Which 2020 iPad is right for you

Well, another new (actually 2) iPads are here for 2020.  The new iPad Air and the new iPad 8th generation. With the new iPad Air becoming the smaller version of the iPad pro with a screen.  Of course, both new iPads come with new processors.

Which iPad

First, are you in the market for a new iPad?  How old is your iPad? Is it several years old?  Apple has figured out that an iPad does not need to be updated every year so there are no big changes in 2020.  It is quite obvious that if you bought a new iPad last year (7th generation or iPad Air ) then you have no real reason to update this year. The biggest change is that the iPad air now is similar to the 11″ iPad Pro and the 2020 iPad is similar to last year’s iPad Air. For homeschoolers, there does not seem to be any reason the get the smaller Pro.  Here are the new 2020 iPads.

The biggest advantage to the 2020 iPad Air might be the USB C port. This could possibly allow storage options like USB C hard drives. You would also need a new Apple Pencil and keyboard. For most cost conscience homeschoolers the 2020 iPad Air price is not worth it. I would recommend the 2020 iPad or if you see a good deal on last year’s iPad Air that would also be a good option but only if it’s less than the $329 2020 iPad or has more memory.

Here is a comparison of the new 2020 iPad with last year’s iPad Air.

So there you have it. This year you can basically get last year’s iPad Air for only $329.

What do you think? Which iPad will you buy? If I were you I would watch apples refurbished iPad Air from last year here if you can get one with more memory at around $329.

Here are the two I would recommend.

Time Travelers World War II Review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Products like the Time Travelers U.S. History World War II Study from Home School in the Woods makes it easy to add hands-on history to our studies.  I was very excited to use this study with two of my boys.  Keep reading to see how it went.

What are Time Travelers U.S. History Studies

First, what is Home School in the Woods Time Traveler study?  Each study is a series of pdf’s that can be used for your history study of a particular time period or activities to supplement your history curriculum.  There are two basic activities that are provided with the study – A notebook and a Lapbook.  The notebook provides craft activities, copywork, a timeline, and short snippets of history in the study.  Most of the pdfs will require you to print out however there are also pdf lesson texts to go along with each lesson.  In total, the study I reviewed, World War II, had 25 lessons.

While we reviewed the World War II study, Home School in the woods has many other studies like Colonial life, Civil War that cover the standard US history periods. In addition to Time Travelers U.S. History Studies, there are numerous other studies available from Home School in the Woods.  For instance, now would be a great time to check out the U.S. Elections Lap-Pak which is studies the US elections which allows your student to follow along with the upcoming elections.

How we used Time Travelers U.S. History Studies

I was so excited to be able to review World War II study with my boys since they have been begging me to study World War II.  I also enjoy learning about World War II so it was also exciting for me.

There are numerous projects you can do with your students.  You can do as many or a few as you like.  We used the study as a unit study for World War II.  I really like the variety of projects provided by Home School in the Woods.  There were variations you could do that involve different amounts of work.  Since we are still working on cursive I chose to have my boys do the cursive copywork that was tracing as shown in the picture below.

Most of the projects involved printing and cutting out paper.  Your students can color the projects or you can just use colored paper when you print out the projects.  The timeline is especially helpful as you study different events.

Use on the iPad.

Initially, I was going to put all the lesson texts on the iPad so I could just read them from the iPad instead of my computer or printing off.  So I added some of the pdfs to my iBook library.

Then I could access the pdf’s from my iPad since my books are on iCloud.  (You may need to have later versions of iOS for this to work.)

I found out due to the iPad screen size and my eyesight getting worse that the texts were not as easy to read on the iPad.  This was due to not being able to increase the font size on the pdf.  It would have been nice if there was an iBook for all the text that could utilize increasing the text size.  What I did find worked well on the iPad was to put all the instructions for the projects on the iPad.  Then I could just pull up the instructions on the iPad for reference while my boys were working on the projects.  The picture below shows what one fo the project instructions looked like on the iPad.

Overall my boys and I loved the Time Travelers World War II study from Home School in the Woods.  We loved the projects and the lesson texts that you read for each lesson.  The only thing I didn’t like was all the different pdf documents but all the content and projects were excellent.  (The advantage to individual pdf’s is that you only need to download what you need to the iPad to minimize storage issues since there are a lot of pdfs with the study.) All the lessons were well organized so you could easily find what you needed for each lesson.  If you are looking for a History curriculum or projects to supplement your history curriculum I would highly recommend the time travelers series from Home School in the woods.

We reviewed the World War II study but others reviewed different Home School in the Woods studies. Click on the link below to read more Home School in the Woods reviews.

Election Lap-Pak, Benjamin Franklin, Timeline Collection, Time Travelers U.S.History and Make-A-State Activity-Pak {Home School in the Woods Reviews}

Reading Unlocked Reading Program review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

My son is loving the online reading program Reading Unlocked.  The lessons are short and provide many different ways to practice reading.  The lessons are only 10 minutes a day and he has no complaints when we work on reading with Reading Unlocked.  Since I have lots of boys, I am always looking for good phonics-based reading programs.  I feel like my son is actually learning better with the Reading Unlocked program than other programs we have used.  I was especially excited Reading Unlocked works on an iPad. Keep reading to see how our review went.

What is Reading Unlocked

Reading Unlocked is an online subscription program for teaching reading. The Reading Unlocked program works on a computer or an iPad using an internet web browser.  Reading Unlocked only takes 10 minutes a day.  To get started you choose the reading level your child is ready for based on three different lines of text shown in the picture below.  The first level is for beginning readers.  The second level is for readers who know almost all the letter sounds and three-letter words along with some blends.  The last level is the highest level and introduces more complex blends and long vowel sounding words.

The Reading Unlocked program should only take about 10 minutes a day.  There are several different exercises you do with your child.  To start a new sound or blend is introduced.  There are status dots at the top to show you how much is left for the lesson.

Several words are introduced with the lesson sound or blend.  Each letter sound (or blend) is sounded out individually and then the sounds are sounded out together in the whole word.  This is especially helpful for my son who has auditory issues.

Many different exercises are used to practice the lesson sounds.  The picture below shows the exercise where the student changes the word by switching out one of the sounds.  For example below you are supposed to turn nest into chest by moving the ch blend over the n.

The picture below shows where the student chooses the picture that matches the word.

All the exercises were at the level that my son would not get discouraged.  The picture below shows another exercise with the words learned.  Each line as a few additional words plus the other words which reinforces what they just learned.

The last exercise has a poem to read and the student reads the highlighted words.  I initially didn’t really like this but my son really seemed to like it. After the lesson is complete you can see the words learned and the days you have completed a lesson.

How we used reading unlocked

Because Reading Unlocked works on the iPad, I found it easy to help my son who is learning to read before bed in his room.  With the iPad and Reading Unlocked you can work on learning to read anywhere.  The only issue with using it before bed is then its hard to write out some of the words he is learning as the program says.  I wish there was a worksheet or a list of words that I could download and help him practice writing the words he is learning.  You are supposed to write the words on a separate sheet of paper during the lesson, but if you don’t have writing materials handy you may not remember what words your child is supposed to practice writing.  I usually try and take a screenshot of the words he is supposed to write out, and then I make a worksheet for him to practice later.  

Since my son has been reading simple words for awhile I started him off on the second level.  My son did pretty fine until some of the lessons used blends like ch and sh which he hasn’t learned yet.  Even though he had not learned those blends he did ok after I explained how the blend sounded.  Later I realized that those blends were introduced in the last several lessons for the first level.  In the settings you can change what level and what lesson to work on.  I tried several lessons until I found the ones where the blends started.  I had him work on those earlier lessons so I could make sure he understood those blends.

I only used the program with one of my children.  While I did not see a way to add individual students, you can use it with multiple children by changing the level and the lesson in the settings.  It would be nice if you could add another child, but it’s not that big of an issue.  Once you start using the program you get a feel for where your child should be at. Overall the Reading Unlocked program is very effective for teaching reading.  When I asked my son what he liked about Reading Unlocked he said, “I am learning more.”  I was surprised he said that, but I really feel like he is learning more.  The program is just enough for him to learn without being overwhelmed.  

Is it right for your child?

If your child struggles with your current reading program or complains about learning to read then I would recommend you give Reading Unlocked a try.  Reading Unlocked is especially good for homeschool parents who have limited time to help their child learn to read. Reading Unlocked is especially good if your child struggles with reading.  As a homeschool dad with lots of boys I recommend Reading Unlocked to teach your child to read.  I especially love that Reading Unlocked works on the iPad so we can work on it anywhere in the house.

My son really thinks Reading Unlocked is helping him learn to read better. Other families used this product too so be sure to check out their reviews by clicking on the banner below.

Reading Unlocked {Reading Unlocked Reviews}

How to create great video memories on the iPhone and iPad

While I’d like to think someday I’ll be a great videographer that probably won’t happen anytime soon. Thankfully the memories section in the iOS photos app has you covered. Apart from a few quirks, the memories app will help you quickly put together your favorite memories into a nice video.  You can quickly create awesome movies to preserve your memories using just the iOS photos app. Here is a quick guide on using the photos app to make a video memory.

How to get to the memories app

  1. Open the photos app
  2. At the bottom select the second icon labeled memories
  3. There will be several memory videos already created.


How to customize

You have to play the memory video first before you can customize or edit the Memories movie.  If the video looks exactly like you want and the music is to your liking, then you can go on to the steps below to preserve this Memories video.  Otherwise you can edit the the video by selecting the “Edit” link in the upper right hand corner.

(in iOS 10 it will be a small icon with lines on the bottom right) .The easiest edits are to change the Mood of the music and change the length of the video as shown above.  You can set the movie length to short, medium, or long.  You can also change the music to dreamy, sentimental, gentle, chill, happy, uplifting, epic, club, or extreme.  The photos Memories app will automatically update the movie with your new choice.

Choose more pictures or videos

The app does a pretty good job choosing pictures, but what happens if you have a picture in your Memory video that you don’t want? You can choose not to include some of the pictures or videos in the memories video.  You can also add more pictures and videos to your Memories movie. 

Select the Photos & Videos to edit what pictures are used in the Memories video.  You can scroll along the bottom to see all the pictures included in your Memories video.  Tap on the picture or video you want to edit.  You can change the length of the video clip or you can remove the picture or video by putting it in the trash.  (It does not delete the picture on your iPhone or iPad)

 

You can also add more pictures by pressing the + sign at the bottom left.

Edit title and song choice

Now that you have the pictures you want you can edit the title and song.  You can either choose from Apples song Soundtracks or music you have saved from iTunes on your iPhone or iPad.

How to save and export video memories

Since the Memories movies are always changing you need to preserve your favorite memories so they won’t get changed or removed.  To preserve the memory movie scroll to the bottom of all the pictures and then select “Add to Memories”.

 

Having finalized the memories video I highly recommend you export and save your video. Ideally you would think the logical export option would be iMovie but alas I was dearly disappointed. You can indeed export to iMovie but there is little you can do since the whole memory is exported as a video. To save your Memories movie file press the box with the up arrow at the bottom of the screen where you edit the Memories movie.

You now have several options on how you want to export your Memories video.


https://support.apple.com/en-us/ht207023

P.S. Memory movies only work on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Apple TV. You won’t see Memory movies on your Mac (for now).

5 reasons why I updated to the new 2017 iPad

ipad-2017I am back with the new iPad! I had kind of fallen off the tablet bandwagon recently. It was partly due to having a new baby two years ago! I have been so busy that haven’t updated this blog in a long time!
My iPad 2 had a broken screen which I successfully replaced! Yay! However, I damaged the wifi antenna and my thirty pin connector had become difficult to connect to the computer. This limited the usefulness of the iPad 2. Thankfully Best Buy gave me about $50 for it!
Here are five reasons why I bought the new 2017 iPad:

  • Price: While the new 2017 iPad is not the cheapest Tablet it is cheaper than my previous iPad 2. Also there was a $30 discount which brought the price down to $300.
  • Storage: The 16 GB iPad just doesn’t work anymore. I was constantly having to manage my storage on the iPad 2. The base storage on the cheapest 2017 iPad is 32 GB. While that still is not humungus for a tablet but it is double the storage of my old iPad. Now I have enough storage to keep some downloaded movies on the iPad for traveling and still download multiple apps and other storage hog items.
  • Smaller size: It was appealing to have a slightly smaller iPad but keep the same screen size. I like my iPad mini but the screen is a little small for some tasks. The newer iPads have nice form factor. Since I mostly use a protector the smaller bezel isn’t an issue.
  • Multitasking with iOS 11: I never realized how wonderful multitasking is since it never worked on my iPad 2. Even with iOS 10 multitasking on the iPad is wonderful. You can actually type and have a book or web page pulled up in split view. The upcoming iOS 11 multitasking update really shows that the iPad can be used for serious work.
  • Swift Playgrounds: Since Apple announced Swift Playgrounds to help learn coding I have been intrigued. The app would not work on my old iPad 2 so I could never evaluate it. Now that I have the 2017 iPad I can run the swift playground app. The Swift playgrounds app helps you learn programming for free!

What do you think? Is the new 2017 iPad worth the update?

Five Best Innovative iPad Accessories for Homeschooling

The iPad is currently one of the most popular platforms of entertainment favored by both kids and adults. However, apart from its function as a platform for amusement, Apple’s famed tablet is now also being used as a tool for education at home.

There are literally hundreds of apps today that specifically target homeschooled boys and girls. Learning site Te@chthought has listed 40 iPad apps for homeschooled students, which are perfect for kids aged 4 and up.

However, despite the number of amazing homeschooling apps that could very well replace traditional school lessons for growing children, the iPad is as only good as its accessories. Without the proper accessories to accompany it, a homeschool teacher wouldn’t be able to utilize Apple’s tablet to its full potential. So aside from tablet cases, here are 5 essential accessories that are needed for teaching kids at home:

Twelve South Compass Mobile Stand

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(courtesy of smokingapples.com)

The problem with most tablet stands is that they only allow the device to rest either in portrait or landscape mode. This is where the  Twelve South Compass Mobile Stand  comes in, allowing you to view the tablet in any orientation you want. Homeschooling shouldn’t reflect traditional schools where learning is mostly done on a desk. Rather, homeschooling should adjust depending on the situation and the Twelve South Compass Mobile Stand is perfect for that.

The beauty about this stand is that it is easy to set-up: all you need to do is fold out its legs and the two iPad supports. If you want to switch into typing mode, just fold out the secondary leg at the back.

Li9184319087_7431b04e9f_zfeProof Waterproof iPad Nuud Case

 (courtesy of Cristina Go)

When homeschooling demands a field trip to the ocean, it’s best to seal the iPad with a waterproof case to prevent it from wearing out. The LifeProof Waterproof iPad Nuud Case  is an amazing accessory because it seals the iPad completely. It comes with Nuud’s naked screen technology, which inhibits air gap to interfere with the touch navigation.

Apple TV
5545913383_a7b3c2af75_z-1(courtesy of Bfishadow)

The Apple TV is a great accessory for homeschool teachers who don’t want to tether their tablet like a traditional school projector or podium. It is a digital media receiver that delivers lectures and presentations wirelessly with the help of the AirPlay feature.  This medium comes in handy when you conduct film viewings, stream podcasts, and watch documentaries to more than two kids at home.

Don’t be fooled by Apple TV’s single core A5 chip. Even though it lacks in speed compared to the ultrafast processing power of newer smartgadgets such as Apple’s very own iPhone 6 or competitor Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4’s, Apple TV can still deliver a seamless and high-quality streaming.

Brydge Keyboard With Speakers
7138536257_6e405c67e8_o(courtesy of karmelka66)

Even the most tech-savvy teachers find it troublesome to type on a touchscreen for long periods of time. Hence, our list would not be complete without an external keyboard to go along with the iPad. Perhaps the best keyboard to use is the Brydge iPad Keyboard with Speakers, which makes iPads look like laptops. The keyboard is finished with a matte coating, wherein two rubber bumpers are mounted on the front to prevent the screen to interact with the keys. The rubber feet at the bottom are an essential feature, preventing the tablet from sliding off the keyboard while resting on a flat surface.

Magnetic MiStand
stand

 

 

 

 

(courtesy of Cult of Mac)

If you want to dedicate a certain part of the house as a “Virtual Learning Corner,” you can place your iPad on that space and snap it with the Magnetic MiStand. According to  Cult of Mac, the tablet stand employs a magnetic ball to hold the iPad in place. You can allow kids to go to the corner in groups of three or four as the stand rotates to any angle, thanks to the ball and socket joint held by magnets. As it uses a nano-suction mechanism, the MiStand becomes applicable to other devices such as the Kindle Fire and Wacom graphic tablets.

While you need to shell out some money to have these accessories, it can’t be denied the amount of assistance they offer in homeschool learning.

 

@WrittenbyJenni