One of the very best ways to help our kids get excited about history and remember what they’ve learned is by making meaningful connections. Take Time for Art does an awesome job of doing just that, by bringing together audio, video, visuals, and really cool art projects into one fabulous program that makes history study so exciting and accessible! About a year ago I got to meet Take Time for Art founder Penny Mayes, and I was so excited to hear about the way she has combined art and history into a program that I know other homeschool families will love.
My teenage sons and I got to work through the Ancient Greece program at Take Time for Art. (They also offer Ancient Egypt and Ancient Rome) In this program we got to watch 15 different well-done streaming videos that taught us about various aspects of Ancient Greece, such as the ancient Minoans, the Mycenean civilization, the dark ages, Athens, the Hellenistic period, and several forms of art such as metal tooling, fresco paintings, pottery, wartime clothing, and more. Each section of history is followed by an art project that’s inspired by that era. The video walks you through each step of the process of creating the art, and the convenient art supplies pack contained all the materials we needed in order to complete the projects. (except for a few basic items that you would be sure to have on hand)
For the Ancient Greece program we got to make the following projects:
a color wheel (which is referred back to in later projects–a great starting point for understanding the relationships between colors!)
a watercolor fresco painting of an octopus
a metal tooling landscape project (the other option was to make a Mask of Agamemnon, which was also super cool. But we fell in love with these textures and all selected the landscape project. They are so pretty in person!)
a Greek warrior helmet (we had the option to make it with or without a crest and other adornments. It is really cool, and yes, you can even wear your finished helmet!)
a terra cotta tile art project that I really enjoyed! I have never worked with terra cotta tiles, and I liked the surface and the way the marker color sinks into the surface. We could have chosen a horse image for the tile as well. Bonus fun was that we were able to heat this in our oven for 30 minutes, which makes the artwork on it longer-lasting!
One of the things I really like about this program is the variety of projects available. Within this one program we got to learn a lot of history while also trying out several completely different types of art that we would not have thought up on our own. Even better, within each project there are choices, sometimes an either-or option, sometimes an easier/more difficult option. I love it that this gives the kids options and allows them to choose the thing they are most excited about. This is also great because the program will work for the typical homeschool family that has many different ages of children represented in their family. Middle elementary kids could certainly do these projects with some assistance, but there is definitely enough challenge for high schoolers and parents to participate as well! I personally enjoyed doing some of the projects myself, and got to learn about art materials that I had never worked with before.
The other thing I love about this is that the projects are guided. Sure, total creativity is exciting and cool, but not everybody’s mind works like that. Participating in a guided art activity gives us the opportunity to work with materials and techniques that we may not be familiar with, and offers a jumping off point for future creative endeavors. I am solidly in the camp of believing that BOTH guided art experiences AND free time to create art are valuable. (for parents and kids alike!)
These are not fluff projects. Each one is meaty, involved, takes several hours to complete (some are done over the course of more than one day), and produces a very nice piece of finished work for you to enjoy. Your kids will be proud of their art work!
Budget-conscious moms may be tempted to wonder if they really need a separate art supply pack for each child. You will definitely want to get one per person. Sure, there are a couple items included that could possibly be shared between kids, but for the most part each person will need all the supplies provided, and it will be less confusing and complicated when everybody has all the materials they need. I really appreciated how organized the art supplies kit was, how carefully the bendable items were packaged and protected, and that having all of it together made it possible for us to actually do these projects. If I had needed to track down all the materials from the store, or worry about dividing them up between several children, that would probably have been enough of a barrier to make me not get it done. Take Time for Art has made it about a simple as possible to watch the streaming videos and complete the projects! Perfect for busy homeschool families.
I can see Take Time for Art being a wonderful addition to your more formal studies about the coordinating time period. I think it would work well as a once-a-week or twice a month supplement and reinforcement where you would watch one of the history videos, and then work on the next art project. Your kids will love the change of pace, plus they’ll have some really cool finished projects to display in their bedrooms or in your home that will also help them recall the time period and historical information related to the piece.
Alaska! With the popularity of TV shows like Deadliest Catch, Gold Rush, Alaska The Last Frontier, Life Below Zero, and many others over the past ten years or so, many people have become freshly inspired and amazed by the unique features of this wild and remote land. If your family is one that has caught Alaska fever, you will be delighted to know about a new book series called Aunt Phil’s Trunk.
This amazing collection of stories started with the author’s beloved Aunt Phil, who was an award-winning Alaskan history enthusiast. Aunt Phil compiled much research about the history of this great state, and sometimes had stories about that history shared in various newspapers and magazines. Upon her death, she bequeathed her life’s work to her niece, Laurel Downing Bill, who quickly realized what a treasure trove of history she had been entrusted with! Determined to share this information with others, Laurel earned a college degree in journalism and history in order to gain better skills as a storyteller, and set to work compiling these tales, and adding her own additional research to more fully represent Alaska’s story.
The result of many years of relentless curiosity, determination, research, travel, hard work is a whopping five-volume collection of Aunt Phil’s Trunk. Each book covers a separate time period of Alaska’s history. The author was kind enough to send me copies of some of the books and sponsor this post so I could share more about them, and my impressions of it with you.
Volume one covers everything up to 1900, including the Klondike Gold Rush era
Volume two 1900-1912, includes the birth of many towns, the Iditarod Trail, and first summit of Denali
Volume three 1912-1935 includes Alaska Railroad, early aviation, and farmers heading north
Volume four 1935-1960 includes World War II Japanese invasion, the Alaska-Canada Highway, and the battle for Attu
Volume five 1960-1984 includes early statehood, Good Friday Earthquake, and the trans-Alaska oil pipeline
Each volume is around 330 pages, and they are chock-full of interesting stories, with coordinating historical photos on almost every single two-page spread. The photos really help bring the history alive, and I’m amazed at the amount of research that went into sharing so many fascinating stories! Each chapter shares another intriguing story from Alaska’s history, and would be perfect for reading a bit each day with your children. You will undoubtedly learn about a wide variety of things, and find many jumping-off points that will spark your interests and imagination.
Since we had all five volumes of the book here, I handed out one volume to each of my three high school sons, and my husband and I each had one as well. We enjoyed digging in to read about Alaskan history, and quickly learned so many new things that we had never heard before. From an island that changes size and location (!!) to panning for gold, getting to know more about early explorations and the indigenous Alaskan people and their ways, there are hundreds of intriguing pieces of information included in these books!
As the tales from Aunt Phil’s Trunk gained in popularity, there was a rise in interest from those that wanted to use these books as a curriculum, since this is ideal for the study of Alaskan state study, as well as an additional perspective on American history in general. So they have now developed Student Workbooks and Teacher Guides to accompany each volume as well! The student workbooks are aimed at grades 4-12, and encourage a deep-dive into the study of each volume, with rich, layered activities. These include Discussion Questions and essay opportunities, Enrichment Activity suggestions, reading comprehension questions, map activities, and unit tests, and well as activities like word searches and crossword puzzles.
For families that love to go off the beaten path, follow their curiosities and interests in learning, and find Alaska to be exciting and interesting, Aunt Phil’s Trunk is a uniquely wonderful collection! The author is extending a special offer to Enrichment Studies readers. You can purchase the Gold Nugget Special, which includes Volume 1 of Aunt Phil’s Trunk, along with the student workbook and teacher’s guide for $15 off the already discounted bundle price, PLUS enjoy FREE shipping! Use coupon code HOMESTEADER for your discount! Click here to check out this offer.
History is a tricky thing. On the one hand, we’ve got the well-known, “front burner” historical facts and figures that most of us learn growing up. But then there’s all the less-well-known aspects of history that are just as true, just as valuable, yet often hidden from most people as they learn about all the things that brought us to the place we are today.
When I started Enrichment Studies many years ago, right away I noticed the lack of women and people of color in the arts, and that put me on a path of questioning and discovery. Were there any women or non-white people creating music and art through the ages? I learned that the answer was yes! But why don’t we hear more about them? Why haven’t their contributions earned a spot in the history books? If we only look at the surface, it would be easy to think that so many things have come to us solely through the talents and innovations of white men. Indeed, due to the social structures and conquests of the past, white men have often been in the best position to create and innovate, but they are not the only ones that have. Home educators and involved, mindful parents can reclaim the fullness of history for ourselves and our children by digging deeper and learning more than just the surface level with helpful resources like the ones Tamara Shiloh has created in her Just Imagine….What If There Were No Black People In the World book series. Affiliate links are used in this post.
This book caught my attention one day, because the topic matches two we focus on at Enrichment Studies: Inventors and Scientists. I also liked it because this fits in with my desire to help bring about a broader awareness of our diverse history to the homeschool community. I have had the privilege of speaking to Mrs. Shiloh on the phone a few times, and was so excited when she agreed to have me review these books for you. She is also generously sponsoring a giveaway, so be sure to enter at the bottom of this post!
In this sweet story, a young boy named Jaxon is taken on a magical adventure, thanks to his grandmother’s necklace and his curious mind. When he asks himself one day, “What if there were no Black people in the world?” he is taken on a journey of discovery about how his everyday life would be impacted without the many inventions and scientific advancements that were created by the men and women of color that came before him. As I kept learning about these remarkable people, I was filled with gratitude for being able to learn about them, and also filled with a desire to make sure other families get to learn about this too. This isn’t just a book for Black families, although certainly people of color will want to add this delightful book to their collection. But this is a book for every family that truly values history and wants their children to grow up with a broader awareness of our collective human story, and wants to be purposeful in fostering a curious mindset and appreciation for the diversity that is woven into our everyday lives. In the book, one of the inventors says to Jaxon, “We’re your history, and history never goes away.” We have an opportunity to make sure the history and accomplishments of all people is not swept aside and hidden from our awareness, if we are willing to. Change starts at home, and every family has the power to foster greater awareness, compassion, and appreciation for our fellow humans.
In addition to the main storybook, there are three wonderful companion books in the series, so far. Jaxon’s Journal reinforces the information from the main book, while also inspiring kids to create their own journals about things they have learned. Jaxon’s Black History Coloring Book includes the many inventions and scientific advancements from the main book, plus many more. It’s a perfect addition to the book, and provides an activity for younger siblings and students who love to get out their crayons and colored pencils! Jaxon’s Black History Activity Book includes word scrambles, crossword puzzles, word puzzles and games, reading and writing activities about the inventors and scientists, and more. All together this set will provide a lot of fun, historical richness, and reinforcement for your children. It is perfect for a unit study for homeschoolers, or a starting point for research projects. Due to the nice range of materials included in this bundle, I think children from K-high school could certainly appreciate the content, with the elementary and middle school ages probably being most ideal. These books are available at TamaraShiloh.com as well as through Amazon Prime.
Author Tamara Shiloh is on a mission to educate about Black History year-round, and has many other books in this series coming soon! You can look forward to sharing with your children about Black women that were instrumental in science and inventions, Black cowboys, Black people involved in aviation and astronomy atNASA and beyond, and more.
How do elections work? What does the President do all day? Who decides where stop signs go? What is Labor Day? Uncle Sam and You is a one-year civics course that answers these questions and many more. Designed for students in grades 5 through 8, this curriculum guides you on an engaging tour of American government. Learn about elected leaders and everyday citizens who have important roles to fill in making our country work.
It’s no secret: American homeschoolers are predominantly white. And as white folks, there is a lot about black history that we do not know and do not understand.
Our history books are primarily written by white authors and feature the white perspective of history. Despite the fact that the history and perspective of all Americans is what makes the complete story, we often only get the white pieces and just a few of the other ones.
In the world of the arts, one could easily come to the conclusion that such things were solely the domain of White Men, forever and ever. Yet I have discovered prominent women artists from as far back as the Renaissance. I’ve discovered Black composers that pre-date Mozart. I researched and found many beautiful works of art featuring Black people that are normally overlooked. (Get it here) Men and women of so many races and nationalities have been creating, inventing, and exploring since time began! But you’d never know it, would you?
There seems to be a lot of pressure to Not Mess It Up when talking about race issues, yet it also seems that there is always somebody willing to point out how it’s been done wrong. It has been intimidating to me to see how much criticism there is for people that are Doing It Wrong when they dare to bring up race issues. My attempts may be clumsy. I am not an expert on this. However, I believe that this is important, so I’m talking about it. Hopefully you all can hear my intent to be an encouragement in this periscope broadcast I did.
The two biggest reasons I know of to make sure we’re learning about and teaching black history in our homeschools:
It isn’t just “Black History.” It’s History. A wider, true, more well-rounded version, particularly important for Americans. (making it a priority to learn about the experiences of other non-white-male perspectives will also make your knowledge of history truer, wider, and more well-rounded! Women’s history, Native American history, immigrants from everywhere, and so on)
Understanding Black History helps us have a somewhat better understanding of current events and racial issues today. It’s related. And it matters.
This is one way I can help fight racism. I forgot to talk about this on the scope, but it matters to me very much that my children go out into the world as a force for good, and that includes fighting racism. As homeschoolers in our area of the country, we don’t often have local opportunities to be activists, but I can at least continue to make myself and my children aware of things that are going on and things that have gone on throughout history, in an effort to not repeat history and to make this world a better place going forward.
If you are looking for a toe-tapping good time while learning about modern-day American history and Jazz music, you will LOVE our Jazz Composers collection! This is also perfect for February, which is Black History Month.
Our Jazz collection is about half way through getting upgraded to the new layout, and the 5-Day Tours will be coming along as we’re able. We are moving through the process to upgrade all of the collections, so you’ll get to enjoy that when it’s all in place as well. 🙂
In honor of Presidents Day, all of our U.S. Presidents products are on sale. This includes U.S. Presidents 1-6 and 7-12, as well as the coordinating Quotes from U.S. Presidents Penmanship and Copywork books. I have really loved using these books with my sons this year. Not only has it been good penmanship practice, but the quotes are so good, they often spark a meaningful conversation.
All of our president resource pages have now been upgraded to our beautiful new layout, so it’s easy on the eyes and better than ever! 5-Day Tours will be coming up as soon as we’re able to create them.