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Weekly Wrap-Up: Fabulous February

Weekly Warp Up Fabulous February Button @HarmonyFineArts

What a great month of learning Mr. B is having! February is always a month that seems to go smoothly…routines are set, materials are familiar, and the light at the end of the tunnel starts to get brighter. Especially for us, this is going to be a fast track to May as Mr. B finishes each subject and readies himself for the SAT and graduation.

So what has he been up to?

Art Lab for Kids Collage Text and Charcoal

Lots and lots of artwork! He is still making his way through Art Lab for Kids and finding some projects are more enjoyable than he first anticipated. I love the way this book encourages exploration with both creative ideas and materials.

History has been filled with lots of reading, working on his timeline, and notebooking pages. We also have mixed in some Middle Eastern geography using many of the pages from Mr. B is trying to go deeper and with more current news stories with his exploring this region of the world.

Literature using Excellence in Literature from IEW has helped Mr. B go a bit deeper with Sir Gawain. He is learning how to do some comparing and analysis that will help with his SAT writing coming up next month. I am not worried about his writing and wish I could share his last essay on The Scarlet Letter. I told him I couldn’t find a single thing to be critical about in the whole paper, nothing but positive feedback. Thanks IEW.

Math and anatomy study are just chugging along….working on finishing both courses soon.

Snowy Day Tissue Star on the Door Collage

We had our first snow of the season this week too….interrupting school for an afternoon while we sat and watched the magic happen. I never tire of watching it snow, probably because we only have snow a few days out of the year and it is still fun and not a burden.

This next week Mr. B has a week off from his regular studies to pursue some special projects and volunteer work. I look forward to catching up on my paperwork.

Amanda Bolivian Adventure Button

Many of you have emailed wanting to know how Amanda is doing on her Bolivian adventure. Well, she made it to Santa Cruz with no incidents. She is now getting accustomed to very different living conditions. She is able to connect with us when she is able to find wi-fi. We were able to have a very long chat on Wednesday….which helps.

So there is my very brief wrap-up for the month of February….we are off this coming week so I won’t be posting my next weekly wrap-up until sometime in March!


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IEW – Giving Them Something To Write About

IEW is it worth the price @HarmonyFineArts

Question from Reader: I read your review of IEW on both The Curriculum Choice and your personal blog. I’m thinking of purchasing IEW for our homeschooling next year and was hoping I could ask you a question on the program.  It’s a pricey program, so I’m more hesitant to jump the gun and buy it without thoroughly researching it. Is it worth the price?

Writing has not always been easy for me. I can clearly remember the days of my growing up years when my teacher would assign the inevitable “What I Did Over Summer Vacation” essay. I would sit with pencil poised over the blank paper but the words wouldn’t come freely. My mind would go blank. My stomach would start to hurt. I would tell myself to just write something on the paper. So it would go…I would put something down and eventually feel like a failure because it was boring and lifeless.

Fast forward to when I started to homeschool my own children. At that time there were very few writing programs for homeschoolers and I tried to put my own plan together. My children would receive an assignment and I would see in their eyes the same look I must have had when I was a young writer with nothing to say. I knew that there must be a better way than the way I had been taught to write. Where was it?

Unfortunately, it wasn’t until years later that I found the answer. I had heard of IEW but had been put off by the price tag. I wasn’t willing to invest the money in a program that I wasn’t convinced was necessary or would work with my boys. That was until I went to a convention and actually heard Andrew Pudewa speak.

IEW is different than other writing programs because it gives your child the tools needed to write along with giving them something to write about. Children at first do not pull the ideas or facts for their writing pieces from thin air. They are given something to write about whether it is a retelling of a story, a mini-research report, or a super essay. They can concentrate on the writing skills. Writing at first is done using models and a framework.

As the child gains confidence, they can begin to put their voice into their writing. This is done with their particular style, vocabulary, and point of view.

So if you see that look in your child’s eyes, look into the Institute for Excellence in Writing’s program. I urge you to look past the price tag and really think about what a gift it is to give your children…the gift of confidence in their writing. You can read my thorough review of the Teaching Writing: Structure and Style program over on The Curriculum Choice.

Do you struggle with teaching writing?



Writing an Essay Using IEW and Notebook Page




Weekly Wrap Up: High School Senior Year Almost Over

We have been super busy with so many things around here that I have neglected my Weekly Wrap Up posts. Lots of high school learning and life skills have filled our days which always makes the time fly by. I love watching my kids work together on Hearts and Trees kits, planning and then implementing all the really fun ideas. Mr. B has finished his first community college course and is going to continue with another class next semester. We took a family weekend trip to the mountains and enjoyed a snowy/rainy time and ate lots of yummy foods.

Now for his homeschool academics…

Pre-Calculus: I am thankful for Teaching Textbooks every week! Mr. B is able to pull up any problems he needs to wrestle with on the CDs and watch the step by step instructions to get him over the hump. I value this math program and know that Mr. B will be prepared for any more math he may need in the future.


Excellence in Literature from IEW: Just finishing Canterbury Tales and moving on to Great Expectations! These are both books he has read before but this time he can read with lots of background and context information from the guide. He followed up the Canterbury Tales with a writing piece that blew my socks off. I had to really dig to find anything to find fault with….his concluding sentence could have been better and so could his title. Now that was digging!

Human Anatomy: He finished his unit on the cardiovascular system and now he is working on the gastro-intestinal system. I am finally satisfied that we have found a rhythm for this course…not too much busy work and a little lee-way for him to follow his interest once he gets started. I know that today his DVD course was pretty graphic…more than once I heard a the professor speaking about “projectile vomiting”. Mr. B didn’t seem to mind.

20th Century History: Tapestry of Grace history for the rhetoric stage in Year 4 is rather rich if you can afford all the books. We ended up purchasing the required core books and Mr. B is enjoying the selections. I do love when he comes to me and reads aloud a section and then proceeds to tell me where he hears bias. He is finding this a lot in his internet research of various topics surrounding things like the Vietnam War and the various presidents of the 50’s and 60’s. The very best part of this era in history is being able watch primary source videos on YouTube. John F. Kennedy’s speeches, the Civil Rights leaders and their own words, and videos of the space program at its beginnings. We also have been taking advantage of quite a few movies from Netflix which let the whole family be a part of the learning.

High School Standard Equipment: Fancy Calculator and His Bike

Art and Music: I have been sharing quite a bit of our art here on the blog so you have seen his projects. We are finished with Miro and Calder and now are moving on to Escher and then finally Rizzi for the term. After that, I am trying to convince Mr. B that he needs to pick a Senior Project for his final fine arts credit. I have left the door wide open as far as topic and I am hoping we can come up with something that he will enjoy and will be his crowning glory as we finish off a long run of Harmony Fine Arts. Any suggestions are welcome….just leave me a comment or email me with any ideas you have for a long term Senior Project in Studio Art or Fine Arts.

We have one more week of school for the term and the calendar year and then three weeks off. I am planning on recapping our term in one last Weekly Wrap Up post this month though so stay tuned for that one.

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