Search This Blog

Thursday, April 15, 2010

New Review!!! The Travels of Wiglington and Wenks! (A Virtual World!)

I'm so sad. :(  No one is signing up to get my posts through e-mail.  Won't you please help a girl out?  Become a Feedburner subscriber today!!!  :)

 
 
About the product/service:  As part of the TOS Homeschool Crew I received access for 30 days as an "Elite Quest Traveler" in The Travels of Wiglington and Wenks Virtual World.  This world is based on a series of books by John Bittleston.
 
Basically, this is like a number of other virtual world games I've seen on the internet.  You become a character and you interact with the world, as well as other characters, and you go on "virtual adventures."  This game attempts to add educational value to the adventures by having the players interact with real people from history in real places. (Okay, well, not the REAL people in real places, but virtual real people!  Hmmmm.  Sounds like an oxymoron, but I think you know what I mean!  LOL)

For example, you kids will meet St. Patrick, Beethoven, Chief Joseph, etc.  The idea behind all this is that these characters from the past have entered the present through a time warp.  Your child's mission is to help them regain lost memories.  Here's a little blurb from the website that give a good description of the goals of this game:

It promises an experience in which players will be able to travel to places around the world, through time and space, meet famous historical people, play dozens of fun enriching games, make new friends, buy exotic islands, build culture-inspired houses, wear clothes from different countries, explore secret locations, solve mysteries and become a legendary traveler!

You can also find out more by watching two videos here.

Not ready to head on over to the website yet?  Here's a screen shot to give you an idea what the virtual world looks like. 



What are the pros of this product?  Well, first of all, being frugal, I appreciate that there is a free, albeit stripped down, version of the game. 

Also, the graphics are very good.  It's also nice that there is actually some educational value to the game.  So many of these games have no educational value whatsoever.  

You can keep your child from chatting with other children, by only allowing them to use a modified chat which will only allow them to click on certain phrases like "Hi!" and "Let's have a party!" 



What's not to like? I thought that while there was some educational value to the website, I found that my kids spent most of their time playing non-educational aspects of the game.  My kids played a lot of pool and darts and other games like that.  It would be nice if there would be some sort of limit on the "fun" games. 

If you allow uncensored chat, you will get just that, uncensored chat.  Be aware that this is just like sending your kids out on the playground.  You never know who you are going to meet or what they are going to introduce your kids to.  One reason we homeschool is to have a certain amount of control over things like this, so why would be keep them out of school and then send them online with who knows who?  With games that allow uncensored chat, there is no way to tell if you are talking to another child or an adult.  In this world, you honestly can't be too careful.  Thankfully, you don't HAVE to allow the chat, but I want you to know about it. 

And I have to mention it; there is a Charles Darwin character.  My kids know all about Darwin and can spot evolution a mile away.  It doesn't bother me, but he is there.  Just a heads up so you can deal with it in whatever way you deam appropriate.  

Also, there is a environmentalist bent here too.  I am all for clean air and water, but I tend to cringe when people go so far as to say human beings are like a cancer to the earth or whatever.  I didn't see anything like that here, but I realize that people draw the line in different places, plus I have not gone through the entire world.  Again, just a heads up. 

The Crazy Mom take:  Well, you know I am not the most disciplined and organized person on the planet.  I have to admit, my kids aren't either.  Because of this, most of them have zero discipline when it comes to the computer.  They sneak on it when they are supposed to be doing something else, or they haven't finished their school or chores.  Once they are on, it's like pulling teeth to get them off.  For this reason, we have decided to stay away from games like this.  I am not saying all kids will get sucked in, but I am saying mine do.  Yes, they like this game, and yes, they would play all day if I let them.  (They love when I review these things because I "assign" them to play.  Talk about catching a break!  LOL)

So, for us, I can say for sure that we won't be buying any subscriptions.  As for the free version, I might allow them to play it on a rare occasion.  I do admit, I like it better than many of the others as there is at least some educational value.
 
Now, one thing that does peak my interest is the fact that this virtual world is based on a series of books about the Wiglington and Wenks characters.  I had never heard of them.  I will check them out and see if the characters in the books also travel around to famous places meeting famous people.  If this is the case, I will be glad to get these books out of the library for my kids to read.  I don't mind them getting all wrapped up in books.  Well, okay, I don't like to find them up reading at 2:00 A.M.  Ah, yes, we do need a lot more discipline in our lives.  I suppose it should start with me! 

Happy virtual traveling!

 
 What's the bottom line? Free!  But to access special features you can buy a membership for $5.99 per month.  You can also get better deals by buying multiple months in a single transaction.  See website for details. 

I am going to give The Travels of Wiglington and Wenks 3 out of 5 smileys!!!

Check it out! http://www.wiglingtonandwenks.com/



See what my fellow TOS Crew members have to say @
http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/HomeschoolCrew/774617/





*The Smiley System: 

I can't really recommend this product.
 I doubt this product would be helpful to many people.
 This is a good product, but isn't right for everyone.
 Most homeschool moms will find this useful.
 This is great, and I would recommend it to anyone!!!

Disclaimer!!!  I reviewed this product because I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew.  I was given the product by the vendor to use and evaluate in my home so that I might share my insights with others.  Other than receiving the product, which I kinda have to to be able to assess the product, I am not compensated for my reviews in any way.  I am in no way obligated to give a positive review.  I do try to point out negatives when I see them, though I am admittedly a pretty easy going gal!  What you read are my honest assessments of the products I receive. 

As with all products, you must do the research before buying.  Please visit the the other crew members' blogs, the vendor websites, and any other review sites you might find before buying.  I can't guarantee that a product will work for you.  You must decide what will fit with your teaching style, and your child(ren)'s learning style(s).  I do not judge anything other than the educational value of the products I review.  I am not qualified to make judgements as to the safely of any product, and I make no guarantee that the products I review are safe for you, your family, or anyone else.  I am simply giving my opinion; only you know what is best for you and your family.

Don't use your blow dryer while you sleep or take a bath.  Don't read my reviews in the tub either, and please do not read them when you are asleep, though I do not guarantee that you won't fall asleep reading them!
Copyright 2010 Ramblings from the Crazy House

New Review!!! Terrestria Chronicals!


 

About the product/service:  As part of the TOS Homeschool Crew I received complimentary copies of books 4 and 5 from the Terrestria Chronicles series by Ed Dunlop.  (Meet Ed and his family here.)  These books take place in a medieval type setting and are written as an allegory to the Christian life.

Book #4 is called The Crown of Kuros.  Rather than try to rewrite the summary out of my (currently very foggy) head, I'll just "cheat" a bit and copy the summary from the website!  :)

The Castle of Faith is in an uproar when the priceless Crown of Kuros is stolen in broad daylight from the castle keep. All evidence points to Morphina who is in league with Argamor. Prince Josiah, Prince Selwyn, and the other knights of the castle engage in a quest to find the crown before it falls into the hands of Argamor. But Josiah alone can recover the crown, and to do so he must engage in an impossible battle.

Book #5 is called The Dragon's Egg.  Here I shall, one again, cheat and use the summary from the website.

When Princess Gilda and Prince Selwyn refuse the offer of a gift forbidden by King Emmanuel, Prince Josiah accepts, not realizing that his actions will impact the Castle of Faith. For a time, the young prince is able to conceal his act of treachery, and it seems that all is well. But when a Cararian Greatwing—the fiercest of dragons—begins terrorizing the kingdom, Josiah learns too late that he is powerless to control the beast that he has unleashed upon Terrestria.

What are the pros of this product?  Okay, if you're looking for a series that is distinctly Christian, with no magic or wizardry, this might be just what you are looking for. 

The books are great for boys who love medieval literature.  There are plenty of knights, ladies, and even some dragons!  :)  (Which is not to say that girls won't like them, too!)

Finally, these books actually make you ponder your own walk with Christ.  Have YOU fully surrendered your heart to the Lord?



What's not to like? There is definitely a very conservative bent to these books.  Might I say, maybe a tad too conservative for some folks?  One example that I can think of right off the top of my head is a scene where the enemies of King Emmanuel are plotting to steal the hearts of his subjects.  The plan is to introduce something that was obviously TV and rock music.  It was presented as though these things were created by King Emmanuel's enemies with purely evil intent, which implies (to me anyway) that TV and rock music were invented by the devil and his demons. 

Now, I am not saying that the devil and his demons have not have had huge success with these media.  However, I do not think these things are inherently evil.  I think they, like anything else, can be used for good or evil, but are in and of themselves neutral.  I love music, and yes, I can really rock!  LOL  I don't feel the phrase Christian Rock is an oxymoron.  I've also seen some really awesome television.  (I even had my own show once!)  I realize that not everyone agrees, so for some, these books might not present any issues whatsoever.  Just be advised,however, that things like this do occasionally pop up in the series so your kids might have a question or two.

 The Crazy Mom take:  Normally, I don't read the books we get to review as I have my kids read them.  For whatever reason, though, my kids didn't want to indulge me this time around, so I did the reading.  First, I have to say the idea is great.  What a neat way to present the Gospel.  Now, the way it is written isn't exactly my style, so I can't say they were the best books I've ever ready, but I'm just not into all that medieval stuff.  I KNOW my boys would like them as they love all of that sort of thing.  My girls?  I'm not sure.  Right now they are into Laura Ingalls and Beezus and Ramona.  :) 

One thing I have to say I didn't like was getting books 4 and 5.  I would have loved to start from the beginning.  I think this is necessary to really get the big picture.  I mean, you can read them as individual books, but I wouldn't recommend it.  Now, knowing the Gospel, I pretty much already know the storyline.  ;)  Still, I went to the website and read the summaries of the earlier books and it did help to understand a few things, so, if you do get these, start with book 1!

Like I said earlier, I'm not sure I'm in full agreement with absolutely everything in the book.  However, it's supposed to be an allegory so I suppose not everything has to line up exactly.  Still, I do agree wholeheartedly with the basic premise of the series, and that is that our lives are meant to be a quest to honor the Lord and fully surrender our lives to Him.  For that reason, I can still recommend the series.  Just to be sure, though, Mom or Dad might want to read through it first, as I would suggest for pretty much all books.  Also, I think the study guide is a great idea. 

Happy Reading!!! 

 
 What's the bottom line? $7.99 each or purchase the series as a set in softcover for $47.99 or in hardcover for $73.99 (hardcover books not sold separately)/Spiral bound study guide $5.99

I am going to give The Terrestria Chronicles series 3 out of 5 smileys!!!

Check it out!  http://www.talesofcastles.com/terrestria-chronicles.htm



See what my fellow TOS Crew members have to say @
http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/HomeschoolCrew/771044/





*The Smiley System: 

I can't really recommend this product.
 I doubt this product would be helpful to many people.
 This is a good product, but isn't right for everyone.
 Most homeschool moms will find this useful.
 This is great, and I would recommend it to anyone!!!

Disclaimer!!!  I reviewed this product because I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew.  I was given the product by the vendor to use and evaluate in my home so that I might share my insights with others.  Other than receiving the product, which I kinda have to to be able to assess the product, I am not compensated for my reviews in any way.  I am in no way obligated to give a positive review.  I do try to point out negatives when I see them, though I am admittedly a pretty easy going gal!  What you read are my honest assessments of the products I receive. 

As with all products, you must do the research before buying.  Please visit the the other crew members' blogs, the vendor websites, and any other review sites you might find before buying.  I can't guarantee that a product will work for you.  You must decide what will fit with your teaching style, and your child(ren)'s learning style(s).  I do not judge anything other than the educational value of the products I review.  I am not qualified to make judgements as to the safely of any product, and I make no guarantee that the products I review are safe for you, your family, or anyone else.  I am simply giving my opinion; only you know what is best for you and your family.

Don't use your blow dryer while you sleep or take a bath.  Don't read my reviews in the tub either, and please do not read them when you are asleep, though I do not guarantee that you won't fall asleep reading them!
Copyright 2010 Ramblings from the Crazy House

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey Earth & Space (level 1)

 


About the product:  As part of the TOS Homeschool Crew I received a free copy of R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey Earth & Space (level 1) from Pandia Press.  This book  contains a year's worth of of science for your first through fourth grader.  Throughout the book are tons of pages that you can copy for your student to fill out.  According to the introduction, if the book is used just once or twice a week, you will cover everything you need for the whole year without any supplementation.  It is written so that the non-scientific parent can teach successfully with no additional scientific background or research.  To quote the author, it is a "minds on," and "hands on" approach to science. 

Here's a list of topics you'll cover:

The Earth

Weather and Seasons - monitoring weather, understanding seasons

The Water Cycle

The Earth's Interior - crust, mantle, outer core and inner core


The Earth's Surface - water and land


Minerals - what they are and how to identify them


Rocks and the Rock Cycle - igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks


Erosion - wind, water, ice, and biological erosion


Soil


The Solar System


The Earth/Moon System


The Solar System - the sun, planets, and asteroid belts


The Planets - Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.


Pluto is studied as a dwarf planet


Space


Stars, Comets, Meteoroids and Asteroids


What´s Not in Space?

Warning!  It is clearly stated in the introduction that "if you hate to touch dirt, wouldn't think about letting your child to stay out late to look at stars, or have no intention of getting gooey and dirty, RUN NOW!!!"  LOL 
 
What are the pros of this product?  This is well organized, and, as I stated above, complete.  Lots of labs and hands on activities to keep your child engaged!



What's not to like? My only issue is that I didn't have everything available to me to do many of the projects.  That is simply due to a lack of time and poor planning on my part, but it's one of the reasons I tend to avoid hands on stuff.  For example, the first lesson required a weather thermometer.  However, a more organized person (yeah, I'm NOT one of those) would check out the handy list at the front of the book which lists all the supplies needed for every lab.  Also, the supplies are also listed at the beginning of each lab page. 

My problem was that I (and my daughter Bear) wanted to jump in as soon as we got the book, but you do need to do a little pre-planning.  This is one of the downfalls of just having something show up on your doorstep!  (But, oh, how I love it!)  Another bit of pre-planning would include copying the pages for additional children.  I suppose if you only have one child you could have him or her work right in the book.  BTW, the copyright does allow you to copy the pages for use within your own family.  Other than that, you should be good to go!  Oh, and there is an electronic version available which makes it much easier to copy.  No scanning!  (Did I mention I hate scanning?  I hate scanning.)

 The Crazy Mom take:  Well, I kinda went over the first lesson, even without the thermometer.  Then we made the rain gauge.  That was fun, and I felt like a good mom making something "sciencey" with the kids.  Of course, they loved it.  Then, even though I was too lazy to copy the pages, (OK, someone is ALWAYS on the computer, so I didn't want to have to kick anyone off) we drew pictures on copy paper for our "weather journal."  I also had all the kids go out and really observe the weather. 

Now, since my kids already all take a science class at co-op, I didn't want to really add this in as a permanent part of our school day.  So, for the sake of the review, other that what we did above, I just looked through the book myself.  Now, I am one of those who would probably tend to heed that RUN! warning, as I am simply not hands on.  I learn by sitting in a chair and simply reading.  I've always been that way, and that has been pretty much my teaching style.  I select books, and the kids read.  They do a TON of hands on stuff in co-op, so I don't feel too guilty.  LOL

However, my kids really did love this stuff, and I'm honestly considering adding it to the schedule for next year.  I'll just make sure I put together a shopping list and get what I need before I open the book to do a lesson!  :)  (You can get a list of necessary materials if you click here and scroll down.)  I doubt I'll finish in a year, but it will be fun to have some hands on learning around here.  Well, other than learning to cook, clean, and do laundry.  That they do!!!  ;)

Happy science!

 
What's the bottom line? $38.99 for the e-version ($21.99 for student pages only) which can be downloaded directly from Pandia Press and $44 for the print version which is not available directly from Pandia Press, although they provide links where you can buy them. 

I am going to give R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey Earth & Space (level 1) 3 out of 5 smileys!!!

Check it out!  
http://www.pandiapress.com/earth_space_level1.htm



See what my fellow TOS Crew members have to say @ 
http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/HomeschoolCrew/773217/






*The Smiley System: 


I can't really recommend this product.
 I doubt this product would be helpful to many people.
 This is a good product, but isn't right for everyone.
 Most homeschool moms will find this useful.
 This is great, and I would recommend it to anyone!!!

Disclaimer!!!  I reviewed this product because I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew.  I was given the product by the vendor to use and evaluate in my home so that I might share my insights with others.  Other than receiving the product, which I kinda have to to be able to assess the product, I am not compensated for my reviews in any way.  I am in no way obligated to give a positive review.  I do try to point out negatives when I see them, though I am admittedly a pretty easy going gal!  What you read are my honest assessments of the products I receive. 

As with all products, you must do the research before buying.  Please visit the the other crew members' blogs, the vendor websites, and any other review sites you might find before buying.  I can't guarantee that a product will work for you.  You must decide what will fit with your teaching style, and your child(ren)'s learning style(s).  I do not judge anything other than the educational value of the products I review.  I am not qualified to make judgements as to the safely of any product, and I make no guarantee that the products I review are safe for you, your family, or anyone else.  I am simply giving my opinion; only you know what is best for you and your family.

Don't use your blow dryer while you sleep or take a bath.  Don't read my reviews in the tub either, and please do not read them when you are asleep, though I do not guarantee that you won't fall asleep reading them!
Copyright 2010 Ramblings from the Crazy House
Related Posts with Thumbnails