” Meeples, Meeples……. set down your Peeples……”

This…….. and other crazy songs…..  were invented by the Coney Clan as we played Wits and Wagers Family.

I will start at the beginning…. because I know you are dying to know what a Meeple is.  Well, either you are dying to know or you think I have lost my mind, along with any and all abilities to spell correctly; either way, I am still going to tell you….   Meeples are the action pieces in this fast paced game for the whole family, created by North Star Games. They have been migrating across the Atlantic since 2000, and North Star Games is happy to facilitate this migration by placing them in many of their own games.

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From the moment the game box was ripped open in eager anticipation………

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through the intense suspense of waiting for the answer to be revealed……..

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Every one was involved, engaged, and enjoying themselves around the kitchen table. They say the game is for ages 8 and up….  but as you can see, 4 year olds love it too!

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The best part about the game is that you don’t have to know ANYTHING at all to play it. Nothing.  Nada.  Zip.  Zilch.  Zero…… The object is to be the best guesser. (is that a word?)  We all learned quickly in our house that Big Daddy was the best guesser and if you want half a chance, you put your Meeples down on his card.

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There is even room to be creative with your answers…..

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The only trouble we had when playing was getting people to decide on a card for their Meeple to stand on.  Some rounds, ……some people, who shall remain nameless, ….. TOOK…… FOREVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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So…….. we made up a song as our timer.  “Meeples, Meeples,….set down your Peeples… Meeples, Meeples, set down your Peeps…. ”  and we would sing it two times through….  If you couldn’t pick a spot by then….  well, tough, your Meeple got grounded.

Feel free to borrow my musical genius when playing Wits and Wagers with your own Family, and use my catchy tune as your Meeple timer.  Smile  Call me,  I will sing it to ya…..

You can find Wits and Wagers Family at your local Target or Barnes and Noble Stores, or use this Locator Page to find a retailer near you.  Retail prices will vary so make sure you shop around and check online for a price that best fits your family’s budget.  There are expansion packs and other great games created by North Star, so be sure to visit their website to see all they have to offer   http://www.northstargames.com/North_Star_Games/Home.html

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Our experience with this game can be summed up by my oldest son….

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Which is saying a lot since he barely scores 3 points every time we play.  Smile

Check out the 100 or so other reviews on this great game over at the TOS Homeschool Crew Blog.  I am headed there now to see how everyone else played at their house.

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***disclaimer***

As a TOS Homeschool Crew Member, I received Wits and Wagers Family, free of charge, for the purpose of this review.  No other compensation was received.  All of the opinions stated above are those of our family as we used this game for fun and frivolity.  Thank you North Star Games for your generosity.

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I have a secret

I have a confession to make.

My confession will help you understand this particular review. I am supposed to be honest with you, a transparent homeschooling mom.  I need to get it off my chest……….  I homeschool and I don’t teach Latin.

There.  I’ve said it.  Now you know my dirty little secret.

Wait! there is more!……  if you don’t understand this about me…. you are not fully going to grasp what I have gone through for you, to bring you this review.  I shall explain.

TOS crew members have a very small voice in the items that we receive for review.  We are asked to comment on our level of interest for various products.  Then the review coordinators make the final choice, based on what best fits the vendor’s needs.  It is hard work, I don’t envy them in their decision process.

My level of interest comment about Latin review products went something like this:  “I would rather chew off my own arm, than try to teach Latin.  I can’t pronounce the words, it is miserably comical to watch. Please spare me and my children and choose someone else for this review.  However, if you need me, I will endure…”

Guess what?  The people that pick reviewers, have a wicked sense of humor and I received a Latin product to review.

When the package arrived in the mail, I whined, OH how I WHINED to myself, and now I will come clean and tell you about it, beyond whining……  I moaned. I had a “why me?? why must I be tortured” party…..

……and then I took a deep breath, put my big girl panties on….. and plugged in the DVD.  It was ten lessons.  How hard could ten lessons be?

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Such a nice young man greeted me.  He spoke with a sparkle in his eyes about Latin and why it was important to learn.  I had to fight the initial urge to think he was crazy.  My experience with Latin was far different from what this man said.  My experience with Latin was painful, time consuming, and embarrassing.  How could it be possible that it was really important?

With my big girl panties firmly in place……. I listened on……..  I will to give this program a fair shot, I will give this program a fair shot….. it has become my mantra.    It isn’t their fault I am allergic to teaching Latin.

I plug on through Lesson 1A.  Verbs, the State of Being kind….  ok… good to know….. Lesson 1B… Sentences….. a crowd is beginning to gather behind me on the computer.  Hunter who is 9 has ceased doing his Math and is repeating after Mr. Bright Eyes on the screen.  Did he understand that?  Evan and Tayler, in High School are laughing softly at his jokes.  Jeremiah (4) is saying Deus est bonus….  while driving his racecar across my lap. Hmmmm…. the kids seem to like it…. why is it I was allergic again?

Lesson 1C…. reading Latin… what?  you tell me one verb, toss me a few paltry sentences and now you want me to read it?  I think the Southern humidity (umidus) has fried this poor man’s brain!  And then he tells me that he is going to quit speaking ENGLISH?  oh here it comes…. this is why I was allergic.

What was my mantra again???

Lesson 2…. I shall press on. Set up is the same…  grammar, sentences and reading.  He is still speaking English….  this is good.  He is on to predicate nominatives, and predicate adjectives….  something I barely understand how to teach in English.  This is a bonus…. grammar lesson and I didn’t have to teach it.  Bellum. (beautiful) Wait? Did I just think in Latin?  Weird.  How is this possible after only two lessons.  Kids are still crowded around, still engaged…..  still chortling at very silly jokes…..

And so it went as we skimmed our way through the DVD.

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My mind is beginning to change on the possibility of incorporating Latin into our studies.

When we began again, as actual lessons during the week, we would watch a section and do the worksheet that was provided with it.  They are right there as a PDF on the DVD.  Pop it into your computer and print them out.  Very easy to do.  No one struggled.  No one whined….  I didn’t have to invent the way a word sounded….. it was all there on the DVD for me. If we didn’t get it… we went back and watched again. The kids were translating words within the very first page.  This program really gets them THINKING in Latin.   It was great!  (wait? did I just use GREAT to describe the teaching of Latin?)

So, if you are like me, and currently suffering from metus lingua latina (aka. Latin freaks you OUT!).

I highly recommend Visual Latin.  The creators are not joking when they say your child will ask to do their Latin.  Mine have, and still do.  They love it, even if you as the mom have no clue where to begin teaching Latin.  They guy on the video does!  He teaches for you! Painless, easy, non-time consuming….ahhhhhh…..

They offer a few Free Lessons, so you can see what it is like…. a try before you buy sort of thing. I would say that you could use lessons 1-30 as a High School level course.  But don’t limit yourself to only letting your High School students use it.  My 4 year old watched with us and learned Latin.  He didn’t do the worksheets, but he will when we review it again when he is older. My nine year old did the worksheets along with the videos and he walks around the house muttering sentences in Latin all day.  Good thing I watch with them so I know what he is saying….haha.   Visual Latin is for the WHOLE family.

They have lessons available for Download  or in DVD format like I received.  They even offer a live class.  Every option has worksheets that go along with it to help cement the lesson your child just watched.

Pricing ranges from $25.00 to $115.00 so please check their store out for the option that best fits your family budget. http://store.compasscinema.com/categories.php?category=Visual-Latin  If you ask me…. $25 is a heck of a deal!

If you would like to contact the company directly with more questions about how their program works, you can find them at:

The Compass Store

609 West Iris Drive

Nashville, Tennessee 37204

or go here for their email form.

I am sure there are parents out there who aren’t allergic to teaching Latin, who didn’t need to confess to the world their inadequacy in this area, when all the homeschoolers around them seem to just LOVE Latin…..  to read those parents reviews of Visual Latin Lessons 1-10, please visit the TOS Homeschool Crew page.

***** Disclaimer*****

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I received a DVD copy of Visual Latin Lessons 1-10 from Visual Latin, free of charge, solely for the purpose of this review.  It really has changed the way I view teaching Latin.  All of the above experiences and opinions are my own.  No other compensation has been received.

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Uncivilized? well, Civilize This!

PhotobucketFounded in 2007 by a Canadian Mom, Griddly Games states : “Our philosophy is to offer games that encourage social interaction, learning, strategy and challenges that anyone can enjoy.”

Early in August we received their Wise Alec Game, Civilize This! to review.  This game really makes history fun.

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Created for children ages 8 and up, and for 2-4 players, we found our family pushed the envelope.  We had our 4 year old play along with us, and we had no trouble playing with 6 players.  The game contains 4 decks of cards and a colored die.  You roll the die to see what cards you will answer questions from.  Each card contains an easy question and a harder one.  You answer questions about Ancient, Modern and Medieval time periods.

Our favorite deck was the Wise Alec deck.  These cards were great for family members of ALL ages to participate with.  You will find yourselves marching, saluting, speaking in accents, doing pushups, and pretty much laughing until you can hardly breathe. 

This is a stand alone travel game or can be used as an expansion set for the Wise Alec Trivia game.

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Point values are assigned to answers on the history cards, and for the actions on the Wise Alec cards.  The game suggests playing for a certain point value, yet we found it easier to play until a timer ran out.  It kept the games from going on too long and kept the younger children engaged. 

I will tell you, this game exposed exactly how much or how LITTLE we knew in certain areas of history.  As a teacher/mom I was able to see what areas we should go back and review!  You don’t need to be a homeschooling family to receive benefit from this game.  If your children attend school outside the home and you want to help them brush up on their history facts, this is a great way to sneak learning in!

We were not able to be as competitive with this game as we have been with others.  This was borne from the fact that the majority of family members were stumped as we played the game.  Still, everyone was eager to glean new bits of trivia each time we played.  It is becoming much more of a school time game than a family fun game.  I often use it now as a break from the History books, and a way to get all the kids learning together.

If you are interested in purchasing this game for your family; please visit the Where to Buy page of the Griddly Games Website.  Prices may vary depending on where you purchase, but a common retail price seemed to be around $15.00.

Be sure to check out what other families have to say about this game and how it worked in their homes, by visiting the The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew blog.

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****disclaimer****

As an independent contractor with the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I received a Civilize This! game free of charge. It was provided by Griddly Games solely for the purpose of this review.  No other compensation has been received.  I am under no obligation to furnish a positive review.

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Flea Circus! by R & R Games

RnR Games Flea Circus

This is such a fun game! The second it arrived and was open, I had to hide the box!  I wanted the kids to wait just one day more before they played it! (We had some friends coming over the next day and I knew it would just be more fun with more kids!)

It has been played nearly everyday since.  When they wake up in the morning, I hear  “Mom, tan we pweeze pway fwee sur-tus?”  from my 4 year old.  The 8 year old begs too, he just doesn’t have quite the endearing lisp the little guy does.  Smile

The rules are easy to follow, and game play is quick.  This is a great thing to consider when you are playing games with the elementary set.  It only takes about 20 minutes to play from start to finish.  It is a very engaging game.

Who can play? ~ It was created for children ages 6 and up, but my 4 year old, and our 5 year old friend, had NO trouble playing and keeping up with the game.  Moms, Dads, Grandpas and Grandmas, don’t be afraid to join right it!

Where can I find it? ~ Click to find a store locator near you or buy directly from the R&R website.

Cost? ~ $15.95 from the R & R Games website.

The object of the game ~  The Flea Circus has come to town and all the cats and dogs have come to watch all the clowns, acrobats and jugglers.  Your job is to play your flea cards right and collect the most cats and dogs… but beware of the Dog Catcher !!

The game helps with number recognition, addition skills and early multiplication (counting by two’s), as well as, building up memory and observation skills. You need those to keep track of the cards and their functions, and who has what cards in play.  It is also apparently very important to my children to have their animals very organized and in straight lines by species. (maybe we are just a bit OCD)

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Our family recommends this game to families everywhere and not just those with elementary aged children. ( I won’t embarrass my High School kids and tell you how much they liked the game Winking smile)  It was a great game to play with a few neighborhood friends or when your cousins come to visit.  It would even be great game to take on a trip; the box is small enough to fit in luggage and the game could be played easily on a hotel room bed.

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To see what other reviewers have to say about this product and many more visit the TOS Homeschool Crew page.

Don’t forget to stop by the R & R Games site to see what other great games they offer!  They are so sure you will like one or two of them that they are offering a 20% discount code good for any purchase from their website until 12/31/11.  Use code: CREW20 at checkout.

**disclaimer**

I received the game Flea Circus! from R & R Games free of charge. R & R furnished this game solely for the purpose of this review to Independent Contractors of the TOS Homeschool Crew Program. No other compensation has been received, and I am under no obligation to furnish a positive review.

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