Sunday, June 23, 2013

Passport to Imagination!

This summer, Michaels Arts and Crafts is hosting a journey around the globe through crafts.

This week, the girls explored North America.  

We're coming straight from swimming, so please excuse the wet hair!  

On Monday, they created the Grand Canyon as their In-Class Project.  

 In addition to the In-Class Project, they created a Swap Project to attach to their free Explorer's Bag.

Their Swap Project was a Hockey Stick to represent Canada.  

I was a little disappointed with the lack of organization of this event.  The employee arrived at 10am, exactly at the time of the start of the class, with no idea that she was in charge of the class.  Supplies were not ready and it was very noticeable that the store had not planned on children attending. 

We decided to head back over on Wednesday, hoping that it was just first day jitters! 

The girls created a God's Eye from Mexico as their In-Class Project and a Liberty Bell for the Swap Project.

Unfortunately, it was still extremely unorganized.  I was hoping that there would be some sort of introduction to the class, possibly a quick introduction to the country or a reason the specific craft was chosen.  Nothing.  It was simply, here's what we're making, now let's figure it out together how it's done.  

We will not be attending anymore classes.  I just can't justify paying $2 per child for this experience.  However, I love the concept and would be willing to pay, if it was organized and planned.  I would encourage you to check out your local Michael's store to see if you have a better experience than we did this week.  If not, grab a brochure and plan on making the crafts at home!  That's what we'll be doing this summer! 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Summer Reading Program!

We are very blessed to have an amazing library!  The staff is phenomenal, the atmosphere is very child-friendly and the programs throughout the year are outstanding! 

This summer we are Digging Into Reading!  

We have set our family's summer reading goals:

Izzie will read at least 2 chapter books or 6 hours each week.  She's been waiting patiently for Magic Tree House #49 to arrive at our local library.  She's a huge fan and was able to read the first 48 books in the series last year within a six-month period!  She finished last summer and has been waiting and waiting for the latest book.  It finally arrived and she read it within 2 days!  Now, the waiting begins for Magic Tree House #50, which is scheduled to be released in July.  

She has been reading books from several different series, but none compare to the Magic Tree House series!   We are still searching for the next series that she'll love as much as the Magic Tree House books!  Please share ANY suggestions!  

Mac will continue to read picture books.  Her goal is 25 books or 6 hours each week. 

Summer Reading Program: Dig Into Reading!
Each week throughout the summer, our library will sponsor "Dig into Spectacular Thursdays."  This week the theme was "Digging Up Fossils."   Unfortunately, it's only for children 6-10.  Mac was very disappointment that she couldn't participate in the activities.  Thankfully, our library has computers, toys, and an outside playground to keep her distracted! 

Izzie had fun with friends creating her own fossil as well as digging for fossils!  

Next week, it's all about "Digging up Dinosaurs!" 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Father's Day Celebration

We had a glorious Father's Day weekend!   


 The girls created this adorable picture collage for their very special Daddy! 


 Izzie participates in American Heritage Girls.  Her troop had a "Me and My Guy Dance" to celebrate Father's Day!  

 It was so amazing to see all the dads come out and spend a special evening with their daughters!  Priceless memories!  While there, they participated in crafts, games, and dancing!


Moms were not allowed inside.  Thankfully, pictures were taken and shared! 

I LOVE the "professional" pictures that were taken too!  They were sent via e-mail as a read only...unfortunately, I can't figure out how to rotate.  But, had to share!! 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

TOS Review: Birdcage Press

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Our family loves playing games together!  We have a family game night, every night!  So, I'm always searching for high-quality, educational games. I literally squealed in excitement the first time I saw the items from  Birdcage Press.  

Founder of Birdcage Press and mother of three, Dr. Wenda O'Reilly, first began creating educational games for her own children in order to make learning more fun. Currently, Birdcage Press publishes a variety of award-winning games that make history, nature and art enjoyable for the entire family!  


We had the opportunity to review Art Ditto

Recommended Age: 4+ years old

Price: $24.95


Dr. O'Reilly updated the classic game of Memory, when she created Art Ditto.  Memory games have always been a favorite for my girls, ages 6 and 4, so they were excited to play.  

Birdcage Press, Art Ditto

Art Ditto contains a total of 48 high quality tile cards, each with a vibrant museum-quality art reproduction.  Izzie and Mac had a lot of fun playing the traditional memory game.  However, they were more intrigued by the stunning artwork and quickly started picking out which ones were their favorites. 

Birdcage Press, Art Ditto: Tile Cards

 Afterward, I introduced them to the eight large art-collecting cards, which are also included in Art Ditto.  When the art-collecting cards are used, the game is still played like Memory; however, each player is trying to locate the art on their art-collecting cards.  

Birdcage Press, Art Ditto
  These oversized, double-sided art-collecting cards are very well constructed and each card represents a different category: birds, boats, cats, fruit, horses, flowers, music and tigers.  Each categorical art-collecting card contains three works of art, each from a different artist.  It was very beneficial that the girls were able to see how the three different artists painted a particular subject.  

Birdcage Press, Art Ditto: Art-Collecting Cards

 The front of the art-collecting cards shows a particular detail from the painting.  In addition, underneath each artwork, there are words to describe the art in four different languages.   

Birdcage Press, Art Ditto: Front of Art-Collecting Cards

On the back of each art-collecting card, the full works of art can be seen, as well as, who painted what and when. 

Birdcage Press, Art Ditto: Back of Art-Collecting Cards


 In conclusion, my girls loved playing Art Ditto.  They were captivated by the beauty of the artwork.  I appreciated the high-quality construction and added educational value!

Birdcage Press, Art Ditto


Sail over to read what other Crew Mates had to say about their experience with one of many products from Birdcage Press


Sunday, June 9, 2013

TOS Review: Christianity Cove

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Christianity Cove provides online resources, such as lesson ideas, crafts, games, activities and tips for Children's Ministry.  Former Sunday School Director, Mary-Kate Warner, is the the owner and publisher of Christianity Cove.  Her goal is to provide fresh, fun, creative and inexpensive ideas to help students understand the Bible and relate it to their own lives.


We received the following downloads from Christianity Cove: 

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                          $29.95                                                  $29.95

Both of these products are currently on sale for $19.95 for the first 250 individuals who order. 


Izzie, 6 years old, is currently a member of American Heritage Girls; therefore, she is encouraged to participate in community service projects throughout the year.  It's been challenging to find age-appropriate projects for her that require little help from me.  So, I was thrilled when we were offered to review 100 Simple Service Projects!  
100 Simple Service Projects is for children Pre-K through 6th grade.

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The downloadable PDF contains 56 pages consisting of 100 simple children's service projects, as well as tips and advice. 

There are 5 sections, beginning with the easiest service projects and transitioning to the most involved service projects.

1.  Service to the Family 

 Mary-Kate Warner stresses that the most important lesson is that “charity begins at home.”  Therefore, the first section teaches that the child must see him/herself as a vested family member.  She suggests that the easiest way to inspire your children is to implement a "chore coupon program."

Examples of service projects to the family:
  • Walking the dog.
  • Reading a book to younger sibling. 
  • Helping grandparents with house chores.   

The girls have been helping in the garden!  

2.  Service to those in the Neighborhood

 This section requires more parental cooperation than the others, as the parent will need to coordinate with neighbors.  

Suggested service projects: 
  • Moving trash cans on garbage day. 
  • Yard work, such as raking leaves or shoveling snow. 
  • Organizing a neighborhood yard sale.  

Izzie walked around the neighborhood and passed out flyers regarding our neighborhood yard sale. 

3.  Service to the Community

This section if divided into 6 different sections, each containing many ideas and tips for various projects:
  • Serving the Elderly 
  • Services for Children 
  • Services for Animals 
  • Services for the Environment 
  • Services for Wildlife 
  • Service to Community Shelters 

The girls dropped off some much needed supplies to our local Wildlife Center. 

4. Service to Large Charities in America and Overseas

 This sections contains a list of 18 child-friendly charities, with a brief description of each. 

We always participate in Operation Christmas Child.

5.  Service of a child's own design 

The final section contains several examples of how children have started many charities to help inspire your child to possibly create his or her own. 

My thoughts on 100 Simple Service Projects:

I really enjoyed learning about the different ways Izzie and Mac can contribute to our family and community by participating in many of the 100 Simple Service Projects.  The projects suggested are simple, but can have a deep impact on your child, as well as to help develop a life-long love of giving in your child.


Unfortunately, many children are bullied.  This past year, Izzie experienced some bully-behavior by a little girl at our local coop.  Thankfully, I was able to nip it in the bud before it had a chance to dramatically alter Izzie's self-esteem.  However, I was still very interested in reviewing Bullying and the Bible in order to learn what the Bible says about bullying and learning how I could provide my girls with a biblical foundation to combat bullying.

Bullying and the Bible is for children aged 5-16.

The downloadable PDF contains 6 lessons, which contain more than 30 scripture verses, which stand at the center of modern-day anti-bullying practices and are used throughout the lessons.  In addition, there are crafts, games, and discussions that reinforce the lessons.  All lessons are presented in a way to help your child learn how to respond in bullying situations, whether they are the victim, a bystander, or a potential bully.

It is suggested to use one lesson per week.  Each lesson takes approximately 1 hour to complete and is divided into 6 parts.

1.  Lesson Capsule--brief introduction of lesson.

2.  Top of the Lesson Attention Getter--definition of bullying, which will be included in each lesson.

3.  Review of Last Lesson

4.  Lesson--each lesson will teach one of the 6 specific anti-bullying concepts.  The lessons are scripted.

5.  Craft or Discussion--crafts are used to help reinforce the lesson.  Materials are easily found and inexpensive.

6.  Games--most of the games are immediately followed by the lesson in order to reinforce what was learned.

Bullying and the Bible, Lesson 1 Craft--I'm A Nicey!

The girls with their "Shields of Faith and Forgiveness Wands."

My thoughts of Bullying and the Bible:

The lessons within Bullying and the Bible are very well organized and it was extremely beneficial having the lessons scripted.  In addition, I really appreciated how each lesson included scripture verses.  The craft pages where very clear with detailed instructions, included a list of inexpensive materials and required very little preparation.

The only suggestion I have would be to change the second definition of a Meanie.  It currently states, "Meanies only attack those ANNOYING THEM."  I did change this to "Meanies can attack anyone."  I never want my children to feel that they are the reason someone else is being mean to them.  It has nothing to do with their behavior!  It has everything to do with the behavior of the meanie! 


Sail over to read what other Crew Mates had to say about their experience with one of many products from Christianity Cove.


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