Tuesday, May 17, 2016

{Schoolhouse Review} ~ Poetry Memorization

Memorization is a very important skill to acquire. So I was pretty excited when I was chosen to review Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization from Institute for Excellence in Writing. 

Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization  IEW Review

The product comes in a kit and includes:

  • Teacher Manual, spiral bound: This book has 20 pages of introduction that explain the methodology and scope and sequence of the entire program. Each poem is also included.
  • Five audio CD's of all the poems in the entire program, being read aloud by Mr. Andrew Pudewa himself.
  • DVD - Nurturing Competent Communicators: This helpful DVD shows how needed this skill is, and how poetry memory can help with both communicating and writing skills.
  • Seven Workshops, available as an audio downloadable M3P:
    • Nurturing Competent Communicators (The above DVD in audio form)
    • Mastery Learning, Ability Development, and Individualized Education
    • Ten Thousand and Then Begins Understanding
    • On Listening
    • On Speaking
    • On Reading
    • On Writing
  • Student e-book: Each poem listed for the student to visually see and to aid in memorization.

Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization  IEW Review

IEW was very generous and also sent me the physical student book for our use.

If you know anything about IEW, you know you don't just begin to use their products the same day that the package arrives. I love this about IEW - you do need a solid understanding of the product and how to teach it, so they do include many teacher-helps that aid you in understanding not only the how but the why.

So first, I watched the DVD and also looked through the Teacher Manual to get a feel for the program.

In this product are five different levels, but it is highly suggested that all students begin with Level 1. Each day that you do poetry memorization, you listen to the audio CD and recite the poems together. I loved it that each and every poem begins with the title and the name of the author.

The great thing about this program is that students can move at their own pace. Older students will move more quickly through the poems than younger ones, but they can all recite the ones they know. And while the older ones are reciting their poems, the younger ones are listening in. Some of the poems, especially in the higher levels, are larger pieces, with multiple stanzas. Each stanza should be memorized in full before moving on to the next section.

The part of this program I liked the most was the repetition. The goal is to recite each poem that the student knows, each day. There is also emphasis, though not a focus, on delivery. The goal is to train the brain to memorize, but not always focus on speaking skills. After a level is completed, the next level is begun, but now the reviewing occurs every other day, to facilitate review of the current level. Each level has twenty poems.

I had my two youngest use this the last few weeks. Each day we would spend between ten and fifteen minutes on poetry. We would listen to the poem we were working on, and read along and recite it with Mr. Pudewa. After a good five minutes, each girl would see how far they could get with that poem without help. Then we would spend the rest of the time reviewing what we had learned.

I was actually pretty impressed with how far they got. The  first four poems are not hard at all and the girls breezed through them in a little over a week. This brought with it a good observation: Any kind of memorization is good, but poetry memorization is even better, because of the rhyme and rhythm of the words. This was especially true of Dasher, who really ate this up and was on high speed memorization. This surprises me, because she does struggle with reading, but listening to the audio version was key for her and she really grasped the memorization technique.

At the end of the second week we hit poem five, with its four stanzas. This is where they began to split up and Dasher moved ahead on her own. Again, this program is ideal for teaching memorization to multiple age levels.

The poems do not get longer as the program progresses; after the longer poem, we had a nice, short, 4-line poem. This really helped Nutsy, because she was quite intimidated with the longer passages.

I looked ahead to the other levels and noticed that it does increase in vocabulary and length. I was happy to see, among many others: The Charge of the Light Brigade by Tennyson, The Road Not Taken by Frost, and Grandfather's Clock by Henry Clay Work. Level 5 is quite impressive, and includes speeches such as Give Me Liberty by Patrick Henry, The Gettysburg Address by Lincoln, and The Kings Speech by King George VI. In this level, there were also margin notes on pronunciation and word definition.

I was quite convinced that poetry memorization can help my students. Over the weeks we used this program, I also saw a love for poetry come out for my children. And I do believe that memorization can help them in other areas of academics.

Other members of The Crew reviewed this; check out what they thought by clicking below.

Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization  IEW Review

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Friday, May 13, 2016

{Schoolhouse Review} ~ ARTistic Pursuits, Inc.

I have one child that really enjoys drawing, so when we were given the opportunity to review products from ARTistic Pursuits Inc., I knew Bookworm would be the one to test it out.

ARTistic Pursuits Inc. Review

I received Middle School Book One, The Elements of Art and Composition. This level, even though it is below Bookworm's grade level, was a great fit for her.

Covered in this book are:

  • Space and Lines
  • Shape, Form, and Value
  • Visual Paths in a Line
  • Balance, Symmetry, and Asymmetry
  • Rhythm
  • Space, With and Without Depth
  • Perspective and Proportion

ARTistic Pursuits Inc. Review

 The lessons are laid out through sixteen units, that can be covered in a year, with two lessons per week. Each unit focuses on one of the topics that are listed above, with four lessons per unit.

Within each lesson there are four focuses, that remain consistent through the program:

  • Art Vocabulary - here students are taught how to observe and verbally describe things
  • Art Appreciation and History - learning from the masters and studying famous works of art
  • Technique - using tools and materials to create art
  • Application - a final project in each unit, that incorporates what they learned

The book is actually very user-friendly and easy to read and implement. The book has full pages and is also in color, which is a must for art curriculum! I felt that the assignments were age appropriate to middle grade students - you do not need any experience in art to begin this.

I had Bookworm do two lessons a week. She spent between 30 to 45 minutes each session doing a lesson. Sometimes, during the final lesson where she had a larger project to do, she would spend over an hour working with her drawing. The main focus of this course is drawing, and so the Supply List is not too long.

To complete Middle School Book 1 you will need:

  • Pencil drawing set
  • Eraser and sharpener
  • sandpaper block and drawing pad
  • waterproof drawing ink
  • brush 
  • Pen nibs (used in calligraphy) and a pen nib holder

The first couple of units she found very easy, but then she is a junior in high school. Here, she studied Portrait of the Elephant by Dal Badal and was made very aware of space in art.

In the third unit, she learned about texture. This is something that she has not done too much of at all, so she did really enjoy this lesson, and felt like she really did learn how to improve her technique.

There were very specific instructions on how to get different texture, and she spent a while experimenting with her pencils. Her project for that unit was to draw a picture that showed a variety of textures so she chose to draw our bird, Ozzie. She did say that she felt challenged but the assignment, and was made aware of how texture can be added with different pencil techniques.

This was her rough sketch - in this assignment she took something from life and made her own sketch.

I also liked how art history was brought into the units. In the unit on shape the students study Hokusai's Beneath the Wave off Kanagawa. They learn how shading and dark values help to emphasize the shape of the waves. There is also sections to read about the artist Hokusai, and information about Japanese art and what influenced his work.

The unit on form focused on line direction and creating form. She studied Man Reading the Bible by Van Gogh, and as an assignment, was asked to try to copy the sketch.

I love this course and what it did teach her. She is enrolled to take an art class at our local college in September, and I do think that the few weeks she spent doing ARTistic Pursuits really gave her a solid foundation. I do think it is more for middle school students, and I plan on having Dasher, who is more in that age range, do this program for art next year.

Other members of the Crew reviewed other grade levels from ARTistic Pursuits, check out what they thought by clicking below.

ARTistic Pursuits Inc. Review

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Friday, May 6, 2016

Z is For Zig Zag

When I was trying to think of something to write about that starts with a Z, I went online and looked at a list of Z words.

And Zig Zag caught my eye.

I feel like at times my focus is pretty Zig Zag.

I have so many different hats that I wear, many at the same time.

I am first and foremost, a child of God. I know that He has saved me, from the depths of my sin, And in gratitude, our family tries to faithfully attend church each week and I strive each day to find time to pray and read in His Word. This daily time needs to be a priority in my life, and I need to focus on giving this attention. I need to think of this hat that I wear, as a lifelong hat, and one that I must continue to make time for.


I am also a wife, to my very best friend. We have been married for over 20 years now, but that doesn't mean that our relationship just grows on its own, without any effort from both of us. I need to continue to encourage him, work out our issues, and make time to grow our relationship. This is also a hat I wear all the time, and one that is ever so important.

I am a mother, to four precious children. When they were all younger, my nights were short and the days were long and filled with tons of laundry, toys everywhere, noses and bottoms to be wiped, and lots of time spent disciplining and teaching.

 Now, with three teens and a ten year old, mothering is not as physically exhausting. Now, it is way more mental. Conversations about the future, jobs, relationships, attitudes, clothes, sibling rivalry, and life in general, all makes for some very deep and long talks. Which sometimes turn into heated discussions. Motherhood changes as time flies, and while I see myself wearing this hat forever, I also see changes ahead.

Now, these next hats are ones that thankfully, I take on and off.

I am a teacher. For the last sixteen years I have homeschooled. I have, at times, changed curriculum as often as clothing fashions do. I have had early readers, late readers, math haters, and math lovers. (For the record, only one of them loves math.) I have had great days where we did everything on the schedule, and days where I wanted to completely quit and burn all of the school books in the fireplace. But God has been so merciful, and has given us the strength and wisdom to go down this road. And now, looking back, I am SO thankful for the time I had with each of my kids.

I am a house cleaner/chauffeur/organizer/chef. These hats all go along with being the matriarch to a family and running the house each day. Parts of it I love (cooking, folding laundry) and parts of it I really do not care for (cleaning the bathrooms, dusting). I try to have a system to the madness and organize the chores by days. Sometimes though, things happen and the schedule goes out the window. That is when I am thankful for grace. And a glass of wine.

I am also a 4-H leader. And right now, I am in the middle of the 4-H Crazies. Our fair is in two and a half weeks, and we are in the middle of getting animals up to weight, planing our display, figuring out schedules, and making lists. 4-H has benefited my kids so very much and I am thankful for the opportunities we have through it. And I am also thankful that I really only wear this hat about six month out of the year.

I am a friend, daughter, sister, aunt, niece, and cousin. Life brings so many people into our lives. Each day I need to remember those people in my life; people that I can encourage, lift up, and spend time with. God has also brought many people to me, that have helped and been such a blessing to me as well.

Truly, it is only by God's amazing grace that I can wear all of these hats. And be able to Zig Zag between them. He has blessed me, above what I could have ever imagined, and continues to sanctify me as I rest on Him each day. 

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Friday, April 29, 2016

Y is For Yellow

It took me a while to think of something that started with a Y that I could blog about.

While I was going through Y words in my head, I thought of yellow.

So I endeavored to spend the week looking for all things yellow.

This yellow bowl is in my pantry - I have had it since we moved into our home,
 nearly sixteen years ago.

These yellow roses are against my back fence.
I love looking out my kitchen window and seeing their beauty.


This mug reminds me of a fun vacation we took a couple of years ago.
and, it makes Mondays more manageable. 

I just planted these yellow daisies on our deck - hoping they live through
our hot summer.


I usually have fresh yellow lemons on hand in the kitchen.
These sit in my fruit bowl on our kitchen table.


And these yellow cards are on of our favorite fun family games. 
Dutch Blitz is such a fun game and we play it often.

This was an interesting excercise this week, looking for things in a certain color! It made me look more intently at things, and be more mindful of what was around me.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

{Schoolhouse Review} ~ GREEMU

You might be saying,

 "What in the world is that?"

Interesting name, for a great product.

GREEMU, made by a company called Devonian, is an oil.

Greemu Devonian Review

Oils can really help our skin and if you remember, last year I was given the opportunity to review a product called Emu Oil. This Australian oil from the Emu is an excellent hair and skin treatment. But using animal sources for beauty products is not sometimes the best, so that the same company that created Emu Oil came up with an alternative: GREEMU. (Green + Emu = GREEMU)

Completely plant based, this oil matches the strength and properties of Emu Oil.

GREEMU contains only five ingredients:

  • Macadamia Oil - high in mono-unsaturated fatty acids, which helps to heal sunburns and scars
  • Palm Oil - a natural antioxidant and has lots of Vitamin K and magnesium
  • Shea Butter - a wonderful moisturizer with lots of Vitamin E
  • Sunflower Seed Oil - effective against acne and very hydrating
  • Rice Bran Oil - extracted from the outer coat of brown rice and is rich in minerals and vitamins

What can GREEMU be used for?

The ways are endless....

First off, GREEMU is an excellent moisturizer. Damage to our outer skin cells are what causes dryness and cracking. This oil helps damaged skin and builds that protective outer layer. I would take a drop (literally, a drop) and spread it all over my face. I live in a pretty dry climate, so I also rubbed the oil on my elbows and legs. I was very happy with how long this oil moisturized! I truly only applied it once a day, and my skin was nice and happy. And like I said, a lot goes a long way, so the 4 ounce bottle will last quite a while.

Greemu Devonian Review

Another part of yourself that is helped by GREEMU is your hair. This oil can help damaged hair, and stop split ends. When I received it I began using it in my hair, after my shower. I loved the way it made my hair and scalp feel. I also completely stopped using any conditioner in the shower, and just use a simple shampoo and that is it. After I towel dry my hair, I put a couple of drops on my hands and rub it into my scalp. A couple more drops I rub through my hair. (I do have pretty long hair.) I can then use a comb and go through my hair without any tangles.

GREEMU is also excellent for skin damage. On vacation a couple of weeks ago, we visited a water park. My son completely forgot to apply sunblock to his back. That night, his back was red and painful. I had brought along my oil and used enough to coat his whole back. He said that it instantly relieved the pain and he really liked it because it is fragrance free. The next day I applied it again and that second night, his skin was not even really red anymore.  

I have been using this oil, daily, for the last five weeks. The level of the oil is about an inch from the top of the bottle - at this rate I estimate that the bottle would last for another four months.

I really encourage you to give this oil a try! And do look around at both of the Devonian and Koru Naturals websites! These are high quality products that  are excellent choices for your hair and skin.

Check out what other Crew members thought:

Greemu Devonian Review

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Friday, April 22, 2016

X is For X Marks the Vacation Spot

A couple of weeks ago we took a family vacation.

A vacation of a lifetime.

And this was how we told the kids......

Yes, we were headed to Florida and Disney World.

Here is our trip in a nutshell. a.k.a., HEAVY PHOTO POST. This truly is an overview, as we did so much more than I list here.

The plane ride there was smooth and the kids had a blast.

We stayed on the Disney World resort property (which is huge!) at Art of Animation.

First day: Hollywood Studios

You knew we would spend some time here.

There were some really neat interactive features and lots of fun memorabilia.

And of course, these guys were walking around.

 For lunch we ate at Sci Fi Dine-In Restaurant.

Yes, we sat in cars, and the way the room was set up I swear we were outside at a drive in movie theater, watching silly horror films from the 30's and 40's. The food was great.

We saw the Indiana Jones stunt show.

One of our favorite rides of the day, Tower of Terror.

This was the other fast one - Rock and Roller Coaster. This one goes from 0 to 57mph in 2.8 seconds and goes upside down a few times, in the dark.

Toy Story Mania was a fun ride too. Mr. Lego and My Sweetie got the highest points both times we did that ride.

 We stayed until the park closed at 9 and took the bus back to our hotel.

Next day: Epcot

The Disney Resort bus system was very good and except for one night, not a hassle at all.

 Test Track was a really great ride. Later I read that it is the fastest one at DW, going 64 mph. During the queue we got to design our own cars, and then see how they would have performed on the track.

Mission: Space was another great one. This is a motion simulation ride that uses a centrifugal simulator. On the ride, which goes to Mars, we got up to 2.5 G's. Each seat has motion sickness bags so that tells you something about that ride. And yes, we all rode it and had a blast.

The gigantic golf ball!

I didn't know it, but there is a neat ride inside the dome, called Spaceship Earth. The ride goes through all of history, which was very well done. (Thankfully there is only one scene about evolution.)

Next we hit World Showcase.

In each of the countries in the World, Disney hires people from those countries, and does their best to remain true to ancient and modern architecture. We had a great time exploring, and talking with cast members. It was neat hearing about where they lived - Bookworm loved asking them to say things in their native language.


In Germany, we ate at Biergarten, a German buffet. While there, we made friends with our waiter, Evanz, who was from Berlin. He spent time answering the kids questions and telling us about his homeland.

Japan, of course.

Here we all split a bowl of udon.

In the United Kingdom, we enjoyed Twinings Tea samples and had a plate of fish and chips. 

 And my favorite place in World Showcase was Morocco. We had fun exploring this area and sharing a plate of Lamb Shawarma.

You really felt like you could almost be there.

As we continued around the world eating and experiencing the countries, the setting sun was beautiful on Epcot.

 We stayed for the fireworks show over the lake, and then enjoyed the World Showcase at night.

Next stop: Magic Kingdom

Very much like Disneyland with a few differences.

Swiss Family Treehouse, instead of Tarzan.

 Splash Mountain, probably the family favorite.

This is Cinderella's castle, and I thought more dramatic and beautiful than Sleeping Beauty's castle in Disneyland.

Big Thunder Railroad, which in the evening had a 5 minute wait.

They lit the castle up beautifully at night.

And the fireworks that night was probably the best show I had ever seen.

At midnight (yes, we had been there for 15 hours), instead of heading for the exit, we headed for the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor on Main Street for a treat.

The final park was Animal Kingdom.

My Sweetie and I sat together on Expedition Everest. This went down as one of my favorite rides, as you go backwards, corkscrew in the dark and experience an 80 foot drop.

Animal Kingdom is split up into lands; here we are entering Africa.

We caught The Lion King show which was great.

And the water ride in Asia.

We saved the safari for last. This was through Disney's wildlife preserve, in an open air truck. There were no visible barriers and we actually got quite close to some animals.

We did go to the two water parks - Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon.

There were fast slides that we all went on, and slower ones like this raft ride.

The wave pool was super fun. Every ninety seconds a six foot wave would drench the entire lagoon.

And we all loved the lazy river. But see what my son did to me below?

After six days of fun, it was time to head home.

My Sweetie downloaded all of his go pro videos onto his computer on the plane ride home, so the kids had a fun time reminiscing.

And that was the week. I am so thankful that we could take this trip! Who knows where all my children will be in five, ten years, and I am thankful we had a safe and fun time on this amazing vacation.

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