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Free Play or Flashcards? New Study Nods to More Rigorous Preschools

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Book Review – Grand Canyon

For the most part the age difference between the boys isn’t such a big deal but when it comes to bed time stories there are not a lot they can agree on. Jason Chin’s book about the Grand Canyon (Grand Canyon) has something that appeals to all age levels. The tale features big colorful splash pages depicting all manor of wildlife but the story telling structure is geared to a slightly advanced reader. Using a time traveling theme the book shows what the massive canyon looked liked all throughout the last few millions of years. Told via a surrogate hiker character we journey up the layers learning geology and biology. The Grand Canyon is one of those places that everyone says you have to experience because you can’t process the massive scale unless you are standing there. Mr. Chin has created the next best thing to an actual visit especially since the end features a fold out four page spread of the whole canyon (I can only assume the real thing is only slightly more impressive).


Book Review – Star Wars Builders

LTD is always up for a good project, but I am not always up for spending a lot of time being his slave. However, both boys are like most humans alive on the planet big Star Wars fans and so projects marrying those worlds are welcome. The Star Wars Builders series of books offers a choice to build some models and avoid the glue. These paper models come in sheets that you punch out and slot the pieces together. The boys have been digging the Droids but there are also Star Fighters and the Millennium Falcon. Additionally, the sets come with an accompanying book offering details and facts about R2 and X- Wings. I will caution that you either need The Mommy or a lot of patience as some of the pieces, especially the ones that need to be bent, can be challenging to assemble. You also need to supervise the pieces as they are taken off the sheet, since the slots will tear if not treated with respect.

Never Felt Better

Thanks to The Mommy’s artistic and creative talents the boys are always up for a good craft project. And I am up for anything that doesn’t involve glue or my sons using the tape dispenser. Since the Spring weather has been unseasonable chilly we have been experiencing screen overload while they are stuck inside. One project that LTD has been doing really well is Marvel Universe Felt. The kit comes with 10 cool characters, the felt sheets, needle, floss and stuffing. BB has been waiting not so patiently for the Hulk and Iron Man to be finished. He hasn’t quite masted the fine motor skills needed for the needle work but LTD isn’t half bad. Thankfully, The Mommy is supervising or I’m sure we only have mutant version of these popular heroes with some being wicked fat with stuffing while others would be pancake flat. So far the family favorite is Captain America as he seems the most cheerful.

Book Review – Henry Hunter and the Cursed Pirates

Now that LTD has plowed through all of Harry Potter the choices are endless. Lately, he has been into Indiana Jones and BB has been bragging on pirates so John Matthews Henry Hunter series seemed like a logic choice. Mr. Matthews is a prolific author who is big into King Arthur (yes, to answer your question he lives in the UK). LTD has been reading the tale out loud to BB with mixes results. However, the story from what I gather is pretty interesting. It seems Henry Hunter’s buddy Charlie needs help because his parents are missing. Henry and his partner Dolf take up the quest. The story is set in the Caribbean which leads us to not only pirates but they pirate himself, Blackbeard. BB is psyched because they are technically ghost pirates. The book features a quick introduction explaining the origins of Mr. Hunter which brought us all up to speed on why he is able to hunt pirates in the first place. The book also has a few illustrations that set the mood and provided BB a welcome distraction from interrupting. Since the author is also a historian the book is rich in detail which makes it slightly cooler than the normal stuff LTD reads. Plus BB has announced he wants to be a ghost pirate for Halloween.

Book Review – Goldfish Ghost

BB didn’t 100% join the Series of Unfortunate Events bandwagon but he wanted in on the Lemony Snicket action. So the new book, Goldfish Ghost satisfies the urge. The paranormal tale, with art by Lisa Brown, centers on a Goldfish (born on the surface, but never addressed as a ghost) who is lonely. He looks for company in many different places but doesn’t quite find what he is looking for. As usual, I won’t spoil the ending, but needless to say he finds a friend. The story is interesting because it doesn’t specific deal with the Goldfish being “dead” but astute readers will pick up on it. The book also provides a welcome opportuinity for BB to say the word ghost, which he pronounces, ghost-is-sss. The illustrations are often busy which provides a nice contrast to the muted tone of the tale. Needless to say when I found out a goldfish can live more than a year I told the kids nope after their request.



Product Review – Bump It Off

The boys have a casual relationship with cleanliness and in that regard we are always looking for something to assist them in the bath. Anything to try and get to actual clean instead of kid clean. The reusable silcone sleeve, Bump It Off offers a fun way to clean. The uses are laundry, kitchen, pet and body so you pretty much need four if you don’t want to creep out The Mommy. The boys have been digging it as it provides a cooler look than the wash cloth.I dig it because it goes on the top rack of the dishwasher which is a major plus after scrubbing pots and pans. The sleeve design aspect gets the boys to actually scrub in the bath instead of drowning the sea captain that came with the toy fishing boat. The dog remains unimpressed.


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Book Review – Science Comics

I’m a big believer in using comic books to teach kids to read. Falynn Koch has taken the concept a step further by adding science to the mix. Part of the Science Comics series Bats: Learning to Fly begins with a intro to the topic followed by a cool graphic novel adventure. The tale focuses on a brown bat who sustains damage to his wing. In a reverse Dracula situation it is a human who hurts the bat. However, once taken to a bat clinic we learn about the different types of bats. Falynn’s art is bright and bold plus she is from Buffalo, where The Mommy went to high school. LTD has been announcing his new bat knowledge every chance he gets, while BB doesn’t understand why Batman is not featured. And yes there is mention of Vampire bats.


Book Review – Marvel: Spider-Man 1000 Dot-to-Dot Book

The phrase this is not your daddy’s dot to dot book comes to mind. LTD has been kept quite busy as of late filling out the over sized connect the dots book, Marvel: Spider-Man 1000 Dot-to-Dot Book. The activity book features 20 hardcore puzzles each sporting over one thousand dots. Not that is a lot of time in which I can be left alone to finish dinner at a restaurant. There are so many dots and they are close together that only his small hands can complete the challenge. I don’t think I could complete Spider-man without going crazy. One good thing they did was to change the dot color throughout the page so you don’t go dot blind trying to figure out where you left off. LTD is gearing up to tackle the pull out poster in the middle that features over 1700 dots. and to that I say, better him than me.