Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Master and His Apprentices (A Homeschool Crew Review)

One of the things that I really enjoy about being a member of the Review Crew is that sometimes there are curriculum that, while not the right age for my kids, they are something that I personally can use to enrich myself or further my own knowledge in regards to a particular topic.  Today's review falls into that category.

Way back when I was in middle school, I enjoyed taking art classes as an elective.  It was in those classes as a young student that I was introduced to the artistic masters like Van Gogh, da Vinci, and Michelangelo as well as more contemporary artists like Grandma Moses, Salvador Dali, Jackson Pollock and Pablo Picasso.  However, as I got into high school, art classes fell to the wayside for classes that would advance me in the career field I was more interested in.   Nearly 30 years later, I was given the opportunity to review the digital version of The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective, an art history curriculum from The Master and His Apprentices, I knew that while my kids were too young for the information, it would be of great interest to me.

What Is The Master and His Apprentices

Written by experienced Art History teacher Gina Ferguson,  The Master and His Apprentices is a 380 page digital textbook (also available in a physical format) which teaches students to recognize God's hands being the Master Artist and providing the experience and ability to various apprentices throughout history . 

The course begins with the ultimate creation, God creating the universe and all within it and then takes students on a tour through the art of ancient cultures such as Egyptian and Aegean, through the Early Greeks, Etruscan and Roman artists of the Classical Antiquity period, the various period of the Renaissance period and finally on to modern contemporary art of today.  The textbook contains 19 chapters as well as an additional appendix and an index to allow for quick location of a particular artist, location, or style of work.

In addition to the textbook, members of the review crew were also given the accompanying 116 page Teacher Guide.  This PDF file contained discussion questions, student worksheets, exams and other supplemental (syllabus, research paper topics, ect) that can be used in the classroom setting. (I should also mention here that purchase of the digital version of the teacher's guide allows for printing for one student - if multiple students will be using the curriculum, teachers must purchase photocopy rights for each additional student at $2/student.)

Using the two components together, The Master and His Apprentices can be used to achieve a full High School Art History credit when students complete four research papers and complete all handouts and exams.  The Teacher Guide contains a full schedule to break down the curriculum into 36 1-hour per week classes divided into two 18-week semesters to fit into a standard one year program.

Unlike other art history programs, The Master and His Apprentices approaches art history from a Biblical worldview.  The art work shown on the pages contains no nudity or other objectionable material and the accompanying text demonstrated how the art and the Bible line up together.  With more than 600 full color photos of art work, maps, , this curriculum is a walk through not only art and artists, but history, geography, cultures, and world religions as well.

How I Used This

Since I was using this item for my own educational purposes and not for class credits, I did not focus so much on the Teacher's Guide as I would have if using it for my students.  Instead, I focused mostly on the textbook itself.

After purchase of the digital format of the curriculum, buyers are given instructions on how to download and that they have 72 hours in which to download the files for both the text and the teachers guide.  These files are to be saved on their computer, after which an internet connection is not necessary to view them.  The Textbook is a larger file at 111MB, so depending on your internet connection, might take a long period of time in which to download.   Once I had the files downloaded to my computer as well as transferred to my storage drive for safe keeping, I also sent the file to my tablet for viewing off my computer.  Files are in PDF format and can be viewed with any program that can read PDF files.  Files are also formatted in such a way that they can be printed out and placed in a 3 ring binder - however, I did not opt for this method as I was perfectly fine with reading it on my Kindle.

The Master and His Apprentices on my Kindle Fire Tablet
Once I had the textbook on my Kindle, I found myself being lulled to sleep with the masters.  Each night, I would lay in bed and read for roughly 10-20 minutes a night, depending on the size of the chapter/section I was reading through. Other times, I would pull the textbook up on my computer and continue for a few moments while the kids worked on their assignments.

I especially enjoyed Chapter 4 which covered Ancient Egypt, which takes readers through a tour of the history and the various ruling dynasties, as well as the different styles of pyramids that can be found there.  I really was tickled looking at the treasures found in King Tutankhamen's tomb, especially since I had seen a number of those treasures in person just recently at the King Tut exhibit in Los Angeles (the canopic jar, the alabaster jar, the sun falcon necklace and the fan head).  

I also really enjoyed the section on the Palace of Knossos. I mentioned in a recent art review that I had shared this section with Ashleigh when her art lesson discussed King Minos's palace and the fresco of the Leaping Bull.  We had previously seen black and white photos of the inside of the palace when we read about it in an old Richard Halliburton book so we both really enjoyed looking at the stunning color photographs of the ruins of the palace together in this book.  There's also a section that focuses on the various cathedrals throughout the world that we really enjoyed looking at.

In addition to revisiting things I already knew about and really liked seeing again, there has been plenty of places and people I had never of before this book.  For example, I had never heard of Claus Sluter, a Proto-Renaissance sculpture from France that lived from 1340 to 1406.  To be perfectly honest, I had never even heard of the Proto-Renaissance before I read about it in this book, much less Claus Sluter and his "Well of Moses" sculpture (originally called the Great Cross).   I really enjoyed learning about the history of this particular piece and admiring the life like details Sluter put into his representations of important Biblical figures like King David,  Moses, and Daniel.  (Zachariah's beard looks like you could reach out and touch it and it would be soft and fuzzy.)  I really would have liked to have seen this piece with the Crucifixion portion before it had been destroyed.

Of course, the well known masters are all represented as well. Caravaggio, Michelangelo, Donatello, Da Vinci, and Bernini (whom I originally became familiar with thanks to Dan Brown's Angels & Demons).  I have really enjoyed reading about each of these, and learning more about them and their style of art.  Each artist is presented as a mini-biography about their life, death, what style of art or medium they are most known for and a few of their most notable or religious pieces.  Many of these, I hadn't seen before. For example, I really like Rembrandt's works but i had never seen Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee in any other books before.  Although, I was a bit sad to see Van Gogh and Monet lumped together in a single chapter and only a brief mention, rather than a chapter for each of them.

While my main focus was the enjoyment of the textbook and not the teachers guide (it's a bit difficult to fill out papers in the dark while lying in bed), I did find myself printing out some of the discussion questions and filling in the answers as I read along while the kids were working on their schoolwork.  I found that many of the questions were not "copy from the text" style questions but instead were designed more for the student to think about what they learned and apply their knowledge of the subject.  Questions were less objective and are instead more open ended, subjective style questions.

While I am thoroughly enjoying reading the text and learning on my own, I am also planning ahead for September when we will once again add Art Study to the kids schedule.  With all the beautiful photographs of paintings, sculptures and even architecture,  plus the very well written history behind both the artist and the artwork, I know that having this textbook in my library will make teaching the kids art history easy.  It's a product that I can see us coming back to again and again, both for the educational value as an Art History credit as my kids get older as well as for the entertainment value as just extremely interesting reading material. 

For more information about The Master and His Apprentices, be sure to visit their website.  You can also find them on them on the following social media sites:

The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective {The Master and His Apprentices Reviews}

Monday, June 25, 2018

Hake Publishing (A Homeschool Crew Review)

I'm not one to know where to start when teaching grammar. I know what nouns, pronouns, verbs and adjectives, but outside of those basics, I don't really know how to teach grammar to my kids.

 Luckily, Hake Publishing has taken the confusion out of teaching grammar and made it as simple as opening a book to the next lesson  with their brand new Hake/Saxon Grammar and Writing 3 curriculum. 

About Grammar and Writing 3

Grammar and Writing 3 is the first set of books in the Grammar and Writing series designed for students grades 3 through 8th.   Each book teaches English grammar, writing, punctuation, spelling rules and vocabulary development.  (Click to view Scope and Sequence
Written by Mary Hake and Christie Curtis, the Grammar and Writing 3 curriculum consists of three components:

Consumable Workbook - Printed on Newsprint style paper, this softback 488 page book contains all the text, examples and questions needed for all 111 lessons as well as a ten page index for looking up particular lesson topics. Lessons consist of 3-4 pages each.

Writing Workbook - 92 page softback book contains 21 writing exercises that build upon what the
student has learned from the lesson in the workbook.  Each writing lesson is designed to be done on the days that students are tested over what they have learned.  Lessons focus on teaching students how to write a paragraph before moving on to writing a persuasive essay, informative (expository) essay, a personal narrative, a descriptive essay and a chapter summary.  This workbook has perforated pages and comes pre-punched for a three ring binder.

Teacher's Guide with Answer Keys and Tests - Roughly 400 pages in length, this softback book, printed on newsprint style paper contains teachers instructions (including narrative script), answer key for all lessons in the textbook as well as for activities in the Writing Workbook, test masters (including answer keys) for 22 tests that can be copied for student use, and 31 addition Practice worksheets (and answer keys) that can also be copied for student use.  This book also contains perforated pages and three hole punched.

How We Have Used It

For this review, I used Grammar and Writing 3 strictly with Garrett.  While technically a fourth grade student, language arts has always been a struggle for Garrett and he tends to be a bit behind in that particular subject.  This third grade level course has been perfect for him, both with his reading level and in the length and depth of the lessons.  We ended up using this curriculum three times a week (on M-W-F) so that he could use it in conjunction with the reading program that he likes.

When Garrett found out he would be doing another language arts curriculum, he was NOT happy. Especially when he first saw the student workbook. There are no cute pictures or color graphics - the pages are just straight black text on paper.  No graphics, no clip art, just words.

I honestly thought he was going to have a complete meltdown right then and there.  He pretty much did..  However, I talked him into doing a lesson with me.  I showed him that the lesson wasn't that that long and that there wasn't a whole lot of writing involved.  "Just give it a chance," I pleaded with him. And he did, begrudgingly. After Lesson 1 was completed, he looked at me and said "You know, that wasn't so bad".

Garrett working his way through Lesson 1
We have not had any issues with getting Garrett to do his lesson with Grammar and Writing 3.

Garrett enjoys working on this curriculum in the quite of my bedroom
Garrett has come to enjoy doing this particular curriculum later in the evening, while laying on my bed. Typically, he grabs the book and tells me it's time for his lesson and this has become our special school time.   Since he does it separately from his sister,  it seems easier for him to wind down before he completes his lesson, allowing him to focus on what he'd reading and doing.

The real test of any curriculum, however, is whether or not the material that they are learning sticks with them. Can they recall what they learned in previous lessons?  This particular curriculum continuously reviews the information from previous lessons, asking the child to recall it with each lesson. Then after roughly every 5 lessons, the student takes a test over all the past lessons. I say roughly because the first test is after lesson 10, and the final two tests follow lessons 110 and 111.  These tests are found in the back of the teacher's manual and can be copied to give to the student, as well as extra practice worksheets to use following particular lessons.  Garrett has scored very high on the tests he has taken so far, proving that the format of learning and reviewing has worked well for him.

Garrett working his way through one of his tests
The third component of the Grammar and Writing 3 curriculum is the Writing Workbook.  This is a thinner workbook that consists of 21 Lessons that coincide with the 21 tests.  On the same day the student tests over the material, they should also complete the lesson in the Writing Workbook for that day.  A schedule in the front of the Teacher's Guide reminds the parent which lesson follows the test.

I originally was not sure how Garrett was going to react to the Writing Workbook.  Garrett hates to write, even more than he hates to read, although, he has gotten better with both since starting our reading curriculum.

Garrett does have a bit of an issue with staying focused on task with the Writing Workbook but doesn't seem to mind the actual assignments.  Luckily, both the tests and the writing lessons are fairly short, at least as far as we have gotten in the book and Garrett hasn't objected to anything asked of him. 

In conclusion, I have really enjoyed adding Grammar and Writing 3 to Garrett's language arts curriculum.  He seems to be learning much more in just a short period of time of using it then he has with other curriculum that we have used in the past, making it a winner in my book. 

#hsreviews #grammar #languagearts

For more information about Hake Publishing and their Grammar and Writing curriculum, including Hake/Saxon Grammar and Writing 3 , be sure to visit their website.

Hake/Saxon Grammar and Writing 3 {Hake Publishing Reviews} 

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Field Trip to the Museum of Natural History

This week, Charles took a week off for vacation.  This gave us the perfect opportunity to load up the car and head to Los Angeles and take advantage of our Family Membership to the Museum of Natural History.  I had picked up the membership in back in March as a deal on Groupon for less than it would have cost to take the family for a day but we hadn't had the opportunity to visit yet.

The very first thing we saw when we entered the museum was the skeleton of a very large, 63 foot long  fin whale suspended over our heads.  This really helped to set the mood for what we were going to spend the day seeing, as a large majority of the days collections were going to be skeletons of various creatures. 

Center display of two dinosaurs at the entrance of the museum. 

We arrived at the museum at about 1130 and had tickets for the special butterfly exhibit for noon. The tickets asked for us to arrive roughly 10-15 minutes before then, so we went straight to the exhibit.  We had about a 15 minute wait, which was fine by us as it allowed everyone to calm down and regroup after dealing with some very crazy LA traffic. lol

Ashleigh had been looking forward to the butterfly exhibit since she found out in March that they would have it (Garrett is more excited about the upcoming Spider exhibit that will replace it in Sept). She was so excited, she even wore a butterfly shirt. 

Once we were given the rules to the butterfly house (watch where you step, the butterflies can touch you but you cannot touch the butterflies, no touching the eggs, chrysalis or plants) we headed inside. There were over 25 different species of butterflies in the exhibit, all free roaming.  Our tickets allowed for us to have 30 minutes to walk around the exhibit but we were still able to see plenty of beautiful butterflies.  However, I could have easily enjoyed spending much longer inside.

Garrett even had a hitchhiker when a Buckeye landed on him and rested for a few minutes.  

I thought this White Peacock butterfly was so beautiful with the light illuminating it's wings.  From underneath it looked like stained glass.  Very Pretty. 

We hadn't seen many of the butterflies that are in the exhibit.  Thankfully they provided an identification guide to help figure out what was what.  We managed to locate almost all of the different varieties but did not locate the Malachite (bright green) butterflies.  They did tell us that some of the varieties weren't yet available as the eggs hadn't hatched yet, so maybe they will be viewable next time we go. 

After all the beautiful butterflies, we headed inside to enter the Dino Hall.

I think the smile on Ashleigh's face says it all.  I think almost all kids like dinosaurs.

 After the Dino Hall, we headed to the Mammal Room.  Much like the Dino Hall, this was a room of various skeletal remains of mammals from prehistoric times to present.

Cheetah running
Skeleton of cheetah running
 We were all very amazed to see how many animals have changed in size, as one particular part of the exhibit showed a horse and a dog and the dog was almost as big as the horse. 

Dog verse horse

Ashleigh was thrilled to find a skeleton of a Sabre Tooth Cat, which is one of her favorite prehistoric animals.

And Dad was pretty impressed with the size of the now extinct Ground Sloth. 

Garrett thought the Mammoth was pretty cool.. I have to agree.

We knew we would not be able to even to view all the exhibits at the museum this time (hence, why we knew buying a membership would be well worth the expense) but we did want to go check out the Bird Hall.  Ashleigh didn't like this part of the exhibit that much, as she didn't like that it was dead birds.   But, like I explained to her, it allows for people to see various birds that they would never see alive and most likely, many of these birds died of natural causes in zoos or aviaries. (It sounded good at least.. lol)

Garrett really liked the various drawers that he could pull out and look at things like eggs, wing structures, ect.   

This is the Aztec artifact exhibit. I didn't get to look at it yet (next time) but I thought it was so cool. 

We decided to head outdoors and warm up a bit, as it was kind of chilly inside the museum.  The manicured gardens outside the museum are amazing, designed to attract various birds, bugs, bats and other wildlife in the area.   There's also a garden of various edible plants.  All of the area was so beautiful.  We ended up buying a nice picnic basket so from now on, when we visit, we can bring a picnic lunch with us to sit in these gardens on future trips.

Garrett watching birds at one of the feeding stations.

The California Science Center is right next door to the Museum.  That's the External Fuel Tank from the Space Shuttle, not what you typically see in a garden ;)    That is actually the only external tank left, as all others burned up in our atmosphere and the space shuttle program is no longer.  The space shuttle Endeavor is located in that white building beside the tank.   I did find it interesting that you get a better look at the tank from the Museum than you do from visiting the Science Center.

Garrett made a friend while we were walking through the Edible Garden.  This fat squirrel was enjoying munching on strawberries. 

While still part of the museum property (but is part of the public park and does not require admission to the museum to enjoy), there is a beautiful rose garden with this nice fountain that is beside the other gardens (that require museum admission). With lots of shade trees, soft green grass, and beautiful smelling roses, it turned out to be a really nice place to pull up a piece of shade, lay back and relax.

Heading back inside, we went down to the ground level to check out the Nature Lab.  This was a really cool exhibit that had live (and stuffed) exhibits of various animals.  We knew that we had to visit that exhibit in particular because they had rats, Ashleigh's favorites.  The fact they were there was a huge surprise for her as we didn't tell her ahead of time.

Ashleigh spent a good 10 minutes talking to the worker who takes care of the rats. The worker even commented that Ashleigh knew more about rats then she did.. lol

A VERY much alive Pacific Rattle Snake climbing up the rocks to say hello.

And a VERY much alive tarantula of some sort (I didn't stick around long enough to find out what type).. 

A stuffed puma.  However, the museum does have an exhibit dedicated to P- 22, a male mountain lion who lives in Griffith Park.  Los Angeles has a number of mountain lions who live in the area.

It was time for us to head out.  The kids each got to pick something small from the gift store and we headed home. We will definitely be returning for another visit in the near future.   In addition to admission to the Museum of Natural History, our family pass also gives us admission to the La Brae Tar Pits and the museum there as well as the William S. Hart museum.  We are hoping to visit all three of these museums multiple times over the course of the year (and will most likely continue to keep this membership as long as we are in California).

Remember the two dinosaurs that are the centerpiece at the entry of the museum? Here they are again, directly outside the museum. 


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