Friday, April 27, 2012

Review of Lab in a Bag - Test Tube Discoveries

Review of Lab in a Bag – Test Tube Discoveries

I bought this kit at a hobby store for a fun and educational Sunday
afternoon activity with my 3rd grade son.  He will be learning about
matter in the upcoming science unit in science at school. I wanted
to find something related to matter and its properties give him some
prior knowledge upon which to build new knowledge!

My son was super excited about the prospect of using the 
big test tubes to do “real” experiments. 

Unfortunately, only one experiment actually utilized the
test tube, the others requiring cups and bowls from home.
I found this to be misleading. 
There is a paper included in the set with a long list of 
“uses for your test tubes”
such as collect things on a nature walk,
which made me think I had just wasted my $17.00.

My little guy was disappointed when he opened each test tube 
and found merely a roll of paper and one small bag with 
one ingredient.
 And disappointed again when we found that our kit did not contain 
the blue measuring scoop required
to make the Gravity Goo. 
(We winged it and it turned out fine, 
but we used it all up on the first try).

This kit requires supplies from home, mainly 
water, oil, and food coloring.
I think that this should be clearly stated on the 
outside of the kit so that you can
make sure to have what you need BEFORE 
you open it up and find that you have to
run to the store for food coloring.

After reading each experiment my son chose to do the “lava lamp”
because he could actually make it in the test tube.
It was SO COOL that his disenchantment quickly turned to smiles
and wide eyed shouts of excitement!
It really was awesome. 

Now he wanted to do the other experiments right away.

We spent the next few hours preparing them, waiting, 
hypothesizing and investigating. 
I personally was a little bummed that two 
of the experiments were basically the same thing; 
a polymer that grew from absorbing water,
 but my son didn’t care at all and 
the next morning he had even more amazing ideas and 
comparisons and thoughts 
about his

He put the final products in his test tubes and 
set them up to look really cool.
He did some of the alternative “experiments” 
suggested in the kit 
and loved it.
He did his own experiments and loved it. 

For example, he put dish soap in his goo and it
turned into a foamy, bubbly Awesome substance. 
He enjoyed fooling his family with the
disappearing ice cubes. 
And he can’t WAIT to use the other test tubes to make
another lava lamp.

(we did these a couple of weeks later)

He will be playing with this for a long time.
(He has been)

 Best of all, he is having important experiences from which to 
build more knowledge about science, 
explore the possibilities of matter,
and cultivate a continued passion for science. 

This kit kept him engaged and allowed him the opportunity to
go beyond the limits of the kit to do more on his own.

I would definitely recommend this science kit for your child.

He is having too much fun and doesnt want to go to bed!

The kit is designed to be used in conjunction with a 
scientific journal 
and it guides parents/children through 
the scientific process. 

The experiments have writing and drawing prompts your child
to make specific observations and record data along the way. 

These are perfect for a home school situation because 
they can be stretched out over days with 
additional activities for each. 
There are even alternative activities where the
separate experiments 
can be combined to learn more about how they
 interact with each other.

pH indicator strips to find bases and acids

My son is so excited to use the test tubes to gather specimens 
on a nature walk 
and learn more about his world. 
And with that I am off to the park with my scientist!

*I didn’t want to put too many pictures in this post to give away the 
experiments but I did want to show you what it is all about.*

He woke up very early the next morning to experiment. 

My son’s Review:
“I thought the kit was cheesy when I opened it because 
all the test tubes pretty much had in it was the directions.
 I wanted to take it back but I decided to do it anyway. 
The first on we tried was the lava lamp and it actually
 looks exactly like a real lava lamp in my test tube. 
I learned that water is heavier, which means more dense than 
vegetable oil which I never would have thought. 
Next we used the garbled marble and it was extremely fun 
because they look really fuzzy in water, 
but are pure round when you take them out!
Plus I only used a little bit of them in the sack 
and it made a ton of them! 
Now that I have done all of the experiments I want 
to go get all the other sets! 
Science is really fun and you should try it too. 
It is as fun as playing legos, just different. 
I am going to the park to get samples of the water
 and leaves and grass and rocks and put them in my test tubes 
to examine them. 
Sometimes I felt cool, like a mad scientist doing the experiments, 
but I am really more like a real, actual scientist.” 

*I was not compensated in any way for this review. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

TRICKOMATICS Math Movie & Interactive Software Review & Giveaway (ends 4/27)


I was REALLY hoping that I would get the opportunity to
 review this program!

(and I did - yay!)

I love to evaluate curriculum and programs for education. 

This one I am happy to say gets an old fashioned A+

Trickomaticks comes with a cd Movie that should be watched before
playing the games because it gets your child invested in the 
characters and gives a preliminary introduction
to the main "tricks" included in the game cd. 

My son and I watched the movie together. 
My son is a bit of a Pre-teen Cartoon connoisseur 
so I was comfortable with the fact that he wouldn't "love" the movie,
but he actually DID like it and watched it twice!


I had played them ahead of time so that I would know how to navigate
the game and the individual problems before sharing it with my son.

The one thing I got stuck on was in popping the balloons and getting the clues.
There are boxes that show up in steps to solve the problems.
You are to enter values (answers) in the boxes.

So for example, this picture has two empty boxes. I would enter both 
the answers in the available boxes but the game would not recognize 
that I had done anything. 
I finally realized that you must do each box/each step
one at a time and hit enter rather than fill in both/all at the same time.
This makes perfect sense so that you learn the steps in the process.
So when you pop a balloon for a hint, enter the answer in the first box,
hit "enter" to check your answer, 
then move to the next and so the same. 

So, After watching the movie a second time, I opened up the game.

I had him pick his own choices, play/solve a few and then pick another.

They are not "games". 
They are problems and learning how to solve them.
It is a teaching tool, not like playing a traditional video game. 
BUT, it was still fun and  interesting for my son.

 He was having to re-learn 
how to solve problems with the new, easier strategies so there was 
a level of normal math frustration (a good thing).
Once he got the hang of the new "tricks" he was almost speechless about how 
simple solving difficult, multi-step problems with big numbers could be.

The tricks are not something that you can just teach a child and be done with it.
This program is valuable because it keeps skills sharp 
and lets kids practice the 
strategies until they are fluent and fast.

Lastly, I LOVE that the game keeps track of the statistics
of your child's progress in the program
so you can monitor and adjust the individual learning process 
specifically for each child! 

This game comes with a recommendation of ages 7 - 11 but CLEARLY
these strategies are Amazing and Beneficial
and should be shared with children 7 through adult. 
I will be sharing this with my teens because I sincerely learned some 
valuable math skills from this program that will be helpful to him in 
High school, Formal testing, College and Real Life!

Get your free trail today and you will be as excited as I am about 
learning easy tricks to solve difficult math. 

My Son's Review:
"I loved the video. It was interesting and just from the video I learned a bunch of 
different math tricks.The animation is really good. The smartest characters are Chloe and Joey.
Shmoey could only focus on eating! He is like me. 
I think that this would be good for first and second graders for sure because that is when 
you learn place value, but I am going to be in fourth grade and I learned new tricks to 
make math easier. The tricks make it easy and on the game when you get the hints it makes 
it look like the pre-algebra we do at school. 
The eleven's trick confused me at first but then once I learned it,  I think it is like a real trick! 
I think that it is worth it to get Trickomatics to be better and faster at math,
 and kids would like it."

There are LOTS of Chances 
for you to enter and win through facebook and twitter!

Good Luck my Friends! 

Just Click "read more" to go to the rafflecopter form.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Read Conmigo - Free Books to Enriching the Learning In Bilingual Households

Read Conmigo 

is a website with a mission . . . 

"to enrich the learning environment in bilingual households 
one family at a time"

Sponsored by Infinity Insurance, 

is a parent focused literacy program that provides FREE Books 
for parents to support literacy and learning in their own homes
by reading in both English and Spanish!

Teachers get a one time set of 20 books to distribute to their class.

Parents can sign up for a free book every month 
to share with their children.

If you or someone you know could benefit 
from this program please share.

Click HERE to go to the site and check it out.

The web page can be viewed in English or Spanish 
by clicking the top, right corner.