Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Crafty Classroom (A Homeschool Crew Review)

It's always a great day when you can combine various ways of learning about a subject, especially with kids who are more visual and hands on learners.  For a number of weeks, the kids have been learning about the 50 States.  Recently, we added a new tool to our arsenal of learning, the USA Activity Bundle from The Crafty Classroom.

The Crafty Classroom offers a large array of downloadable products, craft projects, and classroom ideas to help with your elementary homeschool needs.

The USA Activity Bundle is a downloadable digital resource that combines three different state activities into one product.

U.S.A. State-By-State Activity Notebook -  Fifty  notebooking pages that combine visual representations of state flags, state birds, state flowers along with areas to fill in other state facts.

U.S.A. State-by-State 50 State Mazes - Challenging black line puzzles help familiarize students with the shapes of each state.

U.S.A. State Bird Art Cards - 27 various birds (as some states share claim to the same birds) are represented, allowing notebooking basic facts, coloring cards, and memory matching cards.

How We Used The USA Activity Bundle

This product turned out to be so much fun for the kids, especially Ashleigh who enjoys anything where she can color.  Adding this to our current curriculum was simply and added very little preparation on my end. I just printed out the papers that we wanted each week and the kids were more than happy to work on them.

I decided to add these to our Friday lessons.  Most of the week, we tend to have a pretty curricular heavy schedule but on Fridays we tend to only have a few lessons. Each week, we would add one state to our lesson, taking the time to look up the information we didn't already know or pull up a photograph or graphic for the kids to use as a guide to color flags, flowers and birds.

While Garrett isn't one much for coloring, the images on the print outs are large enough that he doesn't seem to mind doing them.  The boxes are a big small for his writing, but that's only because Garrett tends to write quite big.    Extra notebooking lines towards the bottom of the activity book sheets were perfect for writing the name of each state's state song.   

Also included in the Activity Notebook are two games:  USA Bingo and Roll Across America.  Both games help to review what has been learned. 

 Bingo includes 8 player cards, each with states in which students place markers over when a state is called. 

Roll Across America involves rolling a dice and moving the number of places indicated on the dice. When the player lands on the state, they must say the name of the state (older students can be asked to name the state as well as it's capital).  If unable to answer correctly, they return to the spot in which they were originally.  Bonus spots require them to answer a question, like naming the 13 original colonies.  First player to make it to the end of the board wins. 

Ashleigh really enjoyed the Bird Cards.. These combine notebooking and coloring together to allow students to become familiar with each of the official state birds.  Notebooking lines allow for writing out simple facts about each bird. In our case, we would document where the bird nested (ground birds, tree birds, rock birds) and simple facts like the size of the bird and if it was considered a songbird or not.  The bottom section can be used as a matching game where you pair the picture of the bird along with it's name.  

However, without a doubt, the mazes were probably Garrett's favorite part of these activities.  (Ashleigh preferred the bird cards and activity sheets).  These mazes are challenging and are not straight forward, with lots of twists and terns and dead ends as they weave in and out the tracks from one end of the state to the other.  They were easily printed on the back of the activity sheet for the corresponding state, saving paper. 

These resources can be used in so many different settings, easily fitting into an American geography or history course or just as a fun activity that also includes a large amount of learning.

For more information about The Crafty Classroom and the USA Activity Bundle, be sure to visit their website. You can also find them on the following social media platforms:


#hsreviews  #CraftyClassroom #LearntoRead #HomeschoolCurriculum

Also, be sure to read the other reviews from the Crew Members.  In addition to the USA Activity Bundle, members were also offered to review Alphabet Curriculum NotebookBible ABC Curriculum Notebook for preschool students, Learn to R.E.A.D. Curriculum Notebook and R.E.A.D. Review Pack  for Kindergarten students, and How to Write a Paragraph for older elementary students.

Crafty Classroom {Reviews}

Monday, July 24, 2017

ACTÍVA Products ( A Homeschool Crew Review)

We love when we can incorporate arts and crafts into our classroom, so when we were given the opportunity to review Rigid Wrap and CelluClay Quik-Sculpting Kit from ACTÍVA Products  I thought it would be something the kids would enjoy.  

The Project Kit includes the following:
2 individually wrapped rolls of 4" Rigid Wrap
8 ounces of White CelluClay
Complete instructions for 12 projects using both the Rigid Wrap and CelluClay

CelluClay , made from recycled paper, is an instant paper mache product. When mixed properly with water, it will adhere to almost any surface and air dries to a hardened finish which can be sanded smooth and painted. It is gluten and toxin free and can be used for a wide variety of projects. Unused mixed product can be stored in the refrigerator for several days.

The instructions for the 12 project are simple black and white printouts. However, a free color ebook is available as a free download from the Activa website which features full color pictures in addition to step by step instructions for each of the 12 suggested projects included with the kit.

The three of us decided we would really like to make the Egyptian Sarcophagus that is shown on the product box. We found the instructions in the ebook ACTÍVA Products' Favorite Sculpture KIDS CRAFTS .  The kids love Ancient Egypt and so this caught their attention.

After making our form mold from a few manila folders and some sales papers that we had collected, we cut strips of the Rigid Wrap and got started.  All that is needed to use the Rigid Wrap is a bowl of water.  Simply dip the strips into the water to get them wet, then squeeze off the excess water by hand. This activates the plaster embedded in the product.

The Rigid wrap was extremely easy to use and even Ashleigh was able to use the product with very little help.  Place the strips on your project and then use your fingers to smooth out it out. We found that wetting our fingers a bit helped to smooth out the plaster to make a very smooth surface.

Once our projects were completely wrapped, we had to wait to allow them to dry.  The instructions states that the drying time can be sped up by using a microwave, however, we did not test this and opted to instead put our projects up high for a few days to allow them to air dry naturally.  We checked them periodically and after 24 hours, we flipped them over as the bottoms were still a bit wet.  All in all, it took about 48 hours for our projects to dry completely.

Our Projects drying on top of our china hutch.  Newton thought he had to protect them. LOL 
We found the cleanup following using the Rigid Wrap easy.  All plaster on our hands was easily washed away and any residue that got on clothing was eliminated in the wash.  We did find that the dry strips of wrap did produce a dust from the dry plaster, but that quickly wiped away with a damp washrag.  Some residue of the plaster had collected at the bottom of our water bowl but this too easily wiped away with a paper towel and the bowl washed clean without any effort.

Once our projects were completely dried, it was time to apply some paint. We found that the Rigid Wrap strips dried quiet hard and was easy to handle.  We used acrylic craft paint to paint our sarcophagus which worked really well.  We only needed one coat of paint as the paint did not soak in as so often happens when painting plaster, which meant we only needed one coat of paint to produce bright colors.

All three of us were very pleased with our finished products and I loved how we each interpreted the project in our own way.

I admit that we have yet to use the CelluClay, as the project that we picked out didn't use it. However, we already have big plans for it in the near future.  The kids have been studying human physiology and anatomy and I know this clay will be perfect for molding some human bones for one of our projects.  Once we complete that project, I will revisit this review and add our thoughts of the CelluClay at that time.

We were very pleased with the Rigid Wrap and how easy it was to work with.  I imagine it will be useful in many different projects.

#hsreviews  #activaproject

For more information about Rigid Wrap, CElluClay, the Quik-Scultping Kit and the large variety of other products offered by ACTÍVA , visit their website.  They can also be found on the following social media platforms:


Rigid Wrap and CelluClay Quik-Sculpting Kit {ACTÍVA Products Reviews}

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Colonial Faire

We've had a number of reviews lately with items that cover the American Revolution, such as our YWAM book about George Washington and then the Rush Revere series of books.  When we found out that there was a Colonial Faire going on only 2 hours away, we decided it was time to take a break from the desert and head to the forest for a trip to Riley Farms in Glen Oaks, California and let the kids experience some of their book lessons in person.

The Colonial Faire takes visitors back into the year 1774 with interactive displays, reenactments and a cast of costumed characters that help to education the public about life in the colonies in the 18th Century.

When we first arrived, we were instructed that we would have to visit one of two tables in order to "enlist" with either the Loyalists (those who supported and were loyal to King George)  or with the Colonialists. A quick decision was made and we headed over to the table for those of the Colonialists, where we were given a green wristband and where we used a quill and ink to sign our names to the ledger.

However, the British were not so quick to just let us join the militia.. As we passed their table, they asked us to trade our green wristbands for red ones, to show our allegiance to King George.  They asked us what the Colonial army had offered us (My husband answered free beer) and quickly pointed out to us that the Kings Army were better equipped and would provide food, lodging, and better uniforms and that all traitors to the king would eventually earn a traitors death.

It was at this point, my little homeschooler piped in and quoted Patrick Henry and his "Give me liberty or give me death".  He informed her that Henry was a traitor and when they caught him, they would kill him.  Ashleigh stood her ground and we continued the day with our green wristbands.. LOL
Asheligh speaking to the British Regiment recruiting officer.

Regiments of Redcoats were everywhere..   We really enjoyed looking at their uniforms.

There were many interactive displays in various tents on the farm grounds. One of these was to teach how they used looms to make blankets and rugs from wool from sheep.  A nice woman took a few moments to show Ashleigh the proper technique to use the loom and the shuttle and then invited Ashleigh to do a bit of the weaving herself.  Ashleigh quickly picked up on the technique and worked on a piece for a few moments.

Across from this display was a pottery display.  The kids loved looking at all the fire glazed pottery and watching as a man showed how to work the pottery wheel and form the clay. They even brought over a bottle that showed how clay was formed for Ashleigh and Garrett to see, since they had showed genuine interest.

We ended up purchasing the mug at the back of the table closest to the edge. But all the pieces were so gorgeous and the woman beside the table would take pieces off to show Ashleigh how pieces used different colored clays to created different patterns and told her how the firing process worked.

After looking at some of the displays, we headed over to the main square to watch the reenactment of the Boston Massacre of March 5, 1770.

While we waited for the presentation we had a few visitors come over to talk to us.  One of these was John Murray, the 4th Earl of Dunmore and the Governor of Virginia.

Gov. Murray answered lots of questions for the kids, telling them about his love of Pineapples. He had a Pineapple on his walking stick and on his baldric and told them about his house in Scotland that has a huge 48 foot tall pineapple.  (We googled this when we got home and learned about the Dunmore house when we returned home). .  Sorry for the weird angles in the photographs, I was sitting on the grass while the kids were on the benches.

Ashleigh asked him about his ribbon on his hat, and he told her that it was called a Cockade and that his was white to represent his homeland, Scotland.  The other man was wearing a black cockade which represented that he was militia and against the king, but for the life of me, I forgot who he said he represented and he didn't speak much.

As we walked along looking at the different presentations, there were plenty of proclamations and other notices from the King posted, such as bounties for traitors.  We had fun finding many of these posed on various trees throughout the grounds.

This one was just a reminder for people to go and pick up their wristbands.

Following the Boston Massacre, we headed over to watch the blacksmiths..  Here there were two men working on different items.  On the opposite side of us was a man making toy soldiers out of pewter, showing how they melt the metal and pour it into a mold. This side had lots of people, as I think the guy would give the soldier to a lucky kid. However, we went to the opposite side, where nobody else was at and we had an up close and personal experience of watching how they made horseshoes.  This was really neat, as we were able to ask questions and he would walk us through each step.

He used two different methods to heat the metal.  The brick forge we were told reaches temperatures of roughly 1800*F, high enough to turn the metal bright red but not enough to actual melt the metal.  The second forge we were told reached temperatures much hotter and that if he were to leave the iron in that forge for too long, it would melt.

Another great display that we got to see was the Drum and Fife.  Here we learned quite a bit.  The reason they used drums and fifes was because the sound of these instruments could be heard from long distances. Also, members of the drum and fife were often under the age of 18 and as young as 10. Because of this, we learned it was considered a crime to shoot upon or kill them.

Earlier, when we were learning about weaving, we were informed that the wood yarn that we were using was spun and dyed from the wool from the sheep on site.  We had to go and visit the sheep (and a few goats as well) who were extremely friendly.

 Not all of our day was educational.. Posing for pictures in the stocks, the looking at pollywags at the small pond on the property, to the discovery of a completely hallowed out tree that appeared to be struck by lightning.. Well, okay, so those were educational as well :)

Everyone had a great time and learned a lot from the experience.  We didn't know about this event until I saw someone discussing it on a thread on facebook and I am so glad we found out about it.  The kids had so much fun.  Hopefully we can find more experiences available like this because it was a really great field trip experience.


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