Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Project-Based Learning - How It Looks In Our Home

I want to start this post with a quote from Project-Based Homeschooling that really struck me, "Project-based homeschooling isn't only about what children want to learn - it is about creating a situation where children need to learn." In a home setting the above might look like a lego enthusiast playing and creating with legos all the time. Most parents and casual observers might say, "he needs to stop playing and pick up some books to learn." What that casual observer is not seeing is what may have taken place to get to the creative stage - researching lego design, sketches, internet research, library visits, etc.

A blog that inspires me everyday holds another look into project-based learning, Teachable Moments. One daughter is pursuing a passion of baking and community service while the other daughter is an intern at an University in the Meteorology Department.

In our home project-based learning is taking place at a slow pace. Grace and her father are currently working toward participating in an art festival in May. This week Grace received pens, blank bookmarks, and blank note cards to start creating some items to sell. This will be an ongoing project with other art products to be created as well. We also purchased for her the new Sketchpad Pro software to help in these endeavors.
Book marks

Note Card

Grace has also started the process of creating a manga/anime magazine. She has been very frustrated with the fact that manga/anime has a lot of inappropriate items in the other magazines and most of the books. Her ambition is to change that. Creating manga/anime books and magazines that can be enjoyed by all ages. With our continuing Graphic Arts Communication study she is starting to grasp all the areas her artwork can take her.

If you are interested in finding out more about project-based learning (because I am still in the first steps of learning about it) you might be interested in the book below or visiting one of the blogs I mentioned above.

Linking up with Virtual Refrigerator.

Virtual Refridgerator

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Art Day Tuesday

Continuing with our current tradition, Tuesday is art day. Today was full of all kinds of creative and productive work. Even though it was art day we still read a chapter from our read aloud, A Peep Behind the Scenes, and from our devotional. Next we started on all sorts of things to ignite some sparks in Grace's art adventures.

In our Graphic Arts study Grace is in the process of putting together the layout for an Anime/Manage magazine. The above photo is the drawing that will be on her cover. She also put together a page about the current anime book she is reading with drawings and some cosplay photos of the characters.

Another Graphic Arts project is the ongoing project of creating bookmarks and note cards to be sold at an arts festival in May.

I found this book at the library yesterday and have included it with our art days. So You Want to be a Comic Book Artist is written for kids about the obvious, becoming a comic book artist. In the first chapter Grace learned some general things about the art of comics, what some of the actual terms mean (panel, gutter, balloon), and it highlighted the creator of the Ninja Turtles and how he got started in the business. She actually enjoyed reading this book so far, which is saying a lot of Grace.

Other Items of Interest From Today
We read over, studied and discussed two poems in a review we are doing on The Art of Poetry. We also read some more from When I Grow Up I Want to be an Artist and learned about wages that are earned by different types of artists in different cities around the United States. Grace created a pencil drawing of a landscape with texture for our Artistic Pursuits review (photos will be included with review next week). She also read a couple of pages from God's World News about finding the bones of Richard III and the pollution in China. Later this afternoon we will travel to co-op to attend more fine arts classes. In Art History Scott is actually teaching the class and he has put together a slide show presentation of some contemporary artists that are creating art in interesting ways. Grace is excited that in drama today she will finally get up on stage to practice her lines and big song. She will also be attending choir practice before us heading back home for the evening. Today was a wonderful morning of creating and learning in the craft she hopes to make a career as she matures.

I just linked up with the homeschool village. Go check out what other families are up to on their homeschooling adventures.

Monday, February 25, 2013

TOS Review - College Common Sense


College Common Sense is a website run by Denise Ames. Denise has worked in the financial aid office for over 10 years in a small college in Texas. She has many years under her belt of guiding students and parents through the financial pitfalls of going to college. For me it is always worthwhile to use advice given by a professional that actually works in the field they are advising. There are two ways to purchase her product, Going To College and Paying For It. The dvd and workbook retails for $50.00 plus shipping which will come to you as a physical product. The online video and workbook retails at $25.00 for a 12 month subscription. The online workbook will come to you as pdfs. The online/dvd course includes the following seven sections:
  • Introduction
  • The Big Picture
  • How Financial Aid Works
  • All About the Free Money
  • The System that Works
  • You in the Process
  • Pull It All Together

PhotobucketWith this course Denise walks you the parent and student through every step of paying for a college education. Everything from filling out the FAFSA application, applying for scholarships, organizing all your information up to working to pay you way through college and loans. Each of the above videos runs 15-25 minutes. The corresponding workbook/pdfs also include activities and lessons for your student to perform on a weekly or monthly basis depending on age and grade level. When I was helping my son fill out the FAFSA application a couple of years ago I definitely could have used this product. For me the application was very confusing. The $25.00 - $50.00 I would have spent on this product would have been well worth the money just for the advice to fill out the application.

Even if you are hesitant about purchasing the product please visit the website. Denise offers a free newsletter and free lessons that could benefit all students. I found the videos easy to watch and listen to, with loads of valuable information. She brought up many points and questions to present to colleges that I had never even though to ponder. According to the website this product is recommended for Elementary - High School. Personally for me I probably wouldn't start using it until middle school. It is also recommended to renew the subscription yearly. I do agree with this for 9th - 12th graders. This way the information will be fresh in their minds on a yearly basis and all the advice would become second nature. This product really struck a chord with me as being a very applicable way of conquering the path to a higher education. Currently Grace is in the 8th grade and thoughts of college are starting to roll around in each of our heads. At this point in time Grace is not very interested in attending college but the videos and lessons have instigated many conversations between us about how to start preparing for college. Be sure to visit College Common Sense to find all sorts of links, information, and products to purchase.

Hop over to the Tos Review Crew to see what other reviewers thoughts were about College Common Sense.

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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Beautiful Day - Hiking to Duke Creek Falls

Today turned out to be a beautiful day in the North Georgia Mountains. We live in a wonderful area that has many choices in the hiking arena. I encourage anyone that lives near North Georgia to take a day trip and take advantage of them.

The trail going down to the falls was about a mile on a very easy path. At 60 degrees with the tree coverage and water nearby it was a little chilly.

After a good bit of rain over the past couple of week the falls were beautiful and full.

This was actually very interesting. Looks like the spindles were chewed by beavers. We had a lovely time in the beautiful sunshine and spending time together as a family. The added benefit was getting our daily exercise in such a wonderful setting.

Spring is Coming

Believe it or not Betty went broody almost three weeks ago. At that point I was like "Really" it had just reached the first week in February. Too cold to be sitting and raising babies. She is relentless and all the other chickens started laying like there was no tomorrow. I am getting 6-8 eggs a day right now. In two days time I collected 9 eggs for her to sit on. So in about 19 more days we will have baby chicks again. The hatching process and raising baby chicks never gets old. The miracle of life is amazing to watch. Of course if all 9 hatch that will put us at our max with about 25 chickens in the backyard. All of these chicks will be Buffs and all boys will be harvested at four to six months of age depending on their size. We already have two roosters that do not get along. Luckily the smaller of the two can jump the fence and hang out in the front yard all day until roosting time. Spring here we come.

Creek Edge Press - Art and Artists Task Card Sets

Art and Artists Task Card Sets I, II, and IIII started researching the company Creek Edge Press over a year ago. Creek Edge Press Task Card Sets is what really caught my eye. This looked like a very interesting way to have kids follow a scope and sequence in a chosen topic, research it, then write summaries and create projects about the information they learned. The task card set that really excited me was, Art and Artists Task Card Set. You see, my daughter Grace is very artistic. She wants to work in the field of art as an adult. I am currently trying to fill her world with all things art, working on her strengths and passions as much as possible. When I contacted Amy Kate Hilsman, the author of the product, she graciously sent me the Art and Artist cards to review.

A little background about the task card system will begin this review. The task card approach of learning leans heavily on three methods of education: Classical, Charlotte Mason, and Montessori. Many of the assigned tasks are open ended which encourages the child to research and think. The instruction booklet states, "The focus is on investigation and the experience of discovery." Some students may feel overwhelmed with this approach and need an adjustment period to get a handle on how it all works. Something I found was that in the beginning I had to sit with Grace and show her the process and how to actually "do research". As time has progressed she is doing more and more on her own. Amy Kate recommends placing the task card in the learning environment with all the needed materials. The task cards are meant to be used one per week, but can vary according to your child's ability and schedule. Amy Kate states, "Most 3rd - 12th grade students should be able to complete 95 - 100 percent of the tasks independently." I will now move on to the actual product.

The Art and Artists Task Card Sets come with three sets of task cards and instruction guide. This package currently retails for $36.00 and will cover three years of art instruction for elementary through the high school student. There is even enough material for a high school student to use as a fine arts credit on their transcript. Each set is comprised of 32 cards which theoretically will cover 32 weeks of art instruction. The first set of task cards is an Introduction to Art. Topics included range from painting to photography and everything in between. The second set of cards is an Art History Survey, while the third set is Featured Artists. Below I have included an example card for each set.
Task Cards Pack 1

Task Card Pack 2

Task Card Pack 3

Here is a list of the types of tasks you will find in the sets:
  • Encyclopedia research
  • Further reading
  • Define
  • Internet activity
  • Map Work
  • Ongoing Art and Projects
  • Picture Study
  • Summarize
  • Posters
  • Collages
  • Lists
  • Timelines or Book of Centuries
The guide book that is included with the cost of the cards is invaluable. All the information for implementing this in your home is in detail. Also included are lists of needed books, supplies and recommended resources. In the very back of the guide book is High School objectives if you wish to give this work a fine arts credit for your student. 

I am so excited to be using this with our daughter. Using this product for the full three years I feel she will have a great background in art. Currently we use the product 2-3 days a week and are able to get through one task card in that time frame. When I was in school I didn't really have the opportunity or interest to study a lot of art. I feel so blessed to be learning alongside my daughter with this program. Anyone who has ever wanted to put together their own comprehensive art study can now stop and go purchase this one. All the work is already done for you at a great price. Three years of art study for $36.00 plus shipping. 

Please go visit Creek Edge Press and see all the wonderful products they offer.

Disclaimer: Creek Edge Press graciously sent me this product at no cost to me for my honest review. All opinions are mine. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Zumba Party for the American Heart Association

Today I attended a 2 1/2 hour Zumba party to raise funds for one of our local hospitals. I am Zumba tired. Feel like I ran a marathon. Raised 1200.00 with 190 attendees. Had a great time and will sleep well tonight.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Linking Up With Weekly Wrap Up and It's a Wrap

Graphic Arts Study

Topics of Study and Interest This Week
World War II
Minoan Bull Leaping 
Abraham Lincoln
Periodic Table
Graphic Arts
Drawing, Drawing, and More Drawing
Area of a Circle
Poetry Study
Paragraph Structure

Classes Attended
Art History
Mixed Media Art Class
Beginner Essay Writing

Continuing Projects
Creating note cards and book marks for art festival coming up in May
Graphic Arts Communication Unit Study
Drawing Manga Digitally with new Software

Reviews We Are Working On
Art of Poetry
Essentials in Writing
Artistic Pursuits
College Common Sense
Art Task Card Set

Mixed Media Art Class
  1. Photo: Celebrating Diane Knecht's birthday!
    Celebrated a Birthday

    This week my attitude toward teaching school to Grace has changed dramatically. Not so worried about cramming her mind full of history and science facts that she won't remember by the next week. Looking now for a real connection between her and what she works on. 

    Favorite Learning Experience This Week
    This week I will have to say that the Graphic Artist Communication Mini Unit from Easy Fun School

    Be sure to visit Kris at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers for other Weekly Wrap Ups  and Savannah at Hammock Tracks.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Birthday Dinner

  • Celebrating @[1026582519:2048:Diane Knecht]'s birthday!
    Had a great night tonight with the family for my birthday dinner. Of course turning 46 was not so fun but it is better than not turning 46. After eating all this pizza and cake I am so full. Kind of wish I could go do a Zumba class in about an hour. Thinking I will go upstairs to my own home made gym and work some of these calories back off.

Graphic Arts Study Continue

Today we continued working in the Graphic Arts mini unit study and I think I actually saw a spark of an interested child today. That is really saying something for Grace. I can count on one hand since coming home from public school in 2nd grade the education sparks that have occurred. People may think I am exaggerating but I am totally telling the truth. This morning we printed out the photos of the products she chose at the grocery store to break down graphically. We decided to stay with one type of food (packaged cookies) to make it easier. Once you start breaking down the background, chosen colors and font, graphics or pictures - you start to realize the methods behind what the graphic artists do. Researching color on the net gave us a plethora of information on what each color represents and why it is chosen. Color choices are hugely important to any product, campaign, etc. Grace made the statement and I agreed that after doing this study it will make us look differently at all the products in the stores and how the packaging came about. The project for today is to create an imaginary food product and then create packaging for it from what we learned today and observed in the grocery store yesterday.
Grace started the project but is still working on it. I think she will do it digitally with her new Sketchpad Pro software. Grace decided on a healthy soft drink as her creation. As soon as we are finished I will post the finished product.
The next graphic arts project will be to create a magazine. I picked up the two books in the above picture at the library today to help accomplish this project. I am quite positive that Grace will chose to create a manga/anime magazine. She is always frustrated with the fact that every manga/anime magazine she comes across has too many inappropriate items in it to actually purchase.
Today Grace also attended her favorite art class with her absolute favorite art teacher. On today's agenda was portraiture. When I came in to pick her up what is normally a very loud bunch of kids...but today you could hear a pin drop as everyone was concentrating on their work.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

More Thinking Out of the Box for Schooling

Yesterday was our day of art in school. The afternoon classes at the cooperative consisted of Drama (practicing for Aladdin), Choir, and Art History. In the morning before cooperative I set up a (what I hope) interesting morning of art that also kind of trickled into today. Here is some of the things we did:

Read and studied two poems from The Art of Poetry. This is a TOS Review Crew item we are reviewing and the review post will be up in March. We did read a chapter in our read aloud from A Peep Behind the Scenes. We keep hoping this one will stop being such a depressing book, but so far the hits just keep coming. Devotions were also taken care of through the Who Am I series from Apologia. Once we finished these three items we jumped into our art stuff.

Grace did some reading and drawing from her two books Artistic Pursuits (another TOS Review Crew product) and Keys to Drawing. The Keys to Drawing had her draw something mechanical and only concentrate two areas of the object to draw intricately then just contour for the remainder of the shape. Artistic Pursuits has us working on texture which is tough for Grace. I keep challenging her more and more with her drawing to help stretch her talent.
We read about two artists from the I Want to Be An Artist e-book. The first was a sketch artist that worked or a newspaper by day and illustrated children's books by night and weekend. The other artist was a graphic designer. I decided to take the graphic designer aspect and kind of run with it. So I found a mini unit study online about graphic arts design. We discussed what a graphic artist is and what kind of mediums they would work in. Today we took that a step further and did two activities from the unit study that can be found here at Easy Fun School.

  1. "Look at some food products in a store. What's printed on the packaging? What color is most dominant on the packaging? Sharpen your graphic designer's eye? What color or typefaces are pleasing"?
  2. "Visit your local grocery store or other marketplace and make a list of five product designs that you like and five that you don't like. What do you or don't you like about them"?
Tomorrow will we work on the next step which is creating our own package for a real product based on what we learned from the packaging we saw today in the store.

We also visited the big library today and found some books about lettering, calligraphy, and drawing manga digitally. I also put many books on hold about graphic art that I hope to put to good use during this unit study. Of course the minute we go home Grace retreated to her room to try out the new Drawing Manga Digitally book. 

Yesterday we also discussed starting back with her mini business of making note cards and bookmarks to sell at art festivals. We searched around on Amazon and found what she needed to make this happen and it should all arrive tomorrow. Below you will see what we ordered:

50 Blank Greeting Cards & Envelopes 5x7 A7 WhiteWhite Blank Bookmarks - 35 per pack

I hope to start a series of posts in the next few days about Teaching School Outside of the Box. Some of the topics I will be covering are: health, fitness, current events, history, science, life skills, art, project based learning, cooperatives, service and volunteering, and Bible and devotions. I by no means think I am an expert, but I do find that as years go by Grace learns and I teach out of the normal realm of what most people would view as education. Each child is different and each child needs a different path. This just happens to be our path.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Guest Blogging

Today I am guest blogging over at The Usual Mayhem about art journaling and education. Please hop over and take a look. The Usual Mayhem is authored by Eddie a fellow crew member. I really enjoy reading her blog and she is such a sweet soul. She is also a lover of Little House on the Prairie, just like us.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Incorporating Healthy Eating, AKA Life Skills, Into Your Homeschool

During the week we have no time to learn life skills. I decided this weekend that had to come to an end. In the fall we were studying chapters from a great book , Vintage Remedies, but for some reason after four chapters we just stopped. This great book has been sitting on the shelf very lonely. Today we read chapter five, "Sweet Desserts!", and prepared one of the recipes. I would like to include some things we learned in this chapter:

Eating desserts every once in a while is okay, just don't make it an every day occurrence. 

Many desserts contain bad ingredients like refined sugar and white flour.

The term "rich" desserts actually came from years ago when the cost of butter, cream, and sugar cost too much money to use on a daily basis. "Rich" desserts were only prepared on special occasions. 

The fifth chapter from Vintage Remedies gave us four recipes to choose from and of course we wanted chocolate, so brownies it is. White sugar was replaced with a sugar/stevia mix, while white flour was replaced with whole wheat flour. Also the sugar mixture was reduced and honey was added for a healthy sweetner. Grace likes to eat her brownies, cookies, etc. warm, so she tasted right out of the oven. She gave a thumbs down. Not sweet enough and a bit dry. Both myself and hubby thought it wasn't too bad. Definitely something I would eat as an afternoon snack.

I hope to continue working us through the Vintage Remedies book over the next couple of months. The next chapter is Local Foods. This chapter has some wonderful field trips recommendations for local farms, etc. If you would like more information take a hop over to Vintage Remedies and check out all the wonderful products they have available.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Weekly Wrap Up - Valentine's Week

This week seemed to be all about the Valentines. On Monday we attended a Valentine's Party at a good friend's house. We visited with some great home schooling moms and ate lots of great treats. 

Wednesday saw us at another Valentine's Party that we hosted at an assisted living home. That was
very rewarding and fun. All the residents were so nice to us. 

On Monday all I scheduled for school was art. Grace did some art projects out of two books we are reviewing and we read about an children's book illustrator's life. How she got started in the business, etc. The above picture was from another art lesson she did yesterday.

Some of the subjects we learned about this week were, in no particular order:
World War II
Area of Polygons
Who Am I Devotions
Early European Villages/Stonehenge
Roger Williams and Deciphering Codes
Olympic Peninsula 
Prepositional Phrases
Seals and Sea Cows

Classes Grace Attended:
Mixed Media Art
Art History
Beginner Essay Writing

Other Activities:
Hosted party at assisted living facility
Attended another Valentine's party
Attended Worship Service and Performed with Acts of Faith

What We Read this Week:
Grace finished Maximum Ride Graphic Novel Series
Read Aloud is A Peep Behind the Scenes
God's World News
When I Grow Up I Want to Be An Artist - Children's Book Illustrator
Teen Vogue - Grace is crazy about fashion now

Our Favorite item we used this week was God's World Magazine. I have Grace read a couple of pages a day to learn about things from the past and current world events through a Christian Worldview.
Linking up with Kris over at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

I am also linking up with It's a Weekly Wrap at Hammock Tracks.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Grace's Art Project

This morning Grace worked on a project for our Artistic Pursuits review. I know I am her parent, but pretty proud of her artistic abilities.

Happy Valentine's Day

When I got up this morning I found this. Hubby is not real big on grand gestures, so this was a real surprise. Plus how in the world did he do this at 4 a.m. and not wake any of us up.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Hosting a Valentine's Party

4:12 Ministries did such a wonderful job today hosting a Valentine's Party for a local assisted living home. They performed some music, brought cards and food to hand out to the residents, and visited. The residents were so appreciative. I think this may turn out to be a long term service for our group. There were some real connections made today.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Fellowship and Fun

Yesterday we had the pleasure of visiting a close friend and join in with some good old fashioned fellowship. Everyone brought delicious treats and all the kids made home made Valentines to swap. All moms were home schoolers and it was great to talk and share. I meet lots of new people. I just wanted to share this photo of Grace in her Valentine's dress. She thought she looked to girly but I thought she looked precious. Other than church not many dresses worn these days. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Tailoring Your Lessons to Suit Your Child's Strengths and Passions

Most of my long time readers know that Grace is crazy about drawing. It is how she spend most if not all of her free time. Grace wants to be an artist when she grows up. At this point she doesn't really know what that will look like, maybe graphic arts, or illustrating or just selling her own stuff. I have talked many times before about Grace's aversion to all things academic. We have fought this since 2nd grade. I even asked her a question yesterday to ponder, "What would you study if left to your own devices?". If you could pick anything to study and run with it what would it be. She gave me a blank stare and said "nothing". She said she was fine with me assigning her things and just doing them for the sake of getting through it. To me that just seems like such a sad way of making your way through the educational years. I had already decided with her passion for art that one day a week we would only "do" art. Today was that day. We had a couple of hours free this morning before going to a friend's house this afternoon for some fellowship and food. In the above picture is a few of the items we are using for our art day. Drawing with Children and Keys to Drawing are two books I am using in combination with a review for Creek Edge Press that will be posting later this month. Also in the pile is Artistic Pursuits that I am reviewing for the TOS Review Crew and that will post in March. 

Next I came across some very interesting e-books available through School House Teachers for free if you purchase a subscription. Of course the one above simply screamed at me, "Hey look at me". Some of the materials in the e-book are too young for our needs but the artist segments about true life artists and how they came to this career are really great reads for someone like Grace. 

Here are a few samples of some of the sketches she has done with the above books. She gets very frustrated with realistic drawing. She has spent so many years in the realm of anime, manga, and cartooning that we are trying to spread her wings and challenge her in other areas of drawing. Even though we use a couple of the above products more that once a week, I will definitely continue to schedule a few hours of art each week at home to help fuel her passion. Of course this doesn't even include her anime club she attends once a month, a mixed media class and an art history class once a week.