Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Engaging Your Child

We are often in the car and while it would be so easy to just listen to music the other day I turned it off and engaged my daughter in play. Remember the game, "I went to the store...?" Well, during our drive we challenged our minds, laughed, and had so much fun.

Our first game centered around food, I went to the store and bought.....

Ice Cream
Orange Juice
Quaker Oats
Tatar Tots
Ugly Fruit
Xanthun Gum

You go back and forth coming up with words in alphabetical order until you have completed the alphabet. The trick is that each time you have to say everything that has been completed along the way. I was quite surprised at how well my brain remembered the ever growing list.

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Amazing Dr. Ransom's Bestiary of Adorable Fallacies

The Amazing Dr. Ransom's Bestiary Of Adorable Fallacies is part of Timberdoodles 10th Grade 2016 Curriculum Kit. While studying informal fallacies your student will be entertained by engaging stories and cute, but often deviant, creatures that exemplify each fallacy. 

Before going any further, you may be wondering, "what is a fallacy?" In simple terms, it is a defect in an argument which misleads the mind. What is an informal fallacy? In a nutshell, an informal fallacy is one in which the reasoning is wrong rather than the argument itself. The form of the argument may itself be valid, but the premise is not. When dealing with informal fallacies, the focus is not on the form but the meaning. 

The book is divided into four kingdoms, covering four types of fallacies:

  1. Kingdom I: Fallacies of Distraction
  2. Kingdom II: Fallacies of Ambiguity
  3. Kingdom III: Fallacies of Form
  4. Kingdom IV: Millennial Fallacies
Each fallacy begins with a explanatory explanation of the fallacy with a practical story to help the student understand the meaning of the fallacy. Pencil drawings of the creature representing the fallacy is shown. The fallacy is then listed with a description and common names given to the fallacy. Discussion questions engage the student in digging a bit deeper. An answer key in the back of the book provides answers to the questions. Last, there are exercises in which the student is asked to identify the fallacy or if the situation asked is fallacy-free. 

In all, there are 50 fallacies. One of the fallacies explained was:

Slippery Slop
fallacy occurs when a person simply asserts, but does not demonstrate
that if we implement this proposed action, an inevitable chain 
of unfortunate events will occur. 

Description: A fallacy of form that asserts but does not
demonstrate a connection between a proposed idea and a
resulting series of bad consequences. Also, the bald denial 
that some clearly treacherous and dangerous step
will lead to any negative consequences at all.
Alternate Names: Thin Edge of the Wedge, Slipfishing

As you can see in the above illustration, the mythical creature has a tongue that is fitting to illustrate "slippery slope". The Creeping Slipfish is a six-legged, halibut-looking creature is described as:

"When attempting to deter its victims with false danger, the Creeping Slipfish bares multiple rows of needle teeth and goes more google-eyed than any other living creature. When attempting to draw its victims into doom and destruction, the Creeping Slipfish find a slope and unrolls an impossibly long tongue from the top to the bottom, then it unhinges its jaws, opens wide, and waits to feed. A wobbly rod of cartilage on the tip of its tongue holds up a fleshy imitation of a cookie as bait, and streams of sprinkling saliva all along the tongue, keep the danger at the bottom hidden from view." 

This fallacy has two claims:

  • if someone suggests that we adopt a particular position, the fallaciously infected will rush up to tell us that this will inexorably result in disaster
  • someone suggests that we step toward doom and disaster, and the fallaciously infected will laugh at all objections and appeal to ignorance and uncertainty, asserting that no one really know what will happen next
There are two suggested schedules in the back of the book, one for a semester (16 weeks) and the other for a year (32 weeks). I am having my 10th and 11th grade student's use this book. 

My son, who is in the 10th grade, is working towards a half credit in Logic for high school. This book is a great supplement to his current Logic curriculum. My 11th grade daughter is also using this book to complete a half credit in Logic. 

My daughter said:
"This is definitely a unique and a bit odd method to learn logic, but fun. IMO, logic is not my idea of interesting. This book makes learning logic much easier to understand. I was able to understand the fallacies and their meanings. The questions were challenging."

My son said:
"My mom has me using another logic curriculum that doesn't make a lot of sense to me. I read it, and reread it, and often times I am still confused. This book makes logic make sense and doesn't put me to sleep."

I worked through several of the fallacies in the book and was impressed with how well this method of learning logic worked. I really enjoyed the creative twist that the creatures brought to the learning process. I would most definitely recommend this book for anyone wanting or needing to learn logic. 

Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for my honest opinions. 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

More Click-A-Brick Fun!!

Click-A-Brick has become a building block favorite in our home. We have acquired several Click-A-Brick sets and my kiddos were excited about getting the Mighty Machines set. With this set you can build 10 machines! Your son or daughter will have LOADS OF FUN building the following:
  • Bulldozer
  • Backhoe
  • Helicopter
  • Construction Robot
  • Space Shuttle
  • Jet Plane
  • Loader
  • Excavator
  • Tractor
  • Trailer

The set comes with an instruction book detailing how to build each machine. Along with the bricks you will also receive a brick prying tool and a drawstring bag to store your set. You may be wondering what is so unique about these bricks? Well, they can be connected from all sides. All other building set have only one way that you can connect them, and that is one on top to the other. The bricks are very colorful and well made.

Sometimes the pieces can be a bit hard to pull apart. Click-A-Brick supplies you with the perfect tool to pull the pieces apart.

My 10 year old daughter absolutely loves Click-A-Bricks! And yes, she was very excited about this kit. You do not have to be a boy to enjoy putting together machinery. My ballerina, sparkle loving, girly girl had a blast putting together these machines.

My daughter did comment that this set was way more challenging that some of the other sets we have. At times she got frustrated but she was determined to finish and conquer. She loved the challenge.

Gramma got in on the action too.

Here are links to some of the other sets that I have reviewed:
Sandy Sidekicks
Animal Kingdom
Feather Friends

I love it whenever I can provide my children with hands-on fun. Puzzles, building sets, and hands-on activities are definitely favorites in our house. Whenever my kids have friends over Click-A-Brick sets are definitely a go to favorite. Recently I had a friend text me because her son was trying to tell her about Click-A-Bricks. She texted, "What is the connector game that Asher keeps talking about from your house? He said it's not the one with the magnets. I don't know what he is talking about." Right away I knew that he was talking about Click-A-Brick. When he is over he builds and plays with the sets.

Click-A-Brick definitely provide endless hours of fun. Our family loves them and yours will too.

Disclaimer: I received this set at a discount in exchange for my honest opinion. 


Saturday, August 27, 2016

Lapbook ~ All About Me

In my daughter's latest issue of Adventures in Odyssey Clubhouse there was an article entitled, The Book of You. My kiddos love making lapbooks and so I begin to search Pinterest to find some fun "All About Me" lapbook materials. My daughter's had so much fun making their lapbooks. As a mom it was fun to watch their individual talents, interests, and loves shine through.

Lapbooks are such a fun way to learn and explore. Whether you are making them for fun or to go along with a unit of study in school, your child's creativity has the opportunity to shine through.

Friday, August 26, 2016


This morning we found a family of mushrooms in our yard. With gloves we picked them and brought them inside to look at them more closely. I found this very informative site so that we could learn a bit more about mushrooms. We took care to not handle them with bare hands. We also laid them on parchment paper and thoroughly cleaned the counter after we were done looking and dissecting.

Mushrooms found in our yard

Mushroom Fun Fact Sites
Science Kids
100th Monkey Mushroom Facts

Thursday, August 25, 2016


For those not familiar with this website Khan Academy is a free educational website. I have only used the site a handful of times but what I have used is amazing. You should check it out. Classes are available from K-12th grade. I just got an e-mail notification that Duck Duck Moose Apps have now joined Khan Academy. These apps are great educational tools for younger children.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

TENZI ~ A Timberdoodle Review

Timberdoodle's 2016 2nd Grade Curriculum Kit is not an "all work and no play" kit. Two of the featured products in the kit are the TENZI Game, and the TENZI Card Deck. Together these two products will add a new level of fun to your child's school year. 

TENZI is a hysterically, fun game that will leave you laughing, screaming, on the edge of your seat, and doing LOTS of crazy stuff. Who would have guessed that dice and a deck of cards could be so much fun. Here is how the game is played. Each player gets a set of 10 dice that is different in color from the other players. On player says the word 'go' and everyone races to roll their dice as fast as they can until someone rolls all of their dice on one number.  Now for the fun twist!! This is where the deck of cards comes in. There are 77 different ways to play TENZI. Each card features a new and exciting way to play. 

Some of the cards contain patterns like pictured below. These games are Pattern Games. The object of the game is to successfully replicate the pattern on the card. Once that is accomplished there will be one die left. With the last die the player rolls until they roll a 6. When both the pattern and a 6 have been rolled the player yells "TENZI" for the win. 

All of the other cards have hilarious ways to invoke WAY TOO MUCH FUN! For example:

Line up all ten dice. Someone says go and everyone
quickly rolls one die at a time. The first player to roll 
ten of the same number wins!

Call out the name of a cartoon character after each roll.
(Can you repeat a name? We'll leave that up to you.)

Clap after each and every roll.

These are just a few of the fun ways to play TENZI. You can choose to keep score or slow the game down and take turns and just hope you have good luck with your rolls. 

Here are two videos of my crew playing TENZI. 

Having to make animal sounds after each roll of the dice.

No thumbs allowed.

This game is seriously fun!!! It is a great game for kids and adults. This would be a great game for youth events, parties, playdates, or anytime! Make sure to check out this fun game and all of the other amazing items in the Timberdoodle 2nd Grade Kit

Interesting TENZI fact. Just in case you are wondering, "the odds of getting all then dice to land on one number in one roll are 1 and 10,077,696!" May the odds be in your favor. 

Shh, don't tell the kids but TENZI is not only fun but very educational too! 

Your kiddos will learn about patterns, counting, odd/even numbers, 
and so much more. 

Disclaimer: I received this game in exchange for my honest opinions. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

How reviewing has positively influenced my children...

Almost two years ago I jumped feet first into reviewing products and curriculums for the Schoolhouse Review Crew and various other vendors. As a homeschooler for over 16 years I realized that I was way too comfortable in "my box" of using the same curriculum year after year. I decided it was time to explore and expand our educational curricula. The plethora of amazing curriculums and resources is astronomical!!

Anyway, back to the reason for this post. Back in 2015 I had the privilege of reviewing Memoria Press ~ Latina Christiana I. My then 9th grader decided that she would choose Latin for her high school foreign language requirements. Fast forward to now. My daughter is beginning her 11th grade year. This year she is taking a Fine Arts elective class entitled, Humanities: Art and Music.

The Latin she has learned has been a great asset for many of the Fine Arts courses that she has taken and will be taking. Latina Christiana has given my daughter a great Latin language foundation.

Monday, August 22, 2016

What are you reading?

What my children have been busy reading this month...

Pidgy's Surprise

Mr. Popper's Penguins
From the Mix Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
Bridge to Teribithia
The Wanderer
The Trumpet of the Swan
The Mysterious Benedict Society
The Mysterious Benedict Society and The Perilous Journey
The Best Short Stories of O'Henry
Evidence Not Seen
Snow Goose
Murder on the Orient Express
The Contender
Indian Captive
My Side of the Mountain
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Saturday, August 20, 2016


I have used Before the Code, Explode the Code, and Beyond the Code with all six of my children. I absolutely adore the curriculum. As I was getting ready to start our new school year, I realized that I was missing the consumable Spelling workbook to go along with our current 3rd grade curriculum. I had the teacher's book that I used with my other children. I headed to Mardel but they didn't carry it. As I perused the Spelling curriculums available I came across Spellwell. I realized that it was from the same publisher as Explode the Code. I loved what I saw and decided to try it out. So far my daughter is on lesson 3 and I really like it, and so does she.

The beauty of homeschooling is about exploring. It is so very easy to get "set in our ways" with curriculums that we know and love. The only problem with that is sometimes we miss out on the many other great curriculums out there. No curriculum is perfect. I encourage you to expand your childrens educational experience by exploring new and different curriculums. You never know, maybe you will find a new love.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Defensive Driving Part 2

After having the opportunity to review Roadworthy one of my good friends was in a very scary, road rage situation. 

My friends posting about her situation:

"Last night someone targeted me on the highway. Maybe a gang initiation or insurance fraud attempt, or someone who was completely mentally unhinged. I'll never know why as they seemed to come out of nowhere in a black car with all markings removed and a paper temporary plates. For about 10 miles on I30 the driver attempted to ram me and run me off the road. When I slowed down so they could get ahead of me they slowed to 30 miles an hour, refusing to move on. When I changed lanes to the far side of the highway, they followed. They jumped in front of me and slammed on their breaks over and over. I got on the phone with 911 who said they could send an officer but it might be a while. Going around a curve the driver attempted to ram me from the side to push me off the side of a bridge, but I slammed on my break in time to miss them by a hair. This made them angry and they began weaving erratically in front of me across 3 lanes so I couldn't pass. Then the driver slowed down again, came to a full stop in front of me in the middle of the highway and started to get out of the car. I could see the angry young woman who appeared to be PREGNANT reaching for something from her front seat with the intent to move toward me. Fearing a gun, the 911 operator who was still on the phone with me urged me to escape saying "Get out of there, drive, drive!!" There was so much oncoming traffic that I was sure I would be hit, but the operator agreed it was my best option. I jumped into traffic almost causing a wreck, sped away, and she tried to follow. At this point everyone on the highway must have wondered why there was a crazy woman in a minivan weaving in and out of traffic going 90 mph. I was kind of hoping to get pulled over, but as I learned in my 911 call there isn't a whole lot that can be done to help you if someone attempts to assault you with their car. After a while I felt I'd lost the driver but it was hard to tell in the dark with so many headlights. As I pulled into town I was never so grateful for the sight of hay bales and slow drivers."

After reading her potentially fateful, road rage situation I decided to contact Mike Pehl, from DriveSafeRideSafe, to get his thoughts on the incident. If in a similar situation, everyone needs to be prepared. 

Mike Pehl's response:

"First of all, wow - that's a heckuva story. Crazy scary and unfortunately it IS believable in today's world. Yes, this incident could have been related to something like a gang initiation, or could be related to somebody totally under the influence from drugs, or could have been triggered by some action the attacked-driver made on the road earlier that they didn't even realize had affected the person who ended up being so violently aggressive towards them.

Regardless of the cause, obviously the behavior of the aggressor in this story is totally unacceptable, and could easily have resulted in loss of life on the road. This kind of scenario is very, very dangerous.

My best advice in this kind of situation is:

1. Never stop your car. Your odds of surviving are better if you keep moving. It's a slightly different scenario but people have been victimized when they were lured to stop their car because they saw a carseat on the side of the road with a "baby" (actually a doll), and when they act as a good samaritan they are attacked.

2. Do NOT drive to a police station, especially in a rural area, because there is no guarantee anybody will be in the building and able to help you quickly enough! There was a road rage incident in Minnesota just last year where a motorcycle driver was the aggressor towards the driver of a car. That driver went to a police station, but the officers were out on patrol instead of in the building. Before the driver of the car could find help, he was murdered in the parking lot.

So instead of thinking about a police station, head for a hospital Emergency Room entrance. There is ALWAYS somebody on duty there, and usually some kind of security as well. Of course calling 911 is important, and even if they cannot get police support to you, they can get advance warning to the people at the hospital that a high-risk situation is heading their way.

3. When you are trying to stay away from a crazed, aggressive driver like this one, it's very difficult to remain calm. There is a real problem with trying to get away from them, but also making sure that you do not drive so dangerously yourself that you end up crashing from your own maneuvers at high speeds. Somehow you must try to balance out those two issues; a tragedy can happen easily from your own actions driving evasively, so you must try to maintain physical control of the vehicle and emotional control of yourself as much as possible.

4. The last piece of advice I have is also to always be aware of where your car's tires are, in relation to the cars nearby you. This is actually one of the basic Defensive Driving concepts I teach to all my students. If you are next to another car, and your front tires are "in the middle," meaning BEHIND the front tires of the other car but in front of their rear tires, then you are not in a position of control. It's very easy for the other car to become the "rudder" of your vehicle; they have the advantage in terms of leverage if they decide to bring the side of their car against yours and try to steer you off the side of the road. If YOUR front tires are in front of theirs, they do not have the power to do that; you are the one who has control of the rudder.

I hope some of those tips are helpful to you. I also hope you can spend a lifetime behind the wheel without being in a situation as dangerous as the story you have shared with us. Thank you; this information does have the potential to keep someone else safe on the roads someday, and that of course is what DriveSafeRideSafe is really all about!"

-Mike Pehl

Thank you Mike for your very insightful, and helpful advice. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

FlipStir Puzzles ~ A Review

FlipStir Puzzles bring a new and unique take on traditional puzzles. Our family recently had the opportunity to solve the level 1 ~ Rainbow Pencils by Enlivenze LLC. FlipStir puzzles are for ages 7 and up. You simply shake, stir, and solve. 

FlipStir puzzles are self contained, 3D puzzles. How do you solve these puzzles? You have to shake, flip, stir, arrange, and re-arrange the pieces within the contained circular tube. 

I have a couple of kiddos that are puzzle fanatics. There were mixed reviews.

My thoughts, "I personally got frustrated with the puzzle. I never was able to get the puzzle together. I would prefer the traditional puzzle to the FlipStir. I picked it up several time over several weeks and just could not get into it."

My 16 year old said, "It only took me a couple of minutes to get this puzzle put together. IMO, it was very easy. I like the concept. For the price, I would not consider purchasing them though. I like putting puzzles together when watching tv. You can definitely work these puzzles without breaking your back."

My 10 year old said, "I tried the puzzle. It was just okay. It would be good for in the car or at a doctor's appointment."

My 8 year old said, "This puzzle was frustrating to me. I tried it and could not get it together. I think that I will stick with regular puzzles."

My 13 year old said, "I love puzzles!!! My favorite puzzles are the 1000+ piece puzzles. This puzzle was not my favorite way to put a puzzle together. Kind of like books. I prefer to read a "real" book over one on a digital device. There is nothing like the feel, smell, and sound that a physical book has. Puzzles are kind of the same. I like to touch the pieces. I do not like to have to fight with a stick and a tube to put pieces of a puzzle together." 

On the go fun!

car rides
doctor's appointments
waiting on siblings at extracurricular activities
or anywhere you need something to keep your entertained. 

Overall, I think that FlipStir puzzles would be great for on the go since they are portable and lightweight. The concept is unique and definitely requires skill, thought, and patience. I might consider purchasing another FlipStir puzzle if they were not so expensive. The price, at $24.99, is too much. 

To read more reviews click here.

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Friday, August 12, 2016

Roadworthy ~ A Parent's Guide to Teaching Teens to Drive

Roadworthy: A Parent's Guide to Teaching Teens to Drive is a great DVD for both parents and students. Handing over the car keys to your teen driver is a bit nerve-wracking. With driving comes huge responsibility. This DVD provides great reminders as your teen driver takes to the road. As part of the 10th Grade Timberdoodle Curriculum Kit for 2016 your student will greatly benefit from this STEM instructional tool. 

There are 14 sections included on the DVD:
  1. Welcome! Teen Drivers CAN Learn to be "Roadworthy" & avoid crashes. Learn how!
  2. The Safety Checklist
  3. First Time in Gear
  4. Fine Tune the Basics
  5. The First Road Trip
  6. Head Out on the Freeway
  7. Master the Country Roads
  8. Keep It Moving
  9. Parallel Parking & the 90 (Ninety) Degree Back-Up
  10. Defensive Driving
  11. License Day
  12. Start Early & Never Stop
  13. Distracted Driving - Surviving the "new drunk driver"
  14. EXTRAS!
As a parent of 6 children, two of which are already driving, I was excited to get the opportunity to review this DVD. Our third child, and only son, is 15 years old. I would be lying to say that I am not a bit anxious about putting him behind the wheel. Like his older siblings, when he turned 15, he started working on the requirements to obtain a learners permit. We want to provide our son with as many months behind the wheel as possible before he turns 16 and gets his official license. Roadworthy has been a great tool and resource. In a nutshell, Roadworthy is a defensive driving DVD.

Mike Pehl is a veteran Accident Investigator, and Driver's Safety Expert. With this DVD he hopes to give parents and young drivers practical tips and advice that will last a lifetime. Did you know that 1 out of 2 teens crash in the first 6 months of driving. This statistic has remained the same for the past 50 years. Most states require only 30 hours of drive time before getting a license. The whole DVD in its entirety is only a bit over 1 hour in length.

Mike talks about the importance of choosing the best instructor. Teaching a teenager to drive requires someone who can remain calm and collected. I know that I am NOT the one to best instruct my child behind the wheel. I am extremely too nervous and uptight sitting next to a newbie driver and am definitely more of a detriment than an asset.

I love the practical tips that Mike gives throughout the DVD lessons. From the "4 point checklist" to real world driving, Mike drives home the basics without lecturing or being too wordy. Each lesson is about 5 minutes in length.

I learned some new things too! I, like most adults learned the 10 & 2 rule when learning to drive. Well, did you know that because of airbags that rule is no longer recommended. So where are you supposed to place your hands on the wheel now? Hand placement is now either 9 & 3 or 8 & 4.

Some helpful hints that will be covered in more detail are:
  • Why Saturday and Sunday are great days for practice driving
  • importance of adding distractions to the mix
  • great tips for nailing parallel parking and 90 degree back in's

The section entitled, Distracted Driving is the "New Drunk Driver" was definitely an eye opener. I am sure that it is not surprising to anyone that cell phones are becoming the #1 killing machine. The time that it takes a distracted driver to look at their phone is approximately 5 seconds which equals the length of time it would take to cross the length of a football field. It is not only phones that distract drivers from their #1 priority which is SAFE DRIVING! Eating, the radio, passengers, applying make-up, shaving, and the list goes on. As a driver it is your responsibility to keep the roads safe for everyone. 

The timing of my son learning to drive and watching this DVD was perfect. My son just earned his learner's permit!! Yikes, talk about exciting and scary all at once. My husband took my son out to the car for the first time with my son behind the wheel. My son's first experience behind the wheel consisted of talking, explaining everything on the dashboard, and turning the car on to try everything out. 

My son said, "Thank you Mike Pehl for this very informative DVD. You covered so much in only an hour. I am glad that my mom had me watch this."

We inherited my husband's, grandmother's Buick years ago. It may look like a granny car but it is a great car for learning how to drive. So far two older sibling have learned with it and now it's my son's turn. 

Thank you, Mike Pehl for making this DVD for parents and young drivers. I learned a great deal of information and appreciate the advice you gave. I definitely feel more confident with my son getting behind the wheel after we watched your DVD. 

I would highly recommend this DVD to all parents of soon to be driver's, as well as current driver's. By taking 1 hour out of your day or week to watch this DVD will make a difference. I encourage you to talk with your child after watching each episode or at least after watching it in its entirety. 

Disclaimer: For this review I did not receive an actual DVD. I received a link to the DVD contents uploaded as an online product using an online platform. Using this platform the name is a bit different, "Teach Your Teen to Drive, Stay Alive & Get ROADWORTHY." I received this product for free from Timberdoodle in exchange for my honest review. 

Confetti Eggs