Dec 13, 2017

My Little Preschool Box Review

I couldn't be more excited about today's featured review. As a homeschool mama, sometimes preschool tends to fall between the cracks. When Kingston was preschool aged, that was all that I focused on. We did lived and breather preschool! But now that Bentley is preschool aged, I find myself not focusing as much on doing separate preschool aged activities. He mostly spends his time following along with group activities or engaging in educational play. So, when I met the owner of My Little Preschool Box, I immediately fell in love with the concept, the methods behind it, and the fact that it is fully put together from start to finish by a local (to me) work at home mama of two littles. She has an education background and has worked extensively with preschool curriculum. We have tried preschool subscription boxes in the past, but My Little Preschool Box is so much more our speed!

Check out what came in the box that we were given to review (this is the January box - there are only TWO MORE DAYS to order this box!!! )

When you place your first order for the My Little Preschool Box, your receive that months themes along with the Starter Box. Inside the Starter Box you will receive a binder with inserts for each of the monthly themes, markers, crayons, a magic eraser, dry erase marker, and a watercolor set. Inside your binder you will receive some personalized and laminated sheets with your child's name on it, the entire laminated alphabet for them to practice tracing, laminated shape sheets for them to practice tracing, and laminated counting mats. You also received an entire rubric and assessment chart that shows you how to track your child's progress throughout the year, as well as sheets for you to do so. Your initial starter box retails for $45 and all subsequent boxes are $30 a month. My favorite part? There are no contracts, nothing that you are locked into. You simply order your box that month if you want to. If you don't, that's fine too. It's a pay as you go plan!

Here are some of the laminated sheets included inside. The name sheet is personalized with first name on the front and last name on the back! The magic eraser included in the Starter Box allows for super simple cleanup of your laminated sheets. 

Inside the binder, the themes are separated by clear inserts. Each month, you will receive the themes that you then tuck inside them. The themes for the January box are: Happy New Year, Polar Animals, Arctic Animals, and two weeks of Space! 

The weeks are broken up into daily activities. One activity per day is SO doable with a preschooler, and helps to make it engaging, but not overwhelming. Each week is broken down into music, math, art, literacy, and science. Each weeks also includes an amazing colorful suggested book list. These are such an amazing and thoughtful addition to the box. It makes it so easy to pop onto your libraries website and order books for each week or for the month as a whole. For this first theme, there was an informational sheet about New Years, a calendar to decorate, a math activity using fireworks and the counting mats included in the Starter Box, a 2018 tracing activity, and 2018 To Do List activity which is so fun for exploring the concept of resolutions with your little ones!

Week 2, Arctic, was chock full of information and activities. This week the kids will learn about blubber. There is a blubber information sheet included and a really fun science experiment. Every single thing needed is included inside this box! For the science project, there was a cold pack and a mitten included. For Math, an amazing felt fish activity with fishing pole was included. The art for the week is a Paper Plate Snow Globe craft. I can't stress enough how amazing it is to have everything prepped and included inside! 

Polar Animal week was the one that had Bentley most excited when we were going through (although honestly he wanted to do the entire box upon first sight!) It included a polar matching activity, a polar animal math activity with polar animal stickers, a polar bear mask craft, and a letter "A" hunt. Also included was a gorgeous Polar Animals Word Mat. These resources are so beautiful. I plan on laminating the word mat and hanging it up in our school room!

Bentley LOVES space, so we were more than excited when we saw that the January box had not one but TWO space weeks included. For this first week of space, your kiddo will be introduced the solar system. They will color a planet Earth, work on some star math, trace B's, and make a Model Magic Moon (how cute is that little flag that's included?)

For the final week of January, we will get into more space fun! Included in this week is a Space Shuttle Fact Sheet, a B is for Black sheet with ripped paper, a space art activity with watercolors, and a space memory game! 

(Below is a look at some of the shape sheets and counting sheets!)

Bentley has been absolutely loving doing his tracing sheets! The look of pride after he completes one is amazing. 

As we work our way through the box, he is constantly asking "Just one more activity? PLEASE!!!" You really can't get much better than that. This curriculum has him engaged, learning, and most of all having FUN!

Typically each month you have until the 20th to order your box, but this month due to the holidays the deadline to order your box is the 15th. That means you have 2 MORE DAYS to place your order! This month they have a special deal going on - order one box as a gift or a refer a friend and get 50% off your next box!

My Little Preschool Box can be found on Facebook and Instagram, and orders can be placed via Facebook. This box is the gift that keeps on giving! Supporting this company means supporting a TRUE family owned operation, and I can't think of anything better. 

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Nov 19, 2017

Must Have Preschool Games for the Holidays

(Amazon Affiliate links included for your convenience!)

The holiday season is fast approaching, and I have gotten a lot of questions about what are the best gifts for the 3-6 age range! Holiday shopping is my jam. I live for gift giving, especially when it's for my kids. But after several awesome Christmases filled with toys that are left collecting dust, I have vowed this year to only buy from the following categories: books, art, sensory, open ending building toys, open ended imagination toys, art supplies, and GAMES! 

Seriously, you really can't do better than wrapping some good quality games up for your kids! Not only are games engaging and educational, but they are the gift that keeps on giving. They can be enjoyed over and over again by your family throughout the year. 

Where should you start though? What games are great for younger kids? Well we have partnered with our friends over at University Games again to bring you a review of some great options! 

(Looking for ideas for toddlers - check out our ULTIMATE TODDLER GIFT GUIDE !!)

(Need a gift for the babies in your life?? - Check out our ULTIMATE BABY GIFT GUIDE !!) 

So lets get started! 

Super Why ABC Letter Game (This game is a SUPER steal on Amazon right now!!) 

We seriously couldn't WAIT to try this game! I have been wanting this one for my 3 year old for awhile now. We couldn't wait to get it setup. The instructions were easy to understand, and we were able to learn how to play fairly quickly. Plus, it came with awesome little finger puppets which kept my toddler entertained while we played! (Whoever came up with that was a genius!)

How to Play: 

The cards are set up into four different categories - 

Alpha Pig (Alphabet Power) Players point to the uppercase letter on the board that matches the lowercase letter on their card.

Wonder Red (Word Power) Players read the words or look at the pictures on the card and say another word or words that rhyme.

Princess Presto (Spelling Power) Players say the word pictured on the card and then point to the first letter or first two letters of the word in the center of the board. 

Super Why (Power to Read) Players either point to the word on the board that matches the picture on their card or point to the word on the board that should replace the underlined word on the card. 

To Win the Game: The game ends when all players reach the FINISH. Whoever has the most cards collected wins!

What we thought: 

We loved it! The 3 year old thought it was a blast, and I was surprised at how well he did. This game is going to be PERFECT for working on his letter recognition, beginning sounds, rhyming words, and more. I'm so excited to add it to our preschool curriculum as a regular Language Arts game! My 5 year old is a fluent reader so there was nothing here that could challenge him, but he still thought it was a fun game to play and he liked helping to teach his brother. 

How to Play: Players each pick a color of monkey. They place one monkey on start and one monkey on the bed. Each person takes turns spinning the spinner and moving their monkey. As they play, they must act out the different activities that the monkeys must do to get ready for bed (ex: brushing teeth, going to bed etc.) in order to collect their tokens. After each turn, they must press the red button on the corner of the bed. But be careful! The bed can pop back up and your monkeys can fall off!!

How to Win: The object of the game is to get all of your monkeys on the bed and to also collect 4 tokens. 

What we thought: The boys both thought this game was really fun (even my 2 year old nephew joined in!) It is colorful and there are so many fun components. The surprise factor of the bed popping up was exciting and we all may have shrieked a few times when it did! This game definitely worked on fine motor skills each time the boys tried to get their monkeys back onto the bed or to stand them up beside everyone else's monkeys. I also loved the acting portion. Not only did it build communication skills, but it also reinforced good bedtime habits. 

How to Play: This game was incredibly simple to set up and learn. It comes with a tray of cute little cupcakes. Everybody chooses a character from the Pete the Cat book series and places it on a Home space. Players spin the spinner and move around the board performing the following activities:

Dog space - name and animal and say it's sound
Food space - name a food that you think is yummy
ABC's - think of a letter and name something that starts with that letter 
Musical Note - sing a verse from a song

How to win: Players cooperatively win the game when all of the cupcakes are taken from Grumpy Toad's tray and are placed at Pete the Cat's birthday party. At the end of the game, everyone sings Pete the Cat Happy Birthday!

What we thought: The 3 year old liked it a lot!! He really liked all of the activities. It was fun to listen to him come up with animals, food, sing songs, and practice some letter and letter sound recognition. The 5 year old liked the Pete the Cat storyline and the components of the game, but  was not quite so impressed with the game as a whole. I think this game would be a perfect FIRST game for toddlers! I can definitely see this easily being played by a 2 year old. I see people asking about board games for that age range all the time, and this would definitely make a great gift for any 2-4 year old in your life!

How to Play: Game play is very simple, and perfect for little ones to understand. Players spin the spinner and move around the board trying to unite the baby animals with their mother. As they move, they are encouraged to count the number of animals and make the correct animal noises. You can move through holes in the fence, through the barn door, and across pastures. 

How to Win: This is a cooperative game (which we love!!) so players win as a collective team when they get all of their baby animals back to their mamas. 

What we thought: This board is absolutely gorgeous! When I first opened the package, the first thing I noticed was how nice the components were. It definitely has the cherished Eric Carle feel through and through. We love cooperative games, and they make great first board games for little gamers. This is definitely another one that would be perfect as a toddler's first board game. My 2 year old nephew loved moving the animals and making the animal noises. Little ones get practice counting and identifying baby and mama animals. The 2 and 3 year old played pretty independently which was wonderful!

Happy Hats Beginning Reading Game (This game is SOOO cheap right now on Amazon!! Grab a copy for all of beginner readers on your holiday list this year!!) 

How to Play: Players select their Bob books character and spin the spinner. As they move around the board and land on letters, they try to build words using the ending cards in their hand. If they land on a vowel spot, they find a card in their hand that starts with the vowel letter and puts it next to it. If they land on a q space, they move ahead one, and if they land on the x space they lose a turn. 

How to win: The game is over when all players reach the end, and the player with the most hat cards wins!

What we thought: I was so excited to try out this game! It's been on my wish list forever. We loved it!
 This is a MUST HAVE to accompany all of your Bob books. The components are awesome, and I love the authentic Bob books feel to the game. We are huge fans of the series, and I'm so excited to use this game in our homeschool as Bentley learns to read! My oldest loved encouraging and helping his brother along the way. This and the Super Why game will definitely be played a lot as part of our preschool - pre-k curriculum! 

So I coudn't resist but include a game for the older kiddos in your life. This game is EVERYTHING! Seriously. It's a homeschoolers dream. We have been loving it so very much, and have played it a handful of times!

How to Play: Game play is simple and so fun! Players spin the spinner and answer the questions collecting chips on their SMART cards. Every time they collect three chips, they get a letter card. The first player to spell out SMART on their board wins. 

What we thought: If you can't tell by my enthusiasm above, we LOVED it! This is the perfect game for gameschoolers, and I'm so excited to have it as part of our homeschool. Kingston started off answering the 1st grade questions, but when I saw that he was easily breezing through all of them, I started asking him random grades. Some of the 6th grade questions even stumped me, but he answered a lot of them without issue! This is definitely a game that is going to grow with us and keep our attention for years to come. This was my personal favorite out of all of the games I talked about in this review, and it was definitely Kingston's favorite as well!

Thank you to University Games for providing us with these great games. All thoughts and opinions were our own. Stay tuned in a couple of weeks for another game review post focusing on MATH GAMES! 

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Oct 22, 2017

Gameschooling with University Games

If you've been following us for awhile now, you know that we are homeschoolers! Although we've been homeschooling for the past 3 years, we are always changing, adding new things in, and switching everything around to accommodate our little learners. Recently, we stumbled upon "gameschooling". (If you want to learn more, head over to our very favorite gameschooling blog - fellow New Hampshire homeschoolers: My Little Poppies - seriously you could get lost over there for DAYS!) Our kiddos love to game, especially our oldest. Kingston is a born gamer! While I get kick back for doing certain "school" things with him sometimes, I never ever get any flack for playing games. The amount of learning that takes place while playing games is absolutely amazing! What's even beter, there are games about EVERYTHING. There are games for every single subject. We have been incorporating a lot of games into our school day in place of some of the more boring and tedious sit down work. 

We recently partnered with the amazing University Games to showcase some of their fabulous products! They sent us some amazing titles: I Spy Dig In, Race Across the USA, Totally Gross, and Kids on Stage. My kids were literally chomping at the bit to dig into these games. (Note: my kiddos are 3 years old and an advanced 5!) 

Dexterity - I Spy Dig In
We are ALL about working our fine motor skills over here! (Don't believe us? Check out our books 99 Fine Motor Activities for Ages 1-5 and 100 Fine Motor Ideas for Parents, Teachers, and Therapists) This game surprised me BIG TIME! When I first saw it, I thought, "Man that's going to be way too easy!" I like to have games in the house that have great replayability. Well I was SO surprised with this one - both with how FUN it was and how HARD it was! This game doesn't just work fine motor skills, it is the ultimate game for hand-eye coordination. I was personally challenged during it. I loved that both my preschooler and first grader were able to both play together and be challenged throughout. 

To Play: Each player gets a card and a turn to find their 6 images. But, they have to beat the clock!! Play goes around as each player gets a solo turn to look for their objects. Then it becomes a free for all! We loved the frantic fun and challenge that this posed. Younger kids can get some great color and matching practice, while older kids (and adults!) will find themselves challenged to fill their cards in time. This is a great game to play in the morning before you start the school day! It's perfect for getting kid's excited, thinking, and moving. This game would also make the perfect gift for birthdays and holidays! 

Rating: 3 thumbs up from the 3 year old, 5 year old, and me!

Grab a copy of I SPY Dig In! 

Science: Totally Gross! The Game of Science
Oh my GOODNESS. If you are a homeschooler or have kids who like Science and/or gross things, you NEED this game! This is the perfect game to give as a gift. It covers SO much! The questions inside cover biology, chemistry, geology, astronomy, zoology, anatomy, and physics. We are so excited to be adding this to our science curriculum. 

My kids were SO excited to play this game that they asked me day in and day out until we sat down to play it. They were so excited that I had to shoot a quick picture of it before I took the plastic off the cards because I knew my oldest would be all over those cards! My youngest was obsessed with the slime aspect of the game. 

To Play: Each player chooses a kid from the center of the board to be. Each one gets a hunk of slime. There are two different kinds of cards - Professor Cards with questions and Totally Gross Cards where the player has to perform a "Gross-Out"! First one to stretch their slime to 10 wins the game! 

Rating: Thumbs up all around! My oldest especially loved the game. Since they are young, some of the questions stumped them, but I was surprised with how much they knew and what was even more awesome was how much they LEARNED. (We are big into Science over here.) 

See! Totally slime obsessed! I just love all of the hands on aspects to this game. Experiments, gross (and educational!!) questions, AND slime? Sold! 

This game also comes in a smaller travel version

Geography: Race Across the USA
We are always on the lookout for awesome geography games to add to our homeschool curriculum. This game is AWESOME, and the perfect addition to our USA unit. We love games like Scrambled States of America, but this one was so much more educational! I love games that are educational, but not in an obnoxious way. We have just started learning about the states, so this game was quite a challenge, but we all learned so much. Don't be afraid to make games collaborative for younger kiddos. Once I realized that the questions were a bit beyond my oldest's knowledge capacity, we worked together instead of against each other to play the game. 

To Play: One of my personal favorite things about gameplay is that different grade levels can all play together at their OWN level. This is HUGE for homeschoolers because we are often schooling multiple kids at different levels! I love that in the future they can all play together at their own level. The goal of the games is to visit each of their 6 states, collect a card for each, and make it back to their home state first. To do this, they have to correctly answer questions from each of the states on their cards. 

Typically I don't pay attention to the age suggestion on the front, but this is one of those games that I truly believe are best for the recommended ages! We will probably be putting it away until the end of the year when we have more USA knowledge under our belt. The kids had a great time just reading the cards and collaboratively playing together to get back to their states! And they LOVED the airplane playing pieces. 

Rating: The 3 year old wasn't interested, but the 5 year old and I both gave it a thumbs up! This is going to be an amazing tool and fun game for us going forward. 

Language and Literacy - Kids on Stage: The Charades Game for Kids
Ok. I'm going to gush now. THIS GAME PEOPLE!! We have never laughed so hard and had so much fun! This is not just your typical charades game. If you are looking for a game that makes your kiddos really think creatively about words, get some physical activity, and have a whole lot of fun, than THIS is your game. This one should be under every tree this Christmas for sure! This one will be our very top birthday game choice to give to all of our friends. The whole family had fun playing this one. 

To Play: Kids on Stage comes with a really cute board with a built in spinner. (Can we just talk for a second about spinners? How many games do you have that come with crappy spinners? I have quite a few, and they drive me CRAZY. This game is quality! This spinner works perfectly! Back on topic.) The cards are separated into 3 piles: animals, actions, and objects. You spin the spinner and move the amount of spaces shown. The card you choose is based off of the color you land on. Then you act it out! You can't talk, but you CAN make noises. If you haven't played charades with little kids then you are in for a treat. I haven't laughed so hard in a long time. 

I love that all of us could play and enjoy. We had a 3 year old playing with a great grandmother, and everyone enjoyed themselves. It truly made the kids think about words differently. I loved seeing the wheels turning as my oldest tried to figure out how he would described an umbrella or picking an apple off a tree. (This is him below acting out some kind of fish! I'm telling you, we died laughing!) This is one of those games we will be bringing out constantly as a mood brightener!

Rating: a SERIOUS thumbs up all around!! 

This game also comes in a smaller travel version

A big thank you to University Games for providing these games for us to review. All thoughts and opinions were our own! (We really were just THAT impressed!!) Check out their other titles. They have so many awesome quality games! 

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Oct 11, 2017

The Girl Who Thought in Pictures Book Review

This year we are focusing on a new scientist each month as part of a living science curriculum I've put together! This Amazing Scientists series by Julia Finley Mosca and published by the Innovation Press has been an awesome addition to that! This book: The Girl Who Thought In Pictures The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin has been such a fascinating read. 

These biographies are both engaging and factual for young children! The pictures are exquisite and the story is told in a flowing rhyme scheme that will have your kiddos listening intently. The story of Dr. Temple Grandin is fascinating. As a leading voice in animal science, my children found her story fascinating. They are huge animal lovers, so they truly enjoyed all of the details of her discoveries. 

Dr. Temple Grandin is such a strong, admirable female scientist. Being on the Autism spectrum, she has had to overcome many obstacles throughout her life. My children really enjoyed reading her encouraging story of perseverance. Her story is extra inspiring for families with children on the spectrum!

Dr. Temple Grandin's work was primarily with farm animals. This book would be an amazing addition to any farm unit study! I love incorporating relevant biographies with our units because it helps to make the study or science behind the topic more real to them.

Grab a copy of this book and the others in the series today, and make sure to check out all of the other books available by The Innovation Press!

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Sep 29, 2017

God Cares About My Body

As I discussed in my last post, my children are new to learning about God and the Bible. We recently started an amazing one hour Sunday school class courtesy of Mother Goose Time's Experience God curriculum. Everything you need to teach a successful class (or incorporate it into your preschool curriculum), is right at your finger tips. When working with three kids under five on a topic you are not very familiar with, the ease of this program was very much needed! 

We look forward to Sunday every week, because it's the only time during the week that we typically see all of our family. Since my nephew would be joining us, it made sense for us to decide on the one hour long Sunday school class over the other option of incorporating it into our daily homeschool curriculum. However, Mother Goose Time has both options mapped out in Teacher's Guide to accommodate all schedules! I set everything up for the boys down in my sister's basement, and we got right to it! 

Today we were focusing on "How does Jesus heal the sick?" We started by having the boys sit down with the included coloring page. While they colored, I showed them the included poster and had them point out Jesus. I love how kids always seem to just know, even if they have never really been introduced to Him! Then I read them the Story Card about Jesus healing the sick woman. They were very interested in what I was reading and listened intently. 

When they had finished their coloring pages, we had them do the Wrap Up the Pain activity. Using a roll of toilet paper, the boys took turns bandaging each other's "wounds". The toilet paper symbolized Jesus' love, and as they wrapped each other's arms, they discussed how they were healing each other through Jesus. 

The next activity we did taught about faith. Faith is a newer concept to my kids, and I LOVED how MGT tackled it. Using three bowls and a ball, I explained to them that the ball represented God. Then I put the bowl under one of the bowls and moved them all around. I asked them if the ball was still in there. Kingston said, "Yes of course it is!" Then I went on to ask him how he knew. He said "Because you put it in the bowl and didn't take it out, so it has to be there!" (Of course, he also knew exactly which bowl the ball was in, because he's Kingston haha!) I told them that God works the same way. Even though we can't see Him in the room with us, we know he is there. Faith is knowing that God is there even if we can't see Him. We talked about different family members and how we know they are there even if they live far away or we can't see them. By the time we were done with our discussion, they both really grasped the concept! 

The last activity we did was a craft: First Aid Kit for the Soul. The kids worked their fine motor skills by cutting out the words: prayer, love, and faith. Then they took the provided briefcase silhouette and decorated it. Bentley colored it and put his words inside. Kingston was very thoughtful about his drawings. He chose to make hearts for love, crosses for prayer, and birds for faith just like what was represented on the cards. Then he put his words inside. The idea behind the craft was that these were the things we needed to heal our soul: faith, love, and prayer. 

We ended the class by saying a prayer together! It was a great first Sunday school class, and I was blown away by how well MGT tackled the subject matter. There was actually one or two activities that we didn't end up doing included in this lesson too! The kids are looking forward to their next class, and it changed the entire mood of the boys for the day. 

As a Mother Goose Time Blog Ambassador, I receive Mother Goose Time curriculum in exchange for my honest and authentic stories resulting from our personal experiences. All opinions/thoughts are my own and are in no way influenced by others.

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