organizing, without any other responsibilities/activities, I could probably get the whole house done – but I don’t have that sort of time. 

Recently on the web I found 31 Days to Clean.  It looks like a wonderful program, and I love the spiritual aspect.

I fear I might need a longer than 31 days – but I intend to try.  Maybe I end up using the principles in the book and applying them to one room  or closet a month.   I’d be thrilled to have a clean and organized home by the end of 2012!

The book is available as a download for only $4.99.  You can even get it for the Kindle or Nook!

If a $4.99 book helps me get my house clean and organized, it’s worth a hundred times that. 

Who’s with me?  I need accountability.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Letters Make Words (iPad app by Barchowsky Fluent Handwriting) (TOS Review)

My girls are extremely smart,  but their handwriting is awful.  It’s not quite to the level of physician handwriting, but it’s getting close.  We’ve done handwriting programs in the past to no avail, and I sometimes wonder if it’s a motor skills issue.  I’m always looking for handwriting instruction that would appeal to them.  When I found out we’d get a chance to review an iPad app to practice handwriting, I was hopeful they’d love it.


Developed by Barchowsky Fluent Handwriting (iTunes store reflects Swansbury, Inc. as the seller, but it links to the Barchowsky Fluent Handwriting so I’m assuming it’s one and the same), Letters Make Words is a new iPad app (just released in November, 2011) and is available at an introductory price of $2.99.   The iTunes store rates this app as 4+, which means it contains no objectionable matter.

The app complements and reinforces the method used in Barchowsky Fluent Handwriting which reinforces pattern, movement and rhythm, resulting in a italic-like style. 

From the iTunes store:

Learn and teach handwriting with phonics, an app designed by a Handwriting Specialist and an Early Childhood Specialist. The purpose of Letters Make Words is to help beginning writers develop good handwriting habits for all academic and adult needs, and to learn basic phonemes.

The first screens offer suggestions of how to use Letters Make Words. Then letters are presented. The user can select any letter. Each one comprises a complete unit of instruction for that letter, a warmup pattern, the letter and a word to trace and to sound out. When a letter has a different sound depending on its usage in words, choose from either of two words. The next screen has three words to sound out with a silly sentence for the child to write on paper.

A friendly voice coaches the child to finger trace with the index finger, thereby encouraging good pencil/pen hold when actually writing. It’s the index finger that should push a pen to make marks with the greatest ease of movement.

Lowercase letters are featured. An app for capitals and numerals will follow soon. Lowercase are the ones we most need when we write, and are the easiest to form.

Letter-related warmup patterns start each unit to help the child with formations.

Starting points and directions for strokes are clearly defined, graphically and by the audio that guides a child through all finger tracing and pronunciation.

Letters are designed for ease of writing and legibility. Reversals (b for d, etc.) are never an issue with the formations used in this app.

Upon opening the app, you’re shown this screen:


Click “Begin”, and you’re given an intro with instructions on how to use the app (with the option to skip the intro).

If you prefer to  choose a particular letter to work on, click" “Choose a Letter” and you’re given  this screen from which you can choose a letter:

The student is first shown a pattern in which the letter falls, asked to trace it several times, and then shown how the letter “fits”in the pattern.


The student is then shown the letter itself and asked to trace it several times.

Then the student is asked to trace a word using that letter.



After tracing the word, students are given a short sentence and asked to practice it on pencil and paper.


It seems like a game.  Handwriting practice that seems like a game?  As Martha Stewart is fond of saying, that’s a good thing.

The letter darkens as the student traces correctly.  Great visual clue.


I wish there was a way that the app could recognize whenever a child isn’t tracing.  After the pattern tracing, the child is asked to trace whatever letter has been chosen.  The female voice leads them through tracing the letter a couple of times, but even if the letter isn’t traced the app is ready to move on and shows the “next” button.  On the screens where the child is to trace words, the first letter will sometimes cue them to start (green blinking arrow), but if the child doesn’t trace the remaining letters the app doesn’t seem to recognize it. 


I don’t think a child has to be 4 years old to enjoy this app and begin learning letter formation.  While they might not be able to take full advantage of the app, it believe it’s simple enough for very young children to start using.

This app currently only addresses lower case letter.   According to the description on iTunes, an app for capitals and numbers is planned.

The letters/patterns change color shades (darkens) as the child traces, but the whole letter/pattern changes at once and not a little at a time as it’s traced.  However, it pattern does not continue to darken of the child veers off the pattern.  If the child follows the entire pattern, the shade turns much darker by the end and they’re rewarded by a magical “ding”  sound at the end of the pattern.

Sometimes the app goes back to the main menu page after a period of inactivity.

I haven’t figured out a way to “mark” your place.

I chose to purchase a stylus for my girls to use with this app, as I think it simulates using a pencil more closely than using their fingers.

We experienced a couple of instances where the app froze.  I had to close the app and restart it, which meant starting back at whatever letter we’d chosen.


Read about Nan Jay Barchowsky, the creator of the Barchowsky method, HERE.

Read an interesting article about the history of handwriting HERE.

Get this app.  You can’t beat writing instruction for only $2.99!


Swansbury, Inc
P.O. Box 117
Aberdeen, MD 21001

Phone: (410) 272-0836
24 hour fax ordering: (410) 297-9767

Hours:   8:00 am - 5:00 pm, Eastern Time, Monday - Friday



We will continue to use this app.  Even while I’ve been finalizing this review and going back through the app on my own, Hannah has been standing over my shoulder asking when she can trace.  I’m a fan of anything that makes my girls want to practice handwriting!


To see other reviews of this product, click HERE and look for the linky tools list at the bottom of the post. For giveaways, other product reviews and other fun things, follow the 2011-2012 TOS Homeschool Crew blog at:


**Disclaimer: As part of the 2011-2012 TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I received the product referenced in this review at no cost in exchange for my fair, honest and unbiased (and not necessarily positive) review. No other compensation was received.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Vintage Remedies 4 Girls (TOS Review)

Pick up most consumable things in a normal  household and you’ll see natural and artificial flavors, dyes, chemicals, nitrites/nitrates, etc.   If you take the time to research these ingredients, it’s fairly scary what we’re eating and using on our bodies.  Then to counteract the junk that we eat (and to compensate for the good things we don’t),  we fill ourselves with even more chemicals (medicine).  As a  homeschooling mom to two very active girls, and who works part-time  outside the home, it’s hard for me to do things as  healthily as I’d like.  Add to that girls who love the taste of convenience foods and it’s an uphill  battle to make things healthy.   I welcome every little bit of help I can get.


Vintage Remedies was founded in 2005 by Jessie Hawkins, a busy homeschool mom who desired to help families learn more about healthy and natural lifestyles by offering her consulting services.   Her business was so successful it has expanded to include curricula to teach healthy living to kids – Vintage Remedies for Tweens, Vintage Remedies 4 Kids, Vintage Remedies 4 Guys, and the book we received, Vintage Remedies 4 Girls.  From the website:

Vintage Remedies for Girls teaches healthy and natural living to girls ages 7-13. Our new workbook is packed with over 200 pages covering every aspect of natural living including wellness, nutrition, herbal medicine, immunity, natural cleaning and body care, and the conservative use of valuable natural resources. Girls will learn how to identify unhealthy foods, how to create a healthy real foods menu (and prepare it for some friends!), how to make natural cleaning supplies and skin care, how to make cheese, how to grow culinary and medicinal herbs, how to create basic herbal preparations, and much, much more!

This workbook is flexible and can be used for existing scouting groups, to form new girls groups, as a homeschooling curriculum, or to create fun mommy - daughter projects throughout the year. Each of the 18 chapters includes a brief lesson on the topic, a featured project, instructions for moms or group leaders, and a selection of additional projects on the topic for in depth learning. The book also contains sample schedules to adapt for homeschooling families, scouting groups, etc as well as convenient shopping lists for each project, complete with a resource guide and tips for parents and leaders.

Vintage Remedies 4 Girls comes as a spiral-bound book containing 18 chapters, divided into three sections:

Section One:  Food, Nutrition, and Culinary Skills

  • Real Food
  • Kitchen Basics
  • Healthy Drinks
  • Snacktime
  • Sweet Desserts
  • Local Foods
  • Growing Your Food

Section Two:  Health and Body

  • Beautiful You – Naturally!
  • Immunity and Prevention
  • Coughs and Colds
  • Summertime Fun
  • Backyard Medicine
  • Aromatic Oils
Section Three:  Natural Living
  • Hospitality
  • Cleaner Cleaning
  • Green Gifting
  • Reducing and Reusing
  • A Natural Home

There are also three appendices containing further info:

Appendix One – Quizzes – include questions for most chapters (no quiz for chapters 14, 16, and 17), usually including 6 questions per chapter (the quizzes for chapters 15 and 18 contain 5 questions each).

Appendix Two - Schedules for Groups and Homeschools – scheduling info for homeschools/families (one- or two-year programs) and groups.

Appendix Three - For Further Learning – information on courses  offered by Vintage Remedies.

Vintage Remedies 4 Girls  is available HERE for $45.00.   

We did not prepare many of the recipes in the first section.  Since Sarah has food allergies, i need to research a bit more to find substitutions,  We did, however, make several of the projects in the Health and Body section (all were huge hits with the girls!), and made some  of the supplies in the cleaning section (all were huge hits with me!).   The minty foot lotion was a family favorite (at least among the girls).


I appreciate the Parent/Leader Guide for each chapter, which provides a overview of the primary purpose of each chapter, tips on presenting the chapter ideas, and a supply list for a featured project.

I like that it is a book I can give my girls to read on their own.   I also like that it’s written  in a way that makes it seem Jessie is simply having a conversation with you.

Love that Section Two emphasizes natural beauty.

I really enjoyed the section on aromatherapy.  I have a set of essential oils, but wasn’t sure what all I could do with them.  Now I have some more information.


I wish the Parent/Leader Guide appeared at the beginning of the chapter.  I also wish it included a needed supply list for the entire chapter rather than just the featured project. 

I wish Appendix Three offered resources other than simply other courses offered through Vintage Remedies.  I’d love to see books,  websites, etc. where I could find more information, but I realize that those things could be competitors, and that’s likely why nothing is included.  Lists of sites where I might purchase some  of the things used in the book would be extremely helpful, though – empty lip balm tubes, raw cocoa butter, calendula petals, etc.  Alternatively, suggestions for where to find supplies could be provided by the first use of the supply (as is done for organic shortening in the recipe for the moisturizing cleansing cream).

I wish there were illustrations.  I think.  Honesty, I have changed my mind a couple of times on this point – maybe it’s good to simply have black/white text.


Even though Vintage Remedies 4 Girls is referred to as a “workbook,” it is non-consumable.

Read the Parent/Leader Guide for the chapter before beginning the chapter.

Most of the projects in the book require adult supervision/help.


Check out the courses offered by Vintage Remedies -

Check out the other products from Vintage Remedies.

Check out Vintage Remedies’ faculty and staff.

Sign up for a free e-mail newsletter series called 8 Weeks to Real Foods.

See upcoming conferences at which Vintage Remedies is an exhibitor.

See how the company gives back  to the community.


Vintage Remedies, Inc
230 Franklin Road suite 807
Franklin, Tennessee 37064
(located inside of The Factory at Franklin in historic downtown Franklin, Tennessee)


General Questions and Comments:

Enrollment Questions and Assistance:

Like Vintage Remedies on Facebook here.


We have really enjoyed this book.  Now that our review period is over, I am planning to go back through the book and cover each chapter, attempting to do all the projects (except the recipes for which I can’t find an appropriate substitution for Sarah’s food allergies). 


To see other reviews of this product, click HERE and look for the linky tools list at the bottom of the post. For giveaways, other product reviews and other fun things, follow the 2011-2012 TOS Homeschool Crew blog at:


**Disclaimer: As part of the 2011-2012 TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I received the product referenced in this review at no cost in exchange for my fair, honest and unbiased (and not necessarily positive) review. No other compensation was received.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Fractazmic™ Cards (by I See Cards) (TOS Review)

In our home, math sometimes ends in frustration.  Working with fractions often results in tears and is considered torture.


When the TOS Homeschool Review crew was given the opportunity to review a card game called Fractazmic™ by I See Cards, I approached it with great trepidation.  Could fractions actually be fun?  Turns out they can, but sometimes you need a little extra help to make it fun.


The Fractazmic™ deck contains sixty cards - 3 suits in 3 different colors:




In addition to showing a numeric fraction, each card  also has a graphic representation of the fraction in relation to that card’s “suit”.  For example, in the 1/3 card shown below, in the twelfths suit, the twelfths are represented  by an egg carton.  Since 1/3 equals 4/12, four eggs are shown in the carton.

Fractazmic™ is meant to be played by 2-4 players,and is meant to teach kids to manipulate fractions in a fun way.  Although there are several  variations of play (meant to accommodate different age ranges), in the “normal” method of play the object is to create a “hand” that equals one, and to create as many of these “hands” before the first player runs out of cards (which signals the end of the game).  Other methods of play can be found starting on p. 12 of the free How to Succeed  in Mathematics booklet.

You can purchase FractazmicHERE – a single deck for $6.95, five decks for $30, or 10 decks for $55. 

While I’m not sure my girls would agree that “fractions are now fun!”, I think they do realize they are getting better.  What has eased the frustrations a bit is that I made a “cheat sheet” for them to use in the beginning, to which they still refer.  It’s simply a sheet that shows what equals what (i.e., 1/3 = 3/12; 1/4 = 4/16; 2/5 = 4/10; etc.).


The graphic representations of the fractions in relation to their respective suit is a great way for kids to visualize the fractions and help with conversions.

Reviewing fractions in a game format seems much less painful…er, threatening to my girls.  :)


There was some sort of professional-looking cheat sheet – maybe a  laminated one – available for purchase with the game, or at least available for download.  Mine was okay and served its intended purpose, but I think it’d be more fun and appealing to the kids to have one done in a similar fashion  as the cards.


This game not only requires basic knowledge of fractions, it also requires the ability to find common denominators.

If you,  as a parent, haven’t converted fractions lately, you too  might be initially challenged by this game!


Download the free How to Succeed  in Mathematics booklet, which includes the Fractazmic™ play variations, instructions for other math games by I See Cards, and general math success tips.

Be sure to read the reviews by the TOS Homeschool Review Crew for Pyramath, another award-winning math card game by I See Cards.

Play Fractazmic™ (and Pyramath) online!



Fax: 407-366-3343

Like them on Facebook – note their page is “Pyramath”, another great math card  game. 


I wish I could tell you that this deck of cards solved all our fear of fractions but, alas, it hasn’t - at least not yet.  I can tell you,though, that each time I bring out this deck it is met with a little less resistance, and I can tell that the girls are getting better at converting fractions – and that’s worth much more than $6.95 to me!


To see other reviews of this product, click HERE and look for the linky tools list at the bottom of the post. For giveaways, other product reviews and other fun things, follow the 2011-2012 TOS Homeschool Crew blog at:


**Disclaimer: As part of the 2011-2012 TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I received the product referenced in this review at no cost in exchange for my fair, honest and unbiased (and not necessarily positive) review. No other compensation was received.

Monday, December 12, 2011

One of those days…

hearts and flowers

I wish I could tell you that every day in our homeschooling home is hearts and roses.  I can’t.

Today was a non heart/flowers day.    Admittedly, I can attribute many of today’s issues due to my foul mood.  Today’s lengthy to –do/appointments list was a major contributor to my crankiness – too many things to do, too many places to be, too little time.

The girls key off my mood – today they were wild children.   If they weren’t outright ignoring my requests, they questioned them – which didn’t improve my mood.   Our last appointment was the final  Monday night rehearsal for the Nutcracker.  On the drive home, I advised them to get into bed as quickly as possible upon our arrival at home.  My frustration,  annoyance and impatience was clearly evident.

You can always count on God to gently (or not so gently) point you in the direction of what you need to read.

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NASB) (emphasis mine)

It wasn’t my girls who were wild children today – it was me.  It wasn’t my girls’ fault that our schedule was so packed – it was mine.  I was completely out of control.

Forgive me, Father.

My girls are already asleep.  They went to sleep bathed not in my unconditional love, but thoughts of my being annoyed.  Father, please give them sweet dreams – I’ll apologize first thing tomorrow morning.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Pitsco Medieval Machines Pack (TOS Review)

This post should be subtitled “Catapults and trebuchets and clay…oh my!!”

We are a science-loving family.  Busy homeschooling mom that I am, I love it anytime I can get more bang for my buck in our studies.  When we were offered the Medieval Machines Pack by Pitsco Education, I jumped  at the chance!  The history of siege machines,together with the science of tension, torsion, mass vs. distance, elasticity, etc., together with math to compute averages, together with critical thinking to predict outcomes…well, I was giddy.  Adding to my excitement was that this was something that Daddy could do (and enjoy!) with the girls.


Pitsco Education has a wealth of products for grades K-12 which integrate STEM (Science,  Technology, Engineering and Math) into the activities. 


The Medieval Machines Pack, which retails for $21.95, includes a trebuchet kit, catapult kit, mass plates, and the Siege Machines book.  The mass plates are for counterweights for the trebuchet kit.  The kit is targeted for intermediate/middle school-aged children.  We also received a pack of Klean Klay to make more…projectiles – more fun for the girls! 

We started with the catapult.

Punching, glueing, and various stages of “southern engineering” (as my husband calls it) followed.

Once they got the catapult together, next came the trebuchet.  They were so anxious to start, I didn’t have a chance to get a picture of the package contents. 

There followed more punching, glueing and southern engineering.  And more fun.

Have I told you about this book yet?

It is small, but mighty.  At only 32 pages, it is a wealth of information on the history of siege machines, the math and science behind them, loads of activities, and the national standards met by the activities.  Small, but mighty.  It’s available HERE  separately for only $3.95, but I think to make the best use of it you really also need the Medieval Machines pack.   The book also has a small list of resources in the back for additional info/learning – and it includes the website for one of our favorite shows  Punkin Chunkin!


The girls loved loved helping their daddy put them together.  Truth be told, Daddy loved putting them together. 

The kits provide interactive learning.  Put it together, use it, figure out how to use it differently to get a different result – wonderful.

I like how it makes learning about science and history interesting.  That’s key to loving to learn.


I wish my girls could have assembled these by themselves, but it was a little too difficult for them.  Of course, my oldest is just 6th grade, so they are a little on the younger side of the age range.   But there was still plenty of learning just helping Daddy and playing, especially with the great resources in the Siege Machines book.


Read the instructions.  Really.  If dad helps, you know he’ll want to just muddle through and try to figure it out on his own – but the instructions really are helpful, or something will get glued the wrong way, turned the wrong way, etc.

There are a few extra materials needed to construct the kits that aren’t included – nothing that’s hard to find or expensive, though.  Also, any kind of Super Glue, Crazy Glue, instant bond glue, etc. will work – we used wood glue.

The instructions say use a hobby knife for certain tasks.  My husband also recommends you use it to help get some of the wooden pieces out. 

The wooden pieces seem fairly thin, but they really are durable once it’s all put together.

My husband says he had to make “minor adjustments” in a couple of the parts for the fit (i.e., slightly shaving down a dowel, etc.), but nothing major.


The Pitsco website is an incredible wealth of ideas, including suggested learning ACTIVITIES!   Here’s one for the TREBUCHET.

Tons of other great products HERE, many of which are now on our wish list.

Check out the section of the Pitsco website just for HOMESCHOOL!

Great info at the DISCOVERY section of the website.

View an interactive digital catalog HERE.   Request a catalog HERE.


Mailing Address
Pitsco, Inc.
P.O. Box 1708
Pittsburg, KS 66762-1708
Order Toll Free 800-835-0686
Get Technical Support 800-358-4983
Call Us From Outside the U.S. 620-231-0010
Toll-free Fax 800-533-8104
Online Help Desk: Send us your question
E-mail for Purchase Orders only



Loved this kit.  Loved it.  The girls learned so much.  Since the girls have seen the Pitsco CATALOG, I’m fairly certain we’ll be buying more kits.    We’ll also never look at the show Punkin Chunkin (an annual favorite around here) the same – now we’ve made those kinds of machines!


To see other reviews of this product, click HERE and look for the linky tools list at the bottom of the post. For giveaways, other product reviews and other fun things, follow the 2011-2012 TOS Homeschool Crew blog at:


**Disclaimer: As part of the 2011-2012 TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I received the product referenced in this review at no cost in exchange for my fair, honest and unbiased (and not necessarily positive) review. No other compensation was received.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

ARTistic Pursuits – Book 1, Grades 4-6 (TOS Review)


Jokingly, I tell my friends that if I had a creative bone in my body I’d have to buy it because I sure wasn’t born with it.  I say that in jest, but for the most part it’s true.



Artistic Pursuits consists of curriculum for five levels (click on the links below to see more details on each, including sample lessons):

Preschool, Ages 3, 4, and 5 
   The Way They See It

Understand your child's art
Help your child gain skills without drawing for him/her
Informative parent pages show how to encourage creativity
Art assignments designed for preschool exploration 
Markers, watercolor, finger paint, crayons, and more!

Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Grade 
   Book 1 - An Introduction to the Visual Arts

   Book 2 - Stories of Artists and Their Art
   Book 3 - Modern Painting and Sculpture

Books at the K-3 level introduce children to the visual arts and view art through history. Colorful illustrations, art appreciation, and projects designed for young hands and minds delight students and appeal to their interests. Non-consumable. One set serves your entire family!

Grades 4, 5, and 6
   The Elements of Art and Composition

   Color and Composition

Junior High, Grades 7-8
   The Elements of Art and Composition

   Color and Composition

Senior High, Grades 9-12
   The Elements of Art and Composition
   Color and Composition

4-6 Grade, Junior High, and Senior High students learn technical skills while creating original works of art. Book One at each level provides an overview of drawing, covering the elements of art and composition. Book Two at each level provides an overview of color theory and composition. These books are non-consumable. Each set serves your entire family

Each book is available for $42.95.


We were allowed to choose which book we’d like to review,and I chose Book 1 for Grades 4-6, The Elements of Art and Composition (click the link for lesson samples and explanations) – spiral-bound, 88-pages including evaluation and bibliography.

 ARTistic Pursuits

This book gives students their first in-depth look at the elements of art in a simply written text with illustrations in pencil, marker, and scratch art, the media they will be using. The elements of art and composition are explored through American art.  It is written directly to the student to encourage him/her to work independently.  There are 16 units (with 4 lessons each) covering:

1. Space 9. The Shapes of Natural Forms
2. Line and Shape 10. Edges
3. Texture 11. Balance
4. Value 12. Rhythm
5. Form 13. Overlap
6. Form using Value

14. Depth

7. Local Value

15. Proportion, The Face

8. Contrast

16. Movement

Each unit includes Visual Vocabulary (observation), American Art Appreciation and History (master works, artists, and the time period in which the artist lived),  Techniques, and Application.   While going through this book the girls will use various art media:  ebony pencils, white pencil, black markers with point and wide tip, scratch art paper and silhouette.

The girls were excited to start.  Since only the “front” of each page is used for the lesson (i.e., when the spiral-bound book is open only the  right-hand side of the book has the lesson), it was easy to have them share and read together.  They read the introduction, and then they were ready to start with the first lesson.

This lesson was supposed to just be an outline, but obviously Hannah did much more than that.

One of their favorite assignments, of course, was drawing something from their imagination – we keep going back to that lesson again and again.  But each time I ask them to incorporate what they’ve learned so far, so I view it as a great way to review. 

The girls will get this book out on their own and work.  One day Hannah skipped ahead to the unit on Form (which includes using shading to show the form).  She read the lesson, chose a couple of honey crisp apples from our fruit bowl and drew them, then decided to color them in.

Love it when a curriculum inspires them to take initiative!


I like (of course) that the girls like it.  We moved quickly through the first few lessons, but now we’re moving fairly slowly, because they’re enjoying being creative with each lesson (which is the point of art, right?).  They aren’t doing each lesson once – when they’re done with a lesson, they usually ask if they can do it again using a different drawing (i.e.,  a different  model  for their picture, a different imaginary picture,etc.).  What’s a homeschool mom supposed to say - “no, you have  to keep moving through the lessons?”  I don’t think so.  :)

It is written specifically for the student to work independently.

You don’t to be an art expert (or even talented in art) to teach art with this curriculum.

The books are non-consumable.  

Each book can serve as art instruction for an entire year – two classes per week, one hour each.

Required supplies are clearly set out on the contents page, and divided by unit. This makes it easy to spread out the supply purchases throughout the year if necessary.

Portability.  With this book and a way to carry the few supplies that are necessary, you can have art class on the go!

On the first lesson of each unit there is an “objective”, and on the last lesson of each unit there is a “look back”.  These were great reminders for the girls of what to think about while doing the unit.


I wish I had more pictures of their artwork to show you, but they’re quite proud of them and want to save them to submit it to the Artistic Pursuits gallery.


The “Add to Cart” button is somewhat small and easy to miss (at least I missed it at first) – it can be found at the very beginning of each page and at the bottom of each page describing the individual books.

Art supplies can be expensive .  My girls love art so I don’t mind investing in the supplies, and the kits are reasonably priced.


Read about the philosophy of the curriculum HERE.

View the FAQ HERE.  Be sure to read the author’s story HERE.

Ordering information for domestic and international purchases can be found HERE.  A paper order form can be found HERE.

Art  supply packs with all the necessary supplies are available HERE.

Sign up for the newsletter HERE.

Submit artwork made using this curriculum HERE!

Find out about conferences at which you can see Artistic Pursuits in person HERE.  (Note that since  homeschool conference is over all the dates shown on this page are out of date, but I suspect it will soon be  updated to show 2012 conferences.)

See the awards Artistic Pursuits has earned HERE.  Note the TOS crew award it earned last year!


Artistic Pursuits Inc.,
2626 East 109th Avenue
Northglenn, Colorado 80233
Phone: (303) 467-0504 
fax: (208) 567-4269  



As with many products that we’ve reviewed through the crew, I wish I had started using this with the girls earlier.  The K-3 books look wonderful.   Now that we’ve started, I intend to have them keep going.  They are thoroughly enjoying it!


To see other reviews of this product, click HERE and look for the linky tools list at the bottom of the post. For giveaways, other product reviews and other fun things, follow the 2011-2012 TOS Homeschool Crew blog at:


**Disclaimer: As part of the 2011-2012 TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I received the product referenced in this review at no cost in exchange for my fair, honest and unbiased (and not necessarily positive) review. No other compensation was received.

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Monday, December 5, 2011

Words that sting…from a 9-year-old


We’ve had a crazy couple of weeks – crazy busy, that is, culminating with a ballet fundraiser (Tea with the Sugar Plum Fairy!) which required me to volunteer in the church kitchen all day Saturday.   Yesterday I was bone tired.  Add to that the cold, rainy weather, and the extent of my desire was to curl up in bed and nap.  Of course that was impossible – too many “catch up” things to do.

By yesterday evening I was a tired, cold, cranky mess.  Most of the “must do today” things on my list didn’t get done.  My feet still hurt from Saturday.  The girls were bouncing off the walls with energy, arguing with each other, and resisting bedtime.

Hannah came in to complain about her sister.  My fatigue took over and I snapped at her, and she tucked her head and retreated to her room.  Soon after I heard whimpering – she was crying.  I called to her and hesitantly she re-entered our room, but wouldn’t look at me – evidence I had inflicted heart pain on my baby.  I held out my arms and she resisted – another sign she was wounded.  Finally she approached me and the crying increased, unintelligible words spilling out amid the tears.  I gently held her face in my hands trying to calm her with words of comfort, but the tears continued.  At last she was able to communicate somewhat clearly:

“Mommy, Sarah is stubborn, and I’m stubborn, and you’re not full of grace like you usually are.”


If only I hadn’t let my fatigue control my words and actions.

If only I had used a softer tone or chosen different words.  I don’t remember exactly what I said – perhaps it was just how I said it.   Or was it the combination of words and tone that wounded my child?  I can’t remember how many times I’ve had the “watch your tone” discussion with the girls.

If only I remembered the emptiness inside when I believed it was not God’s plan for me to marry and have children.

If only I had remembered that my children are  borrowed from God.   I have them for such a brief time that every second is a precious gem.

If only.

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.  2 Corinthians 8:9

Jesus sacrificed it all for us.  He gave us grace.  Even through His fatigue, He never used cutting, hurtful words toward those He loved. 

Lord, may it be the same with me.  May I always remember to show my children Your grace.

I asked for Hannah’s forgiveness.  She graciously gave it.

I went to sleep, grieved that I had caused my sweet child heart pain, but grateful for her grace.