Monday, February 29, 2016

Using your Kindle?

This is not a sponsored post. My friend over at Ben and Me just happens to have some awesome resources all in one spot for homeschoolers. The top one, the free books for Kindle for kids is an *amazing* list full of some seriously great classic books for children.

This one is awesome too!

I think you might find something at those links! 

Thanks, Marcy!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Everything Changes

So today we moved out our second born. Our beautiful nineteen year old has found a place of her own. How did those 19 years go so quickly? It is amazing and bittersweet. I am so proud of the woman she has become, but it is hard to say goodbye to the girl we have known. I am so glad that God is sovereign over all. I am so glad that He loves my girl more than any paltry love I can offer her. I am so terribly grateful for all of it - the heartache, the joy, the peace, the fear, the sadness, and the unbelievable love.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

HISTORY Through the Ages Hands-on History Lap-Pak: U.S. Elections - A Review

If you have read this blog for any length of time, you will see how big a supporter of Home School in the Woods I am. There isn't anything Amy Pak has put out that I don't love! Her creative beautiful artwork, and careful study and presentation of each subject she tackles, result in excellent homeschool resources! HISTORY Through the Ages Hands-on History Lap-Pak: U.S. Elections is no different.

I have used many of her resources, and genuinely love her lapbooks. This is one of her more thorough ones, that is just packed with awesome educational and crafting opportunities for your students. As a reviewer for the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I was sent a digital download of the whole "Lap-Pak." You won't believe what you have access to for only $18.95! After downloading and extracting onto my computer, all I needed to do was click, "Start." The whole program loaded before my eyes. Because I have used her products over many years, I am familiar with how they work, but she has simplified and streamlined her newest offering. Included, are two audio recordings of the text provided in booklet format, read by Jaron Pak. He has a perfect reading voice that is highly enjoyable to listen to. The 24-page booklet itself is thorough and covers the following subjects in detail:

Elections in the United States of America
The Different Forms of Goverment
(The Rule of One, The Rule of a Few, The Rule of Many, and Anarchy)
Governments of the People in History
(Athens, Rome, England)
America: A New Creation from Old Roots
The Three Branches of Government
Qualifications to Vote
The Election Process
Running for Office and Political Parties
Caucuses and Primaries
Running a Presidential Campaign
The Electoral College and more!

This is written for students in grades 3-8, and anyone within that age range (and beyond) will certainly walk away with a solid understanding of the American election process after listening to or reading the informative booklet. Because we are in the midst of an election, this could not come at a better time!

So the meat of the program is found in the booklet, but just how do you help your students to really grasp it? That's where the Lap-Pak comes in! Never put together a lapbook before? Never fear, you'll have no trouble because photographic step by step instructions are included, and they are very thorough. You and your students will put together 21 different projects that each reflect a different aspect of your election education. She even gives you a cover. All printables are in black and white and you can print on colored paper or white and design it yourself. We did both things. You will, of course, need a printer.

Some of my favorite projects included the three forms of government craft. As you scroll through the resource as it is open on your desktop, you will see this:
Notice the "PHOTO" button in the right corner. There is a full-color photograph of every single project found within so you don't have to wonder if you are doing it right. All of the grey-colored lines of text are clickable PDF files that will bring up the four different pages of the printable craft that your student will put together to form this:

It will go into your lapbook underneath another project called The American Experiment. Your completed full page will look like this:

As you can see, inside the branches of the government tree, it defines who is included in each branch, and a write-up about each one. You are even provided printable leaves - she thinks of everything! We decided to color ours in. Colored pencils and pens have played their role in this review too.

Here are some of the other projects that we particularly liked. Suffrage was a flip-up craft that explained the fight for the right to vote - not only for women, but former slaves too. The 15th and 19th Amendments are focused on here, and the inside includes a write-up that explains suffrage over the years.

I also really liked the Political Parties project. This book has a flip-open tab for six political parties that gives a brief explanation of the party's past and/or current ideas. The parties included are: Federalist, Democratic-Republican, Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, and the Green Parties.

We also enjoyed putting together the Statistics and Who do we vote for? projects. Inside the Statistics flip book, we learned how the elephant and the donkey came to be, and the statistics mentions the reliance on polls and a candidate's charisma. 

The Who do we vote for? project is a rotating craft that defines the candidates we vote for (President, Vice President, Senators, and Representative), and what qualifications they must fill in order to run. 

These are only a few of the projects found in this awesome Lap-Pak! I have left out a lot of other projects and a whole vocabulary glossary found inside that is beautifully decorated. I just don't have space to tell you about it all! We can't escape that this is an election year because it is all over the news. We homeschoolers are notorious (I prefer to think of us as smart!) for utilizing what is going on around us to facilitate our home learning. HISTORY Through the Ages Hands-on History Lap-Pak: U.S. Elections is an unbelievably thorough and interesting way to take advantage of what is going on right now. Home School in the Woods has done it again!

Want to find out how other homeschool families with the Crew used this, click the banner below!

U.S. Elections History Lap-Pak  Review

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Monday, February 15, 2016

When Lightning Stuck!

(This post contains affiliate links.)
This isn't a review. These are my thoughts on an excellent book we just finished read out loud. When Lightning Struck! The Story of Martin Luther, by Danika Cooley. This book was the best historical novel on Luther I have ever read.

Luther fascinates me. He was such a complex man with deeply held beliefs and some serious human weaknesses. Danika Cooley writes about his fascinating life and his transformation into a child of God - in story format. She doesn't sidestep any of his weaknesses, but deals with them head-on. I really appreciated that. I appreciated the whole book!

Years ago, I read Roland Bainton's, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther, and was captivated by him. I am always fascinated by the Reformation heroes because they were very literally laying their lives on the line for the truth of the gospel. Some of them went up in smoke for their beliefs. It is astonishing, really, in this day of casual coffee-house faith. It is very easy to be whatever you wish to be in the 21st century. It is very easy to believe what you want to, or not. No one has the power to burn you at the stake these days--at least here in America.

But many many men and women did burn in Luther's day. Many people gave their lives so they could believe on Christ and live.

They lived 1 Corinthians 9:25 - Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.


Philippians 1:21 - For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

So very many who stood up to a corrupt church inherited an imperishable wreath and the gain of eternal life with Christ. These men are giants to me - yet they were imperfect and sinful. These men were men. They were fallible. Danika Cooley understands that lest we put men like Luther upon a man-made throne, rather than the God who brought about salvation through His Savior-Son.

I will forever be grateful that God used Luther, and that through him and others, we have the truth of Scripture for ourselves. We can pick up the Bible any time of day and read it in our own language. We can know the truths of scripture for ourselves--know the God of the Universe through His letters to us.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Candor - Good lessons.

This wonderful article popped into my Facebook feed tonight, and I read it in full. It looks to be the beginning of a series, and I hope to read it all. Not only do I love the writing of this young woman, the subject matter is something my heart needed to read. I have clipped only a little bit, and linked to the rest, so that you can read it in full. Don't miss it.

Read the rest...

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A Review: BiblioPlan, Year 4: Modern American and World History

(U.S.and World History from 1850-2000)
Rob and Julia Nalle
BiblioPlan for Families

I have had the exciting honor of reviewing Year 1 and Year 2 of BiblioPlan for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. I have used both with my family, and have been immensely blessed by each year. The wealth of subjects we have studied has been broad and thorough. BiblioPlan, Year Four: Modern American and World History begins with The British Empire, U.S. Slavery and the Underground Railroad, and concludes its 34 chapters with the modern wars in the Middle East, and President Barack Obama. There is also a missionary focus throughout the main Companion book that will focus on individuals who lived for Christ and endeavored to share the gospel. This is an unabashedly Christian program, and you can see the love that Rob and Julia Nalle have for their Lord throughout each resource in the complete set.

BiblioPlan Family Guide for Modern History

The BiblioPlan Family Guide for Modern History is, like the others in the series, the framework to the whole the program and is an invaluable resource. It begins with an introduction and a “How to Use BiblioPlan” section that defines and explains the whole program, and each individual part. I aim to do something similar below to help you understand how BiblioPlan works. This is the book that has detailed reading lists, directions, explanations for use, schedules, mapwork suggestions, other history resource books (with page numbers), writing ideas, and hands-on activity suggestions. This is a highly valuable book and is truly the key to the whole of the program. The reading lists are one of the best aspects of this book. Broken down into age/grade range, the literature selections are detailed and complete. You will find reading lists for grades K-2, 3-5, 5-8, 7-8+, high school, family read-alouds, movie suggestions, hands-on activity books, audio resources, general books on the time period, literature study guide options, and music of the time period. For each recommendation, they give a good description of the resource. If there are any possible concerns with a title, they are kindly noted. This is an astonishing resource that includes daily schedules and book lists like you have never seen. As someone who really loves to focus her study on history (with historical fiction read-alouds and audio resources, etc.) this is an invaluable treasure-house of book lists to help you choose the right ones! A hardcopy is $42.95, and the e-book version is $34.95. It is entirely usable as an e-book as its primary function is as a teacher resource. This book is worth its weight in gold.

The BiblioPlan Companion, Year Four: Modern American and World History

While the BiblioPlan Family Guide gives detailed page suggestions for each weekly topic from other homeschool-friendly history books, this program is best utilized when paired with The BiblioPlan Companion, Year Four. I have used a lot of history resources over the span of my 16 years of homeschooling, and the Companion is the most thorough and well-written spine available in the homeschool market. This book is 568 pages long and covers 1850-2000 in a single volume. It is a softcover book that follows a similar pattern of what is covered in each chapter. The World History Focus with specific dates and “Fascinating Facts” sections that flesh out subjects or individuals being studied. There is a “Missionary Focus” section that concentrates on specific individuals and brings to life the areas of the world, and areas of attention these individuals lived for. There is also an “American History Focus” section that, obviously, concentrates on what was happening in the U.S. at the same time. Sometimes there is an “Amazing Americans” section too. Then there is a “Geography Focus” that may be in the U.S. or somewhere else in the world. Also included is a “Presidential Focus” with a concentration on the man in office during the years that chapter covers.

So, for example, in Chapter 9 of the Companion, you will find all these things discusses and explained:

American History Focus concentrates on Immigrating to America, the Naturalization Act of 1790, European Immigration during 1820-1920 that discusses the reasons various nationalities migrated to America, the Contract Labor Law, and the Immigration Acts of 1917-1965. The Fascinating Facts for this part of the chapter are: The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and Ellis Island. World History Focus for this chapter is Japan. This includes: “What Has Gone Before” – or a brief overview of Japan’s history, Sakoku, Commodore Matthew Perry’s Japan Expedition, the Meiji Restoration, the Boshin War, Catching Up with the West, and German Influence on Japan. Fascinating Facts for this section include: the Four Classes of Japanese Feudalism, the Satsuma Rebellion, and Noh Masks. The Amazing American for this chapter is Jane Addams and Hull House. The Missionary Focus discusses Kirishitans and Fumie. (This section is not about a specific individual as some chapters are, but about specific Christian movements and persecution in Japan at this time.) The Geography Focus is on the state of Michigan.

So as you can see, each chapter covers a lot of ground! The physical copy for the Companion is $89.95, and the e-book version is $42.95. This is a full-color book filled with maps, photographs, drawings, flags, and various graphics. If you have a large-screen reader, the e-book would be a great solution. If you don’t, definitely invest in the physical book. I recommend the physical as it is much easier to use with a family.

BiblioPlan Family Guide for Year Four

The third highly valuable component to this history program is BiblioPlan’s Family Guide. It is an excellent way to facilitate discussion within your homeschool, and an easy way to determine whether or not your children are learning the material you wish them to learn. There are detailed questions and discussion topics like:
·         List some of the waves of immigrants that arrived in the U.S. over the years from 1820-1920, and explain the different reasons for each wave.
·         Describe the racial quotas system that appeared in the 1921 Emergency Quota Act and the Immigration Act of 1924. Explain the mathematics behind these laws, as outlined in the Companion.
·         Explain Japan’s unique belief about its emperors. Ask your students: how would a belief like that affect a nation’s loyalty to its rulers?
·         Describe the tactic that the shoguns used against the Kirishitans. Ask your students to put themselves in the Kirishitans’ places.
·         Review Grover Cleveland’s life and presidency. (. . .) in modern times, would it still be possible for charities and churches to care for all of the poor’s needs?
This is also a great resource to use if you are using BiblioPlan in a co-op setting. This book is filled with great questions to share and discuss with a group of children. The hardcopy is $12.95, and the e-book is $8.95.  For a few extra dollars, I think the physical book is certainly worth having.

BiblioPlan’s Cool Histories

BiblioPlan’s Cool History resources are available in e-book or physical format for each developmental level: Littles (grades K-2), Middles (grades 2-6), Upper Middles (grades 6-8), and Advanced (grades 8-12). The Cool Histories are an excellent tool to help your child write down what he is learning to facilitate better discussion and retention of the awesome history they are reading through the Companion.

Cool History for Littles: Modern History includes notebooking pages that you can use in a variety of ways. There are maps, places for your student to fill in names, dates, places, and events, areas for drawing or pasting photos of important persons (presidents, missionaries, etc.) Some of the discussion questions for this age range are:

1. How many visitors attended Britain’s Great Exhibition in 1851?
2. What happened to the Crystal Palace in 1936?
3. On the British flag, the large red cross edged in white represents what patron saint?
4. The diagonal white cross represents what patron saint?

Cool History for Middles: Modern History also includes the same notebooking pages found in the Littles book. Some of the discussion questions for this age range include:

1. How many different names for the Civil War are listed in the Companion?
2. What did abolitionist John Brown think would happen when he started his slave rebellion at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia?
3. Seven states decided they would no longer belong to the United States. They formed their own country called ______________.
4. Which Southern fort refused to surrender to the Confederate States of America?

Cool History for Upper Middles: Modern History includes a higher level of questions that are more than fill-in-the-blank types, and will include essay questions. Some examples include:

1. What was the Pax Britannica, and what was its impact?
2. Why did Britain and France join forces against Russia in the Crimean War?
3. Why was Sevastopol such an important port?
4. What is the meaning of these lines from Tennyson’s Charge of the Light Brigade: “Theirs not to make reply/Theirs not to reason why/Theirs but to do or die"?
5. List some “firsts” from the Crimean War.

There are also "Bonus Questions/Activities". An example of one of these would be: Why did President Millard Fillmore turn down an Honorary Degree from Oxford University?

Cool History for Advanced: Modern History has all sorts of good detailed questions for your student that include short answer, fill-in-the-blank, long essay answer, and also offer research questions too. Some of these types of questions include:

Fill in the Blank:
1. Queen Victoria reigned over the British Empire for nearly ___________ years, from ___________to ___________ . She became queen when she had just turned _________ years old.

Short Answer:
1. List and explain some of the railroading terms the Underground Railroad used.
2. In what state was Harriet Tubman a slave? In what city did she live after her escape?

Short Essay:
1. List and describe the three compromises that held the pro-slavery South and the anti-slavery North together from 1787 - 1861.
2. How did the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act make the Underground Railroad’s job more difficult?

Research Essay:
Do some research on Sati, the rite in which Hindu widows burned themselves to death on their dead husbands’ funeral pyres in order to display their grief. See if you can discover any other Hindu, Muslim, Sikh or Jainist religious practices that the British might have considered barbaric. Did the British have good reason to want to “Christianize” India? Did they go about it in a good way? Why or why not?

I really like the Cool Histories. These are thorough and detailed and are an excellent addition to the Companion. They round-out the whole study and give you, as the teacher, a way to evaluate how much your children are learning. They are well done and you will not be disappointed if you choose to use them. I’d check over the level of questions for the year of BiblioPlan you are considering and buy one to use for the closest age range. I tend to teach to my oldest and modify for my younger children. This has served me well for a long time and I recommend it here. It is easier to simplify (and cross off more difficult questions) than it is to “spruce it up” for an older child.

Also available is a Cool History Classic: Modern History that is a simplified version of the other Cool Histories that can be used as a family guide for grades 1-6. The questions are just like those found in the Cool Histories, and are geared towards multiple age/grade levels. Pricing varies for these resources depending on the level. E-books will need to be printed and each child will need one. Consider whether or not you will want to use these with subsequent children of the same age and buy accordingly. The Cool History copyright is perfect for families:
Families who purchase these materials may make as many copies of the Cool History assignments, Maps, Timelines or Coloring Books as they need for use WITHIN THEIR FAMILY ONLY.

Hands-On Maps

BibloPlan offers Hands-On Maps for Middles (grades 2-8) and Advanced (grades 8-12). They do not have one for the Littles, and I can understand why. Small hands have a hard time writing words like “Mediterranean,” let alone spell it! All the maps are created by the authors and are black and white with instructions on how to use them. They correspond to the lesson and will help your child understand the geography of the area they are studying. For example, Week 3b of Middles, your student will use a map of Africa. They will then do the following:

1. Label and color the Mediterranean Sea, Atlantic Ocean, Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea, and Red Sea.
2. Using the map in the Companion, draw the Congo River and Nile River on your map.
3. Robert Moffett, a missionary from Africa, influenced David Livingstone to go to Africa. Circle Kuruman in orange. This is where Moffett lived.
4. Draw a footprint over the Kalahari Desert. Livingstone was the first white man to cross this desert.
5. Draw a lion at Mabotsa. This is where Livingstone encountered the lion.
6. Circle Victoria Falls in blue. Livingstone named Victoria Falls for Britain's Queen Victoria.

The Advanced Maps have the same map, but ask the students to do more with the map. I really like the Advanced Maps for middle and high schoolers. I use geography books and the Companion, and some large floor maps and have the kids find these things on their own. It is a great activity that really cements the information. These are solid resources and worth the cost. They range from $14.95 - $22.95, depending on e-book or physical format, and which one(s) you need.

BiblioPlan Timeline and Timeline Figures (1850-2000)

BiblioPlan also created a Timeline and Timeline Figures for use with their program. These are an inexpensive way to buy and create a timeline with your family. For only $16.95 in e-book or $22.95 for the hardcopy, you can make a complete timeline for the modern time period. I received the e-book and each page has a timeline that spans the page. Different countries are highlighted in different colors so you can create the timeline and follow that country’s history. Included are full-color printable timeline figures that your student will affix in the appropriate spot. These can be graphics of events, people, photos, or drawings. There is no guesswork with this product and that is my favorite part of the timeline! You are not going to glue something down in the wrong spot and regret using glue (the very thing I have done with other products!) Someone spent a lot of time finding these figures for our use and this is a real treasure if you want to do a timeline with your children while using BiblioPlan. If I was going to use this with more than one child, I would definitely buy the e-book version so that I could print out the timeline as we studied it and print as many as I wished for my children. You can also print this out and create a wall timeline for the whole family to see and use.

Craft Book for Modern History and Coloring Book for Modern History:

The Craft Book and the Coloring Book are extra resources to help you flesh out each week with hands-on fun. These are available for purchase separately. The Craft Book is $6.95 for the e-book and $11.95 for the physical book. The Coloring Book is also $5.95 for the e-book and $8.95 for the physical book. I’d definitely recommend the e-book format for both—especially the Craft Book. This is color-coded with a different color per craft. It comes with a list of supplies for each craft and written directions with a photo of the finished product. This is a good beginning craft book. I’d love to see it revised with step by step photographic instructions for the “less-than-crafty” among us. The crafts are varied and interesting and your children are likely to enjoy them. My children have enjoyed the ones we have done. The coloring book has simple drawings that accompany the lesson. They are not going to “wow” you, but if you need something easy to print off that coordinates with the lesson for your little one, this is a good choice.


BiblioPlan, Year 4: Modern American and World History is just as excellent and thorough a program as the previous two I have been happy to use and review. It is thorough, easy to use, offers everything a homeschool family could possibly want and more! This is a program your whole family will find interesting and will be drawn into the time period. Rob and Julia Nalle have done their homework, covered so very many people, places, and things, in order to create these fantastic history programs for us. This was clearly a labor of love for the homeschool community and that absolutely shows in the finished product. Download the sample for BiblioPlan, Year Four, and look at it up close. You may find this is just what you have been looking for!


This review was written for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC and is found on their site at this link.

Monday, February 08, 2016

For the Glory of the Skies

When I read things like this, I nod my head. God's glory in the astonishing creation is all around us.

I mean the world is simply AMAZING!

I can't get enough of the miracles around me, and I get excited when we study the complexity of our world.

Job 12:7-10 asks...

“But ask the beasts, and they will teach you;
the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you;
or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you;
and the fish of the sea will declare to you.
Who among all these does not know
that the hand of the Lord has done this?
In his hand is the life of every living thing
and the breath of all mankind."

In HIS hand is the LIFE of EVERY living thing. That's amazing. That's awesome. That's God! John 1:3 tells us:

"All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made."

That's Jesus. All things.

I am grateful today for the beauty of the earth. For the glory of the Lord. For His promises that are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness to His people.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Paint This with Jerry Yarnell - Painting & Drawing Kit for Kids - A Review

Paint This with Jerry Yarnell Fine Art Painting & Drawing Kit for Kids

What a wonderful art set! Paint This with Jerry Yarnell Fine Art Painting &Drawing Kit for Kids is an amazingly complete art kit, ready to use right from the box. Geared for ages nine and up, Jerry Yarnell has set your child up for successful art education and creation by not leaving anything out.

The kit includes the following list of quality real art supplies:

8 - 2.5 oz Tubes of Paint (red, green, brown, blue, purple, orange, yellow, and white)
2 instructional DVDs (Volume 1: Introduction: How to Begin; Volume 2: My First Landscape)
9” x 12” Canvas Pad (10 sheets)
Palette Pad (40 sheets)
9” x 12” Sketch Pad (40 sheets)
6 Acrylic Brushes (various sizes)
HB Pencil Set (2-Pack)
Sta-Wet Painter’s Pal (a sturdy plastic painter’s palette with a sealable lid)
Kneaded Eraser
Ebony Pencil Set (2-Pack)
Magic Rub Eraser
Pencil Sharpener
Plastic Palette Knife (to mix your paint colors together)
Misting Bottle
Drawing Board (14” x 14” chipboard)

You begin with the obvious choice, Volume 1: How to Begin! Here, Jerry Yarnell explains each and every items included in the set, and how it is used. This is a brilliant video for those who really have had no quality art instruction or experience, lack familiarity with art products and their specific uses, or for those who need a refresher. I had no idea how to use some of the materials included. (Kneaded erasers are strange and wonderful, and I did not have any idea how valuable they could be in a sketch until I saw this video!) Once he explains how all the products are used, he then sets up the paint palette with all eight colors, and readies his canvas for use. The only thing you add is paper towels! He then shows the viewer how to mix and blend the colors on the palette, and how to properly clean your quality brushes. It is one thing to use cheaply made brushes, it is another thing entirely to use these nice ones. You will want to keep them in good condition after use. This is a 34 minute DVD and is essential to understanding how to use this kit well.

Once you and your child understand how to use the art supplies correctly, have the palette set up and ready to go, you are ready for the first lesson. You will find this on Volume 2: My First Landscape. Total running time for the DVD is 37 minutes. Interestingly enough, and a little surprising to me, is that this DVD does not begin with the landscape project! It begins with an entirely different 12 minute sketching lesson on how to draw an apple! Your child will learn the importance of where the light is shining as you sketch, how to shade the apple, and the apple’s shadow (the cast), how to use that kneading eraser in a sketch, and how to finish the sketch. This is a perfect beginner art lesson. Then, he moves on to the main event – painting a landscape. As the teacher, this was one of the most delightful lessons I have ever seen. It was systematic, with step by step instructions to the student. I tried this lesson with a group of six children of both sexes to see what would happen. I wanted to see how much each one would hear and incorporate into their finished artwork. The age range of the participating children was 9-16. They watched the instructional video and then completed the project from start to finish. I am not sure how Yarnell School nailed the age range so well, but not one of the children had a hard time following the 25 minute lesson. Each of them created a lovely landscape with complex elements like a well-defined tree with leaves and a foreground of flowers, and a detailed background design too. 

Each of the children displayed their own artistic strategies, and each painting was original to its designer. It was a wonderfully positive experience for all of them. 

Volume 3: Apple, Volume 4: Rabbit, and Volume 5: Field of Flowers

Not included in the kit, but included by the company for review were three other complete lesson DVDs for sale on their site. These include: Volume 3: Apple, Volume 4: Rabbit, and Volume 5: Field of Flowers. Volume 3: Apple begins with setting the background of your canvas. He spends a good deal of time mixing the colors, and applying them in a manner children should really enjoy. Then he utilizes the apple sketch your child drew in DVD 2 as a side by side example to your artist, and lightly sketches the apple onto the painted background. From there, the paint is added, blending and shading as he proceeds through the lesson. Your student will essentially reproduce the apple in paint onto the canvas, learning the techniques needed to create the completed project. I especially enjoyed watching him create the leaf at the top of the apple. There is a movement Yarnell does to create it that, if mastered, should be useful for other artistic endeavors in your child’s painting future. I also liked the end section where he teaches the student how to create the white light reflection that rounds out the apple. There is a heavy focus on blending the apple on the canvas, and creating a life-like finished product.

Volume 4: Rabbit is probably my favorite of all the DVDs they sent. Your artist will create a painting from a photograph of a rabbit set up, side by side with the canvas. As I watched this video (as a mom without any real artistic talent), I thought, I could probably do this! Jerry Yarnell’s videos are encouraging because even those of us without any natural talent can actually create something that’s lovely. Again, this is a step by step video that begins with mixing paints, and setting the background. This time, your artist will add leaves and grasses along the way. Once the background is set, he shows you how to sketch the outline of the rabbit. Once that is completed, the student fills in the inside, adding different colors along with shading and outlining details. The camera returns to the palette throughout to show which colors he mixes to create the various colors used for the rabbit. Towards the end he shows you how to create the specific details and outlines to finely detail the finished artwork. This DVD is 35 minutes. It is quite possible to break this longer class into more than one lesson. I can also see this DVD utilized with photos of different animals. The same principles apply, and can really be used over and over.

Volume 5: Field of Flowers is exactly what it sounds like! The DVD begins with Jerry Yarnell setting up the canvas and the palette. He sets up, side by side, the photograph of the field of flowers found in a magazine (you can choose whichever one you wish, or use his). He then shows your student different brush techniques for painting the background in various greens. Because the kit comes with several brushes, he really utilizes these in this DVD, and explains their use and shows how to use them in the best way for this project. Then your student will add the flowers with different colors as well as different brushes. I really like the focus on brush techniques in this DVD. It is quite versatile and has many uses beyond the field of flowers. He ends the 34 minute DVD by demonstrating a specific splatter technique done with a toothbrush. This adds a complementary finishing touch that nothing else could replicate.

Paint This with Jerry Yarnell Fine Art Painting & Drawing Kit for Kids retails for $149. The included DVDs, 1 and 2, along with the high quality art supplies, are an excellent whole course that can be used repeatedly. There is enough paint to replicate the lessons several times, expand upon them, and add to them. While Jerry Yarnell demonstrates how to sketch an apple, the same principles could certainly be used for other still life items. The same can be said for the painting projects. The separate DVD lessons, sold separately for $25 each, can follow a similar pattern. While watching the rabbit painting project, I could imagine repeating it with each child’s favorite animal photograph. Your student is only limited by their imagination. I appreciate the genuine step by step instruction and careful demonstration by Jerry Yarnell. He leaves nothing out so that even the most timid homeschooling parent will feel comfortable using this resource with their children. This is highly recommended!

This review was written for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC and is found on their site at this link.

Monday, February 01, 2016

A Season of Bridal Showers

This beautiful girl is getting married very soon. We have had friends and family lovingly shower her with generous gifts to help her begin her life with her beloved. As her mama, it is overwhelming to me to see the love and kindness bestowed on this precious young woman - my firstborn. She has been blessed by two showers, from our church friends, and one from family. Both were amazing, and filled with love and blessing. How grateful we are for these people!

We share her presence here for about five more weeks. We have been diligently planning her wedding for seven months, and the time is almost here. Most of the details are done, and we are fine-tuning the ones that are left over. I am cherishing these last days. What began 21 years ago, with a plump and bright-eyed baby, delivered to a mama who had no idea what to do with her, is coming to its rightful ending. One ending is another beginning, and that's how this mama heart is viewing it. I have had my sad moments, knowing that my girl will no longer wake here, sleepy and in need of coffee. However, I know that our late-night conversations will turn into coffee dates or dinners as families. Change is not always bad, but now and then, it can be stretching.

If the season of being a day-to-day mother with my daughter has to end, I am grateful it is ending this way. I am grateful to God for bringing a man into her life who loves Jesus and loves our girl. I am grateful I have been able to be her day to day mama for 21 years. I am grateful for the friend my daughter has become to me. I am honored that God allowed me the privilege of being her mother. Seasons of life come and go, and we must change with them or be knocked down by them. I look forward to seeing what God does in their future, and am so very happy to have been a part of her past.

Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife,
and the two shall become one flesh.
-Ephesians 5:31