Monday, December 6, 2010

TOS Review: Corps of Re-Discovery

I’ve shared my recent need for fun, accessible crafts that don’t require much prep work on my behalf. Frankly, without those kits and other doo-dads on hand, we’d be having a pretty dry spell in terms of what Logan likes to call “makin’ stuff.” For his sake, especially, I like to pepper in a reasonable amount of DO when it comes to our learning. Like many children, he’s a hands-on, tactile learner who digests information best when, well ... makin’ stuff.

I’ve uncovered a few gems in my search for companies that provide homeschoolers with high quality, pre-made craft kits that have equal parts fun and education in the equation. One that flew under the radar for me until I received their product for review, however, was The Corps of Re-Discovery. Now that I’m aware of their company and what they offer, they’ve earned a spot in my bookmarks for future purchases.

Started by a homeschooling family who wanted to engage both hands and minds, this company focuses on the time period that their name brings to mind--early America. Most exciting to me is the fact that their online store is stocked with lots of boy-friendly crafts that really get their feet wet with the hows and whys of frontiersmen. A flint and steel set.  Make-your-own coonskin cap. Leather vests. Powder horns. Tell me a little man who wouldn’t love to fashion some of those things along with his readings on Daniel Boone!

My product sample was of the tamer, more domestic type: a quilting kit. Since Jo’s been bit hard by the quilting bug as of late, I passed it on to her and waited to see what she came up with. She demurred when I asked to take photos, saying that it isn’t photo-ready yet (she’s a perfectionist when it comes to her handmade items), but here’s her almost-expert opinion:

She was pleased with the variety of fabric squares, the quality of the fabric itself, and the number of pre-cut squares provided. Since she didn’t have to do any cutting, she was able to skip right to the fun part: arranging and rearranging all those squares!

The batting was high quality and, again, pre-cut to the proper size. Nice touch.

The provided instructions would make it easy for anyone--even a quilting newbie--to fashion a lovely little quilt.

The kit is currently on sale for $11.99. I’d highly recommend it to accompany your early American studies. And check out their website. The variety of kits available will most likely surprise you. This family has worked hard to expand beyond the basics and into the unique!
Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this product for review purposes. Refer to my general disclaimer for more information on my policies regarding reviews.

TOS Review: Master Ruler

Some products are just so darn brilliant that you know they were divinely inspired.

Master Ruler is, on the surface, a complicated thing. It’s a ruler, see. But it has all of these transparent films attached via a hinge at the top. As a parent, you look at it a little cock-eyed for a minute, trying to figure out exactly how you use it. But put it in the hands of a child, and then you’ll see how simple--and beautiful--this priceless little tool actually is.

“Cool!” was 8 year-old Logan’s immediate reaction. Apparently, he had wanted to have a visual representation of an eighth of an inch for quite a while, unbeknownst to me. “I couldn’t figure it out because of all of the lines on the other ruler,” he told me.

Master Ruler made it easy, however. Simply locate the tabbed film labeled “1/8” and uncover it. Voila’! Now all you can see are inches cleanly divided into eighths.

Tell me that’s not a little slice of heaven. No more counting those tiny little notches. No more trying to point to that teeny line. No, that one. No. The one under my fingernail. YES! That one!

Master Ruler was designed by a teacher for classroom use, so it’s a durable, substantial product that can handle years of use and abuse from your kiddos. The starter set ($41.25) comes with a Standard Master Ruler, a Metric Master Ruler, a Teacher’s Model Master Ruler and the Master Ruler Workbook, which is reproducible. Items also sell individually; the Standard Master Ruler retails for just $9.95. I’d pay double that, personally. Through the company Master Innovations, the designer has also taken the overlay concept into clocks, fractions, and angles.

Brilliant, huh? 

Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this product for review purposes. Refer to my general disclaimer for more information on my policies regarding reviews.