Monday, October 14, 2019

Brain Blox Fun Family Chess Review


My family had the privilege of trying Fun Family Chess from Brain Blox for this review to use in conjunction with our own games at home. This is a Homeschool Review Crew Review. All opinions expressed are my own or those of my family.

Brain Blox is a family-owned company that makes educational games and toys that can be enjoyed by the whole family. They believe that kids should be free to play, explore, and express themselves in a way true to who they are inside. They want to empower families to have more meaningful time and relations with one another, without electronics devices...to engage more with the real world together.

Fun Family Chess is set up the same as traditional chess. Board has icons where you place the pieces other than pawns.

Fun Family Chess is a 2 player chess game with double the fun because there are two ways to play, Fun Family Chess and traditional chess. The game of Fun Family Chess is said to have been invented by a dog named Chesster. The Fun Family Chess game uses a chess cube or die that has all the symbols of the pieces color coded to match the reference card. The light side goes first and rolls the chess cube. Then you match the colored symbol to the reference card. If you roll a star you can move any piece that can move. You must roll a star to move the King because there isn't a King symbol on the cube. If you cannot move the piece indicated on the chess cube how it is stated on the reference card you get to roll again! You can capture pieces by landing on top of your opponent's piece. Once you capture it you can take that piece off the board. You win by capturing the other player's king instead of trapping it in a position it can't escape (checkmate in traditional standard chess).

How to Play Fun Family Chess:


Go here to watch more videos on Fun Family Chess!

5 ways traditional standard chess is different:
  • no chess cube: instead choose any piece you can move legally.
  • winning is different: you win by checkmate.
  • pawn superpower: if a pawn reaches the other side of the board safely it can change into another piece (except a pawn or King)
  • en passant: means your pawn gets another superpower...a special capture that is only used in specific situations. You can read more about this in the Full Color Chess Book.
  • castling: in some situations, the Rook and King can do this special swap-move-thing. You can read more about this in the Full Color Chess Book.

Brain Blox Fun Family Chess pieces store inside the foldable wooden case that doubles as the board.

Includes:
  • Folding Wooden Chess Board with Velvet Lining and Chess Icons on the Board for Easy Set up.
  • 32 Wooden Chess Pieces with Velvet Bottoms in a Soft Pouch.
  • Full Color Chess Book, teaches both Fun Family Chess and Standard Chess.
  • 2 Color Coded Reference Cards, shows how each piece moves.
  • Chess Cube/Die, when playing Fun Family Chess, simply roll the die to see which piece to move.
  • Plus...Video Tutorials and 2 Months Gold Membership with ChessKid!

Zari and Teela playing Fun Family Chess.

How We Used This and Our Thoughts:

Chess improves problem solving, concentration, memory, strategic thinking, planning, foresight and intelligence. Sometimes though it can be a bit overwhelming to learn because of all the moves and plays you need to remember. My oldest son loves chess, but he can be a bit intimidating to my daughters who are younger because he is good at playing because of practice. The Brain Blox Fun Family Chess makes it easy to learn how to play chess and it has the piece icons right on the board to help you with setup and reference cards to know how each piece moves. You can start with the Fun Family Chess game and move up to traditional chess once you have learned the basic moves the pieces make.

I also love that the Fun Family Chess set is beautifully made. The pieces and the board are made of wood. The board folds up and is its own case for the pieces, cards, die, and booklet. It latches shut so nothing will fall out. The inside is velvet lined so that the pieces will be somewhat padded and their are two velvet pouches for all the light and dark pieces to go into. The pouches help you not loose the pieces and keep them all together. The pieces have felt on the bottoms of them too so they won't scratch the surface of the board as you play.

My daughters, Teela and Zari, who are 11 and almost 9 loved playing with this chess set. They thought it was a lot more fun to play the Fun Family Chess game with the chess cube because the cube told you which piece to play if you could play it and if not you could roll again until you could play a piece. My girls also loved that the cube had a star symbol on it which meant they could pick what ever piece they wanted. The Fun Family Chess game definitely gave a new perspective to the game of chess. They also loved that the moves of each piece was laid out for them on a full color reference card so they could see the piece and how it moved on the board. Even my youngest daughter said it wasn't as complicated because of the way it was presented. Both of my girls said that this chess set, even when playing traditional chess, was easier to both set up and play.

I am very glad we got to review the Brain Blox Fun Family Chess because it is a great way to learn to play chess or help someone like me who is very rusty at chess because I haven't played in a while. I recommend it very highly, especially as a chess for kids!

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Also, on the Brain Blox website there are some awesome free resources. We love the free printables for the Conscious Kids Journal! Don't miss those.

BUY IT
You can purchase the Brain Blox Fun Family Chess from Amazon.



Read other homeschool curriculum reviews for Brain Blox Fun Family Chess...
Fun Family Chess {Brain Blox Reviews}

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Thursday, September 19, 2019

TV Store Online Halloween Costume Review and Giveaway!


Halloween is coming soon and if you celebrate, you probably have started looking for the best costumes for your family to wear. TV Store Online is a great online store that has quality licensed merchandise from TV, movies, comic books, and 80's themes. There is stuff from Disney, Hasbro, Nintendo, Marvel, Harry Potter, Dr. Who, Star Wars, Star Trek, etc. You can find a number of accessories, clothing, footwear, pajamas, robes, costumes, shirts, leggings, etc. You can find so many great costumes at TV Store Online for this October 31st.

MLP FIM Twilight Sparkle Hoodie. Super Cute!

If you've been reading my blog for a while you know that I am a Brony, a fan of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic that is outside the target demographic of little girls. Practically my whole family are into the animated TV series, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic or MLP FIM for short. We go to Seattle Washington every year to participate in Everfree Northwest, the MLP convention out there. Sometimes we even cosplay characters from the show. I have been wanting to get a Twilight Sparkle Hoodie ever since the first convention because Twilight Sparkle is my second favorite of the mane six ponies. I already have the Fluttershy hoodie that is similar to this one.

MLP FIM Twilight Sparkle Hoodie front.

For this review I picked out a Twilight Sparkle Face Lilac Costume Hoodie with Mane & Horn in Junior Women's S to review. The small fit me just fine. This hoodie comes in XS-2X in junior sizes. I love that this hoodie is super soft inside and has pockets to keep my hands warm. It is lilac which matches Twilight's actual color and has Twilight's cutie mark on one of the lower sides. The hooded sweatshirt is made from 80% Cotton and 20% Polyester. The draw string hood has adorable ears, a lilac horn, and a pink and dark purple mane that comes down the back. I was a little disappointed that this hoodie is of the old version of Twilight Sparkle, not the princess version... so it doesn't have wings. The zipper pull has the symbol from Twilight's cutie mark and her cute face on the chest. I cannot wait to wear this for Halloween and to Everfree NW next year!

MLP FIM Twilight Sparkle Hoodie back, no wings.

I recommend TV Store Online for all your fan apparel needs and costumes for Halloween for the entire family. You can even all match or be unique...it is all up to you. They have so many different items to choose from there is bound to be something that would be perfect for gifting.

MLP FIM Twilight Sparkle Hoodie has pockets and a cutie mark.

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Prize: A costume of your choice from TV Store Online
Who Can Enter: 18+, USA and Canada Only

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DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: I received this product for free to facilitate this 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 doing this review. 

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Just in Case You Ever Wonder by Max Lucado Book Review and Giveaway #JustInCaseYouEverWonder


I received this book free to facilitate this review. Affiliate links may be in this posting. Thanks for supporting my blog.

Just in Case You Ever Wonder is a children's hardcover book written by bestselling author Max Lucado. This is a re-release of a classic this time with illustrations by Eve Tharlet. With a wonderful story and lovely illustrations this book shows little ones that they are special, made by God, and brought to earth to live with a loving family that will be there for them always.

Zari enjoying the Just in Case You Ever Wonder by Max Lucado book.

What We Thought:
I recommend this book for preschoolers through second graders most of all. My youngest daughter, Zari, who is in third grade loves this book! This book is a bit under her reading level, but she still loves it because of the meaning of the words. She also loves looking at the adorable illustrations as well. In this version of the book it has two bears instead of people. I love that this book teaches that the parent and Heavenly Father will always be there for their child in times of need and comfort.

BUY IT
Buy the Just in Case You Ever Wonder book on Amazon.



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Prize: Just in Case You Ever Wonder Book
Host: HarperCollins Christian Publishing and FrontGate Media.
Who Can Enter: Open to US Residents 18 years or older.
Selection Process: 5 winners will be selected on 9/20/2019 and notified by email.
Where to Enter: Go to this link https://www.blessedfreebies.com/just-in-case-you-ever-wonder-giveaway.html and fill out the form to enter.

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: I received this product for free to facilitate this 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 doing this review.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Zeezok Publishing Music Appreciation Book 2: for the Middle Grades Collection Review


My family had the privilege of trying the Zeezok Publishing Music Appreciation Book 2: for the Middle Grades Collection for this review to use in conjunction with our own curriculum. This is a Homeschool Review Crew Review. All opinions expressed are my own or those of my family.

Zeezok Publishing is a Christian provider of enriching educational materials for homeschoolers. They strive to supply the best and most affordable homeschooling textbooks and supplementary materials that will compliment your educational needs. Zeezok Publishing is continuing to expand its curriculum, books, and supplementary materials to help the homeschooling family have the opportunity to give the finest possible education to their children.

Zeezok Publishing Music Appreciation Book 2: for the Middle Grades Collection, minus Nutcracker Ballet book.

Music Appreciation Book 2: for the Middle Grades is more than just teaching music theory or music appreciation to your student. This collection is from the Great Musicians Series. The collection includes a student activity book and nine composer biographies. This is geared for grades 5th-8th and a variety of learners including: auditory, kinesthetic, visual, etc. It also meets all national standards for music appreciation.


What is included in detail:
  • Student Book: This soft cover book by Elisabeth Tanner and Judy Wilcox starts off with a Table of Contents, Introduction, Scope & Sequence, and Music List. Then it has each of the seven composers listed, each with 4 weeks of hands-on activities that include:  American and world history, grammar, geography, music studies, concert etiquette, timelines, character trait studies, and so much more. The activity book ends in Endnotes, a bibliography for each section. This is a great companion to the biographies and they suggest getting one of these for each student being taught. Comes with Music Appreciation for the Middle Grades App–QR codes and their app website that provides easy access to all the songs from the biographies, interactive quizzes, and a variety of additional website links to enhance the learning experience. MSRP $59.99
  • 9 Composer Biographies: Nine different biography books for seven composers studied. Included is: Frederic Chopin, Robert Schumann, Richard Wagner, Stephen Foster, Brahms, Peter Tchaikovsky, and Edward MacDowell. These biographies describe the childhood and adult life of each of these composers. These are true and accurate with every important event mentioned. These also have written music and lovely pictures throughout.

Music Appreciation: Book 2 Collection includes one Student Book and the following nine composer biographies: 
  • Frederic Chopin, Early Years
  • Frederic Chopin, Later Years
  • Robert Schumann and Mascot Ziff
  • Adventures of Richard Wagner
  • Stephen Foster and His Little Dog Tray
  • The Young Brahms
  • The Story of Peter Tchaikovsky
  • Peter Tchaikovsky and the Nutcracker Ballet
  • Edward MacDowell and His Cabin in the Pines

How We Used This and Our Thoughts:

I used this set with my daughter, Teela, who is just starting 6th grade. We focused on Frederic Chopin and the book Frederic Chopin, Early Years and some of the Frederic Chopin, Later Years for the 4 week study and this review. First we looked through the Student Book and found that besides a nice table of contents, each composer had its own colored tab along the side to find the pages easily. The tab colors also go with the some of the reader colors. When we flipped to Frederic Chopin on page 17 we found the Weekly Lesson Outline layout for each of the four weeks. These Weekly Lesson Outlines are given for each composer too and is very well structured and spelled out for you so you know exactly what to do and when. At the end of the 5 weeks they also include an answer key to help the teacher with grading.

I noticed a few things when we received the set through the mail. We received all but one of the physical books in the series because of an error in shipping. We were instead given a digital download of the Peter Tchaikovsky and the Nutcracker Ballet, the last one we were missing, but I would have rather had the physical book. There is also a lapbook and coloring book that we did not receive and that are sold separately to go along with the materials. Also, I noticed that one book, The Young Brahms, was a hardcover not softcover like the rest.

In the Student Book there are Music Appreciation for the Middle Grades App–QR codes and a link to an app website that provides easy access to all the songs from the biographies, interactive quizzes, and a variety of additional website links to enhance the learning experience. We couldn't use the QR codes because we don't have a device to read them, but had a lot of fun with the website link which had all the same information. There are also activities in the student book that are starred and this means that those certain activities are required in order to meet national music appreciation standards.

Chopin Weekly Lesson Outline and an illustration in the reader.

The Student Book had 5 weeks about Chopin. Each week we had different things to work on; some included: chapters to read from the biographies, comprehension questions to answer, character qualities to read about with page numbers from the biography to correspond with, tidbits of interest to read about with page numbers from the biography to correspond with, listening to tracks, vocabulary to learn, musical parts to learn, recipes to try, etc.

We learned a great deal about Chopin's early years. Not only did we learn about his life, but we also learned about his birthplace, Poland; music, foods he ate with recipes of a similar facsimile, etc. Some of the things we learned was that he went by many names, he weighed only 100 pounds even as an adult, he liked doing smaller recitals than large concerts because he played softly and some people couldn't hear him, and that his sister died of tuberculosis.

All of the parts of this curriculum complement each other really well. We loved how easy it was to follow along each week in the Student Book. It was really fascinating to learn about Chopin's life in the Frederic Chopin, Early Years biography reader. The link, instead of the QR codes, worked better for us for the tracks of music to listen to for each composer, videos about his life and music, and there is a quiz at the end of comprehension questions about the reading. As you can see there are a lot of different activities besides reading.

Teela is excited to learn about the other composers in this collection as well. We are going to finish Frederic Chopin, Later Years soon and then start on the book, Robert Schumann and Mascot Ziff. We can't wait to learn more about Chopin's life and other musicians in the series.

We highly recommend the Zeezok Publishing Music Appreciation Book 2: for the Middle Grades Collection! If you are looking into a great classical music appreciation curriculum or homeschool music program look no further. This would be a great summer music program too! Also, look for the Zeezok Publishing Music Appreciation Book 1: for the Elementary Grades Collection if you have children in that age group. Book 1 includes: Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Paganini and Schubert. I have loved learning about these composers.

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Retail Price is $185. 54. Sale Price is $169.99. Save 10% when purchasing the complete Music Appreciation Book 2: for the Middle Grades collection!

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Music Appreciation Book 2: for the Middle Grades {Zeezok Publishing Reviews}

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