Category Archives: homeschool

Clumsy Thief Junior

A big thank you to Timberdoodle for giving us the opportunity to review Clumsy Thief Junior. The fast paced card game perfect for children learning their tens facts. Clumsy Thief Junior is currently a part of Timberdoodle’s Kindergarten Curriculum Kit.

Overview:

This card game consists of two phases. In the first phase, players match pairs of numbers from their hands to make sets of ten, which they then place face up in their playing field. Cards that make tens (9s and 1s, 8s and 2s, etc.) have matching fruit or vegetable pictures on them. The pictures help children who have not yet mastered the tens family and the repetition of seeing the numbers together will help them memorize these facts. During phase two, the rest of the number cards a player has in his/her hands can be placed on piles in the playing field, continuing to make tens. For example, if a 9 and 1 are played with the 9 on top, you may add a 1 to steal the pile. But watch out! Someone else can then add a 9 to steal the pile again. There are also raccoon cards that can be used to steal any pile and trap cards which can be played on raccoons to freeze the pile and stop any further stealing of that pile. Phase two is fast paced because everyone plays at the same time. You have to be quick. Play rotates between phases one and two several times over the coarse of the game. The player with the most number cards in front of them when the cards run out is the winner.

What the Beans thought:

Both Monkey and Mr. Man know their tens facts well, so we didn’t play the game in an attempt to teach this skill. However, they both still really enjoyed the game. Mr. Man was a pro at being ready to steal back any pile someone tried to take from him. He struggled a bit to remember which phase we were on and required some reminders in that regard. But, the more he played, the easier this became. Due to his processing delays, fast paced games are more challenging for him, but he did very well with this one. Monkey is currently struggling with competitive fast paced games as he’s at an emotional stage where he becomes very upset with any game he doesn’t win. Because brother is able to match wits with him on this game, he currently “hates it”. On the plus side, this creates the perfect scenario to help him work through these emotions, build his coping skills and practice proper social and emotional responses. Clumsy Thief Junior will make a perfect addition to the games we can use during therapy. It has definitely been one of the top choices in the house lately.

Something to note…

*When playing Clumsy Thief Junior, it is important to be mindful of table size. We have a large gaming table and found reaching across the table to steal piles of cards difficult. It would be much better played on a smaller table or closer together.

Disclaimer: Timberdoodle provided me with a free copy of Clumsy Thief Junior in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review and received no further compensation.

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The Beans Review Battle Sheep

If you know our family very well, you know we are big board gamers. Board games are an excellent way to learn a variety of skills, both academic and social. Mr. Bean has had his hand in the creation of a couple games and has a sizable collection himself. So, we were very excited when Timberdoodle gave us the opportunity to review Battle Sheep.

Battle Sheep is a fun strategy game found at Timberdoodle and is part of their 3rd Grade Curriculum Kit. My husband and I were immediately struck by the quality of the game components- very important to Mr. Bean (The Eclectic Bean) The board pieces are made of thick, durable cardboard and the sheep discs are a nice quality plastic chip. The idea of the game is to move your sheep across the board to claim pasture space. The player with the most pasture when everyone is out of moves (either because their sheep have been blocked in or because they are out of sheep) is the winner.

It was interesting to see the different responses we got when we played with Mr. Man (9) and Monkey (7). Mr. Man struggled at first to move his sheep in a straight line and needed a little guidance. He is also not a strategy game player. He struggles with processing and executive function, so he’s typically a reactive player. I was surprised to watch his persistence and perseverance shine through when playing Battle Sheep. He really enjoyed it and beat both Mr. Bean and myself! He has asked to play again, several times. Monkey is our thinker and planner. However, the game takes a few plays to figure out a strategy. Monkey did not win his first game (score: 12 to 14) and became upset, refusing to try again. I would have definitely thought this game would be more appealing to Monkey than Mr. Man, so i was surprised to find the opposite to be true. Hopefully, in time, Monkey will give it another try. Mr. Bean and I have also played a few times by ourselves and both found it to be a game we would continue to play.

Overall, 3 out of 4 Beans give Battle Sheep a big thumbs up. Because the board is different every game, Battle Sheep has high replayability. Also, any game that can be played with the kids but also enjoyed by adults alone is a great addition to any game collection. Be sure to check out Battle Sheep. Happy Gaming!

Disclaimer: Timberdoodle provided me with a free copy of Battle Sheep in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review and received no further compensation.

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Dr. Bonyfide: A Timberdoodle Review

We recently had the opportunity to review Timberdoodle’s Dr. Bonyfide presents Bones. This is a set of 4 books that teach your child the names of all the bones in the body. We are about halfway through Book 1: Bones of the Hand, Arm and Shoulder. This book has quickly become Monkey’s favorite science curriculum. He loves it! I never have any push-back when it is time for Dr. Bonyfide… that speaks volumes!

The entire family has shown interest in these books and have sat in for lessons as schedules align. In fact, I will probably go through them with Mr. Man as a summer activity. The books are engaging and fun. After only a few weeks, Monkey can confidently tell you the names of (and how many) phalanges in each hand. He WILL correct anyone who calls them fingers.

Monkey enjoys the idea that we share a special science language. He is now learning the names of the carpals. My 6 year old can independently spell Scaphoid. I love it! The activities in the book are repetitive enough to make the information memorable, but varied so they don’t become boring. Monkey loves the Mr. Bonyfide x-ray glasses and is always eager to use them to read the skeleton jokes.

Overall, these books are nicely put together and I am eager to work our way through the rest of the titles. They are fun and, most of all, he’s actually remembering the names of the bones. This set is definitely a winner in our home. I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in learning about the skeleton and the names of the bones.

Disclaimer: Timberdoodle provided me with a free copy of the Dr. Bonyfide Presents Bones book set in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review and received no further compensation.

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True Stories of War: A Timberdoodle Review

Mr. Man loves all things history/war related. He also loves his graphic novels. So when I had the opportunity to review Timberdoodle’s True Stories of War Graphic Novels 4-Book Set, I jumped on it. Mr. Man seemed excited when I showed him what I got and he quickly sat down to read. He asked a few questions about the first story and soon lost interest. His lack of interest truly surprised me. I sat down to find out why these were not the success I thought they would be.

Mama’s opinion…

The first thing I noticed was how the illustrations were different from other graphic novels that Mr. Man reads. He’s a very visual child, so my instinct says this is a big part of his disinterest. The colors are very dull and uninviting. I understand this was done purposefully to match the time period and mood of the topic, but this does not help draw in his interest. Two of the books (World War I and The Civil War) are done by a different illustrator and are a bit more colorful and interesting to look at than the other two.

The second problem I noticed is that the books give short snapshots of different key figures lives from the time period. This style of writing, while not inherently negative, makes it difficult for younger readers to follow since this is different from the normal flow of stories they are used to seeing. Even reading them as an adult, the tales felt very disjointed. I did like the excerpts given at the beginning of each story to explain who the person was and how they fit in with the events. However, I don’t think it was enough to help Mr. Man understand who the person was or why they were important to the event.

Overall, these books were a no go in our house. If a child isn’t interested in reading a book, it’s a pretty pointless read. That being said, there isn’t anything necessarily bad about them, they are an interesting approach to the various sides of meaningful events in history. It’s important for us to know our readers and Mama missed the mark on this one. For the right reader, these would be wonderful. They just weren’t for my reader. The recommended age range for True Stories of War is 3rd-9th grades. Mr. Man is at the end of 3rd grade. He’s a strong reader but does struggle with comprehension. I would recommend these books for children higher in the recommended age range. I definitely plan to hang on to these books to try again in the future. If nothing else, we can use them to reference some of the figures and events mentioned in them. They may not have worked for Mr. Man, but perhaps in a few years Monkey will find them enjoyable.

Disclaimer: Timberdoodle provided me with a discounted True Stories of War book set in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review and received no further compensation.

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World Scrunch Map: A Timberdoodle review

Monkey and I have been working really hard on learning the difference between a continent, a country and a state. I thought I would take a moment to review one of the products we are using to learn this. The World Scrunch Map, from Timberdoodle.com, is a fun little portable map that is designed to be used anywhere you explore. What is so unique about this map is that you don’t need to worry about little hands folding, creasing or otherwise destroying a beautifully made map. This map is made out of water and tear resistant material and is designed to be scrunched into its very own portable pouch, no need to fold! This beautifully designed political map measures 36 x 24 inches and is a great addition to any classroom.

 

Pros: There are so many! We really love this map. It’s durable, beautiful and easy to read. The boys love that it looks like an “adult” map and we love that we don’t have to worry about them destroying the “nice” maps. It scrunches so nicely into its cute little carry case, which hangs on a hook from our school cart. I also love how the map wraps around to show how one side connects to the other. This gives the children a better view and understanding of the bearing straight than a typical flat map.

Cons: I really don’t have many cons and even the few I have are minor. First, even though it says tear-proof, given to two boys who are fighting over it, the map can be stretched and distorted if pulled too much. (I’m talking extreme roughness here, not usual movement). So, while it’s tear-proof, it’s not indestructible. This is minor as I would expect most products to have a hard time standing up to our extreme boy behavior. For a typical child handling situation, it is plenty tough. Second, we own both the United States and World Scrunch Maps and I feel like the US Scrunch Map has more vibrant colors. I wish this one was a little more vibrant. Again, minor complaint.

Overall, we love this map. It’s beautiful, durable and stores great! At a price point of $9.99 it’s a great addition to our education! *Sadly, due to demand at the time of this post, this map is only available as part of the 2020 First-Grade Curriculum Kit and 2020 Nonreligious First-Grade Curriculum Kit (which are great kits, check them out!) Hopefully, this product will be available for individual purchase again, soon.

Disclaimer: Timberdoodle provided me with a discounted World Scrunch Map in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review and received no further compensation.

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Read Across the USA: A Timberdoodle Review

As we celebrate Read Across America today, I thought it would be fitting to post a review of the Read Across the USA Challenge Bundle that we have been working on over the past week. This reading challenge is put out by Timberdoodle and challenges students to read a book set in (or about a person from) all 50 states. The bundle includes a downloadable file that gives book suggestions from each state, a map to fill in for every state they complete and a list to keep track of what books they read for each state. You also receive a physical copy of a giant poster to color and create. The poster is a map of the United States and shows capitals, landmarks and interesting facts about the states.

What we thought?

Monkey LOVES reading and enjoys his United States puzzle, so this was bound to grab his interest. I used the tracking pages as a way to plan what books we would read and what books I needed to order from the library. Monkey used the small map to fill in each state as we read a book for it. He enjoyed this. He also enjoyed showing off that he already knew where some states were because he paid attention when doing his puzzles. To my surprise he was willing to color the poster page for Arizona (Monkey doesn’t color as a general rule). “I don’t do that!” Needless to say, we haven’t completed the poster because I don’t want to push it, but he did make an effort to color some of it. Hopefully, the interest in putting the giant puzzle together will entice him to complete more of it.

Cons: I wish there were more variety within the book suggestions. I found a lot of the suggestions were either very young or too advanced for Monkey. I also noticed that many of the choices were parts of a series, which feels a bit useless if you haven’t read the earlier books in the series. I ended up having to do a lot of researching myself to find books.

Pros: The giant poster is printed on thicker, quality paper. The perforations are good quality and make taking the pages out to color and assemble quick and easy. The poster also contains a great amount of information and fun facts about the states. Price point is low at $10.

Overall: While I felt the bundle was a bit lacking. It did provide a good ‘jumping off point’ to introduce my young geographer to the 50 States. It’s a nice theme if you are simply trying to get your child to read more. If your child enjoys coloring, the poster is a lot of fun. I, myself, probably wouldn’t use this on its own, but it would compliment a more in depth study on the 50 States very nicely. Even if you decide to just use it as a fun way to encourage extra summer reading, the price point is worth the giant poster coloring book and the amount of fun facts that can be gleaned from it.

Disclaimer: Timberdoodle provided me with a free copy of the Read Across the USA Challenge Bundle in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review and received no further compensation.

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Geoboards: A Timberdoodle Review

Mr. Man uses Geoboards as part of his Occupational Therapy. Every time they come out, Monkey wants to be part of the activity. So, we decided to get a set of our own geoboards from Timberdoodle and post a review on them.

The Timberdoodle geoboards come with 4 boards, 20 activity cards, and 96 rubber bands. The boards themselves are of good, sturdy quality. They are smaller than I have seen with other boards, at 7.5 inches square. However, I found that I actually preferred this compact size. The cards are brightly colored and fit onto the frames well. There was one card that was not usable because the holes were not punched correctly. I really liked that the rubber bands were colored and could coordinate with the patterns. In comparison with other geoboards I have seen, I definitely prefer the boards that include patterns. One problem I had with this particular set of geoboards was many of the rubber bands snapped the first use out of the box. I don’t know if this is typical or if we simply got a bad set of bands, but it was very disappointing. After one use, we already need to replace the bands and this was not due to excessive roughness on the boys part (for once!)

This kit was a bit of a flop for us. Mr. Man sees them as a chore, so he wasn’t overly excited about this set. Monkey played with them but tired quickly. So overall, they serve their purpose but were not a huge success. My biggest pro was the quality of the boards themselves and my biggest con was the low-quality rubber bands. My overall feeling towards them was that they are typical geoboards, nothing overly exciting. They do their job. If you are looking specifically for geoboards this is a good sturdy set that looks like it will take some wear and tear (with back up rubber bands), but in the end, they are simply geoboards.

Disclaimer: Timberdoodle provided me with a discounted set of geoboards in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review and received no further compensation.

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Artistic Patch Cosmos Foil: A Timberdoodle Review

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We recently reviewed Artistic Patch Cosmos Foil by Djeco. This craft kit, for ages 6-10, is sold by Timberdoodle and is included in their 2020 First-Grade Curriculum Kit. This Kit would be an excellent addition to your Space themed units. The kit includes 8 sheets of glue patches, 10 foil transfer sheets, and 12 background pages.  I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of pages that were included with this kit. There are enough to allow several for several crafting sessions.

 

The boys enjoyed the effect created by the metallic foil. They loved picking out their glue patches and watching the foil bring the design to life. A somewhat softer touch is required to rub and transfer the foil onto the glue patch. This was hard for the boys, who have no idea how to use soft hands. When they went to rub the foil, they often ended up crumpling it. I also noticed they had a hard time placing the foil in a way that would allow them to get the most uses from the pages. This required spatial planning they have yet to master.

Overall, this was a fun project which allowed the boys to practice a variety of skills in a fun and creative way. We would love to get some of the other Artistic Patch Kits by Djeco, as well. Hopefully, Timberdoodle will start carrying a variety of these kits, because they are so much fun!

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Deep in the Jungle Sticker Mosaic Kit: A Timberdoodle Review

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We had the opportunity to review Timberdoodle’s new product Deep in the Jungle Sticker Mosaic Kit by Djeco. This kit was a lot of fun. The kit comes with 4 Jungle pictures and metallic foam stickers which are added to the pictures to create a sticker by number style work of art. Each boy picked a picture and set to work. The instruction booklet was easy to follow and showed which numbers/colors should be completed first. My only complaint with the kit is that the sticker sheets are not labeled in any way, so you have to guess which sheet is which color/number. Some of the colors are very similar and it was quite tricky. I was concerned that if we used the wrong sheet we would run out of stickers for the other two pictures.

IMG_2223I was pleasantly surprised that this activity caught Mr. Man’s attention ard REALLY kept his focus. He was persistent, despite the fact that this activity is challenging for him due to fine motor weakness. This ended up being a great activity for him! It really had him working on many of the skills he focuses on in OT. He was able to work on fine motor skills, processing/planning skills, and it slowed him down enough to help him work on his difficulties with impulsivity. I would definitely purchase more of these for Mr. Man.

IMG_2222Monkey, on the other hand, surprised me for a different reason. Monkey loves art, but he showed little interest in this activity. In fact, he did one color (with much encouragement) before walking away completely. Monkey usually loves art, but I think this project was a little too structured for him. He enjoys a more free and messy approach when it comes to his creativity. Monkey is also a bit on the outside of the 7-13 recommended age range for this activity, so that may have been part of his disinterest, too. Although, Mama is definitely beyond the age range and I wanted to do my own design!

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Overall, the Beans were very impressed with the quality of the Deep in the Jungle Mosaic Kit and would love to see more kits similar to this with a variety of designs. Like I mentioned, my only improvement would be for the sticker sheets to be labeled with their matching number. Other than that, we thoroughly enjoyed this activity and will be proudly displaying Mr. Man’s final product.

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My Epic Life Word Book: A Timberdoodle Review

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We recently had the opportunity to explore and review Timberdoodle’s new My Epic Life Word Book. Mr. Man has always had a difficult time with vocabulary, he struggles to use a variety of words when speaking. The My Epic Life Word Book is a 235 page 2019 National Parenting Product Award winner and a 2019 Tillywig Award winner. It is a IMG_2208colorful and simplistic way to introduce children to a variety of new words. Each page is illustrated with engaging and fun cartoons that easily capture the children’s eye. The vocabulary words are clearly visible and the definitions are simple and straight forward. I really liked the use of the appropriate amount of empty space on the pages so the words do not get lost in the illustrations. The book is divided into eight different sections by topics such as Words for Time, Words for My epic everyday life and Words for My epic outdoor adventures. I will likely add using this book into our school day by using it to illustrate a “Word of the Day”.

Monkey thoroughly enjoyed looking at the illustrations and loved the humor in them. IMG_2205Both boys loved the word cartoons section located in the back of the book. In this section, you are able to scan a QR code and watch a short cartoon video that shows the meaning of the words. This was very engaging for them. However, I do wish that these codes were located on the pages with the words throughout the book, instead of all on a two-page spread with reference back to the page number which included each vocabulary word.

If you are looking for a simple way to incorporate vocabulary building into your day, My Epic Life Word Book is an excellent resource. For extra fun, Bogart (the bookwork larva) is hidden throughout the book. There is also a QR code to scan that will take you to an Epic Word Adventure game. At the time of our review, this game wasn’t available yet, but it looks like a fun way to reinforce the vocabulary and we will definitely be checking it out when it becomes available.  IMG_2186

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