Friday, May 19, 2017

Country Rooster in Soft Pastels

The focused letter of the week at Blogging through the Alphabet is R. I wanted to share our Country Roosters with you this week. This project comes from Creating a Masterpiece. You can read my Creating a Masterpiece review on my blog.

Alyssa and I started with drawing the rooster and grassy hill using shapes such as jagged lines, circles, and ovals. Then, we filled in the background and blended the color into the Pastel paper using our fingertips as seen below.
My Starting Phase
Alyssa's First Step
Adding More Color
My Rooster Before Adding Color Details
My Finished Country Rooster
Alyssa's Finished Country Rooster
Using Soft Pastels as a Medium
I will link this post up at The Virtual Refrigerator Blog Hop. I will also link this post up at Blogging through the Alphabet. Check out all the great posts! Grab a beverage and enjoy blog hopping.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Quick Art Project: Charcoal Sailing Adventure

Today's Blogging through the Alphabet post will focus on the letter Q. I decided to go with a QUICK art project my daughter completed using the art program, Creating a Masterpiece. She used charcoal paper and black charcoal for this project. A kneading eraser or her finger was occasionally used to smudge and shade areas. She signed her name at the bottom too.
Sailing Adventure
Using Charcoal 
I will link this post up at The Virtual Refrigerator Blog Hop. I will also link this post up at Blogging through the Alphabet. Check out all the neat posts!


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Homeschool Review Crew: Grades 3/4 Math Supplement from Algebra for Breakfast

Algebra for Breakfast

We recently received a 6-month subscription to Grades 3-4 content from Algebra for Breakfast to review and use as a Math supplement. The program was created by instructor, Bob Hazen. There are two levels available to purchase: 3-4 Grade or 5-6 Grade.

I love teaching Algebra so when I saw this review product I was curious and wanted to challenge my daughter's skill and ability level. I've always wanted to introduce algebraic concepts to her so that she would understand advanced math concepts better in the future.

We received access to the online lesson content, a set of colorful Math Dice, and a zipped file containing the Skip Counting Songs Album in M4A format. There were ten songs included on the album. The Math Dice set included two 12-sided blue dice and three 6-sided red dice. The dice may vary in color. The Math Dice set enables children to practice four basic mathematical operations: Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, and Division.

Algebra for Breakfast is an online video-based Math enrichment program. The 3-4 Grade level currently consists of 45 lessons with a total of 53 planned lessons to be added. The content is gradually released. One lesson usually contains 1-3 short videos in addition to a worksheet which reinforces the concepts being learned. The Parent's Corner houses the teacher answer keys for almost all of the worksheets. The teacher answer keys are downloadable files available in PDF format. Please note that there are NOT answer sheets for ALL of the worksheets. You will see a few screenshots of video lessons below.
Over and Up

How I Used Algebra For Breakfast
My daughter, Alyssa, who is 9 years old utilized this program. The program offered her the chance to attempt more challenging math concepts. She works at a 3rd-5th grade level and has strong Math skills so I placed her at the 3-4 Grade level as a way to review and learn material in a sequential manner. This enrichment program was implemented as a supplement to Alyssa's core Math curriculum We worked on this program 3-5 times per week for approximately 15-45 minutes a sessions.

She worked through 1-3 lessons per day on our 2008 Mac OS X 10.11.6 computer using Chrome 58 as our preferred browser. Adobe Reader was used to open PDF formatted files. No computer software is needed to access the content. Algebra for Breakfast suggests that students complete 1-2 lessons per week to maximize the learning experience.

First, we were given a username and password information to login in order to gain access to the content. We clicked on the Member Login Click Here Link. Then, I clicked on the Grades 3-4 ALL Lessons Access Page tab to open and view all of the lessons for that particular level as seen below.
Please Enlarge Image

The four preparatory activities were completed together while we waited for the Math Dice set to arrive via mail. We watched a short "how to" video tutorial. She made a set of playing cards using index cards which would be used during the Ten-Twenty-Thirty game. She made black and red digit cards for the numbers 1-10. Furthermore, we watched an Addition War and Multiplication War video. My daughter has already mastered addition and multiplication so we did not actually play these games during the review period. However, you could easily play them as form of review. I focused more on the new content and algebraic terms.
Preparatory Lessons
Next, we clicked on a particular lesson title link where we viewed a short instructional video lesson lasting approximately 1 1/2 - 20 minutes long. Most videos we've watched were on the shorter length range. You can easily rewatch the videos if necessary. If there was more than one video for a lesson, then usually one of the videos was a parent introductory video offering teacher tips or reminders about a concept. Bob Hazen is the instructor who presents the material in a recorded classroom setting. He teaches his elementary-aged students using the dice, manipulatives, and worksheets provided in the curriculum. Occasionally, the video lessons were watched on our iPad. The lessons gradually become more difficult and built on each other.
Writing Symbols for X-Squared
Video Lesson

Writing Symbols for X-Squared
Corresponding Worksheet and Teacher Answer Key
Square and Oblongs
FNLN (First Name Last Name)
Viewing Lesson and Completing Worksheet on iPad

Then, Alyssa completes the corresponding worksheet which reinforces the concepts being taught. The worksheets were usually printed before a video lesson by clicking the Download the Worksheet Click Here button below the video. The worksheets are not time consuming and require very little writing. The number of problems is also limited and is appropriate for the intended age group. Some parental involvement is required for specific lessons. For example, during several lessons my daughter was asked to build using the blocks. I needed to indicate on the worksheet whether she built and wrote the problem correctly as seen in the last photo. In the first photo below, you will see a variety of completed worksheets. Alyssa's favorite worksheet was titled, "Are They the Same?" She matched the pieces to the words and symbols. The other worksheets below practiced algebraic concepts such as Skip Counting and Identifying X-Squared.
Listen to Skip Counting Songs
Skip Count and Color Numbers
Parent or Teacher Lesson Involvement

Our Experiences and Results
We have completed the first 25 lessons from the 3-4 Grade level. The lessons were age appropriate for the grade level indicated. I noticed that Alyssa has a deeper understanding of the algebraic concepts being introduced. The method that Bob Hazen uses to teach has been effective and successfully implemented in our home. My daughter usually has no questions after a lesson and has no difficulties with completing the worksheets independently. The worksheets provide the perfect amount of practice. Not to mention, minimal parent/teacher preparation is required. I watched the videos with my daughter even though I didn't have to, printed worksheets, and viewed the answer sheets when necessary. I was involved in several lessons to check for understanding. I never had to force my daughter to use the program. She willingly asked when she could complete her Algebra for Breakfast lessons each day.  

Alyssa's Opinion
The Math Dice games were my daughter's favorite. She would add the two blue 12-sided dice and then use the three other red dice to add, subtract, multiply, or divide to find the closest number to the sum of the blue die. She was eager to play the Math Dice game during her free time. She also liked the worksheets, because they were quick and easy. She said that the worksheets were fun especially when using manipulative blocks. The videos were easy to understand and the teacher spoke clearly. They were informative not boring. She preferred to use our own Skip Counting CD instead of the album songs sent to us.  

Recommendations
I recommend Algebra for Breakfast to individuals wanting their children to learn algebraic concepts using an effective hands-on approach at an earlier age. The approach addresses several learning styles. A conglomeration of games, worksheets, block manipulatives, and videos keep the learner engaged. Children who like video-based lessons will appreciate this program.

This program could be used in a public or private school setting. It could also be used as an after school, summer school, tutoring, or co-op program. I believe Algebra for Breakfast is a Math supplement that could definitely enrich any 3rd-6th grade Math core curriculum.

Possible Vendor Suggestions

  • I wish there was some way to track Alyssa's progress or completed lessons as she works through the program. I am currently indicating the lesson number and title in our lesson planner. The vendor could possibly use a star, checkmark box, or a draw thru line. 
  • I would prefer having a PDF zipped file or set that contains ALL of the worksheets and teacher answer keys in numerical order to print out in one sitting. 
Price
There are several package options on the website. I HIGHLY recommend purchasing the Full Membership Pack so that you will have ALL materials needed to successfully complete lessons. This package includes the manipulative blocks which will help children understand the concepts better and offer a more hands-on, interactive approach to learn Algebra. Visit the website store for more information:

$122 Full Membership Pack 
$42 Reduced Membership Pack
$22 AFB Membership (Content Only) With No Membership Pack

Special Notes: All prices are subject to change without notice. This program REQUIRES special manipulative blocks which are included in the Full Membership Pack. You will need these blocks to complete the exercises.
Algebra for Breakfast

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Read other Algebra for Breakfast reviews at the Homeschool Review Crew blog.
Bob Hazen's Algebra Lessons {Algebra for Breakfast Reviews}
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Thursday, May 4, 2017

P is for Panda Bear Art Project

It's time for my "Letter P" post for Blogging Through the Alphabet linky. I decided to showcase Alyssa's Panda Bear Art project. The project came from Creating a Masterpiece.

This was her least favorite project, but she loved the feel Velour paper. I think it is cute! She didn't like the way her Panda Bear came out. I love that this particular program encourages the use of different mediums and papers. The results always seem more professional.

Check out a few of the project steps below. Enjoy your visit!
Watch Video Presentation While Drawing Panda
Drawing Panda Bear Inside a Triangle Shape 
Tracing Over on to Velour Paper
Trace Indented Lines Using White Oil Pastel
onto Black Velour Paper
Coloring Panda Head White
Adding More Color
Final Panda Bear Art Project
Using Oil Pastels on Velour Paper
I will link this post up at The Virtual Refrigerator Blog Hop. I will also link this post up at Blogging through the Alphabet. This week the focus is on Letter O. Check out all the neat posts!




Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Homeschool Review Crew: Entire Level I Bundle from ArtAchieve

ArtAchieve
My daughter and I are ecstatic about the one-year online subscription or license for the Entire Level I Bundle from ArtAchieve we received to review. It gave us access to 10 core homeschool Art lessons. In addition to those paid lessons, you will find a few FREE Level I art projects on their website such as Czech Cat, Simple Lines, Shading Rounded Objects, Shading Objects That Have Corners, and an Introduction to Painting. The Czech Cat project is a lot of fun!
ArtAchieve

ArtAchieve is a K-8th grade Art curriculum or program. The step-by-step art lessons were created by John Hofland who is also the instructor for this curriculum. Level I is suitable for individuals ages 5 and up. However, people of ALL ages will definitely enjoy this drawing program. Not to mention only basic art supplies are needed and you do NOT need any background knowledge teaching Art to use this program. The Art lessons are inspired from art or objects from around the world. For example, the nightlight in the second photo below was the inspiration for the Dragonfly from Ecuador. Ecuadorian artisans made the night lights from recycled glass. Some lessons include a "Time for Reflection." These thought-provoking questions will get you thinking about your art work and if you applied the skills learned from the video to the project.
Night Light Inspirational Object

There are numerous Cross Curricular Connections covering a variety of subjects such as Literature, Reading, Writing, Science, Math, Geography, Social Studies, Art, Music, Drama, and more. The cross curricular connections included educational websites to explore specific topics for EACH art lesson. We always glanced at the literature suggestions to see if we wanted to check out any of the recommended books from our library. Alyssa learned about Welsh author, Roald Dahl, through one of their links and later added several of his books including James and the Giant Peach to her independent reading list after completing the Sheep from Wales project. We also looked at the maps and globes in order to identify locations mentioned during the art lesson such as Ecuador, Haiti, Nepal, Mount Everest, Bali, China, Hungary, Tanzania, etc. Furthermore, there were several links to music around the world. My daughter was fascinated with the relaxing music from Ecuador and the beautiful Welsh folk music.
The Plate from Nepal Cross Curricular Connections

Entire Level I Art Projects
  • Simple Lines (FREE)
  • Shading Objects That Have Corners (FREE)
  • Shading Rounded Objects (FREE)
  • An Introduction to Painting (FREE) 
  • The Czech Cat (FREE)
  • The Hungarian Insects
  • The Haitian Gecko
  • The Dragonfly from Ecuador
  • The Chinese Dragon
  • The Owl from Bali
  • The Kitenge Tree Wall Hanging from Tanzania
  • The Plate from Nepal
  • Four Suns with Four Faces
  • The Sheep from Wales
  • The Umbrella from Thailand
Simple Lines Art Lesson Activity 
How We Used ArtAchieve
I used ArtAchieve with my daughter, Alyssa (Age 9) as her core Art curriculum. All of the art lessons were added to an account we had last year. After logging in, expiration dates were indicated for each art project. Navigation was easy. I simply clicked on the project title or the plus sign for more details. We used the program on our MAC OS X 10.11.6 and Chrome was our preferred browser. Adobe Reader was utilized to open, read, and print PDF-formatted files such as the warm-up exercises and project printables.

The lessons do NOT need to be done in numerical order. We chose the Art projects we wanted to complete from the level based on Alyssa's level of interest or current studies. Most of the time she chose an animal or nature related scene to draw and paint.

We usually completed 1-2 art projects each week working 1-4 days a week. Occasionally we split the lesson into two sessions. We worked on art projects for approximately 25-90 minutes a session. The first day was dedicated to the warm-up grid drawing activity, relation exercises, and step-by-step drawing lesson. The painting or coloring session was held on the second day. Depending on the activities completed, the related cross curricular connections were explored each session or on the first day. During the warm-up exercises, Alyssa named the lines being drawn.

The last time we reviewed ArtAchieve we listened to music while working as suggested, but this time Alyssa preferred no music in the background. It distracted her and she wanted it to be quiet so she could focus better. It wasn't always silent when we were drawing, coloring, or painting. We used this experience or time to bond. I completed many of the art projects with my daughter. We also discussed the art elements we were using in our drawings.

Lessons were available in two different formats. My daughter preferred the video lessons over the PowerPoint presentation format. The short video lessons were watched on an older 2008 MAC computer. The videos were approximately 25-30 minutes long, but we also needed more time because we frequently paused the video to draw the sections. We gathered basic art materials and printed out the grid drawing and drawing images before each lesson. Minimal preparation was necessary.

A Glance at The Plate from Nepal
First, we watched a short video presentation. An example of the final project was revealed. The instructor always listed and showed us the supplies needed at the beginning of the video. The goals or objectives were also provided. The video often contained Science or Geography factoids about Art lesson animals or locations. A mini cultural component was usually presented.

Then, she did the relaxation exercises and warm-up drawing. The student copies the same lines drawn in the top box in the box directly underneath it. The project rules are also stated visibly on the screen each time a new project is started. At this time you can listen to music. You can see the project printable in the third photo. She used a Sharpie fine tipped black marker to draw. The instructor presents the lesson in a step-by-step manner and teaches everyone how to use planning dots in their drawings. The video was paused periodically so that we could catch up. 
Next, Alyssa drew the background using motifs. She also added details to her drawing to make it more personalized. The planning dot photo can be seen in the image below.  
Motif Definition from
Video Presentation

Finally, the bird drawing was painted using Acrylic Paints beginning with the bird and its feathers and ending with the background design. Alyssa learned how to draw motifs and about using a complementary color scheme.
   
Basic Supplies to Gather and Store in One Spot
  • Sharpie Fine Tipped Black Markers
  • Crayola Washable Colored Markers
  • 2H Lead Pencils
  • Epson Glossy Photo Printer Paper
  • Watercolor Paper
  • Sketch Paper
  • Acrylic Paints
  • Prang Watercolor Paints
  • Pentel Oil Pastels
  • Masking or Paint Tape
  • Paint Brushes (Varies)
  • Paint Board
  • Paint Palette
  • Crayons
  • Glitter Paint and Paint Pens (Optional)
Note: You do not need to buy these specific brands. We used art supplies we already had on hand and I wanted the list to be specific in case you wanted to try them at home.

Recommendations and Results
I HIGHLY recommend ArtAchieve to all homeschool families. Art and classroom teachers in public and/or private school will find these art lessons for kids appealing as well. I also recommend it to families looking for art programs to use after school for their artistic child. This is an excellent Art program if you have a child who loves to draw, color, or paint.

We completed almost ALL of the Entire Level I art projects during the review period. We'll start a new lesson this week called Kitenge Tree Wall Hanging from Tanzania. Our plans are to revisit the art lessons from the Entire Level I using different colors, techniques, and art mediums. The art projects will be given as gifts after each one is photographed for my daughter's art portfolio.
All Completed ArtAchieve
Entire Level I Art Projects

Overall Experiences
My daughter and I appreciate the variety of subjects offered as art projects. The explanations were clear and concise. The drawing steps were simplified and given in a step-by-step manner. My daughter could easily understand the directions and could work independently on a project if desired. She learned about types of lines and designs she could use during the Czech Cat Art lesson.


The program leaves encouraging remarks for your child during the video presentation. They also included art terminology for your child to learn. The presentation also taught using maps and how to change mediums or techniques. 

Her favorite projects were the Four Suns With Four Faces, Dragonfly from Ecuador, and the Haitian Gecko. She created three separate Sun projects, because she felt like it was a quick and easy project to do in her free time. She also liked learning about patterning with the use of warm and cool colors. Her favorite part of the Dragonfly project was brushing acrylic glitter glaze over the top of the insect painting making it sparkle and shine. Furthermore, she learned that oil pastels resist watercolors during the Dragonfly from Ecuador art lesson.
Warm and Cool Color Diagram
Differences Between Oil Pastels (Opaque)
and Watercolors (Transparent)

Alyssa's Review

The drawing section is easy, because the teacher tells you exactly what to do step-by-step. If you know basic shapes like lines, circles, curves, dots, and others then you can use the program. Maybe a toddler could with help. I also liked that maps were added and that he talked about the culture of a place. I wish that the rules for drawing weren't at the beginning of each project. I ended up skipping that part after hearing it several times. The teacher was also too fast at times so I needed to pause the video.   

Possible Vendor Suggestions
1.) I wish a DVD-format was available so that Art projects could be more portable.
2.) I would offer two-year licenses for individuals wanting to spread out lessons over a longer period of time.
3.) Create at least 32-36 weekly art lessons per leveled set to last an entire school year.
4.) A printable PDF-formatted booklist for each lesson would be more helpful for us rather than having links to books at Amazon to purchase. You could search You Tube for specific read aloud of books in the cross curricular connections.
5.) I would separate the rules from the videos. Have one short introductory video with each lesson but make it optional for current ArtAchieve users. Alyssa kept asking me to forward passed it, because she had heard it so often. We both felt like a separate video for this feature would be best.

Price
A one-year license retails for $40 when you purchase all lessons individually. Each individual lesson is $4 if purchased separately. The price is currently 25% off which saves you money. The cost for this bundle is now on sale for ONLY $30 making each individual lesson only $3. This price is affordable when compared to other Art curricula on the market.

Note: All prices are subject to change without notice.

Social Media
Facebook @ArtAchieve
Twitter @ArtAchieve
Pinterest artachieve
Google+ ArtAchieve
Instagram @johnahofland

Grab a beverage and head over to the Homeschool Review Crew blog so that you can read many more ArtAchieve reviews and experiences with the different levels. You can also check out my review for the Entire Level II Bundle from ArtAchieve from last year on my blog.
Art Lessons Inspired From Around the World {ArtAchieve Reviews}
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