Friday, October 29, 2010

Yucky, sticky, saucy, chunky ... Polymers!


So~ our latest review item from the TOS Crew was YUCKY!!!!


Really, I'm not kidding!!! Just take a look at this:
 
Buckets of Snow
Now, this stuff isn't too terrible... actually.... it's pretty cool(but not as cold as snow).... little tiny balls! Looks like slush! 
Buckets of Chunky
This stuff is pretty neat! (Stay tuned for more photos... my kids liked this a lot! )

Buckets of Saucy
Well.... it was "Saucy"... not nearly as exciting as the others, 

But THIS.... This.... THIS is.... YUCKY! Sticky! Gooey! GROSS!

Buckets of.. ewww...... Sticky gooo!
Buckets-O-Fun sent TOS Crew members sample sizes of these 4 "YUCKY"  polymer products to play with and examine. Along with the samples we received some sheets that gave ideas for games (Many of which would work best in group situations, and with larger quantities of "yuck"), and some experiments. The most exciting observations had to do with the textures "Before" and "After" adding water.

We decided on the advice of others, to take this experiment outside on our front porch, and to use disposable containers, because clean-up could be... well.... yucky! So, we set up some plastic containers:
Snowy Yuck Crystals
saucy
Saucy Yuck Crystals
snowy

sticky yuck crystals
sticky
The saucy yuck had the appearance of veryfine sugar crystals
the snowy yuck looked like table salt crystals



chunky yuck crystals
chunky
the sticky yuck kind of looked like finely shredded coconut
and the chunky yuck looked like rock salt crystals

We added a cup of water to each (Oops... didn't totally follow directions... note: sticky yuck wants to be stirred.. but it turned out ok in the end), and were amazed that the saucy yuck and the snowy yuck absorbed the water almost immediately! Wow! The sticky yuck kind of hung out on the bottom of the container (hence the note... stir it as you add the water... silly me!), and the chunky yuck expanded VERY slowly. After about an hour the chunky yuck was still only about a centimeter in size, which is still pretty big, considering the initial size of the crystals.

We ended up with a number of neighborhood boys checking this stuff out and  sticking their hands into our containers of yuck. We talked about how this is the sort of stuff that makes disposable diapers work, and I asked what other sorts of applications it could be used for. I got answers like "Tons of "Snowy yuck" in my back yard so I can snowboard in the summer..." Boys~ gotta love 'em!
I asked them about arrid ecosystems, and then they started to get the picture. :)

The snowy yuck was the neatest in my estimation, although I added a little too much water, and we ended up with a "Slushy" consistency, but it was pretty cool to see those tiny balls of mostly water.

Sticky yuck 2Sticky Yuck 3Of course, the sticky stuff won hands down for most popular, and grossest. I think I may get the cool mom on the block award for actually putting my hands in the stuff and playing with it. Once I worked it for awhile it started to absorb the water quite nicely, in spite of my not following directions, and boy... is it sticky~ see for yourself!

Of course the boys immediately decided this would be fun to take to school... "Hey, teacher? I need a tissue!" (But, nope... it all stayed at our house in its container) Side note: my 13 yo daughter was interested in "looking" but was not inclined to touch any but the chunky and snowy yuck...

The chunky yuck took hours to fully hydrate, and was most amazing in it's expansion properties. Here is a picture that shows the expanded chunk, an un-hydrated crystal and a quarter to show relative size.
Expanded chunky yuck

If this looks like something your tactile learners or scientific-minded children might be interested in, you can read some other TOS Crew Reviews, and then head on over to Buckets-O-Fun, where you can pick up a pound of Yuck for $16-$20. If you would like to check it out first hand before buying, you can email orders@buckets-o-fun.com for a sample.

If you are involved in scouts, co-op, youth groups, or field day, this might be an interesting product to check out, and while you're at Buckets-O-Fun you might want to check out their inflatable and water fun items as well.

Caution: I wouldn't recommend this for anyone that is "mouthy" (3 yo or under, or any other "mouthy" kids), as it is dangerous to ingest. Buckets-O-Fun offers a pdf outlining their YUCK safety guidelines (Mostly common sense, but worth reading).

As always, I hope that this review is useful to you as you choose where to best spend you homeschooling budget.

Blessings~
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this/these item(s)/service for free as part of the TOS Crew Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Friday, October 8, 2010

Digital Frog ~ Virtual Fieldtrips DVD

Digital Frog Intl Logo

Digifrog Field Trip Series dvdI had "heard" of Digital Frog, (my take being that it is a virtual dissection  software for those that don't have the resources to do dissection labs, OR are too squeamish to follow through....), so I was interested in hearing what they had to offer as a vendor for the TOS Crew this year (RJP would be one of those "Squeamish" types... she gets it from her mom/teacher.. sigh....).  I was pleased to find out I was on the list to receive software from them, but it wasn't the "Digital Frog". Members of the TOS Crew were given the Digital Field Trip Series DVD(Mac and Windows compatible), with 3 "Field Trips" to actual  Desert, Wetlands, and Rainforest Biomes. 
Hey kids, pull up a chair~ we're going on a few trips, and we don't even have to put gas in the car, or buy a plane ticket! :)
Digifrog Rainforest

Each Field Trip includes "virtual" 360° panoramic views of a real location, with the ability to zoom in and scan around. There are  "Field notes" included(See right side of the image below), with clickable blue links that expand on what is written in the notes or seen on the screen. When we clicked on "Coyotes" in the notes,  the scene on the screen rotated to bring a coyote into view. Click on the coyote in the photo, and a "reference" page opened up. These pages often include a video, more photos, and information about the particular subject.  While my oldest enjoyed most of the material, she opted not to watch the video of a wolf catching it's prey, my middlest wasn't bothered in the least. My littlest was happy to sit on a lap and watch the 360° "locations". ~ Something for everyone!  Almost every word included in the text on the screen is "Defined" and even pronounced if you like.That's just amazing to me... what a lot of work went into these!
The field trips were produced with a high school audience in mind, but if you have a multi-age homeschool, you may find that there is something of interest for everyone. While my oldest enjoyed most of the material, she opted not to watch the video of a wolf catching it's prey, my middlest wasn't bothered in the least. My littlest was happy to sit on a lap and watch the 360° "locations". Note~  Almost every word included in the text on the screen is "Defined" and even pronounced if you like.That's just amazing to me... what a lot of work went into these!

Digifrog Wetlands
There is incredible amount of data included for each biome, and we have only scratched the surface. If you'd like to get an idea, here is a list of the topics covered. Just to whet your appetite a little,  a few of the topics covered in one or more of the field trips on this "Series" DVD include:
Diversity of Life
  • Plant and Animal Structure and Function
  • Animal Comparisons and Adaptations
  • Plant Comparisons and Adaptations
Interdependence of Life
  • Animal dependencies (food, shelter, nesting, pollination, dispersal)
  • Biodiversity
  • Habitat changes: harmful or beneficial
  • Interactions/relationships (eg. producer/consumer, predator/prey)
Flow of Matter and Energy
  • Food: building materials, energy/fuel
  • Food: photosynthesis
  • Food: breakdown for energy & materials
  • Energy: food energy from plants
  • Human impact reduces fertility of land
Given that the company didn't produce from a creation worldview, there are themes that relate to evolution. I haven't run in to any of them directly in our use of the software, but I when I do, I will use the opportunity to discuss our viewpoint, and why we hold it.

In addition to the panoramic photography, reference materials and videos included in each field trip, there are a variety of activities and worksheets (With "teacher notes/answers") for each field trip.

The nitty gritty on this resource: Home Licenses come in a variety of options:
$60/individual Field Trip
$125 for the 3 DVD Series that we reviewed (on one computer)
$135 for for 3 DVD Series (on up to 3 computers)

There are other pricing options for co-op use, and "bundle" prices that might be worth looking at if you're planning to purchase any of their other software. Click here for those details.
If you would like to research these field trips a little more, you are invited to download limited "Demos" of the Digital Frog Software. You can also read the opinions of my fellow TOS Crewmates by visiting the TOS Crew Blog.

As always, I hope that this review provided some useful information for you regarding the Digital Frog Field Trips, and will help you plan where best to spend your homeschool budget.

Blessings~
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this/these item(s)/service for free as part of the TOS Crew Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Cranberry Christmas extended thru Sunday

Hi, Friends~

Just wanted to pass along the information I just got in an email....

Oops . . .
If you tried to order the $19.95 Cranberries & Cream subscription special early this morning, you may have noticed a pricing issue in the Schoolhouse Store.
So, we're extending the $19.95 for 2 years of TOS special!
You have an extra day to grab this great deal--that's midnight PST on Sunday, October 3!
Here's what you receive for only $19.95:
TWO years of TOS Magazine AND
The FREE gorgeous Homeschooling with Heart tote bag,
A FREE Fall 2010 Issue of TOS Magazine,
The FREE E-Book: Cranberry Christmas!
Please read the previous post for all of the details.
Again, this $19.95 price is extended through Sunday, October 3 at midnight PST.


Blessings~

TOS Cranberry Christmas Sale (Crosspost)

Receive a free cranberry and cream Homeschooling with Heart tote bag and a 2-year subscription to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine for just $19.95--through October 2, 2010.

Hey, Friends~ Can you believe the holidays are just around the corner? The folks at The Old Schoolhouse Magazine have been getting ready for months to create this offer for you. I'm sorry that I missed getting this information out to you as soon as I heard(What can I say... it was Tuesday or Wednesday, and we had grandparents visiting from 1000s of miles away, so I have a little excuse), but it is good through Saturday, October 2~

TOS is offering a great bargain. You can receive two years plus the fall issue of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.  Packed with more than 200 pages, it is a resource homeschoolers treasure. Subscribers will also receive the Homeschooling With Heart tote bag (I LOVE my TOS Bags! They are sturdy, and come with me just about everywhere!) AND a copy of the E-Book Cranberry Christmas, available for immediate download. You’ll get all of these inspirational, festive, and fun goodies for only $19.95. This price is good for new subscribers, renewals, gift subscriptions, and U.S. or Canadian customers. The sale lasts just through Saturday, October 2. 

However,  if you couldn't get to it by Saturday, there is still a good deal~  October 3 through October 5, even though the sale drops down to a one-year subscription plus the fall issue, you still receive the tote and the e-book Cranberry Christmas.  

Here is a little more information about Cranberry Christmas, direct from the folks at TOS~
This is a great  “idea book” to get your family ready for the upcoming holidays!
The staff and friends of The Old Schoolhouse® have come together to share their favorite family traditions, recipes, and more with you.


It’s your FREE gift!


WOW . . . a gorgeous holiday/Christmas digital magazine filled with inspirational and “how-to” articles, along with a fabulous lineup of planning, recipe, gift, and craft ideas you’ll love. 


If you’re familiar with The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, you know what an inspiring resource it is. This digital holiday supplement is ourgift to you—a unique way to support, encourage, and inspire you and your family during this wondrous time of year.


This 100-page digital holiday magazine is not your typical E-Book. Because this supplement is created with the same high-quality format that’s used in the digital version of our print magazine, you can even “turn” its lavishly illustrated, full-color pages. And we hope you will enjoy this timeless, practical, and beautiful resource for years to come.


Its seasonally rich content will boost your creativity and show you how to make the most of the holiday season! Dive right in and start using the wonderful new craft and recipe ideas to enhance your family's holiday experience.


Will you bring back old traditions or start some new ones? We’d like to help you plan some meaningful holiday memories that the whole family will enjoy.

Get a free limited edition, cranberry and cream, Homeschooling with Heart tote bag and a two-year subscription to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine for just $19.95. Offer good only through midnight on October 2, 2010.


Receive a free cranberry and cream Homeschooling with Heart tote bag and a 2-year subscription to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine for just $19.95--through October 2, 2010.


Blessings~

Friday, October 1, 2010

"Foundlings, book one of The Peleg Chronicles"

Photobucket

As someone who is fond of The Chronicles of Narnia, Historical Fiction, and Fantasy, I was excited to receive a new book from Zoe and Sozo Publishing~ "Foundlings, book one of The Peleg Chronicles". I was especially excited to preview a book that promised adventure with "No Magic, No Evolution, No Humanism", and it was of additional interest that it was written by Matthew Christian Harding,  a homeschooling father of four.

Here is a portion of a summary by the publishers:
PhotobucketFoundlings, book one of The Peleg Chronicles is Historical Fiction that takes place in the time period of Peleg, soon after the Tower of Babel dispersion. In its pages we meet dragons, giants, false priests, the death hunt, and under-city of the Dwarven Brotherhood(short human beings), and many memorable characters......Foundlings weaves together the Biblical principles of chivalry, truth, courage, duty, faith and love...." 

According to the author, Foundlings is intended for an audience of at least 10 to 12 years of age, depending on the personality of the child, and certainly no younger than 7. Those who are familiar with me, as well as my children won't be surprised to hear that I would increase those ages by about 2 years for my family(meaning that I didn't even have my 13 yo read this). This is mainly because there are some rather intense scenes involving the aforementioned false priests and their practices, as well as some of the possible realities of life (then and now) that we may not be ready to address, even in fiction.

That being said, there are some very interesting details in Foundlings, including "OOPARTS" (Out Of Place Artifacts) that are often ignored or "retooled" into fitting an evolutionary world view. I just had a discussion with my "history buff" father this past week about some of the amazing technological discoveries being made by archaeologists, so it was interesting to find some of these referenced in Foundlings~ Makes me want to go do some more "Digging"... ;)

There are characters and some locations that are historical, others that are imagined. This was one  "difficulty" I had in reading this book~ The author says that he took many of the character, place names, religious and cultural practices from more recent ancient history, and I had a hard time reconciling Celtic names/practices with more Tower of Babel ancients... Oh, and although the books do not include "magic", there IS a witch character who shows up on the first page, and cultish religious behavior on the part of the false priests.

PhotobucketI've always enjoyed books with the "fantasy" elements of dragons and "underground worlds". I appreciate that dragons, at least, have an authenticity in the Bible, although there are those who would argue the point. So once I got beyond MY preconceptions of the time period, I have to say that I did enjoy the story for the story's sake, and the elements of the plot-line. In fact, when I got to the end of the book, it left me eager to find out what happens to the characters in "Paladins book two".

If your family enjoys "Lord of the Rings", "Narnia", and historical fiction, I would urge you to look into Foundlings and use your discretion regarding its age-appropriateness for your children. I mustn't forget to add that there is a section after the story ends with "The Gospel of Jesus Christ" detailing the plan of salvation which makes this an excellent tool for sharing the TRUTH, the Good News, with youth who are intrigued with "Fantasy", dragons, and more...

Foundlings is available directly from Zoe and Sozo Publishers (Where you can read much more about the author and the Peleg Chronicles) your local bookstore, and online booksellers.
List price is $11.95, 232 pages

As always, I hope that this review is helpful to you as you determine where to spend your hard-earned homeschool budget. For other opinions on Foundlings, please visit the TOS Crew Blog.

Blessings~
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this/these item(s)/service for free as part of the TOS Crew Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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