Sunday, November 17, 2013

Reader's Question: Saving Money, the ARK Pencil + Other Writing and Math Helpers

WHAT: Reader Question: ARK Tran-Quill Pencil Kit

Greetings to everyone!
I hope to be sharing more reader questions on this blog so please feel free to send them in.  I'll do my best.  Here is one I loved answering!

Hi Jenn 

I always look forward to reading your reviews and advice on toys for tools, I recently read your toys for tools executive functioning piece and I think my son could really benefit from this. I wanted to know where I could purchase the Ark pencil. Can I get it on Amazon? Also do you have any other writing tools that can improve handwriting and also math tools as well? We recent purchased a Timex glow in the dark lizard watch for my 7 year old and it has helped him tremendously with telling time and understanding the concept. I'm open to anything you can recommend at this point.

Thanks a lot
(Ms. D)

First, a big thanks to Ms. D for asking about the pencil.

This is a very good question. I know a lot of the readers are very smart Amazonian hunters. We really feel this need so often.  I am in the same boat.

That said, first allow me to disclose some details.  I am an affiliate of Amazon and ARK Therapeutic and am especially proud to be accepted as an affiliate of ARK Therapeutic.  Smaller companies sometimes provide a bigger commission than the giant webstores out there so I'm even more grateful. (None of this will require an additional cost to you) That said, I want to tell you that when I make purchases from ARK Therapeutic and Amazon, I do not receive commission for my own purchases which kind of puts me in the same position as you... Sigh.... oh well, that sort of makes sense anyway.

Can't stress this enough. Put your pricey pencil in a pricey pencil case of an action figure/cartoon character of your child's choice.  It's your insurance policy. Pictured here is LEGO. To date, he has not lost his pencil.  It's been going back and forth to school for three months now!

That said, with specific regard to the ARK Tran-Quill Pencil Kit, I buy from ARK Therapeutic. Why? Simply because with this purchase, I am not going to take any chances. I am going to make sure that I get the most updated product. I am also going to make sure I get the product that matches the picture that I saw online. It's also a tech item and that means there is always a chance that I could be that one person who gets that one factory dud.  So if that does happen, I want to make sure that I get it from a trusted retailer so of course, I picked the people who made them.

Here's another reason, everytime I've looked, I have never found the ARK Tran-Quill Pencil Kit for a better price on Amazon.  However, as I mentioned above, I don't really have a lot of incentive to go hunting on Amazon for my pencil.

Another advantage to buying from ARK.  You can make a customizable set and get those ADD-ONs for a good price.
This is the one that I just bought.  Is she beautiful? Baby Blue!

Another advantage to buying from ARK Therapeutic is that sometimes they have a sale!  Sign up for their newsletter here.  This is how I found about their sales. To date, the highest discount I've seen is for 15% off but you never know what may come this season... we'll see... 15% is quite good enough for me.  Without it, I'd still be buying my pencils from there anyway.

And what about shipping you might wonder? I affiliate with only the best merchants because look what they do.  They give you an "estimate ship" button before you punch in all your credit card info. (because what could be more annoying, right?) To be honest, I've never paid shipping because I have always been able to wait until I can buy $100 worth of stuff so I could automatically get free shipping from ARK.  To me, that is a piece of cake. They have very cool stuff there.


Lastly, I would also like to give you and any other parent and teacher out there a virtual hug for buying or even contemplating on buying this product.  I know it's not easy.  Buying it will likely mean that you will forego something for yourself since you may consider this to be in the "unexpected expense" category.   Want to laugh? Here's a my unexpected waste-expense: I still have a full box of 72 No. 2 pencils from Staples that haven't seen the light of day.  All these trials cost us money. Learning about what works for our kids can be expensive that way.  But at least with my son's ARK pencil, I can confidently tell him that he will learn to write faster WITH them than WITHOUT them. I will never be able to prove exactly how much faster he will learn it but given the all the anxiety and frustration I've seen over the years, even learning to write just 5% faster than he would without the "Buzzy Pencil" is worth it for me. I'm so glad that you have set out to give it a try yourself. I think it's one of the kindest inventions ever made for kids.

Here is the original review if you'd like to check it out.

Here are more links for you if you would like to buy other things from there to do what I do and fill up that shopping cart for the free shipping.  I am addicted to free shipping.

Tran-Quill Pencil Kit (Plastic $36.50; Aluminum $46.50)
Tran-Quill Writing Kit (Aluminum only) $59.60
Spare Parts Kit $11.99
Pencil Tip $6.99 (my kid has lost his in the past- but only this piece- phew!)
Butter Grip $6.75 

I also highly recommend:
 WhisperPhone $9.75 
Read my review for the Whisperphone here.

Expect reviews in the near future for these items below.  I love love love them.

Crayon Rocks $29.99

 Oh, and I haven't forgotten.... you wanted other writing helper ideas? While these don't replace the Tran-Quill Writer, here are some things I liked.

I liked these Crossover Grips. They're cushy. Please make sure you put on the grip for them. You need to put a little pressure to get the pencil through and you don't want them to poke themselves if it ever slipped out of their hands.  Get a pack of twelve if the school doesn't have these for your child.  Leave some at school and leave some at home.  For us, 6 at home is enough.


Yes, this is a label maker.  Yes, I know it sounds crazy but sometimes, we are in a jam.  If you ever feel like they won't go to school because they don't want to write (by hand) one more word and getting an Assistive Tech Evaluation seems like it's eons away then I say - stop the suffering now.  Just try it out.  At worst, you are stuck with a label maker that could be mildly useful. If it is useful to your kid then maybe you will want to get the assistive tech evaluation pronto because doing homework will become expensive on this thing but again, it's more for when you are in a jam or to discover how typing can help.  My older son has used this for homework sometimes when he must fill in a blank or answer a question in a phrase or even a full sentence.

If he is writing a paragraph, then I have him speak into my iPad Mini and then he edits it and then he prints it out.  But for short answers, using the iPad is a pain.  Plus, I don't know about you but if a child has executive functioning issues then the less steps the better.  Typing, then printing out your words right there at your desk and just sticking it on to your homework is AMAZING- no walking to the printer, no cutting, no tape or glue.  My kids do not want to use glue because it will likely stick to other pieces of homework! And they know that.

Oh, on this thing, there isn't a spellcheck either. I think that's good for us right now.  He's nine. My son still uses his ARK pencil for homework too.  He uses it to write his spelling words three times each.  Sometimes he uses it for other parts of homework too.  I think it is important to accept that their brains are at a different level of tired everyday.  Sometimes, they'll want to type and some days they'll want to write.  I just make sure he has all the tools at his disposal when he sets out to start his H.W. because I don't want him getting up all the time.And

Last but not least, you wanted a math helper?

We enjoy:

 You can catch my review of Educational Insights' Multiplication Slam here.

We also love this game Cash Bash by Learning Resources.

educational toy, best educational game, best educational toy, learning tools, toys for learning, toys are tools, child development, therapeutic toys, special needs toys, gifted children toys, games for gifted kids,And that
 And that's it for now.... Thanks again to Ms. D for her very important question.  I have another question about Woodmobiel that I'd like to answer soon too.  If anyone has any questions, please feel free to email me at toysaretools at gmail dot com and I'll do my best to help.

Oooh, almost forgot to leave links for LEGO pencil cases- my pencil guardian! Here are a couple of ideas...

Disclosure:  Toys are Tools was not compensated by the manufacturer for the publication of this review.  The reviewed items were provided to Toys are Tools to facilitate a review. Some items were purchased by the writer much to her husband's dismay. Reviews are never promised. 


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