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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Tyndale Rewards

Who doesn't like free books, audio books, and bibles?

With Tyndale Rewards you can have the opportunity to earn points to redeem free products. It is so easy to earn points. I have been signed up for a couple of months and right away I had enough points to get Focus on the Family's Radio Theatre Les Miserables. It was totally free, I didn't even have to pay shipping!

You can earn points right away by completing surveys about bibles, e-readers, joining birthday & Focus Clubs, sharing Tyndale Rewards with friends and on social media, and by reviewing Tyndale Products.

You will receive 25 points right away for just signing up! And I will receive 10 points for each person who signs up with my link!

Once you sign up you can get 10 points from anyone who signs up with your unique link.

You even get a free gift on your birthday!! How cool is that?

They offer a wide variety of free product that is continually changing. There are fiction & nonfiction books for adults & kids, bibles, parenting books, and audio CDs to redeem your points on.

Every time I log into Tyndale Rewards I start out by looking to see if there are any new ways to earn points.

What are you waiting for? Sign up and start earning free books today.

Disclaimer: I am promoting Tyndale Rewards with FlyBy Promotions for a chance to win a Kindle. No compensation was received and I was already a member of Tyndale Rewards before this opportunity came up.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Purex Insiders Application #PurexInsiders

Disclaimer: As a member of Purex Insiders I am promoting the program to get the word out to bloggers who may want to join. I will be entered in a drawing but no other compensation was received. 

Join the Purex Insiders
Do you like to try new products and blog about them? 
Do you want to receive exclusive offers? 
Would you like to connect with other bloggers? 

Then maybe you should become a Purex Insider

I have been a Purex Insider for a year. I have gotten to try some wonderful new products that I may not have tried other wise & I get to share them with you.

Now is your chance! 
Purex Insiders is accepting applications. 

Circle Time Schoolhouse Review #hsreveiws

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We have tried many different schedules for our school over the years. The one that seems to work the best is when we do all of our subjects that involve everyone first and then the kids move on to their independent work. Kendra Fletcher from Preschoolers and Peace shows how to incorporate all ages in a learning time in her book Circle Time: Plan the Best Part of Your Day.
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Circle Time: Plan the Best Part of Your Day is a 33 page e-book available for $4.99. It will help you plan a Circle Time that will work for you, strategies for a peaceful time together, and tips on how to get your kids on board for this. There are questions from other moms, and words of wisdom from moms who do Circle Time, plus resources, activities, ideas, and planner sheets.

Kendra started her Circle Time as a way to gather all of the children together for prayer & bible reading before starting their day. She has her Circle Time right after breakfast so the kids have a fresh mind and are eager to participate. Over the years she has added more items to their Circle Time & it has become her families favorite time of the day as they all learn together.

Circle Time suggests things that you can include in your own Circle Time that will benefit all ages of kids & how to expand it to include older children. There are 2 sample schedules that you can use for your own Circle Time. One is for a full load during the school year and another one is for the summer months. There are also forms included that will help you get your Circle Time organized, so you won't forget something that you want to cover. There are also suggestions on how to keep your memory work, and prayer requests organized.

Most of our homeschool years we have completed our learning together time first thing in the morning & like Kendra it is our favorite time of the day. We just didn't have a name for ours. We also have another family time in the evening because when my teenagers were still at home they worked early morning hours and the younger kids weren't up yet. Our evening time is usually just devotions & a read aloud. Our morning time is more school related work & review items that include everyone. Now that I no longer have little kids running around our time together has increased. I have 8, 11, & 12 year old girls still at home. We start with things that include all three of them & then we save things that my 11 & 12 year old work on together last. That way Alaina can color or draw quietly while she listens to the older girls items. This way she is still learning with the rest of us, but she isn't terribly bored.

Circle Time contains a wealth of information that I wish I could have read when my oldest started school. It took me years of trial and error to figure out a system that worked for our family & this could have been a big help. I agree with Kendra about having your babies & toddlers sit quietly on your lap during part of the Circle Time. This way they not only learn to sit and listen at home, but when you are out some where they need to be still they have already been taught to do this. Our church doesn't have a children's church or a nursery, so we would practice sitting still and being quiet or doing quiet things for an hour at a time. This way they could easily sit through an entire church service.
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Kendra has been married for 21 years and homeschools her 8 children. She started Preschooler and Peace because she has always homeschooled with preschoolers around. She wants to share some tips she has learned along the way and wants to encourage you on your homeschool journey.

Circle Time will look different for every family, and Circle Time: Plan the BEST Part of Your Homeschool Day is a great resource to get you started or give you knew ideas.

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Monday, July 29, 2013

Wedding Cake and Weight Lifting Groom's Cake

I have been decorating cakes for a long time. Probably 99.9% of them have smooth icing and all of the wedding cakes I have made had some kind of topper. The young lady who ordered this cake wanted it textured with nothing on the top. I used buttercream icing with fondant flowers. It was exactly what she wanted and she loved the finished product. 

The groom owns his own gym, so the bride wanted to surprise him with a fishing & weight set groom's cake. She wanted it to be chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream. She wanted an Olympic weight set & something to do with fishing.

 I used fondant to make the weight set and the fish. Then I painted them with food coloring. The bride was very impressed with the finished product. 

The cakes were for an outdoor wedding and once I got there to set up it was so hot they didn't want any food outside until right before serving time. That just means I don't have a nice picture of the cake table. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

KidCoder Visual Basic Schoolhouse Review #hsreviews

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Amber loves to be on the computer. She wants to start her own blog and has been loving Homeschool Programming Inc.

Homeschool Programming offers several programs to teach kids and teens how to write computer programs, games, and Android apps. We received KidCoder Visual Basic Series to review. The first semester covers Windows Programming and the second semester cover Game Programming. It is recommended for kids in 6-8 grades and can be purchased together for $120 or each one can be purchased separately for $70. The cost for both semesters and the optional videos are $145. The free Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Express is required to complete this program. The textbook is taught directly to the student and no prior knowledge of computer programming is required.

We received PDF files for KidCoder Windows Programming and for KidCoder Game Programming. We added our PDF files to our Kindle Fire, so Amber could easily read what she needed to do and still see her computer screen full size.

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The KidCoder Windows Programming PDF is a 213 page student textbook. It consists of 13 chapter with 3 or 4 lessons, chapter review, and applications for most chapters. 
  • Chapter 1 ~ Introduction to Computers
  • Chapter 2 ~ Get Your Feet Wet
  • Chapter 3 ~ Exploring Visual Basic Programs
  • Chapter 4 ~ Data Types and Variables
  • Chapter 5 ~Basic Flow Control
  • Chapter 6 ~ Getting User Input
  • Chapter 7 ~ Working with Numbers
  • Chapter 8 ~ Working with Strings
  • Chapter 9 ~ Using the Debugger
  • Chapter 10 ~ Loops in Programs
  • Chapter 11 ~ Functions
  • Chapter 12 ~ Arrays and Structures
  • Chapter 13 ~ Distributing Your Programs
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The KidCoder Game Programming is a 238 page Student Textbook. There are 14 Chapters with 3-6 lessons per chapter with chapter reviews and applications.
  • Chapter 1 ~ Getting Started
  • Chapter 2 ~ Game Design
  • Chapter 3 ~ Drawing on the Screen
  • Chapter 4 ~ User Input
  • Chapter 5 ~ Graphics in Visual Basic
  • Chapter 6 ~ Images & Animation
  • Chapter 7 ~ Sprites
  • Chapter 8 ~ Game Logic
  • Chapter 9 ~ Sound
  • Chapter 10 ~Artificial Intelligence
  • Chapter 11 ~ Saving Your Games
  • Chapter 12 ~ Game Physics
  • Chapter 13 ~ Drawing Text and Printing
  • Chapter 14 ~ Final Project

Amber is 12 and is going into the eighth grade and has been using this program. She already had some computer programming knowledge, so she is almost finished with the first semester, Windows Programming, and she can’t wait to start working on the gaming.

I helped her get started and then she worked pretty much on her own. There were a few places where she wasn’t quite sure what to do, she said she thought it could be explained a little clearer.
Windows Programming starts out with a little history lesson of computers and how they have changed. The hardware, software, and language of computers is also discussed. Then we are instructed how to download the Microsoft Visual Studio  and are shown how it is set up. Amber didn't need to watch the optional video segments, but if your child is more of a visual learner they may benefit from them.

Not only does Amber like working on this program she was having fun with it too. She created a pop-up window that said “Hello Alaina” with a button that said “click here”. When she clicked it she was given the same “Hello Alaina” 15 times & then the last one said “It is time to read stories!”

Amber has learned so much about computer language already and I feel this program is inspiring her to want to learn more.

The Schoolhouse Review Crew received several products form Homeschool Programming. Sail over to the Crew Bog to read about those products.
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Monday, July 22, 2013

Christi the Coupon Coach Molly Crew Review

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I am always looking for a good deal & when I go to certain stores I have my coupon or phone app ready before I ever get there. I just finished reading Couponing Made Simple to fuel my love of finding a deal.

Couponing Made Simple is a 64 page softcover book available for $18.00 and the ebook is $4.99. Christi the Coupon Coach teaches us how to save money by using coupons for most of our purchases. This book is divided into 10 chapters:
  • Chapter 1 ~ Success Stories
  • Chapter 2 ~ A New Way to Shop
  • Chapter 3 ~ The Language of Couponing
  • Chapter 4 ~ Organization System
  • Chapter 5 ~ Step-by-Step Process
  • Chapter 6 ~ Tips & Tools
  • Chapter 7 ~ Couponing Ethics
  • Chapter 8 ~ Networking & Communicating
  • Chapter 9 ~ Bonus Section
  • Chapter 10 ~ Beyond Couponing
Christi is not an extreme couponer, she is a busy mom just like the rest of us. In her book she teaches how to spend your money wisely as simple as possible without spending too much extra time. If you have access to several newspapers with coupons it may take a little time at first to get organized and get in the hang of couponing, but once you get the hang of her system it is very quick and simple to continue. The success stories she shares are phenomenal, but not impossible to obtain.

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The book is very easy to understand and to implement even if your selections are limited. I live in a small town with only a couple grocery stores and no coupon section in our local paper. Since I do not have access to coupons in our paper I didn’t implement the large Organization System. I just searched online for coupons and looked for the ones available at the store and stored them in a small portable file folder.

A Walgreens just opened in the last couple of years and they are very good place to use coupons. After reading Couponing Made Simple I headed to Walgreens. My girls were heading to youth camp and one of them needed deodorant and they wanted some gum. We eat mostly home made items for breakfast, so my girls really like when I buy them cereal. Walgreens had cereal on sale, plus I had a coupon, and I received a store rewards credit. I actually made 2 purchases that day. I bought 2 boxes of cereal, 4 deodorants, and 3 packages of gum. Then when I received my store rewards I had an additional coupon for cereal we bought 3 more boxes. My girls love the popcorn shirts & Walgreens has a good deal on them when they have them, so I grabbed 2 of them also.
I spent $26.26.
I saved $29.63.
That is a 53.5% savings.
I think I did pretty good for my first time & $10.00 was spent on the girls shirts.

Christi is a wife and mother of 4 kids who wants to be a good steward of God’s money. At one time she thought she was doing good by purchasing the generic brands, but then realized she could save more buying name brand items. Shopping is now an adventure and a game for Christi and her pantry is full for her family.

Couponing does work & Christi the Coupon Coach explains her saving tips very well. The success stories are tremendous and I will continue using as many coupons as I possible can.

Thank You Christi for your knowledge of saving money.
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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Picaboo Yearbooks Schoolhouse Review #hsreviews

When we first found out about getting a Picaboo Yearbook to review I thought it would be fun to work on this with all three of my girls. As soon as we got started Delaney decided she wanted to take the whole thing over herself.
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Picaboo is an online yearbook program with no minimum order & only a 3 week turnaround. We received the 8 1/2 X 11 softcover Yearbook with 20 pages. I was very surprised to see that this yearbook is only $8.49 with a free eYearbook. Shipping starts at $8.99 for one book and only $.99 for each additional one.

I logged in and started our yearbook. I had chosen the background for the cover and wrote our school name & year when Delaney came into the room. She wanted to know what I was doing & wanted to know if she could help. I moved & she sat down to find a photo for our cover & when I came back she had already started working on another page.

We had 20 pages to work with, so I helped Delaney decide what we should include in our book. Here we have the sections of our entire book. We wanted to do a two page layout for each sections, so we ended up with 12 sections. We had the Cover, Misc. 1, Amber, Delaney, Alaina, Amber's Music, Delaney's Music, Alaina's Music, Trips, Family, and Misc 2. Our Misc. pages only have one page because inside the front and back cover is left blank. You can also rearrange the sections until you lock them in place.

After deciding what our section were going to be Delaney searched the computer for pictures from this past school year. Each of our sections have an image file, so she uploaded a lot of images to each file.

Delaney decided she would ask her sister what background they wanted on each of their pages. There are over 10,000 backgrounds to choose from, so this process probably took the longest. After selecting the background you can use a template to arrange the photos or place them yourself. Photos can also be edited directly in the layout. They can be changed to black & white, sepia, fix red eye, add borders and shapes. After Delaney added her pictures she added her text boxes. The text can be changed in font, size, change alignment, and background color. Once you have your photos or text boxes you can move them around until you are happy with your layout. Stickers are next, who doesn't like stickers? Delaney searched the 23 categories of stickers until she found exactly what she was looking for.

Any time you want to see all of the pages you can use the Birdseye view. This allows you to see every layout on one page. You can also look at a full screen print preview of each 2 page layout. 

Each section must be locked before you can order your yearbook. Don't worry if you forget they will tell you when you try to order your book.

Delaney worked on our yearbook from one computer, but you can also have a yearbook team. You can allow anyone to contribute photos, and you assign sections for each team member to complete. We didn't do it, but you can add QR Codes to your printed pages. It doesn't cost anything to use the Picaboo website. You can login and start making your yearbook right now & then purchase it when you are finished. After you have made a purchase you will also receive your free eYearbook.

This is Delaney's favorite layout in our yearbook.

Each girl has a two page layout that just has random photos of themselves. Delaney also added a list of favorites to all three of the layouts. She included favorite school subject, food, songs, instruments, etc. 

Music is a favorite pass time for my girls so they each have another layout that includes the instruments they play or are learning to play. 

My two oldest kids have already graduated from our homeschool, but Delaney thought they still needed to be included in our yearbook. She included a picture of when Morgan came to visit, one when Michael came to visit, one of all of us together, and one with her aunts, uncles, and cousins from a family reunion. 

We love our yearbook! We were very surprised at how nice it turned out. It is very professional quality & we are planning on making one every year. Delaney is already talking about what things we should include in our next one & she is planning on working on layouts as soon as they happen. She wants to make sure we take first day of school pics for our 2013-2014 yearbook, so she can get started right away.

There are also tutorial videos if you need help or some inspiration. I love to scrapbook and I wasn't so sure I would like to complete a yearbook instead of a scrapbook until we got started. It was so easy, we didn't make a mess & when we were done working for the day we just logged out.

Delaney is 11 and she needed very little help from me & she learned a lot. She learned how to upload pictures, basic photo editing, layout design, and creativity. She also had fun, I didn't have to tell her to work on it, she wanted to.

I'm thinking these would make great gifts for the grandparents who live far away, it would give them a glimpse of how our school year is done.

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

25 Truths from Ed Douglas Schoolhouse Review #hsreviews

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I feel there are certain things that we all want our children to know. Some things they catch just by the way we live our lives in front of them, but some things need to be discussed so that they know why they are important and why they should apply them to their lives. I have been reading 25 Truths: Life Principles of the Happiest and Most Successful Among Us from Ed Douglas Publications that covers several things I want my girls to know.
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25 Truths is a 5 X 7 softcover book with 150 pages. It is recommended for kids grade 6-12 and can be purchased for $12.50 from Ed Douglas Publications. It covers 25 truths that can build our character and values based on Christian principles. Ed Douglas hopes that this book can be a tool to change the character of the world one person at a time. Each truth is written in just a few pages with discussion questions after each one. The truths cover character, values, dealing with others, faith, family, mental and physical health, happiness, making a difference in the world & other practical life principles.

I read 25 Truths myself and have been discussing them with my girls ages 8, 11, & 12. Each truth is short and easy to read and understand. Real life stories, events, bible verses, and quotes are used to illustrate the object lesson of each truth. The questions at the end don’t really have room to answer them in the book, but you could easily answer them on a separate piece of paper. I wanted to discuss the answers with my girls, so I would read each section first and then I would read or explain it to my girls and then we would discuss the questions together. Most of the questions have several parts and do a great job at prompting discussions.

Some of the truths we have taught our kids their whole lives in our day to day lives, but it doesn't hurt to go over them again. And explain to them exactly why they are important and why they should apply them to their lives. I hadn’t thought to talk to my girls about their Reputation, Seeing the Glass as Half Full and Never Surrendering. We all have bad days and I definitely needed to read Make Every Day Your Best Day.

This little book contains so much information & every day stories that everyone could benefit from reading it regardless of how old you are. There are even Truths that young kids should start implementing in their lives as well. I also think they will make great discussions for Sunday School class.

Ed Douglas is a retired business man. 25 Truths: Life Principles of the Happiest and Most Successful Among Us is his third book. He is a Certified Financial Planner and operates Ed Douglas Certified Financial Planning/Consulting he also gives financial seminars to adults and students.

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GoldTown Adventures Schoolhouse Review #hsreviews

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We are always on the lookout for a  good series to read and awhile back we read several books from the Circle C Beginnings series by Susan K. Marlow. We just finished reading Tunnel of Gold which is the second book in her new Goldtown Adventures series.
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In Tunnel of Gold we get to experience life in a gold town through the eyes of 12 year old Jeremiah Coulter. He takes us on one adventure after another as he tries to decide what is good for Goldtown or what is really the right thing to do. The whole town of Goldtown is out of work when the Midas Mine runs out of gold. The owners discover there is more gold deeper down. In order to get to the gold an old abandoned mine that is worked by Jeremiah's friend Wu Shen & his Chinese family must be used as an air shaft. In order for this to happen the Chinese must give up their right to the abandoned mine. With the town against the Chinese Jeremiah's dad, the sheriff, must keep the law & order in the town. Jeremiah also tries to keep the peace between the town boys and his Chinese friend Wu Shen. 

Tunnel of Gold is the second book in the Goldtown Adventures series. This 144 page book is recommended for children ages 8-12. It can be purchased for $7.99 + $2.99 shipping and handling or the first two books can be purchased for $13.95 + $3.00 shipping and handling.

I read this book out loud to all three of my girls ages 8, 11, & 12 and my husband. We all really enjoyed this story & the girls would beg to read more each night. There was plenty of adventure and suspense with big decisions to be made. It is very refreshing to read a book where people decide to do the right thing instead what the majority of the people want or the wealthy people in the town want. I really like how young Jeremiah doesn't fall into peer pressure when the other town boys pick on & beat up his friend Wu Shen. 

We also used the free Study Guide for Tunnel of Gold. This 25 page unit is full of questions, puzzles, graphs, a time line, & recipe. It covers vocabulary words, Transcontinental Railroad, creating brands, and comparing fool's gold with real gold. Susan put a lot of thought into this study guide to create a great unit of study on gold mining.

Susan K. Marlow is the author of the Circle C Adventures and the Circle C Beginnings series. She has been writing stories since she was 10 years old. She enjoys visiting actual sites to help her write her historical adventure stories. 

Crew member received the first 2 books in the Goldtown Adventure series, you can sail over to the Crew Blog to read other reviews. 
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Monday, July 15, 2013

Our Garden

Thanks to my wonderful hubby I have a very nice looking garden this year. Mike likes to garden and usually takes care of it from start to finish. The girls and I will help him pull weeds some of the time, but our part of the garden is picking, cooking, and canning.
It is so nice & peaceful I like to read the paper & drink my coffee out there in the mornings.

Mike planted lots of tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapenos, eggplant, yellow squash, zucchini, and cucumbers. We have grape vines and huge blackberry vines that will take over the entire garden if we don’t keep it under control.
So far we have picked one cucumber and yellow squash. I picked 6 yellow squash the first day & have already picked several more. If you have any favorite squash recipes you would like to share we could use a few more. Do you ever freeze, dry, or can them?

We ran out of salsa & spaghetti sauce from last year, so Amber can’t wait for the tomatoes so we can make some more salsa. I just want to eat one.

Last year at this time, we had a few blackberries ready, but this year we haven’t had any yet. We love all the fresh produce we get from the little plot in our yard.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

DiG-iT! MAYAN Mysteries Schoolhouse Review #hsreviews

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A couple years ago Amber played the computer game Roman Town from DiG-it! Games and she loved it. She was so excited to play their new game Mayan Mysteries. She enjoyed the new game as much as she did the first one.
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In Mayan Mysteries you get to explore the mysterious world of ancient Maya. You can discover the ancient artifacts, the Mayan calendar, Mayan Math, and decode glyphs in this educational journey through history. You must also help the professor and his niece and nephew figure out who has been looting the Mayan dig sites. The looters are obviously looking for something specific.

Mayan Mysteries is an online game and is recommended for kids in grades 5-9. You can purchase a year access for $21.99 or check into the iPad App. A classroom addition is also available for up to 30 students.

At the beginning of the game the student can read the story in a cartoon.
During the adventure you visit Mayan people or archeologists.

The Mayan people will give you something to read about their lifestyle.

After reading the story you can play games. This game is a search and find. You need to find the Mayan everyday items.
In this map game you shade land areas according to the different tribes, and label the temples and the agriculture.

After completing the mission for a town you will get a new clue to help you solve the mystery.

Mayan symbols are used in messages that need to be decoded.
The What Am I? game gives you clues about an artifact. As soon as you know what they want you can choose it on the right. 
When two kings go to war the looser pays a tribute to the winner. In the Mayan Math games you must figure out how much to pay. You must use the keys to figure out each amount.
After talking with the villagers and playing the games you will take a quiz about the information you  received. If you miss the question the looters get to move forward & if they capture your car you will have to start the quiz over. 
Quizzes are also included that cover all the information taught.

Amber (age 12) was so excited to get this new game. I gave her the login information and she got right to it. She didn’t want to stop playing when it was time for bed and was very eager to get started on it the next day.

She understood everything she was supposed to do except the Mayan Math game. She wasn’t sure what to do, but once I explained it to her she didn’t have any trouble figuring out the problems. She learned a lot about the Mayans, and was a little disappointed when she finished the game because the mystery is not actually solved in this game but will be continued in part 2. She actually completed the entire game in 2 days, but she spent several hours each day & loves games like this.

My girls like to play computer games, but I don't like them just sitting there playing games that have no purpose when they could do something more productive with their time. I love that in Mayan Mystery they learn History, Geography, and Math skills, but it is also fun for the kids. This game is a win on both sides.

Sail over to the Crew Blog to read more reviews on the online version and the iPad App.

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