Wikki Stix Alphabet

Back in February we went on vacation to Maui and on the airplane, my girls received coloring books and samples of Wikki Stix from the flight attendants (seriously, A+ Alaskan Airlines!).  The girls loved the Wikki Stix and spent a good portion of the flight playing with them.  For a mom traveling with 2 small kids, anything that keeps them occupied is a total win in my book.

Imagine how awesome it was to see that Timberdoodle carries Wikki Stix and that they are used in an educational capacity! Timberdoodle has the Wikki Stix Alphabet in their Pre-K Curriculum Kit which is perfect for Kaylee’s age!

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Kaylee is 4.5 and is right in the middle of mastering her letters.  She knows most of them well enough that she sometimes gets bored doing the standard alphabet workbooks but she does need more practice to master them.  This Wikki Stix Alphabet set is perfect for her to keep practicing her letters while switching up to something new and different and FUN!

Wikki Stix are easy to use and easy to manipulate.  They bend and flex in the tiniest hands and you just push them gently onto the boards to stick.  The boards clean up with a dry paper towel without leaving a sticky mess around (because we’ve got enough of those already).  As per the instructions, we cut a few of them into halves and thirds but the girls were also happy to fold them over as needed.  Try as Kaylee might, they don’t just tear apart which is awesome if you have a little honey badger like I have 😉

Even 6.5 year old Avery got into it!  Since she wanted to try them out too, I gave her the boards with b and d since she still occasionally mixes those up.  She also went “rogue” and started spelling her name and small words with the Wikki Stix.

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As I’ve mentioned before, one of my favorite things about Timberdoodle curriculum is that it is FUN and the girls don’t necessarily see it as “doing schoolwork.”  Wikki Stix Alphabet totally fits into that category!  The girls love it and choose it during free play time, in addition to when we work it into school time.

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Anything that puts such huge smiles on my girls’ face is worth every penny….the fact that its educational?  A serious bonus!

 

Disclaimer: I received this product in exchange for my review.  All opinions are my own!

Electro Dough

We are at that point in the school year where I am cleaning out the curriculum closet to make room for the new stuff.  I’m basically going through everything to see what I still want the girls to finish, what we never used and can sell/trash, and I’m even finding treasures that I had forgotten about.

One of those was the DIY Electro Dough Kit from techwillsaveus.com  I had ordered this at the beginning of last year in our Timberdoodle kit with the idea that the girls could do it with dad (he worked as an apprentice electrician for a number of years and his dad is an electrician).  The major problem with that plan?  I’m not sure I ever told dad about it or I might have mentioned it briefly but then stuck it in the curriculum closet where he never goes!  And here I was, wondering why he never did it with them….whoops!

We finally took it out today and played with it.  We had a ton of fun but the kit is seriously lacking in instruction/explanation.  The kit has the dough recipe and some brief examples of easy circuits you can make to get started.  No explanation of what the parts are or WHY it works so it helped that we had an electrician making with us, lol.  You can go to their website for more advanced projects and the manual which goes more in depth in the terminology and the WHYs.  So it really depends on your own personal knowledge of electricity and circuits as to whether or not you would need the manual—I need it to help me explain why/how you can turn the lights and buzzer on with play dough but dad didn’t need it.

The thing that I really love about this kit is that we can keep it and do this again as much as we like.  At their ages, the girls LOVED the novelty of getting the lights to turn on using play dough but they weren’t totally interested in the concepts behind it.  But as their curiosity grows or if they have a unit on electricity in their next science course, we can pull it back out, make a new batch of dough, and keep playing and learning!

So for now, this will get put back into the curriculum closet and hopefully not forgotten about this time…

Tinkerlab

Where do you go when you need inspiration, validation, or just new ideas?  Do you have a favorite homeschool mama author or book?

We have a pretty good art table at our house that the girls use often but I don’t often plan or teach art projects.  I grabbed Rachelle Doorley’s book Tinkerlab recently during a sale and I have been loving it!  I was looking for artsy ideas and projects for my little ladies but I found so much more than that.  I was totally surprised to find that I really loved the introduction, the how & why to create a tinkerlab, and the real life examples and experiences.  I loved this part so much that I’m looking for other homeschool mom inspirational books (hence, my request for your favorites).

This book also made me realize that we’re already headed in the right direction with our art table.  Here I was thinking that I was doing something wrong because we weren’t doing organized art projects. When in fact, having that open, free range art space is part of the GOAL.  We have that.  Our art table has paper, crayons, markers, scissors, glue, sequins, feathers, pom poms, stickers, pipe cleaners, stamps, etc etc that the girls are always free to use and create.  Our art table is over a carpeted floor so paint is a mom-supervision-required medium but everything else is a free for all (even glitter, much to my husband’s dismay).  And the girls use the space daily.  Their daily use is what made me seek out more guided art projects.

Although we are doing well with our easily accessible art space, the Tinkerlab book has so many more ideas.  There are 4 sections in the book: design, build, concoct, and discover.  Each section focuses on a different element of the creative mind.  The experiments and set ups in the book are mostly EASY to do and don’t require much more than what I already have at home.  There are a few ideas in the build category that involve small toy motors and wire strippers that I’ll leave to my husband….

So many great ideas for getting them to explore and discover without telling them what to do.  I love that instead of projects, this book has set-ups.  Give your child materials and see what they can come up with instead of telling them what to make.  I love this!

As I was reading, I got a quick set-up going for my girls.  I gave them paint with q-tips, feathers, pom poms, and plastic forks.  Once they got going, I sent them on a scavenger hunt around the house for anything that they thought would be fun to paint with….the only rule was NO actual paintbrushes.  This wasn’t a set-up that was directly out of the book but as I was reading, I was catching on to the idea.

A little mess can create a LOT of fun!

A little mess can create a LOT of fun!

And now I have 500 beautiful paintings to admire....

And now I have 500 beautiful paintings to admire….

 

(I bought my copy of Tinkerlab from Timberdoodle. No strings, I wasn’t asked to write about it….just sharing something I love.)

Curriculum Review: ThinkPlay STEM Junior

One of the reasons we picked Timberdoodle curriculum was because we loved the focus on thinking skills, STEM, and hands-on activities.  ThinkPlay Junior fits right in with that and we’re loving it!  We love building blocks and Legos so I was pretty sure that this would be a great fit for our curriculum.  The best part is that I do not have to work these into our daily schedule, my girls choose this as a free time activity and just as regular play.

ThinkPlay Junior is included in Timberdoodle’s preK curriculum kit but the recommended ages are 4-8.  I was actually looking at getting the ThinkPlay Advanced because we’re doing K-1st with Avery this year but Junior was on sale during the damaged/closeout sale so we went with that (and no damage that I can see on ours!).  I figured that if it was too easy for Avery, we could use it for Kaylee’s preschool.

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As it turns out, its great for both girls!  The pieces are interlocking and can be stacked as well.  This set includes 400 pieces…blocks, wheels, different connectors, etc.  The blocks are brightly colored and different shapes. It comes in a great tub with a locking lid (which is great if your kiddos also have a tendency to knock it off the shelf).  There is a spiral bound idea book and also some bigger poster-size idea pages.  There are different levels of difficulty in the book too, Avery can do a lot on her own but the bigger projects are great for all of us to do together.  Kaylee (3 yrs) sometimes has a hard time interlocking the pieces by herself but she’s getting the hang of it.  Last night, we built a whole scene….the sun, 2 different flowers, a butterfly, and a bug. Fun for the whole family!

We will definitely get a lot of use out of this set and I am so glad we decided to add it!  The possibilities are endless and the possibilities can expand as their little minds do too.

*I was not paid or solicited to review this item and I paid the normal (sale!!) price for it. Just sharing a product that we love!

Curriculum Love!

Timberdoodle recently had a warehouse sale and we were able to pick up quite a few things that we will use in our curriculum!! One of things that I love about TD is the focus on STEM and critical thinking skills.  So many of their recommended materials are FUN and engaging!

Here is what we picked up during the sale:

*Logik Street (board game, brain teasers, critical thinking)

*ThinkPlay STEM Junior

*Imagination Patterns

*Brainfood Doodle Mats (USA, geography, states)

*Our Blue Planet (puzzle, geography)

*Grow to Know Mazes

*My First Maze Book

*Usborne Illustrated Science Dictionary

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I think the best part is that the girls are both over the moon with everything!!  They have not stopped playing with this new stuff since it arrived.  We get our mail pretty late in the day (6 pm) so when we opened it up and went through everything, of course we needed to stay up a little late to play!  And then the next morning….they went straight to the imagination patterns and thinkplay building blocks.  Normally in the mornings, they are allowed tv or tablets (because, let’s be real–mom needs 2 cups of coffee before she functions).

But they SKIPPED ELECTRONICS in favor of LEARNING MATERIALS!!!  Of course, they don’t know that this is “curriculum”, they just think they got new toys for no reason but we’ve got a good thing going so I’m not going to ruin that by labeling things unnecessarily 😉

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Choosing a Curriculum

I am planning on buying a boxed curriculum for our Kindergarten/First Grade year.  Since this will be our first ‘serious’ year homeschooling, I just want to have that guide and that assurance that I am doing it right.  I think it will help me to be confident that I am not leaving anything out, that I am keeping on course for the year, and that I CAN DO THIS!

I am leaning towards using Timberdoodle.  I have researched the included materials, read the reviews, etc.  It seems like a great mix of academics while remembering that its for a 5-6 year old and making it fun for her too!  I have found so many great boxed curriculums but many of them are very heavy on the religious aspect.  Because our family is not very religious, I feel like I would have to omit or alter too much of those curriculums to fit our family.  Timberdoodle has both a secular curriculum AND a build-your-own curriculum that I feel is going to work out great for us.  I am able to make a Kindergarten-First Grade hybrid set to meet Avery exactly where she is in each subject.

Do you used a boxed curriculum? Do you piece together your own?  What are some of your favorites?  Bonus points if they are in the kindergarten/1st grade range!!