September 30, 2015

Poppins Book Nook...will be delayed

It is the last week of the month and that means that I usually have a new Poppins Book Nook post up for you...but we are on our annual trip to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, which means I am not able to do my regular blogging. I really hoped I could have something up this week, but I don't see it happening until we get home mid-week next week! 

In lieu of my own post, please make sure you visit these other great bloggers to check out what they have put together for the theme of Newberry Medal Winners!

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September 25, 2015

Wonky and Tapple -- Games your whole family will enjoy! {Product Review}

Our family loves to play games. We have several favorite card and board games that come out pretty regularly at our house. It's always fun to find a new one to add to our family collection, so I was very eager to do my review for USAopoly of the games Tapple: Fast Word Fun for Everyone and Wonky: The Crazy Cubes Card Game. I really hoped that these would be some more to add to our collection of games we loved to play!

Product Information

USAopoly has been making board games since 1994, with the goal to create something fun for family and friends to be able to come together for a time of laughter and fun! They have released a couple games lately which aren't your typical board/card game.

Wonky: The Crazy Cubes Card Game
Price: $19.95
Ages: 8+
Players: 2+
Take stackable blocks with unfinished round sides, a set of playing cards, and add some reverse, pass, and wildcard plays and you have an idea on how to play Wonky! This fun game includes 9 odd-shaped blocks in three colors and sizes, and then playing cards! 
Each person is dealt a hand and when it's their turn they pick which card they want to play--if it's a block card, they pick a block and stack it on the tower--but watch out! These blocks have rounded corners and are a bit tricky to get to stay! If you make the tower fall, you have to draw more cards! Throw the next person in a panic by playing a skip or reverse card and let THEM be the one to knock it down! Be the first one to get play all your cards and keep the tower standing!
Tapple: Fast Word Fun for Everyone
Price: $19.95
Age: 8+
Players: 2-8
Tapple is a fast moving game that everyone will love! The object is simple--draw a card with a category theme. Hit the red button to start the timer and the game it off! Each person playing has to come up with a word that fits the theme--but it has to start with a letter on the Tapple wheel--and it can't be a letter already hit by someone else! If you can't think of a word that works within the time limit (10 seconds) you are out and the wheel is passed and the timer reset for the next person! The game continues until one person is left! It's a great party game and sure to make the level of excitement in the room rise!
We were given both of these games to review with our family.

How Did We Use the Product?

We were pretty excited to dig out these games when they arrived. The packaging was very bright and colorful and it greatly appealed to the boys who love playing games. I really loved how the Wonky game box was unusually shaped as it made it fun.
I opened up each game to get a handle on what was required and whether or not we could incorporate Baby Britches (Age 5) into the games. I noticed that the Wonky game appeared to be much simpler and was ready to be played upon opening. The Tapple wheel needed to have 2 AA batteries before it would work (for the timer).
We decided that we would investigate Wonky. When we opened the box we discovered that the blocks were in a very nice bright purple drawstring bag. The playing cards were neatly packaged. We took out the blocks and found them to be painted and wooden in bright colors. The cards were high quality playing cards.

The rules were very simple to understand and to explain to both boys. They go like this:
1. Deal the cards (7 ea). 

2. Tallest player goes first. They pick a card from their hand to play. They DO what it says whether picking a block for the tower, using a reverse card or using a pass card.

3. Next player clockwise goes and does the same. They can play any card as long as the block on the card is still available to be used. They stack their block on top of the beginning tower block. 

4. The tower must remain standing for the count of 3. If it does, play moves to the next person. If the tower does fall while they are putting their block on, after they put their block on or within the 3 count, they must take 3 cards from the deck. They then play an action card to move on.

5. The play continues until someone plays their final action card--it has to be a tower block card--and the tower remains standing.

Even my 5 year old was able to play this game--though he sometimes had issues with not being steady enough to place his block. Here are some photos from the towers we've built while playing the game!
So far seven out of nine is the tallest our tower has ever gotten! It's really fun to play and we look forward to playing it with my parents this coming weekend. Maybe we can get it to all nine blocks tall?!

We decided to tackle Tapple next. The first thing I needed to do was add 2 AA batteries to the Tapple wheel so that the timer would work. I was please to see there was an on-off switch for the game. I also love that the cards for the game are stored in a little compartment next to the batteries under the wheel. This is great for storing the game itself!
The game of Tapple is simple. You pick a category from the game cards which are double sided. One side has more easy categories while the other side has more challenging themes. Once you pick a theme, the game begins.

1. The person with a first initial of their middle name closest to A goes first (silly huh?!). 

2. The category is read and then the red button is hit starting the 10 second timer. The first person has 10 seconds to name something that relates to the category--AND it has to begin with a letter around the wheel. Once they say their word, they push down the letter that matches the first letter of their word, and hit the timer to restart it.

3. They pass the Tapple wheel clockwise and the next person has 10 seconds to think of a word or idea that goes with the theme--again pushing down the letter that matches the first letter of their word. This process continues until either someone cannot think of something in their 10 seconds, or all the letters are pushed down.

4. If all the letters get pushed down, the next round continues by sliding over the yellow ring to release the letters. Now each person has to say TWO things that match the theme--and again has to be available letters on the Tapple wheel--within the 10 seconds. This continues as before until all the letters are used up or someone cannot beat the timer.

5. Last person standing wins the game.

We played this a few times. It took some help from me for the boys since their spelling isn't quite good enough yet to know what letters start their words at times. Baby Britches even did well--though we allowed him 2 pushes of the red button to come up with his word. I think we did the best with the categories: In the Fridge/Freezer, In the Jungle, and Animals

I can't wait to try this in a party setting with adults because I think it will be quite loud and exciting!

What Are Our Thoughts on This Product?

Both boys really like the games, though they say that Tapple is their favorite. They ask to play it A LOT! They like Wonky, but say they want to play it with more people besides us to make it more fun.

I agree that these games are fun! I think that they make great family games, but they make ESPECIALLY fun party games. I look forward to trying them out with just adults.

Both games are easy to play right from the box. Each game is made of high quality materials--especially the game cards. Both games are easy to store, even without their respective boxes. They are definitely able to be played by children younger than the proposed ages--with help. I love how colorful each game is as well.

I do have a "I wish it did" for the game Tapple. I wish that it was possible to just release the last button pushed down instead of all of the letters. We had some "whoopsies" where the boys accidentally hit the wrong letters, but we had to just keep playing because we can't reset a letter without resetting the whole wheel.

Would I Recommend this Product?

Yes! They are great family friendly games and good for even the kids to play. My only concern is the pricing. I think that $19.95 is a bit steep for these games--I think the $10 to $15 range would make them more reasonable for what you are receiving with them. But they are great games and they are worth the buy because they are just fun!

Want to Know More?

We reviewed Tapple: Fast Word Fun for Everyone and Wonky: The Crazy Cubes Card Game from USAopoly. You have seen how we have enjoyed these games...but make sure you check out what the other crew members thought!

 USAopoly Review
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We are heading to a beach house with family this weekend, and these two games will be going with us! I look forward to even bigger family game nights when we play with the grandparents and my brother! I hope to have even more photos to share later this week!
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September 21, 2015

Daniel Boone ~ Unit Study from YWAM Publishing {Product Review}

We love history--I've said that many times in previous posts. And lately, Little Britches has decided he adores biographies (Yay!). I was very happy to be picked to review one of the books from the Heroes of History series by YWAM Publishing and wasn't very surprised when Little Britches decided on Daniel Boone: Frontiersman. We DO live in Kentucky just 2 hrs east of Fort Boonesborough you know...LOL.

Daniel Boone: Frontiersman...a Unit Study product review

Product Summary

YWAM Publishing is known for their fabulous biographies on famous men and women throughout history. Two of their most popular series are Christian Heroes: Then and Now and Heroes of History.
The Christian Heroes series focuses on men and women who were instrumental for spreading the word of God throughout the world--people like Amy Carmichael, C.S. Lewis, D.L. Moody, Jim Eliot, William Carey and more! Heroes of History focuses on the famous men and women who shaped our world no matter what time period they lived in--people like Daniel Boone, Harriet Tubman, Clara Barton, Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Carson and many more.

The biographies are geared towards the 10+ age group and there are Unit Study Curriculum Guides available for many of them--turning these biographies into homeschool curriculum.

The paperback biographies are available for $7.50, while the Unit Study Curriculum Guides cost $5.49 (downloadable) or $7.49 (physical CD). Beware though that they are phasing out the physical CD and moving to exclusively offering the downloadable--so you won't find the physical CD option for all of them.

We were given 40 biographies to choose from, and Little Britches decided he wanted to review Daniel Boone: Frontiersman, from the Heroes of History series. We were also given a physical CD of the Unit Study Curriculum Guide to review.

How Did I Use the Product?

I was eagerly waiting for this to show up, and when it did, I was happily surprised to see that the curriculum unit study came as a CD, as I was expecting a digital download! When I opened it up on my laptop (I use Windows 8 and didn't have any issues), I discovered there was a lot of information on the CD for my perusal, but it was very easy to find the curriculum unit study. I clicked on it and saw that I had the option to either open and print from the pdf, or download it to my computer. I opened the pdf and discovered it was going to be much easier to just print out what I needed and leave everything else to be perused as needed. The unit study was in two parts--the second part simply had the four pages of the appendix which was the maps.

Once I had everything printed I looked through it and noted what was to be done from the beginning, while the book was being read, and what needed to be done after the book was completed.

For this curriculum, I decided to simply begin with the book as a read-aloud and then work through the comprehension questions for each chapter. To keep track of our answers, we used a composition book .

It was suggested by the curriculum that younger students might do best with the first 3 of the 6 comprehension questions for each chapter. After looking over the questions, I decided this was a great idea and using the notebook, copied down the first three questions for each chapter before we read the book. The first question is always a vocabulary word from the reading--with instructions for them to look it up and then use it in a complete sentence. 

I had Little Britches use his dictionary since we have been following this method for our other vocabulary words. Some of the words had more difficult to understand definitions, so at times I had to translate what it meant--and give guidance for the sentence. We also found that if we re-read the sentence the term is used in within our chapter, this helped with comprehension. I appreciated having each vocabulary word's location noted on the question.

Once Little Britches recorded his answers for the other two questions, I encouraged him to orally answer the other three more difficult and open ended questions. This worked very well for us.

There were a few other activity pages--like a bio, timeline, and maps--which I chose to work into our study here and there. I decided to save the larger projects for later, possibly waiting until we finished the book before we did them.

After seeing the length of the chapters, I decided we would work through a chapter each day--and we worked on it 2-4 days each week. To begin with, I read each chapter aloud, but as we continued, I decided that the reading level was on par with where Little Britches was at, so I would have him begin our readings every time from that point on. He usually read 3 pages and then I would take over and finish the chapter. This system has worked well for us.

The first activity that we did, was to guide Little Britches through researching the details of a flintlock gun. We went to the library and did some research using the books and encyclopedias they had. He drew a diagram of the gun, labeling the parts.
Drawing the firing mechanism
The next activity we are going to tackle will be a craft stick fort. We aren't done with the book yet (but we are close) and when we are done we will work on the fort. It will really help that we have actually BEEN to Fort Boonesborough and have REAL photos for him to reference.

This was great since one of the ideas was to (if possible) take a trip to Fort Boonesborough, so we took a "visual" one and enjoyed looking at our photos again.

The original site of the fort right by the Kentucky River

The back entrance to the Fort Boonesborough replica...opens to the stockade

Front Entrance to the Boonesborough
As of right now, we are on Chapter 16. I think we will finish the book in a week or so.

What Are Our Thoughts on the Product?

Little Britches: "I loved learning about Daniel Boone and doing the projects, but I don't really like writing down the questions or looking up my vocabulary."

I think this is a very comprehensive history/literature curriculum. It would be easy to use these books and coordinating Unit Study as a full curriculum--if you purchased several of them for your school year. Our book has 19 chapters, and even at 2 to 4 chapters a week, has provided me with about 6 weeks of work! The program is very full and allows for you to add as much as you want--and to spread the learning throughout other subjects. There is so much information and ideas in the unit study--more than you would ever use with one child. It is NOT open-and-go which might deter some, but I am use to unit studies and know that they are giving you far more information than you would ever use so you can pick what will work best.

I think that this book on Boone is more graphic in the descriptions of conflicts with Indians than others for children/teenagers--as it does talk about lightly the type of torture done when someone was captured. I think it was done..tastefully (if I can even use that word) where it brings it out without dwelling on the gruesome aspects. But it does let the reader know these things happened. I didn't have a problem with reading it aloud, though we did do some extra talking about it.

I appreciate that this curriculum is on a CD, so that I don't have to download anything to my computer. I like that it has some extra links where you can learn more about Daniel Boone or Boonesborough online.

So will we continue to use this program?
I have every intention of finishing this book, continuing to use the unit study guide papers for our comprehension questions and projects. I think it's a great unit and I plan on saving it for future use.

Would I Recommend This Product?

Yes, I would recommend this product. I would especially recommend it if someone is looking to combine subjects AND teach multi-age levels. I believe that this product allows you to do that very well. If you follow all the areas of the unit study, you will have social studies, arts and crafts, science and more! It is easily adaptable for different ages making it a cost effective option.

I do think this product is definitely for the recommended 10+ age group with its more advanced story and information (like the less than nice aspects of indian and settler relations). I would put the book at a 5th grade+ reading level.

Want to Learn More?

We reviewed Daniel Boone: Frontiersman book ($7.50) and Unit Study Curriculum guide ($5.49) from the Heroes of History series by YWAM Publishing. You have seen how much we have enjoyed it, so why don't you check out what books the rest of my review crew explored?!
YWAM Publishing Review
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Now that we have explored the life of Daniel Boone, we are eager to make the trip back to Fort Boonesborough again to see it through new eyes! It will mean so much more to us, as we walk the fort, see the artifacts, and stand on the ground that Daniel Boone once stood! And I was happy to note that Little Britches STILL wants to read a biography about Daniel Boone on his see what THEY have to say. It also made him eager to dive into his biography he has from the library on Simon Kenton--another famous explorer who unbeknownst to us was a friend of Daniel Boone too! I love it when our curriculum spurs on the love of more learning!
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