Out Of The Box Games: T. O. S. Review

As my final crew review for this year, I really could not have asked for a better one. :-) Never fear, I will be returning to the crew after the new year, with more great products to tell you about. Meanwhile, I’ll still be around, letting you in on “My Journeys”!

Up until recently, I had never even heard of Out Of The Box Games.

However, since we got rid of all of our board games when we left Michigan, I had promised to rebuild our collection here in New Mexico. My goal has been to rebuild as much as possible with educational games, so when given the chance to review the game Snake Oil, from Out Of The box Games, I really wanted to do this one, and I am very glad I did, too!

I want to tell you something we learned from this game . . . Snake Oil, and Snake Oil salesmen really existed! During the 1860’s, Chinese laborers working on the Transcontinental Railroad would, after hard, physical labor, rub sore muscles with an ointment made from water snake oil. They shared the ancient Chinese remedy with their American workers. Products containing water snake oil are still in use today by some herbalists. Eventually, snake oil was commercialized, and in the early 1900’s, a sample of Clark Stanley’s Snake Oil Liniment was tested by the U.S. government, at which time it was discovered to contain no snake oil at all. Because swindlers had been using it and making false claims, the phrase “snake oil salesman” was born. Today, we might refer to politicians, used car salesmen, etc . . . as “snake oil salesmen”.

The Snake Oil game was developed by Jeff Ochs, who came up with the concept for Snake Oil in 2008 while on an airplane flight. He and his colleagues were reading a catalog to pass the time, and noticed a recurring theme, that many of the product names consisted of two random nouns. They began playing with random noun combinations to create new products, and entertained themselves for the rest of the flight. You can find out more about the creation of the Snake Oil Game by reading here.

I like to have games that are easy and quick to learn. Snake Oil definitely fits the bill. It is truly a right out of the box game! I also like to have games that we can all play together, and this one fits that bill, as well. It is recommended for age 10 and up, but even my boys who actually function at much lower than age ten were able to play right along with the rest of us, although the smaller of our twins, who does function much younger, needed a little help. The Game Snake Oil sells for $19.99

Everything needed comes right in the box. There is no need for score keeping, there are no dice, or anything like that. The contents of the box are a plastic tray which holds 336 word cards, and 28 double-sided customer cards, which allows for 56 different customers. Playing is quick and easy. Each player takes six word cards, and the players select one person to begin by being the first customer. That person draws a customer card, looks at both sides, and decides which customer he or she wants to be, for example, the card I just randomly took from the box has Prison Guard on one side, and Fashion Model on the other. Once the customer chooses who to be, the other players quickly choose two noun cards from their hands to create a product, and take turns “pitching” their products to the customer. It can get fairly hilarious, especially when a player has to go with word cards (nouns) that really have nothing to do with the customer’s chosen persona. :-) The customer chooses which product he or she likes best, and that “salesman” gets the customer card. At the end of the game, the player with the most customer cards is the winner.

One small warning, we did come across a few noun cards that we preferred not to use. You can easily remove them and still have a ton, or, if the reverse side is something you are OK with, maybe use double-sided tape to put them together with other nouns you don’t want to use. I didn’t think of that, until I took a look at my scrapbooking stuff, lol!

Here is a quick little video showing how Snake Oil is played:

There are variations on the game, as well, such as Snake Oil Tournament Play (12 – 24 players) and Snake Oil Live, with which a large group (can we say teen game night, anyone?) can be entertained.

My family is really enjoying this game, and our kids are learning without even being aware, which my regular readers know is something I love!

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If He Had Not Come: A T. O. S. Review

If He Had Not Come is a wonderful Christmas book that we have recently been given the opportunity to review. It was originally written by Nan F. Weeks, and has been updated and reintroduced by David Nicholson.

David Nicholson is a retired teacher and a short term missionary, who discovered Nan Weeks story when his own children were young. For many years, he read it to them each Christmas, and has now chosen to bring it to today’s generation.

According to the “about” page on David Nicholson’s website, there is very little known about the original author, Nan F. Weeks, other than that she was a teacher and writer of stories and curriculum for children, and that the original version of this story was included in an anthology, Christ in the Fine Arts, by Cynthia Maus, published in 1938. He does ask that anyone who has any further information about Nan Weeks please contact him.

If He Had Not Come is beautifully illustrated by Charles Jaskiewicz . The pictures are classic in style, very timeless, in my opinion. There are interactive discussion topics at the end, for use in families and Sunday School, plus, a going deeper section written by Josh Mulvihill. This book is available here in casebound hardcover for $18.95.

I loved this book. There is no other way to say it. And, I intend for it to be a part of our Christmas tradition from here on in.

If He Had Not Come tells the story of a little boy named Bobby, during one very unusual Christmas. On Christmas Eve, unlike most other nights, Bobby is excited to get to bed and to sleep, so that Christmas morning will come that much sooner. First, though, he and his dad sit by their Christmas tree for their daily Bible reading, which included John 15:22, including the words “If I had not come.” Those words are uppermost in Bobby’s mind as he drifted to sleep.

When Bobby awakens in the morning, he wakes to a somewhat shocking sight, there is absolutely no sign of Christmas! His dad isn’t there, his mom isn’t there making breakfast as she always does. When Bobby runs out of the house and starts looking all around town asking why factories are open on Christmas, as well as stores and other businesses, people didn’t know what he was talking about.

Bobby tries to go to his family’s church, but there is no church, just a sign that says “If I had not come . . .John 15:22″. He sees that sign in many places, like a children’s home, hospital, homeless shelter, etc. Running home, he picks up the Bible from which he and his dad had been reading the night before, only to find that after the book of Malachi, the remainder of the pages are blank, except for a faint outline of writing “If I had not come.” You will want to read the book to find out what happens next!

I appreciate this book because it makes it very simple to understand the message of what this world would be like if He had not come. I know that many non-Christians believe that all of these things would still be here, because they believe people are basically good, and would provide them, but that is not the truth. Any good that is in this world is here only because of the presence of the Holy Spirit, and when Jesus comes back for believers and takes them with him, the Holy spirit will go as well. This book is written for age six and up, and is simple enough for children to understand (including children even younger than age six), yet though provoking enough to make teens and adults think, too. We tend to take for granted the things we have as a direct result of Jesus having come to pay the price for our sin, and this book really brings it home.

You may also find out more on social media at:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/If-He-Had-Not-Come/1543755249189773?ref=tn_tnmn

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Clued In Kids . . . A T. O. S. Review

My kids and I have had such a fun time with this product from Clued In Kids!

This is a great product to use with the kids. After all, what kid doesn’t enjoy going on a treasure hunt? The set up time for mom is super quick and simple, and then the kids just take off searching for their clues. Take a look at how easy this is here.

Clued In Kids was created by a mom who grew up in England, and becoming inspired by a British TV show “Treasure Hunt”, began creating treasure hunts for the children in her neighborhood. But, there is so much more to her story, and I encourage you to read about it here.

We received two pdf treasure hunts. We received Happy Tummy Treasure Hunt, available at $5.99

And Thanksgiving Treasure Hunt, also available at $5.99.

These treasure hunts are appealing to a wide variety of ages, with some being great for kids as young as age four, while others can be organized by older kids and adults to be done with younger kids. It truly DID only take me about five to ten minutes to get each one set up! My kids didn’t even notice me going around hiding the different clues, as they were involved in other things at the time. Then, I came in and said “Who is ready to go on a treasure hunt?” Do you know, they were all excited enough to even put away their electronic games! :-)

I chose to have my boys work together on searching and figuring out the clues. I just really thought it would be better for them, and it was. They took turns reading the clues and filling in answers. There was one clue in the Happy Tummy hunt that involved coloring to be given the next clue, so for that one I printed four copies so they could each color their own.

Here they are, finding one of the clues . . .

Intently solving various clues after they found them . . .



One of the things I really liked was the idea given for making alterations, if the answer to one clue (which led to the next clue) was something that doesn’t exist in your home. It was suggested to just hold back that clue and have them do a physical activity instead, and then give them the next clue. I chose to do something else. One clue had them unscramble the word “Bike” to discover where to find the next clue, but we don’t have any bikes. One of the kids has a Ripstick (a kind of skateboard) though, so I got them to unscramble that word, and that is where they found the next clue.

I think MY favorite part was when they were supposed to run around the house gobbling during the Thanksgiving Hunt. Instead, I had them run around in our court on our street, which you can see in the video below.

We really enjoyed Clued In Kids Treasure Hunts! They would be good for a party, a play date, or, as we used them, just for a fun time with your kids!

To check out Clued In Kids on their various social media, please look below:

Twitter: @cluedinkids
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cluedinkids
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/cluedinkids/

95 crew members reviewed a variety of Clued In Kids treasure hunts, both pdf and physical versions. Please click on the banner below to read what they all thought!
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Learning About The Partial Solar Eclipse . . .

So, last week there was a partial solar eclipse, which was visible here in NM. When I showed my kids how easily we could make a pinhole projector, they were totally on board!

Here is our pinhole projector!

We went outside at about 3:40 our time, and watched it for a while, and then went back out close to 4:30, which we’d been told on the news would be peak time.

We tried doing it with the blank card stock on the ground, but it wasn’t working very well . . .


So we ended up having one child hold the pinhole projector, and another hold the blank card stock. They took turns, so that everyone who wanted to, got a chance to do both, and everyone got a chance to just look, as well.





Their dad got home from work while we were still outside and decided to get in on the action, too!

Here is a short video of the action for your enjoyment!

addendum: I totally forgot to mention that one of the boys next door got off the school bus (arms full of books and homework) as we were doing this, and stopped to see what we were doing. he thought it was pretty cool, as did the lady on the other side of our house, who was leaving to go somewhere, but wandered over first to see. Homeschooling rocks! :-)

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A Nation Adrift (DVD) . . . A T. O. S. Review

New Liberty Videos is a company which produces Christian DVD’s. Bryan Barkley has been producing Christian movies for 30 years, ever since he became a believer while producing the documentary “Set Free,” which was filmed in San Quentin prison. Before that, he worked in Hollywood as an editor on several television series, including “B.J. And the Bear,” “Sheriff Lobo,” and “Quincy.”

For purposes of review, I received a physical DVD entitled “A Nation Adrift”, which is available for $19.95.

A Nation Adrift is the true story of how God’s sovereign hand guided the founders of America. It is a lot like a visual timeline, with sound. Of course, in the beginning, most of the visual is done with paintings and such, and narrated quotes of the founding fathers. Quotes which, I might add, show quite clearly that they fully intended this country to be founded upon the Holy Bible and Christian principles. In fact, if you really think about it, most of our laws that have been around since that time are based directly upon those things.

A Nation Adrift actually begins WAY before the founding of America, all the way back to the beginning of the conflict between Islam and Christianity, which continues today. It takes us through Christopher Columbus’ journeys, the pilgrims, the first Thanksgiving feast (which was NOTHING like Thanksgiving meals today), & the Mayflower Compact.

You will see much about the Revolutionary War, and George Washington, a Christian man who became our first president. There was wonderful narration throughout, quotes from Washington and others, along with beautifully done visuals.

This DVD truly does cover quite a lot, for we also have much narration, quotes and images from the Civil war as well.

Eventually we came to relatively more modern times, beginning with World War 1, and continuing on through World War 2. At this point, the visual becomes more than the paintings and such that had to be used earlier, because it is covering a time when we were beginning to have “moving pictures”.

Throughout the second half of the DVD “A Nation Adrift”, we begin to see changes leading to our country’s drift away from God’s plan. This DVD is supposed to be for “general” audiences, however I personally would caution you that there is a point after we get to more modern times when I sent my children out of the room, as there were topics being dealt with that I’m just not prepared to discuss with them at this time. I did not send them out during the material about Margaret Sanger, because I wanted them to see her for who she really was, and the evil she founded. I have adopted special needs children, and mixed race children, and they were shocked at the direct quotes from Margaret Sanger regarding her agenda to convince black people to get on board with birth control, because she believed their population should be radically lowered, and quotes regarding how those who were retarded should also be eliminated. There was one quote where she said that the best thing a large family could do was to kill one of their infants.

It was at the point where there were detailed drawings and audio descriptions of late-term abortion that I sent my kids out to play. I am 56 years old, and had seen this before, and it was still disturbing to me, so I knew it would be to them as well. There also was video of a church being attacked by demonstrators for gay rights that was very disturbing, because it was clearly not faked. Members of the church could not even leave to go home because they were being attacked, and the demonstrators were holding signs which said “we want your children”, while shouting the same. Now, I do believe that God has given us free will, but that sort of thing is NOT going to change anyone’s mind, in my opinion.

All in all, I think this is a very well done documentary, and I would recommend it for adults, church leaders (all church leaders!), and possibly high school students, but not for young children. It is very well done.

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Weekly Wrap Up . . . Family Crusade Time!

This has been a VERY busy week, but a good one, as well. Our church held a Family crusade, beginning this past Sunday morning with OUR version of balloon Sunday. It was the last day of this year’s International balloon Fiesta, and on that morning, we release helium balloons with our names, and the plan of salvation on an attached card. It was quite windy, and I could not get a photo before they were too far away, sadly, but it was fun! :-)

From Sunday evening through Thursday evening, we had the wonderful Ed Dunlop as our speaker, and dare I say, entertainer? Everyone, children, teens and adults alike all just loved his ventriloquism with his little buddy Andy, and loved watching the kids participate in different Bible games.

I tried to get a video during the last evening, but looking at it on the computer, I can see that I really messed it up . . . it’s sideways! So instead, let me share a photo of Bro. Ed, Andy, my boys, and several of their friends who were also still at the church after everyone else had left . . . 1016142044e One of my boys, “The Batman”, specifically asked if Andy could come out and be in the picture with them, lol!

My boys tried so hard to get visitors to come with them, but they were not successful. This is the first time we have lived where there were other kids right next door that they play with (since moving to NM), and they asked them every day, with no results. They were disappointed, but we explained to them that they did their job by asking, and that God knows this.

I think this was a WONDERFUL alternative to the traditional summer VBS. I liked it a lot better. VBS has always tended (in my opinion) to get kids so very revved up and make it hard for them to be self-controlled, especially kids like mine, with special needs, yet, I hate to deny them VBS. Therefore, I was so very happy that our church chose to do this instead this year. We had a great time! :-)

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Apologia Educational Ministries (iWitness) . . . A T.O.S. Review

Our family has really loved using material from Apologia Educational Ministries ever since first being introduced to one of the science resources after a friend had used one and told me my boys would love it. They did, too!

This particular set of books which I am writing about today though, is different. As a member of the Review Crew, I received three books in the iWitness series:

1. iWitness Biblical Archaeology

iWitness Biblical Archaeology gives an awesome look at archaeological finds which prove many things that we as believers already knew (by faith) to be true. Many people and places which are referred to in the Bible, were not really shown in “historical” texts, because there was no “proof”, but many finds over time have more than proven the truth of their having existed.

2. New Testament iWitness

New Testament iWitness takes the reader along as it investigates things such as “Who wrote the New Testament?” “How do we know?” “How was it handed down?”, among other fascinating things. This book follows the history of and formation of the canon, while the reader sorts through the information given.

3. Old Testament iWitness

Old Testament iWitness goes into discussion of the differences between the Old Testament and the Hebrew Bible. It asks questions such as “Who wrote these ancient books?” “how were they collected?” “Is it mythology or history?” As with the other two books mentioned above, the reader is led through looking at evidence for him or herself, and gaining a great deal of knowledge in the process!

These books are written and designed by Doug Powell, who purposely does not write from his own opinion. He gives facts, actual photos, archaeological proof, and then we are expected to think for ourselves and come to our own belief. While they are very well put together for all ages, the suggested reading level is age 11 and up.

The first thing I want to tell you about is my initial impression when the books arrived. These are extremely sturdy paperback size books, but there the similarity ends. these books have very thick and sturdy pages, which means they will last, and continue to be a good resource on our shelf for many years to come. The other thing that caught my eye immediately was the layout of the pages. As an avid scrap-booker and paper crafter, the scrap-book style layout of all the pages was really pleasing to my eye. There is a nicely done combination of pictures and text. The text is all arranged on separate pieces which look like pieces of scroll or parchment. Over all, the look and feel of each of these books is, in my opinion, of very high quality.

Both “The Artist” and I have been reading through them, beginning with iWitness Biblical Archaeology. I must tell you that this is the book which turned out to be a favorite, although we enjoy all of them. :-) However, I have always wanted to learn more about archaeological finds which prove the things I know to be true because of my faith in God’s Word.

“The Artist” and I had different “favorite” parts, though. He says his favorite was when the archaeology book gave information about the Mesha Stele or Moabite Stone. It discusses how one group attempted to destroy it, rather than have the Turks get it, but that the original discoverers managed to find enough of it to reconstruct much of the stone, giving valuable information regarding people and places within the Old Testament.

“My” favorite part was the recounting of the story of the flood of Noah’s time, as related by different cultures throughout time. I had always heard that different cultures had their own passed down stories of the flood, and iWitness Biblical Archaeology talks about several of them. It then also shows the similarities and differences between Genesis and these stories. For me, it is just one more reason that I believe there is no real excuse for claiming God does not exist.

In Old Testament iWitness, I was interested in the sections about the manuscripts and how they were copied, along with how the books were arranged and included.

In New Testament iWitness, I was again interested in the methods of copying, along with differences in copies, and why certain books were rejected.

The bottom line is that we really enjoyed these books, and we definitely recommend them. They can be purchased at the cost of $14.00 each from Apologia, and I must say that I feel they are well worth the cost.

You may also check out Apologia Educational Ministries via social media:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/apologiaworld
Twitter – https://twitter.com/apologiaworld
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