Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Learning about Sculpture with Artistic Pursuits (Schoolhouse Review)


sculpturew1 cover

Product: Sculpture Technique: Construct

Company: ARTistic Pursuits

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ArtisticPursuitsInc

Age Range: 11-18

List Price $47.95



We have used several other books from the ARTistic Pursuits curriculum and I have always been impressed with their quality, so I was excited to have the chance to try out one of the brand new sculpture series. There are 2 sculpture books: Sculpture Technique: Construct, and Sculpture Technique: Model. We are using the Construct book.

Sculpture Technique: Construct includes 4 distinct units:

  1. Creating Form in Papermaking teaches papermaking, using a Grummer’s Dip Handmold. Once the paper is made, it is formed into various types of 3-dimensional sculptures.
  2. Creating Planes in Cardboard uses corrugated color paper and corrugated paper from cardboard boxes to create 3-dimensional shapes, models, and scenes.
  3. Creating Motion with Paper Mache teaches the student to build armatures from wire and other household objects, cover them with paper mache and finish by painting.
  4. Creating Volume with Wire covers building different types of sculpture projects from wire.

Each unit contains color pictures of examples, step-by-step instructions with photos for each project, and instruction about sculpture concepts, such as plane, volume, and motion.


When I think of sculpture, I immediately imagine projects involving clay, but as you can see from the content, the Construct book doesn’t even use clay. The student has opportunities to create using many different media. The projects go beyond simple “crafting,” because creativity and originality is always encouraged. The basic techniques are taught, and the student is encouraged to make each project her own. The authors explain that crafting concerns the techniques, and that the greater the skill in crafting, the more ability the artist will have to express ideas through his or her art.

Each unit includes an evaluation that encourages the young artist to reflect on what he learned about the materials and process, and to evaluate his sculptures, thinking about how he would like to make improvements in future projects.

Emily worked on Unit 1—Papermaking during the review period. First, she learned how to make paper by tearing up scraps of paper, soaking them in water, pureeing them into pulp in the blender, then pressing the pulp into sheets of paper, using the dip handmold. We used copy paper (destined for the recycle bin) mixed with scraps of colored construction paper to create different colors of paper.












She then used these sheets of handmade paper (dry or wet) to create various types of paper sculpture. First, she made a “low relief” sculpture, using tabs and curling and folding paper to create a picture with 3-dimensional elements.














Then she sculpted the paper into flowers, but cutting shapes, spraying them with water, then folding and curving the petals before gluing them.











Another fun project was making people by forming wet paper around wire armatures to form skin and clothing. Ours didn’t turn out just like those in the book, but I was still pretty impressed with what we could do! We are looking forward to trying out projects in the other 3 units, next.














I did most of the projects with Emily (I wanted to join in the fun!), but I think this book could be easily used independently by most students over age 12. 11 and 12 year olds might require some assistance.

The Sculpture Technique-Construct book had a bit of a different feel to it than the other ARTistic Pursuits books we’ve used. Instead of being set up with many sequential lessons, each one including both art history and technique instruction, each unit included several projects, each requiring different lengths of time to complete. At certain points, the lesson must be stopped to allow materials to dry, but other than that, the student may work from one project to another in a day, or may spend multiple days on more complex sculptures.

I highly recommend ARTistic Pursuits Sculpture Technique: Construct as a fun and unique way to add art to your home school.

Other Crew members reviewed the Sculpture Technique books (and worked on different units). Other reviewers tried out some of the other ARTistic Pursuits curricula. Click on the Crew Banner to read what their experiences!

Click to read Crew Reviews
I received this product free in exchange for my honest review.

Purex Crystals Dryer Sheets (Giveaway)

P1040361Purex Crystals Dryer Sheets is a new product from Purex that claims to not only reduce static cling, repel pet hair, and leave laundry smelling fresh, but keeps the whole house smelling fresh for 30 days. I received a free box to try out in my home. My first impression of Purex Crystals Dryer Sheets occurred before I even opened the shipping box. As I picked up the box from my porch to carry it inside, I immediately noticed the lovely lavender blossom scent and wondered where it was coming from! Then, I realized that the package must be this product from Purex.

Then Emily noticed the box on the counter and commented on the scent. She asked if she could take a dryer sheet to her room to make it smell good! I used the fabric softener sheets with her bedding the next day and even heard a comment from her the following morning that her sheets “smelled so good, she was sniffing them all night!” This product is definitely a winner in our home. I plan to put sheets in some of the dresser drawers as well just to freshen up the clothing.

Purex Crystals Dryer Sheets come in Lavender Blossom and Fresh Spring Waters scents.

Sweepstakes!  Enter the Purex Sweepstakes for a chance to win $500 and a year’s supply of Purex Crystals Dryer Sheets. 50 2nd place winners will win a coupon for free Purex Crystals Dryer Sheets.

Giveaway! Enter here for a chance to win coupons for 2 free boxes of Purex Crystals Dryer Sheets.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, April 28, 2014

Great Sale at Compass Classroom

Compass Classroom is having a great sale right now—up to 50% off some products. I just ordered the Economics for Everybody DVD course that I’ve been wanting for next year. The sale ends on April 30.

























A is for Algebra


I’m currently teaching Algebra to my fourth child. I really like math, and I am a self-proclaimed curriculum addict. However, I surprised even myself when I realized how many algebra programs we own. It’s bordering on ridiculous.

Child #1 used Scott Foresman UCSMP Algebra. At the time, when I investigated curriculum, this was highly recommended. She did well with this program in 7th grade, then went on to geometry in public school for 8th grade.

Then, I discovered Singapore Primary Math and switched Child #2 and Child #3 to it in the 4th and 6th grades, and we continued with Singapore New Elementary Math for pre-algebra/algebra/geometry through middle schools. I love this curriculum, but thought it might be too intense for Emily, so I started looking at programs again for her. We did a review of No Nonsense Algebra and loved it, so that’s what we started to use, supplemented by Life of Fred. Then we did a review for Videotext Algebra and Emily liked it better, so we switched. After a few months, though, the math just wasn’t getting done (although she still claims it’s her favorite program), and we have now changed back to No Nonsense and Life of Fred. Unfortunately, we’ve lost a bit of ground with the switching (and lack of cooperation), but Emily may catch up by working through the summer.

What will I use for Geometry next year? Who knows?

blogging through the alphabet sm.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Learning About Simple Machines

Emily is continuing to have fun learning with Supercharged Science. She’s currently in the Energy 1 Unit, learning about pulleys and levers and actually spent most of last Saturday morning working on experiments without being told to!


Philosophy Adventure (Schoolhouse Review)

Philosophy Adventure

Age Range: Grades 6-12

Price:   Ranges from $39.95 for digital download to $89.95 for print book set with resource cd.






Philosophy Adventure , published by Home School Adventure Co., is a homeschool philosophy curriculum that teaches logic, critical thinking, creative writing,  and public speaking while studying the lives and teachings of 8 Pre-Socratic Greek philosophers. The set includes a student reader, a workbook, and a teacher guide.

The program covers 8 philosophers:

  1. Thales
  2. Pythagoras
  3. Xenophanes
  4. Heraclitus
  5. Parmenides
  6. Empedocles
  7. Protagoras
  8. Democritus

Each of the eight chapters includes about six pages that teach about each philosopher’s life, what was happening in the world around him, what ideas he had about the world, and how he was influenced by others and how his ideas influenced others. Also included in each chapter is one page each devoted to a writing and a speaking concept and assignment. A “Think” page introduces the reader to philosophical ideas and helps him or her relate those ideas to life and to a Biblical worldview.

Accompanying the main text is a student journal that provides space to do the creative writing assignments, critical thinking questions, and other writing instruction. Memory cards are also included to help the student learn important facts about each philosopher. We loved these!




Our Experience:

Emily spent one week on each chapter. The first day, she read the chapter, answered the comprehension questions, and did the mapping activity. Over the next 4 days, she completed the “Think,” “Write,” and “Speak” assignments, studied the review cards, and took the unit test. This was a comfortable pace for her, although the course could be extended to a full semester course by working on the assignments only 2 or 3 days a week.

Honestly, I wasn’t sure that Emily would be excited about ancient Greek philosophers, but she has LOVED using Philosophy Adventure. As the review period is coming to an end, I asked her if she would like to cut back to using it 2 or 3 times a week, but she insisted that she wanted to continue with it every day!

This is a very full course. It includes history, of course, as it teaches about each of the philosophers and the times in which they lived. Students will also learn many of the basic laws and concepts of philosophy, such as:

  • The Law of the Excluded Middle
  • The Law of Non-Contradiction
  • Law of Identity
  • Logical Fallacies
  • Red Herrings

The worldviews and teachings of each philosopher are compared to those of a Biblical worldview and the philosophy concepts are taught in the context of all natural laws coming from our Creator and the Truth that he created, making this a very Christian philosophy course. This is very important to me, since philosophy can be taught from an atheistic perspective.

The critical thinking questions are excellent for reviewing the text and for helping students to apply the concepts to life. The writing exercises are good, and Emily is especially loving the creative writing exercises, that have the student place himself as an observer of an incident in the life of each philosopher.

During each lesson, the student is working on writing a speech that will be presented at the end of the course. Not only is the student given help with editing skills, and making the speech more interesting, but is practicing using gestures, moving around, and inflection in order to become a better public speaker.

I am impressed with how many subject areas the course includes, all in an integrated manner that engages the student.

The Schoolhouse Crew is reviewing four different products: Philosophy Adventure, Mere Christianity Critical Analysis Journal, Philippians in 28 Weeks, and The Wise Woman. Click on the Crew banner to read about the other products, and use the code: CREW-10 to receive a 10% discount on the downloads of these great books. (Expires May 15, 2014)

Home School Adventure Co.


Click to read Crew Reviews

I received this product free in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

No-sort Laundry Loads (Purex Giveaway)


Purex has just come out with a new product—No Sort Detergent, with anti-color transfer technology. According to the claims, loads of mixed colors can be washed together with less chance of color transfer.

My first thought was that this would be GREAT for college guys—the stereotypical “throw everything in the wash together” population. But I can also see how Purex No Sort could be helpful for anyone—for those times when you just want to wash a few things, or to prevent damage when a dark or white item accidentally gets mixed into the wrong load.

I was eager to test it out and had an opportunity when Emily wanted her tie-dyed shirt and her jeans washed for the next morning.  I washed this load of bright colors and included the dark blue jeans. I also threw in a white towel just to see if it would pick up any unwanted color.


I washed the load, then checked the towel. It was hard to see, but I think there was a tiny bit of blue discoloration on the towel from the jeans, but certainly not much. (The towel on the left was washed in this load and the towel on the right was not.) I am declaring the experiment a success—I think the Purex No-Sort Detergent did a good job.

Please visit the Purex facebook  page for more information and promotions for Purex products.


Would you like to try Purex No-Sort? The giveaway winner will receive coupons for 2 free bottles of detergent (total value $12).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Science Club

Off and on over the years, I’ve hosted a science club for our homeschool group. It has provided a good social outlet for the kids and gave them opportunities to work in a group. It has also kept me accountable for coming up with activities since I had others coming to my house at a specified time!

Just a few of the many activities we’ve done…

Learning about electrical circuits




Learned about imaging through the Science by Mail program


Built and tested rafts


Learned about chemical reactions




I think a lot of the other parents have appreciated the opportunity as well, since some families don’t do a lot of hands-on-science at home.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Curiosity Quest (Schoolhouse Review)

Curiosity QuestWith our latest review, we’ve just discovered another fun and educational show for kids: Curiosity QuestThis series, geared for ages 7-14, begins with a question sent in from a viewer. The host takes the audience on an intriguing field trip to learn about a new topic and to answer the question. The topics include such varied topics as cheese, how to make drums, recycling, glass blowing, and dog sledding.

We viewed the following Combo Packs, which each include 3 30-minute episodes.

DVD Combo Pack - Swimmers of the SeaDVD Combo Pack - Produce

Emily and I both enjoyed this fun show. We love field trips and these shows felt like field trips to places we might never have an opportunity to visit in person.

Each episode begins with a viewer question that introduces the topic. The show is interspersed with “fun facts”—quick tidbits explained by children, and related questions asked of kids or adults “on the street.”  For example, in the Cranberry episode, the questions were, “What does buoyant mean?”, “What is a harvest?” “How do you know when cranberries are ripe?”, and “Why do they flood the cranberry fields?”  It’s fun to hear the (often confused) answers from the kids who are questioned.Curiosity Quest Review

The host, Joel Green, visits a site (such as a cranberry bog in Wisconsin), and observes and often joins in the process. At the cranberry bog, he put on waders and walked out in the marsh, exclaiming about how cold the water was. He tasted cranberries straight from the vine, drove the 4-wheeler pulling the cranberry trailers (They wouldn’t let him drive the harvester!),  and visited the processing plant to see the cranberries blown dry, cleaned, and sorted. Meanwhile, he asked the kinds of questions that a curious child would ask. “Why do you have to dry the cranberries?” “Are these fields always under water?”

I found the topics very interesting. I had NO idea how mushrooms were grown. It is quite an elaborate and labor-intensive process, beginning with the fermentation of hay in which the spores are sown. Mushrooms are actually grown indoors, where the conditions can be kept ideal, and picked by hand by amazingly fast workers! 

I did know that salmon swam upstream to lay their eggs in fresh water, but had certainly not ever seen the process. Nor did I know about the elaborate facilities that salmon hatcheries build in order to keep the wild salmon population up. Did you know that salmon travel as far as Japan, then, 3 or 4 years later, return to the very same streams in Alaska to lay their eggs?

It was enlightening to learn how involved the process of sorting and cleaning oranges is, in order to prevent spoilage. Oranges are always picked by hand, but much of the sorting and packaging process can be done by machine.

Curiosity Quest Review

I love how the shows look at topics from a child’s point of view. The guide for each location gives a very interesting tour. Joel Green asks questions about every  aspect of the topic, which enables the viewer to learn more. The key points are repeated frequently, which aids in the learning process, and the occasional “fun fact” and “question time” breaks keep the viewers’ interest up as well. He gets to do things that we would all like to try, like feeding and touching penguins and sea turtles, wading in a cranberry bog,


I think that many children even younger than the suggested age of 7 would enjoy Curiosity Quest. At the other end of the age range, even I, as an adult, learned a lot and enjoyed the show as well. On at least one occasion, Emily was in a bad mood, and grumbled about sitting down to watch it, but was quickly drawn into the show. We expanded the educational aspect by having her write quizzes for ME or taking notes as she watched some of the episodes.

If you have curious kids at your house, you will surely love this show!



Click to read Crew Reviews
I received this product free in exchange for my honest review.