Thursday, November 13, 2014

You Will Love This Game!

Our family loves to play games. We have such a good time together! It's a great way to connect, and we're always looking for a new game to try. We were recently given the opportunity to review the game Snake Oil from Out of the Box Games, through the Schoolhouse Review Crew.

This game, intended for ages 10 and up, is simple to play. You need at least three players: one to be the Customer, and the others to come up with products to sell. The Customer chooses a customer card, which tells you to whom you are selling. Each player gets six word cards, and when it's your turn to sell, you combine two word cards into your product, and then market it to the Customer. The Customer chooses the product they feel will best suit them, and the winning salesperson collects the Customer Card. The player with the most customer cards at the end of the game wins. Each game takes 20-30 minutes, depending on how many people are playing; when I played with my two girls, I think our playing times were shorter than that.

We laughed so hard when we played this game! When I chose my word cards, I thought I knew how I would combine them–until one of my girls chose a Customer card. When I had to sell something to specific person, everything I thought I would do went out the window. Since you have no control over the cards you get, this can make for some VERY interesting salesmanship. I was the first Customer, and my card was Executioner. One of my girls tried to sell me Diamond Spit, and the other tried to sell me a Sun Pony. Diamond Spit was very sharp and could take care of an execution for me; the Sun Pony shot laser beams from its eyes. See what I mean? (I chose Diamond Spit, in case you wondered.)

My younger daughter was the second Customer, and she was Santa! I tried to sell her Snow Silence, so no one would hear her coming, and my older daughter tried to sell her Power Soap, for a refreshing burst of energy before heading out for a long night of delivering gifts and climbing up and down chimneys.

Not only is Snake Oil fun, it inspires some creative learning. You have to be able to think quickly and be flexible enough to work with whatever comes up. Also, even if you have the best card combination for a "product" that will suit your "customer," if you can't market it well, you will lose. Communication skills are important, too, because even if you think the product you came up with is a bit ridiculous, you still have to make your "customer" want to buy it.

My girls and I had a blast playing this game, and we agreed that it would have been even more fun with more players. If you're looking for a great game to add to your family collection for Christmas, or to give as a gift, check out Snake Oil (19.99)! If you have younger children, consider Snake Oil - Party Potion for ages 8 and up (14.99). In addition to these great party games, Out of the Box Games has some classroom games that look fantastic (most only need 2 players; one game needs 3 to start) and helpful information for educators.

Connect with Out of the Box Games on FacebookTwitter and YouTube!

Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Crew!

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

A New Book for Christmas!

I love Christmas, and I love Christmas books. I am always looking for new-to-us stories to read to my children. Even my teenagers look forward to the box of Christmas books coming out every December!

This year, I received the opportunity through the Schoolhouse Review Crew to review If He Had Not Come from David Nicholson. The story was originally written by Nan F. Weeks, published in an anthology in 1938.

David Nicholson is a retired schoolteacher and short term missionary. He has shared this story with his own family for years. He's now republished it in a beautiful hardcover book, for ages 6 and up, with lovely illustrations by Charles Jaskiewicz. The font is clear and big - wonderful for, ah, older eyes that don't do well with tiny letters anymore.

The story is about a little boy named Bobby, who, while reading the Bible with his father, is struck by the words Jesus said: "If I had not come" from John 15:22. When he goes to sleep, he dreams that Jesus had not come to earth. It should be Christmas day, but all the businesses are open. There is no hospital or homeless shelter to help the sick man he comes across while searching for his parents. Where there was once a homeless shelter, he finds men gambling, and when he asks for help, they're mean to him. There is no orphanage where he remembers there being one. His church doesn't exist. Everywhere, he sees the words, "If I had not come." Eventually he wakes up, and realized he had been dreaming, and he's SO glad Christ really did come.

Mr. Nicholson has included some discussion questions for families or Sunday School teachers. There is also a "Going Deeper" section with some great, though-provoking questions, such as "What would it mean for us spiritually if Jesus had not come to earth?" All of the Going Deeper questions have Scripture references to aid in your discussion. Mr. Nicholson also presents the Gospel in the back of the book, and there is page with instructions for drawing a Christmas tree with information on the symbolism involved, like "The star on the top of the tree represents the star that led the wise men to Jesus."

My kids enjoyed hearing this story. I enjoyed it, too. I know it's a book we will enjoy together for a long time, and because my girls liked the story, they will be willing to read it to my son. He does love spending time with his big sisters, and they love activities, like reading, that don't involve "ninja moves" or "sword practice."

It's a different story line than most other Christmas books. It's rather tense, with Bobby finding only annoyance and anger from the people he encounters. I suppose that is the point; the world without Jesus is not a nice place. Of course, there is a happy ending, when Bobby wakes up and realizes that it's all been a dream.

If He Had Not Come is available as a printed hardcover for $18.95, and as an ebook for $3.99.

Connect with David Nicholson on Facebook!

Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Crew!