20 Best Tips

Georgia O’Keefe Art Study – Poppy Collage Art Project

This post is our honest review of a product that we received for free. All opinions expressed are solely mine.

The Poppy Collage art project from See the Light has been one of my FAVORITE art projects with our kids so far. We are using the year 1 art curriculum from See the Light this year, but Poppy Collage is part of the Art Project series from artist Pat Knepley.

Our kids have really enjoyed the art lessons on dvd and I love that the teaching and history behind the lessons are all included in the four step-by-step lessons. Poppy Collage does have a little bit of prep involved {cutting tissue paper and gathering the few supplies}, but otherwise the lessons are full of art history taught from a Biblical perspective.

Poppy Collage focuses on the artwork of Georgia O’Keefe and her gorgeous close-up paintings. Throughout the lessons, teacher Pat Knepley shares the about the life of O’Keefe, different paintings and styles that O’Keefe worked on throughout her career, and then teaches children art elements and principles using different mediums.

The Poppy Collage Art Project

The video includes 4 step-by-step lessons and although the segments range from 17 to 22 minutes, you need to allow about 1 hour per lesson to work on the project. Our kids would pause the video every now and then to work on what the session assignment and would then resume watching. Here’s a look at the breakdown of the four lessons:





Creating Our Collages

Our kids set up camp in the living room around a table so they could see the video better and we put all of the supplies in the center of the table. We did have a live plant at first, but used some real pictures of poppies for the project as well.

Poppy Art Project from See the Light-9737

Poppy Art Project from See the Light-9726 Poppy Art Project from See the Light-9723

Long after the older kids were finished with their project, Kaleb was hanging out in the living room and finishing up the background of his poppy collage. He was so particular about this one!

Poppy Art Project from See the Light-9747

As a mom without a lot of art history knowledge {or memory – ahem}, I love how the video covers not only the history of the artist and famous pieces, but also the techniques and processes used in artwork. If I tried to explain art terms and model how to do something it can be really difficult, but the videos easily show the kids how to do certain techniques {and I can even participate along too!}.

Supplies for the projects are simple – glue, pencils, tissue paper, poster board, etc… no hunting around for some crazy things that I’ve never heard of before. Although targeted for ages 10+, all of our kids {ages 6 to 11} participated in the Poppy Collage art project.

Our Poppy Collage Projects

Each one of the kids created a project that was definitely ‘showcase’ worthy, leaving us with the question of how to display all of the artwork around the house! For now a few are displayed in the schoolroom and one child claimed the artwork as her own and has it hanging over her bed. Here’s a little peek at the girls’ work…
Poppy Art Collage-11yearoldLaurianna, age 11 Poppy Art Collage-10yearoldMcKenna, age 10

While all of the kids created beautiful pieces, I was really amazed at the time and detail that Kaleb took with his project. Occasionally I would see McKenna lean over to help him with a few things, but he faithfully sat and finished his project and was SO excited when it was finished {me too!}.

Poppy Art Collage-6yearold

Note: Zachary did one as well, but he didn’t want me to take a picture of it because his did not have a ‘filler’ background, so he thought it wasn’t as nice as the other kids {it was!}. His is hanging above his school desk where we can all see it still. Smile

Find Out More

Poppy Collage is one video that is a part of the Art Projects from See the Light. You can purchase the DVDs individually {$14.95/ea} or purchase the entire year of nine art projects based on famous artists and receive a bonus cartooning video. We personally own the Art Class year 1 series and are working through that, but love these special projects. The kids are excited to work on another project soon!

These lessons have been so fun for us to work on and we can’t wait to share more with you soon!


Our family was given a copy of Poppy Collage to use and review. All opinions expressed in this post are solely mine.

Challenge on the Hill of Fire – an Imagination Station Book

This post is our honest review of a product that we received for free. All opinions expressed are solely mine.

Finding fun ways to learn about history can make such a difference in helping children remember different stories from the past. We recently studied the life of Saint Patrick in our history studies, so Challenge on the Hill of Fire was a great addition to our reading time with the kids.

From the PublishersChallenge on the Hill of FireKidnapped by Celtic Druids in 433, Patrick and Beth are headed to certain death when followers of a former Irish Slave (Saint Patrick, called Patritius in this book) save them. The cousins find themselves in the midst of a power struggle between Ireland’s King Logaire, Patritius, and the leader of the Druids, Lochru. A spiritual showdown begins on the Hill of Slane when Patritius builds a fire, challenging the King’s authority. Will Patritius prove to the king that the God of the Bible is the true God? Or will the king take sides with the Druids? The Emerald Isle holds many tales and legends, but this story of truth and standing strong for God is not one to be missed.

About the Series

The Imagination Station series, published by Tyndale House, is a historical fiction book set for children ages 7 and up. The chapter book series follows cousins Beth and Patrick as they travel through time and visit different points in history. Each book also shows the historical period from a Biblical perspective ~ and in a fun and exciting way for children.

Parents and children can also visit TheImaginationStation.com to find out secret words, family devotionals, parent guides and more that tie in with each of the books in the series. The website also lists what is true or exaggerated for each of the books along with additional links to characters in the stories.

The Imagination Station books are available for purchase through Amazon and are reasonably priced at $4.99/each {they are also frequently part of the 4-for-3 promotion}. We have the entire series and they are great readers for Zachary. They are books that we will continue to add to our library as they are released – and enjoy as a read aloud {unless someone sneaks a book off!}.

AOI book 1 AOI book 2 AOI book 3 AOI book 4 AOI book 5
AOI book 6 AOI book 7 AOI book 8 AOI book 9 Challenge on the Hill of Fire

Visit these pages to learn more about the series:

Official Imagination Station website

Adventures in Odyssey Facebook page

Adventures in Odyssey on Twitter

We enjoyed Challenge on the Hill of Fire as much as the other nine books in the series and are always excited to see when a new book is released! Our family highly recommends this series!

Building Bridges Blocks from Larsen Toy Lab

This post is our honest review of a product that we received for free. All opinions expressed are solely mine.

Larsen Toy LabReplacing batteries in toys is one of my pet peeves. Despite the ‘shiny’ and noise that so many of today’s gadgets offer, I truly long for our kids to get back to the basics ~ using their imaginations to create, build, and learn. When I find educational toys that are created with that concept, it makes me extremely happy and want to share about them with others.

Building Bridges wooden block set

The Building Bridges block set from a new company Larsen Toy Lab is one of those toys that I want to spread the word on and get you as excited as I am about them! The set of 24 classic wooden blocks comes with a story book and the largest block is personally engraved for your child or family.

About the Building Blocks

While I can attest to the quality of the blocks, understanding the why behind the company is important as well:

Our idea is simple – to build a company around blocks.  Throughout generations wood blocks have cultivated problem solving, critical thinking, and social skills. Quite simply, blocks are one of the most educational and inherently creative toys available.  We’ve added to these values by blending a story, game or a puzzle into each of our sets.

Larsen Toy Lab produces high quality, all natural, wooden block sets that are 100% Made in America.  We strive to minimize our environmental impact and promise to give back to the communities we serve through block donations.

~ Alex and Courtney

Currently, there are three main sets that are available from Larsen Toy Lab via Kickstarter ~ Shape Match, Building Bridges, and Ten Towers.

ShapeMatch Building Bridges wooden block set Ten Towers

Shape Match and Building Bridges are focused on the story of a young boy named Leif and his travels. Throughout the story, children are encouraged to build structures that imitate pictures in the book. Some of the structures can be recreated using the blocks that are included in the set, and others require children to use creativity to recreate them with what they have on hand.

Larsen Toy Lab-9569

What We Love About the Building Blocks from Larsen Toy Lab

There are many things to love about the building blocks from Larsen Toy Lab ~ other than the fact that they are made in the US and also eco-friendly {definitely safe when my young nephew and niece come to visit!}. Here are a few other things we are enjoying about these toys.

Larsen Toy Lab

The block sets are personalized for your family. Our block set came personalized just for us – love it!!! The kids were all excited {and since it was the blog name it MAY have cut down on the arguing over who the blocks belonged to – grins}.

Larsen Toy Lab-9577

The toys tie in reading with learning. When Kaleb saw the blocks he was very excited, so he and I spent almost an hour reading the book together and recreating things that we saw in the book. Bringing them to ‘life’ and off the page was so much fun. The story isn’t just a quick read, but includes talk about building friendships as well – tying literature in with learning just makes me happy.

Larsen Toy Lab-9573

Creativity is encouraged when creating. At first Kaleb thought that everything he needed to build was in the box, but he discovered that there were times when he needed to think through things to build and couldn’t just copy what he saw. That is something that I LOVE about this educational toy.

Larsen Toy Lab-9580

The block set includes a clean-up guide! Have you ever taken something out of the box only to puzzle over how in the world to fit it all back in the way you took it out? Maybe that’s just me. When you open the box, the underside gives you a visual on how to repack the blocks so they all fit back in nice and neat. This makes a mom super happy.

Find Out More

Be sure to stop by LarsenToyLab.com and take a moment to watch their intro video – or visit them on Facebook to say hi and follow along. We are looking forward to using these blocks again and again ~ and know that you will enjoy them as well!


Jolanthe Signature

I was provided a set of the Building Bridge blocks from Larsen Toy Lab to review in exchange for my honest opinion ~ and the truth is we love them enough to have backed their company.


All About Reading Level 2 Review

This post is our honest review of a product that we received for free. All opinions expressed are solely mine.

For those of you who have been anxiously waiting, All About Reading Level 2 is now available and ready to order! And for those of you who haven’t heard of All About Learning Press ~ I’ve had a peek into the new program and am very excited to share about it with you!

All About Reading Level 2

From September 28 through October 8, All About Reading Level 2 will be 10% off. Sale prices will be reflected on the All About Learning Press website during this time.

We’ve used the Pre-1 reading program and the Level 1 reading program and love how fun and easy to use they are ~ and the Level 2 reading program is no different.

The All About Reading Program

All About Reading is a step-by-step reading program for children with a multisensory approach. Lessons are sequential in order, building on material  learned in prior lessons and levels, and ensure that your child is fully grasping concepts and successful in reading before moving on.

Level 2 of All About Reading builds on the concepts that were taught in Level 1. In the 51 lessons of Level 2, your child will begin working on three-letter blends, work on the ‘silent E’, learn how to decode multisyllable words, and continue in the reading adventure.

All About Reading 2-1

Here’s a look at some things taught in Level 2:

Decoding – Phonics

Learn and read words with phonograms wh, ee, er, ar, or, ed, oy, oi, aw, au, ow, ou
Read words with long I or O before two consonants, as in find and gold
Read words with soft C, as in race

Decoding – Structural Analysis

Identify base words
Read contractions, such as they’ll
Learn syllable division rules for reading multisyllable words
Read words with past tense ending ed, including all three sounds, as in wanted, tested, and chipped


Discuss new words in the context of the story and one’s own life
Understand homophones
Understand synonyms and antonyms


Read with accuracy
Read with meaningful expression
Read with natural phrasing


Connect text to own experiences
Make predictions
Compare and contrast settings
Skim for specific information

My Thoughts on All About Reading Level 2

As with the many other programs that we use from All About Learning Press, I cannot say enough wonderful things about the newly released Level 2 Reading Program. Both of our boys have really needed the multisensory approach that All About Reading offers.

Just from the first few beginning lessons of Level 2, Zachary was able to grasp a concept that I have been trying to get across to him for awhile – syllable division {from multisyllable words such as cactus, admit, helmet, etc….}. He has had such a hard time visually breaking apart the words and reading them correctly.

Apparently, adding a paper axe and chopping up word logs as a lumberjack did the trick. The hands-on aspect of the lesson made it click for him.

All About Reading 2-3 All About Reading 2-2

The most common sight words are ‘leap-ahead’ words {going along with the frog theme} ~ words such as are, you, have, who etc… Because the cards are easily identified with a frog on them, Zachary pays careful attention to them for future lessons and identifying them in his reading.

If you are familiar with the layout of All About Learning Press products, the Level 2 reading program is no different ~ pre-planned lessons, step-by-step directions and helpful tips to make teaching the lessons so much more effective. I am very much looking forward to using this program with our boys and know it will be a help in our homeschool.

Not sure if your child is ready for All About Reading Level 2? Download the placement test on the resource page to check and see!

What Comes in the Level 2 Reading Program

The All About Reading Level 2 Kit comes with the following items: {Regularly $107.70, currently on sale now for $99.95}All About Reading Level 2 Kit

  • Level 2 Teacher’s Manual
  • Level 2 Student Packet {includes word cards and an Activity Book}
  • What Am I? reader
  • Queen Bee reader

imageYou will also need a Reading Interactive Kit to complete the program. Choose between the Deluxe Reading Interactive Kit {$48.95} or the Basic Reading Interactive Kit {$28.95} ~ or buy the pieces individually. The reading kits are a one-time purchase and will be used in all levels of the program.

Quick Tip: If you currently use any of the All About Spelling programs, the letter tiles are the same, so you may only need a few additional components to complete the kit.

A Few Things to Consider

Here are a few more thoughts on this homeschool reading program:

  • The bulk of the components are non-consumable {only the Activity Book and the tropical frog stickers cannot be used again}. This means that you will be able to use the program with your younger children or resell the program when you are finished using it {yay!}.
  • Pre-planned lessons ~ homeschooling can be hard enough, and I appreciate all the help I can get. You can literally open the book and start teaching since all the planning has been done for you!
  • Minimal prep-work. The word cards are perforated, but need to be torn apart and the letter tiles need to be assembled with magnets. Once that is done, you can grab your manual and go.
  • The Go Ahead and Use It One-Year Guarantee’. You and your child have a full year to try out the program! If you find that the curriculum does not meet your needs, simply return the materials at any time within one year of purchase for a full refund of your purchase price.

Be sure to check out the Level 2 Reading Program page at All About Learning Press to see samples of each of the books in the program and gain a better understanding of how the program is laid out. Feel free to leave a comment with any questions!

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Esther Bible Study for Children ~ Grapevine Studies

This post is our honest review of a product that we received for free. All opinions expressed are solely mine.

Last year when we first started using Grapevine Studies for our Bible time, I had no idea how much our children would grow to love it. Although the stick figures seemed so simple they made it even better because every one of the kids could participate.  We were able to focus on key points in the Bible lessons and use simple illustrations to enhance our learning.

Esther Bible Study

We’ll be starting off our year using the updated Esther Bible study with the kids. The story of Esther is one of my favorite Bible stories, so I am very excited to dig into it deeper with the kids.

What’s included in the Grapevine Esther Bible study

As you study the book of Esther in these nine lessons, you and your family will follow the life of a young girl who becomes the queen and saves her people through her courage to follow God. You will also learn more about the celebration of Purim and see how it became an annual holiday for the Jewish people.


  • The multi-level teacher’s manual has lesson notes, timelines, full-color stick figure drawings, vocabulary terms, a map, lesson goals & key points, memory verses, as well as review questions & answers {ebook $8.95, 3 ring punched $16.95}.
  • The student book includes lesson pages, timelines, a map, verse memorization and more {ebook $8.95, printed $10.95}. In addition to the teacher and student books, you will also need a Bible, colored pencils, a whiteboard {or large paper} and colored dry erase markers.

How We are Using the Esther Bible Study

We are dividing the lessons up over a 4 week period. At the beginning of each lesson we review anything from prior lessons. The kids take turns reading the accompanying Bible passage {we use the NIrV Discover’s Bible} and then we all complete the drawing to go along with the passages.

Grapevine Esther-1

I use our large whiteboard easel and our pack of Expo dry erase markers so all the kids can see the pictures. As I read and we talk about the lesson, the kids copy my drawings onto their lesson pages. The figures in the lessons are all color coded, so the kids can visually identify the characters in the story {i.e. the king is green, Vashti is orange, etc…}.

Grapevine Esther-2

  • Four-square layout for the studies ~ this feature saves a lot of paper space and ink on printing.
  • Multi-colored stick figures ~ the variety keeps the kids really involved in the details of the drawings, even though the drawings are based on stick figures
  • The ebook works PERFECTLY on my iPad ~ Teachers can save more paper and ink by using the ebooks on laptops or iPad. This feature has changed my opinion of ebooks!!
  • It is multi-aged focused ~ I love that we can use this with all of our kids {ages 5 – 11}. The visual aspect helps the kids remember more about the lessons and the fact that we can work together as a family means a lot to me.

If you’re interested in any of the other studies and levels from Grapevine, you can download sample lessons from many of their other studies here. They have a variety of studies including Old and New Testament, the Resurrection, the Birth of Jesus, the Life of Joseph, and Biblical Feasts.


Ready to buy? Click here to check out the Grapevine studies!

Exile And Return: Ezra, Nehemiah & Esther ~ What’s in the Bible? DVD 7

This post is our honest review of a product that we received for free. All opinions expressed are solely mine.

This past week, What’s in the Bible released the seventh DVD in their fun series that walks children {and parents, too!} through the stories of the Bible. The latest installment is Exile and Return: Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther, featuring two 25 minute episodes.


Through Ezra and Nehemiah, children learn more about the return of the Israelites to the land of Judah. Their return is anything but easy, and we discover the important role that each man played in the history of the country, including the amazing re-building of the wall in just 52 days!

The story of Esther is one that many of us are familiar with, but it will induced lots of laughter and giggles from the children as they follow the story of a young girl turned queen who helps save her people from the wicked plans of Haman.

Whats in the Bible DVD 7-1

Thanks to What’s in the Bible, we had a chance to sit down and watch it with some of our friends and have a party of sorts. We always love an excuse to have friends over! Our kids were so excited when the package arrived with the latest installment and especially excited to share it with their friends.

After watching Exile and Return, we grabbed some snacks and sat down to color together. The DVD also comes with a coloring sheet that can be photocopied to share with your children. Inside the case are questions that you can review with your kids after the video to see what they have learned and remember as well.

What's in the Bible-1Whats in the Bible DVD 7-2

Our verdict? We loved Exile and Return: Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther! The humor and quality are similar to the other videos in the What’s in the Bible line and ones that we will hang onto. It’s been in our house a week and has already been seen two other times!

One of the things that I personally have been most excited about with the DVDs from What’s in the Bible is how they are fitting in with our history curriculum, Mystery of History.  As the girls and I sat down to watch Exile and Return again later in the week, so much of the history that they were explaining in the DVD {about the country of Assyria, for example} just clicked with the girls because of what we’ve been studying in history. Having a fun visual to add another dimension to their history studies was a huge help!

To celebrate the release of the latest DVD, What’s in the Bible is offering a $5 off coupon code that is good until April 9, 2012. Just click on the coupon below and enter ESTHER at checkout for the discount ~ and receive free US shipping on orders over $15.



Thanks so much to What’s in the Bible for letting us be a part of the fun and learning!

Disclosure: This video was provided to me by What’s in the Bible for my honest opinion and review and does not need to be returned.