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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.

Rock ‘N Learn Language DVD {Giveaway}

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.

Hey all, I’m back! I took some time off to pack and unpack a house, but I’m back with a few more great giveaways for you and your family! The first is from a company we know and love here on Dandy Giveaway, Rock ‘N Learn.

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 Rock ‘N Learn is a company that creates educational DVDs for preschoolers through elementary-aged children, teaching topics such as math, reading, science, social studies, languages and test preparation. I’ve reviewed Rock ‘N Learn before on Dandy and liked the product. My kids enjoyed the movie and were learning at the same time, so that’s never a bad thing, right?

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What sets Rock ‘N Learn apart from other educational DVDs is their use of music in learning. With the Alphabet DVD that I reviewed last time, the characters would sing little songs for each letter which really helped cement the letter with the sound and other words that begin with that letter. I believe kids really can learn better through music, and my kids were definitely picking up on things quicker through the songs. However, this DVD was different.

Language DVD

I was sent a free copy of the “Learn a Language” DVD and was excited to see how quickly my children could learn new some new Spanish words through song (we chose to watch Spanish but there are five other languages on the DVD). But while where was a beat constantly in the background, they never sang any actual songs. The characters would point to or hold up a picture of an object (say a window) and then say the word in Spanish (“la ventana”). They would repeat each word twice and move on to another object in the room. They went through a whole house, pointing out common objects, and also went through the basic colors and numbers. They would repeat each section a few times as well to really cement the vocabulary.

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I was disappointed that there wasn’t any singing, but my kids’ learning surely didn’t suffer! My 2- and 4-year old both caught on right away, saying the picture word in English as they held it up and said it in Spanish. By the end of the 37-minute DVD they were repeating some of the words in Spanish, too! About 30 minutes in, they were starting to get a little restless and bored, but they had definitely picked up on some new words and new skills.

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Like I said, we chose to watch Spanish but you can also watch the same video with Mandarin Chinese, French, Italian, German and English as the language as well. Just think: you could teach your kid to speak 6 different languages for only $19.99! Rock ‘N Learn products can be found at teacher supply stores, specialty stores, Barnes & Noble and other online retailers. But if you shop through Rock ‘N Learn’s website, you can get 25% off your entire purchase with the code KR8822! So go fill your virtual shopping cart with the loads of educational DVDs that Rock ‘N Learn has to offer and start bragging about your trilingual baby genius 😉 Or enter this contest to win a DVD or CD of your own!

Win a DVD of your choice from Rock ‘N Learn!

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

** The winner of this giveaway will be drawn no later than the morning of May 13,2014, 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 Rock ‘N Learn, but all opinions are strictly my own. 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 and 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!

Online Store / Facebook / Twitter

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.

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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My kids learn from music. It’s scary how quickly they both can remember a song, a rhyme or even instructions when given in song form. I actually have to be really careful what we listen to on the radio because they will remember things after the first go-through, and it’s usually the things you don’t want them to remember! So when I found this company, Rock N Learn, I knew it was for us!

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Rock N Learn is a series of educational DVDs, CDs and Apps dedicated to teaching children through music. They sell DVDs that teach everything from early childhood learning to science, math, reading and even foreign languages. Most of the songs are all in the style of rock, but for math and social studies they also offer rap and country DVDs. Those are some our family would never purchase, but I’m sure someone out there would 🙂

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Their website is really easy to navigate–you can search for DVDs by Subject or by Age, and there is a special tab for their Mobile Apps, iBooks, and Albums available for download on iTunes. And the variety of products they offer is fabulous. Here’s just a sample: Phonics,  Money and Money Changing, Reading Comprehension, Grammar, Getting Ready for Kindergarten, Math Word Problems, Physical Science, the Solar System, States & Capitals, and lots more. They also sell some of their Preschool & Kindergarten titles as Books with CDs, which my son is SUPER into recently, so I love that option.

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 I was sent a copy of the Alphabet DVD to review. My almost-4-year old has known his alphabet for a long time, so I thought he’d be bored with it. But the first time we watched it he was glued. I like that along with showing a picture of the letter (both upper and lower case) and saying the letter name, they show pictures of other words that start with that letter and spell out the word below the picture.  I think this helped extend the video from being just for “babies” to “big kids” (in his words). Another cool thing about this video was that at the end, once they’d gotten through all the letters, they had some letter games. One game was recognizing letters in different fonts, and another was the “Name Game,” where you stand up when the first letter of your name is on the screen. Also, at the very end they show how to write each letter on a chalkboard. This is especially appropriate for my older kid who is learning to write, but a little over-the-top for my two-year old who is just learning her letters. Because of that, I would say the video caters to a wide variety of skills and ages.

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The animation is nothing spectacular, but it kept my kids interest for the 35 minutes of the DVD. The songs were also less “rock” and all started to sound the same after a while, but again, my kids enjoyed it and I know they were learning, so I can handle it. Let’s just say it’s not a DVD I would pop in and watch on my own time 🙂 Here’s a sample of the Alphabet DVD I reviewed. You can preview most DVDs on the individual pages on their website.

Rock N Learn products can be purchased at Rocknlearn.com and on Amazon.com. The prices are pretty reasonable–$19.99 for DVDs, $12.99 for CDs with Books, $3.00 for Books, and some Apps are even free!  They even sell some DVDs in groups, like the 1st & 2nd Grade Collection, at a discounted bundle price. Right now Rock N Learn is offering YOU a discount code for 25% off on any products on their website. Just enter the code JQ7711 at Checkout.  But for one really lucky reader, they are offering a DVD or CD of your choice!

Enter to Win a Rock N Learn DVD or CD of your Choice!

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

** The winner of this giveaway will be drawn no later than the morning of November 30, 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 Rock N Learn, but all opinions are strictly my own.

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.

Kinderfeets {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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I have a five-year-old in my house!  We just celebrated his birthday last week, and I really can’t believe that he’s grown up so much into such an independent, fun-loving boy.  I’m really excited for this next year and all of the fun things he’ll be learning, and one of the things that popped into my head while we were outside the other day is that he should be losing the training wheels on his bike and learning how to ride a two-wheeler!

kinderfeets

I’m a little nervous to just take those training wheels off and send him on his way, so I was searching for something that could ease the transition and help him feel more confident before sending him into the world of skinned knees and banged-up elbows.  I was ecstatic to come across Kinderfeets, which is actually designed for children ages 2 to 5 years old!  This wooden bike helps children transition to any pedal-powered bicycle at their own comfort level, and they can quickly move their feet from the pedals to the ground as needed.

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” More than a toy, Kinderfeets is a father’s gift to his son. Disappointed with the push bikes available, Dutch designer Oscar Mulder decided to create his own balance bike for his son, Sebastiaan.  Oscar wanted Sebastiaan to be able to cruise once he became confident enough, so he broke the push bike mold and added footpegs. Knowing kids love to get dirty, he added a removable seat cover that can go in the wash with the rest of the laundry. Other push bikes have inflatable tires that go flat, interrupting the fun. But Kinderfeets’ tires don’t require air. Plus, Kinderfeets’ colorful chalkboard finish provides a reusable canvas for children to exercise their creativity. Older now, Sebastiaan rides a regular bike with ease and confidence – all thanks to the push bike his father designed with him in mind.

We received the red Kinderfeets bike to review, and this product actually arrived just days before my son’s birthday!  It’s always fun to have such a big present to open, and my son also loved assembling the Kinderfeets with Dad as much as he loved riding it!  From the very start, he immediately jumped on and was able to “walk” with the bike to get it started before lifting his feet onto the pedals and coasting down the driveway.  He was just fine when going straight, but it took some time and “getting used to” on turns and when he started to go a little faster than he planned.  It was easy for him to simply put his feet down and stop himself or to catch himself before falling.  His balance on the bike has become so much better over the week, and he’s able coast much further more confidently.

The other part that my son loved was the chalkboard finish — he spent a good part of the afternoon writing on his bike with chalk and decorating it with his name and other fun designs!  I thought this was a great way to personalize his bike without doing anything permanent, and this feature certainly set Kinderfeets apart from other bikes.

Since Kinderfeets is designed for both toddlers and preschoolers, I wondered how my two-year-old would do on the Kinderfeets bike.  I took him outside the other morning (while my five-year-old was at preschool, of course!), and I was surprised by how quickly he took to balancing and moving himself.  The seat was set a little high for him, but he was still able to catch on to the idea of maneuvering himself around using his own feet and then pulling his feet up once he got going.  Once my older son transitions to a two-wheeler bike, I imagine that this Kinderfeets will be quickly taken over by his little brother.  🙂

Online Website / Facebook / YouTube

**This post and review was sponsored by Kinderfeets, but all opinions are strictly my own.

Sneakin’ in Science {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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By this point in summer, I’m assuming that many of you have had your kids out of school for a couple of weeks, meaning that you’ve stayed up late, slept in the next morning, lounged and played at the pool, and have had endless sleepovers with friends.  And, if you’re anything like me, you’re realizing that you can only take the laziness for a couple of weeks before you crave a little bit of structure and routine back in your schedule again.

My little boy is in preschool for a couple of mornings a week, and our afternoons can get really long while we’re stuck in the house for a couple of hours while my youngest naps each day.  These afternoon hours are the only time that my four-year-old can watch movies and play on the computer, but we can only take so much of that each day before we start to feel like time is being wasted.  And, if you’re like me, your Pinterest board titled “Kids Activities” has about 200 pins on it with lots of amazing ideas — but you realize at 2:30 p.m. when you can’t leave the house that you don’t have all materials needed for those fabulous art projects, experiments, sensory activities, etc.

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If you’re in either one of these binds and are looking for something fun to sneak in some learning while having fun, Sneakin’ in Science is an excellent monthly subscription box that includes all materials needed for a great science experiment!  From my experience, science experiments seem to be the one-size-fits-all activity that can capture of the attention of kids of (almost) all ages.  We received these three activities in the mail:

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April-Geodes/Mineral Dig Kit If you like collecting rocks and minerals then this month’s experiment is for you!  Not only will you get to search through soil to find samples of different minerals you’ll also get to crack open a geode to see the crystals inside.  You’ll get a mineral dig kit in which you will find samples of common minerals.  The mineral dig includes a guide to help you id the minerals you find as well as information about how they form and their properties.  You’ll also receive a geode that will need to be put into an old sock or bag to be split with a hammer (safety goggles and adult supervision are a must!).

**This was a good activity that my son did outside with my husband while I was teaching piano lessons, but I heard about it for the rest of the evening!  The most exciting part of this experiment for my four-year-old was trying to break open the geode with Dad, and they enjoyed using tools and magnifying glasses to see things inside.

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May-Marshmallow Launcher Learn all about air and air pressure with this month’s experiment, a marshmallow launcher!  You will receive material to make a contraption that will launch marshmallows at least 8 feet.  You can put your materials together in the recommended way or experiment and design your own unique marshmallow launcher!  You also get stickers to decorate your creation along with some neat experiments you can try to learn more about air.

**Definitely the favorite of the three that we received!  We enjoyed following the directions to put together the marshmallow launcher itself, then we came up with some pretty fun games (try to get the marshmallow the furthest, closest to a certain point, to go over the couch, etc.).  Balloons are always a hit at my house, so we had some more fun using those to see how air and wind worked.

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June-Sensitive Plant Plants can’t move on their own right?  This one can!  This plant moves on its own when you touch it.  Leave it alone and it goes back to the way it was.  You’ll receive about 5 seeds along with directions on how to plant them.  You are guaranteed to grow at least one plant or I will send you more seeds.  Learn how this amazing plant works!  If you like different kinds of plants you love learning about what it is like to be a botanist!

**Our seeds are planted and we can see growth, but we haven’t gotten to the stage where we see the plants close up — we’re (impatiently!) waiting!  Our neighbors are growing a garden in their backyard, though, so both of the boys enjoyed this experiment so that they could plant something and take care of it the same way they’ve seen our neighbors work with their plants.

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There is a Sneakin’ in Science subscription plan to fit every budget:

One Year Plan: Includes a new experiment each month for a year.  One time payment of $120.00

6 Month Plan: A new experiment each month for 6 months.  One time payment of $62.00

3 Month Plan: A new experiment each month for 3 months. One time payment of $34.00

Monthly Plan:  One month.  This option does not renew itself.  If you would like to receive additional months you will have to choose this option again.  $12.00 monthly.

All prices include shipping and taxes. No hidden costs.

Head on over to Sneakin’ in Science and take a look at some great science experiment idea on their blog, their pictures of fun science in action on Facebook, and their subscription options along with birthday party offers at their website!

Website / Blog / Facebook

**I was provided review materials from Sneakin’ in Science, but all opinions are strictly my own.

The Christian Mama’s Guide {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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I’ll admit it to everyone and anyone — I am a book mom.  I’d been reading parenting books long before I even had kids (due in part to my background in education), but I stocked up during my first pregnancy.  I read everything about pregnancy, labor, delivery, the first year, sleeping, nursing, feeding, anything under the sun related to babies.  When my second son was born, though, I can’t think of one pregnancy/infancy book that I even cracked.  By that point, of course, I was reading everything under the sun related to potty-training, preparing for a new sibling, preschools — I knew how to do the baby thing, but how the heck was I supposed to handle this rambunctious three-year-old??

I had found a couple of great books that I liked for each stage, but I remember thinking how I wished that I could just find an author of a parenting book who had an entire series devoted to parenting.  That way, I wouldn’t have to read everything but could just turn to the book geared for the next stage of life.

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Well, Erin MacPherson has solved that problem!  The Christian Mama’s Guide series includes four books that takes a reader from having a baby, baby’s first year, parenting a toddler, and through the first school years.

In her own About section on her blog, MacPherson admits that she isn’t really qualified to guide anyone about anything and then goes on to explain, “My house is a mess, my baby’s high chair is covered in sweet potato grime and I just stuffed an entire load of clean, dry laundry into a laundry basket without folding it.  The last time I attempted a craft with my kids, it ended in a tempera-paint induced meltdown (from me, not my kids).  I’m not particularly organized or style-savvy or discipline-wise.  But, I am a mom.  And a Christian.  And I love to write about life and parenting and God and every place where those three things intersect.”

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Why, then, would these books be so appealing??

These books were delightful to read because they’re clean (not raunchy or filled with too many details), written by a mom (practical applications are invaluable!), and Christian-based.  MacPherson feels like a mom from your playgroup get-togethers who has the best ideas and makes you wonder why you hadn’t thought of something so easy.  She offers lots of encouraging words for moms who are trying to do their best in this special role that can be so difficult.  She gives suggestions and tips that actually work, and her writing has a great voice that makes this series engaging and hard to put down.

The Christian Mama also has website that includes a blog she updates frequently, freebies and resources to print and use by yourself or with friends, and includes information and details about writing a book for budding authors.

And, she’s giving away The Christian Mama’s Guide series to one lucky Dandy reader!

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 May 11th 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 The Christian Mama’s Guide, but all opinions are strictly my own.

SmartGames {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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The other morning, I was really getting ready for the day after taking my older son to preschool (in yoga pants and a ponytail…), and I realized that it was just a little too quiet for my now two-year-old to be playing by himself without a problem.  I called out his name, but he didn’t answer.  I walked into the living room and still didn’t hear anything.  I looked through the bedrooms and couldn’t find him anywhere.  I started to get a little panicky, but then I heard a little voice say “Mom” from the side of my bed.  Evidently, my just-barely-two-year-old had gotten my Kindle Fire out of my purse and figured out how to turn it on, find the game he wanted, and then actually played it for a few minutes quietly.  I’m not exactly sure I should be proud of this…

I have my teaching certification and taught elementary school before I had my boys and my husband’s degree is in Human Development with a emphasis in Special Education, so we have quite a toy room that has more of what I like to call “activities” than toys.  I’m not a huge fan of anything with characters on it, and I love activities that are open-ended and allow for lots of learning.

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When I came across the SmartGames website, I was in heaven!!  They offer so many games and toys that focus on strategy, using logic, and problem solving for ages 3 and up.  Their SmartGames page has a search option that allows you to choose age range, material, travel game or not, and theme to select a SmartGame that best fits your abilities and interests.  Here are a few examples:

catCat and Mouse Go-Getter : Help furry critters find their way through a maze of possible paths in these brain-teasing, logic-building puzzles. Arrange the nine tiles to build connecting paths between the icons pictured on your selected challenge. But watch the road – be careful not to veer off course or get stuck in a dead end!angry birds

The game my two-year-old was playing on the Kindle Fire?  Angry Birds.  And, frankly, he was more successful at that game than I am.  Here’s an educational twist on this favorite.

Angry Birds Under Construction : This puzzle game, based on an award winning SmartGames design, will make your brain chirp! Using all 4 playing pieces, make sure you end up showing only the right pigs. Sometimes an angry bird will manage to show itself! More challenging than you would think…For one player, ages 7 and up.

smart car

SmartCar : SmartCar is a wooden game that evolves with your child growing skills. Can you assemble a car with the included wooden pieces? The model remains the same but the car construction plans get more and more difficult!

We received a SmartCar to review, and we all loved it!  I started playing it with my four year old during quiet time, and he loved going through each of the challenges until about half way through the booklet.  After my two year old woke up from his nap, he saw the SmartCar and enjoyed putting pieces together and making a car.  And, after both boys went to sleep, my husband and I stayed up and finished the challenges in the booklet together.  🙂

We loved the game itself and the fact that it could still be used as an open-ended toy, but I was incredibly impressed with the workmanship of the Smart Car.  The pieces are made of sturdy wood, and I imagine that it would last us for quite a few years without any problems.

SmartGames is offering a SmartCar to one Dandy reader!

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 May 9th 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 SmartGames, but all opinions are strictly my own.

Mama May I {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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When I was going to school for my degree, I took a Theories of Child Development course where we discussed Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development, Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development,  and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  I loved the course and the different schools of thought, and one of the theorists’ ideas rang true with me from the beginning:  Maria Montessori.  Montessori’s theory of child development stresses independence, working with materials to construct learning, and creating a prepared environment conducive to that learning.

I loved Montessori’s ideas then, but I have especially been drawn to her theories since having my own children.  I love the materials and “works” that she suggests, and I’ve tried to think of those ideas as I purchase activities and toys for my boys to use.  I’ve discovered some amazing blogs over the past couple of years that give suggestions for implementing these Montessori theories at home, and I’ve loved using them for both of our boys.

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When I found the Mama May I shop, I was in heaven!  These handmade learning toys are based on the theories of both Montessori and Waldorf — they are perfect for open-ended play and learning, and the shop has something for all ages.

“Inspired by these little explorers, and her understanding of Montessori and Waldorf methodologies, Jessica Perkins [founder and principal designer] began making all of her creations with the belief that children make sense of their world through sensing their world. After years of making, creating, and gifting her creations to friends and family, Jessica decided to start selling her goodies. Since the launch of Mama May I in 2009, Jessica’s passion for artistic expression through toys has blossomed into a business supported by mama’s and papa’s all over the world.”

Here are a few of my favorites from Mama May I, along with the description for ways the activity can be used for play and learning:

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For babies, the Tiny Tickler!  “A great way to introduce parts-of-the-body vocabulary and directions like top, bottom, left, and right all while building a healthy sense of ego and engaging her desire to play.”

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For toddlers, the Sensory Color Sorting Playset is a great activity to distinguish between different colors and textures.  It includes wooden coins with the name of each color, ribbon, paper, felt, buttons, rocks, and paint swatches to match to the right color on the mat.  It’s also a great activity for objects you have around the house!

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For preschoolers, the Flip Mat!  We received this transportation set from Mama May I, and I LOVE it!  I was so impressed with the quality of the fabric material, and the wooden coins are thick and smooth.  Both of my boys played with this together, and I loved that we could just roll it all up together and stick it in my bag for on-the-go play.  There’s also a farm play mat, a market play mat, and a zoo play mat that caught my eye.

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For big kids, the Story Starters is a great learning activity to combine literacy and fun!  “A beautiful collection of hand stamped images inspire the Who. What. When. and Where. While you and your story maker share in the delight of creating the WHY.”

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 These Make-a-Match wooden coins is one of my absolute favorites, as it is small and portable and can be used by ALL ages.  These are also thick and smooth (like the ones for our play mat), and they can be used for fun open-ended play or to play a matching memory game.

Mama May I is offering two sets of these Make-a-Match wooden coins to TWO Dandy readers!  There are a variety of choices for these sets, to include space (shown above), forest friends, dinosaur, transportation, vegetable, Philadelphia, farm, zoo, space, beach, nature, fruit, and monster!

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 April 2nd 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 Mama May I, but all opinions are strictly my own.

Makedo {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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So, a common result of Christmas morning gift giving in a toddler/preschool/child home is toys strewn all over the room while the kids play with the boxes.  It can be irritating to have shopped for the perfect gift (or, frankly, to have spent any money at all!) to only have them play with something you just tossed on the curb for recycle day — Makedo is a great way to embrace those boxes!

Makedo tools and pieces connect recycled materials together to make large or small creations.  They are designed to encourage open-ended creative play and are reusable for other projects.  Makedo tools build and connect things quickly, neatly, and sturdily and can be used with most materials (cardboard, plastic containers, fabric, etc.).  Creations can be made individually, with a group of friends, or with the whole family!

Here are some of my favorites:

Shop Guided Kit

Space Pod Guided Kit

Playhouse Guided Kit

Freeplay Make Anything Kit

Makedo is giving away a Freeplay Make Anything Kit to TWO of our Dandy readers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
**This giveaway is open to U.S. entries only. **The winner of this giveaway will be posted no later than the morning of Monday, December 17th, and 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 Makedo, but all opinions are strictly my own.

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