Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Abe's Market ~ a Few Organic and Natural Gifts Under $25

I don't know if you've noticed the ad for Abe's Market over on my sidebar, but I have enjoyed a number of items purchased from this store, especially as I try to use more organic and natural items. If you are looking for some gifts that fit that profile, you might be interested to see a sampling of what is available at Abe's Market.

To sweeten the pot, all purchases made through December 31, 2014 will be shipped for free (no minimum), and all orders placed *before* December 17th are guaranteed to arrive by Christmas.

Organic and Natural Gifts Under $25

Canal Street Daisy Nail Polish
By: Scotch Naturals
$15.00

Small Herbal Healing Kit
By: Elemental Herbs
$24.00

Chocolate Bar Variety Gift Set
By: Wild Ophelia
$10.25

Spice Tin Gift Box
By: Sauce Goddess Gourmet
$24.00

Eco-dough
By: eco-kids
$19.99

Wool Felt Jewelry Kit
By: Artterro
$22.00

Check back tomorrow for a coupon code good only on Friday, which can be used on all items, including those on sale!

Blessings~






Thursday, November 20, 2014

One Day Only Sale (Educational Gifts!!)

I received an email in my inbox today detailing an Amazon "Deal of the Day" that I thought was worth mentioning, since I'm planning to purchase one of the items myself... :)
I try to not get into the over-hyping of "stuff" but when it's good quality... I feel the need to share a good deal! (Some of these would make fantastic gifts for donations!)

There are a bunch of Learning Resources products on sale for 50%+ off. We own and love a bunch of these toys!

So, what item am I planning to purchase? We have a VERY old, breaking, tiny cash register (from when my 17 yo was a tike), and my 7 year old keeps saying that he would love it if we got a new one. I've put it on the back burner because the list price for most of the pretend cash registers out there doesn't correlate with our budget... Enter the Learning Resources Teaching Cash Register (on sale for $27.50 instead of $50/$60, and less than I could find it anywhere else)

It has drawers that hold real sized money (!),  instead of and itty bitty cash drawer which is what our current falling apart cash register holds.  Of course I don't expect TOO much wear and tear given my youngest's age, but sturdiness is definitely something to consider, and this one looks pretty good!

Apparently there are also some teaching games (This machine "talks"... which may be good or bad depending on your POV) that can help with counting, coin recognition, and basic "money math" which is something some teens at the grocery store could use upon occasion. ;)

Other items of interest?

Learning Resources Pretend & Play Kitchen Set for $22.50
We don't own this exact set, but we own many of the items in it. Fun times! :)



One of my favorites, and the one we have owned for years (Still going strong...) Educational Insights Pots N' Pans Set (currently $10). It looks like they've added a couple of kitchen tools since our purchase over a decade ago (potato masher and tongs)

There are a bunch of other fun kitchen/shopping type items on this daily deal as well as some jumbo plastic play animal sets that are often very popular with the young set... here are a few of them, there are more in the sale:



Learning Resources Jumbo Farm Animals ($15)
Learning Resources Jumbo Domestic Pets ($15)
    Learning Resources Jumbo Jungle Animals ($15)

There are other toys~ Gears, Science Tools,  a Time Tracker, and more...
Check them out if you like, and I hope that this was useful to you!



 Blessings~



Tuesday, November 18, 2014

NKJV Study Bible (BookLook Review)


When I saw the NKJV Study Bible, Full Color Edition was available to review, I decided to check it out. I watched the trailer on it, and then called my 17 year old over to see if she would like to use it. I have to say, I never would have expected her reaction to the trailer... when it got to the 44/45 second mark was about when I heard her say "o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-h" in a voice that is generally reserved for cute little fluffy bunnies and kittens and such.
You'll have to watch the trailer to see what caught her attention :D

I recommend watching the trailer anyway.  This is definitely a case of not judging a book by its cover, as the cover itself is rather bland, the Full Color Edition refers to the inside which is filled with beautiful photographs and maps right in the text, so that you can see what you're reading about on the same page. This is all highlighted in the trailer below. (And yes, we jumped right on the opportunity to review this Bible). 

Our thoughts: 
  • It is wonderful to have a good study Bible in the NKJV, as that is what my kids use for memorization. 
  • The center column reference is a new tool for my daughter, and one that I have a great fondness for myself. 
  • The concordance is one of the most complete in-Bible concordances that I have seen in a long time~ also a good tool (One of my daughter's favorite features).
  • Having the maps and photos in the text helps to bring the words more to life as one reads~ what a great feature! 
  • Book introductions, outlines and timelines are all useful to the Bible scholar, whether they are just starting out, or are an old hand at study.
  • There are also Word Studies and indexes, which haven't been used yet, but will be handy when the need arises. 
  • The Textual Notes haven't been used yet, so I can't speak to those at this point. 
We wonder if this Bible in the leather binding would be lighter, as the hard-cover is rather heavy and not as conducive to bringing along to church or her youth group Bible study~ we would love to be able to have all those benefits in a slightly more portable edition (understanding that with all the extra features, this might be a difficult proposition). 

If you are looking for a new study Bible, something for a junior high or high school student, college student or adult, then this might be a most excellent choice. It is available at the FaithGateway Store,  Amazon (Aff link), CBD, and most likely your local Christian Book Store. 


Blessings, 



Friday, November 14, 2014

Snake Oil Salesmen? (Out of the Box Review)



While I am a self-avowed Curriculum Junkie, we always enjoy it when the TOS Review Crew is sent something extra fun for review. How delightful that our last review for the 2014 run was just that. We were sent Snake Oil ~ Party Potion (for ages 8 and up), a product of Out of the Box Games (other crew members received the original Snake Oil game for ages 10+, so be sure to check out the link at the end of my review to see how these games were received in their homes).

The basic premise is that there is a “Customer” and there are “Snake Oil Salesmen” (with the customer rotating throughout the round till everyone has had a turn). The customer draws a customer card and chooses to be the character on either side. The Salesmen (Everyone else) draw 6 cards each and choose to use 2 cards to create a product that they will pitch to the customer.


Here is an entertaining little video that introduces the game and how to play: 

The game can be played with 3-6 players, or adapted to group play game-show style, with a host, 3 contestants (salesmen), and an audience. We personally felt it worked best with at least 4 players. There was a handful of cards that we decided to remove from the deck since we're not fond of gross humor in our house (potty, snot, pimple, butt) and a couple others (skull, spirit) that didn't fit with us well. Also, for some of my readers who stay away from wizards and magic, there are customer cards that include those characters, but they can be avoided easily enough. 

We enjoyed playing out of the box, and all over the room (the couch, the rocking chair, the desk...), which didn't make for very good picture taking opportunities, but I did record a somewhat edited transcript of some of the rounds so you can get a feel for the game. I am going to list the customers and the products that were being pitched to. You can decide which product you would have chosen as the winner. I will list the winners below my disclaimer in this post, and you can see if your choices match our customers. The participants in this record were Mom, Eldest (17), Middlest (14), and Youngest (7).

Waitress
  • Smile Sponge ~ When you wipe the table, your customers will be guaranteed to smile, and less than 10% tips will be a thing of the past.
  • Jar Locker~ Holds everything on the plate, so you never need to worry about dropping any plates when your tray is filled to overflowing.
  • Tummy Chair~ Releases chemicals that create space in the tummy, so your customers will always have room for dessert. 
Grandma
  • Volcano Grave~ If you’re at a volcano that is erupting, you can use the Volcano Grave to ‘Bury” the eruption.
  • Memory Ribbon~ Will help Grandmas remember memories~ rub the ribbon while thinking of something, and when you touch it later, the memory will return.
  • Yarn Security~ Insurance for your yarn~ will replace your yarn if it gets stolen, lost, or damaged by an act of God.
Fisherman
  • Forest Puddle ~ A private Puddle in the Forest, where the largest bass are found more easily, because there is less acreage for them to hide in.
  • Video Coat~ A coat that plays videos, for when you’re sitting around doing nothing while you’re fishing.
  • Spider Escape~ A spray that will eliminate any spider you run into on the path, on the shore, or in your boat.
Olympic Athlete
  • Peace Dust~  Sprinkle it on to calm your nerves before your competition.
  • Trail Putty ~  to fix the spots that might be broken or rough (or missing manhole covers on the way to the event venue...).
  • Tickle Tub ~  to distract your dog when it’s taking a bath. (?)
School Bus Driver
  • Victory Slipper~ Wear it so your favorite athlete or team will win!
  • Fact Rug~ for the aisle of your bus~ It will help to avoid spill and slips and falls and bruises, but not only that, it is educational~ it will help the students on your bus learn their mathematical, grammatical, geographical, and any other ical fact they may need on the way to school. AND not only that, it will so entertain your students that they will be quite as mice.
  • Guilt Pants~ for the misbehaving children on the bus, that don’t always tell the truth (Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire?)  These are pants that you put on the child (like snowpants), and they will tell you the truth!
OUR THOUGHTS

Littlest: I love playing Snake Oil because it’s fun

Middlest: This is a really great game. It makes people think and be creative. This would be a fun game for Youth Group! 

Eldest: Snake Oil is entertaining to watch people play, but it isn’t great for the literalist.

Mom: Snake Oil is a fun, easy to learn game that helps to promote creativity, and encourage public speaking skills when played with theatrical expression. Out of the Box Games even offers some extra "Classroom activities"  for 5th grade+ to expand on those themes~ I like having more options, and it makes me feel better about having the occasional game days. :) 

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
You can visit Out Of the Box Games on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube

Please click the banner below to visit the TOS Review Crew and see what others had to say about Snake Oil - Party Potion and the Original Snake Oil games. As always, I hope that this review was useful to you as you choose where best to spend your homeschool budget.

*NEWSFLASH* This is my last TOS Review Crew for the 2014 calendar year, and it marks my 250th Review for the TOS Review Crew since it started in 2008. Milestone worth mentioning... :)
Blessings~



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Waitress~ Jar Locker
Grandma ~ Yarn Security
Fisherman ~ Forest Puddle 
Olympic Athlete ~ Trail Putty 
School Bus Driver ~ Fact Rug

How did these choices stack up against your choices? 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

IXL Math and Language Arts Review


Youngest was delighted to know that we were selected to review IXL one more time, as he frequently requested to use it for math last year and occasionally over the summer. (You can read my previous reviews for IXL in 2012 and IXL in 2013 to see what my thoughts were for K/7th grade and 1st grade). 

This time I used it mostly with Youngest for 2nd grade IXL Math and we tried out the 2nd grade IXL Language Arts as well. Middlest is using an Algebra program that doesn’t totally follow a traditional track, so he only popped on to check it out a couple of times. There are skills for children from Pre-K -12th grade in Math, and 2nd-8th grade in Language Arts. 

Our experiences were very similar to in the past~ I appreciate the ability to check out the reports, of which there is a huge assortment! I would imagine that this would be especially useful to homeschoolers who live in states that require huge amounts of documentation.

  • Status Updates include a pie chart as well as a Proficiency assessment, News flashes and a Report Card
  • Usage (which includes the ability to see all of the problems attempted, only those with correct answers, or only those with wrong answers among other options) along with a list of the skills practiced and a Usage Log which shows the session time each day, the amount of actual time spent practicing, the number of problems attempted and the number of skills practiced. This is helpful for keeping kids accountable~ if the length of their session doesn’t correspond to the actual time spent engaged with the program you might want to talk about distractions and diligence… 
  • Performance, by category and by skill
  • Trouble Spots
  • Progress (Improvement over Time)
  • State Standards
As in the past, my Youngest has been very motivated to fill in his Math award chart with stickers (and we are somewhat disappointed that there isn’t a chart for the Language Arts program, but hopefully that is in the works). We do run into trouble sometimes if we try to do too many skills out of order, so I go between having him work on specific skills and work on completing the skills required to collect a sticker.
Here is what his Award Chart looks like currently:


A word about our general process~ this is something that can be an independent practice program. However, I have discovered that Youngest tends to do a little better when I’m next to him, reminding him to read the problems carefully and to check his answers before hitting submit, as a careless answer will end up creating more problems for him to complete, which will then take more time, and can occasionally cause frustration at the inability to complete the skill in a timely manner.

Initial LA Problem I intentionally got wrong
to show how to complete the problem.
Thoughts on the Language Arts portion: We used the first problem as a learning tool so that he would understand what was being requested (by purposely getting it wrong, so as to get to the instruction…). 

Generally speaking I was fairly happy with the skills, although Youngest wasn’t thrilled with the Language Arts portion~ as there is really no immediate incentive to complete skills, and they are fairly “workbook-ish” in nature, so not very attention grabbing. I do have to say that they receive nice certificates for completing certain amounts of questions, so that is helpful. :) 

I will also mention that there were some sentences used in the examples that I was not prepared for Youngest to read. Probably not an issue with most people, but it did cause some discussions that we hadn’t had. He hasn’t run into “step-family” situations personally, so he requested an explanation of Stepfather and Stepmother when they both showed up within minutes of one another. Yes… unfortunate facts of life, but I didn’t think a language arts program would introduce them.

As I mentioned above, Middlest only used the Algebra portion a little bit. He didn’t feel that it works well as a teaching tool, but is probably useful as a practice tool if it follows your Algebra program.


New to IXL is the ability to access IXL on your tablet. This is sometimes easier for my Youngest to manipulate, so he uses the ipad with regularity to get his IXL Math done. You can download the app and practice up to 20 free questions a day to get a feel for how it works before purchasing.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, this has been a requested program by my youngest, so that speaks volumes about how he generally feels about it, and as a teacher, I am pleased with the scope and sequence of the mathematics in particular, somewhat less so with the LA, but if your kids thrive on workbook style curriculum, this might be a great way to get some great practice in, with good records to show at the end of the year. 

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
  • Company: IXL 
  • Product: IXL Math  and  IXL Language Arts 
  • Ages: 
    • Math ~ Pre-K- 12th (Pre-Calculus)
    • Language Arts ~ Currently offering 2nd to 8th grade
  • Price: 
    • $9.95/month for Math OR Language, $15.95/month for both
    • $79.00/year for Math OR Language, $129/year for both
    • Additional children are $2/month extra or $20/year extra
You can visit IXL on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+

Please click the banner below to visit the TOS Review Crew and see what others had to say. As always, I hope that this review was useful to you as you choose where best to spend your homeschool budget.

Blessings~



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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

If He Had Not Come (Christmas Book Review)

We just received a new Christmas Picture Book, If He Had Not Come , that is a not a new story (It was originally published in 1938 as part of an anthology), but it is freshly illustrated by Charles Jaskiewicz and reintroduced by David Nicholson to reach a new generation of children. 

The premise is that a young boy, Bobby goes to bed Christmas Eve thinking “Christmas thoughts” with a repetitive undercurrent in his mind of words from his Bible reading earlier that night from John 15:22 “If I had not come.” He awakens to a monochromatic world, where not only color is missing, but also many things that are a part of our everyday lives. Some things are obvious: no more “Christmas” and churches. There are some other things missing that might be less evident, until one considers their Christian origins. The story ends with Bobby realizing how very different the world would be if Jesus hadn’t come, and Bobby’s determination to live a thankful and intentional life.


This book may be a little too deep for the very young, but has the potential to spark some interesting discussions with your elementary aged child on up. There are some resources included in the book that could be useful in either a family or group setting to help those discussions along.
·      A set of open-ended questions at the end of the book that may help the children hearing the story to really think about it, and dwell on the main concept.
·      Going Deeper questions and activities that pull in Scripture to help emphasize the impact of the birth of Jesus.
·      Gospel Message ABC’s explained (Admit, Believe, Confess)

This may be one of those books where insight is gained through repetition, as a child grows. The very youngest may mostly hear it simply as a story (Which was my youngest’s reaction as a seven-year-old), but as they age, the profound impact of “If He Had Not Come” may seep more into their psyche. My seventeen year old appreciated the story, much as David Nicholson did on his first hearing, when she read through the book on her own. 

A word about the illustrations by Charles Jaskiewicz~ They are warm pastels (?) that exude warmth when appropriate, and show confusion and the chill of a world without Christ.

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
You can visit David Nicholson and If He Had Not Come on Facebook. 

All proceeds of the sale of If He Had Not Come will be donated to the National Christian Foundation, which grows funds in order to offer grants to charities, so your purchase has the potential to bear both spiritual and temporal fruit, and it would make a fine “Advent” gift for the young families in your life.

Please click the banner below to visit the TOS Review Crew and see what others had to say. As always, I hope that this review was useful to you as you choose where best to spend your homeschool budget.

Blessings~



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