Outside The Box Homeschooling

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

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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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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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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Meet Sis

It occurred to me today that I have been missing a great opportunity. I happen to have a ten year old at my disposal who uses the iPad and the apps everyday. She also happens to be a pretty decent writer. What does every homeschool mom look for? Learning experiences that we can count as school. I was pretty impressed with my idea, so I would love to hear you weigh in on how brilliant it really is. My thought is to enlist her to help me review apps. It will provide you with an inside look as to how the kids really like the apps, and we as parents can weigh in on their educational value. Most of the ones that I really like are the ones that provide the features we need, but are easy enough for my kids to use without becoming frustrated. These are the true five star winners in my book. So I look forward to reading what she really thinks, and counting it for writing. Oh, by the way, this kid had an opinion while she was still in the womb… So don’t be afraid that she won’t tell you exactly what she thinks!

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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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My favorite apps

What are my favorite apps? I get this question all of the time. There are too many to count that I really love.

Reading apps
Story Mouse and ReadMe are my favorites for read alongs. ReadMe has shorter stories, but is very economical and a definite bang for the buck. Story Mouse has longer stories and are read by great readers. They both can be played with or without the audio portion.

Kindle and iBooks are a must. Both are free apps and are vital to storing the mounting library of books. This was another goal of the iPad for me. My bookshelf is full!!! I am still finding that the books needed for living book literature packs are not always available in digital formatting. The other issue to look at is resaling the literature packs. Are you going to keep them or resale them? Digital formatting may, or may not be the best option for literature packs. I am choosing for our family, to find as many of their literature pack books used as possible, and then place holds at the library for the rest. We will see how that works out next year.

Good Reader is the only app I have found that unzips zip files. It runs about $4.99, but is needed to unzip many of the publisher’s unit studies. It has a huge number of features, but I find it too complicated for the children, and myself to use. I typically unzip the file, and then move it to another pdf reading app.

Art apps
We have way to many art apps on our iPad. There are numerous ones to try. Crayola has an animated, coloring page app that is fun. We have found that their stylus is hard to color with due to it being so big. Our favorite art app is ArtSet. I love ArtSet. It has the most features, and is NOT complicated to use. The fun thing about this app is that you can import any pdf into the app and color on it. A function of the iPad, you might not have discovered, (My 9 year old enlightened me the other day.) is the ability to take a picture of the screen. So for instance, I have a digital subscription to Artistic Nature Magazine. The premise of the magazine is that you download it and then print out the assigned color pages, which the children then follow the directions to pain or color in the style of the artist. I couldn’t figure out how to get the pages from iBooks to ArtSet. My daughter discovered that if you load the page and take a picture of the screen, it loads perfectly to ArtSet. They also can then save their works of arts, and load them into Type on PDF for digital notebooking.

Type on Pdf is my all time favorite app. This app allows you to load any of the curriculum worksheets or notebooking pages that come in pdf formatting right into the app. They can then type the answers in the blanks, add text boxes, pictures, or write using the pen tool right on the worksheet. This allows you to turn virtually any unit study into a digital notebook. I will be doing another post on this topic.

These are my current favorite apps, but I promise to do a more in depth review of apps.

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