Showing posts with label Games. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Games. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

TOS Crew Review: Wits and Wagers Family Game

How many meeples or maybe sheeples, can you stuff all together in the local steeples? I don't know exactly, but I do know that when you play the Wits and Wagers Family Game, you can select your color meeples and place them where you think you'll get the most points-to hopefully win the game.  What are "meeples" you ask?  Little, painted wood-shaped peeples meant to be your game pieces.

In the Wits and Wagers Family Game,  players choose the wipe off board of their choice (6 colors) and their matching meeples, grab a dry-erase marker (provided) and select one person to play the role of Richard Dawson. Then once the question is asked (regardless if you know it-just guess an answer), the players line their number response in order from lowest to highest. After pondering the options (unless you know for sure), everyone puts their meeples on the card(s) they think is correct, or closest to it.  The answer is given, and points are awarded for those who (1) wrote the correct number, and/or (2) have their meeples [a big one worth 2 pts, and the little one worth 1 pt.] on the closest to, or on the actual answer [but not over]. The first to reach 15 points, wins!  It's that easy.

We enjoyed playing this over and over again. The pace is quick, the questions (and remember you don't need to know the answer, just how to guess) are interesting, and the extra info about the object in question is enlightening [you can read a little ditty regarding that subject after the answer].  We found we were done within the 20 min. range.  After a bit it became mundane due to it becoming "familiar" [read question, guess, answer and get points] so we simply would play a game or two, then come back to play again another day.  This fits perfectly into our lives, because we don't usually have time for the more in depth games we own.

This quick overview bubble is an awesome thing here peeples.  All you need to do is glance at this listing, to see exactly what you are up against. This is especially helpful if you are knee-deep into a project when your precious chillins ask you to play the game. You ponder your options: you know you are on a roll, but you also know these moments with your children are fleeting; so you consider the deadlines, and the projects-all the while you gaze into their sweet faces. It is then that the sweat droplets start to bead across your forehead, and your lips become drier than the Sahara desert-your mind starts racing for reasons not to lose half a day on a game that is complicated or never ending. Then it hits you-you can do this! It isn't some 5 hour game that drags on and on, seemingly forever! No, the little info tag says 20 mins-you can do that [and I would say that is more than generous enough].  You begin to feel a sigh of relief well up in your body, and with a twinkle in your eye-you glance down and smile.  "Sure!" you reply. Twenty minutes later [maybe even less] your children are satisfied, and you have spent some worthwhile time with your youngsters. More importantly-you realize you need to brush up on your Hannah Montana and other pop culture info tidbits, so those young ones don't blow you out of the water next time around.  Ah no-North Star Games didn't put this little strip of knowledge there to mimic cereal companies [in their attempt to clarify their ingredients] or to look all meepley-correct. Nope, they did this to relieve parents of their "deer in the headlights" look that inevitably sneaks up on every one of us modern day, busy folks.

Once you whet your appetite with the Wits and Wagers Family Game, you can dip your toes into one of their other fine products. We're considering the Say Anything game, as it looks engaging and fun as well.   I think their tagline "Games with Personality", definitely sums up their product line.

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North Star Games homepage
The retail price is $19.99-but you can usually find it a bit less at your local stores.  Their Games homepage  will link you to Target.
Ages 8 and up

Let it be noted here: if you are sternly against, or your religious convictions deem anything (even remotely) related to gambling-this may not be for you.  There isn't any money exchanging, or betting per say-but one does decide who they will trust answered correctly, then place their meeples on their guess.  We personally, did not find it  bothersome; and  felt the relationship to gambling was vague at best. 

*Don't forget to visit our TOS Crew Review Homepage to read about this,  and many other fine homeschool products. To read the specific reviews on the game, head

**North Star Games provided me with a free Wits and Wagers Family Game; so that the peeples in my family could test our knowledge, and enjoy the meeplesness of this fun game. I did not receive any financial compensation for my honest opinion, and review of this game.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

TOS Crew Review: Super Star Speech Homeschool

So your sweet darling is starting to sound like a Cindy Brady, Elmer Fudd or Tweety Bird-and well, it is sort of cute say when they are 2, maybe 3-but it won't be cute when they are 10 or 25.  So what is a concerned parent to do?  What are normal speech patterns for young children, and what are considered true articulation issues?  What kind of expense is involved when you have your child work one-on-one with a speech therapist? Well, what if you were able to work with your child right in your own home, and do it for under $25?  Deborah Lott, has created a most useful program to assist you with just that.  Now since my youngest is a few months shy of 9, and speaks rather clearly-we did not review this product. But many of my fellow mates did.  So be sure to head over to our TOS Crew Homepage to see what they have to say about the Super Star Speech Therapy materials.    

What we did get to review was 3 of the Homeschool Games.  I found them to a be easy to download, print and assemble-which is always most helpful to a busy mom, like me.  I have a mini-ditty next to each game, along with how I store/assembled them to suit our workbox needs.  Each game is only $3.50-so these get a piggy bank for their budget friendly cost.

grades K-5

The All About Animals game is my son's favorite at this point.  You have two options-just placing the picture cards on the correct classification or reading the questions then deciding which area the critter fits. The winner is the one who fills their fish, reptile, amphibian, bird and mammal spots. I made my son put all the cards on his game board, since he was the lone player-helped cement the type of animals that went into each section. This is a fun way to reinforce your animal studies, and an easy, fun addition to one's workboxes.    

ages 6-10

Covering the Continents is interesting and fun.  I teamed up with my son to be the giraffes (erasers) and my daughter and the cat were the tiger team.  We decided erasers would work better than the strips of paper that are included (to be cut) in the game set.  Basically one asks the fellow next to them a question and they decide what continent it is describing.  To win, one must have the majority of the 5 tokens allowed to claim it.  Now with 2 teams (don't need to be in teams-but since my son is a beginning reader-it just made sense) there was a minor problem.  As it turned out, each team had 3 that they owned, and we were only asking questions that would fit the continents that were left (after all, why ask a question on a place that was already claimed?)  so what do we do with the 7th-it would be obvious which one we meant [and we each had 2 erasers on it]? So to be fair, we decided to just flip a coin to get our winner.  That was the only snafu we came across, well that and the fact that the Middle Eastern countries are a color of their own, when they should be blue since they part of Asia.  I found it to be my favorite of the 3. 

grades 3 and up (I mean up to adults here! LOL)

The Planets, Moon and Stars! game is more challenging than the others we tried.  Mainly because we are still working our way through the study of the solar system, so some facts are new to us [well, I kind of remember them but it has been 4 years since I taught this material]~so again, this one is going in the workboxes several times during our lessons, as another great way to reinforce what we are learning.  Basically, one answers a question, and if correct, they draw a planet/sun card out of the pile.  The one who completes their solar system first, is the winner.  I even tested the young adults in the house, and had a blast giggling at them trying to answer the questions. It proved that a little refresher on such things is always a good thing.  

Idea for the storage of the games:

I packaged them in large envelopes.  Taped over the sticky seal (so a child with a sense of humor didn't lick it shut) and laminated the game boards (the game cards will soon follow once I get some more sheets), then baggied the cards up. A heads up here: I had to glue construction paper to the backs of the cards first, to prevent the wording from showing through (I ran them off on white card stock-so maybe colored paper won't?) then cut them out.  

If one is looking for a fairly inexpensive way to add some games into their children's lessons, this is a great option. And there are several more to choose from.  Of course, there is the ink issue-but by printing most of the cards in gray scale, which doesn't "ruin" the presentation, eased the cost issue.  My family enjoyed testing these out, and I am glad to have had the opportunity to do so.

outside of the initial printing, cutting out, and packaging of it

Non-readers or new readers will need some assistance

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Super Star Speech Homepage
and Debbie is offering a 20% discount if you order directly from her site, until June 30, 2010.  Put in the code: TOS. **note that this does not apply to the games because they are not available thru her site.

Homeschool Games page- $3.50 each

 Head to CurrClick  to download the games.  I see they currently have several on sale, including the Super Star Speech Therapy materials

Don't forget to read up on what my TOS mates had to say about this and many other fine homeschooling products on our TOS Review Crew Homepage.

***Super Star Speech provided me with a free download each of the All About Animals, Covering the Continents and the Planets, Moon and Stars games, to test out and enjoy with my family.  I did not receive financial compensation for providing you with my honest review.

Monday, November 9, 2009

TOS Crew Review: Life on the Farm Game

The lonely song made by the slowly rotating blades from the rusty windmill, the clean sheets billowing and flickering to and fro, and the amber waves of grain swaying in a rhythmic motion, as the wind ripples across the vast fields.  Off in the distance a tractor is heard making its way toward the dusty road, that gently winds its way toward the white-washed farmhouse gracing the rolling hill, west of the barn.  The sweet scent of a freshly baked pie waifs through the air to tantalize anyone downwind of it, as several flies try to squeeze under the tea cloth that is strategically placed over its top.  A screen door slaps shut, a shout goes up as a woman flaps her arms like a bird about to take flight. A head pops up, a startled moo-sound echos forth, as the woman makes her way toward the vegetable garden to shoo off the escaped bovine, better known as "Ole Bess".  The woman shouts threats of "first to be on the auction block" and "nice steak dinners", as the cow makes a dainty, and somewhat graceful exit, toward the broken gate from whence she came. 

This is how I picture my farm to be-without the foul "cow pie" smells to defile my idealistic day dream.  I actually like the idea of a farm, but not necessarily the work of one-nor the expense.  But my want-to-be farmer boy, Buddy-longs for the wide open spaces, and the possible critters he could raise.  So what is a good compromise for this suburban-folk family? Why a game about farming that highlights its ups and downs (without all the stink and clean-up duties), of course.  We were absolutely thrilled to be able to receive the Life on the Farm game by We R Fun.  After the initial "ripfest" of the outer plastic wrap had ended, we opened the package like it were Christmas morning-all struggling to see if we could get a look-see of the goodies contained within. Right away, I was impressed with the quality of the game board, and the game components.  The sight of farm animals on the play money is a nice touch to boot.  After a quick run through of the not-so-complicated rules, we set out to see who is the best farmer in our family.

We quickly realized there is a lot that goes into maintaining a dairy farm.  Auctions must take place, extra hands need to be hired, fences need to be repaired (usually due to careless, trespassing hunters), and farm equipment needs maintenance too. Then you must deal with swamps that entrap, or hunters (pesky varmints that they are) who mistakenly shoot your live stock (hmm-I have never seen a black and white deer, we'll have to contact the sheriffs department next time that happens), or runaway cows that become road kill (sad but true)-and all within a single round of the game!  Thank goodness for milk checks, because after all those expenses, you will need to pad your wallet again.

The basic gist of the game is to be the first to own a herd of 60 cows, while your bank account consists of at least the same amount of cash you had when you started the game.  The normal "retirement plan" may take some time to accomplish; so there is the option of  playing the shorter version, where you start with more money and cows.  Either way, it is a "moo-tastic" way to spend some quality time with your family.  We all agree that the Life on the Farm is one of our favorite board games to play!

Now to think of a way to commandeer some Old Dutch Potato Chips and some Shasta pop, since my folks won't be heading to visit the relatives in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, any time soon. If you have never heard of those products-then I guess you're not from Minnesota (the inventors of the game happen to be "Minnesotans") or a neighbor to one. Those are mighty fine snacking goodies that will simply add to your game playing enjoyment. Perhaps the fine folks at We R Fun will consider offering "MN snack packages" (hint, hint) to compliment their product line. One can always hope.

Oh, and with Christmas just around the corner (I know-hit panic button NOW), this would make a fantastic gift.  Kmart has it available at their online store front for five bucks off the reg. price too.  Be sure to check that out.  Otherwise, you can purchase it through We R Fun.

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We R Fun Homepage

Life on the Farm Game: $25, ages 8-108

They have a pre-school (I would say a 7 year old would enjoy this) version also-and I know many of my TOS mates were given this game to review-so be sure to see what they have to say about this, and many other fine homeschool products. Visit our TOS Review Crew Homepage for more information.

***We R Fun provided me with a free Life on the Farm Game, in order to use and test it with my family, so that I could write this review.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

TOS Crew Review: Hank the Cowdog Series, Tornado Game and Tales and Tunes from Hank the Cowdog CD

What do you get when you take a smelly, crusty, and somewhat over-confident pooch, and place him as the head of Ranch Security? Why Hank the Cowdog of course. Toss in a loyal but hypochondriac of a side-kick (Drover), a few arch enemies (such as the clever and somewhat persnickety, Pete the Barncat), with a host of daily misunderstandings, which seem to snowball into memorable events-and you've got yourself a whole series worth of Cowdog adventures. And let us not forget the fact, that Hank (who has also assumed the role of the Private Eye too) is always on the prowl to solve any mysterious cases, which just seem to arrive uninvited-more often than not.

Nestled in the vast landscape of the Texas panhandle, Hank manages to find himself caught up in situations, that are somewhat hilarious at times, while protecting the integrity, and safety of the ranch he calls home. Now let it be said, Hank is a Cowdog-and Cowdogs have been known to speak Cowdogese. Therefore, one can find sprinkled about the pages, ill-spoken, unkind words that would cause most folks to grab a bar of soap, and start washing the guilty party's mouth out. And Hank isn't alone-seems the ranch hand, and the owners themselves, need to partake in a good old-fashioned, Bible thumping, revival meeting (or two), as well. We found ourselves squirming a bit from time to time, due to Hank's, or some other rowdy character's uncouth behavior. This series definitely provides a gold mine of material for any preacher's Sunday "Example Family" sermons. One could quote more Bible verses than a porcupine has quills (and yes, Hank has a run in with one of those too) to highlight why this behavior is not proper, nor acceptable in the Lord's eyes. Thankfully, these occur in staggered episodes, making them not too terribly overwhelming, in most of the stories we have read.

For those with younger children, the reader could easily slip in a more suitable word or two; or simply skip it all together. Usually, with older children you find that they can discern the inappropriateness regarding such antics. With a bit of impromptu character studies, you should be able to bypass having any of this permanently morph into your child's personality. We personally found these situations to be minor. The various other books we've read: Drover's Secret Life (#53), The Case of the Swirling Killer Tornado (#25), and Slim's Goodbye (#34) all seemed somewhat tamer than The One-Eyed Killer Horse Stud, we received to review. The Original Adventure of Hank the Cowdog (this is the first book, and since it was written more for an adult audience-it is by far grittier than the rest) gives you a great back story on Hank-and is worth reading. With a bit of preliminary leg work on your part; you can find many Hank stories (and there are 54 to choose from) which best suit your family. This series certainly qualifies for "fun reading", that we can work into our schedule of historical, scientific, and non-fiction readers, which we usually cover during the year. My son has enjoyed the shenanigans of Hank and his pals, and frankly I have too.

With the eighth book in this series, "The Case of the One-Eyed Killer Horse Stud", Hank and Drover find themselves in the midst of an uninvited guest at the ranch. Seems the local gotch-eyed horse named Tuerto isn't well versed in the saying, "Fences makes greats neighbors." No sir. And he also packs an attitude of high-handed (and according to Hank, he has 16 of 'em) snootiness . Armed with a drawl that mimics a Mexican Conquistador's well-bred stallion, which ole Tuerto most certainly is not; and some wild, dog-crushing guns for hind legs, he quickly becomes Hank's worst nightmare. What's more, Hank's day spews forth a valuable lesson regarding bacon grease and toast, the dangers of tangoing with Sally May, the demands of micro-managing his partner Drover, an opportunity to be all dolled up, and the exposure to a soft-handed, blue-eyed gal, Hank would lasso the moon for. After reading the story, we were left a bit bewildered about who this Hank was, or what exactly made him tick-and whether he had ticks too! We decided that Mr. Erickson (the author) had some "major 'splaining" to do. So we requested the first book (along with a few others) from the library. It gave us a much better picture of who this Cowdog is, and it set the tone for the series for us. As mentioned earlier, we did enjoy some of the other stories more than this particular one. But it did introduce us to the complicated, yet old softy of a Cowdog, Hank-and that certainly deserves a couple hats a-waving, and boisterous whooping it ups from this clan.

Now as far as games go, this puppy is quite the clever one. It comes ingeniously designed to hold all the pieces inside of its folded self. Come game time, we simply open it up to a full size, place the spinner in the center area, and put the little Hanks, Drovers and Buzzards into their positions-before taking a whirl around the board. I was very excited to see this one, because as a workbox fan (and if you are wondering what a workbox is, see my blog What's in the Box? for more information), I knew instantly that this would not only fit into the box nicely, but looked to be rather entertaining as well. My son and I decided to do a run through first, to get things tweaked out before playing an official game. To add to the excitement of twirling around tornado alley, we found it kind of fun (in a nice way) to land on, and then send our opponents back home. Now, because one can quickly pass their finish spot, due to being thrown forward by the tornado; or end up being sent home frequently (again in a loving, competitive way)- the game can become rather long in the tooth. To rectify that, we predetermined how long we would devote to play time, and stuck to it. On a few occasions, we didn't even need to worry about that, because one of us was able to get our characters home rather quickly, naturally making it a short game.

The timing for receiving this could not have been more perfect, as we are to begin studying the weather (particularly twisters). This will definitely be added to our unit activities, as a learning tie-in. And what do you know? The Tornado game is based on one of Hank and Drover's experiences, found in book, The Case of the Swirling Killer Tornado. After listening to the tape (provided with the game) that highlights sections of the case, we knew we had to get it in order to learn about the rest of the story. This little gem has quickly become a favorite game round these here parts.

Lastly, the Tales and Tunes from Hank the Cowdow CD offers up snippets of adventures of Hank and his pals, with sprinkles of songs sung by the various characters on the ranch. At first, I was a bit reluctant about listening to this-I wasn't sure what to expect. After doing so, I was pleasantly surprised to see it wasn't too shabby -or should I say "shaggy"? The excerpts provided just enough enticement to fester the desire to get a hold of the highlighted stories, so we could find out what happens next. The songs were far from corny too. All though, we preferred some over others-like the Thank You Lord for Making Gals and I'm Rich, it was a huge relief to this family to not have to suffer through some cheesy songfest of a CD-if you have read my reviews regarding anything musical, you would understand this statement. We have some pretty strong opinions on the matter-and usually avoid such things like the plague. Additionally, it is neat to hear the songs actually being sung-since it is very easy to read those incorrectly, from the way they are to be sung. I am planning on adding The Tales and Tunes from Hank the Cowdog CD (with a CD player, and a timer) into our workboxes, as an additional fun activity to break up my son's regular studies, too. More importantly (especially to this momma), he was intrigued enough to sit through it, and listen quietly. Which doesn't happen all too often. That gets a big high five from me. And for the money, it is a non-spency addition to anyone's collection of Hank goodies.

**The author, Mr. Erikson, has also written several Non-Fiction stories which may "trip your trigger", and he (currently) has penned two stories for those reading at the Young Adult level, in your family.

and for non-readers
**The author is Christian, but due to the various situations noted above, this series actually reflects a more Worldly view-hence the world icon instead.

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Hank the Cowdog's Homepage. Look for the section of games and puzzles for kids, along with the tour of the ranch page. This is a fun site to explore.

The Case of the One-Eyed Killer Stud Horse, Book #8 PB: $4.24 HB: $12.49 (on author's site)

Tornado Game $12.99, 2-4 players, ages 5 years and up

Tales and Tunes from Hank the Cowdog CD $3.00

Don't forget to read my TOS Mates' opinions on this and many fine educational products at our TOS Homeschool Review Crew Homepage.

**Maverick Books rovided me with the free copy each of Hank the Cowdog: The Case of the One-Eyed Killer Horse Stud book, the Tornado Game and Tales and Tunes from Hank the Cowdog CD, in order to test and use it with my family, so I could write this review.