ArtAchieve – A Review for Every Artist

When you look around my house, you will naturally see books, books, and more books. You will also find sketch books, drawing pencils, watercolors, and more all throughout the house. One of my daughters hopes to one day illustrate children’s books so I am always on the look out for books, tutorials, and other resources to help her. ArtAchieve has allowed us to use and review their Entire Level 1 online art course and Lydia has been the primary student. I’d love to share her experience with you.

Art Lessons for Children ArtAchieve Review
ArtAchieve has five levels of art instruction available online. They do increase in difficulty and skill as you progress through the levels. We chose to go with Level 1 because the lessons were fun, we had all supplies readily available, and I could invite younger ones to join us at times. You can select any of the lessons at any level and learn more details about what that lesson will present to your student. Not only are supplies listed but also the approximate time the lesson will take to complete.

 

Another great aspect to the ArtAchieve lessons is that you can choose to dig deeper into the subject matter. In Level 1, Lesson 3,for example, is The Hungarian Insects. If you wanted to explore the subject a bit more, you are given links to resources that help you learn about the history and geography of Hungary. A list of picture books by Eric Carle on insects is suggested and a great way to showcase great art work. Science and writing suggestions are given as well. While we didn’t utilize all these cross-curricula resources, it is nice to have that option.

ArtAchieve has FREE lessons available. The lessons on Simple Lines and Shading are beneficial no matter which level of ArtAchieve you begin with.

How did Lydia use ArtAchieve Level 1?

Initially, I had two of my daughters using Level 1 of ArtAchieve: Lydia, 12 and Hannah, 10. Hannah completed a few lessons if she found the picture interesting but Lydia was my devoted student who I really had in mind for this course. Lydia used this independently and most often worked on her art in the afternoons. She would look over the lessons to see what supplies she needed, find a quiet spot, and create a masterpiece. She usually completes one lesson a week. She has looked over the other levels and is eager to give them all a try.

I really liked using this course. Well, I didn’t really enjoy the lesson on shading but it is an important skill to have. This would work really well for younger children as well because it is easy to understand. What you are doing is explained really well. The warm ups that you do are helpful and good practice. It was fun. Sometimes the videos were a repetitive in the beginning. And I didn’t like the words on the screen being read at the same time. I can read faster and like reading it for myself. Lydia – 12

There were a couple of afternoons that some of my younger ones (8 and 6) wanted to create a masterpiece of their own. They would wait for Lydia to finish and then copy her work. With a bit of guidance and encouragement, I think they could work through Level 1 quite well.

Final Thoughts

Overall, we were quite pleased with ArtAchieve Level 1.  The video instruction gives clear, easy to understand explanations. I loved hearing the instructor comment on how no two creations are going to look the same. This is your art. In a house with all of the children constantly drawing, sketching, and creating, we can easily find ourselves comparing our creations a bit harshly.

I appreciated the Warm Up activities for the lessons. I think they are really helpful for the student to get a feel for the lines, curves, and angles that will be used in the art work for the day. Very simple but very helpful.

Crew Members were able to review Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 of ArtAchieve. So take a moment and see what others are saying about Art Achieve and the various levels of art instruction.

 

Art Lessons for Children ArtAchieve Review
Crew Disclaimer

Building Essential Skills – A Review

One of my goals in homeschooling is to encourage my children to love learning; not just for a few years but for a lifetime. A key to that love of learning is having strong foundational skills in the basics. Learning is much more enjoyable when you don’t have to struggle to understand what you are reading, right? There are so many ways to teach, reinforce, and review these essential learning skills. One resource we are currently using and reviewing is the Complete Home Learning Suite from Essential Skills Advantage.

What is the Complete Home Learning Suite?

From Kindergarten to Grade 6, this Learning Suite provides learning activities in six subject areas:

  • Math (K-6)
  • Reading (K-6)
  • Spelling (1-6)
  • Language/Grammar (3-6)
  • Geography (3-5)
  • Science (K-3)

In each subject area of learning there are a wide variety of learning activities depending on the grade level of your student.

Why the Complete Home Learning Suite Works for Us

1 – As a mom of nine children ranging from high school down to toddler, time is a precious commodity. Keeping track of where everyone is and how they are doing in various subjects and learning areas can be challenging at times. ESA has made tracking my students progress so simple and easy. I can very quickly pull up the reports for my various students and see what they have been working on and how they are doing. A quick glance at the overview report usually is all I need but I can get a more detailed look if needed.

2 – Flexibility is a must and the Learning Suite gives that ability to us. My child may need Grade 2 Math but can read at a Grade 4 level. Not a problem. Your child is not locked into one learning level or grade but can flow from grade to grade depending on the subject and skill level of your child. This also works well if you notice your child needs to bump down a grade for a bit of review of math facts or a bit of phonics review.

3 – Students can work at their own pace without pressure. The learning activities are not timed with Essential Skills. If working on math facts is going a bit slow one day, it is not a timed activity so the student does not have to rush to finish. If a passage needs to be re-read more than once, the student can take all the time they need.

4 – There are no on-screen distractions. This is a huge plus for me as a mom. I strongly dislike online resources that have a “song and dance” mentality to motivate children to complete the tasks. I have no desire to monitor gold coins, games, and other “motivators”. There are no ads or links that could lead my children away from the ESA site and onto other areas of the internet.

5 – You can reap the benefits of this resource with just a little time each day. I am a firm believer that young children need to be outside playing in dirt instead of glued to a screen. About four days a week, the three children who are using ESA rotate using my computer to complete their learning time. The times can range anywhere from 10 minutes to 20+minutes depending on the child, the day, and the activity they are working on. In as little as 10 minutes a day, much can be accomplished. The program naturally moves the child from one activity to the next.

My Children’s Thoughts

During the past several weeks, I have had three children actively using ESA’s program: Hannah (10), Sarah (8), and Samuel (6).  Here is what they have to say about the Learning Suite.

“It is fun and I enjoy doing it. My favorite part is grammar.  I really like grammar and comprehension.” Hannah – 10

Hannah is solid on her reading and math skills so for her Essential Skills was just a fun extra. She has spent most of her time with grammar, spelling, and reading comprehension. She dabbled a bit with map skills and had a good challenge there!

“I like reading. It helps me learn more words so that I can understand better. The word searches are my favorite.” Sarah – 8

While Sarah can read well, she is not confident in her reading. So the reading activities have been a great boost for her in that regard. She also is required to spend about 10 minutes working with math as well. It might not be her favorite but she will survive.

“I like it. I wish I could do Hannah’s math. I’ll say one more thing. Reading is hard.” Sam – 6

Like Sarah, Sam has mostly focused on reading and math. While he may say reading is hard, he is doing really well. Since he is finishing up Kindergarten, he alternates days between math and reading instead of doing both in the same day.

Final Thoughts

Overall, we have enjoyed using The Complete Learning Suite from Essential Skills Advantage. It works well as a supplement to our learning and helps build confidence and mastery of skills in a short amount of time each day. Customer service is excellent and they are quick to respond to any questions or issues you may have.

No matter the method that you use in your homeschool, the Learning Suite can be a fun way to reinforce skills. If your children attend public/private school, the Learning Suite can be a quick, easy way to keep their skills sharp over the summer break.

Essential Skills Advantage Review
Crew Disclaimer

Poetry Memorization

From Fix It Grammar to Writing Intensives, we have enjoyed using resources from the Institute for Excellence in Writing in our home. For the past several weeks,we have been reviewing Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization (including a printed copy of the Student Book) from IEW. It has become a regular (and fun) time during our mornings together. We all appreciate when learning can be beneficial and enjoyable across the ages.

Encouraging memorization with my children has always been important to me. Until a few years ago, it was a regular part of our learning. It seems that I had lost consistency with my younger children when it comes to working on memorization. There are so many benefits to memory work that I wanted to re-introduce this habit. Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization came at the perfect time to help me reset our focus and have my younger ones get excited about memory work!

Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization is brilliant in its simplicity. As a mom of nine, I heartily embrace the beauty of simplicity! Memory work does not have to be boring, stressful, or overwhelming.

IEW’s Poetry Memorization Components:

Teacher’s Manual – This contains 96 poems and speeches divided into Five Levels. Level One will have you memorizing a short poem about the untimely demise of a mighty worm and in Level Five St. Crispin’s Day Speech from Shakespeare’s Henry V will be in the line up.

If you are new to utilizing memorization with your children, an introduction explains the importance of memorization and how poetry is an excellent choice for memory work. No matter the age of the student, it is recommended that everyone begin at Level One. It might seem simplistic but older students will progress quickly.  Who doesn’t enjoy hearing their seventeen year old recite Ooey Gooey?

Biographies, history tidbits, literary devices, poetic elements and more are included in an appendix to help expand the learning experience and understanding. Memory charts are included to help you track reviewing mastered selections while working on newer ones.  Once you advanced a level or two, you don’t want to forget those earlier works!

A set of CDs accompany the Teacher’s Manual and is a helpful addition to this resource. Each of the poems and speeches are read on the CDs. This allows the students to hear proper pronunciation and elocution. During our lunch has been a great time to play the poems we have mastered and are working on. Quiet time or traveling in the car are other great opportunities for quick reviews via the CDs. My younger ones recognized “that Pudewa guy” and he has been most helpful in pronunciation of author names such as Hilaire Belloc. The CD set also includes the Nurturing Competent Communicators conference talk by Andrew Pudewa on DVD. Such an encouraging talk on how to help your children to become effective communicators through the written word. I have enjoyed listening to this a few times; always focusing on something a bit different with each listen.

IEW also includes a few mp3s that you are able to download:

  • Mastery Learning, Ability Development, and Individualized Education
  • Ten Thousand Time and Then Begins Understanding
  • On Listening
  • On Speaking
  • On Reading
  • On Writing

These are great to download and listen to in the evenings or when doing a bit of school planning. I find that they help me refresh and refocus my mind on the goals I have in educating my children.  It has been years since I attended a homeschool conference so mp3s such as these allow me to create my own “mini-conference at home”. A lovely bonus!

As the mom on a tight budget, I have always appreciated IEW’s generosity in their including the Student Book as a free e-book download. The Student Book has each poem on a page and some include illustrations. My younger ones love to color these simple pictures and create their own personal poetry book. For my older ones, it allows for easy review and practice to have their own copies. And just in case a page gets torn or lost, replacing is simple and quick. **Please note: The Poetry Memorization set includes a free e-book download of the student book.  If you prefer, a printed spiral-bound hard copy can be purchased separately.

How We Used Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization

As soon as Poetry Memorization arrived, my younger children were constantly flipping through the teacher’s manual. My son, Sam (6), had me read every single poem in Level One. It took about five minutes and Ooey Gooey was memorized. Clearly, we were off to a great start.

My focus during the past several weeks has mainly been with my children 4 – 12. I do have three older children (17, 16, 14) who didn’t officially participate in our poetry memory time. There was a bit of a scheduling challenge so for the sake of consistency for the review period, I let my older ones slide. (They will be joining us soon!)

In the morning we would gather together to work on the poetry. We reviewed poems that had been mastered and then tackled the next poem in line. My twelve and ten year old daughters moved at a faster pace than my younger ones but that was not a problem. Listening to the older ones recite newer poems is just extra exposure for the younger ones.

To help with retention in the beginning,  I printed pages for them so the younger ones could color the simple illustrations. But it was evident soon enough that they just enjoyed reciting the poems. I don’t think I could have skipped our memory work if I wanted to!  The poems selected for Level One are fun and engaging. My children are a bit competitive so there might be a race to see who completes Level One first. I am not against a little friendly competition.

One of the benefits of this program for me was the ability to work with my children on proper pronunciation. I have one child who often drops or slurs the ending of words. Another child likes to talk as fast as possible. When reciting the poems, it is the perfect time to really pay attention to these small details which can become major issues. Since the atmosphere and mood is lighthearted and fun, it isn’t discouraging at all for them.

I love how easy Poetry Memorization was to implement. It is simple and straightforward. And we are once again doing memory work that is so very important!  I love seeing how much my children are enjoying mastering these poems. My biggest surprise was by far my son, Sam, who is so eager to tackle memory work. Best of all? We are having a blast. There are not many mornings where our time with Poetry Memorization doesn’t include laughter.

If you are new to memorization or need a bit of help staying focused, Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization is a great resource.Don’t take my word for it! Check out what other Crew Members are saying!

 

Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization IEW Review
 

 

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