Thursday, September 26, 2013

Show and Tell: Treasures from the Farm

I promise I haven't fallen off the face of the earth. I've been here. In the same little apartment on the second floor. Obviously I've been cranking out reviews like there's no tomorrow. We've gotten to review some pretty terrific stuff. And there's more to come!

Anyhoo. Fall is now officially open for business. In the next few weeks I'll share a few odds and ends on the matter.

So many of you have heard (or maybe you haven't) that my parents have been restoring a small rock farmhouse for the past several years. My dad took that baby right down to the studs. In the meantime, they stayed with my aunt and uncle in Joplin for a year. Then they started camping out at the Farm. And when I say camping....Just imagine  all your plumbing needs in a bucket. That's all I'm saying.

Recently, they've gotten to that place of "stuff retrieval." Which means they are bringing their belongings from storage buildings to the farm. Which also means marathon unpacking. I think it's been overwhelming for both of them. Especially because this is also "harvest the garden" time of year. More canning has been going on in the kitchen than I've seen in a long time.

It's really been fun to arrive at the farm every weekend and see what Mom has uncovered from a box or bucket. Some of their stuff has been in storage for years.

I personally like eclectic and unusual treasures. My parents have traveled quite a bit and are both collectors of a variety of interesting things.

I thought I would play a bit of "show and tell." My mom took the pictures. We had fun playing.

I love vintage china. One of the things I dislike about apartment living is that all of my pretties are locked away. This cup and saucer is not a vintage piece. But it's cute. I like cute.

I don't remember this cast of marionette puppets living at the house when I was at home. I'm sure this was an acquisition ABLH (After Beke Left Home).  I think they are darling.

Mom has just a little bit of a soft spot for "babies." The living and the stuffed. This is a little Latin stuffed baby. She is decorating her kitchen and dining room with a Latin Flair. This baby and a few others are occupying their own shelf.

Another Latin baby. Look at her little pot. Precious!

I have to brag just a bit. This piece of pottery was created by my niece. She's 16 and beautiful. And obviously talented. Isn't it lovely?

This jump rope belonged to my Grandma Polly.It is frayed and broken....and much loved.

Another one of Grandma Polly's treasures. Uncle Delmore (I've probably spelled his name wrong) went to Mexico way back when and brought this little bag back to Grandma when she was a little girl. 

My Grandma passed away when I was 18. This is another one of her treasures from Uncle Delmore's trip to Mexico. I miss her.

We took a few trips to the Petrified National Forest in New Mexico when I was a kid. Can you believe that this bit of rock was once a tree? You can't haul stuff out of the Forest. They check your car and even your shoes if you look suspicious before leaving the Park. Mom and Dad had to lay down some cash for this memory.

Another family treasure. Not the fake fruit. You can buy a bag of that at Hobby Lobby. Notice the beautifully carved Bread Bowl? It's old. A Great Great (and possibly Great) Grandfather Michel (my grandmother's maiden name) carved it. I have threatened to sneak it out of the house under the cloak of darkness.

Okay. Maybe this is some kind of alcoholic beverage glass.I'm not sure. I don't drink alcoholic beverages. Neither do my parents. I just think it's cute. Cute goes a long way with me.

Not all treasures were found ones. This gourd (which came from my Dad's garden) was transformed by my Mom. 

Here is another one. Isn't it beautiful? She's so good at this kind of stuff. I'm like..."where's the spray paint?"

Last little treasures to show (for now). This is a set of salt and pepper shakers. It is old Mexican Pottery. Just so interesting!

So thank you for indulging me. Do you have favorite treasures?

TOS Review: See It and Say It Flip Flop Spanish

Hola!  I took 2 years of Spanish in High School. Other than being able to ask directions to the bathroom, I’m pretty sure my Spanish speaking skills are fairly nonexistent.  The sad fact is that both of my parents also speak Spanish. In fact, my dad is somewhat of a linguist. I’m lucky to remember my name some days. 

I have always wanted Josiah’s experiences to be a bit broader than my own. Which means I eventually would like him to be able to go beyond asking for the nearest lavatory in Spanish. The beauty of homeschooling is that I can provide a variety of experiences to help him achieve this. 

I had the opportunity to review a fun product called See It and Say It Flip Flop Spanish from Flip Flop Learning. Flip Flop Learning is a company that has created fun resources for learning French and Spanish. 

What I Received

See It and Say It Flip Flop Spanish is a 2-year Spanish program. This program uses audial, tactile, and visual learning styles to help you and your child learn Spanish. The recommended age for this product is broad. Your 3-year-old can use it along with your 90-year-old great Grandma. Which means that the options are endless. Even this tired momma (who falls somewhere in between 3 and 90) can brush up on her Spanish speaking skills.  There are suggestions by Señora Gose (the author of this wonderful program) for providing extra challenges for older students. 

The program contains 45 lessons. The beauty of these lessons is that they can be repeated as needed. I love how it all works. Each lesson lasts one week. You only do Spanish 3 days a week. On the 1st day, the student follows a CD track. The 2nd the student repeats the CD track. On the 3rd day, I am on deck (as the teacher) and I simply read through the script for that lesson. I liked being able to take some time with Josiah and reinforce what he had been learning.  Each lesson should only take about 10 or 15 minutes. Anybody can do 10 or 15 minutes! 

When you receive your box from Flip Flop Learning in the mail, you will find in it some neat stuff.  

A manual with lesson plans
4 CD’s (audio)
Flash cards with pictures (3 sets)
1 white board paddle   
1 dry erase marker

I loved this insert in the box. Easy Peasy! 

Starting right out of the gate, the student is introduced to vocabulary words and begins to use simple sentences. There are games included as well to help the student practice their Spanish vocabulary skills.  The Flash Cards and CDs provide an interactive learning experience. This is a wonderfully unique way to learn a foreign language.

How We Used It

Josiah was convinced he knew Spanish already. I tried to explain to him that just because he can speak in a freakishly convincing Spanish accent does not mean he can actually speak Spanish. 

Aren’t kids funny?

I love the pace of this program. As I explained above, 1 lesson takes place over 3 days.
I want to walk you through a typical lesson.  This particular lesson was Lesson 5 (or cinco).  

Before Josiah started this particular lesson (which was on Day 1), I gathered the flash cards he would need.  There are 3 sets of flash cards. They are divided by 3 different colors…verde, azul and rojo (do you know your colors in Spanish?) and they are all numbered. On one side of the card is a picture of a phrase or vocabulary word. On the other side is the word in Spanish along with the English translation. I absolutely love this method. As you might know, Josiah is dyslexic. The reinforcement of the picture made things so much easier for him. 

The words for the lesson were:
            la cabeza – the head
            me duele – (it) hurts me
            el brazo – the arm
            el estómago – the stomach
         la mano – the hand

Josiah set up his CD player to the appropriate track (he would use tracks 14-16) on this day. And then he simply pushed play. As Señora Gose taught he followed her instructions by pointing to the appropriate card. I took this picture during Track 14. Looks like somebody needs to dust her TV!

Track 15 was additional practice.

Track 16 showed Josiah how to build sentences. 

Remember that this is Day 1. Day 2 will take him through the paces again and on Day 3 I will take over for Señora Gose and repeat the same lesson.

At the end of this lesson it is suggested that the student play charades while listening to the sentences they just learned. 

“Me duele la cabeza.”  My head hurts. Can you tell that someone can be just a tad bit dramatic?

“Me duele el estómago.” My stomach hurts. No. He's not dramatic at all.

“Me duele aquí.”  It hurts here. A little "true to life." Poor guy. He's got a tooth coming in. Now he can talk about it Spanish.

Josiah and I can now go to any Spanish speaking country and complain about a headache. Which is good because both of us suffer from just a little hypochondria.  

I wanted to show you another cool activity using the whiteboard paddle that comes with the program. This game is called ¡Paleta! (paddle).

The student plays Pictionary uses the nouns they have learned. ¡Paleta! wasn’t part of this particular lesson, but we thought it would be fun to play. Josiah is trying to stump me with “la mano.” I’m craftier than he thinks. He failed to put away the flash card with “la mano” clearly written on it. I tried not to look. I promise. Anybody else thinks this picture looks like a whiteboard paddle with eyebrows? 

Josiah wanted to play Show and Tell with a few of his favorite flash cards.

Here he is holding the “el gato” card. Which means “the cat.” This card was a big hit. The cat happens to look one of the cats who live at Josiah’s Ama and Papa’s farm.I'm not so sure what the crazy face is for. I think someone is showing off for the camera. 

Another card. Another cat. You can tell somebody likes cats. 

Josiah and I obviously did a little flash card investigating. Here is my favorite.

You guessed it. El cuarto de baño?

We love this program. I love the fact that it incorporates a good mixture learning styles. Not only that, but it’s just fun. And (which is a biggie for us at this season of life) I don’t have to carve out huge chunks of time. I also love that I can use See It and Say It Flip Flop Spanish for the next 2 years. Consistency is the name of the game. This program is a great fit for Josiah and for our family.  It’s easy to use and well planned out.

Another plus is that this program is not just for homeschoolers. This would be a great addition to any family’s learning experiences.

You can purchase See It and Say It Spanish for $99.95.  That’s not too bad for 2 years of a foreign language.

TOS Crew Members everywhere reviewed this product. You can check more reviewed here, por favor.



Monday, September 23, 2013

TOS Review: The Presidential Game

I had a brief stint as a political activist in my youth. I attended a protest and I almost got to participate in a “sit-in.” Instead, I had to attend a choir competition. Ding Dong it! You can see that my activism only extended to space on my social calendar. That being said, I have always had strong political “leanings” and once accused my parents as being “moderates” (the horror….I was about 15). 

My husband and I follow elections (as should all Americans) and go to the polling stations having done our homework on the issues. We also take Josiah to the polls with us. He has been with me so many times he’s convinced he, himself, has done his bit for our great democracy. 

When I received the opportunity to review The Presidential Game, I was thrilled. Josiah and I love playing games and this seemed like a great one to add to our stash of family games. Games are a great opportunity for family’s only a “win-win” situation when that game is educational. 

What I Received

The Presidential Game is a two-time winner of the National Parenting Center of Approval and received the Family Review Gold Award in 2012. So you can see that I don’t really need to talk it up.  It comes with good credentials. 

It was created for ages 11 and up, but as you play this game in teams, I am sure you can buddy up a younger child with one of the teams. I have a few nieces that are just a bit younger than would eat this game up. You can guess what the teams consist of. Yep. One team are Democrats and the other  Republicans. You obviously need 2 or more players. 

The game comes with the following: 

  • 1 Game Board
  • 1 Score Pad
  • 3 Blue Dice and  3 Red Dice
  • 80 Politics Cards
  • 40 "Write-Your-Own" Politics Cards
  • 150 Republican Red Vote Chips
  • 150 Democrat Blue Vote Chips
  • 1 Electoral WebMap™ Calculator Access Code
So how does it work? This is all about the Presidential Campaign, folks.  Each team is playing to reach the required 270 electoral votes to win the Presidential election. The players learn about the campaign trail and our election process...which obviously can be fairly cutthroat!  

Before rolling the dice, your team has to decide if you are going to fundraise or campaign. If your team decides to hit the campaign trail, you must choose the three states you will be campaigning in during that turn. Each state may only be visited once each turn.  

 If your team decides that fundraising is the way to go, there are only four states that you are allowed to fundraise in… California, Texas, New York and Florida. Josiah was pretty insulted that Missouri wasn’t on the list. I suppose we are short on high rollers. After you roll the dice, you must allocate at least ½ of your total number to one of those states. You are then allowed to put the remaining number of votes on any state of your choosing. 

After your team “fundraises,” you choose a Politics Card. These can be quite the kicker. I drew one that gave to me what I needed to take “New York” during one of our games. My guys weren’t too pleased with me. 

Some of the Politics Cards were obviously taken from real life politics. There was the one in which your team lost points because your running mate insisted he or she could see Russia from his or her house (hmmm). Then there are those that can teach students a little bit more about different areas of the country and why certain policies a candidate might take up would benefit him or her in a particular state. 

This is one. You favor continuing all farm subsidies. Add 2 votes to Iowa and 2 votes to Nebraska. Obviously, I am able to share with Josiah why farming subsidies would be so important to those 2 states. Or how about this one. You drive American cars while your opponent owns several foreign cars. Add 4 votes to Michigan.  

There are also 40 “write your own” Politics Cards. We haven’t used those yet. I am afraid to see what Josiah would come up with!  

It is suggested that before you begin to play the game you decide how many weeks you want the campaign to last. During our first go around, we decided we wanted the game to last until one team reached 270 points. That takes a long time. There are rules available if you decide on a shorter game on how states that are still in play or neutral will be won. The team that reaches 270 electoral votes wins the whole shebang. Which in this case is The Presidential Election.

There is a scoring pad available, but we used the handy dandy WebMap Calculator online. This made math for me so much easier…and I didn’t have to keep track of the trickery and strategy that goes on with all the vote stealing! You can see a screen shot of it right here.

How We Used It

This was a great game! I can also see this game being played with multiple generations. I have a few strategists in my family that would eat this sort of thing up. I want to show you want went down when we played with Daddy. Also known as, Troy (aka The Muffin). The rest of the players were Josiah (aka The Boy) and Me (aka Mom). 

Troy and Josiah made up one team. I was the other. I have to say that it got vicious. And I have to say that had I been paying better attention during this particular game (as opposed to taking pictures) I could have wiped them all off the map. 

The Boy Team. Also known as the Republicans get their game faces on. At least, I hope that's a game face. 
 What is pretty great about this game is that there are other skills involved (other Social Studies). Josiah had to use his math and reading skills.

 The Boys discuss strategy. And they plot to take away one of my states I had just won. Buggers.
 Josiah enjoyed reading the Politics Cards. Be warned. There are some of the scenarios given that are taken straight from the headlines (which means they aren't necessarily all that savory). Josiah was properly scandalized when he discovered that his fictional "uncle" had gotten drunk at the picnic on cheap beer. 
 The game board got pretty wild. The closer we got to the end of the game the crazier things got.

 Hawaii changed hands several times.

 And I as the Democratic Candidate, won Missouri early on...only to have it taken from me. Buggers.
 The winning Party flaunts his victory. 

 I am not going to get into any political argument here, but I have to say I didn't hate the end result (even though I lost) :<)

We had so much fun with this one! I can see this game being in use quite a bit.

The Presidential Game can be purchased here for $35.00. I believe it is a great addition to your closet full of games (don’t tell me you don’t have one of those!). I guarantee you it will be a hit with your family as well. 

You can check out more reviews here.


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