Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Bible Dominoes

Bible Dominoes
Bible Dominoes provides a good introduction to the game of dominoes. The 28 dominoes are thick cardboard with colorful graphics that reinforce number recognition from zero to six.  For the number 6, children will see a domino with a numeral six, another with the word "six" and  another with a picture of six things. Everything related to six will be purple.  Each number is assigned it's own color so children need only know their colors to be able to play.  Bible Dominoes will help reinforce how numerals, written words and objects all relate to one another.

The dominoes are 3"x 6" so you'll need a good sized surface to play the game. Game can be played with 2-4 players and it is recommended for ages 3 and up.  Players pick a certain number of dominoes (based on the number playing) and hold the dominoes in their hand. Remaining dominoes get stacked in a pile. Youngest child lays down any card and next person can build on either side of that card.  If they do not have a card with a matching color/number, they select a card from the pile and play moves to next person. The rules are simple and are conveniently written on the bottom of the box which means you won't be misplacing them.  For younger children, the game could be played with a player's hand laid out in front of them and still be fun.

I think the dominoes could also be a fun activity for solo play. Parent could instruct child to line up all the sides of dominoes with a particular number. Children could be quizzed on selecting dominoes of a certain color.  Even just matching up all the dominoes into one long line could be a fun activity for a single child.

This game was tried out by my 12, 10 and 8 year olds and they all enjoyed it.  I later played with just my 12 year old and we incorporated some rules from traditional dominoes: starting play with a double of a certain number, being able to lay down a card that was drawn, and being able to play a second card when using a double in the middle of the game.

Included with the game is a booklet of 10 stories from the Bible: 5 from the Old  Testament and 5 from the New Testament. The pictures on the dominoes match the illustrations in the Bible Story booklet.  Keep in mind, the "stories" are only an extremely condensed version of an event. The selection titled, "Daniel Saved from Lions" is summarized in 5 sentences. So the game is just a very brief introduction to some Bible characters. Parents may want to follow up by reading a longer version from a child's own Bible story book if they want to extend the Bible aspect of the game.

One thing that may be a bit confusing is that there may be one person in the Bible story and multiple images of that person on the domino (e.g. domino with Noah has two images of Noah). When my 12 year old and I had completed our game, we went through and tried to match up all the tiles that corresponded with each Bible Story.  This would be a good way to help introduce sorting skills to younger children. Dominoes could also be used to review the Bible stories by having child select a domino and tell what story it came from.

The dominoes could be used as a story telling prompt.  Dominoes could be laid face down and child picks up a domino and starts a story. Next child picks up another and continues the story and children continue taking turns and adding to the story.  Older children could do the same activity (as a group or solo) but also write down the story as they go along.

For some math reinforcement, you could have a child compare a picture from the book and the domino and have them either find a total number of that image or have them find the difference in number between book and domino.  Or have children pick a domino and add the two sides of the domino. For older children you could have them pick multiple dominoes and add them all together. Or have a child multiply the numbers on both sides of the domino.

While I think this game has some fun potential for a variety of ages and uses, there are a few things I think could be improved. I wish the Bible Story book were more durable than just a stapled booklet. Probably not something that will withstand rough treatment from children. I was also a little disappointed by the box design. I managed to rip the lid while trying to remove the stack of dominoes from the box. Users will want to take some care with the box (or just store them in another container). I will most likely just cut the cover and rules off the box and store the set in a zipper top bag.

Bible Dominoes can be purchased directly from Kregel Publications for $9.99.  This is a great way to introduce younger children to game playing. The game can be used to help reinforce color recognition, turn taking and can also be used for Bible, language and math activities for a variety of ages.

Disclaimer: I received Bible Dominoes from Kregel Publications for the purpose of review. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Big Top Burning

It's July 6, 1944 and thousands are gathered in Hartford, Connecticut for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus event!  Imagine the sights, sounds and smells of the big top.  Author Laura Woollett takes you back to that time and place and sets the stage for the tragedy that occurs that day.

The book reads like an episode of 48 Hours--a narrative retelling the timeline reconstructed as well as a collection of eyewitness and police accounts. How could a fire have started and raged so relentlessly? You can almost feel the flames and hear the screams as the events are retold.  As more and more bodies are found (often burned beyond recognition), a team of volunteers takes on the grueling task of recording any identifying features of each victim and helping those with missing family to try to find loved ones.

What makes the story so fascinating is that one victim--a young girl, seems to be all but forgotten. When she is the only remaining victim to be identified, authorities cannot figure out why her family was not looking for her.  In all the chaos, is it possible that someone claimed and buried the wrong child?  In some cases, parents themselves were hospitalized and identification of a body was left to a relative or family friend.

And was the fire an accident or arson?  If it was an accident, was the circus negligent in their measures to safeguard against fire?  Over the course of decades, this tragedy gets revisited by various people trying to get to the bottom of the mystery.  Woollett carefully lays out the efforts made in this bizarre case while readers speculate about what really happened. This glimpse at criminal investigation in the 40's is both fascinating and frustrating.

For those interested in true crime stories and unsolved mysteries, Big Top Burning will not disappoint.  The book can be purchased from Amazon starting on June 1, 2015.

Disclaimer: I received a free electronic version of this book through NetGalley for the purpose of review.