Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Science Kit Review and Giveaway from Toys and Games Online

Hello all! My name is Donna, and my crew and I are looking forward to helping out here at Sara's Toy Box with reviews and fun -- I have four little girls who are all curious and creative ladies.

Recently we had the pleasure to review the Space Exploration Kit ($31.40) from Thames and Kosmos that was sent to us from Toys and Games Online

As a homeschooling family we're always on the look out for interesting, fun and easily accessible science kits that are also reasonably priced! The prices at Toys and Games Online for this science kit were similar to what I'd found elsewhere.

We are already familiar with the brand Thames and Kosmos and their science kits because we ordered their Chem 2000 kit for our oldest daughter's chemistry lab this year. She's starting 6th grade and she needed some serious science – that science kit is going to work out GREAT for her and for her sisters as they get older. I can tell already that it's well worth it.

The Space Exploration Kit is recommended for kids aged 8 and up.

We had to do this review over the course of a few days because there are just SO many things to do in this kit. There's still more we need to cover, but we're going to have to wait until it gets dark earlier so we can see some stars before bedtime!

Today you'll get to meet my twin daughters ... they are goofy 8 year olds who aspire to be on Mythbusters when they grow up ... Rachel and Mara -- this was their favorite constellation they learned about ... Gemini, the twins.

We began our cool science kit by reading some directions. They're rather easy to follow but there are a number experiments that require adult supervision. And, if left to their own devices my girls might not actually learn WHY something happens; it's all the better if I'm there to get them to listen to an explanation as well.

We put together a simple telescope and tried it out – learned about how the lenses work …

Then we put together a pretty nifty model of the solar system that now hangs in the girls' room below the ceiling that already had glow in the dark stars all over it … We talked about the phases of the moon and watched it changed in by putting together a little flip book.

A few days later we got some free time to open up the kit again, this time we got to learn about rockets, which I couldn't get a good picture of – that little thing really took off! The girls also loved being able to go check the time on the sundial and learn about some constellations – we've hung the pictures of them in their window and they're hoping when they can have a nice starry night they can find some constellations all on their own!

Want to go back to school with your own space exploration kit? Sara's Toy Box is giving away a $40 gift card to Toys and Games Online. To enter, go to their website and pick which awesome educational games or educational toys you'd get for the little scholar in your life. Then come back here and tell us what you would pick and why; add some contact info in your comment and we'll choose a winner next week! If posting your contact info makes you uncomfortable, you can also enter by sending us an email or a message on Facebook.

Monday, August 30, 2010

A new coupon code from Down To Earth Toys

Free shipping on  natural toys and toys made in the USA from Down to Earth Toys.  Just use coupon code "SARA" through September 30, 2010 on orders over $25.

Check out the new arrivals.  Down to Earth has some great European toys, including pots and pans from Portugal,and child-size garden tools from Hungary.

Aluminum pot with lid ($17.95)
Child-sized garden tools ($14.50)

Happy Birthday to Arielle

Did you notice our new bird wallpaper? That was in celebration of Arielle's 6th birthday. Arielle had a bird themed, birthday party and I thought I'd share some pictures for those looking for eco-friendly party ideas and kids activities.

First we built bird houses.  These bird houses are made by GreenBird out of recycled paper.  They are easy to assemble and last from spring to fall. Small birds like wrens, nuthatches, tufted titmouses and Carolina chickadees will build nests in the houses. The houses are $12.99 each or $66 for twelve - the bulk savings made them a reasonably priced party activity.

We did need adults to assemble the houses, but then the kids got to go all out ith painting them. Green Bird sells eco-friendly milk paint, but I didn't realize it had to be pre-mixed so we used regular poster paints.

After the bird houses, we planted bird flowers.  The Echinacea (Cone Flower) seeds were also from GreenBird.   They come in a six inch seed pie which can be cut into smaller pieces.  You just fill the pot with dirt, put in a piece of seed pie and gently cover it with more dirt.  Then water and wait for it to grow.

Then we decorated the pots with stickers. The party was a few weeks ago and we now have little sprouts.

Of course, there was a lot of running around, playing dress-up, checking out the play food in our toy kitchen and a fun game of pin-the-beak-on-the-cockatoo. Everyone got prizes.

Then snacks and cake.  Arielle and Linnea made bird's nest cookies to fit in with bird theme.

A pink roses, butterflies and birds cake:

Arielle loved it.  She claimed it was the best birthday ever!

Our friends went home with bird houses, flower pots and a bag of bird seed.

The party bird stickers are from Kristin Sanchez on Etsy.

Happy 6th Birthday, Arielle.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Coming up soon -

I think I mentioned that CSN stores have asked us to be regular bloggers. CSN is a group of online stores that sells everything from table lamps to cribs. But, we like Toys and Games Online and right now they have 20% off educational toys, arts and crafts (code is "back2schooltoys". So check them out.

And, we'll be bringing good toy reviews and giveaways soon.

Boom Boom Cards at Giving Gifts

Arielle and Linnea have been learning about good deeds. They play a game called "Fairy" with their big sister. At first, the fairy just granted wishes. But, some little girls were getting greedy and making a lot of wishes. So the fairy said, "You must do three good deeds first."

"What's a good deed?", they asked.

The Boom Boom cards from Giving Gifts arrived just in time. What are Boom Boom cards?

Boom Boom Cards Original Deck ($12.00)

Boom Boom cards are a deck of 26 cards. Each card is printed with an act of kindness. You do the act of kindness, log it on the website and pass the card on to a friend.

The girls were very excited to do the good deed. Arielle read the card.

Our first good deed was "Plant a seed!" This was easy because we had cone-flower seeds left over from Arielle's birthday party (more about that in a few days). Cone flowers or Echinacea are especially Earth-friendly because they provide food for birds and butterflies.

The seeds are from Green Bird.

Then we decorated the pots with stickers. Not so Earth-friendly, but fun.

After we did our good deed, I went to BoomBoomCards.com and registered our deck. When you register, you can choose a charity that will receive a donation. We chose NatureBridge, a non-profit organization that helps students connect with nature through activities in outdoor classrooms.

I wrote about our activity and posted the picture. Now, I'm sending the card to Eleanor who will write about her family's experience.

The next card says make a card for someone who lives far away. Good idea. The girls can't wait.

Giving Gifts is a Canadian company that sells eco-friendly and fair trade toys and gifts that are good for both the recipient and the environment.

In addition to the Boom Boom Cards Family Edition ( $16.00) that we used, they sell beautiful Blabla bird rattles ($30.00), natural art products, Envirosax (cool Sesame Street ones), lunch boxes and other treats.

Giving Gifts has offered our readers ten percent off all purchases. The code is "Sara10." That's another good deed.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Winner Is.........

Congratulations Betsy, the winner of the $25 gift card to Franklin Goose.

Betsy likes the all-natural art supplies from Clementine Art. We do, too.

Thank you, Franklin Goose.