Mathletics.com Review

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Mathletics.com is an online math program for Kindergarten through 12th grade, put together by 3PLearning.com. As such, you will receive login information and you are ready to go.

What is neat is that when you purchase your subscription to Mathletics they give away a year’s worth of education called “school-in-a-box.” It is a UNICEF sponsored program.

Mathletics Kit

Your Mathletics kit comes in a pretty box

UNICEF will send a physical kit containing education essentials to teachers in schools that have minimal supplies or right after a disaster and all that thanks to your signing up for Mathletics. It makes one feel good when one contributes to somebody else’s development.  Continue reading »

To learn more about this initiative, please go to www.3plearning.com/unicef.

The kit I received came in a pretty box tied with a red ribbon. Inside, I found a folder with my login information for me, as the teacher, and for two students, my two children. They are in Kindergarten and in second grade, so they worked on lessons from their levels. However, they could navigate around and choose lessons from other levels.

Every week, I received a report in my email Inbox, showing me my students’ activity, the amount of time they logged in and their results. If they achieve 85% or more in activities, for instance, they receive a gold bar. As they work through curriculum activities, they also get points. All those stats are sent automatically to the teacher once a week. Pretty cool, right? I don’t have to monitor every single minute of their Mathletics experience to know what they are doing.

This curriculum is definitely hands-off and if are trying to foster independence in a child, this might be the route to go. The math concepts are presented clearly, though for my kindergartner I had to be there to walk her through some of the steps. I would say that you would have to be there in the beginning of each lesson to find out if they got the concept or not and then let them spend some time on their own, working through the games and the extra practice.

Mathletics wristbands and trophy which come with your kit

Mathletics wristbands and trophy which come with your kit

Not everything is a game, but the whole experience feels fun, like a game. I have written here before that I don’t particularly want to push computer learning in my homeschool. It’s too easy, especially in the early grades. Too many colors and dancing teddybears. What happens when things get really tough later on?

I think it is a matter of perspective, too. If you have a lot of children in your homeschool, Mathletics might just save your sanity. Get each of them situated or at least one at a time on the computer and you have one less student to supervise for the next 20 minutes, while you can work with somebody else. I just recommended Mathletics.com to a homeschool mom on a Facebook forum, who was saying she is at her wits’ end and she needs an online math curriculum for her children, otherwise she will not homeschool next year.

But even if you are not desperate, you might want to invest in Mathletics because it only takes 20 minutes three times a week to achieve 1000 points. That’s a Bronze Certificate. So even people like me, who stay away from computer-based curriculum, might bend for only one hour per week on the computer if it means more independence for the child and more time for the mom to work with the other student.

Last but not least, the kit comes with a trophy and several wristbands to show off your Mathlete pride. I suppose those would really help a struggling math student change their whole impression of and outlook on math.

The opinions expressed here are my own. I received a free subscription to Mathletics.com in exchange for my honest review of this product on my blog. I was not required to write a positive review. I was not compensated in any other way. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC regulations.


The Adventures of Bubba Jones Book Review

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The Adventures of Bubba Jones: Time Traveling through the Great Smoky Mountains (Amazon affiliate link) is the latest book by Jeff Alt. I received a free copy in exchange for my honest review.

I have been reading this book to my children, who are five and seven at the moment. They could sit through up to four chapters of this book at a time. The book has 16 chapters and, as such, it could be read as a family in a week. The chapters are short, about seven pages long on average. We read it in the evening for our bedtime story time, as well as in the car, during a family trip we took out-of-state. As the kids got antsy on the backseat, I pulled the book out and started reading, showing them an illustration as we came upon it. Each chapter has one black-and-white illustration which captures the most important scene of that chapter.

The Adventures of Bubba Jones

Overall, I would recommend this to any family trying to awaken an interest in hiking and the Smokies. We all need to work towards that goal. Children log in way too many hours playing video games and watching TV, resulting in poor thinking skills and obesity, not to mention a terrible disconnect from nature and ecology. The book is entertaining and educational at the same time. My kids love it and they ask for more as we finish each chapter.

We happen to live in the Smokies, so we love all the places mentioned and we know most of them from having been there. When the story took the Jones family back in time to Lucretia Oliver’s cabin in Cades Cove, I told the children we were there in 2011 for Mother’s Day. They don’t remember because they were one and four at the time, but it was a neat memory to share with them while reading this book.

The plot is simple: Bubba Jones and his sister take a trip through the Smokies with their parents and extended family, learning about all the people that have ever lived through these places and how the National Park came to be. They travel through time using a family skill passed on to Bubba by his grandfather.

Hiking and camping tips are shared in a relaxed way, and one even reads about how to act when running into a black bear in the Park. At the end of the book, you will find a section with questions that check reading comprehension and retention.

Overall, this would be a great book to read before, during and after your trip in the Smokies. Kids love it and learn a few things, too. I believe Jeff Alt has embraced a great cause: that of inspiring the next generation with a love of nature and hiking. This book is part of his efforts as an avid hiker and award-winning writer to accomplish that mission. It looks like this is only the first volume in a National Parks series, so stay tuned for forthcoming volumes on other parks.

The book can be picked up at different gift shops in the National Park, as well as on Amazon. It is only $9.18, which is a great price for a book that has 180 pages, including an educational section in the back.

For your information, the book does mention the theory of evolution as a fact in one place. Chapter 3 states that the Smokies are at least 460 million years old. Regardless of where you stand on this issue, you can read the book and not have to worry too much about earth origins. The main thrust of the book is about hiking, enjoying nature, solving the family mystery of the missing cousin and loving the Smokies.


Accountable Kids Review

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I have written on my blog several times about Accountable Kids but it has been briefly, just in passing, i.e. we use it and are happy with it. On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest and 1 being the lowest, I rate it at 5. I think the time has come for me to share with you more in-depth about it. This program is for children ages 3-14. I started using it four years ago, when my oldest was 3 and my second was still a baby. Obviously, the baby could not do much with it. So we only bought one kit.

Accountable Kids board and cards

Accountable Kids board and cards

The kit contains a wooden board with five pegs, cards to hang on the different pegs, and a book. I highly recommend the book before you start the program with the children, not just so that you may understand what you are trying to accomplish, but to learn more about childhood phases, how you should think on your children’s level and many other parenting tips.

Accountable Kids Book

Accountable Kids Book

The Accountable Kids program has helped me (1) prioritize and schedule chores, (2) motivate my children, (3) hold them accountable for their behavior, (4) reward them for positive behavior and (5) build a forum for addressing negative behavior. It is not just a chore chart, mind you.  Continue reading »

First off, the Accountable Kids program is customizable to your child and situation. That’s the best part. We all have different philosophies about child rearing. Some of us have none, so we need help figuring out what we should be aiming for, right? I know I was clueless when it came to allowance and chores, for instance, because I was not raised with any structure when it came to those two concepts.

Secondly, this program will take the guesswork out of parenting by giving you step-by-step instructions on how to implement chores, their execution, and their rewards.

Last but not least, the kids learn to be accountable to you and to the family for their behavior.

So the program comes with several types of cards:

  • basic chore cards (chores for which you will not pay your child; they must be performed as a citizen of the household; your child receives a ticket for performing morning, afternoon, and evening cards; these tickets come with rewards you decide on with your child)
  • tickets (see above)
  • extra chore cards (chores your child can do for money)
  • best behavior cards (you give these out to your children now and then when they exhibit a value-based behavior)
  • bonus bucks (they are paid for extra chores and exchanged for cash at the end of the week)
  • privilege pass (if you are working with your child on eliminating a negative behavior or habit, you can target it by offering a privilege pass when your child does not do that particular behavior; e.g., your four-year-old keeps getting out of bed after you have put her down for the night; if she does not come out of her room one evening, the next morning you can give her a privilege pass which can be redeemed like a ticket, for a field trip, a date with mom, play time with dad, screen time etc.)

They have very helpful videos on their site to explain how it all works, but nothing beats reading the book, which comes with the basic kit. Their website also has free printables, like the forms used for your weekly Family Forum.

Morning Cards

Morning Cards

As my children grew from 3 and 0 to 5 and 3, I had to adapt the way I use it. I put both of them on the same board. I wanted to experience the program fully before I invested in another kit. Besides, we all stayed home, nobody attended daycare or preschool, and did all activities together, so it only made sense. Because they were so young, my children loved looking at the colorful cards, touching them, moving them from peg to peg, understanding that we cannot have breakfast for instance until we finished our morning cards (making beds, dressing up, combing hair, taking our vitamin etc). It was a concrete way for them to grasp what we were asking them to do.

Fast forward two more years. My kids are now 5 and 7. It is time for me to stop coaxing and reminding them about their cards. I am ready to make them more accountable for their behavior. They know what they have to do. I should not have to nag. So … it is time to get a second kit with another board. That way, they each are responsible for their pegs, for moving their cards and themselves through the day, and receiving their rewards accordingly.

All in all, I highly recommend this program with a five-star rating, but please beware. The program only works if you work the program. Don’t be discouraged if at first you don’t succeed. Try, try again. It will all be worth it in the end.


Little Bits Review

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When I watched the TED talk on Little Bits, I knew I was going to have to get a set for my son. He loves all things LEGO – I have not blogged enough about his LEGO projects, a thing I intend to change in 2015 – and Little Bits seems like the next step as he continues to explore building, electronics, and technology.

I suggest you watch the TED talk I mentioned above. It’s only 5 minutes. Their creator explains what Little Bits are better than I could. In short, Little Bits are electronic modules of different colors, each color performing a specific task (like pulse, sound, light, wire etc), and which snap together via magnets. No soldering needed.

Little Bits - Deluxe Kit

Little Bits – Deluxe Kit

Little Bits are intended for children 8 to ∞. Our son turned 7 in November, but he looks like an 8-year-old and he reads at a 6th grade level. He builds LEGO projects intended for 14-year-olds. So who’s to say that we should wait another year to get him Little Bits?  Continue reading »

We got the deluxe starter set ($199) for him this Christmas. It is the biggest kit they make, containing 18 modules and 3 accessories.

He also received the brick adapter ($9.95) so he can connect his circuits to LEGO bricks. They offer free shipping on all sets. Also, they grant 15% off to homeschool families. You should apply here for the discount.

Every day, he discovers what his Little Bits can do. Daddy spent some time with him in the beginning to offer instructions here and there, but our son is pretty much on his own now in this exploration. Frankly, I would not know how to guide him because electronics never was my cup of tea. I’m happy he knows what he is doing.

I would say he spends at least one hour a day exploring the projects listed in his instructions. Today, he built dancing signs, as he explains in this YouTube video. Then, he worked on a robot, but the cardboard box turned out to be too heavy, so I have no robot to show you. We are looking for lighter boxes to put it together. Learning happens especially when things don’t work out well.

“Build something that makes something” is one of the trademarked phrases Little Bits came up with. I can’t think of a better way for a child to spend his days than to build something that makes something. Can you?


Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

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So glad to be reviewing one of the French Courses from Middlebury Interactive Languages. You know me, I love a good French curriculum for my kiddos. This came available to me through the Old Schoolhouse Review Crew. It doesn’t get better than free, right?

Boy and girl watching Le Petit Chaperon Rouge

My kids watching Le Petit Chaperon Rouge

I was entrusted with Elementary French for grades 3-5, obviously, geared towards students in grades 3-5. You might say, “Wait just a minute, Adriana! I thought your kids were in first grade and PreKindergarten. How come you are putting this curriculum in front of them, when it’s for higher – albeit elementary – grades?”  Continue reading »

Provided you said all of the above to me, including “albeit,” I would answer with a reassuring smile: “Never fear, dear friend! I am no pushy mama. My kids can handle this because it is a series of cartoons in French, followed by interactive exercises. I have been teaching them French for five months now, using other resources. Sure, the vocabulary in this course might be a bit over their head, but that’s where learning comes in. They get challenged to learn new words while repeating words they already know. The cartoons keep them riveted to the story line. My kids might even get some words from the context on the screen.”

Middlebury French Course Elementary

What we got out of it was lots of listening to French. Plus, my son, who can read in English and Romanian, was able to peek at the French captioning on the screen while the cartoons were going on – so a gentle introduction to what French sounds look like when you spell them out. Yes, this curriculum is great that way. You can hear AND see the words being said right on the screen.

The exercises are interactive. Kids either listen and choose the right words, or arrange numbers in order or click and move words around on the screen to match concepts etc. They are so varied. After watching the cartoons, which are classic stories like “Le Petit Chaperon Rouge” (“Little Red Riding Hood”), the students get to answer questions which drill vocabulary.

Middlebury Interactive Languages

The price for this is $119 per student per semester.

The curriculum repeats the cartoon after a few exercises. Repetition is the mother of learning, right? This is especially true with languages. After that, more exercises, including – I am not kidding – a language lab! How cool is that? Using your device’s mike, you can record your own voice and hear it back in order to correct your pronunciation.

Middlebury French Course Language Lab

There are also tidbits about culture, called CultureGrams, which allow the kids a window into how people who speak French interact with and greet each other.

Of course, this company offers several courses for different age groups, as you can see below.

Middlebury Courses

For your information, Middleburry Interactive courses for the K-2 crowd include a total of 35 lessons for the semester, while the Grades 3-5 program (what I worked with) has 45 lessons per semester. They recommend two days a week for Grades K-2, and 2-3 days per week for Grades 3-5.

Both the Middle School and High School programs have a total of 90 lessons per semester, with the recommendation that students complete a lesson per day for 18 weeks. All levels are self-paced, so the student can speed ahead or slow down as needed.

We were definitely self-paced. When my kids get into something, they can’t stop. They watched almost all the videos the first session. I sat and translated through them all, then guided them through a few exercises. The following session, they just wanted to watch the videos and do no exercises. I had to tell them we will not be watching any more videos until they work through the exercises.

So even though we did only two sessions per week, we got rather far, but we skipped over some of the drills. My plan is to go back and systematically work one lesson at a time and make sure we cover all the drills available. Otherwise, I don’t think they will remember the vocabulary.

Middlebury Interative Languages on Social Media

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Middlebury-Interactive-Languages/141015515949753
Twitter: http://twitter.com/MiddInteractive
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/middinteractive/
Google +: https://plus.google.com/b/110371351490550861545/110371351490550861545/posts

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French Women Don’t Get Fat

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If you are up to 30 lbs. overweight, love to eat, and hate gyms, French Women Don’t Get Fat is zee book for you. Here’s my review of this national best-selling book.

I read this book for the sheer pleasure of learning more about French culture. To my surprise, I was already doing many things French women do. But it makes sense. Because Romania is a Francophone nation, we grew up with many French ideas about life, liberty and the pursuit of good food.

Like a French/Francophone woman, I happen to hate gyms and love to eat, but I am not overweight. That’s because I pay attention, a concept hinted at in Bringing Up Bébé, as well.

Continue reading »

However, I did learn a lot more principles French women follow as they pay attention to their weight. Want the skinny? (Sorry, I could not resist…) In two words: portion control. Easier said than done.

Well, this is where Mireille Guiliano’s book comes in: she will tell you how to trick your mind into being satisfied with two tortillas instead of three. Or two ounces of chocolate instead of six. Intrigued?

French Women Don't Get Fat

You really should read the book. There’s no substitute for the real thing. Just to um, whet your appetite, here are some of the power points:

  • French women eat three meals a day.
  • French women don’t snack all the time.
  • French women drink two quarts of water per day. At least.
  • French women never let themselves be hungry.
  • French women never let themselves feel stuffed.
  • French women eat with all their five senses, allowing less food to seem more.
  • French women train their taste buds, and those of their young, from an early age.
  • French women honor mealtime rituals and never eat standing up, on the run, or in front of the TV.
  • French women don’t watch much TV.
  • French women eat and serve what is in season, for maximum flavor and value.
  • French women love to discover new flavors and are always experimenting with herbs, spices, and citrus juices to make a familiar dish seem new.
  • French women understand that as an adult everyone is the keeper of her own equilibrium.
  • French women plan meals in advance and think in terms of menus even at home.
  • French women love to entertain at home.
  • French women walk everywhere they can.
  • French women take the stairs whenever possible.
  • French women think dining in is as sexy as dining out.
  • French women are stubborn individuals and don’t follow mass movements.
  • French women know l’amour fait maigrir (love is slimming).
  • French women eat for pleasure.
  • French women avoid anything that demands too much effort for too little pleasure (like sweating in a gym).
  • French women don’t diet.

If you want a plan of attack, the book will give it to you. Here are the main points:

1. Write down everything you eat for three weeks. Don’t count calories, just write down approximately what you ate and how much. At the end of the three weeks, watch for patterns. Round up the usual suspects (too much food late at night, too many sugary, salty, greasy snacks, not enough water, too many caloric drinks etc).

2. Make a leek soup (recipe in the book) and eat that for two days, plus drink all the water you want. Leek soup is a natural diuretic, it tastes divine, and it will get you a jump start on the French way of thinking about food. Losing a bit of weight in two days won’t hurt, either.

3. The next three months constitute your short-term recasting. The principles in the bullet list above start here. You will lose at least half of your target pounds during this time.

4. Stabilization and eating for life – this is the bulk of the book, complete with recipes and ideas on how to think your way into a thinner you. Also, how to move more without sweating and hurting and paying expensive gym memberships.

The author, a French woman married to an American, lives her life in New York and Paris. She is entertaining, informative, and not at all preachy. She is comfortable with herself and with her message. She is not afraid to admit that one of the reasons France is not the super-power that America is, is that France has not acquired all the technologies that have made American life so convenient and comfortable. But, on the other hand, she points out that it is this easy lifestyle that has made Americans fat.

In conclusion, as Molière put it, Manger bien and juste. (Eat well and eat right.)


French Friday, Petra Lingua Review

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We love French in our homeschool. I have started teaching my children French on a regular basis this spring. We joined the Alliance Française of Knoxville, signed up for Popi, and watched Caillou on youtube. However, I felt the need for a systematic approach to learning French. Enter Petra LinguaContinue reading »

Full disclosure: they are one of my sponsors. But I would not be writing about this curriculum if I did not think it was great or if I did not use it with my children.

French learning for kids under 10 - Petra Lingua

French learning for kids under 10

So Petra Lingua is for younger elementary kids, say ages 3-10. However, if you are an adult who needs to study French and enjoy animation, this is a great product for you, as well. I would add that if you feel intimidated by language learning, you should definitely consider Petra Lingua. Their mascot, a cute doggy named Wuffy, will become your best buddy – while teaching you French.

I know my kids laugh every time he enters the screen. He makes an entrance in a different way every time.

The lessons contains songs, repetition, a chance for you to repeat back what the speaker said, as well as exercises to practice what you learned.

Also, you should know this product comes in two versions: an online version and a DVD kit, which offers a booklet with exercises and a music CD, as well as the DVD for the lessons. At the end of the 20 lessons, you will have learned 500 basic words in French and, hopefully, you will have gained some confidence toward more lessons.

They even have a lesson plan you can follow so that you know what to expect (or what to do) for each lesson.

The online product costs $4.99 per month for six months. How’s that for a bargain? You can do one lesson a week and be done in 20 weeks, with no stress and without breaking the bank. If you wanted the DVD kit, which also contains a Wuffy Dog Handpuppet and a set of playing cards to practice vocabulary, it is $75.

So it boils down to how good your internet connection is. I use this set to teach my French Play Group at the library and their connection is not so good on some days. The result? The songs get interrupted a lot as the laptop keeps buffering. I have learned to bring the DVDs instead.

My kids love Wuffy and they play with the handpuppet a lot. They sing the songs and request certain lessons just because they like them. For instance, my daughter really, really likes the Vegetables and Fruits – which happens to be available for free on their website. My son prefers the lesson about counting to 20 – things come in train cars and he loves trains.

If you want to watch the free lesson, go ahead and sign up. You will receive a code for 15% off when you do decide to purchase. How cool is that?

As we progress through these lessons, I will be back to tell you some more about them. Until then, au revoir!


Wizzy Gizmo Review

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This summer, my children have really enjoyed listening to an audio drama called “Who Created Everything?” produced by Wizzy Gizmo. In fact, they ask for it every time we get into the car. Sometimes we get back home from our errands and they stay in the car to listen to it to the very end – as if they have not listened to it before.  Continue reading »

This audio drama, all on one CD, features two girls and two boys who hang out with a scientist named Wizzy Gizmo, whom they call Wiz. One of the boys is new in town, and the other three kids make him feel right at home as they invite him to their adventure.

I liked the value instilled in kids as they hear the characters say, “He is new in town.” “Sweet! You gotta come with us!” So being new somewhere is not weird and scary. New people should be welcome and included in our activities.

Wizzy Gizmo Who Created Everything

The four friends go to Wizzy Gizmo’s lab, where they also interact with his two sidekicks – a robot duck called Quackie and a Mexican dog named Pepe, who speaks with a thick Hispanic accent. Wizzy’s new invention – the Gizmoblaster – is a machine that creates a lifelike world based on any book you read.

It’s the same idea as in many other children’s books or movies, i.e. a time machine of sorts which can take you places in time and space. The kids decide to go all the way to the week when everything was created.

Wizzy walks them through what the Bible teaches about how God created everything. The kids learn and react to information. When Wizzy tells Eli, the new boy in town, that Eli picked an auspicious day to visit his lab, the kids ask, “What does auspicious mean?”

Quackie provides an answer in a rap song which reveals his ignorance. He thinks auspicious is something delicious and nutritious. “Slice it, dice it, give it to me fried…” Pepe explains the real definition of the word after the kids tell Quackie that he is wrong.

Pepe and Quackie seem to balance each other out throughout the audio drama. Pepe tends to be more realistic and informed, while Quackie is whimsical bordering on weird.

Wizzy Gizmo Logo

The kids sing songs here and there and so does Wizzy Gizmo. At one point, Wizzy sings a song about how much he loves mangoes. Quackie chimes in towards the end and it gets out of control. Pepe remarks, “That was really weird!” And, frankly, it is.

The mango song is followed by the strawberry song. One of the girls sings that beautifully, but Quackie again breaks in with his falsetto voice. Pepe puts him back in his place with, “Quackie, that was incredibly… weird.”

My favorite bit is when everything goes dark as they travel to the very beginning of time. Quackie says with a scared voice, “Wizzy, I think I just felt something behind me… and it’s HAIRY!!!” Pepe quips, “Por favor, let go of my tail…” I laugh out loud every time.

As they go through each day of creation week, a baritone male voice reads the corresponding Bible passage. The musical background is nice and what you would want to have as the Bible is being read.

This audio drama is 36 minutes long and there are also 24 minutes of bonus tracks. It is intended for children ages 4-12, but, obviously, the whole family can enjoy this if they can put up with Quackie’s craziness. The CD costs $14.99.

I liked several things about Wizzy Gizmo:

  • the publishers present biblical concepts to children
  • my kids tell me things like “God created everything out of nothing, mommy!” I have gone over that with them in our regular devotional times, but somehow it stuck after listening to this audio drama over and over again.
  • Bible passages are read respectfully
  • it makes my children laugh
  • it explains vocabulary like “auspicious,” “firmament,” and that “heaven” can be referring to space, but also sky
  • the characters behave politely and speak respectfully

Things I did not like about Wizzy Gizmo:

  • most of the music is Christian rock
  • the actors’ voices sound over-the-top, like they are trying too hard
  • Pepe’s Hispanic accent is so thick, it sounds exaggerated
  • when presenting definitions, the actors break into song and the dialogue becomes unnecessarily entertaining; do we really need to rap while learning vocabulary?
  • too much fluff around the core message

Wizzy Gizmo on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wizzygizmo
Twitter: https://twitter.com/wizzygizmo
Pinterst: http://www.pinterest.com/wizzygizmo/
Google+: http://www.plus.google.com/+wizzygizmo
Vimeo: http://vimeo.com/wizzygizmo

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French Friday, Allons Danser! Review

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For a couple of months now, the kids and I have been listening to Allons Danser! – a CD with French music for kids, produced by Whistlefritz. It has been such a great tool for my French Play Group, not just for my children. We use the Bonjour, Les Amis song to start the meeting and Au Revoir to close.  Continue reading »

At home, I play the entire CD as the children play and I cook or do some other housework. It’s the best background music. You know how music can influence your mood even if you don’t understand the words? Marie-Louise Desage’s crystal-clear voice gives me joy. And although I understand the words, the music makes me feel like I am on a beach vacation as I wipe kitchen counters or peel potatoes.

Allons Danser! CD cover

 

The Carribean-infused melodies, written by Didier Prossaird, go along well with summer time or any time of the year when you wish you could have summer back. In short, these songs put me in a good mood – a vacation mode. They are not just for the kids.

Here’s a listing of all the songs, with the vocabulary you can expect to learn and drill as you sing:

  1. Quand Je Serai Grand listen – When I grow up – job titles
  2. Bonjour Les Amis listen – Hello, friends – greetings and the weather
  3. Un, Deux et Trois listen – One, two, three – body parts and, obviously, counting to three
  4. Le Vieux MacDonald listen – Old McDonald – farm animals and their sounds
  5. La Danse des Mains listen – The dance of hands – place adverbs like up, down, to the side etc
  6. Ma Journée listen – My day – a daily schedule of meals and activities
  7. Le Bain listen – The bath – feet, water, tub, getting into the tub, it’s fun – an invitation to have fun with bubbles
  8. L’Heure de Ranger listen – Time to clean up – here, there, now, dusting, cleaning, sweeping, broom, duster
  9. Des Jouets listen – Toys – plane, flying, bicycle, pedaling, etc.
  10. La Barbichette listen – Goatee – to hold, ouch
  11. Il Pleut listen – It rains – umbrella, yes, no, dancing in the rain, big clouds are gray etc.
  12. Les Doigts listen – The fingers
  13. Y’a Pas de Fête Sans Gateau listen – No party without cake – gift, giving a gift, etc.
  14. Les Enfants Quand Ils Dansent listen – The children, when they dance –
  15. La Tête, Les Épaules listen – Head, shoulders – the same melody and vocabulary as Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
  16. Le Camion de Glace listen – Ice cream van – all the kids come out of the house when the ice cream van passes by
  17. La Grenouille Reinette listen – A frog named Reinette – whimsical and funny
  18. En Haut, En Bas listen – Up, down
  19. Les Petits Poissons listen – The little fishes – swimming, in the water, little, big, the same as
  20. Au Revoir listen – Goodbye – saying goodbye in different ways, the party is over, it’s time to say goodbye

We all memorize so much better if the words are set to music. This collection will be the perfect addition to your French class. We listen to it in the car, too. I am still amazed by how much I can retain just by listening to 15 minutes of French music a couple of times a week. If you, like me, are looking for ways to maximize learning throughout the day, you will appreciate this CD you can add to your car schooling supply list.

The CD booklet contains all the French lyrics, as well as a vocabulary list for each song. Thus, instead of paraphrasing so you get the gist of the song, Whistlefritz gives you word-by-word translations to help with your goal of learning French. How helpful is that? Any homeschooling mom who took some French and remembers some should be able to utilize this CD and help introduce her children to the sounds of the beautiful French language.

Allons Danser!  CD Booklet

The CD booklet provides the lyrics and their literal translation

My children break into song in French out of the blue, while playing or running around outside. Their pronunciation may not be all there and they may not understand everything they are saying, but it’s a start. Plus, it is a great opportunity for me to join them in song. Sometimes I exaggerate a bit the correct pronunciation so they can correct themselves. Other times I just sing and have fun along with them.

I highly recommend the Allons Danser! CD above any other language learning CDs I have bought – and I bought a few.

Disclaimer; I received a free copy of the product above in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way. The Amazon links above are affiliate links. All opinions I have expressed here are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.


Bringing Up Bébé Review

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Two years ago, when I heard about Bringing Up Bébé, I was not interested. The subtitle of the book is, “One American Mother Discovers the Joy and Wisdom of French Parenting.” I knew one thing about French parenting: it’s very hands-off, i.e. they put their babies in crèches (daycare for babies) at three months old and, later, they send them to all-day preschool at three. This is the way I was raised in Romania by my working parents.

Pas pour moiContinue reading »

I have French friends and Romanian friends who live in Paris. I have read extensively about French culture. I had to, because I majored in French at the University of Bucharest. There are so many things I love about France. And then, there are things I just cannot accept for me, for my life, for my children and my lifestyle. If they want to do it, that’s their prerogative.

Bringing Up Bébé

Besides, two years ago, I was coming out of the baby stage with my two children (they were four and two at the time). I felt it was too late to implement anything, even if I had a shred of interest in the French way of parenting.

But, the other day, at the library, I saw this book again. I felt the urge to read it. If nothing else, out of curiosity.

I read it in about three days, stopping only to provide meals and necessary care to my children. My husband said he had not heard me laugh out loud so much in a long time. Pamela Druckerman, the author, is a journalist by trade. She knows how to be funny, how to do research, and how to tell a story to keep you engaged.

This was our first attempt - plain yogurt cake, in a loaf pan

This was our first attempt – plain yogurt cake, in a loaf pan

Bonus: I got all kinds of French language pleasure thanks to all the French expressions peppered throughout the book (there’s a glossary in the front of the book for those who are not familiar with the language of Molière).

I knew what the joy of French parenting had to do with: less time spent with the kiddos means more time for mommy, mommy’s career, and mommy’s identity away from the children. Of course there is joy in not doing diaper duty 24/7. There is joy in somebody else potty training your child. There is joy in somebody else training your child to eat his spinach and not throw food. There is freedom in not being mom 24/7 and freedom brings about joy.

However, I don’t like what comes with it, right behind joy: separation from the child for eight hours a day. That’s non-negotiable for me.

Anyhow, I did find some pearls of wisdom. Let me share some of the things French parents do, which I think fall in the category of wisdom:

  • Attend! (Wait!) – Since babyhood, French children are told to wait two minutes if mommy is in the middle of something. It helps with training babies to sleep through the night earlier and it helps with being able to have an adult conversation. It teaches children early on that the world does not revolve around them.
  • No snacking other than the 4pm goûter, which is necessary, when your child eats at 8am, 12noon and then 8pm, as most French do. Druckerman calls it the national meal plan.
  • “You have the right to…” or “You don’t have the right to…” – as soon as a child misbehaves, he is told he does not have the right to behave that way. It presents a different paradigm than disobeying a rule. It teaches the child he is an important person, with rights, but so is everybody else around him.
  • Baking weekly with the children, as young as three-years-old – I actually made Gâteau au yaourt (Yogurt Cake) with my daughter. It’s the easiest cake French children bake for their first time in the kitchen. The recipe is given in the book, but we found that the baking time must be at least doubled, or the heat increased. Or something. We ate it all right. It was delicious, if only a bit too wet – but we need to tweak it a bit more. My daughter knows about dry ingredients and wet ingredients as a result.
Berry Yogurt Cake

Our second attempt: we used a round cake pan and we added the recommended amount of frozen berries for a variation

  • Talking to children – as early as infancy – about your expectations of them
  • Le cadre (The framework) – clear boundaries set up for children (you absolutely may not come into mommy’s room in the morning on weekends, or hit a parent, or use a disrespectful tone, or throw food, for instance); but, inside those boundaries, absolute freedom allows children to develop their own interests and personality
  • Faire l’éducation (literally, to make the education – i.e., to give your child instruction on how to be, how to live) – it tilts the whole parenting gig towards instruction and a professional attitude towards their own children, and away from the emotional reactions that drive us to discipline our children and dole out consequences as soon as they disobey. It also helps with not taking things personally. When you view yourself as a life teacher for your child, you become less of a policeman for his actions.
  • Des bêtises (naughty acts performed by children, which are considered normal, acceptable for their young age) – drawing on furniture or the wall would be examples of bigger bêtises. Still, many French parents will not discipline their children for such acts of naughtiness. It’s an interesting concept which helps parents relax and not feel like they have to find a consequence or lose their temper for every childhood accident or broken glass.

 

When Druckerman’s oldest child goes to school and the teacher does not give the mom any details about her daughter’s performance in school, I have a problem. So does Druckerman, but she seems to accept that that’s just what they do in France. She is told that her daughter is “competent.” She moves on.

Like I said above, the book is hilarious. At least, for me, this side of parenting. And it’s pleasant, if you like French or the French culture at all. But I do not agree 100% with the French ways. And that’s OK.