Sunday, April 28, 2013

F is for 'Favorite Game'

I have been thinking about the letter 'F' all week since I am participate with Ben and Me in the Blogging around the Alphabet.

Today one of the kids said  "That's our FAVORITE game" so I decided that's what my 'F' post should be about.

ALONG time ago when we still lived in England my husband and I went to stay for a week with my in-laws in their holiday home. We were having a lovely spell of English weather (namely rain) and were quite desperate for some fun. My in-laws suggested we go to a local flea market and wander around. My husband and I found a game called 'Mandarin' it was still sealed and cost three pounds - so we decided it was worth the risk. It was an immediate hit with everyone I think we played it continuously for the rest of the rainy week.

We have played this game for about 15 years. The animals depicted on the tiles and cards are of the Chinese Zodiac - Rat, Ox, Tiger, Cat, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig. The tiles are about half an inch square and each zodiac has a tile in each color. The circular movement track on the board is composed of 12 sectors, each corresponding to one of the animals of the zodiac, each with three squares, the inner square of each sector depicting a Chinese character, the other two squares a plain color.

One thing we like about this game as there is no reading required which means as soon as our children could sit and understand the rules they could join in the fun. (Little J is currently learning the rules - and LOVES taking his turn shaking the die.)
Game set up is really simple. All of the zodiac tiles are but into the little pagoda house which dispenses the tiles. The players are all given the same amount of money and a collection card.

The 'old wise one' gets to go first (my husband LOVES this rule.)

Now, the goal of the game is for each player to collect enough tiles so that they have either one tile of each animal (regardless of color) or all six colored tiles of any one animal. With that in mind, the game play is very simple.

On their turn, a player rolls the die and moves that many spaces clockwise around the board. Depending on where the player ends up they may either end up drawing some money from the bank (if landing on the inner Chinese character square of any zodiac sector) or alternatively use the dispenser.

The favorite part of the game for my children is using the dispenser. As mentioned above, the dispenser contains all the tiles that are unclaimed in the game. At the base of the dispenser is a little pedal/switch that players press and, on doing so, one tile is ejected from the bottom of the pagoda. Now the tiles only have their animal designs printed on one side of them, so when they pop out from the dispenser, as they do they come out either 'face up' or 'face down'.

When using the dispenser, the player gets to eject one tile for free - this obviously comes up face up or down. At this point the player can take the tile (not knowing which animal is on it if it came out face down) or risk pressing the peddle again to get another tile. If they decide to risk it they can choose to dispense another tile... and another... and another... This continues until either the player calls a halt and grabs all the tiles that have come out so far, or a tile comes out face up. At that point the dispensing ends and the player has lost their ability to claim the tiles for free. At this point ownership of the tiles is determined by a bidding which is open to all players, and this is where the players spend most their money.

Whenever a player wins a tile or tiles, they are placed on their collection card (everyone can see how the other players are doing).

There are additional rules that my kids love - when a player passes another player on the board gets to claim a tile from them and then roll again to try and escape; if a player owns 3 or more tiles of a particular zodiac creature they are considered to 'own' that area of the board and may charge tax on other players who land on the Chinese character square within it; players can sell tiles back to the 'bank' to gain money back; some of the tiles are marked with "Emperor" crowns making them more expensive plus where 2 players both own 3 tiles each for a particular type of animal the one with the 'Emperor' trumps the other player, the 'tax' is also doubled when the player has an Emperor tile.

The randomness of the tile dispensing adds a lot of unpredictability to the game. Although there is a small amount of skill needed (watching of others boards and outbidding for tiles at the right time) There is enough 'luck' needed so that the youngest players can win. (Boo won 2 games in a row last weekend.)

The only drawback to the game is the assigned starting position related to birth years. If my kids are too close together then they can get a little upset if they always have a sibling coming up behind them to steal a tile. We got around this by just spreading people evenly around the board.

Whenever we have played this game with family and friends - all have tried to get their own copy. Most people have had to pick it up from second hand stores or eBay as unfortunately Mattel no longer manufacture this game.

Most people have never heard of this game...but it our house it is our favorite. Thanks to a rainy day in Ulrome near Bridlington.
Check out what others are saying about the letter 'F' this week.

Blogging Through the Alphabet

©2011-2013 Chickensbunniesandhomeschool. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author

Friday, April 26, 2013

Random 5 Friday

Here we go again...I am linking up with The Pebble Pond for Random 5 Friday.

Hopefully I can think of five things that don't bore you all so much you never come back.

1. I LOVE Emerald Cocoa Roast Almonds - The Dark Chocolate flavor. (I just ate a handful). I buy them in bulk from Sam's Club.

2. We have had A LOT of rain this week. I took Little J out with me to walk the dog. I let him jump in the puddles so much we had to go back and change his clothes - it was worth it to see him have fun. (The big kids were SO jealous).

3. I took Little J for his check up at the Ophthalmologist Wednesday and his eyes have improved another 10% YEAH! When we started this journey with his Amblyopia his eye site was 20/100 he is now between 20/50 and 20/60 our original goal (well the Ophthalmologist's goal) was to get him to 20/40.

4. Grandma and the kids had a great time gardening last weekend. The older kids learned a lot about weeding and had great fun chatting with Grandma. We learned that Little J is dangerous with gardening tools especially those with sharp points. Luckily no one was hurt...we did ban him from using them though. He attacked the garden in the same was as he attacked the waves when we were at the beach - except he was A LOT closer to others in the garden and I had to reign him in a little lot.

5. My kids found a couple of old pots of marbles and it has become their new favorite past-time.

Except they don't like the rule that the winner keeps the marbles. Well at least they don't when they are not the winner.

Check out what others have written about on their Random 5.

©2011-2013 Chickensbunniesandhomeschool. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author

Monday, April 22, 2013

Life with out a school room

We have been homeschooling for nearly two years. I can't believe how time has flown. Jam would be finishing up 6th grade if he was still in Public School and Boo would be finishing up 4th.

I have spent a lot of time drooling over the 'school rooms' found all over the Internet on various home school blogs and part of me wishes we had one. However I don't think ours would look like a lot of the others. Here is a list of some of the things I would love in a school room.

1. A window seat - big and soft with lots of cushions.
2. A table for art projects
3. Bookshelves
4. Sofa - with recliners
5. bean bags
6. Computers, printer, scanner

After looking through this list I realized the only thing I don't have is my longed for window seat. (I have ALWAYS wanted one of those. Like the one Jane Eyre was hidden behind at the beginning of the story.

The only thing we need more of is bookshelves and I have yet to meet a home school that doesn't.

As for a special room - yes it would be nice but we have a pretty cool set up and the kids love it.

The things we can't do without;

Each other :)
Laptops (and Internet)
Printer (and paper)
Zoo pass
Paints and Paper
Glue Sticks (Yes I will be buying more than last year)
Pencils (because apparently we each lose on everyday)
Crayons (because they only work right when they are new)
Markers (again they go in the same black hole as the pencils)
Pencil Sharpener (We ended up attaching an old school one in the garage - works like a charm - and doesn't get lost.)
I am participating in the Carnival of Homeschooling # 382 hosted by Teach Beside Me check out the other posts here. I know I will be.

©2011-2013 Chickensbunniesandhomeschool. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author

Friday, April 19, 2013

Random 5 Friday

Random 5 Friday

1. We have a crazy dog. We love him but he won't fetch a ball. In fact he doesn't really play at all. However he does like his rubber duck. He also spends a lot of time sat perched on the top of the sofa like a cat staring out of the window.

2. My husband and I met when I was 2 our parents were friends. He was 4 and threw-up on my Mom's sofa.

3. After moving away we met again when I was 15 I noticed the T shirt he was wearing (It was awesome). I told my friend I would get the T shirt in two weeks (My husband came with it lol) We have been inseparable ever since. The T shirt is now framed on our living room wall. It is an excellent conversation starter.

4. We love the beach. If we could move anywhere it would be near the beach...or the the middle of no-where. OK so I love solitude. I am definitely not a city person.

Little J spent our week at the beach last summer killing waves. 

5. We LOVE Friday nights at our house. Tonight we used our 25 points from Papa John's to order (free) pizza add a salad and a good movie - perfect.

Check out more random five's over at The Pebble Pond.

©2011-2013 Chickensbunniesandhomeschool. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Math Rider - Review

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My kids LOVE computer games. They don't love math facts. We were given the chance to review Math Rider a computer game that manages to blend both wonderfully.

Math Rider is a game that helps children (or adults if you want to brush up on your math facts) master the core foundation math facts in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. It is designed for children 6-12 but if they know enough math facts (addition) and can use a computer then it could be used for younger children.

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Jam and Boo are 12 and 10 they are pretty good at math however like most children I know they could do with brushing up on their math facts.

They love playing on a website that comes with soft furry animals (I am sure you know the one). So I really hoped this program would be a good fit. Guess what...I know my kids pretty well they LOVED it.

The day we got the program it was too late for them to test it out. We have pretty strict parental controls on their laptop's and so I wanted the tech man in the house aka Dad to be the one to download and install the program. I promised them by morning it would be ready to go.

I work from home in the wee hours of the morning and when I came upstairs the next day this is what I saw...

To put this in perspective it is 6:30am and they stayed this way (yes including the little one) until I told them we had to get on with our day.

This is a YouTube video showing more about Math Rider.

My kids have played it everyday (I think even weekends) for the last month. I have noticed a HUGE improvement in the speed in which they are remembering their math facts.

The game is individual to each child, they have their own log in and as they play the game learns what the 'rider' knows and what they need to learn. Every answer or lack of answer is stored in the database and analyzed by the software so the 'rider' is always learning. Therefore each child practices what they need to practice.

There is also a tracking area so I can see quickly how Jam and Boo are doing and how they have improved.

 multiplication statistics

The game is set in the 'Land of Ray' the child rides a horse called 'Shadow'. The land is of course fantasy and the rider has a variety of quests to complete.

 multiplication practice in the enchanted forest

Each math operation 'Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, and Division' has four quests. The rider completes each quest finding magical flowers, gems, and even rescues a princess.

 multiplication practice - rescue the princess

As my kids completed quests and started new ones they found that the quests for each operation were the same. However the rewards were different. They loved collecting these rewards. This kept the game interesting and fun.

I often hear the older kids talking between themselves about a certain flower they have won, or gem they managed to return to the elves. 

What I love about this game is that the success of the rider (child) is based purely on math facts. If a five year old had learned enough facts to play the game his ability or lack of to maneuver a stick or press keys in a certain order would not affect his score. The rider is successful when he enters the correct math facts. That's it, hand-eye coordination is not needed. Having a son with Amblyopia that is important to me. Math facts are all you need to be successful.

I have been recommending this game to my friends and family so if you want to try it Math Rider offer a free FULL VERSION 7-day trial of their program. Click here to get information.

This program is available as an instant download to your computer and is supported on Windows and Mac OSX. Click here to find more specific information about requirements.

It is also a one-time purchase which I think is AWESOME no monthly fees.

You can buy it for $47.00 here.

It also comes with a risk free 30 day trial period. PLUS - FREE UPDATES FOR LIFE. So not only do you never have to purchase it again. If they make improvements or updates you get them too. A definite win-win if you ask me.

I asked Jam what he thought of the program after playing it everyday for a month he replied  "AWESOME". (and his sister agreed)

That sums up our thoughts nicely.

Check out what others on the Crew thought about Math Rider by clicking on the box below.


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©2011-2013 Chickensbunniesandhomeschool. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author

E is for Elephant Paintings

Blogging Through the Alphabet

E is for Elephant Paintings

Our zoo has this really fun fundraiser. The Elephants paint pictures - while you watch. It is very fun.

Of course we couldn't resist.

The zookeeper gives the elephants a couple of treats and then he hands her a paintbrush (already coated with paint.) The elephant swipes the canvas with the brush. If more than one color is used then this is repeated a couple of times.

Then you end up with something like this...

We have ours in the dining room. It always attracts attention. 

There are two kinds of elephants Asian and African. Our zoo has African elephants. The way you can tell the difference between them is by looking at their ears. The African elephant has bigger ears. Their ears also look a little like the continent of Africa. Asian elephants have very small ears.

Check out what other people are blogging about for the letter E over at Ben and Me.

©2011-2013 Chickensbunniesandhomeschool. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author

Monday, April 15, 2013

Knowledge Quest Sacagawea Book - Review

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Boo loves to read.  So when we were given the chance to review a book about Sacagawea from Knowledge Quest I jumped at the chance. My son Jam had read a book about Lewis and Clark last year and so we were quite familiar with the general story. However we didn't realize how much we didn't know about Sacagawea. To say we loved this book is an understatement. Boo and I read it separately and discussed it as we went along. There are words in the text that are hyper- linked to help you with understanding. I don't want to give away too much of the story line... but did you know that Sacagawea was stolen from her family and then sold as a slave. Did you know she was only 16 when she played such a vital role in the Lewis and Clark Expedition, with a new-born son.
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I asked Boo what she thought "I really loved it. It was really interesting."

This book really sparked an interest in Boo. A couple of nights after finishing the book. Boo and I were at home alone. I asked her if she wanted to watch something together. "Sure, can you find a documentary on Sacagwea".

This book was originally written and released in four episodes but Boo would have been mortified if I had made her wait in between each one. It definitely reads well as one book.

This book is available for $4.97 here.
We loved this book but don't just take our word for it check out what others on the review are saying here.

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 ©2011-2013 Chickensbunniesandhomeschool. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author

Friday, April 12, 2013

Decency Standards on Radio and TV

We don't watch a lot of TV in our house. In fact we don't subscribed to any channels. We have an antenna but our TV is normally tuned to the Internet for educational programs.

However I was reading over at Latter-Day Homeschooling and her post about the fact that the FTC are trying to decide whether or not to LOWER decency standards.Check out her post here.

You can go here to find out how you can take action against television indecency.

 "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)

©2011-2013 Chickensbunniesandhomeschool. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author

Random 5 Friday

Last week I found it very hard to write five random things. I am hoping that it will be easier this week. I have found myself thinking about it all week.

1. I am a self confessed over protective Mom. After losing my oldest daughter some say it is not surprising. I often call my sister for advice to find out if I am being over-protective or just being a normal protective Mom.

2. I don't do well with gray skies...they make me sad.

3. We are having our Easter egg hunt tomorrow. We waited for Grandma and Grandpa to come home.

4. I am fortunate to be able to work from home.


Check out other people's random five here.

©2011-2013 Chickensbunniesandhomeschool. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Leadership Garden Legacy - Review

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When the opportunity came up to review Leadership Garden Legacy I was quite excited. 

Leadership is a skill that is very important to our family. During our lives my husband and I have had a lot of experience being leaders and also being led by others. Some people seem to develop this skill naturally, some work on it and achieve it, and some I am afraid never seem to be able to gain the skills to lead people effectively.

We received a selection of items to help us use this program.

The following products are for children 5-12.

U.N.I.Q.U.E Kids: Growing My Leadership book 
priced at $18.95

UNIQUE Kids book photo leadership-uniquekidsbook_zps3822722c.jpg

U.N.I.Q.U.E Kids MP3 Audiobook Download
priced at $8.95

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U.N.I.Q.U.E Kinds Activity Guide Journal download
priced at $8.95

UNIQUE Kids Activity book photo leadership-kids-activity-guide_zps54f3f800.jpg

These products are suitable for high school students or adults.

UNIQUE Grow the Leader Within book
priced at $18.95
 U.N.I.Q.U.E.: Growing the Leader Within - paperback
UNIQUE Grow the Leader Within Book Mp3 Download
priced at $14.95

 U.N.I.Q.U.E.: Growing the Leader Within - Audio Book MP3 Download

The Leadership Garden Guidebook
priced at $18.95

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These products can also be bought at a discount by purchasing Tool Kit bundles.

 Leadership Garden Legacy is offering the TOS Community a “Spring Special Discount” of 20% on all our Empowerment Tools. This is in addition to our already discounted Tool Kit bundle

The first thing that I had to do was download all of the Mp3 files for the book UNIQUE Kids Growing My leadership Garden. The very next day we were heading out on a field trip to the zoo. It's a hour each way so I thought it would be a good idea to listen the audio version of the book. My daughter Boo (10 years) was sat in the front next too me and she had asked if she could take the book with us as well so she could follow along.

From the website ' We created the fable of the lost sheep, Hugh, to convey the eight principles and practices for thriving leadership and the Leadership Garden Legacy vision.'

In the story the main character Hugh turns up in a garden and meets a gardener named Leda. She tells him about the leadership garden and talks to him about courage. Eventually after a long conversation Hugh ends up going on a tour of this garden. His tour is given by a Border collie named Annabelle who is the tour guide she takes Hugh to meet the other animals and learn the U.N.I.Q.U.E (Understanding, Nurthuring, Intentive, Quality, Unstoppable, Expression).

These are the areas visited with the descriptions from The Leadership Garden Legacy website.

  • Understanding Field to learn how to balance and blend your four leader behaviors (visualize, organize, harmonize, and energize) and the survival and thriving behavioral tendencies of each
  • Nurturing Meadow to learn the six leader-friendly gardening practices of being nonjudgmental, not enabling harmful behaviors, the power of empathy, and the importance of pruning gossip, eliminating blame, and eradicating victimization
  • Inventive Roost to formulate your unique purpose and aim
  • Quality Yard to learn the attributes necessary for thriving leadership
  • Unstoppable Pasture to remove the barriers to your goals and dreams and what it takes to commit to a thriving future
  • Expression Pen to learn the art of communication and give voice to your leadership greatness within

The only problem we encountered while listening to the MP3 was that there was no real breaks in the material. So when I paused the MP3 to discuss the questions at the end of each chapter it was easy to lose our place. In the end every time we stopped to discuss anything my daughter would look at the time count on the MP3 so we could find it again she wrote this in pencil in our book so as we reviewed the material later it was easier to find each chapter break.

My children are 4, 10, and 12 they fit perfectly into the age range for this book however my children didn't really like it. The Lexile Measure for the book when a child reads alone is 680L.
My twelve year old thought it was too young for him. When I suggested he may want to read it he just said "No, thanks". My 10 year old is a little more compliant and was willing to listen and discuss the book with me. After when I asked her opinion about the book she told me that she thought is was very babyish. To be honest the book wasn't what I expected and I don't agree with some of the concepts from the book.

"On the farm we don't believe in bad people or animals. All people and animals are programmed by nature to survive."

Although I agree that there is a food chain and animals have to kill and eat other animals. I don't agree that you can use this same description for humans, I think that sometimes people are bad and commit sin and make mistakes. I don't agree that we are programmed to do bad things by nature to survive.

However I did agree with others for example...

"Prune Gossip - Saying unkind things about someone when they are not around hurts both your Leadership Gardens. You also lose your personal power and trust with others"

I do agree that gossip of any kind is harmful to us and the person we are gossiping about.

As a family we did have some good discussions about the concepts in the book and we worked through some of the workbook printable worksheets. They led to discussions of why we agreed with a principal (like gossip) or disagreed with based on our religious understanding.

I read the adult book UNIQUE Growing the Leader Within in one evening. To be honest I wasn't sure what I was supposed to learn from the content. The author Debra J Slover talked about some bad situations that she has experienced in her life. She talks about how she personally overcame them and refers to the story about Hugh the Lamb throughout the book, comparing each situation with a area in the garden.

I didn't really feel that I learned anything to help me become a better leader. I felt like I was reading someone's life story rather than a self help book. There were a lot of concepts that I didn't really sit well with me. I found myself thinking 'hum... no I don't agree with that."

Unfortunately this series was not a good fit for our family.

Check out how others used this material here or click the link below.


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©2011-2013 Chickensbunniesandhomeschool. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

D is for Determination and Dedication

Since I have started this linky of blogging through the alphabet I end up thinking about the next letter all week. This week I was still hadn't thought of anything I wanted to write about until Saturday afternoon. Little J has a 'Superhero' 25 piece puzzle that he got for Christmas. We have worked on it together quite often however he has never completed it on his own.
Anyway Saturday he decided that he wanted to complete it all by himself. This was quite an experience to watch. When he first started he was VERY grumpy. He couldn't figure out how the pieces stayed together. mainly because he wanted to pick it up and show me whenever he attached any pieces. Finally I told him if he wanted to complete the puzzle he would have to keep his temper, not get grumpy and relax. I told him that if he wanted me to see how he was progressing he just needed to ask and I would come and look. After that he calmed down and said that he wanted it to be a surprise and he would tell me when he was done.
So I waited... OK so I am not very patient, I went over once to have a look how he was doing. He was SO busy and engrossed he didn't even see me. I snapped a quick picture and left.

Two and a half hours later...yes you read that right. Two and a half hours later he called me over and...

He was SO proud of himself and I was proud of his determination and dedication. He now wants MORE puzzles.

Blogging Through the Alphabet

©2011-2013 Chickensbunniesandhomeschool. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Ultimate Blog Party #UBP13


This is my first time participating in this blog party so I am kind of nervous... You know the walk into a room and not knowing any one kind.

I am originally from England and have lived in the States for the last 14 years. My husband is also from England and so although out children were all born here.
They still have some strange British quirks, eat British food, and pronounce things in different ways - yes my boys are cowboy boot wearing Americans through and through. The hats normally only come out for Halloween though.

We starting homeschooling about two years ago when Jam was starting 5th grade and Boo 3rd. We love it. At the time we had chickens and bunnies - however we recently gave them to a friend who has a farm since we are trying to relocate closer to my husbands work. (He commutes an hour each way.) So my blog name makes me chuckle it should now be Homeschool but NO chickens and bunnies.

I am excited to meet new friends. Leave me a comment to say Hi.

To learn more about me check out my Random 5 Friday post.

You can find me on;

©2011-2013 Chickensbunniesandhomeschool. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author

Math Essentials - Math Refresher for Adults {TOS REVIEW}

Anyone who knows me knows that math is not my favorite subject! Any math questions from high school definitely get directed to my math-l...