Zirrly Super Beads – Jungle Animals (A Review)

   Zirrly 

Super Beads

 Jungle Animals

No doubt by now you have seen the latest craze with kids.  Fuse beads.   What are they? How do they work? And for the life of me, why are they so popular? Well, I cannot answer all of those questions, but I can, as always, share my opinion with you! Now, the fuse beads are a craft where the beads are “melted” together.  Generally, the kids use heat to melt the beads together. I believe typically an iron is required.  Now, for me personally, I have never understood why anyone found these to be enjoyable or creative.  Perhaps, I am extremely biased as I am an artist.  I wish to create unique individual items and not use cookie cutters.  I also do not understand the aspect of an item that looks, to me at least, to be pixelated.  However, I am an adult, an old fuddey-duddey, if you will. I cannot think like a child, but I do listen to mine. And my daughter was fascinated with the idea of these kits! Please keep this in mind and know my review may be a bit biased as I am already predisposed to find this concept a bit uncreative.

As you can see in the image above, Kira was proud and excited when Zirrly’s  Super Beads Jungle Animals  kit arrived.  Kira could not wait to open the box and begin! As we are amidst her final exams, however, she had to wait!

As an artist, I have always enjoyed crafting with Kira.  Some of my fondest memories are the times that we have sat at our dining room table creating together.  Whether it be intricate paintings for the holidays or simple coloring of coloring books, nothing can compare to our special bonding time. I knew this set would provide such an opportunity.  As Kira is a teenager now, we have less time to enjoy such moments.  Within as much, I actually was looking forward to the adventure, despite my opinion on the beads themselves.

opemimg box

We first laid out the contents of the box, then  Kira began reading the instructions.  I have found this to be a wonderful teaching lesson.  I wanted to see just how well Kira could follow instructions. The box contained an assortment of colored beads, a plastic tool, a small squirt bottle, a supply of boards, several cardboard designs, and a plastic organizer for the beads.  At first glance, it looks and sounds simple enough in theory.

Kira chose the Owl to design.  As I wanted to create with Kira, I chose the Zebra.  First you are to place your design on the back of the board.  It is pretty simple as everything lines up, and it is a bit obvious as the cardboard will only fit one way between the tabs.

 

This is where it all went down hill.  Because of the way the boards were taped together within the package, they were warped.  They refused to sit flat or level on the table, even without the cardboard designs inserted.

 

As my loud mouth stated, I hoped it would not be a problem.  Unfortunately, it was quite a problem indeed. Next you are to place the beads according to the color on the cardboard image under the board. Simple enough, right? The instructions state to have the lined portion of the bead face up.  Okay, I am old.  I have visionary issues.  I also have neuropathy.  Holding these teeny tiny beads and trying to decipher which way was up because a grueling task.  My reader glasses were no help.  I had to break out my OttLite magnifier that I use when I am painting fine details on statues or mini canvases! With the OttLite, my reader glasses and every light on, as well as all the blinds open, we suddenly could see the “line”.  My daughter could not see them at first either!

Look closely, see the lines? It became extremely frustrating trying to grasp these tiny beads and figure out which side was up and place it in the proper spot.  Add to this frustration the beads would pop off and go flying because the board was not level. .

 

By the third bead flying away, I was done.  I could not take the pain these beads were causing my eyes and hands one moment more.  I instead sat and watched Kira as she worked on hers.

Kira kept sighing.  It seemed she was not enjoying the beads either.  Kira was frustrated with trying to see the lines on the beads and trying to hold them.  It would have been wonderful had the kit come with a set of plastic tweezers, perhaps. We lost several beads that popped off.  All I could do was pray that none of our pets find and eat them. Kira, too, had problems with the beads popping off of her board. With all this, she still kept trying.  At one point she came over to me, showed me her hands, and said, “I guess this is why they iterate about washing your hands in the instructions.”

color rubs offThe orange, the yellow, and the brown beads all left their color everywhere that they touched. In hind sight, perhaps placing the beads together when we packed the kit up, after we were done with it, in a single ziplock bag, may  have been a mistake.  I fear those colors may bleed on to the other leftover colors.

Kira diligently completed her owl. I must admit, it looked really cute once the beads were all in place on the board.

owl in placeI asked Kira if she would finish my zebra for me; she kindly accepted and did the zebra too.  It was next time for the fusing! Now, unlike the other melding beads, Zirrly does not require an iron. Instead, you merely spritz it with water, using the spray bottle included within the Super Beads Jungle Animals  kit!

Kira followed the instructions to the letter and sprayed each project.

Next was the waiting.  Kira was NOT happy about this.  I was a bit surprised, as normally Kira is the most patient child I have ever met.  I can only imagine how the wait time might bother an even younger, less patient youngster.  Nonetheless, Kira agreed to wait the instructed amount of time, which was at least an hour.

This ran into dinner time. So we actually were forced to wait even longer than that! Sadly, the additional time did not serve as means to reinforce the beads whatsoever.  It was too late once dinner was over, so we continued the next day. It started off pretty well as Kira began using the tool to lift her owl.  Sadly, however, that did not last.  Beads started to separate and fly away. Per instructions, Kira replaced the beads in the appropriate positions, sprayed again and waited the instructed time….yet again.

 

 

beads fall off

The second time was the charm! Once enough time had passed, Kira was able to successfully (minus two beads that popped off) pry each animal up.

 

I would not recommend this to anyone who has a child that is extremely impatient.  Unless, of course, you are trying to find a way to teach them patience.  Then, this is a PERFECT idea for you.  I also do not recommend this to anyone with visionary issues or problems with holding tiny objects for prolonged periods of time.

For anyone who has used melding beads before and did not like the fact an iron was needed, perhaps this may be a viable alternative.  I have never tried the other types though, so I cannot adequately compare.

 

All that being said, I must admit, this was a wonderful way to teach adhering to directions.  Even though Kira did follow the instructions perfectly, problems arose.  It served as a valuable lesson.  We enjoyed our time together despite the many mishaps and downfalls.  The end result was quite cute, I must admit.  I can imagine children coming up with their own creative designs, and that I believe would be a wonderful way to foster their imaginations.  Perhaps a cute heart for Mother’s day or a Bunny for Easter!  I have to admit, the Zirrly  3D kit looks interesting too! For now, we still have the kit.    It seems like a great rainy day project.

Kira has been trying to make her own special Zirrly animal now.  It seems she absolutely loves the kit.  We are going to be looking for more for her to try.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Imagine…The Great Flood by Matt Koceich From Barbour Publishing (A Review)

 Imagine…The Great Flood by Matt Koceich

 

From

Barbour Publishing

 

As an avid reader, it was no surprise to hear Kira squeal when her copy of Imagine…The Great Flood by Matt Koceich  from Barbour Publishing arrived!

The beautiful cover art immediately leads the reader to feel strong emotions, as if they know there will be an epic journey that they are about to embark on.

Imagine…The Great Flood by Matt Koceich  from Barbour Publishing is a delightful tale of a young boy who experiences the journey of Noah’s ark, from the Bible.

I do not want to give too much away from this delightfully imaginative tale.  However, I did ask Kira for her opinion and what she thought about Imagine…The Great Flood by Matt Koceich  from Barbour Publishing .

Kira said,

“Noah’s ark has always been one of my favorite stories from the Bible. I found myself envisioning it were me in Corey’s shoes.  It was almost as though I could hear, feel, smell, and even taste the ark and the animals around me! I absolutely love the alternative perspective depicted within the book. Not only the flood, but the resistance surrounding Noah and his sons. The Bible’s perspective did not provide the insight I found within Imagine…The Great Flood by Matt Koceich  from Barbour Publishing .  The story provided deeper insight into the characters and their feelings.  Although the book seemed short, (I like to read long chapter books) I look forward to reading the entire series. I highly recommend Imagine…The Great Flood by Matt Koceich  from Barbour Publishing to everyone!”

 

 

 

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Carole P. Roman (A Review)

 

 Carole P. Roman

 

What a delight to have received these wonderful titles to review for Carole P. Roman.  As those of you who read my blog regularly know, my daughter, Kira, LOVES to read. When the package came containing If You Were Me And Lived In… SOUTH KOREA, If You Were Me and Lived in… Ancient Greece: An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time , and If You Were Me and Lived in…Viking Europe: An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time, Kira was absolutely giddy!

If You Were Me And Lived In… SOUTH KOREA 

This title is absolutely wonderful for your younger home schooled child! THis delightful book provides a  precious look into what life would be like if you (the reader) lived in South Korea.  As an illustrator who had completed 12 published titles to date, I absolutely adore the precious simplified art within this book! Brightly colored and detailed beautifully to maintain the focus of younger children, the text is bright and bold and easy to read.  Pronunciations are also provided, which is wonderful!

 

If You Were Me and Lived in… Ancient Greece: An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time

If You Were Me and Lived in…Viking Europe: An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time

Both If You Were Me and Lived in… Ancient Greece: An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time  and If You Were Me and Lived in…Viking Europe: An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time are geared toward slightly older children.

These titles explore a little more in depth, with less focus on illustrations and more focus on text and knowledge into the regions. We received these just in time to coincide with Kira’s studies of the Vikings!

I asked Kira for her opinion on the books we reviewed by  Carole P. Roman.

Kira said,

“I really liked the two books in the If You Were Me and Lived In…Historical because these books delve further into the cultural aspects of the regions, where as my history text books provide little context. I love how this series allows me to feel as though I am immersed within the culture. I especially enjoyed If You Were Me and Lived in… Ancient Greece: An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time , as Ancient Greece has been one of my favorite History topics to study. I thought I knew just about everything there was to know about Ancient Greece, but this book has certainly put it in a whole new light for me! I have found these books simply awesome! I highly recommend all of the titles from Carole P. Roman, and I look forward to getting more from her soon!”

As a home school parent, I find it refreshing to learn of these delightful books available from Carole P. Roman. 

 

 

*Please note, I have linked all titles to their paperback sales page as I received a paperback book to review, however, each is available on Kindle/Hardback.

 

 

 

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No-Nonsense Algebra From Math Essentials (A Review)

No-Nonsense Algebra

From

Math Essentials

 

Today, I am reviewing No-Nonsense Algebra from Math Essentials.

Kira has always been a bit behind when it came to math.  Much like me, Kira tends to excel in English/Creative Writing, and math seems to always be a little bit harder.  This year, starting 8th grade, has changed that.  We were excited to receive No-Nonsense Algebra from Math Essentials. It was wonderful to know it included video lessons taught by Richard W. Fisher.

With the curriculum I have set in place for Kira’s 8th grade lesson plan, we had Pre-Algebra set as the level Kira was ready to move forward with.  She also has been using online aides, and is well past pre-Algebra, and is amidst Algebra I. I knew that  No-Nonsense Algebra from Math Essentials would be the perfect supplement to help affirm her lesson plans, and only strengthen Kira’s math skills.

The minute No-Nonsense Algebra from Math Essentials arrived, Kira began to read it.  Mind you, this was after her school day had finished,  (Her father brings the mail in each day when he comes home) when she is normally reading for fun or, most likely, drawing. At first glance, Kira was EXTREMELY nervous. Kira expressed that these were all similar to the previous math problems that she was struggling with.  Nonetheless, Kira was excited for the opportunity to unlock the mystery that was Algebra!

We scheduled No-Nonsense Algebra from Math Essentials into our daily lesson plan, as a supplement to the Pre-Algebra, as well as Kira’s online math lessons.

Each day, without fail, Kira went for the No-Nonsense Algebra from Math Essentials first. This is always a good sign.  Kira set a personal goal of two lessons per day.  Mind you, I have a very lax homeschool style.  I do not force more than what is required legally, but Kira, however, sets personal goals. Providing they are never unrealistic, we allow her to do so.  It was wonderful to also know that it included video lessons taught by Richard W. Fisher.  However, Kira never needed to use them!

As of right now, Kira is up to lesson four of chapter four within  No-Nonsense Algebra from Math Essentials.  Kira has expressed how excited she was to finally take end of chapter reviews and actually get all of the answers correct.  Compared to previously, this was quite an accomplishment and had helped build Kira’s own confidence in math!

The simple fact that  No-Nonsense Algebra from Math Essentials  along with the video lessons taught by Richard W. Fisher, iterating that the student should work through each example on their own, is what made the difference for Kira.  Never before had any of our lesson plans suggested this.  I personally had never even thought of it myself.

Now, Kira says that math is fun, and getting easier for her! Her improved test scores throughout her regularly scheduled lesson plans serve as proof that No-Nonsense Algebra from Math Essentials was the perfect supplement!

 

Kira and I both highly recommend No-Nonsense Algebra from Math Essentials to any child struggling with math!

 

 

 

 

 

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Hey, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek! – Level 2 From Greek ‘n’ Stuff (A Review)

Reviewing

Hey, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek! – Level 2 

From

Greek ‘n’ Stuff

 

 

 

Today, I will be reviewing, Hey, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek! – Level 2 from Greek ‘n’ Stuff.

We were extremely excited to be a part of reviewing this product! The most Greek we knew was the word χιόνι (Snow) which is the name of one of our cats! Okay, so why did I name our white cat Snow, seems like a silly question, but why Greek? Well, that question is easy, I have been in love with everything Greek since I was a small child.  I have passed this love down to my daughter as well! We are so blessed to live a stones-throw away (55 minute drive) from a lovely Greek community. One of our favorite pastimes is driving down there to enjoy a Greek dinner.

Kira was elated when her package arrived from  Greek ‘n’ StuffThe package contained the worktext book, the CD, the answer key and the flashcards, (which are in the worktext book) normally, the lesson is two letters per day at first, but as Kira is older, we did four letters per day.  There is a quiz available on the  Greek ‘n’ Stuff website to help you determine which level is best to start out with.  As Kira knew virtually nothing, we opted for  Hey, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek! – Level 2.

The pace is easy to follow with one page a day.  30 lessons are included.  There are wonderful flashcards which Kira had an absolute blast memorizing.  This time, Kira decided to include her father in on the fun.  It became an evening routine.  Every night when he came home, before dinner Kira would hand him her flash cards and let him test her.  I think he, too, was learning some Greek! Kira says the repetition of the cards helped her immensely.

Each lesson is clear and concise.  Kira enjoyed herself immensely, learning a little more Greek each day!

There, thankfully, is a pronunciation CD.  Although the book does provide a phonic spelling, I still recommend the CD.

Now, Kira loves learning, especially a new language.  She has been studying Spanish for a few years now.  Within as much, I knew she would not have an issue trying to learn another language.  When I asked Kira about Hey, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek! – Level 2 from Greek ‘n’ Stuff, she boasted how much easier this lesson was compared to her other language lessons.  She touted that an actual text book as opposed to a strictly auditory lesson makes a world of difference.

Although Kira is certainly not ready for us to take that 55 minute drive and order her dinner completely in Greek just yet, she certainly is learning more Greek than I had ever imagined.  The fact that her father has helped is also an extra big bonus for me!

I look forward to getting Hey, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek! – Level 3 Set next.

Both Kira and I highly recommend Hey, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek! – Level 2 from Greek ‘n’ Stuff. This wonderful program will have your child speaking Greek in no time!

 

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Rigid Wrap and CelluClay Quik-Sculpting Kit From ACTÍVA Products (A Review)

Reviewing

Rigid Wrap and CelluClay Quik-Sculpting Kit

From

ACTÍVA Products

 

 

 

Today, I will be reviewing, Rigid Wrap and CelluClay Quik-Sculpting Kit from ACTÍVA Products. 

In the boxWhat is inside? The  Rigid Wrap and CelluClay Quik-Sculpting Kit comes with two packages of the Rigid Wrap, an 8oz bag of CelluClay, and two photocopied sheets containing the Ridid Wrap general instructions and instructions for 12 projects.

Down side, upon first inspection, the CelluClay is full of holes, leaked all over everything. It all is powdery and gritty as a result.

CelluClay hole

can you read these

Also, I was a bit surprised by the photocopied sheets. They were virtually impossible to read. Thankfully, we also received an eBook,  ACTÍVA Products’ Favorite Sculpture KIDS CRAFTS, which is available to the public with the project ideas.  The eBook contains no instructions for the Rigid Wrap or the CelluClay either, however it suggests visiting their website for more information and help.

I could not manage to find the CelluClay instructions anywhere. Thankfully, Google was my aid, and I found this; https://youtu.be/2G0_oh1sRzA

 

Kira was quite excited to begin.  We craft a LOT in my home. As an artist,  crafting was the first thing I used to bond with my daughter.  I remember finger painting with her before she could fully walk. Thankfully, Kira seems to love crafting too! We have never used a plaster-coated gauze type product. We previously have used molding clay or Sculpey. The idea of creating and not having to bake was quite appealing to me! I let Kira read over the project ideas and decide what she wanted to do.

Kira loved the butterfly idea, however, she was not impressed with the template on the box. Instead, Kira decided to make her own.  I placed wax paper on a table for her to work at. I already knew by the condition the celluclay had left the box in that this would be messy. I cannot even imagine doing this with a child under the age of 10. Mind you, I am an OCD neat freak.

beginning

We had both the photocopied instructions and the ebook on hand as we began.

Kira really enjoyed the fact that I let her do EVERYTHING herself. I wanted her to fully learn how to pay attention to instructions!

Per the instructions, drying time depends on thickness and environment. Kira only made two thin layers. After 4-5 hours it was finally dry…or so we thought.  There were no instructions of what to do with the excess around the edges! Kira tried to cut them.  This was DISASTEROUS. Her beautiful work began to rip and tear!

Poor Kira was quite upset.  Now I knew she had not fully followed the instructions, but I was not saying a word.  This was a lesson for her.  Kira loves to assume and think she knows everything some times.  I will ask her something, and before I am even finished asking, she will assume the question and answer. Usually, she is not answering what I was amidst asking at all. The byproduct of being smart is also assuming you know more than what you actually know. I felt that  Rigid Wrap and CelluClay Quik-Sculpting Kit from ACTÍVA Products would be a wonderful way for Kira to learn to pace and pay attention and STOP assuming. 

So it was back to the drawing board.  Kira had to start all over again. Her template was ruined too.  Having learned her first try was failure, this time around, Kira reread the general instructions for the Rigid Wrap.  Low and behold, she did not do a weave/opposite pattern between her layers.  Kira had laid each layer identical!

This time around, knowing about the edges, we decided she could fold them over the template.  Not exactly ideal, but it worked!

Kira was extremely happy! This time we let it dry over night, just in case.  (For faster drying, there is an option to microwave or use oven. However, as I wanted to keep this as child friendly as possible, we opted to use the air-dry method. ) The next morning, it was fully dry! Kira decided to do a little scrunching to make the face and body. Once it fully dried, she applied acrylic paint.  Kira seemed a bit miffed that the paint seemed to soak in, even though she was not using water. I would suggest using a primer before painting your craft, just in case. We used level 3 acrylics which are thicker than normal. I was surprised to see it soak this paint up.  Three coats, and poor Kira still saw white spots!

Final Product!

I asked Kira for her honest opinion of Rigid Wrap and CelluClay Quik-Sculpting Kit from ACTÍVA Products.  She said, “It is a LOT of fun to use and I love how you do not have to bake it like Sculpey, because that takes forever.  However, there are disadvantages, although it is easy to use, it is quite messy and takes time to dry”.

Bare in mind, we have only done this one small project.  I have plans for us to make several more, which I of course will share with you all once they are completed.  When I watched the video (link above), I envisioned all the amazing crafts I can create. I personally have never used this type of a product and I absolutely love it. It is a wonderful way for kids to have messy fun! As always, with any project that requires scissors, I highly recommend an adult supervise. The box boasts that it is safe and non-toxic. An extra plus! The eBook ideas are absolutely wonderful. Kira has already picked out several she would like to try.

I have a special mask idea in mind for the upcoming Dia De Los Muertos. I absolutely love the drape molding idea and believe I can make a wonderful mask using a paper plate template! I also am trying to mentally sort a way to create a dragon and a fairy in a full 3D form.  Once completed I will post these.

Kira and I both highly recommend Rigid Wrap and CelluClay Quik-Sculpting Kit from ACTÍVA Products. 

 

 

 

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Fascinating Education, Fascinating Chemistry (A Review)

Reviewing

Fascinating Chemistry

From

Fascinating Education

 

Today, I will be reviewing, Fascinating Chemistry from Fascinating Education. 

Science was one of my favorite subjects in school. I always found the how and why of it all very interesting.  I know I can directly attribute my love of science to Mr. Hubert.  I fondly remember this fascinating educator I was blessed to have while I attended Miami Shores Elementary, many, many years ago.  Mr. Hubert made science seem fascinating and magical. His educational approach made all of the difference in my own personal desire to learn all things science.  Between Mr. Hubert and the Mr. Wizard’s Science Show, I was destined to love all things science related! It was no surprise to find that Kira loved science. If you could have only heard the squeal she let out when she learned she would be learning Chemistry!

 

Fascinating Chemistry from Fascinating Education is simply a wonderful lesson.   Dr. Sheldon Margulies’ approach to science education is quite fantastic.  The lessons’ approach teaches in a straight-forward but fun way, thus enabling the student to not only learn, but to enjoy themselves while doing so.

The layout of the lessons keep your child interested.  Dr. Sheldon Margulies speaks in clear layman’s terms that any child can understand.  The lesson, script, and test layout are a perfect way for any child to grasp.  There are even fun labs. Perhaps my daughter’s (and mine, but shhh, don’t tell) favorite part of any science course! With 12 labs available in this course alone!

Imagine growing your own salt crystals! This first lab was fun and cost us only the few items needed, which we actually already had around the house!  I imagine almost every one would have a jar, water, about half a cup of table salt, stirring rod, fuzzy string or pipe cleaner, and a pencil in their homes.

The lessons can be completed easily one per week.  Each lesson averages to about 45 minutes.  Each of the 19 lessons are exactly what a child needs to grasp the ins-and-outs of chemistry.

My daughter sometimes has a hard time understanding people, especially if they are speaking quickly.  It was wonderful that she was able to go back over what Dr. Sheldon Margulies said as many times as she needed to, or read the script, to fully grasp each and every word.

Although my daughter has not completed the entire course yet, I asked her what she has learned and understands thus far,  I was pleasantly surprised when she answered. Kira quickly boasted about what she has learned of the bond between atoms, the London dispersion force, strong force, and electronegativity! Needless to say, I was quite impressed.

Although not every child is as into science as my daughter is,  Fascinating Chemistry from Fascinating Education is designed to help any child learn chemistry in a fun yet completely educational way!

Kira and I highly recommend  Fascinating Chemistry from Fascinating Education to all home school families. We have enjoyed this experience so very much.  Once Kira has completed her lessons, we are looking forward to completing all of the other courses available from  Fascinating Education!

 

 

 

 

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Beakman’s World was after I graduated high school, so I sadly missed out on that fun and of course this is no longer aired for my daughter to watch.