TOS Crew Review — See the Light


I am not an artist by any stretch of the imagination. I can sometimes appreciate fine art when walking through a gallery, but I cannot begin to draw much more than a stick figure. So, our art instruction for our kids must come from elsewhere. I can handle the macaroni frames of early elementary years, but after that they lose me.

Fortunately, I don’t have to do this on my own.

Product: See the Light Art instruction DVDs

Details: A 9 volume DVD set with a total of 36 lessons taught by Master Artist Pat Knepley. Each lesson takes about 15 minutes and are designed to be watched once a week with follow up activities engaging the student until the following lesson.

Price: $99.99

What we loved . . .

  • Great for beginners of all ages. As I mentioned, I am not an artist, but I enjoy doodling and attempting to make nicer looking stick figures. Well, this DVD series brought us well beyond that. Even just in the first four lessons, which include a lot of introductory material, we all learned some new techniques and perspectives that improved our sketches. We watched this as a group from my kindergartner through my eighth grader and myself as well. Her teaching style seemed  a little “young” for my eighth grader, but the content of the teaching itself was suitable for his level. It seemed perfect for my fourth and sixth graders especially.
  • Biblical integration. Pat Knepley did a beautiful job of bringing Scripture and scriptural concepts naturally into the lessons. Her passion for art meshes easily with her faith and she shares both in this video series.
  • Perfect for once a week use. The 15 minutes of instruction in each lesson teaches a new concept and then gives the students ways that they can practice mastering the technique until the next week’s lesson. My kids really developed a greater enthusiasm for drawing while watching these videos and  have spent quite a bit of time outside of what I required of them practicing what she has taught.
  • Not a lot of supplies needed. She sticks to the essentials early on. All we needed was pencil and paper. We did also pull out a couple apples and a shoe, and there were other supplies that she discussed, but most lessons all you need is a pencil and paper. I can do that. 🙂

Some considerations . . .

  • Full year is costly. For all 36 lessons it would set you back around a hundred dollars. That is a lot of money. However, I did really like this resource and it is probably worth that to actually have an artist in your home teaching for 15 minutes each week. You can’t ask her questions, but you can see her work and watch and re-watch the episodes as often as necessary.  And, when you compare the price to a local art class or co-op class you really can’t beat the price.
  • Sometimes I felt like she went a little too fast. While most of the time I felt her pace was right on, or even a little slow, when she was adding the finishing touches to her pictures I felt like I looked down to compare it to mine and hers went from a rough contour line drawing to gallery worthy material and I’m not quite sure how she did it with so little effort. I watched it again of course, but realized that good art requires an eye for it as well.  We need a lot more practice to get close to her level, and we need to realize that she has spent a lot of time and has a natural ability that allows her to see what she needs to create a great finished product. Some of that is learned, but I don’t know that all of it can be. So, maybe it was a matter of a skill gap not necessarily the speed of her teaching.
  • Short lessons. With only 15 minutes to cover the daily lesson, she doesn’t cover much in any one lesson. This is good because you can really take your time practicing one technique or habit at a time, but some kids might get bored having such a small task to work on for a whole week. I would almost like her to show each technique a couple times in each lesson using a different subject each time, but there is enough there to build from for the most part.
  • Uses mostly her own art samples. It was encouraging to see her great work as examples and know that we were learning from someone that knew what they were talking about, but we also like to incorporate art appreciation into our art lessons. If we continue with this I would need to continue to seek that out on my own.

See the Light has put together a great program that is really well suited for the beginning artist. If you have struggled to find an easy way to bring a great art program into your home, I would encourage you to check out these DVDs and maybe even take time to give their free samples a try.

For more TOS Crew reviews on this product, check out the TOS Crew blog.

Disclaimer: This product was provided to me free of charge through See the Light as part of my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew. I received no additional compensation and the opinions expressed here come from my personal experiences and sincere thoughts.


TOS Crew Review — Bible Dictionary for kids


Product: Illustrated Bible Dictionary for Kids

Details: A Bible dictionary made just for kids to use on their own, or with an adult to help them, in understanding more about people, places, and things mentioned in the Bible.

Price: $14.99

What we loved . . .

  • Attention grabbing! As soon as this came out of the packaging, my kids were all over it. The cover catches your eye and page after page is full of colorful illustrations, maps, real photographs, and charts to help make clearer many different passages of Scripture.
  • Kids can explore on their own. Geared toward kids ages 5 through 10, this sturdy hard cover book rested comfortably in the hands of my 7 year old as she excitedly looked up various words that came to mind. Beatitudes, plagues, communion, Matthew, etc. Each one offered her an entry with information that complemented and cemented what we are learning during Bible times or what she has recently studied at church.
  • Easy searching. Each page has the letters of the alphabet along the edge with the first letter of those entries highlighted. So, from anywhere in the book you can easily get to a different section with the letter that you are looking for. Even my 5 year old was able to use this to find words that he wanted to look up.
  • Substantial number of entries. Maybe not abridged, but with 750 entries, this dictionary does have every word my kids have wanted to know more about since we received it, and roughly two thirds of the entries also have graphics to accompany them in addition to the written explanation.
  • Biblical references. Of course, what would a Bible dictionary be without actual references? This one includes at least one and often a few fitting references to go with each entry.
  • Great reference tool for kids learning to study on their own. Although the internet can probably give all this information and more, this book has it in a safe, easy to use format for younger children. I don’t let my under 10 kids just surf the web, even with filters in place. The Illustrated Bible Dictionary gives them a place to look up words they may want to know more about as I am encouraging them to start reading and studying the Bible on their own.

Some considerations . . .

  • Limited age range. Although I could see the appeal of a Bible dictionary for a wider range, early readers would have a hard time using it on their own, and kids in their preteen years might find the graphics babyish. The publisher did well giving the appropriate age range, and it would likely not find as receptive an audience outside of those ages.
  • Not a Bible study book. Bible dictionaries are great tools when studying the Bible, but they are not a Bible study in and of themselves. I think this is an important book to have on your shelves if you want your kids to begin exploring Scripture for themselves, but they will need some direction to learn how to make the most of it.

Studying the Bible accurately is one of my primary goals for my children. The Illustrated Bible Dictionary is a great asset toward reaching that goal and we look forward to making the most of it for years to come.

For more TOS Crew reviews on this product, check out the TOS Crew blog.

Disclaimer: This product was provided to me free of charge through Lifeway Christian Stores as part of my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew. I received no additional compensation and the opinions expressed here come from my personal experiences and sincere thoughts.