The Old Schoolhouse® Product & Curriculum Reviews

With so many products available we often need a little help in making our curriculum choices. The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine family understands because we are in the same boat! Do you need more information on a product before you buy? With over 5,500 products listed in 52 easy-to-use categories, much of the information you need to know is only a click away! Let our reviewer-families help yours.
Do you want to get the word out about your product or service to the homeschool community? Email Jenny Higgins and share a little about what you´d like showcased, and we can help with that!

Artistic Pursuits Review by Heidi Shaw

Artistic Pursuits

Well, I will never again let anyone tell me that a sequel can't be better than the original! Happy 10th Anniversary to Artistic Pursuits, and hurray for the all-new 2008 editions! I loved the first edition and used it joyfully with my children. The improvements, both major and minor, to the new edition have made the whole program even more delightful.

Brenda has done a wonderful job of introducing new master works of art with the new edition, and this time they are printed in full color right in the book! (In the previous edition, the user taped copies of the pieces of art into the book.) The tactile effect of having separate prints is gone, but there is now room for much more attention to detail in the instruction of new techniques. I loved the observation exercise. I think everyone should try it!

So, what else is new? How about improvements to everything, from the flow of the lessons, to the order in which the techniques are introduced, to the addition of extra lessons that make the units even more enjoyable. Plus, in the new version, Artistic Pursuits has expanded the art appreciation sections of all the books in grades 4-12. They now include art history so that students can "view the art within the context of the time period in which it was made and learn more about what was going on in the world." I love this new addition, especially the attention to Japanese and Chinese art (yes--Chinese brush/ink art!) as well as South American. It was just the thing I needed to "connect the dots" with my kids and make their history studies more enjoyable as well.

Some of the changes in the new version are more subtle but just as beneficial, in my opinion. The instructions on the basic techniques have been expanded, even on such simple things as how to hold a pencil and how to position hand and paper for greatest benefit. Beginners and those who want a refresher will love this addition. The setup for each lesson has changed a little, with the instruction to the teacher/parent highlighted in a small box rather than at the beginning of the lesson. I love the new fonts and the emphasis on speaking to the student rather than to the instructor.

I have reviewed all the new versions, and I could honestly go on and on about all the improvements that have been made. This is one company who really takes their customers into consideration when revamping, and they have made a much more enjoyable, more user-friendly product. There are so many new projects that I didn't even mind some of my favorites from the first edition being gone. You will find a few new artists, and everywhere you will see evidence of how much Brenda and her team love what they do and the passion with which they seek to pass on their love to young people. I find myself wanting to go volume by volume and tell you of all the little treasures I am finding, but that would kind of spoil the surprise wouldn't it? Take my word for it--you will love the new and improved Artistic Pursuits! I can't wait to begin again with my younger children.

Product review by Heidi Shaw, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, February 2009