littleBits ~ Review and Giveaway

littleBits Electronics Review

I have always been intimidated by electronics.  When littleBits contacted me about sponsoring our blog and having us review a kit I was a bit apprehensive mostly due to my silly fears.  My husband was exactly opposite and was SO excited about the opportunity! I am so glad we listened to him and weren’t guided by my fear of electronics because this kit is just incredible and my kids absolutely love it.

We were sent the Deluxe Kit for review, which has everything you see below. This is the kit you can enter to WIN at the end of this post!

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What exactly is littleBits?

littleBits is a simple way to learn and invent with electronics.  There is a vast module library and the modules snap together with magnets so it’s impossible to make a mistake. The library has over 60 modules and growing. Every module works with every other in millions of combinations, you’ll never run out of things to make.

I must be really honesty with you.  Since this kit has a higher price tag, we “hid” it from the boys, only allowing them to get it down when they asked.  This was a BIG mistake.  After about a month I was a bit hesitant to write our review and asked my husband for his thoughts.  I was concerned that the boys didn’t seem drawn to it and we concluded that possibly that was our fault for hiding it.  We didn’t intentionally keep it out of their sight, but had it in my husband’s office.  Out of sight, out of mind.  The boys had just forgotten we had it. 

After that realization, we put the kit out on the table, gave some guidelines for free exploration and then just left it.  Someone has had their hands in this kit almost every moment since then.

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Our kids are 6, 9 and 13.  Our younger daughter loved watching and interacting with things the older kids built, but she doesn’t build with it yet.  The age recommendation is 8 and up and I agree with that. 

 

Our 9 Year Old’s Creations…

Krash just turned 9 and could follow the guide by himself and learned the basics quickly. He is our guide book follower.  He has always been this way and proved it again.  After some teaching from Daddy, we let him loose and soon he was coming in to show us what he had created all following the guide book.

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He made the spin and shake sign project…

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My favorite was definitely the handshake buzzer!

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See him get his little sister here in this video!

 

The last creation I caught on camera before writing this was the tickler. 

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He used it to dust the table.

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A 13 Year Old’s Creations…

My 13 year old is the more free spirited creator.  He ignores most guide books and just wants to figure it out on his own.  He created his own things, only referring to the guide book if necessary {very little}. 

This is his drawing machine.  He added Legos in to create a vehicle that would draw lines.

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See the drawing machine in action here!

 

The pom pom tosser

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Here’s the pom pom tosser in action

 

Final thoughts…

I am SO thankful we were offered this kit to review.  My boys are now both begging for additional kits so they can build more. As a parent, the price is hard to swallow if I’m being honest. I have never looked into small electronics like this for my kids, so although the price tag seems a bit high to me, it may be totally normal for something like this. However, the creativity I have seen and the idea that my kids very well may not fear electronics like I have is worth it. I love that both of my boys can use this now and my daughter will be able to use it soon. It’s a long term investment.

 

The Giveaway!

littleBits is giving one of our readers a Deluxe Kit, just like we were given for our review!

This is the biggest kit littleBits makes with 18 powerful modules. Whether you’re a professional designer or just getting started with electronics, Deluxe Kit gives you the flexibility you need to make big, powerful projects. No soldering, wiring, or programming required!

littleBits Review and Giveaway

Enter to win using Rafflecopter below, US address only. Giveaway ends June 6, 2015.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Homeschool Lesson Planning Made Simple

We were given a subscription to Lessontrek for review last year and I never stopped using it!  When we were first given access, I liked it, mostly because of the color coding…that is right up my alley!  As we moved along I got more comfortable with the features and then I really liked it.  Now, after using it this entire school year, I can’t imagine not using it next year!  It really is such a great fit for us!

Homeschool Lesson Planning with Lessontrek

I use and love Lessontrek for our homeschool lesson planning and think many of you will love it too!  I have an awesome discount for you and even an extended FREE trial period so all of you can give it a shot and see if it’s a good fit for you! Lessontrek stayed on after our initial review as a blog sponsor and I work with Jason {the developer} to share Lessontrek with my readers! We truly hope this discount and the extended free trial offer help you out!

You can see our original review {and more details} here

Lessontrek Online Homeschool Planner Review

New Features…

Since our original review, Lessontrek has added new features!  I am super excited they now have a transcript feature in plenty of time for me to use with my kids!  There’s also a new gradebook feature.  I haven’t tested these out personally but will be using them in the future.  Here’s a screenshot from the transcript creating page, so you can see how simple it is!  You enter in the info and it pops out a beautiful transcript for your homeschooled student!

Transcript Lessontrek 1Transcript Lessontrek 2

A Peek Inside…

I made a quick video to show you some of my favorite features in action and how we use the printable plans.

Want to try it for FREE?

Give it a test drive for 3 months {the normal free trial period is 2 weeks} using referral code: OPO3.

Click on the “14 Day Free Trial” and enter the referral code and it will upgrade you to 3 months for free instead of 14 days!



ImaginativeU ~ Monthly FUN

ImaginativeU Giveaway ends 5.28.15

{disclaimer ~ ImaginativeU is a blog sponsor and we received kits free of charge for this review}

ImaginativeU is a monthly box of fun learning delivered right to your door, for your child age 4-10. Each month has a different theme and each kit contains all the supplies and instructions included to complete 3 to 6 interactive projects. When I say ALL supplies, I mean all.  Other than things that can’t possibly be sent in the box, it’s all in there. ImaginativeU was developed by Shelley, a former science teacher who now works with K-12 science teachers in 16 school districts! 

We were sent 2 kits {Cool Science and Eggs} to review and I was blown away by the contents!

The Eggs kit couldn’t have come at a better time for us.  We have a bird obsession going on around here so we really dove into this kit! We had SO much fun with the activities in this kit, which you will see below, and we even have one more we haven’t done yet {egg dissection}!

We made bird houses out of gourds, which YES were included!  Along with the paint, brushes, plates for the paint…everything!  My little bird lover LOVED this and her gourd now hangs in our tree out front!

Bird House Gourds from ImaginativeU

 

We made egg baskets together, which was really messy on the front end, you can see her “grossed out” face in the collage below as she was wrapping the balloon!  She let me finish it right after that photo was taken!  These turned out perfectly and she LOVES her egg!

Egg Baskets from ImaginativeU

 

Something as simple as a chicken catalog and a “Did You Know?” search through it provided so much fun and discussion.  She loved finding the different chickens and eggs, as well as cutting out her favorites.

Did you Know Chicken Investigation from ImaginativeU

 

The egg drop challenge was enjoyed by all three kids {ages 5, 8, 12}. Krash was at gymnastics practice during the other activities but I knew I had to save this one for when he was home!

Egg Drop Challenge from ImaginativeU

The kids worked hard to protect their eggs, it was fun!  I even took a few videos so you could see the process!

 

    Next, the Cool Science Kit…
    Before diving into this one, I took a picture of the contents to show you how much is included. Literally everything you need to do all of the activities included.  We still haven’t completed all of the activities from this box yet! It was all there and very well organized.  I had no trouble finding exactly what we needed for each activity.
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      The kids LOVED the UV beads and making slime with me! We still have several activities to do from this kit. Here’s a peek into our science fun together…
      Cool Science with ImaginativeU

    Want to sign up?

    This is a US only based company, shipping rates for kits vary from state to state. You can  sign up for a subscription here and what the shipping cost would be for your state.

    See upcoming kits on the home page!


    The Giveaway!

    ImaginativeU Facebook Giveaway

    The winner will receive a 3-month subscription to ImaginativeU. A kit will arrive each month that contains all of the materials and instructions needed to complete fun and educational projects centered around a topic.  A homeschool add on is available for homeschoolers, winner can request this upgrade free of charge.

    Giveaway is open to US residents only and ends 5-28-15. Use Rafflecopter to enter to win below!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway



    Balance Bike Giveaway

    I am so excited to welcome our sponsor, Balance Bike Town and share our thoughts and experiences with our personal balance bike.  We also have an AMAZING balance bike giveaway, so be sure to keep reading!

    Balance Bike Giveaway

    We got our first balance bike many years ago, when Krash was 3.  It was a Strider bike and we were in love instantly. He was a quick learner, was zooming around quickly, and then transitioned to a pedal bike when he was 4.  He never used training wheels and was pedaling within minutes of trying for the first time.  We were in shock after teaching our oldest son traditionally {with training wheels and no balance bike}.

    Balance Bike

    When Ladybug got old enough we had already passed on our orange Strider bike to a great friend and we got her a pink one!  She was slower to get the hang of it, not really enjoying the Strider bike until she was 4 1/2 but she also learned to ride a pedal bike within minutes when she first tried at age 5 1/2.  Again, we had the exact same experience, she hopped on and began pedaling and never used training wheels. 

    Balance Bike

    Having the balance bike for our two younger kids when they were little was such a blessing.  I wasn’t so convinced about the benefit until I watched both of them ride a pedal bike with such ease.  I am a firm believer and recommend a balance bike to anyone with a young toddler!  Get them started scooting around on a balance bike early!

    Balance Bike

     

    Balance Bike Town not only carries Strider bikes, they carry all sort of balance bikes, and they have a price guarantee!  Be sure to look for the live chat option if you need help selecting the right bike for your child.

    Free shipping, a 10% discount code for my readers {code: 10plus}, and a price guarantee ~ you can’t beat that!

    Balance Bike Discount

     

    For one of you, this is going to be really exciting!  Balance Bike Town is giving one of our readers a balance bike of your choice valued at $150 or less!  I am so excited to know one of you will be blessed in this fun way!

    Balance Bike Giveaway FB

    Balance Bike Town has just started their Facebook page so be sure to like them and learn more about balance bikes and stay up on their current offers!

    Giveaway is only open to 48 contiguous US States, and ends 12/5/14. Enter below using the Rafflecopter widget.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway



    Gift Idea for Everyone with Kids!

    Do you have kids?  Have grandkids?  Have friends with kids?  Teach kids?  Care for Kids?

    I have a great gift idea for you!

    150  Screen-Free Activities for Kids DIY Gift Basket

    {disclaimer ~ I was sent the book free of charge to review}

    The new book, 150+ Screen Free Activities for Kids,  from Asia of Fun at Home with Kids is simply awesome. The book alone would make an incredible gift, or you can get SUPER fun and create a gift basket with supplies to go along with the book. Asia provides ideas here on her blog, and there’s a page in the Amazon preview sharing the 15 items recommended for a gift basket or a simple get-started list. I compiled many of them here for you to glance through.

    150+ Screen Free Activities for Kids contains ~

    • 50% all NEW activities never before featured on Asia’s blog.  It also contains favorites from the blog!
    • 120 activities can be completed using items found at a regular grocery store.
    • Most of the activities were designed to encourage multi-age/sibling play. 
    • All activities are coded and marked with allergy codes to make things easier for those of you with kids who have allergies.

    The book is divided into 7 sections, each section contains multiple ideas!

    • How to Use the Book
    • Slimes
    • Doughs
    • Paints
    • Small World Play
    • Simple Sensory Activities
    • Do-It-Yourself Toys

    We have already done many of Asia’s ideas, but when I presented the book to my daughter who is 5, she immediately saw the image on the front cover of the Frog World and wanted to make that, she loves frogs and water. 

    Frog World Play

    I must be honest and tell you that the night she asked wasn’t a night I really wanted to dye water blue and cut out foam lily pads.  It had been a long emotional day and I was tired.  But, I said yes.  It didn’t take me long to set both of my kids up with their frog worlds and it gave me about an hour of peace as they played. 

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    They both went on to play with the bins again the next day. The effort I put in at the beginning proved to be totally worth it in the end.

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    Sometimes I am super creative on my own and other times I feel my brain is dead and completely emptied of all things creative.  Asia’s book is a reminder that it doesn’t take much to do something creative like this.

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    My kids are 5, 8, and 12. The 5 and 8 year old played with the Frog World, extensively. The 12 year old wasn’t home that night but probably would have joined them. My 12 year old has looked through the book and found many ideas he wants to try. It really is a book for a VERY wide age range.

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    It is a recipe book for me.  An easy tool to pull off of the shelf to stimulate my thinking and give me the idea and the recipe all in one place.  I am so thankful to Asia for taking the time to write this and know it will bless many people out there, including me!

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    See more here ~

    This awesome book is available worldwide, most of my readers will happily find it on Amazon, there’s a link here to Amazon