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
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The Hole Story of the Doughnut

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In our home, a great amount of fiction is read and enjoyed. That doesn’t mean that we lack appreciation for a good non-fiction read now and then. About once a month or so, I go to my library’s online catalog and take a peek to see what new non-fiction picture books are heading our way.

Every once in a while I stumbled across a book like Earmuffs for Everyone!: How Chester Greenwood Became Known as the Inventor of Earmuffs that not only share a bit of history and a biography but are super fun to read as well. A couple of weeks ago, I made another such discovery that spoke to my family in a sweet way.

The Hole Story of the Doughnut (Pat Miller). Yes! A book about the inventor of the doughnut! We seriously love doughnuts in our home so everyone loved this read.

Hanson Crockett Gregory, in 1844, went to sea at the age of thirteen. His life at sea began as a cabin boy but he quickly worked his way to cook’s assistant. Gregory continued to work hard and became captain of a clipper (the fastest ship on the ocean at that time).  After rescuing Spanish sailors from the sea, Gregory was awarded a medal of honor from Queen Isabella II.  Clearly Hanson Crockett Gregory was a man of diligence and worthy character.

But, um, can we talk about the doughnuts? This is exactly how The Hole Story of the Doughnut begins; by telling us a bit about the man that Gregory was. Then finally we travel a bit back in time to June 22, 1847 when Hanson Gregory was sixteen.

Breakfast on board the ship was the usual fare of coffee and fried cakes. Balls of sweetened dough were dropped into a pot of hot lard. The smell was delicious. Perfection..until you hit the middle of the fried cake. The middle was left raw and greasy. This earned these fried cakes the name of “Sinkers”.  Yum?

Ah, but Hanson used a bit of creative thinking and solved the problem. A lid from a pepper can cut perfect holes in the middle of these fried cakes. And Sinkers were a thing of the past. Doughnuts were born!

What does young Hansen then do? Tells his mom all about his fried cake perfection and she sets up market in a friend’s store. So let’s all give a big Thank You!! to Hansen Crockett Gregory and his mom.

Is This Really True?

Here is another aspect that we enjoyed about The Hole Story of the Doughnut. Not only did author Pat Miller give us the story of the doughnut but went a little further. You know how sailors’ stories go, right? The fish is always bigger, you know. So a couple of tales were shared about how doughnuts were “really” created.

The story of the creation of the doughnut has been confirmed! In 1941 a man named Henry Ellis challenged the claim Gregory had on the doughnut. But a panel of people came together and agreed that Gregory had the right and proper claim to the doughnut. Ellis later admitted that it was a publicity stunt. Tsk, tsk, Mr. Ellis.

At the age of eighty-nine, Gregory passed away at a sailor’s home in Massachusetts (which I found that tidbit fascinating) and was buried near the sea.  In the 1950’s his headstone disappeared. However, in 1982 Dunkin’ Donuts president, Richard Hart, had a new headstone placed at Gregory’s grave.  If you live nearby in Massachusetts, grab a dozen doughnuts, head to Gregory’s graveside, and share our appreciation for his creativity in the sea-tossed kitchen.

We enjoyed this quick read on the doughnut. The author’s note contains the information about the publicity stunt and the headstone. So my younger ones enjoyed the story of the creation of the doughnut and the older ones and I got a bit of extra info which is always nice. Even the two year old likes this book. Ok, the page with the doughnut with sprinkles is his favorite, but can you blame him? Now it’s time to make the doughnuts.

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.

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