RSS Feed

Category Archives: TOS Review Crew

WriteShop Junior: Book E ~ Review


WriteShop provides homeschool writing curriculum from students from Kindergarten through 12th grade. WriteShop Junior is written for students in approximately grades 3-5, and provides instruction in creative writing through step-by-step lesson plans and lots of hands-on student activities. Write Shop Junior is written in 2 levels, D for grades 3-4, and E for grades 4-5. Each level’s complete set includes a teacher’s guide, activity pack, time-saver pack, and junior writer’s notebook, and can be purchased in either printed ($106.95) or digital PDF ($78.50) form. We have recently been given the opportunity to use the digital form of WriteShop Junior: Book E, and are happy to share our review with you today.

About the Program

WriteShop Junior: Book E covers various forms of creative writing, which are divided into 10 lessons. Each lesson spans 2 to 3 weeks, depending upon what works best for your schedule. Topics covered include:

Lesson 1: Writing a Fable
Lesson 2: Writing with Humor
Lesson 3: Writing an Adventure
Lesson 4: Writing Science Fiction
Lesson 5: Writing a Mystery
Lesson 6: Concrete Poetry
Lesson 7: Writing a Personal Narrative
Lesson 8: Descriptive Narrative
Lesson 9: Writing a Book Report
Lesson 10: Writing a Nonfiction Report

Each of these 10 lessons is broken down into smaller parts, referred to as Activity Sets. Every lesson has 8 Activity Sets, which provide a way of organizing the activities so that material is presented to students in a consistent and familiar format from one lesson to the next.

Program Components


The WriteShop Junior: Book E Teacher’s Guide provides everything you need to teach writing to your students. It begins with a brief overview of the program, and then gives examples of possible schedules so that you can see which one will work best for your situation. It even gives tips for teaching multiple students who are using different levels of WriteShop. A comprehensive list of materials and supplies is then given, which includes detailed explanations of the student components of the program. Following that is a breakdown of individual lesson activities, and the purpose and procedure for each one.

Following all of this background information is the main part of the teacher’s guide, which is the step-by-step explanation of the program’s 10 lessons. Not only does this program explain what you need to teach and why, but it literally does the teaching for you. Each lesson is completely scripted for you, which means you don’t have to be good at writing yourself in order to teach students to write well. Clear, thorough explanations are also given for the hands-on activities within each lesson, so there is absolutely no guess work when it comes to implementing this program.


graphic_ActivityPackThe WriteShop Junior: Book E Activity Pack includes the student worksheet and activity pages that correspond to each of the 10 lessons.

The Activity Pack includes worksheets for activities typically found in various writing programs, including brainstorming, the writing assignments themselves, and self-editing sheets. In addition to these, WriteShop expands upon the writing process by offering pre-writing worksheets, journal prompts, and hands-on, skill-building activities. The back of the Activity Pack includes additional forms for keeping a reading log, extra journal pages, and a writing skills evaluation chart so that students can keep track of their writing progress throughout the program.

Also included in the Activity Pack is the Fold-N-Go Grammar pack. This pack includes printable sheets with instructions explaining how to assemble them inside file folders in order to create a set of 10 grammar reference guides. These guides will then provide students with their own personal quick references for the following topics:

  • Sentences
  • Four Kinds of Sentences
  • Compound Sentences
  • Parts of Speech: Review
  • Dialogue
  • Homophones, Homonyms, and Homographs
  • Five Paragraphs
  • Prefixes and Suffixes
  • Compound Words
  • Synonyms and Antonyms

Construction of each of the guides is worked right into the lesson plan, with one guide completed per lesson.

graphic_Time-SaverEThe WriteShop Junior: Book E Time-Saver Pack contains all of the necessary printable components used in the hands-on games and activities featured throughout the program. The time-saver pack does just that. It saves time by giving you pre-designed game cards, spinners, and other game elements, which can be quickly printed on cardstock and used right away, rather than taking precious time away from the lesson to make everything by hand.


graphic_JrWritersNotebookThe WriteShop Junior: Book E Junior Writer’s Notebook is a convenient place for students to keep track of their planning activities from their writing processes. The 12 worksheets included provide students with a unique way of focusing on the specific elements of writing, such as setting, plot, and characters. The worksheets also offer student the means to improve their existing compositions by helping students with such things as word choices, creating interesting beginnings and endings in compositions, and conveying emotion to the reader. Students are able to print out these forms as they feel necessary.

How We Used it & Our Final Opinion

Because my youngest son is in the upper age range of this level, and my oldest is one grade above, we decided to use this program at the faster, 2-week-per-lesson recommended. I love the idea of this program, but for us, it was simply overwhelming as far as the number of elements involved with its implementation. That is not to say that there was too much work in the program. The program itself is well laid out, with what I would consider an age-appropriate amount of work and activities. The issue is only that the program simply did not fit with my children’s learning styles.

I think that this program is perfect for parents who do not enjoy writing themselves, or do not consider themselves particularly good at writing or teaching it to their students. In those cases, I am sure that parents would appreciate the detailed explanations, and would find the completely scripted lessons an absolute life-saver.

Furthermore, I am sure that completely tactile learners would find this the perfect curriculum. There is never a case of “take out a blank piece of paper and write”. Instead, everything is presented by way of fun, illustrated worksheets and activities that are mostly hands-on in nature. In other words, it is perfect for students who need a more stimulated, active way of learning the writing process.

Unfortunately, with a younger child who is easily overwhelmed by too much sensory input, and an older child who is a no-nonsense straight shooter, this program simply didn’t work for us. I can say, however, that the program is fantastic for what it is, and I can definitely see why I have heard so many people raving about it. I do wish it had been a better fit for our family, as there is nothing AT ALL flawed about the program. I am sure tactile learners, reluctant writers, and non-writer parents out there will absolutely adore this program.

For more information, please check out the WriteShop website, or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Google+. Please also click below to read the other Crew reviews!


Click to read Crew Reviews



Moving Beyond The Page ~ Review


Moving Beyond the Page provides literature-based homeschool curriculum, on a vast number of topics, in the areas of language arts, social studies, and science. Their curriculum is broken down into a series of units, organized by age level, from ages 4-5 all the way up through ages 14-15. Their unit style works particularly well for gifted and hands-on learners. My family has recently had the opportunity to use a couple of the units from their 10-12 age group, the language arts unit, Albert Einstein, and the accompanying science unit, Force and Motion. Today, we are happy to share our experience and review.

About the Curriculum

The Moving Beyond the Page curriculum is broken down into concepts covered over the course of the year. Each of these concepts is further broken down into a series of smaller units. These units each cover one particular theme relating to the main concept. The concepts and units can be studied in any order, however, allowing a very personalized learning experience for each child. The units can each be used independently, though some (like those my family has chosen) have also been written to work in conjunction with each other.

Each unit includes a Note For Parents page, which describes the structure of the curriculum, explains each component of the lessons, and provides a sample week’s schedule. It goes even further to explain the structure of each lesson, and finally, an example of a typical day, and time allotments for unit activities.

Each lesson is then clearly laid out in the curriculum guides, with checklists to ensure you have everything you need, ideas to think about, and things to know before you get started. The lesson then begins with the reading passage and accompanying questions, a series of corresponding activities, and finally a “wrapping up” section for reinforcement or further study.

Albert Einstein

einsteinThis language arts unit is available in either printed ($48.93) or online ($44.87) form, which includes the curriculum and all additional required materials. For the purpose of this review, we were given the online version. The unit is broken down into 8 lessons, plus a final project. It is made to accompany the biography, Albert Einstein by Kathleen Krull.

The lessons not only help guide students through the book through the use of lesson review questions, but also provide opportunities for activities such as mapping of various countries in which Einstein lived and worked, constructing a timeline of his life, research of other notable scientists that influenced Einstein, and much more. In the final project, students will use all that they have learned in order to construct a biography scrapbook of Einstein’s life and work.

Also included with this unit is a Rummy Roots card game, which is written right into the activities section of the unit. This game teaches children ages 8 and up 42 different Greek and Latin roots, providing an excellent vocabulary builder. The curriculum also includes a vocabulary list, as well as weekly spelling lists to correlate with the unit, making this an all-inclusive language arts curriculum.


Force and Motion

Force_motion_graphicThis science unit is also available either in printed ($50.07) or online ($46.01) form, which includes the curriculum, accompanying book, and experiment kit. The unit’s 8 lessons and final project are made to accompany the book The Quest for Personal Best: Individual Sports by Lisa Greathouse. Through the study of various sports and the athletes that participate in them, students are introduced to several physics concepts. Some of the fascinating topics covered include gymnastics and balance, bicycles and friction, skateboarding and gravity, and more.

Like the literature unit, this curriculum provides a series of review questions related to the required reading book, but then goes further by providing a variety of hands-on activities for reinforcement. In this unit, that includes a number of worksheets (included within the unit) plus simple experiments, which use the items from the experiment kit. Because this unit covers force and motion, the experiments involve simple activities such as using a spring scale to measure mass, using marbles to demonstrate Newton’s Laws of Acceleration, or a ball drop experiment to illustrate directional changes. The curriculum provides all necessary instructions for conducting these experiments, as well as forms for students to record their data and conclusions.

This unit also includes a list of vocabulary words covered in the study, as well as a unit review sheet to ensure understanding of the unit’s key concepts.

How We Used it & Our Final Opinion

We decided to follow the units as suggested in each of the curriculum guides, and I must say, the suggested schedule was very helpful in implementing the studies. I was admittedly overwhelmed at first receiving the curriculum, but after reading the introduction notes and suggestions, it was very easy to get up and running. I was also a bit nervous at first about the amount of hands-on work, as my youngest can sometimes get sensory overload by too many activities. However, this curriculum was extremely well balanced, providing plenty of reading and written work in addition to the fun experiments and activities. The hands-on activities are long enough to enforce the concept, but short enough to keep students focused and on task. Follow-up report forms are also helpful in ensuring students understand the purpose of the experiments, and how to interpret their findings.

As the parent, I loved the fact that everything was either included with the kit, or involved simple, household items. For activities that involved outside sources, such as online articles, everything was provided right in the curriculum, which saved a lot of time searching for resources. Having everything all in one place made teaching a breeze. It made it so easy, in fact, that older students could even use this curriculum independently, with minimal parent assistance.

This curriculum makes learning even difficult concepts easy and fun. I would definitely recommend this not only to typical hands-on learners, but to all homeschoolers. With the wide variety of subjects available, parents are sure to find something that appeals to every child. And, with the clear explanations and easy to follow instructions for each unit, it really takes the stress out of lesson planning. My boys definitely enjoyed this curriculum and are asking for more units from Moving Beyond the Page!


For more information, please check out the Moving Beyond The Page website, or follow them on FacebookPlease also click below to read the other Crew reviews!

Click to read Crew Reviews


Progeny Press Literature Study Guides ~ Review



Progeny Press is the publisher of a huge assortment of literature study guides for students of all ages, from young readers all the way through high school. These study guides fill a unique niche in that they approach literature study from a Biblical worldview, so parents rest assured that the content of these study guides will align with their Christian values. The guides are conveniently organized according to grade level, making it easy to find the right story for each child. For the past several weeks, my boys have had the pleasure of using a couple of the Progeny Press study guides: The Door in the Wall (upper elementary level) and The Giver (middle school level). Today, we are happy to share our experiences and review.

About the Guides

Progeny Press interactive study guides are an easy, flexible way to incorporate literature study into any curriculum. They all come in PDF form, available either on CD or as a digital download. The PDFs can be opened and printed out as needed. The best part is that they are also interactive PDFs, meaning students can also type their answers directly into the form, and then save their file or print it out for their records. This feature is wonderful for those who might not be good at, or enjoy, a lot of written work, or for those who need extra practice with their keyboarding skills.

The guides begin with a note to the instructor, explaining how to use the study guide. This is followed by other helpful information, including a story synopsis, a brief author biography, background information concerning the time period or setting of the story, and suggested pre-writing activities. The next several sections include chapter-by-chapter review questions, followed by a listing of additional resources (suggested books or videos) to round out the study. The answer key is also included at the end of the guide.

The Door in the Wall ($16.99)

DoorinWallEGuideMy younger son worked through the study guide for The Door in The Wall by Marguerite de Angeli. This study guide is intended for students in upper elementary level, approximately grades 4-6.

The study guide is broken down in order to review 2 chapters at a time. These sections all include vocabulary work,which may include using a dictionary to define words, multiple choice questions, or matching exercises. The guide then presents a series of questions, including those based on the events of the story, some that are based on elements of a story, and then some that call for personal reflection by the student. “Dig Deeper” questions often include Scripture references, and ask students how they might relate that to the story. Some chapters also include additional questions for discussion, as well as extra activities on topics such as fact vs. opinion, and similes and metaphors. The conclusion section of the guide then asks questions regarding the overall plot and theme of the story.


The Giver ($18.99)

GiverEGuideMy older son used the study guide to accompany The Giver by Lois Lowry. This is from Progeny Press’s middle school offerings, and intended for students in grades 7-9.

This guide has many of the same features as the upper elementary level guide, plus some additional activities. Because this book is longer, the guide is broken down into sections of 2 or 3 chapters at a time. Each section begins with vocabulary, which can include writing definitions, matching, fill-in, finding synonyms and antonyms, and understanding connotative meaning. The questions are also much like those in the upper elementary, but in greater number and depth. This guide also includes a summary section that includes several question regarding elements of a story. Following the summary, this guide includes a number of writing prompts for student essays, which are expected to be 1-2 pages long.


How We Used the Guides

For both boys, I thought that completing one section per week would be a good, steady pace for us. Because we try not too do much of our schoolwork on the computer, I decided that printing out the week’s section would be the most sensible option. For the first day or 2 of each week, at our typical reading time, they read the chapters for the current section, and then the remainder of the week was devoted to completing the study guide questions. The boys loved the flexibility this offered them. They could complete the questions in any order they liked, as long as the section was completed by the end of the week. They also liked the idea that they did not have a set daily schedule with it. If they wanted to work faster, they were free to do so. Or if we had to skip a day here and there due to an activity or event, we knew it was no problem, as there was no danger of messing up a strict schedule. They also

Our Final Opinion

We really enjoyed working through these study guides. We love the idea that we can pick and choose the guides we want to use, rather than being locked into a series of books found in a structured literature course, which may or may not include stories that appeal to us. We also love the flexibility they have offered us, both with regards to scheduling, as well as format options of either computer or print. I personally like the variety of activities offered in the guides, especially the extensive vocabulary sections, and the questions requiring personal reflection. These guides have been a great help to us for improving reading comprehension, expanding vocabulary, and studying elements of a story. They are simply the best study guides we have ever used, and we highly recommend them!


For more information, please check out the Progeny Press website, or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube. Please also click below to read the other Crew reviews!


Click to read Crew Reviews


Apologia Biblical Worldview Curriculum: “What on Earth Can I Do?” ~ Review


Well-known publisher of excellent Christian-based science curriculum, Apologia Educational Ministries, has developed a Biblical Worldview curriculum series for homeschoolers in grades 1-6 entitled “What We Believe“. The latest installment of this 4-volume series, called “What on Earth Can I Do?” presents students with a Biblical view of stewardship. My family and I have had the opportunity to review the What on Earth Can I Do? textbook and accompanying supplemental materials, the What On Earth Can I Do Notebooking Journal, What on Earth Can I Do? Junior Notebooking Journal, and What on Earth Can I Do? Coloring Book for the past few weeks, and I am happy to share our experience and review.

Components of the Curriculum

What on Earth Can I Do? hardback textbook ($39.00)

bookThis beautiful full-color textbook is meant to be read aloud by the parent, allowing multiple ages to learn together. It may also be read independently by older students. The text is broken down into the 8 following lessons:

  • Your Story or God’s Story
  • Who Put You in Charge?
  • Will You be Found Faithful?
  • Where is Your Treasure?
  • Where Does Your Time Go?
  • Whose Life is it Anyway?
  • Why Isn’t It Easy being Green?
  • What Will Happen When The Master Returns?

The textbook offers a sample lesson plan for completing the study, based on 3 weeks per lesson, at 2 class times per week. However, the structure of the lessons allow for a lot of flexibility in regards to scheduling, so that families can work through the study at a pace that works best for them. This flexibility is due in part to the lessons being broken down into several smaller individual components, which include:

  • The Big Idea: lesson introduction and overview
  • What You Will Do: lesson learning objectives
  • Short Story: a story illustrating the lesson’s concept, with characters children can easily relate to
  • Think About It: review questions pertaining to the story
  • Words You Need To Know: vocabulary
  • Hide It In Your Heart: Bible memory verses
  • Integrated Learning: articles integrating other subjects, such as art, math, science, and history
  • What Should I Do?: applying godly character traits to everyday life
  • Prayer
  • Parables of Jesus
  • Going Deeper: discussion questions relating to the parables
  • House of Truth: a “hands-on memory aid”


What On Earth Can I Do Notebooking Journal ($24.00)


The full color notebooking journal corresponds directly with the textbook. It includes pages for students to record their answers to the “Think About It” questions, write definitions for vocabulary words, take notes, copy Bible verses, journal their personal prayers, and more. It also has fun word searches and puzzles to complete, as well as mini books to create that reinforce lesson concepts. Included at the end of each lesson is also a “Find Out More” page, which offers additional activities, resource books, and music and movie suggestions, for those interested in continuing their studies. This journal would be best suited for the older children of the family, who are able to write well without assistance. It also includes lesson plans, which would be especially helpful for children who like to work independently.


juniorjournalWhat on Earth Can I Do? Junior Notebooking Journal ($24.00)

This is a lighter version of the regular notebooking journal, intended for those students who can write, but perhaps aren’t ready for such extensive writing exercises. It includes most of the same activities as the other journal, but in a shorter form. In place of the more involved writing assignments (such as essay-type questions) the junior notebooking journal includes coloring pages that correspond to the lesson story, parable, or Bible verse. This journal allows younger students to work on the same thing as their older siblings, but on a level more appropriate for them.


coloringbookWhat on Earth Can I Do? Coloring Book ($8.00)

This coloring book is perfect for the littlest learners who are not quite ready for written work, but need something to keep those little hands busy while listening to the lesson. It might also be used for older students who simply enjoy coloring, as these pictures are not contained within the standard notebooking journal, and only a limited number are found in the junior notebooking journal.



How We Used The Curriculum

We had never used any of Apologia’s “What We Believe” series, so we decided to use the recommended schedule we found in the book, of 2 class periods per week, covering a lesson in 3 weeks. My older son (age 12) used the standard notebooking journal, and my younger son (age 10) used the junior level. However, we soon realized that both of them are definitely writing at the regular notebooking journal level, so in the end, they ended up sharing it. Because my sons are on the older end of the appropriate age for this curriculum, I also allowed them to read sections of the lesson out loud, while the other (and I) listened. This encouraged them to be more involved in the lesson, and made completing the notebooking journal assignments much easier. My youngest also enjoyed coloring some of the pictures when it was his turn to listen to the lessons. Although neither of them are primarily auditory learners, the lessons held their interest very well, and both have commented on how much they have learned from this study.

Our Final Opinion

My sons and I enjoyed this curriculum. I think that the notebooking journals definitely add to the study, and I personally would not complete this curriculum without them. I like the fact that the lessons are broken down into smaller elements, as it allowed for the boys to really soak up the lesson, and gave them ample time to complete the notebooking exercises, without feeling overwhelmed or tired out by overly long lessons. For continuing the study, we definitely plan to break it down even further, as we prefer to work on a study daily, rather than only a couple of times a week. I do wish there was a suggested daily schedule as well, just to make my job easier, but tweaking the schedule is not really difficult. I definitely recommend this study to any parent in search of a Biblical worldview curriculum for younger students. We enjoy it so much that we plan on checking out the other volumes in the series!


For more information, please check out the Apologia website, or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest. Please also click below to read the other Crew reviews!


Click to read Crew Reviews


Maestro Classics ~ Review

Maestro Classics CDs provide a unique way of introducing classical music to children by not only allowing them to listen to various pieces of classical music, but by also telling the story behind the music and its composer. Recently, my family and I have had the opportunity to review two of Maestro Classic‘s CDs: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and My Name is Handel: The Story of Water Music, and today I am pleased to tell you all about them.


 About Our Selections

Each Maestro Classics selection comes with a CD and a full-color informational booklet to enhance the study of the musical composition. It contains biographical information on the composer, details about musical instruments used, short selections of sheet music, plus games and activities. Each piece of music featured on the CDs is performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Stephen Simon.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (ages 6+ and families – $16.98 CD or $9.98 mp3) – this classic work by Paul Dukas was made famous by Mickey Mouse in the Disney movie Fantasia. The CD contains:

  • Track 1: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice – this is a narration of the story with the music played in the background.
  • Track 2: About the Story – this gives the history of the story itself, from its Greek beginnings to its depiction in the movie Fantasia.
  • Track 3: March of the Brooms – the short segment of the composition with which most people are familiar.
  • Track 4: About the Music – the music is broken down into segments, as students are encouraged to focus on specific elements of the piece. Arrangement, speed, and tone, and their relation to the mood of the piece are all discussed.
  • Track 5: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice – this is the original version, minus the narration. (Students are encouraged to be attentive to the elements discussed in the previous track.)
  • Track 6: Prepare to Perform – this encourages students to make their own musical instruments out of household items, and suggests rhythms to tap out as an accompaniment to the music.
  • Track 7: Play-Along for Kitchen Percussion – little musicians can tap along as the music accompaniment plays.

*Total run time of the CD is 41 minutes, 24 seconds.

My Name is Handel: The Story of Water Music (ages 5+ and families – $16.98 CD or $9.98 mp3) – the story of one of Handel’s best known works. The CD contains:

  • Track 1: The Story of Water Music – this is a biography of Handel, and includes small segments of various works, including Water Music.
  • Track 2: About Handel and the Story – this tells about the historical setting and story behind the composition of Water Music.
  • Track 3: “My Name is Handel” Song – choral performance accompanying the horn pipe suite from Water Music.
  • Track 4: About the Music with the Maestro – discusses orchestras of Handel’s time, instruments used, discusses musical form (structure of the piece) and explains types of musical compositions, such as the overtures, sonatas, concertos, and suites.
  • Track 5: Prepare to Perform – prepares students for the sing-along of the following track.
  • Track 6: “My Name is Handel” Sing-Along – students can sing along, with the piece, as the choir did on track 3.

*Total run time of the CD is 48 minutes, 45 seconds.

How We Used the Program

We are currently in the middle of a music appreciation course, so these CDs were excellent for further enrichment. We had not studied Dukas in our course yet, but my boys were already familiar with The Sorcerer’s Apprentice music. The main part of this CD is more of a story telling, so we used it more in that way, listening to it in place of our typical reading time. Of course, most reading times do not end with banging out rhythms on my pots and pans, but the boys definitely enjoyed that part of the CD. My older son (12) was a bit hesitant at first, and did consider some parts of this particular disk to be a bit “young” for him.

In contrast, the major part of the Handel CD was less of a story, and more of a biography. We had studied Handel already in our class, but this allowed us to go back and expand on our study, learning more about his life and works. We enjoyed the way the CD integrated pieces of music within the narration of Handel’s biography, eliminating our need to search out examples of his works on our own. Because this CD is more historical, with an especially long first track, I would not recommend this one as much for the younger crowd. Instead, I would think 8 or 9+ is a more appropriate age, unless there is a specific interest with a younger student.

More Resources

Once we conclude our own separate music appreciation course, we definitely intend to revisit these CDs so that we can study more in-depth. The Maestro Classics website has links to their Educational Materials, which includes teaching guides, sheet music. activities, and even lesson plans for subjects such as math, science, history, geography, and more. These resources would make it simple and fun to use these CDs as a base for unit study style learning. We fully intend to utilize all of these fantastic materials in our future studies.

Our Final Opinion

As I have said, we enjoyed these CDs very much. I think that with all the different products offered by Maestro Classics, there is definitely something for everyone. I like the fact that we can sit and enjoy these CDs as a family, and that there is no prior musical or historical knowledge required. The CDs and accompanying booklets are fun and engaging. I would definitely recommend Maestro Classics not only to homeschoolers, but to all parents. I think they are an excellent resource for introducing children to classical music.

 For more information, please check out the Maestro Classics website, or follow them on Facebook or Pinterest. Please also read the other Crew reviews for these, as well as other products, available from Maestro Classics!

Click to read Crew Reviews


ARTistic Pursuits Sculpture Technique: Construct ~ Review

Arts and crafts are an important part of our homeschool.  Though there are plenty of craft books for younger children, older children are often relegated to art programs that focus mainly on drawing, painting, and perhaps a bit of clay modeling. However, today I would like to share our review of a new program that is something completely different. Sculpture Technique: Construct by ARTistic Pursuits takes crafting to a whole new level by teaching children ages 11-18 beginning sculpture techniques in a variety of mediums. In other words, it instructs children how to turn craft into art.


About the Program

Sculpture Technique: Construct is an introductory course on sculpting techniques. The cost of the book is $47.95, and materials will need to be purchased separately. Cost of materials which will vary, of course, depending on what materials you might already have on hand. Most of the materials used are common, and easily found at most craft stores.

The program is divided into 4 units, each of which are designed to be completed over the course of 9 weeks, making this a full year course. For each unit, a new technique or medium is introduced, then a number of projects pertaining to that medium are presented, each building upon the skills learned previously. Because each project builds upon the last, it is necessary to complete the projects within each unit in the order in which they are presented. However, the units themselves can be completed in any order.

Techniques covered in this program are as follows:

Unit 1 – Papermaking: This unit begins with instruction in handmade paper making, and then shows various ways of cutting, shaping, and molding it to create unique paper sculptures

Unit 2 – Cardboard: Students will learn about the different types of cardboard and corrugated papers and how to construct models using them

Unit 3 – Papier-mâché: This unit teaches students how to make a basic armature, then cover it in papier-mâché in order to create creatures, which can then be constructed into sculptures

Unit 4 – Wire: Students learn how to bend and twist wire in order to form various figures of both animals and people

For each unit, the new concept is presented, then the materials page describes not only the materials to be used themselves, but also necessary tools and equipment, safety precautions, and basic instructions. Then the corresponding projects are shown, with step by step instructions, and often full color pictures of completed project samples. At the end of each unit is an evaluation to be completed by each student. These evaluations contain questions for reflection involving three areas: Understanding the Elements of Sculpture, Understanding Art and Craft, and Understanding Craftsmanship.

How We Used the Program

We chose to focus on a couple of different units for the purpose of this review. My boys chose projects from the units on papermaking and papier-mâché.

The first step in the papermaking unit involved grinding up various existing papers into a pulp, in order to create new custom paper. My boys were pretty fascinated by this process, as the idea of making their own paper had never really occurred to them. They enjoyed blending their own color combinations, though waiting on the papers to dry was difficult for them. Once they had their papers made, they then learned how to cut, mold, and glue the papers together to form 3 dimensional figures.

Papier-mâché was plenty of messy fun. They first made armatures, or the basic framework for their figures to be covered in papier-mâché. Then they learned how to make the flour paste and rip strips of paper for dipping into the paste and covering their armatures. This was probably their favorite part of this unit, and they were surprised that a simple mix of flour and water could be used as a paste. Once their projects had dried and hardened, they were then able to paint and customize their creations. They were very excited by the whole process, and have asked to repeat the project numerous times.

Our Final Opinion

Sculpture Technique: Construct is unlike any other art program we have used. This program truly fills a unique niche by presenting more advanced crafting techniques to older children so that they learn to transition craft into art.

My younger son, who has some sensory processing issues, felt a bit overwhelmed at times, especially with some of the textures of the materials. This is not necessarily a flaw of the program, of course, but something to be aware of if you have a child with similar issues.

Another thing to note is that, because of the complexity of the techniques presented, each of these projects can be quite time consuming. It will be necessary to either set aside a large amount of time for each project, or break the project into smaller segments. This is especially necessary for projects that will require extended drying time.

All things considered, however, we definitely enjoyed this program and would highly recommend it to any student interested in art. With clear, detailed instructions and plenty of photographs of examples, I feel that any student (even those who are not as confident in their artistic abilities) could easily learn the techniques presented in this program. This is a perfect way to introduce beginning sculpting concepts and new art mediums in a home setting.


For more information, please check out the ARTistic Pursuits website, or follow them on Facebook. Please also read the other Crew reviews for this, as well as other products, available from ARTistic Pursuits!

Click to read Crew Reviews


Philosophy Adventure by Home School Adventure Co. Review

Philosophy, the study of the nature of knowledge, is a subject not often studied in depth before college level. However, Home School Adventure Co. tackles this subject, while helping students maintain and defend their Biblical worldview, in their Philosophy Adventure course. In this study, author Stacy Farrell teaches students in grades 6 to 12 to “write skillfully, think critically, and speak articulately as you explore the history of ideas.” This is a fantastic program that we have been studying for the past several weeks, and I am happy to share our review with you.

homeschool philosophy course


Cost of the Program

There are a couple of options for purchasing this program from Home School Adventure. The first option, and most economical, is a digital download, which includes the Reader (textbook), the teacher resources, and the student workbook.  This would be an excellent option for those who intend to use this program for more than one child, since a student workbook could easily be printed out for each child, while the other resources could be re-used. The cost of the digital download is $39.95. The program is also available on CD-ROM ($49.95) and in pre-printed versions ($69.95-$89.95) as well.

Right now, Home School Adventure Co. is generously offering a 10% discount on everything in their store through May 15, 2014, so now is an excellent time to buy. (Click the graphic below and enter code Crew-10 at checkout!)



How the Program Works

The program presents the history of philosophy through the study of 8 key philosophers predating Socrates. For each philosopher, there is a passage to read, corresponding notebooking pages, timeline and mapping activities, optional quizzes, journal questions, and 3 assignments called Write, Think, and Speak, which not only reinforce the information learned, but encourage students to think critically about what they have read and how it applies to their own lives.

There are also optional resources to go along with this program, which include other Home School Adventure Co. products. Scripture memory work can be included from their Philippians in 28 Weeks study, and literature readings from The Wise Woman with Literary Analysis Journal Questions are recommended.

All this is laid out in a suggested 4 or 5 day schedule in the book, but the program is very easily customizable.  It can be studied at a pace of one philosopher per week, one every other week, or can be stretched out to as long as one philosopher per month, depending on how in-depth students wish to get.

High School Credit

Philosophy Adventure can be used as a supplement, or as the primary curriculum, depending on depth. The author has provided a general guideline for how high school credit can be awarded through the use of this program.

  • English Composition: 1-4 hours per week – .25-.5 credit hours
  • World History / Geography: 1-4 hours per week – .25-.5 credit hours
  • Speech / Communications: 1-4 hours per week – .25-.5 credit hours
  • Logic / Critical Thinking: 1-4 hours per week – .25-.5 credit hours

Home School Adventure Co. also has a Free Webinar explaining how to award credit for high school, for this and their other studies.

How We Used This Program

I had originally intended to use this study with both of my sons, who are currently in 5th and 6th grade. However, my youngest felt a bit overwhelmed, so I continued with my older son only. (For this reason, I concur with Home School Adventure Co.’s recommendation of using this with advanced 6th graders and older.) We decided that since my son was on the younger end of the age range, we would treat this more as a survey course, and intend to do it more in-depth at a later time. So, we did the recommended schedule of one philosopher per week, but we did not use the optional Scripture memorization and literature resources. We also opted out of the weekly quizzes, so as not to overload ourselves.

Our typical week looked like this:

Day 1 – Read the lesson, complete timeline and mapping activities, and notebooking pages

Day 2 – Read and complete Write activity

Day 3 – Read and complete Think activity

Day 4 – Read and complete Speak activity

Day 5 – Complete student journal pages, creative writing prompt, and finish any remaining activities from the previous days

This schedule really helped us keep organized. There is a lot of information in the study, but the schedule can help keep from feeling overwhelmed. I think this schedule and pacing worked well for us at this stage. However, when we revisit this study at a later time, with the additional resources and activities, I definitely think I would stretch the study out to 2 weeks per philosopher, at least.

Our Overall Opinion

We loved this program. It is so much more than just a dry text of people and dates. The writing style is interesting and engaging, and the variety of activities keeps the study fresh and exciting. I love that this study looks at philosophy comparatively, and continually reinforces a Biblical worldview. This alone is reason enough for all homeschoolers to consider using this study with their children. I think it is a wonderful tool for developing critical thinking skills, as well as providing an introduction to apologetics. In teaching about different philosophical ideas, the study teaches students how to discern truth from fallacy, and continually points to the Bible as our source of true knowledge and understanding. I think all homeschooling families would benefit greatly from this study, and I am so glad that we had the opportunity to review it.

More Information

For more information on Home School Adventure Co., please visit and follow at the links below:






Click to read Crew Reviewsdisclaimer_zps7f3b646c

%d bloggers like this: