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Art Lessons With ArtAchieve // A TOS Crew Review

My 7th grade son tends to shy away from art. He lacks confidence in his ability to be creative, so frustration sets in and he often gives up. But over the last several weeks, he has been working through the lessons in the Entire Level 1 bundle of our new homeschool art curriculum from ArtAchieve.

Art Lessons for Children ArtAchieve Review

About ArtAchieve

ArtAchieve is an online based art curriculum for children of all ages. Even adults will enjoy it! They believe that anyone can learn to draw, and that drawing is an essential skill. They offer a proven approach to drawing that insures success (meaning your drawings will look like what it is you are attempting to draw). There are currently five levels available. It is recommended that if you have no art experience that you start with Level 1, no matter what your age is. Each lesson in all five levels has a description which can better help you choose the right lessons for you and your family.

How We Used This Product

For the purposes of this review, we received on line access to the Entire Level 1 bundle. A One Year license costs $27.00.  Contained in this bundle are the following art lessons:

  • Simple Lines (also a FREE lesson you can try online)
  • Shading Objects that Have Corners (also a FREE lesson you can try online)
  • Shading Rounded Objects (also a FREE lesson you can try online)
  • The Czech Cat
  • The Hungarian Insects
  • The Haitian Gecko
  • The Dragonfly from Ecuador
  • The Chinese Dragon
  • The Owl From Bali
  • The Kitenge Tree Wall Hanging From Tanzania
  • The Plate From Nepal
  • Four Suns With Four Faces
  • The Sheep From Wales

My son did one drawing lesson each week during the review period.  Each lesson contains a warm up, power point slide, video lesson and a copy of the final drawing that can be printed and referred to throughout the lesson.

Each evening I would print up the lesson warm up and final drawing for my son, as well as gather up the materials that would be necessary for the next day’s lesson. There is a list of supplies included for each level on the web site. They are not expensive supplies, and include such things as a fine tip black Magic Marker, colored markers, paint pens, glitter paint and more.

My son would then view the video lessons and proceed to do the drawings. (He opted not to use the power point slides for reference but much preferred the video lessons.) He liked the gentle and calming voice of the narrator and enjoyed the step-by-step instructions. The lessons are not just about art and how to draw, but each one is a small lesson on cultures from around the world.

Each lesson also includes:

  • Goals for each lesson
  • Drawing rules (of which there really are no rules)
  • Visualization
  • Suggestions for music
  • Suggestions for decorating the final drawing
  • Reflection Questions

My son was not too keen on doing his art to music. He had a hard time concentrating, even with just instrumental music, so I allowed him to skip that part. We will try reintroducing music to art at a later time.

Overall, my son was pleased with his efforts. I tried to get him to think outside the box creatively when it came to the coloring but he ended up coloring pretty basic. Baby steps.  Here are some of the drawings my son did in this program.

Our Final Thoughts

We love ArtAchieve. It has really helped my son to gain confidence in his ability to be able to draw. One of the things we love most about this program is the step-by-step instruction in drawing. You are not left to just draw, but you are guided through each step and encouraged to use your own creativity.

If you are looking for an art program for your child, consider ArtAchieve. I know you will enjoy it just as much as we have.

Find out more about ArtAchieve by visiting:
Twitter:  @artachieve

Check out the other Crew reviews for more thoughts on this amazing art program.

Art Lessons for Children ArtAchieve Review


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0 In Homeschool Product Reviews/ Homeschooling

Learning Latin With Laurelwood Books // A TOS Crew Review

Having read homeschooling blogs for the last two to three years, I’ve noticed that many homeschoolers incorporate the study of Latin into their curriculum. The thought never crossed my mind to introduce my son to Latin. However, when the opportunity came for a chance to review Olim, Once Upon a Time in Latin: Derivatives I by Laurelwood Books, I thought it would be a great opportunity to see what Latin was all about.

Latin and Penmanship {Laurelwood Books Review}

About The Product

Olim, Once Upon a Time in Latin: Derivatives I is a soft cover work book of 143 pages. It contains 150 Latin words, numerous exercises, such as fill in the blanks, matching, puzzles and more to provide repetitive practice in learning the Latin vocabulary. The vocabulary in the book has been taken from the Olim, Once Upon a Time in Latin series. There is a pronunciation guide in the front of the book, which was most helpful, as well as complete list of all of the vocabulary words introduced in the back of the book, as well as an answer key.

How We Used This Product

Although this book is written for students in the fifth or sixth grades, it was a perfect first introduction to Latin for my 7th grade son. He worked on the exercises in the book four days a week, by using the recommended two-week schedule provided. We pretty much followed the schedule, which went as follows:

Week 1
Day 1 – Trace Latin & English Words, noting Derivatives
Day 2 – Fill in the Blank
Day 3 – Matching
Day 4 – Story with Blanks

Week 2
Day 5 – Multiple Choice
Day 6 – Write Your Own Story
Day 7 – Crossword or Word Search
Extras – Write Derivatives (every 5 lessons)

I cannot say that my son was thrilled to be studying Latin. He did say that it was interesting but wondered why Latin was important to learn. This was an opportunity for me to share about how much of the English Language is derived from Latin words. What my son loved the most about the workbook was that the exercises were easy and helped him to learn new words. He didn’t feel, however, that there was enough room provided for the tracing exercises. As long as he was using a very sharp pencil he did okay.

A couple of times a week we did vocabulary drills, where I would pick from the vocabulary list in the book and ask my son to tell me it’s definition. He has learned quite a few of the words but still could use some practice.

Our Final Thoughts

I feel that Olim, Once Upon a Time in Latin: Derivatives I by Laurelwood Books is a great first introduction to the study of Latin. The book is simple and easy to understand and the repetitive exercises help the student (as well as the parent) to learn Latin quickly and easily.


Latin and Penmanship {Laurelwood Books Review}

For more information about Laurelwood Books, visit them on Facebook.

Be sure to visit the reviews of other Crew members to see what they thought of Laurelwood Books and the great resources they provide to homeschooling parents.

Latin and Penmanship {Laurelwood Books Review}

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0 In Homeschooling

Summer Schooling // Outside The Box Homeschooling


Summer is in full swing over here. My kids are enjoying the outside, sports and spending time with friends.

Because we are both working parents, Summers look different for us. While other families are taking long vacations and frequent day trips with their children, our week’s are “business as usual” during the day. We look forward to the weekend, as well as the occasional long weekend, to do engage in family activities.

While we are at work, our kids hang out with family and friends, play sports, swim and engage in youth activities and day trips through our church.

It was important to me that we continue to focus on school to some extent during the summer. While I am taking a very relaxed approach to learning (2-3 days instead of 5), we are focusing on reading and math with our son, as well as review material that we’ve committed to for The Crew through the summer.

My son just started reading The Hobbit. While I had a unit study all ready to go, I’ve decided to back off a bit and just allow my son to read for fun. I do intend to ask him questions about the reading. After he finishes the book, we will watch The Hobbit movie together.

Upcoming Curriculum Reviews

We are just finishing up working through Latin Derivatives with Laurelwood Books and doing art with ArtAchieve. I look forward to sharing our thoughts on these later this week and next week.

I knew that I wanted to continue working on math this summer. We are currently working through CTC Math (Review coming the first week of August). I have decided to start with Basic Math and Pre-Algebra concepts and go from there. So far, he’s doing well.

We have also just started learning Spanish with Foreign Language for Kids by Kids. (Review coming mid-August). My son has been wanting to study a Foreign Language and I haven’t been able to find anything to hold his interest. We have only just began and I look forward to sharing our thoughts on this curriculum with you.

My son is also enjoying working through an interactive book — which is actually so much more than a book, called Orphs of the Woodlands by Star Toaster, LLC.  We look forward to sharing more about this later this month.

Thankfully, my son has plenty of educational material to focus on at least 2-3 days during the summer months, as well as enjoying lots of free time and long weekends.

Are you schooling during the summer? If so, what does it look like in your homeschool?









1 In Homeschool Product Reviews/ Homeschooling

Learning The Bible Can Be Fun With Veritas Press Self-Paced Bible Curriculum // A TOS Crew Review

Up until about six weeks ago, I had yet to incorporate much structured Bible reading into our homeschooling. The reason for this is that I would leave my son with a reading plan, come home from work and ask him questions about what he read, and he wasn’t always good at giving me acceptable answers. And to ask him to write what he read was like pulling teeth. But alas, there is help! My son is really enjoying the Self-Paced Bible, Old Testament 1: Genesis to Joshua, Bible curriculum from Veritas Press.


Old and New Testament Online Self-Paced Bible Veritas Review

About Veritas Press

Veritas Press offers classical, Christian education designed for children in grades 2-6, although older students have benefited as well. Some of the benefits of their programs are:

  • Award-Winning, Proven Curriculum
  • Flexible Approaches To Fit Your Needs
  • Innovative Online Options
  • Fun and Engaging Approach That Kids Love
  • An Unapologetic, Christ-Centered Focus

About Veritas Press Self-Paced Bible

For the purpose of this review, we received a twelve-month subscription to Veritas Press Self-Paced Bible, Old Testament 1: Genesis to Joshua. What I love about our subscription is that we are on a break now for the summer, but will resume again in about 6 weeks and will get to pick up right where we left off!

This course is hosted by Abigail and her brother Asher, along with Teb, the cat, and Tizzy, the pesky gnat, and will keep students engaged in learning the Bible in a fun way all year long.

Each of the five Self-Paced Bible courses has 128 class periods which cover 32 Biblical events.  The teaching is interactive and engaging, with clever games and talking characters.  Each course includes:

  • Memorization of names, dates, and places that show how God worked in biblical times
  • Multi-sensory, fun and exciting learning through interactions and games
  • A foundation for more in-depth study in later years
  • A thorough understanding of the Bible

How We Used This Product

Both my son and I each received a login. This program is completely self paced. My son was able to log in on his own about three days a week and move through the course. His login page lets him know exactly how he is doing, where he left off, what is coming next, as well as his current grade.


Each lesson has 3 videos followed by a final test, comprised of a series of questions the student answers on line pertaining to the lessons. Each lesson took my son about 15 minutes to complete and is structured perfectly for a 3-4 day school week.

My son absolutely loves this program! It was music to my mother’s ear when he came to me and said, “Mom, after you finish reviewing this product, can I continue on and finish it?” Oh yes, son, yes you may! He is so excited to resume school again and continue learning the Bible!

The Parent dashboard allows me to login in and see essentially the same information my son can — what has been completed, what is coming up, and his current grade.

Here are some screen shots from a lesson entitled “God’s Covenant With Abraham” so you can get a feel for what you might expect:

Our Final Thoughts

We are overjoyed that we have found a Bible curriculum that will work for my son for at least the next year. When he hits high school, we may need to move on, but I wouldn’t put it past him to ask to use Veritas Press again. When I asked him again tonight while writing this review what he most loved about it, I expected to hear things like the characters were fun, the videos are short, the games are fun. But instead, I was surprised at his response, “What I most love about this program are the things I am learning about the Bible”, and then he proceeded to share some of what he learned. Needless to say, I am a very pleased parent.

If you are looking for a fun and engaging Bible program that will keep your children interested in learning the Bible and keep them from complaining about boredom, check out what Veritas Press has to offer.

For more about Veritas Press, visit them here:

Twitter:  @VeritasPress

Be sure to check out more reviews from The Crew by clicking the banner below.

Old and New Testament Online Self-Paced Bible Veritas Review

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0 In Homeschool Product Reviews/ Homeschooling

Homeschool Lesson Planning & Record Keeping With // A TOS Crew Review

This is our first year homeschooling, and one of the things I get easily overwhelmed with is lesson planning and record keeping. If I could just fly by the seat of my pants I would. But, as a full-time working, homeschooling mama, I must try to make things as easy as possible. Planning ahead is key for me. We’ve been using the good ‘old pen and paper method in our homeschool, but I am finding out just how easy Lesson plans are to make with My School Year (Homeschool Record Keeping) from Review

About is an online lesson planning and record keeping resource with tons of useful features to make your homeschooling more organized, more efficient, and more focused. Some of the great features include:

  • Automated Grading
  • Automated Attendance Tracking
  • Teacher’s Aid
  • Lesson Plan Generators
  • Lesson Rescheduler
  • Activities Tracking
  • Reports
  • Class Grade Review
  • Lesson Plan Sharing

It also includes a Toll-Free support line, free email support, and more! is available in a budget-friendly monthly subscription of $5/month, or an annual fee of just $40.

How I Used This Product

In California, we are not required to keep detailed records. Attendance is mandatory, and a Course of Study is recommended. Other than that, I can be virtually record free. However, I know that if I keep good records now, it will really help me to stay organized through the high school years, which will be here all too soon.

I wanted to focus on what we will be working on this summer, as well as generating a reading list for my son. So I put in the classes which we are going to be continuing through the summer. I still have classes and books to add, but you get the general idea.




Here is a Course of Study that I created for the courses my son completed mostly during the first part of the year, and those where he received a full year’s credit:

course studyThere are so many other features included that I didn’t use, such as listing awards received, keeping track of extra curricular activities, report cards and transcripts.

My Final Thoughts

Overall, this is a great program for keeping track of records and lessons on line. I am such a creature of habit and really love writing everything down in a paper planner. Mostly because our homeschool needs to be flexible and I don’t want to be locked into something that is recorded on a plan for the entire year. I like planning it out for the year, but I give my son a month’s worth of work at a time in his planner and we are always changing curriculum. The jury is still out for me as to whether I switch to online record keeping in the fall.

If you are looking for an online resource for lesson planning and record keeping for your homeschool, is easy to use and has everything you would need to have a stress free school year!

Be sure to check out reviews from other Crew Members to see how they used this wonderful product.

Homeschool Record Keeping { Review}

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