Monday, May 22, 2017

Thin Stix (A Homeschool Crew Review)

Ashleigh loves to draw and paint.  However, Ashleigh does not like to clean up.  What tends to happen is that Ashleigh will paint a really nice picture, but she'll leave her cup of water for cleaning brushes on the table and the cat knocks it over, or paint gets spilled and dries before Mom notices it. I love her artistic side but my furniture pays for it. 

Last year, we had the pleasure of reviewing Kwik Stix from The Pencil Grip, Inc.  If you with with this blog for that
review last summer, you'll know that these convenient paint sticks were a real hit in out household.  They were even one of my top recommendations for Christmas Gifts for younger children.  But for the last few weeks, Ashleigh's been using the new Thin Stix 6Pk of Classic Colors, the latest addition to the Kwik Stix line of products, to make her artwork. 

What are Thin Stix?

Thin Stix are paint sticks made with  the same solid tempera paint  found in the Kwik Stix, only the Thin Stix are thin and taller and they provide a smaller top for smoother control on projects. Currently available in classic colors (red, blue, black, brown, green and yellow), Thin Stix require no water or paint brushes to use. Using the same design as Kwik Stix, kids simply draw or color with them much as they would with a marker.  The paint itself is creamy and the paint glides on smoothly and then dry to the touch in about 90 seconds.  The stick themselves work similar to a glue stick-  as more paint is needed the student simply twists the bottom to expose more of the paint stick.  The paint itself is a semi-solid, also similar to a glue stick and provide full coverage to the project they are being used on.   And the best part is that there is little to no mess at all.  What little cleanup that may be needed is easy with simple soap and water.

What We Think of Thin Stix:

Ashleigh has been a huge fan of the Kwik Stix paint sticks for some time now, using them almost constantly for various projects and she has a pretty good assortment of colors.  She was pretty happy to get to try the thinner sticks, as she found them to be easier to hold like a pencil vs handling it like a glue stick. 

This is supportively a picture of me

We have noticed that Thin Stix doesn't work so well on Plaster of Paris.  Ashleigh tried to use the Thin Stix to paint a lion and Tiger that she had, but had trouble getting the paint to adhere properly to the surface, although I do think this was due more to the surface of the thing she was panting rather than the Thin Stix themselves.  We did end up using a paint brush with the Thin Stix, to pull some of the paint from the Stick and then transfer it to the plaster before it dried.   It worked fairly well and she was able to get paint onto the lion but it was a process.  However, even after, the brown of the mane began to flake away once dried so she gave up and moved to coloring with my dry eraser markers.  (Mom was NOT happy about that.. lol)

Lion painted with Thin Stix .   Tiger done with  Expo Markers (grrrrr!!) 

With the exception of the plaster of paris, Thin Stix have performed beautifully on every surface Ashleigh has thrown at them.  This includes aluminum soda cans (She felt like decorating my Peace Tea can), her Littlest Pet Shop toys (she felt they needed some extra color), rubber rats (they were plain grey so she wanted them colorful), paper, stone, and wood.  The colors are bright and bold and look vibrant against practically any field of color they are put on.  Because of the superb coverage, they are really great on black paper where often times paints tend to let too much black show through. 

One thing that I would like to address in regards to the paint used in both the Thin Stix and Kwik Stix paint sticks.

 I am SUPER impressed withe the longevity of the paint blend.   It has been roughly one year since we originally reviewed Kwik Stix (which again, is the same paint found in Thin Stix). During that review, my daughter painted a series of rocks resembling a turtle, a lady bug and what I believe to be a cat.  

Unfortunately, once these projects were completed, she moved on to other things and these projects were completely forgotten until I started working on this review one year later and I thought about the rocks.  I was curious how the paint on the rocks had held up over the course of the year, facing the harsh elements of the hot Mojave Desert sun. Would the paint have faded, would it have been washed away by the rain or the sprinkler systems? 

 I went out and sure enough, they were still where Ashleigh had left them. 

<---  This is how I found the rocks, covered up for the most part by rotting leaves from the blower that our lawn maintenance guys use.  

The painted rocks have sat in the flower bed in front of the house since they were painted in April or May of last year.  During that year, we have had 70MPH winds, nearly 120*F temperatures, and had a very unusual month of January where it rained almost non stop and we had some pretty crazy bouts of hail as well.  These rocks also sit at the base of a bush where we have these small desert mice live, as well as lizards, squirrels and birds that forage though our flower bed on a daily basis.  So I expected some deterioration to the paint from exposure to the elements. 

Here's what they looked like when Ashleigh placed them in the flower bed.

And here's one year later, after being brought inside the house and just rinsed off with a bit of water in the sink..

I gotta say, I'm pretty impressed that the paint hasn't seemed to fade much at all.. The Ladybug has a bit of chipping to it, but the larger turtle looks almost exactly the same.

These paint sticks will continue to be a family favorite in our household.

#hsreviews  #MessFreeCreativity  #ThinStix

For more information about The Pencil Grip, Inc. or Thin Stix paint sticks, be sure to visit their website or one of their social media sites at :

No Mess Art with Thin Stix Classic Colors {The Pencil Grip, Inc. Reviews}

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Night at the Museum

Tonight was a bit of a bittersweet moment, as today was Night at the Museum for Alyssa.  It will be the final time she participates, since she is graduating in twelve days.   (Warning: This post will have tons of pictures!!!  If you're on a phone, you might want to wait til you're at a computer.)

For those of you new to my blog, the Night at the Museum is an event put on by the Junior High and High School students at the school on base.  Started 4 years ago, instead of taking a written final exam in their history classes, the students instead put on a live event where they re-enact events from history.  Parents and other members of the community are invited to attend to not only see what the students have been learning but to also maybe learn a bit as well.  It really is a neat event and it's aways fun to see how the different classes translate what they have learned in their textbook to an actual visual show for everyone to see.

My only complaint about the Night at the Museum is that it's not long enough.  Granted, I'm sure it's plenty long for those participating but there are so many different things to see and do and only a few hours to cram as many as you can into.

We arrived at 4:30 to drop Alyssa off and to start looking around.  First we made our way into the Scorp, which is a multipurpose building that serves as both the cafeteria and the school theater.  This year they were having displays about the different countries of the world.  Along with a student created presentation of their country, most of the tables also had food samples of recipes from their country.  While I didn't eat anything (I did enjoy a nice cup of Earl Grey tea from Great Britain however), Ashleigh and Garrett did sample lumpia, soba noodles, a puff treat from Sri Lanka, and various other treats, as well as learned about the Australian Tim Tam Slam challenge.

Here's Ashleigh with some of her treats.

There were some really neat displays and some of the students even dressed in clothing to represent the country.

One of the tables about Japan had these really cute dolls on display, along with an authentic Kimono.

These two young men represented Sri Lanka.  I had to get a picture as I loved their shirts.

And these two beautiful young ladies were at the Thailand table.   Aren't those outfits goreous?  The two necklaces were also on display at that table.

After we looked around at all the tables and the kids had sampled a few different things, we headed off to catch a few of the Junior High shows.  The first one we caught was about the Aztec civilization and I thought this group of kids really did a great job.

About this time was when the Jr High groups shut down and the Sr High students get started.  We headed to the gym first, knowing that Alyssa's group was in there and we wanted to make sure we saw her.  First, we caught the Tuskegee Airman display, since it was also in the gym. This particular show was a bit confusing and I think it might have been better being more about Segregation in the Military in WWII as there seemed to be very little about the Tuskegee Airman themselves. While I was a bit disappointed about it not really being about the Tuskegee Airman themselves, it was a good demonstration as to what People of Color dealt with.  I won't complain to much though, as I know these kids put a lot of work into their scripts. Most of the classes write the scripts themselves.

Following the Tuskegee Airman, we headed over to watch Alyssa's classes presentation on the History of the Filibusterer.  Alyssa played the part as our host, taking us on a trip through time to the origins of the Filibuster, from Pirates to Roman times to modern times.

Alyssa explaining that a filibuster gives Congressmen a right to "talk and talk and talk" to hold off a vote.

Taking us back to Roman Times, when Julius Caesar was running for office but was unable to enter the city.  Cato, his opponent, tried to hold off the vote on whether or not Caesar could run while not in the city.

Modern Day Filibuster, with a "congressman" reading weather facts and sports scores.

Filibusting by reading from a medical journal and reading the ingredients off a sports drink.

Our next stop was the Speak Easy.  This is always a favorite and it's done every year.  Ashleigh loves going to the Speak Easy because they serve "hooch", which is actually Shirley Temples.  After a brief history of prohibition and the rise of Speak Easy's, we were given access to the most hopping club on campus.

Our Speak Easy was in a back room of the New York Public Library.

Access to the Speak Easy - after the secret knock.

Ashleigh's happy to have her glass of "hooch".. This stuff is hard to come by, you know ;)

Of course, what's a hot club without some celebrities.  The kids got to mingle with Charles Lindberg, Duke Ellington, Lou Gerig, and Babe Ruth among others.

Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth and Charlie Chaplin. 
Duke Ellington

Lou Gehrig points out that we have an intruder.
Well, all good things must come to an end.. The police showed up and raided the club and we had to run out as quick as possible. Luckily we made it out without being cuffed, but others were not so lucky.

 After our close call with the law, we decided to relax under a tree in the park, where we caught a live taping of The Bachelor - featuring King Henry VIII and his 6 wives.  The ultimate winner was Katherine Parr who was awarded the final rose.  Immediately after, on the same stage, was the Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre and the Defenestration of Prague.

Our next stop on the exhibit list was Germany and the Great Depression. Here was witnessed the signing of the Treaty of of Versailles.

As we toured this exhibit, we also saw what the resulted in Germany following the signing.

Such as the depreciation of the German dollar, rendering it useless.  (Sorry for the bad photos, I was shooting directly into the setting sun).

The drop in Stock values, rendering them worthless.

And finally, the rise of Adolph Hitler.

With the setting of the sun, we had time for one more exhibit before Night at the Museum was ended.  It was a hard choice as there were four exhibits we hadn't seen yet.  Finally, we decided to head to the exhibit "World War II: Home Front to Iwo Jima".   This one turned out to be pure comedy for us - I'll explain why in a few minutes.

This particular exhibit had multiple parts to it.  For the start of the exhibit, we were brought into a room to witness the funeral of Jamie Arnold, a female pilot who died in combat but was not given military honors or rights because she was a woman.

We were then moved to another room where we became part of the Manhattan Project and the testing of the first Atomic Bomb. (Unfortunately, my photos here didn't come out good as it was really dark inside )

Next stop was a weapons factory of WW2, where women worked out of duty to help their husbands who were away at war.  Here we got to see the working conditions of the factory, how poorly the women were treated by their male superiors, as well as discussion about how the women felt in regards to the war itself.

Finally, we were taking to the jungles of Iwo Jima .  Here we watched how three soldiers were ambushed by a Japanese soldier.  The Japanese had an advantage as they were familiar with the jungles, where our soldiers were not.

Here's that funny story I mentioned at the start of this exhibit..  After all the "soldiers" were dead on the ground, Garrett went up to the fence to get a better look. Then out of no where he says "Oooh no, well at
least you tried"..  This was overheard by the soldier in the dark grey shirt who laughed and came over to see Garrett since he thought the comment was so funny.  Some of the things that come out of a kids mouth!!

With Night at the museum over, we had a bit of wait time while the students cleaned up their areas and put their classrooms back in order.  Since Alyssa was in the gym, we just hung out in the courtyard so the kids had the opportunity to run around and enjoy the grass, since the school has really lush grass that's fun to play in.  And of course, we had to take pictures :)

Alyssa's final "Night at the Museum" is over.  The kids and I will still continue to go each year that they have it, even without a student involved, just because it really is a neat program and even without a student in the school, I want to continue to support it.   These students put so much into these exhibits and they should be so proud of themselves.

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