Monday, June 11

Art of the Ancients {Review}

If you've followed this blog for more than a few days, then you know these kids are all about some ancient history!  We have ancient history Legos, and all of our literature and geography courses are centered on ancient history....heck, we even did a science course that focused on it!  So when ARTistic Pursuits, Inc. released their new Art Instruction Books with DVD and Blu-Ray curriculum, including the Art of the Ancients art course, they were super excited!

Granted, this is a course designed for kindergarten through 3rd graders, and they are a little bit older than that, but they still enjoyed it.  The course comes in a slim hardcover book, with two DVDs (one regular and one blu-ray), that fits perfectly on any shelf and looks very nice.  It focuses on the art of the cultures that grew up along the Mediterranean.  There's even a note inside about this, with a nod toward other ancient cultures that were not included simply due to keeping it a short and simple book for younger students.
If you'd like to see more about this course, peek inside the book further, or see clips of the video lessons, check out the video review!

The course begins with the cave drawings of France and winds through ancient Egypt, Greece, and the Roman Empire.  It includes art history, geographical history, and art instruction.  There are eighteen lessons in total - twelve in the text, and six on the video disc.  One thing that I really appreciate about this course, from a mom's organizational perspective, is that the discs are stored right inside the book.  I can't tell you how many times I've picked up a course book only to find that I'd misplaced the discs...
The materials used in the lessons are often simple, everyday materials that you'll have in your home.  There are also basic art supplies that most homeschools are stocked with, including crayons, pastels, clay, colored pencils, and colored paper.  A few lessons call for specific supplies, such as a clay wire cutter, but we simply used a knife and washed it well.
In the lesson about Egyptian murals, we learned about ancient Egyptian culture, the pyramids, and the murals inside of the pyramids.  Taking the lead from the example in the book, everyone created a 'modern day mural,' focusing on the everyday things that each does.  One of them is fishing, chicken-wrangling, doing schoolwork, and walking around.  Another is taking a boat ride (apparently, his dream day), while the last is completing schoolwork, biking, reading with her brother, and playing outside.
The video lessons are quite simple to follow.  Like the book, they open with a lesson about the world around us and how this particular art lesson relates to that.  Then they go through the art project step by step, with natural breaks in it for the video to be paused while your student completes that step.  Finally, they do a quick review of every step in the project.  In this video lesson, we created Roman mosaics -- one is an airplane and one is a parrot.

While I feel that this course was too young for my children - and it SHOULD be - they are in middle school and above, I also feel that it's just right for the intended audience, and could even be used with preschoolers.  It will get children excited about history, while incorporating hands-on fun!

See what others are saying about ARTistic Pursuits,Inc. at the Homeschool Review Crew!
Artistic Pursuits Full Video Lesson Grades K-3 {ARTistic Pursuits Reviews}

Tuesday, June 5

Memoria Press Traditional Logic I and II {Review}

Our oldest is very into the classical education…preferring to study the ancient civilizations and tending toward Socratic-style learning. He’s been debating (not arguing, as he’ll point out) for as long as we can remember…and logically. So when we had the chance to try out Memoria Press Traditional Logic I Complete Set and Traditional Logic II Complete Set – for two full years of high school elective credit – we felt sure that this would be a good fit for him.

Both of the Traditional Logic sets come with:

  • Student Guide
  • Teacher Guide
  • DVD set
  • Quizzes & Tests
For the purposes of this review, we are primarily focusing on Traditional Logic I, but I want to take a moment at the end to speak on Traditional Logic II.
(Above : Samples from the Student Text)

These courses teach Logic in the formal, or traditional, sense, which is opposite of the material logic course that he took last year, so there was a transitional period for him to adjust his thinking.

Logic – in this formal sense - really makes no sense to me, and I am SO grateful that it comes with this DVD set. The lessons are taught in a classroom-style format, and the course set includes an answer key as well. While not always mandatory for other courses, I simply could not teach this class without both of these components.

Student Book
There are fourteen chapters in the text, with a recommendation to complete a chapter each week. The layout is simple, easy-to-follow, and clean, making a somewhat-daunting subject uncluttered and easier to study. Wide margins in the text allow for note-taking, though my son tends more toward highlighting. Important terms are in bold print, headings are clearly marked, and each chapter has a summary. The book is divided into three sections, focusing on terms, propositions, and syllogisms (which I still do not fully understand). It ends with a review section that quickly re-covers the entire course.

(Above : Level 1 in blue; Level 2 in red)

Quizzes & Tests
There is a short quiz at the end of each chapter, which our son typically completes on Fridays. As the book continues, they get a bit longer. I like how the student book and quizzes both incorporate visual charts.
(Above : Student & Teacher Guide samples)
Teacher Guide
The second most helpful part of this course (in my opinion) is this book, which includes the questions and answers for easy checking. It provides a jumping off point for me to help my son when he has questions, before I send him to the DVD set.

While I did not enjoy the videos – I found that rather blah – they helped my son considerably with understanding the text. Many times he would come to me for some clarification, and I had to stand there mute with ignorance. I would direct him to re-watch the video course (or watch it, if he had neglected to complete that part), and it helped a lot. The lectures are pretty basic…no frills or whizzes or any of the fancy stuff that kids are all about these days…but I like that. It made it easier for him to focus on the content itself. There are power points included, and the teacher also uses a white board.

It should be noted that, while a very integral component of the program for us, the DVD set cannot replace the book. Your student will need to complete both pieces for a full understanding. We completed the book exactly as it is outlined in the student workbook, with the first day being our longest day because he also watched the DVD lecture.

Traditional Logic II
As you would imagine, the second course builds off of the first and is more challenging. The third section of the first course is about syllogisms, and the entire second course is a more in-depth study of these. The course is laid out exactly the same as the first course, which I LIKE because we already have a groove and he knows what will be expected from him. The DVD course is taught by the same man, in the same format, which we also like. (Though, we would like it a bit more if it was less…beige. He could use some color…even a navy suit!) After thumbing through the second course together, my son is more excited to get to it, because it includes more ancient people and their philosophies in it than the introductory course, which is more focused on laying the groundwork for understanding that level of detail.

While advertised as being for students as young as seventh grade, I don’t think that my son had the intellectual maturity to complete this course at that age. There is an element of brain development and maturity that must occur before the student will be ready to tackle this course.

See what others are saying about Traditional Logic at the Homeschool Review Crew!
New American Cursive & Traditional Logic {Memoria Press Reviews}

Monday, June 4

Summer Fun & The Beauty of Unit Studies

Hands-on Learning is the name of the game here at Gypsy Road. But even if you school traditionally, summer time is perfect for field trips, creating costumes, making a movie, or using's always about getting the experience to cement learning. Our freebies, unit studies, and curricula are all about reinforcing this learning style - and we hope that you are enjoying them!

Make Your Own
It's not that hard to put together your own unit studies -- take stock of what's going on in your life, current events, what your kids' interests are, and then build from there.  With a library card and the internet, the sky's the limit!  Just be sure to keep track of what you're studying, in the event that the state comes a-knockin' on the door...

We're a history-loving family, so our unit studies generally center around a historical era, and then hop down the bunny trails that lead off of it.  Also, as we travel to different locations, we will study geography-specific units - learning about the history specific to the area.  Maybe science is your thing?  Start with a unit on backward from there to the history of electricity, the geography of where the inventors lived, etc.

Keep Track
There are a number of different ways to keep track of your unit studies, including notebooking.  We prefer the website method - one for homesteading, one for boy scouts, and our main site for school (that's this one).  

No Time?
You can purchase pre-built units, based on your topic of choice.  There are so many out there, but these are some of our favorites!!

Units we've created : 
Pre-built Units :
  • Homeschool Legacy - Units are anywhere from one to eight weeks long, and are aligned with Girl / Boy Scouting and Heritage / Trail Life badge requirements, if you have a scout in the house.  Here's an entire review just for them.
  • Notebooking Pages - With one lifetime-access payment, you'll have pages for every subject in your curriculum!  This is a supplement (not an actual curriculum) that allows students to document what they've learned about subjects.  It is often used with the Charlotte Mason approach to schooling, but not limited to it.
  • Techie Homeschool - This is the place for a digital approach to learning.  You don't have to know anything about tech; she'll guide your student from the basics to the advanced apps - until you find yourself asking your child how to do something!  Units include science, history, geography, and more.
Summer is a great time to bust out of the rut and try something new!  I hope that you find something here that inspires you and your family -- Enjoy the journey!

Friday, June 1

A-B-C (Jackson 5)

I found this little gem in a stack of papers from my mother's teaching days back in the ''s worth repeating.

A Parent's Alphabet (Carol Hurst)

  • A is for Arms...arms that hold, and arms that support, and arms that push when they have to.
  • B is for Books...which should abound in every home, and for Boredom, which can't stay long if books are there.
  • C is for the Children...and the Caring and the Crying, which sometimes comes.
  • D is for Doors...which you sometimes have to help them open, and through which they have to go someday never to return unchanged; and for Discipline and Dignity, which you owe every child.
  • E is for hope for them, for the Easier you hope it will be for them, and for the Education, which takes place at least as much at home as in school.
  • F is for Foolish...mistakes you make with your kids, and for the Freedom they must have to make their own.
  • G is for Grandparents...who can add tradition and wisdom to children's lives, and for Growth, which parents and kids can experience together.
  • H is for Home...which is only sometimes a house where a child feels wanted and loved.
  • I is for Ignorance...which darkens the world and is sometimes mistake for Innocence.
  • J is for Jealousy...which creeps into so many relationship, and for Joy which can push it out.
  • K is for Kickball...and tag and hide-and-seek and all those other adult-less games kids need to play, and for Kissing and hugging, which nobody does enough of.
  • L is for Love...of course.
  • M is for the memory...all parents have of what childhood was like for them, and for money, which can never subtsitute for love no matter how lavishly given, and for Manners, which make living easier.
  • N is for Nurturing...the giving of love and care.
  • O is for Occupation...which takes so much of your time, and for the Openness which really exists when kids and parents really work at it.
  • P is for Presents...which are easy to give, and Presence, which is harder; and for Parenthood, which is only partly a biological function, and for the Patience it takes to see you through it.
  • Q is for Questions...which are so easy to turn off and so hard to turn back on.
  • R is for Rest...which is seems never comes while the kids are young, and for Reward, which you get when you look in their faces or hold their hands.
  • S is for Summer...which seems endless, and for School, where you ought to feel welcome, for the Stories you know but seldom tell, and for Shoulders sometimes drenched with tears.
  • T is for Time...which there never seems to be enough of, and for Teachers who try to understand.
  • U is for the Upper Hand...which you try so hard to keep, and for the Understanding that you try so hard to have.
  • V is for the Virtue...of overcoming all those roadblocks life seems to throw just when everything's going well.
  • W is for the Whys...which can drive you up the wall and the Wisdom it takes to answer them.
  • X is for the X-Ray...of the broken bone you both cried over, and for the Xtra love it takes to be a parent.
  • Y is for Yelling...which helps only temporarily, and for being Young which is only partly a matter of years.
  • Z is for the end...the end of the alphabet, the end of childhood, but never the end of love!