Friday, January 28, 2011

The big "Surprise Hit" from our Twelve Days of Christmas!

OK, so I  shared in one of my last posts (on my "Small Change Blog) how we celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas, and what everyone got. Now, as promised, I want to share a few of our favorite things.

Every year the kids go through the variety of catalogs that come to the house, as well as their playmobil and lego catalogs that they've picked up during the year. They create a "Wish List" of sorts, so that if anyone asks, we have a running list to use not only for Christmas, but the occasional birthday present. (Eldest is  growing up... last year was "Fuzzy Socks", and this year, clothing was added to the list... bittersweet... )

Youngest hasn't really joined in yet, but Eldest and Middlest are very good at including things in all price ranges, including the ""Dream-ticket" items which we usually can't afford, and they have to save up for on their own (Like an ipod touch). Sometimes I find an amazing deal, and have been able to pick up things like cameras and their ipod shuffles for very reasonable prices.

So, we do try to give them SOMETHING from their wishlist, but I also enjoy seeking out the things that they might not be aware of. Sometimes it's more of a hit than I would imagine. That happened this year...

The Standout Surprise favorite this year.... 
I picked up some of "Crazy Aaron's Thinking Putty" as a stocking stuffer (at . How could I know how much fun everyone would have with this?

Because there are so many "Varieties",  I thought it would be fun to get each child a different one:
Click the Photo to purchase
Super Illusions Super Scarab
  • Youngest's favorite color is blue, so I decided the "Scarab" Color-shifting Illusions Thinking Putty would be the best for him. Two colors of blue in one...  excellent! (Sadly this color is gone, but I've linked to Super Scarab over on the left, which looks fabulous as well! )
  • 100_0718   100_0715  
  • Middlest likes green and red, so I decided the Heat Sensitive "Chameleon" Thinking Putty would be his. (Especially since his hands tend to be toasty.... ;) ) Here's an idea of how it "Changes" over time... less than 20 minutes from first photo to last... 2:13pm -2:31pm
  • Dapper Snowman 2:13 A little saggy at 2:17 There's a birdy on his head  2:21 Birdy's tail is saggy, and so is the snowman! 2:22 Yo.. Snowman... you ok? 2:23 Um... he's melted, and I'm upside-down 2:31
  • Eldest received the Glow-In-The-Dark "Aura" Thinking Putty. She wasn't so excited about the "White" putty in her can when she saw the cool colors her brothers had received, but once it was "Charged", it became MUCH more cool! (I would say that it glows more "Violet"(As described) than the "Blue" that came across my computer screen when I ordered... very fun!)(mouse over for "descriptions)
  • Glo-in-the-dark rolled thin, not "Charged" Glo-in-the-dark in a disc, not "Charged" Glo-in-the-dark after 15 seconds under a small halogen Glo-in-the-dark with a couple of "Charged Spots" Very Charged (no flash "charged"/ "no charged" sides (in the light)
These have been used daily since they opened them... Eldest is quite adept at creating 3-D models, Middlest mostly likes to "Fiddle", and Youngest like to make balls  with his "Blue stuff" and squash them, as well as make "imprints" of things. Mom likes to play with all of them, doing all of the above... ;)

They've been popular for "Quiet fidgets" during church services,  fiddling while mom reads, and general playing. All in all...  we highly recommend Aaron's Thinking Putty!
5 Acorns our family!

Oh, this is a pretty inexpensive gift option also~ Prices range from around $9.00 to $18-ish depending on the color options you choose. There are smaller tins available for prices closer to $5-$8 dollars, so really something for many cost options.

Note: I am writing this review of my own volition, based on purchases I made for Christmas presents for my children. :)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary For Kids

The "Camp of Israel"
Have your children ever asked you what Holy, Righteous, Justified, or Mercy and Grace mean after reading verses in the Bible? Ever wished you could show them exactly what "The Camp of Israel" looked like during the 40 years wandering in the desert? How about a semi-detailed map of Jerusalem?  

Photobucket The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary for Kids from Lifeway Christian Stores can help you with all of these and more! There are 750 Bible words with "Kid friendly" definitions, with scripture references that go along with each word included at the end of the definition. There are at least 500 full color photos, illustrations, reconstructions and maps, which according to my math means that there are only about 250 words without an illustration. Excellent! :)

There are some "Special Features" that include charts with:

Sunday, January 23, 2011

FIAR Go-along items for older Sibs~ Wooden 3-D Puzzles

I think that most of my readers and local folks know that my all-time favorite "Unit-study" curriculum is Five In A Row  (aka FIAR). I am looking forward to another (Hopefully more complete) rowing since my youngest is currently 3. I am also still intermittently rowing with my 10 YO, picking up books that we didn't get to with him.

So.... Whenever I find a cool item that would go along with one of the books, I try to pick it up to squirrel away for future use. In light of that, here are some items that I just found today~
Timberdoodle has some nifty 3-D wooden puzzles. Now, I will say upfront that these are probably more appropriate for an older sibling (Or mom or dad) to put together, which is nice if trying to include the older ages a little as well.

For the "Story of Ping", a "Junk" house boat ($6.50)

Madeline~  The Eiffel Tower ($7.50), of course! :) 

Pappa Bleirot could have a wooden Biplane ($2.95)

And for Cowboy Charlie~ a "Ride 'em Cowboy($4.50) " 3-D puzzle, very reminiscent of Russel (or Remington) bronze sculptures. :)

My favorites are the Junk boat and the Cowboy~ Fun stuff! :D
Just thought you might be interested! :) 


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Virtual Nerd(What? Who you talkin' about?)

Some of the TOS Crew were given a month-and-a-half subscription to a new online Math/Tutoring Interactive Video-based website for students in 7-12th grade, Virtual Nerd. The topics currently covered are Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and Intro to Physics, with more in the pipeline for 2011-2012
Full Screen 3 Areas

The basic facts~
Virtual Nerd
Algebra I Topic Search
  • There are hundreds of video tutorials to watch for each subject.
  • The videos are searchable by keyword, topic and textbook( for instance, in Algebra I, if you happen to be using Prentice Hall: algebra 1, 2004 ed., Holt: algebra 1, 2007 ed., Glencoe: algebra 1, 2004 ed., or Mcdougal Littell: algebra 1, 2007 ed.)
  • Each video has an intereactive whiteboard component that follows the video(You can see this in the screenshot above). This allows the student to get more information, as she/he runs into concepts or terms that are confusing or unfamiliar. (I suggest watching the Introductory Video. Scroll down the page linked to see it in action)
Pricing: a variety of options to give you flexibility, depending on your budget and needs *
  • Free~ 2 hour trial
  • $5~ 1 day
  • $19~ 1 week
  • $49~ monthly
  • $129~ 3 months
So~ What did we think?
  • My daughter was impressed with the way that the "Whiteboard" worked, with the ability to dig deeper into a given topic.
  • This could be a less expensive option than 1 on 1 tutoring, if this is something required in your home.
  • Convenient and nothing to "Install" on your computer
  • For us, it just didn't mesh with the non-traditional Algebra program that we are using. I think that if we were using a traditional textbook, it would have been a better option. We spent a fair amount of time trying to find videos that would coordinate with the lessons being learned, and were not very successful in that quest. 
If you have a student who struggles with Math, I would recommend checking out the other TOS Crew reviews, to see what my fellow Crew-mates have to say. I am fairly certain that there are those using more traditional programs, and may have better insight on Virtual Nerd.

Virtual Nerd has uploaded some videos onto YouTube, so you could check those out to get more of a feel for the "Product". If you like what you see, I would highly recommend signing up for the free 2 hour trial if you have a specific problem you would like to remediate. This will give you a  good chance to see if you are able to find applicable videos quickly and easily. From there, your decision should be easy to make.

As always, I hope that this review is useful to you as you choose where to spend your homeschool budget. As always, but in this case particularly, if you are interested in a "Math Tutoring" style program, I once again highly recommend perusing the other TOS Crew reviews.


*Quick note~ although there is mention of a "Free Account" for "Educators", this is meant for those in group or "Classroom"  teaching situations, and NOT homeschoolers. Just wanted you to be aware. :)

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."

Monday, January 10, 2011

Tradition? or Not.....

Alrighty, then~ New for MY readers, for the FIRST TIME EVER, I am joining in on the TOS Crew Blog Cruise. So, what IS the TOS Blog Cruise?

The TOS Blog Cruise is just what it sounds like - A "Cruise" (aka Blog Carnival) through TOS Crew Member Blogs that elect to participate. Each week, a new homeschool topic is addressed. Participants are encouraged to express themselves however the question leads them; everyone has a different style and personality when it comes to homeschooling, and that's what makes this so much fun.

This week's topic.... Very appropriate for the first topic of the new year...

"Do you follow a traditional school day/time/schedule/year"
When it comes to schooling, we are rather eclectic. 
  • Our school days are fairly free flowing, and not "Scheduled" like a traditional school. IE... we don't always do specific subjects at specific times. I have a schedule that we follow very loosely. We don't always get to everything in the order written, and if we don't finish something it just moves to the next day. 
  • Our school times are also very untraditional. We do TRY to get schoolwork done during traditional school hours. However, I sometimes find that evenings find my children more focused and productive. It's also handy upon occasion to take advantage of Daddy Distraction, for the youngest, so the other two can get their work done.
  • Our school-year schedule, however, is much more traditional. We live in a fairly populated neighborhood, with children who go to public as well as private school. Thus, I have found it easier to follow their basic schedule, and let my kids have the same days off (If I didn't I think I might experience mutiny). Sometimes I will make sure that they get their basic "Three R's" done on a "Snow day",  but most of the time they are out with everyone else, shoveling and having fun. :) 
So, we're semi-traditional, but mostly fluid and ecclectic.

If you'd like to see how some other Crew Members would categorize their schools, be sure to click on the Cruise button~ and I'd sure love to hear how your school day/year is organized, so feel free to contribute to the conversation by commenting on this post.




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