Marie’s Words–A Timberdoodle Review

100_9877Words are the medium through which we share thoughts, present ideas, and communicate.  Having a solid grasp of word meanings and the ability to use them in conversation and writing helps both students and adults to effectively reach out to those around them.  As a member of the Timberdoodle Blogger Review Team I was given the opportunity to review Marie’s Words: Picture Words – In a Flash, a product that makes advanced vocabulary approachable and fun.  Maries WordsMarie’s Words is a deck of 550 SAT-derived vocabulary cards that use full-color, hand-drawn illustrations to help children recall the meaning of each word.  Some of these illustrations only make sense when you read the other side of the card, but most are obviously linked and easy to understand.   Maries Words Card FrontsFrom left to right beginning at the top these cards represent:

  1. penultimate
  2. cantankerous
  3. fickle
  4. nomadic
  5. aerial
  6. maverick
  7. adorn

On the reverse of each card students have a host of information at their fingertips:Maries Words Maverick.17

  • The word and it’s phonetic pronunciation.
  • Definition and part of speech for the word.
  • The word used in a sentence.
  • A list of synonyms.
  • A list of antonyms.

I love that so much is on the back of each card.  The student is not just given a word and definition, they are shown how to use it in a sentence.  They are given words that could replace it in a sentence, offering the intrepid linguist a starting place for creating more cards once they master the 550 Marie’s Words cards.  

Students can begin expanding their vocabulary from an early age by studying just one word per week.  Middle school and high school ages can expand their study to several cards per week utilizing all the extras on the back of each card.  Marie’s Words are an easy, measurable way to add vocabulary studies to the day.Maries Words Penultimate.17Cards come alphabetized, numbered, hole punched for adding to a ring, and instructions on how to use the cards in a simple game are included.  They are ready to go right out of the package.  My 11 year old daughter thought the illustrations made studying vocabulary fun and kept adding cards to her personal pile because she couldn’t wait to see another picture. 

I’ll be honest, I do not believe an intense study of vocabulary is necessary in elementary school.  I believe a literature-rich environment where a child listens to and reads living books will go far in building vocabulary banks in our children.  However, as a child is ready to tackle more advanced literature independently or if they enjoy playing with and exploring the English language Marie’s Words becomes a fun and effective tool to develop vocabulary skills. 

Would I invest in it for a 1st grader?  No. 

Do I think it’s a great fit for my 6th grader?  Yes!

Remember, you can request a free homeschool catalog from Timberdoodle to explore more of the products they offer.  They even have a full line of homeschool curriculum for babies through high school!

{Disclaimer: I received Marie’s Words free in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions presented herein are my own honest thoughts.}

Morphology game – A Timberdoodle Review

morphologyMy family loves playing games, and some of our favorite games are those that require creativity to play.  When Timberdoodle asked if we wanted to review something from their 2011 Gift Collection we were happy receive Morphology to play.  Now, I’ll be honest, according to the box Morphology is for ages 13 and up.  None of my 6 children have reached that age but I still thought we could make it work – and I was right! 100_7709Morphology’s box is filled with a variety of materials, more than 60 pieces in all:

  • Glass beads
  • Mini popsicle sticks
  • Small colorful wooden blocks
  • A thick string
  • Wooden pawns
  • and more!

100_7706Players divide into teams and choose a colored frog to place on the game board.  On your team’s turn the Morphologist of the round draws a card from the 600 possibilities.  This card tells them what image they need to create using the materials in the box like a puppeteer would, trying to get your team to guess the word before the timer runs out. 

Words range from easy to hard, and here are some examples we created: 100_7715spider

100_7717street light

100_7712windmill

The game has a few twists.  You see, when a team answers correctly they move their frog to the next lily pad on the board.  Some of these lily pads have the word “Roll”.  When you are on those you must roll a die and use the chart on the board to determine changes.  100_7702Possible consequences include:

  • Building the word with your eyes closed.
  • Building only with your non-dominant hand.
  • Building with limited materials, such as only 5 pieces or even only the string.

Remember that I said the game is meant for ages 13 and up?   The only real challenges we found when playing with younger children are the short time given for each turn (easy to fix, use the timer twice in a row if needed) and having non-readers (we sent them out of the room with a reading helper to read them the word from their card).  We divided into two teams and split the ages evenly with one adult and a mix of younger and older children on each team.  Everyone had fun even when there were lots of laughs at our attempts to communicate through building. 

The only other thing I noticed that many of the building materials are very small, a choking hazard, so we made sure to watch closely that no materials found their way into little mouths.

All in all, Morphology was a hit at our house!

{Disclaimer: We received this game free to review from Timberdoodle.  All opinions presented herein are my own.}

Buddy Blocks Review

buddy blocks themesWhat do you get when you combine wooden blocks and animal puzzles?  You get Buddy Blocks!  Timberdoodle offers three themes of Buddy Blocks: Farm, Backyard, and Jungle – we received the Jungle theme.  They come as a part of the Toddler Curriculum Kit and are intended for ages 18 months and up. 

Buddy Blocks are made of all-natural rubberwood blocks and painted with six animals in a non-toxic paint.  The four blocks come in a wooden storage tray that is painted with the likeness of the six animals the child will find on their blocks.  This was very helpful for my children as they were trying to put together each animal.  100_7021For my littlest learner the blocks are an exercise in stacking.  Caleb has recently discovered he can put things in and out of containers, so the storage box is an easy practice spot for that.  The blocks will grow with him, so they’ll get lots of use in the next several years.100_7028For my not-so-little learners the puzzles become the main attraction as they try to find the four parts for each animal in turn.  Oliver can usually find the parts for one animal, but I have to say  the blocks are still too difficult for my 2 year old to actually build the entire animal.  100_7033He is only 2, so I’m not surprised.  He enjoys playing with the blocks anyway.100_7037It took a few days before my 3 year old was confidently puzzling away, but now he’s quite good at making any of the animals.  His favorite is this one: 100_7041My children also enjoy making up their own half and half animals, which leads to discussions of fractions (is that half a monkey or only 1/4 monkey?).  100_7044I think a great way to add another level of challenge in the future would be to have a second set of Buddy Blocks in another theme.  Then my children would need to pay even more attention to the details to decide which four pieces out of the eight hold parts of the animal they want to build.  We just may purchase a set of Buddy Blocks in the farm theme as a special addition to our homeschool supplies for the current preschooler.  I love the durability as well, these blocks will last through my rough and tumble boys beautifully.

{Disclaimer:  As a member of Timberdoodle’s Blogger Review Team I received a free set of Buddy Blocks in exchange for a frank and unbiased review.}

Purpllinker Review

purpllinker stock photoTimberdoodle has so many fun and educational products for little children, and today I get to tell you about our experiences with another one.  The Purpllinker is a hands-on tool children can use to practice letters, numbers, and shapes, and is part of the Preschool Curriculum Kit

Just what is a Purpllinker?  Remember the old wooden carpenter’s ruler that folded out for measuring?  The Purpllinker is similar, with seven lengths of lightweight plastic riveted together.  100_6863These arms are easy to move for little ones, but stiff enough that they will hold the position they are put in to make a shape.  My little ones have all had fun playing with the Purpllinker, but Daniel has been the one who uses it to create letters and shapes. 100_6868He really enjoyed playing a game with mommy where I would say the sound a letter makes and he had to make that letter with the Purpllinker.  He got quite adept at making uppercase letters, so I think we’re about ready to work on using it for lowercase letters.

The weakness of the Purpllinker is something the rivets themselves.  If two children are trying to see who can have it (read: pulling on both ends to take it from each other) they loosen the rivets enough with the twisting that the Purpllinker no longer holds the position on the rivets that have been stretched the wrong way.  It’s not something you can tighten to fix.  My best suggestion to avoid this is to ensure only one child is using the Purpllinker at a time, only getting it out when you’re ready to work with the child.  However, that takes a lot of the fun out of it because they’re not free to pick it up and practice without mom getting it out.

While I think the Purpllinker is a fun tool, it’s not sturdy enough to stand up to a family with so many little ones wanting to use it at the same time.  Winking smile  You can check out this and other products for your family in Timberdoodle’s free homeschool catalog.

{Disclaimer:  We received a free Purpllinker from Timberdoodle to review.  We received no other compensation and all opinions are honest.} 

Timberdoodle Review–3D Feel and Find–Toddler Core Curriculum

Life is full in our homeschool.  I am currently mother to a 5th grader, a 1st grader, a Kindergartener, a Preschooler, a Toddler, a 6 month old baby, and I’m pregnant with baby number 7.  One of the challenges I face daily is what to do with my little ones during our homeschool time, when they want to be a part of all the fun and are not really old enough to participate in much.  When Timberdoodle gave me the opportunity to choose an item from their Toddler Core Curriculum to review I was a very happy woman!  I received the Guidecraft 3D Feel and Find as well as the Toddler Planning Folder. 

My 2 and 3 year old boys have loved the 3D Feel and Find.  Inside the cloth bag are 20 rubberwood shapes with 20 puzzle boards.  The puzzle boards have a bit of extra room for each piece to fit, making it easy enough for my 2 year old to have success doing puzzles all by himself.  I love that this is a sturdy tool that will last through multiple children!100_6159We’ve played with these a lot of different ways.  First we did the puzzles.  I found that for my 2 year old Oliver it is important to only offer him a few puzzle boards and pieces at a time.  When the entire set is out he has trouble finding what he needs.  His big brother Daniel needs the challenge of using the whole set at once though.100_6169We’ve done a guessing game by putting a few of the wooden shapes into the bag.  A child reaches in the bag and feels a shape.  They then try to guess what shape they have before they pull it out. 100_6165Sometimes the boys just want to play with the wooden shapes.  They act out things with the animals and trees, or they try stacking them into crazy towers. 100_6176Another way we have used the 3D Feel and Find is for learning and practicing colors.  With Oliver we simply ask him what color a shape is, or to find a green shape.  Daniel takes it further and sorts the pieces into piles by color.100_6177Let me share a little bit about the Toddler Folder as well.  Inside this folder are pages of information with ideas for using each of the items in the Toddler Core Curriculum.  There are articles about teaching young children through play, homeschooling, and even disposable toys versus childhood tools. 100_6180Another helpful page in the folder is a recording sheet that lists the components of the Toddler Core Curriculum and has day of the week boxes to check off when you use an activity.  I really like this because in a glance I can see what activities have been used recently, as well as remind me of all the options we could be using that week.  It would be easier to get a variety of activities in this way because I would see when we were getting in a rut.  Guess what – the Toddler Folder is available free as a PDF, so you can read the articles and see the recording sheet yourself by clicking here.

Timberdoodle offers Complete Curriculum Packages for babies through 10th graders.  While you may or may not be looking for a complete curriculum, their packages are a great place to gather ideas for age-appropriate materials.

{Disclaimer:  I received these materials free to review as a member of Timberdoodle’s Blogger Review Team.  I received no other compensation and all opinions presented herein are my own.}

A Kid’s Guide to Drawing the Presidents of the USA–A Timberdoodle Review

whole art president setThe whole series.

One of the things we love about unit studies is the opportunity to combine subjects under one topic.  When Timberdoodle offered to let my family review one book in the “A Kid’s Guide to Drawing the Presidents of the USA” series we jumped on the chance.   Combining history  and art curriculum in one, the series of 42 volumes will take your family through the life, times, and key events from George Washington to George W. Bush’s presidencies.  Originally over a thousand dollars for the set, Timberdoodle has a limited supply of these sets for only $195.00.  abeA few titles are available individually for $9.95 as well, including the one we received: How to Draw the Life and Times of Abraham Lincoln.  It was rather convenient to receive this volume as my children had studied the Civil War in the fall and were already familiar with good old Abe.  We snuggled up on the couch and read about Lincoln.  The book covers his life from childhood through death by first beginning with two sections that give you an overview of life before and during his presidency.  There is a timeline, glossary, and website list in the back of the book for more information. 

The rest of the book is laid out like this:

100_6020On the left is a photograph of an item related to Abraham Lincoln with the story, while on the right page you see step-by-step instructions to help you draw the item yourself.   Each step is explained in text AND shown by red lines.  On subsequent steps the newest lines to add are red, while the previous lines drawn are shown in black. 

Some of the things you’ll draw with this book are:

  • A log cabin.
  • Lincoln’s desk when he was a lawyer.
  • A banner used during his campaign for presidency.
  • Abraham Lincoln himself.

After reading a few pages to my oldest four children (ages 9, 6, 5, 3) we gathered at our table to draw.  We chose to draw Lincoln’s desk when he was a lawyer.  100_5993To make this work for a group of children I used a small dry-erase board to illustrate each step, keeping the book in front of me.  I read the explanation and then demonstrated it.  My oldest would have easily been able to do this on her own with just the book, but we like working as a group as much as possible at our house.5.19My children worked at their own level, following my demonstration or playing with their pencil (my 3 year old, who insisted he wanted to draw while his younger two brothers were napping).  Want to see the finished products?

100_5985Makayla’s drawing – she’s 9.

100_5988Joseph’s drawing – he’s 6.

100_5990Emma’s drawing – she’s 5.

What We Thought
The information pages themselves are well-written and worked in a read aloud situation easily.  My children loved seeing photos, especially of the items they were going to draw.  The art portion of the book works well with the combination of instructions and new lines shown in red.  Our only complaint -  In trying to keep the books at a certain number of pages the publisher kept each art project to one page.  This makes the illustrated instructions rather small, with too many lines added at once for the more detailed drawings.  It would have been better to give the more detailed drawings two pages of space with more steps to break down the drawing even more.  If you’re looking for a fun addition to your American history studies then check out this and other history curriculum available through Timberdoodle.

{Disclaimer: As a member of Timberdoodle’s Blogger Review Team I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions presented herein are my own.}