Reading raven app review

As a firm believer in phonics for reading I am always looking for good phonics Apps.  The Reading Raven HD iPad app is one of the few apps that start with a phonics based approach to reading.  20140314-221822.jpg

Reading Raven Features

  • Step-by-step curriculum lets kids learn at their own pace.
  • Multi-sensory reading games that children find engaging.
  • Based on proven phonics-based approach.
  • Customizable for children ages 3 to 7.

Reasons why I recommend the Reading Raven App

What I appreciate most about the app is that in the beginning lessons, Reading Raven introduces very few sight words.   I also like  that Reading Raven has an emphasis on the letter sounds not the letter names.  In the early lessons most of the games are based on sounds.  Sounds are introduced a few at a time.

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You can configure different users and different levels for each user.

Ages 3 and Up
- Letter matching
- Letter tracing
- Letter recognition
- Word matching

Ages 4 and Up
- Vocabulary
- Word beginnings
- Word building (spelling)
- Word spotting

Ages 5 and Up
- Reading aloud using voice recording
- Word tracing
- Word groups (rhyming and beginning sounds)

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Be sure to check out Reading Raven.

Fix for iPad 2 iOS 7 wifi droping

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The iPad 2 has been a great tablet.  I have had little issues with the iPad including connecting to wifi networks.  Unfortunately that seems to have changed with the update to iOS 7.  I really didn’t want to update my iPad 2 to the latest OS but unfortunately my iPad broke. I had to send it the iPad away to be fixed. When th iPad came back from repair it was updated to ios7 and that seems to be when the problems started.  Ever since the repair I have had problems with my iPads wifi connection.  The iPad 2 would loose the wifi connection or it would the connection would be very slow.  I tried a number of changes to my router based on some Apple forums but none of them seemed to fix my problems.  If I restarted the iPad things would work for a little while but then the problems would came back.  Resseting the wifi setting seemed to work temporarily but  I was getting tired of always resetting the wifi.

Finally I decided it was time to update my wireless router.  I had read that a different router worked for some people.  I hate the idea of changing hardware just so my iPad 2 works but If I could find a good cheap router it would be worth it instead of sending my iPad back to Best buy and being without an iPad for 18 days!

I found a new western Digital router that allowed two USB hard drives to be connected to it.  This would also help my storage limitations on the iPad.  So I gave it a try.

Results:
It seems to work!  One of the reasons why a different router seems to make the difference is the 5 MHz band.  Apparently my old router only used the 2.4 GHz band.  With my new router I named the two networks with 2.4 and 5 in the names so I could tell what connection each device used.  I was surprised that the iPad preferred the 5 GHz band while my iPhone 4S preferred the 2.4 GHz band.  My guess is that the iPad 2 had some issue with 2.4 GHz and possibly has something to do with iOS 7 update.

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Not only did the new router seem to fix my iPad 2 wifi connection problems but it also has the potential to fix my iPad storage issue. The router has two USB ports which I hope to use as a cloud storage solution for the iPad. I hope to write more about it in the next few days.

iPad drawing app to create outline maps

The iPad is one of the easiest ways to create digital artwork.  One way I use the iPad for homeschooling is to customize maps or to create a map outline using a drawing app.   I use the SketchBook Pro for iPad app, but you can also use the free sketchbook express app.  The only requirement for creating an outline map is that the drawing app has the ability to create layers.

To create an outline map just search for any map picture.  Import that picture to your drawing app.  Create a blank layer over the picture.  Then you can trace the main map details on your outline map.20140210-234306.jpg

Once you have your outline then you simply delete the original map  layer and then save your outline map to your photo roll.  Now you can use the picture in a number of ways for school.  20140210-234320.jpg
Here are
more autodesk apps.

Skyfish Phonics app review

Sky Fish Phonics by Knowbility is an app that some would consider more of a fun review game than a teaching educational app.  It’s the closest app to a game that I have on the iPad. The goal of the game is to achieve different costumes for your fish. You get a new costume when you finish a level. You finish a level by shooting your fish through different obstacles.  Some of the obstacles require you to choose the right sound or match words with sounds.  The prize for finishing the level is a new costume for your fish.

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There are several settings you can change.20131224-201912.jpg

Overall my boys had fun playing this game however it seemed like there was more entertainment than learning.  I feel that the Phonics elements  to the game were better then some games that claim to be based on phonics.  Still I would recommend this game for reinforcing phonics but I would not use the app for a new learner.

Smartphone spelling list

If you have a smartphone then you probably carry it with you most if the time. Here is a tip for homeschool spelling word lists. I use my iphone to keep a spelling list for each of my kids. Any time my daughter asks how to spell a word, I pull out my iPhone and add the word to the list. This also helps me ensure I am spelling the word right. Below is a picture of the list for my son.

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If there is a word my children spell wrong when they write, I also add it to their list. I can add words from the list to thier spelling words for the week.
Hope this helps. If you have anything that helps I would love to here from you.

SchoolhouseTeachers online learning

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I am really excited about a new online learning resource called SchoolhouseTeachers. It is a website chalked full of resources for all your homeschooling needs. It is basically an online curriculum that you can access on your computer or tablet. The brains behind Schoolhouse Teachers website are the same that produce the Old Schoolhouse magazine.

With so much information online, sometimes I end up wasting time looking for school ideas or worksheets for school lessons. With SchoolHouseTeachers you do not have to waste your time looking for homeschooling resources.  SchoolHouseTeachers has resources for all school levels even high school.

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There are a number of resources you can print out like copy work from SchoolHouseTeachers online copybook library.  You can follow along with daily lesson plans or you can search for the subject you are teaching.  Daily lessons are organized for quick and easy access in the Dailies Archive.  There are numerous articles about art, homemaking and housekeeping, and nature.  There are also a number of ebooks.

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On the iPad

I tried out the SchoolHouseTeachers web site on the iPad and everything seems to work just like on the computer.  There are no interactive features for students but SchoolHouseTeachers is an excellent resource for Teachers and parents.

Membership

One of the best features though is the fact that you can get a free year long subscription to Schoolhouseteachers.com if you are a member of Homeschool Leagal Defense.  If you are a member of HSLDA then scoll to the bottom of the page and click on the PerX member discounts to learn how you can get year long access to SchoolHouseTeachers.com.

Stop homeschooling

Sometimes with homeschooling we can get so caught up with academics that we forget to give time for our kids to relax and think.  This video is an excellent reminder that our kids do not always learn like we expect them to learn and sometimes they need to learn on their own.

This presentation is from an autistic child that is pushing the lower bounds of age when it comes to college and theories.  Jacob Barnett is a mathematician and child prodigy. At age 10, Jacob was formally accepted to the University as a full-time college student.  He is world’s youngest astrophysics researcher.

You can see from the video why some label him as ADHD and thought he should be in special education.  Thankfully his mother believed in him. You can read about how Jacobs mom helped him reach his genius potential in her book The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing, Genius, and Autism.Jacob’s mom Kristine, resolved to follow Jacob’s “spark”—his passionate interests. She decided to focus on what Jacob could?

This also reminds me of the song “Blessing in disguise”.  Sometimes the would looks at autism as something negative, however there are some unique blessings.

 

Free digital Old Schoolhouse magazine

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Did you know that the Old Schoolhouse Magazine is now digital and it is free?

Occasionally we have had subscriptions in the past to the Old Schoolhouse magazine. I am also signed up for the email newsletter but somehow I missed the transition to digital.

Since the magazine is no longer in print (except as a yearly volume) The Old Schoolhouse stared a special online education portal. It is called SchoolhouseTeachers. Not only is the Old schoolhouse digital magazine free but you can try out Schoolhouse Teachers for a year free if you are a homeschool legal defense member!

The digital version of the Old Schoolhouse magazine is like typical magazine. You can scroll through different volumes. It looks like the archives go back quite a ways but I quit looking at 2010 issues. Navigation in the magazine app is not the most fluid experience but it works OK. There is also a search function that could help find a specific topic.

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Why you shouldn’t let your kids play on the iPad

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It finally happened – my iPad’s front glass got cracked. You would think I would have learned my lesson about letting kids play unsupervised with my iPad, since my wife’s phone got fried
by our two year old. I am surprised it did not happen sooner. I have let the kids use the iPad for the last two years so I guess I was getting complacent.

This is how it happened:
My older son was trying to get my five year old to come for dinner. He was trying to get my son to stop playing on the iPad. Somehow the iPad dropped on a paint can! That’s right a paint can that just happened to be in the living room.
Even though I don’t have any “games” installed on the iPad my five year old would play on the iPad every hour if he could. since the screen got cracked I decided to I put a password lock on the home screen so he can’t play on it without our permission.
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I was surprised the iPad still worked with the broken digitizer. It looks like just the glass was broken but unfortunately you have to replace the whole iPad digitizer assembly which is very difficult. Thankfully I paid extra to add the accidental insurance from Best Buy. I just dropped it off today to be repaired.
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This is now my second device
that has been damaged by little children. Now I am a firm believer in mobile device insurance.
What do you think about kids and mobile devices? How do you protect your tablet?

Using the iPad and tablets for homeschool.

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