Artistic Pursuits - High School Book 1 {Review}

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

My eldest son has been drawing for almost as long as I can remember. He was one of those wild and adorable toddlers that never.slowed.down. I vividly remember the first day I realized this kid might take on art as his second nature. I was visiting a friend, both of us worn tired and surviving on much coffee. We had made it our habit of meeting up regularly just to get the kids together in hopes of a few moments of peace for us and fun for the kids. In her collection of toys strewn around her living room floor was the magical thing that would finally catch the attention of my inquisitive and incredibly energetic two year old. He had found the Doodle Pro: You know the thing, the plastic magnetic and mess free drawing tablet for kids. He dropped what he was doing, and he quietly drew, erased, and drew again that whole afternoon, blissfully ignoring the other fun to be had and his pudgy-cheeked little friends. Eureka!

A lot of time has passed since that afternoon so long ago. Since then I have invested in reams and reams of printer paper, miles of butcher paper, a thousand crayons boxes and markers, and now we have graduated to Prismacolors, micron pens, and art shows. I don't remember the last day that Aedan didn't give me a picture he had drawn that day. He has been mostly self taught, but I am always trying to add to his bag of art tricks where I can. As we enter high school I want to be even more intentional about helping him develop his skills as an artist.

We used Artistic Pursuits in the early years of our homeschool and really enjoyed it. As I was considering high school art I stumbled upon this program again at our homeschool convention. I remembered what it was I enjoyed about it. I was thrilled to see that there were several high school courses. Book One of the high school series covers the elements of art and composition as well as art appreciation and history. The course is designed to develop your student's observation skills as well as their own unique and personal style. I really appreciate that it is a non-consumable curriculum that I can re-use when my youngest gets to this stage.

There are 16 units in this course which could be completed over the course of the year 2 days a week. Completing this program would earn one full credit in Studio Art. The following topics are covered in Book One:

Unit 1 -Space
Unit 2 - Line
Unit 3 - Texture
Unit 4 - Shape
Unit 5 - Form
Unit 6 - Value
Unit 7 - Contrast & Unity
Unit 8 - Balance
Unit 9 - Rhythm
Unit 10 - Depth by Overlapping
Unit 11 - Depth by Position & Size
Unit 12 - One & Two Point Perspective
Unit 13 - Atmospheric Perspective
Unit 14 - Proportion, the Face
Unit 15 - Proportion, the Figure
Unit 16 - Clothing the Figure

One of the reasons I was drawn to this course was that it involves the use of art supplies we haven't used often. Aedan gravitates towards colored pencils and markers, but this course uses sketching pencils and charcoal. I want to expose him to as many different media as I can, so that he is confident to use anything if he so chooses. The book has an art supply list divided by semester. You may conveniently purchase the Art Supply Pack with everything you need on the Artistic Pursuits website. I am so excited to add these new supplies to our art cabinet!

These are the supplies for the First Semester:

Drawing pencil set - 2H to 4 B
Vinyl eraser
Metal handheld sharpener
Drawing pad

High quality supplies are a must for any artist's toolbox. We recently got a set of colored pencils that aren't the same quality that we are accustomed to using. The boys both noticed how much harder it was to use them. Great supplies are worth the money y'all!

We tested these pencils to show how each was a shade darker than the next.

Aedan was really happy that he gets the opportunity to learn how to use charcoal this year. The Second Semester introduces these elements to the course. You will need the following supplies:

6-12 - Sticks of vine charcoal
1 - Jumbo tree stick vine charcoal
1 - Package of compressed charcoal
1 - Charcoal paper pad
1 - Paper bleeding stump
1 - kneaded eraser
1 - Natural chamois leather

We won't officially start school again until August, but I wanted to give you a better picture of how the program works. I don't usually have to twist Aedan's arm too much to get him to do any kind of art. He was happy to try it out! Each unit has 4 lessons that cover a different topic. The first unit in the book covers the use of space by utilizing active and non-active space on the paper or canvas. The lessons in each unit rotate in this way:

First Lesson - Building a Visual Vocabulary
Second Lesson - Art Appreciation and Art History
Third Lesson - Techniques
Fourth Lesson - Application

Our first assignment was to draw a scene outdoors. Aedan chose to sit on the front porch to draw his first sketch.

He used the pencils for this exercise. The frame of the house acted like a non-active space, and the forest was mostly active.

It's always such a delight for me to see what he will come up with. He said that it was different drawing with pencils as he often uses a pen to outline much of his work, but it was great practice.

In the second lesson we observed the use of space in Vittore Carpaccio's Young Knight in a Landscape; Francesco della Rovere; 1510. I really love the art appreciation aspect of this course. What better way to learn art than from the masters?

The assignment for this lesson was to draw a face from a photograph. Aedan forbade me to include his picture in this review. Artists! Aedan is an excellent draftsman. His strength in art has always been in creating fantastical creatures from his own imagination. He isn't as much of a fan of drawing realistic faces, so I'm happy this course will give us some practice in the area of realistic drawing. I gave him a pass on this one if he would do one more lesson for me at the end.

The third lesson gave instruction on how to arrange a picture using space.

Of course Aedan's still life would never include fruit in a bowl, but rather all of his nerdy collection of favorite things.

Aedan has always been great at incorporating new ideas into his art. Learning to draw from a model is something I know he will use often.

This was the final picture from his arrangement.

The fourth lesson used the story of of St. George and the Dragon as a starting point for how to draw from the imagination using active and non-active spaces.

Dragons have always been a source of inspiration for this kid. He had no problem conjuring up the scariest dragon he could imagine for this battle scene.

The next unit in the book introduced the concept of line. He was instructed to draw several images using only the edges of each subject.

I've always found so much joy in seeing how effortlessly Aedan can whip something up on paper.

He chose to draw a handful of subjects from nature. I can already see him improving in his use of this medium from just a few lessons. I really look forward to seeing how far he will come with this course. I plan on buying Book 2 in the future as well. Book 2 covers the elements of painting, which might give some variety in between drawing lessons. Either way I fully intend to utilize these fantastic books in our homeschool over the next few years. I also noticed that there are two Sculpture books; one on Construct and another on Model. I am really looking forward to taking a closer look at those! I know Aedan and Silas both would enjoy the sculpture courses, as would I. I have made it a habit to work alongside the kids in art the past few years in a way I didn't in years prior. It's never too late to learn, in my opinion.

Thank you for walking through our lessons in Artistic Pursuits with us! I hope you will find it a fantastic and useful program for your homeschool as we have! 

Disclaimer: In exchange for my review, I received a free copy of the Artistic Pursuits Book 1 course. All of the opinions, however, are my own and are shared honestly.

Biology 101 {Review}

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

As we head into the high school years I am so thankful for homeschool companies who have gone to great lengths to provide tools for a quality education. I first happened upon the 101 Series a few years ago when I was looking into chemistry programs for my son. I was playing with an idea to make our 8th grade year high school credit worthy, and again and again Chemistry 101 came up as a recommendation. I bought the program and I could immediately see why people enjoy this program so much. We used Chemistry 101 last year and enjoyed it so much that as we head into high school biology I absolutely wanted to also check out Biology 101.

 I was thrilled to have the opportunity to review this program as I am already a fan of this series. I appreciate that the 101 Series is designed with the homeschool family in mind. As a busy homeschool mom I am happy to see that this program set up in a way that is easily implemented on a weekly basis. Let me share the program's components.

Biology 101 is a high school level DVD video course that comes with a downloadable guidebook.

There are 4 DVDs in the course.

 All 4 DVDs have a total of 9 segments which cover the following lessons:
  • Introduction: Defining Life and Life Classification - 15 min.
  • Plants - 37 min.
  • Aquatic (water) Creatures - 40 min.
  • Avian (flying) Creatures - 44 min.
  • Land Animals Part 1 - 22 min.
  • Land Animals Part 2 - 28 min.
  • Mankind Part 1 - 27 min
  • Mankind Part2 - 24 min.
  • Conclusion: Cells, Genetics, and a Brief History of Biology - 40 min
  • Guidebook and Accreditation Booklet PDF 

Our family enjoys watching this series. I appreciate that science is taught from a biblical perspective in a clear and interesting way. Wes Olson is an absolutely fantastic teacher! You can see his enthusiasm come through in the way he explains the lesson. You can watch the introduction to the course here.

Each video lesson is broken into several parts. As the new subject begins, that topic is highlighted on the screen. The printable guidebook also follows the same format.

 The boys enjoy the videography of this series and giggle when Wes Olson uses some sort of digital trick to illustrate a concept. It's obvious a lot of work went into the production of these videos!

 The 4th DVD has a printable Accreditation booklet. You can find a sample here. The booklet is a schedule that lays out how to use the course in order to fulfill one high school biology credit with lab. You accomplish this over 27 weeks, doing 135 hours of total study to earn the credit. Your student will use the following methods to study biology:

Use DVD and Guidebook
Biology Notebook
Research and Lab reports
20 Hours of Biology Labs
Discussion Questions
Online Resources and Library Books
Field Trips

 This represents three weeks of work out of the accreditation booklet. You can find a sample here. There are great suggestions throughout the booklet for lab work to fulfill that requirement for biology. One of the labs for plants was to identify 10 non-vascular and vascular plants in our yard. I appreciate that there are also essays assigned to give them practice on writing in an academic way about science.

 Aedan watched the plants segment with me. I checked out some library books on plants and trees as suggested in the accreditation book. One of the lovely things about this course is that you can add living books to bring it even more to life.

 We also took a trip to a local nursery to identify some plants. I love that there are field trips suggested throughout the course. Field trips are the ice cream of our school days and such a fantastic way to experience what we are learning together. I hope we will be able to enjoy many of the suggestions in the year to come.

Another thing I really appreciate about this course is that it can be as much or as little as you want it to be. It can be a full blown course that gives your students the opportunity to really dive into researching topics that interest them, or you can use it as a supplement to other biology materials. If your student is drawn to independent research and going on rabbit trails of learning, this is the perfect program. I love that it gives so many opportunities for diving deeper into a topic of interest.

The printable guidebook has a lesson for the student to read either before or after the video lesson. There is a sample of the guide book here.

I've found that it's better for Aedan to read it before the video lesson and to answer as many questions from the lesson quiz as he can from the reading. If there are ones he didn't find in the reading the answer is often in the video lesson.

At the end of each reading there is a short multiple choice quiz. It is a good review of what they are learning and a good way to tell if they understood the main points of the lesson. There is an answer guide at the back of the guidebook that makes the quizzes easy to grade.

I hope you will check out the 101 Series for your homeschool! Be sure to check out Chemistry 101. We loved how it explained chemistry in the context of history. We traveled from the birth of chemistry through the development of the periodic table. We especially loved learning about many the many chemists who developed chemistry into what it is today. I am looking forward to using Physics 101 in the future! 

Disclaimer: In exchange for my review, I received a free copy of the Biology 101 DVD course. All of the opinions, however, are my own and are shared honestly.

Week in Review - HOD MtMM Unit 35

Friday, May 19, 2017

We have come to the end of the end here at Monarch Room. My first born school completed his final year of middle school this week. I will have more to say about our year as a whole later, but for now I will update our final week.

Since we finished our work we have taken every opportunity to spend time with friends. Our sweet friends drove up from the country to come and see Aedan's artwork at the Kemper Museum. I still haven't shared about this, but I took lots of pictures. More to come soon!

Week in Review - HOD CtC Unit 35

Thursday, May 18, 2017

This was our final week in HOD Creation to Christ. Tears. We had a beautiful year reading from the creation account all the way to the final chapters of Acts and about how the apostles spread the gospel to the ends of the earth. It was fun returning to this guide and seeing it through Silas's eyes this time. We have already packed up our box of books to ship off to another family to enjoy. Ending the year is always a little bittersweet. It means we accomplished oh so much, but it also means my boys are growing up.

We dug out all of Silas's Robert Frost poetry paintings to admire. I am glad we made it through to the end with both boys on these. They are such a treasure of learning.

Week in Review - HOD MtMM Unit 34

Saturday, May 13, 2017

This was our almost last week of school. Yay! As I shared in Silas's post, it was also our last week of co-op. Both boys enjoyed each of their classes. Aedan took a pottery wheel class and a digital art class.

Of course Aedan couldn't just make a plate in pottery. He made this "french pilot guy" Pierre. It got cracked in the firing, but I still thought it was quite clever. I'm my boys' biggest fans of course!

Week in Review - HOD CtC Unit 34

We are almost to the very end of the end here at Monarch Room! This week we wrapped up our classes at co-op. Silas took a pottery wheel class. Additionally, he took a class called Money Town. We have a local program in town called Exchange City that I remember doing when I was in 5th grade. It is basically a day where kids get the opportunity to have grown up jobs. There was a bank, many different kinds of shops, restaurants, etc. I was a jewelry designer way back when on that day. Our co-op decided to base an 8 week class on that model. Silas had so much fun!

Our co-op was a neat experience because they got to create their own business from the ground up. He decided to open a restaurant called Charred Meat N' Stuff.

Week in Review - HOD MtMM Unit 33

Friday, May 5, 2017

This week our history was especially fun because we were reading about my childhood. It's strange when you realize that you are the history tale bearer for kids who didn't live during a period. I very much remember many of these events. My husband loved Reagan, so it was fun for him to discuss with Aedan more about his life.

A child of the 80's most memorable event was the Challenger explosion. I remember sitting in my classroom watching this happen in 5th grade. Aedan drew the Challenger out of one of his Draw and Write Through History assignments.

Week in Review - HOD CtC Unit 33

Thursday, May 4, 2017

I already mentioned how we were trying not to rush through these last few weeks. Silas got the idea that he wanted to work ahead, and then he changed his mind. He was used to trying to get done soon, but he also decided that there's no need to rush. Our days have been pretty short anyway because we have been getting done with all the side subjects here and there. Last year we were done before May 1, and it was cold anyway. This month has been no different, so it has totally worked out.

We completed our final Robert Frost poem and painting. Our poem this week was "A Time to Talk." We are both happy to put away our paint brushes for a while although I am very happy we made it all the way through.

The End Is Not The Goal

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

I don't know what it is about this time of year, but it always has me more in a contemplative mood. We have 2 weeks more left on the clock of this school year, and while part of me longs for the break, the other part wants to finish in a way that's meaningful. This year I took a different approach to getting through the year. In years' past we have always rushed to the finish line, packing in extra work just to get a few extra weeks of summer. Silly me. This year I purposefully chose more breaks for me and the boys in favor of more trips and time together during the school year. Here we are later into the spring, and I'm ok with that.

For any of you limping across the finish line, take a deep breath with me. There's no need to cram in extra lessons, check off one more box, fit in just one more math lesson to get to the end sooner. Take it from me, a former end goal recover-er. You'll get there I promise. You may as well enjoy each of these final school days. I promise that there are plenty of lazy days of summer to come. But, there are only a few more days left of kindergarten, 3rd, 5th, 8th, or maybe 12th grade, only a few more days left of sitting alongside your kids at this very stage.

Don't worry, there will be plenty of time to clean the house, make appointments, or to catch up with that friend you haven't seen in a while. We moms know that the to-do list is never really all checked off anyway right? Each time I've rushed to the finish line that list was just as long as it ever was. When my kids were little, a friend passed along that well known poem about quieting down cobwebs and housework left undone, so that you could have just a little more time to rock that baby because of course "babies don't keep." It's no different with toothless first graders, and growing tweenagers, and teens that are even taller than you are. They don't keep either do they? 

For some of you, this is your last year of homeschool. Maybe you're graduating your last student, or maybe you have decided that public or private school is the option that will work better for your family next year or maybe forever. (Hugs.) Being a mom is a long series of goodbyes don't ya think? These are very precious days indeed.

 So, just remember (with me) that the end really isn't the goal. The goal is to soak in each of these remaining days in whichever way you choose to spend them fully. I'm cheering myself on just as much as I am you. Maybe we can slow down enough together to enjoy our stroll to the end.

Week in Review - HOD MtMM Unit 32

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

One of my favorite things about HOD is the many, many biographies we have gotten to read throughout the years. It's one thing to read a little snippet about someone's life, but another to see how they grew up from childhood into the person they ultimately became who they became to be. This week we read about the life of Mother Teresa, but also began a biography of her life.

I have always wanted to read a biography about Mother Teresa. What compels a person to leave the familiarity of home to live in complete want of comfort and safety? Obviously in her case she felt a very clear call of God, and he provided for her in every way. Her life was the furthest from easy, but she inspired us in so many ways.

Week in Review - HOD CtC Unit 32

Monday, May 1, 2017

This week we reached the most important event in history: The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It has been really cool reading from creation all the way to this moment in history and to see why God chose to bring Christ into the world at this exact moment in time. This age old story never gets old.

Week in Review - HOD MtMM Unit 31

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

We are nearing the finish line of our school year. I have loved working toward modern day history with Aedan. I feel like we have both learned so much. The one thing I have loved most about this year is that we have focused not only on the events of modern history, but of how God's people rose to the occasion often facing death with a bravery that only He can give.

Week in Review - HOD CtC Unit 31

Monday, April 24, 2017

This week we spent our time reading about the final days of Christ's life. Homeschool is such a unique and wonderful responsibility and privilege. Reading about the persecuted church in Asia with Aedan in his history lessons makes me even more thankful to have the opportunity to share the gospel each day with my boys. 

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