Crochet Cute Critters: A Net Galley Review

These adorable little critters are just the thing to get your creative fingers flowing! There is one “critter” for each letter of the alphabet! It’s really hard to pic a favorite as they are all simply precious! This book focuses on amigurumi, or the Japanese word for crocheting soft toys. It’s super fun to say and even a handy pronunciation guide right at the beginning!

I love the simplicity of these creatures and how they are based on very simple crochet stitches. You can begin with any of the critters you choose as they are based on the same principle pattern with just minor feature variations. I learned first to crochet snowflakes and doilies, but haven’t done any in a really long time. I was pleased how easy it was to pick this back up again after quite a few years to help my daughter learn some of the basic stitches. We used some practice yarn initially because she had never crocheted anything more than a chain of stitches before this. The basic ideas of these patterns have you building up to sculpt rather than out to make a large circle.

The hardest part seems to be attaching the various pieces (head, body, arms, and legs) together. Still, there are plenty of excellent photos illustrating the various techniques. All throughout the book there are several illustrations teaching how to stitch, stuff, and sew these adorable creatures.

Not matter which you choose to start with you can see these are some of the sweetest little stuffies you have ever laid eyes on! My daughter is really looking forward to working on several of these cute critters! Especially to give as gifts to our friends who have little ones!

Disclaimer: I was given this title through Net Galley in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

44 Animals of the Bible: A Moms of Master Books Review

Do you have any animal fanatics in your house? We have three and they can’t get enough of animal stories, toys, pretend play, and visits to zoos or aquariums. The opportunity to review a book about animals in the Bible came at just the right time.

44 Animals of the Bible from Master Books (a division of New Leaf Publishing) is a fabulous resource to add to both your Bible and science collection. Every time I turned the page I was delighted with the beautiful illustrations created by Lloyd R. Hight. Nancy Johnson writes in a way which is interesting for kids to read and just delightful to study. I like how much I’m learning but also that my daughters are able to read it on their own.

There are many, many ways in which this could be used in your home. My girls love to pull books like this off the shelves and read for fun. We have quite a collection of Master Books on a low shelf (just for this reason) which is where you will find this one!

During the summer I started doing a “circle” time of sorts and each week looked at a different animal. This book is exactly what I have been looking for to incorporate into this time! It is concise enough to read in one sitting, and biblically accountable so I don’t have to re-explain why we disagree with certain facts in typical animal books. With 44 animals and our less than regular schedule this could last us for two years and then start all over again!

We recently had a chance to visit the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta. Without a doubt the beluga whales were our favorites. Grace especially loved these majestic creatures. While the beluga whale in particular is not mentioned, whales are. Don’t freak out, but you know how we were taught about “Jonah and the Whale” as kids, and then we were told this was wrong and the Bible says fish in the original language? Well guess what! The author assured me it very well indeed could have been a whale! Doesn’t this make you feel better? It certainly did me!

I love how the information goes way beyond just the facts, but includes the biblical references and further historical information many times as to why these animals were important in biblical times or what they represented. Because of the Scripture references on each page this could also be used as a really unique family devotional, especially if you want to change things up a little bit.

This is just one more book you can add to your collection which you can trust to be biblically accurate, engaging for your children, and continue to point them back to Scripture as a source. I am never ever disappointed with the publications of Master Books!

Disclaimer: I received 44 Animals of the Bible as part of the Moms of Master Books Team. I was not required to give a positive review. I was not compensated in any other way. 

Marvels of Creation Series: Review

What do you do with kids who have insatiable curiosities? Give them more to learn from! I love how much I can trust anything I receive from Master Books, a division of New Leaf Publishing Group. Although I happily read all we receive, I don’t feel like I have to preview it before my girls get their hands on it. I know it will be solidly biblical and scientifically accurate in addition to beautifully illustrated and engagingly written! The most recent series I’ve had the chance to review is Marvels of Creation by Buddy and Kay Davis. Buddy Davis is known for his wonderful videos from the Creation Museum and Answers in Genesis. My girls love watching him teach them about dinosaurs!

I just barely had time to snap this picture before my girls whisked these lovely books away! They were jumping up and down behind me asking, “Are you done yet?!?!” I have used these books as resource material, but my girls just love reading them. They quiet time every afternoon after lunch and have been choosing a book from this series often. Each book has an appendix with a glossary of terms which is a nice addition. Other information is also included in the appendix which I’ll write about for each specific book.

Magnificent Mammals shows mammals from all over the world with beautiful photographs and information. Some of these mammals my girls have seen in our zoo and they love talking about that. I love how the appendix includes footprints and approximate sizes of these prints for a variety of animals. We’ve never come across animal tracks in our yard, but it will be fun to have as a resource if we ever do!

Sensational Sea Creatures is my personal favorite. I’ve always loved learning about the ocean and at one time though I’d like to be a marine biologist. Included in this appendix is information about the anatomy of fish. This is so interesting and not often covered in a book meant for children. I really like that my girls can see how a fish is built intentionally by our creator.

Breathtaking Birds has been the favorite of Rose who has become infatuated with owls in the last couple of months! This is her favorite part to read in this book. The appendix in this book contains information about the anatomy of birds as well as how and why they are able to fly. I especially love how many of the photographs used are of birds in flight. They are breathtaking!

Each page in every book has specifications about the animal’s height, weight and life-span specifications as well as special design features and lesser known facts. My girls are absorbing all of this information and can’t wait to tell me and my husband all they have learned!

One day I heard, “Come one everybody! It’s story time at the library!” I walked in to see my girl using the Marvels of Creation for their pretend storytime! It was so sweet and they were actually reading this information aloud for their little sister who is just learning to read.

These books are an excellent alternative for evolutionary based field-guides. You can see samples of the books on the New Leaf Publishing page when you click the links. I’m certain your entire family will enjoy these!

Disclaimer: I received the the Marvels of Creation series in exchange for an honest review.  I was not required to give a positive review. I was not compensated in any other way. 

Wild Cards~Baby Animals Around the World from Birdcage Press: Review

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I don’t know if it is because I have all daughters or because it is their age or I am just blessed, but all three of my children are infatuated with everything baby related. Nearly every time they play pretend a baby is involved with the family. They all croon over newborns and label everything as a Mama and baby…even inanimate objects! One of our favorite car games to play at the moment is identifying the names of baby animals I will call out a baby animal name and they have to figure out what the adult version is called. Needless to say we were all excited when we received Wild Cards: Baby Animals Around the World from Birdcage Press
Wild Cards - Baby Animals Around the World photo Birdcage-wildcardsbabyanimals_zps7f8bf6b3.jpgBirdcage Press specializes in learning games which an be found in the world’s finest museums covering a variety of topics including science, history, and art. These beautiful cards not only have stunning pictures, but are filled with interesting facts about each animal. Also included is a nice little book with even more information! To say my girls crave knowledge is an understatement. I could hardly tear them away from just reading these cards to play some of the suggested games. For only $10.95 this is a very high quality product. While it is intended for ages 6 and up all three of my girls (7, 5, and 3) enjoyed this set. 
The 28-page booklet also includes game ideas to use with the cards. This particular set has 3 pairs of animals from a variety of continents around the world. At the bottom of each card the other two corresponding animals are listed. Each continent represented also has a corresponding color and number for easier matching. 
Because there are two of each card go fish and old maid are easily played with this set. However my favorite game we played was reminiscent of rummy. Instead of simply searching for a match, we tried to get a set of animals from the same continent. This was a bigger challenge and was a more unique way to play. 
Grace really liked this game although my husband helped her out quite a bit. Our girls have played games of all varieties from the time they were about 15 months old. Sometimes in our laps, sometimes on their own, but always as a family. Grace often plays Go Fish with her sisters and she kept wanting to go that route, but she caught on once she and Daddy matched up a set. 
We inherited our love of game playing from our parents and are passing the tradition down to our girls! We’re always on the lookout for something new and unique. Kids games tend to be very similar, but this one was different than any other we have. The only downside was our game went rather slowly…but I can’t complain! The reason it took us forever to finish one game was because the girls couldn’t help but read and discover more about the animals on the cards in their hands!
Here is the proof of the real test of a product. My girls organized this game on their own. Beth asked if anyone wanted to play the Baby Animal Game, they got out their beanbag chairs, and played without us. While the girls enjoy games, they don’t typically play without us. It was fun to Rose and Beth help Grace along and see the have a good time making memories! 
Check out more reviews of this and other products from Bird Cage Press below from my Crewmates!
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Safari Ltd.: Review and Giveaway!

I’m so excited to partner with Safari Ltd. for this review and giveaway! My girls love to play what they are learning about in school whether it is history or science. I love all of the beautiful figures Safari Ltd. has created for both science and history. This company strives for excellence in accuracy and detail which shows in all of their figures. 

Our family owns several sets from Safari Ltd. Our collection includes both historical and animal figures. This Christmas we pieced together a Chronicles of Narnia playset and one of my favorite parts is Mr. and Mrs. Beaver which came from Safari Ltd

I love their motto: Discover the frontiers of your imagination. Imagination is what leads to invention, art, and discovery. I love giving my girls tools which encourage imagination rather than box it in. I also love seeing how what we learn integrates into their play. Our early American histories studies have been greatly enhanced. Rose would often pull out our Jamestown settlers and act out the various stories from history I read. We studied the Powhatans extensively this year, so I was thrilled to receive this Toob ® to review. 

The Safari Ltd. Toob ® series are affordably priced and come with 12 different figures. My girls love them because they get so much in one container! We have purchased several of these including penguins, Jamestown settlers, baby sea life, dino babies, and arctic. Other sets in the Toob ® series include other historical figures, world landmarks, trees, instruments, people…there are just so many to check out! 

I especially like that the historical figures are based on actual individuals in history like Pocahontas, Wahunsenacawh (her father), and John Smith.The effort to make these figures appealing in clear as they are all beautifully painted and have such intricate detail.  

You can see what effort and care have been made in these figures. I love the natural look of the rumpled clothes. I also appreciate how carefully the faces have been painted. Many children’s toys don’t always take care to make sure the eyes are even in the right spot for toys this small. Every little detail has been monitored with each figure. 
My kids rarely play with just one set of toys. We often have the feel of the movie Toy Story with dinosaurs playing with the early settlers or the Powhatan tribe traveling in a car. Beth enjoyed using the background scenery from her older sister’s origami set and Rose preferred our set of Nature Blocks. One day I found Grace had included her miniature princesses into their play! That’s the point though…imaginative play. It doesn’t matter that they are playing with figures from different eras or even fantasy and reality. Imaginative play is the key, and these particular sets of toys bring out imagination in such a beautiful way! Our curriculum incorporates living books for both history and science. What better complement to this than actual figures to make the history jump off the page! 
We were also given the Toob ® set Land Down Under to review. The girls liked them so much I couldn’t get them to slow down their play enough to get some good photos! The set is also beautifully crafted and includes an Aboriginal trail guide to make sure everyone stays safe. (At least that was his job in our house!) Just as with the historical figures the detail included for each of these figures is exquisite. The frizzled lizard was a particular favorite among my girls! 
Now I am privileged to host a fun giveaway for you all! Safari Ltd. will give one winner the Toob ® of their choice! The winner will also receive a second surprise if following one of their social networks! (The links to those networks are listed in the rafflecopter below) There are lots of ways to earn extra entries so don’t forget to enter as much as possible! 

Field Trip: The Zoo!

One of the great things about homeschooling is the freedom to take field trips as a family to the places we want the girls to experience. I have a whole list of filed trips both local and far away.

We have a really nice children’s museum where we get free admission after lunch on Wednesdays. Our library also often has things for kids. My girls really feel like a trip to the library is a field trip even if there isn’t anything special going on!

Sometimes we like to make day trips. We bought a season pass for which is about an hour and a half away from us. We made our most recent trip on a Friday. It was great! The last time we went it was crowded and sweltering. The fall provided a beautiful day with only a handful of other families.

The girls really like the North America area. So many of these animals are found near us and they enjoy seeing them up close. This is the first time we’ve been able to see the black bears and they were fascinated!

The girls really like taking pictures with the various animal statues. Some are small enough to climb on, but others are a bit larger as you can see! While I appreciate the effort the zoo puts into making sure their statues are accurately portraying the animals, I have learned to strategically place children in order to make our photos a little more family friendly!

92008X: Zoo Guide: A Bible-Based Handbook to the ZooWe want our girls to have a biblical world view and we believe the biblical account of creation as told in Genesis. This creates a bit of a problem when we want to go to a secular zoo or museum. I stumbled across this zoo guide from the people at Answers in Genesis last year. Not only do I appreciate the content, but the pictures are beautiful! My daughters love reading it for fun while we’re at home and I love that we can take it with us to the zoo. Since learning to read my oldest two daughters absorb everything they read and I am finding myself working to train them to be discerning more and more. You can click the link below to find out more information!

We were excited to get to walk the Dinosaur trail as well before it closed for the season. The dinosaurs are animated and noisy too! The line during out last visit was much too long to enter the trail, which costs a little extra. Because there were fewer people there the girls walked back and forth through the trail a few times. Sadly, this is when my camera flash sparked and blew out. I was glad I had taken most of the pictures I had wanted already. 
So our day was a success and we decided from now on we will only visit the zoo during the fall, winter, and spring…no more sweltering days for us!

Here are my ratings on a 10 point scale…
Family Friendly: 10
Kids Engagement: 10
Likelihood to return: 10 (We love our season passes!)