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Disclosure: This site contains sponsored posts, affiliate links (which means I earn a percentage of the sale) and is part of the Amazon affiliate program, but all opinions are strictly my own.

Kiwi Crate {Giveaway} – CLOSED

Disclosure: This could be a sponsored post or contain affiliate links (which means I earn a percentage of the sale), but all opinions are strictly my own.

I wake up every morning with every good intention of busting out a fabulous Pinterest-worthy craft that is new, mind-stimulating, creative, and age-appropriate for the kids.  This rarely happens.  You know how it goes.  You finally come with the idea, you hunt down the supplies, you’re constantly interrupted by meals, snacks, diaper changes, phone calls, important emails, the UPS man, the broken disposal, etc. etc. etc…you gather your kids, enthusiastically explain the project, they start throwing the supplies, water is spilled, you’re running around like a maniac cleaning up messes instead of actually having a bonding/teaching moment, and you throw your hands up the in the air and just start cleaning up.

kiwi-crate-PMS376I struggle with this a lot!  But don’t lose hope, mothers of America.  There is a box that arrives on your doorstep, organized into a them, chock full of supplies, ideas, and content to learn about.  This box of wonders is called Kiwi Crate, and though this might be the first monthly box for kids that we’ve tried, it won’t be the last.  My eyes have been opened as to what craft time can and should be like!

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We were sent the Busy with Bugs box, and to my boys, opening this box was practically like opening a box of candy.  Paint and scissors?!  We went to town.  This box is full of everything we could have needed–sponges, paint brush, pencil, painting boards, paper liners, cardboard tray, clear bottles, stickers, pipe cleaners, string, etc.  Even small pieces of scotch tape, pre-cut and peelable, was supplied.  You could take this box camping or on an airplane, and you wouldn’t find yourself missing any supplies.

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Picture instructions guided us all along the way and even incorporated questions to ask and talk about with the kids.  Additional activity suggestions make this the box that keeps on giving.  The ingeniously designed “no-fight” crate feature (which is what we received) allows you to add on supplies for a sibling for only $9.95.

IMG_9577Within the box was another firefly bug activity, which was a nice contrast to the first.  This was less messy, but needed more parental involvement.  They are both great for a variety of ages and interests and creative ability.  Ages 3-8 sounds just right.

Untitled-17These fireflies were a big hit!  Especially the glow sticks inside that make the fireflies glow in the dark.

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We tied one side onto a chair and let the boys lift and lower the zipline to see the bugs fly up and down.

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So are you wondering if $19.99 is worth the cost of an afternoon of glee?  Consider this: atleast in our box, we were sent high quality scissors and large bottles of paint that will be used long after today.  Besides the supplies, the box provides you with ideas, a lesson plan, and future activities so that you can save your brainpower on coming up with ideas and you save yourself the runaround of tracking down every small this-and-that supply.  So yes, I would say this price is fair.  Sign you and your cutey up!

One winner is going to receive their own Busy with Bugs Kiwi Crate!  ($19.99)

IMG_9566Because I was sent the winner’s prize box along with my review box, the winner will be responsible for paying shipping from me to you, via paypal invoice.  This also means that this giveaway is open to WORLDWIDE entries!  The box weighs 1.4 lbs. and will be sent from 02128, if you’d like to calculate the cost.

*This giveaway is open to worldwide entries.
*The winner of this giveaway will be drawn no later than the evening of Feb 21st and will be emailed.  If the winner does not respond within 48 hours, a new winner will be drawn.
*The product(s) in this review was provided to me free of cost for the purpose of conducting this review.  All opinions expressed in this review are my own are not influenced by monetary compensation.  

Rock ‘N Learn {Giveaway} – CLOSED

Disclosure: This could be a sponsored post or contain affiliate links (which means I earn a percentage of the sale), but all opinions are strictly my own.

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As I spend more time with moms with children of my son’s age, I’m realizing that pre-school is really the norm around here.  Its definitely not something we can afford right now, especially with grad school just around the corner, so I’ve been brainstorming ways and ideas to pack my toddler’s childhood with things he needs to learn to be ready for kindergarten.  I’ve really started to focus on what he’s watching during quiet-time.  Instead of good ol’ PBS, I’m trying to chock him full of educational videos that hit the alphabet and reading head on.  Valerie and I must have been having the same thoughts, because she also reviewed a Rock N Learn DVD last week, and you can read her review HERE.
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Rock N Learn is exactly what I had in mind and their Letter Sounds DVD  is just the perfect thing for “Rocket”!  It grabs his attention from the start and dives right in to the alphabet, and the set up is very conducive to learning.  The DVD started out with pictures of the letter, an object that starts with a letter, and a mouth in the top corner that is saying the letter and word aloud so you’re able to see the correct placement.
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When my son was in Early Intervention and had speech therapists come to the house weekly, they focused a lot on getting him to put his mouth in the correct shape, as in sucking on straws to make a correct “W” and licking peanut butter off the room of your mouth to make an “L”.  Being able to see the shapes of the mouth is right in line with what we’re working on at home.
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Rock N Learn is a treasure trove of educational DVDs.  They cover almost 40 different topics, with an age span of preschool to 10 and up.
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Our DVD is meant for ages 4-7, but my 3 year old was hooked, and even the baby sat through the majority of it.  62 min. is a little long for squirmy bodies, but not a problem for older children.  There was enough variety, but still a lot of repetition, to convince me that this is an excellent way to teach.  The music was peppy, the characters were friendly, and the examples were funny.  After a “game show” format in the middle of the DVD, letters start combining to making words, nice and slow and simple.
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It goes even further and introduces simple sentences.  The progression makes it easy to stop the DVD and rewind in order to review the basics if it gets too advanced.
These would make great gifts for kids, their parents, and teachers!  Use the coupon code JQ7711 for 25% off on your order at www.rocknlearn.com.

One winner will get to choose any DVD or CD from Rock ‘N Learn!

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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.

School Zone {Giveaway}–CLOSED

Disclosure: This could be a sponsored post or contain affiliate links (which means I earn a percentage of the sale), but all opinions are strictly my own.

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My son is almost 4-years-old and is already starting on the path to reading. He is recognizing words, signs, logos and letters everywhere we go. This would be great if he were going to start Kindergarten next fall, but because he is a December birthday, he will have to wait ANOTHER YEAR to start. As in, he won’t be starting Kindergarten until Fall 2015. I have him enrolled in a co-op preschool with some friends this year, but I’m still unsure how we’ll spend the next year after that learning without getting bored. Hello, workbooks and flashcards, and Hello, School Zone!

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School Zone is a family-owned company that is dedicated to creating the best pre-school and elementary products for supplemental learning. They are best known for their flash cards and workbooks, but they also sell books, software, activity books and electronic learning. Their products are all developed by teachers and educators and are constantly updated to reflect the latest standards, teaching methods and best practices. They have so many workbooks and flashcards for phonics, letters, spelling, sight reading, cursive, math, fractions, science, etc., that I could go crazy buying up their whole store and be set for at-home learning for the next 6 years! Their website is nicely laid out so that you can search individual products (software, for example) or you can pick a level (say, 1st grade) and search products specifically aimed at that learning level.

We were sent the Start to Read Early Reading Program (Level 1) book collection, Beginning Reading Software, and Bedtime Alphabet Flashcards to review.

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The Start to Read book collection ($24.99) comes with 5 Beginning Reader Books, 1 Read-Along & Songs CD, 1 Comprehension Book and 1 Parent Guide. The books are short and easy to understand, with lots of rhyming passages and great illustrations. The CD reads each book twice through; once with sound effects and music so kids can listen to the story and understand it, and a second time with just the words, so kids can focus on reading the words along with the CD. My son really enjoyed being able to “read” the books by himself and when I asked him questions from the Comprehension Guide, I found he’d absorbed most of what he’d read.

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The Beginning Reading Software ($9.99) features interactive versions of two of the books from the Start to Read collection (“Jog, Frog, Jog!” and “Nine Men Chase a Hen”). My son wasn’t as interested in the books because I think he was a little burned out on the stories, and, with the advent of App Books, the technology wasn’t that exciting to him. What he did like was the Dictionary, which gives verbal and illustrated definitions of the words in the stories, and the Create A Story game. He spent a good hour picking out pictures, drawing on them and then stringing together pre-chosen words and phrases to make his own “story.”

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The Bedtime Alphabet Flashcards (on sale now for $7.99) are the most innovative part of the package. The set features flashcards of every alphabet letter (plus a few random animals and objects) and each picture/letter is scored to be popped out. Once popped out, the cards double as stencils in the day and shadow puppets by night. A mini flashlight is included with the set so you can learn in the dark with the interactive cards. This was by far my son “Ralph’s” favorite part; he waited patiently all day but couldn’t wait until it got dark enough to play with his flashcards in his room at night! I love that these cards have more uses than just as a flashcard. My only complaint would be that they’re pretty thin and flimsy, and a few pieces were ripped in trying to pop out the letters and shapes. But overall, we love them!

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All School Zone products can be purchased online at SchoolZone.com and come with a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.  Connect with School Zone on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube to be aware of the newest products and deals. Right now, School Zone and Dandy Giveaway have paired up to offer you the same Learning to Read Set that I reviewed (book collection, software and flashcards), so enter below to win!

Click the Button to Enter the Giveaway!

13 FB Enter to Win! Btn_Orange

 

** This giveaway is open to U.S. entries only.

**The giveaway will end October 12, 2013. The winner will be announced by School Zone. 

** This posting and giveaway were sponsored by School Zone, but all opinions are strictly my own.

Bumper Wipe Clean Activities {Review}

Disclosure: This could be a sponsored post or contain affiliate links (which means I earn a percentage of the sale), but all opinions are strictly my own.

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9781859857663Bumper Wipe Clean Activities

by Juliet David; illustrated by Marie Allen

Our church service is three hours long every Sunday, and the first hour is spent in our chapel for “Sacrament Meeting”.  We sit as families and we all do our best to keep our kids of all ages quiet and seated.  Some days are much harder than others!  We mothers have all shared ideas and passed around the books and toys, but I know that I find myself continuously looking for even more sit-still-and-quiet activities for my rambunctious boys.

This Bumper Wipe Clean Activities book is super, super, super!   This is one of the best quiet books we’ve taken to church EVER, and I’m excited to tell you more about it.  First of all, kids love markers.  They write easier, darker, and brighter than crayons or colored pencils, so any activity that involves a marker is bound to be a winner.

There are 72 pages in this activity book!  Your little guy could spend a minute on each page and be occupied for well over an hour.   What makes it so intriguing is the huge variety in activities.  It seems like every page is something new, from mazes, dot to dots, spot the mistake, find the way, matching pairs, to hidden objects, etc. etc.

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What I love about this activity book is that it is obviously not a one-time activity book.  The game is not over as soon as you’ve done every page.  Wiping it clean is fast and easy, and it makes for a brand new clean start from the beginning.  The marker comes off just by smearing it with your fingers, and I never needed to pass over it more than twice.  I imagine using a tissue, or even some windex if necessary, would be able to clean up any markings no matter long they’ve been left on.  I also like that the pages have a moderate to thick lamination, making them sturdy, hard to bend, and easy to clean.  Every page is full of bright colors, friendly drawings, and wonderful stories!

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I love being able to bring this to church because of the bible stories that my son is getting more exposure to.  While he is also helping Jesus find his way to John the Baptist in a maze, he is being exposed to bible characters and stories, and hopefully becoming more and more familiar with this stories that I cherish.  This was a hit with both my boys (under 3), so surely it will entertain a wide variety of ages.

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You can find this book for sale HERE for $12.99.

*I received this book from Kregel Publications in order the write this review, but all opinions are strictly my own.

Swish, Jr. {Giveaway}–CLOSED

Disclosure: This could be a sponsored post or contain affiliate links (which means I earn a percentage of the sale), but all opinions are strictly my own.

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As you may recall, our family LOVES playing games together.  The kids and I still play card games together almost every day, and my husband and I like to challenge each other to a strategy game at night once the kids are in bed. So, naturally, I gravitate toward game companies when seeking out products to review. I stumbled upon Think Fun and found out that they have tons of great family games in their collection!

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I first heard of Think Fun in Parents Magazine. Their newest game, Word A Round, was named one of the Top 10 Family Board Games by the magazine, and it looked like my kind of game. The company makes all sorts of family games, from Early Learning to Logic Games to Brainteasers to Mobile Apps. They sell puzzles, card games, board games, and everything in between. In their shop you can search for games by Skill Set (reasoning, memory, math, etc.), Type, Age and Price, which makes searching for just the right game for your family so easy. One of their more popular card games, Swish™, has a kid brother, Swish™ Jr., and we were sent this game to review.

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Swishâ„¢ Jr. is a visual game in which you ‘re trying to make matches, or “swishes. ” The cards are clear and have different designs on them–some designs are opaque and some are just outlined–and your goal is to match the designs so the object can “swish” through the hole of the other design. You can stack as few as two and as many as 12 cards on top of one another to make swishes, but no design can be left hanging.  And just like most card games, the player with the most matches at the end of the game wins. If my description made absolutely no sense to you, watch this short video below, and you’ll get it.

My husband and I played Swishâ„¢ Jr. and at first followed the easy variation of finding only two cards to “swish.” I am the first to admit that I’m TERRIBLE at anything spatial, so I knew I would be pathetic at this game. However, it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I was able to hold my own this round and had a good time playing.  After that, it all went downhill for me. The 3-card version (having to match 3 cards to create a swish) for me was way harder and was even challenging for my husband, though he was definitely smoking me. I realize that this is the junior version and is meant for kids, so I think after playing a  few times through and getting the mechanics of the game we’d be just fine. However, I do think it would be challenging for younger kids, but it is meant to be an educational, brain-building game, so a little challenge is good! Think Fun recommends the game for ages 5 and up, and I think depending on how you play (2 swishes vs. 3 or more), that is an appropriate age range.

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We had a fun time playing together and I think it would be even more fun with a few other players (you can have up to 6 players). Having more people would definitely change the pace and the strategy of the game. This is a great game for your children who struggle with visual/spatial learning to help them improve that area while still having fun–I wish it had existed when I was younger! You can buy Swishâ„¢ Jr. online  for $12.99 and at select Walmart stores nationwide.

Enter to win a copy of Swishâ„¢ Jr. for your family!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

** This giveaway is open to U.S. entries only.

** The winner of this giveaway will be drawn no later than the morning of August 31st, 2013, and will be emailed within 24 hours.  If the winner does not respond within 48 hours, a new winner will be drawn.

** This posting and giveaway were sponsored by Think Fun, but all opinions are strictly my own.

Alphabet Flash Cards by Educational Toys Planet {Review}

Disclosure: This could be a sponsored post or contain affiliate links (which means I earn a percentage of the sale), but all opinions are strictly my own.

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Kindergarten is still a few years away, and I’m already feeling the pressures of getting my son reading before he goes.  You should understand that most of my friends are the wives of MIT students here in Boston, so education is a huge priority and starting them young on letters and sounds is a big push.  I’ve started to look around for some tools and guides to help teach “Rocket” some fundamentals and get him on a good track for learning.  I had the opportunity to review the Alphabet Flash Cards for 3+ Year Old Kids, made by Educational Toys Planet, and I think these are just what I was looking for!

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I was first impressed with the number of cards in the box.  For $2.97, I was not expecting 56 cards on hardstock, with vibrant colors and such detailed pictures.  This consists of 26 uppercase cards, 26 lowercase cards, 3 index cards, and one parent card.

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I think these are great for the budding alphabetist!  My son is 2 and 3/4, and considering that he is still on the tale end of the curve on language, I didn’t expect him to be busting out the letters when I showed him these pictures, but I was pleased with what he could do with these.  Right now, he is naming the object with pride when I show him the picture, and then I say the letter out loud and he will repeat it.  I am pleased with where we are at right now, and the great thing about these flashcards is that we can continue to use them as he starts to identify more letters.

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I like that both an uppercase and lowercase card is included in this set, so that there are two cards for each letter.  The pictures aren’t confusing as to what object we are trying to label (ie there is rarely more than one object on the card), and the letters on the back are big and bold.

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You could play so many games with these!  Besides going through them in traditional flash-card style, you could flip half of them over and try to match the pictures with their letter.  I can see these being a fun tool and game for children up through gradeschool.

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The pictures are friendly, large, and colorful, and the 52 objects that have been chosen are fairly standard words that a 3-year old could learn.  Besides maybe “elf” and “fox”, which I don’t think I’ve taught my son yet, he could identify each picture with pride.
For $2.97, these are well worth the cost.  They make a fun educational tool, and I’m happy to have this available when we start to hit reading hard!  Educational Toys Planet carries a HUGE assortment of educational toys, specifically geared towards preschoolers.  Check out their “Learning the Alphabet” section and be sure to follow them through their social media sites below.

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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’t Make Me {Book Review}

Disclosure: This could be a sponsored post or contain affiliate links (which means I earn a percentage of the sale), but all opinions are strictly my own.

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You Can’t Make Me (But I Can Be Persuaded) by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias

I think I have a very strong willed child.  See, I don’t know, because he’s my first!  Maybe he’s just a typical toddler, but I do think he’s much tougher than other sweet children his age, and he’s certainly gotten me looking for some literature guidance on how to raise him up right!  Whether he is or he isn’t, wasn’t or will be, I found this book comforting and interesting on many levels.

I thought it was perfectly informative, humorous, pleasant, and non-judgmental, as the author classifies herself as a SWC (strong-willed child), with a SWC son of her own.  I could see myself and my son in many of her stories.  I think this book can be helpful to parents of strong-willed children of all ages, as it discusses how to help the toddler, school-age, and teenage child.  I appreciate that it wasn’t a “How to fix your problem child” book, but rather a “How to bring out the best in your amazingly passionate child”

Most helpful of all, I feel empowered with a new sense of how to talk to strong willed children—which questions to ask, how to direct instead of force, and what phrases to avoid, as now I understand that he still needs to have some control and choice in all matters.

Instead of seeing my boy as my exhausting challenge, I see him as a great force that is capable of things that others aren’t, as in “the very traits and characteristics that get the SWC in trouble are the ones that could potentially change the world” (p. 97).

I think this book is a great resource and a great parenting tool for new parents, and even experienced ones.  I also appreciated the religious messages and God-centered advice to parents.  I will be recommending it friends of mine also looking for help in raising their own little “rockets”. 🙂

 

See the Author’s website HERE.  More information on the book can be found HERE.  In fact, you can read Ch. 1 HERE, and read an author bio HERE.  I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Klutz {Giveaway} – CLOSED

Disclosure: This could be a sponsored post or contain affiliate links (which means I earn a percentage of the sale), but all opinions are strictly my own.

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What little boy isn’t into cars, right?!  Have you ever met a toddler boy who ISN’T a little car crazy?  If you are a mother/aunt/grandma/friend of just such a toddler, you have got to see this darling activity book by Klutz.  It’s a Disney Lightning McQueen Build & Race!

Within the pages of the book are 12 sturdy cars (including Lightning McQueen, Mater, and Sally) you can punch out, as well as reusable stickers to decorate with.  When they’re ready, you snap on the included wheels, unfold this giant racetrack, and ta-da!  A little play mat perfect for a little rugrat to enjoy for hours!  I can’t WAIT to give this to “Rocket” for his birthday coming up!

 

Klutz has such a fabulous array of books geared towards boys and girls of many ages.  How great are these?!  For around $20, what a creative way to give a book, an activity, and a personalized gift at the same time!  I remember eyeing these as a little girl and just dreaming and longing about owning one!  I was a pretty crafty, hands-on kind of pre-teen, and these type of book kits were totally up my alley of what I thought was great entertainment.

              

When I excitedly showed my husband the Klutz book we got in the mail, he told me how he remembered enjoying Klutz books as a kid!  He was really into magic, like magic tricks and games, and tried out a few of Klutz’s magic books.  How great that our kids can enjoy Klutz books too!

    

One lucky winner will receive this same Disney Lightning McQueen Build & Race book!  Ka Chow!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*This giveaway is open to US entries only
*The winner of this giveaway will be posted no later than the evening of Friday, October 12th and emailed within 24 hours.  If the winner does not respond within a week, a new winner will be drawn.
*This posting and giveaway were sponsored by Klutz, but all opinions are strictly my own

Preschool for Banjo

Disclosure: This could be a sponsored post or contain affiliate links (which means I earn a percentage of the sale), but all opinions are strictly my own.

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I’m stressing out!  Yes I know that my Banjo is only 2 and 1/2, so he won’t attend preschool until the fall of 2011.  However, I’m still stressing.  Because…  most of the schools are registering in January!!!  As in THIS January!  Like in less than 3 months!  Now do you see why I’m stressing?  Maybe not, but let me explain.  I’m a researcher.  I’m a planner.  I’m decision making impaired.  It takes me forever to decide on things!  So I currently have around 3 potential preschools.  Which means I need to go and visit all 3.  See how they work.  Talk to the teachers.  Decide which one is a good fit for Banjo.  What am I looking for?  I have NO IDEA!  I’ve never had a child in preschool before, so how am I supposed to know the drill and what to look for?  Solution: Research, since that’s what I’m good at.  That includes reading material.  Are you in the same boat as me?  Looking to be educated on how to pick a preschool?  Want a good deal on a book to help ya?  Well, here you go:  How to Choose the Best Preschool for your Child by Jenifer Wana

For the next 4 days you can get this book for just $7.50 (that’s half off)!  GO  HERE  for this way dandy deal!

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