Crayola Product Review

Crayola Crayon Maker

Crayola Crayon Maker

Tonight I am on Mom It Forward’s  Girls’ Night Out ( #gno)  panel on Twitter  sponsored by Crayola to discuss creative gift giving and decorating. As a panelist I was also lucky enough to receive a cool new Crayola product , and although not required, I wanted to review it. I was not paid for the review but like I said I was given the product free of charge.

I have made crayons numerous times here on No Time For Flash Cards, once during a heat wave on my patio.  This time though I was able to keep my oven off, and could do it rain or shine. When my son and I opened the box at first I was a little disappointed that the product was something that was suggested for 8+ since my only child is not quite 3,  but then I thought that this would be a perfect opportunity to see how friendly this would be for families with multiple ages.  I am sure there are many households out there that shy away from products like this thinking that since they have younger children it wouldn’t be safe with a toddler or preschooler around.

I was impressed.

First and foremost this product gets hot ( on the inside)  and there needs to be parental supervision – that said I was very impressed with all the built in safey features.  Before I get to those let me show you with the help of my trusty assistant how easy it is to use.

1. Break your crayons into small peices.  8 crayons are provided for you but you can use any crayola crayons.

2. Next place them in the tray.This is where my little one stopped acting as helper and just watched from then on. Remember it is suggested for 8+. crayola 004

3. Close the lid, plug it in , turn the dial and go.

Now while we are waiting for the crayons to melt let me get back to the safety features.  The lid you see locks.  When you turn the dial to start the melting process it locks and stays locked until it’s safe to touch.  I purposefully tried to open it many times, I tried to “speed” up the ticking dial and it was all to no avail. Nothing opened that lid until the time was up.  This would have frustrated me as a curious destructive 8 year old but I am awed as a safety conscious mom. I also like that the heating comes from a light bulb, which is easy to remove if you are planning on storing this and don’t want unauthorized use! crayola 005

4. Oooh look they are melting. Now melting does take a while and it’s unlikely that your kids will be watching the whole time- but once they are melted the light goes off and it’s time to … crayola 006

5. Tip the wax into the molds ( all still protected by the see through lid) and be amazed. crayola007

6. When the ticking stops- open the lid .

7. Clean up. Well we all hate clean up right? Unfortunately it was harder to clean than I was hoping.  I even retested it and grabbed the tray as soon as the lid was unlocked , then it was HOT ( not hot enough to burn but too hot to comfortably handle) and still the wax didn’t all wipe off . So I hacked at it with a plastic pampered chef tool, and made a bigger mess. crayola 001

8. When the crayons are cool, pop them from the mold, put them into the holders and voila! crayola 002

9. Get creating with cool swirly colors. I have to say these end up as nice as real crayons. Often when you make your own they don’t write as smooth, and these are awesome. crayola 003

So overall – the product was fantastic even if clean up wasn’t. I would happily suggest this to families this holiday season.  Oh wait the last thing that I think is really wonderful, the price. I totally expected a SRP of $50 for this, nope 29.99 !  I was shocked.  So if you have a little artist  this is a great option, and a safe one even if they have some younger curious siblings!

E-Book Review !

Monster-Mania2

by Marie LeBaron

$7 that is all this ebook costs to download, $7 ! Let me tell you it will be $7 you won’t regret spending.  This book is packed with Monster activities that you will say ” Oh why didn’t I think of that?” and ” My kid is going to love it! ” and they will.  Crafts, learning activities and even fun in the kitchen is covered in the 70 page book with full color photographs, step by step instructions and realistic expectations. When the author Marie LeBaron from Make and Takes sent me a copy to review I couldn’t wait . I love her blog and one thing I have always admired about Marie besides how down to earth she is , are her realistic expectations of the kids doing the activities. I am sure this comes from being a former teacher as well as a mom, she knows what kids can do and doesn’t expect them to make crafts or eat food that is simply not kid friendly. There are crafts you can make to encourage pretend play , my favorite were hairy monster feet! There are magnets and puppets and I am craving some candy after looking at the cupcakes! Something I loved in this book was how she lays out the learning objectives for each activity, so often people don’t recognize the immense amount of tangible learning that arts and crafts offer and to see it spelled out for each of these was helpful and nice.  Another awesome thing was the long list of monster books for your little ones to read, if you read No Time For Flash Cards often you know I always like to link in books so this list sealed the deal for me. Great book for kids and parents to have fun and be silly together.

To  find out how to get your own copy visit

Make and Takes

Disclosure : The product reviewed was provided for me free of charge. I was not compensated in any other way for this review.  These opinions are my personal opinions only.

Hooked On Phonics

Learn to Read
Review

When I was asked by Hooked on Phonics to be a part of a group of parent bloggers to have what Judy Harris the CEO of Hooked on Phonics parent company Smarterville dubbed “Virtual Coffee” I was thrilled. It’s obvious I am not a fan of static learning , workbooks or flash cards. So I was thrilled to be a part of a group suggesting appropriate activities, what we like and don’t like about a developing product and what we want to see as parents and educators .

I have to start off by saying when I opened the package I knew there would be flash cards included and had to giggle when my son only wanted to play with them. He’s never seen flash cards and I had a good laugh that I’d be reviewing something that included them on my blog that is devoted to learning with out them. So I am going to address this before I get into the nitty gritty. I don’t think flash cards are inherently evil, I just don’t think they are the best way to learn, they get results but the results are usually pretty shallow, they are memorized not understood and often used in such a static way that children are missing out on learning to the depth that they need, and in a way that they will make true connections, which in my opinion is through play and discovery. This picture is one of my son matching up rhyming words like cat and hat, spoon and moon and tree and bee!

That said sometimes flash cards are appropriate and the way that this system uses flash cards is in a dynamic and engaging way. They are used in games , kids are not sitting down and being flashed a letter with the expectation to label it and move on to the next. They are used for matching, for rhyming and as a tool for learning not memorizing. This made me very happy to see, and my child much like the vegetarian’s child who naturally gravitates to steak was happy I didn’t banish them, he loves them!

The system itself is set up for parents to use the workbook as a guide not as worksheets, when you open a lesson you are met with all different ways to introduce , reinforce and play with the letters. During our “virtual coffee” with Hooked on Phonics many of the parent bloggers as well as I suggested they include more sensory and kinetic activities for the lessons. They listened! Here you see my son making a C on the floor with his body. Not only did he love doing this , for days he was asking me to make all sorts of letters with his body. This simple activity sparked his interest and was a launchpad for even more learning!

There isn’t just one option for each letter either, here you can see three o the many for the letter B our button B ( which used fine motor skills to do) as well as one we made on the floor with bean bags ( which used gross motor), and tracing the letter with your finger to learn the shape. I suggest parents pick and choose which things will work best for their child, and the beauty of this system and how easy it is , is that there are so many options you can tailor it without any added effort.

Other than the workbook you also get story books and a DVD. My son has loved every book and don’t even get me started about the DVD. He is oddly attached to it. I have to admit I am absolutely impressed as well, the production quality is much higher than I expected, the songs are awesome and the concepts used for it like a art museum guard finding letters in various masterpieces is right up my alley! I enjoy watching it as well which is important since this should be a family affair, I can support my son’s learning much better if I am a participant as well. Thankfully it’s so well done, I enjoy watching with him, talking about it as we do and don’t groan when he asks for it again a few days later! The other thing that seems small at first but is really very important are the star stickers that are used as a way not only to celebrate finishing a lesson but also as a reminder for your child that they can do it. My son loves choosing which color star to pick out at the end of each lesson.

We’ve been doing the system now for a few weeks and it’s shocking what he’s learned, his phonemic awareness has greatly improved and what’s delighted me the most has been his rhyming skills and seeing them develop. I wasn’t expecting to start teaching rhyming for a while but did a few lessons with him thinking they’d go over his head – they didn’t and we’ve been rhyming ever since!

Over all I am genuinely impressed, both with how the lessons are presented and the results I have seen in my own child. I have to admit before being contacted by the company to participate in the discussions about literacy and learning I was not planning on ever buying this product to use in my own home. I wouldn’t have discouraged a family from it, but I didn’t think it was right for my child. I was wrong. Turns out my child craves this more structured learning and with the short lessons – each is under 20 minutes or less, it still fits my personal belief that adult directed learning should be minimized for preschoolers.

Disclosure : The product reviewed was provided for me free of charge. I was not compensated in any other way for this review. I am not employed by Smarterville the parent company of Hooked on Phonics, nor was I paid for my involvement in the discussions during the production of this product. These opinions are my personal opinions only.

Product Review !

Rollitt!

First impression: Anything that says it’s ” Great Fun! No Mess” is full of it. but we’ll see. I did notice a remark on the side of the box that says ” Easy Clean up” then another that says ” Color can leave stains rinse immediately with warm water.” hmmmm.

So here we go I have a washcloth with warm water ready, a table cloth protecting my ikea table, and my son who isn’t even 2 even though the package says 3+. I’m watching him carefully especially his mouth which often finds it’s way to all sorts of art supplies!

What I liked:

  • The price, well under 10 dollars for a pack of 4.
  • The colors are vivid
  • Not very messy
  • Not made in China ( South Africa)

What I didn’t like:

  • They don’t roll on very consistently, so you get darker spots and little pools of paint.
  • Hard to use as anything other than free art/ abstract .
  • My son didn’t put it in his mouth, shocking!

What my son liked:

  • The colors

What my son didn’t :

  • You can see in this picture that he has the bottle at the wrong angle, I know that the age is 3+ but wanted to mention that this can be frustrating for young kids .
  • It took a long time for the picture to dry so I wouldn’t let him touch it until it was dry and he was not pleased. The stain warning on the box had me a little worried.

Over all I think these make a fun add on to your art supplies but are by no means a must have and I would probably reserve them for older kids.