Father’s Day Weekend

I hope you and your family had a wonderful Father’s Day.  Seems dad’s just don’t get enough special days though out the year.  I heard recently some folks are trying to do away with calling it Father’s Day and have put forth legislation to change the name to “Parents Day” so it is more “inclusive”.  Such a shame though to take the focus away from Father’s.

We spent the whole weekend celebrating Father’s Day.  Why not?  He works so hard to care for the needs of our family.  Dedicating this entire weekend just to him pales in comparison.

Father God is also a good father and He spends our entire lifetime caring for our needs.  He is amazing!  He can do anything!  I want to encourage you to not forget him.  Don’t forget to thank him.  Don’t forget to celebrate him.  He is good and his mercy endures forever.

On Saturday, Daddy opened a couple of gifts we had picked out and some that were made for him.  One of the special gifts this year we have been focusing on has been learning “skills” from outdoor survivalist Creek Stewart.  For Dad’s birthday a few months ago, we got him a bimonthly subscription to Apocabox, and he will get six of these boxes during the year.  So for Father’s Day, we stayed with that theme and we ordered him a bow drill from Creek Stewart, so he can learn to make friction fire, also a folding saw for cutting tree limbs, and a Special Edition Apocabox.   However, the Apocabox had not yet arrived before he opened his gifts Saturday morning so I figured the box might be here by Monday.   We told him it would be coming, and we gave him his other gifts and he was quite pleased.  We gave him the Creek Stewart bow drill, a collection of some fire tinders that were hand collected by one our boys including homemade charcloth he made, an extra large coffee cup that says “make it happen”, a swiss army military style clipper set, and his favorite chocolate pecan turtles.  One of our sons is working on a special paracord bracelet that is still in progress, but not finished yet.  Another one of our son’s made him a beautiful leather bag.  I will post a story soon about him creating the bag.

We got ready to leave to take Dad to lunch.  We had a few plans including taking him to lunch at a Mexican restaurant and then take him to Cabela’s to get a new fishing pole.  To round out the special weekend, we planned to take him fishing on Sunday afternoon.

Just as we were planning to leave the house Saturday, the mailman brought a package.  My husband met the mailman in the driveway and he was beaming ear to ear when he got back in the house with his box.  It was the Special Edition Apocabox from Creek Stewart, and he (and our boys) couldn’t wait to open it.  I will post a story soon about this box.

After looking through his Father’s Day gifts and spending the morning together, we went to lunch.  We ate at a place we have eaten at a few times for special occasions such as birthdays.  We had actually been there two weeks earlier to celebrate our oldest son’s eighteenth birthday.  They make delicious tasting Mexican food and our whole family enjoys it.

After lunch we took Daddy to Cabela’s to look around and see if he would like a new fishing pole and gear.  Our family has some fishing gear, but with eight people in the family, and with little ones, some things get broke and we all share what we have, and sometimes Dad is so busy fixing the poles, lost gear, tangled gear, or re-baiting them etc, that he doesn’t even get to fish.  We thought it would be nice to get a new pole just for him.

Cabela’s is a very interesting sporting goods store.  On this day, they had set up a pool in the parking lot and were giving Kayak lessons.

Another cool feature inside the store are the wildlife animal displays and the huge aquarium.

But at the end of our time at the store, the only thing he really wanted was a tee shirt and a flashlight.  So we came home without a fishing pole, but we enjoyed spending time with him anyway.

After we got back home Saturday, we ate some Father’s Day cake our daughter made.  Then we spent time in our back yard trying to make a fire by hand with Dad’s bow drill. 

My husband had our 13 year old son assemble the Creek Stewart Take Down Bow Drill.  He was thrilled to get to assemble it. These bow drills are custom made by hand.  They are made so you can disassemble “take down” the bow and put it into your backpack to carry with you on camping trips.

My son had also made a tinder “nest” for this special occasion.  He is learning so many skills and I am very proud of his efforts.

After it was assembled, they headed to the back yard to practice.

The two of them worked together to run the bow drill.

They had smoke coming from the friction several times.

But each time they would check for a “coal” from the smoke, there was not a coal.

But they did have lots of ground up and smoking wood dust, created by the friction of the two sticks, that could become a coal in the right conditions.

I don’t know if you have ever tried to make a fire by rubbing sticks together, but it is not easy.  They tried for a long time.  They tried up on a table so it was easier on my husband’s 50 year old back.  But when that wasn’t successful, they moved it to the ground.  They also tried making it on a flat rock.  But it proved to be too difficult this evening to get a friction fire going.  We plan to re-watch Creek Stewart’s video about how to use the bow drill to create a fire and then “make it happen”.

Later after dark, the family all went back outside and played with flashlights. Dad got out his new flashlight, and the boys got out their flashlights and they all played around seeing who’s light could shine the brightest out into the yard and go the farthest down the driveway.  As they get bigger and older, it seems Dad might be feeling a bit challenged.  But Dad’s new light won the “farthest” competition with the flashlights and he felt very proud to still be the top dog!

Sunday morning, we got up and made coffee and pancakes.  Knowing we had plans to take Dad fishing later, we played around the house for a bit, and we watched a few videos together.  There are some really good weekly videos on youtube that show current events each week.  There are also some wonderful bible teachings.  When we have time, if we are home on a Saturday or Sunday, we watch some of these bible teachings, and videos that show current events worldwide, including world wide weather events (hurricanes, floods, volcanoes, earthquakes, mudslides, etc), and some that focus on events in the USA.  It is a good way to catch up on the news from a Christian worldview, something you don’t get on regular TV.  It helps to see what is happening in current events, and understand from a Christian worldview what is happening and how it lines up with bible prophesy.  We are told in the scriptures to watch and to understand.  We are living in the end times, and though we don’t know the day or hour it will all take place, I would encourage everyone to try to keep a watchful eye however they can and learn as much as they can.

Then we headed outside to load our fishing gear and cooler into the van and headed out to find a fishing spot and to enjoy the rest of the day with Dad.  We stopped along the way to get a bag of ice, bread, lunch meat, chips, bottled waters and Gatorade.  We planned to have a lunch picnic.  It was 95 degrees out today and we wanted everyone to stay hydrated.  We drove around for about two hours looking for just the right fishing spot.

Finally we found a nice little spot along the water that faced away from the sun, and it had some shade trees.  This seemed like a good spot to put our fishing lines in.  Shade trees can be a blessing, but you can also get your lines tangled in them when casting.

But it was so hot outside, we were sweating while just standing still, and having that little bit of shade from the trees was important.  Eventually we realized the fish don’t like the heat either and we were not catching anything.  After several hours of trying on our part, the fish were just not biting on our lines, other than an occasional nibble.  Then, not long before dark, we had a Father’s Day miracle.

We didn’t get home until very late, and we were all tired, but it was a great day.  Despite the heat, we had fun just spending time together as a family and we enjoyed each other’s company and enjoyed the special day and our special Father’s Day Weekend with Dad.

Be sure to read the next post for an amazing outcome to our Father’s Day weekend:  A Father’s Day Miracle.

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Apocabox Special Offers From Creek Stewart June 2018

I recently found out that Creek Stewart from Apocabox was offering a few specials and I wanted to let you know about them right away.  I am not affiliated with Apocabox or Creek Stewart.  I simply believe in his mission to teach others about survival and life skills.  I believe in the idea that “if you give a man a fish then he will eat for a day, and if you teach a man to fish then he will eat for a lifetime”.  I want to encourage other families to check out the life skills and survival skills challenges that he teaches.  My family has been blessed to learn from him and all of these skills are useful and could help you in a survival situation someday.

Anyway, the free offer was for a folding survival saw that fits in your back pack.  I watched his video about the saw and ordered one to put into my husband’s Father’s Day gift.  The saw is FREE, but you do pay $3.95 for shipping and handling through the offer on his website, and he will send it out to you.  If the offer is not posted on the front page of his website, then it is over.

After placing that order, there was another notice for a Special Edition Apocabox ONE TIME OFFER. If you decide you want it too, then both orders will be billed and shipped together.  Creek Stewart has loaded a box with almost $200 worth of leftover gear from previous boxes and he will send it out for the standard $50 Apocabox price.  He is hoping that after folks get this and try out the gear, they will want to join.  But there is no commitment needed, it is a one time offer.  One other offer pops up after that for the entire collection of Creek’s pocket survival guides at a huge discount.

I watched two of his videos he made, one is about the knife and one is about the gear he included in the One Time Offer Special Edition Apocabox, and I thought both of these would make a nice addition to my husband’s Father’s Day gift.  He will have some really nice items to use for camping, hunting, fishing, and to keep some gear in his vehicle if he ever needs it.

I am waiting for my order to arrive and I am hoping it arrives today or tomorrow so the kids and I can give it to my husband for Father’s Day.  I was sent an email yesterday that it has shipped.

I wanted to get this note out to other homeschool families and other folks who might be interested.  Creek Stewart said this is a One Time Offer.  It won’t last long and supply will run out soon. It is a first come first serve basis.  So once the supplies are gone, the offer will be over.  I will post a story about the contents of this box after it arrives.

More about Apocabox:

Apocabox by survival instructor Creek Stewart, is a DIY Survival Skills or you could think of it as a Survival School In A Box.  It is shipped bimonthly to your door (Feb, April, June, Aug, Oct, and Dec) for a cost of $50.  Each box has a different theme for the skills being taught.

We joined the bimonthly subscription at the beginning of this year and have received the Feb 2018 Mass Exodus and April 2018 Silent Hunter boxes so far.  We are waiting for the June 2018 Flat Line box to arrive.  Flat Line is a first aid theme and we are looking forward to learning more.  I had researched the Apocabox service months before joining and watched several of Creek Stewart’s videos.  Then we joined when it fit best into our budget.

We are using Apocabox for a life skills curriculum with our kids.  There are 8 of us in the family, and we are all learning together.  All of us have enjoyed learning, and when you work on these projects together as a family, it draws you closer.  I would also say my husband and our teenage boys have been really challenged and motivated with this learning adventure.

Within the boxes we’ve received so far, there have been around 10-12 skills to learn in a pocket survival guide, one or two special skills that are sent with raw materials and templates and instructions in the main newsletter, plus links to exclusive training videos, and 5-10 survival gear items.  To do the other skills in the pocket guide you will need to source your own materials, or the skill being learned might involve practicing with one of the gear items in the box, or it might involve making something like a survival kit for your backpack or vehicle with the gear that is included.  For our family the cost equals out to be about $50 box / 10 lessons (average) = $5 per new skill lesson / 8 people = 0.625 per lesson per person every other month.  So it has been a very affordable learning program for us so far.  However, I don’t think his boxes always include the pocket survival guides and when they don’t, there is less instruction / guidance to learn from.  I do wish he would include a pocket guide in every box, but it is what it is.  It is possible to find enough instruction in other places to make up the difference.

Anyway, I have shared 3 stories about these boxes so far, and if you want to learn more about it, see these posts:

Apocabox: About & Forager

Apocabox: Mass Exodus

Apocabox: Silent Hunter

Creek Stewart has several services where he shares his knowledge and skills with others:

Outdoor Survival School called Willow Haven

Author of several books and survival guides available on his website and amazon.

Creator of numerous survival skills videos on Youtube

Host of S.O.S. How To Survive (on the weather channel)

Host of Fat Guys In The Woods (on the weather channel)

Apocabox bimonthly service

Wild Edible of the Month Club

Surivival Skill of the Month Club

And he has a couple of online stores where he sells various survival products from books to knives to camping and survival equipment and more.  You can find all of this information including the special offers on his main website for CreekStewart.com and also learn more about the Apocabox subscription membership on myapocabox.com

Bottom line:  there is a special time limited opportunity to get a Free Folding Survival Saw offer and if you order the saw, there is an additional opportunity that will appear on your computer dashboard to get the One Time Offer Special Edition Apocabox from Creek Stewart if you are interested.  I want to encourage homeschool families to check out the services Creek Stewart has to offer and see if it might be a good fit for your family.

Be blessed!

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ARTistic Pursuits: Art for Children, Building a Visual Vocabulary Review

If you want to learn art skills in the comfort of your home, then you might check out the fun professional art lessons for all ages from ARTistic Pursuits, Inc.   Everyone can learn art skills.

Our family recently reviewed one of their art curriculum products called Art for Children, Building a Visual Vocabulary, which is volume 1 of the 6 part series called ARTistic Pursuits Art Instruction Books with DVD and Blu-Ray.

Art for Children, Building a Visual Vocabulary

Instruction Book

Hardback Book

Colorful Step By Step Illustrations

18 Lessons

64 Pages

DVD

6 Video Lessons

&

Blu-Ray

6 Video Lessons

Cost $39.99 on sale for $33.99

Each field of study has it’s own vocabulary and the field of “Art” is no different.  In this curriculum, over the course of 18 lessons and hands on activities, students learn vocabulary words that artists use and much more.  They will learn about famous artists and their artworks, experiment with art supplies and various art techniques that will communicate ideas and develop skills too.

ARTistic Pursuits, Inc. curriculum is created by art instructor and author Brenda Ellis.  She has an extensive background as an artist, teacher, and author.  With her latest curriculum series for grades K-3, she wants to encourage your kids to develop a solid, hands on, “visual vocabulary” because it is the first step in learning about art.

Visual vocabulary words in this curriculum:

  • artist
  • art materials
  • compose
  • imagine
  • observe
  • elements
  • shape
  • form
  • texture
  • subjects
  • landscape
  • still life
  • portrait
  • artworks
  • and much more

Famous Art in this curriculum:

  • The Courtyard of a House in Delft by Pieter Hooch, 1658-1660
  • The Birthday by Mark Chagall, 1915
  • In Flander’s Field – Where Soldiers Sleep and Poppies Grow  by Robert Vonnoh, 1890
  • THe Christening Feast by Jan Steen, 1664
  • Flower Day by Diego Rivera, 1925
  • Boy with bagpipes and young bear by Artist Unknown, 20th CE
  • The Sunflower by Gustav Klimt, 1906-1907
  • Monte Sainte-Victore above the Tholonet Road, 1896-1898
  • Still Life with Coffeepot by Vincent Van Gogh, 1888
  • Sentinel of the Plains, by William Herbert Dunton, 1910
  • Blue Dancers by Edgar Degas, 1898
  • Henry VIII by Holbein The Younger, 1540

Lessons in this curriculum:

All of the lessons are professionally illustrated and contain step by step instructions.  Six of the lessons are described in greater audio visual detail on the DVD’s.  You can chose to play the lesson either on the regular DVD or Blu-Ray DVD.  The DVD’s make you feel like the teacher is right there in the same room with you and they are very easy to understand. With DVD’s you have the freedom to pause or rewind if needed, or hear them again and again.

The 18 Lessons in the book with 6 lessons on DVD/Blu-Ray include:

  1. Watercolor Crayons (full lesson also on DVD)
  2. Artists Compose
  3. Artists Imagine
  4. Identify and Mix Colors (also on DVD)
  5. Artists Observe
  6. Artists Communicate
  7. Contruction Paper: Cut (also on video)
  8. Artists See Shapes
  9. Construction Paper: Fold (also on video)
  10. Artists See Form
  11. Oil Pastels: (also on video)
  12. Artists See Texture
  13. Artists See Landscapes
  14. Artists See Still Lifes
  15. Artists Draw Shapes (also on video)
  16. Artists See Animals
  17. Artists See Figures
  18. Artists See Portraits

The Instruction Book also contains additional chapter resources on:

  • Materials List
  • Teaching Simply
  • Welcome To The World Of Art
  • Objectives (specific learning goals for each lesson)
  • Learning Shapes Templates

Video explaining K-3 Art Instruction Books With DVD and Blu-Ray and a sample lesson:

The Homeschool Review Crew had the opportunity to chose 1 of 4 of the 6 Books with DVD’s in this newest K-3 curriculum series called ARTistic Pursuits Art Instruction Books with DVD and Blu-Ray. Be sure to check the Homeschool Review Crew link a the bottom of this post to read what other families thought about these products.

Art for Children, Building a Visual Vocabulary (Volume 1)
Art of the Ancients (Volume 2)
Art of the Middle Ages (Volume 3)
Artists that Shaped the Italian Renaissance (Volume 4)

With this newest series of products, getting started learning about Art from a professional art instructor in the comfort of your home is easy.  Once you have your instruction Book with DVD’s and have collected your materials, you can choose your own schedule and learn at a pace that meets your needs.  Plan what day of the week you want to begin, get out your book and DVD of choice, and immediately start learning about famous works of art in history, art vocabulary, famous artists, and then imitate their techniques to create your own masterpieces.

A fine arts education is easy with curriculum from ARTistic Pursuits, Inc. because they incorporate art instruction, art appreciation, and art history together in text and video lessons for seamless learning and mastery of skills.

With ARTistic Pursuits, Inc. curriculum, students will:

  • Develop observational skills.
  • Develop creativity skills.
  • Practice skills and techniques of famous artists.
  • Participate as a budding artist creating their own one of a kind masterpieces.

ARTistic Pursuits, Inc. has lots of curriculum products available. They are well known and loved by many families in the homeschool community.  On their website, you can find something for all ages Pre-K through 12th grade and even adults can learn easily with their curriculum.  This newest K-3 series that contains the hardback Instruction Books with DVD lessons replaces the 2013 spiral bound K-3 curriculum editions.

Video about ARTistic Pursuits, Inc:

Our Experience:

We chose Art for Children, Building a Visual Vocabulary Instruction Book and DVD set for the purpose of this review.  It came with a hardback Instruction Book, a DVD, and Blu-Ray.

My kids ages 6, 9,  and 10 work on this curriculum together.  They really enjoyed this learning experience.  I also had their older brothers join them for part of the learning experience too.  I just love homeschooling and having the freedom to adapt learning programs to the needs of our family!

It only takes about 10 to 15 minutes to explain a lesson (or watch a video), and then your student can work on recreating the project independently.  All of my kids enjoyed these lessons.  On the days we all did them together, several sat on the couch and we pulled up additional chairs to use as tables, a folding table, and another sat at a workbench etc.  We had a living room full of young artists!

On other days, it was just the three younger kids learning or perhaps one older brother would join in when his own school lessons were finished.  For a few of the lessons, my 9 year old son or my 10 year old daughter worked on a lesson by themselves.  Out of all the younger kids, it was my 10 year old daughter who loved this curriculum the most and she wanted to work on it as often as she could.  She often chose to repeat a lesson several times, just enjoying the process of learning and practicing her skills.

Lesson Examples:

Below are just a few of the lessons we have worked on over the course of a couple of months.  We tried to maintain a plan of 1 or 2 lessons a week.  We are about 1/2 way through.

I had some art supplies on hand to use when the book first arrived.  The items that I didn’t have, I ordered at a discount online through ebay.  ARTistic Pursuits, Inc. also sells art supply kits on their website too.  You can also find most of the items at a local retail store near you if you don’t want to order items online.  We used a combination of watercolor crayons, oil pastels, watercolor pencils, ebony pencils, art paper, construction paper, tape, glue, and various props to do these lessons. Also my youngest son also wanted to use his watercolor paints for one of the lessons too.

Lesson 1: Watercolor Crayons

Using watercolor crayons and watercolor pencils was a new experience for us.

Son age 9:

Son age 6:

Daughter age 10:

Lesson 5: Artists Observe

My 13 year old son wanted to observe, draw, and color a pine cone on a tree branch.  He did an amazing job on the details.

He recently did a Davy Crocket unit study and a Pine Tree unit study, and he is currently taking a survival skills course that involves skills such as learning to identify resources from different kinds of trees.  This opportunity to learn observation and practice techniques from ARTistic Pursuits was a perfect match for him and fun for the younger kids to see how these skills can be useful and put into practice for more than just art enjoyment. Being observant and knowing what things in nature actually look like could help you find resources that your survival might depend on someday.

Lesson 9: Construction Paper- Fold (Construction Paper Folded Animals part 1)

The kids created 3D animals from construction paper.  In this lesson they learned to draw, cut, fold, and make a bear that stands up and is looking toward you.

Lesson 10: Artists See Form (Construction Paper Folded Animals part 2)

Big brother helped two younger brothers create 3D animals from construction paper.

They created the side profile of horses.

Sister made a dog and a lion from this lesson too.

Lesson 11: Oil Pastels

We learned it is hard to color and make fine details on pictures with oil pastels!  They smear and smudge easily.  But with perseverance, it can be done.

The task was to watch a video lesson, gather objects from around the house, then draw and color them using techniques from the video using oil pastels.

My daughter age 10 created a picture of a tea set using oil pastels.

My son age 6, started out wanting to make his picture of a sea shell, but later he changed his mind and wanted to create a picture of his toy wooden airplane.

My son age 9 wanted to make his picture of different houses.

My son age 17 wanted to create his picture of various colored beads. He loves geometric shapes and patterns.

My son age 15 wanted to create his picture of a toy tractor and include it in a farm scene.

Lesson 13: Artists See Landscapes

We enjoyed learning to make trees and landscapes in this lesson.  We recently reviewed a T is for Tree Bible ABC book and learning to make trees fit in perfectly with the focus of that book too.

Materials: watercolor crayons, paper, brush, water, and paper towels.  My youngest son’s picture is at the top of the photo below and he wanted to use his watercolor paints instead of his watercolor crayons.  The picture below his in the same photo was done by my 10 year old daughter with her watercolor crayons.

I tried my hand with this lesson too and learned how to make landscapes and trees.  I made the picture posted below with watercolor crayons, but had not gone over it yet with a water brush to smooth out and blend the colors when I took this picture of it.  But I love how it turned out anyway.  I have 0 art skills, but somehow, it came out despite my lack of skills.

I tried to make three different types of trees with mountains and a stream, and show the light shining on the trees from the right side and made the trees get darker further down on their left side and back side of the mountains.  This was my first time to use the watercolor crayons.  See I told you adults (even with no previous art experience) can learn from these books too!

Lesson 14: Artists See Still Lifes

The task here was to collect three items to use as a “still life” and draw and color with watercolor crayons.  My six year old son collected three objects he wanted in his still life picture: a starfish, a clam shell, and a fish.  But part way through, he changed his mind, flipped to a new blank page, and wanted to create a still life picture of his boot!  His BOOT!!!

After coloring with the watercolor crayons, the technique is to take a brush and plain water and paint water over what you have colored and it blends together to look like watercolor paint.  He loves these crayons!

Lesson 16: Artists See Animals

My thirteen year old son loves to create, draw, paint, color, etc.  He is a budding artist.  He ventured further ahead and did this lesson.   He has more experience drawing and is also using the ARTistic Pursuits Middle School Book One: The Elements of Art and Composition that is all about sketching and drawing.

The younger kids have not completed this lesson yet.  The task is to look at a picture of an animal of your choice (such as a horse) and draw and color it.

Lesson 18: Artists See Portraits

The task in this lesson is to use oil pastels, ruler, construction paper, tissue, and a mirror to create a self portrait.  My 10 year old daughter learned to make a self portrait and then she made a portrait similar to an example of a girl in the textbook lesson.

She did very well for her first time ever!  It is amazing how well these lessons communicate the ideas so that kids can understand the task and create their own masterpieces.

Final Thoughts:

It is about mid June now, and we are finishing our school year, but I am sure the kids will want to finish this course and then repeat all of these lessons again and practice these new skills they have learned during the hot summer days ahead too.  They have really enjoyed this curriculum.

This Instructional Book and DVD set contains 18 Professional Art Lessons at a reasonable cost, for about $2.22 per lesson. If you are like me and have multiple students using this curriculum, then the cost for each lesson is even less.  For example, in our homeschool, we have six kids plus myself using this material, so that is $40 Book with DVDs / 18 Lessons = $2.22 per lesson / 7 art students = $0.32 per lesson per person for our family.  That is a budget friendly deal for professional art lessons!

Art is a subject we are expected to teach and learn about in education.  I have used products from ARTistic Pursuits and other companies for our homeschool Art curriculum.  However, to be honest, I have been hesitant over the years to jump into “ART” curriculum for a good reason!  I have learned to approach using art lessons with my kids with prayer and from a biblical worldview.  I am cautious because I do not want to violate my faith in the art projects we create including the art lessons on creating a “graven” (carved) image.  We trust in Father God, our Creator, and one of the 10 Commandments (rules to live by) that Father God gave his followers is:

“You are not to make for yourselves a graven (carved) image or any kind of representation of anything in heaven above, on the earth beneath or in the water below the shoreline.” Exodus 20:4

Father God himself made the image of mankind from his own image and breathed into it:

“Then Adonai, God, formed man (mankind) from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, so that he became a living being.” Genesis 2:7

As I wrestled with this rule, I met others along the way who took it very seriously and I met others who didn’t care at all.  One town I lived in previously had stone / concrete statues that were hand painted placed up and down the sidewalks on every street corner.  I have also met people with statues in their homes and yards, government buildings, market places, and church buildings, where they had statues of angels, statues of dead people (heros and saints), statues of gods and goddesses, and parts of their bodies like the huge phallus that is on the grounds of many public buildings, and statues of animals, and birds too.  One man I used to know gave us a huge wooden statue of an eagle he had outside along the pathway near the garden.  It was hand carved and abeautiful.  However, we knew after he gave it to us that it was wrong to have such a piece of “art”.   Some people I have known lined their “knickknack” shelves in their homes with carved images because they enjoyed collecting them as a hobby.  I’ve met people who pray to statues either at home or in religious buildings, and people who place their trust in statues to protect them too.  I have also met people who have a carved image of a man crucified on a cross and hang it in their homes or next to their beds or around their neck and they believe the carved image has power to protect them.  We are instructed in the scriptures not to do this.  I had a roommate in college from Tiawan who prayed to pictures of dead relatives and burned incense to them believing they had power to protect her.  I had friends from Japan and China who also believed this way.  I had Hindu friends from India and Pakistan who had images and figurine statues of various “gods” they prayed to daily and placed red colored stickers or a dot of face paint or stuck red gem stones onto their foreheads.  I had another Christian friend in college attending graduate school who had grown up in India and prayed to religious statues in church and at her private religious school.   I also had an older Christian friend from the USA who sat beside the grave of her dead son and dead husband next to their gravestones and she would pray and also talk to them about current issues in her life and seek their spirit as well as pray to statues at her church where she prayed each Sunday to protect and guide her.  I have been to modern museums where there are waxed sculptures of well known people and animals, and museums that have human looking robots who speak and move and tell stories.  I have also met people and spent time in their homes who are on the other extreme too such as the old order Amish who wouldn’t have any statues of any kind either outside in their yard or inside their homes, or around their neck or wrist and would not even get their picture taken or have any pictures in their homes at all.  I have met people from around the world who were in between these extremes too.

However, I share all of this personal information to say that we need to be careful to obey the commands Father God gave us to “love and obey Father God with all your heart”, “have no other gods”, “do not make a graven image”, “do not create idols”, etc. as well as obey the commands his son gave us to “love Father God with all our heart, and also love your neighbor as yourself” and do not cause any child to stumble by what you teach them because the kingdom of God belongs to them.   The scriptures say that it would be better for a millstone to be hung around your neck and be cast into the sea than for you to cause a little one to stumble and fall away from Father God.  WOW!  This is serious!

“He called a child to him, stood him among them, and said, “Yes! I tell you that unless you change and become like little children, you won’t even enter the Kingdom of Heaven! So the greatest in the Kingdom is whoever makes himself as humble as this child. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me; and whoever ensnares one of these little ones who trust me, it would be better for him to have a millstone hung around his neck and be drowned in the open sea! Woe to the world because of snares! For there must be snares, but woe to the person who sets the snare!  So if your hand or foot becomes a snare for you, cut it off and throw it away! Better that you should be maimed or crippled and obtain eternal life than keep both hands or both feet and be thrown into everlasting fire!”  Matthew 18:2-8

Art (as well as many other things) can easily lead us to break these commands and lead us or our children down the wrong path.  I do not believe that having your picture taken or making a drawing or painting is the same as creating a graven image.  I could be wrong about pictures and my Amish friends could be right.  So my advice is to pray about it and trust Father God to show you the truth.  For me, over the years I have come to understand the difference between an image and a graven image as two different things though they can be one and the same.  I believe a graven image to mean any “carved image” made of stone, wood, or metals that represents something that is dead (no breath in it) but is in the image of something that could be alive or have lived (such as people, birds, land animals, water animals), or possessed by a demon spirit, and any idols or images you might be tempted to place your trust in (such as angels, heros, saints, sun, moon, stars, planets, gods, demigods, demons, fairies, elves, wizards, witches, gargoyles, dragons, talismans, charms, serpents, trees or plants).  Father God made mankind in his image and gave us the breath of life.  We choose to place our trust in him and obey him. We are set apart and He has forbidden us to make graven images.

I understand that sculptures and carved images are part of learning about art history, religions, empires, governments, fame, and fortunes, and these images are all around us in this world.  However, for my family, though we can learn who made them and why they made them as part of learning about history, and we obviously observe their existence in every culture today, we believe we have been warned by Father God in the scriptures not to create these images ourselves, not to have or posses these images, and also not to place our trust in them.

We are to be “set apart” to bring Father God glory.  We are to love others, but we do not follow them and their traditions.  This makes us different from the rest of the world (you are in the world but not “of” the world) because we trust in Father God and obey the 10 commandments He gave us and ask his forgiveness when we have disobeyed, and we believe He sent his only begotten son who perfectly obeyed Him, to die in our place and purchase back our lives to save us from the eternal death and destruction that will come upon this world for rejecting Father God and breaking those commands.  This is serious!

“did not turn from what they had made with their own hands — they did not stop worshipping demons and idols made of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they turn from their murdering, their involvement with the occult and with drugs, their sexual immorality or their stealing.” Revelation 9:20-21

Creating graven images isn’t the only concern with products marketed to children.  There are many things that could have spiritual consequences.  I would encourage homeschool families who desire to obey Father God, to pray about the art products and curriculum they use and ask Father God to show them what He wants them to teach their children about art and any other subject.

Thankfully, ARTistic Pursuits, Inc has curriculum that meets different families needs, and is flexible, and has several art lesson options to choose from that don’t violate our faith, or we can avoid certain lessons if needed.  These flexible options have helped us learn about art, art history, and practice art techniques that don’t involve carving images into graven image sculptures.  We mainly chose to focus on the lessons that involve drawing, sketching, making crafts, coloring, and painting for our hands on portion of the curriculum and avoid lessons that pertain to carving sculptures.  ARTistic Pursuits, Inc. has a huge variety of products from the toddler-preschool ages all the way through senior year in highschool that can help prepare students to take art courses at the college level too.

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Apocabox April 2018: DIY Survival Skills

This was our second box we received from our bi-monthly subscription.  Apocabox is shipped six times a year, February, April, June, August, October, December.  Each box has different survival skills themes.  Please check out the first post I wrote in this series to understand more about Apocabox and see the example of the “Forager” theme, and my second post on the “Mass Exodus” theme to understand why I believe this is such a great educational and life skills investment for homeschool families.

Silent Hunter

The theme of the April 2018 box is “Silent Hunter“.  This box goes over several skills challenges to help you learn a few “quiet” hunting skills and techniques that could help you in a survival situation.

Contents:

  • Torque Slingshot by Simple Shot
  • Steel Shot Ammo
  • Powder Ball Ammo
  • Silent Hunter Canvas Belt Pouch by Rothco
  • Pocket Survival Guide: Survival Slingshots
  • Fabric Spinner Targets x 2
  • Rubber Spinner Targets x 2
  • Paper Targets: 3 pack
  • Digital Paper Targets: print out, unlimited quantity
  • Interrupted Pattern Diamond Bench Stone: Sharpener
  • Bait Snare Skills Kit
  • Shepherd Sling
  • Newsletter: 4 page high gloss contains Apocabox contents, skill challenges,

Skill Challenges:

  1. Target Practice With Sling Shot
  2. Build A Target Practice Ammo Trap
  3. Shepherd Sling
  4. Bait Snare Skills Kit

Pocket Field Guide: Survival Slingshots

This is an 88 page 4×6 pocket sized field guide.  It is filled with DIY Skills Challenges to Master making a variety of sling shots from different materials and a lesson on how to make an ammo trap.

Chapters with multiple skills challenges:

  • Band Sets and Pouch Design
  • 10 Improvised Sling Shots to build
  • Survival Style Sling Shot Ammo
  • Creek’s Sling Shot Shooting Basics
  • Target Practice Ammo Trap

 

Videos

  • Video by Creek Stewart teaching How To Use the Sling Shot Video
  • Target Practice Ammo Trap Video
  • Bait Snare Video
  • Exclusive sling shot training videos by Simple Shot, the creator of the sling shot.

After looking over the reading materials and watching the videos, the first activity we did was to put together the Silent Hunter Sling Shot Practice Kit.

Everything stores nicely in the belt pouch and is easy to access for practice.

 

When I get more time to do so, I will post here more pictures of the activities and skills we did as I write more about the Apocabox DIY Survival Skills in a box series.

Final Thoughts:

My family loves to practice with this sling shot.  Creek Stewart has motivated us to improve our sling shot skills, learn about sling shots, and up our game considerably.  Everyone in our family is improving their skills each time we practice.

I decided to do a little research about the legal issues of hunting with a sling shot.  The kinds of animals might you be able to hunt with sling shot in a survival situation include a variety of birds, rabbit, and squirrel to name a few.  Sling shots work great for small game.  However a modification that Creek Stewart suggests is checking out an adapter to use a sling shot to shoot arrows and then you could hunt for larger game. With an arrow, you could bring down a deer or other large animal.

Currently there are 32 states in the USA that do not ban the use of a sling shot with nongame animals and nonprotected species.  The rules are more friendly toward land owners when wild animals have ventured onto their property and are causing damage to it (such as eating crops, attacking livestock on farms, tearing up buildings or fence, etc), and then they are seen as a nuisance.  Before hunting with a sling shot (or any other weapons or traps) be sure to check with your state wildlife agency about the rules of your state.  Another suggestion is to take a hunter’s safety class.  These classes are usually offered by the state parks department or hosted at sporting goods stores like Cabella’s or Bass Pro where hunting gear is sold.

Though we have enjoyed practicing shooting at paper targets our yard, we had not seriously planned to hunt for our food with a sling shot in a survival situation.  However since getting this new sling shot and the Silent Hunter box, now we are target practicing for fun and with a purpose, in the event we might have to use a sling shot to put food on the table someday.

Please share.

Memoria Press Classical Composition Review

If you need a Composition course for your homeschool students, then you might want to check out the Classical Composition I: Fables Set and Classical Compostion II: Narrative Set from Memoria Press.

Memoria Press is a curriculum publishing company that focuses on the Classical Education method with a Christian worldview.

Classical Composition

Memoria Press has published 9 courses in Classical Composition.  You can begin these courses as early as 4th grade and use them all the way through 12th grade if desired, or start when it best fits into your student’s homeschooling journey.

  • Fable
  • Narrative
  • Chreia/Maxim
  • Refutation/Confirmation
  • Common Topic
  • Encomium/Invective/Comparison
  • Characterization
  • Description
  • Thesis & Law

These Classical Composition courses are unique and highly successful.  They were developed by Jim Selby, a teacher from Kansas.  He found that all of his students were able to master the skills of composition with this curriculum.  When his students take these Classical Composition courses, they have “a 100% qualification rate on the optional essay portion of the college entrance exams (ACT and SAT) versus the national average of 23%” and many have “gained college credits with successful completion of the English AP exams.”  That is quite a record of achievement!

Classical Composition I: Fable Set

Student Book

Spiral Bound-Paper Back

101 pages

20 Lessons

Teacher Guide

Spiral Bound-Paper Back

Lesson Plans

Answer Key

101 Pages

Instructional DVDs 

4 DVD’s covering 20 Lessons

Retails for $85

Classical Composition I: Fables is the first course in the Classical Composition series.  Composition is learning how to write well.  The premise is that as students learn about writing and begin to understand and imitate good writers, they will master the techniques of composition and become good writers themselves.

Classical Composition 1: Fables uses short fables to teach students to become good writers.  A fable is a short story that uses animals for characters, has humor, and has a deeper message, a common truth that is wise to learn.  This common truth is called a “common place” because it can apply to everyone.

In each lesson, students will read a fable, become familiar with the contents of the fable as they study the various words and learn the meanings and synomyms of those words, make an outline of the main parts of the fable, narrate the fable from memory, the rewrite the fable with variations or paraphrases using synonyms for the key words while still maintaining the overall meaning of the deeper message.

Course Contents:

Teaching Guidelines
Introduction to the Fable Stage
Definition of Terms

Lessons:
Lesson 1 – The Ant and the Chrysalis
Lesson 2 – The Ant and the Grasshopper
Lesson 3 – The Fox and the Grapes
Lesson 4 – The Hare and the Tortoise
Lesson 5 – The Fisherman Piping
Lesson 6 – The Flies and the Honey-Pot
Lesson 7 – The Bear and the Two Travelers
Lesson 8 – The Dove and the Ant
Lesson 9 – The Thirsty Pigeon
Lesson 10 – The Dog and the Shadow
Lesson 11 – The Dog in the Manger
Lesson 12 – The Mountain in Labor
Lesson 13 – The Sick Lion
Lesson 14 – The Ass and the Lapdog
Lesson 15 – The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
Lesson 16 – The Ass and the Mule
Lesson 17 – The Frogs Asking for a King
Lesson 18 – The Mischievous Dog
Lesson 19 – The Old Woman & the Physician
Lesson 20 – The Fighting Cocks & the Eagle

Appendix:
Figures of Description With Examples
Introduction to the Progymnasmata by James A. Selby

The complete set includes the Student Book, Teacher Guide and a set of 4 DVDs.  These items can be purchased separately or as a set.  You will save money buying them together as a set.

The Student Book has the fable, plus room on 4 worksheets to complete each written exercise.

Student Book sample:

The Teacher Guide has the student’s worksheet, additional lesson helps such as vocabulary definitions and lesson structure (not a daily schedule plan), and the answers to the corresponding student worksheet included all on one page.  It also has additional teaching tips scattered throughout, a grading rubric, and plenty of room to write extra notes if needed.

Teacher Guide sample:

The DVDs brings the fable to life with an audio visual component rather than just reading from the Student Book.  The DVD set contains a set of 4 DVDs and each one contains 5 lessons from the Student Book and covers all 20 lessons of the course.  Be sure to click the link below to see and hear a sample of Lesson 1 and how the instructor presents the fable and explains the tasks to be completed.

DVD Video Sample:

Classical Composition I: Fable DVD Sample from Lesson 1 on Vimeo.

Grading:

Course grades are based on:

  • Handwriting
  • Mechanics (spelling, punctuation, grammar)
  • Content (storyline)
  • Vocabulary/Diction (word choice)
  • Figures of Description

Classical Composition II: Narrative Set

Student Book

Spiral Bound-Paper Back

156 Pages

20 Lessons

Teacher Guide

Spiral Bound-Paper Back

156 Pages

Instructional DVDs 

Retails for $85

This is the second course in the Classical Composition courses.  Classical Composition II: Narrative Set uses narratives to teach students to become good writers.  Each lesson in the Student Book begins by reading aloud a narrative.  The narrative may contain a few difficult words, and the Teacher’s Guide contains lists with definitions to go over with the student.  Through a process of writing an outline, and writing 2 rough drafts of paraphrasing and a final draft, the students will narrate the narrative in their own words to master the writing skills in this Composition course.

Course Contents:

Teaching Guidelines
Definition of Terms
Introduction to the Narrative Stage

Lessons:
Lesson 1 – The Rose
Lesson 2 – Chico and the Crane
Lesson 3 – Elijah and the Widow
Lesson 4 – Giufà—Eat, My Clothes!
Lesson 5 – The Song of the Vineyard
Lesson 6 – Giufà and the Judge
Lesson 7 – Elijah and the Prophets of Baal
Lesson 8 – Elijah and the Burning Sacrifice
Lesson 9 – Nathan and David
Lesson 10 -The Frog Prince
Lesson 11- Elisha and the Widow’s Jars
Lesson 12 – Conrad Von Tannenberg
Lesson 13 – Latona and the Rustics
Lesson 14 – A Vine Out of Egypt
Lesson 15 – The Sower
Lesson 16 – The Good Samaritan
Lesson 17 – Baucis and Philemon
Lesson 18 – The Foolish Rich Man
Lesson 19 – The King and Two Servants
Lesson 20 – The Pen and the Inkstand

Appendix:
Figures of Description With Examples
Figures of Speech With Examples

The Classical Composition II: Narrative Set includes a Student Book, Teacher Guide, and a set of 4 DVDs.  These items can be purchased separately or as a set.  However, you will save money when you buy these together as a complete set.

The Student Book has the narrative story, plus room on 6 worksheets to complete each written exercise.

Student Book sample:

Each page of the Teacher Guide has the student’s corresponding lesson page in a subset, lesson vocabulary and definitions, lesson structure (but not a daily lesson plan schedule), and the answer key included all on one page.  Some pages within the book also contain teaching tips.  The Teacher’s Guide also contains a grading Rubric, examples of figures of description, examples of figures of speech, and room to write extra notes too.

Teacher Guide sample:

The Classical Composition II: Narrative Set has a set of 4 DVD’s.  Each DVD contains 5 lessons from the Student Book covering all 20 lessons.  The addition of the DVD to this course brings the Narrative story to life with an audio visual component rather than just reading from the Student Book.  Be sure to click the link below to hear the Narrative sample from Lesson 3 and see and hear how the instructor explains the narrative composition tasks to be completed.

DVD Video sample:

Classical Composition II: Narrative Sample DVD from Lesson 3 on Vimeo.

Grading:

Course grades are based on:

  • Handwriting
  • Mechanics (spelling, punctuation, grammar)
  • Content (storyline)
  • Vocabulary/Diction (word choice)
  • Amplification (figures of description, inverting in draft, etc)

Our Experience:

We were glad to receive Classical Composition I: Fables Set and Classical Compostion II: Narrative Set for the purpose of this review.  The arrival of this course was perfect timing for my son’s English Composition course work.  These courses count for a full credit on his highschool transcript.

We have loved the Classical Education products Memoria Press has sent us to review in our homeschool.  Memoria Press has many wonderful curriculum products that can be used by homeschool families who use a variety of homeschool education methods (Classical, Traditional, Eclectic, Charlotte Mason, etc).  Classical Composition is one of those great versatile products.

My son is doing an accelerated plan to get both of these Classical Composition courses done in his final year of highschool. That means working daily on Composition instead of spacing it out a few days a week.  He has to be laser focused to work on it each day.  Hopefully at the accelerated pace, he will accomplish each Composition course in about 18 weeks. These courses are flexible and can also be stretched out for a whole school year if you don’t need the accelerated pace.   He needs to finish two courses, and perhaps even a third course, before he graduates.  So this accelerated plan is a better option for him.  Memoria Press also sent us their Classical Composition Accelerated I Lesson Plan (9 pages) for him to follow so he can complete both of these courses together in 1 year.

Though he is a strong reader, with excellent comprehension, he is not a strong essay writer.  He really has had no desire to write stories or essays, until recently.  However, this course has motivated him to want to write.

He starts each lesson out by reviewing the short lesson on video and reading it in the student book.  Then he completes the activities in the student book through out the week.  There are approximately 4 pages of activities to a lesson in Fables and 6 pages of activities to a lesson in Narrative (he has not begun the Narrative lessons yet).

The course instructor on the DVDs is Dr. Brett Vaden.  He is very easy to understand and my son and I enjoy the sound of his voice and his explanations.  Having these DVDs made a huge difference in my son’s motivation level to do the writing exercises.  Though you could do the course with only the student book and teacher guide, I would encourage everyone to get this course as a set with the DVDs because they really do enrich the learning experience.

Though Memoria Press recommends students start learning Composition as early as possible (as early as 4th grade to get through all 9 levels of their courses), the everyday reality is that most students focus on Composition as a structured course during their highschool years.  Given the research and success record of Memoria Press curriculum, it is obvious that the sooner you begin these courses, the more opportunity and more time you will have to master all the skill levels.

Memoria Press

In addition to their publishing company, Memoria Press also own a private Christian school called Highlands Latin School in Louisville Kentucky that uses their award winning curriculum.  They have scored in the top 1% of schools in the country for 9 years in a row.  The quality of the Memoria Press curriculum is top notch.  Using this curriculum, their students score an average of 3 grades above their grade level.

Memoria Press curriculum products are available to the public and are well loved by many in the homeschool community.

They have every grade level available in both a complete subject grade package format and also as individual subject products.  So you can choose what best fits your homeschool student’s needs, and search for products by subject area or by grade.

Special Offers

You can save $50 when you buy ANY TWO Classic Composition Sets (Student Book, Teacher Guide, DVDs)!  Be sure to use the coupon code CCSET at checkout.

Social Media

Keep in touch with Memoria Press through their social media links for all the latest news, special offers, and product updates:

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Homeschool Review Crew

Memoria Press recently sent a variety of products to The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Review Crew:

New American Cursive 1
New American Cursive 2 (Scripture)
New American Cursive 2 (Famous Americans)
New American Cursive 3 (Famous Quotes)

Traditional Logic I Complete Set
Traditional Logic II Complete Set

Classical Composition I: Fable Set
Classical Composition II: Narrative Set

Be sure to check out what others on the Homeschool Review Crew had to say about using products from Memoria Press in their home.

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Critical Thinking Detective: Vocabulary Review

Do you want to get smarter?  Do you want your kids to improve their grades?  Then you might want to check out the over 200+ Award Winning products from The Critical Thinking Co.™

Critical Thinking Detective

We recently checked out the Critical Thinking Detective: Vocabulary Book 1.  Critical Thinking Detective is a whole series of books that helps you learn to think logically to solve dilemmas.

So far, the Critical Thinking Detective series includes:

  • Beginning
  • Book 1
  • Book 2
  • Math
  • Vocabulary Book 1
  • Vocabulary Book 2

Critical Thinking Detective: Vocabulary Book 1

Student Workbook

AnswerKey

12 Cases To Solve

Softcover

Colorful Illustrations

40 Pages

Retails $8.99 on sale for $7.99

Critical Thinking Detective: Vocabulary Book 1 is a 40 page softcover workbook for grades 5-12+ (would be fun and challenging to most adults too).  This student workbook contains 12 mystery cases to solve.  The student uses vocabulary, and critical thinking skills to logically solve the case.  As the student evaluates the details of the case, understands the meanings of words and learns their meanings and synonyms, uses inductive and deductive reasoning, analyzes the information, they are then able to solve the case.

Table of Contents:

  • How To Solve These Cases
  • The Antique Double-Dealer
  • The Stray Accomplice
  • The Pilfering Today
  • The Ring Coveter
  • The Acrid Saboteur
  • The Contrary Instigator
  • The Brazen Biker
  • The Cogent Denigrator
  • The Disgruntled Defacer
  • The Unencumbered Employee
  • The Wandering Wayfarer
  • The Cunning Customer
  • Answer Key

So how do you solve the case?  Well, first of all you need to CAREFULLY read the description of the case.  Read the statements from one or more witnesses, and read the statement from 4 possible suspects who may or may not have committed the crime.  Then look up the words given in the clues. These definitions will help you understand what really happened and who did it.

Here are the steps to solve each cases:

  • Read the clues.
  • Use a dictionary!
  • Understand the definition of each word.
  • Understand the synonyms and antonyms of each word.
  • Take notes.
  • Reason it out.
  • Solve the case.

Following each case, the student is introduced to 18 to 25 new vocabulary words to learn. There is also a worksheet full of fill in the blank sentences to complete to practice using the vocabulary correctly.

Author

Critical Thinking Detective: Vocabulary was written by Diane Hartsig.  She is also the author of Vocabulary Riddles – A-Z Catastrophes, Books 1 and 2.  She is a wife, the mother of 3 kids, and an elementary school teacher.  She is passionate about kids acquiring and learning how to use language.

Our Experience:

We received Critical Thinking Detective: Vocabulary Book 1 in exchange for writing an honest review.  The Critical Thinking company is also offering special savings for our readers.  I think it is great when companies send products to be reviewed and also send discounts to those who want to try out the product because they read the review and were inspired to try it.  So be sure to check out the special offers listed below for a discount code, and get the free Critical Thinking Puzzle too!

I gave this workbook to my 15 year old son to include in his schoolwork. My thoughts on giving it to him was that the mystery cases are short and he might be able to do them without adding a lot of additional work onto his schoolwork.  I thought as he accomplished the cases, it would build more confidence for writing.

After reading the case, he tried to reason it out, but was not quite sure who did it.  So I had him go ahead and work through vocabulary words and complete the sentences before trying to solve the crime.   However, after working through the first handful of words, perhaps 10 or so, he was ready to quit before he had even accomplished the first case.  He wanted to quit because he found the words unfamiliar and didn’t like looking them up to find what sentence they fit into.

These are hard words!  I don’t even know most of them myself.  They are not commonly used.  Here are just a few examples:

  • congent
  • flummox
  • espy
  • sedulous
  • vacuous
  • superfluous
  • credulous
  • madras
  • tantamount
  • puce
  • tenable
  • senescent
  • foist
  • spurious

However, after a few days of setting the workbook aside (and I don’t blame him), he put his mind to it and persevered.  To complete the task, he only needed the workbook, a pencil, and access a dictionary (he used an online dictionary on the internet).  It’s portable, so he doesn’t have to sit in one place.  He can take it with him and fill in the gaps in his time.  He enjoys being outside and working on it if the weather is nice.  Having the freedom to choose where and how to learn is one of the beautiful benefits of homeschooling.  Just being outside seemed to help motivate him to work on it.

After he looked up the meaning of the new word, and learned it’s definition and other words that have the same meaning, then he would compare words and fill the words into the correct sentences. Each word can only be used once.  Taking time to do the vocabulary words gave his brain time to ponder the details of the case.  Finally, he was confident in various word meanings to reasonably solve the case.

After completing the first case, he was more confident in working through the rest of the workbook.

After completing the first few cases, he was well on his way to improving his use of vocabulary and logic.

He is motivated to finish and I have no doubt he will finish the workbook and raise his knowledge and skill level to be way smarter than me!

The Critical Thinking Co.™

Created in 1958 by John Brown, The Critical Thinking Co.™ helps students master skills needed to achieve high standards for education.  They have extensive knowledge in math, logic, reading and writing, science, and social studies.  They guarantee better grades and higher test scores when you practice your critical thinking skills with their books and software.

The Homeschool Review Crew is currently reviewing several products from The Critical Thinking Co.™

Critical Thinking Detective: Vocabulary

Understanding Pre-Algebra

Dare To Compare: Math Level 1

Critical Thinking Detective Book 1

Vocabulary Riddles Book 1

Something Fishy at Lake Iwannafisha

SPECIALS:

Special Offers from CriticalThinking.com!

  • Free Critical Thinking Puzzles!
    A $75 Value! Delivered weekly to your inbox. Choose PreK – Grade 8.  Sign Up Now!
  • Free Shipping
  • 15% Off Any Size Order!
  • Use Coupon Code: TOSCREW18.  
  • Expires 12/31/2018.

Social Media

Be sure to connect with The Critical Thinking Co.™ on their social media links for all the latest news, sales, and product updates.

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Apocabox Feburary 2018: DIY Survival Skills

February was our first box we received from our Apocabox subscription. Apocabox is a survival school in a box that teaches various survival skills and project challenges.  Apocabox is a bi-monthly subscription and is shipped six times a year: February, April, June, August, October, December.

Each shipment of Apocabox has a different theme.  The box contains a few survival gear items, has a main survival kill challenge kit, sometimes a second challenge kit, and also several additional skill challenges to master through various written challenges such as in the pocket field guides and exclusive subscriber videos.

To learn more about Apocabox and how it works, please check out my first story and review of Creek Stewart’s Apocabox where I went into more detail about Creek Stewart as a survival instructor and details about the Forager box from the 2017 themes.

Mass Exodus

The theme of the February 2018 box was “Mass Exodus”.  This box was all about learning skills that could help you survive in a mass evacuation situation.

A few questions to think through in a Mass Exodus situation:

  1. If you suddenly needed to evacuate from home, school, or you office, what have you prepared ahead of time (food, clothing, first aid, navigation and plans) and what skills have you mastered, that could help you in that situation?
  2. Also if everyone was leaving a specific area at the same time, and the roads were bogged down with traffic and wasn’t moving very fast (or at all), and your vehicle got stranded on the road, what skills do you have to get your car going again?
  3. If you had to live in your vehicle until you were rescued, what resources do you have with you to facilitate shelter, water, fire, and food?
  4. If you had to leave your vehicle and start walking, what skills have you learned that could help you stay alive?

Contents:

  • Mora 511 Knife and Sheath (useful for multiple tasks and food prep).
  • Pocket Field Guide: How To Survive Being Stranded In Your Vehicle.  Includes 12 Vehicle Survival Skills
  • Exodus Stowaway Backpack (folding backpack). Easily pack food and a change of clothes or other gear in this light weight backpack.  Folds down small enough to fit into your glove compartment when not in use.  
  • Exodus Necker Wallet (wallet with a strap and is worn like a necklace under your clothes): store valuables, ID, money, etc inside your shirt.
  • Last Ditch Ankle Stash (wallet worn around your ankle): store valuables inside your pant leg on your ankle if you need to leave your vehicle.
  • Exodus Hammer (cuts seat belts, breaks glass, etc).
  • Go Cubes (chewable coffee cubes)
  • Apocabox Newsletter (large, high gloss pages, you can whole punch and put into a binder): with a complete contents list and full explanations, detailed skills challenges, pictures of other subscribers completed December Apocabox knife skills challenge, and more.

Mass Exodus Skill Challenges:

There were two specific skill challenges in the Mass Exodus Apocabox, and both of these skills were described in detail with great illustrations in the Pocket Field Guide.

  1. Make a Roycroft Pack: improvised Canadian military backpack made from three sticks, cordage, and a tarp to carry your belongings in if you had to take off on foot.
  2. Build Bug Out Gas Siphoning Kit

We completed both skill challenges.

Skill Challenge #1 We learned how to lash three poles or sticks together and attach the tarp and fold it with our belongings inside to create the Roycroft Pack style backpack.

Skill Challenge #2 We also made the gas siphoning kit.

  • Gas tank funnel
  • Siphon with tubing
  • 1 gallon gas can.
  • 36″ tubing
  • 72″ tubing

We purchased two different siphons with tubing for this kit.  One is a small squeeze ball siphon like Creek Stewart suggested in the field guide, and the other is a pump siphon similar to a bicycle pump.

Pocket Field Guide: How To Survive Being Stranded In Your Vehicle

This pocket guide contains 12 survival skills to master:

  1. Turn Your Vehicle Into A Super Shelter
  2. Start A Fire Using Battery and Pencil
  3. Get Unstuck With A Tank Tire: Make tracks for tires.
  4. Car Mat Muklucks: Upcycled Snow Boots
  5. Avoid Suffocation: Automotive CO
  6. A Modern Day Fire Horn: How to safely transport a burning coal to a new location to transfer fire.
  7. Improvised Signal Mirror
  8. Parabolic Fire Start: Using the bowls of headlamp reflectors (or a parabolic lens) to start a fire.
  9. Make a Roycroft Pack: improvised Canadian military backpack made from three sticks, cordage, and a tarp.
  10. Build Bug Out Gas Siphoning Kit
  11. Reflective Vehicle Dash Shade
  12. Two Pole Flip Wench
  13. Vehicle Emergency Kit

In addition to the two skill challenges mentioned earlier, we also completed some of the other skills from Pocket Field Guide:

  • Created a Vehicle Emergency Kit. All of the items in the Mass Exodus Apocabox can be added to the vehicle emergency kit, plus you will want to add many other items too.  Our kit contains gloves, hat, socks, blanket, water, food, cook stove, metal bowl to boil water, food prep knife and cutting board, tarp and plastic sheeting for super shelter, paracord, emergency whistle, first aid kit, lighter, fero rod and striker, candles, flash light, tow rope, duck tape, and the gas siphoning kit skills challenge we made.  There are several more items we still want to add such as back up charger for cell phones, portable toilet, flares, road cones, etc.
  • Purchased items to turn the vehicle into a super shelter if needed.  We haven’t yet completed the task of creating the actual super shelter in the vehicle.  But we have the resources on hand if needed. Essentially what we will do is use clear plastic sheeting, and a mylar blanket to create walls that capture the heat from a campfire outside on the ground and retain the heat inside the shelter.
  • practiced fire starting skills to make a campfire,
  • learned how to transport a fire tinder coal to move a campfire and start the next fire from the coal,
  • purchased a reflective dash shade and added it to the vehicle emergency kit for multiple uses: heat reflector, sleeping liner, ground pad, solar stove, signalling tool.

Final Thoughts:

I found the Mass Exodus theme to be very thought provoking.  Due to the condition of our world, mass exodus from various locations within the USA and around the world have become common place.  Fires, economic crisis, bad weather, flooding, hurricanes, tornadoes, mudslides, droughts, food shortages, unclean water, riots that block city streets, riots that block highways and interstate roads, and in many places around the world there is war and rumors of war.  I truly believe we are living in the latter days the bible mentioned.  Even now, many people have become homeless and displaced just in the past few years after these major events, and too many don’t survive mainly due to lack of safe shelter, clean water, fire, and food.  If you have to leave your house or office, and can’t go back to the house to get things you normally use in everyday life for a while, having a few survival items in your vehicle, and knowing a few basic survival skills could make a huge difference for many people in the days of tribulation that are soon coming upon the earth.

Mark 13: 5-8 “And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you: For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.  And when ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows.”

Mark 13:14-27  “But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains: And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house: And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment. But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter. For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be. And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect’s sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days. And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not: For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things. But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.”

Please share.

Creek Stewart Apocabox: DIY Survival Skills

A few months ago, for my husband’s birthday, I purchased a subscription to Apocabox from Creek Stewart.  It turned out that our whole family has enjoyed learning with this unique box of challenges.  I would like to encourage other homeschool families to check into doing these DIY suvival skills learning kits with their kids.

Creek Stewart is a well known survivalist teacher.  He has been featured over the past 20 years in countless articles, magazines, TV shows, talk shows, news, and more.  He previously hosted a show called Fat Guys in the Woods where he helped “guys” get off the couch and learn knew skills in the woods such as camping, bushcrafting, survival, and mastering personal skills that helped change their lives.  He has a survival school called Willow Haven Outdoor located in Indiana.  He has his own signature line of knives and tools called “Whisky” where the handles are made from the oak wood of whisky barrels.  He is the current host of a TV show called S.O.S. How To Survive that airs on the Weather Channel that showcases true stories of people who found themselves in survival situations and what skills saved their lives.

Creek Stewart is also an author of lots of books including suvival guides, magazine articles, as well as fiction and non-fiction books.  He has several websites and youtube channels and he is well known and well liked by many.

Apocabox

Apocabox is a survival school in a box.  It comes to your door every other month.  It is filled with skill challenges, at least 1 or more survival skill challenge kits, sometimes one of Creek Stewart’s pocket survival guides, and always includes about 5 to 7 gear items that can benefit you in a survival situation.

Each Apocabox has a unique theme, special gear, and skill challenges.  Apocabox has been going for several years.  Here is an example of the 2017 themes and related gear for the past year.

2017 Themes:

  • Ignis (Fire)(Febuary): Whisky Flint and Steel Kit, Whisky Ferro Rod, Fire Scratcher, Friction Fire Chucks, Ignis Tinder Tubes, Pocket Wick, Fresnel Lens
  • Forager (April): Canvas Foraging Bag, Foraging Knife with Sheath, Fruit and Nut Grapple, Sprouting Kit, Tree Finder Guide, Arbor Day Foundation Tree Guide, Chirps Chips, Forager Patch, Pocket Field Guide
  • Hydro (Water)(June): 3 Dry Gear Bags, Tarp and Drain Water Harvester, Gear Guard Wax, Folding Filet & Food Prep Knife, Life Raft Knife, Frog and Fish Gig, Collapsible Minnow Trap, Pocket Field Guide, Build a Coal Burned Wooden Container Skill
  • Bushcraft Dump Pouch (August): Canvas and Leather Pouch, Whisky Burr Knife, Sharpening Brick, Trout Line Fishing Kit, Bone Feather, Beeswax Bar
  • Camp Cookery (October): Stainless Steel Pack Grill, Fold Down Cooking Tripod, 5Litter Dry Bag, Whisky Scoop (wooden spoon carver tool), Chicory Coffee
  • Tool & Maintenance (December): Knife Kit, Multi-function Sharpener, Double Edged Bench Strop, 4-Way Rasp, Rock and Roll Sharpener, Diamond Paste Syringe, Buffalo Bone Whistle, Lincoln Patch, Tool Maintenance Desk Mat, Field Maintenance Bag

Each box includes at least 1 or more theme specific survival skill challenges that include the complete project plus templates and raw materials and special videos for you to learn to make the survival product yourself and master using it.  Each box also includes up to 10-12 additional survival skills for you to master.  These additional skills are related to the gear in the box and written about in the newsletter, pocket survival guides, and exclusive subscriber videos, and you can resource your own materials and learn these skills right from the comfort of your home or backyard.

Apocabox Example: Forager

With the Forager edition of Apocabox, folks learned how to forage and gather food and resources from trees, plants, roots, fish from streams, and sprout their own seeds into nutritious greens too.

Contents:

  • Apocabox Newsletter: filled with skills challenges and detailed content descriptions. (These have been updated to 4 page high gloss magazine style pages and now also contain photos of other subscribers who sent in pictures of their finished challenges and projects)
  • POCKET FIELD GUIDE: Survival Trees : Vol I
    70 page 4×6 pocket sized field guide filled with DIY Skills Challenges to Master such as gleaning survival resources such as food, water, shelter, fire, cordage, tools, containers and adhesives from 8 different trees.
  • Canvas Foraging Bag
  • Foraging Knife and Sheath
    Multi use tool designed to dig up roots and tubers, and use as a trowel for digging fire pits, and more.
  • Fruit & Nut Grapple Kit
  • Bone Sliver Fishing Kit
  • TREE FINDER GUIDE:
    How to identify 161 species of trees.
  • Arbor Day Foundation Tree Guide:
    250 trees of North America
  • Sprouting Kit:
    Sprouting seeds, instructions, and prortable sprouting container.  Seeds vary and might include: Black Turtle Beans, Navy bean, Red field peas (these are beans also), Lentils, Mung Beans and Alfalfa.
  • Chirps Chips
    Chips made from cricket flour.
  • “FORAGER” Velcro Leaf Patch

The Forager Apocabox contained instructions, templates, and materials for 3 Specific DIY Skills Challenges:

  1. Bone Sliver Kit: includes instructions and materials to make a bone sliver fishing hook, and a bone sliver fishing gorge.
  2. Fruit and Nut Grapple Kit includes instructions and materials (except paracord) to make the grapple and you add the paracord and then practice harvesting from trees.
  3. Sprout Kit:  includes seeds and container for nutritious food.

Subscribers also have access to exclusive videos that walk you step by step from beginning all the way through mastering these skills.  Some videos are about 5 minutes long, some 10 minutes, and some videos are 30 minutes long depending on the skill being learned.  Creek is a very good teacher and is easy to understand in these videos. Plus there are lots more optional skills to practice and master in the Pocket Field Guide.  The Forager Apocabox came with links to 3 online teaching videos to watch.

Here is a short 1 minute video clip about resources found in Pine Trees:

Apocabox is truly a super-duty DIY survival skills training box and is a perfect match with the self motivated learning styles of many homeschool families as well as Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4 -H clubs, after school programs, summer camps, and many other groups.

2018 Themes (so far):

  • Exodus (Febuary)
  • Silent Hunter (April)
  • Flatline (June)

Apocabox costs $50 plus shipping every two months. The box is shipped 6 times a year (Feburary, April, June, August, October, December) and contains enough materials and information to keep you learning and mastering at least 1 or more survivals skills each week for the full two months while you wait for your next box to arrive.  So that is about $6.25 a week if you only learn 1 knew skill.  But there is likely enough challenges in the boxes, pamphlets, booklets, and exclusive linked videos to do 2 skills a week, which would translate to a cost of about $3.13 per knew skill learned.

Apocabox is cheaper than any survival school or life skills curriculum I have found and even cheaper than a fancy cup of coffee.  This is very reasonable for all the cool things you get to learn. I wish I had these kits when I was teaching the Build It Learn It Workshops and Take Action Tuesdays a few years ago.  These truly are a wonderful resource!

However, if the Apocabox skills challenges sound like more than you can do at this time (either time or money or both), Creek Stewart also offers a Survival Skill of the Month Club where he teaches 1 knew skill for the current price $7.95 a month.  For that price, he will mail you a binder, plus 1 illustrated skill per month in high gloss magazine style pages that you can add to the binder.

He has also recently added a Wild Edibles Skill of the Month Club that looks fantastic too.

Sharing through Facebook and Instagram and being part of an online community of people who are also learning these skills is another special feature Creek offers to his subscribers. It is truly amazing what some people do while learning these skills and see the outcomes.

For example, this past December, in the “Tools and Maintenance” theme, folks created their own custom knives and custom handles and sheaths, and learned how to properly care for knives, and axes, etc.  The 2017 December box and theme is what actually inspired me to subscribe.  I just knew my husband and older sons would love it, so we subscribed and our first box was the Feb 2018 and it turns out we have all loved this learning journey so far!

With Father’s Day right around the corner, if you are looking for a really nice gift for the father’s, sons (or daughters) in your life, the life skills and survival skills learned from these boxes will be a gift that keeps on giving. Like the old saying goes “give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.” The knowledge and skills one gains to care for themselves, and the needs of others, to help them survive is priceless.

I will post future stories about each box and the skills we learn.  If you think this might be a good fit for your family, please join us on this new learning adventure!

Please share.

T is for Tree: A Bible ABC Book Review

I have really enjoyed reading T is for Tree: A Bible ABC  published by Reformed Free Publishing Association with my kids.  What a terrific book!

T is for Tree: A Bible ABC

T is for Tree

A Bible ABC

Hardback Book

32+/- Pages

Beautiful Full Color Illustrations

Bible Scriptures KJV

Recommended for ages 3-6

Retails $17.95

T is for Tree: A Bible ABC is a lovely book.  It is an 9″ x 11″ hardback book made of quality materials.  It contains approximately 32 pages.  Each colorful page has a letter, a word, a poem, a brightly colored illustration, a detailed border, and an inspirational bible scripture (KJV) for each letter (A-Z) of the English Alphabet.

For example:

  • A is for ANTS” .  “A” is the focus for the first letter. “ANTS” is the word focus.  The “letter” and “word” are combined in a simple sentence, written in bold type, and located at the top of each page. Both the focus “letter” and focus “word” are capitalized.  The focus “letter” is also set apart from the text by a different color and large format.
  • The featured illustration shows the ants working to store up food. The page also has a border of ants. Both the illustration and the detailed border help to reinforce the “letter” and associated “word” being learned.
  • The poem reads “Though weak and small in size, They gather food all summer. May God make us as wise”. The poem describes something about the “word” being learned.
  • Next is a corresponding bible verse: “There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceedingly wise; the ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer” Proverbs 30:24-25.  The bible verses are from both the Old and New Testament.  They always include the “word” being learned.  The bible verse focuses on the character traits of Father God or the traits of those who have faith in him.

The book continues with beautiful illustrations, poems, and scriptures throughout the entire book for all 26 letters of the Alphabet.  The author and illustrator, Connie L. Meyer, has done a wonderful job creating beautiful pages filled with interesting artwork for each letter and word.

Connie L. Meyer’s stated goal for this book (as listed on the back cover) is that it is “designed to teach young children of their heavenly Father’s almighty power and his faithfulness to fulfill his promises he makes to them as children of his covenant.”  She has extensive experience creating art curriculum products, bible study curriculum products, magazine articles, and more for the Christian community and her experience, as well as her love for Father God, shines through in this book she designed for younger children.

Our Experience:

We received this book in exchange for writing an honest review and sharing our experience.

We used this book for read aloud time as a bible study devotional, and also for learning ABC’s with my youngest son.  Though the book is intended for age 3-6, I also included my other kids too.

The kids enjoyed the illustrations.  For those who were old enough, I encouraged them to read the book on their own as well as read a page aloud to the younger kids and to participate in the bible discussions and help out with various activities we did.  We talked about the scripture passages together and this encouraged their walk with God.

To enhance the learning for everyone we added in lots more activities.  In addition to reading the book and going over the ABC’s, poems, bible verses, and enjoying the lovely illustrations, we also used this book each week for some hands on activities to further the learning.

  • Letter Recognition
  • Phonics
  • Matching
  • Bible Memory Verse
  • Bible Lookup
  • Poetry
  • Science
  • Math
  • Writing & Copywork
  • Music
  • Arts and Crafts
  • Playtime (related toys, props, role play, etc)
  • Nature Walks

This is a great book for young learners.  I would encourage other families to include this book when doing letter recognition and phonics training.   Younger kids learn best when play is combined with learning goals.  So we found ways to play and have fun. 

We took walks and looked outside in nature for things that correlated with the bible verses and illustrations.  This was a fun tie in with the book.  We found beautiful things in nature such as ants, birds in the yard, trees, clouds, moon, wild grape vines along the forest, and more.

The kids also did some science related experiments with simple household items we had on hand.  For example, we took time to study the properties of “ice” for the letter “I”. We used a worksheet to chart how long it takes for water to freeze into ice in our freezer, and how long it took for an ice cube to melt on our kitchen table vs how long it takes in our cooler.  I am planning another experiment for the next time we read through the letter “I” to put a few ice cubes in different cups and chart the temperatures of the control glass, a glass with only ice, and a glass with water and ice, and a glass with only water.  I am waiting to do this experiment until I acquire a separate thermometer to monitor each glass.

Another example of how we are incorporating science and math with this book is teaching the kids to track the moon cycle for the letter “M”.  The letter “M” page quotes the bible scripture from Jeremiah 31:35-36 about the “ordinances” of the moon, but most people do not understand what that means.  Because Father God established it and mentions it in the scriptures, I want my kids to understand what the ordinances of the moon are.  The moon means month.  It has an established law.  It was put in place to govern specific things such as to be a guide to keep track of time, for example each “day” begins in the evening and goes through until the start of the next evening. God established this on the first day “and evening and morning were the first “day”, and it has remained so ever since.  The moon is the gauge to track not only when the day (evening and morning) begins, but also to track each month.  The moon tracks when the month begins (at the first sighting of the moon), the middle of the month (full moon), and when the month ends (when there is complete darkness), it was established to keep track of Sabbaths (he established when he rested the 7th day, evening and morning, after he had worked for 6 days), as signs for future events in prophesy, and also to keep track of special feasts and appointed times with God.  Father God established ordinances for the moon and stars that not only provide light, but also establish the start of the new year, govern the days and months, and govern the planting and harvest of crops.  The moon ordinances even help regulate a healing chemical produced in our bodies called Melatonin that also helps us sleep, the moon cycle regulates fertility, and there is a lot more than I have time or space to share in this story here.

I want my kids to know these truths, and I would encourage every person on earth to seek out the truth, because Father God put it right in front of them so they will believe and rely on God to show them instead of believing and trusting in the lies (tel-lie-vision), theories (assumptions) and sorceries of men.  We do not worship the sun, moon, stars, or anything on the earth or under the earth, however we must understand that God put them in their habitations for his reasons and for our benefit.  These ordinances will never change, no matter how much kingdoms change, or church doctrines change, or books change, or technology changes, or cultures and man made traditions change. You can change the daily calendar as men have done, you can change the history books, you can write science books full of theories and fill them with lies and portray them as truths, but no one will ever be able to change the ordinances Father God has put into place and it stands as a witness of the eternal truth.

There are so many ways to build on what kids are learning in this book. For example, my kids created several arts and crafts projects they wanted to do.  They used some art techniques they have been learning in their current Art course. For example they made 3D paper creatures with construction paper, scissors, and glue. They also made pictures with watercolor crayons which are special paint like crayons that you brush with water after coloring and it looks as if you painted the picture.  Both of these are types of techniques they have been studying in our Art curriculum.

ABC’s

We did a “letter of the week” focus with my youngest son and included using hands on activities like matching with foam letters.

A is for ANTS:

We sounded out the letters, played matching games, and used an inexpensive ABC puzzle to help with letter recognition and association.  For one of the games we played, after I read the page to him, he had to find the correct letter from a pile of scattered letters, and then match the letter to the story and finish by placing the letter into the ABC Puzzle.

B is for BOW:

C is for CLOUDS:

Below are a few more examples of the many activities we did.  To save time and space, I am only sharing a few examples of what we did with the letters A, B, C, H, S, and T for the purpose of this review.

A is for ANTS:

For the letter “A” we did a few different activities.  We did a science observation and went outside and investigated an ant hill.

After observing the top of the ant mound, I let my son take a small stick and gently disturb the top of the mound one time.  Then I had him stand back to see what the ants would do.

The stick barely lifted a small thin section of the top of the mound.  The ants were at war instantly.  I had my son stand back at a safe distance as it is no fun to get bit by red ants.

They moved so quickly it was hard for my camera to capture a picture of them.

They came out of lots of tiny holes with tunnels that had been just under the surface layer of dirt.

He was quite interested to observe the ants defend their home.  Since these are red biting ants, I didn’t have him try to collect any for closer observation. 

I purchased a bug viewer for him to use, but he broke it while viewing a ladybug and before he had the chance to catch an ant.  We will however keep our eyes open for more opportunities to catch black ants and perhaps put them in a mason jar to look at closely with a magnifying glass.

Next we did some arts and crafts and created 3D Ants with construction paper.

B is for BOW:

For the letter “B” the kids made a “Bow” for the rainbow.  They created a bow with a creative craft called Super Beads.

After designing and assembling the beads to resemble a rainbow, they sprayed them with water, let them sit overnight, and had a toy rainbow to play with.

They also colored pictures of rainbows and colored in printables we found online.

We still have plans to learn more about the science of rainbows in the next few weeks with a science kit I purchased.

C is for CLOUDS:

To learn more about clouds, I found writing, science, math, and coloring worksheets on line that related to clouds.  We also went outside and watched the clouds.

Then we did cloud related projects.  For science we were able to learn about the different kinds of clouds and create a matching game.

We also watched a science video that taught us more about clouds.

For math we practiced counting clouds with cotton balls.  For phonics and writing practice and art we used worksheets, pencils, and crayons.

H is for HORSE:

For the letter “H” the kids made construction paper 3D Horses:

You will see more pictures of their horses and other 3D animals they have been making in an upcoming story about their art curriculum.

They also played with toy horses.

We are hoping to visit a horse stable soon and learn about the care of horses.  I found several printables online and am putting together a horse unit and lapbook for the kids.

S is for STARS:

The kids made their own firmament pictures with construction paper, crayons, glow in the dark stars, marbles, glass beads, and toys.

We also have a stars sensory bin that contains stars of different materials and colors, black pompoms, blue and clear glass beads, and more that my kids love to play with. Sometimes they pretend they are on a journey in space or that they have taken a journey to see the moon.

T is for TREE:

For the letter “T” the kids learned to draw and color trees.  Some made their trees with watercolor paints, and others made theirs with watercolor crayons and used the techniques they learned in our art curriculum.

They also used toy trees, trees they made with Super Beads, built Lego trees, puzzle letters, and more:

We took a nature walk to look at trees.   We love looking at the forest.

So many different trees are in the forest, and it is home to many different creatures and birds.  We also enjoy the shade provided from the trees so we can cool off from the sun when playing in the yard.

We like to learn to identify the different leaves of different kinds of trees.

We also find the most beautiful treasures produced by these amazing trees.

Sometimes the kids just enjoy climbing up trees, pulling themselves up on branches to see how high they can go and what they can see, and sometimes they hang upside down in trees too.

Sometimes when we go barefoot, we get ouchies like splinters from walking and balancing on tree logs too.

Author:

T is for Tree: A Bible ABC is written and illustrated by Connie L. Meyer.   She dedicated this book to “all the children of the Reformation, to the children who live by faith, faith in the promises of God.”  Connie L. Meyer is a wife, mother, and grandmother.  She has dedicated her life to serving the Christian community for many years as an author, artist, teacher, curriculum creator, tutor, speaker, magazine article writer, and has served students in all grade levels and adults too.  She is well known in various Protestant Reformed churches, schools, and associations.

Be sure to check out more books Connie L. Meyer has authored including her Behold The Beauty Art Curriculum.  I would really like to try this curriculum with my kids.  There are three individual art curriculum books and the entire bundle listed at the link above, as well a other books she has had published through Reformed Free Publishing Association.  Each art curriculum book has free sample lessons offered on the website.  I downloaded all of the free samples and plan to use them soon with my kids.

Publisher:

The Reformed Free Publishing Association (RFPA) is an independent, non-profit organization founded in 1924.  Their mission is to be a witness to the distinctive Reformed truth.  They strive to publish works that are based on scripture and bring glory to God.  They primarily publish the work of professors, ministers, and educators who are aligned with the Protestant Reformed Churches in America and stand firmly as a witness to the truth of bible scriptures. They offer books, biographies, church history, educational curriculum, bible commentaries, bible study guides, devotionals, theology, and more in print, audio, and digital formats.  They offer discounted specials so be sure to check out what is on sale.  They also offer 35% off regular price and free shipping to members of their monthly book club.

Final Thoughts:

T is for Tree: A Bible ABC is a wonderful book full of inspiration for you to talk with your kids about Father God and his love for his creation and then put it into action.

I would encourage other homeschool families to get this book.  Read it for your bible study, or read aloud, or practice learning the letters and more for school.  Then spend time doing something hands on related to each page and really connect the message to real life for your kids.  Spend time teaching them God’s word and walk and talk it out.

Deuteronomy 11:19

“And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”

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Taxco Mexican Grill

Eating out is a special treat for our large family.  It isn’t cheap to take 8 people to a restaurant these days, especially since some of our kids (are older than 12 years and) are charged adult prices.  We have jumped from paying for 2 adult plates and 6 kid plates when they were younger to paying for 5 adult plates and 3 kid plates today when eating out.  That is a huge change.

We have also noticed prices in general increasing over the last several years, from food, fuel, clothing, travel, etc.  As costs have gone up, we have become more picky about quality, costs, and the whole experience.  We usually combine eating out with something special to enjoy, like a field trip, or a drive to see a new town, or new location to sight see, or a visit to a lake or the ocean, or for special celebrations such as birthdays.

Taxco Mexican Grill

On one of our recent trips we stopped and ate at a wonderful restaurant that serves Mexican food, Taxco Mexican Grill.  We found the experience to be pleasant, delicious and well worth it.  It is definitely a place we would recommend to other families.

The Taxco Mexican Grill is owned by a family who immigrated to the United States of America from Mexico.  They opened their first restaurants in Atlanta Georgia in 1983.  They have been very successful and now own a chain of restaurants in several states.  The staff was friendly and helpful.  Our waiter’s name was Zachariah and is pictured below on the left.  He is the nephew of the owner. He did a good job taking care of our table.

We did a little research and found the word Taxco comes from the name of a silver mining and tourist town in Mexico.  Taxco sits on the side of the Atatzin Mountain in the state of Guerrero Mexico.  The word Taxco has two meanings.  Taxco means “place of the ballgame” and the city hosts several sports such as basketball, volleyball, and tennis.  Taxco also means “where the Father of the water is” because of the waterfall near the center of the mountain town.

Food:

The food was delicious.  Since this was our first time here, and not sure if we would like it, we played it safe and ordered familiar dishes.  However, we loved the flavors so much that I am sure the next time we go, we will branch out and try more things we are not as familiar with.  Some of the delicious foods we ordered included:

Cheese enchilada with Spanish rice and beans:

Tostada with beens, lettuce, tomato, and guacomole:

Beef burritos with Spanish rice and beans:

Our six year old son ordered beef burritos.  These came in pairs of two and without rice or beans. He loved every bite!

From the kids menu, our nine year old boy ordered chicken and fries.  He is a picky eater, and most of the time will order something (not spicy, not covered in sauce, not touching other foods, etc) he is familiar with.

However, once he saw his brother’s burritos and asked for a bite, he quickly changed his mind.

He asked us to order him the same burritos too.  So we placed another order for two beef burritos and the staff brought it out to us quickly.  He loved the burritos and asked for seconds!  We could not believe it!  This goes to tell you just how good they are, because he has never asked for burritos before.

Steak fajita burrito topped with nacho cheese and served with Spanish rice and beans.

Pico de Gallo and sour cream:

The fresh made salsa is served in large bottles with a basket of crunchy warm tortilia chips.  Each person can choose from hot spicy salsa or mild salsa and pour the amount desired into small empty salsa dishes and refill them as needed.  We also ordered bowls of cheese dip too.

Some of our kids also enjoy mixing cheese dip and salsa together.

Everyone enjoyed the food.  We had nothing left over when they were through.

Costs:

The costs were very affordable and likely one of the cheapest places you might eat out and still enjoy fresh cooked food.  Burritos with rice and beans was $6.75 and  2 Beef burritos (no rice or beans) was $5.95.  Steak burrito with rice and beans was $12.25  A combo of beef burritos and tostada with rice and beans was $8.75  Kids cheese enchilada with rice and beans was $4.75  Kids chicken and fries was $5.25  I would say out of all the Mexican restraunts we have visited, this one was the best combination of costs, experience, and quality flavors.

Another way we keep costs down is drinking water when we go out.  We asked for glasses of ice water with slices of fresh lemon to drink.  Water is free, is more healthy compared to sodas, and it helps keep our costs down with our large family.  Having a slice of lemon in the water helps kids and adults enjoy the flavor and hides the taste of city tap water that public places serve. Our family much prefers spring water or well water, but that is not usually an option at restaurants so we just order waters with fresh lemon slices.  With 8 people in the family, ordering lemon water when dining out is a huge savings on our budget.

Experience:

The restaurant was clean and the atmosphere was comfortable.  The room was not crowded as many restaurants are, and there was plenty of space for our large family.  Our waiter, Zachariah, was prompt and courteous.  I asked his permission for a photo of himself to include in this story and he was happy to let me take it.  We enjoyed this experience and his outgoing personality helped make it enjoyable.

After dinner, we took a walk outside to enjoy the scenery.  There was a lovely pond with a deck, walking paths, fountains, and geese.

The restaurant actually has outdoor seating if you want to eat outside and enjoy the fountain while you eat.  We will have to try doing that next time.

After leaving the restaurant, we enjoyed watching the sunset and scenery at a nearby lake.

We enjoyed this outing.   It was a relaxing experience eating some of the flavors of Mexico and visiting the fountains and nearby lake.

I would encourage other families to find ways they can spend quality time together and enjoy life.  Spending time together builds relationships and taking time to enjoy nature, mountains, forests, parks, lakes, rivers, oceans, fields, and looking at the sky too, is refreshing to the body.  It sort of recharges your batteries so to speak.  It improves the quality of one’s life.  There is so much beauty to enjoy.

Ecclesiates 5:18

“Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labour that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it is his portion.”

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