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Wee Wedgits: A Timberdoodle Review

Wedgits for wee ones! Wee Wedgits are a part of Baby Timberdoodle Core Curriculum Package. They are "rubber ducky" soft and a fun first building toy for my little Bo.

Wee Wedgits will grow with him. They can be used for:
  • toys to chew on and explore
  • towers to knock down
  • stacking 
  • open ended play
  • building dexterity
  • size relationships
  • sorting colors
  • memory skills 
  • building simple to complex structures
The Planning Folder that comes with the Baby Core Curriculum gives ideas and inspiration for using them.

Timberdoodle price: $40.50

How does my baby like them?

He likes to chew on them.

They are soft enough to land on.

They're great for just hanging out with.

They provide motivation for learning to sit up. . .

and for learning to crawl.

They also float!

Move over rubber ducky, Wedgits "make bath time so much {more} fun." :)

Features of this set:
  • 30-piece set
  • Soft, poly-vinyl blocks
  • Smooth, rounded edges
  • Non-toxic, phthalate free poly-vinyl
  • Dishwasher safe
The age on the box says for 1+, but these are totally safe for my 7 month old, who loves them!

What do I think?

I think these are great for all the reasons above, but also because I can build things while he is discovering ~ it is kinda neat how they fit together in more ways than one. They are super easy to clean and stack together easily for storage when we are done playing (you have to stack them to fit them back in the box).

I think Timberdoodle has done a great job putting together their Baby Timberdoodle Core Curriculum Package. I can tell they have put a lot of thought into their selections. . . and they sure look like fun!

See more baby and toddler curriculum reviews at Because Mom Said!  You can also find Timberdoodle on Facebook.
Disclosure: As a member of Timberdoodle's Blogger Review Team I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a frank and unbiased review.

The Family Illustrated Bible {Review}

The Family Illustrated Bible
From Masters Books a division of New Leaf Publishing Group
Price: $24.99 {Available on Amazon right now for $16.49}
Take a look inside!

The Family Illustrated Bible is a story bible full of interesting facts, colorful photos, illustrations of people and places, detailed maps, photos of lands of the Bible, and more. If you are familiar with DK's Children's Bible, then this will be familiar - it is the same book.

As with any story bible, you will not get all of the Word - just a paraphrase. I don't like paraphrased versions of Scripture because they leave out vital information.  One common mistake is in the story of Noah - it says he took two of every animal onto the ark, when in fact Noah took two of every unclean animal onto the ark (1 male and 1 female), and 14 of each clean animal (7 males and 7 females). They entered the ark two by two, in pairs.
Then YHVH (the LORD) said to Noah, “Enter the ark, you and all your household, for you alone I have seen to be righteous before Me in this time. “You shall take with you of every clean animal by sevens, a male and his female; and of the animals that are not clean two, a male and his female; also of the birds of the sky, by sevens, male and female, to keep offspring alive on the face of all the earth. Genesis 7:1-3. (emphasis mine)
This is important because Noah had knowledge of clean and unclean animals before the laws of clean and unclean animals were written down by Moses.

There were a few other common discrepancies that I didn't like, but I found plenty of reasons to like this book. The photos and illustrations bring Ancient and Biblical History to life.

Note: the book does go into detail about foreign gods and worship ~ both graphically and informationally. 

It also includes a little about church history - notably that Constantine changed the Sabbath to Sunday and declared Christ's birthday to be on the birthday of the sun (December 25th), because he worshiped the Sun god, Sol Invictus. (See photo below).

This is fundamental church history but this is the first time I have seen it in a mainstream Christian book.

I could go on about things I both liked and disliked. I think it will serve a purpose to bring history alive and also to spark conversation. . . I think I'll keep it around to find out.

Disclosure: I received this book for free as a part of the New Leaf Publishing Group Book review program in exchange for an honest review. 

SAT and College Preparation for the Christian Student {Review}

Review for: SAT & College Preparation Course for the Christian Student
From Masters Books a division of New Leaf Publishing Group
Price:  $29.99 {Amazon has it for $21.89}

The 150 lessons in this course include:
  1. devotion/journal
  2. reading and vocabulary exercises
  3. math and verbal exercises 
  4. critical reading and thinking exercises
  5. test taking strategies
Take a look inside. A bonus workbook is also available.

This is an interesting approach to SAT preparation ~ prepare the heart and the mind for test taking success. The lessons begin with a Scripture verse, a short, interesting reading that ties in the verse and gives the student a question to think about, and a 30 minute devotional time that focuses on Scripture and discipline (focus, silence, meditating in Scripture and prayer). I love how practical this part is, that target Scriptures are given, and that the 30 minutes is broken down into practical minute by minute suggestions. Then, reading selections are given and they can easily be adjusted to tie into your literature curriculum (which is what we will do). The vocabulary exercises have the student write down words they do not know on 3x5 cards and suggestions are given beginning in lesson 3, but are not included in every lesson ~ the student should be reviewing or adding words they do not know on their own (I would have liked to have seen a more focused vocabulary program). The critical reading/thinking exercises and math/verbal exercises that follow are excellent and doable and the answers are included in the back of the book. Test taking strategies and tips for active reading are given throughout the book. This is valuable information for anyone who is planning to take the SAT test. Most of all, I love that this book tells the student that the test is a measure of their potential success in college and not a measure of their worth in Father's eyes.
Disclosure: I received this book for free as a part of the New Leaf Publishing Group Book review program in exchange for an honest review. 

A Review of All About Reading Level Pre-1

"Do you know why I want to do school?" [She giggles] "I want to get Ziggy."

Ziggy is a cute zebra puppet that sometimes gets confused... much to my little one's delight.

For example, in Lesson 1, she played a "Rhyming Body Parts" game with Ziggy. Ziggy says, "Let's play a game together. I will point to a body part and tell you what it is. If I say it wrong, you tell me the right word."

[Ziggy points to her shoulder] "This is your holder," he says.

She giggles and says, "No, it's my shoulder!"

We play through the scripted list until Ziggy finally gets one right at the end... and my child is introduced to the concept of rhyming. To her, it was a game, but much to my delight, she was learning an important concept.

Rhyming encourages phonological awareness, one of the "Big Five Skills" in All About Reading Level Pre-1.

The Big Five Skills, according to Marie Rippel, are the most important pre-reading skills for young children and include:
  1. Print Awareness
  2. Phonological Awareness
  3. Letter Knowledge
  4. Listening Comprehension
  5. Motivation to read
These skills are the heart of All About Reading Level Pre-1.

We received The Deluxe Package, which includes:
The Deluxe Package is available for purchase for $119.95. The Basic Package includes the first six items for $79.95.  At this price, my only wish is that the Student Activity Book was reproducible for additional students; however, this is the only part of the program that is consumable - the rest of the program can be used again and again.

The teacher's manual contains full lesson plans and ready to use activities, and is fully scripted. Lessons 1- 26 focus on capital letters, lessons 27-52 focus on lowercase letters, and lesson 53-78 focus on the sounds of the letters, and the Big Five Skills are found throughout the lessons.

Our lessons in Section 1 begin by singing the alphabet song. (Marie explains why the Alphabet Song is important and offers tips for teaching it.) We point to the letters on the Capital Letter Chart as each letter is named.

I say, "Today's letter is A!" and have her find it on the chart. Then I read the poem for the letter in The Zigzag Zebra (the poems are short but endearing). I ask her if she can find the A in the text. Then she does an ABC craft sheet for capital letter A.  (The craft sheets focus on the process, not the end product, but this is her least favorite part of the program. She does not like to color, so I have her paint, or stamp the letter on the craft sheet, or I color with her).

Then, I choose one or more activities to complete with her. These are hands-on activities that promote letter knowledge. We used our quilted rag letters for tracing, do sky-writing, do salt tracing, mold letters with play dough, stamp with alphabet stamps, and more.

When we got to C and D, I could not resist some Cookie Dough fun.

One thing I appreciate about the lessons is that concepts are introduced gently and they build on each other so I know that if my daughter doesn't understand a lesson, she will get it after a few more lessons. It took her a few lessons to learn to rhyme, but after she understood the concept, she was telling me words that rhyme outside of our lessons. 

At the end of every lesson, you are encouraged to read aloud to your child for twenty minutes. Marie even gives some tips on how to incorporate this into your day.   

There are plenty of more gems throughout this program - it's a keeper, for sure. 

I put a lot of effort into my Alphabet Fun program with Malachi when he was four - we focused on a new letter each week and I came up with a lot of ideas that made learning fun (and filled my cup). But this honestly has been so simple and EASY. . .  and my cup is overflowing. The lessons are fun, engaging, simple, and fulfilling. I don't have a desire to do more. This is all I need. My child was engaged, playing games, doing craft sheets and listening to delightful stories. . . really, this is all she needs.

Level 1 is scheduled to come out this Fall and I am delighted. I am currently using All About Spelling Level 1 with my 6 year old (we are on lesson 11), and I'm stalling so that we can use All About Reading too! And Eliana and I will continue to work through the lessons in Level Pre-1 ~ All About Reading is on our shelf to stay.

See an update on our progress to see more! 

Disclosure: I received All About Reading Level Pre-1 in exchange for an honest review. Thanks All About Learning Press

The Story of Ferdinand {& Scheduling Five in a Row}

June 20th ~ 24th, 2011

For this row, we listened to The Story of Ferdinand on cd and I never could have pronounced banderilleros without it! This is a fun story about a bull who does not like to fight and likes to smell the flowers under his favorite cork tree instead.

We focused on Spain, learned what a peninsula is, wrote our own little story, did the lapbooking activities from HSS to go along with the manual, made another little bag book, had some churros and smelled some flowers of our own.

[Monday] Geography: Spain, Peninsula, Strait of Gibraltar

[Tuesday] Language Arts: Fantasy Story, Interjections, Repetition, "The Story of..." (see below)

[Wednesday] Science: Cork Oak Trees, Properties of Cork, Senses Scavenger Hunt and Nature Walk, Flowers (Usborne Vol 2, p. 58-59), Copywork

[Thursday] Art: Size and Distance

The castle is smaller to show that it is farther away. 
One day this past week, I drew Eliana a picture of her and I picking wild flowers with a house in the distance and she asked me why I drew the house so far away - so I knew she caught on to the concept that because it was smaller, it was farther away.

[Friday] Math: Measuring in Feet and Inches, Counting corks in the cork trees

[Friday] Narration and Illustration:

The Story of... 

This is a story idea from HSS Ferdinand Resources. Malachi made up his own story, similar to Ferdinand. (I included the pages that had illustrations and typed out the rest of the story).

All the other little lion cubs would run and play and pretend to hunt. 
But not Leo. He liked to just sit down and look around. He liked to sit in his favorite spot by the creek in the jungle.
Sometime's Leo's mother would worry about him. She would say, "Run, jump and play with the other cubs." 
But she saw that he was happy, so she understood, even though she was a Mother Lion. 

He still liked to sit in his favorite spot by the creek in the jungle. 
One day lion hunters came and took Leo away. They wanted to hunt him down, so they put him on their island. But Leo went to sit down by the creek. 
The hunters were mad so they took him home. Leo was happy. 
The End

FIAR Recipe: 

Churros {with vanilla ice cream, hot fudge and whipped cream}

Watermelon "Flowers"

We sat under our favorite tree in the front yard and smelled the flowers. The air here smells so fragrant and wonderful this time of year ~ the perfect time to row this! I debated rowing this during Rodeo week, but Ferdinand wouldn't have cared anyways. ;-)

We also planted some flowers in our front flower bed.

The Story of Ferdinand is a Five in a Row selection from Volume 2.

Delightful Links:

Lovely little lady with a flower in her hair.


I was asked about scheduling, so here is an outline of how I plan and schedule a row:
  • Read the book
  • pull out blank lesson planning sheet 
    • write the name of the book, the Five in a Row volume it is in, and the page number from the manual above the title, 
    • write in the subjects under the days of the week
  • read the lesson suggestions in the manual and Character and Bible Study supplement 
  • write down the lessons I want to do on the planning sheet (Bible lessons go on the top of the page)
  • include any lapbooks I will be using 
  • print and cut lapbook
  • pull out The Five in a Row Cookbook for recipe ideas
  • do a quick search to find any fun go-along activities 
  • make a list of supplies I will need
  • gather supplies before I start the row
  • Fill out the top of a new Rowing the Week schedule 
That is the simplified version of how I pull my week together.

Here are a few snapshots of our Rowing the Week schedule for The Story of Ferdinand:

(I copied this with red pencil so it would show up better.)

Tamara offers a blank Rowing the Week planner freebie. 
(I'm sorry, this is no longer available.) 

And here is the Blank Lesson Planning Sheet from the Five in a Row manual for this row:

We took three weeks off and are easing our way back into a schedule. I cleaned out the school closet, the craft box and the school shelves, ordered all of our curriculum for this fall, and planned for our next couple rows.  I also decided that since we are 8 weeks into our new school year (a good head start), we will take a break from our regular school work (AAS, Writing Traits, LL, Beg. Geography, Singapore Math, and Daily Science)  the rest of the Summer. We still have a few books that I would like to row during Summer, so we will, as Malachi says, do all the fun stuff. Then when school starts for the older boys this fall, we will take a break from Five in a Row so that I can focus on the older boys.

Rows coming up:

Hope you are having a wonderful Summer!