Sunday, March 30, 2014

Things That Make Me Smile 3/21/14

Jake (8), Alyssa (6), Zac (4), Tyler (1½)

Happy Weekend! Things have been busier than normal around here, giving us many reasons to Smile.

1. Alyssa, confidently: "I know what 10 plus 100 is: ten hundred."

2. Zac: "If I went to space, I would sleep all the time. Space is dark and you sleep when it's dark."

3. Jake, while reading: "It says they found 9 pieces of eight. How can that be?"

4. Finding Jake reading to his siblings just because.

5. Tyler sweetly saying "Gank gou, Mommy" every time I give him something. 

6. Zac, pointing to a picture of Batman: "Look how cutesy he is!"

7. Jake: "Tyler Joseph!"
Me: "What's he doing now?"
Jake: "He's getting in the garbage can, like a raccoon."

8. Jake: "Mom, are you going to be ready for a 5th one this year?"
Me: "A 5th one what?"
Jake: "A 5th child."

9. Zac choosing his socks for the day by which power he wants: Lightening McQueen for super speed, Mr. Incredible for super strength, etc..

10. Tyler watching a video of Zac reading his first book a few weeks ago.

11. Alyssa, not seeing the snow flakes falling: "It's spring! Can we go out in summer clothes now?"

12. Zac, to Alyssa: "I wish God didn't give you feet to kick me in the head."

13. Spending the day alone with Alyssa for her 6th birthday.

14. Jake, making up his own joke: "Why was the necklace sad?"
Me: "I don't know. Why?"
Jake: "Because it was neck-less!"

What made you Smile this week?

Pin It

Friday, March 21, 2014

Things That Make Me Smile 3/14/14

 Jake (8), Alyssa (5½), Zac (4), Tyler (1½) 

Happy Friday! I can't believe I'm a week behind on Smiles again. Sigh, I wonder when I'll ever be caught up on everything. Probably when my little one are grown? And by that time, I won't have all the cute stories to share. Oh well, I'll just continue trying to juggle it all and make sure to Smile in the process.

1. Zac: "Jake's birthday is first, but I didn't hear it coming."

2. Alyssa: "Mom!!! Jake's throwing snowballs at me!"
Jake: "She's throwing them at me too."
Me: "If you don't want to play, why are you throwing them at him?"
Alyssa: "Well . . . they're not really at him. They're just kinda by him."

3. We were finishing up school one day when Zac disappeared. After a few minutes, I looked for him around the house and found him asleep in Alyssa's room.

4. Zac: "Mom, were we parents when you were little?"

5. Zac: "How do you spell peanut butter?"
Me: "P-e-a-n-u-t b-u-t-t-e-r."
Zac, pointing to the jar: "They spelled it wrong. J-I-F."

6. Me, helping Zac get ready to play outside: "Your gloves are all wet because you left them on the floor."
Zac: "I don't care if they're wet. I'm not scared of water . . . I'm only scared of water if it gets on my socks."

7. Zac, concerned because I sent the kids outside to "get rid of some energy": "I don't want to lose all my energy. If I lose all my energy, I won't be able to walk."

8. Tyler eating cereal with milk for the first time.

9. Jake, holding a piece of scrap paper: "Doesn't it look like Delaware?"

10. Zac, in the bathroom: "Mom! . . . Mom! Moooom! . . . Mom!"
Me: "I didn't know you were in here."
Zac: "I told Dad."
Me: "Well, then why didn't you call for Dad? I bet he knows how to wipe your butt."
Zac: "But I wanted you."

What made you Smile this week?

Pin It

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Glow-in-the-Dark Egg Hunt

My kids love any type of adventure. The egg hunt is one of their favorite parts of Easter. So when Egglo Entertainment sent us some really fun products to review (including glow-in-the-dark eggs!), they were excited.

Our package included the following:
 *Product currently on sale. Price reflects regular cost. See website for sale price.

Egglo Entertainment's goal is to teach children about the love of God and help to strengthen their relationship with Him. The products place the focus of Easter back on Jesus. While our kids do get baskets and eggs on Easter Sunday, we don't celebrate the Easter Bunny in our house. We don't want anything to distract us from the true reason for celebrating: the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. These products reiterate what we are teaching our children.

The Egg-cellent Easter Adventure is a cute book about 3 kids who find themselves on an adventure. They're whisked across the world, following clues and glowing eggs. Each egg has two scrolls inside. One scroll has a Bible verse to help them on their journey and the other contains the clue to the next location. The kids learn valuable lessons along the way, like having courage, being humble, and working together. The kids discover that Jesus is the treasure. He is the light of the world. Just like they followed the light of the glowing Easter eggs to get to the next step, we need to follow the light of Jesus through life.

In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; 
and the darkness comprehended it not. 
John 1:4-5

They also offer an audio version of the book. My little ones love listening to audio books while driving, folding laundry, coloring, or whatever. They enjoyed listening to this one, especially the sound effects. I personally felt that the story seemed slightly disjointed at parts, like the author was trying too hard to make it suspenseful, but then rushed it. The kids (8, 5, 4) didn't make any indications that they felt this way though. They greatly enjoyed the book. It is a lengthy story and took us about a half hour to read and discuss it.

More than the book though, they loved the glow-in-the-dark eggs! The eggs are easily charged with light--sunlight, UV black light, fluorescent, incandescent--but sunlight works best. I charged the eggs in the sunlight, but we weren't able to have the hunt for a little while later. Since the eggs hold their glow the strongest the first hour and lose luminance over 2-3 hours, they weren't very bright. The kids used flashlights to find the eggs and had plenty of fun. After that, we made sure to charge the eggs and have the hunt immediately. The eggs glowed brightly in the dark! It was another lesson how we, as God's children, need to shine brightly in the world.

We also got tiny scrolls, like the ones in the story, with verses about Jesus on them. After our hunt, we opened the eggs and read the verses.  Since the verses are based on the Bible, and not actually the Scriptures themselves, we also read the verses in our Bible. The kids were excited to find prizes in the eggs and thought the scrolls were so cute.

The last part of our package was the program guide curriculum. This resource is full of ideas for churches and individuals to put together an Easter event for kids. The 60-page guide has cute snack ideas, coloring pages, activities, decorations, invitations, Bible verse scrolls, discussion cards, and more. They make it very simple to plan a meaningful celebration that points kids to Jesus. The whole event centers on the fact that Jesus is the light of the world. 

We didn't plan a big party to use these ideas. We incorporated them in our own activities throughout the days. From reading the account in the Bible to enjoying the activities to eating the yummy snacks, everything has pointed us back to Jesus.

We have enjoyed remembering Jesus' sacrifice on the cross and His resurrection as we've used these products. It's been a fun Easter study. It can be adapted to be used with any age, but is geared for ages 4-13, thogh I think even after age 10 would be a stretch. You can purchase individual products, or for a discount, you can purchase the Egglo kit which includes everything you need for a successful glow-in-the-dark, pointing-to-Jesus, light-of-the-world activity.

Click on the links to connect with Egglo Entertainment:

Would you like to see what other families thought about these products? You can read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew.

Crew Disclaimer
Pin It

Monday, March 10, 2014

Talking Fingers

My kids love using the iPad. I love when they're learning. So when we can put the two together, everyone's happy. That's why we were excited to review the Talking Shapes iPad App from Talking Fingers, Inc..

The Talking Fingers, Inc.'s goal is to get children to realize that text is speech made visible. We use our mouths to make the sounds of words and our fingers (writing or typing) to represent the sounds on paper. Once children see the relationship between the sounds and letters, they can use that code to write the words they say. They'll make their fingers talk.

Talking Fingers, Inc. has created a new, interactive learning app for preschool readers. This app teaches that letters are "talking shapes" that represent sounds. It is divided into 3 parts: Read to Me, Draw Letters, Play Game.

Read to Me
The Read to Me section uses 3 made-up stories, to teach how two sisters invented the alphabet. The Fat Cat, The Silly Hen, and The Dancing Pig introduce 6 speech sounds and their letters. Each letter is drawn as a picture, or talking shape, to help the child easily remember both the sound and the shape. For instance, the letter C is a curling cat, T is a tree, and S is a slithery snake.

Draw Letters
In the Draw Letters part, the child practices drawing the letters on the screen with his finger while speaking the sound with his mouth. Combining two 2 components (shape and sound) helps cement them in his mind. There are different ways to practice:
  • drawing the letters within guidelines inside the Talking Shapes picture
  • drawing the letters within guidelines only
  • drawing the letters within the Talking Shapes picture with no guidelines
  • drawing letters to make three-letter words

Play Game
There are 3 games to choose in the Play Game section.  
  • Find the Shapes gives the child a word to spell. There are 6 letters inside their picture to choose at the top. The child drags each picture shape to the proper space to spell the word. So, if the word is cat, the child find the picture of the C and cat, then the A and acrobat, and finally the T and Tree. Then the word cat is read, sounded out, and read again.
  • Find the Letters shows just the letters, no picture shape at the top. A word is read, and again, the child drags the letter into the appropriate place. As each letter is touched, its sound is read.
  • Draw the Letters shows just the picture shapes at the top with no actual letters. When the target word is read, the child finds each picture, drags it to its place, and draws the letter. For instance, if the word is wet, the child will find the pictures of worm, elephant, and tree and draw the letters W, E, T

After each of the spelling games, the child listens to a short poem that incorporates the words. After it's read, a word will disappear, and the child has to find the word as it passes the screen in a floating balloon, flapping hen, or flying pig.

Zac (4) has been learning how to make simple CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words, so this app came at a perfect time. When we first downloaded it, he and I sat on the couch and played together. Within a few minutes, Alyssa (5) and Jake (8) joined us. They all were enjoying the stories and pictures so much that they were each trying to be the one to find the letters or pop balloons. Of course, it's a bit too easy for them (even Alyssa is reading long vowel words), so they never choose to play by themselves. It has been great for Zac though. Not only does he enjoy playing, but he's also making improvements with his reading. He has gone from sounding out each letter of the word, to reading the word as a whole.

You can purchase Talking Shapes (the first of 3 apps to teach 40 phonemes) for $5.99. It is compatible with the iPad and requires iOS 6.0 or later. 

You can connect with Talking Fingers through Facebook and their YouTube channel.

To see what others thought of this app, you can read more reviews on the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

Crew Disclaimer
Pin It

Friday, March 7, 2014

Things That Make Me Smile 3/7/14

 Jake (8), Alyssa (5½), Zac (4), Tyler (1½)

Happy Friday! This week has flown by. We read lot of books, celebrated National Pancake Day, and saw lots of blood from injuries from the kids. Never a dull moment! I hope you had many reasons to Smile this week.

1. Leighton: "Where's Alyssa?"
Jake: "Playing freeze tag with herself."

2. Jake, about Clifford the Big Red Dog: "Could you imagine how much bacon we could get from him?"

3. Zac, after getting out of the bathtub: "My hands are crinkly."

4. Zac: "I know how to spell movie . . . T-V."

5. Celebrating Dr. Seuss' birthday.

6. Jake, eating candy that had fallen on the floor: "Mmm, the more dirt the better. That's what Papa would say. He even says that flies are good covered in chocolate."

7. Zac calling Frosted Flakes Frosted Flags.

8. Zac: "I need to put a belt on 'cause these pants are too small."
Me: "They're too small?"
Zac: "Yeah, they keep falling down,"

9. Zac: "Mom, will you spell TV for me?"

10. Jake wrote me a check for $5,000,000,000,000,000 and 999¢ so I could "buy a new house with a huge kitchen."

11. Me: "After we do school, we can play a new game."
Alyssa: "Ooh, what is it?"
Me: "Uno."
Jake, slightly disappointed: "Let me guess, Uno is a Spanish game?"

12. Zac read his first book!!!

13. Leighton: "Say I."
Tyler: "I."
Leighton: "Love."
Tyler: "Mommy!"

What made you Smile this week?

Pin It

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Motivated Moms


The very word is met with groans from my little ones.

At least, it was until we were given a Motivated Moms ebook to review. Now, the kids actually ask to help clean!

Motivated Moms is a chore planning system. Housework, homeschooling, raising a family . . . it all takes time and figuring out where to start can be overwhelming. This system helps take the guess work out of what to do every day. It's as easy as checking the list, doing the work, and marking it complete.

This chore planning system was created by two women who wanted to help moms "balance creative endeavors with their desire to have an orderly an organized environment in their homes." The business started with a traditional book format and evolved to printable ebooks and apps for iPad/iPhone/iPod touch and Android.

I think the most difficult part about using this system was choosing which book I wanted. They have so many options! With differences from half-page to full page, black & white or color, page-per-day or week-per-day, with or without scheduled Bible reading, and any combination of it all, there's a format for everyone. If you're like me, you'll appreciate the option to print a sample page so you can see exactly what each choice is like. I finally settled on the weekly color planner with scheduled Bible reading

I've been wanted to give my little ones (8, 5, 4) more chores around the house. They already had certain tasks (putting away toys, folding/putting away laundry, emptying dishwasher, setting table), but I wanted to give them more responsibilities. I never had a schedule to clean before, so I wasn't consistent in using their abilities. This system keeps me accountable. 

I start the week by assigning chores. I highlight each child's jobs in a different color. If it's not highlighted, it's mine. There are daily chores that are completed every day of the week and then individual day chores. The kids each have a daily chore and usually one individual day chore. Some days, a child won't have any individual day chores at all.

Here is the list for today:
  • Clean middle shelf of refrigerator
  • Mop kitchen
  • Clean/wash hairbrushes and combs
  • Dust family/living room
  • Clean light fixture - utility room
  • Work on baby book/scrap book/photo album

Washing the hairbrushes and combs is purple, so Alyssa (5) will help me with that. Dusting the living room is Jake's (8) job, because it's yellow. Nothing is blue today, so Zac (4) only has to change the dish towel (his daily chore).

The kids have been enjoying this method so much that sometimes while I'm assigning the chores, they beg for me to pick them. Or, if one child is dusting, another one or two will join in, because "this is fun!" I expected the excitement to wear off quickly, but at 6 weeks in, they're still going strong.

There are a few things that I would do differently if I were going to design my own list. Some of the individual tasks don't apply to our family. It's not a big deal. I'm a big list maker, and if I make a list, I have to mark things off the list. For instance, no one in our house takes any prescription medications, so I wouldn't need to check them or call in refills. It's on the list one day though, and it bugs me to leave it unmarked. It makes me feel as though the day is not complete, so I cross it off. Another thing that I would change is that there are no blank spots to add chores to individual days. (There are spots for daily chores.) Sometimes, there are things that I have to do, like bake cupcakes for a party or write a review for the blog {wink}, and I would like to add them to my master list. Also, because we are at church pretty much all day on Sundays with only a couple hours at home in the afternoon, I don't do any chores in those days. The scheduled tasks for Sundays are pretty simple: filing coupons, making shopping list, planning menu. I just do them on another day.

Over all, I really like having the planner. It's helping me involve the kids more, getting them to enjoy the work, and reminding me to do things I often forget (like cleaning the tops of the kitchen cabinets). The things I would change are not enough of a problem to stop me from using it. Those are just the ways I would change it to better suit my needs. Not having to create my own rotating list for an entire year is well-worth overlooking aspects that aren't perfect in my eyes.

You can purchase an ebook for $8 and start the system right away. Or, if you prefer, you can check out the new customizable apps.

To connect more with Motivated Moms, you can follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

If you'd like to see how this system worked for other families or to read some reviews of the iOS app, click here.

Crew Disclaimer
Pin It