The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

We’ve been listening very heavily to a Maestro Classics CD called The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.  We’re actually going to be reviewing it, along with another Maestro Classics CD in a couple of weeks, but one of the things that the children have done without me ever asking them to do it was to make their own Sorcerer’s Apprentice artwork.

In fact, Rose has made one of her books, and I was going to share it with you today, just so you can see her enthusiasm over the music she has been listening to.  I’m going to narrate the story she wrote along with sharing her pictures.  She’s based her story on a mishmash of the narration on the CD and the images of the Disney Fantasia version.

Sorcerer's Apprentice

In a land far far away was a sorcerer and he had an apprentice.


The sorcerer left and left his apprentice one job–to fill up his well with water.  Once the sorcerer was gone, his apprentice said, “Why should I work so hard when a broom could do it for me?”  So, he got the hat off the shelf and the wand off the desk and he made the broom come alive.


He made the broom go to the river.  And he fell asleep in the chair and he had a dream.  He dreamed that he could move the mountains and move the rivers.  But his feet were getting wet.


When he woke up, he found out the well was overflowing.


He took an ax and chopped the broom, but little did he know that brooms could come back alive.


The brooms came in pairs.  They all wend down to the river and came back to the well and filled it up.


The sorcerer, when he came back stopped the river and did his arms back and forth to make the water stop.


Once the apprentice gave back his want and his hat, the sorcerer kicked him out of the room.  The end.


I really think her retelling of the story and her drawings are quite brilliant!  I’m also excited that she’s excited about the story and the music.  Firecracker’s also been drawing and making variations on the Sorcerer’s Apprentice theme, but nothing quite so elaborate as this.


Sock Animal Seals

When we were studying animals at co-op, I would often come up with a craft to go with each animal.  Sometimes my class was more like animal art than animal facts :-)

One of my favorite crafts that we did all semester were our sock animal seals.  I think I promised to write a post on it back in November when we actually did the activity, so now I’m fulfilling that promise!

Sock Animal Seals

Sock animal seals are actually very easy to make.  All you need is:

  • a children’s sized sock
  • fiberfill stuffing
  • google eyes
  • white felt
  • a black pom pom
  • black pipe cleaners

The very first thing that you do is to fill a sock with fiberfill until you get it just the right fullness that your child wants.  Then, you tie it shut.  Sometimes, I even use one of those black pipe cleaners and knot it.  If you don’t want the tie to show, you can bring the end of the sock back over the tie and glue.

As I talk about gluing, I recommend that you hot glue this project.  If your child is old enough, he/she can run the hot glue gun himself.  I know that often my 9 and 7 year olds prefer to do all their own gluing.

The next thing you’re going to do is to cut two fin shapes from white felt.  These fin shapes will look like a filled-in U.  Glue these to each side of the sock body.

Then, comes the fun part of making the face.  You’ll use two google eyes for eyes and a black pom pom as a nose.  You’ll also want to cut a couple of pipe cleaners in half and glue them down to make whiskers.

All done and ready for play!

We also love the printable crafts at LearnCreateLove.  We used a printable seal craft from Kimberly’s website as part of our learning fun!


The Wise Woman Review

We love to read.  In fact, I consider it a  good school day if we spend part of our day in the Bible and part of the day reading aloud.  So, when I received the chance to review The Wise Woman with Literary Analysis Journal Questions from Home School Adventure Co., I was very excited to add it to our read-aloud rotation.

The Wise Woman with Literary Analysis Journal Questions is a fourteen chapter classic book by George MacDonald.  Stacy Farrell has taken this classic work and added a dimension to it by creating 16-20 analysis questions to go with each chapter of the book.  These analysis questions are literature-based and also examine the morality of the characters’ actions.  There’s a section on vocabulary at the back of the book so that your child can write definitions for the often complex vocabulary words.

The Wise Woman is organized by chapter, and its use is flexible.  Farrell developed it to be used as a read-aloud for children aged nine to eleven.  Children ages 12 and up can use it for family discussion and analysis with parental guidance.  High schoolers could even work through the book independently.

I received the PDF download of the book which is priced at $14.95.  They also have print copies available for purchase for $28.95.

The Wise Woman tells the story of two young girls.  Both are horribly spoiled by their parents.  The first girl, Princess Rosamond, has developed behaviors that have brought her parents to such despair that they call for The Wise Woman.  The Wise Woman, knowing the poor child’s mistreatment at the hands of her parents, takes the princess to a little cottage in the woods to teach her how to be a good, strong moral person.  In other words, the Wise Woman sets out to give this child the moral training that her parents have neglected.

As Rosamond resists this training, her fate becomes in entangled with that of another spoiled young girl.  Agnes is the daughter of a shepherd and shepherdess.  All though they can’t spoil her with things the way that Rosamond’s parents have, they’ve inflated her pride and conceit to such a level that she feels as if she can do no wrong, and that is a pretty dangerous place to be.

Will Rosamond and Agnes ever learn moral character?  Will they ever become wise?  That is the story that George MacDonald sets out to answer, and along the way, if you’re paying attention, you as the reader will also learn some wisdom and confront some of your own personality flaws.

If you read this book as Farrell has formatted it with the analysis questions, you can’t help but confront your own flaws and wonder at ways that you can improve.  That’s the beauty of what Farrell has done in taking The Wise Woman and using literary analysis to draw the deeper message that affects everyone out of the text.

I used this text with my older two children who are currently nine and seven.  They are not reading independently well enough to actually read and understand this text on their own, and so we would sit and read a chapter a day as a read-aloud during our morning Bible time.  After we read the chapter, we would orally discuss the questions, and we would define any terms that the children needed help with.  Sometimes, I would also need to explain the older language of the text.

The children loved the book.  They would ask for their daily chapter and enjoy hearing what happened to Rosamond and to Agnes.  For the most part, they enjoyed answering the questions.  Twenty questions can be a lot for children that age, especially the ones that are part of the literary analysis with details and phrases.  If I had it to do over again, I would have probably just selected the questions that I felt were most appropriate for our discussion.

To give you a feel for the questions, here’s a random sampling of chapter one’s questions:

  • What does MacDonald say about the status of human contentment in this peculiar country?
  • At what point do Rosamond’s parents finally decide they need help?
  • When and where does this story take place?  Is it a real or imagined land?
  • Were the king and queen honest with Rosamond?  How do you know?

This was a good experience for us.  The children learned a lot from the story and from the discussions that we had.  I also had a lot to ponder as I read through the experience of the parents, the wise woman and the children.  I actually decided to tuck it away to use again with the children as an older middle school/younger high school resource, only next time we use it, I’ll have the children do a chapter a week and answer the questions as a journal.

One of the most important things I have pondered as a parent is actually a paragraph from Farrell’s introduction to the text.  She says:

Life is shorter. (Shorter than most of us realize.)  The window of opportunity to learn and laugh with our children closes all too soon.  with such limited time, we must carefully select which resources receive our attention.

This is true.  Lately, I have spent a great deal of time examining the value of the things that we watch, read, listen to, experience and learn.  The contrast of the virtues and vices in The Wise Woman makes it an object worthy of study and meditation.  Whether you use it as a casual family read-aloud as we did, or a more formal literature study, this is a study worth completing.

The Home School Adventure Co. is also offering a promo code for purchases right now.  If you decide to buy a PDF copy of any of their books/curricula, you can receive 10% off if you use the CREW-10 code that’s in the box below.  This promo code is valid through May 15th.

Home School Adventure Co.Crew DisclaimerClick to read Crew Reviews

God is Just Not Fair Review

God Is Just Not Fair: Finding Hope When Life Doesn’t Make Sense is written by Jennifer Rothschild, a lady who knows what it feels like to think that God is not fair.  After all, she lost her vision in her teens and has went through life blind since.  Still, she found that the key to happiness and spiritual fulfillment was to trust God and to see him in the darkness.

This book is about the questions that we all wrestle with about God.  These questions are: (1) God, are you fair? (2) God, do you err? (3) God, do you hear prayer? (4) God, do you care? (5) God, are you aware? and (6) God, are you there?

Although Rothschild takes an earnest look at these questions, her purpose in writing this book is not to help us acquire more knowledge about God.  Her purpose in dealing with the questions is to encourage us to get closer to God.  In fact, she states in the book, “What matters most is not the questions but the heart of the questioner.”

I found this book to be valuable.  If you’re not going through a time in your life when God didn’t make sense, you will before too long, so this book is a great reference for anyone.  So often, I felt conviction when I remembered how so many times the prayers that I considered unanswered were (in retrospect) some of God’s greatest blessings and prayers that I’m grateful now weren’t answered the way that I had wished.

I’ve highlighted so many pages in this book that in some chapters there’s more highlighted than what isn’t highlighted.  This one is going on my permanent collection shelf.  This book is going to be one that I recommend for all my friends.  This book is gentle and yet powerful all at the same time.

It’s true that God isn’t fair.  If he were fair, he wouldn’t have died for us.  If he were fair, we’d all receive the eternal punishment that we’ve earned.  Thank God that he isn’t fair!

Disclaimer:  I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes from Zondervan.  I was not required to write a positive review.

This Week: Owlet’s Birthday!

This week was exciting.  We had an Owlet who turned three.  She got lots of new princess and My Little Pony toys, had lots of cake and was generally sweet and happy.  She did finish out her week with an ear infection and ruptured eardrum, but she hasn’t let that slow her down very much. :-)Owlet's birthday

We had what I would refer to as a semi-spring breakish kind of week.  Last week was the same.  Last week we did school work three days and this week three!  The children are also going to be breaking today for Good Friday and a bit of Easter clothes shopping, so hopefully, we’ll get back into a regular routine next week.

The preschoolers continued thinking about apples.  We started making the Apple Pie Tree lapbook from Homeschool Share  As you can see from the collage below, they are very serious about their glue usage.

Apple Pie Tree

The preschoolers also participated in our art lessons this week.  I think all the children did a great job.  I wrote specifically about Firecracker’s painting earlier this week in my weed whacking post.

ARTistic Pursuits

We did accomplish a good bit of reading this week.  We finished Little House in the Big WoodsAngry Birds Furious Forces and Angry Birds Playground: Atlas.  We also read The Apple Pie Tree to go with the preschool lapbook we’ve been working on.   At co-op, I read You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Samurai! to my class and we began making some samurai apparel.


We got back to our Charlie and the Chocolate Factory notebooks this week.  We completed a writing assignment on what our newspaper story would look like if we’d won the golden ticket.  I haven’t done a lot of creative writing with the children, so it’s interesting to see how how creative they can be.  This notebooking page came from The Chaos and The Clutter.



We also started some literature guides from Progeny Press this week.  I’m excited to get started with them!  I feel like we’re taking our literature studies and making them more helpful.



We finally got started with our history program.  This week we did lessons on Native Americans and Leif Erickson.  I’m looking forward to using the program, and I’ve had the children make notebook pages for each of the lessons so far.  Rose is very excited about her notebook pages.



The children have continued their obsession with The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.  They’ve branched out from listening to the CD to creating their own artwork based on the story.  We’re also taking a try at making sorcerer’s hats.  Maybe I’ll have a finished hat to show you next week.



We’ve spent a little time the past two weeks tying up a loose end.  We were working on Sunny Seashells a few months ago, and we decided we wanted to come back and finish it up.  We’re finally finished!  Yay!


We also continued working on our Star Chronicles unit study.  This week we traced some star charts.

Star Chronicles

We also worked on Who Is God? this week.  We’re discovering the ways to build your life on the rock.

Who is God

Firecracker also had to work on his standardized testing.  We’re finally finished!

Rose worked on making some paper model Easter crafts from Disney’s Spoonful website.

I also have laughed my head of recently at Monkey.  He’s been going around about all the time with one sock on and one sock off.  I don’t know why, but it’s just so silly and so him.



That’s about it for our week!  Happy Easter everyone!


Homegrown Learners

Weed Whacking!

The children have created a lot of art this week.  In fact, they’ve created a bunch of art lately because we’ve been using ARTistic Pursuits: Introduction to the Visual Arts.

This week we completed a lesson about showing emotion in our art.  The idea behind the lesson is that just as a writer uses words to convey emotions, an artist has to use motion, color and body language in a painting.

Then, we all completed paintings to show emotions.  We actually drew a drawing with our ebony pencils first.  Then, we used watercolor crayons to fill in the color.  (Watercolor crayons are awesome because you color first and then add water.  It’s great for a child who likes to have more precise control over his or her paint.)

Of all our paintings, Firecracker’s painting ended up being my favorite.  He had learned how to operate a weed eater while he was with my father one afternoon last week.  He decided to draw about the experience.

As you can see, there are the lines of weeds and Grandad operating the weed eater to cut them down to size.  I love my Dad’s glasses and the look of concentration on his face.

Firecracker is the little boy standing behind Grandad.  As you can see, he’s in open-mouthed amazement at the weed eater.

Even better than that, is the sun smiling down on Firecracker and Grandad.  Yes!  You’re correct if you notice that the sun is using actual guns to shoot out beams of light on the day.  The sky is completely yellow from the beams of light being shot all over the place.  I had to smile at this because Firecracker doesn’t even know what a surrealist is yet, but he managed to make a painting that has a hugely surrealistic image in it.



So, there it is, my favorite piece that the children have created this week.  I think I’ll just pin it up here on my virtual refrigerator!


April Cross Stitch Update

I feel like jumping up and down!  I finished Parrot Floral II last week!  Here is a quick view of the finished stitching.



I’ve still got to see if there are any spots to clean and iron it.  My plan is then to stretch the design over canvas because  I think it would make a great canvas, especially for the girls’ room.  I think the bright colors would go well with their bubblegum pink walls :-)  I’ll definitely add it to next month’s update when I get it stretched and finished, so that you can see it the way it has always been in my head.

Since I was so productive last week, I also started stitching a Christmas card.  It’s a free kit that came inside a World of Cross-Stitching magazine called “Festive Rudolph.”  I don’t actually have the designer’s name on it, but he’s certainly going to be cute.


Rose was totally scandalized that I was starting a Christmas stitch, but my plan is to make lots of ornaments and cards, both for our tree and for gifts for this year.  (So, friends and family, if you see something in the upcoming months that you’d like to have, let me know  :-) )  I’m a pretty slow stitcher since I have so many other things keeping me busy, so I need to get started doing a few things in between other projects now!