Sunday, July 28, 2013

(Review) Global Art from Gryphon House

Around this homeschool, reviewing art-related items is always a big hit, and Gryphon House Books-- Global Art: Activities, Projects, and Inventions From Around the World book is no exception.  It has been very fun to explore and review this global geography-based art book by authors Jean Potter and Mary Ann F. Kohl. The soft-cover, illustrated guide goes beyond just art projects. This great resource has won numerous awards, including Parent's Guide to National Media, Benjamin Franklin Award, and National Parent Publications Award, and I can see why.

Over 130 art projects in this awesome book are divided into the country of origin and the continents, which allows each lesson to extend beyond the art technique found on the page.  Why is this important? As children grow and learn more about their global community, it is important for them to relate to these countries in tangible ways, not just by placing a push pin on a wall map.  “Through art, children discover how geography, history and time link all people together, how we are different, how we are alike, and how we are all connect to the cultural heritage of the past.” (Potter, 1998)

How we used it

Each week, I actually allowed Abbey, my rising 5th grader, to pick out a country from the table of contents of Global Art that she would like to learn more about.  Her first choice was Vietnam and the Tet Trung Thu Lantern.  We found Vietnam on the map, read the “Did you know?” section on the page, and read through all the instructions to our first project before beginning.

What a fun process this was! Truly part of the fun and learning of art is not just the final project, but the actual process and techniques used to get to that end goal.  It allowed Abbey to use her imagination as she decided which shapes to put on the side of her Tet Trung Thu lantern.  For the “candle” inside the lantern, we used a glow stick from the dollar store.

The second project was Stone Inlay from India. Using self-hardening clay that we had on hand in our craft drawers, Abbey and her best friend Claire were able to create some beautiful creations with clay and water and decorative stones we found.  

Are you having fun yet? We are! A third and equally fun project Abbey chose to complete were Thaumatropes from England—these are those fun cartoon-type drawings similar to a flip book. 

Okay, just one more to share (although we did several others so far): a Weaving Sculpture from Ecuador. This one I will admit, was a whole of lot gooey, ooey, messy fun to do, but the end result was not exactly what we had hoped. We still enjoyed learning about this craft, as the child we sponsor through World Vision is from Ecuador and Abbey was excited to think she might be creating something that Mirian (our sponsored child) may also enjoy doing. 

Want your own copy of Global Art? It will be one of those resources you keep close at hand for art and geography supplementing for years to come! Here are the details:

Global Art: Activities, Projects, and Inventions From Around the World from Gryphon House Books can be ordered for $16.95 here

It is recommended for ages K5 - Grade 5, but both slightly younger and slightly older children will enjoy the processes and art creations found within this gem. 

Want to read more reviews before deciding? 
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©2012-2013 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.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Random 5 on Friday-- July 19th, 2013

~Five things for which I am very thankful!~ 

1.  Air conditioning on humid days.

2.  Smiling faces on hard days. 

3.   Heating pads on hurting days.

4.  Calm water on beautiful days. 

5.  Payday Fridays on bills-are-due days. (Woo-hoo!) 


It's a link up! Click the button to see what I mean! 

©2012-2013 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.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Scripture and a Snapshot--7/14/2013

    "Look at the birds. They don’t plant, harvest, or save food in barns, but your heavenly Father feeds them. Don’t you know you are worth much more than they are? You cannot add any time to your life by worrying about it. ..."
    Matthew 6:24-34

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©2012-2013 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.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

My Youngest is Not a Baby Anymore

My youngest daughter will be 10 years old tomorrow! I am here to admit that I am feeling very, very down about that. I grieve the passing of time; even though I have tried to soak up every moment, every funny, cute and perfect scene, I can't remember them all.  And that makes me sad. 

I want a full-length movie to watch, over and over again, showing the memories that I hold so dear. I want to freeze time; I want to squeeze those fat cheeks and look in those precious, big brown eyes and just "be" there again.  

Abbey Grace has been such a joy to raise.  We are older parents, and we thought for sure we would be blessed with a lap baby; an I-want-to-be-held-and-cuddled-at-all-times baby, but God apparently thought that would be way too easy.  "If she's awake, she's moving," is our motto for her since the day she was born.  We blame it on the Brethine I had to take while on bed rest with her.  Brethine is a medicine I received that is supposed to prevent contractions, and it did accomplish that for a few weeks, but oh my goodness, it made her jump like a kangaroo inside of me! So we laughingly say her activity level is a result of those weeks of a foreign substance in her bloodstream, but truly, we know why she is the way she is--  God, the maker of heaven and earth, also made our precious Abbey to be active, alert, inquisitive, athletic and happy.  And for that, we are so grateful.  

Today, at 10 years old, she still likes her parents. :) She still wants to be near us, go places with us, sleep with us (if we let her), and is very uncomfortable being away from home for more than a few hours.  I love that she acts her age--that she has not had to grow up before her time, nor be something she shouldn't have to be at such a young age.

 I often compare her to myself at that same age, and we are different in so many ways. Thankfully, Abbey has not had the same drama and traumas of childhood that I had to face by my tenth birthday.  While those experiences helped shape who I am today, I am still very appreciative that she has had a boring, protected, and normal childhood. Life will get hard soon enough for her. 

To say she loves the animal kingdom and her precious pets would be the understatement of the year. From her first baby animals board book and Baby Einstein videos as a toddler, she has been telling anyone who would listen about tapirs, meerkats and lemurs.  She would rescue every single dog and cat from the animal shelter if we would allow it.  She finds beauty in buzzards circling overhead; she stops what she's doing to tell me random facts about the animal kingdom: "Hey, Mama? Did you know a sperm whale can swim 3 mph?!"  

To watch her learn about the outdoors with her daddy has been another of my greatest joys with her.  She has been on the river with us since she was literally six weeks old, and is very comfortable there. She is now an accomplished bass master, and gets excited when we even drive by some water with a patch of lily pads: "I need to be throwing my lure out there and skipping it across them!"  And yes, she can identify species and genders of fish better than some grown men! 

Abbey loves the Lord and believes in Jesus Christ and His saving power. It is not uncommon to see her with her Bible outside, telling stories to the neighborhood kids while they shoot basketball or are playing catch all around her. One time I saw her with strips of paper and pen and she was writing fast and furiously on them. I asked what she was doing: "I'm making a Bible quiz for the boys to answer!"  (The "boys" are the neighborhood kids.)   

She asks me deep questions like, "Do you think Cain ever asked for forgiveness? Do you think he got to go to heaven? What are the dimensions of heaven? If God created everybody, why are there bad people in the world?"  [Yes, I have my pastor on speed dial.]

Although she is an energetic child, she was born almost five weeks early, and her lungs have never quite recovered--she has been severely asthmatic since birth.  Eight hospital visits related to breathing problems are enough for any little baby.  She can still show you the scars on her hands from so many IVs.  

Last year our toughest moment with her was watching her recover from a ruptured appendix.  Eight days in the hospital due to complications were enough to make us all stay on our knees before the One who could heal her.  Praise the Lord, He did, and we are so thankful. 

And one last thing I want you to know about Abbey: she saved our marriage. Well, God saved our marriage, but Abbey was certainly the catalyst that brought unity at a time we so desperately needed it. Because we brought so much unresolved baggage into our marriage, we began spiraling downward from the moment we said, "I do," so this (very planned) pregnancy was a reason to try harder; to pray harder; to love harder.  She changed our lives forever, in a very good way.  

The sobbing faces you see in the birth day pictures are the overwhelming emotion we felt about the IMPACT this little soul was making, not only at that moment, but also on the big picture of our lives.  

We do not go a day without thanking God for her and all our children and how they have made our lives worth living.  

Happy 10th Birthday, our beautiful Abbey Grace! 

"Let your work be shown to your servants, and your glorious power to their children." Psalm 90:16

©2012-2013 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.

Friday, July 12, 2013

(Review) Dig-It! Games

Dig-It! Games has developed a wonderful new game about the Mayan culture called Mayan Mysteries. We were chosen to play and review the online version of the game, but it is also available on the Ipad as an app.

Here is a quick introduction to the game from the Dig-It Games website: Mayan Mysteries blends action and mystery with history and learning, presenting players with unique adventure through the fascinating world of the ancient Maya.  Visit excavation sites, decode glyphs, explore the mysterious Maya calendar, and more in this exciting educational journey. 

This puzzle-based game has more than just puzzles--it has tons of opportunities for you and your child to learn history, geography, social studies, archaeology, critical thinking and reading comprehension.  I loved the many layers of the game. The graphics are beautiful and engaging. 

Once the players choose a Central American country to visit from the opening map, they are taken to a screen like the one below.  Each exclamation point above the research teams' heads mean they have some vital information and clues.  Clicking on them will bring up their information, chock full of facts and links to explore.  Here is very important bonus:  each screen with lots of information has a "read to me" option, which really helped my daughter to absorb it and move through the game more quickly.  

Throughout the game, the players have a chance to play games that reinforce what they have just learned.  Below is an example of one of the games Abbey enjoyed playing the most.  This is the critical thinking part of the game, and as a mom, I loved that.  Warning: as you can see below, some of the content about religious sacrifices is a bit harsh, but it was very real part of the Mayan culture, and Abbey (age 9) was not upset by it. Some younger children may be, however, so I recommend playing alongside your younger children if this is a concern for you or for them. To be clear, there are no violent images or content. 

After each section, the students are asked to do a "Challenge" in order to gain clues and artifacts. Although Abbey played this daily, we have yet to reach the end of the game.  She still has many levels yet to go. I actually love that fact; the many layers of the game are part of what make this such a great value.  The "challenges" are review questions, forcing the players to actually absorb some of the information and then recall it in order to move to the next level.  I think it is a very clever way to add in reading comprehension!  Your student is learning without realizing it! 

Here is a screen shot that shows how many points Abbey gained from one of her challenges and puzzles.  The main screen also lets the player know which levels and artifacts they have collected and which ones they still need to obtain.  

 Side note: I would love to see a screen or section added to the game to see which questions in the challenges the students missed, so we could review those particular facts again, but this did not distract from the overall learning value of the game. 

The Final Word

Mayan Adventures from Dig-It! Games is recommended for ages 11 to 18, but as you can tell from my review, younger children can play this game with help from a parent or older sibling. 

A single user license is $21.99 for PC or Mac and an Ipad app is $9.99 per download. I consider this to be a fair price for the amount of learning opportunities that are built into this unique game. 

Bottom line: I most definitely will recommend this high-quality game to my friends, and I encourage you to learn more at the Dig-It! Games website:

Guess what? Other Crew Mates of mine also reviewed both the online and Ipad app versions, so please click the banner to see what they thought of the game! 

©2012-2013 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.



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