Normally I start my reviews off with an opener, but for this one, I just have just dive right in for this review. When I tell you I was impressed with Africa In A Box from Teni & Tayo I couldn’t wait to write this review!!!
Africa In A Box is exactly what you get with an interactive history stem box for ages 5+. We felt like we were given front-row seats to the motherland with Mrs. Omobola as our guide. My son was instantly captivated, and his Nintendo Switch was kicked to the curb very quickly. Once he saw me place the box on the table and saw all the goodies he was ready!
Our mission is to help close the representation gap in the products made for kids while creating fun and engaging products that any child can enjoy.
Mrs. Omobola- creator
Our topic of the month was the Ndebele Tribe of South Africa/Zimbabwe. Included in our inspired by Africa box was everything thing we needed to build our authentic home. We received:
Detailed written and picture instructions.
Markers and pencil
Wooden panel with building hardware
Battery pack and batteries
Wires and LED bulb
Let’s talk about this video it was awesome we watched it twice. We learned about the Ndebele tribe in South Africa and some parts of Zimbabwe. We learned about the language, history, geography, and culture. My son was in awe of the beauty of the countries and people mentioned in the video.
He asked me… Mom why don’t they show how beautiful Africa really is on the news and tv?”
Jai – age 10
As parents, we have always taught our son about the beautiful continent of Africa and let him know he is a descendant of mighty kings and queens. To have a box like Africa In A Box just solidifies everything he has been learning since he was a toddler.
The hands-on STEM activity is wonderful. The instructor walks the children through building the structure. Mrs. Omobola has a natural rapport with the children. I like that she spoke to the children with respect, positivity, and encouragement. Also included in the box is an informational reader about the lesson the kids would be learning.
In the video, the children learn the importance of giving back because they tell the children for every box they receive a certain percentage of the purchase goes to help those in need in Africa and the African diaspora. I love that they are teaching this value because it is so important that children learn to give back.
After finishing his box he started playing with his Black Panther Lego mini figure. His house was the highlight of the day. He found a special place for it in his room. He asked us to get him another box because he enjoyed this one so much!
My son is 10, and he had no problem assembling the project on his own. When he got stuck with the wiring he just went back and rewatched the video and paused where he needed to adjust. My son isn’t big on decorating projects like this but he fully decorated his project and turned on some South African music on Alexa and spent the afternoon coloring. He also spent the evening telling his dad about his project and attempting to do the Ndebele clicking pronunciation.
Africa In A Box is available as a monthly subscription or bundle discount. At the time of this review, the company is offering free shipping on their box subscriptions. The cost starts at $38.99 and they are mailed by the 15th of the month. There is a pop-up on their website where you can save 10% off your first box. We plan to subscribe so we can get the upcoming box on Empress Taytu Betul of Ethiopia. I highly recommend Africa In A Box from Teni & Tayo .
My son already takes 1:1 Spanish classes with a wonderful Maestra who is located in Columbia. He meets with her 2 days a week for an hour. She is the real deal and we love her no English in her class is permitted. While he meets with her 2 days a week and she assigns homework. I wanted to also reinforce what he was learning in class and that’s where Educator’s Spanish Collection digital comes in.
Educator’s Spanish Collection is a fun at home Spanish program for kids preschool to early elementary they provide DVD or Digital language learning videos, music, and lessons plans. They also offer a free home educators guide for homeschoolers. The Educator’s Spanish Collection comes with:
Detailed Lesson Plans
Whistlefritz is a language immersion program, your students are immediately introduced to the language. I personally prefer a total immersion approach I feel students pick up the language better. I also like that music is included in the program because when learning a new language it’s important that you not only immersed yourself into the language but also into the culture. It is was nice that the program has a native speaker doing the videos.
WhistlefritzEducator’s Spanish Collection is geared towards ages one to seven years old. I wish I had this program when my son was younger because I probably could have avoided his Spanglish habits. Now we used Educator’s Spanish Collection a little differently from how it was intended. Since we are Spanish speaking family I was more interested in my son working on his ability to and write Spanish. The 174 page educators guide was perfect for this practice. I decided to take the lessons and write them on our big board and he needed to fill in in the blanks in his notebooks, I also did dication practice and he had to write down what I was saying in his notebook and use the correct the vocabulary word.
Educator’s Spanish Collection videos are colorful and packed with tons of vocabulary. The use of puppets and children of all ages and ethnic backgrounds is a huge plus. The fun songs are easy to learn and enjoyable. I didn notice that the digital version only came with 4 sheets of the matching card game, but I am thinking this may be and error because there are suppose to be 50 cards. We used those cards we did have for vocabulary and I plan to reach out to the company to get the other cards.
I highly recommend WhistlefritzEducator’s Spanish Collection for younger students, the program provides a solid spanish beginning foundations. I love how the instructor speaks in Spanish naturally and at the correct pace. Some may find this difficult but this immersion stops the unnatural flow of the language. The progma is engaging and the 40 lessons provide parents with helpful ways to teach Spanish. WhistlefritzEducator’s Spanish Collection is geared to younger learners, but it works well for older students for learning a second language.
I did have my son watch a few of the videos that were in Spanish only. I did this because he is familiar with Spanish only and I am I trying to break those habits of Spanglish.
Looking for a great way to explore the United States without leaving your home? Have you been interested in visiting a state and would like to get a glimpse of that state before leaving your home? If you answered yes to those questions then Celebrate States is a great way to bring a monthly state to your home.
Celebrate States is a monthly box subscription that features a new state every month. You will get a chance to learn about the history, geography, landmarks, and some of the local favorites.
We received the Colorado box for the month of March. Inside our guide we received:
🗺Colorado travel Guide and map.
🍬Sweet and savory treats from local shops.
🧼Lovely artisan scented soap.
🌲Beautifully crafted Aspen candle holder from the Rocky Mountains.
After going through the Celebrate States box we decided to dig deeper into some of the things he found of interest from the included travel guide. We watched a PBS documentary about the Rocky Mountains. The PBS documentary was very informative we learned about the:
Sicangu Lakota Oyate
San Luis Valley
Indian Boarding Schools
Black in Denver Art Exhibit
We enjoyed the Colorado box it allowed us to have a connection to the state. The Celebrate States is a wonderful way to explore the United States with your family. This will make a great complement to homeschool geography lessons.
As you can tell we took the box and ran with it. It was nice to give my son a peek into the beautiful state of Colorado. This is a great addition to our study this upcoming year. I am going to reach out to the company and ask if we can get the Georgia box.
Last year when my son and I were studying voting rights I remember the frustration I had writing down the timeline of the sequence of events on our board. I wanted him to have a visual keepsake of this important historical time period. So on our little whiteboard, I squeezed as much as I could and left it up there for a week as we studied. When it came time to erase it I took a picture of it and went on a hunt to find a way to record things for our history. What I was finding I wasn’t happy with so our timeline would have to live on my phone in the meantime. Then it happened The Schoolnest published a History Timeline notebook.
About The Schoolnest
Megan is a Michigan homeschool mom of 2 littles who is bringing love for learning through art, nature, creativity, and reading. Her approach to education is respecting the beauty of childhood and play. You can’t help but notice how she embraces Charlotte Mason, Waldorf, and Montessori philosophies in her homeschool. Her website is full of beautifully crafted simple journals, notebooks, and homeschool resources. She also writes a wonderful blog that is full of helpful ideas for parenting, homeschooling, art, and mindfulness. All are welcome on The Schoolnest website and blog, I found several diverse blog posts and literature recommendations.
I was so happy when Megan the founder of The Schoolnest launched her rainbow notebooks, from the first glance on her Instagram I knew I had to have them all. I purchased several of the notebooks for our school year then she published her History Timeline and it blew me away because it was exactly what I needed.
The History Timeline notebook is one the most unique books I have seen. The notebook gives you the ability to track history from:
What I feel like is a great family heirloom in History Timeline, is the beginning pages called “My History” I love these pages because we can record our family history and document things we felt were important to us during a year. The paper quality is excellent there are 115 pages and there are blank pages at the end. The entire is book is grid paper except for the dates, there is also B.C.E-C.E also included. There is plenty of space to write and post pictures, drawings, and clippings for creativity. The grid paper is excellent for writing and helping students contain their writings neatly. What I like about this timeline notebook is that it is just that a notebook. I can keep everything contained neatly in one spot and it is easy to flip through and we can use this 1 notebook over a long period of time.
The History Notebook is great for notebooking. We have used ours to notebook our unit study of Mesoamerica and currently, we are working on Ancient China. We study so much history in our home and notebooking has allowed him to have fun with notebooking. In the history notebook, there are 100 pages on the left page is 1/3 blank and the rest of the page is a grid. On the right side, the bottom is lined and the top is blank. There is a blank table of contents page and a study reference page. Kids can draw, color, cut and paste, make notes, and be creative. We have added pictures and written notes in our history notebook and added notebook printables. The paper quality is excellent, writes, glues, and colors smoothly.
If you are looking to explore the other notebooks in The Schoolnest collection you will not be disappointed. So far we have collected:
The Schoolnest notebooks are a must-have for your homeschool if you haven’t checked them out I highly recommend you do. We love our notebooks and I am looking forward to seeing any new books The Schoolnest publishes.
Complimentary product received from BookShark in exchange for my honest review.
When you have a science-loving kid, finding the right science curriculum can be a daunting task. When my son was in 2nd grade, he breezed right through an entire science curriculum in eight weeks. For 3rd grade, we decided to forgo another box curriculum and chose to use a variety of supplemental resources to build our own science curriculum. This year things changed. My son requested an engaging and challenging science curriculum that was:
Hands – on
Experiments he could do independently.
Interesting and fun!
With so many requests I knew I had to find the best curriculum that would work for him and myself because I had my own set of requirements.
Easy lesson planning
I looked around and then I came across BookShark Science Level D and I was blown away by what I read and saw in the package. I had heard of BookShark, but I didn’t know a lot about the company until I started researching the science.
Who isBookShark ?
BookShark is a literature-based multi-subject homeschool curriculum company. Their curriculum is secular and they follow all the state standards. Their leveled curriculum covers a three-year age span. With the 3 years, age-span families can find it helpful that they can use the same curriculum for all their students within those ages.
BookSharkScience Level D ages 8-11
BookShark Science is a literature-based science that uses engaging and recent book resources to spark the love of science in budding scientists. BookShark Science follows the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). What makes the BookShark homeschool science curriculum unique is the company gives you everything you need in one package. Unlike many homeschool science curricula, BookShark Science is a secular science curriculum. I know what you are thinking, not another box curriculum with a ton of books and materials that need a lot of prepping.
BookShark’s Science curriculum combines a hands-on and literature based approach that is engaging and fun! Students will focus on three to four topics per year and gain in-depth knowledge of subjects including Geology, Meteorology, Physics, Biology, Animals, Electricity, Human Anatomy, Chemistry, Astronomy and more!
BookShark Science Level D is for ages 8-11 so this will work well if you have more than one student that fits in that age range and you can do the lessons family style. You will receive:
Classic BookShark D-binder
10 Literature- Based Books
Experiment book and kit
You will find prepping your BookShark Science Level D requires minimal prepping. The instructor guide includes 36 weekly student activities sheets and schedules, you will need to purchase another set of student activities sheets if you are working with more than one student. The instructor guide is easy to read and follow.
Bookshark Science understand kids , because they dont repeat the same kind of lesson they put a different spin on things!
BookShark Science recommends that you work with a working binder. The working binder is for your daily use of the lessons. It is suggested that you pull four weeks of student activity sheets and place them in the binder. When I pull the activity sheets I also pull the experiment recording sheets that are printed on sturdy card stock and experiment materials from the kit.
Let’s talk about storage. I keep the BookShark D-binder and books in a cube storage unit and the experiment kit in a latchmate box, but you could keep the items in the sturdy box the materials come in! I store all of these in a cube on our shelf, and his working binder is on our homeschool cart along with the books for that week’s BookShark Level D.
BookShark Science Level D works on a 4 days a week schedule. The fourth day is for experiments, the curriculum gives you the flexibility to work at your own pace. The 5th is suggested for field trips, exploring that week’s topic further, or just a day off. On our 5th day, we play games and find extension activities on that week’s topic.
I like the Bookshark Science because it has topics that actually interest me and I can do the lesson on my own!
The schedule tells you what book you are reading, pages, and what questions from the activity sheet exercise for that day. The schedule also tells you what materials you need for the experiment kit and what you need to prepare for the next week. You will also find vocabulary words on the schedule – don’t skip over this part because these words show up in the reading. I decided to have my son keep a science notebook, in his notebook are the vocabulary words and anything he found of interest from that week’s lesson.
The experiment kit is probably one of my favorite items in BookShark Science Level D because of the convenience. When we were winging it, I was always scrambling to purchase something at the last minute or skipping the experiments altogether because the materials were hard to find. . Now I am able to just pull the needed materials out of the kit, and my son can start his experiments. The kit is so well labeled, that even my son can pull the necessary materials by himself. EThe BookShark Science Level D experiment book has easy-to-follow instructions with illustrations. You know how you may do experiments with your kids and you’re not 100% sure of the “Why”? BookShark Science Level D has you covered with objectives, questions, and conclusions. Students will encounter projects that require them to use all of their five senses, engineering, art skills, logic, and critical thinking skills.
Currently, we are moving into Week 9 – Sea Animals; during the first 7 weeks, we learned about food chains, animal adaptations, wolves ecosystems, animal adaptations, living things, characteristics of animals, ocean, and coral reefs. Can you believe we covered all of these topics in-depth and it has only been 7 weeks?! BookShark Science Level D also allows you to go down rabbit holes that have
During October, we took a break off from homeschooling for 2 weeks, but he insisted on doing science. BookShark Science Level D has found a place in our home and we look forward to finishing up Level D and next year starting Level E. My son was so impressed he asked me are all of their subjects this much fun and if so can we get those also? With all the planning done for me including the books, experiment supplies, student activity sheets included, I can spend the time I would spend agonizing over what to do for science, enjoying our weekend as a family.
My favorite book is Bringing Back the Wolves! Who knew that wolves had such a impact on the ecosystem!
At the time of the review, the cost of BookShark Science Level D is $250.94 plus tax and shipping. The virtual access is an add-on for $50. I find the cost of BookShark Science Level D very reasonable for 36 weeks of lesson plans, activity sheets, science kits, and books. The cost breaks down to $6.97 a week. If you are looking to try out a lesson the company offers a 3- week sample lesson on their website. BookShark offers generous freebies on their website such as the new Volcano Unit. The company has great customer service. Support team, and you can request a catalog.
We received the October box from Owl Crate Jr if you aren’t familiar with the Owl Crate Jr is a monthly box subscription for middle-grade readers ages 8-12 years. Each box is carefully crafted with a customized book cover sleeve just for Owl Crate Jr subscribers.
October’s Owl Crate Jr box theme is the Science is Magic. The book of the month is a signed copy of Amira & Hamza The War to Save the Worlds by Samira Ahmed. Inside this wonderful magical box includes hands-on activities for your reader related to the monthly theme.
On the day of a rare super blue blood moon eclipse, twelve-year-old Amira and her little brother, Hamza, can’t stop their bickering while attending a special exhibit on medieval Islamic astronomy. While stargazer Amira is wowed by the amazing gadgets, a bored Hamza wanders off, stumbling across the mesmerizing and forbidden Box of the Moon. Amira can only watch in horror as Hamza grabs the defunct box and it springs to life, setting off a series of events that could shatter their world—literally.
“The Wild Robot” inspired book accessory designed by @shaferbrown
His Dark Materials Compass Enamel Pin
The Magic School Bus lanyard
Science is Magic Monthly Magazine (inlcudes a science exiperiment)
Science is Magic monthly collectible sticker
Bookplate with letter from the author to your Owl Crate Jr Reader
Wrinkle in Time Umbrella
The monthly magazine includes an October box photo challenge, Owl Crate Jr readers can perform 6 challenges in chances they can win 1 of 6 free boxes. They can upload the pictures to their parent’s Instagram accounts and tag @owlcratejr.
We were sent two Owl Crate Jr boxes. The company sent us the January 2021 box that theme was Inner Magic and the book of the month was Amari and the Night Brothers, which we happen to be in the midst of finishing up. The January box encourages healthy self-image-building activities.
Owl Crate Jr box subscriptions are a good way to make reading magical. The themes we received were beautifully crafted with lots of learning opportunities. I also looked over the previous month’s books and discovered they have a diverse collection of book titles each month which is gladly appreciated. However, their social media pages don’t reflect that same diversity of children and families. Owl Crate Jr’s website is inviting and has a community blog for Owl Crate Jr and Owlcrate 14+. You can compare boxes on their website to see which box best works for your reader. I did poke around on the Owl Crate Jr shop I love all the extra book goodies they have. I am going to purchase a few of their teas for our monthly tea and chat times.
One of the things I find unique about Owl Crate Jr is its attention to detail. The Owl Crate Jr boxes make reading an adventure and not just words on pages. If you have a reluctant reader aged 8-12 Owl Crate Jr box is perfect for them. You use the monthly books as read-aloud or an independent read, we happened to be reading the Amari and the Night Brothers book already when the October Owl Crate Jr and my son are completely engulfed in this book and we will be moving on to the Amira & Hamza The War to Save the Worlds book soon. My son saw the “Dragons” in next month’s Owl Crate Jr box he is begging me to get him the November box also! Of course, I said yes because I am thrilled he wants to keep reading more novels.
Owl Crate Jr boxes are $29.99 a month, the company offers several different subscriptions option. The Owl Crate Jr box is for middle-grade readers ages 8-12 years. The boxes ship between the 15th and 20th of the month. You can purchase past Owl Crate Jr boxes in the shop. I have signed me little up for a subscription after receiving these 2 boxes complimentary so be on the lookout for updates on our instagram.
The Periodic: Game of The Elements is a great way to introduce the periodic table to your budding chemist. My son has a little knowledge of the elements but not much and he has recently shown interest in learning them. Periodic: Game of The Elements is for students ages 10+ , 2-5 players, and gameplay is 40-60 mins. The game board is sturdy and the elements are in bright colors. Players will move around the board using 1 of the 5 Erlenmeyer Flask as they research and learn the elements and their atomic numbers.
The goal of the game is to move along the periodic table and collect elements in order to score goal cards. Periodic: Game of The Elements is a strategic game and you have to plan your moves so you can complete goal cards for points. The game has two game movements one is moving your flask around the table and the second movement is moving your microscope around the board and completing your secret agenda cards for extra points. Players also have to decide on how to spend or gain energy to activate trends. The person with the most points wins the game. Periodic: Game of The Elements comes with 172 small pieces, 1 game board, and a rule book.
I really like this game for teaching the elements and their atomic mass. The game offers a great lesson in teaching students about protons and neutrons. The goal cards have different combinations of elements on them and what they become when combined. on the back of the Periodic: Game of The Elements box, you will find a QR scan that makes it easy to retrieve the rules of the game and video of game play.
Periodic: Game of The Elements does has had a lot of moveable parts and does require a certain level of mental play, and logic skills. This game is defiantly for older kiddos I highly recommend it for kids ages 12+. There are a lot of rules to remember and follow to be successful at the game. My son did find it a little confusing as we played the game but, I decided to scale the game back a little for him. We only did the primary movements of the game. Keep in mind my son is just 1 month shy of being 9 years old and he has a strong background in science. He really likes the game board, learning the table as well looking over the goal cards, and researching. We just tweaked the game little for him, I also had a little trouble following the gameplay rules, but the video was very helpful.