Tuesday, April 28, 2015

What Preschool Curriculum Will Be One of My Most Recommended From Now On? {A La La Logic Review}

I grew up as "the baby" in my family and know full well how it is to be the tag-along, hand-me-down kid.  It can be fun, but every once in a while, having something just for yourself proves a delight.  It is for this very reason that I decided to take advantage of an opportunity to review a lifetime membership to the new Preschool Curriculum by La La Logic with my "baby" Jack.

What is La La Logic?

La La Logic Review

La La Logic is a preschool and kindergarten program that provides 100 "weeks" worth of content, to be used on and offline, which is based on current brain plasticity and engaged children in problem solving and critical thinking skills to accelerate academic achievement, while, most importantly, having fun!

For each "week" of learning, the program provides:

  • an easy-to-implement agenda that breaks the learning opportunities down into 4-5 days of activities and prompts for parents to journal about a child's learning.

  • online game challenges that can be used on a PC, Mac, iPad, or Android tablet, which engage children in enjoyable brain training exercises that take only 5-10 minutes to complete

  • printable extension activities that strengthen problem solving and critical thinking abilities as children cut, paste, color, and manipulate paper

  • printable parent-child activity ideas that utilize time-tested elements of Classical Education and classic early learning fun, including activities that include action rhymes, copywork, dramatic play, literature, memorization, narration, nature study, poetry, problem solving and more.

The online portion of the program can also be used in continuous, progressively challenging mode.

The online and offline portions of the program combine to act as an interactive, multi-sensory experience for children and their parents that not only is fun, but is also based worthwhile.  Curriculum activities integrate concepts from leading IQ tests with traditional learning and parent-child bonding time!

How We Used It

After receiving log-in information, I easily got La La Logic working on our PC and introduced it to Jack, who took to it quickly!

We began using the program in its weekly mode with Jack whipping through online segments with a smile.  In fact, he often wanted to do more than one week's worth of online brain games in a sitting.  The variety of games certainly kept him engaged!

La La Logic Review


They started off super simple and got progressively more challenging.  Some, we found, were easiest to use with our touchscreen than with our mousepad.  All were fun for Jack (and sometimes for his big sister, who wanted her own login even if she is older!)

When I asked Jack what he thought about it, he said:

La La Logic is so easy.  The sound and that it tells me what to do make it fun.

He is right.  La La Logic does make learning activities clear and enjoyable - both for kids and for parents.

Between Jack's online forays with La La Logic brain games, I took a look at the many downloadable printable activity sheets that come as a part of the weekly lesson packages.  All of them were well done.  However, because our family already does a lot of hands-on activities, including plenty of fine motor activities, I did not opt to introduce many of these activities to Jack.   For, while they would have engaged him, I prefer to do a lot of our cutting, painting, drawing, coloring, etc. as a "group thing" with all the kids together and, frankly, I knew my nine year old would not relish the activities.  That said, I love having access to them for times when Jack might want a little something extra to do!

La La Logic Review

Along with the activity sheets that focus on cognitive and fine motor skills, weekly La La Logic downloadable printables also include a wide array of gross motor, subject-based and other ideas for parents and children to enjoy together.  I love of some of these even include emotional intelligence activities!

Because our family is in a season of life where we are often out of our home with classes, clubs, outdoor adventures and more, we did not implement all of the oh-so-complete array of fun and engaging hands-on and enrichment activities La La Logic provides, but we did enjoy a few and I can honestly say that as a parent, home educator, former classroom teacher, and creative dramatics teacher, I am quite impressed with HUGE variety of offline activities that are offered!  Truly, La La Logic could act as a complete preschool and kindergarten curriculum for those that wish to use it to its fullest and also, as was our experience, works as a fun, engaging and worthwhile "extra" to existing pursuits.

Jack's Thoughts

When I asked Jack what he likes best about la La Logic, he said:

I just liked to practice it.  It has lots of stuff in it... I get to drag apples.  I get to click the froggie... and... (insert a lot of other specific examples that would not make sense to those who have not actually used the program.)

La La Logic Review


When I inquired further if there was anything he didn't like about it, he emphatically shook his head, "no" while offering a big smile.

Finally, when I asked him if he thought other kids might want to use it, he said, without any further prompting or pause:

Yes.  It can help the learn stuff, like how to count, patterns, puzzles, addition...

I dare say, when a four-and-three-quarter year old boy offers testimony like that, a program is, in my book, a resounding success!

Awesome for All Families of Young Children

I wish I had found La La Logic when my older children were preschool aged, because I truly think it is a beneficial program its access and pricing are so family -friendly!  For 29 cents a week (if using the program as a 100-week program), families can enjoy the program.  However, they do not have to feel rushed if life prevents regular use.


Once you purchase La La Logic, your login never expires and you can track progress for up to five children!  I have seen few other online programs that offer such budget-friendly ease to busy moms and dads of many. 


(And, they offer cute icon selections so each child can easily find their login online.)

The folks at La La Logic seem to "get" the benefits and challenges of homeschooling.  They have designed the preschool curriculum to be paced at a parent and child's discretion, asking for payment for content, not time.  I just love that!

I also appreciate that while the curriculum is quite complete with its online and offline components, it is also flexible:

    • Already busy?  For those that only want to use the online portion, there is a "Continuous Brain Challenge Mode" that allows children to play all the Brain Challenges consecutively without weekly divisions.  

    • Need extra practice with a specific critical thinking skill? Individual brain Challenge activities can be selected.  

    • Want more?  For those who use the weekly mode, any time a child wants to practice something outside the context of the week's target skills, the child can use the "Extra Practice" link to go to a page where other Brain Challenge games are accessed. 

    • Concerned about "too much" screen time?  Weekly online brain games to but 5-10 minutes, while providing plenty of offline materials to flesh out learning with activities that typically take 10-30 minutes and require only basic supplies.

    • On a budget? Not only is the purchase price reasonable, but besides a computer or tablet and a printer, the program requires only basic supplies, such as glue sticks, scissors, coins, beans, paper and writing utensils.

    Finally, the folks at La La Logic realize that every child is different, and, thus, provide a 30-day money-back guarantee just in case a family does not find something worthwhile in La La Logic (which I would guess happens only rarely, if ever!) The 
    Preschool Curriculum by La La Logic will definitely be one of my top-recommended programs for those that ask me about preschool curriculum.  
    Learn More

    Find La La Logic on Facebook.

    Try La La Logic for free!

    Get 100 weeks of lessons with a login that never expires and offers your access to 500 online Brain Challenges, 100 printable worksheets and a variety of multi-sensory, enrichment ideas that touch on many subjects for $29.99!

    La La Logic Review

    Learn how 85 Schoolhouse Review Crew families enjoyed La La Logic.
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    Sunday, April 26, 2015

    A Simple, Fun Faith Craft for Kids: Prayer Rocks

    I know I shared the picture above last week when I shared about the Creative Girls Service Club that Nina has been helping to plan and lead.  However, after seeing Nina continue to use it and add to it since, I feel compelled to spotlight the idea.

    Prayer Rocks are such a simple, but special craft! 
    [Note:  Affiliate links may be included below.  Should you click on one and make any purchase, we may receive small income at no extra cost to you as per our full disclosure.]

    To make payer rocks, just collect rocks and lay out some
    Sharpies (or whatever drawing utensils that you feel comfortable allowing your children to use).  With that, you're good to go!  Children can decorate the rocks however they choose to in order to remember personal prayer intentions or to depict things that they wish to give thanks to God for.  Later, they can keep adding to their collection.

    Nina sure has been having fun adding to hers.  Almost every time we are out, she spies "perfect" rocks, fills her pockets with them, and then, later, sets to work decorating them when we get home.  I often witness her using her rocks to pray (or asking if she can gift them to people that she's made them for.)
      It's so sweet, I just had to spotlight the idea.  Hope you and yours have fun with it!

    I'd love to see snapshots of your children's prayer rocks!  Please feel free to share links to them in a comment here or on the Training Happy hearts Facebook page.

    Sunday, April 19, 2015

    How Can Picture Books + Crafts Inspire Kindess and Service?

    This month is dedicated the the Holy Spirit.  Undoubtedly, one of the ways the Spirit works in and through each of us is through acts of kindness.  So today, I thought I would share about the Creative Girls Service Club, a club my daughter began in January for the sisters of boys that are in her big brother's newly formed Duct Tape Battle Club, which has paired picture books with creative craft making to inspire service and kindness.

    The Creative Girls Service Club meets monthly and includes anywhere from 7-20 girls, from tots to teens, at each meeting. Club meetings are rather informal and follow a simple format.  The girls gather to:

    • pray.
    • share a story.
    • enjoy a craft connected to charity, service or random acts of kindness.
    • free time to chat and play.

    Crafting stone necklaces...

    To kick the club off, my daughter planned activities for the first few meetings, and I helped her find corresponding picture books.  So far, meetings have unfolded with four successful crafts!

    (Note: Some of the links that follow are affiliate ones.  If you click through them to make any purchase, we may receive compensation at no extra cost to you.  Thank you.)

    Kindness Crowns

    At the first meeting, we shared a special picture book that Nina received some years ago as a gift, I'd Be Your Princess: A Royal tale of Godly Character.  (I believe this sweet book is out-of-print now, but used copies can be found at Amazon for a penny right now!) 

    Then, the girls brainstormed ways that they could show virtues, much like the girl in the storyThen, they selected homemade and pre-cut paper crowns to craft...

    Once they'd selected which type of crown they wanted to make, per Nina's idea, they drew images or wrote phrases, on the inside points, which described kindnesses and services they wanted to extend to others.  Then, they decorated their crowns.

    Nina's idea was that the girls could take their crowns home and as they completed each act of kindness or service, they could fold the points down or place gem stickers on them

    Prayer Pockets

    At the girl's second meeting, they picked between reading Katy No-Pocket...

    ...and A Pocket for Corduroy.

    Then, they chatted about virtues and kindnesses displayed by the characters in the books before setting to work sewing their own pocket designs made from the arms and legs of upcycled kids' clothing, ribbons, yarn and bric a brac.

    The idea was that they could:

    • fill the pocket with the names of people they wanted to pray for and pray for those people regularly.

    • fill the pocket with a note of thanks, prayer or love and give it to someone.

    • fill the pocket with tiny treats to give to someone.

    The girls loved this project!

    Handprint Lilies

    For the girls' third meeting, Nina intended to share one of our favorite Easter season books, The Parable of the Lily, but we could not find our copy of it and the local library copy was already checked out.

    So, instead, we brought a print out of a story we found online called The White Lily and our copy of  Small Acts of Kindness, which has nothing to do with lilies and which we typically read closer to the Christmas season, but also which we felt was apropos because our lily project was all about literally sharing small acts of kindness.

    The project was to make handprint lilies.

    Basically, the girls traced their hands to make the petals of lilies and then attached them to chenille strip stems or to pencils, much like my children and their friends had done previously when making paper plate lilies.


    After this, the girls chose to make copywork sheets of a poem I had adapted from one I had found on DLTK or used laminated tags of the poem that another mom had brought for us.  They attached these to their lilies with ribbon and, later, gave the lilies away to elderly neighbors, loved ones or friends they visit in nursing homes.

    Off to deliver lilies to elderly neighbors.

    The poem read:

    This isn't just a lily.
    As you can plainly see,
    I made it with my hands,
    which God made a part of me.
    It comes with prayers and love,
    especially to say:
    May light and love bloom for you
    on this Easter day!

    Smile-Inducing Stone Art

    For our fourth meeting, we were considering reading You Are Special, and, then, chatting about how we are all beautiful and special in God's eyes, before making foam eye glass cases to donate to nursing homes and vision-based charities.  

    However, the mom who was to bring the majority of the supplies ended up having sickness hit her home.  So, with inspiration from a picture a friend had taken on a recent hike, we made  a quick switch of our plans and decided to do stone art instead.

    At the last minute, we had hoped to grab a copy of
    Sylvester and the Magic Pebble from the library to share and chat about, perhaps focusing on how relationships and family are more important than material possessions, but we were unable to do so.  So, this meeting was story-free and my own children and I read the book afterward.

    Since it was a beautiful day, the girls worked outside.

    Using Sharpies, glue, googly eyes, yarn, etc., plus their own imaginations, they created rock art.

    Our idea was that after club, the girls might do one of three things with their creations:

    • Write people's names on them and use the stone art to remind them to pray for these people.
    • Gift their art to someone they love but are often separated from, so the person could keep the stone close as a smile-inducing reminder of a loved one.  For example, a parent could use the rock as a paper weight on a desk at work or an elderly relative could put a cheerful rock on a bedside or windowpane. 
    • Leave the rock along a trail with a collection of others to bring a smile to a hiker.

    My daughter, in particular, enjoyed this activity and has continued to add to her stone art collection, which she is using mostly for prayer.

    Stories, Crafts and Service 
    The girls in our club look forward to continuing to enjoy more time together sharing stories and crafts that can relate to service.  We already know what we are doing at our next meeting, but would love your ideas for future ones.  So, if you have one, please do share.

    We hope some of the simple things we have done so far inspire you and yours to enjoy stories, crafts and service and welcome your suggestions!

    Saturday, April 18, 2015

    One Resource that Will Help You Enjoy Art Anywhere {A Review}

    Do you want an easy-to-implement art program that you can pick up and go almost anywhere with?  We've found just such a resource with Early Elementary K-3, Book 2: Stories of Artists and Their Art by ARTistic Pursuits!

    Last year, we fell in love with ARTistic Pursuits' open-and-go resource: Book 1: Introduction to the Visual Arts.    In fact, I was so impressed by ARTistic Pursuits' fun, easy-to-implement approach that I have since found myself recommending it to homeschooler after homeschooler, and even some traditionally schooled friends.  

    Last Year
    Last Year

    Why I Love ARTistic Pursuits

    Image Credit: ARTistic Pursuits

    ARTistic Pursuits comprehensive books blend art appreciation, history, and techniques together into one all-in-one art curriculum.  Each book on the ARTistic Pursuits Book List is targeted to a different age range and, together, provide an art program that spans from preschool through high school and beyond.  For in our family's experience, even the books meant for young children can be enjoyed by adults, too!

    Each book in the collection encourage students to observe and explore through experimenting with such things as:

    • drawing 
    • mixed media
    • painting
    • pastels
    • printmaking
    • sculpting

    ...and more.  They also, as I have already mentioned, include art appreciation and art history.  What more could anyone want?

    Stories of Artists and Their Art in a Nutshell

    ARTistic Pursuits Review

    Stories of Artists and Their Art has been around since 2003 and is in its third, expanded and revised printing. Its opening pages contain parent/teaching information in the form of a materials list and tips on teaching observational skills.

    Then, the 36 lessons in the book start with Cimabue, an artist from the Gothic period and progress through Millet, an artist from the Realist Period.  Units of work include:

    • stories about specific artists that can be enjoyed as read togethers
    • art appreciation pages with full color reproductions of famous artworks
    • project ideas that use a variety of media and connect to artist biographies and reproductions
    • full color examples of art works created by other children
    • special projects, such as creating a color wheel
    • technique tips

    The book concludes with a complete bibliography for further research, study and exploration.
    How We Used Stories of Artists and Their Art

    When our review copy of
    Stories of Artists and Their Art came in, I immediately turned to the handy materials list page to see what supplies we already had on hand and what I needed to use discount coupons at our local art supply store to pick up.  

    Shortly thereafter, the children began selecting which readings and projects we wanted to experience first.  For while the book is organized into 36 consecutive lessons to take students through an entire year's worth of art curriculum, our family prefers to pick and choose which lessons interest us on a given day.

    Typically, we began the lessons we chose by gathering supplies and then reading (or re-reading) the corresponding artist biography together.  

    I loved the way these biographies were preceded by introductions written to draw children in and connect them immediately to the artist to be studied.  For example, one introduction said:

    What kind of job do you dream of having when you grew up?  Anguissola may have dreamed that she would travel to another county to work for a queen.  That is just what she did all because of her love for painting.

    From there, we went on to read the clear project information and instructions and began creating our own works.

    Some of our favorite experiences were:

    ... having "girl time" when, upon the suggestions included in project 1, my daughter and I went for a walk to look for inspiration and then experimented with watercolor paints.

    ...when we brought some simple supplies and the book to a friend's house to share a project together.  The mixed media collages from Project 13 ended up taking new directions as toddlers to preteens enjoyed art together.

    ...when we gathered as a family around the kitchen table to read about Giotti, play with expressions (since Giotti was "well known for his skill panting people with expressions and emotions") and, then, enjoy creating scratch art together as described in Project 3.

    Often, we found ourselves inside or outside learning about art history, appreciating great works and experimenting with specific techniques!

    Final Thoughts

    Obviously, I love ARTistic Pursuits and am thrilled to have added Early Elementary K-3, Book 2: Stories of Artists and Their Art to our homeschool endeavors this year!  Among the things I most appreciate about the curriculum are:
    • how thorough it is!  As I move through it with my children, we all learn more about artists, art history and art technique!
    • how open-ended the projects are.  The children learn and experiment with techniques but never come out with "cookie cutter" art.
    • how portable it is.  More than once, I have simply grabbed the book and a few supplies and been able to take art outside or to a friend's home.
    • how easy connect to other learning it is.  The book focuses on Gothic, Renaissance and 18th Century Academic Art, making it easy to tie into history studies.  It also includes open-ended projects which can be adapted to connect to almost anything you are studying.

    As for the kids, when I asked them for their thoughts about the book, my seven-year-old immediately shouted with delight, "I LOVED the scratch art!" 

    My nine-year-old added, "I like learning about the artists."

    My four-year-old concluded with, "I like doing all the art and artists."

    And, then, my seven- and four-year-olds went and grabbed supplies to do a scratch art reprise.  

    I would say their enthusiasm to revisit a lesson sums it up: Early Elementary K-3, Book 2: Stories of Artists and Their Art by ARTistic Pursuits is a complete art program with high appeal that inspires kids and can be used almost anywhere as long as you have a few materials handy!

    Find Out More

    ARTistic Pursuits Review

    See how 100 Schoolhouse Review Crew families implemented pre-k through high school art lessons with ARTistic pursuits.

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