Deuteronomy 6:6-7

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. ~ Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Friday, December 17, 2010

Tiny Planets

Okay explorers, are you ready to take an exciting voyage into space? Are you looking for a family friendly, award winning, educational, entertaining website for your 4-12 year old- that also happens to be free? Well, then Tiny Planets may be just the site you're looking for.

So, what is it? Tiny Planets is a website designed to teach and entertain children mainly in the subject of science. Our guides are Bing and Bong, two cuddly aliens who navigate our journey throughout space on a big comfy sofa. Along the way, they also educate us in caring for our planet, social responsibility, even math and literacy.

Let's get started, shall we? To begin with, you must set up your parent account. Then you'll get your children signed up into their own accounts. They are then assigned their own space themed cadet name, and password. Now you're ready to have some fun.

When you get to the main page, there are seven planets displayed, each one representing a different area to check out and play in.

Tiny Planets Home- This is the main page where you may choose what you want to try out.

Tiny Planet's TV- Click here and you can watch a video from the tiny planet's collection. My children enjoyed the little written story that precedes the videos, and summarizes the plot. It was good reading practice for them. By the way, the video series was co created by Sesame Street Workshop. Not that I'm a name dropper or anything...

My Tiny Planets- With your little space cadet, your child will choose from a variety of fun space themed activities, including, but not limited to, space missions with Bing and Bong, a variety of games, adopt a planet, fly their own spaceship, and more.

Tiny Planets Fun- Your child will visit this planet and try puzzles, coloring pages, and comics.

Tiny Planets Books- One of our family's favorite parts of this website! Choose from a selection of interactive books to listen to, or have your child practice reading- which is what we did with our kids. We especially love the characters called the flockers-very unique, but cute little creatures.

Tiny Planet's Learning-This planet contains a wonderful surprise-a cache of learning activities for you, the teacher. It is chock full of lesson plans, which cover a variety of themes, including self, nature, technology, light and sound, and more. Each lesson plan is geared towards the 3-5 yr.old, and has as story, discussion questions, science experiments, and a video. You'll also find printable sheets for math and letter practice. And it's free!

Tiny Planet's Labs- Care to play a game? Then click here and see what the creators are cooking up. They test out new ideas on this page. My oldest daughter and I loved the hide and seek game where we had to find the flockers with a telescope.

The really cool aspect of this site is its affordability. Even if you have no budget, everyone can afford free! So, if that's where you're at, enjoy all of this for zero dollars. If however, there's a little to spare, you can purchase "keys" through your parent account, which you may then distribute to your little cadets for further fun. This would include enhancing your games, the ability to really deck out your planet with cool buildings and more. You might also want to purchase additional books and tv episodes.

Overall, we really had fun with Tiny Planet's. The space characters are fun, and we especially loved the interactive books and games. I do feel that I must say however, that at first, the site was a little tricky to work with. I had to be right there with my 6 year old because some of the games were slow in responding as far as clicking and dragging the mouse goes. Also, there was one game that would not allow us to get started at all. But, that may have been the fault of my computer, I'm still not positive what the cause was. More importantly, my girls were very pleased with it all, and it was geared towards them, so...thumbs up from our family.

**Note** In exchange for free access to Tiny Planet's, I agreed to provide my honest review.

Tiny Planet's

Ages: 4-12yrs. old

Price: Free for basic access to the website, "keys" available for additional purchase, optional- check website for exact pricing

Don't forget to head over to the TOS Crew page for other reviews and homeschool resources.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Apologia - Good Morning, God

I love bookstores. Whenever I have the rare opportunity to wile away the afternoon, I usually head to the nearest bookstore. Once I arrive, my first stop is the children's section. Oh, how I adore children's literature! All of it, from the very silly to the classics, all hold appeal for me.

As a homeschooling mom, I especially appreciate those books that include within them, or at least allow for, extra activities. Which brings me to a lovely book that I had the chance to read over the past few weeks, Good Morning God, by Davis Carmen.

Actually, I don't think that it's enough to say that we read through the book. Good Morning God is more than a story. Depending on the way that you choose to use it with your family, it could fill in as a week long bible curriculum, which is the route that we took.

Let me begin with a general overview of the story. Aimed at children ages 1 to 8 yrs. old, this story contains a lot of repetition within, which my daughters really liked, as they quickly caught on how each page would start out, and they would then join in with me. For example, the book goes through the days of the week, beginning with Sunday, and each day starts with " Today is... I wake up with lots of energy." Each day focuses on a different way that the child in the story learns how to worship God with his family, and then ends with "Good night , Sunday, good night God" - or whatever the day was.

One of the first aspects of this story that drew my girls in was the beautiful illustrations - so peaceful and lifelike. The illustrator - Alice Ratterree - created a nice contrast on each page by drawing one page in color, and the opposite page in black and white.

At the end of the book, there are bible passages and various activities and questions for each day. I found myself amazed at the doors these opened with my children. We had some very meaningful conversations about spiritual topics, and it was enlightening on my part, to say the least. I loved hearing their heart's thoughts about God and heaven. They really looked forward to each day's activities, and asked first thing each morning if we were reading "our book" that day.

We began first by reading the book in its entirety, and then each day, we would re-read that day's page, and complete the corresponding questions, scripture verses, etc.. To make it even more fun, , we decided to compile all of their work into a little keepsake book.

To sum up, this book is a very worthwhile addition to our library. Although geared for the kids, I was ministered to just as much as, if not more than they were through the scripture and questions. The illustrations are so pretty, we've looked through it quite a few times already, and I'm looking forward to delving into it again soon. Check it out!

**Note** I received a free copy of the book Good Morning, God by Davis Carmen, and in return, agreed to provide my honest review of it.

Good Morning, God


Ages: 1-8 yrs.

Apologia Educational Ministries

1106 Meridian Plaza, Suite 220

Anderson, In 46016

Toll Free: 888-524-4724
Phone: 765-608-3280

Don't forget to check out TOS Crew homepage for more reviews and resources too!