Art, Coloring, and Cursive? My Review of THE ART OF CURSIVELOGIC

Readers of the finchnwren blog might remember that we’ve reviewed CursiveLogic’s quality curriculum before.  Designed for both children and adult learners (even those who’ve never written in cursive before), their handwriting lessons are logical, understandable, and easy to follow for both instructors and learners alike.  Now, CursiveLogic has an incredible new product that I’m very excited to tell you about: The Art of CursiveLogic.  CursiveLogic sent me a free sample of this gorgeous new book to review.  And yes, it’s as gorgeous on the inside as it is on the cover!

 

Cursive Logic’s unique method…

is something that is designed to help students understand the way cursive works, and to be able to reproduce cursive letters successfully, based on these precepts:

  1. Grouping letters together by shape:  Instead of teaching each letter alone, CursiveLogic teaches about groups of letters which are shaped in similar ways
  2. Teaching a group’s letters in “strings”:  Students learn to connect letters together right away as they work on the letters in a group
  3. Using color to “code” letter strings:  Students are helped to remember the letters in a grouping because they’re all in the same color
  4. Mnemonic phrases to teach letter groupings:  Students learn rhymes for each string so that they can remember how to form the letters
  5. Students are encouraged because even by the end of the first lesson, they can write real words by using the CursiveLogic process

(You can read about our experiences with CursiveLogic in my review at this link.)

Now, CursiveLogic has taken these methods and incorporated them into a combination cursive writing program AND a gorgeous art coloring book!

For anyone who’s loving the current wave of coloring books for adults…

and would also like to practice or learn cursive, The Art of CursiveLogic is a truly beautiful and effective purchase!  (You can preorder this book via the link in the previous sentence; orders are expected to be shipped in May 2017.)

Adults or teens who need to practice their cursive, or really who’ve never actually learned cursive, will love this book.  CursiveLogic employs its effective teaching process (listed above) to enable students to practice and learn cursive quickly and logically.  The Art of CursiveLogic has the additional bonus of providing not only coloring pages (that are real works of art themselves), but coloring pages which incorporate cursive letters in them as part of the decoration.  It’s pretty astonishing!  You can see in the picture above a segment of the page I colored.  It’s from a decorative artsy page featuring a quote from Vincent Van Gogh.  (You can also tell that he’s being featured on this page because of the swirly nature of the drawing, CursiveLogic’s take on “Starry Night.”)  You can see that, tucked in among and actually becoming part of the art itself, CursiveLogic’s cursive letters are everywhere.

How I used The Art of Cursive Logic

I know that I can always work on improving my handwriting.  But really…as an adult/wife/mom/homeschooler/art teacher/reviewer, where I am going to find the time to work on my cursive?  Probably nowhere.

But.

When I received the sample of The Art of CursiveLogic, I absolutely fell in love.  No, I may not have time to sit down and purposely work on my handwriting.  In my leisure moments, that’s probably not what I’m going to choose to do.  But sitting down with my colored pencils and other art supplies, to create art using an astonishingly beautiful coloring book that will also help my handwriting?  That’s a definite yes!

As I mentioned before, we’ve done a few reviews for CursiveLogic.  I have the highest respect for the company and the work they do, and the way their curriculum really does work with students of all ages.  So when CursiveLogic offered to send me a sample of The Art of CursiveLogic, I was happy to try it out for them and share what we thought with our readers.  I knew to expect excellence.  But I didn’t expect to get truly blown away by incredible art coloring pages that I, myself, could use and delight in!

The sample book that CursiveLogic sent me has their time-tested instructional pages for the cursive alphabet.  But it also has 4 coloring pages that are designed around a particular quote plus a bonus one on the back inside cover that’s design-only.  (Obviously, the complete book will have many more than that!)  The coloring pages are fairly intricate (meaning that you won’t complete it in one sitting, perhaps) but all use cursive lettering as part of the art.  Both the art and the quotes are uplifting.  I always came away happy and encouraged after working on a page!

I’ve only used my colored pencils in The Art of CursiveLogic, and they worked well.  The paper is high-quality and accepts color quite richly.  You might be able to use oil pastels as well.

 

Where can you find The Art of CursiveLogic?

Simply click through this link The Art of CursiveLogic to find the preorder page.

And I’ll let you in on a little secret.  I have loved this so much that when someone asked what I’d like for a gift for International Women’s Day, I told them that I wanted The Art of CursiveLogic!  So I’ll also be receiving the complete copy of this fabulous coloring book when it’s sent out this May!

I’m so excited.  In the meantime, I’ll just be working on finishing the other coloring pages in my sample book!

I’m happy to recommend The Art of CursiveLogic to you.  (Clearly!)  If you’re:

  • an adult who loves to color and would like to practice cursive writing at the same time;
  • or if you’re a teen who needs handwriting practice;
  • or an adult or second-language learner who’s learning English cursive for the first time;
  • or you just love to color amazing art;

…then you’ll want to check out CursiveLogic‘s The Art of CursiveLogic!

 

 

You can download a free coloring page here…

by clicking on this Share The Art of CursiveLogic link and sharing on Facebook.  Once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to download the bird coloring page to print and color.

Enjoy!  –Wren

DISCLAIMER:  From time to time, finchnwren may receive a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog.  We are not required to write a positive or glowing review, nor are we additionally compensated for these reviews.  We share our own opinions, and our family’s opinion, of these products.  We’re disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

 

 

 

Physics 101 from The 101 Series ~ Our Review

We have just had the opportunity to use and review a quite captivating science course, complete with teaching videos:  Physics 101 from The 101 Series.  This was a brand-new way for us to experience science and we learned a ton while truly enjoying ourselves!   (You really have to love it when you can say that about schoolwork.)

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The 101 Series

The 101 Series was created by Wes and Tammy Olson.  Homeschoolers themselves, the Olsons researched and created The 101 Series when they didn’t find high school science curricula that was just right for their family.  Wes Olson, who worked in corporate filmmaking for over 15 years, also has a deep interest in science.  Working together with scientific experts, Wes brings his own filmmaking expertise to produce excellent, understandable science from a Christian worldview.  The Olsons have produced three high school science curricula thus far:  Physics 101, Chemistry 101, and Biology 101.  (I understand from their website that they’re currently working on a general science curriculum as well!

 

 

 

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The 101 Series’ Physics 101

Physics 101 is a 4-disc DVD set which contains 20 chapters of video material.  It’s designed for high school students, ages 15 and up (though my son is a bit younger than that and enjoyed and understood it well).  Each chapter, or lesson, teaches about a specific area of physics, in videos which last from 20-40 minutes apiece.  The video lessons are taught by Wes Olson, who’s an engaging and often funny teacher.  The chapters are divided into 7 different areas, with 1-3 lessons in each chapter, covering:

  • The Physics of Light
  • The Physics of Sound
  • The Physics of Heat
  • The Physics of Electricity
  • The Physics of Motion
  • The Physics of the Weird (hilarious, I know–but that’s really the section title!)
  • The Future of Physics

However, this DVD set is not only teaching videos.  One disc also contains a printable student guidebook, quizzes for each lesson, and a lesson plan for the teacher to use.  Students use the guidebook and the videos to create a physics notebook, complete experiments, do further research on various topics, and write papers on what they learn.  It’s an excellent program which utilizes visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning methods, as well as helping students refine their own research skills.

 

 

physics-101-pic-2How we used it

Physics is something that I always wish I had learned more about.  I have a decent background in optics—and while that is awesome, it still leaves out sound, motion, electricity, and heat.  (Probably more than that, but that’s what I am aware of at the moment!)  Anyway, I was very excited for us to use and review Physics 101, and my son Jackson (who’s 14) and I worked together on the various lessons.  The teachers’ plans for each segment are fantastic, and give clear instructions on how the student should complete each segment.  We simply followed those plans.  First, we’d watch the videos.  The student guidebook serves as a sort of textbook that goes along with the videos, and could either be used alongside the videos, or read after we viewed them.  There are discussion questions which will also deepen and expand the students’ understanding of the various physics lessons and applications.  Following that, we completed the labs (a.k.a. experiments) which are included in each segment.  Jackson then did the research and wrote essays on the topics listed (e.g., why is the sky blue?  Why is my face upside down in a spoon? etc.).  To close out the learning for each segment, students watch the teaching video once more and then take a quiz, which is included in the guidebook.

 

physics-101-pic-4Our experiences

I can sum them up in one word:

Wow!

Wes Olson takes the sometimes ephemeral truths and lessons about some non-tangible scientific principles—and makes them clear and understandable.  Really!  Did you ever think about how God created light first…but the sun wasn’t created until the 4th day of creation?  Hmm!  That’s very interesting, isn’t it?  And there is a scientific principle behind that that I have never, ever heard before.  I’m not going to spoil it for you by telling you what it is, but I’ll give you a key word that might be in the answer:  electrons.

Or how about that sky that is so blue…what makes it that way?  (Hint: it’s not the oceans.)  Or why exactly are the things in your driver’s side rearview mirror closer than they appear?  There is a reason for that and it has to do with convex mirrors.  Or…why do oil and water refract things differently?

All of those questions can be answered by….physics!  And it is truly fascinating.  Jackson and I were amazed and so interested in the videos.  We always enjoy experiments, and I appreciated the way that all of the labs more deeply teach the principles taught in the videos.  Jackson says:  “He is a good person to be (teaching) it because he can add good humor to a situation.”  I think that might be my son’s way of saying that Mr. Olson makes physics both fun and fascinating, never dry or boring.

One thing in particular was a learning experience I believe my son had that was influenced by the great teaching on the videos (as well as the additional research he did on his own).  There were two times when we would be watching the video teaching when he made a leap of understanding; where he took the information that he was learning from the teaching video and was able to extrapolate, or draw further conclusions about scientific principles.  That was so exciting!

I also appreciated the extra research Jackson had to do.  Both websites and library books, or other reference materials, can be used for the research.  Jackson wrote his essays on the computer, then printed them for his notebook.

Physics 101 covers the equivalent of one year’s high school science study.  For our purposes it was very, very effective.

 

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Where can you find The 101 Series?

You may purchase Physics 101 from The 101 Series, simply by clicking the links and heading over to the company’s site.  In fact, you may also purchase other excellent science curricula, like Chemistry 101 or Biology 101, from the same website.  Would you like to find out more about those other courses?  Many Crew members reviewed one of these three courses, and you can find out more about their experiences by clicking the banner below.

You can visit The 101 Series at their social media sites:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/the101series
Twitter: https://twitter.com/the101series/ @the101series
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/the101series/

Enjoy!  –Wren

Physics, Chemistry & Biology 101 {The 101 Series}Crew Disclaimer

Learning Calligraphy with “Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting” ~ My Experiences And Review

If there were ever a language arts curriculum that could be described as multi-purpose, it would be Everyday Education, LLC‘s Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting.  I have just had the great pleasure of reviewing this program in its digital version for the Homeschool Review Crew.  With it, I’ve been able to progress on a goal I’ve had for years; learning and perhaps more importantly, being able to successfully write in calligraphy italic!

 

everyday-ed-bannerWhat is Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting?

Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting is a program which can be used to teach children to read and to write.  It’s available in printed form, as an ebook, or in a combined form of print and ebook.  In 60 days, you can teach your children to read using this program!  And, as your children are learning to read with this resource, you’ll also be teaching them to write beautifully.  Because it’s based on phonics, even children as young as 4 or 5 can learn to read with their parents.  Or, if your older child needs some extra help with reading, Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting can strengthen his ability to utilize phonics and read more effectively.  This program can also not only teach children to write for the first time, but to learn to write more legibly or beautifully.  Or, as in my own case, it’s great for adults who wish to improve their handwriting by learning italic calligraphy.

The writing program starts with single italic letters written in a vertical format; then, progresses to writing in a slanted format; and lastly, to writing with the letters connected to one another.  If you’d like to see an actual lesson, you can download a PDF of lesson 31 from Everyday Education, LLC’s web page Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting.  Just click on that link and scroll down until you see the red download link, and you can see, download, and practice it for yourself.

 

 

everyday-ed-1How I used Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting

We are years past our times of learning to read in our homeschool.  However, when I discovered that Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting could also be used as a calligraphy learning program, I was thrilled!

Since we received a digital version of this program, I saved it to my computer and printed the first 59 pages (of 218) to start with, which I  placed in a folder. The handwriting program begins with italic handwriting written vertically, and starts with the vowels.  Because children are able to learn best when they look at what they’re writing, author Caroline Joy Adams provides examples of each letter at the top of each page, along with lines for handwriting practice.  This isn’t only helpful for children, though; it really enabled me to be able to form the italic letters!

I worked on one page at a time.  I used either a gel pen or a fine point Sharpie to practice my letters.  First, I’d trace the example letters in both upper case and lower case.  Then, I repeated those letters on the lines below.  Next, I’d continue to practice the letters on a separate blank sheet of handwriting paper (included in the ebook).  In addition to the first learning pages, which have generally two letters and several practice lines on each one, there are reference pages with the entire alphabet.  Later on there are pages with printed words to copy and practice, and sentences as well.  There are just a lot of practice pages for every level of the program.

 

 

everyday-ed-2What I thought about this program

This is the second time that I have tried calligraphy.  I bought a book years ago and tried to follow its directions.  But, I really never felt that I “got” its instruction well enough to feel that I was writing the letters beautifully or correctly.

This time—it has been completely different.  Caroline Joy Adams’ program is extremely simple and easy-to-follow…with almost immediate results!

I found the writing font fairly easy to master.  The most difficult letter was the letter A, which was the first one I attempted.  I don’t think it was difficult because the letter was challenging, but because it was teaching me the new method of writing and the new font.  Unlike normal writing, when I (as a right-hander) slant the paper to the left, I wrote on the paper as it was placed vertically on my writing surface (so that it was straight up and down, not slanted).

I haven’t mastered the entire alphabet yet.  I still require practice to shape the letters the same way each time I write them.  (I have, after all, been printing differently for many years!)  But once I have, the curriculum provides pages with actual letters and sentences, so that I may continue to improve and write more naturally.  Eventually, I’ll be able to progress to writing slanted letters, and then to connected italic letters (which will look more like cursive).

Although I haven’t always been a fan of printables in the past, I loved having Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting in digital form.  That way, I was always able to print additional practice pages when I needed a little more help on a letter.

I have found the entire process so enjoyable.  I love the font, I enjoy writing the letters, and I love that, as I continue to practice, I’ll gain the ability to write beautifully in calligraphy!  It’s also fun to have something to practice on during homeschool while my son works on his handwriting.

 

everyday-ed-3Where you can find Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting

You may purchase Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting from Everyday Education, LLC.  It’s very reasonably priced at $29.  I recommend it most definitely for anyone who’s interested in learning beautiful handwriting!  Other Crew members reviewed other curricula from Everyday Education, LLC, and you can read about their experiences by clicking on the banner below.  You may also visit Everyday Education, LLC at their social media sites:

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/janicecampbell/
FB page: https://www.facebook.com/excellenceinlit/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/janicepcampbell
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+JaniceCampbell
Twitter: https://twitter.com/everydayedu

 

Beautiful Handwriting, Literature and Poetry {Everyday Education, LLC}Crew Disclaimer

“If You Were Me and Lived in…” Books by Carole P. Roman ~ A Review

 

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Recently we were blessed with some wonderful books to review!  Brought to you by Carole P. Roman and Awaywegomedia.com, the If You Were Me and Lived In…  series vividly opens worlds of the past to children.  We received four wonderful softcover books:

cp-roman-pic-1What are the If You Were Me and Lived In… books?

Author Carole P. Roman has created a wonderful collection of books for children in the If You Were Me and Lived In…  series.  In each one, the stories of life as it was in different parts of the world and in different historical eras are described as if she were talking to a child.  Even more interesting, she talks as if she were describing that child’s actual life in those historical times!  Bright and expressive illustrations accompany the text, and the daily life, foods, transportation, housing, and education are described in fascinating ways, so that the reader (or the child being read to) can experience what life was really like.

Carole P. Roman generously provided four books for us to use.  Let me tell you about them!

eliz-england-romanIf You Were Me and Lived in Elizabethan England

What was life like in under the rule of Elizabeth I of England, in 1578?  If you lived during this era, you lived in a rich and exciting–though challenging–time.  William Shakespeare was penning his exciting plays, Elizabeth I was a powerful and influential queen on the world stage, and both art and architecture were flourishing.  However, you might have been poor, rather than a wealthy ruler.  You might have cleaned homes for a living or grown up on a farm.  Or, you might have lived in London, which, while glamorous, was also quite dirty and sometimes dangerous!

How did you dress?  What kind of money did you have (or not have)?  How did you worship?  All of these questions are answered and accompanied by wonderful illustrations.  A glossary plus a listing of important people of Elizabeth I’s era round out the book.

 

am-west-romanIf You Were Me and Lived in the American West

After we finished our book on Elizabethan England, we embarked on a journey to the American West.  This book is written from the perspective of a 12-year-old boy, whose family traveled to Oregon on a Conestoga wagon from Ohio.  A covered wagon took his family and all their most important possessions (not that that many could actually fit in the wagon) on a 5-month long trip.  What did the boy wear?  How did they get milk?  (They brought along their own milk by way of a cow, along with some goats and a pig!)  Each family member had jobs to do along the trail.  Food was limited, Indians were feared, and illness sadly took the lives of some on the trip.

But finally, the boy’s family made it to Oregon.  But they couldn’t move into a house; they had to build their own with the help of other new settlers.  And then they settled in, and became farmers, students, and sometimes (at least, the boy hopes!) cowboys.  Ms. Roman finishes this book with a list of important people from the settling of the American West, and a glossary of important terms.

More students might be familiar with this era.  But Ms. Roman makes it fascinating!

 

ancient-greece-romanIf You Were Me and Lived in Ancient Greece

This is a quite incredible children’s history book.  It has more text in it than the first two we reviewed.  Yet, it’s just as interesting and I believe that children will be equally as engaged with it.  Ms. Roman covers Alexander the Great, the Olympics, ancient Greek philosophers, the Greek pantheon of gods/goddesses, clothing, daily life, the agora, and more.  Children will also learn about the homes, jewelry, food and drink, and even hairstyles of ancient Greek men, women, and children!

 

viking-europe-romanIf You Were Me and Lived in Viking Europe

It has been a very long time since we studied the Vikings in our homeschool; seems like it was first or second grade!  So it was fascinating to pick up Ms. Roman’s book on Viking life.  Like her book on ancient Greece, this has smaller text and covers much interesting information about life for the Vikings.  Where did they live?  Whom did they worship?  (If you’re a Marvel fan, some of these names might sound familiar!)  The daily work of families, the names they called each other, the food they ate, and the three classes of Viking families are all introduced here.  Lovely and colorful illustrations accompany the text.

 

late-summer-2016-and-ninjago-poster-images-117How we used these:

This year, we are studying American history again, so I was happy to receive If You Were Me and Lived in… Elizabethan England (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time) (Volume 3) and If You Were Me and Lived in…the American West (Volume 7) to review.  Because our current history book started with native Americans who lived in what would become North and South America, and because England did eventually send explorers to the New World, the book on Elizabeth I’s time was ideal, as was the book on the American West.  We used them as an adjunct to our regular history studies.  Both these books would be fantastic for reading aloud, but because my son is 14, he read them on his own over a period of several weeks in our school time.  We both found it quite interesting; the way Ms. Roman writes makes it quite easy for the reader to put him- or herself into the time frame and imagine what life was like.  (Much harder, I’d say, than life in 21st century America!)  We particularly enjoyed the illustrations as well.  Both Ms. Roman and the various illustrators work together to make reading these books a truly enjoyable, as well as educational, experience.

Ms. Roman also very kindly included two of her other books (that I shared a bit about above): If You Were Me and Lived in…Ancient Greece (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time) (Volume 1), and If You Were Me and Lived in…Viking Europe .  I used these on my own, but I expect we’ll pick them up in our homeschool as soon as we cover those periods of history again.  Lovely!

 

 

late-summer-2016-and-ninjago-poster-images-118Carole P. Roman has some excellent free printable materials which go nicely with these (and other!) books at her blog.  Simply visit Carole P. Roman to access and print these for further study.  These include great questions and worksheets which will deepen the understanding of the student.

I only wish that we had run into Ms. Roman’s work when my son was much younger!  He might have felt, at age 14, that he was almost too old for these books, since they include illustrations.  However, we both did enjoy them and learned things we hadn’t known.  (Or that we’d forgotten but needed to revisit!)

We definitely recommend these beautiful, useful books for families and homeschools.  They’re a gentle and beautiful, and engaging way, to learn history!

 

late-summer-2016-and-ninjago-poster-images-120Where to purchase these books

You may purchase these books at the following links:

Be sure to check them out.  You’ll really enjoy them!  In addition, other Crew members reviewed other titles in this series.  If you click on the banner below, you’ll be able to read about other homeschoolers’ experiences.

You may also visit Carole P. Roman at the following social media links:

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/CarolePRomanAwardWinningAuthorAndBooks
Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/caroleproman/
Good Reads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5854108.Carole_P_Roman
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/caroleproman

 

If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and Awaywegomedia.com}Crew DisclaimerEnjoy! –Wren

The Only Pencil Sharpener You’ll Ever Need ~ Review of the Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener

Yes, it’s really true: I believe that the Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener is the only one you’ll ever need, whether you’re looking for one to use in your homeschool or your classroom!  Classroom Friendly Supplies very kindly sent me and Jackson a Cool Blue Classroom Friendly Sharpener to use and review in our homeschool.  I can only say, “Where has this sharpener been all my life??”

 

ClassroomFS Sharpener banner

Why we needed the Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener:

We don’t use pencils for every single thing we do in homeschool.  But we DO use them for math, for journaling, for art, for nature drawing, and for handwriting.  I personally use one for lesson planning.  And as many people do, we prefer a nice sharp point on our pencils for writing or drawing.  However, that became a point of frustration over the years.  We have used a battery-operated electric sharpener….that died.  We have found manual sharpeners that really worked well….until they didn’t when the sharpener’s blade dulled.  Then we’d end up with pencil lead that would *almost* be perfectly sharp.  The, the nice tip would break off in the sharpener and we’d have nothing but a pencil that needed sharpening again.

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This was so frustrating for both me and my son.  Finally in desperation, I switched to a mechanical pencil.  But that didn’t take care of the problem for Jackson, or for me when I wanted to journal or create art using colored pencils.  Then we just ended up with a bunch of nubs.

cfs-sharpener-pic-3The Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener

So, you can imagine how thrilled I was to receive this sharpener to use.  As you can see, we received the Cool Blue sharpener, although It’s available in a variety of colors (blue, green, purple, red, pink, black).  It’s made of metal, with a few plastic pieces.  It also comes with a clamp for affixing the sharpener to a countertop or bookcase, but it’s stable enough without the clamp, and we never needed to use it.  It’s very sturdy and has a good weight, but it’s not overly heavy.

It doesn’t work exactly like the pencil sharpeners you might remember from your own elementary classroom.  However, it’s actually quite simple to use and operate for both children and adults.  You can see a video or directions on how to use the Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener at the company website.  But I’ll describe them for you here as well!

First:  Pull the silver portion straight out into a locking position.

CFS Sharpener Pic 4

Second:  Push the two black square knobs together and insert pencil fully into the sharpener.  Release the knobs.

CFS Sharpener pic 5

Third:  Hold the top of the sharpener lightly but firmly and turn the handle clockwise.  In just a few turns, the pencil will be sharpened.

CFS Sharpener pic 6

Fourth:  Pinch the two knobs together to release the pencil.

 

CFS Sharpener pic 7

Finally:  Ta-da!  A gorgeously-sharpened pencil!

How we used it

I mentioned above how many ways we use pencils in our homeschool.  So, Jackson used the Classroom Friendly Sharpener for his pencil school needs.  You can see his hand in the pictures above in my step-by-step directions.

 

CFS Sharpener pic 8I also teach an art class in our homeschool coop.  For an upcoming project, we’ll be using watercolor pencils.  I have a large supply of those, but about half of them were worn down to nubs from use over time.  I wanted my students to have sharpened pencils to work with, but I didn’t want to take the pencils to class unsharpened.  The pencils needed to be ready to go!  So I used our Classroom Friendly Sharpener, and in about 5 minutes, sharpened this huge bunch.

 

CFS Sharpener pic 10I probably could have sharpened them a bit more quickly, but twice I had to fix a tiny issue.  With two of my pencils, a small amount of lead broke off inside the sharpener’s blades.  However, the Classroom Friendly Supplies website has a Help Portal which has instructions for fixing small issues.  By watching their video and reading some instructions, I was able to take the sharpener apart, find the broken lead, and get it out using a toothpick.  Voila!  The issue was addressed and the sharpener was back to work!

I should tell you that I sharpened 23 watercolor pencils in a row before that happened.  🙂

 

CFS Sharpener pic 9Our thoughts

I LOVE this sharpener.  It is so easy to use, it sharpens pencils quite incredibly, and problems are easy to troubleshoot and fix.  It is attractive and I don’t mind having it out in our homeschool study area.  I also really appreciate not having to hunt down the tiny manual sharpeners that we’ve been using!

One does have to apply pressure while turning the handle and sharpening, but it’s not an inordinate amount.  As I said, I sharpened pencils for 5 minutes and only at the end did my arm start to tire.

The Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener met a definite need in our homeschool….and removed a consistent source of frustration.  I love knowing that sharpening broken or dull pencils will never be a problem for us again, either in our home studies or for my art class.  I recommend it wholeheartedly to you!

 

CFS Sharpener pic 11How to purchase

You may purchase the Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener at Classroom Friendly Supplies.  I’d love for you to visit their website or their social media sites to see more about the only sharpener you’ll ever need!

Enjoy!  –Wren

Visit Classroom Friendly Supplies at:

www.classroomfriendlysupplies.com
info@classroomfriendlysupplies.com

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New Fabulous Music Appreciation for Homeschools: On Sale Thru 8/15/16!

My friend Gena is a talented musician and has taught music for many years in both classrooms and her own homeschool.  Our readers may remember when Jackson and I reviewed her wonderful 21 Lessons in 20th Century American Music last year.  (You can click on the link to see our review.)  Phenomenal, beautiful, and so easy for even non-musical-types to use!

 

$20 of the 2-volume set of 20th Century Music Appreciation this week only at ichoosejoy.org/store

Now, for a limited time (just until Monday, 8/15/16), you can get $20 off that curriculum as well as her newest one, 25 Lessons in 20th Century European and South American Music Appreciation!  We’ll actually be using this new one and sharing our thoughts with you all in mid-September, so keep an eye out.  I’m so looking forward to it though.  Have you ever even SEEN a music appreciation course that teaches about South American music before?  Maybe on the college level, but nowhere else!

Here’s a little more from Gena:

Are there any homeschool moms here who are frustrated that they don’t have the time or means to include music in their homeschools? I’m happy to share that Gena Mayo (of Music in Our Homeschool) has two brand new products for sale this week!

First, let me tell you about the great self-paced online course:

20th Century Music Appreciation for High School

If you have a high schooler who needs a fine arts credit, you’ll want to look into this! Once it’s purchased, it’s yours forever, so all of your kids will be able to use it and get a 1/2 credit during high school. But, it can also be used for Mom to guide her kids through the 36 weekly lessons and even to teach at a homeschool co-op!

This week only, get $30 off the course price! Use coupon code LAUNCHWEEK. Head over to the Music in Our Course site to preview some lessons for free.

20th-Century-Music-Appreciation-Course-for-High-School-Students Pinterest

Second, if you’d prefer an ebook curriculum, you’ll want to check out her new one:

25 Lessons in 20th Century European & South American Music Appreciation

If purchased separately, it’s $10 off this week or get it in a Bundle with the previous volume 21 Lessons in 20th Century American Music Appreciation for $20 off! Use coupon code LAUNCHWEEK.

25-Lessons-Music-Appreciation-Pinterest

What’s included in the ebook?

Learn about these composers and music from Europe and South America during the 20th Century:

  • Puccini
  • Mahler
  • Debussy
  • R. Strauss
  • Sibelius
  • Granados
  • De Falla
  • Vaughn Williams
  • Rachmaninoff
  • Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern
  • Holst
  • Ravel
  • Bartok
  • Stravinsky
  • Kodaly and Orff
  • Villa-Lobos
  • Ginastera
  • Prokofiev
  • The Beatles and other pop groups of the British Invasion
  • Hindemith
  • Khatchaturian
  • Shostakovich
  • Messiaen
  • Britten
  • Andrew Lloyd Webber and other composers of musical theater

All links to listen to their music, as well as notebooking pages, are included.

Remember to use coupon code LAUNCHWEEK to get $10, $20, or $30 off (depending on the product). Sale ends August 15!

Endorsements:

“As a music educator, I appreciate the depth and organization Gena has put into her music curriculum. She provides many interesting facts and resources comparable to my college music history classes for high school students to learn about different composers of 20th Century European and South American music.” –Kathy Gossen of Cornerstone Confessions.

“Gena has done it again! This is a wonderfully comprehensive look at musicians from the 20th century, a great addition to her previous curriculum on American artists. There were so many composers whose music I was familiar with but didn’t know their names or anything else about them. I look forward to teaching this in my homeschool!” –Michelle Habrych, homeschool mom of two teens

(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.)

Enjoy!  –Wren

5 Tips for Getting Your Kids Involved with Keeping House ~ Crew Blog Hop “5 Days of Homeschool 101” and a Giveaway, too!

5 Days of Homeschool 101Let’s face it.  When you homeschool, your home = school, classroom, cafeteria, dormitory, principal’s office, supply closet, library.  Not to mention locker space.

Okay–not exactly.  But there is truth to the fact that, in homeschooling, our homes house all of those!  Mom is not only in charge of teaching subjects and directing learning, but also meals and homekeeping.

It is just a LOT to keep up with.  And I’ll freely admit that it is easier for me to teach subjects, rather than to teach how to do home chores!  And over the years (8 years of 1st-8th grade, plus preschool and kindergarten) we have accumulated lots and lots of curricula, games, and educational tools.  As a matter of fact, we’d gotten, by this last spring, to the point that we felt like we were bursting out of our space!

This is the year that we’re seriously working together as a family to declutter, organize, and simplify.  And because I could have used these tips years ago, I’m sharing them with you today as our Crew Blog Hop “5 Days of Homeschool 101” turns to home management!

1.  Set a daily family routine

Or, start back on it when you’ve missed a few!  Here, I’m liking the perspectives of sisters Serene and Pearl of Trim Healthy Mama: “You’re just a few hours away from your next healthy meal.”  Applied to homekeeping, if you miss a day or some chores, just start back on the list where you can, or where you’d start the next morning!

We’re working from a weekly list at the moment.  There are chores we split up every day and a particular area focused on once weekly.  Our daily list (it’s understood that brushing & flossing are included!):

  • Make beds
  • Unload dishwasher
  • Do one load of laundry
  • Wipe out bathroom sinks
  • Clean counters
  • Declutter for 5 minutes
  • Load dishwasher

We don’t do all of that in one fell swoop; rather, we split the tasks up and do some in the morning, some after lunch, some in the afternoon.

And the weekly list?  We’re focusing on one area of the house each weekday.  (Saturdays, for us, are for grocery shopping, catchups, writing, and fun.)  For example:

  • Monday:  Sweep, mop, vacuum, dust
  • Tuesday:  Clean bathrooms/wash towels
  • Wednesday:  Declutter, empty bathroom/bedroom trash
  • Thursday:  Gather library books, wipe down cabinets
  • Friday:  Gather 1 bag of trash and one bag of donations, dust

Would you like help creating a homekeeping list?  Flylady is renowned for helping folks make their homes neat, clean and orderly.  Step by step!

2.  And try an overall schedule for everything else!

What about all those other things, though, that keep a home orderly and neat?  Things you may not do every week but that still need to be done.  Like vacuuming the baseboards, cleaning out the pantry or refrigerator, organizing the linen closet, decluttering the bathroom cabinets.  I can get so busy with regular life that I forget about these things.

For help with this, I turn to my friend Kemi from Homemaking Organized.  Kemi is a homemaking wonder!  I am a subscriber to her site, and she provides the most amazing freebies and printables to help mamas along with homemaking.  Kemi creates a calendar for each month with daily home chores that you can receive via subscription to her site.  Check out her free printables section as well, where you’ll find forms for 36 Weeks of Clean, pages for caring for your home and garden, and time management helps.  Currently, my favorites of Kemi’s are her monthly cleaning calendars (they are even editable!) which she sends to subscribers, and her Household Bucket List, for home projects.

Bountiful April 13.  Meal plan

I am just someone who really benefits from a meal plan; and specifically, from freezer cooking.  What’s freezer cooking?  It’s preparing a number of meals (5-8) in ziploc or slow cooker bags and popping them into the freezer.  All you have to do for dinner then, on any given day, is to pull out the freezer bags, adding a little liquid so that your slow cooker liner doesn’t get cracked, and turning on the cooker.  6-8 hours later you have dinner!  You  might need to prepare a veggie, salad, or grain that evening, but the heavy lifting is already done.

I LOVE this.  Because honestly, my energy level at night is lower than it is in the morning/midday.  So having my family’s meals planned and cooking makes all the difference in the world for all of us getting a healthy meal.

There are books you can get at Amazon or the library on freezer cooking.  But you can also find amazing recipes and lists of recipes on Pinterest.  Really, you can take any slow cooker main dish recipe (almost) and turn it into a freezer meal.  Just keep back 1/4-1/2 C liquid to prevent that freezer shock to your crockpot, and add it with the frozen ingredients that morning!

Fall2015 1634.  Teach your kids to cook…..

There are so many awesome kid cookbooks out there.  Some of our favorites are the Usborne Children’s World Cookbook, both Eat Your Math Homework and Eat Your Science Homework.  We’re also fans of the Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook.  Just select your family’s favorite cookbook and a fun recipe, and work step-by-step through the instructions with your child, assigning them age-appropriate tasks.

 

Summer 2016 2875.  And to clean alongside you!

Did you grow up learning to clean alongside your parents?  What a great gift to give our kiddos!  Of course we can all learn to care for our homes and cook meals.  But if homekeeping is already a part of our children’s lives, that’s one life skill they won’t have to learn on their own.

There are lots of ways to teach kids how to clean.  Just doing chores with them until they know how to complete them on their own is an incredible start.  Lots of bloggers and authors are making kid chore charts (again, check Pinterest for some ideas).  Today, I have a special giveaway opportunity!  I have copies of Times Tales’ Zone Cleaning for Kids and Bedroom Cleaning for Kids to bless one reader with.  This series makes homekeeping so easy for kiddos.  With this system, kids complete a task on a page, check it off with the dry erase marker, and flip the page over for the next day.  Simple, easy-to-understand, and fun to use.

Just enter via the Giveaway Tools form below!  And don’t forget to click through the links below to see what other Crew bloggers have to share.  They’re full of amazing tips and ideas this week!

 

Enjoy! –Wren


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