Friday, March 24, 2017

Learning about the Grassland Biome

For science lesson, we have been learning about the different Biomes of our world.
This week was about the Grassland Biomes.

So first off, we checked  out a few books from our local library.



We watched a great little video all about grasslands.

Worksheets we used with our lessons...

The kids then created their own Grasslands diorama using items we had laying around the house.

Michael chose to do the Savannah grasslands.
He used the drawing book to help create his animals. We bought blue gems at the dollar store to give the look of water.

classically catholic memory

Delta Year~ Grasslands

Therese did the grasslands/prairies found right here in the United States.

Delta Year~ Grasslands

Delta Year~ Grasslands

 photo logo3.png 

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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Traveling Thursdays~ Mammoth Site of Hot Springs, South Dakota

The Mammoth Site in Hot Springs, South Dakota is a must see, especially if you have a dinosaur lover. When we started this cross country trip, we asked both kids if there was something they wanted to see. This was on the top of Michael's list.
Around the age of two, Michael became fascinated by dinosaurs. We read every book we could on them and he learned them all by name!

The Mammoth site was discovered in 1974 by accident. For thousands of years, the bones of these majestic animals had remained hidden. It wasn't until the land was being excavated for a housing development that they were found. This was an amazing discovery!

Thankfully to local residents, the site was preserved for all to see.

Today the site is the home to the world's largest collection of Colombian Mammoth exhibit.
It currently has 61 Mammoths in the pit, but the number will continue to grow has future excavations are done.
They have 58 Colombian Mammoths and 3 Woolly Mammoths. Oddly, all the mammoths discovered have been juvenile males. I guess the lady mammoths  were smart enough not to fall in!

The site is an active dig site. It currently has scientist and students working at the site. It is a world renown research center for Pleistocene studies! 

When you first enter, you will be greeted by a huge Mammoth skeleton. The staff will greet you and lead you into a theater were you get to watch a 10 minute movie about the site and the mammoths. 
From the heater, you will be taken into the actual dig site. This is amazing! Michael loved that he was able to see a real live dig site. 

The guided tour of the dig is around 30 minutes. Once it's done, you are free to walk around and explore even more. I think Michael and dad spent an additional 20 minutes in there.
After exploring the dig site, we headed into Exhibit Hall.

The Exhibit Hall is a mini museum. It's filled with life size replicas. You'll see mammoths, a Giant short faced bear, arrowheads, and a variety of other artifacts. You can spend an additional hour in here looking at all the stuff. It's wonderful collection.
Once you leave the hall, you'll enter a nice souvenir store. Here your little paleontologist can find books, toys,shirts, etc. All the proceeds will go back into the dig site.
We did learn about their educational programs too!
They have programs were kids can come and learn all about excavation work. I wish we lived closer. He would be there every day all summer.

So if you're ever in the area, be sure to stop by The Mammoth Site!
You will not be disappointed.

Please Note~ This post may contain affiliate links. If you choose to click on a link, add it to your cart and complete your purchase, I will receive a small percentage. We are very grateful for this additional source of income. Thank you. 

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A Homeschool Crew Review~ Creating a Masterpiece

We love creating art around our house, so we were thrilled when we were chosen to review the monthly plan from Creating a Masterpiece. I don't know who was more excited the kids or myself. I honestly think I may have been. It took me back to my college days!

Creating a Masterpiece
Creating a Masterpiece is an online fine art curriculum for students and parents of all ages. The teacher, Sharon Hofer's goal with the program is to help students build their creativity and confidence in their artwork. The program provides step by step instructions for the students through video instructions from Sharon herself.

Creating a Masterpiece'

 The program is broken up into different levels. 

Level 1
Level 2
Level 3
Level 4
Level 5
Art in History
Students can easily find a level that will fit their needs. The Beginner lessons can be completed within one lesson, while Level 1-5 lessons will usually be completed within 3-4 lessons. Students will be exposed to a wonderful selection of artistic styles and media. They'll get to use watercolors, acrylic paint, ink, oil paints, oil pastels, Conte crayon, charcoal, pencil, and Gouache.
  They will get to experiment with batik, carving, block printing, copper tooling, glass mosaic, mixed media, sculpture, silk painting, and wood burning.

How We Used Creating a Masterpiece?

We added this into our weekly homeschool schedule. We did get a little later start due to sickness in our house. We all seemed to catch that nasty little flu that was going around. We did have to wait for some of the supplies to come in. While waiting for the supplies, we were lucky enough to have the materials to give the sample lesson a try. We created the Landscape in soft pastels.

We were able to finish this project in one lesson. It was a great starting point for the kids.

I was thrilled with the pictures the kids created. Michael and Therese both created a masterpiece! I was thrilled when they both complemented each other about different parts of their artwork.

Our next project was from the beginners level. The kids wanted to work on the African Sunset! This project took us two lessons. We had to wait for the watercolors to drive before we could go on.

The kids had a lot of fun creating the trees. We used straws to make them. You definitely need lots of hot air!

We all agreed Michael's painting had an eerie feel to it. He made a mistake with a blob of blue paint and it now looks like a giant raven sitting in a tree.

Since we were working on our watercolor skills, we followed the African Sunset lesson with the Floral Medley. Just like the African Sunset, this project took us two lessons.

Therese and I really enjoyed reacting quite a few of these paintings. We loved the different combinations we were able to achieve. Michael didn't enjoy the flowers as much and was not happy with his picture. He's going to get to choose the next project we work on.

What We Thought of Creating A Masterpiece?

Since we live out in the sticks and do not have "real" internet, we had problems with the videos loading. We would often get that loading swirl on the screen. This was a little frustrating at times, but it had nothing to do with the program. If you're lucky enough to have great internet, you should have no problems. The slow loading did help the kids catch up to were they needed to be though. 

The kids found that Mrs. Hofer moved too fast in her step by step instructions. I'd have to agree that for new, young artist she moves a little too fast. More experienced artist would probably be fine with her pace. When you take an art class, the teacher moves at a slower pace. This is probably because he is walking around the room checking on all the student's progress. 

The program says it's for students of all ages. I find this claim a little misleading. I honestly feel younger children will need a lot of assistance from parents or they may become overwhelmed. Some of the techniques are difficult to achieve. If you have a perfectionist who would want their pictures to look just example pictures, you may have a few issues arise, maybe even a few tears. I would say this program is geared more for students in middle school and up. Now if you have a younger child with an artistic ability than this program could work for you too. For the younger child with average artistic skills, this program may become extremely frustrating!

We loved the great detailed instructions given in the videos by Sharon Hofer. She was energetic and very encouraging with her comments. She really tried to let the student know that they to can create a masterpiece. I loved how the videos were broken up into sections. Students could pause the video and catch up or work at their own pace. This was helpful for both my kids since, they couldn't keep up with pace of the instructions. 

There were a few lessons were the lighting was a little dim and it made it difficult to see the artwork clearly and what steps needed to be done. We fixed this by turning up the brightness on our computer. It helped a little but, different lightening, maybe angled a little differently, would make it easier to see. Michael complained more about this than Therese. I also felt that there were a few times the lighting did make it difficult to see the elements that Mrs. Hofer had added to her work of art.

I liked the detailed supply list. This made it very easy for me to get my supplies ordered and bought. You could print out the list and get to work. You do need to plan ahead. Many of supplies needed to complete these projects had to be ordered. In our small county, we weren't able to find the supplies needed to complete most of the projects. You can easily find them online, but you do have to plan ahead. There were no last minute runs into town for supplies and items found at the dollar store will not work! The cost of supplies may be a problem for some families, but this program is definitely worth it. 

Your student will get a wonderful fine arts class. It's a great elective for older students. Mrs. Hofer explains steps a whole lot better than some of my previous art teachers! We would definitely recommend this to other homeschooling families.

Want to see if Creating a Masterpiece is a right fit for your homeschool?

Creating Beautiful Art at Home {Creating A Masterpiece Reviews}

Please Note~ This post may contain affiliate links. If you choose to click on a link, add it to your cart and complete your purchase, I will receive a small percentage. We are very grateful for this additional source of income. Thank you. 

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

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

Over the past few weeks, we have been enjoying the book, Bessie's Pillow, from Strong Learning, Inc. It's wonderful tale of a young woman as she immigrates to the United States during the early 1900's. Bessie's Pillow was a perfect book for us since we were heading into this important time period in our history lessons.

Strong Learning, Inc.
Strong Learning, Inc is a company that provides assistance with the 3 R's.....Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic. The company was started in 1966, by Doctors Linda and Alvin Silbert. They wanted to help children grow intellectually, emotionally, and socially. They offer a variety of resources for families locally in New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. They also provide numerous resources online. Doctor Linda Silbert wrote Bessie's Pillow. She is the granddaughter of Bessie Dreizen, who the book is about. It's wonderful that she shared her grandmother's life with us.
Bessie's Pillow

For this review, we received a physical copy of Bessie's Pillow. The kids and I read the book together as a read aloud. I wanted to be able to stop and talk about the chapters and answer any questions they might have had. This was a new time period for us and I really wanted them to see what the early immigrants and our early ancestors went through. It was a wonderful book to read  together and learn how our great nation grew.
Bessie's Pillow~ Immigration

Bessie's Pillow is based on the true story of Boshka Markman. Boshka Markman is one of many young Jewish girls that immigrated to the United States. Like many immigrants that arrived in the United States at this time, she was fleeing religious persecution, She joined thousands that fled in order to find a better life. A safe life filled with struggles and happiness.
At nineteen years old, Boshka leaves her home in Vilna, Lithuania. Lithuania is part of the Russian Empire at this time. The Jewish people are forced to live together like cattle. Young men and woman are faced with mobs, murder, rape, and death. Boshka was lucky enough to be able to escape this desolate place. She leaves behind her parents and four brothers. With a pillow from a family friend for a young gentleman in the United States, Borshka boards a train out of Lithuania leaving the world she know behind. Her journey has just begun.
Borshka's journey is long, challenging, and exciting all at the same time. Only the first few chapters in the book detail her journey to America. Her journey is filled with lots of new experiences. She is even given a new name at Ellis Island. Borshka is now Bessie. Like many immigrants, their names were to hard for the Americans to pronounce so they were changed. While traveling Bessie finds comfort in the pillow she was given to deliver to Nathan Dreizen.
Bessie does deliver the pillow to the handsome young, Nathan Dreizen. They become friends and eventually get marry. The majority of the chapters in the book deal with her life with Nathan and their children. I don't want to give too much away, but Nathan and Bessie are faced with many struggles and hardships as they learn to live in America. Many of the hardships are things we face today money issues, housing problems, difficulties raising children, and death. All throughout Bessie's journey and life, she amazes me with her constant spirit. No matter what life throws at her, she is ready and willing to meet it head on. She may struggle at first, but she pulls herself together and becomes even stronger. She is truly an amazing woman, an inspiration to us all.

 Bessie reminds me of my grandmothers. During their lives, they experienced so many ups and downs, but they never lost sight of what was I miss both of them tremendously. Reading Bessie's story, I could easily see my grandmothers in her. A daughter of an Irish immigrant and an Italian immigrant. I look back at what women like Bessie and my grandmothers had to face and I think they were made of different stock. They seem so much stronger than us today. The struggles and the heartache they experienced.  The fears and challenges they faced shaped them into the amazing woman they were.
Woman like Bessie are true ladies....strong, loving, and caring. These are the woman we need to admire. Woman that work hard, but do it with class. These woman are the role models are young daughters need to learn about and look up to.

For me, this book was awe-inspiring. It reminded me of my ancestors that came over many years ago. They left their family and country. They left their way of life and all they knew for a new adventure. I couldn't imagine having to do that today. They must have been filled with so much excitement, yet so much fear too. I don't know if I could have been that brave!
Therese was shocked by how young Bessie was when she traveled across the ocean to start a new life. She did have friends here to help her transition, but the journey over alone must have been scary. She was amazed at how hard she worked to just to survive. Life definitely wasn't easy for the new immigrants. She couldn't imagine traveling to a new country and not being able to speak the language. 
Michael enjoyed the story much more after Bessie met Nathan. He liked hearing about the lives of the men and how they made a new life here. They took the skills they had and flourished with them. He was impressed with how hard everyone had to work and how they relied on friends and family. There were no slackers. He thinks men and woman worked a lot harder than we do today.
Bessie's Pillow is a wonderful book that brings to life the story of an immigrant. We get to see Bessie's strength and courage throughout the book. I would recommend this book for families studying immigration. Students in grades 6th and up could easily read this book. The book does mention rape and murder, so it may not be a suitable fit for younger children. 

"Of one sort or another, no matter who you are, you will face many challenges, It is no different today. It will be no different tomorrow. But, whatever those challenges are, know that I am with you, as are countless others long ago.
All will be well. Happiness will come again."

I'm glad we read the book together! We were able to discuss the voyage over the ocean, the working conditions in the early 1990's, the segregation, religious persecution, and racism that existed then. The book allowed us to have many insightful conversations together!
An added bonus is the study guide provided on the website. It gives students the chance to learn more about Bessie's World! They can explore immigration, health, food (and try a few recipes), lifestyles (music, famous people, dancing, movies), see the news from that time period, learn about presidents, and more!

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

Till Next Time,

Please Note~ This post may contain affiliate links. If you choose to click on a link, add it to your cart and complete your purchase, I will receive a small percentage. We are very grateful for this additional source of income. Thank you. 

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