Monday, May 22, 2017

Review: Thin Stix 6 pk of Classic Colors

I have lots of memories of painting as a child.  I'm not sure how often we did that in school, but it seemed pretty often to me :) When I was growing up the teachers had to mix the powdered tempera paint with water to get our paint.  I'm sure that wasn't easy for them to get the right consistency and texture.  My mom was a school teacher and I remember watching her mix the paint and the tempera dust going everywhere.  I know that she would have loved an easier way to give her kids no mess art supplies.  Jump forward to now and The Pencil Grip, Inc. has come up with a great new tool for painting.  Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors are solid tempera paint sticks.  NO WATER needed for painting with these.  All you do is uncap, paint and wait 90 SECONDS for them to dry.  As you use them you just need to twist them a little to move the stick and you've got plenty of solid paint to continue your projects.

The classic color set was nice because it had your basic colors you'd use for most project.  Included in the package was yellow, red, green, blue, brown and black.  We did a few little projects with these and they worked really great.  The colors are so vibrant!  My 10 year old worked on his presentation board for his 4-H Activity Day presentation.  He was talking about karate, so he used the Thin Stix to color in the belts he had on his board.  He used the yellow, orange, green, brown and black!  He also received a Grow-a-Frog for his birthday recently. It's about 95% transformed from the tadpole to a frog.  He decided to draw a picture of Bob, the frog :)  

We tried coloring some rocks, but we realized after we were done that the rocks were shiny, so the paint didn't stick (LOL) We also did a few other misc. craft projects and the sticks worked well for all of them.  We used paper and poster board for most of our projects.  My 15 year old tried them for a project she was working to complete.  She was coloring in circles and had drops coming off the circles. She felt it was a little hard to get right close to the edge of the circle. She also said it was hard to do the drops.  She said she would have loved it if there were a way to have a finer tip on these, like a marker.  She really liked the colors and short drying time.  One thing I noticed was that they seem to last a good bit of time. We did several projects and I felt like we hardly used any of the sticks.  It doesn't seem that it takes much to cover the surface you want.  I also really liked how quickly they dried.  I can't tell you how many times my kids have painted over the years and I had to try and  find flat surfaces in the house to put the pictures on to dry (LOL) With the Thin Stix you can paint whatever you want and it's dry in under 2 minutes!! The drying time is a HUGE bonus when you have younger kids or are doing art that is going to travel.  The other nice thing is not needing water.  We've had many times where one of the kids has bumped the table and the icky paint water has gotten knocked over.  We've had many a project that got damaged due to water being spilt.   I don't know a mom around that wouldn't let their kids do more art if there were LESS mess! :) These are great for kids of any age and there is virtually NO mess.  They are also NON-TOXIC which is important to most moms that I know.  It's nice to have a product that you feel safe letting your child use!  I don't know a mom around that wouldn't let their kids do more art if there were LESS mess! :)

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  • No Mess Art with Thin Stix Classic Colors {The Pencil Grip, Inc. Reviews}

    Sunday, May 21, 2017

    Graduation Day 5/20/17

    Can't believe that graduation day has come and gone! Hard to imagine that we have graduated our first child. Where have the years gone?? Seems like just yesterday that we were starting on our school journey. Has it really been that long since we started kindergarten? I'm so incredibly proud of our son. He is turning into such a find young adult.  He amazes me constantly with his ability to fix and build things.  I'm also proud that he started on some college classes this past year and already has 12 credits under his belt. I know that he's going to do amazing things as he continues his journey.  He's taking the summer off from school and will continue to work his full time job as well as do odd jobs.  I can't wait to see what he does next!

    Friday, May 19, 2017

    Review: Captain Absolutely

    I grew up in the age of comics and remember how popular they were with the kids. I think it was the small amounts they actually had to read compared to the wonderful graphics! Focus On The Family has come up with a wonderful book,  Captain Absolutely.  This book is based on the character from the  Adventures in Odyssey series. 

    This book is a wonderful book for any child that is interested in adventure as well as some of the reluctant readers that we might sometimes have.  Our oldest hasn't really enjoyed reading on his own ever :( It makes me sad, but he's just like his father (LOL) When he was younger and I was trying to entice him into reading I had several people suggest comic books.  Captain Absolutely is just the kind of book that I would have gotten for him! When I opened to package and saw the colorful graphics on the cover I knew our youngest would enjoy this book. We start off the book with Josiah King being involved in an explosion in the library.  He takes cover with the Bibles and soon reads the Bible for his first time. Due to radioactive fumes being in the room he is turned into a superhero!! He is now Captain Absolutely and must defend the truth of God and battle the villans of the world.  Some of these villans include Dr. Relative, Farmer Vile, Fear Chemist, Baron Von Confuser and others. As Captain Absolutely fights these enemies he shares the world of God.  I really love how biblical truths and scriptures were shared throughout this book.  Some of our favorites were: 
    * God wants us to show love and mercy
    * The one who sows injustice will reap disaster
    * The Lord is my strength
    * I have faith that God is in control.  
    * I may be confused, but as long as I follow God's direction, I will never be lost
    * God, guide me with your truth
    * Man sees what is invisible, but the Lord sees the heart.
    * The Bible says that love "does not keep a record of wrongs."

    There are so many wonderful principals in this book and the kids are absorbing them as they read.  Anytime we can get our children to read God's word they will be blessed and this is a wonderful way to get some of those biblical teachings into their minds.  Focus on the family has made it their mission to help parents teach their children about God.  They have filled their website with articles, podcasts, magazines etc.  Captain Absolutely is just another tool in their toolbox to help parents equip their children to live the best life possible.  

    We truly enjoyed reading Captain Absolutely as we prepared for bed each night. Our youngest who is in 4th grade could have read this on his own as well. I think the book could easily be for many ages.  If you are interested in more information about the book or  Focus On The Family check them out on their social media pages.    

    Captain Absolutely {Focus On The Family Review}

    Wednesday, May 17, 2017

    Review: Homeschool Rescue

    I think every homeschooling mom has felt she needed rescuing at some point. When you first jump into homeschooling you are full of excited and thrilled to be on this new journey. We often have blinders on and don't realize how hard it really can be.  We don't expect to stress about curriculum, stay up at night wondering if we are teaching enough or the right things.  That is why Only Passionate Curiosity has come up with the  Homeschool Rescue program.  Often we think we are the ONLY ones that are going through a situation and it's wonderful to know that most homeschooling moms have gone through it as well. We all need support, but homeschooling moms need an extra bit of support I believe. Everyone loves their kids, but it's not always easy to be with them 24/7 and be the one teaching them.  We don't often think about what we do when we are sick, or one child is sick and we have two others to teach.  We chose to homeschool  because we want to do it and we love it. The extra support is always appreciated. One thing that I don't think most moms think about is that you have to take care of yourself! If you aren't in a good place then you can't take care of your kids. Heather reminds us time and time again in this program that we have to take care of ourselves. Another thing that is great about this program is Heather is a homeschooling mom! I know that may seem strange to point out, but often we have people telling us how to do things and they don't do it themselves. It's wonderful to have a veteran homeschooling mom sharing her experiences.

    Homeschool Rescue will help you "Breathe new life into your homeschool." When you purchase Homeschool Rescue you will receive the following:

    • Lifetime access to 20+ Video Lessons (audio and transcripts also available) to listen to at home or on-the-go
    • Printable Workbook Assignments for every video
    • Resources for Homeschooling Success
    • Ongoing Support from Homeschool Parents who Understand
    • Bonus Content (which we add to regularly)

    I know you might have noticed that there are assignments :) Don't stress out and think you can't do the program because of this. The assignments are fairly short and simple to do.  They are mostly there to get you to dig deep and help make YOUR homeschool better! If you feel the assignment isn't really for you then you are free to skip it. One example is there is a sheet on helping you get a cleaning schedule. If you already have a great schedule/plan that works for you then you could skip this.  Most of the worksheets are very beneficial and doing them can only make your life better.  Heather constantly tells us that we need to help ourselves, that if we are dealing with a situation we need to fix that first and honestly she's telling us to give our self GRACE.  You may know you need to do these things, but when you hear it from others it sometimes sticks better :) Here are just a few of the assignments that were close to my heart :)

    I really think these brain breaks will work great with our youngest. We are putting them on large popsicle sticks and will let him randomly chose one when he needs it.  

    The modules are FULL of support, helpful worksheets to help get yourself and your homeschool on track.  

    I know I have struggled with which curriculum are best for my children. When my children have different learning styles how do I approach teaching them? I've struggled for years with the balance of housework and schooling. We can have a great school week, but no cleaning gets done. The house looks wonderful, but we were lax in school. It feels so wonderful to know that I'm not the only one out there that feels that way! Heather has such a wonderful soothing voice that when I listened to the modules I just felt like she was sitting there with me having a conversation. She lets you know right up front if there is anything major going on in your life that it might not be the best time to make major changes in your homeschooling. I loved hearing that it's OK to give myself grace and sometimes just let things slide. It's ok to not hang on to all the curriculum because maybe it's causing me more heartache than good. 

    There are two options available with the program:

    If you think you might need a little support, motivation or even a kick start to your year check out Homeschool Rescue. You will be greatly blessed with the information and support that you receive.  More information can be found on their social media pages:


    Google +

    Also check out what the other crew members thought:

    Homeschool Rescue {Only Passionate Curiosity Reviews}

    Monday, May 15, 2017

    Week Ending 5/13/2017

    I can't believe the year is coming to an end! I also CAN'T believe we have a son graduating high school in just a few days! Where has the time gone? He was our first child, first to start on the homeschooling journey and I'm sure the first to deal with many issues as we learned about homeschooling :) I have regrets because he's never really been a "book" kid, but I just didn't realize or change my thought soon enough. 

    I've watched him building trailers for lawnmowers, try to build a trebuchet and learn to work on cars. I'm not sure there is anything he doesn't know how to do on a vehicle at this point! His plans after high school were to include something in computers. I've watched him this year take a few classes and do well in them all. He's taken four classes this year and has gotten 3-A's and 1-B. I have to admit I wasn't sure how he'd do, but knew that he had to navigate those waters himself :)I'm so proud of him and excited to watch him accept his diploma this week and continue on in his studies in the Fall.

    It's hard to think of our youngest going into 10th grade in the Fall. Before we know it she will be graduating! The youngest will be in 5th and soon we'll only have middle and high school kids. Where have the years gone? I'm so thankful for this time with my children and I wish often that I could go back and start it again. I'm so proud of all my kids as we approach the end of the school year and am excited to see where they all go in life :)

    Tuesday, May 9, 2017

    Thankful Tuesday 5/9/17

    I'm thankful today for the Homeschool Review Crew! I've only been on for a few months, but we've gotten to try so many things that we wouldn't have been able to otherwise! Today we got two great items in the mail that I'm super excited to try.  I have not had experience with Hewitt Homeschooling before, but from what I've seen this looks like Issac will enjoy it.  We also got the Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series. Our middle read one of them in a book club, but I'm super excited to delve into these.

    Review: High School Essay Intensive

    Homeschool parents are always asking each other for curriculum advice! Who better than other moms to give advice about how programs work.  I've always struggled with writing and therefore I don't feel I've excelled in that area with my children.  When the conversation comes up about who to go to for writing help Institute for Excellence in Writing is always the number one that is talked about!  I have a son graduating this year and another child that is a freshman.  They are totally different people, struggle in different areas as well as excel in different areas.  The oldest will do the bare minimum to get by because he doesn't see any reason to write (LOL) Those are his words and not mine! Our daughter has much more imagination, can easily come up with topics to write on, but doesn't necessarily know how to rein herself in :) I thought High School Essay Intensive might be great to help her learn the best way to set her writing up for success.

    We aren't suppose to judge a book by it's cover, but quality materials ALWAYS catch my eye.  The box the kit is in is super sturdy and I instantly loved the portable wall for the essayist that is included.  Anyone that has homeschooled multiple children knows that you want a product that will hold up for years! We homeschoolers like to use our products to death and then sell them or pass them along to friends.  The portable walls for the essayist is made from thick quality paper and includes tons of information. It gives a description of different types of essays, how to determine your length, what the writing process is as well as strategies for the ACT & SAT. The kit includes 5 dvds which are 6 1/2 hours total in length.  The case also contained information on out to access free streaming at the Institute for Excellence in Writing website.  That was a nice "extra" to have!  There is so much information on the disks, so I've included a breakdown for you to see.  

    Part 1A: General Strategies for Essay Writing: Length and Structure
    • Initial Exercise
    • A Hurt and Rescue Operation  
    • What is an essay?
    • Two Questions Writers Need to Ask
    • Translating Assignment Length to Paragraphs
    • Types of Paragraph
    • The TRIAC Paragraph Model
    • Essay Models
    Part 1B: General Strategies for Essay Writing: Invention and Style
    • Canons of Rhetoric
    • Invention
    • Practicing Common Topics of Invention
    • Practice with TRIAC Outline
    • Style
    • Sentence Patterns
    • Literary Devices: Schemes and Tropes
    • Practice with Sentence Openers and Figures of Speech
    Part 2: Understanding and Preparing for the New ACT® Essay
    • ACT General Guidelines
    • The Assignment
    • Strategies for Planning
    • Strategies for Writing
    • Strategies for Proofing
    Part 3: Understanding and Preparing for the Redesigned SAT® Essay
    • General Guidelines
    • The Assignment
    • Annotating
    • Handy Annotation System
    • Annotating Practice
    • Strategies for Planning
    • Strategies for Writing
    • Using Effective Vocabulary
    • Strategies for Proofing
    Part 4: Strategies for the Personal Essay
    • General Guidelines
    • Sample Essay Prompts
    • Strategies for Planning: Pop out from the Crowd
    • Strategies for Writing, Editing, and Proofreading
    • A Not-So-Secret Secret     
    • Final Practice
    • Concluding Comments
    • Last Bits of Advice for Life

     The dvd's are enclosed in a beautiful leather case with the IEW logo on the front. The case made me want to keep all the dvd's in it and not leave them scattered around like we sometimes manage to do (LOL) Everything relating to IEW just screams quality. There is even a cutout in the book for the dvd case to sit in.  That might not mean much to some, but I loved that! Then I'm not trying to figure out how to put it all back in the box, so that the box isn't bulky (LOL) It's the little things in life sometimes that can make me happy.  

    I decided to sit down and listen to the videos with my daughter. I've never felt I was a great writer, so I figured I could only get better by watching the videos :)  I really liked how Andrew Pudewa is so passionate about writing.  If the teacher isn't excited then the student doesn't have much of a chance.  That is NOT the case here.  Mr. Pudewa is very open and down to earth on the videos and I really enjoyed listening to him.  He doesn't come across as knowing everything and being above the students.  He seems very approachable.  I think that makes it much easier to work on a tough subject.  There was an initial writing exercise to start.

    We started learning general strategies for essay writing.  I've heard from my own children many times that they "know how to write", but I explain to them that every day writing is different from essay writing.  We learned about the different types of essays and even that there are different ways to measure length! When I was growing up we were usually told in paragraphs or pages. Now with all the technology and ability to change font sizes pages might not be the best way! If a student chooses a large font it can make it easier to get the number of pages they need.  I really liked all the suggestions for how to organize paragraphs. I think that was very helpful for our middle child.  She could look at the list and pick out a way she might organize her paper. For example she could do it using question & answers, by comparing or chronologically.  I think often we don't think or remember these type things and having it right there in front of you helps.  

    Our oldest didn't take the ACT or SAT because he was going to do dual enrollment at one of our community colleges and that's not required.  We will probably do the same with our daughter, but I liked how there were separate sections to work on the writing that would be included in those tests. I think most people get nervous when taking any type of test.  Especially the big ones like the ACT/SAT where your scores can help decide if you get into the school of your choice. Having the ability to have an idea what the scorers are looking for is very helpful. It seems as if the grading scale is somewhat of a mystery, but yet we know specific areas that they are going to grade. That gives us something to practice.  Our daughter was really shocked how short a time period the graders get for each paper.  I noticed that she was very much engaged in the video. I think she would have been less engaged if I was just teaching her or even if she only heard audio of Andrew Pudewa talking. I think she enjoyed seeing the students in the dvd as well as the fact that Mr. Pudewa was interacting with them.  
    I think the name High School Essay Intensive really sums up what you are getting.  You are getting some intensive training in writing essays as well as preparing for the ACT and/or SAT.  The tools taught here can help you to organize your thoughts, prepare a plan or outline and write within the needed time frame.  

    Head over and check out IEW at the following places as well as check out what my fellow crew members thought :)

    High School Essay Intensive {Institute for Excellence in Writing Reviews}
    #hsreviews #highschoolwriting #SATprep #ACTprep