Category: delight directed days

delight directed dayshomeschool arthomeschool helpsProduct Review

Beyond the Stick Figure- A Review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way

It is rare that my children leave the house without some form of art material in hand. My oldest will likely have a career in art. He is quite brilliant (and I’m not just saying that because I am his mother). He spends hours and hours learning and practicing and creating. His sisters have followed in his steps. The most coveted items in our home are drawing notebooks and colored pencils. When the opportunity to review Beyond the Stick Figure Complete Drawing Course PLUS 3 Bonus Courses from Beyond the Stick Figure Art School came our way, I was thrilled to take it.

The creator of Beyond the Stick Figure is Sally. She moved to the United States in her twenties. She is a homeschool mom of eight kids. She holds a degree in art and is very passionate.

The Beyond the Stick Figure Complete Drawing Course PLUS 3 Bonus Courses includes:

  • Complete Drawing Course
  • Pen and Ink
  • Watercolor
  • Acrylic
  • 3D Design

The way the online platform is designed is to be completed step by step. You cannot skip any steps. You must complete them one at a time. The lessons are short videos (3-8 minutes long) that encourage a hands on work. For the purposes of this review, we completed Drawing Part 1.

I once heard a speaker at a homeschool conference talking about how we learn. He was using the violin as an example. He was talking about how we often try to classify things in a grade level, but when any person begins a musical instrument (in this case violin), they start with level 1… no matter their age. I find that to be true with so many things… art included. When learning a skill, you start at the beginning. Beyond the Stick Figure Art School is designed for ages 5-95. Drawing Part 1 began very simple with learning about circles, dots, curvy lines and straight lines. Even the fifteen year old who is incredibly talented sat down and learned alongside us without complaint. He especially enjoys the dislike for math that he and instructor Sally share. He smirked on more than one occassion as she got her jabs at math in there.

Because the lessons are so short and manageable, we took one or two days a week to sit together and watch. Depending on the attention span of the kids at the moment, we watched anywhere from 2-4 videos at a time. Most of the kids were excited to watch and learn. I have one that is very concrete- loves math and science. She is not abstract in her thinking at all. She does enjoy drawing, but only within her comfort zone. There were many tears when I asked her to join us. When I asked her what she liked about the course, she said… “I like the lady’s accent… and that she tells us to click our markers closed.”

The instructor is kind and fun. She does not expect perfection from her students and often says, “Have fun with that!” Each lesson builds on the previous one with lots of time to practice and hone the skill. I have one child that likes to know where something is headed. This isn’t always the case with the Beyond the Stick Figure Courses. For example, she introduces circles, dots, and lines and has the students practice looking for and drawing these objects in the first few lessons. Eventually, they come together to draw a flower. For my child that likes to see where something is going, it is difficult to take it step by step… difficult, but good. It makes her slow down and learn to enjoy the process.

When completing the lesson in part one about primary and secondary colors, the instructor mentioned how this knowledge will come in handy in the painting course. The child pictured above was so excited to know that painting is coming!

My table is now covered with all these quarter and eighth sheets of paper. You will have to buy materials to accompany the class. For drawing, we purchased some extra printer paper and a set of Prismacolor markers. Art isn’t cheap! If you want to do it well, it is worth the investment.

The bonus courses included in our Beyond the Stick Figure Art School package include: The three courses are Pen and Ink Techniques and Complete Watercolor, Introduction to Acrylic, and Introduction to 3D Design. Once we have completed the Complete Drawing Course, parts 1-3, we will be able to access the bonus content. My son is especially looking forward to the Pen and Ink and Watercolor.

Art can be intimidating for many homeschool moms. It is often something that is put on the back burner or forgotten completely. I would really encourage you to look into the courses offered from Beyond the Stick Figure Art School. I know that at first glance, the price may seem high. Keep in mind, though, you receive a 3 part drawing course and 3 bonus courses. You can use the materials for the entire family. And… you receive a life time access. Even after completing the 196 steps, you can revisit topics again and again.

We are a very art focused family, and I am actually one of the homeschool moms who feels confident and adept at teaching art… but it is still hard for me to set aside the time and effort. Having courses like the ones from Beyond the Stick Figure are a huge help in our homeschool life.

Be sure to follow Beyond the Stick Figure on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/beyondthestickfigure/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/britladyinamerica/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/beyondthestickfigureart/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCROy5BkqT_cZvQu1dTPRYzw

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delight directed daysProduct Review

Fermentools Starter Kit- A Review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way

Are you even a homeschooler if you don’t ferment stuff every now and then??? With gardening season upon us, now is the perfect time to learn a new skill! The Fermentools Starter Kit has everything you need to get started in food fermenting!

Fermentools Airlock Systems were specially designed with the home fermenter in mind. No need to buy an expensive, bulky crock ever again. Now you can turn any wide-mouthed Mason Jar of any size into the perfect fermenting vessel!

From the Fermentools Website

Fermentools is a family owned business, based in the United States. Their supplies are built to last. Fermented foods are rich in probiotic bacteria so by consuming fermented foods you are adding beneficial bacteria and enzymes to your overall intestinal flora, increasing the health of your gut microbiome and digestive system and enhancing the immune system.

The Starter Kit from Fermentools includes:

  • 1 Stainless Steel Lid – Made from 304 surgical stainless steel
  • 1 Glass Fermentation Weight – Made to fit inside the standard widemouthed Mason jar 
  • 1 Air Lock.
  • 2 Rubber Stoppers (1 with hole for airlock – 1 solid).
  • 1 Rubber Canning Gasket.
  • Himalayan Powdered Salt – Himalayan sea salt has over 80 trace minerals and is ground fine enough to easily mix with cold water.
  • Instruction Guide and Basic Sauerkraut recipe.

The kit contains enough of the Himalayan Powedered Salt to complete several fermenting projects, but you will need the other materials for each jar you choose to use. You’ll notice that the wide mouth mason jar is not included. You will need to purchase that separately.

The instructions for basic sauerkraut are very easy to follow. Make sure you don’t skip a step or read through too quickly… you could end up with mold or stinkier than expected, some what fermented cabbage… just saying. Although sauerkraut is a very easy, beginner’s entry to the world of fermenting, my family just aren’t a fan. The picky-ness factor in this household is astounding. But… I won’t give up! We will give it another go with different fruits and veggies this summer!! I’m particularly excited to try the healthy, probiotic mayonnaise recipe listed under condiments on the website.

You can find receipes for the following on the Fermentools website:

We are excited to use our Fermentools Starter Kit as our garden kicks off this year. We always plant plenty of beans and cucumbers. Honestly.. until we received the kit, I knew very little about fermentation. I have friends that make kombucha and neighbors who eat kimchi… but that’s about where my knowledge ends.

Fermentools is offering our readers a 15% discount until June 30th! Take advantage of this great deal. Use the code: CREW2020.

Even though restrictions are starting to lift in various places around the country, it looks like social distancing is going to be the norm for a while. I don’t know about you, but our summer plans have been turned upside down! The more home-based projects the better. Fermentools offers very reasonable prices on their products. Fermenting is a helpful step towards healthy guts! Read more from Fermentools on why you should ferment!

Be sure to follow Fermentools on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fermentools/
Instagram: http://instagram.com/fermentools/
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/fermentools/

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Virtual Games to Play During Quarantine

Do you find yourself in a sea of Zoom meetings and Facetime? Or maybe your kids are missing their friends and craving interaction? I am blessed to work in youth ministry. We have been working hard to plan times for connection for the group. We have Bible studies and weekly check ins. This week we added in a weekly game meet up. I’m compiling a list of games to use with the students and wanted to share them with you… the interwebs.

Scavenger Hunt

I’ve seen a few different ways to do this one. You can share an image like one of the ones below (found on Google) and have everyone send in a picture or screen share a picture when you meet up virtually.

We put together a virtual scavenger hunt for our youth using Google Slides. I hosted the meeting on Zoom and used the screen sharing feature to present the objects.

You are welcome to use the hunt we put together. The rules are simple… the camera has to stay stationary. Everyone has to be seated in front of their device until the object is presented… then they race to find it and bring it back. We did that the first five people to return get a point. It has ten objects as well as three bonus/ tie breakers. Click on the image below:

Two Truths and a Lie

Instruct each player to think of three statements about themselves. Two must be true statements, and one must be false. For each person, he or she shares the three statements (in any order) to the group. The goal of the icebreaker game is to determine which statement is false. The group votes on which one they feel is a lie, and at the end of each round, the person reveals which one was the lie.

Never Have I Ever

Players hold up all ten fingers. You take turns making declarative statements of things you have never done. If a play HAS done the thing, they have to put down a finger. Once their ten fingers are all down, they are out of the game.

Example:

Speaker: Never have I ever been to Disney World

Players who HAVE been to Disney World have to put down a finger.

Story Train

Create a continuous story. One person gives the opening sentence (or word), then the next person adds on the next sentence (or word). Continue until everyone has had a chance to contribute to the story.

Twenty Questions

There are no preparations or special materials required to play. This game works best with a small groups of about 2 to 5 players.

Select one person to begin Twenty Questions. This person is designated as “it.” For each round, this person must choose any person, place, or thing. The person can be living (e.g. a current athlete or classmate), deceased (e.g. a famous person in history), or fictitious (e.g. cartoon or movie character). The place can be anywhere in the world, including creative places. The thing can be an inanimate object, an animal, a food, etc. Basically anything can be chosen, but try to make the selected item something that can be reasonably guessed. It’s no fun to play a guessing game that is impossible to solve!

After the person has chosen a person, place, or thing, the guessing begins! The other players take turns and ask “yes” or “no” questions in an attempt to figure out what the chosen answer is. That is, the questions must be answered with simply “Yes” or “No.” After each guess, keep track of the number of guesses that are used until it reaches the limit of 20.

Once 20 questions are used up, players may not ask any more questions. If a player correctly guesses the object before then, they become “it” for the next game and choose the next person, place, or thing. Otherwise, the answer is revealed.

Yahtzee

This one is easy to play in the traditional manner. Each player will require 5 dice and their own score card. If your friends don’t own Yahtzee, they can print a scoresheet online.

Players should show their dice rolls using video chat so everyone can see what they are doing. Otherwise, play in the traditional manner.

CLICK HERE for the directions for Yahtzee.

Chess

Similar to Yahtzee, each person needs to have their own board. Communication is key with this one.

Both players will have to record every move on their own gameboard so each person has to communicate their move very clearly. This is easier on boards that have the grid labeled with numbers and letters. But even without a labeled grid, you can show your board to communicate your move.

Hangman

One player thinks of a word or phrase; the others try to guess what it is one letter at a time. The player draws a number of dashes equivalent to the number of letters in the word. If a guessing player suggests a letter that occurs in the word, the other player fills in the blanks with that letter in the right places. If the word does not contain the suggested letter, the other player draws one element of a hangman’s gallows. As the game progresses, a segment of the gallows and of a victim is added for every suggested letter not in the word. The number of incorrect guesses before the game ends is up to the players, but completing a character in a noose provides a minimum of six wrong answers until the game ends. The first player to guess the correct answer thinks of the word for the next game.

One Word Game

This game kind of has to work on the honor system. The person who is “it” has to promise to close their eyes while the others collaborate.

“It” will close their eyes while the host of the game holds up an object. They will put the object down. “It” can open their eyes. The other participants have to try to get “it” to guess the object… but they can only give clues one word at a time. The clues cannot include any parts of the name of the object.

Example:

Host holds up a pencil sharpener

Person 1: shavings

Person 2: pointy

Person 3: draw

Person 4: wood

Would You Rather

Ask random “Would You Rather” Questions and hear the different answers/ opinions.

HERE and HERE and HERE are some great lists of questions.

The Toilet Paper Game

I KNOW y’all have toilet paper at your house!!! Tell everyone in the group to go get “how much toilet paper you need” … if they ask, “Need for what?” Just smile and say, “Go get however much toilet paper you usually use.”

When everyone is gathered, each person has to tell a fact about themselves for each square they are holding.

Who is It?

Have everyone in the group privately message an interesting fact about themselves to the host. The host will read out a fact and everyone has to try to guess who it is about.

Camera Roll

Host will shout out a number. Everyone has to find a picture on their camera roll matching the number and share it.

Example:

The host says 7

Everyone finds the 7th picture on their camera roll and shares it with the group.

How are you guys passing the time these days? How are you mainting community and connection? What about your kids? How are they doing?

Comment below and share your social distancing interaction ideas!

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Building Challenge Round Up and *Free* Printable

I thought the days of Lego were long gone in our house. My oldest, who is turning 15 this weekend, packed up his bricks and sent them to the playroom a couple of years ago. He used to spend hours building, making stop motion videos, creating, exploring. I cried when he was done.

We recently remodeled our playroom to turn it into a giant bedroom for my three girls to share. The Legos were still there, but in tubs, sealed and pushed under the beds to make room for other things… American Girl, Barbie, and the like.

Our family has started watching Lego Masters on Fox. I will give a heads up that while this show is *mostly* family friendly, there is some language here and there… and some colorful backstories. With that being said, we have thoroughly enjoyed the challenges and watching the builders create. They are having to pull from creative as well as scientific thinking to accomplish the tasks given.

As you can imagine, watching the show has sparked a renewed interest in the bricks I thought were forever forgotten. I have been hearing the distinct sound of rustling through the lego bin coming up from the girls’ room.

During this time of social distancing, let me do some of the leg work for you and share links to some really creative building challenges.

Lego Duplo Pendulum Painting

Lego Brain Puzzles

Lego Tic Tac Toe

Rocket Cars

Wind Racers

Zip Line

Secret Codes

Self- Portrait

Marble Maze

Nerf Targets

Upside Down Challenge

Spinning Tops

A few other challenges could be: a bridge that holds 3 pounds, a robot, an aircraft, 100 bricks, bricks of only one color, a structure 12 inches tall, something to wear, a boat that floats, a national landmark. The possibilities are endless.

Challenge your builders to complete 20 challenges in 20 days.

They can keep up with their creations with this FREE Record sheet. You could take a picture every time a challenge is completed. Print your pictures and put together a book at the end of the 20 days!

Click the text BELOW the image to download the FREE Record Keeping Printable.

Click here to download your free printable:

Here’s a fun idea you could use to build community: Set up a Facebook group or Google Hangouts or a Zoom meeting… have your kids meet once a day or every couple of days to share their creations. Issue the building challenges to the kids in your community and see what they come up with!!!

Need more ideas for challenges??? Check out my No Prep Building Challenge Printable Pack on Teachers Pay Teachers. It includes 100 building challenge cards, a challenge checklist, a certificate of completion, and a record keeping sheet (different from the one above).

I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to see what creations your builders dream up. If you post on Instagram, be sure to tag me: @thedelightdirectedhomeschooler

delight directed dayshomeschool helps

Homeschooling with Wide Margins

When I speak about unschooling, or delight directed learning, I use the phrase “wide margins.” I use it in the sense that, in order to cultivate a love for learning and a lifestyle of homeschool, there has to be space held sacred. It is in those sacred spaces where true learning takes place and passion ignites.

Facebook groups, Instagram, Message Boards, Forums, friends, family, aquaintances, the church, the world, your kids… would all like to tell you how to homeschool. All those voices can lead to sensory overload and a ton of mom-guilt. Am I doing this right? Am I failing them? Why don’t my kids look like those kids over there? Are we doing enough? Am I enough?

Keeping wide margins in the homeschool day, week, month, and year allows space for exploration. This can feel out of control and unproductive at times. In our fast paced world, to have space for nothing in particular feels awkward and weird and somehow coming up short. Because if someone happens to ask what you did all day, and your answer is “Nothing really. The kids were in their hammocks for two hours”… well… I mean… what do you do with that?

Holding wide margins and creating sacred space means that I know the weather was unbelievably beautiful that day. Rain was in the forecast and I told the kids to take advantage of the nice day. I know that their dad built them a hammock stand to go with their hammocks they received from their grandmother for Christmas. I know that they spent some of that time reading and some of that time playing charades with each other. I know that they cloud watched and sang and breathed in the spring like air. I know all four of my children who are in very different stages of life spent time together. I know their time was not wasted and I am happy with two hours in the hammock.

I know these things, but still it feels like wasted time. I have to remind myself that it is not. Space to be still. Space to be bored. Space and time to be creative… these are important. Dare I say, they are more important that book learning as we know it.

I guess it comes down to what we value and why we choose to homeschool. In ten years, twenty years, thirty years… what do I want for my children? What will have mattered? What are the things I hope will stick? Here are my top five:

  1. Love for Jesus and the Kingdom
  2. Biblical Literacy
  3. Love of reading
  4. Creativity
  5. Friendship- that they would be good friends and have good friends

I could keep going. Strange how double digit multiplication or frog dissections are not on my list. I am not saying those things are not important. I think whatever my kids are working on, they should give it their best effort. They should invest and follow the steps to gain information and knowledge.

But at the end of the day… it’s in those wide margins of space that passion ignites.

What do I mean… on a real life level? How do we get from the idea to the reality?

This girl has been asking me to teach her how to make earrings for the last couple of weeks. We inherited a bag full of jewelry making supplies from some dear friends and she had found it when we were recently cleaning out. Creating wide margins looked like taking the time to teach her and giving her space to create. She worked for an hour one night and then got right back to it as soon as she woke up the next morning. She is my early bird… usually up at least an hour before the rest of the crew. Space also meant giving her a physical space to be messy and spread out. This jewelry making project spilled into our “school time”… but that’s ok. She was being creative and learning and making and gaining confidence as she went.

While big sis was busy making earrings, this gal wanted a project as well. Part of creating these wide margins is a willingness on my part to put aside my agenda and take the time to teach. This friendship bracelet maker was in the supplies we received from our friend. It took all of five minutes for us to look up and watch a tutorial on using the contraption (similar to this one)… then little sis was well on her way to making a bracelet and I was able to get back to work on a project I needed to finish.

When my son was in middle school, he found his love of film making. Wide margins allowed him to write, direct, and edit his own movie. He cast several of his friends, sent them scripts and a schedule with different dates and filming locations. Wide margins allowed me to drive middle schoolers all over the mountains of Western North Carolina and then put on a party when the movie was completed so they could watch all they had accompished.

Wide margins allow for spontaneous game play or working puzzles. We have a shelf of games in our school room. I am thrilled when I find my kids plopped down on the floor, deep into a game. Puzzles… I could take them or leave them… I actually hate them… there’s a history… I’ll spare you the details. However… my kids enjoy them. So I can hold space for them to enjoy something even if I don’t.

I was knee deep in work one day. I get pretty focused and probably missed the part where I approved this little experiment. My brain tuned in long enough to hear, “We are going out to bow and arrow.” They had been in the garage and found a box full of old bows and arrows another homeschool mom had dropped off. A quick talk about safety… you know.. don’t shoot each other… or the chickens… and off they went for hours of fun.

Wide margins. It is not always possible. Some seasons are busier than others. Our Spring fills up fast with theater and soccer and other commitments (who said homeschoolers aren’t social???). My encouragement is to create sacred spaces in your homeschool. Allow for boredom that leads to creativity. Don’t be afraid of the chaos and mess. I am currently surrounded by earring pieces, math papers, an Ozobot, and friendship bracelet yarn. It accurately captures the beautiful chaos of my day.

One quick tip I’ll share and then I’m finished. I have learned in the last few weeks to change the mindset about school with one simple change in wording. So as to not devalue or make assumptions that jewelry making and playing games and hammocking are not school, I have stopped saying, “I need you to come do ‘school'” and started saying, “I need you to come sit with me and do language arts.” or “I need you to spend some time now on your math paper.” It gives the idea, at least for me, that school is not limited to certain things… but rather a culture of learning that defines our days.

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