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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

What I'm Thankful for - In PICTURES

It's November! That means that there are daily posts from friends saying what they are thankful for each and every day. Like most Novembers, I've got off to a late start and now have to play catch up. So, instead of rambling on and on about what I'm thankful for, I thought I'd share some of my thankfulness in pictures instead.

However, I have limitations. The collage app I used on my phone only allows for 9-10 pics at a time. So, here's the first 10 days of November Thankfulness.

If you prefer the spelled out version, here goes:

I'm thankful for:

  1. a "fireplace" ambiance on a cold day, with a little girl peering out the window at the snow.
  2. Girls catching snowflakes on their tongues enjoying a "November Snow"
  3. Chocolate Scrabble
  4. Degas ballerina sculpture
  5. A safe trip to and from the St. Louis Symphony
  6. New boots for my pre-teen
  7. Pretty nails
  8. A beautiful colorful fall drive
  9. Funny clown noses
  10. Fun time enjoying my teen son acting goofy, reinacting a picture of him from years gone by on that same pedal tractor.

There's the first ten days' worth. So, here's the rest of the month in words:

11. Breathing
12. That I have a Savior
13. Marriage
14. A hubby willing to work
15. A talented hubby
16. Water
17. Coffee
18. Chocolate
19. Family
20. Health
21. Kleenex
22. Vicks Vapor Rub
23. Essential oils
24. Ear Drops with Garlic and Mullein
25. Turkey
26. Exercise ball
27. A laptop that works
28. My big cup
29. Salad
30. The ability to homeschool


A Little Chocolate Makes Everything Better - Even Spelling - Scrabble The Chocolate Edition for Education

Spelling - There are those who get it, and for the rest of us - There's CHOCOLATE!

I think we either get it or we don't. At least that is how it's been with my children.

I have three children - One of them is a natural at spelling, the second one struggled with spelling, and we are still waiting to see with the third, but so far she is showing signs of also being a natural like her older brother.

I have never had to run down boring lists of spelling words with my oldest or youngest (so far), because they just seem to know how to spell like it's as natural as walking, sleeping, or eating. My middle child has had to work a bit harder to get it right. She does a good job of it now, but I have discovered a tool that helps.


The other day I was shopping, and I ran across Scrabble The Chocolate Edition. I had to have it. So, I bought it. In fact, I bought two. One of them is for sale on eBay currently, if you find it as irresistible as I did.


It plays like the regular game of Scrabble, only the winner gets the gold chocolate coin, and everybody gets to eat their game pieces.

You would think that this kind of game is a one-time-shot at play and then it's done. But, we learned that you can still save your game piece wrappers when the game is over and the chocolates have been eaten, and keep playing as long as you like.

And, just for your educational boost - Following are a few spelling lists -

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

TOS Review: Out of the Box Games

Out of the Box Games Review
I received a game called Snake Oil Party Potion from Out of the Box Games for review.
The game is intended for children ages 8 and up (So, the entire family in our household could enjoy it). It is meant to be played with 3-6 players (again, ideal for our family of 5), takes 20-30 minutes per game, and the game retails for $14.99.
Step right up! This may be the only Snake Oil you'll ever buy and actually be happy that you did! The only trick behind this kind of Snake Oil Party Potion is that it will leave you with educational game time where the children won't even realize they're learning.
Out of the Box Games Review
Jeff Ochs and Patricia Hayes Kaufman are the masterminds behind inventing the game.
The basic rules only take about 5 minutes to learn:
  • Each player gets six cards
  • Select one player who will be called "The Customer"
  • The Customer takes a Customer Card, read it out loud, and then places it in front of him or herself as he or she takes on the role of the customer printed on the card
  • The other players try to combine two words to create a product for this particular customer, and then each player takes turns trying to sell their new word combination product with a verbal "pitch" that can only last 30-40 seconds each.
  • The Customer selects which two-word combo. card product and pitch he or she likes best and awards the Customer Card to that player.
  • Play continues until everyone has had a chance to be the Customer
There are a couple other variations of the game that are suggested as well. The makers of the game put together this cute and instructional video as to how the game works:
The game is a fun way to learn vocabulary words, spelling and word combinations as well as the basics to public speaking skills. It also provides a foundation for learning basic marketing or persuasive business tactics. In fact, it fits a whole host of Common Core Standards for learning. The part of it that excited me the most was the word combination, for my 8-year-old, and the public speaking practice (shh, don't tell them that this is what it really is) for my oldest who normally completely backs away from any form of "in-front-of-people" formal speaking. This game, however, allows all of my children to develop the skills behind persuasive public speaking without the pressure of a debate team or traditional speech class. It's very informal and downright fun! 
There is a complete pdf explaining how to use it in a classroom setting. It provides lessons in Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, Empathy, Marketing, Visual Arts, Teamwork, Creativity, and even a brief history about what Snake Oil is and why the game is named after such a thing.
It's fast moving and hilarious at times, which is probably why it has earned itself several awards, including one from Dr. Toy, National Association for Gifted Children, Major Fun! Keeper, Mensa Select, The Toy Man, and other big name toy awards.
Find Out of the Box games on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
The company also offers The Original Snake Oil game which is intended for ages 10 and up. Some members of the Review Crew received the original version. See what they thought, by clicking on the picture below.
Click to read Crew Reviews
Crew Disclaimer

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Free Sight Word Download

C   A   N

Your child CAN read so long as he or she learns certain sight words along with all the sounding out phonics.

The English language is interesting. It is probably one of the most inconsistent languages alive. Whether or not you teach with phonics or by using whole language words, there are still words that have to be memorized.

These words are called sight words.

They are called sight words because, well, you learn them by looking at them and remembering. They really have no other rules that they follow. All you can do is memorize them.

Call them rebel words, and fight to refuse the truth. But, the truth is that these sight words just simply need to be learned and read by sight (memory).

In my inbox today, I saw this amazing freebie.

It's a download for a free sight word activity for the sight word:


So, right now - you CAN download it for free from Super Mommy to the Rescue blog.

Friday, November 7, 2014

TOS Review: IXL

Christmas Book Review
I had the privilege of reviewing IXL Math and IXL Language Arts from IXL online learning site. The IXL site is intended for students in Grades K-12, though the IXL Math covers everything from Pre-K to Pre-Calculus and IXL Language Arts covers Grades 2-8. 
I received access for a full year for up to five students.
Purchase it yourself for:
One child for one course, Math - $79 a year, or $99 a year for two children
One child for one course, Language Arts - $79 a year, or $99 a year for two children
One child for Math AND Language Arts - $129 a year, or $149 for two children
For three or more children or for monthly billing, figure your own family's needs and number of students using IXL with the IXL membership calculator.
It uses technology to help turn learning into a fun, game-like experience. IXL can be used on the PC, and they also have IXL apps. The iPad app works on all iPads. The Kindle app works on recent Kindle Fires, and the Android app works on devices that are 7" or larger. 
I have actually had the pleasure of being able to review IXL app for the crew last year, and was so excited to get to refresh our experience with the site.

This time, I used it with my 3rd Grader and my 9th Grader. My 3rd Grader used it for Math and Language Arts, while my 9th Grader explored Geometry at the high school level. This time, we only used it on the PC. The site says that there are more courses coming for high schoolers, but as of right now, all you can do is sign up and anticipate the wait.
IXL is intended to be used as a supplement, and works more like a quiz/testing site than an instructional one. The student logs on and works through answering a series of questions on each topic.
It is presented as a bit of a challenge game where the child tries to get a score of 100, and to achieve goals.
The parent receives e-mail updates that contain information about the students progress along with a printable certificate.
The site is great for reviewing information in Math or Language Arts that you have already covered with your children.
It is also fantastic for preparing for standardized testing.
Though, it can be extremely challenging when it presents a topic the student is not yet familiar with, because in order to see how the problem was supposed to be solved, the child first has to get the answer wrong. This then shows how IXL arrived at the answer. While this is somewhat instructional, my children found it to be quite frustrating to watch their point level go down when tackling subject topics with which they were not yet familiar (While it aligns its skill level with the State requirements for Common Core, it doesn't follow one specific curriculum. So, a topic they need to know by the end of the year may or may not have been covered in the sequence of the curriculum you are using).
It was really fun when we got the answers right. The screen would pop up with big green words like, "BRILLIANT~"
As each question was answered correctly, the score tally box would go up, up, up.
However, when the student answered a question incorrectly, it was quite discouraging to see that same tally go down especially when it was a subject topic that was a bit over their head to begin with, like Geometry was for my son. He would go up, up, up, and almost reach 100 only to get a few wrong and go rapidly back down.
I realize this might encourage children to spur them on to think about their answer and strive for perfection. My son, on the other hand, being the gamer that he is, wanted to strive for a perfect score and to "get to the next level". He kept wishing for instruction BEFORE the quiz games and not after he was dinged on his point value.
IXL is intended to be used as a supplement, but I still wish it would give just a brief instructional video before each testing game segment just to be certain that the child has had instruction on that particular subject before the quizzing games begin, because even if you are following an accelerated curriculum, the individual topics of what is covered in the IXL quizzing may not have been covered yet in your particular curriculum. 
OR - It would have helped my son if, when he got a wrong answer, his score would not go down, or he would have even liked to have been allowed to see how the problem was worked and then resubmit his answer before having points taken away.
However, it works well if you are absolutely certain the child has covered all of the material in a particular section, if you sit with them to use each question as a reinforcement to a current lesson you are working on or for REVIEW of something you are confident they have learned or have at least been introduced to, or if you start them out at the grade level below where they are currently learning and then they practice and review their skill with mastery and success.
Find IXL on FacebookTwitter, and Google Plus. Read what other Crew Members though by clicking on the picture below:
Click to read Crew Reviews
Crew Disclaimer

Monday, November 3, 2014

Book Review: VeggieTales 'The Mess Detectives and The Case of the Lost Temper''

I was asked to review this book from ZonderKidz as part of the Booklook Blogger program in exchange for my honest review.

If you are a fan of the classic Big Idea Veggie Tales videos, yes back when video cassettes were still a thing, but still loved today on DVDs or digital format - Then, you will appreciate this easy-to-read book.

The book is an "I Can Read!" Beginning 1 Reading level book. It is paperback and 32 pages of easy-to-read text. It is "The Mess Detectives and The Case of the Lost Temper" by Karen Poth a VeggieTales book from ZonderKidz.

The book is written in the style of a classic Sherlock Holmes style mystery, only it's VeggieTales style, so it's not scary in the least.  Bob and Larry get a call about a door being slammed.

Fearing, someone has lost their temper, the pair send off to investigate. In the course of the investigation, Bob learns a valuable lesson about his own attitude and temper.

Of course, the two have to express some typical VeggieTales antics, so be prepared to see Bob and Larry the Cucumber dressed up in out-of-character costumes.

The book is one of the several in the VeggieTales series of I Can Read books. The I Can Read is broken down into:

My First - Emergent readers
1 - Simple sentences for eager new readers
2 - For developing readers
3 - For Confident readers
4 - Chapter books

This book is classified as a Level 1, which I think is quite appropriate. The book is easy for a parent to sit down and read as a bedtime story or for an early reader to sound out the entire story.

Not only that, but the child will learn a valuable lesson about tempers and why it's important not to fly off the handle and lose his or her temper.

Elephant pictures

With an elephant lover in our family, we don't believe it's a good thing to poach elephants.   However, we do a different kind of elephant hunting on our own.  We take pics of every elephant we encounter. 

It could be a toy, fabric, or a real elephant. 

Here's done we saw this week. 


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