Dr. Craft’s Active Play Book: Review

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Spring is in the air and along with it the cure for cabin fever! My girls were so anxious to get out in the yard and play once the warm air finally decided to visit the South. I’m happy to let my kids go out and play in the backyard and I join them most of the time, but I typically let them play while I relax and watch on the porch. I’m not very good at structured play to encourage specific skills. 
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Dr. Craft’s Active Play Books equip adults caring for young children with 52 different active play activities. For $39.00 you receive Active Play! Fun Physical Activities for Young Childrena spiral bound book and DVD with incredibly clear instructions. There are pictures of children playing the activities throughout the book and video of real kids (not little paid actors) participating in all the fun. I do think it would have been nice for the pictures in the book to be in color. Sometimes it was difficult to clearly see what was going on in the black and white pictures. 

We used several of these activities for outdoor fun with my girls. While the intended target age is toddlers and preschoolers, my 5-year-old kindergartner and 7-year-old 2nd grader genuinely enjoyed participating with their little 3-year-old sister. I wasn’t sure how much they would want to participate, but they surprised me by wholeheartedly getting on board! Some of our favorites were Egg Farmer, Sock Tails, Outdoor Obstacle Course, and Sock the Cans. 

Egg farmer was a lot of fun because we had so many eggs left over from our neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt! The girls rolled eggs down our backyard slide into a white tub. Because the list of items are basically everyday household things they are easily substituted if you don’t have something. It took some time to find just the right egg catcher for the bottom. Another fun variation was to have one of the other girls be the egg catcher. They had fun trying to catch the eggs as they slid down!

Grace in particular really liked this activity. She became quite good at this activity. It was a great team-building time for my girls. They would cheer one another on, encourage one another if they missed, and took turns collecting the eggs and toting them back up to the top of the slide. I know thy all liked it because after we  were “done” with our official playtime the girls kept on playing this one.
Sock Tails turned into Towel Tails because I found this first. We actually named this game Catch the Bunny Tail for our spring-theme. The girls have been searching for bunnies under our shed because they know they lived there last spring. The only uh-oh portion of the activity was when Grace (3-year-old preschooler) dropped her pants right in the middle of the yard because she couldn’t find the tail! Oops! You can tell our neighbors are close so I’m glad no one was outside. (At least not that I know of!) They had a great time with this one though and it was a fun variation on tag, which I’ve never really enjoyed that much. I joined in the fun too and Grace really liked catching the tail when I was wearing it.
Soon after this the pollen hit full-force, so I asked my husband to take over the Active Play portion of our days. I love spring, but boy does the pollen get to me. The neat part about this was I got to let another adult try out the book and sure enough he enjoyed it as well. (Thanks to my mother-in-law who was in town to take some shots of the fun too!)
My husband first set up Sock the Cans. I didn’t want to use the girls’ new socks outside and we didn’t have cans…so once again we got creative! He pulled out some containers from the recycling bin and Grace used a softer bouncy ball. She loved this! I think it may have felt like a carnival game to her. 
My husband had a good time setting up the obstacle course using what we had just laying around the yard and in the shed.
 Here is the layout…
Down the slide…
Under the lattice…     
Around the table…
Over the bridge…
And onto the swing! (All my pics of the swings turned out blurry!)
One of the things I really liked about the book was the list of materials presented before the activity explanation was given. This made it easy to make sure I had everything I needed before beginning. I also liked that the goals for the activity were listed at the top of each activity. This way if I wanted to focus on a particular skill, like galloping or jumping, I could quickly scan through the games to find what I was looking for. The demo DVD was fun because of the real kids doing the activities. Although I felt like the instructions were very clear, having the DVD in case something wasn’t clear to me was helpful. Seeing real kids having fun was great!
Don’t forget to read other reviews from my Crewmates!

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Family Time Fitness Review, a Coupon…and Giveaway!

Fitness 4 Homeschool Physical Education Curriculum
There are many types of exercise…

Leaf Jumping….
Bike riding…
Leaf raking…
Playing games…

These are all great forms of exercise, but…
1. They are typically unplanned
2. There is little opportunity for learning new skills
3. The girls don’t have to work together
I’ll be honest…I’m not really a physical education kind of girl. I dreaded PE when I was in school and the thought of actually forcing them to do PE within a homeschool context didn’t even enter my mind. To be honest, I was glad the girls didn’t have to go through some of the annoyances I did. 
Maybe you can relate to some of these…
Chosen last when picking teams
Your team getting upset because you didn’t run fast enough
Having the kickball rolled at you repeatedly because you missed
Secretly being thrilled your doctor’s appointments overlapped PE class.
Most of my trouble with PE came because I would get really, really nervous whenever we had to do anything in PE. My strengths lied elsewhere…like in music or academics…really anywhere that didn’t require athletics or competition. 
Fitness 4 Homeschool Physical Education CurriculumSo this is my background…then one day I saw an add for Family Time Fitness. I was intrigued by the name and that it was on a homeschool blog I was visiting. After taking a look at the program I wondered if maybe there was more to this PE thing than I thought.

We’ve been using Family Time Fitness now for several weeks and I can honestly tell you I am surprised that not only are my kids having fun…I am having fun! The program is intended to be used 5 days a week. Because of our schedule it works better for us to use it 3 days a week on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.

I love that the program comes as a pdf. I use it on my kindle and it has been so easy to take wherever we decide to exercise. Although the font is small, it is readable and the best part is I can access the sample videos at the same time! 

Each day begins with warm ups…

A lot of these warm ups involve practice in balance and coordination. Even just in the short time we have been using Family Time Fitness I have seen an improvement in the older girls’ coordination. Grace really enjoys the warm ups too, even though she’s only 3. She seems to think it’s some sort of dance!

Then there is an indoor activity…

After several warm up activities there are a few indoor activities. They are quite varied and the girls have had so much fun playing them! One of my concerns was space. I wouldn’t say our home is small, but there isn’t a lot of open space for activities, but even the small area of our living room that is open provided plenty of room.

The girls really liked the jump the river game in particular. They have asked to play it over and over again. They have even set up their own river and took turns jumping over it!
I could  keep writing a whole lot about how great these are, but I think you’ll see how much fun the girls are having if you watch the video.

Next is the cool down…
I wasn’t sure how much the girls would enjoy warming up and cooling down, but they really do! They see each stretch as a challenge and the results can be hilarious when directions get lost in translation…

Finally there is an outside activity…

There are usually a few minimal supplies needed, but they are typically thing we have around the house already and even if you don’t, you can easily modify with what you do have on hand. One example was for a game that suggested using cones. I didn’t have any cones, but I do have sand buckets! Turned upside down, they were just the the thing! 

Using Family Time Fitness I’ve realized a few things…
1. My girls enjoy more structured playtime!
2. I’m teaching my daughters healthy habits about exercise.
3. My girls like encouraging one another through a team effort.
Are you ready for the giveaway now?
The prize is the complete Family Time Fitness – Fitness for Homeschools Core 1 for K-8th grade.
You can enter several ways through rafflecopter. 
I wish you all could win, but if you aren’t the blessed one I still have some great news! Family Time Fitness has generously given me a coupon code to share with you to get 20% off your order!

Fitness 4 Homeschool Physical Education Curriculum
Coupon Code: LCC20
Expiration: November 9, 2012

*I recieved Family Time Fitness in exchange for an unbiased review. No other compensation was received.