Friday, December 17, 2010

Tiny Planets: TOS Crew Review

The Product:
Tiny Planets is a webased fun place for young children. The Tiny Planets online content has won two BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) awards – Interactive Best Entertainment Website and Best Children’s Interactive.

"Tiny Planets provides award-winning educational entertainment set in space exploration and discovery, inspiring creativity and critical thinking in youth ages 4 to 12.

Tiny Planets features the cosmic adventures of Bing and Bong, two whimsical aliens who travel the Universe of Tiny Planets together on their gadget-loaded plush sofa. With Bing and Bong, children are encouraged to think for themselves, assume social responsibility, take care of our planet and learn about the mysteries of space."

The Tiny Planets website consists of  eight different areas filled with things to explore. In the Tiny Planets Home section you will be centrally located and have access to all areas.

On Tiny Planets TV you can watch any of the Tiny Planets television episodes. This series was co-created with Sesame Workshop and emphasizes science education and early learning goals, such as social and emotional development, language and literacy and more!

My Tiny Planets is a new online community and virtual world that combines social elements and gaming to create an engaging fictional outer-space exploration experience. Children adopt and care for their own planet, solve galactic missions with Bing and Bong and do much, much more.

On Tiny Planets Fun your child can take a few moments to enjoy brainy puzzle games (like fractions, sound
and seek, and symmetry), as well as coloring books and comics.

On Tiny Planets Books you’ll find interactive story books for younger children featuring Bing and Bong, their endearing friends the locals and the flockers, and all the planets in the Universe of Tiny Planets. Read these books with your child, or teach your child to read on her own!

Tiny Planets Learning is the site for parents, homeschoolers, and educators. Here you’ll find lesson plans that include educational activities and science experiments to do at home. Also, you’ll see how every episode in the Tiny Planets television series maps to early learning educational goals. 

There are also Tiny Planets Labs and Tiny Planets Blog to check out as well.
As you can see there is much to been done on the Tiny Planets website!

The McMama Experience:
When reading through the email we recieved at the beginning of this review I was relieved to find that there were a lot of steps taken to insure that our children's time on Tiny Planets would be a safe one.

 For example, this is an ad-free site so when our children search for books to read on Tiny Planets Books or when they are searching for another episode on Tiny Planets TV I didn't have to worry about what crazy ad was going to pop up next. Although our children were able to chat with other players they were not let loose in an open chat forum. Instead they were allowed to communicate using emotioncons and speech bubbles preset with safe phrases so that all communication could be controlled. This might be a bother to older children but for little ones I was totally appreciating the safety!

I think that this site would appeal to kids ranging in ages from 5 to 10 or 11 however the non-readers would need to have everything read to them because there is SO MUCH reading required as there is no speech from any characters. This I think might be one area that they could work on to make it more user friendly to the younger set.

During some of the game time I quickly noticed that it takes a lot of coordination to be able to play the games. Having to work those arrow keys on the keyboard so that your object (in my case a spaceship) went in the right direction was difficult.  Something that I don't think the younger set would be able to do without any frustration. I was having a hard time and I'm an adult, not a "gamer" by any means but pretty "keyboard savvy" if you will. Maybe this is something else that the people behind this website can consider.

Most of what Tiny Planets offers is suppose to be free however (I only found 1 episode and 2 books that actually were) there are certain things that require keys. Keys are sold for the following:

10 keys $1.95
25 keys $3.95
85 keys $9.95
250 keys $25.95
600 keys $49.95

With one book costing 10 keys I can see how this could get pricey quickly so maybe the 600 for $49.95 would be the best deal? BUT know that once you purchase something with your keys it is yours forever!! You do not have to keep purchasing that particular movie that your 5 year old wants to see over and over again! That is great isn't it?!

Okay, so I am kind of mixed about this website. There are features that I love and appreciate (safety) and others that didn't sit so well with me (creating Cadet names was confusing). All in all I think that this is a pretty good website but with the few things that I mentioned above and maybe a more simplistic layout it could be even better.

The Breakdown:
  1. Safe, safe, safe!!
  2. A bit confusing to navigate at first, but email them! They are helpful.
  3. Younger children (i.e. non-readers and the non-coordinated) will need help with a good bit of this website.
  4. Encourages space exploration and who doesn't love that?!
  5. A wide variety of things to see and do on this website!
Click on the banner below to see what my fellow Crew Mates have to say about this!!


**Any products reviewed by me as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how we used the product within our family. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.**

Lovin' Learnin'

Friday, December 10, 2010

Apologia, Good Morning God: TOS Crew Review

The Product:
Today I bring to you my review on an item from this wonderful company. We have had the  opportunity to review a new book, written by Doug Carmen, President of Apologia Ministries. His new book is entitled Good Morning God. and it retails for $14.00. See a sample chapter here.

This little book isn't just any ordinary book. It is a full week's curriculum wrapped beautifully between the two beautiful covers of a book.

When this book arrived at our house and the box was opened my children demanded that I read it right away. I, being as excited as they, agreed. We read through the book, devouring the beautiful artwork and soaking up it's wonderful message.

After I was done they all "lined up" to take turns spending time with the book. I knew right away that we had a winner in our hands!

The McMama Experience
Can I say that I LOVE this book?! It is not only beautiful but inspires the readers to love God and think about Him in a way that is so easy for kids to understand.

Each four page spread starts with "Good Morning God it's Monday" for example and then goes on to explain a little bit about the young boy's day. (This is so great too cause on one day the little boy colors a picture in their "school room". Yeah, homeschooled! My kids loved that part!) After we read about the day I flipped over to the back of the book to find the Questions and Activities part for that day. There are thought provoking questions to ask, Scripture to read and on some days even a short activity. This beautiful little book can easily make for a very full week's worth of family devotion time or it can be spread out over a two month period so that each day's section can be studied for an entire week.

But whatever schedule you decide to use, this book makes it easy to spend at least 7 full days (Sunday to Sunday) talking with your children about the Lord.

I highly recommned it.

The Breakdown:
This book is geared for the younger set, maybe ages 1 to 8, however I think it's better suited for children a few years older. Those little ones would be lost on the beautiful message but would enjoy the pictures. It can also be read by an older sibling to younger brothers and sisters.

Good Morning, God retails for $14.00.

There is also a coloring book available to purchase for $4.00.

Click on the banner below to read through the many reviews of my fellow Crew Members.


**Any products reviewed by me as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how we used the product within our family. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.**

Lovin' Learnin'

Monday, December 6, 2010

Seafood Tomato Alfredo

We have been extremely successful at adding more fish to our diet these last few months and I found this recipe to dabble in cooking fish in a different way than the usual baking/frying/steaming that we've been doing.

I got it from and I encourage you to check out that site! I LOVE it!!!

Here's the recipe:

But first, I changed this from 4 servings to leftovers around here...this is the 8 servings list:

Seafood Tomato Alfredo
2 T butter
2 med. onions
2 (10.75 oz.) can Campbell's Condensed Cream of Mushroom w/Roasted Garlic Soup
1 c milk
2 c diced canned tomatoes
2 lbs fresh fish fillet (flounder, haddock or halibut)*we used Tilapia, cut into 2-inch pieces
8 c hot cooked linguine

Heat butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it's tender.

Stir in the soup, milk and tomatoes. Heat to a boil. Add the fish to the skillet and reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.

Serve over linguine.

There you have it! It's delish!!! And we love it even more the next day!! Add a salad and some rolls and you're good to go!!!

Lovin' Learnin'