Monthly Archives: May 2012

Interactive iPad book for kids – Elfishki and The Giant Cake *Review* & *Giveaway*

I am always looking for ways to keep Stud busy when we have to wait somewhere. The iPad gets used a lot for this purpose! He has a supply of book-apps and game-apps, but we are always adding more to keep them fresh and developmentally appropriate. As an Education major turned Communications major, I’m also concerned with making sure that his apps are developmentally appropriate and beneficial. I was given the opportunity to review “Elfishki and the Giant Gake,” an interactive book for kids. I was excited about this one, because the age-range is 5-9 years old, so it might be good for eight-year-old Boo and usable by three-year-old Stud, since it can read the text to him.

You can watch the Elfishki Kids Book Video to get a quick overview of what the books are like.

Description:

Once upon a time, on the beautiful Rainbow Island in the middle of the Sparkling Sea lived magical little people called Elfishki.

Some of them could fly like butterflies and some could swim like mermaids. They shared the island with animals who could speak and trees who did not talk, but understood everything. All in all, this was a place where miracles happened every day.

Elfizz was an owner of a gloomy restaurant named Chest of Ghosts where the staff was eager to please ghosts. On the opposite side of the square was a bakery, Gingerbread Nook, run by a pretty plump Elfishki lady called Maggie. The two were at odds with each other until one day they had to work side by side …

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Here’s what you find in the iPad application:

  1. Original, not found anywhere else captivating texts, designed to develop your child’s conscious reading skills – according to the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts.
  2. Stunning interactive art, classic animation and videos.
  3. Professional Audio Voice over of the story, so your child can listen along with the text.
  4. THREE (3) Questions on every page of the book specifically designed to help your child analyze the text, boost their imagination and make predictions about the story.
  5. A bonus game specifically designed to boost your child’s imagination – Decorate the Cake – where you can save and share your child’s fantastic creation.

Elfishki and the Giant Cake has lovely illustrations, many of which are interactive. There are a lot of words, but each “word page” is followed by an “illustration page” that has no words at all. Each page also has three reading comprehension questions. The story follows two Elfishki, Elfizz and Maggy, as they learn to appreciate each other’s differences. The app also has a Russian language setting for the multi-lingual.

Stud likes most book-apps that read to him. With Elfishki and The Giant Cake, he listens to the words and then spends another two or three minutes playing with the illustrations and listening to the musical tracks. With a little prompting and extra help, he is able to give answers to most of the questions.

Boo just finished second grade, but her reading and comprehension are closer to the fourth grade level. She also enjoyed the story, reading it with very little assistance from me. She enjoyed the interactive illustrations, and reading the story to Stud. She was better able to answer the questions without prompting. Bubba (11yo ds) and Monkey Man (10yo ds) enjoyed reading the book with Stud, but they tend to get “all up in his kool-aid” and interact with the illustrations, rather than letting him do it.

Overall, I feel that this book is a great value at $2.99. I am very stingy with my money when it comes to the purchase of apps. “Information should be free” and all. However, this app could be used for quite a few years and with multiple children. You should check it out!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. You can read my full Disclosure Statement.


Cook’n Recipe Organizer – The ultimate kitchen utility!

I am always looking for the “perfect” way to organize our family’s recipes, meal plans, and shopping lists. You can imagine how excited I was to be given the opportunity to review the Cook’n Recipe Organizer recipe software available from DVO.com!

In addition, Maelduin and I have wanted to create a Family Cookbook to pass down to our children, and to give as Christmas gifts, for years. I think we’ve been talking about it for most of a decade now. We have even gone so far as to look at recipe organization software and tried to create templates that we liked in different word processing programs. Nothing was ever exactly what we wanted, though, so it has yet to come to fruition.

Enter Cook’n!

Cook’n allows you to:

  • Easily add your own recipes
  • Capture internet recipes with one click
  • Arrange your recipes in cookbook-like chapters, using colorful themes
  • Print recipes on various card and paper sizes
  • Publish (print) entire cookbooks with title page, table of contents, chapters, and index
  • E-mail recipes to friends and family
  • Export recipes to your website or blog

Cook’n Recipe Organizer has a bunch of videos on You Tube and a facebook page where they run fun contests. Check them out and send some Silver Love their way!

Cook’n has generously offered a discount for my readers! You can use the code mb-sarra to receive 50% off Cook’n.

They have also provided a copy of Cook’n as a prize for one lucky contest winner! Enter at my facebook fan page!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. You may read my full Disclosure Policy here.


28. The Weather


Secret Agent / Spy Party Printable treasure Hunt *Review*

I was given the opportunity to review the Secret Agent/Spy Party Printable Treasure Hunt from Queen of Theme Party Games just in time for a Memorial Day barbecue at my grandmother’s house. My four youngest children (all under twelve) and two other children (ages six and eight) were there. My grandmother’s house sits on 3/4 of an acre of well-kept lawn in the country, affording us a multitude of hiding spaces, and allowing the children to run around like screaming banshees without disturbing anyone except the neighbor’s cows!

All that was needed for the party was cardstock, scissors, a few brad fasteners, pencils or crayons, six or so black balloons (we used a bag of twelve), a couple cotton swabs, less than a teaspoon each of baking soda and water, a couple ounces of grape juice, and (optional) “treasure” for the end of the hunt.

Queen of Theme also has lots of free Spy Party Games and they sell a coordinating set of Personalized Spy Party Supplies! If we were doing this for a party, I would seriously consider the coordinating printables and I would have used many, if not all, of the games. Maelduin made Secret Agent ID Cards, but the ones included in the extra printables are really cute! Also, it would be very easy to take this theme and run with it. You could go all “Sherlock Holmes” and get deerstalker hats and magnifying glasses. Or you could go all “Men in Black” with fedoras and sunglasses for the guests and instructions to wear as much black clothing as possible.

I was a little concerned about the age range we had for our group. Queen of Theme recommends this hunt for ages 7-13, and our group was six kids, ages 3, 6, 8, 8, 10, and 11. Stud (3yo ds) got bored and wandered off to do his own thing, but that’s not unusual. Oppa’s girlfriend’s 6yo dd (how’s THAT for a convoluted description?!) got bored for a few clues, but came back near the end. I think part of the problem was that the (bigger/older) boys were figuring out the clues before the (smaller/younger) girls had a chance to help. I had never met Oppa’s girlfriend’s kids and my younglings can be fickle when it comes to this kind of activity.

First Clue and completed Key Locator

Rot-13 Decoders and Morse Code “cheat sheets” provided by Queen of Theme, and the FBI “I.D.s” that Maelduin made.

Using the Rot-13 Decoder to figure out the first clue.

Clue Three found!

Clue Four was hiding in the mailbox!

Clue Five

Clue Six: They had to break the “bombs” to find the pieces to this clue. I will under-inflate the bombs the next time we do this, as they broke too easily!

I missed the rest of the clues, because they flew through them too quickly for me to take pictures!

I was amazed at how much the kids liked this. More than once they told me that we needed to do this again the next time we all get together! They were so intent on figuring out the last clue, that they completely missed the bag of “treasure” marked “Mission Completed” that was sitting right in front of them on the table! I think I took six pictures of it, just because I was so entertained!

Mission (almost) Completed!

They’re all so intent on figuring out the last clue that they have missed the “treasure” right in front of them!

In all, I would say that this party kit is worth every penny, especially since you can use it for more than one party! We will definitely use this again. It will be so easy to print out a new set and use new locations. I even think the Boy Scout Troop (ages 11-18) would like this if we used harder locations (say different points on a hiking trail) or if they set it up for the Cub Scout Pack.

We used it as a cooperative activity, but you can break a larger group up into smaller teams and have them each use different locations. There are 30 locations on the Key Locator, so you could use the same 30 locations for three teams, just mixing the locations up so that each team has it’s clues hidden in different locations.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. You can read my full Disclosure Policy.


12. something sweet

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Wordless Wednesday

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Scout Rank

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Our oldest son was recognized tonight, at his troop’s Court of Honor, for achieving the rank of Scout.

He actually achieved rank a while ago and has been working towards Tenderfoot, but this was his first Court of Honor since joining the troop.

<sigh> They grow up so fast.


22. Pink

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21. Where I Stand

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Don’t Blink (The Tenth Doctor)

“People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but *actually* from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint – it’s more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly… time-y wimey… stuff.”

“Fascinating race, the Weeping Angels. The only psychopaths in the universe to kill you nicely. No mess, no fuss, they just zap you into the past and let you live to death. The rest of your life used up and blown away in the blink of an eye. You die in the past, and in the present they consume the energy of all the days you might have had, all your stolen moments. They’re creatures of the abstract. They live off potential energy.”

The Tenth Doctor

Disclaimer: I found this fantastic piece by Hydra-Lantern at Deviant Art.


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