Friday, April 17, 2015

Pierre the French Bulldog Recycles Book Review

I received the book, Pierre the French Bulldog Recycles, from Skyhorse Publishing free to facilitate this review. Affiliate links may be in this posting. Thanks for supporting my blog.

Pierre the French Bulldog Recycles is an adorable hardcover book by Kate Louise and illustrated by Bethany Straker that helps us teach recycling to our children in a fun way. The story is about a French Bulldog named Pierre that loves to dig holes and bury his treasures in the yard. When he digs his old stuff up he places them in the trash and then realizes that two of the items could have been recycled, but the trash truck comes and takes the trash away to the dump. Pierre decides to chase after the truck to get the items back. But can he get to the landfill in time?


Our carload of recycling and the book, Pierre the French Bulldog Recycles.

As a parent I try to instill in my children good habits and one of them is to be less wasteful by recycling. Our family recycles as much as we can. Once we get a car load full we go and drop it off. Mixed paper, cardboard, glass, #1 & #2 plastics, tin & aluminum, and motor oil & antifreeze all get recycled at our local drop-off recycling site.

My girls and I love Pierre the French Bulldog Recycles. Its illustrations are colorful and fun. I made a game out of the pictures for them to find Pierre in each turn of the page. You can spot him in his black and white striped shirt. I also had them point to things in the dump that could have been recycled, reused, or repurposed. It was a great teaching tool. Teela also enjoyed reading it to Zari and showing her the pictures again. This is a wonderful book for Earth Day!

BUY IT


DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: Thanks to Skyhorse Publishing for sending me this book for free to review. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any other compensation for posting this review. This post contains affiliate links which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and make a purchase. Thank you for supporting my blog!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Star Toaster Orphs of the Woodlands Review


My children and I had the privilege of testing out Orphs of the Woodlands for Star Toaster free for this review to use in conjunction with my own homeschool curriculum. This is a Schoolhouse Review Crew Review. All opinions expressed are my own or those of my family.

The Orphs of the Woodlands is a fun online adventure game for 4th through 7th graders with over 300 lessons. Within this game is an interactive online book called The Treasure of HighTower. This game teaches lessons in math, science, reading, language, grammar, vocabulary, character values, thinking skills, life skills, the arts, etc. There are fun links, popups, recipes, rollovers, memory games, videos, flash cards, and more throughout the online education to further the learning in an interactive way. After each chapter there is a review to help remember skills learned. Then jobs can be completed as fun tasks to get "paid" rewards of gold stars to help orphaned woodland creatures (Orphs of the Woodlands).

I really wanted my boys to enjoy this game because it sounded fun to me and I thought they might learn a lot of new things from it. I should have known that it would be too easy for them though because both my boys are advanced for their grade and age. Because of that they didn't feel challenged enough to keep playing after a few lessons. I tried it out first with my 8th grader, but since he was older than the age group for this he got bored with the game fairly easily. My 7th grader, Jaedan, was next to try the game out. Jaedan is a very fast reader and loves reading. He seemed like he was enjoying the game once he got started, but burnt out fast like his older brother further into the game. I think it had something to do with the fact that Jaedan doesn't read a lot of books online. We do not own a tablet yet, so he really hasn't had much chance to do so. He has told me though, that he likes reading physical books better.

It became very clear to me early out that I was going to have to test this with another child. My daughter Teela had been pleading with me to play the game ever since she saw her brothers play. So because I had no other willing testers, I helped her along with the game.

The Treasure of HighTower has a total of 15 chapters. This is the first book in the series and later on there are going to be other books available. Each chapter has roughly 20-30ish pages to read. While reading there is a convenient page counter to count down the number of pages there are left in the chapter you are in until you get to Ivythwaite. At Ivythwaite your student can pick and accomplish tasks in the Help Wanted section that solidify what they have learned in the chapter so they can earn gold stars from the Star Toaster that creates them. After earning these they can help the Orphs build a place to live out of harms way from the evil villains, the Night Creatures.

Orph Settlement your student can help build and maintain to eventually save as many Orphs as possible.

Teela is in 1st grade so this game was of course above her level. I sat down with her and helped her through it each chance we got. I am glad I got the chance to sit through it with her because I came to understand the game better myself. When she first logged on the game asked her to fill out a Spy Application which she got to pick out her spy alias or character name. She told me that she wanted to be female pony in the story, but they only had one choice for the character, male (gender) and gray squirrel (critter) so she picked a boy name for the alias. She was able to pick a favorite color which she picked purple (pink was not an option) from a list of colors and was told to check off qualifications that the character had. She checked off all of them. Then it asked are you willing to learn, and she picked yes, then hit apply.

Vocabulary rollovers that popup

Recipe for Nutty Nut Bread

The chapters of the online book are a bit long winded, but do set the stage for the game. The first chapter in The Treasure of HighTower is called Boar's Head and it tells the story of the gray squirrel, his home, how he became a spy, and why he started helping other Orphs. Teela did very well reading it and only needed help with a few of the larger words which I had her sound out before helping her with them. Since the first chapter was 27 pages it took a while to get through especially when she wanted to mouse over all the rollovers that popped up vocabulary definitions and quotes, as well. We also could click audio sounds to listen to and spy letters to open and read along the way. Above the reading there is a timeline that she could click and go backwards in the story if needed. It also showed where she was in the book chapter-wise and all the chapter titles how they where laid out. The subsequent chapters introduce you to more of the story, characters, and skills. They also include more of the popups, rollovers, videos, and links to enhance the learning.

Timeline to show you where you are.

At the end of the first chapter we came to Ivythwaite and the Help Wanted page in which Teela did tasks, learned skills, and earned gold stars. The only tasks to complete for the first chapter was answering 11 multiple choice questions about vocabulary she learned in the chapter. Each task/question had training on the subject before the she could answer so she knew the material covered even if she hadn't moused over everything in the chapter previously. Subjects covered in the chapters following include: math, science, language, vocabulary, thinking skills, life skills and the arts. There is a lot of ground covered with each subject. Teela loved the life skills section the best because of the recipes you could actually make that went along with the story. We saved a number of them to try later. After each question she answered correct she would get a certain amount of goldstars to put towards helping the Orphs later on.

Jaedan looking at vocabulary flashcards in the lesson review.

Help Wanted job section

In the Orph Care section Teela could purchase food, water, clothing, medicine, protection and energy with your gold stars. These resources help sustain more Orphs. Teela could also purchase buildings and crops for the Orph settlement. If she placed them well the settlement would thrive.

As a parent, I could log into the parent section with my own password and check Teela's progress and status. I was also emailed a progress report after each chapter when tasks were completed so I knew how she was doing in each section. This tells me the number of lessons completed correctly, how many pages read, and what can be expected in chapters following.

I feel that even though my boys didn't warm up to Orphs of the Woodlands that it is still a wonderful supplement to our homeschool. I think that if I had a 4th or 5th grader then they would enjoy this a whole lot better. Teela, although only in first grade, loved the story and learning along the way. I kind of wish this game was geared to kids in the younger set. If your child loves reading and doesn't mind spending time in front of a tablet or computer to do so then this game might be a great fit. I think it would also be great for a summer reading program.


TRY IT
Star Toaster is offering a FREE TRIAL for a limited time. Get access to the first 100 pages, over 50 lessons/games for FREE!

BUY IT
A 60-day subscription of Orphs of the Woodlands for up to 3 children is regularly $19.99. You can also purchase 30 day extensions for $6.99.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Memoria Press First Start Reading Review

I had the privilege of testing out First Start Reading for Memoria Press free for this review to use in conjunction with my own homeschool curriculum. This is a Schoolhouse Review Crew Review. All opinions expressed are my own or those of my family.

My daughter, Zari, is starting to learn to read simple words and print letters. She is preschool age and is 4 years old right now. We have already been working with her on how to hold a pencil correctly and trace letters. I love the First Start Reading from Memoria Press! It is a perfect first start classical curriculum for having your child start learning phonics, reading, and printing. Even though these books are actually for Kindergarten age I felt that Zari was ready to learn the Memoria Press First Start Reading lessons.

The package I received included the Teacher Book and Books A-D. The Teacher Book is a guide for the student books A-D. It will guide you through the four student books while providing assessments and helpful teaching tips along the way. In the introduction of the teacher manual it has an Alphabet chart in the front which shows the proper way to print the letters A-Z in both uppercase and lowercase. Then it goes on to include a phonics syllabi for books A, B, C and D, a phonics overview, phonics approach, getting started, general teaching guidelines, proper pencil grip and letter formation, printing lessons, and games. The teacher guide covers lesson plans for all 4 student books. It is very easy to follow the plans in the teacher guide and it gives you prompts to use with your child in case you can't think of any on your own. It also has an appendix at the end that includes posters to scan and print out to use with your lessons.

The books teach a more traditional and classical vowel-consonant approach combined with word families to teaching phonics instead of the ladder approach of consonant-vowel blending. It also lays down a great foundation for the essential short vowel mastery of phonics. First Start Reading is a great first start phonics program that covers consonants, short and long vowels, 45 common words and manuscript printing. Each page in books A-D has artist-drawn coloring pictures and drawing pages for every letter.

Memoria Press First Start Reading Book A Lesson 1

We started Zari with the First Start Reading Book A workbook. We had her work at her own pace, about 1-2 lessons per day that we did it. This workbook has a total of 25 lessons with work on letters/sounds, CVC/common words, reading skills, and short sentences which eventually form phonetic stories. The book starts out teaching M and A in both uppercase and lowercase. The first and second lesson has the black and white picture of a man and a moon to color to go along with the first lesson of M and an apple and ax to go along with the lesson second lesson of A. Besides pictures to color each lesson has a spot to draw something that starts with the letter learned. For example, Zari drew a moon and mommy in one and an alligator in the second box. By lesson 3 it goes into the words "I am" in which my daughter drew herself. When taught words Zari learns to blend the sounds of the letters together. We would also take this one step further with Zari and try to find things around the house that started with the letter. This book teaches 10 letters (M, A, S, N, R, F, T, H, C, P), one digraph (th), 36 words with these letters, sounds of s and i, and one final consonant blend (st).  By the end of the book the student will also learn reading skills such as period and exclamation point placement, articles a and an, how sentences always begin with a capital letter, the use of 's, plural nouns, and inflected verb endings. The last three ending lessons are 3 phonetic stories. There is a review and assessments at the end also with word mastery and dictation practice pages. By the end of Book A Zari was getting a lot better at printing, letter association, sound-symbol association, and reading common sight words in short sentences. I was very pleased with her progress.

A is for Apple, Ax, and Alligator

Each consecutive book in the First Start Reading series builds upon the learning received in the ones previous. First Start Reading Book B has a total of 26 lessons with work on letters/sounds, CVC/common words, reading skills (all dictation with one other lesson on the question mark), and phonetic stories. This book teaches 6 letters (I, G, L, O, B, D), 116 words with these letters and the ones learned in Book A, and 13 stories to read with the words learned. First Start Reading Book C has a total of 25 lessons with work on letters/sounds, CVC/common words, reading skills (primarily dictation, quotation marks, and paragraphs), and phonetic stories. This book teaches 10 letters (E, X, K, J, U, V, W, Y, Z, Q), 132 words with these letters and the ones learned in Book A and B, and 7 stories to read with the words learned. First Start Reading Book D has a total of 12 lessons with work on letters/sounds, CVC/common words, and phonetic stories. This book teaches long vowel sounds, 4 digraphs (sh, th, ch, wh), final consonant blends (ft, pt, xt, lf, lp, lt, lk, nd, nt, mp), s-blends, r-blends, l-blends, 12 words with these letters and the ones learned in Book A-C, and 6 stories to read with the words learned.

BUY IT
The entire set of the Memoria Press First Start Reading Teacher's Manual and 4 Student Books can be purchased for $42.95. If you want the Student Set of Books A-D only, you can purchase them just for $28.00. If you would like to purchase individual items you can at $14.95 for the Teacher's Manual and each student book for $7.00.

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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Organic India Moringa Leaf Powder and Capsules Review

Organic India Moringa, capsules, and Tulsi Products.
I received these products for free from Organic India and Moms Meet to facilitate this review.

Moringa Leaf Powder - Moringa (Moringa oleifera) is a nutrient-dense complex whole super food. The leaves of the Moringa plant have been eaten for thousands of years. They are super high in antioxidants, even more than Resveratrol and green tea. They are also abundant in B vitamins and complex amino acids (the building blocks of protein). Moringa boosts overall energy levels, stamina, and vitality. It is also alkalizing. The leaves are powdered to make it easy to add to different foods and drinks to get the recommended 6-10 servings of vegetables per day. As a dietary supplement, mix 1/2 teaspoon with water, juice, tea, or blend into a smoothie. There are 225 servings per 8 oz container. I also received recipes to add it to mayonnaise as a spread or dip, salad dressing, and aioli. There are other ways to get this superfood into your diet too. Sprinkle it on soups, over salads, or make your own unique recipe. I tried it out and it mixes well with a spoon and tastes like tea. I can see this used for many recipes. I am going to try it on pasta. It is great for hiding nutrients in foods for picky eaters and kids to get a serving of vegetables. I can't wait to experiment more with it. This product is: organic, gluten free, vegan and vegetarian, GMO free, Kosher and Halal certified.

Moringa capsules - These capsules are easier to take if you do not care for the taste of the powder. They have the same benefits as the Moringa Leaf Powder. This is complete essential nutrition that contains over 90 nutrients, 46 antioxidants and abundant minerals. 90 vegetable cellulose caps per bottle. Suggested use: 4 capsules with food and water once a day. This product is: organic, gluten free, vegan and vegetarian, GMO free, Kosher and Halal certified.

Joy! capsules - This has the Bacopa/Brahmi leaves (Bacopa monnieri), aerial parts of the Gotu Kola  (Centella asiatica), whole herb of the Shankpushpi (Convolvulus pluricaulis) and Ashwagandha root (Withania somnifera). These herbs together uplift mood, boosts energy and vitality, and reduces emotional tension and stress so you can experience your true natural state of peace and happiness. I felt less stressed and fatigued when taking this. 90 vegetable cellulose caps per bottle. Suggested use: 1 capsule once a day with food and water. This product is: organic, gluten free, vegan and vegetarian, GMO free, Kosher and Halal certified.

Turmeric Formula capsules - Turmeric is very orange in color. The plant is in the ginger family. The turmeric powder spice comes from the dried rhizome (Curcuma longa) (often called a root) of the turmeric plant. I have used turmeric powder in the past for many recipes in my home including Fire Cider. It is also one of the ingredients that makes up the spice curry, which I also love. With the capsules you have the option of breaking open the capsule and adding it to your food or taking just the capsule. I love cooking with turmeric and it has many health bonuses that are associated with ingesting it. It is great for a number of things including stomach problems, digestion, cough, bronchitis, and colds. It is an anti-inflammatory, anti-infection, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-oxidant, and adaptogen - lessens stress and helps boost immunity. It nourishes & cleanses the blood and lymph system, and promotes healthy inflammation and immune response. It also supports cellular health in the liver, skin, lungs, sinuses, joints, and digestive system. Since this is a formula it also has Turmeric Extract which is 95% curcumimoids and Ginger rhizome (Zingiber officinale). 90 vegetable cellulose capsules per bottle. Suggested use: 1 capsule 2 times a day with food and water. This product is: organic, gluten free, vegan and vegetarian, GMO free, Kosher and Halal certified.

Bonus Items:

Tulsi also known as Holy Basil is an herb prized in India for its healing power. Organic India's Tulsi Teas include three varieties of Tulsi leaves: Rama, Vana, and Krishna. Each variety has a slightly different look, taste and smell and when combined, create a perfectly balanced herbal infusion with an array of health benefits. This tea is GMO and gluten free. This tea is very good hot or cold. Tulsi is an adaptogen, which means it lessens stress and helps boost immunity. It energizes, soothes, relaxes, builds stamina, aids digestion, balances metabolism, balance energy levels, and uplifts mood. It is also abundant in antioxidants and is anti aging. This tea is USDA certified organic and Kosher and Halal certified. Can also be purchased in lots of different flavors in boxed, bulk, and loose leaf variety. The boxed variety is what I got to enjoy. It has 18 individually wrapped tea bags per box for freshness that can be easily taken with you to enjoy.

Tulsi Original Herbal Tea - I like the original a lot. It has a nice herbal flavor. This tea is caffeine free, but energizes me throughout my day without the caffeine withdrawal!

Tulsi Green Tea - This tea has 18 mg of caffeine per serving because of the green tea that is added. A 8 oz cup of coffee is around 90-400 mg depending upon how and where it's brewed, so this tea is considerably less. Green tea is antioxidant rich. Antioxidants help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. If you love green tea, you will love this tea and it's added benefits!

Tulsi Moringa Tea - Moringa is a highly nutritional complex whole food. It is super high in antioxidants even more than Resveratrol and green tea. It is abundant in B vitamins and complex amino acids (the building blocks of protein). This is delicious tea that helps me feel energized, nourished, and happy even though it is caffeine free!

Tulsi Cinnamon Rose Tea - This caffeine free tea is my favorite out of all the Tulsi flavors I have tried so far. I love the combination of the Cinnamon (bark), Cassia (bark), Peppermint (leaf), Stevia (leaf), Cardamom (pod), Chamomile (flower) and the Rose Petals (flower). This floral, minty and spicy tea is so yummy! I love it hot with organic raw honey!

Organic India Shopping Bag - Classic tote for taking to the grocery store and being eco-friendly because it is reusable and washable. Lightweight and durable.

Organic India Planetary Design Tumbler Mug - This reusable tumbler mug encourages environmental responsibility. Because of the double-walled vacuum-insulated, 18/8 restaurant grade stainless steel it will keep your beverage hot or cold for hours. 100% BPA free with push on spill resistant butterfly-closure lid. It has the Herbal University logo printed on one side and Organic India logo printed on the other.

Organic India has other teas, herbal supplements, herbs, herbal coffee, gifts, and other wellness products. You can check out the company for yourself: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube.

BUY IT
Save 20% on Organic India products by using the code kiwi20. This code is for one-time use only. Start shopping now. One 8 oz. canister of Moringa Leaf Powder retails for $22.99, and 90 capsules of Moringa retails for $19.99.

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: I received these products for free from the sponsor of Moms Meet program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer to facilitate my review. As a Moms Meet Blogger, I agreed to use these products and post my opinion on my blog, whic is posted above. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of this product. I did not receive any other compensation for doing this review.

The medical information provided on this blog is, at best, of a general nature and cannot substitute for the advice of a medical professional (for instance, a qualified doctor/physician, nurse, pharmacist/chemist, and so on). I am not a medical professional, just a mom with a opinion. Even if a statement made about the natural remedy is accurate, it may not apply to you or your symptoms. I am only suggesting that you should try it for yourself and see if helps you. People are all different and outcomes could vary drastically.