Thursday, March 7, 2013

B is for Bible

I had a rather Large group this Sunday ... so I forgot to take pictures.

Our B week .... B is for Bible

We talked about
WHO wrote the Bible - God did ... through men.
WHY God wrote the Bible -  to lead us to salvation
God's Word is ALWAYS true.

We talked about several Bible Verses ... especially the 4 we chose to put inside the little book that we made.

Would you believe that the ONLY picture I managed to take was of the one page that we didn't use that day?

For the craft,
we cut the page in half, and set one set of verses inside the other,
cut a piece of construction in half,
put the verses inside the construction paper,

By curling one side of their "Bible" over,
we stapled the middle of the book so that the staples
didn't interfere with closing the book.

We drew several pictures on the green board for the kids to copy,
pictures that went with the verses.

Such as a path,
a sword,
a heart,
a lamp,
a flashlight,
a teacher with a student,
a Bible,
and similar pictures.

We used glitter glue to write "BIBLE" on their books.

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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Review: Smarty Pants Series - for Babies and Toddlers

Smarty Pants Series Books

There are 19 Smarty Pants Books.  So far...

They are aimed at the Under 3 aged crowd -
teaching vocabulary to babies and toddlers.

These books are normally listed at 99cents each.
They are frequently listed as free - usually for several days each time.






These books are not getting many reviews - and not many good reviews ...

but what are the negative points?

....  too babyish for my 3 year old.
....  uses the wrong words for objects (apparently British English)
....  pictures are generic
....  only one word per picture
.... some of the pictures are very small

Considering that these books are designed to teach babies new words for objects that are probably not in their every day routine,  most of these negative comments are not too condemning.

Using generic pictures is common practice as well, and generic doesn't always mean poor quality as it means limited selection.

Using the wrong words could be a problem.  In the tools book, a screw was labeled as a nail.  On the other hand, babies don't usually read the books to themselves, so it would be easy enough for the parent or whoever is reading the book to the baby, to say the correct word for your area and even discuss the pictures in more detail.

There actually were a few very positive reviews as well, although they didn't say much more than "this is a really nice book".

I've looked at several of the books ... Numbers, Tools, African Animals, Colors, and a few others.

The negative comments are accurate ... children over 3 and even older 2 year olds will probably be bored with the books very quickly.  The pictures are not the most amazing thing you've ever seen.  Pictures sometimes don't match the word - such as giraffe in the African Book ... the screw in the tools book ... the rhombus in the shape book  ...  the peach in the fruit book, but in the books that I saw, usually only one or two pictures were "mislabeled" or "strangely labeled".

While the pictures are probably free generic issued pictures, most of them are fairly nice pictures.  Although again, at least one or two pictures in almost every book I looked at was either somewhat distorted (such as a tilted rectangle) or just didn't seem to belong with the rest of the words (such as the bag of gardening tools in the Tools book)  and the orange notebook was more red than orange - at least on my computer.  A few pictures were smaller and harder to see than most of the others.

Overall - I would consider what I saw B or C grade work - they are not the worst thing ever, and if you need a vocabulary book to assist with a toddler or special needs child, these would mostly work just fine.  But for a reader or a serious study of the topic, they will be a huge disappointment.

Personally, I feel the errors and small "picture problems" are enough to make them not worth investing 99 cents, nor is it worth your time to actively pursue getting the whole collection.

But it is probably worth the FREE offers, so you can decide for yourself whether or not they are usable to you.

If you DO want to try them for the 99cents, be sure to check them out immediately - because if you do not like them at all, you can go directly to the "Manage Your Kindle" link found at the bottom of every Amazon page, find the book that you do not like, click the Actions button ... there you will see "Return for Refund" if you purchased the book or "Delete From Library" if it was Free or can longer be refunded.  Usually the refund button is available for at least 2 weeks.

Personally ....

I will probably sit down with Sunshine (my almost 3 year old) in the next few weeks, and actually look through our entire collection of Smarty Pants books.  Then I will go ahead and delete the ones that do not hold her attention.  She loves picture books like this though, so I expect to keep quite a few of them for a few months.

I do not mind the errors in the books so much, because they can be turned into a lesson on observation and thinking ... as well as pointing out that you should be careful not to believe and accept everything that you see.  I may even have Scholar (7 year old) look up many of the questionable animals to see if the book is correct and if not, why and what the picture really is instead.

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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Review: Gabriella Books by Jerry Di Leo, Patsy Di Leo and Silvina Maldonado

There are currently 6 Gabriella Books - I own 5 of them.

These books are aimed at the 3 - 6 year old, and early learning skills, for children.
They are frequently free - I usually see at least one or two every month.

These books may work well as a preschool lapbook project springboard in a school setting.

I read these books on my Kindle for PC app or the Kindle Cloud.

This one is the ONLY book in the series that I do not own, though I don't know whether it is because it hasn't been free yet, or whether I overlooked it when it was free ... so I cannot review it.   However, at only 99cents, if you like the other books in the series, you may enjoy this one as well.
   Gabriella and Her Bouquet of Friends (Gabriella Books)

Book Description

 December 21, 2011
Gabriella learns about flowers from her friends, Daisy, Tulip, Rose, Daffodil, Petunia, and Pansy. They all learn something unique about each flower as they plant a flower garden together. Winner of a 2010 Premier Book Award, a Fall 2010 Pinnacle Book Achievement Award, and Finalist in USA Best Books 2011 Awards.

ALL of the books are only 99c on Kindle at their regular price.

     Gabriella and Her Berry Good Friends (Gabriella Books)

Book Description

 January 15, 2012
Gabriella enjoys desserts made by her berry friends, Sally Strawberry, Roz Raspberry, Chris Cranberry, and Bella Blueberry.

You can see from the book cover, that Gabriella is a "real" little girl and her fruit friends are "real" fruit with arms and legs and faces.   Right off the bat, I was confused, because the first sentence of the book was on the author and copyright page ... so make sure you catch and read that first sentence.

This sentence structure confusion continued as the book progressed, as a comment was on one page, and the "said whoever" part was on the next.  It made the book feel choppy.

The basic story goes along ... Gabriella comes to visit her berry friends.  They have each made a desert made from the berry that they represent.  (I don't know, this always feels a tad cannibalistic to me - but I am frequently told that I have a strange way of looking at things.)   Sally Strawberry has fixed Strawberry Shortcake - which everyone has a piece and enjoys.  Each of the berries has a desert and gives a brief explanation of that desert.  Everyone compliments the desert maker and exclaims how good the desert is, until finally they have eaten all 4 of the deserts.  As the book ends, they decide that they should have a desert party again.

This is a VERY simple book.  It would be a good early reader for a child starting to expand reading material, although I'm afraid the book would quickly become boring for most older readers and listeners.  It may be more palatable if the parents bake samples of each of the deserts ahead of time, and use it as a teaching tool to get their children to try new foods.  This will also allow the child to experience the story in a new way.

The pictures were fairly cute.  They looked fine on my PC Kindle app.

Overall, I can see this as a springboard for teaching children about fruit, table manners, and polite conversation.

   Pirate Gabriella Sails the Five Oceans (Gabriella Books)

Book Description

 July 9, 2011
Children's picture book from award-winning authors Jerry and Patsy Di Leo has Gabriella as a pirate sailing the five oceans of the world, teaching us facts about the oceans while using pirate lingo. 2011 Royal Dragonfly Book Award Winner!

This is also a simple and short book of few words ... Gabriella is a pirate.  She is sailing on the 5 Oceans .. starting with the Atlantic.  The story describes that it is the 2nd largest ocean made up of the North Atlantic and the South Atlantic.  The North Atlantic is between North America and Europe.  The South Atlantic is between South America and Africa .... and so goes the story describing the Arctic Ocean, the Pacific, the Indian, and the Southern Ocean.

This is a fairly good introduction to geography of oceans and continents ... but there is only one very crude map of the Indian Ocean.

However, it could be used to "sail" a ship around a large world map as the story is read to give it much more depth, or a starting point to explore early geography.

   Gabriella Counts to Ten in Eight Languages (Gabriella Books)

Book Description

 January 13, 2012
Children's picture book from award-winning authors has Gabriella counting to ten in eight different languages - English, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, Japanese, and Korean. Finalist in the USA Best Books 2011 Awards.

This book is another one that you'll miss the first sentence if you are not looking for it "Hi, I'm Gabriella.  Let's count to ten in different languages".  Basically it repeats the same thing 8 times ... Let's count to ten in __________ (insert language).  Then is has the number and the word and the pronunciation of the number (except in English).  Then it says "Very good" in that language.  Then on the same page, it says, "Let's count in ___________ (next language).

What I liked ... each page where you start to count has a nice mural of the country flag, and some of the common things that you would see in the country, such as the Eiffel Tower.  Most of the murals also have a rough outline map.

What I didn't like ... the counting starts under the mural, and then falls over into a blank page.  I would have rather seen the "Let's count in ______ (language)" under the mural, and all 10 of the numbers together on the same page.

Other than that, the murals and the pronunciation key will lend itself to a learning experience.  It could be fun to look up the different land marks on the internet after you have read it a couple of times, and work on learning to count to 10 in each of the languages.

   Gabriella's Salad Bowl of Friends (Gabriella Books)

Book Description

 April 17, 2012
Gabriella and her friends, Tammy Tomato, Lucy Lettuce  Susie Cucumber, and Carrie Carrot, get together to make a salad for lunch.

This story is the same type as the berry one above.  There are 4 vegetables, and they look like the vegetable with arms, legs, and faces.  They invite Gabriella over for a salad.  When she arrives, Lucy Lettuce takes her out to the garden and Gabriella picks, washes, and puts the lettuce in the bowl.

Next, Tammy tomato takes her out to her potted tomato and Gabriella picks some tomatoes, and washes and cuts them up.  Then Susie takes her outside to get cucumbers, and Gabriella fixes those.  Finally, the carrot takes her to the carrot patch ... so Gabriella dons her "oven mitt" gardening gloves 3 times (she didn't have them to get cucumbers, or to listen to the tomato talk about tomato flowers) and goes outside to the garden 4 times.

I found it odd that Gabriella did all of the picking, washing, chopping, and putting into the bowl.  Then, three of the veggies poured in salt, oil, and vinegar (one each), and the 4th veggie did the tossing.

As far as learning ... you could make a salad with the instructions, and there are a few "facts" about the veggies - cucumbers grow on a fence, tomatoes have flowers, carrots grow in the ground, and lettuce has Vitamin A.

    Astronaut Gabriella Explores the Solar System (Gabriella Books)

Book Description

 January 31, 2012
Gabriella is an astronaut who travels to outer space and tells us about all the planets in our solar system.

In my opinion, this is the best of the 5 books that I have looked at tonight.

First, it is loaded with facts about the solar system's planets.  Not distances and weights, just fun stuff like the sun is really hot, and Mercury is sometimes called the "Morning Star."  There are only a few simple facts about each planet, but there is also a nice picture of Gabriella in her rocket ship zooming past each of the planets.  It also includes comets, asteroids, and the Moon.

At the very end, you see the planets lined up behind her ... but as the Magic School Bus says ... it just made it easier to do it that way.

Overall, I consider this one a keeper, and I can see it used as part of my son's planet exploration this year.

I'm going to try to review a children's book or set of books each week.
If you have a request, please let me know by leaving a comment.
If you are an author and want a special review or to be featured on this blog, you can leave a comment and how to contact you for further arrangements or contact me via my Facebook Page, you can find a link in the sidebar.

I have a soft spot for young indi authors, as my daughter is one!

Books should be "safe" for children under the age of 12.  Otherwise, I will review it on my cousin's O'Scarlett blog.  Thanks!

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Friday, March 1, 2013

March Goals

There is much happening in March.  We are slowly recouping from a "mild" flu - having it wasn't so bad, mild aches, some tummy problems for a few, severe head and neck aches, low fevers ... and the younger the child, the harder it hit and the faster it was over - the young ones seemed to suffer under 48 hours... but the older we are, the longer it seems to take us to feel up to par.

The weather is entering the month as a lamb - as sunny and mild days - temps into the low 60's and nights approaching the mid 30's.   Too cool to really enjoy being outside, but warm enough to not run the heaters all day.   I'm hoping the weather holds, because we could really use a nice low electric bill.

In March, we hope to visit the nearby Daffodil Farm.  We had planned to attend a seminar by the Maxwell's as well, but we'll not be able to go, even though it is mere miles from us.  The Public Library will be having their annual Book Sale.  Our church will have a sewing day to make dresses for an orphanage in Africa.  The three older kids will be attending a Day Camp on American Heritage hosted by Frontier Girls.   Two of my best friend's babies will be turning 3.  We'll be visiting the big Right To Life Garage least I hope nothing comes up this year.  AND Song is sewing for Easter, AND we will try to get tomatoes planted.   I'm sure other things will arise during the month.

Reffing season is at an end, and the Ref is seriously job hunting again ... praying hard for something, as 5 years without a steady job means that we are no longer with a back up plan.   God has somehow stretched our meager resources out to 5 years.... and we really are not sure how. ...  But our oil jars are running out (referring to a Bible story).

Some major projects include
cleaning out the school room, and rearranging things (and hope it works better)
organizing the clothes in Scholar's room
take a few boxes of things OUT of my house or the school room either for storage or to be gotten rid of
continue working on sorting out Kindle Books
continue working on sorting the VHS and DVD collection
getting our tiny garden up and growing.

Now for the "Repeat Monthly Stuff"

Blogging -
1.  Kiddos With Kindles - Transfer posts keeping to Eagle Nest Blog and Delete. ...  Due to Amazon penalizing any seller/associate catering to Free Kindle Books.

2.  Eagle Nest - Write at least 25 Other Posts on Homeschooling, Crafts, and such.   ---  Anyone have a topic that they would like covered?   Plan to finish up many that I had set up to do in the Drafts folder.

3.  O 'Scarlett - Write at least 10 book reviews  

4.  Wings - my personal scrapbooking blog - Write at least 8 posts - catch up with pictures again

5.  Return to skimming Google Reader daily.  

Project Household Settled
1.  Work some more on Sunshine's room - Declutter
2.  Work more on Scholar's room - Declutter
3.  Work on Craft supplies
4.  Work on Kitchen / Living room / Videos
5.  Work on Master Bathroom organization
6.  FIGHT roaches!
7.  Paint the master bathroom.

1.  Keep using up the food in the freezers.
2.  Go through freezers again later this month and refill the ones next door - empty MY freezer and take to my Aunt's house so she has a freezer of her own (we'll use the big one)
3.  Make meal plans to use up as much odds and ends of stored food as possible - to keep the budget down. 

1.  Be in bed before Midnight - WITH the lights off. 
2.  Have all of the kids in bed by 9pm - and asleep.
3.  More consistent devotional times.
4.  Loose 10 lbs. 
5.  No eating after 7pm.
6.  Walk  two miles every day that the weather co-operates.  
7.  Pay more attention to our schedule that we have posted ... and tweak where needed.
8.  Make big changes in the chore schedules to start teaching new skills to those who need to learn and upgrade chores for Scholar and Sunshine

1.  Make sure everything got mailed ... and delivered.  
2.  Make a plan for next year .... and attempt to make a few things each month to put into a presents box for Christmas and birthdays.
3.  Copy lots and lots of cassettes from our OLD tape collection to give to nieces and nephews on MP3's

1.  Plan out school goals for Sunshine
2.  Find somebody to cut the chalk board in half - get half up in Story's room for her, and the other half up in the school room.
3.  Find someplace to put up the posters and charts in the room - or find the charts a new home.
4.  Learn to use my new label machines.
5.  Declutter the School room - bring some of the craft supplies over to use for school.

Find and enter birthday information into the Reminder program that I found to use.

Or at LEAST get it all into the 2013 calendar!

Remove the useless built in sets of drawers in my bedroom, and turn into a functional living/storage space for the crafts and household extra items that we need and use regularly.  ....  I could REALLY USE SOME ADVICE and HELP .... we have NO money, and we aren't handy with remaking things.


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