Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Letter to My Daughter

Dear Hannah,

My precious daughter, there is no way you are turning 24 years old this month! I am in denial about your age. I look at your sweet baby face in photos and I swear, it was just yesterday! 

I have been looking through a lot of your photo albums lately, because that's what I like to do, no matter how old my babies get. I found one particular photo where you were absolutely squealing with joy. It warmed my heart. It's the one I posted it to Facebook, proud to show off that sweet smile that reminds so much of our precious Cooper.

And then, I as I kept flipping through pictures of your childhood, I saw your countenance change. I don't know the exact age you were in the pictures, but it was there. Subtle at first, and then more noticeable the older you became.

When I realized what was happening, I choked back tears as I grieved over how my choices hurt the innocents. Your being only five years old and having to deal with your happy, peaceful world being turned upside down by divorce was NOT fair. Your entire world was thrown into chaos and a new routine that you did not wish upon yourself--new faces, new houses, new smells, new situations that no child should have to deal with.

One day in particular, a few days after your dad had moved out to begin his new life, I was cooking supper in the kitchen. I remember it like it was yesterday. You and your eyes swollen from crying, came around the corner, dragging your overstuffed suitcase. You stopped in front of me and announced through sobs, "I'm going to live with Daddy!" I dropped to my knees, grabbed your tiny frame and hugged you hard to my chest and cried in grief with you, helpless to know what to do to fix it for you. Goodness, even thinking about it makes my cry all over again.

I have no idea if your dad and I could have made it through much longer than we did, but I know that I failed you. We sinned by getting that divorce, and the consequences of our actions have thrown this family onto a crazy ride of half sisters, stepbrothers, stepsisters, step moms, step dads, more divorces, and lots of upheaval.

I think back on that time and know I should have tried harder, insisted on marriage counseling, done SOMETHING, anything, to figure it out. Regardless of the circumstances, I wish we could have determined a way to make it through for the sake of you and your brother. Obviously, it was complicated, and it was just not possible, but I am so, so, so sorry for hurting you.

The guilt I feel is something I have had to give to God on a daily basis. I know He has forgiven me and has obviously blessed me with the love of my life now, but looking at your pictures made the ugly guilt monster rear its head and consume me.

I also know that God has used that tough time to help shape you into the person you are today---a strong, intelligent, stubborn, and beautiful person who won't take crap off anyone. I love that. I was an absolute doormat at your age, and that was part of the problem, I guess.

Hannah, I am sorry. Getting a divorce is not the way to handle marital problems. It is wrong and it is not a solution to trouble. I love you so much and I praying you will find it in your heart to forgive me for letting you down and for not modeling Jesus as I should have during that time. I have tried so hard to protect you and give you everything you desired, but I know now that the one thing you wanted the most---your family back together---was something I could never give you.

I am so thankful for God's mercy and grace. I don't deserve you or any of my children and grandchildren, but God has given me such a beautiful life. 

Thank YOU for leaning on the Lord and trusting Him and His power which can turn each and every circumstance--even your parents divorcing--into good for those who love Him.

I love you with all my heart!

~Mama

Sculpture Technique: Construct by ARTistic Pursuits (A Review)


http://www.artisticpursuits.com/

This is not my first experience with ARTistic Pursuits, having reviewed and enjoyed one of their elementary art books last spring (here), and I was very excited to learn they have two new books published now.  We were chosen to review Sculpture Technique: Construct, a new book about construction techniques for wire sculptures, papermaking, papier mache', and cardboard construction. 

art curriculum


Here's a peek at the table of contents for ARTistic Pursuits' Sculpture Technique: Construct book: 


art curriculum

And here's a sample page from Unit 1: Creating Form in Papermaking: 


art curriculum


The Sculpture Technique: Construct book retails for $47.95, and is recommended for ages 11 -18.  It is non-consumable, and can be used over and over.  It does require a few supplies, as shown near the bottom of the page found HERE.   Part of the fun of reviewing this one was getting a few new supplies that we normally would never consider when shopping for craft ideas.  

Creating Motion with Papier Mache'

My 5th grader is extremely artistic and loved that we were chosen for this review. The first technique she wanted to try was the papier mache' construction.  ARTistic Pursuits suggested that she first choose an animal to construct from various household materials, and then to consider a way to show action and motion in your animal.  She chose to construct a meerkat on its back feet, in the alert position. 

art curriculum


art curriculum

Once she constructed it, she followed instructions on how to layer newspaper which had been coated in our homemade concoction of flour paste (recipe included).  She carefully and methodically layered the meerkat with the papier mache', and she set it aside to dry really well for two days. 

art curriculum


Once dry, she had a great time experimenting with the paint colors to get them "Just right for a meerkat." I think she did pretty good! We have this on permanent display in our den now, and it makes me smile every time I look it!


art curriculum

art curriculum


Creating Volume with Wire Sculpting

Here is another new construction technique that ARTistic Pursuits so wonderfully illustrates.  We purchased 18-gauge and 16-gauge wire in two different colors with which to experiment.  For several of the larger curves of her sculptures, she was able to bend it with her hands and use her fingers to manipulate it as she desired. 

art curriculum


For the more intricate bends and twists, she used needle nose pliers.  Abbey has never used needle nose pliers before but she did really well with them and I could tell she enjoyed this process as well.  She created a gift for our pastor--the words say, "Jesus is our Savior" overlayed on an article about our pastor.  


art curriculum

She also created glasses for her dolls and a beautiful butterfly for my birthday gift: 

art curriculum



Creating Planes in Cardboard

 More than just cutting and pasting, this section of Sculpture Technique: Construct included techniques on how to make 3D architectural models, 2D abstracts on different planes, and a combination of the two. 

art curriculum

art curriculum
art curriculum

Although hard to see in this photo, she created 3D shapes coming up off her "planes" and used five different textures of paper.  The book suggested cutting techniques, so I could see her mimicking those techniques. 

art curriculum


Creating Form in PaperMaking 

Next to her papier mache' meerkat, this was most definitely my daughter's favorite activity in the Construct book. Using the papermaking grid was new for both of us, and I helped her with this dipping technique in order to help her hold all the papermaking frames together and to help keep the pulp on the screen.  

First step: pick out paper colors and "blend" them before putting them in the dipping pan.  She chose pink, yellow, and blue. 

art curriculum

art curriculum




Next step: dip the papermaking mold in the pan, spreading the pulp out evenly.  This is where she started getting excited.  She then laid the screen out on the towel as directed and began soaking up the excess water from her newly created paper.

art curriculum




art curriculum
 Then the big reveal of the paper she created! 


art curriculum
art curriculum


She giggled as she realized it looked like carpet padding (only a contractor's daughter would think that)! 

art curriculum

art curriculum



After drying overnight, she used her newly created paper to make a beautiful flower, using the petal templates found in the back of Sculpture Technique: Construct

art curriculum



art curriculum

 Some Great Extras

At the end of each unit, there is an evaluation page for the student to review the techniques they've just learned, and for the teacher to assess how well they've absorbed some of the methods taught. These are wonderfully deep questions, that encourage the student to think beyond the obvious.  Here's an example: 


art curriculum

In addition, ARTistic Pursuits has even included a Classroom Schedule, which serves as a lesson plan for your art class.  The units can be started in any order (i.e, Papermaking can be done before the Wire Sculpting), but this schedule gives you a great suggested guide for working within individual units. 



 A Mom's Opinion

I already had a strong feeling that I was going to enjoy watching Abbey with this new book, and I was not disappointed.  I love that ARTistic Pursuits encourages students to use their already-creative minds in more than just a static way.  These are wonderfully advanced techniques that are broken down in user-friendly steps for you and your students.  Each step is well laid out and illustratrations guide your student along the way, and this thick book provides plenty of real-life examples of modern art from which the students can draw inspiration. 

The only suggestion I would have for these older student workbooks like Sculpture Technique: Construct and and their other new offering, Sculpture Technique:Model, is to offer the kids a  password-protected section on the ARTistic Pursuits website that shows short videos of the introductory section of each technique, with tips on how to make the process go smoothly or tips on how to use the tools involved. 

All of the art programs offered from author Brenda Ellis and ARTistic Pursuits are well worth the money, and I highly recommend them for your classroom! 

If you're interested in learning more before you decide, I encourage you to visit the ARTistic Pursuits website HERE, or their Facebook page HERE.   Several of my friends over at the Schoolhouse Review Crew had the opportunity to review this book and different titles, so please take a moment to check out a few of their reviews by clicking the banner below!



http://schoolhousereviewcrew.com/artistic-pursuits-review-2/



©2014-2016 Coffee, Cobwebs, and Curriculum. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. www.coffeecobwebsandcurriculum.blogspot.com Follow me on Facebook or Twitter! Links can be found in the right sidebar on this blog!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

CTC Math (A Review)

online math tutor


Another math program that promises to be different? Hmmmm. . . .I was skeptical, but boy, was I wrong! As we reviewed CTC Math, we were so pleasantly surprised at how well it worked! 

We were chosen to review their 12 Month Family Plan.  There are several pricing options for homeschoolers (at 60% off regular prices) and all of them may be found HERE.  Please note: The prices are valid and the time of this review, and are subject to change.


https://ctcmath.com/purchase/homeschool/



CTC Math is a unique, online-based subscription math service, and is geared for students of all ages, K-12 (and beyond, if needed by your student).  It is a narrated, tutor-style program, with short videos (3 - 9 minutes each) to introduce each concept.  The interactive videos can be paused and repeated as often as needed for the student to grasp the concept before moving on to the questions/quizzes.  There are almost 1,400 videos/lessons on the site, and your 12 Month Family Plan subscription allows you access to all of them!


online math tutor


My daughter is in 5th grade, so we started with the 5th grade level, did several of the concepts and topics, and soon happily discovered that she was able to move to the 6th grade level with no problem.  There was not an overall placement test with the program, so she worked through each section, determining which ones she could skip and which ones needed more attention.

online math tutor

While my youngest child doesn't love math, she does love the way these lessons are taught. She LOVES being able to see the problems being worked out (especially by someone besides her mom), and said this was her favorite part about the program.  She was even able to access it from her iPad, so she had even more control over when and where she did her lessons.   

She enjoys the narrator's Australian accent, and enjoys the simple format in which they are presented.  Here are some sample screenshots from various grade levels within the program:


online math tutor


online math tutor


online math tutor


online math tutor


Once the student has watched the tutorial on the concept, they can then move to the questions on those same concepts.   As the student works through each section, they are working towards a goal of completing the section at either a Platinum, Gold, Silver, or Bronze Level.  Platinum Level means that they have a perfect score on each section.  Gold Level is still good, but it means the student has missed at least one problem in each section.  Here's a peek at Abbey's progress in the SPEED and FRACTIONS concepts sections:


online math tutor


online math tutor

And here's a shot of my proud 5th grader with several (but not all) of the certificates she has earned from several days worth of work: 

online math tutor


CTC Math has given my child the freedom to feel like she is in control of her own pace of learning. If she tells me that she thinks she already knows the concepts in a specific section of the program, I will have her take the diagnostic test available for each section.  Her score on that determines whether we move forward to another section or whether we stay on this section and work through the tutorials and quizzes.  

These diagnostic tests and tools really help us as parents as well.  We are all busy, and have a lot of subjects to cover each day.  Moving towards the end goal of mastery is made all the more easy by these tools.  I know we can all appreciate that! 

There is also a parents-only section that allows you to see the progress your child is making, so even if you're not sitting with your child through the sessions, you can see which areas are their strengths and which ones need more work.  You will also receive a Weekly Progress Report email each week, and each time your child finishes a section in which they earned a reward certificate, another email is sent to you as well.  I really appreciated this about the program.  As Abbey moves into the older grades and I spend less and less time by her side as she works, I know this tool will be one of my favorites.  


online math tutor


If your elementary student really wants to improve their grade within a certain level, they are allowed to retake each section.  The CTC Math program will drop their lowest grade and re-average their three-attempt grade.  When Abbey scored lower than a 91%, she retook the sections until her scores improved.  I loved that this was an option, and that we were able to see a summary of the questions she had just completed, but one thing I would have loved to have seen is a screen that showed exactly why she missed certain problems. In addition, it would be helpful if, upon each log-in, the program took the student back to where they left off in the last session.

Another great feature is the Speed Skills section.  For any child struggling with basic math functions, this is a great drill section for them.   My daughter really struggles with the basic times tables.  While she is getting stronger, she is not as strong as she needs to be, and this slows her down considerably when working through problems.  I had her work on the Speed Skills section for 3 minutes each day, and have seen dramatic improvement.  

online math tutor


CTC Math has a wonderful demo for you to get a better idea of what to expect.  You can access that HERE.   Thousands of students have been helped with this wonderful program, and many of the testimonies can be found on their Facebook page, found HERE.

To sum up, CTC Math is a wonderful online program, and is currently on sale for homeschoolers (at the time of this review) for $78.80 for a year for a single student, or $118.80 for a 12 month family plan.  I highly recommend this program, whether you homeschool or not! 





There are more reviews to read if you want to see what other levels looked like, and to help you decide about this program.  Clicking the banner below will take you to the Schoolhouse Crew Review site and to the CTC Math Reviews! Enjoy! 

http://schoolhousereviewcrew.com/ctc-math-review/





©2014-2016 Coffee, Cobwebs, and Curriculum. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. www.coffeecobwebsandcurriculum.blogspot.com Follow me on Facebook or Twitter! Links can be found in the right sidebar on this blog!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Random Five on Friday~~Good Friday 2014 Edition

  
Five random thoughts on Easter. . .

1.  I am learning that sacrificial love doesn't have to be for only family members. 

2.  I am amazed and surprised and asking God this question a lot lately: "Seriously?" 

3.  I am learning that obedience brings joy indescribable. 

4.  I am learning that being alive and living are two different things. 

5.  I am so, so grateful for my Savior's love, and His model of true love.  

May you know the peace that passes all understand on this Easter weekend! 
 ~*~

http://www.thepebblepond.com/2014/04/random-5-on-friday-april-18th.html



 
©2014-2016 Coffee, Cobwebs, and Curriculum. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. www.coffeecobwebsandcurriculum.blogspot.com Follow me on Facebook or Twitter! Links can be found in the right sidebar on this blog!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Beauty Captured~~4/14/14






http://www.thepebblepond.com/


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