TOS Sweet Critique: Keyboard Town Pals

Keyboard Town PALS

Keyboard Town PalsWhat:  Keyboard Town PALS


Cost:  The program is currently on sale for $30 – $45 depending upon the options you choose {CD-ROM vs. web-based, bundled package, etc.}

Recommended Ages:  Ages 6 and up

What Is It?


Keyboard Town PALS is a computer-based program that teaches typing to children.   Yes, I know.  There are lots of these.  Or, at least a few.  What makes this one different?

This program uses a Purposeful Associative Learning System {PALS}.  Say what?  This means that the program uses a well-devised way to use associations to teach typing.  I know this doesn’t work for some kids, but it generally works for Babydoll.  Having a story helps her remember something so much easier.

 So how exactly does Keyboard Town PALS do this?  Keyboard Town is made up of three streets.

Each street has residents {letters, numbers, symbols}.  The streets and the residents correspond to the rows and keys on the keyboard.

Then, through a series of stories and other fun stuff, the child is taught the keys in a vertical manner.  Vince and I were talking, and we think we remember being taught vertically, and it was much easier to learn the finger associations as opposed to learning where the letters were and then finger placement {horizontally}.

What Did We Think?


Well, overall I think it’s an innovative program that has really thought about covering the bases as far as a comprehensive typing program for kids {after all, it’s supposed to teach kids how to type in an hour}.  The program can be used with all learning levels and thought has really been put into creating a unique way to teach kids typing.

Personally, I thought the puppets and Sunny were a bit too silly for Babydoll {she’s nine}, but after her initial “Hmmm…”, she said she was able to see past that and still enjoy the program.  I think she even enjoyed the stories about the puppets and their purpose, she just wasn’t a big fan of Sunny.  Despite this, she sat there for a good while playing and learning, so overall I think it’s a win.

I also think this program could be used for kids younger than six, as soon as they have letter recognition down.  Shoot, it can even be used to teach letter recognition and sounds.  Much above then, though, I don’t know how well a child would respond to the puppets.  Take that with a grain of salt, because each kid is different; some will be completely happy doing something till a much older age than others will.

What Did Others Think?


Be sure to check out what other TOS members thought about Keyboard Town PALS!

True Confessions:  I was provided with access to Keyboard Town PALS in order to facilitate my review.  All opinions are my own.

Sweet Critique: Torani Flavored Syrups

Torani flavored syrups

Torani flavored syrupsFlavored coffee is all the rage nowadays.  So many folks can’t live without it.

When I do drink coffee {which seems to be more frequent as I get older}, I want it flavored so I don’t actually taste the coffee.  All the power, none of the taste.

Aside from flavored creamer, I never attempted to flavor my coffee with anything other than sugar and cream.  You know, a sweet creamy flavor?  But there’s so  much more to try, like Torani flavored syrups.

Torani Syrups


I’ve heard about Torani flavored syrups for years {they used them at the restaurant I used to work at}, but never bought any to try.  I’m not sure why…

I recently had the opportunity to give a couple of the syrups a try, and I’m amazed.  Really.

Quite honestly, I wondered just how good a syrup can be.  I was worried they’d be “flat” and syrup-y sweet.  And sugar free?  Oh man, I was scared…

I was so wrong.  These things have such deep flavor, that’s what really stuck with me.  It has great depth of flavor that really adds a great flavor to coffee.

I think the fact that it’s sweetened with Splenda {and not a chemical} really helps with that.  I liked the slight vanilla aftertaste it left, kind of like the slight warmth of chili-spiked chocolate.

Torani has over 100 flavors {that’s crazy!}, and you can read my review {as well as reviews my others} on SheSpeaks.

I just saw that they have a peppermint flavor; I think that’s next on my list!!

I’ve got a coupon code to share with you guys so you can purchase a bottle or two or 12 for yourself:  shespeaks.  You can use this code on to receive 10% off your order!

Do you use Torani flavored syrups in your coffee?  Which flavors do you like?


Sweet Side: Yoplait Smoothies

We were recently sent a Yoplait Smoothie Prize Pack which included a coupon to try the new Chocolate Banana flavor.  The prize pack was awesome and included a neck pillow, a smoothie tumbler, a lavender eye mask, and a coupon for a free package of the chocolate banana smoothie.

We’re big fans of the smoothie tumbler; it’s a nice big cup with a fancy schmancy straw.  Yes, we get excited about lots of things.  Still, the cup is good quality and a nice size, and I like that.

I didn’t try the smoothie because I hate bananas.  There, I said it.  They’re gross and disgusting and I hate them.

Babydoll, however, loves bananas.  And chocolate.  And smoothies.  We’ve had the Yoplait smoothies before and love them, so I was sure she’d like this one.

I was right.  She enjoyed the smoothie.  It was quick and easy for her to make {and you know I’m all about her doing for herself} and she liked it a lot.  She also said it was really filling.  Now, I don’t know how accurately she measured, but she thought the smoothie was a bit thick to start with, so she added a bit more milk and it was perfect.

I’ve got a Yoplait Smoothie Prize Pack to give away so you can experience the uber cup and try the smoothie for yourself.  Be sure to enter below!

True Confessions:  I was provided with the prize pack to help me with my review.  All opinions are my own.  They didn’t tell me to talk up the cup to you guys, I really do like it that much.  The Yoplait® VIP Coupon, information, and giveaway have been provided by Yoplait through MyBlogSpark.

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Sweet Critique: #ClearAmerican Water #CBias #ad

Clear American Water

Clear American WaterWe all know how important water is to our well-being.  But it’s not really fun to talk about hydration.  Sure, it’s important, and sure, it’s way better for many of us when that water is flavored.

But, have you ever thought about cooking with flavored water?

Some of my Social Fabric peeps have made some super awesome stuff with the water:  peach soda, a patronus spell cocktail, summer treats, and pina colada cake.

I love coming up with and trying new recipes, but I really wanted to make this water work for us…  What could I do?

Getting the Water


Well, first I had to get the water.  Can’t experiment if I don’t have the tools.  There’s a pretty decent selection at our Walmart, although apparently there are a ton more flavors than what we had.

I let Babydoll help me pick a few flavors.

We decided on:  lemon, strawberry, wild cherry, and raspberry apple.  Know what else is cool?  These big old bottles are only 64 cents!  This was infinitely cheaper than the other waters.

Breakfast with Clear American


One of the first things that came to mind was using the water in breakfast foods.  I sometimes make a bunch of quick pancakes and freeze them for Babydoll.  You know, the really easy ones where you just add water?

Well what the heck, I’ll use the flavored water!  We can even make it fancy and call them “scented” pancakes.

Clear American Water

Then I thought, “We also like cream of wheat, but it gets pretty old sometimes…” So, I decided we could use the flavored water to give the cream of wheat some kick!

I’m on a roll now… You could add this to biscuit recipes for a sweet biscuit, coffee cake recipes, muffin recipes, you could do tons!

Bonus Clear American Treat


Babydoll recently got a snow cone maker.  She’s wanted one forever.  But, me being the stellar mom I am, I forgot to buy the syrup.  New solution:  syrup made with Clear American flavored water.  That gives you a ton of possibilities for flavors!

Can you guys come up with any fun ways to use the water?

You can find Clear American on Facebook, Twitter, and on this great page {which also has some killer recipes – like deep fried Oreos}!

True Confessions:  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias #CBias, which is a vendor for Cott Beverages Inc., the manufacturer of Clear American® brand beverages.  All opinions are my own.

Sweet Critique: Reader’s Digest Geography Book

It’s one of my life’s missions as a homeschooling mom to ensure that Babydoll is not a typical “stupid” American, completely oblivious to the world around her.  I’ve definitely brushed up on my skills since I’ve been teaching her.

I Used to Know That:  Geography is a lifesaver in this department!  This books gives you pretty much everything you’d ever want to know about the world around you, geographically speaking.

The book is divided by continent, water, and Earth.  I like that it not only explains information about different countries but also specifics about Earth itself such as climate zones, Earth from the inside out, and tectonic plates.

One of my favorite aspects of the book is what is know as a Geo Gem.  These are little facts sprinkled throughout the book.  For instance, I learned:

The Tonle Sap River in Cambodia reverses direction every year.

How Homeschoolers Could Use It


I think you could use this book in a couple of ways, either as a curriculum on its own or as a reference.  Let me say, though, I’m not into reinventing the wheel.  I have so much respect for those of you who put together your own lesson plans and curriculum, but it’s just not my flavor of icing.

There is so much information in this book that I would think you could take it, a map, and some ingenuity and put together a pretty complete geography curriculum.  It’s also got so much information in it that you could easily reference it for extra material when doing a geography study.

Reader’s Digest is giving away a copy of the book to one of you!!  Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter.

True Confessions:  I was provided with a copy of this book to facilitate my review.  All opinions are my own.

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