Monday, October 29, 2012

Madagascar Preschool Surf n' Slide Review and GIVE AWAY

Boy do I have some good news for you, dear readers! JumpStart Online contacted me again with another review opportunity. This time for their new Madagascar Preschool Surf and Slide App for your iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch.  And guess what? The ever generous JumpStart company is going to to give my readers a chance to win the app.

About Madagascar Preschool Surf n' Slide

From the company...

From DreamWorks Animation and JumpStart comes Madagascar Preschool Surf n' Slide, and immersive themed game, where players join young Alex, Marty, Gloria, and Melman, and the entire Madagascar gang for a slip-sliding adventure in learning! Players will surf down amazing slides as they learn multitudes of preschool skills on their mobile devices.

Our Experience

I'm going to be completely honest and just start off telling you that this app can be a bit addictive. And not just for the preschooler in our house. There might have been an 11 and 41 year old who enjoyed testing the app when the small one wasn't around. The sliding around is just plain fun.

You start out picking your favorite Madagascar character. The characters are super cute baby versions of the originals. Baby Melman is always my first choice.  Next up, choose your ride. Turtles, clouds, snow boards, magic carpets, surf boards. There's something for everyone.

Next thing you know, you are ready to slide!

The controls are very easy for a preschooler to navigate. There is a slider bar on the bottom of the screen and all that your tot needs to do is use their finger to slide to the bar left or right to avoid the obstacles in their path or to collect stars. Sometimes Mort will jump on your ride with you. Kayleigh LOVES it when that happens.

Every so often, your child will encounter a balloon character. Now it's time for one of the learning games. The games cover all sorts of preschool skills: critical thinking, colors, numbers, letters, shapes, science (in the form or animals.) After about 4 questions, they get to pick a sticker for a job well done. The best part is that the questions are read out loud to the child, perfect for non-readers.

As you play, the different scenes will be available to you. The play is continuous so your little one won't get frustrated having to wait between scenes.

All-in-all Kayleigh has a blast playing Madagascar Preschool Surf n' Slide. It has all of her favorite characters that she loves and she's learning will having fun. A win for both of us!


Age Range: Preschool

Cost: $2.99

Win the App!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


H is for... Home Sweet Home

I know I'm late with H. Life is crazy and is apparently going to get crazier but that's another post. I probably wouldn't even have it done today except there is a "hurricane" in the area and I had nothing better to do.

So since I just moved H obviously has to be about our new house. Which we love. Even if a couple of rooms are completely empty and the first floor is completely white. =o) We hope to remedy that one of these days when we have $$$ again. lol

First up the entry and the dining room. We have no formal dining furniture so it's Mackenzie's music studio.  My favorite thing, just a bit of food. I hate how hard it is to keep wood floors looking clean and I don't miss the tons of wood in our old house. Now it's our renters problem to keep clean. lol

The "office", also empty. Kayleigh has temporarily claimed it as hers. lol We hope to take another trip to Ikea one day and fill it with furniture.

The kitchen and breakfast nook.

Guest room off of the kitchen.

The kid's rooms and bath.

The master. The best part is the mattress. OMG! Weatherly Euro Plush. You'll sleep like a baby.

The school room. Even when it's kind of messy it still looks pretty clean.

Not pictured... the powder room. It's a white toilet, sink, and walls. And the front of the house. It's raining. Sorry. I can't risk my beautius Nikon getting wet.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Review: Sugar Creek Gang audio stories

It should come as now surprise, given our curriculum choices, that we love books. And given our literature-heavy curriculum choice, it also won't surprise you to learn that my throat is often raw from all of the reading aloud that I do.

So when I got a chance to review an audio book series, I jumped on it! Not only does it give my throat a break but I get to enjoy being read aloud to also. Double win!!

Beloved Books graciously sent us Vol. 1 of their Sugar Creek Gang audio story series.

About Beloved Books

Beloved Books was created to share wholesome audio resources with other Christian families. They offer scripture songs, historical fiction, missionary stories, Bible history songs, and other wholesome fiction books.

The company's main ministry is to share the Sugar Creek Gang series with the world. The series was written by Paul Hutchens, a former evangelist. When tuberculosis cut short his ministry, he tried his hand at writing. And, 36 books later, another successful career was born.

Why does the company love this series? Here's what they have to say about it.

These Sugar Creek Gang "Audio Adventures" are dramatically read straight from the original books. Christian families LOVE this series because the gospel message is presented in such a simple, easy-to-understand style. The whole series is, in fact, a discipleship journey... even parents who listen along witness the Holy Spirit working changes in their own hearts!

Families also enjoy the delightfully interspersed segments of nature study, poetry, hyms, and even science lessons... all skillfully woven into the fabric of the stories.

The CDs contain the original "Adventure Time" broadcasts, narrated by Paul Ramseyer. There are six volumes available each containing six two-hour stories.

Volume 1 contains:

The Swamp Robber
The Killer Bear
The Winter Rescue
The Lost Campers
Chicago Adventure
The Secret Hideout

Our Experience

We popped the first CD into the player and we were hooked!!! I wasn't sure if my girly-girl daughter would totally enjoy a series about boys but she is now a huge fan. She has, on more than one occasion, wished that she lived near them and could be part of the Sugar Creek Gang.

The narrator, Paul Ramseyer, is fabulous. His voice is soothing and he did a wonderful job using his voice to differentiate between the different characters.

I was a tad jealous at his mad-narrating-skills. I'm one of those moms who does all the voices when I read aloud to the children. One story, that we read a few years back, had German, French, and Italian characters and I did "accents" for each and every one. Poorly, I might add. But my embarrassing myself like that makes the stories more memorable for my children. But even so, my girls really enjoyed hearing Paul Ramseyer's top-notch story reading.

The characters are likable and relatable. Even for 11 year old girls. The gang is made up of six boys.

Bill Collins is the "narrator." He's the 10 year old son of a farmer. He tries to obey his parents but sometimes he gets into some trouble. Just like every child listening to the stories.

His best friend is Poetry. He's the  mischievous, "barrel-shaped", poetry quoting friend and neighbor. He has a poem for all occasions. Like me and song lyrics. ;o)

Dragonfly gets his nickname because his big eyes are always spotting something. Whether real or imagined, Dragonfly will spot it first.

Circus is the athlete of the gang. If there's something around to climb, he's sure to be at the top of it. He also has the roughest life of everyone in the gang, with his father having an alcohol problem.

Big Jim is the leader of the gang as well as the oldest. He uses his boy scout skills to keep the younger boys in line.

The last member of the gang is Little Jim. He's also the youngest and the rest of the gang refers to him as a good Christian. Not a bad way to be remembered.

The stories themselves are filled with fun, suspense, and adventure. The boys are always finding themselves in the middle of one thing or another and we're always wanting to hear what happens next. We've been listening to them in the car and we've found ourselves wanting to sit and listen a little bit longer even after we've reached our destination.

More importantly stories are filled with the gospel, biblical truths, and scripture that are easy for young listeners to understand. The biblical truths are not just added into to an adventure story. They are a huge part of the characters. They talk about their faith as naturally as we breath. It's part of them and it's the best part of the series. And the lessons within this series are just as relevant today as they were the day they were written.

We had one morning during the review period that was very rough with my oldest. She had done some things to break my trust and it was just a bad way to start the day. But the day must go on, so we headed out to our music lessons.  While traveling we were, of course listening to our current Sugar Creek Gang story. And wouldn't you know it, there was a little lesson for Mackenzie in the current section. Complete with scripture showing why her behavior was wrong. She picked up on it right away and commented on how God was talking to her through the story. And it's not just the kids will be convicted. I found myself getting a little nudge a few days later.

I cannot recommend this series enough, it has been such a blessing for our family. Not only are they great family entertainment, they are a wonderful way to help grow your child's faith.  We'll be listening to Volume 2 in the near future.



Age Range: Young to Old

Price: $54.95 per volume with FREE SHIPPING included. And with 12 hours worth of wholesome, family entertainment, that works out to be less than $5.00 an hour. For the entire family. Way cheaper than a movie that probably has some less than desirable scenes in it.

And for my readers a 20% off code for your entire order.
Use the code:  GIGGLY-GIRLS-20

Still not sure? Listen to the first complete story FREE online:

Slow internet connection make this difficult? You can also get the first story, Swamp Robber, on CD for just $4.95. They'll pay the shipping


Disclaimer: I received Vol. 1 free for review purposes. All opinions are my own or those of my family.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up: The One with Sonlight... Sorta

So this was supposed be a normal week of homeschooling after all the distractions of late. Yes I said supposed to be. Of course it wasn't. lol


For the first time this school year, we were finally starting back with our Sonlight Core 5. We started it late last school year due to a poor curriculum choice. And by poor curriculum choice, I mean a pile of junk. So we finished half of Core 5 (or whatever it's name is now lol) and we're finishing the rest this year.

So I scheduled week 19 of Eastern Hemisphere for this past week. Or so I thought I did. We were so happy to be back to reading the wonderful Sonlight Books. We started reading A Boy and His Horse and The Incredible Journey. And we were off.

Then I as I sat doing my lesson plans for next week, I realized that I had only scheduled the reader and read aloud.  I've been using HST online and it's a little different than HST+ and I missed the other assignments. Opps!!! lol I guess these 2 a.m. blood sugar checks are messing with my ability to function properly.

Other than that, the week went off without a hitch. She finished Growing With Grammar 5, another late start due to Advanced Language Lessons being dropped from publication. And we finished Math-U-See Epsilon. Woot!!!

After a short break from science while we moved, we started back up. We finished our experiments from our last lesson on seals and started our lesson on herps. We learned just how well blubber keeps those sea creatures warm. And Mackenzie pretended to be a sea turtle hauling herself across the sand using only her front flippers. Those turtle mamas are strong!!

In other news, her soccer team is undefeated so far. The last time she had this particular coach they went undefeated too. He has mad coaching skills. And I'm so happy that here are only two more games left. Getting to the field by 8:30-9:00 is no fun.

On the diabetes front, we're plugging along. Just dealing with one number at a time. The exciting news is that, for the first time, her blood sugar is reacting normally to exercise. Physical activity is supposed to lower your blood sugar, but so far it's been raising hers. (Sometimes adrenaline can raise it.)

Except this weekend. After her soccer game it was down to 89 which is within a normal range. That was exciting! She had tears of joy. Her doctors will be surprised.


Kayleigh is... Kayleigh. Crazy, stubborn, and unpredictable.  She hasn't done anything for school for a few weeks. Mackenzie was jealous because she still had to do math and LA through the move. The poor dear.

So Kayleigh was back to the grind this week. She loved all of the space that we have in the new school room. And seeing all the toys and stuff was like Christmas for her. She spends a lot of time in the school room. Although, usually not because she wants to do school. lol

The last time we did school, we were in "the middle of the letter F" so we finished up with that. She did remember her Bible verse, John 3:16. So not all was lost.

She practiced writing F's using one of her favorite apps for the iPad, ABC's of God. And she jumped right back into Language Lessons for Little Ones, with a picture study. She loves looking at art. And sometimes touching it. Which is frowned upon at The Met. The Chrysler Museum of Art doesn't care for that either. Trust me. We know.  =o)

Her favorite activity of the week was tossing a bean bag into a bowl. She loved, loved, loved it. It was one of the developmental suggestions from her Sonlight p 4/5. She was also supposed to carry a bean bag on a spoon but she only wanted to do that once. But she tossed it into the bowl for at least 30 minutes.

She may of also had a great time trying to hit various family members with  with a bean bags. She looks cute but don't let the looks fool you.

We started back with our You Can Read lessons. I decided to review the units that we've already completed because it's been a while.

She remembered them pretty quickly. Especially when I pulled out our fancy fly swatter, education cube with YCR inserts and we played Wack-a-Word. And in case you're wondering, you can find fancy fly swatters at the Dollar Tree.

In Kayleigh's other news...

She is, once again, a soccer tot drop out. This was her shortest run yet. She only made it for two sessions. She didn't even last until picture day. lol Next year she will be old enough to play on a regular team. I think she will enjoy that more then just kicking the ball around on game day. Hopefully. Maybe I'll give it a try during basketball season this year.

Lastly, we made our last trip to Busch Gardens for the season. No more coasters for us until spring.


Linking to: Photo Collage FridayPreschool Corner

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

G is for... G-Force!!!!

As my husband likes to call them. I refer to them as The Girls. Normal people call them Guinea Pigs or cavies. I don't understand the cavies reference and it doesn't start with G, so out with cavies.

You might recall that we wound up with our own pair of G-Force rodents back in February. My four year old played her hand really well that February day. Well played wee child, well played.

Life with the Girls, Cherry and Luna, has been exactly how I figured it would be. They were all excited the at first and then the work set it and the illusion wore off. Fast. Cleaning the cage, feeding, water, fresh treats, mountains of timothy hay, pooping on the floor.

Generally I have to force Mackenzie to take care of them. It often results in attitude or tears. Although she promised she would take care of them in order to get them but once the work began... no more interest.

Kayleigh lasted a bit longer in her interest in the piggies. Up until a couple of months ago, she would ask to play with them every day. Lately not so much.

Next thing you know, like with every animal we've ever owned, I'm the only one giving them attention. And I don't even like animals as pets. But I do feel bad for them, so I'm the one giving them human interaction. (Mackenzie still had to clean their cage. Ha!!) I got to so fed up that I put them on Craigs List. Sadly for me, no takers. If you're local and want some guinea pigs... call me. You can have them.

Recently we moved and the Girls are no longer living in Mackenzie's room. They are now living in our new school room. Since we spend a large amount of time in there, the piggies are getting more attention.

They help with the girls studies...


They've also been taking advantage of their cage-free time by polishing up their G-Force skills and enjoying some leisure activities.

And if you haven't seen G-Force, the movie. Do it! It's hilarious. And seriously, if you're in the market for some guineas... text me.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up: The One With a New School Room

It's been a while since I've done a Weekly Wrap-Up. Mostly because there hasn't been much to wrap-up. With Mackenzie's recent diagnosis and our new house, school work has been reduced to the bare bones (bible, math, grammar) with a massive "science unit" in the form of diabetes education.

But now that the house is 95% unpacked and we've got a grip on the counting of carbs and the injection of insulin, we're ready to start back up.  And we're a tad excited because we get to do school in our awesome new school room. We just love it!

Introducing the new home of the Sonlight Academy of Girls.

Linking to: The Weekly Wrap-Up, Photo Collage Friday, Homeschool Mother's Journal

Thursday, October 11, 2012

F is for... For Real?

As in, "Is this kid For real?"

This kid being the small one, Kayleigh. The one with a whole lot of attitude and stubbornness. Not to mention the crazy that is in her.  Here are some of her antics this week.

Number 1

I try to unpack all the boxes from our move, she does this...

Apparently she was trying to entertain me while I unpacked. Except that she needed me to place the last dish on her hand so I couldn't get much unpacking done.

Number 2

Mommy wants to take a picture. Pose for me.

Seriously? What are they showing her on Disney Jr.? And no, I don't think she's funny.

Number 3

There are no words... You'll just have to hit play and see for yourself.


Monday, October 8, 2012

Review: KinderBach App

Imagine our complete surprise, and joy, when we learned that we were going to get to review KinderBach again!! We loved it the last time that we reviewed it so we were just thrilled to hear that this time we were going to review the new KinderBach App.

About the KinderBach App

From the Website:

KinderBach's App for iPad or iPhone brings the teachings of Karri Grego to your device. The KB App features Levels 1,2, & 3 and offers a year's worth of entertaining music education for 3 to 7 year old children through video, interactive coloring pages and games. Miss Karri introduces preschoolers to the keyboard characters with stories and fun tunes. Kids will enjoy playing simple songs, identifying music direction and pitch, learning rhythm notes and their beat value. Levels 1 to 3 cover proper hand and finger position, as well as note reading by pattern for voice and keyboard.

* The most fun and engaging piano and music app on the App store
* Improves all forms of musical skills including the piano itself.
* Try the first game and two lessons for FREE, then choose which lessons you wish to purchase for your children. Lessons can be purchased one lesson at a time, or at a reduced rate for an entire level.
* No subscription required, once you purchase a lesson it is yours for good.
* Hours of content for children of all ages over the 3 levels, each containing 10 lessons.
* 150 videos allow your children to work directly with Karri Grego to learn concepts and skills.
* Keyboard included in the app for use during the video lessons.
* Six Mini-Games are unlocked as you purchase further lessons to learn more advanced concepts. he first Mini-Game is included with the application along with Lessons 1 and 2.

Our Experience
Well I'm sure that it's no surprise to anyone that we loved the App. It's everything that KinderBach online is and a little bit more. The App contains levels 1-3. Each level contains 10 lessons and each lesson contains  an intro video, 4 video mini-lesson as well as printables and games that you can unlock.

The printables are the same ones that you would get with the online version. However you can access and print them right from your iPad. Well you can if you have a wireless printer. Which I do. Yay me!!! If you don't have the wireless capabilities you can buy a pdf file of the printables for less then $2.00 each.

One of the first things that I did was download all of the videos. The first time you download them it takes a couple minutes. It goes much faster after the first time because they're already loaded onto your iPad.

You are meant to complete one lesson per week but we did our lessons over a two week period because that worked better for our schedule. We did a quick review of some of the earlier lessons and then we picked right up where we left off.

Kayleigh was in love with the little keyboard on the iPad. It was just the right size for her little fingers, much better for her than our full size keyboard. That just thrilled her.

There are two games for each level. They are a fun way to reinforce what your child has learned. There was one game, The Train Game, that had a glitch that would shut down the entire program. The fabulous KinderBach people were quick to start working out that bug as soon as they were notified. Their customer service is top notch. A large majority of the time, your questions are answered by Karri, the founder of KinderBach.

The videos themselves are 2-4 minutes long and they are the same ones that you get with the online or DVD versions. The teacher, Karri, is just delightful as are the characters. The lessons incorporate movement, instruments, some basic pre-k skills, as well as music instruction. So much fun packed into a short time.

The only difficulty I had was remembering what lesson we left off on. I'm old and my mind is going fast so I'd forget where we were day to day. I would love to see a way to mark them off as completed in future updates. For now I entered them all into my Homeschool Tracker so I can just add them to our assignment sheets.

The app is also compatible with the iPod Touch and the iPhone as well. However, the small screens on these devices could can make using the keyboard difficult but it can be done. Some of the games are perfect for playing on the smaller devices.

We definitely feel blessed to have been given the opportunity to review this app. It is an incredible value for the money. $26 dollars might sound like a lot for an app but it such a huge savings over the online program because you have access to the lessons forever. A real bargain, especially compared to private piano lessons. Trust me know, I foot the bill for those for my oldest. ;o)



Age Range: 3-7 years of age

Price: Full App $26.99 available on the iTunes App Store. You can also purchase individual lessons for $ .99 or each level for $8.99.  If you're still not sure, you can try the first two lessons for free.

And guess what?? KinderBach is offering my readers 30% off. Just use the code: TOS_crew2012 


Disclaimer: I received this app for free for review purposes. All opinions are my own or those of my family.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Review: Zoo Whiz

We were recently given an opportunity to review an online learning program called Zoo Whiz. It's learning and fun all-in-one.

About Zoo Whiz

Zoo Whiz is curriculum-based motivational learning. With levels for kids 5-15, it covers math, reading, word skills, punctuation, and grammar.

It motivates kids by making them zoo keepers. As they complete the learning activities they earn coins to buy animals for their zoo or play fun games in the arcade.

Our Experience

We were blessed with a Premium Subscription to Zoo Whiz and I was able to make my account for both of my daughters, ages 11 and 4.5. I'll start off by saying that they both LOVE it. Even my little one, who isn't very interested in the computer in general.

Each child starts off with 5000 coins when they make their account. They then earn more coins by completing the learning activities and they get 100 additional coins every time they log in.

To complete the learning activities the child needs to be able to read to answer the questions. There is no audio other than an encouraging word or two after giving the correct answer. For my youngest, I had to read the question to hear. She didn't mind at all and it gave us some nice bonding time.

While this program did not teach any concepts, I found it to be a great way to supplement my children's learning.  Since the program was created in Australia some of the questions the accents or different spellings can make some of the questions a little confusing. Although my older daughter and I, having had the opportunity to visit Australia, enjoyed hearing the accents and reliving some of our favorite vacation memories.

After completing the learning activities, they can spend their money playing games in the arcade or purchasing animals for the zoo. The more animals that they buy, the higher their zoo level. This really motivated my oldest daughter. She loved watching her zoo level go up.

What I loved was that even purchasing the animals was educational. With each animal purchased you would learn about their habitat, diet, interesting facts, and whether or not it is endangered. Even my four year old liked it when I read the information to her. So even though science isn't an subject area that the program claims to provide, it really is in there.

Another feature that I liked was that I was able to set the level for each child. I was able to control the level of the learning activities so they wouldn't be too challenging or too easy. I wish I had that ability in all of my children's online gaming.

It's easy to check their progress by checking their milestones under their account. And even better, you will soon be able to check your child's progress from your parent account. That premium future is currently in the works.

Both my girls have a lot of fun playing on Zoo Whiz  and I feel good knowing that they are reviewing important skills.



Age Range: 5-15

Price: Great news! They are currently running a fabulous promotion!  Premium subscriptions are currently $14.95. That is an awesome deal.  That is 75% off the normal cost.

Disclaimer: I received the premium subscription for review purposes. All opinions are my own or those of my family.


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