Monday, October 31, 2016

Tuesday's Giveaway Link Up- November 1, 2016

Welcome to Tuesday's Giveaway Link Up with your hosts Karen @ Tots and Me, Emily @ Emily Reviews, Shelly @ The Attic Girl, and Rena @ An Ordinary Housewife.

So glad you could join us as we share our giveaways on  Tuesday's Giveaway Link Ups. 

This link up will be posted Monday at 7 PM est. and run all week long! Make sure you stop in as often as you can to list your latest giveaways.

Here is how to use the Giveaway Link Up

1. Post your reviews and/or giveaways, as many as you have, be sure to add the end date (family friendly please)

2. Help spread the word about the giveaway link up by grabbing our button, Tweeting or posting on Facebook. (Not mandatory- but it helps get more exposure to your giveaways as well!)

3. Take a moment to enter any giveaway that strikes an interest to you!

If you would  like to follow the  hostesses, we will gladly follow you back! Simply leave us a message to do so.

Featured Giveaway

$50 Paypal Cash Worldwide Ends 11/23

Thank you for linking up with Karen @ Tots and Me, Emily @ Emily ReviewsShelly @ The Attic Girl, and Rena @ An Ordinary Housewife.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Giving the Gift of Encouragement with CrossTimber Name Meaning Gifts {A TOS Review}

Thanks to the Homeschool Review Crew, I was recently introduced to this awesome Christian company named CrossTimber. This family-run business is owned by homeschool dad, John Dehnart. What began as CrossTimber - Printing in 1994 has expanded into CrossTimber - Name Meaning Gifts. They carry NamePlaques, NameCards, Name-Meaning Bookmarks, NameMugs, and Name-Meaning Music Boxes. We were given the opportunity to receive a Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse.

Though at first I wasn't sure who I would give such a gift to, I suddenly realized my mom would be the perfect recipient. She has done so much for me and I know I don't always show my appreciation as I should. I also knew a gift like this would mean the world to her. She is very big on giving and receiving gifts that have meaning behind them. And these products from CrossTimber are definitely full of meaning.

These plaques contain the person's name, the origin of the name, the name's meaning, and a Bible verse befitting the name. This is all printed on the purchaser's choice of background. And, oh my goodness, there are so many to choose from.

This is what the NamePlaques order selection screen looks like:

There are four main theme categories, under which there are several specific designs. All of these can be found by clicking in the light blue menu bar. The theme categories will drop down, and then you can click on the one that you would like to browse.

The categories are as follows:

Faith & Inspiration:
  • Faith & Encouragement
  • Meaningful Pictures
  • Castles & Lighthouses
  • Parchment & Simple
  • Fantastical, Creative
Animals & Creatures:
  • Lions, Tigers, Rams
  • Doves, Eagles, Birds
  • Horses & Cowboys
  • Lambs & Sheep
  • Butterflies
  • Kittens, Elk & More!
People & Relationships:
  • Babies & Baby Names
  • Relationships, Occupations
  • Couples & Sweethearts
  • Celtic, Irish & Gaelic
  • Musical Instruments
  • Boy Scouts & Stamps
The Great Outdoors:
  • Scenic Landscapes
  • Leaves & Trees
  • Sunsets & Sunrises
  • Ocean, Water & Sunlight
  • Lighthouses & Castles
  • Flowers
Once you decide which category to click on, the screen will change to reflect your current theme choice. 

On the left of the screen you will find all the designs. The middle selection is where you can see what your finished NamePlaque will look like, along with the frame choices and extras. On the right of the screen you will find the description of the design. 

As you click on different designs, the middle picture will change to reflect the new design. Here is a very small sample of some of their designs.

After you choose your design, you can then pick out a frame.  Each of the designs shown in the above collage are all in the Ornate Frame (Frame #1). If you would like to see what the plaque will look like with a different frame, you just use the frame selection buttons beneath the picture. It looks like this:

When you click on the frame type, the picture in the middle of the screen will again change to reflect your choice. In the following collage, all of the pictures have the same design; however, the frame is different.

We had the option of getting Frame #4, which is the $23 frame shown all the way to the right in the collage, or the Frame Artist's Choice for our review. If we wanted a different frame, we were responsible to pay the difference. We could have also chosen to receive the print by mail, or the Printable by email option, to use with our own frame,

I originally chose frame #1, the Ornate Frame with the Garden Bridge design. I can see why this frame is their most popular one. Unfortunately, a mistake was made and we were sent the wrong frame. Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining. Far from it! I am just stating what happened. When we received the plaque in the mail, I opened it up and was thrilled with how it looked. Not only did we receive the 5 x 7 print in a 7 x 9 frame, we received a 2 x 3 glossy card to go with it.

I didn't sit there and compare it with the picture on the website, so I didn't realize it was incorrect until I was getting ready to go to my mom's to give it to her. I had gotten on their website as I was going to start my review, because once I gave my mom the plaque, it was going to be 2 hours away. It was then that I noticed the mistake.

Oops, no intricate scrollwork on the edges like the Ornate Frame is supposed to have. How did I not realize this when I first received it? I really don't know. I had forgotten what it was supposed to look like, and I was happy with the way it looked. However, we did pay extra to receive the Ornate Frame.

I wasn't sure what I was going to do. The trip down to visit my mom was mainly to give her the plaque, though we loved the chance to go visit her, as it had been a while since she was feeling well enough to have the young children at her house. I contacted John from CrossTimber, and I received a reply within a half an hour (and this was on a Saturday). He had confirmed that I was sent the wrong frame, and was going to allow me to give my mother the plaque with the current frame and then he would send her the correct frame! Later, when I asked what I should do with the other frame, he offered to send a new Name Meaning Design to put in the frame, to use as an encouragement for another person anonymously. I was flabbergasted!

Needless to say, we are very happy with our experience with CrossTimber. They were willing to go above and beyond to make things right. However, my mom is so happy with the frame she was given, that I told John that we did not need the extra frame and print. Honestly, I didn't feel right doing that, sort of felt like I would be taking advantage of them. So, we received a refund for the extra we had paid for the Ornate Frame. and my mom kept the framed plaque that she fell in love with.

She was quite moved by the gift. In her words, it is "lovely." The plaque is prominently displayed on the buffet in her dining room

I am extremely satisfied with my experience with CrossTimber, and I look forward to ordering more Name Meaning Gifts in the future. As a matter of fact, there is a grandbaby due to be born early next year...

I highly recommend CrossTimber and their Name Meaning Gifts, especially if you are looking for a unique gift this Christmas season. 

Don't miss these special offers:

Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse {CrossTimber} Reviews

Here is some awesome news for you. Through December 4th, CrossTimber is sponsoring a Name Gift Giveaway. You can enter the giveaway for a chance to win a free Name Gift of a $10 Gift Certificate!

Grand Prize: The winner may choose between a: Personalized Mug OR Name Plaque OR 8x10 Plaque. Plus there are 9 more prizes: $10 Gift Certificates.

Just click on the image to enter the giveaway!

CrossTimber 2016 giveaway
Don't forget to check out the reviews of my fellow Crew Mates. Just click on the banner below.
Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse {CrossTimber} Reviews
Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Spanish Immersion with Middlebury Interactive Languages {A TOS Review}

We had the opportunity to again review Middlebury Interactive Languages with the Homeschool Review Crew. I've mentioned before how important it is to me that the children learn a foreign language (or two) at a younger age than the age at which I learned foreign language in junior high school. Previously, Tabitha had chosen to learn French, but Amelia was not at all interested. This year, when I shared with the children that we might just have the opportunity to review this company again, it was Amelia who was excited. She really wanted to have the chance to learn Spanish. It also gave me the opportunity to try out a different level of their program. So, for the last six weeks, Amelia has been using Elementary Spanish 1: Grades 3-5

Middlebury Interactive Languages provides online courses in four different languages: Spanish, French, German, and Chinese. There are several different levels to choose from under each language. They have elementary courses, both K-2 and 3-5 grade levels for all languages except German (there is no K-2 level for German), plus they have middle school, high school, and AP courses. 

I am not sure why I chose Grades K-2 of Elementary French 1 for Tabitha last year. I guess I didn't realize that the 3-5 grade level is still a beginner level. I thought it would be interesting to see the differences between the two levels. Unfortunately, because they took two different languages, I still am not sure what the exact differences are. But I can tell you that Tabitha would have probably done fine in the 3-5 grade level last year. It appears to me that there are similar units, though the older level has four additional units. 

In order to use Middlebury Interactive Languages, you need to have a computer with high speed internet access. There are days when our internet isn't working the best and the program will pause on Amelia. This is nothing against the program itself, just a frustration we have to deal with due to our not-so-great internet access. Additionally, you will need to make sure that you have a microphone (ours is built into the computer), because the children need to be able to record themselves speaking the language multiple times in each unit.

Let's look at the  program:

There are 16 units that teach the basics of Spanish language and the culture. 

The units are as follows:
  • Family
  • Numbers
  • Greeting
  • Adjectives/feelings
  • Food
  • Community/professions
  • Body
  • Review
  • Animals
  • Colors
  • Clothes
  • Weather and Seasons
  • School
  • Calendar
  • Months
  • Review

When Amelia logs into her account, this is the screen she sees:

I did want to take a moment to note that Amelia is not "behind" in her lessons, though it may look like she is in the screenshot. There is a calendar that has all the lessons scheduled out at a rate of one a day. However, we are not using the "with teacher support" option, and we are able to be more flexible with our scheduling. Amelia usually does her Spanish 3 or 4 days out of the week, which is a pace that she is able to work with.

That said, there are multiple ways for a child and parent to keep track of which lesson is next. First, there is the dashboard, as shown above. This is the easiest way for a child to get to their next lesson. They can also look at the calendar and click on the next lesson. The lessons that are completed will have a small check mark to the left of the lesson number. 

If you look at the top, left-hand corner of the screenshot, you will see a little icon with horizontal bars. This is the menu. This was how I navigated to the calendar and how I found the Table of Contents, which is another way to figure out which lessons have been completed. This also helps you to see what each lesson is about, which you can't see in the calendar or dashboard.

When you click on a unit, it will expand to show the lessons. Clicking on the lessons will show the activities. There will be check marks or filled in stars if the activities/quizzes/tests have been completed.

In my opinion, the Table of Contents is more appropriate for the parent to use. There is a lot of clicking to get to each activity, and I have only used it to see what the lessons are going to be about. Obviously a child can do this as well, but when it comes to getting to their lesson on a daily basis, just clicking on the dashboard is the simplest way to go.

Now, let's take a look at the actual lessons.

Each unit begins with a cultural story video told completely in Spanish, immersing the child right from the start. 

The vocabulary that is going to be taught in the unit is introduced as a part of the story. The child isn't expected to learn the entire story, but after repeated viewings, they definitely have a sense of what the story is about. There are many opportunities for the child to learn the vocabulary. During the activities, they may have to click on images to hear the words, drag pictures or words to the correct spot, or take their turn at recording the words/phrases after listening to it. These are called Speaking Labs. Students will also take multiple choice quizzes. The second lesson in a unit will introduce additional, related words. There are many opportunities to practice the vocabulary words as each lesson has between 5-9 activities. 

Here is a small sample of activity screenshots. 

I just wanted to take a closer look at one of the activities. 

This is a Practice activity from Unit 3: Greetings. The student is to drag the words to the correct spot. They can click on the little speaker in the box to hear the words. 

Once the activity is finished, the child is to click on the check mark to see how they did. Their score (in this instance 10/10) will appear in the top, right-hand corner of the screen with a little award ribbon. Sometimes, as with the speaking lab, there isn't a score, just acknowledgment that the child completed the task. In this case it will say, 100% Participation. It is important to remind the child that they need to click on the check mark, or their work will not be saved. This Practice exercise that I am sharing here, for instance, was just redone because Amelia had forgotten to click the check mark. 

I have found that each of the units (so far) have been following the same pattern. The units all start with an introduction and objectives and then show the animated video. The student then completes an activity that teaches them the words before showing watching the video again. Then they complete the different activities where they have to drag the words or pictures to the right spot, while hearing and seeing the words. The speaking labs give them a chance to say the words. Lesson 1 seems to always end with the speaking lab and lesson 2 always seems to start with a review before giving the child another speaking lab and a quiz. Then new, related words are taught. Each lesson expands on what was learned previously in the unit. Each unit also includes a culture lesson video, highlighting lessons, coloring book page, song to reinforce the words, and concludes with a test. You are also able to print out a translation of the video story and the vocabulary.

I love that the program makes the lessons relevant to the students. Instead of just learning words, the children get to apply them to their lives. In other words, they don't just name family members, but they have them say who the members of their household are during the speaking lab section. They also learn to say what their age is, and what their phone number is, instead of just learning numbers. As they work through each unit, they are also taught additional vocabulary in order to complete these activities. For example, they learn what "Yo tengo" and "En mi casa vive" mean as they say these phrases along with the words they already learned.

Having the child learn about the different culture, in addition to just learning the language, also makes this more relevant for the children. Both the video story and the culture video help introduce the culture to the student. 

Amelia is in love with this program. I get no resistance whatsoever when it is time for her to do her foreign language time. I'm sure she would rather do two lessons of Spanish, than have to do one lesson after her math. She likes it because, "it has videos for me to listen to and I get to listen to them again and again." She surprised me when she told me she didn't really care to do the speaking lab sections. However, after she made it clear that her frustration comes from younger siblings distracting her, she clarified that she "would do it every day" if she had her own personal space.

Middlebury Interactive Languages is a wonderful, immersive foreign language curriculum that is truly interactive. This is a program I can highly recommend for your student's foreign language needs. Children will enjoy the varied lessons, the videos, and the speaking labs, getting to use their different senses while learning to speak Spanish. 

You can find Middlebury Interactive Languages on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Don't forget to check out what my fellow Crew Mates had to say about this program. There are reviews for all the different languages and grades. Just click on the banner below:

Spanish, French, German or Chinese {Middlebury Interactive Languages}
Crew Disclaimer

Throwback Thursday Blog-Style #123: October 27, 2016

Welcome back to... 

I know, I know, Throwback Thursday seems to be all about sharing pictures from the past, great memories that mean something to you, that you would like to share with others. At least that is how it appears to me. Throwback Thursday wasn't something I was participating in, and then I came up with an idea.

I thought it would be great fun and a help to my blog to share old content, but not just any old content. Each week I will share an old blog post from a previous year, any year, BUT it has to be from the current week (for example, something I've posted around October 27th, from any previous year)  I will go in, edit the post if needed, add a pinnable image if I don't already have one, and share it on Facebook.

Last year I focused solely on review posts for the posts I wanted to share. It was fun remembering some of the review products I had forgotten about. This year I will be focusing on recipes I have shared in the past.

Would you like to join in? You do not need to edit your past post in any way, you don't need to create a pinnable image, though it couldn't hurt, in fact it will help your blog traffic to add quality pinnable images to your posts.

Just go into your archives, choose a favorite post from this current week from any previous year, and link it up below. (If you don't have anything from this current week, it is still okay to link up with a post from a previous year around this time. And if you haven't been blogging for a full year, feel free to share any earlier post.)

Please make sure to share from the past as instructed above if you would like your post to qualify for the Featured Post. Most weeks I find that there is a wonderful post, but I can't feature it because it is a current post, not from the past. I love reading the current posts, if you want to share them. However, I am not able to feature them, because the spirit of Throwback Thursday Blog-Style is to share posts from the past.
Thank you

I will be pinning posts to my appropriate Pinterest boards and will be randomly selecting a Featured Throwback Thursday post to share next week. Just a note, I will be sharing a picture from your post if you are selected as the featured post, but I will link back to your post. I will ALWAYS give credit and link back. By linking up you are giving me permission to use your picture in the post. 

Here is my Throwback Thursday post:

Here is this week's randomly selected
Featured Throwback Thursday:

Our Unschooling Journey Through Life shared Candy Science Experiments.

To participate, link up below. It would be great if you could visit several of the other posts that have linked up. Stop by, comment, and pin images so we can help each other.

If you would like to help spread the news:

Tots and Me
Happy Throwback Thursday!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: October 25, 2016 (w/linky) : Playing Superhero

May I introduce you to the Superheroes and the Supervillain

The Superheroes:

Hannah was Thunder Lightning
Amelia was Unicorn Horn
Harold was Sharp Tooth

and they were fighting against Mist Twist (Tabitha).

She sprayed mist on them!

Looking forward to seeing your Wordless (or not so wordless) Wednesday posts this week.

Tots and Me

Littles Learning Link Up: October 25, 2016 Craft Highlight- Fall Tree with Fingerprint Leaves

 Each month you will find:
  • A seasonal round-up (toward the beginning of the month)
  • A guest post featuring crafts, activities, tips, snack ideas or other early childhood topics. (toward the end of the month)
  • Posts where I share what I have been up to with my preschoolers and/or early elementary children (including occasional highlight posts where I share how we used ideas that have been linked up here on Littles Learning Link Up).
Each week, I will host a link up, where you can share either what you have been up to recently, or old posts that may go with the theme.  Feel free to link up more than one post.

Each week I will continue to feature a couple of posts from those that have been linked up. 

I hope you will continue to share your wonderful posts, and I hope you will find something new to try with your child(ren).

It would be great for everyone to stop by and visit the other linked-up posts as well. Check them out, leave some comments, pin those that interest you. Let's make this a real party and socialize with each other.

I first mentioned doing a Littles Learning Link Up Highlight back in December. I had thought it could become a monthly thing. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. However, I am trying to make that a reality. I posted a highlight post last month and one earlier this month. As I have no guest post this month, I thought I would do another highlight post today. Hoping to keep the momentum going. 

A highlight post isn't the same as a feature. With the highlighted post, we will actually be making the craft(s) or participating in the activity. You will get to see how much we enjoyed it, and I will be mentioning any tweaks that I add. Of course I will be linking back to the original post. 

Littles Learning Link Up October Highlight:

A few week's ago Wesens-Art shared her DIY Autumn/Fall Ideas post on the linky. In this post, I found a simple fall tree craft to use with the children in the preschool class at co-op. She titled it Fingerprint Leaves. She includes a free tree template, which I did use. The only tweak I made with this one, is that we used the acrylic paints for the fingerprints.

Fall Tree with Fingerprint Leaves

You will need the following materials:

Tree Template from Wesens-Art
Acrylic paints in fall leaf colors (red, orange, yellow, green, brown)
Container for paint 
(I LOVE using egg cartons for this, as the egg compartments keep the paints separated. 
Brown crayons
Paper towels (at least one per child)

Here is how we made the Fall Tree with Fingerprint Leaves.

We started by coloring the trees brown.

Then I showed them how to use one finger to paint print leaves on the branches.

While I had all the children coloring their trees at the same time, I worked with the children two at a time while painting. I made sure they just used one color at a time, and when they wanted to use the next color, they needed to wipe their finger on the wet paper towel. 

They were allowed to use a color a second (or third) time if they wanted to. Until they were happy with the results of their tree.

We have one little girl who does NOT like paint on her hands. So her tree only has one leaf left. It must be really cold where she lives already.

Let's take a look at that review schedule:

The reviews for Middlebury Interactive Languages and CrossTimber will be going live this week. And then in November, my last reviews of this Crew year will be going live. I will be sharing about Homeschool Legacy's Once-a-Week Unit Study; Christmas Comes to America and The Critical Thinking Co.'s Language Smarts Level E.

A few somethings I would like to share with you:

Some fun fall round ups:
Here is my Pumpkin Fun Round Up.

And don't forget the Focusing on Fire Safety Round Up.

And here we are at the end of October already. So, I would also like to share last year's Thanksgiving Round Up.

And finally, don't miss last month's Guest Post: Teaching U.S. Geography Through Picture Books.

I am still lining up guest posts. If you would be interested writing a guest post for Littles Learning Link Up one of these months, please leave a comment or contact me via my contact info on my About Me page. I will need to have your email address so I can contact you. I am looking for posts that have to do with young children: crafts, activities, foods/snacks, tips, or other ideas. I am open to suggestions.

Now onto:
Littles Learning Link Up Features

On my last Littles Learning Link Up post, there were 21 wonderful posts linked up! 
There were no clicks, so I will be choosing 2 random posts.

Please don't forget to stop by other posts that are linked up. See what catches your eye, stop by, pin the post to a relevant board, and perhaps leave a comment to let the author of the blog know you have been by for a visit. I know I appreciate others commenting and letting me know they have read my posts, so I am sure others do too.

This week's 1st Randomly Selected Post is:

This week's 2nd Randomly Selected Post is:

Shecki from Greatly Blessed shared Field Trip Friday: Visiting a Farm.

Join the Party!

I would love to have you join in this week! What sort of activities do you do with your young children? Do you have some favorite activities you would like to share? I invite you to link up below. I will be pinning posts on one of my relevant boards, and I would love to feature some of the activities each week from what is linked up.

Please know I may share a picture from your post and link back to it, along with sharing how we used your idea in our school time. By linking up you are giving me permission to use a picture from your post. I will ALWAYS give credit and link back. Additionally, if you choose to try out any of the ideas with your child, please make sure you give credit where credit is due.

Linky will be open through Monday night, to give me time to check out all the posts and get the Features organized. Please take the time to visit some of the other wonderful posts linked up.


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