Lesson Adventures

A friend of mine is in the process of starting a new computer game for kids.


So far it’s called Lesson Adventures.  It’s a fun concept, it takes a little bit of Oregon Trail, a little bit of a fantasy theme, and puts it together into a computer game, which my boys would love to play more of.  They can’t yet because right now it requires being able to read, and I really don’t want to read all of the quest text to them.


But, it’s going to provide a great incentive to learn to read.


When you go to the site you’ll see this:



They have a demo up with some questions for the 8th grade classroom that is trying it out. 


image (3)


This is your character sheet.  As you complete adventures you get paid money based on how well you’ve done.  You can get armor and different things to make your character look different.  My boys loved what I called the “Wookie look,” and I was corrected it’s the Wolfman.


image (2)

Right now it’s a fairly straight forward quest chain.  You accept the quest and go out and defeat slime monsters and skeletons by answering questions.  The plan once the game is live is to let you put in material your class is covering, and the game will make a quest for you.


Doesn’t that sound like a more interesting way to study and review than just drill and kill?  I’d have loved it as a kid.


Now, why am I bringing this up?  Well, they’ve got a kickstarter for Lesson Adventures going on right now.


So, please help them out and check it out.

THE Math game for the family

003So, I started to write a post about going to a homeschool convention, but realized I didn’t have anything super helpful to say, and it was mainly going to be lots of hints of things to come.  I didn’t want to write that.

So (seriously I use that too much), Instead, I’ll just jump write in. 

001Here’s the premise, you’re going around the board in either direction to whatever square you want.  You get there by building equations from the tiles you have.  Your numbers can be positive, negative, or exponents (we took out the exponents), and you get operation tiles as well.

I spent a good hour or so talking to the guy there because I didn’t believe him that my 5 year old could play this.  He convinced me, and I bought it.

He was right.

She’s not a huge fan, but she doesn’t like games in general.  The boys who are fans.  LOVE it!

Your goal is to earn money by either landing on squares that give you money or by landing on a workout square where you do math problems (more on that in a second).  Princess worked her way around the board going in a negative direction almost the entire time.  The boys went positive, negative, all over.


When you land on a workout square you grab a card based on your ability.  My kids are all white belts.  That’s first/second grade math.  It goes all the way up through early high school with Algebra 1 and 2.

Our first game took about an hour to play, but this was also my kids first exposure to negative numbers, and they grasped the concept fairly quickly and were making up math problems like aces.

It’s on sale right now for $50 (yes that is a lot, but I think it’s totally worth it).  Considering most of the strategy games we buy cost about the same, and I’m seeing years worth of math practice in this game.  It’s worth it to me.

I LOVE this game (and I’ll have a post up about some of the other games I bought later).  I wanted to talk about this one first because I’m going to have a giveaway coming up soon for their computer game.
Go, look at it, try the online version of it (there’s an online version of the board game), and then discover how cool it is.

PS: I was not paid for this, I did not get a free copy, I bought it and loved it, so that tells you how much I like it.

Review: Lead, For God’s Sake!

Soooooo……..  I kind of accidentally clicked on this book to review it.  I was trying to click on a new parenting book, but accidentally clicked on this one because I was being impatient and the screen wasn’t loading fast enough for me, so I started clicking…………


I say that because I’m not the intended audience of this book.  It’s written about a sports coach who is having a hard time teaching his high school basketball players how to work together as a team and how to lead their teammates.


I could have been good with that, but the first 70 pages of the book are devoted to his life spiraling out of control as everything is going badly.  That’s a hard section to get through.  Very hard.  It’s compellingly written, and you want to read the next chapter if you’re sitting there reading it, but if I set it down I wasn’t eager to start it up again.


That being said if you can survive the first third of the book, the last part start giving the advice you’ve come for.  How to incorporate a leadership style that isn’t just carrot and stick.  But, I really struggled to get to this point.  Really struggled.


To be honest, I still haven’t been able to finish it and I have several other books I want to read that I think I will be able to  apply to my life better.


Would I recommend this?  Conditionally yes.  I know people who would enjoy this and with the caveat of skimming the first part there’s some good stuff in the last part.  It’s just not for me.  I’m not the intended audience.


DISCLOSURE: I received this book free in exchange for my honest opinion.  I was not paid in any way for my review.

Review: All American History Jr.

Apparently I never actually posted this, which would explain some people’s confusion on my saying we’d switched curriculum, and everyone should know this.  Instead it’s sat in my draft folder for about 3 months now.

Some days.

So, I commented before that I had mixed feelings on our history for the year, and they grew more frustrated as I realized my kids were not really getting anything out of it and the amount of prep work in printing was frustrating me.

After I’d ordered what we were using I saw All American History Jr, and was intrigued, but I didn’t want to look into it too much in case I got curriculum envy, you know where everyone else’s stuff looks better than yours.

I finally gave in and ordered it, and I wish I’d done so sooner.  Since this one starts at the same place as the last one, I figured I’ll go back and start over and then we can actually learn it.

So, what do I think of this one?

I LOVE IT!  Here’s why:

1.  I’m not having to print off the textbook, and it’s a hardback, so it’s sturdy.
2.  The lesson plans are a lot more thorough.
3.  The “workbook” portion is a lot less printer intense.  You can see samples here.  The line spacing is perfect for my kids.  The amount of writing expected per day is working perfectly.  It’s got some amount of crafts.
4.  They give you a modified reading plan for younger kids.  Instead of reading the whole chapter you only read a smaller part, and it is broken down into great segments.
5.  They give you a day by day plan of what to do, and some days are so easy you can do two at once.
6.  There are hands on crafts, which you can guess we LOVE!
7.  I love the additional suggestion activities.  When we learned about Eric the Red, they suggested watching “Lyle the Kindly Viking,” and compare what you learned about Vikings with the movie.  SCORE!
8.  Fun coloring pages.
9.  There’s a lapbook part that you can either let the kids fill in, or for younger kids there is a pre-filled in version that you can cut and paste together.
10.  I don’t have to buy 3 workbooks for my 3 kids because this is a download

1.  This is only for me, but we were about halfway through the material covered in this book already, so to really get my use out of it, I had to start over.
2.  They recommend getting the teacher’s manual for the older kids, and I think you could really get away with not having that.
3.  Lots of paper and ink to print it all off.
4.  You need to keep track of little pieces of paper for a while because all of the pictures for a quarter are all together (I’ve solved this by paper clipping it to the textbook where we’re reading.).


The other mom and I have already decided we’re using All American History 2 next year, so obviously we LOVE it!  I only wish there were a lapbooking/notebooking thing like this for Mystery of History.

Review: Making Cents Money Game


I was recently contacted by Lakeshore Learning to review one of their instant download software games.  I am super excited about this opportunity because when I was a teacher I would  spend way too much money at their store in Dallas.  The good news for my wallet was by the time they opened one in our area I was no longer teaching, so I had less of an excuse to spend large amounts of money there.  I still do, just less excuse.

I have several of their game boards, and the software titles look to be very similar to their game boards: bright colorful, high interest, and very interactive.



I opted to download Making Cents Money Interactive game.   Here’s what I thought:


1.  It’s for 2-4 players.  Many games for kids are just for 2 players, so this means all of my kids can play.

2.  It’s very easy and fairly intuitive (with a few minor exceptions).

3.  It’s bright and colorful has some sound without it being too overwhelming.  The animation level is just right for my slightly ADD boys.


1.  It’s listed for 1-3 grade, but I’d say the skill level is more of late second grade.  It’s a little hard for my kids right now, but it makes for a great game to play together.

2.  When figuring out how much money you have the coins have to be dragged into the slot at the top of the bank.  It took a few tries to remember this (yes, it’s a small nit).

3.  It’d be nice if the question could be read out loud for early first grade, but as I said it’s really more of a second grade game.




Would I buy more games?  Yes,  the price is high enough that I’m not going to buy every game, but I really don’t need to be buying every game.  The price point is perfect for a teacher who is going to be using this year after year, but as a homeschooler who will have a more limited time frame I’ll have to be a bit more choosy.

But, right now they have a sale going on BUY ONE, GET ONE HALF OFF, enter coupon code 7439 through the end of February.

image003If the game you want isn’t on instant download check back because they’re constantly adding new ones (including Daily Interactive Math Station, see picture above, which wasn’t available for download 2 weeks ago, my original pick to review).



I currently have two more games I want to get, the Daily Interactive Math Station, and I”m eyeing the Place Value Mystery House Interactive Game as well.


I get to giveaway one free download, to enter simply go to Lakeshore Educational Software and choose which one you want (make sure it is available as instant download).  Leave a comment with your choice and your email address.


1.  Follow my blog through GFC, subscribe, or email (1 entry for each, please comment for each one).

2.  Like me on FB and leave a comment.

3.  Like Lakeshore Learning on FB and leave a comment.

4.  Scan their website and find something else you’d like to get from their store and leave a comment.  I still use on a weekly basis the magnifying glass I got there 10 years ago.



DISCLOSURE: I received a free copy of the game in exchange for my honest review.  I received no other compensation, but am likely to go out and buy about 3 more games because I like this one so much.  Sigh, my poor wallet.

Science Sunday: review Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day lap book

Whew, that was a mouthful, but I thought I’d show you what we’ve been using with our science pick for the year.

This is a printable lapbook created by “A Journey Through Learning” on Currclick.  I got it during one of their periodic 50% sales, at some point I should join their affiliate program because I talk about them frequently enough.
There is also a black and white version, but I liked the appeal of color, and if I want I can print it in black and white.
Besides my kids are very back and forth on coloring.
What has been working for me is printing off a chapter’s worth of materials at a time.  The picture here is showing Princess holding her drawing of what she thinks a mosasaurus looks like.  Apparently they’re pink.
Very pink.
She thinks a lot of stuff is pink.  But, it’s been an interesting window into their world having them tell me what they got from the readings for the day.  Some days it’s been insightful, others it’s “They eat fish, Mommy.”  Thanks kid, anything else?
All in all I really enjoy this.  I especially enjoy that if we go back to this textbook I can just print off the material again and they can fill it out again.
Here’s a couple of fun things ya’ll did this week:

Journey to Josie shared about their leaf field trip and I LOVE how they spent time picking up trash first.

Fantastic Five shared how they tested for starches in their food using iodine.

Do you have anything you’ve found super helpful like this?  Something that went with what you’ve been using and made it so much easier?

FYI: I changed how long the linky was open, I thought the people who linked up later in the week weren’t getting as much traffic as other people, so I decided to close it earlier so the people linking later in the week can instead be one of the first ones on Sunday morning.  Oh, and this forces me to visit people earlier……….

Science Sunday:

Science Sunday

Way back when we were studying Thomas Edison I got Snap Circuits Jr. to do with the whole group, but one of the other moms convinced me not to because of the large numbers of kids involved at the time.  So, I’ve been saving it for the perfect “Mom, I’m bored….” activity.  Aside from my standard response of “Go clean _________”, that answer they don’t like so much.



Well, earlier this week Jeff took Batman to work with him, leaving me with Superman and Princess.  I was at a bit of a loss what to do with 2 of the 3 kids, I knew if I did any art projects Batman would be sad he missed it, and I didn’t want to do any lesson from our curriculum because then Batman would be missing out on the work……  You get the idea.



I got the kit out and we got to work trying out different experiments with it.  I have to say I highly recommend this as a way to introduce early engineering and electricity, you can’t really hurt yourself or seriously cause any problems because of the design.


The projects are straight forward (or at least the first few), Superman and Princess were able to do them with some help, and after completing the first project once were able to repeat it without much help from me.


I foresee this being something we fiddle around with from time to time as we delve into it more.  This will also be great for answering their many questions about electricity and such stuff…….


Cool posts linked up last week:

Cloud in a bottle from All Things Beautiful.

Solids and Liquids using melted crayons from Learning in Mayapur.

Pine Cone Hygometer from Tiger Chronicles.


How about you guys?  This is probably the most open-ended science kit I’ve ever seen.  It has about 100 projects you can do in this one kit, and there is a lot of opportunity for hands on learning.  Have you found any kits like this one?  There’s several others in the series that I can see eventually buying, in particular the one for making cars.

Review: made to play!


I’ve said this before, and I’ll probably keep saying it, but I love the books I’ve been getting from Shambala publishing.  Each of them has been a hit with me, but they also seem tailor made to the way I want to live and be a parent.


Reading this book I now understand how people feel reading craft books that don’t sew.


He has several woodworking projects in here that I would LOVE to do, but I don’t know how to carve wood.  But now I want to learn.  I’ll add that to my rather long list of things I want to learn to do which also includes crocheting and a few random paper projects.



There are several different projects in here that I’m itching to try out, none of them really require patterns, but there are some included for making them.


Before anyone starts thinking that significant craft skill is required, I think only the woodworking ones require that, and there’s several other projects in there.


Projects on my new to-do list, color coded according to type:

kid project, sewing, craft supplies needed, recycling

1.  Make a paper animal zoo

2.  Make a play blanket (can be used for the zoo or any other playscape), this is the simplest play blanket I’ve seen with lots of ability to adapt it to your new play ideas.

3.  Dollhouse projects

4.  doll sleeping bag and wooden doll

5.  slotted building discs (so VERY cool)

6. modular headband and leg bangs

7.  explorer utility belt and cape


All in all, I really enjoyed this book and I love the variety of crafts in it.  Most craft books I’ve tended to pick up have been one particular type of craft (cough sewing cough cough).  Many thanks to Shambala press for this book.


Anyone have a craft book they really enjoyed?  What about kid craft books?  Any favorites there?


Legal Mumbo Jumbo: I wrote this review in exchange for a copy of the book, they did not give me anything else but a copy of the book.  The opinions as badly or as goodly written as they are, are my own.

Review and Giveaway: Momsense

When MOPS international asked me about reviewing their latest book I leaped at the chance.  I have a couple of their books and have loved each of them.  Their chapters tend to be short and to the point and always have something I can relate to in it.


So, what is this newest book about?  It’s about developing your Momsense and how to best do that.


The first section is about defining and looking at where you came from, what was your Mom’s parenting style like, and what are the areas you want to improve.  At the end of each chapter there are questions for you to answer and look at for how you can improve your mothering.


003The second section takes some of the things every book about mothering agrees you need, and gives some practical advice and also some humorous or touching stories about other moms.  And, they’re not all stay at home, or the perfect family moms.  Some of the moms work full time, some of them are the accidental mother who now loves being a mom, others are single, some are the mom who has 5 kids, another is the mom who has one little girl who she loves with a passion.


For me the best part of the book is reading the testimonial of the other moms on what they did.  Jeff at one point had to ask what I was reading as I was chortling over the chapter on joy.  I won’t spoil the story for you, but if you’ve been reading the blog long enough you know I would get a big kick out of a child’s accidental trouble over bringing the wrong kind of “cool looking box” to school.  I then had to read the story to Jeff, and talk for a long time with him about it.



I would encourage any of you moms out there, and I know that’s a significant portion of my readership to pick up a copy of this book.  It’s a nice easy read, and it’s tempting to blaze through it, but I’d recommend you just take a chapter a day and actually read it slowly and answer the questions, which I’m going to be going back and doing soon.


I’d also encourage you to find a local MOPS group to join if you have a pre-schooler.  I was in for two years as the Creative Activites director, and I really enjoyed the group.  My group met at night and was over half working moms, which made for a fun mix.  I learned so much from the speakers and the topics we covered, nutrition, parenting styles, personalities, solving conflicts, on and on and on.


So, that’s my two plugs.  Now for the giveaway:



1.  You must be over 18 and leave me a way to contact you, international is okay since I’m doing the shipping and I’m feeling generous.

2.  How to enter:


REQUIRED:  Tell me your definition of Momsense.  What is it and how do you use it?


BONUS:  You can get up to 3 bonus entries:

1.  Go to the MOPS international website and find the closest group to you and when does it meet.

2.  If you’re a follower that’s another entry.

3.  And ummmm….  I’m feeling a lack of creativity right now, so just add another comment for the third bonus entry.

Giveaway ends on November 4th, a week from today.



I’m gonna link this over to my favorite resource of the week, because I really enjoy a good parenting book, and that helps me in my homeschooling.

Favorite Resource This Week

Science Sunday: My First Magnet Kit

I got this a few years ago when I had a coupon to a children’s museum.  It’s a neat little kit, and it’s been sitting in my closet waiting for the best time for it.

Well that time came when I needed magnets for digging up the Hunley.

And the kids loved it, and played with it for an hour afterwards.  I did have to split up the set into 3 sets and rotate the kids around the different ones to cut down on arguments.  It was insane on that matter, but otherwise a well spent hour.
This time was mostly free form experimentation, what could I do with them, what couldn’t I do type of thing.  Eventually we’ll actually get to the experiments in the book.  But, for then it was a great type of playing around.

So, I wrote this post a few months ago, and now I’m finally getting to post it.  I’m feeling kinda lazy and rather tired after this past week.  It’s amazing how much you take for granted comfortable beds and the ability to send your kids to their room or outside for a few minutes of quiet.  I’m looking forward to getting home and sleeping in my own bed.