Monday, October 31, 2011

Marshall Publishing - a Review

October is Fire Safety/Fire Prevention Month.  So, there could not have been a better time to be given the opportunity to review "Lots & Lots of Firetrucks" DVD and Book.  This book is published by Marshall Publishing.  Marshall Publishing is dedicated to producing educational material for the whole family to enjoy.

The "Lots & Lots of Fire Trucks" book is 124 pages of beautiful full-color pictures and interesting facts about fire trucks, fire fighters, and their equipment.  Zachary, being a 6 year old boy, loves anything to do with firetrucks and firefighters so this book was perfect for him.  We read it through together one chapter at a time and now he takes it and loves to look at all the pictures, read the information and ask all kinds of questions about firefighting.  The information isn't just the normal "fluff" you get in small books about firetrucks, it has interesting information that even I, as an adult, found interesting and informational.  Paul, at 10, still loves firetrucks and loved to listen to me read the book as well.  Marshall Publishing did a fabulous job of making this book appropriate for the entire family!  The kids not only learned about fire fighters but they also learned about history.  Paul especially enjoyed the chapter on the "History of Fire Trucks and Fire Fighting" and the "Greatest Fires in History" was his absolute favorite!   There is also a wonderful timeline of "fire-related" events. As well as some amazing websites you can go to to learn even more about firefighting.

The "Lots & Lots of Fire Songs and Safety Tips" DVD is just as well done as the book.  It can be watched as an entire 30 minute show with great songs reminding us all about Fire Safety tips.  Or, each song can be presented separately to go along with a unit study on Fire Safety.  We enjoyed watching the entire DVD at once (actually the kids have watched it many times).  The kids all enjoyed the songs, though Paul did think they were a little "young" for him, and I would agree with that.  Zach and Molly love the DVD.  It is definitely geared toward the younger (preschool/kindergarten) audience, though older kids can learn from it.  Take a look at this YouTube video to see a sample of the songs on the DVD

The combo pack, including the book and DVD, is available for $29.95 on their website.  This would make a wonderful gift for a young firefighter for Christmas or an upcoming birthday.  It also makes for a very informative, and interesting, unit study on FireFighting and Fire Safety.  You can even add in a trip to the local Fire Station!

We also received Marshall Publishing's DVD on George Washington Carver.  We are not yet to this portion of American History so the kids have not seen the DVD yet, but I have watched it and found it very well done and informative.  It is a inspirational story all about Carver's life.  The photography as well as the musical accompaniment is stunning.  The DVD can be purchased here for $19.95.  I can't wait until we start studying his life in American History I think this video will be a great way to really understand Carver's life.

Marshall Publishing offers so many educational books and DVD's and they are so well done.  Go check out all their products from fun DVD's on Monster trucks to Educational History DVD's and everything in between. The best part is their products are designed for the whole family!

Don't forget to take a look at what other TOS Crew Members had to say here

Disclosure-These products were given to me for review purposes. All opinions expressed are my own honest opinion. No other compensation was given for this review.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Say Anything - a Review

My last post was all about "Wits and Wagers Family" and all the fun our family had playing that game from North Star Games!  Well, we were also privileged to review another game from North Star Games!  This game is "Say Anything Family Edition"

I must say, North Star Games has a knack for creating great games!  "Say Anything" is a fun and light-hearted game that brings families together.  It gets them thinking about other family member's likes and dislikes.

How to Play
Much like "Wits and Wagers" each player gets their own small dry-erase board, and an answer pen.  This time, instead of Meeples each player gets 2 "player tokens".  The "judge" pulls a card and chooses one of the three questions on the card to ask the remaining players.  Everyone (except the judge) then writes an answer on their player board and places it face-up on the table as quickly as possible. The judge then uses the super-high-tech "Select-O-Matic 6000" (it's a cardboard spinner!) to select his/her favorite answer and places the "Select-O-Matic 6000" face-down on the table.   The players then try to guess which answer the judge picked and can place their player tokens on one or two answers.  The "judge" reveals her answer and points are scored.

Points are awarded as follows:
1 point for each player token placed on the answer that was selected by the judge
1 point for the player who wrote the answer selected by the judge
1 point to the Judge for each player token placed on the answer she selected.  
There is a maximum of 3 points scored per round.

The questions are sometimes quite zany and other times a bit more serious.  
-Which technology product would be the hardest to live without?
-What would be the weirdest fear to have?
-Which TV character would I least like to be?
-If a one-month old baby could speak, what would it say?

Our Thoughts
This game is an absolute blast to play, when the players are all old enough to play.  The suggested age is 8 and up, and though anyone that can read and write (or draw) their answer CAN play, it makes it a little slower and a little less fun when the player may not totally understand the question.  My 6 year old can play but it is more challenging for him and he would became frustrated when he could not come up with an answer quickly or simply did not understand the question. The questions are very family oriented, which is great, but they are still somewhat difficult for most kids under about 8 to understand.  

Paul, at age 10, LOVES this game and he can't wait to have his older cousins over to play.  It will be great family fun with the extended family throughout the Holiday season!    North Star Games as definitely created another favorite in our household and I am sure all the kids will be able to play soon!
The game can be purchased through Amazon, or you can go here to find a retail location near you. 

Please go here to see what other TOS Crew Members have to say.

Disclosure-This product was given to me for review purposes. All opinions expressed are my own honest opinion. No other compensation was given for this review.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Wits and Wagers Family - a review

Our family loves games.  The kids love the interaction with each other and with Mom and Dad.  Mom and Dad love the interaction/family time as well as the educational value of games.  We recently deemed Sunday afternoon family game time.  We take turns picking the game each week.

In the past our favorites have been UNO or Parcheesi.  We now have a new favorite that gets lots of play time both on Sunday afternoon and any other time we can find time to play.  "Wits and Wagers" from North Star Games is "the most award-winning party game in history".  And now they have "Wits and Wagers FAMILY", a simplified version to make it more "playable" for the entire family.  This family game states for ages 8 and up, but all three of ours loved it, and Molly has even won a couple of times.  It is truly a game that anyone can play, and also learn from.

The game is simple.  A question is read and each player (or team) writes their guess down on their answer board.  The answer is always a number.  Each player then lays their answer board down on the table.  Then the "Meeples" come in to play.  A Meeple is a small wooden figure shaped like a person.  Each player has two Meeples of the same color--a large one and a small one.  If you think your answer is the closest (without going over) you can place your Meeple on your answer, or if you think Dad knows best you can place your Meeple on Dad's answer. Or, you can even split your Meeples up.  Then the correct answer is given and points are scored:
1 point for writing the winning guess
1 point for placing a small Meeple on the winning answer
2 points for placing a large Meeple on the winning answer
Whoever reaches 15 points first is the winner.

The questions are fun and educational some of them we have NO idea what the answer might be, making the guessing that much funnier.  We have learned how many Nabisco animal Cracker shapes there are, how many times a honey bee flaps it wings in 1 second, how tall the world's tallest dog is (in inches), how many sentences are in the children's book "Where the Wild Things Are" and so much more.  It has been a blast to watch the kids write down their outrageous guesses to questions like "How many different Webkinz stuffed animals have there been?" or to watch Paul try to recall facts that he should know, like "how many planets have rings around them?" or "what is the boiling point of water?".  The other educational part comes in with writing numbers, something Zach and Molly both need practice in.

We have loved this game, and I am hoping they will come out with an "expansion pack" of some type when we get through all 300 questions, which will take a long time, but I am sure this will be a family favorite for years to come!

You can purchase the game through Amazon or go here and find a retail store near you.

Be sure and take a look at what other TOS Crew Members have to say here

Disclosure-This product was given to me for review purposes. All opinions expressed are my own honest opinion. No other compensation was given for this review.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Educating The WholeHearted Child - a review

When we first became parents I searched for books on raising babies. When Paul grew out of that stage I searched for books on toddlerhood, and then preschool years, and then when Zach came along the topic was sibling rivalry. Homeschooling began and the topic was, of course, homeschooling. In other words I have always loved to read parenting books. My bookshelves are full of books on homeschooling and Christian parenting. Some I read a chapter or two and then shelf them, others I devour from start to finish. I even have a few favorite books that I turn to again and again and even some that I have read the entire way through multiple times. I was recently given the opportunity to review a phenomenal book. Educating the WholeHearted Child   by Clay and Sally Clarkson. I know this book will fall in to the category of reading multiple times! It's just that AWESOME!

Educating The WholeHearted Child is published through Apologia Minsitries and can be purchased here for only $22.00.  This is an amazing price for this book.
The book is HUGE, and so full of information I can't even begin to tell you everything that it includes.  It is 372 pages chock full of wonderful information.  There are 18 chapters covering everything from Biblical principles (and actual scripture) to support homeschooling, to curricula suggestions, to discipline, family devotions and even forms used in homeschooling.  The Clarksons have also put together some great charts on things such as public school socialization versus homeschooling socialization.  They have also added personal tidbits in their sections entitled "In Our Home".

The book is divided into 4 main sections: the Home, Learning, Methods, and Living.  All 4 sections are full of the "nitty-gritty" things that homeschooling families need.  Full of encouragement.  Full of practical tips to help your day/week/month/life run more smoothly.  Full of information to share with others on why you homeschool.  Just so full of everything I wish I had known when I first started out.  It is definitely a book that will stay on my nightstand and be looked at again and again.

I would like to mention that I don't necessarily agree with everything the Clarksons suggest in the book.  One example is they suggest you should have a dedicated homeschool room.  As I have mentioned before, this did not work for our family.  I mention this discrepancy only to remind you that no two families/homeschools are alike.  Every one has their own unique circumstances.  So, you will never find a book that matches everything you need for your homeschool-that's what makes homeschooling so beautiful!  BUT, this book is so close to perfect that I will recommend it to every homeschooling family I know, and anyone that is even considering homeschooling should take a look at this book.  It will encourage you in your homeschool as well as your family life no matter what your style of homeschooling is!

Please go take a look at what other Crew Members thought here.

Disclosure-This product was given to me for review purposes. All opinions expressed are my own honest opinion. No other compensation was given for this review.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Scruble Cube - Review

I know I have mentioned before that I have a poor speller in this house. He is a voracious reader so I am hoping the spelling will come. However, I do often look for new games and activities to encourage some spelling skills.

We were recently given the opportunity to review a new "3D Word Game" that can best be described by saying it combines Scrabble with Rubik's Cube. Here is a great YouTube video that explains it better than I ever could.

As the promotional video says "If you can spell 'cat' you can play". And that is very true. It is very easy to pick this "cube" up and play, and I can see how it could truly be quite addictive. Even Molly tried to play. However, my kids never really got into it. They would play it if I asked them to, but it wasn't something they just truly loved. Perhaps it's because their spelling skills aren't great so it was very much a challenge to them. Typically Paul really likes a challenge but for some reason he didn't enjoy this one. He also has never enjoyed a Rubik's Cube or Scrabble so I guess I couldn't expect him to enjoy this combination. But, if you have a child who loves Scrabble and puzzles this is the game for them. It would make a great educational Christmas or Birthday gift for a word-loving kid.

The Scruble Cube can be purchased here for $24.95

The Scruble Cube has received two toy awards, so it is truly a hit for many kids, just not mine.

There are some great acitivities and lesson plans to go with it available for download here

And don't forget to take a look at what other TOS Crew Members thought about it here.

Disclosure-This product was given to me for review purposes. All opinions expressed are my own honest opinion. No other compensation was given for this review.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Molly's Home Team--Application

Calling all bloggers and homemakers . . . Molly Green (not my daughter but the more famous Molly Green) from and Molly's Money-Saving Digest has a great opportunity for YOU!

Molly is starting "Molly's Home Team" - a great new way to introduce bloggers to brands and vice versa. If you like trying new products and sharing your opinions of them with your family and friends, then this might be perfect for you.

This opportunity is NOT just for homeschoolers. ANYONE with a blog can apply. It looks like a wonderful opportunity to review some great products!

I am happy to announce that I have already been chosen to be on this team, so now it's your turn to join in the fun!

You can apply by filling out the application here

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Wikipedia describes "Unschooling" in the following way...

Unschooling is a range of educational philosophies and practices centered on allowing children to learn through their natural life experiences, including play, game play, household responsibilities, work experience, and social interaction, rather than through a more traditional school curriculum. There are some who find it controversial.[1] Unschooling encourages exploration of activities, often initiated by the children themselves, facilitated by the adults. Unschooling differs from conventional schooling principally in the thesis that standard curricula and conventional grading methods, as well as other features of traditional schooling, are counterproductive to the goal of maximizing the education of each child

I have never claimed to be an "unschooler" although I do subscribe to some of the philosophies of learning through every day experiences. I, however, have not been able to let go of the more traditional approach. Now, we are far from the textbooks and grades type of traditional but we are also far from the true idea of unschooling. I guess we are quite an eclectic mix of many styles of education and I find it's different with each child.

Anyway, with all that said, we have taken much more of an "unschooled" approach the last week and if this is how it works, well, I think I like it. Just a few highlights...

We explored mushrooms in the front yard.

Planted some junipers to help stop erosion. Daddy talked to the boys about photosynthesis too.

Played a great new game, "Wits and Wagers" (review coming in a few weeks)

It was great for so many things, but the most obvious was number writing.

Molly and Zach made books and practiced handwriting, spelling and language/grammar, and this was all their own idea!

We took a field trip and learned about all kinds of things relating to farming.

Zachary made LOTS of robots

And turned himself in to one.

We did some container gardening and are attempting to grow some fall veggies (I do NOT have a green thumb, so we shall see). More learning about photosynthesis and just where our food comes from.

Both boys picked up countless books and read and learned about all kinds of things. Zach begged me to let him read a chapter book so we found one he can handle, "Fantastic Mr. Fox" by Roald Dahl (we love his books). He also found a "knock-knock" book that he won't put down and he has us all cracking up!

And we even got some baking in.

So, we covered quite a bit over the last week, and nothing was "planned" by Mommy. So, next week we will go back to our workboxes, but I am even more intrigued by "unschooling" and I may start adding in a "planned" week of "no plans" and try our hand at a little more unschooling.

Do any of you "unschool" your kiddos? What does it look like in your home? I would love to hear about it!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad