Wednesday, November 26, 2008

one2believe nativity set

Hi, all~

Today I’m reviewing an item that was sent to me as part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, and it is just in time for some quick Christmas/Advent shopping!

One2believe is a company that is trying to “Take back the Toybox” by offering Biblically-based toys. Check out their full line here.

If you are looking for a child-friendly nativity, would like to add to your nativity collection, start a new one, OR have an alternative to the FisherPrice and Playmobil nativities, you may wish to check out the offering by one2believe.

The Tales of Glory Nativity Set includes a “Birth of Baby Jesus” mini-storybook and 17 PVC pieces (Joseph, Mary, baby Jesus in manger, King #1, King #2, King #3, Angel #1, Angel #2, Shepherd #1, Shepherd #2, male camel, male donkey, male sheep, female sheep, stable, tree, and a barrel of hay). For ages 3+

Here’s a quick "my comparison" chart:

One2believe Friendly characteristicsMostly not chokeable (3+)Immoveable partsExpandable play with other sets$25($24.99 to be precise)Includes wise men
FisherPrice Cute
Not chokeable (1+)
Immoveable parts
Expandable play with other sets$26-$33Wise men extra
Typical playmobil
Choking hazard!
Movable parts
Expandable play with other sets
Wise men Extra

There are only a couple of things I noticed that I would change with this set if I could.

First, Joseph’s headcovering is so heavy that he finds it difficult to stand up all the time. The good thing is that the stable has a great nook for him to rest.

Second, I, personally, would appreciate it if the angels and the shepherds had distinct features, instead of just a different “paintjob”. My 11 year old daughter noticed their identical features as well, but she still thought the angels were her favorite pieces, so this isn’t a huge deal. Actually, it could be rather fun for those families who have twins! How often do you find identical twins in a playset without purchasing a separate figure?? So…. In deference to the “Twinned” families out there, maybe I wouldn’t change this feature. ☺

My 16 month old, who really isn’t supposed to be playing with this (We remove Baby Jesus, as the greatest choking hazard, when he is playing with the set), really loves the sheep. He immediately picks them both up and carts them around with him. (They ARE very cute. ☺ )

Ok, here’s one more thing to consider when making your nativity purchase… I haven’t checked out what “charities” Playmobil and Fisher Price support, but one2believe supports many ministries in both the United States and abroad including Hero Antigua, Samaritans Purse, Focus on the Family, FamilyLife and local Southern California ministries. If you want your money to go further than the corporation, one2believe might be a good choice for you!

Have fun playing with your kiddos!

Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

One Laptop Per Child

Hey, do you remember hearing about this program last year?
I remembered it, and decided to check out the website again.

One Laptop Per Child, is a company that has created a durable (potentially solar powered!) laptop (the XO Laptop) that is dust and water resistant.

Last November mass production began, and The Give One Get One program resulted in sales of over 150,000 laptops.

This November and December, you can give a laptop to a child in your life, AND give one to a child in a third world country for only $400! They have built in wifi, and can be networked effortlessly to other nearby XO's.

From the website:
There are XO's in over 30 countries from Peru to Rwanda, and everywhere it goes, the results are the same. The laptops help children build on their active interest in the world around them to engage with powerful ideas. When the laptops arrive school attendance goes up, and kids begin teaching each other how to use the machine.

With the XO laptop, kids actually learn how to learn. And one by one a new generation will emerge. With the power to change the world.

If this sounds like something that you'd like to get involved in, please check it out!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Media Angels~ The Missing link:FOUND

Ok, Time for another review!

This time it’s one of my favorite things… a book review! ☺ (notice a trend here lately?)

From Media Angels
The book is “The Missing Link: FOUND” , the first in the Truth Seekers Mystery Series by Christine Gerwitz and her mom, Felice. Christine decided to start writing when she was only 12, and convinced her mom that because they were homeschoolers, they could figure out the “how” of writing and publishing a novel ☺. This book is the result of that conviction.

Christine and Felice set out to write an exciting, action-packed novel, with a homeschooling Christian brother/sister duo, Anna and Christian Murphy as the main characters. The rest of the cast includes their “Evolutionist” cousin David and Archaeologist Uncle Mike, their Creation Scientist/Archaeologist father, Jack Murphy, an assisting paleoanthropologist Jim Johnson, and some other characters that you can read about for yourself.

There is an exciting boat chase in the Florida Keys, and a mystery at Uncle Mike’s anthropological dig. Interspersed throughout the book are many instances of modeling Christian Character (or “working” on it…), as well as examples and facts regarding Creation and Evolution. You can rest easy when your children read this book, knowing that they won't be exposed to what my children call "inappropriate" attitudes or conversations.

While not exactly “great literature”, this IS a great book for those who have “reluctant reader” tweens/teens, and/or “brain candy” for those who devour books on a daily basis. Even tho' I'm not a "Boat chase" kind of reader, I have to admit that after about the 4th or 5th chapter I was readily turning the pages to see what was coming up next. Sadly, my own voracious 11 year old reader couldn’t give me a review on this book because it does not fall even remotely into a category of reading that she enjoys(that's OK... it happens...). However, I do happen to have a young (13 yo) neighbor who I asked to read and review it. When I knocked on his door today, he said that he was enjoying the book. It is interesting and exciting, and he’s looking forward to finishing it when I give it back to him tomorrow (After I get this review written! ☺ ).

There are some editorial errors, but many people don’t even notice. However, if you want to give your tween/teen a proofreading assignment (AFTER they’ve read the book for fun…) go ahead! I’m sure that Felice would appreciate a list of any errors found, and their page #’s, for the next reprinting of the book. You could also add the Study Guide that Felice created (being a homeschooling mom and all), for a literature/science unit study.

Oh and I should mention that the set of all three novels is on sale for a limited time for only $22, a saving of $4.97 off the regular price of $26.97( $8.99 each).

If you have a child interested in science, this could be a fun Christmas gift!

When you visit the Media Angels website, in addition to their store, you will find online and/or audio science classes, Free science experiment and scientific method downloads, Creation Camp-in-a-box, and more.

To sum up, I would say that this is a website/curriculum provider that is worth keeping your eye on, as they begin to offer more online science classes, as well as other Homeschool and Science resources, and if you are waiting for those, you may just want to pick up a copy of one of the Truth Seekers Mysteries, to pass the time, and check it out for yourself.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Review: Homeschool Library Builder (Fill Your Bookshelves Without Empying your Wallet)

Ok, I’m a self-confessed Book-a-holic, and I have been since I was a kid. (I started my picture book collection with my own money when I was 11 years old…)

Anyway, these days I find it hard to get out to the used book stores to scour their shelves for wonderful Living books, and Library Book Sales are sometimes hard to navigate with a toddler in tow.

Enter Homeschool Library Builder, a joint venture between two homeschooling moms, Gayla Weatherford and Julie Huffman.

Now, this isn’t an ordinary online bookstore (think Amazon), with a huge stock of books. What it IS filled with are treasures unearthed by Julie and Gayla’s experienced eyes, just waiting for you to pick them up. You will want to be fairly quick about completing your purchase if you find a rare book tho’, because there may be only ONE copy of the book that you are looking for.

Bonus…. If you are signed in as a member (it’s free, and no, they don’t send out tons of emails, so your inbox is safe with them..), the books you put in your cart will stay there (unless you don’t return for a period of time), real-time inventory! (Example… I had an out of print Five In A Row book in my cart… when I clicked on it’s title to check something out, it came up as “none available”, which concerned me at first, but I realized shortly that it wasn’t available because it was IN my cart… just like at a Brick and Mortar store… except no one’s husband could accidentally run off with my cart! ☺ )

Major Pros:
The prices are reasonable, BARGAINS in every instance, not price-gouging
The descriptions of the books and their condition (Remember, many are used) are complete and thorough.
You can browse the site in numerous ways
• New Arrivals/New Arrivals within two weeks
• Clearance
• Special Categories (For instance, right now there is a category of books whose proceeds are earmarked to fill up shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child! COOL! Oh, and you will receive free shipping on these items~ A win! win! situation!)
• Curriculum: Five in a Row, Sonlight , Beautiful Feet, Veritas Press, Tapestry of Grace, Ambleside Online
• Age
• Country/Region
• Topic/Category: Activity Books/Crafts, Anthologies/Storybooks, Award Winners, Biographies, Christian Fiction, Classics/Literature, Curriculum/Teacher Helps, Fiction, Gifts, Hard-to-Find/Collectibles, Historical Fiction, Historical Non-Fiction, Holidays/Seasons, Inspirational, Picture Books, Poetry/Art/Music, Readers, Reference, Science
The search function works perfectly, hurrah!
The Customer Service is Fast and Friendly!

Cons... I didn't find any~ I am completely happy with the service and site!

Gayla and Julie run several specials and sales throughout the year. Be sure to sign up for their newsletter so that you hear first what specials are coming up!

Oh, and did I mention that they have “frequent buyer” program? Their “Book Points” program works like this. For every dollar you spend on books, you accrue one point. Every 15 points is worth $1 towards your next purchase. So, say you make a purchase worth $39 in books, the next time you shop, you will have a $2 credit to apply to your purchase, with 9 points left over for next time. So, not only are you saving money by purchasing used/remainders with HSLibraryBuilder, you are also saving money on your future purchases!

Now, if I haven’t convinced you to check them out yet, I don’t know what else I can say, but I will mention that I just scrolled through 33 pages of AWARD winning books, and was amazed at some of the titles I had never seen, and at the very reasonable prices. Check them out, I’m sure you will be pleasantly surprised with their site and service. As homeschoolers, we can all appreciate the opportunity to save a bit of money, and still provide our children with excellent reading material. Thank you, Homeschool Library Builder



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