Month: March 2016

What the kids & I are into these days No. 2

After my previous post What the kids & I are into these days, I really enjoyed the feedback from you all about the products, shows, etc that your family is into.  So I thought I’d write another post and keep the conversation going!  So here are a few more things rocking our world right now.

Sling TV

slingWe have been cable-free for most of our 15 years of marriage, mostly because we are ridiculously cheap frugal.  So we normally have an exterior HD antenna (like this one) for our local channels and Netflix.  This works GREAT, especially since it costs a whopping total of $8/month.  The only drawback is that we can’t watch many sports.. and we love us some football around here.  So last fall we decided to cancel Netflix and give Sling TV a try.  We loved it!  I’ll do my best to explain it.  Sling TV is an a la carte live cable service with no contract.  Their basic package is $20 a month and includes CNN, ESPN, Disney Channel and lots more (see pic).  Not only can you watch shows live, but there are also many previous episodes available to watch.  You need a device to stream Sling and we purchased a Roku to do this.  If you prepay your first 3 months of Sling TV, you can get a Roku from them for 50% off (info here).

What we loved:

  • Watching live sports
  • Disney movies
  • Live news
  • Movies on AMC
  • House Hunters, Duck Dynasty and of course Fixer Upper!

What we didn’t like:

  • Commercials.  We’re SO not used to commercials since we’ve had Netflix for so long.  I am amazed at how evil some of them can be!  So I had to stay close if my kids were watching.
  • There wasn’t as much for kids as there is on Netflix.

So we kept Sling TV through the football season, then cancelled it and resumed Netflix for the kids and to save money.  We’re planning to switch back when football season is here (go Noles!)

The Book of Virtues

book of virtuesI love to read aloud to my kids.  And I love classic literature.  The Book of Virtues combines both, so it makes the perfect addition to your home library.  Right now we are reading one or two short passages each morning.  The book is a collection of “moral stories” and is categorized by character quality, such as self-discipline, compassion, etc. You will find classic poems, Bible stories, writings by America’s founding fathers and much more.  Here’s an excerpt from one of our favorite poems called Boy Wanted…

A boy who is polite to every man and respectful to every woman and girl.

A boy who does not smoke and has no desire to learn how.

A boy who never bullies other boys or allows boys to bully him.

A boy who, when he does not know a thing, says, “I do not know”; and when he has made a mistake says, “I’m sorry”; and, when requested to do anything, immediately says, “I’ll try.”

How great is that?!

Trikke Carving Scooter

trikkeMy kids don’t play with toys.  I don’t get it.  But I’ve given up.  The truth is that they want to be outside playing with their friends, climbing trees, building fires, chopping down trees, fishing and piling way too many people into a paddleboat.  So when it’s time to make Christmas lists for the grandparents, I’m always on the hunt for anything that they can use outside.  Two years ago I hit the jackpot with these Trikke Carving Scooters.  Granted, these things are expensive, but hear me out.  They are equally fun for my 4 year old and my 13 year old, meaning this toy has lasting power!  It can either be powered by one leg like a traditional scooter, or by standing on it with both feet and twisting your body back and forth.  And they go really fast if you want them to.  I can’t say enough about how much we love these!

 

Now it’s your turn!  What is your famiy into these days?

 

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What the kids and I are into these days

I always love to hear what other families are into.  So I thought you might be interested in what the Schuesslers are loving these days.

Annedroids

annedroids

Annedroids is an original Amazon live-action show for kids .  It’s free for Amazon Prime members and there are 2 seasons so far.  I watched 3 episodes with my boys ages 4, 8 and 11 and they loved it!  It’s basically a kid’s dream come true.  Inventions.  Robots.  Full access to a junkyard.  And I love it because they sneak in tons of science facts, plus it’s super clean.

Math Games

We stink at learning our math facts.  Sure, we can recite the entire timeline of the world, but 7 x 9?  Ummmmm…. So, I’m on a mission to fix that.  I’m a big believer in traditional math, which means using flash cards and drills.  But I knew I needed more than that to keep my kids attention.  So here’s what I did:

  • I read a few articles about teaching math facts like this one and the comments on this one.
  • I printed out the instructions for various card games like Subtraction War, Race to 27 and Flip 3, Pyramid, plus a few more that you can find on my Math Pinterest board.
  • I printed out some dice games like Gain & Loss
  • I put these inside page protectors in a binder 1457148795782
  • I grabbed a small plastic bin at Target and filled it with all my supplies: dice, playing cards, dry erase markers and baby wipes (for cleaning off the page protectors.)  I keep this with my binder.  I find that having everything in one place is SO helpful for me.
  • I made flashcards for my kids according to what they are working on.  I put these in index card boxes that I found at Walmart.

So each day I gather my 6, 8  and 11 year old and we do a mix of games and flashcards. We’ve done this for a week now (in place of our usual math curriculum) and I’m already seeing great results!

Classic Starts Series

swiss

When I was only homeschooling one or two kids, I was able to read them the classics, start to finish, and we loved it.  But now that I have 6 kids, including a nursing baby, it just isn’t the season to read a 300-page book.  In fact, we started both Anne of Green Gables and Little Women last year, only to give up on them.  This is where the Classic Starts series comes in.  They’ve taken books like The Swiss Family Robinson and abridged them for a 3rd-5th grade reading level.  Please and thank you.  Now we can finish a good book in a decent amount of time and feel a sense of accomplishment.  And it’s easy enough to read that you can pass of the book to one of your kids to read while you change the baby, corral the toddler or fetch the preschooler out of a tree (true story.)

Catan

catanApparently we are late to the game when it comes to Catan, but we have discovered it and we love it!  This was a gift to my husband for Christmas and he and the kids (ages 8-13) have played it at least 10 times since.  I won’t even try to explain how the game works, but it’s full of strategy and math, which should make any mom happy.  And we love things that we can do as a family with multiple ages.  Beware, this game is a little pricey, but I tracked it with my favorite Amazon-tracking site camelcamelcamel and waited until the price dropped. It’s been worth every penny!

Magna Tiles

magna tilesI’m sure you’ve seen these at the store and thought “Sweet heaven I could feed my family for a week for the price of those dumb magnets!”  But stop.  You need these Magna-Tiles.  It would be worth eating ramen noodles all week if it meant having these glorious beauties in your home.  I’ve never had a toy that ALL my kids love to play with and that keeps their attention for so long.  Plus, major bonus points for not having tiny pieces (I’m looking at you Legos.)  And it has that open-ended, creative play that keeps kids coming back.   Put this on your kids birthday or Christmas list for Grandma.  If it’s all they get, I promise that no one will regret it.  (And thank you to our Grammi for buying ours!)

Plugged In

I doplugged inn’t know about you, but I have been burned too many times by movies/TV that I thought was safe for me or my kids and wasn’t.  So I love pluggedin.com, a division of Focus on the Family.  I use it to look up pretty much everything that we watch and it has saved us more than once from renting or something that we’d inevitably have to turn off.

So those are a few things we’re into these days.  What about you? Any great products, sites or shows that you’re loving?  Share it in the comments!