Monday, September 30, 2013

Tuesday's Giveaway Link Up- October 1, 2013

Tots and Me
Welcome to Tuesday's Giveaway Link Up with your hosts Karen @ Tots and Me and Emily @ Emily Reviews

So glad you could join us as we share our giveaways on  Tuesday's Giveaway Link Ups. 

Our co-hosts this week are Ashley from Forgetful Momma and Mellissa from Something Like Life.

This link up will be posted Monday at 7 PM est. and run all week long! Make sure you stop in as often as you can to list your latest giveaways.

Here is how to use the Giveaway Link Up

1. Post your reviews and/or giveaways, as many as you have, be sure to add the end date (family friendly please)

2. Help spread the word about the giveaway link up by grabbing our button, Tweeting or posting on Facebook. (Not mandatory- but it helps get more exposure to your giveaways as well!)

3. Take a moment to enter any giveaway that strikes an interest to you!

If you would  like to follow the  hostesses, we will gladly follow you back! Simply leave us a message to do so.
Featured Giveaways

Colors For Zena by Monica Wellington US only Ends 10/5

$50 Cabo Dog Boutique Gift Card US only Ends 10/3

Prescription Eyeglasses from Eyeglass Factory Outlet Ends 10/3

Tropical Traditions Coconut Oil (32 oz) Ends 10/22

Thank you for linking up with Karen @ Tots and Me & Emily @ Emily Reviews along with Ashley from Forgetful Momma and Mellissa from Something Like Life.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Lovin' the Weekend Blog Hops: September 27-29, 2013

Welcome to Lovin' The Weekend Blog Hops with your co-hosts:
Karen from Tots and Me, Rena from An Ordinary Housewife and Angie from Snack Cups and Smiles.

Thank you to every one who has stopped by, whether this is your first visit or you have been a faithful ongoing participant! 

We would love for you to stop by each of the co-hosts and follow us, then feel free to add your links to any or all of the following linkies.

 We also randomly choose a Featured host each week from the Lovin' The Readers linky. This week we are featuring Rhiannon from Life and Times of Mummy Morkus.

Here's what she has to say:
"Hello I am Mummy Morkus and I have been blogging since late August 2013 when my little girl was nearly 2 months old. I started blogging because I wanted to share my story and record my journey in motherhood during my year on maternity leave.

I live in SE London with my husband, two cats and obviously now L. She is a delight! She makes me smile everyday. It has been a bit of a bumpy start to motherhood as I am sure lots of mums find but we seem now to be finding our feet and getting into the swing of it.

I like to bake and photograph as well as spending far too long on my phone tweeting and instagramming. We have just brought our first home so I am excited to start building a home for us. No doubt this will feature on Life and Times in the coming months.

I am a primary school teacher by trade and work with the youngest in the school in Reception classes. I love this role and find it a great creative outlet as well as entertaining! Children this age are eager to learn and explore and have few hang ups so are totally out there!"

Don't forget to link up to the Lovin' the Readers Hop if you would like a chance to be a Featured host next week. Please comment with a way to contact you, especially if there is not an obvious way mentioned on your blog. We would love to include a little write up about you and your blog in the next week's Lovin' The Weekend Blog Hop post, including a link to your blog. And you will get to include the linky codes on your blog. Sound fun? We're looking forward to getting to know our readers better.

Here's how this blog hop works. We would appreciate it if you would follow Tots and Me, An Ordinary Housewife and Snack Cups and Smiles. And please don't forget to visit our Featured Host. If you no longer have GFC please follow in some other way. After that there are three different linkies you can link to. Whichever one you choose to link to, please grab that button and share it on your blog (the codes are on Tot's and Me's sidebar). We'd love it if you could tweet or in some other way share about this blog hop, the more people who know about it, the more potential visitors and new followers of your blog. We'd love to meet some new friends this weekend.  

Some people are more interested in just increasing their numbers, while others really want people who appreciate their blog and want to keep up with their posts. So, there are two separate blog hop linkies. 

The third linky is for you to link up your giveaways.

If you are interested in increasing the number of followers to your blog via GFC, Linky Followers, email, Twitter, Facebook or Google+ link up here. We will follow you back if you follow us (just note which one you are linking to):

Tots and Me

If you are interested in gaining followers to your blog who will read and comment and truly find an interest in your blog, link up here:

Tots and Me

If you have family friendly giveaways to link up, here's your spot. Please make sure to include an end date for your giveaway.

Tots and Me

We are so glad you stopped by. Please leave a comment if you link up and we will be sure to stop by and follow back.

Don't forget to check out my "Blog Hops" page for other great blog hops!!

See It and Say It Flip Flop Spanish Review

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We have had the wonderful opportunity of working on our Spanish with See It and Say It Flip Flop Spanish from Flip Flop Learning thanks to the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  See It and Say It Flip Flop Spanish is a 2 year Spanish curriculum appropriate for almost all ages. In the description it says it is suitable for ages 3-93, which is perfect for this mommy and the three girls to learn together. 

The curriculum is conveniently packaged in the above box. It comes with the teacher manual, 3 sets of flash cards, 4 CD's, a whiteboard paddle, a dry erase marker, a CD holder page and 2 plastic card holder pages.

All we needed to supply was a CD player (or DVD player as our CD player stopped playing the disc for some reason), a binder, index cards (or card stock cut to 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches), and a notebook to write out words and sentences. 

With this curriculum we were able to open it and get started. All I had to do was remove the teacher manual pages from the shrink wrap and place them in the binder as they are already hole-punched. A front cover, back cover and spine label were also included, though we were unable to use them as I do not have a see-through cover binder at this moment (I used to, I am just not sure where it is and what it is being used for). I decided to place the covers and spine in the inner pockets of my binder for now. As I don't have many binders being used for schooling (this is the only one) I will know that this is our Flip Flop Spanish Binder. 

Included in the teacher manual pages are the actual lessons that follow along with the CD's.

There is also a See It & Say It Quick Look Guide so you can see what lesson is on what CD plus what you will be doing during the lesson.

For example, we may be doing practice, Te toca a ti (It's your turn), a speed review or sentences to name a few of the lessons types. 

Additionally, there are some introduction pages explaining how to implement the lessons, how to pronounce the vowels, how to say some common conversational phrases and how the program is divided into 4 semesters for a complete 2 year program. Older children can go through the program faster, but this schedule is perfect for our young girls. We do one lesson per week, repeating the information on the CD for 3 days to help with retention, but also adding some activities to keep it fun. 

In the back of the teacher manual there are also two different indexes of all the words in the program. The first index is arranged alphabetically by English word and shows which lesson the word will be taught in and which card set you will find it in (verde, azul, or rojo). The azul deck is listed first, then the homemade cards, then the rojo cards and finally the verde cards. 

There is also a "Words Listed by Lesson" index, but this one was a bit more difficult to follow. 

The CD's are stored in the CD holder in the back of the binder.

As I have stated, there are 3 different card decks included in this program. Each of these decks are available separately as they were sold prior to this curriculum being published. It appears to me that Señora Gose has taken these card decks and made a curriculum to include them, which I think is really cool. 

Here is a little more information about each card deck.
  • Verde/Green includes more commonly used words such as Body Parts, Household Items and Phrases & Adjectives to help made the nouns usable. 
  • Azul/Blue includes Clothing, Verbs, Rooms and more Phrases & Adjectives to make these words more usable.
  • Rojo/Red includes Animals, Verbs, Adjectives, Question Words and Locations
I am keeping the decks separated by using rubber bands, as suggested. For now I am storing them in the box, but I would eventually like to get some sort of pocket to go inside the binder so I do not need to have both the binder and the box on my shelf. 

Here you can see 4 separate decks. The extra deck includes the cards we will be using in the current lesson.

Each card is double-sided with a picture on one side and the Spanish word, Pronunciation and English translation on the other side.

I love the way these cards have the picture on one side and the words on the other side. When we lay out the cards we are to do so picture side up. As Señora Gose says the words on the CD in Spanish we have a chance to find the correct card and say the word. We can then check to make sure we are correct by flipping over the card. Next we can make sentences by placing the cards, again picture side up, in the order she tells us to. Later we practice building our own sentences the same way. By having only the picture on the one side it encourages us to relate the picture to the Spanish word we hear.

So, how exactly did we use this curriculum?

Before starting each lesson I skimmed it to find out what we are going to be doing and which cards we are going to need. The manual notes which tracks are going to be used on the CD. 

There is no additional lesson planning, though we do need to occasionally make some extra flashcards for words that are not in the decks but are essential to making sentences. So far we have had to make cards for and (y), but (pero), and with (con).  This is not an oversight by the author. Señora Gose states by having the student help make some of these needed words that are not in the decks the child will "truly 'OWN' your Flip Flop Spanish Curriculum."  I did discover I needed to read the entire lesson a bit more thoroughly before starting the CD with the children as it isn't always noted at the beginning of the lesson that we were going to have to make the new card. It was a bit distracting to have to stop the lesson to make the card. I guess it sort of took me by surprise, because in Lesson 1 it is noted at the beginning, but in Lesson 4 it isn't mentioned until the middle of the lesson and we are told to hit pause to make the card.

When we first started this curriculum we gathered at the school table and listened to Señora Gose teach the lesson from the CD, laying the cards out on the table and finding the correct card and making sentences. When our CD player stopped working I decided we would play it in the DVD player. This has worked out so much nicer because we can sit on the living room floor in a circle and lay the cards out in the middle.

So far, in lessons 1-4 we have had to lay out the cards needed for the specific lesson and then point to them, repeating what Señora Gose had said.  The first lesson included "Me gusta/I like" and "Necesito/I need" so we could immediately start forming some sentences. After we go over the words, we practice them again and then she has us find specific cards and lay them out together to make sentences.

When we are done with the lesson on the CD the girls may continue making sentences or we could play a game. We have used the paleta/paddle to play pictionary, where we take turns choosing cards and drawing the pictures for the others to guess. The person who guesses what is being drawn gets to keep the card. We have also played hide and seek with the cards. One girl will hide the cards and the others will find them. As they find them they need to say the word in Spanish. In addition to the games suggested in the manual, there are a whole slew of games listed on the Flip Flop Learning website.

The girls will also take some time to write at least one sentence per lesson in their notebooks. They are only writing once a week so as to not overwhelm them. As they get older, I will have them write a bit more.

As you can see, they started out with short sentences the first week we did these lessons.

As we added more words, especially the words y (and) and pero (but), the girls have been able to write longer sentences.

As you can see, that is quite a bit of writing, so I allow them to take their time and only do one sentence a week.

As they get to write the sentences they get to learn not only how to recognize the word when it is spoken, but how to write and read it as well.

I love that as we go further into the program Señora Gose starts speaking more in Spanish. Even in the first lesson she will say something in English and then repeat it in Spanish. For example we are told, "Touch la falda." She continues on to say, "Toca la falda." So we are learning words that are not on the cards as well. Sometimes she will tell us what new words she is going to be using, like pues (next) and listo (ready), other times she will say it and translate in the next sentence. Here is a small part of Lesson 2, exactly as she says it on the CD and as it is written in the teacher manual:

"Toca el tenedor. Did you touch the fork? Find it, touch it, say el tenedor. ¿Listo? Toca el plato. That's an easy one. Toca y di. Touch and say el plato. Pues, toca la cuchara. La cuchara. Repite, la cuchara. Finally, el pájaro. Toca el pájaro. And be sure you say it. El pájaro. Buen trabajo, good job."

I am absolutely loving the way Spanish is taught with See It and Say It Flip Flop Spanish. This program is great for both auditory and visual learners, plus there is the tactile aspect. Though Hannah hasn't been as involved, she is definitely learning, and she is at the lower end of the age range. She is still learning to talk properly in English so she is learning the Spanish right along with it. She can point to the pictures when asked and can go find the objects, so I know she is comprehending. Obviously at 3 years old she is not writing the sentences, but it is great to know she is internalizing these words. I know how important it is to start introducing a second language to a child at a young age, and this is working wonderfully. 

See It and Say It Flip Flop Spanish retails for $129.95, but you can purchase it for $99.95 from the Flip Flop Learning website.

Don't forget to check out what other Crew members thought of this great curriculum. 

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

SmartShield SPF 30 Continuous Spray Sunscreen Review

I don't spend a lot of time in the sun as I tend to burn really easily. However, there are times when I need to be outside for long periods of time and I need to make sure I am protected from the sun's rays. And, of course, the children spend a lot of time outside in the yard. I do try to limit their sun exposure by making them wait until the afternoon, but in the middle of summer, the sun is still quite high in the sky, meaning more direct, hotter rays. So, when I was given the opportunity by SmartShield to try out a new serious sunscreen, I jumped at the chance.

May I introduce you to SmartShield's SPF 30 Continuous Spray: Serious Sun Protection

This sunscreen can be worn all day, every day. Here are the reasons why:
  • It has an oil-free formula that doesn't clog your pores.
  • It is quickly absorbed and bonds with the top layer of your skin.
  • It allows your skin to perspire naturally and stay cooler.
  • There are no harsh chemicals.
  • It contains an Aloe Vera base which is moisturizing and soothing. The smaller molecules of Aloe Vera, which also has the same pH as human skin, allows it to be absorbed immediately.
  • It is water-proof, which means even if you go in the water, you are protected.
  • It is hypo-allergenic. 
First, let me say I am always a little leery when I try a new product on my skin. I have very sensitive skin and will break out easily. Yes, even when products say they are "hypo-allergenic" I will have reactions. Once I find a product that works for me I will stick with it. But, I was intrigued by this new sunscreen, so I thought I would give it a shot. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the results. I did not have any adverse reaction to the SmartShield Sunscreen. Additionally, my normal sunscreen still causes my face to break out in little bumps. There were no little bumps on my forehead after using the SmartShield. 

I decided to do a little experiment. We were at a Bills game, which meant spending a lot of time outdoors before, during and after the game. I decided to use the SmartShield on one side of my body and my normal sunblock on the other side.  I could see right away that my normal sunblock was sitting on the top of my skin, all white and greasy-looking. However, the SmartShield Sunscreen worked as promised. There was no greasy layer on my skin. My husband was also quite impressed with this. 

But, you may be wondering how it worked. As I mentioned above, I burn really easily. Both products seemed to work similarly in protecting me from said burning. However, I noticed that the SmartShield's SPF 30 was working the same as the other brand's SPF 50 (yes, I usually purchase the highest SPF I can find). No, I did not burn. The protection was wonderful. 

It is great to know that we are getting protection from both UVA and UVB rays with this Broad Spectrum sunscreen. I love that it contains Aloe Vera and Vitamins A, C and E. It is also PABA free and DEET free. Oh, it also won't stain clothes or sting your eyes. 

Of course, we didn't spray it directly into our face, we did spray it into our hands and then apply it to our faces and the children's faces. We could see how fast it absorbs by doing this, because it almost seemed like it was absorbing too fast into our hands to get a decent coverage on the face. However, as we didn't burn on our faces, I guess the coverage was sufficient after all. I didn't care that much for the scent, but it wasn't overpowering either like others can be. Of course, that is just personal preference anyway. 

Now, don't think just because it says that it offers continuous protection you don't have to reapply the sunscreen if you are out in the sun for long periods of time. I have to admit, I sort of assumed that at first. Yes, you do need to reapply SmartShield sunscreen after 2 hours of being out in the sun for proper protection, which I assume is the same recommendation for all sunscreens.

I would definitely recommend SmartShield SPF 30 Continuous Spray Sunscreen.
You can purchase this product on their website here for $17 for a 6oz can.

You can also find SmartShield on Facebook and Twitter.

Disclosure: I received a can of SmartShield SPF 30 Continuous Spray in exchange for my honest review. I received no further compensation. This did not in any way influence my review. I only recommend products I use personally and feel will be a good products for my readers.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: September 25, 2013 (w/linky)- Enjoying the new playground equipment

One morning I looked out of my kitchen window and saw this:

They were putting in new playground equipment at the park (yes, the park is right beyond our back yard).

The children were so excited. We had a picnic at the park for lunch.

Then they got to go and play. They were the first ones ever to use it.

Looking forward to seeing your Wordless (or not so wordless) Wednesday posts this week.


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