Take Time for Art: Curriculum Review

Take Time for Art: Curriculum Review

Time for Art with Penny Hayes

(Stay tuned all the way to the end and enter to win the Take Time for Art Ancient Greece Unit.  It’s $107 value!)

(Disclaimer: I received a copy of this product in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.)

I am always on the look-out for quality art programs for high school students. As a closet artist drawing instruction and the fundamentals of art have been non-negotiables in our homeschool. Couple these basics with several years of high-quality art instruction at co-op by some talented homeschool Mommas, along with some professional art instruction and well, we have high standards. And we have had a hard time finding homeschool art instruction or materials that meet the mark.

Enter Take time for Art: Hands-on Art History by Penny Hayes

First, we received a box of beautifully packaged, high-quality art materials. Each student pack comes with all but the most basic and common art materials and supplies needed to complete each of the projects featured. This actually makes the program so much more enjoyable because all you have to do is keep the project pack neatly and carefully packed together in a large, durable zip-lock bag for storage; meaning that your materials will be ready to use when needed.

We chose Ancient Greece instead of Ancient Egypt, or Ancient Rome because my 18-year-old son is an old hand at re-creating historically accurate weaponry and costumes and he was quite curious about the Spartan helmet included in the pack.

The program is a winning combination of online history, art instruction, and hands-on creation.

Ancient Greece’s program includes 16 units that vary in length between 5 and 22 minutes. Each unit covers a specific period and is a visual feast of artwork, compellingly narrated by Penny.

About every fourth lesson is an art project. For this set, the projects were:

  • an octopus painting, reminiscent of frescos found in Ancient Greece
  • a tile painting
  • a foil relief picture
  • a 3-D Spartan Helmet

These are not cheesy, elementary projects, but very nice, artistically delightful projects that are suitable for gift giving. Our art group included a 15-year-old artist, an 18-year-old artist and a 24-year-old nurse who does not consider herself an artist, all of whom are or were homeschooled. My two kids have had extensive art training and are quite good in their areas of interest, but the great thing about these projects is that provide a very solid base that allows your kids to follow the projects exactly or get creative.

Take Time for Art giveaway

Penny does an exceptional job of explaining and showing in detail each art project. Penny’s explanations are thorough and complete, and the lessons are neither too rushed or too drawn out.

Penny also includes the name and artist of each piece of artwork displayed in the Credits. Under “Resources” there is a brief welcome letter, materials, a pacing guide and resources needed to create each project. The Pacing Guide is actually a curriculum guide and includes art and history questions. This is a great introduction to basic art terms. Also included is a video on the color wheel and instructions on how to make one.

This program could quickly be turned into an art history class if the parent wants to have the kids memorize the artwork included, of which there is an impressive amount.

Also included was a unit titled, “On the Road with the Apostle Paul.” This is a lovely rendition of the Road to Damascus story, told in gorgeous artwork, again with Penny narrating. It is clever in all the best sense of the word, and a unique look at an important event in church history.

My kids were a bit worried that this program was going to be childish and silly but they spent several happy hours talking about the history, looking up and cross-referencing things Penny had mentioned (we are die-hard history people, too!). The art projects the kids chose to focus on gave them several happy hours of creative relaxation. Furthermore, the end results were lovely! Also, included were art mats and suggestions for how to complete the projects for every day use.

Lastly, Penny teaches the kids how to make a Roman Road in a cup. A simple but profound aspect of the Roman world and a lesson in construction that isn’t crazy messy but gets the point across.

I loved the thoroughness of the program, the attention to detail and Penny’s gentle and sweet spirit as she guides young artists through history and art!

This is a unique and well-done program and is definitely worth the cost, especially considering that you can have more than one student accessing the course at a time. Do yourself a favor and purchase the art supplies when you order the class so that you’ll have artist quality supplies at the ready.

The actual lessons add up to about 3 hours and each project will take between 1-3 hours. Each program is easily worth ¼ credit of art; combine two for ½ high school credit of Art, History or Elective credit. This program is easily accessible to kids in elementary school throughout High School and beyond and would make a lovely present for the historian or budding artist in your life!

You can find Penny on her blog, Take Time for Art, on Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram. 

Would you love to win this fantastic Ancient Greece art unit?  Enter below to win the Take Time for Art giveaway.a Rafflecopter giveaway

5 Reasons to Study Spanish!

5 Reasons to Study Spanish!

Have you ever considered teaching your child a foreign language?  It’s a dilemma many homeschool parents face.  When you start, what curriculum to use, and why do our students need to learn a foreign language anyway?  At True North Homeschool Academy, we believe that learning a foreign language has many benefits.  See just a few of them below.

Why learn Spanish? Here are 5 Compelling Reasons.

 

1) There are currently 20 million people studying Spanish right now!

Of all the foreign languages to study, Spanish might be the most popular, and for a good reason. There are approximately 437- 527 million Spanish Speakers worldwide, depending on which list you look at, but it’s definitely in the top 5 languages spoken worldwide.

2) Spanish is also spoken and understood by over 52 million people in the United States.

But buckle up, because that number is going to grow! By 2060, the Latino population of the U.S. will reach close to 130 million, making it the second largest Spanish speaking country in the world, overtaking Mexico, and increasing the Spanish languages global standing.

3).  Spanish, as a language, has a bright future.

With Spanish speakers on the rise, not only in the U.S. It is currently ranked as the second most important language for British citizens to learn.

4).  Spanish will increase your employability.

The Spanish market is a huge demographic for companies to target. Currently, the Latin American market has a 1.5 trillion dollar purchasing power (according to Forbes), making Spanish speaking employees more valuable than ever to employees as they tap into this profitable market

5) Understanding Spanish will allow you more opportunities.

These opportunities may come as the chase to travel, work, or study abroad with a richer experience.  Speaking Spanish will also open up an entire world of entertainment, with Spanish You-Tubes, television, and movies produced in Spanish.

Why learn a foreign language? For the health and brain benefits of course!

  1. Learning a foreign language can stave off dementia and Alzheimer’s! Mono-lingual adults showed signs of cognitive decline up to 3 years earlier than bilingual adults.
  2. Bilingual children score higher on problem-solving than monolingual kids. Learning a new language can improve overall cognitive functioning, including how second-semester you are. In other words, those who are bi-lingual are better able to observe and understand their surroundings, as well as edit out distractions. Bi-lingual people are better able to spot misleading information. Isn’t it interesting that Sherlock Holms and Lord Peter Wimsey (great fictional detectives), along with their creators, Sir Conan Doyle and Dorothy Sayers were bi or multi-lingual?
  3. Learning a foreign language enhances your understanding of your mother tongue.   Learning a second language causes a student to look carefully at sentence structure, grammatical functions and the nuances of vocabulary. A fun aspect of Spanish is that it’s a derivative of Latin. English is significantly influenced by Latin words. You probably know some Spanish and Latin vocabulary already!
  4. Learning a second language enhances memory and vocabulary.  These benefits allow students to score better on standardized tests!
  5. Learning a second language is good, clean fun! Kids naturally love to talk and write in codes, and a foreign language is just that. A terrific code to decipher for young minds, eager to learn and develop! The early your child learns a second language, the more confident and adept they will be at learning multiple languages!

So are you convinced that your child needs to learn Spanish, but not quite sure where to start?

If you are looking for a great second-semester memory enhancing, code-deciphering, FUN class, check our Spanish for Children or Beginning Latin! Classes meet live online each week, with a passionate, invested multi-lingual speaker.

(Wondering if live, online homeschool courses are right for you?  Check out the reasons we love live classes!)

Are you wondering why your child needs to learn a foreign language? Check out five reasons to learn a foreign language from True North Homeschool Academy! #homeschooling #Spanish #homeschoolcourses #TrueNorthHomeschoolAcademy

The Value of Homeschool Extras

The Value of Homeschool Extras

One of the greatest perks of homeschooling is that it can be tailored to each child.  This perk not only applies to core curriculum but also to all the little extras.  You may be tempted to skip out on some of these.  However, these extras are what can take a typical homeschooling day from boring to extraordinary!

Do you see the value of the extras in your homeschool? Check out why I think the homeschool extras can take your day from boring to extraordinary! #homeschool #homeschooling #electives

Electives, jobs, college prepping, life skills- these are frosting on the cake. They take a good, solid plan and jazz it up into something grand and festive.  So how do homeschool extras add value?

1).  Homeschool Extras Explore Their Interests

One year, our freshman took the Grammar of Poetry, Middle East studies, Intro to Water Color and Bio lab in our co-op. He also took Chemistry Lab and Myths and Legends online. Why?  Because it was what interested him!  Another year he enrolled in music studies, a lab at a local hospital, as well as a Physical Science lab. Our kids have even studied Spanish at the local co-op with native Spanish speakers.  We have sought out opportunities for them to explore things that are their passion.

Find out what your child loves.  What sparks their passion?  What lights a fire in them?  Perhaps you have a child that loves cooking.  Then our culinary course would be an easy place to start fanning that flame.  Maybe you have one that loves art. Then don’t forget to check out our digital art design course.  Maybe a local art class would even spark their interest.

Explore their interests and match their curiosity.  You might be surprised where your adventures might lead you.

2).  Homeschool Extras teach Life Skills 

Our acreage and house-rebuild project have provided ample opportunity to learn life skills. Our kids know, in great detail, about parts of construction and remodeling.  All of the kids also know how to comparison shop, cook and meal plan. They know how to glean and acquire goods and clothing for next to nothing and still look well dressed and respectable.  Students learn life skills in several ways.

First, from simply living.

By living and working alongside each other. Most of the above were not curriculum but necessity driven. When my husband and I have not known how to do something (i.e. tile the bathrooms) we have found mentors and books and learned.  Our lifestyle has necessitated seeking out information and implementing it.

Life skills for our teens also include knowing how to introduce people to each other, carry on a civil conversation, make others feel welcome and at home and engage in moral, honest relationships. We love technology, but use it as a tool rather than being enslaved to it. Shaking hands and making eye contact with new acquaintances is a lost art and one we hope our kids embrace, even as they leave our home.  Everyday life offers so many opportunities for homeschool extras, embrace it!

Also, from part-time work or volunteering.

Our high-schoolers have often had jobs that have included part-time work at tea and coffee houses, office work, farm and ranch work and most recently working at an orchard.  Never undervalue learning from hands-on training.

3).  Homeschool Extras Help Prepare Your Child

What comes after high school? We have found college is getting more expensive, less academically challenging and of questionable value when coupled with crippling debt. We are also in that odd middle-income range that affords mostly nothing regarding government aid, but can’t justify $25K per year per child on college. Where does that leave us? With college hacking, vocational and entrepreneurial endeavors.

Homeschoolers can spend their high school years fine-tuning their plan.  They can ask what comes next?  With that dream in mind, they can form a plan and a strategy on how to implement it.  Do they want a career that will require college?  Then perhaps they can start with some cheaper classes at the local college.  They can even volunteer in their field of interest to help with scholarship applications.  Maybe college isn’t their thing; then they can always pick up a part-time job in their area of interest.

(Need help during those scary high school years?  Check out our homeschool advising service in our store!)

As I wrote this post, it seemed a bit superfluous. I mean, most of the extras look like stuff that we “do” as a matter of course through living our lives. I offer what we do and have done as mere suggestions – perhaps they will spark an idea for you.  So how about you, do you see the value of the extras?

Using Gaming as a Homeschool Elective

Using Gaming as a Homeschool Elective

Homeschooling is a Unique System

To homeschool high school requires a certain amount of core subjects to graduate. Of course, as homeschooling parents, we know this.

But here is something you probably DON’T know, or have never considered:

While many families use traditional methods of teaching such as textbooks and workbooks, there is a system that is vastly superior and far more engaging, especially for struggling learners and those on the Spectrum.

And while homeschool electives these days seem to be unending as far as choices, gaming as a homeschool elective can function as several electives in one.

It truly combines many subjects of homeschool high school into one, making life far more enjoyable for your students, less stressful, more engaging, and thus increasing, in the long run, their academic proficiency which will better prepare them for their futures.

What is this system? It’s adding gaming as a homeschool elective.

Do you use gaming as a homeschool elective? It's a great way to cover multiple subjects while also tailoring learning to our child's interest. Check out these tips and ideas for using gaming as a homeschool elective. #homeschooling #electives #TrueNorthHomeschoolAcademy #GamingRPGs to Homeschool High School

Role Playing Games (RPGs) incorporated into learning and exercise.

Now chances are your child is already well-versed in RPGs. After all, it’s how most video games these days are played. My son, now 17, likes to Play Skyrum and Mountblade. He also loves Lord of the Rings and Narnia, just like I do.

The most well known and controversial RPG game is Dungeons & Dragons.

Dungeons and Dragons, despite the normal bad rep, is neither good nor evil; but is defined by the actions and the heart of the DM (Dungeon Master) who oversees the running of the story world. When in a D&D session, with a good morale DM you are likely to have a clean and fun game. If the DM is chaotic and ungrounded in their morals, the game will be dark and fall into inappropriate content.

My RPG Experience

Years ago as a teen, I was a Dungeon Master (DM) myself and spent countless hours writing fantasy novels, creating worlds, making timelines, and making up my own languages.

I also spent my childhood “playing Narnia” in the Mesa behind my backyard. These were idyllic hours of pretend play as we would battle foes as Narnians. You could not get me in before 9 o’clock on a summer evening!

An Intriguing Idea

So when my nephew, Nate, came to visit several years ago and suggested we use RPG for homeschooling I was intrigued. A DM himself and a participant in several RPG live action groups, he recognized the potential this had for learning.

I saw what it could do for my son and other kids like him who are on the Autism Spectrum. Kids who hid themselves in front of a computer and had very little motivation to do anything else.

Our Epic Quest

So began our epic quest in starting a LARPing (Live Action Role Playing) Club and Camp. We far exceeded expectations in enrollment and what’s even more important, we made an incredible impact.

We also incorporated a collaborative group storytelling hour that Nate calls “Advanced Narrative Roleplay (ANR). Many parents see D&D as problematic so we took that element out and through creating our own world with Christ-centered emphasis, we made the theme of our play defeating evil by a group of heroes. The ANR is by far the most favorite part of our club and camp!

Through our programs we saw:

  • Children and parents making friends, in many cases for the first time ever
  • The kids had freedom of creative expression, which helped their confidence
  • Some of them came hating to write and left having a passion for it. One is even writing a novel!
  • Children’s aggressive behavior was mitigated and those who were bullied learned to appropriately stand up for themselves
  • Children learned how to collaborate in teams
  • Students who felt helpless, near suicidal, depressed, hopeless, and far from God began seeking, asking for help, and committing their lives to Him!

As one of our students told me, our group was a lifeline to him!

So as the new school year approaches, we are adding another layer: ancient history. Each year we will add another historical time period.

The Possibilities are Endless!

But the possibility for using RPG in homeschool high school and in any grade level is limitless. Math, literature, writing, science…

And of course, with the LARPing, we had a PE component to it. The children make boffer swords and then duke it out in ditch battling sessions and play games like King of the Hill, Zombie Apocalypse, Capture the Flag. They run around OUTSIDE and interact with each other. It helps build teamwork, muscle coordination, eye-hand coordination…

But most of all, THEY LOVE IT!

My son? He is becoming a leader through all this. He spends less time playing video games and more time thinking about costumes or what different weapon he can make or shield he can construct. At this time, he’s attempting to make wooden swords and then sell them for a business.

What can LARPing and RPG learning do for your child? All this and more!

If you’re ready for an out of the box experience and an immersive learning tool, consider this creative approach to teaching homeschool high school today.

(Want more ideas on how to add gaming as a homeschool elective?  Check out our game design course!)

 

The Remarkable Gift of Grit

The Remarkable Gift of Grit

Grit

In New Mexico, it’s wryly referred to as “Enchantment” (think deserting pebbly dirt blowing around!) and can be defined in one of two ways: As small, loose particle of sand or stone, or as courage, resolve and strength of character. Grit is simply the combination of passion and perseverance. In this age of snowflakes and easy offense, it’s something to consider. Are our kids growing in grit? Are they becoming courageous, resolute and developing strength of character? The remarkable gift of grit will stand our kids in good stead as they face an increasingly secular world that tolerates very little in terms of strong convictions.

Angela Duckworth

In her excellent book, aptly titled, Grit, Angela Duckworth, takes on the task of developing the idea of grit in our children. She advocates for making Grit development a part of kid’s life skills curriculum. I couldn’t agree more. Our kids need grit. It’s what allows them to go out and compete, take risks, fail and try again. Grit is the strength of character needed to actually do hard things. We can want to do hard things. We can hope to do hard things. But without grit, those dreams and desires never make it to reality. In the same way we can want and hope for our kids to do hard things, but if we make it too easy on them, they won’t develop grit. If we protect them from failure, make excuses, buy their way, coddle and protect them, they won’t develop grit. Their determination to succeed and their grit development will be stunted.

Duckworth goes on to explain the necessary ingredients for developing grit:

  1. Practice– Practice is what lets us learn as we go. To practice and develop well we must get assessment and feedback.
  2. Purpose– Grit is not always about pursuing those things that we might have a natural inclination in, but rather pursuing something that we can develop an interest in over the long term.
  3. Hope- is as much about what you hope for as the ability to fail and keep trying, working and pursuing one’s goals despite set-backs.
  4. Time– time to practice, purpose, fail and succeed.

In the homeschooling world you hear a lot of verbiage about making school “Fun” and allowing your child to pursue their passions. While I love fun and have pursued a whole lot of passions of my own, I believe this is a skewed understanding of education. When we focus on “fun” we lose sight of the satisfaction that comes from really hard, difficult, at times painful work. We cheat our kids from the joy of knowing they’ve conquered, maybe having failed along the way. Fun is entertainment. Success is hard work, sweat, tears, pain, failure and then, accomplishment.

I’ve also learned that our passions develop as we take an interest in something and learn more about it. We often like what we are good at. We don’t usually get good at something until we work at it a bit. Some of my passions in life have developed as I’ve faced challenges, failures and set-backs. An interest in something does not equal a passion. A fanatical pursuit does. Often those pursuits require learning new skills, overcoming hardships and road-blocks, looking somewhat foolish, asking hard questions and displaying humility.

Teaching our kids that life isn’t always fun is a really valuable skill. Teaching our kids that passions often require sacrifice is also a very valuable skill.

Grit Goals True North Homeschool Academy

Grit Goals

Duckworth’s recommendations for bestowing the remarkable gift of Grit Goals to your children are requiring them to:

  1. Choose something that requires deliberate daily practice.
  2. Commit to doing this activity for 2 years.
  3. Finish what you’ve started for specified interval.

In our homeschool, we utilize grit goals. For the past two years, it’s been about tackling Latin. As a result, both of my kids have developed a true love for language learning and acquisition. Both have goals for tackling their next language and beyond. My daughter even picked up the little gem of a book, “How to Learn Any Language in 30 Days” at a thrift store recently.  The point is, our last grit goal developed their understanding of what they could do and given them the tools and skills to hope in what’s possible. They know they can learn a second language because they learned a first. Is learning Latin “fun?” Not at the beginning. It’s grunt work. It’s memorizing declensions, and vocab and grammar. But it’s fun to de-code and translate. That, however, doesn’t come until after some of the grunt work.

Our grit goasl for this coming year will change, as our family changes, and kids grow. Our oldest son is at Boot Camp, as I write this. A program, paid for by our tax dollars, that bestows on thousands of young people the remarkable gift of grit each year. We, as a society, should be grateful for the thousands of young men and women who are tough enough to endure this intensive grit training on our behalf each year!  Our second son is participating in a demanding memory work competition and our youngest, like I mentioned, is intent on studying languages even more in-depth.

Grit goals can be academic, physical, social, mental, spiritual. How do you determine which area to focus on? Start by considering what areas are your student the most vulnerable in? It might be time to think about some grit goals so that they can develop the courage needed to face whatever’s up ahead. Sometimes our biggest obstacles are where God wants to grow us the most. We often hear of world class athletes who overcome insurmountable physical odds to win beyond anyone’s wildest dreams.

I also think it’s helpful for our kids to see us as parents setting and accomplishing difficult goals and challenges. We’re never too old to learn, grow and overcome! If you set Grit Goals for your students (or self!) I’d love to hear about it!

Our Essential Academic Advising package is develop to help you develop appropriate goals for your Homeshool. Are you overwhelmed or afraid that you are failing your student? We have the tools, skills and experience to come alongside of you and bring you peace of mind so that you can bring your homeschooling vision to fruition. Check out our complete Catalog! 

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