Showing posts with label review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label review. Show all posts

Chewigem Review and Giveaway!
This photo was borrowed from the Chewigem website.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.  I received a free chewigem in exchange for an honest review.  All the opinions are my own and because I was already a big fan of the product I did not ask for payment, just the free product for my child and for the giveaway!

I first wrote about Chewigem when I discovered it through Dyspraxia USA.  I have since gotten one for my daughter, A, so I wanted to write a review and give someone else a chance to try this for themselves.

My daughter has some sensory issues and one of the biggest ways this manifests itself is with chewing.  She will chew on pens, jewelry, her shirt collar, and erasers.  There are even odder things I have had to make her take out of her mouth.  She will pretty much bite on anything within reach without thinking about it.

I was (am) also dyspraxic and when I was a child my pens and pencils always looked like a puppy had gotten to them.  I also used to chew on phone cords.  (Yes, phones used to have cords).  So, I understand and can relate to this need to gnaw on everything.  Sometimes when I am really lost in my work I still nibble on my pens!

I was really happy when I learned about Chewigem because instead of trying to inhibit a child's need to chew, they devised a way to allow the child to safely indulge in this behavior.

So, what are Chewigems?  Chewigems are jewelry you can sink your teeth into!  It's made of FDA approved silicone and comes in a variety of attractive shapes and colors.  A had a blue one and she wanted a pink one to go with her other outfits, so now she has two.

I was really happy with how the jewelry was made.  I half expected it to be thinner and imagined my daughter eventually chewing through it.  Fortunately, it's very thick and durable and I don't think she could chew through it in 20 years!  Her friends all like it and think it is cute.  They have no idea it is made to chew on, especially since they are used to seeing A chew on everything anyway.  My son, who does not have a chewing problem, is begging me to get him one too because to him it looks like his sister is having a blast chewing away (and I think she is).

When I learned about the vestibular system, I found that children learn and concentrate better when they are allowed to fidget.  I believe that chewing is similar to fidgeting and I think if children are allowed to release energy and be stimulated in this way they can better focus their attention and become less frustrated.  Last night, for example, when I was working on my daughter's math homework with her, she was extremely frustrated.  She said things like, "I just want to run!"  "I need to stretch!"  "I need to scream."  She was randomly, even frantically, putting things in her mouth.  The eraser from her mechanical pencil is no longer attached now. She pulled out an earring and put it in her mouth, too. When I took the earring, her hair went in.  Finally I asked, "Where is your Chewigem?"  She retrieved it.  She chewed on that furiously while we worked.  She was able to concentrate again and get all that stress out on her chewable necklace.  I'm not saying this is a cure-all but it helps. It helps her to cope and I don't have to worry about her choking on anything!

Chewigem has added a lot of new products.  They have dog tags, bangle bracelets, eternity necklaces, cat gems, and more. I'd love to give someone else the opportunity to experience the difference that Chewigem can make in their child's life so I am hosting a giveaway so you can get your own!  Chewigem has been generous enough to offer a free product of your "chewsing" if you win!  Like I said, they have a lot of choices. 

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Guardians of the Galaxy: A Mom's Review


Last night we took the kids to see Guardians of the Galaxy.  My kids are 10 and 6 and the movie is rated PG 13.  I don't normally allow my kids to watch PG-13 movies but I accidentally took them to see The Avengers when that was out and only found out after the movie was over that it was not PG rated.  Since that movie was not so bad, I figured this one would not be either.

I think my husband wanted to see this more than any of us because he is the comic book fan in the house.  My daughter wanted to see it because she is a female version of my husband and pretty much just wants to go anywhere with him.  My son, surprisingly, was not too gung-ho to go even though he loves reading books about super heroes and playing with the action figures.  He also thought Avengers was "AWWWWWESOMMMME" so I really thought he'd want to see this one, too.  As for me, I watched the preview a couple of months ago when I was writing an article on what the big Halloween costumes would be this year and I thought it looked very good!

The closest theater to our home was sold out of tickets three hours in advance so we had to go a half hour away to see the movie.  Even though we arrived forty minutes early, we could not find four seats together.  We had to sit two and two in front of one another.  Basically, this movie was packed.

I won't spoil anything, but I will say that I cried in the first ten minutes of the movie.  After that, I laughed for the rest of it.  I don't laugh easy.  I am finicky with my comedy, but this movie did it for me in that regard.  Chris Pratt from Parks and Rec and The Lego Movie was hilarious as Star Lord.  Bradley Cooper (who I like to call, "The Dude from the Hangover") voiced tough talking Rocket Raccoon and was also very funny.

This movie has a great sound track. Most of the music is 70's which matches Star Lord's look with his super smooth leather jacket.  He rocks out to these jams throughout the movie on his Walkman.  Yes, I said Walkman.  He is a child of 1980's Earth, like me.  Therefore, you also get lots and lots of 80's references and jokes in the movie.  This keeps us parents happy and entertained.

Picture from Come See Toys

All of the Guardians are extraordinary characters with complex back stories.  I cannot pick a favorite out of them because I love them all.  The villains were not too shabby either.

Picture from this site

The movie was a little over two hours long and I did not feel it.  I could have kept on watching these guys all night.  My six year old, he got a little fidgety towards the end but still was enjoying himself.

Why is it rated PG 13?  One thing I will say is there is some bad language in the film.  Nobody drops an F bomb, but you'll hear lots of other colorful words here and there.  The other thing is, of course, violence.  It is not any more violent than the other super hero movies like The Avengers and Iron Man, but it could be scary for some kids.  My daughter at 6 could not have handled it.  She used to run out of the room at just an unpleasant confrontation on TV.  She is only able to handle it now at 10.  My son has never been bothered by this stuff. He knows it is all pretend and handles it fine.  So, every kid is different and only a parent knows for sure.  It's not gory, you don't see much blood and the camera pans away from really violent acts. However, you know what's happening during the fight scenes so if your child is super sensitive this might not be for them.  There is no sex in the movie.  Star Lord makes a few references to being a ladies man but nothing that makes it uncomfortable or confusing for kids to hear. 

As a mom and a movie lover, I love when a kids' movie is as entertaining for the parents to watch as for the kids or when a parent movie is safe enough for the kids to watch with us.  This movie fits the bill for us as a good family movie.  The characters were great, the story was compelling, the music rocked, and we laughed a lot.  We all left the theater feeling good and raving about the film for the entire ride home. 
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#GetNoticed! New Dial Coconut Water Refreshing Mango Body Wash {Review & Giveaway}

Disclosure: I received a free sample of Dial Coconut Water Refreshing Mango Body Wash in exchange for a product review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

I'm going to be honest with you.  Before I had children I was a body wash connoisseur.  I am very into scent and I loved using high end, aromatic, moisturizing washes.  Since having kids, however, I usually only use the good stuff when it's given to me as a gift or I have a coupon.  I also wind up sharing it so it is a family body wash.  In recent years, I have even been known to use ::gasp:: bar soap!

All that being said, you can imagine my elation when I received in the mail a big bottle of Dial Moisturizing Body Wash.

When I began to read about this newest member of the Dial Body Wash family, I got more and more excited.  This isn't only a product that gets you clean, it's nourishing skin care.  Coconut water is rich in antioxidants and electrolytes so it's healthy and hydrating.  Mango is chock full of nutrients as well.

Since I am a scent-aholic, I couldn't wait to open up the bottle and take a whiff.  Dial did not disappoint.  The scent is tropical and clean.  I could not get enough!

Sometimes scent is great in the bottle but doesn't transfer over to us when we use it, so I put it to the test with hand washing and later with a shower.  The hydrating body wash lathers very well and definitely gets you clean.  It also provides some nice, relaxing aromatherapy.  After the hand wash and the shower my skin continued to smell yummy and tropical and never felt dried out!  (As I am writing this I am sniffing my arm and, yup, still smelling tropical after 6 hours!)

Are you ready to try it out yourself? I have coupons for FREE bottles of Dial Coconut Water Refreshing Mango Body Wash to give away!  Enter to win yours now!!

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Kids Academy Apps Review

*Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.  The Kids Academy Company has asked for honest reviews of their apps.  The opinions here are mine alone.

Some of us moms over at Sverve were asked to download and review a few of the education apps made by Kids Academy.  I was honored and excited to be chosen!

As you know, I am working with both of my kids academically over the summer.  Since my son is normally in public school, I want to do as much as I can with him over the break.  These apps were just right for him being that he is not yet reading.  Generally, I think they would be great for kids ages 2 through kindergarten.

The first app I reviewed was Preschool and Kindergarten Learning Games.

Immediately we noticed the visually striking animation which is present in all the Kid's Academy apps.  My son also marveled at the cute animal characters.  There are games here that involve tracing letters, rhyming words, and more!    His favorite part of what we sampled here was the game where you bring a dog through a maze to the correct answer.

The next free app we downloaded was this one: Preschool and Kindergarten Learning Games For Girls and Boys.

Here we found some number games along with other activities and puzzles.  By far, my son's favorite part was the tracing game with the fireflies.  The magical glow and the interactive insects really had him hooked!  This app was full of educational games that offer a lot of positive feedback. The music and voices that congratulated him on a job well done caused a huge smile to spread across my son's face each time he got a correct answer.

Finally, we downloaded Best Kids Songs.  This is a really cute app that sings songs with adorable animation.  We listened to Bingo and sang along.  This app does more than just entertain by giving the kids something to listen to and watch.  It is also interactive, responding to the kids and letting them engage with some of the characters.  It even has a karaoke feature so the children can sing along while parents record them!


I really enjoyed testing out these apps with my sweet boy.  We had a great time and I cannot wait to check out more of what Kid's Academy has to offer.
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Mystery Math Town Review


I have been wanting to download Mystery Math Town by Art Gig for some time now.It has rave reviews on iTunes and on one of my favorite sites Common Sense Media.  The only thing holding me back was the price, the fact that it has one.  I like free.

What prompted me to finally take the plunge and pay the $2.99 were two things.  One is that A and I have gotten through memorizing her math facts so we need an activity to replace the drilling but that will still be reinforcing what she has learned. I don't want to move on to other math like fractions and geometry (which she is really good at) and have her forget her facts. Another is that she has recently become obsessed with mystery stories.  Time for Learning had a unit on mysteries for language arts and she has been devouring mystery books ever since!

I'm glad we got this app.  She is begging me to play just one more level which is a definite plus.  The paintings talk to you and give you clues about the mystery.  You can't finish the level or move to new areas until you solve math problems.  You also collect numbers on your way in order to fill in the equations so it takes strategic thinking.

With each level the players get paintings of different characters to add to their gallery.  There, the characters will make them laugh and tell them a bit more about themselves slowly unraveling the mystery.
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Times Tales Review


We started Times Tales this week.  It's only been two days but the stories seem to be sticking even more than the addition stories did.  This is a DVD rather than a book (although they have a book as well), so maybe that is why she is remembering better, or maybe the stories are better, who knows?

This comes with a DVD and another disc with worksheets and tests on it to print out.  The DVD has two parts.  First, you do Part One for a week or two and once you have those equations down, you move on to the rest.  This is only for the upper times tables which is disappointing to me because they do not have a product for the lower ones.  They start at 3 time 6.  A really needs to also learn 3 times 4 and 3 times 5 as well.  But we'll deal with those later, I guess.

Without me planning it, we moved into times tables at the exact same time Fred did in our Life of Fred books.  I have really been moving instinctively with homeschooling.  I make a plan but then go with my gut and adjust it accordingly.  I was going to move into times tables weeks ago  but decided that we should work on addition and subtraction longer. Somehow, our lessons are all overlapping.  That has been happening since we started this journey.  Our vocabulary words will have something to do with our science lessons.  Social Studies will be reinforced in a Fred story.  A book for language arts will mention something we learned in history.  You know you are doing the right thing in life when you find this type of synchronicity in what you are doing.

So back to my original thought, for dyscalculia, I recommend Time Tales for sure!   It's really the same concept as Addition Stories- every number is a character and when they get together you have a story.  Example: 8 is Mrs Snowman.  4 is a chair.  When Mrs Snowman (8) stands on a chair (4) she reaches for 3 buttons and 2 mittens.  8X4=32.  This actually works.  They go through several steps on the DVD and eventually they get to flashcards with no picture and no talk of the story but now the child knows the equation!  I do not know how or why, but it works!
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Time 4 Learning Review

I signed up with Time 4 Learning in the beginning of the year.  I was not sure how much I would use it so I had books for all our subjects as well.  I had a hard time at first figuring out in what order we were supposed to go in and how to navigate the site.

The first thing we did on T4L was the Language Arts.  A lights up when it is time to do this.  They have familiar characters that come back for every lesson and it feels more like a video game than learning. However, I assure you learning does take place.  It is not too easy by any means (my daughter scored really high in language arts when she was evaluated and this still challenges her) and it covers all the common core standards.  My daughter loves the little cartoons.

There is also a second Language Arts section with spelling words, grammar, and comprehension.  These do not have the interactive cartoons.  This section is more just reading along and clicking answers.  So, it is not as exciting as some of the other sections, but it is still more "fun" than a book and workbook.  We also do things on our own like book reports and if I see she needs practice in something like run on sentences or commas I seek out lessons for this.

The thing she loves the most is Time 4 Art.  I expected it to be an art program like "Paint" for them to draw on, but it is not at all.  It's a program with cartoon characters again that teach really in depth lessons about technique and art history.  It's interactive so the kids can showcase what they learn.  I think I have learned as much doing this with A as I did taking Art History in college!  After each lesson they give the kids some projects to do on their own so they can apply what they just learned about.  A loves it and does it outside of school time, too.  The only problem is she is going to finish the course soon and I know she is going to miss it!

We were doing our own thing with science for a while.  I had an astronomy lapbok I wanted to do with her and I built lessons around that.  When we finished astronomy I decided to give T4L a shot in science.  It's good.  They give you experiments to do which she has really enjoyed.  It's basic stuff for 4th grade like the scientific method and such.  I am also supplementing with some other things.  I like the Waldorf approach to science so I am also teaching about animals and the natural world around us.  Science (at least for fourth grade) is pretty much just reading along and answering questions, too.  No videos or cartoons.

I have not touched social studies on T4L yet.  For 4th grade they have a lot of ancient history.  I decided  that I wanted to teach about our state, NJ, instead.  So, we did a course on NJ history and then learned the counties.  Now we are going to move on to learning the 50 states and capitals.  We also receive the scholastic news in the mail and do that.  After geography, we'll try out the social studies on T4L.  Again, it does not look cartoony- it's pretty much reading and answering questions on the computer so I will probably supplement it with videos and games that relate with the lessons.

That brings me to math.  I did not touch Math on T4L for a while.  We use Life of Fred and we have been working on addition facts since school started.  I knew A could not do fourth grade math yet.  However, at one point she told me she wanted to learn to tell time.  Fred does a lot with this but she wanted more.  So, we skipped to the Time section on T4L and she did well with it.  Then, two weeks ago we began adding T4L to the other math we were doing and she did the addition and subtraction units successfully. So, she is caught up to 4th grade work!  Now we will probably take a break and work on memorizing the times tables like we did with the addition facts and then we will use T4L for math again.  We also use Khan academy, Big Brainz, and Xtra Math.  We have a lot of resources.  I don't want it to get dull and I think the more times things are explained in different ways the better.  One of them will click!

The math section has games.  They are not as high tech as the games in Language Arts.  I suspect they were created earlier.  They are still pretty fun though- for math anyway.  I would not use it as my sole math curriculum though, but maybe for others it is different.  I just don't think it really explains as much as it should how to do things.

T4L keeps records of your child's work so if you are in a state where you need to show the work or you just want to be able to track it, this saves you a lot of time.  Also, it gives you the ability to move up or down one grade level if you need to to accommodate your child.Customer service is very good as well.

Overall, T4L is great!  You really can use it as your sole curriculum and it is only $20 per month.  They even give you a free month for any friend you refer.

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