Friday, September 30, 2011

Read Aloud Challenge -- September 29, 2011

I guess it's no fun to link up to this week's read-aloud challenge at Footprints in the Butter by just posting "ditto." We're smack dab in the middle of books, and so I have little to share.

I'm still reading Rifles for Watie to the big kids, and I'm still in search of a Civil War book with a confederate slant.

Lauren and I are about halfway through My Father's Dragon. We've gone several days without reading any of it, though. I'm not sure if we've just been tired/overwhelmed with our crazy schedule this week or if we just aren't as captivated by this book. I don't know if she'll want to continue with the other two books in the series or if we'll move on to something different.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Review: Alethia Magazine

Aletheia Logo - White rectangle
When my copy of Aletheia Writing Magazine arrived, I tried to hide my excitement. In fact, I even hid the magazine itself so that I could have a chance to look over it before my thirteen year old daughter claimed it for her own.


Aletheia is a literary magazine for Christian teens, and I was quite impressed with it.  I found everything included in the magazine to be exceptionally well done -- enjoyable fiction, thought-provoking poetry, insightful book reviews, gorgeous photography, and more. Each magazine also has an interview section with a Christian writer or artist.

Unfortunately, Addison did not enjoy the magazine as much as I predicted she would. While Addison loves to read and she does write some, she's not a serious writer. She explained, "It's a good magazine if you really like to write. If you just like to read, it's not that great. It's more focused on how Christian teen writers are contributing to the magazine than on what they have contributed."

Aletheia writing magazine costs $26 per year (includes four issues that are roughly 40 pages each and shipping/handling). If you'd like to read through a sample magazine for yourself, you can find the link on the upper right corner of their homepage. As always, you can visit The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to see what other crewmembers (and their teens) thought about this magazine.

I received a free issue of Aletheia magazine (and electronic access to two other issues) as a member of the 2011 TOS Homeschool Review Crew, and I received no other compensation. In return, I agreed to give an honest review of the materials and how they worked for my homeschool family.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Almost Wordless Wednesday -- Homeschooling Benefits

When play practice drags on until 10:30 the night before and class starts at 8:00 in the morning, it's awfully nice to wear your pajamas and drink coffee during the lecture.


Monday, September 26, 2011

"I have one planned!"

I was out running a few minutes later than usual this morning, and more people than usual were out and about today.

As I ran past one older gentleman wheeling out his garbage can, I offered my traditional, "Good morning." He said something in response, and I ended with a "Have a good day!" He responded, "I have one planned."

What a wonderful outlook! I spent the next two miles praying and planning my good day.

What kind of day are you planning?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A bit of homeschool fun

I try to finish up a Homeschool Mother's Journal entry on Sundays, but I'm just running out of time this week. Instead of skipping out on blogging all together, I'm going to share a handful of pictures and link up with a new friend and her weekly Sweet Little Photo Swap.

Over the past few weeks, I've been trying to incorporate more fun activities that Lauren can do independently and less teacher-directed work. It's always a bonus when I can add in a little Occupational Therapy practice at the same time.

Balancing marbles on golf tees
(idea from Tot School)

Matching with foam shapes
(idea from Walking by the Way)

Not completely independent, but definitely fun

Practicing writing numbers

Using tongs to move pom poms into the ice cube tray

Equilibrio
(purchased from Timberdoodle)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Reading Aloud Challenge -- September 22, 2011

It's been a crazy week around here. I haven't been able to keep up with blogging, but I have made time to read to my kids every day. One day we were even squeezing in a chapter by reading in the parking lot when we arrived at an appointment a few minutes early, while waiting for our order to be delivered at Sonic, etc.

The big kids and I are continuing our Civil War readings with Rifles for Watie by Harold Keith. For some reason, I wasn't excited about starting it, but Addison raved about how much she remembers liking it when we read it four years ago. On a funny note, I mispronounce the title of the book about half of the time I say it, and "Wifles for Watie" makes me think of Elmer Fudd hunting wabbits.

I am beginning to wonder if I'll ever find a Civil War book (fiction) that is told from the confederate viewpoint. The ones we've read so far have presented a fairly balance perspective, but they're all primarily concerned with Union troops (or set in northern states). Maybe I'll end up with Gone with the Wind.

Lauren and I are reading My Father's Dragon. I don't think she's liking it quite as much as she did Charlotte's Web, but I wonder if it'll get better as we move into the second half of the book.


In terms of picture books, we read The Rag Coat by Lauren A. Mills a couple of times, Swimmy by Leo Lionni, and Fancy Nancy by Jane O'Connor. We also read a few traditional fairy tales from a compilation on our shelves.

I don't have big plans for next week because we're still only partway through both of our current novels.

If you'd like to share your read-alouds with other parents or find new read-aloud ideas, be sure to visit the weekly check-in at Footprints in the Butter.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Review: Before Five in a Row

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When Addison was younger, I remember reading some books so many times that I could recite them in my sleep. In fact, I might still be able to recite portions of Dr. Seuss's Are You My Mother? ten years later.When they find a good book, kids naturally like to hear it over and over again. I'm reminded of the way that I sometimes like to hear my favorite songs over and over, and I try to be patient when I'm asked, "One more time?"

The Five in a Row series of homeschool materials is based on the idea of reading the same book multiple times, specifically reading them five days in a row. With each day's reading, the child explores different concepts and gains a greater appreciation for the book. The original Five in a Row materials were geared towards early elementary students (roughly kindergarten through third grade).

PhotobucketBefore Five in a Row by Jane Claire Lambert is designed for preschoolers, roughly two to four years old. Instead of formal academics, this book shares activities to create special memories with your child and to help develop important the pre-learning skills needed for later educational endeavors.

When I first flipped through the table of contents I recognized several of the book titles as being ones that would definitely make it on a list of our family's favorite picture books.  The list of great books includes Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear?We're Going on a Bear HuntCorduroyBlueberries for Sal, and other treasures. The first part of the Before Five in a Row book contains twenty-three mini-units based on these beloved picture books.

One of the books I have loved for many years is Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina. The corresponding activities in Before Five in a Row reminded me to make sure Lauren understood that cap was another name for hat and that a bunch of something means many. It also suggested that we discuss the saying, "Monkey see, monkey do." As we read through the book, we found lots of things to count, and we also noticed that the peddler always stacked the caps on his head in the same order. On another day, I introduced a few simple money concepts based on the fact that the peddler sold the caps for fifty cents. There were at least eight or ten concepts that I could discuss with Lauren after we did each day's readings. Other books had suggestions for acting out the stories, and Caps for Sale would be a good one for that, too.

As I worked through the materials for a few books, I found that I was learning how to look at a book more closely. I was reading a picture to book to Lauren last week, and I found myself looking closely at the illustrations instead of just pushing forward with the words. I noticed that there were different amounts of each food set out on the picnic basket. When I pointed it out to Lauren, we decided that there were five carrots and five large glasses so that each bunny could have one. There were three medium sized glasses for the chicks, and two tiny glasses for the mice, too. What wonderful discoveries we're finding now that I'm slowing down to savor all of our books.


The second part of the book is a treasury of creative ideas that are not tied to a specific book or theme. It contains activities for building reading readiness and for developing motor skills (both gross motor and fine motor). There are fun play activities that can be used anytime, ideas for bath time, suggestions for in the kitchen, and things to do at the store. I particularly appreciate the way that the book includes so many necessary skills that are often overlooked in the name of pushing academics. It's rare to find a preschool book that gives specific ways to practice balancing, hopping, etc.

These materials are perfect for preschoolers. The activities and discussion topics were a little too easy for Lauren and therefore made it hard to stretch a book out to a full five days. I really wish I had used the Before Five in a Row ideas when Lauren was younger. It would have been particularly useful when Lauren was in the hospital and we reread her favorite books over and over again. I read lots of good books with her, but I didn't think outside the box to build on the stories the way Before Five in a Row does. Now that we've enjoyed looking at picture books the Five in a Row way, I'm considering adding some of the regular Five in a Row materials to Lauren's kindergarten curriculum and probably using them for several years to come.

Although there are no sample pages available for Before Five in a Row, there is a special explanation of the book available on the Five in a Row website hereBefore Five in a Row costs $35 can be purchased from Rainbow Resource.

If you'd like to hear how much the other members of the review crew thought about Before Five in a Row, please visit The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew blog here.

I received Before Five in a Row as a member of the 2011 TOS Homeschool Review Crew, and I received no other compensation. In return, I agreed to give an honest review of the materials and how they worked for my homeschool family.


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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Homeschool Mother's Journal -- September 18, 2011

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

My favorite thing this week was sharing the excitement as Lauren read her first book. It's a beginning reader from Institute for Excellence in Writing's Primary Arts of Language curriculum. Instead of printing each story separately and having them on a folded sheet of paper, I cut the pages apart and bound them together. Lauren was thrilled to be reading a real chapter book.

What's working/not working for us... It's awfully hard for me to get our school day started at 8:00 when I run in the mornings. Before long I'll be able to move my training runs to the afternoons, but in the meantime I might have to be content with starting at 8:30.

Things I'm working on... I need to finish memorizing my lines for our upcoming church production. I also need to have Addison coach me a bit on the singing parts. Maybe she can work with me and Lauren at the same time. Two weeks until opening night!

I'm reading.... Bible, How Do We Know the Bible is True?, and Parenting with Purpose and Grace (actually I need to hurry to catch up with my Bible study group for this one). I also read a really cool children's book about military families so that I could see if it was worth recommending to a friend who is trying to explain military life to her five year old daughter. It's H is for Honor, and I did highly recommend it.

I'm cooking... Today I made a slight change in my E-mealz recipe and served Shrimp tacos for lunch. As for the rest of the week, I remember going grocery shopping yesterday, but I can't remember what I'm going to be fixing. It's a good thing I hung a menu on the fridge.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share... Brennan snapped the photo below shortly after I finished running my 300th mile for this year.


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Review: Katz Gluten Free

Earlier this summer, I saw a Facebook announcement that Katz Gluten-Free was looking for product reviewers. I've been gluten-free since sometime last fall, but I've not ventured much into the realm of prepackaged gluten-free treats. Normally I either make something from scratch or just go without.

Katz Gluten Free sent a generous package of goodies for me to try. I tried the Chocolate Chip Cookies, the Cinnamon Rugelech, the Sliced Challah Bread, and some Dinner Rolls. They arrived while I was away at camp, and my husband followed the directions on the box to put in the freezer.

Everything tasted fresh when I thawed it, even though it shipped during the heat of the summer and then was frozen for a few weeks. I was quite impressed with the quality of the goodies. I gave a few small samples to other members of my family, and they agreed that they were all better than they expected for gluten-free baked goods.

I thought that the Chocolate Chip Cookies and the Cinnamon Rugelech were a bit sweet for my tastes, but that didn't stop me from finishing the containers. I thought the Challah bread was good straight from the bag and even better when it was made into cinnamon toast.

All of the products made by Katz Gluten-Free come from a dedicated gluten-free, nut-free, and dairy-free facility. Many of their products are also egg-free. Their prices seem reasonable when compared to other gluten-free products. They offer free shipping for orders over $30, and their products are located in stores across the country.

If you'd like more information about Katz Gluten-Free or their products, you can visit their website here or find them on Facebook here. They do offer a free sample pack that you can order online; you just have to pay for the shipping.

Disclaimer: I received sample products from Katz Gluten-Free for the purposes of writing a review. I did not receive any other compensation, and as always, I will only share my honest opinion.

Friday, September 16, 2011

TOS Crew Not-Back-to-School Blog Hop

This month's TOS Crew blog-hop is focusing on "Not-Back-to-School" thoughts and ideas, and I decided to share a picture of the book cupcakes Lauren and I decorated for our first official homeschool day of the fall. We picked the title for each one based on our family's favorites -- Junie B, First Grader, Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsA Week in the Woods, and North and South. (Some abbreviations were necessary as I tried to smush the titles on Strawberry Newtons.)


This blog hop is open for all homeschoolers, not just members of this year's TOS Review Crew. If you'd like to join in the blog hopping fun, you can click on the Blog Hop button in my sidebar to get to the linky.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Reading Aloud Challenge -- September 15, 2011

It's time to link up at Footprints in the Butter and share what I've been reading aloud to my children this week.

We're over halfway through Behind Rebel Lines by Seymour Reit. It was definitely a great choice for our Civil War read-alouds. It has a lot of espionage and enough danger to make it appealing to Brennan. It's about a female soldier in the Civil War, though, so it would appeal just as much to girls.
Lauren and I finished Charlotte's Web this morning. What a wonderful book, even if I do get teary eyed at the end of it. Some of my favorite lines are in the final few pages in the book. "No one had ever had such a friend -- so affectionate, so loyal, and so skillful."And then, the last lines of the book: "She was in a class by herself. It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both."
For a few moments, I considered reading another book by E.B. White. I then remembered how the other two children's books he wrote (Stuart Little and Trumpet of the Swan) are perhaps better saved until Lauren is a bit older.  Instead, I opted to begin reading My Father's Dragon to her tonight.


In terms of picture books, Lauren and I shared an old favorite and a few new treasures: Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen, The Deep Blue Sky Twinkles with Stars by Cyndy Szekeres, and The Clown of God by Tomie dePaola.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Yes, she can knit

With both a mother and a big sister that love crafting, it comes as no surprise that Lauren loves to do crafts too. When she was younger, it was fairly easy to give her a container of beads to string them on thin thread. Before long, however, she wanted to knit. I tried to convince her to crochet. For a few days she was content to make long chains of crochet. Unfortunately, the loops were all worked too tightly to be able to continue crocheting anything. (At one point, I thought I'd have to hand sew all the chains together to make the tablecloth she was dreaming of.)

Eventually she kept begging long enough that I figured out how she could knit. I started by casting on a row of stitches for her. I figured it was easier to just show her how to do the knitting and then tackling casting on later. I actually still do the casting on part for her -- it just makes life easier for all of us. (If you don't already know how to cast on, you can google a list of free videos. That's what I did when I was starting out several years ago.)

I took pictures showing me working in the middle of the row. It's the same technique even if you're working the first or last stitch in a row.

Putting the right needle into the correct stitch on the left needle. We're working the yellow stitch in this case.
One tricky part was helping Lauren handle a needle in each hand and still being able to move the yarn. We ended up putting the needles side-by-side in one hand. In the picture the needle that used to be in my right hand is on the bottom.
Take the working yarn and bring it between the two needles (from back to front).
Bring the yarn to the right side so that it wraps around the right needle.
This step is perhaps the biggest difference between Lauren's beginner knitting and traditional techniques. She uses her fingers to lift the original stitch (yellow) over the tops of both needle.
One stitch finished -- there's a new white stitch on the right needle and one less stitch on the left needle.
Now that Lauren's been knitting for six months or more, she's matured into a more traditional style where she doesn't always have to use her fingers to lift off the old stitch.

After many, many stitches and most of an afternoon, she ends up with something like this:

She says it's going to be a baby blanket for her speech therapist's new baby. We'll see. I am reminded often that craft projects for elementary children are about the process and not the finished project. She will happily knit on something for a day or two and then happily rip it all out so that she can start again.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Coming Soon... How I Taught My Five Year Old to Knit

A while ago I posted some of the fine motor activities that we do at home to supplement Lauren's Occupational Therapy sessions in the gym (Home Therapy, the OT edition).

In response to that post, I promised my friend Deanna that I'd share how I taught Lauren to knit, and I'm just now getting around to sharing a tutorial.

I took lots of pictures this afternoon, and the full directions (such as they are) should be posted sometime tomorrow afternoon. Be sure to come check it out!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Homeschool Mother's Journal -- September 11, 2011

The Homeschool Mother's Journal
In our homeschool this week... Addison's online science class starts. That's the last big last piece in the scheduling puzzle for this year, and I hope that we can start to see all the rest of our school things settle into some sort of a final routine soon.

I am inspired by... Brennan's popcorn selling attitude. I'm proud of the way he put on his Cub Scout uniform and keeps knocking on doors, even when he knocks on a lot of doors where nobody answers and even when he hears more Nos than Yeses.

My favorite thing this week was... read-aloud time, especially the early mornings when I snuggled up on a couch with Lauren to read (me half-asleep, her wide-awake).

What's working for us... this week I started filling part of Lauren's workboxes with activities that she can do independently so that I will have more time to spend with my other two students.

Questions/thoughts I have...
I've been doing better at organization during the day, but I'm doing poor job of managing time in the evenings. All too often I wait until it's late before I start refilling workboxes for the next day, and then I end up staying up later than I had planned.

Things I'm working on... organizing our digital photos and finding more activities that Lauren can do independently during our school days.

I'm reading.... The Bible (should be in the New Testament by the end of the week), Eats with Sinners, How Do We Know the Bible Is True?, Raising Real Men by Hal and Melanie Young, and Miles to Go. I posted about what I'm reading to the kids a few days ago.

I'm cooking... meal plans from e-mealz this week. My family is usually good about trying new meals, but I'm not sure what they'll think of something new every night this week.

I'm praying for... our country on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share...

From Richard Paul Evan's Miles to Go:
  "What's unbelievable to me is how you've managed to remain so positive. I've been with your for more than a week, and you haven't complained once."
  "She smiled. "I heard someone say, 'There's no problem so big that whining won't make it worse.'"
  I laughed.
  "The way I see it," she said, "everyone has problems. It's how you choose to deal with them. Some people choose to be whiners, some choose to be winners. Some choose to be victims, some choose to be victors."
  I put my hand on her shoulder. "You're the type who thinks of the glass as being half full instead of half empty."
  "No," she said, "I'm just grateful for the glass."

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Cooking Success

All of our kids are fairly good sports about trying new meals, but it's somewhat rare to find a dish that's easy to make and gets nods of approval from everyone.

I posted in my Homeschool Mom Journal last weekend that Spinach Potato Frittata had made it on our meal plan for the week. I'm happy to report that it was a roaring success last night. I give it three thumbs up -- one for taste, one for ease of preparation, and one for easy clean-up.


Yay for a meal that everyone enjoyed! They all agreed that it was worth having again.

My original recipe is copyright, but I can share basics for cooks that prefer not to follow directions anyway. I mixed 6 egg whites and 3 whole eggs in a bowl. I added salt, pepper, some diced Canadian bacon (about 3-4 small slices), about a cup and a half of frozen diced hash brown potatoes, and a small package of frozen spinach (thawed, drained, and squeezed dry). In a large oven-proof skillet, I sauteed a chopped onion until it was soft. Then I added the egg/potato mixture and cooked on medium until it started to look set. Don't stir. I finished by cooking it in the oven for about 5 minutes at 400*, until it was fully set. The cheese could either be mixed into the egg mixture, sprinkled on top before baking, or added to the individual servings at the table. I served it to our family of five with a loaf of homemade bread on the side, and there was only a bite or two left over.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Review: Time 4 Learning

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Last year, Lauren and I reviewed Time 4 Learning's Preschool program. (That blog entry is here, if you are interested.) I remember how she used to beg me to let her play more, and I was excited to do another review of the program this year. This time, we received enough subscriptions for all three kids to use the program.

Unfortunately, this year I rarely heard any of my children beg to play more Time 4 Learning. Most of the time I had to remind them to do get on the computer and do their lessons. I think much of it boils down to the fact that my kids do not like the automated voice that it used throughout. I watched both Brennan and Lauren start to "zone out" whenever the computer was talking. Brennan told me that he liked to read the book lessons but he really didn't like the way the video ones seemed to drag on.

Lauren was often frustrated by having to wait for complete instructions to be given before she could answer the question that was on the screen. For some of the activities, she spent as much time listening to instructions or explanations as she did picking the correct answer. She would prefer to learn by doing activities that were more game oriented and less explanation oriented.

Addison really liked the Odyssey Writer tool that she used on Time 4 Learning. It was an awesome interactive tool that helped her to complete her writing assignments online. It allowed her to organize her thoughts in an outline form, to keep track of notes and ideas along the way, and then to type her final draft. It made a writing assignment that she was previously grumbling about easier to complete.

Even though my kids were not big fans of the program, I found a lot to like about Time 4 Learning.  I was impressed with the sheer amount of lessons that were available for my students. For Brennan (a fifth grader), he could choose from 274 language arts, 210 Math, 143 science, and 287 social studies activities. You can find an overview of the curriculum for all the grades here.

I also liked the way that I could log into my parent account and review all that my children learned during their Time 4 Learning sessions. I could see which activities they had completed, what sort of score they had received, how much time they spent working, etc.

I can think of times in the past where our days were so hectic that we went weeks without completing a science lesson. It might have been nice to have Time 4 Learning available back then so that Addison and Brennan could have been introduced to more elementary science topics than I had time to teach. I know that other parents sometimes purchase a subscription for their older children during times when Mom is busy taking care of a newborn sibling.

Time 4 Learning costs $19.95 per month for the first child in your family and an additional $14.95 per month for each additional child.

If you'd like to hear how much the other members of the review crew thought about their trial subscriptions of Time 4 Learning, please visit The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew blog here.

I received trial memberships for all three of my kids to use Time 4 Learning for thirty days as a member of the 2011 TOS Homeschool Review Crew, and I received no other compensation. In return, I agreed to give an honest review of the materials and how they worked for my homeschool family.


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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Read Aloud Challenge -- September 8th

I hesitated to link up with Debra's Read-Aloud Challenge at Footprints in the Butter again this week because I don't think I have much new to share.

We are less than half a chapter away from finishing Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt. I'm not sure Brennan caught all of the Civil War talk in the latter half of the book. For a while, the names of generals and battles were coming a bit too fast too keep up. Since my goal is to give him a general idea of the times (themes versus facts), we didn't slow down and look them all up. Addison, however, loves hearing all of the details of the battles.
I've decided that our next Civil War read-aloud will be Behind Rebel Lines by Seymour Reit. You may laugh at my rationale, but I chose the book with the shortest chapters. Lately, we've sometimes struggled to get through the long chapters without having to take too many breaks at inopportune moments. I think we'll all enjoy a week or so when most of the interruptions can wait a few moments until a scheduled chapter breaks.


Lauren and I continue to enjoy Charlotte's Web by E.B. White. Some of my favorite reading times lately have been the mornings when we can enjoy a chapter or two as soon as we wake up. I suspect that we'll finish the book by the time I check in next week.

We've read quite a few picture books, but I'll only list the ones that I'd consider worthy of recommendation --  All the Places to Love by Patricia MacLachlan, The Napping House by Audrey Wood, and Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina.



Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Review: Civilize This! by Griddly Games

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I am often drawn to purchasing new games -- board games, card games, dominoes, whatever. Oddly, I rarely pick out trivia games. I guess I don't see them as being as appealing as other types of games. Our latest review product changed my mind.

Wise Alec is a series of trivia games from Griddly Games that is every bit as much fun as any of the other types of games that we've played as a family. We played the Wise Alec: Civilize This! Travel Game and Expansion Set. It can be played on its own or added to the original Wise Alec game
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The Civilize This! game comes with four decks of cards and a multicolored die in a convenient travel case. There are three  categories of history trivia questions -- Ancients, Medieval, and Modern. The only thing you need to add is a way to keep score (paper, marker board, etc).

When you toss the die, you may land on a color corresponding to one of the three trivia categories. Other colors on the die allow you to pick your favorite category or allow one of your opponents to pick a category for you. The final color on the die, purple, means that you get to pick a Wise Alec card.

Each card in the trivia decks has two questions, one easier and one more challenging. Based on the question answered, you can either score three or seven points for a correct answer. If you are answering a question in a category that was chosen for you, you would score double points. The values for Wise Alec cards vary and may sometimes even cost you a few points.

The Wise Alec cards were my favorite part of the game. They contain fun, or even goofy, stuff to do. For instance, one tongue twister card required me to say "stupid superstition" ten times in a row. One of Brennan's cards asked him to do a rain dance. He sang, "Oh... wooga, wooga, wooga. Oh.... rain, rain, come down, down." Another Wise Alec card had Lauren performing her best fencing moves.

On the other hand, my competitive husband found the Wise Alec cards to be frustratingly dumb. Apparently they got in the way of his competitive strategy to outscore our oldest daughter. She was successfully answering 7 point trivia questions, and he would often roll a Wise Alec card that only awarded him 5 points (and sometimes far less).

We all liked the way that the game has flexible scoring options. We could either play to a certain score or play for a given amount of time trying to get the highest score.

Griddly Games recommends Civilize This! (and all the Wise Alec games) for ages eight and up. I think that's spot-on. Brennan (age 10) could hold his own in the game, even though I didn't think history trivia would be his strong suit. Lauren (age 5) enjoyed playing along with a partner so that she could roll the die and do the Wise Alec challenges.

The original Wise Alec games costs approximately $25, and the three available expansion packs cost approximately $15 each. I'm strongly considering ordering one of the other expansion packs options -- either Nature Nuts or Sports Buffs. I think Brennan would love the sports one even more than he loved the history one we've been playing for the past few weeks. Addison wishes that they'd make another expansion set that covers American History.

In our family, Civilize This! got a resounding six thumbs up from the kids.

If you'd like to hear how much the other members of the review crew enjoyed their games from Griddly Games, Inc., please visit The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew blog here.

I received a free Wise Alec Civilize This! game pack as a member of the 2011 TOS Homeschool Review Crew, and I received no other compensation. In return, I agreed to give an honest review of the materials and how they worked for my homeschool family.


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