Post Tagged with: "reviews"

beezi: the s-p-e-l-l-i-n-g game for ages 8 and up

beezi: the s-p-e-l-l-I-n-g game

beezi: the s-p-e-l-l-I-n-g game

If your kids could use a little brush-up on their spelling, beezi might be the game that does it.

My son and I took the game for a test drive. He figures he’s a better speller than his mother (who is a writer by trade, a-hem).

We really enjoyed beezi. For off, it was easy to figure out how to play it–a huge plus. I hate having to read through two pages of directions to figure out a game before you can even play it.

And it was fast-playing. Another plus.

Essentially, beezi takes you around a board; you select cards and spell words. The harder the word, the further you go on the board. Special spaces on the board let you roll again, skip a turn or advance.

The game includes spelling challenges at different levels. That’s good because it means that your eight-year-old can play with your 10-year-old at the same time. And it makes it extra flexible for playdates.

There’s also a Teens and Parents edition, which we will definitely have to get (we were given this one by beezi, for review). We did find that the younger game was a bit too easy for my 12-year-old. Although, he did not—I stress, did not—win against his mother.

Because kids write down their answer, rather than just spell it out loud, the game can definitely help kids improve their spelling. The game provides a real incentive to sound words out and try to get them right. It also gives adults a chance to explain why certain words are spelled the way they are.

Some kids are shy or embarrassed about not being able to spell very well. Even my son, who’s a pretty good speller, didn’t like to admit it when he couldn’t spell certain words, and I can see that. So you may want to keep that in mind when you’re playing. Usually, I was able to explain that “everyone gets that one wrong,” or “that spelling rule is tricky” and then roll the dice and keep the game moving.

The game is themed around bees, a riff on “spelling bees.” The bee theme continues with the die, which features six types of bees (from honey bee – the easiest words to spell, to killer bee – the most challenging). My son likes “Shaggy Fuzzyfoot” the best; Shaggy’s a wildcard. And the object of the game is to reach the “beehive” in the middle of the board.

The illustrations are quirky and modern, and the dice is one of those big, chunky ones that are such fun to roll.

Bonus: The next time I go to a restaurant or a long car ride with my son, I’m going to bring along the card deck. It will be a terrific quiz-me activity, even without the game board. beezi would also be a good game to take to the cottage, because everyone can play it, using different level card packs.

beezi: the s-p-e-l-l-i-n-g game sells for $29.99 and is available at toy stores and Chapters/Indigo. You can also purchase it from the beezi website ($10 to $15 shipping within Canada).

(If you’re in Toronto, buy it from my friend Sam at her Playful Minds toy store. Tell her I sent ya.)

On the beezi website, click on Take the Beezi challenge for a fun online spelling challenge.

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NYTimes top 10 picture books for 2011

The New York Times Book Review has released its list of this year’s “10 Best Illustrated Children’s Books,” and here they are.

The Times has done a terrific review for each book, here.

Brother Sun, Sister Moon

Grandpa Green


I Want My Hat Back



A Nation's Hope

A New Year's Reunion


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Review: Dust City

Dust City by Robert Paul WestonGary Kohl – elementary schoolteacher and writer – offers his review of Dust City, by Robert Paul Weston.
The book is recommended for kids age 12+.

By Gary Kohl

Robert Paul Weston’s new book, Dust City, has many magical elements scattered through its 300 pages of mystery and intrigue. Weston reaches back to the Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault, and ancient mythology to weave his spells and adventures. These magical elements are both literal and abstract as the title refers to the dust that fairies use to grant wishes.

Our main character, Henry Whelp, son of the famed big bad wolf from the Grimm’s “Little Red Riding Hood,” is determined to follow through on his now incarcerated father’s plans to discover the truth regarding the disappearance of fairies and their magical dust. Not only will this quest help him to clear his father’s name, it may stop a great injustice that could have significant consequences for all creatures living in this world of dwarves, giants, talking animals, and more. Along the way, the reader encounters many familiar characters, from Jack, of beanstalk fame, to a cold-hearted villain with a King Midas touch.

Robert Paul Weston’s book will appeal to readers who have been enjoying the world of fantasy so wonderfully re-energized over the past 10 years by the Harry Potter series. The chapters are short, with each one leaving the reader wondering what outlandish characters are going to appear next to challenge or befriend our hero on his quest to save everything he cares about.

Readers can expect everything, from a love interest to some horrific acts that sometimes catch you off guard. Readers can really let their imaginations run wild while trying to picture what some of Weston’s creatures might really look like and, quite often, smell like.

Some chapters are not for the faint-of-heart, but if it’s adventure and life and death scenarios you’re after, then Dust City should prove wholly satisfying and easy to follow.

Related Links
Here’s Dust City’s pretty intriguing website.
Robert Paul Weston’s website.

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Writing a review

Is your older child writing a book or movie review? Here’s a five-minute clip of arguably two of the best movie critics ever, Siskel and Ebert, talking about what makes a good film review–the discussion also holds for book reviews, restaurant reviews, or any other piece of writing you’re doing in which you must be critical.
Basically, they’re saying: start your review with what happened in the movie or book – what it’s about; convey your personal experience with the movie or book; and take risks.
Hard to believe it’s been 12 years since Gene Siskel passed away.
Worth watching – stay with it after 1:14.

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