Thursday, March 30, 2017

Monthly Plan from Creating a Masterpiece ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

When I started homeschooling, I knew I wanted to implement art into our school. Over the years we have done several little art lessons, but a lot of times they don't go into great detail with their instructions. It was fun for the kids because it was art, but it didn't really challenge them as students. I was very excited when I learned that the Monthly Plan from Creating a Masterpiece was up for review. It looked perfect for teaching the kids art, using a large variety of mediums.

Creating a Masterpiece are instructional videos taught by Sharon Hofer, who teaches art classes for hundreds of students out of her home studio. She is a master artist who loves to inspire students of all ages to create their own masterpieces.

This photo is very dear to Sharon Hofer, and showcases that art can be done well at any age!
How does it work?

Logging into your account and getting started on a project is very simple. I love the dashboard of the website because it's very easy to see what class is right for you. Classes are listed in rows according to skill levels. It starts at Beginner and works all the way up to Level 5. You can also access videos according to medium on the side of the dashboard.

Once you decide which project you want to work on, you will click on the picture and it will take you to a page that includes the video and all of the supplies that you will need for that project. I love the option of a pdf download so you can print it out and take it to the art store. If you're wanting to order the supplies recommended by Ms. Hofer, then there is a great option that takes you straight to It sends you to a page that already has everything you need so you just add it to your cart and go! I truly wish that we could have utilized this option, but we were moving and I was nervous about ordering anything at the time.

What projects did we choose?

Our first project that the kids wanted to do was with watercolors. I got my list and headed to the store to grab our supplies. The supplies were easy enough to find and didn't cost a lot at all. I ended up getting watercolors in a tube because I didn't realize she was going to be using the pan set. I don't think it was a huge difference in product, but I did realize that even though I bought watercolor paper, it didn't give us the exact same results as with her example.

Her instructions on the video were clear and concise. She showed the students exactly what she wanted and what she expected from them. She explained things that were happening to their projects as they painted. For example, the flowering effect of the paint if you tried to paint over something that was already dry.

I like how the lesson is broken down into 2 sections. You could easily do this project in one day, but we chose to split it into 2.

The kids had so much fun making their trees with a straw! Who knew that was even possible! They really enjoyed this one, and are already wanting to do another watercolor project.

 Our second project was with colored pencils. I have to say, I had no clue that you could make such a beautiful picture with colored pencils! Again, we didn't have the same ones that were used, but we will be ordering them. Our pencils didn't glide quite as well, but I still think it was fantastic.

With this project, the kids drew and colored a clown fish! They had no clue that they could draw anything, much less a detailed fish. Same with the water colors, the instructions are clear and easy to understand. She gives you plenty of tips to be successful with this project. I honestly think anyone can do it!

We did split this project up because the kids hands would start cramping, but I think this is due to the quality of the pencils. The lessons are split into three, but they are split up even more inside of each lesson. Every part of this project was fun, and we couldn't be happier with how it turned out!

My thoughts ~

This is a wonderful program if you are looking for art lessons that are fun and challenging. Everything is explained so clearly, and shown to the student step by step. My kids had so much fun with the projects that they've completed, and they are excited about the next projects they have picked out. I would recommend ordering your supplies online because it's much easier than trying to go out and find them on your own.

I would definitely give the Monthly Plan from Creating a Masterpiece two thumbs up because I think students of all ages will love it!

Make sure you follow along on social media!

100 of us on the crew were blessed to review this product. If you would like to read other reviews, please click the banner below!

Creating Beautiful Art at Home {Creating A Masterpiece Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Manhood Journey Father's Starter Kit from Manhood Journey and City on a Hill Studio ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

Trying to lead our children down the "right" road as they grow up can be a stressful task. We always want to do right by our kids and hope that we instill the best values and morals. The influence a father can have on his son can be instrumental in the choices he makes later on. My husband has been working on a great Bible study the last few weeks with our son Gavin called the Manhood Journey Father's Starter Kit from Manhood Journey and City on a Hill Studio.

What kind of bible study is this?

The Manhood Journey Father's Starter Kit is a non denominational Bible based study for fathers and sons, or any other male role models, to come together and learn important stepping stones to becoming men of God. It is recommended for boys ages 8 to 17.

Embarking is the first module, out of the 6, in the Manhood Journey series. The other modules will cover topics such as Manhood Myths, Working Well, Standing Strong, Leading Lessons, and Clean Hearts.

You will receive everything you need to get started right away. This can be used in a small group setting, or a one on one setting. Here's what all is included.

  • Group discussion guide ~ This is for you if you plan to lead a small group. 
  • 1 on 1 discussion guide ~ This is what my husband used with our son. It lays everything out for the mentor and is easy to understand.
  • DVD ~ This shows the introductory videos for each module, so that you can get a picture of the entire program. 
  • 10 maprochures ~ These are perfect to hand out if you're working this Bible study with a small group. 
  • You also get a free copy of Wise Guys written by Kent Evans. We haven't had the chance to read it yet, but we are definitely going to. This book is a guide to learning and benefitting from the wise men that are all around you.
How does it work and how did we use it?

Embarking is broken down into a 6 week program. Week 1 is preparing for the journey. Week 2 is setting out on the journey. Week 3 is relying on the compass. Week 4 is seeking guidance along the way. Week 5 is encountering others along the journey. Last but not least is week 6, we have embarked.

In week 1, they will discuss and memorize the five "Big Rocks." These will be used throughout the program every week. These include:

  1. Trusts God
  2. Knows His Word.
  3. Prays fervently
  4. Builds Relationships
  5. Serves others
Each session begins with a "Word to Dad", and this gives them encouragement and direction on the topic of the week. The lesson is then broken down into four parts including Building, Knowing, Serving, and Talking.

My husband A.J. and my son Gavin would have a special night that they would sit down, turn off all distractions around them, and work on their study. My husband would always prepare a little bit ahead of time, just so that it would run smoothly. I asked my husband what he thought about the program and he said, "I love how easy it is to prepare. I am sometimes not the best teacher, but it gave me everything I needed in order to successfully discuss these important topics with my son."

My thoughts ~

From listening in on their time together I would highly recommend this bible study. It felt really good to hear my husband being the spiritual leader of the family, and doing his part in teaching our son about becoming a man of God. In this day and age, we definitely need to arm our children with the Word of God, and I believe that the Manhood Journey Father's Starter Kit does a great job of this.

Be sure to follow along on social media!

Manhood Journey:

City On a Hill

47 of us on the crew were blessed to review this product. If you would like to read more reviews, just click the banner below. 
Manhood Journey Father's Starter Kit {Manhood Journey & City on a Hill Studio Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

We love our Gussybear aka Gus. ~ Wordless Wednesday

We love our long haired Syrian hamster, Gus. 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Bessie's Pillow published by Strong Learning, Inc. ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

Have you ever picked up a book, and had no clue what kind of emotional roller coaster you were about to embark on? Bessie's Pillow, written by Linda Bress Silbert and published by Strong Learning, Inc., is a book that I will never forget! It's a book that will keep you turning the pages, and leave you wanting more and more of the real life people that make this story what it is. It is the perfect book to understand a little bit about what it was like to be an immigrant, especially since immigration has been a recent topic.

Bessie's Pillow is based on the true story about Boshka "Bessie" Markman Dreizen, an 18 year old Jewish immigrant, who has to leave her family behind in Lithuania to travel to America in order to start a new life. The author, Linda Bress Silbert, who is Bessie's granddaughter, takes us on this unforgettable journey of this amazing woman's life.

As Boshka Markman is leaving her family behind to embark on this journey across the world, she is approached by a woman who she used to know from Glubokoye. She hears that Boshka is traveling to America, and asks her to deliver a special pillow to her son, Nathan. Embroidered on the pillow is the Yiddish phrase "May this pillow bring you peace". Boshka boards the train with pillow in hand, not knowing just how much peace this pillow will bring her.

On her journey to America, Boshka has to be washed and disinfected, and also pass mulitiple health inspections by a doctor in order to be able to continue her travels. Boshka is passed on all accounts and boards the steamship that will take her to America.

As the Statue of Liberty comes into view, Boshka disembarks, then rides a ferry to Ellis Island. Here is where she will receive her "American" name of Elizabeth, which is later changed again, to Bessie.

We follow Bessie along throughout her life in New York. From her family life to her career, her story is full of twists and turns. It will have you smiling one minute, and have you in tears the next. The author does such a great job of bringing New Rochelle, New York to life for the reader.

As if reading the story isn't great enough, you can also get a downloadable study guide to go along with the book. They also have a fabulous website, Bessie's America, that is a wealth of information. Here you can learn more about immigration and Bessie's family.

This has been such a blessing to me to have been able to read this book. I knew it looked like a good book, but I had no clue that it was going to be a book that I could not put down. It was one of those books that you just didn't want to end, so you tried to slow down reading it, but it just kept moving forward like a freight train.

I read this aloud to both of my kids who are 11 and 15. I definitely think that they were both a good age to be able to understand it. They, like me, had a hard time putting the book down. The chapters are short so it was easy to get in "just one more chapter."

In closing, I was going to try and include my favorite part of the book, but there were just too many to choose from. So, I would have to say that my favorite part of the book was Bessie herself. A woman who escapes persecution and starts a new life in America, and ends up giving hope to others as well. She unmistakably touched my heart. If you looked up words in a dictionary such as strong, courageous, independant, and determined, they would all have Boshka "Bessie" Markman Dreizen's picture next to them. She was definitely one of a kind, and I am happy I had a chance to get to know who she was.

The author talking about Bessie.

Don't forget to follow along on social media!

90 of us on the crew were blessed to have been able to review this book. If you would like to read other reviews about Bessie's Pillow, just click the banner below.

Bessie's Pillow {Strong Learning, Inc. Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

We Moved...AGAIN. ~ Weekly Wrap-Up

It's been awhile since I have posted an update because we have just been too busy. My life seems pretty much like a whirlwind lately. By the time I get up, get started with the day, it's time to go to bed. But, if you've ever moved, then you know exactly what I'm talking about.

If you remember last year we moved because we did not care for the city we lived in. It was a rough move because trying to find a house around here is pretty much a nightmare. We basically settled on a house because it had just gotten to the point that if we didn't find a house, we would be living in a hotel, and having to put our things in storage. No one wanted that so we said yes to a house that was just "ok", even though we were thankful to finally have a house.

We moved in and from the moment we opened the door we had issues. They didn't even paint the house on the inside, and believe me it needed it. That was just at first glance the list of issues that would follow. We were paying A LOT of money for this house to rent in a wonderful neighborhood. All of these issues should have been taken care of way prior to us even signing the contract to rent it...especially for what they wanted us to pay for it!

After we moved in and we started getting the issues checked off one by one, the owner decided to sell it. Yep, we had random people traipsing through our house several times a week, and of course I had to have the house looking pristine. It was annoying and I would pretty much be in a bad mood for the 2 months it was on the market.

It finally sold, and we were beyond happy. An investor bought it, so that way we wouldn't have to move like the real estate agent told us. He came in and promised to replace the carpet, which was the last thing on our list to have done. The previous owner never replaced it and it should have been, so we were very happy with how things were turning out.

I honestly really liked that house. It just needed things done to it, and the kitchen was too small. Who makes a kitchen with hardly any cabinets in a 4 bedroom house?

So out of the blue the new owner texts me and tells me he has another house available and if we wanted it, it was ours. It was bigger, had a huge kitchen, and wood and tile floors so it wouldn't flare Gav's allergies up. So, we accepted and started moving in two days later.

Our new house
We finally got everything moved, and now we have most of it put away in our new house. It was much easier moving from 1800 square feet to 2500 square feet rather than downsizing like we did last time. We are back to school, and basically trying to catch up from the time we were out of commission due to the move. Everything had to be put on hold, including school, and all of my reviews.

Now that things have settled down, I getting back to my blog and posting reviews. Make sure you follow along, because I have some great reviews coming up!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Andi Saddles Up and Andi Under the Big Top by Susan K. Marlow and Kregel Publications ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

One of my favorite things to review is books! I love books so much, but there is always something about a good series. It keeps you on your toes waiting for the next one to follow. Andi Saddles Up and Andi Under the Big Top are exciting books in the new series, Circle C Stepping Stones, written by Susan K. Marlow, and published by Kregel Publications.

Circle C Stepping Stones is included in the 4 part series that follows the life of Andrea Carter, or Andi for short. Andi is a young girl living in the 1800s growing up on a California ranch. In the first series, Circle C Beginnings, Andi is 6 years old and has a baby horse named Taffy. This series is perfect for readers ages 6-9. The second series is the new series that we were blessed to preview, Circle C Stepping Stones. Andi is now 9 years old and her horse Taffy is 3. They are now at the perfect age to be horse and rider. This series is geared towards readers in the age range of 7-10. Next in line is Circle C Adventures. Andi is 12 years old and off on all kinds of wild excursions that teach her all about faith, family, and friends. The age range for this series is 9 - 13 years old. Last but not least is Circle C Milestones, where we follow Andi as a teenager. We find out just what plans God has in store for her here! Circle C Milestones is geared for ages 11 and up.

Andi Saddles Up
ISBN: 9780825444302
Pages: 112

Book one in the series starts us off right when Andi turns 9 years old. She wants nothing more for her birthday than a shiny new saddle. During her birthday dinner, mean old Mr. Hollister barges through their door angry over a property line that has changed over time. Andi's brother Chad and Mr. Hollister have words, and definitely do not see eye to eye on the situation. Despite the feud going on, Andi receives her perfect gift. She can't wait to get it on her horse Taffy, so they can finally be a real horse and rider. While Andi was at her "special spot" she met a new friend, Sadie. The only problem is, Sadie is Mr. Hollister's daughter. Can they still be friends despite the families feuding?

Andi Under the Big Top
ISBN: 9780825444319
Pages: 112

Book two in the Circle C Stepping Stones series opens up in the summer after Andi turns 9 years old. She is super excited when she gets word that the circus is coming to town! Her dream was to see the champion bareback rider who would be performing, Miss Minnie May. While at the circus she meets a young boy named Henry who works for the circus. Andi thinks that this must be the best job in the whole world with all of the excitement that happens under the Big Top! The only thing is, Henry has a big secret, he's run away from home and isn't happy where he's at. Will Andi be able to help him return to his family?

Gavin loved both of these books. He read them in just a short time. What I loved, as a parent, is the fact that these are educational, wholesome books, that any child can enjoy. At the beginning of the books are vocabulary words. We went over these words at the beginning and it helped him understand the story even more. I loved this!

Another great benefit to these books is that there are study guides that coincide with each book. These are really thorough study guides and can turn this into a unit study. I wish we could have used them, but we were in the middle of a move and weren't able to. I would highly recommend using them though because they are such a great bonus. I was really impressed with the effort that was put into the study material. They have everything from a schedule, to vocabulary, and questions for each chapter.

Again, I have to say, I was impressed with these books. I want to order the rest in the series because Gav read them out loud to me, and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute!

~Be sure to follow along on social media~

If you would like to read other reviews, just click the banner below!

Andi Series {Kregel Publications and Susan K. Marlow Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer