Outside The Box Homeschooling

A site to help moms teach their "outside the box" kids.

Resurrection Garden

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Moving Site

I am sorry to have to ask this of my subscribers.  In order to offer more features for you, I am having to move the site to a self hosted site.  Outsidetheboxhomeschooling.com is now up and running.  Please go to the new site and enter your emails.  I will leave this site up for a few weeks, and then it will be deleted.  All new posts, giveaways, etc will be added at the new site.  Thank you.

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Spaceboards by NeoLithix

I am REALLY excited about this product!!!  OK, it’s a sneaky way to push my “In the Box”, workbook loving, friends over to the “DARK SIDE”!!!!!

These workbooks are really nicely done.  They also are yet another extremely economical option for iPad homeschool users.  Each workbook is only $1.99, or you can buy the whole grade level curriculum for $19.99.  They load into a free app that you download from the app store.  Each grade level can be purchased from the app store, but if you would like samples or individual books, you need to visit their website.  Once items are purchased from the website, they automatically show up in your app.  I did find that the refresh button in the app doesn’t refresh your account like I assumed.  You do need to log out and back into the app in order for your new purchases to show up.   Oh, and I appreciate that they had the tutorials already made and available on youtube.  You can visit youtube to view more videos on their products.

At first glance, I thought that the workbooks were a bit low in skill level, but after more review, I think they are right on track.  I am a hard one to please when it comes to grammar and language arts curriculum.  I do find that I would like a workbook format for this subject.  I am excited to try this product for Sweet Pea and will update you on how well it works for her.  Oh, and I appreciate that they had the tutorials already made and available on youtube.  You can visit youtube to view more videos on their products.

For more information on their products, visit http://www.space-boards.com

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Digital Workbooks Tutorial

 Several publishers are offering their workbooks in pdf format.  What does that mean?  It means they load perfect to the iPad!  By using the Type on PDF app to open the workbook, the students can write, type, highlight, etc. directly on the workbook pages.  This is awesome as it reduces one more book you need to add to the pile as you homeschool on the go!!!!  I am hoping that Critical Thinking Co. will offer all their products in this format, but for now, I will just demonstrate the app using a couple of pages from their sample e-book.  You can purchase their products at http://www.criticalthinking.com

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Map Trek- Ancient World by Knowledge Quest Inc. and iHomeEducator Inc.

Map Trek- Ancient World is an excellent app to go along with any ancient history curriculum or Bible study.  I am currently using it alongside The Mystery of History Vol.1.  I have managed to get my Wondermaps to partially open on the iPad, but this is the only one I have found that is made for iPad and covers similar information.

Map Trek does differ from Wondermaps.  Wondermaps is basically fabulous atlas that allows you to change the items desired on the line maps.  Map Trek is a timeline.  Along the timeline, are maps covering different topics.  For instance, they have one entitled “Abraham’s Journey”.  This map shows Abraham’s journey from Haron and ends just above Egypt.  Along the way, different towns and cities of interest have what looks like little push pins.  You can click on these push pins and pictures of the location expand in a separate box.  It tells a little bit about the significance of the location along with a picture.  Some of the pictures are of ancient ruins and some show current pictures.  Three quizzes and a review are provided on the information included in the text boxes.

I found this app to be informative and interesting.  By providing the text boxes and quizzes, it makes this app more than just an atlas.  I believe that any time you can get the kids truly interested in geography, you have a winning teaching aid.  The pictures and additional information provide this piece to the puzzle.  Knowledge Quest has several other programs for the computer, but this is the only one currently formatted for the iPad.  The only negative comment I have about this app is that you can’t print out the maps.  I would also want to be able to change them to black and white maps before printing.  Overall, it is a great app.  (**** )

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Grammar Jammers by Reading Street

Gammar Jammers have several levels and are super cute and educational apps. They have fun and catchy songs to learn the parts of speech. After the songs are finished, they provide a review quiz where the child practices picking out the parts of speech. Sis thinks the songs are annoying, but mom thinks the songs help them to remember the parts of speech. I recommend this app to change up a grammar lesson and make a boring subject more fun. (**** )

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Geobee by The National Geographic

My mom bought this app for me so that I could study for the geography bee at our parent partnership.  I had won first place out of all the kids in my class and needed to study because I would be competing against kids up to eighth grade.  I like this app because it is easy to use, fun, and I think you learn a lot.

The game is divided up into 15 rounds.  There are three different types of rounds: the multiple choice challenge, the map challenge, and the photo bonus round.

  • For the multiple choice round, you have a big map and you have about a minute to answer the question.  The question might be, “Which of the following states has the largest desert region? A. Oklahoma B. Arizona C. West Virginia”.  You tap on one of the answers and either get it right or wrong.  If you answer correctly and tap B. Arizona, it will say you are correct and you will be awarded points.  If you answer incorrectly, like if you tap A. Oklahoma, it will say you are incorrect and you will be awarded no points.  There are five different questions in each multiple choice round.  You have to get a certain amount of points in each round in order to move on the next round.
  • In the map round, like the multiple choice round, you have a big map.  It will ask you were a city, a famous landmark, or some other location is on the map.  You can zoom in on the map to find places too.  Also, like the multiple choice round, you have about a minute to find the location and tap on it and if you find the correct location you will be awarded points. If you don’t tap on the correct location, you will be awarded no points.  In this round you also have to get a certain amount of points in order to move on to the next round.
  • In the last round, the photo bonus round, like the others, you have a big map and you are shown a picture.  You have to look at the stuff in the picture very carefully, because there might be a clue in the picture as to where the picture was taken.  For example, you might be shown a picture of a town and if you look closely you can see the Eiffel Tower in the distance.  So you know that the town is at least around Paris, France.

I really like this app because you kind of learn about every thing that has to do with geography. You learn where the different major cities are, and you learn what kind of climate different places have, because it might ask you “Which of the following states is hottest in the summer?”. It also sometimes tells you where big earthquakes or hurricanes happened. I don’t think there is really anything that I don’t like about this app, but I know that it is an awesome app. I played it a lot and it really helped me study. Well, I got third place and I was competing against fifth graders to eighth graders, so I think it helped. I can definitely say that this app deserves 5 stars! (*****)

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Are iPads an economical option for homeschooling?

I truly believe that iPads are a great investment for homeschooling. The initial investment may seem daunting, but there are a few things to consider.

The iPad3 has just been released. When the iPad2 released, Best Buy had an incredible sale on the first generation iPad. We unfortunately missed the sale, or I would have picked another one up. Sis saved up to buy her own. This can be a great opportunity to teach your kids about finances and saving to make large purchases. We were able to find her a 64G iPad on Craigslist for $550 including the cover and screen savers. They are very easy to return to factory settings. The initial owner has to do this for you using their Apple ID and password, so I was comfortable that it was not stolen. The economy has provided the frugal shopper with some killer deals if they take the time to look for them. They also provide a portable homeschooling tool at a fraction of the price of a laptop.

Games and apps are extremely economical for the iPad. We have purchased several for $1-$5 that other parents have commented run $45 for a Nintendo DS. Many apps are free. These are great for providing educational variations to your homeschool day, and are easy to take along to appointments. Kindle has so many free books that my library is overflowing. I will note that the Kindle library doesn’t work in the iPad app.

Publishers generally run their promotions in e-book or download format. I have received more free curriculum than potentially the cost of both iPads. Anything that is published in pdf format works perfectly on the iPad. These include ebooks, unit studies, and actual textbooks are now being published as well in pdf and iPad app formatting.

I am not sure how to place a value on the space and reduction in mess that an iPad saves. I can download worksheets and some workbooks, which they can complete on the iPad without having to print them. By doing digital workbooks and notebooking, there is an additional saving in ink and paper.

I have been very happy with how well the iPad has fit into our homeschool. I am very frugal, ok a penny pincher, and have been pleased with this investment. I find that I really enjoy teaching off the iPad, and it allows me to use e-book and pdf formatted curriculum without being gathered around the extremely ancient iMAC that was given to us by my husband’s IT friend. He was tired of removing viruses from our PC that plagued us homeschooling.

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Frog Dissection by Emantras Inc


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Here’s another “Outside the Box Homeschooling” way to use an iPad app.  I love the frog dissection app by Emantras Inc.  This app has amazing information, animation, and educational value.

  • Part one is an animation of the frog life cycle.  You can scroll your finger over the egg causing it to develop through the different stages until it reaches the young frog stage.
  • Part two is entitled:  All About Frogs.  It covers classification, appearance, eating and living, special senses, life cycle, digestive system, organs, ecosystem, and a comparison between frogs and toads.
  • Part three compares humans to frogs.
  • Part four gives detailed directions for the wet lab process in dissecting the frog.
  • Part five is a quiz covering the information.
  • Part six is a 3D virtual frog dissection simulation.  For those of you who don’t want to actually dissect the frogs, this is pretty awesome.  We used this part during our frog dissection for directions.  It was much easier to follow than the illustrated directions.
  • Part six includes great animated videos of frog life.
  • Part seven covers different types of frogs. When you click on the type of frog, it allows you to turn it all around, so you can get a 360 degree view of it.  Pretty cool.
  • Part eight contains two interactive activities on the digestive and respiratory systems.  The app says that they will be adding more interactive activities soon.
  • There also is a button that says, “Start Dissection”.  This section walks you step by step through the dissection process with very clear written and animated instructions.

This app is one of the more expensive apps I have purchased.  I believe it runs around $8.  (Once you have purchased an app, it no longer tells you the cost.)  I will have to say that it is a thorough study of frogs and constitutes a complete unit study.  It does also have a secular world view.  We teach Creation Science at our house, but I also expose my kids to other views and we discuss why we believe or do not believe certain ideas.  The quality of this app was so incredible, I felt is was worth the discussion.  We used it as a unit study in conjunction with the frog dissection kit from homesciencetools.com.  My children thoroughly enjoyed this unit study and the dissection lesson. (*****)

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ReadMe by 8interactive

ReadMe is one of my favorite apps for read alongs. The app is free and comes with a few included books. You then can buy additional collections. It is a great bang for the buck. Typically, you can buy an average of 10-15 additional books for $0.99. They have quite a few series to choose from.

What do I love about these besides the price? They have a setting to either have the app read to the child, or have the child read it for themselves. The person reading the books uses all sorts of great voices. These are not volunteer readers that are dull and boring, and these books have amazing graphics to go with them. Each book is truly adorable and could used with either boys or girls.

My only complaint with this app is that I would prefer that it highlights the words as they are read. All in all, that is a pretty minor complaint and I think this is one of the best read along apps for the price. (*****)

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