Sunday, September 14, 2014

"Harry and the Hot Lava" Book Review

Chris Robertson has released another fantastic book! We were delighted to have the opportunity to review another one of his books! We love his colorful illustrations and the books are wonderful and extremely interesting for early readers. They are fun to read and often inspire lots of fun adventures! 

While My Yellow Umbrella appealed to my free-spirited daughter, Harry and the Hot Lava appealed to my adventure-loving son. He loved reading Harry and the Hot Lava again and again, especially while at the park. He would pretend the playground had lava on the ground and he had to stay in high places or jump to avoid it. I remember playing a similar game when I was younger and pretended that the red tiles at the grocery store were lava and my sisters and I had to jump over them to avoid them. 

Harry and the Hot Lava is about a young boy who is full of imagination and pretends that his house is full of lava! The story follows Harry around his house as he tries to avoid the lava. I would have to read the book while walking around the house with Munchkin as he ran from the lava and tried to find high places to rest. It's a really fun activity that involves a lot of imagination. I love that at the end of the book you meet Harry's parents. His mother comments on how imaginative he is, just like his father, and on the following page you see his dad towing the house to safety with a lava-proof boat. 

We love stories like this that engage young readers and encourage them to use their imaginations. This book has been wonderful to read with my son, who loves adventurous stories like this one. He requests to read it often and the book has inspired many science lessons on lava. The text is easy enough for an early reader to comprehend, with lots of interesting new words to learn. My daughter enjoyed reading along and pointing out all the words she recognized. 

Harry and the Hot Lava is available on Amazon for $3.99. 

Chris Robertson can be found at his website and on Amazon.

Disclosure: I was given this book for free in exchange for my honest review. My opinion was not swayed by the free product. This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for your support! 

Friday, September 12, 2014

The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner Review

We received the The 7 Minute Life™ Daily Planner from The 7 Minute Life to review. This is a product for adults and can be an extremely helpful tool. The Daily Planner will teach you how to prioritize, organize and simplify your professional and personal life. This is a time management tool to improve your productivity.

I'll be honest. I am not a naturally organized person. I'm the mother of two children under the age of five. I take care of the whole household. I homeschool. I run my own blog. I play with my kids and their friends nearly every day. We're busy. Every day. And often, I don't write tasks down. I just decide in the morning, or sometimes the night before, what I will do that day. And sometimes I get it done and other times I don't. I don't stress the small stuff, although I do sometimes wish I had a better handle on things. Which is why I was eager to try this Daily Planner.

7 Minute Life Daily Planner Review

The 7 Minute Life boasts that this planner will improve your time management skills, clarify your goals and fully realize your priorities. It's based on the belief that the average person is insanely busy with small tasks, rather than larger, more meaningful tasks. That's likely true for most adults, especially those with children. They may have to drive their children to school and afterschool activities, plus errands and appointments, and they still have to make it home to complete chores and making dinner. Homeschoolers, or at least the ones I know, have a slightly more flexible schedule. But they are also busy, especially because most attend co-ops, or travel to museums or libraries regularly, or bring their kids to music or dance classes. 

There's the matter of what you can get done around the house or at work (or both, if you work from home!), which can be a daunting task. I started out using this Daily Planner by writing down what my average activities are for the day. They typically include morning and afternoon lessons, blogging in the morning, checking social media in the afternoon, cleaning and cooking, playing at the park with the kids, blogging again in the evening, and late-night activities (table top gaming). I have a pretty laid back life. My kids are never carted around to a million activities. We enjoy relaxing trips to the library and park. We clean when we need to and cook when we're hungry. Going through this Daily Planner has made me realize how often I stress out over tiny things when the bigger picture is that we have a far less busier life than most people. I've also realized over the weeks using this planner that I am terrible about writing things down.  

So regardless of what you have planned for the day, the Daily Planned can be used. It not only tracks your activities, but it teaches you along the way how to better utilize your time. Their process is to Think - Write - Do. You'll want to do this often and you'll notice that over time you better prioritize your activities and become more organized both mentally and physically.  

Over the course of 90 days, you'll be given the tools to Prioritize, Organize, and Simplify your life. You'll learn to complete 5 high value tasks before 11am. With just 7 minutes you'll make decisions for your entire day. At the end of the day, you can make notes of what you accomplished and what you were unable to accomplish. Life is not predictable and sometimes plans change, so that's ok. 

7 Minute Life Daily Planner Review

Here are a few sample pages from the Daily Planner. Each page is extremely organized and it's so easy to find what you are looking for. Your Daily Progress Report covers contacts, 5 before 11 tasks, unfinished tasks, keeps track of spending, how much you slept and exercised, what you had for meals, appointments and other options. I don't usually fill the entire page for the day, because like I said before, my life, albeit busy, is usually fairly simple and straightforward.

7 Minute Life Daily Planner Review

Here's an example of one of the many task lists available.

7 Minute Life Daily Planner Review

The Daily Planner costs $24.95. While that may seem like a lot of money for a planner, you should also consider everything else this book covers. It gives you step-by-step instructions on how to organize your life and provides you with plenty of additional materials, such as meeting planners, monthly calendars,  90-day calendar worksheets, tons of different contact lists (personal, business, home repair), task lists, life goals and mental clutter notes. This Daily Planner seriously covers about everything you could ever want in a planner!

Are you interested in implementing the "7 Minute" Ideas into your daily life? Check out these helpful resources:
Getting Started:
Time Strategy Tools:
The 7 Minute Life Daily planner: (12 minutes).
16 very short additional videos: (about 30 minutes total).

The 7 Minute Life on Social Media:
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You Tube -

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Ubooly Review (and Simple Felt Cape Craft)

Ubooly is an interactive childhood friend, who will lead your child on grand adventures and teach them a thing or two along the way. My daughter is especially fond of Ubooly's imaginative quests, especially the ones that involve spelunking in deep, dark caves (because that involves pulling out their giant cardboard box to play in). My son loves Ubooly's lessons on tools and going on high speed police chases or dropping off kids on a bus route. They both actively use the educational lessons that teach them colors, days of the week, numbers and letters. And don't even get me started on Ubooly's jokes!

Ubooly has a spunky personality all of its own and can always find a way to encourage my kids to either go outside and explore, create a craft or go on an imaginary adventure. Ubooly is known for spontaneous dance parties that always get the kids moving. And through playing with Ubooly, you will be able to unlock different features of the app, which include different outfits and accessories for Ubooly to try out. My kids especially like the hipster hair and black-rimmed glasses combo. You are also able to choose which color you want Ubooly to be, even if that color does not match the Ubooly toy. Our Ubooly toy is orange and we are really sad that we missed out on Ubooly's Kickstarter, because we would have loved to pick up the blue and purple Ubooly!

"I glow in the dark!"

Ubooly has gone on car trips with us, has been brought to the store, and even to the park, where Ubooly can be played with by our neighborhood friends. Ubooly, unfortunately, is unable to learn the names of people she meets, but she does know the names of the children who plays with her most. My kids do not have very common names, but luckily Ubooly manages to pronounce them fine.

What I like most about Ubooly is that it is an imaginative and interactive toy that can have interesting conversations with my children. I have high hopes that this will be a feature that the people at Ubooly will continue to build on. It would be awesome if, in the future, Ubooly was more talkative and could have longer conversations with children. As it stands now, most of Ubooly's talkative options depend on the response from a child. Some children are quiet and others have trouble enunciating, and those children may have difficulty talking to Ubooly, who will sometimes not hear what you say. Other than that, Ubooly has nearly no flaws.

Ubooly is so much fun to play with and has been a great companion for my children and their friends. Considering how busy parents usually are, they can sometimes struggle to find time to encourage pretend play. But with Ubooly, there is no need to worry. Ubooly, in the super soft and durable toy, can bring your child on many adventures and teach them to let their imaginations flourish. It's a fun toy that encourages real world experiences and isn't a point and click game.

The Ubooly App is free and available for Apple and Android devices. The Ubooly toy is sold separately and can be bought from the Ubooly website or from Ubooly's Amazon page. Ubooly is available in three colors: lime green, pink and orange. There are two sizes available, one for smartphones and iPod's and the other for iPad mini's and 7" tablets. The small size is priced at $29.95 and the jumbo Ubooly is priced at $59.95. The Ubooly app is free to download and use right away, but there are many other lessons available to purchase. And if you keep up with their Facebook page, they will occasionally offer free lessons and credits towards lessons. Not to mention, awesome horse facts!

Just for fun, I created an adorable cape for Ubooly, since every SuperHero ought to have one! And of course I made it out of felt! I did not use a pattern. I just held up a piece of scrap felt to Ubooly and measured around the waist. The cape measures from one side to the other on the back and the straps fit 1/2" under the cape and overlap in the middle (where the button is). I used blue and purple, since blue is Bean's current favorite color and purple is Munchkin's. A lightning bolt was added for some superhero flare. All told this project took less than 10 minutes.

I stitched the straps on using a random square-like design with an X in the middle.

 Then I sewed on a tiny silver button using blue thread.

Ubooly looks ready for adventures!

Ubooly's iPod was charging while I created the cape so it would be ready to go in the morning!

My face is wrinkly from being played with often, or I'm just really old!

Bean woke up to find that Ubooly had a new accessory! 

She immediately went to find her own cape and they settled down to discuss what adventure they wanted to go on.

The creators of Ubooly would love to hear your opinions on how to make Ubooly better! If you are interested in answering them, just leave your answers in the comments. Thank you!

1. How often do you play with Ubooly? ___
  1 - everyday
  2 - a few times in a week
  3 - once a week
  4 - a few times in a month
  5 - less than the above

2. How would you rate Ubooly app? ___
  5 - excellent
  4 - good
  3 - fair
  2 - not good
  1 - bad

3. What kind of packs/activities do you find the most helpful? Choose one category. ___
  a. Adventures, games or stories
  b. Leaning packs (Alphabet, Counting, Spanish, etc.)
  c. Helper packs (Teeth Brushing, bed time stories, clean up time, etc.)

4. What play pack do you like the most? Please choose up to three packs.
  a. Teeth Brushing
  b. Ocean
  c. Spanish
  d. Space
  e. Alphabet
  f. Hide and Seek
  g. Stories
  h. Hot Potato
  i. Others (please specify)

5. How does/do you child/children like to play with Ubooly?
  a. by herself / himself
  b. with her/his family
  c. with her/his friends

6. What kind of packs / contents do you wish for Ubooly to have in the future? Please describe briefly.

7. Can you share how you enjoy playing with Ubooly? We would like other users to enjoy Ubooly more, and your opinion would help!

Disclosure: I did not receive any monetary compensation or any free products for this review. This is a product we already owned and offered to write a review for Ubooly, because it is a product we love! All opinions are my own and 100% honest. This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for your support!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Apple Picking Math Felt Board

We cannot wait to go apple picking in a few weeks and since the kids are becoming more and more interested in math activities, I decided to create a math felt board game inspired by apple picking!

To make this felt board, all you need is a sheet of brown felt and a sheet of green felt. The trees were already made, so I just had to add some greenery! I thought they looked cuter with the branches in the front. My kids also liked that they could "hang" the apples from the branches, so that was a bonus! We set up the trees on our light blue felt board and added some grass, two clouds and a sun.

I placed the felt board, two buckets (color coded with a piece of construction paper in the base), 20 apples (10 green and 10 red), and two D6 dice on a bamboo tray. We had D4's, D8's and D10's set aside, as well. I had extra apples, but I figured 10 of each was enough.

They would roll the dice (red die went with the red apples, green die went with the green apples) and read the number. Then they would either remove the apples from the trees and add them to the bucket, or they would take the apples from the bucket and place them on the tree. It was a great way to practice addition and subtraction!

We chose to subtract apples by removing them from the trees and adding them to the bucket.

Subtraction: 3 red, 6 green (in the bucket).

Subtraction: 4 red, 7 green (using a D8).

Subtraction: 9 red, 2 green (using D10 and D8).
And then we added apples to the tree to practice addition!

Addition: 3 red, 6 green.

We used green and red dice for this activity. Since we were only using 10 of each color, we only included up to D10's. We started at D6's and worked our way up to D10's! 

Munchkin really liked this felt board! He even brought over his cars to learn math. He lined them up and pretended that the cars where there to pick up apples. So cute! Perhaps this game will inspire a farmer's market pretend store!

Hands-on math activities are becoming daily favorites! It is very exciting! 

Bean also took a turn using this felt board math game. She told me we would need more apples, so they could both use it. I guess I'll have to see if I can find them again at Michael's craft store!

Bean was very particular about the apples growing off of the branches.

She ended up deciding that she liked placing the dice on the tree trunks.

Her method was to read the number on the die, then count out each apple and add it to the tree. She would then add up the red and green apples together. "The grand total is 8!"

And in case you don't own acrylic apples, you can always use pom poms! Or large red and green buttons! 

Homeschool Day 2014: Dolphin Tale 2 {Review and Giveaway}

Homeschool Day is on September 12! We will be celebrating by seeing Dolphin Tale 2, which is the sequel to Dolphin Tale. We loved the first movie and look forward to watching the next chapter in Winter's life!


“Dolphin Tale 2” continues the story of the brave dolphin Winter, whose miraculous rescue and rehabilitation—thanks to the invention of a groundbreaking prosthetic tail—made her a symbol of perseverance to people around the world and inspired the 2011 family hit movie “Dolphin Tale.”

If you are already a member, or wish to be a member (membership is free), be sure to visit the Homeschool Movie Club to check out their free curriculum for Dolphin Tale 2! I am new to the Homeschool Movie Club and I'm so sad that I did not know of it sooner! They provide homeschoolers with wonderful curriculum for movies. You can use them as standalone lessons, or add them to a unit study or as part of a curriculum. Dolphin Tale and Dolphin Tale 2  could be used to compliment a science lesson (dolphins, oceans and aquariums are three main themes) or even one about health, since these movies address rehabilitation after an injury and the use of a prosthetic limb (albeit on a dolphin).

Most of the curriculum offered by the Homeschool Movie Club includes a video and downloadable (color) PDF. Based on what is offered, I'd suggest using this curriculum as a week-long unit study (one lesson per day). The activities and experiments are divided up based on age range (elementary, middle and high school).
Lesson One introduces dolphins, their anatomy and some physical science. There are pages to write in the answers to different parts of the dolphin and draw the different parts, vocabulary words, facts and activities to learn how dolphins move.
Lesson Two teaches you about a day in the life of a dolphin. This lesson covers literature and biology, including a read-aloud story and coloring pages. There are reading comprehension questions and an experiment.
Lesson Three addresses geography and provides a map to write in the names of the oceans. Younger children can simply color the ocean blue and the land green and have their parents write the ocean names.
Lesson Four teaches about aquarium life. I would suggest visiting the Clearwater Marine Aquarium to reference for the art activities. The coloring pages include a pelican, sea turtle, otter, and dolphin.
Lesson Five talks about dolphins and humans. This lesson covers math skills and more vocabulary lessons that address the roles of people who work with marine animals. There are also veterinary assessment cards, which can be used for pretend play!
The Classical Conversations Curriculum for the movie is also an enormous resource about dolphins and marine life! However, keep in mind that it is a Christian curriculum, and so it includes a Bible-based lesson (near the end and you can ignore it if you want). I read a majority of the curriculum and did not see much that would dissuade us from using it, since we often do not use religious materials for homeschooling. It is definitely worth checking out and using with these lessons!

About the author of the curriculum: "Sherri Seligson has homeschooled her four children for 21 years and is the author of Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Marine Biology high school curriculum, Interning for High School Credit, and the curriculum Dolphin Tale and War Horse."

Overall, we really liked this curriculum and look forward to using it for our homeschool unit studies! I feel like even my youngest child would be able to keep up with the majority of the lessons. It's complete, as far as a unit study is concerned and provides many outlets for additional learning. Watching Dolphin Tale and Dolphin Tale 2 will definitely compliment this unit study!

Group Resource Website:
Official Movie Website:
Twitter: @dolphintale
Watch and share the trailer:
#DolphinTale2 #HomeschoolDay2014 #WinterHasHope

If you are interested, enter this wonderful giveaway for your own promo pack, which includes a Dolphin Tale 2 t-shirt and sunglasses! 

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Game of the Month: Ani-Gram-It {review}

Welcome to our first Game of the Month!

We love board games. We love card games. We love playing games with our kids and our friends. We play board games nearly every day. So it's about time that I share that love with our readers!

Each month I will share a wonderful game that we love! I'll walk you through how to play the game, any alterations we might have made (we sometimes customize the rules for younger players), and how it can be used for homeschooling.

This month we are featuring Ani-Gram-It from na2ure! Firstly, this game is absolutely beautiful! It's full of real images from creatures in nature and is highly detailed. Secondly, this game is fun for the whole family to play! My three-year-old son is even able to play this game with us!

Ani-gram-it is a wonderful game that plays like a crossword puzzle and introduces biology to children. My kids love science, so I knew they would adore this game. My daughter has been obsessed with "the biology of animals" ever since we began playing this game! My son is learning so much too, and now he will point out specific features of animals we see in nature, in pictures, and on tv.

Ani-gram-it is for 2-4 players and recommended for children ages 8+, but honestly, younger children who have an interest in biology will really like this game (use your own judgement when playing a game with small cardboard pieces). You could also try out the Ani-gram-it To Go card game or ferret iPad app.

The ferret iPad app teaches children how to classify animals. Kids can easily swipe or tap the images or words to arrange them. Children will learn about anatomy, habitat and even behavior of different animals. They will be able to build an animal from the inside out and make discoveries along the way! It's a seriously fun science app!

The app is available for free and offers an in-app purchase for an additional group of 52 animals ($2.99).

Ani-gram-it To Go is a simplified version of the Ani-gram-it board game. The cards are laminated and double-sided. So there are still two ways to play, either with the picture side or the word side. You could even introduce these cards to toddlers (with supervision) and use them as a visual tool to teach them about biology. Preschoolers will especially love to use these cards for science lessons. They can use the cards to build animals or design their own unique creatures! My daughter has occasionally created mythical creatures for fun. They will learn the difference between fur and hair, scales and spikes, beaks and trunks, etc. They will also be drawn to the detailed photographs of the animals. Spread out the cards picture side up on a table and play a guessing game to name the animal pictured! And because they come in a small box, you can take them anywhere! The box is small enough to tuck into a purse, or diaper bag or kids' backpack. Take them to dinner at a restaurant, on a picnic to the park, or on vacation to play in a car or on a plane. There are so many options for these cards! (They would also make a great stocking stuffer for a science-loving kid on Christmas!)

Ani-gram-it To Go is available for $19.99.

Back to Ani-gram-it! You can play this game two ways. You can either use the back side of the tiles, which have words on them (like beak, spine, slimy) or you can use the side with pictures. Once you've chosen your side, select seven tiles at random (we typically put them in a basket, but this game comes with a pouch that you can use). If you play with younger children, you can select a smaller amount of tiles. We typically use five or six tiles when we are playing with Munchkin.

This game plays like a crossword puzzle. You have to make a complete animal either down or across, using a minimum of four tiles, and you have to start on one of the four middle tiles (they are colored). You'll notice the animal (a chameleon) with three tiles in the picture below - that was Munchkin's. Go ahead and make the minimum tiles three for the younger players. It's a learning game and the more they play, the more they will understand how anatomy works.

Bean has a lot of fun imagining what the creatures would look like if they were actually made with all the pieces in the pictures. Like birds' wings on an insect or crocodile teeth on a rabbit.

At the end of your turn, draw back up to seven tiles. You should always have the starting amount at the beginning of your turn. You do not have to play your tiles in any particular order (like an anagram). Arrange them however you want, but keep in mind that if someone else builds upon your animal, it may result in a chance of species!

On your turn, play one or more tiles to create a new animal. You can play your tile(s) one of three ways: cross on one tile of an already placed animal, add to an already placed animal, or add/cross to one of the ends of an already placed animal.

You can pass on your turn if you wish too, although you can almost always add something.

I am typically the person who verifies that creatures are correct. For instance, if someone tries to place a trunk on a fish.

The game ends when all of the tiles are used. We only play like that if we make it that far! Typically after 5-10 animals they are ready to move on to a new activity.

Use the score card to mark your points. We use the score card to write down the name of our animal and then what parts were used to create it. Over time we have noticed a better understanding of animal anatomy.

You score one point for each tile.

You score a bonus point if the animal you make corresponds with a picture on a tile you used. Example, if you make a tiger by using fur, spine, eye, ears, tail. The eye tile has a picture of a tiger's eye, so that tile scores you two points.

You can also score a bonus point if you use a tile from each category: move, see/hear/find, eat, skin and body inside. For example, your panda was made using: limbs, eyes, teeth, fur and spine.

Make things a bit more interesting by deciding on a theme at the beginning of the game, such as only creating animals found in a desert or in a jungle. This activity is great for unit studies if you are learning about a particular environment. If I know we are playing the game in advance, I can set up photo cards of animals in that habitat as inspiration or a reference. Munchkin plays his cards face up, while Bean plays with the pictures face down and checks it after she creates the animal. 

For our recent unit study on the Early Settlers, we focused on animals found in eastern North America and the domesticated animals that they brought across the ocean with them. You might create: deer, rabbit, raccoon, wolf, fish, whale, cow, pig, chicken, and horse, among many other creatures!

The game board is also reversible!

Even the box is beautifully detailed! The cover is filled with stunning pictures of animals and the base of the box has an example of a game play. 

You'll find the rules for the game on the back of the box. 

Everything fits neatly in the box and since it is fairly small (8.5 x 8.5 x 2), that makes it easier to store!

Overall, we love this game! It has been such a fun way to learn about biology and has been a great addition to our science lessons. We will definitely continue using this game for our science activities, and it was exactly the thing we were looking for to add some science to our history themed unit studies!

I would definitely recommend this game! Children who love science (or animals in general), interesting puzzles, or parents who want to include more STEM activities at home, will all really love this game! This is one of those unique games that you will be so happy to own and you'll be pleased by how naturally your children learn from playing it! Homeschoolers can easily add this game as a hands-on science lesson that is fun to play!


Disclosure: I received Ani-Gram-It for free in exchange for an honest review. I requested to feature this game to kick-start our Game of the Month series because I knew we would love it! My opinion of the game was not swayed by the free product and all opinions are my own.