Thursday, September 20, 2007

Card Game Review: Bella Sara

When it comes to trading cards my kids have been through most of them. Pokemon? Two boys hooked. Yu-Gi-Oh? All three kids are into those even now. Digimon cards? Yep, we’ve done that too. While my daughter goes with the flow and plays the cards with the boys, I’ve never really found any exciting girl's (or neutral gender yet including the girls more) trading card games. That is until now.

Bella Sara trading cards were created for a girl named Sara by her amazingly talented mother. How great is that? From what I’ve read, Sara, is a horse fanatic and this was her mother’s way of giving her something new and wonderful having to do with horses.

What impressed me almost as much though was this sentence from their About page, "Bella Sara is an imaginative, joyful world of horses, where every girl is special and uniquely beautiful"! WOW, that is so nice to hear in this day and age of BRATZ and ads that aren't exactly healthy for our girls.

Each pack of cards comes with 5 cards and 1 game card. Immediately after opening the card packs sent by Bella Sara they were gone. My daughter is that fast? No, actually it was her and my four year old son who came in and out like tornadoes grabbing the cards! Yes, the youngest boy is immensely hooked on the cards as well.

Bella Sara cards feature horses in all forms- regular horses, magical horses, winged, and even horse hybrids. Not only that but they actually learn about horses as they use the cards. Even better still is the fact that Bella Sara has incorporated their cards into their website in a really neat way!

After buying a pack of the cards (easy to find at Wal-Mart, Target, etc) you can go online to register your horse in your very own virtual stable. Each card has it’s very own authentication code at the bottom that you type in giving you access to the horse and it's fantastic stable. After registering the card you can go to your horse’s stable and do so many things like feed, water, groom, give an apple to, and change the hay for your horse which my kids found to be their favorite parts.

Once you have taken care of your horse it will be ready to play games and explore it’s world. You can play games, read the first chapter of the online Storybook, print Coloring Pages, and tons more! We still haven’t made it through everything on the site and every time we think we’re getting close they add something new!

Since receiving the Bella Sara cards to review I have had to buy four more packs for Sis and MonkeyBoy because they just couldn't wait to have more! Considering that the packs sell here for $1.89 per pack, I'm not complaining.

So if you have a little girl or even a little boy, visit Bella Sara's website and also look for their cards in stores. You won't be sorry and the sparkle these cards put in your child's eye is priceless.

*I have not been paid monetarily by Bella Sara to give this review. My only compensation is being allowed to keep the cards*

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Why I Love Homeschooling

My friend Summer over at Mom Is Teaching did a post on 8 Reasons To Love Homeschooling which I thought was pretty great. So I'm doing it here as well and encourage others to do the same. I'm not tagging anyone so don't worry. Just enjoy doing it if you wanna. ;)

8 Reasons I Love Homeschooling

1) When my kids were in public school we didn't get along very well. They were both extremely mouthy and disrespectful. Since we started homeschooling they have become so much more mature and appreciative of things in their lives. It's been amazing watching them actually grow each day. So many things I missed when they were little but now I get to enjoy these teen years.

2) I know my kids aren't being taught the crappy History and Geography lessons that I was in school. So little of actual importance historically is taught in school and by the time most of us graduate we couldn't recite the first line of the Constitution much less the first paragraph! With homeschooling I am able to share my love of history and geography with my kids and know that as adults they'll know where Madagascar is or what "The Plague" was.

3) I get to spend time with my kids. With my health being as yucky as it is most days I enjoy getting to be around the kids and make memories now. No mommy has to go to work or mom can't help right now. Laughing, talking, learning, reading, and enjoying each other's company now fill our days.

4) I really KNOW my kids now. I know what they like and dislike. I know who they have a crush on or who their best friend is. I am ashamed to say I didn't have time for those things as a single working mom so I am very thankful for this second chance.

5) Since my kids spend more time with me they are able to understand our disorder and the affects of it better. They see how it has affected me and the tests I take and know that if it's ever their turn for all this it will all be okay.

6) Not having to do the mad back to school shopping crap! I both loved and hated when it was back to school time. In a way it was fun to take the kids shopping for new stuff but it was never fun dealing with hordes of people or school supply lists. Now I just hit sales when I want to and enjoy the savings all year long.

7) FIELD TRIPS!! I never got to go on field trips with the kids when they were younger and now we can go on one whenever we want to. I love that! During our homeschooling time we've been to an ice cave and dormant volcano, a wolf sanctuary, a wildlife refuge, a pumpkin patch, several museums, the zoo, the botanical gardens, to the movies, hiking, and on and on. We've taken more trips in 2 1/2 years than they ever did in public school.

8) Getting to watch the youngest one start his homeschooling adventure right from the start. The difference in the way he learns and the way the other two were programmed to learn is amazing. No stress, no tears, and he doesn't have to sit still in a desk all day at the age of 4. I just wish I would have known about this when the other two were little so I could have guided them as well.

Those are MY eight things I love about homeschooling. Honestly? I think I probably could have kept listing things so it's probably a good thing this stops you at just eight. LOL.

Friday, September 7, 2007

A Real Post. Shocking I Know

I'm sorry to post back to back reviews on you. I like sharing with the rest of you great stuff I come across but I'm definately not turning this into a review blog. If you would like to see educational product reviews please keep checking my Sona Creidhe Reviews blog. I have 87 companies I'm doing reviews for and ALOT of great stuff to share with you.

Every review is my honest opinion and if I think something is junk I will tell you so. I'm not going to lie to you and say something is great if it quite frankly sucks. ;)

Our new year of homeschooling is going slowing. I've been so busy (and sick I'm afraid) that we've been piecing it together as we go. I'm happy to say though that Big B and Sis are actually doing work on their own now. Big B took a bunch of textbooks I got for free to his room and started going through them. I loved it when he said "Those are boring and leave out so much!". hehe My evil plan is working!!!! Just kidding. Sis is reading everyday and even doing MATH on her own. It's scary I tell you!

Thanks to doing reviews I have everything I need to teach MonkeyBoy this year. I still don't believe in organized school for kids his age so he is just enjoying playing with stuff as it comes in and he is learning so much. We received a Leapster from one company along with some other things and he is just learning in leaps and bounds with them all. He even showed me the other night that he knows numbers by sight now. *tear* I was so excited and it hit me so hard. Here I have been worrying over how to teach him these things in a fun way and he already knows!

So my little family is doing well. I hope to get on the ball with HSing very soon and I'm actually trying to do this thing called "ORGANIZING" this year. It's an amazing concept. hehe

Game Review: Pegs In The Park

*previously posted at Sona Creidhe Reviews but I wanted to make sure I share it with the homeschool community*

Recently JAX Games (also known as Jax LTD Inc) sent my family not one but TEN of their games to have fun with and then give our honest opinions on. Considering the games they sent, they made my job really easy.As soon as the games arrived, Lil Man went through them and his very first choice was Pegs In The Park.

The rules of this game are really simple- everyone chooses a Peg game piece, each player draws one of 44 cards with a positive or negative number on it during their turn, and then everyone moves their Peg the number the card shows either forward or back on their own path to be the first one to get to the Ice Cream truck in the middle.
Lil Man loved reading the numbers on the cards (which is something new for him) and he really liked competing against the rest of us.

Anyone who knows my youngest by now knows the kid won more times than anyone else on this game as well.

Pros Of This Game-

*Teaches number recognition and counting
*No reading to make it hard on younger kids
*No small game pieces for siblings to swallow (including dice)
*Competitive yet fun
*No name brand characters making you feel like a sell out
*Fun for some kids to even play alone (yes mine did that)
*A great addition for teachers or homeschoolers to a Unit Study on Counting, Number Recognition, or even Ice Cream. You could even intigrate it as part of a LapBook or NoteBook (homeschooling lingo)

Cons Of This Game-

*The pieces are a little hard at times for kids to put in the holes due to the fact that the holes are small and spaced close together.MY Advice? Maybe the company could make bigger bottoms on the game pieces and thus slightly bigger (maybe fewer) holes to put them in. This would make it easier for little hands to find the holes and fit in the pegs.

My honest opinion of this game is that it was fun and definitely educational as well. Jax Games has done well with this game- good price, being educational, and entertainment value.

Pegs In The Park is available at Amazon and most online board game stores. For more information about this and other games please visit their website.